Thinking Like a Renter

pullingweeds“Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. (Matthew 13:22, NKJV).

My wife and I own our house — at least the part of if the bank doesn’t own — and that is an incredible blessing.

It is also a burden. Continue reading

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“But God…” A Dozen Reversals of Life’s Heartaches, pt 2

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Fussy grammarians identify the word “BUT” as an adversative conjunction; something like the word “and” with a contrary attitude. When a decent “but” drops into a sentence, it turns the world upside down. How true, especially when the “but” unveils a divine operation — a heaven-sent miracle for life’s darkest hour.

This crabby but beautiful adversative conjunction invites your faith in a God who is the adversary of all that breaks your heart.

Today’s post is part two from an earlier post which you may find here. I hope you find comfort, strength, peace, and hope in a half dozen more “BUT GODS.”

  1. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8, NKJV). As the argument goes here, you might help out a friend; you might do something good for a decent human being. We find it far easier to help a person who is decent, thrifty, brave, and clean. BUT GOD is different. He embraces us with a love that knows now bounds when we are at our worst. While we were still sinners — moral train wrecks, fallen, helpless, and still shaking our collective fist in his face — the Son of God paid the ultimate sacrifice by shedding his precious blood on Calvary’s hill. He did not fold his arms and wait till we had our act together. Christ died for us, God proved his love for us, and the invitation to heaven’s banquet was sent to us long before we ever deserved it. But God…
  2. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; (1 Corinthians 1:27, NKJV). The earliest Christian churches weren’t pretty. They attracted society’s lower classes — not many mighty, not many wealthy, not many educated saints sang the praises of God. From all outward appearances, Christianity was a rag-tag assemblage of life’s last in line. The upper-crust occupants of Downton Abbey would look down their patrician noses and scoff. Who are these rabble? Must they be so noisy? What do they matter? BUT GOD delights in choosing life’s B-Team and using us to turn the world upside down. It is not the size of your portfolio, but the quality of your heart, that puts a smile on the face of God. Not your social rank, not your Klout score, not your Amazon ranking, and not an elite pedigree that fits you for service to the kingdom of God. It is your humble receipt of grace and your glorious identity in Christ that chases away the devil’s darkness and makes the angels stand and cheer.
  3. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13, NKJV). This is one of my favorite verses. No matter what adversities assail you, God is faithful. The night may be dark, the wait may be long, the news may be bad, the hope may unravel, BUT GOD will never let you go. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.
  4. For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise. (Galatians 3:18, NKJV). Hi. My name is Bill and I am a recovering legalist. Having spent half my life straining every fiber to measure up to God’s impossible demands, I so love the reversal in this verse. At question is the nature of God’s way of granting heaven’s immeasurably rich inheritance to God’s people: how does this happen? What is the nature of our great salvation? Paul offers only two choices: law or promise. These two choices determine the human response. If God offers salvation based on law, then the response must be obedience, compliance with the laws of God. If that’s the case, bend over backwards and kiss heaven’s inheritance goodbye; you’ve already screwed it up. BUT GOD offers salvation, not as a law to obey, but as a PROMISE. How do you respond when a promise is made? Simply BELIEVE. Your legalistic demons may peck you into bondage and despair, BUT GOD will keep his promise: he will save you freely and forever based on the finished work of Jesus Christ if you will only believe.
  5. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, (Ephesians 2:4, NKJV). Spiritual corpses, sinful, seized by diabolical forces beyond our control, slaves to lust and passion, and “children of wrath…” That is our dossier, by nature, before the court of heaven. The slimy pit of human depravity offers no escape. Any right-thinking judge, any decent, self-respecting God, would hurl javelins of judgment our way without batting an eye. Condemnation is our due. BUT GOD, who is rich him mercy, for his great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses and sin, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus… that in the ages to come, He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in his kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. It just doesn’t get better than that. Thank God for the shed blood of Christ!
  6. But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Galatians 6:14, NKJV). “Image is everything.” “It’s not the truth that matters, but the perception of truth.” Every day we swim in a sea of philosophical sharks ready to shred our hope, our self-esteem, and the deepest truths about who we are in Christ. Religious pretense. Social climbing. Outward conformity to the peer group. Fit in. Be cool. Dress just right. The world’s philosophies will squeeze you into a mold that can only lead to the death of your dreams and a cold and bitter heart. The world says we must boast in our conformity to its death-dealing system. BUT GOD opens a way of escape, inviting us to glory in the Cross of Christ, to stand secure in the robes of righteousness, to rest in the grip of his hand, and to wait for his glorious appearance. Your search for significance is over — you have found it in the approval of God gained once for all by the matchless grace of the Cross.

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How has God reversed your fortunes? Are there any BUT GOD moments, big or small, you can point to? You can encourage us all in the comments below. 

Be Alone, It Won’t Kill You…

Sometimes I run into a great piece of writing that is so true, so beautiful, and so real I want to share it with you. I did not write the piece below, but it touches me deep inside. It was written by my friend, Kenny Howard. Kenny sent it to me in response to an article I posted on Facebook. I share his response with his permission:

The original article that triggered this response is here: “The End of Solitude.” It’s a great read. Here’s Kenny’s Response:

Great article on being alone. It came to me at the same time when I was looking up a way to disable the wifi on my 10 year old’s Ipod Touch. Stupid me thought that he would actually use it to listen to music! Nope. It is like a crack addiction and he brings it into the bathroom with him. This was a “gift” from grandpa for Christmas and it has been taken away for periods of time and has been the root of bad moods for him as well. I’d like to throw the thing in the trash. I know this is the modern age and that is how kids communicate, but what happened to books? My kids live 3 blocks from a lush green wooded paradise, yet they have never set foot in it! “Go climb a tree, skin your knee, break an arm, I don’t care, just go be a BOY!!!” Why? Why USE your imagination and build a treefort when imagination comes to me free of charge or effort right over my handheld device 24/7? I found out today how to disable the majority of his usage for this time-robbing device.
You’re old like me so I can use this phrase: When I was young… we lived in a canyon that held all sorts of boyhood mystery and we LIVED in the creek that ran through it. We’d dam it up, build a ropeswing, poke sticks at dead, stinky animals, race stick-boats down the creek, swim in it when it was summertime and the list was endless because we had the TIME and the IMAGINATION. Today children have neither. They are never alone and they never get to know themselves or become comfortable in their own skin. They expect to be entertained around the clock because there is always a screen of one sort or another that will provide entertainment. My wife likes the fact that he can text her on this device and thus stay in touch, but beyond that feature I find these and other such devices pure and simple robbery of the childhood experience.

I have a computer in the office at work and have gotten rid of the one at home; don’t miss it and have more time for my family, more time to read, more time to play with my dogs, go for a walk, work out, play my guitar, etc. I found out that FB is another addiction and I soon found myself with way too many “friends” that I would never invite over for dinner who needed to share with me every intimate detail of their lives and I in turn became the voyeur who had to read all of this useless trivia in order to “keep up”! Screw that. I probably hurt some feelings, but it was out of control so I pruned my friend list from over 200 to somewhere around 30 which is a more accurate count of my true friends. If we’re such good friends, then why don’t we know each other’s email adresses which is all FB is in the first place; another way to email someone.

I am comfortable in my own skin. I know my skin. I know my strengths and more importantly, my weaknesses. I lived alone for YEARS before I met my wife and knew she was the one. No one does this anymore. What’s wrong with being alone? How can you ever know yourself if you never spend time with yourself? How can you ever be in a healthy relationship and expect someone else to know you? They say good counseling hurts. Living alone will also show your warts and this is important information to know. Getting in touch with your human weaknesses will allow you to work on those weaknesses and to someday become a better person, father, husband, neighbor, etc. I hear people talk after they break-up with someone and swear that they will not date anyone else for at least a year as they want to focus on themselves and just be alone. GREAT! Never happens. We have become relationship tree monkeys who swing from one relationship to another as we are so terrified of “being alone”. These people will never find “the one” if they are constantly settling for whoever comes along because when the phone call of destiny finally rings, their line will be busy with mediocrity…