Monday, July 7, 2014

I've Moved!

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As of today, July 7, 2014, I won't be adding any more posts to this site.  It will remain live for archival use for the foreseeable future.  I am not shutting down.  I am relocating.  Please join me on my new site

Same content plus much more on a new platform.  Stop by to join me soon.  I'll leave the light on for you.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Who centers you?

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"But seek ( aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness ( His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides." (Matthew 6:33, Amplified Version)

That verse seems simple: put God first and you will have everything you need. The verse IS simple, but that summary is shallow and simplistic.

Seeking His kingdom and righteousness is not simply putting Him first; it is actively surrendering to Him as the Center of your life and all your endeavors. It is being driven by the heart of God.

"All these things" is a reference to the previous verses, where Jesus describes people who stress over the basic necessities of life, like food and clothing. He will provide what you need, but not always in the ways you expect.

30 years ago today, I married my Sweetie. We prayed then that God would be the Center of our marriage. That has been our continued prayer. In about an hour and a half, we will get in the car and head out for me to preach at a church we've never been to. We will celebrate our 30th anniversary by worshiping The Lord and proclaiming His good news. Anniversaries and birthdays often fall on Sunday, and few of those in 30 years have not been first centered on worship and ministry.

God has supplied our needs, sometimes in ways that can ONLY be explained by God's provision. It has NOT been easy and simplistic. Sometimes it was, it seemed to us, at the last possible moment. Sometimes our faith was challenged. Always our God has supplied.

Our prayer for the next 30 is the same: be the Center of our marriage and our lives.

Question: What do you think is the biggest obstacle people face in seeking first His kingdom and righteousness?

Leave a comment below.  Our community would benefit from your input.

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Have you subscribed to my blog on my new WordPress site?  We launch on July 7, but you can subscribe and get your free eBook, "30 Days of Wisdom," right now.

JUST FOR FUN: This video relates to today's verse AND it was released the year I met my Sweetie (1981)

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Nobody's Perfect?

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"But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect." (Matthew 5:48, New Living Translation)

How's that for some Saturday morning encouragement? Really, Jesus? Be PERFECT? Who could possibly do that?

There are two answers to that question: Nobody and Everybody.

If by "perfect" we mean "sinless perfection" (never being or doing wrong, always making the right decision, never yielding to temptation), then we should just give up and tell Jesus, "Thanks, but no thanks. You are being completely unreasonable and there is no point in even trying."

But, what if that's not what the word "perfect" means? Actually, the word that Jesus used means "complete, mature, having reached a goal." The Amplified Bible translates Matthew 5:48 this way: "You, therefore, must be perfect [growing into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character, having reached the proper height of virtue and integrity], as your heavenly Father is perfect."

With that understanding in mind, who could do that? Actually the answer is still, "nobody." Here's the kicker: God is complete (perfect) in and of Himself. We are not called to be perfect that way, and that's a good thing, since we can't.

But, if we find our maturity and completeness IN God, through Jesus, then to whom is that available? Everybody. This "perfection" is not achieved by what we do. It is revealed by what we do as we surrender ourselves more and more to Jesus, so that we are moving more and more toward fulfilling the purpose for which we were created.

Question: Which idea of "perfection" stimulates your walk with Jesus?

Leave a comment below.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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Have you subscribed to my blog on my new WordPress site?  We launch on July 7, but you can subscribe and get your free eBook, "30 Days of Wisdom," right now.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

How do you avoid fear focus?

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"I, I'm the One comforting you. What are you afraid of-- or who? Some man or woman who'll soon be dead? Some poor wretch destined for dust? You've forgotten me, God, who made you, who unfurled the skies, who founded the earth. And here you are, quaking like an aspen before the tantrums of a tyrant who thinks he can kick down the world. But what will come of the tantrums?" (Isaiah 51:12-13, The Message)

There is a lot of fear in the world. A. LOT. It sometimes seem that fear is in the driver's seat of the world. It certainly is the center of the evening news. Wars, terrorism, violence, conspiracies, cover-ups, tyranny, contamination, drugs ... I could sit here and make the list longer for awhile. And you could add some that I missed.

And just like some people seem lost without something to complain about, others seem lost without something to be afraid of. (Yes, I know I ended a sentence with a preposition. I'm not afraid of the grammar police).

In these verses in Isaiah, God puts this fear in perspective. Have we forgotten Him? Have we forgotten who is really in the driver's seat? Do we really believe that the One who spoke this planet into existence has lost control of it?

Question: What practical ideas do you have to help others avoid a focus on fear?

Leave a comment below.  Your perspective would really benefit our community.

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Have you subscribed to my blog on my new WordPress site?  We launch on July 7, but you can subscribe and get your free eBook, "30 Days of Wisdom," right now.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Effective speaking ALWAYS begins with listening.

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"The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed." (Isaiah 50:4, New International Version)

Sometimes we are too quick to speak, too eager to offer advice, too focused on achieving quick solutions so we can move on to the next task. How might our lives be different if we paused long enough to listen?

A better question: How might our words be different if we paused long enough to have our tongues instructed by God? What if we used our words to "sustain the weary" rather than to instruct the inefficient?

Effective speaking always begins with listening; listening to God, to people, and to circumstances.

Question: How can you begin your day (morning by morning) preparing your tongue for the day?

Leave a comment below.  Our community would benefit from your input.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: On Monday, July 7, I am moving my blog to my new WordPress site: 

This new platform will include blog posts (Life Matters on Monday, Dr. G's Morning Cup of Encouragement on Tue-Thursday & Saturday), book recommendations, podcasts (hoping to launch Your Church Matters by the end of August), ministry and personal growth resources, and lots more. 

You will have the opportunity to subscribe to posts via email and select what kind of posts you wish to receive.  Everyone who subscribes to my email list will receive a free copy of my new eBook, "30 Days of Wisdom."  I'm excited about this new chapter and I hope you will plan to join me on the journey. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

It must be more than words

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"All who confess that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world." (1 John 4:15-17, New Living Translation)

"God is love; His mercy brightens
All the path in which we rove;
Bliss He wakes and woe He lightens; 
God is wisdom, God is love"

Most mornings, as part of my devotional time, I read a hymn story. This hymn, "God is Love; His Mercy Brightens," was written by John Bowring around 1822. Sir John was a controversial political figure, serving two terms in Parliament and finally being appointed governor of Hong Kong in 1854. It is claimed by some that his appointment to Hong Kong was to escape scandal at home in England.

Sir John claimed that he could speak 100 languages and read 100 more. Those claims, as well, have been disputed, though some people estimate that, upon his death, he could speak 8 languages fluently, read and write another 7 and could understand a further 25. Not too shabby.

He was heavy handed in his governing and is known as one of the fathers of "gunboat diplomacy." Variously described as being "full of conceit," and "a supreme charlatan and worse: a cheat, a liar, and, at least once, a swindler," one wonders how the same person who wrote "God is wisdom, God is love" could have gotten so far off track 30 years later. Maybe he forgot. 

Or maybe he was just a good writer.

That's what hit me this morning. And this became my prayer: Lord, never let me write what I am not living out to the best of my ability and, by Your grace, beyond my ability.

Question: In what area of your life do you pray most for consistency?

Sunday, June 29, 2014

There's nothing like the Bible

(I can't remember where this photo came from.  I downloaded it to my computer quite a while back)

"There's nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God- breathed and useful one way or another-- showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God's way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us." (2 Timothy 3:15-17, The Message)

I like to think that I occasionally have something good to say. That is, perhaps, a generous assessment. In truth, the only good things I have to say are those which are grounded in the absolute truth of God's Word. No collection of ancient documents has been more scrutinized and questioned than those which make up our Bible. While other ancient writings are accepted at face value without question, the Bible is regularly described as an out-of-date, moralistic code that originated in the minds of ignorant and superstitious people.

Yet, the Bible is without parallel in terms of overwhelming archaeological and historical support outside of the writings themselves. To deny the historicity and accuracy of the Bible is to deliberately ignore and reject the evidence.

Yet, evidence is only one part of the equation. The same God who "breathed" the Scriptures also breathes life into those who choose to respond to Him in faith. To believe God is more than believing "in" God and believing in the truth of the Bible as a reliable code for morality.

For those who know God personally, through faith in Jesus Christ, the Bible becomes our source of spiritual nourishment. Are you feeding on His Word regularly?

Question: In light of overwhelming evidence, why do you believe that some people still question the validity of the Bible?

Leave a comment.  Our community would benefit from your perspective.