Always Learning

If only we could objectively view our lives as the Lord sees us, we would see that we are constantly changing. Our values shift because of those we expose ourselves to daily, whether in person or social media or in movies. They affect our walk with Christ for good or for evil. That is why the Lord cautioned His people. “Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee: But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves: For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (Exodus 34:12-14).

Those influences affect what we love and hate, revealing a great deal about what sort of person we are and will become. Normally, we embrace what we love and shun what we hate. However, life is not absolutes, but continuous shades of gray between two extremes. Isn’t that where the challenge begins? “The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth” (Psalms 11:5).

I plead with you—be like Paul and others we look up to. Spend your time on what edifies and builds you and others (including your children) up in Christ. Make serving Him the joy of your life. When you do, you will have no need of a TV and movies (big smile). 

“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not” (1 Corinthians 10:23). 

First chirp 

Today it was around 5:15 a.m. when I heard the first bird chirp. Very soon others will join with more chirping as a new day begins. There is a first chirp in every neighborhood around the world that begins the chorus. 

 In a similar way, I want to be a first chirp too. I want to proclaim my Lord’s goodness every day to those around me. I want to be heralding my Lord’s goodness and His return. He is always good, always. 

“What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops” (Matthew 10:27).”Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever” (Psalms 106:1).

Love Hate

If only we could objectively view our lives similar to how the Lord sees us, we would see that we are constantly changing. Our values are shifting because of what we are exposing ourselves to daily. Relationships and what we are exposed to affect our walk with Christ for good or for evil. That is why the Lord cautioned His people. “Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee: But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves: For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (Exodus 34:12-14).

 What we love and what we hate reveals a great deal about what sort of person we are currently and what we will become. Normally, we embrace what we love and shun what we hate. However, life is not absolutes, but continuous shades of gray between two extremes. Isn’t that where the challenge begins? “The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth” (Psalms 11:5).

Posted in: General

What a Surprise

I mentioned her in a previous Seriously. Every time I would drive past her garbage “decorated” home, I would feel so sorry for her. I shared how I stopped and offered to help, but she said her children were going to help her (which they never did). After more time, I saw her out again and stopped to check on her. She recognized us and was happy to dialog a bit. 

“The people across the street—they are Christians ya know—have been helping me. They are such kind people. They are even going to fix my lawn mower and keep my lawn cut for me.” We could see that now with the trash gone, mowing would be possible. 

Driving by on occasion, we have seen ongoing improvement. Her home now looks almost normal (on the outside at least). No doubt all the neighbors are aware, very aware, of the family across the street from her showing practical love for this somewhat demented woman. 

My brothers, are you letting your let shine? Do you know the names of your neighbors and their spiritual condition? Are you showing the love of Christ by helping them when needed? Are you praying for them? Do you love them? Do you identify with Christ and seek opportunities to share the gospel? 

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

Four Key Questions

Steve and I are working at decluttering in our attic. In the course of that, I came across an envelope with personal Bible time journal pages from 30 years ago. At that time I was using a small 3 ring notebook for what I wrote regarding Bible time each day. Obviously I took the pages out when the binder was full and stored them in this envelope. On each journal page was the verse I picked and copied from my reading for the day and my thoughts concerning that verse.

Also at the top of each page, I had written out these four questions:

How is this to build faith?

How am I to trust God in this?

How can I see Christ in this?

What kind of character will it build?

I wrote those questions out each day because I wanted to learn them by heart. Then I desired to use them in situations in which I found myself, especially difficult situations, where I would struggle with a good attitude. Looking for the positive in the midst of a storm helps pull us through the gale. It gives purpose and meaning to something that otherwise seems futile and distressing. 

Think about each of these questions and how they would relate to turning your mind from thoughts that will keep you in anxiety or self pity to ones that set your mind on the One Who will carry you through the problem.

How is this to build faith? “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). As we face trials, we want our faith to grow not be shipwrecked.

How am I to trust God in this? “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). We have so many promises in Scripture that we can turn to as we trust God in those times of hardship. 

How can I see Christ in this? “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Revelation 1:5). There are so many ways to do this from recalling how He interacted with people and dealt with difficult things when He walked the earth to the core of Who the God/Man is to Who He is in my life and much more. 

What kind of character will it build? “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:2-4). God wants to grow us through our tribulations.

Maybe these questions are ones you would like to learn and ask yourself as you face difficult tasks or situations. If so, start writing them at the top of your Bible journal page for the day and before long they will be memorized, or just memorize them. With the questions in your mind, go through each one when you face that trial. Even better would be to briefly write the situation out and the answer to each question in another journal. I didn’t do that, so 30 years later I can’t tell you the times I used those questions, the details of the struggle, nor my answers. I wish I had notebooks filled with all of that. I think that would have been an even greater discovery!

Posted in: Mom's Corner

Words are Cheap

There is a common saying: “Words are cheap.” Likely we are all guilty of saying something that sounds good but has no heart-backing and certainly no follow-thru in actions. How often do you tell your wife that you love her? Do your attitudes and actions sound a loud “Amen”? How much does she really mean to you, and how grateful are you that God brought her for your helpmeet? 

If you are a dad then she is (normally) the mom. Do you desire that your children learn to love and honor her as their mother? Oh, my brothers, demonstrate it. A woman who will invest her life in raising children is worthy of praise, but a mom who will homeschool them is worthy of love and honor many times over. Sadly, many moms don’t even get the words.

“Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered” (1 Peter 3:7). When we do, hopefully our children will follow. Look at the blessing they receive in so doing. 

“Honour thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee” (Deuteronomy 5:16).

That Time Again

I’ve been waging war most days, excluding Sundays, with the weeds popping up in our yard. Weeds galore border us on three sides, and it is no surprise to see them sprout up in our yard. Dealing with them isn’t difficult, but it does take diligence and attentiveness to spot them one by one and eradicate them. The best defense I’m told is a healthy lawn, so I’ve been diligently feeding my lawn. 

 Weeds that easily sprout up in a yard are analogous to sin sprouting in a believer’s life. The first line of defense against sin is a healthy soul — one fed daily by the Word of God, prayer, and through corporate worship. Even then sin is so sneaky, it will sprout up when seeded by the influences around us. Simply being a part of this world there are “sin-seeds” all around us. Many we can avoid, and that is why Teri and I haven’t had a TV for decades. Others are like allergens in the air, just being out and about, in stores and around people, we take them in. 

“Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11).