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Category Archives: Psalms

What Entertains Me?

Often, when we are in the car, my kids enjoy listening to Adventure in Odyssey.  It is a radio drama and comedy that was started by Focus on the Family in 1987.  We have them on CDs and they help pass the time as we travel.  Last week, as we listened to one of the episodes, there was a scene that caught my attention.  One of the main characters on the program was set to have a debate with a “shock jock” whose rude humor and condescending remarks were often directed at Christianity.

As the show progresses, there is a scene where two repair men are listening to the program.  At the end of a tirade by the shock jock, one repairman states something to the effect of, “I love this guy!”  After listening to this scene, I was stuck with this question –  “why would someone find this rude humor and these degrading comments entertaining?”  It immediately hit me that there was something in the listener that resounded with the statements and demeanor of the shock jock.  The only reason he found it entertaining and delightful was its resonance with something within his mind and heart.

As Christians, we should often set aside time for reflective prayer.  These are Psalm 139 moments when we ask God to search our hearts and show us the wickedness in us.  However, we should also evaluate our actions and thoughts in accordance with Scripture.  I began to ask myself, “Are there things that I find entertaining and enjoyable that are sinful?”  My mind continued for over a week on this subject.  It was a worthwhile journey in prayer and repentance.

Think of the shows you find entertaining.  Does the sexual immorality resonate with the fleshly desires within your heart?  Does the filthy and the vile language resonate with your secret thoughts and desires?  As believers, why do we find such things entertaining, unless in some way they are fulfilling those guilty desires that we do not want anyone to know about.

As we sit in the beginning of a new year, I want to challenge you to search your heart and evaluate the things in which you find pleasure.  Are they godly?  Do they encourage you in the pursuit of holiness?  Our minds should be focused on the things that bring God glory? Romans 8:5 tells us, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.”  My prayer is that we will set our minds on the things of the Spirit.

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2018 in Monitor Articles, Psalms, Romans

 

Daily Walking

One of my favorite radio programs to listen to is Car Talk.  It is a radio program where two brothers receive calls from listeners, and over the phone they make an educated guess as to what is wrong with the listener’s automobile.  I remember one episode particularly well.  A lady called in to settle a disagreement she had with her husband.  Her husband thought he could save gas by accelerating to the speed limit and then coasting as far as possible.  Then, he would accelerate again.  He is logic was that he did not burn as much gas doing this as he would if he traveled at a consistent speed.  The wife disagreed, and she was right.

You may know someone that drives like this or you may be that person.  If so, stop it!  Now, let’s take that one step further.  Maybe this is the way you travel regarding your spiritual life.  There are two people I am talking about.  First, there are the people that only pray or seek God in the middle of a crisis.  Second, there are the people that think attending church on Sunday morning is sufficient for their spiritual health and they coast through the week.  If you are one of these people, stop it!  Let me explain.

You are designed for intimate communion with God; this is the picture that we see in the Garden of Eden and that we see in Revelation 21.  Mankind, as an image bearer of God, was made to have fellowship with God, but sin hinders that purpose.  When we are saved by the person and work of Jesus Christ, the image begins being restored and communication reopens.  That’s great news, but here’s the deal.  You were made for continual communion.

We often treat our spiritual lives like the husband of the caller.  We go to church on Sunday and count on that to get us through the rest of the week.  Or, we seek God in times of trial and let that suffice until the next trial.  These are wrong and they deny our created and redeemed purpose.

Psalm 1:3 compares a blessed person to a tree planted by the water (Take a minute today and read Revelation 22 about the river of life).  The water in that verse is an image of being continually plugged into the source of life.  The reason the tree prospers is because it is continually plugged into the life-giving source.  Do you strive to be continually plugged in?  Or, do you live from one experience to the next, coasting in between?  Live in a daily walk with God.

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2018 in Monitor Articles, Psalms, Revelation

 

16,000 Words

The University of Arizona found that the average person speaks about 16,000 words a day.  Using their results, we could assume that the average person speaks 5,632,000 words a year.  That makes for a long conversation.  Think of it this way.  This article averages 500 words a week.  That means that over the course of a year, if all words were recorded, it would be enough to fill this column 11,264 times.

We use a lot of words.  Some are large and some are small.   We know people that sound like human dictionaries and we know people that are professionals when it comes to expletives.  Language is a powerful tool, given by God.  It has the ability to cheer our hearts, make us weep, and alter the atmosphere around us.  Even though the number of words we speak is vast, they are still numbered.  At the end of the day, you will have spoken a certain number of words.  There comes a point when words cannot be added to the day, and there is never a point when you can take back the words you have said.  Knowing this, it would be silly for us not to use our words wisely.

Jesus told his disciples that the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart (Mt. 12:34).  We can probably do an adequate job of assessing our hearts by the words that come out of our mouths.  I am not suggesting you analyze the words that come from others.  I encourage you to evaluate your own words.  How do you use them?  Do you spend your time spreading gossip? How do you speak of others?  Do your words build up or tear down?  These are important questions to ask, especially in the midst of a conversation.  However, this is by no means an exhaustive list.

So, is there a way for us to evaluate our words without listing questions?  After all, we only have 16,000 words a day.  Let’s not spend them all asking questions about our speech.  Psalm 19:14 is a petition for God’s help and an expression of desire, “Let the words of my mouth and the mediation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.”  I do not mean to over simplify, but of the 16,000 words we speak each day, how many of them are used to tell people about God and what he has done?  Are they pleasing and acceptable to him?  Remember language is a gift from God.  Therefore, it is meant to be used for his glory.  How will you use your words today?

This post was published in The Monitor of Naples, Texas on 9/8/2016.

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2016 in Matthew, Monitor Articles, Psalms

 

The Gift and Danger of Memory

Nostalgia is a gift from God because it takes us to a place where we remember the love and grace of God in the past.  I love to visit old general stores, because the things they offer and the smell of the candy take me back to wonderful memories of trips with my grandparents.  This aspect of memory is a gift and it is okay for us to delight in those memories as long as they do not distract us from what God desires us to do now.

Memory of salvation history was important to the Israelites.  In fact, they were told to continually teach the mighty works of God to their children and descendants.  There were times when they failed to do this, but in the days of Jesus, the Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes knew the accounts of Moses, Abraham, Elijah, and Elijah.  They knew to be looking for a Messiah and that God was going to bring salvation to his people.  We see this in the salvation history of Israel that Stephen shared in Acts 7.

In this passage, Stephen recounted the ways God worked through his people in the Old Testament by reminding them of the great works of God to the Jewish leaders. This group was so focused on how God worked in the past that they could not see God’s hand in the present.  In Acts 7, those listening to the message of Stephen rejected the present gift of God and killed Stephen.

Nostalgia and memory are gifts from God, but just like every good gift, Satan can distort and use it to keep us from experiencing God’s desire in the present and hope for the future.  We are told in Psalm 118:24, “This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”  This verse specifically speaks of the day Christ will grant salvation through his death, burial, and resurrection.  It is important to note that this was the exact event the Jewish leaders were missing because of reveling in the past.  They delighted in the past to the point they were blinded in the present.

Today is a gift from God designed for you to know him more intimately, but it can be missed because of two things: focusing on the past, or worrying about the future.  Worry is a subject for another time, but know that God has a greater knowledge of himself to reveal to you today.  This idea alone makes today better than any other day.  Don’t let your focus on the past rob you of seeing God’s gift in the present.

This post was published in The Monitor of Naples, Texas on 8/11/16.

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2016 in Acts, Monitor Articles, Psalms

 

Let the Words of Our Mouths . . .

There are sins that we are comfortable with and there are sins that we think are horrible.  There is no clear line between the two and often each person is different depending on the way they were raised.  Though everyone is subject to this trap, very few believers readily admit that sin in general is okay, yet they may try to justify certain sin.  On the other side a believer may view a sin as so awful it is unredeemable.  Both of these are wrong.

First, there is no excuse for sin, but there is forgiveness.  Often, we use reason to justify or validate the sin in which we participate.  We gossip under the guise of caring conversation or we lie admitting in our hearts that it was what was best at the time.  Keep in mind that God is truth and God is love.  Each of these sins, and all sin for that matter, are contrary to the nature and desire of God.  Therefore, we should want nothing to do with them or any other sin.  Furthermore, we must make sure our speech does not condone sin.

Second, there is no sin that it unredeemable.  As you read this, some of you thought in your mind, “What about blaspheme of the Holy Spirit?”  That is an in-depth topic for another time, but let me assure you, most of the sin that we treat as unredeemable does not fall into this area.  You may not truly believe in your heart that it is unredeemable, but you may talk about the sin and the people participating as though it is.

I want to share a verse with you, Psalms 34:13, “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.”  This is a verse we could unpack forever.  But please understand this truth: Our mouths are to have no part in justifying sin, nor are they to have any part in lessening the redemptive power of Jesus Christ.  Both these actions are participating in evil and speaking deceit.

This is a lofty task, but I put before you there is a more practical solution than simply abstaining from these activities.  For this we go to Psalms 34:1, “I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.”  This solution is simply to use our lips for the purpose God designed, his praise.  Our simple, daily question is this: Does my speech praise God?  Does it affirm God’s holiness and love?  Use this to evaluate your conversations throughout the day and see what happens.

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2016 in Monitor Articles, Psalms

 

The Value of a Life

Life has value.  This is true of every life no matter ethnicity, gender, age, or income.  We are plague by news reports of people that hold a low view in regards to the value of life and this comes about when we remove the teaching that mankind was made by God and in his image.  Life has value because God is its source.  Remove this truth from our mind and we see no value in ourselves; remove this truth from society and we see no value in each other.

Your life has value and this value is only realized from a biblical perspective.  Genesis 1 tells us that God made mankind in his likeness.  This wasn’t just in a collective sense, but as individuals.  We see this individual value expressed in Psalm 139:13-14, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. . .”  This truth of creation holds for all mankind.  Every life has value.

We get to see this again in re-creation, or salvation.  Paul tells us in Ephesians 1:18 that as believers, we are God’s glorious inheritance.  Did you catch that?  Believers are an inheritance in which God delights and sees value.  This is why Jesus taught in Luke 15:10, “I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”  Many have taught the angels rejoice, but that is not the case.  The angels observe God rejoicing.  Why?  God rejoices because life has value.  Life has value to God in creation and he sent Jesus Christ to bring spiritual life to mankind who is dead in sin.

So what does this mean?  Your life has value and that value is only found in a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  Many have tried to find their value in other things: being a parent, a profession, in the opposite sex, or in others.  We could produce a lengthy list, but none of these things will allow you to see your true value because they did not make you.  They cannot redeem you and they do not hold your purpose.  It also means that others have value.  They are created by God and though they struggle with sin or are different from you, they are just as valuable.

Apply this truth to your life and you will find your purpose and fulfillment.  Apply this truth to society and you will be a conduit of grace and mercy to a lost and dying world with the message of Jesus Christ.

This post was published in The Monitor of Naples, Texas on 6/24/16.

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2016 in Luke, Monitor Articles, Psalms

 

Fully Known, Fully Loved

In May of last year, a story broke and quickly moved to many networks.  In Georgetown, Texas, a councilman dismissed himself to the restroom, but forgot to turn off his microphone.  In the middle of a presentation by Mayor Pro Tem Rachael Jonrowe, the sounds of bodily function could be heard over the sound system.  Struggling to keep her composure, she finished the presentation interrupted by laughter and looks of embarrassment.  This is not the way anyone wants to make national headlines.

Let’s stop for a moment and think about something . . . What would we do if our mistakes made national news?  I am not talking about tripping on the sidewalk or spilling your glass of water in your lap.  I mean the mistakes that bring feelings of guilt and shame.  We would be humiliated if people knew these things and panic ensues when we think about them being national news.  There are parts of our lives that we have buried deep inside so that no one else would ever know about them, and we don’t want to think about them either.  They make us feel burdened and condemned.

I want you to know a great truth. You are fully known and you are fully loved.  Psalm 139:1 tells us, “O LORD, you have searched me and know me!” (ESV)  In the following verses, David tells the reader that nothing is hidden from the eyes of God.  He knows everything about everybody.  Often, there is a feeling of condemnation that accompanies this truth, but understand that Christ died for our sins fully knowing who we are and what we have done.  Please let me clarify one thing.  This does not mean that God approved of everything that you did, but it means there is the offer of grace through the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.

As a child of God, you are loved in spite of who you were and the things you have done.  There is nothing that can separate you from the love of your Heavenly Father.  He knows you at your worst and still loves you.  So, don’t walk in condemnation and guilt.  Let the finished work of Christ heal the wounds and set you free from the past.  However, I know there may be someone reading this that is not a child of God.  You have not confessed your sin and repented, turning to God in faith.  If that is you, please know that there is forgiveness in Christ.  1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

This post was published in The Monitor of Naples, Texas on 5/19/16.

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2016 in 1 John, Monitor Articles, Psalms