who was worn out by

A week ago, prepping for the preaching before the flock, I wrote words discussing the importance of renewal. Wrote the following:

"The first reason renewal is important to God is the same reason rest is important to God – because we need it. The Bible says in 2Cor4:16, 'Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.' Paul is describing this idea that day by day, we are worn away. This goes back to the Genesis curse again. And not only does that toil and sweat and struggle wear you down physically; it also erodes you mentally and spiritually. Busyness kills your heart, it kills your soul. And the Lord, this Shepherd of ours understands that if we are to ever reach our full potential as His children, we need that spiritual energy refreshed in the exact same way we need our physical energy refreshed. Renewal is the spiritual equivalent of physical rest."

Ironically, not only not getting the physical rest needed, but the renewal ain't happening either. Just wearing away at the edges and feeling fuzzy all around. Beginning Holy Week tomorrow after having expended my all the past three months sustaining the flock. Praying the next seven find the self recharging, renewing, restoring.


the surpassing value of

Twice in Luke2, the word "treasured" is used as a verb for Mary. Great word, that. Appears only six times in all of Word. Two times it's used as an adjective. The other four times it's used in the same manner -- this idea that spoken words by God are valuable enough to consciously store away in one's memories in the same way misers hoard precious metals. Appropriate for today as I seek to store away something told to me. And it is certainly that much more precious than any sparkly thing.


it is already a defeat for you

You can go here if you are interested in seeing how I feel today. Liar can run me down. Liar can make that clock tick tock tick tock. Liar can bring every distraction available to him to my doorstep. But all that does is lose me. He forgets that when I lose me, I gain Christ. And just like on that last day when victory becomes permanent, Lord wins. And in this week, He won to the tune of two new ones, one close one, and two returns. In case you are reading the scorecard for Sunday, liar, it goes something like: Lord: 5, liar: -5, me: 1 used vessel.


can I not follow You right

I suppose I can appreciate the irony. Preach one day on rest, spend the next three days not getting any. Don't know how to read the "coincidence". Possibly as a sign from Lord that I need to do a better job of following my own advice. Possibly as a sign from liar that he believes he controls me and can keep me from following my own advice. Possibly as a sign from myself that I am not perfectly where I intend to lead the others to. Whatever the case, needs to end soon.


not man for the sabbath

"God of Rest & Renewal" {Ps23:1-3} [Updated version of the original]
* Intro
- Summary of other attributes
- Purpose of sabbatical: R&R
- R&R available to all through our great, big God
* Ps23:1
- Declares transcendence of God
- Declares immanence of God
- States LORD's attribute as Shepherd
* Ps23:2 -- first responsiblity of Shepherd? Rest
* Importance of rest to God
- Lord rested on 7th day {Gen2:1-3}
- 4th Commandment {Ex20:8-1}
- Penalty for breaking 4th was death {Ex35:2}
* Why rest so important?
- We need it
- Originally created to rest
- Prepares us for other activities
- To have time to reflect & spend time w/ Lord {Mark6:30-32}
* Ps23:3 -- second responsibility? Renewal
* Why renewal so important?
- We need it {2Cor4:16}
- To become more like Christ {2Cor5:17}
* What does rest & renewal look like?
- Sabbath an attitude of heart
- Leisure not rest
- Sin can prevent us from rest
- Renewal not more of the same
- True rest & renewal only available through Christ
* Application
- Unrested? Rest
- Unchanged? Change
- Unbelieve? Believe


broken off for their unbelief

The day after the first time round filled me with a different set of emotions than what is currently making its home inside my spirit. Didn't expect the same rush, no, but didn't expect this. It is like a hollow shell filled with the weight of the world, a burden of sorrow for the lost, especially my lost, that hurts in ways I suppose it is supposed to hurt. Always supposed to have this burden, sure. But I can't imagine to this intensity always. Unless maybe so.


have seen your salvation

From today. You need to hear this, my friend. You really do.

Jesus says in John 10, “I am the Good Shepherd; the Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” That was Jesus’ mission on earth – to lay down His life for you. The most important question that you will need to answer during your life is will you accept Christ as your Shepherd, or won’t you? If you don’t, you will be separated from God for all eternity. But if you choose yes, all of the rich promises of our great, big God are available to you. The Bible says He will shield you. He will defend you. He will strengthen you. He will deliver you. He will rescue you. He will light your way. He will bear your burdens. He will lead you beside still waters. And yea, though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you will fear no evil, for the LORD your Shepherd will be with you.

Next Sunday is April 1st, a date set aside to nationally recognize fools. The great missionary Jim Eliot once said, “They are no fools who give what they cannot keep to gain what they cannot lose.” You will not live forever; your physical life will one day cease. But if you give that life over to Jesus today, you will be trading your perishable life for one that will not end, one you cannot lose.

Today you can meet your salvation if you put your faith in Christ. And if you do that the Bible says “that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, nothing will be able to separate you from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus.” You will enjoy eternal rest and renewal if you turn over your life to Christ right now. And if you do that, my friend, the Bible says that all of Heaven will rejoice, and surely goodness and mercy will follow you all of the days of your life, and you will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Take His outstretched, nail-pierced hand today, my friend, and see it where it leads you.


so that you may become sons of light

From tomorrow:

A holy God sees us as we truly are: wretched creatures enslaved by sin. But one of the great things about our God is that He doesn’t see us just for our ugly sinfulness; He also sees what beauty can be wrought from us. The great artist Michelangelo is famous for his sculpture David among other things. When asked to describe how he created such works of beauty out of large slabs of ugly stone he replied that he was simply removing pieces of stone from the figure he could see inside the rock.

At dinner a few weeks ago, my daughter got really excited and pointed to the windowsill in the kitchen. She and my son had picked a bunch of weeds and given it to my wife as a present. Being the good mother that she is, my wife placed the weeds in a little vase on the windowsill. Now there was another little vase behind the vase of weeds that contained an actual flower. But from my daughter's vantage point at the dinner table, she saw a flower growing among the weeds, and she was excited to see such beauty grow from them.

Both the Michelangelo story and the flower in the weeds story are analogies of how the Lord sees you. Amidst the hardness of the stone of your heart, He sees a masterpiece. Amidst the weeds of sin and darkness that comprise your being, He sees a thing of beauty. The Lord doesn’t just see a sinner; no, the Lord sees a sinner saved by grace. The Lord sees you with Christ-colored glasses. The Lord sees what you can become through Him, and that beauty is not yet in you, but He sees it, and He rejoices, and He shepherds you down paths that are meant to make you that something wonderful. Our great, big God, our Shepherd wants you to become something wonderful. And that something wonderful means becoming more and more like Christ.


did not choose Me but I chose

Thinking today about the term "balance of power". Aware that at every turn, I have power that is expressed with every choice. Balance of power in each case tips twixt should and shouldn't. Easy to see those choices twixt good and evil, but not every decision is a moral one. Some choices are matters of good and something less than that but not yet evil. A lot of power at my fingertips. But like the distraction avoided yesterday, conscious of that power, and because of that, less desirous of choices that are something less than what they need to be. Makes no sense to you, sure. But consider what choices you can make at every turn and then ask yourself whether or not the making of those choices represents something, something at all.


as not without aim

I will not be distracted by your best efforts. You are welcome to hit where it hurts, but I will not be distracted. Your best efforts can wound, and they can wound deep, but they cannot hit their mark of distraction. Not when I am acutely aware of the efforts. Was so much easier when the fight wasn't conscious, wasn't it? Sorry, liar. Bigger tasks await me.


leaning back thus on Jesus

Need to be reminded about something I penned almost exactly two years ago. Been letting liar get to me these past few days/weeks, letting him lead me to feelings I don't need to feel. I have nothing to do with this Sunday; this Sunday is all for His glory. And I can trust that He will not let His glory be dimmed. I need not do anything save be prepared to be used, be prepared to be some vessel. And liar can continue to tire this vessel out, can continue to drop those grains of sand, can continue to sap the will. But this will be the ultimate reliance on the Spirit. And you will never go wrong with that.


all that had happened

Reflecting on a, let's just call it different experience at work this am. Completing an exercise meant to put faces on faceless colleagues, had to contemplate the highs and lows of life. Then had to share these extremes aloud, and listen to the sharing of others.

Always considered pride to be the biggest of my issues. It shouldn't be the case, but it is, that I need to be reminded that the world does not revolve around me. That when I do not see a person for some time, that that person did, in fact, still have his/her own thoughts and life that continued in my absence. That prior to meeting me, people have their own histories and experiences.

I'm not so prideful that I believe these things shouldn't be or aren't true. What is interesting to me is the feeling I feel when I contemplate the personal lives of others: sadness.

I'm not sure why that is, other than because I want to be there at every one of their minutes. I want to have experienced those highs and lows with them. This is true, apparently, even for people I have little strong emotion for. It is not pride in me forcing me to believe that I am some center of some universe. Rather, I am beginning to see this as sadness that I could not be part of it -- not sadness for them for not having me, but sadness for me not having them.


and the leading men among the people

Only speaking of shepherds with a little "s" right now, and not the Good Shepherd. Just making sure you knew that I knew what you knew.

Working hard these past few months to be a shepherd in the absence of the shepherd. As time runs out on the absence, thinking about what that might mean for the hard work going forward. Would be easy to view the feverish pushing of the past few months as a temporary push, with the acknowledgment that upon return from the absence, the pushing could be decreased.

Beginning to realize that perhaps that pushing, that feverishness meant for the long haul. That this absence wasn't meant for me to simply push hard for a short term, but rather for me simply to push hard, the start of a long haul. To learn the lesson that shepherding is not some field trip, but a calling that goes from here to there.


O Lord God of hosts, who is like You

"How to Understand God"
* Intro:
- Knowing about Him good step in knowing Him
- Misunderstandings can ruin relationships
- "Almost all, if not all, theological heresies and wrong practices are based in some way upon an imbalance in understanding between the transcendence and immanence of God." -- Dr. Jack Willsey
* We must understand God's transcendence {Isa6:1-5; Isa55:8-9; Ps113:5-6; John8:23}
- God is separate from & independent of nature & humanity; He is wholly other
- Reverence, awe, & wonder appropriate in our relationship w/ Him
- We can expect His transcendent works in our lives (miracles)
* We must understand God's immanence {Jer23:24; Hag2:5; Matt6:26-30; Acts17:28}
- God is present & active within all nature, human relationships, & history
- God's Providence
- God's Divine Plan
* We must have balance
* Consequences of losing transcendence
- Easy to treat Him like other people
- Humanism & relativism
- "How am I enjoying worship" vs "How is He enjoying my worship"
* Consequences of losing immanence
- Easy to feel distant from Him
- Deism & Open Theism
- God as giant policeman or parent
* More good stuff
* Application: Greatest display of His transcendence & immanence? Jesus Christ {Heb1:3}


but to save the world

Unless you are a golf fan, you probably missed this story.

Friend, if you don't know Christ, you are this Tom Johnson after making a mistake. You did your best to recover, and it won't be enough. Relying on others? Won't work. Your best? Not enough. The penalty you are faced with for your sins, though, can't be measured in small additions to a scorecard. That penalty is eternal darkness apart from God.

But sacrifice can save you. And that sacrifice won't be earned or deserved. And that sacrifice will cost another person a penalty. And that other person? That other person will gladly bear that penalty. That other person? That other person would gladly bear it a hundred more times just for you.

That other person is Jesus Christ.

And He doesn't even desire your thanks. He desires for you to come with Him for eternity, to join Him in a friendship beyond anything else you know. That penalty is taken care of. Your eternal destiny can be taken care of, too, if you place your faith in Christ. That choice is more difficult than a club choice, yes. And that choice will require far more obedience than a simple game of leisure. But what you get in return is eternal. Will you make that choice today?


fixing our eyes on

The end of Gen45 has an interesting v. Israel is told of his missing son Joseph in Egypt, and he replies, "It is enough; my son Joseph is still alive. I will go and see him before I die."

The man has an existing family to think of. The man has his own old age and comfort to think of. The man has a famine around him to think of. The man has a foreign country and a long journey to think of. The man has this incredible story of death-turned-into-life to think of. But his response is not to focus on himself. His reply is to focus on the son. There is a single-mindedness there that is admirable.

Focus on the Son. Your quick lesson for today.


you may become sons of light

At dinner tonight, one of the sweet things spied a flower sitting behind a pot of picked weeds delivered as a gift. A grin worth your life broke out, and she rejoiced at believing the flower to be growing from within the weeds.

Wonderful analogy of how the Lord sees you. Amidst the weeds of sin and darkness that comprise your being, He sees a thing of beauty. And like in the analogy, that flower actually does not have its roots within your shadows. Rather, that growth comes from beyond you. Lord sees what you can become through Him, and that beauty is not yet in you. But He sees it, and He rejoices, and that joy is worth your life.


listen; why do you want to

I've opined on the subject of service as it relates to calling before (the rest of the thought here: Pt 2, Pt 3, Pt 4, Pt 5, Last Pt). Yesterday, asked a brother what his motivation was for service. The reply was "convenience" -- he was around and free, so why not?

In some circles that might pass for an adequate answer. Especially in those circles that consist of folks gifted with Helps. And to those, serving for the sake of serving is sound theology, and a perspective that honors God, the Servant King.

Hard to argue with that. But in teaching on 1Cor11, and finding that that much abused chapter has nothing to do with oppression and Communion as much as it does worship, and I find myself drawn to a different point of view. If Lord cares not a whit about action, and only about intention of the heart -- same reason only faith and not works gets you a ticket to eternity, by the way -- I think service without the calling reaps not what you think it might. Serve if called to serve and if desirous of obedience. But serving because you can? Gut tells me that energy burned could have been used more valuably another place.


places seeking rest, and

Spoke to a brother this morning, and immediately felt many of the thoughts swirling in my head clarified. I expressed the concept of "not doing it for the Lord." Easy for Christians to get wrapped up in service: because of a desire to obey, because of a desire to do good, in response to a pulpit command. And all of these reasons are good reasons to be active in a church. But what if the obedience calls for you to do nothing? What if the best way to serve is to let others serve? What if the pulpit command is asking you to take that rest He wants you to take?

Human beings are instilled with a desire to do. Same reason many feel they can earn their way to eternity. It is not human instinct to do nothing, regardless of sloth being included in the seven.

Lord calls for you to rest. In fact, He commands you to do so. If not on Sundays while you buzz buzz buzz in His service, than it better be some other express time when your wings are put to rest. Resting is not reserved for those with AARP cards. Consider not doing anything for Him.


not of yourselves, it is the gift of

"Crying Out for Grace" {Luke18:35-43}
* Intro: Easy to give mercy; harder to extend grace
* Grace: from Greek root related to "I rejoice. I am glad."
* 8 refs in OT, but 122 refs in NT
* Grace is what motivates missionaries
* God's grace is personal
- Not just "for world" or "for mankind" but for you
- Rom3 paints contrast of what we were like prior to grace
* God's grace is overwhelming & transforming
- "Healed" in Luke18 = sozo = saved, rescued
- We often downplay significance of miracles
- Heb4:16: throne of grace approachable
* God's grace is contagious
- Bartimaeus (& demoniac et al) immediately follow after miracles
- Grace causes us to no longer sit on our hands
- "When He grabs a hold of us, we have an obligation to spread that love to others."
- "I am a great sinner, but Christ is the Great Savior."
- Acts4:32: Result of grace upon all? Many saved.


brought forth all at once

Difficult period of time today watching joy mixed with sadness, happiness mixed with pain, mixed emotions on multiple levels extending tears across spectra of feeling. Watched lives celebrating beginnings touched by ones headed toward ends. Thought about how emotions never make it so easy by appearing alone and isolated; rather they prance with partners, and that swirling is not so easy to comprehend. Like the Lord's character is not some sum of individual parts, the heart struggles with its multi-facetedness in ways I still struggle to bring to peace.


turned around and saw Jesus

In a movie I watched a few years ago, there is a machine that when hooked up to Professor X, allows him to sense all the mutants in the world as colored beings (I forget red or blue). Thinking of the day before the flock and thinking of the ones that may attend and had an image of some of them as red in a sea of blue and imagined the message and imagined the message and imagined them switching from red to blue and I could not contain my joy.

Praying for reds to become eternal blue.


and do you not remember

End of Gen40 says "Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him." Would be very easy for me to not relate to this v, as I have a memory that makes steel traps wish they weren't included in the cliche. More often than not, my memory serves to unnerve me or hurt me or cloud me. Would be very easy to think ill of this cupbearer since a major event like another man predicting your restoration wouldn't seem like something easily forgotten.

Have spoken in the past about spiritual blindness; thinking today of spiritual amnesia.

How often have I forgotten the Lord's blessings on me while I openly sin? How often have I forgotten Calvary when I deny His name? How often have I forgotten the Shepherd when I wander off the trail?

Would be easy to distance myself from the cupbearer as if he were not me. But I'd be running away from a mirror.


be sure of this, that

Vivid representation of a hotly contested issue. What I remember from the vividness is the sense of surprise and fear and urgency and desperation. But then the return. And then the sense of reassurance and joy and sadness at having almost lost and urgency and desperation. Faith is never about what you feel to be right. Lord always has the choice to do what He wants. But thankful for the reminder that without that certainty, you have nothing, you have nothing.


will follow me all the days of my life

Not going into my entire history with this hymn, or why I find it so compelling, or why it continues on repeat on my iPod -- it could be its own sermon series -- but you need to reflect on the lyrics:
My Shepherd will supply my need:
Jehovah is His Name;
In pastures fresh He makes me feed
Beside the living stream.
He brings my wandering spirit back
When I forsake His ways,
And leads me, for His mercy's sake,
In paths of truth and grace.

When I walk through the shades of death,
Thy presence is my stay;
A word of Thy supporting breath
Drives all my fears away.
Thy hand, in sight of all my foes,
Doth still my table spread;
My cup with blessings overflows,
Thine oil anoints my head.

The sure provisions of my God
Attend me all my days;
O may Thy house be my abode,
And all my work be praise!
There would I find a settled rest,
While others go and come;
No more a stranger, nor a guest,
But like a child at home.


were listening to these things

Seeing me plugged into my iPod, a colleague asked me what songs changed my life. He proffered his, the usual suspects of the Beatles, U2, Nirvana, and other popularly recognized pieces of critical acclaim. I responded that the question didn't make sense to me. Songs don't change lives. They might be appreciated for their great beauty. They might even shed light on an issue, give you a fresh perspective. But songs don't change lives.

Later, plugging back in, a familiar favorite hymn came through and I could physically feel a difference, could feel myself drawn toward the throne. Recognized, then, that music certainly can affect you in very clear and direct ways. Perhaps even draw you to the throne. And approaching the throne, what is that if not life-changing?


but your time is always

"God is Eternal & Unchangeable"
* Intro
- Prayer at its foundation is conversation w/ God
- Important to appreciate who He is as we approach Him
- Lord can't be compartmentalized -- no separation twixt love/grace, justice/compassion, et al; can only comprehend individual attributes and hope to better understand the whole
- Lord greater than sum of individual parts
* Our eternal & unchangeable God
- Eternality critical to His character
- Forgiven not just today, but yesterday, today, and forevermore
* God reveals His eternal nature in His name, YHWH
- Precursor in Gen21:33
- I AM {Ex3:13-15}: not even pronounced by Hebrews, so revered
- I AM translates beyond temporal: I AM who I AM can also be I WILL BE who I WILL BE
- Continuity by Christ {John8:58}
* OT refs
- Deut33:27: eternal God our refuge
- Ps90:1-2,4: time in His hands
- Ps102:25-27: Lord will outlast this world
- Isa46:9-10: His will also supersedes time
- Mal3:6: Lord not whimsical like earthly kings
* NT refs
- Rom1:20
- 1Tim1:17
- Heb13:8: Jesus same yesterday, today, forever
- Heb9:14: Spirit eternal
* What on earth also eternal and unchangeable?
- His Word {Ps119:89,160; Prov30:5-6}
- His people {John3:16; 2Thes1:8-9}
* Application
- Receive eternal life {John5:24}
- Worship the eternal, unchangeable God
- Seek His view -- eternal perspective
- 2Cor4:16-18: Trial meant to make you something more eternally beautiful


at the table in the house

A few excerpts from tomorrow:

But the symbolic reminder of the broken body and the shed blood of the very Son of God for our sins? Well, what this table represents is absolutely beyond any sort of conversation about price, isn’t it? The idea of "price", the value we place on something, is important to think about when at the Lord’s Table.

But God looked at our situation, God looked at the impossibility of us ever atoning enough for our sin, He looked at the hopelessness of our futures, He looked at the eternal separation from Him that was our destiny, God looked at us and said, “But I love them. But I love them. What would I pay, what price would I pay to save the ones I love?” John 3:16 tell us: “For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son . . .” God said, “What would I pay? What price would I pay to save the ones I love? I would give my one and only Beloved Son to save them.”

That’s why the Lord’s table is no ordinary table; that’s why the Lord’s table is precious, it’s symbolism is priceless. Because the bread represents His broken body, and the juice represents His shed blood – both are beyond any sort of conversation about price.


is easy and my burden is light

Shouldn't trouble me that my troubles are less than troubles compared to those of others, should it? Certainly I have had my share of major troubles. Frankly, you could qualify 67% of my years as falling under the major category, with a 2-3 year period qualifying with distinction. If they awarded some sort of negative medal system, I'd be getting pinned.

Why then feel any guilt over relative lack? Shouldn't feel the need to come over the top. Shouldn't even feel the need to keep up. The natural reaction should be, PTL another great week. Probably linked to more recent obedience and listening. Recognition that coming down the pipe is probably a few curves that will even things up relatively, no doubt. But for now, no guilt. Simply the nodded acknowledgment that right now, yeah, these may not seem like much, and I'm glad for it.


nothing covered up that will not be

Been doing my best to ignore the nonsense surrounding this show. Already know that MSM hates God. Already know that MSM never gets religion reporting right. And already know not much on TV worth watching (with a few exceptions). Not worth covering, really.

Only reason I'm bringing it up is because of this. More proof that where MSM doesn't altogether make stuff up to screw over people's understanding of religion, when they do make stuff up and are caught in their lies, they simply ignore the reaction and the truth altogether.

Note to MSM: On JDay, Lord won't be turning any blind eyes to anything. And that reaction you won't be able to control.