Have you ever wondered, What do I have to do to live a stable life, to not be twisted with every fierce wind of opposition or pulled from what is right to what is ultimately degrading? How can I have the kind of healthy fellowship with God that will bring joy and fulfillment?
Acts 10:1,2—There was a man in Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment. He was a devout man and feared God along with his whole household. He did many charitable deeds for the Jewish people and always prayed to God.
It should not surprise us that Cornelius was God’s choice to first bring the gospel to the Gentiles. When we study his profile, it is inspiring and gives us a clear picture of what right looks like and thus why he was favored in God’s eyes. Cornelius was:
They said they would do it, the task well defined
But then they turned left, then right, then behind.
They scorned those in power subverting their will
When sudden calamity finished their thrills.
So don’t hitch your wagon with those who rebel
Unless you would like your pain to excel.
Proverbs 24:21,22—My son, fear the LORD, as well as the king, and don’t associate with rebels, for destruction from them will come suddenly; who knows what distress these two can bring?
As the shells rain down on hapless soldiers trembling in their foxholes, a man completely unknown as religious to his squad mates begins reciting the Lord’s Prayer. He remembers it from growing up attending Mass. Now in their time of desperation he delivers it up to God. Considered the most beloved prayer in Scripture and taught by Jesus to His followers, we would be wise to unpack it, study it and apply it rigorously to our lives. So let’s embark upon a prayer journey and take joy in 69 life-changing words.
2 Corinthians 7:1—Therefore, dear friends, since we have such promises, let us cleanse ourselves from every impurity of the flesh and spirit, completing our sanctification in the fear of God.
How do you feel when you hear people swear—using God’s name in a fit of rage, frustration, or even just crass conversation? When you get angry are you guilty of swearing? If we are used to this and unbothered, then we have a problem. A healthy reverence for God should make us shudder or feel offended (for Him) when we hear His awesome name taken in vain. Truly revering the Lord creates a fire inside us to protect His reputation. It transforms how we view Him and, as a result, how we are viewed.
Psalm 34:9—You who are His holy ones, fear Yahweh, for those who fear Him lack nothing.
For all of my life I can honestly say I have lacked nothing. Yes, there have been times of deprivation, sickness, loss, pain, and frustration. Yet, always God’s presence, provision, and guidance have not just sufficed, but have made me strong to walk each day. And my story is just one of a countless number of His children who faithfully experience His assistance.
Ecclesiastes 12:13,14—When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is: fear God and keep His commands, because this is for all humanity. For God will bring every act to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or evil.
Psalm 111:2,3—The LORD’s works are great, studied by all who delight in them. All that He does is splendid and majestic; His righteousness endures forever.
Skye Jethani wrote a book I highly commend to your reading. It is simply titled with. The premise of the author is that we typically find four types of Christians. The first group is comprised of those who live life under God. Their emphasis is on God’s divine will and appeasing Him through behaviors—“either in the form of rituals or morality.” The second group includes those who live life over God. Their emphasis is on applying Scripture and godly principles, which are useful for controlling the world and life. Those who live life from God characterize the third group. They are highly self-preoccupied. Under the banner of “the health and wealth gospel” these adherents see God as a divine genie that is eager to grant their desires. The fourth group is made up of those who live life for God. Life is all about staying on mission: sacrificing, achieving, serving, working to accomplish tasks (evangelism, discipleship, etc).
Flattop (3,510 feet) is Alaska’s most frequently climbed mountain. Located just 13 miles from downtown Anchorage in Chugach State Park, the views from its summit are stunning. I was in Anchorage to meet with participants in an emergency exercise timed to coincide with the 50thyear anniversary of the 9.2 earthquake that hit Anchorage. After our meetings I left with the two officers who accompanied me to take pictures at a park site near the airport. While there we met Kendra, a local resident, who told us Flattop was the place to go to get the best views of the area. We assumed we were going to arrive at a place where we could take photos from our car so you can imagine our surprise when she led us from the parking lot to Glen Alps trailhead to walk 1.5 miles and climb 1280 feet! This would have been okay except that the trail was mostly mud and snow and near the top very icy and steep.
1 Samuel 12:23,24—As for me, I vow that I will not sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you. I will teach you the good and right way. Above all, fear the LORD and worship Him faithfully with all your heart, considering the great things He has done for you.
Ken shared with me a great thought from AF Trekker that I pass along to you. In Thailand, Christians say, “Fow Diow.”
It means to have a personal, private audience with the King. Thais have a great respect and understanding of living under a King who rules them in love but who is quite distant in life experience from them. Very few Thais ever see the King; much less have a private audience with him. Those who do come into his presence enter on their knees far below his high throne.
Pound for pound Manny Pacquiao may be the best boxer ever. Born December 17, 1978, Manny is not just a Filipino fighter; he is also a politician, musician and actor. Given his popularity, he may be his country’s president someday. Manny is the first boxer to become an eight-division world champion. He won six world titles and is the first man to win the lineal championship in four different weight classes—an astounding accomplishment. The Boxing Writers Association of America named Manny the “Fighter of the Decade” for the 2000s.
I can imagine what happened. She had lived there too long. Over time, she grew increasingly used to the sleaze to the point where the vices probably no longer shocked her. No doubt she and her friends gossiped about the bizarre and strange conduct of the city’s inhabitants. Perhaps she was close to the two men soon to marry her daughters. Even her husband hesitated—unsure about leaving. In the end when the persistent angels grabbed their hands and pulled the four of them outside the city warning them to run and not look back, she didn’t get far before she turned away just once to see what should not be seen. That turning away made her a pillar of salt. (Gen. 19)
At the beginning of each year I pick a theme to observe and mark in reading through the Bible. In 2010 the theme was wisdom along with the nineteen base words key to examining this topic: wise, teach, instruct, advise, know, learn, understand, counsel, reveal, discern, insight, intelligence, guide, sense, mature, inform, perceive, realize, and revelation.
When I was in Junior High School, Billy Graham came to Seoul, Korea. I was able to sit on a platform not far from where the speakers stood and take pictures. At the time (early 1970’s), it was the largest Billy Graham Crusade ever. Looking behind the platform there on Yoido Island there was an immense sea of people. Dr. Graham explained to this spiritually hungry audience the meaning of the gospel. He quoted John 3:16, read other Bible passages, and outlined in simple terms God’s plan of salvation. Hundreds of thousands of Koreans stood and moved forward when he gave an invitation. Countless faces were wet with tears of repentance. Perhaps heaven’s citizens stood and cheered as they watched this grand spectacle.
The difference between a strike and a split is but a matter of inches. If the bowling ball hits the center pocket correctly, all ten pins fall down. But if the ball veers just slightly off its intended course all kinds of crazy formations can appear to include the dreaded split where pins are left standing on opposite sides of the lane. I had my share of splits last night as the bowling ball just missed the strike zone!