Friday, September 30, 2011

Good Friday morning! What a great movie last night! I need to see that one again sometime. In case you haven't seen "Flywheel" you may want to give it a go when you have the chance. Praise God for bringing us together last night. If anyone needs a taco today, I can fix you up with a few of them before the Octoberfest begins. I wanted to make sure that we had enough to eat, so I kind of... Well, we did and then some! Did you ever think that God might do more than meet your needs? I get in the habit of doubting God when I should be faithful and proclaim His providence to myself constantly. Yes, I do mean to myself. We need to get in the Word and let it remind us that God loves us and waits to do more than just the bare minimum. I'm not saying that every Christian is going to be showered with tons of loot simply for asking, but we should expect God to act like God does in the Bible. God didn't send the Israelites to look at a spot in the desert wastes when He brought them out of Egypt; He sent them to look at a land flowing with milk and honey. They got to look at the desert wastes only after failing to believe in God's promise. Jesus didn't just heal the blind man's eyes to the point where he still needed thick glasses, the man could see so well that he believed in Jesus when the religious leaders did not. God can do much more than we expect, if we will take the time and make the effort to trust in Him completely. Have a great weekend! Bucky

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Faith in the Almighty - September 28, 2011

Good Wednesday morning! Well, late again, but Windows is up and running for the moment. Computers and their software can be a real test of our faith and patience. Perhaps God allowed them to be invented just for that very purpose. I thought that I had left IT work behind me, but that appears to not be the case at times. Now to switch from frustration with a machine to writing about encouragement for people.

My need for Jesus often comes into a sharper focus during times when I must not only switch gears in a manner of speaking, but change direction as well. In this world, I want to gnash my teeth and snarl at certain manufacturers of computer software and hardware. In Christ, I need to change to writing something encouraging to help you make it through another difficult day, especially for those up on the hill at Big Corporate. Alone, I am afraid that I would never make the switch. I need the Spirit to guide me and comfort me in order to set aside the problems and concentrate on the Savior.

Problems in life and work seem to pile up to form mountains in front of us. In business, the company will put you through courses with very uplifting slogans about going over the mountain or figuring ways around it. What we really need is to say to the mountain, "Git!" and have it moved out of our way. Hmmm, that seems to remind me of something from the Bible! To make that work, we need faith in an Almighty God. I am not going to be able to lift and throw a mountain no matter how many times I say 'git' or 'move'. Faith in God on the other hand can move those very mountains from my way. It isn't a matter of tallying up my own strength, we know that will be insufficient. I need to believe in God's strength and keep my faith centered on the one who created the very mountains of this earth. A mountain of problems is as nothing to our God. The mountain we fear will stop us forever may be gone with the morning mist.

Take comfort in an Almighty God!


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Irritable - September 27, 2011

Good Tuesday morning! It is now well past 0900 and I have a browser screen and access to my e-mail. How important e-mail has become to us! And how important is the device that delivers that e-mail? On most days I tend to take the device for granted, but on days such as today - it becomes an errant beast given to biting and scratching the hands that type on it. Fortunately, I don't have to love my personal computer, otherwise I couldn't exercise my irritability toward it. What if that computing machine were a person serving me?

Then the entire situation would be different. We are called to love one another. There is no exception for position relative to each other in life, only the command to love one another. We are also informed in Corinthians that love is not irritable. So if this machine were instead a person taking dictation for me, I could not get irritated at mistakes he might make without asking his forgiveness and forgiving him, and then asking forgiveness of God for disobeying His Word. How important then are the relationships we have with others? Very important - as important as our relationship with God is. Jesus gave us two commandments when asked by the religious leaders what the most important commandment was.

No doubt those religious experts were hoping that Jesus would pick one of the ten commandments so that they could have a big doctrinal beat down. However, the Son of God told us to love God with all of our heart, spirit, mind, and body. And equally as important - to love the other person as we love ourselves. Machines in this life will get us upset, to say the least, at times. People may upset us far worse than machines, but we are to stomp on those feelings that rise up and learn to love one another. Not feeling too loving toward someone today? I have a suspicion that you are handling it much better than you would have before giving your life to Jesus. We are far from perfected at this point in our journey to sanctification in Christ, but you may not realize how far you have come from what you were in the world.

God bless you this morning.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Not Far Away at All - September 26, 2011

Good Monday morning! The PC has already booted 3 times today, so we'll see if I can sneak in the devotional writing. Sometimes things are not quite right with something. It could be very obvious like my PC thing, or it could be more subtle like a feeling that seems to have no definite fact or grounding to explain the cause. With machines we usually have no difficulty in seeing that something is wrong, even if the exact cause may not be that easy to nail down. With persons we may have a bit more difficulty. Is it the other person or is it me? When examining our feelings about our relationship with God we can have more difficulty still. However, the last one should not be as difficult as we make it.

We should all beware of basing our estimation of our spiritual condition based on our feelings. God caused His Word to be printed so that we can come back to it many times. Feel that something is wrong between you and God? Read the Law; have you avoided all sin and kept every rule? Nope, not one of us has. That cannot be the reason for God would have no right relationship with any of us. However, you may have unconfessed sin in your life that is getting in the way of your prayer. Not that God would hold up His mighty hand to block your requests, but that like Adam and Eve we might be hiding from our Lord because of that sin. In the end, you may feel out of sorts with God simply because you are looking to your feelings as a guide.

We know, and we have been reminded, and we know, and we know more, and we know further still that feelings are not a good guide... but we still at times think that God must not be listening to us because we don't feel quite right. Ten minutes later we may feel just fine. How could God be far away in the first place? God is omnipresent. He knows all things and is all powerful. No one can keep Him away from you or me. God places His own Holy Spirit within us at salvation. So how could God ever be far away from us? Yet, we feel far away, lost, not paid attention to, and other lonely things even though Jesus promised that He would never leave us nor forsake us. Paul reminded us, "The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing!"

Hmm, it seems that what the Bible has to say about God's closeness to me is nothing at all like my feelings at times. Exactly! We know there is never anything wrong with God. A sin in my life may cause me to feel far away from God, and should be fixed with confession and a request of mercy and forgiveness. But God is never far away from us! You and I need never fear that God has turned away. Praise the Lord for a close relationship with our God and Father!

Have a great new week in Christ!


Friday, September 23, 2011

Slow it Down a Bit - September 23, 2011

Good Friday morning! Ah, the flavor of coffee in the morning! I notice that CNBC has a special news report on coffee addiction coming up this next week. I may have to see if that includes decaf or if it is more of a caffeine thing. I wonder if I can raise coffee bushes in my back yard. Does coffee grow on trees or bushes? Actually, I made need further research before I try to grow a coffee bean. I'll bet the roasted ones don't grow into anything but cups. Now if I could invent the coffee tree that sprouts hot cups of coffee each morning I would really be on to something! Ah, always the shortcut.

A lot of work goes into a cup of coffee. God created the earth and the coffee plant; the days of sunshine and the right temperature; the best altitude and moisture, and all the other conditions that go into producing the raw coffee beans. A farmer raises the trees or bushes, harvests the beans, and a buyer will choose the beans he or she wants. A lot of folks will be involved in shipping the crop to the United States and getting it to the roasting place. (I wonder what it smells like to work there?) Then more folks to ship the roasted beans to me out here in Nebraska. Only then do I get to do my bit to get the coffee ready. Yet, I want a shortcut by having a tree that grows cups of coffee.

In many ways we long for short cuts. However, often a short cut to something doesn't produce the same results. We look at a tough day ahead and tell the Lord that today would be a good day for the Rapture. We wonder when someone will invent a machine that takes the raw materials from the grocery store and then produces a seven-course meal without the slightest effort on our part. At times that last may sound pretty good, but cooking is an art and a joy for many of us. One of the big turnoffs to working in a restaurant is the hurry-hurry, rush-rush part of cooking. Perhaps one of the problems with the economy is that we have lost the art of taking our time. We have learned too many short cuts so to speak. Waiting on the Lord has become against our very nature it seems.

Perhaps you don't need to go to all those places tomorrow. Maybe I can slow down and read a book today. All of us may find a better answer by bringing our questions about this life to the Lord. Beware! He may not answer immediately.

Have a great weekend!


Thursday, September 22, 2011

It WILL Arrive - September 22, 2011

Good Thursday morning! I saw frost on some roofs this morning! That means autumn cannot be far away. Whatever the calendar may say, it would appear that autumn will not be with us this weekend if the weather prognosticators are correct. Some nut was predicting a high of near 90 on Sunday, though they may have changed that by now. Let me check the website here... Oops, my bad, that prediction is on for Saturday now. Apparently they haven't caught the nut yet. That may seem like good news for the Farmer's Day celebration in Kimball, but 89 or 90 is a bit too much good news for later in September.

Does the Bible contain any predictions that are too much of a good thing? I guess in a way you could say yes to that. Exactly how long is eternity? And I'm not talking about that last class of the school day or the time it takes for 1700 to arrive on a Friday. On the other hand, if I could get my mind around eternity in Heaven, then perhaps the good news would not be good enough for the Bible. If Jesus could make us understand a finite number of years or eons that we would be in Heaven, then we would always have that little floater back there saying, "It's gonna end!" And you can bet the devil would use that to no end!

Praise God that eternity is safe with Him. We don't have to understand the length or breadth of eternity with Jesus in Heaven. We can be comforted just by looking up in hope to see that eternity arriving in the clouds of glory. Like that last hour of the work day before a big vacation, the hour of the glory of the Second Coming will arrive one great day. We cannot rush its arrival or hurry the coming of our Lord. We can't wish the Rapture here faster or escape our allotted time on this earth. However, we can take our faith, dust if off, polish it up a little and put it out in front for all to see: Jesus is coming again!

Have a wonderful day in Christ Jesus!


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Treasure Chest of Word! - September 21, 2011

Good Wednesday morning! Ah, yes! The first Bible study of the season has arrived... or at least it will tonight. What has happened to the men over the summer? Will the pastor have to point out the more obscure books like Matthew, Genesis, and Revelation for us to find? The summer was long; will some of us need help with the big words near the front like 'holy' and 'bible'? After a long layoff, any of us can feel a little dull, like our sharpened edge has flattened just a bit over the months away from the group. We might even forget our own names when that first quiz paper arrives!

In my daily life I have found the Bible to have real sticking power in my mind. However, questions like, "What was the last lesson about way back in May or April?" might find me in some difficulty. Come to think of it, I'm not sure that I have a Bible in the truck right now. On the other hand, taking time off from something can indeed make the thirst greater. If you don't believe me, try taking a couple of days off from drinking liquids. We'll see how much greater your thirst is then! Just kidding; please don't do something silly like that.

We have heard the old saying, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder". But that doesn't work well in Bible study for everyone. If you believe in Jesus and the Spirit resides within you, then yes, you will feel a need grow greater from not studying the scriptures. However, for those who do not believe, walking away from the Bible can have dire consequences. Even for the believer it is not good to spend very much time away from our daily Bible study and reflection. The Holy Spirit does write God's Word on our hearts and He does remind us, but there is more to be written! If you were in need of money and you stumbled over a treasure chest mostly buried in the sand, would you take only a coin or two and then stop, thinking, "I need much more, but this stuff is a burden to carry!" Of course not! You would take what you needed and then have to fight off the greedy urge to try taking what you didn't need as well, and then even some more after that. We are not to feel greedy for money, but when you open your Bible feel free to get greedy for the Word!

That analogy isn't completely out of bounds. The Word does place a burden on our hearts. As we take from the treasure of God's Word, we find a burden for praying for others growing on our hearts. We may find a burden for doing good works. A burden for the suffering of others and of our own trials may appear in our hearts. We may even study the prophecies and find that the future is a tough burden to carry. Like a disease or injury getting worse before the healing is done, the world is going to suffer much before Jesus makes it all new again. That knowledge is a burden for us to carry. Praise God that you and I do not have to carry that burden alone! If we go back to the treasure example, imagine Jesus showing up with a hand cart just as you realize the chest is too heavy for you to carry alone. Well, now the burden is indeed light!

Praise God for His wonderful Word!


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Rooted in Fear - September 20, 2011

Good Tuesday morning! Okay, think about a nice phobia. Perhaps you only have some run-of-the-mill fears in your life, no real phobias, so choose one of them instead. Put yourself in an imaginary situation where you have to face that fear. Let's say you have to climb a tower or descend into a dark cave. At the moment, you can think of no good reason to face this fear. There is nothing but air, lots and lots of air space, at the top of the tower. And there is nothing but lots of darkness at the bottom of the cave. Even with someone volunteering to help you, you cannot figure out a good enough reason to immerse yourself in this fearful situation. Now, suppose that someone has assured you that at the top of the tower or at the bottom of this cave is the entrance to Heaven. Suddenly, the reason is not just good, but the best! Let someone step in the way and just try to keep us from charging full speed up the tower or down into that dreadful darkness.

When we face our fears in this life, we tend to see our death at the end of the line. Naturally, that makes us breath fast, tremble, and get the old heart rate right up there. The body does not like the thought of its own demise. We may have trouble even moving forward for all the conflicting thoughts, emotions, and physical reactions going on as we face the darkness of that fear. However, the message of Christ is true. Somewhere, at the end of all those trials and temptations we gaze upon in fear is the entrance to Heaven and Christ is waiting there for us. But that isn't all. Christ is also walking that pathway with us.

This is not some magic thing that we need to try to figure out, but a provision of God that we simply accept. Jesus awaits us in Heaven and He is with us always. As we tremble in fear at all the dark possibilities that we may or may not encounter along that narrow path, we should gaze at our Savior and know that one possibility is a sure thing: Jesus will lead us to Heaven.

The path of this life may seem dark or limitless depending upon how each of us views the unknown. But to Jesus there is nothing unknown. The path He leads His sheep on does not end in a pit or at the brink of a vast space. Jesus will bring all of us home to be with Him forever. We cannot see very far along this path; our vision ahead is cloudy and full of guesses. But our Guide and Shepherd is not fooled by the world and its fears. Take the next step. Jesus will not force our trembling feet to walk, but does wait for us to get moving again when fear has us rooted to the ground.

Praise the name of Jesus!


Monday, September 19, 2011

A New Season? - September 19, 2011

Good Monday morning! 3 weeks ago today I didn't welcome the morning sun quite as much as I do today. The mornings were still warm and the days even worse. Now, I go outside with a jacket and the morning sun helps to warm up the house. That change has happened within less than 3 weeks. Imagine what changes will happen in another 3 weeks. Bear in mind that I'm not asking you to worry about what happens, just imagine for a bit. Actually, our respective imaginations may not even be close when it comes to what happens by or at that time. For all we know the sun might start heading back north and the arrival of autumn will be cancelled for this year. Unlikely I'll admit, but you and I could not positively guarantee it. On the other hand, God could grab any handy prophet and let us know exactly what is going to happen exactly 3 weeks from today, or even for every day in between.

God did this often in the Old Testament days, and yet many chose not to believe the Word of God. With the advantage of reading God's Bible given to us over the centuries, we can look back at them and call them fools. The ancient people of Jerusalem laughed at Jeremiah when he warned them of the coming invasion. They laughed again when Jesus told them that the temple would be destroyed. Both times we laugh grimly at those old-timey folks and perhaps forget to wonder what we might be laughing at or ignoring today.

Perhaps God has put it on your heart to be a dancer, but your shape and physical stamina at the moment is one more suited to watching dancers on television. Certainly you may be right in doubting yourself at this moment, but do you also doubt God's ability to make you into a dancer? Be careful of saying, "I'm too old!" God gave us an example of that way back in the first book of the Bible. Today, I am wondering myself what prophecy or promise from God that I may be slow in seeing the fulfillment of simply because I haven't listened and rose up from the watching position.

There is a certain inertia or unwillingness to move when we get comfortable in our watching place. God has provided for us and while the cupboard is full we might be just a little slow in getting to it. While we should never be driven by worry, the comfort of the moment may not be well deserved from hard work either. Times of rest will come for us, as will seasons of change, days of work, and times of trial. Praise God for the new days that remind us to get up and get moving on the Lord's plan for each of us. A new season arrives on the calendar on Friday. It just may be time for a new season to arrive in your life or my life this week too!

Praise God our Father and Provider!


Friday, September 16, 2011

My Bible - September 16, 2011

Good Friday morning! What are some good things about my Bible that I am thankful for today? My Bible does not need to reboot for no apparent reason. My Bible is not shut down by a power outage. While I have plenty of bibles throughout the home, I can never seem to get enough of God's Word. My Bible contains the words of life. My Bible has words of comfort for me. Though it was written in 66 parts starting at about 2,000 years ago and going back at least another 1,000 years, my Bible is complete and inspired by God. My Bible not only tells the truth, but tells the story of the Way, the Truth, and the Life. My Bible tells me of our history and how this world began. My Bible also tells me of times to come and how this world will end. My Bible tells me of people very much like me; who faced enormous difficulties and dreadful losses for Christ. My Bible also tells me of those to whom God gave great victories, and there is no reason to think that I cannot be much like those people too through faith and trust in my Lord.

Of course 'my' Bible is not really mine except that I have a copy or two of God's Word. The Bible becomes mine through study, prayer, meditation, and the work of the Holy Spirit. Having been born about 1900 years too late, I did not write any of the Bible, but I and my fellow believers get to write and live that next chapter called The Church. We call ourselves by many different names, speak many different languages, and even argue about many different points of doctrine. However, if we believe in Jesus Christ then we share one Lord, one God, one Holy Spirit, and one salvation. Every congregation includes those folks who believe in God's Word just as it is, and a few who want to tweak it a bit. Every congregation will have mostly the same opinion on how a worship service should be carried out and the spiritual state of those who didn't make it there that week. We as the Church have different opinions on what must be done to prove our faith in Christ. But God gave His Word to all who will listen as it is read to them; learn as he reads it; apply it to life as she studies it; and grow closer to God as we share it in His love.

The Bible: the Word of God, and a wonderful book to read too!


Thursday, September 15, 2011

God's Gems - September 15, 2011

Good Thursday morning! There is something wonderful and something gained in the precious Word of God! In this life we feel the urge to look for the hidden treasure. People comb beaches after a storm, walk parks with metal detectors, take off for the hills to pan for gold, and search yard sales trying to find that hidden or overlooked treasure. At times we may find success in these things, but as any veteran yard sale-or will tell you we will have to look through a ton or two of junk before we find any treasure. One place we are guaranteed to find hidden treasure is in the Word of God.

The Bible starts off with a treasure you are familiar with: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth. Gems are hidden throughout the 66 books of text. Not that all scripture is not valuable to each of us, but that each of us will see a brighter light in some verses because of the uniqueness God put into his creations. Your experiences in this life have been different from mine. The verse that speaks loudly to me, may not mean as much to you. However, both of us are guaranteed to find what we seek in God's Word!

Once, I tried to hold up the lengthy genealogies in the Bible as an example of scripture that may not have the value of some other verses. And to me a verse like John 3:16 is more of an eye opener than some of those 'begot' verses. As I was reading a book on the history of the westward expansion of the United States, I came to the story of Independence Rock. This rock is a place, a pile of rocks, that marks the point on the Oregon Trail where pioneers hoped, well, actually needed, to be in order to make it over the mountains before winter closed the high passes of the Rockies. To mark the point, someone carved his or her name into the soft sandstone and others followed suit until an extensive record of names has been left there. Now why do you think people would travel out there today to see the names of people long past? Right, to see if they can spot one that has a connection to themselves. Suddenly one reason for all those begats and begots becomes clear to me. Someone working their family line back from this end might even make a distant connection to a genealogy in the Bible; now wouldn't that be special!

You have the urge to seek treasure within you. Let the Holy Spirit direct you to the one place you are sure to find some gems, the Word of God.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Choice in the Night - September 14, 2011

Good Wednesday morning! You have probably never in your life rolled over in your bed in the morning and wished that you didn't have to get up on any particular day. Heh, heh, yeah right! The fact that I write it down will not make that true for any of us. Even the most optimistic and cheerful of disposition among us will find some days that a bit more sleep in bed might feel a lot better than getting up. After all we spend the night working to get comfortable and some nights only achieve that comfort right near the very end. Life is very like one night in bed.

The first bit is great as we feel sleepy and the bed feels nice after the toil of the day. Often that first bit of sleep is the best of the night. We sleep like a baby so to speak. Later, the sleep becomes lighter and the dreams start up. We may awaken several times to good dreams or awful nightmares. Aches and pains, unnoticed in the first deep sleep may suddenly bother us. Tossing and turning may follow as we reach the time of worry and fear. In the darkest part of the night, we can choose to trust our lives to Christ or to continue to go it alone. What we choose in the midst of life will determine the morning we wake up to.

Those who choose to reject or ignore Jesus will wake up to a grim darkness unlike and worse than any they have ever experienced. Those of us who have chosen to place our faith and our very lives in Christ will wake up to the light of God. Like the morning of a new day in this life, we may look back briefly and think on how quick the journey was from the short day that was our time in this world to the new morning with Jesus in Heaven. Our time of striving in the day and tossing in the night is so short when set against eternity, and yet it seems so long to us at times while we are here.

When we think of the prophetic events in the Bible that are still to come they may seem impossibly remote. The time that Jesus walked the area around Galilee seems equally far off in the past to us. Yet both are so very close in God's view that we are told to be ever alert and watchful as a sentry on guard duty. For us the morning will soon arrive. Not an unwelcome morning like that one that came after a night that seemed too short or too long, but a welcome morning that brings renewal and strengthening as only Jesus can give for all eternity.

To God be the glory!


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Light - September 13, 2011

Good Tuesday morning! The light and love of the Lord is in you and with you all the day long! Fear not the darkness of the night or the darkness of your mind, for all darkness is dispelled in the presence of the Lord's Holy Spirit. Looking into the darkness we see no reason for hope, but the Spirit reminds us to turn around and know Jesus, the Light of the World. With light flowing into your heart, your whole countenance will be lit with the lamp that never goes out. Trust in Jesus to light you up today!


Monday, September 12, 2011

Whitewashing Again? - September 12, 2011

Good Monday morning! In the world we know that what we see isn't always what we get, or even necessarily the truth. There is software to make the model's photo look better; software to search the web and clean up your image; software to run the hardware, and even software to create a virtual world that is so much more fun than the real one. Why bother living this real life when there is a world more to your liking on your computer? Most of us have no trouble separating the two, but there are some folks who cannot live in the real world anymore. We may blame the personal computer and the Internet, but this began back in the days of television, or even radio, or maybe traveling shows, or... Actually there is a story that our first president, mindful of history, made sure to have his teeth in when his portrait was painted. Going back further, we might find that the wealthier and more powerful a person was, the less likely their portrait painted a true picture of the person. I suspect that we could take this all the way back to the time Adam and Eve took their first steps out of the Garden of Eden and found that the new world now stained by their sin and God's curse had begun to sprout ugliness.

Having known only the beauty and gentleness of the Garden, Adam probably found the first sticker not long after his first trip into the field to plant his crops. Knowing what we do of stickers and sand-burrs out here, Adam probably found it with a sensitive part of his feet or hands first. Later, Adam would discover that one sticker in your clothing multiplies if left alone too long. It may have been Eve who first discovered her reflection in a pool and noticed the first imperfection in her face. Perhaps it was only the welt from the first mosquito bite, but suddenly the one created from Adam by God noticed a bit of ugliness in her image. Since misery loves to unload on an unsuspecting partner, that first conversation after Adam came in limping from his work in the field probably had a lot of moaning and complaining involved on both sides of the table.

Ever since the expulsion from Eden, we have the ability to see every imperfection and have worked on ways to cover or eliminate them. You can bet that personal hygiene products and makeup and such were not invented by someone who thought men and women were perfect just the way they came naturally. The first high definition television and movie images probably sent a whole generation of actors running back to their trailers for more makeup. However, I don't see a lot of verses in the Bible where God speaks to our appearance. Jesus called the religious leaders 'whitewashed sepulchers' (whew, try to spell that one on a Monday morning!), beautiful on the outside but full of corruption on the inside. Our culture trains us to worry about our appearance; Jesus speaks throughout the Bible of what is really important. We think we see every imperfection, but we also have an ability to miss the important ones.

Praise God for sending us a Counselor! As fallen as we are, we would probably spend too much time working to improve the external if left to produce sanctification on our own. In fact, as we grow closer to Jesus, it becomes obvious to even the slow ones like me that our sanctification program is best managed by God.

Walk with our Lord Jesus today!


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11 - September 11, 2011

As a child I felt no emotion for the observance of Pearl Harbor Day. As the event took place some years before I was born, I could not feel or understand the connection adults had with that day. The day a man shot President Kennedy I was but a few months old, and again I could not understand the emotion. However, on September 11, 2001 I had come into work to find a man talking about a plane striking one of the towers of the World Trade Center in New York. At first, like most everyone else, I thought that it must have been some tragic accident; probably a small plane flying where it shouldn't have been as had happened before. This day would be different. Not much later a second plane struck the other tower and suddenly I knew along with everyone else that this was no accident. The Internet news sites were overwhelmed, the company Internet connection was overloaded, and people scrambled to find a television or radio somewhere to see what was going on. The Pentagon had been hit; the President had taken flight in Air Force One, and much of our government had gone to the bunkers. At work, we were sent home. At that time, no one could tell how many attacks would be carried out. The news at home had more to feed our fears.

For the first time in my life all commercial and civil aviation had been grounded. The first military planes to respond had been too late and armed poorly, if at all. Another plane had crashed in Pennsylvania and reports of last cell phone calls to loved ones had begun to appear on the news. I put out my flag at home and wandered around the house with a loaded rifle. I would imagine that many a home was guarded in much the same way that morning. What was going on and how far will this go? Along with many others I prayed.

Later in the day, the skies were clear above us. Not free of clouds, but free of jet trails and the sound of commercial jets overhead. As it became apparent that no more attacks would happen I set down the rifle and just watched the news... and prayed. Many had died, but as of this time no one could tell us how many or even who they were. The first stories of heroic firemen and police officers began to appear. The military was no longer sleepy, but fully armed and ready across the nation. The empty skies prevented travel for many, but also prevented further tragedy as one wrong move by a pilot or two at that time might have caused regrettable accidents. The President had landed in Kansas. Many lives had been lost, but not as many as had been feared at first. However, the twin towers that so many of us knew from so many films and photographs of New York City were gone forever. Children suddenly had lost one or both parents; husbands had lost wives and wives had lost husbands. Even in Nebraska, suddenly I could understand the emotions my grandparents had felt after Pearl Harbor, and those my parents had felt in November of 1963. I didn't know anyone who had died in the terrorist attacks, but I knew people like them.

We know that our nation came together after 9/11. Flags came out of storage and folks went out and bought new ones. Churches held packed services and memorials. A few survivors were even pulled out of a mountain of rubble in New York and Washington. People did look around their towns and neighborhoods and ask, "Who's that?" But many incidents that could have occurred did not. Condolences poured in from around the world. More than a few young men and women went down to volunteer for service to their nation. At that time, quite a few older ones wanted to, but we would cool down in time. Gradually, as it had after World War II, life began to go back to not quite normal.

Work, homes, careers, family, friends, and other things we list on our resume of life seemed much the same, but at the same time just a little different. As the years passed, 9/11 references would arrive less in the popular media, but have never quite disappeared either. Our nation has sent many men and women to war, though some folks do not remember that nearly enough in thought and prayer. On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, the leader of the group who carried out the attacks, Osama bin Laden, is no more. Many of his comrades are also dead or have been captured. Saddam Hussein and his sons are gone. Some problems still exist in Iraq, but the nation is rebuilding and our military presence has become less and less. War still rages in Afghanistan, but not in all areas and much civil progress has been made. 9/11 happened, but God can work a mighty change from the worst of tragedies.

Ten years later, some things about the economy seem a little rough to us right now. But overall I am optimistic that our nation will continue to seek God. A great revival seems just around the corner to me even as things may seem dark when I look around. In the history of the United States, God has brought forth great revivals by an outpouring of His Spirit just when things have been very sinful and unbelief rampant in the land. Send your prayers up to God for our nation today. Remember the changes that have come from 9/11 and rejoice in God's providential blessing on America.


Friday, September 09, 2011

The Way Doesn't Mean 'My Way' - September 9, 2011

Good Friday morning! Our government is deep in debt, but what's another $450 billion or so? The government is so deep in debt that even the Mint officers are helping themselves to some coin it seems. Of course the second of those has nothing to do with the first and it wasn't plural; other than that I reported it faithfully. You know that reporting headlines faithfully is not changing the single to plural so that an entire group becomes guilty of a crime or changing the context of the president's job plan. It is so easy to change and alter words to have a comic or even a criminal effect. With words in our language so easy to fool around with, how does a person find not only his way in life but the Way to eternal life?

First, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit out into the world to convict the world of its sin. Then, our Lord sent His Spirit into the hearts of those who will believe in Him. A person under the conviction of the Holy Spirit will be seeking answers, and we have a command directly from our Lord to share the Good News that we have in Christ. We point to the Way and help others find their way by showing the grace of Jesus in our lives and in our communications. We do good works because our faith in Christ has set us free to love our Lord and our neighbors. Those good works speak to even the unbelievers of the glorious changes God has made in us.

Of course the devil is going to tell you and me that we haven't gone on a 30-year mission to the Congo, endured starvation, disease, attacks by little tribesmen with big spears, years in prison, or even spoken to 50,000 people in a stadium about the love of Jesus. How can we possibly think that we are qualified to call Jesus "Lord"? Praise the Lord Jesus Christ that his good news was not about how much we have to do to qualify ourselves for salvation! We do good works because of the free gift of grace. And those good works start with the very simple.

Many an evangelist has put together a show on television or at a big stadium to preach to tens of thousands and even millions of persons. However, it is certainly possible that not all of them are saved. Some of those very impressive television evangelists may find themselves left behind when Jesus calls his own up to Heaven. If preaching the Word to a whole bunch of folks doesn't automatically qualify a person for salvation, why do we tend to listen so well when the devil says that we haven't done enough? One of the oldest temptations in the book: a person can do enough to save himself. The serpent used it on Eve to start the whole avalanche of sin. "Just eat this and you will become like God!"

I know in my mind that I cannot save myself through human effort and accomplishment; yet every now and then I find myself praying for help to accomplish this or that task so that I will be impressive in my own eyes. Gotta get that head knowledge into my heart and just accept that salvation is the work of the Lord Jesus. Good works will prove my faith in Jesus, but they are not for building some kind of resume to present to God proving my right to be in Heaven. Nope, can't earn our way to Heaven; guess we better let God show us the Way while we share the Good News that there is a way to eternal life!

Have a wonderful weekend!


Thursday, September 08, 2011

Make the Effort, It's Worth It - September 8, 2011

Good Thursday morning! Well, almost 3 years later, I stopped in last night to see the man who ended my job. Not that he did it all himself, but he did draw the short straw in a manner of speaking and got to sit across the table from me and the others as we learned that day that our lives would be changing. I got to ask the question that had begun to bother me: what was that day like for him? I only had to go through one of the meetings; he had to give the bad news to many. Without even a pause to reflect, Jon said that it was the worst day of his corporate career. I can easily believe that. Today, looking back I can say that I am glad that our places were not switched. Why go to the man's house to bring up the past? Because people are not always thinking what we might imagine them to be thinking, and that goes both ways.

A person who has to deliver bad news to you or I might easily imagine that we would hold it against them forever. We as Christians should take the initiative to make sure they don't have to carry a burden like that. Just the presence of our smiling face might set someone at ease on an issue or question that has been smoldering away in the back of his or her mind. Letting a neighbor know that we are called to forgive and that bitterness is something we forcefully push away can ease a tension that has bothered him. Taking the initiative in this might not be easy.

We might easily wonder if that other fellow is going to growl and send his dogs to chase us away. We might think that the woman we parted with in anger is still holding tight to that anger just waiting for the chance to unleash the beast on us. We may be thinking correctly in some cases, but Jesus still leads us through His Spirit to make the effort at reconciliation. And I can tell you that reconciliation is a wonderful thing. A few demons were vanquished last night on both sides I think. It's time to finish these books and let 'em out into the world.

May God bless you as you walk with Jesus on this day,


Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Surely It Will Happen - September 7, 2011

Happy Wednesday morning! Some things seem to take too long. Other things really do take too long. If you want a job that requires what is called perfect vision or 20/20 and you are blessed with poor eyesight, it is possible to workout your eyes and improve your vision. However, the price of that working out is high, including headaches and spending much time doing what appears to be nothing, and the eye doctors tell us that the effect will not last. Apparently if the bat stops working out his eyeballs he becomes the ol' 'blind as a' thing again. If you want to be a fighter pilot or Navy Seal, you may not have time to do the eyeball thing in any case. The organizations who run those particular folks don't seem to want to train 50 and 60 year old peoples who have managed to work their eyeballs back into that 20/20 range. We simply may not have the time in this short life to do something properly. Or, perhaps worse, we do have the time, but when we get the thing done we find ourselves too old to enjoy the results of our effort.

Now, compare that depressing outlook with the concept of eternity with Jesus in Heaven. Suppose you want to glorify God by becoming very skilled at making music or playing some instrument. Perhaps even in eternity this will take practice and training, both of which take a lot of time. But! Time is something you now have in abundance. So much time that it no longer has any meaning where eternity is involved. If it takes 10,000 years for you to master this heavenly violin... so what? If something bothers you about your performance, take another 10,000 years and work it out. That just seems so alien to what we experience here in this life.

If something takes years or decades, we get impatient and perhaps even bored waiting for it. If it happens in seconds or minutes, the thing may seem much too fast for us and may even be over too quickly. Of course, if what we want to see takes centuries to occur, we probably won't have time before our expiration date comes up. If you need to see your expiration date, I hear it is printed on the bottom of our bottoms. I haven't seen that part of me for years so I cannot confirm or deny that bit of information. I would rather not know anyway; I might find out that I have already expired!

Praise God that our Lord has time firmly in his power along with everything else. You and I will have just enough life for God to accomplish exactly what he began in us. We need not fear that the work of the Holy Spirit will be held up by cost overruns or shipping delays. Those things that God directs to happen in our lives will happen, and they will happen at exactly the right time. We will glorify God in our lives; the Spirit and the Son will make sure of it!

Have a glorious day in Christ!


Tuesday, September 06, 2011

It's Coming! - September 6, 2011

Good Tuesday morning! The long weekend is over and it is time for us to get beck to work. Yup, when you find ol' beck, send him to work; you surely don't want to be there! Whoo wee! Did you notice a change in the night temps around here? We seem to have changed from summer nights to autumn nights rather suddenly this weekend. But enough about the weather. One would think that is all we have to talk about around here. Hmm, a complete blank in the Local News section of our radio station's web site. Maybe weather really is the only happening thing around here. I wonder how many people in the world would just love to come live in a place where a small weather change is all there is to talk about on a Tuesday morning? Some places are just a bit too exciting to live in most of the time. As we approach our Revelation study for the first meeting after the summer break, I cannot help but be thankful that nothing much happened here over the holiday weekend. Nothing much that I know about that is.

For some folks, that could be the way they find out about the Rapture. A new day after a quiet weekend; the man arrives at work ready to abuse some employees, and some folks just don't show up for work! What is going on? Why are so many missing? For you and me, the Rapture might be completely different. We get up for a nice drive to our just so wonderful workplace on a Monday morning and.... there the car sits in the driveway while the boss wonders when we are going to get our respective buttocks in to work. The Rapture will happen just that quickly. The Bible says that one will be taken and the other left; leading us to believe that the Rapture will be so quick that even in mid-conversation one of the talkers will just vanish. If you happen to be on a talk show, your microphone might thump to the seat formerly occupied by your body just as the host asks his question. If you choose to reject Jesus, you might be walking with a friend as she asks you one more time to attend a Bible study with her and... suddenly, completely, your friend is not there. If the non-believing and left behind person was walking out here where a person can see for miles, that vanishing will be a very difficult mystery to solve.

On the other hand, for you and for me the mystery might be no mystery at all. Gladly will we put our plans for the evening meal away as we prepare to have our next meal at the wedding feast of the Lamb. With joy we will leave our work behind as we greet the Lord of All. The looming deadline, the next assignment, the toil of the workplace... all left behind as we see Jesus in his glory. The difference between those left on this earth to face the tribulation and those taken up to be with Jesus is huge and hard to get our minds around.

Writing about history, I often find myself imagining too much. When writing about the Rapture, I find it hard to imagine enough. We just don't know all that might happen when so many of us are suddenly snatched up from the Earth. Heavy thinking for a Tuesday after a holiday weekend. Until that great day, go with God and share the Good News!


Friday, September 02, 2011

Labor Day Weekend - September 2, 2011

Good Friday morning! Hooray, the final long weekend holiday of summer is here! Tonight you can go a little bit crazy... wait, most of us are at least that far already. Perhaps we can go somewhere fun like a football game. Yeah! The 'Huskers start the new season tomorrow. I notice that some special weather has arrived for the holiday weekend too. I haven't felt a breeze this cool since last May or June. Of course that is a relative measure as we are just coming out of a long hot spell. Ha, ha, who am I to talk about a hot spell? We have had an easy summer compared with the folks down south.Woof, usually by now the sun is shining on me and the thermometer beside the desk is reading 84º (because of the sun on it) Today, no sun and the reading is 68º. The hot coffee is so much better today for some reason.

I'm babbling; I'm not sure how I can tell, but I can tell somehow. See, babbling! Today is one of those days when a little caffeine in my coffee might not hurt. The changing weather last night kept waking me up and the morning seemed to arrive after a long journey... and it's already past 0800. I have seen a few mornings where it might be best that I not try to present my take on deep theological issues. Especially given that my 'take' on theology might be just a bit lopsided and goofy on a morning such as this.

Today, I pray that you have a great Labor Day weekend. I pray that God is a part of your weekend and that all you do is done to glorify our Lord. Does that mean working all weekend? Certainly not! How often do you praise God for more days of hard work and toil? We get plenty of that in this life. This weekend do something praiseworthy. That is: do something that makes you say "Praise God!"

Enjoy the weekend!


Thursday, September 01, 2011

Thank God for the Law! - September 1, 2011

Good Thursday morning! Welcome to the 'ber months. September has arrived and August will fade into history once more. The new month brings... and this is really a bit much for simply changing a few calendar pages around the house. The truth is that even with different pictures on our calendars a change from one month to the next is often not particularly noticeable outside in the world. We get the same thing at the start of each year. I think some folks seek out a massive hangover just to feel that the morning is somewhat different than the final few of the past year. With our short-range viewpoint, it is kind of hard for us to see the wonderful things God is doing every day. Our vision is limited to what we can recall from the past, the moment, and a few educated guesses about the future. As we grow older, the past gets cluttered up and harder to recall, the moment seems to slip by more quickly, and the future looks like the approach to a big blank wall. Wow, maybe we should just look for a nice, enjoyable, Labor Day weekend.

Good Thursday morning! We'll just forget all that and move on ahead with something more uplifting. If you have some loot to spend, the Labor Day sales ads are piling up in my inbox. One set of neighbors got to leave last night for their weekend. That is always a good sign. I like to see someone taking some time off. School around here does kind of limit the Labor Day for most folks though. Perhaps 'set' isn't quite the word to use when referring to the family across the street. Husband, wife, and a child who has reached the age of "must watch" mobility. Without parental restrictions she would be into everything and into a lot of trouble in no time. We think we understand that, but do we ever look at God's Law that way?

Without the Law we too would soon be in deep trouble and, just maybe, extreme danger in very little time. Last night I watched an old western movie. You will probably recognize it right away. A man enters a shooting contest, wins a rifle, and as he enters his hotel room he is jumped by two fellows and the rifle is stolen. My first thought was, "Wow, now that is covetousness! ... and theft." So often a violation of one of God's laws results in the violation of another almost immediately. Coveting will lead to stealing. Committing adultery hardly honors your father and mother and is stealing the spouse from your neighbor. Bowing down to an idol is not keeping God first in your life. When we sin it is often hard to say that "I committed only this or that violation." Usually we are caught in more than one sin at the same time.

Might as well admit it all and just let God know that you know that you have sinned. We don't repent to let God know; He already knows our sin. We repent to be in agreement with our Lord and seek His forgiveness. Praise God that Jesus paid the price for that destructive and deadly little word, sin, and gave us the Way to eternal life!

Enjoy the day in Christ!