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June 2003 Archives

June 1, 2003

A Life and Death Choice

Proverbs 1:28-29
"Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me.
Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the Lord,

1:7 describes the foundational principle in the book of Proverbs - "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge." For me, someone who wan to become wise, it starts with having the right perspectiveof God - His awesomeness and His greatlove. It produces a humble and teachable attitude in me. It make me hungry for His attention and produces in me a desire to please and obey Him.

This Proverb says that there are those that the LORD will not respond to. It is because they have developed a pattern of rejecting His counsel and ignoring His correction (v. 30). Idon't think that God witholds from them as much as they become unable to recgnize His voice, or find Him becase they don't know where to look for Him.

It goes on to say that these are left to suffer the consequences of ther own choices - "filled to the full with thier own fancies" (v. 31). Eventually, thier complacency- thier lack ofpursuingGod and governing thier own lives will kill them (v. 32).

Lord, I want to be in proper alignment with You. To fear You, to know You, to hear You, to be led by You. I want to have knowldge and gain wisdom.

June 2, 2003

What about me? What about him?

John 21:19
And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.”

One of the tools used in a movie to carry a story along is the "flashback" - a cene that recalls a preious scene that answers a question or prepares the character for future action. This whole scen in John 21 is a flashback to the disciples' orginal call to follow Jesus. Here, Jesus uses the exact same words He originally did to remind Peter of His choice of him.

Jayme and I have been in kind of a flashbck to our call to Irvine in the last 6 weeks. Many events and memeories hve flooded our hearts during this challenging season to remind us of the sovreign way the LORD brought us here. Still, I find myself responding in my circumstances as Peter did. Instead of feeling affirmed or impassioned by the reminder of my call, I choose to compare - "what about him? (v. 21). The last words of Jesus recorded by John eacho back in my own empty search for validation, "what is that to you?" (v. 22) I had mademany assmuption about what this whole thing would look like. When it didn't turn out how I thought, the only place my pride could find fuel was to compare myself to others - why they seemed to be blessed with more than me? It's really saying, "I'm not getting my share out of this. I deserve better. What about me?"

Jesus responds again -"You follow me." That's where all the self-pity has to end. It leaves no room for comparision with others. Lord, I will follow You.

June 3, 2003

Skeletons in the Closet

2 Samuel 22:13-14
So he brought up the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son from there; and they gathered the bones of those who had been hanged. 14 They buried the bones of Saul and Jonathan his son in the country of Benjamin in Zelah, in the tomb of Kish his father. So they performed all that the king commanded. And after that God heeded the prayer for the land.

The story begins with a famine in Israel. The country is united again under David’s leadership. But just when things seem to be getting back to normal, famine hits. David goes to the Lord to find out what the problem is. V. 1: “And the LORD answered, ‘It is because of Saul…because he killed the Gibeonites.’”

Sometimes as a leader you find yourself dealing with problems you did not cause. You have inheirited somebody else’s mess. It often follows after having to clean up one of your own. What happened was Saul was not to mess with this people because they were descendants of the Amorites (the people that tricked Joshua into a treaty during the conquest of the Promised Land). Saul got a little fired up and sought to drive them out of the land to earn favor with the people. So now, all these generations later, this mess is in David’s lap.

David goes to the people to find out how to make things right (He didn’t need God’s permission or wait for His direction to find out a possible solution. Sometimes a leader must get the right information before God will give His directions). As most people do, the Gibeonites wanted blood. Really, they wanted honor restored, which is really the issue for most folks. David did what they asked Him to do.

But David didn’t just leave it at that. In order to bring complete closure to the situation, he needed to restore honor to Saul’s house as well or it would come to haunt him later. As a leader, most of the time we stop short of really following through all the way. Things remain unresolved and it will get us later. David didn’t let it happen. In fact he used the situation to restore other things which had been left undone. The Philistines still had Saul and Johnathan’s remains as a memorial of thier victory over Israel. David could not leave the first king’s remains in he hands of an enemy. He got all of Saul’s family’s remains and laid them to rest in their ancestral home.

It’s hard to clean up after someone else. It’s even harder to honor someone who caused the problem. But as long as things are left undone, there will be famine in some area of our leadership. We don’t only need to take care of business making things right with people, but clean the closet out of the skeletons and lay them to rest with honor and respect. Then God will heed the prayer for the land (v. 14).

June 5, 2003

A Deep Drink

Proverbs 5:15,18-19
15 Drink water from your own cistern, And running water from your own well.
18 Let your fountain be blessed, And rejoice with the wife of your youth.
19...And always be enraptured with her love.

Tuesday night Jayme went out with some of her playgroup girlfriends. She came home saying that I wasn't going to believe that night's coversation at the restaurant. As soon as the six of them sat down, one of them started the night asking how often everyone else was intimate with thier husbands. It just took off from there as they had a very frank discussion about the intimacies of married life. Jayme said it was like a suburban version of "Sex In The City" - all of these Christian, married women with at least 2 kids each talking about sex; everything from thier appetite to cultural influences to thier own inscurities. Jayme said that one of the women said that she was so thankful for this opportunity to speak so openly because she had been wanting to talk about this stuff with someone for a long time.

Duing this fast I've been on, I've felt that one of the things the Lord wanted to "cut off and cut out" was this underlying lust that keeps hanging around in my life. It's power has been nutralized, but it has never been fully killed. So I pulled Pure Desire and Every Man's Battle down off the bookshelf to brush up on some of the strategies for winning this war.

(Note: As I'm writing this right now on my laptop in my living room, I haven't installed my internet filtering software yet. As I typed in the link to Dr. Ted Roberts website "Pure Desire," I put .com instead of .org which led to the front page and multiple pop-ups for porn sites. wow - that's a lot to handle at 6:15 am. Even a simple slip can have big consequences. My family uses Cyber Patrol. I'm also getting our staff guys to use Covenant Eyes, an internet tracking software that reports your surfing to an accountability partner. There are also filtered internet service providers. A list of them can be found at Focus on the Family's Pure Intimacy site.)

Now back to the topic. One of the tools that Every Man's Battle suggests to fighting lust is to "starve your eyes." It simply not to let youself find any sexual gratification from anthing else other than your wife. (Gratification can come from just a sneaked glance or prolonged look at another woman, real or broadcast. It doesn't have to lead to "a release.") I have found that to be difficult because Jayme and I have seen that these images are everywhere! But it is crucial if I am going to stay healthy to rid myself of the "junk food" of lust to feast on the love of my wife.

My wife truly is the love of my life. My thrist can only be satisifed by her. Proverbs 18:22 says He who finds a wife find a good thing, And obtains favor from the LORD. Lord, thank youf or the favor you have given to me in my wife. Together we will drink deeply from the fountain of intimacy you have blessed us with.

June 6, 2003

Looking For Afirmation

Psalms 123:1-2
Unto You, I lift up my eyes, O You who dwell in the heavens. 2 Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters, As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, So our eyes look to the Lord our God, Until He has mercy on us.

Yesterday was my son's last baseball game for this season. It was amazing to see how far the kids have come this year. They were making plays, throwing people out, hitting the ball - it was neat. After every play, these 7 year olds would look at the coaches for a look of affirmation, asking with thier look, "Did I do the right thing?" Whether they made the right decision or not (cause with runners on base there are a lot of options which becomes a lot to process in the split second after the ball is hit) our coaches decided we would instruct and affirm.Throughout the season as the kids began to understand the game we had the opportunity to affirm a lot. So much that after the game as I was telling the kids that I hoped they enjoyed the season and would play again next year, one of the boys who began the season very tentatively said, "Oh yeah, I'm playing next year."

I want to be like these children as I continue to grow in my understanding of God's purpose for my life. As obdience becomes more intuative, there is no greater thing than to have the sence of His affirmation. With mercies that are new every day, I look to the heaven not with shame, but with anticipation of my assignments for the day. I want to know how to respond to the subtle language of the Father, watching Him and learning the nuances of my master to anticipate His requests. To watch for His hand and to join Hm in what He is doing. I desire to please Him. So I look for His pleasure and live in His favor.

June 9, 2003

Unless The Lord Builds The House

Psalm 127:1-2
Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain.
2 It is vain for you to rise up early, To sit up late, To eat the bread of
sorrows; For so He gives His beloved sleep.

Yesterday was the end of a forty day fast. I began on May 1 and planned to conclude on Pentecost Sunday. Although I try to do a couple day fast every year, this was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done (my previous long was 3 days). Today and for the next couple of weeks I’m going to spend time processing this experience; what I’ve learned, how I’ve changed, and the new direction the Lord has given me. What is interesting was yesterday’s service. I had an energy and passion for our church that had been missing for almost a year. Last week at our Saturday night prayer Jayme shared an illustration from her life that God had used to show her that the Lord was doing something new in our church. After yesterday’s service, many people affirmed Jayme’s impression.

So I begin reading in 1 Kings this morning. Today’s scheduled reading was the story of Solomon’s building the temple. 6:12-13 says, “Concerning this temple which you are building, if you walk in My statutes, execute My judgments, keep all My commandments, and walk in them, then I will perform My word with you, which I spoke to your father David. 13 And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake My people Israel.” Interesting. Then I flip to Acts, and begin to read Stephen’s message to the High Priest, giving my attention to his description of Abraham’s faith - He moved him to this land in which you now dwell. 5 And God gave him no inheritance in it, not even enough to set his foot on. But even when Abraham had no child, He promised to give it to him for a possession, and to his descendants after him. (7:4-5)
I began to reflect on Jayme and my call to Irvine. We had no family here, no right to claim this land as our own. No big financial resources or promise of security. Only a clear direction that this was God’s will for us – to stake our claim in this land and to receive it as an inheritance.

Then I turn to today’s Psalm and I am reminded that God is building this “house” of New Horizons. On my first day of this new season, I feel like there are 3 directives from the reading today that should serve as new boundaries for my life;
1) Not to get consumed with what I am building (1 Kings 6). God reminds Solomon to keep his priorities right. Obedience is the most important action to God honoring His word.
2) Not to be preoccupied with what I think should be happening (Acts 7). Even though it seems like nothing is happening (at least anything that I, or that I am afraid anyone else, would judge as significant – just kind of walking around the wilderness), God’s promise doesn’t change. I am too often concerned with short-term survival while God is establishing a long-term heritage.
3) Not to be concerned with what I am doing (Psalms 127). Too often I take too much responsibility for my own “success” which only results in frustration and anxiety. All my hard work means nothing if I am not partnering with what God is doing in and through my life.

So it is the start of a new season. A time to let go. A time to press on. And a time to let God do His thing - and accept His invitation to join Him.

June 18, 2003

Provision, Preparation, Revelation, Assignment, Reminder

I Kings 19:13
Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

I've allowed a couple of days to slip by without being in the word - days, that I've come to discover, I could not afford to miss. Because when I feel the pressure, I need the Word to keep me anchored, much like Elijah in this passage.

Elijah's life has been threatened by Jezebel, so he runs. As he runs, he whines (v.4), taunting God to do the very thing he was afraid Jezebel would do. That's often the the case when people feel threatened. Instead of facing a challlenge or confrontation, we run. Then we kind of accuse God of instigating the whole thing. God rpovides Elijah with sustinance and gives him a word about what is ahead - "the journey is too great for you." (v. 8).

After Elijah's journey to nowhere, God meets him where He finds him - in a cave, withdrawn and weary. God knew where to find Elijah and helps Elijah to find Him, not in the big stuff but in the small voice (v. 12). God graciously allows Elijah to get stuff off of his chest. Instead of directly confronting Elijah's pity party, God give him something to. An assignment to get his mind off of himself and engaged again in life (v. 14-15). I wonder how much stuff of the stuff that God gives me to do is His way to move me out of my cave? Finally, God reminds him he is not alone.

I need to be reminded of these things. God will resources me for the journey because he knows where I will end up and knows what the result will be. I need to be reminded that God speaks in the whispers. And I need to be aware that some of what He give me to do is to move me out of the isolation I have retreated into to be reminded that I am not alone.

June 23, 2003

Inside & Outside

Acts 17:17
Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there.

So much of my life centers around God's assignment for my life. Pastoring is not a 9-5 job. Neither is pastoring a description of my job as much as a description of who I am. But there is a side of me that can get a little frustrated when the church isn't growing numerically, or finds iteself in a bit of an ordinary place because it feels like I'm not doing something right. So the question remains - how do I be what God has made me to be and how can it impact the assignment He has given me to do? That's whay this scripture describing Paul's activitivies in Athens is encouraging.

Paul gave himself to the task of communicating the truth of the scripture to those who believed. This is like my own preparation for the opprtunities I have to teach our congregation on Sundays and in small groups. Yet Paul also gave himself to the "marketplace" - initiating conversations and relationships with those he encountered in the course of his day. The context for teaching believers as a pastor is an automatic one (although not one I take for granted). But to get interacting with people outside the church and in the community requires some intentionality and availability.

It's so easy to hide in my office to take care of the responsibilities of leading our church. But are those things really "leading?" Or are some of the tasks things that should be secondary to initiating and maintaining relationships both in and outside of New Horizons? I think the answer to that question for me is an obvious "yes." There is an automatic context for that withing the church family (although I still could priortize relationships with our church family a lot more). The question is am I making myself available in the "marketplace" and being intentional about it? Encouragingly, the answer seems to be "yes." Coaching Justin's baseball team and the relationships that have developped over these 2 years have been awesome. Our family's friendships with the other "Ya Ya" families (Jayme's girlfriends that she met through my son's school) are really rewarding. Although we haven't "harvested" anything from these relationships yet, Jayme and I feel that these are major relational priorities for us. And they are personally filling as well.

So I want to do more. Stuff with the DCP staff. Be more intentional with my neighbors (especialy the new couple that moved in around the corner). I want to make sure I'm doing my job, both in the synogogue and in the marketplace. And in doing, really be who I have been made to be. So I'm turning the computer off now...there looks like there's some neighbors down at the pool. After all, I'm still on vacation.

June 30, 2003

All Mixed-Up

2 Kings 17:41
So these nations feared the Lord, yet served their carved images; also their children and their children’s children have continued doing as their fathers did, even to this day.

I was talking with my father-in-law last night about the challenges in planting a church in Irvine. He's been a part of the process as a member of our church and knows the ups and downs. We agreed that is is a difficult thing to fight the culture, especially in an area that is so affluent. I do know that there are man people in our community who passionately and uncompromisingly follow Jesus. But I also know that many people who consider temselves to be Christians have become a little mixed up as they have mixed into thier beliefs other things that they worship.

In this passage, the nation of Israel has been divided into 2 kingdoms for more generations that they were united. The northern kingdom, Israel, had been conquored by vairuous surrounding nations which with each invation came a different form of religion and a different set of gods to worship. At this time there was a resurgence of worship to thier God as the priests of Israel called them to return. Vs.33 describes the situation well - "They feared the Lord, yet served their own gods—according to the rituals of the nations from among whom they were carried away." It's like they knew enough to want to do what is right but were unable to detatch themselves from the lifestyle that they had grown accostomed to.

What rituals of my "carried-away culture" have I allowed to get mixed into my life as a follower of Jesus? I know that the amount of television I watch is a major contributing factor. How many times do I need to watch SportsCenter? Do I really need to know what were the top 100 one-hit wonders? Has HGTV become some wierd kind of suburban pornography, as I lust for new landscaping or a new remodeling project somewhere in my house? The worship of "keeping up with the Jones'" is a point of mixture. The desire for new cars and bigger houses, while not a totally carnal one, does breed dissatisfaction in my life. Authentic worship of the true God should be producing satisfaction with Him and dissatisfaction with the things of this life. It's easy to let it become the other way around.

The cost of living iin this duality s huge. In the passage today, it says that this kind of mixed-up heart went on for generations, even continuing to this day. I dont want my children to live in confusion - fearing God, but worshipping man-made ones. This is a reminder to keep my own heart pure, and my devotion solely directed.

About June 2003

This page contains all entries posted to JustJeff | Life Journal in June 2003. They are listed from oldest to newest.

May 2003 is the previous archive.

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