Saturday, May 30, 2009

Show up and Stir

Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

There are times when going to church is inconvenient; maybe it is just the thought that there is not enough "bang for the buck";there is so much to do at home. There are so many choices of what to do with our Sundays, both morning and evening.

I am not saying that there are not times when we really "need" to be gone, but this should be the exception rather than the rule. What if the topic is something that you don't think you need? What if the speaker is not the one you would prefer to listen to? Should this keep us away? No. How will others be encouraged if we don't show up to fill in our piece of the puzzle?

If we are supposed to stir, or agitate, one another to love and good deeds, how will that happen is we are not there? This is really discouraging on one side; the side that there are people waiting for us to encourage them, and we don't show up. It is also encouraging when you think that just because you are not the pastor or Sunday School teacher, you can really make an impact others in the Church if we just show up and let the Lord work through us.

Show up and Stir.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Focused Faith

Ps. 84:11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield;the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.
"I am in myself a poor worthless sinner, but I have been saved by the blood of Christ; and I do not live in sin, I walk uprightly before God. Therefore, if it is really good for me, my darling wife will be raised up again; sick as she is. God will restore her again. But if she is not restored again, then it would not be a good thing for me. And so my heart was at rest. I was satisfied with God." George Mueller

"The Lord is good, and doeth good,' all will be according to His own blessed character. Nothing but that, which is good, like Himself, can proceed from Him. If he pleases to take my dearest wife, it will be good, like Himself. What I have to do, as His child, is to be satisfied with what my Father does, that I may glorify Him. After this my soul not only aimed, but this my soul, by God's grace, attained to. I was satisfied with God” G. Mueller.

I have just read a short biographical sketch on George Mueller; what an amazing man holding fast to an amazing God. This was his thought and heart when he was losing and then had lost his first wife. The man who had prayed so many times to have God bring food and clothes to the orphans was now asking God's will to be done in his wife's life, but he wanted only for God to keep her alive if that was what God wanted. We must pray with the heart of the Father and try to only ask for His will to be done. Rather than try to bend His will to ours, we must ask Him to shape our wills to His own.

He never took a salary, he never was in debt. All the orphanages, with all the orphans, were fed and clothed by God bringing in funds and supplies from people who were NOT solicited by Mueller. His thought was, "God knows what we need and He will bring it, through His appointed means and in His appointed time". He would still tell us today that his faith was no different than ours, and that he just trusted God to do what God does. He would also tell us that it is a sin not to trust God.

He left no family of his own and a son in law was the only survivor when he died; he buried 2 wives and a daughter and a very young son. What a legacy of grace and faith he left for us and so many of the children in the orphanages. Some 10,000 children went through his homes and all would have seen God working through this man who trusted, with such faith, that God would do what is best for His children.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pleasing Pain

Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

So what does this really mean? Yesterday, while returning from Grant's state golf tournament we were listening to J. Piper on the ipod. Grant missed the cut by a stroke or 2, but he was close. Can not making the cut be good? I would ask, can cardiac arrest be good?

There are times in our lives that we look at things and think, "There is no good that can come out of this". God has proved that statement SO wrong SO many times. Piper was talking about David Brainerd and all the things that happened to him that he could have thought as bad, yet they turned out amazingly good.

Did you know that he got kicked out of school for a few wrongly timed and wrongly directed sentences, and from his being kicked out of Yale, half of the school we know today as very elite schools were started. If he had not been kicked out, we would probably not even know who he was. God does work in mysterious ways.

Here is a little taste of David Brainerd from John Piper.

"I think the reason Brainerd's life has such powerful effects on people is that in spite of all his struggles he never gave up his faith or his ministry. He was consumed with a passion to finish his race and honor his Master and spread the kingdom and advance in personal holiness. It was this unswerving allegiance to the cause of Christ that makes the bleakness of his life glow with glory so that we can understand Henry Martyn when he wrote, as a student in Cambridge in 1802, "I long to be like him (p. 4)!"

Brainerd called his passion for more holiness and more usefulness a kind of "pleasing pain." "When I really enjoy God, I feel my desires of him the more insatiable, and my thirstings after holiness the more unquenchable; ... Oh, for holiness! Oh, for more of God in my soul! Oh, this pleasing pain! It makes my soul press after God ... Oh, that I might not loiter on my heavenly journey (p. 186)!"

He was gripped with by the apostolic admonition: "Redeem the time for the days are evil." (Ephesians 5:16) He embodied the counsel: "Let us not grow weary in well doing, for in due time we shall reap if we do not faint." (Gal. 6:9) He strove to be, as Paul says, "abounding in the work of the Lord (1 Cor. 15:58)."

April 17, 1747. "O I longed to fill the remaining moments all for God! Though my body was so feeble, and wearied with preaching and much private conversation, yet I wanted to sit up all night to do something for God. To God the giver of these refreshments, be glory forever and ever; Amen." (p. 246) February 21, 1746. "My soul was refreshed and comforted, and I could not but bless God, who had enabled me in some good measure to be faithful in the day past. Oh, how sweet it is to be spent and worn out for God!"

I like the statement "Pleasing Pain". Often times the pain we get is not for our immediate joy, but for our future joy and growth, and also for the joy and growth of others. As other watch a passionate pursuit of God, they are encouraged to passionately pursue as well.

I also really liked the "that I might not loiter on my Heavenly journey". It is so easy to take so much time in smelling the roses that we neglect to tell of Him who created the rose. Often I fail at doing either of those.

There are not many, today, who will have the impact as a David Brainerd, but are we laboring in the field that God has placed us with all the passion that He requires us to be working? I have much room for growth here. We must stay in the field that God has planted us in, and be producing the fruit that He brings us to produce.

To read all of this sermon from Piper Click Here.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Matt. 5:13 "You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

So what does salt really do? Why would Jesus use salt to illustrate a point and what was its significance for those people at that time?

Salt was a major source of income and a valuable trading commodity in Jesus' time. There were entire populations of people who gained their wealth and lived off of the value of salt.

Salt, as they would know it, would have 2 main uses; flavor and preserving. A white rock composed of sodium chloride that has a taste like no other element. Serving bread and salt together as invited guests arrive is still a common custom in many parts of the world. Without some salt all humans and animals would not survive. I like just a little extra salt in my chocolate chip cookies.

Salt was a also used as a preservative. Of course there was no refrigeration in Jesus' day, so when they killed an animal it was advantageous to have some way to make the meat last for more than a day. The sun was hot and meat would spoil rapidly, so discovering the properties of salt was very helpful. Salted fish was brought from far away and traded for various items of need. Salt was also used in the embalming process.

So what was Jesus thinking when He told His disciples "You are the salt of the earth"? He had just given them a list of things they should "Be" and He follows that up with salt.

As Christians we should be so much different than the world. We obviously have the same bodies and if you line us up with non Christians there would be no way to tell us apart. But we are to be very different in our actions and who we are. Jesus is telling His disciples that they are to be the preserving element in the world. They are to go through this life and be as salt to the people around them.

What might this look like? When you walk into a room and everyone is talking trashy, they should know that you are a Christian and they should stop. When they stop talking in an inappropriate manner there is a preserving affect for those who were listening. What they were listening to was not edifying, so our being salt helped to preserve them. Our prayers help to preserve non believers. Our righteous actions help to preserve our communities. Our treating others the way God intended, is preserving kindness and hospitality. We may be the only salt around, but a little salt goes a long way.

It is interesting that Jesus goes immediately into what happens if we lose our saltiness. Salt, left out in the sun, air and water, looses it effectiveness; it becomes a white-ish colored rock that is not good for anything. Jesus is telling the disciples that if they are salt and if they let their saltiness go away, they are not good for anything and will be used as gravel for the roads and paths.

Jesus was serious about what we as Christians are to be and do. He didn't beat around the bush at all. He expects us to be flavoring our conversations with salt, preserving those around us that need preserving and if we are not doing that, we are like branches that don't produce; they are cut off in thrown into the fire.

How's your saltiness today? Are you the preserving one in your circle of influence, or are you the one who needs to be salted?

Groaning Creation

Romans 8:20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

It is hard to imagine the elements of creation groaning to get back to the perfect state they were in before the Fall. Humans can read, talk and relay the story down through centuries and generations, but how does that look to an apple tree? How does that look to a pineapple plant?

Sometimes I get oranges that are so juicy and sweet and even if they are peeled it is difficult to eat the sections w/o getting juice all over my chin. Then there are times when the outside looks so good, perfect color, nice little dimples and you open it up and it is like orange sawdust. How do you get a perfect orange all the time?

There is going to big a gathering; a feast. Jesus is going to have a feast and all His children are invited to dine with the One Who bore our sins on the cross so that we could accept His righteousness, in order that we would be able to sit in the presence of the Father.

I have been to banquets where the food was good and a few where the food was exceptional. When the Creator of the universe throws a feast, and all of creation is back to perfection as it was intended to be, the food there will be like none we have ever tasted. Sometimes people will say, "When you go to this place you have to have the ________, it's so good; it's the best thing you have ever tasted". Then you go and it's ok. At God's feast everything will be the best we have ever had.

All of creation is groaning to be back. Every tree which today is struggling to survive because of some disease, every flower that is wilting under the sun, every stream that has some pollution in it, every animal that is nearing extinction for one reason or another; they are all groaning, waiting for the King to return and put everything back to its rightful place. Will it be today that He comes back to restore His Kingdom? Are you groaning, waiting with excitement to see the King return?

My bones are creaking, like an overloaded timber in a ship that is about to explode from the force put on it from the storm outside pressuring to get it. I want so much for Jesus to come back today and right all wrongs, reward the righteous and carry us off to eternal glory. Will it be today? Am I living like it might be? My hope is in the Lord.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Please pray for my friend

I have a friend who recently found out that their child is seriously on drugs. The parent is a believer and has been through many trials if their own and now the evil one is working hard on the children.

Pray that they would have strength, boldness, faith, endurance, love and peace in this time.

There are not words for us to say in a situation like this, except for scripture. God has a plan and will be glorified even in a situation like this, but that does not make this easy for the parent.

God is BIG and He can and does do miracles. He can and does change hearts. If He can raise Lazarus from the dead and if He can stop and start Grant's heart, He can change the life of this child.

This also should remind us of what it must be like for God to watch billions of His own creation shun His grace and spit in His face as so many walk, or run, away from His Gift of salvation. It must break His heart, even more than this parent.

It should also make us thankful for the children we have who are walking with Him and have responded to His calling on their lives.

We have much to be thankful for and much to be excited about when this short life is over.

Great is Your Reward in Heaven

Matt. 5:12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Down through the ages there have been people who have said that there is no need to look for the reward, or to always be thinking about Heaven, but that we can just be a Christian for the joy of being a Christian today. They are setting themselves apart as being a sort of "super saint". While in a trial, they would abdicate that there is no reason to look to the future reward, but that a good Christian should just be able to "grin and bear it" for the sheer joy of being a Christian today.

Fortunately, both Jesus and Paul tell us that this is not Biblical thinking. For the true Christian, who is living righteously, there is going to be suffering and persecution in this life. If these 2 thing are missing from our life we need to examine ourselves to see if we are a Christian living righteously.

For those who are living righteously, when the suffering and persecution comes we have a hope that the world does not have. How could loosing a loved one, prematurely, be a light and momentary affliction? How could the early Christians leave their homes to visit other Christians in prison and joyfully lose their possessions? How could Jesus look to the cross and endure the shame and disgrace of His own creation, if there was not something greater coming later?

The Bible tells us, repeatedly, that we are to be thinking of the future reward, having our thoughts in Heaven; sell everything for the pearl of great price; set your affections in Heaven; rejoice in the reward that is in Heaven; and many other commands along the same lines.

How do we live this way if we are given so little information about Heaven? Rev. 4-5 tells us a little about what Heaven will be like. A shiny throne with other thrones around it, magnificent colors, brilliant lights, a glass sea, strange flying creatures with lots of eyes, loud and glorious singing are all set out for us to try to imagine, in our fallen and feeble minds, what it will really be like. But we aren't given too much more than that, as we can't comprehend how good it is going to be. We must just trust that it will be amazing and let God handle the rest.

For today, we can and should look for the reward that awaits those who live righteously in the present age. This is our reward and we should run after it. If we will work hard for a prize in this life that means very little; if we will work hard for things that depreciate or can be stolen; if we will get up early and stay up late to make a name for ourselves; then why would we not much more then run hard after the prize that can never fade?

Heaven is going to be perfectly amazing. There is no way to explain, in words, how good it will be. The moment we arrive we will be forever be in glorious exaltation of the One Who made our salvation possible by suffering momentarily for an eternity of reward. His reward is His Bride and the praise that she gives Him. Our reward is being in His presence and being free from sin and the curse of this life.

Oh what a day that will be. Jesus come back for Your Bride today and take away our sin, make us forever righteous. Bring us home to be with You. Please find us watching, waiting and ready for Your return. Like John, give us just a taste of Heaven now, that we might live more like You did when You were here on earth. Give us a vision of who You want us to be, in You, and then give us the strength to live it. Your plan is amazing and we are on the edge of our seats ready for Your return.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Suffering and Persecution-cont.-cont.

Lloyd-Jones talks about this subject in his commentary on the Sermon on the Mount and he discusses whether there will be persecution for being good and noble, since they are similar to righteousness.

It is interesting that these are pretty similar, but when you think about it, being noble and good on earth is generally rewarded but righteousness is not. Rom. 5:7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die.

Even as far back as Abel, living righteously has been met with persecution. Lloyd-Jones mentions Moses, David, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos and Daniel in the OT and many of the disciples in the NT. And of course Jesus told His disciples that if they persecuted Him, for sure they were going to persecute His followers.

It is also interesting that it is not often that the persecution of the righteous comes from the world, but more times than not it comes from those who are supposed to be living righteously in the first place; the religious. In Jesus' day almost all of His persecution came from the "religious elite", not from "tax-collectors and sinners".

The world knows, for the most part, that it is going against God; all of creation cries out against their wickedness. The religious know they are supposed to be living righteously and when one or two are living righteously and many others are not this makes the majority look bad. This is where the persecution took place in Jesus' day and this is where it may take place for us as well. Matt. 23:27-36.

We are to be salt and light to the world and live holy lives, set apart unto God, and this is going to bring persecution; sometimes from out side the "church" and sometimes from inside. Regardless where it comes from, we should expect it and when it comes we should be ready to receive it with grace, as this is a sign of our following the Master. This is a sign of true Christianity.

Suffering and Persecution-cont.

This was a comment back to me and I don't want you all to miss it. It is from Ryan Hall and he adds much to the original post. I'll post again on the subject so the post is not so long.

"You hit the nail right on the head about suffering and persecution and the weak-sauce thoughts that can go with it. It is crazy how many Christians think that "for a cause, or for our own foolish choices or because we are doing wrong" brings about real suffering and persecution, but like you said that is not what Jesus and Paul are talking about.

You got my mind rollin a little too, and I remembered a verse in Philippians about it is....

"Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake" (Philippians 1:27-29)

The content of this paragraph is awesome. It has been granted to us in Christ that we should suffer for His sake. People love darkness rather then light, and anytime a follower of Jesus Christ is walking worthy of His calling it will upset the mass because of their evil and wicked ways. We don't even have to say anything (and sometimes we need to speak the truth in love) if our lives are lived out in a worthy manner of the gospel.

And check out what the Word says in First John....
"Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you." (1 John 3:12-13)

When we are walking worthy of our calling in the gospel, the world is going to hate and persecute us for that kind of righteousness. The righteousness we got when we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ. (see 2 Cor. 5:21). But that is ok because that is how Christians roll down here on earth. We live for the King and that means no backing down when it comes to living righteously"

Saturday, May 23, 2009

God and Worms

As I prepared to go on a walk this morning and thought about tired hands and feet, sore muscles and joints, and I hadn't even started to walk yet, I knew that I must get out and just do it.

Creation this morning is both visually and audibly loud praising its Maker. Birds singing as they go about their daily task of gathering food, with no thought for what will happen this afternoon or tomorrow morning. Flowers come alive as they display His handy-work not knowing that they are here today and gone tomorrow. I am quickly reminded of both His faithfulness and promises to me, in such abundance.

As I walk along the road I see the struggles of a small, insignificant worm. It apparently started to cross the road a little too late, as now the sun's warmth is drying the road and the slippery creature is drying up at a faster rate than it can travel. Speed is not its strength. I don't think most people would consider me too sensitive, maybe more after Grant's event, but I reached down to pick it up and throw it into the grass.

Strangely it struggles against my gloved fingers, like it could help itself off the road. If I don't pick it up and throw it in the grass, it will soon be dead, but it doesn't know the touch of its "rescuer". I ignore the "fight" and pick it up anyway and now it is feeling the refreshing coolness and moisture of the grass as it gets re-hydrated.

As I walk off from the worm there is now a visual reminder of what God has done for me. There is infinite separation between my low estate and the worm, and also God's high estate and me as a "rescuer", but I think you can get the picture as I did. God sees me struggling to get across the road of life, pursuing things I have no business pursuing. He allows the struggle as long as He sees fit and then when the time is right, though I struggle against the Savior, He still reaches down and rescues me. If it were not for His saving hand I would be dead, yet for some reason He saw fit to breathe new life into me and bring me to the Fountain that never will run dry.

His care and provision for His children is immense and amazing, yet often I want to go back to the dry road to see if I can make it over yet again. Lord keep me pursuing You and what You would have me to do. Don't let me ever forget where I came from and Who it is that saved me. You are great and all of creation will sing Your praise today and forever.

Suffering and Persecution

Romans 8:16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Matt. 5: 10 "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Suffering is not something that we are generally gravitating toward. Especially in America, we like our lives to be easy and free from suffering at almost any cost. We don't mind working hard and we will work hard so that when we are not working we can have an easy, entertained lifestyle.

But what are Jesus and Paul saying here? Suffering and persecution are not high on our list, but it certainly looks like they are saying that if we don't suffer and are not persecuted, for righteousness, we are not going to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.

Does all suffering and persecution look the same? For sure it can have many different forms and have many different levels of intensity. In America, today, it would not look the same as it did in the early Church, but we can still have it. We must remember that Jesus did not say that we would just be persecuted and that would be enough to get us to Heaven. We will be persecuted for righteousness sake; not for a cause, or for our own foolish choices or because we are doing wrong, but because we are righteous.

Suffering and persecution for righteousness requires a serious level of righteousness. There are many very nice people who make being around them a joy. We should be like that. Jesus is not telling us to be self righteous and call out every person's sin around us the moment we see it. Though He does call us to judge our own fruit and the fruit of others.

A righteous life if difficult for the unrighteous to be around. Misery loves company and sinners love to hang out with sinners. Darkness and light can not dwell in the same place. When we are righteous there should be a kind of repelling effect of the unrighteous and that will cause them to persecute us. Jesus came to bring a dividing sword; to put a brother against his brother and families will be divided because of the Gospel being lived out and talked about; because of our righteous conduct.

Talk about your own struggle with sin, talk about freedom in Christ to be His slave, don't do the same things you used to do, because now you are trying to live a more righteous life. You don't need to throw that in anyone's face, but when we are different from the world they will start to talk, and it will not always be "good", but if we are being persecuted for righteousness, it will be good.

We must try to be winsome in our righteousness, but we must be righteous. We must not try to avoid suffering and persecution at all costs, but really we should relish it when it comes, as this is further proof of our righteous living and also brings assurance of salvation. God won't give us anything we can't handle, so we should be joyful in our suffering and persecution.

This has not been my normal thought process, but God can change a thick rock heart like mine and He can change yours as well.

Slaves and Sons

Romans 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!"

For those who are believers we are both bond servants, doulos, and we are also sons.

We often miss the NT idea of slavery because of our American view of what it looks like. In NT times a slave could become a slave under various circumstance; a POW, selling themselves into slavery because of insolvency, born into slavery and a few others. Most slaves didn't really have any identity, but they often were treated well, because their masters knew that the closer they were treated to their emancipated counterparts the harder they would work.

"Doulos is a Greek word that means bond-servant. In the New Testament times it was not uncommon for a freed slave to voluntarily re-enter servitude to a master whom he loved. This servitude was called bond-service. Only a freed slave could be a bond-servant, and once he had chosen to become one, he could never be freed again. Neither could he be bought or sold, and he served his chosen master until death. When a man chose bond-service, he was taken to the front entrance of the house, and his right ear was laid against the door post. A nail was driven through his ear, and a golden earring was placed in it. This golden earring was a symbol to all of the servant’s choice and of his immunity to being made merchandise. Paul and Peter spoke of themselves as being bond-servants to Christ. There is a service whose true name is freedom." Kemper Crabb

With that imagery in mind, should there be fear in serving our Master? If the idea of serving a human, sinful master could bring peace and comfort to a man, then how much less fear when we are subjecting ourselves to the Perfect Master. He gives us everything we need to complete the task He has for us, He knows exactly what task we will be able to perform and at the rate we are able. As this quote states, this type of "slavery" is really freedom.

But Paul didn't stop at bind slave, he went on to tell us that we are adopted as sons. This was also something that happened to slaves in those days. If the master had no sons of his own he could adopt one, or more, slaves and make them sons. They were no longer slaves and now would have all the rights and privileges of sons. This would have been a huge deal for the slave. Think about going from having nothing, except a master, to call your own, to having all that the master would give you as his son. From no identity to the master's identity. From no possessions to all his possessions. From no rights, to the same rights of the master.

This is us. We were slaves to sin and Satan and Christ bought us out of our slavery; not so we would live on in fear of going back our old master, but so we will live in newness of life as voluntary, free slaves to our new Master, enjoying all the rights and privileges of son-ship.

This should change the way we live. What greater privilege to be free from sin and in the service of our Perfect Master, and heirs of The Father.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Rough Road vs. Smooth Road

"The eclipse of your faith, the darkness of your mind, the fainting of your hope, all these things are but parts of God's method of making you ripe for the great inheritance upon which you shall soon enter. These trials are for the testing and strengthening of your faith—they are waves that wash you further upon the rock—they are winds which waft your ship the more swiftly towards the desired haven... By honor and dishonor, by evil report and by good report, by plenty and by poverty, by joy and by distress, by persecution and by peace, by all these things is the life of your souls maintained, and by each of these are you helped on your way. Oh, think not, believer, that your sorrows are out of God's plan; they are necessary parts of it. We must, through much tribulation, enter the kingdom. Learn, then, even to 'count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations.'" Spurgeon, Morning and Evening.

It is often easier to think that God is in control when things are going along as we would like, but then that would be our trying to be in control. Think back on your life, long or short, and look where you have grown the most. I would guess that it was not when times were easy, but when times were difficult.

Our resting and trusting the Father's care is where we need to be and when we finally realize that we are in no way in control and that we really are totally dependent on Him, that is when we finally can grow.

Piper said something to the effect of, it is not difficult to love the Most Lovely, trust the One Who is always faithful, delight in the One Who is Most Delightful, and this is what we are created to do. We just have to get up every morning and remember why we are here.

If the chief end of man is to glorify God and to love Him forever, praise should always be in our hearts and on our lips, no matter what the events of today might hold, and no matter what dark cloud we think we might see in the future. What is the worst that can happen; we die and go to Heaven?, which is actually the best that can happen. "Oh, noble and pleasant employment to be for ever gazing at our sweet Lord Jesus!" Spurgeon.

Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your Reward in Heaven.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Habitations of the Heart

Romans 8:5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

How do we set our minds on the things of earth or the things of the Spirit? What does that look like? I am no expert in this, but I think Paul is trying to convey the idea that if the whole of our life is set on thinking about our work, kids, schooling or recreation..., we are setting our minds on fleshly things. None of these are intrinsically bad, but if they distract us from keeping our minds set on God they lead to death.

We can trade death for life and peace though; which is a great trade. To do this we must just set our minds on the things of the Spirit. But what does that look like in everyday life? The possibilities are endless but maybe these will help keep our minds and hearts focused where they should be.

When a trial comes, don't think about how bad it is, remind yourself that God is in control and He is using all the events of our lives to build us up. Remind yourself that God is good and He wants what is best for us.

When we sin against God and He chastens us, remember that He is the loving, perfect Father who knows actually what the punishment should be and how much to give with a goal for our sanctification and completeness. He disciplines those He loves to bring the relationship back to wholeness.

According to the flesh might be talking about what you have just done and how you are making such an impact where you are. According to the Spirit is the same exact situation, but understanding that any good we can do is only from God and that He is the One who gives the increase.

God wants and deserves our humble praise. He loves a broken and a contrite heart. There is no room on this relationship for pride. If we are to boast, it is only in Him. There is none who compare with Him, so boasting in anything else is just wasted words.

Heb. 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus' mind and heart were set on the joy set before Him, even though the only way to get there was the cross, it was His joy to be our Propitiation; our Sacrifice. His mind was set on Heaven, not on this earth. Even though He is the Creator of this earth, He lived as an alien and a stranger here, because He knew His rightful place was at the right hand of The Father.

Jesus prayed all the time; constantly talking to the Father. When we pray w/o ceasing we are living according to the Spirit. It is difficult to live according to the flesh when we are constantly in communication with the Father.

The eternal perspective is what we need to have in focus throughout our day. "What is God trying to teach me here?" Whatever we are in currently is just a light and momentary affliction on the way Home. When we know we are close to home we can endure a lot because we know rest is waiting for us there. Keep looking to Heaven. It will be here before you know it and we don't want to waste the little time we have here trying to get ahead for such a short time.

Think eternal thoughts. Meditate on God's promises to you. Recount His faithfulness to His people and, even more personally, to you. Encourage a brother or sister. Walk in newness of life. Speak to each other in songs, hymns and spiritual songs and make melody in your hearts, toward God. Don't let idols on the throne of your heart. Ask God to give you spiritual fervor.

Ps. 19:14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

God over Germs

I sometimes listen to people talking about sickness and disease they are going through, or maybe a family member is going through. We have had our share of hospitals and doctors over the years to the degree that some of the kids are not really interested in being "checked out" any more because the doctors can't really find anything conclusive.

I am not suggesting for a moment that I am upset with the care we have been given, as I think the doctors are doing all they know to do. It is interesting though how many different diseases and illnesses are around the world today. Can you imagine what it must have been like for those 2 or 3 days of sinless, curseless humanity on earth? Adam and Eve didn't know how good they had it, nor how bad it was going to get; and that was just on earth.

Have you ever really thought about all this disease and death being attributed to the first sin? We would have none of this w/o that first sin. But even more amazing, the other way, is the fact that God knows about every one of these diseases. He knows exactly what causes it and He knows the cure. He knows why the individual has this particular illness and when and if it will be cured. He knows about everything going on in our bodies right now, even if we don't have any visible symptoms.

There are so many crazy things going on in the world medically, and yet God knows exactly what will happen with every single one of these. He is personally involved in every situation and knows if this is going to be fatal or if it will be gone with some medical treatment. There are times when He heals before there are symptoms and times when He allows the symptoms to finish their course.

What an Amazing God we serve. His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. He knows our end from the beginning. He knows our going out and coming in; our rising and our lying down.

Serving The God Who rules and controls all things is not burdensome. Are we really proclaiming to the world how good God is when we act like God is small? How difficult is it to be subject to the most powerful God? Who can pick on you when your defender is omnipotent? Should we be trying to find another counselor, when we have God dwelling in our hearts, giving direction from within? Should we really ignore that counsel?

God is good and God is BIG. It should be our delight to worship, adore and serve the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, not our duty. We must live like we understand some of His character. With all the sin that I have committed, He should have struck me with some nasty, incurable disease a long time ago, but this only proves His kindness, mercy and long-suffering to me.

Oh for a 1000 tongues to sing,
our great Redeemer's praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphant of His grace.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Fruit is Sanctification

Romans 6: 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I have probably heard these verses hundreds of times and have never thought about the real meaning of vs.22.

We, who are saved, were once slaves to sin and that master's reward for our labor is death. So many people in the world, the gate is wide that leads to destruction, are laboring for their master, Satan, doing his bidding all for the reward of death. Oh that they would have eyes to see.

But those who have been saved and are living for Christ now have a new Master. We are slaves of Christ and the fruit of our new labor is sanctification. We will never be sanctified on our own, it is only the work of Christ in our lives that gives us a desire to even be sanctified. But isn't it sweet to know that the Master is producing fruit in our lives that leads to repentance and Christ-likeness? Our fruit here on earth will bring eternal fruit which is eternal life, not death.

It should be much easier for us to shun sin and run toward repentance when the return on investment is so much better and greater with our new Master. Oh to have no more sin nature to battle and to be in the presence of Christ. "No more distractions, no sin left to fight, the first glimpse of Jesus and faith becomes sight" Enfield. I can't wait!!

Life Speak

Our youth pastor was talking in our staff meeting last night and said "Remember that as you go through your day/life, that the one thing you always take with you is YOU".

I think this ties in very nicely with the Beatitudes. We can say many things to others. We can be white washed tombs as we parade around, but people will see who we are as we interact with them on a personal level. When we are displaying the fruit of the Spirit and the Beatitudes it will be hard for them to disagree with much of what we say. They may not like to hear the Gospel, but if we are gracious they will listen. God has to do the work anyway.

He also said something along the lines of, "You can be very dogmatic about your theology, but if you are not as serious about your godliness will they listen?"

My grandparents were missionaries to Japan for more then 50 years. My grandfather was a serious Calvinist and he loved to debate the subject. He knew his theology and it was difficult to gain any ground with him. Grandmother was married to him for more than 50 years and I am sure she was very grounded in her theology as well, but grandmother's debate was her life. There was no refuting that God was at work in her life because she was glowing with the change, even after being a Christian for more than 80 years. She oosed Christ. She was a strong Calvinist, but before that, she was Christ-like.

We often diminish our influence by trying to argue someone into our belief, rather than let Christ do His work in our lives and then just live it out. We must take opportunity to share, but does it always need to be in an argument? You can be a really smart Christian and have no influence on unbelievers and have no platform with believers. If that is the case then you are only smart and not wise. Jesus called us to be wise as serpents and gentle as doves.

In a world of cut throat people who are all looking out for themselves it is easy to say things like, "It's not personal, it's business". But more often than not we may do well to say, "It's not business, it's personal". In the end, who are we reflecting? Hopefully we are reflecting the Image of the One Who created us to a world that really needs to see Him lived out. They need to see what He can do with a life that is wholly devoted to Christ.

There are a couple of practical ways to do this. Maybe this will help.
Are we to be good stewards of what God has given us? Yes. Should we be trying to stretch God's money as far as possible? Yes. But if we are stingy, like being a small tipper, the wait staff will say, "Cheap Christians, they never tip right". Diminished influence.
Maybe you're shopping at a really good sale and there are a limited amount of articles of the really cheap clothes on the rack. Are you knocking people down to get to them? Will your Heavenly Father not provide for you, even in your meekness and gentleness?
When someone is visibly in a hurray and you let them go through the check out line in front of you, that loudly speaks.

It is easy for me to loose sight of this with all the distractions around me, but I must stay focused on the important things. If at the end of my life I have made a bunch of money, for myself and others, but have not shown the world who Jesus is by the way I have lived my life, have I been successful? Maybe to the world, but who am I really trying to please? The world or Christ. We can not serve both God and money. Choose today who you will serve.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Way to go Grant

Grant played in the league championship and got second today. Next week is state.

No Condemnation

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8, the entire chapter, is so rich. The Bible is obviously all good, but this seems to be a highlight chapter.

In thinking about this verse it is difficult to image moving from Romans 7, with all the sin, law, doing what I don't want to do and not what I do want to do, and then this verse.

God is a God of transformation. It is amazing to me that He would choose me, change me and not condemn me. How can a sinner like me have no condemnation? All my life I have been doing what I want to do, being selfish, wrong motives, bad attitudes, perusing all things but Him and yet I am not condemned? How can you explain that kind of love? Why would He devise a plan like this to win me back? Is it really a "win" on His part, to win me back? Seems more like a handicap.

Oh how sweet to be "IN" Christ Jesus. I often want to go back to the Law and try to "do" rather than "Be". This is so futile, because, in and of myself, I can't do anything good, but I can be what He wants me to be. What I really want to be is close to Him. I know that right now it is not my time to really be with Him, but I can be with Him every moment of every day here on earth as I meditate on what He has done and is doing in my life and in the lives of others around me.

I am finding that as I go through my day if I make a conscious effort to see His goodness in everything and praise Him for it along the way, then my heart is much closer to Him. Maybe this is why we are to give thanks in all things. It would be difficult to be thanking God in all things and not think about His goodness. We are to be a thankful people.

Lord, make Yourself the one aim in my life. Change my heart to be focused ever closer on You. Don't let me desire things of this earth even close to my desire for You. I want You to be my best and greatest love, but my heart is easily distracted by the good things You give to me. Don't let me love the gifts, only the Giver. This is so hard to do, yet it should be easy to remember. Keep me close to You. Let me love You more today than I did yesterday.

I want to be as a child; tender, innocent, trusting and willing to follow right next to You. Don't allow cynicism into my heart. Don't allow my heart to be calloused to others needs. Don't let me focus on the sin, but let me love the sinner. God You are so very kind. Let me be a reflection of You. This is not natural to me, but You can take the unnatural and supernaturally make it happen. Oh that You would do this work in me. Oh that You would do this work in Your Church. Purify Your Bride and give us Heavenly affections. Be glorified in us.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sanctifying Slap

Ps. 141:5 Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness;
let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head;
let my head not refuse it.

Is it better to be in the presence of wicked people who flatter, or righteous people who reprove?

The Psalmist picks the latter and this is health to his bones rather than a false praise today and who knows what will come tomorrow. I don't think it is our norm to want to be struck by a friend, but in the end it is much better than being left alone. You know who your true friends are when they tell you have stuff in your teeth:) If we are not approachable enough to our friends to have them tell us, we will walk around and everyone will want to say something, but won't.

This is all the more true with things that really matter. If our friends are telling us something in our lives that need addressing, then we should listen and be thankful they are friends enough to tell us. It is not easy to hear, but if it brings us to repentance and helps in our sanctification, then it is good.

We need to both accept the reproof and we also need to be willing to speak the truth in love. Gal. 6 talks about the brother caught in a transgression, but what about when we see a "Non sin" issue in another's life? In a spirit of meekness, knowing that we all have things we need to work on, we should go to them and point out what we might be seeing. I am not suggesting to be judgmental, but what is the best way to maximize our influence?

We must be a teachable, humble people as we walk through this short life on earth. Many will say hurtful things, but those who really care will say healthful things and we should invite it.

Friday, May 15, 2009

God is Good

It's been a crazy year or so for me. As I look back, on what seems like yesterday, to Grant's event and now anticipate him going to state in golf, I am truly amazed at God's goodness to me. He didn't have to bring all these events into my life, but because he did my heart is drawn to Him all the more. It's hard to explain to people how "bad events" can really be good; how trials, that seem so hard while we are in them, bring fruit into our lives that we would have never had without those trial.

As I consider what God is currently doing for Priceless Granite it is also truly amazing. We will finish this month very close to even, YTD, with our YTD figures from last year, same months. In 2009 that is almost unheard of, especially in the housing sector. BUT, God is big, and He can do whatever He desires with all of this stuff. The amount of businesses that are even with last year is such a small percentage it makes this all the more mind boggling. Trust me when I say that God hears our prayers and He answers; not always the way we want, but He is quite capable of going far above what we can ask or imagine. He has in this case. Thanks for praying.

Past the financial aspect God has also done much work in my own life this past year. At the beginning of 2008 I did not have the same attitude toward business and life for that matter as I do today. God has truly brought me low to see some of His purposes for my life. When we are humbled and forced to look at life the way we should, with an eternal perspective, there should be a drastic change in our hearts. Not that I think that I am Paul, by any stretch, but think about Paul's conversion and the change that God brought about in his life, literally in a flash. When God calls us to Himself our following should be evident to those around us.

I know, personally, in the earlier part of this year, as I was contemplating whether God would allow PG to go on throughout this year, I just finally had to give up trying to control things I could not control and say to Him, "If You want to take this all away, and I end up with just You, I'm ok with that". Until we are truly willing to give it all, whether or not He wants to take it is His choosing, we will not enjoy the fullness of joy that comes from letting go. He wants our hearts to be solely focused on Him and our affections to be Him. Until that time, we have other loves on the "throne" and He is waiting to take His rightful place.

This is not to say that this is easy, nor is it nature. It is also very easy for our sin to knock Him back off, if we don't kill our sin daily, but the joy that comes from the fight to keep Him there is worth it.

Pray that He would work in our lives to desire to have Him first in our hearts.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Messy Sin

I was just thinking this morning about how costly and messy sin was for the Israelites.

First off, sin was costly in time, as you had to take your sin offering to the temple and stand in line for the priest to make your offering. If you were are really "good" person you didn't sin while standing in line. Did people take an extra sin offering with them just in case they sinned in line?

Can you imagine raising all those animals knowing full well that many of them would be given as offerings, instead of their normal uses? I would have had to have a lot of animals.

When I was younger I was the clean up boy for a meat market. The thing that was really bad was when we ran out of hot water. Blood and fat on the floor and walls is difficult to get off when you have hot water, but all it does is get slippery when you run out. You can smear it all around, but without some serious chemicals it is not cleaning up. Think about the priests clothes. Did they have a new set of clothes everyday? You can't get that blood out w/o some sort of cleaning solution. You can't get the fat off w/o hot water. If you put hot water on first then you stain the garment with the blood. What a mess. And that is not even saying anything about the temple floor and stairs.

For us today, sin is costly in time and is still messy, just in a different way. Maybe if we thought of the true cost more frequently we would sin less. Maybe if we had to clean up the mess, like in the OT, we would sin less. Maybe if we worked our entire lives to raise animals to sacrifice we would understand the cost more. Maybe if we spent more time on our knees, begging for forgiveness we would not run into sin so quickly. Maybe if we understood the mercy and grace of Christ more clearly we would be more thankful for the cost to Him, on our behalf.

It is His kindness that leads to repentance, but He is also holy and can't look on sin. Oh to be more holy and not have to "use" so much grace and mercy. Oh how thankful I am that His mercies are new every morning and that they are endless. Help me Lord to live in light of the cost and in light of the joy that comes from following Your Word.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

On To State!

Grant qualified for state today in golf. The weather was windy, rainy and just generally bad and he still played well. Garrett missed the cut at the turn by one stroke, so maybe next year for him.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Small Group Encouragement

I know that some who regularly read this blog are involved in a small group, or two, but I also know that some are not really connected to either a church and if they are, there is no small group connection.

I have the privilege of being a small group "leader" with some of our high school guys. I know I am old, but I want to say that if you are not involved with a small group somewhere, you are missing out on a big part of your potential for spiritual growth. I put "leader" in quotes since much of the time they are leading the discussion, not me.

I believe that this can be backed up by Scripture, as Jesus focused on a few in order to reach the many, and in fact, He focused on a few of the few, to reach them even more deeply than the others. There is little record of Jesus' words to any of the disciples, save Peter, James and John. He obviously taught them all, but He focused on those 3 more than the rest. Out of all the "regular apostles" they are the ones who had the most influence on the Church.

What does that mean to you and me? If you want to grow spiritually, you have to be taught, you have to be in the Word yourself, but the accountability of a small group setting is hard to put a value on. I am supposed to be the leader and the encourager, but often I leave small group, remember my guys are in high school, encouraged and admonished. When we get to see Christianity lived out, through the struggles and the triumphs, that is where the growth begins.

Last night the guys we asking about 1 Tim. 1 where Paul is talking about getting into arguments over myths and genealogies. The point was made about how it is the heart that should be our focus in all of our conversations. "How does this strengthen our faith?" "What is the goal of this conversation?" should be thought of, or even asked, before the conversation starts.

I think about the age of my guys and their love for the Word and fellowship and I am so encouraged by the work the Lord is doing in some of the lives of our young people. They are the future of Christ's Bride. They don't want to be "spiritual slackers" They also have to be encouraged that it is an awesome calling to be spiritual leaders. That wasn't me when I was that age, so now as I look at their spiritual fervor I am excited to see what God will do in and through them as they let Him lead and direct their lives.

Pray for our young people. Get in a small group setting so you can be challenged personally. Stay in the Word, even if it is not easy to start with; stay in it. Pray that Christ would return soon, so we can celebrate perfectly with Him in Heaven.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Praising God for His Goodness To Me

I called my mom yesterday to wish her a happy Mother's Day. Mom prays for me and our business every day. She is pretty sick, with some sort of virus right now, so she has to stay home most of the time. This gives her even more time to pray.

Of course she wanted to know how all the kids were doing and how Teresa and I were. After all those questions were answered I told her the good report of how much God has been blessing us at PG. She was not surprised at all, in fact she said, "Oh, I knew God would do that!" She truly prays and believes that God is going to do more than we could ask of imagine, and He really has.

Thanks to you all for praying for us. I know that many are praying for us and I also know that w/o God working we would not be here today, let alone be doing this well. He has blessed us exceedingly abundantly; over the top.

Even though I really do know for sure that all this success is God's doing, I find it much easier to focus on Him when things are less promising on an earthly level. I guess that is why James said, "1:2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

Previous to this last year I always thought that trials we bad, but I am finally beginning to see that not only are that NOT bad, but they really are best. They are hard, they mess up our schedules, they cause pain and discomfort, they are irritants, but they are for my good and when I am looking to Christ in these times this is when I have grown the most.

So as much as I am blown away by God's goodness to me on so many levels, I would ask that you would pray that I would enjoy the Giver more than the gifts and that I would stay focused on Christ in all that I do. The Giver is truly amazing!

Lord, may I truly love You more than all that You have lavished on me. May I enjoy Your goodness, living in Your shadow, dwelling close to You. May You be my refreshment, my comfort all day long. May I look to You for wisdom and discernment. May I find rest in Your care and may I be quick to give You the glory that You deserve in ALL things. You have blessed me more than I deserve and You are worthy of all of my praise; may that praise be always on my lips.

May my life be a light for all to see Your radiance shining out of. You have to do this work in me, but You have said that You will finish what You have started. Oh finish me for Your glory, as there is nothing good in me that You did not put there. Many will see that You have worked if I am finished, because they would see what You started with and can see the transformation that only You can bring. Be glorified in the change that You bring about and delight in bringing about that change. Not for my glory, but so all may see and tell of Your wondrous works.

Do Good to One Another

Gal. 5:1 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. 5 For each will have to bear his own load.

6 One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches. 7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

I wrote to a friend of mine a few weeks ago. I tried very hard to both encourage and, in love, suggest some things that I saw in their life that didn't necessarily line up with Scripture. I prayed about what I included both before and after I wrote it, hoping that this would line up with God's Word and that it would be received as I had intended it. I was hoping for restoration.

We are supposed to encourage, even irritate, others to love and good deeds. This is not always easy, nor is it always received well. If there is going to be a high probability of rejection should we just not say anything? If we love the other person then we should say something. Often the response we receive is evidence of the heart. For example; if I said to someone that I was concerned for their salvation; that I didn't really see the fruit of Christianity in their life, I could get a couple of responses. The one I would hope for would be a gentle and gracious, "Thanks for your concern. God really does have a long way to go with me, but I do see some change in my life" sort of answer. If the answer comes back defensive, then you may already have your answer.

I am not suggesting for one second that I am like God, but it is interesting that God gave man a "Letter" filled with His own words. He wrote this encourage and admonish us, but more often than not we don't listen; we get defensive and are too proud to understand that it is talking to us and that we, but God's grace and power, need to change. Over the centuries Gad has been speaking to man and we have not listened. We often are hard-hearted to the Truth and just go on our own way, thinking we know better. If our Creator gives us an instruction manual on how to live our lives, we should be paying close attention to what it says, and close attention to our own hearts to see if we are of the faith and if we are obeying what He has said.

God wrote to us even though He knew that the majority would reject Him. He sent the prophets even though He knew that they would be mistreated and ignored. He sent His only Son even though He knew we would do the same to Him as we had done before. God takes the initiative even when He knows we are going to reject what He says.

We are always to do what is right, looking into our own lives first to see if there is sin, and then we are to go to others, regardless of what their response might be, because it is the right thing to do. How will they hear w/o a preacher and how will they be sharpened w/o another piece of iron rubbing against them? Though it may be hard, we must do it anyway.

Unfortunately, my friend did not "own" any of what I had suggested. Return comments pointed to others or were defended. There was not really any humility or receptivity. Would I write it again? Yes; it is right and it is what God calls us to do. I will keep praying that God will work and that lives will be changed, including my own, into the likeness of His Son.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

How's your bank doing?

This is not a normal post for me, but I thought you might like to see the business side of me. I, in no way, consider myself business smart, so I have to rely on other smart people to keep me going the right direction. Bankers are often a large part of helping a small business owner stay on track. Bankers are people too and they don't see what is right around the corner. It is good that God is on our side.

Banks are always changing their programs to the public and are often telling us that we are not the type of clients they want to have. There are times this is warranted, but there are many times when it is not. You may have a perfectly good credit score and for some reason they don't seem to be interested in your business.

Well here is a site that can help you to understand where your particular bank is coming from. Maybe they are not doing as well as you are. If you are choosing between 2 or 3 banks you can check into their financial statements and see what the banking industry thinks about their business practices.

Obviously, there are not many banks that have fared extremely well in this past year, so it may take you a while to find one that is getting stellar ratings right now, but it is very insightful. Pray for wisdom and happy hunting.


Ps. 89:28 My steadfast love I will keep for him forever,
and my covenant will stand firm for him.
29 I will establish his offspring forever
and his throne as the days of the heavens.
30 If his children forsake my law
and do not walk according to my rules,
31 if they violate my statutes
and do not keep my commandments,
32 then I will punish their transgression with the rod
and their iniquity with stripes,
33 but I will not remove from him my steadfast love
or be false to my faithfulness.
34 I will not violate my covenant
or alter the word that went forth from my lips.
35 Once for all I have sworn by my holiness;
I will not lie to David.
36 His offspring shall endure forever,
his throne as long as the sun before me.
37 Like the moon it shall be established forever,
a faithful witness in the skies."

What a great promise to the house of David and what an amazing testament to the faithfulness of God.

God gives David a promise and tells him that even if, and of course God knows that this is not "if" but "when" and "how often" His children forsake their part of the covenant, that this will not nullify His part. He will uphold His covenant even when they run the other way. What unfailing love, for a stubborn people. It is really amazing to think, in some small way, that God is as patient with us as He is. To be perfectly holy and yet still never give up on His elect. When all others break their promises, He still remains faithful.

What should this tell us about how we are to live with His children? Even when others don't do what we think they should be doing, we should be faithful to admonish them, but we also should be faithfully loving them and trying to direct them back to God's way. If God, being perfectly holy, can never break His promise and is faithful to sinners, then how much more should we be long-suffering with others, since we are in the same position as they are?

A good reminder of His great love and faithfulness and of our fickle love toward others and our unfaithfulness to Him.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Righteousness over Relief

Matt. 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

This verse has many things it address, not the least of which is seeking the righteousness of God. I was listening to a sermon and the speaker was talking about seeking righteousness over relief.

I often seek relief over righteousness in trials. If I am praying, "God take this trial away from me" rather than "Lord, let me be righteous in this trial", I am going the wrong way. It is easy to ask to have the trial removed, but what if that is where God wants me right now? What if the best place for me is in the trial and I am asking to get out of it?

Oh that I would seek first, and really only, His righteousness and let Him decide when it is time to get out. Easy to say when the trial is not all around me, hard to live when it is.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Blown Away

I want to say that I am truly humbled by how amazing God's provision has been to PG thus far in 2009.
We just had a great month in April and May is really looking very good thus far. The schedule is filling up very nicely for May, in fact we could be totally booked pretty soon, which is amazing.
I hear all kinds of bad news from all kinds of industries and it is only by God's grace and provision that we are doing so well.
Your prayers are working and God is listening and is providing more than we can ask of imagine. Please keep it up and pray that He would continue to find us faithful and righteous as we work in His business. He is Good.

Are you like a cat?

I was thinking last night that I should be more like our cat "Steve". I know that's a strange name for a cat, but I didn't name him. It fits though. He looks like Garfield, and sort of acts like him too. He is big, lazy and just kind of lays around.

Why should I act more like Steve? He is never worried about anything. When I come home he meows at me, because he is hungry. He knows I will feed him, though there is no way he can really be hungry. He only gets stressed out about loud noises and lots of people in the house. Everything else, he could really care less about. He knows he has a place to sleep and that there will be food for his next meal and that's all that matters to him.

I am not nearly as reliable as my Heavenly Father and yet Steve looks at me like there is no way I could ever forget. There are so many things that could cause me to forget and nothing that can cause God to forget. I must have stronger faith. More of that on the next post.

Eternal Employment

Ps. 65:1 Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion,
and to you shall vows be performed.
2 O you who hear prayer,
to you shall all flesh come.
3 When iniquities prevail against me,
you atone for our transgressions.
4 Blessed is the one you choose and bring near,
to dwell in your courts!
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house,
the holiness of your temple!

Over and over again, in the Psalms, we are encouraged to praise the Lord. He is worthy of our praise in light of all of His wondrous deeds to His people. The Psalmist also tells us often that God is not interested in our sacrifice nearly as much as He is interested in our praise. Sacrifice seems "better" but that is not what God thinks. Maybe that is because if we sacrifice we can point to ourselves and when we are praising God we can only point to Him.

How gracious it is of God to atone for our transgressions, since we could not begin to atone for them ourselves, and since He also knows that our iniquities are going to prevail against us. We desire to be holy and righteous, but our sin nature is strong and our flesh is stubborn; it is hard to kill that old man. But Christ has paid the price for our sins and has given us a new man. We must not grieve the Holy Spirit so our sin nature can be overthrown.

Think about God bringing any man near to Himself. How is it that this is good for God? His delight is in our praise, even though we can only praise Him when He gives us that desire. We have nothing good to bring to Him, nothing that He didn't initially give, yet He desires to bring us near to Him. Should we not be practicing our eternal employment while we are still here on earth?

He delights in bringing us near, to dwell in His courts. How great a day that will be. Think about the goodness of His house, compared to what we consider to be good here. His idea of good is infinitely higher that ours. We will delight for all of eternity in His goodness. We have the opportunity and privilege to practice praising Him here on earth; we must take full advantage of it. The Lord loves a cheerful, thankful people.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Which is better? Living on Earth or in Heaven?

Phil. 1:18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.

Much of this post is my condensed versions of "Dying Thoughts"- "what is desirable in this present life" by Richard Baxter. I was very encouraged and I hope you are as well and I also hope that I am clear in my interpretation and re-delivery.

Paul lays out in this passage something I think about often. We are to number our days and we are to think about the prize of Heaven. He is weighing 1 against the other and considers that the prize is the best, but he also is torn between the 2. Not that he thinks earth itself may be better than Heaven, but that the 2 options are both good; but good for different reasons. Heaven is better because it is the end to which we are striving; eternal joy and perfection with Christ. To live on earth is to live on to do the work has called us to do; to think about Christ's interest, rather than his own. This is the ultimate in delayed gratification. The end is worth the wait. Everything has its season and harvest doesn't come unless planting is done first. Planting, in and of itself, is not necessarily joyous work, but with the harvest in mind it is joyous. Why would we plant if we knew we would never sow? We wait with great anticipation for the harvest, but we know we must first sow.

Heaven is won or lost on earth. The possession is there, but the preparation is there. "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith", comes before "there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing". Christ's will is for us to do the work that He has planned for us to do. We don't get the reward until we finish. The reward will be amazing, but we must labor and fight and run before we can attain the prize.

We are to work out our own salvation, but we are also to be making disciples along the way. While we are here we are to be concerned for our own souls and also for the souls of others. How will they here without a preacher and how will they hear if the preachers are all in Heaven? We must be about our Father's business while He leaves us here.

I believe that most people think less about Heaven than they ought, because Heaven is our home and we are strangers here. But even though Heaven will be amazing when we arrive, we must still travel through this life to get there. When, on a long trip headed home, home is a delightful thought, but there is still the journey to get there and if we are not thinking about the journey we can be tripped up, no pun intended. Today you can get lost in the airport, stuck in security, rerouted, delayed, flight canceled and so many other things, but it is the journey and the end is what we are looking toward, but the delight is supposed to also be in the journey.

We must be thankful for the measure of health we have while in our earthly tents. If we are very healthy we are able to serve w/o bodily hindrances, but may also be more susceptible to wandering because we can quickly lose sight of our dependence on God. If, while we are in our tents, we are not given great health we are also to be thankful, as this does remind us of how dependent we are on God. It also should make us more thankful when, and if, we do regain our health. When we see death right around the corner, we are not easily distracted by the things of this earth.

The Prize will come when the time is right and eternity is long enough to enjoy it. So for now we must be doing the work that God has ordained for us to do from eternity past, and when He is ready to take us home, then we will have joy in that day that we could never imagine, here on earth. Until then, we must try to bring as many souls into Heaven with us; that is our Father's business that we are to be about. Jesus was not here on earth because it was such a great place to vacation, but because He had work to do here. He had tilling and planting and watering and weeding to do before the harvest. He came to suffer and die and be our sacrifice and now He waits for His Bride.

If, while I am here on earth,
"my God shall supply all my needs according to His riches" and,
if He knows the number of hairs on my head and,
if He knows the number of my days and,
if He He is the Rewarder of those who seek Him and,
if He has ordained all my work for me to do,
Then I am in a great place to "win" whether I am here on earth or with Him in Heaven. Either way I am where He would have me and I should be doing exactly what He wants me to do right where I am. I need to fill my days with His work, with joy, and let Him decide when my work here is finished.

This is really a freeing thought. He will give us every measure of health we are to have to carry out the work He has for us to do. If we have less health, then He knows we will not be able to do all the things we would have been able to do if we were completely healthy; He knows. He supplies all we need to do the tasks He has planned for us to do. He keeps our calendar perfectly, so if we are "delayed" He must have some divine appointment for us to meet. He provides all things for us, so if we are being good stewards of what He has provided we will have everything we need to complete the work He has for us. When He decides it is time for us to go Home, then He will perfectly provide the way. There is no fear in death when the Prize is Heaven. There is no dread in life when the work is the Father's. For me to live is Christ, and His will, and to die is gain.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Shall the Dust Praise Him?

Ps. 30:8 To you, O LORD, I cry,
and to the Lord I plead for mercy:
9 "What profit is there in my death,
if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it tell of your faithfulness?
10 Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me!
O LORD, be my helper!"

There is no better place to be than crying out to the Lord for mercy. There is no other source for comfort than in the Lord, so why would I go searching?

I like how David talks about "the dust praising". When I read this I immediately thought, "if there is no profit in his death, because the dust will not praise Him, then when we are alive we must be praising Him". What is our joy and delight if it is not praising our Creator with the few days we have here on earth? Who will we be praising if not Him? Ourselves? May it never be.

Our boasting should only be in the Lord, for He is the One Who has graciously given all things. If He has given, then how can we boast in being a lowly beggar receiving? Where is the honor in being a receiver, except that the Giver chose to give?

We must be ever praising our Great God. Don't hold back.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Peter Pan

I don't normally post on things like this, but Grace Academy is doing a production of Peter Pan and many have been invited. We found out last night that Sat. night may be getting close to sold out and last night there were more people there than any of the showings last year. So if you want to go, get in to the school office asap, so you can attend.

The kids do a great job and Phyllis-director- is amazing. Grant and Garrett are Mr. Darling and Hook respectively. I hope you are able to come. See you there.

April in the books

We are 1/3 of the way through 2009 and PG is still in business. Much craziness has happened thus far, and I don't think that we are finished, but God is good to us in so many ways and He has allowed us to keep working, He is Provider to many families through PG, He is giving us ministry opportunities that we probably would not have had if it were not for PG and without PG I would not have learned nearly as much about God as I have this past year.

Many of you have prayed and are still praying for us and that is more encouraging that you may know, though it doesn't really matter if I am encouraged as long as God is pleased.

We have been working hard to be good stewards of what God has given us, working on every lead as intently as we are able, making the best use of the materials and staff that God has given us and He is blessing our efforts. It is only by His grace and provision that we go on and to date get even stronger and I want to be the first to acknowledge His care for us. What an amazing God we serve.

We are looking at some other opportunities, currently, that go hand in hand with what we are doing. These would not take our eyes off of what we do now, just allow more diversity. I am not 100% sure that this is what God wants for us, so please pray that I would have wisdom to see all the ramifications and more importantly that God would open and close the doors, so we don't walk where we are not supposed to go.

I was recounting yesterday that God closed some doors in 2008 that had we have been allowed to go through them, we would have probably been done this last winter, but He didn't allow it. It's interesting that we can push really hard for something, and even be upset at times we didn't get our way. But He knows and He cares, yet often we don't acknowledge the fact that He just spared us a tremendous heartache by not allowing us to go there. Kind of like when we "mean parents" tell our kids not to eat the entire bucket of Halloween candy on Halloween night. We spare them a lot of pain, but they may not realize it for many years later. Thanks mom:)

Please continue to pray for us that God would give us wisdom to know what to work on, that He would continue to provide and we would continue to be thankful, that we would have ministry opportunities as well as work, that we would trust Him and just follow His leading and, most importantly, that we would be faithful to Him and His Word.

You are kind to include us in your prayers and I would be honored to pray for you. Just leave me a request on the comment side.

Ps. 46:1 God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

Spiritual Incline

I hear that my post times are sort of ridiculous, and often that is true, but God allows me to get by on a little less sleep sometimes and so I am just lying in bed thinking about things, so it's time to share.

This morning I was thinking about the fact that I have heard our current time/situation termed as "The economy", "Economic down turn", "Collapse of the economy" and probably many more if I had to think about it. But I was thinking that maybe I should start using the term "Spiritual Incline", or "The collapse of Idolatry". I would be referring to how I am viewing life, not how others may be viewing it.

For sure I know that there are people, friends of mine, who are in some really tough times, as you may have seen by the comment on yesterday's post, but God is at work in every situation either drawing us closer to Himself or allowing us to walk away. Maybe, for many, this time is a sort of spiritual fork-in-the-road, as it sure has been for me.

I was talking to a friend last night and we were talking about her friend whose daughter is still struggling with cancer and just some of the things that go with that. Apparently "dad" is still looking for answers, but God doesn't promise us answers and if we knew all that was coming, every day, and in every circumstance, we would be overwhelmed and trying to change it all around before it gets here. I am not big enough, nor smart enough, to handle that kind of pressure. So God gives me what I need for today and keeps the rest to Himself until I am ready for what He has next.

Can you imagine if we had known about Grant's event even the day before it was going to happen? There would have been no way to change it, so we would have been worried, we would have planned, the fire department wouldn't come here any sooner and it would have done no good for any of the situation to be changed in even the smallest way, as HE had everything covered. I don't really want to know what is coming, but I do want to know that I am spiritually in the "best shape" I can be in, so when He does take us through trials I will be more ready.

We need to pray for each other, build each other up with the Word and in prayer, encourage each other and pray that God would work mightily in each of our lives and that we wouldn't withdraw from Him in these times, but draw close to Him, as He is our only Refuge. I don't use "only" in a less than adequate sort of way, but rather that there is no better place to be kind of way.