Thursday, January 31, 2008

Thoughts on Fasting.

Today I spoke at a local Christian school during their Spiritual Emphasis Week. They evidently have been concentrating on the Spiritual Disciplines. My topic was Fasting. I chose Matthew 6:16-18 for my text. My intent was to share what fasting was, the motives for fasting and then some practical tips on fasting both food and "non-food" items. I prepared a hand-out due the sheer volume of material that I in no way could cover. I think it was well received. A staff member challenged the teens to commit to fasting and while some music played, called for them to come and fill out a sheet of paper to help them focus on why they would fast. I kept my head bowed and prayed that God would move in their hearts. I have no idea what the response was, although I heard teens moving around. My prayer is that God becomes very real to them during this time.

As I got in my car and headed to the house to pick my wife up for a date, a thought struck me: We are always fasting - whether we acknowledge it or not. What do I mean by that? A passionate Christian will incorporate fasting into their life so that they sacrifice something meaningful to focus intently on what is really important to them: Jesus Christ. However, the same is true for those who are worldly. They simply sacrifice a relationship with Christ (even as Christians) for the purpose of focusing intently on what is really important to them: _________. So while we may not teach on fasting all that much, or practice it as often as we'd like, we all do fast in some way each and every day. Question is: what are you fasting from and what are you fasting for?

Today I took my wife and two youngest children to the Great Wall Chinese restaurant in Warsaw. They have the best food at the best prices in town! This is an incredible restaurant - if you are local, you should try it out!!

As I sit here and type, I am having trouble concentrating. My coffee from my early appointment (6am) has worn off and dinner is making me sleepy. I am heading down to the kitchen here at church to brew a pot of java. Sadly it will only be Fogers regular grind or something along those lines. But it will do in a pinch!!

Big snow storm headed our way tonight. I'm taking work home in case I get snowed in. 6-10 inches - we'll see what happens!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Happiness & Wisdom: inexplicably intertwined.

Can I count on you to either: 1) click this link which contains our text, or (2) read Proverbs 8:20-36 from your own personal copy of Scripture? To post it all here would be lengthy, and perhaps unnecessary. Cool - now, let's discuss it.

We jump in the middle of chapter 8 and right in the middle of a conversation that Wisdom is having. It's impolite, but this will be beneficial, I'm sure! Do you see where Wisdom is gained - where you actually can find it? It's there in the first phrase: " the way of righteousness..." You will only find Wisdom when you are living rightly. Isn't it amazing that we think we can live any way we'd like and expect that God will still give us Wisdom at a moment's notice? Kinda ties in with James 1 doesn't it? Why would anyone who is double minded in that way expect to experience the blessings of Wisdom?

The blessings: Yes, they are manifold. From literal, practical items needed in life spreading out to all the spiritual ramifications of having Wisdom - they are all benefits of those pursuing her.

Happiness? You want happiness too? You'll find it in close proximity of Wisdom. Blessed = those who keep My ways (Wisdom) and Blessed = the man who listens to Me (Wisdom). Wisdom is the happiness source. Got Wisdom? Have Happiness.

There are some consequences of choice at the end of this passage by the way. v.36: Find Wisdom = life and favor of the LORD. v.37: Sin against Wisdom = injury to self & death. You do choose, each and every day. Did you know that the ramifications were that intense?

totally unrelated news:

Yesterday I spackled (I love that word) some cracks in the walls in the kitchen (from the house settling). I also cleaned, scraped and painted our entryway into the basement. Sometime this week I will add another coat. I am reminded again of how cheap it is to brighten an area with a fresh coat of paint.

I still have some Gevalia on eBay - although I haven't started any new auctions. :(

I am enjoying what may be my very last free McDonald's sweet tea. Today is that last Tuesday in January and from now on they won't be free. Decent enough beverage for the price you pay.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Dallas Brass...

So a very short entry today:

My wife and I had the extreme pleasure to watch our middle son, Patrick, play with the Dallas Brass. These guys are highly entertaining and worth every cent to see! I have to admit that prior to going I thought it would be another one of "those" concerts that you'd have to just force yourself to sit through. Boy, was I wrong. These guys are very interactive and are very energetic. I'll try and add a clip from youtube and some pics - but check out their site... they are worth listening to.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Embracing the Difficulties for the Progress of the Gospel

The text:
Philippians 1:12-14
Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.

I remember the first time this really dawned on me what Paul was saying. I was about to go to a home to speak with both parents and teen about a rough time they were going through. I was reading the book of Philippians that day in personal study. Then I saw it. Did you? The Apostle Paul, imprisoned, was rejoicing that the gospel was progressing because of his imprisonment.

What? Where is Paul praying to be released? Where is Paul seeking God's face to comfort him? Where is Paul begging God to allow him freedom once more to be more effective in his ministry? Why isn't Paul seeking release from the circumstances?

It dawned on me. Paul had figured it out. He knew that God would allow certain uncomfortable things to come in our lives, so that God would: 1) receive glory, (2) His gospel would progress, (3) the world would see it [the whole Praetorian guard] and (4) believers would be embolden by it [most of the brethern...have far more courage to speak]. So what it would boil down to would be whether I would begin to notice the 'difficulties' in life in such a way that I would pray that God would, (not release me from the circumstances), but rather, allow the circumstances to unfold in such a way that He would receive glory. I would pray that I would respond in such a way that the gospel of God would progress...that the world would be changed, and my brothers and sisters in Christ would become even more bold in their ministries.

That is a huge paradigm shift for not only the culture in which we live, but for the Western church.

One of my memory goals for this year is to memorize Ephesians. My goal for January is to have vv.1-12 down pat. I am actually ahead of schedule and have up to v.14 almost word for word. However, my translation of Ephesians is faltering. For some reason I cannot keep it going - even though I love doing it. Pray for me. I want to accomplish this. Goals without accountability are bound to fail.

I just finished listening to an audio-book entitled, 13 Cent Killers: The 5th Marine Snipers in Vietnam. It was my first audio-book. I am unsure that I like audio-books. I have to really concentrate on what is being said, or I find myself drifting off into thinking of other things. I love history, especially military history, and this was an interesting 'read'. It wasn't outstanding, but if you like this sort of thing it would be worth checking out of a library. I wouldn't necessarily buy it.

Believe it or not, I am actually trying to sell some of my Limited Edition Gevalia coffees. I have too many for personal consumption and need to jettison some from my cupboard. If you're interested, go to eBay and search under my username: grizzlie101. I currently only have two boxes up, but will be posting more soon.

Speaking of java, I haven't had any today and it's getting close to 11:00. All I have had is a McD's sweet tea - and that is weak. But I was out and about and had to get something. So, I am off to create some coffee delight. God bless, hope your weekend is a good one.

Al, did you read the entire post?

Monday, January 21, 2008

How to Spend the Day with God - Richard Baxter

adapted and updated from Richard Baxter (1615-1691) by Matthew Vogan (original)

A holy life is inclined to be made easier when we know the usual sequence and method of our duties - with everything falling into its proper place. Therefore, I shall give some brief directions for spending the day in a holy manner.


Measure the time of your sleep appropriately so that you do not waste your precious morning hours sluggishly in your bed. Let the time of your sleep be matched to your health and labour, and not to slothful pleasure.

First Thoughts

Let God have your first awaking thoughts; lift up your hearts to Him reverently and thankfully for the rest enjoyed the night before and cast yourself upon Him for the day which follows.

Familiarise yourself so consistently to this that your conscience may check you when common thoughts shall first intrude. Think of the mercy of a night's rest and of how many that have spent that night in Hell; how many in prison; how many in cold, hard lodgings; how many suffering from agonising pains and sickness, weary of their beds and of their lives.

Think of how many souls were that night called from their bodies terrifyingly to appear before God and think how quickly days and nights are rolling on! How speedily your last night and day will come! Observe that which is lacking in the preparedness of your soul for such a time and seek it without delay.


Let prayer by yourself alone (or with your partner) take place before the collective prayer of the family. If possible let it be first, before any work of the day.

Family Worship

Let family worship be performed consistently and at a time when it is most likely for the family to be free of interruptions.

Ultimate Purpose

Remember your ultimate purpose, and when you set yourself to your day's work or approach any activity in the world, let HOLINESS TO THE LORD be written upon your hearts in all that you do.

Do no activity which you cannot entitle God to, and truly say that he set you about it, and do nothing in the world for any other ultimate purpose than to please, glorify and enjoy Him. "Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." - 1 Corinthians 10:31.

Diligence in Your Calling

Follow the tasks of your calling carefully and diligently. Thus:

(a) You will show that you are not sluggish and servants to your flesh (as those that cannot deny it ease), and you will further the putting to death of all the fleshly lusts and desires that are fed by ease and idleness.
(b) You will keep out idle thoughts from your mind, that swarm in the minds of idle persons.
(c) You will not lose precious time, something that idle persons are daily guilty of.
(d) You will be in a way of obedience to God when the slothful are in constant sins of omission.
(e) You may have more time to spend in holy duties if you follow your occupation diligently. Idle persons have no time for praying and reading because they lose time by loitering at their work.
(f) You may expect God's blessing and comfortable provision for both yourself and your families.
(g) it may also encourage the health of your body which will increase its competence for the service of your soul.

Temptations and Things That Corrupt

Be thoroughly acquainted with your temptations and the things that may corrupt you - and watch against them all day long. You should watch especially the most dangerous of the things that corrupt, and those temptations that either your company or business will unavoidably lay before you.

Watch against the master sins of unbelief: hypocrisy, selfishness, pride, flesh pleasing and the excessive love of earthly things. Take care against being drawn into earthly mindedness and excessive cares, or covetous designs for rising in the world, under the pretence of diligence in your calling.

If you are to trade or deal with others, be vigilant against selfishness and all that smacks of injustice or uncharitableness. In all your dealings with others, watch against the temptation of empty and idle talking. Watch also against those persons who would tempt you to anger. Maintain that modesty and cleanness of speech that the laws of purity require. If you converse with flatterers, be on your guard against swelling pride.

If you converse with those that despise and injure you, strengthen yourself against impatient, revengeful pride.

At first these things will be very difficult, while sin has any strength in you, but once you have grasped a continual awareness of the poisonous danger of any one of these sins, your heart will readily and easily avoid them.


When alone in your occupations, improve the time in practical and beneficial meditations. Meditate upon the infinite goodness and perfections of God; Christ and redemption; Heaven and how unworthy you are of going there and how you deserve eternal misery in Hell.

The Only Motive

Whatever you are doing, in company or alone, do it all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Otherwise, it is unacceptable to God.

Redeeming The Time

Place a high value upon your time, be more careful of not losing it than you would of losing your money. Do not let worthless recreations, television, idle talk, unprofitable company, or sleep rob you of your precious time.

Be more careful to escape that person, action or course of life that would rob you of your time than you would be to escape thieves and robbers.

Make sure that you are not merely never idle, but rather that you are using your time in the most profitable way that you can and do not prefer a less profitable way before one of greater profit.

Eating and Drinking

Eat and drink with moderation and thankfulness for health, not for unprofitable pleasure. Never please your appetite in food or drink when it is prone to be detrimental to your health.

Remember the sin of Sodom: "Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food and abundance of idleness" - Ezekiel 16:49.

The Apostle Paul wept when he mentioned those "whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame -- who set their minds on earthly things, being enemies to the cross of Christ" - Philippians 3:18-19. O then do not live according to the flesh lest you die (Romans 8:13).

Prevailing Sins

If any temptation prevails against you and you fall into any sins in addition to habitual failures, immediately lament it and confess it to God; repent quickly whatever the cost. It will certainly cost you more if you continue in sin and remain unrepentant.

Do not make light of your habitual failures, but confess them and daily strive against them, taking care not to aggravate them by unrepentance and contempt.


Remember every day the special duties of various relationships: whether as husbands, wives, children, masters, servants, pastors, people, magistrates, subjects.

Remember every relationship has its special duty and its advantage for the doing of some good. God requires your faithfulness in this matter as well as in any other duty.

Closing the Day

Before returning to sleep, it is wise and necessary to review the actions and mercies of the day past, so that you may be thankful for all the special mercies and humbled for all your sins.

This is necessary in order that you might renew your repentance as well as your resolve for obedience, and in order that you may examine yourself to see whether your soul grew better or worse, whether sin goes down and grace goes up and whether you are better prepared for suffering, death and eternity.

May these directions be engraven upon your mind and be made the daily practice of your life.

If sincerely adhered to, these will be conducive to the holiness, fruitfulness and quietness of your life and add to you a comfortable and peaceful death.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Facing the Giants (the original)...

I read this morning the familiar Bible story of David and Goliath. It is very familiar, although I do suggest you read it for yourself - just to bring to mind some of the peculiarities. Here is what I noted in my bible:
  • In times of great difficulty comes added responsibilities.
    • v.15 - The nation was at war. David's brothers left to go to battle. David not only had to tend to his flock, as was his usual job, but had to run back & forth from the battlefied to home, checking on his brother's and bringing them supplies, etc. When difficulties come, sometimes we have the added pressures of additional responsibilities as well.
  • Not everyone gets to go to the front.
    • v.15 - The place of prominence in war is the front-line. That's where the 'action' is. However, a support position is really needed as much, and sometimes it's good to remember that not everyone is going to the front, but everyone has an important job to do.
  • Outward (physical) circumstances divert our eyes from spiritual realities.
    • v.24 - The men of Israel were consumed with looking at the 'man'. They were frightened because they didn't take God at His word. They were 'greatly afraid' because the physical became the only thing that was tangible in their lives - the spiritual was a myth. When the spiritual reality (God's word that He would fight for them) becomes a myth, defeat is inevitable.
  • Faith (taking God's Word for reality itself) accomplished in the heart, affects the actions of one's life to reflect that faith, and God receives the glory.
    • vv.45-47 - David goes and 'conversates' with Goliath. He tells him that he (David) was coming to him "in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel" - hereby acknowledging his dependence on God & His word; David also states that he would kill Goliath so that "all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel" & that "the battle is the LORD's" - God receives the glory. Believe what God says, let it affect what people see in your life - so that God will receive the glory. (Matthew 5:16: "Let your light so shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven"
I don't know what "giants" you are facing in your life, but these principles remain true today. May God help you in your battles.

Today we have a pastoral retreat. Just the three of us on staff, going to an undisclosed location, away from all contact and concentrating on the Word, prayer and administration. I am looking forward to it.

I'm two cups of coffee into the day and it feels good! (by the way, Tuesdays are "free sweet tea" at McDonalds, and I'll be taking advantage of that!)

One last thing: I don't normally dream, but last night I had a gripping, very real dream. I had a mother come to me at a teen event, someone I had not met before, who needed help. She had a young child with her, a girl: blonde, curly hair and a smile that would knock 'em dead. This little girl was probably about 3, maybe 4. Her mother related to me that they had just discovered that this girl had cancer and asked me to pray with her. So as I began to, in my dream, we were somehow 'transported' to a Catholic church and took the communion. As I held this now limp body of the girl in my arms, (I'm not sure if she was sleeping or unconscious), I remember thinking how people were watching me because I didn't genuflect. At the end of that service, the mom disappeared and the priest brought the father to me. However, as the father of the girl explained he had to pray with the priest, he opened the door to a booth and in it lay a drunk man. The father fell across the bench next to me in anguish, sobbing because he couldn't be next to the priest while he prayed. I again was transported - (you know how dreams are) - and found myself in the emergency room of the hospital. The girl was now in their care and I was helpless as to what I could do. As I waited in the waiting area, the police came in with a group of criminals and lawyers and cleared the area so that they would have a place to process them (?). I was all but invisible to these men. I did notice one of the lawyers was an acquaintance of mine, but I couldn't interrupt. Then as I looked up, the nurses were cleaning the room in which the girl had been receiving treatment. She had died. That is when I awoke. I was disturbed, in a sense, by this dream. I recall the names of the mom and girl clearly. Very odd for someone who doesn't recall dreams much at all.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Holding Hands with God - Ps.73

Here is a small selection from my church's scheduled reading in Psalm 73. The entire chapter is very encouraging, especially to the believer who is becoming disillusioned with the 'blessings' that the world seem to always have at hand. I found this selection comforting to me:

Psalm 73:23-26
23) Nevertheless I am continually with Thee; Thou hast taken hold of my right hand. (24) With Thy counsel Thou wilt guide me, And afterward receive me to glory. (25) Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And besides Thee, I desire nothing on earth. (26) My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portio
n forever.

Some thoughts from this verse that struck me:
  • God never leaves us. He is continually with us. Reminds me of Hebrews 13:5, quoting Deuteronomy 31:6
  • He initiated the grasp of my hand. He is in control. I can rely on Him.
  • I need counsel in this life - God provides it for me and He guides me. I guess that's better then my GPS I'll be talking about here shortly.
  • The best of both worlds...literally. God guides me here on earth, and then receives me to glory, where I will be with Him eternally. Awesome!
  • Is there anyone else more powerful, more gracious, more merciful, more loving, more kind, more holy than my God? No. No-one in earth, or heaven. He is all I need.
  • My heart's prayer is that He becomes all I desire here on earth.
  • If I were to live this life in my flesh, I will fail. Miserably. However, if I rely on God and live a God-dependent life, I will prosper and succeed - for His glory!
God's word amazes me in how true to life and relevant it really is. Are you in it?

Yesterday I enjoyed a full day of worship with my 'family'. My immediate family has been able to attend only 3 of the last 7 weeks of Sunday worship at our church. Whether it was weather (snow & ice - 2 weeks) or illness or travel, we have just missed out. And I mean missed out. I love our church and its people. Yesterday as we were worshiping in song, I was once again amazed at how the words and music washed over me as I stood near the front. It was good to hear God's people lifting their voices in praise to Him.

Last night I was able to preach a 'short' sermon on Prayer from Ephesians 6:18-24. I entitled it, "Pray on my behalf...", a direct quote of Paul's. I pray that it encouraged many as it did me preparing for it. I have seen God move quite clearly in my life already this year.

Today I am planning on purchasing a birthday present for myself. It is the Garmin Nuvi 350. A really neat GPS system - my brother received one for Christmas and I was immediately enthralled with it. I am such a techie - or perhaps more accurately, a gadget-guy. I have researched this one out and think I am making the right choice for the money I have. It is a little more expensive then what I would normally spend on myself, but I have had some money come in and I think I have found a great deal. Besides, you only turn 40 once. (That's a whole different post). I know my birthday isn't until February, but c'mon, when the deal is there you have to move!

Since Mondays are my day "off", I made some scrambled eggs with Mozeralla cheese and doubled the intake of Java. Gevalia's Dark Roast again - I am nearing the bottom of this bag, so will have to move onto something else shortly.

Have a great day & inhale deeply the steam that rises from your mug!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Pain of Perseverance and How to Avoid Apostasy: A Quick Look at 1 Timothy 4

This morning, with mug of java in hand, I sat down at my kitchen table and read 1 Timothy 4. I have always been intrigued with this passage, but today I decided to work through it in greater detail than I have in the past. These are my thoughts as I wrote them down at breakfast:

I see a warning, written by the Apostle, spoken by the Holy Spirit in vv.1-5. It is very obvious that there will be in "later times" a falling away from the faith. Supposed brothers and sisters in Christ will abandon what we hold precious and simply walk away. That is sobering and frightening. I do not want to be in that number. How does one find themselves included in the withering faith that ends in withdrawal? I think 1 Timothy lays it out pretty clearly.
  • Embrace Falsehoods - v.1 - "...paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons..." There is a switch from listening and heeding Truth and being deceived into passionate pursuit of demonic lies. Unfortunately, sometimes these very well may be propagated from the pulpits in our nation, on our TV and in our hometowns.
  • External Focus - v.3 - " who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods..." Suddenly the heart is neglected (partly due to a seared conscience) and outward behavior becomes the prominent focus. Ironically these heretical claims fly in the face of the blessings of what God has given us.
Is there something that I can do to ensure that I do not embrace falsehoods & focus on externals? Yes. Scripture never leaves us wanting in "training in righteousness". Listed below are the preventative measures to keep oneself from falling away:
  • Train in the Word & Sound Doctrine - v.6 - "...constantly nourished on the words of faith and the sound doctrine which you have been following..." The primacy of God's Word in one's life is key to persevering! That means you must be constantly in it. There is no other way. Also, listen to others that are constantly in the Word and learn from them. Don't try to re-invent the wheel in your biblical education. Read solid authors, listen to podcasts from godly teachers and pastors, tune your radios to Truth when possible. Let the water of the word wash through your mind constantly.
  • Reject Falsehoods - v.7 - "...have nothing to do with worldly fables..." With a knowledge of the Word comes discernment. Discern what is right and wrong and reject the untruths held by the culture around you. This might not be a popular stance, but one that will ensure that you persevere.
  • Exercise for the purpose of Godliness - v.7 - "...discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness..." It does take effort to be godly. It's not always fun and games in this process of perseverance. But it is well worth the effort! This godliness that is achieved through discipline profits us not only in the life to come, but also this life as well! (v.8) How cool is that? It's win-win for the believer in pursuit of persevering for their Lord!
What kind of intensity should be involved in our persevering? Again, the answer is found in 1 Timothy 4:
  • Take pains with these things, be absorbed in them - v.15 - as we so carefully move through our study of the Word, as we allow it to work in our lives and mold our hearts, this progress will be noticed by everyone around us.
  • Pay close attention to:
    • Yourself - v.16 - why? So that you don't stray from the Truth. So that your heart and mind are holding to Truth.
    • Your teaching - v.16 - why? So that you don't lead others astray. So that what pours out of your heart only encourages others in this pursuit of perseverance.
In maintaining this intensity, you will " salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you..."

May God help you take pains with your perseverance and avoid apostasy in your life! Study 1 Timothy 4 further - because there is sooo much more in this chapter. God bless!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Two E's in a Man's Life

I was reading in Colossians 3:16-25 today, and noticed two "E's" that a husband / father ought to pay close attention to:
1. (v.19) - for the Husbands - "...Husbands, love your wives, and do not be embittered against them..."
2. (v.21) - for the Dads - "...Fathers, do not exasperate your children, that they may not lose heart..."

Embitter & Exasperate. Just by reading these words you know they don't sound good. Let's define them:
  • Embitter - to allow bitter feelings to exist; " excite bitter feelings in..." (Merriam-Webster's dictionary online)
  • Exasperate - to cause to react in such a way that suggests acceptance of a challenge / arouse / provoke
What would cause me to become bitter against my wife? That sounds really harsh! It must be a common thing for husbands to experience, because the Apostle Paul addresses it. I think many times in the marriage relationship, there is frustration in the fact that the wife doesn't "think like" the husband - therefore leading to some real communication issues. Just because our spouse may be "wired differently" doesn't mean she has no valuable input. Differences in opinion may be a cause of excited bitter feelings. But I think there is more.

I think that many times husbands tend to not communicate properly and engage their wives in what they (husbands) are thinking about - and then when a decision is made, it is to the total surprise of the spouse. "Honey, look at this XBOX 360 I just bought on eBay!!!" <- for example. Then when the wife reacts with incredulity the husband becomes embittered against her for not "going along with the program", etc, etc. You know what I'm talking about if you've been married for any length of time.

Or how about the fact that you have spent the entire day at work thinking, dreaming and planning out the family vacation. Your wife is at home tending to the matters of the house. When you hit the door at 5:15p you proudly exclaim to your wife, "Honey, this year for vacation we're going ice-fishing in Alberta, CA!!" Your wife's jaw hits the floor as you explain how you've reserved the 'finest cabin' in a spot only accessible by snowmobiles. The cabin that doesn't have electric or running water, but does have cushioned toilet seats in the outhouse. And when your loving spouse bursts into tears and collapses across the bed, you get embittered and flip on ESPN.

Get the picture? These are some ways to be bitter towards the girl you pledged to stay with till death did you part. How do you counter these feelings? Read the first part of the verse. LOVE. Put her needs, wants and desires before your own. Live to serve her. That's how to avoid the bitterness - and you'll find intense satisfaction there as well!

If you have teen-agers you may have experienced this already in your home. But it can happen at younger ages as well. "Provoke to anger" may also be a good translation. When we refuse to parent the child's heart and simply attempt behavior modification for our own ease in life, often we can stir up feelings of anger in our children. We cause them to choose to accept the challenge of authority. We do this as dad's because we have idols in our own heart we refuse to deal with: Comfort, Acceptance, Appreciation, Respect, etc. When we don't get our idol - we become infuriated and react in such a way that cause our children to become angry and eventually "lose heart". While they have a personal responsibility to obey and honor, we make it difficult for them to do these things and actually become the catalyst for them to choose to sin. Not what I dreamed of when I dreamed of being a dad. Two excellent books I suggest for reading that will go indepth on this subject: Shepherding a Child's Heart & Age of Opportunity.

We have great responsibility as husbands and fathers. We are the leaders. Spiritually, physically, emotionally, relationally, etc. We don't have a choice. We were saddled with that by God. You might not think it's fair, but all I got to say is "Cowboy Up".

Seriously, how do you accomplish these enormous tasks of being the right husband and right dad in dealing with your family? Where do you learn this responsibility - especially if you have no good examples in your personal upbringing? The answer is found in Colossians 3:

1. God's Word - 3:16 - let it dwell in you richly
2. God's people - 3:16 - we should be teaching and admonishing one another daily with God's Word.

My prayer for myself, and anyone who would read this is that we become men of the Word. Husbands and Fathers that are not subscribing to the "two E's" found in Colossians 3. May God bless your endeavors in these areas!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Difference is Day and Night

I was reading Proverbs 4 today, and was reminded of the stark contrast between the righteous and the wicked. Here is what is said:

...But the path of the righteous is like the light of the dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day. The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know over what they stumble...

A couple of observations:
1. I was reminded of what I call the 'snowball' effect that is mentioned in Romans 6:19. As we live righteously, we gain further righteousness, etc. The same is true adversely. It's a great verse. Basically the truth is that whatever path you choose becomes like a snowball heading down hill: righteousness leads to further sanctification & sin leads to further lawlessness.
2. I was also reminded of the fact that as we progress in righteousness, the path grows more clear. It is often that I hear myself or others say, "If God just told me what to do..."; well, he does. It's getting in His Word, letting it be light unto your feet and by taking these small steps of faith, the way becomes clearer and clearer. Clarity is dependent on right living.
3. The light of the dawn. Ever watched the sun rise? It is inevitable, right? It will come - you can't hold it back! The path of the righteous is the exact same way. There is no way of keeping the light from permeating your way when you are walking righteously. Sounds like 1 John doesn't it? Walk in the light as He is in the light?
4. v.18 of Proverbs 4 just reminds me of Daniel 12:3. There is a stark difference in the life of believers from the darkness of sinners & sin. If it's not noticeable in your life - it's time to do some testing of self. (2 Cor.13:5)
5. The alternative to this bright life of righteous living is being wicked and living in darkness. Note: there is no middle ground. You can't have a little light and a lot of darkness, or a lot of light and just a little darkness in your life. Life abolishes darkness and darkness will cover light - you cannot be with Christ and hold to that which is against Him. It is impossible.
6. The terrible disadvantage of being wicked and pursuing sin is that there is no clear direction in life, nor is there any safety. No-one likes to stumble around in the darkness... and yet many do spiritually. They fall quickly into Satan's snares and don't even realize what is happening. Again, 1 John 2 tells us that darkness blinds men's eyes so that they cannot see where they are going. What a discomforting feeling & existence to follow blindly after that which will only cause harm to yourself.

There is so much in Proverbs 4 to learn. These are just a few thoughts I've had this morning. Take some time and read through it for yourself, allowing the Word of God to be used by the Spirit of God to affect the will of God in your life. (I don't think that last statement is original with me - but I can't recall who said it)

On a side note, I received a call from my older brother (see pic here) and he got a job in Missouri which God simply provided. There is no other way to explain it. He was rejoicing in God's goodness, and I am also rejoicing with him. God moves through answered prayer! I continue in prayer for him that he will continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Also, we have been experiencing torrential rain & flooding in Warsaw, IN. My basement had flooded and I spent the day yesterday using a shop vac, fans and dehumidifiers to get it back in order. The rain had started up again as I went to bed last night, and I have yet to walk back down there to check the situation. It was seeping in again as I went to bed, but I gotta get my sleep!! God is good in that we didn't experience any real serious loss with the flooding.

Well, my java mug is empty. I must either refill or get going. Have a blessed day as you continue in total dependence on your Savior!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Watch & don't forget!

In our Bible reading for today (using our church's Bible reading plan), I read Deuteronomy 6:1-18. While our intent and focus was to be on "teaching children", I drew some other applications to my own life.

In verses 1 & 2, we see the model for discipleship. The model is laid out this way:
1. (v.1) Instruction = Knowledge received. - "...this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments, which the Lord your God has commanded me to teach you..."
2. (v.1) Action = Knowledge employed. - "...that you might do them..."
3. (
v.2,7) Reproduction = Knowledge given. - " that you and your son..." & " shall teach them diligently to your sons..."

Also, throughout this passage is the abundance of blessing that comes with obedience. The Israelites would received incredible material blessing as they heeded the commands of YHWH. So too, the believer today receives incredible blessings in their obedience to God's word. No, not material blessings, but the abundant life that Jesus spoke of in John 10.

Interesting points, but let's look at what struck me the most this morning:
Deut.6:12 - " yourself, lest you forget the Lord..."

This warning comes at the end of a list of blessings for the Israelites. As they would obey God's commands about moving into the Promised Land, they would receive:
  • great and splendid cities which they did not build
  • houses full of good things which they did not fill
  • hewn cisterns which they did not dig
  • vineyards and olive trees which they did not plant
  • and, they would " and be satisfied..."
Did you catch it? In the list of the blessings from YHWH would come the very thing that could cause them to forget Him. Satisfaction. I made this notation in my Bible: With satisfaction can come complacency. It's still true today. God brings me to a point where I am enjoying my relationship with Him, things are going good... and then I forget what got me to this point. I forget the very things that are important in maintaining.

That's why Moses wrote v.12: "...then watch yourself, lest you forget the LORD who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery..." How easy it is to forget where we came from (bondage to sin) and how we received incredible blessings from God (obedience to His commands) and become complacent in our daily relationship with the Lord.

Take this warning to heart! Watch yourself! Don't forget!! The one curse found in Deuteronomy 6 comes in v.15, "...for the LORD your God in the midst of you if a jealous God; otherwise the anger of the LORD your God will be kindled against you, and He will wipe you off the face of the earth..." God jealously desires one on one commitment to obedience to Him from those He has delivered from bondage.

Think on these things, let them shape your heart.

Today I am again drinking my Dark Roast Gevalia. I use three scoops of beans in my grinder to bring this brew to perfection. (That's three scoops of java beans that get brewed into one large mug). Pretty strong, but intensely enjoyable!

I have decided to take part in Indiana's Lose 10 in 10 program. It is a program designed to encourage Hoosiers to lose ten pounds in ten weeks. Perhaps I'll post my progress as time goes by. Right now I am just trying to count calories. I may end up losing 10 in like 30 weeks!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Appearances are not what they seem...

I know you may have read my last blog entry from 2007 and thought, "Oh the daily jolt will never be a 'daily' anything..." (because I just haven't updated it much since 1/2008). However, appearances are not what they seem.

We left on 1/02 and headed to Missouri to visit family and enjoy a belated Christmas with them. This picture below is a picture of me with my brothers and mom. I'm in the black.

Appearances are not what they seem: This picture shows what appears to be a family happy, comfortable with themselves. However, this past week was something totally different. My older brother has not been a part of our family for about 25 years, and this week was the first chance to begin to develop a relationship with him. And it has been good. I spent several hours in Bible study with him and am excited about how he is growing and hungering for the Word. Pray for healing and restoration in our family - I'll just leave it at that.

Appearances are not what they seem: On the way home yesterday we stopped for a much needed bathroom break and I needed to grab some more java. I know of only one other person on this planet that makes coffee like I prefer. Two actually: my previous secretary and my current secretary. Everyone else just drinks hot water! Oh, the coffee appears to be dark and promises some sort of lift - however, when I place creamer in it, it ends up being slightly flavored sock water. Not at all a joy to drink. Now, this morning I am drinking a stiff mugful of my Dark Roast from Gevalia... and it's strong! Its the kind of coffee that barely changes color with the creamer being added... good stuff!!

As a side note as I wrap up this "daily" jolt... how are you doing in your New Year Resolutions? Now is about the time things start falling back into the 'old' routine. May I encourage you to keep at it? I am about 7 verses into my memory of Ephesians...not at all as far as I thought I would be, but farther then I was a week ago! Keep up your hard work. Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.

Keep the coffee strong and hot & prayerfully I'll see you tomorrow morning!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

I lift this psalm up as praise to God for this past week:

Psalm 100:1-5

A Psalm for Thanksgiving.

Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth.
2 Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing.
3 Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
4 Enter His gates with thanksgiving, And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him; bless His name.
5 For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting, And His faithfulness to all generations.