Monthly Archives: June 2015

Song of Sol 7-8; Psalm 127; 2 Thess 2

What’s the God-metric pressure in your home today?

What is the God-metric pressure, anyway? Well… you’ve heard of barometric pressure, right? When the barometric pressure is very low, terrible storms result… epic blizzards in winter and intense hurricanes during the summer months. Similarly, if the God-metric pressure in your home is low, high levels of adversity, difficulty, and hardship will be experienced. A God-metric pressure that is high, when the home environment is intentionally focused on God’s model for the family, peace, love, compassion, and harmony are more the rule than the exception. But unlike barometric, which we have no control over, God-metric pressure is completely controllable… and best of all, it’s a choice that we can make. And in this season of Father’s Day, as men, we need to, as Chip Ingram in the House or Home, God’s Blueprint for Marriage states, we’re supposed to “step up and not step on” as we lead our families. And this leading is contingent on our relationship with Jesus Christ and where we choose to place Him in the context of our families. But the family needs more than just men… it requires both husband and wife to work together for a common good… the family and their children based on God’s perfect model.

How’s your family’s God-metric pressure today? Strong, vibrant, peaceful, with compassion and love being demonstrated toward each other? Or is the family atmosphere filled with anger, yelling, and harshness? Today, more than ever before, families are under attack, and unless we’re willing to proclaim Jesus as the rock and foundation the home is built on, there is no way we’ll be able to sustain the spiritual storm we’re being exposed to on a regular basis. The photo I’ve included in this posting is so incredibly descriptive of what it is that I’m writing about.

Like this lighthouse, which is being pummeled by a terrible storm, today’s family is under attack through overt online filth, overuse of social media which is quickly replacing necessary communication within and outside of the family, inappropriate programming on television, unprecedented violence against women and children as the intended targets, and the removal of any reference to God in schools and everyday life. But, look carefully at the lighthouse in the photo… regardless of the impact of the immense, powerful waves, it remains steady… rooted in the firm foundation of the rock it is built on. An amazing analogy that we should be modeling our own lives and the lives of our families after, as it’s not a matter of if we’ll get hit by adversity, but when… and when we do, will we crumble under the intense pressure of life’s storm? The answer lies in who or what we choose to build our homes on.

Lighthouse upon a firm foundation

In today’s reading, I focused my work on Psalm 127, particularly Psalm 127:1 stating that “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” God holds the family unit in the highest regard and we, as parents, have an obligation to our children to make the family a priority… to defend the family from any and all adversity founded on the foundation of Jesus Christ. The divorce rate amongst original marriages has risen to the 50% mark, and even higher when dealing with remarried couples. As a Christian seeking answers to these frightening statistics, I’ve concluded that families have 3 definite adversaries… the world, our own flesh nature, and the enemy, Satan, himself. God speaks to us in Ephesians 6:12 stating “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

But Satan’s attack on the family should be no surprise to us, right? We saw him at work in the Garden of Eden… and in full view of Eve’s assigned protector… her partner Adam. Genesis 3:6 speaks that Eve “also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” So, we’re up against an amazingly cunning and veil adversary, who works both in the dark and out in the light, to break apart the family unit. In 2 Corinthians 11:14, we’re told “and no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” He is a liar and a deceiver, who does not abide in truth. I’m sure if you take some time to reflect, you’ll come up with at least a dozen things that keep the family from remaining as close and as strong as they once were.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, we need to reclaim our families! We can do this by working together and being proactive in obedience to God’s Word… by doing, living, and acting out God’s plan for our lives and in the lives of our families. And just as a master builder would never consider building a home, or a lighthouse, on a weak or fragile foundation, we, as humans, must confess our dependence on God as the one true foundation if we’re to stand a chance against this relentless enemy that does not rest. We must persevere… the sanctity of the family unit is at stake! And while we may not experience the fruit our efforts in the near term, God will honor the planting of ‘seeds’ and the effort to maintain the integrity of the family.

Father… so many of Your children are screaming that they are tired of trying to run their homes their way. Today, we commit to being the men and women You have called us to be, to use You and Your Word as the foundation to build our homes on. We declare today that we want to raise our families according to Your plan, not ours. And just as You were tempted by Satan and all his empty promises, we shout out “Away from me, Satan! For it is written, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only!”” (Matthew 4:10).

Amen!

gstefanelli (Greg Stefanelli)

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Song of Sol 4-6; 2 Thessalonians 1

“Therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure.” – 2 Thessalonians 1:4

We live in a climate that is increasingly hostile toward Christianity. And, a culture in turmoil over racial tension. While we do need to recognize and address these issues, we also need to keep driving to the heart of the matter and responding with God’s love.

Second Thessalonians offers some perspective and some hope . . .

“For after all it is only just for God to  . . . give relief to you who are afflicted.”

The passage goes on to have some harsh words for those that afflict followers of Christ. Sometimes we are targeted simply because of our faith, and other times, like this past week, people see only our earthly shell.

Because man looks on the outward appearance. God looks on the heart. Man sees race. God sees people, souls.

While many of us were at prayer meetings, small groups, youth group, or various church activities, things changed. Nine lives lost. A disturbing motive.

I walk into church many Wednesday evenings. My last thought is that I would come face to face with a killer there. I expect a refuge, hope, love. That’s the environment we should create for all who enter. Looking at the heart, the need. Heart breaking that we need to consider the possibility, raise walls of protection yet again, because a person (as many others do, but maybe without the violent calculations) looked at skin color.

What’s my response? Speak proudly of their faith. Stand up and against racial violence. It might be the start of some uncomfortable conversations and awkward encounters, but our faith propels us to speak out and live out God’s love.

Lord God, please move in our land. Renew people’s thinking, bring new life where sin currently controls. Here am I, send me. ~Amen

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Song of Solomon 1-3; Psalm 72; 1 Thessalonians 5

Song of Solomon steams. Beloved enjoys the pleasures of being the singled out and pursued by her lover as well as the ecstasy and agony of being in love. Intimacy is a dance of expectation, anticipation and fulfillment…a losing and finding oneself…the fear of drawing near to something dangerous and consuming only to find wonder and joy. To read Song of Solomon is to witness the sensual nature of love.

Abandon ambivalence when reading these lines. Delight in the unfolding of an epic love story. Time stands still. There’s no scattered rushing about. Love is all consuming and its intricacies are savored with poetic metaphor. Beloved and Lover behold each other’s attributes. Beloved names her own beauty, “I am the rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys (2:2).” And the couple affirms the passion and solidity of their relationship, “and our bed is verdant. The beams of our house are cedars; our rafters are firs. (1:16-17).”

Song of Solomon can be an invitation from God to appreciate the loves of my life: God, husband, family and friends. It has me asking myself questions. Do I take time for my most important relationships to grow and flourish or do I try to force them onto my to-do list (it’s the old quality versus quantity time debate)? Do I savor and wonder at the beauty of God, my husband, friends and family? Or do I race right by them on a high speed freeway I call life? Do I recognize my own beauty as the redeemed beloved of God?  Do I brush aside compliments and affection in vain attempts to build defensive walls of self pride that keep me from admitting vulnerability and my need for love?

It’s the grace of God that draws my soul towards him, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It the through his goodness that he has made me Jim’s wife; it’s through his further extravagance that he has provided family and friends. I pray that he keeps me from taking Him and others for granted and that my heart is eager to dwell on the riches of his love.

Klueh

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Proverbs 26-28; 1 Thessalonians 3

Proverbs reads like a vicious tug of war. Fools, lazy, greedy, jealous–the words are pounded with a judge’s gavel at each line. Some of those titles I’ve worn myself, and others I’ve recognized in relationships. The words are barbed, and the strike rips open memories that give new meaning to Throw Back Thursday.

Lately life has felt like a tug of war. And whether it’s been over responsibilities or relationships, I feel pulled in many directions, yanked, torn. The days carry me one foot in front of the other, and I find myself advancing towards deadlines and skirmishes. I try to clear my head and shake out the onslaught of weighty things–just run my race. Put some blinders on. One foot in front of the other.

Those who trust their own insight are foolish,
    but anyone who walks in wisdom is safe. Proverbs 28:26, NLT

I turned eagerly to the reading today because (because of a flare-up of a child’s chronic condition; a workload I’m not sure I can carry; backed-up toilets and a house gone haywire; rows of cards in the store and the battle I face at this time every year; invisibility) I need God.

I desperately need God.

My God, my Father. My God, my healer. My God, my savior. My God, my strength.

I found comfort in 1 Thessalonians 3.

We sent him to strengthen you, to encourage you in your faith, and to keep you from being shaken by the troubles you were going through. But you know that we are destined for such troubles. Even while we were with you, we warned you that troubles would soon come—and they did, as you well know. That is why, when I could bear it no longer, I sent Timothy to find out whether your faith was still strong. I was afraid that the tempter had gotten the best of you and that our work had been useless.

But now Timothy has just returned, bringing us good news about your faith and love. He reports that you always remember our visit with joy and that you want to see us as much as we want to see you. So we have been greatly encouraged in the midst of our troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith. It gives us new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 3:2b-8, NLT.

Lord, I don’t always know what to do. I don’t always handle pressure well. And sometimes I get so distracted by troubles that my faith gets misplaced. Help me to walk in wisdom. Thank you that you see me, and you’ll never forsake me.

Courtney (66books365)

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Proverbs 26-28; 1 Thessalonians 3

People who conceal their sins will not prosper,

but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.

Blessed are those who fear to do wrong,

but the stubborn are headed for serious trouble. Proverbs 28:13-14

Before I was a believer, I thought that if I kept my ‘junk’ – my insecurities, envy, jealousy, anger, and the other sins of my heart – hidden from people that it would be as if it didn’t exist. I could put on a good face, a mask of innocence, and convince people that I was doing okay.

I came to a realization that no matter how well I kept it all hidden from my family and my friends (and I was probably deluding myself about how well I was keeping things secret anyway), I wasn’t keeping anything hidden from God.

He has full access to my heart, mind, and soul. He knows when sin has entered my heart, regardless of whether or not it shows to people. He knows when I am being stubborn and He knows when I am truly repentant.

Now that I follow Christ, I strive to walk in the freedom offered through salvation which Jesus granted to me through His finished work on the cross. I do my best to avoid what people consider the ‘big sins’, but in my humanness I still often commit sins of wrong attitudes.

I believe that God understands that I am going to sin, as much as He hopes that I wouldn’t; and, because of that awareness, He gives me second, thirds, fourth, etc. chances. Because He loves me so much, He extends His gift of grace to me each time I bring my failures to Him and lay them down at His feet.

When I confess my sins to Him, He forgives me and offers me mercy, allowing my past to no longer dictate what my future will look like. He heals my heart, gives me wisdom, and alleviates the trouble that may have been stirred up by my bad choices and He helps my destiny flourish. He gives me a testimony of His goodness and made me an overcomer.

Yesappa, Thank You for Your mercy and Your love. Thank You for Your forgiveness, and for helping me be transparent and vulnerable before You. Please, check my spirit when I sin in my heart so that I am more aware of my need to confess.And, grant me continuing grace as I journey through life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie, Sholavandan, India (written in the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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