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Archive for November, 2011

I’ve missed you.

During the past week of activity on and near the Oregon coastline, I didn’t have opportunity to prepare the weekday Morning Devotions and the absence of expression left a distinct void within me.

I’m glad to be back in the saddle.

Because our return flight bordered on red-eye status — we hit the bed at 2:47 a.m. — this will be a somewhat abbreviated devotion.

Thank God that its content is packed with potency attributable to the richness of God’s Word.

It’s so easy to become entrapped by declining self-confidence when we see others who are better than us at certain jobs, at staying fit, at making and managing money, at personal grooming or at forming satisfying relationships.

And when we make poor choices regarding spirituality, our view of self can take an even bigger hit.

That’s why passages like this one from today’s One-Year Bible reading can do SO much to help us regain confidence and strength.

“If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.” (I John 1:7-8).

Listen, I should try my best at all times to be a good family member, a good provider, a good neighbor, a good citizen and the list of expected competencies goes on and on.

I know that I’m going to fail at times, however, and allow my feet or hands or thoughts slip into the shadows. I’m grateful that the promise and grace of God gives me a safe harbor to speed toward when I’m in the self-induced storms of personal error.

I just have to remember to set sail toward the Lighthouse.

For that’s where I’ll find the calming, cleansing peace that I need when I’m tired and when I’ve been in the wrong.

Please keep the Lighthouse in view, my friend. That way, we’ll enjoy the journey to safe harbor together.

As always, I love you
Martin

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I’m travelling for the next week and so this is the last Morning Devotion until Nov. 30. Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

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Some Christian ministries promote wealth as an indirect goal and sign of God’s favor. It pains my soul to see these displays of “golden trinkets” recruitment strategies.

Fortunately, most other Christian ministries promote a more balanced view of material things. Yes, there is still room for improvement among the many believers whose offering levels aren’t what God desires, as in tithing and other offerings above that amount. But at least their congregations aren’t typically preaching and teaching the prosperity gospel with “gimme wealth and health…and I want it now!” messages.

The congregation I serve is a humble fellowship in many ways, including this one.

Others might look at our facilities and our Sunday apparel and perceive “plain.”

We’re clearly not pushing golden trinkets.

That doesn’t mean, though, that we don’t trust God to provide what we need and sometimes what we want. And that doesn’t mean that members aren’t challenged to give more generously to God so that ministry might more generously occur to our community and missions efforts.

It’s just that our focus is to seek what He wants from us, not what we want from Him.

He’s God. He’ll do what is best for us.

That’s our philosophy and that’s why we don’t harbor disappointment when we read verses such as one in the One-Year Bible for today.

Better the poor whose walk is blameless than the rich whose ways are perverse.” (Proverbs 28:6).

Hmmm….. I wonder how often the golden trinket preachers sermonize about this passage?

Jesus said we’re to store up treasures in heaven where bugs and rust can’t destroy or steal them.

The blameless believer with little stuff has a glorious hope in eternity.

The faithless person with all kinds of stuff has only an eternal death sentence.

Who really IS the rich person?

Don’t live for trinkets, my friend. And don’t make faith decisions based on the promise of stuff that’s just going to burn.

Jesus said it best. “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.”

What promise could be richer than that one?

As always, I love you
Martin

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Some verses are so clear.

A passage in today’s One-Year Bible reading is such a verse.

Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.” (James 1:26)

My goodness.

Please join me in praying that we both keep a tight rein on our tongues, making sure that they are saying things that build up others rather than tearing them down.

We’re surrounded by people with “wrecking ball” lips. That’s why it’s SO important that we pray for them and make sure that our tongues bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

A priceless faith will be ours if we’ll view the lives of others around us as priceless.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Return to your rest, my soul, for the LORD has been good to you” (Psalm 116:7).

Sometimes, the simplest remedies to the heaviest of burdens are found by going home.

It was true for the young man in the parable of the Prodigal Son.

And it was true for Abraham whenever he mistakenly thought he’d be better off in Egypt.

I wish I could say that I’ve never wandered after plans or things that led me away from deep intimacy with the Lord.

But I can’t.

Though I’ve never renounced faith, or even come close to doing so, I’m certain that I’ve encountered difficulties unnecessarily because of occasionally not staying as close to God as I possibly could.

Perhaps your track record of faith also has a few unwanted spots on it.

Listen, it’s so much better and easier just to stay in close intimacy with the Father by reading His Word daily and spending a good chunk of time in prayer with Him.

We avoid SO many headaches and losses this way.

God has only done good for us despite our inability to say that we’ve only done good for Him.

Real peace is found only in His presence.

Seek His fellowship.

Savor His favor.

If you’re enjoying soul rest now because of a growing intimacy with your Abba Father, I rejoice with you.

If you’re struggling and stressing and losing position in the world, your place of rest awaits.

Return to your Father. His arms are wide open if you’ll go to Him.

Just like the arms of His Son Jesus were wide open on the cross to build the eternal bridge between your sometimes-bad soul and the always-good God.

As always, I love you
Martin

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If you follow sports news, you know that pro quarterback Tim Tebow is a lightning rod of criticism from countless sportswriters, pro football athletes and bloggers because he wears his Christian faith on his sleeve.

He doesn’t shove his Christianity into anybody’s face, but instead is humble and concise when planting random blips of belief into post-game interviews.

Many of those who have rejected Christ and yet are assigned to cover the Denver Broncos football team seemingly can’t stand that Tebow takes a stand for faith, even though the statements are parenthetical and very brief.

What makes it worse for the critics, it seems, is that he is winning games despite the brutal criticism he faces.

Lori and I are praying for him because he faces such an onslaught of mean-spirited criticism.

Thankfully, it doesn’t seem to be disrupting his display of devotion.

Thanks, Tim, for being a good example of Hebrews 13:15.

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.”

You and I know the social pressure that exists for Christians to keep quiet about their faith. Sadly, we must admit that we’ve caved in too many times.

We’re called to do better.

The citics of Christ wanted Him to shut up. He kept loving and listening and teaching and inviting.

Most rejected Him but some listened and now they live eternally.

The critics of Tim Tebow and of you and me want Christians to shut up. But we are to keep loving and listening and teaching and inviting.

Most will reject our beliefs and what we share, but some will listen and live eternally.

Listen, if you and I and Tim endure 50 years each of harsh criticism and even ridicule because of our verbalized beliefs, that’s a tiny price to pay compared to the priceless value of even just one person in each of our lives inheriting an eternity in heaven.

It’s all about perspective, my friend.

Football is a temporary game, but faith is for real and eternal. Tim Tebow knows this and is not ashamed of the Gospel since it is the power unto salvation.

And so our jobs are temporary, our social groups are temporary, our family status is temporary, our school popularity status is temporary.

Let’s openly profess Christ’s name. It’s the only hope we and others have.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Among the great humblers of mankind is the mirror.

All it takes to remind us that we’re far from perfect is a groggy-eyed glance in the mirror right after we get out of bed in the morning.

Pillow head.

Oily skin.

Unique, temporary facial wrinkles from a twisted pillow.

Puffy face.

We’re definitely not ready for the camera.

How embarrssing it would be for most if their just-got-out-of-bed face were posted on Facebook for all to see…hmmmm….

I’m glad that showers, brushes, razors and — for women — make-up are able to bring us to the place that we’re not afraid to show our faces in public.

I’m grateful that the same mirror that humbles us when we wake up can also encourage us when we’ve finished preparing to face the world.

I was reminded of this today when I read Proverbs 27:19.

As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.”

I can’t tell my bathroom mirror to make me look like a clean-shaven Brad Pitt. It will only reflect what stands before it.

And I can’t tell my life to reflect the famous, highly sanctified heart of a great Christian leader. It will only reflect my heart’s devotion to God and to His people.

It’s up to me to continuously submit my heart to the Lord and ask Him to polish me into a more sanctified reflection of the Christ who saved me and Holy Spirit who guides and strengthens me.

I’m convinced that the more my heart strives to please God, the more that my life will please and help people around me.

Surrender every part of your heart to Christ, my friend, and your life will be a beautiful thing to see — in others’ eyes and yours.

As always, I love you
Martin

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It’s much easier to walk without tripping when we’re on a sidewalk or road than it is when we’re on a rocky path full of large, exposed roots.

One walking on the latter is so busy focusing on not tripping — and being injured as a result — that there is little opportunity for enjoying the scenery of life or simply moving forward in a relaxed manner.

Even when we’re looking down to avoid falling, we still trip sometimes because our flesh just doesn’t do what we want it to.

At least this has been my humbling experience.

Yes, it is a less eco-sensitive experience to walk on an asphalt path to a national park’s waterfall, but virtually eliminating the risk of a fall for myself of for countless other tourists is a welcome trade-off in my opinion.

I was reminded of the above experience this morning during my devotional reading from the One-Year Bible. A segment of the reading included Hebrews 12:13 that says:

‘Make level paths for your feet,’ so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”

This provides a vivid word picture of an ancient believer choosing to establish a safer pattern for getting through life as he or she rids his or her lifestyle of obstacles and ruts that typically slow down or trip the faithful.

Notice the word “make.” This implies more than simply finding the level path.

Yes, we should avoid slippery slopes of a worldly lifestyle that is filled with the rocks and roots of temptation and sin.

But even the level or gradually sloped paths of “good person” living will have rocks and roots that we have to overcome because even a small rock or small root can trip us and the result is the same — we fall.

And so, we “make” the path level by doing all that we can to rid our recurring paths of sin’s rocks and roots.

How do we do that? We identify those stumbling-block temptations (rocks and roots) that repeatedly trip us. And then we ask God for help to rid them from our lives, either by outright removal of the temptation or by transforming us so that we become immune to that particular temptation.

You have a number of paths that you walk every day or every week. Your path to and around your job. Your path to and among your friends. Your path within your home or within your church home. Oh yeah, and the path into and out of the Internet.

It’s up to you to make sure the path is more level. Start tossing aside sin’s rocks and roots that so easily entangle your feet (Hebrews 12:1) and start doing all you can to make your daily/weekly paths as smooth as possible.

That way, you can focus more on enjoying the journey rather than simply trying to not fall on your face.

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