Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things …

As the book of Proverbs is finally “all commentaried out”, go catch some of the final wise words this week at Proverbial Thought!

Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.
Psalm 119:37, ESV

I made a covenant with my eyes . . .
Job 31:1, NIV

A couple of weeks ago, I announced through Facebook that my wife and I were cancelling our Netflix and Hulu accounts.

This decision had very little to do with what we watch. We try to be rather discerning in what we watch because we do not want to let too many immoral and/or blasphemous things in our minds if we can help it.

Rather, the decision came after a comment made by one of seminary professors.

While working through the book of Acts, we were discussing whether Christianity was a threat to the Roman Empire. My reply was “Technically. I mean, look at when Paul got upset with the girl with the Serpent spirit and cast it out of her in the name of Jesus. The people who were making money off of her fortune-telling were suddenly out of a means of income.”

The conversation then focused on how Christianity messed with the economy of the Empire. This is because makers of idols, workers in pagan temples, and even tour guides around cities with temples would lose business throwing off the entire economy of entire cities if not the entire Empire.

Then the professor made this comment: “Imagine if Christians still gave up all of their idolatrous and ungodly pursuits. How many Christians pay for pornography in our society?

My initial thought was “I’m glad that is not us!” (Caitlin and me)

Then some conviction set in.

How much have Netflix and Hulu used their profit to produce shows or movies that glorify sex and nudity?

How much have Netflix and Hulu used their profit to produce shows or movies that mock or blaspheme Christians and God?

At first I tried to justify having these accounts:

How many Christian-based things do they show?

It is not like I watch those things!

Netflix especially comes in handy working in a school, for both my wife and me!

I found myself getting angry that I should have to give up something.

Why was I angry and finding such a need to justify my actions if I was doing nothing wrong?

More than anything, I needed to listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

So, instead, I turned to my classmate and said “I am not very happy with the professor right now.” We then laughed about my silliness.

Most people I talked with about it went through the same justifications. A couple of them even said I was being too legalistic.

To combat that, a) I am not saying everyone needs to cancel Netflix and Hulu. This is a personal conviction. I certainly will argue for others to let go, because how much do we really need Netflix, Hulu, and television in general? This is especially true when we consider how useless most television is, how ungodly most television is, and how much God and Christians are blasphemed and mocked. b) We still occasionally watch TV. We enjoy being entertained as much as anyone, and not everything on TV is bad for us. c) We will still go to some movies (Speaking of which, The Lego Movie is rather fantastic in a purely entertaining vain!), for through this we might still be able to show Hollywood what kind of content we prefer while supporting some local businesses (or at least our friends who work at local businesses.

More importantly, though, is that we want to not only obey God in our lives but push others toward Christ by refusing to be a part in causing others to stumble:

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where

“‘the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.’

Everyone will be salted with fire.

“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”
Mark 9:42-50, NIV

We both felt that our continued subscription to these businesses supported content that could cause others to stumble or even be led astray. We would rather not have these forms of entertainment and be closer to Christ than have to have our conscience troubled if what we are doing is moral and godly. Christ and other people are more important than our temporary enjoyment.

How many things in our lives do we devote too much of our time and money to instead of focusing on loving God and people?

In our culture of instant gratification, pleasure, and stuff, how often do we unplug, sacrifice, and get quiet?

Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – 02/16/2014

Take care of your family with wisdom as found at Proverbial Thought!

This poem is simply a statement of how I feel during certain songs. I hope you feel the same way about God’s holiness. If not, I pray you get to experience such devotion!

 

 

 

 

 

 

what is it about singing

Holy

Holy

Holy

that stirs my spirit

and moves my heart

to want to worship You

with everything in me

Holy

Holy

Holy

is my Lord and God

my Savior and my Friend

reveal Your Holiness

to the whole earth

Psalm 119:89-104

Find the virtues of a godly woman over at Proverbial Thought!

Proverbs 119:89-104, ESV

Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.
Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast.
By your appointment they stand this day, for all things are your servants.
If I had not delighted in your Law, I would have perished in my in my affliction.
I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.
I am yours; save me, for I have sought your precepts.
The wicked lie in wait to destroy me, but I consider your testimonies.
I have seen a limit to all perfection, but your commandment is exceedingly broad.

Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.
Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me.
I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation.
I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts.
I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word.
I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me.
How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Through your precepts I get understanding, therefore I hate every false way.

Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – 02/09/2014

As we lead up to St. Valentine’s Day, understand living a godly life through some wisdom on the godly woman at Proverbial Thought!

It is fitting that this poem should come this week, the week leading up to Valentine’s Day, because it refers to our Lord as “our Lover”.

To make sure it is understood properly, “our Lover” is not a term that means “the one with whom I have sex,” nor is it a term that means “my boyfriend/girlfriend.” He is the One who loves our souls and lives so much that He literally gave His life to ensure we could be with Him, and then He rose from the grave to prove He was God AND SO THAT He could prove it was possible to be with Him.

And that should give us peace and hope.

how can we understand

a peace beyond understanding

not at all

but our Lover promises His Peace

 and His Peace and Love

are all encompassing

our Lover offers it

to all who seek

Running Around in Circles with Everywhere To Go

Get yourself over to Proverbial Thought for some wise exposition!

I will keep this short, and hopefully you get the point!

I used to regularly update an online journal called DanDantheGodman, which was a nickname given to me during my year working for McDonald’s. My tagline for this journal was “Running around in circles with everywhere to go.” I eventually used it on my MySpace page, as well (another thing I rarely ever think about let alone visit or update).

As a Christian, it occurred to me that it might not be the best tagline.

At the same time, it occurred to me that might be the best tagline to describe much of Western Christianity (though by no means all!)

Think about it for a moment:

The Church is supposed to fulfill the two-fold mission issued by our Lord.

  • Go into the world making disciples and teaching them all the things He taught (Matthew 28:18-20).
  • Promote justice and help those in need (Matthew 25:31-46, and Isaiah 58 is the most beautiful expression of this).

Yet, we see so many churches, congregations, and ministries that seem to promote taking care of ourselves more than taking care of others. Promoting this means they are teaching self-preservation and gratification rather than the things that Jesus taught.

In other words, many Christians in our culture are “running around in circles with everywhere to go.”

Put another way, many Christians are not putting their faith into action. They attend their churches, give donations and tithes, and attend small groups, but they rarely if ever teach the Word of God or reach out to non-Christians.

Are you running around in circles or stepping outside of your circle?

20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.
James 2:20-24, NIV

Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – 02/02/2014

Get a closer look at wisdom over at Proverbial Thought!

O Christian, may this be a blessing to you, a reminder that our God is always close at hand. Always.

Proverbs 18:24 says, “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

And Jesus tells us in John 15:15, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” And in Matthew 28:20, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age,” with John 14:16-17, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.


objects are closer than they appear

we pray for Your closeness
we expect to turn and see Jesus
we expect to see Your angels
we watch for great miracles

what if we are looking too hard
what if we are looking the wrong way
what if we are looking too far
we only need to hear You say

“I am closer than you are aware.
 There is no need to look here and there.
 My servants and signs are closer than they appear.
 Believe when I say I am near.”

we may not always see Christ
because we refuse to look inside
some great miracles are missed
because we may be looking for the big

we need to remember Christ lives within
and that angels appear as men
and miracles come both small and large
but God always resides within our hearts

Please Join Me At Track 22

Tune in to the voice of Wisdom at Proverbial Thought!

I was sitting in my preaching class this past week, and the conversation started tracking a certain way. It got me to thinking about something.

I love that song!

Have you had conversations about some of your favorite songs? I am sure you have.

Perhaps sometimes you start trying to sing a song but you cannot remember either the tune, the words, or both. You desperately want someone to tell you the name of that song!

How would you feel if someone simply told you the track number of that song? Would you find that helpful?

Usually, we do not refer to songs by their number (with exceptions for music like “Piano Concerto Number Five” or “No. 9” … extra points if you can give me names to go with those!) Occasionally we may know when someone says “Oh, that was track four of that album.”

Typically, the response we get (and want) is the title of the song. We may even find the lyrics rushing to our mind at the mention of the title.

We are often okay with the recitation of the first line of the song or the chorus.

My God, My God

The funny thing is, we have become so accustomed to labeling things in the Bible by number that is almost all we know anything by anymore.

Perhaps if we read the Bible as much as we really should, we would recognize references in the New Testament to passages in the Old Testament.

For example, when Jesus was hanging on the cross, it would have been much easier on all of us who were not raised Jewish if He had said “Go look up Psalm 22.”

Instead, He did what many of us would do when we are in some situation: He quoted lyrics.

Think about: how many times have you been doing something and song lyrics popped into your head that seemed to fit the situation?

Now imagine you are the Son of God, and you want people to understand something about you?

When Jesus said, “My God, My God, why have your forsaken me?” He was not suggesting that the Father had abandoned the Son. He was saying, “Hurry, someone read Psalm 22!”

Read it:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.

Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the one Israel praises.
In you our ancestors put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.
To you they cried out and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
“He trusts in the Lord,” they say,
“let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him.”

Yet you brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast on you;
from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

11 Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.

12 Many bulls surround me;
    strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions that tear their prey
    open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water,
    and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax;
    it has melted within me.
15 My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
    and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
    you lay me in the dust of death.

16 Dogs surround me,
    a pack of villains encircles me;
    they pierce my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display;
    people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them
    and cast lots for my garment.

19 But you, Lord, do not be far from me.
You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver me from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dogs.
21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

22 I will declare your name to my people;
in the assembly I will praise you.
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or scorned
    the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
    but has listened to his cry for help.

25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
those who seek the Lord will praise him—
may your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth
    will remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
    will bow down before him,
28 for dominion belongs to the Lord
    and he rules over the nations.

29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
    all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
    those who cannot keep themselves alive.
30 Posterity will serve him;
    future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness,
    declaring to a people yet unborn:
    He has done it!

Did you notice that all of the bolded sections describe the crucifixion, and this Psalm declares the greatness of God and His salvation.

This not only shows how Jesus fulfilled prophecy and the Law, but it shows the importance of the Old Testament.

We may not always refer to things as has always been done, but we are not too different from those in the past.

We may use numbers to refer to ancient songs, but we are better prepared to understand the connection between them and the gospel message.

Now, join me in Track 119, a psalm of praise to God for His Word!