Posts Tagged ‘Lord’

h1

NO REGERTS! – June 26

June 26, 2014

“The plan of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.  All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weights the spirit.  Commit your work to the Lord and your plans will be established.” Proverbs 16:1-3

I cannot resist a laugh at the irony implicit in a “No Regerts” tattoo.regerts-e1336608292682

The irony does not lies in an individual’s declaration of regret freedom becoming yet another regret.

I do not know of anyone who wants to live with regrets. No one starts their day with a desire to fill it with regrets. Being without regrets is not a matter of determination.  A life without regrets is a life never lived.

A statement that you will not feel sad, repentant, or disappointed about circumstances that have not worked out, the loss associated with poor decisions, or the indecision of a missed opportunity, seems naïve. It might seem possible for a twenty-nothing to think that life can be lived without regrets but as a forty-something I cannot imagine a life free of regrets.

The denial of regret simply creates a regert – regret in disguise.

Regrets are an inevitable part of the human experience. A life without regrets requires perfection. I am far from perfect and as a result my life is full of regrets.

I regret responses to criticism…victory…conflict…praise…rejection…
I regret selfish treatment of people.
I regret a failure of leadership in the Church and business.
I regret working too hard and not hard enough.
I regret misplaced trust placed in key people.
I regret starting and never finishing.
I regret never starting.
I regret not being the husband I want to be.
I regret not being the father I want to be.
I regret not being the friend I want to be.

The majority of my regrets can be traced to the sin that still dwells within me. My life is full of regrets because I am a sinner. To deny my regrets is to deny my sin. The denial of sin will only result in another regret, which makes it a regert.

used-2013-07-18-no-regerts-alkhall-sobriety-recoveryRegrets are not an emotion to deny. Regrets are a reminder of our continuing need of a savior. The acknowledgement of regrets leads us to the gospel.  I trust God; that He has a plan. I trust  He will take all that I regret and make something good out of them. I trust that there will be a day when I will see all my regrets for what they are in God’s plan.

However, that is an act of faith because I currently cannot see His plan.

Therefore, I find freedom from regrets by faith and a refusal to change them into regerts.
I glorify God in my regrets.
I have been forgiven through Christ of the sin associated with my regrets.

I praise God in my regrets.
His plan is not dependent upon my perfection.

I hope in God because of my regrets.
I look forward to the day when I will be truly free of regrets and regerts.

PRAYER: Father, you know all of my regrets.  You know all of my wanderings.  You know all of my sins of omission and commission.  Thank you for forgiving me.  Thank you for freeing me from my past and all that I regret.  Thank you for giving me hope.  Thank you for preparing a day in the future when I will truly be free of all regrets…and regerts. I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

h1

QUOTE (Andrew Murray) – May 9

May 9, 2014

Andrew Murray (minister)

“The Lord gave the wonderful promise of the free use of His Name with the Father in conjunction with doing His works. The disciple who lives only for Jesus’ work and Kingdom, for His will and honor, will be given the power to appropriate the promise. Anyone grasping the promise only when he wants something very special for himself will be disappointed, because he is making Jesus the servant of his own comfort. But whoever wants to pray the effective prayer of faith because he needs it for the work of the Master will learn it, because he has made himself the servant of his Lord’s interests.”
~ Andrew Murray

In honor of Andrew Murray, South African Pastor and writer, who was born on this day in 1828.

Resources:
May 9 – Today in Christian History
Andrew Murray > Quotes

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta
h1

PATIENT BELIEF – May 7

May 7, 2014

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.” Psalm 37:7-9

Everyone has to wait. I don’t know of anyone who seeks to wait. We are forced to wait. We wait for the doctor; we wait in traffic; we wait in the grocery line; we wait for results; we wait for opportunities; everyone is confronted with the necessity to wait. Therefore, we get a lot of practice in how to wait well.

Alone on the train

The advent of Smartphone game apps makes waiting a little more bearable for me. I play solitaire on my Smartphone to pass the waiting moment. I will settle myself into a comfortable waiting chair and occupy my mind with a game of solitaire as I wait.

The particular solitaire app that I play has two game options. One option is a random dealing of digital cards. Cards appear on my screen from a random number generator with no reason or intention. It is  purely a matter of chance as to whether the cards will fall in such an order as to allow you to win the game. The other option is a dealing of a winning set of digital cards. In this case, someone has designed the order and placement of cards so that the hand can be won. It is a matter of stepping through the cards and discovering the design hidden in the stacks.

Patience

I noticed a pattern in my playing the last time I waited for my wife and daughter’s hunt for the elusive prey of fitting jeans. I noticed that I am rather impatient with cards randomly dealt. I am quick to abandon the game and move on to another because I know that chaos rarely allows a win.  A misplaced card will frustratingly block a stack that contains the link to successfully win the game and I will quickly give up.

Alternatively, I will patiently try to find the secrets of a game that I know to be designed. The knowledge that the game is not randomly driven, results in a surprising degree of patience. I will patiently flip through the digital cards long after I would have abandoned a random game with similar apparent barriers, because I know that chaos does not reign.

I realized that this pattern of patience in the simplicity of solitaire might hint at a wider truth. Waiting becomes difficult when we begin to lose hope that all will work out well. We are prone to act rashly when we sense the powerlessness that comes from waiting. The temptation to give up, grows proportionately to our belief that chaos reigns.

We are told to patiently wait for the Lord. There is a belief inherent in that command. Patient waiting only makes sense if there is a design behind the circumstances we find ourselves in. The knowledge that life’s circumstances are not randomly driven should result in enduring patience.

Because God is in control…

…we don’t have to fret about all that has gone wrong.
…we don’t have to fret about those who cheat to get ahead.
…we can refrain from anger.
…we can refrain from revenge.
…we know He will deal with the evil of the world.

Because God is in control, we can wait patiently for Him.

PRAYER: Father, you know that I don’t wait well.  Forgive the unbelief inherent in my impatience.  Lord, teach me your patience.  Teach me to trust you.  Teach me to wait upon you in faith.  Thank you for being in control.  Thank you for giving my life and this world a plan.  Thank you for the design that your hand has made in all things.  Open my eyes to the work of your hand in this world and my life.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

Enhanced by Zemanta
h1

EASTER CHANGES EVERYTHING – April 20

April 20, 2014

“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” 1 Corinthians 15:17-18

 Easter changes everything.

 If Christ had not been raised then…

… Church wastes a Sunday.
… prayer is merely meditation.
… the Bible is a best-selling self-help book.
cross… charity is a utopian ideal.
… faith is a crutch.
… self-denial is a waste of effort.
… happiness is fleeting.
… everlasting joy is a myth.
… peace is impossible.
… God is unknown.
… sin remains.
… God does not love us.
… suffering is without meaning.
… this is as good as it gets.
…our future is a grave.
… we are fools.

Easter changes everything.

Because Christ has risen, we know …

… He is the messiah.
… the prophesies have been fulfilled.
… the penalty of sin has been paid.
… the curse of sin is removed.
… death has been defeated.
… the kingdom of God will be established.
… all things are possible.
… eternal life awaits beyond the grave.
… glory will be revealed to us.
… suffering has purpose.
… we are loved by God.
… our faith is not in vain.
… we are not fools.
… we are children of God.
… we are heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.

empty-tombEaster changes everything.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,
knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

(1 Corinthians 15:58)

PRAYER: Father, thank you for Easter.  Thank you for raising your Son from the grave.  Thank you for keeping all of your promises.  Thank you for redeeming me.  Thank you for giving hope and eternal life.  I praise your name on this glorious day for what you have done.    I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

Enhanced by Zemanta
h1

THE LURKING BEAST OF A WEIGHED-DOWN HEART – April 19

April 19, 2014

“But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:34-36

 

20 on explore on Sunday, July 1, 2007There is a beast that roams my small acreage.

I have never seen its shape for it comes out only after I yield to sleep. Yet, the evidence of its presence confronts me at sunrise every morning. I walk into my field and shutter at the thought of an unwanted presence having recently crossed the very path of my footsteps.

I know what it hunts. I see the numerous holes it has dug in pursuit of its prey – gophers. I do not object to that pursuit. However, I wish that it would get its own. This beast has found that it is easier to steal from me. It has discovered that at the bottom of the fluttering location flags is a gopher trap that often, by the time of darkness, contains a dead gopher. It then absconds with the gopher and my trap. I have lost two traps to this beast.

I can tolerate the presence of this beast lurking in the darkness since we have a common nemesis – gophers. However, I know there is a danger that goes beyond the thief of traps and the annoyance of hole digging (this beast does not have the common courtesy of backfilling its holes).

English: Badger hole This large hole was in th...My concern is for my chickens. I know that it is just a matter of time before this beast finds that a roosting chicken is about as easy to catch as a trapped gopher – and much more satisfying. Therefore, this beast has become my enemy before I lose something I value more than a dead gopher.

I am not sure of my success. Therefore, I must stay vigilant to the unseen dangers.

IMAG0018There is a danger to our souls that lurks in the darkness. Our danger is that the day of judgment will come upon us unaware, when we do not expect it, and when we are not prepared for it. The danger is that we are called to meet our Lord, and He is the furthest thing from our hearts and low on the list of that which we love.

We are most vulnerable to this danger when we are unconscious to its presence. That is why we are encouraged to stay awake. We are to stay vigilant against the beast of a heart that is weighted down. We are to watch ourselves from becoming satiated with an inordinate pursuit of the good things of this world and an over-indulgence of the appetites of the body.

Many of us live in an amicable truce with the cares of the world. We fall asleep and allow the beast of our cravings to roam free because we consider them a normal course of our existence. We live with competing loves because it does not appear that they are having an effect upon our spiritual lives beyond an occasional thief of joy and the annoyance of our disrupted façade.

I believe that the danger of a weighed-down heart is far greater than we realize. A weighed-down heart is evidence of misplaced love. Misplaced loves have to be killed before they can burden our hearts, steal our fruitfulness, and even cause us to give up.

From my experience, I rarely get a clean shot at my misplaced loves. They grow in the hidden crevasses of the normal course of my life. I can become so accustomed to these cares, that I fall asleep to their danger.

I have to go to their lair and smoke them out.

There is only one way to smoke out misplaced love. It is by the work of the Spirit in our lives that affections are set upon God and God alone and misplaced love is killed. We have to come to the Spirit in pray and ask the Lord to examine our hearts for anything that we love more than Him. When we feel weighed down by the cares of this world, we must yield all to the Lord and set our eyes upon the things of the Spirit.

We mustn’t fall asleep to the danger. We must not accept a beast prowling in the darkness of our hearts as normal. The danger of a weighed-down heart is nothing to ignore.

PRAYER: Father, I do not want my love to be misplaced.  I do not want to love anything more than you.  Lord, examine my heart.  Show me where I am being weighed down by the cares of this world.  Show me the good things that I pursue more than you.  Show me where my appetites are out of control.  Help me give to you those loves that I have allowed to become too elevated.  Help me keep my eyes on you.  Help me stay awake to that which I am setting my mind upon.  Keep me in your steadfast love.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

Enhanced by Zemanta
h1

APPRECIATING THE PHENOMIAL – April 16

April 16, 2014

“As he was drawing near – already on the way down the Mount of Olives – the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”” Luke 19:37-38

 “Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself,
but talent instantly recognizes genius.” 
~ Arthur Conan Doyle

It is easy to become a critic in our culture of entertainment. Genius is streamed in from the far reaches of the world as critics assume their roles upon couches and in recliners before countless televisions.

We lament our team’s quarterback, who struggles to identify a safety blitz.
We cringe at the singer whose high note is a bit flat.
We cannot comprehend how a referee can miss a call.
We smirk at the actor who portrays the same character in every role.
We bemoan the sophomore slump which fails to live up to the standards of an artist’s debut.
We expect world class performances but often excellence is lost upon those being entertained.

Most of us live in the world of the mediocre. That fact is reflected by our application of the words genius and exceptional upon those who are typically neither. We apply those terms to acquaintances of our daily lives who are exceptional, in comparison to ourselves, but rarely are they world class. Our direct experience is rarely much higher than ourselves.

It is when we move from entertainment to participation that we begin to truly recognize and appreciate the truly phenomenal.

57536-largest_2012KonaTop15run4I was perusing the results of the 2013 Ironman 70.3 World Championship. Sebastian Kienle won the event with 1:19/100 meter swim pace, 25.81 mph bike pace, and a 5:42/mile run pace. Since I am participating in triathlons, I can compare my best to those times. I recognize just how crazy fast those times actually are. I can better appreciate Sebastian Kienle’s excellence unlike someone who is not swimming, bicycling, or running.

I wonder if this is the principle at play in many churches. Many professing Christians live their lives absent the awe for the excellence of Jesus Christ. Their faith resides in the tidy compartment of their balanced and structured existence but absent any real passion. In many ways, they have assumed the role of critic in a church culture of entertainment. Week in and week out, many churches press for little more than Sunday morning attendance. It should not be surprising that those who come for entertainment fail to appreciate the majesty of our God who redeems.

A dynamic faith requires participation. We cannot sit complacently in our pews of mediocrity knowing nothing higher than our experience and those around us.

When we are striving for obedience, the sinless nature of Christ becomes astounding.

When we try to love our neighbors, God loving a world by sacrificing His Son for us while we were yet sinners is beyond comprehension.

When we suffer, Christ’s acceptance of the cross when a legion of angels awaited His call is a marvel.

When we struggle to forgive, the total forgiveness and condemnation of our sin will boggle the mind.

When we are walking in the Spirit, the gifts of the fruit of the Spirit attest to the phenomenal goodness of a God who cares for His own.

Those who accompanied Jesus during the triumphant entry were eye-witnesses to the excellence of Christ. Based on their experience, they acknowledged the majesty of the King of kings. We can have that same experience but we have to have a faith that is participating with the Spirit. It is when we participate with the Spirit by setting our eyes on the things of the Spirit that we will begin to truly recognize and appreciate the phenomenal nature of the Son of God. It is then that the dynamic faith of a child of God will join in the praise, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

There is no better time to renew our awe in the majesty of the Cross than during Easter. May we join with our brothers and sisters of old in praise of our Savior, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

PRAYER: Father, forgive me of my often lackadaisical attitude to your majesty. Forgive me for not appreciating what you have done for me. Lord, renew a spirit of awe within my soul. Open my eyes to the phenomenal nature of your Son. Help my grateful heart put words to praise. Blessed is the King who has come in the name of the Lord and with return. Come quickly, my Lord; Come and establish here on earth the peace that is in heaven and glory that is in the highest. I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

Enhanced by Zemanta
h1

BAD LITTLE DONKEY – April 15

April 15, 2014

“But he said to him, “Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you.” Psalm 32:10

 Snort was a present for my wife that I bought at a 4-H fundraising auction. Before you reach the obvious conclusion that the gift of a miniature donkey makes me a hopeless romantic, I will confess to an ulterior motive. I bought Snort for one particular joke.  A joke that necessitated, Snort being my wife’s donkey.  While I and all the other 12 year olds out there might find my joke hilarious, the Devoted Life editor (my wife) felt that it might not be very appropriate.  This is probably one of those situations where it is good for a man to be married.  Suffice to say, my joke cost me $200 but I enjoyed it immensely.

000_2627However, my joke lost its appeal as it became more evident that Snort was my donkey. I would let Snort out of his corral and he would follow me around like a dog. If I dug a hole, Snort would put his head in it. If I was trimming shrubs, Snort would work his way between me and the bush. When I was petting the dog or cat, he would chase them away and rub up against me until I scratched between his ears.  He would even try to sit on my lap.

It had become obvious that Snort was my little donkey, which ruined my joke. However, it had also became obvious that Snort was a bad little donkey.

Snort had turned into an escape artist. He had learned how to open his pen, despite the measures we took. I would be standing by the kitchen window and suddenly a donkey would go prancing through our yard, nose stuck up into the sky in defiance. Snort was out…again.

Snort amused himself by nuzzling up against me while I was kneeling down to work or sitting in chair reading a book. He found great delight in nibbling my baseball cap and then running off with it. It was cute the first couple of times but then it got annoying as I was spending more and more time battling Snort for my hat.

000_2625However, Snort’s disobedience was becoming more than a simple annoyance. He was becoming a danger to himself and others. Once, he escaped from his corral and was able to get into our neighbor’s pasture with several mules. Those mules ran Snort relentlessly. My wife just happened to notice him in the pasture when she was driving home. By the time she got him out of the pasture, he was exhausted and bloodied, having been run into barbed wire fence in several areas.

On another occasion, he had gotten himself into the middle of our neighbor’s freshly planted wheat field. We called and called him but he refused to listen. Finally, my kids and I had to chase him across a corrugated field, stumbling and falling, as that nasty little donkey refused to go back home.

The worst manifestation of his defiance was the kick he had integrated into his prance of independence. He would run by with his nose in the air and give a little side-ways kick with his rear leg. Even though he was a little donkey, that kick could cause some real injury.

My joke had run its course; it was time to train Snort.

Since I had neither the time nor the knowledge, we gave Snort to a friend who had both. Snort’s world changed abruptly. He was disciplined and trained to go where his master directed him. He was forced to do tasks over and over again until he did them willingly. He was made into something more than a joke.

There are not very many useful things for a miniature donkey. Yet, Snort has been the star in several Christmas and Easter plays and has been the ambassador in a multitude of parades. He did all of those events with only a halter because he had been trained.

I wonder how many times I have been like an untrained Snort. A little donkey prancing around in defiance to my Master’s wishes; refusing to be led away from a destructive environment; being a danger to myself and those around me; being a joke.

God did not save us for his amusement. He did not send His own Son to redeem us for the purposes of a joke. He saved us for a purpose. The Westminster Shorter Catechism summarizes nicely the chief purpose of man; Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

The reality is that we have to be trained to this purpose. That will often require a bit and bridle to drive the rebellious Snort out of us. However, we have something that Snort does not have. We have the gift of understanding. Let’s use our understanding to cooperate with God’s purpose in our lives so that the bit and bridle are not necessary.

May we be like the horses in this video that come running when our Master cracks the whip.

PRAYER: Father, forgive me for too often living without the understanding  you have given me.  Thank you for those time when you have turned my rebellious head for my own good.  Lord, continue to train me in your righteousness; teach me how I can glorify you and enjoy you in all that I do. Sanctify my heart so that I will hear your voice and come with a cheerful heart, without the need for a bit or bridle.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

Enhanced by Zemanta
%d bloggers like this: