Musings & Miscellany

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“Bye, By Birdie” at the Riviera Hotel, Las Vegas, 1963 (from left to right: Me, George (some lady who thought she should be in the picture, our father José, and our stepmother Marlene)

Life has seemed, or always seems, a bit of a whirlwind of late. Been trying to post this Musings since being back from visiting my mother in Colorado. I always love visiting Colorado for a number of reason, obviously surrounding my family. Apart from my mother, the one I have had the blessing of enjoying the longest is my brother George. He turned 70 years old this year. As I watched him, I realized, yet again, how very fast time passes and how we must make the best of it. In many respects, I feel very young, until I look in the mirror.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“We are better to be without God’s laws than the Pope…I defy the Pope and all his laws.  If God spare my life ere many years, I will cause the boy who drives the plow to know more of the Scriptures than you.” William Tyndale

October 6th marked the anniversary of William Tyndale’s martyrdom. Tyndale was a confident, bold, and fearless theologian and scholar who translated the Bible into an early form of Modern English, likely with Luther’s help in Wittenberg. It is so easy to take for granted the men and women who gave their lives for the preservation of God’s word.

If you want to learn more about this amazing man, you can check out out a blog post Jenny wrote on Tyndale. It is really good.

VERSE FOR THE WEEK

Isaiah 26:3–4 (ESV) — You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.

I am appreciating the value of reading and meditating on God’s word more than ever. At the same time I am greatly convicted of how little of it I do. I want to read more and yet I find so much busyness in my life that I fall short. I am determined to not let it be so. There are such wonderful things that come about, when we read and meditate on the Word of God, it keeps our minds “stayed on him,” and when our minds are fixed on the Lord, we find great peace.

THE ALTAR OF AGE

“A warmer breeze fans the sailor’s face as he nears the shore of immortality; fewer waves ruffle his sea; quiet reigns, deep, still and solemn. From the altar of age the flashes of the fire of youth are gone, but the deepening flame of sincere feeling remains.”

I wish I would have considered the brevity of life while I was younger. I might have spent it differently, rearranged my priorities, and took more time to consider the things that really matter. It is never too late to start doing that.

THE OLE’ BALL AND CHAIN

“Is there any way in which she (wife) holds me back? Only in the sense in which that’s what marriage is about, tying yourself to someone saying, ‘I’m going to live in a way that serves you, I’m going to live in a way that honors you, I’m going to let go of some of my preferences, I’m not going to make some of the choices I would rather make, because I love you.”

As you know, Tim Challies is featured in my Musings and Miscellany (formerly Monday Musings & Miscellany 🙂 I subscribe to his blog and recently through this video found out that he is no longer able to type due to a medical condition in his wrists. So, rather than slip into a funk, he posted a video which I really enjoyed watching, and was both challenged and encouraged.

Challies speaks of an encounter he had with a salesperson at the camera store where he purchased some equipment to make these videos and when interrupted by a call from his wife, the salesperson made a comment in reference to his “wife calling” referring to her as “The Ole Ball and Chain.” I absolutely love what Challies has to say and wholeheartedly agree. I was so encouraged by what he said and thankful for Jenny. I realize that some may not see their spouse in this way, to which I would suggest taking some time for some personal reflection to see what you might be doing to cause her to be any less than a support and an encouragement to you. I know that when I begin to think of Jenny being an obstacle to anything I do, it is generally because I have a wrong sense of the reason God created marriage in the first place. The sooner I repent, the sooner I get to that good place of appreciating her for the gift she is.

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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.