DANGER: Hard-Hitting Quote Ahead

For years, a dull heaviness has lingered in my heart regarding the direction of church-life in America. Some of those concerns have made their way into my preaching/writing in small amounts, but I’ve purposely avoided focusing on them. However, during sermon prep this week, I read a quote that articulates those thoughts exactly, and I must share it. Be warned though, it may cause you to start asking questions that have unsettling answers. Are you ready? Here it is:

“…the church is so much like the world that the world takes little notice of what we do. We imitate the world’s methods; we cater to the world’s appetites; we solicit the world’s approval; and we measure what we do according to the world’s standards. Is it any wonder that we don’t gain the world’s respect?” – Warren Wiersbe

May those of us in church-life today across America commit ourselves to be the generation that made that quote no longer true.

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in Him. For all that is in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world s passing away, and the lust in it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” – John 2:15-17 NKJV

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Wisdom 24.3

“A house is built by wisdom, and it is established by understanding; by knowledge the rooms are filled with every precious and beautiful treasure.” – Proverbs 24:3 HCSB

In biblical terms, your “house” is more than a physical dwelling, it represents your family’s values and legacy. According to Jesus, a wise builder is the one who hears His sayings and does them (Matt. 7:24). That house is one anchored to solid rock; with walls able to withstand the surging tide of cultural pressure, and rooms filled with eternal treasure. What does your “house” represent today?

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Milk & Honey

The phrase “Land Flowing with Milk & Honey” is sometimes used as a metaphor to represent a “rich reward”. Originally, it was a word-picture given to the Hebrews by God to describe the Promised Land, because their future home was already well-cultivated, and full of livestock, honey-bees, fruit trees, and vineyards. However, there was an interesting event when they ate their first meal on the western side of the Jordan River; the manna ceased (Joshua 5:11-12). Of course, with the desert journey over, the manna wasn’t needed anymore, but consider the reality of it. Without manna, there would be no dependable schedule for bread ingredients each morning. They would have more variety, but would have to trust the Lord for rain, and His protection against enemies, and pestilence.

In our faith journey, there are moments when God wants to move us from manna to a more rewarding existence, but fear prevents it. The generation of Hebrews that left Egypt refused to give up the manna and safety of the desert to enter the Promised Land. They preferred to avoid the risk of defeat and eat the manna bread while longing to go back to the great food and “good ole days” of Egypt. Their children would be the ones to enter the land and the memory of the “Exodus Generation” would forever be tied to unbelief (except for Caleb and Joshua).

What is God leading you to trust Him for today? Perhaps there’s a change to make, a person to approach, a relationship to walk away from, something to admit, a conversation that needs to happen, or a “manna-crutch” needing to be let go.

Joshua was one that appreciated the manna but looked forward to God’s promise of more because he trusted the Lord. May we do the same today.

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Monday Mojo

There was a natural symphony early this morning as I sat on our back porch. At least 12 different types of birds were chirping in the woods (I lost count after 12). However, soon after sitting down, the concert was interrupted by a familiar dog barking at a nearby house. Of course, it was the irritating “yappy dog” that barks regularly, and I thought, “Isn’t this just like life. Just when you start to enjoy the harmony of sounds around you, along comes the one that makes you cringe.” I’ve actually written about the subject before and you probably have a “yappy dog” in your life too, but the reason I’m writing this post is because of what happened next.

You see, as I pondered the whole nuisance dog thing, a whip-poor-will called from the distance. It was a soft sound of reason penetrating the chaos, and a new thought came to me, “The voice of God is like that.” We sometimes get focused on the noise (even contributing to it), and all the while, the still small voice of God is calling for us to hear. Amazingly, there was still one more bird to make its presence known…a dove. Yep, believe it or not, right in the middle of the “pondering” a dove landed in our yard and this verse came to mind:

“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” – John 14:27 NKJV

  • God’s peaceful presence is real. Jesus was talking about the Holy Spirit’s coming when He made that statement. May we find serenity in Him.
  • The still small Voice still speaks. May we tune-out the “yappy dogs”, tune-in to Him, and find guidance through the chaos this week!
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In the Shadow of the Almighty

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.” – Psalm 91:1-2 NKJV

When faith is placed in the One True God, it’s more than hope, it’s a life on-deposit in the most secure location possible…the protection of the Almighty. Jesus said:

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them…My Father who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.” – John 10:27-30 NKJV

  • Be encouraged today and know that you are loved by the One who is the very definition of love.
  • Be encouraged today and know that you are protected by the One who has never been defeated.
  • Be encouraged today and know that you are guided by the One who knows the future.
  • Be encouraged today and know that you are promised a future and a hope by the One who has never broken His word…ever.

“…in Him I will trust.”

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We can easily complicate the life of faith. At times, we simply don’t have answers to all the questions, and the scriptures can be complex in certain places. However, there are many verses that need no commentary or explanation. The content may be hard to apply, but it’s straight forward in nature. Consider this one:

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law? ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind’. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” – Matthew 22:36-39 NKJV

Simple, love God and love people; however, some might say, “But you don’t know my neighbor!” That’s the point where the excuses, rationalization, justification and deflection start. Most of us would have to admit to responding that way sometimes to the “hard stuff” that costs us. Today, may we have the resolve to apply what we already know, so that through us, He can be known to others.

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Wisdom 23.17

“Don’t let your heart envy sinners; instead always fear the LORD. For then you will have a future, and your hope will never fade.” – Proverbs 23:17-18 HCSB

There’s a variety of old sayings about “the grass looking greener on the others side” because the eye that’s constantly looking for “greener pasture” never finds satisfaction. Sin promises everything, but ultimately delivers regret.

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