Monday, June 29, 2009

RIP Cleo

Sad day - Cleo (Jonathan's Ball Python) died today. There were tears. But she will be remembered (and immortalized in video below!).

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Quote..., but yet we must also aspire for the Lord.

"Be content to be nothing, for that is what you are. When your own emptiness is painfully forced upon your consciousness, chide yourself that you ever dreamed of being full, except in the Lord." - Charles Spurgeon

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Forgiven souls are humble

“Forgiven souls are humble. They cannot forget that they owe all they have and hope for to free grace, and this keeps them lowly. They are brands plucked from the fire – debtors who could not pay for themselves – captives who must have remained in prison for ever, but for underserved mercy – wandering sheep who were ready to perish when the Shepherd found them; and what right then have they to be proud? I do not deny that they are proud saints. But this I do say – they are of all God’s creatures the most inconsistent, and of all God’s children the most likely to stumble and pierce themselves with many sorrows.”

- J.C. Ryle"

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Judging Judgmentalism

Few attitudes derail spiritual awakening more than judgmentalism. We hear the prophetic call to humble ourselves and draw near to God. We feel the conviction and sorrow for having spurned the god who loves us to pursue the idols of the world. We passionately pursue repentance. We resolve to live for the glory of God.

But then we lose focus. Our eyes shift from the God who calls us to spiritual awakening to those around us. Why aren't they passionate pursuing God like we are? Why haven't they repented of _____ (insert personal conviction here) like we have? "Harrumph", we say, "they must not be as spiritual as we are!" Judgment sets in. Spiritual Pride emerges. Heartfelt repentance and renewal is derailed!

Judgmentalism derails spiritual awakening, exposes our hypocrisy, puts us above the law, quenches love for others, and makes us to be God! (James 4:10-12)

The key to ongoing spiritual awakening is ongoing personal humility. We only draw near to God when our eyes remain on Him. We have plenty to do in cleansing our own hands and purifying our own hearts! And as the Lord molds our hearts to the passions of Christ, we see others in new ways. Not as irritants to judge, but as beloved brothers and sisters to love and encourage.

And as others see your humble pursuit of God, they will want to join you! (Zechariah 8:20-23)

The well wisher of your soul's happiness,

Pastor Tom

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Getting to the Heart of Conflict

Today I am going to call upon one of my "mentors from afar", C.J. Mahaney, to share a few words about conflict from James 4. C.J. is a great pastor, author and speaker. But most of all he is a great lover of Jesus Christ and a humble servant of Christ's church. These words were taken from a message entitled "Cravings and Conflict". If you like these thoughts plead follow the links below for the "rest of the story".

"Do you tend to minimize your relational conflicts? Do you attribute them to something superficial, or entirely to someone else? Or do you seek to evaluate your conflicts from a divine perspective?

When, after years of denial, baseball player Pete Rose finally acknowledged betting on the game while manager of the Cincinnati Reds, his apology was as follows: "I'm sure that I'm supposed to act all sorry or sad or guilty now that I've accepted that I've done something wrong, but you see, I'm not built that way. So let's leave it like this. I'm sorry it happened. I'm sorry for all the people, fans, and family it hurt, let's move on."

Let's move on. All too often, this can be my approach to resolving relational conflict. There's a degree of sorrow, but it's superficial. And the accent of guilt is on the other individual. As for me, I just want to "move on."

But this passage confronts me: "There's no moving on yet, pal. Where do you think you're going? Come back here, please. Let's have no 'Pete Rose type' confessions among those who profess to love and serve Jesus Christ—but rather confessions that proceed from a genuine awareness of our sin against God."

James 4 can transform how we respond to relational conflict. A divine perspective will keep us from minimizing conflict, help us avoid vague, superficial confessions, and prevent us from prematurely moving on, leaving unresolved conflict in our wake. Through this passage we understand that to engage in quarrels and fights is to sin against a holy God. Conflict is more serious than we think.

The well wisher of your soul's happiness,

Pastor Tom

"Cravings and Conflict" – PDF - C.J. Mahaney

"Cravings and Conflict" – MP3 - C.J. Mahaney

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Who is Wise and Understanding?

Our culture is all accelerating test scores and accumulating degrees. We fret over FCATs, SATs, ACTs, and IQ's. We parcel out esteem in proportion to the number of degrees a person holds. Someone once said, "We know more and more about less and less, soon we will know everything about nothing"!

I am not knocking education at all. We are called to love God with all our mind! But we seem to think that education is next to godliness. We all know people who are theologically right in all the wrong ways.

When God assesses how wise and understanding a person is, the criteria is not a standardized test, but a life well lived. And this has always been the case. This week I discovered a clue to wisdom and understanding in a surprising place - Deuteronomy 4:5-8

"See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, 'Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.' For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?"

Do you see what the Lord is saying? Wisdom and understanding are measured by lives lived in the ways of the Lord! God's commands are not a rigid set of restrictions, but a path to true wisdom and understanding. We gauge wisdom by the way we our lives, as pleasing to the Lord. What does that look like? Read the words of Jesus' little brother:

"But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere." James 3:17

That's sounds like a pretty good life to me. So if you want to grow in wisdom, knowledge, understanding then pick up a good solid book and read a bit (nothing wrong with that!). But then put it down and go sow some peace in all your relationships! (James 3:18)

The well wisher of your soul's happiness,

Pastor Tom