Pop Pop Epistle # 153 – Where I Was 40 & 30 Years Ago Today

 

Dear Grandkids,

So a few weeks ago I posted where I was 50 years ago on that day. Today I’ll briefly tell you where I was 40 years ago today and 30 years ago today.

40 Years Ago Today – I got married. To my first wife. To my only wife. You know her as Nona. I have blogged about this day before HERE and HERE  and HERE, but here are a few things that I have not told you about that day.

  • We were married at Sedge Garden Methodist Church in Kernersville, NC – where Nona had gone to church as a little girl.
  • The ceremony was at 2 pm. We then had a reception in Winston-Salem at Pinebrook Country Club.
  • We flew to Atlanta that evening for our honeymoon night before we flew to Bermuda on Sunday.
  • I don’t remember the name of the pastor who declared us married – we didn’t really know him well (but as the pastor of the church he had to be involved) but one of my best friends did much of the ceremony – Jimmy Carr. He was a seminary student at the time and I knew he and his wife Vicki from my home town, Aiken SC. I had also live with them in Gloucester, MA during my first year of seminary at Gordon-Conwell.
  • One of the songs that we had sung at our wedding was called This Is The Day by Scott Wesley Brown. It was a perfect song for a perfect day.
  • It was a beautiful, sunny, awesome day as we were surrounded by friends and family.

30 Years Ago Today – Nona and I have always made it a point to get away by ourselves every year. This was especially true when your parents were still little. We knew that we needed the time away to invest in our marriage so that we could be properly fueled to invest in them. For our 10th anniversary we spent a few days on the island of St Thomas. Christy was 5, Scott was almost 4, and Tucker was 3 weeks shy of 1 year old.

One of my favorite memories from that trip was the meal we enjoyed 30 years ago tonight. It was at a seaside restaurant called The Chart House. The Chart House is a chain of steak restaurants that we have frequented whenever we could because it has special memories for us. The first one that we went to was in August of 1979 in the French Quarter in New Orleans. We had just met in June in Galveston Texas on a Campus Crusade for Christ beach project. When the project was over, Nona drove with me to New Orleans where I went to school at Tulane University. We spent 18 hours together in The Big Easy together before she flew home to North Carolina. It was soon after our Chart House meal that we kissed for the first time in Jackson Square. So any meal at the Chart House brings back that awesome memory.

40 years sounds like a long time to be married. But I promise that 40 years goes by very fast. As you grow up and as you get married take the time to create lots of memories that you can relive again and again.

We are going to do just that today and tomorrow. Perhaps next year I’ll be blogging about the memories we created on our 40th anniversary. Ask me about it sometime.

And never forget that you  are very loved,

Pop Pop

Pop Pop Epistle # 152 – Happy Birthday Keller and About LEGO Bricks

 

Happy Birthday Keller and welcome to the world of five!

Since you have become such a fan of LEGO over the last year I thought that I would enthrall you with a few LEGO facts that you probably don’t know. For instance, did you know that…

  • The plural of LEGO is LEGO. It doesn’t matter if you have one or one hundred pieces of LEGO, it’s still LEGO – although many people call them LEGOs (which I started to do in my opening sentence)
  • The tallest LEGO tower was 94 feet high and used 465,000 bricks. The tower was a pirate ship mast with a “treasure” made of gold, yellow and clear bricks on top and was built at LEGOLAND in California.
  • If you laid all of the LEGO bricks just sold last year end-to-end, they would stretch around the world more than 18 times, which equals about 448,000 miles.
  • You could reach the moon with a column of around 40 billion LEGO bricks. There are actually enough LEGO bricks to stack from the Earth to the moon – ten times… which is about 2.4 million miles.
  • In 2000, LEGO was named “Toy of the Century” by the British Association of Toy Retailers. LEGO beat both the common teddy bear and the Barbie doll.
  • There are about 20 billion LEGO bricks created each year. That’s a lot of LEGO.

LEGO bricks are really just building blocks. If you put a bunch of them together in an organized way then you can build some spectacular creations.

And speaking of spectacular creations – that is exactly what God has created you to be!

God also uses building blocks that not only provide a solid foundation for your life but also when combined together help create God’s “workmanship” in our lives. Here are seven of the building blocks that He often uses:

  • The Reading and Pondering of Scripture – If you want the Lord to work in your life this is probably the most important thing that you can do. Once you learn to read the Bible will be the best book that you will ever read.
  • Regularly Worshiping with Other Believers – Experiencing worship and the preaching of the Word of God with others doing the same thing really really important. In other words, stay in church.
  • A Small Group Connection – Having a small group of people where you can study the Word together, pray for one another, serve with one another, and care for one another is a vital building block.
  • Obedience – Doing what God’s Word says is integral to the building process. Disobedience will tear down what obedience builds up. For you, a key part of this while you are young is obeying and respecting your parents.
  • Loving God/Loving Others – Cultivating a love for God and people is imperative. But this does not come easily because by nature we are all selfish people.
  • Choosing Your Friends Wisely – As you grow up, “the voices you listen to will influence the choices you make.” Make sure you surround yourself with friends that help you make God-honoring choices.
  • Living Missionally – You are probably not even aware yet of how God has gifted you to serve His purposes. But be on the lookout for how the Lord specifically wants to use you to make a difference in this world as you invest in the lives of people.

Five years old is an awesome age to be. May your 6th year be filled with remarkable memories as you continue to grow up. And may the Lord use you  as the big brother in your family to Audrey and Haddon to set the kind of example for them that will draw them closer to Him.

Never forget that you  are very loved,

Pop Pop

 

 

Pop Pop Epistle # 151 – Welcome to the World Judah

 

Dear Grandkids,

#9 has been added to the clan. Judah was born yesterday. We can now officially field a cousin’s baseball team. Here are the deets:

Name: Judah Reyner
Parents: Tucker and Danielle Reyner
Siblings: Asher and Ezra
Born: July 23, 2021 @ 2:17 PM
Specs: 9 lbs, 3 oz., 21 ¼ inches

Just for a historical frame of reference, here are some of the things that are going on in our world as Judah makes his appearance:

  • The Coronavirus still abounds worldwide. Over 4 million people have died worldwide and over 600k in the US since it began. In the US we are currently dealing predominantly with the Delta variant.
  • The 2021 Summer Olympics kicked off in Japan yesterday… with no spectators due to Covid. Weird!
  • Joe Biden is President of the US. Kamala Harris is Vice-President (first woman VP)
  • The DOW is at 35,061. The S&P 500 is at 4,411.
  • Forest fires are ravaging the western part of our country
  • The New York Mets sit precariously in first place in their division

And here is my birthday prayer for Judah – grandson #6, grandchild #9…

Father,

Your Word says in 2 Peter 3:18,  But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 

I pray that Judah will very early in His life begin to understand the concept of grace. May he recognize how amazing your grace is – that you would give the life of Your Son so that Judah might have Life as You created him to enjoy it. And may you fill him with your abundant grace – grace that overflows in him and through him so that he becomes an instrument of grace and a testimony of Your grace to others. And may you also fuel him with Your sufficient grace so that Your power is made perfect in his weakness and so that when life is hard and this world seems unbearable that he will lean on You knowing the incredible promise that You will be with him every step of the journey.

I pray also that Judah will grow in the knowledge of Jesus. But not merely a knowledge where he just knows a lot about Jesus but rather a knowledge that reflects knowing Jesus. A knowledge like Paul talks about in Philippians 3:8-11,  “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—  that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,  that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”

And would you also use Judah’s mom and dad and sisters to create an home where he feels securely loved all the days of his life. May he be used mightily, as his name suggests (Judah means “praise”), to bring praise and honor and glory to You all the days of his life. Amen.

Never forget that you all are very loved,

Pop Pop

 

 

Brick #99 – 2 Peter 3

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Think eschatologically!

That is how I would summarize 2 Peter 3. What does that phrase mean?

Eschatology is the study of the end times. So “think eschatologically” means to think with the end of times in mind.

As Peter writes it has only been about 30 years since the resurrection of Jesus and His accompanying promise that He would return again. For the first century believers it seems like it has been forever. Peter writes to remind them of several things…

1) “That scoffers WILL come in the last days” (verse 3) – There will always be those who will scoff about our faith. Whether it is regarding the timing of Jesus’ return or something else. Scoffers will scoff. Here is a short list of things that scoffers scoff about in our day:

  • How can you possibly believe a book that is as old fashioned and outdated as the Bible?
  • How could a God that is so loving send people to a place like Hell?
  • Don’t you think it is pretty narrow-minded to suggest that there is only one way to Heaven?
  • Christians are so hypocritical!
  • Christianity is just a crutch for weak people.
  • If God is so good why is there so much suffering in the world?
  • In the Old Testament God sure comes across as a moral monster.
  • Science proves evolution and dispels the theory of creation. Why don’t you believe the science?

Scoffers will scoff. But as believers we can prepare ourselves for the scoffing and as Peter said in his first letter, “Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” (1 Peter 3:15)

2) “The day of the Lord will come like a thief…” (verse 10) – Jesus is coming back! From God’s perspective 2000+ years seems more like 2 days (v.8). And He is patiently waiting because He does not want ANY to perish but for ALL to come to repentance. Is there anything that we can do to “hasten the coming of the day of God.” (v. 12) You betcha! Matthew 24:14 ays this, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

3) We should “be diligent to be found by Him without spot or blemish, and at peace” (verse 14) – We should live with the anticipation that Jesus could return TODAY. And if He did would He find us ready? Would He find us yearning for His return? Would our first thought be when we see Him ” I’m so glad you’re back” or would it be “I’m not ready can you come back later?”

4) “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” (verse 18) – As we wait and as we anticipate we should make it our goal to draw closer to Jesus. So the question I have to ask myself is this: What am I doing to make sure that I keep growing in my relationship with God?

May this brick help you to THINK ESCHATOLOGICALLY! 

Brick #98 – 2 Peter 2

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In chapter 2, Peter goes to great lengths to point out the danger of false prophets who have infiltrated believing communities of faith. What was true then is also true now. In fact, in verse 1 Peter said, “there will always be false teachers among you.” So in pondering this chapter I want to do 3 things: 1) Point out some of the characteristics of false teachers, 2) Mention some of the prevalent false teachings that have infiltrated the church of the 21st century, and 3) Share a few thoughts on how to recognize the red flags that often indicate false teaching.

Characteristics of False Teachers

  • “Secretly bring in destructive heresies”(v. 1) – False teaching is subtly slipped into orthodox teaching so that it sounds like it is true even though it is not.
  • “Follow their sensuality” (v.2, 14) – It is not uncommon for sinful sexual lifestyles to come to light in the lives of false teachers.  Not only does this call their teaching into question but as Peter says the way of truth is blasphemed along the way.
  • “In their greed they will exploit you with false words” (v. 3, 14, 15) – This seems to be a common theme among false teachers. They have learned how to use their silver tongues to accumulate silver for themselves. Often lots of it.
  • “They do not tremble as they blaspheme…” (v. 10) – You generally do not see a posture of humility present in false teachers. They are not intent on bringing glory to God as much as they are in bringing glory to themselves.
  • “They entice unsteady souls.” (v. 14) – False teachers take advantage of people. They tickle itching  ears, make people feel good about themselves, and then use them for their selfish purposes – often by coercing them to send money.
  • “They are waterless springs” (v.17) – They offer refreshment but for people’s souls but instead deliver emptiness and deadly teaching.
  • “They promise freedom but they themselves are slaves of corruption”  (v. 19) – False teachers make promises that they can’t keep because they themselves are enslaved to sin.

Prevalent False Teachings of Our Day

Universalism – Hell is not real and even if it was God is too good to send anyone there. All people go to heaven no matter what you believe.

Legalism – It was around in Jesus’ day and it is still around today. It essentially says that if you do certain things and don’t do certain things then you can be right with God. For example, real Christians don’t have tatoos. Real Christians don’t drink alcohol. Real Christians don’t smoke. Real Christians don’t dance. Real Christians only read the King James Bible.

Prosperity Gospel – The prosperity gospel tries to use God to get a believer what he wants – health and wealth and prosperity. It claims that “health and wealth” are the automatic divine right of all Bible-believing Christians and may be procreated by faith as part of the package of salvation, since the Atonement of Christ includes not just the removal of sin, but also the removal of sickness and poverty.

“Just follow your heart” – We hear this a lot these days – the only problem is that the heart is “desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9) and will lead you places that you do not want to be.

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism – Probably the false teaching most prevalent among  our younger people these days. The five core beliefs of MTD are as follows: 1) A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth. 2) God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions. 3) The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself. 4) God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem. 5) Good people go to heaven when they die.

Recognizing False Teaching

1) Get SO familiar with the Truth that when you hear NOT TRUTH you easily recognize it. This means becoming a student of the Word of God. As has been said, to spot a counterfeit, study the real thing. Any believer who makes a careful study of the Bible can identify false doctrine.

2) Ask discerning questions – What does the teacher say about Jesus? Does he preach the gospel? Does he minimize Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross? Does he talk about repentance? Does he focus on the love of God and rarely if ever make mention of the wrath of God and Hell?

3) Does the teacher’s character and lifestyle demonstrate humility and servanthood? Is there a constant asking for money? Does his lifestyle indicate a hunger for money or a hunger for God?

Again, as Peter reminds us, there will always be false teachers among us. But that doesn’t mean we have to be susceptible. Learn to discern!

May this brick help you to know the difference between false teaching and the soul nourishing Word of God.

Pop Pop Epistle # 150 – Where I was 50 Years Ago Today

 

Dear Grandkids,

I’m at the point in my life where I can’t remember where I was last week and yet I have a very distinct memory of where I was 50 years ago today.

A little more than a year ago I did a post entitled I Miss Baseball. A part of the post talked about this but I wanted to go into a little more detail about that day.

July 13, 1971.

I had just turned 13 years old and was getting ready to go into the 8th grade at Kennedy Junior High in Aiken, SC. Richard Nixon was president. The United States was still fighting the Vietnam War. We were still sending Apollo missions to the moon. My folks were divorced and my dad would still be alive for another 4 months. I had not yet started attending church. I knew next to nothing about Jesus and His work on the cross. And my most favorite thing to do was to play baseball.

I have two converging memories about that day –  1) My Uncle Bob and 2) The Major League Baseball All Star Game

1) My Uncle Bob – Unfortunately you will never have the opportunity to meet him. He died over 20 years ago at the very young age of 63. (I say that to you as a very young 63 year old man). You may or may not have met his kids Dafna and Jason. They are my first cousins. My Uncle Bob (Talbert) was a larger than life kind of guy. He was a syndicated columnist for the Detroit Free Press back in the day when there was such a thing known as newspapers. He did a human interest column for 31 years about whatever struck him and he was hugely popular. He was also a huge baseball fan. Specifically a huge Detroit Tigers baseball fan. Tim Kiska said this about him as a columnist…

Talbert had an uncanny way of tapping into the city’s zeitgeist, with a great feel for what people might be interested in. And, of course, he was just outrageous enough that his arrival at a restaurant would get people talking. Nobody could figure out if Talbert’s weirdness — odd clothes, making sure everybody knew he was in the room — was for real, or something pasted on as a publicity-seeking proposition.

Talbert … wasn’t a Detroiter. But Talbert, always conscious of his status as an outsider, worked overtime at being a local. His omnipresent display of Detroit Tigers stuff was part of the package, as were his southernisms, which played well in a town with southern roots.

To give you an idea of his esteemed status with his beloved Tigers he was greatly honored in 2000, the year following his death. The old Tiger Stadium had given way to Comerica Park. The year that it opened (2000) they began a tradition that still continues. They fly a flag for every home game for a year with the initials of someone who loved and was beloved by the Detroit Tigers. In 2000, they flew the initials BT next to the American flag. His initial flag was the first one to fly in Comerica  Park.

 

He had taken me to several games over the years when we had visited from South Carolina and when Detroit hosted the 1971 All Star Game he had tickets and he invited me to join him. It is one of my greatest memories as a boy.

2) The All Star Game – Now first of all you need to understand that in 1971 the baseball All Star Game was a national event. It was looked forward to by fans and players alike and it was a great honor to get selected. It is much different these days. These days the All Star Game is sort of an afterthought. The Home Run Derby is the main attraction and if a player is selected he may or may not play depending on how he feels. That would have been unthought of in 1971.

The ’71  game was perhaps the greatest All Star Game ever played… for many reasons.

  • The American League had not won an ASG since 1962 and they would not win again until 1983. During that 20 year stretch, 1971 was the only year that the American League came away with a W.
  • There were 22 future Hall of Famers on the National and America League rosters. Twenty-Two!
  • The final score was 6-4. All ten runs were scored on home runs. And all the home runs were hit by future hall of famers: Johnny Bench, Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Harmon Killebrew, Reggie Jackson, and Frank Robinson. That is quite a lineup of home run heroes.
  • The home run that Reggie Jackson hit is one of the most iconic All Star home runs ever. It was a 520′ blast that hit one of the light standards on the roof of the stadium. It was epically jaw dropping.
  • It was the last ASG that Roberto Clemente played in. He was selected in 1972 but did not play due to injury and then was killed in a plane crash on December 31 of that year.
  • Frank Robinson became the first player in All-Star Game history to hit home runs for both leagues over the course of his career.

One of my most prized pieces of memorabilia is the ticket stub I have from that game. Note the cost of admission: $8.00. A quick google search told me that the average ticket cost for this year’s game is over $400.00

 

July 13, 1971.  50 years ago. A day I will never forget. But stay tuned for a few posts later this year that will talk about other days that I will never forget  from 40 years ago, 30 years ago, 20 years ago, and 10 years ago. And in the mean time…

Never forget that you are very loved,

Pop Pop

 

 

Brick #97 – 2 Peter 1

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“May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”

I love the way that Peter intros his epistle. This little sentence is a great prayer to pray or blessing to speak on behalf of those we care about.

In chapter one, Peter reminds his readers of the importance of God’s Word. He wants to make sure they are paying attention “as to a lamp shining in a dark place…” (v.19) He is not convinced that they are paying attention and he has several reasons for his concern. 

  • He wants to help them to be fruitful and effective in their walk with the Lord and to equip them to live godly lives. (chapter 1)
  • He wants to make sure they can discern truth from the false teaching that is prevalent. (chapter 2)
  • He wants to make sure that they are ready for “the Day of the Lord.” (chapter 3)

All of these concerns are appropriate for 21st century believers. Not so much has changed. We still need help living godly lives. We are still susceptible to the false teaching that tickles our ears. And we are still ill-prepared for the coming of the Lord.

In verse 4 of this chapter Peter references God’s “precious and very great promises” as he seeks to encourage the saints to be men and women of the Word. Here are a few of God’s precious and very great promises that are well worth the time pondering so that when life is hard we have a sure and steady anchor to help us get through the storm. Note that the first promise is that there will indeed be storms to endure.

  • “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
  • The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him;  though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.  Psalm 37:23-24
  • “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  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. Matthew 11:28-29
  •  But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31
  • And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28
  • If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  James 1:5
  • Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7
  • If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
  • Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
  • The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”  Deuteronomy 31:8

John Piper says that “we must day by day go to the Word of God and search for great promises. Fix one or two in your mind and hold them there before you all day. And use them to overcome temptation to sin and to incite you to daring acts of righteousness and love. 

May this brick help you to search God’s Word daily knowing the value that it provides in helping you navigate your way through this life and in preparing you for the life to come.

 

 

Virtue – moral excellence

Pop Pop Epistle # 149 – About My Ezer Kenegdo

 

Dear Grandkids,

Today is Nona’s birthday. #63 to be specific. So she is still a very young woman. One day you will understand what I mean when I say that the older you get the younger and younger 63 years old of age seems.

Perhaps you remember seeing the post I wrote on Nona’s 60th birthday – it was full of lots of stuff about her over the years. As we celebrate her birthday today I want to tell you why she is my “ezer kenegdo.”

My guess is that your first thought is “Say what”? But you are probably more familiar with those words than you think – or at least with what the words mean. Those are the Hebrew words taken from Genesis 2:18 where the Lord God says, “It is nor good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helper fit for him.”   Or, I will make him an ezer kenegdo.

The fact that God created a helper for the first man implies that God knew that the man would need lots of help. And this is definitely true for me. So here are just a few of the ways that Nona has been an incredible helper to me over the years.

She has definitely helped me become an organized person. She is very gifted organizationally. Me not so much. But I have learned much from her that has helped me so that nowadays most people think I am very organized. If only they knew what I was like 40 years ago when we got married.

She helps me do what is right. I am not really a rule breaker but I do have a tendency to be a rule bender. I have no doubt that Nona has saved me from multiple speeding tickets and parking violations over the years in addition to helping me do the right thing when it comes to caring for and looking out for people – which is kind of one of my main jobs as a pastor.

For the first 25 or so years of our marriage we were involved in Student Ministry. I can’t even begin to tell you how much she helped me be a better student pastor. She was always by my side doing whatever I asked her to do – whether it was teaching a class of girls or baking some kind of goodie or going on a trip because there were not enough other female leaders. Or in many cases just staying home and making sure that your parents were taken care of when they were little so that I could be off taking care of and ministering to other people’s kids. If I had any degree of success as a student pastor it was in large part because of her. And this has been true for our post student ministry years as well. She has been an incredible helper and does so without any recognition but has done so willingly because she felt just as called to ministry as I did.

But she has not just been an awesome helper (ezer), she has also been the perfect fit for me (kenegdo). In just a few weeks we will celebrate our 40th anniversary. Even though that sounds like a long time, I can easily remember how the Lord orchestrated our first meeting and made it clear from the beginning that He had brought us together. It was indeed a match made in heaven. Nona has been suitable for me in so many ways and hence our 40 years together have been a joyous blessing filled with much adventure and lots of great memories. Here are just a few ways:

  • She is just as called to ministry as I am
  • She motivates me to be a better pastor, father, grandfather and husband
  • She prompts me to think deeply
  • She models for me being a hard worker
  • She nourishes my hopes and dreams
  • She creates a restful home environment
  • She cares and provides for me in my neediness
  • She complements (or completes) me in a way that makes us together a perfect team

Your Nona is most definitely my ezer kenegdo. And I’m looking forward to how the Lord will be provide a helper suitable for each of you in the years to come. And perhaps I will even be around to welcome them to the family. But if not, tell them about the cool sounding Hebrew words from Genesis 2 that your Pop Pop taught you.

Never forget that you are very loved,

Pop Pop

 

 

Brick #96 – 1 Peter 5

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A few thoughts about verses 5-7…

 Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you…

 

First, a few definitions.

Humility is an honest assessment  of ourselves in light of God’s holiness and our sinfulness.

Pride is a conspiring to steal glory from the only One that is rightfully due glory. It is a pursuing of self-glorification and a refusal to acknowledge dependence upon God.

With these definitions in mind you can understand why God so vehemently opposes the proud.

Two questions…

Question #1: What does humility look like in a believer’s life? Numbers 12:3 tells us that “the man Moses was very humble – more than all the people who were on the face of the earth.” So perhaps we can learn a thing or two about humility from him. 

In Psalm 90 we have recorded “A Prayer of Moses, the man of God.” He gives us some clues in verses 12-17 of how humility expresses itself.

Humility is characterized by:

A teachable spirit – In verse 12 Moses prays, “teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Do we come to God each day with a willingness to learn from Him; with an understanding that we still need the Lord to instruct us how to navigate our way through this world?

A sense of dependent neediness – In verse 14, Moses prays, “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” Do we look to the Lord for our satisfaction and joy and happiness or do we try to find it through sources that the world provides?

A recognition of God’s glory and power – In verse 16, Moses prays, “Let YOUR work be shown to your servants, and YOUR glorious power to their children.” Are we first and foremost concerned that God gets the glory that is His due or are we more concerned about getting the recognition that we crave?

A longing for the favor of God – In verse 17 Moses prays, “Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us and establish the work of our hands upon us.” Do we long for God’s favor upon our life or do we seek primarily the favor of people.

A pursuit of God in prayer – This Psalm is an indication that Moses spent time in prayer with the Lord. Prayer in and of itself is an act of humility as we recognize our need for Him.

Question #2: Practically, how do we clothe ourselves with humility? In other words, how do we develop humility in our lives?

Philippians 2:5-8 is instructive here as we learn from Jesus. 

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

We can learn humility:

1) By serving others – By nature we tend towards selfishness and wanting others to serve us. By “taking the form of a servant” we take our eyes off ourselves and focus of meeting the needs of others. A great question to ask the Lord each day is this: Who can I serve today and how can I serve them?

2) By being obedient to the Lord – Jesus was not thrilled with the idea of being crucified on a cross (Matthew 26:39) but obeyed willingly. We don’t always like doing what God’s Word commands but we learn humility every time we obey willingly because God sees our desire to please Him rather than pleasing ourselves.

May this brick help you to “clothe yourselves, all of you,  with humility.”

 

Brick #95 – 1 Peter 4

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I spent a lot of time this week pondering verse 1: “Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking…”

Jesus was not looking forward to suffering on the cross. His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane reveals this… “If there is any other way… Yet not my will but Yours.” He was willing but that didn’t mean that he had to be excited about it.

None of us like the idea of suffering. I sure don’t. Suffering generally involves pain and I am not a fan of pain. In the 1st century suffering often involved physical pain because of the persecution that the early disciples were facing. In 21st century America, suffering might involve physical pain but it is just as likely to involve emotional pain or relational pain or financial pain. And because we don’t like pain we will often do what ever we can to avoid it. So we self-medicate and much of the time we self-medicate in unhealthy, sinful ways. We choose sin over suffering.

Example: Loneliness is a widespread problem in our culture today. There is a lot of emotional suffering that people are experiencing these days. Some of the ways that people self-medicate to avoid the feelings of loneliness might include alcohol or pornography or through vicarious relationships experienced on TV or Netflix that help people to forget what they are going through. People choose sin over suffering. I understand why. I am tempted to do the same. It is easier and it is a quicker fix and no one has to know that about our pain. But it is unhealthy and certainly unholy.

1 Peter in general informs us that we WILL suffer and that we need to be prepared to suffer. 1 Peter 4:1 informs us that the way to be prepared to suffer, and to be willing to choose suffering over sin, is to arm ourselves with the same kind of thinking that Jesus had. Here are a few verses to ponder that might help you to arm yourself with the mindset of our Savior…

  • Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)
  • So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. (Romans 7:21-23)
  •  For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. (2 Corinthians 10:3-6)
  • Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind… (Romans 12:2)
  • This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (Joshua 1:8)
  •  Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)

May this brick help you to arm yourselves with the Word of God in a way that equips you to choose suffering when necessary over sin.

 

 

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