Sunday, December 28, 2008

New Year Musings

Here I sit contemplating the coming new year. There is so much that I want to see come to pass. The growth of the church I lead, the deepening of friendships, the wonders of seeing my daughters enter adulthood. Life is such an amazing journey. In looking back at the last year; I can celebrate so many victories and I can also see some real disappointments as well. Life is like that, good and bad, extraordinary and mundane. Much of our outlook on life is based on what will we give the most weight too. Will we focus on the failures and disappointments or will we celebrate the victories God has given us. Most of the great men of God that I have known through the years have an unshakeable belief that God has never wronged them, never a hint of victim thinking. They counted their blessings and chalked up the failures to their own shortcomings.

So much of life’s blessings depend on how we process the events around us. For example, being a sentimental guy, I was lamenting how sad I was that my oldest daughter was not able to be with us during the holidays. The Holy Spirit gently reminded me that I had five of my children and one lovely daughter-in law and three spirited grandchildren in my living room. I would be so easy to miss the blessing right under my nose.

What is the point of this rambling? In my opinion much of life’s challenges are designed to give us fresh insight into the graciousness of God. We may be heading into some difficult times ahead. All ready some who are close to us are experiencing job loss, health problems, the list can go on and on. Yet God is still unchanging, His purpose and intent for our lives are still in place.

These are not platitudes to just make us feel better; they are the very building blocks to a faith-filled life. God speaks to us in Romans 8:28-3: “and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? God is involved in our life to the point of working everything to our good. It gives me great comfort to know that I am not at the mercy of random events. It is faith in the graciousness of God that gives context to the difficulties of life. Again in Romans 5:2-5 “we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” God works all things for my good, and all the circumstances of life can point me to hope, and that hope leads us to confidence in God. I choose to celebrate the goodness of God, to recognize each and every blessing. It is a choice we all have to make. We must rehearse the faithfulness of God, remembering the small and great things He has done for us. If all we ended up with out of this life is a relationship with God and eternal life, which would be more than anyone could ask for. YET LOOK AROUND, He has given us so much more. May your holidays be filed with the blessings of God.

(Scripture quotes from New International Version)

Friday, December 12, 2008


It has been a while since I last posted. Life gets so busy.

Recently I was visiting with dear friends who lead churches. Our conversation turned towards the Bible and our approach to it. Questions arose like, do we interpret the scripture through our experience or do we accept it at face value? Is the Bible culturally relevant? I must confess that I was a little put off by the tenor of the discussion. I believe that the Bible is THE word of God. It is the measure of all things. It defines what is true and doesn't need our experience to validate it. Before the critic jumps in, I know that there are difficulties, but the problem is not in the scripture but our understanding of it. It is my conviction that we miss the mark when we sit outside the Bible to evaluate what is true. Let me explain, David in Psalm 1:1-2 writes, “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.” (NASU)

The phrase “in His law he meditates” strikes me as the posture that we should hold as we approach the Word. David is suggesting that the scripture drives our very meditations. It is where we derive the premises that drive our thought life. To often we read and then evaluate what we will accept and what we will reject, instead of letting the scripture define what is true and then embracing that truth. To many times we will say, “the scripture says, but…” and then excuse ourselves from what it says

Jesus was very straightforward on this issue. “The one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete."
(Luke 6:49 from New International Version)

James writes, “Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.” The word receive in the Greek is more than
give ear to, it involves embracing, making it one's own, and being careful not to reject it. He goes on, “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.” (James 1:21-25 NASU)

It is in the embracing and doing that we get insight. If we wait until we understand the word, we make ourselves slaves to our carnal mind. We are “to receive the word implanted”, in faith, which is able to save our souls. David understood the importance of the scripture when he wrote, in Psalm 119:9-16:“How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word. With all my heart I have sought You; do not let me wander from Your commandments. Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You. Blessed are You, O LORD; teach me Your statutes. With my lips I have told of all the ordinances of Your mouth.
I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, As much as in all riches. I will meditate on Your precepts and regard your ways. I shall delight in your statutes; I shall not forget Your word.” (NASU)

I want to be a doer of the Word, a man that receives and agrees with God, one who builds on a sure foundation.

Psalm 119:144
Your testimonies are righteous forever; Give me understanding that I may live. NASU