A Thought About Holiness

I'm cleaning up my message for tomorrow morning's worship gathering and have been considering holiness for a few moments. Here is a thought that will not make it into this message and might be worth sharing.

Personal holiness is not about (nor is it measured by) profound theological understanding, ecstatic expressions of worship, or extremes in sacrifice. It is simply thinking the way God thinks and wanting what God wants.

Our actions take care of themselves when these fundamental concerns are rightly in place.


Thoughts About Failure

Failure is an event, not a person.
I love this thought. It clearly reminds me that although I will surely experience failure, I am not one. Maybe you too!

God does not look at us through the lens of our greatest failure, but through the lens of our greatest potential.

I think God likes it when we fail some. We learn so much that way. Faith grows that way. I think there is a way to fail forward. To fail for trying instead of failing for lack of effort. In the parable of the talents its the guy who feared failure that received the master's reproof.

So, go on. Try it. Try it real big and just call it an experiment so that if you fail, everyone around you will just be looking for what you learn instead of what you produce. And if the experiment is a success, God gets all the credit!

Repentance Question

In my thinking about repentance and in my daily consideration of the things that need changing in myself, I keep coming back to the same question.


Tell me what you think.


More on Repentance

As I read through and meditated on today's quiet time in our guide for this week, I reflected even more on the idea of God's will.

How easy it is for us as Christians to wait for God to reveal His will! How easy to put off our obedience because we are waiting for God to reveal his will. How easy to wait to serve others, press into worship, pursue our mission, develop our character, sacrifice our pursuits until God tells us or shows us more of His plan for us. What a convenient excuse.

I did it. I do it.

I was 12 when God first showed me that He planned to use me in ministry. Then the picture was of a Youth Pastor. Through my high school years, I involved myself in my youth group, eventually taking on leadership roles and responsibilities. I did this to pursue God's plan for me. Along the way, I discovered that I was good at business - administration, visioning, planning, and implementing. So, I developed a goal of owning my own business some day. Soon I was pursuing that and doing my youth group stuff on the side. Then, through a set of painful experiences, God reminded me of His calling on my life. I began to prepare for Bible college and seminary by going to Jr. College and working to save. When it was time to transfer to the university, I didn't have enough money saved and had to take a year off of school to work and save money. After a year, I didn't have enough money and had to work more. I did less in my youth ministry and even gave up on Sunday worship. And soon my old desires to start my own business resurfaced. And I began to pray that God would show me His will. Here's what God showed me. (He led me to some scriptures, spoke to my spirit, and used fellow believers to advise me.) I didn't need to know more about God's future for me. He had already revealed all I needed to know about that. I needed to follow God's will for today and by obeying Him today, He would get me to the tomorrow He had planned for me.

Well, I made a fast and sweeping course change and got myself in to the university the very next semester. God took care of the money and everything else too!

I have such a painful desire to rule my own life: to make my own decisions and set my own priorities. I remember a season in my life and ministry when I could identify weekly, if not daily, instances of sensing God's direction. And in those seasons I always got closer to God's ultimate plan and in fact lived God's ultimate plan.

I need God. I need His Spirit to guide me every day in every way.

I have shamefully tried to take over God's position of leadership in my life and given myself permission to do so for a thousand reasons, not the least of which is because I am waiting for God to show me His will for my future. I need His will for this minute. I need to obey what I already know about for this minute. I need to repent of doing my life and my ministry my way and just get back to what I already know from God, and seek His direction for every act of obedience to that divine will.


Good Theology Please

OK, I read a post on an old friend's blog that bothered me. It bothered me because it was so mean spirited. It bothered me because it never came around to offer hope to anyone. It never came around to offer anyone something practical to use to grow closer to God or more like Him. But most of all, it bothered me because this friend used bad theology.

So, for everyone's benefit, here are just a couple of basic rules of theological thinking.
1. Always use the Bible to interpret the Bible as your first and primary source.
a. Look for other passages that talk about the same subject and see how
those passages seem to interpret what you have read in another location.
b. Read the whole book from which your study passage is drawn. Jesus would
often tell us what he wanted us to do in response to a parable several verses
2. Always use Jesus to understand the rest of the New Testament. We have often misunderstood Jesus because we have already studied Paul. When we should
start with Jesus and interpret Paul's writing by what we have already learned
directly from Jesus. It is an incredible gift to have Paul's #1 source available to
us in order to better understand Paul. To work in the other direction can be

I did send a private message to my old friend, sharing my opinion.


I'm still thinking about marriage from our message on Sunday and our daily devotional readings as well. I'm struck by how the idea of a man leaving his mother and father is so all-encompassing. I mean it was to leave all of the options behind. If your marriage was "not working out" there would be no where else for you to turn. The only other option WAS the household of your parents.

In marriages today it seems all too many people "leave" their options open, instead of "leaving" all of the options behind. Oh, there's plenty of leaving going on these days. People "leave" their spouse left and right. And it's easy. Because we have so many options "left."

I think there would be a lot more healthy marriages today if the divorce laws were written differently. If it were the law that whoever chose to leave a marriage had to "leave" everything else behind as well (the house, the car, the kids, the car, the dog, the kitchen sink...), perhaps there would be more people working things out instead of "leaving."

I know, I know... there are situations in which life and health are at stake and someone should leave. But that's not irreconcilable differences. Irreconcilable differences is just an option "left" open.

Now, I don't mean to sound unsypathetic, because I am not. God heals people from divorce and restores them. But He hates divorce too. What I am trying to say loudly is that God did not intend marriage to be a partial or temporary option to be easily left when the going gets rough. God built marriage to be a life-long commitment in which every other option is left behind.

Don't leave for something better. Just be someone better.
Instead of looking for the right person... be the right person.
God loves you and He wants to save your marriage.


Caring for God's Creation

Our devotional reading for today brings up one of those ideas that puts me in one of my uncomfortable zones. Christian conservationism.

I'm not uncomfortable because I don't believe in our responsibility to care for God's creation, namely our Earth. I have long come to grips with the notion that it is second in order of primacy only to "being fruitful and multiplying." I believe that each Christian is specifically responsible to live a life that honors God, shares His love with others, AND nurtures the earth which God gave us charge over.

My uncomfortableness is related to a frustration I have with the way that the issue has become mostly political. I am further frustrated with the way that some in the political establishment have used the issue, along with sometimes questionable science - sometimes manipulated, to further personal agendas. (Such is the world of politics.) I have a hard time discussing the issue of Christian conservationism without feeling like I talking politics, or talking like a politician. I think there is further complication because my ideals of conservationism are rooted in my life in an agricultural community. (Farmers have become a target for conservationists.) I have always considered myself a kind of carpet-bagger. (This is an old expression that refers to someone whose lives in the country but works in the city.) Although I have all of my life in town, and most of my adult life in the suburban sprawl of the Southern California megalopolis, I'm have a certain kind of country sensibility.

All this is background. Another part of my uncomfortableness may be (and I think it is) a holy discontent. It may be that the Holy Spirit is leading me to shift my stance from where it is now to where He wants it to be.

Here is where it is now. I separate my trash. I even put things in the recycle bin that I know they don't have the technology to recycle yet, but I want someone else to be finally responsible for putting the styrofoam in the landfill. (I personally try to avoid styrofoam.) I use energy efficient bulbs and products. (As much be cause they lower my bills as because they lower the strain on our planet.) I save water in as many ways as possible. (I knew some people who flushed their toilets once daily - no matter what. I'm not that strict. But I do save a flush.) Since discovering that using the dishwasher is actually more than 3x as efficient as washing by hand, I rarely do any hand washing. Actually the water conservation issue is pretty easy for me. It helps farmers. The list goes on with similar small scale things.

The thing is, conservationism is not the only way to care for God's creation. Keeping a green yard and garden is good for God's creation. Picking up garbage and doing away with public blight also honor God and care for His creation. Pet population control can be a way to care for God's creation. And on and on goes the list.

I have to live a life with my God that does more than diminish my negative impact on the planet. I also have to live a life that introduces benefit to God's creation. I have to live a life that does not look to government programs for answers, but one that is an answer.

I'm not all the comfortable with where I have landed so far.

Lord show me your will and reveal to me the fullness of your truth so that I can fully live up to your commission on my life to care for your creation. Give me balance in my spiritual life that results in physical honor to your name. All to Christ. All for Christ. All through Christ. Amen


The Sobriety of Creation

"And He saw that it was good."

It has been a long time since I have just sat and marveled at the things God said were good. I have recently marvelled at my children and how they have grown, then thinking about how marvelously God created them. But I was recently at the beach. And because while on the shore I was busy tending my children, I didn't look out to the horizon and marvel at the enormity of those waters that God held back to form our dry land environment. And that experience is so like my life. No time to marvel. Only time to work, minister, parent, pastor, play, perform, achieve, accomplish, do, do, do, do.

I don't think modernity helps us see God so well. I don't think we are better equipped to nurture our connection to God or our worship of Him in the wonder of His creation. Interestingly being engulfed in His creation seems to draw us to worship of Him, while being engulfed in our creations seems to draw us to more and more non-worship.

Going for a drive today. A drive in the country, the vast open land of God's design.


Through The Bible Entry Creation Monday

OK, I know some of you are put off by Stott's comment about creation being a process of unspecified length. Some of you might even want to jump off the daily devotional ship at this point. Hold on. Stay on board. There is some significant depth and powerful reflection to come. Don't miss a day.

Here's my landing point on v. 2. I don't think it is intended to give us answers to length of time. It is designed to describe God. I think vv 1&2 are introductory verses to the 7-day description that follows. I think that v. 2 shows, along with the 7-day description that follows, that God created in process. I think that God's use of process helps us order our own lives as He ordered our world.

Now, here's where my worship is directed for the day. "God's SPIRIT hovered over the deep." I must admit that I have carefully considered Jesus participation in the creation... because John 1 in the New Testament forces me to. "Without Him, nothing was made that has been made." And, I knew that the Holy Spirit was around, because God says "Let US create them in our image." But honestly, when I read Genesis 1 I have this picture in my mind of God the Father waving a maestro's baton around the universe giving authoritative commands which bring things into being and into order. And Jesus and the Holy Spirit I see kind of standing there behind him, looking over His shoulder with awe and wonder on their faces, nodding occasionally as the Father looks to them.

But then when I read John 1, I see Jesus doing all of that with a very human touch, more physically involved somehow - as if he were painting each petal and carving each stream. And in this vision I see God and the Holy Spirit kind of strolling along with Him: the Father instructing and the Spirit affirming.

Here's what I notice. I'm much more comfortable with the "3" part of the 3in1 than I am with the "in 1" part of it.

Today my meditations will be on how the Godhead work in unison in creation and in relation to each other and in relation to me.


CREATION - Week 1 Deviotion

I'm preparing to begin my week of devotions on Creation with all of epic and with some of you, my blog companions. I don't have any comments on an entry yet because I have diligently resisted my desire to read ahead. I have researched a few additional scriptures for myself that I intend to add to my devoted time regimen this coming week. I thought I'd share them. I hope this helps you get started.

By the way, there is a passage on the epic homepage too.

Job 38; Psalms 104, 148; and Isaiah 40

  © Blogger template Brooklyn by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP