Friday, November 30, 2007

Trusting in God, or Trusting in Spiritual Disciplines?

I've found that my heart is so sneaky that I can begin trusting in my Bible study or in my scripture memory or in my worship or in almost any other good thing instead of trusting in the Lord himself. Then I fall down and embarrass myself and wound others. He can and will use these "ordinary means of grace" in our lives. We need to memorize, need to study, etc., but we must trust him, not the means.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him.
And he will direct your paths.

--Proverbs 3:5,6

Here are some signs that you're trusting in spiritual disciplines instead of trusting in the Lord:
***When you are unable to do your normal morning devotional or unable to attend church once because the Lord put some urgent ministry into your path, you feel guilty.
***It's really important to you that you have a perfect attendance record or that you read through the Bible in a year.
***You love your disciplines, but can't remember when you last just "hung out" with your heavenly Father.
***You think fasting or praying or evangelizing or some other discipline will be the key to your spiritual success.
***You use your spiritual disciplines as a way to escape from real human relationships.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

John Hagee's Apostasy, continued

A blog called Always Reforming to Scripture gives a detailed review of John Hagee's latest book. If you don't know who Hagee is, just thank God for protecting you. Here in Texas and presumably in other parts of the USA he's had a large following. An Amazon.com search for his name reveals 267 book, 12 music items, 4 DVDs, and some VHS items.

He's basically placed himself outside of Biblical Christianity. May the Lord open more people's eyes to the truth that some famous preachers are not really Christians.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Suffering

Your blows are strong
And sometimes long.
Our hopes you shred;
Leave pain instead.
You snatch our best
And leave a test,
And there we meet
Your love so sweet:
In deepest pain,
eternal gain.
All else is gone,
But faith lives on.
Our Rock is sure
And will endure.

"Naked I came from my mother's womb,
And naked shall I return there.
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the Lord."

--Job 1:21

NOTE: On Sunday our pastor preached about worship in the midst of suffering. A small part of what he told us about Job:
--He saw himself accurately. He knew that his physical wealth was not his eternally.
--He saw his future accurately. He knew that he would die.
--He saw the world accurately. He did not vow revenge.
--He saw the lord accurately. He knoew that the Lord is worthy to be blessed. It's easy to bless the name of God in our triumphs. It's harder in our tragedies.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Father, Use Your Word

Father,
Use your word to slash and burn
The weeds that would choke our souls.
Use it as milk to nourish the tender ones
And as a hammer to smash our hardened hearts.
Use it to breathe life into dead souls, that they may live.
Use it as a lamp, so we won't walk in the wrong path.
Use your promises as a mighty shield,
      giving peace and security to those who are oppressed.

Yes, use your word.

"For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth
And making it bear and sprout,
And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
11 So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it..."

--Isaiah 55:10-11, NASB

Jesus vs. Christianity

This post is for those of you who want to stretch your thinking a bit. If you're looking for a poem, come back in a day or so. I plan to post one.

ElShaddai Edwards has an interesting post concerning a publication that wants to separate faith from religion. In a comment, he says,
Yet it increasingly seems to me that “religion” is the works-based part of our experience of salvation. Yes, we have faith in the complete grace of Christ and that is the cause of our salvation. But the flip side is the “working out of our salvation” in acts of mercy that reflect the humanity and sacrifice of Christ. Something that is called to be done through the corporate, social body of the church, that is, through religion, or what religion should be. We can’t have grace without works and still be satisfied in Christ, or Him in us.

All of this makes me think of three sorts of people that don't fit our usual mold:

1. Some people truly do come to Jesus Christ without coming to Christianity. They may know little of Christianity, or they may be in a cultural situation where what's known as Christianity has so little of the Spirit of Christ that they don't want it. Still, in some way, they come to be believers in Jesus and followers of him. They may see themselves, for instance, as "Muslims who follow Issa (=Jesus)." We can thank God for such people. If they are truly trusting in and following the Jesus of the Bible, they have salvation.

2. In our culture, more and more people seem to want to think of themselves as "not a particularly religious person," but spiritual. Matt Lauer of the Today show said something like that on Thanksgiving Day (Thursday). Such people usually reject both Christianity and Jesus. They invent their own spirituality and are headed toward eternal destruction. Spirituality without Jesus does not save.

3. Others may be very religious and may go to a church (either a Lakewood-style megachurch or a small, warm church) and may think of themselves as people of faith, but not necessarily people of Jesus. They filter out what the church says about Jesus, and they keep the idea of faith. This group, also, is headed to destruction.

We need to carefully distinguish between those who want Jesus without the cultural baggage of the Christianity they've seen, and those who want spirituality or faith or the church without the Jesus of the Bible.

"And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name [but Jesus] under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved."
--Acts 4:12, NAS

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Cleaning the Rain Gutters



Yesterday (Friday) my wife told me I should clean out the rain gutters, because they were predicting rain for Saturday and Sunday. For once, I listened to her good advice. Cleaning gutters requires some effort...getting out the ladder, placing it carefully, climbing up and down, getting out all of the leaves and muck. But it needed to be done. Today the rain came.



Our spiritual "gutters" need cleaning regularly, also. The dead leaves blow into them; then the black muck can start growing in our souls. If we've been truly saved, we haven't lost our salvation, but we still need the daily grime removed. The only remedy is to clean them out, confessing to the Lord our sin and our need for his cleaning. Then his Spirit can flow freely through us.

Jesus told Peter, "People who have washed are completely clean. They need to have only their feet washed.

--John 13:10, God's Word

Thursday, November 22, 2007

My Thanksgiving List

Today is Thanksgiving Day (a national holiday) in the USA. Most people seem to think the essence of the day is eating turkey, watching football games and getting ready for holiday shopping. Some also spend time thanking one another. A few remember that the original purpose of the day (in Abraham Lincoln's time) was to thank God.

I try to make an annual list of what I'm particularly thankful for that year. Here's the start of my list for this year.

I'm thankful for our new granddaughter, our first grandchild.
I'm thankful that our son has re-discovered the Lord.
I'm thankful that my wife and I are growing spiritually through the ministry of our pastor and our church.
I'm thankful that after over a decade of dreaming, my book is in print.
I'm thankful that a close friend has a "permanent" job after two or more years of working at temporary jobs.
I'm thankful that my wife and I survived two major auto incidents with no lasting bodily damage.
I'm thankful for the music composed by Stuart Townsend and Keith and Kristin Getty.

Thank you, Father!

Friends, what are some of the things on your Thanksgiving list?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Leaves Must Die



Leaves must die
    To show their greatest beauty.
So must I,
    To fill my holy duty.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
--Galatians 2:20, ESV

Monday, November 19, 2007

Our Daily Direction

The devil daily tempts us,
Taunting us with fruit,
Teasing us with lies,
Trying us with traps,
Perils in disguise.

The Lord has clearly warned us,
Loving us with truth,
Opening our eyes,
Keeping us with love
Leading to the prize.


Keep your heart with all vigilance,
    for from it flow the springs of life.
Put away from you crooked speech,
    and put devious talk far from you.
Let your eyes look directly forward,
    and your gaze be straight before you.
Ponder the path of your feet;
    then all your ways will be sure.

Prayer:
May we guard our hearts and look straight ahead to the prize, not turning aside to dally in devilish delights.

--Proverbs 4:23-26, ESV

Saturday, November 17, 2007

My Book Is Ready!



My first book, If I Had a Purple Horse, has arrived from the printer and is ready for purchase. I hope to have it available soon on Amazon.com, but for now it's available only from my new web site, www.2giggles.com. Take a look...I think you'll like the book.

Meanwhile, I plan to continue posting Christian poems and thoughts here. I've been a bit distracted for the past few days, getting the other web site up.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Words from the Mega-Pastor's Advisor

Don't speak of truth, eternal right and wrong.
It scares the crowds. They'll leave you before long.
They only want what's positive and fun.
Correct them, and they're quickly on the run.

Oh, you can tell them to improve themselves,
But never tell them anything that delves
Beneath the surface goodness they've put on.
Don't show their sin, or they will soon be gone,
And you'll be down in middle-class once more,
Or even worse--be poor, with enemies galore.

Proclaim whatever tickles people's ears.
Encourage them. Build confidence. Calm fears.
They'll keep you powerful. They'll keep you strong
With cars and clothes and fame your whole life long,
And surely God himself will love and bless you, too,
Because of all the folks who flock to you.

How you hate honest judges! How you despise people who tell the truth!
--Amos 5:10, NLT

Note:
I realize that there are some pastors of mega-churches who are wonderful, sound Christians. There are also some who are not. Here in Texas, one mega-pastor recently taught the heresy that "Jesus never came to earth to BE the Messiah." This is despite the fact that the Bible says whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ (that is, the Messiah) is the antichrist. Another Texas mega-pastor gives people shallow answers; tells people that Jesus is the way for him, but sometimes has trouble telling people that Jesus is the only way. Yet another does not say there is one God who exists in three persons. He says there is one God who exists in three manifestations. That's the ancient heresy called sabellianism. Between them, these three pastors lead churches with a total of nearly 90,000 members or attenders.

One of the most distressing things I've ever seen is something my father brought back from World War II. It's a bright red banner with a Nazi swastika on it and the words (in German) "Evangelical Church of Such-and-such-town." I keep that banner (but don't keep it on display) as a reminder of what happens if the church refuses to stand for truth and against evil.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

My First Book

I've written a book of poems for children. It's been illustrated beautifully by Stephanie Paskie. I'll give more information about the book in coming posts. If all goes well, it will be available yet this month, at a quite reasonable price.

Flee

He was young and strong and handsome and blessed. She looked at him, and she wanted him. He was a slave, but she wanted him. She was married, but she wanted him. She was his master's wife, but she wanted him. She told him, "Lie with me." He refused her day after day, telling her it would be a sin. One day they were alone in the house. She took hold of his garment and said, "Lie with me." He ran away, leaving the garment in her hands. Joseph, the young man, would go to prison for this after she falsely accused him of sexual assault, but he had escaped from immorality.

When we become infatuated with someone, or when someone becomes infatuated with us, and yet we're not morally free to marry the person, what can we do? We can run away. We can flee.

    When she's another man's wife, but she acts like she wants you, flee.
    When he's the man of your dreams, but you're already married, flee.
    When your wife doesn't understand you, but she does, flee.
    When he squabbles with his wife but looks longingly at you, flee.

Circumstances may force you to see that person frequently in the neighborhood or at work or at family gatherings. Flee from any heart-to-heart communication with the person. Be kind and polite and nothing more. Don't talk about troubles. Don't talk about joys. Flee emotionally. If, as in Joseph's case, that isn't enough, run away, at all costs. Flee.

Flee from sexual immorality. --1 Corinthians 6:18

Prayer: Father, you know our weaknesses. Give us the wisdom to see that fleeing immorality is strength, not cowardice.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Monsters at Dawn



Drifting through the shades of dawn,
Garbage trucks are pressing on,
Seeking out the city's trash
Which, on finding, they will smash
In their all-consuming jaws
With a gleeful squeal, then pause,
Put their hands upon their hips,
Wipe the garbage from their lips,
Then go through the dawn once more
With a rumble and a roar.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Dead or Alive?

How do you see most people? As spiritually alive, but needing a little fixing? Or as spiritually dead?

The Bible sees them as dead--"dead in trespasses and sins." Jesus said to Nicodemus, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

Too often we're like morticians, trying to make the corpses prettier. No matter how good we are at that, the people are still dead.

Dead people don't need just prettying. They need life. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life."

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Not a Chance

You're not a child of chance,
Mere random happenstance
Conceived by circumstance.

You're not an aberration
Produced by some vibration--
Harmonic syncopation.

Through eyes of faith you'll find
That you were in God's mind
Before he made mankind.

By faith, then, understand
That all your life was planned
And guided by his hand.

With faith, then, run the race
And trust the Lord by grace
And wait for his embrace.


Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began.
--Psalm 139:16 HCSB

...for He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight.
--Ephesians 1:4, HCSB

Monday, November 05, 2007

Miscellany

Nephew Update
My wife and are thanking God that her nephew Jeffery Harrison, who was severely burned, got out of the hospital yesterday (Sunday), three weeks to the day after getting burned. THANK YOU to those of you who prayed for him. He will be receiving outpatient physical therapy.

A Movie and a Book to Avoid

There's a major movie for children, "The Golden Compass," coming out in early December. It's based on the first book of the award-winning His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman. Pullman is an ardent atheist who has children killing God in the third book. The opening two sentences of an article at MTV.com (not exactly a right-wing, Christian organization) says it well. "Thought Harry Potter was blasphemous? That was kids' stuff compared to the "His Dark Materials" trilogy, in which God is an impostor, angels are sexually ambiguous and the Church kidnaps, tortures and assassinates to achieve its goals, one of which is stealing children's souls." (No, I don't usually get my news there. The article popped up in a Google search.) The book is especially anti-Catholic. I'm not Roman Catholic, but to kill the Roman Catholics' God is to kill my God.

The series of books is available as a three-in-one volume in the main aisle of my local Wal-Mart, along with the Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter.

I don't think organized protests against anyone involved are likely to help, but I'd suggest the following:

  • We can pray that the church will wake up to the fact that
    the enemy really does want to kill our children spiritually.

  • We can tell some non-Christian parent the gospel.

  • We can politely, kindly tell someone at our local Wal-Mart
    that we’re disappointed to see the book there, and why.



 

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Poet's Garden (Whimsy)

It was a foil-shiny dawn, promising a day with weather of blue china and white lace.

The poet was already out in his garden, tending his crop of metaphors. He'd planted two whole rows of them, curving past the fact trees and down toward the creek. That creek was fresh and bubbling. There were ideas living hidden just under the water's surface. Once he'd brought a whole string of them home. They made a good supper.

The poet glanced wistfully to the other side of the yard, where he'd tilled the soil and planted several square plots of similes, as thick as birdseed in a feeder. The similes had sprouted, grown just an inch or so, and then died of poetic blight. Now the critic birds were hopping among the dead similes, crowing as they ate them. The poet sighed. Maybe he'd have a better luck with similes next year.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

He Is

He is
          Lord of life and Lord of death,
          Ruler of our every breath.
          All his power yet will flow;
          All his honor yet will grow
          As our God has fully planned
          'Til his glory fills the land.

He is
          Maker of all things we see,
          Keeper of eternity
          If you're seeking something more,
          Thinking Jesus is a bore,
          Then you're seeking death and lies,
          Spirit-blindness for your eyes.

He is the image of the invisible God...For by him all things were created...and he is the head of the body, the church...that in everything he might be preeminent.
--Colossians 1:15-18, ESV