Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009- Roller Coaster Year

The year is coming to a close and while at some points I didn't think it could end soon enough, others were very sweet memories. I don't think I have ever experienced a year with the collection of very steep and frequent ups and downs. Many of the ups were accentuated by the people who are in my life on a frequent basis, but some of the ups were from people I had just met and may never meet again.

I hope and pray that God would allow us to meet up with our son. This is something that has caused a great awakening in our family life- not necessarily on a purely spiritual plain, though that is certainly there, but on a social plain as well. He has changed the way we think about orphans and we haven't even met him yet. Actually, God is the One Who has done the changing, but He is using a 13 year old boy who barely speaks any English. God has a crazy way of working, doesn't He?

Teresa and I had the opportunity and privilege of meeting Doug Nichols and his wife Margaret this year. Doug is the founder of Action and at 71 is not slowing down any time soon. What an encouragement he has been to me this year, even though we only met 1 time for about 3 hours. God has given him a heart for street kids and he is not letting up.

Another "top of the roller coaster" time for us had to be meeting many new friends in Ethiopia. These may be kids and adults we never meet again here on earth but they captured our hearts while we were there for a week. I need to be reminded frequently of God's abundant blessing on me and those around me and this was a great reminder of His care for orphans and widows. Again, people impacting our lives who don't speak English and who have so little, yet they rejoice while saying "God is Good- All the Time". How true that is!!

And as we prepare for the celebration of the New Year I am always reminded of the people in our ministry who encourage me so much. I don't think many know the impact they have, but the times with our 128 staff is always a "top of the coaster" time. My best friends in the world are those who are in the spiritual trenches with us, being spent for His purposes. Though not perfect, and maybe that is much of the connection, they are trying to be used up for the Master.

I have much to be thankful for, including the low parts of the coaster; maybe even more since they bring about the most reliance on Him. I have learned to rest much more in His care this year, though I have a very long way to go in this area. Since I can't really control anything around me I have to just let go of much that is happening and give it over to Him and pray that I would be excited about what He is doing around me- again, I have a long way to go here.

What a year. Many victories, a little growth, some new friends, knitting together with some old fiends, some spiritual battle won and many still going, but in the end- God is in Control and I could not think of a better place to be than in the shadow of the Almighty. I need Him to keep me there. I need to have my affections tuned to Him purposes. He has to grow those affections or I will wander. May I be more single eyed in 2010 than I have ever been, but that is up to Him to give.

Rejoice, the Lord is King!
Your Lord and King adore;
mortals, give thanks and sing,
and triumph evermore.
Lift up your heart,
lift up your voice; rejoice;
again I say, rejoice.

Jesus the Savior reigns,
the God of truth and love;
when he had purged our stains,
he took his seat above.
Lift up your heart,
lift up your voice; rejoice,
again I say, rejoice.

His kingdom cannot fail;
he rules o'er earth and heaven;
the keys of earth and hell
are to our Jesus given.
Lift up your heart,
lift up your voice; rejoice,
again I say, rejoice.

Rejoice in glorious hope!
Jesus the Judge shall come,
and take his servants up
to their eternal home.
We soon shall hear
th'archangel's voice; the trump of God
shall sound, rejoice.

Charles Wesley.

For some reason this song just came into my mind as I was finishing, so I stuck it here. I think it is a fitting way to end the year.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A little Rambling

Yesterday I had some time to drive around to some client's and as I drive I like to spend at least some of that time in prayer. There is much to bring before the Throne of Grace and each day I feel less and less adequate to handle all that is in front of me. There are so many decisions, so many directions and choices to make and I am incapable of knowing exactly what I am to do in really any of those circumstances.

God gives wisdom to those who ask and I have asked more this year than in all the years before combined and I feel as if I am going backward instead of forward. I hope that is not the case and that maybe the testing is just more evident to me now than it has been in the past, but if an inadequate feeling is any indication of growing sanctification, then I believe God is making some progress in this hard heart of mine.

It also seems as if the things I currently have to make decisions on are larger in importance than they have been before. Adoption issues, ministry, so many crazy things happening at work and a wedding to ready ourselves for. So many places to give God glory and praise, so many opportunities to rest in His sovereign plan and at the same time so many places to let my flesh win and not look to Him in every detail of each decision.

So much of what needs addressing has no eternal significance and yet even in those there are so many different places to give Him glory. I truthfully can say that I am not interested in getting glory for myself in much of what goes on in our lives today, and God is my heart's witness to this, but He must give direction since He is the only One who knows everything about each situation I find myself in.

How do we know God's perfect choice of- for example- where to have a wedding? There is too much pressure to get this exactly right. I am not talking about if we can make the wedding the perfect event where everything is timed perfectly and there are no glitches- I could care less about that. I mean- there are so many implications of just the choice of location and in each one of those choices there is a multitude of repercussions that naturally follow. No one can point to a verse and say- this is where the Bible says you should have your wedding and so that makes it difficult to know what God would have us to do- so He can be honored most, even in a wedding location.

Speaking of weddings- I had the privilege and joy of going wedding dress shopping with my Kimmy this last weekend. My little girl is all grown up and picking out her wedding dress. What a beautiful woman God has given to T and I, and now Ian. I had a radio show in the morning and so she and a few friends, and moms, went to start looking before I arrived and she actually picked out the first one she tried on. I didn't see it the first time but she went through, maybe, 8 dresses and then went back to "the one" and I knew it was "it". We then went to another store and she tried on a few more and there were none, in my mind, that were in the running. What a fun and exciting day. Thanks Kimmy for including your daddy.

Anyway- it is so hard for me to discern God's will in things like wedding dresses, granite pricing, time spending and everything else I/we are have opportunities to show off God's greatness in doing. I want to be able to say "look what God did" in each and every situation that comes to a close- that requires careful attention in each situation to be able to see where God stepped in and took over. I have to be purposefully viewing my life and the circumstances that are going on to be able to see exactly where He has taken us.

I don't want to fight against God- that's not even close to a fair fight. I want to truthfully say, "Lord, it's all Yours and You can do what you want in each situation, You know all the comings and goings long before they take place and so if You just do what You want to do from the start it will be much easier on me", but I think He is always giving the opportunity to test my resolve to always give preference to Him and to then give Him the fullest of the glory that He deserves when He does all the work.

All that takes a truthful look at my own ability and clear sight of what He is capable of, and then pride must be fought off to actually say and believe when He has worked and I have watched. My flesh often wants to take at least a little credit for just a bit of what He has accomplished and this is nothing but sin poking its head out.

All I have, all I am, all I can ever hope to be and do, are all given by and sustained by Him. In me there is no good thing that dwells and I need to be quick to humbly ask for direction and guidance, be then quick to follow where He leads and then be quick and thorough in my praising of this amazing God who gives and upholds all the good things in my life. He alone is worthy of all of the praise. May that be my unending song.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Recipient of Adoption

We are coming quickly to the close of our adoption- I say "the close" because it will either close resulting in the adoption of our new son or it will close without that happening; but one way or another it will close.

This process has been a grind in many ways. Unfamiliar paperwork, a home study- interviewing everyone who lives here and some who do not, more paperwork, dollars seeming going to everyone who just might have some connection to the adoption and still more paperwork. I am not complaining in the least- just trying to give a picture of what adoption looks likes.

In all our effort, we may end up unable to make this happen. Currently we are at the mercy of an agency on the east coast who has our paperwork and then it will go to another agency to be reviewed and sent to China where it will be in the hands of the Chinese government. This really is completely out of our hands and I am perfectly fine with that, because God can stop the process or keep it going.

Our inability is shown at almost every turn to make this happen and yet there is a part of the process that we are involved with- if we had not started to move forward, even in our weakness, this would not have taken place. We were the initiators.

While we are scrambling to do our part, however successful that may turn out to be, our new son still may not even know this is happening. This is so much how our conversion is, except God never fails at bringing sinners to Himself when He starts the process. As I sit here and read 2 Cor. 9:15 "Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!" I am amazed how similar this is to our adoption.

A gift need only be received by the recipient- there is no boasting by the recipient in the talent necessary to receive a gift. The gift and the giver are the only things to be glorified. Our new son will not be able to boast in being adopted because of some fantastic part he played in the process- he was alive and available to be adopted and the rest was completely out of his control.

When he arrives here the same will be true- there will be nothing to "keep him adopted" that is in his control- he is just the recipient. The same is true of our salvation- we are not able to boast in our conversion or in our sanctification. It is Christ and the Holy Spirit who are doing the work to keep us adopted and continually being sanctified, not us.

At the end of my life our new son will get whatever inheritance remains from our life under the sun and this too has nothing to do with him except that he would need to receive it in order that it might be his. There is no boasting in receiving an inheritance any more than the previous things- you receive an inheritance.

The inheritance left for our new son can look markedly different depending on what the economy does between now and when I put on my other tent, but God's inheritance to us is incorruptible, undefiled and does not fade away- even in a down economy- it is preserved in Heaven for us.

Perfect security from start to finish and for all of eternity- that is an gift worth talking about- even if there are no words to describe it. That is a gift and a Giver worth being excited about. Why worry about what happens in this life when God did not spare His own Son- how will He not also give us all things? the price He paid for our adoption is much higher than we are paying for our new son and yet He- for some reason- was willing and able to redeem us to Himself.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

He is Faithful

Faith seems hard to come by at times. I think about how difficult it is for me to trust and leave things up to God but when I read the stories in the Bible it looks unreasonable to not have faith.

The saints of old, their stories, unfold in the pages of Scripture telling of great faith resulting in amazing acts of faith, giving hope for future generations. But what made their faith so strong? How did they get such robust faith and without all the printed stories that we have to look back on. Imagine if our faith came only from the stories, verbally past on from the generations before us- what would our faith look like? What if the family we were raised in didn't have faith- then what would our own faith look like?

How did a guy like OT Joseph have such amazing faith- faith to rest in God's plan for him through all the adversity and trials he had to go through? Joseph was the favored son of a father who loved him so very much- he was a daddy's boy, born to Israel in his old age. Think about the pain that went through that family while all this was taking place. The guilt that must have been going through the older brothers' hearts as they told their father the lies to cover up their sin.

What was Joseph thinking as he was being put into the pit- what was he thinking as he was being brought back up? What must have been going through his mind as his own brothers were selling him to people he had never seen before and probably couldn't even understand what they were saying? How did he remain strong, trusting in God's plan, while all this was taking place? The stories he had heard the first 17 years of his life must have had a big impact on him. Did his father tell him all these stories and he just had no issues believing that this is how God works?

What will my kids' faith look like as they listen and watch me live a life of faith in front of them? They have the Bible now, but what if they didn't? The Holy Spirit works in our hearts to grow our faith after He implants it there in the first place, but the seeds of faith get planted along the way, in our own hearts and in the hearts of those around us, growing up to be big trees to continue the planting analogy, that we can look back and be reminded of what God did in our lives and in the lives of others.

I think that I can do a better job of proclaiming to the world what God is doing to build my faith. We can't keep hidden, or suppressed, the work He is doing to show His power in our lives and in the lives of those around us. It's not boasting to tell what God is doing in our lives because it is showing His greatness off in our weakness. "'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

We need not try to cover up our weaknesses because in those weaknesses His power is shown. How strong does someone have to be to accomplish something amazing while carrying the weight of another who is not contributing? We can proclaim to the world, and our own hearts, God's faithfulness- we must. This just enhances the work the Holy Spirit is doing in our own hearts. We need to tell others and ourselves, "look how amazing our God is- He did..."

We need to hide His promises in our hearts, have the stories of saints gone home in our hearts, have biographies of faithful ones and our own past graces ready for when the trials and testing comes, so we can look back on all that our Great God has done and say to our own hearts, "Great is your faithfulness".

SCC has a new album out. He wrote this in connection with the lose of his adopted daughter. This happened the same day as Grant's event, but we were allowed, by God, to keep Grant. I can partially relate to SCC as I think about the lose and think about "You give and take away" and how we must often declare it to our hearts- we must remind ourselves that God is faithful. Life is hard but God IS faithful. Joseph was convinced, Job was convinced, David was convinced, Jesus was convinced, Paul was convinced and we must be convinced.

Steven Curtis Chapman

I am broken, I am bleeding
I'm scared and I'm confused
But You are faithful, yes, You are faithful
I am weary and believing
God please help my unbelief
Cause You are faithful, yes, You are faithful

I will proclaim it to the world
I will declare it to my heart
I will sing it when the sun is shining
I will scream it in the dark

You are faithful, You are faithful
When You give and when You take away
Even then still Your name is faithful
You are faithful
And with everything inside of me
I am choosing to believe
You are faithful

I am waiting for the rescue
That I know will surely come
Cause You are faithful, yes, You are faithful
And I've dropped anchor in Your promises and I am holding on
Cause You are faithful, God, You are faithful

I will proclaim it to the world
I will declare it to my heart
I'll sing it when the sun is shining
I will scream it in the dark

You are faithful, You are faithful
When You give and when You take away
Even then still Your name is faithful
You are faithful
And with everything inside of me
I am choosing to believe
You're faithful
So faithful

When I cannot have the answer
That I'm wanting to demand
I'll remember You are God
And everything is in Your hands
With Your hands You put the sun and moon and stars up in the sky
For the sake of love You hung Your own son on the cross to die

And You are faithful
Yes, You are faithful
When You give, when You take away even then
Great is Your faithfulness
Great is Your faithfulness
And with everything inside of me
I am choosing to believe
You're faithful

When You give, when You take away
Even then, still Your name is faithful
You are faithful
And with everything inside of me
I am choosing to believe

You are faithful
You are faithful

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Past Grace Builds Tomorrow's Faith

Here are some thoughts connected to Piper's Future Grace series.

When I read stories in the Bible about people with large faith, or that were very effective for God, I often forget that they were relatively normal people. I have been thinking about Joseph and how God used him to change the lives of so many. How was Joseph different than you and I?

If you look at Joseph's life- from the early years- there were things that took place that could have been you and I. He had a dream- brothers bowing down before him. Now there was not too much discernment in telling your older brothers this story, was there? I don't have any brothers but I can see in almost every family this would get you in some serious trouble. Now granted, I don't think most brothers would have taken it to this level, but they would not have just let it slide.

Joseph's life had so many ups and downs. Favored above the brothers, sold into slavery, elevated among the slaves, thrown into prison, elevated among the prisoners, forgotten by the dreamer, elevated before the rulers and ends up the 2nd in command over the entire country. Up and down, up and down.

The Bible doesn't tell us about his attitude all the way through, but Joseph was not perfect and so he had good days and bad days in those up and down years, about 13-ish years worth. What kept him going? What kept him from getting cynical and angry at others mistreatment of him?

I think it was looking back on God's faithfulness and knowing that God had a plan and that there was just nothing for him to do but "Trust in the Lord" and wait for "Him to act". In each situation when he did what he knew to be right the outcome was up to God and all he could do was wait on the Lord.

A couple of years in prison here and there, slavery and evil women trying to seduce him and yet he did what he knew to be right and left it in God's hands. How hard would it have been to be sitting in prison knowing that you did exactly the right thing? Was there times he was despairing there in the prison? We are not told, but I think so. There were battles for his trust in God all the time and he just battled until God showed him where he would have him to be.

I have a hard time in the times of the unknown. I know I can't handle knowing, but it is so hard not knowing what will happen even in a month, let alone next year and beyond. Faith is produced when I look back on the past graces that God has given so many times. So many times He has carried me through and until He is finished with me here on earth He will have to keep carrying me through. I can't make it through anything w/o Him carrying me.

So then, as I look back on those past graces that build up the walls of my little "faith-house", the walls become stronger and stronger as each thing happens and each brick of past grace is laid on the wall. Pretty soon what would have really shaken my tiny little house doesn't even concern me. I can think back at the other "quakes" and remember, the last time we had a shake of this size it didn't do anything and there are more bricks now than then.

When I can look at those past events and know He is able to carry me through, then it gives me hope for the future because I know that He is building my faith all along and that faith, in what He has and will do, allows me to go through bigger trials than before, because my faith has been tested and is stronger. It is all His doing; His saving, His faith building, His allowing the testing at the perfect time, His graces, His carrying and His supplying the vision for me to be able to see the hope that is unseen- yet visible.

Joseph had to have great faith to wait on the Lord to renew his strength. He didn't have a bunch of verses memorized because there wasn't any written down yet. He had past grace, in his own life and in the stories he heard, to look to and that was it. Looking to God was all he had and that was what he did.

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Inn is full

I listened to the J Piper "The Innkeeper" again this am. I have heard the "Christmas story" so many times I can't begin to count, but I never really considered what it would have been like to be a "normal" person in that time.

No room in the inn would have been par for the course for almost everyone living at that time and I don't think it is too much different today.

The political leader was trying to make sure he wasn't "dethroned" by some little child that was foretold so long ago. Maybe he learned that from one of his predecessors- Pharaoh- maybe he just came about it naturally, being a greedy, power hungry monarch trying to make his name stick in the history books. Is it any different today? Who are those rulers who are standing up for Christ and making room in their "kingdoms" for Him?

What about the soldiers who were under Caesar's command? Could they have rebelled against their leader, did they actually want too? It certainly doesn't seem as if they were against any of this killing. Maybe this Jesus would get rid of them if He took control. Maybe He had a totally different way of running things and they would be turned into slaves? Could they take a chance on that, or should they stick to things the way they were- kill or be killed. Is that an different today? Is there room in the hearts of most of our military personnel for Christ? I served a few years and I didn't see that happening too much.

What about the religious leaders? They were worried about being on the wrong side of the new religious system. The current leaders were stating their case and making sure they pushed down whomever brought up something that made them look, in the least bit, bad. They had their way of doing things- we've always done it this way- and they were not going to hear of anything different. What about today? Where are those religious leaders who are willing to stand up against all the "new" religious ways- homosexual pastors, same sex marriage, evo-creation and the list goes on. Christmas is a nice story to most religious leaders today.

And what about the people who were just regular old people then? What is all the ruckus about? It's just another baby. Yeah right- the Messiah we have been hearing about is born in a stable to a couple of regular people. And what about all the scandal surrounding this Mary? Sure- she's a virgin. When was the last time you saw that? We'll wait to see what happens and when it turns out that this Jesus grows up like the rest of our boys then we'll know He wasn't anything special. He is nothing special to look at and He has no power, no royal blood and no fanfare that can be seen.

Is it different today? People, even church going people seem to think that Jesus is just an accessory to who they are- you can put Him on and off when it's convenient. Sunday morning is for church and the rest of the week is for doing what I want to do- right? I mean I can be a Christian and still do all the things I used to do- I have liberty. Look how many people I am helping. I'm not like those "other" people who don't have any room in their hearts for Him- He gets Sunday morning, as long as it's not Superbowl Sunday, or as long as I don't have a game to go to. He will understand that sports, vacations, family time, and whatever else I can cram in, are rally good things- right?

There was no room in the inn and it seems there is no room in most people's lives today. Too many distractions and not enough time for the true meaning of life and Christmas. We look back and say, "They totally missed it", but would we have missed it too? Would our lives have been to crowded to see that this is the One? Too busy getting ready for the weekend. Too busy getting ready to have company over, cooking and cleaning? Too busy thinking about slaughtering the lamb for dinner to see that The Lamb was born for sinners?

Oh, I think many today would have missed it. Our lives are much too crowded with stuff to have enough time to stop and realize that the King is here. What does He require? Sunday mornings? All day Sunday? He requires ALL our lives to be lived for Him- whatever that looks like. Each is in a different place and each has the opportunity to live for the Messiah or live for themselves. Which will it be? Is there room in your heart for this Jesus, or is it too full of good things to even add one more?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Special Gift

A friend of mine got me a cd of Andrea Bocelli and we were listening to it last night in the house. Teresa made the comment that his voice is so high and that he sings so effortlessly. What a gift God has given him to be able to sing. Not all people are given voices to sing beautifully and I think that in some cases that is because they would not be able to handle that praise that comes with such a gift- but it is a gift.

Not that there has not been an abundance of work that has gone into exercising the voice and practicing for countless hours, but it doesn't matter how many hours I practice my voice will never sound like that.

When T made that statement I immediately thought about how effortlessly we are able to do things when we are doing it in God's way. He provides the strength and ability and it fits perfectly into who He has made us to be as His child. He has planned all that we are to be in this life and when we follow His leading it should not be like pulling teeth to get up and do our work each day- we are where God wants us to be when we get up and "get to go to work" each day.

It will be interesting to see where God takes each one of us in this next year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Be a Waiter not a Whiner

I have been listening to a message by J. Piper on the sin of impatience. Patience -"The opposite of impatience is a deepening, sweetening willingness to stand in the place that God has appointed or to move at the pace that God has appointed… to stand in God’s place or go at his pace" which I don't do well most of the time- unfortunately.

I am geared to want to get lots of things done and have lots of things on my plate, but there are times when this is not what God has in mind for me, and I must not murmer or complain about anything or it is sin. So hard to do.

There are so many instances in the Bible when the Israeliets knew what God wanted them to do and yet it didn't come at the pace they had in mind and so they went around God's plan for them, and that didn't work out so good for them. He is serious about our obedience.

It is interesting that His promises are for those who wait for His way and His pace and He punishes those who try to "help" with the process.

So here I sit, arm in a sling, waiting for papers to go through for the adoption, waiting for clients to call to bring in business and that's about all I can do. I hate feeling helpless, or unuseful, but maybe that is exactly where He wants me to be. His Word is filled with so many promises of what comes to those who wait on the Him and I want to be a "Waiter" instead of a "Whiner".

Is. 30:9 These are rebellious people, deceitful children,
children unwilling to listen to the LORD's instruction.

Who wants to be this kind of a child? Not me.

15 This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says:
"In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.

So hard to be quiet and rest- but that is where my salvation is.

16 You said, 'No, we will flee on horses.'
Therefore you will flee!
You said, 'We will ride off on swift horses.'
Therefore your pursuers will be swift!

Horses aren't fast enough, because God makes the enemies horses faster.

18 Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you;
he rises to show you compassion.
For the LORD is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!

"Learning to walk by faith and not sight is hard. It was hard for Abraham and Sarah. It is hard for all of us. God designed it that way. It is his process of mercifully weaning us off of self-sufficient delusion and letting us taste the joy of what it means to hope in him alone. Learning to patiently trust a promise from God develops our capacity to really hope in eternal life. We learn not to trust our perceptions or emotions but God’s promises. And over time the unseen reality of heaven becomes more real to us. There is nothing like the experience of tasting hope when all looked hopeless to teach the soul that the death we fear is not the end." Jon Bloom- Newsletter for Desiring God Ministries.

BLESSED are those who wait for Him, and NOT blessed are those who don't wait- who try to make it happen on their own- try to strategize a way to get out from under the "waiting" and "resting" that God appoints. May I learn this lesson and go to The Word as my defense against the sin of impatience.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Handel's Messiah

Most people have heard excerpts from Handel's Messiah, or have listened to the entire masterpiece. Composed in only 22 days and using only Scripture as text this is a magnificent piece of music and a great way to learn God's Word and get it into your heart that you may sing the glories of our Great God as you go.

As a child I listened to my dad's 3 album set and if it was not worn out from listening it was very close. I can safely say that I listened to the entire work more than a hundred times.

Today as I read through my own copy of God's Word it is fun to see those texts scattered throughout both the Old and New Testaments. I would encourage you to get a good copy of this work and listen to it with your family, if not the entire year, at least at Christmas. That would be a good way to change the culture in your family.

I can give you a source for a GOOD copy.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Intimate Communion with God

"Shall we not each one of us determine to labor more in prayer; to cultivate more intimate communion with God by His help; thinking less of our working and more of His working, that He may in very deed be glorified in and through us? If we can and will do this, I am quite sure that ere long there will be abundant evidence of it in the improved state of our congregations and churches, in the preparedness of the people for the message, and in the power with which it is delivered. More souls will be saved; the believers will lead more holy lives and our own knowledge of God and joy in Him will be multiplied. Surely we ought to lead beautiful live, glorious lives, if we are really with Him Who is The Chiefest among The Thousand, The Altogether Lovely! The people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits." Hudson Taylor

Read it again- it's worth it.

Eph. 3:14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Friday, December 18, 2009

What do you prize?

"Set NOT your hearts on the flowers of this world. They shall fade and die. Prize the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valley. He changes not! Live nearer to Christ than to any person on this earth; so that when they are taken, you may have Him to love and lean upon." Robert Murray M'Cheyne

Time to Wake up!

Here is something to think about at Christmas time and all the time. What are we doing to change this? Could we or our students help change what is happening? Could we be the ones to stand in the gap and make a difference? The need is not rocket scientist but those who will care for children and teach them about Christ. Is this you? Is this me?

"For many children, the invisible wounds of war leave the greatest mark. We heard of one young girl whose village was attacked by rebels. Residents were led into the center of town, where they were all slaughtered. Somehow, she survived, hidden under those who fell. After she was sure the attackers were gone, she freed herself, walking out across all the bodies.

Rescuers found her and were amazed. For weeks, she was silent about the ordeal. Finally, she began to share her horror. It was not the fear of being shot, or the feeling of being trapped in the midst of all the bodies that lingered. In her village, placing the bottom of one’s foot on someone was a sign of ultimate disrespect. Somehow, she could not free herself from the feelings of guilt at having walked over all those people she honored and loved.

Why doesn’t this madness stop? Around the year 2000, the UN created Millennium Development Goals with the aim of improving the world through human development by 2015. The goals were agreed to by the UN’s 191 member states. It was estimated that the goals for reducing poverty, child abuse, and disease, and also improving education, literacy, and health care around the world could be achieved at an annual cost of $40-70 billion. In comparison, global military spending in 2005 totaled $956 billion. [Associated Press, “Half of Kids Suffer War, Poverty, AIDS.”] (UPDATE: The world’s nations are now spending more than one trillion per year to wage our wars.) ["The World at War"]

Christians are at the forefront of peace and reconciliation movements. They’re active in serving refugees and displaced persons, they’re meeting needs where possible. But the global culture hasn’t changed. Stopping conflicts and caring for the children simply does not seem to be a worldwide priority. [Pages 84-86]

Source: Sylvia Foth, Daddy Are We There Yet? (A global check-in on the world of mission and kids), Kidzana Ministries, Mukilteo, 2009" Doug Nichol's blog

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Win by Love

"It is Christ’s love, known and felt, which creates the spirit seen in such men Robert Murray M’Cheyne whose hearers believed that he was ‘dying to have them converted’. ‘We win by love,’ says Spurgeon. ‘We win hearts for Jesus by love, by sympathy with their sorrows, by anxiety lest they should perish, by pleading with God for them with all our hearts that they would not be left to die unsaved, by pleading with them for God that, for their own sake, they would seek mercy and find grace.’"
Quoted in Morris, Memoirs of Fuller, pp. 80, 82

What's Your Greatest Gift?

What is the greatest gift you have ever received? Think back through all your Christmases and birthdays; maybe the greatest gift came on a random day of the year for you. Think hard. What gift would you most want to keep, or said the other way, which gift would you least want to give up?

In my life I have been given many things. I remember when I was about 8 I had a paper route. I rode all over the little town we lived in. I asked for a new bike and I got a 10 speed. Of course it came "under the Christmas tree" so it was rainy the first 3 months I had it, but I kept it in my room and when the time came to ride it I made "a lot" of money with it. I even would ride into town and buy groceries for my sisters and they would pay me in food. It's a good think I rode a lot or I would have weighed a lot more than I did. I really loved that gift. I'm sure when I got it there was happiness written all over my face. But that gift's value faded. Today it has probably been through a metal compactor and has no value.

26 years ago yesterday I got the gift of a wife. This gift has been with me much longer than the bike and has given back to me in so many ways. Spouses stretch us to untold lengths. Teresa's patience has been tested so many times over these years and she has had to do things she would have never dreamed of doing. She has been an amazing helper to me, a hard person to help, and has given our family 3 kids and has nurtured them and loved them. I can't imagine not having this gift from God. Thanks for 26 great years Teresa.

Having a wife is a stewardship opportunity maybe unmatched by any other. She has been under my care longer than she was under her parent's, so if there is something I don't like, it is probably my fault. Trying to figure out what is best for her while still working on the many areas in my own life that need work, is challenging work, but that is what God has called husbands to do. There is much work to do on me and hopefully while He is working on me, she will see that I am trying to help her.

Was a bike the greatest gift I have ever received? Is Teresa my greatest gift? Measuring the worth of a gift has to be done by what our lives would be worth if it were taken away. W/o the bike my life now is no different. Without Teresa my life would be much different. It would look very different than it does today, but not completely. The greatest gift each believer has ever been given is the Gift of Salvation through the blood of the Son.

Take away salvation and what do I have left? What is there left to live for? PG had better succeed in an amazing way if there is no salvation, because much of my "worth" will be measured by how successful I have been in business. If the kids don't turn out well and there is no salvation then I am a failure as a parent. If there is no salvation in Christ I had better get as many toys as are available in this life because "He who dies with the most toys wins", right?

BUT, if my greatest treasure/gift is the Salvation that has been purchased by His blood, then all the rest of those things don't matter very much. I won't be measured by any of those things in eternity. My family will be, Lord willing, in Heaven with me, my earthly successes will not matter one bit in Heaven- there are so many people who have been filthy rich on earth that not one single person remembers anything about today- maybe even your great-great grandfather.

We are studying 1 Peter in 128 and J Sarr has been faithfully going through the text. Shouldn't our lives look different than those of the world because of the amazing Gift? Our focus should be on completely different things than those that are considering their greatest gift their wealth, or family, or health. God can take all those things away immediately and then what is left if we don't have Christ?

Salvation should cause us to Hope. "We set ourselves up for disappointment because we place our hope in the wrong things. Is our hope a good investment for our heart? If our hope is in God who is unchangeable then that is a good investment. There is a cause for hope. It is grounded in the truths of His Word- promised to deliver. This is a certain hope and exactly what Peter’s readers needed- it would come in eternity." "This kind of hope would bring about in us a grateful heart, frequent praise, eager anticipation of eternity, a happy heart, joyful spirit, deep and sincere love for Christ, a hunger for the Word, a curiosity of the Word, and conversation dominated by spiritual things." J Sarr.

Salvation should cause us to live holy lives. "Wanting to know more of God’s Word is a natural response for the believer and makes us long to live in obedience to that Word. This comes with a desire to sever ties from who we once were and live to the new person God has made us to be." J Sarr

Salvation should cause us to honor, or fear the Lord. "If we are saved, the entire time we are on earth we should understand that we are exiled from our true Home and live in such a way that others will see that it doesn't matter if we lose all our earthly possessions, we still have Christ waiting for us, interceding for us, at the right hand of the Father. He is our Hope in Heaven- the One Who is able to save, the One with the power to keep His promises."J Sarr paraphrased.

That is a great Gift. If I lose all I currently have that I can see, and He allows me to keep Him, then I have not lost anything. We can't live on unseen things with some wimpy faith. He gives faith as we walk through this life's trials and He builds our faith through each one. Trials are hard, but hard times make us long for Heaven and focus us back where our focus truly needs to be-Him.

If we are saved we should long to have others receive this greatest gift. If we are saved we should live like this is our greatest gift- it should be the most talked about thing in our lives. Can you believe that God gave the Gift of His Son so that we might be saved? Shouldn't we be excited about that amazing Gift?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Should your Kids have a Facebook?

Douglas Wilson wrote something I think those of us with kids, who were kids or have grand kids should read this post.

Dark and Lonely

"I have come to believe that a Christian leader's greatest mentor are the dark, lonely times in which God marks our souls with that profound sense of our need for Him." Crawford W. Loritts, Jr.

I don't think we often praise "Dark and lonely times" as great mentors. But I am certainly learning more in these times than I have in other, more "bright and sunny" times. There comes a time when we finally realize we can do NOTHING w/o Him. It's a hard road getting there.

He works all things together for our good, even darkness and loneliness.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

To Speak or NOT To Speak

This is some what in connection with my last post-"I'm NOT so Smart".

As a friend, father and husband I have many opportunities to either make peoples lives better or worse. Often it is what is said, more than done, that is the thing that changes the outcome. If we perfectly control our tongues we are then perfect people, which means we will never be perfect, but our goal is to be perfect even as Christ is perfect. How can we always say the right things, at the right time and in the right tone, with the right motive and attitude? I can't because I don't continually walk in the Spirit. That makes me difficult to live with.

Recently I had a discussion with a friend of mine; I think we are still friends, but I may have changed the relationship because of something I said. It really is hard to be a good friend- I mean that. There are times I think I should just not say anything, from here on out, because look what me saying something caused. But then I know that as a good friend I need to say something if I know something that they may not know. I have been in more trouble with T for NOT saying something than for saying something.

So as I think about both of my friends- T being my longest friendship- I try to analyze what I should say, how I should say it and in what way to say it. Often I don't have time to answer the question being asked right at the time and I should give some sort of answer or then I will be viewed as being rude.

Here's the question on the most recent relationship challenge. I voiced some concern that I thought might come up in my friends life. I have no proof of what did previously happen, or even if this is something that has a good chance of happening to to them in the future- I just really don't want to see them get hurt. In my saying something it caused my friend to be really anxious- to the point of almost being sick- and that is NOT what I wanted to happen.

There are a couple of obvious things for me to learn from this, but still others I am not sure what to do.
1. I must be walking in the Spirit all the time and if I am not then my words can easily be hurtful.
2. My motive must be not only pure but I must be able to communicate that to the person with whom I am talking.
3. I must know the person well enough- have a good enough relationship- to say hard things to them. "They will not care how much you know until they know that you care".

Are there times when I should just not say anything and just let God take care of it, or are we always to say something if we see something that might be an issue? I have had this happen to me so many times it is not funny. As unobservant as I am, something would be happening and it would hit me as a bit "off" yet I would not say anything and then a month or two or even a year later the issue would come to the surface and I would think, "I totally saw that coming, so why didn't I say anything?"

It is so hard to know the right thing to do, all the time. I want to be a good friend and husband, but I am weak and lazy and often want to take the easy way out and not say anything, because I know that this may cause someone else pain- but it may cause pain if I don't say anything. Catch 22.

I think that my conscience has to be my guide and that the Holy Spirit directs our conscience to say what needs to be said. Not that I think I am a prophet, but they had to say some pretty hard things to some pretty elevated people and they knew what they were supposed to do and if they didn't do it the sin was on their heads.

I want to be an encouragement to others by what I do and say. I think God has placed each one of us here for a unique purpose and maybe that unique purpose is to say hard things to people. Telling a parent that they are not being a good parent is a hard thing to say, but if it changes the family's life because the hard thing was said then it is worth the heart ache.

I am lacking so much in so many areas and only God can give the strength and wisdom for me to do all these things well. May I walk in the Spirit so others may see the good deeds, and words, in my life and glorify the Father who is in Heaven, knowing that there is no way this could come from inside me. I want to be a man after God's own heart and I have a long way to go.

"A man who loves you the most is the man who tells you the most truth about yourself." Robert Murray M'Cheyne

I'm NOT so Smart

A short conversation from last night when someone saw that I have my arm in a sling;
They: "what happened?",
Me; "I had shoulder surgery last week",
They; "No wonder you're haven't been blogging"
Me; "That's my excuse for not blogging, what is yours for not posting a comment:)".

All in fun, but a good reminder that I truly think most people get more from the comments others make regarding my posts than they do from the original post. Please comment.

Lately, and just a few moments ago while lying in my bed not sleeping, I have been thinking about how little I know about any of the areas I am supposed to know things about.

As a small business owner there are so many things that I am supposed to know lots about that are directly related to our business and then things that others would not necessarily expect me to know things about but if I don't we are at an extreme disadvantage. For example; I am supposed to know a lot about counter top fabrication and installation, about kitchen design and back-splash/counter top coordination. I do have a very good understanding of those things, but there are things that I know a little about but to be really successful I need to know a lot about them.

We had a new website built. I contracted a guy to built it who is a "web site expert". Well when it was all said and done it took him a year and he built it using an old platform "inside" of the site. The site looks great but there are changes that needed to be made but we couldn't easily make the changes because of the older platform. We hire a SEO- search engine optimization- person to increase the amount of traffic we get to our site and he can't do all that he needs to do because of this problem. We have a "request for quote" section in the site and it doesn't work as well as it should because our hosting site was not communicating perfectly with it. The list goes on and on, and that is just web things.

How can we know all these things? Einstein said, "you don't have to know all the answers but you need to know where to find them". I don't even know all the questions to ask to begin to look for the answers, and this is just in a small section of our business. What about husbandry, fathering children, leading a small group or being a friend?

This makes me respect Solomon so much more when I consider that people came just to test his knowledge and he was more wise than they even thought he was; the "urban legend" exceeded the hype. That is certainly NOT me.

James 1:5 "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him." Through out my life I didn't ever think I was smarter than my dad but I often thought I had a pretty good understanding of what I was doing. The longer I am alive the less I think I know. Shouldn't it go the others way? Shouldn't I gain understanding in more areas? I think I am gaining understanding of some things but at the same time I am seeing how much more I don't know about even the area that I am learning about.

This is sort of like sin; the closer we get to Christ-likeness the more holy we become but we then see our sin that remains and it feels like they are multiplying rather than dividing.

Both of these places I believe are good places to be- seeing our dependency on God-leaning not on our own understanding- and seeing our sin for what it really is. They are hard places to be because they require humility to be there and stay there and our flesh wants to push us to the front and say "You're not so bad" or "You're pretty smart" and that is just sin crouching at our door. Living in total dependence on Christ is where we always need to live. We will not "arrive" until we actually do arrive in Heaven and until then we are dependent, sinful people who have much to learn about a lot of things.

"Spirit of God, descend upon my heart;
wean it from earth; through all its pulses move;
stoop to my weakness, mighty as thou art,
and make me love thee as I ought to love."
George Croly

Thursday, December 10, 2009


"The Christian is a person who makes it easy for others to believe in God." Robert Murray M'Cheyne

I must ask myself "How am I doing here?" How I live says much more about who I am than what I say. Do others see me living it out?

Mercies New

Happier were the victims of the sword
than the victims of hunger,
who wasted away, pierced
by lack of the fruits of the field.

The hands of compassionate women
have boiled their own children;
they became their food
during the destruction of the daughter of my people.

This vein of thought comes from listening to a Piper sermon and has got me thinking. Of course I have listened to it a bunch of times now so it is sinking in a bit more.

Those verses are brutal. Can you imagine wishing you were killed with a sword rather than be as hungry as you are currently. Can you then imagine how hungry a mother would have to be to boil and eat her own children? That is pretty hard to connect with normal American life and fatness. Especially as we go into this "see how many cookies we can eat in one day" time of year.

The context of these verses is that Israel- God's chosen nation- His people- His most loved- is under attack from Babylon so severely that there was no food and everything was turned upside down. There were no princes who looked or lived like princes. The elders at the gate were no longer there but were scavenging for food. The entirety of the nation was groaning under the oppression. Could it get worse?

The complete book is just sad to read when you think about how glorious is their position and how amazing it must have been to see them in their prime and how great was their fall. Side note- this could easily be America.

In the middle of a book filled with all this sadness, suffering and starvation comes a few verses of encouragement.
22 The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 "The LORD is my portion," says my soul,
"therefore I will hope in him."

I have never had it so hard as to watch a mom have to eat her own children. I have seen hungry children in Ethiopia but nothing like this-yet. Ethiopia was very hard to see, but also good to see and good to then recall. In the midst of that kind of hurting and hunger and in the midst of my comparatively easy life, when things happen, and they always seem to come in groves, many times I am left with "only" His mercies are new every morning, great is His faithfulness.

This verse has frequently been an encouragement to me, but even more now when I read it in the context of how REALLY hard the time was when it was written. I am often discouraged by the amount of things that are sitting in front of me that need to be carried. If as young people we have a book bag of things that need to be carried and as we get older it turns into a wheelbarrow full it seems that just a little while later we look up to find that there is an entire dump truck full of things, what can we do?

I look at the pile and think it is too heavy. It certainly is too heavy- there is no way I can carry the amount of things in this pile, even if it were cut in half. But instead of looking at the pile and trying to figure out exactly how much it weighs and then figure out how exactly I will be able to carry it and keep it all balanced, I need to be looking to the One Who actually will be carrying the entire pile and realize that that pile is tiny for Him. It doesn't even amount to the weight of a speck of dust for Him. I need to look to the "Carrier" rather than at the load.

How different my life would be if I could just do that each day and every minute of each day. His mercies are here for today's trials, His strength is here to carry today's burdens and when we are weak then and only then is it that His real power can be shown in us.

The hurricane producing, Mt. St. Helens blowing, tsunami creating, heavens holding, wind originating, ocean restricting God is the same God who gives us new mercies for each day's trials. If He can make sure the tide only goes to "this line" on every ocean on the planet every minute of every day, He knows exactly what I need and will not allow more than that to come. I don't know about you, but that is comforting to me. He knows, He cares and He ALONE has the power to change whatever needs to be changed.

"Live near to God, and all things will appear little to you in comparison with eternal realities." Robert Murray M'Cheyne

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Matt. 6, 7 and Lam. 3

I'm trying to put all this together so at least I can say I understand what I am supposed to be doing; then there will be the difficult task of actually doing it.

We are not supposed to worry. Worry is a sin. Matt. 6 talks about not worrying about what you shall eat or about clothes; both the most basic things. If we are not supposed to worry about those things then we are not to be worrying about global warming, stock markets, family health, future business and the list goes on and on. But what about "you have not because you ask not"?

Without worrying what the outcome will be I think God wants us to come ask Him for whatever is on our hearts. I truly think that He loves to have us asking and asking all the time for every little thing. He is a patient and loving Father Who loves to give good gifts.

Matt. 7:7 "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

This seems like He is saying we will get what we ask for, but does it? We are told that we don't have because we don't ask and then it says here ask and you shall receive. But what does it actually say we will receive? Good gifts.

So if I ask for more business for PG does that mean that it will come? Maybe. That is not very reassuring except for the fact that I don't ever really know exactly what I need and God does. He promises that all things will work together for my good and He never breaks His promise. So if I am asking for more sales for PG, and I am a lot, He may give us more sales, but FOR SURE He will give us something really good. Because since I am evil and I know how to give good gifts, then He will be much better at giving the best gift.

So then what will this possibly look like all together? I am asking for what I think I need. I must be asking with a humble and repentant heart. I must try to discern what God would want for me, but my heart is evil and desperately wicked, so I may be asking for something that is contrary to His will. Jesus is making intercession for me and the Holy Spirit is also "translating" for me to the Father. I ask for what I thing I need and He takes those requests and fills them with exactly what I need and His promise is that it is better than what I have asked for.

This might come in the form of persecution instead of rest. It might come in the form of sickness instead of ministry fruitfulness. The sickness may result in ministry fruitfulness. Whatever it is I can rest in knowing that it is what is best for me right now.

I have often thought "I can't take anymore, it's too heavy". That is actually true in one sense- in fact I can't take any of it. All the the carrying comes from Him. When the burdens gets heavy I need to remind myself of Lam. 3:22-24. "His mercies are new every morning- great is His faithfulness". He gives enough mercy for today's trouble and tomorrow's trouble will have an entirely different set of mercies for the trouble that comes with them. There will be trouble tomorrow for sure. Matt. 6 "don't worry about tomorrow because tomorrow has enough trouble of its own" means don't worry about the trouble that is coming tomorrow because there is a new set of mercies coming with them and today's mercies are all spent on today. There is no carry over.

So ask, ask, ask. Pray, pray, pray. Wait on Him. Know that He answers prayer. He always give us what is best, but that does not necessarily mean what we have asked for- Jesus never said the little boy got a fish, he just didn't get a snake. Don't worry about what might come tomorrow. Plan as best as you can and wait for God to give you exceedingly, abundantly above what you can ask or think.

This is relatively easy to put into words, but so hard for me to put into practice. Oh for grace to trust Him more. We have our yesterday's in order for us to look back on and that builds our faith as we see all the times He has carried us through each of those difficulties. I can rejoice in knowing that He has carried me through Grant's event, last years craziness, this years craziness, provided an agency for the orphans and the list is endless.

At the end of all this He want us to be thankful before, during and after. Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Pot named Peter

Why did Jesus pick Peter? Why did Jesus pick any of His disciples? For that matter, why does God pick any of us?

Imagine Peter as a fisherman, as a business partner, father, husband or friend.

He must have been a good fisherman because that is what he did to make a living. It seems like if that is what you're doing to support your family you must be at least ok at it. He would have been interesting to hang out in the boat, or mend nets, with all the time. His partners had to spend lots of time with this guy who had an opinion about everything and was not afraid to tell it. Here was a guy who spoke before he thought and worried little about what others felt until it was already on the table. Did he ever stop talking? Did any of the rest of the men ever say anything when Peter was around?

Was he a good dad? Did he have kids? If so, he may have been the kind of guy who was a good provider but was more concerned with work than with what was happening at home. He spoke to the kids before he thought about what they were going to feel and he expected them to be at the front of the class as leaders. As a husband he was loving in his own way. Extremely loyal to his wife, good provider but there was no question who was the boss. He was a Jewish man who took his place seriously.

He took Provers 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend... to a whole new level. As a friend, there were many wounded around him. He was going to tell you what he thought whether you liked it, or him, or not. He saw "clearly" what the issue was and he wanted to make sure you knew he saw it. You really wanted Peter on your side, but there were certainly times when that cost you some skin and you wondered if you had friends like this do you really need enemies.

Peter was a man of amazing faith and yet Jesus only told him personally that his faith was little- ironically right after he jumped out of the boat. His faith moved from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows within seconds or feet- however you want to measure it.

Peter was a man of immense courage and no courage. He rebuked Jesus and even chopped off the servant of the high priest's ear, in front of the guards. He wasn't afraid of anyone, except a small girl.

How could Jesus pick Peter? How could the Son of God, the One Who knows exactly what He's getting when He picks someone- how could HE pick Peter? He knew Peter was all over the map. He, if anyone, knew Peter was never in balance, not often quiet and was going to give Him a lot of things to fix. Peter walked and talked and left a wake of wounded behind Him that Jesus would have to heal. But Peter was in Jesus' "fav 12". In fact, Peter was in Jesus' "Fav 3".

Should Jesus have picked someone who was more balanced- more stable? Well, someday you can ask Jesus that yourself if you end up in Heaven. But Jesus knew exactly what He was doing when He picked Peter- He knew exactly what He was getting into- exactly what He was picking.

Most of the negative things are in me. How can I be useful to Christ with all those things? How can I be a business man, with no college education, not status, no credentials and lots of quirky character traits and still be useful to Christ? How can I have lots of faith one minute and have it dashed on the rocks the next and be useful? How can I be the one who talks before he thinks and be useful for Christ? Peter wanted, more than anything, to be useful for Christ. He wanted to set the pace for the others to follow and he didn't really care if others took issue with him, just follow. If that meant death then so be it- but follow.

Peter was rebuked harder than anyone except the Pharisees. Peter was in a category by himself and that was not necessarily the category he wanted to be in. But Peter loved his Master. Peter wanted more than anything to please His Master. He was a very close and loyal friend to Jesus. Peter lived where Jesus lived and saw what Jesus saw and he liked it so much that he wanted to build Jesus a house so they could all live together, even if they were up on the mountain- that didn't matter as long as he could be close to Jesus.

I want to live with Jesus. I want to follow close to Jesus. I know if Jesus can use a "normal" guy like Peter maybe He can use someone like me too. Maybe. Hopefully. Should I change who I am? Did Peter change? Peter grew in grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ and God used Peter to change the world. I want to be a clay pot like Peter- not special but certainly very useful to the Master. Peter was one of Jesus' favorite pots to use and He used that beat up pot a lot.

I am thankful that He picked someone like Peter because most all of those "negative" things in Peter are in me and probably in some of you, and that gives me hope- hope of usefulness.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


This morning SKH talked about Noah's time in the ark- around 1 year. Can you imagine being in the ark for an entire year? Thoughts of our dark, dreary winter days and night; and we have lights and windows and there are days of sunshine.

After the ark came to rest there were months of waiting for God to give the word to emerge to the world outside of who knows what. Noah had to wait and then wait some more. God didn't tell him what was coming and He didn't give him any promises to tell him what was coming either.

I so often want the answers of what might be coming. I think I want to know what might be coming- how bad or good it will be- but I really probably can't handle knowing anyway. Life around the flood, before and after, was hard, much harder than I have it and Noah still persevered.

I want so much to be a man who waits on the Lord, but my flesh is SOO weak. Building faith takes time and the process is painful but this is what I am supposed to be waiting on. May He change me into His image and give me the grace to continue to trust His work. He never gives more than we can handle though often I feel like I must be very close to the limit. I must not look at the load but look at the One who is able to carry it.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

God Will Provide

"For us, it was a continued exercise of faith that we would have the right drugs and supplies at the right time. We recall how much we counted on our X-ray machine, something we take for granted [at home]. We even had the opportunity to get an extra one when a friend of ours, a doctor with the U.S. Embassy, asked if we could use a portable X-ray machine. . . . But then as the months dragged out, we knew it must be lost at sea. Then one day our big X-ray machine stopped working. We found it was a major problem which would take several months to fix. . . . But that very afternoon, the ELWA truck pulled up to the hospital with a huge crate from port. You guessed it—it was the portable X-ray machine! We plugged it in, and it worked! We didn't lose a day for X-rays." Dr. Robert Schindler and his wife, Marian, founded a mission hospital associated with radio station ELWA in Monrovia, Liberia. From their book Mission Possible.

Wild Week

Life is full of crazy twists and turns but I hope the path I am on is straight and narrow.

This week has been no exception from what seems to be my "norm", with many people at the house, work going along, meetings and many uncontrollable things happening around me. I say "uncontrollable" because they are uncontrollable to me, not Him.

I have been petitioning with the Father in quite a few arenas lately and He always answers our prayers, just not always in the way or the time that I think it should be done. I did change pronouns because I wanted to be inclusive of all OUR prayers and didn't want to necessarily want to place all of you into my basket of small faith. If you think you should be in it then jump in with me.

The significant areas of wrestling with God are sales for PG and an agency for the kids in Ethiopia. I'll start with the kids since that is may be closer to finished and happened first chronologically.

Without an agency to work with, the orphanage can't place kids and those kids are not provided for, if some are not being placed. That is the real short way of saying this. Through a series of "uncontrollable" circumstances the previous agency went away and so the founder of the orphanage thought that they may have to shut it down. Why would God bring all those kids together and put them in, not only the lives of their caregivers in Ethiopia but in our hearts after seeing them there, to then be left orphans again? That was my question to God; Why? Are You not going to take care if them? Are you going to live them after bringing them in?

The answer seems like it can always be "For MY Glory". I want God to answer quickly and exactly how I want Him to. That's not how He works and His answer is always better. This week the orphanage got not just one agency but 2, which will make it easier to get more kids placed because there is more people to help spread out the work load. Praise Him for His excellent work. He is the Father to the fatherless- Jehovah Jireh- The Lord Who Provides.

Sales at PG. It has been a pretty busy week with people coming in and it seems there are many projects in the works. Leads, projects, appointments and the likes do not pay salaries, light bill and mortgages. The bank takes cash not promises. Waiting on God takes faith.

Last night I came home pretty discouraged at our ability to get people from the point of looking to making a decision. Many seem like they are interested in us working with them but are non committal. I came home and sat in this chair and started to read my Hudson Taylor book. His life is a big encouragement to me. I have been reading my Bible a lot and praying more than is par for me, but what is God trying to teach me and will I learn it before it is too late for PG?

Teresa had picked up a movie called "Flywheel" and she said that the people at the rental store told her it was made cheaply but it was really good. I wanted to read. She tenderly got me to go watch the movie, though reluctantly. Good movie and the critics were right- cheap but good message, especially for me right now.

A Christian movie with a message about my own life literally right now. How does God do those kinds of things? When I came down from watching the movie I had received a package and it had some encouraging words that I needed to read. How does God do that? When I finished reading those I checked my email and a project that I have spent a fair amount of time on emailed me back and said they are on and "Do you take Visa?" How does God do that?

We are far from "out of the woods" in either of these forests but both of these things are really out of my control and so I just need to trust and wait on Him. That is so hard for me to do. I don't want to be the person that God has to continue to teach the same lesson to over and over again. I want to get it the first or second time- do I really know what He is trying to teach me right now? Could it be as simple as "give it to me"?

May I be teachable and willing to learn.

Ps. 130:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts- or anxieties!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!

This is where I want to live.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

What about the Kids?

This is from my friend Doug Nichols Blog and I think it is worth the read and is a good reminder to those in ministry not to over look the young people.

"So, why focus on ministry to kids?"

"As we consider how to reach the 4.4 billion people on our planet who do not know Jesus (yet), it is essential that we consider ministry to kids, not just adults. Let’s review the reasons:

Kids are everywhere! There are 2.2 billion children under 18 (33% of our world). In many of the developing countries, where we find the greatest population of unreached people, kids are at least 50% of the population. Although they do not fit the exact definition of a “people group,” because they belong to so many different cultural backgrounds, together their numbers make them the largest unreached group on our planet.

Kids are Reachable:
They have the time to listen, the availability, and the interest. They are not afraid to respond when they feel the Holy Spirit drawing them to Christ. In several Campus Crusade trainings I’ve been part of, we learned that 25% of people will likely respond to receive the gospel when it is presented personally, fully. In my over 20 years of evangelism experience, I find that nearly 50% of kids are likely to respond. Not a small thing. In some ways, kids are like the guests in the parable of the banquet in Luke 14. They are invited last to the celebration, yet are the most available to attend and to respond to the generous gifts of the King.

The powers of this world know kids are reachable, too. In the Muslim world, strong emphasis is placed on teaching the way of Islam to children before the age of five. We’ve heard stories of eight-year-old children so committed to their faith they were willing and ready to become suicide bombers.

Alternately, media and marketing gurus know that they need to capture the hearts of children early with brand names…then keep them for life. Kids are targeted around the world.

The harvest is ripe; children are ready for the gospel.

Kids are needy and poor: The UN estimates that nearly half of the world’s population of children live in poverty. With other risk factors added in, nearly 2/3 of our planet’s children love in “at risk” situations. Again, most of these children are unreached. Considering the work of Christ outlined in Isaiah 61, to “preach good news to the poor,” to “bind up the brokenhearted,” to “free the captive,” etc., we easily see that this entire passage could be a call to ministry to children. God’s heart is to rescue children, the most vulnerable group of people on our planet.

Kids are teachable: Unlike adults, kids have much less to “unlearn” when they come to Christ. They are eager to understand what it means to follow Jesus, and to obey. People who come to Christ as children are most likely to follow Jesus for a lifetime. Kids are ready and waiting.

In addition, kids are the key to transformation. When we pour the love of Christ into their lives, teaching them to follow Christ wholeheartedly, they will not only change personally, but they will impact their families, their communities, and their nations.

Kids are connected to families:
As children come to Christ, they often open doors for the gospel to be shared with their families. In Muslim areas, this opportunity must be handled with great prayer and respect. But kids often bring their entire families to Christ shortly after believing in him.

Kids have great potential – to reach more kids – and others! Children can also learn to share the gospel with their friends. Their friends are also reachable, teachable and connected to families. Kids can be part of reaching future generations for Christ if we get with the program. Kids have amazing potential to not only be tomorrow’s church, but the church of today.

Mission leaders are beginning to catch the vision. Dan Brewster of Compassion International and Patrick McDonald of VIVA Network in their booklet, Children—The Great Omission?, say, 'We believe that children and young people should be the single greatest priority for Christian work in the coming decade.' [Brewster and McDonald, Great Omission, 3.] [Pages 32-34]" Doug Nichols

Wool Socks

I woke up this morning and it feels a little cold in the house. When I say "a little" I actually mean it is maybe a degree or 2 colder than normal, but it is by no means actually cold. It is not nearly as cold in my house as it is outside, since the thermometer says "26".

I heard someone say the other day that because of an experience they had they are going to give wool socks to homeless people. That got me thinking.

I try to keep a couple of energy bar kinds of things in my truck all the time- sometimes I eat them and sometimes I give them to people standing on the corners with signs. You know those people. They are often the people I don't really want to look at directly. They are the people that we say, "They are probably not homeless at all, they're just too lazy to work". Maybe. Maybe there are those who will spend their money on booze, but maybe they are actually really needy.

Suggestion: do you have an extra coat that you don't wear often or ever? Do you have extra socks that are just making your drawer too hard to open? Do you have a third pair of gloves that you haven't worn since 2002? How about hats? You get the idea. What if in our vehicles we had a bag of those kinds of things that we could give to those who were standing on the corner? Is there a way we could do that and incorporate the Gospel?

Help me put feet to this. Give me some ideas of ways that each one of us can make a temporal and an eternal difference at the same time.

Is today your last?

Yesterday i had the opportunity to talk to someone about their eternal destiny. I would not even say that it was hard for me to get started and that has to be God working. I was just thinking about a couple of things they had said and the way they had been acting and decided this was the time to ask some questions.

I have no idea what will happen in their heart and that is not up to me- my only responsibility is to walk when God opens the door- and He graciously made that much easier than I thought it would be.

In the conversation I said "You have no guarantee that today was your last day here and if that is the case then what is tomorrow going to look like for you". While that question was pointed at the person I was talking to I have been thinking about that part for me in a slightly different way. If today is MY last day have I maximized all the opportunities that God has given me before I am done here?

I am so ready to be finished, but that doesn't mean that God is ready for me to be finished and He is the One Who brings these opportunities in our path and He expects us to take them and run with them. The person who is in our path today might not get another opportunity to hear the Gospel and we might not get another person to share with.

Maybe this thought is what the Psalmist was thinking when he said that we should "Number our days". If we knew that today was the last number would we share differently than we currently are sharing? That is a huge rebuke to me. God has given me the treasure to carry about in this "jar" and He has given me all that I need to share it with the people I should be sharing it with- now what is the hold up? Am I too busy living my life to talk to someone who God puts in my way?

May we be so excited about the treasure entrusted to us that we overflow with joy in wanting others to have that same treasure. They are looking for something to fill the hole in their heart and we have it- maybe right now is the time to share it.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Follow God

I just finished reading 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings and I am hit with the fact that most of the rulers of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord. I am not sure how many generations these 2 books cover but it is quite a few. God changed some hearts along the way and allowed a select few to do good in His sight, but so many were evil and God punished them for their evil and generally all the people with them.

What should we learn from this? Does God always bless the nation that walks after Him? Not always, but it does seem so a lot of the time. He lets us go for a little while and then He brings judgment.

Oh may we be the ones who are known for walking in His way so the people around us would be free to worship rightly. May we walk in such a way that our children want to follow after our godly example and stay next to the Truth. Oh that our children and children's children would have a generation of godly fathers to follow and then follow.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


"God loves to be depended on. So He gives imperfect, inadequate human beings impossible assignments." Crawford Lorrits.

Where are you?

Did all you bloggers give up? I look everyday to see what God is teaching and showing you and there are so few posts. Is blogging "old school" and I have missed the new thing? It does really encourage my heart to hear what you-especially 128 people- are learning. Don't let this busy time of year crowd out the reason for this season. Just trying to encourage your hearts a bit.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Trust in God Alone

Ps. 62:5 For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
6 He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
7 On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
8 Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us.

These winter months are often difficult in the stone business and I would guess that this year will be no different. As I try to plan for what might be ahead I am brought to the realization that I again have no idea of what will be coming. I am left with the simple truth that it all depends on God to bring us through.

I look at these verses and the words "Alone" and "All Times" jump out at me. I have no second option and there is never a time that I do not need to be trusting in Him. How can I go on if He is not leading? I have no strength except that He gives it. He holds me up and He covers me with His strong right hand. He promises to provide and He must be the One Who does provide or there will be no provision.

All I can do is pour out my heart to Him and wait for His answer, though that is very hard to do. I want to work and struggle to take care of "my part" and I am starting to realize more and more that I almost have no part in the success of any of the endeavors He allows me to be in.

Please pray with me that I would have courage to walk by faith and not by sight and that He would be delighted to show off His power in all that He is doing around me. He is my Only Hope, why would I look for help in another?

Busy Time of Year

December is almost here and 2009 will soon be over, but before 2010 arrives there are many things to do, friends to see and family to visit. This year is Garrett's last high school basketball season and there will be many concerts and parties to attend.

This time of year is always hectic and I am not saying that is necessarily bad, but there is a danger with having the "list" so full. I think the tendency is to make room for lots of other things at the expense of our time with the Lord. I know for me this has been easy to do in the past and I want to change that this year. Much like wasting Christmas break.

How do we make sure that we don't get our focus off of Christ and on to other things? I am no expert at this, but for me it seems that when I view my time with Him as the MOST important thing then it is easier to put other things aside rather than Him. If I view Him as the most necessary, the highest and best way to spend my time then all the other things can fall in after Him. I think it was Mueller or Moody who said when they knew they had a really busy day coming they would spend an extra hour in prayer that day.

There is just no greater treasure or joy that will come to us, then if we spend our time seeking to know His heart and communicating our heart to Him. Don't let "Vanity Fair" delude you into thinking that "it doesn't get any better than this", because in His presence there is FULLNESS of joy and in the end there is really no lasting joy in Vanity Fair.

Ps. 73:25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Live on unseen things.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Garden

Picture in your mind a garden plot that needs to be worked. Lots of weeds and grass, sticks that need to be pulled out, rocks that would be in the way of making nice rows. Under all this current mess is good soil- you have witnessed it first hand. Nice, dark, rich soil that will grow something beautiful and bountiful.

As you are pondering what might grow there someone walks up to you; someone you don't know. You give him the once over, looking up and down his strong frame. Nothing here too spectacular to report except his hands are weathered from lots of work. It looks like he knows his way around the garden seeing multiple patches on his knees and holes in the toes of his boots lead you to believe these are his favorite gardening clothes- if this indeed is the gardener.

You're small and frail compared to him and the garden spot you are imagining is quite far from where you are right now and so he asks you if you would like to ride in the wheelbarrow. As a kid, riding in the wheel barrow is a fun treat, until you get dumped over. That seems better than walking and you are interested to see what might be going in the garden- having no real intention of working hard enough to actually plant anything in that spot; there is too much work to do just to get in the vicinity of growing anything, but you will watch.

The wheel barrow is well worn and it has seen plenty of dirt and tools in its time. This is not a fancy model but it seems he is getting a lot done with it so in you hop, amongst all the gardening tools. The wheelbarrow is a bit crowded with all the rakes and hoes, shovel and picks, so you hang on to the side and enjoy the ride. It's a bit bumpy, but it is better to be bumping along and not walking than it is to be walking along and not bumping.

As you ride you are starting to imagine the produce that will come out of this dirt. Will there be lettuce, or tomatoes? Hopefully no broccoli or cauliflower. Beets would be good and some potatoes, green beans, snow peas. This is starting to get exciting. Who will have to be the weeder. You don't like weeding.

You finally roll up to the spot and you hop out. I wonder what he will do first. I wonder if he will ask you to help. You are kind of small and wimpy compared to him. Maybe He will just do it all and let you watch. All the tools are gone from the wheelbarrow and it is just you and he standing there. You look around and the other tools are actually working in the garden; they are actually living tools. The rake is Jenny, the shovel is Sam, the hoe is Jimmy, and wait, what kind of tool are you?

All these tools seemed little and wimpy in the wheelbarrow and now they are doing their tiny bit of work in the garden. As fast as each one is, it is going to be a long time before there is any produce, but they are getting a little work done. The gardener is giving strength to each one as they run out, he brings the water to make the soil softer, he keeps the sun behind the clouds so it is a little cooler, he is encouraging everyone and he is telling them exactly what to do next. All they seem to be doing is working on the tiny little space around them and not even looking at what others are doing. Will this really turn out right?

The time goes by so fast. You had forgotten to look at your watch, so you don't even know what time it was when you started working. This is hard work, but he is so kind to work for and he seems to know exactly what you need before you even have the need, that it doesn't even seem like real work. How can this be, you have been in the garden before and you know how hard it can be, but this time it is different.

You look around you and see that all the tools are at least as weak as you are; they don't seem to be experts at what they are doing; like you, they are certainly not the highest quality tools in the shed and yet this gardener is using each one and they are really making a difference.

At the end of the day the garden has been all plowed up, planted, weeded, watered, the sun has come and the plants have grown, the harvest is completed and you are looking at a feast prepared for you by the gardener, and what a feast it is. How did he get all this out of that one little garden spot using all those flimsy tools? You will probably never know the answer, but you loved being part of the process and the feast sure is amazing.

We are all tools for the Gardener to use. He has promised to give us strength, to provide for our needs, to sharpen us, to encourage us, and to keep using us until He is finished with us. If we are faithful to follow His instruction He will bring the increase. He also promised to allow us to partake in the feast. We can't boast of anything in this process except that He chose to use us.

May we be tools useful for the Master.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I just finished watching "Collision"- a video of a "debate" between Christopher Hitchens, an anti-theist author, and Douglas Wilson, a Christian pastor.

I came away with a couple of things, and I think you should watch it.

1. Pastor Wilson is a gift from God to The Church. "Copiousness" is a word he uses to describe himself. That is true, true. I am thankful that God gives different gifts to the Church and that I do not have to be as sharp as he is to be of service to The King.

2. Hitchens states along the way that the reason he is intrigued with Wilson, even listens to him, is that he really believes what he says and he even lives it out. We can have all the answers to every question and it is still the power of the Gospel that wins heart, not our great debate. It is us living/walking the Gospel much more than talking the Gospel that wins hearts.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all. God is SOO Good.

Thanks Be To Our Great God

Thanksgiving is a time when we get together and praise God for all He has done in our lives, though I am convicted of my lack of continual praise throughout the year.

Many Christians would start off with “Salvation” at the top of their list, and I have listed that in previous years but there has never been a time, in my own life, that this has been as true as it is right now. The idea that we are “Jars of Clay” is a good reminder that we are chosen to carry the message of the Gospel and that is our only contribution- carrying. Vessels made to carry the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ. That Christ has chosen me, dwells in me, strengthens me and intercedes for me is so amazing. I am not deserving of this grace and yet that is what I have been given.

When people list health as an item they are either flippant about it or they have probably been in a valley where health has been diminished. To think that our bodies go through all they do and we don’t end up in the hospital all the time is pretty amazing. I am thankful that germs are not visible. I am thankful for kids who have remained alive this entire year.

Family would be on my list and our family is much larger than those ending with the name Weinberg. Many of you have been through more with us than our bio families have. Many of you have been our encouragement and "exhorters" along the way. We have loved watching you grow in the Lord and it is fun to see Him work so visibly in your lives. We love the part you have played in our lives and in the lives of our kids and this is not just from the “old people” but also from the young.

Food, clothes and shelter have to be on this list. Though we often take these kinds of things for granted, our perspective has been seriously altered this year after returning from Ethiopia. Why was I born in America while my Christian brothers and sisters were born in Ethiopia? Why do we have more food than we ever need and they are struggling to get food for tomorrow morning?

Faith in trials, testing building perseverance, increased love for the lost, increased love for the saints, grace abounding to me a wicked sinner, forgiveness and removal of my sins, fruit in ministry, fruit in my own life and the lives of those around me, heaviness that is ok knowing that He knows what is best, justification, a measure of sanctification and the hope of glorification and my Savior making intercession for me at the right hand of the Father waiting for me in Heaven.

What is there that I need? Only salvation in Him.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Clay Pots

2 Cor. 4: 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;

SKH is going to teach through this passage this coming Sunday and I have been thinking about it these last couple of days. I believe that when Paul penned these words he would have been thinking about clay pots like these in this picture.

Jars of clay are just baked mud, and that is what we are. These pots were and are very common, breakable, cheap and not necessarily very nice to look at. As in the picture, they are used for every day things, in this case kitchen work, but they also could have been made in different sizes and used for things like bed pans.

It makes more sense to hear that we are but dust when you think about us being pots. A clay pot and our earthly body are very similar in that when buried both will soon turn back to the dust, or dirt, we once were.

We are these jars of clay. The treasure of the Gospel, something very precious, is stored inside of us; common, not so nice to look at, breakable jars of clay. Can the pot say to the potter "I don't like what you made me into"? Well, all we are is a vessel to be used to carry the light of the Gospel to the world. It seems like we should look something like these pots, but have light beaming out from us. If there are cracks in us there should be light flooding from each one of those cracks.

So, in the end, what difference does it make if we are persecute, afflicted, perplexed and crushed? If the Master has many pots that He can take off the shelf to replace us with, then should we just be happy to be used while He chooses to use us? Shouldn't we be excited that we are being used for something as useful as carrying the light of the Gospel?

Then what about the results? Where will the credit go if the Gospel actually bears fruit in the lives of those around us? Can we boast in our effectiveness in sharing the Gospel? How could we if we are but clay pots? That is what Paul is trying to say, "How can I boast in anything if I am just a normal, common, fragile pot that can be replaced at any minute?"

So as I walk today I must remember that I am only a vessel that God is choosing to use to carry the Gospel. I want to be a clean vessel so that as much light as possible can get out of me into the world. I must remember that I am chosen, but not because of anything that is of value in me, but that God chose to choose me because He is gracious.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Life changing words

"How do we have our faith increased? Only by thinking of all that Jesus is, and all He is for us: His life, His death, His work, He Himself revealed to us in the Word, to be the subject of our constant thoughts. Not striving to have faith, or to increase our faith, but a looking off to the Faithful One seems all we need.

Here I feel is the secret: not asking how I am to get sap out of the vine into myself, but remembering that Jesus is the Vine- the root, stem, branches, twigs, leaves, flowers, fruit, all indeed. Aye, far more than that. He is the soil and the sunshine, air and rain- more than we can ask, think, or desire. Let us not then want to get anything out of Him, but rejoice in being ourselves in Him-one with Him- and consequently, with all His fullness. Not seeking for faith to bring holiness, but rejoicing in the fact of perfect holiness in Christ, let us realize that- inseparably one with Him- this holiness is ours, and accepting the fact, find it so indeed." Hudson Taylor.

This, for Hudson Taylor, was a life changing realization and many who knew him previously said that from this time on he was a completely different man. Hard to imagine that he was as godly as he was up to this point and that his life really changed so much that others said this about him later.

May this be said of us as well.