Thursday, June 30, 2011

Grab the Stack! - June 30, 2011

Good Thursday morning! What's in the news today? Well, let's see. The mosquito season has begun; we had one of those down burst winds last night; it got hot yesterday; the cat apparently got close enough to a bird nest to attract the ire of the property managers; and I'm old enough, it seems, to have my 30th class reunion this weekend. If you wanted real news like what's happening in the world then I can't help you. I haven't looked at my morning news sites yet.

Yesterday, I promised that we would move into sanctification. We have been here before, but I like to come back to these central issues fairly often. If salvation is by Christ alone and not by works, and Paul is convinced that the Holy Spirit will complete the work begun in us, what is left for you and me to do? We want to work and we have a desire to improve ourselves. Is the work of sanctification also one where we just stand back and keep our hands off? If we look in 2 Peter 1 just after that part where we find the Lord has already given us what we need for living a godly life we find the process that is in our nature to long for. Instead of a religion or ceremonies, Peter gives us a list of add-to's.

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:5-8)

Our salvation starts with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and Peter takes it from there: Make every effort (the work process we want to do) to supplement (add to) your faith with virtue. I don't think that Peter meant that you had to perfect each step along the way as in some game with levels. "You have attained virtue, my son, now you may work on the level of knowledge..." If that were the case, it might be a few years or decades before we could obey Jesus' command to love one another. We are also encouraged to study God's word daily. Doing that we are going to gain in our knowledge of the Lord, perhaps well before our virtue is all that it should be. Peter may have meant it more as a list of "helps to". As in, developing the virtue of Bible reading helps you to gain in knowledge of our Lord and His Word. Knowledge of God's word helps to increase your self-control, and so on through the list.

From the first part of the next sentence, Peter indicates that all of these qualities work together in us. We work on these qualities, and then we have a purpose in life: we won't be ineffective or unfruitful! Imagine the list Peter gives is a list of library books and the books often refer to each other. So, we go to the shelf and grab the whole list and take that entire stack back to our work area. We dive into virtue and find out that, hey, love is a virtue! Better grab that book and read up on love. Of course all of the 'books' we need are contained in the Bible. Grab the stack and get a little help to get through the day!


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

So Simple? - June 29, 2011

Good Wednesday morning! We are promised a hot day today. If you want me, I'll be inside today for the most part. Today on my walk with the Lord at sunrise, I had one nagging question: Am I getting it? I read stories of athletes who spend years training, have a load of talent, but don't quite 'get it' in their particular sport. I had to ask the Lord if I have 'gotten it' in writing or in the life of grace we live. This is a good thing to ask for yourself in prayer. We don't always know if we have everything right in our minds just yet in whatever field we have been led to. We also may not quite 'get it' when it comes to the grace of Jesus Christ.

Since the answer I received this morning was, "You're close on writing, but not quite there on my grace." I'll try to work it out this morning. Writing is a complex endeavor that requires years of practice and discipline. Grace is simple in that Christ died for our sins and God has imputed Christ's righteousness to those who believe. So quite naturally I am closer to getting the complex issue and farther away from the simple. Why should that be?

In our Bible reading you may have come upon this little prayer that Jesus spoke: At that time Jesus declared, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children. (Matthew 11:25) As I am still in the world physically, I tend to think first that salvation must be attained through years of self-denial, worship, kneeling, study, and finally understanding. You will of course see the basic formula for many religions in that process. Learning a skill in the world, such as writing, works much the same way give or take a little kneeling and/or worship. Since the process of learning a new skill fits what we already expect, we naturally 'get' that much more quickly. Grace can be summed up with simple things like: "I'm forgiven!" ...and that makes me sit back in awe of our mighty God.

Of course, I want to add all sorts of things to that by way of explanation. I want to sound smart, and I want to show off my knowledge, and I want to make it a very complex issue that will somehow require years of diligent study and self-sacrifice. All these wants that rise up within me want to go to war with the simple good news that when you and I came to believe in Jesus we received forgiveness for our sins and now we are saved. But what about the race that Paul speaks of to obtain the prize and all that stuff? Well, so you want to be sanctified too? Tomorrow we can go into that process we seek. Jesus handed us the key to the treasure chest at the cross; let us open it and see what the Spirit has brought us!

You are saved; get it? Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His saving grace.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Boot the Worry! - June 28, 2011

Good Tuesday morning! Have you looked hard at a headline on a news site, felt the temptation to know more, but then decided that too much information would be just, well, too much information? I saw one today that made me go through that. Like many things that are dead weight in my life, I'm going to let that news item flow down the river of my past and do my best to forget it. Have you taken a dead weight inventory of your life recently? When I think about that, I usually think right away of the stuff on shelves in the basement that I haven't used for years. Probably should get on a cleanup and sale one of these days. Is that all that Paul wrote about though back in his day? If I'm not mistaken, Paul may have mentioned friends from the old crowd down at the tavern, old beliefs from our intellectual pursuits of days gone by, and perhaps a few habits from the superstitious days like that lucky rabbit's foot in your pocket. Then again, maybe they didn't have any faith in dead rabbit's feet back in Paul's day. While Paul may not have written exactly those things, we should realize that the dead weight holding us back in our race to Heaven may not be just material goods. In fact, if the stuff in the basement is just sitting there not occupying space in the mind, we may have greater needs in our 'spring' cleaning.

One example of things we tend to cling to is our old worries. If circumstances change in our lives, we may get rid of a worry or two, but we go back and grab up another one that had been gathering dust. We dust off that little worry, decide it looks a little anemic, and go to work bulking it up by feeding it a little fear and anxiety. As soon as we have that old worry shaped up again, we don't quite know what to do with it. Over time the worry becomes sloppy fat and takes over the place; barking commands from the its easy chair at us and flipping the remote through the horror channels until our walk with Jesus is slowed down by this dead weight on our mind. What are we to do about this?

I am reminded once more of Peter's words in his second epistle: "By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life." (1:3a) If we already have what we need to live a godly life, then we need serve the worry no longer. Kick over its little worry recliner, turn off the horror channel, sweep up the litter of anxiety and trembling, and boot that worry right out of your mind. Trust in Jesus and walk with Him. Trusting Jesus means that when he says not to worry and that the Father in Heaven will take care of us, then we take him at his word. "Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall." (Psalm 55:22) Praise God for His providence!

Have a wonderful new day in Christ,


Monday, June 27, 2011

A Different View - June 27, 2011

Good Monday morning! Do you get up each day believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, receiving the good news of his resurrection, and ready to apply His Word to your life? Yes, we do! But, there is another outlook on Jesus. Some folks are of the type that Jesus should just let them go along depending upon their ability and luck until things get a little hairy and scary. Then, like a drowning person throwing a life ring toward a person standing on the shore, they want to call out to God to relieve them of some immediate danger or even just a little pressure at work. Now of course we know that the person on the shore is supposed to throw the life ring toward the drowning person and not the other way around. However, calling out to Jesus only during a time of life-threatening danger is more like the drowning person trying to toss the ring. If you are drowning, you might find it difficult to put much of a trajectory on that life ring. We know this already; why state the obvious?

You, believer and friend of Jesus Christ our Lord, know it already, but the world at large does not. Many people still think that Jesus is nothing more than an end-of-life guard to be called upon only in times of mortal danger. Not to mention that any promises uttered during the adventure are optional when things return to normal. We might be take a step or two back from that too. A promise made to Jesus is optional? Not at all! How could they even think such a thing? Ah, but it does happen. And to the point of view of many lost in this world, God appears to let them get away with it. Some even look upon God as a big, jolly Santa Claus kind of fellow. "Oh, ho, ho, I sure like to hear those absurd promises my creations make when they see Death coming for them! Did you hear that one, Gabriel? Mission to the Congo! Oh, don't get me started. Ha, ha, hee, hee, heeee!"

While I do believe that God has a magnificent sense of humor, the Bible has a few words to say about taking vows to God lightly. We have this different knowledge and perspective than those in the world do. Before you think that God has not changed you at the cross, that you still sin too much and cannot possibly be saved, or that you have no hope of attaining that perfect state of grace you think you should have earned by now, you may want to look closer at your perspective. We know in Christ that calling out to Jesus is something we do constantly, not just a holler or two in a time of mortal danger. We know that a promise made to God had better be kept and we - here it comes! - call out to Jesus for his strength in keeping that promise. We know that God does not let anyone get away penalty free, and that each of us can decide to pay the penalty ourselves with eternity in Hell, or believe in Jesus and that He paid the penalty for us. I do believe that God laughs with us at many things, but sin and broken promises are not a part of those things that God finds laughable. Above all we know that Jesus saves us and that we have no hope of saving our own miserable lives with a well-timed shout in a moment of danger and fear. We spread the Good News during the good times, because, well, it's kind of hard for a lost person to hear the words of life when their ears are already under water.

Grace and peace to you from our Lord Jesus Christ!


Friday, June 24, 2011

A Sacrifice of Thanksgiving - June 24, 2011

Good Friday morning! Smoked the coffee grinder yesterday; not sure what to do about it today. I can't think without my coffee! Good thing I drink decaf, otherwise I might be snoozing on my keyboard too. I will sacrifice my coffee drinking for a day or two. Did you ever think of thanksgiving as a sacrifice? Of course the holiday is a sacrifice if you are the one who must do all the cooking and cleaning. But how about just the normal, everyday thanking God for his blessings? I present to you Psalm 50:23 - The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!" Hmm, God says that giving thanks is a sacrifice.

I don't usually think of gratitude as a sacrifice to God. However, when you think of what must be set aside the sacrifice becomes more clear. It seems to me that pride cannot exist with thanksgiving. The proud will thank only themselves and will boast about how they don't need God. The humble Christ-one will offer up his sacrifice of thanksgiving to God. If a person is wealthy, even moderately so, it becomes easy to have pride and thank no one. A person who brings a sacrifice of thanksgiving to God knows that she is dependent upon God's provision and that wealth is not something she can depend on.

You could also say that an apology is a sacrifice in much the same way. Pride cannot exist in a proper apology. If I say the wrong thing to a brother in Christ, then I must humble myself and go to him with my apology. Humility, thanksgiving, and even love can all be sacrifices to God. Why love? Jesus said something very much like: Greater love hath no man than he lay down his life for his friends. We call it sacrificial love to separate it from the many watered-down definitions of love we have today. When we look at it in that way, I think all of the fruits of the Spirit are a sacrifice pleasing to God. Love, joy, peace, patience, and all the others involve giving up our natural tendency to the opposite. If you speak the truth it is a sacrifice of your natural desire to lie. Making peace is a sacrifice of the natural desire to seek vengeance or escalate a conflict. Giving thanks to God says, "I need you, Lord!" when we want to be self-sufficient. Yes, I can see the sacrificial aspect when I listen to what the Spirit tells me!

Bring your sacrifice to God this day. Give up a nice offering of thanksgiving!


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Delight in the Lord! - June 23, 2011

Good Thursday morning! Well, we made it through the 22nd without another big storm. The pattern did not continue even though the evidence pointed to that conclusion. The pointers we see in this life are not always infinite pointers. We go one way for a season until God's purpose for that season is fulfilled and then the Lord points us in another direction. The season may be days, weeks, or years, but an end comes and sometimes we are surprised. You have probably heard the expression that where one door is closed, God opens another. We may have to search for the open door among many choices, but we rest in the fact that God is in control and will guide our footsteps.

Of course, we want big yellow road signs to point the way. Often we take out the Bible and search for that Book of Hasdooblas the very minor prophet, who had words directed specifically to me. "At the age of forty and eight, Bucky spent six months working on the vipplesnort book to the glory of God the Father, and it came to pass that riches and glory came his way as he obeyed the Lord. " (Hasd 1:12) Unfortunately, I haven't found that book in the Bible that directs me to specific actions each day. That council back in the day must have forgotten to include ol' Hasdooblas. Some days the Spirit is even silent about specifics. The command to "Write!" is a bit vague on goals and objectives and deadlines and such.

What should I be doing today? The Bible does give some guidance there. I read in a Psalm not too many days ago: "Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart's desires." (37:4 NLT) What is this delight? It sounds like something that I should be doing today. And that heart's desires thing sounds really cool too! According to the dictionary from the International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia to delight is to incline toward or take pleasure in. We take pleasure in obeying the Lord and we take pleasure in knowing the Lord more each day. We take pleasure in trusting and loving our Lord. In other words, just like the Bible says, we delight in the Lord. So where are those heart's desires that I read about?

When we delight in the Lord without falling to the temptation to look around at the world and its stuff, our heart's desires will conform to the Lord's will for our life. In other words, I won't check for a pile of gold around my chair as a sign that I received my heart's desire. Rather, the Lord's will for my life will become my heart's desire and I will know what He would have me to do. The Lord might send you or I out to putter in the garden today. The Lord might have us do a thousand different things. We always want a divine to-do list to arrive on our desk, probably so we can immediately rebel against it, but the Lord's command is to delight in Him.

Have a wonderful day as you delight in the Lord!


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Dripping Icicles of Sin - June 22, 2011

Good Wednesday morning! The summer of '11 has begun! The seeds of yesterday are still on my keyboard! I was wondering this morning why it is that as a new creature in Christ I look forward to the summer of our relationship, but the icicles of sin still seem to drip on me so often. Drip, drip, drip and once more I am asking forgiveness for yet another sinful thought or fantasy or action. Yes, I do realize that all of my sins were forgiven at salvation, but I like to repent and ask each and every time. I feel better when repentance is a part of my life. Still, how can summer come into my walk with Jesus when I still feel those icy fingers of sin wetting me down with that cold, cold water of sin?

Last night I saw a commercial for the umpteenth time as advertisers tend to do to us. This is the shaving commercial where the woman pushes the man down on the couch and then peels off her top and flings it at the man's face; but instead of a lingerie top hitting him, he gets a splash of water in the face. I suddenly had the thought that I could use something like that whenever a sinful thought enters my mind. That would at first seem to be a good solution to sin. Well, other than the social stigma of going around drenched all of the time that is. Not to mention the collateral damage from getting splashed while waiting in line at the DMV or sitting in an audience at a concert. Of course, if this happened to everyone who believes in Christ we would not only know who had a good discipline in their thought life, but who was still struggling. Yes, we would also have to endure the "Christians are all wet!" thing. So, maybe not such a good idea. Some of my best ideas have flaws in them.

Ah well! Jesus didn't go around throwing water into people's faces back in the day. His words could often have that effect though. The Jewish leaders at the time certainly acted as though Jesus had insulted them in that way. The Holy Spirit can have a similar effect in my life, especially when he reminds me of Christ during a time of temptation. However, I have been known to lick those icicles of sin rather than look at the light of Christ even at the sound of my clanging conscience. The Spirit does not force us to turn from sin or to reject temptation. When Jesus gave us the model for prayer, he said: "...and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." (Matt 6:13) I suspect that this was not to be a one time thing. Jesus gave us this example to remind us to pray this often. Probably as much as we need it, which is going to be a lot in my case.

The icicles of sin still cling to us even as Jesus leads us into the light and warmth of a relationship with Him. Do not despair, those icicles will be melted away in time. We know that the presence of sin will end when Christ brings us home. Until then, we trust in Jesus and we keep praying that prayer.

Have a great new summer day in Christ!


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

On the Nice Days Too - June 21, 2011

Good Tuesday morning! Whooo! The skies are almost clear and the sun is shining! We need a break from the rain. Praise God for the clear, bright morning! Did you catch B.C. today? I can summarize it for you: "The world ends tomorrow. Good thing it's always today!" Actually, there is a lot of wisdom in that. We will never lack for Chicken Little's in this world, all trying to tell us the sky will fall tomorrow. Jesus told us to worry about today. Actually, if I take the time to think about it, I have more than enough to worry about on most days. In fact, each day is a new opportunity to ask God for His help in pretty much everything. It isn't that I am any more inept than other people or especially clumsy, but that more and more I am realizing how much better things get done when I ask God and dedicate the task to His glory first. And why not? If you have a direct line to the perfect, all-powerful Creator of the universe, wouldn't it seem like asking Him for help is the right thing to do?

We often think of Paul as writing in a divinely inspired mode his great letters in our Bible. What we may not see is the Paul who knelt in prayer daily before attempting to write. The Paul who stopped suddenly in the middle of dictation and threw out a few pages because he suddenly realized that he had gone off on his own at some point. We may not think of the suffering Paul endured when he came to a point in his dictation where his own conscience had been rubbed raw in an area of struggle. Every Christian writer or minister has at some point wondered how he could preach on a particular area of sin when the struggle in his own life was far from victorious. We can read the wonderful letter to the Romans and think that Paul was really on a roll, but maybe he had to struggle for weeks and weeks to get that letter just right. We may never know how much Paul had to struggle in those letters. Then again, Paul may indeed have been on a direct line to the Spirit and his poor secretaries burned the ends off their little Roman-rite quills trying to keep up.

After a few stormy days, we may not remember to ask God to be with us and to strengthen us for the task of the day when the dawn breaks clear and bright. We may remember to thank God for the better weather, but do we want to exclude God's help and strength just because the day has nice weather? I might be thinking about the weather a bit too much today. The weather is a rather large fact of life though and only God can overrule the nasty stuff the prince of this world cooks up. Once again, it seems best to include God in the day.

Trust God for a good day and invite Him into everything you do.


Monday, June 20, 2011

What to Give - June 20, 2011

Good Monday morning! Our flash flood warning turned into a flood warning last night. Last night it rained for several hours at least, not always hard, but we did get some serious runoff from all of that. So... big storms on June 13, 16, and now June19, I guess we should watch out for the 22nd day of this month now. Of course we have no guarantee the series will hold up, we may have to watch out for today. We have one command given often by Jesus that may apply to all of this: Don't be afraid! Jesus gave us his assurance, his Spirit, his peace, and even his life. What do we have to give?

We can answer by what we must give, but the play on the word 'have' is also to ask do we even own anything to give back to our Lord? The answer is of course, not really. Nothing that I have is going to enhance Jesus in any way. Nothing that I have of any value didn't come from God already, so giving back doesn't gain anything for our God. But on the other hand, when I give my life to Jesus each morning, I lay my sins and general worthlessness on the altar and God can raise me up to do great things for his glory. Not one of us needs to be saved by Jesus more than once, but giving our lives back to the Lord each day acknowledges who is the Lord of our life and the Lord of all. With a small offering of fish and loaves Jesus fed thousands. Imagine what he can do with each of our lives as we give back to the Lord each day. Perhaps we do have something of great value to give.

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there. Of course it was yesterday, but I hear MyBridge radio giving their good wishes as well. Lift up your fathers to our Father in Heaven on this great day.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Guardian of the Law (Self-Appointed) - June 18, 2011

Good Saturday morning! United Airlines stranded all of its passengers last night. I wonder if there is a fee for that? I got up a little late this morning after a great sleep. I wonder if that was due to the lack of planes flying out of DIA during the night? Could be, it seemed unusually quiet last night. I think everything decided to take a break after the storms of previous nights. Even the weather seemed quiet; though I will admit that I might have slept through something. Whatever the reason the sleep was good and the dreams even better.

Speaking of wondering, since I am doing so much of it this morning, have you ever run into one of the self-appointed guardians of the Law? Not people who grow up to be police officers or attorneys, but those folks who point the finger at the brother or sister in Christ. I'm talking about that person who has the law written on the heart and the tip of the tongue. The family goes on a fishing trip on a Sunday and the tongue wags: "You should be in church on Sunday morning!" The minister on the radio says something that might be open to interpretation and you better believe this person has another interpretation to put up on their own web site in a critical manner. I sleep in on a Saturday morning and the self-appointed finger of the Law reaches in my window to jab me a good one. Actually that last one didn't happen, but you have run into a person like this at some point.

Perhaps he didn't point, but you could see thunderclouds forming on the brow when one of your children made a noise in the church service. Perhaps nothing is ever said to you, but with a stare and a glare, all the children become quiet when she walks by the Sunday School room. Fun flees the premises when this person arrives; the room becomes somehow brighter when this person leaves, and when the mouth of the Law opens you can't find the exit for all the clouds of doom spoken into the air. Yeah, that person. What a dreadful job to have.

If I were to appoint myself Guardian of the Law, I would never run out of terrible things to witness and denounce. Job security would be mine for a lifetime. I wouldn't even need to look at unbelievers, my brothers and sisters in Christ would provide plenty of possible sins to crow about. I could take every minister on the television and radio and find something to disagree with. Thanks to the Internet and servers, I could even spend my time digging up sermons from the distant past to find little stones to throw. Would God disagree with my findings? I don't know, because I rather suspect that a self-appointed law guardian would never stop to ask the Father lest I be stopped in my tracks. Jesus said one very important thing that the finger pointer would not want to recall: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

When I am grabbing a little sin in my life, I don't need a self-appointed law guardian to tell me all about it. The Spirit that Christ has given me will twang the strings of my conscience in a discordant note that cannot be mistaken. I need a word of repentance, a prayer of forgiveness, and the loving peace of God; not a wagging finger and a shrill voice. A simple comforting, "I know it's hard. Let's ask God for his strength and forgiveness." is so much better than the triumphant cackle, "I caught you my pretty, and your little dog too! Nee, hee, hee! We'll drag you up before the church board of correction for this one!" Okay, so maybe the Wicked Witch of whatever direction she came from doesn't go to your church and maybe your church decided that a board of correction might be going too far, but those people do exist and they need our prayers. Blessed are the peacemakers, not the troublemakers. Let us all point to Jesus, our Lord and Savior.

Have a great Saturday in Christ!


Friday, June 17, 2011

Who is God? - June 17, 2011

Good Friday morning! I checked first to see that other trash bins were out on the street. So, I have a fairly good indicator that it is, in fact, Friday today. Corporate workers and slaves you may celebrate today... unless you have to work on the weekend, which is, alas, much more common than in the days of old. We survived another gully washer of a storm last night. It's called a gully washer because the runoff creates new gullies in the church parking lot and washes the sand and gravel down the street. To my knowledge we suffered no flooding this time in my neighborhood, although my little tree almost drowned in the swamp created out back. I had to prop it up with some bits of this and that found in my garage. Today, I see that quite a bit of my fresh soil got washed away last night from around the newly transplanted tree. I guess my first or second landscaping job is already on the slate this morning. Alright, enough with the chit-chat already.

Who is God? If you grabbed just any literature from the shelf, you might come up with some quite different opinions on that question. Some would answer the question with a simple, "There are no gods." Others would take it even further and say that there is no God at all. Others would tell us that God is love and that all the nice things in life come from him. Some have said that God did create everything, but then he simply left his creation and went to do other stuff. A few would only acknowledge that there is a God when they are in what appears to be the very last moments of their lives; the entity to direct that very final and desperate plea toward when all else has failed. Some others agree that there is God, but then spend their lives ignoring him completely. And of course, we have the smiting God who sits up in Heaven watching our every move with his godly stick raised to smack us when we step out of line. Then we have what God says about himself. His own word that we call the Bible.

Part of the problem is that we try to describe God in our own terms. How does the clay pot spinning around on the potter's wheel describe the potter? The pot has no 'eyes' to see the potter, so it thinks and thinks over the years and gives it a good try. The pot has a few clues such as, "made in His image," so it feels its curves and says that God must be curved like the pot sides. The pot goes a bit further and says, "God must be hollow and empty since I am hollow and empty." The problem with that is that the first 'pot' sinned and was broken, and the image the pot has to look at is not quite what it was when that first pot lived in a garden called Eden. We cannot look at what we are, or the people around us, and say that God must be thus. The question of who God is must come down to what the potter has told the pot.

First question: Does the pot believe what the potter has to say? Without starting with, "In the beginning, God created..." the pot has nowhere to go and any wild guess is valid. Trying to answer the question of who is God would take a book or perhaps a shelf of books. I cannot do this in one little Friday devotional. The answer is in God's Word. If the clay pot believes the word of its Creator, then the little blind pot can take the Word, read and study and accept it, and begin to find the answers it seeks. If the little pot doesn't believe God's Bible, then nothing anyone can say is going to help the blind thing understand more about its Creator. We need God's own word to help us perceive the Creator whom Adam lost the ability to walk with as a friend.

I have mixed the metaphors back and forth because we often use the image of the potter and the potter's clay to describe our relationship to the Creator. "I am not the potter, but the potter's clay," is one that I hear fairly often. I can write many things about God that I have read in His Word, but to sit down and write the definitive answer to, "Who is God?" would take me a lifetime and then some. Praise God for providing the answer in His Word and sending His answer in the person of Jesus our Lord. I have written very nearly this same thing before, and yet, I am no closer to the answer than God's Word. I am also no more distant from the answer than God's Word.

Have a wonderful day in Christ!


Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Next Great Revival - June 16, 2011

Good Thursday morning! The puppies out back got up mighty early this morning, and they are getting louder too. Let's see... four robin chicks from one bird, seven puppies from one dog... do you suppose something is in the water here? Animal reproduction seems to be in an overachieving mode in these parts. Must be all that landscaping going on; we'll blame it on that. Signs of the times or just a passing phase? We cannot tell from our limited vantage point. We are told to watch for the signs and so we tend to see signs in everything. Will Jesus come tonight, or will he return in a few thousand years? We don't know the date. The signs will come and we should be ready, but not as much in the hope of leaving this place as in grabbing the harvest tools and getting to work.

During the final seven years that we call the Great Tribulation, we can read about a great harvest. However, if we believe that Jesus will come before that final tribulation and bring his church home, also known as the Rapture, wouldn't it be better for all those who will be saved to join us in the Rapture rather than making them endure the terror of the tribulation? Anyone who waits for the final soul harvest during the tribulation period takes a terrible risk. In the final bowl or vial judgments, the Bible speaks of those who suffer and blaspheme God without repenting. At some point in the tribulation the time for making a decision for Christ will be over. How much better it is for people to hear the Word now and have the chance to believe in Jesus before that final period of history begins!

It is easy in this life to let the days and weeks go by as we busy ourselves with the daily grind. As one who has a chance to stand outside the rat race, even I can find little things to fritter away a day or a week. Suddenly, the Rapture will come and those left behind will have to endure the Tribulation. Who do I know that I love enough to tell them about Jesus right now? Well, pretty much everyone. As we grow in the love of Christ, we grow in loving. I can't get the word out to six or seven billion people, but then again I am not the only one Christ is growing up to spread the good news. I believe that the seeds of the Rapture have already been planted and are growing even now.

Before the tribulation time, I believe that a great worldwide revival will take place and many will come to believe in Christ. If I didn't believe that, I would just stop writing and worry about those few people around me. But, I believe that God loves every one of his creations and that He will bring a mighty host home in the Rapture. I also believe the time is fast approaching. More often now I see the great difference between those who will believe in Christ and those who will refuse to believe. The world is taking sides and soon one side will be called home. There is no exclusion, believe in Jesus and come home with Him on that great day.

Until that day comes, spread the good news by doing your job well or helping someone in need today.

Yours in Christ,


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Grateful Attitude - June 15, 2011

Good Wednesday morning! I couldn't think of anything to write, so the Lord sent me out to dig. Now after a couple of hours of digging, I can barely type. Kind of a rough transition between different types of work there. Yes, writing is technically working even if it doesn't seem much like real work. I know that I don't consider writing to be real work, especially after handling shovels and a tamper for a while. Yesterday I just couldn't bring myself to do much work outside. The hail did enough damage that it is a little depressing to see all that work looking so poorly. However, I am reminded of a certain fellow who appreciated the shade of a plant outside of Nineveh. He didn't plant the seed, water the soil, or till the weeds down, but it sure was a nice plant. Until it croaked and died that is. I didn't make the trees grow or the flowers come up, but I kind of take a little ownership of them and felt the sting when the plants were hurt. That may be the only interesting thing about that History channel show I griped about; the one about all the people being gone. The show does assume that plants will do just fine without us and the Bible says a similar thing. We can make irrigation systems in an imitation of God, but the real watering is done by His rain and rivers. We can plant seeds, but not create them. We can even pray for plants, but God's will makes them grow. But it is so easy to complain when something in nature comes along and destroys those same plants.

We are reminded to be grateful to God because it is so easy in this life to complain. Why do we complain? One reason might be an injury or pain. Those complaints are something we can bring to God to receive His strength, healing, and comfort. But the complaints that come from circumstances we don't like are a little different. How many times have you heard someone say, "God hates me!" when a business deal or project falls apart? That isn't fair to God and we know from the Bible that it isn't true. Now if you complain, "God hates my sin!" you certainly are correct. We have a direct line for repentance and forgiveness there. Those general complaints about things we cannot change though might get a little annoying to God. We are to live lives of gratitude and joy. God can fix hurting or give us the strength to endure, but He seems to have a hard time with that grumbling attitude of defeat. Remember the folks wanting to go back to Egypt and be slaves again? God didn't seem to like that attitude very much in the Bible stories.

I think that a little bit of landscaping work in the morning is good for me. Certainly my attitude has changed for the better. Outside I notice that the hail didn't hurt the soil and those plants are already at work recovering and growing; they didn't give up. Something in the world may kick us down a bit from time to time, but we have work to do and a God who loves us! Give 'er all ya got!


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The New Day - June 14, 2011

Good Tuesday morning! Okay, what to talk about this morning... hmm, let's see... Oh, maybe about us getting pounded by hail last night? Our houses in the neighborhood have some brand new holes in the siding and our plants have been flattened, but praise the Lord no one was hurt. I'll be going out soon to do a better damage assessment in the light of the morning, but we had a pretty rough night of it. A storm such as we had makes one appreciate having a home. At first simply for the fact the big hailstones aren't clunking you on the head, but later because the house is still standing while the pictures of places down south show a lot of houses not there at all. This morning it will not be hard to look at my house and realize that it could have gone much worse for us.

The storm has passed for now and the time has come to count our blessings. After a storm in life, we tend to count up the damages, but in Christ we are called to count up the blessings. What a privilege we have to thank God in all circumstances! Will the world call you crazy for thanking God for that truly smashing hailstorm last night? Probably, and they might be right. Thanking God in all circumstances might not mean thanking God for the circumstance. I'm not sure that going around the neighborhood thanking the Lord for the smashed plants, dented roofs (rooves?), and broken windows is going to win me any points with my neighbors. Thanking the Lord that no children were caught outside and hurt by the hail might be getting somewhere.

The Lord didn't go through the world picking out the dumbest of the dumb. We are to seek the Lord's wisdom in all things, and that includes our gratitude and what we thank the Lord for as well. We do not wish harm on our neighbors and we don't thank God when harm comes to them or their property from the circumstances of this fallen world. We are not called to be dumb brutes that thank God for every bad thing that comes along. On the other hand, we can be thanking God that our neighbor is standing after the storm. He might be complaining bitterly and blaming God, but we can thank God that the person is able to stand and run his mouth after the storm has passed. We can thank God that plants will heal, homes can be repaired, and cars un-dentified. We can thank God that the worries of yesterday have passed and that today is a new day.

I looked out the window at my tree that I have become rather attached to and realized that all the money in the world cannot repair the damage done to the tree last night. Oh, sure, if I had a pile of loot I could hire a tree surgeon to spend days carefully attaching the broken buds and branches as best he could. But for all of our technology and knowledge, the tree is best left to heal itself as God created it to do. Like last year, the tree had such nice new growth on it this year and like last year it suffered a lot of damage from the hail. Yet, it didn't give up and die last year and this year I can assume that it will continue growing and striving against the storm as well. When Christ brings us through the storm, we should look to that example and keep on striving and growing in Him.

Take a moment to look up today and give thanks as you pick up the pieces.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Until That Day - June 13, 2011

Good Monday morning! I am staring at a cord dangling down from a shelf and wondering if it dropped down further overnight or more slowly over time. The change is not so great that I know immediately that something even happened. Fast change like waking up to find the neighbor's house painted pink when you know it was brown last night is usually easy to spot. Although there are those who might not notice the pink for a week or two, most of us can spot the obvious changes. Slow change such as grass growing might take us a bit of time to notice; watching the grass grow is generally thought of as boredom or wasting time. Some days we prefer slow change; other days we want fast change. As we grow older our definition of what is changing too fast and too slowly might change as well. Whatever state of change you are in right now might be either too fast or too slow for your comfort level. If you have a change going on and you don't trust your own opinion, just wait a moment or two and someone else is sure to shout out their opinion of your change rate; he or she might even include some helpful adjectives about you free of charge.

In the Bible, we can read stories of change both for the better and for the worse. We often use the Old Testament Israelites, or Hebrews, as an example of how most lives go. It may seem at times as though no change was taking place such as the forty years of wandering in the wilderness. No doubt some of those old-timey Hebrews longed for a change of scenery too, but during those forty years the people who had refused God's command to enter the promised land were dying off. No one was going into a better place until Joshua and Caleb, the two faithful spies, were the only ones of the original group left. While the people wandered, weddings happened and new children were born. Some changing didn't stop even while the promised land was on hold. We know the people longed for a change in diet because the Bible records their times of grumbling. Imagine being just under the age of responsibility when Moses and the gang blew their shot at the promised land.

There you are at nineteen years old, just ready to start on life. You honor your father and mother according to the commandment and expect to live a long life. As a person just under the age that God holds responsible, twenty-one if I recall correctly, you don't get a vote on the report of the twelve spies, but you do get to suffer some of the consequences. The bad news is that by the time the old gang is gone, you will be at least 59 when the tribes enter the promised land. That forty years may have seemed to be a very slow change to some folks back in the day. Of course with our almost instantaneous news feeds, change may seem way too fast for us in this day.

If you told someone that he would not be able to take that great job in Poughkeepsie for another forty years, he would look at you like anyone would regard a completely insane or stupid person. Forty years is about what we expect to work before retirement in our times. Not taking a job until we are knocking on the door of retirement seems kind of stupid. Forty years is most of a lifetime. The amount of time we must wait for a change is relative to our situation and perception. You surrendered to Jesus a couple of years back and you want complete sanctification NOW! However, Jesus sees time a bit differently than we do. Forty years is next to nothing when thousands of years (at least so far) are involved from Adam to the return of Jesus. God will not bring anyone home ahead of his time. We too must wait to enter the promised land, except that we can't nail up a forty year calendar to our tent wall and start counting down the months. We live in faith, and part of faith is trusting that God knows the day when you and I get to go home. Until that day comes for us to enter the promised land, we learn to wait patiently while trusting in God. And there is much to do!

Have a great new day in Christ!


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Fearful - June 11, 2011

Good Saturday morning! Gold Rush Days runs all day today in town, except at my house where there is, alas, no gold to rush to. I did the hard work later in the evening yesterday, so I am not exactly off like a shot this morning. Freep! The sprinkler zone changes are making some hideous booming noises downstairs. What is up with that? I have fifteen minutes to investigate before the next change. Writing on a deadline again. Just when I thought that I was free of that too. Awful noises in the home sound expensive to the homeowner though. Gotta think that it's something simple and trust in Jesus.

It is interesting that one of the devotionals I read each morning features the story of Jesus sleeping in the boat while the frantic disciples are thinking cheerful thoughts like: death, drowning, swamping, and swimming through high waves. As you know, Jesus wakes up and says, "Why are you so fearful?" How often have you or I looked at the storm, thought that God must be asleep, and looked back at the storm? Pretty much every time the storm comes up I think. Now that I am thinking of Jesus, I believe I know the solution to the awful noises too. I have forgotten to shut off the hose that I used last night to clean out the pond. Time to run out and do what I should have done last night. Those things happen when I put off the hard stuff until later in the day. Don't fear that water ran all over last night, the hose has a nozzle on the end that shuts off the water, but when the sprinklers start up with the hose still under pressure, the noises are truly alarming down below. I'm sure now that I forgot to shut off the valve the second time last night. Ah well, way to create my own storm.

We do that often as well. The storm may not come up as a thunderstorm does, but is raised up by our own actions or inaction. In either case, Jesus would say the same thing, "Why are you so fearful?" We can and will make mistakes in this life; but when a life is given to God, He does not refuse to take charge of it. I don't know about you, but it is hard to think that I may have been guided into a mistake. Can that be true? The Bible, God's word, does say that He will direct our steps. Does that include the times we step in it so to speak? I think so. We don't blame God for the mistakes we make, but we can rest without fear that He knows how to guide us back out the other side. Now, while you ponder that, I'm going to go outside and fix my mistake from last night.

Have a great Saturday!


Friday, June 10, 2011

Start at the Beginning! - June 10, 2011

Good Friday morning! Where do we start believing the Bible? Probably Genesis 1:1 would be the correct answer. If you start believing at some verse after that, you might as well not believe at all. "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." We start believing in God right there at the Creation. And you know it, the world begins its attack on the Word right there too. We say: "I believe in Jesus and I know that God created the universe for His glory. I obey my Lord out of my love for Him." The world says: "I evolved in an expanding universe, therefore God didn't, and God isn't; I can do anything I want." The real reason for the world's love of evolution is that last bit.

When you start believing at Genesis 1:1, you will also join in the ages old battle: Is the Bible the inspired and correct Word of God, or is the Christian Bible a collection of ancient myths? As always, the answer you select is based on what is in your heart, or perhaps who is in your heart. The Holy Spirit is going to put a fire for God's Word in your heart. You will want to explore and commit to studying the Word of God. The prince of this world will put a prideful mark of disdain in the heart of a person who does not believe in Jesus. That disdain for God's Word helps a person categorize the Bible with all other ancient myths and religions. The pride comes when a person thinks that he or she is too intelligent for the Bible. I have found that approaching God's Word with the certainty that it is a whole lot smarter than I am is the way to really start the learning.

The world wants you to know that if you believe the Bible, you will believe anything. However, Paul or Peter, Moses or Joseph, John the Baptist or John the Apostle, would all stand up to tell you that it is those who refuse to believe God's Word who will fall for any doctrine or religion that comes along on our information superhighway. The Bible is a great gift. The very word of God himself that shows us the past right back to the beginning of the universe when God spoke and created. The word that shows us historical events that happened before we were born, the law that none could keep then and none keep now, and the redemption God provided in Jesus. The Bible also tells us how to gain eternal life and what is going to happen in the end times of this universe leading up to the start of eternity. What a privilege to be able to read and learn from God's own Word!

May God guide you in your walk with Him today,


Thursday, June 09, 2011

Take Him at His Word - June 9, 2011

Good Thursday morning! I think that I am losing contact with reality. A pair of scissors arrived in the mail yesterday that stated "Perfect for Fabric!" on the package. Isn't that like saying a scalpel is perfect for flesh or an ax is perfect for a tree? I would think the fabric might have another opinion on that statement. Wouldn't the perfect tool for a material heal rather than cut? Of course we are inundated by ad copy every day. Ad copy is the polite term for deception, falsehood, misleading, or just outright lying. Sounds like what we expect from crooks. Yet these people hold regular jobs that pay well (in some cases). Sounds too good to be true.

In this world we often go by what 'sounds good'. Our teachers back in the day tried to get us to memorize the rules of grammar so that we didn't go by what sounded right to us. Many of the ways and means of this world will sound good to our flesh but go directly against a commandment of God. A popular statement a few years ago went: If it feels good, do it. Following a mantra like that will lead you to sin faster than the old 'sounds good' method. Many of the urges our flesh tells us will feel good are addressed in a negative way in the Ten Commandments. We know from our Christian learning that sounds good and feels good are not the way to discern whether we should do something or not. Yet, we look at our salvation, searching for that moment, looking for that felt really good moment, trying to recall the sound of heavenly trumpets announcing our salvation maybe, and we should know better.

A nice blast of the heavenly trumpets, for those with an ear to hear let him hear, would be nice for assurance. We could all stand around dear old George and wonder while he prayed for salvation. The heavenly trumpets sound - ta-da-da-daaaah! - and we know beyond a doubt that George McGillicuddy is now a member of the saved; praise God! Like most of the idle wishes we have, that leaves no room for faith. If you walk into a wall, you know the wall is there and that it didn't move when you walked into it. The smarting of your nose and other body parts tells you that the wall is quite real and solid; no faith is required. If you then deny the wall's existence, you are placed in the loony bin for safekeeping. Your salvation is not a wall that you meet with your nose, but a condition that Jesus works on you. You can pray and invite the Holy Spirit into your heart, but you cannot reach out and grab the Spirit and stuff him inside your shirt next to your heart, or at least that blood-pumping organ we call a heart.

If the arrival of the Spirit in your life didn't bring a fanfare from Heaven that we could hear, not to worry. Jesus doesn't need our hearing and feeling in order to work a mighty salvation on each of us when we believe in Him. You may have felt a burden removed at salvation. Another may have felt a compulsion that had ruled his life removed forever at salvation. Someone else may have felt not much different, but that doesn't mean that he or she is any less saved. We cannot judge our salvation by our feelings. Does that mean we are to use our own understanding or intellect then? No, certainly not; use the Bible. Read God's word on salvation. Believe in Christ and take him at his Word.

Have a wonderful new day!


Wednesday, June 08, 2011

A Standard to Meet - June 8, 2011

Good Wednesday morning! We have 3 nice days coming up in the weather forecast. At least the forecast high temps look pretty nice, the little windows do not contain a lot of detail. Looking around our neighborhood, I thought of a similar thing. We live in a pretty nice place. No mansions, but nice homes that are well above the standard in most of the world. Out front are nice lawns with a bit of landscaping; some lawns have more and some less, especially the one that has finally made an effort at catching up after living in the neighborhood for more than ten years now, but we don't need to go in to that little detail right now. If you look past the nice lawns to the streets and driveways, you will find a few campers, a few boats, and quite a few cars and pickups; again, some have more and some less, but overall a fairly normal selection of vehicles for a neighborhood of this type.

Coming from the houses you will not hear loud arguments and only the occasional cry of a child or two. With most homes in our two little blocks of the street having two paying jobs, some earning more and some less, the financial issues are not like those you would find in a rundown apartment block or a "projects" housing in a city. Many of the families are also relatively young and have but one or two children. Out front in the mostly well-kept lawns you would find the normal conversation and the normal questions. Things out front seem pretty good here in the heartland. But this morning, I thought about the real heart land, the one that matters when we stand before God at the judgment. Are things still pretty good if you and I could see what God sees on this little street where I live?

Right, we can't see and so we do not know. We could go into comparisons of how much Person X lives on per year in this country over there, and how much Person Z lives on in this country over yonder, but that doesn't tell the story that only God can read in the heart of Person Y on this little street. In the world, some people might have cause for envy at our apparent lifestyle, while some others would have cause to look down the nose at our homes and yards. That isn't the standard we will be judged against though. That would be too easy.

Can you imagine the competition that would take place if each person had to have one house of a minimum size, a nice yard out front, and a certain minimum in cash and possessions to get into Heaven? Actually, if you look around at the world from a distance you might think that is exactly the standard God set down in his word. If that's the case, my neighbors to the west are winning; I hope they will give me a good reference when they meet God. You see, even in writing about this disease of stuff and money we seem to have, I find myself comparing neighbors. In a way you might say that I have dropped out of the race, but I still have those human eyes made of flesh that want to look around me. If I moved to a so-called rundown neighborhood the disease would not let go of me, for the flesh is a part of me and would move with me. What I must do is learn to look in another direction and at another standard.

In God's word we find the standard he set down for us to compare our actions and thoughts against. The Law has all the thou-shalt-not's that anyone could want in a difficult standard. Jesus summarized the standard when he told his followers to be perfect even as their heavenly Father is perfect. So instead of looking around me at the world, I have to look at an impossible standard? I'm screwed.

Exactly, not one of us can keep up with the world's standards of wealth and accomplishments for there is always something more to add to our life's resume. Not one of us can meet God's standard because all of us were born into a sinful state. There must be another way. A way they looked forward to from Adam's fall to the last words of Malachi; from the promise made to John the Baptist's parents to the final benediction of John the Apostle after the Revelation of Christ. A way that doesn't require us meeting a standard that none can meet or keep up with. A way that stood before his disciples and said, "I am the Way..." Hey, that makes it kind of obvious, no?

Enjoy the day! We have a choice before us: get ahead of the Joneses of the world and hope God will use that standard, meet God's perfect standard set down in the Law, or believe in Christ and take hold of the promise of John 3:16 and 14:6.


Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Still Trying! -- June 7, 2011

Good Tuesday morning! Peanut butter toast can stick in the throat a bit and a good mug of coffee can help with that. Sometimes good advice can stick in the throat in a manner of speaking too. We don't want to hear it, but we get it anyway, and the advice can make us a little defensive. The commands of our Lord can work the same way. We know that the words of the Bible, God's word, are for our own good, but we want to do what we think is best. Have you ever come to the list of folks who will not be in Heaven and found yourself on the list? Well, not by name of course, but some time in your life you have qualified for that list. Thank God for the grace of Jesus Christ!

A person could give me some good advice for my little problem. "Don't eat peanut butter toast in the morning, knucklehead." Right, donuts are way better! "No, that's not quite what I had in mind..." We can take the good advice and replace it with even worse actions. If you ever wondered whether you had any talent at all, look no further: we all seem to have a talent for taking good advice and making it into a worse situation. You would pity, perhaps even be disgusted by an alcoholic who gave up beer and took up with hard liquor instead. However, with a bit of careful looking and the help of the Holy Spirit, you can probably find an area of your life where you did something quite similar. Perhaps a person gave up pornography, but kept the fantasies and worked on making them better in his mind until he was even more lost in an imagined world of fornication and adultery. Another may have given up a life of dishonesty, but now she will not believe anything that another person says. We tend to heal our first sin with something worse when we try to do our own healing. As fallen creatures in a sin-stained world, we don't know the right way to turn without our Lord Jesus.

In Christ we turn first to Him for healing. You or I may not notice immediate healing in some condition, but Jesus has heard our cry for help. I have sins that I have struggled with for years, as does most anyone who has ever called Jesus "Lord". I have faith that the struggle will be for my own good because of the promise of Christ. Do I wish that Jesus had immediately healed all of my faults at salvation? Sure, and I'm quite sure that you feel the same about your life. However, faith tells me that Jesus has it all under control and that my struggle is working toward the sanctification that he has promised. I am far from perfect right now. The list of those who will not be in Heaven might even cause me to gulp and ask forgiveness one more time from God the Father. But the Spirit tells me to stand up, Jesus has paid for my sins, and God has forgiven me. Every time I fall, I am told to try again and keep on trying until the great and glorious day comes when Jesus will bring me home.

Have another new day in Christ; keep on trying!


Monday, June 06, 2011

All of My Heart? - June 6, 2011

Okay, it must be Monday by now! Good Monday morning! Let the grace and peace of Jesus Christ rest on you today. Finally, after days of 1-0 games in the WCWS, the games yesterday had some runs scored. Fun to watch even if it did mean the end for the last Big 12 team. Summer is just around the corner for us, but the last couple of days have given us a hint of what is to come. Today could be the warmest yet this year. Do we dare plant some garden plots or will it freeze one more time this season? Out here, ya just never know.

In times of trouble, I often quote from Psalm 28: The Lord is my strength and shield. Of course, I didn't always know that it came from that particular psalm or even that it came from the Psalms. However, in coming to that verse in my Bible study on Saturday, I read the rest of the story as Paul Harvey used to say.

The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. (Psalm 28:7)

I like that even better than just the first line of the verse. The second line is a bit more difficult. And I must admit that not always have I been able to say that without some confession of failure. Trusting in the Lord with all of my heart is just not what was taught to me by the world. With all of my heart? Are you sure there isn't an exception for my education or experience? An athlete might want an exception for her strength and agility. A professor might want an exception for his intellect, but David trusted in the Lord with all of his heart. Any of us might want to give a pass to our own area of talent or strength.

I have found that the Bible doesn't often grant exceptions and with good reason. If I do not trust in the Lord with all of my heart, then He cannot be my strength and shield. The Lord steps back and lets me fall on my buttocks when I trust in my own ability until I learn to trust in Him with all of my heart. Am I totally without the Lord's protection when I try to use my own ability? No, even Job had limits set about him when Satan was allowed to harm his family, possessions, and finally his body. If God withdraws his shield just a little, it is more than enough for the world and its prince to knock me down. If God withdrew from me completely, I would surely be destroyed. There is no choice in reality. Once I came to believe in Jesus, I gained a powerful enemy, and I must now have God's protection and trust in him with all my heart.

Then, with God's help and protection all about me, like David I am filled with joy and burst out in thanksgiving. The real growth is to realize that at all times, and not just when things seem to be going along just fine and dandy. I will trust in the Spirit and the Son to bring me there!

Have a great new week in Christ!


Friday, June 03, 2011

What Day Is It? - June 3, 2011

Good Monday morning. I can't believe that I just wrote that on a Friday. In keeping with my tradition of not erasing the harmless mistakes... oops, that would mean that we just skipped the weekend and started a new work week! Sorry, maybe that isn't so harmless for you corporate drones and worker bees. What a horrible thought! No weekend, yikes! Might I suggest a good dose of The Generous Mr. Lovewell by MercyMe before you come down here with your torches and pitchforks? At least listen to the song, if you don't have time for the album. All right, let's try this again!

Good Friday morning! The WCWS has started for 2011. You may have missed the four games yesterday in your busy life, but feel free to check in on the ESPN networks later today for the winner's bracket games. For those completely out of touch (like the guy who wrote Monday in place of Friday this morning) WCWS stands for Women's College World Series. If you miss the old days of baseball before the athletes became millionaires or wannabe millionaires; the fans participating in cheers for their team, and a game that moves along without delay, you can watch the college women playing in Oklahoma City for the NCAA championship.

Sorry, I had to pause there to listen to All of Creation, another great song. Now without further delay... Does it seem like the things we are most critical of are often very closely related to our own faults? If you want to hear a rancorous critique of smokers, ask a recovered cigarette addict his opinion. If you want to hear someone come down on fat folks, look to a successful dieter. Even when we have seemingly overcome a problem in this world, we tend to be overly harsh with those still struggling with the same problem. I can only imagine the harsh comments I would get today from someone who has trouble remembering what day it is. Yet, the best example of how to deal with sinners is the one who had no sin in himself.

All of us are sinners, and Jesus did not criticize or disparage us in his ministry. He did criticize those who claimed to be without sin and should have recognized the Son of God for who he was. I find it interesting that Jesus rejected those closest to perfection in the world of his time, while he accepted and even went out of his way to choose those who had only their sinful lives to offer him. Jesus set free the demon-possessed (talk about sin in your life!), healed the sick, and taught those who would listen. His only harsh words were for those who were self-righteous, and his words for those who the world would consider the worst were of love and faithfulness. Even on the cross after Jesus had suffered much at the hands of the Romans as the mob demanded, he had only words of forgiveness for them.

Did you realize that if the Gospels had not happened about 2,000 years ago and some writer came up with an idea for the Cross today we would have a somewhat different story? You can pretty much fill in the story yourself, but the world would be okay with the miraculous birth and the youth spent in obscurity in a small town. The ministry would have to include some shallow love triangle with Mary Magdalene and let's say Martha. The nemesis could be played by the Pharisees since we like to pick on our own governments, and the Romans would serve as the force to be overcome by the hero. The story of the mock trial and torture would work quite well, but when we came to the death of Jesus on the cross, that would be changed to some superhero kind of thing where Jesus would come down from the cross with some witty comment, "That's enough of this nonsense!"; announce that he is the King of kings and proceed to demolish the Roman legions with lightning bolts from his eyes and punish the Pharisees for their cheek in a suitably horrible way. The end would be the wedding of Jesus and one of the women, perhaps with John pining off to the side for his lost romantic love. Praise God it didn't happen that way.

We know the story from the gospel accounts; we may want to keep spreading the Good News of what did happen before some wag comes up with a remake.

Have a great Friday in Christ, and enjoy the weekend in its proper place.


Thursday, June 02, 2011

Not Blank Anymore! - June 2, 2011

Good Thursday morning! A blank slate for you to fill in, Lord! We have all heard similar statements intended to motivate us to give our lives to the control of the Lord. This is good when we are first saved, but God is not likely to give up all of the hard work that he has put into your life already. If you have grown past the infant Christian stage of your life, you are probably no longer a blank slate for the Lord. Even as a Christian youth, if we continue the metaphor, you most likely have noticed that you don't sin quite as easily as you once did. A temptation of the flesh begins a fight and not an automatic failure. Some temptations may not bother you as they once did. Jesus may have moved you somewhere too.

Many, in our country at least, tend to move fairly often in their lives; sometimes until they find a place and say, "That's it! I'm settling down right here." That may work and then again God may have further plans for you. Others find themselves planted by God at birth and they never leave their hometown. Some leave home after high school and never again have a place that we would call a home. Of course, our true home is with God in Heaven in any case. Where you are now is a part of God filling in that blank slate. You may have changed jobs after your first visit to the cross.

Almost all of us will through one reason or another have more than one job in our lives. Leaving your first one may have been your decision through going off to college or through having an 'oops' moment of some type. Other circumstances can affect jobs held in your working years as many of us have experienced not so long ago, and then you may be one of those who make it to a retirement. All of those situations can be a part of God writing on that blank slate. Where you are working is a part of where you have been planted by God. Some of us may hold jobs that do not seem to be directly related to a life in Christ, while others are the pastors and missionaries that we commonly see as jobs that are directly under God's supervision. God uses all of us when our lives are given to Him.

Your family situation: married or single or divorced or not sure, all can be used by God to write on that once blank slate. Your situation may have changed after that first visit to the cross, or it may not have changed at all. God can use us as single persons or as married couples. Marriage, I suspect, will make some rather large marks on the ol' slate, better that God be in charge of those marks than the world or me! A young couple will soon marry up on the hill at the E-Free, no doubt they will see some of the big changes in their own lives very soon.

Speaking of changes, jobs, family, homes, and many other things do change as we grow older and better in Christ. In a life given to Christ, we have the blessed assurance that all of these changes are for the good. I like that assurance because the changes can at times be traumatic. Knowing that God is in charge of my life and that He is carefully controlling the changes to make me a better reflection of His Son helps me to accept and even embrace changes from the past and those that may happen today. The future? Well, that is in God's hands. However far I have come in my journey with Jesus, I know that I am no longer a blank slate.

Have a wonderful day as God writes a bit more on that slate of your life,


Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The Little Tasks - June 1, 2011

Um, Good Wednesday morning? Wednesday always seems to get here so quickly on a holiday week. Where did Monday and Tuesday go? Of course, Monday was the holiday and Tuesday was the recovery day, so, boom, Wednesday is already here. Half the week is gone and it always seems that something isn't done yet. The good part of that is Friday is just that much closer. Meaning that all of the work you have scheduled for this week must be done at the double time of course. Some folks get a paid day off work on a Monday holiday, but at the same time nothing comes for free: the rest of the week is crammed together and you end up doing all the work you 'missed' on Monday anyway. Sometimes you might wonder what good a holiday is and if it wouldn't be better to just skip the whole thing. A closeup photo of a cicada is staring at me from my computer screen all bug-eyed. I think it may be a comment on my goofy holiday analysis today.

The summer heat comes today for a brief visit, so I set and accomplished three missions yesterday afternoon. While it feels good to have made a list and checked off the jobs, I realize this morning how easy it is to busy myself away from God's mission for the life I have given him. In our Christian walk we have things we want to do and things that God commands us to do. Is there room for both? Often there is, but if there is a conflict, God's way must come first. Other times we like to take our Day-timer, or other planner and fill up the day with tasks. We forget to ask God what He would have us to do, but we do ask for God's blessing on what we want to do. At the end of the day it feels good to go down the list checking off the tasks, but did we accomplish those things that are best for us? Did we accomplish what God would have used to grow us spiritually in this life?

So far in my life, I have noticed that God's tasks don't go away. If I busy the spiritual task out of my life one day, it sits there staring at me the next morning as if to say: "Yes, you did good yesterday except for ignoring me." I then realize that God should not be put off to later or tomorrow. We need His fellowship now. We need to study His Word today. There is a certain guilt feeling associated with ignoring God's mission too. And we probably don't like that feeling much, at least I know that I don't like it much. Then there are those other days.

Yes, those days when the seemingly little, but sacrificial, tasks that we accomplish are a part of God's plan and we grow to a better knowledge of Him through the mundane tasks that need doing. Maintaining a home might be one of these, cleaning the church another, or even spending time with the grand kids; little tasks that may not seem so important or even in the way of your great works that you want to accomplish in this lifetime. Some of these little tasks may be more sacrificial than others. The great works that God performs to His glory are made up of many little tasks that He allows us to do for him. Some may seem to go completely unnoticed, but God knows. One great day you and I might just see a pile of treasure in Heaven waiting for us. A pile larger than we ever thought possible. Get on those small works for God and build up some heavenly treasure!