Thursday, March 27, 2008

Spiritual Blessings

I have had cause lately to consider those blessings God has so wonderously gifted His children with. Just a quick reading of Ephesians 1:3-14 yields a plethora of blessings that boggle my mind. Let me review them for you. He has chosen us in Christ, v.4. We did not choose Him, but He chose us. He has adopted us through Jesus Christ, v.5. He has made us accepted in the Beloved, v.6. We have redemption and the forgiveness of sins, v.7. He has given us revelation regarding the mystery of His will that we who believe would be gathered together in Christ, v.9, 10. We have an inheritance, v.11. We also have been sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, v.13.
Now these blessings come to us not through some work of our own. They do not come to us because we have merited them. No! They come to us through the work of God. Note the number of times the phrases in Christ, in the beloved, through Christ, etc. are used. That indicates that the blessing of salvation is entirely the work of God, through Christ. Apart from Him, we have nothing. But in Him we have everything we need for godly living. He has given us every spiritual blessing we need, from being chosen to being sealed; from being selected by God to being secure in Christ. Hence, these blessings come to us entirely through the grace of God. It is not of us at all!
Now there is one other highly visible part to these blessings. They come to us from the hand of God for His glory. Again note the number of times the idea of His glory is presented. We see it in v.6, 7, 12, 14. God acts in such magnificent grace towards us not for our sakes, per se, but for His glory. That others, in other words, would see how God acts towards those who are His and be attracted to worship Him. It is part of His drawing others to Himself dynamic. His act of grace towards us is a witness to unbelievers to draw them to Himself. This is all done according to His own good pleasure, v.5, 9, 11.
God wants you and me to know and understand these spiritual blessings and rejoice in His marvelous grace, to the praise of His glory!
What a maginificent series of thoughts that I am chosen and secure in Him.
Do you see it too?
Take some time this week to think on these truths and rejoice in them.
To the Praise of the Glory of His Grace!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Complaints stop here

‘Got a complaint? Take it to the management!’ That is an old saying, when one is tired of hearing complaints from others. Complaining is an age old problem and one that I have struggled with over the years. So, when I read a recent article from Newsweek magazine entitled "Stop Your Sobbing —Now" ( about a pastor in Kansas City, MO who led his congregation to stop complaining, my eyes opened wide.
It’s true! It seems Will Bowen, a pastor, challenged his people to stop complaining. He gave out purple rubber bracelets that had SPIRIT emblazoned on them, to remind his congregation to replace their negative thoughts with positive ones.
I have recently embarked on my own pilgrimage to put off complaining. I was convicted of my need to clean out my personal complaint file after reading Psalm 34. I even memorized it so that I could have something positive to say when I was tempted to complain. The first verse emphasizes the determination of the Psalmist to "bless the Lord at all times" and to let "His praise continually be in my mouth." Paul reminds us from the dark, dinginess of a prison cell to "rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice." (Phil. 4:4) The ‘all times,’ ‘continually,’ and ‘always’ say it all. There is no time when we ought to cease from praising the Lord and start complaining. Not even when the car breaks down on the highway; or when your check bounces; or when your shed is blown all over the neighborhood during a storm and you are out there in the middle of the night cleaning it up; or when illness or death strikes near to your heart, all of which have happened to me. There is no time for complaining, only praising.
This is not the power of postive thinking of Norman Vincent Peale fame. No! This is the power of Holy Spirit led thinking.
If you and I are going to walk with the Lord we must be filled with the Spirit. Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:18b-20 that "being filled with the Spirit speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God and our Father." That says it all doesn’t it?
The basis for this call on your life and mine to stop complaining is the truth that God is in control of all things in our lives. To complain at some trial of life is to mock God. It calls into question God’s goodness and love and wisdom in letting things happen to you that you do not like. The Israelites complained and God wanted to kill them. He had provided so much for them in getting them out of Egypt and providing for them in the wilderness. They were a mob of ingrates. Complaining reveals our ingratitude toward God despite the fact that He sent His Son to die for us and gave us eternal life. WE HAVE NOTHING TO COMPLAIN ABOUT. Even if God should take away all our possessions or our health, we would still not be just in complaining. In short, complaining is sin against God. Let’s confess it and repent of it and replace it with thanksgiving and praise.
If you have a complaining problem. Why not work on it with me. Rid yourselves of this dark blot in your life. Memorize Phil. 4:4 and Ps. 34:1-3. Whenever you are tempted to complain stop yourself and think about one of those verses and then thank or praise Him for your situation and slay that giant ‘Complaint’ that has so dominated your life. Be free from complaining once and for all.

God Bless

Friday, March 7, 2008

why good beginnings horsemanship

I probably should have explained why a preacher would use the title Good Beginnings Horsemanship as the title of my blog. You see I like horses and have been learning to train horses. I have trained more than a dozen in the last 10 years, but not until the last year did I really come to understand what it is all about. I was reading a Craig Cameron blog, sorry Ken, and came across a comment he made about the importance of a good beginning when working with a young horse. I thought, that's it. That will be the moniker I will use for my training efforts. It says it all, good beginnings. The necessity of starting anything good, or well is imperative if you intend to have a good finish. It is that way with horses, it is that way with people and life in general. When I train a horse I want to have a good beginning with him, gentle, yet firm, consistent, and calm. I hope to be that way in my daily life too.

Chaos in the world

I just opened this blog. My first time. I hope to use this to blog on a number of different issues, from my horse training experiences to thinking about headline news issues from a biblical perspective.
I wrote this aritcle a while back for our local township newsletter because we always ask questions of God and about God when bad things happen to people, especially to people we know or even ourselves.

You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to notice the chaos in the world today. The news headlines in every form of media tell us, in varying detail, of crime, war, and calamity such as the recent tornadoes in the central Midwest. However, this chaos comes closer to home than you might think. The fatalities in recent auto accidents due to the weather or just plain crazy driving, not to mention those that have occurred through crime remind us of the fragility of life. It makes one wonder whether God is awake to all of this and if He has anything to tell us about how to process these fateful events in our minds.
Jesus gives us a remarkable answer. He responded to a similar question from His disciples about the murders of several men by the Roman authorities, to which Jesus also added the 18 souls that perished when a tower under construction fell on them. How does Jesus respond to these deaths?
He simply states, "Except you repent you shall all likewise perish." (Luke 13)
You see it is not a question of "if" or "how" or "when" we will die. Rather it is a question of preparedness. The Bible tells us "it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." We will all die. All of this chaos forewarns us and prompts us to be prepared. No one walks out of their house thinking, "this is my last day on earth." No one should walk out of their house thinking that it won’t be, either. This fact, then begs the question, "Are you prepared?" Jesus said, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." I ask you, "have you repented of your sin and asked Jesus to save you?" According to Jesus own words, this is how you prepare to live life without fear despite the inevitability of your own demise.
Don’t let the chaos or calamities of this life scare you. I leave you with this common saying I have seen on church signs, "No Jesus, no peace. Know Jesus, know peace." Which do you choose?