The Cost Of Honoring

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Sunday we attended the funeral of my wife Kristi’s mom, Charlot.

Charlot lived a full 92 years, and until the last 8 months of her life had been independent and active. But a cyst in her brain gradually stole her balance, then her ability to walk, her independence, and eventually her life.

Charlot had no desire to leave her home, nor her precious dog Dudley, so Kristi and her sisters cared for Charlot at home till the end. At first it involved driving her to many doctors appointments and her all-important weekly visit to the hair dresser. But as the months went by, it became necessary for someone to be with Charlot around the clock.

Near the end, when Charlot couldn’t walk, Kristi and her sisters had to dress her, bathe her, lift her out of bed and into her wheelchair, then lift her into her chair in the den. It was physically demanding and emotionally draining as well, watching their mom decline.

The four daughters paid a price to honor their mother. They sacrificed time, energy, and personal convenience. They spent whole days caring for Charlot’s every need. They gave up their evenings to watch Judge Judy and Rachael Ray with her. They made sure she was comfortable till the end.

And I never heard a word of complaint from any them.

Not everyone has this kind of opportunity to honor their parent. But we all have times we’re called to serve when it’s not convenient. I want honor others unselfishly and cheerfully no matter what the cost.

photo by Eric Hands

Eleven Essential Character Qualities Of A Good Leader

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I’ve been thinking about character lately. What character qualities (not gifts) are important for a leader? I’ve listed 11. What qualities would you add? Which are most important?? I know one thing – I don’t want to be a Laggard!

  • Humility
  • Courage
  • Faithfulness
  • Thankfulness
  • Joyfulness
  • Gentleness
  • Self-control
  • Generosity
  • Godliness
  • Diligence
  • Patience

God Knows What He’s About

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Ever tempted to think God doesn’t know what he’s doing?? Read this poem a friend recently sent me.

When God wants to drill a man
And thrill a man
And skill a man,
When God wants to mold a man
To play the noblest part;
When He yearns with all His heart
To create so great and bold a man
That all the world shall be amazed,
Watch His methods, watch His ways!
How He ruthlessly perfects
Whom He royally elects!
How he hammers him and hurts him,
And with mighty blows converts him
Into trial shapes of clay which
Only God understands;
While his tortured heart is crying
And he lifts beseeching hands!
How He bends but never breaks
When his good He undertakes;
How He uses whom He chooses
And with every purpose fuses him;
By every act induces him
To try His splendour out-
God knows what He’s about!

-Author Unknown

Photo by Dermod

Sing To One Another

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When I think of Sunday worship I usually think of me singing to God. Individually. It’s me and God, one on one. I close my eyes, lift my hands, and sing to the God who made me.

And that’s great. Worship is supposed to be a personal encounter with the living God. But if that’s all our worship is, we’re missing something. In Ephesians 5:18-19, Paul writes:

…be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart…

When I sing on a Sunday morning, I sing as a part of God’s people. My church sings together.We were purchased by the blood. We are God’s people. We are being transformed into the image of Christ.We are the bride of Christ.

So instead of closing my eyes, maybe I need to keep them open for a while. Maybe I should look around and see all of my brothers and sisters declaring the anthem of grace together. When I sing:

…And as He stands in victory,

Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,

I need to, in a sense, declare that truth to those around me, not just to God. Because worship isn’t just about me and God. It’s about God, His people, and me, a part of His people.

So help me think about this. What does it look like to sing songs, hymns, and spiritual songs to one another?

Shine A Little Light On Me

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How do we shine the light of Christ into the darkness?

Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, (PHP 2.14-15)

We shine a light into the darkness by doing all things without complaining.? We show this crooked generation that in Christ, God has changed us and now counts us “blameless”, “innocent” and “without blemish” when we do all things, even hard things,? joyfully.

All around us in this darkened world, people are watching us and listening to us. When Paul and Silas were beaten and thrown into prison, they sang hymns at midnight and the other prisoners were listening to them (AC 16.25). Those in darkness need to see that Jesus Christ is real and his power can change people. When we do all without complaining, we shine a powerful light into the darkness.

photo by jronaldlee

Don’t Trust Your Sweetest Frame

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I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus name. On Christ the solid rock I stand…

There are going to be many times when my relationship with Christ is sweet, and I find myself in the “sweetest frame”. Scripture seems alive, I see more of Christ through every sermon, and my prayers are passionate.

Other times I won’t be in a sweet frame. I’ll be in the desert. Reading scripture will be work, prayer will seem excruciating, and I won’t have the slightest sense of the presence of God.

In the sweet times I’m tempted to believe that God delights in me because of my devotion. In the dry times I’m tempted to despair of God ever loving me. It can feel like a roller coaster at times.

But I dare not trust the sweetest frame. In sweet times I rely solely on the righteousness of Christ. I stand on Christ the solid rock. And I dare not despair during the dry times, because I still stand on Christ, solid rock.

God’s love, affection, and care for me never diminish while I stand on the Solid Rock.

The Trail of Discarded Eyeballs

Every Christian should have a trail of discarded eyeballs behind them.

At least, that’s what Jesus said:

And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire. (Matthew 18:9)

These are hard words. Radical words. Words that make me slightly uncomfortable. If anything causes me to sin, I need to get rid of it.

We need to let these words work their way through every area of our lives. Does a television show cause me to sin? I need to stop watching it? A book? Shut it. A friendship? End it. A hobby? Kill it.

The point is, I should have a trail of discarded things that lead me in to sin behind me. Sin leads to destruction and slavery. It’s not to be played with or tolerated. It’s to be cut off. Amputated. Ripped out. Killed. So that we might have life.

Lord, help me be radical in my fight against sin.

Are You A Revealer Or A Concealer?

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One big difference between the righteous and the wicked is that the righteous reveal and the wicked conceal with their mouths.

The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,
but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. (PR 10.11)

The righteous reveal the fountain of life that’s in their hearts. Like God, the great Revealer, they open themselves to others. They share wisdom, joy, encouragement and life that God has given them.? They also reveal their temptations, burdens and sins to others.

The wicked conceal, like their father, Satan. He hides, deceives, and operates in darkness.? The wicked conceal their hatred, sins and intentions. They smile to your face and slander you behind your back. Their M.O. is to cover up, to fly under the radar, and play their cards close to their chests.

All of us are tempted to conceal. It’s humbling to confess our sins and struggles to others. I want to look good; I want others to think I have it all together.? But concealing is the road to disaster; confessing the path to mercy:

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. (PR 28.13)

Question: What holds you back from sharing your struggles with others? And how have you grown in sharing them?

Do You Want Your Reward Now, Or Later?

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Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 6:1)

You always knew when a Pharisee was about to perform a good work. Trumpets blasted before they gave to the poor. They knelt on street corners before they prayed. They were loud and proud about their religion.

They wanted the world to know that they were serving God. They wanted the praise of men.

And they got their reward. People respected the Pharisees for their religious zeal. But that was all that they got. No reward from God. No honor from the only person who truly matters.

When I “practice righteousness” so that other people will give me praise, that’s all I get. The lame, unimportant, unsatisfying praise of others. When I lead worship, or serve a brother, or write a blog post, or give advice, or post a status update, purely for the compliments of people, that’s my reward.

Lord, help me serve you, for Your glory.