Sunday, April 27, 2008

Grace and Gratitude

Romans 11:35-" Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?"

The anwer is nobody!!!!

There are many times when our culture thinks otherwise. We're dissapointed with our family, neighbors, work, the waitress, the sales clerk. Ultimately we are disappointed with God. He hasn't given us everything we want! I find myslef being that person way too often!

In Randy Alcorn's book "The Grace and Truth Paradox" he states:

"If only we could see our situation clearly even for a moment. We deserved expulsion; He gave us a diploma. We deserved the electric chair; He gives us a parade. Anything less than overwhelming gratitude should be unthinkable. He owes us nothing! We owe Him everything!When you realize you deserve nothing better than hell, it puts a 'bad day' in perspective, dosen't it? If I grasp that I deserve hell, I'll be filled with gratitude not only for God's huge blessings- including my redemption and home in heaven-but also for His smaller blessings: sun, rain, a beating heart, eyes that see, legs that walk, a mind that thinks. If I don't have these, I'll be overwhelmed with the knowledge that I have plenty I don't deserve. And because Christ allowed Himself to be crushed under the weight of my sin, I'll enjoy forever a clear mind and perfect body."

As I read what was stated above I was very convicted! What a great reminder of the grace that God has so richly poured out on such a wretched sinner as I. How great it is to walk out into the world and answer the question "how are you doing?" and be able to answer with great gratitude that I am doing better then I derserve!!! What a great God we serve!


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Stand Still

Yes, it's another Morning and Evening quote. But I think the following entry for July 24th is very applicable to many circumstances and situations. It is my personal favorite right now, and it has been a huge source of encouragement to me because it describes me almost exactly.

Exodus 14:13 Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.

These words contain God's command to the believer when he is reduced to great straits and brought into extraordinary difficulties. He cannot retreat; he cannot go forward; he is shut up on the right hand and on the left; what is he now to do? The Master's word to him is, "Stand still." It will be well for him if at such times he listens only to his Master's word, for other and evil advisers come with their suggestions.

Despair whispers, "Lie down and die; give it all up." But God would have us put on a cheerful courage, and even in our worst times, rejoice in His love and faithfulness.

Cowardice says, "Retreat; go back to the worldling's way of action; you cannot play the Christian's part, it is too difficult. Relinquish your principles." But, however much Satan may urge this course upon you, you cannot follow it if you are a child of God. His divine fiat has bid thee go from strength to strength, and so thou shalt, and neither death nor hell shall turn thee from thy course.

What, if for a while thou art called to stand still, yet this is but to renew thy strength for some greater advance in due time. Precipitancy cries, "do something. Stir yourself; to stand still and wait, is sheer idleness." We must be doing something at once-we must do it so we think-instead of looking to the Lord, who will not only do something but will do everything.

Presumption boasts, "If the sea be before you, march into it and expect a miracle."

But Faith listens neither to Presumption, nor to Despair, nor to Cowardice, nor to Precipitancy, but it hears God say, "Stand still," and immovable as a rock it stands. "Stand still";-keep the posture of an upright man, ready for action, expecting further orders, cheerfully and patiently awaiting the directing voice; and it will not be long ere God shall say to you, as distinctly as Moses said it to the people of Israel, "Go forward."


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Unconditional and Lifetime Surrender

Over the last couple of weeks God has been laying the word “surrender” on my heart over and over again. About a week ago I began reading a book titled, “Surrender- the heart God controls” by Nancy Leigh DeMoss and have been very convicted by some of her points.

Recently I looked up what the word surrender meant and here are a couple things that I found:

1. To yield something to the possession or power of another
2. To give oneself up
3. To give up, abandon, or relinquish
4. To yield or resign in favor of another

“I have been before God, and have given myself, all that I am and have to God; so that I am not, in any respect, my own…. I have given myself clear away, and have not retained any things as my own.” Jonathan Edwards

The quotes below from her book have been very convicting to me. Oh how often I find myself doing the exact same thing over and over again….

“One of the challenges of complete surrender to Christ is that we don’t know what lies ahead. Doubtless, some of us might be more inclined to surrender if God would hand us a contract with all the details filled in. We’d like to know what to expect: ‘what will this cost me? What will He ask me to do?’ We want to see all the fine print so we can read it over, think about it, and then decide whether to sign our name on the dotted line.”

She goes on to say…

“That not God’s way. God says instead, ‘Here’s a blank piece of paper. I want you to sign your name on the bottom line, hand it back to Me, and let Me fill in the details. Why? Because I am God; because I have bought you; because I am trustworthy; because you know how much I love you, because you live for My glory not you own independent, self-promoting pleasure.’”

Proverbs 16:9-"The Heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps."

Father I abandon myself into Your sovereign hands; please do with me what You will. Whatever You may do, I thank You. I am ready for all, I accept all. I give up my plans and purposes, all my own desires, hopes and ambitions for my future. Thank you once again for the grace You bestow upon my life.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Final Exam

My aunt sent this to me...

At Penn State University, there were four sophomores taking chemistry and all of them had an "A" so far. These four friends were so confident that, the weekend before finals, they decided to visit some friends and have a big party. They had a great time but, after all the hearty partying, they slept all day Sunday and didn't make it back to Penn State until early Monday morning.

Rather than taking the final then, they decided that after the final they would explain to their professor why they missed it. They said that they visited friends but on the way back they had a flat tire. As a result, they missed the final. The professor agreed they could make up the final the next day. The guys were excited and relieved. They studied that night for the exam.

The next day the Professor placed them in separate rooms and gave them a test booklet. They quickly answered the first problem worth 5 points. Cool, they thought! Each one in separate rooms, thinking this was going to be easy.... then they turned the page. On the second page was written....For 95 points: Which tire? _________


Friday, April 11, 2008

Ephesians 4:29: "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear."

debased in character; depraved; perverted; wicked; evil
made inferior by errors or alterations, as a text.
infected; tainted.
decayed; putrid.

to destroy the integrity of; cause to be dishonest, disloyal
to lower morally; pervert
to alter (a language, text, etc.) for the worse; debase.
to mar; spoil
to infect; taint
to make putrid or putrescent

I think after reading the above description of what the word corrupt means, no one would want to be responsible for letting “corrupt” speech come out of them, but sadly we are all guilty of it. I have recently been thinking about “speech” and have been reminded of the importance of words. I know that I can far too often be unconcerned with the words that are coming out of my mouth and guilty of letting corrupt words come out of me. We supposedly use an average of 25,000 words a day. How many of those am I using to glorify God and edify others?

Paul Tripp wrote in his book War of Words: "When we speak, it must be with the realization that God has given our words significance. He has ordained for them to be important...God has given words value. So we must do all we can to assign words the importance Scripture gives them."

Corrupt talk includes all words or communication that deters growth in godliness and hinders the cultivation of godly relationships. It defiles others. It has a decaying, rotting effect on a person's soul.-CJ Mahaney

This verse in Ephesians doesn’t just stop with the instruction to not let corrupt talk come out of our mouths, we are to replace that with something…speech that is good for building up.

1 Timothy 4:12 - Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.

What amazing power and potential there is in our speech! When we are purposeful and intentional to use edifying and appropriate words, this is the result: God promises that our words will impart grace to those who hear. Every conversation we have with another person carries this marvelous potential of passing on the grace of God. And we are a people in need of God's grace, are we not? – Janelle Bradshaw
I am praying for God’s help in letting my words, whether many or few, be glorifying to the One who has enabled me to speak and to be a means of grace to all who know me and even those who don’t. When others love and encourage me, may I do the same to them. When others hurt and sin against me, may I seek to build them up and encourage them. When others are lost and need a kind word, may I speak the gospel truth, which is the kindest thing I could ever do for them. May I strive to use all 25,000 of my words as a beautiful building tool and not an instrument of destruction.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Bald Worship Leader

Prodigal John reports:

After I wrote the post about the "mandatory youth minister goatee" I was flooded with emails about another phenomenon sweeping the nation, the "bald worship leader."

Never one to deny attention to things that are sweeping the nation, I thought I would address it. I'm not bald and I'm not a worship leader either but if I ever lose my hair and a church has a need for a triangle-playing worship leader (only instrument I've got in the bag), here are three rules I am going to live by:

1. Refuse the temptation to be weird hat guy.
When you go bald I think there's a deep urge to really explore all the wonders that the hat world has to offer. But when I see the currently cool Fidel Castro type hat on stage I don't think, "here I am to worship." I think, "here I am to overthrow a capitalist society." From cowboy hats to bandanas and top hats, I think you have to be very careful when it comes to how you clothe your head. (Bret Michaels, we know you are bald. Stop it.)

2. Manage the sweat situation.
If I go bald, I am going to develop the most incredible ninja-like ability to keep my head sweat free. I'll still be rocking out on my triangle, have no fear, but never will you find yourself hypnotized by betting on which bead of sweat will make it down my dome first.

3. Develop an awesome worship leader face.
Someone brought to my attention that in addition to musical skill, a worship leader must possess a face that helps set the tone. It must look engaged but not distant, focused but not unavailable, happy but also a little melodramatic. It's hard to describe, but close your eyes, form a half smile, and imagine you've just taken a bite of your favorite food and happen to be holding an acoustic guitar.

I am sure there are other rules when it comes to being an awesome bald worship leader, but those are mine. Please note: I know there are a lot of amazing female worship leaders. Some of my favorite worship leaders are women. The church that I attend has a bunch, but thus far none of the ones I know have goatees or are bald. So until I think of something funny or someone sends me something about a quirk of female worship leaders, I am sparing them the ridiculousness of posts like this.


Saturday, April 5, 2008

Thoughts from Sinclair Ferguson...

Recently, C.J Mahaney has been posting an interview he conducted with the famous Irish author and preacher, Sinclair Ferguson.  You can read the interview here.  There were many answers that Mr. Ferguson had to C.J's questions that were convicting, but one thing he said really resonated with me.

"There are times when I bump into somebody unexpectedly that I will say, “This is a happy providence.” And then I will stop and think, “Would it have been an unhappy providence if I hadn’t bumped into you?” We have this tendency—especially if you are inclined to this legalism—to measure how God’s love is doing for you these days by the providences that surround your life. Our ability to read providences are a very inaccurate measure of God’s love for us."

This is so applicable to me because I do it so darn often.  It is a form of legalism that I think goes unnoticed and unchecked by many Christians today and serves only to limit the providence of God.  We as sinners cannot determine what is good for us and what is not.  We do not set the boundaries or limitations as to what is done for our benefit, only God does.  Essentially, everything that happens to us is under the sovereignty of God and is therefore for our good.  

It is errant and arrogant for me to say that because I received an 'A' on an exam that God is good or that the 'A' is definitively good.  God is always good.  However, the real test is what I would be thinking if I received an 'F'.  Would I consider that circumstance as 'bad' now?  In my heart is God still good or am I quietly seething about the outcome?

What I am trying to say is that what we think to be a bad thing is almost always a good thing in the end.  Think through some of the events that have happened to you this week that you have deemed to be unsavory.  Was it necessarily a bad providence?  Many times I have to stop and ask God that he would comfort with the truth of Romans 8:28.

These are questions that I think we would all do well to ask ourselves in those situations.  I pray that God would shed the light of his truth upon us and that we would surrender to that.  Romans 8:28 "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good." 


Thursday, April 3, 2008

Holding Hands... In Church

I found this on a blog that lists things that Christians do or don't do, like or dislike.  This was #108.  I thought it was hilarious 

"Every now and then, a minister will feel inspired to have everyone in the crowd hold hands. Which of course is awesome. But all too often, I find that Christians violate the three simple rules of hand holding. So as a service to the greater Christian population, I'm like the Billy Graham of sarcasm, I thought I would quickly review the three things you should never do when holding hands with strangers:

1. Interlink your fingers
This is way, way, way too intimate to do if you don't know me and happened to be married to me. But some people do it. Instead of doing the "hey pal I know we're holding hands which is weird but oh well" palm in palm grip, they weave their sweaty fingers between yours. As soon as someone does that to me, the 13-year old in me automatically thinks, "this person is trying to make out with me." Don't do this ever.

2. The "you're great squeeze"
For some reason lots of Christians feel the need to punctuate a good hand hold with a tiny gesture. They want closure. But please, avoid the temptation to end the hand holding session with a "Jesus loves you" squeeze. It's nowhere near as intimate as interlinking, but it still feels a little creepy coming from a man in his mid-50s that up to 30 seconds ago I had never seen in my entire life.

3. The linger
When it becomes clear that the hand holding is over, I expect you to let go of my hand like a bank robber fleeing the scene of the crime. Seriously, let's not be the last people pressed together with our hands awkwardly connected. Think of letting go as a race. I want us to win. I want you and I to set new land speed record in letting go. Come on, we can do it. Eye of the tiger. Eye of the freaking tiger.


Wednesday, April 2, 2008