Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day - May 31, 2010

A great and glorious Memorial Day to you! Looks like Sidney chose the right day for their Memorial Day ceremony; what a beautiful day it was yesterday! Today we have the wind back and the clouds are moving in. However, today is still the day we remember those who gave their lives for their country. Today we set aside the arguments over whether the country was right or wrong in a given case - those who served often had no choice in the matter - and we simply celebrate their ultimate sacrifice.

Today, we also come to John 1:5 in our study. "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it."

Jesus also said that greater love hath no man than he lay down his life for his friends. We celebrate the lives laid down for our nation, but more often than not the life laid down was given for those buddies around the soldier in the fox holes, the sailor in the ship compartments, the pilots in the planes, and the Marines in the landing craft. A nation can be a bit far away and abstract when the possibility of death is close in combat. Friends, shipmates, buddies - these are close and human when the darkness threatens. That darkness doesn't dim the ultimate sacrifice.

Jesus gave his life as an example to us, and as a ransom for us. We enjoy freedom from sin through the sacrifice of Jesus. We enjoy freedom to worship through the sacrifice of many who died in the many conflicts our nation has become involved in over the years. At times we become impatient and frustrated over the darkness that seems to engulf our nation. We can be grateful today for the sacrifice that made possible the freedom of speech, the press, and public assembly that brings the darkness out into the open. We can also use that same freedom to take a stand for Christ and light up the darkness with His good news!

Thank God for the sacrifice of Christ and those soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who laid down their lives in our nation's service on this day,


Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Light of Creation - May 29, 2010

Good Saturday morning! Some lights are difficult to photograph; the sun is too bright, the moon not bright enough most of the time. However, you need light for photography to work. Last night I found that I am not nearly steady enough to photograph the moon. I did get to enjoy a wonderful view of God's creation though.

John 1:4 gives us a new insight into Jesus. "The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone." Every creature and plant that we see around us was given life by God's Word. This puts us in opposition to the current intellectual opinion in the world which says that an accident or event at random started evolution. Once more we run up against the choice of believing exactly what the Bible says, or clinging to the world's beliefs. The Bible does not seem to allow for compromise with the world.

Jesus, the Word, isn't finished in this verse though. As if giving life to everything wasn't enough for one verse, John also says that Jesus gave light to everyone through his life. Jesus is often referred to as the light of the world. Christ brought enlightenment through his teachings while alive in the flesh, and then brought the light of his resurrection into a darkened world. Who refuses to believe that God created everything? Of course the very ones that Jesus warned us about - those who love the darkness more than the light.

Did you feel a twinge of shame just there? The 'we don't want to offend anyone' kind of shame perhaps? The world has trained us well; we immediately feel that desire to hide our light so as not to offend those who might not agree with us. However, that is a false feeling. You and I believe in Jesus. Those who choose to not believe in Christ will love the darkness. This isn't something we have done to offend them, but the very teaching of the Bible. There should be no shame and we must learn to unlearn the world's training. When we state a verse like John 1:4 and believe it with all of our heart, we are going to find opposition in the world. Remember, that opposition is in rebellion against our Lord; a little offense is the least of their worries. One day the one who gave life to everything and brought his light into the world will sit in judgement on that same world.

Have a great Saturday!


Friday, May 28, 2010

Created? - May 28, 2010

Good Friday morning! Gee, I can't think of what might be happening today with my neighbors; why do they all seem to be going somewhere? Yes, today at some point most folks will begin the Memorial Day weekend. Every year I pray that at least some of them will stop on Monday to remember what the weekend is about. Until then, I pray for their safety as people do get a little excited at the first three-day weekend in five months for many of them. A government official says the oil gusher has been stopped in the gulf; we all hope the official is correct in that. And I saw a report that ultrasound is being used to convince more mothers to become mothers instead of murderers of unborn children. Praise the Lord for that good news!

Today, speaking of children, John 1: 3 - God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him.

Everything? Do you mean that viruses are not an example of sin, but were created by God through Christ? That would appear to be exactly what was said in this verse. Now this doesn't mean that viruses were created to do the damage they do any more than humans were created to do the damage we do. All of creation has fallen due to Adam's sin; we don't get to blame God for that. God, through Jesus, created every thing including the demons, viruses, man-eating predators, and even that gunky oil stuff. God created oil deep underground though, not the nasty oil slick that our greed for gasoline helped create in the gulf.

Does the creation of everything make God, through Jesus, responsible for all that has happened then? Yes...until the part of creation to whom he gave a powerful gift decided to rebel. The power of choice, to decide to obey and trust God or to go it alone, is a powerful gift. However, in a way it is too bad our ultimate ancestors decided to explore the knowledge of good and evil. On the other hand, we still have the same choice they did, only we get to make it from a fallen state. God is not responsible for our choice; we are. But God in his infinite wisdom decided to save us, if we will obey and trust in Him.

The one who created everything, created everything through the one who would come down to earth to save us. Somewhere before the beginning, Jesus volunteered to save us from Adam's decision to see the dark side. We who have the opportunity to go our own way, can also decide to follow the Way. Once the creation rebelled, God didn't have to let his son do this for us, but Jesus took responsibility for the sheep who would know him as Lord. Praise the Lord that's me, and you, and anyone who will believe the good news of Christ Jesus! Through Jesus everything was created and through Jesus all can be saved who will believe.

God bless you all on this weekend of faith!


Thursday, May 27, 2010

An Eyewitness to the Beginning - May 27, 2010

Good Thursday morning! John 1:2 states: He existed in the beginning with God. A single verse can be at times difficult to understand. Who was in the beginning? Who is He? We have a lot of questions about the beginning. The story of the Creation in Genesis is hard to understand with our present knowledge. We naturally perk up to listen when we find out in John 1:2 that someone was there. An eyewitness watched as God created the heavens and the earth? Tell us more!

An eyewitness has often been our next best source for news, evidence, and word of events. The best source is to be there ourselves, but we can't see every event or exist in every time and place. Having an eyewitness to the beginning fills us with a longing to know more, but also a hope that we cannot quite define. He was there at the beginning with God... what a statement of depth of knowledge and experience! We want to meet the "He" and talk with him; we have lots of questions about the beginning. However, as far as I can tell, Jesus didn't answer questions about the Creation and the disciples didn't ask any. Why do we seem to have so many questions about the beginning now?

One reason is that the story of Creation was already set down in Genesis. The Word had already been given to us. When the rich man in Hell asked Abraham to send a messenger from the dead to his brothers, Abraham informed him that those men had Moses and the prophets already. Another testimonial was not provided until Jesus rose from the dead. Of course we know from the Bible account that many still did not believe; just as Abraham said they wouldn't in Jesus' parable.

Another reason may be that Jesus had more important subjects to discuss with the disciples. All of humanity needed salvation, and few or none realized their need for it at the start of Christ's ministry. That's a mission big enough for most anyone, but Jesus did much more as well. We will get to the stories of those deeds soon.

Taken alone this verse has an interesting other meaning as well - John was there at the beginning of Christ's ministry. In other words, he was there at the beginning with God in the flesh as a new story began. John was the eyewitness to Christ that we want to hear as he tells his story.

Praise the Lord for the word of the witness!


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Word - May 26, 2010

Good Wednesday morning! Something new today for you. We are going to start on John. The first verse is one that sounds a lot like the start of another book: Genesis.

In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)

However, John actually goes back before the start of Genesis. When God created the heavens and the earth, the Word was already there. The Word was with God when the earth and heavens were formed too. Then John tells us who this "Word" is: the Word was God. Later we will find out the Word is also someone very dear to us, but for now: The Word is God. Why the Word?

If you had a close friend, the first choice of a name for him or her would probably not be "the Word". In the dictionary, word has a wealth of meanings, but a couple of somewhat uncommon usages come to mind this morning, "the word is given" and "you have my word." We hear the first one used now and then in reference to a command. 'The word is given' means to execute the command or to go forth. The sound of it is somewhat archaic and a bit formal and majestic in our ears. We expect to hear this in an old novel or perhaps in a Shakespearean play. We like to think that the Word was given to us in the way of a gift, but we forget that the Word has been given to us as a command.

The other phrase, you have my word, is spoken as a promise between people. We don't use it as much as we should, but at one time to give your word was to commit yourself to an act as a promise. Politicians still use it from time to time, but so often do they fail of their word that no one believes them. We tend to shy away from giving our word because of this. God on the other hand is not human that He should fail of His word. We have been given both a command and a promise in the Word.

John begins his gospel by establishing the identity of the Word. In case we should have any doubts, the Word was God.

More on this tomorrow as we go to John 1:2!


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Acting Nonchalant - May 25, 2010

Good Tuesday morning! Whoo! We had four weather notices going at the same time yesterday. Any loose items around the house and yard are now in a far country too. The freeze warning for last night didn't happen, but the wind warning might have been understated a bit. A thunderstorm went by at 70mph yesterday, which may explain why no tornadoes had time to drop down. Both of my just repainted lighthouses were blown over yesterday and every tumbleweed in the county got relocated. This morning the weather is acting as though nothing at all happened. The sun is shining, the wind is calm, and the storms have passed. We like to act that way too. Just after we have messed up the whole lot; we look around to see if anyone was watching and then mosey off as though nothing has happened. Ah, but someone was watching and we well know it.

God is not fooled when we act as though nothing happened. We need repentance and forgiveness to go on in this life. Repentance starts with admitting to God that you did the deed, committed the sin, or hurt another person. Forgiveness is easier, we simply ask God to forgive after we repent of the act. Forgiveness is a blessing, and a blessing means happiness. To repent of something we did, to be genuinely sorry and regretful can be tough. We come face to face with the sinner in ourselves and admit to God that we need His strength to go on. Forgiveness is God telling us that we will be made alright with Him, and that one day our hearts and minds will be washed clean.

Like the morning after the stormy day, we can face the world with the blessing of forgiveness on our faces. I have a hat that states: Christians ain't perfect, but Jesus is! Our state of forgiveness is not based on what we feel, for that is imperfect. Our forgiveness is based upon what Jesus has done, and He is perfect. Just as you and I trust in the Lord to guide us, so we must also trust in the Lord to forgive us - perfectly as is all that He does.

Have a wonderful new day; you are forgiven in Christ!


Monday, May 24, 2010

The Chase - May 24, 2010

Good Monday morning! Last night my vacuum cleaner chased down, caught, and tried to eat my ironing board tail first. Unfortunately, the ironing boards tail got caught around the vacuum's roller and we had the wonderful scent of burning rubber in the house. I'm not sure what the vacuum had against the ironing board, but that may be the reason the cats flee from the vacuum. If you had a long vacuum-edible appendage hanging off your backside, you might have a different opinion of certain household appliances too. What things do we tend to chase like a hungry vacuum cleaner?

Some of us chase wealth above all else; others chase fame, and others are after power or authority. We have a long list of addictions that some of us chase with self-destructive abandon, and then we have the lengthy catalog of entertainments available these days. The Bible has a different message for us... if we will take the time to read it and obey. The cat will chase most anything that moves in this house, but you and I are called to be more selective. Just what are these things the Bible would have us chase?

Should we chase happiness or what the King James version of the Bible calls a blessing? You bet, and Jesus gives us a list of blessings to chase in the Sermon on the Mount. Should we chase love? Yes indeed; Jesus told us to love God above all and to love your neighbors as yourself. No, the world's idea of chasing love does not quite agree with that, but we are talking about what the Bible would have us pursue. Should we pursue knowledge? Absolutely, but with care. An accumulation of knowledge can bring pride. We should also chase good works, good fellowship, and good giving in this life. And finally, we need to chase down sinners and tell them the good news of Jesus Christ!

We have quite a few good things to pursue in this life. Pray for the patience and determination to chase those things that we ought to pursue in this life.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

What We Do or Don't Think About - May 23, 2010

Good Sunday morning! A dozen things come easily to mind when I think about what I should think about. The person I should pray for; the organization I should remember in my giving; and even the friend I should go see now and then. All those things and needs that I don't remember when I should, or that I forget when I shouldn't. But what about those bogeymen that we do think about? The financial worry for next year; the anxiety about this or that, and perhaps you still have that bogeyman in your closet from childhood. We may find daydreams slipping in that contain subject matter we shouldn't dwell on. We might even manage to tempt ourselves by thinking thoughts that we shouldn't think. All this just means that we are lost on our own.

We need the Holy Spirit of God to tap us on the mental block almost daily. "Think this, not that!" Prayer and Bible study help us to think of the right things and avoid the mental temptations we suffer daily. Gratitude to God can change our attitude toward life. Praising God will lift our spirits away from the problems of today. Thinking of the needs of others will help us to love our neighbors; just as Jesus commanded us to do. We have many opportunities each day to think of the right things and put our faith into action. Praise God for the new day!


Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Early Morning Light - May 22, 2010

Good Saturday morning! Geese and rabbits and robins, oh my! Not too many people up and about when I went out this morning. I can see from the photos that I still have much to learn. When I took the first photos a couple of months ago my standards of photographic excellence were pretty low. As I have taken more photos, I realize that most of them are not the best, and some show evidence of, dare I say it... mistakes on my part. Too dark, out of focus, or just plain dull, the photos are not good except as learning tools.

The early morning light is good, but simply having the light shine right is not all there is to it. We can see this one coming... yup, our Christian life is much the same. We have the perfect light of Jesus, but we might have our spiritual eye just a bit out of focus, or we try to blend the light and the dark in our philosophy on some point. This light, unlike the sun, doesn't blend at all with the darkness for a kind of soft, half-light. The light of Jesus banishes all darkness, we cannot blend the two no matter how much our flesh might like to make the attempt.

The world is in the process of making a one-size, one-planet, religion that fits everyone. One way folks will know when that one-world religion has arrived is when the one-world government says accept the state religion or die. We don't have that yet, praise God, and our hope is that those who believe in Christ will not have to be here to see it. Until that day, look to Jesus in faith.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Earning It - May 21, 2010

Good Friday morning! What a great day to wake up to the sun shining in my windows! I needed to start with some JJ Heller tunes this morning to get going. I got to bed late last night, and then was awokeneded rather rudely by a loud crack of thunder at some point. I think it was something like 0130 or so when the thunderstorm came through, but that may be a guess at best. Long story short, as they say now, I might need a little nappy-nap today.

Often in this devotional I will say something like "We all have felt..." but today, I don't know that all of us have felt this. So I will use myself as the example. I have felt the urge to get something without earning it. I'm speaking of awards or accolades, not the outright theft of something on a store shelf. However, getting an award or accolade I haven't earned would in fact be stealing it. I felt this most in my younger years when I wasn't happy or satisfied with who I was. Many of us may feel this urge, but every once in a while you hear about someone actually taking that step.

Today I read an article on MSNBC about a man who apparently lied about service in the Marines in order to get into the Army reserve as an NCO. From his picture in Marine dress blues, it looks like he awarded himself just about every possible decoration without getting into the obvious ones that cause a lot of publicity. Some folks just don't want to earn it.

We easily see how this man dishonored the uniform he put on and the service he gained entry into, but what isn't so obvious is how he also dishonored the many honest and unemployed people in our nation. Think of those you know who lost their jobs in the recession, with the exception of the one you know who heard the call to take up writing that is, and ask why they should be unemployed through no fault of their own while a man without integrity has both an Army reserve job and a regular job. He doesn't have a wife anymore, she found him out and had the marriage annulled on the grounds of fraud. Of course he also won't have his freedom much longer as he has been found to be a fraud.

Of course there is another question to ask: why am I writing about this again already? I suppose because it happened again already. In every period of war, and probably most times of peace, there have been those found out who claimed to be war heroes, but who in fact never served. When we feel the call to serve in our nation's armed forces and in the army of Christ, we get really ticked off when someone claims service without serving. Now do we begin to see why Jesus called out those who will make this claim before the judgement seat of Christ? Jesus made them a promise too: get away from me, I never knew you!

Don't be a false believer. Serve where you are called to serve. Go to work and do a good job for your employer; do a good job writing every day (that's me!); go see those you are called to see; do a good job for Jesus in all you do! It's not all work either: take time this weekend to serve your family by taking them out to play. Take time to take care of yourself too; you are a precious creation of God. Just don't claim to be someone you are not; our integrity is a valuable and rare jewel these days.

God bless,


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Needs Unknown - May 20, 2010

Good Thursday morning! Cloudy, cool, and a bit rainy once more; we have enjoyed some good rain this year. Ken Davis had a good illustration this morning. He said, "If you have to eat a frog, do it quick, because it will only get bigger while you hold on to it." I may have mussed up the quote a bit, but that is as close as I can remember right now. Often, the devotionals I read and listen to will trigger a subject for my own writing. A frog for example, was not the main point of Ken's piece this morning, but the subject makes me wonder.

At no point in its development does a frog look like the next stage in a frog's life cycle. An egg doesn't look like a tadpole, but it does grow into one, and the tadpole doesn't scream out "frog" when you look at it. However, God created the frog to develop just as it does from egg to tadpole to frog. The question this morning is: how would a tadpole know to pray for long jumping legs?

At some point in our development in Christ, we are not going to know what to ask for in the the next stage of life. Perhaps the next stage in your Christian journey is to be the church organist and you have never touched a set of organ or piano keys in your life. You don't know to pray for an organ teacher to come into your life or even that an organ will make it into your home for practice and training. Yet if God's will is that you become the church organist, these needs will be met even without your prayer. The need is completely unknown to you, but the Holy Spirit has already made intercession for you with God.

We see the future as a blind corner. We can make some guesses about what is around the next bend based on our current situation, but we have no idea what surprise may await. When we think of God's view from above, we tend to think that He sees everything from His lofty viewpoint alone. Actually, God not only sees from on high, but from His viewpoint as the Creator of all things and from His complete knowledge of...well, everything! You might just wake up tomorrow, walk around that blind corner, and trip over an organ bench.

Enjoy your journey to the mountain of Christ!


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Or You can Trust - May 19, 2010

Good Wednesday morning! We can worry about a hundred dreadful possibilities in our lives, or we can trust in God. We can disobey Jesus and worry about the level of our pantry, the lack of clothing in our drawers, and the empty bank account, or we can trust in God. We can worry for our friends and family, live in dread and fear, or we can trust in God. While that may seem like a lot of choices, all of them are the same: give in to your fears and worries, or trust in God. For me, there are simply too many fears and worries in the world.

We can line up the fears and worries like warriors attacking us one by one, sometimes giving a place at the head of the line to a particularly large one, or we can turn to God and trust. Learning to trust completely is not easy; sometimes one of those warriors in the worry line will reach up to tap you on the armor with his sword. The warriors in the worry line don't like to be ignored! We don't live this life by simply ignoring the worries though. God calls us to take up His strength and grace, put on the whole armor of God, and turn back to the fight. What if all those worry warriors attack at once though?

Jesus addressed this when telling us not to worry about our needs. The worries of the world can and are too much for any one of us to face all at once. We must learn in our trusting to give over those worries to God. When the time comes to face the problem, God will make sure that we are not overwhelmed if we will trust in Him. We do walk through the valley of death's shadow in this life journey. Take heart, look to God, and walk fully armed. Read the Word, pray, praise God, and walk with Jesus. The immediate future may look dark, but the eternal future looks brighter than our poor eyes can stand to see.

Have a wonderful new day in Christ!


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

God Provides an Answer! - May 18, 2010

Good Tuesday morning! We have an inborn desire to seek answers and we also enjoy the discovery of an answer in our searching. However, at other times, God provides the answer directly. Yesterday, at the urging of the Holy Spirit, I got out my voice recorder from its usual place in my headboard. There are 72 recordings on it and I started listening to them at the beginning. The first discovery, if you make only one voice recording of yourself, you will probably never make another. We all seem to go through the "I sound really goofy" phase when we do our first recording. As I got past that and began to listen to myself, I came upon a recording from a time of anxiety way back in the days before college was done and I still worked at that place up on the hill.

In that recording, I wondered about when to take up a writing career and when to leave my long time job. Of course that night I had no answers, but it was interesting to listen to myself questioning. As some of you know, a couple of years later, I graduated from college and God then provided the answer about when to leave my former employer. I believe that God set the date long ago, and then helped me to discover that particular answer by having security escort me out the front door. While that termination process was indeed painful; I did get what I had asked for: the Lord made it obvious and clear that the time had come. Did I learn some wisdom from those events? You bet, be careful... be very careful, what you ask for! :-)

Most of the time the answers that God provides are not nearly so painful. Often we delight in God's answers just as He does in giving us those answers. We have a lot of questions in this life and not all of those questions will be answered on this Earth. On the other hand, God does answer many questions and Jesus told us to keep on asking and seeking. I have begun a new journey in life. For my comfort, the Holy Spirit has sent assurances through my ministers that we are often called to start a journey for the Lord without assurances of the result. What assurances do we have? We have the assurance that Jesus will never leave us or forsake us; that God will provide food to eat and clothing to wear; and that all things work together for our own good. Wow, maybe I don't need to worry so much about the outcome! Faith takes a step toward the goal.

Have a wonderful new day in Christ!


Monday, May 17, 2010

Hopelessly Complex - May 17, 2010

Good Monday morning! Does your device need a driver to work with your PC? Of course it does! Sometimes it is pre-installed, other times the operating system can find the driver on the Internet, but once in a while you simply get nothing. The device may be too old, or the manufacturer has not kept up with the latest operating system, but you get no communication with the device. Many folks choose this time to call in professional help, whether it is someone they have to pay or their nephew Bernie. We live in a hopelessly complex world; no one knows everything about every device and connection we may need in today's technical jungle. Even nephew Bernie might have to look at the instructions once or twice to get things working.

We also live in a hopelessly legalistic world. Reams of new government regulations are created each year. For those of you too young to remember a ream of paper, we'll just say that gigabytes of new regs are made each year. If you are old enough in years and young enough at heart to know both then you realize the comparison isn't very good, but on with show as they say. As with technology, no one can possibly know all of the local, state, and federal regulations we live under each day. The larger the city you live in, the worse it gets. And we'll leave alone the tax code and the new health regulations!

Does science help us to understand the world and universe we live in? Yes and no; it seems the more we discover, the more we find there is to uncover. The greatest minds in science tend to change those minds from time to time. The lessons we learned in high school biology, astronomy, geology, and others back in the 70's (at least for me) have changed in some ways since then. We know more collectively, but realize also that we have much to learn. We also have a great many mistakes that will be changed in another 40 years or so. Sometimes you might wonder why we bother learning the latest theory.

Spiritually we have the answers, right? I'm not so sure. If you had no knowledge of religion or belief, but decided one day that religion held the answers for you, you might grab something like Ed Mecklenberg's Guide to the World's Religions. (Don't run down to your library; I'm making that up) The guide would take each religion, slice it and dice it, and tell you what the author sees from his academic high chair. You would read about all the ways the world has invented to earn your salvation from the good works of the Christians to the head down prayers of the Muslims to the recycled lives of the Hindus and many more. "Um, which one is correct?" you might ask after reading about several main religions and the myriad of offshoots, cults, and variations of each. You might just end up hopelessly confused in this hopelessly complex world.

We might just look at the alternative. What if one man didn't say, "I have the answer"; but instead showed up one day and said, "I am the answer!" What if one man said that we cannot earn our salvation, but that he would die to provide it to us simply for the asking? You might run back to that guide to wonder what you had missed. From the academic high seat, with properly detached emotions, the author of the guide will never see the truth about the Way, the Truth and the Life. Christianity is just another religion to many who claim to know about Jesus and many who have read the Bible. Christ, on the other hand, is a very personal savior and Lord to those who will believe first and study the Word second. What is the difference? Let me explain.

In my high school years and before, I read the Bible many times; mostly because someone said something like, "you will go to Hell if you don't read your Bible." I attended classes, memorized Bible verses and quoted scripture back, knelt in prayer and went up front for altar calls. Did any of that save me? No, for the Bible reminds us that our salvation is not of works, lest we should boast about all those duties we did and scriptures we could rattle off. My attitude as soon as I got away from home was that I had enough guilt in my job or school during the week, I didn't need any more on Sunday, and I quit the whole thing. This occurred after I got out of the proverbial and literal foxhole of course. You have probably heard people say the same things; the Annie Savoy character in the movie Bull Durham says it; you might have said the same thing. Guilt is the gravecloth the world wears to the wedding feast.

We don't really read the Bible until we first believe. The devil knows scripture; he quoted it to Jesus. We might grow up memorizing scripture, but we don't learn it in our hearts until we first believe in the inspiration for that scripture, Jesus Christ. The world may be hopelessly complex, but Jesus has a simple message for us: believe in Him and have eternal life. Sometimes it just seems too simple in this complex and fast-moving world, but praise God for the simple Good News! As Jesus told the people when He called Lazarus from the grave, "unloose him!"


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Another Rainy Day - May 16, 2010

Good Sunday morning! Yes, another rainy day has dawned. Are we having spring now? Could be, the temps haven't been quite so cold at night for the past couple of days. Praise the God of all creation for the new day!

How many times have you asked for forgiveness from God, and then for help, strength, courage, love, and the many other good qualities we wished that we displayed all the time? Does it seem to be a daily thing? How can I be saved if this is going on all the time; shouldn't I be righteous or perfect by now? By looking at our own condition, we look in the wrong direction for evidence of our salvation. Jesus accomplished our salvation; wouldn't it make more sense to look to Him for evidence?

The Holy Spirit guides us to look at our Lord for the proof of all the good that we do and all the good that has been done in us. None of us are perfect and we won't be until Jesus completes His work in us. If you are still on this earth, that work has not been completed yet. Wait on the Lord; do your best to have His patience with yourself. Did you stumble and fall already today? Trust in the Lord to forgive you and get up again. You have most of the day still before you!

Praise the name of Jesus!


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Endurance - May 15, 2010

Good Saturday morning! We have some rain again this morning; praise God for the moisture! This morning I wonder how we make it through this life? What mechanisms can we use to endure? I use comic strips to help get me started each morning. If the comic strippers do a poor job one morning, I could have trouble all day long. Some of you use coffee to get started, and keep going, through each day. I often mischievously thought of replacing the regular coffee with decaf to see what would happen to the workforce on a given day, but I would hate to be declared a national terror threat. We don't have the Great Depression, but we do have a Great Recession in our lives; how do we endure?

Mysterious medical maladies might massacre my mostly marvelous moods; how do I endure the strain of that? How do you endure the strain of my alliteration? Have you ever had enough of anything to be satisfied in this world? This is of course with the exception of the many times you might have enjoyed too much of something to be satisfied. I've noticed that it doesn't take an enormous amount of water in a person's basement to be too much. The same amount of water on your garden is gone in very little time and you must ask for more rain or irrigate. The good things in this life seem fleeting, the bad things seem to hang on for an eternity; how do we endure?

Making light of medical problems might cause a coworker to superstitiously predict your untimely demise. How do we endure the Dark Ages beliefs or our coworkers? First of all we must realize the cause of all that we must endure. We are fallen creatures in a fallen world. Sin stains most everything we see in this world. However, there is an answer to the question of sin and endurance. We find redemption in the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus, and we find the strength to endure through His Holy Spirit. The answer seems too simple, but there it is.

Enjoy the weekend!


Friday, May 14, 2010

The Prodigal Graduate - May 14, 2010

Good Friday morning! Today, a parable of Jesus re-told in a modern setting. You might call it the Parable of the Prodigal Graduate.

A man lived with two lovely daughters, twins from his wife who had left him for a younger man. The father made a promise to his daughters that he would pay the cost of their college education at any college they desired. The man also promised to start them in life with the best car that he could afford. The daughters thought long on this promise and made the first major decision of their young lives.

One daughter decided to stay home for a few years and work in her father's company. She would attend the state college when she had attained some maturity; saving her dear father much on the cost of tuition while saving up some money of her own from the job. She would trust in God that college, a husband, and a good job would all be there even with her delay in leaving. The young lady and her father enjoyed the time together, growing closer and preparing for the day when she too would depart for college.

The other twin longed to assert her individuality from both her father and her twin sister. She plotted in the depths of her heart to take all that her father would send with her now. Though she knew that her father would eventually split all he had between her and her twin, the years were long ahead of her and she didn't expect her father to pass from this world until both of them were well advanced in age. "What good would an inheritance do when she was 70?" she thought with just a hint of selfish bitterness.

The prodigal young lady chose to attend a college near Hollywood. She would take only enough classes to get by as a full-time student, while attending auditions for all the best movie roles. From her father she demanded not a car, but fully half of his current fortune. The father, though much grieved in heart, took his company public and divided the shares between his two daughters, himself, and his long-time employees. He dutifully gave half of his bank accounts to his departing daughter and also the money from a mortgage note for half the value of his properties. The loving father even took half of his 401K as a disbursement, and though the taxes were brutal and painful to bear, gave the full half to his departing daughter.

With her fortune, the departing daughter left town in the latest sports car with a trunk full of new clothes for her new life in Hollywood. Once there, she became busy with the latest auditions for this movie and that, quite forgetting about her promise to attend college in the crush of events. With her wealth and youth, she leased a fine home and threw parties to attract the industry bigwigs to her cause. As the movie industry is often in need of new young faces, she did obtain a small role here and there, never enough to quite support her mounting bills. Just one break, would put her over the top she thought.

The years went by and the twin who stayed home, though not related to the little piggy who did the same thing, did eventually go to college. The dutiful daughter graduated and worked her way up in her father's company, finally landing the position of CEO. The Hollywood daughter continued to find the going difficult, finally giving herself up to roles in the worst kinds of movies in order to support her lavish lifestyle and profligate parties, both of which she enjoyed to the hilt.

What came to be known as the Great Recession arrived in the land; companies laid off many, money for entertainment became scarce, and the government dumped truckloads of cash on its best banking buddies. While Hollywood did enjoy a resurgence in ticket sales, the now older actress found doors closed as her body of work in the dark side of town worked against her. Her father's fortune long spent, and her own earnings now at nothing, the Hollywood daughter found herself evicted and friendless in a city far from home. With no college education and no experience in real jobs, she had nothing but a cardboard box in a vacant lot to call her own. None of her former "friends" came to look for her; the producers who had attended her parties and drank her booze now said "what's your name again?" in spite of their knowing her name quite well. The last few dresses from her checkered past clung to her wasted frame as she hit bottom.

Often we fail to look up until there seems to be no more down to go, and so it was with the failed Hollywood daughter. From her seat in the junk-strewn vacant lot only a few miles from the homes of the rich and famous, she read in a discarded newspaper that her father's company had made a point to a business reporter that by trusting in God first, and hanging on to their valuable employees second, the company had faced some tough times, but had emerged victorious when competitors failed. With the economy improving now, the company stood to gain not only the best employees cast off by companies following the current wisdom, but much new business as well.

In her despair, the daughter thought of that faraway company. She had little to offer her father's company, but she would humble herself and beg her father and sister for a job as a restroom cleaner on the night shift; the lowest-paid and most demanding job her father's company had to offer. She had no trouble taking the part of the poverty-stricken and downtrodden victim of her own bad decisions; she did after all practice that role every day. After a complimentary shower and laundering, a local church gave her a bus ticket to her hometown. The prodigal daughter felt hardly deserving of such generosity, but promised to remember the church as best she could in her tithing.

A thousand miles and what seemed a thousand hours of bus riding later, the prodigal found herself a few miles from home at a bus stop. Without luggage or money to weigh her down, she walked home in donated shirt and pants, with freely given and quite unfashionable shoes on her feet. No gilt signatures shined on the soles of these shoes, but she found them far more comfortable than the expensive shoes in her past life. She couldn't recall the last time she had walked this far, but she became more humble with each step toward the home she had left so pridefully; promising so proudly that she was, "free of this nothing town and on her way to fame!" as her father and sister watched her drive away in her new car. What to say to her father now?

As the father of the twin daughters watched from a chair on his porch, he thought of the success his daughter had made of the company he had left in her care. He also thought of a daughter he no longer knew. For years he had subscribed to Hollywood newspapers and magazines, became a fan of the Facebook page, signed up for the Twitter feed, and read a fan blog on his daughter's growing career. He winced in pain as his daughter began taking the unsavory parts and prayed for her daily to God. However, the web sites had not been updated for more than a year, and the tweets had stopped some time ago. Some show called "Where are they Now?" had tried and failed to find his daughter this year, and the man wondered what had happened. Suddenly, a very thin, almost starved figure, came trudging up the long driveway to his home. The panhandlers had increased during the recession, but none had ever walked up to his house to beg.

As the figure came closer, the man finally recognized his own daughter. He couldn't remember the last time he had gazed on his daughter's face as God had made her, free of the Hollywood cosmetic art and not made up for the latest photo shoot. The daughter tried to stammer something, but no line from a scriptwriter appeared in her mind; she simply fell upon her father's feet and wept.

"Stand up, my child!" her father cried, "I will always love you; let me see your face!"

With a good home-cooked meal in her stomach and the light of her father's love in her eyes, the prodigal daughter finally found the courage to ask for that most humble job in her father's company. She would work that job to the best of her ability and ask nothing but what God would provide.

"While it is true that we can never keep that job filled for long, I would have you go to college as you promised years ago, my child," the father told her, "I have already paid the price through my endowment to the state university, you need not worry over the cost."

"But I am not deserving of such a thing, father!" she cried once more.

"No, but in my love I choose to give you what you don't deserve," he informed his daughter.


Obviously, I'm not as concise as Jesus is, but I thought that He would let me borrow his parable for the modern times and re-tell it for the graduates soon to go out into this difficult world. Sorry for the length of it. Have a wonderful Friday in Christ!


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Chattin' with the Beasties - May 13, 2010

Good Thursday morning! Sun! We have a spring-like sun shining this morning! Take a little flight into fancy this morning and imagine that you got up and said a great "good morning!" to your pet and received an answer. Not, "mornin' cat" as I often say, but an address to the pet by name. "Good morning, Captain Kidd! How are you this morning?" The cat normally sits there and waits for me to head for the kitchen and my duties involving his food bowl. However, this morning, this fanciful morning, he returns my greeting and reports on what he saw while watching out the window last night.

That would be a bit stunning; I might even use one of my favorite words to describe my reaction: I would be flabbergasted. Adam and Eve got up each morning in Eden and spoke to the animals. How do we know this? Eve was not at all surprised to be addressed by the serpent. The serpent asked Eve a question and she replied without the least hesitation. Obviously, this conversation was not out of the ordinary for Eve. Now imagine the other side.

Adam and Eve have left the garden never to return. The familiar shape of a deer comes into view, munching Adam's crops planted and tended with toil. Adam speaks a greeting to the deer and is surprised to see the very deer he named flee in terror at the sound of his voice. We might get a similar feeling if one day every one of our friends and neighbors fled at the sound of our greeting. At first, we would wonder what in the world was going on; an April Fool's joke perhaps? As the days went on we would be saddened and lonely in our new found isolation.

Adam and Eve went through that feeling. They fell into the temptation and acquired the knowledge of good and evil. They had fellowship with God and exchanged it for the Law. Where they had walked and talked with God in the Garden, they now had to bring sacrifices to Him for atonement of sin. The demands and duties of the Law started immediately upon their leaving that Garden of Eden. The beasts they had spoken with now fled from them; they had to hunt and eat them, or tend them as livestock for food, or satisfy the law by sacrificing one of them. Adam and Eve may even have had a pet or two, but things just weren't the same.

The wonderful conversation they had with the beasts was now that of dumb pet and master, rancher and livestock, hunter and food, or predator and prey. At some point, and with certain animals, that relationship even became predator and pray. A greeting to a lion was no longer pleasant but foolish and even perilous. Some of Adam's children even in this age are preyed upon by the beasts he once had dominion over and fellowship with. How far we have fallen! The good news is that our Lord is an expert in restoration. All that has been lost will be made better one day. For thousands of years nature and man have yearned to return to a right relationship with God. One day, Jesus will make that happen. Look forward to that day in the hope of Christ Jesus.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A New Day Coming - May 12, 2010

Good Wednesday morning! What to say about the day? It's May 12, but it looks more like March 12. Snow on the ground, wet streets, and a temp in the low 30's say that we are still in winter; the early sunrise says that we are closer to school getting out - which to believe? Well, as we all know that is simply May in the northern plains states. The softball leagues started up last night, even with the threat of snow and rain in the forecast. Our calendar just doesn't seem to tell the whole story. The radio station is out again this morning, but the cable is working. Mankind has advanced far in a technological sense, but we just don't seem to have it quite right yet.

Knowledge has increased exponentially in the last few hundred years, but we still have the same general problems the Romans faced: disease, aging, wars, theft, murder, rape, starvation, poverty, and the list goes on. If you put knowledge and technology together, we have many benefits, but also more problems. We, meaning all of humanity, still don't quite have it right yet.

Spiritually, we have many religious choices, but no religion has saved anyone from death as far as we can tell; people are still dying off left and right around the world. Science claims to be closer to stopping aging, but we are not sure if that is desirable, moral, or even possible yet. And who would really want to stay in this world, as it is now, for thousands of years? No system of government has proven immune to the same human problems we've had for as long as written history can remember. Greed, envy, hate, rage, and selfishness still make a mockery of the best intentions in forming a government. The larger a government, religion, university, or church becomes, the greater the potential for doing good and solving our problems, but instead the problems of the organization become larger and the less is actually done to solve those common problems.

If we elected a president who did nothing but solve the problems our government has and has caused, we would laud him or her throughout the land. How much praise would be heaped on a pope who did nothing but solve the Catholic Church's own problems? What pay would a CEO deserve who could take just one of the major corporations and remove the greed, selfishness, waste, and corruption from the operation? How much would you give for a devotional writer who actually knew everything? I would give a lot, if you find him or her let me know!

The truth is that none of us has all the answers to this world's problems. We need an all-knowing God to be in charge because we know that humans will never solve human problems. To think that we are all basically good is to ignore the evidence of centuries. We need a savior who is good, loves us, and will die to save us. Praise God for sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to save us. The grave clothes of humanity still cling to us; the disease of sin still runs its course in the world, but we have a promise from God that Jesus will return one day. That promise includes another that is precious to all who will believe: no more crying, or sorrow, or pain. Now that's a promise filled with joy!

Have a glorious new day in Christ!


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

God is on the Job! - May 11, 2010

Good Tuesday morning! We have a winter weather warning for tonight and tomorrow - what's up with that? As the middle of May draws near, we begin to wonder if spring will truly arrive this year. Perhaps this will be the year that old saying is proven correct about our three seasons (July, August, and Winter). Sometimes we don't know or understand what is going on, but God is still doing His job.

We know that God causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust. We also know about His creation; we are part of it and living in it. What else do we know about God's job? In Hebrews 1:3 we read that Christ sustains the universe with the mighty power of His command. That's a big job! We also know that God provides for all of our needs; we are not to worry over what we will eat or wear. Since we don't know the needs of all those around us, we can rest in the assurance that God will take care of those we love. A big part of our walk with Christ seems to involve staying out of God's way!

As God goes about His work each day, what then is our job? God graciously allows us to help Him in His own job at times. Any of us might be sent as a messenger to the nations, or over to a neighbor's house to help in a smaller way. One of us might be called to minister to a church, or to fix a meal for an injured person laid up at home. God has many jobs for us, but one thing will come to almost all of us today - doing our own job. Whether you work for an employer or are self-employed, (I like to call it God-employed!) you will have duties to perform to the best of your abilities to the glory of God the Father. Does doing our jobs help God do His? I like to think so. God doesn't need our help, but He wants us to work for Him in the building of His church.

God doesn't send out tasks through some heavenly administration group just to keep us busy and, hopefully, out of trouble. That characteristic is something we see in the larger organizations here on earth. Even if you are assigned something that is for all appearances totally useless, do it well. We are to be a shining light to the world. Every task we do well glorifies God and helps us to grow in our salvation. Praise God for the love that allows all of us to have a role, a necessary role, in the building of the Church here on Earth.

Speaking of getting to your job... someone oughta tell that writer guy to keep it short. Did you see that behemoth of a devotional yesterday? Y'all have jobs to get on and work to do. I'll take that up with him at the first opportunity today. :-) Actually, I had to stop before I was ready; there is much to write in Christ!

Have a wonderful Tuesday; spread the love of Jesus!


Monday, May 10, 2010

The Evidence of the Conclusion - May 10, 2010

Good Monday morning... good 'n rainy that is. Who chooses these cumbersome titles? I suppose that would be me. Now to write something that will fit the title in some way, shape, or form.

In this world, we are taught to find the evidence and then form a conclusion. In light of new evidence, we may rework our conclusion or have further proof that our original conclusion was correct. When it comes to a certain kingdom not of this world, we are simply tasked with believing. We like to think that we must believe on no evidence at all. Is that true?

We know from historical records other than the Bible that Jesus did live. However, the Bible has proven to be an unmatched historical record in itself. Jesus told the folks back then that if they couldn't yet believe in him, then they should believe in the miracles that he did. Miracles can sound like magic; is this what we are to believe in?

What if the entire gospel, the story of Jesus, is nothing but a historical fiction? Some monk in the dark ages sat down and wrote a story to entertain the kids. For one thing, the monk's hero isn't someone to inspire a lot of hope for a fictional character. Jesus didn't slay a dragon or win a great battle against overwhelming odds. Jesus hung out with women, but failed to romance any of them. Jesus didn't suffer some cruel incident as a child that caused him to set out for revenge, nor did he ride into Jerusalem at the head of an avenging, liberating army of powerful warriors. Nope, the monk's hero was deserted by his closest followers in his time of need; inspired no one to ride in with swords swinging, liberated no city or town, and died a criminal's death on a cross. What kind of hero is that? No, this does not seem like the sort of tale anyone has ever invented for entertainment or education. We want our heroes to do something heroic.

What then do we find if the story is the truth? Jesus said to do good to those who hurt you, and God said that vengeance belonged to Him alone. This is quite the opposite of our many tales of wrongs perpetrated and vengeance taken in the name of self-righteousness. Jesus told a ruler of the time that His kingdom was not of this world. Jesus healed out of compassion the many with no hope of healing in their time. Jesus cleared the temple of thieving merchants and money changers a couple of times. If you had traveled hundreds of miles for Passover only to be swindled by the locals, you might think that a pretty cool deed. Does any of that prove anything to our suspicious minds in these enlightened (as the world calls it) days?

What if we had a choice that was truly free? If you decide one way, then evidence supports your conclusion in either case. What if the choice was not quite as free as it seemed though? One way held the truth and the other way held only lies. One way said everyone is bad and in need of a savior, while the other way said everyone is basically good and can save themselves by their actions. One way holds life, the other death. One way is rebellion, and the other obedience. Which way is the right way?

Certainly it helps when the hero of one way spells it out quite plainly, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life..." The choice is then to believe the one who said that or to reject him as a liar or crackpot. Did you realize that much of this choice comes down to what you believe about your self? Do you agree with the Bible when it says we are all sinners, or do you believe the world when it says we are all basically good? If we are all basically good, why are so many bad things done by humans to other humans? Am I going to convince anyone with arguments?

No matter what evidence or argument I present, the choice remains: do you believe in Jesus or do you not? All I can do to convince someone is to testify of my faith in Jesus. Once I came to believe in Him, then all the other pieces began falling into place. Jesus didn't give us a vague promise to return; he promised to return on exactly the date and time that God the Father has set. The fact that I don't know that date and time does not mean that the promise is in any way vague. Jesus died as the greatest of heroes, not by dying by the sword or conquering an empire, but by submitting to the will of God and dying as the one perfect sacrifice for our sins. Jesus grants us eternal life, not through any actions of our own, but by His grace and love. God forgives our sin because of Jesus, not because we deserve it. To follow the Way, we are called to the opposite of the world's reasoning, we believe in the conclusion that Jesus is our savior, and then we see the evidence of His salvation.

For those who still want to gather evidence first, that has happened too. Men and women throughout history have studied the scriptures and reached the conclusion that Jesus is the Son of God. However, what if you don't have time for that study and careful consideration? For those of us without the time and intellect to study the Word for years until we see the inescapable truth, we find it much easier to believe first. Once I believed, then the Holy Spirit poured the evidence into my mind and heart. As my brothers in Christ will tell you, daily we discover more and more of God's grace and wonderful sovereign will.

Enjoy a wonderful new week in Christ!


Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mother's Day! - May 9, 2010

Good 'n Happy Mother's Day Sunday! Today is the day we celebrate Mom. Did you know that the only man to ever be born without a mom is given credit for original sin? Even Cain had a mom and he was a murderer, but we aren't guilty of Cain's sin at birth, only Adam's. Jesus had a mom and we honor her over all women in history. The worst men to have walked the earth have all had moms; whether their mothers acknowledged them or not after their heinous acts is not known. However mean or nasty a man might be in life, we are not charged with his sin, but the one man born without a mother gives us our need for salvation. I'm thinking there could be some kind of connection there...

Yes, many a son or daughter has benefited from the instruction of a godly mother. While each of us may stray from the path of godliness in life, from the Christian upbringing our mothers gave us we know where to return when at the bottom in life. Many a mom has faithfully taken a son or daughter to church each week, only to see that child become a prodigal. The good thing about the prodigal story is that the son does return home when he learns the error of his ways. Pray for those prodigals out there giving their mothers extra worry and grief; it's time for them to come home.

I'm trying my best to have the patience of a mother this morning. The cat dumped his planter last night. It's cute when he knows that he messed up, but can't quite reconcile his desire to hide from my wrath with his hunger in the morning. The cat tries to hide on the stairs about three steps down from his food bowl; close enough to keep an eye on the bowl, but far enough to be out of reach. Actually, I knew when I bought the planter and grew his cat grass in it that sooner or later he would try to climb in and upset the planter. A little potting soil to clean up, and all is good again.

What did your mother do for you yesterday? You're grown and mom lives hundreds of miles away? I'll bet she remembered you in prayer yesterday. Children are never far from a mother's thoughts and prayers, especially the prodigals who might be hiding just three steps down or the ornery ones putting a little paw on top of her fingers while she tries to type a message - like the other cat is doing to me right now. Hmm, examples of the wrong kind of child behavior abound in my house this morning; must be my penance for my years of ornery and prodigal behavior!

Happy Mother's Day to all of our moms on this bright, sunny morning!


Saturday, May 08, 2010

The Right Decision - May 8, 2010

Good Saturday morning! Jesus often pressed others to make the right decision. Even as Pilate dithered over his decision, Jesus assured him that Jesus' own kingdom was not of this world. I like to think that Jesus tried to give Pilate the right assurance for the beleaguered ruler to make the right decision. Would the crucifixion have been avoided with Pilate deciding to let Jesus go? No, the time had come and Jesus was going to the cross willingly, but Pilate himself might have escaped condemnation for turning over the Son of God to the crowd to be crucified.

Jesus also pressed the Sanhedrin, the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the teachers of religious law to recognize him and tell the people that Messiah had arrived. The closest they came was admitting that "this man certainly does many miracles." However, instead of recognizing the arrival of the Son, they chose to accuse him of using the power of Satan.

Other examples were good examples of the right decision. Peter, James, John, Nathaniel, Andrew, Matthew, and many others made the decision to follow Christ. Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus believed in Jesus and sought his counsel. Roman soldiers believed, Roman officers had faith in Jesus, and the despised Samaritans believed when given the chance to make the right decision. Churches sprang up throughout the Roman Empire after Pentecost, and we have the opportunity to hear the Good News every day in the modern world. We all have the opportunity today to make the right decision for Christ; choose wisely, eternity is at stake.


Sometimes we look in the wrong place for an answer. We might look to a secular friend for answers about Heaven and eternity when we should be looking in God's own word. Other times we are simply in the wrong book. In looking for the correct spelling of Arimathaea, I came across "armadillo" in what I thought was my Strong's Exhaustive Concordance. Was Mr. Strong having a joke at my expense? No, I had grabbed my dictionary by mistake. The moment of bafflement was priceless though as I searched my memory for any mention of an armadillo in the Bible. Have a great Saturday!

Friday, May 07, 2010

Just a Little Offering to God - May 7, 2010

Good Friday morning! Are you ready to rush out to the aid of someone in distress? Too bad there are so many these days; how in the world are you ever going to make it to every distress call? The truth is that while we have a desire to help everywhere, our strength is far from sufficient to accomplish all that we would need to do in order to help everyone. We want to think that our strength is sufficient for just one or two jobs, but often not even in that scaled-down arena can we be of much help. Do you suppose that God made our strength too small for a reason?

In John, we return once more to the example of a boy and his lunch. With a few small loaves and fish, the boy made a little offering to Jesus. The boy might have wanted the strength or ability to feed all that vast crowd, but he could not. Even the disciples couldn't help as full-grown men and disciples of Christ, but Jesus would bring glory to God the Father by way of just one little offering. We too can be of great help to many by giving up our own strength and abilities, our own selves, as just a little offering to God.

On our own there is little that we can accomplish, but God didn't give us our compassion and empathy for nothing. We can first of all become strong in prayer. Bring the needs of the many to the God of mercy and healing. Trust in the almighty God to hear your prayers and answer in the best way. Our strength is but a little offering; so little among so many needs. God has the strength and wisdom to help everyone who will ask. But what if that person will not ask you say? God also has the strength to take a person right down to the bottom, if necessary, in order to get that person to look up to Him.

Last night we had a good discussion and prayer over someone with an intense need. We also had a lot of knowing going on. Sometimes, the entire group is not going to have the solution to a problem. Even in our numbers we don't have the knowledge, wisdom, and strength of God. Trusting in God individually, and in our Christian group, is a need we all have. We may not have the answer even in a group, but the we's and me's all need to be ready when God gives us an action to perform. We may be reluctant to go when God says, "Go!", but we also have a lot of trouble with "wait!". Sometimes I have to wonder how God ever puts up with us... must be His great love. :-)

God bless,


Thursday, May 06, 2010

Share the Burden - May 6, 2010

Good Thursday morning! Today is the National Day of Prayer; what a great day to share our burdens. We do tend toward that squirreling away of burdens that we know is wrong. We have a burden and we don't even want to whisper it to God in prayer. We think that our strength is sufficient... and we know better! On the other hand, did you ever feel that you couldn't speak the need quickly enough? That God already knows all about the issue and wants you to get on with it? God is never impatient with us, and Jesus told us to persistently speak our needs to God. Just remember that we are not to worry about those needs.

Sometimes you will be with Christian sister or brother and she or he just won't let something go. Talk and talk about the same subject until you are ready to blurt out, "Okay! We heard you." Hello, they are trying to share a burden that is too big for their own prayer life. Did you really hear them? We must learn to listen to our siblings in Christ. Today is a great day to bring all of our own needs to Christ in prayer, and a great day to bring the needs of our fellow believers, friends, relatives, communities and nations to God in prayer. If you or I failed to realize a burden in need of sharing, then we can bring that up with God today. Don't be too busy today!

Take the day off work if necessary to spend some time in prayer. I'll take some time off from writing and reading to pray. Today is a day to remember to pray! And don't forget to pray for our nation and government - they certainly need it. Oops, that sounded like an uncharitable editorial opinion there. Actually, we all need prayer, so pray for each other too!

Have a prayerful day in Christ!


Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Trying to Dictate the Way - May 5, 2010

Good Wednesday morning! Let me take a moment to remind everyone of our annual National Day of Prayer that occurs tomorrow. In Sidney there is a gathering at the Shelter House in Legion Park, and your church will have a spot available for you, and of course, you can always pray at home. The most important point is to remember to take the time to pray tomorrow.

Have you ever tried to make the Bible say what you thought it should say? Sometimes I have found myself looking for a particular verse based on what I thought it said in place of what the Bible actually says. We all make mistakes from time to time, but there could be a deeper reason for this as well. Our sinful nature wants to have the mastery, even over God's word. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to remind us of what He said, not what we think he might have said.

A very few persons have the ability to read something once and be able to recall it perfectly every time from then on. I am not one of those. To memorize a Bible verse, I have to work at it. The problem is that sometimes I think my memory is better than it is. After spouting off a few times on what I thought the Bible said, I learned through humiliating experience to qualify my statements with "I think" or "I believe it says..." The better option is to grab the nearest Bible and actually look up the verse in question, or to use a concordance to find the verse. Sometimes that sin nature of ours likes to add in a slight twist to what I remember a verse says.

The working out of our salvation does not mean that we dictate the way based on what we think the Bible said, but that we read the Bible and learn about the Way, Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit, the Comforter, will remind us daily to read God's word and to apply what we learn to our lives. One way to start that is to humble ourselves and admit that our memory recall is not perfect, with the exception of those few who have that ability of course, and keep a Bible handy.

Go humbly to Christ in prayer, and have wonderful day!


Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Freedom to Listen In - May 4, 2010

Good Tuesday morning! Did you catch the city council candidate forum last night? I listened to it on the radio while a baseball game was playing on the television. Just to make the whole experience even more multi-media, I got out the stopwatch app on my IPad and timed the responses. The timekeeper was a little generous on a couple of occasions; sometimes you just gotta tell them local politicians to hush up! I'll leave the opinions to you and the reporting to the official news organizations, but it was fun to listen for the differences in the responses to our questions. By "our" I mean the community, none of the questions were submitted by me personally.

However, I did have one question that probably wouldn't have made the cut: do you tithe? That seems like a simple yes or no question, perhaps you even think that would be between the person and God. An answer could point out much about a candidate though. Financial responsibility in taxes and budgeting seemed to be a major issue among the questions; what better to tell a candidates personal sense of responsibility than to find out if he or she tithes? These days that question might go unanswered, but it might also cause a little hot foot among the candidates. Just an interesting thought from last night.

Isn't it great to be in a country where the local election process is open? We didn't have to wait for some official communique to find out the official version of last night's official and secret proceedings. No, we could go to the actual event, watch on the local cable access channel (if you have cable television) or listen on the radio, as I did. I suspect the event was also broadcast on the radio station's web site, but I didn't check that. We listened in live as the candidates gave their responses. This doesn't happen everywhere on this earth. We have quite a lot to be thankful for. Of course, we could also choose to ignore the whole event and vote on our personal opinions or sketchy impressions of the candidates. We have a lot of freedom that many in the world do not enjoy. As with any freedom, we can use it wisely or foolishly.

Praise God for our political freedom!


Monday, May 03, 2010

Bad Day for Me-Good Day for You? - May 3, 2010

Good Monday morning! Thank you for all the happy birthday wishes yesterday. I can't call myself old yet, but each year I do get a little closer to that dreaded condition. :-) As we grow in this life, it seems a bit unfair that just as we start to get a handle on simply behaving ourselves, we have to suffer old age. Yes, I do realize that my handle might be a bit more slippery than most, but I'm not suffering old age quite yet either.

In the midst of a terrible day, did you ever stop to realize that your bad day might cause a good day for another person? We all like to help someone in need, but sometimes our own circumstances can overwhelm us. Yesterday, I went out to see what was going on at the farm and arrived just in time to get a boat ride on Jumbo (reservoir down in Colorado). Nothing too out of the ordinary there, Gary had been planning to get out on the first decent day. However, the back story is the interesting part; I should have missed the ride by a good three or four hours.

Gary had a bit of a bad day. First he ran over his new dog, Daisy, breaking one of her back legs. She had developed the bad habit of laying under vehicles you see, and vehicles sometimes move. We all know how easy it can be to lose sight of a pet, or a child, when moving vehicles and how terrible things can happen in that circumstance. According to the vet, the dog will be alright, but the cast and care is going to cost a bit. Next, the new fenders on Gary's boat trailer cut down one of his trailer tires not two miles from their farm. Second disaster of the day, and still no boat ride. A trip to town to fix a tire, a bit of welding and adjusting to the fenders and two hours later, it's finally time for the trip to the lake... which is just the moment that I showed up.

Of course, things started going better for them as soon as I arrived. :-) No, I don't believe that I'm some kind of over-large good luck charm. A bad day for Gary, turned out to be a good day for me as I had not been on a boat for about 20 years. I took about 200 pictures yesterday while Gary and Dylan fished; they enjoyed their hobby and I enjoyed mine. Both of our days got better you might say. What is the ultimate example of this?

We know, we just don't always think about it. Jesus endured some days that must go down among the worst days anyone has ever endured. Yet those turned out to the very best days for us. Without His suffering, we could not be saved. With His death on the cross, we are forgiven and made right with God. With His victory, we can have eternal life. Bad day or good day? Sometimes we just need to see it from another view. I'm sure that is how Jesus endured, by seeing His bad days in light of our eternity.

Have a great week in Christ!


Sunday, May 02, 2010

Don't Wait for Perfection - May 2, 2010

Good Sunday morning! A minister this morning said that he was speaking of faith while working out his own faith. I like that, for if we wait for our ministers to work out their own faith, we will have very few ministers to listen to. Our faith is worked out over a lifetime while Jesus forges and molds us into a perfect reflection of His own glory. If every minister waited to be perfected before speaking out, and every writer didn't write until Jesus' work was complete in him, and no singer would sing until her own faith had been worked out, we would have a very quiet Christian message. No matter how famous the minister, his faith is still being worked out even as he teaches us from God's Word.

At times we might feel the temptation to keep quiet about our faith because of our imperfections. Remember how quiet the Christian witness would be if everyone did that. If we are to obey the command of Jesus to spread the Good News, we cannot wait until His work in us is finished. Every Christian minister, writer, singer and witness is not perfect; so why wait on your faults to be fixed? We do want our accomplishments to follow us to Heaven. If we keep silent, there will be no accomplishments to take with us.

Whatever gifts God has given you, use those gifts to spread the Good News. Accomplish great things in Christ Jesus. Bring your faults to Jesus and leave them with Him. The scoffers may point out your faults again and again, but keep speaking out, writing out, singing out, and in all ways bearing witness for Christ. We have a mission and a leader to follow. As the saying goes, "Christians ain't perfect, but Jesus is!"

Have a wonderful Sunday in Christ!


Saturday, May 01, 2010

Interesting Happenings - May 1, 2010

Good Saturday morning! We do live in a world of overwork and rushing about. I seem to recall a prophecy about something along those lines in the Bible. It took a bit of looking, but the verse is in Daniel 12:4 "But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase." The last two phrases stick with me in this age of rushing about. Such a small prophecy in the great expanse of the Bible. I even have trouble remembering where it occurs. To study the end times we turn to Revelation first, but there is much to read in Joel, Ezekiel, Thessalonians, Matthew, and many other books in the Bible about the end times. In fact, according to Dr. Lahaye's guide, only four books in the New Testament do not speak of the end times. Prophecy is pretty important to God it seems.

One of the major complaints I have heard in any large organization is about the lack of communication. "You should have told us this was coming down!" was one I often heard during my military service. One basic principle of leadership was to keep the men informed. Yet in practice that didn't always happen. The same thing happens in corporations, governments and towns of all sizes. Events simply move too quickly for us all. We end up rushing about in spite of our best intentions. The New King James version translates the phrase as "run to and fro". I find it interesting that so many of our popular sporting events involve just that. You could use "run to and fro" to describe much of football, soccer, basketball, baseball, hockey, many Olympic sports, and, of course, the chosen method for many of us to get in shape. You could also describe a lot of what goes on in corporations and our getting to and from our workplace in the same manner. Truly there is a lot of running to and fro, or rushing about, in our age.

Knowledge has increased. We often see the graph of mankind's accomplishments as a slowly rising line until about the middle of the 19th century (the 1800's for those of us who always get confused by that). At that point the graph begins curving upward until it is nearly vertical now. Knowledge is increasing faster than we can keep up with. On 60 Minutes last week, they spoke to some of the students who were using, or were aware of others using, drugs made to treat Attention Deficit Disorder to improve their mental energy and focus in college. The funny thing was that many supported using chemical enhancement to improve our mental function in order to learn better and faster, and I'm not talking about the students, but the scientists and doctors. Knowledge has increased so much, but how much faster will it increase if all students start taking drugs to improve their mental function and focus?

The next generation of students might just make us feel completely ignorant and stupid (not that they don't already). What if a 16-year old presidential candidate just trounces a 60-year old candidate in every debate due to that increased mental function? Yet we know from our own experience that almost no one is fit to lead much of anything at 16; we make a lot of mistakes at that age and lack the maturity we need for leadership. I realize you are thinking that our law says 35 is the minimum age, but Mr. Schwarzenegger wants to run for president as I have noted before in this blog. He has a lot of support; if the law is changed to allow those not native-born to hold that office, someone may try to lower the age limit too. Many interesting things are going on in this world and a lot of prophecy is coming to pass right in front of us.

Trust in God, and go ahead and read those late devotionals, even on Saturday! :-)