Monday, November 30, 2009

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving

Now Naomi had a relative on her husband's side, from the clan of
Elimelech, a man of standing, whose name was Boaz. And Ruth the
Moabitess said to Naomi, "Let me go to the fields and pick up the
leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor." Naomi said
to her, "Go ahead, my daughter." So she went out and began to glean
in the fields behind the harvesters. As it turned out, she found
herself working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of
Elimelech.
Ruth 2:1 - 3

There is so much to glean from Ruth chapter 2 (pun intended).

But just a quick thought for this Thanksgiving...

At the time Ruth may not have felt too blessed... but we all know she
was.

WHAT ARE YOU THANKFUL FOR?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Be a blessing

Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene.
2 Timothy 2:16 - 17
 
I do not read the newspaper.  I subscribe to several rss feeds that the major media outlets provide. (For an explanation of rss feeds click here.)  One of the things that is absolutely amazing is the amount of gossip that comes across the news channels.  One would think that the conservative media outlets would stick to their principles and report... the news. 
 
But alas... the temptation to indulge in godless chatter is too irresistible for some.  Here is something to consider every time we speak (or listen):
 
Is the conversation I am involved in going to edify and encourage?
 
If it is not... then maybe you should engage in a different conversation.  Why?  Reread 2 Timothy 2:16 - 17.  This sort of thing spreads like gangrene.
 
Be a blessing.
 
 

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Charge to Discharge

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
2 Timothy 4:1 - 5
 
So much has been written (and is being written) about this passage and it's application to our day.  One can hardly read the text above without thinking Paul had today in mind when he penned it.  But because so much has been devoted to verses 1 - 4, let's look at verse 5.
 
But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
 
While the world seeks to do its own thing, the believer (and especially the pastor-teachers) are to:
 
keep your head in all situations - The christian leader is to keep his or her eyes focused on Jesus.. the Author and Perfecter of our faith.
 
endure hardship - Jesus never promised an easy ride... only a worthy goal.
 
do the work of an evangelist - What the world needs n more people who are not afraid to share their relationship with Christ.
 
discharge all the duties of your ministry - Remember... these words are coming from a seasoned veteran... not a new recruit.
 
No matter what your ministry is: father... mother... student... boss... pastor... deacon... able servant....
 
The charge is the same... DISCHARGE ALL THE DUTIES OF YOUR MINISTRY.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Personal Touch

I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong —  that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith. I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles. I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome.
Romans 1:11-15
 
Sometimes we take the technology that makes our modern world move for granted.  In an age of blogging and social media, there is a tendency to loose that "human touch".  Consider the words Paul uses in the text above.
 
- He longs to see the Roman Christians.
 
- He planned to come to them.
 
- He is eager to preach the gospel to the Romans.
 
But alas... what do we find Paul doing?  Writing 15 more chapters of a letter.
 
Brethren, we should take every opportunity afforded to us to connect with people, but never loose that human touch.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

7 things

A scoundrel and villain,
who goes about with a corrupt mouth,
who winks with his eye,
signals with his feet
and motions with his fingers,
who plots evil with deceit in his heart—
he always stirs up dissension.
Therefore disaster will overtake him in an instant;
he will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.
 
There are six things the Lord hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
a false witness who pours out lies
and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.
Proverbs 6:12 - 19
 
Proverbs is a book full of opposition.  By that I mean, Solomon (and others) write in such a way that two opposing ways of life or ideas are pitted together to prove or enhance a point.  Consider this from Proverbs 13 =
 
A wise son heeds his father's instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke. (Verse 1)
 
But that is not what we began with is it?  What Proverbs 6:12 - 19 does is lays out the characteristics of evil people.
 
One perspective is from man.
 
The other, from the heart of the Lord.
 
There is no misunderstanding what the Lord is seeking to communicate:  There are 7 things that are detestable to Him.
 
No room for doubt... no discussion.
 
Praise the Lord for clearly telling us (and in this case showing us) what does not please Him.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Don't focus on the waves

"Today don't focus on the waves.  Focus on the One who can walk on them."
 
I saw this come across one of the feeds I subscribe to.  How often do we focus on our circumstances and not the One who allowed those circumstances in to our lives?  Next time you are faced with a difficult situation, a hard choice, or simply the unknown:
  • Ask the Lord for guidance.

---  and  ---

  • Trust His leading.
Worship is at its purest, when we are trusting Christ with all we have.
 
"But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."
John 4:23 - 24

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Main Thing

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store 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 longed for his appearing.
2 Timothy 4:6 - 8
 
My intention is not to mine this passage, but to simply bring the following to your attention:
 
1. Paul is tired, and ready to go be with the Lord.  But notice that he even sees his death as a sacrifice to the Lord.
 
2. Paul sees his service as exactly that... service. He has finished the race... effort... work. 
 
3. Despite all his heartache and persecution, Paul has kept the faith.
 
and the observation we all need to see!
 
4. There is a crown of righteousness for all those who have LONGED FOR JESUS' APPEARING!
 
Are you living with a view to the second coming of Christ?

Monday, November 16, 2009

To daddy with love

The other day my oldest daughter (Dannia) drew me a bunny.  She thought of her daddy and wanted to make me something that she takes pleasure in... bunnies.  What did I say?  "Thank you baby... this is wonderful!" and it is.  She took time out of her day to draw me something. 
 
I can't but help think of the Lord's commands to His church:
 
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31
 
and...
 
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Colossians 3:23 and 24
 
Being a father has really impacted my understanding of the Fatherhood of God.  With what we have seen above, are you seeking to please your Father with and in everything you do?
 
 

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Why do we even buy them toys?

videoMy kids having a great time amusing themselves (and us)!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Stirring the Pot

Hatred stirs up dissension,
but love covers over all wrongs.
Proverbs 10:12
 
It doesn't matter how you try to mask it. 
 
It doesn't matter how you try to hide it. 
 
You know the moment you walk in a home if the cookies have been burnt.  For the moment, forget my love for cookies.  There is something about the smell of burnt cookies that makes the face squirm.  That smell causes an almost instantaneous... and unfavorable reaction.
 
Like the smell of burnt cookies, hatred causes some rather unwholesome effects.  Among them are stirring up dissension.  One of the seven things the Lord hates in Proverbs 6:16 - 19 is "a man who stirs up dissension among brothers."
 
While one man in this proverb is seeking to destroy, another is seeking to encourage and restore for, "love covers over all wrongs."
 
When faced with the choice, always choose restoration over destruction.  That is what God the Father chose in sending His Son.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A message from the ants.

Go to the ant, you sluggard;
consider its ways and be wise!
It has no commander,
no overseer or ruler,
yet it stores its provisions in summer
and gathers its food at harvest.
Proverbs 6:6 - 8
 
Instinct?  Survival skills?  Lessons his mommy taught him? 
 
The ant gathers what it needs for the journey. 
 
There is no formal decree.  The ants act.
 
There are no pronouncements from the upper echelons of ant-dom.  The ants act.
 
So... let's consider there ways and be wise.
 
Jesus said:
 
My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say, 'Four months more and then the harvest'? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying 'One sows and another reaps' is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.
John 4:34 - 38
 
Will you consider the ways of the ant?  Will you labor in the field and serve your King?
 

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Words

When words are many, sin is not absent,
but he who holds his tongue is wise.
Proverbs 10:19
 
The first time I read this I was deeply convicted by my "free speech".  I used to speak just about everything that was on my mind.  This often got me into a lot of trouble (as I'm sure anyone with chronic foot-in-mouth disease can attest.)  As I grew in Christ I found myself saying less and less.  One day, after being convicted of this yet again, I prayed, "Lord.  Please afford me the wisdom to know when I should remain silent." The Lord did not respond... as if to say, "Follow this example."
 
But simply remaining silent does not ALWAYS benefit.  Ephesians 4:29 says:
 
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
 
...and just a few lines down in Proverbs we read:
 
The lips of the righteous know what is fitting,
but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse.
Proverbs 10:32
 
This is more than tact.  The righteous know that there are words, innuendos, and topics that are not appropriate, ever.
 
There is a story of a preacher who was visiting a family in the church he served.  The father said, "I have a really great joke for you.  I'll tell you as soon as the children leave the room."  The preacher replied, "then maybe you should not tell it."
 
Brethren... "live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature."  Galatians 5:16

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Paralyzed by Grace

As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, "Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn't we say to you in Egypt, 'Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians'? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!"

Moses answered the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still."
Exodus 14:10 - 14

Have you ever been gripped with fear? How about paralysed with fear? Have you ever looked at your situation and felt helpless... hopeless? This is exactly what the Israelites felt when they saw the Egyptian army advancing.

No weapons...

No training...

No idea where they were to go...

Helpless...

Hopeless... (or were they?)

What these dear people forgot was the One who delivered them with a strong arm. They forgot the Lord.

They focused on how small they were against such a threat instead on how small their threat was to THEIR HUGE GOD!

Please do not miss the significance of this....

It was the Lord who was going to win this battle... not the Israelites. True... the Israelites would be the recipients of the blessings... but the battle belonged to the Lord.

I don't know what you are going through at this very moment... but you can take comfort in knowing these three things:

1. Jesus is bigger than your problem.

2. He is constantly fighting for and interceding for God's people.

3. You are safe in the will of God.

Jesus came to set the captives free and sometimes freedom can be scary.

When you think life has gained the upper hand and you feel overwhelmed, take this counsel from the book of Hebrews:

"...let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
Hebrews 12:1 - 3

Saturday, November 7, 2009

To be or not to be

Do not envy a violent man or choose any of his ways,
for the Lord detests a perverse man but takes the upright into his confidence.
Proverbs 3:31 - 32
 
The first time I read this I thought, "Why on earth would I envy a violent man?"  That very thing... violence... is not something I want to be known for.  But isn't that what society at large magnifies?  What news stories do station producers seem to gravitate to?  What movies are blockbusters?  What sporting events get the most attention?
 
Now, before you come to any conclusions, let me state this rather frankly:
 
There is nothing inherently wrong with watching the news, going to the movies, or sports.
 
That is not what the Scriptures are saying here.  Solomon wants his children (and by application... us) to be characterized by and known for their uprightness.  The believer should be known for their meekness and humility... not anger or violence.
 
Consider a handful of qualifications for the overseer (elder):
 
Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.
1 Timothy 3:1 - 3
 
While it is true that everyone will not be an overseer (elder), that does not mean that these things should be absent from your life.
 
Please consider the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:3 - 12 as He opens the famed Sermon on the Mount. (Click on the verse if you don't have a Bible handy.)
 
Remember the BEATITUDES are exactly those... things believers should BE.
 
May the Lord bless you as you seek His will.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Suffering and the Will of God

So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.
2 Timothy 1:8 - 9
 
Yes you read that right... "join with me in suffering for the gospel".  Paul wrote a letter of instruction and encouragement to his young protege that included the words, "join with me in suffering for the gospel". 
 
I don't know about you, but I do not look forward to suffering.  That's not accurate... I also know that you don;t either.  Jesus, remember, prayed:
 
"My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."
Matthew 26:39
 
If you remember, Jesus prayed this three times (Matthew 26:42 - 44).
 
Being a Christian does not mean all your problems go away.  In fact, it seems as if new issues arise because of our testimony for Christ.  But more so for leaders.
 
Paul is writing to his young disciple and exhorting him to join in Christ's sufferings for the Gospel.  Why?
 
"[God] has saved us and called us to a holy life."
 
There is so much we could unpack from this passage.  But think on this last point:
 
It is God's purpose in saving people to conform them to the image of Jesus... and that includes suffering.
"not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace."
 
Think on these things... it might change the way you see your circumstances.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Value of Wisdom

Consider carefully the following passage from Proverbs.
 
Blessed is the man who finds wisdom,
the man who gains understanding,
for she is more profitable than silver
and yields better returns than gold.
She is more precious than rubies;
nothing you desire can compare with her.
Proverbs 3:13 - 15
 
Notice the way Solomon, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit conveys the worth of wisdom.  Please do not make the mistake that some have made in thinking that wisdom is solely a feminine trait.  Solomon was one of the wisest men in history.  In referring to wisdom as a female, he is drawing the readers' attention to the worth of a godly wife.  Later in this same Book, God instructs the human author to pen:
 
A wife of noble character who can find? 
She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her 
and lacks nothing of value.
Proverbs 31:10 - 11
 
Make no mistake about it... wisdom is worth it's weight in gold.  Ask Solomon... better yet:
 
Study what he wrote about the value of wisdom.

On our way to the Hood.

video

The Hood.

Here are a few pictures from our trip to the Hood.
(Mt. Hood)



Dani and the Izz




On the way to the Hood.



Dani and the kiddos making a snowboy.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Leading the Leadable.

After leaving Succoth they camped at Etham on the edge of the desert. By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.
Exodus 13:20 - 22
 
Imagine the sight as you and your fellow nation did something you never experienced... and never would again.
 
Imagine the awe as you followed a towering pillar of cloud during the day.
 
Imagine the heat the pillar of fire gave off at night.
 
What an amazing lesson for the children... what a great lesson for everyone.
 
It wasn't enough for the Lord to deliver Israel from the cruel bondage of Egypt.  It wasn't enough to (later) institute laws governing a nation that did not know how to govern itself.  The Lord led them:
 
He led them spiritually through His anointed leaders.
 
He led them morally through the issuing of the Law.
 
He led them physically in the pillars day and night.
 
God may not be leading you through the wilderness... He may not walk ahead of you in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire at night... but you can be sure of this:
 
He wants to lead you through whatever you are going through.
 
Friends... follow the deliverer.
 

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sunday, November 1, 2009