Results, Not Reasons

“Then Peter began to say unto Him, ‘Lo, we have left all, and have followed Thee…'”  — Mark 10:28

Meditating on today’s devotional from My Utmost for His Highest, I am reminded that abandonment is not for what I’ll get out of it. Wretches that we are, we should persistently check our motives—even about why we want God! So we can be free from something? Or to be made holy? Chambers says these are the **results** of being right with God, not the **reasons.**  “It is like saying – “No, Lord, I don’t want Thee, I want myself; but I want myself clean… I want to be put in Thy show room…”  He calls it “miserable commercial self-interest”!

In a world that seems to be spinning out of control, these days we all juggle relationships, religion, and responsibilities. So I dare say true abandonment is intermittent, at best. Even the most mature people face a daily barrage of distress, direction, and distraction. Abandonment is expensive, and takes some wherewithal!  After Peter said, “We have left all,” Jesus promised great reward. But He was clear about significant outlay at the outset. After Peter finished his spiel, talking it up how he’d left everything, Jesus put him back in his place: “…many who are first will be last…”

Matthew Henry reminds us that “we stand in nearer relation to Christ than we do to any creature; and therefore to keep in with him, we must be content to break with all the world…”

Oswald ends with Luke 14:10, as will I:  “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.”

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I Broke a Promise Today

= – =

Tonight I’m feeling a little gray.

You see, I broke a promise today.

I wish I would never trade love for pride,

But I do it because I’m broken inside.

= – =

Much of life is such frustration.

How can I change this situation?

Problems with the way I deal

When things get dicey, things get real.

= – =

So I’ll start tomorrow, bright and early:

I’ll be patient and kind, and not too surly.

Not be offended by others’ deeds,

Rather, to focus on their needs.

= – =

My Father in Heaven knows everything:

What’s in my heart, under the bling.

So on my pillow tonight, I’ll pray,

Not to repeat what I did today.

= – =

I’m thankful that Jesus changed my heart,

Cleansed my sin; each day a new start.

Strength to persevere with peace at stake,

Knowing God’s love that nothing can shake!

= – =

 

 

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What is The Church?

WHAT IS THE CHURCH?

  • The church is a community of those called out by God from slavery to sin, declared just through faith in Christ, purchased by the crucified and risen Christ, Head over all things to the church.
  • The church will have an enduring testimony that cannot be destroyed by this world, Satan, or even death.
  • The church is people in whose hearts the Lord reigns as they honor Him with their lives.
  • The church advances through the gospel, as children of darkness are transformed into children of light.
  • God’s Law is her standard, God’s Word her creed, God’s will her mandate, God’s glory her ambition.
  • The church equips believers through teaching the Word, leading in worship, protecting under shepherds, providing opportunities to serve, accountability, and encouragement to stand firm.
  • The church is the King’s subjects, the Shepherd’s sheep, the Master’s servants, the Father’s adopted household, the Groom’s bride, the Vine’s branches, the Builder’s building.
  • The church displays God’s wisdom and mercy by proclaiming the gospel of Christ, so sinners might be rescued from darkness, and unbelieving Israel might be provoked to repentance.
  • The church exists to edify God by building its members up, faithfully teaching the Word, observing ordinances, fostering fellowship, and communicating the gospel.
  • The church is to Love, Welcome, Admonish, Care, Serve, Bear burdens, Be patient, Be kind, Forgive, Sing praises, Regard others as more important, Speak truth, Encourage, Seek good for others, Stir up to love and good works, Confess sins, Pray, Be hospitable, and Be humble.
  • The church leaders must meet biblical qualifications.
  • Churches that are courageously devoted to the Lord Jesus will be characterized by purity in both life and doctrine, often causing the world to resist or avoid them.
  • The church facilitates God’s Word, Baptism, The Lord’s Table, Prayer, Worship, Fellowship, and Church Discipline.
  • The church understands hope of salvation and the reality of coming judgment, so should be eager to proclaim the good news.

 

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Searching for a Church

Searching for a church can get pretty rough:
This one’s too soft, this one’s too tough;
This one’s too proud, this one’s too loud,
This one’s too stuffy, this one’s too fluffy.
= – =
We just want a teacher without any bling,
And a friendly congregation where we can sing.
We’re really not picky, we don’t ask for much,
But so often there are factions, judgments, and such.
= – =
We need the fellowship, accountability, and the wise,
To exalt God, edify saints, and to evangelize.
But I guess that’s the earth, with its ego and leaven;
We won’t find a perfected one until we get to heaven!

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A Visit at Dollar Tree

= – =

I ran into someone I knew,

While shopping at Dollar Tree.

Years had added a distance,

But I engaged her anyway.

= – =

Someone told her that we aren’t friends;

So it was awkward for awhile.

But we’d always had great rapport,

And, like old times, I made her smile.

= – =

I have walked in her awkward shoes,

(Sadly, I, too, used to shun).

So I spoke with grace and friendship,

(As we should with everyone!)

= – =

We shared about our families,

Neither of us held back much;

And chatted of holiday busy-ness,

Travel, grandkids, and such.

= – =

All the while, I was wondering:

It’s not the same: what’s the deal?

We used to be so very close,

So kindred, so loving, so real.

= – =

But this time it was different:

“I’ll let you go…”  — “I’d better get…”

I begged strength in Christ to ask her:

“Are you still at that place we met?”

= – =

“Yes,” she responded cleanly,

Touting their accomplishments.

It was all I could do to keep quiet,

And not share a long lament!

= – =

Her so-called church teaches shunning,

Unforgiveness, bitterness, and hate.

But we’ve spoken about this before,

So I just keep on praying, and wait.

= – =

Then, after a nice, long visit,

I breathed an audible sigh,

Shuffled my awkward shoes a bit

And quietly said, “Good-bye.”

= – =

 

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Skunks & Magpies

My husband just got back from a camping trip. While there, he and his buddy found themselves up-close and personal with a skunk. (Note to Self: Don’t spread out breadcrumbs for the magpies; odorous mammals are one notch up on the food chain.)

So our curious campers kept their cool as they carefully considered the cute, crunching critter. After awhile, my husband had the wherewithal to crawl into his tent to retrieve his pistol. But he wisely predicted an attack on all the senses, and settled on a flashlight. (Still risky, IMHO.) But it worked, and the hungry little intruder wiggled away.

This isn’t our first run-in with one of these stinkers. A few years back, our daughter’s dog got skunked!  I had her keep him outside while I rushed to the Internet. “Okay, Honey, get the hose and soak him down—keep him wet. I have to wake Dad up and send him to the store.”  So, picture this: in the middle of the night, this middle-aged, bleary-eyed dude places on the grocery counter a very sketchy collection of items! Hydrogen peroxide, a bottle with a long, rubber tip, baking soda, feminine hygiene douche, and latex gloves. The checker looks at the stuff, slowly moves her gaze up to Dave, then back down. She looks scared. He scrambles to find the words: “It’s for the dog! A skunk sprayed him!”

….Bwahahaha!

But I digress. My favorite part of this week’s story is how David tells it. I had already known he was infatuated with magpies: their rich coloring, chatty banter, and an affinity for collecting anything with Bling. (And I read that they’re one of the few non-mammal species that can recognize themselves in a mirror!)  Anyway, on this occasion David was especially enamored with the skunk. He said it was really cute.  (Hmm. I wasn’t convinced. Okay, so I Googled it. Yeah, he’s got a point.)

I think even cuter was Dave’s excited storytelling of all the assorted black-and-white beggars at their campsite. He’s always had a soft spot for animals and birds.

Had he not married the queen bee (“I don’t HAVE a dog”), I could see David with a couple of pets. He did bring home a dog once; it didn’t work out.

Now that we’re in this empty nest, the thought has crossed my mind. But, “yeah, no.” Dave can enjoy nature (even in our backyard!), then return to a house devoid of paw-prints, hair on the couch, tickley allergens, and other surprises.

Unless he reads this blog post and gets an idea. [NOOOOOO….!]

 

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Apply It!

I’ve been greatly benefiting from using the Life Journal. But now I’ve added a step, and it’s a game-changer!  I’m copying applications I notate each morning to… wait for it…. my calendar!

[ !!!!!! ]

This seems like a no-brainer. But evidently I have no brain.

[ “Thick as a Brick:  Adjective. 1. Very stupid; slow to learn or understand. 2. Album by Jethro Tull. See also: Dumb as an ox. ]

Anyway, here’s the deal: After the “S.O.A.P.” process (see March 6 post), the half-sheet of notes is given a title.

Examples:

  • Pursue Peace and Build Up
  • Mind Your Own Business
  • Confess & Forsake
  • Remember Your Redemption
  • Manifest His Grace
  • Strengthen Love
  • Wisdom in Mourning
  • Defeat the Devil
  • Let God Keep Perfecting
  • Empty Yourself
  • Press On
  • Think Good Thoughts
  • Persevere
  • Work Heartily
  • Grace to Unbelievers
  • Justice to the Afflicted
  • Submissive and Quiet
  • Behave Yourself
  • Pay Attention
  • Good Old Lady
  • Keep the Commandment
  • Vessel of Honor
  • Count on the Rescuer
  • Pray for Revival
  • Good Leader / Bad Leader
  • Titus 2 Woman
  • Show Mercy

Now, the calendar part: I consider these general applications (and the Scripture itself), and then—on my monthly planner—I write specific action items. Here are a few examples:

Pursue Peace and Build Up Plan an outing with friends this month

Help someone at Bible study

Remember Your Redemption Memorize a verse on assurance

Testify of your hope to someone this week

Manifest His Grace Pick a friend to bless this month

Write an encouragement card

Empty Yourself Tackle a dirty task every week

Pray on your knees

Work Heartily On To Do list items, notate the joy factor

Each day ask God, “What can I do for You today?”

Justice to the Afflicted Give to the Benevolent Fund

Listen for needs and team up with someone to meet them

Count on the Rescuer Be more logical in responses to worldly people

Respond graciously, counting on God to refill you

Show Mercy Show mercy to doubters

Bring the Gospel to spare some from  wrath

Show mercy, but disdain being polluted by the flesh

Over this last month, I’ve done lots of things I might not have without this simple process. I think I’m onto something big. ‘Hope it helps you, too. ❤

 

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