Thursday, March 31, 2011

Friday Featured Writer: Carl Jones

As an added element to this blog I have decided to begin showcasing various writers for "Friday Featured Writer"! To kick off this new component I am going to begin with someone particularly dear to former youth pastor, the fantastic, Carl Jones! As we say on Twitter #EverybodyLovesCarl.

Yep, that's him pictured left. I was there too when this picture was snapped. It is a glimpse into a moment of time. This youth trip might have been a ski trip or one to the beach (though I cannot remember which). But I do have fond memories of Carl and his beautiful wife!!!

Carl has a fabulous spot on the web called, "I'd Laugh...But All This Happened to Me!" (And he is doing a 40 Day Challenge on his other blog!) If you have not done so already, stopping by and visiting his site is a must! :) Okay, enough of my chit chat...without further ado, I present "What's Your Sign?" by Carl Jones.

What's Your Sign?

I know that because of God's love my sins are forgiven, if I only ask and repent. I know through God's grace, as demonstrated in the gift of Jesus, that my sins are forgotten. Because I know that I know that I know these things are true, my place in the Kingdom is secure. But in the meantime, I have to live on planet Earth...

Human beings seem to be, by their very nature, judgemental. We are quick to point out the flaws in others. We often rejoice in the failures of those around us. We flock to our Facebook and Twitter accounts to report when those around us fall short of perfection. Jesus taught (Matthew 7:4) that we should get the plank out of our eye before we point out the speck in someone else's; we seem to prefer throwing the plank at our neighbor. In God's eyes, a sin is a sin is a sin. For humans, some sins seem to be much worse than others- usually the sins we don't commit. Philip Yancey once wrote that "Christians get very angry toward other Christians who sin differently than they do." And it's true. We see the sins of others as different and greater than our own. And when we do this, it becomes very hard to see people through the eyes of grace.

All of this started me wondering. What if the world operated in the following manner- each of us had to wear a sign around our neck with our "plank" written on it before being allowed to pass judgement on anyone else? The worst part of us exposed to the world on a daily basis- forgiven by God but now out there to be judged by man. How would we see each other then? Would Adultery seem less significant than Grand Theft Auto? Would Shoplifter pale next to Drug Dealer? It's my guess that many of us would choose to give up the right to judge if we had to wear the sign. The pain and embarrassment of the signs around our own necks would be more than we could bear. We would have neither the time nor the energy to worry about what others have done. Our focus would be on repentance, not judgement, and on the plank in our own eye- just as Jesus suggested. We could then pass grace instead of judgement.

I have to admit that my thoughts here are more than a little self-serving. You see, my sign is in many ways already out there for people to see. My sign, in the eyes of this world, would be judged a greater sin than yours. No matter what your sign says, mine sounds worse. But in truth, it wasn't until after I was labeled, after the sign was hung around my neck, that I began to fully appreciate that I, like many devoted Christians, did not have a full grasp of grace. We talk about the Good News, but we don't really understand it. We know that Jesus forgave the woman at the well and the woman caught in adultery, but we're not sure we would have. We know that Jesus forgave Peter for denying Him, but we can't imagine why. Theologians and historians have spent 2000 years arguing over who really killed Jesus- the Romans or the Jews- when the question is moot. Whoever it was, Jesus forgave them on the cross. It was not about assigning guilt- it was about offering grace. The Good News is that all of the really reviled people of the time of Jesus- tax collectors, lepers, hookers and more- were exactly the kind of people Jesus hung out with. The Christ did not simply ignore their signs- he ripped them off, tore them up and stomped on them! Jesus told us that he didn't come for the healthy; He came to heal the sick. The hurt and the lost were His number one priority. I think many Christians today take the opposite approach. We wish there was a special "Sinner's Section" ( kind of like the smoker's section used to be in restaurants) in the sanctuary where we could quarantine "those people." I think our attitudes would be much better and our love for the hurting much deeper if every time we started focusing on the sins of others we had to put on our signs...

So that's the challenge for this week. Every time you find yourself being judgmental or condemning of others, imagine yourself putting on your sign. Stop and think about how you would feel if everyone knew the worst thing abut you. And then remember the most important part- because of the love of God and the grace found in Jesus, you are not receiving the eternal judgement you deserve. You are forgiven. When Jesus said, "It is finished" while hanging on the cross, the sins of the world died with Him. Grace has crushed your sin- and everyone else's- and you are forgiven. If you'll remember that, then I promise you will begin to live out the words to one of my favorite old camp songs: "That's how it is with God's love, once you experience it. You'll spread His love to everyone, you'll want to pass it on.." Take another step on the road to the Jesus Revolution.

Because of Jesus

For more inspiring posts by Carl, please check out "Moon Shine", "Jerks for Jesus", and "Blessed are the Riffraff".

("What's Your Sign" (c) Carl Jones. Reposted with permission.)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

God All Sufficient

"Never desire another's success until you know the sacrifice, pain and pressure they went through to achieve it."  ~ Rick Warren

I love this quote!!!  I suppose it goes along with the saying about walking in someone else's shoes...and since I am a big advocate for encouraging with grace (as opposed to judging harshly), it strikes a chord with me---so to speak.

Jesus NEVER said taking up the cross and following Him would be easy.  I do believe He actually said quite the opposite!  So why bother?  Especially if my sin is more enjoyable and gives me instant gratification instead of having to wait to be glorified (Romans 8:28-30)?  (Yikes, I feel like I am going to get struck by lightning here in a moment...I better get to my point.  Just joking. God knows my heart, THANKFULLY!) :)

A Promise of Grace

This vapor of a life (James 4:14) is difficult.  As Pastor Toby said this sabbath, "Sin makes everything complicated."  Being one of the "saints" (though I never feel worthy of the term) is a HUGE challenge what with spiritual warfare, being pruned/refined, etc.  Tribulation may seem to be a regular occurrence.  But even so, God gave us His promise that NO MATTER WHAT! His grace is ALWAYS SUFFICIENT!  (This, of course, does not cover a mind that is running amuck with "what if's" but does apply to everything else.)

9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  (2 Corinthians 12:9. ESV.)

This is in NO WAY to suggest mourning is not okay!  We pilgrims (a title with which I am more comfortable) are called to rejoice and even weep together (Romans 12:15) as a whole.  That's love!  God is love!  And we are image bearers made for glory (as Pastor Toby said).

(Photo Information.)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Excellent Recipes

If you love food they way I enjoy food then these are two recipes worth your time and energy:

BBQ Pulled Pork Sliders (slow cooker recipe)

Crab Salad (with mayonnaise)

These have been voted "keepers" in my household. Bon appétit!!!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

7x70 by Chris August

I heard this song this morning on the radio and I have been singing the chorus all day...

For God’s Temple is Holy, and You Are That Temple

7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.  (2 Corinthians 4:7. NKJV.)

The Weaker Vessel

I love 2 Corinthians 4:7 because when I read it I think of two things: 1. the Holy Spirit and 2. pregnancy.  Perhaps an odd combination of thoughts however they help me remember and put into perspective that God's word calls me His temple (and anyone who devastates the temple will be annihilated by God).

16 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.)

That's pretty weighty for a Thursday morning over coffee (when I was working on this) but it gives me such peace and reassurance (among other things---like a realization of for what I am accountable).  

When expecting, the mother (obviously) is carrying some pretty precious cargo.  Any "bad habits" in which the woman may have engaged previously are discouraged.  Family and friends try to lighten her load and her husband might even become more protective and overly chivalrous.  She is a "vessel" and (in many cases) her lifestyle changes.  I feel the same can be said when the Holy Spirit (who did some awesome, powerful recorded in scripture) dwells within us.  As if Christ paying the price for our sins was not awesome enough, the Holy Spirit then came to guide and convicts us so that we may be pleasing in God's sight.  Phew, if that does not blow your hair back I do not know what would.

8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.  (Acts 1:8. ESV.)

Observe, Analyze, Deduce
(Learn, Discern, Encourage, Serve)

The bible tells me Christ was the only individual without sin.  As for the rest of us, we have to repent from our sin, learn from it, grow, and encourage others with an empathetic understanding.

And, I certainly do not mind being the "weaker vessel".  It is my opinion the head of household has such a HUGE responsibility!  Provider, protector, Chief Operations Officer, the superintendent of our (own personal) school district---(home), the general of our 4077th, etc.  You get the picture.

I feel it is my privilege to study God's word (and familiarize myself with what is pleasing in His sight), watch my family (and others), be vigilant of areas where support is needed, train up children in the way they should go, serve as lead by the Holy Spirit, be the colonel (vice president, etc. to hubs), and to pray with my whole heart, without ceasing.  I'm good with that!

Monday, March 21, 2011

I Will Question You, and You Make it Known to Me

2 “I know that you can do all things,
   and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
4‘Hear, and I will speak;
   I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
5I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
   but now my eye sees you;
6therefore I despise myself,
   and repent in dust and ashes.”
(Job 42:2 & 4-6. ESV.)

The Warfare Within

I remember when I first felt God pulling my heart to Him.  I had grown up in the church and had a lot of the head knowledge but I did not have eyes to see or ears to hear.  I did not have the Holy Spirit nor God's grace.  It felt like there was spiritual warfare going on inside of me.  (The good verses evil like that illustrated in cartoons where an angel is sitting on one shoulder and a devil perched upon the other.)  Some days I was so close...I could almost feel the peace.  Other moments I was immersed in my sin...still a slave to it.

I can still feel it tempting me, truth be told...the sin.  "Brook," it says, "I know what would make you happy and it's not what you have now.  What is missing from your life?  What is it for which you yearn?  You know what it is and so do I.  I can give that to you.  Don't you want it?"  And, I do.  But I'm not willing to give up God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and eternal life.  I'm not willing to (as the song says) gain the world but lose my soul.  (Yes, I know, to some it's cheesy to quote lyrics but oh well.  It's a great line!  And, it applies.)

A Slave to Righteousness

So, why do I get so frustrated at times when I see someone else struggling with their "battle" within?  It is not as though I was never in those shoes.  The feelings were so strong I can recall them as if it was yesterday when they had been present.  I recognize the "warfare" when I see it...the back and forth, roller coaster ride.  I plead with God at each downward plummet.  "Please, Lord, save this person and the family that depends on him/her.  May all of them be pleasing in your sight."

It might appear my prayer remains unanswered but 1. God's ways and thinking are not like my own, 2. His timing is absolutely perfect, and 3. I cannot see the heart (and THAT is where God's work is being done).  It is so easy to question God.  "Why, Lord, why?"  However, it is insanely challenging to wait on and trust completely in Him.  I wonder why that is?  Do you know?

5 You prepare a table before me
   in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
   my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
   all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
 (Palms 23:5-6. ESV.)

(Photo information.)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Future and a Hope

11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  (Jeremiah 29:11. ESV.)

The Car Accident

"Oh Lord, we're going to roll!"

The words passed through my mind as I watched the hood of the vehicle.  What once was parallel to the blacktop was now rising on the left to become perpendicular.  And then, it was like waking from a dream.  Quiet, if the wind ceased to blow and the air was gone from the atmosphere.  A calm voice spoke gently to me.  "Do you know what happened?"  "Is there anyone I can call for you?"

I was clueless, lost... as if my skull was filled with rocks.  I could not keep a thought yet I was still able to function, somehow.  I was blinded, (not with darkness but) the windshield was shattered and I sat staring at it without even noticing!  If I had attempted to walk around I would have stumbled and fallen.  I was weak in my own strength...yet I listened carefully to the voice.  I could not see the man who owned it as I sat quite still without turning my head...but I felt it was trustworthy and dependable.  I could not help myself nor my family (a six month old) who was in the vehicle with me.

Time escaped me.  Where did the minutes go?  I focused my eyes on the broken glass before me.  Now I saw it for what it was.  My hands still gripped the steering wheel.  Why was I holding on so tight?  Someone sat behind me now, holding me still, and speaking firmly and simply so I could understand despite the confusion.  "Don't move."

A second individual stood to my left.  I was given instructions to follow for my safety and wellbeing as the mangled car encasing me was cut away.  I had no idea what to expect as I faced the unknown.  I suppose I could have rebelled but really, what would I have accomplished?  Nothing.  When I was told to be still, I did.  When I had to let go and rely on these persons to lift me, carry me, move me...I did.  And it was all for my good even though I was not in control, not the one calling the shots.

The Truth

You see, this life is but a now, and then gone just as quickly and as quietly as it came (James 4:14).  There will come a day in life when the Good Shepherd will call.  His voice will be One easy to recognize.  The heart will be filled with peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).  But there will be instruction (for welfare and not for evil).  I guess one could be defiant...but really, what would be the point?  It is futile.  A child is not able to comprehend the ways of a parent until they themselves are grown and have a family.  Surgery is scary, messy, terrible, and utterly painful but at times necessary to save a life.  Sometimes the Mighty Counselor will say, "Wait, be still."

It is so easy to miss the view something in a skewed look yet not see what is right in front of the face.  The heart can be so deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9) and the mind easily clouded, flustered, disoriented.  It is better to listen to (and trust) the Good Shepherd rather than lean on one's own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).  He came to save.  The flock recognizes the Shepherds voice.  Can you hear Him calling you?

(Photo information.)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

In Jesus' Name

13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. (John 14:13-14. ESV.)

Whenever praying, I thought I had to close (each time) with, "In Jesus' name, amen." (I did not always believe this...but I cannot remember when I started.) So now, it's a habit...(though heartfelt). However, when recently re-reading Wayne Grudem's chapter on prayer in his book SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY I realized though Jesus is my mediator, I do not have to use a special phrase to make it so (or acknowledge it to be true). I suppose I saw the wordage as like a "please" or "thank you". As if God would say, "Well, okay, since you asked nicely."

14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. (1 John 5:14-15. ESV.)

Unfortunately, I feel this practice of mine misses the mark when teaching my children how to pray. I know why I say, "In Jesus' name" (and it's not wrong to say it) but my kiddos might not have a solid understanding and therefore it can possibly cause some confusion and/or promote legalism. (Which reminds me of an article I read one time entitled "Raising Little Pharisees" but that is a post for another day...if I can remember where I read it.)

Regarding this topic, Grudem states the following,
"[N]one of the prayers recorded in Scripture have the phrase 'in Jesus' name' at the end of them (see Matt. 6:9-13; Acts 1:24-25; 4:24-30; 7:59; 9:13-14; 10:14; Rev. 6:10; 22:20).

"To come in the name of someone means that another person has authorized us to come on his authority, not our own....

"Thus, the name of Jesus represents all that he is, his entire character. This means that praying 'in Jesus' name' is not only praying in his authority, but also praying in a way that is consistent with his character, that truly represents him and reflects his manner of life and his own holy will...(1 John 5:14-15, Col. 3:17)...

"[G]enuine conversation between persons who know each other never depends on the use of certain formulas or required words, but is a matter of sincerity in our speech and in our heart, a matter of right attitudes, and a matter of the condition of our spirit.
" (Grudem, Wayne. SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY: AN INTRODUCTION TO BIBLICAL DOCTRINE. Zondervan. 1994. Pgs. 379-380.)

17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17. ESV.)

(Photo information.)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, Hypocrites!

God's Word has quite a bit to say about hypocrites. When I looked up the word (to see how many times it appears in the bible) the search produced a minimum of 18 scripture tags...many of which contained "Woe to you...hypocrites"! And I do believe it was not a good thing when Jesus said that!

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness." (Matthew 23:27. ESV.)

Because of Jesus' abhorrence of and the offensiveness of double standards and deceitfulness, I pray I will focus on the log in my own eye as opposed to the speck in someone else's eye!

42 How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye. (Luke 6:42. ESV.)

Instead of being quick to point the finger at another individual I want to be swift to acknowledge my own faults, turn away from them, ask forgiveness from those I have affected, and not make the same mistakes repeatedly. Further, I desire to be forgiving toward those who sin against me in this manner and not appear self righteous and "holier than thou".

Most importantly, I want to glorify God and Christ...not myself, not the scribes, and not the Pharisees. I don't have to be right...infact, most of the time I am not! I have pride in my heart that hinders clear thought and vision (probably more times than I would like to admit). I have to remember to first pray before opening my mouth to spew what overflows from my heart (Matthew 12:34).

And it's always interesting to see what is lurking in my heart! Wretched, wretched, wretchedness I tell you! As I inform my children, they get to witness me stumble more than anything else. But, I love my God and Jesus with all my heart and soul and am (so thankful to be) guided by the Holy Spirit who convicts me (even though it is very uncomfortable)...praise God!

6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you [and me] will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6. ESV.)

(Photo information.)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Please Pray for Ethiopia

Prayer Bulletin   
Believers Under Attack

A string of attacks on Christians by radical Muslims have left at least two dead and thousands homeless in western Ethiopia. Reports say Islamic extremists set fire to 59 church buildings and 28 Christian homes in Asendabo....

Click HERE to continue reading.

Wordless Wednesday: Quirky Yet Practical, That's Me!

Bring Them Up in the Discipline and Instruction of the Lord

4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.  (Ephesians 6:4. ESV.)

I have heard girls are easier to raise when they are younger and boys when they are older.  Personally, I think of the teen years and cringe.  They were difficult enough when I had to endure them as a child on my way to adulthood.  But now, I have the challenge (or privilege) of pressing through them on the opposite side of the the disciplinarian and teacher! 

As a parent, God's word gives repeated instruction and promises regarding training up kiddos. 

21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.  (Colossians 3:21. ESV.)

Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.
 (Proverbs 22:6. ESV.)

I have found the two areas in which I struggle most are: 1. Being consistent (regardless if I am dealing with a headstrong toddler, strong willed teenager, or everything in between). And, 2. Battling against outside influences--- whether it's advertisements, peers, other family members, etc.  It feels like a continuous fight to "train" them "up in the way they should go".  And then, when I have to let go and watch as an adolescent transitions into an adult, I just hold my breath and pray...with my whole heart.


And really, I should be praying the entire time!  Thankfully so, I have been entrusted with these precious, little lambs (even though they are ornery buggers at times), I desire each of us to be pleasing to the Lord, and to glorify Him in everything.  I take my roll seriously (though not without joy and laughter) and want to do my absolute best.  I never, ever want one of my kids to come to me one day when they are grown and ask why I let them down and did not do better.  And, even more importantly I do not want to disappoint God!

I know, I know...some will read that last statement and feel passionately about it one way or another.  However, I personally believe God takes a special interest.  I have faith His word is truth and it specifically says, "bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4).

25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
   and she laughs at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
   and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household
   and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
   her husband also, and he praises her:
29 "Many women have done excellently,
   but you surpass them all."
30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
   but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
 (Proverbs 31:25-30. ESV.)

(Photo information.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Burden of the Valley of Vision

If you have not read THE VALLEY OF VISION: A COLLECTION OF PURITAN PRAYERS AND DEVOTIONS, I highly recommend it! In its contents are prayers regarding I. Father, son, and Holy Spirit; II. Redemption and Reconciliation; III. Penitence and Deprecation; IV. Needs and Devotions; V. Holy Aspirations; VI. Approach to God; VII. Gifts of Grace; VIII. Service and Ministry; IX. Valediction; and X. A Week's Shared Prayers.

Below I have copied a prayer addressing "Conflict". If there is strife in your life (like mine) I hope this prayer encourages you richly:

O Lord God,
Thou art my protecting arm,
fortress, refuge, shield, buckler.
Fight for me and my foes must flee;
Uphold me and I cannot fall;
Strengthen me and I stand unmoved, unmoveable;
Equip me and I shall receive no wound;
Stand by me and Satan will depart;
Anoint my lips with a song of salvation
and I shall shout thy victory;
Give me abhorrence of all evil,
as a vile monster that
defies thy law, casts off thy yoke,
defiles my nature, spreads misery.
Teach me to look to Jesus on his cross
and so to know sin's loathsomeness in thy sight.
There is no pardon but through thy Son's death,
no cleansing but in his precious blood,
no atonement but his to expiate evil.
Show me the shame, the agony, the bruises of incarnate God,
that I may read boundless guilt in the boundless price;
May I discern the deadly viper in its real malignity,
tear it with holy indignation from my breast,
resolutely turn from its every snare,
refuse to hold polluting dalliance with it.
Blessed Lord Jesus, at thy cross
may I be taught the awful miseries from which I am saved,
ponder what the word 'lost' implies,
see the fires of eternal destruction;
Then may I cling more closely to thy broken self,
adhere to thee with firmer faith,
be devoted to thee with total being,
detest sin as strongly as thy love to me is strong,
And may holiness be the atmosphere in which I live.

(Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and devotions. The Banner of Truth Trust. 1975. Pg.100.)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Overcoming Doubt and Pressing Onward

I feel as though I've been neglecting this blog recently. But does anyone in the blogosphere notice? It's pretty difficult to gauge visitors, readers, etc. unless comments are left...but I know there are many who prefer not to "comment". Kind of like the saying in radio I suppose, "Long time listener, first time caller."

Anyway, I read a post by a fellow blogger (though I cannot remember which) last week (or so) about which blogs succeed and which do not. He said he feels blogs become popular mainly by accident, that they are generally boring, and if it is engaging (namely if individuals leave comments) then the writer is doing something right. Hum, so what does that mean for my site? I'm not sure, really.

I guess I'll just carry on and if it is only to serve as a journal for me to preach to myself and organize thoughts, etc. then so be it. Praise God! But if anyone feels encouraged, I look forward to comments/discussions here, on Facebook, or in the Twitterverse.

Currently, I have been focusing quite a bit on prayer (again). I have written a draft "guest post" piece and have yet to submit it (because I struggle with my sin of doubt and anxiety and I am afraid of letting down the one for whom I wrote it). But, enough about me. This site is mainly for treasuring Christ.

Regarding prayer R.A. Torrey states,
"Sin is an awful thing. One of the most awful things about it is the way it hinders prayer. It severs the connection between us and the source of all grace and power and blessing." (HOW TO PRAY. Whitaker House. 1984. Pg. 67.)

"Our whole life should be a life of prayer. We should walk in constant communication with God. There should be a constant looking upward to God. We should walk so habitually in His presence that even when we awake in the night it would be the most natural thing for us to speak to Him in thanksgiving or petition." (Pg.81.)

Friday, March 11, 2011

San Francisco Sabbath

"You cannot have God as your Father unless you have the church as your mother." ~ Cyprian

4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (Galatians 4:4-7. ESV.)

1 Corinthians 5:8  "8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth."

12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside.  (1 Corinthians 5:12-13. ESV.)

As followers of Christ we need our family to help hold us accountable for our sins. We are called to bear one another's burdens.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Over Monday Morning Coffee

I've decided to start doing a more off the cuff, spontaneous post once a week. Usually, I feel passionately about something (or am struggling in an area, or rejoicing over God's mercy, grace, and works) and then I research to make sure I'm (hopefully close to) accurate where theology and God's word are concerned.

But, sometimes I wonder if glorifying God is not just about prepared statements...though they are true. When I speak to someone in person, I generally have no idea what the conversation is going to hold, where it is going to go, how I am going to share God and Christ with the individual to whom I am speaking. And though I cannot hear your voice and fellowship with you face to face, perhaps we can still converse, like two friends via post, over many miles. I know you can not hold this in your hand like a letter (or note) on paper (unless you are using a handheld device), but don't the words still have meaning regardless of their presentation?

I don't know where this "blog post" finds you. I don't know what you are going through. But I want you to know that I do care...and look forward to hearing from you should you choose to write back (either in the comments section or via private email). Your story is important to me. Everyone has one, you know...a story. And I love to hear them! I won't always know how to encourage you (should you desire it) but I will "listen" and (if you don't mind) pray for you fervently...whole heartedly.

I believe God gave us each other to help carry burdens and make the load a little lighter. Someone once told me, "More hands make less work." I guess kind of like oxen yoked together to make the tough stuff a little more bearable.

We're not always going to agree. Perhaps our beliefs are completely different. But that's okay. I don't mind if you don't mind. :) Well, now my coffee mug is empty and here I've done all the talking. Thank you for your precious time. I know it is very important...moments of your life you will never get back (as I say, sometimes). Thank you for sharing them with me. Now, what would you like to talk about? I'll go put on another pot of coffee.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

The Wisdom of This World is Foolishness with God

Whenever things get confusing, life seems in a state of chaos, and it is difficult for me to decipher what (in a situation) is true and what is deceitfulness, I have to remind myself to keep my eyes firmly focused on the cross and to behave in a manner that is pleasing to God... regardless if it appeases man or is what man believes to be wise. (Peer pressure can be pretty tough.)

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.  (1Corinthians 2:14.)

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.)

"The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God."  And, I am not called to have faith in the world and glorify man.  So, why do I keep getting caught up in that web of lies?  I feel Pastor Mark Driscoll paints an excellent picture of the flesh and temptation.  One is a hook and the other is the bait.  So whenever my flesh begins to burn with anxiousness I imagine the baited hook and move past it.  Does that mean my sin of anxiety and worry are gone?  No, it just means I am not going to engage in it but rather depend on God, look to the cross, and walk with strength in Christ.

For I can do ALL THINGS through Christ who strengthens me.  (Philippians 4:13. Ephasis added.)

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 4:4-7. ESV.)

(Photo information.)

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Rejoice with Those Who Rejoice, Weep with Those Who Weep

Today I rejoice with a very dear friend who recently had a loved one receive salvation. This individual and I have walked a similar path, faced much adversity, and weathered challenging tribulation. At times God has even placed us in the same "boat" without us knowing it. And there we sat, together, each bailing water.

10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower;
   the righteous man runs into it and is safe
. (Proverbs 18:10. ESV.)

I suppose I could be jealous, but praise God, I am not! I guess I could question God, "Why save that person and not this one? Don't I glorify you? Do I not do as you command? Why not reward me as well with a loved one for all eternity?". But why would I? For I know His timing and ways are perfect. My King is far wiser than I could ever be, He sees hearts, and understands what each man NEEDS to receive the Holy Spirit, eyes that see, and ears that hear.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11. ESV.)

To which I say, "I believe You, Lord. And, I thank You!"


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