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


James 1: The Perfect Life

The Perfect Life

What if you could choose every day to be filled with happiness and pleasures? You could enjoy mountain top experiences at the blink of an eye. No valleys. A perfect life would be yours.

But would it be perfect? Perfection requires, according to James, a hopeful endurance during times of testing.

It’s never easy to be hopeful during the dark times of testing. I remember thirteen of the darkest years of my life. I was a young Christian with a young family and a new position in ministry that required an intense amount of work with loads of responsibility. Being young and lacking the depth of character needed for that level of responsibility, I kept everything in motion at great personal loss.

It didn’t take long for the pressures of ministry and family to begin to take a toll on my health. First came ulcerative bleeding colitis, then symptoms of depression. Soon after, fibromyalgia. Finally I was chronically fatigued…all the time…even after a good night’s sleep.

But I will never forget my relationship with Christ during this time. I knew beyond any shadow of doubt that God was doing a work deep within that could only be accomplished through suffering. I clung to the Psalms, particularly Psalm 119. I would memorize David’s thoughts, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.” Not once did I stray from the confidence that God was doing a necessary–though painful–work for my good. And as a result of that confidence, I had hope . . . a hopeful endurance that led to a perfect work.

Oh, please don’t misunderstand…I’m far from perfect. But the work that was done in me was God’s perfect work to prepare me for what I’m doing today. Are you going through a dark trial? Don’t lose hope…But let endurance have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing.

Published in: on November 11, 2011 at 12:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Perfect Life

What if you could choose every day to be filled with happiness and pleasures? You could enjoy mountain top experiences at the blink of an eye. No valleys. A perfect life would be yours.

But would it be perfect? Perfection requires, according to James, a hopeful endurance during times of testing.

It’s never easy to be hopeful during the dark times of testing. I remember thirteen of the darkest years of my life. I was a young Christian with a young family and a new position in ministry that required an intense amount of work with loads of responsibility. Being young and lacking the depth of character needed for that level of responsibility, I kept everything in motion at great personal loss.

It didn’t take long for the pressures of ministry and family to begin to take a toll on my health. First came ulcerative bleeding colitis, then symptoms of depression. Soon after, fibromyalgia. Finally I was chronically fatigued…all the time…even after a good night’s sleep.

But I will never forget my relationship with Christ during this time. I knew beyond any shadow of doubt that God was doing a work deep within that could only be accomplished through suffering. I clung to the Psalms, particularly Psalm 119. I would memorize David’s thoughts, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.” Not once did I stray from the confidence that God was doing a necessary–though painful–work for my good. And as a result of that confidence, I had hope . . . a hopeful endurance that led to a perfect work.

Oh, please don’t misunderstand…I’m far from perfect. But the work that was done in me was God’s perfect work to prepare me for what I’m doing today. Are you going through a dark trial? Don’t lose hope…But let endurance have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing.

Published in: on November 11, 2011 at 4:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Train Up

I have a test for you today. Take a few seconds to read the following lists. Try to spend the same amount of time on each one—focus…ready, set, go!

A B
ocean/breeze bread/b_tter
leaf/tree music/l_rics
sweet/sour sh_e/sock
move/actress phone/b_ok
gasoline/engine chi_s/salsa
high school/college pen_il/paper
turkey/stuffing river/b-at
fruit/vegetable s_lt/pepper
computer/chip television/rad_o
chair/couch l_nch/dinner

Now, close your eyes and try to remember as many pairs or single words as you can.

From which column did you recall the most? In all probability you remembered more words or pairs of words from column B. Correct? Research demonstrates that you’ll remember three times as many from the column that contained fragments. Why? Because the fragments required you, in those few seconds, to concentrate. The blank space required you to exercise a minimal amount of focused effort that resulted in sharpened memory retention.

Education today, for the most part, involves passive learning. What you just experienced was active learning that required focused attention. In Proverbs 22:6 we have that so oft quoted Bible verse: “Train up a child in the way he should go . . . .” Actually, the word “train” is insufficient to understand the full significance of this word. The Hebrew word חנך—or its expanded English form “Hanukkah”— carries the idea of “dedication,” which describes the feast of Hanukkah or the feast of dedication. Perhaps this means that we as parents are to “dedicate” our children to the Lord (whether they pursue a career as a carpenter or a theologian) and when they are old, they will not depart from it. But even this definition falls short.

The root word for “train, instruct, initiate” (חנך) also carries the idea in Arabic of “palate,” referring to “rubbing the palate of a child.” The Hebrews and Egyptians rubbed the palate of a newborn child with dates or figs. It is not known exactly why, but it would appear that they were creating a sucking reflex for the child so that he would begin nursing.

“Training” our children requires much more than providing an education. It requires the creation of appetizing learning environments and experiences so that our children will passionately pursue worthy goals that are based on truths not easily forgotten—like the words that were etched in your memory because you gave a little more effort and focus. It’s time to turn passivity into passion by initiating experiences that cultivate our children’s tastes for what is great and glorious.

Published in: on November 11, 2011 at 1:41 am  Leave a Comment  
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