Saturday, February 28, 2009

Seek First - February 28, 2009

Good Saturday morning! The covering of snow looks wonderful in the bright morning sun. A great good morning to all! A man I used to work with out at the Sidney distribution center, Leo Noble, turns 70 years old on this day. The reason I remember his birthday is that he was born on the same day as someone else... which makes my mom 39 years old today! Yes, you might ask how my mother could be 6 years younger than I am, but that is the medical mystery of maternal aging. :-) Ours is not to question why, but to stop counting birthdays when we are told. I realize that some of you might remember the Barr papers. Those are the short stories I wrote about the birthdays of one Sharon Barr some years ago. In those I made comparisons to Sharon's birth and the Jurassic period and other age related jokes, or smart remarks depending upon one's point of view. Today I won't do that to my dear mother. With all of those decades behind her, she deserves a break. :-) God loves you Mom and so do I!

Speaking of the passing of time, at what age do you think we will stop feeling like a little kid lost in a big world? I don't mean physically, we all feel the effect of the years in our bodies. But mentally, how well do you understand the world and all the people in it? I'm forty-something and I don't even understand my cats all the time, let alone all the people and problems of the world. I wonder of Methuselah had that problem? Do you suppose he knew everything he needed to know by the time he made it to 400 years old? 500? Probably not. We tend to hope that when we reach a certain age or condition we will then have it made in this life. Perhaps a doctorate degree will make us knowledgeable about life, but then we hear someone with a Ph.D behind their name spout off about something and prove that wrong. So maybe it's two doctorates that will fix us up just fine, but then what if that isn't enough? Money, that's the answer; we need lots of loot and then we will be set. No? Then a depression or recession or succession or revolution or some other "...tion" rolls in and suddenly money is no security. Some might say that if you have your health then you have everything. We pray for our health and enjoy good health when we have it, but is that really the answer to all the ills in this world? How does my health help someone else? Today the devotional from Love Worth Finding shows the answer to all of these questions. Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness!

God bless you on this fine Saturday morning!


Friday, February 27, 2009

Foul! - February 27, 2009

Good Friday morning! Does anyone want to stand up and take one for the team? Apparently not. I read about the troubles some NFL teams have over getting players in under the salary cap. How does one manage to get so many multi-millionaires on the team with that dratted salary cap? The good news for them is that the cap expires next year. Woohoo! Free to spend the lot! By the way, these same teams are laying off folks who earn closer to what you make so that the team can "make ends meet" in this tough economy. Am I the only one who cannot make sense of that? Perhaps we should give that some thought before watching those sports events on television or buying tickets to those games? Just a thought to start the weekend, and don't think that football is the only professional sport doing that. Give me some good news; has anyone heard of a group of professional athletes, coaches, or owners giving up some of their loot to save jobs at their organization?

Better news for you and me! Jesus is Lord. We may have righteous anger over things that happen in this world, but Jesus rose from the dead and lives to save us! How great is that? We live in a world stained by sin, and every day the stain seems to become more apparent. However, we know the final result... Jesus wins! When I feel the unfairness in this world deep in my emotional guts, I remember how unfair it was that Jesus suffered a criminal's death for my sins and your sins. We can live with Jesus because He loved us enough to submit to something very unfair. Yes, the world has some real problems, but the world can also turn to a real savior in Jesus Christ!

Have a wonderful weekend in Christ!


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Nautical Difficulties - February 26, 2009

Good Thursday morning! I have been in the doldrums so to speak for the past couple of weeks. However, that is passing, the wind is returning to my sails and the ship is moving on! Have you ever given in to despairing thoughts? I suspect all of us at one time or more have given too much credit to our own understanding; exactly the thing that God told us not to do! We look at the economy or the news about the economy and make some prediction based on our own fears and worries, one more thing God told us not to do. We might also listen to the whispers of the Accuser; another thing we have been told not to do. How do we find ourselves in these predicaments so often? Simple, instead of looking to our Captain and His Word, we look at the storm off to the side of our ship or we look at the storm inside our minds.

When a ship is at sea, especially back in the days before radio and satellites, a storm might appear over the ocean. That storm might look huge, dangerous, and threatening, but it might also pass off to one side. The storms will come, but that doesn't mean they will strike us. Jesus might steer our ship away from the storm, or he might meet it head on. However, in either case He is the captain and that means He is responsible for getting us to our destination. I like the metaphor of the sailor and ship in speaking of our Christian life and, as you can read today, Pastor Rogers did too. We are not adrift in this voyage, even though it might seem so at times. I felt adrift for a period, but that was a period of rest and waiting on the Lord. The ideas for writing have returned and the stories are coming together. Praise God and to God be the glory!

Lately, I have started reading a biography of Adolf Hitler. Not to worry, the man is not a hero of mine by any stretch of the imagination. What I wondered is how someone who seems so evil to us now, could gain so much power and be a hero to so many people in that time. We like to think that such a ruler could not rise again in this day of information and "smart" people. We are wrong. The Bible points to the rise of a person who will be much worse. So how did this particular leader get started? The first thing the author points out is that his father, Alois, changed the family name from Schicklgruber, which, the author notes, would not have quite the same ring as Hitler. It would have been difficult for anyone to come to power with the cronies yelling "Hail Schicklgruber!" Imagine trying to become a charismatic new leader when your audience is doubled over in laughter.

Historical amusement to start the day! God bless you!


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

It's Coming! - February 25, 2009

Good Wednesday morning! We are enjoying a few days of spring-like weather, but it seems that it will be over tonight. This is the time of year that I think most of us are looking forward to a change from the cold of winter. The dark months are passing away once more and we can soon wake up to the sun and enjoy some daylight in the evenings too. Every year we are given a living example of a new beginning. I always enjoy the arrival of winter, but it seems to go on just a bit too long and the winter depression gets to me. I have asked around and found some friends that feel the same thing. We are creatures of the light, and the long winters can be a real depressor for us. One thing we do know, the light is coming. Of course I speak of the arrival of Jesus, but also the arrival of spring. Is it any wonder we celebrate Jesus rising from the dead in the springtime?

Last night, or I suppose all of yesterday, was Mardi Gras, and today is Ash Wednesday. If you celebrate or observe Lent, then today begins a period of abstinence culminating in Easter. I may not have that exactly right because I do not participate. I am always glad to see it arrive though because it means that spring is near, the days are getting longer, and most importantly, Easter will soon arrive. The great celebration of our Lord's death and resurrection will soon be here!

Signs that the next Great Awakening will soon arrive are in the air, and it isn't just from the arrival of spring! The news is anecdotal right now, but I am sure that is how the first great revival in America started. I believe this nation will soon turn back to God in a big way. Don't just watch, jump in with both feet and enjoy the ride!

May God bless this nation,


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Explorin' in Nuttin' at All - February 24, 2009

Good Tuesday morning! Are you ready to explore? This morning I thought of someone who believes in the human intellect. That person may not want to believe in God because they are afraid to acknowledge an eternal condemnation if they do not. You might call it the intellectual equivalent of the old "I'll ignore it and it won't exist" kind of belief. To the person who doesn't believe, death is either the end of this life and there is nothing else, or it is the next great adventure. So what is the problem with embarking on the next "great adventure"? Would you take off exploring a wilderness area in your birthday suit?

Christopher Columbus outfitted a voyage of 3 ships, scores of men, as much food as the ships could carry, and a firm faith in God with much prayer. Columbus led his small fleet out into something not entirely unknown, but enough was not known that he needed all of his faith in God to make it to the New World. His faith in God is ignored or discounted in these days of "tolerance", but his diary tells a tale of fear, faith, and falling away from God in the harsh light of success and celebrity.

The first astronauts did not strap themselves into giant slingshots, but endured years of training, were backed up by hundreds of scientists and researchers, and even waited for data from experimental and test flights before embarking on a voyage to the moon. The cost of the space program was and still is beyond our grasp in terms of sheer dollar volume. The tales of their faith in God also make for interesting stories, and again the world would rather ignore those stories.

So why would someone think that embarking on an exploration of what comes after this life is going to be possible with nothing whatsoever in hand? Wouldn't it be much easier to learn from someone who has been there and returned? In answer to that question, which might seem obvious, many will seek out the occult, but we know of a better answer. Spread the good news that Jesus died and returned from death to bring us everlasting life! We need a guide, a report, information and data, something to help us understand what is "out there". Flinging yourself into the afterlife with no faith and no hope is just plain foolish, and very frightening. People are intending to do just that; we must give them some good news first. Jesus already knows what comes next. He very much wants to welcome all of us into His eternal kingdom.

Prepare the way for our Lord!


Monday, February 23, 2009

Gripping too Tightly - February 23, 2009

Good Monday morning! What do you and I entrust to Jesus this morning? If you started with a list, as I did today, you might want to rethink that. We must entrust everything to Jesus. Those things we can do something about and the things we can do little or nothing about; the work we will do today, our family and friends, our homes and cars, our material and monetary possessions, and all of our cares and worries; all belong to Jesus. If you are having trouble dropping some problems at the cross, all that I can say is "me too." We tend to cling to things that we should not!

Have you ever heard what the most common problem is with inexperienced rock climbers? I heard this once back in the day and it surprised me at first. The beginning climber's tendency is to grip the rocks too tightly. This wears out their hands too soon and they cannot climb or worse. This seems to be the problem we have as we climb that mountain to God. We grip too tightly to the things of this earth that we should be climbing over, ignoring the mighty hand of God supporting us! Thus comes the saying that our ministers and friends in Christ must repeat to us often: Let go and let God! :-)

Trust in Jesus today as you enjoy your work!


Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Saturday Thought or Two - February 21, 2009

Good Saturday morning! Tis a mite cold out today, but not anything we aren't used to. I still love my friends at Cabela's and a congrats to them today for a better than expected fourth quarter last year. The stock price went up more than 35% yesterday; good for them! That may seem like a strange attitude for someone laid off by that same organization last year, but that is just what Jesus calls us to do. Celebrate and sorrow with those we love, and forgive those who hurt us. Isn't it great to see someone succeed? I like it when one of you has a story of success in your lives, and I'm sure that you want me to succeed as well. Love enjoys the success of those we love!

I received comfort from a friend yesterday; that too is something we do in Christ. Years ago I thought that I could make it on my own. You may have gone through a period like this too. What do you remember most about that period? Probably not your total trust in God. How long did you go before returning to Christ? What did it take to get you to turn from that belief in your own abilities and strength? I suppose the question might be: how far will God go to get one of us back? One thing I like to do fairly often is to thank God for how long he waited and how far he went to bring me back to the fold. The patience of God is not something to take for granted, and I am glad that we all remember gratitude in our prayers!

Have a great weekend in Christ!


Friday, February 20, 2009

Don't Worry! - February 20, 2009

Good Friday morning! What in the world is happening today? These days it seems that it might be a lot easier to ask, "what isn't?" Everywhere we look events are in motion that might be signs of the end. I don't need to attempt to list them all; you can read any newspaper or listen to any newscast and get just a sampling of all that is going on these days. So what among all these things should we worry about? The national crises, our own problems, the challenges in the church, or maybe we should worry about all of the above? Jesus tells to worry about only the problems of today, and even those problems we must bring to Him. In all of this whirling storm of events and circumstances we must do one thing first. Jesus told us the way, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matt 6:33 KJV)

Sometimes a message comes several times in Bible studies and devotionals; this one has been coming to me recently. Seek ye first... This is one of those messages that we need to be reminded of from time to time. We tend to get caught up in the events whirling around and inside of us forgetting that we are not to worry. Have you filed your tax forms yet? Did you think about the billions going to bail out banks? Don't worry about that! Yes, no one said not worrying would be easy. :-)

Trust in Jesus on this fine Friday!


Thursday, February 19, 2009

No Super? - February 19, 2009

Good Thursday morning! Do you feel super today? Perhaps a dozen reasons or causes not to feel super just came into your mind; they did for me. No we are not physically perfect, not even super-human. However, did you ever wonder about all the supers in this world? We can supersede something, we have Superman, Supergirl, Superdog; people are described as super at some talent or skill, and we can even make a living as supervisors. No place in the Bible do you hear of, pardon the term, Super-God. The term itself is not possible. You can say it, I can write it, but the term means nothing, because nothing is above God. We might yearn for a super-man to rescue us in a time of trouble, but Jesus says; "Don't be troubled; you trust in God, now trust in Me." We might wonder why the comics had a Supergirl and not a Superwoman, too many syllables for the comic book set perhaps, but we don't have to wonder why there is not super-something above God; there is no need and it is not possible!

Reading about the Greek and Roman gods, one cannot help but be disappointed. That group has problems not unlike any modern soap opera, and let's not get into their respective limitations! The world has sought for super things and higher powers ever since it turned away from God. We have the comfort of knowing that God is supreme. Share the knowledge and share the comfort. One God and one Savior for this world; one God who wants a personal relationship with each of us.

Praise the name of Jesus!


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Wicked Heart - February 18, 2009

Good Wednesday morning! The snow is falling once more, but not like last week. We have just a dusting of snow on the ground. Have a wonderful day at work or school, they won't call it off for this little bit of snow! :-) I read in an article where a man thought that he would have accomplished something better had the authority in charge listened to reason. Isn't it always that? If 'they', or that other person, or a spouse would just "listen to reason", they would see that I am right. We see it in the media all the time. The one who disagrees cannot see reason, or they don't have an open mind, or they are not "right" thinking people or some other expression of disdain. We might be tempted to try winning an argument by disparaging the other person's intellect, but this isn't right. Yesterday we had a good discussion in our little service group. No one called the other person a name, no one belittled the other's reasoning ability, we simply agreed to research the issue in the Bible. That is what we strive for in Christ. We will not always agree on everything in Christ during this lifetime. We may not agree on everything in Heaven! However, we always love each other as Jesus commanded.

I notice that when the authorities won't "see reason" it usually involves the bending or breaking of a rule. I wonder how many of us have tried to excuse the breaking of one of God's commandments by saying that "God will see the reason" or something to that effect? I have heard expressions like "God knows my heart" used as an excuse for some sinful action, I might even have tried to use it myself at some point. However, the Bible tells us that no one needed to tell Jesus about human nature. That is true, and we are also reminded that the heart is desperately wicked in Jeremiah. Do we really want to use what is in our hearts as a reason to excuse a sin? Until Jesus finishes the work of making our hearts completely new, we will fight that old lust of the flesh. God does know what is in our hearts, and at the moment... it ain't always good.

Okay, it has been sitting out there, the Gentle Answer blog site that is, and I haven't started answering questions yet. Hold me accountable; let's get this started today. I look out and I see a cliff, but when I take that first step of faith, I'll bet that I will step onto a gentle incline leading to greater knowledge of our Lord Jesus.

God loves you, just as you are.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Not the Same - February 17, 2009

Good Tuesday morning! The Light of our Lord Jesus shines on us this day. I like the advice we give each other in the Holy Spirit! Do you notice that when we gather together the inspiration and insight does not come from just one person? Of course we look to our pastors to give us this, but I have noticed that over time this has been changed to a less passive experience as I have grown in the faith. Some of us may learn to listen more, and others learn to speak out more, but all of us come together to learn from the Holy Spirit. That is not to say that all of us become the same, but rather that all of us become more like Jesus while not losing our individuality. God created each of us to be a special offering to Him. I don't think that He did that just to make us all the same!

Progress Report! I have found 3 times in Genesis where the Lord specifically says "Do not be afraid" I am keeping the search narrow at this time for there are certainly other assurances in Genesis such as "I will be with you" and prophecies of what will happen. I find it a lot of fun to look for something like that through the entire Bible.

God bless and keep you this day!


Monday, February 16, 2009

That First Time - February 16, 2009

Good Monday morning! A couple of weeks ago, we talked about the story of Paul's first missionary journey to Philippi and the slave girl who he freed from the demon. This is in Acts chapter 16 if I recall correctly. One of the points Pastor Doug made was that Jesus does not want demons to speak for him. As I pondered that passage once more, I had another thought. What if God allowed that young girl to be possessed simply for the purpose of proving to Paul that he could exorcise demons? Sometimes an irritation can be a gateway to a new road for us in our Christian growth. The Bible tells of Paul's exasperation at the constant proclamation from the demon until he finally turned and commanded it to be gone. We might wonder why Paul let it go on if it bothered him. The answer may lie in that dreaded "first time". How do you or I, or even the great Paul, know whether we can do something that is a gift of the Spirit? Sooner or later we come to a place where we must try it. This incident may have been Paul's first experience with a possessed person and he may not have known whether or not he would be able to do this. Of course, we are told that Jesus is able to do this and it is our faith in Him and not our own skills or understanding that matters. However, that still leaves that "first time" for all of us to face.

There is a strong possibility that God allowed the demon to only do the one action with Paul, that of loudly proclaiming: "These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved." The demon did this until Paul could take it no longer. Possibly the young slave girl's voice was very loud and piercing, from what we know of young girls, this could very well be true. The Holy Spirit might have been telling Paul "you can do this in my name" but Paul needed just enough irritation to cause him to forget the fear and lean on the faith. We may face similar issues and God may send an irritation to get us past our fear and into faith in Jesus. Thank you, Lord, for caring enough to give us everything we need to be more than conquerors!

Have a great President's Day in Christ Jesus!


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day - February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day! This day is a celebration of our valentines, those people who show up at our house each night looking for a meal, a place to stay, and even sleep with us in our beds... yikes! Yes, this day is the day we celebrate spouses. Some of you may have valentines who have not yet progressed to the point of living in your home, or you are like me and do not have a valentine at all... unless I can count my cats that is, but they sleep out on the couch, which can also happen with spouses if they forget Valentine's Day. Today we celebrate the love of Jesus in us. He gave us the command to love one another, and that does not leave out our valentines. This day is set aside to celebrate the romantic love of a man and a woman. Tonight gifts will be exchanged, a special meal served, and then... at least that's what I've heard from those who do this kind of thing. On a day when I am the outsider, all I can do is pray that y'all will enjoy this day with your spouse and lover.

Have a glorious and blessed Valentine's Day!


Friday, February 13, 2009

Snow Days! - February 13, 2009

Good Morning! What is the challenge today? Hmmm, typing around a cat is the first one the comes to mind. The second is... oh, yeah! We had a bit of wet snow last night. Wow, I'm still trying to recover from shoveling my driveway and sidewalk. My neighbor decided to finish his after work. I did my best to avoid reminding him that I don't have to go up there after shoveling. One benefit of working for God at home is that I can give myself a break after the snow shoveling! :-)

Reading another good story this morning, I am wondering if our childhood events are planned by God to give us good examples in our Christian witness. Of course they are! About the time that I say nothing surprises me about God's providence anymore, along will come something new and amazing that stops me in my proverbial tracks. The ways of God are beyond our understanding! No credit to me for saying that, the Bible stated it long ago. The credit is that as I grow in God, He provides the means for me to see and understand some of His marvelous ways.

I pray that you have a joyous and wonderful Friday!


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Praying in Love and Joy - February 12, 2009

Good Thursday morning! The signs of spring are appearing... that's exactly what I thought while out walking this morning... yeah, right! The temperature said quite firmly "winter". Today is still February and the cold outside confirms it. We cannot move the seasons or dates along any faster by wishing. Last night the Holy Spirit brought us new insights in our Bible study. One of which was that our prayers are often lists of needs... but not for ourselves this time. In various forums and times we have heard or read about our "list of needs or wants" prayers for our own self, but what about for others? Do we think that God doesn't know their needs too? Our weekly habit of exchanging prayer cards in our group helps with this. We only list our names and we pray for each other. We don't know what the other guy needs, and so we pray with a genuine love. The lesson continued with praying in joy and love for someone else, as Paul and Timothy did for the Philippians. I think we all had an eye opener and that happens when we invite the Holy Spirit to take part in the lesson. I too have been guilty of praying for others with only a list of their needs and wants. What about simply bringing another person before God in prayer without that old list? I like it! A good exercise in joy and love for each of us. A simple prayer of "I love this person and thank you Lord that he or she brings me joy!" Maybe you can't think of a person who brings you joy... not good! We had better look more closely or change an attitude or two if we cannot think of some way that our brothers and sisters in Christ bring us joy.

A cat is licking my typing fingers. A sign of affection or a sign of dirty hands? The world wonders...

God loves you on this fine day!


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Grateful Day - February 11, 2009

Good Wednesday morning! And I do mean good! I found a little card the other day, just a small thank you card from many years past. The interesting thing is that I do not want to throw this away. A little "thank you" goes a long way! We often forget gratitude in the rush of events that seems to be the norm in our daily schedules. As an outsider to that rush, I have been given the gift of a back seat view. Life has slowed down a bit from my point of view, but that just gives me more time to worry... if I don't keep my focus on Jesus. The act of sending a little "thank you" here and there may be one of those things lost to the rush. Thank you for taking the time to read this devotional! I know that some of you will read it after arriving at work, perhaps hoping to get a note of encouragement before the hectic schedule of the workday drives away all thought from your mind. Back in the day, not even 6 months ago back in the day that is, I liked to arrive at work early just to take a breath before the mob arrived and the phone calls and e-mails started flying. Well the phone calls and e-mails bother me no more! It's funny how the Lord can use a little illness to make us stop and appreciate where He has brought us to. This morning, we start a new day. How far has the Lord brought you and I this day? A nice thank you may be in order eh? :-)

Have a grateful day in the Lord!


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Focus on Jesus - February 10, 2009

Good Tuesday morning! Do you feel ordinary? Some people have been critical of ministers cheering us on, perhaps hoping that all ministries will reflect the doom and gloom in their own hearts. Today, feeling a little ill over the past few days, I felt a bit less than ordinary. We may put tremendous pressure on ourselves to accomplish great things. To me this is not letting your life die and living in Jesus. In Christ, we live as He would have us to live and He accomplishes great things through each of us. If I cling to the gloom in my mind from feeling a bit down, then that will be what I pass on to you through my writing. You don't need that to start the day, and I don't want to be one who does that kind of thing.

Of course the cure for that is to not focus on me and instead focus on Christ. A trial or problem in this world does not cause us to lose the salvation earned by Christ on the cross. We cannot be booted out of our heavenly inheritance because of what we suffer in this life. If we have good deeds shining in the treasure chest of our heavenly home these will not be tarnished by what happens here on earth. Jesus came to save the world and we are not less saved by how we might feel on a particular day. Jesus loves you and me. As Paul notes in Romans, nothing can change that fact and nothing can separate us from the love of Christ!

As the sun streams in the window of my house, I reflect on the first morning of the week, not this week, but the one where Jesus' body could not be found in a human tomb. The grave could not hold our Lord and the passing trials of this life will not hold His love back from us.

Have a joyful day in Christ!


Monday, February 09, 2009

Fast,Slow, Stop, Go! - February 9, 2009

Good Monday morning! While trying to be careful of the cat under the desk, I find that he has left the room. Do you find that events are just happening too fast for you? I wonder how we can ever think that one man or woman in any position, even president, can comprehend and react to all that is going on right now? The world looks for a savior, and one will be delivered too. Jesus warned us of this when he noted that one would come and the world would accept this person even though it rejected our Lord. The modern world is about speed and events can leave us feeling rather breathless. However, what is one thing the Lord often tells us? Wait!

We might feel that the world is out of control, but nothing is out of God's control and nothing happens too quickly for Him to take care of. As you arrive at work today, or prepare to sit down to work as I will do soon, let us reflect on the perfect timing of God. Events may seem to come at us not only out of the blue, but at high speed. Other things seem to take just short of forever. Our perception of time and events is not the same as God's point of view. We trust in Him because things are just too fast for you and I, except for when they are too slow. :-) Now that's funny! I wonder if Adam and Eve were tempted in the same way. First fooled by the serpent into thinking that "nothing ever happens here in the Garden" and then suddenly they were out in the world. Thorns grew, a cheetah blasted by them in pursuit of an antelope, it got cold and then hot, storms swept the land, bees buzzed by, birds darted this way and that... and they probably looked at each other and asked, "does it ever slow down?" The next day of course they looked at the tiny green plant that they hoped would one day produce fruit and said, "this is going to take forever!"

Fast, slow, stop, go... the world whirls around us, but God is in control. Have no fear, Jesus is near!


Sunday, February 08, 2009

Healing Laughter - February 8, 2009

Good Sunday morning! You get a devotional this morning while I worship at home. My tum-tum hurt much of the night and the writing might be a bit sleep-deprived this morning. A minister this morning has already told me that I don't laugh enough. He could be right, my physical hurts of the night and morning might be from worry. When we get together we should be serious about sin, but perhaps we don't need to remain serious all the time. The same goes for this devotional. I'm sorry, but I don't remember jokes well. That seems to be a gift that I do not have. However, that does not mean that I cannot write with humor. We do seem to have a quandary though: how does one laugh to feel better when it is the feeling bad that prevents the laughter in the first place? :-) Now that's funny!

After 9/11 the security at airports became a very serious business. An offhand joke at the security checkpoint might cause you to miss your flight or even end up in jail these days. Back in the day when I traveled a lot in my work, I purchased a black carry-on type bag with a lot of pockets. This bag even then virtually guaranteed a thorough check. One particularly flight out of the Milwaukee airport, I laid the "bomber" bag as we came to call it on the conveyor. This bag was wider than it was tall and I naturally plopped it on the line with the handles up. The screener stopped the conveyor and commanded me to lay the bag "flat". This confused me to no end and I tried to flatten the bag as much as possible. She started the conveyor, stopped it and repeated the command, "lay the bag flat!" Still confused, I mushed the bag down even more. Start, stop... same command. Finally, I threw all sense out the window and stood the bag up on its side. Satisfied, she let the bag go into the machine, wobbling all the way through. Years later I still laugh at that story. The more she said 'flat' the more I tried to flatten the bag, all to no avail. I wonder if anyone in line behind me thought it was so humorous? :-)

Life is full of humorous contradictions. Along with my treasure hunt for "don't be afraid" in the Bible, let me see what I can find that is funny. As a morning person, I laughed at this one the first time I read it; If you shout a pleasant greeting to your neighbor too early in the morning, it will be counted as a curse! Proverbs 27:14

Have a joyous day in Christ and remember to laugh!


Saturday, February 07, 2009

That Whisper - February 7, 2009

Good Saturday morning! One week to Valentine's Day if you need to get something done for your valentine! Today I pause a moment to ask God what I should write about this morning. The answer is: "Write about Me: peace, joy, love, encourage, don't be afraid..." Today I also thought of a treasure hunt. I have heard that there are 365 places in the Bible where God tells us to not be afraid or troubled, or even don't worry. I think that I will spend a few minutes each day trying to find all of those verses. In difficult times we do what may become overlooked in times of ease, we look to God and get into His holy word. It has been said that God sends trials to bring us closer to Him. It was true in the early days of this country, and I believe that it is true now. Look for another Great Awakening to happen soon; be a part of it and be ready to welcome new believers into God's kingdom!

Today the opportunities for service abound! All around us are chances to think of someone other than "me". A whisper in our mind says, "can't"; God says, "I will strengthen you". The whisper says, "flee the turmoil"; God says, "My peace I give to you". The whisper says, "hide here, the end is now"; God says, "Rejoice, I am coming soon!" We stand up to agree with John, "Amen, come Lord Jesus!" Every day we will face that insidious whisper. Just remember that it lies. God is our strength and shield in every adversity. We seek the approval of the Almighty One, God the Father. We have one very wonderful reason to deny the whispers of can't, flee, and hide; we have the Lord of lords and King of kings sending us forth into battle. Enjoy the day, have peace in Christ, and love one another as He commanded!

God bless you all,


Friday, February 06, 2009

Not Enough Yet - February 6, 2009

Good Friday morning! Today we start with an apology to Burt and Brenda, I really thought they were on the devotional list! We all know what happens sometimes when we really, really think something; yup, we end up really, really wrong. The life group had some wonderful brownies last night, and I didn't make them. The credit goes to Cheryl if I'm not mistaken (again). Speaking of wrong, have you ever tried a new recipe, worried about one thing and then found the problem somewhere else? The recipe called for 2 1/2 flour. That's it, no cups, ounces, pounds, teaspoons, or other units. I assumed cups, but I suspect that a little thing about "self-rising" might have been omitted as well. The cakes look like 2 giant cookies on my kitchen counter. Ah well, if I knew everything about everything and didn't have love, what good would I be? So, wrong once more in not even a day, and I am supposed to be starting a blog to answer questions about Christ? If that doesn't show all of us that I must trust only in Christ and lean not my own understanding then I don't know what will! :-)

The answer appears today in Pastor Rogers' devotional, surrender to Jesus first. As we have learned in our lessons on service, you and I may not feel ready to serve in the capacity that we are called. Does a missionary go out knowing that he or she knows everything already? Does every minister enter the profession with full knowledge in all situations? You and I have entered service, and I'll bet we knew right off the bat that we didn't know enough. However, God tells us that HE knows enough, and that we need to get to it. If a minister cannot lead the singing, perhaps holding a tune is not one of his abilities, then God will send a singer. If a missionary feels the call to go overseas, but cannot speak the language, then God will send her the gift of tongues or a translator who also wants to serve. As we have all heard before, none of us will be given all of the spiritual gifts and physical abilities that exist. Did you ever realize that the Bible does not speak of Jesus leading the apostles in a rousing chorus of "Standing on the Promises" or "How Great Thou Art"? It could be that singing was not one of the tasks given to Jesus by our Father in Heaven. While this doesn't mean that Jesus and the apostles did not or could not sing, we should take comfort in that even in that group they didn't mention all of the gifts of the Spirit.

I am picking on the gift of singing only because that one seems to be the one most often mentioned as a shortcoming whenever we gather together and talk about spiritual gifts and abilities. Singing a solo is tough, not all are called to do that. We admire those who do it well and feel pity for those who do it, but not well. I've heard singers on television or on CD that made me start covering the glassware. Sometimes we need a person with the gift of discernment to step up and let another know that singing may not be one of their gifts! :-) Each of us needs the suggestions and feedback of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Sometimes this may be painful to hear, but more often it is a shared blessing as the Spirit comes among us.

Have a great Friday in Christ and a better weekend in the love of Jesus !


Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Inspiration for Motivation - February 5, 2009

Good Thursday morning! Ah, the study of Philippians began last night with the background material in Acts. Isn't it always exciting to start something new? Wait, all of these letters and books in the Bible have been around for at least 1,900 years, where does the "new" come from? The Word of God continues to be the book to turn to in times of difficulty and in times of blessed peace. Every time I read a passage or book new things come to me. The Bible is the most important book in the world, period. If you want to amuse yourself with listing important or good books to read after the Bible, fine. Learn about the saving grace of Jesus first and know Him as Lord. After you are saved we can discuss the books that come after the Bible on any list of great books. If you need a lift this weekend, give 3:16 by Max Lucado a try.

When times seem dark we must focus on the light. This sounds over-simplified, but that doesn't make it less true. In a time of doubt and pain, we tend to focus on... the doubt and pain. Jesus calls us to focus on His light and joy not only in the good times when that is easy, but in the dark times when it becomes difficult to tear our minds away from our problems. Contemporary motivational writers tell us to not focus on the reasons we can't do something and to imagine the task as being done. This misses the point I think. Anyone can daydream of something as being done, but only in Christ do we find joy and strength to get the job done. Daydreaming can conjure up a pleasant vision, but work is required to accomplish the task at hand. I am sure that is what secular motivationists are trying to tell us. It just doesn't work very well without a source of light, strength, inspiration, and joy. And ya' know, using money as your source of inspiration only causes you to look toward the next chance to make money; a terrible treadmill if ever there was one.

Have a great Thursday in Christ!


The new blog starting soon: In this I will take questions and do my best to answer them biblically and with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Don't Look Back! - February 4, 2009

Good Wednesday morning! What seeds can we plant today? The season of planting crops and gardens in the world is not far away, but the season of planting in the Kingdom of God is always here and now. The world's planting may be a pale example of our work in planting seeds in God's kingdom, but I am reminded of one thing today - the tremendous variety of planters that God has called to the task. We have Christian rock singers, preachers, missionaries, athletes, clerks, technical workers, sound engineers, CEO's (the number of some of these may be small), pilots, veterinarians, cement truck drivers, mothers, dads, sisters, brothers... we have so many kinds of planters to serve the marvelously complex kingdom of our God. Oh, yeah... and once in a while someone thinks that he or she can write. If you find anyone like that, smack 'em upside the head and tell them to quit looking back!

Once more I am trying to be humorous about a serious subject. We all seem to have an inborn tendency to look back. The Israelites did it in the wilderness; muttering to go back to Egypt, where they had been cruelly mistreated slaves! The colonists did it in the early days of this country; the Continental Congress even drafted and sent a conciliatory letter to King George who proved the mighty providence of our God by refusing to even read it. No matter where we have come from, no matter how far the Lord has brought us, we want to look back to what was with nostalgia and yearning. Jesus told us to look only to Him! We are often taken out into the wilderness, you and I may feel that way even now, so that we will learn to depend only on God. That trust grows in looking ahead to the prize for which we strive in Christ Jesus, not in looking back to the terrible pit that God worked so hard to pull us out of! Thank you Lord for the tremendous effort you put in to bringing us to where we are today.


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Same Jesus - February 3, 2009

Good Tuesday morning! A little disappointment goes a long way. I'm speaking of the disappointment we feel in someone. In this life we are going to run into people whose professional knowledge or intellectual gifts leave us feeling that God has greatly blessed them in these areas. The disappointment comes when they fail to recognize the wonderful opportunity of life eternal in Jesus. We must always remember that God has made foolish the wise things of the world. Those with great talents in this world may not be able to see their need for the saving grace of Jesus. Sometimes we may catch ourselves wishing for something the world holds up as an idol. Those who possess a large confidence in themselves will not look to the one they really need, Jesus. Think of the times you looked to Jesus the most, were those times the best in your life or the most frightening and worrisome moments that you can recall? People who go through life without a care are at a terrible disadvantage. Those folks may never realize their need for a savior. Thank you Lord for my cares and pains in this world; each one is a step toward your welcoming arms. Two thieves died with Jesus in this world; one thought Jesus could not save even himself, the other saw the savior of the world. The same Jesus hung on the cross for both men, the difference lay in what each man chose to see. Praise God for the wisdom of the Holy Spirit that allows us to see the saving grace of Jesus in this dark world. Have a wonderful Tuesday! Bucky

Monday, February 02, 2009

Door to the Heart - February 2, 2009

Good Monday morning! T'would appear that we missed our snowstorm this time. I seem to recall a "winter storm watch" or something like that yesterday morning until this morning at 0600, but... nothing! I think the Lord likes to remind the weather predictors and us just who is in charge now and again. :-) Well, for the first time in several years, I missed the Super Bowl. I went out to visit a friend and he is not a sports fan. Like much of the world, he is very concerned for his family and situation in this difficult time. The opportunity to share the Good News of life in Christ cannot be far away; it is much better that I be available to him than to watch another football game! Praise God for this opportunity.

The week starts with a fresh slate. Will you or I harvest or plant this week? I like to begin the week with a prayer that the Holy Spirit will infuse the devotionals and all other writing that I do this week. I may never see or meet the person that reads this somewhere in some home far away from here. However, the Holy Spirit moves through hearts worldwide; somewhere a seed falls on fertile soil.

When engaged in conversation or witnessing, have you ever felt the urge to point to yourself? We should be happy to be of service helping others find the way, but we must remember to point to the Lord Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Perhaps we should point across ourselves with one hand, and heaven-ward with the other, figuratively speaking. Tell what Jesus has done for you and I, but point firmly to our Lord who has the power to save.

This morning I have an image in mind. We are born with a door on our heart. At first this is a flimsy door, opening to almost any suggestion the world puts forth. At this stage it is important for parents to train and love their child, bringing him or her up in the ways of the Lord. Later, we run into the world. The treachery, pain, and foolishness of the world may cause us to double bolt that door, making it difficult for anyone to get in. God will not force this door, but He knocks and knocks, hoping that we will let Him in. One day, those who chose salvation in Christ, let Him in. Not only do Jesus and the Father come in to dine, but they also call in their heavenly craftsman, the Holy Spirit, to replace our world-weary door with a new strong door, sealed by the Holy Spirit and impervious to the dark forces of this world. This new door is also smart, letting in those we love and allowing us to share more and more of our own selves as we grow in the love of Jesus. Don't be afraid! The new door to your heart is guarded by the One who saves, Jesus Christ!

God bless and keep you on this new day!