Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Value of Prayer - April 30, 2008

Good Wednesday morning! Is there any value in prayer? What do we gain for all those hours spent on our knees during our lifetime? Can we calculate an hourly wage from the material gains? Prayer is one of the first things we do in our Christian life. The first time you bowed your head to ask God for His forgiveness, and then in lifting up your head to praise our Lord for His grace; you prayed. Prayer is communicating with God, not only talking, but listening as well. Jesus engaged in prayer daily and spent many nights alone in prayer. Prayer is a part of meditation and a part of calling out for help when in distress.

Our prayers might include material needs and wants, but there is no earthly paycheck for time spent in prayer. However, there is most definitely a fulfilling of our material needs through prayer and I suspect that most of us could point out many examples of prayers answered that involved something material that we simply wanted. We do not calculate the value of prayer in earthly terms, even though our blessings, materially speaking, can indeed overflow. Neither a rich person nor a poor person can be judged as praying or non-praying persons on the basis of their material wealth. Prayer returns several answers from God, from the complex to the simple, involving "yes", "no", and "wait." Prayer may direct us to answers of faith and emotion in the Bible, and sometimes those answers may raise more questions. Prayer brings peace to our troubled minds as we pour out our hearts to God. Prayer brings quiet amid the raging storm of emotion. Prayer facilitates our growing relationship to God as we learn to listen better for His quiet voice.

Once it was necessary for priests to intervene for the people, now we can come before God without fear through the sacrifice of Jesus. In prayer we are allowed to ask "why?" Prayer brings healing, renewed faith, trust, hope, joy, and peace. We need not fear a rebuke from God when praying in the Holy Spirit, who guides us to ask of the Father in faith. One of God's great gifts to us is that He, the Creator, listens to us. Our Creator, the same who created all of the universe, is not too busy or off supervising construction of a new galaxy somewhere, He is actively engaged in listening to all of us and each of us, at all times of the day and night. Pray in faith and confidence. Does prayer have value for us? Oh, yes! I would say that prayer is of great value, whether we put a lot of time and effort into it or only spare a quick moment before some difficult task we must perform. Prayer is the spiritual and mental bread that we need to sustain us in our journey toward God in this life.

Pray earnestly for each other on this fine day,


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Let Go and Let Jesus - April 29, 2008

Good morning, a new day has dawned. Some mornings it is easy to wake up and see my mistakes. Today is a case in point. Late in the night a very odd dream woke me up, but that isn't the point of this. What happened after awakening is the problem. Satan handed me the football, threw a finger up toward the end zone and I took off with the ball. It was only after an hour or so of tossing and turning that I came to realize that I had carried the ball anxiously to the wrong end zone. I am using a football metaphor that may not seem clear at first. What I am speaking of is the late night worries that drive away valuable sleep; the ones where we know that we should trust in the Lord, but somehow we don't until the morning light. Any of us can stubbornly carry our own worries for much too long. The result is the physical symptoms of those worries such as headaches, indigestion, and others following us into the new day. In failing to leave our worries at the foot of the cross, which we know very well that we should, we hurt ourselves. I did it last night, you have probably done the very same thing at some point.

I have good news for us; the dawn brings a new day in Christ. The worries of the night may deprive us of some sleep, but God brings a renewing and refreshing spirit to the new day. We can go forth renewed in Christ, even after a night of worry after listening to a lie of the devil. Thinking back to many such incidents, I cannot recall any that have ever gone as badly as my lie-induced imagination would have me to believe. People will growl and snap, but we are not to be afraid of them. You or I may lose a job, a house, or some other possession in this world, but we will gain all that and more in Christ Jesus. If any of us is trusting too much in a job, God may take it away so that we realize that He, and not the job, is the provider of all of our needs.

Let Christ see to all of your needs, in this world and the next!


Monday, April 28, 2008

Experience to Help - April 28, 2008

Good Monday morning! We are off to work for another week! Today, I cannot but help think that we are blessed in our lives. Yes, there are many obstacles and opportunities in our lives. Some do not have jobs, others do not have a spouse, and many other problems and potentialities that we focus on each day. However, in Christ we live blessed lives full of hope, joy, and peace. Having a condition or experiencing a situation that causes us hardship gives us an invaluable opportunity to help others when they experience something similar. It has happened often to me and I am sure that you can recall the same thing in your walk with Christ. As we work to pray for one another, God will send other people into our lives with needs of their own. Without the experience of PTSD in my life, I would be much less valuable to those around me with stress difficulties of their own. We are allowed, even encouraged, to counsel one another in this life. Each of us knows suffering and through that experience we learn how to help others. Jesus paid the price for our sins on the cross at Calvary, and now He knows how to save us in this life and the next! Trust in the saving power and grace of Jesus Christ our Lord.

God bless you,


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Closer to Jesus - April 27, 2008

Good Sunday morning! The week begins once more with a day of worship and praise for our Lord Jesus! On a bright and frosty morning out here, we seek the Lord in prayer and faith. How is your imagination doing today? Have you thought about work and imagined some conversation, situation or conflict? No, that's good. You shouldn't on a Sunday morning. My imagination took off on me once more with those anxious thoughts of imagined conflict. I had to laugh. What a silly thing to do to myself on a lovely Sunday morning of rest and worship in Christ! People may not understand the maelstrom of thoughts that can lead a person to anxiety or depression. Praise God that few have the conditions that cause these terrible afflictions. However, as in everything, God can use these mental conditions to remind us where our salvation lies. By trusting completely in Jesus anxious and depressed thoughts are turned to peaceful and loving joy in Christ Jesus. The sun may shine on the just and the unjust, but it also shines on the mentally upset and the peacefully content. Choosing to believe in Jesus can make any of us more at peace as we grow closer to our Lord. He does not save us and then walk away leaving us to struggle with our new faith. Every step of our journey back to Jesus is one of closer friendship and love with our Lord. Praise God the Father for the everlasting and faithful love of Jesus Christ!

May God's great love fill you on this wonderful day!


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Amazing God - April 26, 2008

Good Saturday morning! I see the first signs of the rummage sale crowd moving about the streets; I may join them in a bit as there are two sales on the next street over. In Guideposts this month, there is a story of a garage sale addict; she had to set limits to her buying, even at garage sales. Can we all agree that it is fun to buy? I think so, and I too have had to set limits for myself. The lure of collecting can become simply another form of greed. This morning, I took a trip to Wal-Mart and bought nothing but necessities... ah!... really, all needed things... ah!... okay, so the Cheeze-its weren't really needed, but they are tasty! I wonder if any of the garage sales have some good books today?

Reading has become a passion once more now that college has finished running me through the grinder. Alrighty then, enough about that. Lately, I have seen many messages regarding the power of prayer. Prayer is one of the best things that we can do for each other and especially for those who do not believe in Jesus. We can pray anywhere and at any time of the day or night, short prayers or long prayers, emotional prayers and quick prayers, all of those prayers are heard by God. We may not see the immediate answer that we want, but we all pray that God's will is done and not our own. Prayer, the powerful and pleasant activity that we engage in daily, has an impact that goes far beyond what we can see. I think that when we see Jesus, He will be kind enough to show us just how far our prayers went in this lifetime. What will we say then? Probably just what we say now... "Wow! You are amazing, God!" Today, take an extra moment or two to kneel down and pray for someone that you know is hurting.

God loves you to pray for others, enjoy it!


Friday, April 25, 2008

A Great Deal - April 25, 2008

Good Friday morning! The second time that I have seen the a.m. of this Friday, by the way. The boss gave me an unusual turn of phrase last night as we left work at around 0144, that was: "come in and save the world." Now he meant something else, but this morning I gave some thought to the beauty of that phrase, save the world. You and I may not be able to save the world, but we know someone who can! In a wonderful way that the world cannot match, our Savior makes an offer with no strings attached and the price already paid, believe in Him and you will be saved. Simple, straightforward, and free of the deceits and subterfuge the offers of the world are infamous for having. Want to live in your own home? You must pay a steep price, so steep that most of us can only pay it over 20 or 30 years, plus a lot of interest is added, and don't forget the fees and taxes! In this world, we are often warned that offers that look too good to be true probably are. The offer of Jesus, free salvation and life eternally with Him, has no strings, gimmicks, or traps - believe and you are saved, that's it. What a wonderful Lord and Savior we have in Jesus! On this great Friday morning, enjoy the gift of eternal life in Jesus that each of us have been given for simply believing in Him.

Have a blessed and wonderful weekend in Christ Jesus!


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Time is Passing - April 24, 2008

Good morning! A popular song from a few years back is entitled, "We have all the time in the world." This may seem to date me a bit, but I was thinking that with the availability of media in this day, a person can be a huge fan of movies from the 1940's, and yet be born as late as the 1990's. Many of the older films have been available on DVD for some time now. The world may feel that it has nothing but time, but we know better. Time is growing short for this world. On the other hand, we are counseled, even commanded in the Bible, to have patience. This would seem to be a dichotomy. How do we have patience and yet keep in mind that time is passing quickly for the world? In this we must know that God's plan will take place in God's perfect time. Jesus may arrive today, or He may arrive in 10,000 years, we simply do not know the date. In this we must count on the patience of our Lord and have faith in His perfect timing. On the other hand, we must spread the Good News to a world in danger of coming to the end times.

Two of Jesus' prime examples in this world are farmers and fishermen, both occupations require a person to learn patience. A farmer plants and then does not see a crop until a few months later. Fishermen may go all day without a strike on their line. Yet both occupations know that the time will come to harvest, one can see the growing plants and the other has signs to watch for as well. The signs are all around us and even in the history books. I believe that we only need to be patient for a short time; a short time that may consist of hours, days, years, or decades, but a short time nonetheless. A popular saying we learn in life is "this too shall pass." Our problems may seem about to choke us, but patience will show us to the end, both in our own life and problems, and in the bigger picture of this world. Stand on the promise that the time is quickly passing us on to the great appearing of our Lord.

God bless you on this fine day,


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Joy Plateau - April 23, 2008

Good Wednesday morning, and a happy administrative professionals day. Have you been lost in that maelstrom of thoughts lately? That whirlwind of thoughts that takes us to a dark place of dread and anxiety? Our adversary specializes in whispering anxious or depressed thoughts to us. Those thoughts are lies, and we need the Truth to fight them. Today, I thought that the height of joy would be a peak, but that by definition shows a downside to joy. Climbing up to the peak would only leave us with a long slide to the bottom. However, in Christ the joy we will experience in that day that He calls us home is more like a plateau, an unending plateau with no drop off. All through this life we will struggle and race in one direction only... toward Christ. It may seem that your life is pulling you in many directions at once, with demands on your time and resources coming from all points of the compass. However, in the end there is only one goal and one destination, Christ Jesus. I pray that all of us will experience the unending and bountiful joy of Jesus in this life and the next.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Too Many Wives? - April 22, 2008

Good Tuesday morning! How would you like to be the judge in whose court the polygamy trials down in Texas have landed? Wow, what a confused mess that must be! Wives, children, and lawyers by the score all clamoring for attention in some way, or trying to avoid the attention entirely in some cases. I do like the colors of the dresses that I have seen in some of the news photos. That's me, amateur fashion critic. This world does tend to produce some complicated tangles in its social situations. How do you decide between freedom of religion, in this case one that believes in multiple wives, and the policy against polygamy? If I recall my history correctly, I believe that Utah was once declared to be in rebellion over polygamy, with federal troops sent in to put down the "rebellion". It is still a strange and sexist turn of the worldly mind that so many religions have believed in multiple wives, but I cannot think of one that has allowed multiple husbands. In this, I think that women have proven wiser than men, as most women would remind us, "who could stand more than one husband in the first place?" Yes, men, I am putting us down once more.

What I see in the Bible, and I do know that the example of Abraham is most often used to justify polygamy, is that Jesus said that one man and one woman are joined together. There was one Adam and one Eve, one Joseph and one Mary, and one Christ and one bride, the church. While our lust of the flesh may lead us to attempt to rationalize polygamy, it seems to me that it is wrong for us to do this. This is one area where further research is needed. Prayer is the first place to go in a situation with doubt and conflicting views, and I am sure that God has more to say on this if we will kneel down and ask Him.

Have a wonderful and blessed day in Christ Jesus!


Monday, April 21, 2008

God's Plan in our Suffering - April 21, 2008

Good morning, the new week began yesterday in worship, and it continues today in our work for Christ. You will probably not be surprised to find out that I don't have all of the answers. Not to my own situation, and certainly not to yours. However, I know someone who does have those answers. Especially to the great question that all of us have within our hearts, and that question is "Why?" We might ask, and probably have many times before, "Why do we suffer?". The key to this is, of course, in the Bible. The best example that I can think of is the time that James and John asked Jesus to reserve seats for them in Heaven. Now these will be very special seats, the thrones at the left and right of Jesus' own throne. Jesus asked them if they were willing to pay the price - I'm sure knowing full well that the brothers had no idea just what that cost would be - and then assuring them that they would indeed share in His cup. You might make the connection that this was fulfilled symbolically at the Last Supper. However, both James and John later shared in Jesus cup of suffering, just as we do in this day nearly 2,000 years later.

That cup of suffering, which you and I might have felt upon awakening this morning, is a heavy burden to bear. Take comfort in this: Jesus allows us to share in His cup of suffering that we might be made holy and share in His own glory. Now that glory and the wiping away of our suffering has not happened yet if you are reading this message here on this earth. We share in the suffering that we might be welcomed home by Jesus on that great day of the Lord. Does that ease the pain of our earthly suffering? Yes, I believe that it does, because knowing the "why" of something gives us an insight into God's great plan. Look at it this way: If your boss gives you some seemingly insignificant and onerous task, you have a tendency to rebel and grumble. However, if the boss later tells you why the task needs to be done by you, the "why", assuming that it makes sense to you, will make the entire situation much easier, perhaps even enjoyable, to perform.

My platoon mates and I, serving our time in Marine boot camp, often found ourselves on the receiving end of many seemingly worthless and time-wasting activities. However, upon an explanation from the drill instructor, we would find that the task was indeed worthless and time-wasting. Just kidding, I can't think of any task that did not have some good explanation, though it may not have occurred to us at the time. The explanation for some suffering that you or I may be experiencing this morning may not seem obvious to us right now. I have faith that in the day when we stand before Jesus and look back at where we came from one final time, all of the incidents where we may have cried "why?" to our Father in Heaven will become quite clear to us, and the reason will become crystal clear and perfect, just like everything that God does for us.

Why me, Lord? ...Because I love you!

Trust in God's great plan for you today,


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Spirit of Victory - April 20, 2008

Good Sunday morning! 2 Timothy 1:7 tells us that God does not give us a spirit of fear and timidity, but a spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. We need to hold these words closely in our hearts, for it seems that this world would have us stay in fear and timidity. Everywhere we look we see advertisements telling us how messed up we are, but God has a different Word for us. That Word is Jesus Christ, and He died for us. Jesus sacrificed His own life not for what we think we might become, but for each of us just as we are now. Is some condition bothering you right now? Know that God hears your prayers and will act in His own perfect time. Rejoice in the Spirit, and live in the light of the Son. One day all tears and sorrows will be washed away in the blood of Jesus. We hold eternity in our hearts so that the transitory nature of now will not defeat us. In His Word, God reminds us that all things happen for the good of those who love Him. I know that you and I love God with all of our hearts, and therefore I know that whatever trials we are enduring right now will work out for our own good. As Pastor Osteen tells us this morning, we are not victims of this world, but victors in Christ Jesus!

God bless you on this fine Sunday morning!


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Faith is the Key - April 19, 2008

Good Saturday morning! We expect a fine, warm day out here today. I have seen the campers and boats appearing, not unlike the dandelions in my lawn... a sure sign of spring. I read in Luke this morning the story of the Roman officer who believed in Jesus, and never met him. The story goes that this officer sent some Jewish leaders to ask Jesus to heal a valued slave of the officer's. As Jesus was on the way to the officer's house, he sent servants to tell Jesus not to bother since the officer was not worthy to have Jesus in his home. Upon further explanation, the officer says that Jesus can heal from there because the officer recognizes Jesus' authority and gives an example from his own situation. You and I are familiar with the story and I have written about it before this. However, the story remains one of the more powerful little stories from Jesus' life on this earth. A Roman, and an officer, having a faith that astonished our Lord Jesus, is a story that we do well to recall.

Alistair MacLean wrote a book entitled "Fear is the Key" many years ago, and to borrow a bit from that, we live in a book that could be called, "Faith is the Key." The Roman officer explains that he lives under the authority of his superiors and over his men. When he tells one to "go", the man goes, and when he tells one to "come", he arrives promptly. I work under the authority of a boss and when he says to "come or go"...I want to rebel. I also live over two cats, and when I say "come" they stare at me, and when I say "go", they still stare at me. When one sits at the door, I get up and let her out. Sometimes I think that my faith is in that same condition... namely none at all. This is a depressing, or depressed, thought and is probably not at all correct. For one thing, to compare well-trained and obedient Roman soldiers to my situation with cats is unfair to myself.

Cats, unless you have many weeks to spend with them, are famously untrainable. A cat's two overriding concerns are "now" and "I want", a couple things the Lord may hear from us quite a bit. Often we blame ourselves for having little faith; probably thinking that we need great faith in God before anything will happen in our lives that we pray for. However, we only a little faith in our great God for amazing things to happen. How much faith you or I have been given is not the question; the question is how great is the God in whom we place that faith. Great indeed is the Creator and Sustainor of our faith!

To God be the Glory!


Friday, April 18, 2008

A Great Day in Christ - April 18, 2008

Good Friday morning! If you are a die-hard Rockies fan, you may not be up yet, or worse not in bed yet. The game ended sometime after one a.m. this morning and fans enjoyed (?) 22 innings worth of baseball. No, I didn't watch, which explains why I can be up writing at 0600 this morning. I think the baseball season is too long already, making each game last more than six hours would be like kicking someone at the end of a long race. Ah, Friday, a day to relax a bit at work, or in some cases to not be there at all. I shall try to do my best at work today, and I hope that you will too.

Work, not something that we always look forward to, and often something we look forward to getting away from, whether in retirement or just for the evening. God calls us to enjoy our work and do well at it. How do we enjoy something that demands so much? Start a little at a time. Work on starting each workday with a positive attitude in Christ. Jesus died to save you and I; we can certainly start each day by realizing that we are loved and worth a great price, that of Jesus' own life! As the dark mornings of winter give way to the morning sunshine of spring, take a moment each morning to face the rising sun and know that the Son of God is risen. We can take a pledge to work on our work attitudes in small steps. Begin with a little prayer, "Jesus died to save me, and He will not leave me. Today will be a great day in Christ Jesus!"

God's great blessing go with you on this great day,


Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Big Lie and the True Answer - April 17, 2008

Good Thursday morning! In reading further into the coming genetic revolution, I find that it is quite likely that many of the goals will be met. The scientists are not stupid and they do know that their discoveries may be used in either good ways or bad ways. What I fear in this new technology is the big lie. Gaining an ageless body on this earth will not make one immortal, nor free anyone from the pain we experience in this life. What would happen if your or my insurance company would pay for an age-defying genetic procedure, but our relatives and friends could not have this done. You or I might be caught up in a seemingly endless cycle of funerals for dear loved ones. That is seeing the bad side though. What would happen if all of us were able to have some genetic modification and became ageless in these bodies. Imagine how petty irritations might explode over the years. Imagine how the sorrows you know now might grow as the years pass.

I call the promise of agelessness through genetics a big lie because of the possibility that humans might think that through this we will have saved ourselves. We know that only in Jesus will we find eternal life, and not through a lie of simply continuing in the life we have on this earth. Even if our bodies do not age, what would we really gain? Look around you; how long do you want to stay here while Jesus holds a place for you in Heaven? How many wars would any of us like to witness before we go? In the Revelation, we read of unbelievers crying out for death and not being able to find it. Could this be that they did discover a genetic way to cure the aging problem?

How much better is it to look upon our aging as a blessing from God? We have a time piece within us that is counting off the moments until we can be with Jesus. Each new day brings us one day closer to our Lord and Savior! In Christ this is not a depressing thought, but one of great joy and anticipation. Today, I am one day closer to the Lord than I was yesterday! The suffering and sorrow of the past days are gone forever, and I look forward to the day when our sorrows and suffering will be ended by our Lord Jesus...permanently! The coming genetic revolution may make some of life a bit easier. Arthritis, heart disease, cancer, and other conditions may become a thing of the past for some or all of us. However, while we praise God for that, we will remain fixed in our faith in Jesus, the only true answer to the world's ills.

May God grant you peace and joy on this fine day,


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Old Wine Skins - April 16, 2008

Good morning! At the end of Luke chapter 5, where Jesus tells the well known saying of wine and wine skins, we find the following little gem:

But no one who drinks the old wine seems to want the fresh and the new. `The old is better,' they say." (Luke 5:39)

In a secular sense, we know this means that people are resistant to change. In the spiritual sense, Jesus knew that the Jews did not want to embrace the Good News of the new covenant that He brought to them.

In the military, we learned of commanders who clung religiously to old ways until fired after a humiliating defeat. However, each new war seemed to show a leader from some country doing that very thing. We have a tendency to cling to the old ways! In some cases the old ways are a good place to start; we don't throw out the ten commandments just because they are old. However, the old ways can also be a smothering blanket when someone clings too tightly and refuses to see the Good News of Jesus. Motivational speakers are much more than a dime per dozen these days; that is, they cost way more than a dime and hordes of them wander the corporate landscape. Whether speaking of paradigms or ruts, many of these speakers have a similar message, "Don't wallow in the same old rut." Jesus brought us a new message, life in Him by grace through faith. We must be out and spreading this new message. Trust in the Lord to guide you into opportunities for spreading the wonderful news about our Lord Jesus.

Praise God in the highest!


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Signs II - April 15, 2008

Good morning, the light awakens us once more to the new day. I saw my first dandelions yesterday, a sure sign that yardwork time has arrived. Signs are what we are told to watch for in the Bible, and signs are apparent in the news and all around us these days. Today in the fourth chapter of Luke, I read of the proclamation Jesus made from Isaiah concerning himself, and how he confirmed it to the people of his hometown. At first, they were thrilled and wondered how their hometown boy could speak so graciously. However, after speaking more, Jesus became the target of an enraged mob, which threatened to push him off a cliff. How did this change so quickly? I suspect they were never ready to accept Jesus as Lord in the first place, and this is what Jesus told them. Every place that Jesus went to, he healed the sick and performed miracles... except in the places where unbelief demanded signs. His hometown of Nazareth, and then the Pharisees and religious leaders in Jerusalem, both demanded signs. Later, Herod would demand a sign in his palace. In no case did Jesus give signs or perform miracles for those whose unbelief prevented them from seeing Him as the Messiah. We are told to watch for the signs, not to demand them! Now we have the entire New Testament to show the signs and miracles performed by Jesus, and we are very glad of it. The signs of the end have begun, but we will not know the time of our redemption from the earth. Be glad for the coming glory of Jesus Christ our Lord, and joyously watch for those signs while spreading the Good News!

Let the glory of the Lord rise in us,


Monday, April 14, 2008

The Dark and the Light - April 14, 2008

Good Monday morning! The day dawns clear and bright out here on the rolling hills of western Nebraska. Have you prayed for the world today? I realize that it is fairly early on a Monday morning for a heavy burden such as that, but we must take it upon ourselves to pray for this fallen world. If the followers of Christ do not care enough to pray for everyone, then who will? Loving everyone can be a difficult choice to make. We are bombarded daily with news reports of hatred toward our country and our faith. We view tragedies on television and in the print media. We see the pain and suffering in every day life and wonder if perhaps it wouldn't be better to start over. Rejoice in the fact that God sees all of this too, and He did start over with the new covenant in Christ Jesus. Our Lord did warn us that the world would get very dark at the end, just before the Light arrives to start His new kingdom. The times do look very dark, and that should renew our hopeful expectation of renewal in Christ. As the work week starts today, know that Christ is with us in everything we do. Let His joy burst forth in our labor and in our leisure this fine week.

God bless us all on this great day,


Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Little Round Trip - April 13, 2008

Good Sunday morning! Do you know what is in the future? We immediately begin to think of our own future at work, in our family, and in our fortune when considering that question. Of course, we have only a vague idea about what will happen according to our plans, and no idea at all about what may happen in this world. However, you do know something that is in the future, the rapture of the church. You will find the good news of this event in the Bible and in the many sermons and discussions about it. What will today bring? What will tomorrow bring? These questions occur to us frequently. We know one possible answer to those questions; Jesus may call us up to heaven on any given day. To us that is a great and encouraging thought. Today, in spite of the troubles and obstacles that are coming our way, we may be suddenly caught up and taken away from all of this struggle and suffering.

Many times I have thought, "now would be a good time, Lord." However, God doesn't operate according to my wishes or timetable. What does happen, as we grow in Jesus, is that our wishes and timetable grow closer to His great plan for ourselves and the world as a whole. Each of us grows in patience, waiting joyfully for God's wonderful plans to grow ripe in our life and in this world. We grow more in love of our brothers and sisters in Christ, and then in the love of all people. We grow to love ourselves more, and that may seem the most difficult of all. In our own lives, as we examine and evaluate our condition and actions, we can grow to hate what we see. Jesus calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves. To me that means that we will not be able to love our neighbors unless we grow to love ourselves...just as we are and not as we hope to become. Jesus loves us so much that He gave up His life in our place on the cross. Don't you think that maybe we should take a look at our own self with that same love? Try not to worry about becoming righteous, that's Jesus' job and He is much better at than we will ever be. Work on what is in our power to change such as eating right, exercising, and giving up bad habits. Leave things that we cannot change in the very capable hands of Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Does that sound like the serenity prayer? Yes, and praise God for that!

I have taken you on a round-about journey this morning. From the future, to the rapture, and back to your neighbors and loving your own self. In all of this is the realization that Jesus is the One... The Way, the Truth, and the Life. We may try to puzzle out the prophecies in the Revelation, but one thing is sure, Jesus is where our focus should be. I have often thought that one day millions of Christians will suddenly realize who the anti-Christ is and just as we are about to tell the world, bang, the rapture will be upon us. In that moment, we will know that knowing who is who in this world is far less important than knowing the One, who lives in our heart.

Praise God for the glory of this day!


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Hard Spots - April 12, 2008

Good Saturday morning! One of the complaints the secular world has against ministers is the load of guilt they sometimes preach. In thinking about this today, it occurred to me that ministers have a tough job. Reminding us of sin and the guilt that we have from original sin is not an easy thing to do. While we would like to have our ministers be cuddly and soft, they have a duty to remind us of backsliding, sinful thoughts, evangelizing, and leading us to the cross. As you will see in Pastor Rogers' devotional this morning, reminders to watch our condition, or to be on guard as the Bible tells us, are not always comfortable, easygoing words. If we have become lukewarm in our love toward Jesus, a few words about backsliding will prick our consciences. All of us are to be the salt of the world, and salt hurts when rubbed on a sore, just as it also cleanses. Feeling a little pricked because your minister didn't have soft, cuddly words for you? Well praise God for that! There are times to be soft and times to remind each of us that God is at hand. Not only is God at hand as the loving, caring Abba, but also as the strict Father who wants the best for each of us. As we all know from growing up, what is best for us is not always in line with what we want to do. Just as a loving parent might violently snatch a child back from the path of a speeding bus, so our heavenly Father might send a few stern words to our minister to bring us back to the light.

Your minister may phrase it more gently than I have, that is good too. Don't be thinking a gentle man or woman is weak. In Philippians we are reminded, "let your gentleness be known to all men, the Lord is at hand." A gentle touch or gentle words should never be taken for weakness. Only in a hardened heart will gentle words find no place to enter in. Did you think that Jesus spoke only in general when He told the parable of the soils? Each of us struggles with hard and fertile parts of our hearts, and these will change over time and with the work of the Holy Spirit. However, do not be without hope. When the time is right and the work of the Holy Spirit is completed in our hearts, there will be no hardened spots left when Jesus welcomes us home.

God loves you and so do I,


Friday, April 11, 2008

Live Forever? - April 11, 2008

Good Friday morning! We are covered with snow out here. The snow continued all through yesterday and accumulated a pretty fair amount. Praise the Lord for a good snow! Do you and I have the strength to endure in this life? Is life so good that we will give everything to live forever on this earth? We know by now that the answer is "no" to both questions. This life is a struggle that grows more difficult with each passing day. However, the Lord gives us His strength to endure, and the promise of life eternally with Him. As I look out onto the new fallen snow, I also realize that weeds lay underneath that white blanket. The weeds and grass are already hosting insects, both benign and harmful, even at this early stage of spring. What looks perfect in this world is in fact flawed, stained by sin and doomed to die. The most fit and attractive bodies are battlegrounds of death and disease when viewed up close. The beautiful mountains are best viewed from a distance. Forests that appear so lovely turn out to be war zones where everything is caught up in the struggle to grow or die. Stay here? Why would someone strive for that?

This world is not our home, and this life is not what God has prepared for our eternal destiny. Those who rush about seeking to live longer, taking supplements and reading self-help books, are cleaning up a sinking vessel. There is certainly nothing wrong with taking care of our bodies, but we should avoid the worship of the self that this world teaches. Get in shape, lose weight, strengthen your body, and praise God for His mercy and grace while you do it. I am working on that myself, but always remember that our home is not here on this earth. Our salvation lies in Jesus Christ, and not in attempting to achieve our own immortality in a fallen world.

Can you tell that the story of the man seeking his own immortality has disturbed me? That is such a sad tale. He may achieve his goal; he is a wealthy and intelligent man. However, what will he have accomplished? He may become immortal on a world that is doomed. The immortal rat chained to the mast of a sunken ship. No thanks, I will believe in Jesus!


Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Time Draws Near - April 10, 2008

Good Thursday morning! We awaken to more snow and a cold day. Last night, I watched a show on HDNET about some very interesting people. However, beyond those folks was the experiment to inject stem cells from some other beast into a mouse embryo. The experiment was deemed a success and a chimera, something that is a combination of two very dissimilar beasts, was created in the lab. Cloning and stem cell research has reached the point where almost anything is possible. Great news for some, frightening news for others, and glorious news for us. Why glorious? I think that when some scientists start talking about making humans immortal then we are very close to the end times and Jesus glorious reappearing. This ties in very closely with what Pastor Rogers' devotional says today. I have long since quit being surprised when a devotional from someone who has gone to be with the Lord, matches very closely with something that I feel compelled to write about on any given day. Where is this world going? We already know that from the scriptures. There already are, and there will be more, amazing scientific advances. The pace of technology and science discoveries has become dizzying. One day someone will pronounce that because of some new discovery, we no longer need religion, or God. You can safely rest in the knowledge that God will make His glorious presence known, even among those who refuse to believe. Let God open our eyes to see His glorious presence in every area of our lives.

Hallelujah to the King of kings!


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Soon - April 9, 2008

Good Wednesday morning! Soon is the word that we must use to describe this last age. Messages arrive quickly through electronic means. People arrive quickly through the magic of airline and automobile travel. Calendar dates arrive quickly simply because they always have. Everything happens soon or even now. The coming of Jesus will happen soon. Jesus speaks of watching the signs and knowing that His second coming will happen soon; it is right at the very door. Soon we must spread the Good News of His resurrection and life. Soon we must prepare our lives to depart this earth. Soon we must learn what it is God would have us to do during our short time here. Jesus left and gave us His peace, knowing that we would need it in this hasty time in which we live. Soon news of another war or calamity will arrive on our Internet terminal or television. Soon we will hear of another sign that the end is near. One day, soon, all of those "soons" will be "now" and Jesus will come with the trumpet shout of heaven to gather us up. We must be about our Father's work quickly. I feel the urgency to all of this and I'm sure that you do as well. Our Lord will come for us... soon!

Praise God that all of this will not last much longer,


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Wars and Rumors of Wars - April 8, 2008

Good Tuesday morning! In Mark, Jesus spoke to the disciples of coming wars and rumors of wars. Yet, He told them not to be concerned, not to worry. He further warned them of earthquakes and famines in many places, but still to not worry. We have lived in those times all of our lives. It seems that there has been no period of peace in the last several hundred years, perhaps even to the time of Christ. Crusades, jihads, national wars, civil wars, and wars of conquest have given way to genocides or the euphemism of ethnic cleansing. The media cannot even take the space to write about or report on all the little wars that go on constantly. Where are we to turn for safety in all of this? God has remained the same from everlasting to everlasting; we need only trust in Him. Think about everlasting. From one everlasting to another everlasting? My mind cannot comprehend the enormity of that phrase. When worry begins to gnaw at us, and thoughts of our own safety on war begin to weigh on our minds, we must turn to Christ, the Lord and Savior. Doubts and worries will be whispered in our ears every day by that old enemy of Christ. The way to combat those fears is to focus on Christ, and to obey His oft repeated command; "Don't be afraid."

May God grant us His peace this day,


Congratulations to the Jayhawks and Tigers on a tough and thrilling championship game last night!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Gentleness - April 7, 2008

Good Monday morning! In all the descriptions of God... all powerful, mighty, wise, and many others, do we ever stop to think about gentleness? The first trumpet judgements in the Revelation speak of one-third of the human race being killed. While that is a terrible number to contemplate, we may want to think that two-thirds will survive. In Noah's time only eight persons survived the flood, but God could have started over with none too. We find both in Ezekiel's vision of the valley of dry bones and in Jesus teaching, that God can make a nation for Abraham from rocks or dry bones. We also believe that God will rapture His church before the great tribulation. Gentleness seems to be in every aspect of God's descriptions in the Bible. You might point out the time that God commanded Israel to destroy a nation completely, down to the last child. How gentle is that? The truth is that we don't know. God sees past the human death that weighs upon us constantly. Every one of those persons in that destroyed nation might be in heaven with God right now. We simply do not know enough to judge God's ways. The creation is not qualified to judge the Creator, though the world does like to attempt it. As I grow in the love and knowledge of our Lord, I see gentleness, mercy, compassion, and most of all, love, in all of His actions and commandments.

Praise God for the eternal love of Jesus!


Sunday, April 06, 2008

Jesus is different - April 6, 2008

Good Sunday morning! Do you believe in healing? How about miracles? Do you believe in the eternal joy of walking in Jesus' love? I can hear you saying "yes, yes, and yes!" However, many still do not or will not believe. The choice remains the same as it did when Jesus walked the earth. Miracles and healing have not gone away; the joy and love of Jesus are as strong as ever. All people face one choice, believe and accept Jesus as Lord, or reject Him. Why do you think that Muhammed lumped Jesus in with the Jewish prophets? The Jews, the hated enemy of Muhammedans, killed all the prophets. If Jesus is dead like all the other prophets, then He can be safely ignored. We, who have chosen to believe, know that Jesus is not like all other ministers and prophets, for He alone is the source of all light and love. Other religions tell us how to earn salvation; Jesus gives salvation and lets us know that it cannot be earned. If we believe that salvation can be earned, then it is but a short step to believe in our own self and forget God. The world would have us to believe in the humanity of humans; Jesus tells us there is none good and that all fall short of the glory of God. I just finished reading an ethics text where the Golder Rule is shown to be the same as sayings of other religions. However, Jesus' statement is just a bit different. Jesus' Golden Rule starts out with each of us doing the good works; other versions start out with others doing good first. Jesus reminded us that even secular folks are good to those they consider friends; He tells us to do good to those who hate and persecute us. How do we manage to believe in a world that scoffs at believers? We receive the faith of God and have faith in God.

Praise God!


Saturday, April 05, 2008

Learning More - April 5, 2008

Good Saturday morning! What do I know? That is a good question to begin a learning process. This morning, I wondered how much I truly know about holiness, righteousness, grace, love, and justice. I have used these terms in devotionals, heard them in sermons, and read them in the Word of God, but how much have I really tried to learn about them? Today seems like a good day to take a dose of humility and ask for God's guidance in learning more about some of the basic terms of our faith. College is over, I applied for my diploma last night (another $30 fee, thank you very much) and now I have the time to apply my learning to, well, do more learning! All through college I have yearned to spend time digging more deeply into the Word and the wonderful books written to help us understand more of God's gift to us. Along the way of course, I should like to share what I find with you. I have quite a few companion books to Christian life and questions, but feel free to make suggestions from your own reading that may help in this endeavor. I spent the past three years studying what college wanted me to study; now it's my turn to study the teaching of my friend Jesus Christ.

May the name of Jesus be held in reverence by each of us,


Friday, April 04, 2008

Death's Shadow - April 4, 2008

Good Friday morning! We arise once more to a beautiful dawn in a dark world. Have you ever come to realize in the Spirit that you have been once more walking through the valley of the shadow of death? The New Living Translation changes that verse to "dark valleys", but in this case, I believe the King James version is more accurate. That dread valley is often more in our mind than in reality. The dark, churning thoughts of death and pain, the fears and anxieties, the worry and doubt, all combine to plunge us into the valley of the shadow of death. As with any dark time, it begins slowly, and later the plunge begins in earnest. However, God always leads us through that valley. We may wish that He would lead us home when we cry out in the midst of death's valley, but He leads us instead to the green pastures of His great love. One day we will go home to Jesus. Until then, we endure the dark valleys and try to relax in the green pastures. As the sun rises this morning, I pray that each of us will be lead out of another valley in death's shadow, and into the green pasture of Jesus' love and mercy.

The grace of Christ Jesus goes with you this day,


Thursday, April 03, 2008

Have Mercy - April 3, 2008

Good morning! I find it amazing that those the people called blind often saw more clearly than many others. In Mark, we read about yet another blind beggar who called out to Jesus. This one asks an interesting favor of Jesus. The man asked that Jesus show mercy to him. In our daily prayers in this difficult life, how often do we stop to ask our Lord to have mercy on us? There are a great many needs and requests for healing in our prayers, but we may want to simply ask for mercy. Jesus had compassion on that blind man and healed his earthly sight. However, that supposedly blind man had already seen what many with normal vision refused to see. "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me." In naming Jesus, "Son of David", the blind man acknowledged our Lord as the Messiah. In those times, that phrase had a powerful meaning to the Judeans. They looked for the Son of David to save them from Roman occupation, when in truth the Son of David was already among them and working to save them from the occupation of Satan. We know that Jesus paid the full ransom for us, saving those who will believe in the Son of God. However, in the time that Jesus walked the Earth, many could not or would not see the Messiah for who he was in their own time. The prophecies are more clear for us who live after Jesus' first coming and anticipate the second. We have much less excuse for missing the Good News.

Lord, have mercy on us,


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Run to Jesus - April 2, 2008

Good morning! I had planned on taking a two-week break from any evening computer work after college, but that is in jeopardy. The writing, it seems, will not wait. You will notice a little tardiness in the devotional this morning; I had another of those nighttime installs last night. The cat didn't take his morning hug very well today. Actually, he doesn't take a hug well any time of day. I think the Lord gave the cat to me to remind me of how I often act in just the same way with Jesus. I want the attention and providence of Jesus, but when He pulls me close, I try to pull away. We need to be reminded of Jesus' special love for each of us. At times our rebellious nature tries to reassert itself and we pull away from our Lord.

In Mark, the disciples became too protective of Jesus one time, scolding some parents who had let their children run to the Teacher. Jesus in turn became angry with His disciples for preventing the children from coming to Him. In the times we notice an urge to pull away from Jesus, we should remember that we once ran to Him in the same manner a child would run to Him. We still need to do just that. Trials and temptations coming at us? Run to Jesus. Does everything seem just fine and not a cloud in the sky? Run to Jesus. After we run to Jesus, we can learn the joy of walking with Him.

Praise God at the dawning of the new day,


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Name of Jesus - April 1, 2008

Good morning! Happy April Fools' Day to all of you. No, there will be no fooling in the devotional; I'll leave that to your coworkers and friends. Speaking of fools, how often in the media, especially television and movies, do we hear the name of Jesus taken in vain? All of us find that we are inundated daily with the use of our Lord's name as an expletive. We may feel the urge to rail against it, but we need to remember the gentleness of our Lord. I don't want us to lose the value of the name of Jesus. Common usage reduces the value of a name, and we are commanded never to use the name of our Lord in a common manner. Reverence, respect, and worship the name of Jesus Christ.

It is interesting that one of the more common sins in this age is blasphemy... the very thing that Jesus was accused of many times in His life on the earth. The world is nothing if not hypocritical! Of course, the world didn't want to think of Jesus as the Son of God, even though the demons knew and acknowledged Him, at least when Jesus didn't stop them first. In reading through the Gospel accounts, it amazes me that demons recognized the Son of the Most High, while many humans chose to reject Him! That is not to say that the demons loved Him, and I like to remember that many humans did choose to recognize the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. How good does it feel to believe and to say, "Jesus, you are the Son of the Most High God, the Messiah, the Lord of lords, and King of kings!" It feels much better than profaning His holy name, that is for sure.

Praise, glory, and honor to the Most High God!