Dwelling – Back to the basics.

What is on my heart to explore is how what we DWELL upon affects how we live.  The initial answer is pretty clear, but the more I think about how this works in my life and the life of others, it is not so simple.

Remember being told – “you are what you eat.”  This is so true physically.  Eat junk-food and it leads to being full of junk-food without what we really need to live a healthy life.  Eating poorly may not start of seeming so bad, but stay on that path and it leads to poor heath and if nothing changes death.

What we dwell on “feeds” our actions.  What we think about leads to our actions.  Therefore, it matters what we think about.  You might be thinking, duh, but what are you doing?  Are you living a faithful life according to Gods’ will or something else?

It seems like the first response to this question for many is to bring up perfection.  Well, nobody is perfect.  Living a faithful life is not about perfection on earth, but it does require being perfected.  Here I go again getting all complicated.

Which way are you going?  There are only two ways!  Following Jesus on the narrow way (Matthew 7:13-14), or other.  What we are doing, how we are living, starts with on what or whom are we thinking (dwelling).

When we dwell on anything other than “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable – if there is any more excellence and if there is any praise – DWELL on these things.  Do what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.”  Philippians 4:8-9

On what am I dwelling?

Opportunity leads to decision

The more I explore this idea of dwelling, the more aspects and details I learn are part of the whole process.  Last time, I encourage you to read it if you haven’t yet, I challenged us to recognize that at the beginning of anything and everything we have an opportunity.

I believe embarrassing the idea of opportunity is essential because  – opportunity leads to decision.

Let me see if I can explain what I mean.

Have you ever considered if you live passively most of the time?  Think about most days.  Do you typically live by routine, go with the flow, and or let circumstances or others make decisions for you?  You might ask me, what is the problem with living this way, I am glad you asked.

Let’s go back to the example, I used this last time as well, of starting each day.  If we start passively, without intention, we nearly always start without Jesus.  I know this true for me because it is how I lived my first 40 or so years.  How about you?

Living passively is living without conscious decision, unintentionally.

I believe failing to start nearly every day in prayer and Bible study, leads to a passive life.  In a way it is a self-fulfilling prophesy.  Live without intentionality leads to living passively.  Living passively leads to leaving our relationship with God out of our daily life.  Leaving God out of our life is a passive life.

Making the most of every opportunity leads to, when Jesus is our Lord, dwelling well.

I am not suggesting that God wants us to be decisive leader type people all the time, but I do believe He wants us to live purposeful lives.  If we are letting circumstances or others make most of the decisions for us, then it is unlikely we are living spiritually faithful lives.  Yea, this is a strong statement.

Isn’t it time to dwell well – live intentionally/obediently to God’s will?

Significance of “dwelling” well. Part 3

Finally, I am getting to one of the lessons I believe I am learning about dwelling.  Our first impression, feeling, or reaction to anything and everything is the first “opportunity”. 

Lesson 1:  Everything starts as an opportunity.

I just spent a lot of time asking the Lord in prayer what this first – lesson – really is.  To be transparent,  I had no clarity at the beginning of writing that dwelling is related to a series of opportunities.  This is an exciting new insight for me and I hope you will see for you as well. 

I believe opportunity is the better, but maybe still not the best, term because that is what we have in the Lord.  I believe opportunity describes well the situation at the very begging of everything. 

Ok, here is your first opportunity of this blog post.  What situations do not start as opportunities?  I honestly can’t think of any at this moment and I would like your input.

The reason I believe this idea of opportunity is so important is because the next step sets in motion how we proceed.  I believe we can nearly always stop and change “directions”, but in general how we start leads to how we continue.  Too often we only stop when damage had been done. 

I am confident most of us would agree with what I just shared, but I don’t believe we realize the significance of this truth. 

Let’s use the example of every day as a new beginning.  Regardless of our first thought in the morning: a busy day, did the alarm go off on time, what is that screaming, what is that pain, etc., we begin the day with opportunity. 

I believe too often we don’t respond to the first opportunity each day with purpose.  If we realized that everything begins with opportunity we will be more intentional with our next step in everything, every day.

Here is my concern.  If I don’t grow to realize each beginning is important, then we lose the change to begin well.  If we begin well, we will tend to “dwell” well.  If we begin poorly, …

So, what can we do?  We have only one limitless option – ask the Lord to teach us this lesson.  Imagine being able to respond well to every opportunity, every beginning.  Imagine being able to dwell on what is good and true, on the Lord.  I pray now for you Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians – Ephesians 3:14-21. 

Let’s learn to dwell well in response to every opportunity. 

(Please don’t hesitate to comment, I want to hear anything including constructive criticism.)

Significance of “dwelling” well. Part 2

Remember the V-Rod motorcycle I told you about, I sure do?  Let me pick up the story and share more about the importance of dwelling well.

If I had chosen to keep dwelling on the V-Rod; researching about it, getting pictures of them and putting them where I would see them often, and generally thinking about owning one,  I probably would have ended up buying one.  Since owning a motorcycle is not a sin, this may or may not have been a problem.

But what about dwelling on something that is sin-worthy?  What about FEAR?  This is one of the most destructive topics to consider though lots of others will be explored including: lust, pride, money, people, sports, etc.

1 John 4:18 says that “There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love.” (HCSB)

Wow, what a verse.  It sounds like we either love or fear.  What is your first response to this verse?

Does this verse motivate and inspire you immediately to cast off all fear in order to live according to love or to feel some version of defeat?  If you recognize your first feelings were on the side of negativity you are not alone.  I encourage you to write down, don’t wait, your best definition, in as much details as possible, of your first feeling as you read the verse.

Fear is a dangerous and deceptive emotion when debilitating.  It is natural to every human as it protects us from dangers: lions, bears, etc.  A healthy fear keeps us focused and aware, but doesn’t keep us from proceeding wisely.  Unhealthy fear keeps us from proceeding and traps us.

In the first post I shared the key question regarding dwelling.  How does dwelling on something affect us spiritually?  Let’s keep this question in mind as we proceed, because what we dwell on either leads to benefits or consequences.

Fear starts off helping us, but if we then dwelling on the object of our fear, it typically becomes all consuming.  Fear leads to either benefits or consequences.  I believe dwelling is a key principle determining the outcome.

Do you tend to dwell on the object of your fear?  Do you often become unable to make a decision out of fear?  Remember, maybe memorize, 1 John 4:18.  Dwell on love and fear will be kept in its proper place.

Please come back soon for the next part.

Significance of “dwelling” well. Part 1 of ? ( I really don’t know.)

Over the last six years as a church-planting pastor I have learned so much about just about everything.  Maybe mostly I have learned how little I know, how much I still have to learn, and how slow I am at the deeper processes of learning.  (I am fighting the urge to explore the last statement, but will leave that for future posts).  Literally the Lord continues to “renew” (Romans 12:2), redefine, my understanding of all things spiritual.  (Again, a whole can-of-topics for me are being put on my writing shelf regarding the last sentence.)

The lesson I want to try to focus on with this blog is dwelling.

I love bicycles, cars, and just about any mechanical device.  God made me an engineer and later called me to ministry.

One day in Moscow, Russia my attention became fixed on one of the most beautiful and mesmerizing machines I have ever seen – a Harley Davidson V-Rod motorcycle.  Though I grew up in a family that vilified, too dangerous, motorcycles other than for off-road use, I could not quit looking at this motorcycle.

At first glance I was in awe.  At second glance I began to notice the machine and it’s details.  For the next minutes, I could have stared at it for an hour, I was drawn deeper and deeper into it’s clutches (pun not intended).  I was hooked and for the first time in my life considered buying a street motorcycle.  Even today if I were to seriously consider buying a street bike, it would be a V-Rod.

How did the V-Rod become my standard for a street motorcycle?  Good question you ask, but that is not the right question, sorry.

I believe the more important question is how does dwelling on something affect us spiritually?  The motorcycle is just a beautiful machine to me, but it could have become much more and here-in lies the danger or the benefit.

What we dwell on either leads to benefits or dangers.

Now that I hope I have your attention, stay “tuned” for the next part.

Call it what it is.

Last week was Valentine’s Day, even in Poland.  This holiday, if you can call it that, continues to spread around the world.  You might have detected, I have a concern.

It seemed like nearly everything from popup windows on my computer browser, store decorations, to billboards were selling the day of “love” – or were they?  It seemed to me they were all selling lust.

Ok, so I am trying to make a point.  Lust is a strong word and may not best define what is being sold on Valentine’s Day.  Romantic love may be more accurate, but since most couples (I don’t have data to support this statement) who celebrated Valentine’s Day were not married, this may make my point.

Valentine’s Day is focusing on only one way we use the word love.  Sadly, I believe, the word love has lost nearly all of its true value as it is used too unintentionally.  I can love bicycles (which is almost true), certain types of food, clothes, animals, and just about anything.  I can also love my wife, my family, and my friends.  So in the end I describe my relationship with bicycles the same way as I do my wife?  Do I truly love them both?

I am no Greek language scholar and I don’t want to bog-down this blog, but I have grown to appreciate that there were four words at the time of the Bible we too often translate as love.  In the Bible the word nearly always translated love is – agape.  This is the truest definition of love.

I suggest using Biblehub.org to assist your deeper research into the four words for love.

Briefly, one word for love describes the bond between family members.  A second is used between true friends.  The third is “Valentine’s Day” love which is a perfectly wonderful word to describe the exclusive relationship between people in a romantic relationship.  The “type” of love nearly always described in the Bible is the one modeled by God.  (I turn it over to you to research the love God modeled for us, agape.)

What is my point in the blog?  I am glad you asked.

Valentine’s Day is not a day to celebrate love.  It is a day to celebrate the wonderful and amazing relationship God has created between one man and one woman.  It is a day to celebrate romance and the “gushy” feelings we have for either the person we are considering as our life-long spouse, or is our life-long spouse.   It is also a day to enjoy the incredible union God designed for a married couple, but this is not the greatest form of love because it has another name.

Valentine’s Day is the day of: physical attraction, romance, and only in marriage physical intimacy.  True LOVE is much greater than all of these combined.  God modeled this love by sending His beloved Son to be the Savior of all mankind.

The greatest form of love is not received, it is given!

BTY, true love is a vital part of a Godly and growing relationship between one man and one woman and it is to be given sacrificially to the other every single day.

The Curse of конечно.

The curse of конечно – conyeshna (pronounced: con – yesh – na, where the yesh is yes with a sh at the end.)

I want to explain this phrase that God put on my heart about 10 years ago.  I don’t remember exactly how it started, but God continues to use it in my life and I hope you will let Him use it in yours as well.

Have you ever noticed how we often assume things when we are talking?  For example.  Who is the most important person in your life?

My wife and children come to mind first, how about you?  My son and daughter-in-law are also important.  But my granddaughter is the most important person in my life.  Oops, that’s not right.  Denise, yea, she is the most important person in my life.  (That was purposeful and to be a joke.  FYI)

Is the first person that came to your mind truly the most important person, are they really?

Was your first answer Jesus?  Isn’t He the most important person in your life?  Did you “assume” that I was meaning the most important being someone here on earth?  I am assuming, a second example of assuming, that you are a Christian and that you have accepted God’s grace.  When was the last time you really felt the weight of your eternal demise until God revealed to you His redemption at the cost of His beloved Son?

Now, how would you answer the original question?  Oh, well, OF COURSE Jesus is the most important person.  He is my Savior and my Lord.  Of course I meant that Jesus is the most important person in my life.

Conyeshna  is the Russian word in Latin characters meaning – of course.

Recently I shared a message about the sheep and the goats out of Matthew 25.  Verse 41 records that Jesus taught the goats are those “who are cursed”.  What does it mean that someone is cursed?  Let’s explore the answer generally and not specifically in context of Matthew 25.

If there were such things as magic spell and curses?  What do all the good people desire to happen to a curse?  In all the fairy tails the curses require someone to come along with the ability to “break” it.

Therefore, the “curse of the conyeshna” is the curse of of course.  It sounds so much better to me in Russian.  Here is the same idea in Polish – the curse of oczywiście.  This to me is also way cooler than in English, but that is not so much here-nor-there.

The curse of of course reminds me that I need help from The One who can break my tendency to leave out the most important.  He is teaching me how to get better at my first thoughts and statements to be the overlooked, the sometimes assumed, or worse the too often forgotten.  This phrase reminds me to search for the best answer instead of just what comes to mind.

I believe the greatest lesson I am learning, out of many, because of seeking to apply the curse of conyeshna at all times is to be reminded of who is the King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16).  Keeping in mind that He is my Lord and King reminds me that I am His bond-servant (Romans 1:1) like Paul.  The result is learning to live more intentionally and faithfully to seeking and obeying God’s will.

This is just the tip-of-the-iceberg regarding this subject for me.  The application of this principle is changing how I talk, what I believe, how I study God’s word, and everything else.  But that is for another blog.

I encourage you to let Jesus, the only one who can, break the curse of conyeshna by His teaching you every day as His disciple through prayer, His word, and the Holy Spirit.

What were they thinking!

Since 1999 I have been learning languages. A somewhat humerus detail about me is that I am the guy that said after graduating from college, out-loud, “I am done studying forever”. Yes, God has a sense of humor.

Since graduating from college, a miracle and or mercy on the part of the university, I have earned a Masters of Divinity (also a miracle) as well as study two languages. So, what does this have to do with the “they” in my title? I am so glad you wondered.

What were the people of Bable thinking? Ok, when we read Genesis 11:1-9 we get an idea of what they were thinking, but only a limited one for sure. Here is my “hang-up” with them, now we have 100s of languages to learn because of their choices.

To be honest I just read the passage again with a less self-oriented perspective. I really want to blame the people of Bable for my need to study Polish today. But it sure doesn’t really sound like it is mostly their fault. Bummer, I can’t blame them. I can’t blame God, He is perfect. All I have left is to quit griping and get to studying.

The passage makes it clear that God chose to confuse them and not necessarily that they had some kind of evil plot or plan. It is not clear to me if verse 4 is hinting at a bigger issue that God only knew. What seems ironic is that the very thing they thought would keep them from getting spread over the earth – got them spread all over the earth.

So, there ya go, one more blog added to the millions with little meaningfulness. I will end this blog with little to no conclusion and or purpose. This is partially true because I need to close the computer and pull out my flash cards with Polish vocabulary.

Na razie.

On a roll?

I am in general a terrible speller, in any language. In high school my teachers must have shown me my mistakes, but were not able to help me discover my unique challenges in this area.

In college, yes surprisingly they did let me into college, I was nearing graduation and found I had an English requirement that was incomplete. It ended up being a spelling test. By this time Denise had helped me improve a little in spelling. I took the test and went went to an office to receive my results.

The big concern was that a bad score would mean more classes, delaying graduation. I was quite nervous when I went for my appointment. The office worker looked at my score and their first indication was not encouraging. It was clear my results were not so good, as I had expected.

The office worker gathered some paperwork and asked what was my teaching emphasis. I asked them to repeat the question, something was wrong. My answer was that I was an engineering student.

The officer worker immediately changed demeanor. When before I could tell they didn’t want to give me all the bad news, now they were happy. They said that my scores were not good enough for a teacher, but as an engineer I had passed. I asked why the difference in criteria. They explained that a teacher must write correctly on a board to teach students. An engineer will have some kind of a secretary to “clean-up” spelling errors.

I was so relieved and not nearly as concerned as I should have been about my spelling inability.

Well, things have improved immensely since that event nearing 30 years ago. Denise helped me spell better, but one “thing” had honestly helped to improve my spelling – the spelling checker. What you don’t know is that so far in this post I have used the spell checker about 10 times.

I believe spell checker is helpful due to the immediate feedback it provides. When I mispell (literal example though you may not see the red underline) I see the error underlined in red. Since I see that I misspelled, misspell, I know that I need to rethink this word. I have learned to take a moment or two to ascertain my error, if possible, before getting the program to help me with the correct spelling.

Why is all this significant? Why did I write this post? No real reason, I just felt like this was what I wanted to write.

It all started with the title of this blog. I looked at the spelling of the word – roll – and realized that this may not be the right spelling. I think this is the correct spelling for the specific shape of bread, but I also think it is what we do when we move a huge rock, or play Rock & Roll.

I am confident you know that there are other ways to spell, roll. Here is how for decades I have managed to “creatively spell”; role, roal, rol. I was confident the last two examples are not real word, but do you see my dilemma (I just asked for help spelling that word). Too many options.

My rambling is done. Now I will send this off into the “cloud” of computing and hope that very few people ever read this post. (Insert smile or grimace.)

Two in a row.

Don’t “they” say that repeating something two times is the beginning of a habit? If not, “they” should. I guess it really depends on two becoming three, and ultimately the activity becomes routine or a habit. (I am babbling about a second post in a row starting this year.)

Yes, my plan is to continue to be totally random for a while and write what comes to mind. Maybe this is stating the obvious, but that can be a good thing.

Speaking of habits. They can be good as well as bad. Doesn’t it seem like the word has taken almost a totally negative connotation? Maybe there is a better word for the positive things we do that are essentially automatic. I guess routine may be a better word than a positive habit. What do you think?

Isn’t it, as you can see I think it is, interesting how the meaning of words changes. Here are a few examples that I believe need a “rediscovery”; Christian, church, and love. I hope this year to explore some of these words and work to rediscover their meaning. The result may be that new words are required for the original purpose, but that is to be explored.

Back to habits. I want to be nearly habitual in my spiritual disciplines. Please don’t jump to the conclusion that this means ritualistic or religious. (Religious is another word to explore.)

I believe that one of the best expressions of spiritual discipline is habitual. By this I mean making spiritual disciplines an absolutely inviolable part of my daily life. That literally the very first thing I do each morning without fail is to consciously talk with the Lord. Not limited to that I “must” be faithful in this, but that I “get to be” faithful in response to what God has done and is doing in me.

I believe intentionally giving up lordship to my life after saying good morning and thanking Him generally for another day to breath and live is spiritually essential. In other words choosing to reject lordship of my own life that day by giving it up so that He will literally be my Lord and Master.

Following the potentially meaningless declaration of lordship is action. I find the tougher part of this essential process is truly giving up my life and obediently doing God’s will the next moment and the rest of the day. It is easy to say I am going to “die to myself” (Galatians 2:19-20) and then at the end of the day realized I never even opened God’s word or really asked what I was to do that day.

Last week I was helping a guy prepare the sermon for Sunday. It was wonderful to hear him seek a deeper understanding, as am I, of what it means to live James 2:14-26. Faith in action – what does that really look like every day? It looks literally like Jesus life! I believe it is also God’s desire that others see me and get a better than pathetic perspective of obedience to God’s will daily.

Paul was bold to state it this way in 1 Corinthians 11:1. “Be imitators of me, as I also am of Christ.” (Berean Literal Translation). Isn’t that to be the living statement, in word and deed, of every person who calls themselves a Christian?

Ok, enough for now minus one more thing.

Praise the Lord for His amazing, perfect, limitless, and relentless grace.