On Our Way

This morning 9 of us from thebridge church in Ottumwa are headed to Battambang, Cambodia. It will be my fifth trip there. I love being in Cambodia. God is always faithful. I love speaking with the people there who love Jesus with everything they are and everything they have.

This is a little video from our last trip.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hubgxhTE6Vo&list=UUWjcXcGEzrDTA5gI1ZLWKow

I’ll won’t be back in the US until March 30, so it will be a while (most likely) before I update the blog. I’ll be back, just tough to work in time to blog while I’m over there.

Speaking From Experience

I can’t speak from experience in many things. I just don’t know that much. I haven’t done that much, so that makes me an authority on almost nothing. And most of the things I am really well versed at, no one should do. That leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to helping others find their way in a constructive manner. Thankfully, we have the Bible.

In Ecclesiastes we have some great wisdom from someone who is speaking from experience. Solomon the writer of most of Proverbs also wrote this book. Solomon became the most powerful king on earth in his day. He was crazy rich and had the blessing of God on him because he asked for wisdom when God told him He would give him whatever he asked for. In this book, from this author we get this subject:

The futility of wealth.

Solomon knew quite a bit about wealth. He was the richest man on the planet for a number of years during his life. So he can speak from a great perspective on this topic. Look at what he says:

“Don’t be surprised if you see a poor person being oppressed by the powerful and if justice is being miscarried throughout the land. For every official is under orders from higher up, and matters of justice get lost in red tape and bureaucracy. 9 Even the king milks the land for his own profit!

10 Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness! 11 The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what good is wealth—except perhaps to watch it slip through your fingers!

12 People who work hard sleep well, whether they eat little or much. But the rich seldom get a good night’s sleep.

13 There is another serious problem I have seen under the sun. Hoarding riches harms the saver.14 Money is put into risky investments that turn sour, and everything is lost. In the end, there is nothing left to pass on to one’s children. 15 We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us.

16 And this, too, is a very serious problem. People leave this world no better off than when they came. All their hard work is for nothing—like working for the wind. 17 Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry.” Ecclesiastes 5:8-17

If I were to make the same statements as above it wouldn’t have the same meaning. I could be taken as someone who would never be rich just hoping to tear down what being rich is like so it looks noble not to pursue it.

But Solomon was the Warren Buffett or Bill Gates of his day. He had all the money. And he is saying these things, “…what good is wealth…”, “…the rich seldom get a good nights sleep,” and “We can’t take our riches with us.”

The question must then be asked: Are we making more decisions that show we are pursuing wealth or God?

I’m Befuddled

Most people are closer to the heartbeat of pop culture than I am. That is a given and truly understandable given my disinterest in the matter. But I can’t believe no one saw fit to tell me about this. How could this happen and no one told me? I don’t blame all of you, but I do blame some of you.

Skittles changed their green flavor to sour apple? Whose idea was this? Why wasn’t I brought into this discussion? Come on…RIP lime flavor.

Though this decision seems baffling to me, something that isn’t baffling is the grace of God. I’m reading in Psalm 3. No one ever quotes anything from Psalm 3, but what the hay.

“But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” Psalm 3:3

When I read that about God being the lifter of my head, all I could picture was a dad putting his finger under his son’s chin to lift it up toward him. Our God wants that kind of relationship with us. That intimate. That He could reach down and lift our chin up toward Him. Doesn’t that seem like a far cry from a God of wrath and destruction? God isn’t out to catch us doing something wrong. He wants to catch us to bring us close to Him and protect us from the evil one.

Dont’ get me wrong, you don’t want to end up on the wrong side of God. Check out verse 7b:

“For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked.” Psalm 3:7b

That seems super specific and terrifying. I’ll stick with the “lifter of my head,” rather than the “breaker of the teeth…”

LLLF

 

IF

Do you have a favorite word?

Isn’t that a weird question? I think it’s weird and I asked. But think about it. Any favorites out there? I would say for years my favorite has been quagmire. It is quite the interesting word and underused. Another word that I love, but I can’t call my favorite because it was brought to me by someone else…ramshackle. Awesome word, never used and hilarious all in one.

You see it is possible to have a favorite word. Recently I’ve been intrigued by this word: If.

It holds so much in those two little letters. There is so much depth there. So much hope. So much defeat. An example:

“If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you.” Proverbs 1:23

So much hope in these words. God says, if you turn back to me, I will give my spirit and make my word known. It won’t be hard to figure out anymore. This is the if yes. But we all know when there is an if yes, there is an if no. If no:

“I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when terror strikes you,…” Proverbs 1:26

Ouch.

Do you have an “if” statement ruling your world these days? What is it?

Two are better than one…

Every time I hear, “Two are better than one…” I think donuts. Seriously, in what situation have you been where two donuts isn’t better than one?

Exactly! You can’t think of a single situation.

Then my world comes crashing down because I realize, this is a quote from the Bible, not my donut order. Ho hum…

I’m reading in Ecclesiastes chapter 4 and lo and behold:

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him–a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”  Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12

The first thing you’ll notice is this passage is written to men. Why that is sexist you might thing…nope. It’s just that men suck at doing life together with other guys. Ladies have this figured out. They go to the bathroom in small groups. Guys won’t even make eye contact in a concession stand line. So we need more help in this area.

Here are some facts of life:

We will fall down and we will get knocked down. It is a lot easier to get back up if someone is there to encourage you to get back up and to offer you a hand.

People will try to break us. On our own it can happen. When we hide our sin from the world and don’t confess our challenges to our closest friends, the pressure builds up. If we don’t share the burden, we’ll break.

Men – who are you walking with? Who are you sharing life with? Who are you willing to share your challenges with? Who will you allow to help you up? Who will you allow to share your burdens?

If you have to think very hard, your answer is actually no one. So what will you do about it? How can you find someone? What’s the first step?

Man That’s Crazy

Are you sold out for the Gospel?

If someone asked me that I would say that I think so. I left a corporate job to go into full time ministry. I’m about to leave for my fifth trip to Cambodia. We try to serve our city and the people in our city on a daily basis. I yearn for people to have the life change I have had in the last 13 years.

I think I’m doing well until I read the Bible. Check out these verses in Romans 9:

“My heart is filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters. I would be willing to be forever cursed–cut off from Christ!–if that would save them.” Romans 9:2-3

Excuse me? Wow. Am I sold out for the Gospel. Um no. No I’m not. I’m not eve filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief that people don’t know Jesus. I want people to know Jesus but it doesn’t dominate my life like it should. I am not beside myself over the lost.

What am I missing? Why isn’t their salvation as important to me as it is to Paul? Haven’t I been rescued just like him?

This seems to be the type of sacrifice that God asked of Abraham. God asked Abraham to take Isaac, his gift of a son (born to him at age 100), and sacrifice him on a mountain. The best gift God ever gave to Abraham, God asked Abraham to give it back.

So Paul ponders that same sacrifice. Giving up the best gift God could ever give for the sake of others. Jesus did the same thing. Jesus while hanging on the cross was separated from God while He took the punishment we deserved for our sins.

Should we try to get to this Romans 9:2-3 place? Would that be true humility and sacrifice and dedication to the Gospel?

Where are you at?

The Real Deal

Today’s post if out of everyone’s favorite book of the Bible…wait for it…Ecclesiastes.
(crickets)
No trust me it is in the Bible. I think it is awesome. How about this, you know the part of the Bible that says, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; etc.etc.”? That is from Ecclesiastes, everyone say, “Ohhhhhhh.”

We had that passage in our wedding. But that isn’t where we are planting today. We have something else that’s just as good.

Ecclesiastes 3:11

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out aha God has done from the beginning to the end.”

I love that, “…he has put eternity into man’s heart…”

Whether we love Jesus or not we are made for eternity. We have a feeling that we are eternal being regardless of where we come down on the issue of God. God puts eternity onto our hearts and into our minds. That is why many of those who don’t believe in Jesus are vehemently against His mission and outspoken. They know something is up with eternity, they just don’t know what. They have a yearning to figure it out.

Eternity is a fact. We will exist for the rest of eternity. That is how God has created us. If we don’t spend eternity in the presence of God, that means we will spend eternity not in the presence of God (a.k.a. hell). Hell is absent of the love of God. That is what is hell. Have you ever heard the expression, “hell on earth”? It’s possible. Where darkness if ruling the day and the Word of God has been forsaken. Hell reigns on earth. But that isn’t the end.

Those of us who Believe are amazing beams of light. And even one particle of light can destroy the darkest darkness. Darkness can’t overcome light, but light, inherently destroys the dark. Isn’t that beautiful?

Eternity is on our hearts. I pray our hearts are with the Lord. Do you know someone who isn’t planning to spend eternity in the presence of God? What can stop you from sharing the Good News with them so that your light might overwhelm the darkness in their life?