Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:2).
Life in Holland provided the religious freedom the Pilgrims were looking for, but at a high price. Living conditions there were rough, to the point where they had to work brutal hours to survive. Children as young as six years old were working twelve- to fourteen-hour days just to help make ends meet. (Feel free to emphasize the above point to your kids, especially if they complain about chores.) Parents began to fear for the health of their children as the hard labor took its toll.
Life among the Dutch was taking other tolls, as well. Language, customs, traditions—all were different from what the Pilgrims were used to. Parents could see their children growing less English, and more Dutch, with each passing day. The greatest concern was over the moral “freedom” that accompanied Holland’s religious liberty. Parents feared that they may have saved their children from persecution only to lose them to licentiousness. They made the decision to protect themselves and their children by taking them to a new world.
Chew on this: How are you being polluted by the world? What are you willing to do to “be transformed?”
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ… (Philippians 3:7-8).
England in the 1500’s and 1600’s was a place of great religious freedom—you were free to attend the Anglican Church. If, however, you didn’t agree with the Anglican Church, and chose to speak up about it, it stank to be you. You could look forward to hefty fines, imprisonment, and other extreme levels of governmental harassment. One group of people experiencing this grief was the Puritans. They felt that the Anglican Church was polluted with all sorts of non-biblical fluff, and they wanted to purify it. Hence the name.
Eventually, some of the Puritans decided that the Anglican Church was simply too far gone to work with, and they should separate from it. These people called themselves Separatists. It is from this group that the people we know as the Pilgrims came.
In 1607, a group of Separatists decided to leave England and move to Holland, a country known for religious freedom. Easier said than done, for while the King of England made life intolerable for Separatists, he would not allow them to leave. The Pilgrims had to sneak out of the country, leaving everything behind.
Question to chew on: What have you had to leave behind in order to follow Christ?
For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. (Psalm 1:6)
It’s a promise.
It’s a warning.
Take it as such.
I’m not going to clutter this up with commentary…just chew on it as you head into your Friday.
Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, or sinners in the assembly of the righteous. (Psalm 1:4-5)
Sometimes I forget.
Sometimes I look at the nonbelievers around me, and I envy their “freedom.”
Sometimes I’m a little short-sighted.
I forget their destiny. I forget that, without Christ, they are like chaff that the wind blows away. Ever wonder why chaff blows away, while the wheat (that would be you) remains? It’s because chaff has no substance, no weight. There is nothing solid to it, nothing to keep it from drifting away on the breeze.
So it does.
What I sometimes confuse for freedom is the aimless drifting of an empty soul.
One day they, like we, will stand before the Father. They will not be clothed in the righteousness of Christ—they will be naked in their sin. They will not stand firm in the armor of God—they will be crushed under the weight of their own earned guilt. They will not rejoice in the fellowship of the saints—they will be ever, forever alone.
Sometimes I forget. But when I remember, I praise God for his grace, and I remember never to envy the lost, but ever to pity them, to pray for them, to reason and wrestle and reach for them.
I’m telling you—I’d rather be a tree.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. (Psalm 1:3)
OK, I really appreciate the tree image. On a day like today, when I’m running crazy, the idea of solid, deep stillness is delicious. On a day like today, when so little that I do seems to be of real value, the thought of being useful, of fulfilling my purpose, is profoundly satisfying. On a day like today, when my back aches and the gray is spreading, the hope of not withering invigorates me.
I’ll admit, I struggle with the rest of the verse. I’m trying to be a Psalm 1 kinda guy, but I can’t honestly say that whatever I do prospers. Maybe I’m not Psalm 1ish enough. Maybe I sit in the seat of mockers more often than I like to admit. Maybe my meditation isn’t up to snuff.
Maybe I don’t have a good enough grip on what it means to “prosper.” Maybe God is prospering me in ways I can’t see, can’t even imagine.
I like that “Maybe” better.
For all that I don’t know—which is plenty—there is one thing I do know.
I wanna be a tree.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. (Psalm 1:2).
Do you delight in God’s word?
No guilt here—it’s an honest question.
Actually, I ask the same question of myself. I mean, I read his word, I study his word, on occasion I even commit his word to memory…but do I delight in it? Do I meditate on it?
Do I even really know what that looks like?
I know I’d like to.
I know that biblical meditation is different from what they’ll teach you at yoga class—and what are you doing at yoga class, anyway? They’ll teach you to empty your mind, and allow the void to be filled by narcissism and demons. OK, they probably won’t say it that way, but that’s what it amounts to. Biblical meditation is about filling your mind with Scripture, sort of letting a particular verse roll around in your head. You pray that God would illuminate the passage for you, and help you to see what he wants you to see in it.
Let’s experiment today. Pick a passage of Scripture—it could be this passage, or yesterday’s, or just your favorite verse—and ask God to help you meditate on it. Ask him to help you delight in it. Let it roll around your head today, and see what he has to show you. Then come back and share the experience with us.
C’mon, trust me—it’ll be fun.
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the council of the wicked, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of mockers. (Psalm 1:1)
Who do you listen to? Not on Sunday, but on Monday, Tuesday, and the rest.
I like to listen to talk radio. I enjoy the news analysis and commentary, but I have to keep one thing in mind—these are not Christian shows. The hosts are not coming from a Christian perspective. Even though we may agree on many issues, we are fundamentally at odds.
Again I ask: who do you listen to? Are you following the teaching of the Word, or of the world? Are you seeking to imitate Jesus, or celebrities? Are you fellowshipping with Godly believers, or the lost?
The people who surround you, the communion you immerse yourself in, will have a profound impact upon your thought life. So step back today and take a look at who that is. If you need to make some changes, do so.
Mondays are a great time for fresh starts.
The end of the world came last week. Again.
It was a disappointment. Again.
Not as disappointing as, say, the Mayan Calendar thing. Not nearly as unsatisfying as Y2K. Nowhere near the level of the promised Zombie Apocalypse that just never seems to arrive.
Still, I’m left feeling a certain sense of betrayal. Continue reading
…and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:17b)
You know the power of words. You’ve felt it. Words can bruise, they can cut, they can crush, they can soothe, they can comfort, they can heal.
And those are just human words.
The word of God is infinitely more powerful. It goes far beyond emotional impact; it reaches deep into the spiritual realms. So it shouldn’t be surprising that the Word is our primary weapon against the enemy. After all, what did Jesus use to defend himself from Satan’s temptations? Did he blast Satan to powder? No.
But wouldn’t that have been cool?
Jesus used Scripture to defeat his enemy. Why? Perhaps because that is a weapon we can use as well. You probably can’t command the powers of Heaven and Earth the way the Son of God can—in fact, I’m pretty sure of it—but you can use Scripture. Maybe you don’t have the advantage of having written it, but you can still read it, and learn it, and memorize it, and use it to back your enemy off when he attacks.
How good is your sword arm? How much drill have you put in this week?
Maybe it’s time to practice.
The battle awaits.
Take the helmet of salvation… (Ephesians 6:17a)
When I was a kid, you didn’t have to wear a helmet. Bicycle, motorcycle, pogo stick—you were free to ride with the wind in your hair and the bugs in your teeth. It was wild and free and deadly.
To ride without a helmet is to ask for brain damage.
Paul speaks of the helmet of salvation. He’s talking about the knowledge of who you are in Christ, and the price that has been paid for you. That knowledge can protect you in the heat of battle. You see, that enemy of yours likes to mess with your head. He likes to get into your thought life and plant false ideas about who you are and what your value is. He’ll tell you that you’re not good enough, not strong enough, not worthy of a life in Christ.
All of which is true.
The helmet doesn’t block those ideas, but it filters them through the knowledge of your salvation. You can answer, “You aren’t worthy,” with, “Of course not…but Jesus is.” You can answer, “Look at all you owe,” with, “Look at what He paid.”
To walk this world without the helmet is to ask for soul damage.
Strap it on, cinch it tight, and go face your Thursday.