Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
Sunday, December 28, 2008
1. A Soldier - one who has a singular focus = to please God. No matter how hard, how unpopular or what damage it might cause on a human level I need to make it my aim to Him and Him alone.
2. An Athlete - one who runs this race with integrity and obeys God. There are many shortcuts in life that can be taken to gain instant wealth, fame and pleasure. But all of them would be a slap in the face of God. He has clearly said that if you Love Me You Will Keep My Commands.
3. A Farmer - one who toils and labors for the fruit of the harvest. The farmer puts in great effort to reap the rewards of the field.
My day ended with a reading of Mark 13. Jesus' words are clearly a warning in verses 35-37. These few verses read:
"Therefore stay awake - for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning - lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: 'Stay Awake.'" (ESV)
Does the beginning of my day and the end of my day have anything in common? I think so. If I am living as a soldier, an athlete, a farmer than I will be ready and will not be caught off guard when Jesus returns.
Lord help me to be ready. And return Quickly!
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Peter is also famous for wanting Jesus to wash his whole body, not just his feet; for promising Jesus that he would never deny Him and for asking about the future of John. Peter messed up so many times with his words that most people think that he never could get his words right. But in John 6 we see that Peter did get it right, at least once.
The first 6 chapters of John are an amazing account of the early ministry of Christ. Jesus, over and over, would tell the crowds that they must believe in Him if they want eternal life. By my count the word believe is used 24 times and the word(s) life or eternal life are used 22 times in these chapters. Jesus’ teaching was very clear. If you want eternal life you must believe in the Son of God. As a matter of fact that last sentence is very close to what Jesus said in John 3:36 ~ “Whoever believe in the Son has eternal life.”
It is recorded several times in the first six chapters that many people “believed.” They liked this message that Jesus was preaching. They liked the miracles that He did. The signs and wonders performed by Him captured their attention. They wanted to follow this man. On top of that Jesus was standing up to the religious elite and calling them on the carpet for their fake religiosity. But, when Jesus told them what following Him really meant at the end of John 6 many of them decided for reject Jesus and turn away from him.
Granted, Jesus’ words at the end of John 6 are tough to swallow (no pun intended). It reads
53Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever." 59He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
Verse 60 clearly points out that the crowd had a hard time with these words. Some have suggested that the people understood this to be a literal command of Jesus. That if we were to follow Him, believe in Him, have eternal life, than we must literally eat His flesh and drink His blood. I don’t think this is what they had trouble with. What they had trouble with was that if they wanted to be true followers of Jesus they would need to whole heartedly grasp, take in, surrender to and believe that Jesus is the only way to God. He was the only means of salvation. This they could not do.
As a result many of these false disciples left and turned away from Jesus. They refused to believe that He was from Heaven and the only way for them to get there. They walked away. In response Jesus turns to His true disciples and asks “Do you want to go away as well?” No doubt this was testing time and Peter stepped up and hit a home run. He says in verse 68 “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” Wham! Peter opened his mouth and the right answer came out. Peter and the other apostles got it. Remember, Jesus had been preaching since the start of His ministry that “you must believe in me and if you do you will have eternal life.” And Peter and the other apostles got it. They know that the only way to God was through Jesus Christ. They were true disciples.
Think about Peter’s words for a minute. He starts off by declaring that Jesus is “Lord.” No one else is Lord, Jesus is. Lord is an amazing word. It is defined as “one who has power; or a position of authority.” Right away Peter acknowledges who Jesus really is. He is not some dime store trickster who can do some really cool magic like turning water into wine. Jesus is the One who has the power of God, the One who has the authority of God because He is God. He acknowledges that no one else has the right direction by saying “to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Peter makes it very clear that all other people who claim to have a path to God are charlatans. Their path is false and will only lead to death and destruction. Jesus and Jesus alone has the words of eternal life. He then pronounces that they “believe.” No doubt these words were a source of encouragement to Jesus. He just watched a multitude of people walk away and reject believing in Him. But, His 12 apostles have just said “we will not follow the crowd, we will believe in you.” Not only do they believe but they have “come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” Scripture clearly tells us that the apostles did not understand most of what Jesus did in His earthly ministry. They only understood after He rose from the grave and ascended to the father and sent the Holy Spirit to “teach them.” But in their limited understanding they were able to say “Jesus, you are the Holy One of God.”
All of this must force you to ask the question: Can you answer as Peter did? Do you believe? Do you believe that Jesus is the Holy One of God? Do you believe that He is The Way, The Truth and The Life and no one can come to the Father accept through Him? If so, rejoice during this season as we celebrate Jesus becoming a baby that was born to die.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
However, we have not left Santa out of the picture. Anyone who lives in America must deal with the issue of Santa. At this time of year you see him all over the place. He is on commercials, TV shows, billboards, magazines, at the mall (he has been at our mall since the week after Halloween), he even paid a visit to our dentist’s office. Kids see him all over the place. The way we have addressed it with our kids is that Santa Clause is a very fun story. The kids read fun books about Santa, they watch fun movies with him as its central character and sing silly songs about him. But we always remind them that He is a fun story. I liken Santa Clause to Mickey Mouse. Both are fun make-believe characters, but that is all that they are, make-believe.
Why do I bring this up? A few days ago Isabel’s teacher called us to let us know that Isabel got into an argument with the rest of the students in her class. The subject of the argument - Was Santa real and what is the real celebration of Christmas? The class insisted that Santa was real and Isabel insisted that he wasn’t and that Christmas is about the birth of Jesus. Apparently neither side was giving in and the argument continued. Eventually the teacher restored order and moved on to another activity. She did feel it was important to call to tell us about the exchange.
When I found out what Isabel did in class I had several conflicting emotions.
Emotion #1 Frustration
We have talked to both Isabel and Acacia about the issue that not every kid, as a matter of fact most kids do not believe in Jesus. They know that most kids believe that Santa is the reason for the season and it is he who brings them presents and at their age they do not need to argue about this issue with their friends. This is such a big issue they could possibly lose friends over it. As a parent, I don’t want to see my kids go through losing friends because of an argument.
Emotion #2 Fear
The second emotion that hit me was fear. I kept thinking: “How many parents are going to call our house seeking to ‘chew us out’ because our daughter has ruined their Christmas by spilling the beans about the truth of Santa Clause?”
It didn’t take long for me to realize that rather than being frustrated with my daughter and to fear the reaction of the parents I should be proud of my daughter for standing up for Jesus Christ. I was too wrapped up in man’s opinion. Quickly the Holy Spirit laid it upon my heart that Isabel should stand up for the Truth. She should be bold about her belief in Jesus Christ. And if she is bold for Jesus the Bible is very clear as to what will happen: Persecution. I should not be surprised that Isabel might lose friends over this. I should not be surprised, nor afraid, of parents who would be upset at what Isabel said about Santa being a fake and Jesus being the reason for Christmas. Scripture is very clear that unsaved man is at enmity with God. Any thought of Jesus would naturally bring about hatred from unredeemed man. Isabel was bringing in front of their eyes that Jesus is real. And if He is real than mankind has a big problem. That problem being sin and how it separates us from God. That problem being that Jesus clearly claims that he is THE way, THE truth and THE life and that it is only through Him that we can have peace with God. Failure to believe in Him means a complete submission to the just reward of falling short of the glory of God: Death and Eternal Separation from Him.
Emotion # 3: Good for my daughter for speaking loud and clear about Jesus being the reason for the season.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
The Truth is...
wait for it....
Isabel's school rented a snow machine to make snow for the students to play in. We paid $4.00 per kid to play in a patch of snow that was 20 ft x 20 ft.. What is this world coming to?
Just so you know: the kids did have fun!
Monday, December 8, 2008
Well, last Friday morning was the assembly. Acacia, James, Brenton and i waited in the multi-purpose room for the students to arrive and the assembly to begin. You can imagine Isabel's excitement when, while marching in with her class, she spotted us. Not only was she thrilled to see us, waving and blowing kisses, but she also knew that this was her day; she was getting an award. The principal called students up one at a time, announcing their achievements, Math Whiz, Super Speller, Excellent Reader, and so on. After this first group of students received their awards and recognition and headed back to their seats Isabel looked back at me very concerned and said "I didn't get an award". I told her to just wait, her turn was coming.
The next group of students received awards for their character. When Isabel's name was called she leaped out of her seat and ran up the middle aisle to receive her certificate for "Caring for Others" She beamed as she stood with other students recognized for kindness, trustworthiness and caring.
it is with joy that I celebrate this award with Isabel. Isn't this what scripture says we are to do - to love kindness, to care for one another, to follow after Jesus!? I don't want to downplay Isabel's hard work and progress academically. In four short months she has gone from reading a handful of sight words to Days with Frog and Toad. Her academics will come, but I am even happier to see the growth in her character. She cares deeply for her friends and people she doesn't know are just friends she hasn't met yet. I am thankful for her sweet heart and pray earnestly that regardless of her studies at school, she continues to learn and cultivate her care for others. Thank you God for such a sweet girl!
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
I resolve to ask God for wisdom to speak out of a single-minded devotion to Him. 1:5
I resolve to boast only in the exaltation I receive in Jesus Christ and the humility I receive from Jesus Christ. 1:9,10
I resolve to set a watch over my mouth. 1:13
I resolve to be constantly quick to hear and slow to speak. 1:19
I resolve to learn the Gospel way of speaking to both rich and poor. 2:1-4
I resolve to speak in the present consciousness of my final judgment. 2:12
I resolve never to stand on anyone’s face with the words I employ. 2:16
I resolve never to claim as reality in my life what I never truly experience. 3:14
I resolve never to speak decided evil of another out of a heart of antagonism 4:11
I resolve never to boast in anything that I will accomplish 4:13
I resolve always to speak as one who is subject to the providences of God. 4:15
I resolve never to grumble, because I know the Judge is listening at the door. 5:9
I resolve never to allow anything but total integrity in everything I say. 5:12
I resolve to speak to God in prayer when I suffer. 5:13
I resolve to sing praises to God whenever I am cheerful. 5:14
I resolve to ask for the prayers of others when I am in need. 5:14
I resolve to confess it whenever I fail. 5:15
I resolve to pray with others for one another when I am with them. 5:15
I resolve to speak words of restoration when I see another wander. 5:19
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
The boys watching Charlie Brown and The Great Pumpkin.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
For those that don't know: James cut his back last Monday out in the backyard. We have no certain idea of how he did it, but the cut was 2 inches long, went down to the muscle and required 7 stitches to close. On top of all of that the urgent care doctor put that horrible tape on his back to hold the gauze on and now wont come off!
Friday, November 21, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
I was reading Psalm 63 this morning and specifically meditating on verse 1 which states "O God, You are my God; earnestly I seek You; My soul thirsts for You, my body longs for You; in a dry and weary land where there is no water." As I mused on this verse I pictured the hills around me the past few days and the "fall" that we have been experiencing here in Santa Clarita. Most of October was dominated by temperatures of the upper 90s and into the 100s. November has cooled off ot the upper 80s and into the 90s. "Is this fall?" I've been asking myslef for the last two months. Along with such temperatures have come extreme winds whipping through our valley, drying everything up even further and wreaking havoc on our yards. Here is a vivid picture of a dry and weary land. I am so tired of heat and dry and wind; I long for the cool relief of gray clouds in the sky, rain falling and refreshing this dry ground and cleaning the air of the dust and debris.
On the hills surrounding our home for the past three days fires have been burning. We are able to see smoke billowing out over the valley, patches of earth smoldering as we drive by, helicopters flying over dropping water in order to put out the flames. Thankfully, we have been spared any damage and the winds have proven helpful to us in blowing the smoke away from us, although damaging to others as it blew both smoke and embers the other direction. Can there be a more vivid object lesson for understanding Psalm 63:1? David too was in the wilderness when he wrote this Psalm. He was hiding. He, the king of Israel, was hiding in the wilderness from his own son, Absolom, when he penned this song of desperate need for the LORD. All around him he was able to see a dry and weary land, where there was no water and here was a picture of his soul. I sat this morning reading this and thinking on this and realized that Santa Clarita is a picture of my soul: dry, weary, thirsty, tired, scorched by the flames of trials.
And then I read it again and learned about how David refreshed his dry, weary and scorched soul. He didn't complain, he didn't even ask God to take it away. No, instead he turned to God, his God and earnestly sought Him until He was found! He knew that refreshment was only found in seeking God. He longed for God as I have longed for rain. He knew that by seeking God he would find a downpour of grace to wash over his soul and soak him so thoroughly that he would become saturated in the Spirit of God; and then he would find relief. That is my prayer. Today I will seek God earnestly. And this leads me back to a verse I was memorizing some weeks ago - "Be still and know that I am God". Today, I want to be still and let the Spirit of God pour down upon me, and saturate me with His grace, to soak into my heart and refresh my dry, weary and thirsty soul. It is that thirst for Jesus that is felt but not realized until you meditate on a verse like this one. Suddenly, this morning, I realized my thirst and that it wasn't necessarily for the baby to sleep or Isabel's work load to lessen or life to simply be easier, for for Jesus - for Him to carry my burdens, for Him to fill me with Himself and wash over me with the comfort of His Spirit.
And I pray for Santa Clarita too, for the clouds of relief to roll over our valley and pour out cool rain upon the scorched hills and the dry and weary land of our town.