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Showing posts from 2019

Two Things Needed

If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
Galatians 5:25

The two most important things in our Christian journey are the life of faith and the walk of faith. The person who grasps this is not far from being a master in experimental [experiential] theology, for they are vital points to a Christian. You will never find true faith unaccompanied by true godliness; on the other hand, you will never discover a truly holy life that does not have at its root a living faith relying upon the righteousness of Christ.
We must not fail to understand that we cannot seek the one without the other! There are some who cultivate faith and forget holiness; and so they claim they have the truth, the true orthodox faith, but fail to remember Jesus condemned the Pharisees for their belief in their own righteousness.It was not enough to hold to the truth in religiosity without the grace and mercy of God in practice!
There are others who believe that truth and faith aren’t possible.They hold …

Loved In Christ

According to Charles Spurgeon (yes I know I use him a lot, but he was a master with words and his theology is impeccable), we are In Christ - Objects of Divine Satisfaction
He has blessed us in the Beloved.
Ephesians 1:6

What a state of privilege! It includes our justification before God, but the term "blessed" in the Greek means more than that. It signifies that we are the objects of divine satisfaction, even of divine delight. How marvelous that we--worms, mortals, sinners--should be made the objects of divine love!
But it is only "in the Beloved." Some Christians seem to be accepted in their own experience-at least that is their apprehension. When their spirit is lively and their hopes bright, they think God accepts them, for they feel so high, so heavenly-minded, so drawn above the earth!  But when their souls cleave to the dust, they are the victims of the fear that they are no longer accepted. 
If they could only see that all their high joys do not exalt them, and…

Two Things Are Needed

To live by faith is to live in Christ, and to live by Christ, and to live for Christ.  This I believe.  My life has been a journey of faith, but not a smooth one.  I have had my ups and downs, and with that successes and failures.  Turning 70 years old should mean one can relax, but I find that instead of sitting back on my merits, I want to press on with a faith life that is actively living in, by and for Christ.  Some scripture to point us towards the "musing" below.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
Galatians 5:25

 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption.  1 Corinthians 1:30 
 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

Hebrews 12:14
Once again, Spurgeon wrote an article based on the following notes, so I take no credit for the ideas, but I did re-write some of it to reflect my own thoug…

The Last Journey

I don't have words to write this week.  My heart aches at the loss of a close friend.  Of all the people in the world, our friends are the ones who selected us and we them.  Family is blood and genes, but friends are soul and spirit.  For most of us, there are only a "few" real friends.  While Facebook may tell you you have hundreds of friends, you know better.  There are only a few who walk with you in this journey of life...and only a few who you really want to walk alongside...and only a few who will last a lifetime.  When their life has ended, we cannot help but feel a part of us has been taken too.  
Like before, he has gone on before me and I await the day I will join him.  

"All their life in this world and all their adventures had only been the cover and the title page: now, at last, they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before."   

Make Every Effort

I remember reading Dallas Willard's "Divine Conspiracy" almost 20 years ago and that book has affected me in more ways than I can count.  What he presented was an argument for the "NOW" of the Kingdom of God.  Not a future Kingdom that I had been taught, but a reality of the life of the Spirit in the church that transforms not only the individual who puts their faith in Christ as Savior, but also transforms their entire world around them.  This was the "Divine Conspiracy" he wrote of.  

It saturated my mind, heart, spirit and soul and took me from the arm-chair intelligent side of Christ to the "walk along-side" as a disciple of mine in my Kingdom.

The book is one of my "All-time-Favorite" reads and one I have recommended to people in all phases of life.

Here are a few gems from Dallas writing:

“Suppose our failures occur, not in spite of what we are doing, but precisely because of it.” 

“We don't believe something by merely saying …

Look and See what God has done/is doing

Yesterday a friend visited and we talked about worship.This summer we’re exploring several of the Psalms and what they display more than anything is that no matter the circumstances, no matter the troubles, no matter the difficulties, no matter the joys and successes...all things come from God and so in all things we worship and stand amazed at his work.
This next Sunday we’ll mine the riches of Psalm 90.The author reminds us of WHY we worship God...
Psalm 90:1-3
1  Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.
2  Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
3  You turn men back to dust, saying, "Return to dust, O sons of men."

Why do we worship?Because He is the Eternal God, the Creator of the universe, including us, and we are part of his creation.The Psalmist reminds us in vs 12:
Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
That’s the key...can we SEE?…

Looking to Jesus and Not Ourselves

In my many readings I ran across this short, but compelling, devotion by Spurgeon.  He reminds us that our relationship to God is not by anything that we can do, but is solely because of what Jesus has done for us.  In a day when there is so much confusion about what it means to be a believer, a follower, a disciple of Jesus, this can help us clarify both the beginning and the ending.  Spurgeon reminds us to focus on one thing:  Looking to Jesus. Hebrews 12:2 It is always the Holy Spirit's work to turn our eyes away from self to Jesus. But Satan's work is just the opposite; he is constantly trying to make us look at ourselves instead of Christ. He insinuates, "Your sins are too great for pardon; you have no faith; you do not repent enough; you will never be able to continue to the end; you do not have the joy of His children; you have such a wavering hold on Jesus." All these are thoughts about self, and we will never find comfort or assurance by looking within. But the…

Delight in God Our Shepherd

Psalm 23 served as the place of teaching this last Sunday.  While most of us know the Psalm so well we forget that it's not a funeral Psalm (as it is used in funerals so often), but rather a Psalm of Confession - David's confession of God as His Shepherd...over the whole of his life..through the good times, the bad times, the ugly times...God has faithfully directed his ways through all of the Valleys of life.

I ended it with summarizing the last verse as "the hound dogs of heaven".  "Surely, goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever".

I ran across this some time ago, and it sums the Psalm up beautifully: The Lord is my Shepherd = That’s relationship. I shall not want = That’s supply. He makes me to lie down in green pastures = That’s rest. He leads me beside still waters = That’s refreshment. He restores my soul = That’s healing. He leads me in the paths of righteousness = That’s guidance. …

The Gift of Peace Within

I was sawing wood yesterday and thinking about lots of things.  Recently I asked the Elders to release me from full-time and allow me to work part-time and hire my son to be an assistant to me in order for the church's teaching needs, and pastoral needs to still be met.  The other choice was to retire, step away from ministry altogether and let the church get on with the task of finding another Pastor.  As I cut wood I found myself thinking about all sorts of things in relation to this.  Most people were happy that I chose to stay on and not retire, but there were a few who did not.  I care about people...and yet most of the thoughts I had yesterday were negative.  Did I do the right thing?  Should I have done more?  Emotions surface - sadness, self-pity, regret, guilt - to name a few.  

There is a word that I was introduced to years ago in reading Henri Nouwen.  It is the word Nepsis.  Nepsis means to be "alert, attentive, watchful, especially in relation to our spirit and so…

Work as Duty and Sacred

One of the hardest things I ever did was travel to Zambia, the town of Chingola and there along with 25 other European/Americans and a dozen or so Zambians, built an orphanage.  It was work without the supervision of safety under OSHA.  We used a lot of means that were not safe at all in climbing, use of tools, and equipment.  Scaffolding made out of leftover wood pieces cobbled together and used to work high.  I remember the afternoon where it all came tumbling one was hurt. 

It was an adventure in working manually.  We made our own bricks out of muck, cement, and water.  They were made in the shape of bricks like we buy in the States, but laid out in the sun for a day so that they would harden into bricks to build walls with.

We worked was a duty, a job to be done.  No one complained, everyone was exhausted at the end of the day.  We slept in grass-covered huts built especially for our team.  They poured small cement pads before we arrived and we put …

So Will You!

This last week I had another eye set-back.  The left eye had a retinal tear, which meant I had to return to the retinal specialist for laser surgery.  I have to admit I was really down.  The surgery isn't that painful, but it's not fun either.  The after-effects are lots of soreness, floaters that don't go away, some bleeding and I did very little except sit around feeling sorry for myself.

This morning as I awoke I started to think and pray - Lord, everything happens for a purpose in my life and you said that it was all for the good...but I'm struggling to find the good.  I picked up my Spurgeon morning devotional and he must have been writing it to me.

And the king crossed the brook Kidron.  2 Samuel 15:23 David passed that gloomy brook when fleeing with his sorry company from his traitorous son. The man after God's own heart was not exempt from trouble; in fact, his life was full of it. He was both the Lord's Anointed and the Lord's Afflicted.…

A Summer in the Psalms - Getting Started

Last week I began a teaching series I'm calling "A Summer in the Psalms".

Of all of the books of the Bible, the Psalms are breath-taking in scope and substance.  There are 150 individual Psalms, but in reality, there really are 5 Books of Psalms.  For centuries, the Church met to sing the Psalms - called the Psalter - because the Psalms are poetic, rhythmic, structured to be used for Worship and Prayer more than give us information.  Yet the Psalms also give us instruction, which is why they fit into the Wisdom literature of the Bible.  More than anything the Psalms point us to Jesus Christ.  He is the Messianic promise of so many of the Psalmists as they cry out to God for deliverance and Redemption.

A couple of notes to you if you're interested in learning more of the Psalms.  First, follow along this summer as we teach the Psalms.  You can listen to messages on our website, under the teaching heading.

Secondly, read the Psalms.  Begin today an…

Jesus became a curse for us

One image, one aspect, of the atonement, has receded in our day almost into obscurity. We have been made aware of present-day attempts to preach a more gentle and kind gospel. In our effort to communicate the work of Christ more kindly we flee from any mention of a curse inflicted by God upon his Son. We shrink in horror from the words of the prophet Isaiah (chap. 53) that describe the ministry of the suffering servant of Israel and tells us that it pleased the Lord to bruise him. Can you take that in? Somehow the Father took pleasure in bruising the Son when he set before him that awful cup of divine wrath. How could the Father be pleased by bruising his Son were it not for his eternal purpose through that bruising to restore us as his children? But there is the curse motif that seems utterly foreign to us, particularly in this time in history. When we speak today of the idea of a curse, what do we think of? We think perhaps of a voodoo witch doctor that places pins in a doll made t…

Why Doubt?

As we journey closer to Easter, it is good to remember what Jesus has done for us.  This morning I read from a daily reading by Charles Haddon Spurgeon - one of the greatest preachers in all history.  Pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, England in the mid to late 19th century, he was known as the prince of preachers...and this is one of the demonstrations of why that was so.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. [2 Corinthians 5:21]
Mourning Christian, why are you weeping? Are you mourning over your own sins and failings? Look to your perfect Lord, and remember, you are complete in Him. You are in God's sight as perfect as if you had never sinned; more than that, the Lord our Righteousness has clothed you with a royal robe of righteousness, which is wholly undeserved—you have the righteousness of God.
You who are mourning by reason of inbred sin and depravity, remember, none of your sins can condemn y…

Be Still and Know

It's one of my favorite hymns,
"Be Still my Soul, the Lord is on thy side bear patiently the cross of grief or shame Leave to thy God to order and provide In every change, he faithful will remain Be still my soul, thy best, thy heavenly friend Through thorny ways, leads to a joyful end
It's one of my most needed needs in my spiritual life:   "Be Still and know that I am God"  (Psalm 46:10)
By nature I'm restless...not easy for me to just sit quietly in anything.  I like to be active, doing something, being productive...or at least engaged in watching.  I strain to be still before God... he's quiet, and I'm impatient. When Jesus said,  "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for He has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives, sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim a year of favor from the Lord."
He ended this with the words:  "today, this is being fulfilled in your listen…

Sympathy or Compassion

This last Sunday I spoke of what it means to know Christ - not only as the Gospel promises us that he saves us, by Grace alone, through faith alone, in his own work alone - but also in personally knowing HIM, as our mediator... the one who stands before the Father on our behalf, making intercession with the Father for us.
The author of Hebrews says, For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. [Hebrews 4:15-16]
You notice the words "sympathize with our weakness". Sympathize is a good word, but a better word would be "Compassion with our weakness". Thomas Goodwin was a 17th century Pastor who gave me some new insight into Jesus' compassion. Jesus has compassion on us in both our afflictions (sickness, pain, separation, etc…

Bought with a Price

I am currently reading in the book of Deuteronomy, which I might add is one of the richest and most well-worth-reading and knowing book in all of Scripture.  For example, did you know that Jesus quoted from the book of Deuteronomy more than any other Old Testament book?  It is a book that reminds us - in fact, the word "remember" is frequently used to call us back to God's faithfulness, and his truth.  
God gave Deuteronomy to Moses to give to the people just before they were to enter into this new "Promised" land.  They had wandered for over 40 years as a generation of elders had died off...elders who had not believed God in the wilderness and rebelled against his word and his promises.  God let them live out their days wandering in the wilderness, and as the last of that generation died, God came again to the nation and reminded them of who he was, and who they were.
It's important that we remember that... WHO is GOD?  Deuteronomy 6 is a crucial passage.  

The Story of Pilgrim's Progress

I am excited about the new release of "Pilgrim's Progress" in animated form, this coming Spring.  It will be in theaters just two days, in late April.  Presumably it will also be for sale on DVD after that.

Many people know that a book was written called "Pilgrim's Progress", and many even know that the author was John Bunyan.  What surprises me is the vast number of people in our modern church who have never read the story. 
It is the second most widely published book in English literature - only behind the Bible in circulation.  It was published in 1678, and it has never been out of circulation.  Written as an allegory, it is full of symbolic people and portrays a story of what walking through life as a Christian has to learn how to deal with in order to walk by faith in Christ.

I've written a synopsis (below) that might be helpful as you read the story.  The movie will certainly stir the minds of most Christians.  The synopsis might help in keeping t…