Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I’m Glad You Fell

My dear friend, I heard yesterday of your fall. Of course I don’t rejoice in sin but I rejoice that you now have a better view of yourself. Did you think you were above it? Of course you did. We all do. We look at others, see them mired in their self-inflicted troubles and are so glad that we are not like them. Thus we set ourselves up for the big one. Galatians 6:1 reminds us to, “Keep watch on yourselves lest you too be tempted.

I remember the first time I was faced with the deceitfulness of my heart. It wasn’t the last time though. I was one of those who thought I had it all together. I had perfect vision in detecting the faults in others but my own escaped my gaze.

I was madly in love; she was beautiful and she loved me. We hung out, studied the Bible, and had wonderful long talks and did ministry together. We spent time alone, we became too familiar with each other and then with each others bodies. Soon we were sinning daily. Now I know that, but at the time I gave in to deceit. The inevitable happened; our relationship came crashing down; I was devastated.

It took way too long but I remember when I finally saw through clear eyes what I had done. I was devastated again. How could I have done what I did? I knew better! But something happened; I started viewing other people a little different. Not to tolerate or excuse their sin but to understand, to feel compassion, to promote restoration with gentleness.

You too have had a high view of yourself. And now you have sinned BIG! And now you are in line for BIG forgiveness and restoration. We don’t abuse grace but the message of the gospel is forgiveness. That’s what it’s all about. 1John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

I pity the perfect person. Living in their self-deceit they never endingly point out the sins of others but are blind to their own. Jesus spoke of them in Matthew 7:3, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye but do not notice the log that is in your own eye.” That person is all of us. Sometimes we need our face rubbed in the dirt to remind us of what we are.

I hope for restoration for you, my dear one. I pray that you will embrace the hard path ahead. Forgiveness is given freely from God but those rotten consequences cost a lot.

I remember a story I heard on Family Life many years ago. It was about a family and the daughter who was addicted to heroin and her path back to God. Here is the part that has always stayed with me:

John: Let me answer the question this way. I was doing a sermon on thankfulness and I said to Stephanie, "Stephanie, I'm having a difficult time giving thanks for heroin." And she gave me that "daughter look." That's what I call it. And she said, "Dad, I've given thanks for heroin. Why can't you?" And I said, "You have?" She said, "Yes. I realize now that I was abusing alcohol and heroin took me to the bottom fast and got me the help I needed. I could have hidden alcohol abuse from you, from my brother and from my mother for years. But heroin took me to the bottom fast and got me the help I needed." And she said, "I had to dance with the devil to come back to God." So in that regard, for what's happening in my daughter's life today – yes. I can thank God for heroin.
You have had your own “heroin” now. It’s all out on the table. You blew it big, but you had a bunch of little things going on where you were playing the game. You are at the bottom now. Now you can get the help you need. If you do, everything will be better and you will be able to help others. They will sense that you are for them; it will be different than before.

I will be praying for you more than ever.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Torrey's New Topical Textbook

R.A. Torrey compiled the New Topical Textbook. It has 628 subjects and references about 20,000 scriptures. As I have used it, I’ve found that it isn’t a very exhaustive reference. There are a lot of subjects I wish it had. That aside, there are many subjects listed and it covers them very well. It wouldn’t be a resource for obscure research but handles most major topics.

The great thing about having a resource like this on my PDA is that I can instantly look at the Scriptures that are referenced. If I were using the paper version, each reference would have to be turned to and that can take a lot of time.

Some other good material contained in this reference is a section on Methods of Bible Study and the Outline of the Fundamental Doctrines of the Bible.

In Methods of Bible Study he strongly encourages study and meditation rather than casual reading of Scripture. He goes on to give examples of ways to study, resources to use and even a suggested list of topics to study. We are reminded to study the Bible as the Word of God, to do so prayerfully and to store Scripture in our mind and heart through memorization.

The Outline of the Fundamental Doctrines of the Bible covers doctrines concerning God, man, sin and redemption. Each section has good explanations and many Scripture references.

I’m glad to have this book at my fingertips.


For better and easier Bible study check out the links below.

Torrey's New Topical Textbook

Olive Tree has products for Palm, Pocket PC, Smartphone, Blackberry and iPhone. Over 150 of the resources are free.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Digger's Diner

I wish Brush, Colorado was closer to Denver. I would grab a few guys and go get a hamburger. Not just any hamburger either. At Digger's Diner they call it the State Champion Burger.

Look at this video:

Here is the composition: 3 pounds of ground beef, a pound and a half of bun, half of a tomato, half an onion, eight slices of cheese and half a head of lettuce and a half a cup of pickles. It costs $29.99 but it's free if one person eats all of it and 12 ounces of fries.

I wouldn't even try to eat one but I would go for a fourth of it.



Saturday, March 14, 2009

The cloud over me

The cloud came yesterday. I’ve been fighting it ever since. Now I will attack it head on.

Do you know what I mean? Do you have days like that? Or maybe I’m different from everyone else – that’s the dangerous thought – the one that pushes me toward isolation.

I push on. I try to verbalize what is going on inside me. I take time to think about what is going on in my mind. What is the source of these low feelings?

Work has been slow, that wears on me. I’m doing all sorts of things to stimulate it. I hope they pay off in the long run; they sure aren’t in the present. What if it keeps getting slower and slower? I’m not sure what to do with those thoughts.

A big change in life has been that the church we had been going to for two and a half years closed last month. To give it a neat label, you can say it was a victim of the economic downturn. I saw it coming but it’s still been one of those things that you have to work through. We have settled into another church and that has been a very different experience. Our old church had 40 – 50 attendees. The new one has Sunday school classes larger than that. I went to a men’s get together last Monday night. There were around 50 guys there.

Here is something I read this week that capsulized my feelings with church:

When someone dies or there is another kind of loss or injury in life, we have to be able to work through that experience and move on, leaving our hearts available for new experiences and relationships. We get rid of the hurt and pain by grieving and then keep the learning experiences that come with it. (How People Grow – Cloud and Townsend)
That really spoke to me. I am so ready for those new experiences and relationships. I feel like we are on a new adventure. That feels good and I’m not a very adventurous person.

Yet there is still some clouds hanging over this. Some people who are very dear to me are still in the middle of the pain and hurt of this experience. They are in limbo, I’m not sure what is going to happen with them and that fills my thoughts.

Another thing going on is I have a son who will be turning eighteen next Monday. If you have ever been through that experience you know that it brings a whirlwind with it. Not the birthday itself but the whole period of change. The letting go, the watching of questionable decision making, the wondering of what will happen; did we prepare him for life? Will he take advantage of that preparation?

And what about my marriage, where is it at? I don’t even know where to begin on that. Is it ever possible to get beyond the accumulated baggage that seems to color every event and experience? Is intimacy a fleeting thing that may never return? What happened to my best friend?

The cloud makes all things look different; shades of grey, colorless. As I look outside now, the sun is coming up. I don’t see clouds out there, the colors are vibrant. There is a new day coming, a reminder that God’s mercies are new every morning. I want a sunrise inside me too. I want hope and anticipation, not another grey day.