November 30, 2018

Learning From the Lives Around You

I'm sure like many of you; I have had the privilege of knowing many wonderful, interesting and a few dangerous people over the years. Most of them in one way or another provided an education for me about what it means to Trust the Lord.

There were many who told me to trust and taught me to trust the Lord. These were some wonderful teachers and mentors I have had over the years. They instructed me from the scriptures how the people of God trusted in the Lord in all kinds of situations.

A second group showed me how to trust the Lord. Many wise and wonderful people have shown me how to live and some have shown me how to die. Some also showed me how to live life today and finish life tomorrow They incarnated the truth of the scriptures for me to see.

A third group gave me opportunity to live out my Trust of the Lord. Unfortunately, I have had some Christians lie and deceive me and not keep their word. Difficult to be sure, but it also provided an opportunity for me to implement my trust in the Lord in the midst of a difficult situation.

My teachers instructed me about the truth and my mentors incarnated the truth, but my enemies provided the opportunity to implement the truth of trusting the Lord in the midst of a challenging circumstance.

Who is in your life? What are they teaching you? What are you doing because of them?
Who are you in the life of others?

Serving Him with you
Until He comes for us,

November 23, 2018

                         Our Love for God is Seen in How Much We Love
                                          the Person We Like the Least
                                                        ~ Jeff Bauer ~
We are living in a world that is experiencing enormous change due to immense pressure. We experience this politically as we see changes in the Congress and the Supreme Court. We experience this culturally as we see laws and mores adapt and adjust in regards to sexuality. We sometimes call this pressure 'the move toward conservatism or progressivism.'

There is also pressure being exerted upon the church from the inside and outside. But either way, the church is responding as it always has since its inception.
Today, there is an unbalanced impetus from inside the church for a theology of social justice and tolerance of other religions. The response has been a demand for biblical orthodoxy that seeks to reject the "innovative and extreme" ideas.

There has also been pressure from outside the church demanding that a modern, enlightened, and tolerant view of sexuality be employed, and if the church does not capitulate its outdated views then it must be branded as propagating hate speech and labeled hypocritical with its ideas and application of "love." This has caused a reaction toward fundamentalism. Although many understand "Fundamentalists" as 'people who have too little fun, too much dam and not enough mental;'  I prefer the concept of holding to the fundamental truths of the Bible. After all, the Bible is inspired by God. (II Tim. 3:16; II Peter 1:20-21)

And that is why pressure from inside the faith or from the world outside the faith must be examined and engaged with, by speaking the truth with love. We often do one at the expense of the other. But Jesus flexed the muscles of both conviction and compassion; the conviction of God's perfect truth and compassion toward imperfect people.

Serving Him with you
Until He comes for us,

November 16, 2018

                                   Sure, I will Pray for You

How often have you told someone, "I will pray for you." Many times it is in response to a specific request someone has asked us to pray for. Sometimes it is simply a general response that is trying to tell the person that you will remember them during the next few weeks.

I wonder what the Apostle Paul would pray about for us if he had the chance? I'm not sure, but we have an opportunity to get a glimpse of what it might be since we have some examples of what he prayed for people in a variety of churches. Perhaps one of the most exciting and inspiring prayers is found in Ephesians 1:18-19a,
"I pray that that eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe."
Notice, Paul prays for the preparation of his audience and includes the purpose of the petition of his prayer. In preparation he desires that the eyes of their heart be enlightened. This is a figure of speech since we know that hearts do not have eyes. His desire is that they will be able to see by being enlightened. The word from which we get the term "photograph" carries the idea of being illuminated. Paul desires us to be illuminated, enlightened so as to see clearly and not be unclear. But what is the content of this prayer that He desires for us to see and understand?

Notice three interconnected elements brought into focus:
  • That we may know the hope of our calling. Paul had spoken of the calling before in 1:4. He hopes that we see clearly the hope of our hope in being chosen by God.
  • That we know the riches of His inheritance. Paul has spoken of this in 1:14 and will elaborate later in the book about our inheritance in Christ (4:30). It is tied to our hope of our calling.
  • That we might understand the surpassing greatness of His power toward us. 
Paul's prayer desires that we be enlightened to understand the greatness of God's power, manifested by Him choosing us in the past and securing an inheritance in the future, so as to live faithfully for Him in the present. All of this is to be elaborated on in the rest of the Letter to the Ephesians.

I often pray this prayer for myself and my family that we would see ever more clearly the greatness and goodness of the glorious grace of God. 

Serving Him with you
Until He comes for us,

November 9, 2018

            To Love a Person is to See Them as God Intends Them to Be
Fedor Dostoyevsky

I have discovered in the midst of all the cultural corruption, social unrest and political disgust that I am angry. I seem to allow Fox News to assist my anger! I feel a sense of revulsion, repulsion and repugnance. I am not only angry at sin, I am angry at sinners. Lately, I have been studying my words and surveying my thoughts about certain people. (I am sure you have your own list!)

I have also been reflecting on what it means to be like Jesus and what it looks and sounds like to respond like Jesus. There are many illustrations from the words and works of the Lord as to how to live in the world. But one night a scene from the gospels struck me, words that I know quite well and a scene from scripture that is pungent with meaning.

There Jesus was - flogged, beaten, scourged within an inch of His life, condemned by the Romans, cursed by the Jews, hanging from the cross. Experiencing alienation from both God and man, mocked by onlookers, taunted by bystanders, waiting to die.

And then He said it. I can hardly believe He said it.
"Father Forgive THEM for they know not what they are doing."

I know what I would have said, "To HELL with ALL of YOU! NOW!"
But that is not what He said. He said, "Father I wish to hold out Heaven to them."

As Pastor John Mitchell has said, "Love is sincerely wishing God's very best for someone else and doing what you can to see it come about."

I do not like the people on my list. But I can love them and I can pray for them, for God's very best for them.
How about your list?

Serving Him with you
Until He comes for us,

November 2, 2018

Through Apathy, You Collude With Evil.
J.K. Rowling

I have discovered a new benefit beyond Medicare when you reach 65 years of age; I get to vote by mail. My civic duty has been discharged. Voting is both an opportunity and an obligation for the Christian, since we have been given such freedom and with it comes much responsibility. However, voting can be a vexing experience because there is no perfect candidate and there is no pure issue. Compromise and concession is a given - but when and with who?

In a post-Kavanaugh world we have discovered that a lie does not become truth, wrong does not become right and evil does not become good, just because it is accepted by a majority.  G.K. Chesterton said it well; "Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions."

Any republic that denies the rule of law cannot expect to have a long shelf-life. Any country or civilization "that feels guilty for everything it is and does will lack the energy and conviction to defend itself." (French philosopher-Jean Francois Revel)

America is certainly not perfect and it is clearly not a Christian nation. However, it is or was governed by Judeo-Christian values. These values have been thinned out and are dissipating from disuse. Odds are rising that a downturn is coming for our culture. But as Winston Churchill spoke in his speech to Congress in 1941, "Some great purpose and design is being worked out here below, of which we have the honor to be faithful servants."

Do Pray. Go Vote!
Serving Him with you
Until He comes for us,