Monday, January 24, 2011

President Obama said what?

I don't normally comment on political happenings as this blog is really an outpouring of my spiritual journey.  And it's not that I am short of opinions, because if you have read my blogs or come to know me, you will know that my 10.5 (extra wide) finds its place in my mouth more often than I like.  However, on this historic anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I think I must comment...or rather share the insights from Dr. Mohler's blog:   

"This past Saturday, on the 38th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, President Barack Obama issued a statement that is remarkable, even for presidents who support legalized abortion. The President’s statement included not one word that indicated any recognition that abortion is in any case or in any sense a tragedy. There was not even a passing reference to the unborn child. President Obama did not even use the language used disingenuously by President Bill Clinton — the pledge that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare.”

Ever since Barack Obama emerged on the national political scene, he has been promoted and protected by a corps of preachers and religious leaders who have tried their best to explain that he is not so pro-abortion as he seems. Nevertheless, his record is all too clear. In his article, “In His Own Words: A Radical Pro-Abortion President,” Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. asks, “How can any President of the United States fail to address this unspeakable tragedy?”"  Read the details in Dr. Mohler’s blog, which is often updated several times a day.
Accessed Jan. 24, 2011

Monday, January 17, 2011

Being unemployed is . . .

The last month has probably been the best time for me...spiritually speaking, which couldn’t possibly happen if I was employed.  We are often hindered from giving up our treasures to the Lord out of fear for their safety.  The “choice” of holding on to what little we had left was made for me.  Augustine said, “Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.”  I am just now beginning (and I emphasize beginning) to understand Piper’s foremost creed, “God is most glorified when we are satisfied in Him”.  Frederick Faber says, “No one need to be poor, because, if he chooses, he can have Jesus for his own property and possession.”  Tozer writes, “Self can live unrebuked at the very seems actually to feed upon orthodoxy and is more at home in a Bible conference than in a tavern.”  He continues, “God is so vastly wonderful, so utterly and completely delightful that He can, without anything other than Himself, meet and overflow the deepest demands of our total nature, mysterious and deep as that nature is.  Such worship . . . can never come from a mere doctrinal knowledge of God.  Hearts that are ‘fit to break’ with love for the Godhead are those who have been in the Presence and have looked with opened eye upon the majesty of Deity.”
All that to say, God’s prevenient working within me is filling my heart with a yearning to know Him more, with a renewed longing to see others know Him more and to tell others of the grace of God.  My pastor, has started a new series on Moses and I was reminded of some verses in Hebrews 11 that brought me to my knees:
“Choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.  He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward . . . for he endured as seeing him who is invisible.” (vv. 25-27) 
The picture of Moses, especially in Exodus 33 is one that I love.  It epitomizes everything that was quoted above. Moses talks to God as two friends talk face to face and yet his prayer (v.13) is to know Him more, so that he may please Him more.  I recognize that this period of job searching is a dangerous time for an out-of-work pastor.  Many pastors leave the ministry, at such a time as this, never to return.  I am thankful that He is drawing me to Himself, opening my eyes to the need and preparing me for the next steps.  I pray, by His grace, that I will be found faithful.

Seeing Him Who is Invisible

Have you ever wished you were born into a family like Bill Gates, Donald Trump or the Queen of England?  Do you often think you have "missed the boat"?  Are you reliving that "golden opportunity" that you let slip away? 

Just flip on the TV and every network will have some reality show that highlights the socialites, the million dollar winners of some Burnett production or the hugely successful realtors.  The reality is, we see the lives of the brightest, the most fortunate, the luckiest and we desire to have even a little of what they have.  We know that if we had one of those big commission checks, or even the $50,000 prize from Wipeout that our current financial struggles would be eased a bit (or a lot). 

Did you know that dream of adoption actually happened?  A baby boy, born into a very average and struggling household, was adopted by a princess of the most influential and prosperous kingdom.  For forty years, he was raised and lived as prince with all the pomp and privileges that being the son of a king would bestow on him.  Simply put, he had everything, he lacked nothing.  He was the luckiest man on the face of the earth. That man was Moses (Exodus 2).

What makes Moses an inspiration and a role model is not his "lucky streak".  It is willingness to give up his power, his position, his influence, his opulent lifestyle, his retirement income, his home, his adopted family, his familiar surroundings, his BMW chariots and his designer clothing.  Hebrews 11 puts it this way,

24"By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. 27By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible."
  • Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh.
    • He knew his true identity - a child of the Most High God.
  • Moses chose to be mistreated with God’s people RATHER than enjoy immediate gratification from sin (for those pleasures are fleeting).
    • Don't be fooled by the fleeting pleasures of sin. Don't give in to them, keep your eyes focused on the main thing.
  • Moses considered the reproach of Christ to be worth far more than all the treasures of Egypt.
    • He had a true view of the future.
    • He understood who it is that will stand victorious in the end and will rule all of heaven and earth for eternity.
    • He recognized the surpassing treasures of heaven over the fleeting earthly treasures of earth.
    • Moses had a keen grasp of God and God's plan for eternity.  Without even the written Scriptures, he recognized a Saviour in God's Son.  By faith he kept Passover (v.28).
  • Moses did all this BECAUSE he was looking to the future, where his treasure/reward would be waiting for him in heaven.  He understood the treasures in heaven to be more important, more valuable than the temporary rewards/pleasures on this earth.
    • Where is your focus?  Are you able to take your eyes off the fleeting pleasures of this world for the surpassing greatness of the future?  
Moses, in the last 40 years of his life, enters into a relationship like no other.  God talks to Moses as two friends talk, face to face (Exod. 33:11).  Again at this point in his life, you can say he is the luckiest man on the face of the earth.  Of course you know I don't believe in "luck" but the sovereignty and providence of God.  However, Moses is found to be in that envious place of right-relationship with God, enduring the hardships that are before him, for the surpassing greatness of his future eternity with God.  He has found favor in God's sight and yet he is desperate to know God even more so that he will be found even more pleasing to God (33:13).  

Moses is clearly focused on the one thing that is most important to every person that has ever been born.  "But one thing I do: Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead."(Phil. 3:13) 

Do you see Him who is invisible? (Heb. 11:27)  That's what makes Moses stand out from those of us that struggle with the things we see...the here and now.  Step out and dare to be like Moses, put aside the things that draw your focus, your attention and energies.  Focus on one thing - on Him, who is invisible, and rewards those who diligently follow hard after Him. (Deut. 6:5)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Inspired by Ted Williams

Turning on a Friend

I am amazed how quickly and easily we can turn on a friend.  With only a word or sentence from a mere stranger, we can totally change the way we think about a good friend.  Take “Social Networking” for example, a few comments about a friend and almost immediately you have changed the way you think about your friend.

About 10 years ago my wife and I were selling our home.  We had sold a few homes over the years and made a good business relationship with a local realtor.  So naturally, when it came time to sell this home, we called him.  For whatever reason, our home wasn’t moving and our date to move was approaching fast.  We didn’t have the luxury of waiting until it was sold as we had to move to another state.  In the 11th hour, we had a mother and daughter that showed up at our door wanting to view the home.  We gladly ushered them through hoping for that last minute sale.  They said they had contacted our realtor and he wasn’t returning their calls.  In fact, they were quite insistent that our realtor had dropped the ball.   I bought it hook, line and sinker.  I was already frustrated that our home hadn’t sold, we weren’t getting the showings, I didn’t see much advertising and soon I would be carrying a mortgage for a vacant home.  When I confronted him, rather accused him of not doing his job, he quickly revealed the truth.  He was doing his job, he was advertising and that couple had never called him.  As a result, our relationship was strained and never returned to the level of trust it had once been.

I am reminded of my failure this morning because I read that I am not alone.  In the midst of a lush, beautiful, breath-taking garden we see Adam and Eve.  Perfect in creation, perfect in setting and the best of all, perfect in their relationship with their Creator.  Their heart was wholly in tune with the heart of their Creator.  Their desire was to please God, simply put, to worship and obey.  But one serpent, spitting half-truths and lies to Eve was all it took for her to doubt the word of her Creator and inevitably to disobey, breaking the cycle of fellowship and worship.  Their mistakes would forever change their lives and the lives of their children.  That broken relationship, although forgiven, would never be the same as they experienced before that fatal decision.  (Gen. 3)

The pursuit of maintaining that pure relationship with God is not an easy task.  We must follow hard after God.  Being made in His image we have within us the capacity to know God.  But living on this earth we under a barrage of lies and half-truths that want to strip us away from any relationship with our Creator.  Jesus said, “This is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” John 17:3.  Examine the lives of the holy men and women of the past.  You will feel their tears, you will hear their heart, you will see their longing and pursuit of God.  Exodus 33 continues to be one of my favorite examples of a person seeking hard after God.  Moses, who already has the best relationship with God of any living person on the planet (33:11) is still longing to know God more.  He says, “If I have favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight.” (33:13).  Do you sense the urgency of his passion to know God more? 

What are you passionate about?  Tozer, in his book The Pursuit of God writes, “If we would find God amid all the religious externals, we must first determine to find Him . . . we must strip down to essentials . . . put away all efforts to impress, and come with the guileless candor of childhood.  If we do this, without doubt God will quickly respond.”

“O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more.  I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace.  I am ashamed of my lack of desire.  O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still.  Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, that so I may know Thee indeed.  Begin in mercy and new work of love within me.  Say to my soul, ‘Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.’  Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long.”
In Jesus’ name,
[The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer, p.18, 20]

Monday, January 3, 2011

God will not forsake His Saints

1    Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
 be not envious of wrongdoers!

2    For they will soon fade like the grass
 and wither like the green herb.

3    Trust in the Lord, and do good;
 dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
4    Delight yourself in the Lord,
 and he will give you the desires of your heart.

5    Commit your way to the Lord;
 trust in him, and he will act.

6    He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
 and your justice as the noonday.

7    Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
 fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
 over the man who carries out evil devices!

Psalm 37:1-7 (ESV)

Today, of all days, these words are a timely reminder that God holds my tomorrow and cares for my today.  Today, the reality of my unemployment is larger than life.  I begin 2011 without a job, currently without prospects and no income.  However, in reflection over the last 6 months, I see God's perfect hand in my life and I have so much to be thankful for.  His plan for my life is unfolding exactly as He desires.

I am reminded of another time when Jesus said "Be still".  Jesus and his disciples were on a boat in the Sea of Galilee and a sudden fierce storm erupted that quickly began sinking the boat.  Jesus is sleeping through the storm and the disciples are panicking.  In the midst of the storm, Jesus says, "Peace! Be still" and immediately the wind ceased and there was great calm. (Mark 4:35-41)

My prayer:
Lord, I hope and pray that you will not have to rebuke me as you did the disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?"  May I live out Psalm 37 in my life by trusting in you, doing good, feeding on faithfulness, delighting in you and waiting patiently for you.  Let not the worries of this world distract me from enjoying you and bringing you glory.  I love you and thank you today.