Posts Tagged ‘choices’

Learn to Do Good

April 3, 2014

God is not pleased with the appearance of righteousness, an outward religious facade that has no effect on our lives.  God calls us to follow Him with our whole heart, and all of our lives.

Isaiah 1:16-20

“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes.
Cease to do evil,
17 Learn to do good;
Seek justice,
Rebuke the oppressor;
Defend the fatherless,
Plead for the widow.

18 “Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient,
You shall eat the good of the land;
20 But if you refuse and rebel,
You shall be devoured by the sword”;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

I.  Call to Repentance:  (verses 16-17)

I very much appreciate the simplicity of the call “Cease to do evil, learn to do good.”.  We must first learn to identify what is good and what is evil.  God uses His Word and His Spirit to lead us to that truth.  Once we are able to identify good and evil, we must make the choice to cease doing evil, and do what it good.  This is not always easy, and it is a lifelong process.

We are to seek justice.  Sometimes, some in the evangelical church have had a critical attitude towards social justice.  The concern comes from what they perceive to be an abandonment of the “true” gospel by the churches that focus on the “social” gospel.  It does not have to be one or the other.  We can preach for the salvation of the  souls of humanity, while also working to make our physical life here on earth more just.

We are to rebuke the oppressor and defend the weak.  This requires wisdom, courage and strength.  God is able to help us with all of those attributes, if we will allow Him to work through us.

II.  Forgiveness:  (verse 18)

We recognize that we all have sinned.  We have fallen short of what God would have us to be.  We need His forgiveness.  The good news is that God is willing to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  We do not have to earn forgiveness, it is offered to us freely through Jesus Christ.

III.  Consequences (verses 19-20)

Our actions have consequences.  If we are rebellious and choose to remain in our sinful ways, then we can expect destruction.  Bad things will continue to happen to us.  It is one of the ways that God uses to try to correct us.  If we are willing to repent, and learn to be obedient, we can expect God to bless us.

This does not mean that the life of the sinner will be only destruction, and the life of the obedient will be only blessings.  Our lives are a mixed bag of blessings and tests.  It does mean that believer should be able to have a sense of the blessing of God on their life, while the unbeliever should have a sense of coming judgement.

God continues to call out to us.  Repent!  Believe the gospel!  Cease to do evil!  Learn to do good!

These are the sermon notes from 3/30/14.  Any advertisement that may appear is placed there by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any financial support from them.

Jack-of-all-Trades

March 8, 2012

My father was a very handy man.  He enjoyed working on things and constantly had some sort of project underway.  I would frequently help him work on a whole variety of things.  I was a first-class gopher.  Go-for this, go-for that.  Hand me this, hand me that.  You get the idea.  Anyway, my father would refer to himself as a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none.  The idea being: that he dabbled, and was proficient in, a lot of areas, but did not consider himself a “master” of any of them.

As I matured, my skill-set turned out very differently from my father’s.  Oh, I know how to use a hammer, or a wrench, and I can manage some things around the house or garage, but my skills are nothing like those of my father.

I am a minister, and a teacher.  Currently, I am the pastor of a church, teach at a community college, lead a campus ministry,  am enrolled in graduate school, maintain a blog, teach ministry classes, mentor a young minister,  exercise regularly, help around the house, and try to have a life.

Perhaps I did learn something from my father.

I am not specialized, but generalized.

The problem with doing so many things is that you cannot devote as much time to any of them as you would if you were doing fewer things.  There is only so much time after all.  So the question becomes; do you continue to spread yourself around, doing what you can do, or do you reduce your commitments, and focus on doing fewer things, better?

That is a question that each one must answer for themselves.

Adjusting

January 31, 2012

Yesterday I ran three miles. .. I was supposed to run six.

When I was considering going back to school Gloria asked me what I would be giving up.  My initial reply was “Sleep”.  However, that was meant to be a joke.  Since my heart issues of over a year ago, I have been more conscious of my need to rest, and not to overdo it.

That can be challenging.

I have decided that I am going to take each day as it comes.  I will do what has to be done on that day, and then I will try to work in as much of the things that should or could be done, for which I have the time and energy.

It means making judgement calls about what is important.  Like yesterday, it is important that I continue an exercise routine.  My health, possibly my life, does depend on it.  However, I did not have time to run the six miles, and do other things that I felt should be done.  So I compromised.  I ran three miles, and got some others tasks accomplished.

What have I given up?  Hopefully, I am giving up the idea of a rigid schedule.  Day by day, I will try to adjust as needed.

Out of the Habit

December 26, 2011

It has been a while since I was blogging with any consistency.  I used to blog four days a week.  Then it dropped to three days. Then maybe two.    Life is busy, blogging is not high on the priority list, and so now, blogging has been almost dropped.  I am out of the habit of blogging.

I wonder how many people get out of the habit of practicing Christian disciplines in the same way?  Whether we are talking about prayer, Bible reading, or church attendance:  I wonder how many people allow those practices to slowly slip out of their lives?

The difference is,  the Christian disciplines are important to our spiritual health.  If I never wrote another blog entry, it would probably not matter much in the scheme of things, but if I stopped praying, reading my Bible or attending church, my spiritual health would decline, and my relationship with God would deteriorate.

I encourage you to maintain the habit of daily prayer and Bible reading, and regularly attending church services.  Don’t let yourself get out of the habit.

Wisdom and Strength

October 18, 2011

I am a firm believer that God is able to direct our lives.  I do not mean that God controls us.  I do believe in the freedom of human will.  However, if a person is a Christian, and regularly asks God for direction then I believe that God will grant that person wisdom to know what they should be doing with their lives.   I also believe that God will give us strength to do what He has directed us to do.

Sometimes we err,  and try to do too much, or do the wrong things.  I believe that each day is a new day, that God can give us the direction that we need for that day.  This is an area that I am still growing in myself.  I have a tendency to do more than I should do.  This creates unnecessary stress on myself and on my family.  Rather than regretting past decisions, I trust that God will guide the decisions that I make today.

We learn from the past.  We look forward to the future, but we live today.  This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.  I trust that God will give us wisdom and strength for this day.

Unplugged

August 9, 2011

It has been a while since I was blogging regularly.  I was teaching a summer course that required more of my time than the regular semester.  Then I was on vacation.  Hopefully, I will now return to regularly blogging.

For a good portion of my vacation I was offline.  We spent some time at my mother’s lakefront cabin, and she does not have the internet. The nearest available source was about five miles away and I was not up there to sit in a McDonald’s.

I found that I got along just fine without facebook, email, or checking craigslist.

After leaving the cabin, we spent some time visiting with my in-laws.  We spent some time playing golf, and bowling on Wii (sp?)  As we were playing, I couldn’t help thinking that I would rather do those thing in the real world rather than electronically.  Although, the fact that you don’t have to pay for each time that you play, does appeal to me.

Finally, I heard a message about stewardship.  Stewardship of all of the aspects of our lives, not just our money.  It got me to thinking about how much time is spent on-line and whether that is truly a good use of my time.

Perhaps, I should unplug more often.

Adjustments

June 27, 2011

Today is the first day of the summer classes.  I enjoy teaching, but the summer session is a serious encroachment on my schedule.  We meet four days a week for three hours. From the time that I leave home, until the time that I return, it is about  four and a half hours each day.  The problem is that I already have trouble finding the time to get things done.  Now that I will have less time available, I will need to make major adjustments to my daily schedule.  I do believe that there is enough time to do what God wants me to do.  I will pray for guidance that I will use my time wisely.  It is like budgeting money, which I am very good at, now I will have to budget my time.

Running Hot

June 7, 2011

When I was a young man, thirty years and thirty pounds ago, I loved to go for runs on hot, summer days.  The hotter, the better.  There was something about the experience that was particularly exhilarating.

Not so much anymore.

Now I prefer the temperature to be in the sixties.

When it becomes hot, and humid, I struggle to complete the distance.  My times slow down and I may even have to walk, (something I never did when I was younger).  I wear a hydration belt that carries thirty-two ounces of fluid and will use it all before I am done.

Yesterday, it was in the nineties, with high humidity.

I ran inside, where it was air-conditioned.

Work Harder?

May 16, 2011

My life is packed with things that are waiting to be done.  One problem is finding the time to do everything.  Everything?  Who am I kidding?  I am not ever going to get everything done.  I will have to settle for getting the important things done.  Hopefully, I am able to recognize what is important.  I often pray that God will help me to prioritize.  That I will know what is truly important.

The second problem is finding motivation.  When there is so much stuff waiting to be done, it can be overwhelming.  This is where a daily routine and a list can really be helpful.  Instead of looking at the entire list, which is overwhelming,  you simply start with the first thing on the list, and then move on to the next thing, and so on.  One thing at a time, task by task, you work your way through the day.  It is surprising how much you can get done when you are able to stay focused, moving from task to task.

The third problem is balance.  We are not meant to simply work.  I remember the character Boxer  from the book Animal Farm .  His motto was “I will work harder.”  I sometimes think that my life has been motivated by that motto.  That is not a good thing.  There is more to life than work.  Although there is always more to do, not everything has to be done, at least not today.

That brings us back to priorities.  May God help us to use our time wisely, to live as He would have us live.

Budget Compromise

April 9, 2011

The threatened government shutdown has been averted.  The politicians in Washington realized that no one would appreciate the idea of our military being in combat, and their families not receiving financial support.  That would cost them votes next election.

I have not seen the details of the compromise.  If it is a good compromise then everyone should be equally unhappy.  Yes, I said unhappy.  A compromise means that you have had to give up something that you wanted originally.  It means that you hoped for more than you are receiving in the deal.  It is a fair compromise, when both sides give up equal shares.  Of course, each side also should receive things that are important to them., but they should come at the cost of other things of lesser importance.

Hopefully, our political leaders will figure out what is truly important.