Monthly Archives: September 2014

You must die

seed diesAll animals resist death with every fiber in their body.

So when the Bible says that we as Christians must “die to ourselves,” we understand that the flesh will scream and fight with everything.

Unless a seed dies, it will not live, Paul says in 1 Co. 15:36. It seems like I’ve had a lot of dying to do lately. And I still have a lot ahead in the foreseeable future.

How to not get derailed when:

  • your best efforts meet only criticism?
  • everyone drops unwanted advice on what you need to improve?
  • the people you love are exasperated with you?
  • you don’t have the support of your family?
  • your achievements are ignored and your faults are blown out of proportions?
  • finances are not so good?
  • by most worldly measures, you don’t measure up?

Look steadfastly toward the end of blessing. If you’re serving Christ, keep serving Him.

Many seeds need to be dried before they can be planted. It sounds like Jesus was referring to these. Jesus had to die in order to resurrect. So too, we must “crucify the flesh” in order to experience God’s transformation.

Don’t be surprised if you are a “mature” Christian and God puts you through a process of “killing you.” It is all for good.

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Smile despite the trial

smile trialWhen we praise God through difficulties, we get the victory.

Yeah right! Maternity leave is ‘freer time,’ so volunteer as volleyball coach

Lindsey Christian | LCA volleyballLindsey Christian gave birth three months ago, so – naturally – she volunteered to coach LCA’s girls’ volleyball team.

“I loved volleyball,” said the 2002 LCA graduate. “I felt like it was time to give back.”

Time to give back? Right after having her first baby?

“I saw my mom (AD Pam Sommer) looking everywhere for a coach. I was on maternity leave, so I had the most free time I’ve ever had. I realized I could do it,” Lindsey said. “Okay, so maybe I’m a little bit crazy.”

Read the rest of the article.

Christian service

serve

I don’t own the rights to this image, and I’m not making any money on it. It was a cool image that I doctored up.

In the world, being served is supreme. In the Lord, serving is supreme.

I am glad to see in today’s news that many are volunteering to be doctors in the Ebola zone. I have not seen in the news that many of these are Christians, risking their lives for service to their Lord.

But even if the service you render is not so “glamorous,” it is still important. Do the job that no one else wants to do at your church. God doesn’t reward the preacher more than the bathroom cleaner. In fact, the one gets the congregation’s applause and thus is at risk from losing his reward. The Bible says, if you so much as give a cup of water to a prophet because he is a prophet, a prophet’s reward you will receive. God is the best accountant for piling up rewards.

Greatness in the seed

seed apple treeHow does something so small as an apple seed produce something so big as the tree that produces sweet fruit that nourishes and delights?

Never despise the small beginnings of a seed. Do small things today towards a great result.

Try another door

knock on doorTwice Paul was halted. He tried to go somewhere, but God didn’t open the door.

Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, HAVING BEEN KEPT BY THE HOLY SPIRIT from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, BUT THE SPIRIT OF JESUS WOULD NOT ALLOW THEM TO. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” — Acts 16:6,7,9 NIV.

Sometimes, the doors don’t open for years and years and years.

Maybe the reason why the door is not opening is because it’s never going to open. Try another door.

Seedless Christians?

seedless ChristiansSeedless watermelons have been engineered so that you don’t have to spit. You can devour sweet, wet, red fruit without the hassle of separating out the seeds. Scientists have also genetically engineered seedless grapes, bananas, oranges, lemons, tomatoes. They are a contradiction in terms because fruit is defined by the seeds they carry.

So too, the Christian is defined by the seed s/he carries, seeds of evangelism, seeds of change, seeds of revolution. A seedless Christian is one who remains continually unmotivated to do much for Christ. He is inwardly focused, self-centered and immature.

Seedless fruits were altered to make the fruit more palatable to the eater. If you are a seedless Christian, you are more palatable — to the devil.

The good news is, of course, that we can pray to become full of seeds. We can begin to aim our lives in a new direction and do the things which Christ has called us to do. A Christian, by definition, saves others from their sins also.

The road behind is better than the road ahead

blessings behindWe are taught to never look back, but sometimes we NEED to look back.

Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life — Psalm 23:6 NIV. There are times when all we see ahead are difficulties and trials. We forget how God has blessed us in the past.

Take a look in your rear view mirror. You’ll be surprised how God has changed the landscape.

Shame for the Name

shameThey departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. — Acts 5:41 KJV

Peter and disciples had just been arrested for preaching Jesus. The Sanhedrin whipped them and warned them to stop. Threats and beatings are what made them rejoice.

Are you suffering for Christ? Take heart. That is what the disciples did. They didn’t get discouraged. They didn’t ask, “Why, God?” They praised God for the difficulties and dug in. They prayed for strength to continue.

Don’t give up, if you are fighting the good fight. Rejoice for the opposition, for the reverses, for the trials. Things appear to be spiraling out of control. In reality, God has everything under control and will work it all out in ways you can’t imagine.

Our band in the newspaper

Liceo Bilingue La Puerta

The copy of Nuestro Diario Sept. 16 page 4 featuring the band of the Liceo Bilingue La Puerta.

The Guatemalan school my family and I started got into the newspaper today for its courage marching through drenching rain. Their courage, sacrifice and service to Christ is an example to us First World Christians who find all the reasons to NOT soldier through. And they make me proud. I see that 16 years of labor on the mission field was not in vain but left hardcore disciples.

The Liceo Bilingue La Puerta‘s marching band competed and won a spot in the national Independence Day parade (Sept. 15 for Guatemala). And they marched on despite rain that got them wet to the bones.

Self Preservation

self preservationNatural instinct propels you to fight or flight, to keep your neck above all else.

This is what Esther did. Her uncle was asking her to risk everything to save her people, the Jews, who were decreed death in a rash issue of legislation from a despot. Her knee-jerk reaction: But I could die if I dare to approach the emperor unbeckoned.

Unlike animals, humans can sacrifice themselves for others. A soldier throws himself on a hand grenade to save his buddies. Jesus throws himself onto the cross to save all humanity. The missionary throws himself into the mission field risking Ebola infection.

At some point, looking out for #1 becomes sin.

For some, thrills-seeking is an adrenaline rush, to have brushed with death and escaped unscathed.

A Christian is not called to dare-devil. But he IS called to sacrifice up to his finances, time and even life in order to reach others with the Gospel. To renege is sin.

Discouragement

discouragementWe tend to think discouragement is a feeling, not a sin.

But because of discouragement, Daniel’s contemporaries let themselves go. Exiled to Babylon, ripped out of their beloved homeland, deprived of hope, there was nothing to live for. With only depression, without a future, without hope, they might as well live it up. They would eat all the king’s delicious food in his service. Who cares that it contaminated them? that it was dedicated to idols? After all, what would be the point of consecrating themselves to God? All was lost in the exile.

But Daniel decided to avoid the unholy food and wine. He continued to consecrate himself to God.

At the end of the day, he never returned to Israel. He spent the rest of his life in exile, as a counselor (slave) to foreign kings. But he made impact for God in foreign lands. The book of Daniel is the account of how God ceased to be for the Jews only. He started being the God of all nations. Jonah, Daniel and Esther are necessary stepping stones to Jesus, who ultimately was and is the Savior of all nations.

While Daniel’s contemporaries lost hope, God was initiating a completely different plan. They couldn’t imagine what God had up His sleeve, so they “let themselves go.”

Daniel is a great example to me.

Showing off

showing offIn our through-the-Bible survey of sin, we come to the very interesting case of King Hezekiah, who simply showed off his riches.

Immediately after flaunting his treasures, the Prophet Isaiah came to him with an ominous message: The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your predecessors have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the LORD. — 2 Kings 20:17 NIV.

When I was a missionary in Guatemala, no one would ever flash their riches. If they did, criminals would strike.

We humans show off our cars, beauty, muscles, figure, clothes, watches, fans, likes, basketball skills, manliness… What do we NOT show off? Christians even show off their righteousness in the church.

It’s pride rubbish.

While showing off might bring you a perverse joy of provoking others to envy, it can bring no real good. It corrupts our heart.

We should accept people and love people. We should never be boastful in our actions.

Morality of convenience

morals of convenienceGod GAVE Jeroboam a kingdom.

But Jeroboam set up false gods to NOT lose that kingdom.

Thus he slung aside the very God who blessed him in (what he thought was) a savvy plan to retain power at all costs.

Unfortunately, this is what happens to the majority. If you don’t have a moral code (like the Bible), you make your own code. And often the code evolves based on decisions of convenience. Your changing rationalizations may qualm your conscious. But in fact, you have no morality whatsoever.

Evolutionists and atheists are currently arguing strenuously (they are straining to make it work) that morality appeared as a result of evolution. As I have said previously, such a notion undermines evolution itself (in which survival of the fittest alone matters (whether you call “fittest” “strongest” or “prettiest” or whatever)).

All of this is NOT to say that I am holier than anyone. NO! I am probably a worse sinner than you. But I recognize that the wrong I do is wrong. I don’t call it right because my flesh desires. Instead, I cry out for forgiveness to Christ and try afresh to serve Him keeping His moral code, found in the Bible.

What is going on currently is not modern science. It has been happening since the beginning of time. By psychologists, it’s called “justification.” Since living below our moral standard (the God-given conscious creates anxiety, we appease our conscious by changing our morals).

Jeroboam is an example in concentrate. In punishment of Solomon’s sins, God threatened to strip the majority of the kingdom away from his son, which He did to Roboam. Jeroboam was the beneficiary, receiving power over 10 tribes of Israel to the North.

But he worried that the Jehova-ists would become disloyal because true worship was ordained in Judah, in the temple in Jerusalem, in territory of Roboam. So he astutely set up a false god on the road to Jerusalem (why not shorten your journey?) and another god far away from Jerusalem (to draw people away from Jerusalem. This was his desperate bid to retain control.

But when you flout God, things don’t go well. As a result of his brainstorming, Israel years later lost its very existence in the exile of Assyria (which forced intermarriage of exiled peoples). Only Judah survived (thus, the name “Jews” today.) When in 1948, a Jewish nation was re-formed, they named it “Israel,” but they might have been more correct to call it “Judah.”

Jeroboam thought it was a good strategy to change his morals. Whatever good you think might come by re-inventing the wheel, you might not want the consequences of abandoning the Bible and its moral code.

In the movie “Valkyrie,” twice bystanders face a decision to either support the insurrection against Hitler or support the Fuhrer himself. Either one could have guaranteed the success of the anti-Hitler conspiracy. Perhaps out of fear of Hitler, both opted to support the evil dictator. Months later, they were dead. Many in Nazi Germany simply found it convenient to go with the flow of the moral order in Nazi Germany.

Just because it’s convenient doesn’t make it moral.

Lust

lust

I don’t own the rights to this photo, and I’m not making any money on it.

David has been amply criticized for being a Peeping Tom. Not hardly anything has been said about Bathsheba taking an outdoor bath in plain view of the king’s palace (only the king had a second story house).

Lust is a sin for both male and female. Tempted and tempters.

It came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king’s house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon… And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her. — 2 Sam. 11:2,4 KJV.

This one act of impulse threw David’s kingdom into helter skelter. The man full of passion for God became discredited by his passion for a woman. The aftermath was devastating. His son raped a half-sister. Another son conspired against King David and nearly killed him. The shockwaves sounded far and wide.

Recklessness

recklessness

I don’t own the rights to this photo, and I’m not making any money on it.

Ultimately, the chosen became the rejected. Saul was too rash, too unthinking, too disposed to decisions based on convenience, not correctness. Thus the king lost his kingdom.

When commanded by God to destroy all the riches of the Amalekites, Saul let himself be swayed by the people’s cravings for plunder.

When he was supposed to wait for Samuel to offer sacrifice, Saul unwisely performed priestly duties that didn’t correspond to him.

God revoked Saul’s kingship and gave it to David.

When you are young and immortal (tongue in cheek), you are prone to imprudence. As you grow older, (hopefully) you grow wiser. It’s a good thing to grow out of — if you live through the stupid stunt stage.

Amorality

amorality

Atheists love to cite the Book of Judges because in it there are the most barbaric atrocities. Going from bad to worse, it literally spirals out of control. If only the atheists took into account the global message of Judges. Instead of thinking it discredits the Bible, they could understand it simply documents reality when a people lose their moral compass (yes, I will say it, when they lose God).

“Every man did what he thought was right in his own eyes,” is its refrain. The author intended to make the case for the need of a king. But it resonates beyond monarchical Israel. When we lose God, we fall into amorality, having no morals.

Of course, the evolutionists have floated the preposterous idea that we humans evolved morality. On the one hand, this thesis undermines evolution because it affirms that we are fundamentally different than animals. On the other hand, it strikes against the essence of evolution: the survival of the fittest.

Have you ever noticed that some “pride” movements are so named because of the innate consciousness of sin (and shame)? Fortunately the abominable “white pride” movement is dying out.

Even if you don’t believe in the Bible, you have a conscious. You know inherently what is good and what is evil. To cast that aside incurs danger.

Inertia

inertiaThey were tired. So they didn’t finish conquering the Promised Land.

The new dominant force was content to allow a vestige of Canaanite population, now subjugated, in Israel. Some would call it humanitarian compassion.

Others would call it laziness.

Whatever you call it, the unconquered idolaters were the bane of Israel. Centuries later, both Israel and Judah were carried off to exile because Joshua’s generation was unwilling to fully carry out God’s plan.

Once you make a decision, then you face the toughest job of all: actually doing it.

Just look at gym memberships. The success of the gym business model depends on people NOT coming. If all who paid fees, the gym would be overrun with clients. The fact that your membership costs are low depends on nine others not coming.

Good intentions must lead to action. It is not enough to think.

Whether it’s getting your career on track or your spiritual life, your worst foe is not the economy or the devil. It is inertia.

Break out status quo today.

Here you can read about the other sins of this series: greed, stubbornnesscomplaining, deceit, despising, cowardice, unbelief jealousy, pride. Even if you’re not a Christian, you’ll be inspired to be a better person.

 

Greed

greedAchan was aching for a little bit of silver.

The problem was that God had declared His all the loot of the siege of Jericho. It was like an offering to God. After that first siege, all subsequent spoils would be free pickings for the Israelite warriors.

Achan couldn’t wait. He scooped up some silver and a fine Babylonian tunic and buried it in his tent. He knew he wasn’t supposed to do that, but, as they say, he couldn’t resist.

As a result of his greed, 36 Israelites were killed in the next attack. God was no longer with them. This sin first had to be purged (and Achan killed), and then the conquest of Canaan could continue unabated.

A little bit of greed got him into big trouble.

Be careful with the endless lust for more and more and more stuff.

While the rest of the world lives on $1-$2 a day, we Westerners have an insatiable appetite for more and more. Such excess is sin. Be content with what you have! 😀