Friday, March 28, 2008

I swear!

I'll never forget the first time I slipped up in speech in front of my wife. We were sliding out of control towards an embankment in our little new '92 Plymouth Sundance. Graciously God allowed us only to 'bump' the embankment and all occupants in our vehicle escaped injury. I was an unbeliever then. My mouth was vile. I cursed, swore and used the Lord's name in vain like some people breathed. I could turn it on and off. I kept it mostly off around my wife, family and some church people.

Recently I have been made aware of a trend in Christian circles that takes a very lax view towards untoward speech. That concerns me. There are constant 'redefinitions' and claims that some words aren't so bad, etc, etc. But this desire of evangelicals to get closer and closer to the line of being like the world concerns me greatly.

When I was saved in 1998, God graciously allowed me to put aside my filthy communication and not take it back up again. He did that with many vices I had. I am sensitive to the use of vulgarities, swearing and cursing among God's children. I understand that many people struggle in areas that I do not. I do not attempt to be placing myself on a pedestal here. While this laxness is embraced by the church, it is not necessarily being embraced in the secular world.

I have been listening to ESPN radio's Mike & Mike in the morning. I really like Mike Golic. A former NFL player, he provides great insight into an athlete's mindset. Thursday he and a guest host were talking about the latest 'scandal' in the PGA. It's Tiger Woods 'threat' to break the neck of a photographer who snapped a picture during his backswing. The guest host and Golic couldn't agree on whether or not this was inappropriate behavior. Mike Golic actually said that in the line of athletics there were times when this would happen and you just had to kind of expect it. He then said something very interesting:

He made the statement that he played with one of the NFL's greatest "D-Linemen", Reggie White. He claimed that he never heard Reggie White curse or swear on or off the field. Staggering statement isn't it? For a lineman in the trenches, struggling against other behemoths and experiencing all kinds of pain, strains and struggles? Why didn't Reggie curse? Why wasn't he vulgar? Why didn't he swear like other athletes?

I submit it was because of his faith.

2 Corinthians 5:17 - If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away and behold, new things have come.

Think about it. Does it make sense?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Pressed out of measure and pressed to all length,
Pressed so intently, it seems beyond strength,
Pressed in the body, and pressed in the soul,
Pressed in the mind till the dark surges roll,
Pressure by foes, and pressure by friends,
Pressure on pressure till life nearly ends.

Pressed into knowing no helper but God,
Pressed into loving the staff and the rod,
Pressed into liberty where nothing clings,
Pressed into faith for impossible things,
Pressed into living a life in the Lord,
Pressed into living a Christ-life outpoured.

~author unknown

I came across this poem in an old book I found while packing up my books for my office move. I liked it's simplicity and message. Hope it blesses you.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good(?) Friday

The grass was a blend of greens and browns, still brittle and susceptible to breakage as I walked across the lawn. Stepping around marble slabs and tipped over flower vases I made my way to a maroon tent that covered a hole, it's opening yawning into the darkness of the damp earth. My shoulders shook. The wind was whipping the sides of the canvas and small flecks of frozen precipitation occasionally stung my face. My nose was running. I wished I had remembered my coat that was left hanging in my closet at the house. It didn't matter...really. I had a responsibility that stepped outside the bounds of personal comfort. My friend was hurting.
His mother had passed away on Tuesday. We had received the news around noon that day. It was to be expected, but it was still rough. Less than thirty minutes earlier we had prayed that God would sovereignly show Himself and intervene in this situation. With those words still ringing in my ears I dialed my office phone to reach my wife. My voice cracked as I relayed the news, a small tear squeezed from the corner of my eye. It wasn't the loss that I was feeling - it was a piece of my heart breaking for my friend. He was carrying quite a load.
Funeral homes. This one was an actual home, converted sometime in the past to accommodate groups of grieving people. Today we gathered together to encourage those who mourned the loss of a mother and friend. I don't think I'll ever enjoy going to a funeral home, I guess that is an impossible task. The words of the minister were blending into the swirl of thoughts that swished through my mind.
Good Friday. She had mentioned Good Friday. What was a blip in her speaking was something that smacked me in the face. In the midst of thinking and praying for my friend and his family, I had forgotten what day it was. Today is Good Friday. What is so good about this day we Christians celebrate?
Joseph. He took responsibility to lay Christ in a tomb that day. This day. This day we remember the death of Christ. Comfort was set aside to perform the tasks of burial. It had to be tough. Death never is easy. Not even for believers. Good-byes are rough. Jesus was laid in a tomb, perhaps a last look over a shoulder and then... good-bye. He was gone. Gone.
My friend turned from the couple who was speaking to him, I grabbed his hand. I gave him a hug and told him that I loved him and would be there for him. These times are difficult. His eyes were moist as he began to leave the area of the tent. He stopped, looked back and shed some tears. It was a good-bye.
It is ironic that we call today "Good" Friday. What's the good in death? There is nothing but pain, sorrow and loss with separation. Is there any good? Who cruelly decides these things?
Sunday. It's coming. When the first rays of sunlight encroach the darkness of the tomb, they will reveal a void. The tomb will be empty. Gone. Christ will have risen. He will show Himself to hundreds of followers before transitioning to His rightful place at the side of His Father.
That's the hope we have as believers. There will be a day when we all, dead and alive, will live eternally with our Savior. The pains and struggles of this life will give way to the joy and peace of the next. The joy begins with the pains of death. Seeing the whole picture assures us that this day we celebrate as Christians is in fact...good. It will be worth it all - someday.
Why? Because Christ went before us. Victoriously.

For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "Death is swallowed up in victory". Death where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore my beloved brethern, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. ~1 Corinthians 15

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Lost in the Middle

About a month ago I turned 40 years old. I know - it's harder for me to believe. I picked up a book, at the Biblical Counseling Conference I attended in Lafayette, IN last month, written by Paul David Tripp. (Also the author of Age of Opportunity - one of my fav parenting books). I certainly don't consider myself as one who is in the throes of a mid-life crisis - but there is certainly been some time given to reflection on how my life has been used up to this moment.

Considering I lived the first 30 years for self & Satan, (yeah, it sounds harsh - but that is Truth), I now desire to live the rest of my life for Christ and eternity. This book is helping me realize how most folks view mid-life, how they interpret what they are going through and how to react and respond in a biblical manner.

Nobody is fond of growing older - at least in Western civilization. I think that's an improper way of viewing life. God grants us incredible grace to weather every stage of life and He expects us to mature in every aspect. I want to use this time in my life to demonstrate that I am consumed with pleasing God, passionately following His Word and submitted to His Holy Spirit.

I don't have to be "Lost in the Middle". I can revel in the grace of my God and persevere for as long as He sovereignly determines. Pick up a copy of this book here:

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Blinded by the Idols

Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts, and have put right before their faces the stumbling blocks of their iniquity. Should I be consulted by them at all? Therefore speak to them and tell them, 'Thus says the Lord God, "Any man of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, puts right before his face the stumbling block of his iniquity, and then comes to the prophet, I the Lord will be brought to give him an answer in the matter in view of the multitude of his idols, in order to lay hold of the hearts of the house of Israel who are estranged from Me through all their idols." ' Therefore say to the house of Israel, 'Thus says the Lord God, "Repent and turn away from your idols, and turn your faces away from all your abominations." ' ~Ezekiel 14

I set up idols.

Idols cause me to stumble in sin.

Idols blind me to the reality of making a choice to be righteous.

Idols separate me from God.

When I haven't dealt with my idols of my heart and I seek God's face in a matter - all He cares about is getting rid of my idols.

Nothing else matters.

All He sees are idols.

He wants to see my face. My eyes.

He wants my heart.

He demands that I not give it to another.

Idols take His rightful place in my life.

Idols estrange me from Him.

When I turn from my idols, I will in turn see God.

When I keep the idols in front of my face, I have a lack of righteous perception in my life.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

On Cars, conversion and coffee...

The car died. It wasn't peaceful or quiet. Rather it was noisy and loud and wet. Yes, wet. Actually the whole car didn't die, just the water-pump. I pulled into the Walmart parking lot today after my 6:00am appointment, the car idled very loudly and with a continuous "whoosh, whoosh" noise. A couple of clanks later and I turned it off. As I got out I heard the wonderful sound of anti-freeze pouring onto the pavement. Cool... or hot, as it were. My senior pastor graciously brought a jug of water which allowed me to drive back towards town and the "shop" where I quickly parked the ol' Taurus. They said they'd have it done by the weekend. That'd be nice - except that means I have to pick it up. Yeah, no cash-ola in the bank account. God sure does allow things to happen at the precise time when we have no other choice but to trust Him, doesn't he? Great thing is this: I have no frustration with this, no anxiety or anger or any like emotion. It simply is another time in life where God will show His sovereign provision for us. He graciously and wondrously kept me safe from any kind of accident with the car, kept me from damaging the car mechanically, allowed me to be very close to the shop when the water-pump died and allowed help to arrive in a timely manner. Isn't God good? He is!!

How 'bout a verse to meditate on? 1 Peter 1:18 states, "...knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver and gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers..." Do you recall how different life became upon your salvation? When God sovereignly drew you to Himself - life changed!! No longer is there futility in the living, but now we have purpose!! I'm so thankful for the work of Christ in my life!

Today I'm drinking Folgers "coffee". I put it in quotations because I doubt its authenticity. Ha! It does contain caffeine and I did brew it strong today - funny, no-one mentioned that in the office today. Hmmm... must not be strong enough! lol. Good stuff!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Love this!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Arrogance Equation.

I was reading in Proverbs 13 today and decided to blog on this verse: (v.10)
Through presumption comes nothing but strife,
but with those who receive counsel is wisdom.
It is pretty much self-explanatory, but a couple things to add to your meditation: The word 'presumption' in the NASB has the idea of insolence, pride or arrogance. How often we stubbornly refuse to listen to anyone else's thoughts on a matter. How often we assume to have it all together, or know it all. The end result invariably will be some sort of disagreement, dispute or discussion that no doubt will leave bitter feelings, anger or harsh words.
On the other hand we have humility demonstrated by asking for counsel. Too many people fear that this petition for advice makes them 'look' like they don't have it all together, are inferior somehow or just plain ignorant of life. I have counseled many that have actually stated that they were embarrassed to seek counsel for that very reason. What a deception of Satan! We should eagerly seek the Godly counsel of those wise men and women that God has placed in our lives!!
My encouragement to you (and me) is to humbly seek the Godly wisdom that God has sovereignly placed in our lives and not be so arrogant so as to assume that we know it all. Its an equation that quickly reduces the conflict in our lives!
Arrogance = Conflict and Humility = Wisdom.

Now, go let this simple truth impact your life!

God bless.