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, May 30, 2013

Whatever is True

I was talking with a friend today about the world's wisdom.  She has COPD and had gone to a meeting of a group of people with similar diagnoses.  The leader showed a video about the end stages of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.  It so disturbed my friend that she left the meeting early. As we talked I wondered about the wisdom of such a video and the motive behind it.  My friend was distraught for awhile thinking about what might come to her in time.  But we don't know for sure that will happen. She might pass away some other way like a sudden heart attack. Perhaps the rapture will occur.  Who knows but it certainly upset her to view the pain of such a death.  Even if she were to pass away from COPD she doesn't have grace today for tomorrow's battle.

I had a similar incident about a year ago. I was in meetings where movies were shown that were most unhelpful to my situation. I did the same as my friend, I walked out. I later took issue about the wisdom of showing such videos to the people involved. The more I thought about what happened to my friend today and me in the past, the more grateful I was for Philippians 4:8: " Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."  I am not saying we should stick our heads in the sand and pretend things aren't as they are.  I am saying we need not borrow trouble and think on things that are of good repute and excellent.

I use this verse as a screen for what I see and hear. It is a wonderful test of what we should allow into our hearts.  Oh to be faithful to obey it at all times. Sadly, I must admit I don't. I wonder how much grief might be spared me if I were to hold fast to this verse and obey it totally.  I'm grateful my friend was able to take every thought obedient to Jesus Christ quite quickly. It saved her a lot of unnecessary pain. We need not be ostriches but the Scripture says to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Andy the Anole

A few months ago a good friend of mine rescued an anole. He looks kind of like a baby lizard about the size of a large gecko. I think he was six or seven inches from head to tail.  One of her dogs had gotten to him. His back was injured and he was in bad shape.  He had scrapes and cuts particularly on his thighs and calves (not sure that is reptile anatomy but you know what I mean). She thought his back might be broken. My friend is an animal lover and has volumes of experience with exotic animals. So she took him in to nurse him back to health. Enter Wendy the skeptic. Frankly I thought he would live maybe another week and then pass on to lizard heaven. 

My friend gave me periodic updates.  I was amazed. She kept him in a glass aquarium in her front bathroom.  The little guy kept getting better. As bad as his wounds were I could have sworn he was history.  My friend persevered. The scars on his legs started to heal as he shed his old skin and new skin grew.  He was able to scurry a bit in the bottom of the aquarium but his legs dragged greatly. Most of the work was done by his front legs.  Time passed. My friend persevered.  His back got stronger.  He could move his back legs. Then he could scramble on the side of the aquarium and his little toes held him secure momentarily. He never gave up and neither did she.  She continued to feed him whatever anoles eat.  This past week she let him go back to his natural habitat.  He had gotten healed enough that it was the only humane thing to do.  Under her loving and protective care he was ready to move out into life again.

I can relate to Andy.  The past months God has cared for me as I rebound from a hard place. He has kindly and mercifully ministered to me in ways that have brought some wholeness. There is more to do because sanctification is progressive. I am more confident in Him than I was a year ago.  I am better able to trust Him and His Word. I am prayerfully a lot more gentle and less self righteous. Hopefully I am less self centered, fearful and depressed. Yep I can relate to old Andy.  I am grateful for the Lord whose name is Jehovah Rapha--the God Who heals. I think Andy may be a wee bit grateful too.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Jesus Curses the Fig Tree

A while back I read about Jesus' cursing the fig tree in Mark 11.  The account of Jesus’ curse on the fig tree has baffled many for a long time. It’s the only destructive miracle of Christ’s recorded. It seems to make Jesus appear petulant and unreasonable.  After all it wasn’t the season for figs. Why did Jesus react as He did?
            Some think the answer lies in the cycle of the fig tree. In the spring the tree sends out little bud followed by the growth of leaves.  Travelers could pluck these buds and eat them. They didn’t develop fully until fall. So because the buds weren’t present in the spring Christ cursed the tree. Once again the Bible makes sense upon further reflection. Indeed there is a clearly defined fig tree season.  However a few rare species bear fruit outside the norm.  So the test wasn’t the time of year but the appearance of leaves. Thus when Jesus saw the tree in full bloom He rightly expected fruit. But there was none.
            Jesus, the prophet used the tree as an object lesson. He denounced the hypocrisy.  The leaves were in full bloom but there was no fruit.  Israel made a superficial profession of faith but they lacked genuine fruit. What a lesson for Christians today!  One of the top reasons the world rejects Christ is because of the hypocrisy of professing believers. To fail to live our faith is to fail the Savior. We will continue to sin after we are saved no question.  We must be open about that fact. We must make every effort to be holy and blameless among the watching world. We can remember that God loves His own and when we fail, even horrendously so, there is forgiveness from the Father when we repent. It is much better not to fall in the first place.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Gospel of Mark--Christ as Servant

I've been reading through the Gospel of Mark in my quiet time. Mark’s Gospel is the shortest of the four.  It is straight forward and action packed.  The characters are colorfully described. The verbs are quick and certain.  The word “immediately” appears 42 times in the sixteen chapters.  The brevity and simplicity make this Gospel ideal for an introduction to the Christian faith for the new believer. It also is wonderfully suited to evangelize those who yet to believe. Often Bible translators in foreign counties pick Mark as the first book of the Bible to translate. Ninety percent of Mark’s Gospel is repeated by Matthew and Luke or both. 

Mark presents Jesus Christ as the Servant.  Mathew’s Gospel focuses on Jesus as King; Luke reveals Him as the Son of Man and John emphasizes Him as the Son of God.  Mark tells us throughout his writing that Jesus came to serve. He shows Jesus actively engaged in ministry. He heals the sick. He raises the dead. He delivers the demonized. He preaches and teaches. He is constantly ministers to the needy, lost and hurting around Him. As His disciples we are to do the same.  We are called to love the Lord our God with all our heart, body and soul and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

            Mark portrays Jesus as laying aside His divinity and His glory in heaven to assume the form of a bond Servant.  He perfectly obeyed His Father by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Mark demonstrates the humanity of Jesus Christ more clearly than the rest. We see here in this Gospel Christ’s human emotions, reactions and even some human limitations.  Jesus is pictured from His baptism and temptation by Satan in the wilderness in His steady march toward the suffering of the Cross and the glory of His Resurrection.

Mark’s Gospel is a glorious revelation of Jesus Christ as the Servant, the Son of Man and the Savior. When some of His disciples argued about who would be the greatest, Jesus rebuked them. A key passage  is found in Mark 10: 43 - 45: But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

He we find an overarching principle from the life of our Savior. Followers of Jesus Christ are called to glorify God by selfless service to others.. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

A Letter to a Graduate

I wrote the letter below to one of the high school graduates this May.

 I am so proud of all you high school and college graduates.  It has been a long road but one well worth the journey.  I pray you never take for granted your home school experience.  God gave a great grace to you who are reared and taught in true Christian homes.  I’ve loved getting to know you and your family better. It is a particularly sweet blessing to me. I am grateful for how your parents have protected you and poured out their lives into yours.  Again it is a reminder to be thankful to the Lord.  Some of us didn’t have such a blessing and our lives are all the more difficult because of it.

I pray that in the days to come you continue to hold God’s Word in high esteem.  The Bible is literally the Word of God,. No other book can genuinely claim to be written by the Holy Spirit.  Its truths resonate throughout the ages.  Cling to it especially when the world seeks to pound your head and heart with its lies.  Rely on it for your every need in all situations.  God is faithful and will never let you down.  You face a world of immense deception. Satan is called in the Holy Writ as the father of lies. Even his subtle distortion is deadly. Know His Word well and filter everything you hear or read through it.

Surround yourself with godly people of all ages.  Remember those seasoned by many years can teach you much. Your close peers should be people of excellence and good repute who know the Savior.  Don’t ever compromise for it is the devil’s playground Reach back to those younger than you and serve as a role model for them.  Disciple some in the doctrines of the faith and you will solidify your own.  You won’t be perfect but to invest into another’s life reaps much benefit.  Find a solid church and commit yourself to it wholeheartedly.  Again, there is no perfect church but cling to one where the Bible is taught, the sacraments administered and church discipline is practiced. God has called His people to body life and it is there that you will find protection, growth and service.  No believer survives without others to come alongside.

Last but foremost keep your passion for Jesus Christ ablaze.  Allow nothing to come between you and your Lord.  Strive to discover and do all that is required of you.  Cling to His Spirit in times of trial and temptation.  Cultivate an active and vibrant friendship—what grace to be a friend of God!  Seek Him as you travel through life.  There is no greater source of comfort, companionship and consolation than Jesus Himself.  Shun all that grieves Him. So live that the world hates you but God is pleased.  Cultivate godliness. Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you.  There is no greater place to be than in the bull’s-eye of God’s obedience. Watch for the pitfalls of the flesh and the enemy.  The journey can be loaded with landmines.  Only Christ can guide you safely through.

I pray for you as you embark on the next step of life. God has a plan and a purpose for your life.  Do the next right thing as you go through everyday. Stay in His circle of blessing.  Reject the false and cling to what is good. May His countenance shine on your always.  In His grace, Wendy


Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Mother's Heart


God makes a wondrous thing
When He forms a Mother’s heart.
He fills it with such love
Beginning at the start. 

The baby once within
Now a child who comes of age
The Mother’s heart enlarges
With every passing stage.

The heart that shapes the life
Does day by day choose best
For the children who at one time
Nurtured at her breast. 

The heart that guides the young one
Continues to lead the teen
Cherishes, treasures, holds
Through trials unforeseen. 

A Mother’s heart so light
It carries much inside.
At the thought of precious children
Bursts easily with pride. 

How grateful are we all
For the Mothers God graciously gives
She loves like none other
           For all the time she lives.           

            Wendy West

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Facing the Future

I am getting a bit unnerved by all the bad news lately. The vast majority of which is so horrific I fear violating the commands in Scripture for our speech to be edifying.  The news which I don't watch on TV or subscribe to the newspaper still creeps into my heart.  I find it somewhat terrifying what people do to one another. So it was very appropriate that our Bible Study on Monday night spoke of how to face the future.  Our teacher's main truth was: "The only way to face the future wisely is with God."
What an understatement in these days and times. I struggle to cope well as a believer and thus I shudder to think what my life would be as an unbeliever.

I was talking with a friend earlier about some things. She said she was grateful that God had sheltered her from the world's ways. I wholeheartedly agree. I wasn't as sheltered but am glad that now I restrict a lot of things I watch and hear.  Every choice we make now affects our future faith. I don't want anything in my head that doesn't speak of the glory of God. Now trust me I am far from doing that but it is my goal.  The other stuff causes much anxiety.  Genesis 49: 24 and 25 describe the Lord as "The Mighty One of Jacob", the "Shepherd", the "Stone of Israel", "God", and the "Almighty who blesses you".  That is He in whom we can put our trust. Only in knowing Him can we hope for an unshakable source of calm. Only by knowing Jesus Christ can we face death unafraid for He is our ultimate destiny.  Oh for the grace to put these truths to practice in my own life. Oh for the peace it would bring!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Where Has All the Decorum Gone?

Tonight I went to an award ceremony for the top 100 professionals in a given field.  Who and what doesn't matter. My point is the reactions of the audience.  I should have gotten my first clue when the passed out cowbells and clackers on the way into the auditorium. I have witnessed a trend for years of the loss of decorum and reverence at graduations and similar services. Tonight however crossed a line that made me very uncomfortable.

 From the time the first name was announced there were the aforementioned cowbells, clackers, air horns, police sirens and a couple of screeching loud noises I didn't recognize.  My head hurt and my ears rang the entire ceremony. There were signs and flashes and neon eyeglasses. Pity the poor person bothered by such stimuli. The air horns blasted by the family in the row behind us left us with wet heads and necks. It was particularly distressing to me that a father instructed his children to blow loud and hard. The behavior was way beyond rude. It was troubling that so many people weren't bothered at all. In fact, it was a contest to see who could be the loudest.

Sometimes I am left wondering where this will all end.  I am stunned by such irreverence, lack of professionalism and outright silly and rude behavior.  I was proud of my loved one for her achievements. The ceremony left me wondering just what has become of not only North Texas but America as well. Have we lost our collective conscience?  Dr. MacArthur wrote a book entitled "The Vanishing Conscience." It is one of my favorites of his. I have to agree with his statement :"We live in a culture that has elevated pride to the status of a virtue." We are living in a time when moral judgment and rightness have taken a back seat to doing whatever seems right in our own eyes.  The results of such an attitude are tragic. I fear we have gone too far way too far.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Life is a Vapor--Remember the Dash

I have lost three aunts to death in as many months. All three were in the 80s or 90s and lived long lives as the world counts it.  There have been many others who have passed away this year thus far. How quickly the time passes. The Scripture says our lives are as vapor.  One wisp and we are gone to meet our eternal destiny. I can remember my aunts for the nearly sixty years I've been alive.   the time roared by. Someone once said that the most important thing on the tomb stone is the dash.  The dash between the birth date and date of death. It is what we do to redeem that time represented by this dash that God deems most valuable. 

I had some friends over for dinner tonight. One of them commented about a prophetically minded man who has gone home to be with the Lord. His name was Leonard Ravenhill. My friends remembered hearing him speak in person here in Fort Worth. Ravenhill spoke of wishing he didn't have to eat as often so he could have more time to share the Lord. He wished he could be freed from all earthly pursuits in order to preach the excellencies of Jesus Christ. Oh how convicting that was for me. How little I think of Him. How much my mind is occupied with temporal pursuits. Our lives are vapors. They are short even if given a hundred years here.  We choose what we are going to spend our time doing.  Remember the dash. It reflects the life. A life lived for Jesus Christ or one lived pursuing earthly ventures. The Lord determines how long is the dash. We determine how we choose to live during it..

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Levite Blessing

We studied Genesis 49 in Bible Study tonight. The chapter details Jacob's blessing to his 12 sons. Two of them, Simeon and Levi, are told that they were cruel and brutal. Jacob remembered the massacre of men in Shechem in revenge for the rape of Levi and Simeon's sister Dinah.  The two brothers talked Shechemites into accepting circumcision as a means of integrating the two cultures including intermarriage.  Then when the men were particularly vulnerable the brothers took their own men and slaughtered everybody and looted the town.

Much later God blessed the Levites at the golden calf incident.  While Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the Law Aaron and others were busy building the golden calf as their god.  Moses came down from the Mount and was furious. Aaron lamely said that he didn't do much. He threw the gold into a fire and a calf came out.  Exodus 32: 24:  I [Aaron} said to them, ‘Whoever has any gold, let them tear it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.” Aaron shifted a bit of the blame.

It was the Levites who stood for the Lord and killed some 3000 men who had so grievously sinned against  the True God of Israel. Exodus 32: 25- 29:   Now when Moses saw that the people were out of control—for Aaron had let them get out of control to be a derision among their enemies— 26 then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me!” And all the sons of Levi gathered together to him. 27 He said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Every man of you put his sword upon his thigh, and go back and forth from gate to gate in the camp, and kill every man his brother, and every man his friend, and every man his neighbor.’” 28 So the sons of Levi did as Moses instructed, and about three thousand men of the people fell that day. 29 Then Moses said, “Dedicate yourselves today to the Lord—for every man has been against his son and against his brother—in order that He may bestow a blessing upon you today.”

God blessed the Levites by choosing them as the priestly line.  These people carried the Ark of the Covenant, ministered later in the tabernacle and temple and the High Priest was chosen from among their ranks.  God in His grace took a curse and made it into a blessing. How comforting to know that God can relent and take our bad circumstances and use them for our good and the good of others.  When we repent, God can do marvelous things in our life.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Evangelistic Hospitality

Last night I was listening to a Christian radio talk show. The hostess was interviewing Rosaria Butterfield a former liberal lesbian that the Lord transferred from a domain of darkness into the kingdom of His Son.  Rosario was befriended by a pastor and his wife who loved her into the kingdom.  Ms. Butterfield set out to refute certain biblical claims. In all fairness she said she needed to read the Bible first. 

The pastor wrote her a letter and ended up inviting her into his home. His was not a hate letter by any means but he asked her some penetrating questions. She said that the couple didn't share the Gospel or invite her to their church but rather had her and others over for a meal.  Had they pressed the Gospel or church attendance she stated she would have run away.

I found her comments compelling.  She is well educated and savvy women  with a Ph.D. in English. She is no dummy. The couple was patient and kind enough to continually to open their home and hearts to her. As she read the Bible, they answered her questions without any prejudice.  Their heart was for her to come to know the Jesus Christ they knew.  After months of reading and studying Jesus first hand in His Word, the Spirit brought her to faith.  I think there is a valuable lesson here.  I've been guilty of shotgun evangelism where you toss out facts like a machine gun. I've pressed for church attendance but I haven't always been loving and patient opening MY heart and home.  There are other Rosarias out there to be loved. Perhaps God will direct one my way and I this time I  respond with love and truth.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

"Surprise" Christians

Today I visited my Dad at the facility where he resides. I was wheeling him back to his room from the dining area.  A praise song we sang at church ran through my head.  As I turned the corner to my Dad's room I heard a male voice singing the same song.  I looked at the guy and the first thought in my head was "Surely he's not a believer is he?." I'm not saying that singing praise songs necessarily means you know the Savior.  But it does indicate the presence of some fruit perhaps.

I was astonished at my bias.  There really was no reason for me to judge him one way or another. In fact, I don't know why my first thought was that he wasn't a believer.  I think I wasn't expecting to find a Christian in the facility. It is a foolish thought because I've talked to others there who seem very genuine in their faith. Later when talking with the Lord the Spirit convicted me of my prejudice. The man was the same race as I, near the same age as I and could have been my next door neighbor. I judged him unfairly.  It was sinful and wrong.  I hope I'm more aware of it in the future. It blessed me afterwards to think that he is a brother.  I hope I see him again. Maybe we can sing the praise song together next time. I'm going to be on the lookout for more "Surprise Christians."