Archive for March, 2008
March 18th, 2008 | Comments Off | Posted in » Bible in a Year
Psalm Tuesday again…
Notes from today’s readings:
Psalm 19 (NIV)
1The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
3There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.
4Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,
5which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
6It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is hidden from its heat.
7The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
8The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
9The fear of the LORD is pure,
The ordinances of the LORD are sure
and altogether righteous.
10They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the comb.
11By them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
12Who can discern his errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.
13Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then will I be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.
14May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
This Psalm speaks quite powerfully to me. I don’t know that I can specifically identify why, but it does.
Perhaps it’s the fact that I most definitely appreciate the way God’s creation demonstrates His majesty, and that there’s something really powerful about the beauty and enormity of nature that makes us reflect on God as creator of all things. Whether it be the beauty of a blue sky dotted with clouds, the magnificence of natural wonders like the Grand Canyon, the fury of a summer thunderstorm, the tranquility of the star-filled night sky, or even just the sight and scents of a painted meadow of spring wildflowers… nature, the work of God’s hands, draws us to thoughts of Him. I like how poetically the Psalmist conveys this… “the heavens declare the glory of God”, “the skies proclaim the work of his hands”, “there is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.”
Perhaps it’s all the statements about God’s direction for us and the impact they have on our lives. The Psalmists words are simply encouraging… “the law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul”, “the statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple”, “the precepts of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart”, “the commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes”, “the ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous”. I don’t know that we often think about how fortunate we are to have God’s words available to us, and how they can be of benefit to our lives.
In thinking about this Psalm, though, I think the closing verse is the key for me. After thinking about the glory of the Lord by considering His creation, after considering the joy of the Lord that comes through having His words available to us, and after considering the benefits of following God… we have this statement in verse 14:
14May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Despite all my faults, failures, struggles, and short-comings… I know it’s my heart’s desire to follow God. Though I know the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart are most definitely not always pleasing to God, He is still my Rock and Redeemer, and I can pray those words to Him with all honesty and sincerity. I DO want to be pleasing to God in all ways.
While we’re not to grow complacent in our faith and be satisfied with anything less than holiness, somehow I think that having that heart’s desire to be pleasing to God at the center of our lives is of higher importance than just about anything else in regard to our faith. We can have all the discipline in the world in regard to avoiding sin and doing all the good deeds God expects us to do… but have all of it be meaningless if it’s not done with the right heart and motivation.
So I ask… is it your heart’s desire that “the words of [your] mouth and the meditation of [your] heart be pleasing in [God's] sight”?
March 17th, 2008 | Comments Off | Posted in » My Life / Family, Quote of the Day
As Nancy and I were talking tonight, she was sharing with me about how she had spent quite a bit of time today sharing the real meaning of Easter with Jeffrey, Jenna, and Allison. As we discussed how difficult it is to teach them the truth of Easter in the face of our culture’s message about it, she said something that I thought was pretty profound. When she said, “Sometimes I really need a blog” as a follow-up comment, I knew I had to post it here.
When did death, burial, and resurrection turn into fluffy bunnies, cute chicks, and colored eggs?
We may be Southern Baptists, and this may go against our latest confessional statement… but I’ll say the one thing I can say in response.
Preach it, baby!
March 17th, 2008 | Comments Off | Posted in » Bible in a Year
Back in Judges today. Notes follow:
Judges 7:1-8 (NIV)
1Early in the morning, Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) and all his men camped at the spring of Harod. The camp of Midian was north of them in the valley near the hill of Moreh. 2The LORD said to Gideon, “You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her, 3announce now to the people, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’ ” So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained.
4But the LORD said to Gideon, “There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will sift them for you there. If I say, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go; but if I say, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.”
5So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the LORD told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues like a dog from those who kneel down to drink.” 6Three hundred men lapped with their hands to their mouths. All the rest got down on their knees to drink.
7The LORD said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the other men go, each to his own place.” 8So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites to their tents but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others.
Judges 7:16-22 (NIV)
16Dividing the three hundred men into three companies, he placed trumpets and empty jars in the hands of all of them, with torches inside.
17“Watch me,” he told them. “Follow my lead. When I get to the edge of the camp, do exactly as I do. 18When I and all who are with me blow our trumpets, then from all around the camp blow yours and shout, ‘For the LORD and for Gideon.’ ”
19Gideon and the hundred men with him reached the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just after they had changed the guard. They blew their trumpets and broke the jars that were in their hands. 20The three companies blew the trumpets and smashed the jars. Grasping the torches in their left hands and holding in their right hands the trumpets they were to blow, they shouted, “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!” 21While each man held his position around the camp, all the Midianites ran, crying out as they fled.
22When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the LORD caused the men throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords.
Isn’t this a cool passage? God uses only three hundred men to defeat an entire army… without them even drawing a sword.
I wonder what Gideon’s men thought when he told them the plan. I wonder what kind of faith it must have taken them to trust God enough to go into battle without any sort of real armaments. I wonder what the men thought when they saw God conquer the Midianites in such an abnormal manner.
Most of all, though? I wonder how they could do anything other than walk with God for the rest of their days after witnessing such a miraculous victory (which we soon find happens).
Isn’t that our nature though? To see God work miraculously… to have a mountaintop spiritual experience… then immediately turn our backs on God once again?
I don’t know about you, but I long for consistency in my walk with Christ, yet find it difficult to obtain. I know there would be no mountaintops without valleys, but often I think I’d trade all of them for the ability to walk consistently with God.
What about you? What do you do that helps your walk with Christ be more consistent?
March 16th, 2008 | 1 Comment | Posted in » Bible in a Year
Back in Genesis again to start week 7.
Genesis 25:29-33 (NIV)
29Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. 30He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom.)
31Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”
32“Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?”
33But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob.
Genesis 26:7-9 (NIV)
7When the men of that place asked him about his wife, he said, “She is my sister,” because he was afraid to say, “She is my wife.” He thought, “The men of this place might kill me on account of Rebekah, because she is beautiful.”
8When Isaac had been there a long time, Abimelech king of the Philistines looked down from a window and saw Isaac caressing his wife Rebekah. 9So Abimelech summoned Isaac and said, “She is really your wife! Why did you say, ‘She is my sister’?”
Isaac answered him, “Because I thought I might lose my life on account of her.”
Genesis 27:30-35 (NIV)
30After Isaac finished blessing him and Jacob had scarcely left his father’s presence, his brother Esau came in from hunting. 31He too prepared some tasty food and brought it to his father. Then he said to him, “My father, sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing.”
32His father Isaac asked him, “Who are you?”
”I am your son,” he answered, “your firstborn, Esau.”
33Isaac trembled violently and said, “Who was it, then, that hunted game and brought it to me? I ate it just before you came and I blessed him â€” and indeed he will be blessed!”
34When Esau heard his father’s words, he burst out with a loud and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me â€” me too, my father!”
35But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessing.”
Today’s reading was very interesting to me. People God chose to use… all doing things most of us would consider less than honorable, if not sin.
Jacob, stealing his brother’s birthright. Isaac, scared for his life to the point he’d claim his wife as his sister. Rebekah and Jacob, conspiring to steal Isaac’s blessing of Esau.
I have a hard time believing God condoned all of this, but I do find it encouraging to know that people He chooses to bless and use don’t have to be perfect.
March 15th, 2008 | Comments Off | Posted in » Bible in a Year
We conclude week 6 back in Romans again.
In lieu of providing a lot of thoughts of my own tonight, I think it’s best to just provide scripture. Romans 12 is a chapter so full of clear instruction for Christians… read this and think about what this means for your life and your walk with Christ.
Romans 12 (NIV)
1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God â€” this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is â€” his good, pleasing and perfect will.
3For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
9Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20On the contrary:
”If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
March 15th, 2008 | 2 Comments | Posted in » My Life / Family, Pictures
Anyone play? No… not the game, but real guitar.
I can’t claim to be much of a guitar hero (I’m far from great), but I have been playing now for about 1 1/2 years, and have loved every moment of it. I wish I would have started playing when I was young.
Anyway, while in Springfield this week for a meeting, I had some spare time to do some shopping. I’ve been thinking about picking up an electric guitar and amp for some time now, so I took a look at a couple music stores to see what was available. Of course, I thought I was mainly going out of curiosity, but after being pleasantly surprised after having taxes figured last week, I couldn’t resist. I picked one up.
Here’s my new rig… a Line 6 Spider III 15 W amplifier, and an Ibanez GAX70 guitar.
Let me tell you, I’ve enjoyed playing acoustic. But electric is simply a BLAST to play!
Any other real guitar heros (even wannabes) out there?
March 14th, 2008 | Comments Off | Posted in » Bible in a Year
Back to the gospel of Matthew….
Here’s my notes from today’s reading:
Matthew 14:22-31 (NIV)
22Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
25During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
I don’t know about you, but most of the time I seem to have big problems even getting out of my boat to step out in faith to follow Jesus. For some reason, I generally look at the condition of the seas before I’ll even consider it, and allow myself to be dissuaded by even the most gentle of breezes.
What is it about our frail human nature that makes faith so difficult sometimes (if not even most of the time)? Why is faith and trust… in our Savior, no less… so difficult?
Shouldn’t He be the one we’re most willing to trust and follow?
Matthew 15:21-28 (NIV)
21Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.”
23Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”
24He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
25The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
26He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”
27“Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”
28Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.
I love the persistence of faith demonstrated by the Canaanite woman… what an example for all of us!
Matthew 16:24-26 (NIV)
24Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?
Think about that passage for a while. Seriously. No comments I could give about it could possibly do it justice.
Okay… did you do it? What is God saying to you through it?