He is the Antithesis

Untitled design.pngDeuteronomy 31:6 says, “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them:  for  the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” Thoseare some very reassuring words! God wanted Israel to stop being fearful of their enemies and to  depend and act upon His promises. He wanted them to wholeheartedly trust that He would always be present, He would never let them down and that He would never abandon them. While people have the potential of forsaking us and letting us down, our God does not. God has not changed since He made this promise.  Do you remember that Jesus is always the same? Always. Always! ALWAYS!
What are you fearing today? Did you know that God knew  we would struggle with fear? As the loving Heavenly Father, He tells us how to deal with our fears.  He does not merely tell us to stop fearing, but promises that He is the antithesis to all our fears.
We fear:
  • To embrace the will of God for our life…God is the One Who is going to go with you.
  • That our employer, our national leaders, our health, our retirement may fail us…God has never and will never fail you.
  • That those we love or invest in might forsake us…God will never forsake you.
May God give you strength and courage as you trust in Him today!

Instruction, Law and Wisdom

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Disobedience, rebellion and stubbornness is nothing new. From the earliest pages of the Bible the pattern or not listening to a father’s instruction was demonstrated. Adam and Eve neglected to follow the instruction of God and by their disobedience, sin entered creation. Not long after, we see Cain follow suit and disregard the instruction of God and likely his father concerning the required sacrifice for sin. The storyline of refusing instruction repeats time and time again throughout history.

Proverbs 1:8-9 says, “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, And forsake not the law of thy mother: For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, And chains about thy neck.” Let’s take note of a truth and pattern that ought be applied by dads, moms, sons and daughters.

A Father’s Instruction

Here is first plea of the father in the book of Proverbs. King Solomon implores his son, Rehoboam, to hear instruction. Notice that it is the father who gives the instruction here. Fathers are responsible for the moral instruction of their children. If it does not happen in the home, dads are to blame. Though Solomon gave the instruction, Sadly, Rehoboam did not hear it and his rule as king was marked by foolish decisions. What an awful mess he made! Though characterized by a lawless spirit, the world has little use for the one who refuses instruction. Whether an earthly child or a child of God, the one who hears the father’s instruction will find great benefit. Hearing instruction in order to understand and act on it will be as a special decoration to their life.

A Mother’s Law

Children are commanded to adhere to the mothers law. Here the mother is seen as reinforcing the father’s instruction. Many times in home there is much frustration because mothers are left to bear the responsibility of giving the moral instructions. The absent themselves from the leadership role God has given to them. Fathers should be careful to remember that the must lead out in instructing while mothers ought be mindful to reinforce that instruction. Parenting is a team effort.

A Child’s Response

Instruction should always be heard in order that it might be followed. It is the responsibility of children to hear instruction and to embrace the rules given by their parents. The worldly experts and show hosts tell us that parents must not restrict them from expressing their individual personalities. Telling them “No” will damage their self-esteem. Providing them with reasonable consequences for disobedience is looked at as passé. This humanistic philosophy has been promoted for several generations resulting the rise in rebellious, lawless and violent behavior that fills the headlines. This problem starts back the breakdown of the foundation, structure and in homes.

How desperately we need a return of dads and moms hearing God’s instruction, dads instruction their child, mothers reinforcing that instruction and children hear and embracing this instruction. Imagine what a difference this would make.


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Kindling Love and Commitment

Couple.jpgRelationships are an amazing gift from God! Beyond the relationship that God wants to have with us through Christ, the greatest relationship that can be had is found in marriage. Before we even get two chapters read in the Bible, we see marriage debuted. For a short while Adam and Eve knew perfect harmony with each other and their creator. In fact, their marriage was the only perfect marriage.

If we are honest, none of us have perfect marriages. There are times we argue, are unkind, exchange hurtful words, are unloving, show disrespect and the list could go on. Truly, every marriage that will be harmonious takes effort, commitment and an ever growing relationship with Jesus Christ by both husband and wife.  Marriage is a relationship to be kindled each day for sure. Consider kindling your marriage like this:

  1. Practice Love and Respect. God instructs husbands in Ephesians 5 to love their wives unconditionally. Regardless of the behavior the wife, the husband is to show love. The practical standard of this is the husband loving his wife as much as he loves himself. Guys, kindle your marriage by truly loving your wife even on her worst day. Wives, on the other hand, are told to respect their husbands. Often wives give respect based behavior. However, God tells wives to respect her husband no matter what. Respect is demonstrated when a wife encourages and does not belittle.  One man said, “A wife that is loved will grow in loveliness and a husband that is respected will become more respectable.”
  2. Practice Clearing the Air. When troubles and conflict do arise, be sure to settle them quickly. In all cases, never go to bed angry. The Bible warns us about letting the sun go down upon our wrath. Every night before you fall asleep, kindle your marriage by making certain nothing is unsettled.
  3. Practice Investing in your Marriage. There are many things that will drain a marriage of harmony and closeness. Even good things can be the culprit. Reading books on marriage, maintaining time alone, planning dates and including times to get away to focus on your marriage are all important ways to invest. One of the greatest reasons we Grace Baptist Church host a Couples Retreat is to provide a way for couples to invest in their marriages. Sitting under Biblical instruction for marriages will always be a worthwhile investment.

Will you plan to kindle your marriage today? Will you plan to do something in this week as an investment in your marriage?

 


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Your Impact

 

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You have the unique, unspeakable power to impact others who live around you. When I speak of impact, I am talking about the ability to influence the direction, decisions and destiny of others. You have heard the statement, “No man is an island unto himself.” Simply put, every action, word and decision that you make influences the actions, words and decisions that others in your life make.

Romans 14:7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.

None of us slip into life and back out without making some kind of impact in the lives of others.

Take a moment to consider both the kind of impact and the amount of impact you are making. If you are like me, you will be left thinking, “How can I impact others more?”  The best way to maximize impact is to simply love God with all of your heart, soul and mind. Your impact will be directly proportionate to your relationship with God.

Acts 4:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus

Nine Lessons I Have Learned

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In honor of our ninth wedding anniversary, I thought I would share nine of the lessons that I have learned. Some of them are simple while others I am sure that I will continue to learn for the rest of my life. Regardless, I hope that they will be a blessing or help to you. So here

  1. God is Good.
    One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Nahum 1:7, “The Lord is good…” It is so true!  One of God’s greatest demonstrations of goodness in my life was when He gave me Sheila. She is definitely way, way more than I deserve!
  2. God Honors Faith.
    One of the most important decisions God brought me to in life was to rest in Him about a life companion. I certainly wanted to be married and I wanted it in my time. I remember the day that I finally just said to God, “I will wait for the right person and the right time.” It was a huge step of faith for me which led to spiritual growth and eventually to finding my wife.
  3. Marriage is a Blessing.
    If you have listened to people talk about marriage, you have likely heard some sour perspectives about it. You have heard such things as a wife referred to as the”Old Lady” or the “Nag.” Some liken marriage to a ball and chain. I just want to say I love being married and have found marriage to be a gigantic blessing. Sure it has its ups and downs as well as its cycles. Every relationship does. Yet that does not change the fact that it is a blessing!
  4. Two are Better than One.
    Solomon said this in Ecclesiastes and I have found it to be true! Sheila is to me a friend, comrade, completer, helper, counselor and encourager! When I am discouraged, she finds something to say to lift my spirit. God said that it was not good for man to be alone. He knew what He talking about. I remember the bachelor days and I say two are definitely better than one.
  5. Humility is Key.
    I mentioned that marriage has its ups and downs. There are times that Sheila and I have not agreed and have been upset at one another. However, when we got married, we made vows committing ourselves to each other for the rest of our lives. Being committed to each other is also a commitment to work through disagreements. There have been many times in the past nine years that I have had to humble myself and say, “I was wrong, you were right and I love you.” Pride will kill a marriage, humility will grow it.
  6. Communication Cannot Be Overdone.
    We started communicating in the early stages of our relationship. We talked about everything—our dreams, goals, desires, expectations, fears and thoughts. We have often asked each other, “What is going on in your heart?” We have tried to always be comfortable with talking out our feelings and thoughts. Frustration mounts when communication lessens. Open communication takes constant work and but it is worth it!
  7. A Wife’s Intuition is a Great Thing.
    I have heard many older men say, “Learn to listen to your wife.” I assume they learned that from not listening to their wives. One of the reasons behind the advice given is that God created women with intuition. My wife often has a sense about a situation, person or decision that I have never thought about. Her input has many times proven invaluable.
  8. I am not Complete without Her.
    Undoubtedly you have heard men say of their wives, “She is my better half.” Again, that is so true of my wife. She completes me. I need her in my life. She makes everything I do better.
  9. True Love is Christ’s Love.
    We live in a society that defines love based on emotion. When Christ told men to love their wives, He was not speaking of an emotional love, but a sacrificial love. I confess, I have a lot of growth in this, but I have learned that the love I must have for my wife must be selfless and sacrificial. I am learning to delight in putting self aside and meeting her needs. When I practice Christ’s love toward her, I find that I am truly fulfilled. Before I was married, I asked a pastor to give me one piece of advice for marriage. He told me to work on getting rid of selfishness in my life. I have learned that I cannot show Christ’s love, true love, and be selfish.

These are things I have learned and will continue to learn. I am so very thankful for our marriage and look forward to the years ahead together!

Reflections on Couples Retreat



I always enjoy spending time with my wife. She is my best friend, cheerleader and soulmate. This was our second annual couples retreat at Grace Baptist Church. I would like to share several blessings of having and attending couples retreat.  

  1. Growing Together—Couples retreat is an awesome opportunity for God to work on a couple together. My wife and I hear the same Bible truth together and are given opportunity to respond to that truth together. It seems that God gives a focused openness to each other and an excitement about putting into practice what has been received. 
  2. Gaining Wisdom—We do well to listen and accept the advice of those who have walked with God for many years. We were privileged to have Dr. Bob Taylor and his wife Joan as our speakers. God used the wisdom they have gained from fifty plus years of marriage to give Biblical insight. I appreciated men in the older generation being willing to share all that God has taught them over the years. 
  3. Encouraging Others—It is exciting to see God’s people edified. In a day when Biblical marriage is under attack, what a blessing it is when marriages are strengthened! I praise God for the work He did in mine and what I heard testified that He was doing in other’s. 

In addition to these blessings, I want to give a two fold encouragement. 

  1. If you have not yet attended a couples retreat, plan to attend one! You will be blessed. Begin now to plan and save to be able to attend. 
  2. If you are a pastor and do not have an annual couples retreat, prayerfully consider beginning one. Strong families make up strong churches. Time investing in the marriages in your church will never be wasted time. 

Anger

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Ephesians 4:26-27 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.

I was reading Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Chambers and came across a helpful list of six conditions that make anger sinful. These were taught by Joseph Butler (1692–1752) and I believe helpful in evaluating our anger.

  1. When, to favor a resentment or feud, we imagine an injury done to us. 
  2. When an injury done to us becomes, in our minds, greater than it really is. 
  3. When, without real injury, we feel resentment on account of pain or inconvenience.
  4. When indignation rises too high, and overwhelms our ability to restrain.
  5. When we gratify resentments by causing pain or harm out of revenge. 
  6. When we are so perplexed and angry at sin in our own lives that we readily project anger at the sin we find in others.