Friday, July 22, 2011

My Encouraging Verse

Often I will turn the radio dial to 88.1 FM, which here in Omaha, is Klove.  I am not the biggest fan of Klove, I certainty will not put their sign on my car, but I enjoy some good Christian music from time to time on Klove. Everyone that listens knows that they have a daily encouraging verse. I think this is a great idea, we are people who need to be encouraged in our often discouraging world. However, some of the verses that they choose, leave me thinking to myself, that really is not that encouraging.  And then I started thinking about some verses that encourage me in my walk with Christ.

And my mind came to one specific verse. That verse is 1 Timothy 1:15,  "The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost".

This verse should be continually on our minds as Christians. Why? Because, at one time, all of 
us were not Christians. We lived our lives alienated from our Creator, we spend all of our time indulging in the foolish desires of our flesh, and we lived basically all for ourselves. It is in this verse that we remember what our condition was before we became Christians. This verse reminds us that we, like the apostle Paul, at one time we're bad sinners. 

But, someone might be thinking, I do not see how this verse is encouraging. This doesn't sound like good news, it sounds like very bad news. Yes, your right, it is bad news that we are this bad. 

But as the verse reminds us again, Christ Jesus came into this world for people exactly like us! There is a Savior! His name is Jesus! This is indeed good news for us who, by God's grace, recognize our condition. We Christians must be constantly reminded that we are that bad and Christ is that good. For it is in these truth's that our worship for God is fueled and sustained. 

Let this verse be the encouragement you run to in your daily life. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Seat of Scoffers

"Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night" (Psalm 1:1-2 ESV).

So I was reading Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones on these two verses in Psalm 1 and his explanation of the scornful man in Psalm 1:1. It left such an impression on me that I decided I would share.

"Walking, standing, sitting. This is a remarkable picture of the increasing grip that sin has on us all, the increasing hold that bad practices and evil habits have upon the soul. But there is another aspect to this progression, and that is the increasing paralysis that is produced by sin-how it causes a man or woman, and the finest things in them, always to degenerate, so that finally they are sitting in the corner and saying, "What is the use of anything? Let us eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die." "Sits in the seat of the scornful." What a description! There they are, useless and motionless; they do nothing, they affect nothing. They just sit and mutter and splutter out their cleverness. Scoffers and scorners. Do not listen to them. They are about as far removed from godliness and happiness as anyone can be. They have lost everything, and they have not hope at all; they just sit, paralyzed by evil and by sin."

Saturday, July 9, 2011

God's Gracious Restorings

This is an excerpt from Octavius Winslow's book, "The Precious Things of God". All of us believers, at one time, or another have gone through seasons of spiritual decline. We spend less time than normal in the Word of God being refreshed, we spend less time talking with God in prayer, and we spend less time in sweet fellowship with the saints. Let Octavius Winslow's words refresh your soul, as he did mine:

"In circumstances of spiritual relapse, how precious does Christ become, as the Restorer of His saints, as the Shepherd that goes in quest, of His stray sheep, and brings it back to the fold with rejoicing! How unspeakably dear is the Savior to the wandering yet restored heart! 

Our backslidings are perpetual and aggravated, our affections fickle and truant, our faith fluctuating, our love waning, our zeal flagging, our walk often feeble and unsteady; but Jesus does not withdraw His eye from His own work in the soul, and never for a moment loses sight of His stray-going sheep. 

Ah, there are few aspects of the work of Jesus more precious in the experience of the saints of God than His divine and gracious restorings. "He restores my soul," is a declaration of David which finds its response in every believer. Precious, then, is that Savior who breaks the heart, checks its waywardness, restores its wanderings, heals its backslidings, rekindles its love, and once more wakes its languid, silent chords to sweetest harmony."

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Lessons On The Baseball Diamond

In the summer I have a part time job umpiring baseball. I really enjoy it and it gets me some extra cash in the summer. But I'm going to explain one particular game that made me really hate my job at the time. 

I was working a nine year old game and it was the state tournament. The game went fine with no problems, until the end of the game, then the fireworks started. The home team was losing and it was the bottom of the fifth inning (normal game is 6 innings). Before the game I explained to the coaches at the pregame meeting that the time limit is no new inning after one hour and 40 minutes. I also explained that I would have a timer going. 

So at the end of the fifth inning, because time had expired by two minutes, I lifted up my hands and said, "Game".  Both coaches of the home team immediately came up to me and wanted an explanation. I simply said the time is up, please get your kids to line it up. However these coaches were having none of what I said, they thought for some reason that I was screwing them, and were calling for the tournament director. 

The tournament director could not do anything for them, so the head coach came up to me again and offered some really nice words that I will certainly not write out here. To be an umpire you must have thick skin, but what he said was impossible not to make me feel uneasy, and simply hurt. 

As I was heading to the parking lot, I was simply shocked. I couldn't believe what just happened. I've almost never seen a coach so angry. Of course, I thought to myself, "Did I do something wrong"? Looking back on it, I would have done a couple things differently. I would've ejected both coaches, and gone off the field immediately. But everything happened so fast, so I did not do what I should have.

As a Christian, I decided to write out a couple things to take away from this unfortunate incident on the baseball diamond. 

1) This incident shows the depravity of man.  Most of you are probably thinking, "People get this upset over a nine-year-old baseball game"? Yes people do. These coaches, kids, and parents have dedicated their whole summers to baseball. And at the state tournament its even more serious. However what happened that day was simply ugly. Nobody should ever act like that in any baseball game, at any level.  But as a Christian, I'm not really suprised. The Bible tells us what to expect from this world. I'm reminded of the apostle Paul's words in Romans 3, "Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps in under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness." That is what happened that day at the baseball diamond and we shouldn't be suprised when it happens again.

2) This incident reminds me of the grace of God. As I was reflecting more about this situation, I realized that the angry coach actually held up a mirror of myself. I am the one who at one time cursed God, I wanted my own way, I help up my finger at Christ, and wanted nothing to do with my Creator. But the Bible says, "that while we were still enemies Christ died for us" (Romans 6:10). This is amazing! I wanted to never see that coach again! And I still don't know what I will say to him if I do see him again. But do you see what Christ has done for sinners? It is simply amazing to meditate on the love of Christ for us.

3) This incident show me a better way. As I thought more on what happened that day, I came to the conclusion that I often stand up for myself. Why was I so concerned that a coach was yelling at me? Because I think I'm awesome. I think I deserve better, I think I should get treated fair. But, I thought, why am I not being slandered like this for Christ?!  The truth is being slandered for Christ is a far better way. This is the way to honor. First Peter 4:14 says, "If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you." What that coach said and did to me, should be what this world does to us. It should happen more often, and when it does start happening more often we'll know we are doing something right. I'm saddened when I don't stand up for Christ as I should, because he is so worthy of standing up for. 

I look at this event that God providentially brought to me to teach me these lessons. I certainly learned a lot about umpiring, but also what this means for my life as a Christian living in this world.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Music Video Biography?!

This was a very cool video to watch and listen to. Shai basically attempted to do a four minute song on Spurgeon's life. And he did it very skillfully. My favorite line, "For his own glory and at different stages, he raises up servants to make his name famous." Enjoy.