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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Seeing God

There have been several conversations in the past couple of days in which the topic of how do we as men get to know God better has come up.  That is important for us because as we have seen in Deuteronomy 6:5 - 6, we are supposed to talk about what we know with our children, essentially, continually.  In a couple of the conversations the role the Bible plays in getting to know Him was debated.

One of my favorite passages (my kids do not react to that phrase any more - they kind of roll their eyes and say something like, "Dad, you say that about every passage.") is 2 Peter 1:1 - 11.  In verses 3 - 4, we read that through the promises of God, read Word of God here, we become partakers of the divine nature.  How does that work?  Well note the beginning of verse 4 is "For by these..."  By what?  It is stated in verse 3, divine power, glory, and excellence.  The promises of God reveal the nature of God.  How?  When someone tells you they are going to do something for you, how do you react?  If you know them, you know how reliable they are because they have either been faithful to do what they said they would or not.  My dad always told me growing up that a man was only as good as his word.  That is essentially what Peter is telling us here.  We test God by embracing His promises in faith.  When we see Him faithful to those promises, we have learned, or become partakers of that part of His nature.

So essentially when we open the Word, we are coming into the presence of God, because He has chosen to reveal Himself, his nature and character through His Word, His promises.  That amps up the way I interact with the Word.

What do you think about this?  If you are enjoying these please pass them on, and please click the +1 below.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Security?


I have a question.  Been thinking about why men are not moving from milk to meat, and I wonder if, at some level, it has to do with security?

Here is the thinking behind the question.  In Genesis 1:28 we are told that it was man’s job to subdue and rule over the earth.  In Genesis 3:17 – 19, the curse God imposed on man as a result of man’s rebellion against God, we read that the earth essentially will continually fight man in his appointed job.  By the way it is an interesting study to look at the assignments Adam and Eve were given by God and compare and contrast those assignments with the curses that resulted from their disobedience.

It seems that man is now in a situation that he is supposed to be leading, exercising dominion over, but that is continually at odds with and resisting him.  Nothing is working out as it was supposed to.  One result of that, it seems to me, is that men are leading in ways that are broken, and are gaining their significance from the exercise of that broken leadership, rather than from their relationship with God.  Our worth was designed to be measured by our intimate relationship with the creator but has been replaced by the flawed exercise of our leadership over our domain.

As flawed as it may be, we control what we do, at least it seems that way.  But when we are asked to reconnect with the creator we lose that control.  We know how to measure “success” in the domains in which we operate daily.  Asked to enter into a new and unfamiliar domain, such as independently meeting with God through His Word, there is fear of failure, not being in control.  We do not want to expose ourselves to a further failure so we allow others to do the work and tell us what to think or believe.  It is much easier and “safer” than venturing into that territory ourselves.

What do you think?  Am I off base here?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Unknown

Continuing pursuing an answer to the question, “What keeps us from moving from milk to meat?” Maybe the answer is as simple as we do not know how. In Ephesians 4:11 – 13 we are told that the purpose of the gifts given to the Church is the equipping of the saints. In an earlier post we looked at how most of our diet is comprised of predigested Bible, or milk. Rarely do pastors and teachers invest the time to explain to those in their care how they can get into the meat of the Word.

Do not get me wrong, it is not totally their fault. By expectation, tradition, training, and job description, most pastors and teachers are unable to fulfill what is commanded in Ephesians 4. They are expected to visit the sick, not equip others to do so. They are expected to study the scripture and tell us what they found, not equip us to do so. They are expected share profound truths from the pulpit, not equip us to dig them out of the Word ourselves.

One result of this is that most of us involved in the community are consumers of the work that others have done in the Word, milk. We do not know how to do it ourselves because, in reality, no one has showed us how or, in some cases, suggested that we should. Or, if they have told us we should, we have been left to our own devices to figure out how. There are exceptions.

One of the purposes of this blog is to raise both awareness of this and provide some simple direction so that as men we can become meat eaters in the Word of God, and thus become more effective in leading our families. It is really not all that hard. We just need to know how to start. If you are interested in one simple tool that will help you start that process…

WARNING: THERE IS ANOTHER REASON THAT WE STICK WITH MILK. THE ENEMY DOES NOT LIKE IT WHEN WE BEGIN TO EAT MEAT. SO HE WORKS AT STOPPING US. JUST WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT BEFORE YOU…

…click here.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Vapor in Pursuit of Nothing

Last night I got an email from a friend telling me that my friend and pastor had experienced a heart attack. He recently had and is still in the process of recovering from surgery for prostrate cancer. Last Monday, during lunch, he shared some of his struggles in recovery as we talked about what was going on in each of our lives.

This morning I was in Psalm 39. In verses 4-6 we read,
"Lord, make me to know my end and what is the extent of my days; let me know how transient I am. Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths, and my lifetime as nothing in Your sight; surely every man at his best is a mere breath. Surely every man walks about as a phantom; surely they make an uproar for nothing; he amasses riches and does not know who will gather them."
Reality is that much of what we deem important is not. When one with whom we are close faces something like what my friend has faced in these past months, it should prompt us to take stock of how we are investing our lives. Are we chasing "nothing" with the "vapor" of our lives or are we investing in eternity? The Bible tells us that there are only two things that will endure in eternity, the Word of God and the souls of men. My friend has given his life to these.

It is an example well worth following.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Reaching Forward, Reaching Back


Yesterday, we extended the question what is keeping men from moving from milk to meat.  I wonder if the answer can be found in the passage we started with, Deuteronomy 6:6 – 7?  There we read that we were supposed to talk about the Word of God, well, just about all of the time.  Perhaps we need to be able to process life with one who is walking ahead of us in this journey.

Mark 3:14, tells us that Christ appointed 12 first to be with him.  In 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul exhorts Timothy, who he recruited to be with him during Paul’s second missionary journey, to recruit other men who would be able to teach others.  Prior to that Barnabus took Paul under his wing.

If you look you will find the same pattern in the Old Testament.  It permeates the Bible.  The pattern seems to be that truth is transmitted through relationship with, using a current term, a mentor.  It is the old master and apprentice model.

We were clicking through channels last evening and ran across the end of “The Phantom Menace.”  You may remember the dialog between Yoda (just about, no, my favorite character in the series) and Mace Windu.
Yoda: Always two there are, no more, no less. A master and an apprentice.
Mace Windu: But which was destroyed, the master or the apprentice?
The point here is that each of us, no matter where we are in the journey, needs someone who can draw us along.  One whom we respect who can push us further than we would go on our own.  Further, the expectation is that we will in turn be that man for another.  That applies not only to our children but other men in our sphere of influence.

Who is helping you?  Who are you helping?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Unfunded Mandate

A couple of days ago I asked the question what is keeping us from moving from milk to meat (Hebrews 5:13 – 14).  Maybe it is because we have not been told how?  Think about raising children, they do not move from milk to solid food without their parents helping them.  You know the progression, milk, to pureed vegetables, to table food.  The parents are guiding and choosing the food for the child.  That does not seem to happen much in the Church.  The messages may get deeper, they may have new programs, but actually helping believers to move from being fed to feeding themselves does not seem to happen very much.

So when we are exhorted to grow in our intimacy with Christ, and we are not shown how to do that, we are not guided through the process, at some level our desires are increased with no known way to fulfill them.  Instead the counsel seems to be essentially a time tested list of Christian clich├ęs.
“Die to yourself.”
“Give it over to God.”
“Spend time with God.”
I don’t know about you but I am not sure, on the face of it, what all that means.  I do know that Jesus rebuked those who had the first five books of the Old Testament memorized, so knowing the Bible backwards and forwards does not seem to be the answer (John 5:39 – 44).

So what is the answer?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving


Sometime today between the turkey, the turkey induced naps, playing football in the yard with the kids, and watching the games, stop to reflect on why we are really doing this.  There are the historical reasons as outlined by Rush, and there are reasons for the believer.  It is good to stop and be thankful for what the Lord has done for us.  Psalm 107 might be a good place for that.

For those who understand BTHOTU!

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Travel for Thanksgiving

Like you, perhaps, I am on the road today traveling to Texas to my dad's. My son and his family is already there. My brother will join us either later today or early tomorrow. This holiday, even more so than Christmas, at least in my experience, centers around family.

It is an interesting mix of firsts and lasts. We just checked in with my dad to give him an update on or progress. He told us that our granddaughter had just seen her first deer in his front yard. Thanksgiving was the last time I saw my mom.

Throughout the Scripture we are exhorted to remember, in fact the Bible is, among other things, a journal of how God has revealed Himself to us. Pay attention this Thanksgiving. Look for the firsts and the lasts. Notice and record how our Lord is revealing Himself to you and your family.

And for those of you who are, like me, on the road, safe travels.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving


Turkey, football, and family about sums up what this holiday has become for most of us.  It is a great opportunity to work through thankfulness and what that means for your family.  In 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 we read,
“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  
But like the nation of Israel we not only forget what God has done for us, but in a lot of cases we seem to take it for granted.  In Psalm 106:12–15 (great psalm I will let you read it for the context) we read,
“Then they believed His words; They sang His praise.  They quickly forgot His works; they did not wait for His counsel, but craved intensely in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert.  So He gave them their request, But sent a leanness into their soul.”  (the italics is the literal reading of the Hebrew)  
Notice how quickly Israel forgot.

May I suggest a quick exercise for this Thanksgiving?  Pass out a half sheet of paper to everyone around the table at or just before dessert.  Ask them to take a few minutes and write down all for which they are thankful.  You may need to help younger children make their lists.  Take as little or as long as you like, I would probably err on the side of shorter.  Then have everyone share their lists.  Remind all that it takes some effort to be thankful, it takes remembering what has been done.  You may want share how quickly Israel forgot what God had done and the result of that.  Then spend some time in prayer thanking God for what he has done for you as a family.

This may be a list that you can use and build on as a family to help in your times of prayer together to assist you in thankfulness.

Hey, if you do it, come back here and let us know how it worked out for you.

Monday, November 21, 2011

So what is milk?


Saturday we left with the question why do we stick with milk rather than moving to meat?  Maybe we ought to define milk.

According to Wikipedia milk is the primary source of nutrition for young mammals before they are able to digest other types of food.  That fits with use of the word here in Hebrews.  Basically the mother predigests food and her body transforms it into a form the child can handle.  How does that metaphor play out in relation to the Bible?  Would that not be any time we are being fed or led through the Word without our doing the work ourselves?

There are many things that are called Bible study.  Lectures from a podium (sage on a stage), lectures in a small group (sage in a chair), Fill in the blank Bible studies or books written by Christian authors (sage on a page), Video presentations (sage on a disk), and finally taking the Bible and a blank sheet of paper and digging in oneself.

Might I suggest that all but the last are at some level milk?  Do not get me wrong, milk is essential.  But as Hebrews tells us, we have to move past it to become teachers for our kids.  We have to feed them from our diet of meat.

What stops us?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday


We will come back to Deuteronomy tomorrow - It is Sunday.  Most of those who would read this are going to church today.  If you have kids, you are going to take them with you.  Frankly, kids are why a lot of people go to church and pick which church they attend.

Why?

What is the reason you are going to church?  What are you telling your children the reason is?  Do those reasons align with why the Bible says we should go to church?  If they do not you may be setting yourself and your children up to slip subtly into attempting to gain favor with Christ by attending, which is a form of legalism.  Or you may be telling them that that is where you go to learn about Jesus.  While that may happen, it may serve to blur the fact that we are to be teaching them about Jesus, and we are to be engaged with learning about Jesus daily, wherever we are.  I guess we did not leave Deuteronomy after all.

The Christian life is counter to the world.  We are going to be doing things and teaching our kids to do things that do not align with what they see in their friend's lives or in the media.  They have to know, at a base level, why.  More importantly, that why has to be Biblical.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Breakdown 2

Tyde’s comment yesterday was right on point.  We do seem to delegate spirituality to the pros.  Howard Hendricks used to liken church to a football game.  You have 80,000 people in the stands in desperate need of exercise, watching 22 men on the field in desperate need of rest.

We cannot get fit by watching someone else workout.  We cannot get financially solvent by watching someone else work, or complaining that they are.  We have to engage in the activity ourselves and at increasingly more intensity.  Continual improvement.

Hebrews 5:13-14 tells us “For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.  But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.”  We are not supposed to stay with milk, what is stopping us?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Breakdown

Looking at the challenge in Deuteronomy 6 from yesterday more closely, note the first part of the command, “these words…shall be on your heart.”  “On your heart.”  What comes to mind when you think about that?  Really, what comes to mind during our day?  What is on our hearts?  How to pay the bills?  How to get the next deal?  Will the team win this weekend?  Will my wife respond to me the way I want her to?

One friend put it this way, “Where does your mind go when you put it in neutral and floor it?”  That is what is on our heart.  That is what we are going to share.

What is the foundation of the challenge then?  It is that each of us as fathers are not just familiar with the Bible, the Word of God, but that it is something that is continually on our minds.  Continually, thinking about how it impacts our day, the next conversation, the project in which we are engaged, it permeates our thinking and informs all that we do.  High standard.  How do we get there?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Challenge

Here is the deal.  In Deuteronomy 6:6-7 we men are told, no commanded,
"These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up."
The expectation is that we are going to be talking about the Word of God with our sons (and daughters) continually.  As men we are pretty good at talking about football, baseball, soccer, but the Bible - not so much.  We will teach our sons to fish, throw a ball, rappel, camp, hunt...  Who is going to teach them the Bible?  Says here we are supposed to, what stops us?

Starting Up

For the past four years Entrusting Truth has been focused on equipping dads to lead their families in the Word. In order to move that mission forward more effectively we are in the process of launching a new set of tools.

This is the first.  On this blog we will look at ways that we, as dads, can more effectively engage with our wives and children in applying the Word of God to both our lives and helping them apply it to theirs.

I encourage you to join into the discussion, the journey, and the battle that is raging over the family.

Come back often, there will be an increasing number of tools available for you here - soon a website dedicated to Dads teaching the Bible.  Look forward to your comments.