A Much-Needed Reminder

This past weekend was a much-needed refreshment for my soul. Ministry in the past year and a half has been difficult. While seated by the lake at the Wilds, the Lord pointed out this passage to me. Reluctantly, I must say that I had forgotten some of the ingredients of gospel ministry, of following Christ. Paul, through the Holy Spirit, reminded me last Saturday morning.

But as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; 7 by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8 through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything. (2 Cor. 6:4-10)

Pressing forward in His grace!

Wonder What Its Like

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Wonder what it’s like to know that you are just hours, days from seeing Jesus face-to-face?

That was the question posed by wife as we drove to see a friend who is living out his last earthly days. Cancer has crept in upon him and left him in a swiftly weakened condition. He is now under hospice care.

As we entered his living room, now serving as a “hospital room,” we were greeted by a sedated, yet peaceful friend who managed a bit of a smile. His weakened voice spoke in soften tones. His dear wife stood on the other side of his bed tenderly stroking his arm and speaking words of encouragement to her longtime companion and friend.

After my wife and I shared, with tears, words of love and appreciation from our heart, I read 2 Corinthians 5:1-5 and Psalm 73:23-26, 28. Our friend drifted in-and-out as I read. His dear wife acknowledged certain truths here-and-there. I watched God’s Word bring sweet reminders and grace-filled assurances to both of these precious believers in Christ.

We concluded with prayer and then we sang two stanzas of Blessed Assurance. Our friend’s wife joined in as she said to her husband, “We know that song, don’t we?”

Before we departed, I reached down and touch my friend’s shoulder and reminded him again what he meant to us, that we loved him, and that we were praying for him. With that, he gave me a wink and softly spoke, “I love you. Praying for you, too.”

To answer my wife’s question, neither of us know personally because we are not in that condition at the moment. From watching my friend and his wife, I can say, there is grace for the journey, peace for the soul, a song for the heart, a balm for the hurt, truth for the mind, a glorious reunion to come, and a Friend that sticks closer than a brother, because blessed assurance, Jesus is mine.

Indeed, precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints (Psalm 116:15).

I’ll see you on the other side, friend; then I too will be seeing Jesus face-to-face.

That’s My Old Church

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A man is rescued after many years on a desert island. As he stands on the deck of the rescuing vessel, the captain says to him, “I thought you were stranded alone. How come I can see three huts on the beach?”

“Well,” replies the castaway, “that one there is my house and that one there is where I go to church.”

“And the third one?” asks the skipper.

“Oh, that’s my old church.”  (Wikipedia)

How many of us could drive through our town or city and say the same thing?

There are definitely a few biblical reasons for leaving a church and moving on to another, but I am convinced that most of the time, it has nothing to do with biblical reasoning or issues.  And sadly, many of the stated “biblical issues” are not biblical at all.  They are just strong preferences.

Wonder how many churches in your area are splits off of another church, and sometimes sadly are a split from even another church?  Some church splits are due to personality clashes, arguments over a building project, music preference, translation issues, petty offenses, wrong interpretation of separation, perceived misconceptions, etc.

Then there are splits created by sins such as gossip, pride, sowing discord among the brethren, refusal to obey the biblical instructions of how to address conflicts, power-struggles, dictatorial leadership from pastors and/or deacons, unbiblical response to church discipline, bitterness, etc.

The point of this post is simply this.

  1. As spoken by Thom Rainer, “There is little good that comes from church splits.”
  2. God is bigger than any issue that creates a church split.  Why not trust God?  Everything man puts his hands to, he ruins.  The flesh profits nothing.
  3. Prayer and humility is the answer, not gang warfare.  We should be fighting in prayer not in corner groups, email or on social media.  Even in situations of doctrinal deviation, patience and prayer should be the overriding mode of operation.
  4. Remember that every church is made up of sinners, hopefully saved by the grace of God, in desperate, daily need of God’s grace, and purchased by the blood of Christ.  We are not our own (1 Corinthians 6:9-20).  We are to be growing in grace everyday (2 Peter 3:18).
  5. Whatever issue causes that split, because of a lack of humble resolution, it is the reason for the “new church” to start.  Is that a proper foundation?  Will it last?
  6. The greater testimony for Christ in our communities should be repentance, reconciliation and rejoicing, not division, discord, and death.
  7. Consider please the following passages of Scripture before ever being a part of a church split: Proverbs 6:12-19; 13:10; 15:6; Romans 12:3-21; 13:10-14; 15:1-3; 15:5-6; Matthew 16:18; 1 Corinthians 3:1-23; 10:31; Ephesians 4:1-3, 14-32; Philippians 1:12-18, 27; 1 John 4:7-20.

Sadly, the word “split” is more synonymous with “church” than the word “reproduction.”  With the first, there is usually death.  With the last, there is always life.  Paul sums it up correctly in 1 Corinthians 1:10-17.  May I suggest it this way—Are we of the _____________ version, or of ______________ism, or of _________________ denomination, or of ______________ college, or of ____________________ conference or . . . of Christ?

Oh that our eyes would ever be on Christ alone! (Hebrews 12:1-3)  When we stand before Him at the Bema, He is all that will matter.  It’s His Church anyway, not “my old church.”

 

 

 

Worldwide Intercession

Prayer - Spurgeon

While reading Psalm 61 this morning, the following thoughts came to mind about the far-reaching, awesome blessing of prayer.

  1. Prayer is the response of a fainting heart no matter where I am in the world (61:2).
  2. Prayer takes me to the Rock, the Transcendent Summit, that is higher than any place in the world (61:2).
  3. Prayer is my strong tower and refuge as it places me in God’s tabernacle/tent that can be accessed anywhere in the world (61:3).
  4. Prayer joins me to the heritage of those who fear the Lord’s (past and present) around the world (61:5).

“When prayer is a mechanical act, and there is no soul in it, it is a slavery and a weariness; but when it is really living prayer, and when the man prays because he is a Christian and cannot help praying, when he prays along the street, prays in his business, prays in the house, prays in the field, when his whole soul is full of prayer, then he cannot have too much of it.” (C. H. Spurgeon)

 

Thinking About Dying

Very, very thoughtful post. A must read.

RefreshHer

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Death. I’ve been thinking about it a good bit in the last week or so.  It isn’t something most of us like to talk about or dwell on, but because we live, we have to face that fact that unless Christ comes first (and we’re all praying He will!), we will all die.

Ecclesiastes 9:5

For the living know that they shall die:

In recent days, I’ve heard about or witnessed the death of acquaintances.  Their departures, like their lives, were totally different.  Both were believers and had  

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God Is Looking For A Man

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Recently while looking through a stack of papers that had collected on the bookshelf in the garage, I found something precious, challenging, and meaningful to my heart.  Immediately I recognized the handwriting on the stenographer’s note paper as being my precious dad’s penmanship.

At the top of the page were the words, “Jer. 5:1,2  Search for a Man,” and in the right corner, he had penned my name.  This was one of his many ways of encouraging his son, of being a mentor to me.  The writing is below.

God is looking for:

  1. A man who will not lose his individuality in a crowd.
  2.  A man of convictions who is willing to say “no” when all others are saying “yes.”
  3.  A man who is upright, pure, and generous.
  4.  A man that’s not a coward in any of his parts; no fear of man.
  5.  A man with balanced character, conviction, and consecration.
  6.  A man who wants substance rather than show.
  7.  A man who will be the conscience in his society in which he lives.
  8.  A man who delights in the privilege to glorify Jesus Christ.
  9.  A man who is dogmatic in his loyalty to the Bible, even if it costs him his friends.
  10.  A man who is determined to stand for Christ even if it becomes unpopular cause.
  11.  A man who denounces sin without apology in high or low.
  12.  A man who has a desire to fellowship with good men.
  13.  A man who displays compassion for lost souls.
  14.  A man dominated by the control of the Holy Spirit.
  15.  A man who knows how to discern between love that is based on truth or mere  sentimentality.
  16.  A man who has a decisive desire to build a strong Christian home.
  17.  A man who walks in the will of God.

Thanks, Dad, that even after departing this earth sixteen years ago, your influence is still strong in my life!  Thanks for being that kind of man. By God’s grace and for His glory, I want to be that man, too!

Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem,
    look and take note!
Search her squares to see
    if you can find a man,
one who does justice
    and seeks truth. (Jeremiah 5:1)

I Want To Be That Man

It’s Sunday!

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Have you ever really given some concentrated thought to all that happens in a local church on Sunday?

Sunday is a day of joy, tears, praise, mistakes, sin, confession, forgiveness, sadness, misunderstandings, questions, conviction, conversion, repentance, greeting, fellowship, preaching, truth, testimonies, introductions, singing, forgetfulness, encouragement, edification, communication, conversation, mishaps, announcements, listening, sharing, praying, burden bearing, heartaches, grace extended, mercy given, satanic attack, war with the flesh, victories, laughter, fears, disgruntlement, giving, decision-making, meeting strangers, discipleship, hypocrisy, rushing to get there on time, and so much more.

So, with that in mind, how should we respond?

Without a doubt, before any believer pulls into the parking lot, he/she must spend time with the Lord in prayer!  If able, on your knees in humble, contrite, calling out, dependent prayer before you leave home.

The Church is the Body of Christ, the vehicle God is using today to accomplish His redemptive purposes in this world, and the target of Satan, the flesh and the world.  The Church is not in a defeatist mode because we are on the winning side (Matthew 16:18), and God will do great things in and through His Body (Ephesians 1-6).. But, to be able to work through all the aforementioned things, to accomplish God’s purposes and plans for the local church, we must be in tune with the heart of God, not our heart!

You see, prayer is the declaration of your dependence upon God, your surrender to God, and your life before God.

Matthew 17 records the inability of the disciples to heal a young epileptic lad.  The father brought his case to Jesus to which He replied, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you?  How long shall I bear with you?  Bring him here to Me.  Jesus rebuked the demon and the boy was completely healed.  Jesus goes on to say that the disciples inability was tied to unbelief and a lack of prayer.

The whole goal of every local church Sunday gathering is to “bring people to Jesus; to help them move one step toward Jesus” for God’s glory!  Therefore, to work through all the stuff of a Sunday and not be a faithless generation, we must pray, . . . believing God.  He gives power to overcome our sin and weaknesses and gives power to energize our worship.  He can move mountains!

So, next Sunday in the midst of “all the stuff of a Sunday,” be sure to pray before you arrive at church, pray as you walk into church, pray with others in the foyer before church, pray at your seat, pray along with those leading in worship, pray while the message is being delivered, pray during the invitation, pray with some folks around you at the close of the service, pray in your small groups, pray for your pastors and leaders, pray, pray, pray, and when you have finished praying, pray!

1 Timothy 2:1-4 – First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Ephesians 6:18 – Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 – Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Ephesians 3:14-22 – For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Valentine’s Day Everyday!

Roses

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!