Tag Archives: Bible

With Your Morning Cup of Coffee

As you sit down with your coffee this morning, enjoy some of these articles that I’ve enjoyed over the past few days.

1. A Word About Men and Marriage– Jason Garwood.

Bottom line up front – brutal honesty is good. Men – take heed.

2. Walking with the Dead: The Illusion of Control – Dave Dunham

Another article from one of my favorite article series. No explanation needed.

3. How I Learned to Love the Church– Katie Van Dyke

A great article from Katie. Although this is published on the women’s side of CBMW, I think us men can learn a thing or two as well.

4. 8 Things You’re Doing for Women Other than Your Wife – Bryan

Again, men – take heed. There should only be one woman in our lives for whom we do these kind of things.

5. Paul Tripp’s Thanksgiving Devotional – Crossway

Great opportunity to get devotionals from Paul Tripp straight to your inbox for 14 days. Also, signing up enters you in a contest to win a Paul Tripp coffee mug. I’ll be honest — I want a mug.

6. The Dawning of Indestructible Joy: Daily Readings for Advent – John Piper

John Piper has written a 25 day daily devotional book for Advent season. As usual, it’s offered for free from Desiring God.

7. Pornography: Why Internet Accountability Software Doesn’t Work – Leon Brown

Brown has an interesting perspective on accountability software. In one respect, I think he’s correct in his assessment of what must change in men. On the other hand, I think his assessment of the software itself can be debated.

What good articles have you read over the past few days?

Grace and Peace,
John

The Same Wisdom

creation

In Proverbs 8, the chapter scheduled for my reading today, wisdom is personified as a woman. The same thing happened in previous chapters as well, i.e. 3:13-18 and 4:6-9. However, in this chapter, she says the following of herself,

22 “The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his work,
    the first of his acts of old.
23 Ages ago I was set up,
    at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
24 When there were no depths I was brought forth,
    when there were no springs abounding with water.
25 Before the mountains had been shaped,
    before the hills, I was brought forth,
26 before he had made the earth with its fields,
    or the first of the dust of the world.
27 When he established the heavens, I was there;
    when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
28 when he made firm the skies above,
    when he established the fountains of the deep,
29 when he assigned to the sea its limit,
    so that the waters might not transgress his command,
    when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
30 then I was beside him, like a master workman,
     and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always,
31 rejoicing in his inhabited world
    and delighting in the children of man.

Such beautiful imagery! I don’t want to restate all that’s been said already, but go back and look line by line at how she describes herself and her relationship with the LORD.

Now, a few verses prior to that, verse 17, she says that she

…loves those who loves me, and those who seek me diligently find me.

Understand what she is saying here. Those that seek her “diligently” will find her…and she loves them. Various places in the previous chapters of Proverbs encourages people to seek after wisdom. One specific example is in Proverbs 3:13, which says, “blessed is the one who finds wisdom.”

What does this mean for us today?

Last Wednesday night, we covered James 1:1-8 during bible study. James 1:5 is a verse with which many of us are familiar –

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

James is encouraging us to ask for wisdom if we’re lacking it. The very wisdom that causes the one who finds it to be blessed. The very wisdom also personified above in v22-31! (Go read it again)

The very wisdom we are encouraged to seek after and ask God for if we’re lacking, was the wisdom that was with God – even used by God – in creation. How comforting is it to know that our Great God and King gives us the same wisdom He used before the foundations of the earth? There aren’t two different kinds of wisdom – He gives us His! How blessed are we?

Seek God today. In doing so, realize that as we are striving to know more about Him and how He can be glorified in our lives, He shares His wisdom with us.

Praise His kindness!

The Springs of Life

springoflifeIn today’s reading of Proverbs, 4:23 caught my eye –

“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”

This is a great verse in dealing with the day to day ups and downs of life. As we navigate the various challenges we all face, whether it be in our families, on the job, with our friends, or even in the local coffee shop – we have to be mindful, even intense, about protect our hearts.

Why? Because as the second half of the verse says, “…from it flows the springs of life.” Jesus said in Luke 6:45,

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good,and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

This is crucial in understanding the need to protect our hearts.

In this context, Jesus is talking about the fruit that a tree bears. He says that, “each tree is known by it’s fruit” (4:44) – meaning, a good tree bears good fruit and a bad tree bears bad fruit. But, here’s the rub.

The fruit that is born from a tree is produced based on what the tree receives. If the tree consistently receives water and the nutrients in the soil around it are good – good fruit. If the tree never, or rarely, receives water and the soil around it is bad – bad fruit, if any fruit at all. The same is with your heart.

Everyday, we are all going to be treated kindly or harshly – it depends on the person receiving the treatment to judge the varying degree of kindness or harshness. You can’t control what people say, but you can control how you receive what they say.

If someone is kind to you – praise God for their kindness and worship. If someone is unkind to you – praise God for His kindness and worship. This is because, regardless of how you are treated, Matt 7:12 still applies –

“So do whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

Those “springs of life” flowing from your heart consists of kindness, graciousness, mercy, understanding, and unrelenting forgiveness – all of which you have been shown in Christ – that you are, in turn, responsible for showing to others.

God, in His grace, showed those very things to us despite the MANY times that we turned our backs on Him – literally and figuratively.  We didn’t earn those things from Him; how and why do we expect others to earn them from us? Guard your heart in Christ, so that His life may flow from it.

Grace and Peace,
John

Living By Three C’s

Prior to preaching for the first time, my pastor gave me some advice which I call “The Three C’s” –

1. Be clear.
2. Be concise.
3. Be consistent.

He advised me to keep these points in mind every time I sit down to prepare a sermon. Additionally, these points should also be in the back of my mind as I am standing before God’s people delivering His word.

Over the past few months, as I have had further opportunities to preach, I’ve kept this advice close to me, and in doing so, I’ve come to realize that it’s not only in a preaching or ministerial context that these questions apply. These concepts can also be applied to my day to day activities, and ultimately, to my life in general.

1. Am I Clear?

Ambiguity breeds confusion – it is a friend of no one. It is important that those around me understand where I am coming from. At least, I think it’s important. Whether it’s verbal or non-verbal communication – clarity is important. I’m sure we’ve all seen cases in which a message was communicated, but it was so unclear that the desired results were way off the mark.

So, I take this thought process into my interaction with the major relationships in my life, i.e. my bride and my children. I am myself – am I clear regarding how I feel about God? How I feel about our family? How I feel about them? Am I doing our dating anything that would cause them to question my love for them or my desire to see their relationship with Christ continue to develop and grow? When further with day to day interaction – do I give them my time and attention when they need or want it, or do I give it when it is convenient for me? And really, similar questions can apply to the other relationships in my life, i.e. extended family, friends, people I meet throughout the day, etc.

2. Am I Concise?

“Stop talking me to death!” was a phrase some friends and I adopted when I was a teen. This phrase was our way of telling someone that they were doing too much talking; the listener was being “killed” with all the unnecessary talking being done. Admittedly, I find myself still using the phrase sometimes. Albeit, more in a joking manner than not.

But, I have to examine myself in light of this second point; am I guilty of doing the same to others? Do I unnecessarily drag on a conversation past the point of interest? Do I wear out my welcome when I visit with people? Do people find it a delight or a chore to talk with me? I can’t stand wasting my own time, so I try to be extra cautious when it come to other people’s time. When you really think about it, the long and short of it is this: we all get the same 168 hours each week. I don’t want to take up more time that someone is willing to give me. Everyone’s time is valuable – I don’t want to waste it. In return, I believe that I am showing people that I value the time that they did give me.

3. Am I Consistent?

One of my many desires is to be unwavering in what I believe – especially when in hard times. I’m sure we’ve all met people who confused us regarding their stance on a topic. They were pretty indecisive when it came time to “choose a side” on an issue. People who stake claim in this camp breed confusion in everyone with whom they associate.

So again, I have to do some self examination – am I guilty of the same thing? Do my family, friends, and even co-workers know where I stand with my worldview, or do I jump to the side of convenience when my convictions are tested? Do I hesitate voicing my views because I know they might be in the minority? It is in the times of struggle and strife that our beliefs are tested, and in that testing, we truly realize where we stand on the things that matter. So I feel strongly enough about something to “fall on my sword” about it? Regardless of the subject matter, and regardless of the environment or audience – do I maintain the same principles and standards? Even further, am I the same person at home as I am in public? These things are important.

Am I Successful?

No – I’m not. Sitting here right now, I can’t tell you that I’ve been clear, concise, and consistent in everything I’ve done. I know that I haven’t been clear, concise, and consistent in everything I’ve said. I’d be lying if I claimed to have been. Without naming all the factors that contribute to my inability to success in my efforts, the underlying reason in all the factors is sin (Romans 3:23). However, I’m thankful I serve a God who is clear, concise, and consistent – always has been and always will be!

Am I Committed?

All of this is well and good, but it means nothing if I am not committed to living this way. If I don’t actively pursue God and trust Him to strengthen me as I strive to live these guidelines, then what am I telling the world I am trying to reach with the gospel?

What am I telling my family?
What am I telling my friends?
My co-workers?

I’m telling them that they can go alone and be alright. I’m telling them that, in and of themselves, they can make sense of their life and live it trusting in their own power. But, that’s not what God says.

When we want to be clear about who we are, God speaks to us in Galatians 1:10. When we want to be concise in what we say, God speaks to us in Proverbs 10:19. When we want to be consistent in our actions, God speaks to us in 1 Corinthians 15:58.

I pray you’ll seek God in guiding you, just as I seek Him in guiding me, to be committed to a life of being clear, concise, and consistent. Let’s trust in, and lean on, Him and His everlasting word. I believe it is possible, but only with the grace He provides to allow it to happen.

Grace and Peace,
John

With Your Morning Cup of Coffee

As you sit down with your coffee this morning, enjoy some of these articles that I’ve enjoyed over the past few days.

1. If Jesus Walked Into A Bar, Would Everyone Know His Name? – Mike Leake.

Was Jesus really “buddy buddy” with sinners? Was He truly the “high-fiving” type that He is sometimes portrayed to be? Mike takes a quick look at this portrait of Jesus and sets the record straight.

2. Walking with the Dead: The Character-Shaping Power of Community – Dave Dunham

Well, a new season of “The Walking Dead” has started. So, that means Pastor Dave is back to analyzing each Sunday night episode from a biblical worldview. And as with previous posts from previous seasons, he doesn’t disappoint.

3. New Study Says We Pick Up Our Smartphones 1,500 Times a Week, Stare at Them 3 Hours a Day – Daniel Beam

I thought this article was interesting. I haven’t looked at the other article linked within this one, but the sheer numbers alone are pretty amazing. He even speaks a little about the next upcoming mobile devices – smart watches. (Personally, I’m not seeing the appeal right now.)

4. Where My 90 Hours of Mobile Phone Screen Time In September Went – Bob Stanke

Bob read the above article and tried the test on himself. Pretty interesting results.

5. Busting a book buying myth – Ian Carmichael

I want to show my bride this article. I think it justifies my constant purchasing of books!

6. Three Things Little Girls Need From Their Fathers – Joyce McFadden

I love when articles like this are written by women. Although I’ve read some good articles written by men on the same topic, I honestly don’t think that we can do the subject justice like a woman. This is literally first-hand knowledge.

7. 10 Things You Need to Know About the Bible and Slavery – Graham Veale

I notice that when we think of slavery and the bible, it is usually in the context race and what took place in the United States. This article sheds some light on the biblical history of slavery. Enlightening.

What good articles have you read over the past few days?

Grace and Peace,
John

With Your Morning Cup of Coffee

As you sit down with your coffee this morning, enjoy some of these articles that I’ve enjoyed over the past few days.

1. Why I’m Glad David Platt Is the New IMB President – Russell Moore.

Ok, really – this just makes sense! Perfect choice for such a position.

2. Kindle + Evernote = ♥ – Tim Challies

I love reading. I love Evernote. Both of them together? Yes, please. As usual, Tim does a good job on this article explaining how to integrate them together. Honestly, I was going to write an article along the same lines, but after reading this one – I’m glad I didn’t. I know he did much better than I would have.

3. Walk With God For Joy – Jared C. Wilson

This pastor has such a heart of grace. I can’t think of a time that he has spoken on a social media hot topic and not shown the side of the issue nor getting the attention it deserved. Thank you, sir.

4. Five Tips For Leading Your Small Group – Kevin DeYoung

I am currently preparing the lesson for a small group discussion with the teens in my church. This article has given me some great tips.

5. 10 Things That Happen When You Can’t Put A Good Book Down

I just though this was funny…I know a few people whom this would be quite appropriate for…myself included.

What good articles have you read over the past few days?

Grace and Peace,
John

Happy Social Media Day!!!

Yeah, I didn’t know there was a such thing either. Not many people do.

Apparently, Social Media Day is day that is celebrated worldwide. It is a day that Mashable created “in 2010 as a way to recognize the digital revolution happening right before our eyes.” And I’m sure you will agree – it is a revolution.

The below video was created by Mashable as a sort of “promotion” for the day, but even more, as a way to show the influence and popularity of certain outlets used within the social media platform.

I’m sure everyone reading this can stand in agreement that social media is huge and highly attractive (read: addictive). Case in point – you’re reading this blog possibly from a link on your Facebook or Twitter page. Admittedly, I even wrote some of this post from the WordPress app on my smartphone. Social media has woven itself into the fabric of, not only our lives, but our very being. It has, in many ways, become an extension of who people know us to be. On the flip side, it has also become an extension of who we are, or who we project ourselves to be – whether it’s the real us or not. For better or worse – we’ve allowed social media to define us.

Social media in and of itself is not bad. Personally, I think it is a good platform for engaging people. Family and friends have been connected or reconnected. Experiences have been shared across thousands of miles. Grandparents living on one side of the country can see their grandchild living on the opposite side of the country grow up. In my case, I was blessed to find the church in which my family and I currently worship and serve.

Social media, as a whole, can be used for good – when it is used in a context in which selfish gain or humiliation and degradation of others is not the goal. Unfortunately, those two situations happen more than not in the social media world. As fallen creatures, we have a habit of using positive resources in negative ways. People post provocative pictures, videos of pornographic content and unnecessary violence, and people also engage in cyber-bullying – those are the obvious things. There’s no telling what else is being done that is not as blatant.

Although social media can and has been used to connect people (in either a positive or negative way), that very same platform has the tendency to drive us apart. The platform has done done a remarkable job in bringing so many people together virtually, that we are even further apart physically. And what does that do for the gospel?

Yes, through social media, brothers and sisters are spreading the life changing truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. A 140-character tweet can be sent from North Carolina and reach someone in Germany. Someone in California can write a note on Facebook about being baptized and that could be the open door for an unbelieving friend in Michigan to engage with questions about the faith. The challenges come in when we use the platform of social media exclusively to spread the gospel.

When we don’t make the effort to physically reach out to the lost, the personal elements of relationship face even further degradation. When we depend on technology to be our hands and feet to a lost and fallen world, what happens when that technology fails?

By no means am I saying to get rid of technology, nor am I saying deactivate your social media profiles. What I am saying is social media should be employed as a resource to assist you in spreading the gospel. It should not be the means, but a means of telling the world about Jesus. He’s too good to be displayed behind computer screens, forwarded in text messages, shared on Facebook feeds, explained in 140-character Tweets, and liked in an Instagram photo. He is so much more than that. Share Him with your lips, touch others with His hands, walk with others with His feet, live with others by doing life. That is the best way that we can share Jesus – through the life that He purchased on the cross. Go live that life for Jesus.

I ask that you take just a few more minutes to view this video. I don’t know anything about the person speaking in it…whether he is a believer or not. But I appreciate the message. I appreciate the intent. I think it’s a message that we can all understand and relate to, and in our pursuit of sharing Jesus outside of a technological platform – I think it’s something that we can all get behind.

I pray that as you watch this video, you can be reminded of the need to tell people about the limitless and bountiful joy to be found in Jesus Christ – not in the limited toys and gadgets of everyday life. Grace & Peace.

How will you share Jesus today? Who will you speak to, touch, and walk with?

 

With A Cup of Coffee

As you sit down with your coffee this morning, enjoy some of these articles that I’ve enjoyed over the past few days.

1. Primer on Reading the Bible by John Hughes

There is a lot of advice out there about how to read the Bible. As with any advice, some is good and some is bad. I love these pointers because each one is rooted in dependance on God for understanding of His scripture.

2. This is your brain on mobile by Jeremy Vandehey

This is just an interesting article. Please be aware, there is a curse word or two at the end of the article. In general, the author brings some good points and recommendations on how to unplug.

3. FBI rescues 168 child prostitutes, nabs 281 pimps, in weeklong sting by Peter Weber

I am always, ALWAYS, happy when I read articles like this. Granted, there are still hundreds, if not thousands of people (children specifically) whom are still caught up in this way of life. However, this article tells me that there are 168 children that are no longer enslaved to 281 pimps and this life. And those 281 pimps are no longer on the street. Please continue to pray for, not only these recently rescued children, but also those whom have not been rescued. Also, pray for the repentance of, not only the 281 people just arrested, but also for those still enforcing this life on others – adults and children alike.

4. Hey, remember that time Google accidentally made Skynet? by Bryan Bishop

This is a amusing article, albeit a bit disconcerting. The imagery and comparisons used by the author in telling the story are a bit too realistic for comfort. The author places the creation and advancement of the Google operating system, i.e. Android, in the context of “The Terminator” plot. Quite an interesting twist to this technology.

5. “5 Ways To Fight Temptation” – I’ve always enjoyed the videos that Joe (@whatisjoedoing) released. I think this brother has a gift to relate biblical truths to a young generation in a manner which is easily accessible and understandable.

Belief and Faith

heavenly_rays-normal

“The command to believe is central to the Bible. Christianity is founded upon certain nonnegotiable truths, and these truths, once known, are translated into beliefs. The beliefs that anchor our faith are those to which we are most passionately and personally committed, and these are our convictions. We do not believe in belief any more than we have faith in faith. We believe the gospel, and we have faith in Christ. Our beliefs have substance and our faith has an object.”

“The Conviction to Lead”
Dr. Albert R. Mohler
President
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Discouraging Encouragement

discourage-encourage-stuart-milesEncouragement is a must! No one can live day to day without receiving some kind of encouragement in some kind of way. Some of us see it as a necessity. Why? Because we are a needy people. Because not everything in life is easy. Because God made us dependant on each other. And there’s nothing wrong with being a needy person going through a rough patch who needs someone to come along side them with a kind word or gesture.

Encouragement comes in different ways. There is nothing like face to face encouragement; however, technology affords us the opportunity to be encouraging to someone whom we have never met and whom is living hundreds of miles away. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to the encourager, their well meaning words or actions of encouragement can come across as discouraging.

I am a member of a few groups on Facebook. They range in topics from tips on being more productive to praying for others to fighting temptation. A few weeks ago, someone in the group about fighting temptation posted a picture that was rather disturbing. Mind you, the picture will not be displayed here. However, to give you a general idea of what it entailed – it was a face composed of various body parts arranged in a manner to depict the face of a demon…or possibly even Satan. I won’t get into any more details of the picture, but let’s just say that posting it could have easily backfired into leading someone into temptation, vice the intent of leading someone from temptation.

I am sure the brother who posted the picture had good intentions. When I commented with my thoughts on the picture, he responded that if someone was able to look at that picture and be “turned on” by it, they were “indulging” in their sinful lusts. Honestly, I appreciate the brother’s willingness to be an encourager to those whom are struggling with the sin of lust. However, as I explained to him (as best I could via social media) that picture could do more harm than good.

Bottom line – the picture was pornographic.

It is crucial for us to be discerning in our encouragement. We must understand that the depravity of man has effects far more reaching than we could never imagine. We must understand that despite our belief that a certain sin in our life seems to be under control, that same sin could be running rampant in the life of a fellow believer. We cannot assume that since we are no longer a slave to a specific sin, that a brother or sister has had the same victory in Christ as we have. Overcoming certain besetting sins is a process that take longer for others.

Encouragement via social media can be tricky. Encouragement face to face can be intimidating. Either way – encouragement is needed. Life doesn’t get any easier and times are only getting worse. You never know what an uplifting word or a simple hug will do for someone’s day. On the other hand, if we are not discerning in our words and/or mindful of our actions, they could back fire and not do the good we hoped.

Be discerning in giving encouragement – a person outlook on their situation depends on it.

 “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness,” – Hebrews 3:13

Prayer Point: That our encouragement would be edifying to, not only the person whom we are encouraging, but to all who may see and hear how we encourage.

Question: Has anyone ever tried to encourage you, but unintentionally discouraged you? How did you handle it?