Thursday, April 30, 2009

Bible Study - April 30, 2009

Good Thursday morning! The nice spring days and their associated thunderstorms have arrived. We had a good rain last night with just a bit of hail mixed in. Last night marked the final Bible study for this session, about eight months worth of Wednesday evening meetings to study God's word together and in depth. Last night we shared what the book of Philippians meant to each of us. What a wonderful sharing experience in Christ! If you are not part of an in-depth Bible study, I highly recommend finding one. Our group follows the school year, others go all year or even just for a season. I think it is good to have a break; Bible study is mentally challenging. I have yet to find a book with more spiritual depth, personal meaning, complexity, and history as the 66 individual books that make up our Bible. The great thing is that in all its complexity it comes down to one simple thing - believe in Christ Jesus! When we believe, amazing vistas open up in the Bible that only come from the revelation of the Holy Spirit.

Discovery is a fun thing. Many folks feel the urge to discover, whether it is the archaeologist looking for old treasures, the scientist looking for the secrets of creation, or you and I looking for some revelation on a show or in a novel, we like to discover something. How many haven't felt the lure of discovering a treasure trove hidden somewhere? The Bible contains a rich treasure, if we will take the time to search the scriptures.

Have a wonderful Thursday; trust in God!


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Price to Pay - April 28, 2009

Good Tuesday morning! I felt like a little Christmas music this morning. Yes, the end of April might be just a bit early for some, but I'm ready for the joyous sounds of Christmas. The house seems a bit down today, neither my computer nor my self wanted to spring out of slumber this morning. The self part is my own fault; I stayed up reading late into the night and then finished the book when I woke up this morning at 0600. The book is the classic A Bridge Too Far by Cornelius Ryan. Cornelius, now there's a name you don't hear much anymore. The story documents the attempt to liberate Holland in World War II via a huge airdrop. Had the operation worked, the war might have been ended in 1944, at least in the European theatre. What strikes me about this story is the destruction that took place to liberate the countries of Europe.

God warns us about pride. What can happen when that warning is ignored? Hitler sought greatness and many people paid with their lives, both soldiers and civilians. Even among those who survived the war, a price was paid throughout their lives. If you or I give in to pride we may not end up destroying half the world, but somewhere a price must be paid. If we have given in to pride in the past with words like "I believe in me" or other times we told the Lord that he was not needed at the time, we owe a price for that. Thank God that Jesus paid that price and we are forgiven!

Enjoy the freedom of salvation!


Monday, April 27, 2009

The Assurance of Reassurance - April 27, 2009

Good Monday morning! What better day than Monday to give the assurance of reassurance? We have the assurance of eternal life from God. We believe in His Son and we are saved. Assured, solid, known, the promise of God; you can count on it with both hands and your toes and nothing can change God's great assurance. What about until then? This life brings a lot of worrisome or outright scary things. Today we have news of more job losses, each one a person with needs and cares; we also have a new swine flu epidemic to worry about, and the spectre of terrorism has not diminished. Where does a person turn for reassurance? Of course we know that we turn to the same place we received our assurance from, Jesus!

In the same gospels where we find John 3:16, our assurance, we find a little story about the lilies of the field. Remember how those flowers do not sew or reap and yet our Heavenly Father takes care of them? This reassurance about our earthly life came from the same person who gave us our assurance of eternal life. Jesus did not forget about the living we need down here on earth; he was here when he gave both assurances. Jesus knew our situation because He came down from Heaven and lived it. Even the world acknowledges that Jesus did live. Some may not want to acknowledge that He lives, but they do acknowledge that he lived. We know that He lives and since He lives, we have both assurance of eternal life and reassurance that our needs will be met today.

Speaking of needs, I had a fun memory this weekend after seeing an odd commercial about vans. In the 70's you may remember the custom vans that were all the rage for a while. Growing toward adulthood (still not sure if I'm there yet) at that time, I hoped and prayed for one of those vans. Around 30 years later I still do not have one and I have lived just fine without it. That desire evidently didn't match a need and it was fun to remember how much I thought that I needed one of those vans. I am glad our Abba knows exactly what I need and sometimes tells me "no, you don't need that." :-)

What else can we recall about the lilies of the field? I like the part where even though Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed as one of these... Jesus reminded us that we are much more valuable to God than those flowers. Much more valuable than... I can live with that!

Have a wonderful new week in Jesus!


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Wandering Minds - April 25, 2009

Good Saturday morning! In reading the LWF devotional this morning, I still catch myself looking for that warehouse full of bread. Catching your mind wandering into thoughts that are not good for you is one of the areas in which you must remain vigilant. You sit in God's grace, enjoying the day, and seemingly all of the sudden, you are thinking about that car, a woman, a man, a lottery prize, something you shouldn't buy, and the list goes on. While the thoughts will come, what you should not do is dwell on them. Put them away, shove 'em out the door, or do whatever it takes to get your mind back on the things of Christ. Easy? I will never pretend that it is. Only in the Holy Spirit do we have the strength to return our mind to the good things of Jesus. I might sound like a broken record, but... trust in God.

Okay, so do I have it all figured out? My mind constantly on alert for the wrong thoughts, no temptation dares approach the strong tower? Hardly! We encourage and support each other because this life is so very difficult. Paul talks of running and striving; Jesus reminds us that what is impossible for us is possible for God, all to point out that this lifelong test we endure will not be a quiet, easy journey. The interesting thing is that in this life we start out in pride, give up our pride to Jesus, and then end this life proud of what Christ has done in us. Will anyone end up proud of what he has done? Only if that person knows how to save himself. I certainly don't, and I suspect that you don't either. We trust in Christ because we don't know the way. However, by giving our lives to Christ we come to know the Way!

Have a great weekend in Christ!


Friday, April 24, 2009

Conversation Killer - April 24, 2009

Good Friday morning! Are you a conversation killer? I have done this more than once. I must admit to killing conversations. Guilty as charged. The the last time this happened was in the question of the economy. How are you going to make it? What are you going to do? Of course, my first answer is: Trust in God! Two other guys were in the car and they immediately began to converse on something else. I am glad that God has prepared me to keep company with myself a lot, because it was a while before they wanted to hear from me again. It was as though I had some sort of condition that had suddenly manifested itself and would later go away if ignored.

You have experienced similar moments I am sure. We don't want to go away from the person or persons, we still love them and want to talk to them. However, there are times that the mention of God or Jesus will cause defenses to immediately come up. That is going to happen. The good news about that is the Holy Spirit must be working on them for the conviction of their hearts to prick them so quickly. I remember when I didn't want to hear about God or Jesus back in the day. The reasoning was that I felt guilty enough on Sunday; why cause myself more stress by a reminder of my sin during the week too? However, that was a classic case of treating the symptom; the underlying sickness still needed treatment with the blood of Christ.

The best thing to do after whacking a conversation like that is to pray for those folks. We will not always be around to see the harvest. Sewing the seed might be our job in this life. The Holy Spirit will continue to work on those you love, and as you and I know, the Holy Spirit is a very persistent fellow. Trust in God and live with Christ! We will see the harvest; even if one particular plant is not ours to reap.

Have a loving Friday in Christ Jesus!


Thursday, April 23, 2009

That Rickety Chair of Pride - April 23, 2009

Good Thursday morning! Have you parked your butt on that rickety chair again? You might not know which chair I'm writing about this morning, but last night I felt prompted to ponder that chair once more. The chair I write about this morning is called Pride. We sometimes find our place on that chair when we should be walking with Jesus. The world would have us believe in our selves and have therefore no need for a god, much less God. When sitting on that rickety chair of Pride, we try to take God's place. A sure sign of this is when you or I start using "I am" when we shouldn't. Now this is not the English "I am", but the Hebrew "I Am" that is the name of God. While sitting on that chair we may not realize that we are using the name reserved for God alone, but when we try to shut out God, that is what is happening.

Why do I call it a rickety chair? We know through the Holy Spirit that we are weak, stubborn, sinful, given to lust, covetous, and yes, proud in our human nature. All of that is from the stain of sin. In pride we say that "I Am" basically good. We might even try to include others in that to help support the rickety chair of Pride. "All humans are basically good at heart." You have heard that said before. If that were true we wouldn't need the boatload of laws and law enforcement personnel that we have today. That old chair looks a little shaky there. Pride also tells us to say that "I Am" good at something without giving the glory to God. Taking credit unto my self for talent or attributes that God has given to me is pride. In that case, I use my own gifts as supports for that chair of Pride and try to ignore God or at least place him at a distance.

Did you ever realize that the reason for that old Deist philosophy is to get God out of the way? Deism is the belief that God created the universe, wound it up like a watch, and then stood back to just, um, watch. Believing this allows a person to mount that rickety high chair of Pride because God is placed at a distance. Since He only watches, then all accomplishments are "mine". God doesn't interfere in our lives, or help out in any way, and so a person can then claim ownership of gifts, inventions, time, money, physical attributes, and anything else that might help support that Pride. Ah, but we know that God is right here, right now, and cares very much about each of us.

So what brings that prideful, creaking, shaking, chair down? A stiff breeze? Well, in a sense, yes. The chair we build when trying to sit on what we think is God's throne is often knocked down by just a little puff of the Holy Spirit. When I think back to the times when I have fallen off that chair I built, I find that a small event for God can be a very large event for me. When we give our lives to Christ, He cares enough to knock down our little Pride chairs. Looking up from a spiritually prostrate position, we see that God is very firmly on His throne, thank you very much, and that the Holy Spirit is busy sweeping away the little sticks of our Pride chair. We enjoy God's correction in our lives.

What about those who suffer the same or very similar events as we have and yet, they don't believe in God? Pride may be a rickety chair, but denial of that pride can be very strong. God will not force belief in Jesus and this allows pride to continue in some folks. You have probably heard them in person and on the telly, "I" recovered from this, "I" picked myself up from that, or "I" accomplished through "my" own skill, talent, training, etc...a lot of "I" and no glory for God. In their pride, people can and do ignore God, taking all the credit, glorifying themselves, and polishing their chair of Pride. The chair is just as rickety and shaky as any we have built, but they cannot realize it while ignoring God. Sometimes it borders on the ridiculous. Something happens in their life, everyone can see their Pride chair has fallen, but the person will continue proclaiming their "I Am" from the pile of sticks that was their "throne". Praise God that once in a while a person does look up from that pile of pride sticks and takes hold of God's hand. I did, you did, and anyone can look up from a shattered pride and give that old prideful self to Jesus.

One major benefit of giving up your self to Christ is in the Holy Spirit reminding you that all good things come from God. "I" didn't pick myself up from this event; God picked me up, dusted me off, and said, "walk with Me." Forgiveness for building that little, shaky, mockery of a throne is so wonderful! I pray that everyone will see God and know that He is God and "I" ain't.

Have a great day in Christ Jesus!


Monday, April 20, 2009

On Time and In Charge! - April 20, 2009

Good Monday morning! The cats are making their presence known this morning; not quite sure what the disagreement is about, but there it is. Today I also thought that I might be a hypocrite. I don't want to wait on the Lord, but I make others or even the cat wait on me. How does one set priorities without making someone else wait? In a corporate environment I could see a person constantly going from one task or meeting to another without ever getting his or her own tasks completed simply by not making others wait. Perhaps the question is not one of hypocrisy as much as one of wondering: How does the Lord do it? I mean how does the Lord pay attention to all of us all of the time?

We may have to wait on the Lord. I don't have a problem with waiting as I know that His timing is perfect. However, at the same time billions of people, whether they will acknowledge Him or not, are praying, living, learning, dying, and ignoring God all at the same time. Even if only a million or so people are praying to Him right now, how does God hear them all? I can't even listen to two people at the same time. Of course, you can see that I am asking in light of my own human limitations. God is not limited by two human ears and one human brain. Our Lord is also not limited by time and space as we are. As I try to imagine God listening to a million prayers at once, I am suddenly struck by the fact that God hears all the prayers that have ever been made or will be made to Him right now. God is also aware of every little subatomic reaction going on in a universe we cannot comprehend! How does He do it? I cannot even begin to imagine, but I am glad that He is in charge! :-)

Have a great day in Christ!


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Repent and Rejoice! - April 19, 2009

Good Sunday morning! The sun is shining brightly after two days of rain. I don't have to be a prophet to predict some green grass and plants around here very soon. Are you ready for recovery? Do you feel the sun shining after the storm? I believe that the end has not come just yet. We have a mighty and awesome God who is greater than the problems we see now! Trust in God and live your dreams. These days it would be easy to give in to despair. The attitude of gloom might cause us to not plant a garden because "it will just get hailed out." I figure that there are two ways to get nothing from a garden, a disaster like a sudden storm, or not planting it at all. If I go ahead and plant, I will at least have the benefit of the exercise and watching the little plants grow. I cannot pray for a garden that I did not plant.

Ministers today are calling for repentance and rejoicing. The repentance part is easy to understand in these dark times, but the rejoicing might seem a bit out of place. However, God calls us to repent and rejoice; His ministers are simply following our Lord Jesus.
If we only rejoice in the easy times how will people know that we belong to the Lord? Anyone can rejoice when winning the lottery; in Christ we rejoice when losing a job because we know that God has new things in store for us. In Christ we rejoice even when grieving for the death of a loved one for we know that God has taken them home to be with Him. In Christ we rejoice when it seems to the world that we should not. That is how the world knows that we belong to Jesus. Rejoicing at those times is not easy, and we must trust in God to give us the strength to let our light shine.

Have a blessed Sunday in Christ!


Friday, April 17, 2009

To Job or not to Job - April 17, 2009

Good Friday morning! A very spring-like rain shower is dominating our weather this morning, and we are grateful to God for the moisture. Friday seems like a good day for encouragement. As the LWF devotional reminds us, we are to encourage each other in our daily prayers and lives. Wherever you find yourself today, God can use you to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. You may not think that your job, of lack thereof, is the place that God wants you to be. You may be correct in that, but that does not mean that God will just let you rot out back in some kind of Christian holding area. That didn't sound very encouraging, did it? Actually, I think the only holding area for Christians is in God's great love. Whether you are busy night and day or in a state of wondering "what should I do now?" we are in the holding area of God's grace and love.

I read in an article on unemployment, and there do seem to be a lot of these as of late, that one of the most difficult things is in the waiting. I had an advantage that many do not enjoy, I felt the call of God to move on to a different career, one that I could start immediately. Most folks search for jobs and do interviews if they can, but the toughest part is all that new time, the gaping maw of the open schedule. We came from corporate America where we had our schedules filled by the demands of our bosses, users, or machines in some way almost every moment of each day. Suddenly... nothing is on the schedule! That condition we dreamed of for years has arrived... and we immediately fear and hate it. :-) Where is God leading you in your current state?

If you have the security of a job, you probably fear giving it up to start a new career. You may have your dream job, but now fear the company won't last. If you don't have a job, you may fear never finding one again - some areas of the world can't even produce a want ad or interview to get ready for, much less a new job for someone. The snap answer to something like that is to pack up and move. That answer may be wrong! We learned in our Bible lesson last night that we need to have compassion. This means that a little thought and empathy should go into our suggestions and answers for others. Often we jump into a problem solving mode for another person without listening and learning first. Jesus asked one man if he wanted to be healed before solving the man's problem. Last night, I was reminded of the old comedy skit where the man with a big nose goes into the plastic surgeon's office for a consultation. Of course the surgeon jumps to the conclusion that the man wants his schnozzle shrunken and launches into his problem solving mode. We have seen it played out in comic strips and comic shows, but the joke is always on the surgeon as the man has some other problem that is not immediately visible. We too can fall into that "I know your problem and here's the answer you need" mentality without taking the time for prayer and compassion first.

The other side is of course to jump on the defensive when a brother or sister in Christ approaches you with a suggestion. Hey, maybe your spiritual honker needs a little adjustment; don't let it get bent out of joint at every suggestion! :-) I have found some of my greatest growth in Christ in the area of listening without getting defensive, also that I still have room for improvement in this area. Losing a job will bring out suggestions from a lot of people, as will getting married or divorced, or many other events that happen in our lives. We could spend all of our short lives in a defensive mode if we wanted. However, it could be that God has sent someone to warn you, or more likely, to help you. Take time to listen today, and if you are the one called to help, take time to help out today. :-)

Have a smiley day in Christ Jesus!


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Focus on God's Power - April 16, 2009

Good Thursday morning! No sunshine this morning, only clouds to see in our sky. What is at the center this morning? Is it your job, family, friends, the economy, our government, news events around the world, or is it God who occupies the center of your thoughts? I have noticed that finding someone to pray for is quite easy when reading a newspaper these days. On every page of a news website or a newspaper one can find a person hurt, or jobs lost, or a calamity of some sort; people to pray for are all over the news. Christians everywhere have the privilege of bringing many before God in prayer. While it may not be good to immerse yourself in all of the news reports each day, each of us might take the time to pick out one person we don't know in the news and pray for that person for a day. Perhaps a company or a nation is more to your calling, pray for a group of people for a day. We often focus on our powerlessness or weakness in this world. Let us instead take up prayer for someone and focus on our Almighty God. The Creator of all that we can see has not left the world on its own.

We know from our own lives that God is still in control, and we know that He lets everyone make his or her own decisions too. How can both of those go on at the same time? I don't know, but I cannot understand all of the thoughts of God. I am glad that God's thoughts are as far above my own as the heavens are above the earth. The world seems very dark to us, and indeed the means to carry out the end times are almost in place, but the light of Jesus still shines into this darkness. Trust in God to take care of you and me, and take everything to Him in prayer.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

No Rushing or Pushing! - April 15, 2009

Good Wednesday morning! I'm up a bit late, but feeling much better than yesterday. Do you suppose the bad days we have are a reminder that God is still here with us? On a good day, one on which we feel great and the pains are far away, we might tend to look away from Jesus in our search for answers. A bad day can bring our vision back to where we should be looking all of the time. Perhaps a bad day is just, well, a bad day, and we have them to learn endurance and patience. In any case, there is little doubt that spring is once more trying to elbow Old Man Winter out of the way in these parts. The cold days are numbered for this season and the warmer times are here. Unfortunately, the change means that wind is the main subject in our weather today and I hear it starting up already. Why can't my good days coincide with the weather's good days? :-) I am at odds with the world.

Duh! Jesus told us that the world would hate us for loving Him and because it hated Him first. I'm not sure that He was referring to the weather, but then again He didn't exclude any part of the world when telling the disciples that the hatred would come. Speaking of the times, we seem to be at odds with animals too. Some would have us walk away and leave the earth to the animals, others want to hug and feed wild animals, which, if successful, would make them no longer wild. A prophecy in the Bible, Daniel's I think, speaks of the lion lying down with the lamb while the little child leads them. The time for this has not yet come as certainly the lion would eat them both in our world. For many promises, the time has not yet come. We do suffer much in this world, and we cannot hug and pet wild animals. We must wait for the Lord to fulfill His own promises in His own time. Much as I would like to rush events and push the timing, the fact is I don't know where to rush to or in what direction to push. Trusting in God means that we don't try to grab the wheel and take a short cut. Live for the day trusting in God and enjoy the work our Lord has given you!

God be praised!


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Always Here With Us - April 14, 2009

Good Tuesday morning. Every day the Holy Spirit sends us messages of hope, joy, love, peace, and comfort. You might wonder about the days when it seems that pain takes center stage in your life. Does the pain block the messages? We may not want to listen for the words of comfort from the Spirit on those days, but the message is still there. In our pain we may miss the words that usually come first: "I will never leave you nor forsake you..." There was a little reminder for us all. Jesus is with us always, especially in those times of trial that will come to all of us. While the words were spoken directly to the disciples, Jesus made sure that someone recorded His reassurance for all of us. Never is too long for me to imagine, but right now is good enough for me. Thank you Lord for being with me and all my friends in Christ at all times.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Looking Forward - April 13, 2009

Good Monday morning! If you are like Jesus, you look forward to the rapture of the church. Yes, it's true that Jesus is already in heaven with God. However, I believe that Jesus looks forward to the rapture even more than we do. He longs to be united with His church, his bride. This subject often comes up during the Easter celebration as we recall Jesus' own ascension. We might wonder why he didn't take us up with him the first time. Jesus answered that very question before we even asked it when he reminded the disciples that it was better that he leave them. With Jesus' ascension, the Holy Spirit came into the hearts of believers everywhere. You and I enjoy the companionship of God's own spirit as we face the trials of life. I am never alone; you are never alone; we all have the Holy Spirit within us each and every day. What a glorious gift we have as we go through this tough life.

Enjoy a heavenly Monday in Christ!


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter! - April 12, 2009

Happy Easter morning! Today we think of new beginnings, of spring, of growth, and of victory. From the darkness sprung the light of the world. It is interesting that we don't know for sure what day Christ's birth falls on, but we know very well the days when his death and resurrection occurred because of the Passover and sabbath observances. We celebrate Christmas with all our strength, but it is like God wanted us to make sure that Easter held the top spot. We even know the times of day that events happened that first Easter. Something happened to make Jesus death and resurrection so critical that God had the days and times recorded for us. However, we should not get caught up in the details, but remember that Christ arose! Jesus not only died for us, but lives again for us. In all the details, one stands out - He lives! This goes against all we learn about death through our life experiences. In your life you have said goodbye to pets, relatives, friends, and even famous people. Today we celebrate the one who died and rose again. From this we learn that we do not share a sympathetic sorrow, but a joyous hope. Christ is not dead; He died and lives again. Greet each other with the joy of Jesus: Christ is Risen!

He is risen indeed!


Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Dark Day - April 11, 2009

Good Saturday morning! Easter weekend and Saturday is what would have been the Sabbath in about the year 30 A.D. We don't know for sure what Jesus did on this day. Did he finally give in to the Pharisees' demands and rest for the entire Sabbath? As I learn more about Jesus, I tend to think that He did more work on this day than at any other time. We know from His resurrection that He gained the victory over death and the grave. What combat or work might that have required on that long ago Sabbath? This is at least one day Jesus spoke of earlier when He told the leading priests that they could not come where He was going. The disciples did not go with him on this day. We know from the gospel accounts that they at first scattered and later came back together in secret; meeting behind locked doors. After fearlessly following their leader for about three years, the disciples became terrified without him. It seemed for the day that Jesus had gone back on his word of never leaving nor forsaking them.

We will endure dark days and like those disciples we must trust in a Lord we cannot see or touch. We will face fear and loneliness when we know in our hearts that He will return soon. The disciples had been told that Jesus would return. However, for a brief time they faced an uncertain future. Tomorrow, we will celebrate what changed those fearful few into a dynamic force of change in the Roman world. Glory to God in the highest!


Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday - April 10, 2009

Good morning on this Good Friday! How can I write about anyone other than Jesus today? Today we recall what has come to be known as Good Friday on the calendar. On this day almost 2,000 years ago, a man died on the cross. The Romans crucified many during their day. In fact two others also died on the cross on that same day. Somehow this one man stands out from all the others. The Roman governor, Pilate, posted a sign above this particular man. The sign read: Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. The Jews tried to have Pilate change his sign to read "He said, I am King of the Jews," but Pilate, finally showing a little backbone, refused to change the sign.

Many of us can be like Pilate in our lives. Turning this way and that until finally - enough! - and we start making decisions for ourselves. I see many in this world like that. They know that something is missing in their lives and they turn from one religion to another, away from religion entirely, and then back to some other belief. Eastern religions often have a strong theme of self-denial that appeals to many, and seekers will often look that way. Although persons of great intellectual accomplishments may deny it, I see little difference between them and simpler folk in this matter. Everyone seeks and everyone finds something. However, in the end there seems to be only two directions. In one the seeker finds a 'religion' that suits his own self, placing the seeker in the center. The other direction places God in the center and the seeker in need of salvation. Many religions will claim the latter, but there is one important and defining difference. That man on the cross. Do you believe that he died for our sins and rose again on the third day?

Have a great Easter weekend in Christ!


Thursday, April 09, 2009

The Start - April 10, 2009

Good Thursday morning! Today is the traditional start of the Easter holiday for some folks. If I am not mistaken, on this day Jesus held his last talks with the disciples and spent much time in prayer. He imparted many final instructions and prophecies to the small group of men and women who would soon set the world on fire through the Holy Spirit. He also knew everything that would soon happen. In most cases, we are more frightened by the future because we don't know what will happen. However, in light of what Jesus endured, I'm not so sure that I would want to know all of it! What I am not so surprised by is that Jesus began the entire process. Notice that until Jesus gave the command, Judas did not take off to get the temple guards and Roman soldiers who would make the arrest. Today, Jesus would have given Judas the gps coordinates to the place of his own arrest. That all seems very strange and quite contrary to the actions of a criminal. "I know you're going to betray me, go get the cops and meet me here for the arrest." We know that Jesus had a higher purpose in mind, in fact the highest purpose... the salvation of the world!

Later, a series of staged trials would begin that would come to the rather absurd charge of: "We wouldn't have brought him to you if he weren't a criminal." Imagine what a judge would say if I grabbed you on the street walking your dog, took you to court, and used that line when asked what crime had been committed. The judge might commit me somewhere if I tried a stunt like that, but back in the day they condemned Jesus to death. That was not the end of the story though!

Have a great Easter weekend!


Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Don't Always Follow - April 8, 2009

Good Wednesday morning! Ah, the nice weather yesterday could almost make one believe that spring will arrive at last. I'm a bit distracted by all the ideas running through my head today. Concentration on the task at hand may be my trial for this day. However, I have learned that it is bad to let the ideas escape and will jot them down as they come to me. I'm writing kinda slow anyway today, something doesn't seem to be clicking in my devotional writing brain today. What's best for me... Do you sometimes catch yourself thinking of something that is best or easiest for you and realize suddenly that the solution you thought of is not good for someone else? Each of us exists in our own mind and body, of course we will often think of what is best for us first. However, we are set free in Christ. Free to think of others as well as ourselves. While selfish thoughts will occur, we don't have to stand on the pillar of self.

Do you blame your self for the stray thoughts that come to mind from time to time? I have blamed myself, but I wonder if that blame is not misplaced. In this world we will have arousing thoughts come to our minds. The task is then not to dwell on what is obviously a sinful thought. A glance at another person doesn't have to become an idle daydream. A thought of injustice doesn't have to turn into a revenge fantasy. We don't always have to follow where the thought leads. I'm not saying this will be easy of course. Daydreaming comes easily to us all. I might be writing this for tomorrow if I don't get going here. I'll blame the cat; he's getting a lot of attention this morning. :-)

Yours in Christ Jesus,


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

What You Choose - April 7, 2009

Good Tuesday morning! Melting, melting, the world is all melting snow. Much of our "snow pack" will be gone today; icebergs will head south, or north, west, and east depending upon how the street is sloped. Yes, say goodbye to the snow as the temps are expected to be in the 60's today and tomorrow. Weather changes everything.

Does that last statement seem a bit over the top to you? Quite a few exceptions to that statement probably came to your mind. How about this one? "People are basically good!" We have read or listened to that one many times in our short lives, and repetition seems to be at odds with something. The Bible says a couple of things on that matter, such as: there is none good, no not one; and, for all have sinned and fallen short of God's glorious standard. Apparently the world and the Bible are at opposite ends on this one. Are we basically good at heart or not? I don't have to answer that one for you. My arguments will be accepted or rejected depending upon what you believe already. For the matter isn't how well a politician or you or me can argue the point, but in what the person chooses to believe. You can believe Jesus and His holy word, and come to realize that all of us are sinners in need of the one true savior. Or, we can believe the world and think that our basic goodness will save us. The Bible is very clear on what will happen to those who think that they can be good enough to save themselves. Of course, those who reject the Gospel will not care much about what the Bible says. We can pray for them and continue living the Good News.


I have the answer to the question: why do we have hands? You might think of things like: to build civilizations, to feed ourselves, to grab fruit off trees, and other inconsequentials, but the real answer is to skritch kitties. Yup, I have one firm vote for that answer right now. Your dog might, of course, beg to differ.

Monday, April 06, 2009

A Little Dishonesty? - April 6, 2009

Good Monday morning! The streets are a bit inconvenient today, but the town folks should be able to get to work and school. Ya'll enjoy that trip today; my work is right here in my home. One good thing about a spring blizzard: when the sun comes out the light is quite blinding. Don't stare outside without a good pair of sunglasses. Sorry, I'm a bit late today. I got caught up listening to Casting Crowns' album The Altar and the Door; you might want to purchase that one by the way. If you just said, "I'll have ol' Bob burn it for me," then shame on you. Some aspects of dishonesty are easy to fall into these days. Friends might offer to record a copy of a movie or album to "try it out", and then forget to buy their own copy.

Broadcast radio - you know, that old AM and FM thing - spoiled us with free music. Artists and music companies used the medium to advertise their product, hoping that people would go out and buy their albums. Broadcast radio and television were of course supported by advertising. Without launching into a lengthy discussion of the history of information mediums and media or as we often hear now, long story short. Dishonesty has become rather endemic to our culture. People think the government owes them support, government workers are widely known as being less productive than their corporate counterparts, military folks tend to equate tax money with free money (I was there), people cheat on their taxes, and then we have the widespread little cheating: copying of software, music, and video.

Why so much dishonesty? Has the pressure to succeed in this world become so intense that people must cheat? The condition may exist in us from the beginning. The urge to take the easy way is probably a part of that sinful nature we inherit from being born into the human race. A child or pet can be trained toward honesty by the threat of punishment. However, that sort of training can break down as soon as the threat is removed. Most of us have experienced at least some, shall we say, "less than perfect" behavior from going off to college. Our parents, teachers, and pastors, were no longer watching us and we tried out our new freedom in ways that disappointed our Father in Heaven. Only in Christ can we find the desire to take the right way, not to avoid punishment because someone might be watching, but to follow our Lord Jesus. Am I completely there yet? No, I have a long way to go in this race, but the Holy Spirit is showing me that there is a better way - the Way of Jesus Christ.

May God bless you on this bright day!


Saturday, April 04, 2009

Jesus Is! - April 4, 2009

Good Saturday morning! Are we buried in snow yet? No, the snow only just started this morning. I don't know if that means the expected blizzard has just begun or if we are to be missed once more. Yes, I could look on the news or at Internet weather reports, but waiting is more fun.

I have a question this morning. Why didn't Jesus come now? The technology today allows for instant transmission of images and words worldwide. The heavenly host above Bethlehem could have been transmitted live to everyone. Internet blogs and news reports could have announced the birth of Messiah to the world. With e-mail, cell phone, and IM, we could have the entire world trekking to the Holy Land to celebrate the virgin birth. Not only that, before the baby Jesus was ready for circumcision, scientists could confirm his unique genetic existence, DNA unlike any this world has seen. Jesus gave us one clue: "blessed are those who have not seen and believe."

Jesus could have appeared to the entire world in 0 BC or he could have dispatched angels to each and every person on the planet at that time. The point is not that he didn't appear now, but that you and I must trust in His timing. The written word was very valuable at the time of Christ's birth, and so was the passing of news by word of mouth. Jesus appeared on Earth when he did. The choice is still the same now as it was then. You and I can choose to believe or choose to reject Him. We do not have all manner of electronic records of Christ's birth, but we do have His Word and His Holy Spirit. Tomorrow, a new show, Who Was Jesus?, will be broadcast on the Discovery Channel. It might be fun to see what they have to say about Jesus. However, as usual the point is missed, deliberately or otherwise, as seen in the title. To me there is no "was", Jesus IS! Hallelujah!

Ah, the storm is arriving now... I can feel it in my sinuses.


Friday, April 03, 2009

Rush, rush! - April 3, 2009

Good Friday morning! Did I see yet another blizzard warning for these parts? Well, yes I did. We seem to be in a spring blizzard pattern, though we have yet to actually experience one this spring. Of course, thumbing my nose at the weather prognosticators might stir them to vengeance. :-) Be safe this weekend.

Do we have time to do what God would have us to do? I have wondered about that now and then. Does a day off mean that an opportunity is lost forever? One thing I will trust is that Jesus will never lose any of His sheep because of me. You and I do not have that responsibility. Jesus has already reported to God that He did not lose any of us. Each of us has time to take a break, time to be sick, time to take a timeout. While Jesus did say that we must quickly carry out the work assigned to us, he never said that we must run ourselves into the ground. What unbeliever would look at a nervous wreck of a Christian life and say "that's what I want"? Waiting on the Lord is among the most difficult things we will do in this life. Learning patience goes against our earthly nature.

If we must stay at home through a blizzard this weekend, how will you measure up in the area of patience? I have spring fever already, the weekend could be difficult! :-)

God loves you and so do I!


Thursday, April 02, 2009

Cutting Through - April 2, 2009

Good Thursday morning! No preposterous tales today, with the exception of the long, black one beside me attached to this cat. He informs me that is known as a "tail", not a "tale". The words sound the same. Many things in this world sound the same, but mean different things to different people. We look at our movies and television shows and realize that they are caricatures in most cases; reality stretched past the breaking point. Folks from far away countries might look at those same shows and think that is how we live. Interpretations, spin, marketing, sensationalism, and just plain old homonyms make our culture difficult to understand at times. Sadly, we often do more harm by emulating the stuff we see in our cultural interfaces. We must realize how important it becomes for us to associate with our brothers and sisters in Christ when popular culture attacks us with images of sinful lives. I too must realize this as it is now my responsibility to account for this in my stories.

So, how do we find the Good News in all of this popular clutter that is our culture? I have good news for us all! It was not by accident that the Word of Jesus was described as a double-edged sword. The Word not only divides, it also cuts through all the clutter in your mind from years of inundation in our pop culture. We do not have to read the Bible all the time, but we do need to read the Word often. Trust in Jesus by reading His Word and taking Him at his word! The promise of eternal life has been given! Hold onto that promise and spread the Good News!

Go with God on this fine day!


Wednesday, April 01, 2009

April Fool's! - April 1, 2009

Guten Tag! En supermints clam fly de goworschnickel! Am flapping hoovermull, und oer de Yancik meester vrong!


Oh boy, it must be April Fools day once more. Did you know that on this date in 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower fell for a joke played on him by Congress? Yep, the old Army general signed a bill creating the Air Force Academy. Congress thought the Army-Air Force thing would cause ol' Dwight a chuckle, but the joke turned out to be on them as they had to fund the new school once the bill became law. The Air Force Academy as we now know it began as an April Fool's prank!

Other little known facts about April 1st in our preposterous history of this day...

In 1948, as a result of further experiments in the Manhattan Project, and at the recommendation of physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, the U.S. Congress ratified a bill suspending gravity for one day each year. Although President Truman signed the bill into law, the Supreme Court cited precedent in ruling the new law unconstitutional. Majority opinion stated: "An established physical law cannot be superseded by Federal legislation simply because Congress wants to" The court also cited Oppenheimer for contempt of Congress. Chief Justice Svenbom stated: "Oppenheimer should be ashamed of himself for taking advantage of simpletons, even elected ones."

In 1913, the largest steam locomotive yet made left the yards in Philadelphia to much fanfare. Its maiden voyage was interrupted in Nebraska by large snow drifts on the tracks due to an April blizzard. Unsubstantiated reports that a local artist took the liberty of painting "Titanic" on the snowbound coal tender should not be taken seriously. However, survivors of last year's terrible maritime tragedy called the unidentified Nebraskan a "cornhusker".

In 1900, the Bureau of Standards in Washington D.C. changed the country to a new system of weights and measures for the next millennium. The new system approved by the bureau replaces common measurements with a more simplified set of measures. For example: the former units for liquid measure, liters, are now based upon the gallon. The Secretary of Weights, or SoW, explained the reason for the change: "The new system utilizes seemingly random units of conversion such as 2 cups = 1 pint, 2 pints = 1 quart, and 4 quarts = 1 gallon. Simple really, not like all that decimal point moving we had to do in the old system." When asked when conversion tables would be published to ease the transition the SoW explained that his scientists had all gone home with headaches. "But we hope to have them ready soon!" he said.