Archive for the ‘ Hope ’ Category

The Joy of the Lord (and Rend Collective)

I spent the past two years working on a Master of Education in Secondary Education. It took quite a bit of my energy, especially over the past five months when I had to prepare for then fulfill my student teaching experience (in a 7th Grade Math – Pre-Algebra) classroom.

Needless to say, I was busy. I still worked. I had classes and observations to do. That is why this blog took a hit in terms of my attention. This past five months, though, were some of the most tiring and full periods of my life. Only a few things kept me going:

  1. Working at the coffee shop gave me opportunities for ministry. I was involved with bolstering faith in others, practicing my apologetics skills with many non-Christians, and played a role in a couple of people becoming Christians!
  2. My wife and friends encouraged me A LOT!
  3. At my weakest moments, God reminded me of His immanence (which was a common theme in messages I heard this past weekend).

My most common reminder was through a song.

Whether on the radio or during interactions with others in which the song would play, Joy of the Lord by Rend Collective would be exactly what I needed to feel a little stronger for my task.

Joy Of The Lord

Rend Collective

Though tears may fall
My song will rise, my song will rise to You
Though my heart may fail
My song will rise, my song will rise to You
While there’s breath in my lungs
I will praise You, Lord

In the dead of night
I’ll lift my eyes, I’ll lift my eyes to You
When the waters rise
I’ll lift my eyes, I’ll lift my eyes to You
While there’s hope in my heart
I will praise You, Lord

The joy of the Lord is my strength
The joy of the Lord is my strength
In the darkness I’ll dance
In the shadows I’ll sing
The joy of the Lord is my strength

When I cannot see You with my eyes
Let faith arise to You
When I cannot feel Your hand in mine
Let faith arise to You
God of mercy and love
I will praise You, Lord

Oh You shine with glory Lord of light
I feel alive with You
In Your presence now I come alive
I am alive with You
There is strength when I say
I will praise You, Lord

When sorrow comes my way
You are the shield around me
Always You remain
Like courage in the fight
I hear You call my name
Jesus, I am coming
Walking on the waves
Reaching for Your light

And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.
~Nehemiah 8:10b, ESV

There is something to be said to be able to “taste and see that the Lord is God!” And it is a blessing to “[take] refuge in Him!” (Psalm 34:8) That we can trust Jesus when He said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
~Exodus 15:2, ESV

Let the Waters Rise …

In all things, seek the wisdom of God, and get started at Proverbial Thought!

I am a fan of Mikeschair, and I have posted about their music before over here.

When many preachers and teachers talk about God assisting people, they like using the stories of Jesus walking on water (John 6) and calming the sea (Matthew 8, Mark 4, Luke 8). These are stories that show God’s power and sovereignty over creation, therefore showing His power and sovereignty in your life.

One verse I have always enjoyed since reading it many years ago is Isaiah 43:1-3a (ESV):

But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”

Knowing we have a Savior, One who can control our circumstances, who sees our brokenness, hurts, and fears, who saw our hopeless state of sin and rebellion against Him and sacrificed Himself for our forgiveness, we can follow Him in confidence and hope!

Let the Waters Rise – Mikeschair

Don’t know where to begin
It’s like my world’s caving in
And I try but I can’t control my fear
Where do I go from here?

Sometimes it’s so hard to pray
When You feel so far away
But I am willing to go
Where you want me to
God, I trust You

There’s a raging sea
Right in front of me
Wants to pull me in
Bring me to my knees
So let the waters rise
If You want them to
I will follow You
I will follow You
I will follow You

I will swim in the deep
‘Cuz You’ll be next to me
You’re in the eye of the storm
And the calm of the sea
You’re never out of reach

God, You know where I’ve been
You were there with me then
You were faithful before
You’ll be faithful again
I’m holding Your hand

There’s a raging sea
Right in front of me
Wants to pull me in
Bring me to my knees
So let the waters rise
If You want them to
I will follow You
I will follow You
I will follow You

God Your love is enough
You will pull me through
I’m holding onto You
God Your love is enough
I will follow You
I will follow You

Ohhh

There’s a raging sea
Right in front of me
Wants to pull me in
Bring me to my knees
So let the waters rise
If You want them to
I will follow You
I will follow You
I will follow You

Ohhh

When We Call, He Is Near

Find how close God is through His wisdom as discussed at Proverbial Thought.

This is a special reminder for all of us who are facing trials, confusion, and difficulties.

I will let God’s Word speak for itself:

“I called on your name, O Lord,
    from the depths of the pit;
you heard my plea, ‘Do not close
    your ear to my cry for help!’
You came near when I called on you;
    you said, ‘Do not fear!’

“You have taken up my cause, O Lord;
    you have redeemed my life.”
Lamentations 3:55-58, ESV

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
. . .
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
John 14:18-21, 27

Some Final Thoughts About Momma Klem

My mom said to get the Wisdom of God, so start with some of the thoughts found at Proverbial Thought!

Last week, Jesus gave my mom a great big hug and took her Home, one day after her 53rd birthday. The amazing thing is how much joy and love for God was experienced and expressed throughout her final days.

It is hard to stay upset when someone on her way out stresses the importance of our Lord being glorified in the middle of everything.

It was my honor this past Saturday to share about my mom at her Celebration of Life service. I am sharing it with you … plus the last bit I knew I would not be able to say in that moment!

I remember telling my parents when I was a child that I wanted to be just like them when I grew up … only better.

When I first became a Christian, my mom was afraid I had joined a cult, but she could not deny the change in my life.

James 4:6 says, “But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’” My mom’s response was “Well, I guess I’ll never get grace!”

However, she had a lot of questions, and within a year of my coming to Christ, my parents did to. But mom just asked more questions. As [Pastors] Todd and Scott  can attest, she always had questions. Sometimes there were full arguments over Scripture and Christian life. She would often come to me, call me, or message me in some fashion asking if she was sinning for doubting and questioning so many things that came her way.

First, I would remind her that many people doubted, including the Apostle Thomas, and He is a pillar of the Church! And I would always respond with 1 Thessalonians 5:21, “Test everything; hold onto the good.”

Back to James 4, in verses 7-8, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

As a new Christian, I often wondered why more people would not help out as much as I did as a new believer. When my parents finally started following Jesus, there was no stopping them! Ask anyone: they dived in head first, helping out everywhere they could.

But my mom had compassion and love for others. She had raised me to not judge anyone, not for any reason, no matter what they looked like, no matter what they acted like. She certainly lived out 1 Samuel 16:7, which says “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Many of you here know how true this is. How many co-workers, youth, and others did she reach with her love and compassion? She very easily lived out 1 Corinthians 9:22, I will just read it: “To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” She struggled through her doubts so that with compassion and love she could help others struggle through their doubts that others might be saved.

She learned to live out James 4:9, to “[become] wretched and mourn and weep. [And to] Let [her] laughter be turned to mourning and [her] joy to gloom” so that others would come to know the same Savior she knows.

And as verse 10 says, she learned to “Humble [herself] before the Lord, and [she is exalted].” I think needing to be moved to a larger hospital room to fit all of the guests, and the people sitting here and lining the halls attests to, she has been exalted. And for all of us who know Jesus, we will one Glorious Day see her again.

[What I would have said, but had written down]

My parents have been through many fires and trials in life, and they have grown to live Jude, verses 20-23, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

My parents have made it very difficult to do life better than them. I just look forward to that Glorious Day when we all get to reunite with our Lord and remember all of our stories together.

Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – 06/22/2014

Give your weary mind some refreshing wisdom from Proverbial Thought!

Perhaps you are struggling through something.

Maybe you have lost a loved one.

Maybe you have suffered through addiction.

Maybe you have suffered through prolonged illness.

Maybe you have received the news of disease or illness.

Maybe you deal with bullying.

Maybe you come out of abuse.

Maybe you live with depression, fear, or hatred.

As trite and cliché as it may sound, Jesus is the truest answer and ultimate Healer for all that burdens our weary souls.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30, ESV

Healing may not come immediately. Physical healing may never come in this life. But trust in the life, death, and resurrection of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, and you will find hope and peace. It may not come fully until the next life, but His resurrection proves His promises are true. We may suffer now, but we have the promise of eternal rest and peace.

 

as dawn breaks

on the weary soul

as dawn breaks on the weary soul

awakening the stillness of God

what the weary traveler has sown

will be reaped in the precious blood

as new light pours over this one

and eyes are opened for the first time

those eyes see the image of the Son

and see through the power of that Christ

as dawn illuminates this person

becoming more aware of deep filth

this weary one comes undone

and gives in to the Higher Will

as dawn breaks on the weary soul

and this weary one awakens to love

and realizes it is okay to let go

it is finally known that God is more than enough

Where Jesus Spent the Passover

Here is another friendly reminder that Proverbial Thought is back! Also do not forget the first book published by Parson’s Porch!

Today is the Jewish Passover. It is a time of celebration of the freedom from slavery and living in the Promised Land.

There have been several times in history when it was merely a celebration of freedom from slavery in Egypt, and that was all because the Hebrew people could not live in their land.

Sadly, it took the mass murder of about six million (6,000,000) of them in World War II for them to get their land back. They also have not had all of the land restored to them.

However, about 2000 years ago there was a similar story. The Jews lived in the land, but they were under the rule of Rome. They were allowed to worship as they wanted, but it was always under the supervision of Roman leaders.

This is the same time that Jesus was born, raised, and performed His ministry. When He was about 33 years old, He went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover with His closest disciples.

The night before Passover officially began, He was betrayed by one of His friends, arrested by the Jewish leadership, interrogated and beaten, denied by another of His friends, and then at the time the sacrificial lambs were being sacrificed He was beaten some more and nailed to a cross to die.

Thus, He became the sacrificial Lamb who washed away our sin that separated us from God.

Just before nightfall, which is when the Passover would officially begin, this is what we read in Mark 15 (ESV):

42 And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he should have already died. And summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead. 45 And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph. 46 And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.

Therefore, the Savior of the world, Jesus of Nazareth, the Jewish Messiah (Christ), spent Passover lying dead in a tomb.

We may not always feel like celebrating. The disciples certainly did not that weekend about 2000 years ago.

Yet, when our faith and hope is found in Christ that the Father is in control, we can have peace through the Holy Spirit knowing something the disciples did not that bleak Sabbath day, found in the next chapter of Mark:

1 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here.

Our God and Savior is ALIVE! HE IS RISEN!

We celebrate this week the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We have hope because He has overcome death and the grave!

God-Esteem

I grew up in the midst of a relatively new social experiment that has taken hold of our society.

Self-Esteem

I know many people who struggle with self-esteem and/or have struggled for a long time.

It sounds so good!

“Believe in yourself!”
“Find your self-worth!”
“You are beautiful!”
“You are precious!”
“Look within yourself to find happiness!”

It all sounds so great, until you get to that last one.

Self-esteemers are big on finding what is good in you and latching on to it. “It is the good in you that gives you a good self-esteem!”

My pastor recently shared with me some information he read. It looked at the claim that so many people are in prison because of low self-esteem. After surveying several inmates, it was deduced that they did not lack self-esteem. If they lacked anything it was a proper distinction between right and wrong or guilt over what they had done. Many were confident in and of themselves. The only real hit they took to their egos was that they were arrested.

Self-esteem was not the issue.

(We might even find many of them were told they are great and can do anything as they were growing up.)

It can also be tough overcoming low self-esteem you are constantly told about how great you are, how much you can accomplish, or you are basically good, and find out how untrue these can be.

Children may be told time and again that they can do whatever they want, yet poor children are often told that they are worthless by much of society.

So many are told they are able to do great things, yet they are not always given the opportunity to learn or try (for myriad of factors) and are left in their failure.

We are told that we are basically good, and then we struggle with our imperfections and failures.

And what do we find when we look inside ourselves?

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
Jeremiah 17:9

It is easy to see that most of us are not that good. We feel the truth of how not good we can be when we get cut off in traffic and yell at “YOU IDIOT!” We feel the truth of how messed up we are when we see injustice in our world and want to destroy those who perpetrate it. We feel the truth when we break a rule “because it is silly, anyway” (like when we drive 5 mph over the speed limit).

It gets worse when we read the next verse in Jeremiah:

“I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind,
to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”

Many of us might say, “Yeah, but I have not done as many bad things as others?”

a) But we still understand we are not as good as we like to think.
b) If we have to justify ourselves by comparison to others, that becomes a self-evident point to our not-goodness.
c) By God’s standard, all sinful deeds are choosing our own will over His, they are disobedience.

We have little within us to make us completely happy.

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
Isaiah 64:6

There is hope for us, though:

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Colossians 2:20

Our worth is found through self-esteem. It is found when we esteem the Creator and Lover of our souls who saved us from ourselves!

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:4b-14, NIV