Whatever is Worthy

My heart overflows with a good theme; I address my verses to the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer. ~ Psalm 45:1

We’re All So Restless — June 1, 2021

We’re All So Restless

I recently read an article titled 22 Life Lessons I Learned from my Mentors that Every Person Should Know. I was curious to see what lessons I had already learned and could learn. Most of the life lessons mentioned were practical and relatable enough to stop and make me think. For example, lesson 1. “I like to work because that keeps me young.” I have not reached retirement age yet, but I would like to think that even when I do reach that time, I will continue working in one form or another. I do not want to be idle. Life lesson number 4. caught my attention as well, “If people want to go. Let them. And wish them well.”, well, simply because at my age I’ve already experienced the revolving door of friendships and acquaintances. I have learned (life lesson) that I cannot force people to be in my life, nor should I – they come and go – and all are in my life for a season and purpose. As I continued down the list, I even came across some that I’ve said myself at some point (i.e., 12. “Not everyone thinks the same way you do.” and 15. “Everything comes to an end.”).

However, the one that truly caught my attention was number 20. “Resting is more important than working.” The description that followed, in particular, “The art of resting is a difficult thing to learn. We’re all so restless. We want things to happen today, now, this very instant. Let it go. Just breathe for a second. Rest.” I agree, resting is so difficult to learn. Two songs that came to mind when I read the description were Jesus, I am Resting Resting by Steve Green and Rest in You by All Sons and Daughters.

Saint Augustine said it best in his opening paragraph of The Confessions “…for thou hast made us for thyself and restless is our heart until it comes to rest in thee.” Rest is truly hard to do. The article states “We’re all so restless.” There is much truth in that statement. And though, I understand the author is referring to physical rest and the importance of it, I find that the human condition is one of restlessness in spirit. This has an eternal impact that must not be overlooked.

Jesus Christ invites us into eternal rest with Him. Once accepted, His invitation penetrates the restlessness of our hearts as we, with the help of the Holy Spirit, understand that we cannot save ourselves. This understanding comes with the realization that we are spiritually bankrupt and in need of God. The poor in spirit seeking rest will find that rest in the great Master, the One who is gentle and humble in heart, Jesus Christ.

Oh restless, weary, and troubled soul, with all the cares and preoccupation of the world, have you found rest in Jesus?

28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” ~ Matthew 11:28-30

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!

Refrain:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Check out a modern rendition of the hymn Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.

Private Eyes Watching You — February 11, 2021

Private Eyes Watching You

It’s important to remember that God is the all-seeing, all-knowing, ever-present God. We cannot hide from His presence nor withhold anything from Him. How naïve to think that there’s ever a moment when there’s no one watching us. How sad to think that if we knew that there was a camera in the same room we were in, we would shrink in shame at the thought of ever doing something that would expose our sinfulness. I doubt that, if there was any awareness that a camera was in the very room we were in, many of us would think twice before watching that filth-filled program, be engulfed in the inappropriate website we stumbled upon, gaze continuously at the picture on Instagram, engage in self-gratification, have an indecent conversation on the phone, or proceed to have any sinful sexual relation. Why? Because we would shrink in shame. We dare not display those behaviors openly. That kind of conduct is best when we know we’re alone and not susceptible to the judgments of others. Yet we forget one thing. God sees. God is like the camera that has the 24-hour surveillance on us – at all times. Where can we hide from His presence?

28 Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. 29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him. ~ 1 John 2:28-29

Reflection: Tic for Tac — March 11, 2020
Reflection: Tic for Tac — March 10, 2020

Reflection: Tic for Tac

IMG_6171

I was scrolling through Instagram and saw that an acquaintance had posted this picture. I immediately thought of a friend and what she’s gone through with her significant other. She recently shared how after being hurt she has changed her attitude towards him. She is more distant and guarded, yet is still with him. I thought about my own experiences and how I have been tempted and, at times, yielded to the tic for tac behavior. I took a screenshot of the picture with the intention to share it with my friend. I also wanted to tap on the picture so badly, knowing that in my flesh I agreed with it wholeheartedly. Yet I hesitated. Why? In my hesitation, I remembered that God’s word says differently. While the world encourages people to be vengeful, spiteful, and retaliate for wrongs suffered, my God says “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone” (Romans 12:17). The Holy Spirit, through the Apostle Paul commands Christians at the end of that section “Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). There are many other verses in the Bible that speak about not taking things into your own hands. Passages that state even “turning the other cheek” and “praying for your persecutors” (Matt. 5:38 – 48). The way of the Lord Jesus is much different from the way of the world. I am encouraged and reminded that my Lord, as I seek to be like Him “… suffered for you [me], leaving you [me] an example for you [me] to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:21-23).

What a beautiful reminder that our God is a just and righteous judge. In whatever followers of Christ go through, whoever harms or hurts them, no matter what, the Lord is by their side. He has provided resources to utilize wisely, like the legal authorities, elders in the church, and other means for our protection, etc. But let us never forget that He is the ultimate judge and every person will come before Him to give an account for their deeds. May we come before Him with a clear conscience, assured of the truth found in Romans 12:19 “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.”

Change — February 29, 2020

Change

You’re changed when you no longer desire the things you once did.

Your appetite has changed. Like when you hated olives, pickles, or

anything sour all your life and now you give it a try and find out that

it’s not so bad after all.

Your mind is not the same. You have a relationship with Jesus Christ,

when you genuinely believe in His death, burial and resurrection, and you live a life bearing fruit in keeping with repentance.

When you believe in His atonement.

Do you believe?

Do you have a different relationship with sin?

Is sin now grotesque to you?

Have you come to hate it?

Have you come to hate with the sin that you lamentably fall into?

What are your new desires?

Wanna pray, read the bible, congregate, go to church, hear His word, draw nearer to HIm?

What evidence is there that you’ve been changed?

Where’s the fruit?

Where?

Happy Reformation Day! — October 31, 2017

Happy Reformation Day!

If only my brethren would inform themselves (those that have not already done so) and read the beautifully rich history of our faith and the saints that came before us. When God’s word says that we are surrounded by “a great cloud of witnesses,” oh boy, we truly are.

I encourage you to take some time and read up on some of the men and women that came before us and lived holy, crucified lives for the Lord and to His glory.

Next time you sing a hymn, try reading about the author and find out what were the circumstances in their lives that brought them to compose the hymn. For example, the beloved hymn “It is well with my soul” was written by a brother named, Horatio Spafford. He penned the hymn after the tragic loss of his wife and four daughters in a ship wreck. One asks, how can anyone write during a time of great mourning words like, “When peace like a river attendeth my way” or “Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, let this blest assurance control that Christ has regarded my helpless estate…” and maintain that “It is well with my soul?” Only God’s peace that surpasses all understanding can give you blessed assurance in the midst of turmoil and chaos.

This example is not even the tip of the iceberg. Read about Fanny Crosby, the hymnist who wrote some of the most popular hymns we sing today – like, “Blessed Assurance (Jesus is mine). Crosby became blind as an infant because of the malpractice of a doctor. Her story is really inspiring. A part that touched me was when she was asked if she ever felt resentment about being blind in which she responded “When I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior!” Oh how encouraging are those words! A woman blinded all her life; never knowing what she even looked like, but looking forward to beholding the face of her great Savior, Jesus Christ. His will be the first face she sees in glory. Amazing!

So yes, brethren, you have a rich family history. Check them out. You’ll definitely be edified.

 REFORMATION
Lesson from The Pilgrim’s Progress – Restore your brother in a spirit of gentleness — May 26, 2017

Lesson from The Pilgrim’s Progress – Restore your brother in a spirit of gentleness

John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress is my favorite book of all time. Bunyan movingly describes the journey that all must take when they place their faith in Christ. The allegory begins with a man named Christian, carrying “[a] great burden on is back,” trying to escape the City of Destruction. He “opens [and reads] a Book…, [weeps] and tremble[s]…” for the Book reveals his sins. Christian meets a man named Evangelist, who upon seeing that Christian is in despair and lamenting his condition, points him to the Wicket Gate, which will ultimately lead to the Celestial City (Heaven itself!). Evangelist directs Christian to keep the Shinning Light in his eye and go directly toward it; as the Wicket Gate is there. As Christian plunges into this course; his wife, children and neighbors, Obstinate and Pliable, attempt to persuade him to return. To which Christian “put[s] his fingers in his ears, and [runs] on crying, Life! Life! Eternal Life!” And so the journey begins.

Eventually, Pliable tags along with Christian on the way to the Wicket Gate and is content, even curious with the pilgrim life, until they reach what is the Slough of Despond, an area/time of deep depression. Once there they find themselves drowning in quicksand, with Christian drowning far more rapidly than Pliable since he has the great burden on his back.  Disillusioned that the road to the Celestial City is met with difficulty, Pliable vows to return to his hometown if he’s able to escape the Slough. He is successful in freeing himself and, as promised, hastily returns back to the City of Destruction; leaving Christian alone to drown in the miry Slough. That is, until a man named Help pulls Christian out and redirects him on the path to the Wicket Gate.

As Christian is making his way, he encounters a man named Mr. Worldly Wiseman and the two soon become acquainted. During their discourse, Mr. Worldly Wiseman mocks Evangelist’s counsel to Christian and persuades him to pay Mr. Legality a visit so that Mr. Legality can help Christian get rid of his burden. Christian listens and soon finds himself out of the narrow way that leads to the Wicket Gate, still carrying the great burden on his back, and afraid to venture further. And so we read:

Here therefore he sweat and did quake for fear. And now he began to be sorry that he had taken Mr. Worldly Wiseman’s counsel; and with that he saw Evangelist coming to meet him; at the sight also of whom he began to blush for shame. So Evangelist drew nearer and nearer; and coming up to him, he looked upon him with a severe and dreadful countenance, and thus began to reason with Christian.

Evan.  What doest thou here, Christian? said he: At which words, Christian knew not what to answer; wherefore at present he stood speechless before him….

Evan.  Did not I direct thee the Way to the little Wicket Gate?

Chr.  Yes, dear Sir, said Christian.

Evan. How is it then that thou art so quickly turned aside? For thou art now out of the way.

Chr. I met with a gentleman so soon as I had got over the Slough of Despond, who persuaded me, that I might, in the village before me, find a man that could take off my Burden.

And so Evangelist and Christian continue their exchange. Christian recounts Mr. Worldly Wiseman’s deceptive tale; to which Evangelist rebukes Christian and admonishes him to stay on the narrow path, shows Christian his sin, and compares it to what the word of God says.

Then (said Evangelist) stand still a little, that I may shew thee the words of God. So he [Christian] stood trembling….

Then Christian fell down at his foot as dead, crying. Wo is me, for I am undone! At the sight of which, Evangelist caught him by the right hand, saying, All manner of sin and blasphemies shall be forgiven unto men; be not faithless, but believing: Then did Christian again a little revive, and stood up trembling, as at first, before Evangelist….

Chr.  Sir, what think you? Is there hopes? May I now go back, and go up to the Wicket Gate? Shall I not be abandoned for this, and sent back from thence ashamed? I am very sorry I have harkened to this man’s counsel; but may my sin be forgiven?

Evan.  Then said Evangelist to him, thy sin is very great, for by it thou hast committed two evils; thou hast forsaken the Way that is good, to tread in forbidden paths; yet will the man at the Gate receive thee, for he has good will for men; only, said he, take heed that thou turn not aside again, lest thou perish from the Way, when his wrath is kindled but a little.

Then did Christian address himself to go back; and Evangelist, after he had kissed him, gave him one smile, and bid him God speed; so he [Christian] went on with haste, neither spake he to any man by the way; nor if any asked him, would he vouchsafe them an answer….So in process of time Christian got up to the Gate.

Ladies, we see in this excerpt that early in his walk Christian encounters Obstinate, which the Bible describes people like him as scoffers (Proverbs 21:24). Along with Obstinate came Pliable, who the Bible paints as a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways (James 1:8). Next Christian unfortunately meets with and heeds to the counsel of Mr. Worldly Wiseman, who in Romans 1:22 is found to be someone who professes to be wise, but is indeed a fool (1 Corinthians 1:18-22). And finally he was directed to Mr. Legality’s house, who is a Pharisee as he holds to a form of Godliness and seeks to keep people bound to the law (Matthew 23:1-7).

In contrast, notice the way Evangelist sternly rebukes his brother for his sins, speaks the truth in love, gently encourages him to repent, and urges him to entrust himself to the Lord. Dare we remember God’s warning in Galatians 6: 1-3:

Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

In a world full of people like Obstinate, Pliable, Mr. Worldly Wiseman, and Mr. Legality, may we be like Evangelist; restoring our brethren in a spirit of gentleness.

Better is open rebuke
Than love that is concealed.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.
A sated man loathes honey,
But to a famished man any bitter thing is sweet. ~ Proverbs 27:5-7

Thoughts on using your time wisely… — March 5, 2016

Thoughts on using your time wisely…

I recently read an article on Desiring God entitled Hillary, Bernie, Donald, and Me. It was amazingly encouraging to me because John Piper describes how at the age of 70 and beyond all these candidates still have goals of doing something exceptional in their lives, which includes the “hardest job in the world!” How cool is that! Piper goes on to list many people who have accomplished amazing things and set out goals to do great things beyond the age of 70.

Piper does a fantastic job in reminding believers that retirement is not mandated in the Bible. It certainly was not a part of the lives and plans of Moses, Paul and other important biblical characters. He draws the point that for the Christian, “our retirement is in heaven.”

I tell you, when I was done reading the article, I was so pumped, so encouraged, so motivated to do incredible things for the Lord Jesus. He deserves that His people be sold-out for His cause. Oh that the Lord would raise up a people that are zealous for Him! That He would help us to live lives that glorify Him in all things, at all times. He is amazing. He is incredible! May God help us to redeem our time that we may do things for His glory.

15 Therefore [j]be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16 [k]making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. ~ Ephesians 5:15-17

Future Thoughts —

Future Thoughts

My daughter’s been thinking a lot lately about what to do for college, where to go, how she will pay. She’s been dwelling on all things pertaining to her education future. She wants to make sure that she is covered financially. She is aiming to get a good score on the SAT and looking to CLEP some courses in order to save money and to get a scholarship, if possible. Of course I’m dragged into this futuristic craze with her. I’m the target of many questions (which I love to answer) and I now even find myself spending quite a good amount of time researching. This is our second year homeschooling so I have lots of questions, too. I’m trying to find ways to get her into college and get her some scholarships as well.

The other day while doing my usual research – looking for CLEP materials, the local college requirement for Dual Enrollment and the like – I started thinking about an elderly lady from my church. Let’s call her Nena. She has four sons, one which happens to be my pastor. She is a sweet lady and super affectionate.

I thought, “Wow, Nena raised very successful boys.” See, all of Nena’s boys are professionals of some sort: two doctors, one lawyer and a pastor. As a mother, what a great accomplishment to have your children become professionals in different fields. However, as a Christian, Nena’s has been much more successful because all four of her boys are saved. That’s amazing and God gets all the glory for that!

In the eyes of the world, Nena did a great job raising boys that took their education seriously and wound up pursing professional degrees. But even more so, Nena is successful in the Almighty’s eyes for having been obedient to the Lord in diligently teaching them His word. She could very well have raised them all to be the President of the United States, and that would have been a great feat, but being the President that fears the Lord and belongs to Him, now that’s incredible indeed.

For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?  Mark 8:36

Grown-ups and the Essential Matters — July 24, 2015

Grown-ups and the Essential Matters

Grown-ups are like that…Grown-ups love figures. When you tell them that you have made a new friend, they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you, “What does his voice sound like? What game does he love best? Does he collect butterflies?

Instead, they demand: “How old is he? How many brothers has he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make? Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him.

– The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery

He’s right! Grown-ups are like that. We place much worth on things we find expensive, of value. The higher the number, the shinier and prettier it is in our eyes. Why are we like that? Why do we “look at the outer appearance?” 1 Sam 16:7

Even second-hand stores prove this point. “Really? How?” you say. Well take a good look at, say, Goodwill, for instance. They have their racks for regular clothes and a special section just for ‘designer apparel.’ Even the description changes. Doesn’t ‘designer apparel’ appeal more to your senses than regular clothes?

I have witnessed a person go for a plain-looking designer top, obviously not being the person’s style, just because it bore a brand name label. Usually you can purchase a very similar top at a small boutique in the mall for a fraction of the price. But because it’s nicer to have the name [insert favorite logo here] roll off your tongue, then thrift store, it’s suddenly more glamorous and more appealing. It’s sad really. Yet this is the type of culture we live in, especially in the United States. This culture is not much different from the one in Jesus’ time. And He warned us that we should:

…“Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.”

We value possessions. We give places of honor to those whose job/professional title is added to their birth name. We watch different shows on television, even the commercials, or the magazines at the check-out counter and secretly wish we had some more.

In The Little Prince, this smart young man implies the futility of working, working and working all your life to obtain many useless things. He goes on to say:

I know a planet where there is a certain red-faced gentleman. He has never smelled a flower. He has never looked at a star. He has never loved anyone. He has never done anything in his life but add up figures. And all day he says over and over, just like you: ‘I am busy with matters of consequence!’ And that makes him swell up with pride.

Bingo! That’s exactly what that is. Our infatuation with figures, with materials, with the things of this world is connected with our pride. Instead of our hearts being inclined to the heavenly things, to things that matter, it is tied to the things of this world. These things will soon perish and only the truly valuable things will remain. Solomon, the wisest man in the world ended the book of Ecclesiastes like this:

The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.

That’s it folks. That’s the way we ought to govern our lives – fearing God Almighty and keeping His commandments. The commandments include loving Him with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength. It includes loving our neighbors as ourselves. It includes being filled with the Holy Spirit. It includes being Christ-like so that He will get the glory out of our lives. May we be diligent to endeavor in that regard. I leave you with this comforting verse:

Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith! 29 And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. 30 For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. 31 But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. 32 Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.

33 Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. ~ Luke 12: 27-34 [Emphasis added]

To what does your heart incline? Where can it be found?

Easter lilies grow on the Palmer Westbrook, Inc., Easter lily farm in the small town of Smith River, California.  Smith River is known as the Easter lily capital of the world. Farmers in  the costal area between California and Oregon grows nearly all of the Easter Lily bulbs sold in America.(Credit Image: © Robin Loznak)