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September 2

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2020

Straight from Chuck Swindoll:

Shortly before her death, Corrie ten Boom attended our church in California. Following the service, I met briefly with her. She inquired about my young children and detected my deep love for each one. Very tenderly, while cupping her small, wrinkled hands in front of me, she passed on a statement of advice I’ll never forget. I can still recall that strong Dutch accent: “Pastor Svindahl, you must learn to hold everyting loosely…everyting. Even your dear family. Why? Because da Fater may vish to take vun of tem back to Himself, und ven He does, it vill hurt you He must pry your fingers loose.” And then, having tightened her hands together while saying all that, she slowly opened them and smiled so kindly as she added, “Vemember…hold everyting loosely…everyting!”   (From Good Morning, Lord… Can We Talk?)

I’m going to go on record as saying that sometimes-even though I know better-I hold things too tightly. It’s not as bad as it used to be but even at my age, I still want to hold on, to grip tightly.

Consider, for a moment, what we sometimes hold onto too tightly:

  • Our spouse. ‘Course I’m not speaking of hugging or being affectionate. You know that.  But sometimes we are too possessive (i.e. too controlling). In death it is hard to let go.
  • Our children. Many parents want to hold onto their children and not let go. Sadly, there will be times letting go is not pleasant (think Prodigal Son) but we raise them to free them.
  • Our way of life. Rough times tend to reveal the grip we have on the way of life we have come to expect or even take for granted.
  • Our stuff. Oh yeah, it is tough to let stuff go, either by necessity or desire.
  • Our health. We try everything to hold on to the fountain of youth. There’s nothing wrong with taking care of ourselves but vanity is an ugly master.

One thing we should grip tightly? Our faith in the ONE who loves us. And that’s another story for another time.

“Father, be my all. Help me to not sacrifice my relationship with You by holding too tightly to other things.”

August 18

Tuesday, August 18th, 2020

As I write this devotion, I hesitate. I have, in the past, said I would not write on politics. But, even though I can say this is not political, there would be some who would take it that way. Such is the state of our world. But this truly is not meant to be a political statement.

There are always catch-words or catch-phrases people use. Some catch on but others go by the wayside after a time. One that is big right now (2020) is the term “social justice.” It has been spurred on by the different social events that have happened, and while it may sound innocent on the surface, those two words have become the rationale for all kinds of lawlessness and other actions. It has also become the litmus test for many in the church.

Right up front I will say social justice-the desire for equality according to the law (my definition)- is good. There is one factor which must never be forgotten. Social justice, especially when it involves right/wrong or evil, must never, never (did I say never?) usurp the gospel of Jesus Christ. Churches, and even pastors, who push aside the gospel of Jesus for the social justice banner have stopped being gospel churches and gospel pastors. If they are not going to preach the gospel of Jesus as the cure to this world’s ills, and if they are going to spend their time protesting and breeding hatred, they need to step down from their pulpits, get rid of the “pastor” or “Reverend” in front of their name and be what they really are-a social justice warrior. Speaking of which, don’t call Jesus a Social Justice Warrior. I don’t see Him marching in protest; burning buildings; hating cops; throwing molotov cocktails; looting. screaming and inciting riots; or any other type of inflamed rhetoric.

I repeat: Social justice should never, never, never take the place of preaching the Gospel message.

“Father, Your Word changes lives.  Our world doesn’t know that. Many people in pulpits don’t know that. And it stand to reason many in the pews/chairs don’t. Help me to always preach the gospel.”

*Note: I have more to say but kept it to this length to be more readable. Stay tuned for more tomorrow.

July 31

Friday, July 31st, 2020

As I write this, our country is on fire. Well, let me rephrase that: many of our major cities are on fire. Portland. Seattle. New York. Chicago. Others. I’ll not get into what political party the mayor of those cities is from. Or the governors. I want to take us to California where the governor has issued a mandate that no church can meet. Nada. In spite of masks, social distancing, etc.  The governor deems church non-essential.

However, there are some defying that order. One, Grace Community Church (GCC), is the home of Pastor John MacArthur and over 3000 souls. Last week, they respectfully submitted a letter to their people and also to the government officials why they were meeting, in spite of the mandate. It came down as Christ, not Caesar, is the Head of the Church. I agree with their decision. There is a concerted move in this country to stop, stifle and stymie churches from meeting, to push them aside. In Nevada, for example, casinos can open but churches can’t? So the elders of GCC made a bold statement: “Governor Newsom, you will not stop us from meeting.” I suspect in the days to come they will not be alone.  I saw an interview with Pastor John where he told how he preached to an empty auditorium for the first few weeks of the pandemic and then each week more and more folks came back until there were over 3000 there last week-no masks, hugging and shaking hands with each other.

This kind of civil disobedience is nothing new. Today I read in Acts 5 where Peter and John did just that. Told not to speak they did. Ordered not to speak they were at Solomon’s Porch (the part of the Temple that surrounded the Court of the Gentiles) speaking boldly. They were arrested and the religious leaders said, “We strictly charged you not to preach…” Strictly commanded. Did you catch those two words? Peter and John’s words? “We must obey God rather than men.” They were basically telling them, “You can tell us to shut up but we take our orders from a higher authority.”

Decently. Orderly. Respectfully. Their allegiance to God was plain to see. Just like GCC and others I am sure are soon to follow. Disrespect. Disorderly conduct. Out-of-control speech and actions. Those are not godly actions. Hmmm. Sound familiar?

“Father, it is far more important to listen to and be faithful to You. But help it to be done decently, orderly, and respectfully. There is no call for the opposite.”

July 21

Tuesday, July 21st, 2020

I have begun another adventure. No, I’m not doing the Race Across America (a bike ride from coast to coast). And no, I’m not leaving the church to take on a new ministry.  And definitely no I’m not going mountain climbing. As good as all those sound (to a younger guy).

Mine is a reading/studying venture. As I finished One Perfect Life by John MacArthur, I knew I had just read the complete (recorded) life of Jesus. I so thoroughly enjoyed that I decided to continue that task by reading One Faithful Life (OFL) by Pastor John on the life and ministry of the Apostle Paul.  Chuck Swindoll wrote: “A primary purpose of the Word of God is to help us know the will of God.” (July 21 devotion in Good Morning, Lord…Can we Talk?).  With that thought in mind, why did Paul write his epistles? OFL does a great job of summarizing why. I’ll shrink it some more.

  • I Cor- defend against various corruptions which were under the guise of human wisdom and carnal chaos.
  • 2 Cor- defending his authority as an apostle and the purity of the gospel.
  • Gal- against false teachers who taught we must adhere to OT ceremonial law.
  • Eph- salvation is entirely God’s work with no human merit.
  • Phil- joy undiminished by “dogs,” “mutilators of the flesh” refuted in Galatians.
  • Col- defense vs high-falootin’ philosophy and man’s traditions.
  • 1 & 2 Thess- commendation to the church for embracing the Gospel.
  • 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus- careful safeguard the truth
  • Philemon- exemplify the spirit of Christ.

“Gospel truth permeates everything Paul ever wrote.” (OPL- p. xix) I look forward to this new venture.  New eye-opening.  New awareness. New “eyes” to see God’s truth.  And I plan to share some of it along the way.

“Father,  open my eyes to Your Word. Give me fresh eyes as I read to see new vistas before me. Clarify Your truth in my heart.”

April 30

Thursday, April 30th, 2020

Stuff! So much stuff! When we had to move my sister-in-law from the duplex she lived in (inherited it from us in 2005 when we moved here) to a long-term facility, it was up to us to clean out her place. I’m not sure I had ever seen so much stuff as I had then.  She could be classified as a hoarder to a large extent.  But it made me think about me and Jo. When we got married while in college, we had nothing, except the clothes on our back (and a few others). When we moved to our first ministry we took very little in the smallest U-Haul possible. Our first apartment was sparsely filled. Then Tami came along and you know what that means. Each move brought a bigger moving truck. Stuff!!

One of the good things about the current situation brought on by the pandemic is that it is causing us to pause. Do I really need this? Should I buy this? Should I hold off for a bit? People keep saying that “God has taken away all we hold dear in this pandemic.” Sports? Suspended or cancelled. Work? Unemployed or cut back drastically. Entertainment? Quarantined away. Eating out? Delivery or take out only. I don’t know God’s motives or methods but it sure has had us take pause to consider the fragility of things.  I keep thinking of Jesus’ words: “Why worry about what you will eat or what you will drink?…No man can serve two masters…” (Matthew 6:25-33)

Stuff? It’s gone in a matter of seconds. It can’t be taken with us. Ultimately, it will burn up in the fire that will consume everything. Some things are essential like a chair when you’ve given yours away to your daughter who is having to start all over. (We are not Japanese either). Or a weed-eater when the other one bites the dust. Rather than buy, I’m thinking Purge! Now or later it’s outa here! It is much better to give away than to keep buying and receiving.

“Father, help me to make wise choices. Help me to discern what is extra and what is essential…in things and in life.”

April 28

Tuesday, April 28th, 2020

Don’t you sometimes wish you could get into a DeLorean and travel back through time? I’m guessing if you are like me you would do or say somethings differently. I would tell myself, for example, don’t pick up that magazine as an 10 year old. I would tell myself to be frugal and save your money.  I would tell myself to be less conscious of what a car looks like and run it into the ground. I would tell myself not to spend on frivolous things (bike stuff excluded) 🙂  and prepare for the future.  I would tell myself…

I think we would all like to be able to do that.  But we can’t. I think many of us have the “Someday” mentality. You know what that is. “Someday I’ll do this.”  Or “Someday when things are different.”  There are as many scenarios for “someday” as your mind can think. No one expected this virus and the upheaval it has caused. Don’t you wish you could go back several months and warn your younger self it was coming and to be prepared?

“Someday” has a it-may-happen-and-when-it-does-things-will-be-different kind of vibe. But not always does our future turn out as we envisioned. “Someday” may turn out to be the fulfillment of our dreams or it may turn out to be the dashing of our dreams/plans on the rocks of reality. But no matter what our “Someday” turns out to look like, we are promised it will turn out for our good and God’s advancement.

“Father, I don’t know what ‘Someday’ may bring. I just need to cling to You-good, bad, or ugly- knowing You are the One constant. May my ‘Someday’ be ‘Your Day.’ “

September 25

Wednesday, September 25th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Running From vs Running To.

Sometime in the early ’90s we got a dog.  Samson, as I named him, was a drop off. A friend of a friend showed him to the friend who then showed him to my girls and that was all she wrote. But it was soon apparent Samson was my dog. He was part Malamute/part Shepherd and he was squirmy.  He was too big for Janna; Tami dropped him on his head when he squirmed out of her arms; and Jo couldn’t control him. I could. I walked him. Fed him. Played with him.  He knew my car sound as I turned the corner into our cul-de-sac.

We had a side yard with a fence. Only once did Samson get out. We were shingling the roof when someone left the gate open. I saw him take off and foolishly got off the roof to chase after him. Instead of running to me, he ran away. He was only a couple of months old and I was fearful for him. But I should have let him come back to me. My frustration level got greater the longer I went after him. I finally turned around and went back home.  He soon returned.

How much like Samson the human race is. We have safety, security, and all we need at home. But something bites us and we want to check out “the other side.” So we get out of our safety net and roam. Pursue. Chase a rabbit trail of unfulfillment.  God pursues us bidding us to come to Him. To come home. Ultimately, the decision is ours as to whether to continue pursuing the empty life or run to the One who gives life.

Samson came home eventually. I gave him a few swats across the flank then hugged him. He never ran again. We can run from God to a life filled with danger and missteps or run to Him where He may discipline us but then hugs us with arms of love. Run from Him to a life filled with hurt or run to Him and a life filled with love. Which will it be?

“Father, Peter once said, ‘Where else can we go? You have the words of eternal life.’ Help me to always remember that. Help me not to pursue the empty life but to pursue your life.”

July 17

Wednesday, July 17th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Being Asleep vs Being Awake.

As an exercise person, I know one of the essentials to effective exercise is recovery. Allowing the muscles time to recuperate is critical to being on top of my game the next ride. (Since I cycle that is my go-to thought). Did you know one of the most critical elements to recovery is not a protein drink or eating right afterwards or stretching, although they are all important, but something we do naturally? It is something we do and have done since the day we were born. S-L-E-E-P. That’s right. Sleep. Proper rest. Being an effective athlete and thinking sleeping 3-4 hours a night is enough is not going to cut it.

As a follower of Christ, sleep is important. Exhaustion is one of the enemies of clear-headed, sharp thinking. There is no virtue in being bleary-eyed and unable to function. No one can go for long periods of time with sleep deprivation.

EXCEPT GOD. In fact, He needs none. How about I just let the Scripture state the truth: “I life up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” [Psalm 121:1-4]

He neither sleeps nor slumbers. Just as important: He never gets tired either. I need sleep. I get tired (even more and quicker as I get older). But I have the assurance that as I rest, God is alert and never sleeps. That gives the promise of safe and restful sleep since He does all the “worrying” for me.

“Father, thank you for the assurance of You staying awake and being alert while I sleep. Please give me the rest I need to continue fighting the battle for you.”

June 3

Monday, June 3rd, 2019

First, today is Tami’s 44th birthday. Yeah Tami! And yes, I gave her age. 🙂

Second, I’m posting this because I’m not sure about my week. I gave the details at my other blog and you can read them there.  I plan to keep my daily Quiet Time. I’m just not sure about availability of internet as well as my time to post. I’ll do my best.

Thanks for coming by and reading Living in the Shadow. It means a lot to me.

May 3

Friday, May 3rd, 2019

My title for this devotion is Reactive vs Proactive Faith.

Psalm 56:3-4,11 says “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid…in God I trust: I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (ESV)

Those verses are telling me something worth seeing. There is a Reactive Faith and there is a Proactive Faith. Let me put it this way:

When I am afraid -> I will trust.

I will trust -> and not be afraid.

That’s not saying it is bad to trust when afraid. No. That’s a good thing to run to the Father. But the Proactive says, “I will trust and not be afraid.” It is much different to face life trusting God than to wait until something comes and then trust.

I read the familiar passage of Proverbs 3:5-6 this morning. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make straight your paths.” (ESV) See that first word? T-R-U-S-T.

Personally, I don’t think it is bad to be afraid and then throw your trust onto the Lord and lean on Him. How much better, though, to have your trust in Him and not be afraid when things hit (and they will)?

“Father, let me have a Proactive Faith-one that trust you ahead of difficulty- rather than a Reactive Faith-one that trusts you after/during the storm. In either case let my faith be real and tangible when it is tested.”