Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Mind: A Cruel Joker - July 30, 2011

Good Saturday morning! If you want a cheap cat, I have one for you right here. He hasn't spent a dime on me all year; I'd call that cheap! Waa ha, ha, boooo! Save the dumb jokes for prime time television! Get back to your day job! I make no claims to be a you can probably tell. I'm looking at a Lego fire boat; one that I put together some years ago. There is nothing wrong with the toy and it doesn't hurt anything. However, this toy could contribute to my sin if I play with it while I should be doing God's work. On the other hand, the toy could be useful as a toy when I need to relax my mind and play. Have you ever taken all the fun out of your life?

Let's say you have just come to believe in Jesus and have surrendered your life to him. You want to do well, so you ruthlessly remove all of the distractions in your life. You must be about God's work, Jesus even said something like that. Like Mr. Clean you go through your home and car removing all entertainment. CDs, DVDs, books except for the Bible and Bible commentaries, toys (obviously), hobby stuff, anything that might distract you from the Lord's work is so gone from your life. Even that art on the wall that doesn't have much to do with much is taken down. Only pictures of Jesus (even though we don't know what he looked like back in the day), the Last Supper (see note on the previous item), crosses, and prayer plaques are allowed on the walls of this house. The television is tuned to one of the religious channels and the remote locked up. All radios are tuned to Christian stations and only magazines of Christian subject matter are seen. Even those calendars from the bank that don't have pictures of churches on them are removed. And everyone knows that Internet is nothing but the virtual gateway to Hell, out with it! The house is cleaned for Jesus! Praise the Lord!

Guests come over and unless they are of a similar mind, they might wonder what in the world is wrong with this house? Of course, some folks need to do this early in their Christian life. Not all of us do, but for some it works. However, cleaning the heart is not quite so easy. Many a person has locked himself away from the world in some manner only to find the same old images flashing through the dark corners of his mind. Others have cleaned house only to find that even Christian friends feel uncomfortable in their sterile home. Children in particular would be uncomfortable in a home with no toys of any kind. I would be uncomfortable in a home with no toys of any kind. There are distractions and then there are distractions.

If a distraction is keeping you from doing what God has called you to do, then of course it needs to go. But we all need times of relaxation and play. If you don't relax and play a little then the mind may start playing cruel jokes on you, like mine did last night when I dreamed that I was back at my old workplace. Obviously I need to relax and play a little today. The shuddering and gagging should ease later on today, I hope. Saturday is a good day for some relaxation and play. You may not be able to crawl around on the ground with the Tonka toys anymore, but you can find something suitable to play with I'm sure. Your toys might cost a bit more than they did back when you were little, but they are still toys. Enjoy the day!

Say a prayer for Burt today as he begins a long journey east... way east. It might even be tomorrow when he gets there.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Timelessness - July 29, 2011

Good 'n foggy Friday! The main road up the hill is open once again, perhaps the traffic in my neighborhood can slow down to normal. I'm thinking that as you go to work or get started on this workday, you probably don't feel very timeless. More than likely you feel the same sense of time that most of us do: that is that there isn't nearly enough of it. Employers don't feel satisfied these days unless all of their corporate serfs are overwhelmed. Corporate profits are booming while wages and employment are stagnant. Sharing the success in corporate America seems to be unpopular with some folks. You also feel the time approaching the weekend when at least many of you can get away from that corporate time crunch. Others of a somewhat younger age are counting down the time to the start of something horrendous and confining and around here it starts in less than a month. I won't mention that word today, but it rhymes with fool and makes the parents say "Cool!" A few of us are even watching the time until we can get rid of Burt for a couple of weeks or so. Oh... wait, I wasn't supposed to print that until Monday. Oops, just forget that I said that today.

We have a sense of time in all things we do. Even now someone will be looking for the return of Jesus. However, the one who decides the big, important things such as the Rapture and the start of the Tribulation and the final judgment and other things like that does not feel a time burden as we do. God is not sitting on his heavenly throne watching 24 clocks tick off the time around the world. You might say that our God is timeless. He doesn't get rushed or miss an appointment. God is not late for anything or wishing he had more hours in the day. God doesn't even watch Friday tick slowly away so that the weekend can begin in Heaven.

One of the things I look forward to about Heaven is the start of eternity. Right now we try to face eternity with our human minds and we get reboots and errors. My mind doesn't like to stare into eternity; the concept is too vast for me. However, imagine that you have a project that you want to do, and you really want to surprise a friend by presenting the finished product to him, but you have plenty of time to get it just right. You can make this gift truly wonderful because you have more than enough time and there is no rush. In fact, interruptions that can be so difficult now are welcome because you have all of eternity. But then... why not just present your self to the friend and spend something that doesn't matter anymore - time. You find the friend and decide to ride a light beam from one side of the universe to the other.

We could not live but the tiniest fraction of the time necessary to do something like that right now. Got a few billion light years to hang around? Didn't think so. But in God's eternity, why not spend a thousand billion years exploring God's Creation? Today we have a power loss. I can try to I don't remember what I was going to try to do. The power outage lasted a couple of hours. I do know that I can still take a hot shower after the power has been out for an hour or so, but I can't send the devotional. I guess you could say that I was powerless to send it. Ouch! Pain! Agony! No more dumb power outage jokes. :-) I guess that I didn't realize that I was in fact running out of time to send the devotional though. Makes kind of a nice example of my point today.

Praise God the power came back. And now to send before some other countdown timer runs out.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

That Painful 'Sin Weeding'! - July 28, 2011

Good Thursday morning! My hands are having a tough time typing this morning; sorry about that bit of alliteration there. I have bad news for us all: the curse is still strong upon the earth. Yup, pulling out weeds is difficult and frustrating. The flowers, on the other hand, fall over with but a slight, accidental push. Most of my flower seeds washed away in the half dozen big rains we had, so I am grateful to have any flowers at all. However, after pulling up the weeds there isn't a whole lot of green left in my flower beds. Now think back 20 years or so ago and imagine the jokes that would have been shouted out had I talked about flowers and seeds during my time in the Marines. Fortunately, you could say my dozen or so scraggly flowers are about what you might expect from an old Marine trying to plant a flower garden for the first time. In case you have not yet arrived at this conclusion: I don't know everything! Yup, most everything I try for the first time turns out rather, well, scruffy and scraggly. Guess that goes to show that I'm pretty much just like most of humanity that way.

Imagine if Jesus had to give it several tries to get it right. The master of ceremonies calls the bridegroom over: "Usually people wait until everyone has downed a few goblets of the good stuff to bring out the cheaper wine, but you... you have insulted me with this vinegar! We are so out of here!" The servants in the back quickly look around, but Jesus is nowhere to be found. Mary is quietly sitting alone with her face in her hands. Nope, didn't work out quite that way. We can read in the Bible that Jesus didn't cause any person's legs to fall off when he healed them. The water became the best wine at Cana. The demons didn't just laugh when Jesus commanded them to depart. Jesus did everything that God wanted done perfectly on the first try. Jesus didn't stumble over his words delivering the Sermon on the Mount even though he didn't have years of seminary training and two hundred meetings of the Toastmaster's behind him. Jesus didn't sin, didn't need to apologize, and didn't even make a mistake in his life.

Well, I guess he was just the perfect Son of God. How does that help me? Yes, we are correct that Jesus is the perfect Son of God, but that shouldn't be a cause for giving up on our own efforts. Instead we are invited to bring our efforts to the cross and place them in the care of our Lord and Savior. We know - okay, I know now - that you cannot toss a few seeds out and have a perfect flower garden come up. In this cursed world we have to pray and weed and tend and water and all of the other stuff that goes into making even a simple flower garden. You and I are much like that garden when we invite Jesus to become Lord of our lives. Before we come to believe we are like that vacant lot that has been allowed to grow unchecked for years, but that's another story.

As the Spirit moves in, he probably looks around and takes inventory. There are the seeds that Jesus planted, but there are also a lot of those sin weeds. The Spirit might even pause for a moment and say, "This is going to take a lot of work!" Of course, we know from the Bible that the work Jesus has begun in us will be completed. Praise God for that, because sometimes it seems even to me, let alone what the Spirit sees, that I have a lot of those sin weeds that keep on popping up in my life. The curse sits heavily upon all of God's Creation, but we know that God isn't going to just leave it that way. Any person can chose to stay that way, but you and I have chosen to believe in Jesus the Son. The 'sin weeding' in our life is going to hurt as the Spirit yanks that junk out of his garden, but one day each of us will be presentable to the Savior.

God's peace and joy to you,


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

B-A-L-A-N-C-E July 27, 2011

Good Wednesday morning! In a movie made some years ago, a character sings a little ditty spelling out balance. Last night I thought that perhaps we have too many ministers going too far one way or another. Jesus did say that we will experience suffering, but he also said that God would provide for our needs. Jesus also gave us his peace. It may be true that the ministers who preach only health, wealth, and happiness therein are going too far toward the provision side. There is a scriptural basis for prosperity in the Bible, but that is not the entire Bible. There is a scriptural basis to preach suffering, but that too is not the only thing that Jesus said to us.

We have all observed the elder of the church. You know the one. Hardly a week goes by that he or she is not brought up in prayer for some health or life condition that involves seemingly unbearable suffering. As a youth, you might have even wondered how that person could show up with a smile on her face each week. The prosperity gospel boys might say that condition will last only for a season and then the elder will be restored. You might even wonder about that message as you attend the funeral. On the other hand, some Christians do appear to enjoy the health and wealth life with only minor seasons of testing or trial. We think of how unfair that seems relative to our own trials in this life. The suffering ministers might claim that those folks are not truly believers in Jesus. Well, that seems kind of unfair too in light of the Bible verses on God's desire to prosper us. And is it right that this health and prosperity would only happen in Heaven? Most of the verses dealing with provision, health, and prosperity that I can recall don't add "when you get to Heaven" on the end.

Perhaps it is not right to preach either 'gospel' exclusively. We can look around the world these days easily through our Internet or satellite news outlets. We see that Christians both far and near do suffer both physically and emotionally. We also see that some Christians do prosper in this life, though it is difficult or impossible to do in some nations. Christians have died in prison and Christians have died peacefully in their homes surrounded by friends and family in their last moments. Christians have lived in poverty and Christians have lived in wealth. Many of God's people have lived with little and with more than enough in their one lifetime. Look at the example of David who lived as a shepherd, a wanted fugitive, and as King of Israel. Paul had learned to be content with much or with little. Monks and nuns have come from wealthy families and taken vows of poverty. Sons and daughters of the well-to-do have become missionaries with little or no income. On the other hand, Christian children have grown up in poor homes and gone on to high paying jobs or even great wealth. Maybe, just maybe, we pay too much attention to prosperity AND suffering. Perhaps the problem is in trying to give one-size-fits-all sermons (or devotionals).

Praise God that the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ is both general and very personal. You may not suffer as much in life as that brother in Christ, or you may suffer much more. You may not have as much loot to give as that other family who has just as much faith in Jesus as you do. You may have much more to give than a family in that small village over yonder who has far more faith than all of us put together. We don't know what is coming to us tomorrow or the next day. Health, wealth, prosperity, suffering, trials, tribulations: perhaps we all should first seek our Lord and His Word. Accept what each has been given and praise God for all who believe.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Make the Call! - July 26, 2011

Good Tuesday morning! Our bit of humidity has returned to the area, but the temps have been moderate compared with much of the nation. The last week of July has arrived and the county fair is under way. There, now you are up to date on all the important news. But... none of that is important, you might say. You would be correct in that; my news is not exactly earth-shattering. Congrats, you have now racked up one correctness point for the day. Some days it may seem like we are not right on anything. The boss jumps on you all day long. The spouse has a list of 'wrongs' you committed that day. And you must admit that for the entire day both the boss and the 'boss' are correct in all points. Where do you go to find some right for your life?

John the Baptist had doubts about Jesus during is time in prison. Nicodemus came to find Christ by night. Timothy needed Paul to send some Word to him in his first ministry. These men may have had times of doubt, but they knew one thing the Spirit also tells us: where to find answers to those doubts. John the Baptist was locked up and would not come out of prison with his head intact, but he knew whom to send his disciples to see. Nicodemus had trouble swallowing the answers he received, but he knew where to ask his questions. Timothy... we don't know any more about, but Paul knew to send a dose of the Word at least twice. All of them received answers and encouragement from the source: Jesus, the Word of God. Even the one we like to call 'Doubting' knew who to ask. Thomas brought his doubts and questions right to the source: His Lord Jesus Christ. Today we can do the same thing.

The death of Jesus on the cross tore the veil of the temple in two. No longer would man be separated from God save by his own rejection of the Son. Jesus even taught us to pray directly to our Father, who art in Heaven. We will have doubts in this life, but we now have a direct line to the Creator of all things. God doesn't leave his prayer phone off the hook so he can get some sleep. God doesn't shut down Heaven's switchboard to give the staff a break. God does not even have to reboot the prayer servers for maintenance. The prayer lines to Heaven are always open and every call is routed right to the top. Place your 'call' to God right now; He is always waiting to hear from all of us.

God's blessings, peace, and mercy be with you today,


Monday, July 25, 2011

One for Jon - July 25, 2011

Good Monday morning! What am I supposed to feel? Something has come to pass that I didn't pray for and consciously tried to avoid praying for. A while back it would have been easy to give into bitterness and anticipate such a thing happening, even to the point of asking God to look into it. However, today I feel only sad that this has happened to yet another person I know. Yes, another job lost, but this time it seems that the shoe is on the other foot so to speak. Is my information correct and accurate, I don't know for sure, but my feelings about it would be the same. I am reminded of the music teacher of ours some years ago who died about ten years after I had thought him already passed on. My feelings the first time around were a bit premature, but when the actual event came along I was only surprised, having endured the normal feelings some time before.

I would imagine that confirmation will be forthcoming, but I don't believe that my feelings will change. After three years of this, I simply don't want anyone else to lose his or her job. It says something about the work the Holy Spirit has done in me that even for the person who sat across that table from me and said, "Hit the trail, bub!" (not an exact quote) that I feel only saddened by his dismissal. As the Spirit works in me and on me, I am simply not the person that I once was in this world. Should I somehow feel vindicated? The world may think so, but in Christ I do not. The worldly thinking would of course assume that I am not satisfied, but that is going the wrong direction. On the contrary I would rather that no more of this would happen. All of us I think are worn down from the job losses of the past 3 or so years. Too much bad news can wear on us.

However, wait just one moment there... the power of prayer has not lost its potency. As with the many of us who have gone through this job loss thing, we can pray for yet one more. We can pray for his healing and for God to use this event in his life to draw this man closer to His Son, Jesus Christ. Each of us can witness that the events in our lives that were and are the most difficult to endure are also those that have brought us running to Jesus time and time again. In a difficult time not one of us may feel a powerful prayer can come out of our quivering lips. But we don't have powerful prayers anyway; we pray to a powerful God!

Kneel down in prayer. Not just for those who have hurt you, but especially for those who have hurt you; not just for those who have been hurt, but especially for those who have been hurt. If a person happens to belong to both groups in your life: pray double for 'em!


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Go Forward in Faith - July 23, 2011

Good Saturday morning! As I sit here preparing to write the devotional, a photo of the man suspected in killing so many children at a youth camp in Norway is staring back at me. I am wondering of course what is it in the photo I expect to see. Horns are not growing out of the sides of his head in the photo, although the funny little beard thing does kind of suggest horns. He does not have pointy ears, evidence of a forked tail, or even a mean look about him. He is dressed well and though not smiling, he certainly isn't glowering at the camera. He is described by some as a farmer, which at times in the past might be reason to go over the edge, but farmers are doing well right now. What causes a man to kill?

The man responsible for the Arizona shooting spree had a 'psycho' look about him, but the photo was taken after the crime. I suspect the look had been carefully cultivated, but that's just my suspicion. The tragic thing, as I write about yet another mass murderer, is that we cannot look at a person and see a multiple murder in his eyes or countenance. At least so far, no photo that I have seen would have led me to jump up and say, "They should have known about that guy!" God alone can look inside a mind or heart and know what is going to happen.

On a Saturday I often like to write a less serious devotional, but yesterday's events in Norway cannot be passed over so easily. Worse, the man claimed to be a Christian on his Facebook page. Of course we know that anyone can check mark the little boxes and claim to be any religion they wish. No one gets to review the choices and say, "Hey, he cannot claim that!" If you know a friend is misrepresenting his religion you can make a post, but the claim will stand. On the other hand, we shouldn't simply dismiss the claim.

Any of us can give into the despair and doubt when we depend upon our own strength without the power of prayer. We all have times in our past where we have gone our own way in opposition to the guidance of the Spirit and fallen flat into sin. We have all rebelled against God even after giving our lives to Jesus. The man may very well have been a Christian, but somehow and somewhere he began listening to fears, doubts, little dark whispers in the ear of the mind that fed the despair until he took up a weapon and took lives with it. We want to say, "No way!" but we all know that our own thinking isn't always centered on Christ as it should be. We also know that head injuries, disease, and various drugs can affect thinking in drastic ways. I'm not seeking to make excuses for this awful crime, only to remind us that we don't know everything. A crime of this magnitude might cause us to wonder how it can serve God's plan for us and the world. I can only say that I do not know that either. As for me, I will go forward in faith in Christ Jesus, and in the hope of His return.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Defeated Again? - July 22, 2011

Good Friday morning! Routed! Sent packing! Beaten and dismissed! Whooped on and sent home to mama! Not the things you might want someone to write up in a review of your day. The skeeters did whoop on me this morning and I did indeed increase my pace to get home. It could be worse I see now. How would you like to be the forklift driver that dropped a million bucks worth of wine from 20ft up? Smash! That would make me feel rather sick I think. Sometimes a huge blunder is well... a huge blunder. What's done is done and somehow an apology seems to fall short of adequate. Imagine the insurance mess; imagine the mess on the dock! Drunken seagulls everywhere. Oh, the horror of it all! We laugh, but somewhere is a forklift driver that might just be feeling very down. I know that if I destroyed a million dollars worth of property belonging to another person I would be sobbing in a corner somewhere.

We do make mistakes in this life and we do suffer accidents, equipment failures, and the occasional flight to get away from the skeeters. Life is not always fair to us and life can serve up a hefty dose of defeat at times. We don't like those times very much, but come they will. A mistake at work over the past couple of years has been especially hair-raising in that so many have lost their jobs. A mistake anywhere can be costly, but most of us have felt the urge to be extremely careful at work for way too long now. Mistakes, small defeats, losing a game, why does the world seem so gosh darn painful all the time?

Part of it may be our fixation on winning. We think that everyone must win, while knowing that to win in a contest means that someone else must lose. Thousands may start a marathon, but only one runner will finish first. Is it right to call all of the other runners losers? Just to complete a marathon in my life would be a big win for me. Did you catch the article about winning in that magazine? I can't remember which magazine it was, another loss for me. It seems that winning something is also addictive. Lottery winners go right back to buying lottery tickets. Super Bowl winners want to go back and win another one. Race winners jump right back in the car to compete again and sometimes must be forced to retire. We strive to win and once we do we cannot get enough of it. Perhaps winning all of these things is not the best goal to have; it certainly doesn't seem to satisfy anyone. You can bet that the Seniors tour wasn't invented by the PGA because the pro golfers were tired and had enough of golf. The drive to compete in something can put a terrible strain on us if we are too caught up in it, and yet we go back for more!

There is one race that we signed up for when we gave our lives to Christ. Paul mentions it in his letters. The good news is that the only way to lose this race is to give up on Jesus! It is easy to give up on myself when I look at my own strength. Giving up on Jesus is a whole different matter. Remember all of those tough races or projects or diets (oops!) that you just couldn't finish or see through to the end? Jesus is going to make sure that all of his lambs finish this race. We may fall across the finish line at 113 years old, worn out in mind and body, grasping for the 'tape' with our last breath, but we will finish with Jesus. I guess 'last breath' kind of goes without saying when we talk about finishing this particular race. After this race, our next breath will be in Heaven with our Lord. Now that's a finish worth striving for!

Have a great weekend! A 20 sq. mile chunk of ice is headed for Canada; I bet that quite few folks know where all that ice could be put to good use these last few days. Try to find some coolness! Oops again, some of you might take that wrong. I think you're all cool. Try to find a cool place.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Go Get 'em, Son! - July 21, 2011

Good Thursday morning! The heat wave receded a bit for us yesterday. I hope that means relief will spread east and south too. The heat dome that is over much of the nation covers a million square miles. I can't even visualize what an area that size would be. Speaking of big numbers, when Lake McConaughy reached 100 percent the other day, I got my little figurin' pen out and added up how much the reservoir weighs (yes, some days I have too much time on my hands) the number is 2,369,894,452.832 tons. That seems like a whole lotta water to me, but I still have trouble getting my mind around that number. Of course we can start on all the numbers involved in space and... well, we can just make our poor little minds go 'pop'. The lake volume has been coming down since Monday though, I would imagine the evaporation alone must be enormous. And, no, I'm not even going to attempt to put a number on that. Numbers in this world are just too big for us.

We live in this world since birth, growing and learning along the way until we realize one day that we understand so little of the planet we are standing on. Each of us can decide to spend a lifetime trying to know or understand everything about some part of some part of the whole world. A geologist might specialize in some type of rock or formation. A biologist might further specialize into some part of the plant or animal kingdom, but not even the specialists can claim to know all about their chosen field. We know so little, and then listen to those who claim to know so much, and still end up understanding only a little. What's the use of learning then? For one thing, God's creation amazes me more with every small bit I learn about it.

Even in our lifetimes the knowledge of how this world works has increased dramatically, and there is so much more to learn. We read Genesis and we chose to believe that God did exactly as he said he did, but we are not satisfied with that. I don't mean that we cannot be content with the fact that God created this place, but that we have a desire to find out more. When God created the oceans, how exactly did he do that? What makes water work like it does? Why so much salt water? We can even get personal with our wondering. Why does dust make me sneeze? Many other questions might occur to you, but we lack so much understanding of the way everything works with everything else. Yet, we can still look around at the awesome work of the Creator and like King David praise God for his wonderful works. We don't have to know everything to praise God and give him the glory. God gave us the ability to decide whether to curse the part of his Creation that we can sense, or to just step back and say, "Wow!"

Yes, it is more difficult to stop and say that when you are out in the 100ยบ plus heat; other than "Wow, I think I'm melting!" that is. The curse that came upon God's Creation after Adam sinned means that we might have to seek shelter to preserve life under some conditions. However, the world has not stopped turning, the seasons will come in their time, and one day God will tell Jesus, "Go get 'em, Son!" Maybe God will use a more majestic idiom than I do, but however God says it, we will be going home!

Enjoy the day, preferably from a nice cool place!


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Getting Stopped - July 20, 2011

Good morning! Today while reading devotionals from other ministers, I realized one great truth: nothing can stop God. This can be applied to my life and your life by finding the will of God for our lives. If God wants you to go to Poland on a missions trip, nothing and no one on this earth can stop you from going. If God wants a book of mine published, then nothing and no one on this planet can stop that from happening. Sometimes before the clouds break up and we start ascending with Jesus out of the dark valley, we look around and a great storm of fear assails us. Like the strong winds and torrential rain that comes off the back end of many thunderclouds, we must endure this storm of fear and doubt right before the storm passes and the sun breaks through. You might even say this storm is at its worst just before the Son breaks through, for Jesus is with us every step of the way.

Always when some great task comes to the point where my doubt and fear are at their worst is the time when God sends messages of comfort, reassurance, and hope to me from sources that are all around me. Which reminds me of my primary job: giving you encouragement and love as you endure the dark valleys with our Lord. All of us will go through the times of testing and trial that are so difficult to bear. I can even say that these times are impossible for us to bear on our own. Without Jesus, many of us would probably sound the retreat and fly to the hills before the time has come. We know there will come a time in the tribulation when that will happen. The problem is that we are often tempted to take the escape route now... before the time has come. Instead, we must stand strong in our Lord. Not easy? Nope, but imagine that you are standing in front of Jesus with his arms around you. Nothing can make you retreat because the Almighty One is behind you.

We tend to look out at the obstacles and the forces arrayed against us, and we tremble before them. However, we should be looking up to our Lord. Compare the strength and authority of God with those obstacles and enemy forces. Not so scary now, are they?

Have a better day in Christ; rest in his mighty arms!


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Hearty Thank You! - July 19, 2011

Good Tuesday morning! It's so hot that... We can start a book with that line and have everyone fill in the blank with their favorite 'hot' effect. I like the one about the roads buckling down in Oklahoma. Of course the one that goes, "It's so hot that I went to turn on the barbecue, but it had melted!" isn't bad either. Ah yes, the time of the year when grabbing the steering wheel must be done with oven mitts. Welcome to the heat of July! Our heat dried out a lot, which is much easier to bear. I saw a warning yesterday that going east would be "miserable". That's the word they used! Why are y'all so miserable out there? Of course, we know the answer to that one; throw in some humidity with that high heat and you have the recipe for dangerous heat indices. Instead of a question our line is: y'all be careful out there!

Yes, conditions around the nation can certainly remind us that God has not arrived with the new heavens and the new earth just yet. However, that doesn't mean that we put aside our dreams and yearning for our Lord's return! We are heaven bound, but we may be privileged to see Jesus coming in the clouds too. Whether our Lord comes down to get us or we go up to meet him in Heaven is not as important as the fact that we get to be with him! There is more good news: Jesus has sent his own Spirit to be with us and in us until that time. We don't have to endure all of this alone!

On yet another hot day, it is easy to think of all the things we must endure in this life. But is it not better to think of all that we have in this life? We have the Comforter, our Advocate, the Spirit of God to remind us of Jesus our Lord. We have our brothers and sisters in Christ. We have God's providence in all things we need. We have God's promises that never fail. And we have that one great hope for the future: Jesus our risen Lord! During a difficult time or day, it is good for us to remember these things and say a hearty "Thank you!" to God.

For all of us on this hot day... Thank you, dear God and Father!


Monday, July 18, 2011

A Turnaround - July 18, 2011

Good Monday morning! The hot day we had yesterday did dry things out a bit, but hot is still hot and we get some more hot today. I'm am hoping that taking the weekend off will result in better sentences than that last one, but Monday is still Monday and we get some more Monday today. Aaaagh, someone put me out of your misery! "I'm am", what in the world? I turned off the PC on Saturday morning and didn't come back until this morning and now I cannot type or write or any of the other skills that go into this devotional thing. I might suggest that it is time for a vacation, but half of the states (or more) are enduring a heat wave right now. I guess we'll have to plan a trip to Alaska to enjoy a cooling off, perhaps even northern Alaska. All is not bad though, this heat and the drying wind should get the wheat harvest underway at last.

Things don't happen as quickly as we might like in many cases. In the winter we complain that the spring isn't coming soon enough. In the spring we complain that the nice weather doesn't last long enough and the hot summer is coming too soon. Then we complain that the summer is too hot and the fall cooling isn't coming soon enough. In the fall... you get the picture. Of course the problem might not be the speed of certain events but the complaining part. I like to complain, but sometimes I think that I might be just a little too good at it. I think that I should be content in all situations like Paul said, and I think that everlasting gratitude should be on my lips as well. Is all complaining to be avoided all the time?

In the Psalms we don't always find praise and thanksgiving to God. I have found some quite bitter complaining in the psalms, and even some rather harsh questioning of God and his ways. When I read these psalms though there seems to be a pattern. The psalmist will pour out his heart to God, often complaining bitterly and questioning God, but then he will reach a point where his words make a turn. Often the turnaround starts out like, "but you, oh Lord and God, are mighty in your wonderful works..." and then the psalmist will start by recalling God's mighty works for Israel and even in the psalmist's own life. By the end of the psalm, the words are back to praising God.

We tend to complain when we look at our own situation. We recover from the complaining when we look at God. We tend to complain when we tally up our own resources, and we turn to praise when we look at God's providence. We complain when we depend on our own strength, and praise God when we realize His might. Finally, we complain when we look at our lack of control over much of anything in this world, and we can turn to praise and thanksgiving when we put our faith in God and his sovereign will. Yes, it may get hot out today, but I have shelter. I may complain about this or that, but when I pour it out before God, he will comfort me with his Spirit and gently turn my face to see his almighty power and glory. Look up! For our redemption draws near!

Have a wonderful new week in Christ Jesus!


Friday, July 15, 2011

Still in Charge - July 15, 2011

Happy Friday! Woo, was that some thunder last night or what? I felt the house shaking even through my memory foam mattress. Looks like this weekend is going to be a hot one for almost everyone across the nation. Some of you won't notice any difference from the past few days; you already have all the heat you need and then some. The heat out here should get the wheat harvest going at last... if the rains will let up for a bit that is. As I recall, last year's harvest was a lengthy affair with rains coming during the cutting. We may not be done with the big rainstorms yet. Storms and weather, drought and rain, heat and cold... like Daffy Duck, we might be tempted to complain: who's in charge here?

We know from the Word that God is sovereign over all. But we also know that Jesus called Satan the prince of this world, which implies some authority. Looking at the budget fight going on in Washington it obvious that no one person is in charge of our government. Looking at the world in general, it seems that no one nation or organization is in charge of everything. Looking at the economy it would seem that no one is in charge of anything. Even looking at my house I cannot say that I am in charge of much. The cats pretty much do only what they want to do and the house is slowly falling apart around me. Not that my house is in any danger of flopping down flat, but living here each day I get to see the small changes taking place over time. So, if I cannot even control my own pets and house, and our elected officials cannot agree on what is best for the nation, and the world is just in wholesale higgley-piggley; who exactly is running the show?

The Deists back in the day thought that God had created the universe perfectly and then sat back to watch from Heaven. Those who believe in Christ would say that you must ignore a lot to think that God is not active daily in this world. However, if you read the mainstream media, a person with the view that God is distant and not active does find plenty of evidence to support his claim. Then we have this very bold statement from Paul in Romans 8:28

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Wait a minute, what does he mean by ALL things? In the Bible we know that a statement like that means just what it says. Paul had learned that all things work together for our good. This is particularly interesting when you realize that Paul lived in a time of great persecution. The powers of the world, both the visible and the invisible, were trying very hard to stomp out the followers of Jesus before they could spread. The powers did not succeed. The persecution served to scatter believers in Christ from one end of the globe to the other. In our day the Bible is read in more languages than we can easily count. Sermons are heard around the world and even in the most repressive of nations there are followers of Christ.

God may not display his authority and strength in the overwhelming power that we might like, but looking around I would still have to say that God is in charge. Looking around the world news at the murders, wars, rapes, theft, and all that other stuff, it seems hard to say such a thing. But, God's word did say that these things would come and that a time of darkness would precede the final tribulation and Second Coming of Christ. Lawlessness is tough to take when those you love are hurt. Soon, God will show his overwhelming power in seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven vials. The Bible says that some people will know who is executing the judgments and even with that knowledge will refuse to repent. Yes, Jesus is coming soon and God is very much in charge.

Have a great weekend and be mindful of the heat.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Open Wide! - July 14, 2011

Good Thursday morning! Time to practice cooling the house off as best I can. Them nasty ol' weathermen are predicting some awful temperatures starting about Sunday. I guess I can't complain too much, a hefty portion of the country has been suffering triple digit temps for a few days now; we have had it easy up here on the high plains. The big fan is going. Kinda' sounds like an airplane is warming up in my house. Good thing I don't have to speak to the computer to write the devotional.

A verse in a psalm I read this morning during breakfast caught my attention. "Open your mouth wide and I will fill it with good things." God said this to the Israelites, but I like it. Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is a lot of good things to eat. But I can also see another meaning in this: God will give them good things to say. If you have ever watched the young children in their first plays you will notice that one of the things the director will often tell the children during rehearsals is to open their mouths wide. If you can recall back to those days of your own, you may remember the teacher or director pantomiming the wide open mouth thing in front of you while the play was going on. In another context, she would have looked quite silly doing that, but the little actors knew what she was referring to. In the same way, we are called to open our mouths wide to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Now you may open your mouth so to speak by: writing, singing, speaking, preaching, doing simple favors for a neighbor, driving the Senior Handi-bus, volunteering at the Food Bank, or just by living a good example. Whatever method God has put in your heart, open your mouth wide and share the good things God has filled your mouth with. Opening our mouths wide for Christ is called our witness. Opening the mouth wide to gossip is of course called your wit-less. Yuk, yuk... I'll work on the humor stuff.

Have a peaceful day in Christ!


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Learning to Wait on the Lord - July 13, 2011

Good Wet Wednesday morning! The flash flood warning goes for another fifteen minutes, if they haven't extended it that is. We had one wet night. It will be no surprise to you that I dreamed that I was being bombed at one point last night. With all of that thunder and lightning I'm sure that many folks around here had dreams of a similar nature, at least those that got any sleep that is. More good news: the wheat harvest has not been cancelled this year, but it might be kind of late. Of course this morning the fields are all mud anyway.

Some mornings I look into the old inspiration tank and there just isn't anything there. On mornings such as this, the places that put out devotions written by a team of folks seems kind of like a good thing. After all if one writer has nothing, the others can surely find something to write about. However, I also realize that all of our Christian devotionals come from one Spirit. The Spirit of God is not spending extra time with this team of devotions writers over on the West Coast while I languish out here in Nebraska. The East Coast writers don't get an extra dose of inspiration from the Spirit this morning because mine has been taken away. If a fellow down under in that other Sydney is writing a devotional at the same time as I am, the Spirit is not spread too thin. So where is the problem with my inspiration for this morning?

Probably... most likely... there is no problem at all. It could be that God wants me to wait for just a bit this morning. While I am waiting, it could be that God wants me to step up a notch in my trusting in Him. I believe that at the end of this life when God calls each of us home in His own time we will have accomplished that perfect trust in our Lord through the teaching of His own Spirit. Until that time, my trust is sometimes beset with doubts and my faith tends to waver a bit on the journey. God knows that six days each week I sit down in the morning to write the devotional. If I need to wait for a bit for inspiration to come, I know that the wait will not be long.

One of the things that has obstructed all of my writing has been trying to force it. Whether it is in a novel or in a morning's devotional, to try to force the writing to flow has done no good whatsoever. God is teaching me to wait on Him, and I must admit that it is often difficult. I don't know God's timing; the Lord doesn't mark dates on my calendar. Perhaps that is a good thing. The last time God wrote on a wall, disaster struck that very night. Waiting on the Lord is one of the most difficult tasks we have in this Christian life. While we wait, we also learn to trust in God: in His timing, in His providence, and in His wisdom. That is a lot of learning for the former rebels of this sinful world. Enjoy the wait and learn to trust!

Now look at that: all that whining about a lack of inspiration and ta-da.. there is a devotional for this morning. Of course the fifteen minutes I mentioned at the beginning has long passed. That's good news, we don't need another flash flood anyway. Have a great day in Christ!


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Just a Prayer Away - July 12, 2011

Good Tuesday morning! May the joy of the Lord greet you on this fine morning! I have decided to have a fine morning even though the dew point is very near the temperature and the humidity is up making for a day that feels kind of thick and sticky. Each morning we get to make decisions about which attitude to seize the day with. On a Monday it is pretty easy to decide to seize the day with abject crankiness. Many of us have done that on a Monday, especially before the coffee hits our brains. On a Friday, it is much easier to seize the day with an attitude of eager anticipation as the weekend will start that very evening. If you work in a job where there is no regular weekend, you'll just have to use another day. The point is that in the power of Christ we have a choice. Monday does not have to be a bad day. Friday doesn't have to be a good day. Not sure why anyone would want to change Friday to a bad day, but we do have that choice.

You have probably worked with someone who has decided that every day at work is going to be met with crankiness. You may have stopped to wonder why he or she has decided to endure such a terrible thing. The cranky person may be wondering the same thing about you. The circumstances of a particular workplace might be one of oppression and extreme stress. A bright and cheerful demeanor might be strangely out of place in your workplace. What an opportunity to tell others where that joy comes from though!

Circumstances can weigh on our attitude. Not every attitude that isn't bright and cheerful is bad. When coming to the grave of Lazarus, Jesus wept. He may have been weeping for Lazarus trapped in a tomb, or for the unbelief he saw, or for the condition of the world as a whole, or even all three at once. But the Bible tells us that Jesus had an attitude of sorrow at that moment. I believe that Jesus would not expect us to walk into the funeral of a dear friend with a grin and a "praise the Lord!" on our lips. If we know that our dear friend has gone to be with Jesus then we can shout our praises after the grieving over the separation is done. Other circumstances can lead to a mere irritation.

The puppy across the alley has learned the joys of barking. The puppy's tone is quite sharp on the ears. I can decide to not let it bother me, but I may have to close a couple of windows or wear some earplugs to help with that decision. Deciding to have a better attitude about the circumstances does not always change the circumstance. If the circumstance hurts, we will need to find some help with that. I cannot overcome the pain of this world on my own. Some circumstances are overwhelming and deciding to improve my attitude is not possible in that time. Those circumstances are where God really shines in his glory. Of course I cannot handle all that the fallen world can throw at me! Sometimes God lets a circumstance roll on over me so that I will remember my Savior and God in prayer and supplication. It is with that prayer in that trying time that I have found my attitude comforted in sudden and wonderful ways far beyond my own ability to manufacture. Praise God for his comfort!

Praise God that He is only a prayer away!


Monday, July 11, 2011

Pour Out Your Heart - July 11, 2011

Good and warm Monday morning! Oops, this morning's broadcast has been preempted by a paw. A small paw attached to a beast that wants some attention. Don't you just wish that whenever you want some attention from God that you could just reach out a little hand and grab him? I find it interesting that when we want God's full attention, we put our hands together in prayer. We don't try to grab, that is disrespectful. We expect it of the dumb beasts, but when we come before God we bow the head and put the hands together. Of course that is all rather short sighted, don't you think? God is not looking away from us just because we aren't kneeling with our hands together and our heads bowed. God is not haughty in the way of human rulers demanding certain positions from their supplicants. We can pray at any time and in fact are told to pray constantly. We don't have to reach out a hand when we can simply lift up our hearts.

This morning at breakfast I read one of Asaph's psalms. In this psalm, Asaph once again hit it right on the button. The questions we often ask during an anxious night are already answered in the Bible, but we ask them in our fear. We know in our minds that God has not gone away and that He will act in his own perfect time. However, our hearts cry out in distress and sometimes we ask those questions of God that He has already answered in His Word. Thousands of years ago, Asaph did the same thing and recorded it in a psalm for us to read. Actually he and his descendants wrote down many psalms and I am glad that we have them to read today. Knowing that another person way back in what we call ancient times had similar thoughts and asked the same questions of God that we do during times of fear is a great comfort to me. Why is that?

In reading the psalm, I don't see that God gave a verbal answer to Asaph right there during his anxious night. Yet later in the psalm, Asaph is praising the Lord. What changed his mind? He resolved to remember God's deeds of old. We can do the same thing. We have an entire Bible full of the wonderful and glorious deeds of God: including the birth and life of His own Son. We can read where others asked God tough and even what seems in the light of the day to be disrespectful questions. Where have you gone, Lord? That might seem to be disrespectful in the calm morning with a good breakfast in the belly, but during the cold night while the wind is howling and the shadows are jumping, we might just burst out with that very question. In that moment of stress we are not disrespectful, we earnestly want to hear from the Lord in that moment!

Don't be afraid to ask God whatever comes to your mind in a moment of stress. It is never wrong to pour out our hearts to God. In fact, maybe we should be doing that more often!


Saturday, July 09, 2011

A Sticker to Remind Us - July 9, 2011

Good Saturday morning! Hmm, I was just wondering if the wheat harvest had started yet. I suppose I had better go get my mail and see what the papers say. Ah, July: the month where summer gets going with a blast of heat. The days are long and the nights short. By 0700 a person must be cognizant of the sun and its effects. Mornings are warm and evenings warmer still, and just forget about mid-afternoon. And, the month where the blood-sucking mosquitoes finally have the numbers to seriously threaten both man and beast. If not a threat to life and limb, they certainly are a threat to comfort and sanity.

The little things we suffer in this life are not the way things are supposed to be. Once upon a time: the beasts and birds and fish didn't eat each other. A couple of people living in a garden didn't eat flesh or flee from lions. Serpents didn't have a venomous bite, but one had venom on his tongue. We know quite well that things changed when Adam and Eve were tossed from Eden. We look around us now and beasts bite, scratch, and claw. Serpent bites can be life threatening, even when they don't talk to us, and any number of plants are toxic to eat or touch. We just don't live in a garden these days. If you tend to your garden, you also know that thorns really like to grow. As with the mosquitoes, we wage a constant physical and chemical war on these things. In so many ways, the earth doesn't seem to like us anymore.

I don't have much of a flower garden, but every time I go out to wage war on the weeds, I notice that God wasn't kidding Adam about the thorns. Many of the weeds have some sort of sharp pointy part to stick an guarded hand or finger. Getting stuck may hurt, but I like to think of it as a reminder that Genesis is for real and the Bible is the truth. I might blurt out a caustic comment first, but I am still reminded.

Praise the name of Jesus: the Way, the Truth and the Life!


Friday, July 08, 2011

Get Guidance at the Start! - July 8, 2011

Good Friday morning! The day is here already? Monday must have been a holiday for us to be at Friday already. My front door has been a busy place as of late. Sales reps and estimators for roofs and siding come by almost daily. I'm making a pile of estimates on the kitchen table. When I think I have enough, I'll pray over them and ask for God's guidance. Ack! What about God's help to determine when I have enough and which contractor to call? What if the one God wanted is not even in the pile because I haven't asked for his guidance? I often catch myself in this way: I think for some reason that I have enough intellect or wisdom or whatever to decide some issue up to a certain point, and then I will call God in when the going gets tough. I don't seem to recall anywhere in the Bible that states that anyone must wait until he is stuck in it up to his neck to call upon the Lord.

To be a bit graphic this morning. If a person sets out to commit adultery, and he or she is in the bedroom with the other person, and the clothes are off, and the sexual excitement is flowing...and you can see that it might already be too late to call upon the Lord at that point. Not that the Lord could not stop the sin in its tracks, and by that point it is sin as we know from the words of Jesus, but by that point the sinners are too far gone in their passion to listen to the Spirit. The two sinners needed to call upon the Lord for guidance when those first temptations appeared, far before the bedroom scene had arrived. We like to think "I got this" right up to the point that we have already fallen into that pit of sin.

You can imagine that the Devil likes it when we go out strong in our own strength forgetting to call upon the Lord right from the start each and every day. If you pay attention, you can even feel that little tug on the feet as the rug is about to go flying out from under those same strong feet, sending all of us who are strong in our own strength crashing down once more. At least when we fall we end up in the right position to look up to God; the one whom we should have been looking to from the start.

This morning, I am not strong in my own strength, or wise in my own wisdom. My own effort with only my own ability accomplishes nothing. However, my effort given to God for His purposes accomplishes much. Like the boy's lunch in John that fed so many our sacrifice to God will go far if we will submit to God's will right from the start. We must call upon the Lord when things seem to be under control, because once the situation is beyond our control the Lord may just wait until we have fallen completely. It isn't that the Lord cannot pull us out at that point, only that when we are in it up to our necks we might feel all warm and cozy in the muck of sin. A false feeling it is, but we have all been there before.

Grace and peace to you in our Lord Jesus Christ!


Prayer Request!
Mission to the Congo! After many references in my devotional, Burt has felt the call. He only missed by a continent or so. The missions team is actually going to Poland this time. Take a moment each day to pray for the spreading of the Good News of Christ in Poland.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Fishin' for a Skritchin' - July 7, 2011

Good Thursday morning! Foggy day out, eh? Believe it or don't, the sky was clear at about 0430 or so. The puppies out back even said so, or perhaps they were whining because the fog was coming in already. Want to jump through some hoops? I have a manufacturer's rebate before me with three conditions that I must fulfill; including one with two sub-conditions. The process also takes more than a year and I had to get the initial coupon and sign up for the offer online last summer. The purchase that has the rebate attached came this summer and now I must make the submission for the rebate within 60 days... and then wait 8 -10 weeks for the card with the money on it to show up. Beneath all of that is a note to make copies of all materials in case I must submit the copies. I'm sure that at least a few people who are qualified for the rebate will simply put it aside as not worth the effort. That as we all know is exactly the idea behind the rebate process. And since we still see these rebate programs every year, I will have to assume that the hoop-jumping works enough to make it worth their time. Then 'they', that group of companies and consultants behind the rebate thing, run into me. I will persevere because Jesus is teaching me to be steadfast and enduring.

What? You mean the fruit of the Spirit is not just a tough ladder to climb in order to make me a better Christian? Some obstacle that God has put in my way leaning against a tall cliff with a sign that says, "This way to Jesus!"? You mean to say that there are actual benefits to me in learning and growing in Christ? Yes, sir! Although most of the benefits are not going to be material or cash benefits, we do realize benefits from growing to be more like Christ. God is already perfect, obviously growing me to produce more spiritual fruit is not going to improve God in any way. Jesus has already died and rose again to a new life at the right hand of God. My growth in the Spirit will not improve Jesus either; no work left to be done there (not that any was needed in the first place). However, my growth in the fruits of the Spirit will improve me and those all around me.

For example: Jesus told us to do unto others as each of us would have the others do to him or her. We don't expect those who haven't surrendered to Christ to behave in this way. But, when we go out of our way to show the fruits of the Spirit that God has grown in us, we will reap in kind from our friends and neighbors who are still stuck in the "I'll be nice to him if he is nice to me" kind of thinking. However we may occasionally be caught in the fishin'-for-a-skritchin' pose like the cat here. That is the pose where we give out hints that we want something from someone. That's okay too, but maybe we can look around and see a neighbor's need first.

Have a wonderful new day in Christ. To God be the glory!


Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Serving Justice - July 6, 2011

Good Wednesday morning! Twelve people much like you and me are gathered together and told to listen as lawyers present evidence and argument. Witnesses are questioned on the stand and under oath. The twelve people agree the defendant is not guilty of murder. The outrage on the Internet and talk shows begins. We had a similar problem here in Sidney when a man was convicted, but not sent to prison some years ago. However, that was a conviction, the outrage may be well placed. In the big case yesterday the verdict came back as not guilty. In many cases it seems that the court of public opinion did not wait for a verdict from the court of law. That happens a lot too. At times, the court of public opinion could be correct. However, it is so hard to know the truth in this world. We may never know the truth about who committed many crimes, or if those convicted of some crimes were guilty at all. But, there is something that we do know. One day, God will bring his justice to the great white throne. Jesus will be there. And this time God's own justice will be given first priority.

Sorry, there is a bird convention going on outside at the pond. My thoughts are being drowned out.

Okay, on with the show. As we gather for the great judgment at the end, we may find out a lot of things that will be surprising. When the books are opened, a lot of secrets will no longer be secret. What we do know is that justice will triumph on that day. Crimes that may seem to go unpunished in this life will not escape God's judgment. On the other hand, I wonder that some who paid for crimes they did not commit with years of imprisonment may not be given justice as well. Justice may be best served in some cases by something other than a punishment. I don't know, that will be decided by God and He knows the truth in all cases.

With our knowledge of the many times when it seems that justice has been fooled, or set aside, or levied punishment on the wrong person in this world, it is a comfort to know that one day the One who knows all truth will make the decision and execute judgment. In the high-profile cases reported and discussed in our media, you and I may not agree with the verdicts handed down every time. One day one of us may serve on one of those juries and feel the pressure of a verdict that could end a life, or not, and cause the press to appear with a million questions afterward. Try to remember in the stress of the moment that Jesus sent you and me a counselor. The Spirit is there in us, and for us, at all times. We don't have to wait for the end times to call upon our Advocate either. Bring your cares and worries to Jesus now. Have to make a tough decision? Bring it to the one who knows all truth.

Have a day with our great and awesome God!


Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Beautiful In You - July 5, 2011

Good Tuesday morning! Praise the Lord, most of the fireworks stuff should be finished for another year. Last night I watched out a window at the fireworks exploding in front of a thunder cloud to the north of town. Behind all the pretty bursts of the fireworks was God's own fireworks show. Lightning when viewed from a safe distance and shelter is wonderful to behold. God's fireworks are much more impressive than our little bursts of flame and smoke. Those little bursts of energy do have a certain fleeting beauty to them. In imitation of our Creator, we try to create lovely and beautiful things. If even those who do not believe in Christ try to create beauty in this world, is there something within us that is beautiful?

I cannot imagine the Lord Jesus dying for ugly. Of course, I speak not of any person's physical appearance or our media-influenced standards of what is attractive in a face or body. When you or I think of beauty our first glance might be toward a mirror where we accept or reject our own appearance as beautiful or not quite what we would like to see based upon standards made up by comparison with other persons. Jesus must have looked at some other standard when he died to save the beautiful creations he saw from the cross. Sin is ugly and all of us were born into that rebellious state of ugly sin. I simply cannot grasp that the Son of God would die to save that. However, if Jesus looked out from the cross and saw the beauty of redeemed and sanctified humans, his own creations as all that God would have us to be, then yes, obviously our Lord saw something worth saving.

If you don't feel beautiful this morning - and thanks to our sleep-deprived state from days of fireworks explosions, I'm guessing we will not this morning at least - you may want to ask Jesus to show you his view. At the moment, his view might not look too good either if we were to see our own sin stains. However, God's own view includes what each of us will become in Christ as we enter into his sanctification one glorious day. I believe that is a sight worth seeing, but we can't quite go there yet. Granted a view of our eternal state in Christ, each of us might become of no further use to God on this earth. Yes, you will one day be sanctified and made that beautiful: a reflection of the very image and glory of Christ. We might just have a little bit of trouble believing that right now, but trust in God to show you the way.

In my examination of myself, I am comforted to know that God does see a creation worth saving. How dreadful to be caught up in believing that I might be nothing more than some cosmic accident in a long chain of trail and error that came from some other accidental confluence of theoretical factors. How could such a thing be worth saving? On the other hand, to look to God as the beautiful and awesome and wonderful Creator of all of us, and to know by faith that I am saved in Christ, God's own Son, is a beautiful thing. I do believe that I will hold onto that bit of knowledge today and cherish the Savior who loves me.

God bless you on this new day in Christ,


Friday, July 01, 2011

Jesus Can! - July 1, 2011

Good Friday morning! The fireworks season often makes me think of all the wrong things... so we'll move on from that. Have you ever tried to make excuses for another person's sin? The excuse usually starts off with something like: well, he/she/they was/were probably... and then we insert some excuse for that person. We want to think that everyone is a good person underneath and that given another chance the other guy won't sin again. At least we sincerely hope so because that would mean that we have a chance under the ol' human goodness to save ourselves. Unfortunately, when we look at God's word a few contrary verses come to mind. You probably recall hearing verses like: They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. (Psalm 14:3) For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

I don't like those verses. They all include me in the wrong way. I want to be good and fair and just and honest deep down underneath. It is circumstances that make me sin, not my heart or least of all me, myself and I. Sorry, I can only blame the way I am from the start: corrupted by sin through and through. And we know that we have no way to save ourselves. Why else do we write, talk, sing and tell of the salvation of Christ? You and I may not like hearing Paul tell us the straight and unblemished truth about our condition in Romans, but only by realizing that condition fully can we seize upon the many more verses that speak of salvation, forgiveness, grace, and God's great love for us.

A person who loves the darkness and the wickedness in his heart will never see the light in John 3:16. A person loving her lost condition will not look for the Way found in John 14:6. When the Spirit came into my life, I didn't start liking Romans 3:23, but I did agree with with it. List the ten commandments of God and I can look back at the old life and cite examples of how I violated every one of them. Of course I didn't actually murder any person, and neither did most folks, but we also know what Jesus had to say about harboring hatred or anger in our hearts. It only takes a wrong thought or two and we can be stamped guilty. But then comes the good news.

Not one of us can save ourselves or each other, but Jesus can save us all! Jesus has the right to save us because he paid the penalty for our sins. I may have started out completely wicked and sinful, but Jesus can cleanse me and declare me righteous. What is impossible for me is possible with God; to paraphrase Jesus in a personal way. And since Jesus made the perfect sacrifice there is nothing that you or I have done that can prevent Jesus from saving us from the first moment we ask him. All any of us need is that moment when we set aside the pride that says, "I can save me!" and take the time to hear the Master say, "Your sin is great, but my sacrifice was sufficient. I can save you!"

Now that's some good news! Enjoy the Independence Day weekend!