butter light

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what is your biggest ‘faith walk’ mistake?


‘Probably the BIGGEST MISTAKE I’ve made in my faith walk is thinking the Gospel is stage one.

It isn’t stage one.

The Gospel


the TOTALITY of the Christian Life.

The Gospel is not just for the first day, but for every day.

The Gospel has a major role in re-training our conscience (see note 5).

Next, our conscience is re-trained by seeing

what God is like & what God likes.

A conscience guided by a set of biblical principles is a good thing. A conscience that is moved by the many facets of God’s character is even better (see Rom 15:5-9). What is good for the Christian conscience? – to let a sub-culture be its keeper? or to let the knowing of God in Christ

e x p l o d e

all thru it, everywhere and in everything?”


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Taste and See That the Lord Is Good

I will bless the LORDat all times;

his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

My soul makes its boast in the LORD;

let the humble hear and be glad.

Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name


I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from




Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.

This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.

The angel of the LORDencamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.

Oh, taste

and see


the LORD



Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack!

The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.

Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good?

Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.

Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry.

The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth.

When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.

He keeps all his bones;

{reminds me of my Messiah}

not one of them is broken.

Affliction will slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.

The LORDredeems the life of his servants;

none of those who

take refuge in him

will be condemned.

Psalm 34

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Have you seen the baseball / Mrs. Carol Custer connection?

File:The bunt.jpgThis past weekend my son and I went to see the Atlanta Braves play at Turner Field.  For a nine year old boy who was seeing his first major league game, going to a huge city for the first time, being one of 50,000 for the first time this was a lot to take in.

Doing stuff like this, I think, is how dads remember what it’s like to be a son – my favorite game on a beautiful field of dreams shared with the most special boy in the world to me.  Why did I feel like my inner kid was being fed?

It wasn’t just the experience of our being at a major league game that made the little boy in me leap with glee.  Seeing the little things about baseball once again – the homerun, the bunt, the steal, the strike out, the double play, yada yada – for the five hundredth time seeing again the little deeds of baseball that make me feel it is a game like no other. (or as George Will might say: “unlike” )

There is another athletic deed we saw.  We saw the sacrifice fly.  Atlanta, bottom of the 5th, McLouth got on first.  Gonzalez up next hits the ball in the air.  It is caught.  He’s out, but McLouth is able to advance to second base putting him in scoring position.  Gonzalez was serving his team by sacrificing for his team.  That’s the way it’s supposed to work and that’s good.

Which brings me to Carol Custer.  She passed into the Presence of her Lord on October 10th.  Her earthly journey, 77 years long, had ended.  As C. S. Lewis said she is now “on holiday.”

She was the loyal wife of Steward Custer, our Pastor Emeritus at Trinity.  Mrs. Custer wasn’t a homerun hitter, if you know what I mean.  No flashing lights or fireworks.  Her life was all about “the sacrifice fly.”  She served by sacrificing.  (Is it possible to really serve others without sacrificing?) 

Dr. and Mrs. Custer photo by GoodmanPhotography.com

Dr. and Mrs. Custer {photo C2010 Goodman Photography}

A few months ago I was surprised to see she had set up a Facebook page.  Surprised, but “awesome” I thought.  So after years – decades – of going to the same church marknkristi finally became Mrs. Custer’s friends.  Like most curious animals I took a look at her FB page – in particular her info page.

I had to smile when I saw the “About Me” section – nothing there except the words, “It’s not about me.”  Classic Carol Custer.  That was classic Carol Custer.  That wasn’t a cutesie sassy expression on her part.  She lived that motto.

I never saw her play baseball or know if she ever played it, even once, but I’m sure, very sure, she understood the “sacrifice fly” – the meaning inside the sacrifice fly that is.  One day at Trinity I asked her how she was doing.  You know how we ask people ‘how they’re doing’ and don’t expect an answer longer than a short phrase or maybe one sentence.  (We’re often too busy for more than that – yeah, fraid so).

Her face lit up and she went on the tell me a list of things she was doing for her husband and how she didn’t feel it was lesser work to be in the background and how it as her joy to help him do his ministry and how he had his ministry and her ministry was to help free him to do his writing, preaching, etc.

I did not sense at all that this was someone on their soap box with the worn out speech “A Woman’s Place Is In The Home.”  I came away from a “hi, how are you” that turned into an extended conversation of “I am so happy to be doing things for others, to sacrifice for others.”  No pride, no rant, just an expression of joyful service to God.

The sacrifice fly Carol Custer’s way.  Serving others by sacrificing.  That’s the way it’s supposed to work and that’s good.  How did Carol Custer intersect your life?

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durability in fearing God

  The biblical concept, the Fear of God, suggests a very Niagara Falls kind of experience – at least for those souls who want it.  Suppose that you were to stand under the Niagara (you wouldn’t stand for very long).  Immediately, you would be surrounded by a torrent of water more powerful than yourself and pushing aside all other thoughts.  You would not be thinking about baking cookies or changing a flat tire.  The Niagara will surely have your complete attention.
 And what about later – when its over?  We will know that the Niagara has durability in us if it lives on while we are baking cookies or changing the flat tire.  Then thoughts of the Niagara are not just lots of water, but a temple interior.

It lives on as a preoccupation.  It lives on as a preoccupation because it lives past the provocation.  That is attentiveness.  That is durability.

But our attentiveness does not always perform so well.  The frayed stitch in our attentiveness tends to come unraveled.  It comes loose when we hold on to profundities for too long.  Big realities, like God, are really, really big – bigger than we can imagine.  That should keep overwhelming us with holy curiosity…but the attentiveness of the Fallen unravels over time.  We are always looking for something “new.”

Instead of looking for something “new” we should be trading up for something everlasting – something that is ever new: like God.  If we were to step into that Torrent we would be thinking of nothing else.  In that moment we would enjoy the Fear of God and Him omnia in omnibus (all in all).

Those moments are short. 


Yet, if the Fear is going to live on the moments must too.  If the Fear does live on, then it will look like preoccupation – attentiveness living beyond its provocation – even while baking cookies or changing a tire.  Then the aroma of chocolate, the smell of rubber become small sensors of the infinite wonders God allows.

“Is this really durable?  What about when the cookies are gone and the tire is fixed?”

Well, if these sensors are in cookies and tires, then why not also in the ‘no!’ to self and why not also in gentle replies and why not in ‘thank Lord’?


delight to fear Thy name

(Nehemiah 1:8)

Copyright 2010 Mark Olivero all rights reserved – may not be copied without permission.