Saturday, January 31, 2009

Writing a little Hungry - January 31, 2009

Good Saturday morning! I got up in time for Wild West Tech and found a show on wieners. Not the dog, but hot dogs, the little sausages we all fall prey to at times. Interesting fact: a hot dog and bun with mustard has the same calories as a low-fat frozen yogurt. Unfortunately, the calories still count and most of us don't stop with mustard... or just one hot dog. :-) Bringing you trivial and important facts to start your weekend. And you thought I was completely useless. Tsk, tsk!

Anyone feel the urge for a chili-cheese dog with fries right now? I wonder if it would be a good idea to have breakfast before watching food shows and then trying to write? Yep, might be on to something there. The subject this week in my mind has been service. How to serve God by serving my fellow humans on this planet. Not that other planets are off limits, I just don't know any humans on other planets... except for that person all of us just thought of. Yes, if I get the chance I will serve Paris Hilton too, on whatever planet she might be at the time. :-)

In order to make myself more available for service, I removed the games from my computer this week. I experienced the same feelings an addict might feel on that first day, but after that I felt a marvelous sense of liberation. A good PC game (XBox, video, Wii, etc.) can take hours, and I need those hours to write and do other service to help others. I don't think there is anything wrong with a computer game... until the time becomes time that could be better spent in serving someone in need. Like many things that are enjoyable in this world, one must use moderation or the harmless activity becomes a sin. A dish of ice cream for dessert is good, eating ice cream all day makes a person's girth not fit for service, and if done long enough might even prevent one from exiting a normal-width door. Some things God created to be enjoyed in limited amounts.

One way to find your niche in God's service is to ask for input, often one does not need to ask, from your brothers and sisters in Christ. You may get more input than you expected. (Am I really good at all that?) One idea that surfaced this week is to start a blog for questions about Christ and His Word. After the idea came from Burt (no good deed goes unpunished!), I checked with Pastor Doug and now I present it to you. Is this something you think I should do? There will be trolls and I will need to work on the gentle answer to that kind of posting. Take a moment to pray about this if you would please.

Other service - I have a neighbor who never shovels their walk and drive when it snows. I have questioned and even shaken my head at this over the past couple of years. Guess what God put on my heart to do at the next snow? Now, I could use a bit of service in this too. If anyone is good with mechanical devices, the snow blower I was given last year did not start when I tried to use it. Give a holler if you can help with this. :-) The next snow might cover two driveways and walks to a depth that would require a snow blower.

I think I will try brownies for the next Life Group meeting. The good thing about serving others when baking? Ya don't eat the whole thing yourself! We have decided to make the Tuesday breakfast meeting a regular thing. One rule that God impressed on my heart when embarking on a writing career - always make time for my brothers and sisters in Christ. I have yet to be caught while right in the middle of writing something, unlike my former workplace where jarring interruptions were the norm. What did Jesus say on the cross that stands at odds with my time there? "It is accomplished!" I never seemed to be able to finish projects at my former workplace. That creates an overall stress that builds over time. I am not completely healed yet, but as each week passes I feel better. Once more we see an example of something that seems so painful at first, and it was, is actually meant for our benefit.

Whoo! I should have breakfast. A little fasting seems to go a long way when writing. No, I will not start writing in a half-starved condition. A person's mind does not work well when underfed, I found that out in boot camp. Strange things could start coming out of my typing fingers if I don't eat right. Like bad jokes about Paris Hilton. Wait... uh oh, it's already begun! :-) Better go have my breakfast. Praise God for the new day!


Friday, January 30, 2009

Do Our Work Well - January 30, 2009

Good Friday morning! How many Super Bowl parties are going on this weekend? I haven't heard of any, perhaps there are not so many football fans around as I once thought. I am glad to see a multi-million dollar athlete give the glory to Jesus. Sorry Steeler fans, I'm cheering for Kurt! Small task to do prior to the Super Bowl though... gotta get on the tax filings. The W-2 has arrived, the starting gun has sounded. The annual duty of all tax-paying, and that should mean all, U.S. citizens is upon us. Anyhoo, what am I trying to do this morning? Depress everyone with thoughts of taxes on a fine Friday morning?

Last night I asked for one verse, just one good verse to send me to sleep. I received John 14:1; "Don't be troubled. You trust in God, now trust in Me." I then had to ask God: How do you do that? He said, "I know you." The perfect answer from our perfect God! We are often troubled by predestination. The belief that everything we do is predestined and therefore not our fault. Of course with that belief in hand, people step out into the world and do anything to please themselves. So how do we have the freedom to choose, and yet God knows what we are going to do? Easy, He created us. Our Creator knows what decision we will make at every fork in the road. He knows when we will go the wrong way, not following Jesus, and when we will go the right way and follow our Lord. At the end of our earthly life, He knows right where we will be, not because we are not free to choose, but because He created us. In the new Heaven and new Earth, the gazillions of individual pieces that He created will come together to form the most beautiful bride of Christ. We are intricately involved and important in the creation of God's masterpiece; let's do our work well!

Have a blessed weekend!


Thursday, January 29, 2009

God is in Control! - January 29, 2009

Good Thursday morning! It might seem that I am writing at about the same time, but to me it seems very late. I just got up this morning. :-) Waking to daylight does make a different kind of morning. One cat is commenting about my tardiness this morning, something about his food bowl I'm sure. Last night we got the word, Philippians will be our next Bible study. I like that book; this should be a good in-depth study of one of Paul's letters. Luke has expressed an interest in joining us on Wednesday nights. Everyone take a moment to pray that he will come to our meetings each Wednesday. Am I putting his feet to the fire by writing about him like this? Yes, I do believe that I am. :-) When you know of a good thing, you just want to share it!

Took a break to feed the cats and myself... and now am really late with this... with a cat in the way of the screen. Do we need a "down in front!" here? Does the world seem out of control to you? Personal problems stacked all around, workload at work stacked over your head and on all sides, you or a loved one may have an illness that you can't even pronounce, and then we have a government that you can't understand? Who is the Fed? Why do they need to pay banks to fail? Who is in charge here??? Yes, sometimes the news and our own situation can make the world seem very frightening to each of us. The best thing about all of this stuff that is out of our own control is in realizing that none of it is out of God's control. The world my laugh at us for believing in someone we cannot see or touch, but the key point is that we believe. The world and its powers may think that we are beaten down, but our Lord is sovereign. One humorous statement that Pastor Rogers often repeated is always good for a little perspective in times like this one: "the Holy Trinity never meets in emergency session." What seems to spin so quickly to us, is taken into account in God's great plan. Rest easy and enjoy the peace that Jesus gives to us!

God bless you on this sunny day!


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Getting Apocalyptic - January 28, 2009

Good Wednesday morning! Winter has reclaimed its time and will stay for a bit now. A new day of serving begins for those of us who love our Lord Jesus! I have complained about the use of words in this message before today, but one came to mind not so long ago. Apocalypse, when did that word become a word of dread and doom? We have read a devotional from Pastor Rogers that noted the Greek root of apocalypse means an unveiling, like an artist does when his or her work is completed. Revelation is written in apocalyptic style, meaning that Jesus unveils God's plan for the final days. The problem I think lies in the two sides, those who believe and those who do not. Think back to a time that you had not surrendered to Jesus, a time before you believed in the Good News, what did you think of the visions in Daniel, Ezekiel, Matthew, and Revelation when you first heard or read them? I recall that the visions of the end times struck terror into my mind.

Now the difference is great, more like John at the end of Revelation; "Amen, come Lord Jesus!" What a great day that will be when our Lord returns to take up His Kingdom! However, to the world the Apocalypse is a time of death and destruction. From this we get apocalyptic novels and movies where all or much of the world is destroyed. Usually the story is then told through a few survivors struggling in their own strength to start again. Sometimes, as in a Twilight Zone episode from back in the day, there is only one survivor. These stories are interesting as a kind of "what if?" exercise for our minds, but we know that end times will not be anything but what God has laid out. We take comfort from Revelation not from a wish to see anyone suffer, but from the knowledge that Jesus is in control of all things.

Thinking about an 'apocalyptic' type of story, as in the modern meaning of apocalypse, can you imagine the feelings and thoughts that must have gone through the minds of Noah and his family when they landed? Their first new babies must have been some welcome additions to the world! The Bible is full of amazing stories. Take some time to check them out today!


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Cold Cold Morning - January 27, 2009

Good Tuesday morning! Wow, winter has come back in a dramatic fashion! Cold this morning and it looks like we have clouds to block the sunlight too. Do you want to wake up this morning? Smack your thumb a good one on the metal edge of something. I did that yesterday morning and it does tend to clear any sleepy cobwebs from your mind in a hurry. I don't want to question God's handiwork, but does it seem like some areas of our bodies have way more pain receptors than are really necessary? :-)

I see another way in which the world would have us take a step in the wrong direction. Some arguments might seem a little petty; no doubt one could accuse me of that in this point. I read or heard an opinion about "believers in Christianity". Now this might seem at first to be correct, but I couldn't help but think that we do not believe in Christianity. As Christians we believe in Christ. The world would like to lump us in with believers in a religion. I like the change we see in our ministry from calling Christianity a religion to letting the world know that we have a relationship with Christ. I realize that some would accuse me of dwelling on semantics or technicalities of words, but to me the distinction is very important.

Ah, sunshine, that helps a lot, even if the effect is mostly visual at the moment. We see the sunrise and know that soon the air will be warmed by the sun. We see the Bible, and we know that soon the Son will arrive to bring us home. Praise God for the Son rising from the grave to save us all.


Monday, January 26, 2009

Self-satisfied? - January 26, 2009

Good Monday morning! We have more snow and a fine winter morning today. Some of you may not like it, but I do believe that this weather is more appropriate to January than what we had last week. Today I have an interesting question for us. Have you ever sat in a sermon or read a devotional and been thankful that the topic could not be applied to your self? Every time that happens to me, I am reminded of Paul's message in Romans... you know the one. "For all have sinned and fallen short of God's glorious standard." Yes, as a single person a message on divorce cannot be applied to me. Whoopie smack! I am still a sinner in need of salvation by faith through the grace of Jesus. We are all one body in Christ, if a brother or sister is convicted of past or present sins, then all of us can pray seeking forgiveness. Yes, we will face God individually, but one thing He might ask us on that great day is whether or not we reached out to remind a brother in Christ that he is forgiven, or if we walked out of the church self-satisfied that WE had never been guilty of THAT sin. Hmm, something to think about in that.

Speaking of self satisfaction; have you ever met your own standard for life? Only in isolated instances have I met my own standards and never in life as a whole. How then can we expect to be saved by meeting the standards of our perfect God when we cannot even meet our own? We have already found that we cannot. However, learning to be content with our situation also includes learning fully that God loves us as we are now. This does not stop us from striving to improve, but to stop that dreadful trashing of the self we often engage in. Remember to ask forgiveness often, but also remember that you and I are children of the King.

Have a beautiful Monday in Christ!


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Love and Jesus - January 24, 2009

Good Saturday morning! Outside is winter once more... cold, snow, gray sky; winter. This morning I want to write about love. Not the 'love' we see in the movies and television kind of love. The 'love' we see in commercials is no good either..."You'll LOVE McManny's new fourteen-pounder! More calories than you can count with a computer!" Sorry about that... probably shouldn't think about food so early in the day. :-) I fasted for lunch yesterday, not by choice but by accident. Sometimes when we seek to understand another person's pain, we ask them how their tooth is doing this week, as I did with Burt on Thursday night. The Lord is not without His humor in these things and to borrow a King James phrase, lo and behold, I broke a tooth on a bit of spare concrete in my Special K Friday morning. If you'll pardon the pun, I was given a taste of what Burt was feeling. We love the Lord, but we don't love pain.

So what do we seek when looking for the love of Jesus in our lives? First of all, the Christ-like and Christ centered love we seek is a choice, not an urge or a feeling. When we choose to believe in Jesus, we also choose to love Jesus. This love is a choice because some of the things our Lord tells us will not be pleasant to hear. Example: the Lord says that we shalt not commit adultery; the urging of the flesh immediately says 'rebel'. However, we do not commit adultery because we love the Lord and want to please Him. The lust of the flesh fights against the love of the Lord, and we have a choice. This is where Jesus sets us free; we can choose to hold tight to that love and not sin, or we can choose to sin, but we now have a choice. The love of the Lord has given us a choice. Love, how else to explain the fact that we have a choice? God knows what is best for us in all situations. Yet He does not force us in one direction or another, but allows us to choose. This is not to say there will not be consequences for us when choosing the wrong path!

Have a great weekend and share the love of Jesus today!


Friday, January 23, 2009

Share the Blessings - January 23, 2009

Good Friday morning! With the first three weeks of my winter training period coming to a close today, I find it possible to set some goals for my six month writing commitment. The important thing once more is not the amount, but the commitment. The Bible tells us to surrender daily our wills to God. I may call it re-commitment, others may call it refocusing, but in all that we do, God's great plan comes first.

One way in which I have been convicted as of late is self-centeredness or selfishness. How do we fulfill our God-given purpose in this life? One way is not looking too much at our own goals, problems, or accomplishments. We are to be genuinely interested in others and their lives. This is a skill that must be developed in some of us. Does it seem that others are nothing but a big ball of problems when you ask them how they are doing? Does your life seem that way when someone asks you the same question? :-) We do face many trials in this life and sharing them with another person can help us not only find solutions, but also to leave the burdens at the cross. During this time of recession in our economy, we can elect to not participate by sharing our blessings in place of problems. How have you been blessed today?

Let's see... today is Friday. Even in my new career I tend to work during the normal work week and do less work on the weekends. Friday still seems to be a milestone each week. I woke up this morning and found new ideas for writing in my brain. I had a rather strange dream involving fuel-air bombs in which no one died; perhaps a reminder of the power of God. We have a new president in office, homes to live in, food in the cupboard, and clothes to wear. Daily I am reminded that God sees to our every need. I could name more blessings by trying a bit harder. However, one blessing approaches even now, and I need to get my trash dumpster out to the street!

God bless you on this great day in the Lord!


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Perfect! - January 22, 2009

Good Thursday morning! Holding pattern? I do believe mine ended this past October. How is your life going today? Are you focusing on the problems or on our Lord Jesus? Focus has become a buzzword in business, but we need to buzz about it a bit more in our Christian life. With a time of problems upon us, we must focus on Jesus and not dwell on our problems. Returning our focus to Jesus brings the opportunities He has given each of us to mind. Your situation may not seem to be an opportunity, but we know that every time of trial is a time of teaching and growth in Jesus. Where will the journey take each of us today?

Last night we enjoyed another great Bible study. I like Malachi 3:6 which starts off with the great statement: "I am the Lord, and I do not change" For something to change, there must first be a need or opportunity to change. We know that God is perfect and therefore has neither the need nor the opportunity to change. Any change in God would make Him less than perfect and all of creation would then unravel. Do I have proof of this? No, I trust in a perfect God, but I am not perfect and do not know everything with proof. Part of the problem with absolute, satisfy-everyone, proof is that it is based on human intellect and logic, neither of which is God's wisdom. We are called instead to believe, and like Jesus said it would, that drives the world's intellectuals, to use a technical term, absolutely bonkers. :-) Proof? Look to the heavens at night, see that the universe works though we don't understand it. However, a person must first believe in order to see God's creation for what it is.

Praise God for the glory of a new day in Christ!


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A New Day - January 21, 2009

Good morning on the high plains of Nebraska! Let's see what to talk about today... hmmm. Oh yeah, we have a new president this morning. Okay, I don't think anyone missed the culmination of a lot of media coverage and other hoopla yesterday. We can drop the 'elect' and just say President Obama now. I am sure that President Bush feels a great relief this morning, a large load has been dropped on the next guy. Actually, that might not be the case for a while. When I left my old job, I prayed a lot for those who had to pick up the load that I left behind.

The country as a whole has looked forward to our new president. Seldom in my lifetime has an incoming president been greeted with such hope and, we must look at it, adulation. I am glad to hear the president speak about responsibility. We don't hear that enough from politicians, perhaps not even enough from some ministers and priests. I am reminded that many of the solutions we seek lie in coming to Christ first, and then taking up the plow. The Lord has put a new plow before me; time to grab the handles and heave. Each of us has responsibilities in this life, but we also have the strength of the Lord. You and I might feel weak and wobbly when staring at the road ahead, but the same verse comes to mind: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I pray that our new president remembers that Scripture and many others as he takes up his new responsibilities this morning.

What can we do to help each other today? Prayer is the first thing that comes to mind. In prayer I don't even have to know what exactly is causing any of you to have pain or grief this morning. We share our burdens through prayer, especially when the burden is too personal to share out loud with those you don't know very well. One burden we share together this morning is that of a new president. Many questions come to mind. What will he do about this or that? How will his actions and those of the new Congress affect me and my family? In all of this transition remember that God is still sovereign.

Have a wonderful new day in Christ Jesus!


Prayer Request
Pray for President Barack Obama as he takes office this morning. There is a lot of work for all of us during this tough time, but he has chosen to lead the country.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

First He Loved Us - January 20, 2009

Good Tuesday morning! Where will the journey to Christ take us today? I find it interesting that in reading Pastor Rogers' devotional today that not only has there never been anyone like Jesus, there never will be as well. Wait a minute, is not the point of our journey to become more like Jesus each day? Yes, that is true, but at the same time none of us will ever be Jesus. His is a singular place in all of history, creation, and in our hearts. While we do strive to be more like Him, and He in turn works in our lives to make us more in His own likeness, He alone died for our sins and He alone sits at God's right hand. However, this great being and person, God in human flesh, Savior. Lord, and Messiah, wants to be your friend. That still causes me to marvel at the love of God for us. With all of our imperfections, and we are so imperfect that we either see too few or too many when we look at ourselves, He still loved us enough to die for us on the cross. How can this be?

Looking for the answer with human wisdom will never work. Only by believing that God does love us enough to die for us does the answer come. God chose to love His own creations so much that He sent His Son to save us. In His great love, He chose to give us the free choice to love Him in return, and thus learn to love one another, or to reject Him for all eternity. Human intellect will never get this! All the answers sought in human thinking: loving one another, peace, joy, contentment, forgiveness, compassion, and other good qualities can only come through believing in Christ. In human reasoning, that statement seems absurd, unreasonable, and - here's the big one - intolerant. I had one of these classes just last year and I can hear what the intellectuals of the world would say even now. I stand in Christ, we will only find the peace, joy, and ability to love that we seek by coming to the author of those good things, Jesus Christ! We learn to love in Him who first loved us.

Have a wonderful and blessed Tuesday!

Your friend in Christ, Bucky

Monday, January 19, 2009

I Can! - January 19, 2009

Good Monday morning! The annual wild game feed is tonight at the church. Shouldn't it be a wild game eat? We are not there to feed any wild game, only to munch down on it. Ah well, one of the unanswered questions of life. :-) Believe it or don't, I invited someone to the gathering this evening. It will be my first time there as well. A couple of things come to mind in this. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Phil 4:13) a verse recently brought to mind by Tim Tebow, for those of you who follow college football. The second thing is that "I can", as in I can do great and wonderful things in Christ that I would not be able to do on my own. Both of these can be extended to careers, home, life, love, joy, peace, witnessing, and well... just about everything!

In every action that is according to the will of God, we say "I can!" and wonderful things begin to happen. I have found that in writing I must be careful what I think of. Do I believe that writing is in the will of God for me? Yes, for one reason. If I think of one of my characters, the ideas start flowing and this can be a distraction when I should be doing something else. In all of life there is a time for praying, a time for writing and so on. That last sentence is a paraphrase of ol' Solomon I think. Disciplined thinking can be difficult, my mind at least seems to be wired for free roaming. I cannot see what is in your mind so I won't try to comment on your own state of mental discipline. However, we know that discipline and disciple are related. We want to be disciples of Jesus, and so we must learn mental discipline. Like all difficult tasks we must learn, we come to the One and in Him we say "I can!"

Enjoy a wonderful day in our Savior!


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Saying the Right Thing - January 17, 2009

Good Saturday morning! Do you keep a file of past moments in your head? You know the ones. Those moments when you really cut loose with a stupid question or statement that didn't seem dumb at the time, but later made you writhe in mental agony. Yes, me too. I often wonder why those moments are so easy to recall, and then I remember that we have help with that. The Accuser does more than try to condemn us before God, as though that were not bad enough, he also whispers reminders of those little moments in our minds. Want to go comfort someone? That little whisper will remind you of the time... "Oh, you're no good at comforting, remember when you told Joe that awful joke after his father had just died?" The voice will forget to remind you that at the time you had no way of knowing that ol' Joe had suffered a death in the family, or that Joe might even have appreciated the attempt at levity during a dark time in his life. Of course, Joe may not have appreciated the attempt until 6 months later, but we do sometimes make the odd or inappropriate comment. The problem comes not with a "stupid" remark now and again, but in the remorse we feel time and time again.

If we need to seek reconciliation with another person, we must do so as soon as possible. However, I find that most of the memories whispered to me are long forgotten by the other persons involved. As we learn to think before we speak, the frequency of insensitive remarks drops way down. As we learn to listen in love, the Holy Spirit can stop us from blurting out those painful remarks. It is hard to blurt out something when you are listening to the other person's troubles with a loving heart. Why all this discussion of saying the right or wrong thing? I am making a trip this morning with a former co-worker; one I am growing closer to with the fact that we no longer work together. I want to allow the Holy Spirit to use me this morning to say the right thing(s). I am concerned that this old friend has all the confidence in the world in himself, and does not believe in Jesus. Pray for me in this if you will. It has already been impressed on my heart that listening is the key here.

Have a great and blessed weekend in Christ!


Friday, January 16, 2009

Public Servants at Play - January 16, 2009

Good Friday morning! For you working folks that will come as good news after a full week of working for your employer. For us self-employed folks, we just keep goin'! Did I say 'self-employed? I am only employed by myself in the way that ministers and missionaries are self-employed; we are God-employed! If you feel in any way excluded by that, don't be. All of us who come to believe in Jesus are God-employed, even if working for a company here on Earth. There is but One that all must answer to in the end and He pays his workers daily. If you can't think of a blessing you received yesterday, then you're not trying! :-)

The Inauguration events begin this weekend. Many folks are looking forward to this one, but many are also concerned about our incoming President of the United States. Will there be true checks and balances when one party holds a majority in the Senate, House of Representatives, and the main office of the Executive Branch? Will more get done? I think all of us would like to see more accomplished by Congress, but we must watch that wishing. The accomplishments might not be those we would prefer.

Many more questions are waiting for our new President. How many will he answer and how quickly? We don't know these things yet, but one thing we do know, it will be interesting to watch. Another thing we know, productivity in Washington D.C. is probably out the window this coming week. Ah, well, this doesn't happen very often and even our public servants, if any remember that they are public servants, deserve an occasional party too.

We may question and criticize our government, but God's plan is moving forward in all we do. Let us pray for our new congress and president as they take office.

God bless you this weekend!


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Go to the Word! - January 15, 2009

Good Thursday morning! Another interesting Bible study last night. Isn't it great to gather together in the Lord's name? Zechariah is an interesting book in the Old Testament and also one of those that may raise more questions than it answers. God never promised that we would understand all of His word right away. One wonderful thing about the Bible is that we can go back to it over and over, never failing to discover new inspiration, truth, and wonder in God's holy word.

Have you ever asked God for an answer to something troubling you and been directed to open His word at random? I have, and sometimes the page or verse seems to contain nothing that would present any kind of solution to my immediate problem. Later, much later really, I realize that the answer is there, not in the words themselves, but in the Word himself. Often the answer to the problem lies in simply getting my mind off of the whirlwind of catastrophic possibilities, and in getting my mind on the Almighty One. All of the Bible is God's love letter to us. Often we fail to remember to let go and let God in the times that we most need to do just that.

Need more fear inducement? Here's a new one for you, or perhaps one or more of you have already run into this. It would seem that I cannot get health insurance, at least not through the normal channels. My medical history haunts me in more ways than just the physical pain and discomfort I endure each day. What to tell the world? I'll just let them know that I am God-insured. That shouldn't be a surprise to anyone, all of us are God-insured first and foremost. There is a state program for folks like me as well, and I will check into that, but real safety and security come from God alone.

If each of us looks at our own problems, we have every reason to be afraid. However, we are told to look at our Lord Jesus. No fears, no worries, mate!


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Restoration - January 14, 2009

Good Wednesday morning! We may yet get our first snow of 2009 tonight. Last night I was reminded by the Holy Spirit of God's perfect timing. I know from your e-mails that you have been reminded of this also. However, Jesus also told us to continually bring our requests to God in prayer. Sometimes God may want to see if we are serious about our requests.

I am getting a message of restoration this morning, both in Pastor Rogers' devotional and in my Bible reading. I read the story of David and Bathsheba this morning. The story of David's sin is amazing in that he plotted and stole to get something he wanted, instead of taking the request to the Lord, and then did not repent until confronted by the prophet Nathan. No modern story shows sin as terrible as David's and yet he was called by God, "a man after my own heart." Later in the story we see how David repented, but the child conceived in that union still died. The story does not end as sadly as it began. The Lord restored the love of David and Bathsheba. Later their son, Solomon, would become Israel's greatest king of the Old Testament. Another King will come that will far eclipse Solomon, but that is a story still to come. :-) We can say that Solomon was pretty awesome though. God loves to restore us! Pastor Rogers used the story of Peter's denial of Christ to illustrate restoration in this life. We too can experience that restoration by repenting of our sinful habits and falling before the cross.

David committed adultery and then plotted the murder of the woman's husband. Peter denied Jesus three times; Thomas doubted; Paul had moments of weakness; and even Jesus grieved over what he had to do. All of these men were restored! Jesus rose from the grave to prove our great hope, and later ascended to Heaven. How much easier is it for the Lord to restore us? I don't take this to mean that I will be going back to 'you know where', but that there are great things on the horizon for each of us in Christ. Let God's message of restoration stomp on those old doubts and worries!

Praise the name of our Lord Jesus!


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

What Good? - January 13, 2009

Good Tuesday morning! Job stress causes sin! No, that was excuse someone gave for stealing a lot of money as reported in my morning paper. Apparently the alleged crook gave job stress as the reason for theft from the workplace. I can't help but wonder: wouldn't stealing from one's employer actually increase the job related stress one feels? Sin causes a person to go into some pretty convoluted reasoning. I have seen it in myself at times and I might go toward the fringe in saying that most believers have done the same in their lives. Part of the problem lies in committing the sin and then trying to figure out a good reason to use as an excuse.

Disguises: sin comes in many disguises, looking closely the Holy Spirit will point out the errors to us, but we must be ready to listen! How many times have you or I scolded ourselves after the fact? Yes, way too often. Learning: it would seem that each of us has a long journey ahead of us. Speaking of learning, yesterday I read a different point of view on a historical text we studied in college. Fetching the book from my library, I found that it was not a difference in the story itself, but in the introduction to the story that I was led astray. Once again the power of the written word is demonstrated. We must trust in Jesus to guard our hearts and minds at all times!

In a dream last night my dream-self volunteered my time to an authority figure. Nothing wrong with that except that the situation in the dream had dozens of people who could have done the same thing. My first thought upon awakening was that I should not give away the time granted me by the Lord in an irresponsible manner. While I'm not going to get down on myself for a dream that I have no control over, the use of the precious gift of our time is something important in this life.

What good can come from listening to the Lord today? The quick answer is... all of it! The Lord is ready to bless us with all of His goodness today. Have a wonderful day in Christ.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Reaching Up and Out - January 12, 2009

Good Monday morning! You may have noticed a no-show on the devotional yesterday. I went to church. Not as in watched my church programs on TV went to church, but as in physically went to the church building with many other believers in Christ. Learning is a process that does not stop in this lifetime, and I expect that learning will be a big part of our spending time with God in eternity. One thing that has come up in my life is the difference between the upright arm of the cross and the crossing arm that makes the cross. The symbolism of the two pieces of wood is used in regard to our Christian life. In the upward pointing arm, the Christian reaches to God in prayer and faith. God responds as He values all relationships with those who seek Him, and this creates the vertical pathway. The other arm is horizontal to show our reaching out to each other. Those of us who by our nature do not seek out as much human contact as others have an easier time with seeking the vertical pathway, but God gives us two pathways. Both are equally important. I base the equality on Jesus' own words:

Jesus replied, "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments." (Matt 22:37-40)
The lesson is that all of us must reach out as well as up. This lesson speaks to me as someone who now works at home, Most of the week goes by with little or no human contact. With the Bible study groups off for the holidays, things got a bit too much toward the alone with God side of my worship. Not that getting alone with God is a bad thing, but isn't it fun to share time with God and another person in Christian fellowship? After a few weeks of this, I came to realize that I missed not seeing folks. Of course, a television church provides no human contact. A message from God can come through televised or recorded services, and many have, but something is missing from that kind of worship. Yes, I found the missing part yesterday. Simple things like shaking hands, saying "God bless you!" and even a cheerful greeting are how we reach out and support each other. A quiet talk with a brother in Christ, or tea with a group of Christians, Bible study groups, and many more ways are provided by God to reach out to each other.

Let us (me) not forget to reach out while looking to Christ. Have a great week in Christ!


Saturday, January 10, 2009

A Mighty Friend - January 10, 2009

Good Saturday morning! Coming out of Walmart this morning, I thought that the same temperature in October would probably seem unbearable. However, by now we have become accustomed to the winter temps and this morning didn't feel so bad. We have an inbred ability to adjust to situations, some might even be on the extreme side (like using 'inbred' instead of 'innate', oops!) I can recall feeling fairly comfortable at times inside the walls of my cell at the big C; now I wonder how I ever made it as long as I did. The first week of my re-commitment to Christ has gone very well. I do believe that I wrote and studied more this week than I did in the previous month. The writing and research made me not a dime. I find the situation of sowing words in the hope of a future crop when the books are completed to be a strange state of affairs as compared to my previous twenty or so years of working. Should I be worried about tomorrow? No, Jesus says the worries of today are enough for this day. However, this requires me to learn some new mental discipline. The worries are out there, much like an encompassing herd of bison that very badly wants to trample me. This herd has a plotting master behind it and he sends individuals and groups of worries charging at me from time to time. My only defense is to keep my mind on Jesus and off the worries. Trust in God!

This morning I woke up with yet another good idea to write down, at 0400 this time. I read a line yesterday that had to do with the Pilgrim or Puritan settlers back in the day. They found that as long as their lives were centered on Christ, their physical location did not matter. This struck me with one of those peculiar mind blows that make a person's mental knees quiver. One of the charging worries that hit me from time to time is the temptation to throw up my hands and move somewhere. Never mind that moving is expensive and would provide a good three or four month interruption to my efforts at writing; the thundering herd is restless. You might be wanting to remind me here that some power might be trying to stop me through these temptations... noted!

The time to load the tax software has arrived; that's the easy part. The hard part is going through the paperwork to dig up receipts for this and that. Does this sound a bit like whining? Yes, it does and the task is not so difficult after all. At times I tend toward thinking that an unspoken complaint is less offensive than a spoken one. However, one tends to forget that God is always present in our innermost thoughts. Complain to Him, cry, moan, and offload on our might friend! He will show us the way to have joy and peace in Him. God will give you strength to get through the tough times. To borrow from Martin Luther just a bit... What a mighty friend is our God!

Have a wonderful Saturday in Christ Jesus!


Friday, January 09, 2009

Center on Christ - January 9, 2009

Good Friday morning! Today I saw an article on preparing to live in a depression. While the suggestions are good, we might want to prepare for life in Christ first. Think of what Jesus told us; "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness and all these things will be added unto you." Too often we seek first to take care of ourselves, preparing for any eventuality we can imagine. Any of the possible outcomes may happen, but all or none of them may actually occur. One thing we do know will happen, the judgement of God. So which makes more sense to prepare for? The Good News is that preparing for a life in Christ starts simply with believing in Him. Preparing for the world's calamities takes a lot of time, effort, and expense. Preparing for life in Christ is much easier, we simply give up our own life. That may not seem so simple, but look at your life and the world. Between myself and the world, I have proven that a life can be mucked up pretty thoroughly by the world's standards. Like you, this is not to say that I am all bad on my own. Therein lies the real danger! A life of human goodness cannot save a person. Giving up my life to Jesus seems like a no-brainer now, but I recall how difficult the road has been, and the process is still a daily trial. However, once a life is given up for and to Jesus, the preparation for a life in Christ is underway and the Holy Spirit will not let any of us go.

The trials of the world seem especially acute during this time, but God has not changed and is not away on vacation. Every day we must rise up and re-commit to the Lord and place our trust in Him alone. Do you sometimes feel like Job? If you are sitting in a house or apartment, driving a car and looking at a family each day, then you and I know that we are a long way from Job's situation. However, even if we do get to the point where, like Job, we are sitting in ashes and wearing a bag while our remaining friends try to browbeat us into confessing sin we didn't commit, God is still the same and still loves us to the point of dying on the cross for us. Let Job be Job, concentrate on our saving, blessing, and wonderful Lord Jesus. The storm is raging without, let your life be centered on Christ.


Thursday, January 08, 2009

Don't Hate Your Self - January 8, 2009

Thursday morning, and we are ready to walk with the Lord on this new day! Each day we arise and re-commit ourselves to the Lord's work and to follow Him on the pathway He leads us on. That resolution to walk closer with the Lord, to get to know Him better each day, has been a long time in sinking in with me. Many of us have a tendency to rest on salvation. We are saved and once the celebration dies down, we kick back and get up each morning asking the Lord, "what's happenin' mate?"; meaning that we are ready to sit back and let the Lord do everything. One problem with that: the Lord has a plan that involves each of us doing the work we are assigned in building His kingdom. I am grateful that the Lord has a part for me, but I have also been slack at times when there is work to be done.

Another fault, that old self criticism bothers me at times too. While we do need to get going on the Lord's work, we must remember that He loves each of us and created us specifically for His purpose. When it is time to get to work, get to it, but let us each resolve to stay away from that harsh self criticism the world trains us to apply. Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors as we love our selves. Many of us find it easier to love others, we think, but can we really love someone else or even our Creator when we hate our very self? Probably not, this year let us each resolve to love the beloved creation of God, the person created to fulfill His purpose in your own life and my own life, you and me!

Trust in Jesus when the world caves in (a nod to Switchfoot for that one!)


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Turn to God, First - January 7, 2009

Good Wednesday morning! The light of Jesus shines on you and me on this day. I began reading a couple of books about God's plan for America in the times of the European migrations. We often tend to think that tough people got through the tough times to build this nation. In a way they did, but that way was not what most of us were taught. The way those people sought when times became hostile was of course, the Way. The authors found that when people turned to Jesus, or in many cases turned back to Jesus, the nation prospered and grew. As we read daily of more bad news in the economy, I cannot help but think that there are two ways our nation can go. The nation can continue to believe in the things of this world and eventually become another failed empire in the history books, or we can repent as a nation, turn to God and return to growth and prosperity. The view might seem simplistic to the intellectuals of the world, but history does tell this story. As for me, I am waiting to see the revival start! God has a plan for America and each of us has a part to play in it.

One way to get this revival going is an outpouring of our own spiritual gifts. Speaking, preaching, serving, giving, writing... whatever your gift the time has come to go forth. The country needs us to point the way to the Way. The time has come for another Great Awakening in our history!

Since I am in a historical motif today, does it seem like companies are no longer willing to weather the storm? Back in the day it seemed like tough times were storms to be weathered. Companies battened the hatches and took in the sails so to speak. Jettisoning the cargo was only a last resort. However, today it seems that at the first sign of a storm the modern corporation starts jettisoning the crew. The cargo is saved to outfit the corporate officer's lifeboats. Perhaps I don't have enough evidence to make this observation, but we are not seeing the loyalty to employees that we once expected in corporate America. I have heard more than once from those most recently hired expecting to be laid off first, but it is the long term, loyal employees of many years service who are being laid off first. Of course, laid off is the wrong term as that is for those who might get called back. Today, the term position elimination is more common and means that the company doesn't want you back, not even when the economy gets better. Sad...

In the prayer requests you will see why I am on this soapbox one more time. When something bad happens to me, I tend to go through other emotions before arriving at the anger part. When the bad thing happens to someone else, it seems easier and faster to arrive at anger. However, we know that in either case, our first need is to turn to God for comfort and understanding. We may never understand why some things happen to us or our loved ones, but trust in God is something we must commit to daily.

Jesus is precious to me. His love will lead me through the dark times.


Monday, January 05, 2009

Lead Me, Lord Jesus! - January 5, 2009

Good Monday morning! What hole in your self cannot be filled? As we wind down from the holiday season, I wondered how many people have come to the realization that no matter how many gifts they receive, and no matter how many they might buy for themselves, that hole will never be filled with material goods. We have seen it in our own lives and in the published lives of others. Who is truly happy, the billionaire or the one who is content with what he has? The after Christmas let down is often a good time to wonder at our covetousness and greed in this world.

At which time... I suddenly wondered; what after Christmas let down? We are ready to start new things, to live more of the life in Christ! Who said we have to endure some kind of post-Christmas blues? One of the dreadful things about the first Monday after the holidays was the realization that I would be going back to a job that gave me a feeling of dread after being off for two weeks. Perhaps only now am I coming to realize what God has released me from. I am ready for the Lord to fill me with ideas and possibilities today!

How are you today? If going back to work fills you with gloom and doom on each Monday, we can pray for you. We are not placed on the earth to have fun all the time, but our job should not fill us with feelings of fear and dread. Whatever the place we find ourselves in, God can lead us to the still waters. Each of us has a unique situation. God knows each of us better than we know ourselves; let Him lead you in your life. Where are you lead to go? Don't worry if you don't discover this in one blinding flash of insight. I am discovering more each day as I learn to listen and obey. Praise the Lord for His glorious leadership each day!


Sunday, January 04, 2009

The Comforter - January 4, 2009

Good morning on the first Sunday of 2009! This year many prayer needs come to mind. Some are predicting more job losses, others find time to predict dire events of a different type. What should we tell people in need of comfort? Tell them who works to comfort each of us! Jesus sent the Comforter, God's Holy Spirit, to us when He ascended to Heaven. The world needs the Comforter, that is why Jesus used that name for the Sevenfold Spirit. This year may be as dire as some predict, but it doesn't have to be. You and I may be called to give comfort through the leading of the Holy Spirit at any time. When times are peaceful and prosperous many in the world have issues with hearing the call to repent. You and I probably went through periods like that; the people in the world are much the same. However, in a time when wars, terrorism, crushing debt, and now a global recession cause many to question everything, who will many turn to in their search for comfort? Yes, sir! The very churches and Christ-ones they may have ignored or even scorned in the good times. We must be ready to listen and comfort people in these difficult times. I think it very possible, even likely, that the Lord has prepared a great revival for America starting with the tough times we see all around us. I can tell you that it is no joke that people seek the Lord from a foxhole in combat. Our neighbors and friends face a financial war right now and many will seek the Lord. Let us be there to show them the Way!

Have a great year in Christ Jesus!


Saturday, January 03, 2009

My New Best Friend - January 3, 2009

Good Saturday morning! Yesterday some of your New Year's resolutions met with cold reality in that you had to return to work; this will happen on Monday for many other folks. As for me, I took my trip yesterday, went all the way to Kimball too! The trip wasn't about a destination, that town just happened to be where I stopped and drove around. I bought a copy of the Western Nebraska Observer, the town weekly newspaper, and then drove back home. What was this driveabout, so to speak, all about? The future, as in, my future. The question of whether I will give writing an honest effort, which has only happened on a couple of days so far, or whether I will go back to work for an organization or corporation. Today I am thinking of all of my own New Year's resolutions over the past few years; one and all beaten down by the pressures and duties of my former job.

Sometimes when we face life decisions a fork in the road appears before us. Which way to go? The guidance of the Holy Spirit may seem muted or not present. However, not too long ago, I remember studying the choice that Esther faced in her life. Mordecai advised her that what God wanted did not have to be done by her, she could choose to let it all pass by her. However, by not following God's will for her life, she would miss out on all the blessings that God had in store for her. A similar choice comes before me. You might have thought that I had already made that decision, but it seems that I must reconfirm and re-commit myself to this course. Yesterday, the thought came from somewhere outside of myself that I should commit to six months of honest effort in this endeavor.

The idea is not something ridiculous like 0500 to 2300 each day for all 180 days, but rather six months of effort like a person would give to a full-time job. That does not seem too much to ask of myself. None of us should be surprised that a dream might require some honest hard work, and I am not. Perhaps some of you (y'all for those down south) need to take a walk or drive to think with God about the direction of your life. One of the things that has come up, and is helping me during this time, is to learn that God wants to be a friend, a best friend. I am not speaking of the next life, but this one. God wants to hear from you and me all day, every day! Bounce your ideas off of Him; listen for His replies, and above all learn to trust in His divine providence! This is hard to learn, but is all the more important for us to do.

Praise God for the New Year!


Friday, January 02, 2009

Destiny and Now - January 2, 2009

Good Friday morning! The holidays or holiday season will soon be in the past. I say "soon" only in light of this upcoming weekend which many will consider a part of the holiday season. With a holiday on a Thursday, I suspect many will take Friday off work. Today, I am going to go somewhere, I don't know where, but somewhere out of town to get away.

The new year is upon us. Where will we go is an interesting question, but even more so is where we will end up on December 31 of 2009. Will the economic outlook be better at that time? Have we hit bottom in all the economic indicators and will be able to live through the upcoming better news? I don't know, but I live in Christ and that means I look forward to good news! We're not talking about winning the lottery "good" news, but the kind of good news that comes from working hard to improve the situation and seeing the rewards of that work. Yes, winning the lottery could be called good news for one person, but how would that help the overall situation? I am sure that any of us is willing to try out the answer to that, but I suspect that good old fashioned hard work will be a much more likely scenario for us. :-) Sorry to have to say that!

This weekend I am going to make a decision, several actually, and then write them down for God to approve or disapprove. That is different than my many former New Year's resolutions in that I am going to make a contract if you will with God. The road less traveled or the one that seems more secure? Which way will God have me to go to fulfill His purpose for my life? High hopes and aspirations? Perhaps, but for now I am off to gather the trash for garbage day... a gentle reminder of responsibilities in the now. :-)

Have a great Friday in Jesus!


Thursday, January 01, 2009

A Joyous New Year! - January 1, 2009

Joyous New Year! We wake up to find 2009 on our doorstep and banging to get in. Last night I tried to stay up to see the New Year in, but didn't quite make it. A concert ended at 2322, and that is the latest I have stayed up for some years, ten or more anyway. I was close after getting ready for bed, but I ended the year with a few verses in John and some prayer. Laying my head in hand, propped up on my side to read, I awaited the stroke of midnight just 20 minutes away; I then woke up in exactly the same position, but the clock said 0025. So close and then missed it again. :-) Somehow the old mind and body just couldn't stay awake through midnight.

This morning it seemed good to start off a new year with the Newsboys and "Devotion"... and then to write the devotional! A good start can make for a good journey as we begin this new year. Today and tomorrow will be days of prayer and goal setting. What direction does God want me to go this year? What should I do day by day to support the building of God's kingdom on this earth?

Resolutions, goals, reflections... always a new year begins with looking forward and looking back. The changing of the calendars seems to be a good time to take stock of where we are and where we are going. I like looking at where I have been too, and I imagine many others do as well. This year a new president will take office in the United States; what will his team do for us? This year we could see Jesus' return. Whatever happens, we will probably not be in exactly the same place at the end of 2009. The year opens with many worries for all of us. Job security is out the window, retirement funds have suffered great loss, and the overall security of the world is open to question at all times. One thing is known, the Holy Trinity didn't meet in emergency session at the start of 2009. No, the plan God has for this world continues toward its successful conclusion, just as He promised through the prophets so long ago.

My vision for this new year? I will ask God about that today and listen for what He says to me.

Have a great New Year in Christ Jesus!