Friday, October 31, 2008

Unchanged...

Great song...
Margaret Becker - Unchanged.

Even better scripture...

Hebrews 1:10 And, “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; 11 they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, 12 like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end.”

God, I find such comfort in this truth. You are forever unchanged. Thank you.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sometimes It's Best not to Listen

It's easy to be hard on the gossiper for their loose tongue. But the gossip would be stopped real quick if no one would listen...

Proverbs 26:20 For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.


Lord, forgive me when I keep the fire going.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Land of Images

I know Jeremiah wasn't talking about the good ole US of A, but this phrase still strikes of America to me...

Jeremiah 50:38b For it is a land of images,and they are mad over idols.


The psalmist also has something to say about this...

Psalm 97:7 All worshipers of images are put to shame,who make their boast in worthless idols;worship him, all you gods!

It's amazing how often this happens with this Bible reading program - something from an entirely different passage just fits with how God is speaking in the first passage.

The Violent God...

Something about this verse struck home with me...

Jeremiah 48:10 “Cursed is he who does the work of the Lord with slackness, and cursed is he who keeps back his sword from bloodshed.

The context for this verse is the fury of God's wrath being poured out on Moab for their wickedness. The sword of God's vengeance is being delivered, and cursed is the one who refuses to deliver it.

This verse reminds me that I serve a holy God. He doesn't just demand a good effort. He demands my heart and soul for His kingdom.

Lord, please help me to be disciplined and effective in my work for the Kingdom. But most of all, let my heart be full of passion as I fight in this spiritual war.

Making the Most of Your Meeting

I'm really proud to work with the guys on the Illinois Mission Board. We're pretty far spread out. One member of our board is from Chicago, one from over by St. Louis, and the others in between. It's not easy for us to meet face to face, and it's not cheap either.

But today the guys on the Board took a shot at using Skype for a conference call. The call clarity wasn't bad for the most part. It's not the same as a face to face meeting, but it has a big upside...

1. We saved a ton of time. For most of us meeting face to face means about 4-5 hours in traveling time.

2. We saved money. A normal meeting often costs over $500 in mileage and expenses. The Skype teleconference was free so we saved the mileage expense and we weren't out any money for the call either.

I'm sure that we'll still meet face to face as needed, but this looks like a pretty good solution for meeting and saving some money and some minutes.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sometimes We're Just Stupid.

Why do we forget that God is watching, both for love and for rebuke?

Psalm 94:8 Understand, O dullest of the people! Fools, when will you be wise? 9 He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see? 10 He who disciplines the nations, does he not rebuke? He who teaches man knowledge—11 the Lord—knows the thoughts of man, that they are but a breath.

If God made the eye, don't you think he can see you? If God built your eardrum, don't you think he can hear you? There really is nothing hidden from the Lord.

Lord, help me to live mindful of the truth that you know everything in my heart.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday is for Photos - Fall Color

Fall Color
(Click on the image to see a higher resolution picture)


I enjoy fall colors. This picture has tons of different colors in it, and yet somehow it all seems to go together.

Teaching or Training?

My brother said something to me during our last visit to Grandma's house that stuck with me.

"Is your church teaching believers or training them?"

Are we just doing classroom work, or do we have "labs" too? We need a lot more apprentices and journeymen (and women) in the church. Instead we have a lot of people "stuck in the warehouse."

The warehouse idea comes from a great read from Ed Stetzer called Simply Missional. This is not a short blog post, but it expresses so well how the church should be in the world. I would encourage anyone who is interested in being the church instead of going to church to check it out.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Don't Waste Your Life.

Psalm 89:46 How long, O Lord? Will you hide yourself forever? How long will your wrath burn like fire? 47 Remember how short my time is! For what vanity you have created all the children of man! 48 What man can live and never see death? Who can deliver his soul from the power of Sheol? Selah

Lord, time is short. Draw me close and use me.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Besides Voting, What are You doing about Abortion?

It is my guess that most people abhor abortion, but perhaps some see it as some sort of necessary evil. I see it as unecessary evil. But with all the rhetoric flying around these past few weeks about abortion and Obama, I'm wondering - what am I really doing to help bring an end to abortion?



Some may say that it is futile thinking to try and "end" abortion. Some probably said the same thing about slavery. But I'm glad that great people took a stand to end slavery and I hope some day that abortion will be ended through the efforts of other great saints.


Abortion is so awful, so despicable, so abhorrent that I have to think it will, indeed, be abolished some day. It is my hope and even my conviction that we will someday regard it as we now regard slavery. We will shake our heads and wonder how we could ever have lived in such a society. Children will learn in school of society's ambivalence to so great an evil and express proper shock and disgust. And I hope and pray that Christians will lead this fight and ascribe all glory to God when the battle is finally won. -- Challies



So what can we do besides push a button or fill in a square on voting days? To me, that's not much. Here's some ideas - I'd love for you to add your own.

1. Pray. (Lord help me here, keep this on my heart and mind. Forgive me for not praying enough about this problem.)


2. Help single moms in your circle of influence. If I understand correctly the stats are showing that abortions are actually going down in the teenage years, but up in other ages. We need to love those who are in need.

3. Help your local pregnancy care center. I can't say enough about this one. These folks are doing so much good on this issue. They need are support however we can give it. Money, baby supplies, counselors, techs, and most of all prayer, we need to resource these people.

4. Show others the value of life. I'm not a big movie watcher, but if you haven't seen Bella you really should. I think it is one of the best examples of how to speak into someone's life about a controversial topic without dragging out the bullhorn. (If you don't understand the bullhorn, let me know and I'll do a post on that.) Whether it's our kids or our co-workers we need to be encouraging everyone about the value of life and about how not to waste it.


5. Consider Adoption. If we say, "What about adoption?" to mothers who are considering abortion, we need to ask ourselves them same question. I know it's not right for everyone, but have we really considered this? I know many of you have considered and have adopted. You are special people in my book!


What else would you add?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Good Days Ahead...

I'm enjoying the Lord's guiding hand now, but I also greatly anticipate what is ahead...

Jeremiah 32:37 Behold, I will gather them from all the countries to which I drove them in my anger and my wrath and in great indignation. I will bring them back to this place, and I will make them dwell in safety. 38 And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. 39 I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them. 40 I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. 41 I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul.

Lord, thank you for making a way to this glorious day.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Just Making Memories or Ear Piercing--The Hard Way.

I always wondered what it felt like to have your ear pierced, but no longer do I wonder...

This weekend Grandpa Penn came down to take the guys fishing. We got up early and headed out to the lake in the Jon Boat. We really had a great day catching fish and just spending time together.

The weather was great - this was the first good cold fall weekend. The leaves were turning and there was a mist on the water. (That's a picture of Old Kinmundy Lake.)

My son started us off with a nice catch. It was also a lot of fun to see the Largemouth hit Grandpa's frog lure on the top of the water. I even had a lot of fun setting the hook on some Largemouth myself. But later in the afternoon, someone set the hook on me!

That's right - one of my fishing buddies was making a cast and on their back swing caught a hold of my right ear with an Eagle Claw Lazer Sharp Wide Gap Worm Hook. And yes, the way you are cringing right now is exactly how it feels!

At first it felt like someone just slapped me really hard across the right side of my face, but then I quickly realized that something else was attached to my previously undisturbed lobe. Not only that, but about 5 seconds after I realized what had happened, I thought I had a fish on my own pole. At least this time I can claim the "big one got away" because of my new instant piercing.

Grandpa examined his patient and the barb was only partially through my lobe.
You don't pull a barb back out the way it went in without ripping flesh. Instead it must go through - and it wasn't quite through yet. Grandpa cut off the back end of the hook to see if he could push it through. I don't know if he just has a soft heart or if maybe my grimace kept him from pulling the barb through with the red plyers, but he decided against pulling it through himself.

Now my frustration level really started rising. I knew this meant we had to end our fishing day and I would have to go and wait in an E.R. room for probably a few hours. We headed in to the boat dock and just as I got out of the boat my wife called. All I heard from her was laughing. Of course, it really is pretty funny - unless your the one with a new red worm hook hanging from your lobe.

I finally made it to the hospital after we took the boat home and waited - for about 2 hrs. The doctor gave me a shot to numb the ear, and then shoved the hook the rest of the way through and now I have a hole in my ear.


On days like these I'm reminded of one of my Mom's favorite phrases...
"We're just makin' memories."

Friday, October 17, 2008

Amen.

1 Timothy 1:17 To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever.

Amen.

Letting Go of God's Promise...

You better check me on this one, but the more I think about it, the more it interests me. Sometimes we need to let go of God's previous blessings. Hananiah has prophesied that in two years, God will break the back of Nebuchadnezzar and set His people free from the King's bondage. Hananiah symbolically breaks a wooden yoke that was on Jeremiah's back. But unfortunately Hananiah was not a true prophet...

12 Sometime after the prophet Hananiah had broken the yoke-bars from off the neck of Jeremiah the prophet, the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 13 “Go, tell Hananiah, ‘Thus says the Lord: You have broken wooden bars, but you have made in their place bars of iron. 14 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: I have put upon the neck of all these nations an iron yoke to serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and they shall serve him, for I have given to him even the beasts of the field.’”

Many would suffer who listened to Hananiah's words, instead of the true word from God in Jeremiah. They would be punished for their false hope in God's previous promise. I know that God had promised blessings and cursings, and in this destruction God was honoring those promises, but think of it from the guy on the street perspective.

One preacher is saying, "God will free us from our oppressor. Don't leave this land of promise no matter what the reason. God has great plans for us even still. He will deliver very soon."

The other preacher is saying "God is punishing you for your sins. You need to leave the land of promise and be faithful to me in a foreign land. I will bring you again someday, but for now you need to let go."

Which preacher would you listen to? Can you imagine what modern day America would do to Jeremiah? How dare you say this is God's punishment upon us! God gave us this land, why would he take it away?

(Of course the catch was, Jeremiah prophesied that the other prophet would die in a year - and he did! kinda makes you want to believe him.)

Well here's the rest of the story...
15 “Because you have said, ‘The Lord has raised up prophets for us in Babylon,’ 16 thus says the Lord concerning the king who sits on the throne of David, and concerning all the people who dwell in this city, your kinsmen who did not go out with you into exile: 17 ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, behold, I am sending on them sword, famine, and pestilence, and I will make them like vile figs that are so rotten they cannot be eaten. 18 I will pursue them with sword, famine, and pestilence, and will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse, a terror, a hissing, and a reproach among all the nations where I have driven them, 19 because they did not pay attention to my words, declares the Lord, that I persistently sent to you by my servants the prophets, but you would not listen, declares the Lord.’


Have you ever had to let go of God's promise because of your sin or someone else's sin?

Tough stuff.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Not My Words...

From today's reading...
Jeremiah 23:21 “I did not send the prophets, yet they ran; I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied. 22 But if they had stood in my council, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people, and they would have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their deeds.

Lord, I'm tired of my words. Let me stand in Your council. Give me Your words. Turn me from my evil ways. Let me help your people turn from their evil ways.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Strike the Match

Whenever I read this passage I think of my buddy David, and the way that he felt this verse expressed his desire to preach...

Jeremiah 20:9 If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.


Lord, strike the match in my heart - set a fire in my bones to speak Your words.

Help Me Please!

This has been driving me crazy and I can't stand to keep quiet about it anymore. Maybe I'm just missing something here, but why do "Christians" on the web use the phrase "OMG?"

If I understand this correctly OMG stands for "Oh My God!" - is this correct? If this is correct why do believers use this text? I know that taking the name of the Lord in vain goes way beyond just using his name as a profanity or vanity, but it does include those things as well doesn't it?

Have I lost it? Am I just way out of touch or something?

Tonight I was reading the comments for a Jeremy Camp song, and the first commenter used this text to lead off their praise of his album.

I just don't get it. You don't think enough of God to carefully use His name, but you love "Christian" music?

I've seen this from different youth pastors and youth workers as they share their excitement about something they are posting. Again, I don't mean to bring down wrath on anyone - I need all the grace I can get - but somehow this just doesn't click with me. If I'm missing something or if it stands for something else, please let me know. But if not, please help me teach believers to respect God's name - even if it means avoiding this TLA (Three Letter Acronym) on the web.

Thank you.

Does Your Life Make Jesus Look Beautiful?

We've just entered week 2 of our series "Don't Waste Your Life." I think it is already connecting well. One of the questions we are asking is "What makes Jesus look beautiful?"

Another way to think about this is to ask yourself who in your life loves Christ and how can you tell? Sunday morning I was reminded that what our community needs to see is a church that is really in love with Jesus and one that loves the people that He loves.

Sunday Night we followed this up with a concert of prayer and the Lord continued to cement this type of thinking in our hearts. Please keep praying for this series.

We are hoping to have a special speaker this Sunday, but she has really been battling her health. Please pray with us that if it is the Lord's will she will be able to come this Sunday.

Friday, October 10, 2008

No Earthquakes Yet...

Sometimes it is easy for me to play the blame game along with everyone else. And it is even easier to go into "Eeyore" mode.

"It's snowing still," said Eeyore gloomily. "So it is." "And freezing." "Is it?" "Yes," said Eeyore. "However," he said, brightening up a little, "we haven't had an earthquake lately." -- Winnie the Pooh

But today's reading brings real hope in the midst of despair.

Jeremiah 14:22b Are you not he, O Lord our God?We set our hope on you, for you do all these things.

"All these things" are not just wonderful beautiful things, but they are terrible and difficult things. The Lord is punishing his people. But at least in this instance his people are responding as they should. They are setting their hope in God, because He alone is Lord and our God.

Lord, help us in the midst of economic chaos to set our hope in You.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

We Need More Red Faces...

How can you tell when someone has no shame? They forget how to blush.

From Webster:
Main Entry: 2blush
Function:intransitive verb
Etymology:Middle English blusshen, from Old English blyscan to redden; akin to Old English blysa flame, Old High German bluhhen to burn brightly
Date:15th century
1 : to become red in the face especially from shame, modesty, or confusion
2
: to feel shame or embarrassment


Jeremiah 8:12 Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed; they did not know how to blush.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Struggling to Lead

This past month has been harder than usual on me for some reason. I'm seeing more now than ever the need to develop leaders and to equip the members instead of being the "professional" minster. But it seems to be harder and harder to accomplish this task. Even this past Sunday I was reminded of my inadequacy, but also of the power of God's word and His truth.

This passage from Colossians really connected with me tonight...

Colossians 1:28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.


Lord, help me to toil and struggle with Your energy to present Your church, mature.

Monday, October 06, 2008

A Nation Such as This

I know that America and Israel are not the same, but somehow as I read this passage tonight, I couldn't help but wonder if we are guilty of the same sins, and if we shouldn't expect some of the same punishment.

Jeremiah 5:7 “How can I pardon you? Your children have forsaken me and have sworn by those who are no gods. When I fed them to the full, they committed adultery and trooped to the houses of whores. 8 They were well-fed, lusty stallions, each neighing for his neighbor's wife. 9 Shall I not punish them for these things? declares the Lord; and shall I not avenge myself on a nation such as this?

25
Your iniquities have turned these away, and your sins have kept good from you. 26 For wicked men are found among my people; they lurk like fowlers lying in wait. They set a trap; they catch men. 27 Like a cage full of birds, their houses are full of deceit; therefore they have become great and rich; 28 they have grown fat and sleek. They know no bounds in deeds of evil; they judge not with justice the cause of the fatherless, to make it prosper, and they do not defend the rights of the needy. 29 Shall I not punish them for these things? declares the Lord, and shall I not avenge myself on a nation such as this?”