Thursday, February 28, 2008

More Than Enough

From my morning reading


exceeding greatness

Preachers talk much about God's greatness, but just how great is He? There are some Greek words that provide us with a glimpse. There are actually several such words in one single verse, Ephesians 1:19 : the exceeding greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his mighty power.

Greatness translates megethos, which appears only here in the NT, and means strong or great. This obviously wasn't good enough for Paul, so he adds huperballo (exceeding), which is a compound word from huper (over, above, or beyond), and ballo (to put or cast). The literal meaning, then, is to throw beyond the usual mark, so metaphorically, to excel or surpass. The full idea of the expression huperballon megethos, therefore, is a power that is beyond measure, super abounding or surpassing power, power that is more than enough.

One Greek authority makes this comment: "The word megethos is found only here in the NT. Such Pauline hapax legomena (words used only once) again reflect the outreach of the great apostle's mind in seeking to describe the wonders of divine redemption. One can almost see words stretching at their seams as Paul tries to pour more meaning into them."

Also notice that Paul doesn't include what God's power exceeds. The obvious implication is that it exceeds everything. What a thought! The God who not only spoke the universe into existence, but who raised Christ from the dead and who put all things under [Christ's] feet, and gave him to be the head over all things ( Eph. 1:22 ) has power that is far beyond any possibility of measuring. What instrument could exist that could do so? Paul simply could not say enough about the greatness and majesty of God, and as exact a language as Greek is, he still had difficulty even finding words to express his thoughts.

From A Word for the Day:
Key Words from the New Testament.

This is a very encouraging word. God is not stingy with His power to help me. He doesn’t tell me to pull myself up by my bootstraps. He wants to help beyond what I can imagine and that power is more than enough.

Thank you Lord for the incredible gift You have given to me.

Philip

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Isolation

Here is a lesson I am learning: it’s not good to be alone. The Bible says that in Genesis 2:18: Then the Lord God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." Specifically it is talking of God making woman for man but it’s application is much greater. I need my wife and I need friends too.

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him--a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
This is something I am learning through the Samson Society. I meet with a group of guys every week and I call a friend almost every day. I try to be open about what is going on in my life. I’m learning that I don’t have to do it all by myself. I’m finding the synergistic strength that comes from more than one.

I was able to put it into practice this week. My wife and I went to a marriage conference last weekend and had a great time. As soon as it was over, we learned that a bad situation had happened at home while we were gone. As we drove home, I listened to my work voicemail messages and heard from a customer who expressed concern that I had damaged a sink while doing a re-grout job in her bathroom. Talk about horrible timing! I kept that to myself figuring there was enough going on already.

The next morning I called the customer and was glad to hear that she had calmed down. I listened to what she had to say and told her I would do some research and get back to her. Then I did something I rarely do. I told my wife what was going on. Usually I would hold it in and try to figure out what to do. It felt so good to spread my burden around. It felt good to force myself out of isolation. It felt good to hear her encouragement and sympathy.

It took two days but I was able to research the problem, talk to some tile companies and in the end the customer was satisfied that I hadn’t caused the problem. It was probably something already there that she hadn’t noticed before.

I told my friends in the Samson Society the story last night. I was thankful that together we are learning to step out of isolation. Our lives are becoming an open book with each other and that is carrying over to other areas and relationships as well.

I have to push myself to open up. I find it hard to come up with the words to express what is going on let alone what is going on inside. I usually want to have things figured out before I talk about them; I’m learning to express the unfinished. It’s also hard to talk about things going on in my life when I know the answers. I feel silly when I know the solution but can’t seem to put it into practice.

God is telling me that I need other people, we all do. He didn’t create me do be a lone ranger. The devil likes me to be alone, easier to pick me off that way. There is no such thing as a self-made-man; just guys who fail to realize how much others have helped them.

It’s hard but I’m going to keep pushing against the wall of isolation. I find joy in collective strength and I find peace in knowing others are watching my back.

Philip

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Lay it Down

From my morning reading.

He Bears and He Gives

"What a glorious Lord! He who daily bears our burdens also gives us our salvation." Psalm 68:19

Did it ever occur to you that you are disobeying God when you carry your own burdens, when you are worried, frustrated and confused over circumstances? That is exactly what God's Word says.

In 1 Peter 5:7, God gives a specific command to His children, "Cast all your cares upon Him; for He cares for you." Not to cast all of one's cares upon the Lord is to disobey Him and to deny oneself that supernatural walk with God among men.

Is it not logical to believe that He who loved us so much that He was willing to give His only begotten Son would also be faithful to keep His promise to bear our burdens daily?

As the psalmist so aptly states, the Lord bears our burdens on a daily basis for the believer, the day will never come when God fails to carry our load, to strengthen us, to impart power to us through His indwelling Holy Spirit - if we but ask.

From Promises
A Daily Guide to Supernatural Living
by Bill Bright

Sometimes I lay awake at night worrying about things. This devotional speaks to that. I need to turn those things over to God, especially the things I can’t do anything about. I need to remember that He cares for me. Since He commands that I cast my cares on Him, I can trust that he will take care of them and give me wisdom on what I am to do.

Philip

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Watch Your Language

Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. Ephesians 5:4

The Message paraphrase puts it this way: Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, Christians have better uses for language than that. Don't talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn't fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect.

This verse came up in a Bible study I went to last night. The subject was something else but it made me think about my language.

I can be very negative. I also make many remarks that are cutting to people. I have been praying for some time that God would help me to stop before I say things like this.

I see from the above verse that I need the language of thanksgiving. That will counter the negative and cutting talk. One of my new prayers is going to be for that. I hope for thanksgiving to become my dialect.

By the way, the topic of the Bible study was laughter. What we laugh at can show the condition of our heart. So, with that in mind here are some jokes I heard there:

Two antennas met on a roof, fell in love and got married. The ceremony wasn't much, but the reception was excellent.

A jumper cable walks into a bar. The bartender says, “I’ll serve you, but don't start anything."

Two cannibals are eating a clown. One says to the other: "Does this taste funny to you?"

An invisible man marries an invisible woman. The kids were nothing to look at either.

I went to buy some camouflage trousers the other day but I couldn't find any.
Philip

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Slut

It's used to be a dirty word; used for the lowest of the low. It was descriptive of a certain woman but mostly a slur.

One of our Colorado legislators used the word on Wednesday. He was talking about unmarried pregnant teens. Now he is going to be in trouble for it. It was the wrong word to use.

"In my parents' day and age, they were sent away, they were shunned, they were called what they are, there was at least a sense of shame. There's no sense of shame today. Society condones it ... I think it's wrong. They're sluts. And I just don't mean the women. I mean the men too."
Rep. Larry Liston
As I read the story in the paper, I was reminded of a book I recently read called Prude. In one chapter, it talked about the current use of the word slut. Among many young and college age kids, the word is commonly used and almost a badge of honor. If you were to look at MySpace you would see the commonness of the word. Guys use it toward girls, girls use it towards girls and girls use it toward themselves. With all that, it's hard to understand the outrage when the word is used close to it's intended meaning.

I wonder if the reason for much of the outrage is that the legislator inferred there is something wrong with being unmarried and pregnant.

He also raised the issue that Colorado essentially subsidizes teen pregnancy. On that point, I would agree with him. Many young girls know that a baby is a ticket to a free house, grocery and spending money. For many it is a generational thing; mom and grandma did the same thing. Boyfriend can move in and they get to play house.

Anyway, he will end up eating his words. It's too bad he messed up. We do need a discussion of the issues he raised. We shouldn't make unmarried teen pregnancy a smooth ride. On the other hand we don't want to create such a stigma that abortion becomes the only way out.

Philip

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Super Tuesday

My wife and I went to our caucus last night. We were the first there for Precinct 107 so the packet of precinct information was given to us. Our first job was to check the names of people who came against the list of registered Republicans in our precinct. We were told to do this until the precinct committee people arrived.

From our past experience, we knew that there probably wasn’t precinct committee people. I went through the packet, becoming familiar with what we would need to do if someone else wasn’t in charge.

This was our first caucus in Denver. We lived in Jefferson County for eighteen years and went to most of the caucuses while there. We didn’t know what to expect in Denver especially since this was Super Tuesday. A record turnout was expected.

In our precinct there are about a hundred registered republicans. Six showed up. Soon my wife and I were elected as delegates to the upcoming county and state conventions. It’s at these meetings where decisions will be made of who will run in the upcoming elections. It’s grassroots politics at it’s basic level.

All of the District 1 precincts met at the same location. Looking around it was easy to see that most did not have a high turnout. At the beginning of the meeting, a woman who had run for State Representative last election got up and encouraged everyone to vote. She said that after her loss they analyzed the voter turnout. A little over two thousand registered republicans didn’t show up to vote. She lost by about eighteen hundred votes. The message was clear.

Now I’m not advocating that as a republican I will vote for someone just because they are republican. The point is that each of us needs to be involved and vote. It’s really a small commitment. Even if you go to the caucus, get elected as a delegate and go to the conventions, it’s only a few days time every couple years. Involvement in this system is essential if you want to influence our government.

I have little respect for people who whine about our elected officials and what our government is doing, yet won’t even vote. You and your single vote matters. It really does. If you are not registered to vote, start there. Next, find out what candidates best represent your views and help get them elected.

If you live in Colorado, here is the link for a voter registration form.

We should be thankful we live in a country where we can be involved in government and that the people have the power to determine what government does. Use it or lose it applies here. If we are not involved, someone will come along and impose their will on us. To me it’s an easy choice.

Philip

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Heroes - Part 2

See this post for my initial thoughts on heroes in our life. That will give the background on what I say here.

So in the Bible study we talked about who we admire. I mentioned my dad and pastor.

Here is something I was thinking about later. Why didn't any Bible characters come to my mind? I guess it seems too easy to list Jesus as my hero. But what about all the other people?

I absolutely believe that the Bible is true. It's true in doctrine and history. But maybe I look at it as more of a story.

I don't like a lot of fiction because even though it's a nice story it's not completely true. What good is it to read about someone doing something great or making a good moral choice if it's just a story. It may make me feel warm but I can't really grab hold of it. I do like to hear accounts of exploits and choices made by real people. If they did it then maybe I can too.

So as I thought about Bible characters, I realized I view them as stories; as someone pictured in the colored pages of a kid's story book. But they weren't. I know they existed in flesh and blood. They succeeded and failed just as I do. Many did great things for God and some did very dumb things. I can learn from them, be inspired by them, imitate the good things they did and try to avoid the mistakes they made.

There are guys like David who was a man after God's heart yet committed adultery and murder. Joseph extended forgiveness to his conniving brothers. Paul wasn't afraid to admit he was going the wrong way and ended up doing great things for God while suffering greatly. Noah showed great faith in building the ark. Daniel endured the lion's den. Elijah exposed idolatry and the false prophets of Baal. Timothy demonstrated that young people can do great things for God. Mary showed that sitting with Jesus is the most important thing. Mary Magdalene, delivered from demons, followed Jesus to the cross, went to His grave and was the first to see Him after He rose from the dead. John the Baptist was beheaded for his righteous stand.

These aren't just stories. Real men and women followed God and lived more difficult lives than I probably ever will.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3

I will try to remember these thoughts in the future. I have a new set of heroes.

Philip

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Heroes

The topic of the Bible study was who do you admire the most and why. I thought of my dad and my pastor. As we talked that night, several of the guys mentioned their dad and one mentioned a friend.

The leader of the Bible study said that according to A.W. Tozer, the value we place on others is a window to our own soul.

Do we admire celebrities, sports figures or maybe someone who has been successful in business or has money? I can see the connection between who we focus on and what we are or become.

A question was asked of one of the guys who said he admired his dad, “Was he your hero when you were growing up?” He answered that he was.

I admired my dad because he was such an example of self-sacrifice, giving and thoughtfulness. Was he my hero when I was growing up, probably not. I’m sure that as a very young child he was but in my mid teens I would have thought of my dad as too strict and very stupid. I probably thought better of him during my twenties and as I grew older came to appreciate him much more. Did he change? No, it was my perspective of him that did.

Am I my kid’s hero? Probably not, at least to the ones older than six. Should that bother me? I don’t think so. I think it’s a rare teenager who admires a parent. We know that most teenagers know all there is to know and it is very hard for them to condescend to mere mortals let alone their parents.

As kids enter their twenties they are aware of all their parents imperfections and are usually oblivious to their own. When my wife and I were in our young twenties we were on a short-term mission trip and lived with a missionary couple and their three children. Boy, we sure could have told them a thing or two about child rearing and other areas where they needed improvement. I think the same happens with our parents. We figure we are going to do a much better job than they did. I hope that we all will.

After years of marriage, children and life, I saw my dad in a completely different way. I appreciated what he did for me, and the difficult job it was trying to raise a child like me. He did a good job in raising my brother, sister and me but was far from perfect. His life was far from perfect but I absolutely admire him for the person he was. I realized how hard marriage, parenting, working and living are and I thought a little less of my own abilities.

I think parents worry too much these days about being their child’s friend or the status of their relationship. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t do all we can to communicate with them and be a good parent. What I’m saying is that history will be the judge. Their view in their thirties, forties and fifties will be much different than when they were younger.

Live in the present, do the best job you can as a parent and don’t expect your child to be your friend. Don’t let fear of alienation direct how you raise and discipline them. Give them something to appreciate when they are finally able to do so. If you do this they will probably speak well of you at your funeral and maybe even before.

Philip

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