Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Comfort in the Greater

Good Wednesday morning! Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. Did you ever stop to think that the person or being that is in the world might be someone other than the Devil? We know the greater He is the Spirit of God in our hearts, but could this other he be a she? That animal nature that we call the flesh could also be the he or she that is the lesser in this world. We might also be confronted by powerful men and women who are in this world. Men and women who might not have our best interests in mind or want to persecute us because of our faith in Christ. There are many he's and she's in this world who will seek to oppose Christ. Even our own sinful and animal nature opposes our walking in the righteousness of Jesus. We stand against all of these influences by remembering the greater He.

Jesus also told us that He has overcome the world. Jesus gave to us the Holy Spirit, the Comforter to comfort and advise us. We may stand surrounded by foes, but we stand with the very Spirit of God within our hearts. We may not even realise which 'he' is opposing us at the moment, or maybe even all of them at once, but we do have our strong tower, our fortress in the time of storm. Martin Luther didn't write up a song about a mighty fortress because he thought that he could stand in his own strength. David didn't write up the psalms that insired hymns because he could stand alone. God didn't give us His Spirit because we have the ability to stand on our own. We have battles within and without, but greater is He that stands within us. Take comfort in the Holy Spirit this day.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Good Tuesday morning! Okay, the holiday shopping madness is over for the year...what do you mean, only just begun?! It seems kind of odd to us that all of the madness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday is only the beginning of the holiday shopping season. People have been hurt over the last item in the store on Christmas Eve just as often as the first item on Black Friday. We can bemoan the cold material heart during what should be the warmth of Christmas, or we can spread some warmth ourselves to combat this coldness of heart we see. Shine a light out into the darkness! Shine the light of Christ to those most in need of it. Some will flee farther into the darkness, that is true, but we must continue to shine for Christ.

I'm guessing that by now you have heard the tales from the past few days, so I won't repeat them to darken the morning. One thing we must remember is that Jesus did warn us that the love of many will grow cold in the last days. I think the verse is Matthew 24:12 - "And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold." Let's see...quick check of Blue Letter Bible and, yes, I am not quite right as usual. I remembered 'will increase', but Jesus said 'will be increased'. A minor difference or something profound? What I remember would be prophecy enough, but the words of Jesus speak of a bit more. For lawlessness to be increased speaks of an outside pressure or opportunity, such as a breakdown of civil government. In our case, perhaps because someone foreclosed on it. I'm trying to make light of it, but it isn't all that funny. One day we might be surprised how quickly things get lawless even in the communities we think we know.

This week in our life group Bible study, we begin the part of Revelation where we start to find out what will happen in the end. Oh dear! How bad does it get? Very bad... for the world. For us? We have a great hope arriving soon and all the lawlessness of the end times cannot stop Him from coming for us!

Love your neighbor today! Bucky

Friday, November 25, 2011

Held Up For the World To Gloat

Good Friday morning! Whew, I have waded through the "Black Friday" e-mails and sent them where they belong. One small victory to start the day! For those of you already out enduring the lines and traffic, you have my sympathy. Practice your patience and lovingkindness this morning! How did your Thanksgiving feast go yesterday? I couldn't eat the evening meal. There just didn't seem to be a need for it. Sounds like what the Thanksgiving feast is supposed to do. My thanks also to Ric and Cheryl for hosting the feast this year. I saw some others going on around my neighborhood too. Other neighbors had obviously gone somewhere to share Thanksgiving dinner and perhaps the traditional football games. Did you see our famous Husker alum get ejected in the Detroit-Green Bay game? Not a good thing at all.

Whether his actions have been misinterpreted as he claims, or the result of his losing control of his emotions, we can take a lesson from that. The players in the NFL are trained to play with emotion and use emotion. However, this can backfire when emotions get out of control. Large, physically-powerful men can do a lot of damage even to each other out on the football field, let alone what might happen if you or I wandered out onto the playing area. How does one control his or her emotions before we do damage to another person?

The first answer that we can all use and should use is prayer. We must pray for control of our own emotions. Self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians. We can also pray for others, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ. Now if someone is calling on 'the man upstairs' as our football player did yesterday, then I very much want to pray for him. As Christians we can make mistakes in ways the world loves to point out and hold up to gloat over. It is sometimes amusing and sometimes tragic that Christians are expected to model perfect moral behavior at all times, and yet we are the ones who have admitted before the cross of Jesus that we are sinners and need the grace of God! Pray earnestly for our brothers and sisters in Christ. You never know when one of us might be next in line to make a mistake in front of the world.

Enjoy the holiday weekend! Bucky

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Day of Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving! Today we give thanks to God! There are many possible devotional subjects each day, but on this day I must write of gratitude. One way to show how much we love our God is to thank Him. We should strive each day to show our gratitude spontaneously, but how does one develop a talent that does not come naturally? As sinners we find that gratitude does not come easily. On the other hand as followers of Christ, the Holy Spirit will grow His fruit in us as we grow in Christ. Gratitude to God is one of those fruits of the Spirit that will grow and grow as we are watered with the living water.

In place of launching into a lengthy lesson on gratitude, I will take today to simply be thankful. As the Holy Spirit grows this gratitude in me, I want to show off my gratitude more and more! I am thankful for what I have, but even more thankful for who I have in my life. I am thankful to God for who I am, but even more thankful for who He will make me in His own perfect time. I am thankful to God for the love of Jesus, and even more thankful for the love that saved so many. Although I struggle with it daily, I am grateful that God does not see me as a problem to be fixed, but as a person to be loved.

Perhaps that is my lesson for this day of thankfulness: to see my brothers and sisters in Christ as persons to be loved and not as problems to be fixed. What is more, to do the same in my very own mirror.

Thank you God for this day of gratitude! Bucky

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Just Before Thanksgiving

Good Wednesday morning! Well, the holiday of giving thanks to God, not just giving thanks as I hear too often in the media, is upon us at last. People are traveling already to visit relatives and friends, turkeys are being stuffed, deserts prepared, and pumpkin pie season is open. The bag limit on pumpkin pies has been raised this year; you may hunt them to near extinction this weekend. We celebrate the day, but we also celebrate the reason for the day - expressing our gratitude to the Almighty, our God and our Provider. What a great day to put God first in our hearts and just give thanks to Him. A lot of work goes into Thanksgiving, both in preparation and in earning the provision, but without God all of that would not be possible. In giving our thanks, we also acknowledge that we are dependent upon God alone in this life.

God has provided to us the ability to work and earn money. We buy our Thanksgiving stuff with that money. We prepare the stuff with more work that God has provided us the ability to perform. And finally we sit down together to give our thanks and enjoy the feast. Did you ever think that enjoying the feast is also a form of giving thanks to God? How rude would it be to sit down at a feast provided by God and start a fast right there on the spot? Your human host would be upset at such treatment, and I'm certain that God would be too. Thank God for the feast and enjoy!

Have a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving!


Pray today for those enduring difficult times and tough decisions.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Not Worthy, so I Take it out on Poor Will

Good Tuesday morning! With coffee mug empty, I greet thee this fine dawn. I wonder if Shakespeare ever started out that way? Perhaps not. Behold! The light doth passeth the window pane; the muggeth be emptied into the man! In humble jest we do mocketh our forbears; in laughter we doth taketh our easeth. Hoo boy, hook up the generator to old Will Shakespeare, his body in the grave would generate a potent current this morning. Some mornings when I sit down to write, other than having my first cup of coffee, I am not sure where to start. Often I begin in prayer, and when nothing comes right away I turn to clowning around with words. Shakespeare fans might wish that I wouldn't-est, but there it is.

Last night I heard a small anecdote about a profound lesson. The lesson was simply: Jesus loves me. This I know. For the Bible tells me so. Just the first lines from the childhood song we learned so long ago. What does the Bible say to us on this and why is it so profound? God hates sin; we are all sinners. Sin incurs a penalty and God's justice demands that penalty be paid. Jesus came from Heaven to pay the penalty for us. He rose again from the grave after paying the penalty for our sin on the cross. God loved us so much that His Son died to save us. Only the greatest love can explain the cross. Jesus loves me. This I now know. For the very word of God tells me the entire story of God's great love for those who will believe in Jesus Christ. We deserve eternal death, but Jesus bought us eternal life.

When I examine myself, I don't see a person worth God's love. But the proof has already been written in the Bible, God's own word, I cannot deny that fact. Therefore, I am only made worthy through God's love in Christ. Not from any deed or thought of mine does God love me. His love I cannot earn; His grace is freely given. I am unworthy, but Jesus did not base his actions on my worth. Jesus loves me; this I will claim!

Enjoy the love of Jesus today,

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Superpower of Prayer

Good Monday morning! Thanksgiving week is here! You may need a superpower to be thankful on a Monday so have some prayer this morning. That's right, the one superpower that we all have immediate access to at any time of the day or night is the power of prayer. Does that mean a simple mention of the name of Jesus will get us anything we want? Not necessarily, but sometimes those "I wants" don't seem quite so important when we bring them to God in prayer. Many a time I have found something I thought I wanted oh-so-bad to be not that important after a little bit of prayer about that thing. That 'thing' has never been limited to material possessions either. The thing might be the desire to see a person to tell him something that day. A little prayer does not make the person any less important to me, but the meeting might be able to wait for a day or two as the Holy Spirit reminds me to consider the situation of the other fellow. A bit of selfishness does sometimes keep our prayer from rising as it should.

Selfishness in prayer is a bit like a heavy lid on top of the bread pan. Why won't that dough rise? You pop off that heavy lid of selfishness and find that your bread dough has been trying to rise and is in fact all squooshed up against the lid. (Heh, I got to use 'squooshed' this morning!) The superpower of prayer is muted by our selfishness. We cannot take off and fly in prayer when the dumbbells of selfishness are strapped to our feet. Selfishness in prayer is a long list of 'I wants'; super power in prayer is asking God what He wants. Selfishness in prayer is all about me; super power in prayer is bringing up the needs of that other person. Each of us will have supplications to bring before God. Not a problem with that, but maybe those requests can wait until after we listen to God or talk over the spiritual condition of a loved one with Him. We have access to this superpower, but we don't always use it well.

Sometimes when I am in pain of some sort, i might send up a prayer that is all about my hurting. I can imagine after those times the Holy Spirit making intercession for me and telling God, "He really isn't as selfish as he sounds tonight. It's just that he is caught up in the pain of the moment, sir." We do have an advocate in Jesus and an intercessor in the Holy Spirit. Our prayers, imperfect as the one making them, do not go to God without the influence of the Spirit within us. Want to think in terms of your superpower? Remember that when you pray, you and the Holy Spirit are praying to God together. You are listening to God with the Spirit, making intercession for others with the Spirit, and making supplication for yourself with the Spirit. How can God not listen to His own Holy Spirit? Prayer, the super power we all have in us!

Be grateful for today in Christ!


Friday, November 18, 2011

Imagination Beast!

Good Friday morning! Walking in a forested area, far from the noise of civilization, you stop breathing the air. Wait, no, that should be: you stop, breathing the air. One little comma missing and suddenly you're a goner. The forest surely is a dangerous place! One time I was pursued through a forest by a killer squirrel. That isn't what my imagination thought the noises were of course. I had visions of pursuing bears, mountain lions, and maybe a stray yeti or two. Little noises in a quiet place can take on a whole new meaning. An imagination can be a treacherous beast too. Some of the most hair-raising and pulse-quickening moments in my life have come purely through an assault on me by my own imagination.

An imagination can be like living with a partially obedient lion. Sometimes I get together with my lion and produce stories of fiction that are fun to write and fun to read. At night I ride my lion through a dream world. Other times the lion is feeling peevish and rips me to shreds with visions of spooks, dangers, pain, and other things that will never happen. My lion is not by any means a tame beast.

God has given me a rich imagination. Because of Adam's curse, that imagination doesn't always serve me well. It's kind of like my relationship with God. I do well sometimes, but other times I rebel. I want to do what is right all of the time, but sin seems to be always ready to pounce on me. That isn't quite right either, because I am the one who decides to sin after entertaining temptation as an honored guest instead of fleeing from or resisting it as I should. Sin doesn't really pounce on me, it sends temptation to knock on the door first. I open the door thinking maybe that it's Jesus again, but he is already inside warning me to send temptation packing. I am like the overly polite host who cannot say 'no'. "Let's see what he has to say first!" Temptation is like that pushy salesman of course and he immediately shoves a foot in the door and spreads out a nice brochure to accompany his fast talking. The more I listen to temptation, the more likely it is that Jesus will be forgotten in the kitchen while I entertain temptation out back. That is about the time that temptation convinces me to let Sin in the door too. Fallen once more.

Like many things in this fallen world: money, possessions, jobs, and time, to name a few, a good imagination can be a good servant, but it makes for an evil master. An imagination can help you craft a good song or a fun story, but it can also place spooks in the closet, boogies under the bed, and the worst possible scenarios in your head. Let Jesus be the master, we all gave our lives to Him, and let the Master teach us how to control that imagination beast.

Have a lovely Friday in Christ Jesus!


Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Prayer Over Anxiety

Dear God the Almighty One,
Please forgive me for coveting imaginary terrors,
from a future I cannot see,
from a past already written,
and a day not yet begun.

Forgive me Lord for not trusting in your strength,
and for leaning on the weakened crutch that is my own ability.

Thank you, Lord, for guiding me and growing me
in your wisdom and discernment.
Thank you for turning anxious thoughts
to praise and joy for my Savior and Comforter.

Bring on the day as I sing songs of your glory
and think thoughts of the glorious future
you have written for me and those whom I love.

In the precious and powerful name of Jesus I pray

It's God's Fault!

Good Thursday morning! Did you get up blaming God for something today? I did, and I kind of like it. I'll give you a moment to gasp and wonder when the smiting will come down upon me... Okay, I told the Lord that it was His fault that I am not the same as I used to be. Praise and glory to God the Almighty, but I have been changed over the years as I have come to know Jesus more and given over those parts of my old life that still cling. You can say the same thing if you believe in Jesus. We can 'blame' God for changing us to be more like His Son. The world does not know us anymore. We also don't understand how the world cannot see the light of Jesus shining in the darkness.

The self-improvement programs I start all on my own and in my own strength seem to go nowhere. What I have tried to change is still the same. Of course, I try to change the outside. God works from the inside and His work goes forward. My work tends to go forward a little, turn around, jump off the tracks, halt, back up, and end up right back where I began the work. If I were a sword, I would jump into the fire too soon, jump out because it felt too hot, burn whatever I landed on, jump in the water before my metal was ready, and succeed only in making a useless lump of metal with all sorts of scorch marks on it. As we know, God is the master craftsman and Creator. If God wants to make me into a sword for His kingdom, then I will be made into the perfect sword. Best to let Him do the crafting in His perfect time.

You know it, and I know it, but we also know that I keep trying to tell God how to get the job done. Imagine the sword shouting up to the master sword maker, "No, no, this way, do it this way! I feel too hot! No, not in there!" Whatever will cause me to learn to let God change me from the inside with changes that will last? When will I learn? I guess the answer to that question will arrive at the same time that I learn to give the self-improvement up to God and leave the improving to the One who knows all.

Enjoy the new day in Christ!


Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Good Wednesday morning! Praise unto the Lord, our God and Savior! As we approach Thanksgiving, I like to recall as many gratitudes as I can. I see that by the spell checker that 'gratitude' has no plural. I disagree; we should be able to have lots of gratitudes and bring them all before God! If you wonder how the English language got so messed up, this would be one clue: writers messing around with words until a person trying to learn American English has no chance of understanding what we are talking about. On the other hand, many of our wonderful words would not be with us if our ancestors had been too conservative with the English language. So as the holiday of grateful attention to God's blessings approaches, I might just take the time to list my gratitudes on paper!

Have a grateful day in Christ!


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

No Hovering Allowed!

Good Tuesday morning! Today we float down over Peetz Place and hover over the home of Marla and Jeff: world-famous agent and supposedly retired person respectively. The home sits on a partially wooded lot and is in the style of a California bungalow from the 1920's. However, we don't know what is going on inside that home. You might be familiar with the furnishings, all of us might be able to guess at what is going on from the time of day, but we don't absolutely know what is going on there. As Jeff reads this we might be able to see the phenomenon called the 'creeps' beginning up his spine as he realizes that several dozen people are hovering outside his home trying to stare into his privacy. We might even chuckle a bit as he drops his coffee mug on his slippered foot. Ouch!

Okay, so we can't really hover over someones home in an effort to find out what they are up to on a cool autumn morning. We assume that our Christian brothers and sisters are not actually plotting our ruin in the privacy of their homes. I can write up a little Twilight Zone kind of intro to a story, but I cannot know as God knows what happens inside of homes unless I go in, preferably through knocking and an invitation to enter. Even if one of us goes into our friends' homes, we cannot know what is going on inside their hearts. Is he thinking, "Gads, where did these people come from? How soon can I get rid of them and go back to the football game?"? Hmm, I'm thinking, "How do you punctuate a quoted question?"

The point of the fun and games, other than to point out my lack of punctuational professionalism of course, is to point out how much God knows about each of us. You can stand outside of my home and stare in all you like, but you will not be able to see everything going on inside (nor would you want to). We may get a sense of shame in realizing that God can see everything, but we shouldn't. God created us. He knows more about us than anyone. The little cellular processes going on all the time in our bodies are known by God. If you or I were to suddenly become aware of every little process keeping us alive right now our minds would be overwhelmed with the knowledge. Yet, all of it, the good and the bad, the righteous acts and the sin, that is known by God does not prevent His love for us.

God loves you; love Him back!


Monday, November 14, 2011

Religious Fundamentalist Extremist Nut!

Good Monday morning! Did you enjoy the sudden wind on Saturday night? The wind snapped a little sign in my yard right off at the ground. Things fell over outside, downspouts hit the deck with a bang, and sleep fled far away for a while. Thoughts of that castle tempted me once more... do you suppose anyone would build a genuine stone castle for a couple hundred bucks? Probably not. The house held up, though at times the sound gave cause to fear otherwise, but I began to think about the things we think are solid in this world. Economies are apparently all tied together now. If one country goes bust, the media delights in telling us that ours will too. Governments appear pretty much dysfunctional all over the world and, lo and behold, it seems that families are too. We eat too much of this, too little of that, our strength is too weak, our speed too slow, our height to low, and our depth too shallow. Just give up on the world, ain't no sense in being here on a Monday anyway.

Wow, I kind of sound like one of Garfield's totally miserable Mondays. Ha, ha! I know that I am too little or too much of many things the world considers precious. I wonder how long those standards will hold up when the Tribulation arrives and God decides to knock down so much that the world believes to be strong and lasting. The end times of this world are all about removing the false hopes of the world and bringing in the final hope of Jesus Christ. University research labs will have no solution to a plague of demons; wealthy athletes will not be strong enough to outrun worldwide judgments; and the strongest buildings will be flattened by enormous earthquakes. Who or what will the world believe in then? I wonder if God will line up His judgments on Mondays? That's kind of a mean thought. Shame on me for thinking of that on a Monday before you all go in to work. So why am I snickering over my coffee?

Obviously, I believe that the predictions in the Bible are going to happen. Does that make me a religious fundamentalist extremist nut? To some, well, yes, they would put me in that category. Before we get to the dire judgments poured out in Revelation, we get to a promise that God is not willing that anyone should perish. Love comes before judgment, and we know that God's judgment is sure and certain. What then does that make God's love?

Make your choice, the time of the end is soon!


Friday, November 11, 2011

Good Veteran's Day!

Good Veteran's Day to you! Goals are important; goals are fine, but God is in charge of me and mine. At times we may come to realize that a goal is not going to be met or perhaps is not even possible for us to fulfill. The day we set the goal we knelt down in prayer and asked God's blessing on our goal setting. We listened as the Holy Spirit guided our steps, and we set that goal. Now, months later, that goal looks impossible. What went wrong? It may be that nothing at all went wrong.

We do not know all of God's ways and plans. It seems odd to say it from my worldly trained point of view, but there may be times in your life that God's goal for you was only to go part way down some path to a goal you set. The lesson God wanted you and me to learn may not lie at the end of our goal. We grow up with the thinking that every goal must be met, every dream is possible (in our own strength no less!), all the riches and fame will come to those who work hard enough. Then the childhood dreams, the teenage goal setting, and the idle wishes begin to fall one by one. What did that child do wrong? Again, perhaps the child did nothing at all wrong.

When we come to Christ and give up control of the life we have so bounded by goals, dreams, and wishes, He may have different plans for us. Plans that are not bounded by what we think is possible or even necessary to accomplish. One command of Jesus comes to mind: "Abide in me..." Just abide, that's all? My dictionary has an old use for abide: live in a place. Simply live in Jesus? There it is. No list of what must be done today or tomorrow. No long range plans or grand goals; just abide in Christ.

Goals are good and plans are great when we bring them to God. We will accomplish great things in Christ as we live in Him. However, if that one goal you cherished is not going to happen, or just seems like it may not happen, remember that Jesus the Christ has not changed. His love for you and me is still of overwhelming potency. His grace has not stopped working like one of our machines. His faithfulness is still what we can fully trust in. Praise the name of our Lord Jesus!


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ceremony and Beginning

Happy Birthday! Today is the 236th birthday of the United States Marine Corps! We like stable things: nations that have been around for centuries, buildings that have lasted for decades or more, people who have been around for decades... Okay, sometimes we forget to appreciate the old folks. But we do like some stability in this chaotic life. How much do you appreciate the cross today? We don't know exactly when some Romans cut down a couple of trees and made one particular cross, but we do know that Jesus died on that cross. The wood of that same cross has probably long since rotted away, or perhaps God is saving it for a place of honor; but honor and remember the cross we do.

The cross did not at first become a symbol of the Christian faith. We started out with the sign of the fish, as in fishers of men. The fish went out of style so much that you might at first be mistaken for a fan of fish fishing when you wear the fish sign these days. The cross took over about 3 or 4 hundred years after the time of Christ. The cross is much older than many of the things we celebrate, such as most nations and organizations. The cross is not as old as some things like the pyramids of Egypt, some other nations, and your mother-in-law. However, how much the cross has aged is not the point. What happened on the cross is a part of it, but who died on the cross and rose again from death is more important still.

As I get older, and that seems to happen to most of us, I find a better appreciation for stability and other old things. I can remember trying to find ways to get out of celebrations and such when I was younger. Standing around for a ceremony, especially when ordered to do so, seemed like such a waste of time. These days a proper ceremony seems to be needed to commemorate these things. The ceremony might be just one or two of us, or even a few more, or something with thousands that I have to watch on the telly, but a ceremony is a good thing. A few important ceremonies will come our way soon. The holy day of Thanksgiving when we take a special day to show our gratitude to God; the Christmas holy day when we remember the birth of Christ, and the day of Christ's resurrection that we call Easter.

On some days we remember the end of something, like we will on Friday for World War I, and other times we remember the beginning like we do at Christmas. The cross was the beginning of something too - the day when our sins were paid for by Jesus and we became free to accept the grace of God. That is quite a beginning!


Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Feel a Bit Whiney?

Good Wednesday morning! Bright, sunny morning here; the storm missed entirely and now we can enjoy the aftermath without the math. Sounds just wondermous! The roof is finished and the cats have calmed down once more. I think that the valley of death's shadow must sound like six men with hammers pounding on your roof with no sense of rhythm or melody. The cats would agree with me on that one! The wood frame construction of the homes we have does not lead one to substitute words like 'fortress' or 'castle', nope just ain't gonna happen. A man's home is the one that creaks in a stout breeze? Nope, doesn't have the same ring to it. Yet we count ourselves blessed because a thatched hut would stand up to even less, and a bed on the bare ground is not good even for sleeping most of the time.

A blessed life is a contented life. I don't mean that contentment that comes from tallying up the disadvantages either. Realizing or rationalizing that a castle is not desirable because castles are expensive to heat is not really contentment. Not wanting a bigger house because bigger houses are too much to clean is a poor kind of contentment too. How are we to become content then if finding disadvantages to some other situation is off limits? We can start with God. Are you content with God? I kind of feel guilty for even writing or thinking such a thing! However, I know that God is quite above my little questions. I cannot make our Lord any less than He is simply by asking the wrong questions. How can you and I not be content with the Almighty, all-knowing, all-powerful, all-present, and all-wonderful Creator of the heavens and the earth? Well, He gave us the curse and it is so hard to live under.

God took care of that too! Salvation, freely given by grace through faith in Christ Jesus, is ours for the asking. We didn't earn it, can't buy it, don't have the strength of will to achieve it, and are in all ways unqualified to even claim it. Yet, Jesus died for our sins that we might have it freely. Complain against God? Shame on me for even having such thoughts in my little brain! Yet, God will answer our complaints, even those that we shouldn't have, and gave us His Word that we might read of other times when our heroes of the faith didn't feel or act very heroically. Paul didn't like his thorn in the flesh and wanted God to remove it. Peter probably didn't like putting his foot in his mouth several times, and he might wonder if we need to tell that bit about the rooster and the three denials in so many sermons. In our lives we might think or do the wrong things at times. We might even come up with a major whining complaint against God at some point. Don't try to hide it; bring it before God and let Him answer the charge. Above all, let the Holy Spirit comfort you. Jesus didn't send the Comforter because we are going to feel good all the time.

Have a blessed day in Christ, and listen to the comfort of the Comforter!


Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The Island of Despair

Good Tuesday morning! The island of despair, have you ever been there? I heard another sad story on the radio last night and once again it had that thing in common. The one the devil very much wants us to think about our own particular problem or condition - no one knows what this is like but me, poor pitiful me. The 'It's only me' symptom has been used by despairing folks for as long as problems have been around I'm sure. I have used it before. You may have too. The devil wants us out there on that island of despair wailing about how alone we are. How the devil must have whooped it up when Jesus said those very similar words on the cross. But... then... Jesus gave up his precious soul to who? God! Out on that island of despair we too have a realization. Jesus has not left us alone. Though the friends in this world seem to have gone off their own way, Jesus is here! When even the spouse you love seems to be ignoring the problem, perhaps because you are hoarding it, the Savior knows all about the problem and is there with comfort. Alone? Never!

The words of Jesus, a promise to hold tightly: "I will never leave you nor forsake you, even unto the end of the age..." Have a great day with Jesus!


Monday, November 07, 2011

An Odd Dance

Good Monday morning! Another winter storm headed our way this evening. The bulk of it is supposed to go further south, but be careful just in case. Hmm, how many just-in-cases have you already pondered this morning? Some of us have a love of anxieties that exceeds even human reasoning. We fret about things that might happen, imagine things that won't happen, and even throw in a few things that might have happened in the past had this or that gone a bit differently. The latter one is the most ridiculous of all, yet we tend to entertain a few visions like that. Praise God that His Holy Spirit is developing a stop sign in my mind.

You might call this stop sign discipline, or self-control, or the control of Jesus in my life. All of these relate to the same thing: the fruit of the Holy Spirit that is growing in my life. When the diabolical self tries to descend into that maelstrom of anxiety, the big stop sign is held up. I believe that I am getting better at holding it up sooner in the process too. Do I give myself a pat on the back for this? No, the glory and credit belongs to God in this. I am powerless on my own to stop these things. Much like a person with a phobia, I need intervention at the perfect time. And who better than the indwelling Holy Spirit to teach me this self-control!

You may have a phobia yourself, or you know someone who has one. I am not talking about fearing spiders more than bees, or height more than depth, but the real full-blown, flee-the-room kind of phobia that is more uncommon. I have come to realize that doing an odd version of the funky chicken dance when a bee or wasp takes a strange interest in me is not all that uncommon. Stopping suddenly or even immediately and taking an involuntary step back when first seeing a snake is probably a good cautionary reaction and not a phobia. Some folks suffer from real phobias. A spider in the room can cause immediate flight or a snake on the ground can cause a panic attack. The fear reaction is much more than it should be; we might even go so far as to call it unreasonable, though there may be a good reason in the person's past. This anxiety thing is much the same, unreasonable and much more than it should be.

On the other hand, I have come to think that shame does not need to be added in to do its insidious work. All of us have grave clothes that need to be given up to the Holy Spirit and laid at the foot of the cross. Jesus has raised us from the spiritually dead and now we need to stand and let the command of our Lord be carried out. You know the one, Jesus said it to those watching Lazarus hobble out of the grave bound in his grave clothes: "Release him and let him go!" Stand and let the Holy Spirit release you from the grave clothes of your past life. Phobias, anxieties, bad habits, dependencies, worries, and much more must be given up in favor of our new life in Christ. And if you see me doing an odd dance outside sometime, just know that some buzzing insect caught me off guard, or maybe its just part of some new fad workout I'm trying.

Have a wonderful and blessed Monday!


Friday, November 04, 2011

Why Do We Do That?

Good Friday morning! Just learned last night that someone is not coming to see us as planned. No problem then, two weeks of devotionals about treachery, betrayal, breaking faith, and general wimpyness coming up! Just kidding, we all have obligations that at times will interfere with what we want to do. You may hear sermons that tell of what God wants us to do, slaves of (or in) Christ, bond servants and others that don't sound like a whole lot of fun. We tend to come before God expecting that what He will want us to do will rank right up there with grazing out of dumpsters or sleeping in the pig pen. Why do we approach our mission in that way before we even know what the mission will be?

Imagine that a young man has grown up with a particular talent for playing the piano. He not only has received the best training, but he also very much enjoys what he does well. One day the young man receives Jesus into his heart and asks that question we all ask - what now Lord? However, in this young man's mind is the dreadful thought that surely the Lord God Almighty is going to assign him to the hammer testing line at a local factory. He even prepares for this by meeting the old hands, or at least what's left of them. Stumpy, Lefty, One-hand Joe, Paddle-fingered Pete, and the entire crew are glad to meet the new prospect. You might think this completely ridiculous.

Surely the young man is listening to the whispers of the Devil. God would never train up a young man like that and then destroy his talent in that way. We don't know everything that God may or may not do. The young man's talent may be the pride that stands in the way of his sanctification. What is more likely though is that God has a use for that piano player. Perhaps he will play in a far country where music has not been heard. He may, horror of horrors, actually be called to continue on doing exactly what he loves to do, only now he will do it for the Lord's glory! Don't laugh, you have probably feared something very nearly as ridiculous as that little fiction of mine. I know I have fallen into this temptation.

Trusting in the Lord may lead you into doing something for a living that you very much enjoy doing. Now there's a thought for the day!


Thursday, November 03, 2011

Admitting the Truth

Good Thursday morning! Oh my, ice on the windows, cold on the outside, it's like winter here this morning! Have you ever denied the truth of something in this life? Coming to the Lord to admit that I am wrong can be a tough thing to do. It can be especially tough when the wrong-headed thing has gone on for a long time. For some months and perhaps years now, I have told God that I didn't want to do something. I have repented in words and asked forgiveness, but yet I still say that I don't want to do this anymore. So why do I continue to do it?

First, I realized just this morning that a part of me does want to do this. You might recall the words of Paul in Romans 7 on this subject. Why did I think that I was better than the great apostle? I must first admit to God that a part of me does indeed want to do exactly what the spiritual part of me does not. C.S. Lewis defined three parts of man: the spiritual, the animal, and the diabolical. The animal is where the desires are for sex, eating, sleeping, and others that we call natural wants and desires spring from. The diabolical is that part that wants to rebel against God's law. The spiritual is the part that realizes that something is missing from us before we are saved in Christ. After salvation, when the hole in the spiritual is filled by God's Holy Spirit, the battle begins in earnest.

The animal desires are in themselves not good or evil. When the diabolical part of us teams up with the animal to produce adultery, fornication, gluttony, greed, and so on, we end up in sin. The spiritual can also team up with the animal and we can enjoy a social night with friends, have sex in marriage, earn money to provide for the family, and other actions that are not sin. The hard part can be admitting our imperfection to God and saying that we do have these animal desires the same as the sinner down the block does. I want to be perfect before Christ now! But I must come to God and admit that I am not.

Honesty in our prayers can be undermined by the diabolical in us. Admitting to God that I have the same animal desires and diabolical rebellion that everyone else does is the start of healing and cleansing. I cannot cleanse myself, that is the work of God's Holy Spirit, but admitting the truth opens the doors to those locked rooms in my heart that need the Spirit's cleansing touch. The diabolical nature in me where pride dwells might try to tell me that I am better than that, but God's word tells me that I am not better than anyone else. We all need the salvation of Christ and the sanctification of the Spirit!

Go with God today,


Wednesday, November 02, 2011

A Light

Good Wednesday morning! Trying to get past the almost painful whiteness of the new G-mail compose screen. Ouch! I'll have to check into dimming that glow just a bit. That kind of makes me wonder how dim my glow might be. Has my initial flame in Christ kind of sputtered a little? How can I tell? We don't want to be like the church that became lukewarm, but how do we measure our spiritual brightness? This may not be something that I can see on my own. Can a flashlight measure its own light? Unless the light is reflected off something else, the light has no way to tell how it is doing. This may be related to the question of why we need each other. After all, wouldn't Jesus alone be sufficient? Do we need to walk with anyone else?

If I shine my light at Jesus there is no reflection; I only see His great light. Jesus does not reflect our glory; we are made to reflect His. I must shine my light out into the darkness. Once in a while, I will see my light reflected. We meet our brothers and sisters in Christ at times and then we can see a reflection of our lamps. Other times we might see a little glimmer as the Good News is received by a person lost in that darkness. We hope to point that person to the true Light of the World.

There is a lot of metaphorical stuff going on in the devotional this morning. I hope that I don't lose myself in it. As Christians we have been made clean in Christ. A lot like the new snow, we are white and cleansed by our Lord. However, the snow under the cloudy skies is much easier to look at than that same snow when the sun shines on it directly. The closer we get to Jesus, the more our light will shine. So much that the world may one day have trouble looking at us so bright will be the light of Jesus in our faces. Stephen, the first martyr, became that way just before the world stoned him. The world wants to shut out that painful Light, but let us go forth and shine!

God be with you!


Tuesday, November 01, 2011

His Strength, not Mine

Good Tuesday morning! Yesterday I wished you a happy Halloween. Today, with much greater feeling, praise God it's over for another year! Late in the evening one in a veritable parade of little Scream ghosts came trudging up the sidewalk. Moving slowly, head down, obviously worn out, if they had used this one in the movies no one would have been frightened in the least bit. By that time I was dragging a bit myself. Just before that, one candy-grabber had commented how tired of walking he was, but I noticed that he had not stopped yet. This morning I had the thought that at the end of this life we should be in the same shape. Dragging slowly over the finish line, obviously worn out, but still going as long as any unsaved persons remain. We just cannot stop while we have life and breath left in our poor old bodies. Doesn't that just sound easier for kids to do?

As we get older, working to the point of exhaustion just seems to be so much less desirable. Nothing is worth that anymore, certainly not a bag of candy. The body doesn't recover as quickly; the pain in the joints seems like it will never heal. Praise God there are other ways to serve the Kingdom! If salvation for the unsaved depended upon a bunch of older Christians running two marathons each day, the unsaved persons would probably be doomed. Only in God's strength could any of us run one marathon tomorrow, much less two. Wait a minute... maybe that is the key, God's strength. We see how much God's strength is needed in that absurd example, and yet why do we think that our faltering weakness is the only thing that holds us to the narrow path to the promised land? Jesus doesn't walk beside us just for the conversation, ya know!

The only way to finish this race strong is in Christ. Your strength, my strength, it ain't gonna happen! We need to have the Holy Spirit in us, Jesus beside us, the hand of God upholding us to finish this race. You and me do not have it in us to finish or even go in the right direction when we depend only on our own strength. We need Jesus and we need Him all the time. Praise God that His strength is made glorious in my weakness, because I certainly have plenty of that!

Have a wonderful new day in Christ!