The Cadence of His Voice

cadenceSome people misinterpret the 10 Commandments and the principles of the New Testament as rigid walls erected by God to deny them access to the pleasures of life.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Whenever God says, “Thou shalt not,” it’s to keep you from stubbing your toe or skinning a knee.  Every time He say, “Thou shalt,” He’s inviting you to skip with joy and whistle a tune of happiness.

When you hear the cadence of His voice and walk in step with Him, you discover that He is your strength and shield.

Blessed be the Lord, because He has heard the voice of my supplications! The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; therefore, my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him (Psalm 28:7).

What Am I Missing?

life-of-faithWhen I hear a puzzling story or a comment about someone or some event, I wonder about the specifics of the situation and ask:

  • What happened?
  • What are the facts?
  • What details am I missing?

The mention of the name Demas stokes the fire of my curiosity.  Of the three passages that refer to Demas, two are positive and one is negative:

  • Philemon 23-25: “Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”
  • Colossians 4:14: “Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas.”
  • 2 Timothy 4:10: “Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.”

What happened to Demas?  How could he go from being a co-laborer with the Apostle Paul to being classified as a Christian who went AWOL?  Had his Christian experience been a mere dalliance with no true alliance to Christ?

Was Demas like the sunshine soldier that Thomas Paine spoke of when he addressed the difficult times in which he lived?

 “These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country.” 

Contrary to what many people believe, living a life of faith is not for the frail of heart.  Paul suggests that it takes guts, courage and backbone:

  • I Timothy 6:11-12: Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith.
  • 2 Timothy 2:3 “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”
  • I Corinthians 9:24-25: “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.”
  • Hebrews 12:1-2: “we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.”

Demas dismissed the principled and dedicated life that Paul modeled, but a man named Jim Elliot embraced it.  Sixty years ago, Elliot was martyred on the mission fields of Ecuador. A daily practice of his was to write in his journal, and his notes give a glimpse of his dedication to Christ:

  • “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
  • “Rest in this: it is His business to lead, command, impel, send, call or whatever you want to call it. It is your business to obey, follow, move, respond, or what have you.”
  • “God, I pray Thee, light these idle sticks of my life that I may burn for Thee. Consume my life, my God, for it is Thine. I seek not a long life but a full one like You, Lord Jesus.”

When you consider your life and the faith factor, what do you see.  Is your Christian walk little more than a dalliance of dedication, or does it reflect a true alliance with Jesus Christ?

Fashionista or Functionalist

home-juradoNo one has ever accused me of being a fashionista.  I’ve always preferred blue jeans over a three-piece suit; and, instead of wearing patent leather wingtips, I’d rather wear tennis shoes or boots.

This is why you might find it surprising that I took some interest in a fashion slide show: What People Were Wearing the Year You Were Born is geared more to women than it is to me, and it gives a visual history of what has been in style for the last 100 years.

While I do have my Sunday-go-to-meeting-clothes, I also have different sets of clothing that I wear depending on the occasion.  Instead of being a fashionista, I guess I’m a functionalist.  I don’t wear my Muck boots to church, but they’re sure handy when the snow is a foot deep and the temperatures are sub-zero.

When I read the bible, I think Paul was also a functionalist.  Instead of being worried about the fashion and style of his day, he instructed his cohorts to dress for the occasion:

In conclusion be strong—not in yourselves but in the Lord, in the power of his boundless resource. Put on God’s complete armor so that you can successfully resist all the devil’s methods of attack. For our fight is not against any physical enemy: it is against organizations and powers that are spiritual. We are up against the unseen power that controls this dark world, and spiritual agents from the very headquarters of evil. Therefore you must wear the whole armor of God that you may be able to resist evil in its day of power, and that even when you have fought to a standstill you may still stand your ground. Take your stand then with truth as your belt, righteousness your breastplate, the Gospel of peace firmly on your feet, salvation as your helmet and in your hand the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Above all be sure you take faith as your shield, for it can quench every burning missile the enemy hurls at you. Pray at all times with every kind of spiritual prayer, keeping alert and persistent as you pray (Ephesians 6 ~JB Phillips).

When he wrote to the Colossians, Paul spoke of functional clothing for the Christian life:

Put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;  bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do (Colossians 3:12-13).

Before you leave your house today, you might want to look into the mirror to see if your clothing is fitting for your agenda:

The man who simply hears and does nothing about it is like a man catching the reflection of his own face in a mirror. He sees himself, it is true, but he goes on with whatever he was doing without the slightest recollection of what sort of person he saw in the mirror. But the man who looks into the perfect mirror of God’s law, the law of liberty (or freedom), and makes a habit of so doing, is not the man who sees and forgets. He puts that law into practice and he wins true happiness (James 1:22-25 ~JB Phillips)

Wisdom: Guidelines and Lifelines For Life

life-preserverI have never thought of myself as one of the smartest people in the world, and my GPA from high school is the evidence that proves it.  This may be why the book of James is a favorite of mine.

Like the book of Proverbs, James provides guidelines for life; and, for those of us who lack wisdom, it extends an invitation: “Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him (James 1:5).”

Later in the book, James lists seven characteristics of wisdom: “The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, accommodating, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and not hypocritical (3:17).”

I find it interesting that when Solomon spoke of wisdom he also listed seven and referred to them as the Seven Pillars of Wisdom: “Wisdom has built her house; she has carved out its seven pillars (9:1).” Solomon’s list is found in Proverbs 8:12-14:

  • Prudence
  • Knowledge
  • Fear of the Lord
  • Counsel
  • Sound Wisdom
  • Understanding
  • Strength

The Message describes these seven attributes:

“I am Lady Wisdom, and I live next to Sanity; Knowledge and Discretion live just down the street. The Fear-of-God means hating Evil, whose ways I hate with a passion—pride and arrogance and crooked talk. Good counsel and common sense are my characteristics; I am both Insight and the Virtue to live it out. With my help, leaders rule, and lawmakers legislate fairly; With my help, governors govern, along with all in legitimate authority. I love those who love me; those who look for me find me.”

Wisdom has been defined as the right use of knowledge, and, in the biblical sense, it’s the ability to judge correctly and to take the best course of action, based on your knowledge and understanding of God’s principles.

This concept of wisdom is in complete harmony with Solomon’s conclusion to Proverbs 8:

“Blessed are those who keep my ways. Listen to my instruction so that you may be wise, and do not neglect it. Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching at my doors day by day, waiting beside my doorway. For the one who finds me finds life and receives favor from the Lord. But the one who does not find me brings harm to himself; all who hate me love death (32-36).”

I’ll close with three thoughts, and I hope there enough to keep you thinking:

  • Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who obtains understanding. ~Proverbs 3:13
  • An intelligent man believes only half of what he hears, a wise man knows which half.
  • Knowledge is knowing the difference between a donut and a life preserver. Wisdom is knowing which one to grab when you are drowning.