Category Archives: Vision

Part IV – Meditation on the Word of God

So, I can finally conclude my thoughts regarding the vision for this blog. In my opinion, encouraging Christian living with an eternal outlook,must be centered on the Word of God, both in exhortation and meditation. Therefore the final piece of the my vision is: “Meditation on the Word of God”. In fact, scripture commands people of faith to meditate on God’s Word (Joshua 1:8) and His works (Psalm 143:5).

So what does all of this have to do with my blog vision?

From scripture, we know that the Word of God is living and active and able to pierce through out sinful flesh to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). Jesus specifically states that, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; that words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life” (John 6:63). The very words of Jesus are able to give life. Paul affirms this in 2 Timothy 3:16 by literally saying that all scripture is God-breathed. Therefore reason has it, that if we are going to live (Christian Living) than we need to have life (Word of God).

How does meditation on the Word of God encourage Christian living with an eternal outlook?

In Joshua 1:8, the Lord spoke to Joshua stating, “This Book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.”

The Hebrew word for “meditate” in this passage is hagah1, which implies pondering, deep reflection, a type of muttering to oneself. Biblical meditation involves focusing one’s mind on scripture. God was commanding Joshua to remember His law by “muttering” it to himself, “pondering” it, or “musing” over it.

How do we “flesh out” this command of the Lord? While the purpose of this blog is to encourage Christian living with an eternal outlook, it is not about encouraging the “works of the flesh” or any type of “works salvation”. I believe that the way to biblically encourage Christian living is through heart transformation that takes place by exhortation and meditation on scripture. God isn’t necessarily just looking for us to fix the external, God wants us changed from the inside out (great song by Hillsong). For our lives to be transformed by the renewing of our minds in Christ Jesus (Romans 12:1-2), we must be able to voice a true genuine faith, echoing the psalmists in saying:
– “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14)
– “We have thought on Your lovingkindness, O God, in the midst of Your temple.” (Psalm 48:9)
– “I will meditate on all Your words and muse on Your deeds” (Psalm 77:12)
– “I will meditate on Your precepts and regard Your ways.” (Psalm 119:15)

On this blog and in our site’s forum , I hope that we can “ponder” the scriptures together and that we can reflect deeply on the very Words of God that bring life to our souls. Let us run with perseverance my Christian brothers and sisters and look for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (Hebrews 12:2; Titus 2:13)! “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary” (Galatians 6:9).

1) Brown, Driver, Briggs and Gesenius. “Hebrew Lexicon entry for Hagah”. “The NAS Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon”. .

Part III – Exhortation on the Word of God

While it is my prayer that this blog would “Encourage Christian Living with an Eternal Outlook”, I am absolutely aware of the fact that this isn’t accomplished via “Travis’ ideas”.  It must be a work of God.  Which is why my vision statement recognizes the absolute need for exhortation and mediation on the Word of God.  
So, what is exactly meant by the word exhortation?

The definition of the word exhortation is rather simple, the act of exhorting.  Further unpacking of the definition of the word exhort is truly enlightening. The verb exhort has the following definition: 1) to incite by words or advice, 2) to animate or urge by arguments, as to a good deed or laudable conduct, 3) to urge strongly, 4) to advise, warn, or caution.

The object of the exhortation of this blog was outlined in my last post , but the root of the exhortation that I am seeking to accomplish is found in the living, active word of God.  For the Word of God is powerful and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart by piercing deep into our souls (Hebrews 4:12).

On the flip side, the concept of exhortation may not always bring up the fondest memories in a person’s life, because no one wants to be told that they are “wrong” or “not measuring up to standards”.  My intention is not to be brash or abrasive, but to hold up the truth of the Word of God in love so that we might be purified as the members of the body of Christ, the bride of Christ, by the washing of water with the word (Ephesians 5:26).

That being said, there are specific things of which scripture tells us “to speak and exhort and reprove with all authority” (Titus 2:15).  In this passage the “things” are that “the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in this present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:11-14).

Scripture is full of exhortation:

  • “Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.  But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:12-13)
  • “exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more” (1 Thess. 4:1)
  • “encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing” (1 Thess. 5:11)
  • “admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone” (1 Thess. 5:14)

Oh, if the church around the world would constantly speak and exhort these words (without hypocrisy), what revival of hearts, souls, and minds would take place!  My prayer is that I would be obedient to the Word of God and be ready in season and out of season to preach the Word of God with great patience and instruction (2 Timothy 4:2).

Vision – Part II: Christian Living with an Eternal Outlook

Having laid out Part I of my vision a few days ago, it logically follows that there would be a Part II.

So what is meant by “Christian Living” and how do you define it?  Furthermore, who defines it?  How do we wrap our minds around what it means to live as a Christian?  Furthermore, what kind of “Christian Living” am I trying to encourage?

Trying to define Christian living can be a daunting task.  In it’s most simple form, I believe it can be broken down to: 1) the manner of one’s life being in Christ, 2) being alive in Christ 3) maintaining life and livelihood in Christ.  This is by no means an exhaustive definition, but gives a starting point.  What exactly is meant by “life in Christ” will make for some interesting blog topics at a later date.  I believe that scripture has a lot to say about how the “life in Christ” manifests itself in our actions and words.

Furthermore, there have been numerous books and articles have been written on developing spiritual disciplines in the lives of Christians.  Men and women of faith have lived their lives sold out for the sake of knowing Christ and making him known.  One could also exhaust the myriad of scripture references admonishing us to “live sensibly, righteously, and godly in this present day and age” (Titus 2:12).  But simply knowing these things is knowing about the Christian life, and it not necessarily Christian living, for “let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds “(Hebrews 10:24).

The vision and purpose of this blog to unpack what Christian living is all about in a God honoring way.  Not so that we may boast in our good deeds, but so that we can boast in the cross of Christ and his power to change a life of sin and serving the flesh into a life that is submissive to the Spirit of God and used to glorify His holy name!

So, what kind of “Christian Living” am I trying to encourage?  (Hint: check blog domain!)  Answer: Christian Living with an Eternal Outlook.  In some ways the statement seems redundant, because true Christian living is with an eternal outlook  But sometimes, the thought of “Christian Living” conjures up dreams of some grandeur life of God’s blessing being bestowed upon one’s life and living the so-called “Christian American Dream”.  My heart is to encourage Christian living that results in us “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” (Titus 2:13).  That we would accept our role as strangers and pilgrims on this earth (see Hebrews 11:13) and that we would “desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (Hebrews 11:16).  Be encouraged Christians brothers and sisters, our heavenly home awaits us!

Vision – Part I: Encourage

In my last post, I outlined my “new” purpose and vision for this blog.  I have been intending to unpack my thoughts related to my new vision for this blog and figured it would best to do so in a multi-part series.  Once again, my vision and purpose is to “Encourage Christian Living with an Eternal Outlook through Exhortation and Meditation on the Word of God.

Why “encourage”?  Why is encouragement necessary and vital to the Christian life?  Are there biblical examples from which we can draw?

So, why is encouragement necessary and vital to the Christian life?  Let’s face the facts, we need it!  We live in a sinful corrupt and evil world.  Sin abounds on this earth and temptation is real.  We live in a fallen world and are called to endure.  It’s easier to conform to the world than to be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:1).  It’s easier to love the world and the things of it (1 John 2:15-16) than to love righteousness and holiness as we are called to do (1 Peter 1:16).

So, what are some biblical examples of encouragement from which we can draw?

  • In Deuteronomy 3:28, Moses was to give “charge to Joshua and encourage him and strengthen him” (emphasis mine).
  • In 1 Samuel 23:16, David is fearing for his life and “Jonathan, Saul’s son, arose and went to David at Horesh, and encouraged him in God” (emphasis mine).
  • In 1 Thessalonians 5:11, Paul instructs the church he founded at Thessalonica to do the following,”encourage one another and build up one another” (emphasis mine).
  • In Romans 15:4-5, Paul admonishes the Roman church to understand that “whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.  Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus” (emphasis mine).
There are numerous other calls to godly and holy living, but these are just a few examples where the word “encourage(ment)” is specifically used.  The truth is, from the earliest of times, God’s people have encouraged one another to stand firm in the faith.  Paul in his letter to the church at Ephesus did not mince words when we said, “Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything to stand firm” (Ephesians 6:13).  This is why my vision and purpose of this blog starts with the word “encourage”.  Be encouraged friends!

Blogging with a Purpose and Vision

I have been dabbling in blogging for a little over 10 months.  I have been praying specifically for the past few months that God would give me a vision and purpose for my blog.  Those who follow my blog or my wife’s blog may recall that we went through something similar this past fall as we were attempting to start our own website (the result is the Eternal Outlook website that is still being built).  By seeking the Lord, through prayer and study of His Word, I have been asking the Lord to specifically give me a vision and purpose specifically related to my blog.  I believe he has reminded me once again of the theme verses for our website. 

Titus 2:11-15 plainly states – “For the grace of God has appeared, bring salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in this present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.”

So with this blog it is my prayer that I would: “Encourage Christian Living with an Eternal Outlook through Exhortation and Meditation on the Word of God”

In the near future, I hope to be able to unpack my thoughts on this vision and prayer in a more lengthy post.  

Excitement!

Last night was the kick-off for our small group at First Family Church.  Our small group meets on Sunday nights, and we are known as the Squires Lighthouse (Lighthouse is the name used for the adult small group ministry at First Family Church).  We met at 5:00 pm for a shared meal, and then from 6:00 – 7:30 for discussion and prayer. 

For me, there is a sort of nervous, excitement on the first night of leading a “new” group.  I say “new” because our group was in existence last year, but we have added and subtracted some people.  As I “un-eloquently” attempted to express my vision for our lighthouse this year, God stirred the hearts of the people in our group, to confirm a like minded passion among the members in our lighthouse.  This passion manifested itself in many ways with several members confessing that they want to reach out and support the needs of people around them, a common burning desire for authenticity in relationships, and the agreement that we just don’t want to be “another small group”.  The passion that I felt among the members in our lighthouse, was a passion to be the church, to be the body of Christ embracing the gospel and God’s call on our individual lives.

This kick-off event has dominated my thoughts and prayers for the last 24 hours, as I boldly pray to God to do a mighty work in and through the lives of the people involved in our lighthouse!  I know that God is willing and able to fulfill that request.  My overwhelming emotion can ultimately be summed up in one simple word: EXCITEMENT!

Vision!

Recently, my wife and I began talking about starting our own web site. We’ve been doing the “blog thing” separately for a while now, and thought that it would be fun to join forces to reach a greater audience. The web site would house our blogs, have photo links, links to great articles, etc. Essentially, our goal was to reign in our “hobby” and to turn it into a fruitful ministry opportunity.

This past weekend, we were working on developing a vision for a website and coming up with a domain name. It was a painfully slow process. We bounced back and forth between talking about domains and vision, using both the left side of the brain and right side. I had finally come to the conclusion that my human mind and intellect was not going to be able to put together a cohesive vision for what I felt God was calling us to do. So, I turned to the scriptures and stumbled upon this simple, clear passage after hours of exhaustion trying to voice what I wanted the vision for the website to be. In the book of Titus, Chapter 2, verses 11-15, it plainly states – “For the grace of God has appeared, bring salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in this present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.”

THAT WAS IT!!!!

We were finally able to start wrapping our hands around the vision for the website, so our focus turned toward a domain name. It was also a painfully slow process…it seemed as if all the great domain names were taken. However, we had managed to come up with quite a few good ideas as we were hashing out our vision. After being illumined to a passage of scripture for our vision, we felt very clearly led to choose a domain name that would represent this vision: http://www.eternaloutlook.com/.

Don’t bother going there, because you will not find anything. It will be a slow process getting the website up and running, but I couldn’t contain my excitement as I am trying to get geared up to develop a website.

If this ends up being a complete waste of time and money by human standards, and it just doesn’t work out, so be it. But, if we get this web site up and running and are able to clearly put forth a message that will “help bring salvation to all men”, encourage others to “deny ungodliness and wordly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in this present age”, then it will be worth the many hours of toil that we put into it. Even if we are able to affect one life, encourage one person! To God be the glory! We are moving forward with an eternal outlook!

What should my focus be…

For some reason I have been grappling with what my blog focus should be.  Sometimes, I think I should just keep it open ended, blogging about whatever comes to mind.  At other times, I think it sounds intriguing to develop a focused blog that will be more challenging to read and post.  So I guess I’m stuck somewhere in between, but it has caused me to realize that I have a tendency to go at things with less than full gusto, not because I don’t like giving 100%, but because my tendency is to over-commit and spread my time too thin.  I have also begun to realize that this spreads over in other areas of my life.

It is my heart’s desire to be used by God in mighty ways…and yet…I find myself busy with busyness.  I think God has laid a great test out there for Christians living in the western world.  There is so much good “stuff” to consume our time, that it becomes easy to push aside devotions, prayer life, careful study and discernment of the word of God.  I believe that Satan has gotten a foothold on our culture, by seemingly eliminating peoples’ “need” for God.

I pray that God will develop an attitude in me that says, “God use me at any time and in any way that you please”.  I pray for God to simplify my focus in life, so that all things would be for his ultimate glory!

God’s Calling on Our Lives

What is God’s calling on my life? I wish it were simple, written on the clouds for me to plainly see. A recent conversation with a dear friend of mine really inspired me to pray about God’s call on my life. God’s calling on my life seems a mystery at times, that’s why I think it’s useful for me to look at his calling in my life from two perspective: present & future

Where is God calling me today?
Today, God is calling me to be a godly husband, to raise godly children, and work at my job as if serving the Lord. God’s calling on my life at this time has led me to work for an Investment Bank in Des Moines, live in Ankeny, IA and attend First Family Church. He’s called me to be more involved at FFC in my service to Him. These things are easy answers, because God is calling me to be faithful in where he has me today.

But where is God calling me tomorrow? next week? next year? five years from now? And how do I prepare myself to be “usable” and “flexible” for whatever his calling may be on my life? I think I’ve come to the conclusion that there are no easy answers to these questions, just a simple response is required on my part: “Stay Close to the Lord”. I don’t really think I have an answer for where God is calling me five years from now or even next year. I just know that he is calling me to prove myself faithful in what he has entrusted me.