Thursday, December 17, 2009

stars…

1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very naturea God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very natureb of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

12Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

14Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe 16as you hold outc the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. 17But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18So you too should be glad and rejoice with me

Philippians 2… requires no commentary.

Monday, December 14, 2009

give…

22“And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.
32“Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. 34You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. 35In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20: 22-35)

Many times, Paul uses the analogy of running a race to describe his journey of evangelism among the early Church (see references below). I have mentioned before that running requires discipline and endurance; it is a difficult task that requires preparation. I leave that thread of discussion to, perhaps, be picked up at another date and time. For now, I want to focus on something else in this passage: Paul’s sacrificial, self-denying life. Paul specifically says that he knows he must go to Jerusalem—he is compelled by the Spirit—despite the persecution and death that he faces. Paul walks in constant (and very REAL) communication with the Holy Spirit, so there is no question in his mind of whether or not he should go to Jerusalem (or anywhere else he feels called, for that matter)—he simply goes, and does, as he is compelled by the understanding that he can do nothing other than give—he will give of himself unto death, just as Christ gave himself unto death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2: 4-7).

I am called to imitate Paul as he imitated Christ—and how does that become a reality?

1. preparation in the Word
2. daily, fervent prayer
3. so that I might see myself as nothing
4. and walk out the understanding that Christ is the maker and redeemer of this world (Colossians 1)

**References in which Paul uses the “race” analogy
Galatians 2:2 & 5:7; Philippians 2:16; I Corinthians 9:24: II Timothy 4:7;
(Also see Hebrews 12:1)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

towards holiness…

3Who may ascend the hill of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
4He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to an idol
or swear by what is false.
a
5He will receive blessing from the Lord
and vindication from God his Savior.
6Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek your face, O God of Jacob.
………………………………… Psalm 24: 3-6

If I were to suggest a list of Scriptures that absolutely should be studied and committed to memory, I would put the entirely of Psalm 24 near the top of the list.  Above is a selection of three verses that state the requirement that God places upon us.  What is required of me if I am to dwell in the presence of the Most High? I must have clean hands and a pure heart and be free from idolatry.  What a daunting proposition!  What an impossible thing! Fortunately, the blood of Jesus makes it possible for me to enter into communion with God—I have been redeemed. But a large part of that redemption includes that I will walk in righteousness.  God has not called me to walk in this alone, but has commanded that I be in community with fellow Believers. We Believers, then, are commanded to build each other up into faith and in unity in the Truth.  Ephesians 4 states this clearly:

7But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8This is why ita says:

“When he ascended on high,
he led captives in his train
and gave gifts to men.”b

11It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. …  16From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. 17So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 22You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

25Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26“In your anger do not sin”d: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27and do not give the devil a foothold. 28He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.

29Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
……………………………………………………………………… Ephesians 4: 11- 32

Monday, November 23, 2009

take a walk…

1Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.
2But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
3He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.
4Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
5Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

………………………………………………. Psalm 1 (NIV)

I remember memorizing this as a child, and I never forgot the first three verses, so lately, as we have been going on a journey as a church into “new territory” with our faith and with our lives (and they are really one and the same, are they not?), these three verses have tumbled around in my head.

What does it mean to walk in the counsel of the wicked, or sit in the seat of mockers?  I mean, what is the practical reality of those poetic lines?  I could give all sorts of pat answers, “Sunday school” clich├ęs, and never truly identify whether or not I understand the implications of those lines.

Here is a thought: It is the same thing to “Not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners” as it is to “delight in the Law of the Lord.”  If my heart’s desire and delight is in the Lord, my heart will have no part of wickedness. 

I, being ‘of the flesh,’ sin every day, and fall into the trap of the wicked. I am thankful, then that the blood of the Lamb redeems me so that I might know what it means to delight in the Law of the Lord.

My prayer is that I would desire to meditate on His Law both day and night.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

a fish out of water… a fresh look at Jonah

Check out the two-part message entitled “A Fish Out of Water” by Dr. Ravi Zacharias.  For those of you participating in the Old Testament study group, you know Jonah is our first book for study.  I really like the spin of this message—pay attention to the last few lines of Zacharias’s message in part 1—and answer the question: “What is the cure for unrighteousness?”

Fish out of Water, Part 1

Fish out of Water, Part 2

"... Immorality is always preceded by impiety. People are immoral because they are first impious and not the other way around; immorality in our streets is because there is irreverence in our hearts before God, which means that if morality is merely symptomatic.  Then how can we solve it symptomatically by just changing our laws? We have got to change the heart of the individual, and only God is big enough to do that."  (R. Zacharias)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

law-abiding citizens

9Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.c Do not be conceited.

17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
………………………………………………………. Romans 12: 9-21

As a Believer, I am free from the Law, but that is not the same as being given license to act however I please. In fact, we Believers SHOULD uphold the Law, and even go beyond that!  Our concern with “legalism” and “works-based salvation” often gives us an excuse to claim freedom from the Law in such a way that we are not properly convicted of our offensive, sinful behavior; not only that—we have missed the proper ‘spirit’ of the law entirely.  We do not uphold the law for the sake of the Law, but we are called to live lives that lift up the Name of Jesus to all we come in contact with; living in accordance with the law naturally follows from that.  As Romans says, we are to “live at peace with everyone.”  Where does that leave room for lawlessness and recklessness?  It leaves no such room, and should call us to be  vigilant and diligent in our pursuit of God’s truth, so that through his strength and through the discernment that comes from walking in the Spirit, we might be “a living sacrifice.” (Rom. 12: 1)

Friday, September 25, 2009

a preview

In the very near future, I will be posting blogs related to an Old Testament study group I’ll be facilitating.  Here is a little something to keep on our hearts….

Who is wise? He will realize these things.
Who is discerning? He will understand them.
The ways of the Lord are right,
      the righteous walk in them,
      but the rebellious stumble in them.
……………………………………….
Hosea 14: 9

For those of you who live in Lynchburg, come join us for a study of Jonah, Amos, and Hosea, Mondays from 7:00 to 8:00pm from October 3 until November 9. Please email/Facebook me for details.  For those of you outside Lynchburg, follow our journey via my blog once weekly.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

here I am...

I've had the praise chorus "Take Me In" (see post from Sept. 16) stuck in my head since Wednesday morning. So I'll unpack the song a littler further

... take the coal, touch my lips, here I am...

1In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3And they were calling to one another:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”

4At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
5
“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”
6
Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7With it he touched my mouth and said,
“See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

8Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
Isaiah 6: 1-6

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

take me in…

Take me past the outer courts
Into the holy place
Past the brazen altar
Lord I want to see Your face
Pass me by the crowds of people
And the priests who sing Your praise
I hunger and thirst for Your righteousness
But it's only found in one place
Take me into the holy of holies
Take me in by the blood of the lamb
Take me into the holy of holies
Take the coal, touch my lips, here I am

Apparently I have been living under a rock; this song is old yet I have never heard it.  As we, in our church, have been reading The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard, this song struck a chord with me.  God’s desire for us is that we would enter into his holy presence with confidence (Hebrews 4:16) so that we might have fellowship with him (I Corinthians 1:9). 

How do I get past the “outer courts”?  I must partake in the joy of the Lord through tangible, purposeful disciplines. I must read the Scripture (II Timothy 3:16), pray daily (Matthew 6:6), fast and seek solitude and silence (Matthew 4), worship (Romans 1:1-2), and in all things consider Christ as the head of my life (Colossians 2:10). 

Also see: Psalm 24, Hebrews 9.

Take Me In, as performed by Kutless

Sunday, August 16, 2009

not.forsaken…

And you shall no more be termed forsaken.
and your land shall not be termed empty.

They shall be called Sought Out.
They shall be called Redeemed.

And you shall be called by a new name
That the mouth of the Lord will give.

A holy nation; we are his possession.

We shall be called Sought Out.
We shall be called Redeemed.
……………………………..conVergeMusic

1 For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
And for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep quiet,
Until her righteousness goes forth like brightness,
And her salvation like a torch that is burning.
2 The nations will see your righteousness,
And all kings your glory;
And you will be called by a new name
Which the mouth of the LORD will designate.
3 You will also be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD,
And a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
4 It will no longer be said to you, “Forsaken,”
Nor to your land will it any longer be said, “Desolate”;
But you will be called, “My delight is in her,”
And your land, “Married”;
For the LORD delights in you,
And to Him your land will be married.
5 For as a young man marries a virgin,
So your sons will marry you;
And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
So your God will rejoice over you.
6 On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen;
All day and all night they will never keep silent.
You who remind the LORD, take no rest for yourselves;
7 And give Him no rest until He establishes
And makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.
8 The LORD has sworn by His right hand and by His strong arm,
“I will never again give your grain as food for your enemies;
Nor will foreigners drink your new wine for which you have labored.”
9 But those who garner it will eat it and praise the LORD;
And those who gather it will drink it in the courts of My sanctuary.
10 Go through, go through the gates,
Clear the way for the people;
Build up, build up the highway,
Remove the stones, lift up a standard over the peoples.
11 Behold, the LORD has proclaimed to the end of the earth,
Say to the daughter of Zion, “Lo, your salvation comes;
Behold His reward is with Him, and His recompense before Him.”
12 And they will call them, “The holy people,
The redeemed of the LORD”;
And you will be called, “Sought out, a city not forsaken.”

………………………………………………. Isaiah 62 (NASB)

If you’re reading this and you do not attend conVerge church, you may not be familiar with the song that opens this blog post. It is music written by the worship team of conVerge but the inspiration comes from Isaiah 62. Originally, this song was written and performed by a band whose style goes beyond even what we would call “contemporary” worship. Now that our worship team has shifted and the style has changed to an acoustic-style format, the song didn’t work as well, but it was too good to scrap, so we set out to rework it—and what resulted was quite beautiful in its new-found harmonies. And somehow, this accentuates the meaning of the song, as if it really was meant to be sung in harmony, and claimed as a calling and a challenge.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

"There are many people I know who possess a vision of [personal] evolution yet seem to lack the will for it. They want, and believe it is possible, to skip over the discipline, to find an easy shortcut to sainthood. Often, they attempt to attain it by simply imitating the superficialities of saints, retiring to the desert or taking up carpentry. Some even believe that by such imitation they have really become saints and prophets, and are unable to acknowledge tha they are still children and face the painful fact that they must start at the beginning and go through the middle"
....................... M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled, p. 77 (1978)
as quoted by Dallas Willard in Spirit of the Disciplines, p. 7 (1988).

"Our effort to take control at that (on the spot) moment will fail so uniformly and so ingloriously that they whole project of following Christ will appear ridiculous to the watching world... we should be perfectly clear about one thing: Jesus never expected us simply to turn the other cheek, go the second mile, bless those who persecute us, give unto them that ask, and so forth.... Oswald Chambers observes: 'The Sermon on the Mount is not a set of principles to be obeyed apart from identification with Jesus Christ....'"
...................... Dallas Willard, Spirit of the Disciplines, p. 7-8 (1988).


Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life...
............................................. Philippians 2: 1-16 (NASB; emphasis mine)


Monday, August 10, 2009

hollow...

Behold, the Lord GOD will come with might,
With His arm ruling for Him.
Behold,
His reward is with Him

And His recompense before Him.
Like a shepherd He will tend His flock,
In His arm He will gather the lambs.
And carry them in His bosom;
He will gently lead the nursing ewes.
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand,
And marked off the heavens by the span,
And calculated the dust of the earth by the measure,
And weighed the mountains in a balance
And the hills in a pair of scales?
Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD,
Or as His counselor has informed Him?
With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding?
And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge
And informed Him of the way of understanding?
Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket,
And are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales;
Behold, He lifts up the islands like fine dust.
Even Lebanon is not enough to burn,
Nor its beasts enough for a burnt offering.
All the nations are as nothing before Him,
They are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless.
To whom then will you liken God?
Or what likeness will you compare with Him?
As for the idol, a craftsman casts it,
A goldsmith plates it with gold,
And a silversmith fashions chains of silver.
He who is too impoverished for such an offering
Selects a tree that does not rot;
He seeks out for himself a skillful craftsman
To prepare an idol that will not totter.
Do you not know? Have you not heard?
Has it not been declared to you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
It is He who sits above the circle of the earth,
And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers,
Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain
And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.
He it is who reduces rulers to nothing,
Who makes the judges of the earth meaningless.
Scarcely have they been planted,
Scarcely have they been sown,
Scarcely has their stock taken root in the earth,
But He merely blows on them, and they wither,
And the storm carries them away like stubble.
“To whom then will you liken Me
That I would be his equal?” says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes on high
And see who has created these stars,
The One who leads forth their host by number,
He calls them all by name;
Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power,
Not one of them is missing.
Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD,
And the justice due me escapes the notice of my God”?
Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable.
He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who lacks might He increases power.
Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.
----------------------------Isaiah 40: 10-31


Twice in the passage above, Isaiah asks: "Do you not know, have you not heard?" Isaiah is speaking to his fellow Hebrews, people who would have heard the teachings of the Scriptures and the prophets. He isn't asking if these people have had a chance to hear this sort of message before; he is asking whether the message has meant anything to them-- in other words: he is asking a rhetorical question.

For us as believers, this question also applies. This passage is a powerful reminder of who God is-- he has measured out the heavens in the hollow of his hand. It reminds us as well of our relative 'smallness' -- we are like grasshoppers. What a privilege that God would choose us for salvation, that he would call us into his kingdom that we might serve such a powerful creator with our lives. What is required of us, then, is that we apply and live by the example of Christ, the one through whom all things are made.

Monday, August 03, 2009

something real…

After I looked up the song mentioned in my previous post, I searched a few more songs and strummed a few in a somewhat nostalgic vein, and stumbled across this one. This is the sort of chorus that MUST be sung from a deep-rooted understanding of Scripture and of what the Lord requires. Taken in the proper context and in an attitude of prayer, here are the lyrics…

Many are the words we speak
Many are the songs we sing
Many kinds of offerings
But now to live the life

Help us live the life
Help us live the life
All we want to do is bring you something real
Bring you something true

(We hope that) Precious are the words we speak
(We pray that) Precious are the songs we sing
Precious are these offerings
But now to live the life….

Now to go the extra mile
Now to turn the other cheek
Now to serve you with a life
Let us share your fellowship
Even of your sufferings
Never let the passion die…

“Come, let us return to the LORD…
…That we may live before Him. 
“So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD.
His going forth is as certain as the dawn;
…For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice,
And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
Hosea 6

clean. pure...

I got the line of a praise/worship song I learned several years ago stuck in my head, so I sat down and began to strum it on Roger’s guitar, then decided to look up the song online as to remember the rest of the lyrics (surely the eight lines I could remember were not all of the song…)  Turns out, there were only a couple lines that I was forgetting… usually I dismiss songs that repeat as being shallow. This one, however, should not be taken as such, nor made into such…

We bow our hearts. We bend our knees. Oh Spirit come make us humble.
We turn our eyes, From evil things. Oh Lord we cast down our idols.

Give us clean hands. Give us pure hearts. Let us not lift our souls to another.
Give us clean hands. Give us pure hearts. Let us not lift our souls to another
God let us be A generation that seeks, that seeks your face, O God of Jacob.
Oh God let us be A generation that seeks, That seeks your face, O God of Jacob…

Psalm 24
Of David. A psalm.

1The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;
2for he founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the waters.
3Who may ascend the hill of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
4He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to an idol
or swear by what is false.

5He will receive blessing from the Lord
and vindication from God his Savior.
6Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek your face, O God of Jacob.                                      Selah
7Lift up your heads, O you gates;
be lifted up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
8Who is this King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
the Lord mighty in battle.
9Lift up your heads, O you gates;
lift them up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
10Who is he, this King of glory?
The Lord Almighty—
he is the King of glory.                                               Selah

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

value…

Of what value is an idol, since a man has carved it?
Or an image that teaches lies?
For he who makes it trusts in his own creation;
he makes idols that cannot speak.
Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Come to life!’
Or to lifeless stone, ‘Wake up!’
Can it give guidance?
It is covered with gold and silver;
there is no breath in it.
But the Lord is in his holy temple;
let all the earth be silent before him.”

Habakkuk 2: 18-20

What do you value? 

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

riches…

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!  For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR?  Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN?  For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11: 33-36)

What other riches does one need?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

running...

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. (I Corinthians 9: 24-27)

I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. (2 Timothy 4: 1-8)

Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained. (Philippians 3: 12-16)

Several times throughout his letters, Paul creates an analogy in which life in Christ is represented by training and preparing for, then running, and finally winning a race. He creates an image in which endurance, discipline, effort, attitude, rigor, and boundaries set up a "winning combination" that would allow the runner to win the race. What is required of one who is fit to race in a way that is worthy of the One who calls us?

Paul, or Saul as he is called in Acts, demonstrated, throughout his ministry a "Race Running Mentality." In Acts, Luke describes Paul's early days as a Believer, in which he was tested and tried by skeptical Believers and in which he was continuously on the run from those who wished him dead (Acts 9 and II Corinthians 11: 30-33). Not only that, but he also invested his time and education in reforming the theology of new believers and debating Greek-born Jews (Acts 9). Paul demonstrated through his drive and tenacity in spreading the gospel that he was well-trained and well-prepared for the work given him by God.

So what about me? I am also called to run this race, am I not? Then I should be optimizing myself to run to win, yes? (Who would run a race if not with the ambition to finish well?) What is in my life that I can throw off? What hinders me? The more time I spend evaluating the Mission of Jesus, the more I understand that my goals, objectives, and priorities, if anything other than spreading the gospel to the lost are not only secondary, but so small as to seem insignificant in comparison to the prize, which is the perfection to which I have been called heavenward. And in striving toward that prize, the fruit I bear, the light I shine should in no way hinder the running-- in fact, the opposite: these things should optimize my run. Our understanding of aerodynamics and physiology allows a runner to optimize her performance with the right diet, the right equipment. As believers, if we are to adopt the Race Runner's Mentality, should we not be looking to optimize our run? What can we throw off? What can we reevaluate? What should we be doing to train-- Scripture-reading, memorization, prayer, accountability? All of the above. Self-examination, meditation on the Word, witnessing? Yes.

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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12: 1-3)

Monday, May 25, 2009

again… love

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. 
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 
Love never fails
; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.
(I Corinthians 13)

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. 
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.  Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men.  If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord.  “BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.”  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
(Romans 12: 9-21)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

love

Some dear friends of mine got married today and I think one of the neatest things about this particular ceremony is that, unlike the majority of weddings we’ve been to, Roger and I are both very good friends with the groom and bride respectively, so we were very blessed to be a  part of the celebration, as their friends and as their brother and sister in Christ.  Marriage is designed by God and functions as a way that man and woman can come together and honor the Lord as a unit.  Marriage also reflects the way Christ views the church—a spotless bride, consecrated in Covenant for devotion, love, and service.  With every wedding I go to with Roger, I am reminded of how thankful I am for him and for the man of God that he is and for the leadership he provides in our household. Neither of us is anything without Christ, and to him we owe our lives, our service and our love.

How deep the fathers love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give his only son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon the cross
My sin upon His shoulder
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts no power no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

©  1995 Kingsway's Thankyou Music

Friday, May 22, 2009

light…

Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (II Corinthians 4: 1-6)

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,… (Philippians 2: 14-16)

 

Jesus said “I have come into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me will not remain in the darkness.” (John 12:46)  According to Paul, we who believe in Jesus reflect that light to the world. 

How well am I reflecting Jesus’ light, the light of the gospel, to the world (to fellow believers, to non-believers)?  Am I truly commending myself to every man’s conscience as Paul says in II Corinthians?  Obviously this is something I must work toward daily and consciously.  The paradox is that it isn’t by MY strength that I am pushing toward this end, but through Christ’s strength. It is through Christ that I glorify Christ; the Holy Spirit is my helper in running the race; without Christ I am  nothing

Saturday, May 16, 2009

disconnected…

This past weekend, I attended a graduation ceremony in North Carolina for my younger brother.  It was an excellent time to be with my immediate and extended family as we celebrated his accomplishment, so the purpose of this reflection is absolutely not to say that I felt that my time in NC was mis-spent or mis-placed…  that being said…

All week long, I have lacked focus spiritually. my prayer life hasn’t been the same; i have been less drawn to the Word, and when I HAVE read, have found myself having trouble gleaning meaning from the words on the page.  I feel disconnected.  I think that a huge part of this is because I did not connect with my church body this past Sunday.  Until this past weekend, I did not fully realize the importance and impact of connecting weekly with a body of believers.  I met with a few individuals over the week, but the impact is distinctly not the same.  It isn’t that I didn’t *know* the importance and benefits of fellowship, but the impact of it was noticeable this week, by the opposite effect— by the lack of fellowship. 

I’m hoping that as people read this, that one of three things is true of you:

1. You belong to a church body of which you play an active and meaningful role; therefore you relate to me in that you distinctly miss the fellowship when you can’t be a part of it.

2. You are not currently in a fellowshipping body of believers, but you were at one time; so this reminds you of what you’re missing—of what you need to get back to.

3. You have never been part of a body of believers that shares impactful, meaningful fellowship, and now your wheels are turning—hmm, I should explore what it means to belong to a church family in the real sense of belonging—ownership, participation, contribution, sacrifice, joy: love.

Friday, May 08, 2009

testing…

testing… 1, 2, 3…

I have a new computer.. it’s my little machine, an Acer AspireOne 8.9.”  I have a little program on here that is supposed to make blog-writing easier … I dunno.  But this is me, giving it a whirl.  And speaking of a whirl… I am going to try to be more faithful with the blogging thing in the next few months.  stay tuned….

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Christ, our High Priest, wholely frees us who are the Redeemed to live sacrifical lives for the sake of spreading the Gospel.

The following are excerpts from Hebrews as noted by chapter and verse. Occasionally, bits are left out for brevity's sake and are noted by (...).

2:14-18
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death-- that is, the devil-- and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants. For this reason, he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

4:14-16
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-- yet without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

7: 22, 24-28
Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. ... because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest meets our needs-- one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens... For the law appoints as high priest men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.

9: 11-15
When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation... he entered the most holy place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blod of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our conscience from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God.
For this reason, Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance...

10: 19-27
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-- and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

12: 1-3
Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorned its shame, and sat down at the right hand of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

13: 15-16

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise-- the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Creed

Creed
by Steve Turner

We believe in Marxfreudanddarwin
We believe everything is OK
as long as you don't hurt anyone
to the best of your definition of hurt,
and to the best of your knowledge.

We believe in sex before, during, and
after marriage.
We believe in the therapy of sin.
We believe that adultery is fun.
We believe that sodomy’s OK.
We believe that taboos are taboo.

We believe that everything's getting better
despite evidence to the contrary.
The evidence must be investigated
And you can prove anything with evidence.

We believe there's something in horoscopes
UFO's and bent spoons.
Jesus was a good man just like Buddha,
Mohammed, and ourselves.
He was a good moral teacher though we think
His good morals were bad.

We believe that all religions are basically the same-
at least the one that we read was.
They all believe in love and goodness.
They only differ on matters of creation,
sin, heaven, hell, God, and salvation.

We believe that after death comes the Nothing
Because when you ask the dead what happens
they say nothing.
If death is not the end, if the dead have lied, then its
compulsory heaven for all
excepting perhaps
Hitler, Stalin, and Genghis Kahn

We believe in Masters and Johnson
What's selected is average.
What's average is normal.
What's normal is good.

We believe in total disarmament.
We believe there are direct links between warfare and
bloodshed.
Americans should beat their guns into tractors .
And the Russians would be sure to follow.

We believe that man is essentially good.
It's only his behavior that lets him down.
This is the fault of society.
Society is the fault of conditions.
Conditions are the fault of society.

We believe that each man must find the truth that
is right for him.
Reality will adapt accordingly.
The universe will readjust.
History will alter.
We believe that there is no absolute truth
excepting the truth
that there is no absolute truth.

We believe in the rejection of creeds,
And the flowering of individual thought.
If chance be the Father of all flesh,
disaster is his rainbow in the sky
and when you hear

State of Emergency!
Sniper Kills Ten!
Troops on Rampage!
Whites go Looting!
Bomb Blasts School!
It is but the sound of man
worshiping his maker.


Steve Turner, (English journalist), "Creed," his satirical poem on the modern mind. Taken from Ravi Zacharias’ book Can Man live Without God? Pages 42-44