Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Eyes to See

In John 9 there is an amazing story. Amazing for so many reasons.

Jesus gives sight to a man who was blind from birth. This has never been done before; ever.

The Jewish leaders couldn't decide if this was really the man who had been blind, even though he kept telling them that he had been born blind, but now he could see. Satan obviously has blinded their eyes. What a tragedy that they were so blinded by their own sin, that they could even admit that this man had been blind.

His parents were so afraid of being kicked out of the synagogue that they would not answer the leaders any more than, "yes he was blind, but we don't know how he sees". Why fear those who can only kick you out of the synagogue, when the One who can give sight to the blind and can kick you out of Heaven is right in front of you?

The blind man has to give his testimony repeatedly because of the stubbornness of the leaders. They keep asking him the same question and he keeps answering the same way. Finally he tells them that Jesus couldn't be a sinner, just because He gave him sight on the Sabbath, because God doesn't answer the prayers of sinners. He must be sent by God to do this kind of thing.

The leaders knew this was true, but were too busy trying to set Jesus up that they wouldn't admit it. When the blind man finally tells them that Jesus can't be a sinner, they are so mad they throw him out. But before they do they have to add, "You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?" These is like saying, "You're not the boss of me". So devilishly childish.

The leaders kick him out of the synagogue, but do you think he really cared? He woke up blind, just like he had every other day of his life, and now he could see the hypocrisy of the leaders. There is no way he would want to associate with them. He could clearly see their filth.

Jesus not only opened his physical eyes but also his spiritual eyes. What an amazing testament to the power of sin in lives who are searching for evil. But also what an amazing testament to the power of God in the lives of sinners.

It is only by God's grace that our spiritual eyes are open. we can't argue someone into His Kingdom, as there are many who are strongly opposed to the Gospel, but we can live it out and when they are interested in the change in us, then we need to share. The difference may not be as drastic as blind to sight, but it should be very noticeable.

Whatever - Wherever

"God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with him." Jim Elliot

If Jim Elliot were here today he would still say that this is true. For Jim Elliot, being martyred for the name of Christ was the highest calling; his life's greatest work.

We are not all called to be martyred for Christ, but we are called to be willing to give up our lives, if that is where God leads. Too often we think that this calling is for someone else. What if that calling is for your kids? You may be willing to give up your own life, but are you willing to give up your kid's lives in service to the Lord?

The greatest gift that God can give us is a heart that is sold out to Him
. He gives it; He sustains it; and He provides for it. It is only ours to give back.

As our 2 boys are in Europe these next 2 weeks, it is a little quiet around the house; visions of things to come very shortly. What higher calling can a father have than for The Father to have given his children hearts sold out for Him?

My desire for my kids would be that they would delight themselves in the Lord, follow His Word and leave the rest up to Him. Whatever and wherever that may be.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Rocks and Glass Houses

John 8:1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst 4 they said to him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?" 6 This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" 11 She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more."

Jesus has been teaching the people and the leaders have been wanting to kill Him for quite some time now. They really don't like anything He has to say, they don't like the fact that He claims to be God, and that much of the negative things He is saying is directed at them. This portion of Scripture is apparently not in the earlier manuscripts, but it is in mine. What a great story.

I don't know all the intricate details of this story. I have heard it said that the leaders were setting this woman up to be found committing adultery, it is interesting that they bring her to Jesus in the morning, and put her right in the middle of the leader's circle.

I guess I can see myself as a sinner capable of committing any number of sins against God and my fellow man. It is only by God's grace that He has saved me the pain of a moment like this.

Picture it though; she is really busted. Her life, as she knows it, is over. She has committed a sin against her husband and someone else, her family will be disgraced; her life is ruined and here she stands, in front of a bunch of men who want Jesus to give them the "go-ahead" to stone her. She has no excuses; she has no plea but guilty; she has nothing but "guilty as charged" written on her.

While standing in the midst of them, does she ever even look up? Would she dare look anyone in the eye? For a little bit of pleasure, maybe even set up by these evil men, she has wrecked her life. The leaders are probably talking about her, like she isn't even there; like she is a piece of meat they are trying to decide whether they should keep or throw out. How did she fall so low?

She is someone's little girl. She was probably someone's wife. Maybe a mother. Maybe just yesterday she was just thinking about committing this sin of adultery, but she knew better, but it just took that little it of enticing and now her life will never be the same.

This could not be more true; her life really would never be the same. She came face to face with the Savior and He forgave her. When she had no righteousness of her own to claim; no excuse; no reason; no nothing but guilt; and the Gracious Savior does not condemn her. When all others are pointing the finger at her and asking for her death, Jesus says, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more."

This had to have been the biggest emotional roller coaster of her life; from guilt ridden deserving death, to "go and sin no more" in just a few minutes. What grace!

This is each one of us to some degree or another. Our sin may not be the exact same, but it is still sin deserving death. If everyone would see our sin, they would be standing around saying the same thing the leaders did to her, but we conceal it pretty well outwardly. We know how far we have gone. Even though our hearts are deceitful, deep down we know. We know we have no excuse and we are dead wrong.

BUT GOD, is one of the richest conjunctions that could ever be, Romans 5:7-8, Eph. 2:1-5. We were guilty, helpless, hopeless sinners, condemned to die without a way out, BUT GOD, for whatever reason, chose to save some that we might be heirs of His righteousness. We had nothing to bring but guilt and need and He still chose to save us and say "Neither do I condemn you".

Oh the weight of sin this takes away. We are forgiven. Hallelujah, what a Savior. Was her life changed from here on out? How could it not have been? If we have been forgiven and freed from the guilt we once knew, should our lives be different as well? For sure.

What a kind, compassionate, gracious Savior we serve. Go and sin no more.

Hard Saying

John 6:60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, "This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?" 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, "Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe." (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father."

66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, "Do you want to go away as well?" 68 Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God." 70 Jesus answered them, "Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil." 71 He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the Twelve, was going to betray him.

Jesus had just been talking about how we need to eat His flesh and drink His blood and many were offended by this type of speaking. Of course they had not had their hears and eyes open to what He was actually saying. In the Jewish culture this would have been very hard to hear, sin blood was unclean and they would do almost anything to make sure they were clean.

But Jesus was, not so subtly, sending away those He was not drawing to Himself. It is only He who draws and it is only He who actually keeps those whom He draws. What a blessed assurance that it is all His work. When we have no strength to hang on, it doesn't really matter because He is the One hanging on to us in the first place. His grip will not fail.

It must have been really strange for the disciples to watch the exodus of the people who were following Him. It's easy to follow when everyone else is following and everything is going positively. Were they getting discouraged now? Jesus knows their hearts and so He asks them straight out, "Do you want to go away as well?" Is this so hard that you want to leave with everyone else?

Of course Peter is the first to answer and he gets it almost right. "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God." There is no place we can go once we have started to follow the Savior. Every other place we turn will lead to heartache and lost. He is our bread to eat and our very life. Once the light has been turned on in our hearts, we will not settle for fumbling around in the dark. Jesus gently reminds them that He is the One who has turned on the light, not them.

The Way of The Master is narrow and lined with so many pitfalls and rocks to fall on to, but once we are on this path, there in no room to turn around and it is singular in direction. He will not allow us to turn back. We are kept from harm by His hand and drawn by Him as we see more clearly what is waiting at the end of the path.

"Oh for that day when we'll sing with the angels!"

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Daddy, what should I do?

It is interesting to me that in John 5 Jesus talks so much about only doing the will of the Father.

If Jesus, who is God, can only do the will of the Father, and submits all of His own actions and words to the Father, how much more should we be subjecting our thoughts and actions to Him?

Just like Jesus fasting and praying for 40 days before His earthly ministry started, praying before being taken into custody or praying for the selection of His disciples, we, in our finite wisdom, need to be earnestly seeking the will of the Father in all that we do.

I often think that I have the Bible and I know what to do, so just go do it and God will take care of the rest. No need to "bother" God with these small things, but that is not Biblical thinking. God wants us to come to Him with everything, not just the "big" things. He loves to hear, "Daddy, should I ...?" It is no burden to Him and it shows our willing dependence on Him.

My flesh gets in the way, not so much from out right disobedience as much as maybe it is just easier to not ask. Seeking and waiting on the Lord takes time and patience is required, and I guess I am in too much of a hurry most of the time. In the end He can make up the time and He certainly can make the decision right one the first time, so it doesn't have to be redone.

Just some thoughts on a rainy Saturday afternoon.

Share your Testimony

John 4:39 Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, "He told me all that I ever did." 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, "It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world."

Never underestimate to powerful testimony of a changed life. This Samaritan woman's life was changed by one short conversation with the living, incarnate God and she was not going to stop talking about that change.

I hope that we hear our own testimony coming out of our mouths so frequently that we might think that we have to drum up a newer, fresher version. But if you are saved, your testimony is what God has called you to share with others. We know where we came from and what He has taken us out of. We need to share that with others.

Out of 5m words written by Augustine, his "Confessions" is the most remembered. Why is it that God wants to take the testimony of a transformed life and use it for His glory? No one but God can bring about a change like this. No one but God can take someone who is dead and bring them to life. No one but God can change a heart from lusting after the world and all it has to offer and make it a "Kingdom Seeker".

The crowd of Samaritans came because of this lady's testimony about Jesus, but then Jesus made it personal for them, as He shared with each one of them about Himself. Jesus is a personal God, doing personal work in the hearts of the lost. GO! Share your personal testimony and pray that God will use the change He has made in your life to plant, water or harvest.

You don't have to be a Bible professor, or seminary grad to share what God has done in your life, in fact it is probably better that most of us are not. Think about all the different people you meet everyday, that your pastor doesn't even know. Share what God is doing in your life at this very moment. People are hurting. They need the Great Physician.

Fasting for the Lost

John 4:31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, "Rabbi, eat." 32 But he said to them, "I have food to eat that you do not know about." 33 So the disciples said to one another, "Has anyone brought him something to eat?" 34 Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. 35 Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, then comes the harvest'? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. 36 Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, 'One sows and another reaps.' 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor."

Jesus is teaching us, indirectly, that we should fast. What was this food "that you don't know about"? How could Jesus go about His life on earth and often times not eat? His body must have been scarred with the results of many fasts. But Jesus knew the importance of His ministry here and He was not going to let food distract Him from the harvest.

I am often so preoccupied with the "Martha" things of this life that I miss out on what God has called me to do. The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. There are people around us dieing everyday who, though they live in America, have never heard the Gospel presented correctly. They might have seen some preacher on TV, or someone they knows goes to church once a month said something to them once in passing, but Jesus is calling us to do the will of the Father and fasting for the lost is a good reminder of what is truly important.

Jesus also knew how to feast, but the time was not right for feasting this day. The feast will come soon enough, and the final feast will be worth the wait.

Naturally, we/I don't have a heart for the lost, but as we pray for God to give us that kind of heart, He loves to answer those kinds of prayers.

God change my heart for the lost. Give me a desire to see the lost brought to You. On my own, I want the sanctuary of my comfortable life, but I need to be about my Father's business. Give me a burden for those who don't know You, give me opportunities to share You with them and then give me the boldness to share. You can do this in me.

Could This Be The Christ?

John 4:29 "Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?"

What a great line in such a great story. Men weren't supposed to be talking with women, except to order them around. This is the personal Savior speaking to a woman who has had a very rough life. She has had 5 husbands and the man she is living with currently is not her husband. She is basically a legal prostitute and a slave. BUT, the King if ALL kings is at the well that she "happens" to come to, and He tells her the entire story of her life in about 2 sentences.

A few things hit me in this story.

Jesus doesn't care about the traditions and perceptions of the people of the day; He needs to talk to this woman; really she needs for Him to talk to her. Jesus knew what His work was on earth.

Jesus is God and He knows every details about every person in the universe. I have a hard time just figuring out what I should be doing and how it will effect the people around me. He knows His children.

Jesus not only knows about every detail, but He cares for His children. Jesus could have walked right by and not talked to this woman, and everyone would have thought it perfectly normal. But Jesus saw her need and sorrow and chose to go out of His way to show His omniscience to her. He cares for His children.

When Jesus walks into your life and chooses to draw you to Himself, there is no resisting. When we see where we have come from, where we are, and where we are going without Him and He then chooses to give us a glimpse of all that we could have, life should never be the same after that. He draws His children.

Is God giving you a little glimpse into what you have right now, futile as it may be? Is He showing you what you might have if you chose to follow Him? Are you going to let go of what you currently have and follow Him? There may be consequences remaining from the life you have lived previously, like this woman, but today is a new day to follow after the one "Who told me everything I ever did". This IS The Christ.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Belief + Obedience = Life

John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

Even the demons believe that Jesus is God, but the implication here is that true belief requires obedience. We may believe and not obey, but this leads to the wrath of God on us.

This is a great verse to go to when someone says they are a Christian but they never go to church, never read the Bible, never pray and act just like the world. There is no obedience to point to, so where is the proof of life?

In love, we must be bold to call this to the attention of those we love who are not walking in obedience. This may quite possibly be the hardest, most loving conversation you can have with them, but how will they hear without a "preacher"? Inspect the fruit and then ask the question; "You say you're a Christian but it doesn't seem like you obey God's Word. I love you and don't want you to have God's wrath on you. Are you really a Christian"?

Lord give us opportunities and then give us the boldness to take the opportunities you give. We are weak and we often don't want to stir up conflict, but this is a conflict that we need to be willing to engage in, with Your help. May we love others enough to ask hard questions. Give us fruit in our asking that we might be encouraged to ask more, but not so much that we become proud. Thank you for allowing us to see our sin and turn toward You. May we want others to have the same joy as we have in You.

Friends of the Bridegroom

John 3:25 Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification. 26 And they came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him." 27 John answered, "A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, 'I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.' 29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease."

In verse 27 John states God's providence in all our lives; "A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven". We need to meditate on that truth and really be thankful for all that God has given us, including the "bad" things. I put bad in quotes, because if God works everything for our good, then is there really anything that is bad? If you lose a child, a spouse, a job, or a business, is this really bad, or just another opportunity for God to show His amazing care in our lives? Not easy in the moment, but God knows and cares.

I like that John gives reference to being a friend of the bride groom. What a great title. We are part of the Bride, but we could also be a friend of the Bridegroom. The friends of the Bridegroom are just excited at His presence and to hear His voice. John's joy was now complete because Jesus, whom he had waited to see and heralded His coming, was now here and John was thrilled. Am I that excited that the Messiah has come? Am I excited just to hear the "voice", in His Word?

John was the greatest man born of a woman and yet he says of Jesus, "He must increase but I must decrease". John was able to see Christ for all that He truly is, which allowed him to see his utter lack and total dependence on Him. Faced with this fact there was only one thing for him to say. This is much like those in the OT who came into the presence of God; their only response was to fall flat on their faces and cry out for mercy.

Our total lack of everything must make us see that everything we have comes from God and we are totally dependent on Him for everything. This should make us fall to our faces in praise for all the He has given us and want to lift His name higher and have our name put back to the back of the shelf, because He gives us everything. How can we boast?

We are the honored guests at the wedding. We are friends of the Bridegroom, who has paid for the entire feast, calls us to be with Him and lavishes good gifts on us all. We should be excited about the One we are rejoicing with and want to tell others of His greatness.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Are You Looking?

In John 1:35-51, Jesus is calling His disciples to follow Him. What excitement must have been going through their own hearts and also the hearts of their families.

I did notice that much of the disciples' excitement was because "they had found Him". If they weren't looking they would not have found Him, at least they would not have known what they had found. These men had been waiting for this day their entire lives. Their father's family and his father and his father and all been waiting for this day.

Are we looking for the second coming of Christ like these people were looking for the first? We know so much more than they did and it seems that we are comfortable with this world and maybe don't want to leave right away. Is there something that you really want to do before Christ comes back? Or, can you say that you would love for Him to return RIGHT NOW?

We must be waiting with great anticipation and excitement for His return. This will be the best day believers will ever have here on earth and the worst day the non believers will ever have.

Is your heart fixed on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father? Can you just see Him there, in all His glory, waiting to come back in triumph to take His Bride back? Can you picture the splendor this will be? Or, are you too focused on doing something "important" here first. Do you want Heaven, but not right now?

How about your family and friends? Are they ready to see the Warrior King riding on His white horse, sword raised high, ready to slay the world and rescue His Bride? Are they so enamored with the world that they are not interested in the things of God? We are called to be salt and light and to make disciples. How's that going for you? Would your approach be different today if you knew that Jesus was coming back this afternoon?

Oh Lord, we want You to return and take us back to Your Heaven. We want to be free from all this world of entanglements and distractions and sit at Your throne to worship You for all of eternity. We long to be in Your courts, walk on Your beautiful streets, sing with perfect voice, worship with pure hearts and learn to love You more each day. You are our Hero, please come back and pull us out of this world and take us Home to be with You. May we be waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, with the greatest of expectations.

Stay Hot in a Cold World

Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" 38 And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself." 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, "Save yourselves from this crooked generation." 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Last night in small group the question came up "How do we keep the spiritual intensity long after the snow retreat is over?" For those who didn't go, "How can we stay hot, in a cold, crooked world"?

We talked about a couple of different things; one is the passage here, and the other is an illustration of the coals, or embers, in a fire. The fire can have many pieces of log in it that are red hot but as soon as you take them away from the fire and put them off to the side they begin to turn black. When returned to the fire they immediately go back to being red hot. We need fellowship and accountability.

In this passage it is interesting to me that right after Peter finishes his sermon, they ask "What shall we do?" Peter's answer is short and to the point, "Repent and be baptized". Obviously, for us to be spiritually hot we have to first repent and be saved.

It doesn't seem that their situation was too much different than ours here on earth right now. We certainly live in a "crooked generation". They had struggles with sin, schedules to keep, jobs to do, all like we have now. But what they did that we don't do nearly as much today is that they spent lots of time together talking about spiritual things; like we do at the S/R. It seems that God was blessing them in an amazing way and "all" they did was devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and ate and prayed together.

This is not rocket science, and for God to use something so simple as being in His Word and fellowship together to build His Church exponentially is testament that God uses the "foolish things of the world to shame the wise" 1 Cor. 1:26-30. I think we often want to make this much more difficult than it is. Almost like we want to be like the Pharisees, trying to do all these things, but Jesus says in Luke 11:28 "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!" Jesus is saying, "Stay in the Word and obey it and you will be blessed". No more things to add, no more hoops to jump through. Get Your food from the Word and God will bless you for it.

Lord, let us love the assembling of Your people. Let us love to listen and read Your Word. May You change our hearts and grow our faith because of the time we spend in Your Word. Keep us hot for the things of Your Kingdom. Give us the desire to seek first Your Kingdom and then may we rest in knowing that You will take care of the rest. God, give us a revival of our hearts and in Your Church. Bind our wondering hearts to You. You have to do this work in us. Please work in the hearts of Your people and give us a heart for the lost.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Common Dislikes join Forces

Have you ever seen 2 people who didn't like each other at all be joined together, at least temporarily, by something or someone they liked even less? The commonality in their dislike causes them to join forces.

Luke 23:12 And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.

You probably know this story, but if not you can go back and read it. The state of the hearts of these 2 men is revealed right in front of their Creator. They didn't like each other at all up until the day Jesus came into their lives, but now they join together. What an evil pair this had to have been.

Were it not for grace I would be banding together with someone like Herod or Pilate in opposition to the cross and Christ. It is only Jesus' work in my life that has given me a love for Him and His Word. Why God would save me and not another I have no idea, but I'm glad He did.

Oh that some who are fighting against the cause of Christ, in their deadness to the things of Christ, would come to know Him and the power of His suffering and turn to Him in true joy. When we get to see this "turning" happen in ourselves and in the lives of others, it is such a encouragement to watch the metamorphosis; the change from the inside out.

Lord thanks you for the work You have done in us and please continue to complete us until You take us home. You have promised that You would not stop working, and we are dependent on all of Your promises. Do this work in others as well. May they see their sin and turn from it. Make us bold to proclaim the Good News You have given to us.

Happy are they who Mourn

Matt. 5:4 "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

When you read something like this it might seem like a contradiction at first, but since Jesus said it, it is no contradiction.

How can we be happy and mourn? What does mourning have to do with happiness?

As I said before, the Beatitudes are connected to each other and it is not hard to see this connection to the first, "Blessed are the poor in spirit". When we see ourselves for what we truly are, spiritual beggars having nothing, it is then that we can begin to mourn over our sin.

Without salvation we can have no true joy, and without conviction of sin, there is no repentance, and without repentance there is no salvation. So, after conviction and repentance comes salvation and then comes joy. One of the main problems with the church today is the lack of focus on sin. No one wants to hear the bad news, but if we don't hear the bad news, the good news is of little importance, because "we are fine".

Our chief example to follow is always Christ and as far as I can tell there is no place recorded in the Bible of Him laughing. He wept, John 11:35, He mourns and weeps over Jerusalem, Luke 19:41, He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, Is. 53:3 and apparently He looked much older than He was, John 8:57. It is not popular today to be sorrowing, or mourning. We are often told to be joyful or happy all the time, but it seems that Jesus' example is very different than the way we are expected to be today.

"To 'mourn' is something that follows of necessity from being 'poor in spirit'. It is quite inevitable. As I confront God and His holiness, and contemplate the life that I am meant to live, I see myself, my utter helplessness and hopelessness. I discover my quality of spirit and that makes me mourn". L-J. This is where Paul was coming from in Romans 7. He saw his sin, and the hold it had on him, and this made him mourn.

We not only should be mourning over our own sin, but as Jesus already has shown us, He mourned over the sin of the people of Jerusalem. When we see the lifestyle of sin in others that is keeping them away from salvation and true joy, this should cause us to grieve for them.

The Bible is full of admonitions for us to be sober, vigilant, and temperate. There, again, is a noticeable lack of telling us to be laughing. In fact Jesus says, "Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh later." Luke 6, the parallel passage to this one.

"Great sorrow leads to great joy and without sorrow there in no true joy." L.J. Much like there is no need for grace without sin, and God's glory is shown by His graciousness in dealing with our sin, which should bring us joy and Him praise. The same is true of our mourning over sin. When we see our sin and repent from it, we are then forgiven and the joy that comes from forgiveness is true joy.

So what does this man look like? "He is sorrowful but not morose. He is serious, but not solemn. He is grave, but never cold. There is with his gravity a warmth and attraction." "A true Christian is never a man who has to put on an appearance of seriousness or joviality. No, No; he is a man who looks at life seriously; he contemplates it spiritually, and he sees in it sin and its effects. He is a serious, sober-minded man. His outlook is always serious, but because of those views which he has, and his understanding of truth, he also has a 'joy unspeakable, full of glory'". L-J.

"The joy of the Christian is a holy joy, the happiness of the Christian is a serious happiness". L-J.

When we see our sin for what it is and we confess and repent, we have joy like David was looking forward to in Ps. 51. "make me to know joy and gladness, that the bones which have been broken may rejoice". "Brokenness and mourning" go together before joy comes.

Some struggle with the mourning part, some struggle with the joy part. This is our fallenness and we need God to give us a balance of mourning over our sin and joyful restoration.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Peter's Worst Night

Luke 22:54 Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance. 55 And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. 56 Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, "This man also was with him." 57 But he denied it, saying, "Woman, I do not know him." 58 And a little later someone else saw him and said, "You also are one of them." But Peter said, "Man, I am not." 59 And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, "Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean." 60 But Peter said, "Man, I do not know what you are talking about." And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, "Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times." 62 And he went out and wept bitterly.

It is only by God's grace that any come to Him, and they only come because of the strength of His calling. But we must remember that it is also only by His grace that we remain with Him as well.

I often think that I would do this or that, but I have no strength of my own. The disciples missed the opportunity to pray for strength, as Jesus had told them to do, but they didn't have any idea what was right around the corner for them, or Jesus. Their sleepy flesh got the best of them and for Peter this had to be one of the most miserable memories of his life. I can't imagine the sorrow he must have felt as his was speaking his last denial.

What an amazing testament to the grace and long suffering of our Savior when He used Peter in such a pivotal way to help build His Church. May we always remember our utter dependency on Christ for our salvation and our sanctification. Lord keep us in Your will.

Rich Young Ruler

Luke 18:18 And a ruler asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 19 And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.'" 21 And he said, "All these I have kept from my youth." 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." 23 But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.

The Church today "sells" a Gospel that is easy to believe. It is difficult to back the up with Scripture since Jesus right here gives this rich young man a hurdle he doesn't want to jump over.

If Jesus were trying to call every single person to Himself, for sure He could do it. But that is not His aim. He knows the hearts of man and this young man is no exception. Jesus cuts right to the chase when He asks him to leave everything.

The pride of life, knowing that you have "all you need" and you have made it this far, so why should you not be able to make it to the end, increasing all the while, is what damns so many to Hell.

Earthly wealth is not something to trifle with. We are to be profitable in our endeavors, but not for the sake of our souls. We are to try to make as much money as is reasonable for what we do, but it is what we do with that money that is most important.

If we are trying to make loads of money to stack our own portfolios, take lavish trips, provide for ourselves way beyond what we need, then this is the wrong direction. I am convicted about how much I have. God has given us so much more than we need, and I need to be a better steward of what He brings.

Jesus is telling this young man, to be generous and give it all away, I think because Jesus knew He wouldn't do it. This is a heart and motive check. God won't necessarily ask us all to give everything away, unless He knows we are not willing. I believe this is a Lordship issue. Who's money is it anyway?

When the young man "Went away very sad", he had no idea how sad he would really be. Money is such a "distracter". Money can pollute our souls so quickly. It is not the money that is evil, but the love and desire to have more and more.

J. Piper said something interesting, and I paraphrase; After having food and clothing provided for us, having more money and more things does NOT add to our happiness, but it almost always makes us less happy. As one having more money than I have needed, which I think that most Americans would have to say they have more than they need, I think this is true. Some of the very happiest times in my life has been when we have had the least amount of money, but had food and clothing.

There has never been a more joy filled person on earth than when God came to live with us in human form. Jesus didn't have a home or a bed, He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, but He also could see the joy that was set before Him and so He could be joyful, even in His sufferings, because He knew what we to come.

Is my life marked by delayed gratification? What if for the balance of my life I am not to have any possessions? Would I be alright with that? See the next post for what our answer should be.

Delayed Gratification.

Luke 18:24 Jesus, seeing that the rich young ruler had become sad, said, "How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! 25 For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God." 26 Those who heard it said, "Then who can be saved?" 27 But he said, "What is impossible with men is possible with God." 28 And Peter said, "See, we have left our homes and followed you." 29 And he said to them, "Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30 who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life."

Jesus has just told this young man that he needs to be willing, and in his case actually do it, to leave all his possessions to follow Him. The young man went away sad because he had many possessions. So this first part of the narrative is about the rich having a very hard time entering the Kingdom of Heaven, because they are so dependent on their wealth and not God that they lose sight of what is really important.

The disciples are confused. Wealth in those days signified that someone was very blessed, but if it was difficult for the rich to get into Heaven, who could get it? Jesus' answer is that with God all things are possible. Hallelujah that with God all things are possible.

Peter then gives his take on the situation. They had truly left all to follow Christ. Obviously there are not many who would have done the same things, as many in those days did not truly follow Him, but the disciples did. Today the ration is probably the same, as the gate is wide that leads to destruction.

But what about Jesus' comment back to Peter concerning leaving everything. J. Piper gives some insight into what Jesus is really telling Peter. Paraphrased again; Is it really a great sacrifice to leave what you can't keep and what you don't own in the first place to gain what you can't buy even if you have all the money in the world? It is no sacrifice to gain a 100 times what you lose in this life for all of eternity. Peter was thinking about the lose, and Jesus could see what Peter would actually gain, because He had already seen what was waiting for Peter in Heaven.

We must not have our vision clouded with the things of this life, especially money, in order that we can clearly see what is in Heaven waiting for us and the end of this breath of a life.

Lord, may I/we see You as our Treasure and not be distracted by the world's goods. May we be most in love with the Giver rather than the gifts, for there is where the true joy comes from. Make our hearts to follow after You and Your Word, not things in this life. May we be profitable in our work, so that we might advance Your Kingdom with what You provide in abundance. Give us a heart for Your Work and may we use our life platform as the starting point for Your Work. Give us a heart for the lost and make us bold to tell of Your great Gift.

Prayer Requests

I told you I would give you these, so here you go and thank you so much for your faithful prayers on our behalf.

Thanks be to God for providing an almost entirely full month of installs in March. Work for the crews is great.

We have some open spots the first part of April that we need to fill. Days without 2 installs never come back on the calendar, so we lose the opportunity to do the. Pray for ready clients.

Pray that God would have people to be excited about our inventory, as this is a big expense for us, and we need to sell ours before we go looking for material else where. God can do this.

Health and safety for our staff. Granite is very heavy and we like our people healthy.

Wisdom for pricing each project. Wisdom for making business decisions. Wisdom to know the right thing to do in each circumstance.

Our aim is to first please God and let Him take care of the rest, but we also must be working hard and smart to honor Him in all that we would do. Pray that we would.

Thanks again. It is working. He is providing.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Are you Asking?

As I am reading through the Gospels I have noticed something significant. There are many people that cried out to Jesus.

In Luke 18 alone there is the "persistent widow", the "tax collector" and the blind beggar. In the chapters previous there are 10 lepers, more blind people and so many others.

What I have noticed is that Jesus doesn't turn away any who are truly calling out to Him in need. Jesus wants to change their lives. He wants us to be new creatures.

Can you imagine the newness of life in a story like this; I was born in Jerusalem blind from birth. I am the oldest son in my family, but I can't see to do any work. I will get no inheritance because I am thought of as less than a person. I can only be guided to the gate everyday that is closest to where I sleep and beg for change from those who pass by.

One day, this man-Jesus-is coming toward my gate. I have heard people talking about him. I wonder who He really is. I wonder if He can do the things that people are saying He can. Should I ask Him to make me see? What do I have to lose by trying to get Him to come over to me? Maybe He will only walk by this gate one time, I can't miss Him. I need to yell as loud as I can to make sure He comes over to me. It doesn't matter if people think I'm crazy. He might be able to heal me and that's a chance I am willing to take.

All the yelling pays off. Jesus walks right up to me. I can't see what He looks like, but the crowd is pushing in around me, so He must be close. He asks me, "what do you want me to do for you?" Dare I ask? For sure I am going to ask. "I have been blind from birth and I want to see". I hope He is who they say He is. BANG, I see Him. I see the crowd. I see everything. For the first time I can see. Really, all I had to do was ask and He did this for me? He must be God. From today forward life is new.

Isn't this what Jesus wants from each one of us? Doesn't He just want us to see our own inability and complete need of Him and then ask for Him to change us? Jesus is in the business of changing lives. He is all about making lives new, but He wants to be asked. He wants us to be the "persistent beggar" who will not let Him go by.

All we have is need and He has everything we need to make us complete in Him. What are you lacking? Ask.

Hear and Obey

Luke 11:28 But Jesus said, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!"

Jesus is responding to a woman who said to Him that Mary was a blessed person because she was His mother and this is His answer to her comment.

First off, this should stop all "Mary-worship". This makes it hard for the Catholic church to canonize anyone. Obviously Jesus said this in this exact way for a reason, and this helps our case against these kinds of practices. But it is much more than that.

This is really the Gospel in short form, or a very short way to see if we are true followers of Christ. Do you want to know if you're a Christian? Here is your test.

Jesus 1st states that a Christian is one who hears the Word of God. There are many ways to hear the Word, especially today, but we need to put ourselves in a place to hear it. That could be in a church setting, small group, mp3, radio and there are plenty more. Are you getting fed the Word. Is this the food that you can't do without, even more than physical food? Would you skip a meal to hear God's Word proclaimed?

But Jesus doesn't stop there. He says that we need to hear the Word and keep it. James says the same thing in chapter 1:22 "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves". The Word of God is powerful and is able to change hearts, but we first need to hear it, then we need to see what we need to change because of that hearing and then we need to do it.

If we leave out hearing we will not know what it is that we are supposed to do. If we hear only, without doing, it is of no spiritual good to us, and just makes us more accountable to God.

This is not one of the Beatitudes, but Jesus does tell us that we will be blessed, or happy, if we hear the Word and then do it. Certainly this is not rocket science, but we have a fight on our hands when we desire to put off the old man and follow Christ.

Father, may You make us people that desire and love to hear Your Word. May it be our food, our honey, our purest form of nutrition, the water from Your fountain that we can't get enough of. Give us the desire to "Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price". We are not inclined to do this in and of ourselves. We want to follow other loves and to drink from broken cisterns that are dry, but You can give us a desire that is hot for all that You are. Please give us that desire.

And then make us to want to follow all that You have commanded. Don't let us fall to following lesser loves. Give us a vision of how sweet it is to follow You every minute of everyday. Make us to see You, in all Your glory, so there is nothing that can distract us from following hard after You, because we have seen how amazing You are. You can change our hearts from stone to flesh and You can change our loves from earthly pleasures to the treasure of You. Please do this great work in us. Finish what You have started in us, and start the work in those we are praying for.

Give us a renewed passion for You and change the world because of what You are doing in the lives of Your people. This is too great a task for us to do, but this is a small thing for You to do through us. Take our weaknesses and use them for Your honor and Your glory. Shut the mouths of wicked men as they watch You work in the lives of Your people and have no answer for how You have worked so mightily through such weak vessels. Let there be no answer to give except "God has done this". Glorify Your great name. Make Your name to be famed through out all the earth. Nothing is to hard for You.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Fear Not Little Flock

Luke 12:32 "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

What a gentle Shepherd is our God. I was reading along and hit this verse and I just had to stop. Jesus had just been talking about worrying and storing up treasures on earth and He turns around and encourages them with, "Don't fear" to add to the "Don't worry".

Jesus is talking to His sheep, the disciples, and what an encouragement this must have been. For Jesus, the Son of God, to say, "Fear not, little flock" is such a kind way for The Great Shepherd and The Lamb of Calvary to address His followers.

Even in this short verse He directs the glory, of giving, to the Father. He could have said, "It is My pleasure to give you the Kingdom", but instead He differs to the Father.

What a day it will be when we arrive in the verdant pastures of Heaven and rest forever under His eternal care, with no more sin and striving after wind, just glorious worship of the King of Kings. I vote for today:)

Blessed are the Poor in Spirit

Matt. 5:3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Much of what I will say here are from thoughts I am gleaning from "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, here on referred to as "L-J". I have paraphrased and condensed it down, but I hope you will get the idea.

The first of the Beatitudes is "poor in spirit". It seems there are many different ideas about what being "poor in spirit" means. Some of those ideas are things like, actually being in poverty, a monastic life style, nervous or lacking self confidence.

It is interesting that Jesus starts with this one. Jesus doesn't say anything without having said it perfectly, which means He had in mind an order even to these character traits. "There is no one in The Kingdom of Heaven who is NOT 'poor in spirit'. We must first empty ourselves of all that we are before we can be filled with all of the other beatitudes and this is the 'emptying point'". L-J.

The Gospel, The Good News, always has 2 sides; a pulling down before a raising up, conviction and conversion, repentance before true joy and condemnation before sweet fellowship.

If you look at the people in the Bible whom God chose to lead His people, these definitions don't work. David was a man after God's own heart and he certainly wasn't in poverty, nervous or lacking self confidence. Peter and Paul didn't lack confidence and it doesn't seem they were nervous about anything previous to seeing Christ. So what does Jesus mean by "poor in spirit"?

Jesus doesn't tell us that the rich man is farther from Heaven than the poor man, with regard to earthly possessions. Because we in America have much more than much of the rest of the world does not mean the rest of the world is closer to Heaven. Earthly possessions just have a way of distracting us from what is truly important, so we must be more careful when we have them. Poverty doesn't guarantee spirituality. I have seen many people absolutely destitute in India, who are not closer to Heaven.

Being "poor in spirit" is more about how we see ourselves, and our attitude toward ourselves, then it is about our financial status.

L-J says, "you will never find a greater antithesis to the worldly spirit and outlook than that which you find in this verse. This is not only NOT admired by the world, but despised by it". The world doesn't look to its leaders to have this character trait. The world is looking for self confident, ego centric, even cocky people to lead. This is quite the opposite. 

As an aside, I think this is why Tim Tebow is finding it hard to be loved by the media because he is not boastful and proud. (My opinion).

Saul was probably that person before he met Christ on the road to Damascus, but as soon as he saw himself up against all that Christ is, he saw how low he truly was. The world was looking to follow a guy like Saul, but Christ turned him into Paul, with just one look into who He is.
L-J says,"If anyone feels anything in the presence of God save utter poverty of spirit, it ultimately means that they never faced Him. That is the meaning of this Beatitude".
Is. 57:15 For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
"I dwell in the high and holy place,
and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
and to revive the heart of the contrite.

Jesus is always our best example of what each Beatitude will look like. Jesus, being God, left all the pleasures of Heaven, He became poor, for us. He is every bit as much God as God the Father, but while He was in human form He subjected His will to everything the Father wanted. He repeatedly said that even His Words didn't come from Him, but from His Father. All the times He was praying we are able to see His reliance on the Father and not His own strength. If Jesus needed to rely on the Father, then we certainly do as well. We need to see our lack and His abundance.

There is no way for us to truly look at who God is without seeing our absolute need of all that He is and all that we are not. When we compare who we are to all that God is, we are forced to fall on our faces and beg for Him to work in our lives and change us. Until that happens, we can not be "poor in spirit", we will still be full of ourselves and there will be no room for the balance of the Beatitudes in our lives.

Father, work in me and work in Your Church that we all might be emptied of ourselves and all that we think we are and filled with the knowledge of who You truly are. Without Your working in our lives we will continue to be looking at ourselves and not toward you. Make us like Your Son, wholly reliant on You. We are reliant on You, but let us see it. Give us the desire to lose ourselves in You and to be submissive to Your Word.

There is no repentance that You have not given, no faith that You do not impart, no love for others that You do not bestow, no forgiveness of others that You have not first given. All that I have and all that I am and will be are only because of Your gracious gifts to me. Let me love You more each day as I see Your working in my life and as I measure my life up against who You are.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Beatitudes Pt.1

Matt. 5:2 And He, Jesus, opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

5 "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

6 "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

7 "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

8 "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

9 "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

10 "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 "Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

I am starting to do a study and read a few books on the Sermon on Mount. I think this is a good place to start, as if this is Jesus' first recorded sermon I think it bares listening to.

I have often thought about each of the Beatitudes as things I need to work on. Maybe I have some of this characteristic in my life, but not the other. This is NOT Jesus' point at all. I believe it is like the fruit of the Spirit. It is not a bunch a fruit all in a cluster, but it is all one fruit. The Beatitudes are the same. Each one leads to the other, we are to have them all present in our lives, all at the same time, we can't have them all without having each one present and there is no way that we can have even one of them, without the work of the Holy Spirit producing them in our lives.

If we claim to be Christians this should be evident in our lives, everyday, just like the Fruit of the Spirit. How can one be poor in spirit, without being meek? How can one hunger and thirst for righteousness, without first being pure in heart, but how can your be pure in heart without hungering for righteousness? I hope you get the picture.

So as I go along in my study I will keep posting, so you can glean some truth along the way as well.

The bottom line is that we all need to examine ourselves to make sure all these characteristics are in us.

Weak Faith? Read This.

Last night we went to Portland for dinner. It is not our normal Friday night deal to drive 3 hours one way for diner, but this was a special night. We went to celebrate my parent's 50th wedding anniversary, coupled with my dad's 75th BD.

Three of my 4 sisters were there, the baby sister lives in Virginia, so that's a little harder, and most of the grand kids were there, with spouses , if they have one.

We got there a little late as the driving was pretty slow, because of all the traffic and rain. Teresa and I sat next to mom and dad, as there wasn't really room for 2 anyplace else. My mom is really a kick and dad and I are more similar in personality.

My oldest sister stopped by at the table to ask how it was going at Priceless Granite; she was just checking to see if God was answering her prayers. Immediately my mom said, "You don't need to ask, we have been praying and God has been working". My sister then told me a story about when she had gone to my mom and told her that she really needed her to pray for their families financial situation.

Exhibit A. They own a self loader, which is a log truck with a loader attached to it. The logging industry has been in a mess for a long time, but that is what they do and God provides. So my sister told my mom that the winter had been really bad, they hadn't been able to get many loads out, the truck had been parked for months, taxes were due, truck payments and the list was getting longer by the day.

Mom is sort of a "Cut to the Chase" type of person. She said, "How much would you need to have God provide for you over and abundantly what you could ask or think?" My sister replied, $50k by tomorrow". Ok that's a big number. My mom said she would pray, and pray she did. By the end of the day, my sister had sold the property she had been wanting to sell, and she had $50k. Mom was not surprised in the least.

Exhibit B. Same sister, same Mom. This week my brother-in-law put in an application at the mill, so he would not have to depend on the truck so much, and would be able to get benefits. 70 people applied, mom prayed, and you'll never believe who got the job. Mom said, "Well of course he got the job, God hears our prayers".

Today would have been the day of the week I would have been sitting on the plane, the family was going to the church to work, and Grant would have his event. Tomorrow is the actual calendar day. God has changed our lives dramatically in this last year, but probably mostly mine. Even though Grant has all the medical treatments, I think God has beat me the most, as I certainly needed it the most.

Joy in trials is a difficult thing to have all the time. It seems when I see what God is doing it makes it easier to have joy, because I see Him working on my faith. It is not as difficult to endure when you see the result of your endurance down the road. But we don't always get to see that, if fact most of the time we don't get to see the result until well after the trial.

What I don't want to happen to me is to waste, and forget, all this work God is doing in my life. I never want to go back to the way it was before. I want to be Moses, leaving Pharaoh's house. This is a hard place to be, because we get accustomed to things as they are, but God uses people that are willing to joyful leave what they have grown comfortable with and step out. I don't know if I am ready just yet, but God still has the hammer in His hand and I can't wait to see what He does with it.

Pray for our family today. Teresa and the kids are going to the church to weed and clean the gym. I am going to work, as I have some clients coming to the shop.

I want to start giving more specific prayer requests, so those of you who are praying will know what we need.

1.We have quite a few jobs on the board waiting to go in, we need them to be ready and scheduled for the first 2 weeks of April. We only get that time once, and when it goes past we never get it back for an install.
2. We need more sales, of our inventory.
3. I need wisdom to know what to do with some of our clients who are having a hard time paying.
4. I need to have faith and to wait on God. I have been trying to be in control again, even though I know it is futile, but I want to "do my part". I have no part but need.
5. We need "healthy" reports for some of our staff, as they are going through so tough medical times right now.

That's probably enough for today. I have been encouraged lately with;
Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?

This really reminds me of what my complete job is. I think that God is breaking it down for me into tiny pieces so He can give them to me one at a time. He knows I can't handle too much, so it's good of Him to feed it to me slowly.

Thanks again for your prayers.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Thanks for Praying

Hey All,
The meeting went very well. The bank is good for now and God is controlling the entire universe.
Thanks for your prayers.

Please Pray

I have another meeting today with the bank, so please pray that God would have Priceless Granite find favor in the eyes of those who make the decisions.

Crazy times require that we depend solely on our Great and Powerful god who has and can change the hearts of ruler, both in civil issues and spiritual matters.

It will be fun to see what He has in store for me today, and to see if I am able to trust Him. He's working on me pretty hard and I am happy that He has not given up on me yet.

Bon Appetit

Is. 25:6 On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare
a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine—
the best of meats and the finest of wines.

Since Heaven is going to be more than we can really imagine, in the best of ways, I am wondering about the food there.

There is going to be a feast, and I assume it will not be just one feast, but a feast all the time. It looks like we're having steak, which I really like and for those who like wine, I would say that this will be the best wine they have ever tasted. Remember what Jesus did at the wedding feast? Will we have steak and wine for every meal? I think that God can make some mean mashed potatoes:)

Imagine the best food you have ever eaten; Gelati-sorry I like ice cream-

perfectly cooked steak, an amazing soup, great pizza, whatever it is that you like, just imagine it. Now imagine, and we can't, it being infinitely better than you have just imagined it. That was a really weird way to say it, but I will leave it.

No more hunger, no more tears, no more pain and no more hassles of this life; and that's what we get rid of. That is only half of it. We GET infinitely better. We can do without today, because we will get infinitely better in Heaven.

Just imagine the feast with Jesus, OUR Precious Redeemer at the head of the table. For all eternity we get HIM! Hallelujah, let's go right now!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I Don't Know How He Does It!

Today I needed some encouragement. I was waiting to go into an in home appointment and I was just a little early, so I pulled off to the side of the road and pulled out my Bible.

When I'm down I like to turn to the Psalms, because I guess I think somewhat like David. I hope that I can grow into being a man after God's own heart like he was.

So Psalms it is, but which one? So many good chapters to read, so little time. I don't normally use the bulls eye approach, open it up and point, but I had to open it somewhere in Psalms and I turned to the 86th. I was going to turn back to some others that I really enjoy, but I read the title and thought "that should be good".

I had been really praying this exact thing for most of the morning and David repeats it in God's Word. God is so amazing. I don't know how He does this, but I am happy He does.

Psalm 86:1 Hear, O LORD, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.

2 Guard my life, for I am devoted to you.
You are my God; save your servant
who trusts in you.

3 Have mercy on me, O Lord,
for I call to you all day long.

4 Bring joy to your servant,
for to you, O Lord,
I lift up my soul.

5 You are forgiving and good, O Lord,
abounding in love to all who call to you.

6 Hear my prayer, O LORD;
listen to my cry for mercy.

7 In the day of my trouble I will call to you,
for you will answer me.

8 Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord;
no deeds can compare with yours.

9 All the nations you have made
will come and worship before you, O Lord;
they will bring glory to your name.

10 For you are great and do marvelous deeds;
you alone are God.

11 Teach me your way, O LORD,
and I will walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.

12 I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever.

13 For great is your love toward me;
you have delivered me from the depths of the grave.

14 The arrogant are attacking me, O God;
a band of ruthless men seeks my life—
men without regard for you.

15 But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

16 Turn to me and have mercy on me;
grant your strength to your servant
and save the son of your maidservant.

17 Give me a sign of your goodness,
that my enemies may see it and be put to shame,
for you, O LORD, have helped me and comforted me.

Are you a Field?

Luke 8:10 He said, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that 'seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.' 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. 14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

Lately, God has impressing on me the lavishness of His grace in allowing me to see my sin, understand His call, giving me the desire to follow His call and then giving me the understanding of His Word.

As I go throughout my day, and for you this is probably true as well, there are so many people who have not been given this gift. Matt. 7:14 "But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it". Why has God given some this gift and not given it to many others? Because of His grace to the few, and only for that reason. We have no merit of our own, lest we should have room to boast.

But the rest of the parable is also very telling. Thankfully, at some point in my life I have truly been every kind of soil. I say "Thankfully" because the good soil is included in the list and when we are finally prepared to be rich soil to receive the Seed of His Word, then we are truly saved.

Many around us are the other soils. They may say they are saved and they may say they are God is working in their lives, but the only thing we can do is watch the "field". If it produces fruit, long term, then there is good soil.

Lord, plow my heart deep and take away all the weeds and rocks so that I might be a field that You can produce fruit from. There is nothing I can do except to accept the plowing and receive the seed. All the rest is up to You. You plant, water, give life to the Seed, tend the garden as a master gardener, and then you even harvest. Make me to be a field that is filled with good fruit, so that You might be glorified, so I can boast in You and You alone.

Tears and Perfume

Luke 7:36 One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner." 40And Jesus answering said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." And he answered, "Say it, Teacher."

41"A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?" 43Simon answered, "The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt." And he said to him, "You have judged rightly." 44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little." 48And he said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." 49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, "Who is this, who even forgives sins?" 50 And he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

What is Jesus trying to say here? Is it about tears and expensive perfume? Is it about if we should eat with non Christians? Is it about washing feet? Or is it about canceling debts?

It's about forgiveness and thankfulness. The Pharisee is thinking, to himself, that he is righteous and really doesn't need Jesus that much. When Jesus comes into his house, he might have been thinking that this was good for Jesus, to get to be with such an important person as himself. He offered no greeting or foot washing, because he may have been thinking that it was Jesus who should have been SOOO thankful to get to eat with him, not the other way around.

When we see our sin for what it truly is, then we know for sure how poor and needy we are, and we see our absolute need of a Savior. Because of our tremendous need, our thanks and praise to Our Great Sacrificial Lamb should be all the more fervent.

I think this is harder for those of us who have grown up in the Church. We have been spared by God the pain and heartache of doing "all those bad things" and this can tend to make us think that we're not that bad. That is exactly what the Pharisees were always thinking. "I thank God that I am not as this tax gather" will get you a ticket straight to hell.

We are ALL tax "collector" and "prostitutes" in some way or another. Maybe not in a literal way, but certainly our hearts are enslaved to sin and until Christ willingly took my place on the cross, there was no way out for me. Oh Great Propitiation.

This is where brokenness over sin has to come into place for salvation to be genuine. If I just am inviting Jesus into my "house" because of the benefits that He will get from it, I am not saved. If I know that I have nothing to bring to the table but need of His forgiven, then I am going the right direction toward true repentance and forgiveness. Forgiveness of sins is a glorious truth that should be met with glorious praise to our Savior. The tears show brokenness over sin, the perfume is thankfulness of coming forgiveness.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Please Pray for Them

Well it is very hard to believe that this Sunday will be a year since Grant's event. A lot has changed in my life in that year. A lot has changed in Grant's life as well. God is really growing him and bringing him to a closer walk with Himself.

The reason for this post is not for me or Grant though; it is for the "ninja-CPR giving-super hero mom".

For dads and sons these things are maybe a little easier to forget about. But it seems that for moms there are times in almost every day that a sound, or something different can trigger a thought that really effects Teresa.

She has such a soft heart and is a great and kind mom, and of course she would never want anything to happen to her kids, but when she hears certain noises it triggers the memory of the day that she had to save her son's life.

Pray for our family hero. Pray that she would trust the care of her Heavenly Father and that she would think right thoughts about His care for her. The days surrounding this time are probably going to be very hard for her, even though Grant is alive and seems to be doing well, it is still a difficult time.

Grant's event was on the weeding party day, which is this Saturday. And was the day before Easter, which is coming in a while.

Also, pray for those who have lost loved ones. I can think of a few right now; Grace, Sheri and SC & Mary Beth Chapman. Days on the calendar, smells, sounds and people, all trigger emotions that we can't know. God has a plan for each one of us and we have to trust that His plan is perfect for us, but we are weak, frail sinners and we often take our eyes of Him.

God's Blessed Trade

Romans 8:32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all..

How is it that God would trade His perfectly righteous, all powerful, perfectly good and kind Son for a sinner like me? What do I have to offer as any part of a trade that would make this seem right and good to Him? What does He get in exchange for His Son? What can I add to Him that He does not already have and has not given for me first in order that I could give it back?

There is no possible way to make this calculation make sense. Any financial person, or mathematician would tell you "this does not compute". BUT God has done this trade; trading His perfect Son for a very imperfect sinner.

So what should my response be to this? If I can add no righteousness, goodness, possessions or anything else to God, what am I supposed to do? Can I give back to God? Is this what He really wants?

In a very small way this is like parents and children. An infant can "add" nothing to the home except dirty diapers, many demanded feedings throughout the day and night and throwing up on things. Yet they bring no income, or support back into the family. So why would you have kids, knowing you're just making yourself a lot of work?

Children do bring joy into the home. Is the joy from the work or sleepless nights? Not so much, but they still bring joy. Especially as they grow up, they are lots of work and they cost a lot more, but they still can bring joy.

I think that just as our kids bring joy to the parents, we can bring joy to our Heavenly Father by, being thankful, being obedient and honor Him in every way we are able. Our kids honor us when they do this, which brings us joy.

I want to be adding to God's fullness of joy, some joy that He finds in me. He doesn't need my joy, to make His full, it is already full, but He loves to have His children glorify Him, by being obedient to what we know He has called us to do, by being thankful for what He has already done. He loves to be praised as we see our total dependence on Him and then come to receive all that He offers us. He doesn't want me to bring anything and He wants to give all of Himself to us. What a deal; we bring our need to Him, He fills it, we are blessed by His kindness and He is glorified in our dependent asking and thanksgiving.

God has truly gotten the short end of the stick when trading His Son for me, but for some reason He did not spare His only Son for me. What a blessed trade to prove an incomprehensible love. May I see this truth for what it really is and live it out for the entire world to see.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Am I Really Willing?

Matt. 13:44 "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. 45" Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

This is Jesus' story and He is making a pretty strong point here. If I am NOT willing to leave everything to follow Him, then I will NOT be given the gift of Heaven. The interesting thing is that these men 1) are seeking and working to find these things that are of utmost value, 2) these things are not hidden so much that someone else could not have found them, if they had been looking, 3) they don't go sell everything they have begrudgingly, but with JOY. They know they are choosing the best thing; they know that the "sacrifice" they are making is no sacrifice at all, because they get God in the end. Often I am willing to sacrifice something, but it is not with joy as much as duty, or self denial. But Jesus is telling us right here, "I am worth it, no matter what it is you have to leave, I am worth the trade".

Whether I believe this or not greatly effects where I will spend eternity, because will I really be following Christ if I am following out of duty? Wouldn't that make me like the Pharisees, if I was following Him out of duty? Until I start to understand that following Christ is my greatest joy, no matter what the cost, even if it is my life, then I am not really following Christ.

Oh that I might always see Christ as my highest Treasure and then follow Him no matter what the cost. May my heart not deceive me. May my joy be fixed on Him and Him alone. May the things of this earth grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.

Ps. 42:1 As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.

2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?

Is. 55:1 "Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.

2 Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.

3 Give ear and come to me;
hear me, that your soul may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
my faithful love promised to David.

Does God tell us anything about what will happen to those who are not willing to leave everything? Does God give us any encouragement, even in the same verse, for those who are willing to follow Him whole-heartedly? If I follow after idols, then I am putting my hope of salvation in those things. If God is my refuge, I will inherit Heaven and Him for eternity.

Is. 56:13 When you cry out for help,
let your collection of idols (things you would not leave) save you!
The wind will carry all of them off,
a mere breath will blow them away.
But the man who makes me his refuge
will inherit the land
and possess my holy mountain."


If I am held by the God who holds the entire universe in His hand
If I am watched by the God who sees every sparrow fall
If I am sustained by the God who controls the wind and rain
If I am known by the God who knows the number of every hair on each head
If I am guided by the God who guides every planet and star
If I am given understanding by the God who knows the thoughts and meditations of every heart
If I am fed by the God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills
If I am promised the desires of my heart by the God who never breaks His promise
If I am loved by the God whose love is unfailing
If I walk on paths made by the God who directs every path
If my hope is in the God of all Hope
If I am heir to the King of all kings
If I am subject to the Lord of all lords
If I am purchased by the Beloved Son of the God of all gods
If I am truly believing all these things, then what is there to be concerned with, except please Him?
The answer, of course, is nothing.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Trust and Obey

Ps. 4:5 Offer right sacrifices,
and put your trust in the LORD.

6 There are many who say, "Who will show us some good?
Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!"
7 You have put more joy in my heart
than they have when their grain and wine abound.

8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

God desires our obedience, right sacrifices, and not just lip service. We are to obey what He has said in His Word ans then trust in Him. These are pretty simple directions, but impossible to follow if we are not submitting to the authority of His Word.

It is so true that when we are satisfied in God, there is no abundance here on earth that can compare. When He is our portion, we need nothing more.

Trusting in Him brings rest and safety. There is no place to truly rest and be safe except for in Him. If only I would simply trust Him.

Oh Lord, You are my portion, You are my Rest, You alone are my Safety. May I consider Your Words and be at rest in all that You are.

Pray for our President

The Bible is shot through with examples of kings and leaders having their hearts changed by God. Ezra, Esther, Daniel, Joseph and many more are examples of this.

I have been convicted that I am not praying enough for President Obama. This presidency may be one of the most crucial ones in the history of our nation and there is much that needs to be decided. The decisions he and his people make today will effect our children and our grand children.

We are to pray for the authorities over us, whether we voted for them or not, as they are God's ordained authority over us. Pray for wisdom, discernment, health, a righteous world view, and that he would be bold, if God chooses to change his heart, because he has surrounded himself with many who will also need to have their hearts changed to rule righteously.

Not an easy command to follow, never the less, it is still a command.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Hatred of Sin

Ps. 5:4 For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness,
Nor shall evil dwell with You.
5 The boastful shall not stand in Your sight;
You hate all workers of iniquity.
6 You shall destroy those who speak falsehood;
The LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.

Ps. 97:10 Let those who love the LORD hate evil,
for he guards the lives of his faithful ones
and delivers them from the hand of the wicked

Prov. 8:13 To fear the LORD is to hate evil;
I hate pride and arrogance,
evil behavior and perverse speech.

Romans 12:9 Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

One of the Religious Affection I have been thinking about is hatred of sin. It is interesting that an "Affection" can be hatred of something. I fear that my heart has been seared, my intake of earthly junk is so great and the time following after earthly pleasure and a sinful nature has made my true hatred of sin very small.

In these verses God is telling us what He thinks about evil and sin. His eyes are too pure to look on sin, and He can not tolerate wrong Hab. 1:13. Yet, my hatred of sin is shown by my misguided affections.

How am I to "love not the world, neither the things that are in the world", 1 John 2:15 if I don't hate what is in the world and don't hate sin?

God alone can change my affections and the things I hate. God alone grants true repentance toward true joy and God alone can make my heart sensitive to sin.

I think about something sensitive to pain, like when you rip off your fingernail and all you have left is the quick. You have no idea how many times everyday your finger is bumped, until you do something like that, but then even a feather hurts.

The only way our hearts can get back to that sin sensitive place is by God showing us our sin, confessing and repenting of that sin on an ongoing basis and for us to turn from that sin to true joy. I am seeing that this is not a short process and that it takes God working in my heart to even start it.

If He can't look at evil I need Christ's righteousness to cover my sin so my Heavenly Father can see me and protect and guide me.

There are not many things I can control in this life, but in the areas that I have control, namely my affections, I need to be faithful to His calling.

Oh Lord, change my affections and give me a hatred of sin. I am inclined to want the things of this world over You, but You can give me a new perspective of what holiness looks like and even a hatred of sin. I want to be one of Your "faithful ones" so You will guard me and protect me from the wicked one. You alone can bring about this change of affections, please do that in me.

Stand Still and See the Power of God!

1 Sam. 12:14 If you will fear the LORD and serve him and obey his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the LORD your God, it will be well. 15 But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then the hand of the LORD will be against you and your king. 16 Now therefore stand still and see this great thing that the LORD will do before your eyes. 17 Is it not wheat harvest today? I will call upon the LORD, that he may send thunder and rain. And you shall know and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking for yourselves a king." 18 So Samuel called upon the LORD, and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day, and all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel.

19 And all the people said to Samuel, "Pray for your servants to the LORD your God, that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil, to ask for ourselves a king." 20 And Samuel said to the people, "Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. 21 And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. 22 For the LORD will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you a people for himself. 23 Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way. 24 Only fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you. 25 But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king."

What a great story of the sinfulness of man, the power of God and His long-suffering toward His people.

The Israelites had asked for a king, when God was their King. They wanted to be like the rest of the nations on earth, who had a visible king. There is a problem when God's people want to be like the world. So God allowed them to have a king. They had been seeing what the world was doing and started to follow after idols and, each time, God punished them for their sin, as He listed for them in the previous verses.

But God, through Samuel, tells them that even with this new king, if they, and the king, follow God, God will bless them. BUT, they have to follow God. I like when Samuel tells them to "Stand still and see this great thing that the LORD will do before your eyes". He is saying, "I will prove to you that God means what He says", or "God is serious about sin and your love and devotion for Him".

Apparently it would have been very rare, maybe even unprecedented, to have thunder and rain at harvest, so this is what Samuel tells them will happen. He prays and as they are standing there God delivers. What power! We must not trifle with God.

The Israelites immediately understand their position and they also see the power of God, and that Samuel is also someone they want to have on their side. They want Samuel to continue to pray for them, because he obviously is a righteous man who has the ear of God when he prays.

Samuel encourages them that even though they have sinned greatly, and even though on top of that sin they have asked for a king when they shouldn't have, they are still God's people and God will not forsake His chosen ones. What a transition from seeing their sin and knowing the power of God, to being told that even with all of these things against them, God still loves them and He will not forsake them. It is so amazing that even though God knows our sin record and He knows we will sin again, He will not forsake those He loves and has chosen. What a long suffering Savior.

He does this for His name's sake, not because His people are so worthy. "He is pleased to make a people for Himself". What can any people bring to God that they would be worthy of His choosing? Why would He pick the Jews, the smallest of nations to be His people? If they were a large nation, they would be able to claim that they had done something great to remain over all these generations. But since they are weak and small, it is only God who can sustain them through all that has happened to them.

He does give them some guidelines in order that they be not "swept away". They are to fear the Lord, serve Him with ALL their heart and consider all that He has done for them.

He requires the same from us. As His chosen, small and frail, people; people who sin and follow after worthless things; people who want to be like the world; people who have sinned much even after seeing the power of God; if we are His children He will not forsake us, Heb. 13:5. BUT, we must fear Him, we must serve Him with all our hearts and we must remember and be thankful for all that He has done for us.

Most powerful God, full of glory, majestic in the Heavens, controller of lightning, thunder, wind and rain, lover of all that is good and right and hater of all that is evil, You have called a people unto Yourself to be set apart and different from this world. You have done this that You will be glorified through them. Not because we are so great, but because we are so weak and yet You sustain us.

May I follow You as I should, with all my heart. May You be glorified in the change that You have made in me. May the world know that it is You, and only You, that could bring about this type of change in someone like me. Make Your name great in Your people and may I not be a blemish or a dishonor to Your great name.

Lord I am thankful that You are long-suffering with me. I am not deserving, You are simply kind and merciful. I don't know why You don't just crush me, like You did in the OT, but I am thankful that You have endured with me in order that I would turn from following empty things and turn to the One who is the Fullness of everything good. I am not deserving of this grace and mercy, or I would then have room to boast. You alone are worthy of all of my praise.

Carry me to Your heights that I may dwell in Your house forever, for in Your presence there is fullness of joy. Until I am there with You, continue to mold me and shape me after Your will and give me the affections You desire in each of Your children.