Monday, March 30, 2009

Soapboxin' It - March 30, 2009

Good Monday morning! Well the Big 12 has been sent home from the Big Dance. If you're not a college basketball fan, you might have no idea what that means. It's funny how we look for some other team to root for at times. Not satisfied that our state basketball team made the NIT, and was promptly sent home, we look to other teams in the same conference. Once those teams lose in the NCAA tournament, we start looking for the teams that beat them to do well so that we can claim some sort of phantom consolation prize. Let's see, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Kansas made it to the Sweet 16, and the teams that beat them made it to the Final 4, and Nebraska actually showed up for the games against the first three teams so really we (our team) might be like, um, 75th! Actually, they're not that good, but we like to try to build up our team, and by association our selves, through the manipulation of logic and reality in our minds. Are we so competitive that anything less than a championship team is unacceptable? Whatever happened to students going to college to gain a higher education?

Ha, I'm on the soapbox today! Speaking of winless teams. Did you see that GM and Chrysler couldn't even come up with enough of a plan to satisfy the government? Yup, our government, the same one handing out funds all willy-nilly to bankers, refused to give the automakers more of our tax money because of a lack of effort in turning their business around. Hmmm, where was that kind of thinking when the bankers thought it okay to give out huge bonuses to employees who wiped out the business? I mean wouldn't it be fair to give GM our tax money to pay out bonuses to the executives driving the company to bankruptcy? I thought the method was more like: 1. our business is going down, we'll all be out of work next month. 2. the government bailed us out by buying 80% of the company. 3. Hooray, we did it! Bonuses all around courtesy of the taxpayers! :-)

Okay, how about a champion who refused to take the championship trophy because his time has not arrived yet? We read in the Bible that Jesus triumphed over death and the grave, but the world wants to see the proof. We don't have proof in worldly terms; our Lord has not yet taken up His new throne. The choice now is the same as it was back in the days of Matthew, Paul, John, and James - believe in Jesus or reject Him. Our champion has not yet arrived to accept the honor due him as the King of kings and Lord of lords. What is the deal with that? Jesus rose from the grave, saw a few friends, and then left the world. The key is in what Jesus told the disciples before his arrest. "It us best for you that I go away, for if I don't the Comforter will not come."

Okay, time for me to quit rambling on this morning. Have a great week in Christ!


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Doubts May Come - March 29, 2009

Good Sunday morning! I did it by accident...didn't mean to blurt it out.. but there it was. Yup, this morning I said that I am one of those who gained a new career last year. I meant to speak the old saying "lost my job", but that isn't what came out. Somewhere along the way the Holy Spirit has worked a positive change in my mind. This new career isn't paying anything yet, but I am sure that God will work that out in His own time.

Gloom and doom have taken over much of the media, but many great and wonderful things are happening each day. Trusting in God at a time like this may be difficult; I'm sure that many are saying that God has taken a vacation or turned away from us. However, in Christ we know that is not true. If anything, God is closer than ever right now, watching over us and waiting to pour out His blessings on those who will believe. This doesn't mean to run out and buy a lottery ticket 'cuz God will soon pour out a pile of loot. Your blessings may include monetary blessings, most of us could use that right now, but God's blessings are not limited to something as fleeting as money.

The disciples had their moments of doubt too, and Jesus was right there with them! We need not be ashamed of our doubts, but neither should we dwell upon them. Use your doubts to remind yourself that Jesus will provide for you at all times, and then ask forgiveness for doubting His mighty providence. Recall the times when Jesus fed the thousands with a few loaves and fishes, the blind man who had his sight restored, and the formerly quite dead Lazarus walking forth from the tomb. The forces of this world are no obstacle to our Lord Jesus. Trust in Him!


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Ol' Noggin? - March 28, 2009

Good Saturday morning! Did you know there was a Mr. Maverick behind the term we use today? If I had heard it before, I forgot somewhere along the way. Calling someone a "bit of a maverick" makes a lot less sense when one finds out the actual historical basis behind the term. Ah well, the language changes with the years. The beauty of American English is in the fact we don't have to speak in code to make it hard for spies to understand us, half of what we say is already in code. :-)

How is it that a fellow who has been dead for a couple of years would know to send a devotional on purity to me this morning? We know that Pastor Rogers has gone to his reward in Heaven, but the Holy Spirit is still here and knows when to send me a reminder. You see this very attractive woman came to my door yesterday, and I am having a spot of trouble getting her out of my mind. The wonderful benefit of living with the Spirit in your heart is when the conscience and the Spirit are both saying 'Whoa there!" to some wrong thoughts bouncing around the ol' noggin.

The sun is shining today, but it looks like another storm is headed our way on Monday. Winter is making its stand this year and doesn't want to let us go quietly into spring. I have probably written that every spring since I started writing. The simple fact is that spring doesn't really start in these parts until later in the season. Like every other season, God calls the start and not some mark on the calender.

Enjoy the nice weekend in Christ!


Friday, March 27, 2009

Going to Jesus - March 27, 2009

Good Friday morning! Hey, it's been kind of fun to watch the ol' 401K again this week! Let us remember that our faith is in Jesus, and be sure to thank him for good news in the economy. We have heard the old saying about having too much of a good thing can be bad for us. This is true in the world when we start having faith in something or someone in this world when our faith should be in Christ alone. This doesn't mean that you don't trust your friends in Christ, only that you cannot count on them to save you. I wonder how many people who think themselves good in this world will call upon friends and witnesses before the great throne of God? When God sits in judgement it will not be a case of witnesses vouching for each other. A rich person might call upon those he has given money to. A care giver might try to call upon those she has cared for all her life. The only problem is that God will only want to know one thing. Do you or I believe in His Son, Jesus Christ?

A Friday is often a good time to relax the mind a little as the weekend approaches. Did you ever think about the judgement at the end before the throne of God? Billions of souls standing around outside the throne room; all awaiting their turn on the stand. Everywhere you look are shades of black robes as the deeds and thoughts of all are revealed. Here and there are the great and mighty among the princes of the earth. One might exclaim that he was a great lawyer on earth and will show the rest of us how to defend ourselves. God will then take him into judgement and show how all of his life he failed to uphold the law in his heart. Another might stand forth and speak of how she served in public office, elected by the people and serving them her entire career. God will take her onto the stand and show how all along it was her own self-interest that she served her entire career.

We can go on and on with possible examples from this life, but what about those who believe in Jesus? The Bible tells us that we are washed in his blood, our robes made white as snow. When does that happen? After the great and mighty take their turn on the stand at that great judgment, the believers begin to take their turn. You are called in; head hanging down for you can see that your robe is as black as any, you know that you have failed to live up to the law, in all ways you have fallen short of the glory of God. However, when you try to mount the stand, you see Jesus! He has been there all the time as the great and mighty have fallen in their own self belief. Before you know it your feet are running to Him! Like a child you run to the Lord Jesus. He washes your robes in his own blood; He makes you clean; He alone saves you. From the first time you believed you have known that He holds forgiveness and grace, and He gives them to you.

We have a great day to strive for. Paul likened it to the end of a race. We strive toward that great day when we see Jesus. Like any race, there is much work to do. My vision of that great day may not be correct, we won't know until the time arrives. Until then, God has given us work to perform, fellowship to enjoy, and the Bible to learn. Have a wonderful Friday in Christ Jesus!


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Suffering or Joy? - March 26, 2009

Good Thursday morning! I felt privileged to be a part of the new VBW yesterday. In case you haven't been to one of our meetings, the requirement is that you be a veteran and have suffered a broken wrist in your past. It seems that God has brought together Burt, Rick, and I for a reason known only to Him, but each of us has qualified for the Veterans of the Broken Wrist. How's that for an elite group? :-) If you suddenly feel better because you didn't serve overseas in the military and suffer the pain of a broken wrist, I don't blame you one bit! We are not often called to suffer the same things in this life.

Last night in Bible study, I learned that our brother in Christ, Darrell Hall, suffered with the pain of a cancer for some 20 years. That is unimaginable to me, but I know that he made it through the strength and grace of Jesus Christ. Sometimes we cannot see how a brother or sister in Christ has managed to endure the suffering of some condition. Certainly those followers of Jesus who live under a repressive government come to mind and prayer in this regard. However! Suffering is not the only thing in this journey we take with Christ. While at times it seems that we are made to suffer, we should know that Christ did not suffer all the time here on earth. The Bible records times of feasting and prayer, walking and healing, sitting down for a meal with the disciples, and even how Jesus enjoyed the company of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus at their home. Gratitude for the joys and pleasures of this life helps to take our mind off the suffering and turn our thinking to Jesus. We are grateful to be allowed to suffer for Christ, but we are even more grateful to share in His joy!

I recall the story of the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus had sustenance the disciples could not understand. I can imagine our Lord sitting there at the well as the woman ran from house to house and around the marketplace telling people that the Messiah sat at their well. How he must have smiled at her enthusiasm and the response of the people. We know that Jesus stayed for a couple of days at the request of the people of that town. If Jesus were here now, would your town beg Him to stay and teach them?

Be glad in Christ!


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Special Mission! - March 25, 2009

Good morning! I listened to a news report about the quiver full movement this morning. Of course you might ask what the quiver is full of, and the answer is: kids. This is an evangelical Christian movement in the Midwest of our country that renounces all forms of birth control and trusts in God to give them the right number of children in a marriage. All of this is to raise more Christian children to spread the Good News of Christ. Not a bad aim at all. I had a thought that this might be the biblical 144,000. However, those stray thoughts are not always right. God alone knows who His 144,000 special witnesses are during the tribulation to come.

We all want to be part of something special. Some of this is in a good way. The men assigned to me for prayer each week I like to call my special friends in Christ. This does not put them above other Christians and the names of these men are between God and myself each week. Where the desire to be special can go wrong is when we want to place ourselves above others. Merchants play to this desire by offering "gold" clubs or "platinum" cards, and how many of us have fallen for some kind of elite grouping by spending more than we should have? No one would buy a comic book entitled "Man", but call it "Superman" and well... who didn't want to be associated with that super him? :-)

I have some good news for you! Jesus died for you. If you don't feel special today, you should know that Jesus felt the weight of every person's sin when he died on that cross. Your sin, my sin, and he knew each one of us. You are beloved of God himself! Jesus knows you, and only you can carry out the mission He has for you alone. You and I have special missions in Christ, and that makes me feel very special today!

God loves you and so do I!


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Who You Gonna Believe? - March 24, 2009

Good Tuesday morning! Snow and blowing snow this morning. I wonder if they will hold school here today? We received hardly a flake yesterday, but school was called off. I am glad that I am not the one making that decision; I'm sure he, she, or they well get a lot of grief and smart remarks over what happened yesterday. :-)

Did you catch the new show last night about Joshua on the History Channel? Ask yourself first if the walls of Jericho really fell as the Bible states. In Christ, we believe the Bible and know that the walls fell. What happens when you don't want to believe in Jesus? The walls fell metaphorically of course, and then we can get on to that awful Joshua and the terrible slaughter of all the innocent people of Jericho. I didn't make up the use of "innocent", the expert on the show actually said that. Do we have any way of knowing whether the people of that long ago city were "innocent"? I turned off the show after failing to hear anything about God telling Joshua to slaughter everything in the city, or that later the Israelites would get into trouble with God for not obeying that command. I am curious about one thing. How strong were the foundations of those famous walls? 9,000 soldiers marching around the walls for six days would cause no small amount of vibration. The show stated that the walls were about a mile in circumference; an army could march around that some 60 - 120 times in six days, perhaps more as people walked everywhere back in the day. That's a lot of vibrations! Whoever heard of an invading army doing nothing but marching around and around as a form of siege anyway?

I suppose the question might be: why won't they believe? However, to put the question on us: Why do we believe? In intellectual circles the form of affirmation or confirmation of one's work is the peer review process. If one's peers call one a crackpot and threaten one's job, that can have a powerful effect upon the professor or intellectual in question. In Christ, we don't care what the world calls us; Jesus told us this would happen. We have the Holy Spirit in our hearts telling us that the stories are true. God was there, the historical experts were not; who you gonna believe?

Drive safely if you must go out, stay inside if you can, and have a great day in Jesus!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Nothing Can Separate - March 23, 2009

Good Monday morning! Okay, so get this... they have called off school already. Not a flake of snow on the ground, not even one in the air, and school is already out. Max Hensley must be spinning in his grave right now. In case the reference is lost on you, Max Hensley was the superintendent of the Kimball schools in my youth. Ol Max was infamous among the kids for not letting school out until the snow was up to the whites of his eyes. Of course he might have been held in high esteem by the parents for just that quality. The propagation of weather radars and other means of forecasting have come a long way since those far away days when I attended grade school; I imagine they have good reason to call off school this early. A sort of preemptive strike at the parents you might say. :-)

So, as you start your workday, and think about the kids at home snarfing Fruit Loops and fighting over what to play on the X-Box; what words of comfort can I bring to you today? A reminder of that great section in Romans 8 where Paul tells us that nothing can separate us from God's love might be good. Do you think that Paul had some prophecy of space exploration when he wrote that how far above the earth we might be cannot separate us from God's love? Do you think Paul saw little, metal bubbles being lowered into the ocean to explore great depths too? We have no way to tell, but we do know that God knew even then what would happen now. God even knew at some time in the distant past that I wouldn't take some Advil this morning before setting off on this day's adventures, and that I would be paying the price even now. :-) One bottle of Ensure for breakfast isn't at all satisfying either. Does any of that separate me from God's love? Not a bit! How can I help you this morning? I'm here if you need to call and chat. The writing can wait a bit, though I do have some great ideas that need to be shared in my stories.

Praise God for the day!


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Not Home Yet - March 21, 2009

Good Saturday morning! The curse has derailed God's mighty creation! Why did God allow this? You probably won't see that headline anytime in the near future in your media news sources. These days we are supposed to believe that we evolved from some kind of cosmic accident. As we look upon the tragedies of this life we are simply to think that evolution needs another 15 billion years I guess. We know that God created us in his own image, but we also know that we do not gaze upon the image of God in our mirrors each day. Our time on this earth has now become one of complete dependence upon the strength and sacrifice of God, though not everyone will acknowledge that.

One of the things we learn in Christ is that we cannot make it on our own to that eternal life of joy and worship that we desire in our hearts. Some take the easy route and try to create that kind of life on their own. And from our point of view, we are tempted to think that some seem to have come close in their earthly success. However, we simply cannot imagine the full extent of God's great gift to us from our lowly point of view on this ball of rock and dirt. I love the verses in the Bible that remind us that this is not our final home and that we have a great homecoming on the way. I like to be reminded that the darkness we see has been taken into account by God and may even be the curtain coming up on the final act. The world sees a terrible tragedy in this life, and it will be if they refuse to believe in Jesus, but we know that our Savior will arrive soon.

Enjoy the day in Christ Jesus!


Friday, March 20, 2009

The Time Between - March 20, 2009

Good day and a happy first day of spring to you! We need some spring rain showers; things have been very dry out here for too long. I will make that one of my prayer requests for this season. And what season does the first day of spring begin? That's right, the celebration of Easter has come. What are we going to give to celebrate the gift of eternal life that God gave to us on Easter? We have a bit of time to think about that.

Hoo boy! Even little dental surgeries are not nice. Driving home from Cheyenne after the fun is not so enjoyable either. All of us at one time or another have experienced a cure that we might have doubted worth the price we paid until the healing was complete. One thing we know from the Bible is that Jesus never doubted the price he paid. Although we know from his admission that he did hope there might be another way, he faithfully carried out his father's task. For that we are grateful! The Good News of our salvation by grace is that we will be eternally grateful when Jesus comes to take us home. Things are tough for us now, we are in that time between the surgery and the complete healing, and it does hurt. Look forward to the time of healing when Jesus will take away all pain and sorrow.

Have a great Friday in Christ Jesus!


Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Thursday - March 19, 2009

Good Thursday morning! Gotta go to Cheyenne today; I'll have to leave the hoopla over the AIG bonuses to someone else to watch. The congressional committee meeting yesterday got pretty interesting at times. However, all the furor was overshadowed by a tragic death yesterday. You may have heard about the actress who died from a fall on a ski slope. The story only serves to remind us that we do not know how long we will be on this earth. By the reports that I have read, the fall and injuries did not appear to be very serious, but as often happens with head injuries the damage had been done and she did not recover. Jesus reminded us that each of us must quickly be about the work God has assigned us to do. We may not like to think about it, but today could be it for us in this life. On the other hand, I would be overjoyed to be in heaven with Jesus tomorrow! Shake off the thoughts of gloom that run rampant in the media these days, and live Christ's abundant life.

Live in Christ today!


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Our Future - March 18, 2009

Good Wednesday morning! Why does our estimation of the future so often depend upon what we are feeling at the moment? How often do you hear someone complain: "I feel kind of rough today, things in my life just aren't going to work out"? You and I may have tried that same tactic ourselves. Here's a timely reminder: God's future plans are not in any way dependent upon our current feeling! A bit of illness may rain on your parade this morning. A bit of bad feeling may happen as you read the news today. Neither will make the future dark and gloomy; don't give in to thinking that it does! :-) Pasting a smile on your face is great exercise. I try it at home and it helps, even when I don't have anyone to smile at! That cats will of course look at me and then at each other... and flee. "He's smiling, something's wrong, run for your lives!" What do cats know anyway? :-)

Trusting in God means that we do not count the future as a part of our current feelings. If God were to take each of us aside and show us a vision of our future with him in heaven, we would probably become completely useless to him in this life. We probably would do nothing after that vision but try to capture it in words to share; only to realize that words would fall utterly short. I could see us all sitting there with our heavenly vision rolling over and over in our minds, ready to go and completely oblivious to the present life. Why do you think God waited until the end of John's life to give him the great revelation? He certainly could have revealed the future to John much earlier in John's life. God has tasks for all of us to do and we have Good News to share. We have our sights set on Jesus, but our work is right here and now. Have a wonderful day at work. Relax in the knowledge that God has our future right in the palm of His mighty hand.

God bless you,


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patrick's Day - March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I like the holidays, I get to say something different to start the devotional. This morning I thought that we don't need to be superheroes. In an age where the media seems to be filled with tales of super humans, ya know all the people with looks, money, brains, and talent, we may strive to emulate them. One thing we might forget when looking horizontally, as we should not do, is that important statement in the Bible: to whom much is given, much will be expected. Like me, you probably did not get all of the things the world idolizes. Maybe you're like Burt and got looks, brains, and talent, but somewhere along the way the money just didn't show up. Maybe you're like Burt and you are right now thinking that you didn't get any of those things and wondering what in the world I'm talking about! :-) We do tend to go too far toward the negative in our self-assessment or too far toward the wishful sort of thinking. However, all of this goes to show that we don't need to be superheroes in our life in Christ. We are often reminded that Christ did not hold a beauty pageant or a talent contest when selecting his disciples. He chose 12, but many more came to him, including you and I. There was no entrance examination, no placement scores, and no minimum to meet when I came to Christ. The only thing you and I had to do was say "yes" to Jesus. Yes, Lord, I am ready to give up my all to you. There was no pause as Jesus pondered me, wondering how to tell me that he had no use for just another messed-up human. Jesus did not wonder when or if any of his superheroes were going to show up. He simply turned to all of his sheep and told us... "you're all my superheroes, follow me!"

Perhaps you don't think of yourself as a Christian superhero. You might want to rethink that; Jesus didn't give his life for anyone that he did not value above all else. I notice that when I wrestle with myself thinking that I must do more, do more, and do more for Christ, I get little or nothing done. However, when I give up myself to Christ and rest in Him, then I do much in His service. The whole thing seems to be just opposite of my own understanding... duh! :-)


Monday, March 16, 2009

Steps of Faith - March 16, 2009

Good Monday morning! Steps of faith, have you encouraged someone in their steps of faith today? We all have a way of the cross to take in our lives. Encouraging a brother or sister in Christ may be one of your strengths. If so, then you have a lot of persons to bestow your gift upon these days. A while back I asked for examples of companies who have chosen to cut pay or costs before laying off people from their jobs. I heard about one such company on NPR last week. FedEx, or Federal Express, did that and I am glad to hear it. However, the company also cut benefits so much that the employees no longer feel as though they belong to the company. I know just how they feel and many of you might also. However, we know, or should know, that companies are in business for their own self-interest. We learn to love in Christ and we tend to fall into the trap of thinking that our employer loves us. The "divorce" can be a rude and emotional wake-up call to any of us at any time. Well, let me introduce you to someone who will never leave you nor forsake you! Jesus said that before he ascended to be with our Father in Heaven. Jesus also reported to God that He had not lost even one of those given to Him. We might wonder: am I one of those given? The funny thing is that we become one of those given by giving ourselves to Jesus!

As I work on the next answer in blog, I am finding that blessed assurance is not just a great song title. Have you given all of yourself to Jesus? If you have then you are one of those that our Lord will never lose! Did you immediately feel like a hero of the faith? No? I didn't either and I still don't. Paul didn't, and we would list him as one of those heroes. We are reminded to, "strive toward the goal, to win the prize" in Paul's great letter of joy to the church in Phillipi. One thing I see already in my research, blessed assurance in Christ is not dependent upon a feeling we may or may not have. How could it be? Our feelings change day by day and even moment by moment. Did you get up and think, "I don't feel very saved today..."? What you felt this morning had nothing to do with your salvation! And on most Monday mornings that is a very good thing. :-)

Pray for those taking steps of faith in God today. God will take care of each of us; that promise was made by Jesus! Trust in Him and don't worry! Did you hear the whisper of "that's easy to say!" I did. I recall that "get up and walk" was easy for Jesus to say too, but a miracle happened when He said it. Trust in Jesus.


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Time and Patience - March 14, 2009

Good Saturday morning! Well, you might recall the possibility of another game between Sidney and Scottsbluff down in Lincoln that I mentioned yesterday. That possibility required both of them to win their games yesterday. Of course, the other possibility, the one I didn't want to mention, would be for both of them to lose yesterday's games and meet for the consolation game today. Alas, they both lost and will meet at noon for the consolation game. We'll blame Jeff for that; obviously he didn't cheer hard enough or grabbed the ball and tried to help out or something. :-) Old folks aren't allowed on the court.

Speaking of slightly-older-than-Jeff folks, that would be me in case you didn't get up too early on this fine Saturday, I did get up early enough to catch Wild West Tech at 0700 this morning. The show was about one of my favorites, the trains of the Old West. Did you know that in 1830 there were only 28 miles of track in the United States? By the end of the century over 200,000 miles of track had been laid down. That's a lot of rail, spikes, gravel, and ties... not to mention a whole lot of hard labor. Many of the things we are called to do will take time, effort, and patience. At this time, many of us have become accustomed to getting something very quickly, and I am one of those. However, God works on His own schedule, and when we are called to do something in Christ we had better get used to things arriving in God's timing. The hard part about that is that it might not mean now, or today, or even the next day, each of us may have to learn to wait on God. Learning and changing are two activities that may seem very slow in our new life in Christ. However, as we are assured by Paul in Philippians, God will complete the good work He began in us.

Why did the subject of waiting and patience come up this morning? I have written at times of my frustration with my own slow pace and difficulty in getting my writing career underway. Much of the problem has to do with ignorance. How long should it take to write a novel? How about 2 at the same time? I don't know. Does a writer write every day or are there periods of intense production followed by periods of little or no inspiration? I don't know. However, I am learning and one thing I learned this week is that my plans may not always be in line with God's plans. This week, on Thursday, one of my characters got saved. Certainly you might raise an eyebrow at this. I'm writing the story; how does it happen that I didn't know this would happen? I don't know, but it did! Actually, I think it's a good sign that the stories are starting to write themselves. Perhaps I am learning to listen to the Holy Spirit more and that is translating into better and faster writing; that would be a good thing. ... and then on Friday, I accomplished nothing as I was sick all day. How can that be a good thing? Well, when we have a victory in Christ, you can bet that obstacles will be thrown up by the enemy in a hurry. Our enemy does not want to see us spread the Good News and that is what I want to do with my writing. Jesus will see me through, or over, or around those obstacles. Praise the Lord for His guiding hand!


Friday, March 13, 2009

Better News - March 13, 2009

Good Friday morning! The headache is fading a bit and we have more good news today. Yes, the Sidney boys basketball team has moved on to the semifinals of the state tournament. Jeff Einspahr's son, Eric, is on that team and we wish them well in the next game tonight against Ralston. Scottsbluff won their first round game also. If you haven't followed the local sports, you won't know that Sidney and Scottsbluff have played tough games against each other all season and might very well meet in the championship game down in Lincoln.

The economic news has been better this week than we have seen for quite some time. I pray that the upward trend continues. Mr. Madoff pled guilty yesterday and moved into somewhat less luxurious quarters last night. The question of justice might be raised here: should the man spend the rest of his life in prison as punishment or would it be better to put him to work to make restitution to his former investors? Some sort of book and movie deal might get at least a little of the money back, although the chances of one man being able to repay some $50,000,000,000.00 is remote. I typed that figure out just to see what it looked like with all the zeros; that's a lot of money to, um, misplace. I heard this morning that investigators have been able to find about 1 of those billions. If the 50 billions were invested in the same funds as my 401K, I can tell them where about 25 or so of the billions went. :-) We all have looked with despair at our shrinking retirement funds, don't stop praying for the rebound!

I am not being too serious on this Friday morning, the headache is partly to blame for that. Whether we feel good or not so good on a particular morning. God is still God, and Jesus is Lord! I am glad that what I feel does not change the fact that we are saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus!

Have a wonderful weekend in Christ!


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Talking Rocks - March 12, 2009

Good Thursday morning! I noticed a very fine looking moon in the sky last night, and lo and behold, it was still in the sky this morning! Now this might seem like I'm being a little silly, but there it is. We look at the state of our economy, and we look at the state of the world's economy, and then we might try to give in to despair. However, this morning I am reminded that in both cases, it is actually God's economy and He is still in charge. Giving your entire self up to Jesus does not mean that we hold on to our doubts and fears. While this time may be sufficient reason to induce economic fear in rocks, we are to place our faith in Jesus. No kidding, a rock came up to me yesterday seeking comfort because an oil company had evicted him and his family from a nice patch of ground out west of town. His stock funds for retirement had lost so much value that he didn't think retirement would ever be possible, his wife had her position eliminated at the quarry, and to top it all off a cow had raised her tail and dumped all over him and his four little stones just that morning. Terrible times indeed.

Of course I'm being a bit silly when writing about talking rocks, but one day the Bible says that people will call out to the rocks to fall on them, hoping that will hide them from the face of Almighty God. What seems silly on a cold morning in March, may suddenly become deadly serious. Ha, ha, ha... calling out to rocks, how silly would that be? On a normal morning, we might laugh. During the end times, those folks will be completely serious so extreme will be their fear of God. If you would rather not see those you love and respect in that condition, it might be a good time to tell them the Good News of Christ Jesus. Yes, the moon made its lonely trip around the planet today and we will probably see it do so again tomorrow and the next night. However, one day the Bible says that moon won't be there. What a great day it will be when Christ appears in the skies in His glory! Maybe today I will just look to Christ instead of the state of the economy.

Have a great day in Christ Jesus!


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Disaster or Two - March 11, 2009

Good Wednesday morning! The cold of March grips us still... beware the cold of March! Shouldn't there be a different word in that statement? The "ides" of March haven't arrived just yet, but this reminder of global warming has been brought to you by God's weather system. Enjoy the day! Third Day is reminding me this morning that there is hope for the hopeless in Christ Jesus. How often do you cry out to Jesus? Does it take a disaster to remind you of the one who died for your sins? For some folks that is the only thing that will get through the clutter of their busy lives. The great tribulation, the time of terrible disasters that is still to come, is the last attempt by God to reach everyone. The Bible says that everyone will know where the disasters come from, but some will remain hard-hearted, shaking their fists at God. How sad that is. We see the depth of God's love as he will take off the restraints in trying to get the attention of every last person on this earth. Those who will choose to reject the Good News forever will instead see God's judgement and will continue to refuse His message of life and hope.

You and I might find the stubbornness of some people very hard to understand in the tribulation to come. We may have experienced only a few life-changing events in our lives, most probably were not disasters, but we came to believe in God through the good times and the bad. In the end times, some of those left behind in rapture of the church will experience all 21 judgements. Like the pharaoh of Egypt in Moses' time, they will continue to reject God. Boggles the mind it does! However, that time has not arrived just yet. We still have time to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. Time to save some from the wrath to come. I am glad to hear of web sites proclaiming the love of Jesus, of children coming to know Jesus, of great rallies in mega-churches and the individuals coming to Jesus in smaller churches. Tales of hope are all around us. Don't give up on Jesus, and don't give up on your self!

Hallelujah for the day!


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Assault - March 10, 2009

Good Tuesday morning! We have just a bit of snow this morning, but it is a cold day in March. Today, some news about companies that are hiring. Hey, that's good news during these tough times. Looking outside though, it's kind of hard to believe that baseball spring training has begun down in Florida and Arizona. Of course, our weather outside today might offer some small explanation as to why they don't start up around here in March. Gee, do ya think?

How is your endurance for the journey doing today? In this life as we strive to become more like Jesus each day the time will arrive when a serious assault upon our minds begins. Thoughts of "it's never going to happen" and other negative thoughts will suddenly intrude upon our minds just when it seems that the tide has turned. Imagine that you have fought a tough battle in the strength of the Holy Spirit and suddenly the tide turns and you relax just a bit, ready to ride it into the shallow water and looking forward to a rest. However, just then those thoughts arrive as the assault begins in earnest. "You'll never make it"; "give it up", and many more come seemingly from nowhere. Jesus told us to keep our sights set on him for a good reason. We do have an enemy and as the success that God will bring us to comes closer, that enemy will step up the attack on us. The Accuser does not want to see someone succeed in Christ. Trust in God; that assault you are feeling means you are ready to follow Jesus to great things!

Praise Jesus, the King of kings, on this great day!


Monday, March 09, 2009

Called Home - March 9, 2009

Good Monday morning! So much news today, where do we begin? Yesterday, during church services, a man walked into a church in Maryville, IL and shot the pastor. Pastor Fred Winters did not survive and our prayers go out to his family and congregation. What about the man who decided to do this? We are called to forgive him. If that doesn't sound possible this morning, I can understand your feeling. However, we do not forgive in our own strength, but with faith in the strength of Christ Jesus. In case you haven't thought that we are serving Christ on the front lines, take this lesson to heart, we are. Yesterday a man gave up his life for Jesus; any of us could be called upon to do the same.

Does an event far away leave you feeling weak and helpless? Let me remind you that your strength or my strength will never be enough in this world. God allows us to be weak so that we will believe in His strength. The worst thing in this life would be to have the strength to accomplish on your own anything you set your mind to. I don't have that strength, and you do not either. We trust in God because He is the Almighty One. Do not avoid church out of fear; trust in Jesus to hold you close. And what do we have to fear? Paul reminds us that to live is Christ, but to die is gain. Many of us fear that our dying might be painful and prolonged. If we trust God to keep us after death, I think we can trust Him to see us through the process of getting there too! Jesus gave us this assurance for any moment of doubt in His strength: "I will never leave you nor forsake you!"

In the poor timing department: we have a news clip this morning about the number of Christians declining in the United States. This came from a survey, not from the murder of a pastor. I'm not trying to be funny here, but these two items appeared on the same news web page only a few lines apart from each other. Somewhere a news editor is banging his or her head on a desk saying, "I should have stopped that!" Surely the report about a survey that took months to complete could wait a day or two. However, be that as it may, we might want to examine the results of this survey. Is it valid? Out here from my writing chair on the plains of Nebraska, I do not agree with their results. I see many turning to Christ in these difficult times. Revival is starting and God does not need a survey to tell Him where each person stands. Always be suspicious of surveys in this world, especially if the survey result supports your point of view.

Let's change the tone a bit. Yesterday, a test caught my eye. The test was one of those IQ tests that appeal to our intellectual vanity. The score posted in the box was one that I thought I could beat and so I took the test. Alas, the questions were simply trivia questions having nothing to do with one's IQ. Would a person in India be any less intelligent for not knowing the state capital of California? I don't think so. The giveaway, and only true measure of one's intelligence, came at the end when the question asked for my cell phone number. I didn't fail that test, but it was a near thing! :-) Scammers can be very clever and with the tough economy people are seeking ways to get by. Watch out for yourself and seek confirmation of things that look too good to be true.

God bless you this week!


Saturday, March 07, 2009

Undeserved - March 7, 2009

Good Saturday morning! Winter is back; that is probably not news you wanted to hear this morning. Alas, that is the state of things out here, grey skies and cold fog may signal the start of snow soon. Do we deserve more snow or even rain? We know from our Bible reading that God causes the rain to fall upon the just and the unjust. That sounds like we qualify. However, do we really want to qualify under an all-inclusive proposition like that? Sometimes in this life you or I may feel that we do not deserve the bounty the Lord has given us. You might look around your house and wonder if you deserve to live in such a nice place. Two cars in the garage, a boat [horse, camper, moose, etc.] out back, and trying to decide what to wear is so very difficult among all those clothes, some of which even fit. Do we deserve this or is the hammer ready to fall? The question has been pondered by Christians ever since Jesus ascended to heaven. Should we sell the lot and give everything to the church? The first Christians in Jerusalem did, but remember that they also needed monetary help later. If God had intended for us to live under a socialistic form of government, would He have needed to tell us: Thou shalt not steal? One way to remove all theft is to make all property community property. That doesn't help the main point though, which is do you and I deserve what we have? Should we adopt the two brown robes in the closet? Should we even have a closet?

Let me ask us one question: do we deserve to gain eternal life through the death of Jesus on the cross? No, but we can receive that by believing in Jesus. Whatever you have now, whether you consider it plenty or poverty, God has given to you for your use. The correct feeling is not a questioning one, but a grateful one. In wondering whether we deserve our plenty, we might forget to give glory to God in gratitude for what we have. In complaining about our poverty, we might forget to thank God for taking care of our most basic needs. One question that might come up is: will God let his children starve? Since God has already assured us that we will be taken care of in this life and commanded us not to worry about our future needs; we do him a dishonor when we fret and worry about whether we deserve this or that and worry about tomorrow. Do we deserve whatever we have right now? No, we don't deserve any of it, just as we didn't deserve to be declared righteous by the blood of Christ. Should we share and enjoy all that we have with a grateful song on our lips, you bet!

Have a great Saturday, cold or not, in Christ Jesus!


Friday, March 06, 2009

Strength vs. Weakness - March 6, 2009

Good Friday morning! God has been good to us through all times, and we can trust him to be good through the current crisis as well. Did anyone notice that we made it though February? Rumors of something that did not come to pass pointed to February, but we made it through! Thank you to all of you who brought that matter to God in prayer. Another matter about prayer... the rough draft of "Why do we Pray?" is finished, now to get some review! The books have not progressed as well as I would like in the past month, but there is a possible answer in Pastor Rogers' devotional today. Patience has never been a strength of mine when I want something to take place or arrive or... you know the feeling. Last night our Life Group lesson reminded us to share our weaknesses in our witness. This as you well know is not easy to do. You or I will probably never feel more like a hypocrite than when we admit our weaknesses to an unbeliever. However, that is the heart of the Good News! Jesus died to save us from our sins. We already know that we have not and cannot keep the Law on our own. There is no sense trying to hide the fact that we are sinners when we are running around letting everyone know that all have sinned and fallen short of God's glorious standard.

The great thing about admitting a weakness is that people are much more likely to identify with a weakness than a strength. What is our example today? Today seems like a good time to pick on Burt. Last night I watched with some amusement as he fumbled with three different remotes. If you've been to my house, you have seen no less than 10 remotes sitting in front of my Bronco chair. I know this because I just walked out and counted them! :-) Now the example: we'll pretend for a moment that Burt is an unbeliever and I have arrived in his living room to share my witness. I see Burt fumbling with the TV remote, trying to turn up the stereo to drown me out. He senses what is coming and wants to hide from the conviction the Holy Spirit will bring. I see his difficulty and rush to help, but, instead of sharing the Good News, I start "fixing" his remotes and other devices, connecting this and that, programming one remote to operate another device and so on. In presenting a strength of mine, I forget to share what Burt really needs, the light of Jesus.

We all want to show off our strengths, that is human nature. God wants us to share the Good News. What may open a closed door is not our strengths, though God can and will use those too, but a weakness. As many of you can attest, we have shared more through our weaknesses than our strength. A weakness can also become a strength too! I have counseled others with similar problems to mine because of the fact that God has led me through a dark valley and I have found His strength in my weakness. In the depths of your weakness this may not seem possible, but trust God in this; it is possible!

Woops, this has become one of those devotionals where I don't want to stop writing. I pray that each of you enjoys a wonderful day in Christ Jesus!


Thursday, March 05, 2009

Not Seriously Enough - March 5, 2009

Good Thursday morning! Is there a holiday to celebrate today? No? Well, I guess we'll have to make one up. Call it "FoM" for Fifth of March. Today we can celebrate FoM! Happy FoM! I think I've finally gone off the deep end...

This morning I read an article where the author states something like, "In the fullness of time, when I go to reside in hell, that's what I'll see the devil sipping..." I about dropped the magazine! Is the author crazy? How can he speak of hell so flippantly? I see that taking the gentle approach to sin and hell has been a mistake. We should warn unbelievers about hell in the strongest terms. During my teen years, one of the most frightening sermons had to be one on the dangers of hell and what the Bible says about that dreadful place. We stopped hearing sermons of this type at some point, but perhaps we need to revisit those sermons. People are not taking their eternal disposition seriously anymore. Hell is a place of eternal punishment! The devil does not rule there, the punishment will not be a tickling of the feet in a warm bath, and there will be no light except that of God's heavenly realm far away. Alone, in darkness and pain, seperated from God forever, why would anyone want to go to such a place? One reason is that they refuse to believe in God and do not feel the need to take hell seriously; the other reason is much worse... we haven't done our job in letting people hear the Good News about Jesus Christ, or the terrible other side of ignoring that good news - eternal punishment.

When we are saved by Jesus we no longer have to fear hell. However, before I was saved I often felt tremendous fear over what might happen to me if God said "I don't know you" at that time of judgment. Sharing our faith and witness may not involve trying to frighten someone to death at first, but if your loved one will not respond to anything else, perhaps a discussion of what they think will happen to them in the next life will open their eyes. For my other blog I will work on showing what the Bible has to say about hell. Not a comfortable subject, but the Bible is a comfortable place to go! I am working on the piece for why we pray, but should have a rough draft of that finished this morning... after I go fishing for dead fish that is. :-)

God bless you on this wonderful FoM!


Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Mistakes - March 4, 2009

Happy Wednesday morning! We are enjoying a warm week out here with temps in the 70's and gentle winds. It is however only March and we might just be enjoying a blizzard at any time too. The devotional I have shared today is from the daughter of Pastor Robert H. Schuller. I think we know of another possibility during this time... one where the career changer is not jumping ship, but is tossed off the stern. Some of us have suffered a layoff from our former jobs, but I notice that many have not. Times are tough, especially for those looking to retirement funds to sustain them and for those looking for new jobs. However, God has allowed about 93% of the working population to remain employed even during this depression/recession or whatever the term-of-the-day is for the economy.

Have you made a mistake that you have regretted? Today I read that the pilot of the plane that crashed in San Diego a while back had the opportunity to make an over-water approach to a different airfield. As you may have read in the news, the decision to try for a land-locked base led to the deaths of four civilians on the ground. You may think a decision of yours is bad, but we can see from many examples that it probably could have been much worse. We do not always make the right decision, but we can count on God to bring us to the place where He would have us to be. Mistakes can haunt us, but they shouldn't. Let go of regret and live for Jesus! But what if the mistake we made was so bad the someone else died because of it? Well, you can't bring them back and living in regret won't do anyone any good. Turn to Jesus and trust in Him for healing, and be sure to ask forgiveness both of our Lord and those you may have hurt.

Have a great day in the Lord!


Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Turn to Jesus! - March 3, 2009

Good Tuesday morning! Today is a square day. Eh? I mean that the date forms a square as in 3/3/09 - 3x3=9. You mean some people are worried about that? Yeah, I heard it on the news this morning and of course cannot get it out of my head now. The next one will be April 4, 2016 in case you want to mark your calendar. Everywhere we look we can find things to worry about that will turn our heads from the main goal of glorifying our Father in heaven. If it isn't a little thing, then we find a big thing. The stock market dropped again, more fighting in a far country, and other news events bombard us throughout the day. Do you suppose we are in a testing phase now?

This morning, as I read the news about yet another drop in our stocks, I thought that perhaps God is testing to see how many of us will turn completely to trusting Him and how soon we will get to it. If you are trusting in the remains of your stock fund or in that one little pile of shares, it looks like a good time to realize that trusting in God is the way to go. If you are trusting in the government as it pours billions into a seemingly bottomless pit, maybe now would be a good time to turn to Jesus. If you are trusting in your worries to guide you, clinging to your problems like a barnacle on a sinking ship, you might just want to look for the hand of God reaching out to save you from this world. The time has definitely come for us to trust fully and only in God.

This is also a good time to support each other in this. Tell your friends and neighbors to turn to Jesus. We already see the difficulty in trusting in the things of this world. I see a great revival coming as people start wondering just who can be trusted and where they can safely place their faith. Let us all get ready to point to the Way and reflect the Light!

Rest your trust in God today,


Monday, March 02, 2009

Let Jesus Finish His Work in You - March 2, 2009

Good Monday morning, and welcome to March too! The month came in very quietly around here, but out east a storm has left a bunch of snow to start their week. What headline caught my eye this morning? After the storm tidings, I noticed one article that asked "Are you your own worst doctor?" My answer: probably. Self diagnosis is probably not a good way to figure out what is bothering me, especially in light of all the advertisements and articles telling us how messed up we are in this life. We have so many burdens to carry, and yet we grab for more at the first opportunity. Paul wrote about doing those things that he did not want to do. Things haven't changed for us; we still do the things we don't want to do. I find it amazing that we begin with the perfect example Jesus, hence the name Christ-ones or Christians, and then we have a major figure who is very much like all of us in one or more ways. Paul started out zealously persecuting Christians, met Jesus and turned completely the other way, but still had a lot of problems. We do much the same, though perhaps not as dramatically, in our lives. We go our own way, meet Jesus, turn completely around, and then have problems doing what we know is right. Why are we not immediately made like Jesus?

The problem might be in our perception that Jesus intended for us to become instantly like him when we come to believe. The Christ-ones that Paul persecuted were known as followers of the Way. Jesus called himself the Way, the Truth, and the Light in John 14:6. The Way brings to mind a journey. We don't start a journey at the finish or destination, we start at the beginning. Each of us begins following the Way by learning from and trusting in Jesus. We are not immediately and fully like him, but he leads us to that place and forges us to be like him over our lifetimes. Paul wanted to be just like Jesus back then and we want to be just like him now, but as Paul found out, we must all complete the journey first. Paul used "run the race" to illustrate this. Whether you want to run the race, complete the journey, or reach the goal, you can rest assured that Christ will complete the work in you that he began on the day you first believed. We studied that verse in Philippians a couple weeks ago, but I keep coming back to that in my prayer life. Patience, endurance, and consistent effort are required of us on this great journey, but most of all we must trust in Jesus to do His work in us. Do you know how to save or sanctify yourself? I don't either. Doesn't it make more sense to leave that to the One who does know? Praise God for His saving and sanctifying work in us!