Tuesday's slice of bread

A weekly post premised on this: Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord (Prov. 16:20)

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Location: Florence, Kentucky, United States

married to my best friend, writer, teacher, avid reader, occasional poet, volunteer

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Immutable, Eternal, Holy Sovereign

Immutable, eternal, holy Sovereign,
What can we, changeable, temporal, sinful persons do
But submissively worship You?

Repenting of the sins we know,
Repenting of the sins You know, which we are not aware of yet--
Sins for which Your Son died,
We will not hide.

We cannot hide for You are
All present and
All wise and
All just and
All worthy and
So much more that
Forever will not be long enough
To fully know You.

We can only present our sinful selves
As we ask for
Your holy grace,
Grace we have seen in
Your incarnate Son.

We are all debtors; our sins are clear to You.

We come as beggars to the home of the King,
Immutable, eternal, holy.

We come pleading for what we do not deserve.

And whatever You determine, whether justice or grace,
We offer our praise, for that is what You are worthy of.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Establishing Priorities, Part 4

For those who are in Christ, we establish our priorities according to His, which we find in the Bible.

Considering a Familiar Passage as an Example

Jesus speaks at the end of Mathew 11: "Come to Me, all who are weary and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30; NAS).

The weariness and heaviness of which Jesus is speaking may be that which sinners experience prior to coming to Him, finding rest in the place of their sins' burdens.

Once in Christ, they know the precious reality of 1 John 1:9: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (NAS).

The yoke may be that of being joined with Him in sanctification, going in union in the direction He sets.

Learning from Him requires our being diligently in the sixty-six books which make up Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:1-21), submitting our minds and hearts to His Holy Spirit (John 15:26-16:15).

As Jesus is gentle and humble in heart, so, given time, will we be gentle and humble as well (Philippians 1:6; 1 John 3:1-3).

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Directional Living

Recent circumstances produced this post. I suspect I am not the only one who has been here.

Directional Living

How easy it is to live horizontally,
Forgetting the vertical,
Stretching out rather than up,
Yammering frustration rather than
Offering praise,
Seeking in each other what
Only God can provide.
In the cross,
Vertical and horizontal meet,
God and man greet
In the One Incarnate,
Wholly holy God and man,
Freely gave His immaculate life
To end the strife sin wreaks
Between God and man,
Between man and man.
Only a right vertical relationship
Can make any right horizontal relationship possible.
Only in Christ crucified do vertical and horizontal connect
In perfection.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Establishing Prorities, Part 3

Whatever is going on in your life will be part of your establishing priorities. You might be young and working toward your education or employment or home/family--any or all of the above. You ought to focus and review your priorities periodically, biblically.

You may have physical or emotional or financial challenges you need to consider along the way. How does God want you to respond to these according to His character and His Word? You need to prayerfully consider these, also. I have found Psalms 46, 119, and 139 helpful, as well as Ecclesiastes and James.

Education? Ecclesiastes 12.

Employment? Ephesians 6:5-9; James 4:13-15.

Home and family? Deuteronomy 6:5-7--"You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up." (NAS).

These words presuppose a knowledge of and practice of God's Word by the parents. Parents who do not love the LORD and His words will not teach the above concepts at all, much less diligently. And you do not need to be a physical parent to parent someone spiritually.

What about widows and orphans when it comes to home and family?

James 1:27 tells us: "Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." (NAS).

Frequently, we are more prone to visit orphans and widows in the immediate time of loss, and this is good. Expressions at the time of loss is beneficial. But what about later? How easy it is to be caught up in our own immediate concerns and to forget those of others, to procrastinate, to not remember John 13:35: "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (NAS).

How do we manifest the love Jesus refers to here? How did Jesus manifest the Father's love? "Prioritize" and "sacrifice" are two words which come to mind.

In the busyness of our lives we must not forget the ongoing distresses faced by orphans and widows. How can they manage not only emotionally but also financially? How about friends? If a couple loses one partner, who will be there for the other? If someone loses both parents, who will step into that void?

Write to a widow. Send a card or a letter; not everyone uses social media. Call an orphan. Show up to meet a need (James 1 and 2; 1 Timothy 5:16).

Not wanting to leave your comfort zone? Consider Philippians 2:1-15 and Hebrews 12:3.

God's Word calls us to establish priorities according to His, even if they are not by nature ours.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Establishing Prorities, Part 2

Last week, we looked at Exodus 20:3-4; Psalm 23:1-3; John 10:14-16; Psalm 90:12; Proverbs 3:5-6; Psalm 119:33-38, 133; Romans 6:14; Ecclesiastes 12:13-14; and 1 Corinthians 15:58, as well as commenting on the abundance of guidance to be found in Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and James.

Today, I am telling you some of my story when it comes to establishing priorities.

Years ago, when I was single, I found myself saying "yes" to every opportunity for ministry which came my way. Well, what real Christian can resist ministry?

One day, I collapsed at work. Embarrassing? Yes, and followed by making a number of phone calls to explain that I would no longer be available for said ministry.

I realized my calling, then, was to focus on my employment and get my strength back to do that.

Establishing priorities means asking the Lord, "Is this, whatever 'this' is, what You want me to say ';yes' to for now?"

Establishing priorities means living fully within the limits He puts on our lives, whatever form those limits take.

Establishing priorities means saying, "Thy will be done," as a blank check.

Establishing priorities requires being in the Word and in prayer as your life breath, day in and day out.

Establishing priorities brought Garry and me to this passage years ago: "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.' Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that'" (James 4:13-15).

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Establishing Priorities

Where do we usually begin when it comes to establishing priorities? With how old we are? With how long until we retire? With how long we expect to live once we retire? With us, then as the center of our concerns. Admit it. Even when we say our concern is with our family, it begins with our seeming circumstances. Even as Christians who claim faith in the sovereignty of God, where do we really begin? Should we not begin here: "You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth" (Exodus 20:3-4). If we first establish God as first, will He not lead us? Psalm 23--sweet words that it contains--tells us this: "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake" (verses 1-3). In John 10:14-16 Jesus makes clear that He is the Shepherd referred to in Psalm 23: "I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and my own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd" (prefiguring in verse 16 the salvation of the Gentiles, probably). In Psalm 90:12, Moses prays: "So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom." Proverbs 3:5-6--familiar words but true--instruct us: "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." Psalm 119 is full of words directed at God, which yearn for His direction. Here are just a few f them: "Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes, and I shall observe it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law and keep it with all my heart. Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it. Incline my heart to Your testimonies, and not to dishonest gain. Turn my eyes away from looking at vanity, and revive me in Your ways. Establish Your word to Your servant, as that which produces reverence for You" (verses 33-38). "Establish my footsteps in Your word, and do not let any iniquity have dominion over me" (Psalm 119:133) is echoed by Paul in Romans 6:14: "For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace." Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and James are replete with guidance in establishing priorities. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 states: "The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: Fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil." First Corinthians 15:58: "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord."

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Two Poems We Hope Will Comfort You

One: Whatever Beauty This World Holds Whatever beauty this world holds, It holds as a poor reflection of heaven. It holds yet as pure as the earthly can be, It holds, and it draws me more close to Thee. Whatever beauty this world contains, It contains as a gift from heaven. It contains as mist or rains, Something of the glory to be known. It contains yet a bit, yet a scent, And through it I see and sense Incense which draws me more close to Thee. Whatever beauty of bird or morning's dew, Can only point me more to You For all that is lovely in truth and delight, Is at God's right hand in radiant light. Two: When and Why Does a Christian Die? A Christian's death comes when he or she has completed the tasks Their Lord asks-- And then comes the rest, And then comes the glory, And then comes the seeing. And then death is the means To life in its fullhness, For life is being with and like Christ.