Friday, July 31, 2009
One of the guys asked "Why doesn't everyone in the world want to follow Christ?" Men love darkenss rather than light, but I think often they don't see light in us. Why would they want to follow some people who always seem to be miserable? Why follow those who are trying to lose their lives, when they can't imagine what would be so good? That is the problem; we don't live like Christ is that good.
If Christ is our Treasure why are we not so excited that we tell everyone we meet? Why do we end up being all bummed out when we don't get our every want? If He knows what is best, shouldn't we be rejoicing in every single thing that God allows because we know it is for our good? Hard to do, but when it does happen people begin to see that there really is something different, in a good way, about you.
How can we have joy in trials except that we are sure in the outcome; our good and His glory! The world will not be attracted to a bunch of sour people who get together on Sunday and are sour together. We must glow as the bride who waits for her bridegroom. He is coming. I am so excited.
Thier kids are all out of the house and her husband works and she has been working 5 days a week for an online quilting company. If you order from here, write her a note that you know me. She is an awesome sister. She really thounght that God wanted her to be more available at home, so she prayed about reducing her schedule to 4 days. With 4 days comes less hours and she didn't know if she could really afford the reduction in pay, but God always provides and so she went in to talk to her boss.
SHe stareted by telling him that she wanted to talk about her hours and he was really excited to hear that. But for a completely different reason than she was working toward. He wanted to make her the manager. She replied, "You don't understand, I want to only work 4 days a week, not 5". Knowing this might mean something very different, she trusted that God knows what He is doing and just stuck to her plan.
God honors our submission and obedience in some of the craziest ways. He told her that that was fine, 4 days, and that they wanted to give her a $2 ph raise. SHe would work 4 10's and have the extra day off and have a raise as well.
How do you really figure out God? His ways are unsearchable and I am begining to think that He really just likes to surprise us with these kinds of things. I am a pretty big thinker, imaginer, and He certainly does more than I can ask or imagine.
Just thought you might need a real live look at how He is working in our lives for our good when we acknowledge our depenence on Him and let Him lead and provide.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
What a great section. This section is talking about a few things, not limited to how we live, who we follow, being free from sin, our adoption into Christ's family, security of the saints and proof of life. There is both encouragement and admonition in these few verses. Freedom, no longer slaves, to walk according to the Spirit and to no longer be slaves, giving us life here and now and also for eternity.
But it is interesting that to the Spirit gives us our family security but there is one large caveat; we must suffer with Him. In America today we think we suffering for Christ when people give us a strange look when we are dressed up on Sunday. I guess that is a form of suffering, but not when compared to Christ's sufferings. Is suffering really good for us? Why do we only have one thing that is listed here?
Suffering can take on many forms. I often think of suffering as a missionary family suffering as they go to a third world country and leave the comforts of home to minister to people who have so little. In the process they loose a child or parent from sickness or violence while doing what God has called them to do. For sure that is suffering for Christ's sake and there will be rewards in Heaven for suffering this kind of lost on earth. But what about the rest of us who are not missionaries; can we be joint heirs with Christ in His suffering?
The pastor who comes home to graffiti on his house is suffering for the sake of Christ. The SS worker who has parents who are ungrateful and complaining about the care their child is given, when the worker is doing all they can, is suffering. The elder who gets sick while visiting someone in the hospital, is suffering.
Some notes from J. Piper on suffering; "Finally, suffering from persecution and sickness are often indistinguishable. Suppose that the apostle Paul got pneumonia from all this work and exposure. Would that pneumonia have been “persecution”? Paul did not make a distinction between being beaten by rods or having a boating accident or being cold while traveling between towns. For him any suffering that befell him while serving Christ was part of the “cost” of discipleship. When a missionary’s child gets diarrhea, we think of this as part of the price of faithfulness. But if any parent is walking in the path of obedience to God’s calling, it is the same price. What turns sufferings into sufferings “with” and “for” Christ is not how intentional our enemies are, but how faithful we are. If we are Christ’s, then what befalls us is for his glory and for our good whether it is caused by enzymes or by enemies."
We should not try to minimize our sufferings or others sufferings, but we should be ready to suffer and realize that if we are His children we WILL suffer. In fact, if we are not suffering we should examine our lives to see if we are of the faith.
Suffering has so many benefits, not the least of which is proof of life in the Son as we follow His lead in suffering for the Kingdom. Those who do not suffering with Him will not be glorified with Him.
Monday, July 27, 2009
I am not God and I am not going to try to understand His ways. His thoughts are above my thoughts and His ways are beyond my understanding. BUT, He does have a plan in all that He allows and that plan is to bring Himself glory in every situation. It is hard to imagine glory in suffering, but in the end He gets glory in it.
What might that glory look like? How might He get glory in an entire nation, or continent, suffering under the tyranny of drought and famine? Maybe that glory comes from the changing of other nations hearts for those people. Maybe it is from Him changing my own heart to see the desperate needs of others and seeing my own abundance and understanding the responsibility that I have to those in need. I think that is a small start.
Even beyond abject physical poverty there is the spiritual poverty and darkness that cloaks much of the world; this is even more of a "famine" than the drought and famine that we see in the news. We can't see this type of poverty with our eyes but we can "see" it through His eyes as we look into the eyes of those who don't have physical hope but they have no hope in the future either. There is no hope for their next meal and there is no hope in dying either.
What despair must fill the hearts and minds of those nations who god is not the Lord. If famine comes to me I have the hope that when I am finished with the race I have a more glorious life remaining than the best life here on earth. So many have no hope for today or tomorrow. How will they hear without a preacher? How will they know God like if there are none near them who are living in Chistlikeness? How will they see if the only thing they know is darkness; if the light is never shining in their lives?
Who will go? Who will send others? Who will be spent, poured out, as an offering to a lost and dying world? What if that lost and dying world is right next door to you? What if the lost and dying world is in the cubicle next to you? Am I the light that others may see His good works and glorify my Father who is in Heaven? Can they see a difference? Do they hear the Truth in love? Is my life an example of what Christ can do?
Past our own back yard and work place; what about the rest of the world? Hollywood is trying to change the world in strange ways. Song writers are trying to influence the world. Book sellers, newspaper editors, TV executives are all trying to change the world, but not for the better. Shouldn't we, who have been entrusted with the Truth, be ever mindful of where this world is going and understand that it is going to hell on a fast track? Are we trying to get people off that track?
God is the changer of hearts and He is sovereign over all things, but we must be willing tools, vessels, drink offerings to be used by the Master in whatever way He sees fit. Are you a sharp tool, clean vessel or pure offering that He desires to use? Do we bring Him glory in what we say and do?
Oh that His will would be done in our lives and in the lives of those around us. Oh that we would find joy and delight in being poured out for Him. Could we be the instrument that He uses to change a life, neighborhood, school, church, city or nation? Could we be the encourager that lifts others up to where God would have them to serve? Only if we are following His Word and praying that He would use us to glorify Himself. Only if we are seeking His Kingdom and His righteousness, then and only then will He add these things to us. Only as we are blameless in our walk, trusting solely on Him for His leading, direction and provision will He strongly support us.
We bring our need and our dependence before You Father and we ask that You would bring glory to Yourself in somehow using us to further Your Kingdom. We know that this is consistent with Your will, as You desire that all come to repentance and You desire that we would all understand our total dependence on You. Give us open hands and hearts and then use us as You will. We come in Christ's righteousness, and He is our Advocate- our only way to You, as we can't ask on of our own and we ask that You would honor our request because it brings You joy and glory. You are the Good Father who delights to do good to Your children; please do as You will.
Friday, July 24, 2009
"Almost 500 years ago, John Calvin commented on Zechariah 13:9, and what he said then is more true today:
We do have so much prosperity that it makes it distracting to be in prayer, because we really don't need much. We end up loving the gifts more than the Giver.
It is therefore necessary that we should be subject, from first to last, to the scourges of God, in order that we may from the heart call on him; for our hearts are enfeebled by prosperity, so that we cannot make the effort to pray. (Commentary on Zechariah 13:9 [Baker, 2003], 403, emphasis added)" J.Piper.
Where will we finish our lives? What does the road ahead look like? So much uncertainty and yet so freeing knowing that God is completely in control and I just have to rest in His care He gives what is best and all I have to do is wait on Him and follow where He leads.
I need so much to be falling on my face and knees to ask for His will and direction. I need to give all I am and have and leave it at the cross. I want Him to purify me that I might be a clean vessel for His glory. The great thing is that is exactly what He wants for ma as wel.l
I want to finish stronger than I have started and bring Him glory for He is worthy and He delights in our glorifying Him.
We need to be prayer warriors for His glory and when we are asking according to His will and in Jesus' name He delights to bring us joy in giving what we ask So ask.
Here is the link to the entire sermon. I am confident you need to hear this as much as I do and also that you will be encouraged and admonished by God's Word through J. Piper.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
I have had such a blessed life, for the first 45 years. God has allowed success in much that I have done. He has given me delight in the things my hands have found to do. He has given me joy in the toil, which is all from His good hand.
My thoughts on spending are not focused on money as much as life and time. For my first 45 years I have spent most of those minutes bringing myself pleasure and giving myself comfort and I have been convicted. I am not deserving of any luxury or any leisure and yet I have taken God's blessing along the way and used it on myself. I want that to end and I want the rest of the years, however few or many they may be, to be spent for Him and His purposes. I want the rest to be spent on Him.
This thinking and desire doesn't come from me and from my heart, it comes from Him placing these desires in my heart as He transforms me into a new creature. Left on my own I would be desiring more things to satisfy my own desires, but He is changing and growing me and is giving me His desires. I am delighted that He is changing me into the image of His Son. It is unexplainable yet evident.
When we think of "spent" I think that more often than not we are thinking about money or time that is now gone. "We spent the day doing this", or "I spent my retirement on this." I am thinking of that but also of all that I am being spent for Him. Like Paul saying he was being poured out as a drink offering. I want to be being poured out for God's purposes. I don't know what those are right now, and frankly I don't care, I just want to be where He wants we to be, doing what He wants me to do.
45 years is a long time, by many accounts, to be doing what I want to be doing, but it has gone fast and it has been easy to quickly waste 45 years selfishly. I could stay in this same place and rationalize how I have been and change a little, but I am a new creature and God has planned all my days out and I want Him to spend me as He delights and to be spent for His glory.
It is glorious and freeing to know that He directs our paths and He has planned each of our steps from eternity past. The lot is cast but its outcome belongs to the Lord. I want to be blameless before Him that He would delight in strongly supporting me, 2 Chron. 16:9. I can't be blameless on my own and have no desire, on my own, to follow His leading, but He loves to change lives that He might be glorified.
Father, delight Yourself in us. Give us the desire to follow closely after You. May we bring glory to You in everything we do and say. You have promised many things to those who are righteous and follow you blamelessly, make us those righteous ones. Strongly support us as we delight ourselves in You. Spend us in the way that brings You the most glory. I ask this because I believe them to be what will bring You the most glory and because Your Son has paid the price that He might bring a changed people to You as an offering that is sweet to You. Do these things for us that You and our Son would be made much of through them.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
We went from the seminar to my parents home, just about an hour north of Spokane. My sister had arranged a mini family reunion, since we don't get over too often and it was fun to see many of the younger kids and grand kids.
We went to church with my parents on Sunday and just rested, getting ready for Monday. My sister and her husband had been painting the house on Saturday and so our goal was to finish on Monday. We got up and started and the weather was not too warm, maybe low 90's in the heat of the day. We got the entire outside, save the decks-which they are doing this morning- and got most of the inside completed as well. Many hands make light work.
On Tuesday we decided, since the house was basically painted, that we would go up and get a load of firewood for them. We took a trailer and dad and my sister and her husband got up there first; I think they were there about a half hour before we arrived. We cut the downed trees into lengths of about 4-6' and loaded them in the trailer. Dad has a pretty nice sized trailer and we were able to get it loaded in a hour, which was much faster than I think he was expecting. We brought the trailer back to his house and off loaded it into a nice pile. We then cut about half of it up into lengths for the fireplace.
All this to say that it was nice to be able to help my folks work on their projects. Dad is 75 and he would love to be able to do all this w/o help, but 75 is not 25 or 45. We are to care for our parents and it was really a blessing to do that.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
I have been listening to J.Piper on this verse and it is totally convicting and encouraging at the same time.
Convicting; how can we defend ourselves against the devil if we are trying to do his without Scripture? We can't. He is a million times smarter and stronger than we are and the only thing he has no defense against is the Word. We must hide God's Word in our hearts so that we might not sin against God. The Word is our encouragement and also our encouragement to others when they come to us for counsel. We can't give logic as our answer. We must memorize Scripture so when we are in trouble or burdened we can bring it back w/o having to go to the Bible if it is not available.
Encouragement; His Word is true and is always right. There is never a time that His Word is not applicable and relevant. He always keeps His promises. He promises to bless those who fear Him. We cannot say that we fear Him if we don't keep His Word within our hearts.
Let me encourage you to, along with our small group, select a passage of Scripture and memorize it. Have some accountability and then just go and do it. It won't be easy, but it will be worth it. We have selected Romans 8, the entire chapter, and are going to try to memorize it in 2 months. There are numerous excellent passages that are not too long and can be of great encouragement to you along the way if you hide them in your heart.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Isn't it just the American way to think that we are independent? Not just that we are independent of England, or that we are independent of needing help from other nations, but most Americans probably think that they are truly independent of everything, including and especially God.
This kind of thinking will come to an end sooner or later. Sooner would be when God takes control of the heart and causes the spiritual blinders to come off. Later will be when He has allowed a life of self serving, hedonism, but then calls the account to be paid.
I can now say that the first option is not only much better from an eternal perspective, but it is much better from an earthly perspective as well. When we understand our true dependence on Christ minute by minute each day, there is so much more joy here on earth than there ia following after earthly dreams. When Christ, and His purpose, is our aim everything else seems so small.
Is making money, having a position, wife kids, stuff your goal in life? There is so much more life in Christ than the pursuit of those things; so much more joy in following and gaining Christ than in filling up barns. Oh that we would delight in our utter dependence on Christ. Oh to seek serving Christ over all other positions. How much better to be a servant to the King of Kings than to be in charge of some little tiny earthly domain! Lord give me the proper perspective and aim that I would delight in all that You are. Let me love my dependence on You.
I want to see myself following Christ more today than yesterday. I want to be more passionate about souls today than last week. I want to love reading my Bible more now than I did last month. It seems that the daylight hours are longer and so I have to find more "things" to do to fill them up.
I hate being distracted with good things. I hate having stuff to do that takes my attention off of Christ. I was thinking this morning that I am in a much better spiritual place when I feel desperate, than when things are going generally good for me. I don't fell like I am discontent with my circumstances except maybe they are too good. I don't want to be like the Israelites who went from "we will only serve God" one minute to "they followed after other gods" the next. They followed closest when they were desperate.
I want to be desperately following Christ even when it is going good. Pride must be what takes this away from me. I must be inwardly thinking that it is all good right now and that, somehow very wrongly, I don't need to bother God right now with what I have going on, because I can handle it from here. Like I give Him control when it is really hard and then I can take over when it gets more normal. That is crazy.
I want to change the way I live. I want to live as if my life depended on God every minute of every day; because it does.
Lord draw me nearer to Yourself. Don't let me love other lesser thing because that kind of love fades so quickly. I am weak and am so prone to wander toward things that need to be done but in doing them let me focus on You. Don't let me find other things to do, except to follow You. Let me minister to those around me and dwell in the shelter of Your wings. Take pride away from me see that I am most useful as Your humble servant. There is none like You and there is nothing that compares to You. You are First and Last and the Best of everything. I can not love unless You cause me to love, so please make me love all that You love and hate what You hate. Be my Magnificent Obsession.
Monday, July 6, 2009
"Fields plowed and sown, yet yielding no fruit! Machinery constantly in motion, yet all without one particle of produce! Nets cast into the sea, and spread wide, yet no fishes inclosed! All this for years -- for a lifetime! How strange! Yet it is true. There is neither fancy nor exaggeration in the matter. Question some ministers, and what other account can they give? They can tell you of sermons preached, but of sermons blessed they can say nothing. They can speak of discourses that were admired and praised, but of discourses that have been made effectual by the Holy Spirit they can not speak. They can tell you how many have been baptized, how many communicants admitted; but of souls awakened, converted, ripening in grace, they can give no account. They can enumerate the sacraments they have dispensed; but as to whether any of them have been "times of refreshing" or times of awakening, they can not say. They can tell you what and how many cases of discipline have passed through their hands; but whether any of these have issued in godly sorrow for sin, whether the professed penitents who were absolved by them gave evidence of being "washed and sanctified and justified," they can give no information; they never thought of such an issue!They can tell what is the attendance at Sunday school, and what are the abilities of the teacher; but how many of these precious little ones whom they have vowed to feed are seeking the Lord they know not; or whether their teacher be a man of prayer and piety they can not say. They can tell you the population of their parish, the number of their congregation, or the temporal condition of their flocks; but as to their spiritual state, how many have been awakened from the sleep of death, how many are followers of God as dear children, they can not pretend to say. Perhaps they would deem it rashness and presumption, if not fanaticism, to inquire. And yet they have sworn, before men and angels, to watch for their souls as they that must give account! But oh, of what use are sermons, sacraments, schools, if souls are left to perish; if living religion be lost sight of; if the Holy Spirit be not sought; if men are left to grow up and die unpitied, unprayed for, unwarned" H. Bonar
Often we fall into "doing" ministry rather than being ministers. Lives lived in reflecting God's glory are only overpowered by the very Word of God; we must live as if lives depend on our sanctification, because they do. The closer we are to Christ the more we will correctly reflect all that He is.
I am also reminded, as I read this small book, that we need to be asking the hard questions. When was te last time you asked someone of their spiritual condition, when you had questions, concerning their soul? When did you last ask someone, "Are you sure you are saved" or "How is your soul condition"? They may very well be waiting for someone to ask and that someone might just be you. We must fight against fearing men.
Who wants to be a part of barren ministry? No one! How is your ministry? How are you doing living out the joys of salvation for all the world to see? Is your light shining before men? Have you left your first love? Are you in ministry yet your first love has always been yourself; not God? Many in the church today are doing ministry in the flesh and that is no way to have fruit in your ministry. May we be passionate followers of Christ, asking hard questions and loving the lost. God can give that to us, but we must ask.
Friday, July 3, 2009
your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
yet they are more than can be told.
I have been thinking about the distractions that keep me away from pondering the goodness of God and praising Him continually. Often they are not "bad" things, but they can not be good if they draw my heart away.
God is a jealous God who wants my worship every minute of every day. I am thankful that He knows that I am dust, prone to wander and weak. But, since He is jealous, He wants my continual praise; He deserves it and there is none who can compare with Him.
I desire to be an ardent worshiper of our good God Who has lavished so many good things on me. He loves me and that should be my greatest joy and treasure all the time; not some position or thing.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
I will post some picks and links when we get them.
It happened last night in our driveway, with many people looking on, photographers clicking, goosebumps and whispers, beaming smiles and happy tears.
God has truly knitted these 2 together, since the second grade, and we are excited to see what He has in store for them. The wedding will be sometime next summer as Ian has another year at The Master's College to finish.
Praise God for His blessing to us.