I Don’t Know How

August 16th, 2017

As mentioned in the previous post one of the reasons given for not reading/studying the Bible is, I don’t know how. Let me ask parents, if your child said that to you, what would you response be?

Try it…you can do it…you have to learn some time…yes you do…

Maybe we haven’t talked about the “why?” We are spiritual people. We have a need to meet with our Creator. The Bible is the best way to learn about God and how He related/s to us. When we read the Bible our faith grows.

Even if you don’t know how, you have to start somewhere. In every other area of our life, not knowing is addressed by research, trial and error, or some other effort. Why when we come to Bible reading do we just give up?

Priorities. We need to rethink and reset our priorities. We spend enormous amounts of time on other things that are not so significant as our spiritual health. To reset priorities we must make a plan. Set a time and prepare a place. Then stick with it. You are beginning a new discipline. It takes time to establish it. Don’t give up! You can do it! Read the Bible for the sake of your heart.

Summer Reading List

July 10th, 2017

there are several recent studies out concerning Bible reading. Lifeway’s Transformational Discipleship Assessment survey reveals that less than 20% of average church-goers read their Bible regularly. Similar results are discovered in similar studies.

Most answer that the reason for such a low number is that they are: too busy, or don’t know how. How is that possible when you read about the amount of time spent watching TV is at a record high and so is mobile device use?

NVM. How about we change that statistic! Your summer reading list/challenge is to read your Bible 10 minutes a day for the next 40 days. Need a plan? Try the Gospel of John, or Proverb of the day, and even the book of Psalms +30 (read the corresponding Psalm for today’s date  then add 30 and read that one e.g. July 10th read Psalm 10, 40, 70, 110, 140). You can try the YouVersion plans on their app. Just go to the home screen and look at the bottom of the page, there are topics, pastors and other plans. DA Carson has a blog and book titled, For The Love of God that will get you through the Bible in a year and the NT twice. There’s also a list of devotionals on this web page from CFBC, www.saysoma.org/devotionals.

It’s summer, get some reading in!

The Slam Dunk contest

May 22nd, 2017

I was watching the slam dunk contest and listening to commentary and analysis. One cool dunk after another, jumping over obstacles, people, spinning, twirling were performed. The judges were getting warmed up as the scores started low then began to climb as athletes were eliminated and dunks became more creative. Finally a champion was crowned and one of the  expert analysts said something like, Nobody does it like they did in the 90s. That comment initiated a conversation that continued for what seemed like 10 minutes too long about the better dunks of the superstars of earlier decades.

wha???

Why do we like/love the past so much? Don’t get me wrong, I love the good ole days as much as the next person. Those were great years and full of high flying feats were amazing.

However, we tend to forget the negative of the past, while being negative about the present. Things weren’t always so rosy back then. Maybe our brains have blocked that part out.

We must be careful of that we aren’t so negative that it invalidates new ideas and future progress. One way we can fight to keep moving forward is to be thankful for the past. We have actually been shaped by what we’ve experienced and seen. God’s word says to be thankful and in 1 Chron. 16:41 David assigns someone the task of giving thanks at all times. Paul declares that it is God’s will to give thanks in 1 Thess. 5:18.

We also need to plan for the future and be creative and innovative as we go. Don’t be scared of new ideas. Appreciate the past and be excited for the future.

Seasonal Family Practices

February 13th, 2017

Use the issues and topics of the calendar or season for a family talk/devotional/practice. With Valentine’s Day upon us use this holiday as a topic for helping your children define love, standards, relationship status and tell your own dating/marriage story.

Many of you already do this but for parents who may believe it is too hard, think about it. You have your story, your personal story is hard to mess up. Tell about your first date, how and what you knew about love then and what you know now. Take a night or mealtime and give your children some tips to discern between temporary feelings and true love. Talk about how someone treats someone they really love. What a great way to talk about grace and forgiveness, too! Add to this the way one builds trust…

Talk about the importance of knowing God’s love first. It is critical for someone in a relationship to understand their own expectations and how no one outside of God loves perfectly. Make a plan to talk about emotional and spiritual hurts when we get this mixed up and out of order.

Other topics that might/should be addressed: purity and guarding your mind, putting others first, marriage between a man and woman, God’s best, communication and sacrifice…

Then, use scripture to define love. This holiday ought to be full of scripture! Exodus 34:6-7 describing God, Psalm 136, Song of Solomon 2:7 and more, 1 Cor. 13, John 13:34-35, 15:13, Ephesians 5:25-33, 2 Thessalonians 5:12-23 and others.

Just try it and see what happens and how God is at work. Make it conversational and work in God’s word. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Mature and Assured

January 30th, 2017

i’m reading the book of Colossians right now and as I read through chapter four i came across Paul’s mention of Epaphras’ prayer for the church members at Colossae. Epaphras prays that they may “stand mature” and “fully assured in all the will of God.”

As disciples we are to be growing and learning, moving towards maturity. Knowledge, words, and actions are all a part of maturity. But think about the word “stand.” i think of not falling, stable, balanced, strong, purposeful. then it is coupled with the phrase about assurance of the will of God.

I hear a lot of questions about the will of God. One of the best books I read on the topic is so simple. it is by John MacArthur and is titled, Found: God’s Will. in it he simply reminds the reader about the revealed will of God throughout scripture. It is a short read about 60 pages and reminds us it is God’s will to be: saved, thankful, holy, love God and love people, and a few other principles. His point is that God’s will is not hidden. We can know it and when we live it we know it more clearly.

what a great prayer for the church, our church, your church and for every Christ-follower you know. Pray for those specific people to “stand mature” and “fully assured in all the will of God.”

Looking back, what we know now

November 9th, 2016

I don’t know if many of you play Fantasy Football. I’m in a family league and another with a group of friends and we play for fun. As I was listening to a NFL game I had a thought about a player who had just scored a touchdown. I wondered to myself, “why didn’t I draft him?!?” Immediately I was struck with the fact that I didn’t know then, what I know now. I realize Fantasy Football is relatively insignificant but it caused me to think.

We make lots plans base on information, feelings, and counsel. Then, miles or months pass and we look back and wish we had made different arrangements. Many scriptures about wisdom and God’s will and faith come to mind. Proverbs 16:1 and 9 remind us that God is at work in the bigger picture. James 1 tells us to ask for wisdom. God’s will is obvious sometimes, 1 Thess. 5:16-22, but other times it requires faith. Be careful of taking a selfish or easy option.

Instead of looking back in the present we must look forward with hope in faith. If we’ve messed up we must repent and change direction.

The decision process needs to include prayer, scripture knowledge, counsel, courage, and faith. This may seem like a very involved process and it is at the beginning. But, the longer you are obedient and pursue righteousness the more likely you are to make better decisions. Better decisions can lead to better relationships, better future choices, and better life. Don’t keep looking back and wishing, determine today to pray, study, seek wisdom, and pursue Jesus.

Perseverance is not normal

July 28th, 2016

Seems like the new normal is, busyness. It doesn’t matter who you are, you’re busy. Work is busy. Family is busy. Kids are busy. Church is busy. Free time is busy, if you have any, but even free time is often full of busyness. But really, what is busyness? Is it simply an excuse? Have you ever said that you are busy to get out of something you don’t want to do? Have you ever been “busy” and didn’t hear someone ask a question or request your help? Have you ever been so tired from being busy that you didn’t want to do what is important?

Busyness is also a choice. Usually it is a bad one because too often we choose to be busy about the wrong things.

James 1:2-4 talks about steadfastness or endurance. We generally know we are to count our trials as joy but usually I want my trials to end ASAP. What James describes for the Christ-follower is perseverance throughout the trial. That kind of perseverance has a unique result, completeness, wholeness, “lacking in nothing.” Our busyness is often for something else we don’t truly need. In our busyness we often fly right by the lesson of the trial, ignoring it or anesthetizing our hearts and minds with more busyness.

Perseverance should set the Christian apart. Should we be less busy?…maybe. We most certainly more purposed and more joy-full because of Jesus and his offer of abundant life! Persevere in what you are doing for God’s glory.

Filled Donuts

May 4th, 2016

There is likely no limit to what a donut can be filled with. I bought some heart-shaped brownie and cookie dough filled donuts from Dunkin Donuts on Valentine’s. They were incredible. I like jelly donuts and creme filled donuts, even filled donut holes are pretty awesome.

It was a good reminder and made me think about what is inside because what comes out is what is inside! Thoughts and passions, dreams and emotions, all find a way of expression.

We just finished up a great weekend marriage retreat with Les and Leslie Parrott and they talked about the power of “happy.” Happiness is a choice. Choosing happiness will change your perspective. Their book Love Talk shares even more principles of the power of happy.

What scriptures come to mind when you think of happiness…on the inside?

Hiding Christmas gifts

December 16th, 2015

I heard a story on the radio the other day about hiding Christmas gifts. I’ve never been much for finding out, sneaking around or even shaking my presents. i have kids and a spouse who seem to be the kind that look for their gifts. As i was listening to the story each of the most “popular” hiding places was mentioned: under the bed, in the closet and/or in a drawer. then there was some quote by the experts to try something different like at a neighbor’s house, mislabel the present for someone else or put them in dirty/scary places if you truly don’t want the recipient to discover their new treasures.

Like many things in life this went to a spiritual place and i thought about God “hiding” the Messiah in a manger. That is not a typical place for a king or especially the Savior of the World. The timing was perfect, the setting mundane.But as we find and receive Jesus we are truly transformed. Paul talks about the mystery being made clear that God, through Jesus, is saving the world! If it had happened any other way would we, as sinful people, realized it? Maybe, but hiding in plain sight for all the world to see and discover for themselves, why do some still miss Him?

advent musings and devo ideas

December 9th, 2014

Waiting. Play a game with your kids and a stop watch. Set it up by making this a contest to see who can guess when a minute has elapsed. Press start on the watch and have your children guess when a minute is up. Have someone record each guess until the minute is over. Closest to the actual 1 minute mark “wins.” Try 2 minutes for a challenge. This illustrates our skewed sense of time and we tend to think it moves faster that it seems.

Waiting is watching and wanting but not having. It is often the hardest thing about life. I used to think it was waiting when I was a kid and i wanted it now. But, now as an adult waiting seems even harder.

As a culture we don’t like to wait. We’ve invented tons of technology to shorten the wait. We have microwaves, drive thru’s, expressways, online shopping and measure computer speeds in kbs, that is kilobytes per second! We also dislike waiting so much that we distract our waiting with music, TV or other noise.

Waiting has always been especially hard at Christmas time. Ask your kids. How many excited little ones have spent the night awake in bed waiting for Christmas morning and the presents that await?

There are several scriptures and examples of Luke 2:25 mentions Simeon as waiting for the consolation of Israel. How does the scripture describe Simeon? Righteous, devout, Holy Spirit filled. What do those characteristics have to do with waiting?

Then Galatians 4:4 reminds us that waiting on God is a good thing because God’s timing is perfect. The “fullness of time” illustrates how waiting and God’s timing go together. The culture, language and roads of that Roman era were key to the spread of the gospel. In another instance in Luke 12:36 Jesus reminds us to always be ready even though we wait. And Titus 2:13 reminds us we are waiting for something even better than Christmas, the second appearing of Jesus.

Christmas is about waiting. We wait for family to arrive, for meals to get ready, for presents to be opened. But we also need to wait for Jesus. Yes he is already here but if we plan out our schedules to the minute, drown out spiritual reminders with noise we really might miss Him. Take some time and pause wait a minute or two in silence. Light a candle, turn out/dim the lights and thank Jesus for being Christmas.

What are some things you remember waiting on?

How does waiting help you be a better person?

What if God waits on us and our obedience to Him?