Monday, April 30, 2007

Do I Love Much?

In the May issue of CCM magazine there was a column by Louie Gigio (Passion Worship Conferences) called Simply Worship. He talks a little about worship styles and the battle in many churches related to that.

The point of the article is to direct us to what Biblical worship is all about and that it’s not just music.

He talks about the story in Luke 7 where Jesus was eating at the house of one of the Pharisees. A woman of the city, who was a sinner, showed up. How would you like to be known that way? “Oh yeah, he’s that sinner.” Of course, in reality, that is every one of us.

So she comes in, washes His feet with her tears, dries them with her hair and anoints his feet with an ointment. The Pharisee criticizes Jesus in his mind – how could he allow himself to be touched by such a woman.

Jesus tells the man a parable about differing debts being forgiven and sums it up in this way: “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” Luke 7:47

Here is a paragraph from the article that really grabbed me:

Worship begins the instant we glimpse mercy, that moment we find ourselves in the most helpless of states, doomed by our own choices and standing in the shadow of certain and just judgment. In an instant, God could rightfully condemn us, yet surprisingly, kindness smiles and love overwhelms, opening a way for Mercy to appear and save the day. Our guilty eyes open to behold the Star Breather becoming the Sin Bearer, the Universe Maker becoming Mankind's Savior.
Wow, there it is. This is the heart of worship. My sins are many, I deserve judgment and death but instead I receive mercy and forgiveness.

Here is how the article ended: To see mercy is to offer everything. To offer everything is to truly worship.

That’s what I want.

Philip

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Why Resist Temptation?

At a Bible Study last night, I had a revelation. It will probably change my life.

The subject was temptation. Here is the passage: 1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life--is not from the Father but is from the world.

It was pointed out that in using the word all, the passage is telling us that all temptation can be traced to one of the three things mentioned. The leader then went on to say that temptation is a perversion of something good that God wants to give us.

Take sex for example. God created it and it is good but we are tempted to give into a perversion of sex such as fornication, adultery or masturbation.

Or how about food? God made food that tastes good and we need it to live. But we are tempted to give into a perversion of food through gluttony or eating disorders.

Possessions can be the same. There is a lot of stuff that we need and things in themselves are not wrong. But we are tempted to give into a perversion of things when we become greedy or covetous.

Here is my revelation: I realized that when I give into temptation I am suffering a double loss. First, I don’t get the good thing that God wants to give me and second, I don’t gain what I thought the temptation was going to give me.

I’m going to burn that thought in my mind. I want to remember it when I am tempted.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Consequence of Belief

While listening to a message today I was reminded of a section of Scripture.

James 1:5-8 says, If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Isn’t that an awesome promise? God freely offers the wisdom I need every day. It doesn’t say that I have to go to Bible college or fulfill a required course of study or complete an internship. All I have to do is ask.

The only condition is asking in faith and believing. If you doubt, it doesn’t work. No double mindedness is allowed.

So what causes that doubt. One thing would be if we don’t know of God’s character. How can you ask in faith if you don’t know who God is? Another problem is if we have alternate sources. “Well, if God doesn’t come through I’ll…”

A final thing is that we need to know that we need it.

This is from Clarke’s Commentary: Wisdom signifies in general knowledge of the best end, and the best means of attaining it.

An ancient Greek maxim: “The knowledge of ignorance is the beginning of knowledge.”

We need to recognize God as the source of wisdom. There is nowhere else to look and no teacher who can give us what God can’t.

Give it a try.

Philip

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Superbug


We think we can get away with messing around but the consequences just get worse.

There was a time when gonorrhea was a big deal. We fixed that with antibiotics. Well now, the chickens have come home to roost. We are failing in our attempts to control it. Antibiotics that worked before don’t now and fewer and fewer will in the future.

As I read this story I thought of kids in the public schools. Here in Colorado the legislature is working to effectively give the teaching of sex-ed to Planned Parenthood. They call it science based. That’s the same code word used to keep the monopoly on teaching about evolution. Anything that threatens the precious doctrine is branded “religious” therefore not scientific therefore not taught. They want to do the same with sex. Abstinence education can be branded religious and done away with.

Students are given the promise of safe sex. “Do whatever you want and the condom will protect you.” The reality is that we are having an explosion of sexually transmitted diseases and condoms are not fixing the problem.

Proverbs 12:10b gives an interesting principal: “the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.” We have legislators who think they are doing something good but the effect will be cruel. There will be lasting damage done to young people because of their actions.

It’s interesting that we tell young people to just say no to drugs but some claim that the same young people can’t say no to sex. Then they are given false assurances. Abortion and destroyed lives are the consequence.

May God have mercy.

Philip

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Trust God?

"We pray to God when we feel the need to," he said, "but when we come here to America, we don't feel the need."
That quote grabbed my attention. It speaks specifically about Latinos coming to America but it probably describes many who are native to this country.

America is the land of opportunity, which is good, and self-sufficiency, which may not be. Are Christians different in these things? We speak of trusting God but what does that really mean?

Here is some Scripture on trust:

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 straight your paths.

Psalm 20:7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

Psalm 25:2 O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me.

Psalm 91:2 I will say to the Lord, "My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."

It seems that we do everything possible to insulate ourselves from discomfort and the unknown. We have all types of insurance to cover every possible loss or calamity. We have savings accounts and retirement plans and credit cards. Now these things may not be bad but do they keep us from trusting God? Some people are absolutely paralyzed by fear of the future. When was the last time you had to pray for your daily bread? What is your first thought when trouble comes? Is it God or something else?

What opportunities do you have in your life to grow in trust of God? Are there things in your life that if God doesn’t act, nothing will happen? We don’t like these things but we can’t grow without them.

We need to be careful of all the safety nets we have for our lives. They may insulate us from developing the strength and trust we will need for the future, for a time when there is no net. May we let God stretch us, make us uncomfortable; and reveal His incredible resources and power.

Philip

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Permission Slip

Maybe some people shouldn’t play with tools.

Maybe Home Depot should require a permission slip before they sell certain tools. “This certifies that John Doe knows how to handle dangerous tools and is allowed to by the new Macho Nail Gun.”

In the day of do-it-yourself, people are probably encountering tools they never did before. There is a story in today’s paper about a house that was completely leveled and a man that was killed because of a do-it-yourself remodeling project. My guess is that a gas line was leaking or a combustible solvent or paint was being used.

I am a handyman by trade. For whatever reason, I am one of those people who can fix things. Unlike some of my customers, I can to extremely complicated jobs like changing light bulbs without doing serious damage to people or property.

Some people feel bad because they can’t do the jobs I do for them by themselves. I think it is wise when we know our limitations. For some of my customers, it is better that they pay me to do things than use their precious free time doing those same things. I know as well that there are things I can’t do both in and out of my job. I regularly turn down work when I know that it is beyond my experience level or maybe too dangerous. I sleep better at night because of this.

Proverbs 27:17 says, Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Do you know what a steel is? It is a round, long piece of steel that is used to put the final edge on a knife. If you start with a dull knife, a steel won’t help at all. I think the principal here is that as individuals we have to allow God and his Word to give us an edge. Then we can call on others to help us where we are stuck, need a different perspective, or maybe a kick in the rear.

Look at what Clarke’s commentary says on this verse:

Pro 27:17 - Iron sharpeneth iron - As hard iron, viz., steel, will bring a knife to a better edge when it is properly whetted against it: so one friend may be the means of exciting another to reflect, dive deeply into, and illustrate a subject, without which whetting or excitement, this had never taken place. Had Horace seen this proverb in the Septuagint translation when he wrote to the Pisos?

Ergo fungar vice cotis, acutum
Reddere quae ferrum valet, exors ipsa secandi.
Hor. Ars. Poet., ver. 304.

“But let me sharpen others, as the hone
Gives edge to razors, though itself have none.”
Francis.
We need each other. Each of us has different gifts and abilities. We are smart when we call on others to help us where we need it. A fool thinks he is a self-sustaining island. God created us to need both Himself and the other people he puts around us.

I offer thanks to friends who have helped me through hard times!

Philip

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Help Me to Love

From my morning reading.

It requires far more of the constraining love of Christ to love our cousins and neighbors as members of the heavenly family, than to feel the heart warm to our suffering brethren in Tuscany or Madeira. To love the whole Church is one thing; to love--that is, to delight in the graces and veil the defects--of the person who misunderstood me and opposed my plans yesterday, whose peculiar infirmities grate on my most sensitive feelings, or whose natural faults are precisely those from which my natural character most revolts, is quite another.

Elizabeth Charles

From Daily Strength for Daily Needs
- Mary Tileston

This speaks of what goes on at home too. I act in ways at home that I never would somewhere else. Why is that? Why can I restrain myself in some places but not others?

I seemed more “Christian” before I had a wife and children. However, those additions helped show what was in my heart. I wasn’t quite as spiritual as I thought or maybe it was going deeper. God uses other people to show us our selfishness, bad attitudes, etc.

Like an onion, the layers are peeled off. Bit by bit God makes us like Him.

I rejoice that He strives with my flesh. I am glad that He doesn’t leave me like I am. I look forward to being more like Jesus.

Philip

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Examples of His Love

From my morning reading.

This is something I want to learn.

-------------------------------

Examples of His Love

"Little children, let us stop just saying we love people; let us really love them, and show it by our actions" 1 John 3:18.

The story is told about two farmers. Every day, one of them would haul pails of water up the steep slope to his terraced field and irrigate his meager crop.

The second farmer tilled the terrace just below, and he would poke a hole in the dyke and let the other farmer's water run down into his field.

The first farmer was upset. Being a Christian, he went to his pastor and asked for advice. The pastor told him to keep on watering as before and to say nothing. So, the farmer returned to his fields and the watering of his crop, but the farmer below him continued to drain off his water. Nothing had changed.

After a few days, the first farmer went to his pastor again. The pastor told him to go a step further - to water his neighbor's crop! So the next day, the farmer brought water to his neighbor's field and watered the crops. After that, he watered his own field.

This went on for three days, and not a word was exchanged between the two farmers. But after the third day, the second farmer came to the first farmer. "How do I become a Christian?" he asked.

There is a saying, 'Love your friends and hate your enemies.' But I say: Love your enemies!...If you are friendly only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even the heathens do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your father in heaven is perfect" Matthew 5:43 - 48.

Bible Reading: We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? 1 John 3:14-17

TODAY'S ACTION POINT: I will make every effort to demonstrate the love of Christ by the way I act toward others.

From God's Man
A Daily Devotional Guide to Christlike Character
Edited by: Don M. Aycock

Friday, April 6, 2007

Endurance

When you feel you cannot continue in your position for another minute, and all that is in human power has been done, that is the moment when the enemy is most exhausted, and when one step forward will give you the fruits of the struggle you have borne.

Sir Winston Churchill

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Understanding Women

It is important for men to remember that as women grow older it becomes harder for them to maintain the same quality of housekeeping as they did when they were younger. When men notice this, they should try not to yell. Let me relate how I handle the situation....

When I chucked my job and took early retirement a year ago, it became necessary for my wife to get a full-time job, both for extra income and for health insurance benefits that we need.

She was a trained lab tech when we met thirty some years ago and was fortunate to land a job at the local medical center as a phlebotomist. It was shortly after she started working at this job that noticed that she was beginning to show her age. I usually get home from fishing or hunting about the same time she gets home from work. Although she knows how hungry I am, she almost always says that she has to rest for half an hour or so before she starts supper. I try not to yell at her when this happens. Instead, I tell her to take her time. I understand that she is not as young as she used to be. I just tell her to wake me when she finally does get supper on the table.

She used to wash and dry the dishes as soon as we finished eating. It is now not unusual for them to sit on the table for several hours after supper. I do what I can by reminding her several times each evening that they aren't cleaning themselves. I know she appreciates this, as it does seem to help her get them done before she goes to bed.

Our washer and dryer are in the basement. When she was younger, my Wife used to be able to go up and down the stairs all day and not get tired. Now that she is older she seems to get tired so much more quickly. Sometimes she says she just can't make another trip down those steps. I don't make a big issue of this. As long as she finishes up the laundry the next evening I am willing to overlook it.

Not only that, but unless I need something ironed to wear to the Monday's lodge meeting or to Wednesday's or Saturday's poker club or to Tuesday's or Thursday's bowling or something like that, I will tell her to wait until the next evening to do the ironing. This gives her a little more time to do some of those odds and ends things like shampooing the dog, vacuuming, or dusting.

Also, if I have had a really good day fishing, this allows her to gut and scale the fish at a more leisurely pace. She is starting to complain a little occasionally. Not often, mind you, but just enough for me to notice.

For example, she will say that it is difficult for her to find time to pay the monthly bills during her lunch hour. In spite of her complaining, I continue to try to offer encouragement. I tell her to stretch it out over two or even three days. That way she won't have to rush so much. I also remind her that missing lunch completely now and then wouldn't hurt her any, if you know what I mean.

When doing simple jobs she seems to think she needs more rest periods than she used to have to take. A couple of weeks ago she said she had to take a break when she was only half finished mowing the yard. I overlook comments like these because I realize it's just age talking. In fact, I try not to embarrass her when she needs these little extra rest breaks. I tell her to fix herself a nice, big, cold glass of freshly squeezed lemonade and just sit for a while. I tell her that as long as she is making one for herself, she may as well make one for me and take her break by the hammock so she can talk with me until I fall asleep.

I could go on and on, but I think you know where I'm coming from. I know that I probably look like a saint in the way I support my Wife on a daily basis. I'm not saying that the ability to show this much consideration is easy.

Many men will find it difficult. Some will find it impossible. No one knows better than I do how frustrating women can become as they get older. My purpose in writing this is simply to suggest that you make the effort.

I realize that achieving the exemplary level of showing consideration I have attained is out of reach for the average man. However guys, even if you just yell at your wife a little less often because of this article, I will consider that writing it was worthwhile.

~~~~~<>~~~~~

Author is currently in the Federal Witness Protection Program.


Sometimes it's good to laugh at ourselves.

Philip

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Remember the Lord

From my morning reading.

Deuteronomy 4:9 Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children's children.

In the history of the wars that the United States has fought, certain phrases have served as a rallying cry during the periods of battle. "Remember the Alamo!" was the cry during the fight for Texas' independence. "Remember the Maine!" led the U.S. into battle during the Spanish-American conflict. "Remember Pearl Harbor!" thrust America into World War II. In each war, the concept of remembrance served as a stirring inspiration to men and women called into battle. Remembrance is also vital in our walk with God. It keeps us on the trail of life.

Deuteronomy 4:9 charts two trails that we can follow. The first trail is possible if you "give heed to yourself, and keep your soul diligently." This trail makes an impact upon "our sons and grandsons" for good. This is a worthy goal with long-lasting results. The second trail leads to tragedy, especially as the things of God "depart from your heart all the days of your life." It is a backward glance upon a lost direction, a lost time, and a lost cause. What makes the difference? It is the presence of forgetfulness.

God's Word instructs us to remember holy days, His mighty deeds, and, as this verse says, "the things which your eyes have seen." Why is remembrance so important? Because it keeps us steady on the path of righteousness. Since God has proven His love to us in past days, we can depend on His continuing presence and grace for uncertain confusing times.

As you begin each week, why not adopt as your motto, "Remember the Lord." As you do, your life will benefit from the refreshing power of His Spirit.

Lord, right now I commit myself to building upon the foundation of Your past work of grace in my life. Amen.

From God's Man
A Daily Devotional Guide to Christlike Character
Edited by: Don M. Aycock

I think one of the things that keep us on the right track is thankfulness. To be thankful, we need to remember what God and others have done for us in the past. When we don’t remember those things we tend to focus on how things are not going our way in the present or we feel that people are not doing certain things for us.

I had a funny thing happen to me yesterday. I took one of my sons and two of his friends to the park to fly our stunt kite. The wind was nice and strong so we had a lot of fun. A stunt kite has two cords and you guide the kite by pulling on those cords. We just got the kite last week and until yesterday, the winds have not been optimal. Anyway, I spent most of the time launching the kite, putting it back together after spectacular crashes and instructing the friends on how to do it.


Last night my son was recalling the kite flying and said that the other boy’s father must not do things like that with them. He then said that one of the boys said how cool I was for helping them with the kite.


I almost laughed. To my kids I am anything but cool but someone else has a different perspective. I have a friend who my kids think is cool but his kids probably don’t. I do things with and for my kids that many times they either forget or don’t appreciate. I bet there are things that my son’s friends dad does with his kids that my kids would envy and think is cool.

The same thing can happen with our spouse, friends, job, family, church, etc. A little too much focus on the present problems and forgetfulness of past blessings is a recipe for trouble. The grass is always greener somewhere else.


The whole thing is perspective, remembering and being thankful. Each of us has an abundance of things to be thankful for if we would just remember them.


Philip

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