Mon, Jul 30th - 9:55AM
Here I was thinking about posting something wondering why mature Christians seem to be having the hardest times (and not really sure how to say that) and Teri gives the answer on Lee's blog! Does God have a right to put us through a trial just to show how a mature Christian responds? Of course.
JOB 8 Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil."
9 "Does Job fear God for nothing?" Satan replied. 10 "Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face."
12 The LORD said to Satan, "Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger."
Mon, Jul 23rd - 10:34PM
Looking around the site lately I can see why very few people made a list of 5 personal things about themselves. The lists might have included
1. I leave rude comments on other people's blogs
2. I see conspiracy theories everywhere
3. I take over other people's blogs
4. I call people Satan
5 I am Satan
If you don't know what I'm refering to, be glad.
Just imagine an unbeliever. He saw a glorious sunrise this morning and felt challenged to explore the idea of God. We live in the internet age so he goes online, Googling something like christian blogs. Oh, look what comes up. It would be great to be part of a united group of people. Loving and supporting one another. Lets try it.
Oh my. I wonder what the Buddhists have to say.
1 Corinthians 8:11So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.
Fri, Jul 20th - 9:36AM
The mountain camping trip was a great experience.
I have been in a relationship with my wife since I was a freshman in high school. We got married when we were 19 years old. We love spending time together. Since I have usually worked six days a week at the post office, we never wasted a chance to spend time together. Because of this, I realized that I have never really gone off by myself for any length of time.
So I planned this couple of days to get away by myself. Certainly this last couple of years has been trying, but I wasn’t reacting to that. I just wanted to try it. I have a pretty good prayer life and have had many good experiences "spending time with God".
I found a very remote campsite, where I went the whole evening and next morning without hearing a human voice. There were two other sites with people in them but they were quiet and far away. I spent the evening in a camp chair in informal prayer. As it grew darker, and eventually got to pitch black, I just sat and talked to God, and listened for answers.
It was actually a little frustrating at first, because I didn’t really have pressing issues to address. It took a while to get a focus of why I was there. I started with some praise and worship, then gave thanks for many things in my life. I did some confession, focusing on a few areas where I most struggle. I carved up a stick to represent one area and burned it to give me a mental picture to the idea of putting that behind me.
I watched the fire go out. Then I adjusted a little in the camp chair and watched the stars, and passing airplane lights. I felt God telling me that I was on the right track with my "day by day" philosophy. (I blogged recently about Peter doing that while he was walking on water.) The biggest, but not especially worrisome, question we have right now is what are we supposed to be doing now that all of the things that we were involved in are ended. It seemed like my directions on what to do was, "Wait and see what I bring along next." I went to bed and prayed for everyone that I could think of, including my website friends.
The next day I added boiling water to my breakfast and tore everything down. Camping seems to be a whole lot of loading stuff, unloading stuff, loading it back and then bringing it home. I went further up the mountain. I slowly drove along the Stanislaus River. I stopped to hike a few stretches. Eventually, I drove up the steep, windy Sonora Pass. It is about 9,000 feet elevation at the top. The scenery is spectacular. The views are great. The tiny sparkling brook that will become a fork of the Stanislaus River starts there. There are wonderful rock formations, close enough to touch. I found myself often saying, "Nice work God."
But the best part was the revelation that day. As I looked at all this beautiful evidence of God’s handiwork, I pondered the course of the last couple of years. This is the only spiritual crisis in our lives right now. The first answer that I seemed to get from God was that my recent demotion from eldership was part of the job. I was Chairman of the Board during an ugly transition to a much younger pastor. God was saying that there is no way that I could have done that job and made everyone happy. In fact I think I ended up with the job (which was always a puzzle to me, why I was left in charge) because I would be able to take the inevitable demotion that would later come with it. Not without a lot of whining, obviously, but able to stay put and willing to continue to serve.
As I neared the top of the Pass, the revelation came. I felt God say, "You did a good job. I’m proud of you." Now, this isn’t the ego trip it may sound. It didn’t mean I was amazing. It meant I shouldn’t feel ashamed of the job I did. I made mistakes and had bad attitude sometimes. But I did my best. God still loves me. I didn’t even realize until then that I was feeling ashamed. Like I had done badly. Since the pastor had been hired I had been criticized, demoted, and had lost both the youth and college ministries. I think somewhere I was feeling ashamed for having done so badly that all this had to happen. This shame was buried deep enough that it took two days of conversing with God for it to come out.
I took some time on the Pass to think about this. I remembered all that had happened lately. Not with growing anger, as had been happening, but with growing understanding. I had done a tough job fairly well and the inevitable bad reactions had grown to a point that I no longer felt worthy of God’s love. Even though I had taught on the subject for others, I wasn’t applying the truth to myself. I wasn’t wonderful or awesome. I hadn’t done the greatest job ever. But I was loved.
Its only been a couple of days but that sad feeling hasn’t come back. Or the anger. I think I see now that everything that has happened has a purpose. That even if it wasn’t fair, it was planned. And my job is to respond to it with grace. I still feel like I have been humbled. And that I needed to be humbled. But God’s love makes it worth it.
Mon, Jul 16th - 6:38PM
Be Thou My Vision
Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.
Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.
Dallan Forgaill (translated from the Irish by
Mary E. Byrne, Versified by Eleanor H. Hull)
This is an 8th century Irish hymn recently recorded by both contemporary singers Ginny Owens and Rebecca St.James. Yes, many popular Christian musicians, and their audiences, appreciate old hymns.
I am off to the mountains for a day or two retreat by myself. God Bless!
Thu, Jul 12th - 10:01PM
The below lesson on walking on water was for a restarted college group. We had stopped hosting ours because attendence and enthusiasm was down. It seemed like it had run its course. Any study that goes three years has done very well. I'm sure some could name a study that went much longer, but I bet each could name several that went much shorter, or maybe that's just here in California. One of our elders decided to start it back up, but it is already lagging again and they are talking about cutting it short. While I'm not happy that there isn't a college group available to kids right now, I was relieved to see that I hadn't given up on the study too easily. I think I made an accurate assesment of the situation.
The study went fine. The beach setting and the long day didn't really lead to a lively lesson. I taught that morning on service in adult Sunday School. It was my first teaching adults in a long time, and I'm not secheduled again anytime soon. I used a lot of stuff that I have already printed here but let me remind of my two favorite quotes.
"The primary relationship of a servant is with the Master and not with those served" G Campbell Morgan.
This is what to remember in order to survive being a servant. You will be attacked and overused. Chances are the job will often be thankless and hard. If you go in expecting recognition or reward from the people around you, you will be disappointed. Service needs to be out of love for God alone. Blessings to any fellowship that manages to appreiate its servants.
"The best test of a servant's heart is how you act when you are treated like one" Unknown. This one is painful. I have seen more rection to this sentence than any other one I can remember. It is completely expected that if I say "They treated me like a servant" you would agree that I was wronged. Even while we are claiming to be God's servants. I have been humbled and shamed by this point for a few years now. I am trying to come closer to passing this test.
The Lord's Prayer starts with 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.
Truely knowing God must result in praise and worship (Check out Lois' Blog for praise) The focus of our prayer should be God's will and His Kingdom, far before our wants or needs. If we start with desiring God's kingdom, our service will follow.
Sun, Jul 8th - 12:37AM
I am doing a "guest shot" in someone else's college group tomorrow night. They want a devotion at the end of a long day at Pinecrest Lake. I was grumbling about have to talk with everyone worn out and looking past me at the lake when I got this idea.
Matthew 14:23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. 25During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear.
27But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."
28"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."
29"Come," he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"
31Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"
32And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."
Imagine the lake stirred up by the wind. Waves on a lake are different than in the ocean. they don't come rolling to the shore. They crash randomly against each other. Jesus finally stopped talking to his Father around 3:00AM and went looking for his followers. They were quite a ways out from the shore, being tossed by the waves. Jesus started walking out to them.
A few chapters back Jesus had simply stopped the waves with a gesture. But He had a different agenda this time. Mark 6 tells us that Jesus was "about to pass by them". He doesn't mean that Jesus almost missed them in the dark. The word used there sounds more like He was about to pass in front of them, To display his power over the waves. He wasn't going to stop the storm this time, He was going to overcome it.
Peter asks Jesus to invite him out. Why? Maybe he was still smarting from the last time that he had acted too hastily. Maybe he had the words "Peter, you don't have to run into action every time, I'll tell you what to do" still ringing in his ears. He asked and waited for the invitation.
It is usually taught here that Peter was fine until he took his eyes off of Jesus. And that is a good conclusion. And a good principle to follow. But I don't think that is what happened. I doubt Peter stepped out of the boat looking longingly at Jesus until he got distracted. I imagine he was looking very carefully at his feet in the water, watching in amazement how the water was suddenly solid enough to hold him. I think he watched his feet until he looked up, either wishing he was closer to Jesus, and safety, or further from Jesus and still had some water walking time. When he looked up however, he "saw the wind". And it scared him.
Peter was fine as long as he was in the moment. He was doing the unthinkable, until he started wondering about his progress. Have you ever been in the midst of a storm, getting through each day, until you started wondering when it would end? Am I making progress? Is this almost over?
There is so much to learn in a storm. After all, Jesus could have made the storm go away. If it is continuing, it must have a purpose. The challenge is to go through the moment. Watch God work. Learn the lessons. Don't check your progress. Just go through the test. We can't be certain about the future but we can know that He is with us in the moment. Don't hurry through a storm, see what God has for you in it.
The rest of the apostles dstayed in the boat. They learned nothing except that others could overcome the storm. Despite his sinking, Peter was the only one who got the lesson. He is the one who walked through the storm instead of trying to hide from it. The rest of his life, Peter would have that image of his feet, standing on the waves. And the knowlege that, with Jesus, he could withstand the storm.
Sat, Jul 7th - 10:49PM
Sorry for the absence. We had some phone line problems. Yes, we are still dial up. No other way reaches us here yet.
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