Monday, February 28, 2011

Monterey Sabbath

Wait. Monterey sabbath?! What?!

Yes, this sabbath we were in Monterey, CA instead of San this post contains pictures from there...mainly the Cannery Row district.

Tuesday, I blogged about how I dislike that man is capable of hurting my heart and how I desire a hedge of protection or shield against that.  Then Wednesday I read a quote of interest which stated, "It's better to have a broken heart than a hardened heart. One attracts the Lord. The other drives Him away.". (Ramsey)

23 Keep your heart with all vigilance,
   for from it flow the springs of life.  (Proverbs 4:23. ESV.)

This life is a mist (James 4:14)---or as the world would say, "life is too short...".  With that in mind, what is worth my time?  Another question rolling around in my mind is, what would I be willing to do for an eternity with a loved one?  Would I suffer now to have them in the presence of Lord (and mine) forever?  What if it meant a taste of gnashing of teeth and hell?  Why not? For a little while... to have a world without end together?

Author Randy Alcorn reminds me of Romans 8:28 when stating the following, "If God could not use something to contribute to the ultimate good of his child, then he will not permit it to happen."

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

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. 4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.  (Hebrews 12:3-4. ESV.)

Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. - Oscar Wilde

Last sabbath, we were in San Francisco for worship and then visited (and had lunch) in Japantown, however I did not have my camera or mobile phone so I did not have any photos to share.

What I did not know in worship service that particular week was God was preparing my heart. I was going to come home to a shocking event that would test me and my loved ones over the course of many days. It was especially going to be a trial for the head of our household.

Let no one deceive himself.  If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.  For it is written, "He catches the wise in their own craftiness"; and again, "The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile."  Therefore let no one boast in men.  For all things are yours: whether Paul or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come - all are yours.  And you are Christ's, and Christ is God's. (1 Corinthians 3:18-23. NKJV.)

As the head of our household, I feel my hubs holds a very challenging position. He is responsible for keeping his family in order (in addition to being the main provider and protector). I as his spouse am held to my part as a woman who fears the Lord (Proverbs 31).

Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?  If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him.  For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.  (1 Corinthians 3:16-17. NKJV.)

Yesterday, the Lord brought a thought to my mind as I was driving to meet up with hubs for dinner. Unbeknownst to me, God was once again getting my heart ready for something. While at supper, hubs asked me (what I feel to be) an important question...and I literally had two seconds to answer before our conversation was interrupted and headed off into a different direction. The moment would have been swept away and lost if I had hesitated or stumbled...

But God filled my mouth with words I never would have thought to use in such a short opportunity to speak. And I trust they were the very words hubs NEEDED to hear. You see, God is good and AMAZING. I cannot see the hearts of my family members or the struggles within themselves that they are facing. But God can...and He allows me to serve Him and those so dear to my heart...(and strangers alike).

Hallelujah, all I have is Christ.
Hallelujah, Jesus is my life.

(Jordan Kauflin: Sovereign Grace Ministries)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

If Anyone Destroys God’s Temple, God Will Destroy Him

"Jesus promised his disciples three things: that they would be completely fearless, absurdly happy and in constant trouble." G.K. Chesterton

I strongly dislike that man can hurt my heart (whether it is with words that pierce like a sword (Proverbs 12:18), actions that are not pleasing to God, etc.).  To be frank, (as apposed to Tom, Dick, or Harry I suppose) there are days I wish my heart was made of stone and/or impervious to wickedness intended for harm.  I would love to have a hedge of protection around my heart or a shield that could deflect arrows. God's word tells me,

 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.  (Ephesians 6:14-18. ESV.)

I feel God is straight forward where as satan and evil cause havoc and confusion.  At which time I must keep my eyes focused on the cross, trust in this armor which was given to me, not deviate from what I believe to be the truth, and have unwavering faith in God who will not allow (me) His temple to be destroyed.

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.  (1 Corinthians 3:16-17. ESV.)

So, woe to those who attack "God's temple".  God never lies and His word says He will "destroy" them.

I have to remember, God only calls me to faithful and He takes care of ALL the rest. He only expects me to be pleasing to Him (even if man sees it as foolishness). I do not have to appease man. God only directs me to take my own thoughts captive, not those of others. I am only responsible for myself (my behavior, etc.) I cannot force anyone to love God, serve God, love Jesus, love me, and live accordingly. Am I glorifying God?

(Photo information.)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Rid of My Disgrace

JJ Sherwood of The Gospel Coalition blog has reviewed the book RID OF MY DISGRACE by Justin S. Holcomb & Lindsey A Holcomb which deals with sexual assault and the church's response and responsibility to the victims. Sherwood writes,
In a fallen world where unspeakable evil occurs, the church must be a place that shines the hope of the gospel into the darkness. One dark corner of our world is sexual assault. The statistics are astonishing. One in four women and one in six men have been or will be victims of sexual assault. The effects are horrific. And the world is not short of remedies: self-help, self-love, and self-heal. Unfortunately for the victims, these answers are “horrible news.”

Sherwood goes on to say, RID OF MY DISGRACE:

1. [D]eals honestly and directly with sexual assault.

2. [D]isplays the prevalence of sexual assault and its effect on the victims.

3. [I]s gospel-centered and immensely practical.

4. God is glorified in every chapter.

Click here for more information.

Let Not the Devil and the World Deceive You with Their Show

Lord, I am so grateful You know me better than I do and that You direct my steps. Otherwise, I would be getting myself in way over my head!

I do not know about anyone else but I am notorious for "thinking big" and trying to execute it!  I have these plans of grander but thankfully, God is MUCH wiser than I am and He closes doors and guides me down paths that are infinitely better for me.  Not to say I always understand or accept changes gracefully---that is usually not the case---but I recognize it for what it is and am overjoyed I have a God who invests so much time and love into little ol' me...for His glory!

I just read a quote that struck a chord with me.  It said,
If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction.  (Bonhoeffer)

I guess I wonder that sometimes...did I go the wrong way?  Did I walk through the incorrect door?  But I feel that would be to doubt say, "Hey thanks for all you have given me but I think there has been some kind of mistake.  This is not blessed."

The Large Catechism of Martin Luther states this, 
Saul was a great king, chosen of God and a godly man; but when he was established on his throne, and let his heart decline from God, and put his trust in his crown and power, he had to perish with all that he had, so that none even of his children remained. David, on the other hand, was a poor, despised man, hunted down and chased, so that he nowhere felt secure of his life; yet he had to remain in spite of Saul, and become king. For these words had to abide and come true, since God cannot lie or deceive. Only let not the devil and the world deceive you with their show, which indeed remains for a time, but finally is nothing.

Let us, then, learn well the First Commandment, that we may see how God will tolerate no presumption nor any trust in any other object, and how He requires nothing higher of us than confidence from the heart for everything good, so that we may proceed right and straightforward and use all the blessings which God gives no farther than as a shoemaker uses his needle, awl, and thread for work, and then lays them aside, or as a traveler uses an inn, and food, and his bed only for temporal necessity, each one in his station, according to God's order, and without allowing any of these things to be our food or idol. Let this suffice with respect to the First Commandment, which we have had to explain at length, since it is of chief importance, because, as before said, where the heart is rightly disposed toward God and this commandment is observed, all the others follow.

(Photo information)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sacramento Man Pleads Guilty in His Wife's Strangulation

It is my understanding 1/3 of relationships (in the United States, I believe) are abusive. I find this very upsetting because (it is WRONG and) it does not have to be that way. Individuals die at the hands of the one they love because they (or others who are aware of the abuse) do nothing about it. Abuse is not is sin. And as a young pastor once stated, sin only gets worse! If you know about spousal abuse or child abuse that is taking place, do not be foolish! Do something about it. Here is yet another story of a domestic murder:

Sacramento man pleads guilty in his wife's strangulation
By Andy Furillo

A man who strangled his wife and left her body in a ditch four years ago pleaded guilty today to second-degree murder.

Agustine Espino Munoz, 40, entered his plea for the killing of his wife, Jill Alamo, 42, whose body was discovered Nov. 8, 2007, in the 9900 block of Elder Creek Road.

Munoz entered his plea just as trial was getting under way in Sacramento Superior Court.
Judge Timothy M. Frawley scheduled Munoz' sentencing for March 15. Under the terms of his plea deal, Munoz is expected to be sentenced to 15 years to life in prison, a court official said.

Click here to go to the Sacramento Bee site.

Hope for Your Dark Night of the Soul

Justin Taylor posted a segment of a 2008 interview with Bob Kauflin over at "The Gospel Coalition" blog.

[A]lthough I’d been a Christian for twenty-two years (since 1972) I was driven by a desire to be praised by men. And I wasn’t succeeding. When you plant a church, you find out that there are a lot of people who don’t agree with you. People who came to plant the church left. All of that assaulted my craving to be admired and praised and loved and worshiped and adored and applauded. God, I believe, just took his hand from me and said, “Okay, you handle this your way.” I knew the gospel, but what I didn’t know was how great a sinner I was. I thought the gospel I needed was for pretty good people, and that wasn’t sufficient to spare me from the utter hopelessness I felt during that time.

Click here to continue reading.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

For Creatures are Only the Hands, Channels, and Means Whereby God Gives All Things

Did you know "catechism" is "instruction for children"?  (Yeah, like I mentioned before, I'm new to this whole Catechism thing...completely clueless.)  Martin Luther says the following in his "Short Preface",
This sermon is designed and undertaken that it might be an instruction for children and the simple-minded. Hence of old it was called in Greek catechism, i.e., instruction for children, what every Christian must need know, so that he who does not know this could not be numbered with the Christians nor be admitted to any Sacrament, just as a mechanic who does not understand the rules and customs of his trade is expelled and considered incapable. Therefore we must have the young learn the parts which belong to the Catechism or instruction for children well and fluently and diligently exercise themselves in them and keep them occupied with them.

My personal goal is to live in Jesus and try to fit in some of the world during the day...whether that means studying the catechism, another resource, or the gospels alone...teaching and training up the children that have been entrusted to me...serving others or being challenged by God through individuals in my life.  I want to live for Jesus first, others (family, friends, strangers, etc.) second, and myself last.  I desire to "be Mary" more than "Martha"...placing the teachings of Jesus foremost throughout my (already numbered) days.

In THE LARGE CATECHISM by Martin Luther, Luther reminds the reader:
Lo, [in the first commandment] you have the meaning of the true honor and worship of God, which pleases God, and which He commands under penalty of eternal wrath, namely, that the heart know no other comfort or confidence than in Him, and do not suffer itself to be torn from Him, but, for Him, risk and disregard everything upon earth. On the other hand, you can easily see and judge how the world practices only false worship and idolatry. For no people has ever been so reprobate as not to institute and observe some divine worship; every one has set up as his special god whatever he looked to for blessings, help, and comfort....

But let this be said to the simple, that they may well note and remember the meaning of this commandment, namely, that we are to trust in God alone, and look to Him and expect from Him naught but good, as from one who gives us body, life, food, drink, nourishment, health, protection, peace, and all necessaries of both temporal and eternal things. He also preserves us from misfortune, and if any evil befall us, delivers and rescues us, so that it is God alone (as has been sufficiently said) from whom we receive all good, and by whom we are delivered from all evil. Hence also, I think, we Germans from ancient times call God (more elegantly and appropriately than any other language) by that name from the word good as being an eternal fountain which gushes forth abundantly nothing but what is good, and from which flows forth all that is and is called good....

For even though otherwise we experience much good from men, still whatever we receive by His command or arrangement is all received from God. For our parents, and all rulers, and every one besides with respect to his neighbor, have received from God the command that they should do us all manner of good, so that we receive these blessings not from them, but, through them, from God. For creatures are only the hands, channels, and means whereby God gives all things, as He gives to the mother breasts and milk to offer to her child, and corn and all manner of produce from the earth for nourishment, none of which blessings could be produced by any creature of itself.

Monday, February 14, 2011

San Francisco Sabbath

(Once again, please excuse the flimsy photos. I did take my real camera with zoom lens this time, however the pictures are not available yet.)

"So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.  He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor.  For we are God's fellow workers.  You are God's field, God's building." (1 Corinthians 3:7-9. ESV.)

As you can see, the fog was low in the city this weekend when we arrived. At first I was concerned I would not be able to offer any visuals to this post but as we continued on, the mist got lighter. (Side note, one of my family members feels there is a foggy side and a brighter side to San Francisco. Perhaps.)

The houses (and cherry blossoms) in the city are beautiful (yet so close together). Hubs and I wonder though how does one get out of his/her garage with lanes of bumper to bumper traffic sitting in front of the home?

13 ...each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (1 Corinthians 3:13-15. ESV.)

This week, the pastor at the lovely church I attended posed an excellent question. He asked each to assess the people with whom he/she gathers. Is it a "birds of a feather flock together" scenario or a diverse crowd?

Does God grow and stretch me when I hang out with like minded individuals or with those who challenge me on many levels? Is it better to be comfortable and content or uncomfortable and dependent on God, His grace, and strength in Christ Jesus?

As much as I hate to admit it, I would rather rely on God which means I am going to be pruned and refined regularly (which I utterly abhor almost as much as sin). But that is the price, that is what it takes to become more like Christ who was perfect. And though my goal is not perfection, I love God and His precious Son with my whole heart and want to glorify them.

But it is so easy to lose my focus on the cross and begin whining and complaining. The downward spiral, which begins with discontentment and self pity, is a slippery slope and trecherous. It was conceived and designed to separate me from God. NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!

I now (since 2006) have eyes to see and ears to hear. I am no longer fooled as easily and know (with certainty) I cannot be plucked from my King's mighty hand. His grasp, His provisions, His protection, His armor is stronger than ANYTHING.

As the pastor stated this Sabbath, the very same Holy Spirit which resurrected Christ is the One active in my life...for my good and God's glory.

Regarding the first commandment, Martin Luther's Catechism states this,
Therefore it is the intent of this commandment to require true faith and trust of the heart which settles upon the only true God and clings to Him alone. That is as much as to say: "See to it that you let Me alone be your God, and never seek another," i.e.: Whatever you lack of good things, expect it of Me, and look to Me for it, and whenever you suffer misfortune and distress, creep and cling to Me. I, yes, I, will give you enough and help you out of every need; only let not your heart cleave to or rest in any other. (THE LARGE CATECHISM by Martin Luther)

Luther goes on to say,
This I must unfold somewhat more plainly, that it may be understood and perceived by ordinary examples of the contrary. Many a one thinks that he has God and everything in abundance when he has money and possessions; he trusts in them and boasts of them with such firmness and assurance as to care for no one. Lo, such a man also has a god, Mammon by name, i.e., money and possessions, on which he sets all his heart, and which is also the most common idol on earth. He who has money and possessions feels secure, and is joyful and undismayed as though he were sitting in the midst of Paradise. On the other hand, he who has none doubts and is despondent, as though he knew of no God. For very few are to be found who are of good cheer, and who neither mourn nor complain if they have not Mammon. This [care and desire for money] sticks and clings to our nature, even to the grave. (THE LARGE CATECHISM by Martin Luther)

Thus you can easily understand what and how much this commandment requires, namely, that man's entire heart and all his confidence be placed in God alone, and in no one else. For to have God, you can easily perceive, is not to lay hold of Him with our hands or to put Him in a bag [as money], or to lock Him in a chest [as silver vessels]. But to apprehend Him means when the heart lays hold of Him and clings to Him. But to cling to Him with the heart is nothing else than to trust in Him entirely. For this reason He wishes to turn us away from everything else that exists outside of Him, and to draw us to Himself, namely, because He is the only eternal good. As though He would say: Whatever you have heretofore sought of the saints, or for whatever [things] you have trusted in Mammon or anything else, expect it all of Me, and regard Me as the one who will help you and pour out upon you richly all good things. (THE LARGE CATECHISM by Martin Luther)

21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21. ESV.)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Read and Study the Catechism Daily? Why? What is a Catechism?

While looking for a book I saw last weekend, I came across a copy of the THE LARGE CATECHISM by Martin Luther.  I was flipping through and scanning the "Preface" when I noted the following.  Luther states,
Oh, what mad, senseless fools are we that, while we must ever live and dwell among such mighty enemies as the devils are, we nevertheless despise our weapons and defense, and are too lazy to look at or think of them! And what else are such supercilious, presumptuous saints, who are unwilling to read and study the  Catechism daily, doing than esteeming themselves much more learned than God Himself with all His saints, angels [patriarchs], prophets, apostles, and all Christians For inasmuch as God Himself is not ashamed to teach these things daily, as knowing nothing better to teach, and always keeps teaching the same thing, and does not take up anything new or different, and all the saints know nothing better or different to learn, and cannot finish learning this, are we not the finest of all fellows to imagine, if we have once read or heard it, that we know it all, and have no further need to read and learn, but can finish learning in one hour what God Himself cannot finish teaching, although He is engaged in teaching it from the beginning to the end of the world, and all prophets, together with all saints, have been occupied with learning it and have ever remained pupils, and must continue to be such?...

Therefore I again implore all Christians, especially pastors and preachers, not to be doctors too soon, and imagine that they know everything (for imagination and cloth unshrunk [and false weights] fall far short of the measure), but that they daily exercise themselves well in these studies and constantly treat them; moreover, that they guard with all care and diligence against the poisonous infection of such security and vain imagination, but steadily keep on reading, teaching, learning, pondering, and meditating, and do not cease until they have made a test and are sure that they have taught the devil to death and have become more learned than God Himself and all His saints.
 (The Large Catechism by Dr. Martin Luther.  Preface.)

I am new to this whole Catechism thing.  I know very little about it but am interested in studying it out and learning more.  Last weekend I asked a pastor about the HEIDELBERG CATECHISM (which was on the bookshelf of the church I was attending).  He kindly explained the whole concept to me as I leafed through the pages.  The question and answer layout intrigues me and seems easy enough to follow.  I especially like how in the HEIDELBERG CATECHISM it documents scripture from which the questions and answers come.  I naïvely always assumed "catechism" was strictly for the Roman Catholic church.  Anyway, as always, I will blog about my experiences with this new book THE LARGE CATECHISM by Martin Luther.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

One Bride, Many Congregations

As someone who was recently in search of a new church home, I agree it can be difficult. Thankfully, there is a ministry I really like and look for (their church plants) wherever I travel. (This works for me however I understand it is not for everyone.) One lady, Ms. Mentanna Campbell, has written a letter to "the church" to express how she feels during this process.

An Open Letter to American Churches
(by Mentanna Campbell)

i am looking for a church. i'm already a believer so i'm an easy catch. you don't have to convince me that God exists or that it is important to come to church regularly. i'm even one of those in the 20 percentile who will be actively engaged, eager to serve in my giftedness. i really want to find a church home and soon but i confess this search has been harder than i expected.

Click here to continue reading this letter.

The Greatest Enemy to Human Souls is the Self Righteous Spirit

The greatest enemy to human souls is the self righteous spirit which makes men look to themselves for salvation. - Charles Spurgeon

I read a great post by CJ Mahaney yesterday.  He stated,
A wise, older pastor once said to me: “C.J., what hurts isn’t dead yet.” And that is often what criticism [Proverbs 27:6] wounds—my still-living, still-breathing pride.

Pride, ew, icky.  Ugly, self centered, self serving, self righteous pride!  I believe it was Jonathan Edwards who stated, "It's not IF we are prideful but HOW we are prideful."  So I know, pride exists within me and I must be constantly on the look out for it as I feel it is like a sneaky, deceitful serpent.

While I was searching for the above quote (to make sure it was infact by Edwards), I came across his message "Undiscerned Spiritual Pride" which I have pasted below. 

Undiscerned Spiritual Pride
(by Jonathan Edwards) 

The first and worst cause of error that prevails in our day is spiritual pride. This is the main door by which the devil comes into the hearts of those who are zealous for the advancement of Christ. It is the chief inlet of smoke from the bottomless pit to darken the mind and mislead the judgment, and the main handle by which Satan takes hold of Christians to hinder a work of God. Until this disease is cured, medicines are applied in vain to heal all other diseases.

Pride is much more difficult to discern than any other corruption because, by nature, pride is a person having too high a thought of himself. Is it any surprise, then, that a person who has too high a thought of himself is unaware of it? He thinks the opinion he has of himself has just grounds and therefore is not too high. As a result, there is no other matter in which the heart is more deceitful and unsearchable. The very nature of it is to work self-confidence and drive away any suspicion of evil respecting itself. 

Pride takes many forms and shapes and encompasses the heart like the layers of an onion- when you pull off one layer, there is another underneath. Therefore, we need to have the greatest watch imaginable over our hearts with respect to this matter and to cry most earnestly to the great searcher of hearts for His help. He who trusts his own heart is a fool.

Since spiritual pride in its own nature is secretive, it cannot be well discerned by immediate intuition of the thing itself. It is best identified by its fruits and effects, some of which I will mention together with the contrary fruits of Christian humility. 

The spiritually proud person is full of light already and feels that he does not need instruction, so he is ready to despise the offer of it. On the other hand, the humble person is like a little child who easily receives instruction. He is cautious in his estimate of himself, sensitive as to how liable he is to go astray. If it is suggested to him that he does go astray, he is most ready to inquire into the matter. 

Proud people tend to speak of other’s sins--the miserable delusion of hypocrites, the deadness of some saints with bitterness, or the opposition to holiness of many believers. Pure Christian humility, however, is silent about the sins of others or speaks of them with grief and pity. The spiritually proud person finds fault with other saints for their lack of progress in grace, while the humble Christian sees so much evil in his own heart, and is so concerned about it, that he is not apt to be very busy with other hearts. He complains most of himself and his own spiritual coldness and readily hopes that most everybody has more love and thankfulness to God than he.

Spiritually proud people often speak of almost everything they see in others in the harshest, most severe language. They frequently say of an other’s opinion, conduct, or coldness that it is from the devil or from hell. Commonly, their criticism is directed against not only wicked men but also toward true children of God and those who are their superiors. The humble, however, even when they have extraordinary discoveries of God’s glory, are overwhelmed with their own vileness and sinfulness. Their exhortations to fellow Christians are given in a loving and humble manner, and they treat others with as much humility and gentleness as Christ, who is infinitely above them, treats them.

Spiritual pride often disposes persons to act different in external appearance, to assume a different way of speaking, countenance, or behavior. However, the humble Christian, though he will be firm in his duty--going the way of heaven alone even if all the world forsake him- yet he does not delight in being different for difference’s sake. He does not try to set himself up to be viewed and observed as one distinguished, but on the contrary, is disposed to become all things to all men, to yield to others, to conform to them, and to please them in all but sin.

Proud people take great notice of opposition and injuries, and are prone to speak often about them with an air of bitterness or contempt. Christian humility, on the other hand, disposes a person to be more like his blessed Lord, who when reviled did not open His mouth but committed Himself in silence to Him who judges righteously. For the humble Christian, the more clamorous and furious the world is against him, the more silent and still he will be, unless it is in his prayer closet, and there he will not be still.

Another pattern of spiritually proud people is to behave in ways that make them the focus of others. It is natural for a person under the influence of pride to take all the respect that is paid to him. If others show a disposition to submit to him and yield in deference to him, he is open to it and freely receives it. In fact, they come to expect such treatment and to form an ill opinion of those who do not give them what they feel they deserve. 

One under the influence of spiritual pride is more apt to instruct others than to ask questions. Such a person naturally puts on the airs of a master. The eminently humble Christian thinks he needs help from everybody, whereas the spiritually proud person thinks everybody needs his help. Christian humility, under a sense of others’ misery, entreats and beseeches, but spiritual pride commands and warns with authority.

As spiritual pride disposes people to assume much to themselves, so it disposes to treat others with neglect. On the contrary, pure Christian humility disposes persons to honor all men. To enter into disputes about Christianity is sometimes unseasonable, yet we ought to be very careful that we do not refuse to discourse with carnal men because we count them unworthy to be regarded. Instead, we should condescend to carnal men as Christ has condescended to us--condescended to be present with us in our unteachableness and stupidity.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Words That Pierce Like a Sword

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts,
   but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
(Proverbs 12:18. ESV.)

I absolutely LOVE how God's word covers everything!

Do you ever feel icky after someone talks to you but cannot quite put your finger on why? Maybe their words are hurtful criticism instead of wise counsel. Or, perhaps the sentiment was intended to be "faithful wounds of a friend" (Proverbs 27:6) however comes out prideful, dripping with jealousy, etc. and harms like a sword instead. I have to be honest and say, I have experienced this (and continue to) in my life...harsh words, which are very unpleasant!

Recently, I received the following encouragement which blessed me greatly so I am passing it along.

Psalm 55:22 (NIV)- "Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken."

Exodus 14:14 (NIV)- "The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still."

My heart (and soul) rejoice in these truths! How amazing is our God that He takes vengeance and battles for us? What did I do to deserve such an awesome King and Heavenly Father? Nothing! I was a slave to my sin until God was merciful, graceful, and gave me eyes to see and ears to hear. Without the Holy Spirit I would be walking in the flesh all the time, self centered and self serving...opinionated, judgmental, angry, irritable, and just plain ugly!

Pastor John Piper once posed the question (along the lines of), "What is the worst possible thing you can imagine?"

After a pause he went on by saying, "How about having an all powerful God against you?"

In my opinion, that would indeed be unfathomably terrible! But how fortunate for those who have an "all powerful God" against them He is also loving and forgiving (among many other mind blowing attributes) yet just, stern, and a disciplinarian. Not to mention far more patient than myself. When I am ready to give up on someone or something, my King reminds my heart (and soul) that,
"The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God because they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:14. ESV.)

Thank you, God, that you are wise and willing to look upon hearts instead of only behavior and words!

Monday, February 07, 2011

San Francisco Sabbath

Another weekend of wonderful worship in San Francisco! I used to drive into the city two or three times a week for school (years ago). Then, it was a nuisance...but now there is something revitalizing about it.

As I stood talking with other attendees, I was met with sentiments of surprise, "You make the trek all the way here?" Yes, I do. And #1 It's really not that far, #2 it's an enjoyable drive, and #3 it is worth it to me. After careful consideration (and a bit of back and forth) I came to the conclusion if individuals in other countries can travel for many miles (and numerous hours) to hear God's word, then I have no business whining, complaining, or not making the measly one hour and fifteen minutes journey (each direction).

Besides, we drive anywhere between 45 minutes to three hours (one way) for extra curricular activities like motocross. Would I not be willing to do for God what I do for the world? More so! The things of this world will pass away but God's word lasts forever.

14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14. ESV.)

I am so thankful for day trips into the city for sabbath. I am grateful for this new congregation where I feel comfortable, welcome, and relaxed. Perhaps one of these times I will take my real camera and get some good pictures to share instead of these flimsy, camera-phone photos.

I am having a great time meeting new people of the body of Christ. I love how they live close by and walk to worship. One day, maybe we'll park further away and take a stroll around the neighborhood...possibly stop at a local café and get a coffee. It's such a lovely part of the city. I was told each home in the vicinity starts (in cost) at one million dollars.

The sun shined brightly and warmed my face. Not a single hint of gray clouds, whipping wind, or fog threatened to intrude. Cyclists and walkers were out in full force, drinking up the beauty of the day.

It would be nice to have other pilgrims with whom to share this adventure. But sometimes alone is how God directs our steps. And I will get to know this new congregation. We are the church, together.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Shepherding Your Teen

Focus on the Family currently has a series regarding teaching, training, and encouraging the teen(s) in your household addressing topics such as:

How Your Teen Is Wired

Your Teen's Spiritual Gifts

Your Teen's Sensory Preference

Teaching Teens the Life Skill of Renewing Their Minds

Be Your Teen's Role Model

Helping Your Teen Learn Selfless Living

Encouraging Teens to Champion the Outcast and Wounded

Helping Too-Busy Teens Beat Burnout

Next Steps and Related Information

(Photo information here.)

John Piper's Journal Entry On January 27, 1987

John Piper's Journal Entry On January 27, 1987
(Desiring God Ministries)

We are excited to announce that the 25th Anniversary Edition of the book Desiring God is now available.

Who could have known what God's gracious intentions were 25 years ago when this volume first arrived for publication? Looking back, we have only praise and thanksgiving to God for how He has used it to encourage and equip the Church.

And as we look forward, it is our faith-filled prayer that God will glorify himself through the truths in this book, opening the eyes of millions around the world to seek Jesus Christ as their treasure and joy.

January 27, 1987—

Yesterday when I walked into the office there was a package in my box. . . . It was the first copy of DESIRING GOD.

I shut the door to my study as I opened it and fell to my knees at my chair with the book in my hands. I was trembling and tears came to my eyes. I laid the book before God and pleaded with him for protection from the temptations to sin that the book will bring. I told him that I would rather die and come home to him rather than be made proud or self-exalting or useless to him. I pled with him that the book would be used mightily for the glory of his name and the good of his people and the reaching of unreached peoples and the vindication of his cause on the earth!

I asked that the obstacles to its being understood and accepted be removed and that a marvelous grasp and receptivity be prepared in the land.
It was a moving ten minutes as the reality of its presence sank in. Tears came when I read the blurb from J. I. Packer:

The healthy biblical realism of this study in Christian motivation comes as a breath of fresh air. Jonathan Edwards, whose ghost walks through most of Piper's pages, would be delighted with his disciple.

This was better than I could have dreamed he would be willing to say. The personal touch, that JE would even be delighted with me, is what moved me so deeply. I love Jonathan Edwards and hold him in such high regard that to think of his great soul delighting in my labor to make his doctrine live again touches roots of joy that are at the foundations.

. . . May the Lord himself be pleased with the "Meditations" of my mind in these pages. May he let the book have a little part in causing the movement of the final era in our day.

© Desiring God

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Desiring God.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website:

Thursday, February 03, 2011

All Things Are Possible

Carl Jones over at "I'd Laugh...But All This Happened To Me!" blog has written yet another fantastic post! I feel it truly goes straight to the heart and touches the soul. So, please do not hesitate to visit his site, receive encouragement, and be blessed by his words.

"All things are possible with God."  Do you really believe that?  It seems pretty far-fetched.  All things?  Really?  If you don't trust God, if you don't believe that a little faith can move a mighty mountain, if you don't believe God can use anyone to accomplish anything He wants to- then read on.  The story may not seem like much to you, but it is truly a miracle to me.  The Jesus Revolution continues...

Click here to goto "I'd Laugh...But All This Happened To Me!"

(Photo information here.)


"The Rebelution" blog (based on 1 Timothy 4:12) has posted a piece entitled "How to Raise Boys Who Read". (I actually saw this link when K12 Tweeted it.)

I am so thankful the boys in my household test at a grade level or two above their own but this might not always be the case. There are some days when getting them to engage with a book is like pulling teeth. I found the information in "The Rebelution" publication of interest and am passing it along.

Throughout history more lives have been changed through books than by any other means. Books are important. Reading is important. Charles Spurgeon, the prince of preachers, wrote: “The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains, proves that he has no brains of his own.”

Click here to continue reading.

(Photo information here.)

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The Essential Nature of Man: Body and Soul

I already started this but when I went to pull it up and continue writing, I was faced with a blank page.  Everything was gone, nowhere to be retrieved.  As I'm sure you can imagine, I am very bummed out!  I cannot even remember what I put down in the first paragraph.  I guess that's a downside to composing on this device...I cannot manually save anything.  If it is not automatically saved, I have to begin again.

This morning I was thinking about man and how many have a moral compass yet some lie, cheat, steal, murder, etc. without hesitation or blink of an eye.  I've heard it said, "Well, that person is an unbeliever and a slave to his/her sin.  You cannot expect him/her to behave in a godly manner."  I cannot help but wonder though, I have seen non-Christians serve humbly out of love, professing Christians behave badly without repentance or apology, and "Pharisee" acting individuals who talk the talk and appear to walk the walk however are corrupt, prideful, or in love with him/herself more than Jesus.  So what gives?  The easy answer would be "sin" but I'm not looking for a simple, surface explanation.  I like to dig deep.

With that said, I am resuming my reading of Wayne Grudem's SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY: AN INTRODUCTION TO BIBLICAL DOCTRINE with chapter 23 "The Essential Nature of Man" followed by 24 "Sin".  Grudem states, "[E]very action we take in this life is an act of our whole person, involving to some extent both body and soul[.]"

7:1 Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.  (1 Corinthians 7:1. ESV.)

 14The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16“For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.  (1 Corinthians 2:14-16. ESV.)

(Photo information here.)

I Just Had to Share

I read a couple of things today I really wanted to pass along. They are short, sweet, and to the point.

1. "BUSY" acronym by Rankin: Being Under Satan's Yoke. I don't think I'll being saying, "Sorry, I can't help you, I'm too busy," anytime soon (or ever again)!

2. "Praying together is remarkably intimate.". (I'm not sure who to credit for that one.)


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