Thursday, July 4, 2013

God's Yellow Pages

God’s Yellow Pages
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Monday, May 20, 2013

The Disciplines of a godly man.

Men, we will never get anywhere in life without discipline, and doubly so in spiritual matters. None of us is inherently righteous, so Paul’s instructions regarding spiritual discipline in 1 Timothy 4:7-8 take on personal urgency: “Train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”
That word “train” comes from the Greek word from which we derive gymnasium. So, I invite you into God’s Gym—to some pain and great gain!

1) Discipline of Purity

A) Sensuality is the biggest obstacle to godliness among Christian men. The fall of King David should not only instruct us but scare the sensuality right out of us! Fill yourself with God’s Word—memorize passages like 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8, Job 31:1, Proverbs 6:27, Ephesians 5:3-7, and 2 Timothy 2:22. Find someone who will help you keep your soul faithful to God.
B) A pure mind is impossible if you mindlessly watch TV and movies or visit pornographic web sites (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7). Develop the divine awareness that sustained Joseph: “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9).

2) Discipline of Relationships

A) To be all God wants you to be, put some holy sweat into your relationships! If you’re married, you need to live out Ephesians 5:25-31: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (v. 25). For those who are fathers, God provides a workout in one pungent sentence: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
B) Relationships are not optional (Hebrews 10:25); they enable us to develop into what God wants us to be and most effectively learn and live God’s truth.

3) Discipline of Mind

A) The potential of possessing the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16) introduces the scandal of today’s church—Christians who do not think Christianly, leaving our minds undisciplined. The Apostle Paul understood this well: “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8). Each ingredient is a matter of personal choice.
B) You can never have a Christian mind without reading the Scriptures regularly because you cannot be influenced by that which you do not know.

4) Discipline of Devotion

A) Reading God’s Word is essential, but meditation internalizes the Word and responds, “I desire to do your will, O my God” (Psalm 40:8). Beyond instructions like Ephesians 6:18-20, there is one great reason to pray. The more we expose our lives to the white-hot sun of Christ’s righteous life, the more his image will be burned into our character. 
B) Many men never have an effective devotional life because they never plan for it; most men are afraid of it, and they never honestly expose their lives to his pure light. There is nothing to fear, we need to leave that fear at the foot of the cross of Christ! 

5) Discipline of Integrity

A) We can hardly overstate the importance of integrity to a generation of believers so much like the world in ethical conduct. But integrity’s benefits—character, a clear conscience, deep intimacy with God—argue its importance.
B) We must let God’s Word draw our lines of conduct. Our speech and actions must be intentionally true (Proverbs 12:22; Ephesians 4:15), backed by the courage to keep our word and stand up for our  godly convictions (Psalm 15:4). An old saying sums it up: “Sow an act, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a character. Sow a character, reap godliness.”(1)

6) Discipline of Tongue

A) “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless” (James 1:26). The true test of a man’s spirituality is not his ability to speak, but rather his ability to bridle his tongue!
B) Offered to God on the altar, the tongue has awesome power for good. There must be an ongoing prayerfulness and resolve to discipline ourselves: “Who keeps the tongue doth keep his soul.”(2)

7) Discipline of Work

A) We meet God, the Creator, as a worker in Genesis 1:1–2:2. Since “God created man in his own image” (1:27), the way we work will reveal how much we allow the image of God to develop in us.
B) There is no secular/sacred distinction; all honest work ought to be done to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). We must recover the biblical truth that our vocation is a divine calling and thus be liberated to do it for the glory of God.

8 ) Discipline of Perseverance

Hebrews 12:1-3 presents a picture of perseverance in four commands.
A) Divest! “Lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely” (v. 1a). That includes besetting sin, and anything else that hinders.
B) Run! “…with endurance the race that is set before us” (v. 1b). Each of us can finish our race (see also 2 Timothy 4:7).
C) Focus! “Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (v. 2). There never was a millisecond that he did not trust the Father.
D) Consider! Our life is to be spent considering how Jesus lived (v. 3).

9) Discipline of Church

A) Yes you have to go to church. It is the means of grace that brings someone closer to Christ. Faithful, consistent church attendance is required of God's people because God has commanded it. None of God's commands are to be taken lightly or to be considered as optional. God is our Master, our Owner, our Ruler, and as such we ought to respectfully obey His commandments.

B) You will never attain your full spiritual manhood, nor will your family reach its spiritual maturity without commitment to the church. Find a good WELS church that has it's priorities for YOUTH MINISTRY at the top of it's priority list. (Sunday school, or K-8 school is great, but that's not what I'm talking about. Commit you and your family to it's membership wholeheartedly. Your participation should include financial support, but it should also include giving your time, talents, expertise, and creativity to the glory of God.

10) Discipline of Giving

A) How can we escape the power of materialism? By giving from a heart overflowing with God’s grace, like the believers in Macedonia who “gave themselves first to the Lord” (2 Corinthians 8:5): this is where grace giving must begin.
B) Giving disarms the power of money. Though giving should be regular, it should also be spontaneous and responsive to needs. And it should be joyous—“God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). And Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

As we sweat out the disciplines of a godly man, remember, with Paul, what energizes us to live them out—“not I, but the grace of God that is with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10).

      Thursday, April 18, 2013

      How Is Your Marriage?

      How Is Your Marriage?
      Step 1: Self Evaluation

      “How am I really doing in my marriage?”
      If you were to grade yourself on how responsive and loving you are in your marriage what would that grade be?
      Rate yourself with an A–B–C–D–F scale, (feel free to use “+” or “–”).
      What grade would you assign for YOURSELF in each of the following areas of your marriage?

      ___ How affectionate are you?
      ___ How romantic?
      ___ How physically desirable?
      ___ How generous?
      ___ How trusting?
      ___ How kind are you?
      ___ How much fun are you to be around?
      ___ How emotionally present are you around your mate?
      ___ How physically present are you around your mate?
      ___ How sensitive and compassionate are you to your mate’s feelings?
      ___ How good a listener are you with your partner?
      ___ How emotionally nurturing are you?
      ___ How physically nurturing?
      ___ How financially nurturing?
      ___ How much of a friend are you to your intimate partner?
      ___ How in control of your negative emotions are you, such as anger,
             volatility, insecurity, jealousy, anxiety, fear and mistrust?
      ___ Showing your mate that you value him/her.
      ___ How affectionate and physically tender are you?
      ___ How affectionate and physically tender are you without ulterior motives?
      ___ How responsive and accommodating are you to what your partner says
            she/he wants or needs?
      ___ How financially responsible and accountable are you?
      ___ How respectful are you of your partner?
      ___ Overall, how much effort do you give to your relationship?
      ___ Your level of commitment to the relationship.
      ___ Your flexibility and receptivity to other ways of seeing or doing things.
      ___ Your willingness to address difficult issues or deal with conflicts
      ___ Your willingness and ability to engage in a disagreement wisely and
      ___ Your overall attitude in the relationship.
      ___ Your sense of humor.
      ___ The division of chores, roles, responsibilities, duties.
      ___ Behaving, thinking and planning as a couple rather than as two
      ___ The time, attention, effort, skill and patience you bring to parenting.
      ___ How you operate as a team player in the relationship.
      ___ Your ability and willingness to make up after a fight or a disagreement.

      Step 2: Humble Yourself

      Take the questions you just answered and ask your spouse to grade you as a marriage partner using the same questions.
      Then schedule 1-2 hours where they share their answers and you simply listen.

      This might just be the most difficult and most rewarding exercise you have ever done.
      Step 3: Intimacy Survey

      Intimacy is never about the absence of conflict. It is about the presence of a deep connection emotionally, relationally, and spiritually.
      Take this quiz to find out:

      Do you get angry a lot with your mate, even over small things?

      Do you tend to be mistrusting, only to discover that your mistrust is largely groundless?

      Are you frequently sarcastic?

      Are you having an affair, or do you have a history of affairs?

      Do you tend to focus on your mate’s shortcomings or bad traits more than his/her good traits?

      Do you berate your spouse for making mistakes, and do you use mistakes as leverage against him/her?

      Do you have the tendency of pushing away intimacy and closeness when it’s offered to you, but then wanting it when it’s not offered?

      Have you been accused by your partner—or by a previous partner—of being emotionally unavailable or remote?

      Are you insecure?

      Do you have a difficult time trusting?

      Do you tend to be emotionally hidden in your relationships, fearing that you’ll be discovered as somehow inadequate or fraudulent?

      Do you not have close friends other than your spouse or family?

      Do you have a fear of being controlled, of losing your identify or your “selfhood”?

      Do you have a fear of getting rejected, abandoned or betrayed in a relationship?

      Do you tend to put your mate in second or third position a lot?

      Are you very critical or judgmental?

      Do you take constructive criticism from your mate poorly?

      Do you have a strong fear of being negatively judged or criticized?

      Do you have a fear of being too vulnerable in a relationship?

      Has your mate ever described you as emotionally standoffish, armored or hard to be close to?

      Do you have a history of repeatedly getting involved with emotionally standoffish, disapproving or angry people?

      Do you tend to get mean, punitive or vindictive when you’re upset?

      Do you tend to give money or sex to show your love, instead of compassion, friendship or emotional closeness?

      Do you have a pattern of not emotionally risking a lot or of not giving your intimate relationships a whole lot of effort?

      Do you have a pattern of withdrawing or emotionally withholding yourself a lot?

      Do you tend to put work above all else?

      Do you drink too much, watch too much TV, worry too much or have an addiction to any substances, including food?

      Do you sometimes push your partner away because you don’t wish to be dependent or beholden?

      Do you have the vague sense that you repeatedly sabotage love?

      If you answered “yes” to 10 or more of these questions, you are emotionally walled off.
      If you answered “yes” to more than 15 of these questions, your wall is so thick and impenetrable that the chances of you having a close loving relationship are dramatically diminished.

      All of these questions are designed by marital research expert, John Gottman, Ph.D.

      Tuesday, April 2, 2013

      Thank you to St John's Lutheran Church Wauwatosa

        Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
      - Philippians 4:6

        No one will care how much you know, until they know how much you care.

      bulletTheme For This Week's Readings

              Text: John 11:25-26
              Theme: Easter = Contentment

      For the people of God, the Festival of the Resurrection of our Lord needs little introduction. This morning we gather to hear the glorious news that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead. Because he lives, we will live…forever. And because our Lord has triumphed over the grave, “alleluia” makes a triumphant return to our worship today after a six-week absence during Lent and Holy Week. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

      THE FIRST LESSON: Isaiah 12:1-6
      Isaiah leads us in an Easter song of praise. We sing to the LORD
      with joyful and contented hearts because of what he has done for us this day.

      THE SECOND LESSON: 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
      St. Paul gives an excellent summary of our Christian faith. Christ Jesus lived, died, and rose again for us. He appeared to many people, proving that he had indeed risen from the dead and is our Savior.

      THE GOSPEL LESSON: Luke 24:1-12
      The first witnesses of the empty tomb were the women who went to anoint Jesus’ body with spices. The angels announced to them the great good news: “He is not here; he has risen!” They, in turn, told the disciples – who were not immediately convinced that Christ had indeed risen.

      (numbered hymns are from "Christian Worship" unless otherwise noted)

                              156 - Awake, My Heart, With Gladness
                     341 (v. 3) - Crown Him with Many Crowns
                              160 - This Joyful Eastertide
                              158 - I Am Content! My Jesus Lives Again
         152 (vs. 1,2,6,7,8) - I Know that My Redeemer Lives

      Readings for the Week of Easter

      M       Acts 10:34-43
                Luke 24:13-35
      T        Acts 13:16a, 26-33
                Luke 24:36-47
      W       Acts 3:12-20
                John 21:1-14
      TH      Acts 8:26-40
                Matthew 28:16-20
      F        1 Peter 3:18-22
                John 20:11-18
      S        1 Peter 2:1-10
                John 20:1-9

      Holy Saturday

      Holy Saturday
      March 30, 2013

      Write down your thoughts about the verses:

      Lamentations 3:1-9, 19-24_________________________________________

      Psalm 31:1-4 ______________________________________________
      1 Peter 4:1-8____________________________________________________

      Matthew 27:57-66__________________________________________

      Holy Week invites us into a world full of betrayal, abandonment, mockery, violence, and ultimately death. Those three sacred days which constitute one unfolding liturgy, call us to experience communion, loss, and the border spaces of unknowing. In my opinion Holy Saturday is a personal invitation for the believer while at home to make a conscious passage through the liminal realm of in-between.
      The wide space of Holy Saturday that lingers between the suffering and death of Jesus and His  For me, Holy Saturday evokes much about the human condition—the ways we are called to let go of things or people, identities or securities and then wonder what will rise up out of the ashes of our lives. 
      The suffering that we experience because of pain or grief or great sorrow and we don't know if we will ever grasp joy again. Much of our lives rest in that space between loss, hope, and that awesome gift of Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

      Monday, March 25, 2013

      Holy Week Family Devotion

      Family Devotion for Holy Week

      The sign of the cross T may be made by all in remembrance of our Baptism.

      Family - In the name of the Father and of the T Son and of the Holy Spirit.
      Amen.Matthew 28:19b; [18:20]

      Dad - If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

      Family - But if we confess our sins, God, who is faithful and just, will forgive our
      sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:8–9

      Silence for reflection on God’s Word and for self-examination.

      Dad - Let us then confess our sins to God our Father.

      Family - Most merciful God, we confess that we are by nature sinful and unclean. We
      have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved You with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We justly deserve Your present and eternal punishment. For the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in Your will and walk in Your ways to the glory of Your holy name. Amen.

      Dad - In the mercy of almighty God, Jesus Christ was given to die for us, and for His sake God forgives us all our sins. To those who believe in Jesus Christ He gives the power to become the children of God and bestows on them the Holy Spirit. May the Lord, who has begun this good work in us, bring it to completion in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
      John 1:12; Philippians 1:6

      Family - Amen.

      READING - from the Book of Exodus 12:1-8,11-14

      Dad -: There is no week more important no time of the year that
      re-orients our life, work, and faith towards Christ than this week. 
      We pray for God to send the Holy Spirit to increase the awareness
      in the hearts of those who believe, and those who choose not to 
      believe in Jesus. We have begun our Holy Week observances. 
      We have celebrated Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and watched the
      mood change from joy to sadness and fear. Yet in
      hope, we present our needs before our God.

      Family – Lord hear our prayer

      Mom -: For Christian people everywhere...At the beginning of
      this Holy Week we pray for all our Christian sisters
      and brothers that we may follow the example of Jesus,
      who emptied himself for us that we might learn to be
      of service to all.

      Family - Lord, hear our prayer.

      Lindsey -: For those who suffer for what they believe in Jesus.
      We pray for those in our world who, like Jesus, are unjustly
      persecuted. By our prayers and actions, may we be in
      solidarity with those who suffer for justice and truth.

      Family - Lord, hear our prayer

      Dad -: For a sense of peace in the midst of suffering...May we
      be granted the gift of inner peace when we experience
      pain at the hands of others. And may Christians
      everywhere support those who are suffering by our
      prayers, compassion, and love.

      Family -: Lord, hear our prayer

      Mom -: For a fruitful observance of Holy Week… May we use
      this week well for reflection and prayer, for renewal
      and repentance, for acts of charity, and for worship,
      and sharing.

      Family - Lord, hear our prayer

      Dad - Lord, remember us in Your kingdom and continue to teach us to pray:

      Family - Our Father who art in heaven,
      hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come,
      Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven;
      give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us
      our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass
      against us; and lead us not into temptation, but
      deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom
      and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
      Matthew 6:9–13

      Family - Amen

      Thursday, February 14, 2013

      Grudge holding

      Six Goals of Satan in Getting You to Hold Grudges

      Perhaps it starts with hurt feelings over what was said, another’s actions, or even a lack of response. We mull it over, and over. It festers in our gut. Our spirit can be crushed. We can get hard feelings about the person that we feel offended us. Perhaps those hurt want to get “even” at the other person. Before long, hurt feelings can lead to a host of other actions, including slander against the offending person, or avoidance of that person.

      The hurt accomplished may not even be recognized by the offender. They may not even have a clue as to how one is reacting to their remarks or actions; yet the offendee’s bitterness digs deeper and deeper into their life.
      Holding a grudge against another can be so devastating to some that it affects their health. Anger can be a result of bitterness. When angry, adrenaline and other hormones are released into the bloodstream, causing high blood pressure and a faster beating heart. Depression, ulcers, heart attack, and stroke have also been linked to those that are controlled by the stress of bitterness and unforgiveness. Not forgiving, and not attempting to forget the offense, can also lead people to do or say things to the offender that they would never think of doing or saying.

      A) Personal Story

      1) 1. To Make Us Put Ourselves in the Place of God
      Ever since Genesis 3 Satan's goal has been to make us put ourselves in the place of God. "When you eat of the fruit of the tree your eyes will be opened and you will be like God." Nothing helps in holding a grudge like thinking too highly of ourselves. The more exalted we are in our own eyes, the more justified we will feel in holding a grudge against the person who offended us. If Satan can succeed in making a grudge feel natural or justified, he will have gone a long way toward his goal of making us put ourselves in the place of God.

      2. To Make Us Act as If We Are Judge, Not God
      Satan aims to make us act as if we were judge and not GodRomans 12:19 says, "Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but give place to wrath, for it is written: Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord. No, if your enemy is hungry feed him." If we hold a grudge, we act as though God were not a just judge. We act as though we are the moral guardians of the world and if we don't hold this wrong against this person, it's going to slip away into oblivion and a great injustice will go unrequited. But this is sheer unbelief. Vengeance belongs to God. He will repay. It is his business not ours. So again holding a grudge puts us in the place of God—just where Satan wants us.

      3. To Make the Cross of Christ Look Weak and Foolish
      Satan aims to make the cross of Christ look weak and foolish. Notice Ephesians 4:32–5:2. "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God as beloved children. And walk in love as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us." The power that frees us from holding grudges is that in the cross of Christ God satisfied his grudge against us and dropped it. So Paul says, forgive as God in Christ forgave you. When we hold a grudge, we cancel out the cross. We act as though God did a foolish thing on the cross, since he dropped his infinite grudge against us, but we are going to hold on to our little grudge against so and so. And thus Satan brings the cross of Christ into contempt.

      4. To Cultivate Disunity in the Body of Christ
      Satan aims to cultivate disunity in the body of Christ so that the grand evidence for Christ's divine reality is shattered. Proverbs 15:18 says, "A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention." Short tempers and long grudges breed strife and disunity in the church. But in John 17:23 Jesus said that unity in the church is a great evidence to the world of his reality. So if Satan can preserve and deepen grudges among God's people, he will have achieved a great goal—the hiding of Christ's reality from the world.

      5. To Crush Broken Christians into Depression
      Satan aims to crush broken Christians until they are depressed into uselessness. Paul tells about an instance of church discipline at Corinth in which the offending party repented. Paul counsels in 2 Corinthians 2:7, "So you should turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you reaffirm your love for him." The burdens of life are so great at times that someone's grudge against us can be the straw that breaks the camel's back. You can destroy a person by holding a grudge against them—the very work of Satan from the time of Cain and Abel.

        6. To Help You Destroy Yourself
        Finally, by holding a grudge Satan will help you destroy yourself. Satan always throws away his tools in the end. He promises the moon and delivers misery. When the unforgiving servant was thrown into jail, Jesus said to his disciples, "So also my heavenly Father will do to you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart."

      How did I get here?

      A) Pair/Share
        1) Identify a situation of an offense.________________________________________________
          1. How did you handle it? ___________________________________________________

      3) What did you do to resolve it?___________________________________________ _

      * When we speak, we speak out of what is in our hearts.
      Matt. 12:34 is where Jesus said that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.

      Time + Relationship = Influence

      How do you do that? Our Savior fought off temptation with scriptures. That is the only remedy for any battle. When the thought enters your mind, repeat a verse, hopefully one that is about the sin you are tempted with and quote it repeatedly.
      A) The First Temptation
      Satan tried to place doubt in the mind of Jesus with the words "If you are the Son of God." Matthew shows that the devil came at the end of Jesus' fast.

      The Trap
      The real peril lay in Satan's proposed reason for creating bread. That reason being "If you are the Son of God." Satan was challenging Christ's credentials.

      Jesus immediately perceived the real danger, and responded with a passage from Deuteronomy 8:3. But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'" - Matthew 4:4

      B) The Second Temptation
      Satan took Jesus to Jerusalem to stand on the temple. There Satan challenged Jesus to throw himself down.

      Satan quotes scripture
      Having lost the first challenge, Satan appeals to scripture by quoting Psalm 91:11-12. When isolated from other passages, this proposal seems reasonable. If Jesus were God's Son, then scripture promised to save Him.

      Jesus Responds
      Deceptively, Satan tried inciting Jesus to test the Scripture. Jesus addressed the real issue by quoting Deuteronomy 6:16. Jesus said to him, "On the other hand it is written, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'" - Matthew 4:7

      C) The Third Temptation
      Since no mountain stands high enough to view all the world's kingdoms, it's likely that Satan exercised some supernatural power to show Christ "all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time" (Luke 4:5).

      Satan's authority
      Jesus did not question Satan's authority to grant the world's kingdoms. Bear in mind, however, that Jesus did not directly address Satan's apparent deceptions in the first two temptations. Either Satan possessed this authority, or he was validating his reputation as "the father of lies" (John 8:44). In either case, Satan's authority was not the issue. His suggestion violated the first commandment, "You shall have no other gods before Me" (Exodus 20:3).

      Jesus Responds
      Matthew 4:10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only

      Action Plan

      1. Recognize the temptation holding a grudge
      1. Utilize God's Word for guidance and strength
      2. Respond through Christ.

      It is hard to harbor thoughts of darkness and sin, when your mind is flooded with light!

      John 8:12"Again therefore Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life.”