Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Supplementing with moral excellence

As I was reading from 2 Peter 1:1-10 this morning these words caught my attention in the 3rd-8th verses of The Message paraphrase:

3 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. 4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

5 In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

8 The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

There's always been this tension for me between who the Word says that I am in Christ and who I see myself being in daily life. That same tension is here again; verse 3 says that I've been given everything I need to live a godly life. But you have just to ask my teen sons to hear how I'm not always loving, patient, and living for everyone's else's best - sometimes I'm selfish. But what caught my attention about this passage is that there's a connection between what I've been given in verse 3 to how it gets played out in my life - verses 5-7. It talks about responding to this truth by supplementing my faith with some actions. There's so much here in these verses that I'm going to need to be thinking on them for the next few days.

Today I'm starting at the beginning of that list with the middle section of verse 5:

Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence

So what's moral excellence? How do we supplement our faith with it? I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on this.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Does He really mean ALL things?

This week over Kingdom Bloggers we're talking how God uses ALL things, our own sin included, to work together for our good.

What about you, how have you seen God use even your sin to ultimately bring good into your life?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Can you be uncompromising AND loving?

Seems like I've always struggled as I try to figure out the how of loving people, but not compromising concerning sin. This morning as I read 1 I Kings 18 I thought about this again.

During this time in Israel's history, the climate was to be "open minded". The king's wife set up worship places for both Baal and Asherah. As I seek to read between the lines in I Kings 15-18, it seems like the people are trying to make life work. I Kings 18:21 records that the people were silent when Elijah challenged them about who they believed in. It was as if they were trying to assume the mediocre stance of non commitment. While it could be easy to say how wrong they were; I can also see how easy it would be to fall into that, to just want to get along.

Sometimes I struggle with the same thing. When the media, people with whom I work, everywhere around me, is pointing out how intolerant and unloving Christians are. When these same sources are indicating that things that God clearly says are sin the Bible are just "choices" and that everyone is entitled to their own choices. In this climate I struggle. I struggle to find ways to show my love for people without compromising my own knowledge and beliefs about what is right and wrong.

I try to do this by not getting caught up in debates with unbelievers about moral issues; since they do not see the Bible as truth any way. At the same time, I do not change my own beliefs and if push comes to shove I will state my own thoughts (but I've found that frequently people are much more interested in sharing their own thoughts than listening to mine). I try to let God give me His love for people and look for opportunities to reach out to the people around me. Life is tough and people hurt; I try to notice what's going on with people and offer support and encouragement in both words and thoughtful actions. that enough?

What about you, do you struggle with being loving and not compromising the truth? What are some things that you've found helpful?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Why are we at war in Libya?

Remember how President George W Bush was crucified by the left during a 9 month debate over the war in Iraq?

Well, what's the left saying now that President Obama approved the launch of Tomahawk missiles effectively engaging us in a Libyan civil war? This decision came with no debate in Congress and one UN Resolution that was only voted on 48 hours before.

While I understand the concept that America believes that we have a moral obligation to stand with those who seek freedom from oppression and who seek self-government for their people. I understand that it's terrible that Qadhafi attacks his own people. But why are we standing up with these specific people and not others around the globe with similar plights? If you're looking at any kind of humanitarian scale so to speak, Libya is small compared to Rwanda. If you're looking at our interests, Libya only represents about 2% of the world's oil. Also, there's plenty of historical information out there to suggest that intervention in a civil war only prolongs the conflict.

I agree with columnist George F. Will's comment when speaking on ABC's This Week:

“It is not worth war,” Will said, arguing that the U.S. should not become entangled in “tribal” conflicts. “We have taken sides in that civil war on behalf of people we do not know or understand, for the purpose — not avowed, but inexorably our purpose — of creating a political vacuum by decapitating the government. Into that vacuum, what will flow we do not know and cannot know.”

So why are we in Libya? Also, there are the basic questions as to what is our strategy here, our specific goals? How will the military know when they are finished in Libya?

In a three-minute statement to the media on Saturday after the first cruise missiles were launched, President Obama noted 6 times the international support for the use of force, saying the attack on Libya was an "international effort" and that the U.S. was acting with a "broad coalition" that included European and Arab partners. My concern is that, while I understand why France would want to become involved, I don't understand our involvement. For Europe it is about mass migration. They have a direct interest here that they have to protect. But just because it serves Europe's needs to be involved, does not make it good policy for America.

What are your thoughts on America becoming involved in Libya's civil war?

I don’t have to defend myself

Today as I read 1 Kings 17:17-24 I was inspired by the actions of Elijah.

If you remember, this is the account where he had been living in Zarephath with a widow and her son. In 1 Kings 17:8-16 is the account of how he came to live with them. The account of how, in a time of drought and famine, God made this widow’s oil and flour never run out so that she could continue to feed the three of them. But then in these next verses the woman’s son becomes sick and dies.

In her grief and despair at her son’s death, the woman does as people are apt to do – she lashes out at those around her. In this case, that was Elijah. What inspired me though was Elijah’s response. What was conspicuously absent was self defense. I’ve got to tell you that when I’m attacked by someone, the first thing that I want to do is to explain myself, defend my actions. But Elijah didn’t; he was moved by her pain and went to God to intercede for her. He was more concerned about her grief than himself.

That I would be the same way.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Battlefield of the Mind

This week over Kingdom Bloggers we've been talking about spiritual warfare. I talked specifically about the Battlefield of the Mind.

What have been your experiences with spiritual warfare?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Is Americal Exceptional?

If you’ve read more than three things I’ve written, you’ve probably noticed that I’m frequently delighted by words. Periodically something in the Bible, or a book, or that someone said, will really grab my attention and captivate my thoughts and emotions. Such was the case today when I read a quote from Shimon Peres. Peres is Israel’s former prime minister and current president. A couple of years ago someone had asked Shimon Peres what he thought of America’s ongoing conflict in Iraq and here was his response:

“First I must put something in context,” he began. “America is unique in the history of the world. In the history of the world, whenever there has been war, the nation that is victorious has taken land from the nation that has been defeated – land has always been the basis of wealth on our planet. Only one nation in history, and this during the last century, was willing to lay down hundreds of thousands of lives and take no land in its victory – no land from Germany, no land from Japan. America. America is unique in the history of the world for its willingness to sacrifice so many of its precious sons and daughters for liberty, not solely for itself but also for its friends.”

I adore this statement because I actually believe in what President Obama has referred to as “American exceptionalism” (only in his references, this is not seen as something good). Of course I don’t think that America is the only nation with anything good to offer, but I do believe in the historic American fundamental principles of economic and political freedom. I grow weary of the attitude I keep hearing that America is just one nation among many. I am saddened by the fact that not too long ago our own commander in chief president Obama went on what has since been referred to as “Obama’s American Apology Tour”. I’ve been disappointed in recent years to see us not honor our commitment to our allies, and watch as our own president has been praised by the likes of such as Hugo Chavez and Mummar Quaddafi.

Am I alone in these thoughts?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The value of the Hidden Life

This morning I read from Kings 17:1-7.

So off and on today I’ve been thinking about the time Elijah spent at Cherith.

I don’t know about you, but I think that I might get frustrated by the whole Cherith experience. It was a time in history when Israel was filled with wickedness; there had been one bad king after another. Then Elijah comes along, a guy who doesn’t appear to have much of a pedigree (but whose name means “my God is Yahweh”) and he tells the evil king (who has an even more evil wife) that there is one God who is supreme, the God of Israel, and that this God will cause there to be no rain if Elijah but says the word. Then God directs Elijah to go to Cherith. At Cherith God provides food for Elijah’s needs via ravens bringing it to him, and water for him because there’s a stream there. The supernatural provision part is way cool, but I think I’d get bored after awhile. A more spiritual person might say that it was just him and God and how awesome that was; but I think I’d get bored.

Charles Swindoll, in his book about Elijah, brings out the point that Cherith was a time of being hidden. In his book he talks about how “we must be as willing to be hidden as to be out front”. Swindoll also quotes EB Meyer who said “the value of the hidden life…Every saintly soul that would wield great power with people must win it in some hidden Cherith. We cannot give out unless we have previously taken in.”

Elijah’s time at Cherith really speaks to me because of what I’ve been going through over the past several months. I’ve already talked enough here about my job loss and subsequent trials, that even I’m sick of hearing about it! Not only are there my own experiences, but I’ve had several dear ones, friends and acquaintances, who have been experiencing being “hidden” lately. People who have prepared, participated, worked, and now are having experiences that seem to put them on hold. Some of the experiences I’ve observed are: A few people I care about share how they have been diligent to prepare for ministry and then it seems that no ministry doors are opening for them. A friend who has been a wonderful children’s pastor at a church for more than 10 years was just fired. A young man whose heart has been set on being an Army Ranger and who’d worked hard for years to get to that point, recently failed the program. Maybe I’ve seen so much of this lately because the truth of life is that a time for seeming to be put on hold comes to us all.

When I’m in a Cherith time in my life, it’s easy to feel useless. But the Holy Spirit encouraged me that God uses these experiences, and this time away, to shape me for the next step in His plan.

What about you, have you experienced being “hidden” lately? How’s God used this time in your life?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Who are you hoping to see?

I'd be interested to know who you'd like to see as the next Republican presidential candidate.

I don't know who I want.

I did order Mitt Romney's book No Apology: The Case for American Greatness through my local library. I've heard that this book crystallizes Romney's thinking about running for president, so I figure reading that will give me better insight into this candidate.

But what about you, who are you hoping to see on the GOPs ticket in 2012?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What's next?

This week over Kingdom Bloggers we're talking about what we believe God's got next in store for us, our personal destiny.

What about you, what do you believe God's got next for you?
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