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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Football Player or Activist

Lamentations 3:24 was in my reading project this morning.  I was stunned by the first phrase of the verse (hold on I will get to the title in a moment).  Jeremiah, whose life was constantly challenged, threatened, contradicted, and ignored, said his portion was the Lord.  Not his reputation, not his role as a prophet, not his wealth, not people believing what he said, and not even his life.  His portion was the Lord.
Football Player or Activist
He put the Lord ahead of all else in his life.  He valued the Lord more than anything else.  This attitude was and Old Testament embodiment of Matthew 6:33.

How does that tie into the picture?

A day or so ago I was listening to Rush Limbaugh driving between appointments.  He was comparing Kaepernick and Tebow (scroll down to the picture of Tebow and read that paragraph if you do not want to read the whole thing).  He acknowledged that they were opposites in their motivation.  Rush pointed out that both of their choices had consequences.  They are free to make the choice, but the choice they make has implications.  His evaluation was that no NFL team would want either of them because of the circus, the chaos that they created by their actions.  He quoted Football hall of famer, Jim Brown, as saying about Kaepernick, “He needs to decide if he is going to be a football player or an activist.”

The quote stuck.  I thought about Tebow’s stand, Rush called him “a born-again proselytizing Christian,” which is an apt description.  Thinking through this I was struck by the parallel to our lives as believers in a world that is hostile to Christianity.

We have a choice as well, are we going to be Christian or join the team, the world.  Is the Lord our portion, our life or are we compromising our walk with God to fit into this world.

Is my portion my family, my wealth (or pursuit thereof), my job, my reputation, my ministry, the regard with which others hold me, or is my portion, as with Jeremiah, the Lord.

My immediate response was, “Well I have to live here!  We have to eat, pay bills, educate our children…”  Matthew 6:33 is the culmination, the last verse of Matthew 6:25 – 33.  Jesus tells us that we are not to worry about those questions.  We are to trust Him and seek His Kingdom first.

On a minute by minute basis, the world fights against this.  It never tires of working to squeeze us into its mold.

Both Jesus and Paul (Romans 12:1 – 2) tell us to resist.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Know any Liars

Take a look at these passages:
  • 1 John 1:10
  • 1 John 2:4
  • 1 John 2:22
  • 1 John 4:20
  • 1 John 5:10

Know any Liars

What is repeated?  Right, “liar”.
John tells us that a liar is one who:
  • Says he has come to know Christ but doesn’t keep Christ’s commandments.
  • Denies Jesus is the Christ
  • Says, “I love God!”  Yet hates his brother.
  • Does not believe God (the passage says that we make God a liar, which is, a lie).
  • Says he has not sinned.
That is a large, fine meshed net.  At one time or other, I have said or thought at least one of those.  My suspicion is that I am not alone in that reality.

The good news is that God is in the business and habit of redeeming liars.  All I have to do to wipe the slate clean is ask (1 John 1:9).

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Starting Prayer, a Model to Follow

The Bible not only gives us knowledge of God, who He is, a glimpse into His eternal character, it also models for us how we can both live in relationship to Him and each other.
Starting Prayer, a Model to Follow
The Psalms of David, give us examples of prayer when we are in desperate situations.  Jesus and Paul model how to engage in the process of walking in obedience and building into the lives of others.

Some time back I found yet another example.  Look at 2 Chronicles 6:40.  Consider the requests that Solomon makes:

  • Let your eyes be open
  • Let your ears be attentive

Solomon approached God asking Him to engage, to listen, to see.  We know from Scripture that we cannot give God information.  He knows, He hears, He sees.  Solomon, asking this, acknowledges both the Lord’s authority and Solomon’s dependence and submission to Him.

Seems like a good way to start our own prayer.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Certainty of Forgiveness

Take a look at 2 Chronicles 6:36 – 39, note the requirements for forgiveness.
Certainty of Forgiveness
Now look at 1 John 1:8 – 10.  What is similar?  What is different?

The contrast is stark.  Under the law there are more requirements.  Under grace we acknowledge our sin and are forgiven.


The Law demands a sacrifice for sin.  Christ paid that sacrifice.  Once for all.  Earlier this week I was talking to one of my friends and he shared his amazement with the atonement.  On the cross and in the tomb Christ suffered hell for all of us.  Think of that, he suffered as all of the people that have been born such that they will not have to spend eternity in hell.  Billions of eternities of suffering in three days.

Thus, we can acknowledge our sin and He can righteously forgive.

Last week one of my Uber drivers was Muslim.  We got into a long conversation about forgiveness.  He shared that he had to pray over and over and over and over etc., and hope that god would hear.  He will not know until he dies whether he has been forgiven or not.

I shared with him the completed work of Christ for his forgiveness, which he summarily rejected.  Perhaps the seeds will sprout.

The grace given to us, bought with a horrendously high price by Christ, gives us the unimaginable access to our Lord personally and a certainty of forgiveness before him that no religious system offers.

Be thankful.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Discarding the Aged

There are Christian organizations of which I am aware, that have jettisoned their older staff to make room for younger staff to move into leadership.  As a consultant in business I have seen businesses run into the ground by the sons and daughters of the founders.  There are exceptions, certainly.  One local company had each of the children of the founders paired with an older mentor as they took the reins.  That business is thriving in a very competitive environment.
Discarding the Aged
One of the men I admire, called last week.  He is approaching 80.  He shared with me his wonder and excitement that he is now learning more about the Lord both in quantity and quality than he has in his life.

I am experiencing similar richness.

I think it is for both of us a result of many years in the Word seasoned by multiple attendant struggles.  When we read or study a passage, we are seeing and experiencing the Lord through the lens of years and years of extended time in the Word through a lifetime of struggle.

At some point, all of us must step aside to allow those with more physical energy to assume their place in leadership.  In doing so we need to ensure that those who are stepping in have been under the influence and equipped by one who has walked the same path they will walk.  Those who are stepping in would be well advised to hang on tightly to those who went before, to honor and continue to seek their wisdom honed by experience.  One cannot be 60 when one is 30.

Isn’t this the pattern of Scripture?  Isn’t that what Paul exhorted Timothy to do in 2 Timothy 2:2?

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Brokenness Obvious or Hidden

I was at MD Anderson Cancer center earlier this week.  I had some tests and a visit with my doctor, plus I got to see some people that I wanted to see but was sure I would not be able to visit.
Brokenness Obvious or Hidden
On the second floor of the main building (the picture is the main building one of several that make up the complex) there is a large atrium named “the Park.”  It is in an L shape.  It has ceilings at least three stories high with large translucent skylights.  There are large planters throughout with trees, flowers, and shrubs.  There is a “cafĂ©” where one can purchase coffee, soft drinks, smoothies, and a hot or cold meal.  Tables and chairs are everywhere.

Tuesday afternoon I went over to get a smoothie for lunch.  I was going to spend some time in the Word and do some other work.  I was waiting for my mango kale vegan smoothie; a boy about 12 walked by, his left arm was gone.  In line to get their lunch or something to drink were one or two people pulling their IV trees with several bags hanging.  Off to my right there were several people some walking some sitting at tables with their care givers, with several bags hanging.  One man was in a hospital gown laying on his crossed arms at his table, IV tree behind him, obviously not feeling well.

Monday afternoon while I was waiting for my turn in the CT scanner, a woman came in with her care giver, she was in obvious distress.  She was moaning, holding her head, could barely get from her wheelchair to a chair.  She was obviously nauseated.  A close member of my family is still a patient there.  They have been going through what this lady has been experiencing for the past 10 months.  My father passed away at MDA in January after a 4-year battle with cancer.

So being there is a reminder…

Sitting in the park, drinking my smoothie, every direction, nearly everyone in sight was in obvious brokenness.  It was all around.  Inescapable.  As I pondered this it occurred to me that it is the same at church.  The difference is, at church it is dressed up, covered up.  Instead of moaning and IV trees; smiles, coffee, and everyone is “fine”.

I shared this with a friend Thursday.  He observed that the people that go to MDA are going for a cure, while those who go to church are going for a shot.  Most who make the trek to Houston – and they come, literally, from all over the world – are coming committed to do whatever the doctors say.  I am not sure that – yeah, I am sure, that not all that come to the church are committed at the same level.

I am still processing this.  I do not have solid answers, not even sure that I have the right questions.  However, the seed thought is that we are doing something wrong about the brokenness in our communities.  We are not good at acknowledging the reality of the cancer of sin and the brokenness it creates in our communities.  Canned programs and mass-produced curriculum doesn’t seem to be making that much of a difference.

Where is the passion to cure and to want a cure?  Why aren’t people flocking to the Church from around the world in desperation?  Why don’t they know that the answer, the cure is in Him?

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Building the House – Summary

The last nine posts have considered 1 Chronicles 29:1 – 2.  The point was comparison of David’s passion to build a house for the Lord and our assignment to be involved in building the Kingdom of God through making disciples.
Building the House – Summary

Here are some of the questions that pondering this comparison raises for me:
  • There is nothing that I can accomplish apart from abiding in Him.  Am I engaged in anything that I am depending on me rather than Him?

  • Jesus said that I am to seek His Kingdom first.  What have I placed before Him and His assignment for me in my priorities?

  • God gave me gifts for the benefit of the Body.  However, I need others in the body to build me up in my gifts.  Where have I isolated or cut myself off physically, emotionally, or spiritually from those in the Body who are there to help me grow deeper in the knowledge of Christ?

  • The assignment I have been given, to make disciples, is difficult.  However, there are clear models in the Scripture for me to follow.  How well do I understand and follow those models?

  • The assignment I have been given is not so that I am recognized or exalted, but so that the Lord is shown as the glorious strong Lord that He is.  Where have I wanted to, or taken credit, or sought credit rather than pointing those who would praise me to the Lord?

  • The Lord equipped me to serve Him.  Where have I been tempted to use those gifts for my benefit or my glory?

  • David was all in, in his commitment to the Lord.  Where have I reserved portions of my life for me rather than completely surrendering to the Lord?

  • David provided for work that he would not see finished in his lifetime with all of his ability.  Where am I holding back?  Where am I looking to provide for me rather than trusting the Lord’s provision?
Those are some of the questions that goad me as I work through this passage.  I am not particularly fond of any of them.  In fact, I don’t much like it when I am challenged in that way.  However, I am reminded that the Bible was not given to us to coddle us but rather to move us toward our Father.

That requires dealing honestly with difficult questions.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Building the House – Providing for the House

The last phrase in 1 Chronicles 29:1 – 2 we will consider here is David’s summary before he lists the materials he stored up for the temple.  We saw yesterday that he engaged in this with all of his ability, he was all in.  He did not hold back.
Building the House – Providing for the House
It was in providing material for the building of the temple that he did not hold back.  It was his focus.  The first thing on his do list.  The highest priority.

As we have said, David was prevented from building the house.  But He still pursued provisioning the construction with all that he had.

Unlike David, we are called to build God’s church, we are not prevented.  We are commanded to do so.  We are to provide material for that construction.  What could that be?

The material for the temple included gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, onyx, antimony, precious stones and alabaster.  The material for the Church is people.

The first provision we have to make is us.  We have to give ourselves to Him and to His work, His Church.

Following that we are to proclaim the good news of the gospel to our sphere of influence.  It is through that proclamation that others are invited to engage and become members, material, in and for the Church.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Building the House – All In

David wanted to build a house for the Lord.  The Lord told him no and assigned the project to David’s son Solomon.  But David was still completely invested in his conviction that the Lord deserved a magnificent house.
Building the House – All In
We have examined David’s attitude toward the work.  David was not content, though, to completely release his desire to honor his Lord.  He provided the materials for the temple.  He stated in 1 Chronicles 29:2, that he did so with all of his ability.

He was all in.

This wasn’t a project that he was doing on the side.  In his words, he invested all that he had in preparing for a project the Lord not only forbid him to start but he would never see completed.

Think of it.

We have been given a similar charge.  We have been commanded to put Christ’s kingdom as the number one priority of our lives.  We have been commanded to make disciples.  We have been commanded to be diligent in our engagement with our communities of faith.  Unlike David, we have not been forbidden to start, just the opposite.  Like David, we will not see the work complete.

Still we are to be all in.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Building the House – For the Lord God

Yesterday we saw that David stated that the work of building the temple that was assigned by God to his son Solomon was not for man, not for Solomon.  The second part of David’s statement is that the assignment is for the Lord God.  The point of these posts, is that David’s statements about Solomon’s assignment are true of the assignments each of us are given by the Lord.
Building the House – For the Lord God
Paul reinforces David’s thoughts in Colossians 3:17, 23 – 24.  You probably have those verses memorized.

Our purpose, our gifting, our opportunities to serve and to worship are not for us, not for men.  Rather, the purpose, the reason, is for the Lord.

How does that impact all that we do and expect from the Lord?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Building the House – Not for Us

Continuing the journey through 1 Chronicles 29:1 – 2, David gives the reason Solomon needs help and the work is so great.  The reason is twofold.
Building the House – Not for Us
The first part of the reason is that the temple, and by extension the Church, is not for man…we’ll pick up the second half of the reason tomorrow.

What we do in the Church, in the Kingdom of God is not about us.  We tend to forget this, well, I do.  It seems like there may be others who do as well.  There seems to be those who expect that being an apprentice of Christ will be of great material benefit for them; or they believe that it will give them great recognition.

There are those who then will promote themselves to the Body at large.  1 Peter 5:5 – 7 seems to suggest that self-promotion may not be a wise choice.  1 Timothy 6:3 – 10 also warns against this.

This is not about us.  This work we do, the gifts we are given, the opportunities we are given to serve are not for us, not for man.  Just like the assignment to build the temple was not about Solomon, not for man.

It is important to remember that.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Building the House – The Work is Great

The work in which his son Solomon was given to do, for which David said, in what we looked at yesterday, Solomon was in need of help, was a great work.
Building the House – The Work is Great
The temple was the center of worship for Israel.  It was the center of their relationship with the Lord.

We have been tasked with a great work.  We are to make disciples.  We are to seek His kingdom first.  We are to build His Church.  Not buildings.  Not organizations.  People.  We are to invest our lives in building up people in the Lord.

We have models.

We can look at the gospels and see how Christ built people up in the Lord.  We can read Acts and see how four generations of believers were built.  We can read the epistles and see how John, Paul, and Peter continued to work to encourage and build up believers.

That great work has been passed to us.  As David provided the materials for Solomon, so we have been provided the materials by the Son of David.

It is a great work.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Building the House – We Need a Lot of Help

Continuing the trek through 1 Chronicles 29:1 – 2, David observes that Solomon is needy.
Building the House – We Need a Lot of Help
Pretty much describes us.  Even with the gifts we are given, John 15:5 is absolutely still true.

Being chosen by God does not in itself equip.  There has to be experience and time involved in preparation.  David knew this from experience.  He was anointed king in 1 Samuel 16.  David did not take the throne of Israel until 2 Samuel 5.  During much of that time he was fighting for his life.

Knowing what he knows, David petitions the Lord for the people and for his son Solomon.  That the people, of which Solomon is a part, will have their heart directed to Him.  For Solomon specifically, David prays for a heart perfect in obedience.

There are examples in for us in the New Testament as well.  In Acts 18:24 – 28, we read of Apollos, gifted, accurately teaching what he knew.  He just needed more guidance.  Pricilla and Aquila, pulled him aside and gave him direction.

Paul wrote 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus to encourage and strengthen the hand of two of the best me he trained.

We are the living stones, we have been gifted, we have been assigned to build His Church, but we cannot do it alone.  We cannot, do it without the input of those who have and are going before us.

There is much more that can be said, but rather than writing it here you may want to take a look at the “one another” passages in the New Testament.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Building the House – Our Assignment

We are still looking at our role as members of Christ’s Body, especially as it pertains to building His Church.  We are looking through the lens of 1 Chronicles 29:1 – 2.  The next thing David says about Solomon, is that he is chosen by God to build the temple.
Building the House – Our Assignment
That is the case with us as well.  We are chosen by God to build the Church.  Look at these passages:

  • Matthew 28:18 – 20
  • Romans 8:28 – 30
  • 1 Peter 2:4 – 5

It is not only our commission, we are called, and we are part of the building material.

Ephesians 4:11 – 16, reminds us that we are also gifted for this assignment.  Spiritual gifts are given not for our benefit but to build up the Body of Christ.

If we have an assignment from God, which based on these passages seems to be the case, then that should take priority over everything else in our lives should it not?  As a matter of fact isn’t that what Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:33.

I don’t know about you, but I need constant reminding of this.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Building the House – It is His House

The preamble to this journey was Psalm 127:1.  I am not into allegorical interpretation.  It seems that this Psalm has bearing on the building of the Church, the house of God.
Building the House – It is His House
There has been a lot written about church growth.  I worked for a time with one of the authors of three of those books.  We talked through the issues for many hours sometimes late into the night.

My wife and I have been in churches that are struggling and those that are thriving.  We have and are currently involved in efforts to create an infrastructure and a means to intentionally build leadership in churches both in our community, in the US, and in other countries.

One of the major lessons I am learning – I obviously haven’t learned it yet, because I keep having to be reminded – regardless of the size of the fellowship, if the Lord is not engaged in the “building” nothing is going to happen.

That is not, or should not be a shock to us.  After all Jesus told us in John 15:5 that we can do nothing apart from Him.  That probably applies to building His Church.

So in all of the previous and following posts on this subject, the baseline, the absolute necessity, whether we are considering building up our children in Christ, meeting one on one with another person, starting a small group, or starting a church dependence on, abiding in, prayer and petition to the Father through the Son is the starting point.

After all, this is His house, His story.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Building the House

Ever experienced getting launched into a topic or a line of thinking by reading one verse in the Bible?  That happened with Psalm 127:1 a few months back.  You know the passage, probably have it memorized.
Building the House
When I read it this time the building of the first temple came to mind.  I went to 1 Chronicles 29:1 – 2.  That is where David is explaining to the nation the assignment his son Solomon has from God to build the temple.

This is going to take more than one post to unwrap.  Here is what we will cover:
  • The relationship between these passages and the Church today
  • The people as the building blocks
  • The work is great
  • The work is not for man
  • The work is for the Lord God
  • The work is done with all our ability
  • We provide for the house of the Lord
  • Final thoughts

Look at the passages and think through what David says.  Let’s compare notes.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Dealing with Unfortunate Divisions

The chapter and verse divisions in our Bibles are necessary to both more effectively navigate the text and communicate with one another.  However, many times, they break up the train of thought, the logic of the passage.  1 Peter 1:22 – 2:3 is a good example of this.
Dealing with Unfortunate Divisions
Many of us have memorized 1 Peter 2:2.  It is a key passage on the importance of the word of God for growth in our Christian life.  However, first, it is the middle clause of one of Peter’s sentences.  Second, the first clause of the sentence begins with, “therefore”.

We all know that we do when we see a “therefore,” we look to see what it is there for.

The previous sentence, 1 Peter 1:24 – 25 begins with “for” which suggests it supports the previous sentence, 1 Peter 1:22 – 23.  That sentence begins with “since” which functions similarly to “for” but also sets up a cause and effect, since ________, therefore __________.

Look at the content of 1 Peter 1:24 – 25.  Notice – well there is a lot in there, but note the last phrase of verse 23, “through the living and enduring word of God”.  “Through,” is another one of those signpost words that indicates how something is done, the means to an end.  In this case, our being born again, purified.

Now back to 1 Peter 2:1 – 3.  Notice the last phrase of verse 2, “so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.”  “By,” functions as “through,” it describes the means to an end; in this case, growth in our salvation.

There is a strong connection between 1 Peter 1:22 – 25 and 1 Peter 2:1 – 3.  The function of the Word of God is in focus.  First, in bringing us to faith.  Second, causing us to grow in that faith.

We must remember as we read and study to look past the chapter and verse divisions.  If we do not, we can miss some crucial truth.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Distorted Cost

I am currently reading Being Logical: A Guide to Good Thinking, by D. Q. McInerny.  Against that background I was reviewing my journal, remembering my reaction to 1 Chronicles 21:24 (if you haven’t memorized that passage you should).
Distorted Cost
There was a significant confluence between what I was reading in Being Logical and what I see in 1 Chronicles 21:24.

The context of 1 Chronicles 21:24 is David desiring to thank the Lord for stopping the plague that was the result of David’s sin which the Lord used to discipline Israel – there is a lot more that can be said about that, but it lies beyond the scope of this post.

The plague was stopped at the threshing floor of a Jebusite by the name of Oran.  David wanted to buy the site, build an alter there, and offer a sacrifice of praise to the Lord.  Oran offered to donate the threshing floor.  David refused the offering.

The key words that David spoke were, “…I will not take what is yours for the Lord, or offer a burnt offering which costs me nothing” (emphasis added).

There is a whole book to be written about David’s words, attitude, and heart based on that sentence.  There is much that we can learn about how as disciples of Christ we should live.  It is fair to do so.  David is held up as an example for us in the New Testament.

The section in Being Logical, stresses the need to avoid the use of evasive or euphemistic language.  Using terms that mean something else or else have not been defined well or else have been stripped of their meaning.  It was these words from the book that got my attention:

First, and obviously, it can deceive an audience. Second, and more subtly, it can have a deleterious effect on the people who use it, distorting their sense of reality. The user shapes language, but language shapes the user as well. If we consistently use language that serves to distort reality, we can eventually come to believe our own twisted rhetoric. Such is the power of language.

In our communities, we use the term “disciple” very loosely.  We speak of disciple making, without defining what that would look like in practice.  We come up with clever logos and phrases to assert and proclaim our commitment to this “disciple making”.  However, it is difficult to find out what it means to be a disciple in many of those communities.

The assumption becomes, “If I come to this community, I must be a disciple.”  So the word “disciple” has been stripped of its meaning, its New Testament context, in 1 Chronicles 21:24 terms, its cost.

Discipleship has a cost.

There are more passages than I am willing to cover in this post (search the blog for the word “disciple” for a taste), but look at Luke 14:26 – 35, as a starting point.  Christ says some hard things there.

If we continually use disciple loosely, it will have what McInerny calls a deleterious effect on the people in the community, distorting their reality.  It is one thing to distort the reality of some portion of our temporal, worldly existence.

It is of dire consequence to distort the reality of that which has bearing on the eternal.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Ashamed of Christ?

Pretty sure that I have mentioned before that repetition in the Word is one of the means of emphasis.  In Hebrew parallels are used for emphasis; sometimes to emphasize a comparison or a contrast.  The human authors of the New Testament had Jewish backgrounds.  Many times, the elements of both repletion and parallelism appeared in their work.
Ashamed of Christ?

Look at Luke 9:26, notice what is repeated.  In the NASB, ashamed and glory.  Note what is the object of shame for each use.  In the first clause, the object of shame is Christ and His words.  In the second clause, the object of shame is the one who held Christ and His words in shame.

That raises some questions.  What does it mean to hold Christ in shame; to hold His words in shame.  It would seem that if I were to ignore, discount, trivialize, or disobey Christ’s words, that would be tantamount to being ashamed of His word.  If I am ashamed of His word, doesn’t it follow that I am ashamed of Him?

Have you ever withdrawn from someone because of something he or she said?  Have you ever ignored someone because you did not view them as important or what they said as weighty?  Isn’t that what Christ is describing here?

Now consider Matthew 6:33.  Christ commands that we seek His kingdom first.  If we do not do so, is that being ashamed of His word?

If that is the case is not the effect what Christ describes here?

Sunday, August 6, 2017

A 33% Effort

Read Jonah 3:3 – 4.
Note that Nineveh, Jonah’s assignment was a large city requiring three days to walk across.  Also, that Jonah’s “message of salvation” to the people of this great city consisted of eight words.  Lastly, Jonah only walked 1/3 of the way into the city.

We do not have all the data.  We do not know if Jonah said those eight words more than once or if he repeated them as he trudged along 1/3 of the way into Nineveh.  Neither do we know if he went out of the city the same way or went out another gate.

However, based on Jonah’s attitude in the first couple of chapters, it seems to me that it is possible that Jonah walked into the city 1/3 of the way, said his eight words, and turned around and walked out.

Minimal effort.

Maximum effect.


This seems to highlight the power of God to deal with an issue regardless of the commitment or passion of the instrument of His grace.

God does not need eloquence.  He does not need overwhelming effort.  He does not need a full commitment or passion.  He can use our halting, 1/3 hearted, stumbling, and minimalist effort to create a revival and change the hearts of a city.

This is not about our effort.  It is about His power to change the hearts of people.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Problem Solving 101

Problems are a fact of life.  Either in our personal life, our business, or our communities of faith.  In 1 Chronicles 19:8, 10, 13, the writer outlines how David dealt with a significant problem.  David’s approach seems to set for us a good example of how to deal with difficult problems.
Problem Solving 101

There seem to be three steps to David’s plan.
  1. David sent his best people to deal with the issue – he sent his best general, Joab, and his mighty men.

  2. David did not micro manage the problem – he let his best people deal with the issue based on their experience and gifts.  They dealt with the problem by:
    1. Subdividing the issue into manageable or rational parcels.
    2. Assigning the best people to deal with that subset.

  3. All, David, Joab, and the mighty men were strong and courageous in dealing with the challenge.
    1. They were not focused on getting glory for themselves.
    2. They were focused on:
      1. Getting glory for the Lord
      2. Protecting the People
This seems like an approach that will work for many of the problems we face in our personal, business, and communities of faith.

Friday, August 4, 2017

On a Mission from God?

If you have seen the Blues Brothers, you know that Jake and Elwood tell people they are on a mission from God (the movie is crude, the music is great); if one were an objective observer, one would probably come to the conclusion that they were perhaps mistaken.
On a Mission from God?
1 Chronicles 17:6, David and Nathan made a similar error as Jake and Elwood.  David feels like he should build a house for the Lord.  Nathan thinks that is a great idea.  One the way home from David’s, Nathan hears from God, “Not so fast!” (it’s in the original).

1 Samuel 13:14 refers to David as a man after God’s heart.  Here, he was wanting to do something for the Lord which the Lord did not want him to do.  Nathan, is the one that confronts David about Bathsheba; he gets it wrong as well.

That made me wonder.  How many times have I engaged in something I thought that the Lord wanted me to do and yet He was not that interested in my doing that for Him?  I suspect that I have.

Two things emerge from thinking through this.  First, the need to seek Him and His heart fervently before I act for Him.  Second, I may, and probably will, like David, get it wrong at times.  The amazing and wonderful thing?  God’s lavish grace covers my errors, just as it did David’s.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Finding the best teacher...

This morning Judges 17:13 was on my reading project.  A couple of days ago someone posted a video on facebook of Francis Chan that I found fascinating (note while the heading mentions Jehovah’s Witnesses, that is not what I found interesting, the core of what Chan is saying starts with about 2:30 left in the video.  I highly recommended checking out that last 2:30).  The passage and the video reinforced each other.
Finding the best teacher
Reading through Judges 17:13 it seemed as if I was reading a commentary on what is wrong with many of our fellowships today.  Micah was thrilled that he had a real Levite priest.  He knew that the Lord would prosper him.  Never mind that he had built an altar to an idol he had created out of silver he had stolen from his mother.

How many of our fellowships are excited that they have a great pastor?  We have search committees to find someone who can really deliver.  Or we look for the best books, the best speakers – like Chan, Maxwell, Keller, Piper,etc…

But it isn’t about having the best preacher, the best teacher, the best author…  Their relationship with Christ, their study of the Word, their personal knowledge of Him, does not substitute for our relationship, our study, our personal knowledge of Him.

Jeremiah is also in my reading project this month.  In Jeremiah 31 we begin to be told about the new covenant.  You may know Jeremiah 31:33.  But look at Jeremiah 31:34.  Part of the new covenant is that we are not dependent on teachers to know the Lord.  It is His idea that we are personally engaged with Him.  He expects us to engage with Him in and through His Word.

Teachers, those who proclaim the truth of the Word, and great authors are valuable to us only if what they say supplements and drives us to dig deeper into the Word to validate what they have said.

To revel in having the best teacher like Micah reveled in having a Levite, an official priest, is a bit like ignoring the new covenant and returning to the old.

Not a plan that seems to align with the completed work of Christ.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Drifting Focus

Hebrews 13:13 – 14 got my attention a while back.  I tend to lose sight of the reality that what we have here, our homes, our cities, our countries are not eternal.  All of those are transient.  They will not last.  All one must do to validate that truth is travel to some “ancient” places in the world.  One will be there confronted with the ruins of those homes, cities, and in fact countries and empires that are no longer among us.
Drifting Focus
I forget that.

Matthew 5:6, 6:33, and Philippians 3:20 serve as a clear reminder of what our focus is supposed to be other than our current possessions and where those possessions reside.

Shortly after I trusted Christ this was made clear to me.  I was in Undergraduate Pilot Training in the Air Force.  I desperately wanted to fly RF-4 aircraft.  After trusting Christ, I became aware that the planes would, and in some cases literally, burn.  However, the people in those planes would exist eternally, either in the presence of the Lord or eternally apart from Him.

The Lord through time in His Word and the result of fellowship with others who were pursuing Him, changed my focus from the planes to the people, from the temporary to the eternal.

I find that there is a strong tendency for my focus to drift back to that which is temporary.  Based on what I seen in Paul’s epistles, that tendency is not limited to my experience.

If my experience as a new believer is instructive; then what we all need is to continue to abide in His Word and engage with a fellowship of people who are pursuing the eternal.

I need that.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

United in Battle

Earlier this year I was reading through 1 Chronicles 12:23 – 40, it was part of the reading plan I use for my devotional.  One of the things I have notices over the years, as my skill in Bible study increases; specifically, as I work at making more and better observations in Bible study, that “skill” spills over into all that I do in the Word, including my reading during my devotional times with the Lord.
United in Battle
One of the keys in observation is noticing repetition.  Read quickly through 1 Chronicles 12:23 – 40, what do you see repeated?

I saw three things that seemed to describe an effective group, body, division of an army:
  1. They came together – they worked as a team.  They each know how they fit into the whole.  They each have a crucial role to play.  They are not acting apart or against the objectives of the group.

  2. They have a multitude of weapons which they can wield expertly – they are not just in possession of these weapons, they are equipped.  That word is repeated often in this passage.  These are tried soldiers, not those who are not sure how to use what they have.  Rather, they are equipped, trained to be effective with their weapon.  They have a multitude of ways in which they can do so.

  3. They have an undivided heart – they are focused, not distracted, they know their assignment and are committed to seeing it through.
Reviewing this entry in my journal, Ephesians 1:22 – 23 came to mind.  Wouldn’t it be good if the elements of 1 Chronicles 12:23 – 40 described our local bodies?  That we would come together, equipped with a multitude of weapons, tools to expand the kingdom, and we were undivided in that focus.

The gates of hell would tremble.