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?

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