Sunday, October 25, 2009

Wanna Finish Well? Sure You Do!



As two very ordinary peeps living in a big city, Liney and I have been doing lots of ordinary practical things lately. We're doing real well, just mainly tending to the basic things of maintaining life as we continue to pursue an ongoing joyous relationship with our extraordinary wonderful Savior. He makes life exciting even when it's fairly simple. These days we seem to be enjoying Him more and more in the little things that many people might find mundane or routine. He is there near you as well and cares. It's been an interesting adventure for us at times. Can hardly wait to see what He has in store next! How has life been for you lately?

We have received a few invitations to come minister overseas (still trying to figure out how to make it all work with our schedules etc. Really wanna go and give but do still need some prayer for that stuff to happen). When, the Lord wants us to go somewhere ..which has required some foot-work and planning in the past.. He always seems to work out the details for us and we've always felt so radically thankful when He has done that. Is it on our minds and in our prayers as well as those old friends we have there? You know it ..as well as being a good witness now, right here with our neighbors is! Liney loves to go visit people down the block here too and she often takes me and the dog along with her.  

We've had a few wonderful guests come over to our house to visit us recently, and last night after my great friend named Mike took off, we pretty much finished off putting in some oak wood stairs at our house.. which is kind of like therapy almost. That's some simple fun for sure! I love working with wood and building stuff, but I'm not much of a carpenter to tell the truth.

Liney is very creative though and she is.. every month ..working hard and busy baking beautiful wedding and birthday cakes.. cookies and pies for all kinds of people she knows. Many of them are her coworkers at the Cooper Clinic. She also loves working out in the garden a lot and even gets me busy with her. Did I tell you about the beautiful purple leaf ash tree I planted. The leaves are just now changing color!

I do miss seeing my folks and relatives.. again ..and seeing the Pacific Ocean out West where I grew up. Gotta get out to California again. There's so many healthy, exciting churches and creative easy going friends out there too.

Just happened to meet the singer, John Legend, today (a friend just told me about him cuz sadly.. I didn't know who he was or how talented he is as I was talking with him), who is here in town with former Dallas Cowboy running back Tony Dorsett (a real nice semi-short guy with a humorous and not so short self image. I've had the privilege to talk with him a couple times over the years - used to take care of his FAST Porsche in the '80s when I was a hard working Bible student) and with Martin Luther King III (who literally had four undercover Dallas police bodyguards with him). Mr. King is of course the eldest son of the famous civil rights leader that I'm sure you've seen films about. It's pretty interesting for me to read about his son's  upbringing in Vine City, a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. I wonder what it was like back in those days of protesting and so much racial tension. There's sadly still to much of that around in the South, but I tell people here how Jesus is the real solution for racial reconciliation. Heaven will soon be such a wonderful place for people of every background and we each can all choose to enjoy a foretaste of that glory and harmony here as we walk close with Christ. I admit I don't know much of what Mr. King III lives for or believes in ..so I much read on some to find out. But did you know he was only ten years old when his dear father was tragically assassinated for his convictions of equality for all? What a very sad day in America when we lost him!

Anyways, these guys just took off for the game at the new Cowboy Stadium. The "Boys" are playing the Atlanta Falcons today and they, minus Mr Dorsett, being from Atlanta.. are zealous Falcon fans. We know the Cowboys even with lots of room for improvement will pull off a win though.

Wish I could be there with friends to watch that game today but parking is now $75 per car (Jerry has to pay for that building somehow). Maybe I'll see a little of it on TV later on. Of course Liney only pulls for the Denver Broncos, so she won't even be watching the game at home. She is currently staining the wood we laid down ..with a smile on. Now what do you enjoy watching and what are you up to? Do you like watching or playing football? My dad a former coach, who is a real committed UCLA Bruins fan, only likes to watch college football these days (they went to a Tea Party in LA today). How about you, are you a fan of a certain team this year? Do you like Tea Parties, wood work or gardening? 

Enough of my rambling on about all that. Here's a new devo I just did for ya and I pray that it will somehow uplift and really minister to you…

Finish Well!

Not enough is said these days about cultivating Christian character, about knowing the Lord intimately during a times of suffering (not that we should seek or desire suffering), about Hell and how to avoid it, about future judgment of the wicked ..(that we could help today if they became willing), about our battle against the fleshly nature and temptation.. about full no-compromise commitment and inner purity, about true love, about the beautiful Person and personality of Jesus Christ and about FINISHING WELL in Him. I love to be in the Lord and talk about getting things in order with Him! I love to discuss topics like these that are neglected by the Church and even unpopular ..that even get me in vigorous debate or in hot water with angry people at times. It keeps life fresh and stimulating for us to obey and meditate on what God says about such shoved-out-of-the-way things. Tozer once said "To be right with God has often meant to be in trouble with men." But it's very healthy to prayerfully muse over the Word regarding these things early. Yes, before life gets real hairy ..before the silver cord is loosed, or the bowl is broken or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain or the wheel broken at the well or the dust (you) returns to the earth (See Eccl. 12:6). I SO want to finish well. How 'bout you?

You know, I remember how I had to run in relay races as a small boy when I was attending Dunsmore Elementary School in California. I enjoyed running in different races, but my brother Kevin was always faster.

In any race the start was real important.. pace and endurance were also important factors, but so was how you finished your particular part of the race. The other runners were depending upon you to do your best, so you just had to come through for the whole team and for the team captain. As a Christian, we also have a Captain to serve doing our best.

We want to run keeping the rules and start in the will of God. If you start in Jesus, please finish right by His grace. Don't rely upon your own abilities, talent, savvy or whatever you've been gifted with.

When we talk about "finishing" (and this light e-musing here won't be exhaustive by any means..) we must remember that this is not merely a message for the elderly. It's also not merely a message for semi-graying ministers who perhaps are about to trade the spotlight season of their lives for a twilight season. It indeed for young people as well. Young people need to start praying now about how they will walk, serve and eventually end up. We've all got to make for the finish line in a spiritual manner.

Remember how aging Paul urged and encouraged young Tim, his original hearer back in the day when he penned Second Timothy, to, "…continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Tim. 3:14-17). It's so important to continue on to the finish line right!

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. ~Paul, 2 Timothy 4:7

We too can end the Christian race well, even if we began late, started slow, or faltered along the way. The secret is to stay true to Christ to the last moment. ~Haddon Robinson

Are you thoroughly equipped or currently getting yourself built up for every good work? Those words of Paul are good for you and me today huh. We Christians need to hold fast to what we've been taught. We need to hold to the good convictions that we've been given.. hold to our first Love (Christ) and His great evangelistic mandate for the Church. We need to hold together in unity for the benefit of all. Moffat used to speak a lot about this kinda stuff.

Paul went the distance praying to and worshipping the Lord with fresh passion. He fished for souls using the Word (vv. 2 & 5) his whole life through as a natural outgrowth of his devotion to Jesus and Paul wanted his son in the faith, Tim, to also do the same. And that's what I want for you and me!

These words of Paul make me kinda wanna ponder how Abe, the father of faith, finished his life real strong…

and how Joshua the conqueror of the land finished…

and how faithful Samuel the prophet finished…

and how Jesus our precious Lord finished…

and how James, the half brother of Christ finished…

and even how Billy Graham is finishing his race well.

Will you? The Apostle Paul basically told Tim to hang in there babe (he wasn't' really a babe in Christ—it's just my figure of speech). He challenged Tim and subsequently us to…

Continue in what you have learned (2 Tim. 3:14).

Become convinced of what you already know (v.15).

Place value on what God values and has revealed (v.16).

Allow the Truth of the Word [which is alive, active and sharp] to radically change you (v.17 ..that's my free translation if you will).

Yeah, you've got to believe that the Word ..as we find it in the Bible was transmitted to man supernaturally, with high accuracy!!! The Scriptures have supernatural origin, not natural and you've gotta know this in your knower. This is a watershed issue of every generation—it will effect how we each make our decisions!

The Bible wasn't written to you, but for you. We've first got to ask what it would have meant to the original hearers back in the day, and then ask what the eternal truth is for us in our day, to properly apply. The Scriptures came from God through human authors supernaturally ..who recorded it without error. Yes, even the order of the words were recorded without error! God overshadowed all this, cuz He is big enough to handle all that for us. He is sovereign. Pretty cool huh! That's what we need today..

* Revelation (this is not some unclear message for a privileged few in some priesthood, or a message logged in some unclear Latin that I can't ever grasp.. or in some unknown written language that none of us can understand. God wants us to understand His will and Word).

* Inspiration (this speaks of the receiving of what was recorded by the writers for the Church [the accepted Canon]).

* Illumination (That's the work of the Holy Spirit to ignite and make clear God's Message, for the purpose of helping us understand and apply it. It's a personal spiritual thing so that you and I can be equipped, encouraged, and fully motivated to go do God's will out in the world).

Revelation, Inspiration, Illumination – all three were given supernaturally! The Bible is God's Revelation to man—it's profitable for your family and mine! And it doesn't have to be confusing at all. Many Christians speak of how they are having an experience where they're receiving "revelation knowledge" but after I hear them explain what is happening, we can tell that as they prayerfully study their Bibles, they are simply receiving illumination as the Holy Spirit applies it to their hearts personally. How exciting!    

"Those who make a lasting difference.. finish well. They don't merely start well, they finish well. They stay in the race all the way to the finish line. They endure. They persevere to the end. As one man put it, they sustain 'long obedience in the same direction.' This was Paul's great hope for Timothy, who had received a solid foundation that set him on his way—he started well. He had proved himself a faithful traveling companion and a loyal disciple of Paul for years—he maintained well. Both of these aspects were certainly commendable, but neither was enough; Timothy needed to finish well! How? The answer has everything to do with how greatly he values, how diligently he studies, how strongly he defends, and how personally he embraces and applies the God-breathed truth of Holy Scripture. What was true for Timothy is equally true for us: we will finish only as well as we stand for the Truth." ~Chuck Swindoll

You too can experience God's illumination for your life after you get in Christ. I know, that might kind of sound like religious jibberishness, but it simply means that you too, through repentance, faith and Jesus the Son of God, can become a real Christian who hears from the Lord. You see, God has no grandchildren, just children. You can't get into God's holy heaven one day just because you have Christian parents.

Have you been born again? You must be! Don't get mad at me for saying that. Those aren't my words—God's Word tells us this. Why? It's because none of us were born right the first time (See Jn. 3:3). Have ya gotten honest with the Lord about all this before—you know, gotten right with God through his sinless Son? This is way important above all else!

Listen up; it's true! You and I can finish our race well.. but not outside of having this vital relationship with Jesus Christ. You and I need intimacy with Him.. we need cooperation with the Holy Spirit, and a hunger for the Bible to finish well! May the Lord revive, restore, renew and help us to put first things first as we look to Christ the ultimate Finisher. He said "it is finished" when He hung there on that cross for us.

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