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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Lessons from Sports

Full disclosure here, graduated from Texas A&M – I enjoyed watching football last year for obvious reasons.  I worked most of the day so I recorded today’s game and just finished watching it.  I was disappointed.
Is it enough to teach our kids to be really good at something?  Thoughts at DTTB.
I enjoy watching our quarterback play, he is unquestionably an exceptional athlete.  He does not seem to have exceptional character.  It is true that he is only a junior in college, but I had hoped to see a better level of maturity than I saw, especially at the end of the game.  I think there are some lessons for us as parents in raising our children in watching what is happening with him.

My dad always told me that it was not whether you won or lost it was how you played the game.  He meant that I was to treat others with respect.  To work as a member of a team.  It does not appear that this kid has been taught that by his folks.

All of us have gifted children.  Not all are gifted in sports, some are gifted in relationships, academics, other walks of life.  It is our responsibility to help them learn to use those gifts for the benefit of others.  Not to focus on themselves, but to live a life that builds others up, even as we compete with them.

The sporting arena is a great classroom for that learning.  So is the difficult relational landscape of the public school.  As parents we need to engage with our kids with this.  Their action under pressure will reflect either our equipping them to handle those things well or else will reveal areas where we should have engaged more effectively.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Elbonians

I just spent a week in Elbonia (not really – if you read Dilbert you would know that already – but I will always, from now on refer to places that are hostile to Christianity as Elbonia because I want to go back).
Are we all Elbonians or not?  Thoughts at DTTB.
Anyway in Elbonia we were sharing the same approach to Scripture that we teach in the workshops here.  The learning curve was steep, but it is here as well.  One of the men told me that the reason that they did not engage with the Bible this way and would have challenges applying what we were sharing is that all Elbonians were lazy.  He said they would rather be told what the text said that figure it out for themselves.

My response to him was that all of the people I know in the United States must be Elbonian.  Laziness is not the exclusive domain of Elbonians or Americans.  It is human nature.  We do not like to expend effort.  We would much rather have someone tells us the answer than figure it out ourselves, we would rather use a remote than get up to change the channel, etc.

The problem with all of that is that the one who does the work is the one who benefits.  It is in the struggle with trying to comprehend what the Spirit of God is saying in the Word of God that He shows up and leads us into truth.

So we all need to abandon our Elbonian tendency to laziness and engage in the hard work of seeking God in His Word.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

What I Know

This is going to be a bit repetitious.  Yesterday I suggested that the Word has the same impact on us regardless of where we live.  Chuck responded by saying that sometimes those of us who have been privileged to teach others in the Word are impressed that we can.
It does not matter what we know.
Does it matter how much a teacher knows?  Thoughts at DTTB.
I may have the best grasp on the difficult passages and concepts in the Word of God.  That is good for me.  That does not help others very much.  Unless it points them in a direction for them to do their own work and come up with their own handle on difficult issues.  Acts 17:11 echoes this.  The Bereans were called noble minded for looking to the Scripture for themselves.

It does not matter what the teacher knows.  What matters is whether the teacher can equip the student to be able to find out what the teacher knows for himself.

That is our job as dads.  To teach our kids to be able to stand on their own in the Word of God.  Of course that assumes we can.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Same

A few months back I responded to a study of Ephesians with two groups.  Last week I was privileged to work with a group of people in another country using the same tools.  Until we met their approach to the Bible was mostly devotional.  They would read a few verses and react to them.  I pushed them really hard past their comfort zone.  I challenged them to read a book at one sitting and to get a feel for a book as a whole.  The primary reason for that emphasis is that in both their country and ours errors are multiplied by emphasizing one or two verses in a book without regard for the message of that book.
Do we need to do something different to help people grow in other cultures?  Thoughts at DTTB.
Going in I was unsure how the week was going to work.  Halfway through the week I was in a conversation with a member of the local ministry of education, who was decrying the decline of education in the region.  She was explaining that the students’ academic ability was in a consistent decline.  All of the people in our meeting were products of that system.  I noticed at the beginning of the week they had difficulty making abstract connections between themes.

As the week progressed there was progress.  They began to see that they could study and understand what they were studying.  Given the right questions to ask, with some simple guidance on what to look for in the text, they were making solid observations on what the author was saying.  They were excited that they could do this on their own.  They were excited to share what they were seeing in the Word of God.

Yesterday morning we held the next to last meeting of the current Dads Teach the Bible workshop.  The men in that workshop have had the identical experience.  Different language, different culture, halfway around the world, the same response to the Word of God.

Why do we insist on making this so difficult?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

No Answers

This morning we had the next to the last meeting for the Dads Teach the Bible workshop.  In that meeting my kids show up and the men in the workshop ask them questions about what we did as a family.  It is typically the highlight of the 10 weeks for the men.  Why?  Because my kids tell the truth.  We do not have this all figured out.  A lot of what we tried did not work.  We just kept trying.  That message comes across really loud and clear.
What do you do with all of the questions you are asked about the Bible?  Thoughts at DTTB.
One of the questions that comes up pretty much every time we do this, is how did I help them learn to study.  Typically Jeff will answer that question.  He starts by telling the men that I do not answer questions.  Rather I told them how to find the answers on their own.  But the time they ask the question and hear Jeff’s answer, they know that is my MO.

Last week toward the end of the week one of the men in the workshop where they did not speak Texan, asked me a question.  It was a really good one.  I was something that while it is not central to the gospel was something that he has probably struggled with all of his life.  I did not answer him.  Instead I told him that it was a great question.  Then I asked him how he would go about answering it using the tools that we had worked through together.  He looked a bit taken aback, people are used to being told what they want to hear.  We worked through and outline of how to approach answering the question.

If I had told him the answer, I would have satisfied his curiosity and simultaneously robbed him of learning how to find out the answer to difficult questions himself.  It is while we are wrestling with hard issues, where we are unsure of our footing, that we are stretching ourselves, we are learning.  It is in that space that we are most in tune with the Holy Spirit’s ministry of leading us into all truth.

It does not matter what I know.  It does not matter that I could have answered his question.  What matters is that he has the tools to deal with difficult issues on his own.  Why? Because right now I am in Tulsa, where even though they don’t speak Texan, they understand it.  He is in a place 36 hours away where Texan is a foreign language.  He cannot pick up the phone and get his questions answered, at least not from me.  But, he now has the tools and understands the method to try himself.  As he does, he will get better at it.  He will begin to have more confidence in what he sees.  More confidence and familiarity with the Word.

Much better than answering his question.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Seeing?

Last night at about 9:45 PM the plane I was on landed in Tulsa ending a trip that started, Tulsa time (there is a song in there somewhere), at 11 AM the day before.  I was in another country for a week equipping them to study the Bible independently.  I learned some things.  Some of which I will share here over time.
When does reading something not enough to understand what it says?  Thoughts at DTTB.
First, reading does not equal seeing.  What I mean by that, is that when I read something I have to get past what I “know” to be true to really see what is being written.  That is true of all literature, but it is critical when coming to the Bible.

The last couple of days we were studying the book of Jonah together.  During the time where they were sharing what they saw during that overview, they were talking about what a great prophet Jonah was, and how he trusted God, and was a real man of faith.

Typically in these sessions I spend most of my time affirming what people see in scripture.  It is my role to give them the tools to see and then get out of the way…  Not this time.  I responded to their observations with something like, ‘’you have got to be kidding!”  This is the “man of God” who is describe three times in Jonah 1:3 – 10 as fleeing from the presence of the Lord.  Not only that but he pays a fee to do so.  Then he feels so bad about fleeing from God, that he goes down into the boat in the midst of a storm and falls fast asleep.  Then when confronted he does not admit what is going on until forced to.  Real Godly example.

What was happening with the people in the room?  They “read” the book, it is only about 50 verses, and rather than seeing what the text said, they saw what they thought should be there.  Prophet equals good guy, so Jonah had to be good.  Nope.

Took some time but we got around that and they got it.  It occurs to me that they are not the only people on the planet that read what they expect to see in the Bible rather than what it actually says.

To read or study well, we have to read as if for the first time.  We have to read with fresh eyes.  We have to be willing to see beyond what we expect to find.  Otherwise, we are wasting our time.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Hanging with Habakkuk

Do you ever have a challenge hearing from God on issues for which you are really concerned?  Habakkuk did.  I do.  Look at Habakkuk 2:1.  When Habakkuk was concerned about what he had heard that God was going to do to Israel he stationed himself on a guard post.  Based on phrase, “…to see what He will speak to me…” I take that to mean that Habakkuk was engaging in a long prayer watch.
What do we do when we are struggling with something God is doing?  Thoughts at DTTB.
This notion of really struggling with God in prayer shows up more than once in the Scripture.  Jacob, Jeremiah, Jesus in the Garden, and His parable, Luke 11:5 – 8.  Paul’s exhortation to pray without ceasing in 1 Thessalonians 5:17.

When there is a challenge, when we need to hear from God, there is nothing like spending extended time on our knees before Him waiting.  I am not really good at that, to my own detriment.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Fair?

People seem to be interested in what is fair.  It drives a lot of the cultural conversation and politics at least in the US.  Folks tend to evaluate whether something is true by whether it is fair.  Problem is, fair in whose eyes?
Is God fair?  Thoughts at DTTB.
The Bible doesn’t talk much about fair.  The concept only appears three times in Leviticus 19:15; Isaiah 11:4; and Colossians 4:1 depending on your translation.  The Bible is much more interested in justice, mercy, and grace under the umbrella of the Sovereignty of God.

There is a passage that will cause those who are interested in fairness no end of grief.  Look at Habakkuk 1:6, 11.  In answer to Habakkuk’s prayer God tells him that He is raising up the Chaldeans to punish Israel and then tells Habakkuk that He will hold the Chaldeans guilty for doing so.  Fair?

How do you respond to that?

Friday, August 23, 2013

For His Name's Sake

You know this Psalm probably by heart, Psalm 23.  Look at verses 2 and 3.  Note especially what the Lord does for David and by extension for us:
  • He makes
  • He leads
  • He restores
  • He guides
Why does God do what He does for us?  Thoughts at DTTB.
Why does the Lord do that?  For the sake of the sheep?  Uh uh, look at the last phrase of verse 3.  It starts with “for,” that word signals the writer is giving a reason.  The reason the Lord makes, leads, restores, and guides is not for the sake of the sheep, it is for the sake of His name.

He is acting consistently with His nature and character.  He is acting naturally, to preserve His reputation.  But that is not an effort it is just who He is.

That is the Lord we serve.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Sacrifice of Fools

Yesterday we looked at the first part of Ecclesiastes 5:1.  Today Look at the second part.  Reading this I was abruptly stopped by the notion of “offering the sacrifice of fools”.  I really do not want to do that.  A couple of weeks ago in our Sunday School class we looked at Jephthah in Judges 11 – 12.  It is a difficult passage; Jephthah makes a stupid vow and ends up making a foolish sacrifice.  It is a hard read.
Sometimes I come to the Lord with foolishness.  Thoughts at DTTB.
If you compare Jepthah’s behavior to Ecclesiastes 5:1 you will see that he did not guard his steps or his mouth.

Many times I have come to the Lord with my agenda.  With what I thought I needed to do, or better what He needed to help me accomplish.  I forget in the midst of a busy schedule of spiritual endeavors that this is His deal not mine.  I come to Him demanding and expecting Him to join into and make my plans work out the way I want them to.  That to put it in the vernacular is bassackwards.  Or to put it into Solomon’s more cultured language a foolish sacrifice.

I would be a much better servant to come with my plans in an open hand, or even better coming empty handed and asking for His plan.  That may minimize my foolish sacrifices.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Guard Your Steps

Ecclesiastes is one of those books that can give us some trouble.  We have to get into the mindset of Solomon to really engage.  That being said, being a “wisdom” book there are some passages in there that regardless of our understanding of the book as a whole, there is real benefit in our reading, studying, and applying to our life.
As believers we can call God Abba, does that mean we should just rush into His presence?  Thoughts at DTTB.
5:1 – 7 is one of those passages.  There is a lot here so it may take more than a day or so to explore but the time will be well spent.

To begin with consider 5:1.  Solomon gives good advice here.  When we draw near to God we, as He told Moses, are treading on holy ground.  It is true that we as adopted sons and daughters are allowed to call Him Abba.  But He is God.  It is good not to just rush into His presence.  It is good to come to Him not with our usual laundry list of wants and needs rather to be in His presence to listen, to enjoy the “good part,” Luke 10:42, to sit at His feet and listen.

How?  By spending extended time just soaking in His Word and Praying what you see back to Him.  Most of us are in too big of a rush when we are working through our time in the Bible.  We have important things to do.  Like…  You know stuff that is more important than listening to the Creator of the Universe.

I know that I need to guard my steps and draw near to listen.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Blinding Passion

A few days ago I mentioned Psalm 106:13 – 15.  For a few minutes let’s revisit that passage.
Is what we really want, what God wants?  Thoughts at DTTB.
Have you ever really wanted something, and it could be something really good, really badly?  I mean you were so fixated on pursuing that “something” that everything else sort of grayed out?  The only thing you saw clearly was your goal?

I have.  It is a dangerous place to be.  Especially if that goal, that something is not a something that God wants you to pursue.  I pursued a business for years that consumed nearly all of my resources, I clearly saw where it could go, how great it could be.  Other things were grayed out, more important things.

Before that it was a ministry to which I was deeply committed.  I was giving all I had to it.  That is a good thing is it not?  Not if the “good thing” is more important than God.

God forcibly removed me from both of those situations.  It was grace.  Massive grace.  He could have done what He did with Israel and “sent a wasting disease.”

Our passion, our gifts, are not ours to direct in the way we wish.  We are stewards of those gifts to employ them in the manner, time, place, and choosing of the One who gave them to us.  It is His passion that is important.  We must submit ours to His or risk being blinded to His best for us.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Self Boasting

For me one indication that someone in the Christian arena may be a fraud is self promotion.  I wrote about this about a year ago.  I am not sure why it steams my grits so much, but it does…
As believers about what should we boast?  Thoughts at DTTB.
A couple of days ago I read Isaiah 10:15 – 16.  It reinforces some of my distaste of self promotion.  What is clear to me is that whatever we may accomplish or do for our Lord, is done with the gifts and abilities with which He has bestowed.  Further it is through His work that we have whatever audience we have.  We are His tools, He uses us, ultimately it is not because of our great gifts that we do well or not.  It is because of His work in and through our life.

This theme is throughout the Bible.  It starts way before this passage in Isaiah and continues through the New Testament.  Paul repeats it in 1 Corinthians 4:7.  Jesus, quoted by Luke in Luke 17:9 – 10 echoes the theme.  If we accomplish anything for the Kingdom, we are just doing what we are supposed to be doing and doing it with the gifts and abilities we have been given and through the strength of the Spirit.

Why would we promote ourselves?  It is Christ whom we should be promoting, is it not?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Satisfaction

You may not be old enough to remember when Mick Jagger started his interminable career by musically telling us that he can’t get no… I am.  The song was a fairly good, probably unintentional, summary of Ecclesiastes.  ‘Cept Solomon did get some girl reaction… too much in fact.
As believers where do we get satisfaction?  Thoughts at DTTB.
The last phrase of Psalm 64:4 reorients us to what brings real satisfaction.  The goodness of God’s house.  Reading that the other day brought to mind a couple of other passages that you might want to check out.  Psalm 27:4 and Psalm 84:1 -2, 4, 5, 10.

Look at what David and the sons of Korah say will give them satisfaction.
Mick sings of futility.  David and Korah’s sons sing of fulfillment, deep satisfaction.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Heart of Integrity

Read Psalm 101:2 – 4, more if you like.  Note what David says he will do...
What does it mean to have integrity in your heart?  Thoughts at DTTB.
Walk in his house with integrity – think about that.  Doing that would mean that you do what is right even when no one sees.  Someone said the true measure of character is doing what is right when no one can possibly know.

I will set no worthless thing before my eyes – ouch.  None of us ever do that.  You do not even have to think about porn here, there is more worthlessness per square inch in our culture that we can possibly count.  What was the old phrase GIGO?  Garbage in, garbage out.

I hate the work of those who fall away – this one is a bit more difficult.  We have to know that they have fallen away.  There are myriads of teachers and writers who have fallen in the faith or else teach abhorrent doctrine.  Do we know the Bible well enough to recognize false teaching when we encounter it?  Do we hate it?  Or do we admire the “success” of the false teacher?  Do we let that teaching, their work grip us?

A perverse heart shall depart from me – this could be twofold.  First, we disassociate from those with a perverse heart.  And/or we stand against perversion in our own heart.

There is much here.  The standard is high.  I do not know about you but my prayer is for God to empower me to live like this.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Foundation of Praise

You ever have anxious moments?  I have been that way most of the morning.  I have a major trip starting tomorrow morning and up to this point I have been really calm, but for some reason I have been anxious all morning with the nagging feeling I am forgetting something.  I have been praying Philippians 4:6 – 7 but there was still that anxious prickling…
What is the basis of our praise of God?  Thoughts at DTTB.
Then I read Psalm 103 – it never ceases to amaze me how God’s Word engages with me exactly where and when I need it.  I noticed in the Psalm that the command was to bless the Lord, the command is repeated 6 times in my version.  I did not feel much like blessing anything…  Then verse 19 re-caged my gyros.  19 gives the foundation for our praise, our blessing of God.  He is sovereign over all.  My long layovers, my un-translated materials, whether I will be able to complete what I need to complete in time, all of the meetings next week, whether all of the team arrives in time, He is sovereign over all of that.

The reason I can bless Him, praise Him, rest in Him is that regardless of my effort, He is in control.  Sometimes I forget that and need His gentle reminder.  That is what He did for me this morning in Psalm 103.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Perception

Familiarity with a passage can sometimes cause you to miss other significant truth.  I memorized and use over and over again Psalm 90:12, so when Psalm 90 comes up in my reading, my thoughts are typically pulled to the concepts that emerge from that verse.  Today was different.  It was verse 16 that grabbed me by the throat.
In what ways do we see God differently than our children?  Why is that?  Thoughts at DTTB.

I noticed that the perception of God was different for the parent and the child.  I do not want to make too much of this, but the difference makes sense to me.  Adults have a longer perspective.  As we mature we can see the impact of God in our lives and the lives of others over time.  We see His hand and the result of His work in people and situations.

Our kids do not have that perspective; especially young children.  They see the immediate.  The big.  The awesome.  As Moses put it the majesty.  But they do not stay children, they grow.  Eventually they become parents.  As their perspective changes they begin to see the work of God not only in their lives but in the lives of their children.

It occurs to me that the parent may be the lens through which the child begins to notice the majesty of God.  Which emphasizes the importance of our growth in our apprehension of His work.  This seems to align with the exhortation we get as parents in Deuteronomy 6:6 – 7, 20.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Insufficient

There is much to do.  When I think about all that needs to be done, I am brought nearly to despair.  Focus for a moment on just Matthew 6:33.  We are to seek first God’s Kingdom.  That is before our plans, our jobs, our income.  In fact, in the context Christ tells us not to worry about those things.
Don't know about you but my prayer is insufficient... Thoughts at DTTB.
One aspect of seeking first His Kingdom is to pray.  Ok, for what?  Well for me that means my family, which includes both my wife’s and my parents, our siblings and their families, our kids and their spouses and children.  That is the start, then there is our church, its leaders, literally hundreds of people who we know who are in the ministry working in different works.  Then there are those who have given to support the work that we have done.  On top of that are the people with whom we meet.  The list gets really long there are 60+ men who have invested in my life.  How am I to pray for all of these people?  How am I to keep up with what needs to be prayed for?  It gets to the point that insufficient does not even begin to capture how useless I feel in trying to pray over all of this…

I begin to understand Paul’s admonition to pray without ceasing in 1 Thessalonians 5:17.  So how do I deal with this?  I have made the daily lists, the rotating list for each day – full disclosure – it does not work for me.

What I am having to learn to do is come to God, to worship Him.  To sit at His feet.  Not to bring this bushel basket of names and needs before Him, but to come, sit, and listen.  I wait.  I ask Him what is important to bring to Him that day.  I am beginning to hear more clearly His answers.  He brings people and situations to mind and we engage over those.  More and more He is bringing people and issues to mind during the day, I am learning to pray then, in the moment – so it is not quite without ceasing yet.  It still feels insufficient, weak, but I am growing…

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Demands

Read Psalm 78.  There is no way in this space that we can adequately plumb the depths of what is going on in this Psalm.  I have written briefly about some elements here, here, and here.
When we come before God what is the attitude of our heart?  Thoughts at DTTB.
Focus on 17 – 20 for a minute.  Note how Asaph describes the attitude of the people:
They continued to Sin against Him – then Asaph itemizes how that played out in Israel.  In their heart they put God to the test.  How? By asking according to their desire:
  • Can God prepare…
  • Can He give…
  • Will He provide…
They did not trust.  They demanded.  The result is all over this Psalm and it is succinctly summarized in Psalm 106:13 – 15.

In Romans 15:4 Paul tells us that this was written for our instruction.  It would be very wise to pay attention.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Body

Yesterday I mentioned that I was leaving this weekend to equip some folks who are not Texans to study the Bible.  Typically when these trips occur stuff happens.  I have figured out over the years that the enemy of our Lord does not much like me doing this.  This trip has been no exception.
If we serve we do not serve alone...  Thoughts at DTTB.
This morning we seem to have lost our translator.  The one that was going to translate for me when the non-Texan pastor was speaking.  The individual that agreed to translate the materials has been MIA all weekend.  While we can make it work without the handout, it would be much better with it.

Also I will miss next weeks session of Dads Teach the Bible and need someone to take that session.

Yesterday at church three guys agreed to lead the session next week.

This morning I sent out our weekly prayer update to those who are praying for this ministry.  In a matter of minutes, one of the men who gives and prays for this ministry shot me an email telling me he was sitting next to a person who could translate the file for me.

I have gotten several emails today from people who are praying for the situation.

We are all given gifts, abilities, and resources.  They are not for us.  They are for building up and encouraging one another.  The last two days, I have been on the receiving end.  Next week the men who are going with me and I will be the ones serving, but we are only able to do so because of the focused engagement of the Body.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Gladness

Psalm 100 has been a source of encouragement for my life for nearly all of the time I have known Christ.  Today was yet another example.
How do we adjust our attitude when we do not want to?  Thoughts at DTTB.
I am tired.  It has been a long summer for us.  A lot of change.  A lot of emotional, mental, and spiritual stress.  For the past few months I have been preparing for a weeklong Bible conference in another country, a country where the primary language is not Texan, Alabamian, or Oklahomian, the three languages that I speak rather fluently.  So I have been working to get the Bible verses, the handout, and the PowerPoint presentations both assembled and translated into the language of that area.  I leave next Saturday and it is still not done.  If it is not, it will not be the end of the world.  But the uncertainty is dragging on me.

On top of that we have experienced the joy of our third grandchild’s birth, the marriage of our youngest son, our middle son clearing a major hurdle in his career, and my father battling cancer.

On a weekly basis I meet with several men to look at the Scripture together and work with another man’s ministry to support him in what he is doing.  All of the stuff in the Bible and with thes men are things I really enjoy.  I am honored to be able to work with the people in the Bible conference and looking forward to see what God is going to do there.

But I am tired.  The circumstances of our life in the past eight months as conspired to get me in that state.  So I am looking at this week, last minute stuff for two days on an airplane, thirty six hours of instruction, and 24 hours on a plane back, and the weariness was winning.  Then I read Psalm 100:2, the first phrase, “Serve the Lord with gladness…” and I remembered.  Yeah, I am glad, excited, privileged, and honored to be able to serve Him in this manner.

That is one of the things I appreciate about the Word.  It reminds me and reorients me through the turbulence of life.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Silence

Psalm 65:1 tells us that there will be silence before God.  That seems to me to be an appropriate reaction to being in the presence of God.  Isaiah fell on his face undone Isaiah 6:5, John was barely able to describe what he saw, Revelation 4 and 5.
What will be our reaction when we finally see God?  Thoughts at DTTB.
I have heard a lot of people who wanted to give God a piece of their mind (with which they could ill afford to part).  But if the Scripture is any where close to right they will be struck dumb by His majesty.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Pete and Repeat

In Psalm 119:162 David’s attitude toward the Word is rejoicing as one who found great spoil.  Look at Proverbs 2.  Solomon, David’s son, had a similar view of God’s Word (I am equating wisdom here with God’s Word – it is not exactly the same but wisdom comes from rightly applying God’s Word).  The interesting thing for me is that the son, Solomon, has a similar view of the Word as his father, David.

What will your kid pick up from you?  Thoughts at DTTB.
Wonder where Solomon got that?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Dealing with the Uncertain

Today, at about the time this is published, I will be parking my dad’s car in garage 10 at MD Anderson.  At about 9 AM, give or take, dad will have his third PET scan to see how he responded to this last round of chemotherapy.  We are hopeful that his cancer will be at least in remission, and praying that it will be cured.
How do we deal with the tension of uncertainty?  Thoughts at DTTB.
We will wait three hours to meet with the doctor to find out.

Those of you who have been through this yourself or with loved ones know that there is a level of dissonance ever present in your day as you walk through or with this situation.

We read in Psalm 139:3 – 6, 16, that our sovereign, loving God has ordained our days.  That includes the hard stuff.  There is a purpose.  We do not allways know what that purpose may be, but there is a purpose nonetheless.  The alternative is that these things are random tragedies that our God could have prevented but did not.  Complacent and detached do not seem to be attributes of God that can be validated by any level of study of His Word.

So how are we to respond?  It seems to me that we are to trust in Him who says He is intimately engaged in our lives in order to conform us to the image of His son.  We may not like or understand the means, but we are asked to trust.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Response to Overwhelming Depth

This week in the Dads Teach the Bible Workshop we reviewed the tool Verse Analysis Study (by the way I offered this a while back in this blog).  The assignment was to study 2 Peter 3:14 – 16.  The men in the workshop have not ever done anything like this in the Word.  Their responses were instructive.
How do we respond to the depth of the Word?  Thoughts at DTTB.
One of the guys was overwhelmed with the idea that he could get so much out of one sentence in the Bible.  I get it.  I had the same response.

One of the other guys said that he really did not see the point of doing all of this until he got to step 5 of the 8 steps, then he was, like the first guy blown away but the depth of what he was seeing.

Both of these men said that they had no idea that they could go that deep and be rewarded with what they saw in one verse.  Again, I have the identical response.

So when we are faced with overwhelming depth or an incredibly steep learning curve, how do we respond?  It seems there are at least two responses.  First, we throw up our hands in despair and say we can never get to the bottom of this and give up.

Or we throw up our hands in awe and exclaim in wonder we can never get to the bottom of this and we spend the rest of our lives drinking from those depths.

Which?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Prompting

Does it ever happen to you that someone or some issue will randomly come to mind?  My growing conviction is that is not random.  If you are in the Word of God regularly that will sensitize you to the voice of the Spirit of God (for a really good read on this outside of the Bible I would highly recommend Dallas Willard’s work, “Hearing God.”)
Do you ever feel like God is telling you to act?  Thoughts at DTTB.
More regularly I am beginning to act on those “random” thoughts.  Whether it be to shoot someone an email, pick up the phone and call, or drop a card in the mail.  Sometimes it just means I need to pray for them.  Many times this has resulted in a really good conversation or time in prayer.

Listen.  Then act.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Impossible

One more thought from Psalm 15.  Note how the one who can abide in God’s tent is described:
To live up to what God demands - impossible.  Thoughts at DTTB.
He Does He Does Not
Walk with integrity Slander
Works Righteousness Do evil to his neighbor
Speaks truth in heart Take up a reproach
Despise reprobates
Honor those whe fear the Lord
Swear to his own hurt Change

Put money out at interest

Take a bribe against the innocent

Bottom line, this is impossible to live up to, at least it is for me.  It drives me to my knees in gratitude for the grace that God has demonstrated toward me in His Son.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Speaking Truth

My time in the Word went through Psalm 15 again this morning.  I was struck by a lot of things in that Psalm but look closely at the second half of verse 2, “He speaks truth in his heart.”  Think about that…
Speaking truth is good but not sufficient.  Thoughts at DTTB.
The implication is that it is possible to speak truth and it is not in your heart.  That would mean that it is not a part of your life, your thinking, your character.  I have known people like this.  They know the Bible.  They may even teach.  But their lives are not impacted by the Word.  They are acclaimed and honored as good Christians but they have not applied what they are teaching to their lives.  In Romans 2:3 Paul addresses this type of behavior.  He, rather,  he states that God condemns it.

Prof Hendricks said that we are never to traffic in unpracticed truth.  James tells us that we are to be doers of the Word.

Speaking truth is not enough.  It has to come from the heart.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Blessed

Reading through Psalm 84 this evening I noticed that there was a phrase repeated three times.  Repetition gets my attention.  In the Scripture it can be an indication of emphasis.  Three times the Psalmist says, “How blessed…”  What follows is instructive:

  • Verse 4, “…are those who dwell in Thy house!”
  • Verse 5, “…is the man whose strength is in Thee;”
  • Verse 12, “…is the man who trusts in Thee!”
 What does it mean to be blessed?  Thoughts at DTTB.
I find the order interesting.  He who dwells ends up with strength resulting in trust.  Not all of that may be causal but I sense that there may be some elements of cause there, it begs for more digging.  I do know that Isaiah 40:31 suggests that those who wait gain strength.  It would be instructive to looks at how the language in that verse aligns with this.


The question that I cannot answer yet is, “Does the receipt of strength from the Lord result in our trusting of Him?”  I am not comfortable with that yet.  But it raises some interesting questions.

What do you think?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Perspective

Today I finished the initial prep for the workshop I am leading overseas later this month.  Initial in that I have got all the pieces put together and all of the Bible verses in the right language.  The rest of it still needs to be translated.  I had a friend who speaks the language come over to help me today but what I needed was beyond his ability.  He is looking for another to help.
Climbing mountains there is much that is out of one's control.  Thoughts at DTTB.
There is still a lot that needs to be done.  There are a lot of moving parts that have to align in order to have things go the way that I want them to go.  But I am learning that what I want to happen may not be what the Lord wants.  So I am learning to be content with all of these loose ends.  That is probably a good thing there is a great deal, like all of it, that is out of my control.  The materials may not be translated in time or properly.  Same with the 14 PowerPoint presentations.  The planes may be late, I might not figure the trains out, getting back will be fun with a 4 AM flight.  There is just a lot going on.

But I am at peace knowing that I am obeying what the Lord wants me to do.  I rest in the fact that He has promised that His word will not return empty.  If we have to do everything orally on a white board or flip charts, His Word will be honored.  That will be OK.

So there are still Mountains to climb.  But I am content with my guide and climbing partner.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Ain't No Mountain High Enough

The Mountain
You may be aware that I do workshops from time to time that equip folks to do more effective personal Bible study.  I am in the midst of one now at my church, I am leaving in a few weeks to conduct a week long workshop in another country, and there is another one scheduled in yet another country sometime this fall.
In the midst of a hard climb do you question the start?  Thoughts at DTTB.
The Climb
For the past several weeks I have been preparing the materials I need for the week.  I sent the file for the handout to the translator yesterday.  Today I have been working on the PowerPoint presentations.  Much of that work has been changing the scripture in the slides I normally use from English to a language I do not speak or read.

Doubt
More than once in the past few days as I look at handouts and slides that are increasingly undecipherable I have questioned my sanity.  Can this really work?  Can I stand before a group of people of whom the majority do not think or speak in any semblance of the same way I do and effectively lead them through this process?  The prep is tedious.  It is difficult to separate the voice that is the Lord’s from that of the accuser.

Belay
The anchor in this for me has been the knowledge that one of my friends took this material to two other countries and 600 pastors were turned on to digging into the Word for themselves.  That and the certain promise in Isaiah 55:8 – 11, His Word will not return empty.

I feel better now.  Thanks for letting me vent…  Pray if the Lord brings this to mind…