About Me

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Saginaw, Michigan, United States
A sinner who may come before God because of Christ

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Thinking Inward

I have had some recent events in my life that remind me just how humble we need to be to others as I grow in my personal relationship with God and become stronger in my faith Christ. It is much easier to point outward than to consider inward.

Acts 17 tells of Paul and Silas going to Berea, a city in Macedonia, and found the Jews there "received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things [what Paul was preaching] were so." Acts 17:11 (ESV) The lesson here being that we need to compare what we are told by others with what Scripture tells us.

We tend to view this from a theological or doctrinal point - is what we are being told hold up as true or correct under the light of what the Bible says.

However, there is also another aspect to this. Are what WE doing meet what Scripture tells us to do.

It is easy to point out errors of others. It is much harder to see one's owns faults - or at least admit them. That is why before we start pulling out the specks in the eyes of others, we need to remove the logs from our own eyes (Matthew 7:3). This verse does not tell us to ignore the specks of others, verse 5 tells us to remove the speck but only after we have removed the log. (the use of a speck and log is to remind us that we need to see our sins as greater than the sins of others because we call Christ Lord and Savior yet our sins are a betrayal to those very words!)

The point here is that we are to be humble when it comes to others sins because we are no better. The purpose of pointing out sin should be to help another person, not condemn them (though they may initially feel that way), and it should have the same purpose in our own self-examination.

Now, getting back to me.

I have lived two lives.

My life before Christ and after Christ. I have a "BC" and an "AD", so to speak.

Before Christ I was hopelessly lost in my sin. There was not a commandment that I had not broken on purpose. My desire was not to be obedient to God but to feed my own lusts and flesh. My promise meant nothing. My mouth spoke a lie before truth (especially if it got me out of hot water). There was nothing that was personally moral to me - it was ok for me to violate my wedding vows, to ignore my obligations, to do what I wanted to do without regard for the consequences on others. I had so much pride in myself that I thought I could manipulate, finagle, lie, or ignore my way out of any problem.

Outwardly, I looked pretty good, until caught, but inwardly I was of poor, desperate, character.

After Christ, He dwellt in me and overtook me. My desire for Christ and Him Crucified became greater (usually) than the desires of self. I still have a long way to go to even dare to call myself even marginally righteous and I still battle my sin desires, but my succumbing to those desires lessens as I view myself more through Christ. Every breath is grace.

But here is where we Christians run into problems. We preach the Gospel with our lives but our lives have not always lived the Gospel and we tend to want to hide that in the dark corners of our lives, sometimes doing as the world does and pretending to be good people, and even relishing when others see us that way. Forgive me for hiding my past and wanting to look good. I was not good, ever, and any goodness I showed was because God was working in me.

Sometimes I think "pride" is the only sin, and all the other "sins" are just manifestations of that. It is our view of self that stands in the way of our view of God.

Our response to sin is to humble ourselves in its face. We are no better than ones without Christ and in many ways worse because it was God who gave us Grace and not our own righteousness that allows us to call Him Father. Let us always remember this both outwardly and inwardly.

For His Glory,

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

There are some days when stoicism looks good to me. Our age seems to be more wrapped up in how we 'feel' than about what is right or wrong.

Back in the late 60's there was a saying that pretty much reflected the sentiment of the times: "If it feels good, do it". Today that sentiment seems to have evolved to: "If it feels good it is good and no one should tell me otherwise". 'Feeling' has become the primary means of assessing the world. It is almost, it seems for many, a worldview, an ideology. It is the demise of objectivity and the rise of subjectivity both personally and publically.

This is manifesting itself in law. For example, simply expressing an opinion can now lead to losing a job if what is stated 'offends' another person, often regardless of the validity of that statement. The measure is fast becoming not real damage but percieved damage to the individual.

All over the media it is all about 'feelings'. All over the workplace it is about 'feelings'. The world is becoming saturated with 'feelings'. Even the Church, which is based on law and grace has embraced the "feeling" culture of our times.

And I am tired about worrying about 'feelings' - mine and someone elses. I am tired of reading that the cause of all problems is someone's 'poor self-esteem' when Scripture tells us in James 4 that it is the "passions at war within" us. Focusing on 'feelings' allows us to make up our rules as we move along.

The problem with this is that there are rules - both physical and Spiritual. Physical rules tell me that I cannot walk through a wall without doing some damage regardless about how I 'feel' about going through that wall. Spiritual rules tell me that there is a penalty to pay for disobedience to God.

We don't want to believe that subjectively, but reality has this way of negating false beliefs with true knowledge.

As Christians, we need to guard ourselves form embracing the current fads in thinking and finding ourselves more like the world than like Christ. Our rules are not made up as we stumble along. Our 'rules' are spoken to us from God to Scripture to our eyes and ears. We have a Lord. It is Him whom we need to obey, and not the whims of the moment.

Christian Stoicism is following Christ even when we are 'feeling' like otherwise. It is glorifying God above our 'self', not living for our 'self'. It is finding joy in something other than your 'feeling'.


Tuesday, November 03, 2009

There Are Days

As a Christian perhaps one of the toughest things we do (or in this case don't do) is to get too wrapped up in this world.

We are reminded in John 18:3 that our home, our Kingdom, is not of this world, and are warned in Romans 12:2 not to conform to this world. Simply put, as the adopted children of God this world is not our home and, in fact, it will one day end and there will be a new Earth (Revelation 21:1).

Yet, we are existing now in this time and place and there are days when it seems to be spinning in a maddening fashion. From global issues such as climate change to personal issues like who took the garbage out last to the animals fighting and struggling to instinctively survive, this world is not a place at peace. It is a place of beauty, but not a place of peace.

So on those days when a "there are days" moment occurs, when this world just seems so overwhelming, it is time to go to God in Word and prayer and put your mind on Him and remember His "things above" (Colossians 3:2). Worship Him and this world fades away.

For His Glory,

Saturday, August 08, 2009


Recently, I attended a "training" on suicide. It was an overview of how our culture looks at suicide and was very interesting, sad, disturbing, and convicting all at once.

One of the most disturbing was a statistical figure.

12 suicides have been attributed to the death of Michael Jackson.

Now statistics are just a gathering of numbers. Most often they are without context, sometimes they are wrong or in error, sometimes they speak for themselves. This statistic speaks volumes.

That someone would consider their life over because a singer died is hard for me to comprehend.

I can understand why someone would want to kill themselves when a close loved one dies, or a catastrophic event or getting in deep into a quagmire. They lose hope. But to pin one's life, one's hope on a guy who can sing and dance well, who does not even know you exist, who cares about you only in the broadest of terms...well, that is very sad but also gives us some insight into how we are different from animals.

If you are an evolutionist and believe that humans are just a higher order species (not unique as Christians believe) then consider this - man is the only animal that contemplates suicide. We are also the only "animal" that does a lot of things like not wait for nature to adapt us physically for the environment, build various types of shelters, have written and readable languages, create various tools, goes to war over ideas, etc.

The reality is that man has the image of God placed in him and so we seek God to see our own image. The problem is that sometimes we find a god that is not the real god and think we have found our own image.

12 people did that recently.

My hope is that you are not placing your hope in the wrong god. To find out more go to Need God.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The World Around Us

I took some time off from writing as it had become more of a burden than a joy. I wanted to breathe deeply for a while and enjoy the world around us. The world God has created.

It culminated last weekend with a trip to Mackinac Island where automobiles and trucks are basically banned and access is by a ferry boat. Sitting on a street in town all one hears is the low drone of people talking, the whirring of the bicycle wheels going by and the clopping of horse hoofs.

The views are so peaceful, both the natural beauty and historical buildings abound (they claim to be the most historical spot in Michigan). It was both refreshing and relaxing, though I missed having all the family there.

Then we came home, and the world hadn't changed much. There is still that problem neighbor and the bills to pay and the issues at work and the politics in Washington and the cultural, economic strife and death, destruction, mayhem and chaos of both the man-made and natural world around us.

It makes me want to hop back on the boat and move to Mackinac Island to one of those mansions on the bluff overlooking the lighthouse. This world makes me want to call Mackinac Island home, not the slowly dying city of Saginaw.

Scripture reminds us, though, that the world around us is not home (John 15:19). The book of Revelations points out that this world will once day cease to exist, and that humans are eternal beings who will dwell forever in one of two places. Those who reject God will dwell away from Him in Hell. Those of uswho profess Christ as Lord and Savior, who have recognized our sins and turned from them (though we may desire to do them), who have recieved Jesus' gift of salvation will live in a place called Heaven. Hell will not be a place one should want to reside (you think your current circumstances are unpleasant, Hell is indescribably worse). Heaven is a place described as having no more tears (Rev 7:17) or pain (Rev 21:4). It is a place so much better than the world around us or even Mackinac Island.

This world around us is only a moment in time. It is the waiting in line on the dock for the ferry boat to take us to the Island. We need to remember that when we get all wrapped up in the political, social, economic, emotional, cultural, entertainment times. This is not our world. This is not our true home. We are just visiting and we are just visitors, and I find great comfort in that thought, but it would be nice to hear the clip-clopping of a horse or any whirr of a bicycle wheel over the rev of an engine just one more time.

For His Glory,

Monday, April 13, 2009

What I Learn From My Personal Trials

I am in a "down" season.  

It is hard to put my finger on it, but there is a lot of things in my life that are askew right now, things I would rather not put out there for the public.  It is a time of some personal disappointments, some questioning, some reflection.
These are times when we lean heavily on our faith.  

God led me to John Piper's book "Future Grace" - full of wisdom about relying not on today but on what is coming, and that is what God reminds me through the trials of today.  This life is all temporary.  A few hundred years and very little will still be here.  Even the mountains erode and the continents are moving.

I can find peace in this or fear.  I choose peace.  Peace that it is God's hand that moves everything for His Will...His Good and Perfect Will.

I may experience tragedy, I may witness catastrophe, I may be swept away in a disaster, but it is really all about Him and every time I get into a "down" season, I am reminded just how much I am not God and He is.

For His Glory,

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Entitled To What?

I got some feedback that my posting about the economic state, crime and general malaise in the city where I live, was a little "down" for them (like they needed to be reminded of this).
What I was attempting, albeit not very well, was to express how quickly we are to run to God when times are troubled but, basically, ignore Him when life is well. 

I also talked about it being time for America to bless God and should have made it clear that I was not talking about individual people, but referring to our nation as a whole. There are many people who are striving and giving up themselves for Christ, but as a nation, as a government, as a people, we are turning from God while still expecting Him to give us something. In fact, I have joined up to fast for the President once a month (you can too at Fast for the President)

There has grown in this country a mentality that we are 'owed' or 'entitled' to being blessed. I think of this as having the view of God as a grandpa than as a Father. That when something 'bad' happens it is God's fault, when something 'good' it was because we 'earned it'.

When I was in high school (yes, they had them back then) I had a girlfriend. We had been going 'steady' for two years when she suddenly, unceremoniously, broke off our relationship (and broke my heart). I was broken hearted. We had already planned our lives together and now we were not going to be together.

Well, I blamed God. How could He do this to me?  If He was so loving how could He allow me to be hurt so much? What had I done to Him for Him to do this to me? (the answer was nothing...I had done nothing for God. He was pretty irrelevant in my life and His commandments were a joke to me) OK, I was pretty convoluted at 17 but I saw the world as spinning around me.

One Sunday I had the privilege of teaching to the High School group at church.  The subject was "Giving", so I asked them to tell me what they had "given" to (done for) God that past week - in what way had they honored our Lord?

It was interesting to see the looks on their faces as they pondered this question. As I went around the room to hear their responses, a few honest ones actually said that they had not done a thing. Some answered they did things by what I would call "commission" (I prayed to God) and others by "omission" (I didn't beat up my brother), but mostly I think this was the first time they had looked at their world form God's perspective, and it was eye-opening (at least for some who told me that).

Of course, as usually happens to me when I am teaching, I had to confront this lack of giving to God in my life as well. How often do I fail to see my world through the eyes of our Lord? More often than I would care to admit, how about you?

nsf 7-20-02

Monday, March 02, 2009

What I Was, What I Am, What I Will Be

It is very difficult to summarize one's life, since people are in a constant state of flux - changing phsycially, mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually.

Sunday at Church, there was an ordination ceremony for our associate pastor.  I have never been to one before and it was encouraging to see this young man and his family being committed before the Lord.

When the charge was given to the pastor, the speaker used 2 Timothy as the Scripture to base the charge.  This is Paul's encouraging letter to his protege Timothy.

During the course of the charge, the speaker referred to the meaning of verse 7 - "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." - as Paul looking back and having no regrets about his walk with Christ.

So I started thinking about my past and I have more regrets than I care to list or think about, but I also have the knowledge that I am not the man I was yesterday nor will I be the man I am now, tomorrow.

Recently, I have been under attack by someone whom I hold dear.  They are angry with me about actions done many years ago, some before my salvation, some during the years since. 

When I first tasted salvation, I did not immediately cease being the old man, who was liar and deciever and manipulator of others.  God is growing me in such a way that He is developing my character.  I am less the liar and decieve and manipulator, but only because it is the Lord doing this and not my own effort.

I have been forgiven by God of these sins and can now, because of Christ, kneel in His presence, and strive, through Him, to cease the evil that I too often find myself desiring to do.  I am redeemed but not yet fully sanctified.  I am at war with my sin, my flesh, and, sadly, sometimes it prevails in the battle, though it has failed in the conquest of me.

Unfortunately, this does not absolve me of the fact that I did sin and that I do sin and that I will sin.  This means that I still weep over my failings, how I have hurt others, how I have wronged mostly those whom I love and have loved me, how I have misused the gifts given to me.

I go on sinning not because it is my desire to do so, but because I have not yet given myself fully over to Him!  

This is a tough reality, but it makes sense of what I was, what I am, and what I will be.

God is working at His pace to shape me back into the image He intended when He created me, and He becomes more (and I less) I am humbled that He would even want to work in a scoundrel such as me, that He would call me His child when I have been such a disobedient brat, that He would call me friend when I have been such an enemy of His!

Christians are not void of sin, but we are free from the deciet of sin.  True Christians know what they were, what they are, and what they will be and they know that they are in the hands of God and not their own hands.

In this, I have no regrets - that God has saved me from my self, and my hope is in Him.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Difficult years

This is becoming another difficult year in the city where I live.  

Another major employer just layed off another 250 employees and there are rumors of more lay-offs and business failures.

The city itself is facing some serious budget shortfalls and there is talk of seeking a tax increase.

Over the last few years there has been a rash of gang killings which has sent a chill over even traveling in certain parts of the town. City officals are often quoted or heard in news stories as asking us to pray for the city. There have even been a number of prayer vigils and gatherings of religious leaders.
It is a sad commentary that we only seek God to bless us in times of trouble.  Maybe that is one of the answers to the ever asked question of why God allows bad things to happen - perhaps it is because He is sought in the 'bad' times.  

In the stores the red, white & blue is out in a flourish. It seems like every other car has a sticker that says "God Bless America", but America continues to refuse to bless God, to honor Him, to thank Him. Now I am not advocating creating a 'Christian' nation. I am not sure what that would even look like (though I would think heaven would be such a nation, one nation, under God as we bow before His Majesty).  

What I am advocating is that we believers need to recognize that God is more important than patriotism or ideology or philosophy. That our purpose is to give God another conduit to show His glory, and how much more glorious is He, then when a sinner is saved through His blood!

We need to focus less on our 401K and more on how we are to show Him, glorified through us, no matter what the situation.


Accepting Others

1  We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2  Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, "The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me." 4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

Romans 15:1-7 (ESV)

Romans 15:7 tells us to accept others just as Christ accepted you.

Acceptance can be a tough act to engage in and we need to be clear what acceptance involves.  It used to mean that we can “agree to disagree”, but now the meaning seems to be “ we are both right and I cannot tell you that you are wrong”.

As a Christian, I cannot accept that as the concept. We believe there is only one Truth, and Scripture consistently points this out as true, that the only way to salvation is through Christ and in Christ and because of Christ.

Given that, though, we are also to love each person where they are currently at.  We need to remember that we all have a long way to go to attain the righteousness and glorification of God.  No one is beyond Christ, though not all will come to Christ, but it is not our duty or our role to make that choice.  We are called to be ambassadors.

A few years ago a couple moved into the house next door. They were not married and very young They generally lived a lifestyle far from that one that honors God and God was clearly not important in their lives.

As our new neighbors though, we accepted them where they were. I helped them work some on their house, Jill sent over cookies and food. We fed their dog when they went on vacation. These were small things to show Christ's love for them.

After a few years, they got married, then had a baby, and then another.  We have shared some of their struggles.  For a while they were going to church, but this soon ebbed.

Despite this,  we continue to pray for them and ask God working in their lives.

I have had some opportunities to talk about Christ to them, though nothing deep, and we strive to continue to show them the Lord.

Will this bear fruit?   Will they come to Christ through our efforts?

I cannot answer that, but I know that we are called to continue, to not give up.

Our call is to be faithful to Christ in loving others, even those who do not know Him, to accept them where they, and to continue to hope and pray and trust God that He will work in their lives to His glory.

That is the great joy and sorrow of being a missionary - to wait on God to change the life of someone you have come to love.   Even the neighborhood missionary…or the employee missionary…or even the bowling team missionary.

We must remember to have a passion for those around us to whom only we are Christ.

For His Glory, Tom Peck


Saturday, February 14, 2009

That Which The Lord Hates Part 7

(Proverbs 6:16-19) There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

Lets look at the 5th thing which God hates - "feet that make haste to run to evil".

I like how that is phrased.  

It could have been stated simply - a desire to sin, but instead it is feet running to evil.  This is not just conceptualizing sin and then doing sin, it is a rush to sin, not just a crawl, a walk, a stroll, but a "haste to run" to evil.  It is a condemnation of all men of what is found in our heart - that we do not, at the innermost, desire for God to be glorified but for us to be glorified, for us to be on the seat of the King.

We lunge to sin when given the opportunity.  We thrust at it when temptation calls.  It is who and what we are.
We don't like to admit it.  We don't like to face it as a reality.  We want to believe otherwise, but deep inside we know that we are good despite the evidence of our lives.

But the facts speak otherwise - who has not sinned?  Who has not taken God's moral perfection and twisted and distorted it into our own image?  Who has not done that which they believe to be wrong?

Sin is our common denominator.  It is where we are all shown to be equal.  It is the true state of our heart.

Yet, here is God, who despises our rush to rebellion and His response is to sacrifice Himself in our place, opening the way for our redemption by simply realizing who we are and what we need - Christ our Salvation, our Redeemer, our Savior, our Lord.