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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Does Truth Matter

I had a conversation today with a friend that was disturbing.  I read a facebook post from another friend over which I lost sleep.  In both cases my friends took positions on controversial issues that did not align with what the Bible, in its simple words, says.  I love both of these people; one of them was engaged with us in a mission for a number of years.  The other I have known for over a decade and I know him to be one who tries to follow Christ.
Does it matter what the Bible says?  Or can we just work with it so it says what we want it to say?
 The world is under the domain of Satan.  He is not a big fan of the Bible, Christ, Christians, or a Christian world view.  If you would like to know what he is about these days, look at the popular trends.  As a nation and a culture we have moved further and further away from the content of the Bible.  Alternately dismissing as cultural thus irrelevant and then reading into the text what we want it to say, using “experts” who share our opinions to validate what we want the Bible to say; and in so doing essentially ignoring the clear meaning of the text.  We do so at our peril.

In the Dads Teach the Bible meeting this morning we looked briefly at what the Bible says about itself.  In preparation for an “exhaustive” study of the Bible on the Bible I created a word document that has every verse I could find on the Bible in the Bible in three columns; original text, English translation, column for notes.  The document is 589 pages without any of my notes.  What others say about the Bible means may be interesting, but it is the Bible that is inspired.  If it says something is wrong – say for instance homosexuality – no manner of verbal gymnastics, logic, protests, or loud, angry voices can change the marks that were put on the page.  It just is.

The problem is exacerbated when those in the Church mirror the attitudes of the culture.  Rather than take a stand on what the Bible says and face the vitriol of the world; it is much easier to put a “tolerance” or “coexist” bumper sticker on the car and try to blend in.  Problem is that is not the assignment.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Very Angry

We are at war.  The culture is increasingly hostile to Christians.  It is more and more difficult to raise a Godly family with the media influences that saturate our daily lives.  This is not about some political leaning or one issue campaign it is about the truth of 1 Peter 5:8, we have a determined, completely evil enemy that is committed to our destruction.  He uses all of the assets at his command, media, governments, all systems toward that end.  How do we respond?
As believers and apprentices of Christ are we never supposed to be angry?
We are told over and over again that Christians should be nice, gentle, non confrontational, tolerant, coexisting people.  Really?  1 Samuel 11:6 took me aback just now.  Here is a man on whom the Holy Spirit came “mightily,” the result?  He became very angry and waged war.  His people were threatened and he took action.  Christ also got angry, Mark 11:12 – 18, Matthew 21:12 -19, Luke 19:45 – 48.  There are some things about which Christians should be angry and take a vocal and active stand.

Last week one believer did.  Dan Cathy shared that he believed the Bible was correct that marriage was between a man and a woman.  The world descended on him with fury.  I have even seen facebook posts from “Christians” deploring his comments.  When the Bible is attacked, when believers who take a stand for the Truth of the Word are vilified, we should be like Saul and Christ and get very angry.  It is God’s name that is being slandered.  We must come to the aid and stand with those who are taking a stand.  We as believers must take a stand.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Nothing

Psalm 119 is one of my favorite places to spend some time in the Bible.  You probably know that in the Hebrew it is an acrostic following the Hebrew alphabet, each of the verses in the octet starting with the same letter.  This morning I was reading in 33 – 40.  Note what the Psalmist is asking God to do:
Apart from Him we can do nothing, including understanding and obeying His Word.
  • Teach me
  • Give me understanding
  • Make me walk
  • Incline my heart
  • Turn away my eyes
  • Establish Thy Word
  • Turn away my reproach
  • Revive me
Most of us would, if pressed, probably say that a lot of that is our responsibility.  After all we are supposed to follow and honor His commands.  But here the Psalmist is imploring God to enable the reactions that we would consider simple obedience.  Does that mean that we are not responsible for our own actions?

No.  The whole arc of Scripture indicates that God does hold us responsible not only for what we do, but what we think.

As I was thinking and praying this through John 15:5 came to mind.  You know the verse.  Most of us have heard multiple sermons, and may have eve studied the passage many times.  I was struck with the word “nothing.”  That concept seems to align really well with Psalm 119:33 – 40.  If we do not ask, if the Lord does not engage with us when we do, we can do nothing.  Seems pretty clear.  We are dependent on Him not only to understand the Word, but also to apply it to our lives.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Exist

You may remember that I have shared here that three friends and I have been engaged in a study on the Kingdom of God for over a year.  One of the key takeaways for me thus far is that God is King by virtue of who He is regardless of His rule over anything.  That is it is one of His attributes.
We exist and live in our King.
This morning in Psalm 90:1 -2 and in Acts 17:28 I was confronted by this once again.  The two passages reinforce the fact that apart from God we have no existence.  It begs the question then why do we complain about what He does.  It also sets the seedbed for Paul’s argument in Romans 9:19 -20.

Even though I know this, I am still pretty good at arguing back at Him.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Exposed

Yesterday I shared the safety we have as believers as we enter into the discipline of study to know Christ more through the Bible.  Let’s look at that again from a slightly different perspective.
Even though we are safe when we come to learn more about Christ, we need to expose our knowledge of Him to test and refine it.
Yesterday we said that any growth we have comes after failure and we looked at several examples of that.  What I would suggest to you today is that as believers we should seek ways to expose our faith and our knowledge of Him.  How?  There are several ways.  First lead a Bible study.  Within six months after I trusted Christ I was leading seven studies a week – that is a bit extreme but the point is I learned much more than the people who were in the studies.  You may say you do not have time for this – before you do I did that while in Undergraduate Pilot Training in the Air Force.  One makes time for what is important.

Second, teach a Sunday School class.  In doing that you will learn much more than the people you are teaching.  Plus they will ask you questions that will drive you back into the Word.

Third, go on a short term mission trip and do whatever you can to serve.  It will expose your cultural prejudices and expose you to things God is doing in other places.

The point is that you stretch.  Expose yourself to situations that task your understanding of Christ.  Then take those questions back to Him in His word.

Risk.  Engage.  Explore.  See Him provide not only resources but more of Himself to you.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Safe

In preparation for a training session I have been reading through a book by Laurent Daloz, “Effective Teaching and Mentoring.  It is one of those books that I have had for some time that I skimmed and recorded some ideas, read part of it with the conviction that there was more there that needed attention, but was set aside for later.  It is now later.  I was right it is a gem.  I will share an extended quote here and then make some comments about how it applies to us as Dads.
Learning the Bible is safe - the author wants you to, and has promised to help you when you try...
Returning to school after years away can be a deeply unsettling experience for many adults.  Competent though they may be in their work or homes, they find themselves suddenly at the mercy of teachers sometimes younger than they and in danger of ridicule from fellow students who could be their own children…Teachers of adults do well to recognize the anxiety…it is often masked as bravado or scorn.  But underneath often lies a deep uncertainty – about the ability to succeed…
More times than I can count, but nearly daily Daloz’s words here are validated in my experience.  As men we do not like to be exposed as lacking in areas where we thing that we should not be.  So we will avoid situations that, in our estimation, might lead to that exposure.  When we do that we forget how we became competent in those things in which we do excel.  We failed, early and often, and learned from those failures.  Regardless of the endeavor, whether athletics, business, relationships – whatever, if we are good at it we were bad at it first.  We want to transfer that competence to our spiritual lives and tend to forget that it took time, in some cases a lot of time to get really competent in what we do.

There are no shortcuts.  But there is some really great news.  Whereas our quest for competence in the athletic, business, and relational world was unaided; that is not the case with spiritual growth.  When you and I open the Bible; the author has promised to lead us through the process to understand and apply it to our lives, John 16:13 -14.  Think of that, the author of the Bible not only has promised to lead us into truth, but He has died in our place, rose again in three days, ascended to the right hand of God and intercedes for us with the Father as we work out trying to get to know Him through the Book He left behind.  That is a safe way to learn if there ever was one.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Restoration

When things go horribly wrong, when life is making no sense, when there are things coming against you over which you have no control, when you are terrified of facing the next day, what is the way out?
How do we experience restoration from the pieces of a shattered life?
Psalm 80:17 - 19 is in the context of one of those situations. The nation that God had taken out of Egypt was in disarray; Its defenses compromised; its people in despair. Look at the plea, specifically at the verbs that are used and the structure of the plea. 
  • Let - then - not turn back = cause and effect. They asked for God's intervention and pledged that in return they would not turn from Him. 
  • Revive - we will call = again cause and effect. They would worship God as a result of His engagement with their situation. 
  • Restore - we will be saved = again cause and effect. They knew that the only true restoration was from Him. 
In the midst of chaos the restoration of order is only obtained through relationship and worship of God. All other means will create merely the illusion of restoration.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Transformative

This morning I was reminded again of the transforming power of the Word of God.  We are in the seventh week of a ten week workshop on leading your kids in the Word.  If you have read any of this blog you will know that one of the core principles is that you have to be in the Word for yourself if you have any hope of leading others.
Given some simple tools and the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the Bible can be a strong transformer.
The assignment this week was to do a verse analysis on John 15:5 and a word study on “abide.”  As we were sharing on John 15:5 one of the men segued into what he had learned through the “abide” study.  It was really fun to watch.  He was animated and excited about what he had learned.  He described in detail the various ways that he had discovered that the different authors of the New Testament had used the word.  He then summarized his learning by offering a place that John used the word as densely as he had in John 15, 1 John 2.  

As I listened to him I was reminded that when we give a person some simple tools with which to observe more carefully the text.  When that person engaged with the text, the promise Christ made in John 16:13, the Holy Spirit shows up and leads us into transforming understanding of His Word.  It is an amazing process to witness.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Batman and Crazy People

Your kids' ages will determine how aware they are of what happened last week in Colorado.  My daughter is 28.  She is also expecting.  She was scheduled to go to the show with a group of friends on Saturday.  She chose not to go; her husband did along with my son.  My son told me later that he noticed when anyone got out of their seat.  My Granddaughter is just shy of 2; she has no idea.  How do we help our kids navigate this situation?  How do we process it?
How do we process what happened last week?  How do we help our kids through this?
I was reading this morning in Luke 13:1 - 5; Christ was asked about a similar situation.  Some people were offering sacrifices at Galilee and Pilate had them killed, mixing their blood with the blood of their sacrifices.  He then talked about a situation where a tower fell and killed 18 people.  The one event seems similar to the events in Colorado, a madman, in this case a government leader, chooses to kill people in the act of worship.  In the other a seeming random act takes the life of 18 people.  Christ used the same words in closing His rehearsal of both events, “…but unless you repent, you will likewise perish.”

We are not guaranteed life.  We are not guaranteed our next breath.  Illness, accident, criminal behavior can intervene without warning.  Christ’s counsel, in the face of this uncertainty, was to repent.  In the context He is suggesting that we accept His offer of salvation and quit trying to save ourselves.  For us, this means that we need to examine both our relationship with Christ and make sure that we have shared with those whom we love the importance of committing their lives to Him.

There is no guarantee we will have the opportunity later.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Purpose

Yesterday I shared some thoughts on the president’s remarks on business last week.  There is one thing that needs to be emphasized.  I was reminded of it this morning as I read through Psalm 18:2 – 3.
The purpose of His giving us gifts is to glorify Him not to take refuge in the gifts.
It would be easy to depend on the gifts, the opportunities, the nature, the drive that He has given us.  It would be easy to, after we have achieved some measure of success to take pleasure or glory or refuge in that which we have created.  Doing that ignores and does not align with the purpose that God intended when He gave us the gifts.  He gave them to us for His glory; to draw others to Himself.  If we take refuge in what we have created rather than in Him, we dishonor the work He has done in our lives.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Credit

If one were to suggest that I am not a fan of the current occupant of the oval office one would be engaging in epic understatement.  However, when he says something that is true, even if it was said for the wrong reasons and purpose, it should be acknowledged.  Unless you have been on a two week backpacking trip in the deep wilderness you will be aware of the president’s remarks at Roanoke, Va.  Speaking of entrepreneurs he stated, “If you’ve got a business. You didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”  As one who has started three businesses when I heard that I was incredulous.  But…
All that we have we have received, but we are responsible to use it to the Glory of God.
This morning I was reading in Psalm 72, verse 18 says that God alone works wonders.  I do not know if this ever happens to you, but that verse spun me out into thinking through my reaction to the above event.  The Lord brought several other passages to mind, Deuteronomy 8:6; Psalm 75:6 – 7; 1 Corinthians 4:7.  The truth in what the president said is that my ability to work, my gifts, talents, personality, drive, all of that is a gift from God; regardless of whether I acknowledge Him or not, He is the one who created me and gave me not only the gifts but also the opportunities I have had in life.  In that sense the president was correct and as believers we should be grateful to the Lord for the gifts and opportunities He has given us acknowledging His gifts.

On the other hand we are responsible to be good stewards of the gifts and opportunities we have been given.  1 Peter 4:10, as well as other passages, like the one we looked at yesterday, tell us this.

So as a believer I have to acknowledge that yes, in whatever I have accomplished I have been empowered by God.  Further I bear the responsibility to use that empowerment to and for His glory.  His is the credit, mine is the responsibility to serve Him.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Later

Have you ever thought that you would deal with something that the Lord laid on your heart later?  Things are really busy right now.  Work is crazy.  The kids are involved in so many things.  There will be time to really dive into this after life settles down a bit.  I can personally come up with a bunch more “reasons.”
We tend to put off working on our relationship with Christ until a more convenient time; He does not seem to accept that...
Christ does not seem to give us those “reasons.”  In Luke 12:35 – 48, He exhorts us as His followers to be always ready, alert, focused on His agenda.  It is interesting that when Peter asked for clarification in verse 41, Christ amped up the exhortation ending with the oft quoted thought in 48, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.”  That applies to pretty much all of us as believers.

He has given us much.  He has been engaged in our lives from before we were born.  He has shaped the events that have filled our lives.  He has done that for a purpose.  He “requires” us to respond.  Not sure we should put the response off for any reason.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Old Friends

Depending on your theology I became an apprentice of Christ in 1966 or 1973.  Since things begin to change in 73 we will go with that one.  One of the first things I did after trusting Christ was to drive from the Base (Craig Air Force Base) over the Edmund Pettus Bridge into downtown Selma.  I went to the Christian bookstore and bought a Bible.  It was a first edition of the New American Standard version.  It has no notes or comments in it.  The editorial comments on the content of the pages is at the top of the page.  There is no concordance, there are only side column cross references.  For the next three years I dove into that Book.  I marked all over it.  Made notes, highlighted it, wrote questions with which I was struggling on the back blank end sheets.
Bibles we have studied for a long time become rich memorials to our relationship with Christ
In 1976 the cover fell off.  A couple with whom I went to church who were attending seminary at Southwest in Ft Worth, took it and had it rebound in bonded black leather.  I got it back about nine months before I left the Air Force to move into the basement of the Nav rep in Birmingham.

Jenny and I were married in 1978 and went on staff with the Navs.  I led Bible Studies and spoke from that Bible until I finally retired it around 1985.  Galatians and Revelation were falling out, it was literally falling apart.  I went through three other thin Bibles in the years since and my daughter gave me a really nice one a couple of Christmases ago.  I have never marked in another Bible.  To this day I still know some passages by where they fall in that Book.  Last year I found a man in Shawnee, OK who rebound both Jenny’s Bible and this old friend.  The cover is new.  The edges of the pages are worn and tattered.  But the notes and highlights (some of which are washed away from the effects of the Bible getting soaked during hurricane Fred – another story) are still there.  Working through its pages during the past year, has been like getting reacquainted with an old friend after a long separation, but picking up – you may know the feeling – right where we left off.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Einstein Summary

For several days we have taken some time and looked at how some of the things Einstein said applied to us as believers both individually and corporately.  What was the point of that exercise?  On the one hand, if you have been reading this blog you will know that one of the main themes is the primacy and importance of God’s Word.  That being said and assuming that one has grounded oneself in the Word, one can begin to see truth wherever it emerges.  Truth is truth.  We can learn and apply from people like Einstein because even if he did not hold the Bible in high regard (I do not know if he did or not), the quotes we examined are Biblical.
As believers can we learn from men like Einstein?  If so is there a danger?
Some of what he said could be a paraphrase of Philippians 3.  His comment on seeing what was there rather than what we want to see is similar to what Christ told the leaders of the Jew in John 5:39 – 40.  I have learned much from extra Biblical authors that has applied to Christian leadership; Tom Peters, John Kotter, Peter Drucker, John Gardner, and Warren Bennis, to name a few.  I have learned much from reading Harvard Business Review and Sloan Management Review.  Those authors have contributed much to my understanding and practice of training and leading men and organizations.  But let me be clear, they were read through the lens and filter of Scripture.  In them I found examples and practical application of Biblical principles, even when they may not have embraced the Biblical truth.

The point is that we can and should learn from these types of sources but only as they are measured and evaluated by the Word.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Einstein 4 (last)

Yesterday the report was there were a couple of more observations from Einstein’s quotes from a few days back.  But, if you read it you know that one of the observations emerged in the midst of that missive.  So we are down to the last observation – well there will probably be one more that pulls all of it together – you may have figured out what that is already.
It is only as we stick with issues we are struggling with, and allow the Holy Spirit to lead us through the issue that we will grow in the knowledge of Him.
“It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer.”

This is profound.  We tend to give up too early on things.  Seth Godin, in his book, "The Dip," talks about this as well (I highly recommend this book).  Where this impacts us as believers is when we come to portions of the scripture that we either do not understand or else seems to be saying things with which we do not agree.  Our response to those passages, encounters, is determinative in our growth.  We have a number of options when this happens.  First, we can skim over the rough patch; after all there are more important things to do with the little discretionary time we have.  Second, we can consult “experts” in the form of the notes in our study Bibles, commentaries, or a trusted pastor or teacher.  Sometimes, we have to do that so we can find the thread we need to pull to unravel the issue.  Third, we stop.  We stay there and ask the Lord to guide us.  We look hard at the passage and work through our response to it, and catalog what our preconceived ideas may be, giving those to the Lord and asking Him to reveal Himself to us.

At some point in the process all of those may be appropriate.  Might I suggest that the reverse order is the way to proceed?  Using the second and first sparingly.  It is in the struggle, in staying with the problem longer, that the Holy Spirit can really engage with us.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Glasses

I have a couple of more observations on Einstein, but there is something that is burning that I need to share.
When we come to the Bible we have to acknowledge that we are coming with a pair of glasses on.  We need to look past those to see what is in the Text, not put someone else's on and complicate the problem.
When we come to the Scripture, we are all wearing a pair of glasses (some of us literally).  Those glasses represent our World view and influence our understanding of what we encounter in the Word.  The lenses in those glasses are ground by our experiences; the messages we have heard from our parents, pastors, and teachers; the books we have read; and the previous studies we have done.  The relationship and interaction of those various influences is not linear, but they all contribute to the glasses we bring with us to the Text.

One of the challenges we have in Bible Study is to acknowledge that we are wearing those glasses in the first place.  We have to look beyond those glasses and work to see what the Text is saying rather than what we think it should say - well I guess we did not leave Einstein after all one of the quotes I listed was, "A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be."  That is what acknowledging the glasses is all about.

That is why I have suggested over and over again in this blog that we need to look at commentaries, study bibles, and other secondary helps, only after we have looked at the text for ourselves.  Why?  The author or authors have on their own glasses.  When you consult them before you look at the Text and wrestle with getting beyond your own pair, you are simply placing their glasses on top of yours.  All that does is distort the Text even more.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Prof's Chart

Taking a break from Einstein.
Prof's Chart
Dr. Howard Hendricks was one of my mentors.  I have listened to so many of his messages I cannot count.  Listened to three today while riding my bike.  While at DTS I took every course he taught and graded his leadership course for him for two years.  I was privileged to travel with he and his wife to a speaking engagement while as student at DTS.  In several of his messages on Bible study he mentions a chart that he created while at Wheaton that puts the Old Testament together chronologically.  After many years of searching I have obtained a copy.  You can print this high resolution copy out and put it in your Bible.  It will help you get your bearings as you read through the OT.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Einstein 3

For the past couple of days we have been looking at how some of the quotes of Albert Einstein apply to the Christian life (there is a point to all of this to which I will get later if you do not pick it up first).  The most famous quote, perhaps, is the one on insanity.  Let’s apply that one to our lives individually.
If we are going to grow beyond where we are in our relationship with Christ, we will have to do something different than what got us where we are... Right?
If you are like me then you may not be satisfied with the development with your relationship with Christ.  You may think, and you should, that there may be more of Him that you can know.  You are doing something that has brought you this far.  If you are not satisfied with where you are, then perhaps it would be a good idea to take stock of what you are doing.  You may need to change how you are approaching Christ in order to get to know Him better.  You may need to alter your devotional life.  You may need to look at how you are approaching the Bible.  This does not necessarily mean that you will invest more time in the relationship, but it might.  It does suggest that if you want the relationship to change, something has to change.  That is true for any of our relationships.  If we do the same thing with the same attitude, we will tend to get similar results.  If we want the results to change, we need to alter something that we are doing.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Einstein 2

Yesterday I asked how some of the things Einstein said applied to us as believers.  I mentioned that there is an issue that universally keeps raising its head as I speak to pastors and men.  The issue is that as men we have been charged to lead our families in the Word of God, but that our churches have not done a very good job of equipping us to do so.  To date, every pastor with whom I have talked about this shakes their head in resigned agreement.
Men are not going to change their behavior in the Christian community unless something changes in the the way they are led.
There have been books written, David Murrow’sand Leon Podles’books are good and important examples. There have been stadium events and Men’s Fraternities in multiple churches throughout the land. Those are great. I have attended both. But they are the same thing we have been doing one man standing on a stage sharing verbally with some number of men sitting in an audience. The only thing we did differently is remove the girls.

We seem to be doing the same things but expecting something different.  Insanity, according to Albert.  I tend to agree.  We do not seem to be encouraging and showing men how to practically get their nose in the Book.  To give them the tools and the expectation that what Christ said in John 16:13 is true, that if one dives into the Book, the Holy Spirit will lead them to truth.

It seems that we might need to change our thinking if we expect men to lead from the Word.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Einstein on the Christian Life

Albert Einstein defined insanity as, “doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.”
Not sure where he stood with Christ but Einstein had some things to tell us as believers.
He also had a few other zingers:
  • A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be.
  • We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
  • It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer.
Apply those to your Christian Life, your Bible study, or a situation in your community of faith.  There is one recurring situation that I encounter to which these speak.  I will expand tomorrow.  In the meantime how do you see these playing out in your experience?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Foundation Elements

The notion of the foundation of our Christian life has continued to roll around in my thinking for the past several days.  1 Corinthians 3:10 – 16 has been part of that thinking.  In the passage Paul clearly states that the foundation of the Christian life is Christ.  Obviously I agree with that, I am sure Paul is relieved.
We have to be careful about how and with what we build the foundation of our faith in Christ
In another sense however as believers we have to build our relationship with our Lord through and on the foundation of the Scriptures.  That seems to be the consistent response of those who were exposed to the gospel in the book of Acts, look at 17:11; and the exhortation of the writers of the New Testament, look at John 15:7, Hebrews 4:12, 5:11 – 14, 2 Timothy 3:14 – 17, 2 Peter 3:14 – 16.  Perhaps it is because we only can know Christ through His Word that I am struggling with this.

It seems however that there are many of us who are building our understanding of Him through other means than the Word.  There are many resources available to us today through Christian bookstores, the internet, television, and radio that are presented as Biblical and helpful that are of, at best, uneven quality.  Many are in fact helpful, many are in fact harmful.  How can we know the difference?  I would suggest the answer is our starting place.  If we come to the plethora of resources available to us having first grounded ourselves in the Scripture, we are less likely to be led astray by the resources that are less than helpful.

The Word of God has to have primacy in our walk with God.  It rather than the words of others about it, is the way we lay a firm foundation of faith in Christ.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Prep

I have been in two meetings thus far today where the same concerns were surfaced albeit in different ways.  The first meeting was with the men in the Dads Teach the Bible (DTTB) workshop.  The second was the weekly conference call on the Kingdom of God Bible study.  The issue that came up in both scenarios was dealing with our children Biblically as we are living life with them.
It is too late to prep for the battle for our kids after they have been attacked.
In the first group the issue presented through the men sharing their struggles with getting their kids engaged in the Scripture.  In the second it was one of the men sharing a significant, painful challenge with one of his adult children.

The central point of the DTTB workshop, the Fathers to Sons Workshop, the book and workbook I wrote, and the overall thrust of Entrusting Truth, is that in order to have an impact on our kids, we have to have worked first and foremost on ourselves.  In order for us to respond Biblically in the moment we have to have studied and applied the Bible before the moment.  When something comes up in our lives whether it is a challenge our teen is facing with purity, or our adult child with some life altering event, we do not have the option to push pause.  We cannot step aside and go study up on the issue come back and reengage.  The opportunity is gone.  The teachable moment has passed.  Further, when our world is rocked by some drastic action by one with whom we are close, if we do not have a firm foundational walk with God built on time in His Word, our ability to navigate those treacherous waters is sorely diminished.  We have to prep before we are called into action.

It is too late to go to the shooting range to hone our skill when the battle has begun.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Foundations

This morning I was reading in Psalm 11.  My undergraduate degree is in Civil Engineering, so I was brought up short by verse 3.  The foundation of a building is critical.  The picture below is a prime example.  The foundation was not designed well and the result is obvious.
We have to pay attention to the foundation of our Christian life if we are to avoid catastrophic failure.
In all that we are doing with our kids, we are laying the foundation for their lives.  To suggest that is critical work borders on gross understatement.  But it is also true that foundations have to be maintained.  In the case of buildings they are inspected for possible failure and remedial work is done to prevent problems.  That is the case as well for both our individual and corporate Christian life.

We have to make sure that the foundation of our relationship with Christ is on solid ground.  Additionally we have to make sure that the footings of the organizations with which we fellowship are stable.  The elements of a strong foundation include but are not limited to a strong commitment to the study and application of the Word of God, Prayer, the Centrality of the Person and Work of Christ, and dependence on the Holy Spirit.  Those are not options either for individual believers or organizations.  To the extent that an individual or organization diminishes in practice or importance any of these, to that extent they are in peril of the same fate as the building above.

We have to pay attention to the foundation.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Engaged Response

Yesterday I posed the question what do you do when you sense God is not behaving in a way that is consistent with what you understand about Him.
When God does not behave the way we think He should we only have two options.
One of my friends responded that he mopes.  Not me, I blame; usually others or something that is outside of my control.  Recently I saw a sterling corporate example of this on Drudge.  Just after the Colorado Wildfires and the storm that ravaged the east leaving millions without power in the midst of a heat wave, the AP headline declared that this was the logical result of global warming.  Could not have been God’s hand or judgment on us.  After all we are good and most of us don’t really believe that He would operate like that; after all He is a God of love.  Never mind that we have:

  • Butchered 10 times more people than Nazi Germany since 1973 in the name of choice
  • Affirmed and promoted perversion in the name of choice
  • Chosen people who habitually lie, cheat, and steal as leaders and call that normal
  • (There was a fourth, but I deleted it before I posted this – those three were enough)

As a country we look for something  or somebody else to blame rather than take stock of how we have behaved.  I do the same thing.  I came face to face with that again in my life just this morning.  If God does not seem to be acting the way I expect from my understanding of His Word, I only have two options.  First, I have to look hard at my heart.  Is there something there with which I have not yet dealt that may be causing God to remove His hand from me or is there something that He is trying to teach me?  Second, I need to look hard at my understanding of God.  I may have a perverted view of who He says He is.  

The unfortunate truth is both of those require time.  It is much easier to find someone or some situation to blame, or simply complain.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Engaged

There are times I do not understand God.  I do not understand what He either chooses to do or else what He chooses not to do.  I sure would not run things the way He does.  Sometimes it seems like He is completely uninvolved, things are happening that the Bible says He hates, yet He does not respond.  It is confusing.
Even when we do not understand what He is doing, God is at work.
Then I read something like Psalm 147.  Take a minute and read through it and underline or note the verbs that describe God’s engagement.

These are what I saw:
Build up Gather Heal Bind up Support Bring down
Cover Provide Grow Give food Favor Strengthen
Bless Make peace Satisfy Send Forth Give Scatter
Those are just a few…  The picture is of a God who is fully, completely engaged.  So when things are not going as it seems they should according to my understanding of the Word, what should be my response?  What do you think?  More on this tomorrow…

Friday, July 6, 2012

Personal

A few days ago a group of men and I were talking about Peter.  We were thinking through his life and impact.  We were also talking about his denial during Christ’s arrest, trial and crucifixion.
Is knowing that Christ is the Messiah enough?
One of the men remarked that it was strange that Peter fell away during that time in light of his confession at Caesarea Philippi (Matthew 16:13 – 16; Mark 8:27 – 29; Luke 9:18 - 20).  As we talked through that it occurred to me that Peter’s confession that Jesus was Messiah was at some level academic.  By that I mean Peter declared Jesus to be the Christ, not my Christ (emphasis added).  Perhaps that is why on the heels of Peter’s declaration; he was able to rebuke the Messiah for detailing His mission.

There are a lot of people in this world and even in our churches who will acknowledge Jesus is God and that He is the Messiah.  Then some of those same people will complain and disagree with what the Bible says or take positions on issues that are counter to what Christ teaches.  Being a Christian is more than an intellectual understanding of a truth.  It is acceptance of that truth personally to the extent that the truth becomes the center point of one’s life.  Or using a Texas Hold ‘em term, you are “all in” with Christ.  He becomes central to all that one does, a personal Messiah, not the Messiah.  At that point our argument with Him diminishes.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Quick Question(s)

Here is something on which to chew…
Does it matter if what we share about the Christian life is Biblical?
You are asked to speak at some Christian function.  You know that those in the audience are not that deep in the Word.  You know that they will probably not have the skill or desire to check out what you say.  Does it matter if what you share is Biblical?  Why or why not?

If it matters, who bears the responsibility for your speaking unbiblically?  You or the person who asked you to speak?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Recycled

Have you ever blown it?  Have you ever felt like you have messed up so badly that you cannot be used by God; that you have been benched?  That your level of sin has rendered you useless?
Even when we have badly blown it, God can still use us.
Read through Judges 16:4 – 31 and Philemon.  In both places men who had become “useless” were restored.  In Samson’s case his restoration was such that he accomplished more of God’s design for him than he did in his life, Judges 16:30.

God does not discard us when we blow it.  He is in the reclamation business.  That is the whole point of the Bible from Genesis 3 on.  All He asks is that we acknowledge our need for Him.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Mundane

This was a long day.  Started this morning meeting with an old friend with whom I had not talked for some time.  We talked over breakfast for over two hours.  It was good to get caught up.  Helped my neighbor who suffers from Parkinson’s get out of bed.  Met online with the men with whom I have been studying the Kingdom of God for the past year.  Untied the ropes from the top and bottom rings of my son’s Djembe. Took my sons Djembe to a welder to fix the bottom ring which broke last week when he was tightening the ropes.  Went to my daughter’s house to trim the hedges.  Picked up the Djembe.  Went to my part time job, there bought new top and bottom ropes and cloth to cover the rings.  Got off work about an hour and a half ago. Bought some Elmer's Glue to fuse the cloth to the rings on the way home...
Even the not so exciting days should be lived for the Lord.
There was nothing really remarkable about this day.  It was filled with things that were mostly mundane.  But one of the things we talked about this morning in the Kingdom study, was that we are charged to do all that we do excellently.  Colossians 3:17, 23 tells us that we are to do even the mundane, the routine, all that we do for Him.  We may not think it makes a difference.  But the Lord says it does.  We are to do all for Him, for me that includes driving between those events.  

Monday, July 2, 2012

Vital

In Judges 2 this morning I was reminded of the importance of each of us as believers and more importantly the impact of one committed individual.  As you probably know Judges can be outlined around the repeated pattern of rebellion, rebuke, repentance, and restoration.  The author outlines the pattern in 2:11 – 23.  Note though the emphasis in 19, when the judge was taken home, the nation drifted into sin again.
It is vital that we live fully in our gifts and stand against all that comes against the Truth.
This impacts me in a couple of different ways.  First, it reminds me that all of us are critically important to the Body.  Our gifts were given to build up the Body.  We have a responsibility to live fully in those gifts to fulfill that assignment.  But there is much more.  2 Peter 2:1 tells us that the Body will be beset with false teachers, and that is just one of many places where we are given this warning it shows up also in 1 Timothy 4:1 – 5, 2 Timothy4:3, 2 Timothy 3:7, 12, just to get you started…  Which brings me to the second impact, the Body or a subset of the body can be turned back to God through the life of one totally abandoned to living a radically surrendered life.  This pattern is also repeated throughout Scripture, Hebrews 11 is a Reader’s Digest summary of some of those people.  But there are others since Biblical times, listen to a few of John Piper’s series on “Men of Whom the World Was Not Worthy” for some examples.

The Church is constantly under attack by a murderous, committed, demented enemy.  As those redeemed and gifted through the life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, we have to stand alert in constant vigilance not only over our own hearts, Proverbs 4:23, but also our families, our friends, our leaders, our local communities, and the Church.  It is vital.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Tired

I am really tired, fatigue has taken over.  What do you do in your walk with God when you are beat?  For me it is read a few verses and try to stay awake to pray.  It feels futile and forced.  There are times when I will stand in my office to work on a Bible Study or spend time with the Lord.  I have found that it is hard to fall asleep standing up.
What do you do when you are too tired to meet with God?
The problem is if I do not spend time with Him, even if the time is of poor quality, there is a hugely negative impact on my walk with God and my relationships with people.

What has been your experience?