Thursday, January 29, 2015

Put Your Shoes On

Don’t go out without your shoes on. I remember my mom saying those very words to me and I hated it. Now barefoot weather is approaching; some places slower than others. But there are places where, even in nice weather, we don’t go barefooted. Soldiers in combat seldom are without shoes. In Viet Nam although it was almost always plenty warm to go barefoot, whenever we did any walking we usually had something on our feet. When we were on the move we always had our boots on.

In Ephesians 6:15 we are encouraged to put on specific shoes. In each of the more literal translations that I have these are described as the “preparation of the gospel of peace.”
Frankly I do not like the whole idea of “Soul winning classes.” Just my prejudice. But here I am commanded to put on the preparation of the gospel of peace… Get ready to share the gospel. To me, this relates directly to 1 Peter 3:15.

“but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to everyone who asks you a reason of the hope in you, with meekness and fear;”

Sometimes it feels like I’m the last person on the planet who reads the King James Bible. Everyone says they can’t understand it. Anyway, when you ask them to tell you about their hope, they almost always quote the KJV. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth on him should not perish but have everlasting life. I thought you didn’t understand that? Even Microsoft Word didn’t hiccough at “believeth” in that context.

The whole point is, can you, in simple English, give a personal answer to the question, “What do you believe and why do you believe it?” As I have thought and prayed about this, I do believe that these 2 verses (Ephesians 6:15 and 1 Peter 3:15) tell me that having an answer ready, is important.

Back in 2011 I wrote an article and tried to encourage people to write what they think they might say to someone who would ask them to “Tell me what you believe, and why”. No one replied. I will ask again.

Can you write down what you would say if someone asked you, “What do you believe and why?” I would love to see what some of you might say. If you would like for me to share that on this blog, I would like to do that as well.

Try to keep it under 1000 words. That doesn’t sound hard to most people but some of us like to write.

If you want to keep it just between you and me you can email me at You can also see my answer to the question at the link.

By the way comments are welcome. Thanks

It’s something to think about.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Fact and Truth

In one of the Indiana Jones movies Dr. Jones makes a profound statement. He says, “We deal with facts not truth, if you want to know about truth go to the philosophy department.” The thing that is profound is that facts and truth are not always the same thing.

The fact is I have sin active in my flesh and have often chosen to do sin (1 John 1:8). The truth is I can have victory over my sin (1 Corinthians 10:13, 1 John 2:1).The fact is God sees my sin (Psalms 139:23-24). The truth is that God’s vision for me is that I do overcome and have victory (Romans 8:29). If I focus my attention on the facts I will be discouraged and frustrated, but if in view of the facts I focus on the truth I will have hope and be encouraged.

Ephesians 6:14 says “Therefore STAND having your loins girded about with truth, and having the breastplate of righteousness.” We don’t hear a lot about girdles anymore, but when I was young a lot of women would wear girdles to hold their stomachs in but they also provided support and comfort. The girdle of truth is there to support and comfort us in the world of facts that would discourage and tear us down.

Notice also that the girdle is flexible and will encourage and support in many situations. Each of us needs to find the word and words of truth that will comfort and encourage us individually and apply that to our own life. What words help you when you see your weakness to not be discouraged and to overcome in the time of temptation? I would encourage you to commit those to memory and think about them, meditate on them, even to write about them.

As the girdle of truth is flexible and can fit each individual in their various needs, the breastplate of righteousness is a solid plate that will cover all who will put it on. Our righteousness is our accepting the sacrifice that Jesus made to pay for our sin. My righteousness is accepting the fact that I can never do enough good to erase or cover all of the corruption that I have embraced, and in complete poverty of spirit humbly and confidently placing all of my hope on the cross of Christ Jesus. Jesus truly did pay it all and that is the solid breastplate of my righteousness which I must consciously put on every day and usually more often than just every day.

Does the truth that you hold in your mind and heart comfort, strengthen, encourage and protect you?

It’s something to think about.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Get Dressed for the Day

When I get up in the morning, I check the weather to see what the day looks like, so I will know how to dress for the day. I do that every day. Then I get dressed appropriately to what the day is going to be and according to what I need to be doing in the day. I imagine you do something similar.

When the children of Israel came to the Jordan River after 300 years in captivity and 40 years in the desert, they were given specific instruction about how far to follow the Ark of God. Joshua said “Because you have not passed this way before.” (Joshua 3) As I am on a spiritual journey into the Promised Land of the Kingdom of God, every day I meet things in my life that need to be conquered and put to death so that Christ can be formed in me. I may have met these things before, but many of them I have not realized that I have a responsibility to destroy. In the same way therefore I have not passed this way before.

Every day is a new day that I have never known before. It is only reasonable that when I am going somewhere I have never been that I see if I can get some clear directions for how to navigate in the new day. When I was driving a truck, I learned to always get specific turn by turn directions for how to get to my destination. In many situations this was very important because there were hazards that could not be navigated if I strayed from the correct route.

After writing about the principalities, powers and rulers of this present darkness and wickedness in high places Paul exhorts us to get dressed appropriately for what the day has in store so that we can function as we should in our place.

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Stand therefore…  (Ephesians 6:13 +)

Recently I am impressed with the emphasis of the evil day. Each day I need to prepare. Each day I need to put on the armor of God because I will face enemies in my flesh that will conquer me if I am not prepared.

God’s intention for me is that I become like Jesus. If I am becoming angry when things don’t go my way I am not becoming like Jesus. If my words are not glorifying to God, I am not becoming like Jesus. If my heart is full of desires other than to please God, I am not becoming like Jesus. If I am not loving like Jesus loved, I am not becoming like Jesus. In these cases and many more I am not standing in my place because I am not prepared and clothed spiritually.

I must be properly clothed each day for the day’s activities. This is true spiritually even more than physically.

Think about it.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Present Darkness

In my everyday life it is evident that there are conflicts. People do things that tend to irritate. I am disappointed with things that I do and with the things I do not accomplish; I am even in conflict with myself. Ephesians 6:12 clearly says that the conflict is not with other people and to some degree not even with myself. There are spiritual forces at work that fight against me and against the will of God.

There was a popular book several years ago about the rulers of the darkness of this world. It focused on spiritual beings that affected people and their behavior. As I was reading this passage I became aware of another darkness that strongly affects the people of this present age and time. It has far too great an affect on me and I suppose others may be able to see how it affects them as well.

The darkness I am referring to is the darkness that entered the world in the Garden of Eden. I am not speaking of original sin or sin nature. These seem to me to be Theological terms with little meaning. Rather I am simply referring to the introduction of another point of reference. Before Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil God was the point of reference that said what was good and what was not good. Once they took the knowledge of good and evil for themselves the conflict began.

Jesus came with a different point of reference than was common in the world at that time and now. His central and main point of reference was God’s will, even at the point of being beaten and crucified (ref Luke 22:42). He didn’t even speak his own words but waited and spoke the words from the father (ref John 14:10).

In verse 10 we are encouraged to “be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.” The strength of Jesus is the strength and power of humility. In Philippians 2:5-8 we can read, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

The strength and the might of Jesus was not his own strength or might, rather his strength and might was in the fact that he humbled himself and was obedient to God in all things.

The darkness of this present age is the spirit in each of us that says “I know what is good and what is evil.”

It’s something to think about.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

January 2015 Here I am

In January I seem to want to say, “This Year I…” But I don’t truly think I’m that big a deal. Rather I think I should say. Right now and probably for a season, I believe God wants me to think about the passage in Ephesians 6:10-18. How does this truly apply to my daily life?

In the very beginning I see my first problem (where I get it wrong). Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. The human condition and especially my condition thinks that I can be strong by exercise and good nutrition. This applies spiritually as well as physically.

I have over the years gone on several diets to become a less rounded person. Some have been marginally successful and others not at all. In the end my desires were not changed and I coveted the foods I liked and that led me to giving up the “diet” in favor of my own lusts.

The truth is that physically and spiritually, on my own I am in a fallen and helpless condition. I must continually recognize and acknowledge that my own strength, wisdom and ability is not enough to live the life or be the person I was created and intended to be.

I must recognize that Jesus is the Lord not because he was God, but because, as a man just like me he overcame all of the weaknesses and failures that separate all men from God by humbling himself in ALL situations and being obedient. He had to live the life he lived in constant awareness of his need for wisdom and strength from God.

This is my only hope for any real success in my daily life.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

RVCC Sunday Message Reflections

It seems my life is up for another change. Monday, I began a new job. I am training to drive a school bus for the Medford school district. This will give us a little money to fill in the gaps that exist right now and hopefully a little extra. It will only be part time which I hope will leave time for other things where I want to be involved.
This week David started his message by asking how many of us liked to party. It seemed like a bit of an unusual question. Then he reminded us of the stories we had looked at last week; the lost sheep, followed by a celebration and then the lost coin followed by a celebration. And then we looked at the story of the lost son. (Luke 15:11-32)
In this story we see 2 sons of one man. One son, the younger, took his inheritance and left home. Then he wasted all of the money and found himself in a very low place. Today we might say he found himself in the sewer. The good thing is that “he came to himself” vs. 17.
What a wonderful thing! How many of us long for our children or a loved one to come to them self and see the true condition of their life. At that point they are truly ready to do what this son did. (my private rant)
He came to himself and said, “My father’s servants have food and clothing, I will go back home and ask to be made a servant.”
It didn’t work out like he thought. His father saw him coming and ran to meet him; he covered him with kisses and put new cloths on him then said we’re gonna have a party, my son who was lost is found! ( or something like that)
In both of the stories last week and in the story this week Jesus pointed out that there is more joy in heaven over one lost soul who finds the grace for repentance than over 99 righteous souls who need no repentance. When anyone comes to Jesus there is a party in heaven.
The question then was do we celebrate the things that they celebrate in heaven?
Sometimes I tend to be a critical of others and think they are being too interested in natural things instead of spiritual things. Jesus used 2 very natural examples and made no indication that there was any problem with that. I see that I need to learn to not be critical.
Another thing David mentioned is that mission without celebration is not really mission. He then pointed out how many celebrations there are in the Old Testament. God apparently wants His people to be a people who know how to enjoy a celebration. Actually one of the complaints that the religious leaders had about Jesus was that he was a winebibber and a glutton. (Luke 7:34)Apparently Jesus enjoyed a good time.
We tend to avoid celebrations and parties because of all that is wrong in the world. We tend to focus on the ones who are not following God and they become the reason we feel we cannot celebrate. Or we simply look at our own difficulties and think, “What do I have to celebrate?” Then we need to ask, are we looking to celebrate the things that are celebrated in Heaven or are we only looking for our own comfort or encouragement?
One of the life group questions is, how does celebrating more often and more wholeheartedly affect our lives? One of the members of our life group shared a challenge that someone had shared with her. The challenge is to think of at least one thing each day that you are truly thankful for and write it down in some kind of note book. She shared that it had had a very pleasant affect on her life. It made me think of the scripture in Philippians 4:8-9
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

I know that focusing on the negative things around me has no good affect. The word of God seems to promise a much better affect if I will give my attention to the good things that God has provided. I would encourage you to join me in taking some time each day to write one or more things that give you reason to be thankful for the next month. See if you can notice a difference in your attitude or even your health. Have a little party each day, eat a cookie or have a cup of tea in celebration, or whatever you choose, but make it a little party.
David also pointed out that when the older son found out about the party, he only wanted to complain and talk about what a good son he was. He sort of took the place of the religious leaders who were critical of Jesus for spending time with sinners. Let’s not be like them.
I also noticed that the father was watching for the lost son. Are we watching for the lost ones ready to welcome them back to the family of God with love and encouragement?
Walk with God this week and
Celebrate your blessings!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Sacred Mysteries

Several years ago, I heard Jack Hayford  (the pastor of The Church on the Way, in Anaheim California) speak about mysteries. One thing he said was that mysteries involve things that are hidden and even when revealed, they remain mysteries. My wife is a reader. She enjoys reading mysteries. There are several mysteries by Agatha Christie that she has read several times, because even when she finds out who did it and how they did it the story is still a great mystery.
In God’s great dealings with men, I see that he reveals mysteries to us as we are ready to see them. The greatest is of course in Colossians 1:26-27.
“The mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but has been revealed to His saints. for to them God would make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the nations, which is Christ in you the hope of glory.”
This is The Great Mystery. In fact this is the mystery that we are exploring throughout this writing. The word Christ is a Greek word that is seldom translated in the different versions of the Bible. The word means; The anointed one. When kings and priests were inaugurated, the inaugurating officer would pour oil on his head to signifying a divine endorsement of the king or priest. in the case of Jesus, God truly did endorse him by giving Jesus His eternal Spirit. In the same way, God endorses his saints with an actual measure of His very Spirit. This is the very greatest mystery, and the more I learn of this mystery the greater it becomes.
In the communication of this Great Mystery, God has given us 3 lesser mysteries. Even so these mysteries are still far beyond our complete understanding. Marriage, Baptism and Communion (or The Lord’s Supper) are the 3 sacraments (or sacred rituals) of the church that God has given us to help us realize our potential as his children. These are sacred rituals, not because of some Church ruling, but because God established them.
The rest of this chapter is primarily my personal reflection about these mysteries. I am absolutely sure that I may be mistaken about much of what I will write here, but I am sharing the things that have been a help to me. So please weigh the following carefully and if you find things of value for your life give glory to God. If not pass on and leave these things for another time or abandon them altogether.
The first great mystery is marriage. Marriage was established by God in Genesis 2. In verse 18 God says, “...It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” And that is what he did. This is truly a miracle which is repeated when we marry in the Lord. Consider verse 2:24; “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Throughout the Bible story, marriage has been honored and considered very serious. God spoke to Joseph to encourage him to take Mary as his wife when she had been found to be pregnant with Jesus. Jesus first miracle took place at a marriage celebration. Then Jesus puts the seal on marriage when he says, “Wherefore they are no more two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”(Matthew 19:6) The Word of God says that marriage is a sacred union created by God. Later in Ephesians, Paul clarifies this a little when teaching about family relationships. He is speaking of the husbands place of sacrifice toward his wife; and then he quotes Genesis 2:24 immediately following with “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church.” (Ephesians 5:31-32)  It is impossible to explore all that marriage can show us, especially in this context, but please consider that marriage is a great mystery created and established by God.
The second great mystery that God has given the church is baptism. Baptism is another Greek word that has not been translated, but in stead re-spelled with our alphabet. The Greek word simply means to dip or immerse. Jesus validated baptism in what is called the great commission, when he said; “All authority is given to Me in Heaven and in earth. Therefore go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things, whatever I commanded you. And, behold, I am with you all the days until the end of the world. Amen.”  (Matthew 28:18-20)
Later in the book of Acts in chapter 2, on the first day of Pentecost after Jesus’ resurrection, also called the birthday of the church, when the apostles of Jesus were filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter stood up in the Temple and spoke of the proof that Jesus is the Christ (anointed redeemer) of God.  When the people heard this message they were deeply moved and asked what they could do. Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ to remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:14-38) As you read the book of Acts in many places, when people believed the gospel they were baptized. Refer to Acts 2:41,8:12, 8:36, 10:48, 16:15, 16:33. I have just listed the references to baptism, but take some time to read the whole story and see how people decided they should be baptized.
With baptism came the promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit. (ref.  Acts 2:38) This is at least part of the process of being born again. The great mystery of the new birth. Can I explain it? Do I understand it? No! Do I believe in it? Yes! with all my heart.
What can we learn from baptism? There are some clues in God’s word that I have found helpful. In Romans 6:1-5 Paul is talking about the change that should be happening when someone is born again. In verses 3-4 we can see this powerful illustration of the new birth in the sacrament of baptism.
 “...all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him through baptism unto death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life.”
There is much to say about baptism, but primarily I hope that you can get a little idea that marriage and baptism are physical acts that we can participate in, that are directly linked to the miraculous work of redemption.
The final mystery that I will speak of at this time is Communion or The Lord’s Supper. After Abram rescued his nephew Lot, as he was returning to his home Melchizedek the king of Salem brought bread and wine and blessed Abram. This is the first reference to something that looks a lot like our communion (Genesis 14:18-20). Then in Exodus 12 we find the story of the children of Israel being delivered from bondage in Egypt. At this time God established the Passover feast. there was blood and there was unleavened bread. Because of the blood around the door, the angel of death passed over the houses of the Israelites. But in the houses of the Egyptians where the blood was not found the angel of death came in and killed the firstborn. Then the Egyptians drove the children of Israel from their land. That is how God delivered them.
On the night that Jesus was betrayed, he ate the Passover with his disciples.
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (Matthew 26:26-28)
This event is also recorded in Luke 22:19-20 and in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. Communion is an extremely great privilege. I do not think we can take it too seriously. PLEASE read these scripture verses carefully. Read them exactly. Then consider the instructions and warnings that follow in 1Corinthians 11:23-30.
God reveals himself in these sacred mysteries. Take time to read the references, think about what is said and ask God to show you what he wants you to see.

These things happen in the meeting of the Church. They belong to the church. They are for our encouragement and edification.