Purpose Statement

My holy ambition is to bring glory to God through the study of His Word. I am passionate about the observation, interpretation and application of God's Word in our lives.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Total Restructuring

One of the gifts I received from my sister and brother-in-law was a Christmas tree ornament made from an old quilt. I didn't see the original scrap of cloth but I did see the end result.  It was a cute Santa Claus to hang on the tree for years to come.  While the ornament was cloth I wouldn't have necessarily guessed it had once been a quilt.  The piece of fabric had been totally restructured as something else.  Something, in this case, had sentimental meaning and value attached to it--something to cherish for years to come.

There is a similar concept in biblical counseling. It is termed "total restructuring."  Sometimes a person's life has been lived so far from God that it takes great effort to remake it into the new creature God intends for us to become.  Although I've been a believer for 33 years the Lord has been faithful to show me that much of my life needs to be redone. He loves me enough that He would no longer allow me to live in my pride, sin and bondage.  It's not been an easy year.  In fact, I daresay it's been one of the hardest of my life. Not THE hardest for that distinction belongs to the year 1978-1979.  My hope is in the promises of God that He will take an old scrap of fabric and fashion it into an ornament that can be used to bring Him much glory when He is finished.  We never are through with sanctification until we see Him face to face.  But I do think He moves us away from the blue tip flame of the refiner's fire when the sheen that He wants is complete. Hopefully for me that will happen in 2013.  I wish all who read my blog a blessed 2013 and a year of trusting Him even greater than you do at present.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Amazing gRace

After church I went to lunch with a couple who are going to the Ukraine on a short term missions trip. We discussed apparel, packing, and layering in terms of what to wear on the plane.  The strategizing reminded me of the TV show the Amazing Race.  Couples travel throughout the world to various places and endure detours, roadblocks and other difficulties as they try to be the first couple to the finish line each week.  I watched the show a couple of seasons and was amazed at human ingenuity and human depravity.  Some of the folks were just downright conniving and selfish.  They were all about themselves and winning the million dollar prize at the end of the season.  I am sure the Lord wasn't pleased with my watching the TV show.

The trip to Ukraine I refer to as the Amazing gRace. The eight people leaving from my church are going at their own expense and will spend 8 days ministering to Christian Churches in the Kiev area.  They will face many different challenges including the language, food, culture and who else knows?  But they aren't traveling alone. The Holy Spirit is their ever present companion and guide.  He will empower them to accomplish whatever good works He has prepared ahead of time for them to do.  The men will preach and teach. The ladies are taking scarfs and other gifts.  All eight will edify, encourage and evangelize in the area.  There was a time when I enjoyed hearing what happened on the Amazing Race when I missed a program.  I'm much more eager to hear about all the Lord did during these upcoming 8 or 9 days as the group embarks on their Amazing gRace.  If the Lord so prompts you, please pray for them: Dan, Calvin, Russell, Debra, Rachel, Jared, Alex and Ramona are their names. Thanks.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Sam's and Costco Church

This afternoon I went to both wholesale clubs in close proximity to each other. I loved the hot dog deal you can get.  A 1/4 all beef hot dog with a soft drink for $1.50.  It's the best deal in town.  So in we went for a few items for her. I mean a few items or she has much smaller handwriting than mine. Her list was literally an inch by an inch.  There are advantages to being single sometimes.  Anyway, once we got to Costco I started finding the food kiosks literally every time I turned around. I started snacking on every food and drink they were sampling.  My friend is a strict vegetarian so she gave me her samples of any meat items. I was eating for two so to speak.  I lost count of all the tidbits I ate but as we finished shopping I had lost any fervor for my beloved hot dog.

Then we went to Sam's Club just for kicks.  The food nosh continued.  I was stuffed but continued with the snacking.  Deep down I wasn't satisfied. I also deceived myself that I had not eaten a real meal so all I ate didn't count.  It is amazing the lies we tell ourselves.  I got to thinking about so many churches in America.  They are wholesale club churches in that they serve a tidbit of Bible truth, a tidbit of the means of grace and rarely if ever do they serve what's really good for a church--church discipline.  Rather these churches are filled with movies not preaching or preaching about movies.  The Bible is often relegated to being a prop in a skit. Communion is reserved for home groups served by any leader.  Church discipline means someone is in a psychologically based program doing the twelve steps. 

The reformers had it right. They defined the term church every narrowly.  First, biblical preaching in an exegetical manner was primary. The pulpit remained sacred and foremost.  Second, they regularly and with solemnity celebrated communion.  Holy communion at that.  I have heard of churches serving peanut butter crackers and punch as your drive through a window. No joke.  Finally, church discipline was practiced by all members at all levels.  Holiness was and is serious to God and the congregants knew that.  We need to be careful not to snack our way through a day.  It may satisfy superficially but it won't do so long term. It's also the worst way to eat in terms of your health. A diet of kiosk visits won't keep you healthy physically. A diet of kiosks in churches won't help your spiritual health much either.

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Importance of Fellowship

.I have been continually impressed  by the importance of the "one another" commands in Scripture.  This has been a very difficult year for me and I truly don't know where I'd be without the Body of Christ.  For about 5 weeks I was in facility with some other ladies who literally didn't know where they would live once they were released from the program. I had the blessing of coming back to my apartment where I've been surrounded by a caring, supportive and large group of believers.  These are people who have reached out with the hand of fellowship and carried me along.

 I remember a retreat a few years back when the speaker said that if one woman in our local church failed, we all failed. It seemed a bit harsh at the the time but I believe I better understand what she meant now.  There is a mystical bond among true believers and when the body is functioning as it should and everyone is obeying the Lord, the church is edified, fellow believers grow in grace and God gets the glory. The unbelieving world watches and sees that there is a very personal, real and powerful Lord who is the head of His body and all the parts are joined together uner Him. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

"You Worshiped Your Way into this Mess"...

“The Puritan preacher Thomas Chaimers, in his sermon The Expulsive Power of a New Affection, said that desires for God and desires for sin cannot coexist in the human heart. They are two opposing “affections”—one will always push out the other. So, he said, “the only way to dispossess [the heart] of an old affection, is by the explosive power of a new one” (see Gal. 5:16-17). You can’t just “stop it,” because the it is always more than behavior. It is always rooted in your affections, in what you love—what you worship. Chalmers points the way forward: we worshiped our way into this mess, and by God’s grace, we’ll worship our way out.”   Mike Wilkerson, Redemption page 38.
I had dinner with a couple of very good friends.  The husband used part of the quote above to encourage us all.  "We worshiped our way into this mess and we can worship our way out."  Man is created to worship. Some people claim to be atheists but even an atheist deems that some person's opinion to be supreme even if it's himself.  Romans 1 tells us that the unbeliever suppresses the truth revealed about God through creation and ends up worshipping the creature instead of the Creator.  Idol worship leads to a mess every time. But worshipping the true God in the way He has revealed in His Word is indeed the way out of the mess.  That brings those of us who struggle against habitual sin much hope.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Personal Update

No blog post of any significance.  I just got back from Care Now...I have a sinus infection and am headed to bed. Thanks for all who pray.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Christmas Blessing

My Dad is in a local memory care facility with advanced Alzheimer's Disease.  Saturday some of the family met up there with food and presents.  It wasn't a good day for him and he spoke very little if at all.  We all ate and gave him his gifts. I left admittedly a wee bit disappointed.  It was supposed to be his Christmas celebration and he didn't seem very "present" in it. 

Christmas Day I drove out to Saginaw around noon for Christmas dinner with my family.  About an hour after I got there the snow began to fall. I didn't want to get snowed in so I drove home around 1 o'clock in the afternoon. Helen, my Dad's wife of nearly 50 years was trying to call him at the facility to let him know she was getting snowed in and wouldn't be there until the next day. I left my sister's anxious and crushed that I was going home to an apartment empty of all but canine companionship.  I felt sorry for myself and engaged in self pity.  A pity party isn't very festive. As I drove home the snow started to let up and the streets had yet to ice.  So I pulled into the parking lot of the memory care facility and went to visit my Dad.

I found him sitting in the day room with his back to the TV staring into space. My heart sank wondering if this visit would be a repeat of Saturday's.  I silently prayed for God to help me do the right thing and be obedient by serving my Dad.  He had just hung up the phone from talking with Helen. I wheeled him down to his room. He looked at me and clearly said "stick around."  I pulled a chair up to his and patted his hands.  We had one of the clearest conversations I've had with him since he moved in. We talked for a bit. He realized it was Christmas. I opened the window shade and let him see the snow. He got quiet for a minute.  Then he asked me to call my brother Wes.  So we did. Then we called my sister, Nancy. Then, my brother Kim. Then he wanted to talk to Brent. Then it was Kae who was visiting her son in Georgia.  Finally, we called Helen and Kristy and talked to them a second time.  I ended up staying for nearly two and a half hours.

Around four thirty the attendant came to take him to dinner. Even though I live close to his facility a single mile can be treacherous if it is an icy one.  I left far more joyous than when I came in.  The Lord had different yet far better plans for me this Christmas. He blessed me with some time of clarity with my eighty seven year old Dad.  I'll always be grateful for the grace of a loving Savior on this day--His day really.  For without His Incarnation there would be no Christmas and no hope. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Electronic Cigarette Religion

My sister is trying to quit smoking. She's been at for about four months.  She's using an electronic cigarette where you can reduce the amount of nicotine gradually until you are basically down to water vapor. That's the point she's at now.  The only thing left to conquer is the feel and the gestures of smoking a cigarette. She's getting none of the tar, nicotine and whatever else they add into the tobacco. The electronic cigarette has the shape and feel of a real one but the resemblance stops there.

I was thinking about some people's religion.  It's like that electronic cigarette with very little truth or Holy Spirit power. Some of it is totally devoid of truth and the Spirit.  It's a powerless and anemic religion with the outer trappings or appearance of true religion but there is no essence of biblical Christianity.  II Timothy 3: 5 speaks of men who hold to a form of religion although they deny its power.  Ryrie says of this verse: "Having the outer semblance of it without its spiritual dynamic."  I've grateful that the electronic cigarette has helped my sister to quit her smoking habit. It is a deadly one for sure. The less the nicotine and tar in the electronic cigarette the better it is for you. The reverse is true with religion.  The mere outer appearance of religion is not good for you. In fact a form of godliness without the true power of the Holy Spirit is deadly--eternally so.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Dog Roll

I have two dogs Kellie and Spirit. Kellie is a small black dog and Spirit a medium white and tan dog. Spirit has a bad habit of ferreting out dead worms or deceased bugs out of the lawn. She grabs them with her front teeth and then lays them down on the grass.  I know the next step by heart. She drops her shoulder and rolls onto her back. Of course, she's on top of the smelly dead thing and for whatever reason in a dog's heart, she's content. In fact, the smellier the better. That the white and tan dog likes to roll in the dark and dirty stuff doesn't seem fair or right to me.

Today when it happened I was a bit frustrated with her long standing habit.  In fact, I got pretty exasperated until I remembered that I do the same thing.  Only my habit isn't rolling around on dead bugs. It's habitual sin.  Thinking and doing things I know don't glorify the Lord or edify others.  I roll around for a long time before I quit too.  Invariably I do my own form of shoulder dive and then I'm in a mess of sin and flesh.  So the next time Spirit takes a roll, hopefully it will remind me of any sin in my life and the need to get up and ask for forgiveness, repent and drop my shoulder a little less frequently.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Still Small Voice

I went to a friend's house today who lives in the country...or at least what this city girl calls the country.  In the past she met me at a gasoline station just of I-35 South and led me to her house. Yes, I'm old now and it's just easier that way.  However today she called me on my cell phone and told me to take the lead.  Frankly, I wasn't exactly sure how that was going to work since I had no way of knowing how to get to her place.  No clue.  But I pulled out and headed down the road. I'm nothing if not willing to comply with a known and respected authority.  She wanted me to lead so I can learn for myself the way to her house. It was time to push the eaglet out of the nest so to speak.

 She never left her position behind me. I checked my rear view mirror a few times to make sure.  She kept me on the phone--speaker phone--hands free speaker phone for any officers reading this. Or even a judge. She was right about any growing confidence as I pulled up into her driveway.  I am better able to find my way to her house now.  I'm not sure I'm totally confident I can make it on my own but my driving in front with her guidance helped immensely. 

I think the Holy Spirit does the same thing in our lives. Initially as we learn something new from the Lord the Spirit is more likely to guide very specifically and directly through His Word, the counsel of godly people and the confluence of circumstances.  As time goes on, He may move to the back so to speak and let our faith and confidence grow in Him. He never leaves us. He is in constant communication if we ask Him.  His goal is for us to grow in grace and look a little more like Jesus Christ when we get to the end of the road. 

Personal Update

I solicit your prayers as I endeavor to take EVERY thought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ.  It's been a rough couple of days for me.   Also I'm looking for some fellowship time with believers especially during the first two weeks of January.  If you are free, let me know. Thanks.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tip of the Blue Flame

I was talking to a friend earlier today who is undergoing some deep challenges.  She said that she recently told her husband they were in the blue tip of the flame. I asked her to explain that. She said that the blue tip of a flame is the very hottest part.  When God puts us in the refiners fire He sometimes sets us right on the tip of the blue flame. I have to admit I kind of feel in the same spot.  I can't remember a time as a believer in Jesus Christ that my personal sanctification has so hard and my circumstances so trying.  Jesus says He is returning for a holy and blameless church. And yes, it's been 2000 years since His First Advent.  But may be we are close to His Second. He is refining His bride to be ready to meet their Groom.  I could be wrong but it is a thought.

Regardless of when He comes back, God's goal for us all is to reflect His Son.  He'll do whatever it takes to ensure that happens.  Sometimes it means to turn up the heat in our lives so He can shave off the dross.  It's not a fun process ever but it is a worthy one.  I've been plenty discouraged this past few months. But God has been faithful to raise up His people to come alongside and encourage me through them to pursue the high call of Jesus Christ. I am much better than I was four months ago and I have to keep that perspective in the forefront of my mind.  If not, I fall easily into despair. Regardless of the reason the tip of the blue flame won't last forever but the results of it will. For that I am grateful.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


I used to get very frustrated and irritated if my day didn't go as I planned. Gratefully the Lord is working on me with that.  I wrote a week or so ago about the day to be His to order and provide. Today very little went as I had planned but the Lord worked all things together for even greater glory I believe. Instead of working all afternoon at my church I had the opportunity to visit a sick friend.  I thought I was going to play Mexican Train and then have dinner at my parent's church. Instead we took the dinner home and I helped get ready for a party / bridge game the next day.

I'm learning to plan yet hold those plans with a loose grip.  There are times during my day when I simply ask the Lord what would you have me do next? I did that this evening and I ended up making cookies for some friends. I hadn't done that in a long time but I thought it might bless them if I did so.  I didn't realize just how self reliant I was before this summer.  I just couldn't see that I was on the throne far more often than the Lord.  It's been a harsh chastening but a necessary one. I am grateful. 

I don't want to be a mystic about the will of God but I do think He shows us our way.  Our steps are established by the Lord. He is near enough to hold our hand when we fall so we don't hurl headlong.  He is a very present help in times of trouble. He promises never to leave nor forsake us.  He is with us even to the end of the world.  I don't think it a bad thing to as His guidance as we go through our day and watch for the direction of His hand.  Again, don't read that as mysticism.  Just acknowledge it as a sovereign, loving and good God directing our ways. His Word says He delights in our ways when we are obedient to do what He reveals to us in His Word.  I long for the Lord to delight in me!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Idolatry of Privacy and Individualism

I'm reading a book by Elyse Fitzpatrick called "Because He Loves Me." I finished chapter 11 today. She stated quite emphatically that American individualism and the yen for privacy flies in the face of true biblical fellowship.  To quote her: "This idolatry of privacy and individualism is one of the greatest detriments to sanctification in the church today." Her point is that the American church for the most part is as much a "tourist stop" as a church in many instances. People come for a visit on Sunday and are gone for another week.  People rarely get together and share lives including struggles with sin, expected accountability and frequent confrontation and exhortation. I believe that my church is one of the rare exceptions but even it can grow in this area.

We need to have people in our lives who know our struggles and are willing to speak the radical truths of the Bible into our lives.  To quote Fitzpatrick again: "Maturity in Christ does not occur because we attend Bible Studies. Maturity in Christ occurs when, by the Spirit and in God's grace, our brothers and sisters take biblical truth and apply it lovingly, patiently, boldly to our hearts."  I've been a Christian for 33 years and I dare say only now do I have people in my life willing to do this.  And that number is small. But I praise God for them.  God calls us a family and intends for us to live like one. Our American culture esteems the "self made" man, the "rugged individualist" and other such beliefs that are simply killing orthodox Christianity. In fact, when missionaries come to the States they are often appalled.  I've heard some say they wouldn't want to life here in the U.S. because the temptations are too great to be self reliant.

We need to take an account of ourselves with the new year looming. Are we more activity or people directed?  Are there close friends with whom we could share any struggle with sin?  Even the hidden ones?  Are we willing to open our lives to the inspection of others?  Are we willing to be so self sacrificial as to help others grow in the Lord Jesus Christ?  Just what are our priorities?  To be honest I fall way short.  But the place to start is by confession and repentance. I am far off where I'd like to be but I can start moving in the right direction tonight.  How about you?

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Bug in My Ear

Saturday night I got a bug in my ear.  No one made any suggestions or reminded me about some future event. I mean a little bug, a flying kind. One that flew in my right ear and flitted in my ear canal for what seemed an eternity. I think I'd rather have a bee in my bonnet than a bug in my ear. A friend and I had just returned from a wedding. As I opened my apartment door the little critter flew in my ear.  What are the odds of that?  He kept flying. I could feel his wings flutter against my ear canal.  Creepy pure and simple.  I didn't know exactly what to do.  I did know not to push him with a Q-tip or something dumb like that. Later I learned from the nurse to drown him in olive oil.  I'll remember that for next time.

I headed to a medical care center down the street to find it deserted.  It was 8:22 p.m. and they closed at 6 .p.m.  I called a friend and asked she check her computer to see if another care center fairly close to me was still open. She told me it closed at 8 p.m.  I headed to the small USMD Hospital near my apartment. They had the smallest ER I've ever seen. MASH had a bigger tent than this.  I plopped down on the gurney and told the nurse I had a bug in my ear.  She remained nonplussed. Perhaps I wasn't the first. 

When the doctor came in, he told me to tilt my head so he could look inside my ear. I did. He took a cursory glance. It didn't hurt at all.  He mumbled something about not being able to see the ear canal.  Before I could ask him to clarify he grabbed an instrument that seemed to be about 20 feet long. He grabbed my chin turning my ear toward him.  He thrust the probe into my ear. It hurt.  Like for sure.  I really do think he went to the ear drum.  He pulled it out and reinserted it again. Again, it hurt. Like for sure. Finally satisfied, he got an irrigation kit and rinsed the little bugger outta there.  I was greatly relieved that I wasn't  going to sleep with any unwanted guests in my bedroom.  Creepy pure and simple. 

The probe instrument hurt way more than the little insect.  It kind of reminded me of sin and God's chastening.  We might know we have a problem. Yes it causes some discomfort but we are content to leave it like it is. I might have let the bug stay longer if it just didn't flutter in my ear canal.  But God the Great Physician reaches in with a long and pinpoint probe to grab whatever shouldn't be there.  His Word calls it sin.  It hurts at first. Sometimes it hurts a lot.  Yet God knows what's best.  Just like an insect doesn't belong in my ear canal, neither does sin belong in a believer's life.

I left the hospital with two prescriptions for ear drops. One was for pain and the other for an antibiotic.  I didn't have much gas in my car and the 24 hour pharmacy was a ways away. By them my ear didn't hurt as badly.  I decided to come home to sleep. The next morning the pain was gone and the threat of infection very slight.  As much as it hurt to be probed and irrigated I was grateful for the doctor.  When the Holy Spirit cleanses me of my sin and unbelief, I pray I am as grateful as I was to have that bug gone.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Supporting Branch

As was driving to church this morning I passed a schoolyard with bushes surrounding the fence.  I spied a somewhat common scene of a tall shrub with a rubberized band around one branch holding up a smaller weaker one.  It reminded me of how we often are called to do the same thing in the church.  A weaker brother or sister needs someone to hold them up for awhile while they pass through a crisis.  God places a strong piece of rubber to tie the weaker branch to the stronger one sometimes for a very long time.  As the weaker branch grows, eventually it no longer needs such intense support. 

It is similar to the story in the Book of Exodus when Moses needed Hur and Aaron to hold up his arms as the Israelites battled the Amalekites. Exodus 17: 12 reads: "But Moses' hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set."  When Moses's arms were up then the Israelites were winning the battle. If he dropped them, they started to lose.  So God raised up Aaron and Hur to enable him to raise his arms at all times and the Amalekites were defeated. 

There are many instances in Scripture when the one another commands indict us to come alongside a weaker sibling and help support them.  It is such a time for me right now. I am so very grateful for the men and women who have allowed God to join my sagging branch to their stronger and sturdier one for a time of healing and growth.  At some point I'll no longer need the rubberized band connecting me to the branches.  Perhaps I'll be able for the Lord to tie a weaker branch to mine some day.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A "Sanctification" Bike

I was driving down Bellaire Drive South and saw what was for me a "one of a kind" bicycle. It wasn't a normal tandem bike because it had three wheels in a row.  Dad was riding up front on what appeared to be a normal two wheel bike. His daughter's "bike" frame was attached to the Dad's bike frame.  She was peddling normally but the front tire was missing. Her frame was somehow attached to the frame of her Dad's bike. I don't know what happened if she stopped peddling. I assume it increased Dad's load quite a bit.  Yet she could not move without the help of her Father.

It reminded of the sanctification process. Somehow the Spirit and we are responsible for the growth in holiness. It's hard to determine where grace ends and obedience begins.  The two were so meshed together that only in tandem with practiced coordination was movement possible.  The same is true with our growth in holiness. It is both a work of the Spirit but we are also called to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.  All analogies fall short when it comes to describing theological constructions but I must admit that this one did a pretty good job.  We are conjoined with the Spirit at the point of salvation. He is a very real part of our becoming more like Jesus.   Yet we are responsible to trust and obey what God commands so our "peddling" if you will is critical.  Only with smooth coordination can you get anywhere.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Maranatha Lord Jesus

With the events of today it is difficult to find encouraging words to say.  I chose the title Maranatha Lord Jesus which basically means "Come Quickly Lord Jesus." That's not just wishful thinking on two counts. First, He has promised to return and it is good and right to long for the righteous reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. Second, a related thought is that one day evil will end when God has created the new heavens and the new earth.  Events like today help everyone in the nation define what evil looks like.   Just like on 9/11 when the twin towers went down.  Nearly everyone agreed that such an event was a horrible blight.  The vast majority of people believe that man is basically good. Orthodox Christianity claims that man is depraved and a sinner at heart.  Only the rejuvenating work of the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ enables a person to do any good.  And all the glory for that goes to the Lord.

It's a sobering day for believer and non believer alike.  Unfortunately it seems like these tragedies are coming quicker and are more horrific.  Multiple murders were once so rare and now are commonplace.  We humans have no answer to such evil outside of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is to Christ we must turn.  It is in Him we must hope. It is in Him we must trust.  Marantha Lord Jesus...

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Work Unto the Lord

I've been reading a pamphlet about work from a Christian perspective.  Work may seem so mundane and regular, so normal that we don't really think through the workplace from a believer's perspective.  John 6: 27 indicts us to "Labor not for the meat which perisheth but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life."  (KJV).  To recognize the reasons behind work can deeply affect our attitudes toward work and our attitudes at work.  The pamphlet written by Ministry in the Marketplace quotes two reasons to work: 1) God commands it and 2) it is an environment where the Christian can represent His Lord.  God may provide for our needs through our jobs but it is He who provides.  If we get that confused then we may manipulate people on the job more than we minister to them.

The booklet cautions against letting your job become your identity. God never intended for that to happen.  Our sense of worth is found only in relation to God.  We are created in the image of God and He has decreed that those belonging to Him are of eternal worth.  It is our being part of the family of God that gives us significance not how much money we make, what kind of job we hold or not even in the gifting God has given us.  God calls us to work as unto Him. We work hard and with integrity but not to be fulfilled. We are to find our satisfaction only in Jesus Christ. Believers are encouraged to have a healthy dependence on God especially when it comes to work.  It is so easy in our western culture to make making a living an idol.  God alone deserves our worship. A wise person distinguishes between working as unto the Lord and working as though it were the Lord. The first glorifies God, the second usurps Him. 

The UPS Truck

Yesterday I was driving down Bryant Irvin Road and there was construction which narrowed the road to one lane. A UPS truck was in the parking lot of a local assisted living facility.  When he came up the driveway I immediately stopped and let him in ahead of me. As I did I wondered why.  It had to do with the UPS reputation.  They are known for being on time and frankly for their hustle. Those people are always moving and moving fast.  I guess in some small way I wanted to help them maintain what they had worked so hard to achieve.

It got me thinking about my reputation and more importantly God's.  I wondered what people think of me and if they know that I am a believer.  Just how do they see me?  Am I a hypocrite?  An angry jerk? A despairing worldling?  How people view us often determines how they respond to us.  Then I thought about God.  The most important issue we will ever face is what we believe about God and more specifically His Son.  What is His reputation in our eyes?  It is a most worthy consideration especially at this time of the year.  It could determine your eternal destiny.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


The residents at the assisted living center play bingo twice a week.  A couple of them do something interesting. When a number is called, they move the chips that cover the numbers that have already been called.  I'm not sure why but it is a bit frustrating because all the chips get moved. It's hard to remember which numbers have been called and which haven't.  It reminded me today of what I sometimes do with God's promises and my prayers. I move the chips so to speak. I somehow need to check to make sure that I covered the right thing in the right way.  I'm not saying that we don't linger and pray repeatedly about things but if God has said something in His Word--it's covered. I need not lift the chip.

God's Word is reliable, true and eternal. We don't need to keep checking to see it it has changed somehow. It can't and thus it won't.  Isaiah 40:8: "The grass withers, the flower fades but the word of our God stands forever."  Someone once said that there are very few things that are eternal.  The Word of God, God Himself and people.  Everything else will be destroyed and some of it recreated.  It might then behoove us all to place our priorities where God places His.  That is on His Word, His character and people.  BINGO.

Monday, December 10, 2012

God's Sovereignty

I was thinking about and thanking the Lord for His sovereign rule over creation when it was warm and toasty outside. This morning when I woke up to snow on my car and a howling north wind the murmuring began.  I dragged my arthritic body out of bed and into a hot shower. I was grateful for the grace of not only hot water, but an electric blanket to boot.  Why is it that we tend to be more grateful when we get what we want than when things don't go exactly as we like them to or as we planned?  God gives both the summer and the winter. It is part of His divine design so why do we grumble? 

I got dressed in some of my warmest clothes and took the dogs for a walk.  They were jazzed to say the least--especially Spirit. She loves the cold. Kellie runs out does her business and heads back to the warmth of her bed. As we walked I thanked the Lord for the beautiful, clear, crisp day.  Even as I cleaned the snow off my car, I was able to praise Him.  My joints hurt more and it was very cold, but I've been trying to memorize Job 23: 13-14: "But He is unique and who can turn Him? And what His soul desires, that He does for He performs what is appointed for me, and many such decrees are with Him."

Matthew Henry says of these verses:
1. That God's counsels are immutable: He is in one mind, and who can turn him? He is one (so some read it) or in one; he has no counsellors by whose interest he might be prevailed with to alter his purpose: he has no counsellors by whose interest he might be prevailed with to alter his purpose: he is one with himself, and never alters his mind, never alters his measures. Prayer has prevailed to change God's way and his providence, but never was his will or purpose changed; for known unto God are all his works.

 2. That his power is irresistible: What his soul desires or designs even that he does, and nothing can stand in his way or put him upon new counsels. Men desire many things which they may not do, or cannot do, or dare not do. But God has an incontestable sovereignty; his will is so perfectly pure and right that it is highly fit he should pursue all its determinations. And he has an uncontrollable power. None can stay his hand. Whatever the Lord pleased that did he (Psalms 135:6), and always will, for it is always best.

3. That all he does is according to the counsel of his will (Job 23:14): He performs the thing that is appointed for me. Whatever happens to us, it is God that performs it (Psalms 57:2), and an admirable performance the whole will appear to be when the mystery of God shall be finished. He performs all that, and that only, which was appointed, and in the appointed time and method. This may silence us, for what is appointed cannot be altered. But to consider that, when God was appointing us to eternal life and glory as our end, he was appointing to this condition, this affliction, whatever it is, in our way, this may do more than silence us, it may satisfy us that it is all for the best; though what he does we know not now, yet we shall know hereafter.

4. That all he does is according to the custom of his providence: Many such things are with him, that is, He does many things in the course of his providence which we can give no account of, but must resolve into his absolute sovereignty. Whatever trouble we are in others have been in the like. Our case is not singular; the same afflictions are accomplished in our brethren, 1 Peter 5:9. Are we sick or sore, impoverished and stripped? Are our children removed by death or our friends unkind? This is what God has appointed for us, and many such things are with him. Shall the earth be forsaken for us?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

God's Providence Over A Bike Helmet

Yesterday I went to Walmart with some residents of the facility where I volunteer.  The Activities Coordinator (AC) took us in a bus and away we went to Walmart in Benbrook. It's a bit of a challenge keeping track of all the residents--one stay at home resident says it's like herding cats (ahem). Anyway, they all shop and we help them find what they need. The AC wanted to find a very specific bike helmet described to her by one of her grandsons.  Who can resist that request? She forgot all about it until we were heading back to the facility.  Unfortunately one of the ladies fell on the sidewalk of the store. We left one employee who had to fill out a bunch of paperwork and took everyone else back for lunch.

The AC and I got all the residents settled in at home and went back to Walmart.  She asked me if Walmart sold golf putters. I told her I thought they did. We found the other employee and headed for the Sporting Goods section. They did not sell individual clubs but laying atop one of the boxes containing some golf clubs was the absolutely perfect bike helmet. In fact, it was precisely as her grandson had described it.  The AC picked it up, looked directly at me and said "Look what God provided today in spite of all the trials."  We went down the helmet aisle and didn't see another one like it. I had to agree that God's providence stretches to bike helmets. I bet there is going to be one little boy on Christmas grateful that it does!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Chaotic House

A friend's house is in chaos right now for a variety of reasons.  She's working ardently to clean and organize the mess. It's not unlike the messy desk I blogged about a few days ago.  She mentioned something interesting today.  There are things that just go much smoother when someone else helps. She's used to doing things alone. I've encouraged her to ask for help from others. She's been more willing lately. Yesterday I had a chance to go help her. Not only did things go smoother but faster and with a bit more fun.  Afterward we ended up going to dinner at Fuzzy Taco's which was a treat for us both. Then we drove over to see the synchronized Christmas light show.

I've written about the need to accomplish the "one anothers" in other people's lives.  Sometimes we have to ask for help.  That's certainly true in terms of spiritual growth in holiness. We can't do it alone. God never intended for us to do it alone.  In fact, He gave us a church family, our local church home, to come along side and help each other.  I know how grateful I am for those who have come alongside me during my recent time of crisis.  I don't truly know what I would have done without them.  We all have areas of our lives that are chaotic and places we need the loving reprove from other believers.  It's nothing to be ashamed about but rather something we should embrace. One of God's means of grace is the local body.  Make sure you have one and make sure you are involved in one another's lives.  It's a great way to keep your house clean.Your spiritual house that is...

Friday, December 7, 2012

To Order and Provide

As I continue to walk in light of a very difficult time I am playing hymns almost continuously throughout my day.  One of my favorites is "Be Still, My Soul".  There's a line that goes: "Leave to thy God to order and provide."  I have taken those words to heart. Throughout my day I am asking Him to order and provide moment by moment. It is amazing to me how much He will do if we but let Him. I have been so self-sufficient, self-reliant, self-focused for so long it's a new but wondrous concept to me.  The next line in the hymn is "In every change he faithful will remain."  When I think about all He does in my past, I am less anxious about my future and even my present.  He will be faithful as my circumstances vary and I pass through various stages of life.

The second stanza starts: "Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake to guide the future as He has the past."  Again I dwell on this truth rather than the lies I so often have told myself.  Another concept brought out in many hymns is that of Jesus being our Friend. He calls Himself our friend in the Scripture but in all honesty I rarely see Him as my friend. It's helped to bring me some joy to think of the Savior as my Redeemer and my Friend.  And as the hymn states He is "thy best, they heavenly, Friend."  What more do we need.  I would challenge all of us to be cognizant of God ordering and providing for us through the day.  Not in some distant or removed sense but that "He is a very present help in times of trouble".  We can be still and know that He is God.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Extra Mile

There are times in our lives when it pleases the Lord for us to "go the extra mile," "do the added thing", "make the extra effort" or whatever you want to call it.  Today I had such an opportunity. One of the women where I volunteer needed photocopies of some documents that would take a long time to xerox.  I quickly offered to help even though I was running short on time. By the grace of God I wasn't running short on patience.  Besides I used to work for the governmental program for which she needed the information. I understood firsthand what it may mean to her if she didn't have what the program required. It could have impeded the medical coverage for her sick child.  So knowing all that made it easier to make the small sacrifice of time and effort.

I found out that today was her last day of work at this particular facility. She's transferring to Plano and so her getting the documents seemed even more critical.  The Lord was most gracious to allow me to help her and still have plenty of time for other commitments I made for today.  Often the Lord does make the time stretch and things work out well. Sometimes it doesn't work out so well and yet pleasing Him by serving others is what we should do.  It can be the small things that make huge differences in people's lives. I pray that from now on I'm more open to seeing opportunities to serve the Lord by serving others and going the extra mile.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

God's Faithfulness

God tells us that He is an ever present help in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1).

Psalm 102 states: 
Hear my prayer, O LORD ! And let my cry for help come to You. 2 Do not hide Your face from me in the day of my distress ; Incline Your ear to me; In the day when I call answer me quickly. 3 For my days have been consumed in smoke, And my bones have been scorched like a hearth. 4 My heart has been smitten like grass and has withered away, Indeed, I forget to eat my bread. Because of the loudness of my groaning My bones cling to my flesh. 6 I resemble a pelican of the wilderness ; I have become like an owl of the waste places. 7 I lie awake, I have become like a lonely bird on a housetop. 8 My enemies have reproached me all day long; Those who deride me have used my name as a curse. 9 For I have eaten ashes like bread And mingled my drink with weeping 10 Because of Your indignation and Your wrath, For You have lifted me up and cast me away. 11 My days are like a lengthened shadow, And I wither away like grass. 12 But You, O LORD, abide forever, And Your name to all generations. 13 You will arise and have compassion on Zion ; For it is time to be gracious to her, For the appointed time has come.

God may allow distress and heartache for a short time but He is faithful to answer, to arise and have compassion on Zion.  At the appointed time He will be gracious to her.  His plan and His will is perfect.

Synchronized Lighting

Tonight I saw four houses in my parents' neighborhood with synchronized lighting. When we pulled up to the houses we dialed our radio to 95.5 which plays music. The lights on the house flash in incredible sequences to the music. It lasted about 13 minutes and was an incredible display of computer technology, human ingenuity and I'm sure tremendous coordination  requiring much planning. One of the residents explained that they start to set up the lights in September and all that was involved in order for the display to be working by Thanksgiving. It was a bit overwhelming to me to think of it.  There were huge candy canes, reindeer, and a variety of lights that looked like fireworks.

As I watched I thought of the sovereignty of God.  I was watching a light show synchronized to music that involved four houses in Fort Worth, TX.  Again it was an impressive display.  But God knows the number of hairs on the head of every person alive. He is sustaining the very universes daily. He has redemptive history in His hands and sent His Son born of a Virgin at a time 2000 years ago.  He decreed the Cross of Christ for the salvation of the elect. He knows precisely when Christ will return for His own.  He decrees all of history and puts some kings on the throne while removing other leaders from their positions. He is in abject control of all that happens. As Dr. Sproul says: "There is not a random molecule in the universe."  Synchronized was impressive but sovereignty is absolutely awesome.   

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Messy Drawer

This morning I had the task of cleaning out a very messy drawer in the nurses' office where I volunteer.  There was everything in there including a razor, index tabs, file folders, lab bags, butterfly bandage kits and even a left over grape that had petrified. At least I think it was a grape. The drawer was a regular Fibber McKee's closet.  Scared me just to plow through it.  Nurses' offices scare me a bit in general.  Anyway, as I sorted through all the stuff I thought about the sanctification of a believer.  Sanctification is the process that follows justification. Justification is how a sinner becomes born again as an act of God alone by faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.  As a believer is sanctified through obedience and by the power of the Holy Spirit she resembles the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ a bit more as life goes on.

In the drawer, just like in our lives, some things have to be tossed out completely. They can't be sanctified, made better, or used for any purpose any longer.  Other things have to be cleaned up and organized.  In the believer's life there is much cleaning up to do. The process of becoming holy is hard and arduous.  But God has promised to complete the work until the day of Jesus Christ (Phil 1:6).  Cleaning the drawer took a while to make it efficiently usable to the nurses again.  It takes a while to make us viably usable in the Redeemer's hand too.  While the drawer isn't perfect, it is a far sight better than when I started to organize it.  So it is with us.  We will never be perfect this side of heaven but in the Father's hands we can be used mightily to bring Him glory and do His kingdom work.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Three Trees

Last spring I went through a DVD series by Timothy Lane and Paul David Tripp called "How Christ Changes Us by His Grace: How People Change."  They presented a diagram of three trees.  The first tree is filled with thorns and thistles which represent our sins.  It is the bad fruit in our lives.  The root of the tree is some form of lust, fear or unbelief.  The second tree is the Cross. Here the authors encourage us to ask ourselves who God is and what His Word says about our specific sin issue.  What did God do through and in Christ that can set us free to move to the third tree, the good fruit tree. The root of the good tree according to Lane and Tripp is "to seek God in repentance and faith."  From this tree flows the fruit of the Holy Spirit which includes love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.

When I was walking the dogs earlier this evening I saw this paradigm in real life.  There were two trees near my apartment.  One that was bare of any leaves or fruit. It was prickly and thorny.  Another tree was near with its leaves still intact(crazy warm weather?) were still there.  The fruit of the tree, huge acorns, (it was such a small tree what's up with that you botanists out there?) were still attached.  In my mind's eye I filled in the third tree which is the Cross of Jesus Christ. It is only because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that anyone can move from the tree with the bad fruit and root and be transformed into the good fruit and root of the other tree.  We sinners should be most grateful for that second tree where Christ was crucified that we might live eternally. It was there He paid the penalty for sin and broke the power of sin in the life of every one who comes to believe in Him.  He alone is worthy to be praised for His glorious grace.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Taking Every Thought Captive

C. J. Mahoney delivered a sermon about how we should preach more to ourselves and listen less.  The person who talks to us the most, he says, is ourselves. It's a radical concept to me because I have spent so many years listening to the "old man" or my "flesh."  I haven't brought the Word of God to my own heart very well. The consequences have been disastrous but I'm repenting and changing even though it's just a baby step at a time.  This whole concept is critical to the Christian walk. For some reason until I came to my current church I really didn't know that it was necessary.  The battleground in the Christian life is the mind.  Actually it begins in the heart but the engagement of forces is most felt intellectually. The enemy and our flesh fights against the truth because unbelief is the basis of all sin.

It is so important to all believers to think and react biblically.  As someone who has claimed to be a believer for over 30 years, not thinking biblically has brought about some hard consequences.  I pray that all churches are teaching young believers to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. I know my church is doing so and I am very grateful.  It is true that "as a man thinketh so is he." We must proclaim the Gospel of Christ to our hearts throughout the day and be grateful for the flow of grace that comes into our lives moment by moment. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Looking for the Lost

I volunteer at a local senior living facility and every week we make a trip to Walmart or Target. Usually there are 7 or 8 residents who go and two staff members and me. When we get at the store we decide on a time to rejoin and a place.  It's usually at an eatery inside the facility. Today we went to Target which actually has two places to sit and eat or at least drink.  I quickly forgot about the place to drink of them.  About an hour and and a half later we were gathered at the eatery and I did a head count. One of the elderly residents was missing.  Panic gripped my heart. I shot a look at the maintenance supervisor who had come with us and he jumped to his feet. "Who is it?" he mouthed and I told him. We scoured the store looking for her.  I prayed. I don't know if he did or not.  I was reminded of the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. Once again I was reminded of just a bit what it feels like to lose something of tremendous value. All your attention is focused until it's found.  I pondered the love of the Savior for His lost chosen ones.

When we got back nearly to where we started in the store, I remembered that there was a smaller area for coffee drinkers. I poked my head in and there she was sitting peacefully waiting for someone to help her check out.  Obviously we were all relieved.  How precious it is that God seeks us even when we don't seek Him.  In fact, He seeks us even when we are His enemies. Romans 5: 10-11 states: "For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.  And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation."  Amazing Grace says: I once we were lost but now I'm found. Amazing Grace indeed.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Do Unto Others

This evening I sat at a local fast food restaurant when a man walked in who looked like he might have been homeless.  First he came in to use the restroom and left. He returned a few minutes later. He walked up to the counter and asked for the cheapest item on the menu.  The cashier was very courteous to him as she answered his question. He pulled out some change from his pocket and held it out to her.  She took it and told him she'd be right back. She walked over and discussed the issue with the manager.  He reached over and prepared a meal that would have been over $5.00--much more change than he presented. The cashier brought him the meal in a sack. He thanked her profusely, waved and nodded at the manager and left. I walked out at the same time and watched as he hopped on an older bike and rode off literally towards the sunset.  I lost view of him quickly. It was clear that this was no sham.

I thought to myself as I got into my car what a blessing it was to watch a biblical command play out before me. Luke 6: 31 states: "Treat others the same way you want them to treat you."  Whether the employees were knowingly fulfilling the biblical command or not, the result was the same. I and others around were encouraged and a hungry and perhaps homeless man had a nice hot meal. Hopefully the employees rest much easier tonight when their heads hit the pillow. Sometimes it is the little things, those that seem so insignificant, that matter the most, isn't it?  

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Exceeding Abundantly Beyond

This afternoon I helped a friend put together a very abundant gift from her and her husband to a couple who was leaving town for a days.  I was overwhelmed by everything included to make a long weekend a most enjoyable and memorable one.  In fact, the gifts fit nicely into three different size baskets.  As I watched my friend pack the goodies, I was reminded of Paul's words in Ephesians.  These physical gifts were lovely, and exceedingly abundantly beyond what was necessary. It was a loving act from one couple to another full of pleasant surprises.  The gift was jam-packed with things that brought great pleasure  What a teeny weeny microscopic picture of what Paul means when he speaks of God being able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that they we ask or think. 

Ephesians 3: 20 and 21 read: "Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen."  The power Paul refers to is that of the Holy Spirit. John MacArthur writes: "When the conditions of verses 16 to 19 are met, God's power working in and through believers is unlimited and far beyond their comprehension."  A life fully surrendered to the knowing Jesus Christ in His fullness (which we can never do) will be overflowing with an abundance of God's power. My Associate Pastor signs his emails; "Because Jesus is better".  I agree totally. Jesus is better. In fact, Jesus is best. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Words, Words and More Words

On Wednesday afternoons I help work in my church library and bookstore. It's a small church and thus a small library. In fact, it's a room about 10 feet by 10 feet. Today I continued to inventory what was on the shelves.  There was one author of books for juveniles that had written 51 different volumes. I was amazed at his verbosity.  I scanned the room and saw hundreds of books scattered throughout the shelves.  I pondered briefly how many words were contained in all the books in the room. There has to be thousands of them.  It got me to thinking about the power of words.  God has given us a very powerful tool in language. 

Both the written and spoken word have vast impact upon people's lives. Proverbs 18: 20a says:  "Death and life are in the power of the tongue". James 3: 8 to 12 states about the tongue: "But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; 10 from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. 11 Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh."

There are millions of books about human life. There is only one book that contain the words of eternal life. It's the Bible.  It was written not by men but God who superintended its writing.  That the Bible was inspired by God is a concept that's very difficult for the world to accept. People's  rejection doesn't mean it isn't true.  The Bible alone has the power to convict, comfort, console, and change lives forever. Hebrews 4:12 states:  "For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart."  Dr. Ryrie states in his note on this verse that: "It has the power to reach to the inmost parts of one's personality and to judge the innermost hearts."  The Word of God is mighty just like its author.  They world is full of millions and millions of words. But there is only One Word of God.  Read it sometime. It just might change your life--your eternal life that is.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Sin Which So Easily Entangles Us

I spent the day helping decorate my church for Christmas. (I almost wrote "the holidays" but just couldn't do it.  There is something sacred about the term CHRISTmas). One of my many "grunt" jobs was to untangle two 8 to 10 foot long garlands and "de-light" them. No I wasn't trying to make inanimate objects happy.   I was trying to undo miniature lights which were intertwined in the garland. I sat there for nearly 45 minutes separating the lights from the garland which so tightly held them.  As I worked I pondered the verse in Hebrews 12: 1: "Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us..." 

Those lights reminded me of the sin that so EASILY entangles us.  Given the past few months of my life I could affirm the truth of how easy it is for sin to entangle us.  Oh how we must guard our hearts.  Proverbs 4: 23 commands us to: "Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life."
How easily our hearts turn to broken cisterns and idols of its own making. We forsake the Lord and worship the creature instead of the Creator. Sometimes that worship takes the form of worshipping ourselves. We want our own puny, pitiful glory forsaking Him whose glory is eternal, magnificent and certainly worthy of every human being's worship and praise. 

When I finally finished untangling all those lights, I realized what a wonderful object lesson the Lord had just taught me. I had a "visual" as some people say. I better grasped just how deadly it is to our walk with the Lord.  I was also reminded of a passage I committed to memory this week. James 1: 13 to 16: 13 "Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren."  This week my pastor shared with me a list of what kinds of "death" occurs as a result of sin.  Some of the consequences I've experienced lately.  It's been very difficult but gratefully with death comes the potential of resurrection.  It is simply best to guard your heart with all diligence and avoid the sin that so easily entangles. As for me it may be awhile before I attempt untangling another light-filled garland. It's hard and laborious work. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Gentle and Humble in Heart

The past few months have been very difficult ones for me.  Perhaps I'll write more about that in time. For now let it suffice that the Lord's promise in Matthew 11: 28-30 is very precious to me. It reads: "Come to Me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me for I am humble and gentle in spirit.  And you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."  Unfortunately this Jesus was not the "Jesus" of my childhood, adolescence or early adulthood.  I struggle to take every thought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ and trust what God's Word says and not my prior experiences, feelings, or own thoughts. Please pray for me as I endeavor to break down some deeply strong holds my flesh and the enemy has in my life.  God has been faithful, so very faithful these past few months.  When I am faithless, He is still faithful.  For that I am very thankful.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Biblical Accountability

If you don't have any form of biblical accountability in your life, find some. If you have people willing to get deeply involved with you and bring the Word of God to bear in your life be grateful.  Modern Christians have too often bought into the American way of independence and self sufficiency.  Such is nonsense from a biblical frame of reference. I've lost count of the "one another" commands in Scripture and frankly since the time change I'm too tired to google it right now.  One of my few readers with a smart phone do that for me will you? 

In the meantime be serious to serve one another, love another, pray for one another, encourage one another, bear with one another, admonish one another, be kind to one another and perhaps submit to one another. I think you get the idea.  We can't survive alone. I tried and the results were disastrous.  Be devoted to one another in Christian love. To do that you have to make yourself available and vulnerable.  To those who came along side me throughout my life and especially in these recent months may God bless you. I mean it in the truest sense of the phrase.  It's not just a platitude. I thank God for you. 

Grateful for Hymns

As I write I'm listening to a CD of great hymns of the Christian faith. Currently "How Great Thou Art" is playing. Have you ever noticed how powerful music is in our lives?  It really does matter with what we fill our heads and hearts. I listen to hymns almost all the time I'm awake currently. I need the encouragement and it's a good way to help ensure my mind is focused in the right direction.  There is wonderfully edifying music that is more contemporary but the hymns that have survived scores of years are very valuable.  The theology is often rich and profound and a means of God's grace in our lives to draw us closer to Him. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Jesus is King

As an ex-Mormon I've had many people ask me about voting for Governor Romney who is a current member of the LDS church. My answer essentially was that the government was never intended by God to save us. Only Jesus Christ can do that. Electing a president is a serious matter and believers should take it as such. But we don't have to live in panic if "our man" didn't get elected.

I copied a friend's post on Facebook today. "No matter who is president, Jesus is King."  Romans 13: 1 tells us that "there is no authority except from God and those which exist are established by God."  God holds the future. Proverbs 21:1 states: " The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord He turns it wherever He wishes."  We need only to read the story of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel Chapter Four to realize that. God willed that the he eat grass like a beast for seven years which is exactly what happened.  Then God lifted his curse and King Nebuchadnezzar lifted his eyes toward heaven and his reason returned. He blessed the Almighty God and praised and honored the One who lives forever. 

Jesus Christ is the King of kings and Lord of lords. It is upon His shoulders that one day all government will rest.  Until then, we can know that the future is unfolding just as God decrees. May we all sleep peacefully tonight knowing that He truly does have the whole world in His hands.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Biblical Hope versus False Hope

I've been reading about biblical hope lately. It's tragic to lose hope. For now that's all I want to say about that.  Dr. Ernie Baker delineates the difference between biblical hope which leads to bountiful blessings. Living by improper hope brings diminishing benefits. As a person who has recently seen improper hope (i.e. placing hope in idols of various kinds) bring the harvest of devastation and destitution, I can readily agree to Dr. Baker's assessment.  Biblical hope is a full reliance on the trustworthiness of God.  God has repeatedly proven Himself trustworthy throughout the annals of history.  Dr. Baker mentions the Crossing of the Red Sea and Daniel in the lion's den. I recently memorized Daniel 4: 34-35 which tells us that God's purpose comes to pass regardless of anyone or anything.  His will is done in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can ward off His hand and no one can say to Him what have You done.

Improper hope often is placed in the gifts and not the Giver.  I've realized this idolatry in my life.  To seek the gift outside of proper reverence for the Giver is pure folly.  I've trusted in a false peace, other people, money, power and all manner of other broken cisterns.  As Dr. Baker stated "false hopes = false religions." I don't doubt I am a believer in Jesus but it doesn't mean my heart isn't the very idol factory that John Calvin describes as the human heart. As hard as the past months have been, and they have been very hard, I am grateful that the Lord saw fit to expose my false hopes and send them crashing. As I rebuild my "new normal" I must choose to dwell on God's promises, His ways and look to the eternal hope with its future reward. I pray that whoever reads this will avoid the sins I've committed and choose the true and lasting hope of God Himself.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Norah's Ark Update

Okay I finished the cross stitch. It didn't turn out as originally planned but I came with a bit of a different twist since the elephants, the sheep and Noah were much too hard for this beginner to tackle. That's true even if the package said it was for beginners. Just was Noah was safely carried in the Nile River in an Ark built for him to live, so is Christ the Ark for everyone who comes to faith.  II Corinthians 1: 20: "For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us."  Because we are in Christ the promises of God are all yes to believers. 

John Gill says of this passage:
These promises are all "in" Christ; with and in whom could they be but in him, since he only existed when they were made, which was from everlasting? with and in whom should they be of right, but in him with whom the covenant, which contains these promises, were made, and who undertook the accomplishment of them? where could they be safe and secure but in him, in whose hands are the persons, grace, and glory of his people? not in Adam, nor in angels, nor in themselves, only in him. Moreover, these promises are "in him yea",

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

God Keeps His Promises

I'm learning to cross stitch and one of the pieces has the phrase "God keeps His promises" stitched into it.  I've pondered that as I've worked. God who cannot lie must keep His promises. If He fails to do so, He is no longer God.  This can be both a comfort and a terror depending upon what God has vowed to accomplish.  The stitch work is of Noah and His ark.  I think that even though it is meant for the beginner, I may have to pass it by.  I intended to give it to a friend whose daughter is named Norah. I wanted to tell her it is Norah's Ark.  In fact I may just complete the ark part of the piece and name it just that. 

Back to the promises of God.  He is faithful. He cannot lie. He remains true to all that He promises. His Word is sure.  What He purposes He will do.  Such assurance should bring us a settled peace and a deep joy. If not, we need to trust Him more.  I ask that you pray I do just that.  Now back to Norah's Ark.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Trust and Obey

No, the title of the post isn't original.  It's a hymn by D.B. Towner and J. H Sammis. This hymn has become particularly precious to me in these past months.  These have been the most difficult months I've faced as a believer. I am learning the importance of trust and obedience to God and His Word.  It sounds trite but "trust" me it's not.  I pray that parents teach their children the necessity of taking their very active idol seeking heart captive to the Word of God early in life.  It's a whole lot harder to learn at 58 years of age than 58 months. While I'm at it, let me mention the vital importance of true biblical accountability in the life of every believer.  If you don't have it, find it immediately. Gather some mature believers who know your life and have the freedom to dramatically invade it if necessary. If you already have it, fall on your knees and thank God for His grace.

Here are the words to the hymn which are in the public domain.

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.


Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.


But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.


Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet.
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way.
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.



Thursday, October 25, 2012

Power and Privilege of Prayer

In the past months I've realized the power of intercessory prayer.  As one who is extremely grateful for the prayers of the saints on my behalf I encourage us to be mindful of praying for others. The Lord commands us to pray for one another. James 5:16: "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." 1 Thess. 5:17 : "Pray without ceasing"  1Tim 2:1: "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;"  Prayer for other saints and nonbelievers is indeed h a privilege. Prevailing prayer is hard work. Vance Havner stated that prayer is the hardest work of all. I appreciate all those who have toiled on my behalf.  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fullness of God's Forgiveness

"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. " I John 1: 8-9

 "And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross." Colossians 2: 13-14

The Bible is replete with God's promises to forgive those who confess their sin and repent.  The verses above are two of hundreds but they reveal the scope of God's forgiveness.  Note however, that true biblical forgiveness comes only through God's Son Jesus Christ.  God's is not a cheap grace. It may be free but it is not cheap.  When we confess known sin, He cleanses us from all unrighteousness. The Believer's Bible Commentary say of verse 9 in I John:

In order for us to walk day by day in fellowship with God and with our fellow believers, we must confess our sins: sins of commission, sins of omission, sins of throught, sins of act, secret sins, and public sins.  We must drag them out into the open before God, call them by their names, take sides with God against them, and forsake them.  Yes, true confession involves forsaking of sins. Proverbs 28:13: "He who covers His sins will not prosper; but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy."

Daniel 4: 35 The Supremacy of God

"All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, "What have You done?" 

Note here the supremacy of God.  He does all things according to His will and no one can question.  God is in control of all things not passively but actively.  His will shall come to pass. He will do it.  As Dr. Sproul says so often there are no random molecules in the universe.  Hopefully that brings us much comfort.  His supremacy and sovereignty is always joined with His goodness, grace and glory.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Born of God

Pastor Dan, The Pastor / Teacher at Calvary Bible Church where I am a member is teaching through the Gospel of John.  If he holds true to form it'll take him about 5 years to finish.  Not raggin' on my Pastor at all. I'm just sayin'.  If past experience is a good indicator of future behavior five years sounds about right.  He recently preached through I Corinthians and it was life changing for so many of us.  I'll never forget his teaching through I Corinthians and what biblical love really looks like.  It was quite convicting.  I'd tell you more but I have to look at my notes.  By the time we finished Chapter 15 it was a couple of months after the passage on biblical love!  Anyway, back to the Gospel of John. (You got to love expository teaching).

Pastor Dan said there are three ways not to become a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ based on John 1: 12-13.  The first is that salvation is not by blood birth.  The second is that salvation is not by the will of the flesh.  The third way we don't become a believer is by the will of man.  People can't "white knuckle" belief in the Savior.  Rather John the Apostle's favorite term is "born of God." It's found in I John 3: 9; 4:7; 5:1; 5:4 and 5:18.  The sinner is saved only by God's sovereign grace.  He alone can change the heart of stone into a heart of flesh.  We can't do anything to make God elect us.  However, as Pastor explained, we can place ourselves under the means of grace.  We can pray, read His Word, be discipled, and ask the Lord to save us.  If we ask, seek and knock God will hear you and open up to you.  He is not one to hide. He longs to save people from their sin. He delights to give new hearts for old.