She Blended Well

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In a very male dominated society, she broke the glass ceiling. We are not told how she did it, but she did. And she was very wise about how she “wielded such authority.” 

Deborah broke that glass ceiling and led (aka “judged”) Israel for 40 years. She herself was a very wise and noble woman. Some suggest that she was a “burning woman” in the sense of a Light for Truth and Justice; a torch for Righteousness. (This is seen in v. 4: instead of “wife of Lappidoth,” it could also be a “a woman of a torch-like spirit.”)

As a prophetess, the LORD had spoken through her to command Barak to take the leadership in a very decisive battle. He balked, but instead of commandeering the leadershipand still obeying the LORD, Deborah wisely accommodated Barak’s hesitancy (see 4:6-10).

 And then she did something rather outstanding, at least in my mind: She blended well with Barak in a beautiful duet! (This rather extensive song is found in Judges 5:1-31a.)

I am so impressed with this. She could have sung a solo. She could have even relegated Barak to a backup voice. But in her nobility and wisdom, she blended her voice with his. This is true godly leadership: Knowing when to stand up, stand out and blend with those we serve as leaders.

Do you think this is one reason why her story is included in the Bible? What do you think?

Main Text— Judges 4:4-5; 5:31b (ISV) 4 Deborah, a woman, prophet, and wife of Lappidoth, was herself judging Israel during that time. 5 She regularly took her seat under the Palm Tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the mountainous region of Ephraim, where the Israelis would approach her for decisions. … 31 Then the land enjoyed quiet for 40 years. 

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

   But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.(2 Timothy 4:5 (NIV)

   To each person has been given the ability to manifest the Spirit for the common good….  Now you are the Messiah’s body and individual parts of it.1 Corinthians 12:7, 27 (ISV)

 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.—Romans 12:16 (ISV)

Lord Jesus Christ, empower me to faithfully fulfill the task You have prepared for me in advance to do with the gifts You have given me. In Your Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike

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“Are You Full of ‘It’?”

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Let the Word of Christ Dwell.jpg

As I was growing up, one of the common insults I would get is, “You’re full of it.” Not sure what “it” was, but when I would say something rather outlandish, back shot the retort: “You’re full of it, Rossmann.” (Even to this day I’m not quite sure what they meant, except that they didn’t believe what I was saying was true or accurate—humph!)

But as I read this morning’s main text, I would gladly receive the tart retort, “You’re full of it” as a badge of honor and not shame. Here, “it” is the Word of Christ. I would like to be so full of “It” that my teaching, coaching and correcting were indeed full of “all wisdom”! …

And since the Lord Jesus Christ has become my Wisdom (1 Cor. 1:30, as I yield to His presence, this wisdom can be overflowing….

How do I get “full of it”? I know one way is not laying my head on the Bible—though some may think this is possible. I have learned that when it comes to the Word, there are two major ways to get “it”: I see it or I hear it. I see it in printed form or modeled in another’s behavior; and I hear it read to me. Personally, I set aside some time in the morning to read the Word beyond my sermon prep. This has been a challenge over the years, but during my convalescence, I have made this a high priority. Sometimes, my reading often overlaps with my sermon prep, but this I expect, since I am preparing a messenger as much as a message. Another way, I “get full of it” is listening to other sermons in podcasts, and, yes, the old fashion way, on CD’s. (I even still have a CD/Cassette player in my car!)

What do you do “to get full of it”? Your thoughts?

Main Text— Colossians 3:16–17 (NIV84) Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.1 John 2:14 (NASB95)

If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples.—John 15:7–8 (NIV84)

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.— Deuteronomy  6:6–9 (NIV84)

Heavenly Father, fill me with the Living Word, the Lord Jesus Christ. May my ‘cup’ overflow. Stir in me a hunger for Your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike

“Enjoy the Ups; Endure the Downs”

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Romans 8-28

My Thoughts:

Years ago I was told, “When things are going well, watch out: the enemy is about to attack.” I appreciated the advice to remain vigilant, but I took it to an extreme so as not to enjoy the good times. So when times were good, I was preparing for them to fall apart. My focus was on the “what ifs” of life and not on the “what is’s”.

Truly, our walk with Jesus has its ups and downs. We are to enjoy the ups and endure the downs. But during the “ups” I am learning to live in the moment for Jesus and not live for the moment in myself. This has been a rather challenging journey. There are times, especially when the grandkids are over, that I have to consciously say to myself—sometimes out loud, “‘That can wait for later; I’m with my grandkids now.” Then the joy of the moment begins to seep into my soul.

As I search the Words of the Book for encouragement on this new perspective, I was brought back to a well-worn passage and a pointed verse I had memorized years ago, but never really applied in this manner. (It’s always that next verse, eh?) In Matthew 6:33 Jesus says, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Yet, indeed, in the next verse He says, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itselfEach day has enough trouble of its own.” In a very subtle way, it appears Jesus is saying, live only in the moment, for it has enough to deal with. When I am worrying about tomorrow, or the “what ifs” or “shoulda, coulda, wouldas” of life, then I miss the joy in the moment—the “ups”….

Now that I am beginning to enjoy the “up” moments the Master has blest me with, what about those “down” times, those incidents I deem “terrible, horrible, no good or very bad”? As I sledge through the wrecking of my current life (lower case “l”), I find that I have to rework such phrases as, “That’s not good,” or “that’s bad!”. Why? Because if I really believe the Lord works out all for the Good, then even those times—those incidents—that I deem “terrible, horrible, no good or very bad” He is using for the Good—even if my small perspective cannot see it at the moment and I burp out, “this isn’t good!”

Instead, I have been trying to say—again, I’m a rookie at this, “This, too, the Lord will use for the Good!” It has been a fascinating mind-bend. Indeed, the transformation has been slow, but the Holy Spirit is steadily renewing my mind. I have found I am less reactive in situations I have traditionally deemed “bad,” etc., especially when I ‘see’ by faith that, “this, too, the Lord will use.” Now I not only endure the “downs,” I do more than endure them: for I am more than a conquerer through Jesus Who Loves me. Through the “Ups” and the “Downs” His Love holds me….

Have you had a similar journey with Jesus on this? Or are you farther up the path? Care to share?

Main Text: — Acts 5:17-20— 17 Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. 18 They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. 20 “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people the full message of this new life.” [NIV84]

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

  What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?   — Romans  8:31-32 (NIV84)

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  — Romans 8:28 (NIV84)

Fear the LORD, you His saints, for those who fear Him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. — Psalm 34:9-10 (NIV84)

Heavenly Father, continue Your transforming work in my Life as I realize in each passing moment that, “You are Good all the time, no matter what,” I may think about a given moment or incident, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Coach Mike

“Was Samson a Prodigal?”

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My Thoughts:

Although brought up in a strong believing home, even dedicated to the LORD at birth, Samson’s name cannot be said without Delilah’s immediately following. So I ask a simple question: Can Samson be considered a prodigal? He lived a rather wild lifestyle, but he didn’t demand of his parents the inheritance. He did demand a dowery for a non-believing wife (see Judges 14:1-7). But the text tells us that this was from the LORD. Further it appears that he did have a problem with women (see Judges 16:1). So when it comes to being under Delilah’s spell, it shouldn’t surprise us that he did trifle with his calling.

But was he a prodigal in the sense of rebelling against his parents’ authority and living a riotous life?

However we want to classify Samson, one thing is clear: He let down his guard with women and ultimately ended up fulfilling his calling severely scarred (i.e., blinded); oh, and dead.

Lifestyle worshiper, what other lessons can we harvest from Samson’s journey? Your thoughts?

Main Text: — Judges 16:15-17 — 15 Then [Delilah] said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when you won’t confide in me? This is the third time you have made a fool of me and haven’t told me the secret of your great strength.” 16 With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was tired to death. 17 So he told her everything. “No razor has ever been used on my head,” he said, “because I have been a Nazirite set apart to God since birth. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man.” [NIV84]

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm. — Proverbs 13:20 (NIV84)

Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes, for the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread, and the adulteress preys upon your very life. —Proverbs 6:25-26 (NIV84)

 For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you. — 1 Peter 4:3-4 (NIV84)

 Heavenly Father, I choose to humble myself and learn from others’ mistakes and miscues. Set my feet firmly on the rock, the Lord Jesus Christ. Lord Jesus Christ, empower me to live the Life that is pleasing to You. In Your Name, Amen. 

Pastor Mike

“Entitled Prodigals”

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My Thoughts:

Although the word, “prodigal,” has become synonymous with “wayward, rebellious runaway,”  it actually means “wasteful, extravagant reckless wild living.” I think this fits well with our entitlement culture. It seems to me that prodigals feel an extreme sense of “you owe me for my existence.” Perhaps I am reading too much into today’s main text (Luke 15:11-12), but it appears to me that the younger son is saying, “Father, you owe me. So give me what’s mine (even if it’s ahead of time)!”

The father does not fight this defiant, rebellious son, but instead gives him what the son thinks he deserves, and lets… him… go! Any parent knows how hard this is. It is hard enough when your child is leaving for college or the military or merely moving out on  his/her own, but when they are leaving on not-too-good-of terms, our hearts are bleeding….  But he also did not enable the son by negotiating or chasing after him; another heart-wrenching decision….

Ironically, I have also found that if I chase after a “prodigal,” I only entitle them all the more. I have inadvertently empowered and enabled them in their reckless temper tantrum. And the more I do rescue them, the deeper their sense of entitlement is driven…. Truly a lose-lose scenario.

This is why I admire the father in this story. He did not prevent his son from learning a very difficult lesson—the hard way. Nor did he chase after him. But as I observe the collection of stories in Luke 15, there is a common element of searching, though not as commonly taught. The shepherd diligently searches for the lost sheep—and finds it; the woman fervently searches for the lost coin—and finds it; and the father earnestly searches the horizon for his lost son—and ‘finds’ him! Though the father did not actively run after his son in search of him so as to entitle him again, he does eagerly run to his son, once the son has release this sense of entitlement (as evidenced in his returning). Truly, the son came to his senses….

Lifestyle worshiper, have you found that it displeases the Lord when we chase after “prodigals” well before they have come to their senses? I have. And I have done them a grave disservice. Yes, it is painful to remain ‘at home’ and diligently search the horizon, but it is far wiser—for the sake of the “prodigal,” don’t you think? Your thoughts?

Main Text: — Luke 15:11-12 — 11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.  [NIV84]

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

A hot-tempered man must pay the penalty; if you rescue him, you will have to do it again. — Proverbs 19:19 (NIV84)

What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?  —Luke 9:25 (NIV84)

 Everything [the teachers of the law and Pharisees] do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi. — Matthew 23:5-7 (NIV84)

 Heavenly Father, I find it fascinating that You sent Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to seek after the lost sheep of the House of Israel; You sent Him to the lost Samaritan woman at a well; and you sent Him to the lost crowds who were like sheep without a Shepard, but in wisdom He did go after the ‘prodigals’…. And yet He was available if they came to Him. Grant me the wisdom, insight, and courage to do the same. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Pastor Mike

“Heavenly Wisdom’s Peace”

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Subtitle: The transcendence of both Wisdom & Peace  in the Life of Jesus

Text: James 3:17-18 —  17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. [NIV84]

The Big Idea: This heavenly wisdom is so other worldly it is truly hard for us to get a handle on it.

My Thoughts on James 3:17-18: 

While the “wisdom from below” brings chaos and discord (accompanied by a lot of brash noise), the “wisdom from above” brings a pure, undefiled peace that yields righteousness. James tells us that  the “wisdom from below” yields strife and dissension—all that is contrary to peace (see James 3:13-16). But the heavenly wisdom that is described is first of all pure, having no ulterior motives fueled by selfish ambition and bitter envy. And then it is peace-loving. This is not peace at any cost, but a peace that is at the cost of the cross. It is this cost that makes this peace so other worldly. Can we really grasp this? I know I marvel at the profundity of this wisdom. I often wonder if I can even get a handle on it. Oh, I may taste it, even sip it, but do I fully appreciate this heavenly wisdom’s peace?

Lifestyle worshipers, you remember that our Lord Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives…” (John 14:27a). This is the peace He secured for us on the cross: A Peace with God (Romans 5:1-2). This is the Peace that Jesus breathed on His disciples, a peace offering forgiveness (John 20:21-23). This is the Peace that He Himself is (Eph. 2:14).

And this is the peace that surpasses all understand (Phil. 4:7). James sees the connection between Heavenly Wisdom and this transcendent peace. Would you agree that truly wise people are people who are truly at peace? And with this peace comes forgiveness and righteousness and mercy?

To me, the only way for me to even get a taste of this heavenly wisdom that is marked by peace is to continually yield to the Lord Jesus Christ’s Life in mine. And as I grow in His Life, I will grow in the wisdom that yields a peace that is truly other worldly.  Or do you think that the heavenly wisdom that brings this transcendent peace is too beyond us? How do you see appropriating the heavenly traits of this heavenly wisdom noted in James 3:17 above? Your thoughts?

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.

— Proverbs 29:11 (NIV84)

But I tell you who hear Me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.  

— Luke 6:27-28 (NIV84)

Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.

— John 7:38 (NIV84)

An Empowering Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, as You become my heavenly Wisdom, transform my mind to mirror these heavenly traits and fill my soul with Your surpassing Peace. You are my Prince of Peace! Bless Your Holy Name. Amen.