The Dash Movie

A great way to start a new week.  What will matter in the next seven days?  If you do not get to complete them, will you have anything of significance to show for the ones you lived through?  How are you fulfilling the dash between your birth date and the day that you enter eternity?  This is a powerful, thoughtful, beautiful message.  Click here.

For it matters now how much we own…

The cars,

The house,

The cash…

What matters is how we live and love,

And how we spend our dash.

Twitteresque: “The Hound of Heaven”

“Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee save Me, save only Me? All which I took from thee I did but take, not for thy harms. But just that thou might’st seek it in my arms. All which thy child’s mistake fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home; Rise, clasp My hand, and come!” ~~”The Hound of Heaven” by Francis Thompson (1859-1907)

Free Gospel Lesson

Now is the time to teach your children about the greatest Gift of the season.  Here is a free gospel lesson that is simple, yet thorough.  The pdf file includes teacher’s instructions as well as a timeline visual for the children to complete.  Click the logo to go there.

I Love Me

Light_Make_Up_MirrorDo you eat daily?  Clothe yourself?  Take a bath occasionally?;)   Dislike criticism? Dress for the weather? Own a mirror? Wear a seatbelt? Have any magazine subscriptions? Enjoy desserts? Get upset when others misunderstand you? Frequently feel the need to prove you are right? Wear makeup?  Color your hair?  Paint your nails? Brush your teeth?  Save for a rainy day?  Enjoy prosperity, prominence and promotion?

At the root of all these things is a love for self.  This is one of the topics we discussed at the Gemstone Conference.  Here is a great quote on the topic from Tozer:

“The labor of self-love is a heavy one indeed. Think whether much of your sorrow has not arisen from someone speaking slightingly of you. As long as you set yourself up as a little god to which you must be loyal, how can you hope to find inward peace?”

Even someone who says they hate themselves, truly is manifesting a great degree of self love, because he or she is not ____________ or does not have _________________ or cannot be ________________. It is an ironic demonstration of selfish discontent.

Is loving self wrong?  Well, while egocentricity is never admonished in scripture, it is a given that we will love ourselves (Mt. 19:19; Eph. 5:29);  but if we live in observance of  Phil 2:3 and esteem others better than ourselves, and also follow the admonition to love as God Himself loves (Jn 15:12)–selflessly, sacrificially, unconditionally– self will not be preeminent.  That’s a tall order.  When you study the attributes of agape as given in 1 Cor 13, you can certainly understand why the next chapter states that we need to “follow after” or (per the Amplified Bible) “eagerly pursue and seek to acquire these things.”  A great marriage takes work…a grand love relationship with  Almighty God requires self-denial, perseverance, and humility.  We are seeking to know and emulate Someone who is, as J.I. Packer says, “totally other.”

How Can I Get God to Love Me More?

clap-copy_011Wow, so many folks have got this one all catty-wampus.  I will be starting Jerry Bridges’ “Transforming Grace” this week, and I am already eager to share what I learn.  In the meantime, I just listened to a great couple of sermons by Jim Binney entitled, “When God Smiles”, which helps to put this in perspective.  Here is the link for Part One, concentrating mainly on various aspects of patience.  Part Two continues on through the list in 2 Corinthians 6:4-10. 

Some valuable ideas from my notes:

  1. The very ammunition that the devil uses to attack you are the things that bring a smile to the face of God.
  2. What man values is performance, productivity, fruitfulness…these are absent from this list of what is necessary to be approved by God.
  3. Jesus looks at what each servant begins with, and compares it with what they end with…no comparison between servants.
  4. When you’re getting kicked in the rear, it means you are in the lead. :)

“To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” Eph 1:6

Pure, Unbounded Love Thou Art

LOVE only can the conquest win,

The strength of sin subdue;

Come, O my Saviour, cast out sin,

And form my soul anew.

CHARLES WESLEY

We readily recognize that it is preferable for our children to obey out of love, rather than out of duty.  Why don’t we get it–that God desires the same thing?  Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”  The implication is that obedience will be the natural outgrowth of love.  So, then, if we are not living a life characterized by obedience, what is this saying?  The love is not there.  Is love passively bestowed upon us at salvation, like getting poinked on the head with a magic wand?  No, it is an outgrowth of a heart filled with gratitude.

When gratitude dies on the altar of a man’s heart, that man is well-nigh hopeless. ~Dr. Bob Jones Sr.

So true.  An ungrateful heart does not understand its indebtedness.  It does not see  that it owes anyone anything.  It is forgetful of its frailty.  It does not beseech, it demands.  It does not consider the greatness of the Gift.  If you are feeling dull regarding your own gratitude level, read what He has to say about you, how He views sin, how deeply He loves you, how freely He offers His forgiveness.

He has flung the doors of Paradise open for us, and places the key in our destitute and empty hands.  He alone makes it possible to stand before God Almighty with boldness.   This is “love divine, all loves excelling.”

Amazing, amazing grace.

Never, Never, Never, Never, Never

I recently made up a little scripture chorus for Hebrews 13:5 for our kids at church.  This is an important message, especially in our generation where homes are too often split and confidence is fragile:  “I will never leave thee.”

Do you realize that these familiar words from a hymn text are not merely artistic or poetic–they are quite literal:

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.~John Rippon, 1787

I love hymn texts that are rich in scriptural accuracy.  Here is what Elisabeth Elliott says about the scripture reference, Hebrews 13:5:

I will never, never, never, never, never (the Greek has five negatives) leave you or forsake you,” is his promise. At times we may be overcome with a feeling of helpless forsakenness. This is surely not from the loving Father, but from the father of lies. The best way to answer that “father” is the way Jesus answered when tempted by Satan: “It is written.” Take God’s own promise with its five negatives and hold on.

The Lone Sparrow

sparrowsThey are common.  They are not flashy.  They are so numerous, it is easy to disregard them.  That is the whole point in the words of our Lord in Matthew 10 and Luke 12:

“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.” Mt. 10:29

I have written before on the difference between the above verse and the one in Luke:

“Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?” Lk. 12:6

It seems these little creatures are so non-descript, so seemingly insignificant that one extra could be thrown into the  bargain.  The point here is that, if God is ever-mindful of even the most plain and passable (to us) of His creation, then surely (obviously, without question) we are of much more value, being created in His very image.  That is monumental truth in itself.  Something else has come to me this morning about this, though.

One sparrow.  Our Lord mentions one sparrow falling.  Alone.  Sparrows are, by nature, gregarious.  Often–almost always– they are seen in large crowds, gaily fluttering and fraternizing with one another on city sidewalks or among the trees.  They are not solitary animals, as eagles tend to be.

Not only is our heavenly Father mindful of your suffering, but He is also sensible of the loneliness that pain can bring.  The feelings of isolation.  He knows.  Jesus was alone on Calvary’s cross.  No one at the foot of it could aptly enter into His suffering.  They could feel sorrow; but they could not empathize.  Not one of them knew what it meant for Him to feel all the pain and anguish, and then to have it all compounded exponentially by the great aching chasm of sin that thrust itself between Him and His own Father.  Their incomprehensible oneness must needs have been “rent in twain” temporarily so that, for our sakes, the veil of the temple could be as well–permanently.

“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” Heb 4:15

Never, never allow the adversary to tempt you into asking, “Does He really care?  Does He really know?”

That is why He came, little sparrow.

The Slaying of Self

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Amy Carmichael

“I wish thy way.
And when in me myself should rise,
and long for something otherwise,
Then Lord, take sword and spear
And slay.”~Amy Carmichael

Are you willing to take things this far?  When it comes to self-denial, will you say, “Lord, it is rising up again!  Kill it, sever it–whatever pain I may have to experience”.

I have experienced this demand for the snuffing out of self more this past year than ever.  More avenues than I thought existed have arisen in myself…roads leading to what I want, with perhaps only a backward glance at the perfect will of God as I know it in His Word.  Day by day struggles, hour by hour, minute by minute…even second to fleeting second.  As we draw closer to the Lord and seek His Word, our sensibilities to these self-barrages are heightened to a deafening crescendo.  I plug my ears, as Pilgrim did, and run from my sinful self-destructiveness crying, “Life!  Life!  Eternal life!” Continue reading

Conversation on Forgiveness

j0178785We deal with forgiveness issues almost daily at our house.  I am trying to instruct my children regarding what biblical forgiveness “looks like” in reality, and a couple of instances have been before me for months. 

Sometimes I battle with granting forgiveness because I have an inflated sense of entitlement, and sometimes it is because the circumstances or offenses are simply hurtful to bear.  Sometimes it is my wounded pride that gets in the way when there is an unfounded accusation.  What I am learning is that forgiveness is a process, not merely a choice.  

I have been trying to make my way through “Choosing Forgiveness” by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.  It is an excellent treatment of this topic that so many of us struggle with, whether or not we openly acknowledge it.  What I appreciate about her book is that she targets most every scripture passage there is regarding forgiveness in order to understand the players and the process.   It is so crucial to look at scripture for the answers to these deep heart issues.  Our emotions skew our judgement, and, our judgement is skewed by the deceitfulness of our hearts.  We have no other reliable recourse but the living, discerning Word.

Recently on the Sharper Iron blog I had a brief discussion with an online friend (her own blog is here , and I discovered she is talking about this idea as well–go see) that went like this:

One passage that I have been meditating on is Luke 7:36-50. In this passage the Lord forgives the sinful woman of her sins. The phrase that won’t leave my mind is what Jesus says “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven-for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” How forgiveness and love are intermingled is something that will not leave my thoughts. Yet the forgiveness and grace the Lord gives us is motivated by love. Continue reading