Monday, December 3, 2007


Do we really need someone to rescue us? Jesus rescued me, and I love Him and am forever indebted to Him for His sacrifice. What if some guy rescued me? I think I would love him. After all, Baldy basically rescued me, and I though that if circumstances were different, I’d marry him. But Joel didn’t rescue me (unless I consider befriending rescuing) and I felt the same way about him. But how hard it is to wait and now know for what or whom.

I would guess that most people prefer deeper friendships to shallow friendships. But how healthy, normal, accepted, right is it to prefer deeper friendships to no friendships? But then, how can you form deep friendships without first making and then cultivating shallow friendships?
Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. Isaiah 60:1-2


Generosity is not just giving others (and God) my (God’s) money, but also time, talents, knowledge; basically everything I’ve been given and am thankful for, I need to be willing to give away if God so calls.

Take, for instance, the hymn “All to Jesus…I Surrender All.” What if we substituted “10 percent to Jesus I surrender, 10 percent to Him I freely give”? How ridiculous. His grace and payment for my sins require all of me!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Jacob and Esau: A Quick Study

  • Joseph was born circa 1914 BC.
  • Reuben (Leah's son) was 7 years old, had seven brothers, and Jacob had been married to Rachel for 6 years when Leah sold mandrakes to Rachel to lay with Leah.
  • Esau and Jacob were born circa 2005 BC.
  • When Isaac blessed Jacob, he was 137 and Jacob & Esau were 77.
  • Isaac lived another 43 years (he died at 180).
  • Jacob worked for Laban 20 years—7 for Rachel but got Leah, 7 for Rachel again, and 6 for the flocks.
  • Joseph was 30 when he stood before Pharaoh.
  • Joseph saw his father (Jacob) after the 7 years of plenty and 2 years of famine.
  • Jacob was sent away to Laban around 1928 BC.
Although Jacob and Esau never really got along, you would think that they would have learned to get along. Amazingly, at age 77, Jacob tricked Isaac to receive Esau's blessing from Isaac, they fought, Esau threatened to kill Jacob, and Jacob ran away to his uncle. Grow up, "kids!" Work it out like gentlemen!

Oh, and at 77, Jacob let his mother convince him to deceive his father? Yikes!

Jacob got the blessing and rejoiced (albeit quickly). Esau did not receive the same blessing as Jacob and he whined. He was 77!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Thanks and Approaching

So I actually had a plan going into this composition, but it turns out that what I wanted to say has already been said. Although the following quotes may not seem to fit together, they represent some of the best news in the world and I could not keep that to myself. I was thinking about how children are so willing to pray—for dinner, initially. But then I got to thinking about how thankful I am for all that God has done for me and how privileged I am to be able to thank Him for His provision. That privilege in itself is unique to Christianity; how many other religions follow a living God with whom they can have a personal relationship?

Romans 5:1, 10-11 “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Romans 8:26-27 “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.”

Romans 5:10-11 “For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also REJOICE in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

Philippians 4:4-9 “REJOICE in the Lord always. I will say it again: REJOICE! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with THANKSGIVING, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

I Timothy 2:1-6 “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time.”

Hebrews 2:5-8 “It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. But there is a place where someone has testified: ‘What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor and put everything under his feet.’”

Hebrews 4:14-16 “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Hebrews 5:7-10 “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.”

Hebrews 6:10-12 “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.”

Hebrews 6:18 “God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged.”

Hebrews 9:13-14 “The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!”

Hebrews 9:15 “For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.”

Hebrews 10:15-26 “The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: ‘This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.’ Then he adds: ‘Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.’ And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin. Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

All quotes are from the NIV Bible. Emphasis added.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Job's Interaction with God

So I wanted to write something really good and deep, because it’s been a while since I’ve really written anything, but I decided that I can’t say what I want to say any better than the Maker Himself has said.

To give a little context, Job was a well-known man in his city, had a large family and numerous assets, and then lost it all because God spoke of him to Satan. God said, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is not like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” Satan responded by saying that God had protected Job, and if He removed His protection, Job would curse God. God then allowed Satan to afflict Job.

Job never cursed God, but he did question (raise accusations against) Him and request his own death. After Job’s friends attempted to counsel him, God answered Job out of a storm (whirlwind) and said the following (and oh, so much more!):
Job 38:3 Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me.

Job 38:4, 6, 12, 16, and 18 Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone, Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place, Have you entered the springs of the sea? Or have you walked in search of the depths? Have you comprehended the breadth of the earth? Tell Me, if you know all this.

Job 38:31, 33, 36–38 Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades, or loose the belt of Orion? Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you set their dominion over the earth? Who has put wisdom in the mind? Or who has given understanding to the heart? Who can number the clouds by wisdom? Or who can pour out the bottles of heaven, when the dust hardens in clumps, and the clods cling together?
Oh, if I could quote the rest, and chapter 39 too! God mentions His love for and control over the lion and her cubs, the raven and her young, the mountains, the goats, the deer, the bear and her young, the wild donkeys, the wild ox, the ostrich, the stork, the horse and rider, the locust, the hawk, and the eagle and its young.
Job 40:2 Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him? He who rebukes God, let him answer it.”
Job answered that he was guilty as charged: he should not have found fault with God, insisted on his own understanding, thought God unjust.

God continued in Job’s silence:
Job 40:9 Have you an arm like God? Or can you thunder with a voice like His?
Then in 40:15–24, God talks about the behemoth (possibly an elephant or hippo, but definitely and strong and extraordinary beast). In 41:1–34, God talks about the leviathan, a mighty beast that could easily overwhelm man but was no match for Himself.

Job answered, “I know that you can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You” (42:2). “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You” (42:5).

Not only does God ask this all of Job, the way He asks the questions implies that He Himself has done all these things!

Friday, October 12, 2007


I’ve been reading through the book of Mark lately. I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never noticed Mark’s tone throughout this book. Everything is so quick. Most new paragraphs or stories start with “Then,” “How,” “Immediately,” “When,” “So they went,” “Now,” “And,” etc. The story moves along so well, and while these aren’t necessarily transitional phrases, they bond the whole book together. Mark wrote to Gentiles, so that also gives his writing a different tone—they were welcome, they could believe the Messiah of the Jews and be saved.

I am not ashamed to admit that I am learning more as I read through this and am picking up on this I may not have connected before. For instance, Mark highlights many of Jesus’ healing miracles. After nearly all of them, Jesus tells the one healed not to tell anyone what he had done and who He was. (See 1:34, 43; 3:13; 5:34; 7:36; 8:26, 30; 9:9; and 11:33.)

His fame, however, spread, and He had to stay basically in hiding for a time because He was being pursued by so many. (See 1:28, 35, 45; 2:13; 3:7; 6:32; 7:24; 8:9–10, 13, 30; 14:32.)

And then, the climax. When directly questioned by the high priest, He answered clearly. “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” Jesus said, “I am.” Short. Sweet. TRUE. And the high priest accused Him of blasphemy.

Jesus continues His silence during the beatings and mockings, although He had the power to call on the angels to save Him. But as He had said, He must endure to fulfill the prophecy. After another direct question, this time from Pilate, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus answers, “It is as you say.” Again, the truth. And it led, ultimately, to His death on the cross.

If He had remained silent, they may not have killed Him. Yes, men testified against Him, but their testimonies did not agree. Yet He told the truth and paid the price of death.

The amazing thing is that He paid that price for you and me, if only we believe who He says He is and obey His commands. He loves His children and wants to have a personal relationship with those who trust Him. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” But don’t stop there. James 2:19–20 warns and encourages: “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” Note here, however, that “James is not contrasting two methods of salvations (faith versus works). Instead, he contrasts two kinds of faith: living faith that saves and dead faith that does not.” (John MacArthur, the MacArthur Study Bible, NKJV)

I am continually amazed at how, through numerous writers and hundreds of years, the 66 books of the Bible tie together through the Spirit’s work in the writers. As I said, I am not ashamed to say I am still learning as I read and grow. In everything I do, I’ve found that the more you think you know, the more you realize you have so much more to learn.
Isaiah 40:28–31 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

One of Whom the World is Not Worthy?

Am I one of whom the world is not worthy? Have you ever looked really closely at the men (and women) in9 the hall of faith in Hebrews 11? Many of these people were never recognized for the tasks that they performed. They showed faith. The only way they could have done what they did was through faith.

Take Gideon, for example. The Midianites had a huge, frightening army. Gideon had next to no one, but he had God on his side.

David had five stones and a sling shot to fight against Goliath. David should have been crushed. But he knew God was on his side—he hit Goliath with the first stone and finished by cutting off his head.
1 Samuel 17:37, 45–47

Moreover David said, “The LORD, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”

Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. Then all this assembly shall know that the LORD does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD’s, and He will give you into our hands.”
But what about the saints in the hall of faith who ended up like Goliath because of their obedience to God. They were tempted, imprisoned, wandering, mocked, scourged, tortured, stoned, slain, destitute, afflicted, slain, sawn in two. And they obtained a good testimony through faith.

Would I be willing to endure those struggles to bring glory to my God and Savior Jesus Christ?
Hebrews 11:32–40

And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again.

Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented—of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.

And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Black and White Vs. Gray

As I return home from visiting my sister, I have time to reflect on my life as it is now. The most important things in my life are that Christ as my Savior and redeemer and my relationship with Him. But I wonder if others see what I say is true, or if I am doing what I do for the right reasons. Am I putting aside myself for the eternal situation of others and for the glory of Christ? Or am I as the Pharisees, doing what I do only out of legalistic beliefs? Or am I as I should be, doing what I do out of obedience and a desire to please God?

As my sister and brother-in-law were describing their and their friends’ involvement in their church, it became more obvious (although I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the last few weeks) to me the different between my friends in Oshkosh and those I’m getting to know here.

In Oshkosh, all my friends were involved in the church somehow, and most with the youth: youth pastor (and elder, among other responsibilities), junior high youth leaders, high school youth leaders, Sunday school teachers, nursery workers, sound booth workers, to name a few. In Nashville, one that I know of co-teaches a Sunday school class. (One major difference that may or may not be related: Oshkosh church—200–300 attendees; Nashville church—3,000 attendees.)

I have noticed in my recent moths of babysitting how much young kids look up to and imitate those they are around. I’m convinced that my friends in Oshkosh realized this, and although not necessarily required as black or white in the Bible, portrayed higher standards than most other recent college graduates around the area may have. For instance, on New Year’s Eve 2006, the college group opted for a lock-in at the church, but only after all from the church who wanted to came out to play games that the college group organized.

The college and careers group at my Nashville church decided that it would be fun during our recent weekend excursion around TN to take a trip to a bar and grill for a steak and a cold beer.

Now, lest you misunderstand, I’m not saying that anything is good or bad with either approach. But it is plainly obvious the difference between the two, the influence of one group over the youth in the church, the black-and white stand versus the gray stand.

Robin and Jason brought this to mind when I visited them. While I am still in the same country after my recent move, I have still had to deal with some culture shock. Many in Nashville (I make generalizations knowing that they do not apply to everyone, but merely to state what I’ve observed) decide what is right or wrong based on feelings and personal interpretations, while those in Sheboygan and Oshkosh (at least those with whom I’ve had close contact) decide one way or the other and stand by their decisions, even if they are wrong. If I didn’t know this is where I am supposed to be, and to whom I should be spreading the truth of hell, God’s grace, and eternal life, I may not enjoy living here so much. If I had not decided at an early age where I would set certain boundaries, I may have been tempted to abandon them. But it is only through God’s grace and abounding mercy that I strive to honor and please Him in all I do.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

My Mission Field

My mission field is changing, I’ve noticed recently. I’ve now been in Nashville for nine months, the longest I’ve been in any one place (with college and summers in the mix) for the last six years. And, unlike when I was in Oshkosh, I don’t feel the call to move. Rather, I feel called to minister, to be a light, to my small but growing circle.

Biking around here is amazing—the scenery is breathtaking, the weather incredible. I recently wondered, out loud, if non-riders appreciate God’s creation as much as we do. I was shocked at the response from my riding partner at the time. Paraphrased, he said, “I don’t go to church much, but sometimes my wife and I will watch those preachers on TV. Some of them are so big I think they should get out here and ride. They cover it up with big expensive suits, but they still look big, and you could fit three men in the material used for those suits.

“Oh, God,” I prayed, “he’s so lost. And look at the image of You some of these ‘Christian’ preachers are portraying. This is the only image of You he’s seeing now; help me to show You through me in all I do and say.” Thankfully, God is so able and adequate, especially when I question my ability or keep my mouth shut. How do I know but that I have come to this position for such a time as this? (Esther 4:14)

A Name Better Than...

Isaiah 56:4-5 For this is what the Lord says: "To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases Me and hold fast to My covenant – to them I will give within My temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off."
A Name Better Than Sons and Daughters

Was it Shakespeare who asked, “What’s in a name?” There’s something about hearing people, especially friends, say your name. It defines you; it sets you apart from others around you. But there are other words that might describe you, too. For me, I’d use words like athletic, loyal, determined, competitive. One word that rarely appears in descriptive lists such as above is daughter. There is no doubt, however, that each of us is someone’s son or daughter. To me falls the privilege of calling myself the daughter of Cliff and Bobbi Acheson.

I can thank only God alone that what He has joined together (in the marriage of my parents), no man has torn apart (Matthew 19:6b).

I love my parents. As far as I know, they have raised all three of us girls by the commands of the Bible. I have tried to follow their godly example. My dad studies the Scriptures daily, a trait that I admire and have tried to mirror—not just because he is doing it, but because I have seen the impact of this discipline in his life. My mom loves serving others. I remember her making meals for families in our church. More recently, she came to visit me and basically cleaned and set up my whole apartment. I can’t imagine loving my parents more, or them loving me more.

How is it possible, then, that my parents are only an example? Not just an example of how I should be when I have kids of my own, or other kids now whose lives I impact (I consider those I baby sit my kids). But my parents are also an example of how my Father in heaven loves me and cares for me. My parents don’t necessarily know everything I do, where I go, or who my friends are. Not because I hide it from then, but because it is hard to communicate all that in just a weekly phone call or infrequent visits. How much more real, then, is it to understand that God knows every sparrow that falls and every hair on my head! (Luke 12:6-7)

And I am His daughter! What a name! And what a responsibility. As much as I represent the Achesons, I represent God infinitely more. How important is it for more me, then, to know and act on the fact that my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit! (1 Corinthians 6:19) And how incomprehensible, then, to see that God will give me a name better than daughter. In this world, I cannot imagine a better name.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Let No Unwholesome Word...

Exodus 20:7 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.”

What should our reaction as Christians be when people use the Lord’s name in vain? I often don’t expect it, so when I hear it, it surprises me and grates on my nerves. But I don’t know how to react. Do I tell those people that it bothers me? Do I say, “That’s my Lord”? Do I ask if they’d like me to use their name in that way? What if they say no?

I don’t feel like I should just do nothing, but I don’t know how to react quickly, and by the time I think about a reaction, the conversation has moved along.

In other cases, regarding other words, someone may say, “Language.” Is that an acceptable response to this as well? My guess would be that no one would know what I was referring to when/if I said that.

How can I be a light without putting people off (in fact, should I be worried about putting people off when I’m standing up for my Lord?)? I’ve tried to answer, “Yes, He is good,” when people say, “Good Lord!” I think they often don’t realize what they are saying. But I want to do something. I want to be a light and share the truth when them. I don’t want to keep the truth and hope to myself!

It’s amazing to read about the transcribers of old, who had to perform a ritual prior to writing God’s name. If interrupted while writing, they would not react until they were done writing. What respect. And God deserves it all!

John MacArthur has said the following:
To fail to perform an oath in which His name had been legitimately uttered was to call
into question His existence, since the guilty party evidently had no further thought of the God whose name he had used to improve his integrity. … To use God’s name is such a way as to bring disrepute upon His character or deeds was to irreverently misuse His name. … For the believer…, the use of the name of God is not a needed verification of his intention and trustworthiness since his life is to exhibit truth on all occasions, with his “yes” meaning “yes” and his “no” meaning “no.”
Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.
While this addresses my words as a believer, it also brings in those hearing my words. Therefore, I can’t just not say anything, but I must say something to spread the gospel—to exhibit God’s love, mercy, wrath, and grace for the hearers.
Ephesians 4:32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
John MacArthur has also said this:
Foul language of any sort should never pass a Christian’s lips, because it is totally out of character with his new life in Christ. … The Christian’s speech should be instructive, encouraging, uplifting, and suited for the moment.
Proverbs 15:23 A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!

Proverbs 24:26 He who gives a right answer kisses the lips.

Proverbs 25:11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.

(These are just a few references to words and their importance that can be found in Proverbs; it is full of admonitions regarding speech!)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Good Deed for the Day?

Proverbs 31:20 “She extends her hand to the poor, yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.”

I did my good deed for the day today. Not in a legalistic, what-I-do-will-get-me-to-heaven kind of way, although I felt the temptation to feel that way. (While good works are a sign of a true, living, and active faith, they are not required for salvation. Because I am God’s daughter, the things that I do ought to please Him. But because I have trusted Jesus as my Savior, my only hope and the one who purged me of my sins before the Almighty, even if I do nothing I would still be His daughter. Please note: I am not advocating idleness. I am only stating the truth in an effort to clarify the narrow way to heaven.)

Every Thursday I exit the highway on a different ramp than normal. Last week, I noticed a man holding a sign and sitting next to that exit ramp. My initial thought was, “God, please protect me. My windows are down and my doors are unlocked.” That thought lasted a split second. My second thought was, “I had a sandwich and string cheese for lunch. What do I have left over that I can give to him?” But I had nothing left.

I didn’t immediately forget the incident, but by today I had completely forgotten it. Then I saw him again. Same spot, different sign. Dirty clothes, no smile. And this time, I had food: apples, in a disposable container. But I froze, and questioned internally, “What if he’s not really homeless? What if he’s an addict? Should I give him money? What if he tries to open my doors?” Again, my windows were down and my doors were unlocked.

The lady next to me made the first move. She honked, and he came over to her car. She gave him money and talked for a few seconds. That was just enough time for me to react. I grabbed the apples, called to him, and gave him the container. My taffy apple salad will taste a little different than usual, but I did my good deed.

Yet here I am, writing, which begs the question: WHY?

Williamson County is one of the wealthiest counties in the US. Jobs are available, people are moving in, and churches are thriving. I have heard so much about caring for the poor, widows, and children. But what can I do on a regular basis?

I heard about a woman who, after ignoring a homeless man in Chicago on her way to church every week for a few months, finally began making a sandwich and giving it to him when she passed by. Is that something I can do, too?

How can I obey without making what I’m doing rote “service”? How can I be a light in the darkness, without being shaded by the culture? How can I make service and sacrifice part of my daily walk?

Leviticus 25:35 ‘If one of your brethren becomes poor, and falls into poverty among you, then you shall help him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you.

Deuteronomy 15:7 “If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother.”

Deuteronomy 15:11 “For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.’”

Psalm 82:3 “Defend the poor and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and needy.”

Proverbs 14:21 “He who despises his neighbor sins; But he who has mercy on the poor, happy is he.”

Proverbs 14:31 “He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who honors Him has mercy on the needy.”

Proverbs 19:17 “He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD, and He will pay back what he has given.”

Proverbs 21:13 “Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard.”

Ezekiel 16:49 “Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.”

Matthew 25:31-46 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. … Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ …
“And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ …
“Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Mark 10:21 “Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.’”

1 Corinthians 13:3 “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.”

Galatians 2:10 “They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do.”

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Rules Vs. Relationship

I have come to realize that there are (at least) two distinct ways to live and lead a household: 1) living by rules, and 2) living by relationship. Their concepts seem pretty self-explanatory, but I have observed several differences between the two that I want to share. This is not an exhaustive list by any means.

I see households governed by rules and relationships to have the following characteristics (some may be good, some not, but these are just observations):

Living by Rules
  • Consistency dominates
  • Obedience exists
  • Law presides
  • Performance is the focus
  • Self-evaluation is lacking
  • Serving others is present if time permits
  • Changes occur when culture changes
  • Consequences are carried out
Living by Relationship
  • Inconsistency exists (“What do I feel like doing today?”)
  • Obedience is disputable
  • Law is not required
  • Relationship with others is the focus
  • Self-evaluation is prevalent
  • Serving others is expected
  • Changes occur when feelings and circumstances change
  • Consequences are not implemented
As you can see, there are positives and negatives to both sides. Since that is the case, is one really better than the other? Is it a situation where you can start with one and decide if it works for your family? Then, if it doesn’t work, you can switch to the other one and just hope it works and that no one rebels?

(I prefer one philosophy over the other, and the household I grew up in was definitely one of the two. But I am in no way trying to advocate one or the other; I am just stating their differences, mainly so that I can see them written out and compared in a civilized manner [words!].)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Lessons From Theology's Greatest Hits II

Today, I went to a theology class at my church and the teacher (who teaches at a seminary around the area) has some really interesting things to say. The first thing that really stuck out to me was the following passage:
This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop (overseer), he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given (addicted) to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who roles his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); not a novice (new convert), lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. I Timothy 3:1-7 NKJV
How tough would it be, as a young man in leadership to follow all those commands? The Bible gives advice and commands, but it also gives the way to complete what God mandated.
How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to Your Word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from Your commands. Psalm 119: 9-10 NIV
We are, on our own, utterly incapable of carrying out that which He instructs apart from the saving grace of His own Son.

Fully God/Fully Man
The second thing we discussed was the fact that Jesus, while on earth, was fully God and fully man. Of that I have no doubt. However, the teacher also suggested that Jesus, while currently in heaven, is still fully God and fully man and exists in his perfect, resurrected body, while all others in heaven are spirit-souls sans the body. He implied that when we die, our souls will go to heaven while our bodies will remain here. Again, of that I have now doubt. Then, when the new heaven and new earth are here for us to enjoy, we will reunite with our perfected bodies and once again be made complete.

The teacher also mentioned that while we are in heaven, before God “remembers” us and “re-members” our bodies, we will feel incomplete.

How can we feel incomplete in a perfect place?

How can Jesus continue to be fully God and fully man while sitting at the right hand of the throne of God, ruling the earth and acting as the intermediary between us and God?
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV

For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. I Timothy 2:5-6 NKJV
I imagine it would be easiest, at least from a human’s standpoint, for an intermediary to be completely equal to both sides between which he is mediating. It reminds me of the MENSA logic problem (with a little Ache-spin to it):
If all runners are swimmers, and some swimmers are bikers, are all runners bikers?
Well, I don’t really have an answer to the question “Is Jesus still fully God and fully man?” I will undoubtedly do some research within the Scripture to see what I can find (I have a few ideas of where to start looking, including 1) Jesus’ ascension, 2) the transfiguration, and 3) Revelation), but I wonder at the same time: How critical is it to salvation to understand whether Jesus is still fully God and fully man?

The important thing is that He did indeed make “Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” Philippians 2:7-8 NKJV. He came to save me from my sins when I put my trust in Him as my Savior, the answer to my needs, the only filler for my void.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Rules for When I Have a Family (A work in progress)

When I was younger, I thought my parents’ rules were over the top. We didn’t need so many rules, and my kids certainly weren’t going to have as many rules as we had.

Now I live with a family that has a very different parenting philosophy than I saw in my family and I’m learning how important it is to know what battles to fight with my children (when I have them to worry about).

1. Respect

  1. Honor your father and mother.
  2. Parents, do not exasperate your children.
  3. Obedience.
  4. Expect respect. Reward it, and discipline the lack of respect.
  5. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
  • Proverbs 13:13 He who scorns instruction will pay for it, but he who respects a command is rewarded.
  • Philippians 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
  • Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.
  • 1 Peter 2:17 Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.
  • Exodus 20:12 Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.
  • Proverbs 22:4 Humility and the fear of the LORD bring wealth and honor and life.
  • Psalm 62:7 My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
  • Proverbs 29:23 A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor.
  • Isaiah 26:13 O LORD, our God, other lords besides you have ruled over us, but your name alone do we honor.
  • Matthew 15:4 For God said, “Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.”
  • Matthew 15:8 These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
  • Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.
  • Ephesians 6:2 “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—
  • 1 Peter 2:17 Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.
  • Revelation 4:11 You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.
  • Revelation 5:12 In a loud voice they sang: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”

2. Follow-Through

  1. Set rules and consequences.
  2. Adhere to those rules.

3. Discipline

  1. Don’t be afraid to discipline.
  2. Discipline so that all the children know the consequence.
  • Proverbs 13:24 He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.
  • Deuteronomy 8:5 Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.
  • Deuteronomy 21:18-19 If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, 19 his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town.
  • Job 5:17 Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.
  • Psalm 94:12 Blessed is the man you discipline, O LORD, the man you teach from your law;
  • Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
  • Proverbs 3:11 My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke,
  • Proverbs 5:23 He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly.
  • Proverbs 10:17 He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.
  • Proverbs 12:1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.
  • Proverbs 13:18 He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored.
  • Proverbs 13:24 He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.
  • Proverbs 15:5 A fool spurns his father’s discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.
  • Proverbs 15:5 A fool spurns his father’s discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.
  • Proverbs 15:10 Stern discipline awaits him who leaves the path; he who hates correction will die.
  • Proverbs 15:32 He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding.
  • Proverbs 19:18 Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death.
  • Proverbs 22:15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.
  • Proverbs 23:13 Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die.
  • Proverbs 29:17 Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.
  • 1 Corinthians 11:32 When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.
  • 2 Timothy 1:7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
  • Hebrews 12:5 And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
  • Hebrews 12:6 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”
  • Hebrews 12:7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?
  • Hebrews 12:8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.
  • Hebrews 12:9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!
  • Hebrews 12:10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.
  • Hebrews 12:11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
  • Revelation 3:19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.

4. Communication

5. Cleanliness