We who preach and write, do so in a manner different from which the Scriptures have been written. We write while we make progress. We learn something new every day. We speak as we still knock for understanding...If anyone criticizes me when I have said what is right, he does me an injustice. But I would be more angry with the one who praises me and takes what I have written for Gospel truth than I would be with the one who criticizes me unfairly. -Augustine


Promises

Promises

While studying the book of Leviticus, I came to that puzzling last chapter that talks about making special vows. At first glance it seems out of place, but after careful examination, it appears that this last-minute attention to vows is related to what happens when we experience God’s blessing: we want to give back, to sacrifice. So we enthusiastically make promises that we often don’t keep. That’s why the last chapter of Leviticus warns us to be careful about what we promise, particularly when on an emotional high.

Have you heard the statement, “There are no atheists in fox holes”? In a sense, the text in Leviticus cautions those who make promises in the heat of the battle or in a state of high emotion. Many vows are made to God when life is threatened or falling apart. During marital conflict or with news of a serious illness, we often vow that if God will do this, then we will do that. But when the crisis has passed, our vows are soon ignored and forgotten.

The last chapter of Leviticus also helps to keep our responses in check when we receive an unexpected windfall of revenue: an insurance check, perhaps, an unexpected stock market check (unlikely today!), or an inheritance. At first you might say, “I am going to give a portion back to God.” Certainly your heart is right-but time passes, and our good intentions become nothing more than forgotten shadows.

So it appears that the last chapter of Leviticus is a reminder that our words are extremely important to God; we need to mean what we say, and say what we mean. Maybe that’s what Jesus meant when He said, “By your words man shall be justified, and by his words he shall be condemned.”

Published in: on January 25, 2011 at 5:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

Promises

While studying the book of Leviticus, I came to that puzzling last chapter that talks about making special vows. At first glance it seems out of place, but after careful examination, it appears that this last-minute attention to vows is related to what happens when we experience God’s blessing: we want to give back, to sacrifice. So we enthusiastically make promises that we often don’t keep. That’s why the last chapter of Leviticus warns us to us to be careful about what we promise, particularly when on an emotional high.

Have you heard the statement, “There are no atheists in fox holes”? In a sense, the text in Leviticus cautions those who make promises in the heat of the battle or in a state of high emotion. Many vows are made to God when life is threatened or falling apart. During marital conflict or with news of a serious illness, we often vow that if God will do this, then we will do that. But when the crisis has passed, our vows are soon ignored and forgotten.

The last chapter of Leviticus also helps to keep our responses in check when we receive an unexpected windfall of revenue: an insurance check, perhaps, an unexpected stock market check (unlikely today!), or an inheritance. At first you might say, “I am going to give a portion back to God.” Certainly your heart is right-but time passes, and our good intentions become nothing more than forgotten shadows.

So it appears that the last chapter of Leviticus is a reminder that our words are extremely important to God; we need to mean what we say, and say what we mean. Maybe that’s what Jesus meant when He said, “By your words man shall be justified, and by his words he shall be condemned.”

Published in: on January 25, 2011 at 3:44 am  Leave a Comment  

Lamplighter Guild Registration Now Open!

After 20 years of prayer and planning, I am excited and thankful to announce that registration for The Lamplighter Guild is now open!

The Lamplighter Guild for Creative Disciplines will be held at the world-renowned Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, NY from July 17-22.
Mohonk 3
The Lamplighter Guild for Creative Disciplines
provides an entrepreneurial platform whereby masters will mentor apprentices through creative and compelling instruction. Each learner will be inspired to cultivate a high level of excellence in order to uniquely reflect the image of God in his work and life.
The Lamplighter Guild for Creative Disciplines provides an entrepreneurial platform whereby masters will mentor apprentices through creative and compelling instruction. Each learner will be inspired to cultivate a high level of excellence in order to uniquely reflect the image of God in his work and life.
Masters will provide instruction in the following disciplines:

Discipline 1: Dramatic Arts (script writing, directing, producing, sound design, music composition and engineering, and voice acting)

Discipline 2: Visual Arts (oil painting)

For more information about this exciting opportunity, please visit www.lamplighterguild.com!

Do Hard Things

When is the last time you expected a teenager to do something great?
In today’s culture the “teen years” are, at best, “low expectations!” Teenagers seem to be caught in some kind of virtual unreality that often leads them into trouble. In fact, if you google the word “teen,” you’re likely to find categories like: teens and drugs, teens and drinking, teens and rebellion, etcetera.
In their book, Do Hard Things, teen brothers Alex and Brett Harris contend that the primary culprit for such problems is low expectations. They point out that many teens and adults believe that adolescence is a time to “have fun”–and if we give teenagers anything to do, it’s little more than homework, a few household chores, and the admonition to stay out of trouble. But we rarely give these young people a challenge that pushes them to grow up into responsible adulthood.
The Harris brothers have a completely different perspective. They are challenging their peers to “do hard things”–by stepping out of comfort zones, dreaming big about careers and how to live out their faith, and tackling opportunities that even adults would find daunting.
And the results have been extraordinary. Teens are organizing political campaigns, starting new ministries to fight human trafficking and homelessness, and initiating dialogues with thousands of other teens around the world to do more of the same.
The Apostle Paul wrote: “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. But when I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”William Carey wrote, “Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God!” Let’s start challenging our teens to live extraordinary lives through the strength of a God who is able to do exceeding abundantly far more than we could ask or think!

Published in: on January 24, 2011 at 3:40 am  Leave a Comment  

Vision

Oswald Chambers said, “Soak continually in the one great truth of which you have had a vision; take it to bed with you, sleep with it, rise up in the morning with it. Continually bring your imagination into captivity to it and slowly and surely as the months and years go by, God will make you one of His specialists in that particular truth.”

Published in: on January 23, 2011 at 10:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Should I Keep Silent?

“Be still, and know that I am God.”

Scripture doesn’t shy away from reminding us that seeking God often requires stillness, silence, and waiting. But our culture is fast forgetting what it means to be still. Truly, though, it is in the still, small moments of life that God often speaks to us.

Francois Fenelon writes,
“I think . . .that you should try hard now to practice silence . . . Silence promotes the presence of God, prevents many harsh and proud words, and suppresses many dangers in the way of ridiculing or harshly judging our neighbor. Silence humbles the mind, and gradually weans it from the world; it makes a kind of solitude in the heart . . . it will supply all that you need . . .”

Perhaps one of the most moving stories I have ever read that exemplifies this truth, was the story of a little boy named Geoffrey-the main character in a book called True to the Last. Though just a young boy, Geoffrey had a keenness of conscience which is rarely seen in children. When accused of wrongdoing he did not commit, Geoffrey bore the guilt, rather than tattle on his brothers or cousin. Though false accusations pained him greatly, he, at a young age, understood that the power of God is often unleashed in silence and waiting.

Oh how I wish that my children were young again so that I could have looked at their faces and peeked into their hearts as they listened to this most life-changing story! If your children are still at home, please read this story as a family. I truly thought that Hand on the Bridle was the best book I’d read this year, but this one clearly stands by itself in the line-up of the world’s greatest stories ever written.

Published in: on January 23, 2011 at 3:38 am  Leave a Comment  

The Power of the Word

Yesterday we talked about the inherent power of the Word of God. As Isaiah wrote, the Word shall not return void but it shall accomplish that which the Lord desires for it to accomplish. Just this week I was reminded of this truth again, during a conversation with a man named Tom. I met him twenty years ago while playing racquetball with my father-in-law. Tom was an unbeliever and wasn’t interested in the ways of God. But for some reason after racquetball my father-in-law was prompted to visit him at his home. So with Bible in hand he stopped at his house and asked if he could share a few verses from the Scriptures. That was a night Tom will never forget. He politely listened and then my father-in-law graciously thanked him for listening and left.

Tom told me this week, twenty years later, that the only thing he remembered was that as soon as my father-in-law left, he said to his wife, “Get me a beer!” Now picture this–his teenaged son was lying on the couch in the other room listening while my father-in-law was reading the gospel from the book of Romans. Several years passed, but there was no apparent influence from that visit. That is, until I heard the rest of the story this week.

Both Tom and his wife came to know the Savior, as did their teenaged son. Today Tom is an elder and pillar in the church and his son–who was sitting in the other room listening to the Words of God–well, he is the pastor of the church!
When you take God’s Word in-and give it out-you can expect great things to follow. The Word truly is the power of God.

Published in: on January 22, 2011 at 3:37 am  Leave a Comment  

Are You Reading “Twaddle” To Your Children?

Are you reading “twaddle” to your children?

In her book, For the Children’s Sake, Susan Schaeffer Macaulay helps us to understand that “twaddle” is the “useless” and “inferior” use of words “produced or written for children by adults.” She saw that it “devalued their minds” (p. 15).

Macaulay further contends that children “would be depressed by twaddle” (p. 31). Of the literature of our day, she writes, “We have never been so rich in books. But there has never been a generation when there is so much twaddle in print for children, much of it in schools” (p. 31).

So what kind of stories can we read to our children that cultivate a taste for rich, “twaddleless” literature? In just a few days, we will make available one such story. Entitled The Little Dauphin, this story tells of the suffering and fortitude of the nine year old son of King Louis XVI during the French Revolution. The perils of this little volume will capture your child’s heart with the remarkable paradigm of Romans 5: that we can rejoice in our suffering because suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint.

At the end of his life, the young character in this story has suffered incomparably, but still maintains a steadfast hope. The story tells how the “hard school of adversity developed all the purity and nobility of the boy’s nature.” On his deathbed, as he finally succumbed to years of torture, the boy dismissed his pain with these simple words,
“Never mind . . . I shall not always suffer.”

Published in: on January 21, 2011 at 3:36 am  Leave a Comment  

God Enjoys Barbeques!

This morning, while I was visiting my mom, she asked me why God had required so many burnt offerings and what they represented. I looked at her with a smile and said that of all the difficult things to understand in the Bible, this was one that she should understand easily. With a puzzled look she said that she didn’t have a clue. So I asked her what one thing she enjoyed more than anything else. She thought and then said, “cooking!” “And what else?” I prodded. “Eating and sharing with others what I’ve cooked,” she said with a smile. I smiled back and said, “exactly!”

You see, God enjoys and delights in the fragrant aroma of food. That is one of the reasons why it was important that the fat be burned with the offering; the more fat, the more fragrant the offering. Have you ever cooked corn with the husk on the grill? What a fragrant aroma! And just as we delight in fragrant aromas, so does God. But it’s not just that God delights in the fragrant aroma of grilled meat and grain. He delights in a life that is a sweet aroma–a life that brings enjoyment to others.

The writer of Hebrews brings further insights into these offerings. Not only did the offerings represent Jesus–who could only please the Father with the totally acceptable sacrifice of himself–but now, even the words of our mouth and the way we serve others are sacrificial offerings to the Lord.

“But to do good and to share forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”

(Hebrews 13:16)

Published in: on January 20, 2011 at 3:34 am  Leave a Comment  

Overcome Evil with Good

In Romans 12, Paul writes,”Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Overcoming evil with good is easy to say but not easy to practice.

It was 1 a.m., and after flying for 9 hours, we missed the last leg of our connection. Now we had to spend an extra night away, only to get up at 5 a.m. to catch the next flight home. To make matters worse, the baggage claim wouldn’t give us our luggage! So there we were, exhausted, bewildered, with no clean clothes for tomorrow–at least we had a free voucher for the hotel.

When we arrived at the hotel, the receptionist said that she needed my credit card. I told her that this was a free voucher and that I didn’t have a credit card to give her. She then said that we couldn’t have the room without a credit card. The hotel was dirty and there was no way they were going to get my credit card. So I spoke in a demanding and belittling tone. I let her know what kind of night we just had and that all we wanted was to go to bed.

The receptionist unexpectedly apologized, displayed genuine concern, and gave us the room key. When we opened the door we realized she gave us a deluxe room. And that’s not all–there was a knock on the door, and it was the same receptionist. She held in her hand a bag of toiletries and told me that if I needed anything else just to call. You can imagine how I felt at this point. God was using an unbeliever to help me to see how I was supposed to act, and it was a lesson I will not soon forget.

Published in: on January 19, 2011 at 3:32 am  Leave a Comment