Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I have this taped to my desk for days like these:

"By God's grace, I've weathered many storms just like this, and if you submit to what God is teaching you, he will make you wise and humble and useful."
Thank you Billy Grahm.

[She] will have no fear of bad news; [her] heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. [Her] heart is secure, [she] will have no fear; in the end [she] will look in triumph on [her] foes.
Psalm 112:7-8
Thank you, Jesus!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ephesians 1:18-19a

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Dally No More

“There is something fascinating in grief; though we feel it hurts our peace, . . . we are apt to indulge it and to brood over sorrow till it gives a tincture to the whole frame of our spirits. . . . Dally no more with grief; try to cut short all recollections that feed the anguish of the mind.”

John Newton, in Grant Gordon, editor, Wise Counsel: John Newton’s Letters to John Ryland Jr. (Edinburgh, 2009), letter 40.

Dally no more is a post from: Ray Ortlund

Sunday, June 20, 2010

This is the Good Life

Stellar sermon by my pastor, Brian Colmery this week.

Had me thinking of this song by Audio Adrenaline. Actually, i was singing the hook everytime Brian said, "the good life"... whilst listening intently of course. ;-)
Anyway, super good sermon, super good song.

"Good Life"

I've watched my dreams all fade away
And blister in the sun
Everything I've ever had is unraveled and undone
I've set upon a worthless stack
Of my ambitious plans
And the people that I've loved the most
Have turned their backs and ran

This is the good life
I've lost everything
I could ever want
And ever dream of
This is the good life
I found everything
I could ever need
Here in Your arms

Loneliness has left me searching
For someone to love
Poverty has changed my view
Of what true riches are
Sorrow's opened up my eyes
To see what real joy is
Pain has been the catalyst
To my heart's happiness

What good would it be
If you had everything
But you wouldn't have
The only thing you need


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Here Again

How did I get here again? Well, I forgot to practice. I have spent so much time lately encouraging others with Truth that I forgot to tell myself. Funny how that happens. We know the Truth but unless we practice Truth it doesn't really sink into the depths of our hearts... just like doing intense Bible study and stopping before applying it to our lives. Have we then learned anything at all?

"Never give thanks for blessings you can see without remembering the blessings you can’t see.
When you give thanks for a clean bill of health, enough money to take a vacation, rain for crops, or the food on the table, be sure to keep going until you get to the spiritual, a.k.a. lasting, benefits we have received in Christ. We are thankful for forgiveness of sins, love that never ceases, the presence of God, and a mission. These are things we can be thankful for even when everything we see with our eyes looks wretched.

Over-practice. Use any excuse to get back to the cross itself and then—do it again.

I can see a style of thought in myself that goes something like this. If my “thankful” list is longer than my “complaint” list, then I am on the right path. The problem is that I can have dozens of items on the thankful list and only one on the complaint list, and the severity of the complaint outweighs everything I am thankful for. Only the blessings we have received in Christ are weighty enough to counterbalance those especially hard events of life. But these blessings in Christ won’t outweigh our difficulties unless we over-practice reciting them."
- Ed Welch, When in Doubt - Over-practice

Friday, June 11, 2010

Singer of Songs

I’m not a savior, and I’m not a saint.
The man with the answers I certainly ain’t.
I wouldn’t tell you what’s right or what’s wrong.
I’m just a singer of songs.

But I can take you for a walk along a little country stream.
I can make you see through lovers’ eyes and understand their dreams.
I can help you hear a baby’s laugh and feel the joy it brings.
Yes, I can do it with the songs I sing.
I’m not a prophet, and I’m not a priest.
I’m not a wise man who’s come from the East.
I wouldn’t tell you what’s right or what’s wrong.
I’m just a singer of songs.

But I can take you to a city where a man was crucified.
I can tell you how He lived, and I can tell you why He died.
I can help proclaim the glory of this mighty King of kings.
Yes, I can do it with the songs I sing.
I’m not a great man. I don’t claim to be.
But when I meet my Maker and He questions me,
I won’t hang my head. I will stand proud and strong
and say, “I was a singer. Lord, I was a singer.
Yes, I was a singer of songs.”

-Johnny Cash

Friday, June 4, 2010

From Ray Ortland

“You turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” 1 Thessalonians 1:9

You and I are not integrated, unified, whole persons. Our hearts are multi-divided. There is a board room in every heart. Big table. Leather chairs. Coffee. Bottled water. Whiteboard. A committee sits around the table. There is the social self, the private self, the work self, the sexual self, the recreational self, the religious self, and others. The committee is arguing and debating and voting. Constantly agitated and upset. Rarely can they come to a unanimous, wholehearted decision. We tell ourselves we’re this way because we’re so busy with so many responsibilities. The truth is, we’re just divided, unfocused, hesitant, unfree.

That kind of person can “accept Jesus” in either of two ways. One way is to invite him onto the committee. Give him a vote too. But then he becomes just one more complication. The other way to “accept Jesus” is to say to him, “My life isn’t working. Please come in and fire my committee, every last one of them. I hand myself over to you. Please run my whole life for me.” That is not complication; that is salvation.

“Accepting Jesus” is not just adding Jesus. It is also subtracting the idols.

#9: What does it mean to “accept Jesus”? is a post from: Ray Ortlund

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Life and Godliness

Once again in my circles there has been a wave of this question, if God is so loving, why do bad things happen? (And let me clarify, the following does include suffering such as child molestation, rape, financial loss, physical disability, disease, death and the like.) This is something I have been studying for years and when leaning on my own understanding it really doesn't make any sense. But through Scripture, illuminated by the Holy Spirit, it makes perfect sense.

Paul tells us,
to keep me from becoming conceited... a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited (2 Corinthians 12:7). Paul says, to keep me from becoming conceited, twice in this passage. Kinda repetitive, right? Apparently the emphasis is not that Paul was given a thorn in his flesh, but that it was given to keep him humble.

So what does Paul do with that? He rejoices. Why? Well he tells us, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, (Romans 5:3-4). And again, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

So he is saying is we suffer and enjoy it? No. He is saying when we suffer (and Peter tells us we will, 1 Peter 4:12) we are to turn to our merciful Savior and rejoice in the work being done in our suffering. Both Peter and James speak on this as well.

1 Peter 1:6-8:
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

If necessary. As God saw it necessary to give Paul a thorn in his flesh; He may find it necessary for us to suffer that we may be purified. However, there are varying degrees of suffering (none more important to God than another) and not all will endure the same suffering.

2 Peter 1:3-4:
[God's] divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence He has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature.
Ultimately, what we need for life and godliness is the knowledge of Christ. Yet for those who are in the wilderness, do not despair. Your God has not forgotten you, there is a divine purpose. What is necessary for life and godliness does include suffering and in that suffering we have the pleasure of vision in saturated colors. Notice Peter says twice this is granted to us - a gift.

1 Peter 5:10
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

Peter is telling us that, in the midst of our suffering God is at work in our hearts. He is at work to:
purify (tested genuineness): dokimion - that by which something is tried or proved
perfect: katartizō - mend, complete, equip;
confirm: stērizō - to make stable, to render constant one's mind;
strengthen: sthenoō - make strong of one's soul;
establish: themelioō - to lay the foundation.

Ah, to lay the foundation. I love that. I have seen God tearing down strongholds all the way to the bedrock so He may lay His foundation. It is painful when my teetering tower comes crumbling down, but I am far better off as God places me on His Cornerstone.

James puts this pretty succinctly as well:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
James 1:2-4

Lacking in nothing. We have been granted all things that pertain to life and godliness, and that includes all suffering because God will use it to purify our faith, restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish us that we will be lacking nothing for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for us. No matter how gruesome the offense, how devastating the loss, we are given an opportunity to cleave to our Savior as He does the work. I can tell you dear friends that this process of pruning - however painful - produces something more valuable than if the suffering never happened at all. It produces knowledge of, and fellowship with our Savior who suffered more than anyone ever in all eternity. More than that, Christ shows us the hope produced through suffering by the inexpressible glory that resulted in His crucifixion.

...and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Romans 5:5