Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Honoring Each Other

Last night, I had a wonderful evening watching the Kennedy Center honors.  This year Meryl Streep, Barbara Cook, Sonny Rollins, Neil Diamond and Yo Yo Ma were honored.  Each was very gracious and appreciative of the honor and the performances highlighting their expertise.  But I saw something that directly contrasted with an experience earlier in the day.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

What About Mercy?

Galatians 1:3 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,

When you go to the beginning of each of Paul’s epistles, you’ll find this phrase. But there are three epistles where it varies. Both letters to Timothy and the one to Titus. Each mentions those persons by name and adds mercy to the list. If you think about it, the reasoning is pretty easy to figure out.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

To You Is Born Today...

Luke 2:11 For to you is born today, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

In this Christmas season, we hear that verse often. It’s interesting that the human mind tends to create blocks of thought, categories. And, come December, we think of all the ramifications of that verse and separate it from the rest of Christ’s earthly existence, as if that’s actually possible in reality. My pastor shared some things in a recent service that highlighted that fact for me. And got me to do a little more research.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Grace Be To You

1Corinthians 1:3-4 Grace be to you, and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God always on your behalf for the grace of God given you in Jesus Christ,

I love that thought. Some variation of verse 3 is repeated toward the very beginning of all of Paul’s epistles. Paul was always wishing the best for those around him. Have you ever wondered why he says those words so often? I’ve thought about it. And here’s what I see.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

In the Moment

time_flies-Luke_Griffin
James 4:14b For what is your life? For it is a vapor, which appears for a little time, and then disappears.

When I saw that picture by Luke Griffin, the first thing I noticed was the clouds.  They look like they’re rushing towards the horizon.  It made me think of that point in future history when everything moves from time into eternity.  We never know when that will be, but all of time is rushing toward it.  That needs to be kept in mind.  And it highlights a precious reality.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Attend to Wisdom

Pro 2:1-2  My son, if you will receive my words and hide my commandments with you, so that you attend to wisdom, you shall extend your heart to understanding;

Wisdom and understanding.  There are some interesting things about those two things.
  • they temper your response,
  • they give you proper response,
  • they give you confidence to properly respond,
  • they take your response to new levels not otherwise possible.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Sufficient

2Co 12:9  And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the thought behind that verse.  Between discussions, thoughts shared and experiences, the principle is actively working in my life and heart.  In our last post, I talked about resistance.  But it strikes me that the greatest resistance to our moving forward with God is our own thought life and preconceptions.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Abide in No Greater Love‏

Here's another guest mini-post from Todd Parsons:

I am the vine, you are the branches: He that abides in Me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing...Jn.15:5.

This past Saturday I had the priviledge of knocking on doors in Springfield, Ma. with Pr. Don Benoit and Allen Columbe. This illustration came to mind as we spoke to those who opened their doors. Having plants in the house there is something we do repeatedly for them and that is we water them. If not they wither up. I likened it to our faith, belief, and trust.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Resist the Resistance

1Thessalonians 5:18  In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

I recently got into an online discussion with someone about that verse.  His statement was that we really aren’t supposed to be thankful for our trials, but the fact that God is present with us.  I responded that I didn’t think that God expected us to look forward to trials, but that He did want us to look for Him in the trials.  What I never realized was that we were both saying the same thing in different ways.  And, worse, how narrow and limited that statement is in human viewpoint.  Take a look at what I mean.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

On My Own–Part 5

The Dark Traveler

Mar 4:24  And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given.


We said , last time, that there was a way to avoid being run aground in spiritual shallows.  We’ve spent quite a bit of time dealing with how not to remain spiritually safe.  Now it’s time to look at how to safely navigate life.  The verse that starts the last post and this one summarizes it all.  But it's more detailed than that.  So, let's take a look.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

On My Own–Part 4

The Dark Traveler
Mark 4:24  And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given.

In the beginning post of this series, we said that the photograph at the beginning of each post in the series is the inspiration.  And it is.  Whether we’re intentionally false teachers, whether we preach incorrectly because we learned incorrectly, or if we’re part of the flock and misled by either of those types of leaders, we still have a way toward a different result than we see in that image.  So, look closely at the picture.  And let’s weave a storyline or two into that image and see where they take us.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

On My Own -- Part 3

The Dark Traveler 
1Timothy 4:16  Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. 


In the previous segment, we talked about false teachers.  False by choice.  False because their focus was on themselves and their own gain.  Instead of on God.  But that kind of teacher or leader is rare. Though, by their own need for wealth, power and attention, more in the spotlight than others.  So, what are we likely to see in most leaders?

Friday, November 25, 2011

On My Own -- Part 2

The Dark Traveler 
Isaiah 56:10-11  His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber.  Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter.

In Part 1, which really was an introduction to this series, we talked about man going astray and still considering the path we take as being clean, error free, righteous.  That dichotomy between reality and mental understanding comes from misunderstanding.  Either intentional or because of what we’ve been taught.  And what we’re mistaught is either out of honest error by the teacher or intentional deception.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

On My Own -- Part 1

The Dark Traveler 
You could probably write several novels and “how to” self help books based on this photograph.  It’s by Mary Kay and titled “The Dark Traveler”.  When it was posted, Mary mentioned in the discussion that the ship had been stuck there for a very long time and was a well known sight.  And that added dimension to my original thought, when I saw it.

Isaiah 53:6a  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way;

That’s the verse that ran through my mind as looked at Mary Kay’s photograph.  The ship sits there, a rust bucket going nowhere.  But, sometime in the past, there was a proud ship with a good captain and crew, doing whatever the ship was intended to do, on a regular basis.  At some point, they were misinformed or made a bad decision.  The result was the ship getting grounded in the shallows.  Stuck for very possibly a very long time, a ghost ship in the fog.  A compelling thought, though not pretty.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Seeking and Becoming

"God's love is never earned nor lost, loaned nor borrowed. It's available but it's invisible; it's present and it's perfect." -- Bob Goff


Matthew 6:33-34a  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.  Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.

"Great leaders don’t think less of themselves, they just think of themselves less." -- Mark Miller

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Destiny: Blessing or Curse?

“Destiny is for losers.  It’s just a stupid excuse to wait for things to happen instead of making them happen.” – Blair Waldorf

2Timothy 2:15-16  Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.  But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.
 
Marcelo Almeida shared that quote recently.  It may not seem to go with the Bible passage quoted.  But, thanks to an online conversation shortly after I saw the quote, I got to see how the two are intertwined.  And we’re going to look at that today.
 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Randomized on 11/15/11

Justin Lathrop quoted Jeff Goins as saying, “No one who changed the world did it by waiting for an audience.”  Think about that in relation to our previous post and what was said about partnering with God.  The quote speaks to part of the principle we discussed.  We know that God is both omnipotent and omniscient.  His power is such that He really doesn’t need any help.  Being all knowing, He’s aware that we usually need to be active participants in the process of our own blessing or we won’t appreciate what we get.  Since God loves us, He gives us the opportunity to jointly participate with Him in blessing ourselves.  So, there’s a lot of wisdom in one of Tim Schraeder’s tweets, yesterday, “Have you ever stopped to thank God for the opportunity to be doing what you do? Maybe you should. You are where you are for a reason.”  Worth remembering.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

This Will I Do

barnsunset
Luke 12:18  And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.

Neil Camara took the above picture.  It’s titled “The Burning Skies of Illinois”.  Seeing the picture brought to mind the passage that includes the above verse.  Think with me as we read further.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

….Not Your Thoughts

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. – Isaiah 55:8
 
That’s the verse we started our last post with. Along with a question about church use of resources.  Exactly where we want to begin today.  If you recall, the question was why churches, with millions (or more) in resources didn’t do more for the poor and the hungry and less for their own decor.  And there are a whole series of answers.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

My Thoughts are….

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. – Isaiah 55:8
 
There was an online discussion that began with the question about what would happen if churches with huge buildings with ornate decorations spent that money on the homeless and hungry, instead.  It was an intellectual exercise, a rhetorical question.  Not intended to point fingers.  You know, a verbal opinion poll.  My response changed that, in a way.
 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Depraved and Deprived or Blessed?

Jeremiah 17:9-10 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?  I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.
 
In the past several posts, we’ve looked at what John Maxwell described as a mindset of scarcity vs. a mindset of abundance.  Or whether the glass is half full or half empty.  We saw that thinking in terms of scarcity put the focus directly on ourselves and away from God. 
 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Blessed and Planted

Psalm 119:1-3 Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD.  Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.  They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways.
 
Those verses begin the October 22nd devotional in John C. Maxwell’s Leadership Promises for Every Day.  Mr. Maxwell points out that all 176 verses of Psalm 119 lift up the Word of God as the one thing that brings in stability to our lives, no matter what may be going on.  He suggests two reasons why this is important:
 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Full or Hungry?

Philippians 4:11-13  Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.  I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
 
In his September 22 leadership reading, John Maxwell quoted Thomas Jefferson as saying, “A candle loses nothing when it lights another candle.”  The reading in which he used that quote dealt with mindset.  And whether that mindset was one of assuming scarcity or of assuming abundance.  As leaders, we can share what we have by partnering with those we lead or we can withhold our resources because we don’t think there’s enough to share.  Which made me think of the verses that began this post.  And we’ll get to them in a moment.
 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

How Do I Measure...?

Here's another awesome guest minipost from Todd Parsons:

How do I measure myself today?  Maybe I haven't been too unkind to anyone or maybe not?  Maybe what I've done seems better than most or maybe not?  Maybe circumstances are flowing smoothly or maybe not? Here is the way to really measure myself.  With a ruler, a standard, a plumb line... 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Scrambled Interference

Revelation 3:22  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

An ear to hear.  Awhile back, we mentioned an audio trick used in noisy environments that uses white noise to deaden the impact of the environmental noise, lessening the possibility of strain, errors and accidents caused by the noisy environment.  There’s a related principle in something called a signal to noise ratio.  I first learned about it in regard to radio signals.  But it also relates to audio, light, colors, optics and pretty much anything you can think of.  Including spirituality.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Are We Together in Heavenly Places?

Ephesians 2:4-6  But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Chill Out!

Philippians 4:7  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
 
We hear that verse often enough.  Usually in application, out of context.  There’s nothing wrong with that, except I think we really miss the full impact of what God is telling us.  More often than not, that verse gets abused by drawing us into thinking that either it’s some magical state that we might fall into or that it’s something we need to strive for.  Until we study it in context.  Take a look.
 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Grace Is Sufficient, Part 2

Matthew 18:23-35 is the passage we focused on in our last post.  The debtor forgiven by his king of a huge debt.  When I shared how that one fit me, it was before my pastor spoke on that very same passage, Sunday morning.  Which makes me think that parable is very much on God’s heart, right now.  My pastor shared some great insights and I’ve seen a few more things.  They’re worth thinking about.  We all need to grow.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Grace Is Sufficient, Part 1

2Co 12:8-9 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.  And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
 
We all know about Paul’s “thorn in the flesh”.  There are different theories about the exact nature of Paul’s tribulation.  But it’s pretty clear that God’s plan was to keep Paul focused on Him instead of thinking that Paul could credit himself for some of the things God was working in and through him.  I recently had an experience that brought this home to me.  Let me share it with you.
 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Train Up a Child....

Once again, a guest mini-post from Todd Parsons.  Some thoughts expressed in prayer:

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it, Pr.22:6. Father in heaven I am your child... Train me to follow You, that when I am old or having experience(being young or old), that I would not depart from You, but that I would remain Your child relying on and thirsting for You, my Father in heaven, "all the more" and follow Your lead, Your truth, and not create mine own reality that is apart from who You are. There would I be deceiving myself with the deception from the father of lies, that I could maintain my life without You... Life is not life without Your presence my Father, but is death and hell...

Monday, October 10, 2011

Well Done And Done Well

Today must be Miscellany Monday.  We haven't done a miscellany post in awhile.  We have a couple of different items, today.  A service for churches that could help them be able to do more.  And a question for our readers.


Friday, October 7, 2011

Hard Knocks?

We talked about Saul in our last post and we’re not quite done with him.  One of the pastors I work with told me that there have been times when he’s gone to God and gotten no answer.  He took that as his answer.  Compare that to Saul’s reaction that drove him to the spiritualist. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Far Off Goal

Cut Off

This is another one of those gems that I found on Google+.  Thanks to Neil Kremer for permission to use it here.  The Queen Mary is permanently docked in California.  This is the dock across the harbor.  When I first saw the picture, I was online on a small screen netbook and I missed the expanded platform at the end of the dock.  But even with that, there’s still a sense of the Queen Mary being the goal and this was a bridge that was never completed to get there.  Sure, you could swim from here, but you’d never reach the goal in any shape to take full advantage of it.  And I thought it was a great description of life, on several levels.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I Am Only One

Before we get into today’s thought, a request.  A lot of you have been praying for those on our prayer list page.  You’ve noticed that Olivia is at the top of the list.  For those who didn’t read the original post when I added her, she’s now only a month and a half old.  When she was born there was a tumorous growth pushing on her liver.  Olivia has since been through batteries of tests and procedures to figure out what was happening.  They finally determined that it was a form of cancer. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Spiritual Light, Part 2

img_8769

In Part 1, we talked about that there are 272 times that light is mentioned in the Bible.  Most of those speaking of God being light or giving light.  A couple of verses as refresher.  “O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.”, is what Psalm 43:3 says.  The Psalmist wants God to send spiritual light to guide and lead.  Psalm 36:9  reads, “For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.”  In the light that is God and from God we will see spiritual light in our lives.  Which brings us to the third major way the Bible speaks of light.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Spiritual Light, Part 1

img_8769

The picture at the top just kind of grabbed me as I saw the light streaming from the heavens down to the life in the valley and on the hillsides.  The trees and the grasses and the flowers need the light to process the nutrients taken in from the soil.  It’s said that a person can become depressed and morose by depriving them of light for a long enough period.  Light is important to life.  And, as I was looking at the picture, I thought of how true that is spiritually, too.  Let me explain.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Honor and Success

Romans 13:7  Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

The key is rendering what's due, honor to those who deserve honor.  I’m in the process of changing my blogs’ layout a little bit.  I’m adding a copyright notice that shows on all pages.  I’m also adding a Copyright page for notices about items included from other sources.  If you check the copyright laws, that really is no longer needed.  But here’s the law and my thinking on what I’m doing:

Monday, September 19, 2011

Come Unto Me….

Today’s post is a poetic thought of sorts from Todd Parsons.  Think about it and enjoy:

The Lord said, "Adam, where are you?"
Jesus said, "Come unto me..."
Then He addressed the adulteress woman, "Where are your accusers? Neither do I condemn thee..."
Did not Adam & Eve adulterate their relationship to the Lord? 
Can we hear the Lord speak these words to Adam & Eve?
How about to you & I?  "Oh how the Lord loves you & me..."

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Perspective Does Make A Difference.

I Think We're Alone Now
The above photograph is titled “I Think We’re Alone Now””, taken by Lotus Carroll at the Hearst Mining building at the University of California, Berkeley.  All rights belong to Ms. Carroll.  I borrowed this from her Flickr site under the provisions allowed there.  I first saw this when she posted it on Google+.  I then reshared it with the comment that created today’s title.

Take a look at the picture.  The lights, the floors, the railings all form straight lines contrasting with the arches on either side and overhead.  Those straight lines compel you to focus on the three doors at the other end of the room.  You just sense that there’s something important behind one or more of those doors.  And what that might be is still a mystery.  That evokes a series of possibilities of stories coming out of that picture.  But suppose Lotus had taken this picture from a different vantage point.  How would that affect how the picture speaks to the viewer?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

God's First Love, The Other Trees

Here's a guest mini-post from Todd Parsons:

When I consider Adam and Eve and the garden, I often first think of the tree of knowledge of good and evil as the only tree that was in the garden... "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat", says the Lord to Adam in Gen.2:16.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Lone Blossom In The Desert


california_4794 copy
Isaiah 35:1 The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.

I saw the above picture, taken by Varina Patel, and just knew there was something spiritually special there.  And the verse for today’s thought says it all. 

Many people spend their entire lives in a spiritual desert.  Not watered by the Word.  No seeds of edification planted into their lives.  No proper tending by the Husbandman.  No opportunity to reach toward the light.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

In The World

I know!  If you read my comment on one of the social networking sites, I was taking a little reprieve from writing.  But that’s kind of like saying I’m going to stop breathing.  It’s part of who God made me to be.  Having said that, let’s get to today’s thought.

John 13:1  Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.

John 15:19  If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

Recently, I had several online conversations that made me think about the full meaning of those verses.  In one where I summarized a bit, I was talking about one of my pet peeves.  And the conversation kind of shifted because of the use of the term “necking”.  Here’s what I said:


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Truth or Consequences

Matthew 7:1-2  Judge not, that ye be not judged.  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and the measure which ye give, shall be measured to you again. 

Philippians 4:8  Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think on these things. 

Decades ago, when Bob Barker and I were both young, he was hosting multiple game shows, along with "The Price is Right".  One of them was "Truth or Consequences".  The premise for the show was that the contestants answered questions.  If they answered correctly, they got a prize.  If they answered incorrectly, they perform a challenging and often embarrassing task to entertain the audience.  Sometimes the consequence was a ruse for some reunion of people who might not otherwise have that opportunity for a long time.  And remembering that show got me thinking about how we live and think in relation to God.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Good Night, Irene, Good Night

Those are part of the lyrics of a popular song, back in the ‘40s and ‘50s.  It’s also the experience of a lot of folks Saturday night and Sunday, after falling trees knocked down lots of power lines.  The last I heard before my power went out was that there were over a million people in Virginia without power, about 36,000 in Maryland.  That changed to 800, 000 power outages in Maryland alone, some 6,000,000 overall.  Which brings me to the appropriate verse.

Friday, August 26, 2011

On The Outside Looking In

Have you ever been to a church where you had to have the right haircut, your clothes had to be a certain way, you had to speak in a certain manner, act “properly”, think correctly, or any or all of the above?  I think we all have.  It gets uncomfortable when you somehow don’t fit the expected mold.  You’re not accepted as a “serious” Christian.  Or worse, there’s something wrong with you or there must be sin in your life.  People will be nice to you, but the connection isn’t quite there because you’re different.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Have a Divine Conversation!

Psalm 116:1-2  I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.

#TrustTip 53: If you want to be heard, first listen; if you want to influence, first listen; to sell--first listen. – Andrea P Howe

We’ve talked about prayer, before, here.  If you recall, we described it as our half of a divine conversation.  In order to understand the whole picture, let’s think about what conversation is and is not.  Conversation:
  1. Involves two or more parties.
  2. Is not one party having a preset laundry list of topics, ignoring what the other party has to say.
  3. Is not an expectation of a preordained response to what either party is saying.
  4. Is respectfully hearing out what each party has to say.
  5. Is having a respectful dialogue with each other till there is mutual agreement.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Prayer List Addition

I added Olivia several days ago, but forgot to post a notice.  So, here's the pertinent info.  Olivia is the newborn daughter of some friends of mine.  Because of some abnormalities, she was quickly diagnosed with neuroblastoma.  Since I had to look that one up, I'll help you with it.  It's cancerous tumors of a type that usually is found in infants and children.  In Olivia's case, hers are near her liver, which may complicate things.  There have been a series of tests.  The parents should know the results tomorrow.  Keep the whole family in prayer.

Friday, August 19, 2011

I'm His!

After our previous post, I was thinking some more about being in a relationship with an omnipotent, loving God. And the nature of that relationship.  And I came up with a brief list that blessed me and I hope will bless you, too.
  1. He loves us with an everlasting love -- Jeremiah 31:3
  2. His power is made great in our weakness --  2 Corinthians 12:9
  3. His grace is sufficient for us -- 2 Corinthians 12:9
  4. God isn't a "fair weather" friend -- Hebrews 13:5
  5. We're under His protection and never out of His reach -- Isaiah 49:16
I know there are more.  What are some thoughts on our relationship with God that specially bless you?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Is Your god Too Small?

When I titled this, all the words were capitalized...except the word "god".  The capitalization of the title was that way for a reason.  And you’ll understand why in a bit. 

It’s been awhile since I’ve mentioned any of the techie stuff, here.  And there have been some interesting goings on.  I was given one of the early invitations to try Google+.  It’s been an interesting experience.  I’ve connected with some interesting Christians and pastors, some knowledgeable marketers and bloggers, and some people who are just plain fun.  And some that I’ll just call “interesting”.  One of those gave me the reason for the title of this post.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Forgiving the Cheating Pastor

Trisha Davis did a guest post on the “”People of the Second Chance” blog. It details her own dealings with forgiveness in her own marital issues.  If you strip off the circumstances, it’s one of the best posts I’ve seen on forgiveness of any kind.  We got permission to share that post here as a guest post.  We felt the topic was so important and so well described in this post that we wanted to repost it here for your edification.  The next section is "Forgiving the Cheating Pastor" by Trisha Davis:


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Admirer or Follower?

Ecclesiastes 4:6  Better is an handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit.

1 Timothy 6:6  But godliness with contentment is great gain.

Those verses were the foundation for Sunday morning’s message at my home church.  And, it seems, for the weekend, coast to coast.  But we’ll start with how I originally began this post and work or way toward it.

It’s awesome when your “childhood” heroes go on to   higher levels of success.  The childhood was when I was a brand new Christian, more than halfway through my life.  There were several Christian radio stations in the area where I lived.  The one I listened to most was WWDJ.  And one of the people I listened to as often as possible was a youth minister and evangelist named Greg Laurie.  He was doctrinally sound, he often used humor to highlight Biblical principles.  That helped get lots of good stuff into my soul.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Spiritual Myopia

It's been awhile since we've done a weekly miscellany post.  And it's time.So, here we go, again.

Where we used to have a prayer list at the end of our posts, that now has it's own page.  Accessible from the tabs at the top of your screen.  We're exploring a way to allow you to leave prayer requests so we can add them to the list. You may have noticed the small boxes at the top, on either side of the posting area.  On the left you can subscribe to the site in your favorite newsreader system or app.  Or you can use the right hand box to subscribe by email.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

What Do You Want To Do, Today?

A couple of things on Twitter reminded me of several recent posts here.  And several of them have me so flabbergasted  that I’m at a loss for words.  So, please bear with me as we work our way through them.  One of the beauties of Twitter is that it forces you to describe a whole phenomenon in very few words.  And when just a few words is not enough, the tweet will usually include a link to a longer post.  One of the latter was a tweet by The Resurgance about “Tradition vs. Traditionalism”.  It can be found at http://jesus.to/nF7rNY and I urge you to head over there and read the post.  It’s fairly short, well thought out and points no fingers at anyone.  It’ll definitely get you thinking.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

United We Stand…

John 10:30  I and my Father are one.

John 17:22  And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

Romans 12:5  So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

Saturday, August 6, 2011 was a hallmark day in the kingdom of God.  There  were 30,000 Christians joined together at Reliant stadium in Houston, Texas.  All there for one thing – prayer for our nation and our world.  And it got me thinking of one of my pet peeves.  One that I’m sometimes just as guilty of as anyone else.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Day of Prayer

1Timothy 2:8  I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

Saturday, August 6, 2011 there will be pastors and believers gathered in the stadium in Houston, Texas.  The reason?  A day of prayer and fasting for our nation and the world.  My pastor is flying there to be a part of that.  And he suggested to our congregation that we could similarly either gather or individually spend the day in prayer and fasting.  A good suggestion for all of us.  So, I want to share some verses and thoughts on prayer and fasting.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Pride Goeth…

“In the midst of a world of light and love, Lucifer could find nothing to think of more interesting than his own prestige.” – C. S. Lewis

Isaiah 14:13-14  For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

Satan decided, right from the “git go”, that he was better than everyone and everything else.  Including God.  He must have gotten his pride from one of the fast food chains because his ego was definitely “super sized”.  Isaiah 14:14 says, “I will be like the most High.”  But it’s obvious from all the other verses about Satan that he’d never settle for second best or even equality with God.  He needed to even be above God.  The verses surrounding the passage quoted above make it clear that Satan’s thinking didn’t work out too well for him.  And ever since his decision, he’s been trying to get us to join him in thinking that way.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Of Few Words

Ecclesiastes 5:2  Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.

How often we forget the power of words.  Words can bless or they can wound.  They can keep us from going forward or they can spur us to action.  They can take us to the pinnacle of thought or the depths of ignorance.  Words can be guides to Heaven’s gate or aim us strait toward the entrance of Hell.  Words express thoughts and emotions, and thoughts describe people, places, and things; make the intangible real.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

It’s Friday….

No, Rebecca Black is not going to do a guest post.  But her celebration of Friday made me think of how often our celebrations are usually about what we’re getting away from rather than what we’re looking forward to.  And, yes, this is getting posted on Saturday, not Friday, but let’s get back to the previous statement.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Go Ye….

Mat 22:37-40  Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.   This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Why Would You Say That? Part 2

“God made man in His own image  Man, as a grateful being, returned the favor.”

The quote is what got this whole train of thought going, the title is based on the result of the thought patterns we’ve discussed.  Remember that the thought pattern starts with an original premise, goes through a chain of logic, and arrives at a conclusion.  With that in mind, take a look at the quote.  If man “returns the favor” by assuming that God can be coerced or flattered into doing something for them will conclude that the end result of prayer is always earthly blessings.  As if they controlled God’s actions, instead of Him controlling our situation.  Likewise, if the original premise is that God has double standards like we do in some cases, then the conclusion will be that He’ll wink at our pet “minor indiscretions”.  And the person who understands God as sovereign and as totally just will have a hard time fathoming those previous conclusions because his original premise is so different that his conclusions have to be different, too.  Proverbs 23:7 tells us, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:”.  The basis of his thinking will force his conclusions.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Why Would You Say That? Part 1

"God made man in His own image  Man, being a grateful soul, returned the favor."

The above quote is one I’ve used for years.  And it was used in a post on Wednesday about people’s attitude toward  God and their expectations.  As I was meditating on that, there were several other tweets on Thursday with related links.  And a whole picture came together that I’d like to share today.

Rachel Held Evans shared “The always-insightful Richard Beck on how theological conversations can be like a chess game: experimentaltheology.blogspot.com/2011/07/pawn-t…”  When you have time, follow the link. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Is Your Joy Forever?

“Wow God says in His Word "be joyful always" 1Thess5:16...learning this is only possible if I commune with Him continually...no matter what I'm gonna love Him cuz He knows the worst & loves me the most...wow that's something to be joyful always for...yay God!!” – Marian Monti Frankenhauser

That quote, posted originally on Facebook, is just one of the examples of Marian’s spirit because she truly knows our God.  I look forward to hanging out with people like that.  And her excitement in those statements just made me want to explore more what she said.  Let’s look at the verse.  1 Thessalonians 5:16  “Rejoice evermore.”  Not yesterday, not today, not tomorrow, but forever.  And that’s not a suggestion, it’s a command.  The word for “rejoice” is unique, too.  Part of the meaning of the word is “to relax”.  I think God used the Greeks to show us that there’s relaxation in rejoicing and you can’t fully rejoice if you’re not relaxed in the Lord.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Decently? In Good Order?

1Corinthians 14:40  Let all things be done decently and in order.

The last week or so has been “interesting” (quote marks intentional).  The above verse has specific meaning, in context.  But it can cover a lot of  areas in application.  And we’ll get to several of those momentarily.  And, yes, today is one of those miscellany days.  So, here goes….

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I Wish I Knew Then….

The following is a guest post from my friend, Juan Rivera.  Lots of food for thought!

I wish I knew then that:
I didn’t have to be perfect, Christ makes me perfect. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Are You Too Connected?

Exodus 20:3  Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Deuteronomy 6:14  Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you;

Col 3:23  And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

OK.  I’m done.  that’s my whole thought in a nutshell.  Seriously, what’s said in those verses applies to a lot of things.  What made me think about this is my own connections.  I’m on Facebook, have multiple Twitter accounts, am part of a Whatsapp group, I’m in several Blackberry Messaging groups (admin for two), I’ve just joined (by invitation) Google+, I talk to people on the phone both for my job and my ministry functions, plus whatever connections occur in person.  When I think about it, I just say, “Wow!”  But something has to give.


Friday, July 8, 2011

For Sale

“If they’ve put a price on it, they’ve already made a decision that it’s for sale. And, by putting a price on it, they’re saying, ‘That’s what I want for it.’ But, somewhere in the back of their mind, they already have a lower price they’ll take for it.”

I’m blessed to be under a Pastor who uses all kinds of techniques to help his flock to better understand and know the Word. One of the things he likes to do, sometimes even in a church service, is pause for the congregation to discuss among themselves what’s just been preached. Then, he'll continue. The subject of one of our lunch gatherings was “selling” (or not) our spiritual heritage. When Pastor Schaller had us discuss the subject, the quote that started this post was the first thought that came to my mind and out of my mouth. I’m not sure if the subject falls into the area of psychology or Bible Truth, but let’s look at it some more.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

My Plan is No Plan, Part 2

Colossians 3:23  And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

1 Peter 4:11  If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

When I was growing up, I was certain in my late teens that I was going to write the next “great American novel”.  Somehow, my life diverted from that goal.  But not necessarily by much.  Everything I did required communication skills.  From being a broadcaster to buying and expediting specialized parts to preaching at Bible studies.  There were degrees from secular college and Bible college to back that up.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My Plan is No Plan, Part 1

Proverbs 2:10  When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul;

If you’ve seen the ads for the upcoming premier of the Big Brother House reality show, you might remember the model saying that her plan for the game is having no plan.  That kind of reminded me of my electronic footprint on the web.  And, since I’ve been asked, off and on, how and why I do what I do, here’s an explanation of sorts.


Monday, July 4, 2011

Independence?

Freedom is not avoiding submission, it's the capability of saying "Yes." to submitting to God, even though He doesn't make us do that.

John 8:36  If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

For those of us here in the US, Happy Independence Day!  It’s considerations of freedom and independence that caused me to tweet the statement at the top of today’s post.  Which brought the verse reference to mind.

If we look at the strong gods of most ancient societies, we see beings who are very human in all their qualities.  Some may have been partly animal of some sort.  But the thinking, emotions, reactions and actions were all super exaggerations of what we’re like.  Including  the insecurity that mandates unswerving, unquestioning obedience.  Sounds more like a dictatorship, doesn’t it?


Thursday, June 30, 2011

Judge Not…

Luke 6:35-37  But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind to the unthankful and to the evil.  Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.   Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:

Matthew 7:3, Luke 6:41  And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

Rev 12:10  And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, who accused them before our God day and night.  Those verses cover several things I’ve been thinking about, recently.  And I thought I’d share that today.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Life Comes from the Fear of the Lord

Here's another from Todd Parsons:

The fear of the Lord tends to life: he that has it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil. -- Proverbs19:23. 

"The fear of the Lord", a man that presents himself before the presence of the Lord.  With this thought I am picturing Esther standing before the king in the book of Esther. When we present ourselves to the Lord it tends to life when we recognize that death and life are in the power of His tongue... It is in the power of His tongue more than in the power of my/our tongue, Pr.18:21. I submit to His authority. The Lord will say to the humble, "LIVE!" Here he that has it, "Life from the Lord", shall abide satisfied... Whether your shoes are Esther's or Mordecai's, you shall not be visited with evil, for no evil can stand in the presence of the Lord. There was no place found for them, Rev.19:11-15.  The Lord, will profess to have never known them and by His mouth's words they will have to depart from His presence, Mat.7:23. Evil will remain in eternal insecurity and they that stand with the Lord will abide eternally secure... Thanks be to the Lord we "are"saved and "are" His!

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Some great thoughts there.  We're working on some fresh thoughts from God to post here as well as some ministry things.  Which is why we're a little behind in getting back here.  Our International Convention was great.  Had some time of fellowship with lots of missionaries and pastors.  And some seed thoughts for here.

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Please continue to pray for Dana and her family, Scott, Russ, Columbia, Jimmy and Betty, Curtis, Peggy, Joyce, and Libby.  There's also Mindy.  Don't forget anyone else God lays on your heart.  There are always special people that God wants us to consider in prayer. And I'll add myself to the list, as I expand some ministry responsibilities.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Power and Anointing

Another gem from Todd Parsons:

"The power of God coming from our lives is in direct relation to our communion with God", John "Praying" Hyde. Who God is, is manifest though us knowing Him. The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: You Lord, maintain my lot, Ps,16:5... How full do we desire our cup to be filled? With the Lord's portion, it can be overflowing, and that greater than Victoria Falls and never ending... Fill our cups Lord, and let them overflow that people around us may get soaked with your love, that they may be changed as they see Your goodness and choose to be led by You. the Good Shepherd...

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Our convention has been truly awesome, this year.  The last session is this evening and includes several ordinations.  We've had the blessing of spending time with a number of missionaries who haven't had the finances to visit for awhile.  Pastor Stambovsky's message, last night, focused around the blessing that God gives us that, even if we don't immediately recall names, God allows us to always remember the faces.  And we've been blessed by the joy of being in the presence of such a multitude of spiritually rich faces.  And saddened by the faces that haven't been here, this year.  But we'll continue to remember all the faces with deep love and affection.

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Continue to pray for Dana and her family, Scott, Russ, Columbia, Jimmy and Betty, Curtis, Peggy, Joyce, and Libby.  And anyone else God lays on your heart.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Our Father, Our Glory

Today, enjoy a guest post from Todd Parsons, one of the great blessings in the Body of Christ.

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As a man that is older than what a child is considered in our minds to be, it is often not easy to see my self as a child. The Lord Jesus said, for us to see the kingdom of heaven, though, we need to become as a child. To have child like faith... I see children and I know I marvel at their trusting inocence... Mattew 6, we see the Lord teaching the disciples how to pray, "Our Father who is in heaven". He also continues and says for us to take no thought... for our Father in heaven knows what we have need of... He also teaches us there what to focus on and seek... In another place the Lord says to Martha, who is so concerned about seemingly needful things, "one thing is needful and Mary has chosen it, it shall not be taken from her"... Proverbs17:6b says,"and the glory of children are their fathers". Do I include myself to be one of these children still and do I look to the Lord in heaven as my Father? For He... is... my glory...

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Our Convention is as always, a great spiritual time, If you can make it, it's at 6025 Moravia Park Drive, Baltimore, MD 21206. There's a fee for the sessions, but fellowship is free. And there's lots of good international food.

We’re continuing in prayer for Dana and her family, Scott. And we’re still praying for Russ, Columbia, Jimmy and Betty. Curtis, Peggy, Joyce, and Libby. And their families. And, of course, our International Convention.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Our Father is in Heaven....

First, an update. Dana was put on our prayer list because her dad had been close to death and didn’t know the Lord. Well her dad passed on, but not before accepting Christ into his heart. Dana, her mom and sister are having a memorial service for the family, some of whom still don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus. We need to be praying for emotional strength and for salvations. And her mom asked her to visit the following weekend, which could be another time emotions are stretched. So, lots to still be praying for, there.
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I’ve mentioned our International Convention. The first session starts tonight at 7pm, here in Baltimore. It’s a great time to refill spiritual fuel tanks, have great fellowship, be built up in all the things God is doing all over the world. I’ll be spending a lot of my week there. I’m not sure, yet, how my schedule is going to be. But I have a couple of thoughts for keeping the edification coming.
One of those thoughts is a gentleman I call one of my spiritual secret weapons. His name is Todd Parsons, he’s a graduate of the same Bible college I attended. His job (and, to a point) his calling is to be a mechanic. He has a small group he emails brief meditations to and I’m fortunate to be included in that group. They’re not long like a devotional, but more of a seed thought to get each of us thinking further with God Which is why I call him my spiritual secret weapon, And everyone needs a spiritual secret weapon to help us grow in Christ. If you look around, you just might find one of your own at your church. Anyway, with permission, I may be sharing some of Todd’s gems from time to time. The next section is one of those.
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Our Father is in Heaven and we’re on the earth. Let God be true and every man a liar. His name is holy and we’re not. Proverbs 1:23, “Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit to you, I will make known to you my words.” We walk in darkness, yet Proverbs 2:6 says, “For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.” There is light for our path under our Father's dominion. He did not intend for us to be blinded... Pr.1:33, Hearken...
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Add Scott to our list. We’re continuing in prayer for Dana and her family. And we’re still praying for Russ, Columbia, Jimmy and Betty. Curtis, Peggy, Joyce, and Libby. And their families. And, of course, our International Convention. Thanks for the prayers and blessings.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Who’s Your Daddy, Now?

Matthew 6:9  After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

John 8:44a  Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.

Happy Fathers’ Day!  Having a great dad is truly a blessing.  And having a not so great dad may not necessarily be the curse we assume it to be.  Think about today’s title.  The phrase is a slang phrase that doesn’t seem to have any good intent.  Whether it be in sports or in life, the idea is that one person is overpowering another, forcing them into submission. It expresses a worldly attitude that’s growing in popularity.  Not a very pretty picture of “daddy”.  So, let’s think with God on this one and look at the contrast in today’s verses.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Who’s Next?

Matthew 10:16-17  Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.  But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;

Those verses hold some interesting thoughts.  As do the articles that brought those verses to mind.  Wednesday, John Piper did an interview with Don Carson and Tim Keller on pastoral succession.  That discussion can be found on video at http://bit.ly/jFyMO0.  Then, Thursday, Pastor Mark Driscoll wrote a post about 10 things to keep in mind when putting together a leadership team.  That one’s at http://ow.ly/5jChe.  Awhile back, the church I belong to went through a bit of a succession crisis, with resulting changes in staffing and leadership.  So, the two articles, only a day apart, served to remind me of the situation.  And some lessons that can be learned.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

“Wherever you are, be all there.”

It was character that got us out of bed, commitment that moved us into action, and discipline that enabled us to follow through. - Zig Ziglar

Colossians 1:10  That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;


Monday, June 13, 2011

And You Are….?

Galatians 2:20  I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

By now, I think every living American has seen the commercial where the woman comes into dining room with lots of boxes of food and hollers out, “McDonald’s!!!”.  And by the time she turns around,  people are at the dining table ready to eat. The original version of the commercial was longer.  It cut to the next scene where everyone is at the table eating and the woman notices an obviously out of place oriental gentleman, asking him, “And you are?”.  Because he wasn’t recognized as part of the family.  Another way of saying, “You don’t belong here.  Why are you eating my food?”.  But, on a spiritual level, does that really work anymore?  What’s “out of place”?  Who’s “out of place”?  What’s your “And you are….?”?


Saturday, June 11, 2011

It’s June 11, 2011

That sounds downright official.  But it’s no more so than any given week’s randomness.  So, let’s get to it.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Is It Just Me and God?

1Co 12:14-19  For the body is not one member, but many.  If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?  And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?  If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?  But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.   And if they were all one member, where were the body?


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Who's Your Vocal Coach?

Col 3:14-17  And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.   And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.   Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.   And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. 

Every once in awhile, I like to watch one of the entertainment reality shows.  Last night, I watched a show called the Voice.  It was loaded with talent!  Each of the judges, besides judging, was also a coach for their own team of hopefuls.  That's very much like the reality of the music business.  Even if someone is a star, there are people still advising, etc. to make sure the star does the best job of grabbing the audience.  And the judge/coaches built up each hopeful in what they did well and did their best to strip them of the things that weren't going to work for them.  And that made me think of those verses in Colossians 


Saturday, June 4, 2011

This Week's Miscellany

I belong to a ministry where, in order to keep most of the tithes and offerings going toward actual ministry, many of us put in whatever time we can at the church for free and work elsewhere in order to support ourselves.  A lot of what I do in the church involves talking to people on the phone.  And, you guessed it, my job has me on the phone with people.  Today I got the privilege of speaking with a wonderful couple named Jimmy and Betty who I promised we'd include in our prayer list here.  Betty said she was going through some health issues.  And her husband Jimmy is dealing with a second bout with cancer.  They're beautiful believers who appreciate our prayers.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

No Free Will?

Today's one of those days when we hit a couple of short topics.  But they'll get us thinking!

First of all, a praise report! After some really serious medical stuff, Joyce went home from the hospital Monday! A very rapid recovery! Thanks for all the prayers.


Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorials

John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

In the United States, we have a holiday on the last Monday in May. It's called Memorial Day and it honors those who gave their lives to protect our nation. And whether you're here or in another country and whether or not this is a holiday where you live, it's worth taking the time to remember what others have done for us.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

In My Flesh....

Romans 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

Proverbs 3:5-7 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.

The first verse of that passage from Proverbs 3 came from the latest Wednesday evening service at my church. No, I wasn't the preacher. But it speaks to part of today's thought. And, in a sense, we're going to start at the end and work backward.


Monday, May 23, 2011

What Are You Thinking?

Proverbs 23:7a For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:

Computer people might restate that as "garbage in, garbage out". But I prefer Ann Curry's quote from jazz great Charlie Parker, "If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn." And that describes us. We're a product of everything we take in ... physically, mentally and spiritually. And that's what I want us to consider today.

In an old post, I commented that I felt sorry for some of the Pharisees. I could really stretch that to more modern examples. There are believers and unbelievers who hear the Truth and reject it when they obviously shouldn't. There are others who have been trained throughout their lives to believe something else, then are given a brief exposition of Truth that isn't likely to change anything. And there's a third group who've been questioning what they'd been taught and readily receive and embrace Truth. And, just days ago, we saw examples of these.

First, there were those in Harold Camping's group who followed his multiple erroneous rapture predictions, despite having had better teaching prior to affiliating with Family Radio's teaching. Private interpretation took precedence over Truth. Along with those, somewhere on the fringe, were technicians, etc. who claimed not to believe the prophecy, but were technically active in spreading the false teaching. I'm not sure I'd want to be any of them when the real judgement arrives.

Second, there are those who listened to Family Radio when they were first saved and became indoctrinated in the combination of good and false doctrines. They know nothing else as proper doctrine. But they were learning because they wanted to draw closer to God. They're the ones who get hurt by the false teachings. Because, when those teachings unravel, they question the bad doctrine, themselves and even the good teaching around them. And we may be to blame for some of that by not taking enough time to disciple our new converts. We need to get better at that.

The third group could, maybe, be exemplified by the dazed Camping followers who recognize that there's something wrong with the results of the doctrinal stance that was taken. Ready to explore and embrace Truth. And this is where we have a real opportunity to show God's love. By not condemning, but lovingly showing them proper doctrine and demonstrating God's love for them.

I'm sure there are other examples of the three groups, but this one has been in the news and is recognizable by believer and unbeliever alike. The great thing is that, as public as this example was, we have one responsibility. The words of 1 Corinthians 14:6-9 tell us to trumpet the message of God's grace, mercy and love with a certain sound. And, as Charlie Parker put it, "If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn."

As always, pray for Libby. And besides that, consider my friends Curtis and Dana, with varying needs and requests. And all the victims of the recent natural disasters, from Japan to Joplin and anywhere in between.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

More of the Random

1Corinthians 14:40  Let all things be done decently and in order.

That verse is key to some of today's random thoughts.  The first being another tech gem to make life and ministry easy.

One that's become almost as indispensable as my right arm is Evernote.  It's, basically, a note taking/keeping system.  Which doesn't seem like much, but it's so much more.  Evernote is available for PC and Mac, plus most smartphone platforms (more to come). Once you create an account, notes are stored in encrypted form online, accessible from computer or phone either via dedicated software or web interface.  Anything you want to commit to writing and have readily available, no matter where you are, is perfect for Evernote.  Your privacy is protected, the contents of your notes is considered yours only and those plus your account are protected by encryption.

The utility of Evernote is amazing.  Here are some examples:

1) You can organize by multiple notebooks and stacks of notebooks on the computer.  The phone apps (at least for Blackberry) don't do this, but will now recognize all the notes you've created.
2) There is a webclipper add-on for most computer browsers that allows copying web content directly into an Evernote note.
3) Your Evernote account includes an Evernote email address.  That allows you to create an email to your Evernote account that goes directly into a note.  Have you ever been somewhere and wanted to keep notes for future use, possibly on a different device than you might later want to access the info from?  Email it to your Evernote account and the info will be available on all the devices you use Evernote on.
4) The Biblereader phone app can send your personal Bible notes to your Evernote account.
5) There's a function called myEM that connects your Twitter and Evernote accounts so that you can send selected tweets to your Evernote account.

Those are just a few of the gems that make Evernote so good.  As long as you sync with your account before closing, each time, you can create and edit something anywhere you've got a device that can let you access your account.  So, you could start something on your home computer, continue it on your phone while commuting (if you're not driving), edit from your office computer, etc.  Flexible and it allows you to be creative when the thought is in mind.  Available at http://evernote.com.  Decently and in good order.

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Pastor Mark Driscoll recently tweeted "They are addicts, getting high on preaching & mingling, needing a fix: Conference Christians.http://theresurgence.com/2011/05/16/the-crisis-of-conference-christians/".  Follow the link to the full article.  Whether it's a variety of conferences or conferences within your own ministry, does it sound like anyone you know?

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It's always a joy when I get to hear, see or read real wisdom.  I'm not talking about flowery speech and great philosophical thought.  I'm talking about the simple wisdom that comes when you think with God. Kim Bruce is young lady who's relatively new in the blogosphere, but she writes well and definitely shows a heart after God.  You can find her posts at http://soulunpacked.blogspot.com.  Particularly Sunday's post, "A Conversation with God About Adventure" at http://bit.ly/lYSn41.  Read it.  It puts the proper perspective on a lot of things.  You can also follow her on Twitter as @kimthebruce.  In both places, decently and in good order.

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I think I've given you some good links to some things to take your walk with God a little further.  So, I'm going to go enjoy my birthday. As always, continue to keep Libby and her family in prayer.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Do You Know Your Passion?

Nehemiah 8:10  Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength. 

Today's foundational verse might not seem like it has much to do with understanding our passion.  But one of the things that's been in my meditations lately is that there seem to be those who are miserable in what they do, while others seem to be having a blast.  And that's where the above verse comes in, which we'll get to, momentarily.

Recently, Mary DeMuth was a guest author on Michael Hyatt's blog. She wrote an article titled "Find Your Passion in Three Steps."  Miss DeMuth covers a lot of territory, including a number of things that can keep us from our passion.  You can read the full post, plus a lot of other great articles at http://michaelhyatt.com.  But let's focus on the three steps:

1) Where does need and joy collide?  Miss DeMuth gives a great ministry related explanation for this.  In short, ministry meets a need and your passion is where you find your greatest joy  in meeting the need.

2) Do the Three Movie Exercise.  This one could also be three favorite books or three favorite sermons.  The point is that your favorites are going to have a common thread.  And that common thread is related to your passion.

3) Ask Others About "One Thing".  Another good suggestion.  We can be too close to ourselves to clearly recognize what our passion is. But others, from reading our writing or being around us, may have a better understanding of the thing that moves us.

Keep those three steps in mind.  And definitely go to http://michaelhyatt.com and read the full article.  In the meantime, we're going to look at another post on the subject.  Shortly after I read Mary Demuth's great article, Pastor Jason Moore covered the same subject from a different angle.  The full post is titled "3 Questions" and can be read in full at http://altarsflame.blogspot.com, along with some other great posts.

Psalm 137:1-6 gives 3 questions: 1) What do you dream about? What would you do if you had no fear of failure. 2) What do you cry about? Burdens that drive passions. 3) What do you sing about? What causes you to rejoice. Consider these answers and to what direction do they take you - are you walking that way?

Six great probes into our hearts to find our passion.  Yet, I think there are other probes that are core to who we are as Christians and how we find our passions.

One of my outreach leaders suggested that it didn't make much sense to do a particular outreach if our heart isn't in it, if we aren't having fun doing it.  Don't get me wrong.  There will be times of trial, sadness, etc.  But there will still be a sense of fulfillment, even in those.  And, once in awhile, there are times when it's just plain difficult and hard. And only 20/20 hindsight will show us our true place in those circumstances.  But we need to look at our life.  If we're hearing from God and following our call, we're very likely living in our passion. Perhaps not to the extent we might like.  But I believe that we naturally are drawn in that direction.  So, look for it. And that's where our starting verse comes in.

Nehemiah 8 talks about Israel being read the Law by Ezra at the Feast of Trumpets.  Their response to the Word of God was sadness because they had failed to adhere to the Law.  And, here in verse 10, they're first told to celebrate and feast.  Relaxed enjoyment.  Then to share that feast with those in need.  So far, that sounds an awful lot like Mary DeMuth's first step.  Next they're told not to be sorry.  Not lacking repentance, but not living in self pity and loathing, either. Finally, the verse gives the reason   Our strength comes from the joy given by the Lord.  We don't live in self focus on our failures, nor in our self proclaimed desires.  If we heed God's leading and call, He will direct our ways (Isaiah 45:13).  We get to find our passion by being delivered into it by God.  Thus getting to live in His joy in what we're doing because we're in His will!

So, we can enjoy our passion and rejoice in the fact that God gave it to us to enjoy. As always, continue in prayer for Libby.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Psalm 23, Verse 6

Psalm 23:6  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Now, we come to a verse I don't have much to say about.  Not because it's not important.  Not because there aren't things to say. But here we have the result of all the things talked about in the preceding five verses.  Following the Shepherd, recognizing the beneficence of all God's thoughts and actions toward us, resting & trusting in all that.  Those all lead to the conclusion that goodness and mercy will be an integral part of my experience, forever. Because I will have been drawn to the inescapable conclusion that all my experiences, good and bad, are for my growth and blessing. Once that becomes core to my thinking, the brightest of times become brighter and the darkest of times are no longer quite so dark.

The second part of the verse isn't quite so obvious from the previous verses.  But there's an unstated, underlying Truth that leads to the conclusion that I'll live with God eternally.  In order for all the previous verses to be true, there's an understood basis that I've accepted that God has a rightful place in my life and I'm willing to give Him that place.  Because He's shown His love and protection before. As 1John 4:17-19 says, "Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.  There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us."  His love for us draws out our love and trust.

God never expects us to come to Him without His first giving us a reason to.  And it may be the good things that do that for us.  Or we may need what seem like not so nice experiences to see the contrast.  If you haven't realized the importance of a relationship with God and how great His love is for you, I urge you to consider that now!  And I'll make a suggestion to help with that.  Go through the posts here about each of the verses in this Psalm.  Then take at least 5 minutes to a half hour (more, if you have the time) after each reading to consider how that relates to God's love for you specifically.  The decision about what your relationship with God will be is the most important decision you can ever make.  It has eternal consequences. So, take the time to consider how much He wants that relationship with Him to be positive and heaven bound.

Till next time, please continue in prayer for Libby.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Psalm 23, Verse 5

Psa 23:5  Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

The verse begins by describing a situation where the writer is banqueting, but surrounded by enemies.  Maybe it was the proximity of Mothers Day, but my mind went back to the time we had a new grade school teacher that I somehow ended up on her bad side, with a few notes sent home to my parents.  The next thing I knew, my mom had invited the teacher to our house for dinner.  Much to my chagrin, they got along very well.  And there I was, feeling like I was having dinner "in the presence of mine enemies".  But the truth is that my mom was always doing things for my benefit.  Just like God did for David and keeps doing for us.  Because this really doesn't talk about a banquet where the guests are enemies.  It speaks of everyday life, where lots of things come against us, but God gives us a feast in the midst of the turmoil. That feast may not always be evident.  However, if we're looking for it with the right spiritual eyes, we'll know it's there.

The next part of the verse tells us that David's head was anointed with oil.  Anointing was sometimes done to recognize an office, sometimes for healing, but always to show that God was equipping the person to deal with a situation.  We're given what we need to get through our particular circumstances.  Which is why, when we say we don't think we'd ever get through something someone else is going through, we're absolutely right.  We aren't given the anointing and grace for another person's trials...only our own.  So David (and us by inference) could expect God to supply the anointing and grace for bad situations and give him the insight to recognize the spiritual banquet that was a part of those circumstances.

Finally, the verse says, "my cup runneth over."  There's a saying in the world that asks whether you see the glass as either half full or half empty, if it's 50% full of something.  A friend of mine, Kim Poston, recently posted a different take on that when she wrote, "When your glass is half full, pour a little into someone else's cup;" One of the responses to that was Cathy Caron stating, "Isn't this a beautiful truth! We are blessed in giving..."  And that's the heart of this verse.  If we use the spiritual tools God gives us, we recognize that that there's always a blessing hidden in the situations where we're surrounded by "enemies", we're always given what we need for every circumstance, and our cup overflows.  No matter whether the cup is half full or there's so much that the contents are pouring over the sides, we always have exactly enough...and more.  So, we don't have to think about giving some to others.  It's a spiritually natural response of the mature soul to bless others, without even thinking about it.  The results include seeing that spiritual banquet when everything else around us is falling apart.

This is a day late thanks to my back doing interesting things   Maybe that's one of my situations with a built in spiritual banquet. Anyway, a belated Mothers Day with for all.  And, as always, don't forget to pray for Libby.