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An Idea for Manly Relationships

I know it’s grace month and I’ll post my thoughts on that soon, but I’ve got two other things I hope to get on here this month and I can’t delay any longer on the first one. I think I wrote this back in Flight School, and I think I got the idea and much of the material for it from my older brother, but a few weeks ago on a trip which got extended due to bad weather, I found this and shared it with many of the Mighty Men in my life and pray they’ll take it seriously as a covenant between us. Here it is:

mens_covenant_large502Men’s Integrity Covenant and Accountability Promise

As a man of faith I believe there is a spiritual realm in which war is waged for the souls of men.  Mine is one such soul for which the evil one, Satan, has struggled long and hard to hold captive and ultimately destroy.  I know that I alone cannot defeat such a strong force of evil.  I must rely on the strength of the Holy Spirit, Who lives inside of me, and I must form alliances with other Brothers in Christ to be a more formidable and successful force against the enemy of our souls and the demons at his service.

I confess that I have not and in the future may not always choose right, but I am binding myself to this covenant that any mistakes I make, I will make known to my allies in order to ultimately succeed.  I recognize that if I let sin dwell in my members I will be destroyed by it.  Not only will my life be ruined, but I may hurt others in the process.  I do not want this to happen, nor can I allow it to happen — the cost is too great, the stakes are too high, and the reward both now and in heaven is too precious to forsake!

My flesh desires sin and lusts after all this world has to offer; however, my spirit desires righteousness and the life of abundance God promises.  I cannot allow my flesh to overtake my spirit though they wage war against each other.  I must consider, believe, reckon, and live like my flesh has been crucified with Jesus Christ; all of my sinful desires – nailed to the cross just as He was.  I must realize that my spirit has been given new life and now is empowered by the Holy Spirit, and through Christ I am already victorious – yes, even more than a conquerer through Him Who loved me!

I promise to my brothers, those holding me accountable that I will make every effort to contact them for prayer and support whenever I feel tempted and am in the position to fall.  I know that temptation will come, but that God will provide a way out so that I may endure it. I also know that the temptation will never be more than I can bear, and that it will only make me stronger if I stand up under it and don’t give in. And I know every good and perfect gift will come from the Father as He equips me for this task.

It is my plan to have regular accountability, face-to-face or via phone, text or email, Bible reading and study, as well as dedicated and focused prayer time.  I will make every effort to meet with the Lord God Almighty at least an hour each day to strengthen my relationship with Him.  I will have an action plan and implement controls and perhaps even run immediate action drills in order to prepare for temptation.  The enemy of my soul, Lucifer, will not attack straight on but will make every attempt to flank me or attack from the rear; therefore, I must be ready for anything and have gone through each scenario ahead of time.

No matter what, this war in the spiritual realm that is waged for my soul cannot be taken lightly or it will be lost, and failure is not an option for this servant of the King and warrior in God’s mighty fighting force!

Behold today is the day, put on your war face, let out your battle cry, and let the Devil and his minions — bring it on!

OOOORRAAAHHHH!!!!!!!!

Linked verses: Ephesians 3:16; Romans 7:23; Proverbs 13:6; Prov 7:21; Isaiah 26:9; John 10:10; Galatians 5:17; Galatians 2:20; Romans 8:37;  1Peter 1:5-15; Ephesians 6:19; I Corinthians 10:13; James 1:17

Groping to Grasp God’s Grace – April’s theme

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I’ve attempted to start writing this a few times this month. There’s only one day left in the month and I don’t want to save it till then, so I’m just going to go to work and brain dump the lessons I’ve learned this month as God has shown me how much grace I need and how much grace He has.

I decided pretty early in the month that what I planned to give up would be “blaming others.” I think I’ve done ok with this, but I do have a tendency to blame the devil, which I’m usually quite happy to do; however I have also realized how important it is to take responsibility for my own actions since the devil rarely works alone… I actually had a very unusual thought, maybe a bit controversial, but because of how I understand “end times prophecy,” (and I can definitely be wrong) it seems to me that when the devil gets let back out at the end of the 1,000 year reign, perhaps he too is a recipient of what we could call “grace.” However, we learn through the prophetic vision of John that the devil despises God’s grace. Likewise, when we continue to reject God’s ways, we despise His grace as well, and the consequences, though at times delayed, are dire indeed!

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Much has been written about the grace of God, and God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense is probably the most clear and concise way of articulating this undeserved favor we receive from Him. What I think has happened with the idea of grace is a watering down of why it is necessary. The world I live in is very wrapped up in deserving or being entitled to things. We finished our Bible study on forgiveness this morning, and I explained that sometimes we don’t think people deserve to be forgiven if their apology isn’t good enough. I reminded our small group that Jesus clearly said how we should forgive and what would happen if we dont! Paul reiterated we need to forgive as we have been forgiven Another time when Jesus sent out the apostles to do God’s work, He gave them a principle that surely also applied to forgiveness – freely we have received, we ought to freely give… Even though people say “I’m sorry, but…” or “I’m sorry you were offended…” and even though we all agree that these aren’t really apologies, we need to realize, God offered forgiveness to us before we apologized to Him — Christ died for us while we were still sinners

Forgiveness is just one of many parts of life that require God’s grace, and there are so many more reasons to boldly approach God’s throne of grace to obtain mercy and find grace in our time of need! But this blog post is already long enough!!!

20130429-184523.jpgI’ll just add one more thought: I was given a book by Kay Arthur which I considered trying to read this month, but I’m already in way too many books… I learned from Kay Arthur when I was a kid being taught the Precept Ministries way to study the Bible by my mother. This book is calledLord, I need grace to make it today and I think it’s one of those books you get a lot from just because of the title… Maybe during Grace Month next year I’ll read it…

For now, I must turn to “Service Month” which is 2 days away, but the lessons I’ve learned in “Grace Month” have been priceless! I hope you took away a lesson or two as well… Thanks for taking the time to join me! I know there’s other names and themes for the months that people have given them, but I read somewhere not to be conformed to this world… While being aware of alcohol abuse or sexual assault is very important, I believe God’s grace alone is sufficient, and I want to give my utmost to make people aware of that fact!

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Grace & Peace,
Adam

Linked verses: 2 Corinthians 12:9, Ephesians 2:7, Revelation 20, Matthew 18:22, Mark 11:26, Ephesians 4:32, Matthew 10:8, Romans 5:8, Hebrews 4:16, Romans 12:2

A dissenting view to my 1000 year reign understanding can be found: here.

Mercy, Mercy, Mercy – A Meditation for March

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“The steadfast love of The Lord never ceases, His mercy never comes to an end.” Lamentations 3:22

This one is hard for me. I’m not naturally merciful. My wife is. I have a friend, who’s been a mentor for a long time, and he’d say he’s not naturally merciful either. His wife is. I can’t think of a more contrasting relationship than the ones where the wife’s gift is mercy, and the husband’s gift appears to be “emotionless” punishment. But I’m sure that many people have experienced this and seen how God can make it work.

I’m past the half way point in this month and wish I would have committed the time to write about this topic sooner. I feel like I should have put more thought into mercy early on. I don’t think I could ever put enough thought into mercy… Perhaps that’s why God gave me a wife who is so good at it – a constant reminder of what I need!

I would like to get systematic with these monthly meditations to prevent this procrastination… I remember last September I did a better job of preparing for “Praise and Worship month” — I tried to remember to say Hallelujah at least 10 times a day, and it was awesome! Maybe for the rest of this month I’ll start each day with the prayer of the tax collector: “Lord God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

As I try to think of things to give up during this month’s meditation, I’m sure my son would be happy if I decided not to punish him… But God says through the wisdom of Solomon that to fail to discipline a son shows hate for him! Another prophet says that God requires us to love mercy, but God disciplines the ones He loves. So there’s a pretty solid connection between love and discipline as well as the unity between mercy and love – often those words are used interchangeably in different translations. Psalm 136 is a great place to see that.

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So I’ll close with a couple conclusions as I continue this crusade of compassion. 1) I will give up getting angry when I discipline my children, and 2) I will take up a more understanding disposition to instruct them in the right way hopefully preventing punishment for doing things the wrong way.

I am enjoying the flow from February to April of Love to Grace with Mercy in the middle. I didn’t plan that. Each monthly meditation mysteriously manifest itself in my mind last year. I personally believe God wants me to become better at showing these traits, and I’m praying His Holy Spirit teaches me how!

Have mercy on me… This might take a while!

Peace,
Adam

Linked verses:
Luke 18:13
Proverbs 13:24
Micah 6:8
Hebrews 12:6

God’s Love – February’s Focus

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Someone once said “all you need is love.” And while I tend to agree with the sentiment, my rationalizing mind rejects the notion vehemently, as I think of oxygen, food and water, etc… MOOP needs a lot more than love, BUT I AM spending this month thinking about just how much I need it!

In a Bible Study I am involved with we’ve been discussing the 3 things that remain, endure, last for all times: Faith, Hope and Love. The “Love Chapter” ends by stating that “the greatest of these is love.” I caution people against elevating one thing because of the natural result of diminishing everything else. This happens because we’re fallen and unbalanced people who can’t see clearly enough to recognize our own faults many times and need other people to serve as mirrors for our selfish souls. I believe that only God can elevate one thing above others without diminishing the value of those other things. He’s God. He can do whatever He wants. And He’s the One Who breathed this Scripture into existence so, I trust Him at His word even though I only understand it “in part.”

We’ve had a great time over the past 2 weeks at this early morning fellowship just talking about faith, hope and love, and asking questions about each. I’ve learned a lot about how much I need to intentionally focus on showing love. I’ve also learned that it’s not enough to just show love the way I think love is shown, but rather, I need to study people and find out how they receive love. Just about everyone had heard of “the love languages” and the books written about them. I’d wager though, that among those who’ve heard about this concept, its only a small percentage of people that actually understands, believes, and puts it into practice. I sure don’t! It’s a lifelong quest! But this will be the month I focus specifically on learning more about this verb of love, and to what I hope will be the delight of my wife: practicing speaking her love language!

Lastly, since I want these monthly focuses to be two fold: taking up something AND giving up something else, I plan to refrain from what I think is the opposite of love: selfishness. I want to make sure my time is not only seen by me as MY time, and I’ll do my best to keep that in mind as I set my sights on loving like Jesus loved.

Be blessed as you give and receive the greatest of these, my friends!

In His Love,
Adam

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Oh, and happy Valentines Day!

Aside

Perfect Peace – January’s theme

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Writing something that is forced is difficult.  It’s difficult to be at peace at the end of a week like the one we just had.  Ask my wife, and she’ll tell you – “difficult” is the understatement of a lifetime.  Sickness has a way of stealing our peace, among other things.  But tonight, after many things have “worked themselves out,” and we appear to be out of the woods with the illnesses, it seems peaceful.  Therefore I write feeling a little less forced than I did with that first sentence.

There are many passages in Scripture that talk about peace, and anyone reading this doesn’t need me to go on and on about them, you can google the word “peace” + the word “Bible” and have quite the plethora of resources right in front of you.  I just did it.  The results are good.  The third one on the list is my favorite, and my theme verse for this month: “You [God] will keep him [me] in perfect peace whose mind is set stedfast on You, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3) And the next verse says that “in the Lord is everlasting strength.” That reminds me of the Reagan era motto: “Peace through Strength,”  I’ve even got a ball cap with that on it.  But tonight I’d like to go a different direction with peace, and this will be my meditation for the month of January:White Flag of Surrender

Peace through surrender.

Last year I was fortunate enough to be placed on the South Korea trip.  While there, we were fortunate enough to get a tour of the DMZ.  I learned a lot that day.  I thought the Korean War was over.  It’s not.  Sure, they’ve got a cease-fire agreement, which is supposed to have ended it, and we (the USA) aren’t fighting over there anymore, but technically the two countries are still at war.
Why?
Because neither side has surrendered.
Then I thought of all the wars since WWII which have “ended.”
DMZ N and S Korea DMZ

I also thought of the current wars.

I realized that it costs a lot to make the other side surrender, and it costs even more to be the side that surrenders. I realized that not many are willing to pay those costs – neither the cost to force it or the cost associated with agreeing to it.

I can’t help but apply this spiritually.  I think there are many who think the battle with evil is over, that because they believe in Jesus, they have some sort of “cease-fire agreement” with the devil.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Our enemy is very active, and we must fight against his forces – we’re equipped and empowered to do so.  What we need to realize however is that the battle belongs to the Lord.  That’s where the Isaiah 26 passage and many others come to assist us.  All of these Scriptures declare the necessary centrality of surrender to the King of Kings – the Lord Who is a Warrior, Who fights for us, raises up a standard against our enemy, surrounds us with a wall of fire and is a shield around us and a strong tower for us to run into.  But there is a cost associated with finding this peace through surrender, it’s the cost associated with discipleship, and the cost of discipleship is great; but oh so worth it!

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I pray you would find the peace that is beyond comprehension, that passes all understanding, I pray your hearts would be guarded and your mind would be shielded.  I pray you’ll think on these things.  I think it’s a great way to start the year!

Peace,

Adam

Linked verses:
Isaiah 26:3 (of course) and vs 4 too
Revelation 19:16, Exodus 15:3, Deuteronomy 1:30, Isaiah 59:19, Zechariah 2:5, Psalm 3:3, Proverbs 18:10
Luke 14:33 Matthew 11:28
Phil 4:6-7 & vs 8 as well

Finishing well before starting

It’s the last day of the year, and I’ve delayed writing enough.  One of my goals for next year is to be more consistent with this… among other things.000181120

I was able to finish the streak I started a couple days before 2012 started.  Although I went to South Korea back in March (still need to blog about that trip) I was able to log at least 1 mile every 24-hour period of my life in 2012.  Sometimes I did 1 mile just before midnight and 1 mile just after, (I think I did that about 7 times) and many times I did 1.05 just to make sure I got a full mile of running, since the speed up and slow down on the treadmill ticked a couple hundredths off before I got to the desired speed.  But when it was all said and done (at about 1212 last night/this morning) at least 365 miles were logged on these feet of mine, and that gives me the motivation and confidence for the goals this next year.  Although I plan to keep running, this time it will be 100 pushups per day, every day, no matter what.  I doubt I’ll do 100 prior to midnight and 100 after, but who knows…

Anyway, here’s what I really wanted to write about this afternoon.  Setting up a systematic approach to every month of the year.  I got this idea back in June after reading “Humility” by Andrew Murray, I “gave up” media for a month.  At the end of the book Andrew Murray challenges the reader to stop everything: don’t read, don’t write, don’t watch TV or listen to the radio, just pray that God would take away pride and make you more humble.  I was going to blog about the experience, but it was one of those times when I felt like God was saying: “This is just for you, kiddo.”

So, after Humility month in June, with the 4th of July in my sights, I decided it was time for “Freedom Month” and from there I designated something to focus on for every month, and something to give up.  In July I gave up caffeine and alcohol to practice being free from the effects of substances.  In November (Thanksgiving Month) I gave up complaining.  The 12 months are still a work in progress, but here’s what I’ve got so far, with a verse of meditation added to help me stay focused:

  1. January: “Peace Month” (Isaiah 26:3)
  2. February: “Love Month” (1 Corinthians 13:1-7)
  3. March: “Mercy Month” (Lamentations 3:22)
  4. April: “Grace Month” (Acts 4:33)
  5. May: “Serving Month” (Mark 10:45)
  6. June “Humility Month” (James 4:6-10)
  7. July: “Freedom Month” (John 8:36 & Galatians 5:1)
  8. August: “Meditation Month” (Joshua 1:8 & Psalm 1:2)
  9. September: “Praise & Worship Month” (Psalm 146:1 & Revelation 21:9)
  10. October: “Holiness Month” (1 Peter 1:16)
  11. November: “Thanksgiving Month” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
  12. December: “Generosity Month” (1 Timothy 6:18)

So there they are, I’ll do my best to post at least once a month on each of these with what I plan to remove/give-up/sacrifice for the 29-31 day period to help me focus on what I’m putting into practice/taking-up/offering to grow in the knowledge of The Holy.

Happy New Year folks.  See you in 2013.

Peace,
Adam

The Common Denominator is the Common Dominator.

About a year ago, I “got into it” with a few of my strong brothers in Christ. Many times we who argue unfortunately misapply the “iron sharpens iron” verse until we realize we are quite a bit more dull than when we started… This case was no exception.

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While I have discussed some more controversial topics, I don’t think I have had more controversy with any three individuals than the three I’m alluding to who will remain anonymous for this public post.

Two of them said that if I have this problem with others, the problem might be with me, and while I agreed with that statement, my self-justifying nature quickly pointed out that there were many with whom I did not have “this problem.” Another of the 3 said there must be some common denominator with those who argue with me so passionately about topics that may or may not be “essentials of the faith.”

This idea of a “common denominator” really got me thinking, and until now – about a year later – I’ve kept my thoughts to myself. But a couple days ago in Tampa the thoughts flooded my mind, so I grabbed my iPhone and went to work on my note pad to post this later to the blog.

The common denominator with me and “the 3″ – I am certain – is none other than pride. I believe strongly, after reading this book by Andrew Murray and this one by CJ Mahaney, and after looking at numerous passages in Scripture and having numerous conversations with other Believers – I am so thoroughly convinced that pride is the root of dissension arguments that I am making every effort to remove this word, in any of it’s forms, from my vocabulary. I will no longer “take pride” in my work – I will do it with all my heart for the Lord. I will no longer “be proud” of my sons – I will be well pleased that they follow hard after Christ. I will no longer proudly serve my country. I will kneel humbly as a servant of the One True God, the Humble King who died for me – and by doing so, I will confidently approach His throne of grace to find the mercy I need to discharge my duties faithfully as an Officer of Marines.

I hope these thoughts will be humbly received by anyone who confesses their pride long enough to consider them.

20120922-180950.jpgOne thing is sure, if this common denominator (which most certainly resides underneath us all) is given root, it will do it’s dividing work, eventually and ultimately dominating anyone and anything it touches.

Lord forgive us for our pride, grant us the humility that only You can give, in Christ’s Name – Amen.

Peace,
Adam

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