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Archive for October, 2011

Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31b

“Grace,” I said, “in order for this to happen…”

The topic was on improving my eleven year olds’ performance on the cross-country team and I was teaching her about pacing herself during a race. In our home we don’t emphasize winning, but rather doing our best for God’s glory.

“Pick the fastest girl on the team,” I said, “and run just behind her for as long as you can. Back off when you get tired, but save enough in your tank for the final sprint to the finish line.”

I threw in a NASCAR reference to make sure she understood what I meant about finishing with just enough gas.

As the words were coming out of my mouth, I wondered silently if her coaches would agree with my counsel. There were only two races left in the season and I had just challenged Grace to keep pace with a teammate who ran, on average, about two minutes faster than she did. I thought my message was, that in so doing she would greatly improve her time, and not that she beat the best girl on the team.

Okay dad, but I’ll have to run with ‘soft feet’ because she’ll hear me and run faster,” she said.

Soft Feet?

My heart was racing.

Soft feet?  Where did she come up with that one?

With my encouragement had I inadvertently set an unobtainable goal for my daughter? I found myself choosing my words very carefully from this point forward, not wanting to deflate a dream or inflate a fantasy. It was about that time I stammered out, “In order for this to happen it would take a…well I mean…beating *Carly would be a miraculous thing.”

Gracie altered her expression ever-so-slightly and I feared I had sown a seed of doubt. I began to sweat and sensed it was probably a good time to reestablish our foundation.

Okay Grace, you need to understand that God needs to be in this equation. Jesus needs to be in this before, during, and after the race. Grace, even if you run the worst race of your life, Jesus Christ still gets all the glory. This is important stuff Gracie. Do you understand?”

“Of course daddy,” she said.

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24

Race Day

“Carly’s not here daddy, she’s was sick today.”

I felt a little relieved.

“Not a problem, the plan hasn’t changed, just the person you’re running behind,” I said. “Get behind *Anna and do the same thing. Are you prayed up?”

“Yes daddy,” she smiled and sighed.

“Don’t forget to call on Jesus during the race; He’ll help you,” I told her again for what she probably sensed was the millionth time. “And win or lose, He gets the glory!”

From the back of her head I heard a faint, “Yup!” 

The meet began and I waited anxiously at the finish line. I saw Anna and to my amazement, Grace was about fifty feet behind her. They crossed the finish line one and two (7th and 8th overall), with Grace perhaps ten seconds behind her — Grace had just run her fastest race ever, shaving about a minute and a half off her fastest time and almost three minutes off her slowest time.

Giving her a big hug I said, “Gracie, I know I’ve said this over and over, but remember to give God all the glory in this!”

“I will daddy,” and she ran off to get a hug from her mother.

Snow in October?

It was the last meet of the season, a huge middle school invitational and the weather could not have been much worse—a mixture of heavy wet snow and twenty mile-an-hour winds. By the time Grace was lining up for her event, she was soaked through and through. She was not alone. In all there were about two hundred girls, standing in a couple of inches of snow and mud, all shivering, and many crying. Gracie stood there on the verge of tears as well.

“Grace,” I leaned over and whispered in her ear so as not to embarrass her, “you don’t have to run if you don’t want to. Really, it will be all right if you don’t.”

Trembling she said, “I want to try.”

Now I wanted to cry. I didn’t want to say what I said, but I was glad that I did.

The start of the race was still fifteen minutes away and my flesh wanted to scream at the officials, “Start the race already!” but the Lord reminded me of the importance of being a good witness.

I didn’t need to remind her to pray. I knew she was or she had or she would. Nevertheless I tapped her on the shoulder and pointed to Heaven. She nodded in agreement.

BANG!

The starter’s pistol!

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:3-5

Michelle and I watched for a few seconds as the girls trotted off, but then we turned and ran to be there for her at the finish line.

Through the wind and the snow we saw the first group of girls approach. The racers would dash past the finish line once and run about another half mile before actually coming around to cross it. At this stage we were close enough to see Grace’s wet face, but not quite close enough to distinguish her tears.

The Final Surge

Just when you think things can’t get much worse…

With about a quarter-mile to go Grace tripped and fell in the mud. In the process, her blue knit cap fell off. Leaving it behind, she got up quickly and kept running.

The leaders began to cross. The agony on their faces was concentrated and it affected all the spectators. Then through the snow Grace appeared.

“Go Grace go,” we shouted as she entered the chute. “Watch out behind you!”

Grace crossed the line holding her position.

33rd out of 183

Grace did not win the race, but she accomplished her goal — Grace finished first among her teammates, a full twenty-one seconds in front of the fastest girl on the team. We were ecstatic!

“Grace, come on,” we said as we thanked God and applauded her effort, “let’s get back to the bus to get warm and have some hot cocoa.”

“No,” she demanded.

I was taken aback.  What am I missing?

Grace, not yet composed herself, wasn’t ready to celebrate her victory. “I’ve got to find Carly and Anna. They were crying so much during the race.”

While I had kept reminding my daughter of the importance of giving God all the glory, she reminded me that there are many ways by which that can be accomplished. Gracie, I believe inspired by the Holy Spirit, chose an excellent way.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Post Script

This was not Gracie’s day, I want to be clear about that.  This was God’s day. Jesus showed up and got His glory.  And in so doing He blessed a whole bunch of people.

Praise be to God.

Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. 1 Corinthians 6:20b

*Not the girls real names

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“ And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2

This quote was posted today on one of the social networks:

To know what is right and not to do it is called cowardice – Confucius

That’s Wisdom, Right?

Wrong. That isn’t wisdom.

It’s dumb.

How do we know it’s not wisdom?

God told us so.

“But where can wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? Man does not know its value, Nor is it found in the land of the living.” Job 28:12-13

But it’s Confucius! It must be wisdom.

It’s not. It’s a deception and it’s one of the devices satan uses to get our focus away from Jesus Christ and off of the truth. Christian, it’s the subtlety that makes it so dangerous. In fact it’s so subtle; you might even find yourself wanting to defend Confucius.

Don’t.

By the way, God would say to Confucius (and his quote),

“Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” Romans 4:17

The truth of the matter is that Christians have no business whatsoever quoting and/or drawing upon secular philosophies. We can argue the contrary position all we like, but at the end of the day there is no getting around God’s wisdom found in Colossians 2:8.

“ Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.”

Despite the Holy Scripture references, there will still be some who defend the practice. That’s a shame, but I’m not going to argue about it – God’s word defends itself.

And just to be clear, I’m not condemning to hell anyone who quotes a non-Christian source. However, as we have previously seen, ‘if we know what’s right and do something else, it is a sin.’

“ And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, And to depart from evil is understanding.’ ” Job 28:28

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There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. 1 Corinthians 15:41-42

Have you ever wondered what awaits us in Heaven and how rewards from the Father will be made manifest. One thing we know for certain — we will all be pleased.  We will all be pleased because the vessel we ultimately show up with will be filled. But what of this vessel?  Cannot both a thimble and a boxcar be filled; a teaspoon and a tanker?

The Apostle Paul points out that while each star in the Heavens is indeed glorious, they are not the same size.  Some are mere specks, others are enormous. The issue then becomes not if we will shine for Jesus, but how brightly will we do so. For eternity, and for His glory, we have the choice of becoming celestial midgets or celestial giants.

Does it matter?

Some might say it doesn’t matter—as long as they get to heaven they will be ecstatic. This is true! All who make it to Heaven will be overjoyed, regardless of their capacity to be filled or how intense their glow. However, I suggest to you that an attitude such as this is short-sighted and yes, rather selfish.

No Tears in Heaven

Who told you that?

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:3-4

2 Timothy 4:8 and 1 Corinthians 4:5 speak of a judgement that is coming for the believer; not one of condemnation, but of recognition.  In Heaven and before the Throne, there will be for us a time of remembrance; a review of what we did with the giftings and time we were allotted.  Inevitability, there will much sorrow.  Why?  Because we will see just how much time and energy we wasted on stuff that has no eternal value.   Make no mistake about it, every believer will fall short and some will fall shorter than others.

Now You Know

The reality is [that] God’s truth changes people and if His truth isn’t changing you, the likelihood is that don’t believe it. If that’s the case, you probably believe in something else.  Could it be self-centeredness, self-indulgence, or self-worship? Quite possibly.

Remember 

What a Christian does during his earthly walk determines the kind of vessel he or she presents to the Lord for filling.  Selfishness shrinks us and faithfulness enlarges us.

In other words, it is our privilege  to shine on earth for Jesus.  We don’t have to, we get to.   The brighter we shine on earth, for His glory, the brighter we will shine in Heaven.

Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever. Daniel 12:3

Shine Brighter!

Who is getting the glory for what you have done today? 

Teaspoon or tanker: it’s a choice we make. Choose wisely because the decision you make will last forever.

Comments?

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And if they (wives) want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church. 1 Corinthians 14:35

In Reality…

This verse is intended for the men of the church, not the women, and Christian men, we must understand the implication.

If our wives are not being spiritually nourished by us and therefore, have been placed in a position of having to get their answers outside of the home, it is a shameful thing.  A regular occurrence (husbands) suggests that we are: poor providers for our families, not steeped in the Word of God, and not living submitted lives to Christ Jesus. The shame that comes with that falls directly on the husband.

Even  if the husband is doing these things and the wife is still going outside of the home with her questions, the onus still falls upon the husband–that kind of behavior requires his correction.

Is There a Danger ?

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21

There most certainly is a danger!  We are setting ourselves up for failed marriages, or at the very least, marriages that are not all that they could be.  The practice effectively places stumbling blocks before our spouses.

The Bible assures us that our hearts will follow that which we treasure.   Therefore, if by our shortcomings we force our wives to ask their questions outside of the home, we run the risk they might begin to treasure the source and ignore the well that has run dry.

Godly men, don’t let it occur!  Correct the behavior.  It’s the will of God for your marriage.

Men Do Not Have All the Answers

True…

Nevertheless, out of respect for her husband, he should always get the first crack at answering her questions.  If he doesn’t know the answer, his best response would be, “Honey, I’ll have to look that up or make my own inquiry and I’ll get back to you.”

If it’s an urgent situation, let the husband determine who should be sought out to provide the answer.

What’s a Wife to Do?

Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. 1 Peter 3:1-2

Pray.  Be in the Word.  Bring the uniqueness of your situation before the Lord. Tell your husband that you want him to be the one that you can go to and trust for the right answers.  There’s a good chance he’ll respond.

Men, it’s what women want.

Remarks?

But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. 1 Corinthians 11:3

 

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Let all things be done decently and in order. 1 Corinthians 14:40

When it comes to exercising the gifts of the Holy Spirit, it’s obvious that churches have different approaches. Some have the ‘let all things’  part down, but aren’t too keen on the ‘decent and orderly’ perspective, while other congregations have nailed  ‘decent and orderly,’ but might be neglecting some of the gifts. The Apostle Paul adds some clarity by adding another component to the equation.

Let all things be done for edification. For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. 1 Corinthians 14:27, 33

Who’s Getting the Glory

Edification is just a fancy word for strengthening, or building up another person in the Lord as it pertains to the good of the church.  The root of the word essentially means, ‘to build a house.’ Properly exercised, edification does not take any glory away from God.  Ignored, it produces strife rather than peace. God is the author of peace and where there is no peace there is likely no body-building going on.  And where there’s no strengthening of the body there is probably no order or decency.  Reverse the negative trend and a usable pattern emerges.

All things + Order + Edification = A Strong, Loving, Peaceable Church

“This sounds like my church.”

Then I thought about it more deeply.  I remembered that my congregation, like me, is a work in progress.  If I’m honest, the church I attend is not operating as smoothly, as efficiently, and as effectively as we could.  I further see that I am part of the problem and by God’s grace, part of the solution.   Remembering that Christ is the faithful provider, if the situation is to improve, it can start with me.

I must purpose in my mind to exercise the spiritual gifts I have access to, in an orderly fashion, in a manner which builds up rather than tears down,  for the singular purpose of bringing glory to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

I am not saying that this is a work we must do.

If anything, it’s a commission that we get to do.  If there’s a sense of obligation that comes  from anywhere other than gratitude, the effort is of little use because it’s misguided. Our motivation in this realm is directly proportionate to gratitude, and if it isn’t, then a reexamination of doctrinal terms ‘deliverance and redemption’ would be in order.  Why is Communion so important?  This is why.

What are Your Thoughts

  1. What does your church like?
  2. What would your church like if it were filled with a hundred of you?
  3. Do you have gifts you’re ignoring?
  4. Are you ‘in order’ or ‘out of order’?
  5. How’s your gratitude?

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There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God. For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the Lord your God has not appointed such for you. Deuteronomy 18:10-14

The following remarks are for the Christian.

  • Read the Deuteronomy passage above.
  • What does God say about witches and witchcraft?
  • Notice the terms, ‘shall not’ and ‘abomination to the Lord.’ What do they mean to you?

Now read the Romans passage below.

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. Romans 1:28-32

Meditate on the last portion of the last sentence for a moment, “…Those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”

Did you notice the two distinct groups of people who are deserving of death?

  1. Those who practice such things.
  2. Those who approve of those who practice them.

Today’s blog presupposes that you are a) a follower of Jesus Christ and, b) you don’t practice these abominations to the Lord, at least I certainly hope that is the case.

But I’ve noticed something. There are far too many Christians who approve of those who do practice such things. Be warned. According to God, such acceptance is worthy of death. In light of the truth…

Why do you dress up your children as witches and warlocks?  Why do you have cutesy witch decorations in and around your home?  Why in the world would you embrace books and movies that glorify witchcraft?

“Dave,” you say, “just calm down; you are overreacting.”

If you believe these observations are an overreaction, do you also believe that God arbitrarily inserted these verses into His Word the Bible and that they have no meaning or justification? I submit to you that He did not–God means what He says and a wise person should give heed to His word.

Stop

Stop trying to justify your actions. Simply obey the Lord and in so doing you will discover that your walk with the Lord is easy and fruitful. In contrast, the anxiety Christians often experience comes when we struggle against the truth. Surrender to the Way and receive from God the peace that surpasses all understanding.

You know the whole witch-thing is wrong. You always have. For God’s sake, just let it go.

What are your thoughts?

 

 

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“And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ ” Acts 17:26-28

Jesus said that He is the way, the truth, and the life, and that He came into the world to testify to the truth. I believe that; particularly the truth part. If as Christian’s we all believed this, we would without equivocation stand by every single word of the Bible. In view of this passage from the Gospel of John, we’ve no other option:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:1 & 14

I say that to say ‘in Christ’ there aren’t any coincidences. How can a Christian believe otherwise? The declaration in Acts 17 is clear: God made us and He has determined our preappointed times. That’s a far-reaching pronouncement and from it we may deduce that our encounters are orchestrated by God.

The question is, “Do you believe it?”

Either God’s hand is in each situation or it is not. Either God has a plan for each encounter or He does not. Either in Him we live and move and have our being or we do not. It truly is this plain.

I’ve opted for the former over the latter–that every appointment is divine and that God has a specific and unique outcome in mind for each one. The embracement of the tenet is changing my life.

Praying More

Initially, I was overwhelmed. I prayed and God gave me peace.

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light…Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Matthew 11:28-30 & Matthew 7:7

So now I’m learning to anticipate get-togethers. I tell God where I am going (as if He didn’t know) and specifically ask for encouragement, discernment, and empowerment. To my relief I discovered that not every encounter was designed to be directly evangelical.

Here’s a sampling of some recent engagements:

At the gas station, the Spirit moved me to ask the attendant if he had read the Bible tract I had given him the week before; specifically the smaller-print on the back. He said he hadn’t. I handed him another tract and listened as he read it aloud. When he finished I said, “So, what do you think?

He smiled broadly and enthusiastically said, “This truly is good news!”

At the hardware store the cashier welcomed me and said, “How are you today?”

I’ve gotten into the habit of answering these queries with, “I am blessed more than I deserve! How are you?” Her response gave me an indication that she too was a Christian.

Our brief exchange was uplifting and encouraging.

A while back a rough-and-tough looking twosome appeared at my door and asked if I wanted my driveway coated and sealed. I was leery, but we agreed on a price and I gave them the go ahead. As they finished up, the Lord prompted me to ask if I could pray for them.

Not only did they agree, the one said, “We’re born again too! Mind if I lead?”

Amazing

Admittedly, not every meeting bears fruit I can readily see. Sometimes a shared word is rejected. Other times the Spirit plainly says to my heart, “Just say ‘God bless you!’ to this soul and leave him be.” Nevertheless, it’s evident to me that with every encounter, God does a work, with the purpose and glory always His.

No Accident

If we can agree that physical encounters are not accidents, then we can likely agree that impersonal, internet exchanges such as these aren’t coincidental either. I’m not sure why you’re here, but I have a sense why I was, and I further believe God determined and prearranged the time of this meeting.

Therefore I’d like to encourage you to treat every encounter as a divine appointment, even if you don’t entirely believe it to be so. There is truth in His word and as we step out obediently God will make His glory known.

“ He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” John 14:21

Testify

Can you bear witness to these truths? Please leave a comment as an encouragement and as a testament to His rightness.

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