Tag Archives: Bible

The Power of Books

book-863418_960_720Carl Sagan was an atheist who had this to say about the power a book possesses.

“What an astonishing thing a book is,” marveled [Carl] Sagan. “It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you.”

Sagan’s comment certainly explains the desirability of books through the ages.  It would also seem to explain the power and effectiveness of the Bible. Its author, God, is not dead and its words are timeless. That being said, one has to wonder why we don’t read the Bible more.

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My ark

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He’s another quote from my upcoming book.

“Patty loved animals as much as I did. We’ve had a pet of some kind ever since we’ve been married. When we set out to build our first house we couldn’t wait to fill it with animals. Not to the extent Noah filled the ark, but Patty wanted a kitten and I coveted a black Labrador retriever…By the time we finished building, our menagerie consisted of three species of birds, two large tanks of fish, a dog and two kittens.  The arrival of our first child changed everything.”

 

Be Content: Philippians 4:12

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I find this image to be a picture of contentment, which is probably why I love it.  It has great elements: friends, a favorite pet, a favorite hot beverage all in a relaxing setting.  Wouldn’t it be great if life was served up to us like this on a daily basis?

I find it hard to be content when I’m always on the go, busy with this and that, or striving for material things that never seem to completely satisfy. Apostle Paul’s addresses the subject of contentment in his letter to the Philippians.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. Philippians 4:12

According to Pastor Matt Chandler, contentment is something we must learn.  It does not come naturally.  We can learn contentment from staying connected to the source of truth (scripture), by remembering God’s past provision, and by being grateful for things we already have.

Contentment isn’t a path to complacency, rather, it involves actively striving to be a f.r.o.g (someone who Fully Relies On God).

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Guarding your thoughts: Philippians 4:6-7

After an exhausting day at work, I peeled off my sweaty clothes and tossed them on a pile of laundry.  But before I could take up residence on the couch, there were a few household items I needed to take care of.  Feeding “big boy” (our parrot fish) and walking Jake and Brody (our two dachshunds) topped the list.

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After finishing a relaxing walk with my pups, I grabbed the stack of dirty clothes and tossed it in the washing machine. A couple hours later I transferred the load to the dryer.

I grabbed a fresh towel and a wash cloth from the dryer the next morning as I prepared to start my day.  While taking several gulps of coffee, I noticed wads of paper scattered across the floor.  I recognized the fragments immediately.  They were “scraps,” thoughts I collected for chapter 8 of my upcoming book, which interestingly enough dealt with the issue of distraction.

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Accusing thoughts surfaced–Brody!  It’s a proven fact he loves to shred anything made of paper.  But how did he get ahold of my precious thoughts?  Yet, he didn’t look guilty as he rested quietly head in paws.  I didn’t know what to think.

Moments later, I visited the dryer again.  This time rummaging for a pair of socks. More wads of paper appeared among the clothes.  As it turns out, this was my doing!

If I had taken the time to capture these thoughts in my manuscript instead of carrying them around for weeks in my shirt pocket, this calamity could have been averted.  In my moment of anxiousness I was reminded of this verse of scripture:

“In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7 ASV

You may be wondering what losing scraps of paper has to do with this passage of scripture.  I had the same thought and considered putting this story on ice.  I decided to ponder the matter for further and pray about it.  A thought came to me this morning.  The source of most of my scraps used in this blog find their origin in bathing myself in the peace God provides.

I have to chuckle.  From now on, whenever I see, “guarding your thoughts,” (as in folded scraps of paper in my pocket) it will remind me of my washed and dried scraps of paper.

Grace and truth

I heard a sermon recently about being an authentic Christian.  I wouldn’t describe my pastor’s words as comforting.  I have been thinking about two words ever since; grace and truth.

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth through Jesus Christ.  John 1:17

I understand that grace and truth are a part of the Christian’s salvation experience.  But for some reason we followers of the gospel end up gravitating towards one of two camps over the course of time as we journey.

Grace without truth is meaningless.  You might know them as chameleon Christians who are tossed by the wind when they encounter change or challenging issues.  Conversely, truth without grace leads to legalism. Often times people find them to be an angry, condescending bunch when others make different choices than they do.

Having found myself in each camp at one time or another in my life, my pastor’s message troubled me.  Grace and truth are both needed as we journey.  Truth says to me, “You know right from wrong, yet you still make wrong choices sometimes.  You are in constant need of grace.”  Grace whispers, “I have embraced you time each time you have asked for it, so why not demonstrate it to others by loving God and your neighbor.”

We do need both.  Truth grounds us in the faith, and lovingly extending grace to others affirms our witness.  Thank you Pastor H. for bringing this to my attention.

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Psalm 119:121-136 Servanthood

god-2925343_960_720The previous three stanzas of Psalm 119 emphasized drawing near to God. In verses 121-136 we do not find the cry of a proud person looking over his domain.  Instead, a different cry arises, that of a servant.

(122) Ensure your servants well-being is a cry for God to take up the psalmist’s cause, for God to represent him.  Christ ensures his followers are heard by interceding on our behalf (Hebrews 7:23-28).  The Holy Spirit also intercedes for those who are God’s people (Romans 8:26-27).

The servant asks for God to (124) deal with them mercifully, (125) give them understanding, (128) and keep them from the wrong path.

What does the right path look like?  (130) Unfold your words is the preparing one’s heart to receive the light of God’s word.  It involves turning towards (not away from) the God of mercy.  Those committed to the right path  ask Him to direct their footsteps (133), deliver them from oppression (134) and shine on them (135).

If you find yourself on the right path do not be surprised if (136) streams of tears flow from your eyes when you observe those around you who are hostile towards the Savior they do not know personally.

Psalm 119:97-120 Find time alone with God

What is it about God’s Word that the psalmist is so enamored with?  Answer: he has a personal relationship with God.  If we were to characterize this relationship as a two-way street, one side is the psalmist’s side of the street lined with worldly buildings and distractions, and the other, God’s side of the street.  So what is it about God’s side of the street that makes the psalmist want to cross over and devote himself completely? (Hint: did you have a best friend in your youth?  Was being able to stay at their house the best and most exciting thing ever?)

book-863418_960_720These three stanzas of Psalm 119 highlight the importance of finding time alone with God in prayer and Bible study.

(97) Your law – The God given Law is found in the Old Testament.  God have us his son, Jesus, in the New Testament.  The Word became flesh and lived among us (John 1:14).  (98) Makes me wiser – the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10).  (99) I have more insight – those who sit at the feet of Christ often have more insight than Doctors of Divinity (Charles Spurgeon).  (100) I have more understanding – Trust in God with your heart and don’t rely on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).  A regular time of private devotion also yields guidance (101), learning (102), and a hunger for more (103); an example being to your favorite food that tastes so good you can’t get enough of it.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.  Psalm 119:105

In the next stanza God’s word lights my path (105), preserves my life (107), is my heritage  (111), and gives me hope (112).  If so much joy and happiness can be found spending time alone with God, why would we ever want to return to our worldly side of the street?  Spurgeon reminds us that, “We are walkers through the city of this world, and we are often called to go out into the darkness; let us never venture there without the light-giving word.”

The third stanza uses language one would find of a war being carried out in enemy territory.  (113) I hate double-minded people (frivolous, indulgent, worldly thinkers).  (114) God is our refuge and shield.  We must remember to wear the whole armor of God against the enemy (Ephesians 6).  (116) God’s word sustains and upholds us and is proven. (120) He alone is the right (true) one to worship.

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Matt Chandler offers three points for those who have a relationship with God, addressing our need to find alone time with him.  (1) Staying connected carries us through life’s ups and downs.  (2) When we remain near to God, it leads to a sustaining love. (3) We produce fruit when we stay connected.  Staying connected allows us to be transformed by him (Romans 12:1,2) and enables us to make a difference in the world in which we live (our side of the street).

“We are walkers through the city of this world, and we are often called to go out into the darkness; let us never venture there without the light-giving word.” C. Spurgeon