Saturday, July 11, 2015

Choices: How does "this" glorify God?

Hello all who come to this page,
     And welcome once again!  A couple of years ago, my oldest child became a teenager and with sweetness and a beautifully submissive attitude she came to us to see what we thought about her buying an i-touch (we were gizmo-less folk at that time).  We began to explore the idea of that together, as well as talking about many other aspects of life and growing in independence and what kinds of foundational truths can help us make God-glorifying decisions.  It prompted our family to make a list of guiding questions for us to make use of, and it has gradually morphed into the following )which can be applied to many decisions that come our way in life)...I share as a means of potentially encouraging you somehow: 

How does “this” edify or build up or equip or comfort or promote peace in Christ?
  • Eph 4:29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.
  • Titus 3:8 This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.

If we are “surfing”/spending time in front of electronics (or fill in the blank with some other activity), is it aiding our growth in Christ or acting as a distraction?  Are we meditating/thinking on those things which are true, pure, etc?
  • 1 Tim 4:12-16  Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit,* in faith, in purity.  Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.  Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership.  Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all.  Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.
  • Phil 4:8-9   Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things.  The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

Are we choosing triviality or profitability?
  • Matt 12:35-36  A good man out of the good treasure of his heart  brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.   But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.   
  • Eph 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
  • 2 Thess. 3:10b-13…essence, are you being a busy body or doing good

What will we do in secret, when no man sees us but God to whom we will give account does?
  • Eccl 12:9-14  And moreover, because the Preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yes, he pondered and sought out and set in order many proverbs.  The Preacher sought to find acceptable words; and what was written was upright — words of truth.  The words of the wise are like goads, and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd.  And further, my son, be admonished by these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh.  Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man's all.
 For God will bring every work into judgment,
Including every secret thing,
Whether good or evil.

Do we remember the mission God has privileged us to become a part of when He adopted us into His family?
  • Eph 4:11-24   And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,  for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,  till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;  that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,  but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ —   from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.  This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of  the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind,  having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart;  who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.  But you have not so learned Christ,  if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus:  that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,  and be renewed in the spirit of your mind,  and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
  • Matt 5:14-16  "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.   Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.   Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Are we only asking “what’s wrong with it?” or do we also ask “what is right about it?” ~ see 1 Cor. 10:23-24…it may be “lawful”, but is it helpful…it may be “lawful”, but will it edify? 
  • 1 Cor 10:23-24   All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me,* but not all things edify.  Let no one seek his own, but each one the other's well-being.
  • Heb 10:19-25   Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus,  by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh,  and having a High Priest over the house of God,  let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.  And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,  not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

When the righteous suffer, part 2

"And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again.

Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented —  of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.

And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." ~ Hebrews 11:32-12:1

God is at work in us and through us.  Listen to Paul as he writes from prison: "But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear." ~ Philippians 1:12-14

Job wrestled passionately with God, but he did not forsake Him, and through his trials God drew Him closer to Himself.  Jacob wrestled with God and God blessed Him.  We do not have to slap a smile on our face and pretend suffering does not really exist.  Wrestle.  The theme of crying out to the Lord is an oft repeated one...crying out in faith, trusting God is a Deliverer, a Comforter, a Mighty God who is able to vindicate us when we are wronged.
Psalm 56:8-11
"You number my wanderings;
Put my tears into Your bottle;
Are they not in Your book? 
When I cry out to You,
Then my enemies will turn back;
This I know, because God is for me. 
In God (I will praise His word),
In the Lord (I will praise His word), 
In God I have put my trust;
I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?"

It can be very hard to believe God is for us when circumstantially so many things seem to be against us...commands to "not fret" and to "count it all joy" are impossible without faith in the Living God and the strength He supplies.  It is a minute by minute exercise for many of our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world, and it may be for you too. May the One who spoke this world into existence give us the grace to believe He is for us, and let us cry out to Him while doing the next right thing He sets before us, trusting that He will provide and deliver according to His wisdom and goodness.

"My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord — that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful." ~  James 5:10-11

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

When the righteous suffer...

Heb 11:4 tells us "By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks."  Abel was murdered by his brother.

Job 1:1 makes it clear that Job "was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil."  He knew very well degrees of suffering most of us never come close to.

Genesis 6:8 announces that "Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord."  Noah's ark is often depicted as a cute little Sunday school story, but think about it...Was it easy to build that ark in the face of the evil and mockery of his day?  What about living in the confines of the ark while everything outside of the ark that he'd ever known was being destroyed by floodwaters? What about the work that followed the day when the waters finally receded?  Do you think Noah's view of salvation by God, in whose eyes he found grace, had anything to do with the tenets of the health, wealth, and prosperity "gospel" preached today? 

The Apostle Paul was a faithful servant of God, spending and being spent for the gospel of Jesus Christ, and he tells us in 2 Cor 11:23-28 that in the course of his service, he suffered stripes above measure, was put into prison, was beaten with rods, stoned, was shipwrecked three times, faced the trials of much travel, faced the perils of robbers and so many other kinds of difficulties that it is hard to list them all.

My friends, as we suffer let us be encouraged by Peter who tells us:
"Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people's matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter." (1 Peter 4:12-16)

And James who reminds us:
"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him." (James 1:2-6)

We can do that only when we know our God is sovereign, He is good, He is wise, He loves us, He is compassionate and just.  Our pastor preached a very helpful sermon on this last Sunday called the Patience of the Prophets and Job, and I highly recommend it.  May God help us to endure, to walk by faith, and to trust He is not wasting our pain. And may we grow in our ability to weep with those who weep.  God help us!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

That We May Obtain Mercy

Some adversities harden and embitter, and others produce covetable beauty and grace in the lives of those who suffer them.  William Secker pointed out so poignantly that whether friend or foe of God, suffering will have an effect:  “Suffering seasons have generally been sifting seasons, in which the Christian has lost his chaff and the hypocrite his courage.” 

Thomas Watson makes the point that God’s mercies and their fruits are also arranged by God when he said, “The mercies of God make a sinner proud, but a saint humble.” 

As true as these sentiments are in general, they are not formulaic.  We like formulas…we like predictability.  Yet, it is not that simple.  Just ask Job...the advice of his friends was full of formulaic misapplication of truths.  Let's be careful to appreciate the general truth that God is indeed at work to mold and shape us via the varied circumstances He ordains for us to walk through, but not in a formulaic fashion that is ready to judge oneself or others based on a particular event or time of life. 

God is FREE, He’s sovereign, He’s got all power and wisdom and authority, and He is good, merciful, kind, gracious and abounding in love towards His children.  And if we are in Christ, we need to entrust ourselves to the One who has told us unequivocally that we are His workmanship and that He will complete the good work He has begun. 

Our transformation is not complete in a day.  Our Father conforms us over time to be like Jesus.  Be patient with yourself and with others.  Sometimes I find myself losing courage, feeling hardened and embittered or proud rather than resembling the beautiful, grace-filled, humble child I know I ought to be as one of God's kids in response to both suffering and His mercies. Do you? He is still at work.  Tell the Accuser to go jump in a lake, and continue to entrust yourself to your Father who will help you get back up.  A righteous man that falls seven times, gets up eight.  Our Father is not finished with us yet.

I know from repeated experience that when we see ourselves falling, it is a mighty good time to cry out to the Living God who is rich in mercy and gives us this encouraging word:
"Seeing then that we have a great High Priest 
who has passed through the heavens, 
Jesus the Son of God,
let us hold fast our confession.  
For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, 
but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.  
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, 
that we may obtain mercy 
and find grace to help in time of need." 
~ Hebrews 4:14-16

Saturday, December 21, 2013

He makes His face to shine upon us

Nearly every week for the past 20+ years, I have heard the Aaronic blessing from Numbers 6:24-26:
"The LORD bless thee, and keep thee:
The LORD make his face shine upon thee,
and be gracious unto thee:
The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee,
and give thee peace."

What an amazing blessing!  The LORD makes His face shine upon us...The Holy One, Creator of everything, THIS LORD makes His face shine upon us (the ones loaded down with guilt and shame and fears and sorrows of various kinds). 

THIS LORD is gracious and gives peace.  

THIS LORD came and lived and died and rose for us...He will surely bless and keep all who belong to Him.  

As a parent, I have more than once taken the face of one of my downcast children and raised it up so they would have to look in my eyes ~ eyes that love them and want them to rest in that love.  My love is imperfect, but God's is not and He has taken everything that could ever keep us downcast (our sins & their punishment, our sorrows, our shame, our fears/anxieties, our sicknesses, etc) and nailed them with Jesus on the cross...He has clothed us in His robes of righteousness, honored us beyond comprehension by adopting us, healed us, washed us, and He takes our faces into His hands & lifts our heads up so we can see His eyes filled with love for us.  He makes His face to shine upon us!

Our family has been memorizing Philippians 4:8..."Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things." What a delight it is to do so...the downcast soon find themselves dancing before the LORD.

Saturday, November 2, 2013


When adopting our kids, we would occasionally hear comments about how we were “getting our children the easy way.”  That is debatable.  I would dare suggest that every child joins its family with a labor all its own.  But having had the privilege of witnessing 5 births over the years, and experiencing the journey of adoption 3 times, I would also quickly concede that childbirth-labors and adoption-labors have their differences.  But both involve a labor…a painful waiting…a waiting where fretting or getting overly worked up increases the difficulty, whereas breathing steady and doing the next right thing proves helpful.

Today I came across the word parturient.  I was doing a proofreading project for my friend, Pam Forster (let me make a quick, unabashed plug for her resources over at Doorposts).  Well, parturient means “to be in labor” and every mom can relate to that in her own way.  When looking up the Hebrew word that is translated “and wait patiently” in Psalm 37:7, I was very surprised to see that Strong’s definition included “to writhe in pain (especially of parturition)”.   Gesenius’ Lexicon refers to this word in this way: “To twist oneself in pain, to writhe, to be in pain, especially used of parturient women”.  After I finished proofreading, I went back to investigate this passage a little bit more.  I had never thought of "waiting patiently" in those terms.  But note the powerful imagery of a laboring woman as you read Psalm 37:7-8 ~  “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret — it only causes harm.” 

I came away quite encouraged!  We can quiet ourselves in the LORD, breathe steady (deliberately, intentionally) and do the next right thing in the face of the wicked and their schemes…the Psalm tells us how trustworthy the Lord is, how the wicked will be cut off, and how the righteous will inherit the earth…we labor and it is hard work, it is not passive; it is painful at times, but God WILL bring forth His fruit in our lives in His time.  I love the richness of this imagery. And the fruit of our labor will all be worth it.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Some borrowed encouragement

Hello Blog-friends (especially the moms this round)!  Today I simply want to encourage you to hop over HERE and consider how your kids rank.  Thank you Rachel J. for your powerful encouragement!