Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I can imagine that some who might see the above picture think, "Boy, I'd sure like to be called to that ministry." :) When I see it I see joy--not because of the surroundings, but because God showed each of us we were right where God wanted us to be. It was as though we could feel as David did when he composed Psalm 27:4.

We often wonder how we can know God's will. There are many ways in which He reveals Himself. Sometimes He reveals Himself after we take a step of faith and affirms that step. Here are at least 20 things that happened to us within the first couple of weeks after deciding to quit my job and to head to the University of the Nations in Kona, Hawaii for the month of July. If there are typos it is because I'm scared to take the time to reread because blogger might time out (it happened once before and i lost this entire post).

1. Our first and last Sunday still in Arkansas after we had announced to our parents our plans, I was leading music for the contemporary services at church as I have been doing every other week for the past year. There is a 9:40 and an 11:00 service back to back. Right before we began the 11:00 I looked out at the gym floor where the congregation sits and see my parents (Bill and Caral Riley) walking in. They aren't regular church goers. It was just such a blessing to see them join with us in worship.

2. Shortly after we arrived for our classes at the University of the Nations I shared our story with one of the teachers, Andy Huddleston. As I told him about quitting my job we both learned for the first time that the very day upon which I quit he and other leaders at the U of N had worshipped together for three hours praying that God would send professional corporate workers to the U of N for the harvest. This was very significant for later developments on our trip.

3. Our family has never been adept at family devotions. But, in Hawaii God blessed our family with the desire to do them. We were amazed at hour our children asked us every day when we could do our devotion together.

4. Please go here, http://charisshalom.blogspot.com/2006_07_01_charisshalom_archive.html, to the July 16th entry, "How a Hog Call Led to a Divine Appointment." This amazing story of how God answered by wife's prayer at church on our second Sunday in Hawaii will bless you. Long story short: She prayed that we would meet someone new who would be a lasting relationship. Thank you David and Wendy Price for being obedient to God to the point of going to church on your Hawaiian vacation!!!

5. My wife and kids and I all went to a nearby beach called Queen's Bath about one week into our trip. Of all the dozens of beaches and thousands of people who may be on them, we began talking to this other mom. We eventually discover that she is Judy Cunningham, the daughter-in-law of Loren Cunningham, the founder of YWAM. This divine meeting was part of what led of the start of a relationship with Loren and Darlene Cunningham.

6. Alan Cross, fellow blogger (http://www.downshoredrift.com/downshoredrift/) and pastor. He emailed me one day to let me know that God had moved him to tears to pray for me and my family and offered his support. We had never met in person. We met solely through blogging. We have continued to grow in our relationship and hope to meet in person some day soon.

7. One of my best friends, Mike Roberts, thought I had lost my mind when I told him our plans. Understand this is a person who has been on three mission trips to Japan and who helps his church by planning mission trips for others. Nevertheless, he didn't understand our "drastic" decision. As a result, he began praying earnestly for us as soon as I told him. That night he was so troubled that he could barely sleep. God told him to find a book he had written by Steve Shadrach. He finally got out of bed in the middle of the night to find the book. As he read the foreword he realized that what was written there was identical to what I told him earlier that day about our decision. With that realization God gave him peace about our plans. Then, when he shared that experience with me, well, as you might imagine, God gave me peace, too.

8. Before we had even made our decision I had tried to reach good friends of ours, John and Jane Ray, who work with YWAM because I wanted to find out more. So, I had left them a message at their home. When they didn't return my call in the first couple of days, I became a little discouraged. I tried again, but to no avail. About a week later I was shopping in a grocery store and ran into Keith Lee, a friend I hadn't seen in about year (miraculous in and of itself that two husbands ran into each other in a grocery store--to his credit he even had one of his kids with him if I remember correctly!). We began catching up and I told him about my considering YWAM. He immediately asked if I had talked to John Ray. Well, I didn't even know he knew John, but I told him what I had done. He said, "Oh, they're in Hawaii; let me give you their cell number." As soon as I left the grocery I was on the line with John and within a few days we had tickets to Hawaii.

9. I'll stick with the Rays for a moment. When we arrived they basically hosted us. They picked us up at the Kona International Airport (which just sits off the ocean in the middle of lava fields with open air cabanas for terminals). They drove us, our three kids, and all our luggage for a month's stay to our small studio apartment (about 500 square feet). They had it all decked out for us. Food in the fridge, sheets, towels, etc. And, it had a window a/c unit blowing cool air to greet us as we unloaded heavy bags. Once we pulled the kids off of the walls and ceiling and got us all in bed, we fell asleep.

I, unfortunately, woke up after about one hour due to the jet lag. And, I was freezing. I couldn't turn on any lights since we were all in one room, so I stumbled to the wall where the a/c was and tried to turn the air warmer. Instead, I hit the wrong knob and turned it off. The sudden silence of turning off the fan scared me because I feared waking my kids. So, I quickly turned it back on, all the while hearing my dad's voice saying "don't ever turn on an a/c right after turning it off because you might blow the compressor!!!!"

Sure enough, the knob went to on, but the machine was dead. I turned it back to off and went back to bed, concerned. The next morning i immediately checked it, hoping that it had just been a fluke or that it had been frozen up. Dead. My mind was cluttered with money concerns and the concern of telling Tara, my wife. I told her and told her I would find the breaker box later. We needed to leave.

That evening, when we returned, I checked again. Dead. No a/c. No money to buy new a/c. Not my property. Ugh. I found the breaker box. Flicked the switch. Turned on the a/c. Nothing. Dead. Ugh. What, probably 200 bucks?? My mind flooded with thoughts yet again.

Then, I heard God saying to me, "Pray with your family for the a/c." Satan said, "what if it doesn't do anything? How will that challenge your kids' faith?" And I thought, "man, if i were in Arkansas with my job I'd just go to Sam's and buy a new one."

I told Tara what God had said and we prayed out loud, holding hands for the a/c. I said "amen." I walked to few steps to the a/c (everything in 500 square feet is a few steps), turned it on, and the fan blew out precious faith-filled cool air!!!!

10. When I knew I had to quit my job is when God told me I was like Jonah. He gave me that vision. I had heard his call about 5 years ago away from being a lawyer but decided to board a boat for Spain instead (in the form of staying on my legal boat). He told me, like Jonah, I better get off that boat. The first big group class I went to at the U of N, the teacher had us look closely at one particular book of the bible to practice inductive bible study. That book? Jonah.

11. Another one of the first people I met in Kona was Robert Evans. It took us about 2 minutes to realize that we had much in common with regard to our academic backgrounds. He had made a similar change of careers about ten+ years before and he was a great encouragement to me.

12. The morning after we got our plane tickets to Hawaii I went for a jog to the tunes of Chris Tomlin. As I turned to run this steep hill near our house (on North Street between College and Mission for you Fayetteville folk), God totally laid Proverbs 3:5-6 on my heart. And, as I ran up that hill he reminded me that He would, if I trusted Him completely, make my paths level. I had never run up that hill so easily in all the dozens of times I had run it.

13. Arkansas Razorbaptist (http://arkansasrazorbaptist.blogspot.com/). Another blogger I've never met (but want to do so soon!!!). When I first wrote about our decision to change careers to missions, they heard the story and wrote about it on their blog (which is "slightly" more read and acclaimed than mine). It was such a blessing and many people wrote great words of encouragement. Alan Cross did the same.

14. All the dozens of encouraging notes and calls we have received.

15. All the hours that my wife and I have spent together praying. although we had often counseled young married couples of the importance of praying together (the pithy saying "the couple that prays together stays together!"), we found that Satan did everything he could to prevent it, and we usually succumbed. Since following God's direction, just like with our family devotions, we have a renewed commitment to our marriage, our families, and to God. Praying together is a natural and desirable thing for the first time in a long time.

16. Every where we turned in Hawaii, people were giving us things. A borrowed vehicle for a trip to church or the store. A gallon of milk. A home cooked dinner. A pair of shorts. And, these things were coming from others who had very little themselves!

17. Bill Barley and the Living Stones Church!!! We went there during our entire stay. It is where we met David and Wendy Price. It is where we took tons of great pictures of our kids. But, even more so was the first sermon Bill preached. He hit on Hebrews 11:15-16. There we are reminded of Abraham and Sarah, who could have returned to their homeland but never looked back and realized their longing for a better place. As Bill shared these verses, both Tara and I looked at each other knowing that they were speaking directly to us.

18. Bill Barley number 2. Well, after week two at the Living Stones, I introduced myself to Bill. As it turned out he had been a lawyer for 12 years in Florida before following God's call into pastoring. Needless to say our friendship was borne and I look forward to a few more shared coffees and great teaching when we return.

19. David Spruell. Youth Minister at a large church in Houston, Texas, Champion Forest Baptist Church. He was an accountant a few years ago in Fayetteville and attended the sunday school class I had the blessing of teaching. I called him from Hawaii to tell him our great news and change of calls because I knew he could relate. He had already heard and was ready for my call because he wanted to ask me to come speak to his church! I hadn't thought for one second before calling him about that possibility, but it was such encouragement to hear his excitement about our story.

20. Our nephew, Carter Calico, moved in with us at the beginning of the summer to go to summer school at the University of Arkansas. This was well before we knew I would be quitting my job and leading us all to Hawaii. As a result, though, when we did leave quite suddenly, he was already in our home, able to house sit, mow, and take care of a few things for us.

Well, this is now the (almost) eternal post and I could go on. Remember these were just 20 things that happened in about two weeks time. Each of them, however, spoke volumes to our family as we stepped out in faith. So many more have happened since, and I hope to write a few more in the upcoming week. And, i haven't even mentioned people like David Roth (http://www.workmatters.org), who met with me faithfully during the months prior to my decision, helping me through some angst over my job, career, and Christian walk. As I shared coffee with him this morning, God began showing me ways that we had been iron sharpening iron, even though I had no idea that I was encouraging him, too. That was such a blessing.

Thank you for taking the time to read all of this. I hope it blessed you. If nothing else, it will be a reminder to me that God started this and He will finish it. Philippians 1:6. We love you. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Proverb of the Day
Much of the commenting I've seen of late on other blogs brought this verse to life for me today. Proverbs 20:3 says "It is to a man's honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel." I know that I am often a fool when it comes to arguments. And, it seems I am not alone in that folly as I peruse a few of my favorite blogs. Father, I pray that we would die to ourselves and what we perceive to be our rights and righteousness and wisdom and let your love, truth, wisdom, and knowledge work through us as we draw near to You as Your sons and daughters.
I also wanted to share how much I have been encouraged by Alan Cross. If you don't regularly check out his blog, I wish you would. It is thoughtful, intelligent, and not self-righteous. Moreover, he would love your prayer support. Check it out. I link to it, but also it is at downshoredrift.com.
Finally, I wanted to share these words of wisdom from one of my Methodist pastor friends. I had the blessing of hearing his sermon today. "We need to train diligently to be someone who desires to have the character of Christ inwardly so that we can be more like Christ outwardly." "When you feel gassed and used up, it may be because you've tried to act like Christ before you really were like Christ." "Why would you expect to be able to be like Jesus without having the training that goes with it?" He shared what a first century Jewish disciple was. They were those who followed their rabbi so closely that they hoped to look like, be like, walk like, talk like, and live like their rabbi. He shared that it took great discipline, just as is described in Timothy, through worship, unhurried reading, memorizing, meditating, fasting, solitude, jounaling, accountability, praying, listening, etc. And, he emphasized that it isn't that these works save us, but that we can't expect to live effective Christian lives without training to do so just as a professional athlete can't expect to be effective without going through the fundamentals hundreds of thousands of times.
Some friends of ours recently began going to a counselor (oh no, the C word) for their marriage's sake. The husband shared a story about how he was recently talking to the wife of a youth pastor while they both were visiting a mutual friend at the hospital. As he listened to her talk about how her marriage's main focus was her children and that they put their marriage on the back burner for the kids, he was burdened by it. Rather than just tell her that she really needed to focus on her husband and her marriage, chide her, or quote scripture at her, he began his encouragement by saying something like, "my wife and I recently began counseling to save our marriage." Well, to make a long story short, his honesty and openness gave her the ability to trust him and really listen to what he had to say. It is rare in today's culture for people to share from their hearts, particularly to be vulnerable in so doing. We can all share our opinions about what other people do or say, but to share our weaknesses and feelings? It seems we'd rather go to the dentist. And because he and his wife were so willing to share their struggles with us, we were more open with them and it made for a wonderful evening of mutual encouragment and love.

May we trust God to be our strength when we are weak and not believe the lie that we have to show others how "perfect" we are.

Saturday, August 19, 2006


The fear of the Lord leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble. Proverbs 19:23. When we walk by faith in the reality of who God is, trusting wholly in Him and not leaning on our own understanding, he makes our paths straight and level and we are able to rest, contendly, in Him, untouched by the troubles and trials of this world. Note that it doesn't say that there aren't troubles; it simply says that we won't be touched by trouble. Why? Because we live knowing that He is God. He is infinite. He is love. He is all powerful. He is all knowing. He is sovereign. He always keeps his promises. His purpose always prevails (Proverbs 19:21). We can truly rest in Him. If you feel unrest, then perhaps it is something or someone else you are placing your trust in. May the reality of who HE is wash over you as you begin to breathe deeply and taste and see that He is good and rest peacefully in His tender care. Amen.

 Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 17, 2006

I hope it is as obvious to people who don't know me as it is to me that in this picture i am exhausted. I definitely don't post the photo out of vanity. But the picture illustrates a couple of things. First, the cool part: the steam in the background, about 2.5 miles away, is being produced by molten lava rolling into the Pacific Ocean from the active volcano on the Big Island. Second, I realized something today that was entirely new to me, and, as I pondered it I remembered this picture.

What is this new learning? What profound revelation did God give me? It wasn't anything earth shattering. It simply was this: Ministry is hard work. You see, in the picture above, my family and I had been driving and touring and hiking around the Big Island of Hawaii for about ten hours. At the moment my wife, Tara, took this lovely photograph, I had been carrying that 30 pounds of 2-year-old for some distance over lava fields to see that steam behind me. And, as a result of all that excitement, fun, and hard work, I was on my last leg.

Ministry, and all it entails, is like that. Yes, it is fun. Yes, it is exciting. Yes, it is rewarding. But, yes, it is hard. There are aspects of it that aren't fun or exciting. And, today, as I felt like I really needed more coffee to make it another step and to smile as I shared with another individual, God showed me a little big more of Himself. And, praise God, no matter how hard the work is, when it is done for His glory and consistent with His will, it is all rewarding.

I spoke today to a great man of faith who shared about how the past year and a half of his ministry had been the time of his life. Understand, the past year and a half of his ministry had probably been some of the most challenging he had ever faced. But, because of his love for God and the grateful heart God had given him for seeing God's glory even through all of the insanity, his perspective on it was one of joy, which is quite different than many looking from the outside in might have.

My wife and I look back on the month of July 2006 as the best month of our lives. Even though we had no vehicle at our disposal and logged miles every day on our feet, we ate many things we didn't like and couldn't afford to just choose to go out to eat, we moved from sharing way too much square feet to about 500, and we were thousands of miles from everything we were used to, God blessed us beyond measure. During just the first two weeks we could write down 19 distinct happenings or answers to prayer affirming He had led us to be there. I'd type out all my stories of answered prayer but i'm afraid the length of the post would be too daunting to most and I'd rather just tell you personally!

All of that to say, God is so amazingly good. He truly does work all things for good for those who love God and are called to His purpose. When He tells us to be thankful in all circumstances, He also makes it possible for us to be. What a wonderful God we serve. In fact, what other god is there that actually came not to be served, but to serve? What other god doesn't enslave us; instead, we have the God who loves and frees us and came to give us an abundant life? While we may be called upon to work hard for His glory, and to do all things as though we were working for the Almighty Creator of the Universe and beyond, we get to yoke up with Jesus Christ, the one in whom God placed all supremacy, and to whom we can give all of our burdens. Praise be to God! What sweet release and rest He provides!!!!! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


FJ Ministries is the vision God laid on our hearts. Our mission of F.A.I.T.H. is "Families reaching families as Avenues to the nations, Igniting passion for God and compassion for people, Teaching and training with Hearts and hands revealed." Colossians 2:6. We pray tha tGod will enable us to reach families and facilitate their particpation in the Great Commission. May our heart's passion be for God and for serving others and, in so doing, encourage others to the same passion.

FJ were the two letters God gave us individually on July 26, 2006, in Kona, Hawaii, as we prayed over what our ministry should be. Tara and I prayed together more in the last couple of months than we have in our twelve year marriage.

For Tara, FJ was "for Jim." Jim was a friend of Tara's during her teenage years who had a heart for God and missions. He had gone to Haiti as a young teenager and wanted to see God's ministry furthered. Unfortunately, for reasons only God truly knows, Jim decided to end his life. In the wake of the grief over that loss, Tara told God that she wanted to do whatever it was God had planned for Jim to do. It was not until the night we were praying together some twenty years later that God reminded her of that promise to Him.

For Bryan, FJ was "finding Jubilee." Jubilee was our first "child." We were both in school, without any income, but we saved to buy a poodle. We named her Jubilee and we paid $400 for her. Ten days after we received her, she died in a terrible accident. It happened the same day our niece, Corissa Calico, was born and as I rushed to the hospital to see Corissa's birth. I was carrying Jubilee outside our apartment to let her "use the lawn," when something startled her and she jumped. As I tried to catch her she was flipped head down and fell onto a concrete sidewalk, suffering a fatal head injury at the tender age of 9 weeks.

Jubilee also, of course, is the year God told the Israelites to rest for a second sabbath year, letting the land lay fallow, the slave be set free, and all debts be forgiven. It was to occur every 50th year (following the 49th, or 7th of 7 Sabbath years). Leviticus 25. Unfortunately, the Israelites never had the faith to obey God in this precious gift of grace and failed to follow His command regarding entering His rest during the Year of Jubilee.

We hope that through FJ Ministries we can teach others about entering God's rest and Jubilee--that God would increase all of our faith and bring us to unity and to the fullness of our gifts so tha the world may know that Jesus is their salvation. Romans 12, John 17. Jesus taught that "unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, myservant will also be. My Father honors the one who serves me." John 12:24-26. We now know that the deaths that God reminded us of as we prayed, and our own willingness to give up our own lives, will produce many seeds in the lives of innumerable people, thus bringing God glory and showing that Jesus is the reason for our hope to all the world.

What was really fun was then decompressing after our time of prayer and realizing that God's gift of FJ to us also stood for such things as Families for Jesus, Forgiveness in Jesus, Faith in Jesus, Faith and Joy, Following Jesus, Finding Jesus, Finding Joy, Fellowship in Jesus, Friendship in Jesus, Friend of Jesus, Faithfulness and Joy, and so on and so on. And, in that we rejoiced as God was already beginning to multiply His work in our hearts. Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 11, 2006

Book Tag - Tagged by Kevin Bussey

The rules are that it can be any book besides the Bible.

1. One book that changed your life: Desiring God, John Piper
2. One book that you’ve read more than once: Finishing Strong, Stu Weber
3. One book I’d want on a desert island: Wikipedia (that’s probably cheating), but basically some survival guide!
4. One book that made me laugh: Canterbury Tales
5. One book that made me cry: Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers
6. One book that you wish you had written: The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis
7. One book you wish had never been written: Silmarillion, JRR Tolkien (I kept trying to read it all)
8. One book that you are currently reading: The Weight of Glory, C.S. Lewis
9. One book that you’ve been meaning to read: The New Man, Thomas Merton

I’d add that some great classics to read are Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies, anything by Shakespeare, Brave New World, We, 1984, anything by Hemingway, The Scarlet Letter, Pride and Prejudice, Les Miserables, Tolkien’s the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, oh, and of course the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Encyclopedia Brown, and anything by Louis L'aMour

Thursday, August 10, 2006

This is to give a visual to the below poems, written in honor of each of my three children. :) Posted by Picasa
I wrote these for Tara on Mother's Day this year
Tanner Gracen

A mind full of wonder—
Ever thinking;
Always growing,
Artistically creating the world anew.
So fun to watch, this work of genius
As he flutters from one focus to another,
Needing not to attend to one thing long.
For as quickly as he sees
So does he understand,
And off to something else, a fantasy land.
He is beautiful; he is passionate,
Full of life, filled with awe—
His limits likely to be only those self-imposed.
Protect him from pride's great fall.
A gift to be cherished;
A breath to be held—
Let me not do anything but enable him to your hand.
Keaton Tait

Deeply does he think,
Ever on the brink
Of sharing something wise,
A twinkle in his eyes.
A handsome joy to behold;
A surprise with hair of gold;
His heart full and alive—
Deeper than anyone can dive—
Hard to know what lies inside,
But oh the wonder, and the pride,
When he trusts you and reveals his soul.
So sweet, so calm, always bold—
Though in the middle I pray he not believe
The lie that says you are forgotten.
Instead, may real love he evermore receive.
A gift to be cherished;
A breath to be held—
Let me not do anything but enable him to your hand.

Regan Cambryn

To think of her is to smile, to giggle—
For energy and drive is her heart's song.
Only two now, so much yet to learn,
But you can see the determination burn
In her eyes and in her strength;
Her will to do few can meet.
So teach me how to lead her to be meek
Without interfering with her spirit or her cheek.
As she grows in beauty, and in wisdom,
May she invest her gifts in the everlasting.
Though the baby and only girl
Let her not be deceived by a world about "me."
Let her reckless abandon be
A worshipful sacrifice to thee.
A gift to be cherished;
A breath to be held—
Let me not do anything but enable her to your hand.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


"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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30.

Why do we struggle so with finding rest in this world? Is it because we are so much busier today than at any other time in history? I doubt it. Sure, we may seem busier today, but if you take away our technologies of convenience and speed, putting us back on our feet to walk everywhere, forcing us to work more with our hands to cultivate our food and make whatever we need to live, you suddenly realize that people of the past were just as busy as we are, if not more, but they simply had to do different things to occupy their daily lives than we do. If anything, we are less busy today, more bored, and occupy our time with things that have more potential for harm. You would think with all of our leisure time we would be more rested than any generation in history; instead, we are suffering from a myriad of mental and emotional illnesses while seeking any and every thing to entertain ourselves.

Hebrews 3 and 4 make it clear why we fail to rest. In verse 19 of chapter 3 it says "they were not able to enter [his rest] because of their unbelief." Because the generation of Israelites who left Egypt's slavery failed to believe God's promises, they wandered in the desert for 40 years and were not granted access to his rest in the promised land because of their unbelief. This factual history also is a great word picture of the spiritual reality that when we doubt God we cannot enter into His rest as described above in Matthew 11 by Jesus.
What are some examples of things God has promised us?
2 Peter 1:3-4: His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
Philippians 4:19: And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:28-39: 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. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For 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.
James 1:2-8: Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
The question you must ask yourself is whether you really believe these promises (and the many more throughout God's word). If it seems you aren't living the life described by God in the above passages, then you must ask why. The Word of God is living and active, penetrating through your very soul, able to judge the thoughts and attitudes of your heart. Hebrews 4:11-12. Let it work through you. Pray as David did "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139:23-24. If you doubt at all, you are a double-minded man. And, what does that mean?? You are unstable, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and will not be able to rest. You are schizophrenic (literally have a "split mind"). And, interestingly, what happens to schizophrenics is that they become more and more consumed with... themselves.
I've written a long post, but God's word sums it up amazingly in two little verses many young Christians memorize early on:
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart [not just some or most of it] and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths [or will make your paths straight/level]." Proverbs 3:5-6.
If you are interpreting scripture based on your life experience rather than simply believing that God is who He says He is; that is, if you are leaning on your own understanding and experience rather than believing His promises, expect to have an anxious heart that seems unable to rest. As you find yourself needing that "drug" of choice, whatever it is, that is less than the meat of His word, the truth of His spirit, and the power of His gospel, ask God to search your heart with the sword of His word to see if there is any offensive way in you.

Monday, August 07, 2006

These are a few of the sights from our trip around the Big Island. I will post more in the future. The one of the family is taken from the porch of a beautiful green church in Waimea. The boys are running down a path to the overlook of Waipio Valley, one of the most beautiful places in the world. The waterfall is Akaka Falls. The cross is a part of a cemetery overlooking the Pacific on the East side of the Island.

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." Psalm 19:1

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

From today's Proverb, Proverbs 2:
My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.
The above verses set some conditions on our understanding the fear of the LORD and finding the knowledge of God. Notice that they aren't optional conditions, nor are they singular in nature. Instead, the scripture states that if you do the above 8 things, then you will understand. Further down in Proverbs 2 it promises that if you have God's wisdom it will save you from wicked men and the adulterous woman. I'd say that these are definitely things we want to be saved from.
So, when was the last time you memorized a verse or verses of the Bible? Do you find it difficult to do so? Do you set aside time, strategically to do so? I fail in this area. Can you share any encouraging words or practical advice to help people be better at storing up God's commands within our hearts??