Monday, February 27, 2012
But today is not one of those times. It's a different kind of emotional turmoil. Today started out pretty good as I considered some of the things I've accomplished over the last few days. Church things. Family things. Overall, I felt good about it all.
Then I got some news that turned my thoughts. I'm concerned about something - I can't tell any details - going on in my circle. It creates a ripple in my plans but I'm more concerned about some folks that I care about. I'm struggling with my responsibility, not for the problem but for the solution.
That's kinda how I feel today. While I'm on my knees I'm going to pray. Praying for the people involved. Praying for me to know what to say and do. Praying for God's grace to win the day.
OK, I feel a little better now. I just needed to talk. Thanks for listening. I'm gonna go pray now.
Friday, February 24, 2012
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.(2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV)
Have you ever noticed how it’s always somebody else’s fault? “Mom, she’s poking me!” But he really was bugging her first. “Honey, I would never get loud with you except you kept hounding me about cleaning the garage.” “Yes, sir, I know I shouldn’t speak to customers that way but he was being unreasonable and blaming me for the problem.”
Now, we should all do better controlling our reaction to provocation. We are responsible for how we react. We are also responsible for how we act. Do you provoke others in ways that stir up problems?
Let’s bring this idea home. Do you expect your children to react in a godly way to provocation? Sure, they should but have you taught them how? The lessons they learn best from you are the examples you set. You can tell them again and again not to bully the younger siblings but then your actions teach that running over others is OK. What do you expect them to learn? How do you expect them to act?
Most of us get our ideas of how to discipline and instruct our children from our own parents. That’s a good resource if your parents disciplined and instructed you according to the word of God. But if they did not, then my advice to you is to seek the ways of the Lord in the area of parenting. By reading the Bible regularly you will find guidance. Christian bookstores will have plenty of material to help you. Talk with other Christian parents about the issues you face.
Many families need to break the cycle of provoking their children to anger and begin a pattern of godly discipline and instruction. Parents, this is your calling and responsibility. Do not take it lightly. Pray that God will help you as you discipline and instruct your children.
Thursday, February 23, 2012
The season of Lent is intended for our spiritual development. It's a time to draw near to God through confession, repentance, and service.
The "giving up" is a pathway but it often gets top billing. The reason for fasting is to allow time and resources for drawing near to God. We should be careful not to focus on the fast but on God who awaits along the way and at the end of the fast.
I'm cutting out sweets and sodas in order to get healthy. This will allow me to stay in ministry longer and be more effective while doing it.
I'm reducing time spent doing social media in order to give more time to study and make personal contact with members and prospects. Cutting back 50% so I'll only be on 12 hours a day.
Here's how to participate in Lent. First, confess your sins. Ask God to give you his list of your sins (Ps 139:23-24). Confess them with the expectation that God will forgive you (1 John 1:9). And be serious about it. When you realize how holy God is and how sinful you are, any other approach to confession falls short (James 4:8-10).
Second, find something to fast from. The purpose of fasting is to eliminate distractions that can hinder a person drawing near to God. Today, the fast during Lent is symbolic in that the person abstains from something for the forty days, experiencing the power of God to do so and spending the time and/or money focusing on God through Bible reading, prayer, and service.
Friday, February 17, 2012
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
In the last chapter we find Daniel in a similar situation as ours. He's heard from the Lord about the end of time. He doesn't understand it. He asks the Lord for more understanding. We can learn from God's answer to Daniel.
The Lord told Daniel to go on living to bring glory to God and not worry about what he doesn't understand. Those who live in the last days will find the understanding they need. There's no promise that anyone living prior to that time will gain a full understanding.
We would do well to heed God's advice and just go on living to bring glory to him. We do that by expressing our love to him, our love for him to others, our love for others. We bring glory to God by expressing his love for others to them. Our lives of joy and obedience bring glory to God. Strong marriages and families honor the Lord. There are so many ways that we can bring glory to God in our lives. That should be our focus.
It's good to understand God's word. I spend a lot of my time in that discipline. But I must admit that some things are beyond my understanding. But I do know that somehow God helps me know what I need to know for the situation I'm going through.
That's a good lesson from the last chapter of Daniel. God told Daniel go his way, to rest (in this life and in death), and be assured of the resurrection and reward that awaits his faithfulness.
That's how I want to live my life.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
I'm not ready to buy new pants yet or consider the local 5Ks but I do notice some improvement.
The road we walk on has a patch of newer asphalt. It's about fifteen feet long and is the width of the road. The first few times out I never saw it. We didn't go that far. Then we did. The first time we hit it we turned around just after we passed it. The next time we went a little farther.
The black stripe across the road became a marker in my mind that we were just about to turn around - I kept telling myself to keep up the pace because we had almost made the halfway point of the speed walk: ten minutes out, ten minutes in. After turning around we'd cross the black stripe within a minute or so.
Then it was farther back to the black stripe. And then farther.
Today we passed the black stripe and I started thinking that Forrest (our leader and way out in the lead) would turn around at the next light pole or driveway. He kept going. Soon I thought to myself, "We've never been this far on a speed day." Speaking the words out loud was an impossibility - I was breathing heavily and thankful that I could. The good thing about inertia is that once I get going I tend to keep going. It would have been harder on my knees and hips to stop than to keep going! So I kept the throttle wide open.
One light pole, then two. One driveway, then another. Then I saw the red house. We had been as far as the red house one other time but that was on an endurance day. I realized that Forrest was taking us to the red house on a speed day.
I've been bragging the last couple of weeks about how I'm not as tired or sore after our walks. Yesterday I told myself that I must not be pushing myself as much as before so I started out this morning determined to put more into it. It's not that I've been slacking it's just that the markers of the past are easier, commonplace. I'm used to walking a quick pace to the black stripe and turning around.
So I was determined to push myself today. The march to the black stripe was going to be at a pace that would push my lungs and muscles. And it did.
But Forrest kept going.
Do you get comfortable with your current spiritual walk with Jesus Christ? And you just keep doing what you've been doing? It's not bad it's just not growth and improvement. Where you are today with Christ is like that black stripe in the road. That's good enough, you may say. Or maybe just a little more, but not much. You may have convinced yourself that your walk with Jesus is just fine because you've been doing this for a while and you've got it down - no problems.
The problem is that there is so much more that you'll never experience if you keep doing what you've always done. Your experience with Christ yesterday is special. Like the black stripe, it will always be there as a reminder of where you've been. But yesterday's experience is not the goal. It's a step along the way.
We need to step out in faith and see how far God will take us.
By the way, Riley walks with us on Saturdays. Take your kids along on your spiritual journey, too.
Friday, February 10, 2012
Thursday, February 09, 2012
And Daniel is full of prophetic visions regarding the end of time. Last night in our Bible study we looked at a vision recorded in chapter 11. An angel gave Daniel the meaning of the vision. For Daniel and his contemporaries, all of the vision was future prophecy. But for me and my congregation, some of it has already happened and some is still yet to be. At least that's the way I understand it.
The events prophesied up through verse 35 can be traced in the history of ancient times. Kings from the north battle against kings from the south. The advantage goes one way then another. Daughters are offered in marriage as part of treaties. The Bible and the history books show so much agreement that we believe the prophecy has been fulfilled.
Then starting in verse 36 the angel's message is about events still future to us. History does not record any events that match up to the biblical record. That can mean one of two things. Either the Bible is wrong or the events have not yet occurred. I believe the latter is correct.
I have great confidence that Jesus is returning. I believe just prior to his return there will be a terrible time of persecution - the Great Tribulation. But upon Jesus' return the dead in Christ will rise to be with him forever and the unbelieving dead will rise for eternal judgment. I believe this because the Bible tells us it will happen.
But how can a person have such confidence in scripture? Daniel chapter 11 provides one answer. If the prophecy in the first part of the chapter was fulfilled (remember, the prophecy came and was written down prior to the events occurring) with extreme accuracy, then I can expect the prophecy in the last part of the chapter to also be fulfilled with great accuracy.
Only God could give a vision like that. Only God could know the future. Only God can direct cosmic and human events with such precision. And God will bring to pass the balance of the prophecy in the Bible.
Most importantly, I have confidence in my salvation through Jesus Christ. I know I am a sinner and that my sin breaks off relationship with God. I also know that God loves me (and you) so much that he sent his son Jesus to die on a cross as the sacrifice necessary to cover my sins and make me right with God. And I know that when I (or you) call on the name of Jesus, confessing my sin and repenting of it, I will be forgiven, made right with God, empowered to live this life for him, and assured of an eternal home in heaven with him.
I don't understand everything about end-time prophecy. How all this unfolds may surprise me. But I am confident that God's word is true.
Thursday, February 02, 2012
Apparently, Tebow doesn't adhere to that teaching. Neither do I. The Bible says too much about enduring trials and suffering. The prosperity gospel ignores this.
So Tim Tebow is standing firm in his faith. This time he's likely to hear from complaints from a wide variety of folks.
But he's getting admiration from me.