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.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Personal Update

I saw  eye doctor this morning and got a good report about my very bad vision. I'm going to have cataract surgery in mid February and the second eye in mid March.  My eyesight has been very blurry and I've been quite concerned.  I appreciate and praise the Lord for going before me with the provision I'll need.

I'm seeking the Lord earnestly about some things and appreciate any prayers as the Lord leads. I've got a long way to go but trust that the sovereign, wise and loving God will meet my every need as I approach Him eagerly and with a humble and repentant heart.  May we all continue to progress in sanctification and fight the battle with grace, might and truth.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Father's Love Letter, Barry Adams

This message has meant a lot to me the past week as I focus on the love and grace of God. I hope it ministers to you also.

My Child,
You may not know me but I know everything about you. Psalm 139:1
I know when you sit down and when you rise up. Psalm 139:2
I am familiar with all your ways. Psalm 139:3
Even the very hairs on your head are numbered. Matthew 10:29-31
For you were made in my image. Genesis 1:27
In me you live and move and have your being.Acts 17:28
For you are my offspring.Acts 17:28

I knew you even before you were conceived. Jeremiah 1:4-5
I chose you when I planned creation. Ephesians 1:11-12
You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book. Psalm 139:15-16
I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live. Acts 17:26
You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14
I knit you together in your mother's womb. Psalm 139:13
And brought you forth on the day you were born. Psalm 71:6

I have been misrepresented by those who don't know me.John 8:41-44
I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love. 1 John 4:16
And it is my desire to lavish my love on you. 1 John 3:1
Simply because you are my child and I am your Father. 1 John 3:1
I offer you more than your earthly father ever could. Matthew 7:11
For I am the perfect father. Matthew 5:48

Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand. James 1:17
For I am your provider and I meet all your needs. Matthew 6:31-33
My plan for your future has always been filled with hope. Jeremiah 29:11
Because I love you with an everlasting love.Jeremiah 31:3
My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore.Psalms 139:17-18
And I rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17

I will never stop doing good to you. Jeremiah 32:40
For you are my treasured possession. Exodus 19:5
I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul. Jeremiah 32:41
And I want to show you great and marvelous things. Jeremiah 33:3
If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me. Deuteronomy 4:29
Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
For it is I who gave you those desires. Philippians 2:13
I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine. Ephesians 3:20
For I am your greatest encourager. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you. Psalm 34:18
As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart. Isaiah 40:11
One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes. Revelation 21:3-4
And I'll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth. Revelation 21:3-4

I am your Father, and I love you even as I love my son, Jesus.John 17:23
For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed. John 17:26
He is the exact representation of my being. Hebrews 1:3
He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you. Romans 8:31
And to tell you that I am not counting your sins.2 Corinthians 5:18-19
Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you. 1 John 4:10
I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love. Romans 8:31-32
If you receive the gift of my son Jesus, you receive me. 1 John 2:23
And nothing will ever separate you from my love again. Romans 8:38-39

Come home and I'll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen.Luke 15:7
I have always been Father, and will always be Father.Ephesians 3:14-15
My question is…Will you be my child? John 1:12-13
I am waiting for you. Luke 15:11-32

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Malted Milk Balls and The Why Question

It never ceases to amaze me what competes for my heart.  Today after Pastor Brent's sermon on asking yourself the "why" question, I tried it all afternoon. We are commanded to examine our hearts and asking why we do some things helps us to discern our motive.  It can reveal some pretty ugly things.  Today I was getting impatient with Kellie my dog who wanted to lick Spirit's food bowl a while longer before we went for a walk.  "What a glutton" I thought to my self righteous self.  I ate the first malted milk ball.  These weren't just any malted milk balls either. They came from Sprouts bulk candy and the chocolate covering is massive.  All the more appeal to my gluttonous heart.

Kellie came around the bar stools and sat to get her leash on.  Now I'm past a bit of frustration and into aggravation. I grabbed two more malted milk balls as we went out the door.  We walked and I talked to the Lord.  Rather I complained to Him.  All about Kellie and her disobedience. "When's the dog going to learn her lesson about gluttony".  "Her eating habits have cost me more money and aggravation".  Blah, blah , blah. 

We came in and I had three more malted milk balls. I unhooked the dogs' leashes and polished off two more gigantic pieces of candy. Now I'm really into my thoughts about Kellie.  Then I spied my church bulletin. I remembered to stop and ask why.  Not only why the frustration and aggravation but also why my own gluttony?  The answer wasn't pretty.  It revealed just how easier my soul is captured by things of this world and not the next. How quickly I crawl up on throne and shove the Lord and Savior off.  How much I turn to the comforts of this world and forget the rewards to come in the next for those who make it their ambition to please the Savior.  Eight malted milk balls was of greater import to me than pleasing the Savior who gave His life for me.....Sobering conclusion: apparently Kellie isn't the only one with a gluttony problem.  Lesson: keep asking the why question, search your heart and repent of the sin you find within it.  Oh by the way, don't even ask me about the chocolate covered raisins.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Christian Growth in Love

As one of my homework assignments I am studying II Peter 1: 2 to 8. One of my observations is that sanctification is not easy work but requires much diligence.  The Christian lives on a battleground not a play ground. The flesh wages war against the Spirit. The deeds of the flesh are antithetical to the Spirit's fruit.  Some of the marks of a believer given in this passage include: faith, moral excellence, knowledge, self control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love.  The opposite of these virtues is worldly corruption.  The passage is very direct in stating that if we don't pursue these qualities intently we are rendered useless or unfruitful.

The Spirit of the Gospel cuts right through our selfish natures.  We are commanded to love God with all our heart, mind, body and soul and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Note that self love is the standard.  We loves ourselves all too well. Scripture repeatedly indicts the believer to die to self and to live to the Spirit.  Love is often defined as giving someone what they need (note: not want) because you have it to give and it pleases God. 

Love is active not passive.  In fact, I Corinthians 13 defines love in terms of active verbs and not some sentimental emotion. Love is patient, kind, not jealous, doesn't brag and is not arrogant. Love is not unbecoming nor seeks its own. It is not easily provoked and refuses to take a wrong into account.  Love doesn't rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. Love bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things. It is the greatest of Christian virtues for it never fails. May we all strive to do our part in the sanctification process. May we all be grateful that the Spirit works also in process.  The ultimate end is that we emerge looking a bit more like the Lord and Savior.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Clean Out the Clutter

One of the ladies at the senior living center wasn't having a very good day. Actually it was leftover from a bad day on Thursday. I volunteer there and offered to help her do some things. Scattered across her desk were various papers, telephone messages and a folder or two.  She spun around and opened a huge cabinet behind her.  It was filled with paperwork some as old as five or six years.  It took about two hours to get everything boxed up and readied to put in storage. With each box her step got lighter and her smile a bit bigger.

I think the same is true with the Christian life.  There are things we need to take care of in terms of reconciliation, confession or repentance.  The sooner the better.  When we submit to the Holy Spirit He guides, convicts and comforts us.  When we are sensitive to His leading, we can walk in a greater light of His grace.  We don't do it because our step gets lighter or our smile bigger but rather for His glory and our own good.  Maybe it's time we all take an inventory of our own personal cabinets to see if there is anything old that needs to be handled in a biblical way.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Remember the Rebar

A good friend and I were talking today about the cracks in her swimming pool, her deck and even her driveway. Part of what the crew discovered when they were fixing the problem is that there was no rebar underneath to support the cement and plaster. It may or may not have stopped the cracks (the Texas Drought has something to do with it).  Rebar would have strengthened the structures however and made them more resilient and stronger under duress.

I think there is an analogy to Matthew 7: 24 to 29 when Jesus spoke of two houses one built on sand and one on rock. The rock isn't the Lord Himself in this case but rather obedience to Him.  Without the life changing application of the Word of God to our lives, we are building structures without rebar. It isn't enough to know ABOUT the Lord or His Word.  It is imperative TO know Lord and His Word.  The personal component of relationship is nonnegotiable.  Anything less is doomed to crack. Many are the lives of believers who are forgetting the rebar.

There is an interesting analogy also to the repair of the pool and deck.  First, it is a time consuming task. Second, it takes many different kinds of workers adding layer upon layer for a sound repair. Third, the climatic conditions need to be favorable. Fourth, there is a great investment to be made.  These are all true when one's life cracks apart.  It is often over a very long time that healing and wholeness occur.  It takes all kinds of gifts within the body to minister to the "cracked" member.  Third, conditions have to be favorable such as confession, repentance and a true willingness to work hard toward obedience. Finally, it takes a great deal of investment on every one's part to make the cracked whole again.

My hope is for those young believers we all know to "remember the rebar." Don't just give lip service to the Lord's commands.  Obey Him.  Don't intellectualize your relationship with the Lord but know Him personally and intimately.  Don't compromise early on by skipping the rebar or you'll pay heavily in time. Do it right the first time and avoid the high cost of cracking.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The New Normal

On Wednesday evenings I go with my step mom, Helen, to her church. We play Mexican Train for an hour or so and then have dinner with some of the other parishioners.  Tonight she and I talked after we got back to the house.  There have been so many changes in our lives some of which are difficult--very difficult.  My Dad's dementia continues to worsen which has necessitated his being in a facility.  An aunt is under the care of hospice 24 hours 7 days a week. My brother has been diagnosed with cancer and is starting chemotherapy.  As we were talking the phrase "the new normal" came to mind. I've heard in a couple of circles so I presume it's becoming pretty well known. I don't know the origin of it but it describes what's happening in her and my life. I trust it is happening in your lives as well. Things just aren't as they used to be. Life requires a lot of change.

I then remembered a verse from one of my favorite hymns: "Be Still My Soul."  I've blogged about it before. 

Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

The line states: "In every change He faithful will remain."  What comfort those seven words bring. He is faithful to walk with us in every change.  Changes do come. People age, die, move and every event means a "new normal."  Believers have such precious promises given to us.  Psalm 46:1 states: "God is our refuge and our strength a very present help in times of trouble." Gratefully He hasn't left believers alone but will be faithful in our every "new normal" circumstances.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Gospel Primer

I'm reading a book called "A Gospel Primer for Christians--Learning to See the Glories of God's Love."  It's short and to the point but it has some life changing principles in it. It's written by Milton Vincent. At the end of the book he does a marvelous job of putting the Gospel in poetic form.  I thought it might be very trite but it instead was very powerful.  Focusing on the Gospel saved Milton's spiritual life and the book grew from the process he undertook to remember to focus on the Gospel every day and often throughout the day. 

I admit that the concept of preaching the Gospel to myself is relatively new to me. I was much better to present it to unbelievers.  As I read and study more and examine the huge rut of my own walk, I see the need to preach God's unchangeable truths to ourselves consistently throughout the day.  The focus ends up being God's love for the sinner rather than the wrath so many believers still expect from God.  I dare say that far too many American Christians still employ some form of works based righteousness when it comes to relating to God.  At least in a functional way.  Like Milton we worry about our position before God. We engage in a barter system with the Lord. "If you do X, I'll do Y".  Yet God calls us and loves us in Jesus Christ. He poured out His wrath on His Son. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  None. Now only if I could truly believe it.....

Monday, January 21, 2013

A Sobering Assessment

I'm reading "How Can I change? Victory in the Struggle Against Sin" by C.J. Mahaney and Robin Boisvert.  The last chapter speaks of the judgment by Christ of the believer's works.  Ir's a sobering somewhat terrifying subject.  While the believer isn't subject to eternal damnation, she can face a number of significant losses of reward for failing to do all she could do here on earth for the Lord.  In other words not everyone will hear the much desired "Well done my good and faithful servant" from the mouth of the Lord.

Randy Alcorn has described Western Christianity as: "We major in the momentary and minor in the momentous."  Martin Luther said there were only two days on his calendar "today" and "that  Day". Mahaney used the example of King Solomon who failed to end well.  In fact Dr. Mahaney quoted Robert Clinton findings that "fewer than 25% of most well known leaders in Scripture finished life's course with their reputation and leadership intact." I found that a paralyzing statistic.  Just when we thought as long as we made INTO heaven all will be well.  Not so fast.  Heaven will be and is a momentous place because of the presence of Jesus Christ. But we must remember the judgement of all Christians. We will meet with Christ alone and He will review every day of our lives.  There will be, as Mahaney says, "a final examination. It will be administered by the fairest yet strictest Headmaster in the universe."  Deep thoughts to ponder as we look to each day.

Jonathan Edwards resolved: "never to do anything which I would be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life."  David Powlison wrote: "In most graphic terms, on the day of judgment God will ask, 'What did you do?' He will not ask, "What happened to you."  Matthew Henry said: "It ought to be the business of every day to prepare for the last day."  These are compelling quotes.  This book has gotten my attention. I pray the past two posts have gotten yours. If you haven't read the book, it's a challenging but hopeful read.  And you may just come away with a hugely significant life change that needed to made. That's my hope for myself anyway.

Sunday, January 20, 2013


There is a concept the Puritans understood with which modern day Christians aren't very familiar.  People have a very serious problem and it's not low self esteem. It's sin.  The Bible indicates that the greatest block to our sanctification is sin against God. All sin, by the way, is sin against Him.  There are two very aggressive modes of handling sin. The first is outright full frontal attack.  We must mortify it.  We must kill it.  I think far too many believers, myself included dabble in repentance.  There is a habitual sin against which I've struggled for a long time.  Mere swatting at it won't do.  It requires every piece of spiritual armor I've got. It must include the Word of God, confession, prayer, self control and many other disciplines of grace.

Full frontal attack means killing sin. Sinclair Ferguson says:
What then is this killing of sin? It is the constant battle against sin which we fight daily--the refusal to allow the eye to wander, the mind to contemplate, the affections to run after anything which will draw us from Christ. It is the deliberate rejection of any sinful thought, suggestion, desire, aspiration, deed, circumstance of provocation at the moment we become conscious of its existence.  It is the consistent endeavor to do all in our powers to weaken the grip which sin in general, has. it is not accomplished by saying "no" to what is wrong, but by a determined acceptance of all the good and spiritually nourishing disciplines of the gospel."
The second mode of combating sin is avoidance. Avoidance in the sense of Joseph fleeing the grasp of Potipher's wife.  Even if it meant leaving his coat behind.  Scripture indicts us to "flee immorality." I sometimes think Christians are challenged by seeing how close they can get to sin without succumbing.  Once we know where we are particularly prone to sin we can avoid such circumstances and create a hedge of protection for ourselves. 

C. J. Mahaney in his book "How Can I Change, Victory in the Struggle Against Sin" says:
{Battling sin} involves genuine confession, repentance, obedience to Scripture, accountability to others, and the consistent practice of the spiritual disciplines.  You'll also need courage and perseverance.
I'm asking that you pray as I endeavor to mortify a huge habitual sin in my life in the weeks to come. I've coddled it long enough. Tonight I declare battle against it with the help of the Body. If there is a sin that needs to be mortified in your life, please ask for prayer in the comment section on the blog or Facebook. The church needs one another and if Christ is coming back for a holy and blameless church, we need to be about mortifying the sins that beset us.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Personal Update

I'm sick and appreciate your prayers!  It's hard being alone but am using the time to depend more on the Lord.  Thanks.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Our Identity in Jesus

I had a conversation a while back with a friend right after a major league football player committed suicide.  My friend, who is very knowledgeable about sports and played some himself, said that for many athletes their identity is solely as an athlete.  There is nothing else but the game, sport or event.  When they get into their last years and no longer in their heyday often depression, despair and even death can result. 

Tonight I worked on some counseling homework. I'm to discover in the Scripture the identity of a Christian in Jesus Christ.  Here's some of what I found:
  • Adopted
  • Forgiven
  • Saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ
  • Justified
  • A new creature
  • Led by the Spirit of God
  • Transformed by a renewed mind
  • Redeemed
  • Sealed by the Holy Spirit
  • Able to take every thought captive
  • Healed, worthy and capable because of Jesus Christ
  • Filled with laughter and rejoicing
  • Rooted and grounded in love
  • Holy and blameless
  • Chosen and Predestined
  • Seated with Christ in the heavenly places
  • The "far off " now brought near
  • An inheritance
  • Made alive while dead in sin
There are so many verses especially in Ephesians Chapters 1 to 3.  They are all such rich promises of God's grace.  I want to end with Ephesians 3: 20-21:  "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."

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

"I Must Tell Jesus"

I don't want to get into an in depth blog article except to say I haven't been very proficient at relying on the Lord as a Christian. I know a lot of theology, some biblical counseling doctrine, taught Bible Study for a number of years, but a personal walk with Jesus Christ for the most part has been lacking.  I admit I'm still confused to a large degree.  But I learned this past week apparently a large part of walking with the Spirit is a daily consistent attitude of prayer.  I've lacked it.  Once I got convicted about it and hopefully understand what is meant, I'm telling Jesus more and more about my daily struggles, hopes, desires and sins. 

There's a hymn called "I Must Tell Jesus."  I carry a set of index cards with me and this hymn is among the my Scripture cards. It's not that I am elevating a hymn to the Bible. It's just that two or three hymns have significantly touched my life lately and helped me change.  These past three days I've noticed an increase in my intimacy with the Lord. As I talk to Him and He answers me with His Word I grow closer to Him.  For example, when I am afraid, now I tell Him.  He replies with "When I am afraid I will trust in God."  I've seen His hand orchestrate some circumstances that only He could do.  It's been an encouragement to me and I am very grateful.  Here are the lyrics to the hymn. the words and music are by Elisha A. Hoffman:

I must tell Jesus all of my trials;
I cannot bear these burdens alone;
In my distress He kindly will help me;
He ever loves and cares for His own.

I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus!
I cannot bear my burdens alone;
I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus!
Jesus can help me, Jesus alone.

I must tell Jesus all of my troubles;
He is a kind, compassionate friend;
If I but ask Him, He will deliver,
Make of my troubles quickly an end.

Tempted and tried, I need a great Savior;
One Who can help my burdens to bear;
I must tell Jesus, I must tell Jesus;
He all my cares and sorrows will share.

O how the world to evil allures me!
O how my heart is tempted to sin!
I must tell Jesus, and He will help me
Over the world the victory to win.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Are You Dressed Appropriately?

Today was visit the doctor day again at the Senior Residential Living Center. We made two runs--one in the morning and one in the afternoon. It was cold with snow still on the ground.  One resident came to the door dressed in a light jacket.  No gloves, no scarf, no hat just a light jacket.  He got on the bus and nearly froze to death waiting for the heat to come on.  Of course he was dressed for spring and not for winter.  The employee got off the bus and went inside.  She came out with a blanket, gloves, another jacket and a scarf in which to wrap him.  I sat across the aisle from him. It took nearly the whole trip to the doctor before he got comfortable.  On the way back as soon as we got out of the elevator He wanted me to dress him again in all his outer wear.  I was happy to do so.

Later that afternoon, granted it was a bit warmer, we took another resident to get her eyeglasses.  She was wearing mittens, a warm coat, a hood and boots.  She did much better in keeping warm.  She was appropriately dressed for the winter like climate.  One was dressed appropriately and didn't suffer. The other was way under dressed and felt the consequence of it.  Gratefully someone else was there to fit him in more appropriate attire.  I think there is a lesson here.  We are called to put on the full armor of God. In fact, only then can we stand against the enemy's schemes.  If we are under dressed, we are asking for trouble.  We'll suffer negative consequences; some of them very extreme.  But if we take the time to dress ourselves in all the armor God provides we can safely and confidently defeat the enemy's darts, his schemes and his ploys against us. Next time it snows, I bet the first guy comes to the bus fully dressed....

Monday, January 14, 2013

A Personal Christ

I've struggled with the concept of a personal Christ.  I'm not a person who talks to Jesus and frankly who prays much anymore.  I used to do so but somewhere along the way I have stopped.  I know the God of my invention (aka an idol) is a harsh, vengeful and retributive god.  He's not the God of the Bible so he isn't God at all.  My god isn't very approachable. I keep waiting for him to want a pound of my flesh in some way ever time I sin.  For me that's quite often.  In counseling today I think I finally got through my thick head that the god I invented truly isn't biblical and serving him has only brought me much heartache and harm.  I've known a lot about the biblical God on an intellectual level but little on a personal one.

I'm on a quest this year to change all that.  I want to travel down the Emmaus Road with the Lord so to speak. Only I want to recognize Him.  I want to draw close. I want to know His love. I want to answer the call of Revelation 3: 20: "Behold I stand at the door and knock, if any one hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him and he with Me."  Dr. Ryrie says of this verse:
"How incredible that Christ should be kept outside His own church! How gracious that He should seek entrance!"  Sad indeed that I have been one to keep Him at arm's length and outside the door.  I've really missed Him.  How about any of the rest of you?  Is Christ outside the door and not inside fellowshipping with you? May this new year be a time when we allow deep intimacy with the One who created us and knows us best.  Pray for me as I change my heart and my mind about my idol and turn to the One true God as revealed in His Word.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Reflect the Image of Christ

God's primary goal for the Christian is to become increasingly more like His Son.  We are to manifest the fruit of the Spirit, the love of the brethren, a passion for holiness, a desire to please the Lord, and many other things as we focus on the beauty of Jesus Christ.  Today I saw much of that played out in my life.  First, there was a much needed direct and stern rebuke for a very sinful choice I made.  The person who exhorted me had every right to do so. She did it privately and specifically with the intended result of my repentance.  Jesus rebuked His disciples at times when it was appropriate and necessary.

Then another person and I asked for mutual forgiveness for a conversation that had occurred earlier. We both reached for the phone to call one another at the same time.  Forgiveness was granted and we are able to move on in our respective walks.  It is not always easy being in the body of Christ and living in community.  In fact my sinful edges rubbed a number of people today. Unfortunately Much of my contribution to my own and others sanctification today was my sin. 

Then I sought the forgiveness of a couple I had hurt deeply by my selfishness and outright rudeness.  They both were quick to forgive and move on.  It's been rather rare for me to see forgiveness offered in such a godly manner.  To be honest it's been so rare for me over the 58 years I was shocked. It was hard to trust and I attempted to offer some sort of penitence.  None was necessary they said.  They moved right on with loving me as much or more as they did before the offense.  I'm still rather shocked tonight.  What a blessing to see Christlikeness played out in real life.

Finally, I saw the intercession of God's people in prayer on my behalf. Christ sits at the right hand of the Father forever interceding.  We as His people get to join Him in praying for others.  So many people stopped to pray for me as it was obvious I was having a bad day.  As I look back over the day I'm not proud of my responses.  But I am humbled and amazed by the godly responses of so many that surrounded me.  There's a song by Doris Akers that I love. The lyrics are written below:

There's a sweet, sweet Spirit in this place,
And I know that it's the Spirit of the Lord;
There are sweet expressions on each face,
And I know they feel the presence of the Lord.

Sweet Holy Spirit, Sweet heavenly Dove,
Stay right here with us, filling us with Your love.
And for these blessings we lift our hearts in praise;
Without a doubt we'll know that we have been revived,
When we shall leave this place.

There are blessings you cannot receive
Till you know Him in His fullness and believe;
You're the one to profit when you say,
"I am going to walk with Jesus all the way."

If you say He saved you from your sin,
Now you're weak, you're bound and cannot enter in,
You can make it right if you will yield,
You'll enjoy the Holy Spirit that we feel.

Today I experienced the Sweet Heavenly Dove right among us filling us with His love.  It was a wonderful experience for me.  I pray for personal revival as I deal with my sin and seek the forgiveness of God through confession and repentance.  I continual to solicit your prayers as I walk down the sometimes long and windy road of repentance.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Attentiveness of Spirit

Most of you who read my blog or know me realize I have two dogs.  One is a white and tan medium sized fox hound lab mix and the other is a black and tan small dachshund and miniature pincher mix.  The white dog is Spirit and the black one is named Kellie.  Kellie reminds me of Esau in the Bible. She'd sell her birthright for a bowl of pottage.  She loves her creature comforts and on cold days is more than willing to run out, do her business and zoom back in to bed.  She can be bought with a biscuit which often comes in handy when I need her to do something.

Spirit is different. She is focused far more on her mistress and pleasing me.  If she were to find a piece of filet Mignon and I told her to drop it, she would.  Kellie would fight to the death for it or gag herself trying to swallow it too quickly. Spirit watches my every move. Kellie watches those toward the food bin.  Spirit wants to please me. Kellie is more about herself.  Spirit will mind usually on the first or second command.  Kellie minds when it is convenient or something is in it for her.  Spirit is content most of the time. Kellie is content when things go her way.  Like her food bowl is filled and her bed warm.  I think you can guess which one I want to be more like when it comes to pleasing the Lord. I want to follow Spirit's lead.  I want to please Christ in all I do yet I know I often fail.  I want Spirit's attentiveness when God speaks to me through His Word. I want to follow Him closely with both my face and my heart toward Him.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Who Are You Going to Trust Part II

It's hard for me to let go of my plans during the day.  I'm getting better at it believing more that God has a better plan than I do on any particular day.  I saw that play out in a dramatic way this afternoon and evening.  I had plans to go to dinner with Person A at Place B.  She called around 3pm this afternoon. She had spent the night caring for a sick friend and couldn't make it.  I prayed for God's direction about what to do. I thought it might please Him to call Person B and see if she could go to dinner with me at Place B.  When I prayed I told the Lord I would surrender to whatever He might have for me and if it meant spending the night at home that would be what I did.  Person B called around 5pm and had other plans for the evening. I was just getting in my car to come home when the cell phone rang.

On the drive home I told the Lord "I trust you Lord" which is a phrase that isn't meant to be ritualistic but to be an earnest acknowledgement of God's goodness and sovereignty.  Just as I walked in my door my phone rang. Then the cell phone rang. It was Person C asking me to go to dinner at Place C.  I was overwhelmed at God's grace in directing my day.  There are many reasons this was so significant that that's a post for another day.  I picked up Person C and we went to Place C.  It was packed out with standing room only. We chose Place D somewhere I'd never been but she had on plenty of occasions.  We drove down the road to Place D.  We were waited on quickly. The food was wonderful. After the meal one of the employees laid a get one dinner free when you buy one dinner card on our table.  When I woke up this morning I had no idea how the day would turn out. 

Here are some of God's promises regarding guidance:
  • God will instruct me and teach me in the way I should go. He will guide me with His eye. (Psalm 32:8)
  • My steps are ordered by the Lord. (Psalm 37:23)
  • Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)
  • I trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding. In all my ways I acknowledge Him and He directs my paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
  • I shall hear a word behind me, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever I turn to the right or the left. (Isaiah 30:21)
  • Thus says the Lord, my Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, Who teaches you to profit, Who leads you by the way you should go.” (Isaiah 48:17)
  • The Lord will guide me continually. (Isaiah 58:11)
  • I desire to do God’s will so I shall know whether it is from God. (John 7:17)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Personal Update

There are times when I just have to ask the body of believers to pray for me.  I don't want to go into specifics but please pray that I take my thoughts captive to the promises and character of God.  He is our only hope.  I have had such an in depth background in secular psychology and there are some deeply rooted ares of sinful thoughts that I need to destroy in the sense of II Corinthians 10: 4 to 5. "For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,"

I've not always applied the Word of God in my life as I should have done. I've allowed other thoughts to become almost knee jerk in their reflexive nature.  It's hard to love the Lord God with all my mind because of the years of not doing so.  Yet with practice, perseverance and the prayers of the saints I can overcome. The first two things are obviously my responsibility.  The last one is yours...I am grateful I can post a plea and people will intercede.  I don't know where I'd be or what I'd do without the body of Christ.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Here Comes The Judge

I've spent my day listening to what some people think is fun, lively and good.  As I listened to some second hand stories very briefly--I had to cut some of them off quickly--I realized just how much I take any of my holiness for granted.  It's very easy for me to view my own heart in a better light than the hearts of those surrounding me.  As I listened to the people share, my initial reaction was a smug, religious, self sufficient legalism that is really quite ungodly. Why I would never do (fill in the blank).  But as I rode home this evening the harsh reality is that I am very capable of doing (fill in the blank) if I didn't belong to a great God with great grace for such a sinner.  In fact, it is particularly hypocritical given these past few months and my own personal struggle with my sins.

Patronizing the unchurched seems so natural to me at times. That's what I was doing most of the day.  I deemed their activities were sinful, ungodly and unbiblical.  And they were. But there was a heart issue that I had to face.  I was putting them down, elevating myself and certainly not pleasing the Lord in any of it. I judged them.  That's a role none of us hold. The only One with the right to judge motive, heart and attitude is the Lord Jesus Christ.  Until then, I need to repent of my self righteousness and respond to those outside the church with grace, love and mercy.  Judge not that you be not judged.  In other words take the huge log out of your own eye, Wendy, before you go hunting for specks in someone else's eyes.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Joye Ride

I spent the afternoon on the bus for the assisted living folks. Every Tuesday is visit the doctor day. The activities director drives those residents that can get out to see their doctors to their apppointments.  I rode along with her to help those in wheel chairs.  I think I deployed and stowed the ramp 8 or 9 times in four hours.  It was a delight to be a part of the process.  There's one senior citizen that I've enjoyed a great deal. Her first name is Joye and she was a music teacher and administrator for nearly 50 years.  She was our first pickup.  Her doctor's office had called saying she was ready to go. When we got to the office, it wasn't quite true. It took another twenty minutes or so.  Instead of my usual impatience, I intentionally focused on letting God be God and entrusting Him with the schedule.  In short I chose joy with Joye.

However, I might have been a tad bit late in hiding my impatience. Joye figured out we had another run to make.  She couldn't have been kinder.  She did everything she could to speed up the process.  She kept such a happy heart and a joyful attitude. It was contagious. The activities director and I tried on different glasses frames while we waited. It was fun.  I found a pair of frames that I liked and the AD said looked really good on me.  All for a mere $390.00. I think they'd look good on anybody.

I realized the importance of the serenity prayer today. Change those things you can change, accept those you can't and be wise enough to know the difference.  What could have resulted in my being impatient and frustrated all afternoon turned out to be a joy. The rest of the afternoon I remained calm and at peace even when we got lost, missed an exit and had to double back to one office to pick up something left behind.  I look forward to next Tuesday's Joye ride.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Body Life

I was thinking about the blessing of the church community. Sundays are such a wonderful day of fellowship with people in your local body. My pastor refers to them as your "nuclear family."  These are usually the people with whom you accomplish the "one another" commands.  Within this body you have all levels of intimacy. Some people you may talk to every day. Some you may be related in a biological way.  For example, sisters may attend the same local church or parents and their adult children.  Some people you may only see and talk to on Sunday.  But these aren't the only believers in your life.

Today I had supper with my stepmother. She's a believer and in lieu of my Dad's confinement to a facility, she and I have spent more time together. I appreciate her encouragement.  On the way home from her house my BSF leader called. BSF has about four or five hundred women meeting in one church.  They are for the most part believers.  We don't even talk about what church we attend but gather to study the Word of the Lord and to fellowship with one another. I'm sure a myriad of local churches are represented among the larger class.

 Our church has a short term missions team in the Ukraine for eight days. They are meeting brothers and sisters in the Lord around the world.  They left bearing some gifts but more importantly they are teaching, preaching, serving and encouraging these Ukrainian believers in various ways.  What an opportunity for them. In fact, for the size of our church I am amazed at how many short term missions teams serve each year. I understand that another team will be heading to South Korea for three weeks sometime this summer. We have had teams go to Uganda and recently sent a family there on a more permanent basis.  We all need to be a member of a local body but how blessed we are for the entire body of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Fruit Not the Root

Today I went on a scenic ride / shopping trip with some senior citizens in their van. As we were driving the road along the Benbrook Dam one of the ladies mentioned how dead everything looked. The grass was a brownish yellow, the trees were leafless and bare.  One of the other ladies commented that the roots were not dead though. If they were, there wouldn't be any green grass this spring.  From the surface it wasn't a pretty picture for sure.  But what laid underneath was vastly more important.  There was still life just waiting for its Creator to call it forth. 

I pondered how many times in the past I have judged the spiritual lives of other professing Christians.  How I saw the dead yellow and brown grass or bare tree and deemed them to be apostate or an unbeliever. What unmitigated pride.  How wrong to put myself in a position that God alone holds. Only He can see the heart. Only He knows whether He has called forth life or not.  All I could see is the external fruit of a life.  It's all we as humans can ever see in another life. While I think it is important to be careful if the fruit is putrid, dead or absent, we can't deem that to be true of the root. 

Gratefully this summer other people didn't do to me what I had done to others. They held out the hope that in spite of a leafless and bare tree; deep down inside was life. The root wasn't dead. Little fruit returned, because life was there all along. We are to be wise about the manifest spiritual fruit of other people--especially those in leadership or teaching positions.  But we must not judge the heart or the root.  That right is God's alone.I appreciated my senior friend's wisdom as reflected in her comment about life being in the root of the grass. I look forward in the next two or three months to taking the same route and seeing the green grass and bluebonnet filled fields that now appear to be so very dead. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

God of Order

I've helped a lot this week in undecorating from the holidays. There could have been a lot of chaos but in each case the person in charge was very methodical in the way things were taken down and packaged. It will make next year so much easier and better to decorate. I've helped decorate after someone has just tossed everything in storage whether it's a closet, storage unit or attic. It was a living mess. Ornaments were broken, lights were tangled, wreaths had tape all over them, candles were chipped and it seemed to be such poor stewardship. This year great care was taken to protect the decorations and to label them carefully.

Our spiritual lives can be like that. We shove all sorts of sins in closets or attics hoping just to get them out of sight. We don't remember or perhaps realize what the mess will be like in a year.  As a person who did it the wrong way I want to encourage you not to be deceived and think that all is orderly and well when it's not. God is a God of order not chaos.  We may want to tuck things away but He won't allow it for long.  He is committed to His children and the goal of holiness for their lives.  He will shine the light and open the storage unit door.  He'll straighten out the mess but it takes time and a lot of effort. It truly is much simpler to handle things correctly which means biblically in the first place. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Who Are You Trusting God or ?

I was at church today helping to take down the holiday decorations. A close friend and I were talking about her children.  She has two daughters still at home.  The older one went to spend a week with her older brother and his wife who just had a baby. The younger daughter has never stayed in her bedroom alone.  She was scared. She talked to her Mom about it. I loved my friend's counsel to her last child.  "Who are you trusting in God or (her sister)."  What an excellent question to ask ourselves as we ferret out relationship idols.  Women have a tendency to seek from others only what God can provide. We want others to be only what He can be to us.

We can go too far the other way and refuse to fellowship. It's the "Jesus and I" mindset. It's equally deadly to the spiritual life. God has set us in local churches who serve as a nuclear spiritual family.  We need one another in order to be able to obey the one another commands.  We can be unbalanced in both directions. We lean too heavily on people and not on the Lord. That's why it is good to ask ourselves occasionally "Who Am I Trusting In God or?"  The young girl found out who she truly trusted when her sister was gone.  We often discover the existence of an idol when God removes it.  It's much harder to have the Lord remove the idol than it is if we voluntarily give it up.  Of course that means that we must examine our own hearts frequently to be able to spot the idols in our hearts.

Speaking of the one anothers.  There were three of us putting plastic containers of various sizes in the church attic.  One person was in the attic area where the Christmas decorations are stored. She arranged the boxes. I was pushing them up the ladder. A young (and strong) pastoral intern was moving them from the top of the ladder over to the attic area.  We got done in an amazing short time. The work was much easier. I think our system resembled what it looks like when the individual body members work in unison and unity.  It made an arduous task so much more enjoyable.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Damage of Sin

I spent some of my day taking down holiday adornments at a local care facility. I remember how carefully and beautifully the Activities Director did everything.  She spent many a late night getting everything ready.  It was wonderful and the comments from residents, family and friends continued throughout the season. But it took two of us roughly 4 or 5 hours to undo every beautiful thing she had done.  Things were taken down, arranged for easy access next year and packed in a crate.  One swoop through and it was all over.  It was almost as though it never happened in the first place. But pictures and people's memories were too strong for that.

It reminds me how sin can swoop through a life and make it seem as though everything that went before didn't matter.  It's not true but a person's reputation, lifelong reputation, can be destroyed with one scandal.  A sin can wipe out any of the good works that truly may have been done through the Lord's Spirit. It can ruin a testimony and cast doubt on the Lord.  I've been sharing with the Lord how much I desire to bring Him glory. He's been sharing with me my past and present failures.  Not to beat me up but to encourage me to repent because He loves me. 

It's a hard process for sure. Not one anybody really wants to go through. But is is the pathway to holiness and that's God's goal for us this year and until we see Him again.  So while it's hard, I continue on baby step after baby step. Setting my face like flint even for a brief moment but willing to keep turning toward Him countless times throughout the day.  It would be much easier if I could just hold my face toward Him for a longer period but prayerfully that will happen in time.  Until then I take my little baby steps, turn my face repeatedly and trust Him to take away my mourning over sin and give me joy.  I solicit your prayers as I fight. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

It's A War

I'm reading Ephesians 6: 10 -18 as part of my quiet time.  Verse 12 is pretty clear: 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places."  Unfortunately we can fall off the balance beam to the left or to the right when thinking about demonic activity.  The ultra charismatics go too far left and see a demon behind every bush.  They thus have a reason for every sin known to man.  The ultra reformed go too far right and say that there is no such thing as demonic activity. Everything is a result of our fleshly disobedience solely. The Scripture takes a balanced approach.  It acknowledges the existence of spiritual forces of wickedness and rulers to name two groups.  We shouldn't look over our shoulders for every hint of demonic influence but we can't look down with our heads in the sand either.

The answer is to be wise about the existence of the enemy and his work.  We fight not against flesh and blood but a spiritual battle. That means we must fight with spiritual armor.  This includes the truth, righteousness, faith and the Gospel. Once we have appropriated such grace of the Lord we are to stand firm.  But only when we have fully dressed ourselves are we to stand.  To try and stand without the armor is an invitation for a mortal wound that the enemy would love to inflict.  We are to be strong in the Lord and the power of His, not our might, but we must dress in the garb that He has provided us.  We must do it daily.  Anything less is asking for it. May this new year we remember that it is a battle.  We know who wins at the end but it is our responsibility to fight.  Every believer here on earth is part of the church militant.  Only when we see the face of Jesus do we join the church at rest.