Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Believe it or not, I sit here at 1:30 a.m. at the living room desk, and it’s January 1, 2009! My, how time has flown! I don’t even know what to say. Paul told us to “redeem the time, because the days are evil.” Time is like riding a bike downhill; it seems the longer you ride, the faster it goes. That can be sad sometimes, and exciting sometimes. In any case, I had a great year! And that’s a HUGE understatement. I wanted to write a post about 2008, but I didn’t get time, and the new year is here.
I was at church through midnight and we had a fantastic service, ending by each family praying in the new year together! I have always enjoyed watch night services to bring in the new year, and this year was no exception. We were honored to have the presence of the Huussen family, as well as my Uncle Tim and his family, for the service via skype call. The Huussen’s usually tune in on Sunday mornings, and my Uncle’s family tunes in on Sunday nights. I call it our church’s “skype ministry!” :D
I was honored to be able to preach tonight..er..um..last night! :D I preached a message entitled “On Fire for God,” out of Proverbs 30:15-16.
Well, all that to say, I believe in “new years resolutions.” Simply, because I think second chances are gifts of God! And that is part of what the new year is about; changing some things that you did in the previous year. So, here goes…
1. Eat healthier
I did pretty good for part of this past year, and then somewhere during the holiday season, I crashed! I don’t know why, either. There were also other spells throughout the year where I didn’t pay good attention to my eating habits. Frankly, I do not wish to put myself in an early grave when I could live a longer, healthier life by making better choices. “Let your moderation be made known unto all men.” Phillipians 4:5
2. Get better exercise
I did the same thing with this that I did with my eating habits. I believe that we ought to do the best we can to be in good health. There’s certainly no reason for an able-bodied person like me to be a slob. I went through some dry spells with this last year as well, but…that was last year!
3. Read more Bible
This is one of those things that you constantly have to work at. I think it’s because my flesh is absolutely opposed to it. I have to work at it, though. Also, this includes being a better student of the Bible. 1 Peter 3:15 tells us to be “…ready always to give an answer…”
4. Pray more
There is never time for prayer. Don’t ask me why, because I don’t have an answer. On some of the most relaxed days I have, it seems like I didn’t pray like I wanted. Then I look in the mirror that night as I brush my teeth and say, “You bum; your such an idiot!” Think I’ve gone bananas? I answer myself too!!! :D That’s the flesh warring against the spirit, brother! Amen! The truth is, so many people need the prayers of the saints, and less and less prayer is going around. We need to do our part.
5. Love God more
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”
You see, this one thing affects everything else you do. And not just everything you do, but the motive for which you do it. A love relationship with anyone is not built on words alone, but on actions to prove the love.
“I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.”
1 Corinthians 8:3 says, “But if any man love God, the same is known of him.” So, in all honesty, empty words of love to God do nothing for others, because they know what you really love!
Just a few of my resolutions…for a new year! Well, seeing it's now 2:30 a.m., I guess I should go try to get myself to go to bed. Good night...morning...whatever! :D
Happy New Year, 2009!!!
Thursday, December 25, 2008
"And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.
When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:
And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son."
Merry Christmas to you all! I read these verses yesterday, and I knew what I should write about for Christmas. I don't need to tell you the story of the birth of Jesus; you already know it. Everyone knows that Jesus was born. I heard a lady in the store the other day singing a Christmas song. I wanted to ask her, "Do you know the one you're singing about?" Maybe I should have. But the point is, everyone knows that Christ was born; most even know who he was and why he came! There are a few God rejectors who act like it's a social statement at Christmas time, putting Spanish, Oriental, and even Hamitic manger scenes. Some have even put two men or two women in place of Joseph and Mary, catering to the homosexuals, or sodomites! But, thank God, this is not the norm. Most people know the truth, because it is not a matter of social standing, wealth, philosophy, or race; it's a matter of history! It's the truth, the birth of Jesus Christ!
The question, then, is not what happened. The question is: What will you do with Jesus?
Joseph has become a favorite Bible character of mine! He's very unique. As God made the choice of what girl would have the privilege of carrying and delivering the Son of God, surely God took into account what kind of man this Joseph was. He would choose no sloth for a task such as this. Mary, a virgin, carrying her firstborn son would certainly need care, protection, and attention. Not an easy task in any case, let alone in the case of the Son of God!
In the above passage of scripture, I see Joseph--a man. A man in every sense of the word. In today's generation, there are some weird ideas about what being a man is. These delusions include age, size, accomplishments, or social status. This is simply not what lays the foundation for a real man. These things are not bad, and certainly can be desired. But they alone are not what constitutes a man in God's eyes.
He was a carpenter; certainly no sloth! He was a hard worker, a man under whom Jesus could mature, work with, and grow. Can you imagine the responsibility of such a task?
He was obedient to God! First, you see that God told him to "fear not to take unto thee Mary, thy wife." He obeyed! He did not argue the implications with God. He did not question the possibility. He simply "did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him." He obeyed God! Had he not, what might have happened? Thank God for a man like Joseph!
Now he lays in a bed in Bethlehem. The journey was long, the birth of the child was surreal, to say the least, and now the taxes are payed. He's finally settling down in a comfortable place to sleep; since espousing the chosen mother of God's son, he couldn't remember many nights like this. And now he has just been awaken from a dream, much like the one he got from the angel that told him to take Mary as wife. Now he's being told to flee to Egypt; he's told that Herod seeks the child's life. And he obeyed. He did not question God, and because of him, we see Christ known as "the son of a carpenter."
You have been entrusted with Christ as well! "Really? Me?" Absolutely. When Jesus Christ died on the cross of Calvary, you were left with the decision. What will you do with Jesus? It has nothing to do with anything you've done, who you are, where you were born, etc. It has to do with what Jesus did for you, and what you will do with him. It's the most important decision you will ever make in your life...
I have chosen to make him Lord! He did what only he could have done. He saved me by his grace through the sacrifice of his own self, his own blood being the atonement to pay my debt of sin.
Not everyone gives you a second chance like that!! Thank God for the second chance he gave to mankind when he sent his son!
What will you do with Jesus?
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered, will soon deliver you.
Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God.
The blind will see, the deaf will hear and the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb.
Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you're holding is the great I am.
This is my favorite Christmas song, although it cannot be classified a Christmas-only song. It is the greatest song I've ever heard on the deity of Jesus Christ. What a song! I was able to sing it in church today due to the grace of God!!! It is not an easy song to sing, let alone sing and play on the piano! Thank God. The folks at church said they enjoyed it.
Give your gifts, eat, laugh, fellowship with friends and family, and enjoy some time off. But don't dare forget God, manifested in the flesh, that saved our helpless, dying race! He is the reason for the season; the reason for family, freedom, and friendship!
I'm working on a Christmas post, so I'll have that up by Christmas day for sure!
In Christ Alone,
Thursday, December 18, 2008
This isn't at all what I imagined. No, I imagined family. I imagined grandmothers. I imagined neighbors clustered outside the door and friends standing at my side. I imagined the house erupting with the first cry of the infant. Slaps on the back. Loud laughter. Jubilation.
That's how I thought it would be.
But now. Now look. Nazareth is five days' journey away. And here we are in a . . . in a sheep pasture. Who will celebrate with us? The sheep? The shepherds? The stars?
This doesn't seem right. What kind of husband am I? I provide no midwife to aid my wife. No bed to rest her back. Her pillow is a blanket from my donkey. My house for her is a shed of hay and straw.
The smell is bad, the animals are loud. Why, I even smell like a shepherd myself.
Did I miss something? Did I, God?
When you sent the angel and spoke of the son being born--this isn't what I pictured. I envisioned Jerusalem, the temple, the priests, and the people gathered to watch. A pageant perhaps. A parade. A banquet at least. I mean, this is the Messiah!
Or, if not born in Jerusalem, how about Nazareth? Wouldn't Nazareth have been better? At least there I have my house and my business. Out here, what do I have? A weary mule, a stack of firewood, and a pot of warm water. This is not the way I wanted it to be! This is not the way I wanted my son.
Oh my, I did it again. I did it again didn't I, Father? I don't mean to do that; it's just that I forget. He's not my son . . . he's yours.
The child is yours. The plan is yours. The idea is yours. And forgive me for asking but . . . is this how God enters the world? The coming of the angel, I've accepted. The questions people asked about the pregnancy, I can tolerate. The trip to Bethlehem, fine. But why a birth in a stable, God?
Any minute now Mary will give birth. Not to a child, but to the Messiah. Not to an infant, but to God. That's what the angel said. That's what Mary believes. And, God, my God, that's what I want to believe. But surely you can understand; it's not easy. It seems so . . . bizarre.
I'm unaccustomed to such strangeness, God. I'm a carpenter. I make things fit. I square off the edges. I follow the plumb line. I measure twice before I cut once. Surprises are not the friend of a builder. I like to see the plan before I begin.
But this time I'm not the builder, am I? This time I'm a tool. A hammer in your grip. A nail between your fingers. A chisel in your hands. This project is yours, not mine.
I guess it's foolish of me to question you. Forgive my struggling. Trust doesn't come easy to me, God. But you never said it would be easy, did you?
One final thing, Father. The angel you sent? Any chance you could send another? If not an angel, maybe a person? I don't know anyone around here and some company would be nice. Maybe the innkeeper or a traveler? Even a shepherd would do.
I wonder. Did Joseph ever pray such a prayer? Perhaps he did. Perhaps he didn't.
But you probably have.
You've stood where Joseph stood. Caught between what God says and what makes sense. You've stared into a sky blackened with doubt. And you've asked what Joseph asked.
You've asked if you're still on the right road. You've asked if you were supposed to turn left when you turned right. And you've asked if there is a plan behind this scheme. Things haven't turned out like you thought they would.
Each of us knows what it's like to search the night for light. Not outside a stable, but perhaps outside an emergency room. On the gravel of a roadside. On the manicured grass of a cemetery. We've asked our questions. We questioned God's plan. And we've wondered why God does what he does.
No, the Bethlehem sky is not the first to hear the pleadings of an honest heart, nor the last. And perhaps God didn't answer every question for Joseph. But he answered the most important one. "Are you still with me, God?" And through the first cries of the God-child the answer came.
"Yes. Yes, Joseph. I'm with you."
There are many questions that we won't be able to answer. Many times we will muse, "I wonder . . ."
But in our wonderings, there is one question we never need to ask. Does God care? Do we matter to God? Does he still love his children?
Through the small face of the stable-born baby, he says yes.
Yes, your sins can be forgiven.
Yes, your name can be written in heaven.
Yes, death has been defeated.
Because God has entered the world.
Immanuel. God is with us.
Written by Max Lucado.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
- A promising life for God given over to the old, sinful life?
- A God-ordained ruler being deceived by his own greed and pride?
- A once-solid Christian sacrificing their purity on the altar of self-indulgence?
- A God-called preacher becoming complacent to his call, and even backslidden?
As tragic as these things are, they happen all around us. Such things took place in the Bible as well. These stories, biblical or experiential, are warnings to us all; they're like those crosses on the side of the road, bidding us stay away from the steep ditches and fatal ends that have destroyed so many. I read one of these accounts in my Bible the other day. It's found in 1 Kings 13:1-30. The scripture never even gives us his name; it simply calls him "the man of God." This term for him is used 15 times in the passage! Quite a guy, wouldn't you think?
The first thing I notice about this man is that he is chosen and commissioned by God.
1 Kings 13:1 "And, behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of the LORD unto Bethel: and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense."
1 Peter 2:9 states that we are a "chosen" generation. The call of God on someones life is no guarantee that they will answer that call. If it was, wouldn't there be more sold out Christians, working in the ministry? I hardly believe that there is a lack of God's call! I'm convinced it's a lack of obedience from God's people. This man that I read about is not of that kind, though. He is chosen and commissioned by God.
The next thing I notice is the courage he displays.
1 Kings 13:2 "And he cried against the altar in the word of the LORD, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the LORD; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men's bones shall be burnt upon thee."
A pronouncement of judgement on sin! Would to God there were more men of this kind; men that would preach against sin and wickedness, within or without the church! Judgemental preaching is becoming a thing of the past, sadly. The preaching of revival fire was preaching of God's hatred and judgement sin, whether modern America is willing to admit that or not!
On a side note, the first thing I hear from people to stop me from public preaching is, "Judge not!" First of all, Jesus finished the verse saying, "lest ye be judged," meaning that I will be judged by the same standard by which I judge, the Bible. 1 Corinthians 2:15 says, "he that is spiritual judgeth all things." Secondly, I'm not judging! I'm only proclaiming the judgements that God has made in his word. I'm a messenger! If you don't like the message, don't attack the mailman! Take it up with the sender! You will, by the way! Maybe their problem isn't me, but God! Lastly, 99 percent of those who squeal, "judge not," couldn't show you the verse in the Bible if their life depended on it. How do I know that? I've asked them! They can't even show you the verse they quote! They're just looking for a way to get the heat of God's word and the conviction of the Holy Ghost off their back! Amen! (My!! What a rabbit trail!) :D
This man of God had courage, though. I've thought of some words here that are synonymous with courage: fearless; aggressive; guts; nerve; gumption. Would to God more men would have this courage!
Then, I see the confidence in God that leads to confirmation from God!
1 Kings 13:4-6
"And it came to pass, when king Jeroboam heard the saying of the man of God, which had cried against the altar in Bethel, that he put forth his hand from the altar, saying, Lay hold on him. And his hand, which he put forth against him, dried up, so that he could not pull it in again to him. The altar also was rent, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the LORD. And the king answered and said unto the man of God, Intreat now the face of the LORD thy God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored me again. And the man of God besought the LORD, and the king's hand was restored him again, and became as it was before."
Don't you just love it when God intervenes on your behalf? This man had obeyed God, and here he is out on a limb! Then God just does a miracle and solves the problem. We don't like interruptions--glitches in the plan, but it's through our problems that God can show his power! Our problems set the stage for God's performance. When a great thing is being done for God, sometimes God allows a problem to throw us off track so we'll not get ahead of God and realize our need for him. I heard one man say, "God is rarely in our problems; he's mostly in our interruptions." How true! One day Christ is teaching in a house, and, for all we know, it could have been Sermon on the Mount, Pt. 2! We never know what he was teaching, cause that was the plan, we just read about the interruption! Four men let a sick man on a bed through the roof of the house, so he could get to Jesus. By the way, there was a Jewish girl who got interrupted as well...with news from an angel! I'll be writing on her real soon! :) So next time you have those interruptions, don't get mad; just look for God in the interruptions! :) Sounds easy, right? Trust me, it's not. But like this man of God saw in front of king Jereboam, God will come through.
Next, I see a conflict.
1 Kings 13:11-19 "Now there dwelt an old prophet in Bethel; and his sons came and told him all the works that the man of God had done that day in Bethel: the words which he had spoken unto the king, them they told also to their father. And their father said unto them, What way went he? For his sons had seen what way the man of God went, which came from Judah. And he said unto his sons, Saddle me the ass. So they saddled him the ass: and he rode thereon, And went after the man of God, and found him sitting under an oak: and he said unto him, Art thou the man of God that camest from Judah? And he said, I am. Then he said unto him, Come home with me, and eat bread. And he said, I may not return with thee, nor go in with thee: neither will I eat bread nor drink water with thee in this place: For it was said to me by the word of the LORD, Thou shalt eat no bread nor drink water there, nor turn again to go by the way that thou camest. He said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the LORD, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied unto him. So he went back with him, and did eat bread in his house, and drank water."
He allowed someone to dissuade him--to talk him out of what God had told him. Listen, focus on what God has told you, not what God has told someone else! It does not matter what someone else thinks about what you should do unless it lines up with what God thinks! God will tell you what you should do if you'll seek him on your decisions. Don't trust the arm of flesh! I don't even trust myself, and what I think, let alone what someone else thinks they know about God's will for me! Vain is the help of man! If God be for us, who can be against us!
Terrible mistake this man of God had made! He had failed his mission as God had told him to do it.
It is just a little compromise, isn't it? I mean, after all, didn't this wise, old man have some wisdom? Should I just disregard this advice? He says it's from God!
Compromise is rampant! If you don't think so, just look at the difference between the 1980's and the 2000's. That's only two decades! How did we get from "Amazing Grace" to D.C. Talk. Where did my Hymn book go as I sit it modern Independent Baptist churches, and what demonic hell hole did MercyMe and Jars of Clay come from? If you don't know who I'm talking about, stop reading for just a second and thank God!!! You wouldn't know they claimed to be Christian if you did hear them. They're demon possessed and filthy, and because they're sold in the "Christian" bookstore, church kids are listening to them! Contemporary rock music, "christian" or not, will damn the soul of any young person! I say this not because I believe it alone, but because I've seen it, with kids I grew up with and sang at meetings with. They now have their myspace (hellspace) accounts and their filthy friends, filthy music, filthy pictures, etc. And the only difference between the campmeeting pictures I still can go look at, and that myspace account is..... just a "little" compromise!
See how dangerous that is? The man of God--compromised!
Lastly, I see a carcase of testimony!
1 Kings 13:24 "And when he was gone, a lion met him by the way, and slew him: and his carcase was cast in the way, and the ass stood by it, the lion also stood by the carcase."
"Do you smell that? It's awful!" the young boy said. The father, knowing what was around that next bend, decided to bring him here to teach his son a great lesson. "Be careful son; stay beside me." "What is it, father? Is something the matter?" The query continues..."Just be careful, son..." The fathers voice now shakes. The carefulness the loving father speaks of is not just concerning the sight the boy will soon see, but the decisions he will make in life.
"Ohhh! Father, is that the man of God, the preacher, the one who rebuked the king earlier?" The boy asked, already knowing the answer. "Yes. Look carefully son! The lion is the devil! He want's you! He wants us all! He wants us to make the same mistake this preacher made in not obeying God. That ass represents your rebellion. You don't have to search for rebellion, you only have to allow it. And the devil waits for you to ride your rebellion out of God's protective will so he can leave you for dead. Never give him that chance, son! Never!"
Let us never give him that chance.
Don't run outside the walls of God's hand of protection on the ass of your stubborn self-will!
The devil has over 6,000 years of experience deceiving and destroying humans. Only God has the ablilty to keep your from that.
Lord, I see potential; but what is potential without patience and protection? I see confidence; but what is confidence without character and collectivity? I see decisions; but what are decisions without devotion and direction?
Thursday, December 11, 2008
I wrote in today just to let everyone know that I will no longer be attending classes at Haney Technical Center, although I have only gone for one semester. I need to explain why I went:
I have been home schooled my entire life. I would have it no other way, by the way!!! But in light of home school, I had never been in public education, so my parents were worried about throwing me straight into college without any exposure to outside elements, if you know what I mean. Furthermore, I graduated from high school at 17, and there was no reason to run right off to college at such a young age.
So, it made sense that I have sort of a bridge between high school and college. And with Russell, my brother, already attending Haney, I could have somewhat of a mixing ingredient involved. :)
Well, as the title of the post says, "all things must come to an end." I have prayed fervently about it, and I have confirmation from the Lord that I need to continue on with plans for law school. In light of this, I have decided to take this next semester off and prepare for college starting Fall, 2009. I have to get ready by preparing for scholarships, clep tests, majors and minors, SAT, and registration. I'm excited, and even somewhat scared about what the future holds. Until the Lord returns, I want to be about his business, no matter where that is. I ask that you all pray that God continues to make my way clear and my walk straight, God's Word lighting my path!
I was kind of sad after leaving school today, knowing I won't be going back. The only reason I care is because my teacher called me her "assistant." I even helped other people in my class if she got too overloaded. She was really sad today when I left. :( I felt bad for her; she put me on a guilt trip. :)
When I got home today, I thought about the testimony I had at school, and a verse came to mind about the "word of our testimony," but I couldn't remember the reference. So, I pulled up Swordsearcher, our Bible Computer program, and typed in a search. It yielded Revelation 12:11.
"And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death."
"What a great verse," I thought. Then I did a double take!!! Revelations 12:11? Hey, 12-11 is today's date! That was just the Lord confirming what he had already told me to do. I thank God for little things like this that just remind me that God knows my thought and worries, and he is still in control! I've also had three people in the last 24 hours tell me that they are praying for me and for God's will to be done. Hallelujah!
I will have another article up by tomorrow morning that I have been working on. So check back soon! :)
In Christ Alone,
Thursday, December 4, 2008
I do, however, like to take time to cherish certain moments in my life. I did just that at about 6:30 a.m. down at the pond on my birthday. Society has some crazy ideas about what being 18 years old means. Well, I wrote some things down that I will share with you here. This is what 18 means to me:
First, a time of reflection. A time to look back at what God has done for me and what I've done for God. I believe in what I call "Self Evaluation." Paul said to "examine yourself..." When I sat out on that 8 foot dock, I thought, "how have I measured up?" Not to this world, mind you. I don't measure anything I do by the foolishness that you'll see on the television or at the public school. I like to measure up to my potential for God. Have you ever thought about the potential that God has given you the responsiblity of working with, and how you've measured up to it thus far? I want God's best for me, and I know he does too. Lord, help us to live up to our potential for you.
Next, it's a time for rededication. I know so many young people--kids I grew up with, went to meetings with, played with, laughed with--that lost their dedication to God at the "ripe old age" of 18. Why is it that 18 years old means you're free to commit spiritual suicide with your life because you're an "adult." No, I've seen what happens to kids who take that route, and I believe the far country was in their heart long before they turned 18, and they were just playing a church game. How dangerous!!! Not me. I took this time on November 27 to let God know that I didn't get in this thing just until I had some freedom of my own. If it was good the day I got saved at 5 years old, it's good the day I turned18 years old. If I can trust God to save my eternal life, I can surely trust him to lead my earthly life. The world may despise it, wimps for modern-day boys may not understand it, but it's the battle I chose, and it's the battle that chose me; I'm in this thing for the long haul!! I'll lay down my sword at the finish line! Until then, as General Jackson of the Confederate army would urge his men in battle, "Press on! PRESS ON!!!"
Lastly, it's a time for resolve.
I Am Resolved
by Palmer Hartsough, James H. Fillmore, Sr.
I am resolved no longer to linger, charmed by the world’s delight,
Things that are higher, things that are nobler, these have allured my sight.
I will hasten to Him, hasten so glad and free;
Jesus, greatest, highest, I will come to Thee.
I am resolved to go to the Savior, leaving my sin and strife;
He is the true One, He is the just One, He hath the words of life.
I am resolved to follow the Savior, faithful and true each day;
Heed what He sayeth, do what He willeth, He is the living Way.
I am resolved to enter the kingdom, leaving the paths of sin;
Friends may oppose me, foes may beset me, still will I enter in.
I am resolved, and who will go with me? Come, friends, without delay,
Taught by the Bible, led by the Spirit, we’ll walk the heav’nly way.
The song says it better than I ever could. I am resolved!!
A time of reflection, rededication, and resolve. That's what 18 means to me!