Friday, July 25, 2003

(Notes I've made to myself about passages from this awesome book of wisdom from God found in the Old Testament section of the Bible.)

Proverbs 7:1-3:
"My child, keep My words with you; keep My commandments and live, keep My teachings as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers, write them on the tablet of your heart."

Through the years, it hasn't been just the confessions of the Church that have taught me that the Bible is more than a book (or more accurately, a library of books). The Bible is God's Word. So often, when I take the time to peruse it and really pay heed to it, I find that it has a word that speaks directly to my circumstances. Sometimes, I like to read it. Sometimes I don't. But always, I sense in its pages that I'm coming in contact with God. On their latest CD, The Beautiful Letdown, Switchfoot has a song called, "On Fire." The chorus says: "I'm on fire when You're near me, I'm on fire when You speak." God commends the Bible to us because it really His Word to us, a love letter to His beloved: us.

"All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work" (Second Timothy 3:16-17).
C.S. Lewis observed his grief and said
How like fear it is

I’m not afraid, but I am aggrieved
By the passing of my life

I grieve the loss of moments wasted
As time passes over me
Like shadows in a time-lapse film
Like ocean waves that violently,
and without malice,
swallow the hapless swimmer swept far from shore.

Redeem the time, the Scriptures scream
Seize this day!
Live and love with passion and holy confidence!
A part of me, deep-entombed, shouts, Amen!
But more often than I want I find
I am unconscious in the garden,
My spirit willing
My flesh asleep
To be awakened.
“One night while baby-sitting, a grandfather passed his granddaughter’s room and overheard her repeating the alphabet in an oddly reverent fashion. ‘What on earth are you up to?’ he asked. ‘I’m saying my prayers,’ explained the little girl. ‘But I can’t think of exactly the right words tonight, so I’m just saying all the letters. God will put them together for me, because He knows what I’m thinking.” (Canfield and Hansen, The Aladdin Factor, p.260)

"Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words." (Romans 8:26)

Thursday, July 24, 2003

[Through the years, my study of this Old Testament book has yielded a gold mine of God's wisdom. Now, if only I would live in the insights provided here...]

Proverbs 6:16-19
This passage lists seven things God hates: (1) haughty eyes; (2) a lying tongue; (3) hands that shed innocent blood; (4) a heart that devises wicked plans; (5) feet that hurry to run to evil; (6) a lying witness who testifies falsely; (7) one who sows discord in a family.

In a sermon series he did several years ago, Pastor Gerald Mann of Riverbend Church in Austin, Texas spoke of how people experience God in their lives. He called these individuals "God-feeling people" and suggested that they experience God by exhibiting the positive attributes which, according to this passage, are the opposite of the seven things God hates.

Mann looked at these attributes through the prism of Hebrew thought. The eyes, for example, were regarded by the ancient Hebrews as the windows of the soul. A person's eyes, it would thought, would demonstrate whether they were arrogant or humble. Humility is an attribute that allows God entry into our hearts and souls. On this score, I'm reminded of the story Jesus once told of the two men who went to the temple in Jerusalem to pray. One was a religious man, proud of his religiosity. He says to God, "I'm so thankful I'm not like other people. I'm thankful that I do the right things and I'm not like other this tax collector over here." The other man praying in the temple was a tax collector, member of a brood who in that time were known as corrupt extortionists. The tax collector's prayer was simple. He said, "Have mercy on me, God; I'm a sinner." Jesus concludes His story by saying that the tax collector left the temple justified--that is, forgiven and right with God; he, not the religious man, had the humility to see himself truly and of his need for God.

Do Mann's exercise yourself: Turn the things that God hates around and see how God is able to make Himself known to you when you seek to live with the sort of honest need of Him that the tax collector exhibited.

Proverbs 6:32:
"But he who commits adultery has no sense; he who does it destroys himself."

I absolutely agree with this. My observation of people who’ve gotten involved and stayed involved with adulterous relationships has been that they’re sort of out of their minds. They are so deluded that they can’t understand the pain they’re causing to their spouses and families and friends and to themselves. I've seen it time and time again.
QUOTE FOR TODAY, with a Bible Passage:
“If a man could have half his wishes, he would double his troubles.” Benjamin Franklin (quoted in Canfield and Hansen, The Aladdin Factor, p.17)

Jesus says, "...strive first for the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6:33)

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

"Of course, being addicted to approval is not the same as having a healthy appreciation for praise. Affirmation and encouagement are good things...What a sad world it would be if artists were never applauded, if home runs were never cheered, if children received no expressions of wonder and amazement at their first steps, if authors received no encouraging notes or (worse yet) no royalties." (John Ortberg in The Life You've Always Wanted, p.164).
Here's an installment from Pastor Glen VanderKloot's OnLine with Faithfrom several weeks ago. It's a good one. If you'd like to receive Glen's daily inspirations, contact him via e-mail at


A Thought for the Day

Are kids influenced by what they see? The movie Finding Nemo has raked
in over $250 million at the box office. It has also been a source of
unexpected income for pet store owners across the country. That's
because children want their own orange and white clown fish which
average about $15 apiece. Since they are salt water fish, the
extras--filtration system, salt mix, water conditioner, etc.--can run a
parent an additional $300.

What do kids see in you and me?

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Bible Verse
1 Peter 5:3:

Set an example for them.

[Contemporary English Version]

Lord, help me to set a positive example for others,
especially children to follow. Amen
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1) I need three persons to act as a liaison committee between our congregation and Thrivent Financial Services for Lutherans. Thrivent, a not-for-profit financial services organization, pours millions of dollars each year into various church and community needs. By having this liaison group in place at Friendship, we gain access to the $1200.00 which Thrivent is making available to every Lutheran congregation every year. Let me know if you'd be willing to serve with this group.

(2) ATTENTION, MEN! You may remember that a few months ago, our friend Carl Hartman was with us, representing the "giving team" for the men's Christ Renews His Parish retreat at Lutheran Church of the Resurrection. Carl extended an invitation to Friendship men to receive this fun and spiritually-recharging weekend. Carl phoned me on Monday to say that (a) The men's weekend has been changed to November 8-9, 2003, and Friendship men are still invited and (b) Any Friendship men who have previously attended a Christ Renews His Parish retreat weekend are invited to become members of the giving team for the November weekend. If you'd be interested, let me know. Having been on several giving teams myself, I can tell you that it's a great experience!

(3) The special congregational meeting happens immediately following this coming Sunday's worship celebration. We have three agenda items: (a) Passage of a new constitution; (b) Passage of the new bylaws; (c) Election of a new church council. The reason for the new constitution and bylaws, as you know, is to (a) streamline our decision-making process; (b) spread ownership for ministry to more members of the congregation, depending on task forces, committees, and committed volunteers; (c) provide for the proper oversight of property now that we have our own building; (d) provide for the proper oversight of our outreach efforts. The meeting should only take a few minutes. Please plan on attending.

(4) Congratulations to Kelsey McHenry. Today, he successfully completed requirements for a special "God and Me" commendation with the Cub Scouts. Tell Kelsey that you're proud of him when you see him on Sunday!

(5) Keep praying about where in the world God might want to send us on a mission trip in about eighteen months; ask God if you should go, too (several folks have indicated a desire to go); and ask God to provide us with the financial resources to do it. There's a world that needs the love of Jesus and He sends us to share it!

Monday, July 21, 2003

Children of preschool age through the fifth grade are invited to participate in Friendship Church's vacation Bible school, SCUBA, Super Cool Undersea Bible Adventure!

It happens August 4 through August 8, from 7:00 to 9:00 P.M. in Friendship's brand new building at 1300 White Oak Road.

Through a variety of fun learning experiences, children will learn to believe in God, obey God, trust in God, love God, and share God's love.

There is no registration fee for students coming to SCUBA at Friendship. The people of Friendship believe that the love of God, given to the world through Jesus Christ, is a free gift. SCUBA is therefore being offered to the community as a gift. However, parents wishing to make a contribution to help offset the congregation's expenses and to help enable the congregation to offer still more such opportunities to the community, they may do so.

To register your child for SCUBA, call the Friendship Church office at 752-5265 or you can e-mail the church at
[These are thoughts that have crossed my mind as I've read from this fantastic Old Testament book through the years.]

Proverbs 5:8:
[advice to a young man regarding the sexual advances of a woman of loose morals] "Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house."

This reflects advice--implied and overt--which fills the Scriptures: the best way to deal with temptation is to run from it. Fast!

It's what Joseph did when the wife of his slavemaster was insistent in trying to entice him into the sack. Although having been turned down by Joseph, she was able to convince her husband that she had been a victim of rape and thereby have Joseph imprisoned, Joseph never regretted doing things God's way. It was simply inconceivable to him that he would violate God's will or the sanctity of his master's marriage. Joseph ran away from temptation and so, even during long years of unjust imprisonment, enjoyed God's favor.

The New Testament says: "No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing He will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it" (First Corinthians 10:13).

To the person who is seeking to follow Jesus Christ, God sends definite signals--a thought, a remembered passage of Scripture, a friend's words, the fortuitous ringing of a telephone--that will help them to avoid temptations that could drag them down into the swamp of sin. We can ignore those signals and the more often we ignore them, the weaker our connection with God becomes. But God is willing to help us to run from what's wrong in order to run to a life filled with life, joy, peace, and fulfillment.

When we have run away from living God's way, we still have a fantastic promise. The New Testament book of First John says: "...if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world" (First John 2:1-2).

Proverbs 6:6:
"Go to the ant, you lazybones; consider its ways, and be wise."

This is an awesome passage, one of my favorites. God wants us to be productive.

To each of us, God gives talents, abilities, and passions. From this raw material, he wants us to develop our lives and our habits and be the very best versions of ourselves that we can be.

Often, people learn that we become acceptable to God not because of anything we do, but because of what God has done for us through Jesus Christ and they think that means that we can simply sit back and put our lives on cruise control.

In fact, being freed from worrying about death frees the follower of Christ to really get on with the business of living--using the potential that God gives to every one of us and being all we were made by God to be. (I readily admit that I usually fail to fulfill my own personal potential, something I regularly come back to God to be forgiven for and helped with in overcoming.)

Work then, when done to love God and love neighbor and do something useful, isn't punishment, or drudgery, or something to be endured. It's a sacred privilege. Even when our work is done in such a spirit, there will be times of tedium and even of boredom. But God will revive our flagging spirits when we remember who we are and why we do the work we do.

An awesome passage of the New Testament says: "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God--not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what He has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life" (Ephesians 2:8-10).
"The best argument for Christianity is Christians; their joy, their certainty, their completeness. But the strongest argument against Christianity is also Christians--when they are sombre and joyless, when they are self-righteous and smug..., when they are narrow and repressive, then Christianity dies a thousand deaths." (Sheldon Vanauken, quoted in the Joe Aldrich book, Life-Style Evangelism, p.21)
Here's today's e-mailed inspiration from Pastor Glen VanderKloot and the people of Faith Lutheran Church of Springfield, Illinois. (To be added to the list of recipients of OnLine with Faith, contact Glen at


A Thought for the Day

Faith is not believing in my own unshakable belief.
Faith is believing an unshakable God when everything
in me trembles and quakes.
~ Beth Moore ~

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Bible Verse
Hebrews 11:1
Faith makes us sure of what we hope for and
gives us proof of what we cannot see.

Contemporary English Version

Lord, fill me with faith. Amen
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Sunday, July 20, 2003

After today's worship celebration at Friendship Church during which I shared my challenge and hope that within the next eighteen months, a group of our members would undertake a mission trip to some spiritually or economically impoverished place, I had many interesting conversations.

One person told me, "Wherever we go, my bags are already packed. I want to go."

Another told me that just last Sunday, while visiting her mother's church in another state, she attended a presentation made by a group there who had just returned from a mission trip to Jamaica.

Another member said that a friend of his had just returned from such a trip to a reservation in South Dakota.

There seems to be a lot of excitement about the possibility of our sharing the love of Christ in this way...and that excites me as the pastor of this great congregation.

As the people of Friendship continue to be in prayer and conversation about this exciting possibility, I ask that friends of our congregation who read this web log join us in praying. I also urge you to consider "getting into the game" yourselves, looking into doing such a mission trip too!

God wants to use us to love this wonderful world into relationship with Jesus Christ! Nothing we can do in life is more important, exciting, or fun!