One Day

Good Sunday morning Men. I was reminded this morning that God did not promise us another day. Last night when we went to bed we were not guaranteed to wake up this morning. Praise God if you are reading this, He has given you another day.

I don’t know about you, but I want today to have meant something. I am reminded of a poem that I came to know when I was reading about Paul “Bear” Bryant. (Alabama football coach if you are too young to remember). It is said that the Bear always had a poem in his pocket and this was one:

This is the beginning of a new day.

God has given me this day to use as I will.

I can waste it or use it for good.

What I do today is very important because I am

Exchanging a day of my life for it.

When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever.

Leaving something it its place I have traded for it.

I want it to be a gain, not loss – good, not evil,

Success, not failure in order that I

Shall not forget the price I paid for it

I was encourage this morning in church that today can be that kind of day. However, in order to truly experience and understand that price that I will pay, and what I have given for this day I will need to first know the Price that was paid for me to have this day. Jesus, the Son of God gave His life that I may have life.

When I embrace that truth and the truth that comes from His Word I can know that I have His help to experience a life that is a gain and not a loss – good, not evil.

2 Peter 1:3-5 confirms and assures me that God has give me access to His Power – This Power is divine, it free and is a full power to live a godly life. However to access this Power I must know God. Knowing Him in a relational and personal way.

2 Peter 1:3-5

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to[a] his own glory and excellence,[b] by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

Through this access I can claim His great and precious promises. These promises that are personal to each one of us.

Lastly, having been saved from this corruptible, evil and broken world I must partake in His purity.

How can I, how can we, do all of this, in what strengthen do I have to accomplish such an asking. God Himself tells me in Psalm 119. He saves us not to be floundering fish out of water, but to be victorious and to life abundant lives of holiness, love and joy.

Psalm 119:9-11 (ESV)

How can a young man keep his way pure?
    By guarding it according to your word.
10 With my whole heart I seek you;
    let me not wander from your commandments!
11 I have stored up your word in my heart,
    that I might not sin against you.

God has equipped each of us with His Spirit and His word and each one of us have access to God our Father. And He is a Great Father.

Men, let us look unto His Word to know our Good Father deeper and to long for the His presence in our lives each and every day. He who has saved us is faithful.

You are loved men, Go in the peace and power of God to love and serve this broken and hurting world. I am proud to be in fellowship with each of you. Standing shoulder to shoulder as we enter His Throne of Grace to be strengthened for the day.

Life of the Party

This one made me chuckle while trolling for a picture to add for this mornings discussion. Since coming to faith almost 20 years ago I think that this has been one of my biggest struggles. Being the life of the party.

I myself am a type A kind of guy and I really like it when I am noticed and when I am known. Walking into a room and bringing that energy that excites and lifts up a room. I enjoyed knowing a lot a people and walking into a random place in a random town and nothing someone. Being the life of the party was what I was good at, I guess I think it is still what I am good at.

Paul however really got me with this one  – 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12

A Brotherly and Orderly Life

But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; 10 and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more; 11 that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, 12 that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing.

Paul is trying to teach me more about growing in Godliness. He is teaching me that being the life of the party may not be the best example of Godliness. That living a quiet and peaceful life, and that Godliness has a reputation with the unbelievers in my circle of life. People that we come into contact with everyday watch us very closely.

As I am working through this I am struck by the fact that just this week I am going to be attending a three-day long (and some evenings) mandatory meeting with my co-workers. Other than a general knowledge of God and I think that there are less than half of us that any kind of faith in God and Jesus. That said, I really have not had any kind of in-depth conversation with any of them and while I have shared tidbits of things that would suggest to them that I follow a Holy and Loving God. Based on what Paul is trying to teach me here, my conduct is saying more to them what my tidbits could ever say.

This one is hard for me to reconcile with my own prideful feelings and desires. A wise women once said to me “that we learn more from what we see that from what we hear”.

The second part of that growing Godliness is to mind your own business. We, (well I know I do for sure) tend to want to talk about other people’s issues and problems and through this we are comparing ourselves to them. In some case this is to make ourselves feel better about the life we are leading. You know – “I am not as bad as that person…”.  This is one is difficult, as we start to compare ourselves to the other boats in the water, we tend to lose sight of how far from the shore of Godliness we have drifted.

Father in Heaven I pray for each of us that we would understand the power or our conduct and how living a quiet life, without gossip and as we work hard that the love of God can be revealed through our Godly conduct more so that our words. Help us today to keep our eyes on You and not the other boats in the water.

 

Meditate on these things

Philippians 4:8-9

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

Good morning Men and Happy Labor Day. I know that you all work hard and that you do all things as unto the Lord who has given you the strength for the day. Thank you for responding to call of the gospel and working hard to serve your families.

God this morning wanted to remind me that what I see around me is necessary what is true. In our labor and in some cases in our selfishness we get or rather I get caught up in what I see going on around me, even when God tells me in 2 Corinthians 5:7 – that we walk by faith and not by sight.

Men this morning God wants to remind us to focus on these things –

What is True – John 14:6 6Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

What is Noble Revelation 17:14 –14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.

What is Right & Pure – 1 Corinthians 1:30 – 30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption

What is Lovely 1 John 4:8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

What is Admirable – Hebrews 3:3 For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house.

This scripture has brought me more peace in times of despair, uncertainty and frustration than most. Men when I am quick to look upon a situation and think that it is not going the way that I want or it is never going to change. God, My Father reminds me to look to Him and to think about Him. He who knows what I have need of before I can even ask reminds me that He is what I should be meditating on. He is the One that is control and He is the One who is and will provide.

Father, help us today to focus on you and not on our circumstances. I pray that each one of us will take time today to meditate on You and to trust you with everything that we are afraid of, wanting to changed or just can’t control for you Father love us beyond measure.

Fruit of the Spirit

Galatians 5:22-23 (KJV)

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Good Monday morning Men. I want to let you know that I have been struggling with this one as of late. After a busy morning of planning with my family. My sister in Texas has been activated for the Texas Army National Guard as a result of the storms that have devastated many areas in Texas already. My sister who is a Major in the Guard is also a recently singled mother with the tragic loss of her husband. She is not complaining at all, she understands her duties to serve and is very good at her job.

The planning has reached here to Illinois as well as Florida, as we try to provide support to her and her daughter. I am proud to be in part of a family that responds and desires to serve, in this situations we have all been activated.

However, when I am struggling to live by the spirit it presents an inner battle that will and has manifested itself in my outward attitude and behavior. This morning is no exception. Following the successful planning meeting with my wife, sisters and daughters. I was presented with another situation and thoughts that I did not understand and I was did not respond out of the Fruit of the Spirit.

I understand that the first three Love, Joy and Peace represent our attitude toward God. The second group, Longsuffering, Gentleness and Goodness have to do with our social relationships and last three, Faith, Meekness and Temperance guide my conduct.

Meekness is the one that gets me every time and reveals in me that the others are not in sync either. I know I don’t like to think of myself as meek as the world would define it – Webster’s defines Meekness as enduring injury with patience and without resentment, in a spirit of courage, not violent or strong.

Can I offer a different definition as present to me; Spirit manifested Meekness is strength under control. When presented with situations or circumstances, which we may not agree with or understand and we can respond in strength and in control others tend to respond. However, in my case I reacted and lashed out in my lack of understanding or knowledge. This was a quick reminder to me that if my conduct was not lining up with what Paul presented then I have to wonder what else is going on. When I look at the nine items presented as the Fruit of the Spirit I would assume that I start at the beginning with Love – this love here is Agape or unconditional love, Joy – Delight, and Peace – peace of mind.

Men, I must confess that I have put conditions on my love for God and has such I have no Joy or Peace and so I am not longsuffering, gentle or good natured. As you may have guessed my Faith is weak, we have established that I am not meek and my temperance is unpredictable.

So this morning, I start with my Father and confess these things to Him and will trust Him that others will come. In my confession my Men I pray that we are each examining our own attitudes and behaviors they will reveal to us where the problem and where we should start.

Father, thank you for Your word that pierces and can divide soul and spirit and of bone and marrow, that discerns the thoughts and intentions of our hearts. Your love and care is beyond comprehension. Help us this day to have the strength under control that only comes from you. Allow us to serve and love as you have demonstrated and called us too Amen.

Hope for me

Matthew 1:5

Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David the king.

I remember the first time I heard of Rahab when studying the scriptures. The Book of Joshua is one of my favorites and then when you add in Rahab I began to see that there is truly hope for me and for all who believe.

Here is a harlot (a prostitute or promiscuous person) yes in this case she was a woman, but I  too had no problem selling myself in order to either avoid the pain of life or try and find anything that would fill the emptiness in my soul. Don’t we all?

This harlot who had heard of the works of the Lord, acted in faith and hid the Hebrew spies. We read this story and it is present as a great act of faith, see Hebrews 11:31. I wonder though if it did not start out as a simple act of self preservation. Having heard all that the Lord was doing for the Chosen people she knew what could be in store for her as well as her family. Nevertheless, she hid the spies and allowed them save passage.

In doing this thing she begged the spies that kindness be shown to her and her family. What she received was far more that kindness. She and her household were saved that is true; a red scarf hung on the door of the house and when Jericho fell she and her household were not only spared their life’s they became part of the larger family of God. Think about that, Rahab was a Canaanite woman. She was born an enemy of God as a Canaanite, and her profession was a direct offense to God.

So after God destroyed Jericho and she and her family were folded into the People of God. She found a husband and had children and I am guessing that she stopped being a harlot as there is no mention of it again. I wonder if it was easy for her to not be a harlot any more. In between Joshua Chapter 2 when we first meet Rahab and Hebrews Chapter 11 where we believe it is Paul mentions her again so much happened. The Bible teach us things were not easy for the Israelites after the fall of Jericho and this was mostly related to the Israelites unfaithfulness. So life could not have been any easier for her as an outsider.

But wait there is more, Rehab married a man and gave birth Boaz. You know Boaz, he is known as our kinsman redeemer as told to us in the Book of Ruth. And there is still more, Boaz and Ruth had Obed, who had a son Jesse, who’s son is King David and we know that this bloodline has given us Jesus, the Christ, our redeemer.

This cannot be true, from harlot to Great Great Grandmother of the King of Israel. I have known in my life time two of my own great grandmothers and I have sat and listen to the stories of their childhood – can I image David sitting with Ruth, his great grandmother and her sharing with him the stories of God as told to her by her mother Rahab? What truly amazing stories they must have been.

So here we are men, how much like the harlot were we. Except for the gender issue, I am pretty close – born and enemy of God. Using people and things to fill holes in my soul and to stop the pain thinking that this was how life would be. But God – he saved us at that crisis of faith and He has given us much more than we could think or image.

Think for a moment about our children and our children’s children and their children. At 50 years old that is not as far away as I think. What stories of God’s faithful will they here about in our life’s to take with them in theirs. What are we going to allow God to do with our lives now that he has saved us?

Thank you Father for saving us from ourselves. For giving us a hope and a future. Amen!!

 

 

Propitiation

Romans 3:21-26

21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all[h] who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

I have been unable to get this word out of my head as of late. PROPITIATION. What the heck does that even mean. Webster’s defines the word as – The act of propitiating, something that propitiates; specifically an atoning sacrifice.

I don’t know about you but defining words using the word makes me crazy. So here is what I can tell you about propitiation.

In his pursuit of Helen, the King of Sparta, King Menelaus amassed his navy and set out for Troy. On the ships were virgins that were brought to sacrifice to the wind gods for expedient and save travel. There is no indication how many virgins were brought or how many were sacrificed. What is known or not known as the case may be is what would make the gods made and what kind of sacrifice  or how many sacrifices would satisfy their anger. As a result continual sacrifices would be need to remain in good standing with the many gods that they served.

The same is not true for our God, His word tells us what we need to and not do so that He will not be angry with us. The problem that we find through His word is that we of ourselves cannot satisfy the righteous requirement of the law. The law points to our need for a Savior. And He provides us that Savior is Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ who died upon a cross as THE atoning sacrifice for our sins. He is our propitiation.  Jesus’ death on the cross has allowed us who believe in that sacrifice to regain favor with God, His sacrifice resolved God’s anger toward us. By belief in that atoning sacrifice God’s wrath toward us been satisfied. He is no longer angry with us AND beyond that there is nothing that we can do or will do that will make Him angry toward us again. Jesus sacrifice is and will always be enough.

As far as the east is from the west are our sins covered by Jesus’ blood. God has chosen not to remember those things that we did or do that are contrary to His law.

Thank you Father God for sending Jesus as our atoning all sufficient sacrifice. Thank you that it is finish and that you are no longer angry toward us who believe. Help us today to walk in that newest with you, to trust as the Psalms tells us that Your Mercy is from everlasting to everlasting and those who fear You. Amen!!

 

Memorial Stones

Joshua 4:6-7

that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.”

Yesterday I was encouraged to work on an exercise where I wrote out a memory of Gods faithfulness in my life and then to post them around the house as a reminder to me when a fiery dart from the enemy is launched my way. I once heard a pastor say that “no one talks to you more that you”. With that you have to wonder what we are allowing into personal conversations. Who rules those conversations?  If I am not careful to be using the filter of Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. I often get stuck in a track of selfish, immature and foolish thinking.

During the exercise yesterday I recalled a time when I told my wife that I was going to set up a pile of stones in our backyard between some trees. She at first was skeptical and just thought it was silly to have a pile of rocks in the backyard. After I explained her that after this I was confident that someone would ask about the pile of stones and that we could then say, one of those stones is for our grandchildren and what God has blessed us with in each of them. One of the stones represents God’s faithfulness in healing our addictions to drugs and alcohol, and on and on we could go. As I started the pile of stones she joined me in the back yard and we named them as we made the stack. From that time on when we would look out anyone of the windows on the back of the house our eyes were drawn to that pile of memorial stones and we could not help but remember God’s faithfulness.

Not long after we had completed the memorial stones our oldest daughter asked about the stones and it lead into a wonderful conversation with her about what God had done for us. She was so moved by the conversation and the symbolism that we hosted the dedication of our twin grandchildren in front of those stones and added one more for their commitment to raise those children in the Love and Truth of Jesus.

I wanted to encourage each of us that we all have these memorial stones and that while maybe you don’t need a pile of rocks or a posting of God’s faithfulness around your house that each of us should take time to remember what GOD HAS DONE and continues to do in our lives. While maybe things are not perfect He is still present and caring for each of us giving us what need.

In closing I would like to share one of my memorial stones from yesterday – God has always provided me with men to walk with and has met men with exactly who I needed as was willing to walk in faith.

REMEMBER . . .

Ron Peterson – Jim Nelson – Pete Yarema – Mark Cantey – Steve Yates – Larry Jacob – Brenden Kurtz – Gale Jenkins – Kent Hadraba – Jeff Kotthoff – Vince Gaddis

John 15:13

13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.

1 Thessalonians 2:8

So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.

Proverbs 27:6a

Faithful are the wounds of a friend,

 

Thank you Father for ALWAYS being faithful even when we are not. Thank you for giving us what need and not always what we wanted. For knowing each of us as individuals and know that we need each other.

 

Grace….

God's Redemption At Christ's Expense. G.R.A.C.E.

Hebrews 4:16

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

This scripture for me men has been a life changer through the years and is one that comes back to me when I seem to need it most. When I think about this scripture and can take the time to draw on my own limited perception of the “Throne of Grace” I am overcome by the splendor and goodness of God. Who through His Son that allows me direct access to that Throne. Ephesians 1:7-9 tells the Story – In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known[c] to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

That Throne for which when I close my eyes and envision each of us there on our knees seeking that which we need most in that moment. Maybe it is peace, or healing, or maybe it is wisdom or comfort. That Throne for which we take the prayers for each other and for our families and friends. That very Throne in we have been and received the grace and joy of salvation.

There is no shortage of Grace to those who humble themselves before our Mighty God. As we see in James 4:6 But he gives more grace. Therefore is says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to humble. There is more grace at the throne that we need or can image.

It is from this very Throne that God has give us each the ministry of reconciliation. He who has reconciled us to Himself through His One and Only Son also calls us to be reconciled with each other. That calls each of a life of love, trust, suffering and obedience. I am reminded of Psalm 84:11-12 (one of my personal favorites). 11For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. 12O Lord of Hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in You!

Father in heaven let us not forget today the Great Redemption At Christ Expense that each of us has received. Help us to today to give of that Grace freely to those we encounter as is has been so freely given to each of us in abundance. That grace for which we are given that which we do not deserve. Thank you Father for the assurance of Your Grace and give each of my brothers the Grace they need for the each moment today. Amen!!

Mighty Men…

Judges 6:11-12 (ESV)

11 Now the angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. 12 And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.”

Good morning Men of Valor, I was spending sometime this morning in the Word of God and working through a word study the scriptures were clearly trying to remind me of something:

2 Corinthians 5:17Therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.

Galatians 5:1Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

Ephesians 5:8For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.

Philippians 2:4Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interest of others.

Since being asked to participating with contributing to the Barnabas Man the Hound of Heaven has been in hot pursuit. I am sure that each of you know that feeling and this morning it was clear that the Lord is calling us out of hiding.

Rise up O Men of Valor in the strength you have, the Lord is with you. And if the Lord is with us who can be against us. For Romans tells us that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. NOTHING.

Men we are the King and Priest of our homes, I confess that I have not taken seriously of late and abdicated my throne and in doing so have left my wife without covering or leadership. These coming days will be a challenge as I face the consequences of this abdication and attempt to regain the Godly leadership. The Lord did not come to be served by to serve. Please pray for men that I would walk in the love of the Lord with all gentleness and kindness.

Men we have a calling to love and serve our families to be the king and priest called by God. I trust that each of us will rise up and take that seriously. I am confident of this, that as scriptures warns us, our adversary the devil certainly does take and while he can’t take our salvation he can take our witness.

Father in Heaven, strengthen us this day to lay down our lives for the our families and for those you have called us to serve. Help us to be ever mindful and aware of the attacks of the enemy. You are faithful and trustworthy and nothing is impossible for You. Amen!!

Communion

Luke 22:17-20

19And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.

Being blessed with the opportunity to share with each of you men on Sunday and Monday mornings has brought me to an interesting place. A good and bad place, when I wake up these mornings my thoughts are of you, that is the good place. The bad place is, What is it that I could share with you that would an encouragement to you? What deep spiritual truth can I share? It is good that I am thinking about someone other than myself, that I want you to be encourage and uplifted. The bad or wrong place is that I am responsible for that truth, when truly it is God’s place to speak to you and share a truth with you, those who get to share on this blog are just the instruments to sharing His truth.

And as usually the case the Lord had a plan that is much better. Praise Him for that men.

Church this morning, first of all I was late this morning for church arriving as seats were being taken after a short start worship. This was due to us sharing in communion. As I sat there with my glasses off so that I could focus on the Lord (otherwise I have a tendency to  want to see who I might know, what are other doing around me) I was struck by the word Communion. It is not a word that I can find anywhere in the Bible. So I wondered what this word might mean and well here is what I learned.

Webster’s defines communion as – 1) an act or instance of sharing, 2) intimate fellowship or rapport, 3) a body of Christians having a common faith and disciple.

For me there is a lot there that I am not sure I had considered before. In those moments before communion I am asked to speak or share intimately with the Lord those un-confessed sins that I have been holding onto, you know the ones that we are afraid to bring to him, the ones that we are ashamed of. The ones that are weighing us/me down. Then once I have done that, gotten to a place where my heart is right with Him, He shares Himself with me through His Body and His Blood that we take in remembrance of His sacrifice on the Cross.

Following communion and another time of worship the Pastor spoke on Philippians 3:2-10. During the sermon he spoke a lot on the verse 8 – “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ”. He spent a significant amount of time on “rubbish”, telling me that sin creates a vacuum and that sin will suck you in and keep you stuck. He told a store of working on the farm and trudging through the muck and having his boot stuck as he was trying to walk through and eventually the boot got stuck and his foot came out and stepped into the muck with uncovered foot. Men this painted a vivid picture for me and my sin, and what I think I can wade through and not get dirty. Truth is that my foot will come out and I will get stuck in my sin if I am not confessing my sins to Him and allowing Him to wash me clean. I tend not to do this as often as I should, I know sin will make me go further than I wanted to go, stay longer than I wanted to stay and pay more than I wanted to pay.

Men let us take time in the mornings ahead to seek Him in the morning for strength for the day and in evening taking record or our accounts to be clean before Him each day. Spend that intimate time with Jesus and share with Him, He wants to know (already does) about our day and our shortcomings and our successes.

Father, give us the strength for this day and remind us at night to confess to you. That our records, regret and remorse would be short and that we would trust You with every moment of our lives. Thank You for Your reconciliation in Jesus. Amen!