Friday, May 30, 2014

Love Yourself


Leviticus 19:18You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.

I rode up to Bass Lake, California to spend an extended Memorial Day weekend with family. And whenever I go to the lake, I attend the Sunday Worship Service at “The Little Church in the Pines” with my dad. Pastor Herk Rolff preached a Sermon how God created us to have a proper love for ourselves; He didn’t say to hate yourself and love others, but to love others as yourself. We are told in Psalm 139:14I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;your works are wonderful.”  Each of us are created by God, our Maker, and though limited, have unlimited potential – lovable, with worthiness.

Romans 13:8-10Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
We live in a dog-eat-dog world of negative and insulting false criticism and comparisons that fosters guilt. Even when we give those guilty feelings (true or false) to God, we tend to put the past behind us in a little red wagon that we pull behind, so that we can stop and pull those old feeling back out. When you bury the hatchet, you are not supposed to leave the handle sticking out of the ground for future use. Satan (the Accuser) furthers this guilt-trip by reminding us of the sinfulness of sin and our responsibility for it, with the intention of destroying us by hating ourselves and not turning to the Lord.

Pastor Herk suggests praying and asking for forgiveness to the God of Forgiveness. 1 John 1:9 says: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. Sin breaks our relationship, but forgiveness through Christ restores our relationship with God in reconciliation back to an upright position.
  • Love God, love others and loving yourself properly begins at home and recognizing God’s love to us in Christ.
  • Forgive yourself as God does. Praise Father God for His mercy. love, grace and forgiveness.
  • Learn from the past, but look forward and tell others to do the same.
  • Evaluate yourself regularly to God’s standards and truth.
  • Accept uniqueness in yourself and others – Do not be anxious.
  • Discipline yourself disciple – Student and Follower of Jesus.
  • Dedicate yourself with true devotion to the highest - God’s best.
  • Fulfill God’s Will
  • Give to ministries and get involved in God’s work here today.
  • Internalize God’s Word and use it daily in your personal walk with the Lord in the Spirit.
Matthew 22:35-39One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this Question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

Pastor Herk explained that God made you and I, but He is not finished with us yet. Metaphorically, we are still on His easel being painted into a “Masterpiece.” Literally, this side of eternity, we are a work in progress and objects of our Creator’s supreme concern. Sovereign God, our Maker, our audience of One, sees everything that we write in our book of life. Realize your own personal worth; if you or I were the only Sinner on earth, God would have still sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for us anyway. Oh, He did. Does it get any more personal than that? We have our own personal Savior and Lord, who, out of pure love for us, died for our sins, so that we would be forgiveness. That’s how much you are worth, so love yourself.

1 Corinthians 13:12-13For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.


In Christ, Brian  

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Christian Church Covenant


1 Corinthians 12:27Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”

Having been led by the Holy Spirit of God to profess our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and having been baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we do now solemnly and joyfully affirm our covenant with each other.

We pledge to serve Christ in the fellowship of this congregation. We agree, therefore, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, to walk together in Christian love; to strive for the advancement of this church in holiness and knowledge; to promote its spirituality and prosperity; to sustain its worship, ordinances, disciplines, and doctrines; to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor, and to support the work of our missionaries throughout the world. Thus we commit ourselves to the mission to which God call us all.
We seek the obedience to Christ in our daily living. Believing that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, we shall endeavor to avoid experiences and habits which defile the body and hinder our witness.

We also agree to maintain, as far as possible, family and private devotion; to teach our children the Christian truths; to seek the salvation of our family and acquaintances; to walk circumspectly in the world; to be just in our dealings, faithful in our engagements, exemplary in our deportment, and to be zealous in our efforts to advance the kingdom of our Savior.

We further agree to watch over one another in brotherly love; to remember each other in prayer; to sustain each other in times of sickness and distress; to share in each others joys; to cultivate Christian sympathy in feeling and courtesy in speech; to be slow to take offense but always ready for reconciliation, and mindful of the example of our Savior to secure it without delay.
We acknowledge the need for continued fellowship with the family of God an we agree that when we move from this place, we will as soon as possible unite with some other church where we can carry out the spirit of the covenant and principles of God’s Word.

Acknowledging our human frailties and ever seeking forgiveness, we profess our need of the Holy Spirit, and commit our lives to Jesus Christ, and through Him, to the care , the judgment, the deliverance, and the mercy of Almighty God.
Amen

Colossians 3:15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

In Christ, Brian

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day 2014


Psalm 135:13Thy name, O Lord, endureth for ever; and thy memorial, O Lord, throughout all generations.

The first Webster’s Dictionary gives the definition of MEMO'RIAL, [Latin - memorialis,] as Preservative of memory. That which preserves the memory of something; any thing that serves to keep in memory. A monument is a memorial of a deceased person, or of an event. The Lord's supper is a memorial of the death and sufferings of Christ. The Hebrew word - כֶר  ‘zeker’ means ‘recollection and commemoration’.

Looking on the internet, I read that Memorial Day is a United States Federal holiday, where in the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces are remembered. The holiday, which is celebrated every year on the final Monday of May, was formerly known as “Decoration Day” and originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died while in the military service. In this fallen world, 'Freedom' does not come for free, and 'Freedom' must be maintained at a price; 'Freedom' from the power or control of another; liberty; exemption from slavery, servitude or confinement. 

Acts 10:4 “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.”

This day is also an annual ‘Decoration Day’ at particular cemeteries in some rural areas of the American South and Mid-West. Family members visit graveyards where remote ancestors, as well as those who were deceased more recently, are buried. This is true with both my relatives in Missouri and my wife’s family in Iowa, in honor of beloved ancestors and the memory of our blessed heritage, headstones and markers for antecedent family members out of pure love and respect. People gather on the designated day and put flowers on graves and renew contacts with kinfolk and others. This may take on the character of an extended family reunion to which some people travel hundreds of miles to attend and participate. 

Hosea 12:5-6Even the Lord God of hosts; the Lord is his memorial. Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment and wait on thy God continually.

Memorial Day is truly full of meaning and purpose. Have a blessed day as your celebrate to “preserve your memories”.

In Christ, Brian


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Plateaus – Part 2


James 1:2-4Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

Dr. Sproul explains that almost all of us started our Christian walk with enthusiastic gusto; to later have our development arrested and frozen as it reached a point of difficulty that signaled a plateau where we get stuck. We have a tendency to make a running start in certain enterprises and get all involved and engrossed in what we are trying to learn, achieve or do, but as soon as we run into an obstacle or we reach one of those difficult plateaus where we are temporarily stalled, there we quit – thinking that we've reached the limit of our ability and can go no further. We start, but we don’t finish what we started. But, the only way to advance in any enterprise is to persevere through that level, so that we can get beyond those roadblocks and move ahead. The higher we go in our attempts to master a procedure, the easier it is to get better and better because we grow and mature by experience. Life is a learning experience. We learn how to make it across plateaus.

Matthew 13:45-46 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

All of us are called to please God. Those who are serious about pleasing God are not casual about their pursuit of the kingdom of God. They storm the battlements of the enemy until they break through the strongholds because the pressing into the kingdom of God is the passion to possess the King’s Domain, even in ourselves. Pressing beyond the points of paralysis on plateaus, where things become so difficult that we stop. Remember the zeal, passion and fire of discovering Christ, but then we have to learn how to adjust to accommodate unbelieving friends, family and acquaintances to reach them at their level. Also learn to adjust our goals downward when we've plateaued and cooled off, until we've reached the other side and start advancing and ascending again. What pleases God is someone who signs up for the duration of the journey; someone who prays every day that “Thy Kingdom come and Thy Will be done.”; someone who spends their life seeking the kingdom of God in daily living. The American Theologian Pastor Jonathon Edwards said: “The seeking of the kingdom of God is not something that unbelievers do. The seeking of God is the chief business of the Christian.” It is a life-long enterprise and pursuit. To be a disciple is to come under the disciple of someone more mature; to go to a teacher to get over our periods of stalling plateaus; a teacher on the other side of that plateau, who could help bring the student/follower across the threshold and into a new liberation and freedom. The same is true in spiritual life and growth. Jesus Christ is the King of kings and the Lords of lords. Live in the presence of your King, under the authority of your King, and for the honor and glory of your King.

Matthew 6:8-13  Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.


In Christ, Brian 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Plateaus – Part 1


2 Timothy 4:1-2In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge:  Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.”

What is the “Big Idea” of the Christian life? There is a quintessential purpose and over-arching goal that we keep before us at all times. What is it? This last week, I was watching an old video lesson by Dr. R.C. Sproul. He was unpacking the answer to this question, which the root objective and aim is to live a life of love, joy and peace, which is pleasing to God. Sproul explains that we listen to Sermons, watch videos, read the Holy Scriptures, and dig into Theology, but long for the opportunity to cut through all of the participles and fine points of Christianity and get down to the “core” essence of what life is all about – discerning the “Big Idea.” The sixteenth century Reformers had to crystallize, define and declare the essence of what Christianity was about and out of the process of doing so, came the Latin phase “Coram Deo” – meaning “before the face of God.” The Christian life means to live all of your life in the presence of God.

Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Sometimes, we behave and perform, not for God, but for an audience to see, and our behavior in private is different when we are in the presence of people whose judgment or approval we seek. Like the prodigal son, we go to a far away land where we are anonymous, where we don’t feel like we have to live under the scrutiny of somebody who might disapprove of what we are doing. But, we should live our whole lives, not as people seeking the cover of darkness, where we have a secret life that is hidden from the gates of authority, but that our lives should be lived openly in the presence of God … before the face of God, practicing a kind of consciousness of God, our Maker, from moment to moment; in the presence of God and under the authority of God, to the honor and glory of God. That’s what it’s all about.

John 14:23-24 Jesus answered and said unto him, “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.”

This means that if you want to please the Lord, you please God by doing what He has commanded us to do. Though, realistically, in our frailty of our fallen flesh none of us can actually live every moment as if in the constant sense of being in the presence of God, and nobody is so righteous that what we do is done in submission to His honor and glory. Sproul explains honestly that we can say it religiously and define it theologically, but this side of heaven to put that into actual living practice is not a simple thing to do. We can get excited and emotionally moved, having spiritual experiences when we promise and vow to give our heart and life to God, but through day to day activities and the pressures that come upon us that zeal and excitement begin to fade and we fall back into our patterns where we live in the absence of God, in defiance of God, and in our own glory. Sanctification is a process, in a general sense is to be cleansing, purifying and making our lives holy. To separate from sin, set apart from that which is not pleasing in the sight of God and appoint our life to a holy, sacred or religious use. It means to purify our life, to prepare for divine service, and for partaking of holy things. To ordain and appoint our life to the work of redemption and the government of Christ’s church. To cleanse our heart, mind and soul from corruption; to purify from sin; to make holy be detaching the affections from the world and its defilements, and exalting them to a supreme love of God. The judgments of God are the more welcome, as a means by which His mercy has sanctified so to me, as to make me repent of that unjust act. At the core, sanctification is the lifelong process of consecrating and sanctifying the saints (Believers) in obedience to God, to make free from guilt as we sanctify God; to praise and celebrate Him as a holy Being; to acknowledge and honor His holy majesty, and to reverence His character and laws. So, what it means to please God is not simply to make a commitment or a vow, but to “press forward” through those moments and times where we are stalled on plateaus and frustrated in our spiritual growth.

We continue this thought on the next post.
Blessings in Christ, Brian

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

God Behind You


Psalm 23:1-4 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.  He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

I heard a story once about this young boy who was walking down the street, when a group of bullies turned the corner in front of him and stopped. With hatred on their faces, their eyes focused completely on the lad, filling him with fear. They took a step forward, but then their expressions quickly changed to fear and they turned and walk away. The amazed youngster turned around and gratefully saw his father had walked up behind him. He found courage in the presence and security of his loving dad and walked fearlessly and confidently with him at his side. Is this not a parable for us today? We have God behind us.

Romans 8:30-31 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 these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Always remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ - Immanuel (Hebrew עִמָּנוּאֵל “God is with us”) in Matthew 28:20Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” , and let's walk boldly it that truth daily. 

In Christ, Brian

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Lincoln’s Reminder on Forgetfulness


Deuteronomy 8:10-14When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God.”

“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us! It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.” - President Abraham Lincoln – April 30, 1863

Hosea 13:6 When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me.

Reminder: Don’t forget.

In Christ, Brian

Friday, May 16, 2014

People, Place, & Things or Jesus Christ

 

Matthew 13:3, 7-9, 22-23 Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a Sower went out to sow. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”

 

I remember back in 1994 or ’95, my wife and I were invited to join a small group Bible Study by a Christian friend that I met through our son’s Little League baseball. They were going through a topical video series on relationships and parenting by Author, Speaker, and Christian Family Psychologist Gary Smalley, titled “Hidden Keys to Loving Relationships”. The series was so good that I borrowed the 18 tape set and showed it at our church for adult Wednesday night studies. The Sixth Key was “How to Become Free From the Negative Emotions of Anger, Hurt Feelings, Loneliness, Worry and Fear” (throw in Envy, Jealousy, Sexual Possessiveness). Sound interesting. The problem is that if our life was illustrated by a lamp, what are we plugging into for the source to light up our life? The lesson states that there are three earthly sources that we tend to look to find happiness and avoid the pain of negative emotions, bring us quality life or love, joy and peace.

 

The first is “People”. Smalley states that we think we need to have a mate, a boyfriend or girlfriend, a close friend, children, perfect parents and so on to meet our deepest needs. But even in intimate relationships we can experience hurt, frustration and disappointment because other people are preoccupied with meeting their own needs. Many of us try to use people to give us quality life, hoping they will bring us lasting fulfillment. Most often, we discover that instead of fulfillment, people are actually dimming the light that we had. We forget that people will never really give us the quality life we want, yet we still expect it from them. The reason we become angry, fearful, lonely, et cetera is level of unrealistic expectations. The more we expect from people, the greater our potential of experiencing negative emotions we desire to avoid.

 

The Second is “Places”. Smalley says that we also tend to look to various places to be our source of happiness. We feel if we move to a new home near a beach or a cottage in the mountains, vacations to exotic destinations or exciting resorts, away from all the hustle and bustle of everyday life, then we’ll finally be at a place where we can be happy. Usually, places bring happiness for a season. Even the most spectacular view and exciting places can become ordinary and routine. Not to mention that after going to the most beautiful places on earth, there is almost always a certain amount of let-down when we have to come back to our real world. Again, the focus on unrealistic expectations on gaining a “satisfying place” that sets the stage for anger.

 

The Third is “Things”. Smalley points to money, a new job, increased talents, a new car … all these things and much more are often looked on as a main source of life. Many people feel that they’ll never be successful or satisfied until they have acquired a certain amount of possessions or things they’ve longed for. I’ll never forget my co-worker telling me, “I see it, I want it, I get it.” Advertisers know how to market products so that they’ll appear to not only satisfy us, but make us happy as well. The problem is that these things all too soon begin to dim our light and short circuit the hope of fulfillment in life. Again, it’s not having things that causes anger or hurt feelings, it’s expecting that they bring happiness that causes our unhappiness.


Philippians 4:19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

True happiness is found in a desire for God. Our Life source to plug into is Jesus Christ, so happiness is found in holiness. This is where we are fulfilled and content. Smalley asserts that negative emotions can be turned into positive gain depending on how we look at them. It is important that we learn to picture negative emotions as “warning lights.” These warning lights reflect that our primary focus is unrealistically expecting happiness from people, places or things. Rather, make a decision to use those signals as motivation to evaluate and change the focus. Focusing on the lord will set our feet on a path leading to greater maturity, and a greater love for those around us. Love God and love others.

 

In Christ, Brian

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Faith Conquers Fear


Mark 4:35-41 On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”

My Friday evening Small Group Bible Study has started a new series on breaking free from fear’s bondage. Daily life is filled with all sorts of fearful things … the economy, natural disaster, calamities and tragedies in the world, terrorism, wars and violent crimes. Not to mention jobs, investments, politics, homes and relationships too. How do we free ourselves from the grip of fear and the accompanying stress that takes a toll on our lives physically, emotionally and mentally? Fear can be paralyzing, confusing, wreaking havoc in our body and mind. Did you know that stress from fear can reduce your life expectancy by as much as 10 years?

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

I remember watching a video series by Christian Family Psychologist Gary Smalley, where he explained that the disciples in the Bible passage above had nothing to fear because Jesus was in the boat and told them that we were crossing over the lake to the other side. They needed to have faith that despite the current fearful circumstances, when the Lord promises something, then it is going to happen. Dr. Smalley said that the disciples should have been swinging from the ropes and singing songs in that storm because Jesus said that they would make it to the other side. When we face life-threatening situations, fear is natural. We live in a body of sensual flesh, which shrinks from pain and runs from death. Yet, fear is to be harnessed by faith … by remembering that Jesus is there and in control. Faith conquers fear. Put your trust in the Lord of all.


 Psalm 23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are  with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.


In Christ, Brian

Monday, May 12, 2014

Thank you for the day


Psalm 118:24This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.”

In every day and age, we find the egocentric God-rejecting world system of the fallen flesh spoken about in Isaiah 22, who do not look to its Maker, nor have respect for Him who fashioned the heavens, the earth, and all that has the breath of life; whose motto is: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!”  The ungodliness and unrighteousness of men spoken about in Romans 1, "who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,  who knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie" who live for the moment. A wide road in the wrong direction.

But when we put our trust in the Lord, God Almighty and truly know and believe in our Maker, who holds our very breath in His hand. Who freely gives the light of life eternal from His absolute Love, grace and mercy to all that turn and accept. Tomorrow here is not guaranteed for anybody, but God is good and given us this day, at this time and in this place, plus guaranteed a tomorrow to Believers in heaven with Him through Jesus, so let us praise, honor and glorify Him as we rejoice and be grateful and glad in it as He watches over us. Then, it's a amazing wonderful godly life that shines for the world to see today! 
God, thank you for this day; a day that You have made for us.

Acts 17:28 "For in Him we live and move and have our being."

In Christ, Brian

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day 2014


A Mother's love is something
that no on can explain,
It is made of deep devotion
and of sacrifice and pain,

It is endless and unselfish
and enduring come what may
For nothing can destroy it
or take that love away . . .

It is patient and forgiving
when all others are forsaking,
And it never fails or falters
even though the heart is breaking . . .

It believes beyond believing
when the world around condemns,
And it glows with all the beauty
of the rarest, brightest gems . . .

It is far beyond defining,
it defies all explanation,
And it still remains a secret
like the mysteries of creation . . . 


A many splendored miracle
man cannot understand
And another wondrous evidence
of God's tender guiding hand.


video

Blessed Mother's Day,
Brian

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Evangelism Life


Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

I was at a meeting this week where it was mentioned that “apologetics” wasn’t the ultimate goal of the church: worship is. Today, I picked up an old article and read that evangelism is not the ultimate goal of the church; worship is. But, in both cases apologetics and evangelism is a goal of the church as the Apostle Paul states in 1 Peter 3:15, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have”, and as the Lord Jesus stated in the opening Bible verse. Pastor Parsons writes that Evangelism isn’t the end but a means to the end, which is God’s glorious rescue of His people, to know God truly, to worship Him purely, to enjoy Him fully and to glorify Him eternally. We must not forget that the gospel proclamation isn’t first and foremost a program, it is a way of life. Like children, who cannot help but express their tender love for their mother and father, we are born-again, adopted children of God. It’s not what we do, but who we are.  

Romans 10:13-15 For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Parson Parsons continues, that the life of the Christian is the daily life of gospel presentation that points to our desperate need for Christ. We don’t just enter the mission field when we drive out of our church parking lots each Lord’s Day, we enter the mission field when we get out of bed each morning, wherever God has us presently and wherever He might call us in the future. God has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light and has now called us to go (not walk, but run) into the darkness and shine, being always ready to give an answer to anyone who asks us a reason for the hope within us, with gentleness and respect. Go and make disciples of all the nations.

In Christ, Brian

Friday, May 9, 2014

Grandchild Break


Just returned from a mid-week trip to Denver, Colorado, where we visited our Grandson and his parents.
I once heard that "Grandchildren are the reward for a long life." I've also read, "Truth be told, there's nothing better than being a grandparent. All our elders know this and it is evidenced by that twinkle in their eyes. Of course, they know more than they let on—life's secrets have come to them through time, experience, and patience. ~author unknown
We're new at this "Grandparent" thing, but loving this new chapter of our life. What a blessing!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Everyday God


Acts 17:24-28 “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring."


In Christ, Everyday
Brian

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Trinity/Family – Unity and Diversity


Matthew 28:19Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Lesson Seven of “the Truth Project” dealt with “the Divine Imprint” in relationships by the triune structure stamped upon social order and truth. Dr R.C. Sproul explains that “When the Christian faces the doctrine of the trinity. There is one of the most puzzling problems for the mind to grasp. Indeed, it is a mystery, not a contradiction. How can we have a being who is one in essence and three in person? Notice, He is not one in essence and three in essence; that would be contradictory. But, rather, our God has unity and diversity within His own being. Now, the beauty of that is, one of the oldest questions of philosophical investigation is resolved in God Himself, and that is the question of “the One in the Many”. The oldest philosophers looked around the world in which they lived and they saw trees, and flowers, and animals, and rain, and sunshine … all this diversity … and they said: “We have all these many things. How do we make sense of them? Is there anything that unifies this diversity?” That is where we get the word “universe” and “University”, trying to find some transcendent unity that will bring coherence and meaning to all of the wide ranging diversities that we encounter that is found in God Himself, who in His very being is unity and diversity.

John 14:15-17, 26 “If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.

The Westminster Confession of Faith is a Reformed confession of faith. Drawn up by the 1646 Westminster Assembly, became and remains influential within churches worldwide.  It states; “In the unity of the Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. The Father is of none, neither begotten, nor proceeding. The Son is eternally begotten of the Father. The Holy Ghost eternally preceding the Father and the Son.” The triune God is perfect in Unity, Relationships, Equality, Roles, Authority and Submission. The triune Godhead (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) mirrors the human family (Husband, Wife and Children). The Father and Son are one (John 10:30), as the Husband and Wife are one flesh (Genesis 2:24). The Son is in submission to the Father (John 5:30), and the wife is in submission to her husband (Eph. 5:22-24). The Holy Spirit is in submission to the Father and the Son, and Children are in submission to their father and mother (Eph. 6:1-2). The post-modern secular world views “authority” and “submission” as negative, but the Bible views these as glorious. We must submit to the authority of God when society turns ugly. The nature of God exhibits perfect order in relationships. We cannot redefine the family; it is not ours to manipulate. God has given the structure and the social order for family. If we go against God’s design, we go against His nature.

Malachi 2:15Didn’t the Lord make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth.

What a glorious thing God has given us in “Family” – unity, intimacy, fellowship, honor, love, and respect within the diversity of family as designed by God. We were created for relationship with God and family.


In Christ, Brian

Sunday, May 4, 2014

God’s Design and Order


Psalm 19:1-4The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.”

Our church’s mid-week topical Bible Study series on Focus on the Family’s “The Truth Project” enters Lesson Seven, which is covering God’s Harmonious Systems and arranged Social Order.  Romans 1:19-20 says, “What may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” I heard famous English ethologist and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins answer the question by Ben Stein in the movie “Expelled”: “What if, after you died, you ran into God and He said what have you been doing; I’ve been nice to you and look what you did?” , which was “Sir, Why did you take such pains to hide yourself?” The “finite” wants to see the “infinite”, yet doesn’t see the clear attributes of God, though invisible Spirit, in the unmistakable intelligent design of the cosmos, the irreducible complexity of natural systems and components, the beauty and intricacy, orchestration and harmony of life that is impossible by time and chance. Ignoring the facts and proofs of creation in design, information and order clearly seen in nature and the universe demonstrates unbelief, not science, because their worldview starts with “no God”.

Job 12:7-8 “But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you; and the birds of the air, and they will tell you; Or speak to the earth, and it will teach you; and the fish of the sea will explain to you.

Dr. Del Tackett explains that the above Bible verse tells us to study the complex anatomy and unexplainable instincts of the animal kingdom, not just for the question of the origin of life, but to see the fingerprints of God in His incredible design and order of His Creation; not random chance by godless evolution processes. He gave the example of the Chicken Egg with its shell that has over 10,000 pores to allow oxygen in and carbon dioxide out, with four vessels from the developing chick (2 attach to the yolk for food and 2 attached to the outer membranes to breathe), with the air sack at one end to give the fully-developed chick 6 hours of air to break a hole in the shell with a special “egg tooth” on the beak. But the design and order go much further in the architectural development of the chick. Please, if you can, purchase a copy of the DVD titled “Flight – the genius of birds” @ http://illustramedia.com/ and see the actual filmed stages of the chicken from egg to chick and be amazed at life. You will also see the unique structure of the bones and feathers of this blessed creature that shouts of intelligent design and conducted order. See the unexplainable complexity of the Hummingbird and the seemingly impossible navigation skills of the Arctic Terns, who migrate from the North Pole to the South Pole and back to the same nesting areas annually. Explain that without God. I challenge you to watch this documentary titled “Flight” to see and hear the birds tell you about their Divine and Sovereign Creator in unmistakable design and order with great glory. The truth is manifest, shown and clearly seen in creation.

1 Corinthians 14:33 “For God is not the author of confusion but of peace.”

The Atom, cellular system, skeletal system, circulatory system, photosynthesis, coral reefs, metamorphosis, pollination, water cycles, lunar tides, the solar system and tot he countless systems in between ... all are in perfect harmony, perfect order, and in perfect relationships, both within the system itself and in relationship to the systems around it. Random, purposelessness, mindless forces should produce a random, purposeless, mindless cosmos, but that is not what we have. What we have is the design and order of Creator God.

In Christ, Brian

Friday, May 2, 2014

I Need You


Psalm 23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Jehovah Jireh - The Lord will provide.

I shall follow Jesus, my Lord.