Sunday, February 28, 2010

Long Ago, or Just Yesterday? - February 28, 2010

Good Sunday morning! Today is my dear mother's birthday. Here is a Happy Birthday shout out to Mom; who raised me and my siblings through the various joys, problems, and trials of childhood. Those years are a ways in the past for me, but just like yesterday for Mom!

The relative value of time has been expressed in many ways. One way we might think about from time to time, pun intended, is that although it seems far in the past to us, the sacrifice and resurrection of His Son was just like yesterday to God. Part of this is the omniscient nature of our Lord, but another part is that we remind Him daily by our sins and good works. The sins made the sacrifice necessary; the good works come out of Christ's resurrection and love for us.

Of course, we want the good works to outnumber the sins, but that doesn't always happen. Some in the world even think it possible to be "good enough" to pass the entrance exam to Heaven. We know from our Bible reading that no one is good enough to meet God's standard. Yesterday, (literally, not in the metaphorical sense) I was reminded once more about trying versus trusting. We try to get by without sinning, we try to produce good works, and we try to witness, but often fail. We should be trusting in Jesus to take us away from sin, to strengthen us to seize every opportunity for good works, and to lead us in testifying to His glory! I still fall back into the trying and failing part way too often. We must learn in this life, learn to trust in Jesus.

Have a new Sunday in Christ!


Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Lifelong Project - February 27, 2010

Good Saturday morning! A new method this morning, I'll try to compose the devotional on the blog and copy it to the e-mail. The taxes still lurk on my desk; I'm already late (for me) this year and need to get on with it. Have you put off a project, afraid to start because it's too big for you? We all have ways of dealing with the big project. Some of us put it off, others dive in, but either method requires starting and enduring the long hours of labor. Hmmm, almost sounds like I'm speaking of something else there...

There is a lifetime project that all of us face - that of salvation. We aren't finished when we accept Jesus as Lord. The work of our salvation only begins at that point. So do we need to join a salvation work out group, hire a save coach, and start this big project? No and no, the work of salvation is done both for us and to us. We don't know how to save ourselves and we don't know what is best for us in regard to timing and the relationship with Jesus.

This isn't to say that He doesn't give us work to do. We have God's word to study, groups to fellowship with, sermons to listen to and learn, songs to sing, tithes to give, and the Good News to spread in this life. God will manage the trials and turbulence as He purifies our faith in making us just right for His kingdom.

I have often thought how much easier it would be to get saved and then be called home by the Lord. We all entertain thoughts of avoiding some of the trials we face in this life. However, what might be easier for each of us, does not satisfy the Master. God will not allow any of us to come home to Him until we are perfected in His eyes. When I take that into account, I realize with some dismay that I might be here until I'm 350 years old! Of course, not only is God the perfectionist, but He is also more timely than that with each of His little projects that are you and me. We will be ordered home one day. Part of waiting for that great day is learning patience and endurance.

Wait patiently on the Lord, and know that He is working on the project that is your salvation and sanctification.


Friday, February 26, 2010

Blog posting - February 26, 2010

Good Friday morning! The cut and paste is not working for the blog since I changed PC's. No fix has been posted on the Microsoft forum yet, but I'm hoping that I can do the blog posts again without retyping everything each day. Not that it would be so much work, but as I retype, I would be tempted to change things, which would make the blog entry different from the e-mail devotional sent out each day.

God bless, Bucky

Friday, February 12, 2010

Pain and Kindness - February 12, 2010

Good Friday morning! Wow, the wear and tear from the past few days has caught up with me this morning. I do believe that I will take it easy on the physical stuff today. Then I read a story of suffering borne up by the strength of God. We may not realize all the suffering that goes on around us. Christ-ones sit beside us in a group, work with us setting up an event, or meet with us for coffee and conversation; what stories of suffering might they tell if we could see into their thoughts? God knows who is hurting and listens to their suffering. We don't always think about our Lord knowing and feeling the suffering that goes on every moment of every day on this cursed Earth. Since Adam and Eve shared the forbidden fruit, God has known the pain in His creation.

Before we dwell overmuch on the pain here, we should also think about the love and kindness in this creation we live in. God also knows the kind acts you do, the love you show, and the acts of forgiveness. An act of personal sacrifice for God's glory is a perfectly sweet offering to give to the one who died for our sins. An act of kindness stores up treasure in Heaven. Sin will not bring down God's creation, and the grave will not win the war over God's holy ones. Tales of suffering will abound in this world, and you will feel pain and suffering of your own in this life. However, we can be borne up by the strength and mercy of God's Holy Spirit.

Give a little love back today, pray it forward in Christ.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Feeling Special! - February 11, 2010

Good Thursday morning! My birth father, Denzil, out in West Virginia wanted to pass along that they had 31 inches of snow as of yesterday, and expected to get more. Yikes! That's a lot of snow. Pastor Doug wanted to pass along his gratitude that Congress has been called off on account of snow; it seems they do a lot less harm when not in session. Well, what do we do out here in Western Nebraska? It seems that winter has grabbed up much of the eastern lands this year and will not easily let go. I have heard that the global warming folks want to use various methods to cool the planet. I wonder how well that suggestion would go down out east this morning? Perhaps we should think twice and pray many more times before we start large efforts to mess with the planet's weather.

Tonight the Valentine's Day festivities begin. We will start with a little meeting to set up tables and chairs for the events this weekend. Men and women will hit the stores to buy a small gift for their particular valentine, and some folks will buy many gifts to give to many valentines in what may be a misguided effort to find one permanent valentine. I know about the second part because I tried doing that some years back. I can tell you that it doesn't work. Trying to gain a valentine by using what amounts to a marketing campaign doesn't endear a person to any one of the recipients. You see they get together and compare your approach, the gift, and you in general. If you get the same gift for all of them, you're in trouble; if you get different gifts for each of them... you're really in trouble! If you miss one potential valentine on your list, you're better off calling in sick the next day. Valentines like to be remembered, but that's only part of the equation; he or she also likes to be special. Giving out 50 or 100 valentine's doesn't make any one of them feel very special.

We like to feel special. If you receive the Publishers Clearing House letter, it probably doesn't make you feel very special since everyone gets 'em. However, a note or card from an individual addressed directly to you does make you feel special. A few years ago, Jesus addressed a love note directly to each one of us. After God had created you to be a special and unique creation of His very own, He sent His own Son to save you. How can I say this? Didn't Jesus die for everyone?

Look at it this way. When a ransom is paid, the person for whom that ransom is paid is named. A kidnapper demands a ransom per person and the party paying the ransom names the person he or she is buying back. A kidnapper might have many victims and you want your loved one back, not just any victim. I think that Jesus had to do the same for us. He named each person as He paid the price on the cross. That doesn't mean that Jesus went through and said, "I'll pay for her, but not that guy." Remember that when you are saved your name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life? Yup, those folks are the ones Jesus named in His ransom payment. Sin already holds all of us hostage at birth. However, unlike with earthly kidnappers, we the victims can say, "I accept!" and Jesus pays the ransom. Jesus will take any victim who believes in Him, and He names each one by name. Now that, makes me feel special!

Have a great pre-Valentine's Day special friend and love of Jesus our Lord!


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Blank Slate - February 10, 2010

Good Wednesday morning! A compliment was paid to me in a comment about a blog o' mine a couple of weeks ago. "Great minds think alike." I had to digest that for a bit, for we tend to belittle ourselves when Christ calls upon us to humble ourselves. Do you and I have great minds? Yes, I think so, but not because of what we have done in training or education, but through what Christ has done in us. We have great minds in Christ! We do think alike because the Holy Spirit lives in us.

When you and I gave our lives to Jesus, He made us a blank slate for Him to write upon. Jesus began speaking to others through our conversation, speaking, writing, drawing, singing, and whatever talent or method each of us has to shine a little light into this dark world. You may have a talent for computer work and wonder how that can proclaim the Good News. How you do your job and live your life is a statement to what Christ has done in your life. Your talent may not at first seem like a platform for spreading the Good News, but your very life in Christ is a reflection of God's good work in you! We can be glad to be a blank slate for Jesus to write upon.

In past times, God spoke to single prophets and kings. After all it was easy to get the attention of the people when not listening to the king might cause him to lop off your head for getting caught at it. In a way, we have decentralized the power a bit in our present day. Many people don't listen when our president speaks, and even fewer care what their senators and representatives have to say. People have also split up into thousands of churches, and that only includes those that go to a church. So, did that stop God from spreading the Good News? Not a bit! God sent out millions of Good News spreaders throughout the world. On television or radio, from a pulpit or a chair in a living room, from a written note to blogs on the Internet, God spreads His Word through lots of little lights shining in the darkness. That blank slate He made of us is made of a highly reflective material - we shine with God's great light. Not only does God write upon that blank slate, but He also polishes it to shine brighter for Him.

Take a moment to see the shine God has put on your life. Give glory to God!


Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Time for All - February 9, 2010

Good Tuesday morning! Have you ever been engaged in some task when a little head or hand or paw tries to wriggle its way into your attention or lap? Probably this happens fairly often if you have kids or pets at home. At times, you may feel a bit of irritation. You might tell the offending party, "there just isn't enough room for you right now!" What if God said that to us at any time?

We fear that event, even though it has never happened. We put our own shortcomings on God. Our Father in Heaven has never turned anyone away who sincerely and humbly seeks Him. God also promises through His Son that a rejection will never happen to those who seek salvation in Christ. We can come to God at any time without fear of rejection or of irritating our heavenly Father. This is very different from what happens here on earth. Just as you may be caught at a bad moment by one you love, so you have probably been on the other side of that in your youth or even recently. We just don't always have the time for each other. In my case, I couldn't type over the top of a cat this morning; she will have to wait for a bit while I send out some love to y'all.

I look forward to the time when Jesus is here among us once more and we have time for everyone all the time and anytime they come by. Can you imagine having a big enough lap for all your children at once, even though they are full-grown? How about the time and strength to play with everyone you know for days and days? That time will come for us; and isn't that some great news to share?

Have a wonderful new day in Christ Jesus!


Monday, February 08, 2010

Saints Win! - February 8, 2010

Good Monday morning! I suspect that a few of the working folks in New Orleans might call in sick today for work. Congratulations to the New Orleans Saints! The team was not picked to win the Super Bowl, but they did. It's kind of fun to see an underdog win the big one. Oops, here we are going on about the Saints when Kerri is reading this out in Indianapolis. I hear the students in Indiana get an extra hour to relive the disappointment this morning before they have to report for classes. Perhaps we place too much of our lives into a simple football game? I don't know about that, but the Super Bowl does give us a great excuse to come together for a time of fellowship. My life group came over last night to do just that, and to rate the commercials of course.

The corporate sponsors had some good commercials last night, but did you catch the Focus on the Family effort with Tim Tebow and his mother? After all the controversy I had read in the media, I was kind of disappointed in the actual commercial. There didn't seem to be much, um... to be controverted about. The Pythonesque tackling the old lady thing was upstaged by the Snickers commercial with Betty White, and the message seemed kind of tame. I suppose I might ask Dr. Dobson if we are to be the salt of the world, or the sugar?

Of course, we must also remember that in spite of the enormous pile of loot paid for each Super Bowl commercial, the network still has a lot of veto power over the content it seems. The content of Focus on the Family's commercial may have been toned down by the network to avoid any more controversy. The "tame" commercial we viewed may be more of a comment on the world as it is, than on the message of Focus on the Family. If you had to make the decision on the commercial for FotF, would you take what the network would give you or hold out for all or nothing? I suppose that I would go with some message, toned down though it may be, is better than no message at all. Sometimes we have to say or write what we can, and then let the Holy Spirit take it from there. After all, our own effort will accomplish nothing without the power of Jesus and the life-changing message of the Holy Spirit. It's easy to holler "no compromise" at someone else. Praise God the commercial was aired last night.

The weather folks say that we are going to have a cold day, but not buried in 2 feet of new snow like the folks way out east are. Please remember the people of Haiti in your prayers today.


Sunday, February 07, 2010

Take the Time - February 7, 2010

Good Sunday morning! The schedule said Dr. Charles Stanley was on, the television picture said something different. A man was talking about his experience with one of the new workout programs. He said that at the first he couldn't do 20% of what the models on the screen could do. The man kept going though and eventually accomplished the weight loss and fitness goals he set for himself. We tend to make fun of those videos and infomercials, but they do have one thing in common - setting realistic goals and putting forth a steady effort. We are right not to believe the claims of extreme weight loss or getting fit in just a few days. Both activities take time and effort over the long haul. However, we then turn around and expect to become great teachers and missionaries for Christ in the same short amount of time.

If you set out to write the next epistle to the Romans tomorrow, you may find that your letter doesn't quite measure up to what Paul wrote. After Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus, he spent time in study and prayer, about 3 years if I recall correctly. Paul ministered in many places first and participated in many discussions. According to the Bible timeline, Paul first knew Jesus around A.D. 35, but didn't write his great letter to the Roman church until around A.D. 57. With all of his education and training in the Law, Paul still didn't do his wonderful writing for many years. Imagine if Paul had begun writing his letter to the Romans immediately upon regaining his sight on the street called Straight.

We would have a rather different letter I suspect, one in which a very young Christ-one was still working out his faith, and had many more questions than answers for the Romans. We too need to spend the time and put forth the effort to grow in our knowledge of our Lord Jesus. We may not have 20 years or more to put into it as Paul did, but we have Romans, the Gospels, and many other books in the our Bibles to study. We don't have to write Romans, we study and learn. We don't have to wait for Jesus to speak the Sermon on the Mount outside our towns, we can read it in Matthew. Time is short, as Jesus noted many years ago, and the harvest is ready. We have the Bible to study and a certain urgency to motivate us along as the end times close in. However, time will never escape God's control. Take the time to study and learn about God; enjoy a quiet walk with our Lord Jesus, and work out your faith in God's good time.

Praise God for the Bible, His holy Word!


Friday, February 05, 2010

A System of Sin - February 5, 2010

Good Friday morning! A little more snow, a little more cold, but nothing too serious for us. The eastern part of Nebraska is having, like, this totally different winter from us, dude! Have we been declared two states? Just think, we could cut the 20 larger states in half, move up to 70 states, 140 senators, and uncountable swarms of new government employees, totally gumming up the works for decades to come. Actually, Texas is good for 4 smaller states all by itself, we could... ah, never mind! Most systems in this world are not so bad that we cannot make them worse with but a little effort and ingenuity. However, one system stands out as the worst.

You may have never given thought to sin as a system of actions, things, events, and agents with a power and intelligence behind it. We underestimate the Adversary when we do not take into account the powerful system he has set up over the centuries. We think of governments who have proclaimed themselves as atheist, dictators given over to evil actions or intent, and corporations that somehow wandered off the ethical path, as examples of sinful organizations. However, we don't often think of these smaller entities as a part of an overall system of sin and evil pushed by a power.

Jesus acknowledged the power of our Adversary, and reminded us that greater still is God. "I don't have much more time to talk to you, because the prince of this world approaches. He has no power over me, but I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father. Come, let's be going." (John 14:30-31) We don't have to fear the evil system in this world, but we do need to be aware of it. The system of sin in this world has no power over Jesus. On the other hand, He has the power to execute judgement upon all agents and powers of sin. One day the penalty stored up by the evil system will be accomplished in the mighty power of Jesus.

Until then, trust in God and follow Jesus!


Prayer Requests!

Don't forget the tragedy in Haiti. Pray for the people there and the ongoing relief effort.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Picked Up in the Morning! - February 4, 2010

Good Thursday morning! Have you ever felt completely overthrown during one evening? The next morning a few words from the Bible bring you past that to a new dawn of invincibility in the Lord. A knowledge that we are more than conquerors in Christ envelopes our downtrodden minds and the new dawn is something to get up for; an event to see and a new life to live! Is it simply a night of sleep that does it? How could that be when we have experienced many nights of no respite from the circumstances of this world? The problems haven't disappeared in the morning light, but we seem to know that those problems are conquerable and surmountable in the strength of our Lord Jesus. We know that if we have stumbled in our walk with Christ, He is ever quick to forgive us, to pick us up and set us on the way once more.

The Holy Spirit in us brings a certainty that one day these problems will be gone and we will stand together in Christ and with Christ. I don't mean that our problems will keep us down throughout this life. We often think that only when we see Christ will our personal mountain of problems be taken away. However, Christ gives us the power to conquer in this life! We get up in the morning and the Holy Spirit reminds us that God's strength is more than sufficient. Start again with a renewed mind; put the defeat of yesterday in the past where it belongs and rise up to new heights in Christ!

We have heard the old saw about music having charms to soothe the savage beast or breast, depending upon the version. Did you know that music can help soothe high blood pressure? Of course, it must be the right kind of music. That fight song from your alma mater probably won't soothe. You might try some praise and worship music. My savage breast likes Caedmon's Call, Newsboys, Casting Crowns, Point of Grace, and others. The savage beast, on the other hand, sleeps to most anything as long as I don't turn it up too loud for him.

Pick up your cross this morning. Turn on a little praise music, and walk confidently in the Lord!


Wednesday, February 03, 2010

No Pity Party - February 3, 2010

Good Wednesday morning! I dined alone again yesterday; just me, a one-person prayer group; all alone in the world; no friends; no one to talk to... boo hoo hoo.

We know that's hardly the case! Jesus is with us everywhere we go; a steadfast friend at all times, a rock in the tempest, and the foundation of all that is to come in the New Earth. Dining on ashes at a pity party, feeling sorry for yourself, moaning about the circumstance we find ourselves in - these are not the way of Jesus. Some of the worst times in my life were made much worse by wasting time feeling sorry for myself, instead of looking to Jesus where my eyes belonged.

Yesterday I did know from e-mails that I would probably be the only one there. Burt was out of town, Steve chained to a desk, and Ric had snuck out once more to ride trains; leaving me to carry the banner for our group and make sure that our favorite server, Candis, didn't miss us for this week. Mission accomplished and I enjoyed a good breakfast too.

So anyway, what was I writing about today... oh, yeah, not feeling sorry for ourselves. In the trials of this life, as we struggle at times to follow Christ, we often forget to keep our eyes on Jesus, who is, of course, the One we belong to. The one leading us through the trials we face is Jesus, and He will never leave us behind or forget our weakness. Would you forget someone you valued enough to die for? Of course not, and neither will our Lord. Point to your heart and say, "I have no fear, Jesus is here!" Yes, I too have to remind myself of that a lot. We have a tendency to look at the circumstances and the world around us. We see the forces arrayed against us and the evil of the times and forget to look at our Lord. The one who saves is the one who stands, firm, unconquered and unconquerable, the Almighty One!

Have a strong, faith-filled day in Christ Jesus!


Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Groundhog Day 2010

Good Tuesday morning! Every morning one of the two cats is very enthusiastic about breakfast; the other gets up more like I do - slowly. Like most everyone, I like for my pets to show enthusiasm at breakfast time. A little gratitude for my efforts makes the process fun for both of us. I was thinking that I need to dance around a little more when I am grateful for something that God has provided. David danced in front of the ark as it was moved to Jerusalem; I need to dance in front of my blessings as God moves me toward my home. Perhaps we cannot literally dance, the world might lock us up if we dance in front of our shopping cart in the checkout lane, but we need to show a little gratitude to our heavenly Father. I am not the most graceful of human beings; dancing in some cases would be dangerous to my self and others, but there is certainly time to show more gratitude for all that God has provided to me. For all the things that I ask for, God certainly deserves all my gratitude.

All of us have so much from our heavenly Father and His Son. We have material things, but more importantly we have our salvation, the gift of grace. We have opportunity to witness and to grow in Christ. We have joy and His everlasting peace. We have an undeserved love that rises above all the sins in our lives. We have each other. We have friends and spouses, children and houses, and all the good things in this life. How 'bout showing a little gratitude today?

Praise God for the new day! I have a sneaking suspicion that little rodent out east is going to predict six more weeks of winter - hang on to your hats!


Monday, February 01, 2010

A Good Fall? - February 1, 2010

Good Monday morning! February is here, the first month of 2010 is gone already! The first indication was in my gathering 2009 tax documents and mentally preparing to tackle the beast this week. I typically file on the early side, but since Jesus makes all things new...maybe I will wait this year? No, we don't use our Lord as an excuse to put things off. Work is work, and when it's time to get on it, we need to get on it. A little BarlowGirl on the stereo this morning to help get me going.

A pop culture reference sometimes triggers a few thoughts in my cranium and yesterday was no different. A movie title from a few years back, Eyes Wide Shut, popped into my head. The movie was advertised a lot, but I don't think it was a very good effort. However the title is sometimes useful in describing what happened to Adam and Eve after they fell for the serpent's deception. One of the temptations presented to Eve was that her eyes would be opened by eating the forbidden fruit. Sometimes we use 'apple' as the forbidden fruit, but that's unfair to apples. Okay, to get back to the point!

The serpent said that her eyes would be opened, but we know from our own experience that Adam and Eve, and all their descendants, in fact had their eyes wide shut. Where they could see the face of God, they now could not bear his countenance in their sin and hid from Him. Where they could see the light, they now saw the darkness of rebellion. Where they had walked with the Truth, now they could only see the lies of the world. We don't yet realize just how much was lost in that fall! Adam and Eve now felt shame and tried to hide their nakedness with clothing. They had walked with their Creator and all animals, but now both Creator and creations were estranged.

Paul tells us that all creation groans under the Curse of that first sin. Yesterday, I saw a television show where a mother sea lion groaned over her cub which had lost its life in a storm. I couldn't help but be reminded of nature groaning under the curse, looking forward to that day when we will be redeemed forever by Jesus. The bad thing about the Fall is where we are now and what we suffer in this portion of our lives; the good thing about the Fall is Jesus and what He is holding safe for us awaiting His return. We cannot 'see' what awaits us yet, our eyes have been shut by the Fall, but we trust in Jesus and base our hope on Him!

Praise God for the new week, and watch out for that rodent tomorrow! :-)