Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Rom 12:1 So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life--your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life--and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.
Rom 12:2 Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
If you are one of God's sheep, one of his children, don't try to be like the world. Don't try to "fit in." It looks funny! Rather, do this-
Eph 5:1 Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents.
Eph 5:2 Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
I've been praying for one specific comedian...for his salvation....for a long time, but as I watch him he continues to put "dark paint" into his life and continues to be bitter, angy, rude, an atheist. I will keep praying for him.
But be aware that we "color" our lives by what we put into them. Most lives end up being a muddy gray with no clarity, no distinct color, no brightness....just a mess of colors poured together. The picture we are painting is confusing, the life we are living does not tell anyone who we really are.
Choose your colors, choose what you read, what you watch, what you say, what you entertain, who you hang out with....choose them because they really do make a difference.
Here's a passage from Psalms that has fascinated me for a long time. It describes a man who isn't picky about the colors he puts into his life.
Psa 109:17 He also loved cursing, so it came to him; And he did not delight in blessing, so it was far from him.
Psa 109:18 But he clothed himself with cursing as with his garment, And it entered into his body like water And like oil into his bones.
Psa 109:19 Let it be to him as a garment with which he covers himself, And for a belt with which he constantly girds himself.
It "colored" his life, how he thought, what he saw, and how he lived. Wow.
Choose your colors carefully, make your life a painting that will beautifully point to Christ as Lord of your life, and bring glory to God. We have enough "gray" people around us, paint your life in such a way that all who look at you will see a painting of Jesus.
Monday, January 29, 2007
Jesus would have none of it. He railed against the establishment of his day, both religious and political, and called them to a higher law. Here's a "cut" from one of his encounters with the "establishment"-
Mat 23:13 "I've had it with you! You're hopeless, you religion scholars, you Pharisees! Frauds! Your lives are roadblocks to God's kingdom. You refuse to enter, and won't let anyone else in either.
Mat 23:15 "You're hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You go halfway around the world to make a convert, but once you get him you make him into a replica of yourselves, double-damned.
Mat 23:16 "You're hopeless! What arrogant stupidity! You say, 'If someone makes a promise with his fingers crossed, that's nothing; but if he swears with his hand on the Bible, that's serious.'
Mat 23:17 What ignorance! Does the leather on the Bible carry more weight than the skin on your hands?
Mat 23:18 And what about this piece of trivia: 'If you shake hands on a promise, that's nothing; but if you raise your hand that God is your witness, that's serious'?
Mat 23:19 What ridiculous hairsplitting! What difference does it make whether you shake hands or raise hands?
Mat 23:20 A promise is a promise. What difference does it make if you make your promise inside or outside a house of worship? A promise is a promise. God is present, watching and holding you to account regardless. (THE MESSAGE)
Well, you get the idea.....those aren't soft words. They leave no question behind, "what did he mean by that?" Jesus made it very clear what he wanted to communicate. In many ways we fail at that today. We have softened the message of the cross to the point that it irritates no one. We have stopped talking about sin, death and hell so that we won't offend. If we comply with the cultural demands to tone down our message, the message of the cross, we neither obey God nor serve those who need it most.I found a call back to these topics on Mark Driscoll's blog, and thought it would be great challenge-
Anthony Bradley's Blog
This Year Don't Forget To Warn About Hell
Jesus, in an act of compassion, warns about eternal punishment and calls all to repentance. Jesus did not shirk from preaching the truth about the disastrous future awaiting those who do not confess Jesus as Lord. Many of today's preachers, out of cowardice, are not warning people about the impending justice of a holy and righteous God. In fact, it is entirely possible that people are confused about the necessity of the atonement because they are confused about the reality of hell. Preaching the gospel includes both dimensions of God's grace and his justice.
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Today I went to see her and check on her. We had a good visit, talked about her move to an extended care facility, and then she said, "I wish I could be baptized. I've never been baptized." I asked, "Would you like to be baptized?" She responded with an excited affirmation. I got a Styrofoam cup filled with water and a towel, and we baptized Robin in her hospital bed. It was great! She was soaked, smiling and happy. Her son was thrilled. It was the first time I had used a cup of water to baptize someone, but I'm sure God was smiling too.
Then she said, "I wish I could go to church. I've never gotten to do that…..”
It will be interesting to see how this story will work out, but so far it’s a “God thing” all the way! Thanks, Lord.
Friday, January 26, 2007
I'm sorry I have been so sporadic, and light in thoughts recently. I have just been far too busy. Unfortunately this blog has suffered. Please be patient with me, and I will get back to sharing in more depth as soon as possible. Until then I will try to post short, pithy comments...with pictures of course!
Thanks for your patience.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Psa 139:13 For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb.
Psa 139:14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.
Psa 139:15 My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
Psa 139:16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.
Psa 139:17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
Psa 139:18 If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
January 22, 2007 · January 22 is the most depressing day of the year, according to Wales-based psychologist Cliff Arnall. Arnall talks with Luke Burbank about why the day is so depressing, how to get through it and when to mark the happiest day of the year on your calendar...
I couldn't find the rest of the story on the NPR site, but I'm thrilled that I made it through the most depressing day of the year and I barely even noticed! I guess we need to mark it on the calendar next year so we can "celebrate" it. It's a shame to miss such an important day in the year and not even feel it, not even be depressed...I feel like I got cheated...it really wasn't that bad for me at all!
Now I have to find out which day is the happiest and get ready for it. With the way my days go I will probably not enjoy it at all.
Monday, January 22, 2007
Candy, ice cream, fairy wings, a crown, time spent in toy stores and a lot of talk...it was great!
She will have a sugar buzz for hours, but we both had a great time. It's been years since I spent some one on one time with a small child, in fact the last time I really got to do this was with my own daughter, so it was a special treat to spend time with one of her daughters.
I think it's an event I will need to repeat with the other girls in the near future....in fact, when they saw the "haul" this first one made I KNOW I am destined for more of these wonderful outings.
I look forward to each one. (And, no, it wasn't necessary to use duct tape.)
Sunday, January 21, 2007
But I must tell you that, after over 40 years of faith, I still have problems with the issue of prayer.....I don't have all the answers. When discussing this topic I find that I come to the response, "I don't know" far more than I would like. I pray for people all the time, and don't always get my prayers answered. The truth is that I don't know what God is really up to in the life of that person. The answer to my prayer might be "yes", "no" or "in a little while we will do that". I feel like a blind man at times as I try to pray "in God's will". And, like the cartoon, I hear myself too often whining.
I want to see answers to prayer, we all do. So like so many prayers I have heard I pray "safe prayers" like- "Lord, be with Mary." The truth is that if Mary is a Christ follower he has promised to never leave her, so I can just see the Lord waiting for me to pray, hearing this prayer and finding there is nothing he can do with the prayer....he's already doing it!
My goal in my life is to no longer pray "safe prayers", but to pray at the edge of my comfort zone, to pray big prayers, prayers for healing, miracles, changed lives, you know BIG things. Now I know that when I pray that way I won't always see answers, but I may...and when I do I am challenged to pray even further out in my faith.
For me, I plan to stop whining, to stop praying safe prayers, and to be bold. I have had this goal for a long time, but find that I easily revert to the safety of "Lord, be with George today"...and I miss the chance to see what God, working through my prayers, could do.
I want to close with a passage that has challenged the church for centuries. These are Jesus' words, but they are big. I don't intend to explain them, I just want you to read them:
Joh 14:13 "Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
Joh 14:14 "If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.
Friday, January 19, 2007
Psa 40:1 A David psalm. I waited and waited and waited for GOD. At last he looked; finally he listened.
Psa 40:2 He lifted me out of the ditch, pulled me from deep mud. He stood me up on a solid rock to make sure I wouldn't slip.
Psa 40:3 He taught me how to sing the latest God-song, a praise-song to our God. More and more people are seeing this: they enter the mystery, abandoning themselves to GOD.
Psa 40:4 Blessed are you who give yourselves over to GOD, turn your backs on the world's "sure thing," ignore what the world worships;
Psa 40:5 The world's a huge stockpile of GOD-wonders and God-thoughts. Nothing and no one comes close to you! I start talking about you, telling what I know, and quickly run out of words. Neither numbers nor words account for you.
Psa 40:6 Doing something for you, bringing something to you-- that's not what you're after. Being religious, acting pious-- that's not what you're asking for. You've opened my ears so I can listen.
Psa 40:7 So I answered, "I'm coming. I read in your letter what you wrote about me,
Psa 40:8 And I'm coming to the party you're throwing for me." That's when God's Word entered my life, became part of my very being.
Psa 40:9 I've preached you to the whole congregation, I've kept back nothing, GOD--you know that.
Psa 40:10 I didn't keep the news of your ways a secret, didn't keep it to myself. I told it all, how dependable you are, how thorough. I didn't hold back pieces of love and truth For myself alone. I told it all, let the congregation know the whole story.
Psa 40:11 Now GOD, don't hold out on me, don't hold back your passion. Your love and truth are all that keeps me together.
Psa 40:12 When troubles ganged up on me, a mob of sins past counting, I was so swamped by guilt I couldn't see my way clear. More guilt in my heart than hair on my head, so heavy the guilt that my heart gave out.
Psa 40:13 Soften up, GOD, and intervene; hurry and get me some help,
Psa 40:14 So those who are trying to kidnap my soul will be embarrassed and lose face, So anyone who gets a kick out of making me miserable will be heckled and disgraced,
Psa 40:15 So those who pray for my ruin will be booed and jeered without mercy.
Psa 40:16 But all who are hunting for you-- oh, let them sing and be happy. Let those who know what you're all about tell the world you're great and not quitting.
Psa 40:17 And me? I'm a mess. I'm nothing and have nothing: make something of me. You can do it; you've got what it takes-- but God, don't put it off. (The MESSAGE)
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Luk 15:5 When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing,
Luk 15:6 and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, 'Celebrate with me! I've found my lost sheep!'
Luk 15:7 Count on it--there's more joy in heaven over one sinner's rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.
I have been asked by a friend of my son to come to hospital and talk to his mother. She is in the final stages of cancer and will die soon. She does not know where she will spend eternity. Her son is worried about her, and asked for my help. I am most humbled and challenged by his request. Looking for lost sheep has been one of my passions, and this is truly one of those lost sheep. I'm challenged that I must trust God to speak through me, that he will speak to her, that he touch her heart, that she hears, and that she responds.....this soul is so valuable to God that Christ died for her. I pray that today angels will rejoice over a sinner rescued.
Are there lost sheep around you looking for a shepherd? Pray for an opportunity to tell them about your shepherd.
Saturday, January 13, 2007
I have held the hands of many as they left this world for the next, many friends I think of now and still miss dearly. I love those hands! The hands given to the use of God, lives dedicated to serve the kingdom of God. Those hands are dear to God, and their work will be rewarded. Their efforts are not in vain.
There is a reward for what we do here. Often I don't feel that what I do is that important, but God does. He values each life given to him, each hand used for his kingdom, each smile shared for Christ. Death is not the end of our lives, there is a day when we will see the reward for the work our hands have done...those well worn hands used for God.
Heb 6:18 God can't break his word. And because his word cannot change, the promise is likewise unchangeable. We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. (The Message)
Ecc 9:10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might; for there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol where you are going. (NASB)
Friday, January 12, 2007
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Our core sin issues as humans are pride and idolatry. It's the desire to put ourselves first, most important, most wise....it's PRIDE. And its twin sister is idolatry. It's my desire to decide what I will worship.
I have a friend, who is a Christian counselor, who says that all sins in the heart and life of the human being come down to these two- pride and idolatry.
We have discussed it for hours, looking at the bible, distilling all we know down to it's core issues, and he's right....it all comes down to pride and idolatry.
And, may I tell you, that after more than 55 years of life I'm really good at both of these! "Hi, my name is Mike. I'm proud and I'm an idol worshiper!" Yup, that's us...the proud, the idol worshippers.
The battle of the human heart is to worship God alone, thus eliminating idolatry. And to bow our knees to his lordship, thus eliminating pride. I'm working on this daily. It's the walk of each one of us...as Paul describes it, "walk in the spirit and you will not fulfill the deeds of the flesh."
It's the challenge of our lives to live in light of the God who made us. The God who wants our undivided worship. It's my desire to be one who walks with God. It's my desire to bow my knee to his lordship. It's a moment by moment challenge. It's a walk of faith.
Don't read the bible unless you want to please God.
Don't read the bible unless you care about eternity.
Don't read the bible unless you want to become more than you are.
Don't read the bible unless you care about others.
Don't read the bible unless you want to know more than you can see.
Don't read the bible unless you want to know the future.
Don't read the bible unless you want peace.
Be careful....if you read the bible it will change your eternity....it will change YOU!
Heb 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Heb 4:13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
It's not a new publication, but very good, it's titled "The divine conspiracy" by Dallas Willard.
I'm also part way through one called "When bad Christians happen to good people" by Dave Burchett. It's also very good.
What are you reading?
Monday, January 08, 2007
Ok, now for some deep thoughts from a shallow mind. Realize that profound is just a word to me, and I live in the world of application (so what do I do with that?) So my thoughts will not stir you to great heights, but I do hope they will encourage you.
The older I get the simpler things become.
It's not that I have things figured out, but I have lived long enough to make some simple observations. My conclusions are rather simple. After years in business and in ministry I have seen a lot. My friendships have been with the rich and with the needy. I have spent time with the "pretty people" and with those who find themselves the outcasts of their culture. I have friends who have multiple educational degrees and others who didn't finish high school.
I could continue with the contrasts, there are many of them, but the truth is that life comes down to some very simple things- 1. There is a God I will report to, and 2. the only thing that will last in this world are people.
So, I have decided to focus on those two things- God and people. The rest is just "bling", as our culture describes it. The rest are just distractions from the most important things.
Jesus said it best, so let me close this short post with his words,
Mat 6:33 Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
Mat 6:34 "Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.
I am really looking forward to hearing the guys coming here from Biola. I hope to see you.
Saturday, January 06, 2007
It's frustrating to have read the bible through hundreds of times, and still have things I need to work on. I guess I am really frustrated with the reality of my ever active, ever present sin nature, how desperately wicked I am, and how fallen we all are. It's such a bother to have to deal with this sin nature. For me, the best part of heaven will be the absense of my sin nature. Oh sure, I will love the new body, and the new home and eternity, but to be rid of this sin nature....I cannot wait!
I read the word, pray and gradually grow, rowing toward the goal....and yet the me I started with is still active, still busy, still trying to get his own way. For all of us it's the weight we long to unload, the anchor that slows our progress.
I vividly remember the comments from one of our men in the church when we had to announce the fall of a friend. He came up to me with tears, and wept, "I hate sin, I hate sin...." He couldn't say anything else. Well, that describes it for me. That's the place I have come to- a deep hatred for sin and what it does, and in the shadow of that I am also working on another thing, quite the opposite...
I'm comsumed by Jesus' simple instructions to a religion leader who asked, "what's the most important thing?" Jesus replied, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
I am teaching on this tomorrow, but it has become more than a simple topic to teach through, it is weaving its golden threads through all that I am. I can't wait to see what these words do in my life, for they are becoming most important to me.
I am convinced of this one thing- If I work on nothing else in my entire Christian life other than these two things-to love God and love my neighbor, I will have a great walk with God!
Friday, January 05, 2007
Psa 37:7 Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him;
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Ecc 9:3 I find this outrageous--the worst thing about living on this earth--that everyone's lumped together in one fate. Is it any wonder that so many people are obsessed with evil? Is it any wonder that people go crazy right and left? Life leads to death. That's it.
Ecc 9:4 Still, anyone selected out for life has hope, for, as they say, "A living dog is better than a dead lion."
Ecc 9:5 The living at least know something, even if it's only that they're going to die. But the dead know nothing and get nothing. They're a minus that no one remembers.
Ecc 9:6 Their loves, their hates, yes, even their dreams, are long gone. There's not a trace of them left in the affairs of this earth.
Ecc 9:7 Seize life! Eat bread with gusto, Drink wine with a robust heart. Oh yes--God takes pleasure in your pleasure!
Ecc 9:8 Dress festively every morning. Don't skimp on colors and scarves.
Ecc 9:9 Relish life with the spouse you love each and every day of your precarious life. Each day is God's gift. It's all you get in exchange For the hard work of staying alive. Make the most of each one!
Ecc 9:10 Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily! This is your last and only chance at it, For there's neither work to do nor thoughts to think In the company of the dead, where you're most certainly headed.
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Rev 3:2 'Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God.
Rev 3:3 'So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.