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Archive for the ‘Personal holiness’ Category

It stinks when you’ve tried your best at a sport or hobby and you realize that you’re not good enough to succeed in the way you desire.

I’d like to hop up on a surfboard like a pro if I had such an opportunity.

But the couple of times I’ve tried it in rough waves, I’ve been reminded that I lack the ability to instantly learn the process, something I’ve been able to do with several other sports.

And I’d like to be able to smash a screaming topspin across the tennis net with consistency, but back when Lori and I were playing tennis every week, such aspirations typically resulted in points for her as the ball dove into the net or sailed over the backline. Ugh!

The fact is that some things in life are very hard to master and we very well might never become fully competent in the endeavor.

In some respects, I’m just not good enough.

There is one arena of my life where I always come up the loser. That is the arena of perfect living.

I fail.

I miss the mark.

I sin.

I don’t aspire to do so. But it happens.

I might be exhausted mentally and emotionally and thoughtlessly use words not intended to wound, yet doing so.

I might be insulted by another and, instead of simply letting it slide and displaying Christlike grace, I default to worldly wittiness and fight fire with fire.

I might not rush quickly enough to the verbal defense of another when a third party starts bashing him or her verbally.

I might think more about getting an unsaved person into a church chair to boost our worship service than about getting him or her into the Kingdom of God to boost heaven’s eternal worship service.

We all fall short. We all, like sheep, have gone astray.

The Apostle Paul reminds us of this in Romans 3:20:

“For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.”

Let’s never forget that we’re sinners in need of a Savior.

Thank God that we have a path to heaven walked and purchased by Jesus Christ.

Thank God that He WAS good enough to provide the sinless blood needed to pay the price of our NOT being good enough.

And thank God that we’ve been given breath to do our best at leading the good life that demonstrates and explains the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ.

We’re surrounded by people who aren’t good enough. Let’s start telling them about the One who is.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Nothing is hidden from God.

His flashlight is on everything.

As kids, when the light was on and an adult was watching us, we behaved in school or at home or at church.

When we thought nobody was watching, however, sometimes we didn’t.

We’re all guilty of this, of course.

It’s so much better when we choose to behave as if in the light and in the sight of somebody bigger.

“Even Death and Destruction hold no secrets from the Lord.
How much more does he know the human heart!” (Proverbs 15:11)

Hopefully, you’re in the middle of the narrow path of Christlike living and don’t have secret behaviors you’re trying to hide from God.

Because you can’t.

Just as I can’t.

Let’s do all we can to be like Jesus.

His life was an open book.

And since heaven is granted only to those in the Lamb’s Book of Life, let’s do all we can to walk in a way that shows we are living for Him.

And when we do mess up, prompt repentance will get us back on the path that keeps us on the pages of that book. Romans 8:1-2 promise so.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Dirty diapers are a very small price to pay in return for the joy of parenting a baby.

And what successful athlete wants to give up competition simply because it takes time to work out and practice?

The fact is that life is a series of trade-offs. If we want the rewards and blessings, investment of effort, patience, resources and cooperation are required.

A successful life is not built upon the shifting sands of luck but instead upon the bedrocks of determination and cooperation.

Part of determination is staying with the task even when circumstances stink.

Sometimes, even literally.

King Solomon owned many thousands of horses and oxen so he knew something about stalls.

He knew that fields weren’t plowed and harvests weren’t transported unless there were oxen to pull the plows and wagons.

With oxen, life was ultimately more affluent.

Even though oxen make big messes in their stalls.

It was a trade-off people were willing to make.

The better lives were more than worth the stinky mess that had to be tolerated and regularly carried away.

“Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.” (Proverbs 14:4)

Listen, dealing with certain people at work or church or school — sometimes even at home — can really stink on occasion.

But if we’re not willing to deal with people who aren’t perfect in word and deed according to our perception, then are we being the kind of people God has called us to be?

What if others decided to avoid us unless we behaved perfectly in their view?

The person who never wants kids in their home or only invites over white-gloved clean freaks or who expects others to never say or do anything of a faux pas nature is going to be a lonely person.

We all make messes that sometimes stink.

Let’s make sure that our lives are beneficial for others so that our blessing to them is more evident than our “messing” of a relationship.

As always, I love you
Martin

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What is fun for you?

Doing good things that please God?

Or doing things that don’t?

The Bible says that God sees all we do and say.

If what we do or what we say is enjoyable to Him, we’re good to go spiritually.

The reverse is true, of course.

Here’s a concise scripture regarding this topic:

“Doing wrong is fun for a fool, but living wisely brings pleasure to the sensible.” (Proverbs 10:23)

People ignoring God’s commands sometimes have a lot of fun in their sinful choices regarding sexual immorality, coarse joking, unethical financial dealings and other ungodly behaviors. But the clock is ticking on that kind of fun and the bomb of consequences will eventually explode with costly consequences, sometimes in this life but definitely in the next.

People living wisely, though, gain pleasure from thinking and living in the way of godliness. Pleasure is more enduring than fun. Pleasure is the fruit of good choices.

I’d rather have a life pattern that yields mellow, no-regrets pleasure than I would random flashes of intense fun that sprout from sin yet are destined to wilt in the heat of God’s judgment.

There is no price tag that we can put on a clear conscience. It is invaluable.

Let’s live wisely in order to gain that which can only come from the overflow of living to please God.

It’s the more pleasurable path.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Let’s avoid the trap of thinking we’ve got plenty of time clean up our spiritual act before “the parents come home.”

You know the setting.

Teens doing things at home that teens shouldn’t do, thinking that Mom and Dad won’t be home for a couple of hours.

But then the door opens and the “Oh no!” feelings start flying as fast as the excuses.

There’s no easy way out of such a mess.

It’s so much better to be found doing right than to be found doing wrong.

“Oh no!” is never a good feeling, especially when it comes to Christ’s return.

Matthew 25 contains the story of 10 bridesmaids who knew the bridegroom was coming sometime, they just weren’t sure when. Five were fully prepared with oil for their lamps and five weren’t.

The latter group wanted more time, akin to teens telling Mom and Dad to drive around the block for another 30 minutes while the teens undid what they shouldn’t have been doing.

Listen, whatever there is in our lives that shouldn’t be there — harbored bitterness, closets of the soul packed with immoral thoughts or actions, unbridled envy of another — we need to throw it out, replacing it with the oil of God’s Word and Holy Spirit influence.

You see, we just don’t know how much time we have before our moment of accountability.

“So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.” (Matthew 25:13)

A text-messaging driver could prompt our “meet Jesus” moment with no warning. It happens all the time, you know.

Let’s make sure that we don’t have an “Oh no!” moment when our life ends.

Let’s get ready now.

Let’s make sure to get our spiritual house in order so that our heavenly Dad can look at our lives and say with joy, “Well done” rather than say with sadness, “What have you done?”

As always, I love you
Martin

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If you had a several kids in your car and, because of recurring nausea, you weren’t able to finish driving the curvy, mountainous roads between your destination, would you pull into a restaurant and ask just anybody to get behind the wheel while you rode with eyes closed and stomach in knots?

Of course not. If you had to resort to such a desparate move to get home for the evening, you’d certainly be careful to make sure that the person was a competent driver who took instructions well.

Failure to be careful could lead to tragedy for all.

You see, we have to be careful about how our lives are steered.

If we’re not, bad things can — and sometimes do — happen.

This is particularly true with respect to who is steering our hearts.

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

Who influences your heart?

Who do you allow to steer your values on issues of morality? Of theology? Of patterns for emotional intimacy?

Who do you turn to for advice on family relationships?

Who is your mentor when it comes to workplace attitudes and behaviors?

Is there a role model for you who is plugged into the Word of God?

You’ve heard the phrase, “Garbage in, garbage out.”

This is absolutely true with respect to the heart.

We’ve all seen it in others’ lives and we’ve unfortunately experienced it periodically in our own.

Let’s be careful to allow only those people surrendered to the Lord to be on the list of those allowed to give us directions for the journey of life.

Test everything.

If it’s something Jesus would allow into His heart, then it’s something that we can allow into ours.

If He wouldn’t accept an idea or behavior because it’s ungodly, then we shouldn’t, either.

How can you know what Jesus would allow into His heart?

Read the gospels.

It will do your heart good.

And the course of your life just might change for the better.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Some things about our Christian faith are really fulfilling and even thrilling.

These are what I call the “magnets of faith.”

But there are a few other things, however, that are far from being magnets.

They’re actually more like fender-bending guardrails.

They’re designed to keep us from driving off the cliff spiritually.

They’re not endearing.

But they are essential.

A segment in today’s devotional reading from the One-Year Bible explains why:

“My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when He corrects you. For the Lord corrects those He loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.” (Proverbs 3:11-12)

I don’t know anybody who enjoys feeling convicted by the Holy Spirit about a poor choice of behavior or a carnal pattern of thought.

But when we consider that alternative — a life without the spiritual guardrail of spiritual conviction — we should rejoice that we feel guilt when we lie or lust or gossip or covet or steal or resent or whatever sin over which we stumble.

If God didn’t love us, He wouldn’t warn us.

And He certainly wouldn’t have sent Jesus to the cross as atonement for those times we wouldn’t listen.

We know for a fact that Satan doesn’t love us.

In fact, he hates us.

How do we know this?

Does he ever warn us of danger?

Has he ever tried to steer anybody you know away from the cliff?

Let’s thank God when our consciences are goaded by God.

It’s a powerful sign of His love.

As always, I love you
Martin

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