Sunday, September 20, 2009

What is Truth?

"Godly living centers not on what we avoid, but on whom we embrace. Anytime we talk more about dos and don'ts than about Jesus, something's wrong. The Christian life is far more than sin management. Behavior modification that's not empowered by God's heart-changing grace is self-righteous, as repugnant to God as the worst sins people gossip about. Children who grow up with graceless truth are repelled by self-righteousness and attracted to the world's slickly marketed grace-substitutes. The world's low standards, its disregard for truth, are not grace. The illusory freedom, however, feels like grace to someone who's been pounded by graceless truth - beaten over the head with a piece of guardrail...

But properly understood, biblical truths are guardrails that protect us from plunging off the cliff. A smart traveler doesn't curse the guardrails ...

He looks over the cliff, sees demolished autos below, and is grateful for guardrails. The guardrails of truth are there not to punish, but to protect us. Jesus prayed, "Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth" (John 17:17). Truth is more than mere facts. It's not just something we act upon. It acts upon us. We cannot change the truth, but the truth can change us. It sanctifies (sets us apart) from the falsehoods woven into our sin nature and championed by the world.

God has written His truth on human hearts (Romans 2:15). Shame and twinges of conscience come from recognizing that truth has been violated. When people hear truth spoken graciously, many are drawn to it because of the moral vacuum they feel. Hearts long for truth - even hearts that reject it. We are to walk in the truth (3 John 1:2), love the truth, and believe the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:10,12).

All truth has a center of gravity: Jesus Christ, who declared, "I am the way and the truth and the life" (John 14:6). He didn't say He would show the truth or teach the truth or model the truth. He is the truth. Truth personified. He's the source of truth, and the reference point for evaluating all truth-claims...

All of us have a theology. The only question is whether it's true or false. Much teaching today is popularity-driven, not truth-driven. "The time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their ears want to hear" (2 Timothy 4:3).

Some pastors and television preachers are well paid to play fast and loose with truth. But Charles Spurgeon said, "Christ's people must have bold, unflinching lion-like hearts, loving Christ first, and His truth next, and Christ and His truth beyond all the world."

We should take our cues from the Berean Christians, who "received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day" to determine whether what they were being taught was true (Acts 17:11)."

Taken from The Grace and Truth Paradox by Randy Alcorn

Friday, September 18, 2009

Monsters Of Cruelty!

"Now that I am a father, and know the affection of a parent--would I not defend from every danger--would I not bestow every truly good thing--would I not implore every blessing--on my tender children? Would I not nourish their infant state--correct and educate their childhood--inspect, reprove, and admonish them in youth? Would I allow the dear little creatures--to play with sharp pointed knives--to frolic on the brink of a rapid torrent--or dance around a pit's mouth? Would I permit them to eat deadly berries--or to put a cup of poison to their tender lips? However indulgent, would I allow them to disobey my commands? And if they labored under any disease which threatened their precious life, what pains or expenses would I spare to procure them relief? If assured that a physician lived somewhere, who could heal them without fail--would I not send to the uttermost corner of the land? would I not travel to the ends of earth?

But, hear me, O parents! If our concern for our children ends only with their bodies--we are monsters of cruelty! Would we pluck them from fire and water--and yet permit them to plunge into the fire of hell, and lie under the billows of Jehovah's wrath? Will we snatch from them sword, pistol or knife--and allow them to wound themselves to the very soul, with sin? Will we chastise their disobedience to us--and wink at their spitting in the very face of God, by open acts of sin? Are we fond to have them educated and well-bred--and yet let them live in the neglect of prayer, which is the highest disrespect that can be put on the Author of our being?

In a word, is this the sum of our kindness, is this the height of our concern for our dear children--to see them happy in time, flourishing in the affairs of this life--though they end up being miserable beyond description through eternity itself? Will their bodily pain excite our sympathy, and will we do all in our power to have their diseases healed--and yet have no concern that their souls pine under sin, and they suffer all the pangs of hell? Will we not bring them in our prayers, to the Physician of souls, to the Savior of sinners?

I have but one request for all of my children, and that is--that they may fear and serve God here--and enjoy him forever! No matter though they sweat for their daily bread--only let them feed on the hidden manna! Let them toil and spin for their apparel--but let them be covered in Christ's righteousness! How would I count my house renowned, and my family ennobled, if there sprang from it--not wealthy princes or kings, (let potsherds of the earth strive for such earthly vanities)--but pillars for the temple of God in glory--who shall dwell in the presence of the King of kings--when time is no more!"
- "Solitude Sweetened" by James Meikle, 1730-1799

Sunday, September 13, 2009

What is Grace?

The cost of redemption cannot be overemphasized. Christ took the hell He didn't deserve so we could have the heaven we don't deserve.

If you're not stunned by the thought of grace, then you aren't grasping what grace offers you, or what it cost Jesus...

Before I spoke at a conference, a soloist sang one of my favorite songs, "Amazing Grace."It was beautiful. Until she got to the tenth word. "Amazing grace! How sweet the sound that saved a soul like me!"My heart sank. The word wretch had been edited out!

I thought about John Newton, the songwriter. This former slave trader, guilty of the vilest sins, knew he was a wretch. And that's what made God's grace so 'amazing.' Mind-boggling. Knock-down awesome.

If we're nothing more than morally neutral "souls," do you see what this does? It guts grace. The better we are, the less we need it. The less amazing it becomes...

The Bible makes an astounding proclamation: "God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).

When you cut wretch out of the song, you shrink grace. You reduce it to something more sensible, less surprising. If we weren't so bad without Christ, why did He have to endure the cross? Paul said if men were good enough then "Christ died for nothing" (Galatians 2:21).

Grace never ignores the awful truth of our depravity. In fact, it emphasizes it. The worse we realize we are, the greater we realize God's grace is. Grace isn't about God lowering His standards. It's about God fulfilling those standards through the substitutionary suffering of the standard-setter.

Christ went to the cross because He would not ignore the truths of His holiness and our sin. Grace never ignores or violates truth. Grace gave what truth demanded: the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. For some, human depravity may be an insulting doctrine, but grasping it is liberating. Why? Because when I realize that the best I can do without Him is like "filthy rags" in His sight (Isaiah 64:6), it finally sinks in that I have nothing to offer. Salvation therefore hinges on His work, not mine...

What relief to realize that my salvation cannot be earned by good works - and therefore can't be lost by bad ones.If we see God as He really is, and ourselves as we really are, there's only one appropriate response: to worship Him.

Taken from The Grace and Truth Paradox by Randy Alcorn

Saturday, September 5, 2009

I've mopped the kitchen floors and while waiting for them to dry decided to post something that's been on my heart lately.

You've all heard the phrase "I have too much on my plate" haven't you? A close family member made that statement just yesterday, then added "There's so much to do and so much going on I don't know what to do!"

I pondered on that for awhile and then asked myself "If our plates are full, who put the stuff on them? Did we hand our plates over to others and let them pile on whatever they wanted to? Or did we throw caution to the wind and take on their issues, thinking we were helping them by doing so? And finally, did we ask our Father before adding anything to the plate we have?"

Most folks I know are well-meaning people. They possess a desire to be helpers in whatever way needed and that's not a bad thing. We are to help bear one anothers burdens, but do we take on more than we're supposed to? I do, and it's worn me down, physically, mentally and spiritually.

During our time in Georgia at Fred's Army Reunion, the "Colonel" made a statement about the value of the men who served under him. He said that without those men doing their part he and others in leadership could not have effectively done theirs.

One of the men who served under him then said "And this man taught us that we were there to do OUR jobs, not someone else's! He taught us that we all had responsibilities and duties and we were expected to fill them to the best of our ability. There was no room for slackers and they could not be tolerated because it could cost someone their life".

The Colonel then said "Had I tolerated a man who took on more than his job, what would I have been teaching the one who allowed that to happen? That he could get away with less than he was supposed to do? Yes, that and more. I would have taught him that his job wasn't really all that important after all and I could not and would not condone that in my men! They ALL had duties and they ALL were needed to meet them if our company was to serve to its highest purposes in Korea!"

His words have echoed in my heart since the evening of August 21. I hope I don't forget them because I think they have application to us as Christians. Indeed there are times when our brothers and sisters in Christ need our help and support ... but we must learn when to back away and allow the Lord of Life to teach them that they too have responsibilities in the Kingdom. They are here to glorify God just as much as any other Christian and those who are older and more mature can teach this when opportunity arises.

Part of my problem has been that I've sought to receive glory not give it. I've been a busy-bee for much of my life and sadly, a slacker in areas that are most needful to the Christian walk. May God give me the ability and grace to change.

Today I look at my 'plate' .... and the first item that must be put there is God's will for me today ... then I need to be careful what I allow to take up space next. I need to seek the Lord and ask for His direction in all I do this day. After all, it's not mine to waste, it's His, to be redeemed for His glory alone.

I leave you with a thought that came to me last Sunday in church ....

Do all that you do with no other motive than to glorify God and enjoy Him forever

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Hi All,

Mom's hearing tests showed she needs two hearing aids. Lord willing I'll take her back next week to get them.

My Fred left yesterday for Ohio, he plans on coming home late Saturday evening. I've been taking care of the girls ... had 4 of them today. They get along so well and played all afternoon together.

Stef is excited about her classes and her friends in school. They went to meet the teachers last night and she learned Maddy is in her class so she's happy. Amazing that Stef's Grandma and Maddy's Grandma are long-time friends; that I knew Maddy's Mom when she was about Stef's age! God works in such wondrous ways, doesn't He?

I'd like to go visit Henry Ford Museum on Monday, Labor Day ... it's free admission from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Not sure yet if the foot could handle all the walking. We'll see.

FINALLY got caught up on all the laundry & ironing from vacation! Ended up donating a few things back to the thrift stores from whence they came, others I will put in my Mom's upcoming yard sale.

Please pray for two of my sisters: Pat will have a hysterectomy later this month and Linda will be having back surgery either the end of this month or the beginning of October.

Also please pray for Jeremy & Kerri ... an unspoken request.

I'm takin' me to bed ... it's been a long, wonderful day and I'm rightfully tired.

Blessings & g'nite.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Would you believe I'm still dreaming about being in the cabin in TN? Every night since we've been home I wake (sort of) to go to the bathroom and have to tell myself "I'm home..the bathroom is this way, not that way." It's amazing how the mind works.

Haven't been on the blog much, have been busy with other things since we got home. Time seems to be flying and if I don't make a list on busy days, well, it's best that I do. The grandgirls and I did errands this afternoon; then I did grocery shopping before dinner. My Fred usually goes with me but he was busy here ... he plans on leaving tomorrow for a few days in Ohio visiting his brother. I'll have the girls and Louis the grandpup all to myself for much of the day but evenings (Lord willing) will be mine. I so enjoy quiet, alone time every now and then.

I had to go downtown to Henry Ford Hospital last Friday to have an IV of Vitamin K. Seems my clotting factors were high and after bloodwork & discussing things with my hematologist he deemed it best to have an IV done ASAP. I've been bruising badly and the blood work showed why. The dr. thinks it's due to the other med's I take ... so he reduced one (for platelets) and I have to eat more dark green vegetables. I went yesterday for additional blood work & will find out tomorrow what's what. I look at this body and all that goes on and think "How do I describe all this to anyone who doesn't know me very well?" Many people just can't understand, especially if they've never had health issues.

Oh, I wanted to let you know that all that worrying I did about the Army Reunion was needless. Worry usually is, isn't it?

The first evening's meal went quite well and the people were very nice. There were only ten of us; not everyone came. It was more relaxed than I thought it would be and I had the privilege of sitting with the Colonel (that my Fred served under in Korea) and his wife Elsie. They are both 80 yrs old and have lived fascinating lives. They call three of the first astronauts 'friends of the family' .... Gen. Abrams was a personal friend ... the Colonel is a man of wisdom, knowledge and integrity and graciously honored the men who served under him. There's so much I could say about them; perhaps another time. I could listen to him & his wife for hours and not be bored.

I didn't make it to the cook-out on the second day. My left foot & leg had begun to swell while we were in TN and by Saturday morning in GA they looked quite bad. I spent the afternoon in the motel room with my feet propped up while Fred went to the cook-out for awhile. He then decided that rather than do the brunch on Sunday we'd leave for home instead so I could get to a Dr. on Monday. The dr. wasn't sure why the swelling happened ... it's gone down now but there's still some pain in my foot & ankle.

All in all, it was a good trip. I learned that I am too prideful and too concerned about what others think of me. I learned I should relax and just BE who I am. I learned that there are some neat people out there if we'll just give them a chance. I learned that conversations flow best when you allow others to talk about themselves ... and they gladly will if given the chance. And I learned that when God orchestrates our steps there's no need to worry or fret.

I shall go for now ... morning comes early tomorrow. I'll take my Mom for a hearing test, then get home to the girls so Fred can leave for Ohio. Hopefully I can make it to Bible study tomorrow night at church.

Blessings to you all! G'nite.