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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Tempus Fugit Again

A New Thought
I try not to repeat myself here but I was just about to, then I checked and found I had used this title once before.  But this thought is a different emphasis than that.
Have you noticed the years going by more quickly?  Thoughts at DTTB.
Halftime
You realize that the year is half gone?  In Trinidad they are starting to put up Christmas decorations.  The Trini’s really get into Christmas; they focus on it for about 120 days.  If, like me, you are over 60, you have noticed that the years are going by faster and faster.  It seemed like a couple of days ago that we were on January 1.

Admonition
Psalm 90:12 tells us that we are to number our days.  I think that means that we are to live with a sense of urgency.  Ephesians 5:15 reinforces that notion.

Purpose
We have been given gifts.  We have been given abilities.  God has guided our lives so that we can do the work for which He designed us, Ephesians 2:10.  Many of us are putting off our contribution until we have more time, or thinking that we will really hit it in the second half of our lives.  While that is an attractive thought, not sure that I can validate that approach to life in the Bible.  Matthew 6:33 tells me I am to seek FIRST His kingdom (Emphasis added).  Proverbs 3:9 tells me I am to honor the Lord with the first fruits.  I take that to mean my time as well.

Excuses
What are we putting off doing for Christ?  Why?  What makes us think there is time to do that?

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Loaves

Overwhelming Gifts
At some level this is a continuation of some thoughts from a couple of days ago.  The Lord has overwhelmingly answered a number of prayers in the past week.  To say that I am thankful does not quite capture it.  The magnitude of His gifts have forced me to face something that I probably should have faced long ago.  Do I follow Christ for what He can do for me or because I am in love with Him and cannot live apart from an intimate connection to Him?
Why am I following Him?  Thoughts at DTTB.
Strong Rebuke
That is what John 6:22 – 71 is about.  You know the story Christ feed the multitude and they want to make Him king.  He leaves them and they come to find Him.  In verse 26 He calls them out. “…you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves, and were filled.”  I have to ask, is that why I am following Christ?  Because He lavishly answers my prayer?

Deplorable Motive
Christ is the radiant image of God.  He is the one who in Revelation 5 is in control of the end of the World.  The World, by the way, which He created and holds together.  He chose to come here, to empty Himself, in order to enter into an eternal relationship with me.  But, what excites me is a loaf?

Friday, June 28, 2013

Inappropriate Barriers

Question
What are the qualifications for someone to engage in ministry?  How do you know if you can engage with them?  Or how do you know that you should let them speak to your people?  That is a question that I face nearly every day?
What give someone the right to speak into my life?  Thoughts at DTTB.
Command
As believers in Scripture we are exhorted to encourage one another, many places, Hebrews 3:13 leaps to mind.  Do we do that?  Do we allow others to do that?  Or do we require them to engage with us in specific ways or for a specific time before we will allow them to engage in or lives?

Solution
At some level we are to be wary.  2 Peter 2, along with other places in scripture, warns us that false teachers will abound.  The current issue of the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society softly documents the growing heresy among evangelical theologians and academics.  So we are wise to be wary.  Acts 17:11 seems to give us the appropriate guidelines.  Is what is being shared consistent with the Word of God?  If it is any other barriers we erect are probably not appropriate.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

High Point

Relief
Today was the culmination of many years and prayers.  I got some news that touched me so deeply that for it I have no real words.  The relief was such that I literally wept for joy.  There was such a release of inner anxiety that I did not realize was there - I was surprised by my reaction.
I learned something about myself today... Thoughts at DTTB.
Wonder
As I have thought through the day and my response, I wonder what to what else I am holding so tightly.  I thought that I had given this matter over completely to The Lord.  But my reaction suggests to me that I was still holding on - for what I do not know.  For there was literally nothing  I could do in this particular situation to affect any outcome.  It was totally and completely out of my control.

Realization
It occurs to me that all about which I am concerned pretty much falls in the same category, I have no control and cannot really affect any outcome.  The overwhelming peace I experienced this afternoon - well I want more of that.  My prayer has become that The Lord in His grace will help me to ferret out what else I am still holding and show me how to release that to Him in a way that gives me that level of peace.

Deficient
This has been a great day for a different reason than the news.  I was instructed by my reaction.  It revealed the shallowness of my real trust in God.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Oops

Nagging Thoughts
You may have read Proverbs 16:9.  That pretty much describes my day today.  All this evening I have been thinking that I have forgotten something important.  I just figured out what it is.  I had not written the blog yet.
When things do not go as planned, that may be God.  Thoughts at DTTB.
Interruptions
The day has been fractured by frustration and joy.  Frustration because of an aging computer that has told me unnecessarily that it was “not responding” more time than I can count today and specifically in the space of about 40 minutes when I was really in a rush to get four tasks complete.  It think there is some sensor somewhere in the keyboard or mouse that detects when I am in a hurry and directs the CPU to clock down.

Joy because one of our granddaughters was too sick to stay at day care – well we were not happy that she was sick – and she came to our house, well I picked her up and brought her here.  She got to feeling better and played with her grandmother all afternoon.  I was able to play with her while the computer was “not responding.”  After work her mom, our daughter came and they practiced crawling and squealing at each other – apparently squealing has become part of learning to crawl.  My wife nearly fell out of the chair laughing.

Mixed Results
The day started really well with a good discussion during the Wednesday morning study which the church erroneously announced as canceled last Sunday so our breakfast and most of the men did not show up.  Those of us there had a good time.  Then I met with a couple to discuss their one degree.  Great time with them.  After that is when the frustration and joy entered the picture.

Sovereign Control
I am learning, albeit slowly, that Proverbs 16:9 is another reflection of God’s sovereignty over my life.  My plans are therefore always tentative.  Regardless of how important I think what I need to do is.  God’s plan – His direction trumps it.  I just struggle to remember that in the moment.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Obey?

What
Read Psalm 119:33-40 and note what the psalmist asks God to do for him.  Then read Acts 16:14.  See the connection?
Matthew 5:48 says our obedience has to be perfect.  How is that working out for you?  Thoughts at DTTB.
How
We talk a lot about obedience and following hard after God.  It seems to me from these two passages that unless God enables our obedience we cannot obey.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Enlarged Heart

Review
Yesterday I asked the question how do we encourage crushing hunger for God’s Word.  Read Jeremiah 15:16.  One of the ways we come to love some foods is by eating them.  We develop a taste for them.  Coffee is like that.  The first time I drank it I could not stand it.  Now I love it.  Why, I have developed a taste for coffee.  How?  By drinking coffee.
In order to love God's Word, God has to enlarge our heart.  Thoughts at DTTB.
Acquired Taste
It works the same way with the Word.  If you want to develop a hunger for the Word you have to “eat” it.  That is study it.  Spend time in it.  But that is not all.

Psalm 119:32 gives us another clue.  We need to ask God for an enlarged heart.  A heart that is hungry for God’s Word.  So by spending time in the Word and asking God to enlarge our heart for the Word, we will become like Jeremiah, the Word will be our delight.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Crushed

Puzzled
Read Psalm 119:20.
How closely does our attitude toward God's Word align with what the Bible says it should be?  Thoughts at DTTB.
How many people do you know that can honestly say that is their attitude toward the Word of God?

Searching
I do not know many.  If you don’t either, does that intrigue you?  Jesus said that we should abide in His Word, John 15:7, yet I have attended more than one Christian event where the Bible was not opened or referenced.  I have a handout entitled a Biblical definition of Community on which there is not a single Biblical reference.

If our soul is not crushed with longing for God’s Word; for what is it crushed?  What in the heck are we doing in our communities if we are not hard after God through His Word?  Where else can we go?  What is keeping us, distracting us from a crushing longing for God’s Word?

This is not the only place this type of attitude toward the Word shows up; look at Job 23:12.

Wondering
How do we encourage and develop that kind of crushing hunger?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Fully Confirmed

Why
The first phrase of Psalm 93:5 jumped off of the page at me today, “Thy testimonies are fully confirmed.”  Why is that?  Read through the Psalm and see if the Psalmist validates what he claims.
If we question the Bible, what are we really questioning?  Thoughts at DTTB.

Inspired?
We claim we should believe the Word of God because it is inspired.  It is.  But that is not the main reason we should believe it.  It is the Word of God.  The One who created the universe.  The one who is clothed and girded with strength.  The One who’s throne is established from of old.  The one who is from everlasting.

Source
This is the One who’s Word the Bible is.  When we question it, disagree with it, or trivialize it, we question, disagree with, and trivialize the One who’s Word it is.

It is fully confirmed because of Who said it.

Friday, June 21, 2013

New Life

Announcement
At 11:25 AM John Everett Cunningham arrived.  He is the fifth generation Cunningham with the first name John.  My grandfather was John Newton; dad, John Arthur; me, John Michael; and my son, John Thomas.
Each generation in our families is the beginning of new responsibilities.  Thoughts at DTTB.
I was meeting with a friend when I got the text from my son telling me Everett was here weighing in at 8# 7 oz.  He is our third grandchild and the second in the last 8 months.  Kinley Grace Garner was born in October to our daughter Ranae.

Recollection
I remember when John and Ranae were born.  Now John has two children and Ranae one.  It is hard to believe that those small packages have come to this.

Orientation
Shortly after I got the word my friend and I were praying.  We prayed as we have for all of our children and grandchildren, that Everett would be an oak of righteousness, a warrior in God’s kingdom.

I was reminded that we are not in this Christian thing for ourselves.  We are in it for the generations of people who will follow us.  Our most important contribution is not what ministry we are able to sustain.  It is in the souls in our families with which God has chosen to entrust us.  We will be held accountable for how we did with them.  No measure of other success, be it ministry or commercial, will equal or replace the sacred task of rearing those whom God gives.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Fellowship

Refreshing
Where to start.  There is so much going through my head today that I do not have a clue which direction to pursue.  I have had a great day meeting with three men this morning on Ephesians 5, then 15 minutes later a pastor in Morocco on the same passage, and finally thus far with one of the men who pray for us on a regular basis who had asked me some hard questions about what we were doing.  All of these meetings were refreshing.
Fellowship is more than hanging out... Thoughts at DTTB.
Why?

Challenging
Because each of them were meetings where men were in hard pursuit of God and sharing in that pursuit.  It is in those types of meetings that fellowship actually happens.  Each person's gift engages to build up the others in the group.  It doesn't matter if the conversation is across a table over breakfast, across an ocean over Skype, or over coffee in a Starbucks; what matters is the commitment of each individual to their total dependence on Christ and their interdependence on each other.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Good Thing

Proverbs 18:22 tells us that if we have found a wife we have found both a good thing and favor from the Lord.  Today is my “good thing’s” birthday.
Sometimes men do not know a good thing when they have it.  I do.  Thoughts at DTTB.
We have been married 35 years as of 16 days ago.  She is a bit more than a good thing.  She is a gifted teacher both of her special education students, women she has led in Bible study, but most importantly our kids.  Now she has turned her attention to the growing number of our grandchildren which this week expands to three.

She has put up with the fallout of my gifts and drive and the resulting chaos with grace and reasonable support.  She waited through seven surgeries, told twice I had cancer during that time, with first one then three small children, after the third child essentially on her own for six months as I recovered.

She has held down the fort as I have traveled on mission trips to Indonesia, Morocco, and accompanied me on the first trip to Trinidad where she met with several groups of women.

She is a prayer warrior and lover of God’s Word.

She is a good thing.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Truth

What is Truth?
Do you ever wonder what is really going on?  Do you read the paper, listen to the news, or check out headlines on the internet with some level of disbelief?  That is probably a good idea.
What is truth?  Pilate asked that, so are we?  Thoughts at DTTB.
Not Found in the World
Read John 8:42 – 47 and Ephesians 6:12.  Jesus tells us that Satan is the father of lies and cannot but speak lies.  Paul tells us that Satan has dominion over the world and that our struggle is with him.  So if it is the case that Satan has dominion over the world and he is a liar, is it any wonder that we have a hard time getting the truth out of the systems he controls?

Found in...
So where is truth?  How do we find it?  First of all we should not expect it from the world.  John alludes to this in 1 John 2:15 – 17.  We should not allow the world to lull us into some notion that we are getting the truth from any of its systems.  On the other hand John 14:6 tells us that Christ is the truth.  So it seems that if we are interested in truth it may be the best course of action to get to know Christ and allow Him to lead us in the truth.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Lovely

Notice - if you are in the Tulsa area click on the events tab above.  There is a Dad's Teach the Bible workshop starting in a couple of weeks... Please Register by 6/23 so we will know how many books to print.

Stopped
Reading in Psalm 84 this morning, did not get much further than verse 1.  It is a good idea when you are struck by a verse in your reading to stop and wonder why; that is what I did this morning.

Looked
I ran a search in my Bible program, Logos, on “dwelling AND (God OR Lord)”.  That gave me this list:
  • Zechariah 2:10 – 11; 8:3
  • Romans 8:9
  • 1 Corinthians 3:16
  • 2 Corinthians 6:15f
  • Ephesians 2:22
Do you find all of God's people lovely?  Thoughts at DTTB.
There were actually more but these dealt with God dwelling with His people.  (You can do the same thing on Bible gateway by doing two searches using “dwell, Lord” and “dwell, God;” make sure you tell the program to match both words.  I could not figure out how to do a similar search on YouVersion.)

Challenged
When I read through those passages I am struck and challenged by this syllogism:
  • Where God dwells is lovely
  • God dwells with His people
  • God’s people are lovely

That is not my consistent response to all of God’s people.  I am working through that today.  My suspicion is that my response when not aligned with this, is telling me more about me than it is whatever or whoever it is I am seeing as unlovely.

Sometimes I really do not like what I find in the Word.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day

Notice - if you are in the Tulsa area click on the events tab above.  There is a Dad's Teach the Bible workshop starting in a couple of weeks...

So today is father’s day.  You may have noticed that this blog is about fathers.  Both physical and spiritual fathers.  So it might be a good idea to rattle your categories just a bit today.
How is each day father's day?  Thoughts at DTTB.
Take a minute and read Deuteronomy 6:6 – 7.  Then look across the page or turn it and read 6:20.

Note the expectation God has on fathers.  He expects them to talk to their kids pretty much all of the time about the Word.  In other words fathers are expected by God to process life with their children through the lens of the Word of God.  Secondly, they are to live their lives that when their kids have a question about their beliefs their immediately they will think to themselves, “Dad will know.”

That requires us as dads to know and apply the Word.  That is the purpose of this blog and Entrusting Truth.  If you need help with that, let us know.  We will do everything in our power to help.

The point is, from the standpoint of the assignments in Deuteronomy 6:6 -7, 20, every day is fathers day.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Leadership Myth

Notice - if you are in the Tulsa area click on the events tab above.  There is a Dad's Teach the Bible workshop starting in a couple of weeks...

Leaders are Not Enough
Nehemiah was a leader.  It is a common refrain in most organizations, churches included, that we need leaders.  I agree.  But leaders are not enough.  Nehemiah did not build the wall.
Leaders cannot do stuff on their own.  We need more than leaders.  Thoughts at DTTB.
Leaders Have to Have Leadees
Nehemiah 4:6 tells us that the people had a mind to work.  They built the wall.  Nehemiah did not.  Nehemiah gathered the resources, made the assignments, managed the work, directed the people, dealt with opposition, but he did not build the wall.  The people did.  He enabled them, in a sense equipping them to build by clearing the obstacles and dividing the work in to manageable portions.  But he did not build the wall, they did.

The Leadees Do the Work
We need leaders, no question.  But we need people with a mind to work.  Ephesians 4:11 – 16 tells us that leaders are to equip the saints for the work of service.  They are to follow Nehemiah’s lead.  They are not to do the work of service.  The saints are.

How Is That Working?
Take a look at your church.  Is that is what is happening.  If not, why not?

Friday, June 14, 2013

Breakthrough

Notice - if you are in the Tulsa area click on the events tab above.  There is a Dad's Teach the Bible workshop starting in a couple of weeks...

Cycle
There is a cycle through which we all progress when we are learning something new, or changing the way we view life.  I have seen it take place in individual’s lives at varying rates over the 40 years of engagement with equipping people to study the Bible for themselves.  There seems to be a pattern emerging.  I am still working through the details and the wording so if you have some thoughts or corrections to this please feel free to chime in.
We all go through similar phases when we change.  Thoughts at DTTB.
Exposure - Struggle
Looking at the diagram, we seem to navigate five phases as we learn.  The first is Exposure.  We are exposed to a new idea or skill.  Since we do not like change, the next phase is Struggle.  We struggle with the new concept or skill as we evaluate whether we think that it will be of benefit for us.

Utility
We then move to the Utility phase.  We may be using the new learning or skill but it is somewhat mechanical.  It is still not a part of our thinking or behavior but we are engaging in using it on a regular or semi regular basis.

Transparent
The next stage is (the first person I shared this with did not like this word...  So I am open to suggestion here) Transparent.  What I mean by that is that we get to the point that we use the new learning or skill without thinking about it.

Heart
The last stage is Heart.  That is where we are using the skill or information consitanly in a way that changes the way we live.

Summary
All of this is focused on learning to engage in the Bible personally.  I have seen these phases play out in many people's lives over the years.  One other truth here is that I have seen people bail out of the process at each stage before they reach Heart.  That is unfortunate.  I have seen people abandon the process in the first two phases because the new truth or skill is hard.  In our churches today many of us are used to people doing the work for us.  We are consumers rather than those who do the work ourselves.  To change and take responsibility for our own time in the Word is a difficult switch to make.

It is worth the effort.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

What Nehemiah Can Teach Us about Trust

Problem
You have a critical project.  You are consumed with the details.  It is filling your every waking moment, every corner of your thought.  The problem is it is a project that is not part of your current responsibility.  But it is at the core of what drives you.  You are doing your work, and doing it well, but the challenges of the project are eating away at you.  It shows.  Your countenance is affected.
When someone with means asks how they can help, how do you respond?  Thoughts at DTTB.
Your boss notices that something is eating at you.  He asks what is bothering you.  He is a powerful, demanding, and terrifying man.  He literally has the power of life and death over those who work for him.  Should your answer displease him, you will die.

Possible Solution
You take a deep breath and reveal your project.  To your surprise your boss asks what he can do to help.  Here is a man with unlimited earthly resources.  Who can literally solve your project’s challenges with a word.  How do you respond?

Response of Trust
If you are Nehemiah you don’t, immediately.  First, you pray.
That is not my normal response to an offer of resources.  My first response is gratitude for the offer.  But Nehemiah was made from different cloth.  He knew the ultimate source of the offer.  He went to his Lord in prayer before he answered the Lord’s unexpected earthly conduit, Nehemiah 2:4.

In challenges we tend to trust what we know, our planning, our logic, our ability to raise resources, and plan their efficient use.  Nehemiah later in the book exhibits all of those qualities we value in a leader.  But the first thing he did, and continued to do till his project was complete, was to trust not the earthly source, but the ultimate source of the resources.  He trusted God.

First he prayed.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

More Push Back

Challenge
Last week I told you one of the men with whom I regularly study the Bible was challenging some of my conclusions on a passage I recently have studied.  This afternoon I read though his comments in detail.  This individual’s gifts are different than mine.  He approaches the Word from a different perspective, through the lens of his gifts and experience.
We have to learn to use the gifts of one another in order to effectively pursue Christ.  Thoughts at DTTB.
History
Thirty five years ago was the first time we were in a study together.  Then we came to the study having invested a minimum of 20 hours each week in preparation.  There were twelve of us around the table.  Each of us came with settled understanding of what we had studied.  We did not always agree.  It never came to physical blows but the intensity of the discussion would have permanently damaged sensitive people.  None of us fell into that category.

Value
Today, I have learned – strike that – I am learning to better engage my friend’s gifts.  To listen more carefully, to attempt to understand how and why he comes to his conclusions.  Most of the time we are on the same page, just different paragraphs.  Not always.

Requirement
Part of the reality of the Body is that we need each other.  We need each other’s gifts, experience, perspective.  We have to learn to embrace the differences, to celebrate them, and to learn from one another.  Our pursuit of the infinite will be epically diminished if we do not.  This Christian thing in which we are engaged is not an individual but rather a team sport.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Repetition

Observe
I have written several times in this blog about the value of observing repetition in Bible study.  Here is another example of how it can help you determine the arc of an author’s arguement.
The Tuesday study is shifting to Romans 4 - 8.  In preparation for that study I was skimming through those chapters.  I noticed that one key word was repeated in each chapter
Repetition gives us a fairly strong indication of what an author is trying to tell us.  Thoughts at DTTB.
ChapterWord Frequency
4
Faith
10
5
Sin
11
6
Death/Died
17
7
Law/Commandment
27
8
Spirit
21

Understand
When you look at that data, it sorta kinda tells you Paul's point...

Monday, June 10, 2013

Skilled

Preparation
How does one prepare to impact their culture?  One of the things that I have heard people say over and over is that they want their lives to have an impact.  So how does one prepare oneself to have an impact?
What can we do to have the maximum impact with our lives?  Thoughts at DTTB.
Ezra’s Story
Read through Ezra 7.  Note as you read the phrases that are repeated.  What I saw:

Ezra’s Grasp of the Word
7:6 – …skilled in the law of Moses…
7:11 – …learned in the words of the commandments of the Lord…
7:14 – …the Law of your God which is in your hand…
7:25 – …the wisdom of your God which is in your hand…
God’s grasp of Ezra
7:6 – …the hand of the Lord his God was upon him…
7:9 – …the good hand of his God was upon him…
7:28 – …the hand of the Lord my God upon me…

Impact
Ezra won the heart of a pagan king to the point that he financed Ezra’s mission to rebuild the temple.  Why?  Was it because of Ezra’s great gifts as a leader, his training as a negotiator, his business acumen, his construction management skills?  No.

Focus
The key to Ezra’s impact is in Ezra 7:10.  He was single minded.  He set his heart on one thing.  He set his heart to master the law of God.  His mastery was practical.  He did not just study for head knowledge.  He applied, practiced what he saw in the law.  Because of that he won the heart and support of a pagan king.  He was a captive in exile.  He had no standing other than his heart set knowledge of his God’s law.  That changed his environment.

It forces us who wish to impact our culture to ask,

“On what have we set our hearts?”

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Dumbfounded

The speaker was telling the group that the creator of the universe had intentionally, personally, engaged with them to give them specific gifts.  The purpose of the gifts was for the glory of God and for the equipping of the Body of Christ for the work of God’s kingdom.  Wow.
As he was speaking I glanced around the room.  He might have been sharing 50 ways to use duct tape for the reaction he was getting.  One man was asleep in the back of the room.  Some were taking notes.  But there was no animation on the faces in the crowd.  No excitement or wonder that the creator of the universe had a specific place and plan for them and had intentionally gifted them for that role.  Really?

I wanted to stand on my chair and yell, “Do you understand the words that are coming out of his mouth?”  How can anyone sit still when someone is telling them that the God of Revelation 4 - 5 has called them to action?

Not sure I understand what it is that would wake up Christians.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

One Another

A couple of days ago I wrote about a brother who challenged some of my assumptions on Ephesians 3:2.  Yesterday we talked on the phone and he shared a struggle that he was having with a situation in his ministry.  The Lord used me that time in his life to encourage him.
We have to have one another to navigate this Christian thing well...  Thoughts at DTTB.
That is the way this thing is supposed to work.  We are to be engaged with one another at a level that allows us to speak freely into each other’s lives.  He and I have a long relationship.  We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses.  We have seen the other succeed and not so much.  There is no pretense, no gaming of issues.  I need that.  He needs that.  All of us do.  It takes time.  It takes work.  It takes a number of blows that each of you survive.

It is worth the fight.  Fight for it.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Torn Soul

If you have read Harry Potter books, especially the last two, you will be familiar with the idea of horcruxes. The idea is that one can divide one's soul and hide it in an object to prevent the death of the one who divided the soul. However, dividing the soul requires a heinous act, namely murder. In Rowling's explanation it tears the soul in two. She may have gotten the idea for this partially from Psalm 41:4.
Sin rips our soul, God heals it...  Thoughts at DTTB.
The psalmist cries out to God to heal his soul, which is wounded as a result of sin. There are other passages that tell us that sin impacts us negatively take a look at 1 Corinthians 6:18. We damage not only our relationship with The Lord and others but also our own soul and body when we sin.

In the Potterverse the cure for a divided soul was real remorse, read repentance. Rowling got it mostly right. Read Psalm 54:1, 4. Note that along with Psalm 41:4 captures the same notion. I am remorseful, repentant, disgusted with my sin. But helpless to deal with it. The psalmist cries to God to save him by His name acknowledging that God is the sustainer of the psalmist's soul. In the climax of the Potter books Harry pleads with Voldemort to show remorse, repent.

There are two things that strike me from this. First, I am powerless to deal with my sin apart from God, which Christ reinforces with John 15:5. Second, I need to read what my kids are reading. Ready to point out the truth or the error that lies within those pages.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Push Back

We need each other.  As I have told you here before I have a Tuesday morning study with some men who I collectively have know for about 130 years.  They are an incredible resource for several reasons.
We - at least I - need men I trust to give me feedback on my ideas.  Thoughts at DTTB.
First, they do not let me get away with anything.

Second, I respect each of their understanding of the Word of God.

Third, I actively seek out their opinion.

That happened last week.  I saw something in Ephesians that I wanted them to think through with me.  I sent them a portion of my study.  One of the men sent me back a long response and partial critique.  I am traveling this week and have not had time to look at it in detail, but scanning it I can tell there is both some valuable insight there along with some things that on the first read with which I may not agree.

But he did me the honor of working through my thinking and responding in kind.  I need that.  You need that.  It is more valuable than words can express.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Submit

When my wife and I were married 35 years ago it was common to quote Ephesians 5:21 – 33.  You know the passage, submission and headship.  That has fallen out of favor in the last several years.  We do not hear that passage shared at weddings much anymore.
We should still be talking about Ephesians 5:21 - 33 at weddings...  Thoughts at DTTB.
I think that is a mistake.  Not for what it says to the wife but because of what it says to the husband

Read through Ephesians 5:21 – 33.  Note how the husband is charged.  Look especially at Ephesians 5:23, 25.  The husband is head of the wife as Christ is head of the church and he is supposed to love his wife as Christ loved the Church.  Now consider what Christ did for the Church.  Philippians 2: 5 – 8 tells us that He emptied Himself for the Church.  The husband is to love his wife in the same way.

Not an easy assignment.  Submission to that type of leadership would be easier.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Taught

I have a side project in the works.  I am working through each section of Psalm 119.  Today I was in 9 – 16, Beth, that is the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet.  You are probably aware that the psalm is divided into 22, 8 verse segments.  Following the Hebrew alphabet the verses in each section start with the same letter of the alphabet, the first section Aleph, the second section Beth, the third Gimel, etc.
We need to be in the Word with all of our heart but we cannot understand it without God's teaching us.  Thoughts at DTTB.

Looking at Beth, note what the Psalmist says about the Word’s impact on him:

  • Vs 9 – keeps him pure
  • Vs 10 – keeps him from sinning against God

But also notice that the psalmist acknowledges that he cannot apply the Word on his own.

  • Vs 10 – do not let me wander
  • Vs 12 – Teach me Thy statutes.

This is both our need to be in the Word and our total dependence on the Lord for our understanding.  This dual need is echoed in the New Testament, one place I have seen it recently is Ephesians 1:9, God grants us the grace to understand His will.

By the way yesterday’s blog post was not published correctly, if you did not see it you can read it here.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Being Led

How do we Abide?
Yesterday I suggested that even though we are created and equipped by a sovereign Lord for a specific task that we would still not be able to do that task without abiding in Christ, John 15:5.
How can we abide and be led by the Spirit?  Thoughts at DTTB.
So the question becomes how does one abide in Him?  The answer may be in the same context in one verse, John 15:7.  Note this is a conditional statement, technically it deal with something that probably will happen.  Note the two conditions:
  • You abide in me
  • My words abide in you
Then note the result of the condition:
  • Ask and it will be done.
How are we Led?
It looks like whatever else may be involved that the Word of God and prayer that results from having the Word of God abide in us is some aspect of abiding.  The context of John 15:5, 7 is right in the middle of the final hours Jesus spent with His disciples.  John recorded this in 13 – 17.  One of the key things Christ told the 12 was in 14 and 16.  That the Holy Spirit was coming to lead them into truth, John 14:25 – 31 and John 16:13 – 14.  So it seems like we are to depend on the Holy Spirit to lead us into truth in the Word and then begin to pray as that truth abides in us.

It seems to me that to seek guidance or being led by the Spirit requires both being in the Word and praying over what we find in there.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Conundrum

Adequate
In the past few weeks I have written twice about stewardship; first here and then here.  There is another aspect of stewardship that may seem – no it is, really hard to grasp.
We are perfectly equipped for a work we are completely dependent to do.  Thoughts at DTTB.
Already covered in the earlier posts is the fact that God has intentionally created each us for a unique purpose.  He has also given us gifts that align with that purpose, Romans 12:1 – 21; 1 Corinthians 12:4 – 31; Ephesians 4:11 – 16.  Further, He has sovereignly orchestrated our life experiences to equip us to fulfill that purpose.  For a clear example of this look at Joseph’s life and his response to his “negative” experiences in Genesis 50:20.

So we are intentionally created, gifted, and equipped for His purpose.

But that is not enough.

But Dependent
We read throughout the Scripture and specifically in John 15:5 that even though we have gifts and abilities, unless we are connected, abide, remain, in Christ, those gifts and abilities do not count for much.  If John 15:5 is accurate, they count for precisely zero.

So although we are intentionally gifted and equipped by God, we are completely dependent on Him to use that gifting and equipping.

How do enter into that dependence?  Check back here tomorrow for an attempt to begin to sort that out.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Life Happens

Naive
One of my mentors used to often say, “It takes a lot of time to live.”  I did not really get what he meant by that at the time.  I was just out of the Air Force, living in a corner of his basement.  I had no bills in the Air Force, the only one I had with him was minimal rent.
When life hits the fan it is an opportunity to share the Grace of God with others.  Thoughts at DTTB.
I get it now.

Aware
Last month I switched to a different internet service with the same provider.  It was supposed to reduce my bill, give me faster speed, and simplify my life.  One out of three ain’t bad.  I have faster speed, Netflix works better.  But, I have spent about 24 hours on the phone with them on technical issues.  My billing rather than having one place to pay for all of the services online once a month has now apparently been returned to four individual paper bills that have different due dates.  Additionally, I was not told of these changes and when I tried to pay my bill as usual last month I was told it was not ready.  Since then I have paid one and got a nasty gram telling me that I owed more.  If the bills are accurate they represent a 20% increase rather than a savings.

So I get it.

We live in a broken world which we are warned not to love, 1 John 2:15 – 17, but we do.  We have to live and work in it.  It is under the domain of the enemy and he delights in destruction.  So what do we do.

Functioning in Grace
For me, this last month I did better.  I prayed for the ability to show grace to the people on the phone, with the exception of one of those people I was able to do that.  If it is the case that God is sovereign and he does not allow me to be tempted beyond that which I am able, 1 Corinthians 10:13, then all of this is for a purpose.

Pray that I will remember that when I talk to the folks about the bill…