Thursday, July 16, 2009

Two Ways to Live

My friend Jeff sent me this quote this morning. Check it out:
"Two men may have the same affliction; to one it shall be as gall and wormwood, yet it shall be wine and honey and delightfulness and joy and advantage and riches to the other. This is the mystery of contentment, not so much by removing the evil, as by metamorphosing the evil, by changing the evil into good."

Taken from the book The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment By Jeremiah Burroughs 1648
Isn't it true that two people can face the same circumstance and based on their relationship with God either experience that circumstance as a curse or as a great blessing?

Thank God that the promise for the child of God is to use "all things" for our good and his glory!

That changes everything.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Little Children, Keep Yourself from Idols!

I spent time reading this post from John Piper out loud this morning. It so helped me! Last night we spent time looking at some home videos of some precious memories. It tempted me to love the gifts more than the Giver and pine for old times. This helped so much!

Take some time to read it out loud and let these truths lead you today. Enjoy. (I recommend reading through Dr. Piper's blog - he has a gift for getting to the core of things - see )

12 Ways to Recognize the Rise of Covetousness
By John Piper
June 17, 2009

Most of us realize that enjoying anything other than God, from the best gift to the basest pleasure, can become idolatry. Paul says in Colossians 3:5, “Covetousness is idolatry.”

“Covetousness” means desiring something other than God in the wrong way. But what does that mean—“in the wrong way”?

The reason this matters is both vertical and horizontal. Idolatry will destroy our relationship with God. And it will destroy our relationships with people.

All human relational problems—from marriage and family to friendship to neighbors to classmates to colleagues—all of them are rooted in various forms of idolatry, that is, wanting things other than God in wrong ways.

So here is my effort to think biblically about what those wrong ways are. What makes an enjoyment idolatrous? What turns a desire into covetousness, which is idolatry?

1. Enjoyment is becoming idolatrous when it is forbidden by God. For example, adultery and fornication and stealing and lying are forbidden by God. Some people at some times feel that these are pleasurable, or else we would not do them. No one sins out of duty. But such pleasure is a sign of idolatry.

2. Enjoyment is becoming idolatrous when it is disproportionate to the worth of what is desired. Great desire for non-great things is a sign that we are beginning to make those things idols.

3. Enjoyment is becoming idolatrous when it is not permeated with gratitude. When our enjoyment of something tends to make us not think of God, it is moving toward idolatry. But if the enjoyment gives rise to the feeling of gratefulness to God, we are being protected from idolatry. The grateful feeling that we don’t deserve this gift or this enjoyment, but have it freely from God’s grace, is evidence that idolatry is being checked.

4. Enjoyment is becoming idolatrous when it does not see in God’s gift that God himself is more to be desired than the gift. If the gift is not awakening a sense that God, the Giver, is better than the gift, it is becoming an idol.

5. Enjoyment is becoming idolatrous when it is starting to feel like a right, and our delight is becoming a demand. It may be that the delight is right. It may be that another person ought to give you this delight. It may be right to tell them this. But when all this rises to the level of angry demands, idolatry is rising.

6. Enjoyment is becoming idolatrous when it draws us away from our duties. When we find ourselves spending time pursuing an enjoyment, knowing that other things, or people, should be getting our attention, we are moving into idolatry.

7. Enjoyment is becoming idolatrous when it awakens a sense of pride that we can experience this delight while others can’t. This is especially true of delights in religious things, like prayer and Bible reading and ministry. It is wonderful to enjoy holy things. It idolatrous to feel proud that we can.

8. Enjoyment is becoming idolatrous when it is oblivious or callous to the needs and desires of others. Holy enjoyment is aware of others’ needs and may temporarily leave a good pleasure to help another person have it. One might leave private prayer to be the answer to someone else’s.

9. Enjoyment is becoming idolatrous when it does not desire that Christ be magnified as supremely desirable through the enjoyment. Enjoying anything but Christ (like his good gifts) runs the inevitable risk of magnifying the gift over the Giver. One evidence that idolatry is not happening is the earnest desire that this not happen.

10. Enjoyment is becoming idolatrous when it is not working a deeper capacity for holy delight. We are sinners still. It is idolatrous to be content with sin. So we desire transformation. Some enjoyments shrink our capacities of holy joy. Others enlarge them. Some go either way, depending on how we think about them. When we don’t care if an enjoyment is making us more holy, we are moving into idolatry.

11. Enjoyment is becoming idolatrous when its loss ruins our trust in the goodness of God. There can be sorrow at loss without being idolatrous. But when the sorrow threatens our confidence in God, it signals that the thing lost was becoming an idol.

12. Enjoyment is becoming idolatrous when its loss paralyzes us emotionally so that we can’t relate lovingly to other people. This is the horizontal effect of losing confidence in God.

Again: Great sorrow is no sure sign of idolatry. Jesus had great sorrow. But when desire is denied, and the effect is the emotional inability to do what God calls us to do, the warning signs of idolatry are flashing.
For myself and for you, I pray the admonition of 1 John 5:21, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”

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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Why All The Rain?

Well, we can answer that on many fronts - from God's providence to the water cycle etc. But, in terms of meteorology - the strength of the Bermuda High and the Icelandic low seem to control whether we have a stormy or sunny pattern. Usually in the winter we have a weak Bermuda high and a weak Icelandic low and thus lots of storms and in the summer we get a strong Bermuda high and Icelandic low leading to sunny weather. (Check out the graphic.)

Currently, we are in a more winter-like part of the North Atlantic Oscillation so we have lots of cold, wet weather. Lord willing we will break into the summer pattern as the summer sun does it work.

A few things to do amidst the two months of cloudy rainy days:
  1. Remember the sun has shone and the sun will shine according to God's kind providence to us - so we can wait for the coming sunny days.
  2. Don't allow the current weather to define our sense of well-being - there is something far more glorious than the weather to do that - God's glory in Christ revealed to and in us!
  3. Thank God that he is the source of all good things and don't take his blessings (including sunny days) for granted.
  4. Fill our days with thanksgiving for these untold blessings instead of complaining about the weather.
  5. Share with others why you are thankful.

Hope that helps!