Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween?

Good Monday morning! I feel like singing 'It's not My Job Anymore'! Someone may have used that for a song title at some point in history, but I don't recall hearing it. My song may never make the Billboard Top 6,000 list and my caterwauling may not put the X in the X-Factor, but I feel like singing it anyway. Monday morning and more cold is on the way. November is on the way too, so I suppose that kind of fits with the cold. Happy Halloween! "Gasp! How dare you put that in a Christian devotional!" I know. This is one of those things that some Christians have a problem with, even to the point of denying the little spooks and spectres their candy treat. What are you putting into the day? I am not celebrating the creatures of the night and I have no problem giving out candy to children; after all they might as well have the opportunity to get fat like me. I did replace my door chime this year to get rid of that nasty clanking the old one had. The cats appreciate it. Do I accuse those brothers and sisters who have a problem with Halloween? Nope, t'aint my place to do that anymore. Besides, why miss the opportunity that Halloween provides? Little kids at your door with bags open, slip a real treat into the bag. One of those little New Testaments, some tracts (an idea I heard last week at Life Group), along with the candy treat perhaps? The kids may not realize the real treat isn't the candy one, but one day one of those seeds may blossom.

In Christ we have gained freedom from the penalty of the Law and from the slavery of sin. We still have our animal desires and our diabolical nature from before, but we are no longer in chains. From that I can think of a few things that are no longer in my job description. A being already bears the title, accuser of the brethren (and sistren), so we don't have to run to God in our prayers with accusations against our brothers and sisters in Christ. You have never done that? Never spoken a prayer something like, "Please Lord convict old so-and-so because I saw him going into that place and you know what goes on in there..."? Hmm? Never been caught praying something like that? Good for you; I have, and while I may have known what went on in that place when I was with old so-and-so, I don't know for sure what he did in there after I became a child of God and stopped going with him. My attempt at disguising the accusation might not smell so sweet to the Lord.

What else is no longer in our job description? Vengeance! We see it in our culture and in our media. "You have to stand up for yourself; you must get even. If you don't take care of this, he/she/they will just come do it again!" We are to defend what the Lord has given us, but that does not speak of feuds and wars and the vengeance the world loves so much. God gave the command, "Vengeance is mine saith the Lord. I will repay those who deserve it!" As new creations in Christ our Lord, we no longer have to follow and carry out that desire for vengeance we feel. It isn't in our job description now.

We should not feel the need to compete in our new job. Paul used several sports metaphors in his epistles, but we are not competing against our brothers and sisters in Christ. In straining to reach the prize like the Philippians we don't reach over and snip the drawstring of our brother's girdle of truth. "Whoops there, brother! I have to win that prize!" Not so! We are in this race together with Jesus our Lord. We do our utmost to help each other through prayer and supplication, service and sharpening, and above all, love. That cutthroat competition the world loves so much is no longer in our job description.

You can think of many other things the world cherishes that no longer fit the job description of Christ-one. We are new creatures in Christ. Live like it!


Friday, October 28, 2011

The Imperfect Cake

Good Friday morning! So my first attempt at a German chocolate cake did not come out perfectly. First of all I haven't learned to make a homemade frosting yet, so the the cake had store bought frosting, and then I didn't have enough, so it had two different kinds (and colors!) of frosting on it. Well, shiver me timbers, matey! Do you suppose God loves me any less for that little bakery faux pas? For a bit I even argued with myself about taking the cake to the pot luck, but then what about that verse where we are commanded to humble ourselves? We all want to show off only our best efforts, but if we seek to show only perfection we will never show anything. Do you suppose Gideon worried about perfect form and appearance when he went into battle for the Lord? Do you think Paul made Luke write several drafts of every epistle before he sent the letters to the churches? At one time I would have said yes to that last one, but I am not so sure.

Did Paul pause to think and get his words straight before committing them to paper? Yes, I certainly believe that, but several drafts and rewrites? Perhaps not. Paul wrote from the heart and he wrote in the Spirit. I'm sure that Paul also wrote after prayer and thanksgiving with God. What if Paul had Luke read the letter to the Romans back to him and then decided that it wasn't perfect, better to keep that one for himself? We might not have one of the best books of the Bible, one called by some "The Christian's Constitution". We might not have the blessings we find in Romans. Just think of how many sermons and books would never have been spoken or written without the Letter to the Romans!

An effort may not meet your standard of perfection. It is often interesting to think that we think we know what perfection is, and that somehow with enough effort we can somehow achieve this perfection... even though we know very well that we are imperfect and fallen creatures. If God baked the perfect cake, would it look anything at all like any cake ever baked? Could we recognize perfection sitting on the kitchen counter? Would we dare taste of the perfect cake and thus diminish it by so much as a mouthful? And if once tasted would we then spend the remainder of our short lives in a fruitless search to duplicate that perfection? In so many efforts we kinda sorta do just that. Maybe we should just let God be perfect today and trust in Him.

Have a wonderful Friday!


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Quiet Time

Good and cold Thursday morning! Just over 20ยบ outside and the snow has stayed on the grass for another morning. Snow kind of brings to mind... Christmas music! If you didn't fire up the Christmas tunes yesterday, what exactly is the problem? Oh, ho, ho, it's fun to be a Christmas music nut! For some, yesterday came as quite a shock. After working almost non-stop for months, the roofers suddenly met a big stop sign. For the rest of us, it was kind of strange not hearing that roofing noise all day. The sun is just coming up and we are supposed to warm up pretty good today. Yak, yak, yak... is this a Christian devotional or some kind of chat blog? Harumph! Someone guzzled all the coffee in my mug too. Must have been the cat.

Shh, hear that? No, not the roar from the furnace vents or the sound of people going to work this morning, but the sound of busyness in your life. What is that? Are we created for constant busy, busy, noise and racket? Adam and Eve came to life in a garden, not a factory. God knows about our needs and how we fulfill some of them through work. But are you getting alone with God and having that quiet time each day? I know, you have so much to do and so little time to do it. I have been there. I have also felt the emotional and spiritual accumulation of crushing debt. We owe our God that quiet time each day for our own good! When we don't get that time alone with God, the debt begins to pile up. When that pile of debt falls over, we end up with anxiety, stress, depression, and all the other mental illnesses we experience in this busy, busy life.

I want to start on my writing first thing each morning, or I want to workout first thing, or do something that seems productive first thing. What if I don't get that thing done first thing and then I put it off until I don't do it? That is exactly what had been happening to what is actually the most important thing in my day - quiet time with God. By putting all those other things first, I ended up reading the Bible and praying for a few moments in bed at the end of the day where I often fell asleep mid-thought in my prayer. You have heard the command from Jesus. I'll even give us all a hint, "Seek first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness..." If you are an old-time Bible reader, you might recall the King James which starts, "Seek ye first..." Well, I am a 'ye' too, and I need to put first what needs to be first, seeking the Kingdom of God.

Since having a quiet devotional time each morning before I start my work, my book writing has taken off once more. Ye olde seeking first seems to worke very well! Is my Bible study and prayer time the absolute first thing each morning? No, I have to roll my carcass out of bed first. I also read e-mails, including devotionals, write my own devotional, have breakfast, and feed the hungry cats, not necessarily in that order depending upon the level of racket coming from the felines. Tuesday, I even went down to breakfast at the restaurant before the study time. God didn't smite me for it. Some folks are very religious about rolling over in the morning and grabbing their Bible, good for them. For me, that doesn't seem necessary, but doing my quiet time before sitting down to make my living writing novels does seem to be what God wants. Perhaps seeking first means that we put it first in our lives and in order of importance, but not necessarily first in chronological order in the morning.

We receive the command from Jesus, and we get guidance from our pastors and brothers in Christ, but the main thing is to listen to what God is telling you! How do we learn that? Well, you might try seeking Him first to get the answer on that. Your quiet time could be later in the evening. And I think we can all see reasons for putting time with God before prime time television!

Have a wonderful day in Christ!


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Never Alone

Good Wednesday morning! I love Jesus! Some mornings I wake up early, other mornings not so much, but Jesus is always there. If I were to rise at just past midnight, I would not catch Jesus in his night cap, yawning, and wondering what in the world I am doing up so early. If one of us should need to call on our Lord late at night, we would not find him already gone to bed with a "See you in the morning!" sign on the bedroom door. If we awaken suddenly from a most frightening dream, we will not find him gone to check on someone else. Though we may be called on the carpet before the big boss, a simple prayer is all it takes to reach out to the One who never leaves or forsakes us. What a great Lord and friend we have in Jesus!

At times we may feel that Jesus is far away from us. How could our just and perfect Lord stand to be near all that sin? The sins of the world bore down upon our Lord as He died on the cross. Would it be even the slightest inconvenience for Him to stay near during our moments of sin? Certainly not! Disappointed though He might be in our actions, never will He leave us. Remember that the sin did not catch Jesus by surprise. If He wanted to forsake us, He could do it long before the sin arrived. The promise of Jesus to never leave nor forsake even one of us does not have exceptions. Look around, look up, seek forgiveness, cry out for mercy, our Lord Jesus is right here with you and me. Face the terrifying moments and cry out for strength and help from the Lord; he is there ready to lend His might and power.

In Christ we can truly say, "I am never alone!"


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

He Kneels Down?!

Good Tuesday morning! Everything seems to be going well, or at least tolerably well, but something is creeping up on you. Something in your environment that doesn't seem to bother at first, but later, maybe much later, you begin to notice that things are not as they should be. Happened to me yesterday in fact. The roofers arrived at the neighbor's house yesterday and the noise didn't seem to bother me until later in the evening when things were suddenly out of whack. The cat was trying to sleep in a place she never sleeps in, then both cats were up on the back of the couch, and a feeling of general twitchyness, to coin a word, seemed to come over all of us. I realized that after several hours of that hiss-whack sound, I was more than ready for the roofers to be done and move along. Of course this leads into the subject for this morning.

We often think that temptation is always this very bold frontal attack. We are going to see it coming. Our full armor of God will be up and ready; the shield of faith facing the enemy, and we have it all under control. However, two of the metaphors in the Bible speak of prowling (like a lion) and fiery darts. Of course we are all ready for that bold frontal attack, if that is all that is coming. But so often the temptation is a shot from the bushes behind us. The darts fly thick from the sides and from behind, and slowly some of them get through the armor. We are ready to duck the cannon ahead, but we miss the little dart from the rear quarter.

You are fully prepared to stand strong against the devil worshipper in the black leather suit with the big, silver skull on his chest, but here comes the philosopher with the Ph.D. in Religious Studies saying something that just sounds right. You want to agree and you know that you should check with the Bible first and the Holy Spirit is practically screaming, "That ain't quite right!", but the pressure is on and you want to look smart too! ...and suddenly it seems that the Devil is standing on your shield of faith laughing at you again as you lay there defeated by sin.

Our Lord has the victory, but we don't always win the small battles. Just when it all looks the very worst. Jesus himself arrives to pick you up. He tells the Devil, "Git!" and he goes. Jesus hands back you shield and then reminds you of the lesson learned. One time it might be to go to the Word first. Another time it might be to flee the temptation. Still another time the lesson might be to stand on God's Word that you already know. The war is won, but the battles can be hard on us. The lesson that we forget the most, might very well be the most important: call upon Jesus first. In the context of our metaphor that seems a rather strange tactic. The knight stands as the arrows of the demonic hordes begin to fly, but instead of gripping the shield and sword tighter... he kneels down?! Yes, in the military context that Paul often used our tactics may seem strange. Like Jesus on the cross, we may seem to surrender before the fight has even begun, but there is victory in Jesus!

Have a wonderful day in Christ,

Monday, October 24, 2011

How Much Don't I Know?

Good Monday morning! Did you ever feel the urge to just pray for everyone? We don't always know what is wrong or right with someone far away. A person or family may be going through the valley of death's shadow or they may be going through a time of calm between the trials we all face in this life. Once upon a time we tended to say that no news is good news. Apparently letters only carried bad news at the time that saying was coined. What a dreadful thought! However, with today's almost instant communications no news is simply no news. No news can make us wonder, and wondering we may allow our minds to go in the wrong direction. The question for today is: Do you have the faith to trust God when you don't know what is going on?

Actually, that question could apply to most everything in the world these days. A quick scan of the news channels or websites might leave any of us wondering what in the world is going on. So do you trust God when you don't know what is going on? Absolutely! If you believe in God, then you believe what His word has to say about Him. We learn from God's word that his thoughts are higher than our thoughts like the heavens are above the earth. We learn that God knows our deepest thoughts and all that goes on in the world. We also learn that God knows exactly where this world is headed and exactly when it will get there. Even better, God knows exactly when to expect you and me at the pearly gates of Heaven or if He will see us waiting as He comes down from Heaven to make His home with us here on the new Earth. We will always be full of 'I wonders', but God knows. We may not understand all of His prophecies, but God has told us much of what will happen, particularly in the end times. We will always want to know more, but not all knowledge is good for us. If we can trust God with all that He knows, we can also learn to trust God with all that we don't. At least for me, the amount that I don't know seems like a lot most of the time, and that only includes what I know that I don't know!

Praise God for the work ahead of us today. May we learn much from it this day!


Friday, October 21, 2011

The Dummies Guide to Perfect Living?

Good Friday morning! Last night after our life group lesson, we somehow got on the subject of pastors and priests and such. Growing up, some of us had made assumptions about pastors and priests. On the other hand, we were also encouraged to these assumptions by various teachers and organizations. By now you have probably come up hard against those assumptions in your life. Pastors and other clergy are not infallible; nor are they paragons of virtue, possessors of the unfailing dummies guide to perfect living, or holders of the lifetime manual of every answer. No matter how much we might want them to be those things.

In fact, just the night before the pastor had described the desire to sin so well that I thought someone must surely have taken him aside and instructed him. How else could a pastor know the feelings and desires leading up to sin? What I wanted him to say was something like: "At about the time I had been a Christian for this many years, I stopped having feelings of lust. I found that all I wanted was my wife and haven't looked at another woman with lust since that time. A few years later, I found that I was no longer tempted by money, and wouldn't you know it, it has been more than two years since I have fallen into any kind of sin!" Of course, he didn't say anything of the kind. His description of sin appeared to come right out of personal experience. From a pastor? Say it isn't so! Well, we must say that it is so. For him, for you, for me, and for everyone who has ever trusted in Jesus to save them from sin and unrighteousness.

We don't grow into a free pass on temptation. The Devil will never give up on trying to trip us up. The stronger a Christian becomes in the faith, the more forces of Hell and the world are joined in battle against him or her. And sadly, as we have seen in just our lifetime, the bigger they are, the harder they fall. We also ran into the assumption that all clergy are saved and firmly believe in Jesus Christ as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Not so.

Pastors receive a lot of attention. On Sunday in many churches across the land the pastor will have an uninterrupted floor to speak his mind. While hecklers will heckle a stand up comic, and other politicians will try to shout over their rivals, the pastor has a time all to himself with an attentive (for the most part) audience eager to hear what he has to say. This attention can be like a drug and it draws those who have not given their lives to anything more than fame and fortune. Fortune? Oh yes, there are fortunes to be made by preaching the Word of God. While most pastors serve in a church with less than 200 members and are by no means wealthy, quite the opposite really, there are some who hit the big time, and that is what they got into the ministry for in the first place. Sure, we know this now and are watchful for it, but we all know that it was at one time much easier to fool us.

Christians need other Christians, but we need the Holy Spirit more. We need to look and listen, and see and hear, what our clergy is showing and saying. Some of that fruit is rotten, and much as we don't like it, the spoiled fruit must be cut off from the assembly of believers. Do I know of a specific example? No, and I am not going to start up a witch hunt, but we do know that some of what we have been led to assume is not the truth. By the way, that goes for devotional writers too! Go to your copy of the Word, check the fruit. I can tell you right up front that I'm not perfect, sinless, righteous through my own effort, and I don't have all the answers to the questions of life. I would very much like to get hold of that dummies guide to perfect living, but I can't seem to find it... oh wait, maybe that is just one of the working titles for the Bible that God discarded before it went to press.

Have a great weekend in Christ Jesus!


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Questions Without Answers

Good Thursday morning! A spider outside caught a big 'un today and the big 'un was not at all pleased. I did manage to get the paper, but sheesh! Now I can enjoy the phantom web syndrome for a while this morning. In your Bible studies and sermons, have you ever run into a question that just didn't seem to have an answer? If your question were a web, the answer might be the big 'un that just tore right through it, leaving you with nothing and a torn web. We had a question like that last night, and no, I cannot say that I have some thorough, satisfy-everyone, answer this morning. There will be times in our walk with Christ that we will not have all the answers. Whether it is from being too immature in the faith or that the answer is simply one of those burdens that Christ himself must carry for us, we may not receive a satisfying answer in this life. I am sure that there are many questions that arise from our Bible reading that we must simply believe and accept without full knowledge of what God is thinking.

We can recall that verse where God tells us: "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so aremy ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:9 Just as we cannot reach up and touch a star, so there will be times that we must simply put faith in front and obey what we may not completely understand. We do have a desire to learn and understand, but we may not always get what we want. If we could pause for a moment, go into a trance, and actually see our home in Heaven under construction, we would have no need for faith. You might ask why we don't have any input into the floor plan of this heavenly home. As the verse says, God has higher thoughts and ways, so who better to build without our limited and earth-bound input? And how do we know God isn't taking input from us?

We must take a lot of things on faith in this life. Learning to let God take care of these things is best for us and best for all involved. Try to imagine a small fraction of all the change orders that would arrive at the offices of Heaven's Construction, Inc. if we each had control of building our home in Heaven. We might never have the Rapture. We can ask what our home in Heaven looks like, but the answer will only come when God brings us there. A lot of questions will be answered when we see Jesus. Until then, mix the fruit of the Spirit into a nice smoothie and enjoy!

Have a wonderful Thursday in Christ!


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Even a Cup of Water

Good Wednesday morning! The world is frosty and cold this morning. Praise the Lord for autumn! Do you feel small today? Not small as in your physical size, but small in the way of being noticed and, dare we say it, acknowledged for your efforts? The awards at your work place always pass you by, yet the boss says that you are doing well. You serve and serve, but no one gives you a "Well done! Good work on that project!" Does it seem that your faithful service even in the church is being taken for granted? You may be correct!

Often in this fallen world our efforts and service go without gratitude or award or even the slightest notice. You have probably run into the boss that says things like, "Service is its own reward!" or "Your paycheck should be all the reward you need." You can probably add some dry old sayings to that list as well. Perhaps a paycheck should be enough for doing the job, but we don't always feel that way. That money that is owed for work done doesn't always seem to satisfy the emotional need. One might well wonder that if we could earn our salvation and God owed us a ticket to Heaven like we get paid on Earth, would we be satisfied?

God has set up a reward, a treasure chest, for us in Heaven. We are not always going to receive praise or reward here in this life for a job well done. We cannot touch our reward in Heaven; gaze at it on the mantle, or show it off to friends here in our earthly life. No one in our circle of friends may even know that a reward has been earned, but the reward is still there and will be satisfying in that sweetest of ways that only God can provide. The world may not notice you, but God is right there with you always.

We are acutely aware that God sees every sin, even the ones we try to hide. However, do we also think on the fact that God is right there noticing and rewarding our least service and most selfless act? Jesus told us this very thing. In Mark 9:41 and Matthew 10:42 Jesus assures us that even a cup of water given in His name will receive reward. Your service is not forgotten! God knows and your reward is safe with Him!

Have a wonderful day in the name of Jesus!


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Time Each Day

Good Tuesday morning! I like the white shingles they used on the roofs up the street today. The funny thing is that I don't recall them being white the day the roofers did the job. Yes, we have the morning frost today. Colder temps expected tomorrow as well. The house has pretty much shed any residual summer heat too, and, oh brother, does it ever feel like it this morning! I noticed yesterday that trying to warm myself with hot liquids such as coffee and tea holds one major inconvenience. But at least all those quick trips serve a warming function. I wonder if the heat going in is greater than the heat going out so to speak. It might be easier just to turn on the furnace. Heh, heh, this is the time of my resistance, but sooner or later I will have to warm up the house or go into hibernation. So far the hibernation thing hasn't worked out for me though. I wake up each morning hungry, or I'm woken up by something hungry, and the day begins. But what opportunities would I miss by hibernating through a day?

One opportunity for growth in the Spirit is in spending time with God and His Word every day. We have all been reminded that we need personal time devoted to God each day, but so often we forget or let it get pushed aside by something else. "I'll get to it later" often turns into "I won't forget tomorrow, I promise!" Suddenly the old fears and worries have taken over once more and we find ourselves incapable of putting action to our faith. Believe me that I am reminding myself as I write this; it isn't just about those of you out there who find yourselves in that very situation. Our time with God must start in the home and we must be faithful about it!

The time we spend in Bible study with a church leader, the times we gather together in our study or life groups, and that time each week we spend listening to a professional pastor, all help us grow in our walk with Jesus. However, once or twice a week does not do it for us like a faithful time every day. The world has a big claim on our time. Through work or school or sleep we spend a lot of time not talking with or listening to our Father in Heaven. We need a close personal relationship with our God and we need it now! Sorry, but let us remind each other one more time - spend time each day meditating on God's Word and in prayer alone in your 'closet' with the door shut.

Reminding each other about God is a good and faithful thing for us to do! Have a great day in Christ Jesus,


Monday, October 17, 2011

The Arrogance of the Experienced

Good Monday morning! It's raining! What a pleasant surprise to wake up to this morning. Rains at this time of the year can be a bit on the cool side though. Dangerous times in the neighborhood: the young man across the street just got his first vehicle to go with his new driver's license. Time to keep off the streets for a while!

We joke about first time drivers, but often we neglect the arrogance of the experienced. Some of us get in a mode of driving where we think we have it all under control. Statistics do help with that as fewer accidents happen with drivers of a certain age range. However we should never get so comfortable in our driving that we fail to remain alert and responsible. Our Christian walk can be much the same way. We get a little experience, we learn some of the Bible, and we start to get accustomed to the beauty of God's saving grace and begin setting aside any thought of our own goodness. We can also start to get over-confident or even prideful in our 'look how far I've come' assessment of our own condition. We need God's grace every step of our Christian life until God brings us home. We need His mercy and forgiveness. And we need above all to remember that we have an Adversary who very much wishes our downfall.

Yesterday, I heard a pastor give a rundown of what a comical figure Satan has become to our modern world. We should not believe any of that for a second. An over-confident Christian is ripe for the plucking, and our enemy is just the one to do it. We must have confidence in our Lord and His Holy Spirit, but we should never be over-confident in any ability we possess (or just think we possess). You might say that we can get so confident that we neglect to put on the breastplate of righteousness one morning and stick our own big chest out instead. Just what the Devil is looking for too, and he will shoot a few arrows right into that over-confident breast of ours and drop us right to the ground.

The strength of any Christian is no match for the Devil and his demons. The strength of God is more than enough. Which one we choose to abide in is, of course, ours to choose. I think that we might just want to abide in our Lord and count on His mighty strength to shield us. I know that my strength is never enough. Now to remember that all the time instead of after the Adversary has brought me low again and again.

Praise the Lord for the new day!

Friday, October 14, 2011

It Will End!

Good Friday morning! Oh, the pain and suffering! Oh, the despair and meaninglessness! Why would anyone want to become a Christian? We know that it is not all that way. However, by picking out only certain passages from the Bible, a person could get the impression that the way to all manner of pain and despair is to give your life to Jesus. Yes, we do suffer in this life, but we also have a Savior who walks with us every moment. Some of us do seem to suffer constantly and we wonder how that brother in Christ can ever stand to be in his body. We might wonder why this sister in Christ doesn't get the relief we think she deserves from God's healing. We might not know what we are talking about in such cases too!

Suffering is difficult as the curse brought on by Adam's fall does lie heavily on the land. But Jesus has given us some things that don't quite match up with the doom and gloom view of becoming a Christ one. When a certain child was born in Bethlehem, the angel gave us some good news: "Fear not! For I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people!" Later the heavenly host sang a benediction: "Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good will toward men." If we have peace from the heavenly host and we have good tidings of great joy from God's messenger, and we have God's good will, then it can't all be about suffering and pain. God's good will is better than any treasure we might find upon this earth.

We may suffer for a season, but God gives us the strength to bear up and stand for Jesus. Some do suffer more than others, but God is not blind and will remember their suffering. The entire span of our life here on this earth seems so long now when suffering comes. However, this life will seem so very brief when we look at eternity. The choice is: do you want to spend eternity suffering more than you are now, or do you want the Lord to dry every tear and take away all pain forever? The Bible has much to say about the joy of living in Christ and the peace that Jesus gives. The Bible is good news and Jesus is the Savior! There is good news too in the verses that tell us the suffering will end!

Praise God for the new day!


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Under Attack!

Good Thursday morning! Sneak, sneak, sneak, sneak... the suspicion comes upon you, grabbing your attention, extending your imagination into visions of arguments, violence, and injury. Why does our mind play these little stunts on us? How often has the argument or fight you imagined actually happened? Does the mind have some help with this? Indeed there are forces arrayed in battle against us, and this sneaking little attack does appear to be one of their favorite tactics. If the Devil can get you or me to live in the fear of our own minds then we may never take to the field against him. We also have the selfishness of our own diabolical nature that tells us to imagine the worst that could happen. Sometimes we even imagine the worst that couldn't possibly happen. The question might come up from this: what does the Devil fear in us anyway? We are so weak in our own strength and wisdom that you would think he has nothing to fear from us. Could it be that we have a power in us that the Devil fears? When Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to live in us, he did not do this without cause. We need the Comforter and we need an adviser in our spiritual walk, but we need more than this. We need a spirit that lends power to the Word of God when we swing that spiritual sword. We need a spirit that energizes our whole armor of God to resist the attacks of the Devil. We need the Spirit who gives us the strength to endure those attacks from inside our own mind; the attacks that come from the rebellious and fearful imagination. We need God's Holy Spirit to live in us. You believe in Christ, rest assured that He has sent the Spirit to you just as He said. We are in the fight of our lives. From the time you gave your all to Jesus, you have been under attack. You are not alone though. Jesus said that He would never leave us and this is so important in our spiritual battle against the Evil One and our own diabolical nature. We are attacked from within and from without, of course we need God's help! We are set up to fall from the moment we tell God, "I can handle this." Each of us must abide in the Spirit and in the Word of God. Our weakness brings God glory. Realizing just how weak we are is a part of our growth in Christ. Praise God for His powerful Spirit in me and in you. I need all the help I can get, and I'm pretty sure that you do too. Don't go it alone! Trust and obey God. Bucky

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Good Wednesday morning! What did you do back in the day? I know you did something especially humiliating. Probably something that you cannot believe everyone else has forgotten about. In your daily life, something else will trigger that memory. The humiliation returns in all of its pain. You wonder whatever could have caused you to commit such an embarrassing act. It is likely that I cannot even guess what this act might involve. What embarrassed you back in the day might seem like small potatoes to me. If I related some story that makes me squirm with embarrassment even now, you might wonder what the big deal was and why I am even bothered by it. On the other hand, if either of our incidents involved the police, lawyers, and news reporters then we might well understand the other person's problem. We all have things in our past that we would rather not have reviewed by a committee, or worse, by the public in general. Even if the committee would unanimously agree that the incident was a 'so what' in their opinion, we recall the emotional pain and suffer with it for a bit more. What if all of those awful incidents in your past could be just erased? Deleted from the common consciousness and especially from your own? At first that seems a bit far-fetched, if not downright impossible. But that is exactly what God says when He forgives our sins.
How can God, who knows everything, just forget completely about our worst moments? Many of those moments involve some of our worst sins (at least by our crooked estimation) too! How far is the east from the west anyway? Of course, the Lord is not talking about some circling of the globe. If you go east, you will never get west. That is how far God puts our sins away from His memory. You and I cannot easily forget things, except for those things we really want to remember that is, but God can choose to never again recall a sin we have committed. That is just amazing to me.
Imagine the worst thing that has happened in your life. Right, we don't have to imagine it; the worst things in our lives we cannot forget. The second worst things that happen to our Lord are when we rebel against Him. That is called sin. The worst thing was when He went to the cross to pay for all of that sin of course. When that sin is forgiven, God puts that event so far away from Himself that He cannot recall it. If we bring those forgiven events before God again, He not only does not recall the sin, but tells us to give it to Him. The Accuser does like to parade our worst faults before us. When that happens, give them to God once more. You and I certainly don't need to add past pain to what we have to endure each day!
God loves you and so do I; have a wonderful new day in Christ!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Giving or Scheming?

Good Tuesday morning! Do you think you need more to give more? Too many times I have caught myself claiming that I have a generous heart and then wishing that I had more loot to give away. We have all seen the extremely wealthy comment on how generous they are based on how much they give away. Being a large donor is a privilege of wealth, but does that giving merit the same treasure in Heaven as the widow and her two mites? Not hardly. Any of us could afford to be generous with great wealth. I can claim to be generous when I give when I cannot spare it in my human wisdom. Giving from a full purse is easy. Giving away the money for your last meal with nothing in the bank and no income in sight, as the widow did at the temple as Jesus watched, now that is generous.
We all have a long way to go with our generosity. We figure and plan, account and count up, but how much do we trust in God really? This is not an easy question to answer! Certainly it would be easier for me to counsel others to give away all their worldly money and possessions than to do the same thing myself. We look at the scriptures and see how the Jerusalem church sold or gave away all they had, but then needed to be bailed out by the other churches. Would it be right for one of us to give away everything and then accept money from our Christian brothers and sisters? Is that what Jesus would call 'carrying your own cross'? Tough questions for a Tuesday morning; I think I am hurting my poor little brain.
I don't have all the answers, but I do know that at times I feel the temptation of trying to earn my way into the Kingdom of Heaven by giving. This is different from showing my faith by giving in that it attempts to put God in obligation to me, which we know is not Biblical at all. God owes me nothing and I can never do enough to merit divine favor. I cannot out give God, but neither can I force God to provide for me by giving away all that He has provided and then sending up the prayer, "Look at me, God, I gave everything away and now I am broke before you!" It would be like walking into your dining room, deciding that you didn't like the chairs anymore, and sending them down to the Thrift Store so that God can provide you with shiny new ones. God is our Provider, that is true, but He is not at our beck and call to do what we want.
I suppose it is a question of motivation. Are you and I giving to show our love for others, or are we giving in a selfish attempt to gain more from God, treating our Lord like some kind of cosmic slot machine? If we are figuring that by giving enough God will then make us rich... we might be treading the wrong path in our Christian walk. We may look around and discover that Jesus is no longer by our side because we have strayed too far from the true path to Heaven. We also have our personal calling from God. Jesus told one rich young man to sell all that he had and give to the poor. Jesus also accepted the hospitality of those who had homes, and we may be called to host and support others. Missionaries can hardly be expected to send enough back to support a church at home. We know that it works the other way and are glad to give in support of our missions. That requires money to give and God provides. All that we own or think we own came from God's providence and we are glad to share it. We give to show our love and not our self interest, and God blesses us in return. We give in gratitude to God and give Him the glory for it!
Have a wonderful and giving day in Christ!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Trying and Failing

Good Monday morning! Did you watch Brain Games last night on the National Geographic channel? I like shows like that. All those tests prove that I am no better than anyone else. I laughed and laughed as I fell for the tricks of vision and attention. Years ago, I would have come down on myself for not being part of the 1 in 3 or 1 in 12 that had the ability to spot the change or trick. No sense in doing that anymore, I am as God has created me added to the fallen condition of Adam's sin. That made me wonder: would Adam have fallen for these tricks of vision, attention, or memory? We don't know. The Bible does not give us a description of how much time Adam and Eve spent in Eden before the fall. Perhaps the temptation and eating of the apple happened the very first afternoon of the day Eve arrived, or maybe the couple enjoyed a thousand years of fellowship with God and each other before the fall happened. We don't know.
I may not want to know because it would be so humbling to realize that Adam and Eve were just like me and didn't even last a day in the Garden. I want to think that somewhere in our past people held out against even the sinful thoughts that Jesus spoke of for years and years. Alas, the Bible doesn't seem to have much to help me there. The stories of even the famous faithful include liars, murderers, adulterers, and scoffers. People just too much like me, I'm afraid. On the other hand there is this one fellow. His story is something else entirely.
Of course you realize right away that I am writing about Jesus. While we may feel comforted to know that Timothy was timid just like us, or that even King David had the wrong thoughts during an idle moment, we can also be comforted to read that Jesus was tempted just like we are and did not sin. "But," we say, "that was the Son of God! I could do it if He took over my life, of course I could!" Well, yeah, that is exactly the point! We need Jesus to take charge of our lives to live without sin. We try and try to do it on our own, and we fail and fail in the test.
You are not perfect yet, and neither am I. One day Jesus will finish His work in us through His Holy Spirit and His sacrifice on the cross and then things will be different. Until that day, we must come to our Lord constantly to avoid sin. Have you fallen into sin already this morning? Well, you were probably singing that little tune we all sing so much, "Me, Me, Me...." Sing a new song today, one that sings of the love of Jesus.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Your Special Day

Good Friday morning! Here it is again, October 7, that day of infamy that belongs to me. Some of you are repeating the line already, "Oh great, there he goes again..." As a resolution to this day in my mind, I thought that I would write about your special day instead. Some of you remember the day, others can remember the exact date, time, and place. Whether you can recall more or less, each of you came to Jesus and submitted to His lordship on a day in your past. In other words, you were saved! This day is no joke to any of us, though the circumstances that prompted it may seem full of humor later in life. That day may have been filled with the pain of sin's guilt, or simply the pain of the body. Some of you may have worked your way up to the decision, while others arrived at it with that sudden realization of discovery. Some celebrated the day with a baptism or anointing, others kept the moment treasured quietly at home alone with God. There is no one-size-fits-all day of salvation, only a Savior who fits us all.
Whether you recall exact details or have only a more general memory, we have that day of salvation in our hearts. One day, at the reading of a lengthy list of charges against us in a heavenly court presided over by the One True Judge that day will be played out for us again. As the Accuser attempts to have us convicted, Jesus will look in His own book and say something like, "I have no record of those charges. The page is marked 'Redeemed'!" Because of that special day with Christ, we have no record of sins to condemn us for eternity to suffering and pain greater than any we can experience here on Earth.
Last night as we listened to our weekly lesson with Pastor Chuck Swindoll, he made the point that we should live in fear of God's holiness. I agree, even in the light of my sins already paid for. We should not worry about eternity and the future, but we should rightly fear God's justice before we commit those actions for which we must ask forgiveness. I need to do a better job of remembering God's holiness during those times too! The fact that we have that special day of salvation with Jesus does not give us an excuse to succumb to the desires of the animal or diabolical man within us. In fact, we should take up the godliness that Jesus has already given us to fight those desires that so often result in falling into sin. Remember the result of your special day and seek God's righteousness and strength to live for Him!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Some Things May Not Matter

Happy Thursday morning! The weather is changing though... looks like that autumn thing we've heard about may get underway over the next few days. Confusion reigns in the house. After a rough evening and night, I fed the cats 2 hours early and went to Wal-mart in the darkness of the morning. The cats are wondering what in the world can be going on. The wind may not help matters. We all get a little out of sorts when it blows all night long and shows no signs of letting up yet today. Have you ever felt confused about aspects of your faith? Are the Saturday worshippers correct? Should we hold a mass on Tuesday and then go to Sunday School on Sunday? Ceremonies can be quite impressive, but are they necessary for getting me to Heaven? What if I don't attend every time the church doors are open? Does God love me less because I was unfaithful in tithing back in '02? Does God turn his face from me because I drink coffee without the caffeine in it? We all have various questions about our faith it seems. But what if those are not questions about faith at all, but about doctrine? Except for the last one that is; at least I don't think the Bible says that I should be hoss-whipped for going decaf. Part of the problem lies in the depth and complexity of the Bible. We read and study, and read and study, and there is always more treasure to discover in God's Word. However, the solution is also in the Bible. Much of what we worry about is not going to matter much when we come before Jesus. One clue: Jesus stated, "For where 2 or 3 are gathered in my name, I am there in the midst of them." (Matt 18:20) There is no mention of any particular day in that verse that I can see. What is the context on either side of that verse? Jesus tells his disciples that if two of them agree on anything they ask, the Lord will do it. Following the verse is the command to forgive seventy times seven. Nothing too complicated. Sometimes it seems that no two persons of the Christian faith can agree on much of anything. I submit that nothing could be further from the truth. We agree on much and if we gather in the name of Jesus, the Holy Spirit will be with us as we work out our faith for the glory of God the Father. Denominations and rulers disagree on a lot; that much is true. As followers of Christ, we should seek out our brothers and sisters in the name of Jesus and find Him to be our common ground. Many of our doctrinal differences will not matter in the life to come. Spread a little good news today! Bucky

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Problem Solving?

Allrighty then, two reboots already this morning. It seems that I have not yet isolated the problem here. To bring back the good ol' days, I can imagine an exec lurking over my shoulder asking me when the problem will be fixed. If this makes no sense to you then join the club, you are now at least partly qualified to work in IT. If it makes perfect sense to you, head on up the hill your new career as an executive leader is ready and waiting for you. In this life, only one person knew what the problem was and exactly when the fix would occur. Jesus didn't have to wait on parts; he didn't need help with the diagnosis; and he had everything under control. Jesus even knew exactly when and where the problem began. Many of our own problems just seem to come out of nowhere. We are not sure what the problem is, cannot quite remember when it started, and aren't even sure which symptoms belong with the problem and which are the result of something else. I cannot recall how many times in my old work in IT that I solved problems by furiously swapping out parts until things worked again. Praise God that Jesus didn't have to do that to solve the problem of sin in the human race. The interesting thing is that Jesus didn't even seem to solve the problem: He simply paid the bill that was due. Our 'system' in this world is still clunking along. None of us would call the world fixed right now. Yet, God has declared his grace sufficient because of His Son's sacrifice. Doesn't seem to make sense to our worldly view, but praise God that we believe in Jesus! Have a great new day in Christ! Bucky

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Forgive 70x7 - October 4, 2011

Good Tuesday morning! Can you ever forgive someone? No, you must always forgive everyone! In our lives we are going to come across persons who wrong us, organizations that wrong us, and even a diabolical self that wrongs us. Forgiveness is an essential element of our Christian life and growth. For those who have hurt us deeply, we may have to spend a little time each day forgiving them for years to come. The pain of what happened in a particular moment in time may fade only slowly. And each time we remember the hurt from that moment, we may need to forgive one more time. Jesus gave us a guideline to follow when he told the disciples they must forgive seventy times seven times. Some hurts are so deep that forgiving the person seven times is only a good start. Actually, forgiving the first time may not even be the most difficult.

At times a hurt might cause one of us to stew on the events that led up to or caused the hurt. Therein lies the key to why forgiveness is so very important. God is not hurt when we continue to stew in the pain, but He does mourn for us. God longs to heal our hurt and tears; forgiveness is the first shot of medicine for that hurt. We can forgive the other person with words or a letter, but that may not do any good in some hardened cases. However, forgiveness does a whole boatload of good in each of us, the hurting and tearful one who must forgive everyone.

Do you have a person or organization who has done to you what will be a lifetime of hurting? Forgive every day! Don't think that you have to come up with the strength to forgive on your own either. Ask God to help you forgive. Plead with our Lord for the strength to forgive. He did it on the cross; he must have the knowledge of how to help us forgive too.

Get up! A beautiful day has begun!


Monday, October 03, 2011

Going All the Way to Victory! Good Monday morning! The Huskers got stomped, the Broncos got stomped; what team should I be rooting for? Have you ever felt that all of your teams were somehow second tier in this life? Let me tell you about one team that may seem to be losing when we look at the news media, but has the victory already. As we look around at the news these days, it often seems that Christ is losing more battles than ever. How will our Lord gain the victory in the end when He can't even get people to acknowledge Him now? Of course we know that is looking at it from the wrong direction. Our Lord's final victory is not dependent upon good press or public opinion. The fact that each of us is allowed to choose does not reduce the power or sovereignity of God one bit. The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is not set aside because some refuse to believe that it happened. God doesn't have or need a marketing department to put a positive spin on press releases or to sell a product. You will find no finance or accounting department in Heaven lamenting the heavy costs of God's operations department. These are earth-bound things that we deal with on most days, but God is truly in charge of His operation. That final victory promised in Revelation: count on it! Jesus will come and He will have the victory. The peace that only Christ can give is yours. The joy that comes from believing in Jesus is yours to enjoy and share. The love of God surrounds you at all times and lifts you up from life's worst moments. God has called some to be martyrs and all of us to suffer for Him, but that does not mean that He is losing the war. This team is going all the way, baby! Have a wonderful new week in Christ! Bucky