Author Archives: daytontn

One Millisecond Away Grace

“If God were not a self-replenishing, all-sufficient, everlasting fountain of future grace, there would be no hope for sinners. If God has been gracious only in the past, but will not be in the future, Christians are of all people most to be pitied. Our life hangs on future grace…So we must ask again, What is future grace? We have seen that it is grace that carries me from this moment on. It is one millisecond away and ten billion ages away. All of God’s goodness and power that will be exerted for me before I finish this sentence, and all the goodness and power that will sustain me beyond the grave forever is future grace.”

John Piper, Future Grace, Multnomah Publishers, 1995, p.75.

“…we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; because of the hope laid up for you in the heavens” (Colossians 1:5)

Several years ago, there was a movie titled, Hope Floats.  Isn’t there a sense it which hope floats our faith?!  Hope in God and in “His precious and magnificent promises” (2 Pet. 1:4) is our fuel for faithful living today.

In light of the fact that we find our strength in God, how foolish it would have been for us today to neglect our fellowship with Him!  I like how one Puritan writer put it, “And let me not lay my pipe too short of this fountain, never touching the eternal spring, never drawing water from above” (The Valley of Vision, Self-Knowledge, The Banner of Truth Trust, 1975, p.69).

Our striving for reality will be in vain if we attempt to do so in our pathetic, human effort.

Selah.

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4 Lessons from Brett Favre

150718_brett-favre-hall-of-fame

I broke my fast from the NFL Saturday night to watch the induction ceremony of Brett Favre into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame.  Like all viewers, I was particularly interested in what Brett would have to say in his acceptance speech.  The speech was surprisingly long and somewhat discombobulated, but four things really stood out to me–4 lessons from the now-retired #4.

Lesson 1Give glory to God.  Brett struggled a little as he communicated that he has learned that God had blessed him and that God deserves the glory for all the good that transpired, but he said it.  He thanked God. I don’t know whether or not Favre is a Christian, but the Apostle Paul tells us that unbelievers do not honor God nor give Him thanks (Rom. 1:21).  I was encouraged that Brett made sure he publicly thanked God.

Lesson 2All people matter.  In his lengthy address, Brett thanked everyone he could think of.  Everyone.  He didn’t simply mention the guys who sit behind the big desks in the front office and the members of his immediate family.  He mentioned his coaches, his teammates, his trainers and the security and maintenance personnel in the Packers organization.  I found it humorous until it dawned on me that he was going out of his way to thank the folks in the trenches, not just those at the line of scrimmage.  He praised and thanked everyone that enabled him to be successful.  All people matter, and Brett made that evident Saturday night.

Lesson 3Humility.  One thing evident from the events Saturday night was that Brett was a bit uncomfortable with all the accolades.  He stated at one point that he had come to learn humility.  He actions and words this weekend gave indication that this is indeed a reality in his life.  If the New Testament addresses any subject, it surely hits on the issue of humility.  We are to live like Jesus, putting others before ourselves (Phil. 2:3).  Hard to do, but possible to do so consistently with the assistance of the Holy Spirit.

Lesson 4A desire to be known as a man of God.  When Brett was commenting upon his legacy, he gave a list of characteristics for which he wanted to be remembered.  I was excited to hear him state that he wanted to be remembered as a man who loves God.  Perhaps this admission did not shock those who know him well.  I was surprised.  More than that, I was encouraged again to consider my own legacy.  When people look back on my body of work, I’d like for them to think of me as someone who loved God and loved people.

Great lessons from a great quarterback!

Thanks, Brett Favre!  Thanks for making the Packers so much fun to watch..  Thanks for returning to Green Bay so we could honor you.  And thanks for some great lessons as you entered our Hall of Fame!

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“Dude, where have you been?!”

Sorry for the absence, faithful blog readers!

We were buried in projects this spring as we prepared to host a family reunion.  That reunion was held over Memorial Day weekend, and we all had a great time.  Family traveled from North Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin.  We really enjoyed seeing everyone and consuming some awesome food!

Just prior to their visit, we completed nine projects here at the house; some inside, some outside.  The place has not looked better.  It needed a bit of a facelift, and our guests enjoyed what we had worked so hard to accomplish!

Also just prior to the arrival of our family, I began teaching two courses for Belhaven University–Christian Social Respsonsibility and Human Resource Management.  The former I have taught before, but the latter class is a new one for me.  You can only imagine the work that is required in teaching a college course for the first time.  With both of these courses now in full swing, I am also preparing to teach our adult Sunday School class at the church.  That is only a three-week commitment right now, but much effort will need to be put into my lesson planning and study.

I also continue to work as the Custom Relations Manager at NCITE here in Dayton.  I really enjoy my job because I spend much of my time serving others.  In a couple of weeks, I will celebrate my third anniversary with the company.

As you can see, this is a busy spring for us!  Prayers are appreciated.

However, I am sure not in a mood to complain!  I see God’s hand of blessing in so many ways currently.  It would be an understatement to say that God is not treating us as our sins deserve!  I am grateful for the health, energy and strength He has given to us during this season, and I enjoy teaching (and providing for this family).

Jodi and I just celebrated our twenty-fourth wedding anniversary.  I still passionately love that woman.  The kids are growing and maturing.  We are all particularly enjoying Cadence learning to walk with confidence and ever-so-slowly increase her vocabulary.  Having a baby at fifty may be certifiably crazy, but it is also a lot of fun!

Summer is almost upon us.  Our pool will once again prove to be an oasis for us.  The kids will spend hours each day escaping the Tennessee humidity.  As in past summers, I’ll try to leave work by 5:30PM and frolick with the monsters before supper.

Life could be worse.  Much worse.

I hope you are well.  Please let me know how things are going–especially if you need us to pray for you.

Blessings,

Tim

PS–Here was one of the projects – A Green Bay Packers entrance!  (Too supportive?)

Packer Door

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Study God’s Word. See Jesus.

I began our annual Passover Seder last night with these words from Charles Spurgeon:

“The more you read the Bible, and the more you meditate upon it, the more you will be astonished with it. He who is but a casual reader of the Bible, does not know the height, the depth, the length and breadth of the mighty meanings contained in its pages. There are certain times when I discover a new vein of thought, and I put my hand to my head and say in astonishment, “Oh, it is wonderful I never saw this before in the Scriptures.” You will find the Scriptures enlarge as you enter them; the more you study them the less you will appear to know of them, for they widen out as we approach them. Especially will you find this the case with the typical parts of God’s Word. Most of the historical books were intended to be types either of dispensations, or experiences, or offices of Jesus Christ. Study the Bible with this as a key, and you will not blame Herbert when he calls it “not only the book of God, but the God of books.” One of the most interesting points of the Scriptures is their constant tendency to display Christ; and perhaps one of the most beautiful figures under which Jesus Christ is ever exhibited in sacred writ, is the Passover Paschal Lamb. It is Christ of whom we are about to speak to-night” (http://www.spurgeon.org/mainpage.htm).

Spurgeon preached this particular sermon on December 2, 1855.  His text was:

“For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us” (1 Cor. 5:7).

Indeed!  Our Seder was focused upon the facts that Jesus Christ truly is our fully-sufficient Lamb!  And that is a truth so clearly revealed in God’s Word.  Both Old and New Testaments point to the fact that Jesus is the fulfillment of the first gospel promise (Gen. 3:15).  Like the NT, the OT is all about JESUS.  He is present in Christophonies, promises, prophecies, shadows and types.   The New Testament explains this for us in biographies, sermons, epistles and a revelation.

The Bible is about Jesus.  Front  cover to back.  Genesis to Revelation.  Spurgeon was correct.  There is a “constant tendency to display Christ.”

Wouldn’t that be great if that sentiment was used to describe us?!  I trust that is content for another day.  Today please be reminded that the Bible is “the God of books.”  Let’s use this as motivation to open the Scriptures!  Surely we will see Jesus in all His glory.  Our Lamb.  Our Lion.  Very God of Very God.

 

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Four Somber Hobbits. One Sober Human. Reflections on turning the BIG 50

There is a poignant scene towards the end of The Return of the King where Frodo, Sam, Pippin and Merry–now returned from their long adventure–are sitting in a pub, mug in hand.  The place is a buzz.  Smiles and laughter abound.  Everyone is having a good time.  Everyone except for the four.  They gaze about, noticing the carefree attitude of the patrons, but they  cannot summon the same.  They’ve been through too much.  They’ve experienced things they would have never expected.  They’ve seen things they wish they never had seen. They had done things they wish they wouldn’t have done.  They had said things they wish they hadn’t said.  It had been a rough go-of-it.  They were now somber.  They were a bit more serious.  Frivolity didn’t quite attract their interest anymore.  They had grown up.

I am sitting at the same table.

Today is my fiftieth birthday.  We are celebrating as a family, making a memory for the kids.  And–like the hobbits–I am a bit more sober.  I, too, have seen death.  I’ve experienced difficult days and seasons.  I’ve seen things I wish I had not seen.  I’ve done things I should not have done.  I’ve said things I should not have said.  My adventure hasn’t always been an easy one either.  But I have survived.  I sit here this morning with a mug in my hand.  The green of the Shire surrounds me.

Frodo may have left on the boat, but Sam returned to his wife and children.  Life went on.  Sam dug in and loved his family.  That is my intention as well.  The majority of my adventures are in the past.  My Army days are a distant memory.  My pursuit of academic degrees is finished.  I am done climbing mountains.  Any hope of earthly glory has diminished.  I have dug in.  I am loving my family.

Several years ago, I heard of someone here in Dayton that left his wife and children because the responsibility was too much to bear.  Rather than dig in, he ran.  That’s not my way.  In fact, it’s not the way of the Wehse men.  We are far from perfect, but one of our strengths is endurance.  We stay.

Whatever mid-life crisis I experienced is over.  Thankfully, it did not include another car or another woman.  I did not need to start over.  God had given me too much for me to think I lacked anything for my happiness.  I am a truly blessed man.  I am a recipient of special and common grace.  God is both my Savior as well as my Heavenly Father.  He has given me two glorious books to teach me that He is great and greatly to be praised–The Word of God and creation.  He has blessed me with many sweet memories and a future too   glorious to conceive.

And He has given me today.

Today–my fiftieth birthday; a day in which to celebrate God’s grace with my wonderful wife and five children who still look up to me and think I am funny.

It’s going to be a good day; a good day indeed.

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Death: God’s Ultimate Care for Our Joy

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”  Psalm 116:15

A friend of mine went home to be with Jesus this past week.  The morning of his funeral, I read a Charles Finney sermon entitled, The Death of Saints Precious.  This particular sermon was preached at a funeral in 1849.  While I love all of Finney’s main points, this one especially stood out to me:

“God accounts their death precious, because He really enjoys their joy better than they do themselves.”

His first point was similar:  “God deems the death of His saints precious because their happiness is very dear to Him.”  Are you following Finney’s logic?  Because God cares deeply for the happiness of His children and because He actually values their joy more than they do themselves, He considers their death to be precious.

I thought about that again this morning as we studied Psalm 104 in Sunday School.  Consider the rending of verse thirty-one in a couple different translations:

“Let the LORD be glad in His works” (NASB).

“May the LORD rejoice in His works” (NIV).

That’s exactly what God does when He welcomes one of His children home!  Angels high five one another.  Confetti falls.  Music shakes the place.  Joy and happiness abound.  What a moment!  Finney wrote, “In a very real sense, when God receives His children home, He receives the reward of all His labors in their behalf.”  God has worked for the salvation and sanctification of His recreated image bearers. Their much-anticipated arrival in glory greatly glorifies God!  He has pure joy and the joy of the saint surely is indescribable!

Due to these facts, Finney challenged those in attendance that day to be careful not to mourn selfishly.  He admitted  doing so upon the  death of his own wife.  He confessed, “I said to myself–Shall I be thinking of my loss and not of her much greater gain.”  His conclusion was actually a warning, “Let us behave how we take exceptions, even impliedly, to God’s dealings!”  I love that!  Be careful when you call God’s character into question–even when experiencing intense grief.  God is good and does good (Ps. 119:68).  And, if anything is good, that which promotes God’s joy and the joy of His children surely is!

So, rejoice when those who know God the Father through Christ are ushered into the tangible presence of God–the home of pure joy!  Mourn appropriately, but thank God for this wonderful truth:

“In your presence is fullness of joy; In your right hand there are pleasures forever” (Ps. 16:11).

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Live Out the Sacrifice – Overcome evil with good

“Do not be overcome evil, but overcome evil with good.”  Romans 12:21

This verse summarizes everything just mentioned by the Apostle Paul.  It is the umbrella under which the previous commands land.  Paul began this important section of Scripture by challenging the believers in Rome to present themselves as living sacrifices (12:1).  He then gave a list of commandments that–when applied–allow Christians to guard against evil and, in fact, overcome it on a daily basis.

Consider again the list:

  • Do not be conformed to this world (12:2).
  • Renew your mind (12:2).
  • Do not think too highly of yourself (12:3).
  • Use your spiritual gifts appropriately (12:4-8).
  • Love with purity (12:9).
  • Hate what is evil (12:9).
  • Cling to what is good (12:9).
  • Be devoted to one another in brotherly love (12:10).
  • Give preference to each other in honor (12:10).
  • Avoid spiritual laziness (12:11).
  • Rejoice in hope (12:12).
  • Be patient in trials (12:12).
  • Devote yourself to prayer (12:12).
  • Contribute to the needs of the saints (12:13).
  • Practice hospitality (12:13).
  • Bless those who persecute you (12:14).
  • Rejoice with those who rejoice (12:15).
  • Weep with those who weep (12:15).
  • Guard yourself from pride (12:16).
  • Leave vengeance in God’s hands (12:17).
  • Live at peace with everyone (12:18).

WOW! That is quite a list!  Are you discouraged?  Surely you do not believe you are obeying these commands perfectly?  No one does.  That’s why we desperately need Jesus.  He lived out the commands of God without fail.  Now–as we trust in His finished work–we are free to strive for consistency in our lives as it pertains to practical righteousness.  Thus, a study of the list is beneficial.  It helps us to evaluate whether or not we are truly living the sacrifice.  The exhortation Paul gave to the first century believers is Rome is ours as well.  We are to offer ourselves each and every day to such an extent that God is glorified and people are blessed.

So–browse the list one more time.  You are weak in more than one of the areas listed.  I am weak in several as well.  With God’s help, what are we going to do about it?  After confession and prayer for assistance, what first step can we take?

What first step can we take today?

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Living Out the Sacrifice – Nobody is a nobody

Pride is wicked.  Pride leads us to think that we are better than others.  Pride causes us to look down on people. That’s why Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, “Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited” (Rom. 12:16).  The translators of the King James version render a portion of this passage as follows:  “condescend to men of low estate.”  I typically like renderings of The Message, but I take exception with this particular selection:  “…don’t be stuck up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be a great somebody.”

Can you see what bothers me?

Nobodies.

The NIV utilizes the word people.  The King James employed the term “men.” The concept conveyed in Romans is simple to understand.  We are to prove we are on mission by ministering to individuals in a socio-economic status different from our own.

Nobody is a nobody.

Everybody is a somebody.

I am a somebody.  You are a somebody.  The man with the cardboard sign on the corner is a somebody.  We have all been created by God, and we all bear His image.  As such, we all have dignity.  We all also have needs.  The stranger asking other strangers for money isn’t the only one needy among us.  The rich have needs.  The middle class have needs.  The poor have needs.  And one of those needs is for friendship.  God created each of us with both the capacity and the need for intimacy.   We must have friends.  Our challenge, therefore, is that we carefully select our friends.  As Christ-followers, we are not free to only choose our friends from the rich, famous or people-like-us classes.  We are called to attend the wedding of the poor (John 2) and speak to the woman with the bad reputation (John 4) and accept the dinner reservation from the shady businessman (Luke 19).

We are called to live like Jesus.

Meditate upon His life on earth for a moment.  Even a cursory reading of the Gospels illustrates that Jesus had no intention of being liked by the movers and shakers of His day.  His selection of His disciples proved He was not attempting to stack His deck so that He would  gain credibility.  Yet he did not disdain those with more money than Himself (if it is possible to think of Jesus as lacking anything!).  Some of His friends had more temporary wealth (Lazarus).  Others were unemployed fishermen.  Jesus could relate with people in any class.  Jesus would minister to people in any social class.  So should we.

This is a great opportunity for us to examine our lives.  Think through your list of friends.  Are they all like you?  Do they make about what you make?  Do they live in a house similar to yours? Does being seen with them in public cause you to feel good?  One way in which you know you are probably obeying this verse in Romans 12 is that when you think of one of your friends, your answer to the questions above is “no.”

“Anyone who says he is a Christian should live as Christ did” (1 John 2:6; The Living Bible).

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Living Out the Sacrifice – Making harmony together

“Live in harmony with one another.”  Romans 12:16

Why is it so difficult for believers to get along?

The Bible describes and alludes to many, many conflicts between believers.  Paul and Silas couldn’t compromise (Acts 15:39), the Christians in Corinth were divided on a variety of issues (1 Cor. 1:10-12), Euodia and Syntyche could not get along in Philippi (Phil. 4:2,3) and the Apostle James needed to address the fights and quarrels in the 1st century church at large (Js. 4:1).  Even the original disciples argued amongst themselves (Lk. 22:24).

What’s our problem?!

Sin.

I surveyed some of my children this past weekend to again gauge their understanding of the depravity of man.  My question was simple:  Are we sinners because we are born sinful or because we sin?  My thirdborn provided me with the best answer:  “Both.  We are born sinful and that makes us sinners, and we sin, which also makes us sinners.”  Don’t you love it when you hear great theology from “the mouth of babes”?!  Dayton is indeed correct!  We are sinners because we are born in sin.  When Adam fell in the Garden, we fell with him.  Every human being is conceived with a sinful nature.  Romans, chapter five, offers a great explanation of this reality.  We are also sinners because we sin.  We sin from the earliest of age, proving our condition, our nature.  And as we grow, we sin more and more.  We commit sins daily—sins of word, thought and deed.  Our sins against God each day are too numerous to count, and we regularly sin against others.  We even sin against ourselves!

One of the best books I have ever received is entitled The Valley of Vision.  It is a collection of Puritan prayers written by believers who grasp both the fall of man and the grace of God.  Here’s one of my favorite lines:

“My country, family, church fare worse because of my sins” (Self-Knowledge, p.69).

In other words, we are not God’s gift to the world (that title is reserved for Jesus)!  In fact, because of our sin, we end up being more of a curse than a blessing to this planet!  And our sins—conscious and unconscious—greatly affect those around us.  That sin—that baggage—is carried with us into the community of saints.  We take it with us to church.  It is present within all our relationships.  And that is why believers struggle to get along.  That is why we need to be commanded to “live in harmony with one another.”

The word Paul chose to employ here that some translators render “harmony” is a Greek present, active participle.  The sentiment being conveyed by the Apostle’s choice of grammar is one of lifestyle.  Christians are to be of the same mind–moving as one on the essentials and making every effort to be charitable at all times.

As we were preparing for our wedding, Jodi and I began searching the Bible for some verses that we would challenge ourselves to live out daily.  We settled on a passage from the book of Ephesians.  Paul was writing to a group of believers who needed to be reminded to put others above themselves.  We chose to memorize the verses from the Living Bible.  It is easy to see why keeping these words before a church or a couple is important.  May God help us all to live these out in His strength and for His glory.

“Be humble and gentle; be patient with one another making allowance for each other’s  faults because of your love. Try always to be led along together by the Holy Spirit, and so be at peace with one another” (4:2,3).

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Living Out the Sacrifice – Emotional Engagement

Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.”  Romans 12:14

Christians are called to be emotionally engaged with one another.  We need to know when the good stuff happens to each other as well as when the bad stuff does.  For Paul’s audience, this knowledge was possible through their regular gatherings together for worship.  I trust those first century Christians also rubbed shoulders with one another throughout the week.  But our culture is different.  We are modern.  We are connected via the Worldwide Web.  And nothing has done more to help us stay connected like Facebook.

Facebook is a blessing.

Have you found that to be the case?  Just this week we have had perhaps hundreds of “friends” praying for our fevering baby.  In a very real sense, they were weeping with our weeping.  Those who told us so were truly emotionally engaged.  We see such participation as well when we share good news on FB.  Many respond with awesome comments and praise God for His manifold blessings.  So–we do appreciate the tool of Facebook which allows connection that distance and time often diminish.

However grateful I am for the conduit of Facebook,  I am aware of the necessity of personal contact.  No social media will ever replace human presence.  Individual-to-individual ministry will always trump that latest and greatest technological resource.  Can I give you a concrete example?  Someone just now came to the door.  It was my wife’s chiropractor.  She had been following our woes this week (three of us have a viral infection).  She’s probably been praying as well, but she decided to do something practical.  She brought us a package of herbal tea (the expensive stuff).  Isn’t that awesome?!  Isn’t that a great example of weeping with those who weep? (She was also “contributing to the needs of the saints!”)  She was alert to what was going on and she cared enough to do something about it.  Our Aunt Vonnie did the same today when she surprised us with supper.

We need to be alert to what is going on and care enough to do something about it.  If our family, friends, co-workers, fellow students (etc.), experience joy, we are called to rejoice with them.  And, if they encounter the unexpected, unwanted drama and trauma that is part and parcel to our life, we are commanded to weep.

Remember you are rarely “fine.”  Others usually are not “fine.”  Poke around a bit.  Ask specific questions.  Risk personal contact.  Rejoice.  Weep.

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