You Must Take That Risk

[I am feeling a little feisty after reading something today. That “something” is not important but I thought I would just leave these thoughts right here for you.]

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If by standing firm for biblical truth means risking offending someone(s), you must stand firm and take that risk; not with the end purpose of offending that someone(s) but to remain faithful to God’s Word.

If by standing firm for biblical truth means adversely affecting a relationship you have with someone, you must stand firm and take that risk; not with the end purpose of ending that relationship but to remain faithful to God’s Word.

If by standing firm for biblical truth means certain persecution by others, you must stand firm and take that risk; not with the end purpose of seeking persecution but to remain faithful to God’s Word.

If by standing firm for biblical truth means that you will be labeled as being irrelevant, oppressive, divisive, exclusive, etc, you must stand firm and take that risk; not with the end purpose of seeking attention for some agenda but to remain faithful to God’s Word.

 26 “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.
[Matthew 10:26-33]

And so…

Fear not

Be faithful

Stand firm

for you do not stand alone.

For by standing firm for biblical truth we bring glory to God, and after all, isn’t that why we are here?

[Just some thoughts from a rambling, feisty pastor]

Rant done

The Pastor -|—

It Could Be Well

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If only

If only people would stop chasing after gods.
If only people would fall into the hands of God Almighty.
If only people would trust Jesus as Lord and Savior.

If only

If only people would see themselves for who they really are.
If only people would stop placing themselves before others.
If only people would worship the One true God.

If only

If only people would make Jesus the priority.
If only people would bask in the Word of God.
If only people would seek the Holy Spirit for guidance.

If only

If only people would fear the Lord and serve him.
If only people would obey the Lord and not rebel.
If only our leaders would seek wisdom that only comes from the Lord.

If only…

The Pastor -|—

One-liners

Who doesn’t like a good one-liner?

I, for one, have never been very good at coming up with one-liners on the spot and therefore I have much respect for those who have a quick wit. Most of my “on-the-spot” one-liners are thought of moments after the moment has past and thus my one-liner because irrelevant.

One-liners can be funny or destructive. They can draw people in. One-liners can emphasize a point, but whatever the case, they are not meant to be deep and necessarily thought provoking but rather meant to pacify a moment and then move on. That may serve a purpose for a short time but if you want something deeper you need a longer conversation with that person. You need more than just one line.

For those who are friends with me on Facebook and Twitter, you have grown accustomed to me posting “one-liners” (a.k.a short Bible verses) on (nearly) a daily basis. Lately I have gone away from that; not because I am not reading my Bible but because of a Facebook post from a friend that I read a while back about “one-liners”. The post went something like this:

Never read just one verse in the Bible. Read a bunch of them. Read a paragraph; a chapter or more.

The idea of that post is to communicate that by reading only one verse you can lose important context. And as many of you know, you can take nearly any Bible verse and twist it to mean something completely different if you pull it out of it’s original context. Therefore you need more information.

So…

I am doing something a little different now on social media. I am not ceasing my one-liners but rather giving one-liners based on my reading of a whole chapter of the Bible and then directing people to that chapter to “verify” and/or read the context themselves. For me personally, this has proven to be a great spiritual discipline as I reflect on a chapter and then formulate a summary in my head to share. Instead of a scripture one-liner I am sharing a chapter one-liner. My attempt is to be more biblical faithful.

Sure, there may be certain verses that speak to you and ones that are worthy for further reflection, but do so in context. Reflect on your verse but read the paragraph and/or the chapter that contains that verse to make sure you don’t miss the intended meaning. Get the context and by do so, you will be more faithful to scripture and more faithful about your spiritual growth.

One-liners can be good and grab attention, but make sure your focusing attention on the right things.

Praise be to God!

The Pastor -|—

Gazing and Reflecting: A Holy Moment

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I was captivated by this figure from the first moment I saw it and was honored that my wife’s grandfather wanted me to have it. It’s a simple piece; beautifully carved in Mexico that, by some divine providence, has made it’s way to my study; where it now sits (actually, it’s kneeling). The figure is seemingly bowing it’s head in prayer as it meditates on scripture; showing me a faithful engagement with God through his holy Word.

The figure’s face is determined, peaceful and focused as it holds the Word of God. I Imagine him reflecting on a passage he just read and listening; listening intently for the voice of God, hence the determined face. He’s at peace because not only is he cradling the Bible but he feels cradled by the promises of God that he is reflecting on, hence the peaceful face. He also seems to be in his own little world as he meditates on God’s Word; not drawn away by the lure of cultural forces, hence the focused face.

I gaze at this figure and notice the cross dangling at his knees. For him it is not just some piece of jewelry or something to adorn his outfit. The cross is something that brings him great joy and hope (as it does me), thus the attitude of worship that I also see emanating from his face.

I gaze at this figure and I almost feel guilty; like I am invading his privacy as he worships. Sounds weird and goofy and maybe a little disturbing, but as I am gazing I notice something else. I notice that I am being drawn into worship as I reflect on him reflecting and on whom he is reflecting. I find myself drawn to enter a time of prayer; engaging God through scripture; and I like this. For there is much the world wants me to embrace as truth but I refuse to embrace that truth. For me, THE Truth is God almighty through Jesus Christ my Lord. And that Truth is found in God’s most holy and inerrant Word.

I gaze at this figure and see a person; loved by God and loving his God. I see a person who would readily acknowledge that he is a redeemed sinner. I see a person who devotion to God is not only in his moments on his knees but in every moment of his life. And I like what I see.

I gaze at this figure and see a beautifully crafted piece of wood but I also see a God who loves me beyond anything this world is able or willing to do. Weird, goofy, disturbing; call it what you may, but for me, I will gaze and listen and pray and listen and worship and listen and read and listen and remember and listen and…

Holy God, I am thankful for the many ways You speak to me and proclaim Your amazing love to me. You do so through Your most holy Word. You do so through people in my life. You do so through “usual” means which just shows You are not limited by anything or anyone. Thank you, Father, for the right to be called a child of Yours, through Jesus Christ my Lord, Amen.

As you gaze at that figure, what do YOU notice?

The Pastor -|—

Holy Parenting (Ephesians 6:4)

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I claim no expertise in parenting but rather, I claim a strong desire and passion to raise my children to know and love God through Jesus Christ. And that is why I am so drawn to the above verse. I am constantly thinking about ways to be a good example but also thinking about what my children are seeing in me. Children are going to learn about God from their parents. Hopefully they learn a lot at Sunday school and Bible camp and vacation Bible school, but children will learn about loving and living with God by watching their parents.

So parents be mindful.

But not just parents. Church, be mindful. The children are watching you too. Whether you have children or not, they are watching you. When you are in worship; children are watching you. When you are interacting with others; children are watching you. Whether you like it or not you are being recorded by a child’s built in video camera in their brains, so be mindful.

But one of the biggest misconceptions in parenting is that as parents we need to be their child’s “best friend”. Children don’t need that. They have plenty of people to be best friends with. According to scripture, children need parents that will discipline them and teach them to know the Lord.

Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him. (Proverbs 13:24 ESV)

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t share this verse in order to advocate beating your child. This verse is about a parent’s God-given responsibility to discipline a child when they go astray. How a child is to be disciplined is something for another blog post. But here, parents are not called to be best friends. Parents are called to raise their children to walk the narrow path; disciplining their children out of love not anger.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6 ESV)

And a parent may actually do this but see their child stray from the faith. If this happens, be patient, you have planted a seed. So don’t lose heart. Keep training them in the way they should go. How this training goes will vary from parent to parent but the common thread is, don’t be their best friend, be a faithful example of the Christian life. Love your children but even more than that, love God.

I have said this a number of times but it bears repeating:
The best thing a parent can do for their child(ren) is to love God more than them.

That right there says a lot. Love God above all things and all people and as a parent, you will do fine 🙂

Father God, parenting is hard work. Grant Your Spirit that parents and other adults may have the wisdom it takes to pass the faith on to the next generation. In Jesus name, Amen

The Pastor -|—

Suit Up (Ephesians 6)

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Suit up, Christian:
~ Belt of truth
~ Breastplate of righteousness
~ Shoes – readiness given by the Gospel of peace
~ Shield of faith
~ Helmet of salvation
~ Sword of the Spirit

I guarantee that you have nothing in your wardrobe that comes close to this. Nothing that can clothe you to face the Devil’s schemes. Nothing that can prepare you for battle like what God gives you through faith in Jesus. So suit up with what God gives and be strong in the strength that only God gives.

And then, according to the author of Ephesians, pray and keep alert. Don’t become complacent. And also make supplications for all the Saints as we fight the fight of faith; as we do battle in this fallen world.

There is much persecution going on in the world for Christians and it is only going to get worse. But if you have suited up in the armor of God, there is nothing to worry about. And praise be to God for that.

Mighty God, may we stand strong in your strength and may the strength we show bring You glory. Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Love and Obedience (John 14:15)

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http://bible.com/59/jhn.14.15.ESV

It has been a John 14 kind of day as this chapter has been stuck (in a good way) in my brain and heart.

I was out visiting this morning; bringing communion to a couple members at a nursing home and assisted living facility out of town. During the course of the communion service I read from John 14 (since it has been on my mind today) and verse 15 struck me so I tried to make some mental notes on the fly. When I got home, I immediately created the above image through my YouVersion Bible app on my tablet and reflected on this some more. A few thoughts about this verses came to mind:

~ Obedience is a joy because of the one you are obeying.
~ Obedience is trusting the person you are obeying.
~ Obedience is not something to avoid consequences.
~ Obedience comes naturally because of the one whom you love.
~ Obedience out of love is not demanded but freely given.
~ Obedience out of duty is not love.
~ Obedience out of love is not about you but rather the one whom you love.

This is really a beautiful verse in the midst of a beautiful chapter. The love of Jesus should lead you to freely and joyfully obey all that God has commanded. For the one you truly love, you want to please, not because of fear of punishment for disobeying, but because you don’t want to hurt the one whom you love.

Just throwing this out there for you to ponder and reflect on.
Go…

The Pastor -|—