Archive for August, 2013

Virture is a universally appreciated trait.

For the virtuous person is one governed by redeeming principles that produce good in the lives of others, not by coercion but instead by character.

King Solomon, a man whose early reign was characterized by virtue, provides in Proverbs 21:29 a means for measuring virtue.

The wicked bluff their way through, but the virtuous think before they act.”

Sadly, Solomon gradually discarded virture from his life because of non-virtuous choices to marry idolatrous women from other nations. You see, he didn’t think about the consequences of rejecting God’s command against marrying foreign, non-Herbrew wives whose charms would lead his heart into rampant compromise and corruption.

Disaster ensued in Israel as a result, with the negative consequences still in place 3,000 years later.

Let’s apply the wisdom of Proverbs 21:29, even though Solomon dropped the ball with this one.

I’m sure we’ve all dropped the ball on occasion by acting before we thought a decision through.

It’s SO much better to think before acting.

You’ve heard the silly phrase — and perhaps lived it out — “Ready! Fire! Aim!”

Let’s aim before we fire.

Let’s think before we act.

Let’s consider first what would honor God and help others.

It’s the virtuous thing to do.

As always, I love you

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We’ve all seen the movies where the bad guys are attacking a walled city containing good guys. And we’ve seen how the bad guys break through the first line of defenses, killing countless good guys in the process.

The movie moves toward a climactic conclusion as the chief villain and his bad guys press further into the city past walls and gates and lines of good guy warriors.

The showdown scene is found at the final wall surrounding the structure where the hero’s girlfriend or family is hiding. The hero and the villain battle to the death while their subordinates do the same immediately outside that final line of defense.

Since this is a Hollywood production and not real life, the hero and his closest good guy warriors end up victorious and the girlfriend or family is saved.

There is incredible satisfaction in knowing that evil did not triumph over that which one holds most dear.

Our lives rarely follow a movie script but we can experience that same satisfaction of not allowing evil to triumph over that which we hold most dear — our Christian faith.

The Bible character Job endured a terrible sequence of tragic losses and then was emotionally brutalized by his wife and three alleged friends.

In quick success, he had lost everything he held dear… except for one thing.

“At least I can take comfort in this: Despite the pain, I have not denied the words of the Holy One.” (Job 6:10)

When it comes down to what really matters in this life, it is what we do with the promises of God.

If we trust them and never give up on loving and trusting God to protect our souls — even in the midst of emotional and/or physical torment — we can enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that evil did not triumph over that which we hold most dear.

Hebrews 11 contains a long list of faithful people whose lives demonstrated this belief.

Your years of Christian life likely contain memories of people whose lives have randomly experienced living hell yet their souls were expressing a loving faith.

You might know somebody now who is suffering Job-like turmoil yet their souls are comforted by deep trust in God’s Word.

Perhaps that somebody is you.

Let’s pray for wisdom and character and intimacy with the Bible so that when the bottom falls out of our lives, we can take comfort in the fact that we’re holding fast to Bible promises and will NOT deny faith in the God who made them.

As always, I love you

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I should have been doing this for all my years of parenting, but I’ve dropped the ball.

I wonder what blessings and wisdom I and my children have missed out on because I haven’t done what Job did every morning he was a parent.

I need to do better and I am grateful that the Lord is giving me more time to do for my children what Job did for his.

I’m talking about devoting specific moments of prayer for my children at the start of each day.

Some people think Job’s character was defined by his refusal to renounce God when his life fell apart.

That’s essential, of course, to any intensely faithful life.

But it’s the faith shown in the everyday, behind-the-scenes choices that helps to form the solid foundation to endure the worst that life can throw at us.

This passage humbled me and stirred me to become a better parent and a stronger Christian.

Job’s sons would take turns preparing feasts in their homes, and they would also invite their three sisters to celebrate with them. When these celebrations ended—sometimes after several days—Job would purify his children. He would get up early in the morning and offer a burnt offering for each of them. For Job said to himself, ‘Perhaps my children have sinned and have cursed God in their hearts.’ This was Job’s regular practice.” (Job 1:4-5)

My kids are grown. But so were Job’s.

All 10 of them.

Yet, he dedicated 10 separate intercessory prayer and sacrifices in their behalf every morning.

He wanted the peace of knowing each child had peace with God.

What a great example!

Some of you reading this have adult children who might not think much about God’s desires to be worshipped by your kids.

Let’s all start praying more for our kids in hopes that they become more focused on pleasing God.

As we do so, we’ll be pleasing God.

I really need to do this.

I pray that you will feel the same, whether your prayers are for your own children or for children belonging to others but with whom you have very close relationships.

As always, I love you

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Every once in a while I’ll see a guy jogging down the road, trying to look like Rocky from the movie series.

He’ll be wearing cotton sweats and a hoodie and will be shadowboxing as he slowly makes his way along.

It is obvious from his physique, though, that this person will probably never step into a ring.

For he’d likely be pummeled by a far more fit opponent and perhaps not even make it out of the 1st round.

I was reminded of how we humans are sometimes lured into thinking we can fake it ’til we make it regarding success in our spiritual lives.

If we just look busy or religious enough to impress others with our seeming sophistication or spiritual force, then perhaps people will be impressed with us and afraid to pick an emotional or relational fight with us.

This is a trap of the Devil that is designed to leave us weakened when a far more fit and dastardly opponent steps into the ring with us.

That opponent might be a person who thrives on claiming the Bible is baloney and has a long list of alleged examples to prove it.

That opponent might be a person who pulls out a lengthy list of famous Christian leaders who have committed terrible sins.

That opponent might be a person who knows just which buttons to push in our lives that set us on edge and lure us away from being kind and gracious and patient.

It’s obvious when confronted by such people that a shadow-boxing faith is of no value.

We are not without hope, though.

Heed these words from the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 10:26.

So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing.”

The key word in this verse is “purpose.”

Paul wrote in Colossians 3:17 that every thought, word and deed should be pregnant with God’s purposes.

At work or home or school or church, please strive to think first about the alternatives that do the most to glorify God.

Forgive when you’ve been insulted. Give when you have the ability to share. Abstain when it would display morality and self-control to others.

Confront when apathy would endorse evil.

Purpose in every step — it’s what Jesus called for in Matthew 6:33.

It’s seeking first the Kingdom of God and trusting that God will take care of us.

As always, I love you

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Perhaps you’re like me and sometimes forget to take inventory of all the blessings that God sends your way.

In fact, I have to admit that I’ve had occasions when I didn’t thank God for His provision of something but then as soon as it disappeared or stopped working, I was on the prayer horn right away.

It is this sort of reality that reminds me of just how gracious our heavenly Father really is.

He loves us so much and wants to bless us.

He’s not doing so because He’s bored and likes throwing money or intercessory power around in order to feel better about Himself.

Rather, He does this with a purpose.

A Kingdom purpose.

An eternal purpose.

A gracious purpose.

A purpose that employs blessings as provision for people passing through the wilderness of this life enroute to the Promised Land.

God knows our tendency to take His generosity for granted.

That’s why it’s good that Nehemiah 9:21 is in the Bible.

“Their clothes did not wear out, and their feet did not swell!”

This statement was part of a lengthy prayer offered by a group of Levites when thousands of Jews had assembled in Jerusalem after the city walls were rebuilt 2,500 years ago. You’ll want to read the entire prayer in Nehemiah 9, but the takeaway point from this particular verse was very clear to me.

He provides.

I abide.

And I provide praise.

It was an undeniable miracle that clothes lasted 40 years in the most inhospitable of environments.

And to walk around on rocks and sand for 40 years with no foot problems? Wow.

For those among the Hebrews who didn’t forfeit their privilege to enter the Promised Land (many did, but that’s another story), seeing God’s miraculous protection of fabric was an undeniable affirmation of faith.

It’s not as dramatic as a plague or the splitting of a sea, but it’s real nonetheless and something everybody experienced.

Please take inventory of your blessings and worship God for His gracious love before some of those blessings disappear.

For those blessings came with a purpose — to provide for you in this “wilderness” as you journey to the Promised Land of heaven.

Don’t we have a great God?

As always, I love you

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We’ve all seen the young males on powerful motorcycles zooming between cars on the freeway.

And we’ve all read the tragic stories about how many of them end up dead or disabled because of accidents attributed to their irresponsible speeding.

My wife Lori works in a hospital and has seen the calamitous consequences of such misbehavior far more than she’d like to remember.

The sad fact is, however, that young males who behave in such fashion on two wheels believe that they are OK in what they’re doing or they wouldn’t be doing it.

A 22-year-old guy who pops a wheelie at 80 miles an hour in the midst of traffic doesn’t do so with the direct expectation that he’s committing suicide.

It’s just that he isn’t thinking of physics and the statistical probability of being crushed by a truck that isn’t agile enough to avoid the rider if the bike goes down.

Here’s the point — we can’t trust that our perceived abilities will always overcome the mistakes and mishaps of life.

Our opinions don’t control physics and they certainly don’t control other drivers’ behavior.

More importantly from a spiritual perspective, our opinions — and even the opinions of peers — don’t define what God has ordained as right and wrong, as kind or cruel, as selfless or selfish, as moral or immoral.

Listen, a person might think he or she is acting in an exciting, stimulating and “no harm” manner, but still be terribly wrong.

I could go on for hours about the tragedy of people thinking that life and eternity will be determined by their opinions and abilities rather than the Word of God, but I’m going to presume that you accept the truth of the following passage:

“People may be right in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their heart.” (Proverbs 21:2)

Please, my friend, join me in trying to live according to the Matthew 6:33 principle that says every thought and action should indicate that God is first in our lives.

That way, we won’t have to suffer tragically because we thought we could pop wheelies of sin at 80 mph in the belief that spiritual physics of scripture didn’t apply to us.

As always, I love you

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Most every believer has heard the purpose-focused words of Ephesians 2:10 that tell us we’ve created anew in Christ Jesus in order to do good works for God.

God saves us to serve, not sit.

And certainly not to stagnate.

It’s a blessed feeling to do something for the God who did for us what we could not — redeem our souls.

Because of the hope we have, traced back to Jesus’ death on the cross, we have a divine mission of mercy.

Not our mercy, but instead God’s.

People need to know that God is our Rescuer because Jesus volunteered to be our Redeemer.

We were chained by our own sins to a procession of slaves headed to eternal destruction, yet Jesus willingly broke those chains on our souls when we called out to Him for salvation.

No longer on the road to hell, we confidently enjoy that we’re on the road to heaven.

God wants us to share this news with others and encourage them to choose the same.

What He doesn’t want is our silence.

“You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.” (Psalm 30:11-12)

Look for some way today to tell another of how God blesses you. Let God see you speaking highly of Him.

Please share good news about God from your “Word-robe” of learned verses that praise your Father in heaven.

I will do the same.

Somebody’s life will be better as a result.

As always, I love you

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