Posted in bible, forgiveness, God, joseph, sovereign

Blame Game

Do you blame others? Try to dodge responsibility for your actions by blaming others? Are you full of excuses? I spent four decades on the planet as an unsaved person, I had honed blame-shifting to near perfection. I could rationalize away the worst sins. “What you did caused me to…” or “Despite what YOU did, I rose above…”

The mark of a spiritually mature person is one who not only accepts responsibility without excuses but seeks to give God glory and thinks of the other person first. Let’s look at three examples from the Bible.

The immediate blame-game that comes to mind are Adam and Eve. It’s disappointing that their first response was one of blaming each other. So much for Adam being a leader, he threw Eve under the bus at the first obstacle. God is asking Adam and Eve what they have done, since they knew they were naked and were hiding from God.

He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:11-13)

Neither of them were spiritually mature. But perhaps we can give them a slight break, neither of them had encountered sin before.

Let’s look at Cain and Abel. Cain worked the ground, and Abel was a shepherd (the first one in the Bible?). We know that God accepted Abel’s sacrifice over Cain’s.

In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. (Genesis 4:4-5)

Cain killed his brother Abel. When God asked Cain about it, Cain deflected his responsibility and denied knowing anything of Abel’s whereabouts. Eve had to be talking into her sin, but Cain couldn’t be talked out of it. Not even by God. Cain remained angry and surly towards God. (Genesis 4:9).

Joseph is the third example. You remember, he was the youngest at the time of Jacob’s sons, and the firstborn of Jacob’s favorite wife, Rachel. Joseph’s older brothers were jealous of Joseph, and conspired to kill Joseph, but then at the last minute decided to profit from their scheme and sold Joseph into slavery in Egypt. That was the last the brothers saw of Joseph until they were facing death in a very severe famine, and traveled to Egypt to buy grain. After a period of time and testing, Joseph revealed who he was to his brothers.

So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. (Genesis 45:4-5).

Of anyone who had reason to blame, it was Joseph. He had been an innocent party of his brother’s sins, and Joseph had suffered terribly for it. Adam, Eve, and Cain were overtly choosing wrong, and blamed others for their acts. Joseph chose right, and ever blamed anyone. Abandoned by his brothers, betrayed by them at a horrific level, (conspiracy of fratricide), falsely accused, being put in jail, attempted rape by Potiphar’s wife, Joseph had reason more than practically anyone in the Bible to blame his brothers.

He could have said,

“Look what you did, and God is repaying you, but I will forgive you!”
“You mocked me when I dreamed of you bowing down to me, and yet here you are, bowing down to me!”
“Don’t you know I hold your life in my hands?”

But Joseph didn’t. First of all Joseph praised God for His providential hand. Recognizing God’s sovereignty is always the best place to start. Then Joseph reassured the brothers, saying they should not be distressed by their act. Joseph sought their good, and removed opportunity for self-blame by emphatically showing he did not blame them. He was seeking the brothers’ good.

That’s what spiritually mature people do. They seek the good of the other person and ignore opportunities to lord it over them.

But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. 26″It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, (Matthew 20:25)

In this great text, Jesus was teaching the disciples that the style of greatness and leadership for believers is different. Gentile leaders dominate in dictatorial fashion, using carnal power and authority, Believers are to do the opposite, they lead by being servants and giving themselves away for others, as Jesus did.

A mark of spiritual authority is to accept responsibility for our sins, and if we are the innocent party, to love the sinner and seek their good without lording it over.

I pray the Lord continues His work of reforming me from the inside out, growing me in maturity and to have the strength to humbly repent when I’m wrong; and to love others with a servant attitude who may have harmed me, always pointing to Christ as the one who is sovereign over all.

Posted in God, Michelle Lesley, providence, sovereign

Freedom from Sin, 10 Things about Southern Baptists, Heart problems, But God…

It is said that a flippant young man remarked to a preacher in mocking fashion, “You say that unsaved people carry a great weight of sin. Frankly, I feel nothing. How heavy is sin? Ten pounds? Fifty pounds? Eighty pounds? A hundred pounds?”

The preacher thought for a moment, then replied, “If you laid a four hundred pound weight on a corpse, would it feel the load?”

The young man was quick to say, “Of course not; it’s dead” Driving home his point the preacher said, “The person who doesn’t know Christ is equally dead. And though the load is great, he feels none of it”

The Christian, unlike the average non-Christian, is not indifferent to the weight of sin. He is actually hypersensitive to it. Having come to Jesus Christ, his senses are awakened to the reality of sin. His sensitivity to sin intensifies as he matures spiritually. Such sensitivity prompted a saint as great as Chrysostom, the fourth century church father, to say he feared nothing but sin (Second Homily on Eutropius).

More at link

10 Things I Wish Southern Baptists Knew About Southern Baptists

Yes, there is a lot of ignorance about Southern Baptists out there among those who aren’t part of our denomination. However, there’s also a lot of ignorance inside the SBC about what’s really going on in our denomination, our doctrine, practices, leadership, and so on. These are ten SBC realities I wish the average Southern Baptist church member were more aware of.

The Lord is stunningly graceful. Read this from Sunny Shell and see if you don’t weep.

My Flesh and My Heart May Fail, But God…

This past Friday, my Cardiac Electrophysiologist confirmed that I have an uncommon heart arrhythmia called sick sinus syndrome (SSS). What this means is that my heart can no longer keep a steady rhythm because it’s “sick”.

But God… such powerful words. We read in Ephesians 2:4

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,

Here is a devotional from Our Daily Bread on “But God…”

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. —Romans 5:8 

Howard Sugden, my pastor when I was in college, preached many memorable sermons. After all these years, the one titled “But God . . .” still makes me stop whenever I come to those words in the Bible. Here are a few examples of verses that encourage me with the reminder of God’s righteous intervention in human affairs: 

“You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to . . . save many people alive” (Gen. 50:20). 

“Their beauty shall be consumed in the grave . . . . But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave” (Ps. 49:14-15). 

“My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Ps. 73:26). 

“For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:7-8). 

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard . . . the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit” (1 Cor. 2:9-10). 

Whenever you feel discouraged, look up some “but God” verses and be reassured of God’s involvement in the lives of those who love Him. 

Creator of the universe
Who reigns in awesome majesty:
How can it be that You’re involved
With such a one as me? —Sper 

God’s involvement in our lives should reassure us of His love.

Posted in discernment, encouragement, God, prophecy, sovereign, spring

3 Bad Reasons to Leave your Church, How cults begin, Spring has sprung

At the Millennial Evangelical blog, Chris Martin wrote a piece on 3 Bad Reasons to Leave Your Church. Chris is 24 years old, feels called to be a pastor and currently works as a Social Media Facilitator at LifeWay Christian Resources and is pursuing his M.Div. at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

I have not read a great quantity of articles at his site, but I did enjoy this piece. At the bottom of it, he has a link to a companion piece called 3 Good Reasons to Leave Your Church. Here is 3 Bad Reasons’ opening paragraph:

Stop treating your local church like your high school girlfriend, and start treating it like the bride of Christ.

You don’t leave the church when it doesn’t share the same musical interests, when it hurts your feelings, or when a newer, more popular one catches your eye.

The people of God, the Church around the world, is the bride of Christ, and the bride of Christ deserves the faithfulness of a bride, not the summer crush you bailed on when you were a jerk in college.

Your church is broken because it’s made up of broken people, including yourself. Abandoning the local church is only acceptable under a few extreme circumstances we’ll address on Friday. Other than in certain circumstances, the people of God have the responsibility to sacrificially love their local churches as Jesus has.

If anyone has the right to abandon the adulterous, idolatrous bride called “Church,” it’s God, and he hasn’t, so we need to be careful how quick we are to bail when the going gets tough.

Here are three bad reasons to leave the local church:

Read more by clicking the link above

This is how cults begin.

False teachers generate followers for themselves, not for Jesus. If the teacher is beloved more than the object of her teaching is, then there is a problem. Like this:

The tweeter could have meant to say “I’ll read her inspiring piece later” but given the amount and fervency related to Mrs Moore, I doubt it. Moore so often repeats the mantra that she talks with God and He gives her things to say, that it is no wonder her followers mistake her blog essays for inspired writing, no different than the truly God-breathed words given to the 66 writers of the bible.

Or this:

Manic women from Houston do not have the power to awaken a soul. That is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. Even creepier, is the reference to ‘mama Beth.’ it couldn’t be any closer to the verse in Revelation 2:23 where the LORD promises to strike the metaphorical false prophetess Jezebel’s spiritual children (of her second generation of false teaching) dead unless they repent.

I did not have to cherry pick these. It was a day where Mrs Moore had written some drivel on her blog and the followers were discussing it in droves. There was a lot of chatter. There was SO MUCH of this kind of adulation and worship of Beth Moore it was actually hard to narrow it down to these two.

These tweets and the thousands just like them aimed at Moore, and the millions just like them aimed at Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn and others, fulfill the promise made via the Spirit by Timothy:

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, (2 Timothy 4:3)

These women are heaping up false teachers to suit their passions. Whatever passion you want to fleshily indulge, there is a false teacher to fit.

Spring has sprung, by the weather (for us here in GA) and by the calendar. My yard has a burst of color, a chorus of tweets, and two new baby lambs added to the farm family. When I arrived home at 3:30 after a long week of school, the warm sun and bird song drew me to the swing, and not to the front door. I dumped my stuff, dug out my camera, and walked the yard taking photos. Then I simply sat in the swing and gently rocked in the sun, listening to birds, the sheep, some children playing next door, the occasional car, and the trees in the breeze.

I stayed there until the sun went behind the house, almost two hours. I thought about the regularity of the cycles, the silent march of invisible seasons gracing the earth for a time and then wisping away to make room for the next season’s turn to touch the earth. The time now is for new life, buds, birds, bushes.

I thought about the majesty of our God, ordaining each and every day under the sun. There is nothing new, but then again every year it is all new again. The dogwood blooms. The forsythia blooms. The baby birds explore. The lambs are born.

He made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting. (Psalm 104:19)

You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you
. (Nehemiah 9:6)

For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. (Colossians 1:16)

We are truly blessed to worship the one true God. He alone is worthy, for the earth is His and everything in it. What a beautiful world. What a beautiful God.

Posted in earthquake, end time, God, last days, sovereign

Unusual quakes in CT, TX, Smoky Mountains

We haven’t had a good old earthquake update for a while. I think that nothing expresses His sovereignty over the earth as much as when He shakes it.

who shakes the earth out of its place, and its pillars tremble; (Job 9:6).

People will flee to caves in the rocks and to holes in the ground from the fearful presence of the LORD and the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to shake the earth
. (Isaiah 2:19)

There was a small quake in the Smoky Mountains. What is notable is that it is only the third earthquake in that region, ever.

Earthquake strikes the Smoky Mountains

Early in the morning on Wednesday, February 26, 2015, a minor earthquake shook up the Smoky Mountains. For a little over a week, the Smoky Mountains have been covered in snow and ice, but that didn’t stop the earthquake that rumbled in the mountains sometime between 4-4:15 a.m. on Wednesday morning. The earthquake registered at a 2.1 magnitude about 7 miles south of Gatlinburg, closer to Clingmans Dome. According to local news station WATE, this is only the third earthquake that has been recorded within national park boundaries. The first was in 1979 and the second in 2011. Thankfully, no earthquake in the Smoky Mountains has been powerful enough to cause any damage.

Another location has been experiencing quakes: Connecticut

Connecticut’s quakes unusual

Geologists are trying to make sense of about a dozen small to moderate earthquakes that have peppered eastern Connecticut in and around Plainfield, a sleepy town that hasn’t seen much excitement since its textile industry moved out in the 1920s. The largest of these was a magnitude 3.3 quake that was felt at 6:36 a.m. on Jan. 12. “We’re getting a swarm of earthquakes, which is a little unusual for Connecticut,” said Susan Long, professor of geology at Yale University who specializes in earthquakes.

2.2 Magnitude Quake Is the 12th in a Week

The ground shook again in Eastern Connecticut on Thursday morning as the area experienced its 12th earthquake in a week. On Friday local and state officials will be holding meetings to inform residents and discuss how prepared the state is should a damaging earthquake strike here.

Plainfield gets another quake

PLAINFIELD- Earthquakes, no matter how minor, can rattle one’s nerves, not to mention pictures and plates. Still, the people of Plainfield appear to be settling into their new existence. The Quiet Corner has morphed into the Quake Corner. Tuesday morning, at approximately 9:30, the Plainfield Police Department fielded roughly a dozen phone calls, most from Green Hollow Road, reporting yet another earthquake. This one was a 2.1 magnitude. “And, that’s nothing like the hundreds (of calls) that we were dealing with earlier when this was all occurring,” said Plainfield Police Capt. Mario Arriaga. … Dr. Long says seismologists worldwide remain interested in the state’s recent rumbles.

Jeepers! New Look at ‘Creeping’ San Andreas Fault

A small part of the San Andreas Fault that was thought to quietly slide without shaking its neighbors may actually be capable of strong earthquakes, including magnitude-6 shakers, a new study finds. The San Andreas Fault is divided into three legs. The middle leg has long been treated as a benign barrier between the more seismically active northern and southern segments. That’s because the central section “creeps” — rocks on either side of the fault slip past each other without snagging. On the other two legs, rocks lock together, building up strain that is unleashed as powerful earthquakes. … Scientists had thought that San Andreas Fault earthquakes primarily struck in the locked zones, so it was a surprise finding locked patches big enough to trigger sizable earthquakes in the creeping zones, said lead study author Romain Jolivet, a geophysicist at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, who conducted the research as a postdoctoral scholar at Caltech in Pasadena, California. … Scientists have recently raised the possibility that an earthquake could rupture the entire length of the San Andreas. The biggest recorded earthquakes on the fault either started or stopped in the transition zones.

Earthquakes in Texas…Again

In the relative calm of an early morning where North Texas was bracing for a rare snow storm, the Dallas suburb of Irving got a wake-up call, literally, on Friday, February 27, when a small 3.1 magnitude earthquake struck at 6:18 AM, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS). This was the first temblor felt in a month. The City of Irving has been the site of “roughly two dozen quakes to hit since the beginning of 2015, and more than 40 earthquakes have hit since April of last year,” CBS DFW reported. They stated that the USGS located the epicenter as just east of the former site of the Texas Stadium off of State Highway 193. … Although the team has not yet been able to provide an answer as to what has been causing all the seismic activity, it does indicate “there is a narrow two-mile fault extending from Irving into Dallas, running 3 to 5 miles deep,” also according to CBS DFW. … Dallas residents are not used to having earthquakes and their nerves have been frayed by the constant seismic activity of late.

You have made the land to quake; you have torn it open; repair its breaches, for it totters. (Psalm 60:2)

Posted in chocolate, ordain, sovereign, sparrow

The hairs on your head

When we read a scripture like this,

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:7)

or this,

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.” (Matthew 10:29)

We understand the verse is telling us that God is sovereign. His sovereignty extends to even the smallest, most seemingly inconsequential matters. To Him, these matters that men take as nothing are consequential to Him. A sparrow falls to the ground, A hair falls from your head… He not only notices, He causes or allows each and every thing under the sun to occur. Even more, He is doing it for His glory, or for the good of those who love Him, or to harden men in their sin. That is the destiny of the entire world; His glory, expressed through His condemning wrath or His loving salvation.

But in every day life, how is this level of detail in His sovereignty expressed? How does it play out before our eyes? We no longer buy sparrows for a penny to sacrifice. So what does His knowing the details of our lives and His care for them look like?

I submit the following for your consideration.

Yesterday I had an incredibly busy day. It was a whirlwind and emotionally and it was physically draining too. As I clocked out at the front office, the secretary asked me if I was going to do the usual, which was to go straight home and brew a cup of herb tea. I said no.

“I need chocolate! I am going to find somewhere along the way home, stop, and buy some CHOCOLATE! I need some chocolate!” You ever have one of those days? I did.

Anyway, she was so sweet, she slid open her desk drawer and opened a fancy package and gave me three chocolate turtles on the spot! She put them in a baggie and I took them home and ate them. As the evening drew on, I said to myself, “That wasn’t enough. I need more chocolate.”… Then at church a brother in the faith walked up to me and handed over a package and said, “This is from MJ (who was worshiping at the other building).” What was in the package? CHOCOLATE! Not a coincidence.

LOL, not that we can put in an order with God, He’s not a waiter. But if we think through just how sovereign He is, this makes sense.

People say that He is too busy to be concerned with the minutest details of our lives, but it is not so. It is an expression of His omniscience, His power, and His love to know all things and to be managing them moment by moment for each and every person on this 8 billion populated earth. Doesn’t it make you feel more loved and more secure to know that he is that big? That He knows our needs every moment, and anticipating them, provides?

Here is Justin Taylor at The Gospel Coalition with some Charles Spurgeon quotes on The Extent of God’s Sovereignty:

I believe that every particle of dust that dances in the sunbeam does not move an atom more or less than God wishes—
that every particle of spray that dashes against the steamboat has its orbit, as well as the sun in the heavens—
that the chaff from the hand of the winnower is steered as the stars in their courses.
The creeping of an aphid over the rosebud is as much fixed as the march of the devastating pestilence—
the fall of sere leaves from a poplar is as fully ordained as the tumbling of an avalanche.

Take heart that our Jesus is fully aware of each and every tear you shed, each frown that crosses your brow, each plea in your prayer closet or even each cry remaining solidly locked in your heart. He is sovereign, and He is able and willing to hear us and know us and take care of us.

The chocolate is a small thing, perhaps a silly thing. But at that moment, I was tired, fainting, and weary. He knew. This small incident is an example of today’s sparrow. Are we not much more valuable than they?  Does not our Father hear us and comfort us when we plea for comfort? Through this silly exercise we see God hears, He works, He is knitting together all things for good to those who love Him. He let me know He is there with me. I took solace and comfort in pondering, once again, His magnificent sovereignty, wide as a universe and detailed as His loving care of myself moment by moment.

Posted in eternal, God, martyn lloyd-jones, sovereign

The Eternal Decrees of God, by Martyn Lloyd-Jones

The best sermon I’ve ever heard on the “Eternal Decrees of God”, and one of the best sermons I’ve heard on any topic, ever. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, 50 min. Please take a listen, I know you will be edified.

“Scripture: The character of God’s activities; antinomy explained; the importance of understanding the harmony of the Biblical doctrines; God’s unchanging plan; the decrees of God are unconditional and sovereign; problems in understanding this doctrine; God is not unjust.”

The Eternal Decrees of God