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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Harmonize Before You Play...

"Do not have your concert first and tune your instrument afterwards. Begin the day with the Word of God and prayer, and first of all get into harmony with Him." Hudson Taylor


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Balance...

2 Peter 3.18 speaks of growing in the "grace AND knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

Grace is active, knowledge feeds grace...or should...

But some, to drag out the cliche, grow so deep in the things of God they do nothing for the kingdom of God. Others are hyperactive, "zealous without knowledge."

Paul's prayer in Colossians brings balanced perspective:

"And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him,bearing fruit in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God."

Paul prays for increased knowledge that results/feeds/causes increased Christ-like living.

Ah, too bad the only way to learn balance is to lose it...

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Coke isn't Christ

This came across my twitterfeed today: "Coca-Cola was invented in 1896. In 117 years, the logo and product is now known by 94% of the world's population. In 2,000 years the Gospel is not."

I understand the point...sort of.

But the gospel can not be marketed as a soft drink...and Coke did not have the forces of Satan, the world, and the flesh against it.

Yet it appears the church -  broadbrush - awaits the "new" thing that will make evangelism easy...or at least easier.

But it is not, nor can it  be, "easy."

To share Christ means to share life. To share life means to learn to die to self. To die to self is extremely difficult...and needs to be repeated as we experience mini and major resurrections. 

Yes, the Body spends too much time fighting against itself, entertaining itself, and promoting fractional facets of the faith rather than "that which is of first importance...the gospel."

But even unintended guilting will not motivate.

People expect us to talk about what is important to us.

Therefore I need to be thankful I have another day to ask myself...how important is the gospel to me? How concerned am I about...not so much the millions that have not heard...but the nextdoor neighbor who has not heard? The fellow student who has not heard? The coworker who has not heard?

Bottom line...the issue is not motivation; the issue is obedience.




Thankful He Really Does...


Too often I forget the teaching found in Hebrews 7.25, "Consequently (Jesus) is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them."

Really? The King of Kings prays for me (assuming I "draw near to God through Him")? First John 2.1 declares we "have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous."

Really? Jesus is praying for me? For my situation, my cares, my struggles, my...everything?

Yeah, or the Word of God is not accurate.

In the Lord's "high priestly prayer" He makes clear that prayer was not only for the 1st century disciples, but for us, "I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word." (John 17.20)

Whether sighing or singing, triumphing or struggling, sick or well, full or famished...whatever the situation, if I pause to remember and reflect on the fact that Jesus is praying for me, hope and peace saturate and comfort.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Pattern of Prayer

For several years I've made Psalm 15 a part of my "pray-back-to-God" discipline...I started to type "habit" but I do not want my prayer life to be simply "habit."

Here's what I have written in my prayer list:

"Lord, today enable me to live blamelessly and do what is right...to speak truth in and from my heart...

Help me not to slander, to do no evil, to not take up a reproach against a friend...

Help me to see wicked people as wicked people..

Enable me to honor those who fear You...

Help me to be a man of integrity and thus a man of my word...no matter what...

Help me to do nothing, say nothing, or give anything expecting anything in return...

Help me to never say anything about anyone in order to please someone...

As, by grace, I pray, trust and obey; cause me to never stumble."

I keep praying it because, as all who know me know, I am no where near "there"....yet

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tune Tuesday - It's Still Amazing...

The love of God for a cosmic rebel...yes, it is still amazing; and though this is about 300 years old, it remains a favorite...perhaps it has been a while since you've heard it, and thus I post an instrumental version with the words to allow you the contemplative joy of reading the words...

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tune Tuesday - A Sober Classic

Suicide..a permanent solution to a temporary problem...the most selfish act a person can do...

And rampant.

We need to be careful to observe...and act...

This oldie from Petra should be rereleased or covered by Casting Crowns or someone...

Its message is vital...

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tune Tuesday - A Great Hymn You May Not Know

I'm thankful I attend a church where music is important...not based on whether it entertains, but whether it feeds...thus we use a lot of hymns rich in gospel truth...

Haven't heard this in church...yet...never heard it before a couple days ago..but...wow...the words!

Friday, September 6, 2013

The New Testament in Three Words

J. I. Packer's Knowing God is classic. 

And this quote is majestic in clarity:

“Were I asked to focus the New Testament message in three words, my proposal would be adoption through propitiation, and I do not expect ever to meet a richer or more pregnant summary of the gospel than that.

This is a phenomenal book...I read it about every year...can't recommend it too highly:




Sunday, September 1, 2013

Context...Clarity...or Confusion

Words matter.

Context is vital, in all things...especially, and most important, in the Word of God.

Linus' misinterpretation of Charley Brown's inquiry evidences that communication is not communication without clarity...which demands context.

In an age of texting, lack of eye-to-eye contact, and other hindrances to clear communication, all of us need to recognize our need to clarify, explain, place in context; and when we aren't sure what we are hearing...or reading...we need to ask for a clearing of the clouds of confusion.


Friday, August 30, 2013

"Sojourners and exiles" (1 Peter 2.11)

I love the beauty of God's creation...a couple weeks ago I was stunned by Glacier National Park in Montana; a couple months ago I was able to climb at 13,400 foot mountain in Colorado...spent time at my favorite camp (Crescent Lake Bible Camp in Rhinelander, Wi) as well as 7 other weeks of camp...saw the beauty of a sunset in western Kansas...the quiet beauty of Camp Men O Lan in Quakertown, Pa...the red clay of South Carolina...and so much more.

But as Keith Green pointed out, "God built all of this in 6 days...He's been working on heaven 2,000 years...we are living in a garbage can!"

Can't get my roots too deep in today, in this world..or, as Building 429 puts it:

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tune Tuesday - Ask not what God can do for you...

But ask what you can do for Him!

This is not really an "oldie," but too bad it's not played more often:

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Two Great Reads

In addition to eight weeks of camp, thousands of miles of travel, lots of preaching, tons of one-on-ones, a crisis here and a crisis there...

I was able to read two great books this summer in addition to my "normal" stuff...

Rawhide Down is about "The Near Assassination of Ronald Reagan." Written by Del Quentin Wilber, it is absolutely fascinating. So much I did not know about that day in 1981...The work is base on exclusive interviews and provides insights into the moment when a quick-thinking secret service agent literally saved Reagan's life as well as the brilliance of the surgical teams. Though I had to read it in late-night spurts; it could well be a one-sitting book...

Resolve - From the jungles of WWII Bataan" is the epic story of a soldier, a flag, and a promise kept. Again, fascinating glimpses into the lives of American soldiers (and others) who did not surrender but hid and fought in the jungles for years. Written by Bob Welch, it is a unique read.

And...as always..if you order by clicking below a small percentage of your purchase will be credited to this home missionary.




Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tune Tuesday - HOME!

Late posting because today was a day of travel...left Great Falls Montana at 6am...came home to my family...happy man am I....

The summer camp ministry started in Colorado, included stops in Wisconsin, Nebraska, Missouri, Pennsylvania, South Carolina...and drive throughs of several other states...great times of ministry, lots of cool things; lots of tragic stuff...the variety of life in a fallen world with fallen people...

But there is a place that should be a dress rehearsal for heaven...and that's called h o m e

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tune Tuesday - Keep Your Eyes and Heart Alert for Lonely People

I never got to see "America" in concert; love their music, their harmony, etc..

So many people think they are alone in this life...to include far too many professing Christians...so glad some churches are true communities of faith....so glad there are people who are willing to be rejected or called busybodies because they genuinely care...and thus this is my favorite America song...though it tugs at my heart...

I'm typing on my galaxy and for some reason I can't embed the video, so you need to click the link...worth the extra step:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=IRDnEqW1vAc&feature=plpp

Friday, August 9, 2013

Three and a half Decades????

About to complete my 24th annual year of speaking at Pioneers for Christ camp near
Quakertown, Pa....my 8th week of camp ministry this season...

Recognized a few days ago that it has been...gasp...35...years since I graduated from Bible school...and thus thirty-five years since I began "vocational ministry."

Thirty-five years of youth/prison/camp/school assemblies/civic organizations/etc ministry!

35 years of subsisting on missionary support; with no income but the gifts (really, investments) of people who believe in what I (and since 1982 I and Jane) are doing...

As I often say...the gifts of people make ministry possible while the prayers of people make ministry powerful...

So I've been doing some reflecting over those 35 (35?) years...and seriously considering writing some posts about things I've seen, learned (relearned), experienced, laughed over, cried over, been angered/frustrated over...and I will do that...either in my own journal or perhaps via this avenue.

Of course that produces a question...would anyone want to read it?

Would you?

Let me know by commenting or connecting...and, perhaps, by asking a specific question...thanksp

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Sunday, August 4, 2013

More Than 10K

Overnighted in Wheeling, WV...Jacob and I got "done" (hopefully the ministry continues!) with the second week of TFC camp in Alma, Ne Friday morning...drove home...switched cars to rental and picked up Jane and Janelle...drove as far as St Louis Friday night and to here yesterday...five hours to Quakertown and my annual "Korean Kamp"...

So much has happened this summer, indeed in the last two weeks...some fantastic, some stretching, some very painful...

So many hurting people...TFC "lost" a staff member to sudden death during the first week...Ken Massey was a tender warrior for Christ...a great brother...he was an ex-state trooper...we joked about traveling as the "ex con and the ex cop"...but his travel plans were "altered" (from our perspective, but "it is appointed unto all men ONCE to die...")

So many teens I wanted to teen-nap and take home..not that I am anywhere close to a perfect parent..but they live in such hints of hell rather than the dress rehearsal for heaven that family should be...

Through the victories, through the pain, through the question marks of life...there are (more than) 10,000 reasons to thank and praise God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tune Tuesday - Thundering Amazing

I do enjoy the group Celtic Thunder...and I love the song "Amazing Grace"...here's a great combo:

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

TUNE TUESDAY - Tricky? Yeah, but FANASTICAL

It is official. I am a rend-ite. Unapologetically.

Some might call this cheesy, gimicky, or whatever...I don't give a rip...I love it..and I love them...

Friday, July 19, 2013

Preferences, convictions, and CONVICTIONS

I can't recall from whom I first heard it...

"A preference is something you'll argue about; a conviction is something you'll die for."


Good saying.

But I've added to it...

"A preference is something you'll argue about; a conviction is something you'll die for; a thought-out, prayed-out Biblical conviction is something you'll let your family die for."

That last list is very short.

I wonder, do you agree?

And, of so, what's on your "let your family die for" list???

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Listen Up, Parents

When children are little we often fail to engage them in significant conversation. When they try to engage us, we respond with uninterested “uh huh’s.” Eventually they learn the ropes. They realize that we are not interested in what goes on in them. They learn that a “good talk” for us is a “good listen” for them. When they become teens, the tables turn. Parents wish they could engage their teens, but the teens have long since stopped trying.
 
Tedd Tripp

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tune Tuesday - What Song Reminds You Most of Church?

Okay, this is a tad negative I suppose...but every time this song comes to my mind I think of church politics etc...thankfully not all churches have this difficulty...but...Hey, any other songs come to mind when you think of church?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Augustine Nails It

Though his original quote, cited next, is deadly...deadly...accurate; it would also be accurate....deadly accurate...were the word "Bible" substituted for the word "Gospel"...and certainly that is the growing...and growing rapidly...cancer of the professing church today...

"If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you don't like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself."

Augustine

Sunday, July 14, 2013

What Would I Do If...

The teen shared that her brother had "come out." 

We discussed it; we prayed together.

Then she asked:

"What would you do if one of your children said they were gay?"

I shot a telegram prayer, and responded...recognizing that as in many such scenarios we don't actually "know" until/unless we are there...


  • I'd continue to love my child
  • I'd pray they'd come to their spiritual senses...no matter what the Lord did to enable that
  • I'd not attend or support in any way a "wedding" or civil union
  • Though my child would always be welcome, I'm not certain if I'd allow a "partner" in my home for a visit...but if I did, and if I let them spend the night; it would be in separate rooms...just as if it was a son with a girlfriend not his wife etc...
  • I'd shed tears, but I'd not beat myself up wondering "what did I do..or not do"
  • If my child were to draw a line and say, "you either accept us as a couple or you'll never see me again" I would tearfully hold to my conviction that I can't even insinuate approval of continued sin
  • And, for clarification, I'd do the same if one of my children was what we used to quaintly call "shacked up" with a member of the opposite sex..

Friday, July 12, 2013

I Think Compromise is great...

Ah, does this remind you of church, ah, discussions? We don't do too well on the "unity" thing...and everyone thinks compromise is great...as long as it isn't me that has to give in...


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Your Own Fault...Your Own Duty

Amazing how contemporary this is, considering it was written over 150 years ago...

 "I hear many daily complaining that there is such difference and contrariety among preachers, they know not what to do nor scarce what to believe.

 My answer is, Do but your own duty, and this trouble is at an end. is there any contrariety in the book of God? 

Pin not your faith upon men's opinions; the Bible is the touchstone. 

That there is such diversity amongst teachers is their fault, who should think all the same thing; but that this is so troublesome to you is your own fault, for neglecting your duty of trying all things by the Word. Alas! you are in a miserable condition, if you have all this while relied on the authority of men in heavenly things."

John Owen

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Thems That Got The Capital...

What follows is a fascinating article (both the article and the article it cites) regarding the death penalty and the Christian.

This Christian (as in me) could only support the death penalty if it was equitable...meaning...for instance...a 16 year old kid gets drunk, drives, slams into a car and kills one or more people but he survives; a 25 year old meth addict blows away a clerk in a botched robbery; a 40 year old businessman who has never done anything legally wrong comes home unexpectedly from a business trip, catches his wife in bed with the nextdoor neighbor, grabs a gun and kills one or both...if all three of these individuals are arrested, tried, convicted and fried I could support the death penalty...but the reality is the kid would skate, the meth addict would fry (especially if he was not caucasian) and the businessman would get it pled down to involuntary manslaughter at best...

By the way, the definition of capital punishment behind the walls? "Thems that got the capital don't get the punishment.

Here's a link to the article by people much smarter than I that is worth the read: CLICK HERE

Tune Tuesday - Honor Summer

What's your favorite summer song?

This is one of mine...no one sings it like Adams, but I really like Martina (of the impossible eyes)...though I wonder what her problem is; every time I see her she is dressed...like, fully dressed....not flashing...how does she expect to be a success?


And, here's a version of the original:

Friday, July 5, 2013

Oh Gaggeth a Self Respecting Maggot

Please, Lord, let this program fail...or at least don't let it go national! And may the one non-prosperity preacher get more airtime than the others...


Here is commentary by Denny Burk:
The Oxygen network is about to launch a reality show featuring six prosperity preachers from the Los Angeles area. The trailer above reveals a group of men who are completely under the spell of the prosperity gospel, which is no gospel at all (Gal. 1:6-7).
This is sad on a number of levels. Some of these men are bona fide false teachers, the very kind that the Bible warns us about (2 Pet. 2:1-3). Yet they will be presented to the public as what evangelicals aspire to be. I’m sure many viewers will understand these men to be a distortion of evangelical reality. But there will be many who will not. Unbelievers and skeptics will point to this sham as one more reason to write-off Christianity.
Christians grieve that this false teaching even exists and that it enslaves countless persons across the globe. We should be even more grieved that it will be displayed to an even larger audience—some of whom will buy in to the scam and others who will find in it an occasion to blaspheme (Rom. 2:24).
(HT: Micah Fries)
UPDATE: A commenter below says that at least one of the pastors–Wayne Chaney–is not a prosperity teacher. I looked at Chaney’s website and could not find any evidence of the prosperity gospel there.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

A Classic on the Fourth

Red who?

I know that will be the reply of many when I type, "Red Skelton."

A comic from the days of black and white tv and radio...

No idea of his spiritual stance...

No knowledge of his morals...

But this is great:

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Flag Rant

The tradition is a few centuries old.

Half-staff (or, on a ship, half-mast).

To honor, remember, reflect on a death.

The death of a warrior.

The death of a famed politician.

The death of other heroes in the line of duty.

An actor?

(Don't crucify me) People, regardless of age, who are murdered?

Lowering (after raising, which is proper) the flag to honor a life should be reserved for those who die in service to their country. Personally, I'm not convinced a politician (regardless of whether I like him/her or not) isn't, well, "worthy," of the honor.

A soldier who dies in battle? Certainly (and primarily)

A law official who is killed in the line-of-duty? Absolutely

Firefighters or other firstresponders who lose their lives in active service? Duh

But not an actor....not those who happen to be in wrong place at wrong time....

Counter rant if you wish....

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Tune Tuesday - Don't Roll the Dice if You Can't Pay The Price

The incredible power of choice.

Oh, the brainiacs and the analysts will tell us we are a result of our upbringing (the prison system, for instance, told me my crimes were spawned by my bad attitude toward the US because of my time in Vietnam...in other words, "it's not my fault")...

I guess this is a classic, but heard it for the first time today...truth is truth regardless of where it comes from:

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tune Tuesday - 10,000 reasons

Whew...hanging with a ton of jr hi teens in this third consecutive weeks of camp ministry. Great fun, just a tad tired.

The worship leader at this camp, Shua, introduced me to the Rend Collective. I absolutely LOVE their stuff...

You've probably heard the song, but click the link and watch/listen to them playing in a radio station...with an accordion! As you may or may not know I took accordion lessons for a couple years in my (way) distant youth (I tell some that there is where my pre-salvation life of crime started)...and, assuming I can get my hands on one, am going to start playing it again after summer)

CLICKhere



Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tune Tuesday - Memory Bringer Backer..

There are those songs that, upon hearing the first note, cause me to visualize people or events. Some are not good, so I need to take thoughts captive and move on, but some cause a grin of gratitude...

Such is the following tune from the days of my (distant) youth...I think I was like 14 or 15, and I vividly recall dancing with Diane to this song, and falling madly in love (for at least a week)....Do you have any songs like that? 


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Servant Camp Reflections

Last night I preached on "Jesus' View of Discipleship" (Lu 14.25ff) as we concluded Servant Family Camp at Horn Creek near Westcliffe,  Colorado. After a joyous and sometimes tearful time of sharing, I had the joy of setting the "stage" for the Dads to serve communion to their families.

Horn Creek is a wondrous place, and it was a wonderful week. I got to interact with several families, had some great times of discussion and prayer with individuals...and got to go white water rafting and climbed a 13,400' mountain.

It was an honor to see families interacting with others, working hard with each other, encouraging one another...and so much more.

There were folks from Texas, Iowa, Kansas, Colorado and a couple other states. They were able to come at "half price" because for 2 1/2 days they worked...planting flowers, building walls, sawing and getting rid of timber and more...again, a joy to see families working together.

It was a blessing to observe...and occasionally listen in on, family devotions each morning.

I pray 2 Peter 3.18 for each camper...staff...and me!

I left around ten pm...and 14 hours later stopped in Lincoln, Nebraska for the night. I hope to get out of here early enough tomorrow morning to make it to Crescent Lake Bible Camp (Rhinelander,  Wi) in time for the first counselors meeting. I will be there for two teen weeks

It is such a continuing privilege and joy to speak at camps...every year 5-8 camps each summer since 1978...

Amazing! And, in view of "let not many of us presume to be teachers, for as such we shall incur a stricter judgment," very sobering...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Aesop Was Right

It was Aesop who wrote, "Please all and you please none."

I know that as I live my life, and particularly as I fulfill my calling as a preacher/teacher, there is no way I can make every listener happy...nor should I try.

Neither should I try to offend...the Word proclaimed will do that on its own.

But I am still surprised at the very few times I've been confronted by someone who disagreed with a point, or my delivery, or whatever.

Tonight I spoke on First John and assurance. I mentioned that all too often "witnessing teaching" tells people to take their counselees to First John 5.11ff to read "These things I have written to you who believe...that you may know that you have eternal life." They are told to read those verses, pat the counselee on the head, and send them on their merry way.

What a disservice!

Make the time, take the time, to read what "these things" are! "These things" are First John 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 etc etc etc!

I made the point that three of the reasons I know that Jesus is real and I am in Him are:


  • My life is different (I don't "walk (characteristically) in darkness")
  • I can't sin and get away with it
  • I love people
I used some strong words to illustrate the three points, and got glared at by a few (I'm speaking at a family camp).

Afterwards several folks told me how much they appreciated the message; not one of the by-all-appearances-displeased folks talked to me.

And that is the norm.

And that frustrates.

Not frustrated that I made them mad; frustrated, in a sense, that I didn't make them mad enough to confront me.

I strive to live for the Audience of One, therefore I try to preach/teach/live for Him alone and hang what others think.

But I do wish people would be more genuine in their criticism...
primarily because it is quite possible I said something wrong, or in a wrong way..and if they were bold enough to confront it would make me a better man...

Oh well...

TUNE TUESDAY - Going Through Hell? Read Churchill...and Listen to

Winston Churchill once said, "If you're going through hell, keep going."

Don't know if Rodney Atkins stole it from Churchill, or came up with it himself, but...

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Stones of the non-Rolling Variety

I love cemeteries...especially old ones. The Rosita, Co cemetery is the most unique I've seen. Hard to portray in photos...it is like a dozen cemeteries rolled into one...like no planning, no regulations as far as where to bury people, or how to mark...
Anyway, what follows are a sampling of headstones...more than most will want to view, but some sad stories here....three siblings dying within a few days; two friends dying on the same day...
Look for yourself:




















                                      Unmarked grave in front of bench with discarded white flower






                                               I think this marked a grave...



                                     Sunsetting as I drove back to Horn Creek Conference Center
 

Rocky Mountain High

Well, yeah, they legalized gay "marriage," the okayed whacky tobaccy; but Westcliffe Co is an incredibly conservative area, and the location of Horn Creek Christian Conference center where am now getting ready to preach/teach a week of "Family Camp."

The drive over here from Hays yesterday was extraordinary...since I am soloing this time I stopped frequently to look at cemeterys, historical markers, etc.

I passed a couple federal maximum security prisons in Florence, and the other pics are from an early evening hike that I took...

Yeah, it's rather pretty...and a testimony to the creativity of the One who created you (and me!)

After over thirty years of camp ministry; I continue to be amazed I get to do what I get to do..and the doors the Lord opens. Pray for power, wisdom, discernment for me...and for open hearts/minds for the campers.

Here's the shots:
                                     This is where I spent Fri nite, moving to another
                                                  lodge today...not exactly ghetto




And, of course, this keeps running through my head:

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Sound Judgment of Judge Not

This is a thoughtful treatment of the most abused verse
in scripture...the book itself is great, and if you order it by clicking the link below the article a small percentage will go to help the Hagers, who serve as home missionaries and thus have the privilege of living "on support"..The article is long...but well written, and well worth your time...

Whereas it comes as no surprise that most Christians have at least one favorite verse of Scripture, it is somewhat startling to learn that most non-Christians have one as well. Non-Christians may know little of the Bible, but as certainly as night follows day, they can quote for you Matthew 7:1: “Judge not, that you be not judged.” And, ironically, this verse—which they love most—they understand least.

A TEXT ABUSED

Never has a passage of Scripture been so utterly abused, misunderstood, and misapplied as this one. Non-Christians (and not a few misguided believers as well) use this text to denounce any and all who venture to criticize or expose the sins, shortcomings, or doctrinal aberrations of others. One dare not speak ill of homosexuality, adultery, gossip, cheating on your income tax, fornication, abortion, non-Christian religions, and so on without incurring the wrath of multitudes who are convinced that Jesus, whom they despise and reject, said that we shouldn’t judge one another!
This problem is due in large measure to the fact that people hate absolutes, especially moral ones. To suggest that there really is an absolute difference between good and evil, truth and falsity, is to risk being labeled as medieval and closed-minded. In brief, for many (if not most) students today, “There is no enemy other than the man who is not open to everything.”
The irony, of course, is that in judging us for judging others they are themselves violating the very commandment to which they want to hold us accountable! To insist that it is wrong to pronounce others wrong for embracing a particular belief or moral practice is itself an ethical position, a moral stand. To insist on uncritical tolerance of all views is extremely intolerant of those who embrace a different perspective.

WHAT JESUS DOES NOT MEAN

Jesus is not forbidding us from expressing our opinion on right and wrong, good and evil, truth and falsity, can be demonstrated by noting two factors: the immediate context and the rest of the New Testament teaching on judging.
Virtually all of the Sermon on the Mount, both preceding and following this text, is based on the assumption that we will (and should) use our critical powers in making ethical and logical judgments. Jesus has told Christians to be different from the world around us, to pursue a righteousness that exceeds that of the Pharisees, to do “more” than what unbelievers would do, to avoid being like the hypocrites when we give, pray, fast, and so on.
All criticism must be preceded by confession.
Not only this, but immediately following this word of exhortation in Matthew 7:1 Jesus issues two more commands: don’t give what is holy to dogs or pearls to pigs, and beware of false prophets. “It would be impossible to obey either of these commands without using our critical judgment,” says Stott. “For in order to determine our behavior toward ‘dogs,’ ‘pigs’ and ‘false prophets’ we must first be able to recognize them, and in order to do that we must exercise some critical discernment.”
Direct your attention to such texts as Matthew 18:15–17Romans 16:17–181 Corinthians 5:3Galatians 1:8Philippians 3:2Titus 3:10–111 John 4:1–42 John 9–113 John 9–10; and especiallyJohn 7:24, where Jesus himself says, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment,” (emphasis mine).

WHAT JESUS DOES MEAN

What, then, does Jesus mean in Matthew 7:1–6?
It would appear that Jesus is prohibiting the sort of judgmental criticism that is self-righteoushypercritical, and destructive. He is prohibiting the kind of judgment we pass on others not out of concern for their spiritual health and welfare but solely to parade our alleged righteousness before men.
Jesus is prohibiting not loving rebuke and constructive criticism, but rather self-serving censoriousness. To be censorious, Stott explains,
. . . does not mean to assess people critically, but to judge them harshly. The censorious critic is a fault-finder who is negative and destructive towards other people and enjoys actively seeking out their failings. He puts the worst possible construction on their motives, pours cold water on their schemes and is ungenerous towards their mistakes.
To sum up, “The command to judge not is not a requirement to be blind, but rather a plea to be generous. Jesus does not tell us to cease to be men (by suspending our critical powers which help to distinguish us from animals) but to renounce the presumptuous ambition to be God (by setting ourselves up as judges).”

BUT WAIT—THERE’S MORE

But we must not stop with verse 7:1, for Jesus has much more to say on this subject in the verses that follow.
The reason he gives for not judging others in a self-righteous and censorious manner is that “with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you” (v. 2). The problem here is determining whether this refers to the judgment we experience at the hands of men or of God.
When we set up a standard to which others must conform, we are no less obliged to keep it than they are. That is why humility and love must govern our judgments. All criticism must be preceded by confession. Before we point out a fault in others, let us first confess its presence in our own lives.

WHAT’S IN YOUR EYE?

An illustration of this principle is given in Matthew 7:3–5: “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye,” asks Jesus, “but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
This principle applies to any number of situations, such as denouncing the external, visible sins of the flesh, like adultery, theft, murder, in order to excuse or minimize the internal, less visible sins of the heart, such as jealousy, bitterness, greed, or lust. Related to this is the tendency to point out the faults of others precisely to throw them off the scent of our own sin. This form of judgment is nothing more than self-justification. We think that if we can just make known to others the gravity of their sins, we will by comparison come out smelling like a rose.
Saints are not to be simpletons!
There is also an opposite and equal danger. In Matthew 7:6, Jesus says, “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” Here Jesus points out the danger of being overindulgent and undiscerning. In loving our enemies, going the extra mile, and not judging unjustly, there is the peril of becoming wishy-washy and of failing to make essential distinctions between right and wrong and truth and falsehood. Whereas the saints are not to be judges, neither are they to be simpletons!
Jesus is not saying that we should withhold the gospel from certain people we regard as unworthy of it, but he is a realist and acknowledges that after multiple rejections and mockery of the gospel, the time may come to move on to others. There are those who are persistently vicious and calloused, who delight not in the truth of Scripture but only in mocking it.

THE GOSPEL ABOVE ALL AND IN CONTEXT

In conclusion, then, several points should be made.
First, it’s important to note that Jesus speaks of “pearls” and not “gravel.” We must always keep in mind the priceless treasure and incalculable value and glory of the gospel message.
Second, there are going to be different sorts of people to whom we witness, and we must learn to discriminate among them (see Acts 17:32–34).
Third, we need not present the gospel of Jesus with the same emphasis at all times in an unthinking and mechanical way. Some are already weighed down with sin and guilt and conviction of the Holy Spirit and thus need to hear of God’s love in Christ. Others need to hear of the holiness and wrath of God. Others need to come to grips with the depravity of their hearts, while still others need to be confronted with divine mercy and forgiveness. Remember that this instruction is set in the context of loving our enemies. Whereas we are not to cast our pearls before swine, neither are we to be nasty and vicious and uncaring.
This instruction is set in the context of loving our enemies.
Finally, Matthew 7:6 probably does not need to be taught in certain churches or to certain Christians. Their problem is not that they are inclined to be undiscerning and often cast their pearls before swine. Their problem is that they aren’t casting their pearls at all! This verse is addressed to those who are so zealous for evangelism that they fail to discern the scoffer from the hungry soul. Most likely, our problem is that we have no such zeal to evangelize in the first place.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tune Tuesday

Okay, simple question that might not draw much response...do you have a favorite guitar player?

Here's one of mine:


Monday, June 3, 2013

Best Thing You'll See Today...or this week...

This is one of the most incredibly moving things this old dude has ever seen...growing up my family was dysfunctional before it was trendy; and I had zero relationship with my parents. But for over thirty years I've been married to my best friend and watcher her mommy four kids (and me!)...

You will want to watch this more than once, though it may take a bit of time for your eyes to clear up to watch it a second, third, or fifteenth time...


Hoopstar Illustration...

It would seem he is from another planet.

That could explain his impossible ability to stay in the air for such extensive lengths. But more than obviously he is a human being created in the image of God just like any other human. 

But Michael Jordan is the epitome of a superstar, and he proved that beyond question in Game Five of the National Basketball Association finals June 11, 1997. 


Battling either flu or food poisoning, Michael somehow found the will to play 44 minutes of the contest, and unquestionably won the game (and, quite probably, the series and thus the championship) with a heroic effort.

His coach said he was nauseous and suffered "dizzy spells". His center said, "(Michael) was listless. He could barely sit up. I've never seen him like that, ever. I was amazed he could even go out and play." 

Immediately after the game Michael Jordan told an interviewer, "It's all about desire. You just have to come out and do what you have to do. Hopefully the team could rally around me. I was really tired, very weak; but somehow I found the energy to stay strong." 

I know nothing about Michael Jordan's spiritual state. I know nothing about his moral character. But I do know his effort in an ultimately meaningless basketball game is a picture of what all disciples of Jesus Christ should strive after.

One can be a "disciple" of anything or anyone. But Michael's commitment to basketball gives a tangible picture reflecting the attitude that should be reflected in the life of the apprentice of Jesus. 

Michael had the desire to play. His decision was to overcome, not to be over-whelmed. His effort that hot June night was predetermined by his commitment and practice and desire for excellence ever since he picked up a basketball as a child. 

The disciple of Christ must display and utilize the same desire. Luke 14 records an incident that clearly demonstrates the Lord Jesus never attended a contemporary "church growth institute." He wasn't real big on being sensitive to a seeker's felt needs. His itinerant ministry certainly wasn't infected by a committee seeking to make the work "user friendly." 

Verse 25 tells us that "great crowds were traveling with Jesus." When will we ever learn that whenever "Christianity" is popular, something is wrong? Will we believe that Jesus knew what He was talking about when He said "Wide is the road that leads to destruction, and narrow the path that leads to eternal life, and few there are that find it?" Jesus turns and thins out the crowd in verse 26 by declaring that the disciple's love for Christ must so far surpass his love for mate, children, career, life, that by comparison, any "human" love is hate. 

Boom! 

Many must have left on that note. Jesus persists in his crowd-thinning efforts by declaring the verse 27 that the disciple must be a "walking dead man." How hard it is for us to recognize that even we who live in lose "rights" the moment we become bondservants of the living Lord! 

In verse 33, Jesus makes a far from crowd-pleasing statement: "any of you who does not give up everything, he cannot be my disciple." 

Give up? 

That's not American! Besides, I don't want to give up, I want to name and claim, blab and grab. Yup, that's what I want to do. 

Perhaps it is not accidental that the middle letter in the word "sin" is "I." "I" want, "I" deserve, "I" need. 

The Christian life is not to be a party anymore that an NBA Championship game is supposed to be a tea party for tall men. I don't know how anyone can attempt to explain away the clear teachings of Christ in the passage cited, or in the many other examples throughout the Word. 

The Bible admonishes us to "..rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." (Romans 5:3, 4) I'm sure Jordan didn't always rejoice in the practice sessions or the weight room. But he recognized that there is truth in the tired cliche, "no pain, no gain." 

He also knew, from experience, that "suffering (practice) produces perseverance." And, at least as pertains to basketball, the next step is character, and all the Utah Jazz fans now know that when an exhausted and ill Michael Jordan took to the court on June 11, he had hope. And, according to Romans 5:5, "hope does not disappoint." 

Michael, my proverbial hat is off to you! I hope you have, or will get, a saving relationship with the One who gave you the basic equipment to do what you do. And thanks for giving me a profound example of what desire, dedication, and discipline are all about. Lord God, may I transfer into my life that example.