I’ll sometimes joke that I was born late… and that was the last time I’ve ever been late. This is not entirely true but for the most part I tend to live by the rule of “on-time means 5 minutes early and 7’o clock does not mean 7:01.” It’s relatively easy (for me at least) to live like this habitually when it comes to making meetings and appointments. There are other aspects of my life where I tend to be much more willing to flex, waiver, delay, and procrastinate.
Yesterday I received a Facebook update which informed me that a guy I graduated with just died. I’m 41 and he would have been approximately the same age. His father posted about the situation, saying “Charlie” had been diagnosed with a brain tumor just 10 days prior and was scheduled for surgery in the very near future. There was great optimism regarding the prognosis after surgery but then Charlie just passed away in his sleep.
Honestly, I never really liked Charlie in high school. In fact, despise for Charlie would be a more appropriate way to describe how I felt about him back then. Nearly twenty-five years laters however I’m far removed from those foolish childhood memories. Charlie may have grown into a fine young man… a Christian man of unwavering resolve and faith.
Or not. Maybe Charlie was a vocal atheist. Maybe he was on the fence of commitment to Christ with several people working hard to witness to him. We’ll probably never know. The reality is that there is a matter in which “too late” has eternal significance. I’m not sure how many of us live our lives with this understanding at the forefront of our focus.
Do you recall what it was like to first fall in love? I’ll never forget the times of falling in love with my wife Stacy and my Lord Jesus. I don’t always live my life with them under the same level of passion and commitment as I once did. If you can relate to what I’m saying I’ll share a scripture with you that has recently touched me deeply. If it touches you I pray that you can do something about it before it is too late. Blessed is Best!!
“I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.” (Revelation 2:3-5)
Several weeks ago I posed a challenge to let our 2015 New Year’s Resolutions be focused more on spiritual matters as opposed to physical (although I still need to lose some weight). Hopefully you were able to take some time and reflect on your heart/spiritual condition of 2014 and come up with some areas to improve in next year. Here are a couple areas we might all be able to consider.
Be a spiritual leader: Author Doug Wilson, author of reforming marriage wrote “A man may not be a vocational theologian, but in his home, he needs to be the resident theologian.” Is this an area you could improve in this upcoming year? If you’re not sure, ask your wife and kids.
Lead with humility: Men may be called by God to lead their wives, but our leadership should be selfless. Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” Put this verse into practice and it will solve 95 percent of the issues you face.
Be a godly, courageous man: First Corinthians 16:13 gives a clear definition of biblical masculinity: “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.” Before we can be godly husbands, we must be men of courage. Wrapped up in that definition of what it means to be a man is the idea of courage, with the the essence of courage being to have such a great fear of God that you fear nothing else.
Ideally, we’d each live a life where everyday we sincerely desire to be a more godly man than we were the day before. There is nothing wrong though with committing to make significant changes at the start of a new year…. so will you? The above 3 are areas that I’ve come to understand that I can improve in. Feel free to use them as well or develop your own. Blessed is Best!!
As a follow-up of Chad’s latest (Impact), I choose to impact my brother Chad. I know he appreciates a breather from the blog. May this be momentum for me, similiar to financial guru Dave Ramsay’s paying off the small bills (first), to gain momentum for bigger bills, or in this case Blessings.
Well, in my household there’s a lot of post mission processing going on. This brings both good and bad news.
It’s very sobering knowing that we Americans, and yes Canadians too, are not the norm when it comes to standards of living. Just a few facts;
1. Half the world lives on less than $2.50 per day.
2. More slaves (sex,labor,child, and child soldiers) exist today (in the world) than ever before in human history.
3. We spend more annually on trash bags than nearly half the world spends on all goods combined.
Excess has impaired the people in America, we are the richest people in the world, praying to get richer.
It’s easy to dismiss all these grim facts but that’s NOT we are called to do. I believe we can each find our own gifting/cause to make a difference – and see it through. Then, indeed, we would become “good news to the poor” Luke 4:18
Let us be thankful for where we live, our family and friends. Let’s, most of all, celebrate Christmas and the good news it brings. Knowing that a life in Christ is everlasting – It’s great news for everyone. An angel put it this way: ” I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior-yes, the Messiah, the Lord-has been born today in Bethlehem” (Luke 2:10-11)
Shared by Doug Ross
A recent song I heard on WJTL sung by Point Of Grace (a more realistic account of His birth over 2000 years ago)
Labor Of Love
(Songwriter: Andrew Peterson)
It was not a silent night
There was blood on the ground
You could hear a woman cry
In the alleyways that night
On the streets of David’s town
And the stable was not clean
And the cobblestones were cold
And little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
Had no mother’s hand to hold
It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love
Noble Joseph at her side
Callused hands and weary eyes
There were no midwives to be found
On the streets of David’s town
In the middle of the night
So he held her and he prayed
Shafts of moonlight on his face
For the baby in her womb
He was the maker of the moon
He was the author of the faith
That could make the mountains move
“And He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.” (2nd Corinthians 5:15)
I spend a lot of time thinking about myself. Not necessarily in a vain “how do I look” kind of way, but most of my thoughts directly involve me. My spiritual life seems to follow this same trend. On one hand I’m happy to have a renewed passion for for God, however, my focus is almost exclusively on myself and my role as a father and husband. I desire to effectively represent the Christian faith when at work and in the community, but tend to show little care for the lives of others and the fact that (besides the pain they experience today) they may end up spending an eternity in hell.
Let’s shift gears for just a second and try to ponder the magnificence of what heaven and eternal life in the direct presence of the almighty will be. For the best visual description of heaven we can gain from the Bible I’d recommend reading Revelation 21:10-27. The bottom line is that it will be incredible, the trials and struggles we face while on earth are nothing in comparison to the eternal reward we will soon receive. I’m not sure Christians appreciate this enough, if so, we’d all place a greater emphasis on bringing others along with us…. avoiding the reality of not making it to heaven.
I’m certainly no expert in this area, in fact, it has been quite a while since I’ve lead someone to the Lord. The great commission in Matthew 28:18-20 calls us to go and spread the message of salvation through the cross. I believe we’ve lost the importance of this mission in our dependance on keeping the focus of our relationship with Jesus on ourselves. Let’s focus our relationship on knowing Him so that we can share the truth of His love, grace, and mercy with others. This is when He will take care of all the other things we think we need and even the things we do not yet know we need.
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these
What shall I return to the LORD for all his goodness to me? (Psalm 116:12)
Sorry Lord, but I think I’m going to ask you to take a rain check. It’s not that I am not thankful for all the things you’ve done for me…. there is just a lot of stuff going on in my life right now. I’ll eventually be ready to live my life for you, but now is not the time. Thanks for understanding. By the way, would you mind doing this one last thing for me? Oh, and please don’t forget about that other problem going on.
But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. (1st Timothy 1:16)
The mercy He has shown us is unbelievable. His patience is immense beyond comprehension. Look at all He has done for us and look how we live. There is no way we can fully grasp the true significance of what He did and continues to do and live they way that we do. I feel as if for way too long I’ve been asking God to take a rain check. Since He is so patient I’m sure He can wait a little longer. It is time to return Him something for all of His goodness towards me…. hold on while I get my checkbook.
Brothers…. He does not want our money. God wants out heart! Eternal life is coming for us who believe and its going to be amazing. I’m not quite sure that others in your life will be quite as excited when the Lord does suddenly appear. I’ve been realizing this more than ever recently and have an urge to do something about it. Would you join me in this if I asked? I can’t do it alone… We need support from our brothers in Christ. We have a choice to make. Do we want to get serious and make the decisions that will allow us to become “that man” we need to be so we can do the things God has called us to do…. or do we just want to once again tell Him to take a rain check.
God said to Solomon, “Ask What I shall give you.” (1st Kings 3:5)
I wonder what my reply would have been had had God asked this same question to me. Solomon’s response was to have an understanding mind that could discern between good and evil… Wisdom. I’m sad to say that my response would have likely been much more self-centered. Solomon desired wisdom so that he could lead God’s people according to what is right. It so pleased God that Solomon requested this thing that He gave it to him abundantly, God also gave him riches and honor even though he did not ask for them. I’d say there is a lesson here to be learned.
Get wisdom, get understanding;
do not forget my words or turn away from them.
Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
love her, and she will watch over you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
Cherish her, and she will exalt you;
embrace her, and she will honor you.
She will give you a garland to grace your head
and present you with a glorious crown.”
I often find myself asking God for things. My prayer life can too easily become centered around thanking Him for what he has given me, and almost simultaneously asking Him for more. What God really wants to give us is Himself…. knowledge of Him…. wisdom. James 1:5 tells us that “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” What a great promise! James 3:7 further instructs, “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”
“Happy is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding.” (Proverbs 3:13)
“He who gets wisdom loves himself.” (Proverbs 19:8)
“To get wisdom is better than gold; to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.” (Proverbs 16:16)
Here are 5 simple biblical instructions for getting wisdom:
1) Desire wisdom with all your might
2) Apply yourself to study and meditate on the Word of God
4) Think of the shortness of our life. Psalm 90:12 “So teach us to number our days that
we may get a heart of wisdom.”
5) Get Jesus! “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us
wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption” 1st
My simple point this morning is that we should “get wisdom.” We should bend all our efforts to become wiser tomorrow than we are today. We need wisdom more than we need anything in our life. Let us examine the focus of our prayers. Do we ask more frequently for things or for wisdom? Wisdom = Jesus = Everything we ever need
Like Solomon, may we please God by asking for wisdom instead of things. We each desire to be blessed, well….. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied (Matthew 5:6). Be hungry and thirsty. Blessed is Best
Pastor Dan Travis pointed out something in his sermon last week that I’ve been guilty of many times before. There have been so many times I’ve wanted to “make a deal” with God, if He does… then I will. Is this a strategy in your relationship with God? I’m sure we have all been guilty of this at one time or another. The last time I did this in my heart was less than a day before this relationship method was pointed out by Pastor.
God already made a deal with us and there is no need for little side deals. He has given us many promises and everything that we need is found in Him. The past several weeks have been a real challenge for me both physically and spiritually. The spiritual struggle seems to be a result of my physical issues. I’ve just not felt well for several weeks and it has impacted the quality of my 1:1 time with God. As a result, this blog post you are reading was not composed until just yesterday. Typically, I have them written at least a week in advance and sometimes I’m several weeks ahead.
Back to playing “Let’s Make a Deal” with God… These are the words of Paul as found in 2nd Corinthians 11:23-30
Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.
Phew! Paul’s list is a bit overwhelming. Imagine if that happened to you? If I were in his shoes I’d be thinking: “What, God? I did all these wonderful things in Your name, and you still let me get stuck in jail! Come on now, why do I keep getting beat up and shipwrecked? Isn’t there someone else you could bestow these ‘privileges’ on and give me a break?”
But Paul didn’t base his obedience on the fact that God was going to do something great for him—or that God was going to make his life easy. He knew that living a righteous life didn’t guarantee that he would be healthy, wealthy, and wise.
He didn’t say, “God, if you do x, y, and z in my life, I’ll obey.”
Instead he said, “I will obey.” Period!
Wow. Isn’t that amazing? Paul’s obedience was his response to salvation. He had a right standing before God, and nothing else mattered. Whether good things or bad things happened to him, his faith was immovable. He believed God when He said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
This is the attitude we need to have. After all, God rescued us and made us holy. He saved us from eternity in hell. We should follow Paul’s example and obey the Lord because we love Him, not because we expect worldly blessings in return. May this be my new attitude… may it be yours. Blessed is Best!!
Three men “will” wonder… “What is the reason, what is the purpose, why, when, and how.” These men are not alone as they ponder this, it is a question on the heart of all who have lived. Some will never find the answer, many believe they have found the solution on their own. Our society embraces ideologies of “self-help” and “individuality” far beyond those of “dependence” and “purpose.” For those who do not know God, the answer “IS” right before them, hidden or yet perceived as mere foolishness. On the other hand, many Christian believers desire to know the Will of God in their life. It is in His Will that we understand the reason, purpose, when, why, and how. In His Will is where we find our joy and purpose. If this is what we all want and need so badly, how can we discover it?
We must first trust that God does truly have a purpose for our life regardless current circumstances. Jeremiah 29:11-13, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” In Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” We can clearly see that each scripture above assures us that God will….. “IF.” It is when we acknowledge and seek Him with all of our heart that we can know His Will.
Almost always, our problem with knowing God’s Will is in our ability to do the “IF” part. Developing a godly conscience is essential and can only be accomplished by saturating our minds with the Word of God. In doing this our decisions will become more Christlike over time. “And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2). Besides not spending enough time discovering who God is, Christians also generally deal with several primary hindrances to knowing and accepting His Will.
1. Self-will: If you have already made up your mind, it will be difficult to hear what the Lord wants you to do.
2. Doubt: Matthew 7:7 says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find.” Don’t second-guess God’s promises (James 1:6-8).
3. Unworthiness: Don’t believe the lie that you are undeserving of the Lord’s guidance, grace and love.
4. Busyness: If your life is too full to pray, you need to re-evaluate your priorities.
5. Fear: When revealed, God’s will can seem impossible or foolish. But remember, the Lord can bring good out of every situation (Romans 8:28).
6. Known sin: If you are determined to live a rebellious life, the Father will not fully reveal His will to you.
You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Suppose we’re now at the point in our life where we are seeking and acknowledging Him in all of our ways and believe He is revealing His Will to us… How can we know “for sure” that we’ve heard Him correctly? We are now talking about “Knowing God’s Voice,” the subject of numerous books, articles, and sermons. Some may struggle with the fact that God does indeed speak to us. In letters to Christians in Rome and Galatians, Paul refers to believers as “led by the Spirit” (Rom. 8:14; Gal. 5:18). It would be difficult to lead someone with whom you were not communicating. The same is true for the Holy Spirit. If we’re going to be led by Him, we can only assume He is more than willing—and able—to speak to us. The following guidelines can be applied when trying to discern if you’ve heard from God correctly:
A. Is it consistent with the Word of God?
B. Is it a wise decision?
C. Can I honestly ask the Lord to help me achieve this?
D. Do I have genuine peace about it?
E. Does this decision fit who I am as a follower of Jesus? Does it fit the Lord’s overall plan for my life?
F. Will this decision honor God?
Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.
In conclusion, if you want to know God’s plan for your life, faithfully apply biblical principles. When you believe that you have truly discerned His Will for your life don’t let doubt, fear, or willful sin keep you from obeying him. More important than anything is truly making Him the number one priority in your life. If you want what He has for you, you need to give what you have to Him– you. Blessed is Best!
Proverbs 4: 5-9
Get wisdom; get insight;
do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.
“I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you,
who directs you in the way you should go.”
For years I’ve often said that my greatest strength is also my greatest weakness. Although technically undiagnosed, I believe a certain level of OCD resides within me. It can be a blessing when channeled in the right direction, destruction when it is not. This blessing which allows me to accomplish substantial tasks in record time, has also led me into paths of addiction at various times of my life. This attribute which caused me to complete all known assignments for a graduate level college class in the first two weeks is the same quality that causes me to so easily lose focus of the true priorities in my life.
It would seem so easy if we could have God lead us with a pillar of smoke and fire as He did the Israelites. Yet, they still managed to wander 40 years in the desert before receiving what God had promised them. Ironically enough, at 40 years old I am feeling as if for the first time in my life, I’m truly receiving the promises God has made to me. Many of my previous struggles have revolved around decisions to a commitment to “follow” or “not follow” God. Feeling that I’ve finally decided to follow, I now seek to be “lead” on a “moment-by-moment” basis.
There is nothing more wonderful than knowing that you are precisely where God wants you to be at a specific moment, doing exactly what he wants you to do. I believe it is in these places where God reveals himself to us at the most personal and intimate levels. The greatest challenge comes when we try to be “lead” each moment while managing and balancing our many responsibilities related to home, work, and ministry. To overly simplify the situation… there are bills to pay, children to raise, “lost” to be saved, and most importantly our God to seek.
I’ve shared all this so I may make one simple request, “Can it snow tomorrow?” If it does I promise I’ll make the time to take all 3 of my boys out and prove to them why I call myself the “Snow Ninja.” Can my wife ask me again to please tell her what (delicious) meals I’d like her to make this week. If it snows tomorrow, I’ll focus a little more on helping one child make that perfect paper airplane, take just a moment to see the newest level reached on “tank destroyer” by a 5 year old, or take a teenager out to drive for the first time on snowy roads. I missed out on all these precious moments yesterday because I was more focused on “working” on something I thought God would have wanted me to. Next time I’ll ask, rather than assume.
At times we can become so passionate about something, no matter how good (or Godly) it may be, that we fail to focus on doing what God would like us to be doing. We have no “Pillar of Smoke or Fire” to show us, but we do have the Holy Spirit within us. Among many names for the Holy Spirit, He is known to be our “Counselor and Guide.” I’m thankful at this moment that He is also our “Teacher.” At first I mourned for the “snow of yesterday” that I lost, I now rejoice in the “everything of today and tomorrow” I’ll now gain.
“God, may I seek and desire to be where You would lead me every moment of my life. May my calendar and daily schedule be set according to your appointments. I thank You for allowing me the freedom and flexibility to make choices and have options. Knowing this, may my choices be those that bring the most Glory to you, and blessing to others. One last thing, please let it snow.”