Monday Musings & Miscellany…on Tuesday

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Together with my mother and siblings.

Things have been a bit of a whirlwind of late, an unexpected trip to Mexico, a planned conference in Washington D.C. and then a very unexpected trip to Colorado to visit my mother who, at the age of 89, is having some serious health issues. It has been awhile since all of us (from left to right Bill, Suzy, and George) have all been together. The time was bitter sweet. Bitter, in having to make medical decisions for our mom, and sweet, in reflecting on the many years of memories. Where does time go?

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“I believe that one reason why the church of God at this present moment has so little influence over the world is because the world has so much influence over the church. The very church which the world likes best is sure to be that which God abhors.” Charles Spurgeon

How true and tragic this quote is. My heart’s desire is that my life and the lives of those whom I have the greatest influence over might seek to be the church that Jesus purchased with his blood rather than a church that the world is comfortable with. I believe, with all of my heart, that those who are lost and have come to the end of themselves, are truly looking for such a church, a hospital for weary souls.

VERSE FOR THE WEEK

Psalm 39:4–5 (ESV) — “O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah

What an amazing verse this is, at least to me and any person who has completely put their trust and faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. While visiting my mother I have been looking through a few photo albums reflecting on years past. The crazy thing about that is that I clearly remember certain events that took place close to 60 years ago, as if they happened just a few years ago.

This life is fleeting and can come to an end at any moment, when one least expects it. Just consider the people in Las Vegas who recently perished at the hand of a crazed gunman. Surely they never imagined an evening of country music could end in such tragedy. May we turn to the Lord to understand our end and the measure of our days, and may those days be carefully spent seeking to know him better so that in turn we might do good for others and bring him glory.

WHAT’S THE PURPOSE OF…THE CHURCH?

When we understand that the local church exists by God and for God, we see that God’s glory, not the needs of saved or unsaved people, is meant to be the ultimate determining factor for all the church does.”

There is so much confusion today over what church is supposed to be. Part of that confusion comes from our tendency to want a church that meets our needs versus what the purpose is supposed to be, what is was intended to be. This article by Tim Challies reminds us what church is supposed to be about.

6 TIPS FOR READING THE BIBLE WITH YOUR KIDS

“Why don’t we read the Bible one-on-one with our children? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to give our children that best of memories?”

Sure do wish I would have read these great tips for reading the Bible with our chidlren. If you struggle at all with the consistency of reading the Bible with your children, I would encourage you to take a few minutes and read this brief article…and then put it into practice for the next 6-8 weeks.

WHERE TO BRING YOUR BROKEN HEART

“In a world where sin infects and impacts all things, it is impossible for believers to make it through without hearts that break. But we have a God who is not silent at such times.”

Most all of us have been in a situation where someone we care about is experiencing great grief and we simply don’t know what to say. This is a wonderful article about grief and how people who are grieving can be encouraged.

 

Monday Musings & Miscellany…on Tuesday

Me, Hubert, Ivan and Nieves at the Lincoln Memorial

I have the great privilege this week of spending it in our nation’s capital with three of my favorite people; Ivan Ibbotson, senior past of The Chapel Salzburg, Austria, Hubert Krifter, one of Ivan’s elders, and my nephew Jose Nieves Vargas, who is the pastor of a new church plant in San Juanito, Chihuahua, Mexico.

We are here for a 9Marks Weekender Conference at Capital Hill Baptist Church. As you think about it, please pray for us as we seek the Lord and his heart for his church, purchased with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Pray for good and rested minds and bodies as the schedule for the week will be very packed.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“The best advice I can send, or the best wish I can form for you, is, that you may have an abiding and experimental sense of those words of the apostle, which are just now upon my mind, ‘Looking UNTO Jesus.’ (Heb. 12:2) The duty, the privilege, the safety, the unspeakable happiness, of a believer, are all comprised in that one sentence.” John Newton, Jewels from John Newton, August 21st

When I was younger, my father would give me advice and like so many young people, I foolishly didn’t listen. The hardest part of giving advice to people you love and care for is when they ignore it, especially when you know how sound the advice is. I wholeheartedly concur that “Looking unto Jesus,” is the absolute best advice we could every give anyone. It is an expression of the Gospel in it’s simplest form. When we quit looking to ourselves and begin to look unto Jesus, everything simply makes sense.

VERSE FOR THE WEEK

1 Corinthians 15:10 (ESV) — But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.

How easy it can be to question why it is that God made you the way that he did. I find that I can do this far too often. Oh, I don’t outwardly shake my fist at God like a frustrated child who doesn’t get his way. But, I can subtly begin to think of the “what ifs” in my life, what if I could do this or that, what if I was smarter, more creative, and the list goes on.

We can take comfort from this verse. It is by God’s grace that we are who we are. And like the admonition from Romans 9:20 we must never presume to think beyond the piece of clay we are and suggest God should have formed something different, let alone demand it. Rather, we should take the time to be thankful, and reflect on what God has made us to be and then seek to live out lives for his glory and the good of others. For it is in this that we will find the greatest satisfaction.

IN AWE OF HER GOD

“As a quadriplegic, I wake up in the morning and it’s hard. It is so hard having somebody else come into your bedroom [to brush your teeth and your hair]. It’s overwhelming at times. During those times, I say, ‘Lord God, I cannot do this, but I can do all things through you as you strengthen me.”

It has been fifty years since the diving accident that left Joni Eareckson Tada with quadriplegia. Fifty years of relying on others to meet her physical needs. Fifty years of pressing on in the midst of weakness, fatigue, and pain. Fifty years of trusting God to provide.

Tada exemplifies an enviable trust in the sovereignty of God who works all things for good, even when his working makes absolutely no sense to the human psyche. It is one thing to trust the Lord with the loss of a job, with a reasonable assurance that there is another one on the horizon, but how about 50 years of absolute dependency on others for practically everything we take for granted. An inspiring article to read.

HOW CAN YOUR CHURCH LOVE TRANSGENDER PEOPLE

If you don’t know much about gender-identity issues and don’t know what it’s like to struggle with them, learn to listen. If someone says, “You don’t understand,” rather than telling them they’re wrong, answer, “Very possibly not. Please tell me.”

Like it or not, agree with it or not, wish it would go away or not, the cultural shift towards a person being able to decide what gender they are going to be is here to stay and most likely not going to go away until the Lord returns. So, with that said, as Bible believing born again Christians, what should our response be?

It seems that we are always swinging from one side of the pendulum to the other often times with good intentions to extend the grace of God and the love of God to the sinner in the hopes of leading them to the gospel truth. Unfortunately, all too often, we tend to keep loving and loving and loving, and never see a change. Why is that? Because we never get to the truth.

This article is a great start in understanding how to gracefully love without compromise.

NASHVILLE STATEMENT

This secular spirit of our age presents a great challenge to the Christian church. Will the church of the Lord Jesus Christ lose her biblical conviction, clarity, and courage, and blend into the spirit of the age? Or will she hold fast to the word of life, draw courage from Jesus, and unashamedly proclaim his way as the way of life?

This is a hot topic because it threatens the very core of what every Christian should stand on, the biblical truth of God’s word and his plan to rescue mankind from certain eternal destruction as a result of a rejection of his truths and a desire to redefine it. I intentionally posted the previous article How Can Your Church Love Transgender People because of how important it is to accurately represent the love of Christ in the changing times in which we live. We must be led by the Holy Spirit as we seek to love unconditionally, without ever compromising the truth.

While I had not read the Nashville Statement prior to this writing, I know enough about it to say that it is stirring much debate, pro and con, even among professing Christians. As you carefully and prayerfully read it, you will understand why. It is important that we know God’s word well enough to be able to stand strong in the Christian faith.

 

Monday Musings & Miscellany…on Tuesday

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This poster caught my attention while I was waiting at the drive-up for my order from Jack in the Box. I won’t tell you what I was ordering. As I think about how “un-appetizing” these items are and the clever (or not so clever) names, I cannot help but chuckle and realize why we have so many health issues in our country.

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It reminded me of the time I saw a poster outside of a 7/11 advertising “Loaded Doritos.” Loaded with what, you might ask, loaded with cheese, 100% pure cheese I am sure.

QUOTE FOR THE WEEK

“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” – Mark Twain

This is one of my favorite quotes about youthful pride and ignorance. If you are humble enough to admit it, you realize how very right Twain was. Unfortunately this realization often doesn’t take place until you have a 14 year old of your own.

I recently started watching a Ken Burns’s documentary on Mark Twain. If you know anything about Mark Twain you know what a fascinating individual he was. He was considered by many to be one of the greatest writers of all time. If you have Amazon Prime, I would recommend it.

VERSE FOR THE WEEK

1 Corinthians 6:19–20 (ESV) — Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Don’t you love it when you get your own way? I sure do! The only problem is that most often, when I get my own way, it leads me to wanting it all the more. Inevitably I find that it leads to a certain level of discontentment. Could it be that this is because from the moment I became a Christian I was called to put my wants and my desires aside in order that I might more effectively serve Christ. Most certainly!

I love this verse as well as Acts 20:28 which reminds me that I have been purchased through the precious blood of Christ. My heart pauses every time I read of such a wonderful truth. Why is that? Because I am so aware of my desire to own myself and to do things the way that I want to do them. When I do what I want to do, it doesn’t go very well. It seems that the more often I fully surrender to this truth the better things are.

HOW TO AVOID FOCUS-STEALING TRAPS

Even for people who consider themselves good at focusing, the technology age presents a challenge. Never before have so many devices, cell phone alerts, social media platforms, advertisers, and tasks been competing for our attention. So, we could all probably use a little help getting focused.

The older I get the more trouble I have staying focused. This article caught my attention amidst all of the distractions that vie for my attention. It was a good read and a good reminder of how to do a better job of staying focused.

As a side note, I was distracted during the writing of this by well intended family members telling me I need to drink more water. After a few sarcastic comments about why I don’t I searched for the connection to water intake and focus. By the sounds of the article Water and Brain Function: How to Improve Memory and Focus, it looks like I’ll be drinking more water.

THE ART OF PARENTING

Being a parent can be a great reward . . . and a great challenge! In a compilation of 20 short videos, Alistair Begg shares wise counsel on a variety of topics pertaining to parenting, including why discipline matters, the importance of praying for our children, how to raise God-honoring children, and much more. Gain a wealth of practical insights that you can readily apply in your home.

I would encourage you to watch these 20 short videos, snippets of Alistair Begg’s thoughts on parenting. It will take you less than 15 minutes and well worth it. You can listen to Begg’s Parental Priorities: God’s Design for the Family here.

Oh how I wish I would have had a resource like this when I started parenting over 40 years ago. As for raising children to be responsible citizens, by God’s grace, I was very successful. Unfortunately, raising them in the biblical truth’s of the Lord, not near to what I would have liked.

I would encourage you to take advantage of a resource such as this. Time passes far too quickly and before you know it your children are grown and raising children of their own.