Friday, May 13, 2011

Genesis 32:9-12

"Then Jacob prayed, 'O God of my grandfather Abraham, and God of my father, Isaac—O LORD, you told me, "Return to your own land and to your relatives." And you promised me, "I will treat you kindly." I am not worthy of all the unfailing love and faithfulness you have shown to me, your servant. When I left home and crossed the Jordan River, I owned nothing except a walking stick. Now my household fills two large camps! O LORD, please rescue me from the hand of my brother, Esau. I am afraid that he is coming to attack me, along with my wives and children. But you promised me, "I will surely treat you kindly, and I will multiply your descendants until they become as numerous as the sands along the seashore—too many to count."'"
Jacob is worried, but he goes to God with his fear. He reminds himself and God that God is the one who told him to return to his land and that God promised to treat Jacob kindly and to multiply his descendants. He acknowledges that God is the one who made him wealthy. He knows God has been faithful and loving, though he is undeserving. Here is a model prayer: express your feelings, but focus on God and his promises and faithfulness, not your circumstances.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Proverbs 6:6-11

"Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones.
  Learn from their ways and become wise!
Though they have no prince
  or governor or ruler to make them work,
they labor hard all summer,
  gathering food for the winter.
But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep?
  When will you wake up?
A little extra sleep, a little more slumber,
  a little folding of the hands to rest—
then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit;
  scarcity will attack you like an armed robber."
The wise (and prosperous) person lives in light of the long term. The foolish person simply goes with what feels good at the moment (sleep). We need to work and prepare for what's ahead (ultimately, eternity). We need to make decisions in light of future consequences, rather than what gratifies in the moment, and be aware of how our present choices affect our future reality. This is wisdom.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Book Review: The Fight of Our Lives

In reading The Fight of Our Livesbrings you back to the dreadful events of September 11, 2001, America has waged an international war on terrorism. I found this book interesting to read even though I am not a fan of reading political science. The books brings insight to what is happening around us American's and brings to light the between the line inquiries. There have been dozens of terrorist attacks and attempted attacks since 9/11, including the recently foiled Times Square bomber. But while the Fort Dix terrorists were stopped in their tracks, an Islamist terrorist at Fort Hood unleashed hell on American servicemen and their families, shooting 45 and killing nearly a third that. Despite Maj. Nidal Hasan's shouting "Allahu Akbar" as he pulled the trigger, the official Pentagon report refused to mention Islam or use the word Muslim. And said the army chief of staff, "As horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that's worse." As authors, William J. Bennett and Seth Leibsohn show, for lack of clarity, conviction, and determination, America is on the verge of declaring preemptive cultural surrender in the war on terror. The Fight of Our Liveswill reinvigorate the discussion, reframe the debate, challenge the quitters, and embolden those who wish to win the war on terror. This book was not a disappointment to read.

Matthew 10:28-32

"'Don't be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.
 "'Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.'"
Why are we not to fear being killed? Most of us certainly do. Yet if Jesus is our number-one priority—truly—then we can rest in his love. We are tuned to another reality, beyond this world. If we are killed, the body dies. We, however, will be with Jesus, and he will acknowledge us before his Father. You belong to Jesus, with all that entails: the hatred of the world, and the absolute love and valuing from God. It's a complete package. Will you embrace it fully?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Matthew 10:24-26

"'Students are not greater than their teacher, and slaves are not greater than their master. Students are to be like their teacher, and slaves are to be like their master. And since I, the master of the household, have been called the prince of demons, the members of my household will be called by even worse names!
"'But don't be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when everything that is covered will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all.'"
Jesus warned that the world hated him. He is our Master and Teacher, so we may well have to face persecution because of our allegiance to him. In the American church, we tend to believe that we will be rescued from such a fate. Jesus never promised that. In fact, here he promises that we will encounter persecution for our faith. Yet we are not to fear, because God is in control, and the truth will win out in the end. (This is only a comfort, though, if we care more about Jesus and his kingdom that we do for our own comfort.)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Psalm 13:1-3

"O LORD, how long will you forget me? Forever?
 How long will you look the other way?
How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul,
 with sorrow in my heart every day?
 How long will my enemy have the upper hand?
 Turn and answer me, O LORD my God!
 Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die."
"How long, Lord?" Have you ever felt this way? "How long must my trial continue?" You are not alone. God's people have always struggled with this feeling of God's distance. But it's precisely at these times that you need to cry out to God, not just moan to yourself (or others). God even gives you the words, here, to express your feelings; he wants to hear those words from your heart. He does care! In your crying out, he makes himself known to you in a deeper way (which is his goal—that you know him in ever deeper ways).