Why Don’t They Discipline That Child!

Isn’t it interesting that we seem to always know what someone else needs to do to discipline their children?  But with our own children our emotions usually clouded our judgment.  Clear-cut decisions on disciplining our own children often escaped us.  So we did the best we could.

Holiness, what is it?  This verse caught my attention: “Strive for peace with everyone, and for holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” Hebrews 12:14

Holiness, my perception initially as a child and teenager didn’t make sense.  I knew good folk who worshiped at the “Holiness Church.”  These men and women wore long sleeves year-round.  The women wore no make-up and only long dresses. The women didn’t cut their hair.  I respected them for it.  I admired their dedication to the Lord.

But those are only external things.  Unless very careful, these things become legalism.  Holiness is primarily internal.  Of course it must have external results.

So, what is holiness?  It means to be different or set-apart.  But in the context of Hebrews 12, what is it?

So I backed up into Hebrews 12 and found holiness again in verse 10, “For they (our earthly fathers) disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he (our Heavenly Father) disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.”

So, our Heavenly Father’s discipline and holiness have something to do with each other.

First, holiness is a gift given to us at salvation through grace by faith.  Whew, that’s good!  I sure am glad of that!  Otherwise, I would never see the Father without this holiness (v.14).

Second, our Father disciplines us to bring holiness out in our daily lives.  Ouch, that hurts. He strains out the impurities, washes our mouths with soap, and gives an occasional spanking.  But unlike us who are imperfect fathers who disciplined in imperfect ways, our Heavenly Father always does it just right!  And He does it to so that “we may share his holiness” (v.10).

When do we need this discipline that leads to holiness?  Verse 4 says, “In your struggle against sin …”  Yes, as we struggle within ourselves and REACT to this world from our old nature when God wants us to REACT to this world from our new nature, then God disciplines us.  When we live, act, react, talk, work, and relate from our new nature, then we share in His holiness!

Why? Because our new nature is the HOLY Spirit living in us.  React from the old selfish nature, discipline!  React from the new holy nature, share God’s holiness!

God is so good!

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.  For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”  Hebrews 12:5-6

Father, thank-you for loving us enough to discipline us.  Thank-you for giving us the gift of holiness. Lead us out of temptation.  Deliver us from our struggles with evil. Glorify Yourself in us today.

Fourth of July

For several years while I was a child and teenager, my Dad’s extended family and friends gathered every Fourth of July at a remote spot on Lake Greeson.  We called it “the Fourth of July point.” We spent the day together. 

I can still take you to that exact spot today.  Papa and Granny Wright, aunts, uncles, in-laws, cousins, babies, children, teens, and old folks gathered together.  The Wright’s, Grant’s, Bright’s, McGrew’s, Tidwell’s, and also the Sorrel’s, a family who were close friends with us all came.  

We brought ski boats, picnic baskets, iced soft drinks, playpens, lawn chairs, and a relaxed attitude.  We ate, swam, skied, sunburned, and played practical jokes on each other.  Cousin A.G. (Alan George) jerked away the lawn chair my pregnant Mom was about to sit in.  She hit the ground hard.  BAD practical joke!!!  Anyway …

We experienced a togetherness I sense few families understand in today’s culture.  We could be who we were with no pretense.  We were family.  To my knowledge, no one brought an alcoholic beverage.  Just pure fun for a day!

“Don’t you yourselves know that you are God’s sanctuary and that the Spirit of God lives in you?”  1 Corinthians 3:16

The New Testament word for ‘temple’ or ‘sanctuary’ was used of the temple at Jerusalem, but only of the sacred edifice or sanctuary itself, consisting of the Holy place and the Holy of Holies.

The ‘you yourselves’ in this verse is plural.  Paul is referring to a GROUP of believers, a congregation, a called-out body of saved people.

WE (plural) are the temple of the Spirit of God!  Sermons I heard over the years just referred to ME being a temple of God’s Spirit.  This is true.  But the first meaning of the verse is in reference to US.  Jesus taught us in His model prayer, to pray in the plural, it begins, “Our Father…”

I sense at Balboa Baptist this kind of family closeness similar to that of many years ago in my own extended family.  Many of you have extended family many miles away.  This church is your regular “Fourth of July get-together.” This congregation is your extended family.  You mourn with those who mourn and grieve with those who grieve. It is a privilege to be your pastor.

Billie Sue and I are looking forward to our first Sunday School picnic at Lake Balboa!  Barbeque!  Yummy.

Our Father, thank-you for the unique fellowship you give to us as believers.  Thank-you for indwelling US. Please protect our fellowship from conflict that will result in harm. Enable us to love each other, even in the differences we have with each other which every family experiences sooner or later.  Forgive US OUR trespasses as WE forgive those who trespass against US.  Father, thank-you for adopting US into Your family. 

Gazing

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3

Set your gaze on God, but glance at your problems. Click Here for photo.

God does not keep him in perfect peace who mind is stayed on this world, because he trusts in himself.

We are not to ignore our problems, circumstances, difficulties, or setbacks.  When we totally focus on them, they are magnified.

The more we can praise God, give him thanks, ask His forgiveness, pray for His work in other people’s lives, and ask for the requests in our own lives, then the more He is magnified and our problem becomes smaller.

Corrie Ten Boom said, “If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. If you look at God you’ll be at rest.” Good Quotes

How big is your problem compared to how big God is?  No comparison, right!?

So set your gaze on God, but glance at your problems.  It will give you a whole new “faith” perspective!

Our Father, teach us who are weary and heavy laden to keep coming to Your Son Jesus who gives us rest.  May those who are so tired and grieving come to Jesus and find His rest.  May Jesus live so vividly in and through us today, others will find rest.

 

 

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Confess to each other our sins? Really?

James 5:16  Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.  The urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.

The word for “sins” in this verse is often used in the context of being offended by someone or when one of us offends another person.  It literally means “to fall beside.”

This verse bothered me for a long time!  It seemed very unhealthy for people to stand up and confess whatever sins they have been committing.  This could lead to a lot of hurt, confusion, misunderstanding, and mistrust.  My thoughts often wander all over the place.  If I’m confessing publicly every wrong thought, then what a mess I’d make!

But there is clear teaching in Scripture when one of us offends another person.  As soon as we know we have offended another person, we are to go make it right.  Ask forgiveness for the offense.  Humble ourselves.  Seek to reconcile with that person.

I’m not a psychologist, but it is obvious that holding in bitterness and unforgiveness is unhealthy physically, emotionally and especially spiritually for the persons involved, both the offended and the offender.

Oh Father, make me a forgiving person.  Father, You have forgiven me of millions of offenses by your extravagant grace through the sacrifice of Your Son Jesus.  Help me to forgive just one offense against me.  Help me to humble myself when I offend someone else and seek to make it right with them.

I Don’t Do Drugs

I have never experimented with illegal drugs.  Of course I take the occasional over-the-counter stuff when needed and my doctor’s prescriptions.  But I have not experienced the drug-induced high of marijuana, cocaine, and the like which sadly, addict many people.

But yesterday, I was on a high.  But what a good one!  Six people, precious in God’s sight, came forward at invitation time. Three of them seeking baptism!  I shared the gospel with two of them yesterday afternoon.  They prayed, believing the Gospel wholeheartedly, and received Christ as Lord & Savior!

Dozens of people encouraged me that the messages are hitting home.  Even in the 2.5 hour Personnel Committee meeting, God gave me a sense that these people are passionate for excellence in serving God in and through this congregation called Balboa Baptist Church!  That’s really amazing, huh!?

Forty years of experience in local church ministry has drilled into me another reality.  Enjoy the emotional high of days like yesterday, but emotions DO subside.  A coming-down always follows.

Jesus led Peter, James, and John to a mountaintop. An amazing meeting with God, Moses, & Elijah unfolds.  The divine Jesus glowed brightly with the shekinah glory of God.  I would have done the same thing as these three disciples wanted to do!  They wanted to build a house and STAY there!

But Jesus immediately took them back down to the valley of reality.  They encounter a demon-possessed man. Jesus healed him.  Jesus confronts the disciples with their small faith.  Wow, what a spiritual gut-check. (Click here to see Mark 9)

Now don’t get me wrong.  I am still rejoicing in the victories!  I am praising the Lord at 4:00 a.m.!  Praise the Lord!  The spiritual high is still real! God is SO good. God’s mercies endure forever.

I believe God took pleasure in His people yesterday.  Many of you invested in these six persons’ lives through Sunday School, ministry, friendship, and love.  You have been doing this for months or years before I ever came on the scene.  I praise the Lord I got to see the fruit of your labor!  You planted, watered, cultivated, and weeded.  Fruit!  Excuse my grammar but, “You done good!” God gave the increase and honored your labor of love.

I believe God adorned your humble acts of kindness with the results of salvation. Committees sort out the nitty-gritty details of church life behind the scenes. But keeping our eyes on THIS prize is why we do it all!  This is the big WHY!  This is the GOAL!  This is the BIG PICTURE that keeps pulling us into the future with faith.  We are to make disciples.  Jesus said He would build His church.

Let’s marinate in what God has done!  And then let’s get back to work.

“For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.” Psalm 149:4

I Loved the Family Vacation!

A contrary man spreads conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.” Proverbs 16:28

Each summer while growing up in Glenwood, we made an annual trek to Lake Greeson to camp for a week.  We went to the lake almost every week on my Dad’s day off during the summer, but this week was special.

Before the Corps of Engineers changed the rules, we even camped in an area with no camping facilities.  My Dad hunted a lot back then, so he knew all the back roads.

He pulled our small camper behind his pickup truck.  Dad piled the old homemade wooden picnic table upside-down in the back of the pickup with lots of other stuff on top it.  We camped at the end of a peninsula that jutted out into the lake.  We felt like the Swiss Family Robinson on our own deserted island!

My mother drove the station wagon packed with supplies.  My Mom’s parents, Victor and Gladys Cooper, usually came too.  They came in tow with an old army tent.  They slept on cots.

My Grandpa Cooper loved to make things instead of buy them.  He made a cooking table from a flat piece of metal and old plumbing pipes that screwed in for legs.  He was tight with the finances.  He rarely bought any fancy camping equipment because he could make just about anything from the old stuff he had stored in the old chicken house he had converted to a shop / storage building.

My Mom, Dad, younger sister and two brothers slept in the little camper.  I slept by myself in the station wagon.

We skied, swam, fished, played, ate, and hiked all day.  My Dad drove the boat a lot while we skied.  My Mom cooked.  Granny Cooper painted lake scenes. I still have some of her paintings (see photo).  Papa Cooper made the frame.

In the evenings, tired and sunburned, we drank lots of iced tea, and sat around a small fire.  The old Coleman lantern my Dad had pumped up and lighted hung in a tree nearby.

Granny Cooper always wanted to play the whisper game.  She would whisper a sentence into the ear of the person next to her.  Then they in turn would whisper to the next until it went around the circle.  Then the last person would repeat out loud what they heard.

Granny then revealed the original sentence.  The difference was amazing!  The end statement did not even resemble the original.  We would laugh and laugh at the ridiculous things that came out on the other end!

Wow, what a lesson it taught us as children!

Repeating half-truths, assumptions, exaggerations, and hear-say in life doesn’t get laughs.  It gets conflict and damaged relationships.  Ruthlessly reject gossip!  It will destroy a congregation’s unity and hinder God’s work and Spirit!

Encourage each other.  Praise the Lord.  Speak only truth.  Say lots of prayers.  Use your words carefully.

Father, discipline our lives to carefully build-up with our words instead of carelessly throwing words to the wind.

 

Who Does God See & Hear?

“… the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are open to their request.” 1 Peter 3.11

Who are the “righteous” that the Lord sees them and opens His ears to their requests? Because I want US to be those people!

God has placed His Righteousness in us at salvation (Romans 1:17). So what is the evidence that we are living-out that righteousness within the body of Christ, our congregation? Who are these people?

In 1 Peter 3.8-11 the answer is:
1. “Like-minded” people — united in spirit & purpose, of the same disposition. I see our uniting purpose as “leading people to life-changing encounters with Jesus.”
2. “Sympathetic” people — sharing each others emotions, grieving together and rejoicing together. When someone prospers or succeeds, do you get jealous? Or rejoice with them?
3. Those who “love believers” — same word as “Philadelphia” or brotherly love.
4. “Compassionate” people — feel genuine pity and tenderness toward each other.
5. “Humble” people — are friendly, kind, courteous, and consider others before self.
6. People “not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult” — not retaliatory, “insult” is literally “spearing.”
7. People “giving a blessing, since you were called for this” — they encourage each other.
8.”Keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit” kind of people — no fraud, exaggeration, gossip, dishonesty, or guile.
9. People who “turn away from evil and do what is good”
10. People who “seek peace and pursue it” — they are peacemakers and unifiers.

And the result for the congregation that lives out these “righteous” ways will be:
1. “You can inherit a blessing” (v.9)
2. You will “love life and see good days” (v.10)
3. AND BACK WHERE WE STARTED! “… the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are open to their request.” 1 Peter 3.11

Oh! How I want the Lord’s eyes upon us and His ears open to us!

Perhaps you have seen this quote floating around the Internet or have heard it said,

“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”

Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, points out that the tell-tale sign that God’s righteousness is obviously present or absent is in HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS!

The most important command is to “Love God.” OK, that’s easy, He’s perfect and its easy to love a perfect, flawless person.

The second most important command is to “Love your neighbor.” OK, that’s not easy, neighbors are imperfect, dysfunctional, have problems, hang-on to their hang-ups, and are even sinners. But guess what?! It is in those relationships with those all around us, who have “battles” we know nothing about, that we are to demonstrate “righteousness.”

Oh our Father, everyone we meet today is fighting a battle about which we may or may not know. We earnestly desire for Your eyes to be upon us and Your ears open to us. Fill us with Your compassion to overflowing. May the overflow spill over into the lives of those we encounter today.