Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Glory of God in the Love of a Wife

As Alicia fell asleep with her head on my shoulder last night, I couldn't help but turn and thank God for the precious gift of my beautiful wife and her love for me.  It is a fascinating thing to see and consider.  The God who created all of the universe in its magnitude and splendor, also made my wife to be His instrument of love towards me.  The love of my wife is suppose to reflect and reveal the love that God has for me.  While lying there listening to her soft contented breathing, it hit me and humbled me that God would desire that deep of connectedness and intimacy with me.  That we would have the invitation, "Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest." is an wonderful thing to consider.

Truth Revealed:
One of the ways I know of God's love for me.. is the way He shows His love through my wife.
Out of all of His creation He makes a big deal out of being deeply connected to us.
A man who loves His wife truly is loving himself as it comes back to him 10 fold.
Jesus at the last supper rested his head on the chest of the disciple whom he loved.
The greatest way to love my wife is to love Christ more, that I might reflect more and more of Christ's love back to her.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Washed Clean

The Power to restore and make new again.  It is always way much harder to restore something than just start over.  I was amazed this weekend by the reality that God is able to take away all of the sin of the world and if we will trust in His work on the cross, completely remove our sin and shame.  He can make us new in an instant.  The worst and most wretched person is completely made new and clothed not in shame and guilt, but in the righteousness of Christ.  He doesn't just send us to the scrap yard, or land fill, He makes us new!  

Lord thank you that you pursued us when we were your enemies.  Thank you that you have taken my sin and shame of everything that I have ever done and removed it from me.  Washing me clean through the power of your blood.  Thank you how being washed clean enables us to feel the slightest breeze of your spirit over our lives.  Thank you for loving us enough to wash us clean and make us a new creation!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Taking His Time

There is an interesting story in John 5 about God and His timing. For one man Jesus is 38 years late, for others His timing is ALL wrong, and still others he doesn't even seem to give them the time of day. The paralytic for 38 years seems to be telling Jesus how it isn't fair that he can't get into the water quick enough and that is why God hasn't healed him. The Pharisees and Sadducees wanted to kill Jesus for a large part because he was violating their laws regarding the Sabbath.  If he would have just waited til the next day to heal the man, a large part of their stumbling block would have been removed.  The roman official who wants Jesus to come and heal his child who is near death doesn't get Jesus to go anywhere.  Jesus doesn't go to his son, but tells the man his son is healed.

It is interesting to me how much difficulty we have in allowing God to be Lord of our time.  We spend so much of our time with us striving to be in control of one of the most difficult areas to be in control.  We set out each day not to be controlled by those 24 hours, but instead for us to be in control.  I am forced to acknowledge a profound truth that we ultimately find healing only when we allow Jesus to be Lord of all of our lives.  That includes our time, our health, our pains and disappointments.

Let our eyes look to heaven for our strength and hope.  There will be no more tears and the body will be transformed into the likeness of Christ with glorified heavenly bodies. We will be freed physically.  There will be no more sin, pain, or tears... we will be healed spiritually and emotionally.  There is one last piece I often forget, and that is that there will be no more time.  The Light source will be Christ himself.  There will be no darkness, and there will be no time.  We will have eternity to be one with our Lord and He will have set us free from time for all eternity!

True Discipleship

Recently, I spent the weekend sleeping in the back of a suburban at lake livingston state park and on a deflated "air" mattress on the floor of a friends house.  I was given the opportunity to speak about discipleship and that my sleeping arrangements were the price of admission for me.  I am encouraged from my time seeking the Lord and His word about what is the essence of discipleship, because it has helped me come away with more clear answers than I started with.  In the same way the rain washed away our campsites, "glad I was in the back of the suburban", the complexity of discipleship was swept away.  Notice I didn't say difficulty, I said complexity.

I was challenged to define the essentials of discipleship.  What would you say are the essential elements of discipleship.  These were what I thought would be effective goals for all discipleship relationships:

  • Learn how to walk in intimacy with Christ in the everyday part of life.
  • Learn to love and appreciate the goodness and beauty of God
  • Grow in humility and dependance as a sinful man before a holy and gracious God.
It was also very interesting some of the reasons we don't disciple others that were shared as feedback from the group.  Here are some of the responses:
  • I have too much pridefulness to help others grow in humility.
  • I am not consistent enough in my walk to help someone else.
  • I don't know who I should disciple.
  • I don't know where to begin or how to get started.
In all of the responses, it was interesting to see the more we looked to ourselves the more it moved us away from discipling others.  It was restated as the more that I struggle with pridefulness the less that pridefulness allows me to help others grow in humility.  In all of this it became clear that Christ desires to shine through our struggles and failures in real and transparent ways.  That the one discipling others would grow in humility the greatest amount.  For it would be humbling to have to share sinful failures with someone whom we were discipling.  It is a different thought that discipleship was intended to help the discipler to grow in humility as much as the one whom they were discipling. 

I am reminded of 1John 1:9     If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Who's on the Throne?

Why did Paul have to call just us fathers out in Eph 6 when he wrote for "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger."  The verses just before were such good ones where children are instructed to honor their mother and father.  Then he turns on us dads and doesn't say anything about the moms.  What mom's can't provoke anyone?  I know I am married to a saint, but I think she has made the kids angry at least once before.  So what gives?

In talking with my son the other night, combined with reading about how their was no discouragement in Christ (read last post) because he only sought to exalt His father, it finally hit me.  When I as a father seek to be exalted in the eyes of my children instead of exalting the Lord, I set them on a path of discouragement and provoke them to anger.  Said another way.  Sometimes I enjoy sitting in God's seat for just a little while, and seek to have my own little kingdom where I can be Lord.  When someone in our home challenges my position it causes discouragement and anger in my life and in our children, because I was seeking a pride filled pursuit that God cannot bless.

When I get upset over something in my home, am I upset because I have not been obeyed, or am I concerned that my kids have disobeyed the Lord?  I would say, it is really a question of who is sitting on the throne, and I am not talking about bathrooms in the house.  It is a matter of who is Lord and who am I seeking to exalt as the head of my family.  Ephesians says in chapter 5 that the husband is the head of the family, and that is why I think 6:4 is written directly to dads.  Since the father is who God looks to as the head of the family, it is easy for fathers to desire some of God's glory and position.  We are tempted to exalt ourselves in the name of having our kids obey God.  I realized I was too slow to admit mistakes as an adult and too slow to share from my own mistakes as a child.  Two things that are quickly dismissed if I am seeking to be exalted in the eyes of my family.

Prayer: Lord I confess I have sought my own glory over yours many times in my home.  I have not modeled well for my children humility before you always, but have modeled a pride filled heart.  The struggles of my children with discouragement and anger are the fruit of my sin.  Forgive me Lord and help me not lose sight of your humility, and your courageous love you have for me and my family.  Let me courageously lead my family with the same humility seeking to only exalt my Father in heaven.  Let me not take obedience personally so as to place the focus on me, help me to use it to turn our focus back on you.  Help me to see the problem of disobedience in my life and my kids life is that we took our eyes off of you and stopped seeking to glorify you above all things!

Had to laugh at the thought I had just before posting this:
all it really does is stink for everyone in the house when dad's seek to sit on the throne.  :)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Got Courage?

Is it not easy to find yourself discouraged in life?  Discourage is to deprive of courage, hope or confidence according to dictionary.com.  I was wondering this past week what causes discouragement.  What is it that deprives us of courage or causes us to lose hope?  I started thinking I lose courage when I am tired, having pushed myself over one hurdle after another and then I look and see another row of hurdles coming at me.  Can you relate?

I get discouraged when the simple little things get in the way of what I am trying to do.  The more these things crop up, the more I can find discouragement knocking on my door.  Do you ever feel like just throwing in the towel and saying, "Oh what is the use!  I can't even get to what I am needing to get done because of all of this other stuff that keeps getting in the way!"

I can get discouraged when I feel rejected as well.  Some of the hardest moments to be a husband are when I feel rejected for whatever reason by my bride.  I struggle the most to hold the course as a godly husband whenever I feel rejected.  Those are the times I say, "There has to be a change of course here, because I am not going to just take this lying down!"  If I feel criticized at work it can have the same effect of discouragement from holding the course the Lord has for me.

Then the Lord showed me an incredible example of courage and an amazing absence of discouragement in the life of Christ, when I know that I would have been discouraged.  John 6:59-7:18.

Jesus had fed the 5,000 with the little boys lunch and the crowds were growing.  The number of "disciples" were growing rapidly.  Jesus had the launching pad for a super star.  He then says something that had the same effect as Gov. Perry forgetting the name of the branch of government he would remove.  He says that he must abide in us and we must abide in Him.  He uses the image of eating his flesh and drinking His blood though, and the people bail because they don't want any part of that.  The crowd is gone except for the original 12 that he chose personally.  All the ones who chose Him left, all the ones he chose remain.

His own brothers don't even believe in Him and start giving Him advice about how to do a better job of getting His name out there.  They tell him to go to Judea and go to where all the people are if he wants to make a name for himself.  But quit making big claims and staying in the countryside.

Everyone goes on to the the Feast of Tabernacles to celebrate God delivering Israel out of captivity.  Jesus later comes privately because the Jews were looking to arrest Him.  He begins teaching in the synagogue and has this interaction with the crowd:

13     Yet no one was speaking openly of Him for fear of the Jews.
14     But when it was now the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and began to teach.
15     The Jews then were astonished, saying, “How has this man become learned, having never been educated?”
16     So Jesus answered them and said, “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me.
17     “If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself.
18     “He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.

Jesus is filled with courage and shows no signs of discouragement from the events that just transpired.  The devils grappling hook of discouragement that pulls us off course finds no hold in Christ's heart because there is no pridefulness in His heart.  In scripture we are warned not to give the devil a foothold, and the foothold that he always looks for is pride.  Like a grappling hook needing something to hang on, the devil throws his grappling hook at our hearts looking to hang onto our pride.  Because Christ was filled with humility there was no place for discouragement to take hold in his heart, and as a result he was filled with courage, hope, and confidence.  The very things we are deprived of when we are hooked by discouragement.

Jesus is the most courageous, most hopeful, most confident person the world has ever known.  Think about it.  He came to save people who had to be saved, but didn't want a savior.  He would have to live a perfect life and overcome all temptation which had never been done before or since.  It would cost him everything he had including his life.  He would be whipped, beaten, mocked, and tortured to accomplish His goal of saving us.  He would face the most powerful enemy the world has ever known in Satan.  He would not only do all of this, He would plan on changing the entire course of history through His 12 disciples.  He did all of this without a moment of discouragement.  He is the world's most courageous man!

To look to ourselves for courage, hope, and confidence is to miss the point in verse 63.
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing.
We won't fight discouragement with greater reliance upon ourselves.  As my mom would say, "You can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip."  You can’t get from the flesh what can only come from God.

I also realized that my lack of understanding is not ground for rejecting the will of God.
(vs 66) As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.
Humility in ignorance still seeks understanding and wisdom, while Ignorance in Pridefulness moves to judgment and rejection.  CJ Mahaney defines pridefulness as contending for the supremacy of God.  I saw that the "disciples" withdrew from him.  It was flat out rejection of his teaching, not just saying, "I don't understand, help me to understand."

Humility seeks God’s glory and Pridefulness seeks its own.  Our lust for our own glory is actually the foothold that leads to discouragement.  Sin never delivers what it's target without paying a severe price that is undisclosed in the contract.  Look at the courage of Christ.  He is the living example of what being "in courage" or "encouraged" looks like.  Take heart and be encouraged by the Lord today!

We will seek to be exalted in the eyes of men or seek for God to be exalted, but not both.  When we seek to be exalted in the eyes of men it is a prideful and sinful pursuit that leads to many painful experiences along the way including discouragement.  Discouragement should be a great indicator in our lives that we have been walking in our pride filled flesh not by humility in the Spirit. 

Lord I can see my heart more clearly because of your word today.  Thank you for the gracious way you draw us to yourself in spite of the magnitude of pride we bring with us.  Help me today to rely upon your Spirit and not my own flesh as I courageously seek to live a life that brings glory to Your Name!  Amen.

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