Monday, June 30, 2014

Hate and Blindness

1 John 2:11 (ESV) 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. 

We are quick to say, oh, I don't hate him. I don't hate her. I don't have anything against him. But we are too quick to let ourselves off the hook. That's dangerous.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A prayer for early in the morning


Psalm 119:145–152 (ESV)
145  With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O Lord!
I will keep your statutes.
146  I call to you; save me,
that I may observe your testimonies.
147  I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I hope in your words.
148  My eyes are awake before the watches of the night,
that I may meditate on your promise.
149  Hear my voice according to your steadfast love;
O Lord, according to your justice give me life.
150  They draw near who persecute me with evil purpose;
they are far from your law.
151  But you are near, O Lord,
and all your commandments are true.
152  Long have I known from your testimonies



   that you have founded them forever.



Friday, June 6, 2014

Tears, I Feel You

It's hard to keep our attitude right about work. It's possible to go back and forth between being so tightly wound and overstimulated that we are paralyzed from getting anything done to being so unenergized and unfocused so we don't care whether get anything done. Recent research says that we are more engaged in our work if we have time to be renewed during the day, know that we are valued (not just for what we do), have the ability to focus on one thing at a time, and know that our work contributes to a higher purpose. To the extent that we are missing some or all of these aspects in our daily responsibilities, the more disatisfying or even heartbreaking our work is likely to be. In that case this passage could be of some help:

Psalm 126:5–6 (ESV)
            5       Those who sow in tears 
      shall reap with shouts of joy! 
            6       He who goes out weeping, 
      bearing the seed for sowing, 
                  shall come home with shouts of joy, 
      bringing his sheaves with him.
      
I've always heard these verses used in the context of evangelism, but I think John Piper is right in his devotional A Godward Life to apply them to pursuing our responsibilities in the midst of grief. His thought is that this Psalm teaches the difficult truth that there is work to be done whether we feel like doing it or not. If your spirit is broken through mind numbing, soul crushing work or you are heartbroken through some other grief I think Piper's words help: 
Suppose you are in a season of heartache and discouragement, and it is time to sow seed. Do you say, "I can't sow the field this spring, because I am brokenhearted and discouraged"? If you do that, you will not eat in the winter. Suppose you say instead, "I am heartsick and discouraged. I cry if the milk spills at breakfast. I cry if the phone and the doorbell ring at the same time. I cry for no reason at all, but the field needs to be sowed. That is the way life is. I do not feel like it, but I will take my bag of seeds and go out in the fields and do my crying while I do my duty. I will sow in tears."
Piper sums up like this:
When there's work to be done, when you're full of sadness and tears, go ahead and do the job with tears. Be realistic. Say, "Tears I feel you. You make me want to quit life, but there is a field to be sown, (dishes to be washed, the car to be fixed, emails to answer) I know you will wet my face several times today but I have work to do and you will just have to go with me."
Sunday, at Bethany Place I'm continuing the series Uncommon Sense from the book of Proverbs. This week we focus on some of the many things the book has to say about work. I believe we will find hope for our work even when we are heartbroken when we learn to apply an eternal perspective. Here's the outline if you want a sneak peek.

Uncommon Wisdom about Work message outline

Uncommon Wisdom about Work
Selected passages

How can we develop self-motivation so that we want to bless others and make a positive difference in the world to the glory of God?

We learn diligence when we grasp that God designed work as an act of grace for our good.

1. Develop self-motivation

Proverbs 6:6–11 (NLT)
    6 Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. 
      Learn from their ways and become wise! 
    7 Though they have no prince 
      or governor or ruler to make them work, 
    8 they labor hard all summer, 
      gathering food for the winter. 
    9 But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep? 
      When will you wake up? 
    10 A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, 
      a little folding of the hands to rest— 
    11 then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; 
      scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.


2. Learn to value your work by seeing it as part of God’s creation plan

Proverbs 10:26 (NLT)
    26 Lazy people irritate their employers,
      like vinegar to the teeth or smoke in the eyes.

Proverbs 13:11 (NLT)
    11 Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears;
      wealth from hard work grows over time.

Proverbs 12:24 (NLT)
    24 Work hard and become a leader;
      be lazy and become a slave.
  
   Proverbs 12:27 (NLT)
    27 Lazy people don’t even cook the game they catch,
      but the diligent make use of everything they find.


3. Make God’s grace the engine of your work

Ephesians 2:8–10 (ESV) 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Table of Costs of Sexual Expression outside of God's Will

I created the following table to support the message Uncommon Sense about Sex from Proverbs 7. It was not meant to be comprehensive. Primarily, I was trying to emphasize that when we sin sexually, the costs to us personally keep accumulating as we move down the list. That doesn't mean that they can't be dealt with but there are increasing consequences that have to be addressed. Those could be as simple as confession and repentance at the beginning progressing to very serious consequences toward the bottom that could not likely be reversed. 

The list will make more sense along with the message which I will link to here once it becomes available. 

Table of Costs of Sexual Expression outside of God's Will
ActDescriptionCost (cumulative moving down)
Desireincludes same sex attractionNot sin
Lust/FantasyDwelling on the desire to imaginingSin. Everything else down in the table is sin. Real guilt, adultery in heart
PornographyAny visual media depicting nudity for its sexual appealSee people as sexual objects, desensitized
ExperimentingHuge category: Everything short of intercourse, heterosexual or homosexualSteadily increasing guilt; law of diminishing returns
Pre-marital sexPre-marital sexDrastically increased emotional engagement: plays havoc on internal well being and sense of self, increased danger of pregnancy and/or disease
AdulteryAny sexual contact leading up to and including intercoursePotential destruction of marriage, creates jealous rage
SubordinateSexual contact between a supervisor and someone within his or her responsibilityAlways coercive, so increased damage to victim plus potential loss of job and legal ramifications
AbuseAny sexual contact adult to childAll of the above plus horrific damage to child and others

Forgiveness: Through grace and repentance real guilt before God can be forgiven, but that doesn't remove consequences.

Proverbs and Work Verse List

Here is a list of passages I collected in the book of Proverbs regarding work

Proverbs 1:3 
Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just, and fair. 

Proverbs 6:6–11
6 Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise! 7 Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, 8 they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter. 9 But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep? When will you wake up? 10 A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— 11 then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber. 

Proverbs 8:27–31 27 I was there when he established the heavens, when he drew the horizon on the oceans. 28 I was there when he set the clouds above, when he established springs deep in the earth. 29 I was there when he set the limits of the seas, so they would not spread beyond their boundaries. And when he marked off the earth’s foundations, 30 I was the architect at his side. I was his constant delight, rejoicing always in his presence. 31 And how happy I was with the world he created; how I rejoiced with the human family! 

Proverbs 10:4–5
4 Lazy people are soon poor; hard workers get rich. 5 A wise youth harvests in the summer, but one who sleeps during harvest is a disgrace. 

Proverbs 10:4
Lazy people are soon poor; hard workers get rich. 

Proverbs 10:26
Lazy people irritate their employers, like vinegar to the teeth or smoke in the eyes. 

Proverbs 12:1
To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction. 

Proverbs 12:9–12
9 Better to be an ordinary person with a servant than to be self-important but have no food. 10 The godly care for their animals, but the wicked are always cruel. 11 A hard worker has plenty of food, but a person who chases fantasies has no sense. 12 Thieves are jealous of each other’s loot, but the godly are well rooted and bear their own fruit. 

Proverbs 12:11
A hard worker has plenty of food, but a person who chases fantasies has no sense. 

Proverbs 12:12
Thieves are jealous of each other’s loot, but the godly are well rooted and bear their own fruit. 

Proverbs 12:24
Work hard and become a leader; be lazy and become a slave. 

Proverbs 12:27
Lazy people don’t even cook the game they catch, but the diligent make use of everything they find. 

Proverbs 13:4
Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper. 

Proverbs 13:11
Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows over time. 

Proverbs 13:18
If you ignore criticism, you will end in poverty and disgrace; if you accept correction, you will be honored. 

Proverbs 13:20
Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble. 

Proverbs 14:4
Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest. 

Proverbs 14:23
Work brings profit, but mere talk leads to poverty! 

Proverbs 15:19
A lazy person’s way is blocked with briers, but the path of the upright is an open highway. 

Proverbs 16:3
Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. 

Proverbs 16:26
It is good for workers to have an appetite; an empty stomach drives them on. 

Proverbs 18:9
A lazy person is as bad as someone who destroys things. 

Proverbs 18:15
Intelligent people are always ready to learn. Their ears are open for knowledge. 

Proverbs 19:15
Lazy people sleep soundly, but idleness leaves them hungry. 

Proverbs 19:24
Lazy people take food in their hand but don’t even lift it to their mouth. 

Proverbs 20:4
Those too lazy to plow in the right season will have no food at the harvest. 

Proverbs 20:13
If you love sleep, you will end in poverty. Keep your eyes open, and there will be plenty to eat! 

Proverbs 20:21
An inheritance obtained too early in life is not a blessing in the end. 

Proverbs 21:5–6
5 Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty. 6 Wealth created by a lying tongue is a vanishing mist and a deadly trap. 

Proverbs 21:25
Despite their desires, the lazy will come to ruin, for their hands refuse to work. 

Proverbs 22:13
The lazy person claims, “There’s a lion out there! If I go outside, I might be killed!” 

Proverbs 22:16
A person who gets ahead by oppressing the poor or by showering gifts on the rich will end in poverty. 

Proverbs 22:29
Do you see any truly competent workers? They will serve kings rather than working for ordinary people. 

Proverbs 23:29–30
29 Who has anguish? Who has sorrow? Who is always fighting? Who is always complaining? Who has unnecessary bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? 30 It is the one who spends long hours in the taverns, trying out new drinks. 

Proverbs 23:30–35
30 It is the one who spends long hours in the taverns, trying out new drinks. 31 Don’t gaze at the wine, seeing how red it is, how it sparkles in the cup, how smoothly it goes down. 32 For in the end it bites like a poisonous snake; it stings like a viper. 33 You will see hallucinations, and you will say crazy things. 34 You will stagger like a sailor tossed at sea, clinging to a swaying mast. 35 And you will say, “They hit me, but I didn’t feel it. I didn’t even know it when they beat me up. When will I wake up so I can look for another drink?” 

Proverbs 24:30–34
30 I walked by the field of a lazy person, the vineyard of one with no common sense. 31 I saw that it was overgrown with nettles. It was covered with weeds, and its walls were broken down. 32 Then, as I looked and thought about it, I learned this lesson: 33 A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— 34 then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber. 

Proverbs 25:28
A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls. 

Proverbs 26:13–16
13 The lazy person claims, “There’s a lion on the road! Yes, I’m sure there’s a lion out there!” 14 As a door swings back and forth on its hinges, so the lazy person turns over in bed. 15 Lazy people take food in their hand but don’t even lift it to their mouth. 16 Lazy people consider themselves smarter than seven wise counselors. 

Proverbs 27:18
As workers who tend a fig tree are allowed to eat the fruit, so workers who protect their employer’s interests will be rewarded. 

Proverbs 28:1
The wicked run away when no one is chasing them, but the godly are as bold as lions. 

Proverbs 30:24–25
24 There are four things on earth that are small but unusually wise: 25 Ants—they aren’t strong, but they store up food all summer. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

A Word about the Worth of Every Person (a follow up on today's sermon)

I sought today by God's grace to say a strong word regarding what the Bible says about sex, primarily from Proverbs 7. There's only so much I can say in one sermon and there is much to be said and discussed on this issue. But as I was driving home a thought occurred to me regarding children conceived outside of a marriage. That word is this:
Children are never accidents in God's economy.
Just because the way in which a child is conceived could be sin, every child  conceived is a precious creation of God to be loved and treasured and welcomed into the world with open arms. It grieves me to think that anyone could somehow hear in what I shared today that God sees children differently based on how they were brought into the world. I don't know that anyone did. That would be a terrible distortion of what the Bible says. It's just the kind of thing the enemy of our souls would try to pull off in someone's mind to keep them from hearing the good news of the gospel, even as it pertains to God's good gift of sex.