When Convenience & Comfort Are an Idol

Our hot water heater has been out since last Saturday leaving us with no hot water. While it’s been a drag to have to deal with, I have to remember that most of the world’s population have no such conveniences.

This is my wife’s latest blog post giving a great perspective check on how we think about our modern conveniences and personal comfort.

Sojourner Between Worlds

We too easily take things for granted in this modern world that we live in, with all its technological advances and time-saving machines and gadgets. Electricity, running water, hot water: all things that are a normal part of our lives these days, yet not everyone in the world has access to these conveniences. When we lose this convenience, our reaction can show how it has become an idol.

Our hot water heater went out last Saturday. Because we have a home warranty from purchasing this home in February, we have to go through the home warranty company to get it fixed. The technician came out Monday and recommended we get a new hot water heater. This is not the first time we’ve had trouble with the heater since we moved in earlier this year. However, in spite of the technician’s recommendation to the warranty company, they are having parts ordered…

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Contentment in the Midst of Chaos

by Debi Martin of the Sojourner Between Worlds blog.

This is my life right now.

boxes

Boxes, boxes, everywhere! Due to some family needs, we are moving from our home in Michigan to live near family in Pennsylvania. We are in the process of selling our condo, which is stressful, as anyone who has ever bought or sold a home can attest to. At the same time we are also packing up in preparation for movers to come at the end of December and put most of our stuff in storage. We will live with family temporarily while looking for a new place in Pennsylvania. So there are decisions as to what to put in storage, what do we think we’ll need in the meantime, not knowing how long it will take to find and buy a new home.

It’s easy (and probably natural) at times like these to look ahead and think, “Oh, I can’t wait until we have our new place and can be moved in and settled again, with life back to somewhat normal.” Until then life is chaotic and uncertain, living half out of boxes and suitcases. It’s hard to feel relaxed and content in the midst of all that is going on. But we are not meant to live our lives in the “Oh, when such and such happens, then I can relax and all will be well.” We aren’t meant to live in the future “someday”. We are called to live in the here and now, the everyday chaos, the half packed boxes around us. What better picture of this life being temporary? This is not our final destination. A new heaven and earth await us, where there will be no more chaos, no more stress, no more sin. Even when things settle down and there is a new normal, this is still not our final home. We are to hold this life loosely, ever realizing that this is temporary. We are sojourning between worlds, as this blog is called. So as I live in the midst of chaos, God can use this to remind me not to be looking for a future settled home here on this earth, but a future home in the new heaven and earth that awaits me when Christ returns. Until then I must live each day to glorify God and proclaim Jesus Christ.

My life is but a weaving — A Poem

This is a poem of unknown authorship, though it’s been attributed to several people. It was made popular by Corrie ten Boom in her book, The Hiding Place.

My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.

Oft times He weaveth sorrow
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.

Not til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.

He knows, He loves, He cares
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.

Digging Up Stumps—A letter from a missionary to the pastor of a supporting church

I don’t usually just post a link to another blog as my blog post—especially when my blog post title seems longer than the post itself—but you should really read this, especially if you’re a pastor or part of a missions team or committee at your church.

In fact, if you are interested in missions at all (and that should include all true followers of Christ), please take a couple of minutes to read this post from The Missions Blog by SEND International.

Click the picture (or here) to read the post.

By the way… What Part of the Worship Service is Not Worship?

Photo: Ricardo Camacho

Photo: Ricardo Camacho

One of the 15 Worship Decisions We’ll Regret, according to this article, is…

“Making worship and music exclusively synonymous.”

What that means is that many people refer to the musical portion of a worship service “worship” to the exclusion of the other parts of the service. How many times have you heard someone say in a worship service something like, “We have some announcements to make and then we’ll get back to worship.” By worship they mean music, of course.

I really wish leaders would stop doing this. Which part of a worship service would you be willing to say is NOT worship? Anything that is not worship should not be included in the worship service. That includes the sermon, the giving of offerings, prayer, testimonies, and even announcements. All of these elements, along with music, are to be done in a worshipful manner and are a part of worship.

If you asked the leader that uses “worship” to mean “music” if they think that other parts of the service are not worship, they will probably say they don’t think that. If pressed they may even agree that all parts of the worship service are worship. So why use “worship” in a way that is misleading and that takes away from the rich meaning of the term?

But, really, it shouldn’t even stop with the worship service. I heard someone say that for a Christian, worship is coextensive with life. Nothing in our lives should be done in a manner that is not done to the glory of God. Whatever we do should be done with worshipful hearts: our work, doing the dishes, playing sports, and, of course, singing.

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
1 Corinthians 10:31

Disturb Us, Lord — A Prayer

Disturb Us, Lord
—Sir Frances Drake (ca. 1540-1596)

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wilder seas
Where storms will show Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

We ask you to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push back the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

This we ask in the name of our Captain,
Who is Jesus Christ.

The Blessings of 2013: Joys and Hardships

Wow! This coming Wednesday will be the start of 2014. It’s amazing how time seems to go faster and faster as I get older. That’s a cliché to be sure, but it also forces itself into blatant clarity with each New Year.

As I look back at 2013, I see the usual ups and downs that any year brings. There have been times of happiness and times of sadness. There have been times of success and times of failure. There have been times of victory and times of defeat. We’ve made a few new friends, grown closer to friends we already had, and had to say goodbye to some others. Debi and I celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary and commemorated the 1st anniversary of the loss of a beloved pet.

This year has also brought some less usual ups and downs for us.

We were able to attend several wonderful theological and apologetics conferences in 2013. These included the annual dinner put on by Embrace The Truth International, the Apologetics Book Release event at Oakland Christian Academy with Dr. Norm Geisler, the Reliability of the Scriptures event with Dr. Norm Geisler and Dr. Ron Rhodes, and the two-day Sola13 conference in Lansing, MI with Dr. John Piper and many other excellent speakers. This was a great year for conferences.

In the area of spiritual enrichment, my study of Luke’s gospel account with Chris Samuel has been a huge boost. Chris has kept me on track with studying the Bible and has challenged me spiritually and in the area of moral accountability. This is a primary means of spiritual growth for me. I strongly encourage every man and woman to meet regularly with an accountability and Bible study partner.

This year has also included much loss and difficulty for us and our families. Debi lost both of her grandmothers during 2013. Both of my parents have been diagnosed with very serious health issues. We applied for membership with SEND International with great excitement, expecting our lives to take a major turn in that direction, but earlier this month we were turned down.

So, 2013 has been chock full of highs and lows. We’re not sure what 2014 will bring. It promises to start off with the continued difficulty of my parents’ health and some possible financial difficulties for us, but nothing else is clear.

Well, that’s not exactly true.

We know for sure that, because we’re both actively following Jesus, we continue to be secure in the grace and love of our Lord. We know that the spiritual growth God has started in our lives, he’ll continue to perfect, sometimes through hardships. We know that God will continue to use us as he sees fit in the areas of missions, apologetics, discipleship, and other areas that only he knows.

We know that he’ll continue to hold us up, give us the strength necessary to serve him, and accomplish his will in our lives. This is especially true as we follow hard after him. We know that we can cast all of our cares on him, because he’s intimately aware and concerned for every minute detail of our lives; he loves us both that much.

We know that God will bring us safely through whatever hardships we face in life. We know that, in him, we have a joy that is beyond expression, even when all of life seems to crumble around us. We know that, because our citizenship is not with any nation of this world but is in Heaven, when he does decide to take us out of here, we have a home waiting for us with him.

In this world we have trouble. That’s a promise given to us by Jesus himself, and it’s become more evident to us in 2013 than in years past, and it looks to continue to be true for us in 2014. But he has also promised us that he has overcome the world, and through that promise Debi and I can serve him daily regardless of life’s troubles.

I am truly thankful, as this year comes to a close, that I am a child of the King. I am thankful that God has given me Debi as a life partner with whom I can serve, suffer, and celebrate. I’m thankful that God has promised us that he will never leave us to deal with life’s difficulties alone. I’m thankful that God promises us everyday that he will be with us through the surging waters of this turbulent life. And I’m especially thankful that there’s a home waiting for us at the end of this life, because he has sent his Son to save us from the bondage of sin, and because we’ve trusted in that.