Archive for December, 2008

31
Dec
08

a great discipline for 2009

One of the greatest disciplines you can develop is that of reading through the Bible every year.  My grandfather introduced me to this discipline many, many years ago.  Every morning he would spend at least an hour, sometimes longer, studying God’s Word.  I can still picture him, sitting in his recliner, searching through the pages as if he were scouring for gold.

Years later, my mentor, Dr. Harry Lucenay, challenged me to read through my Bible every year of my ministry.  The first year I accepted his challenge was 1987.  This morning, I completed my 22nd circuit through the Word of God.

Perhaps this email I received on Monday will help you understand what a difference reading your Bible makes in your life as a Christ-follower:

Ryan –
We did it!  We did it!! We did it!!!
I wanted to say Thank-you for challenging us to Read Through the Bible in 2008.
I knew that Mom would do it.   I doubted that Dad would get far.   I knew that there was no way I would complete it.    But I am thrilled (and a bit amazed) to say, we have all completed our reading.   And yes, it was a “GOD thing”.  For each of us, this was our first time to read the Bible.    Based on our schedules, life events, CPU reading which distracted me, etc … sometimes we would get behind / other times we would read ahead.   This summer when Jason & I escaped town for a few days, I didn’t take my Bible… but at some point during the stay, I pulled out the trusty Gideon version and read random chapters.
We have all received our One Year Bibles for 2009 reading.  We do not look at this years reading as a challenge – but as an addition to our daily time with God.
Again – thank you for all you have done in our lives.
Peace Always,
Vickie

Well done, Vickie, well done.  Now I challenge you to do this every year of your life for the remainder of your life.

Tomorrow is a great day to pick up the Word of God and start reading.  For those of you who purchased a One Year Bible, I look forward to beginning our reading from God’s Word tomorrow.  It is going to be a refreshing journey, just ask Vickie.

For those interested in a Bible reading plan, you may find one in the links on the right hand side of the page.

30
Dec
08

search me, try me, lead me

We are discussing true introspection.

For those who are interested, David provides a key into biblical introspection through one of his psalms.

At the end of Psalm 139, David records this prayer of self-examination:

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!  24    And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

Psalm 139:23-24

Something prompted David to make these requests.  What was it that so convicted David?  What provoked him to seek for full disclosure before God?

When you read the entire psalm you learn David realized there was NO ESCAPE FROM GOD.  No matter where David fled or what he thought or did, David could not escape from God.

First, David could not escape from GOD’S KNOWLEDGE:

1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me! 2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. 3 You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. 5 You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.  6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.

Psalm 139:1-6

Next, David could not escape from GOD’S PRESENCE:

7 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! 9 If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” 12 even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.

Psalm 139:7-12

Also, David could not escape from GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY AND POWER.

13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them. 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you. 19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me! 20 They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain!  21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? 22 I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.

Psalm 139:13-22

Thus, David comes to this inescapable conclusion:

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!  24 And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

Psalm 139:23-24

David makes three requests.

Request #1: SEARCH ME

Search me, O God, and know my heart…

Ask God to closely examine your heart, everything about you – your motives, your desires, your plans, your ideas, your dreams, your hopes, your passions.  Put it all on the line.  The Lord already knows what is in your heart.  Ask Him to reveal the deepest parts of your heart to you.

True introspection begins when we ask God to examine our hearts.  Our hearts can fool us, they can lead us astray.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Jeremiah 17:9

Request #2: TRY ME

Try me and know my thoughts…

What you think about, dwell on, spend time contemplating most defines who you are and what you do.  Ask the Lord to help you think on those things that really matter.

8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Philippians 4:8

Request #3: LEAD ME

And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

The Lord wants to lead me in His ways.  Every day, every moment, I have a choice.  I can go my way or I can go His way.  When I go my way I grieve Him.  When I go His way I please Him.  True evaluations lead to a deeper determination to going to God’s way.
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.

Proverbs 14:12

As you evaluate who and where you are, take time today to make the same request, as David did:

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!  24 And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

Psalm 139:23-24

29
Dec
08

test and examine your ways

I have never been a big fan of resolutions.  The adage is trite, but true – resolutions are made to be broken.

Many are working on their resolutions for the coming year.  Most resolutions usually look something like this:

  • Do something new
  • Get a better job
  • Lose weight
  • Get in shape
  • Get out of debt
  • Make a difference
  • Help others
  • Quit smoking
  • Quit drinking
  • Be positive
  • Save money
  • Focus on what is important
  • Get organized

Even though I reject the concept of resolutions, I am a huge fan of studying areas of improvement.  Most people grow and make gradual changes throughout the year.  There is something invigorating about making new changes in the coming year, however.

The week between Christmas and New Years, I typically spend time evaluating my life and ministry.  For those who are interested, I will use our week to offer some areas of evaluation.

Let’s begin the process with a sentence nestled deeply in the Old Testament.  The Word of God says,

“Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord!”

Lamentations 3:40

Through the prophet Jeremiah, God is calling Israel to a time of self-evaluation.  Introspection ordained by the Lord is the only worthy kind of self-study.  Otherwise we become preoccupied with self.

The word “ways” suggests habits or character traits, rather than short episodes or moments.  Thus, the goal to “test and examine our ways” is to consider our character; who we are, and our habits.

The goal of this self-examination – ordained by God – is to return to the Lord.  Self-examination is not to become a better you or a healthier you or a prosperous you or a happier you or a kinder you or a satisfied you.  The goal of God-given examination is to retrace your footsteps in order to return to God again.  Thus, we learn the purpose of our self-evaluation this week.  We want to use our contemplation to identify what caused us to veer away from the Lord in order to return to Him.

Take time today to ask the Holy Spirit to “test and examine” your ways as you return to the Lord.

Tomorrow we pick up with another Old Testament passage.  More than a command, it is a prayer of introspection.

25
Dec
08

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from justonemore.info

Blogs will resume on Dec. 29 as we prepare to kick off the new year.

Soli Deo Gloria

24
Dec
08

gather ’round, ye children, come

Christmas 2005 was memorable for CrossPoint.  It was our first year as a church.  To celebrate we invited Andrew Peterson to be our guest.  His tour was called “Behold the Lamb of God: The True Tale of the Coming Christ.”  It was very worshipful.  I will let Andrew lead us in the celebration of Christmas today.

22
Dec
08

isn’t there anyone who knows what christmas is all about?

Some people just don’t get it.

I felt like Charlie Brown this weekend when a reporter interviewed shoppers.  Knowing that many were making cut backs, the reporter asked people how Christmas would be different this year.

One mother said, “This year I want my children to learn the real meaning of Christmas.”

That is a perfect setup.  That is a great opening line, isn’t it?  The woman sounds like she is going to describe the true meaning of Christmas.  Great starts, however, do not always guarantee a strong finish.  If only the mother had a clue.

The young woman continued, “I want them to know there is more to it than getting presents.  I want them to enjoy being with family, and having a good time, while they take a break from school.”

What?  Enjoying family?  Having a good time?  Being out of school?  What kind of answer is that – talking about clueless?

How could someone miss the big picture that much?  Perhaps the television station edited out the best part.  Since that particular channel usually treats Christianity with respect, I doubt they cut out any references to Christ.

The message of Christmas is so simple even Linus of Charlie Brown gets it.

Surely, you remember the story.  Charlie Brown finds himself depressed at Christmas time, searching for the true meaning of the holiday amidst the glitz and commercialism of the modern age.  Charlie asks Linus, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”  And Linus nails it.

21
Dec
08

My Plan vs. God’s Plan – Part 2

When I began to write this blog, I had just read Ryan’s Christmas humor blogs during my prep time at school.  I was laughing so much because I had read Ryan’s Week Before Christmas blog.  To put it into context, I teach at the alternative school in Tarrant.  So the lines “The state they were in could lead to a riot; The teacher was sure, if allowed, they would try it.” have never been so true!  It has truly been an interesting, eventful week.  So thank you for allowing me to share again because it puts me into the right frame of mind.

Last week, I wrote a letter to Ryan because I wanted to share how amazing our God and our church are.  He knows this, I’m sure.  However, I think it’s nice to be reminded sometimes. He asked me to share this story with you.

Forgive me while I give you a bit of background information.  As I mentioned yesterday, I divorced about three years ago.  When I realized what was happening, I determined to put myself into a financial position in which I had no credit cards or monetary concerns.   Not only was I now going to be a single mom, but I was a teacher.  Have you seen our paychecks?

To help with this, I signed up for the financial class taught during CPU on Wednesday nights at CrossPoint.  I began to get things together.  My giving to CrossPoint had been quite sporadic, and I knew better.  As the Lord worked on my heart, he also worked on my finances.  There have been bumps along the way, but the Lord has always been faithful to provide every need. It is truly incredible to see what the Lord has taught me through giving to Him and His church.

When we started the Devoted series, Savannah, my nine-year-old daughter, and I both put back money for our Devoted fund.  When Ryan told us what to do with it, we were excited for what the Lord might do.  We began to pray that the Lord would show us where to give it.  Let me interject here…if you pray for things, you better be prepared for the answer.  You just might get what you wanted!

The beginning of the next week rolled around, and I realized that the money I receive each year for being a Nationally Board Certified teacher had not come in and most likely would not.  This chunk of money provides Christmas and any home repairs I might have at this time of the year.  Remember, I have no credit cards and pay cash for most everything.  Apparently, making the change to the alternative school caused a mix up somewhere along the way, and I was told I would most likely not get paid until after Christmas.  Needless to say, I began to panic.

At the end of that same week, I got a call about a friend with whom I taught at Trussville.  Her home had been badly burned, and it seemed they were going to lose everything.  Savannah and I talked about it, and we decided to give them the first installment from our foundation.  I reached my car after dropping off the money, and I cried because I knew I had just given away what may have been the money I would need for Christmas.  That money could be pretty important in our lives.  Then I remembered the scripture I have at the end of my emails (Rom. 15:13), and I thought that I should know better than that by now. The Lord brought Prov. 19:21 to mind (Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.), and I just began to pray.

Sunday morning I asked my Sunday school class to pray for my friend, and I asked for them to pray that the situation at the board be resolved.  The next two and a half weeks were phenomenal.  I had people in my life who tried to give me advice to take out a loan or get a credit card.  I just didn’t feel good about that solution.  I had MANY people go to bat for me with the county.  My principal and secretary were wonderful, as well as other principals for whom I had worked.  Although I appreciated each person for that, what happened with the people at our church really got to me.

Four different people offered to help us.  Nobody flaunted it.  Nobody made a big deal about it.  They just shared their heart, and they offered to make things better for us.  What makes it even better is the fact that it wasn’t any easier for some of these people to help me than for me to help my friend whose house had just burned.

These friends that I have…these brothers and sisters of mine…these people who love and support me…they all reminded me of what it’s about.  It goes back a little bit to that redeeming love I mentioned yesterday.  Real love isn’t always easy.

I have found that the closer I grow to the Lord and the more I understand His love for me, the more I feel the need to share it.  That’s what our church did for me.  They were struggling too…with their business, losing a job, just life in general.  I oozed with joy, and I let them know how much I appreciated every one of them.  I told them if nothing changed, I would let them know.  I went home and cried a little more, not out of sadness or worry, but because I realized how much I am loved-by God and this church.

How incredible is God and His timing?  Two weeks after it all started and a day after God allowed me to have this experience, I got my check.

I hope you all realize how precious our church family is.  They are so important to my life.  It is connection at its best.

I cannot imagine how my life would be different without my friends from choir, Sunday school, or the mission trips.  It was a nice reminder for me of what faith really is…that it’s not just faith in the good times.  I walked away Sunday saying, “No Fear!” a LOT.