Like Little Children

Original blog April 29, 2018. Oh to have that fresh perspective once again, before life made us cynics.

The Brew Is A Musing

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Matthew 18:2-4He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (NIV 1984)

1 Corinthians 13:11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. (NIV 1984)

My Musings – There is a world of difference between becoming like a little child (humble, innocent, trusting), and being childish (petty, pouty, immature).  We should certainly grow-up to the “full-measure” while retaining (or is it regaining) our humility, innocence and ability to trust God fully – keeping a bit of the child in the heart or the…

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The Sound of the Trumpet

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Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”  (1 Corinthians 15:58, NIV 1984).

My Musings – What is the therefore there for?

I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  (1 Corinthians 15:50–57, NIV 1987).

In the mere “twinkling of an eye” the perishable (“flesh and blood“) will become imperishable (“the mortal with immortality“).  Changed.  Death (“we will not all sleep“) will lose its sting.  Our corruptible flesh, subject to decay and “food for the worms,” will become an incorruptible glorified body.  There will be no more death.  No more tears.  No more wars.  “Swallowed up in victory” through the death (and resurrection) of “our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, let nothing move you.”  Since death has lost its sting, what else could possibly move us?  “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38–39, NIV 1984).

My Advice – We labor vainly for so many things in this life.  But our labor for the Lord, for the life to come, is not in vain.  “Stand firm!

What Good Is Your Faith?

Original blog April 29, 2019. No better time to do what is right good and decent than in days like these. On second thought, there should not be a better or best time. It should be all the time.

The Brew Is A Musing

James 2:14, 17What good is it my brothers if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?…faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by actions is dead. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – Good actions or good deeds cannot result in salvation. But salvation, which is by grace, should produce good actions and good deeds.

My Advice – Do your best to make your faith alive by doing what is right, good and decent.

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Crowned With Splendor!

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Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life.”  (Proverbs 16:31, NIV 1984).

My Musings – At nearly 65 years of age I am blessed to still have my mother, who turns 86 today.  Still in good health and quite spry (still mows her yard and snowblows her drive) for her age. She indeed wears her gray hair as a crown of splendor and I have no memories where she was not a good Christian mom.  Happy birthday mom!  Thanks for raising my brothers and me to love the Lord.  I love you very much.

My Advice – Love your parents while you still can.  Pass along that heritage to your children if you have any.  Be a super aunt, uncle or neighbor if you don’t.

What Might Have Been Is Possible Again

Original blog April 27, 2019. There is a lot of speculation as to what might have been, but that will not change what is. Rather we should put our focus and our energy on what we can do now for what may be.

The Brew Is A Musing

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Genesis 1:1, 31In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. (NIV 1978)

“Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been.” – John Greenleaf Whittier

“Some men see things as they are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not.” –  Robert Kennedy

“But what would have been the good?” Aslan said nothing. “You mean,” said Lucy rather faintly, “that it would have turned out all right – somehow? But how? Please, Aslan! Am I not to know?” “To know what would have happened, child?” said Aslan. “No. Nobody is ever told that.” “Oh dear,” said Lucy. “But anyone can find out what will happen,” said Aslan. “If you go back to the others now, and wake them up; and tell…

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What’s Troubling You?

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God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?”  (Numbers 23:19, NIV 1984).

My Musings – We are used to people breaking promises, lying and changing their minds.  Untrustworthy, unreliable and fickle. For those who are agnostic or unacquainted with the Scriptures, they might expect the same from God.  But God is not a man, nor is He like a man.  When He speaks, He will act.  When He promises, He will fulfill.  Here’s one:

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”  (John 14:1–3, NIV 1984).

There are many things we could be troubled about.  But this is not one of them.

My Advice – Have you placed your trust in Christ?  If you have, then you have this promise.  If you have not placed your trust in Christ, the promise can still be yours if you do.  Read my blog series “The Born Again Experience” to find out how.

Valuing Inreach

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Guest blog from February 5, 2020, by Nate Miller, Pastor of Worship & Youth, First Baptist Church – Sycamore.

https://www.fbcsycamore.com/

Why Inreach? … Our high school group is getting ready for the much-anticipated winter retreat this weekend. The middle schoolers are still talking about everything that happened at their Blizzard retreat last month. So why do we go on these weekend getaways that cost money, take time to get to and pack the equivalent of four church services into a weekend?

“Why was it so vital that Jesus take the 12 away and not invite everyone? Even worse, why did He only give special invites to Peter, James and John for incredible encounters like the transfiguration?

Studying the life of Christ one starts to wonder if He would last as a pastor with some of his decisions. He did things that many churches would call into question. Specifically I’m referring to the habit he had of leaving the crowd behind to connect with a smaller group. Why was it so vital that He take the 12 away and not invite everyone? Even worse, why did He only give special invites to Peter, James and John for incredible encounters like the transfiguration? Obviously it would have been better if the whole 12 or 72 had been there, right? Apparently not. Remember that Jesus also wasn’t playing favorites, as James and John learned after their request for VIP seating in Mark 10:35-45.

Because we value our students as co-laborers in ministry we need to be intentional about building into them. The inreach-focused retreats that Jesus modeled as part of His disciple making process give us that opportunity. We do require that students actually come to youth group to be eligible to go on the retreat. Normally exclusivity is something youth leaders try to make sure is never associated with their group. We are looking to reach the lost, and as a result, much of our activity is focused towards outreach. Retreats are directed at taking the committed “12” away from our normal routine to pour into them and give openings for God to speak to us away from all the distractions.

Balance is key. A truly outreaching church is one that is being built up through intentional inreach. Lukewarm is a good term for a group that only looks inward and fails to reach out. We are striving not to entertain, but to meet people where they’re at whether they are walking with God or are brand new to church. There are many needs to be met and questions to be answered, and that takes a well rounded ministry. Our desire is to make disciples who are growing in Christ, active in the church and seeking to bring the gospel to everyone they meet. Sunday night I’m going to be extremely tired, but I pray it will be worth it, and I hope you’ll be joining with us in prayer as well.