Wednesday, December 9, 2009

He Knew, and Waited

There are times I get so wrapped up in my timing. I don't have a problem with being spontaneous for the most part, it's just that when I have a specific task I'm working on, I can get really frustrated when things detour me, slow me down, or simply make me stop what I'm doing and address another situation before I can continue. Granted, He's carried me a long way in many of those areas but at times it can still be a real struggle. Then I read about Moses:

So here he is, going up to get the tablets. We all know the story either in detail or the cliff notes version. However I never caught verse 24:16 before; at least it never spoke to me.


"The glory of the Lord dwelt on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud." Exodus 24:16 (ESV)

Did you catch the 6 days he had to wait? Moses was on a mission from God (one far more important than the Blues Brothers!). He is told to come to the top of the mountain and wait there so that He can give him the tablets. Now if I'm Moses I'd probably have told Marceen to save me some dinner and I'll be back to tuck the kids in. I wonder sitting there as it got late that first evening if he simply reminded God that he was ready? I wonder after that first night he spent on the mountain if he tried calling out to Him to see if he was at the right place? 2nd night? 3rd night? 4th night? I don't know about you but this would REALLY throw my planning mind into chaos. While it doesn't say what he did during those 6 days, knowing what we know of Moses what I think he did was probably pretty simple:

He knew, and waited.

He didn't complain. He didn't get frustrated. He didn't get angry. He didn't question God. He didn't question his mission. He didn't blame anyone. He didn't go back to check on anyone at home.

He knew, and waited.

I need to 'know' like Moses knew. I have parts of me that will always need spiritual deepening, like the father in Mark 9:24 "I believe; help my unbelief!". Or as the apostles called out to the Lord in Luke 17:5 "Increase my faith!". The deeper I go, the more I learn to trust. The more I learn to trust, the more I know. The more I know, the more I just smile in peace ... and wait.



Waiting on the Lord,
~Matthew

Monday, November 30, 2009

Joy for Junk

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness" James 1:2-3 (ESV)
It's interesting that I can recall several cliché expressions and points of view that basically revolve around "Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger". An idea that failure or persecution can toughen you up if you learn from it the right way.

However, what stands out to me in the verse above is that 3 letter 'j' word ... joy. We should count these trials as not just learning experiences, or events that build strength, but we should count them as joy. Not "when you look back on them be thankful" ... but when we "meet" these trials (present tense) we should count it as joy.

If that's not a challenge against the flesh I don't know what is. I don't know about you but my reaction to a tough situation is rarely if ever joy. However that’s a reason, not an excuse; and I don’t plan to ignore this challenge placed before me. Christ has changed me in ways that are not even describable, and it’s just been getting better and better. The junk doesn’t stop getting thrown at me, but it sure sticks a lot less! Next step is to turn the junk into joy … it isn’t going to be quick or easy, but I have a feeling this fruit tree is going to be one of my favorites!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Our Sense of Direction

As this Thanksgiving weekend comes to a close, I walk away wondering what I have learned. Being thankful naturally causes you to ponder your own blessings (of which I have many more then I deserve), but hopefully in addition to my thankfulness I will walk away a bit more shaped by His chisel then I was before.

I think the most significant thing I have learned this weekend is that there is no direction other than the direction of His path that I need to be concerned about.

There are many things (and people) in this world that will try to sway you from Him; anything to get your off balance. The enemy is at work, but rarely in the places you're expecting him to be. He comes dressed to kill your soul, and often enough he starts with the heart.

"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me" Psalm 51:10


The picture above was taken on a trip my wife and I took recently on a little weekend getaway without the children during one of our hikes. It was a most amazing tree that somewhere along its early days was reshaped by something or someone and ended up growing horizontally. While living and well, it still grew horizontally, not vertically. My wife reflected on the picture saying it reminded her of how we try to work so hard on our horizontal relationships, and forget about the most important vertical relationship we all need in Him; well stated. However there was no better words that could caption this picture then what my oldest (Amelia) stated when she saw the picture ... she simply said "It lost its sense of direction"

How often we let outside forces spin us around in circles so much we simply lose our sense of direction. We may be alive and well, like this "middle-aged" tree, just doing what it can to grab the sunlight all the while not realzing that it has been compromised ... that we ... have been compromised.

There is only one path that matters, all others are meaningless.

Lord, may I never lose my sense of direction.

Yours

Saturday, November 21, 2009

My time in the cave …

This blog is a little longer then my usual, however it’s been a while … my time in the cave had me pondering for a while …



I recently was in a John Ortberg study titled “If you want to walk on water, you got to get out of the boat”. In this study it reflected how there are those times in despair, pain, grief, confusion, anxiety, etc. that we hide in our cave. Not always a physical seclusion, but mental seclusion. Often I don’t even see that I was in a cave until I get out of it, and I have to say, the last few weeks for me have been spent in a cave. However, I have learned not to regret or fear the cave, but rather use it as a tool to draw closer to Him. And as John (Ortberg) stated, “some of God’s best work is done in a cave”.

Music is a very powerful medium for me, and I’m sure many others, to draw me closer to Him. In my recent cave time, one particular song has hit me again and again. I ask you to read the lyrics, and truly hear what they are saying. The song is titled, “What do I know of Holy” by Addison Road. I only put the first two verses (without the Chorus) below. The song is also here and I encourage you to listen to it – perhaps not, but perhaps it will move you and convict you like it did me.

I made You promises a thousand times
I tried to hear from Heaven
But I talked the whole time
I think I made You too small
I never feared You at all No
If You touched my face would I know You?
Looked into my eyes could I behold You?
I guess I thought that I had figured You out
I knew all the stories and I learned to talk about
How You were mighty to save
Those were only empty words on a page
Then I caught a glimpse of who You might be
The slightest hint of You brought me down to my knees

If I had to pick two things that really was part of my recent journey in the cave, it would be the 5th and the last line. First, let’s start with Fear.

“I never feared You at all” … Oh how sadly true that has been of me. Last week praying God led me to read Jeremiah 4:7-8 - Let’s read:

A lion has gone up from his thicket,
a destroyer of nations has set out;
he has gone out from his place
to make your land a waste;
your cities will be ruins
without inhabitant.
For this put on sackcloth,
lament and wail,
for the fierce anger of the LORD
has not turned back from us.”

This passage leaves me with a fierce visual of the Lion of Judah. Christ came to free us from the law, but He didn’t come to give us free tickets to keep on sinning. This reminds me of a powerful verse from Hebrews.

“For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins” Hebrews 10:26

I hope this verse haunts you as much as it does me. I hope this verse drives you to Fear the Lord, and to Obey His commands. Forgiveness is there, but it is not to be taken lightly. I think one big mistake modern Christian churches preach is that we are saved by Grace, not works, but then leave it there. Well, true, but if we have accepted, we show the fruit of the spirit.

Of course, if you read a couple verses up on that Jeremiah passage, you will see the promise of the Lord. He is just asking them to turn to Him to avoid all of this.

This fear of the Lord is critical. I often imagine how many people who oppose a leader (such as the current or previous president) would react if they came face to face with them unexpected. I think that fear would strike most of them, and not fear as in terror, but the fear of respect. Oh, I’m sure there would be exceptions, but I think in general, that most would show much more respect then they voice to their friends. Not in a cowardly way and falsely approve, but simply because we have been raised to respect the position regardless of alignment. My point leads me to the last line in that song that touched me. “The slightest hint of You brought me down to my knees”. I think we all will react like Isaiah when confronted with the Almighty.

And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” Isaiah 6:5 (ESV)

We need to have that fear now, not just then, but now. We need to stand in freedom and joy knowing that we are saved, but never forget that the same God that brought us to our knees, sacrificed His Son on a cross for our salvation, of which we deserve none.

Lord, increase my faith – increase my fear and reverence for You – I thank You for the time we spent in solitude, in prayer, and in healing, and I feel strengthened, renewed, and eager to share Your joy with the world!

Amen and Amen!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Confused: I’m supposed to do what?


Did you ever have those moments where you think you know what direction you’ve been called, but only to question it down the road? Perhaps you really felt you were acting on obedience from God, but there came a time when you questioned why you were even doing this in the first place? You may ask yourself if it was even His calling after all, or if it was just your own wishes and desires that were coming through. I know I have.

As I was reading Exodus last night I came across a passage that struck me. To backfill, this is when Moses first got the call from God to go free His people. He went and approached Pharaoh for the first time demanding that he set them free. Pharaoh became angry and thus made the slaves work even harder. The slaves began to resent Moses, asking why he did this to them, pointing out how much worse he made the situation … then you read this:

Then Moses turned to the Lord and said, “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all.” (Exodus 5:22-23 ESV)

That’s when I stopped reading and wondered what I would have done in his situation. I wonder if I would have walked away confused, shaking my head, pondering why I even tried. Would I have gotten frustrated, angry, sad, hurt, [fill in the negative emotion], etc. until I finally just gave up on the situation and moved on with my life?

Moses didn’t. He got to experience “the rest of the story” that so often we miss by walking away. It was certainly filled with challenges, but he never lost sight of Who he was doing this for and why.

Far too often I’ve started something that I never finished. Far too often I made commitments only to break them at a later time. Far too often I let conviction stay at conviction, and not let it lead me to repenting. I’m going to change that, now. I want to experience the rest of the story … His story that He wrote for me …

Lord, increase my faith!
Light Your path for me daily
Help me push through confusion to build confidence
Help me exercise spiritually to build trust
Let me never miss the rest of the story, Your story
that you planned for me long before I was born

Yours,
~Matthew

Friday, October 23, 2009

It’s all in your aim …

Sometimes I get lost in Christ being my savior to the point where I miss the fact that He’s Lord. I had a discussion a while back with someone close to me about how he clearly sees a creator, but he doesn’t feel that worship is what his idea of a creator would want. He most certainly wouldn’t like the idea of a Lord.

As a child, we may want to rebel at times, or perhaps even show disrespect, but in the end it’s the comfort of the parent that makes you feel safe, secure, and loved. I draw this analogy with the knowledge that family to some of those who read this was far from safe, secure, and loving. Aside from that, I trust you understand the point that I’m drawing here regardless of your views. Personally, I couldn’t imagine a hands off God. One who abstractly reveals himself in a little game called life where we run around trying to determine what Truth is. Thankfully, that’s not our God. However our God is also our Lord. I’m reminded of this when I read the following passage:

You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the LORD of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. – Haggai 1:9 (ESV)

Some people find a God that punishes offensive, and while I understand that our first reaction may be to get defensive at times we have to realize a few things. For one, God is always sovereign, something not easy to swallow for a non-believer. One other point may be that we need to be corrected, how else do children learn? But most importantly it’s all done through Love. Look at the years and years and years of disobedience that went on between incidences of punishment.


So when I read the passages above it’s a sobering reminder for me to check my aim. Am I living for my kingdom, or His? Am I worried about getting my house in order, or His? And as I heard in a sermon one time, when it comes to my children, am I worried more about getting them in Harvard … or Heaven?

Checking my aim,
~Matthew

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Time to Boast a Little

I thought I’d take a minute and do something a bit different; I thought I would take a minute and boast about myself! So if you’ll excuse the typical post, I need to brag about a few things in my life … so I hope you don’t roll your eyes too much with me puffing myself up and all but here it goes … *clearing throat* …





There are times that I go to bed broken for having let my words of anger and frustration boil over to my amazing children. (It’s a weakness I have controlling my temper sometimes)

Sometimes, I talk to my dad like he’s an absolute idiot, and then realize most of the time he was right, but I rarely apologize. (It’s a weakness I have of thinking that I’m better then everyone else)

I suffer from anxiety, in fact, sometimes my heart palpitations drive me so nuts I think I may just be going crazy. (It’s a weakness I have of trusting myself more then Him)

I let my friends fade away sometimes because keeping up with the social stuff is a lot of work (It’s a weakness I have about social situation, another anxiety issue)

I sometimes just imagine ways of getting even with someone that hurt me (It’s a weakness I have with being so defensive sometimes I want to take revenge)

I like walking away and not looking back – you know those situations where you really messed up? (It’s a weakness I have with internalizing some issues rather than dealing with them)

Sometimes when I’m striking back I manage to find a really good button on my wife … you know, the kind that really hurt? (It’s a weakness I have of trying to always win an argument, get my point across, or simply hurt when someone is calling me out on something)

That’s not boasting? Oh, yeah, I suppose this world may not consider that boasting. We usually hear others:

Toughen up! [pride]
Keep your issues private! [lack of community]
Do what makes you happy! [gain the world, lose your soul]
You earned your way to the top, forget about everyone else [lack of love]
It’s all about image! [pride again? That’s a nasty one …]

However my instruction manual tells me otherwise:
2 Cor 12:9 - But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

You see, the thing is that:
I’m not a perfect husband …
I’m not a perfect dad …
I’m not a perfect son …

Heck, I don’t even feel I’m really good at any of them; but I’m thankful to God I’m not … because it’s the power of Christ that is filling those gaps and reshaping me. I don’t accept where I stand, I need transformation from the only One who can give it to me, but I need to open myself up first. I am going to open these weaknesses and wounds with gladness, so that He can do a good work in me.

Without opening up (boasting of) our weaknesses, we present Him with a sign that reads “No Vacancy”. That’s one sign I don’t want to be handed at the end myself …

“Under Construction”
Matthew

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Unclogging My Pipes

The last several days have been rather difficult for me. The children seem to have found new ways to challenge me, I seem to create my own household projects/repairs (like yesterday's garbage disposal mess), and I've neglected nurturing the most amazing wordly relationship I have and that is with my wife. I could make excuses like, "Hey, it's ok, we all get busy", but where does that get me? Back in the same place next month.

So today I rediscovered my favorite place to pray and read at lunch; the top of a stairwell in my building. Seldom used, it's old, dusty, dirty, but most importantly, it's wonderfully quiet and away from this crazy pace we all live at.




It wasn't until then that I began to look back on my day. There was something different this morning, that much I knew. However it wasn't until I got out of the "noise" that I could hear Him again.

His words? "I love you"

It made me recall how I used to often, and recently not enough, simply tell my wife when she's in the middle of having a bad time, "I love you". Sometimes nothing else is said; sometimes nothing else is needed.

Then I thought about last night again. How after I unclogged my pipes (kitchen issues) my day began to change. I showed untypical patience to an untypical crying 3 year old getting ready for bed (turns out she's sick today). I showed untypical patience to my son who for the 100th time it seemed asked the same question about a book for bed. And my wife showed me what I have been missing SO much ... some time together after the kids go to bed for some tea, a snack, and reading His Word together, and simply talking.

Things seem to be flowing better ... He did a work on my pipes as well ...

I feel guilty/grief that I wasted several days in my ignorant and stubborn flesh, and while part of me says 'let go', another part wants to hold on to that feeling as a lesson learned.

For Paul states

2 Cor 7:10 "For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death."

So I encourage you ... find that stairwell of yours ... pull aside to pray today; pray from the heart. Let that "godly grief" fill you, not to bring you down, but to lead to you a place without regret. Let Him unclog your pipes ... let Him flow through ever fiber of your soul.

I pray that in the chaos of your day, in whatever termoil your facing, in whatever pain you're expierencing, in whatever frustration and anger that your are fighting, that he just grab your attention, pierce your soul, and you simply hear Him say: "I love you"

Living for the King,
~Matthew

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Don't lose the wonder ...

This morning I sat down to make a few minutes to read. I usually don't do this in the morning but have gotten inspired to do so lately by the stories and joy from a friend of my wife. So I grabbed my Bible and sat on the bed. I was prompted from one of my devotionals to open up Psalm 19, and to be honest my first thought was "*sigh* I know this already". I've read it many times, and while one of my favorite passages (it subtitles my blog) I wanted get something fresh on this first of hopefully many mornings like this. But I didn't argue (too much) and sat and read it anyway. It starts:

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.


It's then that infancy hit me again. I've walked away from the basics (or at least started to) ... amazing basics, but basics. I crave that deeper theology, that challenging doctrine, that conviction to push me further, but in that I lost sight of just sitting back and marvling at our awesome God. I've even felt a little more attacked lately and realized that though the stuff I have been craving lately is wonderful, I still need to take a step back, get on my knees, let the tears flow in joy, and just think "you picked me?" ...

... He picked you too

Diving deep into His ocean of love is amazing and filled with wonderful Truth. However let us never forget the view we saw from the surface that made us want to take that jump in the first place.

We worship an amazing God

Freshly Amazed,
~Matthew

Monday, September 21, 2009

Peace in Believing

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope" (Romans 15:13 ESV)


I took the above picture not too long ago and it seemed to have resonated with me. I often like to pray, read, and think about what I want to journal, and if possible find a picture that speaks to that. Not because I think I have to, not to fancy up my blog, but just because photography speaks to me. I like moments captured. I think we all move too fast ... I like to stop, look, think, and remember. Something about a bird in flight, high above me with the beautiful blue sky makes me think ... Peace.

... peace in believing ...

... believing in Him ...

We need to be different folks. We have been promised the most amazing gift. We deserve nothing - yet we're promised everything. We can't earn it, but we do have to accept it; accept it in our hearts, not just our head.

"Jesus answered them, 'This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent'" (John 6:29 ESV)

Sound easy? Perhaps. Perhaps Not. Christ wasn't some morale teacher, He is the Son of God. He has some pretty challenging things to say about our culture, our life, our choices. Things that our culture has twisted into being acceptable through 'social evolution'. He will poke you, He will push your buttons, He will bring you to your knees in tears, but most importantly He will transform you ... if you are willing. Have you read His Word? Are you really prepared to accept?

One warning; you will never be the same. You will shed years of garbage off your shoulders. You will have One who will love you no matter how messed up you were, or are. You will redefine being content, and redefine your worldview. Storms will come, and hit you hard at times, but you won't fall. After all you can't; it's His house you're in. And you will find Peace ... His Peace ... in Believing.

Forever Changed in Him,
~Matthew

Saturday, September 19, 2009

My Self Portrait

What and unbelievable mess we make sometimes don't we?

I took this picture earlier today as my wife went to harvest a few carrots from the garden for a dinner I was going to make. Of course it looked funny, crazy, and well worth a fun cell phone shot to share to the world on facebook!

However, little did I know that laying in my bed hours later, kids sleeping, wife out with some friends, that He would tell me ... "Self Portrait"



Why my self portrait? Well, let's just say today didn't go as I had planned. The power of prayer is amazing, and a powerful weapon against the enemy, and we need never leave our guard down.

I woke up, looked out the window at the incredible view, and thought, what a relaxing day this is going to be. Wonderful weather, my car should be sold soon, and an evening with the kids and their dad. It was in that moment I made a mistake that would vault most of my day away from Him and spin it out of control. I walked away from His throne without even saying good morning ... something rather out of character for me ... and boy did I pay.

Long story short, my car didn't start; though thankfully I ended up getting it resolved, however not before I experienced a comedy of errors. However I let the frustration of those events control me; not Him. I was rude to my dad, pretending to be interested in the buyers friendly conversation, and illustrated to my family via attitude that a frustrating day is allowed to make you grumpy and short. It was not a God honoring day for me; but at least I had my WWJD bracelet on (looking for the lightning bolt)

Though I suppose I need to walk away here with a lesson learned; I can do nothing without Him. Through it all He was still kind ... loving ... and now I welcome the conviction. It is that kindness of His that is meant to lead us to repentance (Romans 2:4). If you'll excuse me, I got some explaining to do with my Lord ...

May He bless you with conviction; and may you bless Him back with repentance.

Another flawed, yet joyful, brother in Christ,
~Matthew

Friday, September 18, 2009

Hindrances

As I opened the book of Romans up today at lunch I was immediately almost caught up in laughter (from amazement, not humor). This is an amazing book filled with so much to digest. It's comforting and convicting all at the same time. Every time I open Romans I could practically stop at the 1st verse I see and meditate on that for days!

Romans 1:22 "Claiming to be wise, they became fools"


It reminded me of a quote I saw recently from William Law: "If you have not chosen the Kingdom of God first, it will in the end make no difference what you have chosen instead"

This too made my mind think back to last night finishing up Revelation "Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy." (Rev 22:11)

So putting all this together, what does this mean ... to me? For one it sure makes me think of a common catch phrase: "Their loss, not mine"

While some may think that can be in conflict with some of His teachings; I'm not asking for you to not help them, just don't stop yourself. We are to go out and make disciples of all nations, yes, but it's important to realize that we can't let anyone slow down our journey. Reach out a hand, ask them to jump aboard, help them using Christ as a model, but don't you let anybody get in the way.

Peter, perhaps 'claiming to be wise, became a fool' for a moment when he tried to stop Jesus after he heard Him talk of his upcoming death ... "This shall never happen to you" he told Him ... Jesus' response? "Get behind me Satan! You are a hindrance to me." (Matt 16:21-23)

Don't let any "fool" or "foolishness" hinder you

Living for Christ Jesus,
~Matthew

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My Mouth ...

James 3:10 "From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so."

Why when our children are young to we correct foul words, and yet many of us as hypocrites use the same foul language ourselves? Perhaps not around our children but at work, sporting events, parties, etc.

Why does it become (more) socially acceptable for adults to speak like that?


I had a friend tell me that it's culture that determines what is foul, and what is not (a very common view). That when I read passages like this in Paul's letter to the Ephesians (5:4) "Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving" that I should realize that "bad" or "clean" language is determined by the culture. However that's the problem, we are letting culture drive, and that my friends scares me. Once we start moving the grey area wider and not drawing lines on what is truly acceptable behavior we get in a whole heap of trouble.

How long before pornography is culturally acceptable on broadcast TV? Do you really think it's not going to happen if we don't change at the rate we're going now? Honestly, Elvis shaking his hips was wrong not too long ago. Have you watched any shows on TV lately? Daytime soaps? They're 1/4" away from soft core porn some of them. So don't lie to yourself that it won't change. Our cultural bar of tolerance will adjust right along with it.

But let's go back to language again; same comparison. Think of the words that are allowed on public broadcast TV now and compare that with 20 or 30 years ago. Now fast forward another 30 years ... imagine the words that the FCC fines the companies for today that will be accepted by culture then. So what then? Do we move the Bible forward and say that when Paul was speaking (above) please refer to the "current list of bad words"?

I then had a friend start to tell me how even some words I think are clean now were certainly not clean during Biblical times. This didn't make me change my view, it just made my point all the more clear. Biblical acceptance, or cultural acceptance, you pick.

I was tempted to find pictures from college parties over the years, post them, and ask if you think they changed a bit. Then I was going to ask if you were ok with your daughter being in one of the more recent ones when she went to college. After all, wild open sex is the new cool. Oh ... but that's just culture that determines that ... so that should be ok then.

Lord help me wash my children with Your Word so they can know You as I know You. May they feel Your love and love You back by giving You honor and glory in the way they live their life.
My conviction among this is I'm cleaning up my mouth. Jokes, Words, Remarks, etc. What comes out of my mouth is an overflow from the heart. May He renew my heart.

I'm not going to "blend in" anymore. My Lord wants me to be a city on a hill, not a stamped suburban home.

I ask you to join me.

His
~Matthew

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

King of the Hill


























Proverbs 30:7-9 (ESV)
Two things I ask of you;
deny them not to me before I die:
Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
lest I be full and deny you
and say, a “Who is the Lord?”
or lest I be poor and steal
and profane the name of my God.

Have your prayed lately to ask God 'not' to make you monetarily rich? Even in my good intent I sometimes think about all the wonderful Christian things I could do with that money; how much I could advance His kingdom. And by the way, if you're having those good Christian thoughts in your head such as "I know I'm rich in Him, I don't need the money" don't fool yourself in thinking that you're immune to the flesh, I have. Lately, I think I'm more scared of having that one random lottery ticket I buy once a quarter actually coming up good; seriously. I told myself that it's not a sin since I barely spend any money and just do it for fun. However I now look at it much differently, it's not the gambling that is a problem (for me anyway) it's what could happen to me if I actually win.

About a thousand years after that proverb a revelation from Christ was given to the church in Laodicea: (Rev 3:17) "For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked."

I think I'm done with the lottery ... because now I'm worried about actually winning it ...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Thank you Lord for not being fair …

Let me first talk about forgiveness: true forgiveness; His forgiveness; eternal forgiveness. There is no way we will ever be able to earn it, deserve it, or even have the ability to thank Him enough for letting our Lord, our King, the Holy God, get crucified to a tree for our evil selves. That's why it's Grace, it's not earned. All our righteous deeds compared to His Holiness are like dirty menstrual rags (Isaiah 64:6). Are you low enough to even begin thinking about your Lord? Good, because we need to remain there. Forgiven or not, may we never forget where we stand next to the King of Kings. Lord, increase our faith!

So if we are so low, and He is so high, and we are looking for the promise of salvation, eternity, to "Know" Him (John 17:3) not just intellectually, but to be in fellowship with Him. Do you really think a verbal "sorry" or the 60 second bedtime prayer is going to get you that? If I think that's enough then I fear I will hear on that day "I never knew you, away from me you evildoer" (Matt 7:23).

We deserve nothing, and we're promised everything. You still want a "fair" God? I don't.
I have been thinking today of the most amazing gift, repentance. Scripture is filled with promises if we repent. John the Baptist lead the way for the Christ as they both preached repentance. God is willing to forgive, but are you willing to repent? Can you cut off that affair? Now? Can you stop wasting your company's time on personal business? Can you stop that habitual sin of yours that you're not willing to admit to? Are you willing to call some of those 'faults' of yours a sin? You either are willing to do what He clearly has called all of us to do, repent from our sins, or you are telling the Holy God 'no'. Oh, some may take time, and some need to be addressed at this very moment, but the change needs to happen now.

Don't throw this most amazing gift aside. Make a plan, grab an accountability partner, do whatever it takes, but most of all, pray. You will never get to know Him if you don't converse. He will help you … oh what an awesome God we worship. And a very unfair One I may say so! J

His,
Matthew

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Ready for the Harvest?

Jesus said to them after being asked to eat some food:
“My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest." John 4:34-35 (ESV)


I've read this passage multiple times; however I always associated it within the same context as Deuteronomy 8:3 where it reads that "man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD." So when I read the passage from John I always associated Jesus saying that His food is not of this earth, but comes from God. However that's not at all what he is trying to show here. Jesus' food says nothing about receiving, but only giving. His food, what feeds him, is work; is labor; is to do, not to receive. I think that is very critical not to miss here. He came as an example of servitude. However crazy that may seem that the Lord, our God, came to serve, it nonetheless is what is repeated in Scripture over and over again. We are to follow His example that he set forth.

Yes we are saved by His grace through our faith in Christ, but faith without works is dead as James says. I think we all too often may attend church service thinking that we are being spiritually fed. However as a pastor once said, church is not to feed you, it's to make you hungry (Dave Wilson, Pastor/Chaplain). What should feed us, what should satisfy us to the deepest part of our soul, is to do His will, and accomplish His work.

Are you ready for the harvest, or do you plan to wait another 4 months?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Handcuffed by this world

Galatians 4:9 (ESV)

But now that you have come to know God, or rather o to be known by God, p how can you turn back again to q the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?

Do we desire eternal life? Do we want to know that we have an ultimate purpose here on this beautiful Earth? I've seen the bumper stickers, signs, etc. "Life is short, Eternity isn't". So whey then do we continue to go back to the "weak and worthless elementary principles of the world" and possibly sell our soul to the devil (literally).

I don't want this world more then I want Him! I don't want an HD TV if it means that I can watch Hell's Kitchen in great clarity but have even more clarity of the real thing later. I know it's not about the products, but it is about the love for them. How weak and worthless that new camera is if my desire for it outshines my desire for Him. How weak and worthless is playing my XBox 360 if my schedule is based around my online league, rather then Him. How weak and worthless is my leadership as a father, a husband, and a friend, if I reflect this world, rather then His glory.



We have a wonderful world, I live in a wonderful country, and we have wonderful advancements in medicine, and we have technology that makes many things in this world just plain fun at times, and I have been blessed with far more gifts then I deserve, but I do not want to let myself lift gifts above Giver.

Transformation! Transformation!! Transformation!!!

Lord, increase my faith! I don't ever want to go back! Keep me in this place with You ... daily, may we continue to find His path for us.

Bless you all

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Can You Hide?

A piece of scripture reminded me this picture I took recently on Lookout Mountain in Tennessee. The big beautiful house on the top of the hill/mountain overlooking the city. You couldn't miss it if you were on the ground, or viewing it as we were from another bluff. It just stood out!

Perhaps you've read Matthew 5:14 where it reads (in ESV) "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden"


What struck me was not the overall concept so much as one word: "cannot". It does not read, "should not", it reads "cannot". If we are to be the city on a hill, we are unable to be hidden. In our church, our workplace, our home, the neighborhood store, or simply walking down the street talking to neighbors. Perhaps they might not be able to place what it is exactly that is different, but we "will" stand out if we are the city on a hill. It is what we are called to do.

The thought most definitely convicted me, as I need to be leading a life that stands out so much, it simply can't be hidden. I was listening to Francis Chan speak one time to a couple on an upcoming mission trip where it was stated (I believe by one of the other pastors at the church) that "we should live our lives in a way that demands explanation". We should be so different that people need to know what's going on. We simply wouldn't be able to hide it ...

The Peephole


So here I am, sitting in my hotel room in Tennessee, awaiting my journey home. I'm thinking about the past week, memories, family, waterfalls, cliffs, and yes, my amazing creator. So then I kneel before my bed, seemingly routine at times, and stare forward and see it. The dark room, everyone asleep, and the light pushing it's way in from the door and peephole. It's then that He started pouring words into my heart ...

"Why do you look for Me through a peephole?"

He gives me thoughts of my children, from the 12 year old, to the 3 year old. The experience of a hotel is so exciting, yet so simple. Elevator rides, the pool, heading out in pajamas to grab a cookie from the front desk before bed, having someone make your bed for you, and yes, even getting ice can be exciting for a child!

"Open the door!"

He continues to speak to me about our relationship, amazing what you can hear when you actually stop and listen. I felt like a child in a hotel, locked in the room, unable to just experience the joy that awaited me ... if I could just open the door.

"The door is open"

It wasn't a guilt filled "you-could-be-so-much-more" talk, it was the most loving and exciting talk I've had in a while with Him ... it's time I open that door with a wide eyed grin like one of my kids ... there's a lot to enjoy in this life before my next ... So much for a peephole, anybody have an extra door stop handy? I'm propping this thing wide open! Who's in? :)

Being Honest ...



Being honest ...

When I think about something that I trust most in this world the first thing that comes to mind is my wife, Marceen. Her commitment to me and this marriage is at the top of my list as to what I truly trust. In my honesty as a Christian, that highlights a problem though doesn't it? Because having said that, I should trust the promise of Christ (salvation & eternity) much more. Yet I (and I'm guessing many others) struggle with "truly" trusting in this, and it shows by the way we live and prioritize our lives (look at your checkbook, look at your calendar, imagine video taping or audio recording every action of yours for a day). If we truly trust in salvation and eternity, why do we continue to store up treasures here on earth and not in Heaven? The most joy I have ever had has been when I had moments of true Christian giving, bonding, fellowship, or support.

What if I was surrounded by people saying this:

"I don't know but I wouldn't trust Marceen if I were you"
"I think she's lying to you, she doesn't love you"
"Love is a feeling, it's not a choice"
"It's your life, make it about you!"
"You're living in a fairy tale, get real, stop being naive"
"It's ok to act the way you act, we're human, and it's human nature"

Imagine daily having people say that to you about whatever it is you trust the most in this world. I know for me it would certainly have an effect on my relationship and trust. And though it would only be what others are saying, not what I would know or feel myself, wrongfully so or not, it would start to play tricks on my mind, it would start to make me "doubt". Perhaps I may even start trying to find satisfaction elsewhere as I wouldn't be able to trust in what I should trust. See where I'm going here?

Well, if you ask me, that's exactly what is happening in this world with Christ, and certainly with His promise of salvation and eternity. It's a fairy tale, it's men twisting words, where's the evidence? The world is so violently against His Word (no matter how much intelligent theological and scientific evidence you throw at it) that what we hear is not the voice of reason; it's the seed of doubt. It's not what is real; it's the lie that is being whispered; and sometimes yelled.

May we learn to joyfully and with great excitement wait for the promise that is ours. And may we each think of something that we trust most in this world, and strive to show Him, ourselves, and this world, that we trust in Him more.

Lord, increase our faith! (Luke 17:5)

In His Joy,
~Matthew
Print Friendly and PDF

Want my journal entries sent to your e-mail address?

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

My Recent Posts

Blog Archive

Search This Blog