Thursday, July 25, 2013


Sunday morning at our Williamsburg campus, we were singing an old hymn (Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing) that had the line, "raise my Ebenezer" which stirred something in me.  I can't even count the number of times that I have sung that hymn in my life...and I have never noticed that line.  During the announcements I rushed upstairs where I could get a signal on my phone and found its reference in 1 Samuel 7.  This is why we give a nod to hymns, there are so rich!

The story is the Israelites had lost the Ark of the Covenant and now it has been returned (start reading in 1 Samuel 4 for the back story).  The Philistines attack again but this time the Israelites' hearts are right with God and they have a great victory.  To commemorate that victory, Samuel erects a great stone as a memorial and names it, you guessed it, Ebenezer, which means roughly "stone of my help" that story!  

We must not confuse the Ark of the Covenant with a talisman, which is an object that possesses magic powers with the assumption being that those powers are conveyed to whomever possesses the object.  The classic film Raiders of the Lost Ark was based on this very premise and although Hollywood does not always accurately portray Biblical concepts, they were right on this one.

The Ark of the Covenant conveys no power to a person or a nation but rather the covenant in ones heart with God, of which the Ark was a symbol is where the power presides. The Israelites found courage in facing insurmountable odds when the Ark was in the camp, not because of magical powers but because they were reminded of the covenant they had made with God and that covenantal relationship was the motivation behind God interceding supernaturally on their behalf.

In 1 Samuel 4, we see they lost the battle in spite of the presence of the Ark. Why? Because they had broken covenant with God. No covenant, no favor, no power.

Nor was Samuel's prophetic abilities hindered by the Ark's absence during all its years at Abinadab's house. Why, because it was Samuel's covenant with God that mattered. Did David want the Ark back from Abinadab's house when he became king? Absolutely. Did it matter? Absolutely. Why? Not because it was a talisman but because it was a reminder to the people that they were in a covenantal relationship with God. It was their wedding ring. My ring has no power a part from my promise but my ring reminds me of my promise and it is in our promises that we are well postured for the favor of those with whom we covenant.

Are you keeping your promises? To your wife, your children, your calling, your God?  Rediscover your dependence on God, He is your Ebenezer stone, He will give you the courage of conviction to stay true to your promises!

Pastor Fred

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Isaiah 35:1-10

I am writing today believing that someone who will be reading is in a place of decision.  After reading and praying this morning, I felt strongly that someone is wrestling with a major decision and is frustrated.  I encourage you to read Isaiah 35:1-10.

I love this text because it reminds us of the feelings that should be associated with God's direction.  When I read these verses, here are the emotions I see God promising to the benefactor of His presence, His direction, His wisdom, His protection:  celebration, clarity, confidence, peace, safety, contentment, satisfaction, refreshing, gladness, joy, and worshipful!  What would be the list you would make after reading these verses?  See what you can find...make your own list!

Verse eight in the NLT refers to the path of travel in the text as the Highway of Holiness, others render it the Way of Holiness, and the The Message Bible calls it the Holy Road.  Regardless of the title, the metaphor is clear...this road is the will of God, the way of God, the direction of God.  How does that apply to me, to you?  When I am making significant decisions, when I am counseling others as they make significant decisions, I looking for the kind of emotions we listed above...because those are the feelings that are the fruit, the result, the evidence of God's leading.  If those feelings are nor present in me or someone I am counseling, my decision is always the same, do nothing, wait.

The Highway of Holiness always brings joy and gladness!

Pastor Fred

Friday, July 5, 2013

Profanity, part two

This is the second part of some thoughts I have on profanity, asking the question, "What makes us cringe?"  And, "When would Jesus cringe?"  (WWJC)  You can view part one here:  Profanity, part one

There is also the Biblical principle of whatever we allow to be planted in our lives will produce fruit (look in Galatians 6). Meaning, that the profanity that comes from another isn't just hurting them, it harms us. We should be cringing because by subjecting ourselves to profanity there is a planting taking place in our lives in a spiritual sense. Now follow me here, in Genesis the principal of producing after one's own kind was established. Meaning that an apple tree creates apples and only apples. In the same way, if we continually subject ourselves to profane language from others, what kind of fruit do you think it will produce in us: profane thoughts, profane language, all things profane. Fertile soils nurtures everything that is planted within. We are spiritually fertile; what kinds of seeds are we accepting?

What about laziness and ignorance? Does the Bible treat them as spiritual issues? I think in reading the book of Proverbs, one would be hard pressed to make an argument otherwise. Why is this relevant? Because profanity, in my opinion, is usually a result of one or the other. It is a matter if ignorance when we look to profanity to express feeling and thoughts that are larger or inconsistent with the vocabulary we have developed. We search for words, find none, reach for an expletive and move on to the next word. They are intellectual gap fillers. Reading, learning, conversation, contemplation, etc. all contribute to a growing vocabulary. We should all be committed to expelling ignorance from our lives, especially in the area of expression.

What about laziness? That is when we have a sufficient vocabulary to express whatever we may be feeling or thinking yet out of laziness, a poor intellectual work ethic, we reach for an expletive because it takes less mental effort than searching for the right words. Do you know people who only use profanity when they are tired, angry, frustrated...? When we are emotionally weary, intellectual laziness sets in and the expletives roll. Are we cringing yet, is He, WWJC?

Now, I'm not suggesting that we all deputize ourselves and become the profanity police. Remember, if our response to the people around us is judgmental, self-righteous, and arrogant then we will be causing them to cringe, the great cringe exchange! If it is a stranger, chances are praying for them quietly in the moment is your best response. If my children are being subjected to it then maybe I will kindly ask them to be mindful of the children that are present, and always I use it to talk to my children about how there are words we don't use and why. If we know them, instead of coming down on them, why not say something like this, "Could I share something with you I learned recently about words?" No one likes to be judged, but I have seldom met a person who is not willing to have a gracious, caring conversation.

In closing, remember, you can control most of what comes into your life, and certainly, you have complete control over what you are putting in the lives of others.


Pastor Fred

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

2 Kings 8:1-6

This is for someone are in a place of waiting, facing circumstances that are beyond your control, dependent of the decisions of others to see the outcome you desire.  Make sure you read this text, 2 Kings 8:1-6, a beautiful story of providence.

Seven years has passed and now this woman has only one hope, that the king will hear her petition and act on her behalf to see her restored.  God orchestrates the timing of everything.  Just at the moment she comes into the king's court, precisely at the time the king has just heard the miraculous story of her son's resurrection...his heart could not have been more inclined to her cause, God's timing is always perfect!

Trust Him...even if it feels like He is making you wait, trust His timing, trust His providence, trust His sovereignty, trust His attentiveness to your need!

Pastor Fred