Love and Obey

I have been striving to be much more disciplined in memorizing Scripture.  I have a program on my comp that keeps track of my devotions and reminds me of what I am studying and memorizing.  This week I am memorizing a passage from Deuteronomy:

“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, 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.”
(Deuteronomy 6:6-7 ESV)

So for a good part of this morning I have been chewing it over in my mind.  That when Michelle and I have children to strive to teach them God’s Word.  To keep God’s Word close to my heart and reflect on it constantly, when I get up and when I lay down.  That I must strive to obey His commands.  Till something hit me…is there something to “these” words that I am missing? So I grabbed my Bible and looked it up.  Here is what is literally just before that passage:

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
(Deuteronomy 6:4-5 ESV)

This is the “these words” that we are called to follow.  I totally had a wrong focus this morning.  Instead of focusing on obedience, I should have been focusing on loving God more.  Now, I know some of my friends are going to take that last sentence out of context trying to prove their view that a believer doesn’t need obedience, they just need love.  That is so messed up and wrong, read your Bible.  We are called to both.  They go hand in hand, can not have one with out the other:

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
(1 John 5:2-3 ESV)

A little over a month ago, in our Young Adults Group, a friend of mine who has been coming out had a really profound statement.  He is unsure about his faith but had this to say:

If God is who He says He is, why would anyone not obey everything that He says?

How true, why would we not obey Him?  But, lets take it a step further.  Obey God, because you love God.  I don’t obey my earthly father because I am afraid of him.  My dad did discipline us, but I never grew afraid of him.  I obeyed my dad because I love him, I trust him, and I know that he loves me and wants the best for me, even when it is painful.

So they are hand in hand.  Love and Obey.

Back to Deuteronomy 6…verse 4 starts us off.  God alone is to be loved and worshiped.  Not ourselves or our egos, not our pastors, not our gifts or the gifts, not money, not our spouses, not our children, not our relationships or friendships, or even ministry, God alone.  He leaves room for no one else and nothing else, He alone.  This is a God who calls for our focus of adoration and desires nothing less.

Verse 5 is what is commonly known as the “Shema” which Jesus refers to as the “great and first commandment.” (Matt 22:38).  “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” We are called to love God with our whole “being”.  Not just on an intellectual level or an emotional level or a practical level, but everything, heart, mind, soul and strength.  Hold nothing back.  Behold Him as The Glorious One.  Worthy to be praised and worshiped.  Worthy of all our adoration and love.  Paul says it like this:

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies (refers to whole being, body and soul) as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”
(Romans 12:1 ESV)

When reading those verses in 1 John, something stuck out to me, love precedes obedience, you will never obey willingly what you dont love.  If we are not obeying God and His Word, then its because we dont love Him….

I pray that we will all strive to love The Glorious One more and that it overflows in to obedience of Him.

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Behold His Face

Sorry for the lack of posting.  Thanks again for those who have reminded me that I said I would keep up to date thoughts and comments on things that have stuck out to me as I study.

I have been sifting through many passages.  There are nearly 400 passages that have the word “face” in it.  It can indicate purpose, direction and even surface, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth” (Gen 1:29), there seems to be a two-fold purpose to the “face of the Lord”.  One is a source of blessing, mercy and forgiveness “Make your face shine on your servant; save me in your steadfast love!” (Psalm 31:16), and a source of wrath and judgement, “In overflowing anger for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,” says the LORD, your Redeemer.” (Isaiah 54:8)  I am really enjoying the time I get to spend trying to put together passages, and meditating on Scripture, especially Psalm 27:8 “You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.”

But as I have been sifting through passages, I was reminded of a prayer I said about 9 years ago.  It was while I was in Uganda for the first time.  My schedule was pretty chill, as is “African time” and had plenty of time to read Scripture, pray and memorize.  One passage came up and I was so enthralled by it.

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. -Exodus 34:29

As a relatively new believer, roughly 2 years, it became obvious to me that our relationship with God should spill out to those around us, sometimes with out words.  That spending time in His Word, prayer, personal and corporate worship and in relationship with other believers (Acts 2:42; Proverbs 27:17; 2 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 10:25; 1 Thess 5:17) should be a priority in our lives.  Unfortunately, the lie that our generation tells us that we don’t need these things, that we can be independent and distant from each other, no need for church in our lives.  That we can do it all on our own and that its my “personal” relationship with God and that it has nothing to do with anyone else.  These people seem to forget that we are the Body of Christ (Col 1:24; I Cor 12:27; Eph 5:30) set apart for His Glory, but I digress.

I remember vividly praying that I would know God more.  That my life would reflect Him in every way.  I desperately wanted to shine for Jesus.  I have failed many times….

But I continue to strive to know Jesus.  To behold Jesus as the Glorious One.

I pray that those that know Christ, will truly know Him.  That we will strive continuously to shine for Him.  That we will let go of everything else that gets in the way and grab onto Him and never let go.

It shows, believe me it shows…

I need your help!!

As some of you know, I stepped down from my position with Young Life to pursue my education, its been a great 5 years and the memories and friendships I have made will surely stick with me.  Young Life has made a tremendous impact in my life and contiues to make great a great impact in communities and teens lives for Christ.

My next 2 classes begin in September, so I decided to do a personal study for the summer.  For the last few months I have been fixated on Psalm 27:8:

You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”

I want to pick that phrase apart, “seeking the Face of the Lord”.  This is where I need your help.

If any of you have read and can recommend a book that will help as I seek the Holy Spirit to shed some light on this phrase, I would greatly appreciate it.

I plan on posting throughout the summer any thoughts or questions and would love your feedback!

Growing or Plateaued?

Here is another great excerpt from Dave Kraft’s, Leaders Who Last. Kraft is going over characteristics of leaders, one of which being learners.  Leaders are individuals who are continually learning and growing in their relationship with Christ.  That is the only way to lead others.

Howard Hendricks shares the story of a professor he had at Dallas Seminary who was in his study early in the mornings and late in the evenings.  Howard walked by his home and saw him through the study window.  One day curiosity got the better of him and he asked the old professor what motivated him to keep studying, assuming that by now he would have encountered almost everything and would be coasting into retirement.  The wise old professor answered, “I would rather have my students drink from a flowing stream than a stagnant pool.”

Wow!  To have that sort of vision and passion!  Right there is someone who knows that he can not do it in his own power or intellect.  That to truly be able to impact others, we ourselves need to continually be impacted by God’s Word and Spirit.  Too many times our pews are filled with people who think they have “arrived”, that they know what they need to know and don’t need to continue to move forward in their faith.  What would Port Alberni look like if the Church began to drink heavily from God’s Spirit and Word?  How would the people who I am in contact with be impacted if I drink heavily from God’s Spirit and Word?  Let us leave the “kiddie” pool, its stagnant and full of piss and jump deep into God’s Word and Spirit.

“About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food,  for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.  Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity… “-Hebrews 5:11-6:1a

Contemporvant?

My friend Rob posted this video on facebook.  I thought it was too funny and true that I had to post.  This video was put out by North Point Community Church in Georgia, Andy Stanley is the Pastor and they are making fun of mega churches and worship.  They have a great sense of humor!

http://vimeo.com/11501569

Click here for the article in USA Today

Great book so far…

I have begun reading Leaders Who Last by Dave Kraft.  It is such a great book so far!  I have not been able to put it down.  So far I highly recommend it to anyone that God has placed in a leadership position, from small group leaders, to Pastors to ministry and para-church leaders.  I thought I would share an excerpt from the book.  Since I am reading it on my kindle, I can’t really tell you what page it’s on.  Kraft is talking about spiritual disciplines and makes a point that spending time with God is not about obligation, but intimacy and how we let things get in the way.  This really hit come in a real way for me this morning….

I ran across the following that helps me have joy in my spiritual habits and avoid the pitfalls of my structured and systematic nature:

I will delight in your statutes. (Ps. 119:16)

It seems almost too simple, doesn’t it?  Naive.  At best, it sounds old-fashioned and quaint.  Who comes to the Word of God with delight anymore?  Aren’t we more sophisticated than that today?

We come with determination, diligence, discipline, and a sense of duty.

We bring charts, commentaries, concordances, dictionaries, encyclopedias, guides, graphs, maps, outlines, schedules, summaries, systems, and study helps.

We search for applications, attitudes, comparisons, concepts, contrasts, commands, cross references, examples, exhortations, illustrations, repetitions, statistics, and warnings.

We discover key words, key verses, key thoughts, key statements, and key chapters.

We develop word studies, topical studies, character studies and prayer studies.

We use translations, paraphrases, versions, and revisions of versions.

We read and reread until we become well-versed.

We are experts on Bible-study methods.

What could the psalmist have been thinking of when he said, “I will delight in your statutes”?  Surely, this approach is too childish for mature Bible students!  Still, some of us wonder, “Do you suppose it would be all right with the Father if we were to sort of ditch school once in a while and just curl up with a good book?  It really is delightful.”

May we all come back to the place in delighting in the Lord for He is Glorious!

Putting it out there…

I added a new page to this blog.  On this page I will put links to any recent sermons that I have the privilege of sharing in churches.  I would love to hear your feedback and thoughts.