Servant of God

As I continue to read The Godly Man’s Picture, I find more and more to love about the book.

One of the things that I most recently read from the book is an examination of how a godly man is a servant of God.  Let me share here.

First, he leaves the service of sin and betakes himself to the service of God. Romans 6:22-23 tells us:

 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Everyone wants to focus on the gift of God and the wages of sin here, so I’ve never noticed how this chapter leads up to it by calling us the servants of God.  We are free to choose not to sin and to follow God in all we do, and these verses are reminders to us of that.  We are also reminded what the stakes are for refusing to turn to God and to remain in our sin.

Second, he is wholly at God’s dispose and has no will of his own. This is closely related the first one, but it is a good reminder that we are called to die to self. Luke 9:23 tells us:

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

We place God’s desires and his will above our own.  That’s the way it should be.  A recent example in our home of this is when my daughter, Emalee, was happily playing away on Just Dance, and her Daddy called me with a task for her.  He wanted her to lay down her game and go into the kitchen to ball the watermelon.  She groaned and she moaned.  She whined and complained, but she kept balling the watermelon.  I told her to look at balling the watermelon as a way of serving the family, and I shared the Luke 9:23 verse with her.  She told me that giving up her game time to help in the kitchen definitely qualified as self-sacrifice.

I’m sure we all have those kind of stories.  They may not seem as shallow as having to trade in our video game time to ball watermelon.  However, in the eyes of God, I’m not sure there that there is any acceptable reason to follow our own will ahead of that of the Father.

Third, we bind ourselves to God in conversion and baptism. It is true that baptism doesn’t save us.  We are saved by our faith alone, through God’s grace alone.  However, baptism is a deep part of showing our allegiance to God above.  Be proud to officially and publicly be able to bind yourself to him.

Fourth, the godly man works for God. I Corinthians 15:10 says:

But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

Those of us who love God want to work for him.  Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we are his workmanship and we are prepared for good works.  Work diligently for the glory of God in whatever you do because that is the task that God has ordained for you to do.  It is a gift from God for you.

Fifth, the godly man follows God. Because we are the servants of of God, we are called to follow him.  As I referenced earlier in the Luke verse, we are to deny ourselves to follow him.  No matter the hatred that others level at you.

Sixth, the godly man is willing to be at God’s allowance. We are told in the Bible that we cannot serve God and mammon.  We will forever resent one as we serve the other.  Philippians 4:12 says:

I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

The key to being a godly servant is to be content with what God gives you.  There are times when he gives a lot.  There are times when what you are given feels like crumbs off a table.  The servant of God is willing to be content with what God gives him without grasping for more.

Seventh, the godly man will stand up for the honor of Christ. Psalm 119:139 says:

My zeal hath consumed me, because mine enemies have forgotten thy words.

We are zealous defenders of Christ. We teach the world his words.  We show the world what the right way is.  According to John 15, that is why the world hates us.  It shows our loyalty to Christ.  I’ve often shied away from making a stand for Christ because I don’t want to be hated by the world and my more worldly friends.  That’s a mistake, and I regret it.

So, these are some ways that the godly man is a servant of God.  Do you recognize yourself in these statements? Or do you find that there are some areas that you’re failing in?

Cheesy Tamale Pie

Recently, I made a commitment to try more family friendly recipes, in hopes of building a list of recipes that the family really likes.  I thought it would make my cooking better and for a happier family.

One of the first recipes I tried was a very user-friendly recipe, and a great one pan meal.  I don’t know about you, but I love one pan meals because the clean up is just too easy!!

I shared a picture on my Instagram, and a couple of people asked me for the recipe, so I thought I would just share it here.

Tamale Pie

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 (15-oz) cans pinto beans, drained
  • 2 (15-oz) cans corn, drained
  • 2 (10-oz) cans enchilada sauce
  • 1 (15-oz) can tomato sauce
  • 2 (4 -oz) cans diced green chiles, drained
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1-1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 2 (6-oz) packages Jiffy corn muffin mix
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook beef and onion in large ovenproof skillet over medium heat until beef is browned and crumbly, drain and return to skillet. Stir in beans, corn, enchilada sauce, tomato sauce, green chiles, cumin, and garlic salt.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.

Stir together muffin mix and cheese.  Add milk, stirring until blended. Dollop batter over beef mixture.  Bake 20-25 minutes or until cornbread topping is golden brown.

This recipe is just tweaked a little bit from a recipe that I got off my Emeals account.  As you might can tell from the picture, it overflowed my skillet.  My skillet is a 12-inch cast iron, so it makes a huge amount of casserole.

It’s pretty heavy, so we served it with watermelon to lighten it up.

Creeps Back In

Recently, I’ve been reading the book Divergent by Veronica Roth.  The book takes place in dystopian reality where all of the local community is divided into five factions.  The reason for the divide into factions is because the leaders of the city/province had decided that it would put an end to conflict if they were to live with an be with people who were just like them.

It is like the ultimate in racial/cultural segregation.  Each sixteen year old finds his or her place in society by taking a simulated test to see which of the five factions that they belong in.

Those who are divergent are those who don’t fit in with any one group, but instead, could be a part of multiple groups because they think in a way that is not specific to the types and mores of any of the type of factions.  The main character in the book is divergent, and it puts her life in danger.

Also, there is rhetoric and fighting between the factions in the story, showing that separating into different groups did not solve the problems that the leaders had hoped that it would.

One of the most telling statements in the book is when the narrator says:

Human beings as a whole cannot be good for long before the bad creeps back in and poisons us again.

Isn’t that the truth? We try to be good, but before long, all our resolutions and and our promises to do better fail.  We always find our way back into a state of conflict with ourselves and with each other.

This is, of course, because of our own problem with indwelling sin. No matter how hard we try, we can’t rid ourselves of our flesh, and giving into our own fleshly inclinations, like in Divergent, isn’t a solution that ends up solving that problem.

As far as the book goes, it is a pretty average book in it’s genre.  I like it.  It’s entertaining. I read it because several of Emalee’s friends had read it, and she was curious about it.  It ended up not being one that I recommend her reading before high school, but it was still a fun and entertaining read enough that I will be pursuing the sequel.

Sunday Sharing

Welcome to Sunday Sharing!  It is here that I share my favorite articles and videos of the week.

First up this week is Unfruitful Branches.  I’ve been following along in the Doorposts John 15 Bible study this month, and thought that this post was a great help in interpreting the tricky phrase in John 15:2, where it says, Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away. Foster shares two common interpretations of that phrase and spends a little time having Bible study participants research some cross-references on eternal security. It’s a nice little study for that tricky verse.

One of my favorite songs right now is Good Good Father, and I found myself listening to this version some this week.  I don’t always like songs that repeat the same words over and over, but this one is one that I do like.

July 4th was a couple of weeks ago, but I happened across this Top 10 4th of July Twisted Scriptures this week, and I found it to be very helpful.  Many of these, I hadn’t thought about how they had been taken out of their context to be applied to the United States, but I can see it clearly now!

I have been studying Genesis in preparation for teaching it to a bunch of teenagers at Community Bible Study this year.  So, I loved this little piece by Spurgeon on Light and Darkness.  May I never try to unite that which God has separated.

It’s a very long read, but the article Is Wonder Woman a Good Example of Biblical Womanhood? definitely shares some ideas and some of the history of Wonder Woman in a light that I think is worthy of consideration.  As a side note, I’m constantly wondering when the Christian trend of trying to redeem everything for Christianity is going to end. Some things are just not compatible with our Christian worldview.

One of the articles that I found very convicting this week was Sloth Doesn’t Just Mean Sleep.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve avoided the hard work of organizing my house, cleaning or doing other things I knew needed to be done for extra Bible study, reading or writing.  It’s not that those things were bad.  It’s that those were not the things I was supposed to be doing in that time and place.

Loved the post Marriage is Not About You; Divorce is All About You because it reminds us  how the focus on ourselves and our own pleasure is often a key cause to relationship problems within our family.

Do you sometimes feel addicted to your smartphone?  I know I do.  That is why I could relate so much to the What We Learned from the Roller Coaster Incident from Blimey Cow.  I broke a phone a few months ago and had to get a new phone.  I had a long 5-6 hours of feeling disconnected from everyone and everything in the meantime.

I was a little alarmed this week by the fact that Teen Vogue had released on article that was a how-to guide to anal sex for teens.  Sometimes there’s just proof that the world without Christ is a horrifying place.  The articles There is a Better Way to Experience Sexuality, and Christian Parents Need to Be Talking About It is a nice counterpoint, and a reminder to me that it is my job to present a Biblical view of sexuality to my children.  My oldest is twelve, and he is embarrassed by the very mention of it all.  Still, we have to keep having the embarrassing conversations or else the world will give him a sex education I don’t mean for him to have.

The children’s ministry at the church that I attend is having talks about a revamping of our children’s ministry.  As someone who works in children’s ministry, I have found it alarming that each discussion sounds more and more as if they are focused on entertaining the children, and not as worried about worship.  This distresses me because I have found that if worship is not intentional, then worship doesn’t happen.  In that spirit, I much appreciated this article on Entertainment and Worship.  A key quote from the article that makes me think of my church is: Some try to balance the two in the name of reaching more people with the gospel, but there is an inescapable danger in overvaluing entertainment and implementing it in corporate worship.

Well, that’s about all for this week.  You might have noticed that I’m blogging again.  I dealt with some emotional distress (no worries, nothing huge) during the spring and I just didn’t feel like writing.  A couple of weeks ago, I read Tim Challies’ article Slogging Blogging, and it reminded me that some days, when I’m not feeling it, that if I’ll just start typing, I will find myself becoming inspired.  I have so many things I want to write now that I have started writing again that it is as if I have never taken a blogging break.

Loving God as a Mark of Godliness

I’ve been reading The Godly Man’s Picture lately.  I started reading it because Tim Challies invited his readers to read it along with him as part of reading the Christian classics together.  While I should have finished the book by now, I’ve been reading it in much slower fits and starts than proscribed. I read a page or two here and there, taking notes and meditating on it as I go.  (It’s just so good!!)

Today, as I was reading, I encountered the idea that the pious soul loves God.  There’s no true piety, after all, without a heart turned to God.  After all, God is the source of all piety, and our love of God is what motivates us to righteous living.

There are four results to loving God that Watson points to that I thought I would share in my post today:

1. The person who loves God thirsts after Him.  As the Psalmist says in Psalm 42:1, As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.  I enjoy my quiet times and my short times of prayer, but do I really long for those times? Can I go a day without reading and studying without longing for that time?  Do I pursue him in the way that the has pursued me?

2.  The person who loves God rejoices to think of his appearance.  2 Timothy 4:8 says, Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.  Am I really looking forward to seeing him? Do I long for him to come now?  Would I be disappointed at the thought of him coming back today? Are their milestones in my life that I think I would like to experience “before he returns?”  I can remember being a teenager and praying that the rapture would not happen before I could get married and have children.  I did not rejoice at the idea of his appearance.  Even though I pay lip service to it now, I know that many of my fears and temporal worries make me caught up in the course of this world in a way that does not rejoice at his imminent return.

3. The person who loves God longs to be with him. Philippians 1:23 says, For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:  Do I rejoice to be with him?  Do I see my quiet times as a delight or as a duty? Where are my fears at? Where I am laying up my treasure?

4. The person who loves God loves him, even though he is reduced to straits.  Although Psalm 37:25 says, I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread., I freely confess that some days it is a struggle.  There were a couple of days this week when my checking account was reduced to 84 cents. I felt very insecure and very much like I might soon be begging bread.  There have been days and even weeks when my finances were worse.  Do I still love God, even when I am going through these times? Is my zeal for him diminished when my bank account dips lower than I am comfortable with? Am I serving God or Mammon?

When I ask myself these questions about the marks of my love for God, I come out uncomfortably weak.  I find that I don’t love God as much as I would like to. I don’t love God as much as I think I do. I can only pray to God and soak myself in his word more.  By that, I trust that he will bring me into a deeper and deeper love for him.

I am the Branch

I’ve been following along in Doorposts John 15 study over the past couple of weeks. I’m starting to fall a little behind because of homeschooling and working through some things for Community Bible Study this fall, but I still work on it every day and think often about the verses.

I went through a phase a while back where I was Bible journaling every day.  Sometime around the first of the year, I stopped and went back to my normal markings and margin drawings, but every now and then I get inspired to pick up my journaling Bible and make a full drawing.

This week was one of those weeks.  I have been thinking about Jesus being the vine and myself being the branch.  I realized this week that this takes a lot of the pressure off of me.  I have been stressing out, thinking that all things in life depended on me.  That’s a really self-centered way to life.  I’ve put pressures on myself that I wasn’t meant to bear, and I have stressed in a way that I was never meant to stress.

I think that’s why Jesus said for those of us who were weary needed to take his yolk upon ourselves to find rest.  When I’m resting in Christ, I’m still working, but I’m leaving the results and the burden to him.  As I’ve thought about this, I have found this clip from a Francis Chan sermon to be very helpful.  I’m trying stay connected to him and let him do the heavy lifting.

As a reminder to myself, I picked up my pen and colored pencils and made the journaling page below.  The vine imagery that I used as a model for my vine comes from the children’s section of this John 15 lesson.

branch

For Knowledge’s Sake

I’ve always been someone who loved to learn.  I love going to lectures, sitting in classes, reading books and doing all sorts of independent study.  I love sharing  the things I learn with other people as I learn.  Sometimes there’s a practical purpose to the knowledge I accumulate.

Other times, I find myself just collecting knowledge for fun. No matter the reason for collecting knowledge, I have always found the pursuit of it worthwhile, and I have always found my life enriched in many ways.

Several times recently I have had the idea almost pounded into my head that there’s no place for the accumulation of knowledge for its own merit.

To begin with, our church has a formal discipleship program.  For the cornerstone of the program, they have keyed levels of discipleship to 2 Peter 1:5-7.  These verses say:

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

Using these verses, they explain that Peter is establishing an order in which you grow spiritually.  In these scheme, you begin with faith in Jesus.  Then, you add virtue (or right behavior) .  Following that, you add knowledge.  Then, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and finally, charity.

I don’t know that the Bible is mandating a specific and formal pattern for spiritual growth here, but I also don’t know that it isn’t.  I don’t personally feel there is enough evidence here to merit a whole formation of spiritual growth, but it is an interesting idea, and it’s one that our church has codified.  If you’re looking for a commentary that leans toward these as ordered steps, I would recommend Matthew Henry.  (I always enjoy him!)

However, that is not the focus of this post.  That was just an explanatory aside so that you understand what I was going to say next.

So, in this pattern of spiritual growth, you obey what God has shown you, and as you obey, you are given more knowledge.  The knowledge isn’t for knowledge’s sake.  Instead, the knowledge is given for virtue’s sake.

That’s a lovely way to view it in many respects.  After all, when I have knowledge that I am not using, then that knowledge is laying fallow.  However, I think that proponents of this idea haven’t realized how many aspects of life they are collecting knowledge for just the sake of learning/knowledge/schooling. These facts are being put into use and aren’t making them better, but they could be, and they are responsible for what they do with that knowledge. (I’m making a note right now so that I can spin this off into another blog post because our responsibility for our knowledge is just as important as any other aspect of this.)

The second place where I saw this idea was in Veronica Roth’s Divergent.  I have been reading it lately, trying to see what all the fuss was about, and I discovered that one of the factions was the “Erudite” faction.  The faction members were interested in knowledge and learning, but in the eyes of another faction, this is what they looked like:

Valuing knowledge above all else results in a lust for power, and that leads men into dark and empty places.

I had never associated knowledge with the acquisition of power, but I sheepishly began to think of all the times I had encountered people (sometimes people in the mirror) who would take knowledge and use it like a weapon.

I stand a little convicted here.

However, I still think the acquisition of knowledge is worthy in its own right.  I think it is important to gain knowledge because that knowledge shapes your beliefs and your view of the world.  Shaping your view of the world is what changes your walk, often allows you to have faith, and changes your life.

Still, to have knowledge, you need to have a virtuous reason for collecting it.  You need to be able to connect it to your life, and I think you need to be able to use the knowledge that you gain.  Otherwise, what is the point?  There is no point to just gaining knowledge for knowledge’s sake.