25 September 2016

23 September 2016

This 'n' That

To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. For,
The one who desires life, to love and see good days,
Must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit.
He must turn away from evil and do good;
He must seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous,
And His ears attend to their prayer,
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.
Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.
(1 Peter 3:8-17) 
These are words to live by, friends. Why would we consider them anything less? They are, after all, the very words of God.

Keep a clear conscience. Honor Christ in all things. Do not be dismayed by earthly troubles. If you are a Christian, your future hope far surpasses the tainted glories of this passing age.

Still, that does not mean that we should neglect the happenings of the world, which is why I'm happy to share with you your week in review (kind of):

16 September 2016

This 'n' That

What could be more dreary than sitting for unknown endless hours in the emergency room? Sitting in the emergency room a few seats down from a woman who seems to think that we would all enjoy hearing the soundtrack of the game she is playing on her smartphone. You see, that element adds annoyance to the dreariness. To help set the scene, it sounded a little something like this (it wasn't exactly that, but it was just as irritating, maybe more). Couple that with coughs, sneezes, and moans and you have all the ingredients for a fun afternoon!

photo: Emergency Sign, Ballard Swedish Hospital
via photopin (license)
No one likes going to the emergency room. I like to think of it as a little taste of purgatory. You know, if purgatory actually existed. I'm convinced emergency rooms actually exist to help spread the influenza virus, which then increases the amount of people who get those useless flu vaccines (I'm not anti-all vaccines, but I am anti-flu vaccine for all except the most vulnerable population).

So, how do we take away some spiritual applications from this? Good question. If we consider emergency rooms, we realize that, in general, these exist for acute treatment of pain, injury, and illness. When we have a chronic condition, we visit our general practitioner, and he/she treats us accordingly. Unfortunately, all too often, people treat God, Christ, and the gospel as acute treatment. "Come to Jesus, He will solve all your problems, be they medical, financial, or relational!" "Stuck in a quandary? Open your Bible!"

Friends, God does not merely offer acute, short-term care and the Bible is more than a tourniquet. Your fallen condition is severe, indeed. It is also chronic and deadly. Further, no amount of self-diagnosing on Google will help you self-treat. Christ did not die so that our problem du jour would be fixed; no, He lived a life in perfect obedience to the Law and died as an unblemished, atoning sacrifice so that you, upon repentance and faith in Him (i.e., salvation) might be clothed in His righteousness and justified before the Father. He died that sinners might live. The Great Physician does what no other doctor can do: He gives life.

Well, whether you're relaxing on the couch, enjoying the fresh air on the porch, or gritting your teeth next to an obnoxious person in the emergency room, I hope you enjoy these links as they offer your week in review (kind of):

14 September 2016

Equipping Eve: How to Study the Bible

The shelves of Christian bookstores are filled with so-called “Bible study” books, but can you effectively study the Bible without these resources? In this episode, we talk a bit about some methods for Bible study that focus on the most important thing: the Word.

Click here to listen to this episode of Equipping Eve.

Click here for a list of resources mentioned in this episode of Equipping Eve.

Additional Resources
Equipping Eve: Finding Healing in the Father
Equipping Eve: The Cross of Christ
Equipping Eve: On Transgenderism and Twisting Scripture

11 September 2016

Remembering 9/11: Fifteen Years Later, God Is Still Sovereign

And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him. (Hebrews 9:27-28)
It is appointed unto men once to die. That is it. Just once. One mortal life. One physical death.

Appointed. The moment of each man's death has already been determined by the sovereign God of the universe. No amount of healthy eating, exercise, or avoiding of airplanes can change the day or time of this appointment.

Today as we recognize the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11, we must remember that we do not know the date or the hour or the minute or the second of our final appointment.

photo credit: paulwoolrich via photopin cc 
Fifteen years ago today, millions around the world stood in bewildered astonishment, mouths agape, tears silently rolling, as inconceivable terror and tragedy took aim at a seemingly impenetrable America. Shock could not begin to describe the first reaction of most. Shock, followed by grief, followed by fear.

Yet there is One who was not shocked that day. One who knew exactly when and where each plane would strike. One who knew each soul whose life would end. One who knew the unspoken words of the hearts of those souls. One who knew the eternal destination of each and every soul that perished. One who had long ago ordained the end from the beginning.

Sunday Morning Praise

Great is Thy Faithfulness

09 September 2016

This 'n' That

Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? (Matthew 6:26)
Well, I know at least one way in which God cares for the ducks of the air...by providing cracked corn in my backyard. At one point last week, we counted 30+ ducks visiting our little backyard buffet. Yes, that is a lot of ducks. Thankfully we know they are just passing through, otherwise we could never keep up with the cracked corn feeding frenzy!

Watching God's creation—and His provision for His creation—is amazing, isn't it? Our Creator has accounted for every minute detail in the lives of every living thing. And if He does this for ducks and squirrels and mockingbirds, then surely He will also provide for His children, will He not? Indeed, He will and He does, as Christ so clearly taught in this same portion of the Sermon on the Mount:
Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:31-34)
Why, then, do we worry and fret over our temporary circumstances? No, trying to justify our sin of worry by saying "Because we are human!" is not acceptable. Though He is not required to, God has demonstrated His faithfulness to His own over and over again. If we know our Shepherd, then we must trust and follow Him.
I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me... (John 10:14)
The picture of Christ as the Good Shepherd is perhaps one of my favorites. Jesus Christ, our Savior, Lord, and God incarnate, is the same good shepherd who was prophesied in Ezekiel 34. He is the Shepherd of Psalm 23. He cares for all His creatures, but especially seeks, cares for, and guides His sheep. Do you trust Him? He will never lead you astray.

Okay, so we went from ducks to sheep to the Good Shepherd. I'm not sure those were the smoothest transitions I could have made, but it's Friday, so expectations should be low after the busyness of the week. And, because it is Friday, it means that it's finally time to unwind and enjoy your week in review (kind of):

04 September 2016

02 September 2016

This 'n' That

Yep, that was me as a kid, separating the
good stuff from the "eh" stuff.
You might remember a few weeks ago when I commented on the availability of Lucky Charms marshmallows...just the marshmallows. They are, after all, the best part of the cereal! Well, a few days following that post, a dear friend from church handed me a box of these delicious marshmallows that she had found at a local Amish store. Friends, let me tell you, whoever finally came up with the idea to isolate the marshmallowy goodness from that otherwise so-so tasting frosted oat cereal was a genius. There is nothing more fun than tossing those colorful gems on everything from cereal (you know, healthy cereal [until the marshmallows are added, anyway]) to ice cream, or just popping a handful in your mouth for a burst of sugar. Yes, I know, I am speaking like a 5-year-old. Listen, if you had some of these, you'd agree with me. So thank you, dear friend, for the delicious treat!

Okay, I realize this introduction had no spiritual value whatsoever. Sorry about that. It's been a long week, but then, don't we usually feel that way by the time Friday rolls around? It is finally time to enjoy your week in review (kind of):