Wednesday, June 25, 2014


     Well, well, it seems I have grown rather sporadic of late. It has been a crazily busy month for us and now we are headed out of town for an extended visit to family.  I may or may not have internet access, so this will probably be a "see you later for now."

     God has been doing so much around me and in me lately that I long to share it with you. Unfortunately, I have only a brief, stolen moment before I need to finish getting everything ready for a pre-dawn departure. Suffice to say, for now, that I have been recently surrounded by many people who are struggling with sadness or despair. I feel great compassion for them, as I have been in that horrible place before. Right now, however, I am busy but full of the joy of the Lord. I have had some wonderful fellowship with Him and with other believers. I will leave you with this passage which has been so meaningful to me in the last several months. I hope that it strengthens, reminds, and encourages you as you walk the narrow path with our Savior.

Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in; who brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.
Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows on them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble.
To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these?
He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing.
Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, "My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God"?
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 
He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for 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. Isaiah 40:21-31

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Whose Glory?

Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness! Why should the nations say, "Where is their God?"
Psalms 115:1-2     
     This may seem like a strange place to stop quoting this Psalm. It leaves the question just hanging there, unanswered. However, I stop here because this was the question that haunted me for a few days after I read this Psalm in my morning meeting with God. It troubled me on a broader sense applied to the Church in America today but also on a personal level. Why, indeed, should anyone be able to deny God in my life? Am I evidencing His power daily? Or have my fear and anxiety denied His authority?

    It is a sobering question, no doubt, and the key to the answer is given in the first verse of the Psalm. Ultimately, if God's power is conspicuously absent -- from either my personal life or from the life of the Church -- it is probably a misplacing of glory. To keep this personal, I find I must ask myself... oh, so many questions. In all I do, am I seeking His glory or my own? Even in the good, ministry-related things I do, what is my motive? Is it truly for the good name of my King, or do I often operate to soothe my own pride?

     Worse yet, and more painfully, do I stand on His truths even when they are uncomfortable or unpopular? Am I actually willing to undergo humiliation and mockery, feel the brunt of others' anger, even risk physical harm for the sake of His glory and His name? Do I put His glory first, always, even at great personal cost? And if I do not do these things in my country where currently it will only cost me perhaps popularity, warm welcome, or reputation, is there even a faint chance I will be able to stand boldly for Him should the spiritual climate shift to the point that standing for God will begin to cost physical well-being or even life? The great question is, do I stand counter to my culture, even counter to modern church culture, making myself a sacrifice for the sake of my Lord's glory, or do I try to seize my own, small glory under the guise of service to Him?

     It is funny how that one question lead to so many others. It caused me to humble myself in prayer, begging God to show many any areas where I was outside of His will or forsaking His truth for my own, personal comfort. It also reminded me that I need to truly exalt His name in my life. I need to concern myself with bringing about His glory, saying as the Psalmist did, "Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to Your name give glory."

     I have a firm conviction from all this questioning that it is His name, His honor, His Word, and HIs Truth alone that really matters. I need to concern myself more and more with living so that His name is not smeared with mud by my life but rather exalted. I need to live my life with great reverence and respect for the Name I bear. In fact, everything I do should be centered on this one goal: to bring glory, pleasure, and honor to my Lord and Savior. After all He has done for me, rescuing me when I did not even know I was imprisoned, washing me when I did not even know I was filthy, dying in my place before I even knew I was sentenced to death, is it so much to ask that I would now live for His glory alone?

     Lord, this country needs a revival of faith in Your word, remembering that it is for Your glory and pleasure that we even exist. But I cannot change this country Lord; I can only change my own choices. I ask today that You will strengthen me in this purpose, to live entirely for the glory of Your name no matter what the cost to me. In Jesus, You have already given me all I need. Teach me what it means, what it looks like, to live for You and You alone. Forgive me for the times I seek my own honor, prioritizing myself over You.  From now on, may my life become nothing more than a reflection of Your glory, Lord, for Your Name's sake, amen. 

The LORD our God be with us, as he was with our fathers. May he not leave us or forsake us, that he may incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his rules, which he commanded our fathers. Let these words of mine, with which I have pleaded before the LORD, be near to the LORD our God day and night, and may he maintain the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel, as each day requires, that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God; there is no other. Let your heart therefore be wholly true to the LORD our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments, as at this day." 

1 Kings 8:57-61

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Repost From Another Blog

Not long after I wrote my last post on a few verses from Hebrews 12, Pastor Keith Vaughan wrote a post covering the same passage on his excellent blog.  It was so perfectly timed and such a gorgeous bit of truth that I wanted to share it with you. Enjoy!

Getting Rid of the Weight 

       -By Keith Vaughan
“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.” (Hebrews 12:1)
“Hey Pastor…Are you going to get on my case about the little bit of extra weight I’m carrying? I’ve tried to get rid of it, but nothing seems to work.”
Well…I am going to talk about extra weight — but not the kind you might think. In the same way you shed a few pounds, you must also put forth the spiritual effort to get rid of the extra weight you are carrying around in your spiritual life. The “weight” we need to lay aside might be sinful or, in some cases, they may be legitimate activities. There are some things we need to give up not because they are harmful within themselves, but because they are keeping us from serving God and being obedient to what He wants for us.
Let me suggest 4 things you and I need to examine in our lives today. Maybe some of these things are hindering you in your service to the Lord and need to be set aside.
1. We need to lay aside the weight of spiritual immaturity.
In a few short days (we hope) — my son and daughter-in-law will welcome a new baby into this world. Hudson Keith Vaughan will be born and begin his journey on this earth. I certainly don’t expect him to come home a have a steak and baked potato with me right away. He’s going to need milk and eventually baby food BUT ONE DAY — he will sit down with his Poppa and have a steak!
A baby is supposed to act like a baby — but if that baby is still acting like a baby at 10 or 12 years old, then we know something is terribly wrong.
The same is true in the life of a Christian. One of the great tragedies that I see in the modern church is the number of people who remain spiritual babies and never give themselves to a discipline of growth and training that makes it possible for them to be used mightily by the Lord. 
One of my favorite verses in the Bible says this about Jesus Christ…
“Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52).
There is nothing wrong with being a baby Christian — but there is something terribly wrong if you REMAIN a baby Christian. Lay aside the weight of spiritual immaturity.
2. We need to lay aside the weight of self-righteousness
We all have been guilty of looking around us with a critical spirit and patting ourselves on the back for our achievements when we look at the perceived failures of others. It’s “funny” to me how Christians criticize EACH OTHER! I continually hear folks say (both in word and deed) — “I’ve figured it out and you haven’t.” Whether we are criticizing a non-Christian or criticizing the church — our sinful nature causes us to look at ourselves and pridefully declare — “I’ve got it. You don’t get it.”
Read the parable of the publican and the Pharisee in Luke 18 again. You will quickly see there is no room in the Christian life for a self-righteous attitude — either toward the lost world or toward fellow believers who may not jump on our bandwagon.
In Revelation 3, the problem in the Laodicean church was primarily an attitude of spiritual self-satisfaction. As Christians, we must NEVER allow ourselves to become a pious self-centered circle of people who come together for emotional “self-edification.”
3. We need to lay aside the weight of unforgiveness.
You know what I’ve learned in 30 years of pastoral ministry? Here it is — write it down…
You cannot please everybody!
There is no way to escape criticism. There will be times when others will deliberately seek to hurt us in some way or another. Do you know what Jesus said we should do? 
“Yes, Pastor. I know…but I’ll tell you right now…I don’t like it.”
Let me tell you why it is so hard to forgive. As long as all your attention is directed toward the person who needs to be forgiven, you will never understand and appreciate what Jesus taught us about forgiveness. Jesus’ primary concern was the effect of an unforgiving spirit in the life of a believer. Hard feelings have a way of festering into hatred. Hatred destroys joy and robs you of true happiness. Our hostile feelings do more injury to US than they ever do to the person who offended us. You cannot life an effective Christian life and carry a grudge at the same time. It’s impossible.
4. We must lay aside the weight of worry
Undue anxiety and worry is caused by a lack of faith. Worry is USELESS! Matthew 6:27 says, “Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?”
There is no need to worry about yesterday — you can’t change it.
There is no need to worry about today — you won’t accomplish anything of any value.
There is no need to worry about tomorrow — you aren’t even promised there will be a tomorrow!
I’m sorry I can’t help you drop the excess pounds you may need to drop in your physical body — I have my own problem with that! But I do pray that these suggestions will help us drop the excess weight we may be carrying around in our spiritual lives.
Have a great day.