Just a quick note to say I will not post this week as I will be vacationing with my family at the beach! Look out Outer Banks – here we come! It is our favorite place to vacation.
What is your favorite place to vacation?
Just a quick note to say I will not post this week as I will be vacationing with my family at the beach! Look out Outer Banks – here we come! It is our favorite place to vacation.
What is your favorite place to vacation?
Last week I spent Tuesday through Friday with my wife because last Wednesday was our 20th wedding anniversary and it was absolutely fantastic time that I will always cherish. We drove to just outside of Charleston South Carolina to a place called the Middleton Inn and I owe a debt of thanks to Dusty Rayburn for the suggestion of staying on the Middleton plantation. It was an absolutely gorgeous place! We got to take a carriage ride around the plantation, walk through the gardens, sit and reflect over our years together on the grounds and at the lodge. We also spent time in Charleston walking through the market, taking a carriage ride, and just spending time together in the city. We ate at the Middleton Inn Restaurant which was a lot of fun because it is such a beautiful place and it is also an expensive type place that we normally do not eat in. We simply had an awesome time together!
I have been blessed with a wonderful and godly wife. In reality we were young and immature kids when we got married. I have been blessed to watch my wife grow into a beautiful and godly woman. She has honestly got more beautiful over the years! She has grown so much over the years in her relationship with Jesus and truly is one of the godliest women I know. She has a heart for others and desires to see them grow in their relationship with Jesus. She has a deep love for her family and is a great mother! She is honestly a fantastic Pastor’s wife! I am blessed to have married her!
In the past twenty years we have had many great times and a few rough times but through it all God has been so very good to us! We have been blessed with two great kids and we have great family and friends. We live in a culture where when things get rough we just throw in the towel and to honest when we got married we made the commitment that divorce was not an option and because of that we have forced ourselves to work through the hard times. While we were on this trip and we would tell people that we were celebrating 20 years and they would respond by how amazing it was to be married that long. A number of times we heard – “You do not see that too much these days”. How sad this is because just a generation or so ago it was not uncommon at all.
I love my wife and my life.
When I counsel couples getting married I always tell them to never make divorce an option and work through whatever the issues are and keep Christ in the center of their marriage. I want young couples to be forced to work out their problems and to do it with Christ.
What advice would you give to a young couple getting married?
Yesterday we looked at a teachable moment for David and today I just want to keep looking at 2nd Samuel Chapter 18 because there are a number points that just helpful in life. Look at verse 6 and following: 6 Then the people went out into the field against Israel, and the battle took place in the forest of Ephraim. 7 The people of Israel were defeated there before the servants of David, and the slaughter there that day was great, 20,000 men. 8 For the battle there was spread over the whole countryside, and the forest devoured more people that day than the sword devoured.
We see that the battle has spread out across the whole area and many are dying and they were from Israel’s army. We see some are dying from the sword and even more died because of the dense forest. You see, God did not have to use the swords of David’s men to bring about victory – all he needed was the branches of trees.
Look at this is starting in verse 9: 9 Now Absalom happened to meet the servants of David. For Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak. And his head caught fast in the oak, so he was left hanging between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him kept going. 10 When a certain man saw it, he told Joab and said, “Behold, I saw Absalom hanging in an oak.” 11 Then Joab said to the man who had told him, “Now behold, you saw him! Why then did you not strike him there to the ground? And I would have given you ten pieces of silver and a belt.” 12 The man said to Joab, “Even if I should receive a thousand pieces of silver in my hand, I would not put out my hand against the king’s son; for in our hearing the king charged you and Abishai and Ittai, saying, ‘Protect for me the young man Absalom!’ 13 Otherwise, if I had dealt treacherously against his life (and there is nothing hidden from the king), then you yourself would have stood aloof.” 14 Then Joab said, “I will not waste time here with you.” So he took three spears in his hand and thrust them through the heart of Absalom while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak. 15 And ten young men who carried Joab’s armor gathered around and struck Absalom and killed him.
Now interestingly there are translations that tell us that it just was not the head of Absalom that got caught in the tree branches but it was his thick head of hair that got caught in a branch as his mule went under the tree and the mule kept going and Absalom hang there by his hair. There is irony in this because his hair was a source of pride – 2 Samuel 14:25-26 says: 25 Now in all Israel was no one as handsome as Absalom, so highly praised; from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no defect in him. 26 When he cut the hair of his head (and it was at the end of every year that he cut it, for it was heavy on him so he cut it), he weighed the hair of his head at 200 shekels by the king’s weight. A quick lesson in this is this: His hair was his prideful area and so for us, we need to learn that our areas of pride could bring us death and many times they do! What is that area of pride that you have? Become teachable and rid yourself of that pride.
The soldier who came across Absalom hanging there did not dare to touch him although it looks like Joab might have offered a reward to the one who killed Absalom. He most likely did not touch him because he remembered or has heard the stories of how David has killed those who killed ones like Saul and Ishbosheth who David did not want to die. So you have Joab the commander come and ignore the directive of David to go easy on Absalom and gets three spears and sticks him with them. Absalom has done some pretty horrible things in his life and now is getting paid back with a pretty horrible death. After he gets stuck with the three spears he then has ten young men come up and stick him with swords and kill him. Imagine the pain of hanging by your hair, then being speared, and then being stuck with ten swords – a horrible death!
This is a case with Absalom of sowing and reaping. He has sown death and destruction throughout his life and now he will reap death and destruction. A principle we always needed to be reminded of is sowing and reaping – what are you sowing in words and in actions? You will reap what you sow! The teachable person learns this lesson and lives it out in positive ways, they reap the positive.
What is a positive thing that you have reaped in your life? Have you ever had really long hair and got it caught in something?
The last post we began to will deal with Jesus and His encounter with the woman at the well. What we saw was that Jesus went through Samaria because He had a divine appointment with the woman at the well. Jesus was reaching out to this woman who was an outcast in a whole region of outcast. Jesus was willing to defile himself so that he could reach out to this woman. If you do not know the story click here and read it.
Let me pick up from the last post and ask: why was this woman considered an outcast among outcasts? Why would she have to come in the heat of the day to get water? It comes down to her sin which Jesus addresses – she has had five husbands and is now living with a man who is not her husband. What we understand from this is she has been engaged in a series of illicit relationships, and she was not married to her current lover. Sexual relations outside of marriage are forbidden in both Testaments and by the way this has not changed and Jesus addresses this issue with this woman.
In Jesus addressing this we see that in God encounters, God tells the truth in love (17–18). What happens when Jesus tells her the truth in love? She does not react defensively and it is very significant that she does not react defensively to Jesus’ knowledge of her broken relationships. After Jesus confronts these relationships she then calls Jesus a prophet which affirms Jesus. What the woman does is focuses on who Jesus is because of what He says to her and does not get defensive. So her attention remains on Jesus’ person even though her sinful life is being confronted by Jesus. This focus on Jesus is a key characteristic of true faith. When you are confronted about your sin – how do you react? Do you immediately point out the sin of the other person or look to Jesus? She looked to Jesus and realized her sinfulness.
I believe this all happened because Jesus encountered her with the truth in a loving way and he did not judge her because of her past – he just pointed it out in a loving way that what she was engaged in was wrong. Do you treat people with love? Do you tell people the truth in love? Consider for a moment this quote by Warren Wiersbe – “Truth without love is brutality, and love without truth is hypocrisy.” Are you brutal with people? Are practicing hypocrisy? Let us all tell the truth but do it in love as we are told in to Ephesians 4:15.
Something else that we see in this story with this woman is that God encounters bring about true worship (23). First thing we need to realize is that in verse 20 the woman is asking where should she worship, in Jerusalem which is where the Jews worship or on Mount Gerizim which is where the Samaritans made their offerings. Jesus reveals to the woman that where a person worships is unimportant. It is not limited to a place but we should worship in spirit and in truth. Jesus is letting her know that the worship of the Father is not confined to a place but is an action of heart. Jesus also is letting her know that all worship must be in keeping with the truth of God’s revealed Word. Jesus tells her and tells us that God is spirit and those who worship him must worship Him in spirit and truth. You cannot worship in any other way.
To worship in spirit means you are concerned with the spiritual realities, not outward sacrifices, cleansings and how beautiful things look or what is done around you but what is happening inside. It is not about what is on the outside but what is going on in the inside – the Pharisees looked great on the outside but were filthy on the inside according to Jesus. Are you a Pharisee when it comes to worship? To worship in truth means you worship according to the whole council of God’s word, especially in light of the New Testament revelation of Jesus. We worship in the truth of what Jesus Christ has done for us on the cross. Let me ask you – are you worshipping in the spirit and in truth that God says to or are you worshiping what you want to think is right? We must worship the way God says not what our preferences are!
What do you believe that it means to worship in spirit and in truth? How are you at telling the truth in love?
Check me out over at Pop Parables – I was honored to do a guest post for Keri. Check it out here http://popparables.com/2012/03/project-simply-the-simpler-life-defined/
I have shared though the years on this blog my love of quotes. I want to share a number of quotes today that I find inspiring and hopefully you will find them inspiring too. Although I give you people’s quotes, it does not mean that I endorse their lives and everything that they have said and done though the years (although with some I do) but I just like the particular thing that I quote. With that enjoy the following:
Attempt Great Things for God, and Expect Great Things from God – William Carey
“We must not work God into our lives but work our lives into God." – Emily Hess Haynes
"Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence." – Helen Keller
“If you think you can or if you think you can’t either way, you are right!” – Henry Ford
"Dare to risk public criticism." — Mary Kay Ash
"There is no sadder sight than a young pessimist." — Mark Twain
"Show class, have pride, and display character. If you do, winning takes care of itself." — Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant
"I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more luck I have." — Thomas Jefferson
"Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few engage in It." – Henry Ford
"Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will." – Zig Ziglar
"Life is too short to spend your precious time trying to convince a person who wants to live in gloom and doom otherwise. Give lifting that person your best shot, but don’t hang around long enough for his or her bad attitude to pull you down. Instead, surround yourself with optimistic people." – Zig Ziglar
"Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking, "What’s in it for me?" – Brian Tracy
"The wise man in the storm prays to God, not for safety from danger, but for deliverance from fear." – R.W. Emerson
It is never too late to become what you might have been. – George Eliot
"You can make more friends in two months by becoming really interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you."- Dale Carnegie
You get the best out of others when you give the best of yourself. – Harry Firestone
"To begin to think with purpose is to enter the ranks of those strong ones who only recognize failure as one of the pathways to attainment." – James Allen
"I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." – Michael Jordan
“It is a funny thing about life, if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it” – W. Somerset Maughan
Which one of these do you like the best and why?
Today I have the blessing to have written a guest post for my friend Moe’s blog Discipulus on my view of discipleship. Please click here and jump on over.
Something I have not done in a while is give some quotes. I love quotes, all kinds of quotes from all kinds of people. I thought it would be a good change of pace for today. Here are a few of my favorite quotes for you.
This time of year we celebrate the Virgin Birth of Christ. One of the reasons we believe in the Virgin Birth has to do with the Old Testament prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 which says: 14 "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” Then in the New Testament we have the fulfillment in Matthew 1:23 which says “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” It is my belief that Matthew here is making a reference back to Isaiah 7:14 which is a good reason to understand that this is a prophecy about the coming Messiah who Matthew contents and whom I believe is Jesus.
So you might wonder today, what does this have to do with me? Sure the Bible in the Old Testament says in a prophecy that a virgin would give birth and then in the New Testament we see that Mary is a virgin and gives birth but again what does that have to do with me today in December of 2011? What difference does this make in my life. Let me share with you five reasons why I feel this is important to us today.
First, the virgin birth was necessary to fulfill Old Testament prophecy that we looked at today. Isaiah 7:14 predicts that when the Messiah shows up, he will be born of a virgin. If a prediction is made in the Bible and it does not come true then it calls into question the whole Word of God. In other words, it helps us trust the validity of the Bible as being true which we see is the case here.
Second, the virgin birth emphasizes both Christ’s humanity and deity. Christ was both since He was the unique God-man. He was one hundred percent God and one hundred percent man. The fact that Christ was born of a woman and not a man which we see in Genesis 3:15 and Galatians 4:4 emphasizes His humanity, and the supernatural element of His virgin birth emphasizes His deity. So today we have in Jesus someone who is both God and man. Since Jesus is one hundred percent man he can understand what we go through in this life. Our God understand us.
Third, Christ’s virgin birth emphasizes His eternality. Christ has always existed. There never was a time in which He was not. Had Christ experienced a natural conception, He would have had a beginning point. Yet the eternal Christ had no beginning point. This means when we worship Christ, we are worshipping the eternal God, the only one who deserves our praise and worship. We are worshipping the One who was, who is, and is to come!
Fourth, the virgin birth was necessary in order to maintain Christ’s sinlessness. The Bible indicates that Christ was the only sinless man to ever live. If Christ had a biological father, then the sin nature, which is passed down to all of us, would also have been passed down to Him at the point of conception. Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit and therefore the sin nature was not passed to Him. We have a sinless God whom we worship. We worship a perfect God!
Fifth, the virgin birth was necessary in order to protect Christ’s bodily atonement. Only an eternal God could pay the eternal penalty for man’s sin. Christ’s virgin birth protects His eternality. Also, only a perfect substitute could pay the penalty for man’s sin. God will only accept a perfect sacrifice in the place of the guilty which is all of us. Christ’s virgin birth protects His sinlessness. Therefore, the virgin birth protected both Christ’s eternality and sinlessness. Both of these elements are required for Christ to atone for the world’s sin debt. It affects us today because we who believe in Christ do not have to carry our sins around because Christ has atoned or died in our place. Christ the perfect one gave himself for us so that we could have eternal life!
The Virgin Birth is one of my favorite parts of the Christmas story and I see it as so important. Here again is why I see it as so important: the Virgin birth shows us that the Bible is true, Christ understands us because he is one of us, Christ is the eternal God, Christ is perfect, and because he was virgin born he was able to die in our place for our sins. The Virgin birth makes all the difference in the world to us today!
What is your favorite part of the Christmas story? Can you think of another reason that makes the Virgin Birth important to us in 2011?
I want to take some time and talk leadership. I want you to take a few moments and read these verses form 2nd Samuel 15 – 1 Now it came about after this that Absalom provided for himself a chariot and horses and fifty men as runners before him. 2 Absalom used to rise early and stand beside the way to the gate; and when any man had a suit to come to the king for judgment, Absalom would call to him and say, "From what city are you?" And he would say, "Your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel." 3 Then Absalom would say to him, "See, your claims are good and right, but no man listens to you on the part of the king." 4 Moreover, Absalom would say, "Oh that one would appoint me judge in the land, then every man who has any suit or cause could come to me and I would give him justice." 5 And when a man came near to prostrate himself before him, he would put out his hand and take hold of him and kiss him. 6 In this manner Absalom dealt with all Israel who came to the king for judgment; so Absalom stole away the hearts of the men of Israel.
These verses can hardly be summed up better than to say that Absalom became a politician. He spent time among the people, promising them that he would give them what they wanted, if he were only king. He endeared others to himself by giving the appearance that he was a humble servant of the people and not an arrogant king who had no time for the little people. The people loved it; they loved him. With that Absalom managed to turn the hearts of the people away from David to himself but he did it through manipulation and not through leadership.
Absalom stole the hearts of the people. Absalom’s cunning campaign worked. He became more popular and more trusted than David.
So how does he do it?
Let us take a moment and look at how Absalom does manipulated the people and how we as leaders should lead:
· Absalom carefully cultivated an exciting, enticing image with is chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him. Manipulators know how to put on a show and make things look great. Leaders just do what God calls them to do – no show needed. Manipulators are great at making a scene and leaders lead.
· Absalom worked hard by getting up early each day – manipulation is hard work and manipulators many times are hard workers – just they are not working hard for the right reasons. They are working hard for their own ways and not Gods. Leaders work for God’s ways – not their own.
· Absalom knew where to position himself which was beside the way to the gate which is where everyone would be coming and going. Manipulators know where they will get the biggest audience and who will listen to them. Leaders lead and do not worry about the audience because if they are leading in God’s ways people will follow.
· Absalom looked for troubled people or anyone who had a lawsuit and He reached out to troubled people and they would hear Absalom call to them. Manipulators know what people to go after – troubled one – Manipulators many times are complainers and they find fellow complainers and they know how to get them to follow their ways. Leaders present the vision God has given and move forward – nothing else is needed when God is the center of it.
· Absalom took a personal interest in the troubled people by asking questions like what city are you from? Manipulators know how to get people on board – they have people skills – but you learn when you are taken in by them that they are not people you want to be around for very long. Leaders allow God to put people on board and the lead with integrity, grace, and humility.
· Absalom sympathized with the person by telling them your case is good and right one – you have a strong case here. Manipulators tell people what they want to hear but leaders tell people what they need to hear – two totally different things. Leaders tell people what they need to hear not what they want to hear. A hard thing in leadership is telling people what they need to hear but it has to be done – sometimes it cost leaders their jobs.
· Absalom never attacked David directly but would say that there was no one to hear you and he left the troubled person more troubled by having them thinking that no one was there to hear them. Manipulators make sure that they create a need for themselves while leaders create a need for God.
· Without directly attacking David, Absalom promised to do better by saying Oh, that I were made judge in the land, and everyone who has any suit or cause would come to me; then I would give him justice. Manipulators make themselves the answer to the problems and leaders make God the answer to the problems. Manipulators say if people would just do it my way – Leaders say we need to be doing it God’s way.
Do you see anything else here that needs to be mentioned here with manipulators or leaders?
Who is the best leader you have been able to be lead by and what makes/made them such a good leader?