Thursday, December 20, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Monday, December 3, 2007
Sunday, November 25, 2007
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end to all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.
To look on Him and pardon me.
(Before the Throne of God Above)
This morning they lit the first candle of Advent, the Candle of Hope. I say 'they' due the fact 'we' arrived a bit late and, much to Emily's dismay, had to sit in the overflow "room" (a small section at the rear of the sanctuary where late-comers are placed in an effort, through shame and poor acoustics, to teach them the sin of arriving after the sanctuary doors are shut) and in the last row at that.
Hope. In the ESV, hope is mentioned 5 times in verses 24 and 25 of Romans 8. Verse 24 ends with, "For who hope for what he sees?" I do.
Well, let me explain. Granted it is not as spiritual as our hope in Christ, but I hope for a God-centered adult life for my children. On a more day-to-day application, I hope from my children an obedience that honors their mother and I. With our oldest, I see, more and more frequently, not an unquestioning obedience that Emily not simply desires but often requires to keep the day on task, but the parent honoring obedience that God requires of him.
Now our youngest still challenges me. One moment her bold defiant actions erase any spiritual growth I thought I'd achieved as anger creeps up to the surface of my flesh, then in an instant, a smile and her sweet "Sorry, Daddy," even if insincere, disarms me. Still I hope for her life to be God-centered, despite her stubbornness and ability to give rise to mine. I see little fruit in that area, but still I hope.
Who in your life have you written off? Scott asked this question as he preached this morning, only in slightly different context. Who in your life do you no longer have hope for? Who do you believe Christ can no longer redeem? Since, most often, I find myself preaching to myself through my writing, Matthew 7:6 came to mind in my defense. "Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you." Why bother with the dogs and pigs? Why should I waste my time, my energy, my life on them. Then I reread it, "Do not give to dogs what is holy." I am not holy, the preceding (and following) verses make that clear. The verse clearly refers to God's Word and God Himself.
If God has hardened someone's heart to the Gospel, sharing God's Word will be fruitless. But God does not say do not serve this person, do not pray for this person. In fact the Wesley commentary on Matthew 7:6,7, & 8 suggests that the Bible instructs us to pray for that person.
Despite my faults (they are many) and the mistakes I've made (they are even more), Emily has bound her life to mine even tighter. When I think about her love and devotion to me, especially in light of the hardships to which I've subjected her and our children, I am amazed. She demonstrates Christ's love for me. And how much more amazing that a Holy, Holy, Holy God would love me to send His Son to die for me.
Emily has not written me off. She has hope in the promise that Christ will complete this good work. Again, I am finding myself defensive. So, how many times do I have to let myself be hurt? Be let down? How many times is enough, how much pain is enough, how much sacrifice is enough, before I can write this person off, before I can move on?
I guess it depends who the example for your life is. I can think of many folks who would have told you that you have given too much of yourself already. Some may advice you to hang on a little longer. I know it can't be perfectly achieved this side of heaven, but if Christ is your example . . . Not an easy route, is it? Christ, Himself, when looking at the pain and suffering before Him asked His Father if there was another way, but in God-honoring obedience gave Himself up.
Father God, You know my sin, it is ever before me, yet You saved me. Strengthen me to love and serve as Jesus. Make me bold to share what You have done for even me. Thank you also for Emily. And, Father God, thank you for hope. Amen.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Marlon asks the best questions. Real and obvious questions that, in my pursuit to be more spiritual than you, I miss. "Will there be football in heaven?" Typically his questions send me into a state of semi-meditation as I draw from my memory scripture, sermons I've heard, and items I've read to avoid some blasphemous response. Today, I was relieved to have a such a quick response to his question: "I don't know."
He loves football, wants to play for his school, but didn't make the team because he was too small. Though a new believer, his faith is such that it's not a deal breaker, but it's important to him. He's disappointed in my answer, then adds, "I hope so."
I get up and shout when the Seminoles play well (actually when they don't play well also) but I would not consider myself a football fan. Yesterday, Emmett and I were on the way home from Wal-Mart when we heard this odd sound. A quick survey revealed its source: a van painted in the the Jaguar's team colors accented by Jaguar logos of various sizes as well as the trademark paw print. I can only presume the sound was a musical horn, played too loud, bombarding those of us around him with some, very distorted, Jaguar fight song. These guys were football fans.
When does something like football cease being a God-given desire of our heart and become another self-created idol, seducing our affections from our bridegroom? To steal from Pastor Brinkman, we rarely replace God with an idol, but we decorate His throne room with them.
I'd make a good Pharisee, maybe (I might be too lazy); I know the importance of an air of righteousness. With the rich young ruler, I can say, "All these things I have kept from my youth." But God knows my heart. "You still lack one thing. [Insert a command for me to give up my idols here]."
Furthermore, He calls me out, "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder . . . " (Matthew 5:21-30, NKJV ; You can look it up. You Navigators and Baptists have already found it. For the rest of you, it's the first book of the New Testament).
Before I realize the waves are now breaking above my knees, He sees me sinking. And just as He sent His son to satisfy His wrath against me, He sends His Spirit to sanctify me, "Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weakness. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." (Romans 8:26)
So what will heaven be like? Will there be pets? Books? The ocean? I don't know. All I know is we'll be with Him, there will no more sin, and no more sadness.
In the meantime, if you hear some weird noise, don't worry; it's just His Spirit praying double time for me.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Monday, October 8, 2007
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Sunday, September 9, 2007
All kidding aside, I'm very happy with the result and thus thankful for Melissa's post and Eric's hard work to encourage me.
We even roasted some marshmallows!
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Saturday, August 25, 2007
4. Broken, humbled to the dust
5. Gracious God, my heart renew,
6. Sinners then shall learn from me,
Friday, August 24, 2007
Now as the pendulum races back toward grace, I am no more disciplined than before. To be honest, I’m not all that comfortable on the grace side of the beach. I need the motivation that guilt provides as I allow it to manipulate the blessed conviction of the Holy Spirit. I need that motivation to somehow achieve something, anything that will raise me above my sin. Oh, it would be a joy if I could witness the legalism in my heart so easily. But Satan too often whispers in shadows, and too often uses the ugly truth of my failures, my sin, to keep me away from His truth, His grace, the Gospel.
Over the last few evenings, I’ve closed the day with reading Proverbs, starting at the beginning. God, so lovingly, called me to desire His word through the first couple chapters, but Satan poisoned it with guilt, using His precious Word to drive me from Him. How could I ever follow wisdom, follow His lead, as to avoid the sneers He sets for the wicked. Your own heart is much more like the heart of the wicked than His, Satan whispered.
Why should I keep reading this stuff? There’s no way I can ever deserve what He offers. Guilt laden and discouraged, I continued another nonetheless.
My son, do not forget my teaching,but let your heart keep my commandments,
for length of days and years of lifeand peace they will add to you. Proverbs 3:1-2 ESV
Wow. His love shone in these words. “And peace they will add to you.” And His peace broke in a long curl, sweeping with a gentle strength all the way to the dune line. And as it pulled back, He washed all that guilt, the shame, the roots of legalism, the doubt of the power and significance of His grace, away. And when they tried to creep back, He used Robin’s A/C testimony to wash it away, again.
I don’t know why it still amazes me, but I love it when He gives us what we need, just as we need it.
Sunday, August 5, 2007
He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord. (Pr 18:22 ESV)
An excellent wife who can find?She is far more precious than jewels. (Pr 31:10 ESV)
I have been blessed with an excellent wife. I know I do not honor as I should. There are times I do not love her as Christ loves the church. She works diligently with no pay and few thanks. She continually sacrifices for me and the kids. She deserves so much more than I could ever give. She is smart, fun, beautiful, and makes me laugh. She seeks the Lord and encourages me more than she'll ever know. Thank you, Emily. I love you!
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
"Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct" 1 Peter 1:13-15 (ESV)
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." Philippians 4:8 (ESV)
I don't know why I am having such a time getting my head around this "whole man" idea. It's not the concept as much as the conviction, the conviction to bring the whole man under obedience. Like the 1 Peter verse above, the challenge is escaping from the shadow of our former selves into holiness. But what a peace it is to know that, as B.B. Warfield put it, "the redemption wrought by the Lord Jesus Christ . . . renews me in the whole man after the image of God."
What is the whole man? It is everything. Every thought and every action. It is where I spend my time and my money. It's how I choose to relate to those around me and how I choose to relate to God.
I believe it was John Calvin who said we are idol making factories. Meditating on the whole man thing this week, I've found parts of my life, of me, I've not given to Him. I have not loved the Lord my God with all my heart, or with all my soul, or with all my mind (Matthew 22:37). I've been placing idols between myself and God.
So tonight, we tried it again: family devotion. We broke out My Time with God for Students, Training Hearts Teaching Minds, and even read Romans 9 (Q.7. What are the decrees of God? provoked some interesting discussion) The boys asked good questions. It's motivating to see them thinking about God and who He is.
An idol smashed.
"If Christianity is really true, then it involves the whole man, including his intellect and creativeness. Christianity is not just 'dogmatically' true or 'doctrinally' true. Rather, it is true to what is there, true in the whole area of the whole man in all of life."
Monday, July 16, 2007
"I believe that the redemption wrought by the Lord Jesus Christ is effectually applied to all His people by the Holy Spirit, who works faith in me and thereby unites me to Christ, renews me in the whole man after the image of God, and enables me more and more to die unto sin and to live unto righteousness; until His gracious work having been completed in me, I shall be received into glory; in which great hope abiding, I must ever strive to perfect holiness in the fear of God."
B.B. Warfield, point 15 of A Brief and Untechnical Statement of the Reformed Faith
Sunday, July 15, 2007
The duties required in the first commandment are,
the knowing and acknowledging of God to be the only true God, and our God;
and to worship and glorify him accordingly, by thinking, meditating, remembering, highly esteeming, honoring, adoring, choosing, loving, desiring, fearing of him;
trusting, hoping, delighting, rejoicing in him;
being zealous for him;
calling upon him, giving all praise and thanks, and yielding all obedience and submission to him with the whole man;
being careful in all things to please him, and sorrowful when in anything he is offended;
and walking humbly with him.
(Westminster Larger Catechism, 1647, Question 104)
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Without using mapquest or google maps, how do you get from the Sebastian Inlet, Florida, to Arequipa, Peru, in a pontoon boat?
I received a call this week from someone who means a great deal to me. She is just beginning the process of getting some paperwork together to complete and return to some state agency. On top of the annoyance of dealing with bureaucratic redtape (of which she's only starting to see the beginning), she facing the fact it is something she should have already done, maybe even a couple years ago. Seeing an opening, the past heaped a good portion of discouragement and condemnation on her. And, now that I reflect on it, fear.
What is fear? We fear what we cannot control. The person who called me feared the consequences of her procrastination; she feared the process and the outcome of labor that must be put forth as she works through the paperwork and bureaucracy.
It seems I recently heard a pastor teach about his need to be in control. He recognized it as a fault, a stumbling block that had caused him to fall. I remember thinking, "I know I've my own host of issues, but the need for control is not an area where I fail." What is it? Pride comes before a fall? This week revealed my need to control things. But when I do, I keep God small.
I am unable to control my past. I am unable to control others. I am unable to control the future. I am predisposed to fear these things. Again, the person who called felt the condemnation of not pursuing these avenues available to her sooner. I told her, we can't change the past, but we can act now, and that affects the future. She's no idiot. I revealed nothing new to her, but she needed to hear it spoken aloud and from someone else.
I say it all the time. God is sovereign. He is in control of all things. I know it, but my actions too often reveal I don't believe it. When I seek to take the reigns from Him, I make God small. I believe that is why "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge"; He is in control of all things. In obedience we are to relinquish all control to Him.
On the July 8th entry of My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers says, "Will is the whole man active. I cannot give up my will, I must exercise it. I must will to obey, and I must will to receive God's spirit." Will is the whole man active. Will is the whole man active. Will is the whole man active. I am not frequently active, and when I am, it is most certainly not the whole man.
Too often I consider studying and meditating on God's word, attending church, and passively praying to be the extent of my Christian walk. When the Holy Spirit convicts me, I am forced to recognize that it is not walking, it's sitting back. Some of my favorite scripture is Paul's description of the full armor of God in Ephesians. What is armor for? It is for battle. Too often I find myself making it a museum piece. "Here is the Full Armor of God fitted for Josh circa 2007. It's pristine state is a direct result of two conditions: One, years of careful maintenance, and two, it was never worn in battle."
So, how do you get from the Sebastian Inlet to Arequipa in a pontoon boat? God.
A week and a half ago, as rain built up to the south of us, my dad pulled the boat up onto the south bank of the inlet. My son played shortly with another boy on the playground, while we talked and admired the newer buildings in the park. The rain held off and we decided to head for the dock (another adventure altogether), but as we started to load up, a man walked down from a pavilion toward us. It was Jesse, the father of a boy that once worked for me. Their family and ours has grown close through multiple connections through the years. During his conversation with my father and grandfather, it came up that Brian, his son, and Neal, another boy who worked for me at one time, had been to Peru on a mission trip. How cool! God is so good.
Later that day, my wife and I headed out to the mall while my folks watched the kids. Date night at the food court. On the way, 91.9, Christian FM, gave an update on a recent mission trip to Peru to help build a radio station. Could it be? Yes. Tonight I finally remembered to check their website for the Arequipa Peru Mission 2007. There they were, no longer boys but men. Active men going to battle. Again, how cool!
Map from GoogleMaps
Saturday, July 7, 2007
It's not even due to the joy I find being out on the intercoastal swimming or fishing. I've even considered the possibility that since it where I spent my high school years, and my parents still live there, that it is home to me. But my home is with my wife and kids in Jax. So, why do I love Sebastian? It's where my folks, my family, live.
With some in Micco, others scattered in Ft. Pierce and Vero, grandparents in Sebastian, it is a place to touch base with where I came from so I can more easily see where I want to go. Each one of them colors who I am in some way (there is no way I am even going to attempt to say who and how; I'll inevitably leave someone out). Too often I wander around with blinders, excusing it as being "focused". As I result I am frequently humbled to see character traits I long for my boys (even me) to emulate where I never thought to look. Being around family helps me see we all are made in the image of God.
Each visit helps me grow. I never see it when I am there. In fact, I probably devolve to some extent simply by finding myself in too comfortable of surroundings. But tonight, almost twenty-four hours since we returned home, I can see more clearly. I can see my path more easily, the highground and the snares that line the trail. I can see where I need to step up as a father, and as a husband. And I can see, too clearly, where I fail to pursue Him. Going back to the place where you grew up, where you spent those teen years that molded you, tested you, going back can shed light on old sins that still plague us.
You know I ran across an old box of letters
While I was bagging up some clothes for Goodwill
But you know I had to laugh at the same old struggles
That plagued me then are plaguing me still
I know the road is long from the ground to glory
But a boy can hope he's getting some place
But you see, I'm running from the very clothes I'm wearing
And dressed like this I'm fit for the chase
'Cause no, there is none righteous
Not one who understands
There is none who seek God
No not one, I said no not one
So I am thankful that I'm incapable
Of doing any good on my own
'Cause we're all stillborn and dead in our transgressions
We're shackled up to the sin we hold so dear
So what part can I play in the work of redemption
I can't refuse, I cannot add a thing
That is from Thankful by Caedmon's Call (an incredible song by a band that has captured my thoughts perfectly in song multiple times). Again, why do I love Sebastian? It makes me better.
Friday, June 29, 2007
Thursday, June 28, 2007
One thing is certain, this will be a long ride, so sit back, get comfortable, maybe even roll down the window and let the wind blow your hair around. We're going on a road trip.
Two things I request of You
(Deprive me not before I die):
Remove falsehood and lies far from me;
Give me neither poverty nor riches-
Feed me with the food allotted for me;
Lest I be full and deny You,
And say, "Who is the Lord?"
Or lest I be poor and steal,
And profane the name of my God.
Proverbs 30:7-9 (NKJV)