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Archive for March, 2009

Here’s a word I just wrote to my students this morning:

Hey guys,

I know this is a stressful time for so many of us, but does God have a say in this that we’re going through? Does He have a plan when things get so “crazy” (just using a word you guys love to use; haha)?

Well, of course, you know the answer, but as we all know, there is a difference between knowing something and doing something, right (James 1:22-25)?

This has been a “crazy,” insane week for me (in a good way, really!) and it’s only going to get more intense. I was up at 4:15 this morning grading papers (groan)!

But I also made sure not to compromise my time with the Lord; the “crazier” things are for me, the more time I need to spend with Him, especially to get His strength.

So, “check this out”: For my OT studying, I’m reading through Exodus and Isaiah and this morning I picked up where I left off yesterday (Is. 40):

28Do you not know? Have you not heard?
         The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth
         Does not become weary or tired
         His understanding is inscrutable.
    29He gives strength to the weary,
         And to him who lacks might He increases power.
    30Though youths grow weary and tired,
         And vigorous young men stumble badly,
    31Yet those who wait for the LORD
         Will gain new strength;
         They will mount up with wings like eagles,
         They will run and not get tired,
         They will walk and not become weary.

So, notice v.31: God says to us, “They will” three times in one verse! Is He serious about His promise? But it’s a conditional promise, isn’t it? Our part is to “wait” for Him (v.31a). This Hebrew word means to wait or look for eagerly, with expectation; to look for patiently.

Now, the only way I know how to do this is to get into His presence, refuse any distractions and thank Him for what His Word says, claim it and wait on Him. “Dude,” will you please join me in learning to flow in our Lord’s rythm of grace — rather than our own?

I’m not perfect in waiting on God, but I have been practicing this for a few decades now and truly, it is sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet!

May God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord mulitply grace, peace and joy to you,

Pastor Brad

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Good morning, fellow bondservants (one who completely and absolutely assigns all personal rights over to the will and authority of Another, in an attitude of total submission: New American Standard Bible translation) of Christ Jesus,

What does it really look like to walk in holiness? Have you thought about that lately?

To me, there are two kinds of approaches to holiness: the rigid approach (“I don’t do that because I’m a Christian!”) and the warm approach: (“my Lord has done everything for me, so I want to please Him — whatever it takes — and any sacrifice of sin or of the pleasures of this world that would take me away from Him and bring reproach to His name is worth it”).

Of course, it is the spirit with which we say these things that matters. In the first example, I’m hearing the person make the declaration with an air of self-righteousness; in the second, with an attitude of humility — recognizing how fallible we really are — and with a grateful heart, spoken out of love.

I was thinking of this verse last night: “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17). Can you see the connection between the three? To live a righteous life (which is walking in holiness) has as its foundation peace and joy!

Put it this way, from the One we follow and adore: “But of the Son He says…”You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness” (Heb. 1:8-9, italics mine).

I have always viewed living in holiness in the healthiest way: it brings freedom; it inspires others; it keeps me whole and most of all, it glorifies our incredible Triune God!

Pastor Brad

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“Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we obey His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight” (1 John 3:21-22).

I was just reading this in my quiet time in 1 John and sensed the need to write you on this. Note John’s pastoral heart (and in back of that, God’s heart) for his recipients: “Beloved” (v.21). That comes from the Greek word agape, which means unconditional love — that’s how God loves us (do we love Him unconditionally?).

Second, the word “confidence” (v.21) can also be translated “openness,” or “assurance.” Thus, we come with the greatest sense of security to a Father who loves us unconditionally and beckons us to be open and confident before Him! Wow! Wherelse can we go in life and have this kind of a solid relationship — with the God who created all that exists?

Third, the Greek word translated “before” (v.21) comes from the word “pros,” which has the meaning of intimate communion. Now watch this: it is the same word translated “with” in John 1:1 to reveal to us the kind of intimacy God the Son had with God the Father! That surely calls for another “wow!”

You see, this is liberating; it is meant to enable you and me to enjoy the Lord in prayer and not to see prayer as drudgery, obligatory or simply as a means to get what we want. Prayer is relationship, communion with God, fellowship with Him — time with Him! Saints of God, after nearly 30 years of learning to pray, I’m telling you that nothing else compares with this!

Fourth, note the widespread, general promise with the word “whatever”! Of course, the “whatever” is qualified by v.21 and the condition “if our heart does not condemn us,” along with the cautionary words in v.22: “because we obey His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.”

I’ve found that for the most part, obeying God is not difficult — if I make the choice to be in His presence. Sure, there are times when I slip and there are times when I rebel against Him outright. But those are the exceptions and not the rule in my life because I have His Word abiding in me (v.24).

Moreover, John tells us in his very next chapter (5:3) that keeping God’s commandments “are not burdensome.”

Fifth and finally, note the words “we ask” in v.22: they’re in the present tense, denoting an ongoing asking. Sometimes we ask and receive immediately and sometimes God tests our perseverance to allow us to see how badly we really want what we ask of Him, or He waits and calls us to persevere to make sure the request really is something that is in His will.

Is it not abundantly clear now that prayer is with our Father — a Father who is not distant but rather quite intimate? And is it not clear now from our passage that it is He who desires to give us confidence in our prayer life with Him by giving us what we ask? And what shall be the result of this all, but a more thriving relationship with Him?

Nothing is more satisfying

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Good morning!

Remember, when the biblical writers refer to God’s “hand,” they’re referring to His protection, blessing and intimacy: Consider Isaiah 49:14-16:

14 But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me,
       the Lord has forgotten me.”

 15 “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
       and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
       Though she may forget,
       I will not forget you!

 16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
       your walls are ever before me.

May our Lord’s grace, peace and joy be multiplied to you today,

Pastor Brad

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God’s Hand

I have wanted to teach a message or preach a sermon for so long on what the Bible teaches about the hand of God; there is so much in Scripture — especially in Psalms and Isaiah — about His “hand.”

For example, I was reading Ps. 139 in my quiet time this morning and when I finished I thought, “I think I’ll just blog about this and put it down.” So, that’s what I’m going to do! Note Ps. 139:1-6 and keep in mind what the biblical writers had in mind when they referred to God’s “hand”: It signifies His protection, blessing and intimacy!

Psalm 139
God’s Omnipresence and Omniscience.
For the choir director. A Psalm of David.
1 O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
3 You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O LORD, You know it all.
5 You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.

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