What I've been thinking and what I've been reading for you to compare notes.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Lord is My Shepherd!

Got up at 5 A.M. this Sunday morning. This is one of the few Sundays during the calendar year that I won't be preaching (because of guest missions speakers) but I am still thinking and praying about the service. Pastoring is a funny thing. You never seem to stop caring about the welfare of the sheep. My heart and mind are thinking about what they need to be fed today, and how they need to be protected, comforted and led. If I have these thoughts with one congregation - imagine the pastoral scope of Jesus' ministry for us!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Hearing God

Here's another book I want to recommend to your reading list. The author has lived the topic and it shows.

Hearing God has become one of my favorites. Here are a few quotes from Peter Lord's work to whet your appetite in the hopes that you will want to examine this work for yourself.

Page 13 - "Jesus' most repeated statement was, 'He that has ears, let him hear!' The last seven times He said it, Jesus added, 'What the Spirit is saying."

P. 25 - "The computer makes us fantastically more able to calculate and analyze. It does NOT help us to meditate. We have instruments that help us see everything from the nebulae to the neutron - everything except ourselves. We have immeasurably extended our gift of sight - but not of INSIGHT. For that, we have the same instrument of the 8th Century (BC) prophets! Potentially the same, but actually poorer...we have built ourselves up into power transmitting stations, but as receiver sets we are feeble."

P. 31 - "Mary was the only one who really understood what was ahead for Jesus - because she had sat at His feet - listening."

P. 32 - "It isn't the fears that make us worry, it's our interpretation of the facts."

P. 38 - "There is a hardness that has settled over much of the church of Jesus Christ. Not from a lack of hearing truth, but from a lack of responding to the truth we have heard."

P. 53 - "Hurry is not 'of the devil' - it is the devil!"

P. 90 - "God will often stop blessing a procedure so we will return to Him."

P. 113 - Lord quotes C. S. Lewis who said, "God uses miracles, not magic."
P. 114 - "Satan is essentially a magician."

P. 131 - "Your self-worth is never attacked by the Lord."

P. 147 - "One of Satan's primary weapons is discouragement - to cause you to stop what you are doing or do it in a half-hearted way. The enemy will point to and distort present appearances and past experiences. He will punctuate his attack with past failures."

P. 194 - "The tendency of unregenerate flesh is to "use God." (For ego exaltation, for successful ministry, for personal gain) "We would rather use God than be used of God."

P. 230 - "Good works = what I do at the command of God for others; Dead works = what I do for others on my own."

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

One of My Favorite Praying Spots

Here are two views of one of my favorite praying spots. The first is of me facing the west (you can see the Wisteria in the top of the tree down the slope in front of me) and the other of my sweet wife Deb facing east. It's on the overlook at Monte Sano. It's a peaceful and contemplative place. I really don't get to go to the top of the mountain enough.

Most of the time I go there to be alone with God, especially when I am seeking His direction or crying out to Him about something. Sometimes I can find peace and quiet in my study, but that calm is all too often interupted by the noise of passing cars, lawnmowers, and sirens. But at this place I only hear the singing birds and breeze blowing in the trees. And what I see reminds me of the power of a God so big and strong He paints a portrait on a canvass so large my problems are no problem for Him to solve.

My favorite time to visit is when I want to say "thank you" to God. "Thank you" is the thought on my mind in the picture above. I was thanking Him for His friendship, for my family, for my church, and so much more. I was thanking Him for being such a magnificent Creator!

I hope and pray that whatever difficulties you are facing right now that you will remember that God is able to help you overcome them. I hope you say "thank you" to a God who loves you enough to let you enjoy His creative handiwork.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Dan Brown's Code

It is a well-written novel by a genius of an author. And, as one Christian magazine article I recently read noted, it has done something most of us pastors have not been able to do - made people sit up and take notice of the history of the church.

The movie coming out next month will no doubt be a box office smash hit. Its a sham and a shame though.

The author, Dan Brown, obviously has an agenda to re-write history, both secular and sacred. Most of the 40 million-plus readers of the book and those who shell out their cash for the movie will not take the time to investigate, and neither are they already familiar enough with the facts to not be swept away in the plot of this runaway bestseller.

Some surveys have already indicated that a large percentage of readers believe that Jesus fathered a child with Mary Magdalene, a major premise of Brown's novel, and that their ancestors are alive on the earth today. That's pure drivel but we live in an age when people don't want to be bothered with the facts. Reason enough for the book to be dubbed "faction". It isn't true fiction and neither are the main premises of the book factual: that Da Vinci's painting of the Last Supper depicts Mary Magdalene, not the Apostle John, leaning on Christ's shoulder; that the Roman emperor Constantine was in effect responsible for the church attributing divinity to Christ in 325 AD, when, of course, Christ followers believed that He was the Son of God during His life on earth, and certainly immediately following His resurrection! They didn't need a church council to tell them that. The church council was to establish the official position of Christendom in light of the false teachings of Gnosticism - the Gnostic gospels, by the way, being some of the primary fodder for Brown's baloney.

I read The Da Vinci Code last week but I'm not recommending that you read it. I believe in Christian liberty - you decide for yourself. But I would say if you read it do so objectively. Do so with an eye toward being aware of what your neighbors are reading so that you may engage them in intelligent conversation on a current cultural phenomenon. Take the opportunity to share the truth about Jesus. He was the God-man. He did not take a wife and father a child. That was not how He saved the world. Mary Magdalene was a striking convert who loved her Savior but she wasn't the Holy Grail. The church didn't need a Roman emperor to tell them who Jesus is in the 4th Century - and she doesn't need a clever New England novelist to tell her who He is in the 21st.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Happy Easter from B.C. Comic Strip

Johnny Hart, the comic strip artist who draws the famous B.C. Comic strip is a follower of Christ. Cartoons like the one above openly show his faith. Have a great Easter!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Death and Taxes

Been working on my income taxes in preparation for paying Uncle Sam. Ben Franklin said, In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.

Well Ben, thank God this world is not all there is!

As I get ready to celebrate Easter I am reminded that Christ made it possible to live forever in the next world! No death or taxes there!

Many times I am ashamed to say I live like this world is all there is. I'm not living the life of an ornery and perverse individual but there are many more ways to neglect a proper eternal focus than that.

* I wonder do I love God ardently enough and show it by seeking after His will in everything I think and say and do?

* I wonder do I confront enough people passionately enough with the Good News about Jesus that brings abundant and eternal life?

* I wonder, since this life is not all there is, am I too worried about things like taxes in the first place? When Simon Peter was concerned about paying his taxes Jesus sent him fishing. (Matthew 17:24-27)

When those of us who have received God's grace get to heaven how many choices and worries in this shadow-life will we regret?

Things like death and taxes may actually do us a favor. They teach us not to get too attached to this vaporous world. (James 4:14)

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Praying the Psalms

In case you're new to my blog - I just talk about things that are on my mind or sometimes give quotes from an interesting book I've read in the hopes that it will stimulate someone else's thinking on an important topic.

Here's what I'm thinking about on this April Sunday evening. I'm thinking about a book in the Book of books.

Today - at three separate times - three individuals came up to me and offered information that was an answer to items that had been on my prayer list for over a year!

They were very specific answers to prayer and the fact that the individuals came to me without me asking about a situation impressed me all the more that God had heard my prayers.

Ps 4:3 (NLT) – You can be sure of this: The LORD has set apart the godly for himself. The LORD will answer when I call to him.

It should never amaze the Christ follower that God hears and answers prayer but it always gives me a shot in the spiritual arm. I want to share with you what I'm talking about in the hopes it will do the same for you.

For some time now I have been "praying the Psalms". Many people don't realize that although the title of this Old Testament book means "Praises", the book of Psalms also contains a lot prayers. So I have been praying the Psalms.

Here are a couple to let you know what I'm talking about:

Psalm 25:4 (NLT) Show me the path where I should walk, O LORD; point out the right road for me to follow. (I have been praying this recently in relation to some personal financial decisions.)

Psalm 71:17-18 (NLT) O God, you have taught me from my earliest childhood, and I have constantly told others about the wonderful things you do.
18 Now that I am old and gray, do not abandon me, O God. Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me.
(I'm not old and gray, but since I'm going to turn 50 in a few months, and recently learned I would become a grandfather this fall, I have been praying this psalm.)

There are many other prayers in the Psalms. I encourage you to look for them the next time you read through this great book of the Bible.