Saturday, October 31, 2009

Is This all about Me? - October 31, 2009

Happy Reformation Day! Happy Halloween! Happy Time Change... Ugh, what's with that last one? At least this is the 'fall-back' time change, we get an extra hour in the night from the one we stole last spring. Tomorrow is All Saint's Day as well. We also have a wedding anniversary tomorrow for my parents, Gordon and Wilda. My word, there does seem to be a lot to celebrate this weekend! Sorry about that time change thing though, not sure how that snuck into such an auspicious weekend. I suppose if we are going to have an hour longer weekend, we might as well have something to celebrate. :-)

Is This all about Me?

Yes, it is! At least when we are listening to God and He tells us: Think on Me, live for Me, trust in Me, and believe in My Son! When things look dark, God tells us to look to Him. When things look dark, we are usually caught looking at the wrong "me". We find ourselves looking at our own power, talent, time, energy, and other resources; and they just don't seem to measure up to the needs we see coming, or worse, only think we see coming. God alone knows what the future holds in all of its splendid detail. When we look to Him, we find that His grace is sufficient for all of our needs and every remotest possibility. Though we often imagine the wrong things in our anxiety, there is no possibility of sufficient horror to exceed God's strength!

Does your talent seem insufficient to the life you have been given? I find it interesting that in Jesus' parable of the talents, not one of the examples lost their investment. Not even the one bad example: who, finding his future too frightening and thinking his one talent insufficient, went out and buried that one talent until his lord returned. Of course, saying some very unflattering things to his lord upon their next meeting didn't help his cause, but he still had his talent until the lord took it away. Our investments on this earth seem to be fraught with risk. Who among us hasn't lost some of their invested funds these days? Right, those who had nothing to begin with. However, the talents given to us by Jesus cannot be lost, and everyone has something given by our Lord. Invest them, grow them, bring honor and glory to God!

My power is insufficient for most things, but God's power is great enough to create the heavens and the earth. I cannot even come to grips in my mind with the immensity of this planet we stand on. God created it from nothing! My mind fails at picturing the entire universe. God spoke it into existence. When we look to God, we see power that our minds cannot measure. We see riches beyond counting, patience without limit, joy unceasing, and an exact knowledge of the entire future, when we look to God and not our own self. Darkness becomes light when we seek the face of God; defeat becomes victory in His Son; despair turns to joy when we read of God's mighty promises, and the love of Jesus becomes more apparent in our lives with each passing day. On a day when we are expected to frighten each other with tales of the dark, we find comfort without end in our Lord Jesus. God tells us that: "Yes, it is indeed all about Me, the great I Am."

Enjoy the comfort of our risen Lord!


Friday, October 30, 2009

Scary Times, Great Promises! - October 30, 2009

Good Friday morning! We did not get the blizzard last night, but we do have cold and wind to greet us this morning. I see stars though, we may see the sun this morning! Wouldn't it be great to live without fear? We fear storms, darkness, heights, depths, powerful people, governments, bugs, creepy-crawlies, lions & tigers & bears, and many other things both real and imagined. We even fear old age. In Isaiah 65, God makes a few very interesting promises. In this time of economic difficulty, one stands out - no one will work in vain. Isn't that one of the fears we have today? We work and work, and then a medical condition wipes out our savings, health, home, and comfort all in one fell blow. We work and work, and then an employer goes bankrupt or cuts us loose without so much as a fare-thee-well. The promise that our work will not be in vain may not strike us where it should until we look at it from a perspective like we have now in this troubled time. The fear that all our work might be for nothing is much worse than our fear of being 'et these days. In other parts of the world, they do their work with an eye over their shoulder for fear of wild animals.

God also promises that the wolf will eat with the lamb and the lion eat hay like the cows. We hear of deaths by wild animal fairly often these days and know from prophecy that it will get worse in the end times. Just the other day I read a news report of a young lady killed by coyotes. "Very unusual", "rare", "won't happen again" were used to describe the attack. Uh huh, seems like those same words were used by the wags not that long ago when a young man was killed by wolves. We can seize on God's promise that one day, these things will be a part of the distant past. Perhaps at 500 years old we can tell a great-great-great grandson that we are old enough to remember when animals attacked us in the wild. Why 500 years? I'm just guessing, but another of God's promises is that 100 years will no longer be considered old. The Lord does not speak of an upper limit, only that 100 will not be old. Sounds pretty good to me! One of the first promises is that no longer will there be sorrow or tears. We won't be 500 years old or more and full of pain and medical conditions...our medical condition will be pain-free and healthy-perfect! Isn't it good news that Jesus will return to fulfill those promises?

The morning after a storm has passed is always good to reflect on God's wonderful promises. We won't be sitting around strumming harps for eternity; we will have work to do, but rewarding and satisfying work while praising God!

Have a wonderful day. Let the warmth in your heart stand firm against the cold outside!


Thursday, October 29, 2009

What Kind of Tree are You? - October 29, 2009

Good Thursday morning! We was promised more snow than this; I think we should write to those weatherpersons and complain. :-) Colorado received 28 inches in some places - that's a lot of snow for October. Praise the Lord! We can chose to complain about more or less snow, or any other condition...or we can chose to praise God no matter what happens. Just the same, we can choose to holler and whine about where we are or where we think we should be, or we can praise God for creating us just right.

What Kind of Tree are You?

A friend in Christ once repeated the phrase, "grow where you are planted", to me when I was looking elsewhere for greener pastures. Another phrase that we might work out in our salvation is: grow into the kind of tree that God has created. We know that in nature an acorn grows into an oak, a maple seed grows into a maple tree, and so on. An acorn doesn't try to become an apple tree and the maple doesn't try to become a fir tree. Humans on the other hand often try to grow into something other than what God created them to become. We are told in the Bible that God chose us before the world began. It then makes sense that He also arranged our genes and environment to make us into exactly what He would have us to be in His kingdom.

God planted a seed and He made it grow. You and I are those seeds that God planted. What kind of "tree" we are may not always be easy to figure out. However, constantly praying for change in life might be rebelling against what God has already created and grown. If you spent any time in the corporate world, you will know how much they try to change you. Every manager is under pressure to come up with something that is "wrong" with each employee and set up a plan for improvement. With things like procrastination, tardiness, absence from work, and other undesirable qualities, that is understandable. We know that God didn't plant worry trees or procrastination trees. :-) However, if the powers that be are trying to change something in your basic qualities that is only wrong in the context of where you are, then maybe God is going to transplant you to a different garden.

We sometimes wonder at the sudden changes in our lives. Those changes might just be God moving us from a pot that has grown too small, to a spot in His garden where we can grow again. The transplanting is painful and requires a recovery time, but is better for us in God's great plan. A lot of metaphorical stuff is going on in the devotional today, but the basic message is that God is in control and we can trust in Him. ...and I don't think that I got everything written out that I wanted. Perhaps I didn't let this idea percolate enough before pouring the coffee. I'll work on it. :-)

Enjoy the snow today in God's presence!


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bow the Head, Submit the Heart - October 28, 2009

Good Wednesday morning! Watch out for the blizzard today and tomorrow! We seem to be in the path of yet another winter storm already this season. Why do we bow the head when we pray? Is someone standing there in front of us that commands that kind of respect? Well, I think I just answered my own question! Yes, the Lord does command our respect and, yes, He stands before us, beside us and within us each moment of the day. We bow our heads to show our respect and submission to our Lord.

In this world today, we are going to see many messages about the individual. We see advertisements extolling the strength of the individual human. We see shows about how beautiful humans are, how talented a person can be, and how athletically gifted some are...and then we see the advertisements for products that will take our hard-earned money and make us into all of these things for just 20 minutes a day, three times per week! "Believe in your self!" is shouted from the rooftop antennas for all to hear. Somehow my expectations for my self seem to be falling short on many counts.

On a given day, you may also see ministers on television lifting their heads and hands to heaven. That may be good or bad, depending upon what is going on in their hearts. I wonder if any have forgotten that we must bow our heads and fold our hands in submission first? Pride in the self and its accomplishments is an ever present danger to us all.

Did you catch the show on Discovery about Satan? You may not feel the urge to do any research into the adversary, but the amusing part wasn't the cartoon characters or the history. No, the show interviewed the head dude from the Church of Satan in San Francisco. You might expect all sorts of things from this person, but what surprised me was of course what shouldn't have surprised me. The church does not believe in Satan, or God; they chose the name for its shock value. What they do believe in is the self. You got it, the Church of Satan believes in the strength of the individual. They also believe in 'do unto others as they do unto you.' Which leaves them the option of revenge, which they carry out in curses and "prayers". Of course their services can be attended in costume...or not. Why doesn't this surprise? Satan believes in himself, and so it makes perfect sense that someone who chooses to use that name on their church would also believe in and worship the self. In thinking that they have made a free choice in their own strength, they have merely followed the path of rebellion against God that many have chosen before. Pride, it's a killer.

To avoid pride, we need to remind our self, that our strength comes from the one who saved us by His sacrifice on the cross. We bow our heads in prayer to show respect for our Lord Jesus. Alone we can accomplish little; that isn't my idea or observation, Jesus said something close to that in the Bible. I believe it goes: "Human effort accomplishes little..." We would like to think that we alone have built great cities and structures, explored vast continents, figured out the human mind, cured all manner of diseases, and many other great accomplishments. The builders in Babel said something like that and God let them try it without the ability to communicate. We as a race can throw up big termite mounds and call them skyscrapers, but God is not fooled. We need salvation from Him and we need His strength to accomplish anything of lasting value. Trust only in God!

How does the writer of a devotional come up with things to write about each day? I don't know about all of 'em, but I know what happened with this one today. He bowed the head and folded the hands in prayer to Jesus. Believe in Jesus, every day!

God bless you and keep you safe on this day!


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Goofy Morning for Jesus! - October 27, 2009

Good Tuesday morning! Man, I haven't been getting my dose of comic strips in my e-mail each day for a week now! How can a person begin the day without comics? Of course, you could start by reading the daily devotional from, ahem, someone you may know. For those of you who don't read this as often as you should, I hear they are giving away $100 bills today on the corner of Oak and 10th St. Some of the Utah towns might be wondering what an "Oak St." is, but most towns do have one. Sometimes we aren't very original in our naming of streets and other things. Most towns in America have streets named after trees or presidents, usually crossing numbered streets or avenues. Most towns have a garage or two named with the owner's name (Vick's Repair!) even though you don't repair the Vick but the cars brought in. A foreigner might wonder why John always seems to need his appliances repaired (John's Appliance Repair) or why we are so worried about Dave's plumbing. We expect some things in every little town and think nothing of them on a day to day basis. What about sin? Is that the same in every town and city across the world?

Yes, we know that in every location we will find someone who has lied, someone who has stolen something, and someone who has looked at a person with lust in their hearts. Every town has liars, thieves, adulterers, murderers, and on the list goes. The worst part is: they all is us. You, I, your friend down the street, your relatives, and even that perfect neighbor, Mr. Jones; all of us have at some point in our lives committed sin. The Bible tells us that we must confess our sins, but we can't even remember all the sins we have committed with just a wandering thought or two in our lives. What if I miss one? Will that sin drag me down like a battleship anchor on a dinghy?

The good news includes a provision that we can't repent from just one or two sins. We have to repent from them all, even the ones we can't remember. We may not recall every sin, but God has given us an interpreter, an advocate, to bring our request before His throne. That little lie you forgot about in 1993? The Holy Spirit will make sure that is on the list to be forgiven. The time last year when you didn't do or say the right thing? The Holy Spirit will have it covered too. We get to repent of everything in our sin filled lives, even those things that don't immediately come to memory. All sin is forgiven through Christ's perfect sacrifice when we believe in Him.

For those of you wondering how I knew about the lie you told in 1993, remember to go down to 10th and Oak this morning. :-) Actually, I think Sidney is one of those few towns without an Oak street. Just when I had you going too! We seem to have an Osage where our Oak should be. Maybe we should change our Linden to Larch to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Monty Python's Flying Circus? Okay, I'm like way off track here. See what happens when I don't have a good breakfast before writing the devotional? A disaster, that's what it is! Who remembers that old novelty song, They're Coming to Take me Away, Ha, Ha?

Some mornings might be a bit crazy, but Jesus still loves every one of us! Have a wonderful day in Christ Jesus!


Monday, October 26, 2009

The Unsinkable Joy of Jesus - October 26, 2009

Good Monday morning! Decades after the Titanic disaster, the pieces of evidence came together to tell much of the complete story. Metallurgy, deep-sea diving and recovery, and methods of underwater location, came together to allow the site to be found and examined. The decisions that turned out badly and the collision were evident early on, but other things took longer. There is even a recent book about a ship that chose not to respond to the emergency. The consensus was however, that the proud owners had shaken their fists at God with their claim of unsinkability (that might not be an official word). Where am I going with all of this? You see there was this football game on Saturday where a team, that shall remain nameless, committed eight (8!) turnovers. Something like 5 fumbles and 3 interceptions. (8!) Of course, the team failed to win the game, but not by much. One must wonder if the coach or a player did not shake his fist at God. Other explanations for such a performance just seem too far-fetched to me.

Events occur in this life that defy a worldly explanation. The Titanic may not have been as unsinkable as the owners claimed, but many ships made the North Atlantic run without smacking icebergs. We may even have an event in our own lives where we look back and wonder if somewhere along the line we might not have mouthed off at God. Perhaps we spoke disrespectful words of the Almighty One, or made a rash vow in a moment of excitement. We may not know until Jesus brings us home. The event may have nothing at all to do with anything we said or did. Yesterday, I came very close to writing the old: "pay your tithe each week, and God will make you rich!"

We would like to believe that. It seems like the ultimate investment: pay ten percent of what income I have now and 'presto' wealth beyond my imagining! Did the widow in Jesus time become rich for giving her two mites? Right, we don't know. However, there is no guarantee that any of us will be given great riches from our tithing. The verse most use for that conclusion is in Malachi 3. The passage goes like this: "Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me in this," says the Lord of hosts, "If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it." (3:10 NKJV) The New Living Translation also uses the word "blessing" for what we receive from God. Does blessing mean monetary wealth? Not necessarily, though none of us would fail to thank God for such a blessing if we were to receive it. :-) Blessing - the gift of divine favor, according to one Webster's definition, may mean: good health, healing, a happy day, joy, peace, a friend having a good crop in his field, an unexpected visit from an old friend, and many other things that are not monetary in nature. God may pour out such a blessing that our dear, little hearts cannot grasp just how blessed we are. A blessing might include all of the good things we can think of too! I have been blessed by God, and I rather think that it didn't all come from faithful tithing; in fact I know that not all of it came from that because I haven't always... um, never mind. God blesses us out of His great love for all of us. Tithe out of obedience, but accept the blessing of God with thanksgiving and love.

I visited a friend yesterday, and I am glad with him. Various things in the government and economy have changed allowing him to take a loan from his retirement to fix up his home now. When I worked for the Big C, this kind of thing was not allowed. Banks also tightened up due to economic concerns and of course, jobs at the Big C no longer had that security we all thought would last forever. However, God is still sovereign, and we can see His work in making it possible for my friend to fix up a home in dire need of repair. You don't want mold in your house, even the insurance company wouldn't help him with the repairs. Yesterday, my friend showed me his nearly completed work in the house and what a difference! Glory to God! Isn't it a blessing to celebrate something like that with friends?

Count those non-monetary blessing today, see if your cup might not be full and overflowing today! Revel in the unsinkable joy of Jesus this morning!


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Quit Counting the Cookies! - October 25, 2009

Good Sunday morning! A minister this morning told a story about how a family member made a quick count of some fresh cookies during the family prayer. I wondered at that time how many of us try to sneak a count on God? Do you count your cookies to see how much you have left? I have done that very thing. This is not to say that we write out a check to the church for $100 when we have $50 in the checking account. However, we do tend to count up what we have in money, stuff, friends, time, and other things and try to tell God what we can or cannot do. If God said give a million dollars to the church next year, would you sneak a quick count of your cookies and tell Him it can't be done? That might seem foolish, but we turn around and do that very thing!

Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow's worries. We are not limited by our own resources; we are limited by God's resources. Did I write that correctly? :-) Yes, we are only limited by God's own resources. When you find a limit to what the Creator of the universe has in His accounts, you let me know. I won't hold my breath. If God tells us that He wants more next year or next month, not only will the amount be there, but enough to take care of our needs as well. Jesus reminded us that all of our needs will be taken care of.

In this tough time, you know that somewhere a person is withholding their tithe. No job, no income, but he has that tithe from the last paycheck gripped tightly in his fist. He's counting those cookies and coming up short. God wants to bless this person, but his faith is weak at this time. Pray for this person. We don't know his name, we don't know his town, but we know the God of blessings and bounty. We know how to send up prayers and thanksgiving. We know that we've done the same thing at some point in our lives. Help this person to let go and trust in God with prayer and thanksgiving.

Did you realize that today marks two months until Christmas day? Merry Christmas!


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Corrections Along the Way - October 24, 2009

Good Saturday morning! I almost typed 'Monday' in there; where's my head this morning? :-) The morning begins with clouds and rain once more; perhaps the mood of the sky is what put Monday in my mind. Goodness! We do use some words out of their original meaning a lot. Tolkien pointed out in The Hobbit how Bilbo Baggins used "good morning" in ways that were not what we generally associate the greeting with. One of which was along the lines of "get lost, or my morning won't be good!" What is goodness, is it something we can have or be? Webster's defines the word like this: 1 the state or quality of being good: specif., a) virtue; excellence b) kindness; generosity; benevolence 2 the best part, essence, or valuable element of a thing - interj. an exclamation of surprise or wonder; a euphemism for God [for goodness sake!]. The last part concerns me. A little knowledge sometimes brings sorrow as is mentioned in Proverbs, I think. I cannot use a euphemism in place of the name of God the Father, and I don't want to use God's name in vain. One more thing to watch in my speech and writing.

While Jesus tells us that only the Father in Heaven is good, that does not mean that goodness isn't something we should strive for. We are called to all the words listed in the first part of the definition: virtue, excellence, kindness, generosity, benevolence. All these qualities are something we strive to build in our lives through the strength and guidance of God's Holy Spirit. The second definition is good too: we strive to become the goodness of the world. That is the best part or valuable element of: the salt of the earth as Jesus commanded us to become.

I didn't correct that first use of the interjection, at the time of the writing of it, I didn't know the world considered goodness to be a euphemism for God in some cases. However, now that I do know, I don't want to cause others to sin in a legalistic world. Time to stop using 'goodness' as an interjection! In our walk with Jesus, He will at times lead us to a little sign or marker on the trail and tell us that it is time for us to learn something new. Maybe I can yell "cat!" instead, like when the cat parks in front of my computer screen while I'm trying to type out the devotional. Somehow that doesn't seem to work in the same way; "for cat's sake!" just doesn't ring. I'll have to find a different substitute exclamation. :-)

Have a great Saturday!


Friday, October 23, 2009

Common Ground - October 23, 2009

Good Friday morning! Let the morning begin and God reign in our lives! Whoohoo! I woke up quite late this morning; I don't even get breakfast or a cuppa joe before starting the devotional. No one's fault but my own...well, except for Luke, who drove us off a cliff in my dream. I'll have to speak with him about that. :-)

We enjoyed another lively discussion last night in our Life Group. Christians are passionate about their life in Christ. Do we make note of our differences and bring them out for all to see? No, let's think today about what we have in common! We have one hope - that Jesus will return and take us home. We have one promise - Jesus will return and take us home! While we might disagree on a point or two in our Christian walk, the Good News is a message we all carry in our hearts. God loved the world, that's us, so much that He sacrificed His only Son; so that anyone and everyone who believes in Jesus Christ will be saved for all eternity. We have a host of weaknesses; He has a heavenly host at his command. We understand little; He understands all. We can save ourselves by keeping the law perfectly, but all have failed and fallen short of that glorious standard set down by God. Jesus, on the other hand, lived a perfect life and willingly laid it down to save those who could not save our own lives. We believe in Jesus and have life in Him. Sing for the day; we have a wonderful Lord in common!


Thursday, October 22, 2009

God's Will comes First - October 22, 2009

Good Thursday morning! Grey and cold again this morning. Perhaps we are going to have a Wisconsin winter this year: snow on the ground for months and no sunshine for days at a time. That isn't a prediction, I have no more idea than you how the winter will go. Last night in our Bible study we read the second verse of 1 Peter. That's all the farther we got for one evening's work. Sometimes a verse is so important and generates so much discussion that an hour of Bible study doesn't begin to cover the content of one little verse. The Bible is that rich in the wisdom and knowledge of God! Don't think that is possible? Try out John 3:16. See how long you can go on with Romans 8:28. By now you know that one verse can provide for an entire sermon, or even an entire book, or several books. We cannot grasp all that God has to tell us about one little verse in an hour, and yet we continue to try to place our will ahead of God's at times.

You might not claim to be guilty of that, but I'll bet the Holy Spirit is tapping on an area of your life even as you read this. I'm guilty, it is too easy to fall into that snare. Jesus set the example for us in the Garden of Gethsemane when He prayed, "not my will, but thine be done." The interesting point of last night's discussion was the backward belief we sometimes run into where we are told that "you chose to believe in God, so therefore you are one of His chosen ones!" Sounds good, logical, and quite backwards. If we can choose and subject God to our will, then all of creation will be lost to the will of billions of people. What a mess that would be! I suppose the right way is that we chose to believe in Jesus because God had already chosen us before time began. We are all subject to God's sovereign will, but some will choose to not believe and perish. So how can that be? Does that mean that some are not subject to God's sovereign will?

We know from the Bible that God can always overrule man's will; whatever choice we make, God can overrule it. However, in one area it would seem that God will not overrule our choice. That area is in that one free choice we all must make. Do you and I believe in Jesus or not? It appears to me, and this discussion did not end without further questions hanging in the air last night, that in this one area, when a person chooses not to believe in Jesus, God chooses not to save that person. Please don't think that I'm going to solve this discussion in one morning's devotional. The pastor told us last night that theologians have been discussing this subject for centuries. You might say that everyone is chosen to be saved by God, unless that person chooses not to believe in Jesus. I'm sure that some theologian somewhere over the centuries of discussion has put it in just the same way... and the discussion did not end there. One thing I think we all agreed on last night is that God's ways are beyond our understanding. This discussion may not end until Jesus comes. We may have to trust God in this: we choose to believe, Jesus saves us, and God chose us before time began. Before we start in with the "how can He choose before we choose" questions, remember that God isn't limited by time as we are.

Praise and honor to Jesus Christ our Lord!


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Next Step - October 21, 2009

Good Wednesday morning! Well, we made it to number 1,000 yesterday and as with most milestones, the question is: "now what?" Don't you just feel a letdown after the anticipation and satisfaction of approaching and then reaching some milestone in life? In most any endeavor we have milestones. At work we strive to reach five year or ten year anniversaries, or the next level on the pay scale, or even that promotion from the rank and file to manager. Sometimes we have plans for the next level, almost every new manager or commanding officer in my experience had plans for changes and improvements, but other times we reach a milestone and... nothing! The 'now what do I do?' question bounces around as the next milestone seems so very far away. A feeling of "is the celebration over already?" floats around in our minds as we ponder the journey ahead. What is the problem here?

One problem we have might be the urge to quantify everything. A few years back, I came to the realization in my heart, though it was already in my head, that Dec 31st looked much like Jan 1st which in turn looked very much like Jan 2nd. Perhaps that is why so many people get drunk on Dec 31st. Getting 'plowed', as some put it, makes the morning of Jan 1st look much different, usually in a hungover, feeling really awful, kind of way. That isn't how we celebrate our milestones in Christ, but perhaps we worry too much about quantified milestones anyway.

What bothers us most about Christ's return? We don't know the date. We cannot mark the calendar to count down the days as we do with our earthly milestones. What bothers us most about salvation by grace? We don't have a quota to fill or a goal to reach. We cannot give enough, save enough, work enough, or say enough "hallelujahs" to assure our own salvation. What bothers us most about our home in Heaven? Jesus didn't leave a map with an "X"; we cannot plan a journey with this much fuel, that much food, or this many hours or years required to make the trip.

We start to whine and holler about the quantities and coordinates when Jesus says: "I'll prepare your place in Heaven, believe in Me! The Father alone knows the date of My return, trust in Him! I died for you; you are saved. Trust only in Me!"

Wait there are no quantities, dates, or map coordinates there; how do we trust? That's the whole point! We trust in Christ to take care of those things he promises. Jesus wants our complete faith in Him; not in the details or quantities of what He will provide, but in Him alone! What about those quantities? Jesus tells us not to worry about them. Not so easy to obey in this time-stamped, date-marked, quantified world, but that's the deal. Trust in Jesus completely or not at all. Learning to trust in Jesus completely isn't easy, but we have the Holy Spirit to help us in that!

Praise God for the day!


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Thousand Posts for Jesus! - October 20, 2009

Good morning! Today marks a special occasion for us! Yes, this is the 1000th post on the blog for That's a lot of posting. The posts began in September of 2006 when someone made the suggestion that these be saved somehow. The e-mail devotionals had begun sometime before that and were getting a bit large for e-mail folders. Looking at some of the older blog posts, I wasn't writing a lot at that time, so the loss of some of the first devotionals may not be a big loss. However, a message of hope and encouragement may not need a huge amount of words. Few of us have the time to read a book each morning, even if I could write one every day. :-)

Some of you have been on the e-mail list since the beginning. Around the time I began blogging the e-mail devotionals, the e-mails were tossed from Cabela's. I could no longer write from my work PC before starting the workday, nor could I use any Cabela's e-mail addresses. While there may have been some argument for practicing my religion at work as many are allowed to do, my thought was to understand the company's point of view and obey my employer. Two years later, the author was tossed from Cabela's. So much for good intentions... One may have nothing to do with the other, but if that was a bit of persecution for our Lord's sake, then a great "Hallelujah" goes out to Jesus for that!

We have endured the spam wars, college, sickness, sorrow, and many other things over these three years and 1,000 posts. Losses of friends and family members, loss of employment, other hurts and pains of life, and even signs of the end such as: wars and rumors of war, earthquakes in various places, and the global urge for a strong, one-world government. In all of this, our thoughts have a tendency to roll downhill if we let them have their freedom.

Daydreaming thoughts often move from something nice to something very tragic or angry. Why does it have to be that way? Shouldn't our daydreaming thoughts go up and up? Thoughts left to their own devices like a ball on a hill won't go up, but will seek the lowest level. Jesus leads us up the narrow and steep path to victory in Him; our thoughts want to bounce back down to the pit of sin Jesus brought us out of. The devil uses this to produce dread and anxiety in us, better serving his purpose of chaos and deceit. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to bring our thoughts back to Him. This is one area that the infamous cat cannot serve as an example.

In the many devotionals, you have also endured the cat of a thousand examples. I have often written about how we should be less like the cat in some way or more like the cat in another. However, our first and best example is always Jesus. Each of us should yearn to be completely like Jesus in all things. The world thinks that means a lengthy list of "don'ts" and a loss of any fun in life. On the contrary, Jesus said that He came to give us life more abundantly. Sin only seems fun on the surface; the loss of sin from our lives is no loss at all. One day, Christ will indeed take all sin away and we who believe in Him look forward to that day.

Take a moment to thank God for all that He has done for us; and have a wonderful new day in Christ!


Monday, October 19, 2009

Waiting for Guidance - October 19, 2009

Good Monday morning! Woof, I did some action yesterday, and now I'm paying the toll. Are you sure of where you're going in this life? Did the Holy Spirit leave you a notarized note with specific instructions for the rest of your life? Even if we received a note like that for just one day, our first thought would probably be something like: "I don't wanna do that!" We still feel the tendency toward rebellion, and yet we crave the surety of specific instructions. Where is the middle ground? Is there a middle ground to find? Jesus did give us some specific instructions: love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. We are also to take the Word to all the nations, baptizing them and making disciples. I am summarizing the instructions a bit, but you will remember them from the Bible. There is a simpler, initial instruction that we have been given; one that we must do first in order to start learning the others - believe in Jesus. The first, basic task in our Christian walk for the rest of our lives, was to believe in Jesus. Without that first belief, we will go nowhere and accomplish little or nothing of lasting value in this world.

When we believe, then everything that makes us Christian starts. Christ gives us grace and the Holy Spirit. We are freed from the penalty of sin. We are given the strength and guidance to take those first steps. Everyone I know that believes in Jesus feels an urge to learn more through scripture reading and study. Notice that all of this is given or done to us. We believe in Jesus and we are born again. The notice flashes on the big signs in Heaven; "Another Lost Sinner has been Found by the Son!" Celebration ensues, another heavenly party kicks off. You have been found by the Son; don't worry, guidance will come to you in God's own time!


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Without Rank or Position - October 18, 2009

Good Sunday morning! Good 0300 on Sunday morning... Some mornings I just have to get up and write down what is going on in my head. Yes, as you have probably guessed, I had another of those dreams that just won't go easily into that forgetfulness that usually comes with our dreams. The dream involved rank and position - both of which I enjoyed to some degree in the organizations that employed me. In Christ we only have our value to Him. Today, dum da dum dummm...

Without Rank or Position

In this life we are presented with our rank in relation to each other from an early age. As children we learn to obey our parents and teachers; as students we start out at the lowest rank - kindergartners or 1st graders and move up to our senior year in high school. Some of us then start over as freshmen in college. Somehow the feminists have left alone insisting on "freshwomen" as one of those politically correct things; not sure why. :-) We continue from high school or college to our first employer and are met with rank once more. If we join the military, rank becomes so important that it becomes part of our name, even preceding it. I became Corporal Buckle officially, first names didn't even count. Only among my friends could I use my informal nickname. Introductions, especially to the higher ranking officers, did not include such things as nicknames and first names unless specifically asked for. Can you imagine meeting a general with, "Hiya, Jim! I'm Bucky. How ya' doin?" Probably wouldn't have worked out very well.

The rank of general is a good place to start on position as well. A general is one of the more recognized ranks in the military, mostly because no one cares what a lieutenant or private has to say. A general has a certain amount of authority from his rank, and then more (or possibly less) authority from his billet or position. In other words a major general (two stars) has authority over every soldier or marine from one star on down the ranks because of his superior rank, but may also gain more authority as the commanding officer of a division. A general of the same rank might be the assistant commanding officer or a staff officer and would then come under the authority of the commanding officer due to his position even though both men are the same rank. Confusing? We then get into seniority, or how long a person might hold the rank in relation to the other fellow... You get the point. In military and in civilian life we have a thing about where we rank in relation to our fellow men and women.

The larger the company, the more like the military the ranking and position structure become in our lives. I held both hourly and salaried positions in Cabela's, where those positions also equated to exempt and non-exempt - as in exempt from being paid overtime for work over 40 hours per week. We tend to equate salaried with exempt, but a person can fall into an hourly position without overtime pay, or though its less common, be a salaried person who earns overtime pay as well. As Cabela's grew into a larger private company and then a small public corporation, rank and position became more important to me as it did with most everyone else. I know it became important to the executives because we watched as they all promoted themselves into the new organizational structure. :-) What is important in this is how much I tied my own perceived value into my current or potential rank or position (title) in whatever organization I was employed with at any given time.

Admit it; you've fallen into this trap too. We look at where we are in an organization relative to the top and bottom rungs of the ladder and judge our worth accordingly. If you haven't looked at this from the outside, where I am now, you probably haven't realized just how badly it affects your life. Outside of work you might be uncomfortable hanging out with your boss, and downright stiff when around the boss's boss. While at work you might even have to use "sir" or "ma'am" though that has become rare these days outside of the military. If we don't judge by rank and position, we fall into judging based on their house, car, boat, clothes, and many other status symbols. We have a desire to know where we stand in this world in relation to our fellow humans. Does all of that matter?

We might ask what Jesus had to say about this. His disciples wanted to know: they asked who would be greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. In another case a mother came to Jesus and asked that her sons be given spots on Jesus' left and right. We might laugh a little when thinking that Jesus' next position would be on the center of three crosses, but the dear lady didn't know that at the time. Like us, the disciples wanted to know their rank. Jesus turned everything upside down when it comes to rank and position. He told us that the least now would be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven, and that those who seek to be the leaders now should serve everyone else. This must have raised some eyebrows even among the disciples; and can you imagine putting that suggestion to the generals, CEO's, senators and other leaders now? Try to imagine your senator coming to town and serving the folks on the street. Oh, we know about the publicity stunts where the politician serves burgers at the fair, or ladles out soup in the soup kitchen. Jesus didn't say to do it for an afternoon; He said take up service for your life's work if you want to be the leader.

If we don't gain value from our rank, title, or position here on Earth, where do we gain value from? Our value must not come from anything we can say or do; when Jesus died on the cross, those of us alive today hadn't said or done anything yet. When Jesus died for us we had no body or name to rank or relate to anyone else. The Bible tells us that all of our good accomplishments are as dirty rags and all or our sins are even worse! So if we have no value from things we've done or said, rank or position, or our own perceived value; where does our value come from? Jesus must have simply loved us for the value He put into us at creation. When He died for us, we only existed in the mind of God. You, me, Bubba down the street, and your mother-in-law, did not exist at the time Jesus went to Calvary to save us. We know that the Son of God would not sacrifice himself for nothing - God doesn't do things for no reason like some of us do from time to time. Jesus reminded us of our value to the father by comparing our value to sparrows and lilies - and not in a belittling manner. His statement in one version began with "How much more..." as in, we are far more valuable than sparrows and lilies to the Father in Heaven.

Some of our perceived value comes from inclusion in a group. Jesus included us in the most important group of all, the eternal life group, when we believed in Him to save us. The inclusion thing brings me to that goofy dream I had. I can hear your groans of relief that we finally got back to this dream of mine. (Groans of relief?) The dream began with someone from the old gang picking me up to go hear an offer to return to my former employer (inclusion). As with most dreams, it was never clear who this person was. However, the meeting was in someones home. When we arrived, he went into the meeting and I went to the house next door (exclusion). I met an old man sitting in a chair at the front door who made a mashed-up quote that sounded like old literature and I tried to show off my knowledge by saying it was from such-and-such book. (My dream mind must not remember quotes any better than I do while awake.) The time came for me to go to this meeting and I went to the other house to find an old friend and his wife sitting at their table (inclusion). The friend said something like "I won't even say what they're going to offer..." Leading me to believe that it wouldn't be a windfall. Someone else said they were going to offer me "PFC" or E-2 (inclusion, but with humiliation). Yes, the military rank and pay grade, thus showing that my dreams make even less sense than I do. I remember storming into the next room ready to unleash imagined fury only to have the dream end without me finding the authority figure responsible for this supposed offer (exclusion once more).

So, I wake up in the middle of the night angry from a silly dream; and I have to wonder just how far this rank thing has got ingrained into my mind. I also felt excluded in the end since there was no target to unleash my fury upon in this dream world, and apparently no real "offer" at all. The humiliation part makes more sense when you realize that all the worst (gross, demeaning, no one else wanted to do them) tasks fell to the PFC rank in the military. In thinking about this dream, it seemed to offer a choice: the world I had come from before my termination last year, or the new life that Christ offers. Whereas the "offer" of going back had me in a fury, the literature character of the old man made me feel good. The character had no name, but this was a person that we all would like. In the dream, I recall laughing with him and leaning on him in a friendly, loving way - like we did with our grandfathers as children. The choice, go forward or try to go back, doesn't seem so difficult when put in those terms.

I have no rank or position in an earthly organization at this time, and I find that just peachy. Christ has granted me the freedom to serve you each morning. When I think back to the old life, I might have been awakened at 0230 to respond to some problem on the network. I would get up angry from having been awakened, been made even more angry if the problem was one that could have waited for daylight, and then would have faced the day sleep-deprived and upset. Today, I wake up angry from a dream, but know immediately that I must get up and write all this down to share with others. Back in the day, I only got up willingly to work on something when faced with the choice of getting up early or staying up late - not much of a choice really. Today, it's now past five in the morning and I am glad to get up and share this writing with you. I would share some coffee too, but I'm going to go grab the last cup. Have a great Sunday in Christ Jesus!

You get two sermons today, congrats!


Saturday, October 17, 2009

That Second Reaction - October 17, 2009

Good Saturday morning!

That Second Reaction

How can you have a second reaction? Isn't a reaction your first, unthinking, response to a situation? True, it is, but today we need to look at our second response to many stressful situations. In an extreme situation a person will flee, fight, freeze, or faint - the four f's of reactions. A bully threatens and you may fight; a rattlesnake rattles and you freeze; a brother yells "boo!" and you flee (or fight); a nurse says, "surprise" and pulls out the blood test paraphernalia - and you faint. First reactions can be good or bad, right or wrong, ego-building or humiliating, we have no control over them. However, later we get the chance for a more thoughtful reaction...and we usually blow it. That second or secondary reaction is the one where we compensate for the stress in bad ways. You might choose impulse shopping, another might reach for a shot of whiskey, a third might take it out on a spouse, a fourth might rearrange the pantry for the 142nd time; any of us can have poor or even harmful ways of coping with fear or stress.

We wake up one day afraid of fear, worried about worry, anxious about anxiety, and depressed about depression. A delectable train wreck of emotions. To compensate we reach for the old reactions described above. We know they are wrong reactions, but we reach for the candy, or buy something we don't need, or pick an argument over nothing, or some might even exercise too much. Without Christ we tend to exorcise our demons in the wrong ways; sort of like treating a knife wound with a hammer. "Look, if you bash it enough times, the bleeding stops!" Our methods of coping may do us more harm and result in more bad coping actions. Jesus provides two better methods of dealing with fear and stress in this life: Bible reading and prayer.

The first is the Word. John tells us that the Word existed before the world began, that the Word was with God and is God. Before all these fearful and stressful situations came upon us, the Word existed. We know that Jesus is the Word, and that His words are true. No situation surprises Him, and no fear is too much for Him. God allowed Daniel to be thrown to the lions, but He shut their mouths. God allowed Daniel's three friends to be thrown into the fire, but sent an angel to cool the flames. The situations we fear and worry over will never take God by surprise. Why didn't God simply slay all the lions before Daniel was lowered into the pit? Certainly He could have, but the story we love wouldn't be quite the same, would it? Much of our anxiety comes from not knowing how God will deal with the situation and worse, not trusting in Him to handle it. We also may use the second method incorrectly.

God provides us with a direct communication line to Him. Jesus gave us this by dying on the cross. We no longer need to wait for a priest to make intercession; the veil has been rent from top to bottom! In prayer we sometimes try to tell God the solution along with the problem. "Lord, please provide this to fulfill that need!" We should bring the need to the Lord, but let Him handle the solution. Daniel spoke words of faith to the king, "If God wills, He will save me." He didn't try to tell God the solution to the problem. Prayer is our second great weapon against fear, but we must learn to use it correctly. If God had simply slain the lions, Daniel's enemies would have demanded that the king get some new ones. Instead, we know from the Bible that the same lions that refused to touch Daniel, had no problem chowing down on those enemies. God had a better way.

Prayer and the Word are better ways to deal with our worries and fears. Prayer and Bible reading don't cost us anything, or add weight to our middles, or alienate our loved ones, or harm us in any way. Jesus calmed the raging storm with His command. He can calm our fears with His words too! Concentrating on our Lord in prayer causes us to lose concentration on our worries. Looking to Jesus means we have to turn from our fear; we can't serve both our Lord and our fear at the same time! We will fight the fear all of our earthly lives. The devil uses fear and doubt in an attempt to stop our work in the Lord. Jesus says "trust in Me!" We have a remarkable capacity to look the wrong way in this life. But Jesus has more patience, strength, forgiveness, and love than our fear and doubt can ever withstand.

Trust in Jesus, go forth in courage!


Friday, October 16, 2009

Turn the Wishes into Trust-ins - October 16, 2009

Good Friday morning! Today we have a 'wish-for' attitude. As in: I wish for a winning lottery ticket to secure my finances, and other idle wishes that very seldom come true. Last night, Burt and I watched a football game where the announcer kind of fell in love with the term "pick 6". The term is probably not of his making, but is one that has swept our society. We need to turn the 'wish-fors' into 'trust ins', as in: I trust in God. Too many solutions present themselves in response to our wishes. So often that we sometimes lump wishes and hopes together. In Christ, a hope is not something way out on the rim of possibility. A hope is something assured that we are simply waiting for and don't know the exact date and time of its arrival. We trust in God's word that Jesus will arrive at the exact time and date that God has set. No wishing, just a solid hope and trust in our Father in Heaven!

Have a wonderful Friday. The wind may blow, but the cold of the past days has blown away for a spell. We may get another storm next week, but that is next week's worry. Today, we'll enjoy what God has sent for this day.

God's love to you on this fine Friday!


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Give God the Glory - October 15, 2009

Good Thursday morning! The clouds have blown away and the temperature is back to a normal range. How good does it feel to have the sun shine in the morning after several days of clouds? Writers and ministers have used the allegory of cloudy days and sunshine as compared to our trials since...well, dern near forever! The comparison is so appropriate that you might wonder if God didn't create cloudy days for just that purpose. We cannot know God's entire purpose and many of his methods are quite beyond our comprehension; to paraphrase the Bible a bit. Even the times we see God act plainly for our benefit, we probably don't see all that will come of His action. Probably? Make that definitely; we cannot see to the end of time, if there is an end somewhere, as God does. Every action of God's has exactly the effect He desires and those effects may continue way past the memory of you and I. Don't think so? Read the words of Jesus in the Bible, and notice how His words still affect us about 2,000 years later. Read the stories of David and notice how we can learn from them 3,000 years later.

A secular person might say that David's own actions and words are what we are affected by. But look at who David gave credit for his own actions and life. David gave God the glory, and we should too. There is no pride in giving God the glory for our talents. Pride comes when we stand up and say "I am great". Doesn't it just seem wrong when you try to say that? I had trouble writing the phrase. "I am great" jars with the humility given to us by the Holy Spirit. The phrase might even make you shudder physically. Say, "I love Jesus!", saying that makes everything seem right again. :-) Hallelujah!

Shine in the love of Jesus today!


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Flying Out! - October 14, 2009

A hearty g'day mates, from the damp fields of Minnesota! Yes, once more we have a wet, drizzly, rainy, foggy, kind of morning here with patches of snow still on the ground and cold in the air. High plains of Nebraska, you say? Well, ya could've fooled me; our weather has not been what one would call arid these days and winter has already made a strong appearance. Sometimes things (weather, people, animals...) don't act the way we expect them to act. Sometimes things return to the way they were some years ago. What if you returned to a long ago dwelling place and met an old acquaintance who spoke with you a bit and then declared, "you're just the same as you were!"?

To me that might be quite disappointing. Jesus has been working on me for some years now; I would hate to think that all of His work is not apparent to the casual observer. However, a couple of things can work on that impression. Memory tends to change with us as we grow older. The things we remember from way back in the day will not be remembered exactly the same way by others. Events we find distressing because of what we said or did back then may not even be remembered by the other person involved. People also don't always want us to change. They have filed us in a pigeonhole as a certain type of person; and they would rather we didn't take wing and fly out of our little slot in their file of people from back in the day.

In a conversation via e-mail with some of the old gang from college (the first time around) some of the guys were commenting/teasing one of the group who had become a follower of Christ, I never saw a response from him so he may not have read the posts about him. The other extreme of the pigeonhole reminiscence is to find that a person has flown so far out of his former pigeonhole that scorn results. People get uncomfortable with major life changes, such as Jesus makes in us, and either want nothing more to do with us or laugh scornfully at our new state of being. Sometimes old friends will fall away from the circumstances of life, but other times they will flee with that scornful laugh we often hear in showing our faith to the world. Remember that in this new life in Christ we seek only to impress our Lord Jesus. The opinion of the world is now just noise.

Have a wonderful new day in Christ!


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Don't Be Afraid! - October 13, 2009

Good Tuesday morning! We have a freezing rain warning for this morning. This is something to take seriously! Check the sidewalks and streets before taking off this morning. If you step out your door, fall on your bumpkus, and slide down to the bottom of your driveway, that might be an indication that the streets are too slick to drive on. I have one of those free-roaming anxieties about sliding into my neighbor's expensive camper. Usually, I figure that's just one of the devil's tricks to try to keep me from going out, but on a day like today, that fear is something to pay attention to. :-)

Fear. If the devil's greatest weapon is the lie; fear must be one of his powerful allies. Fear can keep us from thinking straight or from doing activities we enjoy. Fear can make us afraid to stay put and afraid to go out. We can become stuck in a mire of the fear of doing or not doing. The devil would love to see all Christians paralyzed by fear. There is much to be afraid of in this world; some of it good and some bad. We should fear sticking our hand in a whirling steel fan blade. We shouldn't fear spreading the good news. We should fear jumping in front of trucks on the interstate highway. We shouldn't fear the love of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

The first examples are healthy fears. We get one body in this life and God gives us a desire to preserve it. The imaginary things that we fear is a different story. Of the many messages that God has for us, one seems to stand out for its simplicity and its imperative. God sends an angel to Zacharias - "Don't be afraid..." (Luke 1:13); God sends an angel to Mary - "Don't be afraid..."(Luke 1:30); The shepherds are visited by an angel while watching their flocks - "Don't be afraid..."(Luke 2:10); Jesus calls Simon to him - "Don't be afraid..."(Luke 5:10); Jesus comes walking across the water to the disciples - "It is I; do not be afraid." (John 6:20) The Lord, it would seem, must remind us to not be afraid and that we shouldn't be afraid. Even when traveling with Jesus for months the disciples had to be reminded to not be afraid. Why are we still so afraid?

Might as well ask: Why do we still covet, lust, steal, lie, cheat, and commit all the other forms of sin? Fear is a part of that sin nature or lust of the flesh that we all have. If you dwell on lustful thoughts, you will have trouble with sexual sin. If you dwell on fearful thoughts, you will be afraid. Jesus calls us to think on Him: to believe and have faith in Him.

This is taking a long time to write this morning. I'm afraid someone will stand up and yell, "Hypocrite! You're afraid all the time!" Yes, I fight fear just the same as most everyone else. The wrong thing I do is try to fight it alone. When we fear, our first thoughts must turn to Jesus. His final words in Matthew about fear were the solution to the problem: "I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Jesus is with us and within us always; and His message is still the same, "Don't be afraid!"

Have a great day with Jesus!


Monday, October 12, 2009

Our Weakness, His Strength - Columbus Day, 2009

Good Monday morning on this fine, cold Columbus Day! We had more snow last night, but it's not as cold this morning. The Rockies lost in the cold, but the Broncos won again. How did Columbus fare on this day some 500 years or so back in the day? Well, after embarking on a voyage of faith in God, he made landfall on an island down south a bit. Missing 2 continents by the way, but managing to find land just the same. Columbus didn't know the exact direction to take to get to the nearest land mass, but he had a dream and a measure of faith in God. Today, ol' Chris isn't doing so well in the press and media. Without a press secretary to field information requests and being out of circulation for some 500 years, Christopher Columbus began taking a beating in the press some years ago. I saw a headline the other day about Columbus' dark side. From my reading, any dark side came from ignorance more than intent.

Back in the day, they didn't know anything about infectious diseases, other than the symptoms and usual result. Columbus wanted to take some folks back to Europe to show them the wonders of civilization, but didn't reckon on the guests growing sick on the way back. Of course the New World natives were weak. You've done the same thing, your elders from your childhood did it to you, and theirs to them all the way back to Columbus' time and beyond. All of us have heard the sayings, "he needs more grit"; "kids these days need to toughen up"; and many others. It's much easier to blame another person's weakness than to accept responsibility that we've screwed up somewhere.

Last night I watched a news report on concussions and how they may be affecting athletes, particularly in football. I don't recall them mentioning the concussions from even minor traffic accidents, but then accident victims don't usually earn millions of dollars each year or play out their accidents on television. The research has been concentrating on football players, but I wondered if the rise in mental problems and dementia in our elderly might not be related to the profusion of traffic accidents, both minor and worse, that we live with daily. The reason I mention this is that concussion was one of those things that used to be the subject of "get tougher" thinking back in the day and even to this time. Soldiers, football players, athletes in other sports, and yes, even accident victims, have not treated concussion as a sign of our weakness, but as a call to "get tough and get back in the game!"

Just as Columbus had no knowledge of the diseases his crew carried to the New World, I wonder at the ignorance we have of brain injuries and how long it takes to recover from them. We should also wonder at how ignorant the world is of its own weakness. When we think that we are strong in our own strength, we will find it hard to give our lives to Jesus. God likes those who realize their own weakness; He can make us strong. Paul complained about his own weakness and God didn't tell him to toughen up and get back in the game. No, God said that His grace was sufficient, and that His strength was made perfect in Paul's weakness. Each of us has our own weakness; instead of complaining bitterly for relief, we might want to look for God's shining strength in that weakness. Columbus didn't know that he had condemned many to death by disease as the hordes of Europeans followed him across the ocean, but he did make possible many new nations and a place for some persecuted believers in Jesus to run to a few years later. In the world's eyes the Pilgrims and Puritans may not have been the strongest of the strong; but in God's strength, perhaps they were at that!

Happy Columbus Day!


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Let God Control - October 11, 2009

Good Sunday morning! The verse for my Christmas cards was given to me this morning. Why not in September when I first asked? Timing of course. We wait on God's timing not the other way around. Why does Jesus come in the Father's good time? Can you imagine if Christ stood by his white horse even now waiting on millions of believers to get together on one time and date? As soon as we decided on one date, several hundred believers would immediately raise their hands for an exception. God's timing is the only perfect timing. Only He knows all hearts and only He can decide the perfect time for Christ's return. Why do we have so much trouble with waiting on God's timing? We want control. Adam and Eve fell for the serpent's temptation because he offered them control: "you will know what God knows!" Jesus was tempted by control in the desert: "I will give all these kingdoms to you!" In hindsight we kind of wonder at the silliness of offering the Son of God something He already had from creation, but there is more to it than that. Jesus has regained the blessing or birthright of Adam through His sacrifice on the cross. So why doesn't He come back and banish sin now? Once again, we must wait on God's timing. Until then, people must have the choice between sin and God. Just as we had a choice and chose to give our lives to Jesus.

Much like Peter blurted out, "no, Lord, you can't!" when Jesus foretold his own death, we try to tell God when things should get done. Throughout our lives, God has sent people and events to us at just the right time to bring us to ask forgiveness and gain salvation in Christ. Yet, we still feel that temptation to tell Him when to do things. As we grow closer to Christ, we learn to wait on God's timing in all things. No, the economy is not just right at the moment, nor are events in the world as we would have them. However, God is still in charge and we must wait on His timing while we look forward to Jesus' return. Jesus will come; we have His own word on that. As Jesus told us long ago, "You trust in God, now trust in me!"

Have a great day in Jesus!


Saturday, October 10, 2009

For Our Benefit - October 10, 2009

Good Saturday morning! Whooeee, it looks like a good March snowstorm out there! October 10th might seem just a bit early for a good snow, but there it is. Praise God for the snow! Yes, this will disrupt some plans today. Some of you are probably thinking: "smatter with you? This snow ruins everything!" Yes, we make plans and forget to check with God, and sometimes our plans become moot in light of circumstances. Other times we must postpone an event or change our plans. God doesn't do this to hurt us, but to increase our trust in Him.

A bit of Christmas music seems appropriate this morning with the new fallen snow and all. Of course, when have I ever required an excuse to play Christmas music? :-) Christ reigns in my heart all the year long; why shouldn't Christ-centered music be in my ears? Why should we wait for December to have the most wonderful time of the year? The snow didn't wait this year; it's having a great time right now. I can enjoy it for the moment, but sooner or later I'll have to get out and clear the driveway and sidewalks. This life doesn't seem to come with perfection in the main course. We enjoy something, and then have to clean up the mess. We have a great dinner out, and then pay someone else for the cooking and cleanup. Everything seems to have a downside in this life... if that's all you can see. In Christ when we start saying things like that we can expect to feel that mental tap on the shoulder: "What about me?"

What about this Jesus? Does He have a downside too? Not to me He doesn't. Everything He says "do" or "don't do" is for my benefit. He already sits at the right hand of the Father in Heaven; nothing I do or don't do is going to harm Him in any way. However, twisting the ten commandments into a to-do list will certainly bring great harm to me! Bowing down before a carved rock doesn't hurt God, but trusting in a stone to save me will have eternal consequences for my soul. Many is the tribe or people who offered sacrifices to a bit of carved stone or wood for protection from enemies. In some cases the carved relic is still standing, but the people are long gone. You might get a bit of protection if you take the idol up to a high place and drop it on some of your enemies, but don't expect the old rock to actually get up and do anything. No, the commandments one and all were given for our benefit. Trust in the One True God, the Almighty One, and live.

The snow has me in a mood to go on and on, but perhaps it's time to let the Holy Spirit speak to you. Enjoy the wonderful snowfall up here on the high plains!


Friday, October 09, 2009

A Good Translation - October 9, 2009

Good Friday morning! Did I mention cold yesterday? Well, forget that. It's worse this morning; and we have been told to expect some serious cold over the weekend. Our little town also plays host to two guitarists this weekend...both scheduled on the same day and time at opposite ends of the town. One of the concerts is free. Did someone get booted off some board or something? Is there a scheduling feud that would cause a town of about 6,000 folks to schedule two concerts on the same night and time? I am curious to hear how this little conflict of scheduling came about, but I suppose if variety is the spice of life - we will have a variety of guitarists in town tomorrow! :-)

I like the LWF Bible verse this morning in the King James Version. Some verses can be difficult for us to understand in the older form of English, but other verses sound so very dignified and majestic in the KJV. I always like to hear the Christmas story from Luke 1 & 2 in the KJV on Christmas Eve. The translations of the Bible help us to understand a particular passage, but more important to us is the guidance of the Holy Spirit. You and I might prefer different versions of a Bible translation, but we can come to the same understanding in the Holy Spirit. We see it in our Bible study every week. I may have an unspoken thought that another man will speak aloud in almost the exact words that I have in my mind. He may be reading from the New King James version and I from the New Living Translation, but we have the same understanding in the Holy Spirit.

Another area to apply faith in is the accuracy of your Bible translation. In my Bible, I come upon notes that say: "the meaning of the original Hebrew is uncertain" or something like that. This is where the Holy Spirit will lead us to what He would have us to understand from the verse or passage. Have faith that God will bring you to understand exactly what He would have you to understand at any given point in your life!

Have a great, if cold, weekend in Christ!


Thursday, October 08, 2009

Obedience, Healing, and Good News! - October 8, 2009

Good Thursday morning! Oo-da-lally, there's frost on them there rooftops! Yes, winter would seem to be flexing its muscles early this year. Hope you enjoyed the autumn! :-) Last night I didn't want to go to Bible study. I very much wanted to go to bed and sleep. Perhaps it was the approaching cold front, or the early morning, but God wanted me to go and I wanted to do something else. I undressed for bed and then dressed again for going out. We have all run into times like this when the Lord wants to see a little sacrifice on our part. As always, we had a wonderful time of fellowship and Bible study. Last night we read and discussed the amazing change in Peter as the Holy Spirit took over the spread of the Good News. I was blessed for my obedience.

In light of the sacrifice Jesus gave for our sins, the sacrifice of a little discomfort, a little effort, or a bit of money can seem pretty small on our side of things. However, too often we concentrate on our little sacrifice and forget the much larger one of Christ. Our sacrifice seems so hard when we focus on what is asked. But when we focus on Jesus, as we should, the sacrifice we are called to make often seems so very small. Last night we also reviewed the time when Peter tried to forbid Jesus' own sacrifice when told about what would happen. We often try to forbid something the Lord would have us to do. Most of the time the sacrifice asked from us is small; only a few are counted worthy to make the ultimate sacrifice as Stephen, James, Paul, and yes, Peter, did in that first century.

Yesterday, by the by, was the anniversary of my termination from that old job. What did I learn yesterday? That my sister, Kerri, will become a permanent employee at her new place of employment on Monday. Great news! Prayers answered! What prayer requests can we expect to see in the coming days? God is always busy; expect great things in the coming days!

Cold outside, but warm in the hearts where Jesus lives!


Life span of hurtsOctober 08, 2009
Robert H. Schuller

"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." – Psalm 147:3

Each hurt has a different life span.

Divorce has a long life span, especially when children are involved.

Death has a long life span, too. Dr. Joyce Brothers told me after her husband Milt passed away that she grieved for over a year after his death. Many well-meaning friends tried to hurry her through her grief process, encouraging her to "get over him." Day by day, little by little, life got better. She ran on auto pilot to make it through the day. Then one day, she found herself smiling again.

Yes, hurts have different life spans. The point I want to make is this: The pain you are feeling today, whatever your hurt, will pass in time. It will likely leave a scar. But you will get through it. Trust God and your own healing process…you will smile again…I promise.
* * *
Think about the emotional scars in your life. Are any of them still causing you pain? Are there any you need to let go of so you can move on to new things in your life?

My response: What is the answer this morning? I can tell you that about 11 months is the answer for termination from a long-held position in a corporation, at least it was for me. Someone else may recover sooner or take longer to feel good again. For me at about the start of September or sometime in August, I first noticed that the day seemed a bit brighter, my love for the Lord Jesus stronger, and the writing going much easier. At first, one year ago yesterday, I would never have thought it would take that long, though several people told me to expect it. However, as Dr. Schuller points out in his devotional this morning, our period of recovery is personal, and Jesus will heal each of us in His own time. Any time we have a long relationship broken, it will hurt... a lot. The manner of the breaking could make the hurt deeper and the healing time longer. All of us will experience that in our lives, but one relationship can never be broken - the one between each of us and our Lord Jesus. Praise God for a relationship we can count on through the worst of times in this life!

Bucky (again!)

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

A Wrong Association - October 7, 2009

Good Wednesday morning! Yow! I'm a bit sore this morning. I did actual work again yesterday; gotta learn to watch that. :-) This morning I thought of how we sometimes gain a wrong association with something. Beets, somewhere along the line I associated the taste of pickled beets with that magenta color. Canned beets, which I like, have that same color. Every time I open a can I have to fight off the impression that the beets will have that awful pickled beet flavor. The wrong association is stuck in my brain. Other things that you and I experienced as children or even teenagers, might have an uncomfortable association for us. The thing to do is to examine those feelings to see if they are true.

Our past lives are filled with sin. We know that, we admitted it to Jesus in order to be saved. However, the old guilt and shame feelings may persist in this new life in Christ. We have formed an association between the former sin and the current feelings of shame and guilt. We have a wrong association that must be worked out as our faith grows. Burt and I spoke of this yesterday at our prayer breakfast. We are forgiven. This forgiveness and freedom from the penalty of sin does not depend upon how we feel; and our new freedom doesn't depend upon how faithful we might think or feel we are at any given moment. Feelings tend to swoop in and out of our lives like passing swallows or even more slowly like a big thunderstorm. However, whether quickly or slowly, those feelings are transitory; they move on. Jesus saves us by His own grace, not by how we feel. Don't feel saved today? We have good news for ain't a feeling! The grace of God is a gift to enjoy and a faith to treasure.

Have a wonderful day in God's grace!


Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Cleansing the Soul - October 6, 2009

Good Tuesday morning! How does a person cleanse his soul? If we can save ourselves, as some believe that we can, we must be able to or have the ability to discover how to, cleanse our own souls. Where would one start? I suppose we would have to be able to first touch or sense our own soul. Some would have us believe that so-called right thinking is the answer. However, if our mind and soul is the same thing, then what did Jesus die for? If by disciplined, cognitive, or critical thinking we can cleanse our minds, and most of us might doubt the possibility of ever doing that perfectly in our own strength, can we also cleanse our soul? Of course, I don't know the answer to this, nor can I tell you where to find your soul. Does music touch the soul? Maybe, but I don't think that any amount of good music will cleanse our souls any more than thinking good thoughts can. Does our soul use the brain to think? If so, where do the afterlife visions come from?

We have more questions than answers this morning, but perhaps Jesus has given us some guidance on this. Jesus told at least one parable of the afterlife with Lazarus the beggar and the rich man. We also have a few accounts of going to heaven or hell after persons have been found dead and later revived. It would seem there is an awareness after our human body dies that must be separate from our brain. Some have found that a body weighs less after death, the 21 grams that we've heard about in books and at least one movie. So, if we believe Jesus and the few accounts we have that there is an afterlife, is it possible to give our souls a good scrubbing to get them ready? Is it possible to trap this 21 grams of stuff and wash it?

I don't want to get all silly and write about soul laundromats and soul washing machines; actually I do, but I'll resist. The fact is that none of us has any idea how to go about cleansing our souls. There is a stain on our souls that is quite apart from our lusts of the flesh which can be attributed to our human bodies and brains. We don't even know how to touch this stain, much less clean it. We don't know that the soul even has a mass or weight that can be measured or touched. The 21 grams could be something unaccounted for in the body.

Like a box that is too heavy for us to lift, Jesus keeps this knowledge to himself. The cleansing of our soul is His business as He has already paid the price and performed the sacrifice. We know that our souls will be cleansed by the blood of Christ, but exactly how this will take place is beyond our understanding. In our witness, we will meet those who want to understand the mechanisms of salvation and cleansing. Jesus told Nicodemus that our salvation is quite beyond our understanding. No one can afford to wait for complete understanding, this is something we accept on faith. Jesus died for our sins and saves us by the grace of God through faith in Him. We might complain, "I want to understand it, Lord!" as we yearn for more knowledge, but isn't that how Adam and Eve got into this trouble in the first place?

Have a wonderful day in Christ!


Monday, October 05, 2009

Obey His Voice - October 5, 2009

Good Monday morning! We are still wet outside, but warmer than when we went to bed last night. Some people think that I'm wet all over, but I have it on good authority that it ain't true! :-) Are you ready to begin another week? The light of Jesus shines on us even when the day is dark and gloomy under the clouds of worry! The comparison of worry to a cloudy day is often used in literature. We have a tendency to feel gloomy when the clouds stay around too long. I wonder if the cloudy, cool, and rainy weather this weekend may have stopped anyone from getting drunk during our Oktoberfest? We also have a tendency to forget that the trials in our lives may serve a higher purpose. Just as someone may have gone home early this weekend instead of having a few too many; so a trial in our lives can produce a stronger faith in God. We see a time of trial, God sees a time of improvement and perhaps a trial that kept us from doing something we might regret.

The example might seem a bit obscure; kind of like the sunshine is this morning. Try this: one morning you get into your truck to go somewhere and you hear in your mind, "I don't want you to go." Not the voice of conscience, you already wrestled with that and put it down for the day, but a clear statement. You still have a choice, and so you keep on driving. There is something in that destination that you want and, by yiminy, you cannot see where God would be against you having it. However, a few more miles down the road, you run over something and blow two tires. You might pause a moment to stare dumbfounded at your one spare. Looks like you're not going to make that destination and all you can see is the problem. You're stranded on a remote road and no vehicles are going by; even the cell service is gonzo! You see a big problem and you start to wonder what God has against you.

Sitting here in our comfortable chairs, we can all see the problem, but it has nothing to do with tires. God wants us to obey Him for our own good. Sometimes He has to take drastic action to prevent us from running headlong into a disaster that He can see just over the horizon. Taking the example a bit further: you take a deep breath, let it out slowly, and decide right then to ask forgiveness for ignoring the Holy Spirit. Your tires don't magically re-inflate, but a person stops by and loans you her spare tire which, by the way, just happens to match your own truck's make and model. By following her back to the nearest town, you get your tires repaired, thank her for the use of her spare (she refuses any money), and you go your merry way... back home. Now we don't have to wish any disaster on your original destination even in this example. The reason God didn't want you to go may not be related to anything at that destination, but simply to see if you will obey His voice.

Trust in God this week, and listen for His quiet voice!


Sunday, October 04, 2009

A Friend with a Problem - October 4, 2009

Good Sunday morning! Suppose for a moment this morning that you have met a new friend. You like how he sounds and the things he has to say; his looks are not so good as to threaten your sense of self worth, but at the same time people are not pointing and throwing rotten fruit either; your new friend is witty, charming, and you genuinely like to be around him. Then you discover something that just ruins it. Perhaps he slurps his coffee from the back side of the cup, pouring hot liquid down his shirt, and thoroughly making a mess of himself in public. You might laugh except that he completely ignores his bad habit and continues to chat in his witty and charming way as though nothing at all was wrong with pouring hot coffee all over his shirt. The bad habit might not be as silly as all that, but say that he pours his hot coffee, doctors it with cream and sugar, and then waits until the drink is lukewarm to have a sip....every time he drinks coffee. Still kind of silly? Okay, suppose he drinks decaf and acts like it's his favorite drink in the morning while you can't even start the day without a stiff belt of super espresso caffeine boost? Hey, wait a minute; what 'choo got against decaf, anyway? :-)

You have probably run into something like this before. A new friend seems to be a great addition to your life and then... boom, something in his character or condition is just so revolting to you that you really have no idea what to do or say. Imagine looking down from Heaven and finding all of the human race that way. You told them about it and warned them about it, finally starting over with a flood, but still those friends continued to have this problem. Finally, you sent your beloved Son to walk among them and point right to the problem, but still those people chose to cling to that terrible problem, sin.

Yes, God found a very revolting problem in all of us. He sent His only son, Jesus, to make it right. He offered a way to be redeemed with only one simple condition; believe in Him. Jesus wants us as friends, but we have to get rid of that one revolting problem. The only problem is; we can't get rid of sin on our own. So, Jesus also gave up his own life to free us from sin. That's how badly He wants to be our best friend. Praise God that He would sacrifice everything to save us. What do we have to do to get this salvation? Simply believe in Him; accept Him as the Son of God.

Be a good friend today, don't point out the sin, point to the one who can cure it!


Saturday, October 03, 2009

A Learned Trust in God - October 3, 2009

Good Saturday morning, good and cold Saturday morning that is! The thermometer is telling me that it's 26° outside this morning. That's a bit cold for October 3rd, but not entirely out of the realm of experience around these parts. Praise the Lord for the first freeze; my allergies are grateful! It's 0430 and I've already fixed a breakfast of pancakes and read the newspaper. Yes, that is too early, but some days I just can't wait to get up and get writing. Trust seems to be the popular subject today. Perhaps, no perhaps about it, I have been guilty of not trusting enough in the past, but I very much want to learn a complete trust in God.

We sometimes think that at our moment of salvation we should be given complete faith and trust in God right then. However, at least in my case, complete trust is something that I must learn. The doubts and fears still creep up on me from time to time each and every day. Of course, there is an agent of this and it isn't my own insecurity that is responsible for all of this doubt. The enemy will try to trip us up from every conceivable and inconceivable angle. You may find a fear nagging at you that you never knew before. The recent economic upheaval probably caught some people by surprise who had never before been subject to fears of poverty or bankruptcy. All of us were reminded that trusting in the world's institutions and our own financial abilities is foolish. We need to learn this trust in God and then cling to it tightly. Look up trust in your Bible's index and seek out the verses telling us to trust in God and not be afraid; there are many.

The cat stopped in for a skritch. I was about to tell him that you were out there depending on me to get this written and sent out, but I realize that not many of you are even awake yet this morning. Insert a pause for a few minutes while I take care of the cat's need. :-)

Back once more! The cat has taken off already; his needs are simple and short-lived. We have a similar attitude about our fellowship with God. We come running to Him with an urgent need; He puts forth His power and solves the immediate need, and then we take off on our own until the next time a trial comes our way. God wants us to be close to Him at all times, to walk with Him and stay by Him. When we run off on our own like that, we become open to temptation and sin.

In my book related to this devotional, I'm calling one chapter "The Cat of a Thousand Examples" It seems that God has sent Capt. Kidd to provide many examples of our own spiritual behavior. The outline was started yesterday and I want to start going through three years of blog postings today as well. If you have the time, go out to and pick out your favorites. The blog is just short of 1,000 posts, in fact that post should occur this month. :-)

Have a great Saturday in Christ!


Friday, October 02, 2009

Appearances and Train Conductors - October 2, 2009

Good Friday morning! Also, a happy Oktoberfest to those of you around the Sidney area. Do you have your lederhosen and knickerbockers all ready to go? I'm not quite sure what either of those are, but the appearance is supposedly important for a good Oktoberfest. In this life we often get tied up in appearances. I'm listening to a CD of rarities from the early Pink Floyd, and I do seem to hear a kazoo featured in one song. Many years later the band members might refute that saying that the sound was made by some technical sounding piece of gear: "no, no, we made that sound with a Elkotronics P-1244 phase-locked, dual-loop, 56khz, oscillating synthesizer, not a bloody kazoo!" The listener might not be convinced, but there it is... We tend to worry overmuch at what people might think of our appearance or performance. Some people expect celebrities to look perfect at all times, and then spend a fortune emulating them. Other folks look to magazines to tell them what to wear, eat, own, and think. Of course, blaming the magazine is not the answer. Over the years much good information has come our way through the print media. The problem comes when we start to judge our personal value by what we see in advertisements and articles. If we don't look as good as Patrick Jayne (The Mentalist), we think that something must be wrong with us. I'm picking on that show because it's the last thing I watched last night. However, the point is that we shouldn't try to judge our value by what the media presents to us.

Like many messages, I bring up the subject in the devotional after being hit with it in Bible study group, other devotionals as you will see below, and even in my own personal Bible study. Some messages come from so many sources that even a writer as slow as I am will take the hint and write about the subject. :-) You and I must be having trouble with this appearance thing right now if the Holy Spirit is putting forth that much effort to get our attention! Notice how I include y'all with me in the problem. No one wants to hear God say, "No, it's just you having this problem!" To a greater or lesser degree, we do often share the same problems with sin. Anxiety or depression might try to tell one of us that our problem is unique, but usually that isn't true.

The cat, on the other hand, cares not a whit for appearances. He has decided that a plastic trash bag full of foam peanuts is a great place for a nap. Unfortunately, his mounting of the "bed" makes for quite a spectacle of sound and cat gymnastics as he tries to get each peanut in its proper place. The lesson is that he doesn't give a hoot what it looks or sounds like. Not that we should act like animals, but perhaps we do care a bit too much about appearances. In the love of Jesus, we need to see ourselves and others as God sees us and them.

Which group or type of person do you see as the "least of these"? We may not want to admit it, but when someone asks that question of us, a certain person or persons will come to mind. For me it's train conductors; I'll admit it this morning. They ride around on trains without a care in the world; occasionally pestering the engineer doing the actual driving with absurd demands like: "Turn right!" or "Let's pull into the drive-thru!" If a few cars fall off the track, they lean out of the cab and say something helpful like, "oops". I'm not sure how anyone doesn't look down on train conductors. :-) I'm picking on Rick this morning, but you probably thought of some group or person when I mentioned "the least of these"

Thinking of how Jesus used the phrase in the Bible: how often have we failed to obey our Lord's command by ignoring a person. At times a person's appearance might lead us to consider him or her dumb or stupid, beneath our notice, or of having no value to us. That wasn't our Lord's way, and praise God that He didn't consider any of us beneath His love. Imagine if the blind beggar had considered himself too dirty to believe in Jesus? What if Christ had refused to die for our sins until we promised to take a shower? I have much to learn about sharing the love of Jesus, including learning to love all people and not judging on appearance. A lifetime of training in the world needs to be unlearned, but Jesus is the master at making all things new! Praise God for His patience with me!


Thursday, October 01, 2009

Jesus' Celebrities - October 1, 2009

Good Thursday morning! Don't get blown away by the breeze today. Calling it a breeze might be a bit of a misnomer. The high wind warnings began early yesterday, but the wind didn't arrive until late last night. Do you suppose the delay was to allow me to complete my giving mission yesterday morning? I believe in the sovereign power of Jesus.

Many organizations and ministries depend upon our giving. Tough economic times for people in general can mean starving times for ministries whose only income arrives in the form of offerings and gifts. Perhaps you and I cannot give as much in tough times, but please don't forget to give. We don't give to get thank you's or to receive recognition and praise, but to store up treasure in Heaven. However, once in a while you and I may get the privilege of giving to a ministry or charity that is in such need that our gift is timed perfectly and received with joy... and we know who arranges for that! The reward of heartfelt gratitude and joy from the recipient should remind us of how we should feel toward God all the time.

By the way, for those of us right here in Western Nebraska, I found out that the food bank has been hit hard lately. If you can give food or money, now would be a good time to get on down there! The Salvation Army Thrift Store on 10th Ave is where to give donations.

I looked at a list of celebrity sightings today on a popular web site, but that only made me wonder about something. Who would be on a list of celebrities if we asked Jesus to publish His list? At times I tend to think that I wouldn't make the list. I haven't done enough or am not good enough, or some other disqualifying thing prevents me from being on the list. Whose list is it anyway? The problem with that kind of thinking is that you and I ain't making the list! Jesus' list of celebrities does include you and me because of what HE has done, not what you and I have or have not done. We wouldn't have time in this life to view a slide show of Jesus' favorite celebrities. Yes, for the most part that list would be quite different from those the world holds up as celebrated. If you and I are saved, born again in Christ, and beloved by Him, we are celebrities in His book.

Enjoy your celebrity in Christ today!