Monday, February 6, 2017

WORSHIP EVERYTHING - VALUE NOTHING

"That's LA. They worship everything and value nothing." - says Sebastian,  one of the lead characters in the movie La La Land.  And so we wonder what values will affect his and Mia's choices as they chase their dreams.

That quote by Sebastian still sticks in my mind and I wonder if that philosophical statement defines our world. Or the church. Or me.  For the church and you and me,  I hope not. I think every decision a person makes is driven by the values they hold, don't you? So I ask myself: what do I worship today and how does that affect my values?

Jesus said we are to worship God(only) and serve Him(only).  Luke 4:8   What do we see as we look around at our world, both near and far? What's gets worshipped:  possessions? family? jobs? finances? religion? etc. The dictionary says to worship is to honor, exalt, adore, glorify, idolize, follow, and more. I think when God is without question first and foremost in our lives, our worship and our values will be reflected by that.

I worship Jesus so I want to value what He values. For instance, He places value on the little ones. How little? When they have life. In my dentist's office I saw a chart by the National Dentist Association that was called a Chart of HUMAN (my emphasis) Dentition.  It showed when the teeth were first being developed in a baby's gums early in the womb. When I congratulated my dentist on being pro-life, he didn't know what to say. :)  Jesus places value on the elderly. An old man (Simeon) and an old woman (Anna) were among the first to recognize the Lordship of Jesus when he was taken to the temple to be dedicated. (Luke 2)

Read the Word. You will see that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit place value on all life. ALL LIFE! And do not discriminate. When I think about our country and the rest of the world, I see confusion, disarray, anger, discouragement, fear, etc.  So let's all look within ourselves. I don't want it said of me that I worship many things and value few things. Let us not have said of the church that it worships form but has no substance. Let's be people of the Word, but being very careful to divide it rightly. And let's bear the same fruit as Jesus did: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness ands self-control. Wow! Wow! Would that have an impact or what!

So back to La La Land. The ending is interesting. Whose dreams are we seeing: Sebastian's or Mia's? Or is it our dream. I wanted a better resolution at the end of the story but there didn't seem to be one. I wonder why I would hope for one. Up North Wisdom says that for the Christian believer, we know that there is a final resolution for this world and all of creation. All things will be restored, including relationships. God planned it from the foundation of the world. Christ's return is our wonderful, blessed and living hope! So in light of that, God help us to worship rightly and value rightly! And remember:  The Best Is Yet To Come!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

REAL CHRISTIANS -- NOT ACTORS

So many commercials today mention that the people in them are real people, not actors. One of the worst in my humble opinion is the Chevy commercial where the "not actors" react to the startling revelation about how great and awarded their certain vehicles are. At this point I have to change channels quickly until I know that commercial is over. You know what I'm talking about, don't you?By the way, each one gets paid a certain amount so that means they ARE actors.

Funny or irritating in commercials but not so in the Christian's life. The question is: are we real, authentic Christians or are we just actors, carrying the tag but not living the life as the Word directs. And do we really know what the priorities of the scriptures are? I have been challenged in my own life to dig deep into the Word of God to see just what it says to me about being a real Christian and not just an actor. Let me share some of the ones that have challenged me, especially in these times.

First:  Luke 10:27 says we must:  Love the the Lord our God with all our heart, all our soul, all our strength and all of our mind!  And: Love our neighbor as ourself! Wow!  And then Jesus was asked a question by one who I think was trying to figure out a way to get around this. He said to Jesus:  Who is my neighbor? Great question. And if you read the rest of the scripture about the good Samaritan we will understand that it is about anyone in great need: spiritual, physical, social and financial, etc.

You know what?  I think that starts with the church. With Christians. Let me explain. Jesus indicated that the world would know what real Christianity was by the love that Christians have for one another. (John 13:35) You know the old song: We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord......etc. So simple - so difficult. It's been discouraging to read so much in social media that is written by those claiming Christianity.

Look people - there are people that I know, love, care for, and respect.  Some voted for this candidate, some voted for that candidate and some even had the audacity to vote for another party candidate. :) I was kind of happy when someone told me they voted, period.  I see as much of the hand of the enemy of our souls working as I do the hand of God. Look, I can only speak for me. I can only judge myself and my motives. The Word is clear about judging and taking a peek at the beam in my eye. You know what I'm talking about.  Good Christians didn't vote for the right candidate and bad Christians for the wrong candidate.

My opinion:  the problems in our society aren't solved by any person in any public office; by any political party controlling any governing body.  I used to preach to teens in my youth pastor days on the book of James on the verse about listening much, talking little and not being an angry person. I would entitle the message;  Listen up, Lighten up and Shut up.  Church, Christians -  STOP BEING SO ANGRY. Look for ways to show the love of God to the world. There are so many ways if we (me) will look into the Word, listen to the Spirit and stay alert to the opportunities that abound right in front of us each and every day.

One example that I thought of as I watched the events of the past week:  When the author of the book, The Shack, was in his office one day, he look down on the street on a very hot day and saw protesters walking back and forth in front of his office building. He rounded up dozens of bottles of water and went down and passed them out to thirsty people, knowing that they were protesting him and his book. He didn't say who he was; he just reached out in the love of God and blessed each one in Jesus' Name.

Up North Wisdom says the world is thirsty for water that the world can't supply. Let's be dispensers of refreshing water and honestly ask God what we (me) can do to truly reach out to the lost, the hurting and the dying. And if you use social media, then be a voice of reason, peace, love, and hope and not a strident voice of anger, hate and despair. (and smug satisfaction of being in the right) There's enough of that already. I love the song that Sara Grooves sang some years back. The challenge in the song was to let the first song you sing each day be praise to your God and King. Good song, good advice.  My friends:  do you really believe that the best is yet to come? I have in the past and still do and nothing I see is going to get me to believe otherwise. GOD has been, still is and always will be in control. He knows what He is doing and I only may think I do. Hmmm.

More to come:   Blessings to you!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

TRUST

"Have I strength to go on waiting, or have any end to be looking forward to?" (Job 6:11)

Some of you right now may be thinking, "I just can't make it through another month".  Then put your trust in God and make it through another week. You may say, "I just can't make it through another week." Then put your trust in God and you can make it through another day.
You may say, "I just can't make it through another day." Then put your trust in God and make it through another hour.

Listen friends, God is still in control and he is still on the throne. I have read The Book. I know that what began with God will end with God. I have put my trust in that fact. How about you?

The cure for worry is spelled out very clearly in Philippians 4:4-7:  Verse 6 says, "Do not worry (be anxious) about ANYTHING, but in everything by prayer and coming to Him with thanksgiving, give your requests to God. Then you will experience God's peace which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."

Pray for the leadership of our country, our state and our community. It's really a command to do so in the Bible. Pray for direction in the upcoming elections. And then really, really trust God and be ready always to give an answer of the great hope you have in Jesus Christ to anyone who will listen.

God is in control. I say God is in control. Remind yourselves of that regularly. And remember friends, when you know and have a relationship with Christ -- The Best Is Yet To Come!












Friday, March 18, 2016

ELECTION THOUGHTS

John Bevere is a teacher and preacher that I greatly respect and has been a tremendous influence on how I think and believe about many topics. Authority is one of those. I have read and Jeanne and I have taught on his book, "Under Cover".  John wrote this letter to our church and many others as well. I present it to you for your consideration. I think of the words of Jesus:  "Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid."  Certainly at this time in our nation and world more than ever. From John Bevere:

It wasn't until God dealt with my bad attitude toward the outcome of past presidential elections that I began to focus on the authority of the president rather than his conduct. The revelation that nobody gets into power without His knowledge and that those in authority carry His appointment,  forever changed the way I view elections. I believe it can do the same for anyone with a receptive heart.

In the Bible, we see Christians were exhorted to honor kings by looking beyond their behavior and honoring their position of authority (1 Peter 2:17). If the church isn't lifting up our government with honor, can we expect this country and our ministries to experience a great move of God? Whether or not we agree with a candidate's political views, we can choose to honor our leaders and stand behind them in prayer instead of joining in on the disrespectful bashes. If not us, then who?

In my Under Cover Curriculum, I extensively discuss the best way to honor authority in civil, church, family, and social settings. When our hearts are submitted to God's Word and to authority, we will see churches come together and flourish under His promises. I encourage you to maximize your position by vocalizing your vote for this year, but do so in a way that honors all candidates. That way, your heart and the people's hearts that you lead will be in the right place -- regardless of who is elected.

Let's be a light in a dark world, and lead by example.   John Bevere

Up North Wisdom strongly recommends reading the book, Under Cover, and to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit as he speaks wisdom to you.  Here is a question for you and me: Are we spending the same amount of time praying for as we are complaining about the candidates. We are commanded to pray for those in authority over us. I fear there is a great lack of obeying that command.

My encouragement is to pray, pray, pray and pray ( as my mother exhorted ) and to vote (please vote) and then engage our world in a Godly and Scripture-directed way.  Let the church be the church!!

And I still believe -- The Best Is Yet To Come!



Thursday, March 12, 2015

Where Does My Mind Stay?

Well, Up North Wisdom is up and running again after a lengthy sabbatical. My wife Jeanne, and I entered a new phase of our lives that we prefer to call "refirement" instead of "retirement", a term used by one of her cousins. We love that word. Since Fall, we have adjusted to new rolls in our lives and well as new freedoms. We just returned from spending two months in Arizona and Florida. Both are beautiful in different ways but both offered much warmer temperatures than what the people in the north experienced.  It was good to go and it is good to be back in our own home. And we found that God is moving all across this country. I love being a part of His family, don't you?

Every night of the month of February that we spent in Florida, a verse from the Bible entered my mind and in my mind I repeated it over and over. I didn't even know what the scripture reference was until I looked it up to make sure it was accurate and it was. Isaiah 26:3 which reads like this:  "God will keep in perfect peace the one whose mind is stayed on Him because he trusts in Him".

Great verse and great truth. I am going to preach on this on April 19th at Living Hope Church. An advance warning.  :)  Let me just reflect on two words in this post -- perfect peace! Wow! If there was ever a time in our world where those words don't apply in our secular culture it's now. The world looks for political answers to peace and can't find them. And then we have God's Word that promises Perfect Peace. What is that?

Well, we know it's not what we are going to get in our world. Jesus said in the Gospel of John: "Peace I leave with you; MY peace I give to you. Not the peace that the world is looking for and can't find but the kind I give (Perfect Peace). So don't be troubled in your hearts and don't be afraid." How awesome is that! No one can grasp this until they experience it. One more verse from Philippians chapter 4: "Don't worry or be anxious about things. Instead pray with a thankful heart and give all those worries over to Him.  When you do that, God's peace, which is way beyond human understanding will guard your heart and mind through Jesus Christ." Hmmm, that is so good!

So friends, Up North Wisdom says start looking to the One who alone can bring real peace in the midst of troubling circumstances. Quit thinking that the right politics will bring answers to the problems that our world is dealing with. History has shown they can't.  Focus or refocus on your relationship with Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, and ask the Holy Spirit to reignite the fire of passion for God's Word and God's work. Pray instead of criticizing and complaining.  Friends, believe me when I tell you that The Best Is Yet To Come no matter what is happening at the moment if we will keep our minds stayed (focused) on God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son and the precious and powerful Holy Spirit. It's true.

Oh, one more thing:  Pray for our law enforcement officers. God bless them! They are being attacked in the press as well as by the law breakers in our world. They need our prayer and our support. The next time you see a police officer, thank him or her for serving our community and bless them! They really need our encouragement!

It's good to be back!!


Saturday, December 20, 2014

P-E-A-C-E

To those struggling and maybe even more at this time of the year, I paraphrase Aaron Rodgers with my own little twist -- P-E-A-C-E.  Just be at peace. Really?-- because it's a nice little catch phrase at this time of the year? No, because the Word of God is full of encouragement about being filled with peace. I guess God knew what we would struggle with, right?

It was basically the message God gave to Mary; to Joseph-twice; and to the shepherds.  Peace in a world full of turmoil? Really? Who knew? God's people hated their president (er: rulers, I mean) and wanted them out. With new leadership, they would finally be at peace. Right? Ah, no.

I've always loved the scripture quoted often at Christmas from Isaiah 9:6-7:   "For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end."  (NLT)

So why hasn't it happened yet. Where is the Prince of Peace promised to a troubled world - then and now? Oh, it will happen in a literal sense and probably sooner than most think. Even many Christians are weary of thinking of Christ coming again. Don't be friends. It will happen. The Bible guarantees it. But what about now you say. If we get the right President and the right government leaders in Washington, that will bring about what is really needed in our world. If all the enemies of the United States were eliminated, then we would have the peace we so desperately need. Right? Wrong!

The truth is you can have the peace that God's Word promises and you can have it right now. If Christmas tells us anything, it tells us that Jesus wants to come into your life even more deeply than He is now. He said, "My peace I give to you, not the peace that this world thinks it can give. Don't let your hearts be troubled; Believe and believe deeply."  JBV

Friends, listen to Up North Wisdom. It tells you that God wants you, yes you, to be His instrument of peace. Let others see Godly peace in your hearts, lives, families, circumstances and when they wonder how can it be, you tell them the answer for that peace, comfort, and joy.  To paraphrase a very old Christmas hymn:  God give you rest, merry men and women, and let nothing bring you to dismay and discouragement. REMEMBER CHRIST THE SAVIOR was born on Christmas day. To save us all from Satan's power (to bring fear, doubt and unbelief which leads to lack of peace) when we went astray (and didn't believe God's Word). O Wow, these are words of great comfort and joy and are meant to free all those who trust in Him  from the power of sin and fear.

I love it, don't you? And remember-yes, you know don't you? -- The Best Is Yet To Come! That is what Isaiah 9 is all about. Believe it. And a very Merry Christmas to all of you!!

Monday, December 1, 2014

R-E-L-A-X

I bought a T-shirt three weeks ago that had the logo that featured Aaron Rodger's now famous statement to fans after the Packers started the season at 1-2. He said on his radio show to anxious fans: "R-E-L-A-X. Just relax fans." And by the way, the Packers have been undefeated since I started wearing that t-shirt. So no washing and every Sunday wearing for now. Just saying.  :)

My wife Jeanne and I were in the car doing some shopping this morning and I couldn't help but notice the hurrying and scurrying around and the anger so many drivers seem to be displaying these days. I laughingly keep saying to these drivers: "R-E-L-A-X. Just relax."  You know what, I think that is a good saying not just to football fans but to people everywhere this holiday season and especially to Christians, too many of whom struggle with worry, anxiety, and fear.

Philippians 4 gives us all good words not just for the holiday season but all year long. And not just to the very troubled but to all Christians who just can't seem to get to that place in their lives where peace reigns even in troubled circumstances. " Don't worry or be anxious about so much. Instead learn to pray more and talk to the one who can really help you - God. Tell Him how you feel and ask for His help. Then thank Him even before you start to feel the great peace He will give you that will be like a guard around your troubled heart and mind.  And begin to make the change in the things you think about which bring you down. Think instead, with God's help, about things that are good and worthy of praise; things that are honorable and right and pure, beautiful and respected. When you do this more and more, God's peace will fill your mind and heart."   (Pastor Jerry's Version)

Jesus came that very first Christmas to bring peace into a troubled world. He still wants to do it but people must submit to the Word that says Jesus is the Way, Truth and Life --  the only way to the Father and eternal life!  Jesus said "My peace I give you; not the phony peace you hear about so much in the world today; Don't let your hearts be troubled or discouraged." (again the PJV)  So simple but we can make it so difficult. Christian husbands and wives - parents- workers - all of us. How will our children, grandchildren, spouses, friends, co-workers and brothers and sisters ever get this awesome truth if we don't live it?

Up North Wisdom says be the example, be the one who takes the lead. Let others see and feel the peace of God in us. It can be catchy you know. Those around us really need it and we can be the hands of Jesus in being instruments of peace. Not possible in your circumstances at this time you say? Well, I have told God so many things that are not possible in my life and things that I just can't do. And amazingly and humorously, He agrees with me.  :)  Folks listen, either His Word is true or not. "I can, you can, we can, do all things (that lead to peace) through Christ who gives you and me the strength to do so."

So in this holiday season and all the year long:    R-E-L-A-X!! Thanks, Aaron!  And remember what one older and maybe a little wiser pastor has said maybe too many times - The Best Is Yet To Come!  And have a great CHRISTMAS season. When a store worker says "happy holidays",  you smile a very loving smile and say, "Merry Christmas and God bless you!"