Valentine’s Day Everyday!

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Roses are red. Violets are blue. If you don’t spend big on Valentine’s Day, your partner might end things with you.

It’s expected that more than half (53%) of all Americans will pull out all the stops this February 14th, spending a collective $30 billion on all manner of heart-shaped treats and experiences.

However, signs point to Lotharios tightening the old purse strings in 2019, with spending on Valentine’s Day down 10%, falling from $30.3 billion in 2018 to $30 billion in 2019.

If you’re one of the 53% of Americans planning to spend on someone for Valentine’s Day, I hope you’ve got deep pockets: The average person is expected to spend $221.34.

These Valentine’s facts were posted January 16, 2019 on finder.com.  Wow!

Valentine’s Day is a very special day, and it’s fun to try to express our love in big ways!

This week, I cooked supper for my Sweetheart of 37+ years.  I found an easy recipe from Ree Drummond on the Food Network website and went to work.  Within an hour, we had lemon-pepper steak grilled in butter, seasoned steak fries with hollandaise sauce, blue cheese wedge salad with bacon and blue cheese crumbles, and parmesan toast.  (Now, a side note.  I’m not running to take my wife’s place in the kitchen!!)  We ate by the fireplace, Denise gave me a gift, and afterwards, we watched two episodes of the Andy Griffith Show and played two rounds of Take Two.  Total cost for the meal:  Maybe $10.

I have good news for you.  You can have Valentine’s Day everyday, and it won’t cost you $221.34 each day!

How?  Just work at your marriage by the grace of God each day.

  1. Tell your spouse each day, “I love you.”
  2. Kiss your spouse each day–not a peck on the cheek or lips, either!
  3. Hold hands.
  4. Take 10-30 minutes each day to pay attention and communicate with each other.  No distractions (kids, phones, TV, etc).  You can do it!
  5. Leave love notes around the house, in the car, in his shirt pocket, in her purse, etc.
  6. Text each other throughout the day expressing your love for one another and what you are up to at the moment.
  7. Be demonstrative in your love toward your spouse in front of the children.  They need to see what marriage really is like.
  8. Plan an inexpensive date (A ride in the car after supper, a walk through the park, sometime spent on the back porch, a personal pan pizza served on china plates after the kids are in bed, read old love letters and cards, just talk as you look into each other’s eyes, shut the door to your bedroom making it off limits to the kids, listen to some old love songs, recreated a date from before you were married, watch your wedding video, etc.)
  9. Open the car door and store door for your wife.  Seat her at the table, too.
  10. Look for opportunities each day to say, “I love you. I am thinking of you.”  If you don’t know what to do, pray about it . . . seriously.

Big event days are indeed fun.  But, it’s all the little things you do that make those big event days special and not “make-up-for-it” days!  And, . . . the first sentence of the finder.com report will have no bearing on you!

Dried Out, Delighted Men

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It happens every January at Men’s Prayer Advance, the most-anticipated yearly event on my personal calendar.

Thursday afternoon, men from all over the country gather for three days of preaching, praying, and “like-a-reunion” fellowship.  As the congregational singing begins, you can sense that this is going to be good and the preaching will be spot on, . . . but it’s not there yet.

Thursday evening, the singing is again filled with praise and the preaching is convicting and good, but it’s not there yet.

Then one of two major events occurs following the evening service . . . group prayer meetings.  These groups consist of men from their own local church or with various others attending MPA.  We are challenged to gather at our meeting location or back at the motel for a time of “CPR” praying.  Each group prays through three rounds of prayer, which consists of Confession, Praise, and Requests.  Each group is encouraged to get honest before the Lord.  Each individual is challenged to get clean, not cleaner.  As we work our way through CPR, we are in no hurry.  Sometimes, the confession goes around several times and can last for awhile as does the praise and requests.  These prayer meetings can last for an hour or on into the morning hours.  Meeting with God in honest prayer changes hearts, changes lives!

Friday morning, some men are a bit tired from the long night, but all are deeply refreshed and ready for the morning sessions.  The music and preaching are once again stirring and challenging, . . . we are not there, just yet.

Then comes the second most important event of the MPA, the Sweet Hour of Prayer.  Each man is given a folded brochure that will help guide him through an hour of private prayer before the Throne of Grace (Matthew 6:5-8).  For many first-timers, they find themselves asking, “How can I pray for one hour?”  Well, let me just say that this question has been answered many times over the years with simply, “Wow! I ran out of time!”  As men are located all over the campus inside and outside before the Throne of Grace, the touch of God comes upon us, and we can say, “I have seen the Lord!”  Everything changes.  Spiritual vision becomes clearer.  Consciences are clean.  Some trust Christ as their personal Savior.  Homes and marriages are restored.  Phone calls back home are made. Men are revived. (Psalms 51; 85:6; Isaiah 6:1-8)

What happens?  It’s called prayer!  You see, when we first come to MPA, so many of us have been “intoxicated” with all that this nasty world throws at us with its sin and satanic influence that it takes those two prayer events combined with the preaching of God’s Word to get us “dried out” and delighted in our God (Psalms 34:1-3; 37:4)!

Come Friday night, it’s on!  There is an anticipation in the hearts of men that begins with the first song and carries through to the final amen (Psalm 100:1-5).  The praise is glorious, the singing of 750 men is victorious, and the altar is filled with tender-hearted, broken, contrite men drawing ever nearer to God (Psalm 34:18; James 4:8)!

Then on Saturday, it’s time to hear one more message and reflect upon all that God has done in our hearts for His glory.  We know we cannot take MPA with us, but the God of MPA never leaves us (Hebrews 13:5b-6).  We know He will enable us to continue on for Him as we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 9:8; 2 Peter 3:18).

You see, that’s why it’s call an Advance!  The greatest advancements we make in our Christian lives are “on our knees” in prayer (Jeremiah 33:3; Matthew 7:7-11)!  As Harold Vaughan reminded us, “How refreshing to be clean in the presence of God!”

Who Will You Be in 2019? (Part 2)

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Our greatest and most important investment in 2019 involves our personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. The statement of the Apostle Paul found in Philippians 1:21, For to me to live is Christ, and in 3:8, 10, Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord . . . that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.

With that in mind, I want to share some resources to help you move forward in your walk with Christ, your growth in the knowledge of God and the application of the Word of God on a daily basis for 2019.

Besides your passion to read God’s Word in 2019, what else to you plan to read in this new year?

In this blog post, I am giving some book suggestions for men since my wife gave many helps in her Wednesday post for ladies: Suggestions for Books, Journals, Planners and More
Biblical Manhood

The Masculine Mandate: God’s Calling to Men, Richard D. Phillips (Reformation Trust)

Disciplines of a Godly Man, R. Kent Hughes (Crossway Books)

A Man After God’s Own Heart, Jim George, (Harvest House Publishers)

Biblical Marriage

Like the Shepherd: Leading Your Marriage With Love and Grace, Robert Wolgemuth (Regnery Faith)

The Ministry of Marriage, Jim Binney (Faithful Life Publishers)

What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage, Paul David Tripp, (Crossway Books)

Biblical Purity

Finally Free: Fighting For Purity With the Power of Grace, Heath Lambert (Zondervan)

Sexual Detox: A Guide for Guys Who Are Sick of Porn, Tim Challies (Cruciform Press)

The Pursuit of Holiness, Jerry Bridges (NavPress)

Biblical Dads

Raising a Modern-Day Knight: A Father’s Role In Guiding His Son to Authentic Manhood, Robert Lewis, (Tyndale House Publishers)

The Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan (Charles Foster Publishing)

Parenting, 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family, Paul David Tripp (Crossway Books)

Biblical Church Body Life

Trellis & the Vine: Colin Marshall & Tony Payne (Matthias Media)

The Vine Project: Shaping Your Ministry Culture Around Disciple-Making, Colin Marshall & Tony Payne (Matthias Media)

Letters to the Church, Francis Chan (David C. Cook)

Miscellaneous

Experiencing God Workbook: Knowing and Doing the Will of God, Henry Blackaby (B & H Publishers)

Forgiveness: Discover the Power and Reality of Authentic Christian Forgiveness, Gary Inrig (Discovery House)

Power Through Prayer, E. M. Bounds

The Beauty of Intolerance: Setting a Generation Free to Know Truth & Love, Josh & Sean McDowell (Shiloh Run Press)

Stonewall Jackson: The Man, the Soldier, the Legend, James I. Robertson (MacMillan USA)

All Things For Good: The Steadfast Fidelity of Stonewall Jackson, J. Steven Wilkins (Cumberland House)

This list could go on and on, and I even feel guilty for leaving them out, but this is just a mere sampling of some good, helpful reads. I would also encourage you to visit the online bookstore of christlifemin.org and check out their devotionals, books on prayer, parenting, manhood, etc.

Indeed, “Leaders are readers.” Men let’s go against the grain and be men who read and lead! Are you ready?

Who Will You Be in 2019?

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Dr. Bob Jones, Sr, often said, “There are no stains on the pages of tomorrow!”  That’s a challenge, comfort and encouragement.  Truth is, what I plan today has effect upon my tomorrow which will become yesterday and then collectively a life.

With that in mind, I want to share some resources to help you move forward in your walk with Christ, your growth in the knowledge of God and the application of the Word of God on a daily basis for 2019.

The most important thing you will do in 2019 is keep your eye on Christ and watch what He does through His Word.  I am so intrigued that on His divinely human side Jesus did what we are to do:  Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel (John 5:19-20). I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me (John 8:28).

First of all, what is your plan for reading God’s Word in 2019; His fresh Love Letter to you?  The YouVersion Bible app provides many plans for you to follow.  May I remind you that the goal of reading the Word is not to check off boxes, but to come to know the mind and heart of Christ whereby we think and act biblically (Psalm 119:9-11; Matthew 4:4; John 6:63; 1 Corinthians 2:16; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 4:12).

Along with reading the Word of God, may I strongly suggest using a journal to record what God says to you each day.  It may be one sentence or a whole paragraph or more.  Think about it!  The God of Heaven and Earth is speaking to you; your Heavenly Father if you are born again (John 14:6)!!  Therefore, it is important to watch Him as Jesus did.  You don’t want to miss it! Then after a few days, read back over what you have written and see how God is leading you, what He is teaching you about Himself, and what He has revealed to you about you.

Use a spiral-bound notebook, a journal, your tablet or a journaling Bible.  I simpley record the day and date, the Scripture passages I am reading, and even what the weather is like on that morning.  Here is what my journal looks like from yesterday:

Tuesday, Jan. 1                                          51 degrees, partly cloudy

Matt. 1:1-17; Acts 1:1-11; Psalm 1; Genesis 1-2

As I read through these passages today, the Lord reminded me that Christ Who was active in creation and came to redeem a genealogy of sin, is the One I am to be a witness of as I delight and walk in His Word, planted by the rivers of living water.

That thought ran through my mind all day.  As Denise and I were enjoying our annual New Year’s Day brunch at Cracker Barrel, I was brought to tears as I looked at all kinds of people in the restaurant and wondered if they knew this Christ, my Savior.  The Word I had read in the morning moved me to see people as Jesus does and softened this old, selfish heart for them.

I will share more tomorrow about some other resources.  Let me close by sharing the following.

Last Sunday morning, a dear, godly lady said to me after the morning gathering, “Pastor, last week I was going through some things and counted 16 spiral-bound notebooks of my Bible study notes.  I don’t want to throw them away.  Perhaps they will be found someday and be an encouragement to my son who needs the Lord.”  I can attest that when you are in conversation with this dear saint of God, you are speaking to a Word–filled believer.

Let’s meet with the Lord today!  He is waiting for you (Matthew 11:28-30; Luke 10:38-42).  Listen to Him (Revelation 2:7).  Start with a clean page.

Because Love Has No Limits!

“What would you do for someone you love?”

That was the headline at the top of our local newspaper insert, Parade. Oh, and yes, in this instant internet age I still read the newspaper. Nevertheless, that question piqued my interest here on the brink of a new year.

Immediately my thoughts were turned to, “What would I do for the One Who Loves me eternally? What would I become and do the for Christ Who gave Himself for my redemption and justification? What would I do for Christ Who demonstrates His for me love today, tomorrow and for all eternity?”
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).

In these past few days, we have heard much through preaching, podcasts, and social media to encourage us to begin a new year with a “clean sheet / a fresh start.” Therefore, may I simply ask each of us to consider what we will be and do in 2019 for the Lord Jesus Christ, the One Who motivates us by His eternal, unconditional love?

The answer should be the same one word answer as found under the question in the Parade insert that prompted this post. That word . . . EVERYTHING.

 

Twelve Days of True Love

What will you do these next twelve days?  Look for a partridge in a pear tree?  How about five gold rings?  Maybe eight maids a milking?  Six geese a laying?  (Better watch where you step!)  No matter, they all came from your “true love.”  Wow!

When you think of true love, I doubt you consider a partridge, milking a cow, seven swans gliding along on a pristine pond or drummers having at it!  Now, I will give you this much, ladies, you might think of  gold rings!!

So let’s set aside all of the aforementioned “true love” gifts and consider how you can give true love in the next twelve days between you and your spouse.

  1.  May sure your love relationship with the Lord is fresh and daily renewed (John 3:16; Matthew 22:37; John 15:9; Luke 10:42; Romans 12:1-2).
  2. Share with your spouse the blessings of the love relationship between you and your Lord!
  3. Join hands with your spouse and together talk/pray to Jehovah Who loves you with an everlasting, unconditional love.
  4. Enjoy the marriage love relationship that God gave you by taking time to just look into each other’s eyes and share terms of endearment with each other and words of appreciation for each other.
  5. After the kids go to bed, make popcorn and watch a Christmas movie. Be sure to snuggle up with each other and turn off your smartphone! Your relationship with each other is more important than your children and phone notifications.
  6. Talk a walk in the snow holding hands all the while.
  7. Sit by the Christmas tree and read Luke 2 or a Christmas devotional.
  8. Make Christmas sugar cookies together and be sure to give each other some sugar!
  9. Hang some mistletoe and . . . .
  10. Give each other a small gift by the tree each night until Christmas; play Christmas music on Pandora.
  11. Breakfast served to your spouse in bed on Saturday morning.
  12. Without interruptions, sit by the fire and make up your own list of twelve true love gifts.

I promise you, this will be better than three French hens, four calling birds or ten lords a leaping!

Get Rid of That Flute! Trash That Trumpet!

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Music in church.

What God has created for an awesome expression of praise, worship, solace, joy, meditation, conviction, challenge, surrender, and discipleship is sadly a major source of division in the Body of Christ and has been for centuries.

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Truth For Today

Election Day 2018

Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”

He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”

I will tell of the decree:
The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

(Psalm 2)

Music. I said it.

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You want to start a possible firestorm in a conversation?  Mention the word “music.”  Even writing about this causes me to cringe a bit.  There is much debate about the kind of music being used today in our churches.  May I kindly offer the following?

Often the cry is heard, “We don’t sing the old hymns in our church anymore,” or “I sure miss the old hymns,” or “These old hymns will die if we don’t sing them in church.”  No matter whether that is the case or not, may I ask, as I was reminded recently, “Do you sing hymns at home?”

The best place to learn the great hymns of the faith is at home.  Sing them at supper.  Sing them in the car.  Sing them around the fire pit.  Sing them during your family devotions.  Sing them on the way to church.  Sing them while holding your child in your arms.  Sing them while washing dishes.  Sing them at family gatherings.

On any given Sunday, a congregation may sing around 30 minutes. How many opportunities do you have at home each week?  Take advantage of those hours to disciple and worship with your family and guests.  Make your home a house of praise! I have a hunch your worship time on Sunday will be more Godward-focused and heart-expressed.

Sing praises to the Lord, who dwells in Zion! Declare His deeds among the people (Psalm 9:1).

I will sing to the Lord, Because He has dealt bountifully with me (Psalm 13:6).

Therefore I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the Gentiles, And sing praises to Your name (Psalm 18:36).

Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy (Psalm 33:3).

Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord (Ephesians 5:18).

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord (Colossians 3:16).

Thank the Lord He created music!  Sing!!

Just What You Need . . . Everytime!

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My dear wife loves to cook! Often I have heard her say, “Cooking is so much fun especially when you have the right tools.”

Just recently, after baking a few loaves of French bread, she was delighted to pull out her stash of newly purchased double-bag size bread bags from King Arthur Flour. She looked at me, held up a bag and reveled in the size, exclaiming, “See! I can also use these for large loaves of sour dough bread. It’s just what I need!”

This reminds me of God’s Word. The absolute, eternal, always-relevant words of scripture are always “just what you need” in every situation of life every time.

Psalm 119:97-105

97 Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.

98 Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me.

99 I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation.

100 I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts.

101 I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word.

102 I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me.

103 How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

104 Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.

105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Proverbs 2:6-11

6 For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;

7 he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity,

8 guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints.

9 Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path;

10 for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;

11 discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you,

So, since the Word is applicable, relevant, and eternal for all situations of life, why do we not avail ourselves to reading the Word, memorizing the Word, meditating on the Word, listening to the Word, and sharing the Word? Why do we take a leisurely approach to attending gatherings where the Word is preached? Why do we too often have a non-committed attitude about attending church, retreats, conferences, small groups, lunches, etc. where the Word will be taught and upheld with high esteem?

2 Timothy 3:16-17 reminds us, All Scripture is breathed out by God and is PROFITABLE for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

The Word of God is always profitable; it’s always just what you need!