This passage in Deuteronomy is part of the direct commandments from God to His people, the Israelites. We, as believers, can take this to heart as well! There is no mistaking God’s intent here: Teach His commands to our children, morning to night, and all the inbetween times. We are to talk about them, live them, and make them an active part of our lives. What do we teach our children that is different from the world? Are we lip service only, perhaps? Maybe we attend church faithfully, but there are no daily God conversations and teachings occurring in our homes. What are we doing that makes a marked difference for our family? It is our honor to be set apart, and to earnestly teach the ways of God our Father, to our children. Let us not be negligent, despite our busy schedules, sports, friends, culture, and yes, sometimes despite even church. Do not allow anything to take away from the privilege of teaching and walking this out with our children. Our homes can be a place of honor, where God’s ways are lived and spoken freely of.
“Imprint these words of mine on your hearts and minds, bind them as a sign on your hands, and let them be a symbol on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, so that as long as the heavens are above the earth, your days and those of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your fathers. For if you carefully observe every one of these commands I am giving you to follow — to love the Lord your God, walk in all His ways, and remain faithful to Him — the Lord will drive out all these nations before you, and you will drive out nations greater and stronger than you are.”
Finally, brothers, 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
How often do we believe lies? We tell ourselves things like “No one loves me”, or “I’m not good at anything”, or “I need _________________”, or “That’s just how I am” or “I’m ugly. No one will ever want me.”, and much worse things? A big one is “If I were gone, no one would miss me.” or “Everyone would be better off without me”.
I see posts frequently on Facebook with the suicide hotline (1-800-273-8255) shared in my news feed. The enemy is real and the enemy has come to lie to us (speak things like above), steal from us (take our joy, our happiness, our sanity sometimes), and destroy us (keep us from having the best relationship possible with our Father in heaven). I hate the enemy with everything in me.
Please remember to think about the truth. Compare your thoughts with the Word. What does God say about you? (He created you in your mothers womb. He knows the number of hairs on your head. He LOVES you!). What does God say about life? That we will find joy and happiness in Him. That we will struggle. That life will be messy, but He is there along with us every step and we can trust Him.
What’s is something you know is a lie, but your mind struggles to believe the truth? Conquer it today! Equip yourself with the Word to destroy those lies and start believing the truth!
The battle is on. Every day, there is a spiritual battle that goes on around us that of which we are completely unaware. Satan and is demonic minions wake up each morning with a singular focus of destroying our relationships with each other and placing us in direct rebellion to God. Satan does not take a day off, or even a mid-day break. It is for this reason that we must be diligent in preparing for spiritual warfare. While we can rest assured that we have victory in Jesus, there are still battles that God allows to take place so that we can become more mature in our walk with Him. When we look into the text of Ephesians 6:10-18, we see that God implores us to put on His armor every day. Each tool that He calls for us to use is purposeful in the battles that happen in our life. Over the next few weeks, as I blog, we will be looking at the spiritual use of each tool! Be prepared because the enemy will attack, but we will be prepared! The battle is on!
“In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” ~ Matthew 5:16
Okay so first let me admit to the fact that I was just going to call this writing “shine” and that I automatically started thinking about one of my favorite Pink Floyd songs and changed the title. It does actually fit in and if you’ll bear with me you’ll see.
As I’ve read through these pages of Inscription, both that I write and those by the rest of the team, it has made me think a lot about various circumstances in my life. When we submerse ourselves in God’s word it has a way of becoming a magnifying glass that we look at our lives and behavior through. We start to run things past it, some things even that we may have done or said for many years of our lives. Sometimes it can be something we are convicted of and others might just be a question of why.
One of the things I noticed was something I say in prayer almost every time. It is no doubt something that was in prayer with my family at a young age and has carried through into my own prayer life. The phrase I’m talking about that I pray most often is “Lord allow me to shine your light on others.”
I started thinking about what this really meant. So I went digging and honestly didn’t have to go far. There are so many scriptures that deal with this particular topic calling Christ the light of the world and how we as Christians are meant to portray that and be in fact identified by it.
So we are called to “shine” in His glory and be identified by it. In this world and in this day and age, we truly should shine like a crazy diamond. We are called out to be different in this world.
I write this not to bring people down, but to build us all up. Let us all shine HIS light to others. What a beacon we can all be to this world. Show your love and your light in Him. In the smallest aspect it can speak volumes. Let’s show the world what love and Christ are.
We spend so much time trying to find comfort in the newest things, the most popular self-help book, from Dr. Phil. How often do we really find something lasting from any of those sources? Solomon wrote “Don’t consider yourself to be wise; fear the Lord and turn away from evil. This (emphasis added) will be healing for your body and strengthening for your bones.” Proverbs 3:7-8. We think that we can follow the latest fad, whether it be dieting, quick monetary gain opportunities or any of any myriad of things. God’s word tells us that we shouldn’t consider ourselves wise, but instead to turn from evil.
What evil is he talking about here?
The way I see it, we fight the evil of feeling like we have to compare ourselves to others around us. We base our success and status in society based on if we drive a car that is as nice as our neighbor, or if our house is furnished with the newest, strangely spelled items from Ikea. We even compare ourselves to others spiritually, and that is a dangerous pitfall.
I know that I find myself frustrated with the fact that I’m not a graduate of seminary, much less even an undergrad program yet, and that I don’t feel as accomplished as many of my colleagues in student ministry. However, I can’t let my lack of educational completion dictate how I study and teach God’s word. I can’t compare myself to one of my fellow student pastors who has his doctorate (Ph.D) and has taught at the college level for several years, instead, I have to remember I can learn so much from someone like him.
How Do We Know We’ve Made It?
If we constantly compare ourselves to others, thinking we’ll find relief once we “get there”, we’ll never find refreshment in the Lord, and our bones will never be strengthened. We’ll live in a state of constant dissatisfaction and will be left with a feeling of inferiority because we don’t measure up to someone else’s level of accomplishment.
Don’t lean on your own wisdom, don’t try and figure everything out on your own. Quit comparing yourself to the people on the front of the magazines who are being proclaimed “The World’s Most Beautiful…”. Those things are fruitless and pointless comparisons and endeavors. Instead, be who God made you to be and pursue Him over all things. Let His face shine on you, and let His grace be where your identity is found.
“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. “- 1 John 1:5-10
We don’t like to be called out on things. It’s not in our human nature. I don’t like criticism, I hate messing up, I don’t like my faults and mistakes pointed out. It’s a hard thing for me to take gracefully.
The Bible doesn’t mince words, though. It’s pretty clear.
God is light.
If we walk with God, WE will have light.
If we walk with God and don’t have his light, we are lying to ourselves about our walk with God and our sin.
If we say we are without sin–directly or indirectly–again we are lying.
Many of us might say, “Oh I would never try to claim I am without sin! We all sin!” And this is true for me, too, I would never make such a claim.
But what if we simply avoid it? Deny its presence? What if we don’t spend time searching our hearts or weeding sin out or re-training our habits? Are we not saying the same thing? Are we not lying to ourselves in the same way?
Of course, as always, the Bible doesn’t just point out our sin and leave us there.
John reminds us that the truth is that we do have sin, but the truth is also that if we will confess those sins, God is faithful to forgive them.
But to confess them, we must call ourselves out on them. To be honest with ourselves about our sin, we must walk with God, in the light of His presence, in which there is no darkness or shadow.
May you be filled with the light of Jesus today, as you walk in His presence.
Yesterday I was sitting in the waiting room of my doctor’s office when I noticed these beautiful canvases hanging on the wall with the following sayings:
“Live Every Moment
Laugh Every Day
Love Beyond Words
Listen to Your Heart”
Following your heart is such a huge theme in American culture. To find out how deeply we truly believe this, I did a quick internet search of “Follow your heart quotes.” The number of results were unbelievable! 10,900,000 to be exact!
Here are a few that I found:
You do have to follow your heart, otherwise you are living a false life.
You can choose to follow your heart always.
Follow your heart. Even though it’s on the left, it’s always right.
The problem with all of this, however, can be found in Jeremiah 17:9:
The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick. Who can understand it?
Jesus also addresses the heart in Mark 7:20-22 “…‘What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come–sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly.” (bold lettering for emphasis).
Since our hearts are powerful organs, both physically and spiritually, the Bible also includes many verses about the heart. According to Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, the word “heart” appears over 1,000 times in the Bible, making it the most common word used when dealing with human nature.
Fellow Christians, I urge you,”Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2). Let’s not continue the “Listen to your Heart” sayings, and instead remember what we read in Proverbs 4:23: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
I grew up in a small town in East Texas from my teens until my mid-twenties. In the early 2000s, finding a Christ-centered singles group in their early twenties for me was kinda like, well, trying to find a Christ-centered singles group in small town East Texas. I had a small group of friends, and I was blessed enough to live near a really great small Christian college, but the truth is my group of friends started getting younger, and I was a janitor, not a student. I needed a church and finding one was getting more difficult. It started a slow burn on my spiritual life, until the darkness that had seeped its way inside felt like the one that had cursed Egypt. I was spiritually and theologically empty for the first time in my life.
This is why God tells us to “not [neglect] to meet together, as is the habit of some, but [encourage] one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:25 ESV). The world is dark, and it wants to devour us. It doesn’t go dark all at once, though. It takes you little by little into the depths until you turn around and realize the light is too dim to find your way back.
This week I pray that if you’ve been allowing little things to keep you away for a gathering of Christ-followers, you find your way back into some church. Find a small group in which to grow and become emotionally connected. Pour yourself in and see if God doesn’t allow them to overflow into you. Let “iron sharpen iron” (Proverbs 27:17) until your words are ready for battle. Find a church that you can strengthen and let them strengthen you.
I should let you know, however, while I did find a good church, I still have no advice for you if you’re looking for a Christ-centered singles group in Small Town East Texas.
Due to a medical emergency this week, I was asked to feed the animals for my across the street neighbor. Please keep the Bonesteel family in your prayers. I have fed these animals before when my neighbors have gone on vacation. They have a cat, a hen, a small dog that resembles Toto, a yellow lab, a big black dog that hates me and wants to eat me, and a miniature pig.The funny thing about this mini pig is that there is nothing miniature about it. It is huge!
As I was feeding this “miniature” pig, I was reminded that things are not always as they appear. When these pigs are babies they are the cutest things you have ever seen but get really big, really fast. Jesus reminds us in John 8:44 that the devil is a liar. At first, the devil dangles sin in front of us, and it appears to be so pleasing and irresistible; He does not reveal how much it will eat and how all-consuming it will become. Be very careful, those “miniature” sins in your life will get really big, really fast and will not be stopped without heartfelt repentance, Christian fellowship, accountability, and total obedience to Jesus Christ.
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
Hebrews 10:23 (NIV)
I look back over the last several years and I see so many ways that I followed Jesus diligently into what felt like storms brewing only to see them calmed. I see many times, that I refused to step out of the proverbial boat onto the raging sea, but Jesus was still faithful even when my trust lacked.
Today, let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess (Jesus is our Lord and Savior from death through our sins), for He who promise (Jesus Himself) is faithful!