Finishing Strong

JenTony112208

Saturday night was a pretty cool night for me. First off I got to hang out with my wife at her annual holiday get together. She is in property management and once a year the group gets together to celebrate their accomplishments and recognize the top properties with various awards. It was a real fine time and my wife’s property won best of the best. It is a real testament to the hard work and dedication that she and her co-workers put into their job. I am super proud of her.

The second cool aspect of Saturday night was that Charlie Daniels was the entertainment for the party. I’m not a huge country music fan and so I knew going in that I wouldn’t be completely familiar with all the songs Charlie was going to perform. I was pretty confident that I would hear “Devil Went Down to Georgia”, but wasn’t what else. Well let me tell you the Charlie Daniels Band jammed. I was very impressed with the performance. I was more impressed when I figured out that Charlie is 72 years old. Check out the video below for just a small sampling of the performance.


 
Driving home last night I started to reflect on how impressive Charlie Daniels was. At 72 his voice was in good shape and his musical chops were still sharp. He mentioned at one point that he had been performing for 50 years. It seems to me that when it comes to music Charlie Daniels is finishing strong.

The Apostle Paul also finished strong. In his letter to Timothy he says in 2 Timothy 4:6-8:

6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

I didn’t really anticipate being challenged by seeing Charlie Daniels, but I was. I feel more encouraged today to finish strong. I hope my spiritual voice is in good shape and my spiritutal chops are sharp when I hit 72!

What inspires you to finish strong?

Grace and Peace.

Tony

Feeling Safe?

Most of us know the story of Jesus’ friend Lazarus. Basically, Lazarus died. He was dead and buried and beginning to decompose when Jesus arrived on the scene and raised him from the dead. For me this is the most spectacular of all Jesus’ miracles. It is all chronicled in John 11.

Interestingly, being raised from the dead is not the end of the story for Lazarus. We see in John 12 that because of Jesus’ interaction with Lazarus, he was now being noticed. John 12:9 records that that the same folks desiring to kill Jesus now want to take Lazarus out also. Can you imagine? Jesus brings you back from the dead and now there is a hit out on you.

The more I meditated on this story the more it hit home to me that this world isn’t always safe when you fly the banner of the kingdom. We are fortunate that living in America we are for the most part able to worship and spread the gospel without fear of a reprisal or violence. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for all Christians. I read a sad article (check it out here) today about Christians that are being targeted for assignation in India. The article said that one could receive up to $250 for killing a pastor. Now more than ever we need to pray for our brothers and sisters in foreign lands that risk their lives to share the good news about our King.

So what’s the take away? For me it’s realizing that we are all kind of like Lazarus. We were dead and rotting and now Jesus has called us forth to be alive, and if Lazarus wasn’t safe, and the Apostle Paul wasn’t safe, and Stephen wasn’t safe, and Dietrich Bonheoffer wasn’t safe, and Rachael Scott in Columbine wasn’t safe, and these Christians in India are not safe, and countless other martyrs who have paid the ultimate price to follow Jesus weren’t safe, then why should I be? Have I become too comfortable? I posted earlier that the reason I vote is because Americans have given sacrificed so that I may exercise that liberty. How much more valuable is the blood of Jesus? What is our response to that sacrifice?

Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to not be persecuted; I just hope if the time ever comes I will be ready to give it all. Just like Jesus did.

Thoughts?

Grace and Peace.

Tony

Reading the Classics – Mere Christianity

merechristianity

I wanted to take a second and recommend Tim Challies’ blog. Tim is a popular writer and blogger. He always has a ton of new content at his site www.challies.com. One thing he is doing over there is a book study on the C.S. Lewis classic, Mere Christianity. The study begins on December 4th. If you are interested in reading along check out the posting here.

Grace and Peace.

Tony

Nehushtan

I was reading 2 Kings 18 where it talks about king Hezekiah tearing down all the idols in the land of Judah during his reign. I was kind of surprised to read that one of the idols that was being worshipped was either the actual or a representation of the bronze serpent Moses raised up to heal the people in Numbers 2. It is referred to as the Nehushtan. At first reading it just shocked me that God’s chosen people found it easier to worship this man-crafted snake that God used to heal them opposed to worshipping the eternal God who was leading them as a nation. Then I felt convicted.

Idol

Idolatry is serious business. The first commandment given to Moses was that God’s people should only worship God and nothing else. Any other worship is idolatry. Just read a couple chapters of 2 Kings and you will quickly get a feel for God’s disapproval of spreading worship around.

I always used to think as long as I didn’t have a statue in my house that I prayed to, I was not worshipping idols. Recently though, I have been more convinced that idols can be almost anything. (food, entertainment, work, sports, etc.) I listened to a sermon where the pastor said that if you look at where you spend your time and what you spend your money on you can get a good idea of what you worship.

So what’s the take-away? For me I am challenged to examine all aspects of my life and see if I am first and foremost worshipping God in them. Do I worship God with my time? Do I worship God with my money? Do I worship God with my thoughts, words, and deeds?

It’s challenging. I know there are areas and things I put before God. Food and entertainement would just be just a couple of them.

How about you guys? Do you worship anything other than God??

Grace and Peace,

Tony

Man in a Field

MistyField


I saw a man in a field.
Knew not why he was there.
And to the Spirit I had to yield.
Show the man I cared.
I tread the dewy grass to inquire of him.
He told me he was fine.
Just a fellow soul on a misty morn,
Contemplating the Divine.

Do you ever feel led by the Spirit to do something outside your comfort zone? I think that if we were honest with ourselves we would admit that almost daily God is calling us to reach out beyond ourselves.

What are some experiences you have had that you felt led by the Spirit to do something, and did you do it?

Grace and Peace.

Tony

I Submit!

rings

Recently, I commented on a post over at internetmonk.com (check it out here.) The gist of the post was that sometimes we reach a crossroads where we have to either rebell against the authority in our life or submit to it. In my comment to the imonk posting a quoted a pastor who had said that “submission never truly occurs until you disagree with that to which you must submit.” I received the comment below in response and wanted to take moment to see if I could flesh out my thinking on submission.

Howdy,
I traveled here from internet monk. Over there, you said that a pastor once told you that submission never truly occurs until you disagree with that to which you must submit. This really struck a chord with me, but I don’t totally understand it. Can you elaborate a bit? Thank you; I really appreciate it!

Here’s why I ask: I’m at a point in my (single) life where I think I’ve elevated my desire for marriage to such a high point that I’ll never forgive God if He doesn’t give me a husband. Somebody’s been encouraging me to completely sacrifice it to God, and so far I don’t think I can!

Anyhoo, I would like to think more on that pastor’s statement. It hits home.

 

Just to give context, the original quote from the pastor was in regards to a wife submitting to her husband as referenced in Ephesians 5:22 and 1 Peter 3:1. However, there are many other scriptures that reference our need submit to the authorities, spiritual and civil, in our lives (see Hebrews 13:17 and Romans 13:1-5). So how does this apply?

For me I have spent much of my life in rebellion to some sort of authority. I say this because I can easily recall times when I disobeyed my parents, broken civil laws such as speeding, and have left more than one church because I wasn’t happy with their take on some issue. All these circumstances end up with me experiencing the fruit of rebellion which is consequence. I would usually get caught and punished by my parents, have gotten more than one speeding ticket in my life, and have probably missed out on some opportunity God would have had for me by leaving one church for another. These are just three simple examples of rebellion in my life. I am sure there are more.

Today, where I am at, is trying to be more like Jesus. In the life of Jesus, we a see a man who came and lived in full submission to the Father. In John 19:8-10, Jesus disciples are asking Jesus to show them the Father. Jesus tells them that He is so completely in tune with the Father’s will and authority that it is only the Father’s will that is revealed in Him. This is how I am trying to live. I recognize that there are authorities above me. In my case I am subject to the will of my employer, the civil government, and my church leadership. I feel to be Christlike I must submit to the will of these entities without regard for self-identity. The big caveat here is that the Father’s will as revealed by the Word and in the Spirit is the testing rod for the actions of these entities. Ultimately, my choices when I disagree with the authority above me will either be submission or rebellion. I think there are times for rebellion when there is a clear cut deviation from the will of the Father, however in my life much of my rebellion has been based not on God’s will but rather on my selfishness desire to not submit.

So I guess that’s a long way to get back as to what the single woman’s response to God is when it comes to her desire to be married. I am by no means an expert on marriage or how to act as a single person. My own testimony is that I am divorced and remarried and both the times I got married I was not seeking God’s will on the matter. Fortunately, God is gracious to forgive and restore those things that our sin brings upon us. I think God’s desire is for us not to be alone (Genesis 2:18). I also think that God’s desire is for us to seek Him in all things (Matthew 6:23). So if you are seeking the Lord and He is asking you to be patient then ultimately I feel like you should submit to that leading. I think you should be cautious of relationships that are with non-believers (2 Corinthians 6:14) and I think that you should refrain from physical intimacy prior to marriage (Genesis 2:24).

There are examples of instances where people didn’t wait on the fulfillment of God’s promise and ended up doing the wrong thing in their own timing. Abraham taking Sharah’s maidservant and producing a son instead of waiting until Sarah got preganant is just one example (Genesis 16).

Again I am not single woman, and wasn’t the best at being a single guy, so anyone’s input on this would be appreciated, especially you ladies.

Hope this helps.

Peace and grace.

Tony

How Deep the Father's Love

Our worship at church is contemporary with a praise band setup using a mix of contemporary “Chris Tomlin” type worship songs and modernized versions of classic hymns. Recently we have been doing this song called “How deep the Father’s love.”  I kind of thought that this was an older hymn but I found out it actually was written recently. This song really brings home for me the power and meaning of the Cross, so I wanted to share the lyrics here:

HOW DEEP THE FATHER’S LOVE
by Stuart Townend, he explains his thoughts on this song
here.

How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That he should give his only son
To make a wretch his treasure
How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turned his face away
As wounds, which mar the chosen one
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the man up a cross
My sin upon his shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from his reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

I feel that sometimes I get way too caught up in what is happening to me personally. At times I am acutely aware of who is making me happy and who is making me sad. I know who I feel blessed by and who I feel offended by. This song reminds me that I am the one who is offensive. It challenges me to try and single out any quality in myself that is not somehow tainted by selfishness and sin. The question “why should I gain from his reward” becomes a valid question to me.

What’s the take away? For me the take away is that there is Good News!

How deep is the Father’s love for us? Deep enough to provide a way home, deep enough to love those whose sin makes them unworthy of love, and deep enough to endure the torture of a cross for so I can be loved again! Deep enough!

What songs really move you?

Peace and Grace.

Tony