Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sacrifice

I have been thinking a lot about sacrifice lately. With the exception of its application in war times, you don't hear about it a whole lot. It doesn't seem like something that is promoted in our society. Our culture is all about comfort, ease, convenience. We are told to make sure we get what is coming to us and to stand up for our rights. We should not let anyone get anything by us - that's why there are so many court tv shows and dramas. I've even seen a billboard advertising a website "Who Can I Sue?" The messages I receive from the world around me tells me that sacrifice is not important, or ever really necessary.

However, I learn in the Bible that sacrifice is the ultimate form of love. "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13 The best way to demonstrate love to others is to sacrifice myself for them. That's what Jesus did for us. That is what we are supposed to do out of our love for God. But what kind of sacrificing are we to do? Are we supposed to seek out opportunities to put our life in danger? Not necessarily. Like I said above, we are all about convenience these days - drive-thrus, online bill pay, cell phones. What if we were open to allowing ourselves to be inconvenienced by others? What if we were not so interested in our own agenda, but in whatever God may have in mind? What if I were truly willing to sacrifice my own wants for the benefit of others?

Yesterday in prayer group we had a discussion on fasting. We talked about the different types of fasts, reasons for fasting, and the purpose of fasting. Fasting is generally associated with food, but fasting should be associated with sacrificing. For some people, it is nothing to skip meals. What would be even more difficult would be to give up the internet. In a fast, the thing sacrificed is supposed to help make you more aware of your need for/dependence upon God. If the "sacrifice" is not noticed, then it's not really a sacrifice. Sacrifices are usually associated with pain - not necessarily physical, but there's a pang of some sort, maybe a feeling similar to withdrawal. The lack of that "thing" is felt acutely. It got me thinking about times of fasting I've had in the past. Not every time has the sacrificed thing really been a true sacrifice to me. There have been times when it was ritual rather than purposeful.

I am pressed to ask myself, "Am I willing to sacrifice my wants, desires, comfort, happiness, etc for others or for something better? In my marriage, do I always seek my way or am I looking for ways to serve my husband? In my relationships, am I seeking the interests of friends and families, or am I continually guarding my own? With God, am I truly desiring his purpose for my life so much that I would sacrifice whatever he asked me to, or are there areas in my life that I am still holding onto and keeping away from God? Do I truly trust God that the result will be worth whatever sacrifice he may call me to make?"

What about you? Can you honestly answer "Yes" to the questions above?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Psalms S.O.A.P. Wrap Up

I was thinking that it would be kind of neat to compile the verses I selected for each of the thirty-six days. I realize that my "Day One" post does not reflect the first day of the plan but rather the second. I didn't SOAP on sermon days, but will still make a verse selection from each of the days. I think it'll be a good record for me to look back on. Hope you enjoy it as well! I really did enjoy the SOAP exercise and think I may use it for future Bible reading.

Day 1 (Psalm 1): He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. 1:1

Day 2 (Psalms 2-6): In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation. 5:3

Day 3 (Psalms 7-11): Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. 9:10

Day 4 (Psalms 12-14,16-17): I said to the Lord, "You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing." 16:2

Day 5 (Psalms 18,20-22,24): For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help. 22:24

Day 6 (Psalms 25-29): One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. 27:4

Day 7 (Psalms 30-34): Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord" - and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah. 32:5

Day 8 (Psalm 15): He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart 15:2

Day 9 (Psalms 35-39): Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. 37:7

Day 10 (Psalms 41-45): My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? 42:2

Day 11 (Psalms 47-51): "He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God." 50:23

Day 12 (Psalms 52-56): In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me? 56:4

Day 13 (Psalms 57-61): I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills his purpose for me. 57:2

Day 14 (Psalms 62-66): My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. 62:1

Day 15 (Psalm 19): May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. 19:14

Day 16 (Psalms 67-71): May those who hope in you not be disgraced because of me, O Lord, the Lord Almighty; may those who seek you not be put to shame because of me, O God of Israel. 69:6

Day 17 (Psalms 72-76): For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 73:3

Day 18 (Psalms 77-81): When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands and my soul refused to be comforted. 77:2

Day 19 (Psalms 82-86): Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. 86:11

Day 20 (Psalms 87-91): Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. 90:12

Day 21 (Psalms 92-96): The Lord knows the thoughts of man; he knows that they are futile. 94:11

Day 22 (Psalm 23): Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 23:4

Day 23 (Psalms 97-101): Know that the Lord is God: It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 100:3

Day 24 (Psalms 102-106): he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 103:10

Day 25 (Psalms 107-111): Great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in them. 111:2

Day 26 (Psalms 112-116): How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people. 116:12-14

Day 27 (Psalms 117-118,120-122): It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. 118:8

Day 28 (Psalm 119): I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. 119:11

Day 29 (Psalm 40): Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare. 40:5

Day 30 (Psalms 123-127): Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. 127:1

Day 31 (Psalms 128-132): I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. 130:5

Day 32 (Psalms 133-137): to the One who remembered us in our lowly estate His love endures forever. 136:23

Day 33 (Psalms 138-142): The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever - do not abandon the works of your hands. 138:8

Day 34 (Psalms 143-147): Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground. 143:10

Day 35 (Psalms 148-150): Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. 150:6

Day 36 (Psalm 46): God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 46:1


I'm glad that I reviewed the verses because I did not recall having chosen some of them. Perhaps that's a sign I could still improve in the area of meditation on scripture.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Forgiveness

I just finished reading today's Serious Wednesday post over at Stuff Christians Like. It really hit me hard. I would recommend hopping over there to read it. To think that we have a God that is willing to forgive us at the first second of our turning to him in repentance. If people forgave like God, it would be such a healing world. We wouldn't have to experience the pain of someone else reminding you of your failures after they had said they forgave you. I love that God's forgiveness is much higher than the petty forgiveness down here. I love that his memory does not recall every insult or hurt we've inflicted on him, just waiting for a future time to remind us of our sinfulness. No, God's love has covered over our sins. In his mind, we are pure and blameless and clean.

I know that I struggle with letting go of hurts that others have inflicted on me. I try not to allow it to resurface in the face of another injury. I know how much it hurts when it's done to me. Why should we be made to feel guilty AGAIN for something we have already sought forgiveness for and been forgiven of. It's not forgiven if it gets rubbed in our face again, is it? I desperately want to receive the forgiveness that God has from other people. I want to be able to give it as well. Imagine how life would be if we all were quick to forgive and graciously left hurts in the past? Yes, I know that that kind of forgiveness could lead to abuse. God certainly knows and has experienced this as we are all guilty of requiring forgiveness on a regular basis. But that's where unconditional love comes in. Wouldn't it be awesome if we all tried to forgive and love like God?

The Psalms: Week Five

This past Sunday, Jeff preached on Psalm 40. While I didn't get to hear it due to volunteering in the nursery, so many people had raved about the message that I knew I needed to listen to it. That, and the fact that when I was printing out the connection cards and saw that a Next Step was "Wait patiently on the Lord" and knew that was something I could use help in. Amber and Connie were referencing it all through our walking group yesterday and I felt a little out of the loop. So I listened to it on my way to work today. You, too, can listen to it here.

It was quite an encouraging message. It was all about waiting on the Lord. The focus was on the first four verses.

I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.

He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the Lord.

Blessed is the man
who makes the Lord his trust

I know that the band played U2's song, "Psalm 40" before the message. John Waller's song "While I'm Waiting" was also played.

I really like that Jeff addressed the question, "What does it mean to wait on the Lord?" That has been one of the questions I've had for quite some time without a helpful answer. (Another one being, "What does it mean to abide in Christ/How does one abide in Christ?") Jeff said that waiting on God involved being obedient to and trusting in Him. He gave us thoughts to consider. Biblical waiting does not mean doing nothing. It's not a way to evade responsibility. We are still supposed to do what we have been called to do. Waiting involves a daily decision to trust and obey God. How can we expect God to convene in our lives if we're not being obedient to him? Waiting patiently is saying that we will trust and obey God even if the circumstances of our lives are not what we want them to be. Even though they may not turn out in the way we would choose, still we are betting everything on God with no plan B. Sometimes waiting is just a painful hanging on.

What does it take to wait well? It requires patient trust. "Will I trust that God has reasons for telling me 'Wait'? Will I trust that God knows what he's doing? Will I remember that God sees things very differently than I do because he sees in the perspective of eternity?"

2 Peter 3:8-9 "But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."

Monday, July 20, 2009

S.O.A.P. Day 27

The scripture for day 27 was Psalm 119.

Scripture: I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11

Observation: The psalmist knows that by learning and meditating on scripture, he will be more aware of what it says so that he can obey it.

Application: I need to get back to verse memorization. I keep saying this because it is true and beneficial,, but i have yet to put it into practice again.

Prayer: Father, you are so good to me. Thank you for your Word that reminds me of the necessity of knowing (and not just reading) it. Help me to begin hiding your Word in my heart. Amen.


There were a couple other verses that I really enjoyed from Psalm 119.

Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth, and it endures. Psalm 119:90

Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble. Psalm 119:165


I remember the first time I tried reading Psalm 119. I was overwhelmed by the length of it (176 verses and approximately four pages in my bible). I also got weighed down by the theme of loving and knowing God's Word. At that point in time the repetition was somewhat boring to me. However, more recent readings of it have given me encouragement and joy. Now that I do desire to know and obey God's Word, the words of this psalm resonate with me. It's amazing how passages in the Bible hit you differently at various readings. It is an obvious sign of God's work in my life and how his Word is always relevant. I occasionally will date a scripture verse or section and make a notation of the particular circumstance that applies to it. It's neat when I come across the verse later to read about its past benefits.

Does anyone else write in their Bible? Have you noticed how a passage can mean nothing to you at one reading and be spot on at another time?

Christ Centered Marriage

I listened to Christ Centered Relationships part 2 from Cornerstone Church this morning while on the elliptical machine at the gym. It's a great way to make valuable use of time and engage my mind along with my body.

Lisa Chan did most of the speaking toward women/wives. It talked a lot about Ephesians 5 and 1 Peter 3, focusing on submitting to our husbands. Her focus was about us being/becoming the godly women we were created to be. To concern ourselves with being obedient to Christ in our lives. It's not about what our spouses are or are not doing. We cannot wait for them to do what they are supposed to do before we do what we are supposed to do. Our call is to do what God wants us to do in spite of what everyone else is doing.

The question is, Is Jesus really our role model (who we are trying to be more like) or is he just a Savior? Do we like what he did for us simply for our benefit or do we want to be more like him? Do we want to demonstrate service and sacrifice like he did or just admire him for it?

Lisa talked cited 1 Peter 3 in reminding us that our actions can have a lot of power. Especially to wives whose husbands are not Christ followers. Being Christ to our husbands can cause changes in them (while at the same time changing us, obviously). Wives need to remember that God knows us and he knows our spouse. He hasn't left us to ourselves, but is working in us and through us.

I was really hit by the call to serve and sacrifice for our spouses. (I think there was a third "s" but I can't remember what it was.) I do want to be a godly wife and to support (maybe that was the third "s"?) my husband and to trust him as the head of our family. God created this system and he knows what he's doing and I ought to honor that. I was thinking about how it's hard to get out of my selfish mindset even in marriage to truly seek to serve Adam. And even harder to purposefully sacrifice myself and my dreams.

We all have these goals for our lives and, when we get married, we bring them with us. At some point there may be friction between what we have always wanted and what is asked of us in marriage. Francis talked about Lisa's dream to be a professional singer and choosing to give that up so that she and her husband could share the same vision of starting a new church. I don't know if I have any dreams that will have to be put aside for my marriage, but I'd like to think that I would be willing to do so. It was a very poignant and challenging message. If you'd like to hear it for yourself, go here and scroll down to the message on 08/10/08.

P.S. The third S was "suffering" (as in Jesus served, suffered, and sacrificed). I don't exactly know that anyone would want to say they "suffer" in their marriage. Might not come across very well...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

S.O.A.P. Day 25

Today's scripture section was Psalms 112-116.


Scripture: How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.
I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.
Psalm 116:12-14


Observation: I was just thinking verse 14 while praying this morning. God is so loving, caring, steadfast, trustworthy. How do I reciprocate when I am flaky, selfish, busy, lazy? Regardless, I do need to give back to God out of all he's given me. I like that the next two verses answer the question: prayer, accepting Jesus as Savior, being obedient and transparent.


Application: I am trying to be more transparent and obedient but my pride gets in the way (along with a desire for acceptance by others). I need to focus solely on pleasing God.


Prayer: Father, thank you so much for this timely verse. You are so good to me. Help me to seek to be obedient and transparent and to give you praise for all you have done and do. I am so thankful for the life you've given me. I am so blessed. In Jesus' name, Amen.




This was quite timely as noted above. The other verse that really struck me today was Psalm 112:7 "He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord." That's how I need to be. I really do struggle with fear and death. At times I allow fear to immobilize me. I worry about the safety of others, sometimes more than necessary. I just need to trust that God can support me through anything and everything and focus on loving him.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Psalms: Week Four

This past Sunday Neal spoke to us about Psalm 23. You can listen to the sermon here. What follows are my notes from the message.


From Psalm 23 we learn three things about the shepherd.

1. The Shepherd's Person

Psalm 23:1 > Our shepherd provides for all of our needs - we should be content in what God's given us.


John 10:11 > Jesus is the good shepherd

Isaiah 53:6 > We all, like sheep, have gone astray


Sheep are very easily led. They have great hearing, sight, and sense of smell. People also tend to be easily led. That's why we need a good leader.


An example of a good leader/shepherd (video Neal shared).

2. The Shepherd's Provision

Verses 2-5
Sometimes we have to be forced to rest. A sheep will not rest until four criteria have been met: Fear (danger), Friction (relationship issues, turmoil), Fleas (annoyances), Famine (hunger).

Restores my soul - rescuing a sheep that has become stuck (has rolled onto side and cannot get back onto its own feet) which is often due to laziness, being loaded down, or being too large. It has to be picked up/rescued by the shepherd and set back down on its feet again.

3b - What if we lived our lives in order to lift up the name of Jesus?

4 - Just because we're following God's leading doesn't mean that there won't be storms (valley of the shadow of death). Sometimes where God wants us to be means going through turmoil.

Our rod is God's word. It protects our lives and is also used for discipline. Our staff is the Holy Spirit that comforts us.

5 - Anoint head with oil - oil used to set apart (as in a king), protection/healing (from diseases).

3. The Shepherd's Promise
Verse 6 - Goodness and love/mercy will follow me all the days of my life.
Neal quoted out of Phillip Keller's A Shepherd's Look at Psalm 23. He was talking about how sheep have good quality manure that can help regenerate grass in derelict soil. "In other words goodness and mercy, goodness and love had followed my flocks. They left behind them something worthwhile, productive, beautiful and beneficial to both themselves and others and me. Where they had walked, there followed fertility and weed-free land. Where they had lived there remained beauty and abundance. And here's the question that now comes to me very pointedly. 'Is this true in my life? Do I leave a benediction and a blessing behind me?'"

Do I bless the things I'm involved in?

Would people be shocked to learn that I am a Christ follower based on their experiences with me?

I really enjoyed the breakdown and the poignant questions at the end. Do I really make a difference for the better in the things I'm involved with? Does my behavior demonstrate love and mercy to others? These are questions I should constantly ask to evaluate my effectiveness.

During the message I was reminded of another video on this book. I have to attach it because it's awesome.


video

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Psalms: Week Three

This past Sunday, Jeff's message was on Psalm 19:1-6. You can listen to it here.

Elohim = God of all creation

We are sitting on a ball suspended in midair rotating at 1,000 miles per hour, rotating around a ball of fire 1.6 million times larger than us at a speed of 67,000 miles per hour and don't really think about it. We don't even feel the affects of the speed of rotation, unlike when we ride the teacups at Disney World (or the Batman roller coaster at Six Flags for the more adventurous type).

God's done all of this and we don't give him the honor and glory he deserves. We take all we see for granted and don't even notice God in his creation. We even fall asleep talking to him sometimes.

"Worship is the intentional turning of the mind to God and ascribing to God all of the greatness and goodness and glory that belongs to him." -Dallas Willard

You can worship anywhere at anytime with anyone. It is all about focusing the mind/noticing.

Mindlessness keeps us from noticing/tuning in to God. "Stop and smell the roses" is a well-known saying. Think about the simplicity of the statement. A rose is something you have to intentionally focus on in order to fully appreciate and enjoy it. You may glance at a rose and notice it's color. But to get the full sense of the rose you have to get close to it, put your nose up to the bloom, and breathe in its fragrance. Without consciously engaging the senses, you cannot truly experience a rose.

When we give of ourselves and our resources we are worshiping God.

When was the last time in following God that you felt a sense of wonder or amazement?

Intentionally turn your mind to God. Tuning in to God and worshiping eliminates despair (worries and stress).

Habakkuk 3:17-18 "Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior."
(Sounds kind of like our vegetable garden this year...) Remembering who God is minimizes our issues and their hold on us.


This was such a powerful and convicting message. Especially the description of our planet and its movements. I really don't ever think about what is happening to sustain life on earth. I don't think about how, if gravity was just a little more or less we wouldn't exist, or if the earth's axis tilted just a little more one way or the other there'd be no life, or if we were a little closer or farther from the sun it'd be too hot or cold for life, and all of the infinitesimal differences that would have prohibited life on our planet. When I do stop to consider these things, it blows my mind. For more scientific data, please read The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel. It was an amazing read, but my mind cannot hold all of the actual numbers and research. I really appreciated the reminder.

I do love the beauty of creation. I am definitely guilty of not noticing it more often than not. And the fact that God created it in spite of my obliviousness or neglect of noticing is incredible. A side note: yesterday I was looking at the celosia I planted around our tree. They were looking wilted because it hadn't rained and I hadn't watered them (I'm a bad gardener). It was especially noticeable because the flowers are colorful spikes that were sort of hunched over. Last night it rained and this morning they were all pointed straight up again. It was as if they were praising God for his provision. I could stand to be more like my flowers. My application for the week is to notice God's creation and give him the praise he deserves.

S.O.A.P. Day 19

Today's scripture section was Psalms 86-91.

Scripture: Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

Observation: We should ask God to show us how to spend our days/time so that we will gain wisdom to make good decisions. Making good use of our time increases wisdom.

Application: I need to ask God how my time each day should be spent. His guidance will help me to make good use of my life and please him in all I do.

Prayer: Father, I admit that often times I will make plans for the day without stopping to consider how you might want me to spend it. Other times I will ask you to approve or be present in the plans I make. Help me to instead seek your plans for each day and be willing to bend to your leading rather than try to stick to an arbitrary schedule. In Jesus' name, Amen.


Often times I will act like my days are mine. The free time I have is for my selfish purposes. I only have a finite number of days that God, in his infinite wisdom, has given to me. I should cherish this gift of life and seek God's purposes so that my life may be what it was meant to be. I want a life of meaning not of squandered time.

Trusting God

I just finished listening to a message titled Christ Centered Relationships (pt 1) by Francis and Lisa Chan at Cornerstone Church. It was soooo good. I really needed to hear it. In it, I was reminded that I am to get all of my fulfillment from God. My husband is not supposed to meet all of my needs, God is. Marriage may last a lifetime, but then there's eternity and our purpose on this earth is to show God's love to the world - to everyone. Christ's love was not selfish - he did not focus on getting his part or having his needs filled up. His focus was on reaching those who needed love and glorifying the Father.

Like we've all heard before, marriage is not about happiness but holiness. God has a purpose for our marriage, if we are married. When we meet him after death, he is not going to ask if we had a happy marriage. He is going to ask if we pointed others to him. This world is passing away and we need to focus on what is next.

Paul exhorted married people to live as they were single (1 Corinthians 7:29-31). Chan explained this that we are not to get completely wrapped up in our families, but to continue to love and serve others. Not that we're supposed to ignore our spouses, but that we are to still serve God in marriage by serving others (including our spouses). The Chans were much more eloquent in their delivery and you may prefer to hear it for yourself here (07/27/08 message).

Francis talked about feeling God's calling to start a church just three weeks after he and Lisa were married. Lisa's response that when she married him she believed that God would lead her and their through him really hit me. Is that what I believe in my own marriage? God says that the man is the spiritual head. Do I trust him at his word and live that in our marriage? I want to if I'm not. My desire is to trust that God's plan for marriage and his set up of the roles of husbands and wives is best and to submit to his design. It's such an eye opener. It isn't about whether or not I trust my husband. It's bigger than that. It's do I trust that God knows what is best for me? He created me. All his ways right and true.

What application do I have from this message? It's for me to answer the question, "Do I really trust God?" And if I do, then I must act like it. I know that he is trustworthy, but I must put feet to my faith. I also need to look to God rather than my husband to meet all of my needs. Once again, it's a trust issue. Do I trust God to come through for me? If I do, then I must act like it. I guess that's my new mantra: If I trust God, then I must act like it.

What about you? Do you struggle with trusting God? What would it look like for you to act like you do?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Must-See TV?

A while ago I read a book titled Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of the Fallen World. It was a pretty interesting read. It really got me thinking about what I watch on television and in the movies. More recently I've been more aware of the things that I am viewing and do have a desire to be more intentional with my viewing. There's always an opportunity for a lot of wasted time staring at nothing (which is also applicable to computer time).

This book reminded me that I should watch things that honor God and are beneficial. It really caused me to consider the shows I currently watch regularly. Does the content show actual consequences for behavior? Does it applaud a behavior that God does not condone? What is the language like? Are any of the characters hostile or derogatory toward God?

I do desire to please God in all that I do. There are shows that I currently follow that do have questionable content. They are prime time shows that are witty and entertaining but sometimes the things that are shown as okay are not okay according to scripture. The hard thing is that I really enjoy these shows and am "hooked" on them. It is much easier to decide not to start watching new shows with negative content rather than to stop watching current shows with this content. It would be somewhat easier to do so if they were shows that only I follow. But I talk about them with others. I know that I could survive without these shows - really without a t.v. period. But part of me doesn't want to. So I know what would be best for me and am struggling with myself to do it.

I know that it should come down to loving God more than my own enjoyment and that I can find enjoyment in other things. I'm definitely not all the way there, but I am determined to make smarter choices in future movie and TV viewings. I would recommend this book and will share a few quotes from it.

What does it look like when the blood of Christ governs the television and the internet and the iPod and the checkbook and the neckline? P.11

Maybe, for all it's simplicity, we're not exactly sure what it means. What is the author, John, getting at here? What does it mean for a Christian - what does it mean for me - not to love the world? Does it mean I can't watch MTV or go to an R-rated movie? Do I have to give up my favorite TV shows? Is it okay to watch a movie as long as I fast-forward the sex scene? How much violence or language is too much? P.16-17

Whatever the reason, this verse (1 John 2:15) makes you uncomfortable. It invades your personal space. You're afraid if you get too close, these ten little words might come between you and the things in the world you enjoy. You're reluctant to discuss "worldliness" because then you might have to change. P.18

Promoting an evil message is presenting sin in an appealing light. P.61

Whether we're aware of it or not, each of us has a set of beliefs and assumptions about ourselves and about the world we inhabit. Through the lens of these beliefs and assumptions - our worldview - we interpret our experiences, draw conclusions, and make decisions. Ultimately, our world view determines how we live. P.141

We're all plagued by the tendency to compartmentalize some aspects of our lives as spiritual, good, and holy and others as unspiritual, unimportant, and amoral. Perhaps you're familiar with this impulse: "God really cares about my devotions, my church involvement, my tithe, and my sharing the gospel. Those are important. But my work? Just a necessary evil. Home responsibilities? They've got to get done. My free time? That's my time (as long as I don't sin)." Such thinking demeans Christ's lordship and impoverishes our spiritual life, rendering our faith irrelevant to 98 percent of our daily existence. No wonder so many lack passion in their Christian lives. P.155-156

All of life affords one long opportunity to experience God, to serve God, to be used by God, as we receive from him our gifts, callings, and opportunities and the power to utilize them for his glory. P.161

Thursday, July 2, 2009

S.O.A.P. Day 11

This morning's scripture section was Psalms 52-56.

Scripture: In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me? Psalm 56:4

Observation: David reminds us that we are not to be concerned with the opinion of men, but rather the opinion of God. Our hope and trust is to be in God, not men.

Application: I need to concern myself with being obedient to God, even when that means being unpopular with people. God is faithful and will reward me for my obedience.

Prayer: Lord, please help me to keep my eyes on you and to follow you at all times, even when there's the risk of rejection by others. My hope and trust are in you. You know what is best for me and what will glorify you. Use me, Lord. Amen.


I really liked this verse today because it reminds me of concerns I have about the book I am writing. In it I talk about things that most people have never heard or known. I do sometimes wonder whether others' opinion of me may change, but I have to trust that God can and will use every part of my life. If he can do great things through the sharing of my story, then I want him to do that regardless of what others may think or decide about me. I need to continue to be encouraged by God's word so that I do not give up or give in to fear.

S.O.A.P. Day 10

I had wanted to post yesterday's SOAP yesterday, but I've been preparing frantically for my parents' arrival today (!) as Adam can attest to and it did not fit into yesterday's schedule. It's a day late, but that's okay.

Once again, there were two verses that really caught my attention from Psalms 47-51. I decided that I would SOAP them both because I could. Plus, they are related in thought and go well together.

Scripture: "He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God." Psalm 50:23

Observation: Giving thanks to God shows him honor. Acknowledging what God has done allows him to continue to bless us and grow us in our relationship with him.

Application: I need to be sure to acknowledge God's hand in my life so that I do not miss additional blessings from him.

Prayer: Lord, may I not be blind or ignorant to your provision for me. I desire to receive all that you have for me. Please show me the salvation of God. Amen

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Scripture: Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Psalm 51:12

Observation: David wants to fully grasp God's salvation in his life. He wants to be aware of all God has done for him so that it is reflected in what he does/how he lives. He asks for God to help him stay close to God and to live for God.

Application: I don't always feel the "joy of my salvation". I need to remember what God has done for me and live in light of it.

Prayer: Father, remind me of your provision. May I be filled with joy at the remembrance of my redemption. Fill me with your joy and peace that others may see you in me. Amen.