Good Grief, They’re Messin’ with My Chicken Now!

Ok…I’m mad. Attacking Chick-fil-A crosses the line and everybody knows you don’t mess with a Southerner’s chicken! Well…I’m not really mad, but I am sad…sad that godly leaders like Dan Cathy are now attacked for simply affirming biblical truth. While the hubbub about Mr. Cathy’s statement is discouraging, it does remind me (yet again) of what the Lord’s been showing me lately. If you’re interested, it’s in an earlier post asking the question: 

Pop Culture is in the Toilet, Now What?

Build a commune and string up barbed wire? Hmmm, I admit there are days when it sounds tempting, but of course is the wrong answer. With atheism, homosexuality, and other agendas on the advance, what’s a Christian to do? Simply put…live in the moments given to us, because good or bad, this is our time. The iconic leaders of the older generation will soon be gone and as the mantle is passed, we must move forward.

I sometimes think about the early Church and what they talked about with such depravity around them. I’m sure there was discouragement and worry. Of course Paul, John, and Peter wrote them encouraging letters and are often my “go-to” place, but there is also another diamond placed at the front of the Psalms that gives great clarity looking ahead. Take a look:

1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; 2But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper. 4 The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. 6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” –Psalms 1:1-6 NKJV

It should be the same for us too, drawing strength and confidence in the fact that God knows us. Through Jesus, we’ve been made one of the righteous. Here are three ways this Psalm helps me: 

  • To Find Joy in His Word – Our delight should be in His Word (v.2). To the Believer, “the Law” represents Christ’s work on the cross satisfying God’s requirements and the grace He’s shown. Prayerfully pondering the depths of His Word should be part of my life each day. Christian authors, podcasters, etc. can be great, but only the scripture is the actual revealed truth of God. Don’t sacrifice time “in the Word” for someone talking “about the Word”.
  • To Stay Healthy – The image of a tree growing and producing fruit is used many times in scripture to describe the person following God’s instructions. Paul described the workings of the Holy Spirit in us as “fruit” in Galatians 4:22-23. The most important part of a tree is the hidden root system below the surface. Our roots must sink deep and be connected to the source of living water-Christ. Conversely, if roots are shallow, then there can be stunted growth, disease, or easy destruction by a strong wind.
  • To Keep Wins/Loses in Perspective – If we’re not careful, the cultural battle can drift into terms of wins and losses. This Psalm helps me remember that God will ultimately “put things right”. There will be a day when God’s sovereignty will be on full powerful display, but it should motivate me to share, not be a reason for smugness. Yes, we should always speak truth, but in a prayerful way (Colossians 4:2-6). Bible passages aren’t bullets for a holy six-gun, but life giving seeds for new trees. 

Remember, the race is set before us (Heb. 12:1-2). Run it with confidence and be ready to share the reason for the hope that is in you (I Peter 3:15)!

3 Things this “Old Guy” Learned at Summer Camp

“Middle School Summer Camp”, yep, the phrase evokes a LOT of different emotions! For this “old guy” (what a student affectionately called me), camp was a great learning experience and a timely lesson on investing in our kids. Here are 3 quick thoughts on things the Lord taught me during the weekend. 

Dignity is overrated – It was said that we should “take God seriously, but not ourselves”. I needed that reminder. As one of the team leaders, it was good for me to get outside of my comfort zone and loosen up some. I’m by nature an intense person, but I don’t ever want to let intensity eclipse the pure joy of being set free in Christ and living in that freedom! 

Words aren’t enough – Engaging and listening helped me see the value in “connecting-the-dots” concerning biblical truth. Verbally communicating truth is a good thing; but translating truth through the language of a life is a great thing! Life is built on individual moments and my prayer is to take advantage of each one as best I can. 

The Lord always has and always will raise up new disciples – The best part was seeing first-hand how serious some of the students take their Christian walk. We must never forget Who is ultimately in charge of raising up new disciples. There’s never been a generation where the Lord forgot his Bride the Church. We should NEVER let cultural shifts weaken our expectations for great things through the lives of our children!

Overall, I’m very encouraged by the experience and am very grateful for the opportunity…woo-hoo! (Sorry, I’m still prone to yelling after our great worship times!)

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- His good, pleasing and perfect will.” -Romans 12:2 TNIV

Avoiding Heartburn this Election

*WARNING-the following has not been evaluated by the FDA 

Like many of you, I’m concerned about our nation. This year’s election is important, but hope for political solutions often results in personal heartburn. It’s been a long journey for me personally (as a former news junkie), but I’m finally learning to fix my sights beyond politics. This is what I’m learning: 

As a follower of Christ, my first priority is to be authentic, not loud. Psalm 15 describes those who dwell in the presence of the Lord as ones who:

  • Walk uprightly v.2 (having sound character and integrity, even in the “gray” areas)
  • Work Righteousness v.2 (to facilitate right and pursue activity that spreads Christ honoring attitudes)
  • Speak truth v.2 (consistently honest in both private life and public)
  • Speak no gossip v.3 (even the stuff spoken privately as a “concern”)
  • Speak no ill of a friend v.3 (a true friend)
  • Keep promises v.4-5a (even when it hurts)
  • Doesn’t take advantage of others v.5a (lending money at usury)
  • Isn’t swayed by money v.5b (takes no bribe) 

Next is to be an influencer in the world around me. Phil. 2:15 charges us to be without fault in the midst of a “crooked and perverse generation” in order to be lights. Often I find myself wanting things changed, more than wanting to be an agent of change in the lives of those I know. Peter tells us to be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us (I Peter 3:15). I must be willing to engage people in conversation in hopes of being able to share the why behind my views. 

Last is the question of honor. Psalm 15:4 says the one who dwells in His presence reserves honor “for those who fear the Lord”. That narrows the list quite a bit! Concerning “political heartburn”, this is where I believe the scripture describes avoiding the jalapeño effect of misplaced trust. Too long, we’ve looked to men to accomplish what only God can. Our problems are sin based, not party based. To be clear, I’m thankful to able to vote in November, but I’m praying for a mighty move of God in our land…it’s the only real hope for change!

Series: Psalms-Lesson 4

Dealing with Jerks & Scoundrels

Ever wondered why God doesn’t do something about the co-worker from you-know-where or the family member getting away with everything? If so, you’re not alone. In life, we often come in contact with unkind people and sometimes even those much worse. So, does the Bible have anything for us when it seems evil is winning? Yep. I recently found Psalm 10 to be a great word about it. 

How the psalmist begins is interesting. He starts with, “Why do you stand afar off?” Ever thought that? We know He is mindful of all things, but sometimes it sure doesn’t feel like it. So let’s look at how he answers his own question. 

First, he describes the mindset of Mr. Jerk and Ms. Scoundrel in verses 2-13:

2The wicked in his pride persecutes the poor;Let them be caught in the plots which they have devised. 3For the wicked boasts of his heart’s desire; He blesses the greedy and renounces the Lord. 4The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God; God is in none of his thoughts. 5His ways are always prospering; Your judgments are far above, out of his sight; As for all his enemies, he sneers at them. 6He has said in his heart, “I shall not be moved; I shall never be in adversity.” 7His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and oppression;Under his tongue is trouble and iniquity…

11He has said in his heart, “God has forgotten; He hides His face; He will never see.” 12Arise, O Lord! O God, lift up Your hand! Do not forget the humble. 13Why do the wicked renounce God? He has said in his heart, “You will not require an account.” (NKJV) 

  • No acknowledgment of God’s sovereignty (v.2-4)
  • Arrogant spirit (v.5-7)
  • No consideration of a final accounting (v.12-13)
  • A prideful heart (v.2,4,3,6,11,13) 

So why is the mindset important? It’s because it gives us insight into motive and drive. All of the negative words and actions are tied directly to the heart and only God can change that. So what does the psalmist recommend? 

  • Remember that God is still in complete control – “You have seen, for You observe trouble and grief, to repay it by your hand…” (v.14)
  • Remember that God makes decisions as King without our input – “The Lord is King forever and ever.” (v.16) 

Along with those two things, consider that it may be the Lord’s timing that’s really causing our questions. We see things in the here and now…a tiny corner of a BIG picture. Think back to when God was telling Abram about his descendents in Genesis 15. He describes their future of becoming a great nation, being slaves and then leaving in mighty power. In verse 16 He reveals a tiny clue about how He sees the bigger picture:

16But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” (NJKV) 

The destruction of the Amorites was to be over 400 years in the future. God was pronouncing judgment, but not executing it for generations…wow! That’s different and outside of our thinking because it’s God’s area of operation! Often, we just simply don’t know what the bigger picture is. Absolutely no wrong will escape judgment (II Tim. 4:1, Heb. 9:27), but it may be God allowing them additional time to repent (like the city of Nineveh did after Jonah’s preaching) or a circumstance is being developed to draw them to faith. 

So where does that leave us personally in grappling with it all? Well, verse 17 says “He will hear and prepare the heart of the humble”. I don’t know about you, but I need that…I REALLY need that! The only way for us to deal with jerks and scoundrels properly is to let the Lord be our guide. Even though a good punch in the mouth or cold shoulder may feel justified, I can’t allow myself to get pulled into the same mindset. The bottom line is we are called to ACT different, SPEAK different and THINK different, even when the pressure is on (Romans 12:1-2).

So here’s the take away: Pray for wisdom. Pray for discernment. And while you’re at it, Mr. Jerk and Ms. Scoundrel could use prayer too. God may surprise you.

Series: Psalms-Lesson 3

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