Friday, August 31, 2012

Worries And Really Fast Spiders

It's 0651 on the somewhat lower High Plains of Colorado. Seems kind of strange to write that state instead of the old one. It's a little odd too that this part of Colorado is actually lower in elevation than where I was in Nebraska. Isn't Colorado supposed to be all mountain peaks and such, mile-high cities and those kind of things? I guess every state has to have a drain in the tub so to speak. We better leave that and just write away from it. Move on to a higher calling, if you will. I noticed yesterday that Julesburg has at least one really fast spider. Of course, with all the furniture and stuff that I moved down here, it could be an import too. I didn't even have time to think 'flyswatter' before this spider had vanished behind a desk. It explains some of the things I've been catching out of the corner of my eye in the past couple of days. Enough chit-chat for today.

The provisioning of the new home continues, and that brought me to thinking about the more mundane things of this Christian life. Jesus commanded us to not worry about food and clothing, and where these things will come from tomorrow. However, we do need to stock the pantry and we must work to earn the money, go to the grocery store, make a list (I sometimes do it in that order too.), pack the stuff in from the car and load the shelves. When tough times come, stocking a pantry shelf can be something we miss very much. Staring at an empty larder is not a good way to ease the worry about tomorrow!

Rejecting worry can be one of the more difficult things in life. We can look around us and find things to worry about, and if we conquer that worry then the news media outlets can give us a whole new batch of worries. I'm not sure the cat is fast enough to catch this spider, now that's something more to worry about. I am to think of my Sovereign Lord, and not dwell on the worrisome things of this world. Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend. I pray that God blesses us with some rain and cooler temperatures soon.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Beware The Power of the Sword

You have the power of God in your hands. Don't feel like that today? Examine the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Note its sharpness, sharper than any two-edged sword. Note how it divides spirit from flesh with ease. You have that power in your hands. Pray for the wisdom to use it wisely and gently. In our feeling of powerlessness, we can go too far and cut too deeply with our new found power. Scriptural quotes fall like sword blows on the defenseless unbeliever. Guilt feelings that we know too well are used to slice open the mind of the undefended and unsaved one. All we are asked to do is witness. The witness does not attack; he speaks his testimony from the witness stand. The lover of the unsaved does not seek to destroy the lost sheep, but to gently bring her to Jesus, the Good Shepherd.

Take care with this new and powerful weapon we now hold in our spiritual hands. Seek first the kingdom of God in prayer and supplication. Find the way to love before swinging the sword at your fellow man. Listen to the words of Paul and let your gentleness be known to all.

Sorry for the delay today. I still cannot begin a new e-mail in gmail. Any character typed in the compose pane sends me off to the ether somewhere. However, there may be a way around any problem, and today I found one for this particular conundrum. I only have two saved drafts though, if I use one today and one tomorrow, we could be done for if the problem persists.

Enjoy the hot afternoon. Yours in Christ Jesus,

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Would You Steal Paul's Place?

God gave to Paul a special place in the Christian canon. We read the doctrine of grace in Romans and the definition of love in Corinthians. Joy is put forward in Philippians and the final words of the great man in 2 Timothy. In all of that, Paul also claimed the chief place among sinners. We do not get to believe in love, joy and grace, but then steal his place as the chiefest and worst of sinners. I like that Paul is the worst of sinners though. Jesus saved the worst of sinners, so that means the rest of us can be saved as well. I would not take the place of the man who met Jesus on the road to Damascus. That story speaks of a sharp conversion to a new life. Perhaps my life conversion seems dull by comparison, but then, I didn't make my living hunting down followers of Jesus and dragging them out of their homes. If the man who made it his life's mission to destroy the new church could be turned around to write Romans, Corinthians and the other epistles, then there is hope for a lesser sinner like me.

Our hope is found in Jesus Christ, but if as unbelievers we need a more earthly example first, then the story of Paul does quite nicely. Jesus never sinned. As an unbeliever, I had trouble relating to that. However, Saul of Tarsus sinned a lot, and even took it upon himself to destroy this new Way. Paul before the meeting on the way to Damascus was someone we can understand. Paul had religion, and he practiced it with the t's crossed and the i's dotted. And He was totally in the wrong. Most of us can relate to that too. Then, Jesus got Paul's attention in a big way. Some of us needed an attention grabber too.

Some looked up from the gutter after a night of drinking. Others looked to Jesus after drugs led them to the emergency room. Many different tragedies in life can cause us to look up to our Savior and acknowledge Him as Lord. Our rebirth to a new life in Christ may not seem even in those events to be as dramatic as Paul's, but then, we aren't the worst of sinners. That place belongs to Saul of Tarsus, or as we know him, Paul the greatest of letter writers. If God can grab Paul and turn him around, the He has no problem getting me back on the right path. Blessed be the name of the Lord!


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

If You Make a Mess...

Good morning on this dark day. To grab a phrase from the great Tolkien, I speak no words of omen, the day is dark because I am up early. This morning, I get to clean up a mess. This activity naturally follows from making one. Now, you may try to get a wife or girlfriend to clean up your mess, or you may try to get a father or mother to clean up your mess, but if you make a mess, you most often get to clean up the mess. This mess cleaning should not be a duty of any one person unless pay is involved. Men, if you make messes and have your wife clean up after you, then fork over the appropriate amount of cash and do be generous in this endeavor. Most households in these days of dual working parents have some sort of division of labor. My cats and I have worked out a system where they make messes and I clean them up, but that is only normal with pet owners. The equity is that we get to call ourselves owners and then do all the cleanup work too. One of the more difficult tests of love can be to clean up a mess that you did not make.

Some are caregivers for enfeebled parents. My neighbor helps care for his wife who has dementia. Injury or disease may cause a person to lose the ability to care for himself. If insurance or family wealth does not allow for a paid staff of caregivers then the family members fill the need of the patient. Love may require us to clean up a mess not of our own making. Mothers know all about this sort of activity. God does too.

Adam made a mess when he joined his wife in rebellion against God. You and I were born into that mess. With His creation unable to clean up the mess, God sent His Son to do the job. On the cross, Jesus opened the way and then began cleaning up the mess through the Holy Spirit. Those reborn in Christ are still a bit of a mess. Even in our limited view we can see that not all is right with us. A moment of repentance, the blessing of salvation, or even the ceremony of baptism do not make us perfectly righteous in our behavior. Now, right standing with God is a different story, but those who follow Jesus do not always stay on the straight and narrow path. We have a mess and we are a mess, but Jesus is cleansing us over our lifetime. If a brother in Christ is taken home early in life, I kind of figure that he didn't need as much cleaning up as I do. Jesus will bring me home when He sees that I am ready and not when I think the time is right.

Praise God for the new day and, yes, for the ability, strength, and time to clean up the mess I made this morning.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Habba Gud Monday!

Acting silly and striving for clear communication can be at odds with each other. We strive to be clear in our communication with God, as though He were some sort of old geezer up in the sky that didn't always understand our new words. Perhaps if we spoke our prayers in the language of the King James version of the Bible, we might think, our prayers would get through better. Of course, taking it that far, you would be better off learning the ancient Hebrew of the Old Testament. Maybe then, God would speak personally to us as He did with Moses. We forget that Moses couldn't go to his bookshelf and take down the latest version of God's own word. Imagine the boldness he might have with a copy of the Exodus in hand. "Ho, ho, that Pharaoh is in for it! Hold my coffee, I'm going down to Egypt to kick Pharaoh's butt. Be right back with a couple million Israelites in just a jiffy, honey!"

We have the story of Moses to read in our Bibles. Moses had to live his own story with all of the doubts and fears that we can read still came with having a personal and audible conversation with God in the wilderness. We read God's word, and we too have our doubts and fears. However, God has given us His Holy Spirit to live in us. But more than that, His Spirit makes intercession for us with God. If any translation is needed in our prayers because we cannot find the right words, the Spirit will make it known before the throne. We need not fear that the urgency of our need is somehow getting lost in Heaven's old-fashioned telephone system. We may feel that the last message to God got misquoted somewhere, but we know from His word that is not the case, ever. "The Lord is at hand, be anxious for nothing." At hand speaks of the Lord's immediate closeness to us at all times. We don't have to shout to be heard by our Lord. We don't have to speak the prayer in a certain language or idiom. We only need to learn to trust in God's timing and provision in all things.

Have a great new week in Christ!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Meh, Why Wait!

Good Saturday morning! The cat is still on medium-high alert, but he is eating upstairs this morning. The weather is humid again; I seem to have moved to some sort of swamp. Perhaps this is the town's way of welcoming new persons. One morning, great things did happen on the third day. However, for me the third morning is not enough to judge the town's climate. Speaking of historical undertakings, in the days of the horse culture among the Plains Indians, a tribe could be packed up and underway in as little as a half hour or so. Today, we have advanced so far that any move of a modest household is a major undertaking requiring weeks of work. The best thing about moving is to sell all of your heavy stuff at a yard sale, and then laugh when someone else has to move it to another town. I just wish that I had come to that wisdom before I moved all that heavy stuff. Good news, I found the missing shelves late in the evening, then promptly chipped one placing it back in the cabinet.

Unpacking holds a compulsion for me that is difficult to shake. Everything simply must be put back in place as quickly as possible in these new quarters. Although I realize that any house on this earth is only a temporary assignment at best, I still tend to become attached to home. Hard moments include watching my friends in Christ drive back to Sidney on Wednesday evening, while I drove the other way. I moved only about 45 miles east, but still far enough to feel the sting of separation. One day, we won't have to endure great or small separations ever again. Praise God for the coming day!


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

You Bear Me Up

One of the great privileges of the Christian is to bear anothers burdens. I had difficulty on Sunday; you came to help me. Today, you may have the difficulty and I can help through writing, prayer, or presence in your time of trouble. We form into congregations to help each other build up the church. First we worship God, but that too builds up the church and we are strengthened to help each other through it. For us as believers in Christ, it is a great compliment to hear that phrase spoken in love, "You bear me up!" Quite the opposite of the world system where independent strength is rewarded.

You may have trouble accepting the encouragement and help of others. That is the way of the flesh and it is well-trained by the world. We like to have our own strength and resources. We don't want to need anyone. Christ takes the time to teach us that we need God first and our brothers and sisters in Christ second. Like Paul, a person may be called to the ministry without a mate, though that may not be God's path for all of us. However, all of us, single or married, need our friends in Jesus. We need to be born up by our brothers and sisters in the church. This need for help begins at the very start of our relationships in Christ when we need to be born again through faith in the Son of God. Not one thing can we do to save ourselves, only in Christ are we saved.

If you are feeling like the useless part of the body of Christ today, let me help you with that: You bear me up! And thank you for helping me in that.


Monday, August 20, 2012

It May Be A Humbling Experience

I have it under control. I can get this; it's really no big deal, Lord. We have said such things when still in the approach to the landing. However, the time arrives to land the plane and suddenly all the fears and doubts that were set aside before come back in full attack mode. You may find yourself completely unable to perform the necessary actions in your own strength. I had just such an experience a baptism no less.

'What is the big deal about a baptism?' you might ask. Walk down to the water, speak a few words about your salvation, get in with the pastor and let him take it from there, not a big thing at all. On the approach to the time and place, I would have agreed with you. However, when the moment arrived, my old demon arrived and ran his spear right through my side. I needed the prayers of many, my own prayers to the Lord, and finally the strength of our Lord to do the thing. I said that the process was almost more than a man can bear, and that is true in my case. Like a sheep trembling on the way to the shearing, I needed the Shepherd to lead me there. I could not bear it alone. This is not to say that there is something wrong in the process, but that there is something wrong in the sheep.

Like Paul, I have a thorn in my side that the Lord has not taken away. We do not know the exact nature of Paul's problem, but my own is labeled PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder. In a situation that many would find only mildly uncomfortable, I may be rendered nearly helpless. When some must climb a small hill to reach the summit, I am faced with a tall mountain. I don't want the church to change everything to accommodate me; I want God to take the problem away. However, my answer at this time seems to the same that Paul received from the Lord. The good news in this is that the Lord did lead me down to the water, gave me a few words to say, and we all got through the process. The mountain was climbed and the deed was done. The worries of yesterday were indeed sufficient in and of themselves for the day. God took me right to the breaking point, and then led me through it. Praise the Lord!


Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Better Day

Ah, the coolness of the morning. Not officially autumn yet, but certainly an indication that the seasons will soon change. It would be difficult under many circumstances to not look ahead to tomorrow. But for some of us, tomorrow is a baptism Sunday. If God is willing, He will also make me able. Tough day yesterday, something many of us expected yesterday did not happen. God's time table did not agree with my own in this case and we all know whose will is done when that conflict occurs. I can try to force an issue, but many things are simply out of my control. What makes God's time schedule better than my own? Hmm, let us look at that more closely.

God is all knowing: Every event both today and tomorrow He already knows and has ordained. I know little about today and even less about tomorrow. God holds the ultimate wisdom in His hands: The best timing for everything is known and held by God. I only think I know the best time for a few little things. God created the heavens and the earth; I struggle to rearrange some of God's raw materials now and then. God's Son is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end; I am only what God has created. God knows what is best for everyone involved in the event in question - even to the generations to come in this world. I sometimes think that I know what is best for me, and occasionally what may be best for a few others, and even that knowledge is questionable at best. I think we may be onto something in our little examination here. And that knowledge? Well, that knowledge is based on God's revelation too. Not too hard to figure out why God's outcome and timing is best in everything... once we come to believe in Jesus and listen to God's own Spirit.

Praise the name of the Lord!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Waiting For The Big News

I know that you are all waiting for the big news, but so far none has arrived. Hmm, kind of sounds like I'm expecting a child or something. Nope, just the news that one house is closing and the big move to the other. What is my job in this? Of course, we know that putting faith into action requires that I do as much as I can to get ready, to be ready, and to wait upon the Lord. After that, I wait. Waiting for the Lord's time does not involve fretting over things that have not happened or worrying myself with thoughts of this scary thing or that unlikely possibility. As I stood in my former kitchen looking across empty rooms and clean carpets, I thought that waiting is always an opportunity to come closer to God in thought and prayer. It is also a time that can be used to increase worry and fear to unbearable levels. We always have that choice and so often we take the dark side of things and follow the wrong path for a while.

I cannot move this real estate thing along any faster. What must be done now is out of my hands. This is an opportunity to have faith and trust completely in the Lord. A government office is involved, but trying to interfere could only make things worse. Praying my needs to God with thanksgiving on the other hand gives me an opportunity to show who I have faith in. Hint: it ain't the bureau-cats in far away offices. Speaking of cats, each morning I have taken the time to pray over the cat that is in the basement... the empty, bare, and uncomfortable basement. I invite him to join me in prayer and I can only hope that his offering to the Lord will help. Then we wait. Do you like being powerless to do anything to move something along? Me neither.

I don't know why though. For I know that the world and its powers are much too large for me to move. I know that God is all-powerful and mighty to act on my behalf. Yet, that flesh wants to be in control, and it does not like to wait on the Lord. The flesh lies, for it cannot save me, not even in this world. My faith is in God, and in His saving grace I will trust.

To God be the glory, now and forevermore!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Inevitable Conclusion

One of those old-time sayings persons once said: "A man plans his actions, but God directs his steps." Or maybe it was something close to that, and I kind of sort of have it right. The question before us this morning is: Have you been in a long-term situation where it seems that no matter what steps you took, the conclusion of the journey pointed all along to only the one possible outcome? Perhaps the journey began years ago when you and I came to a decision that we thought would take us to a new peak in life. Instead, we ended up right in the valley that we tried so hard to avoid. That valley may have included a divorce, or perhaps financial ruin, or failure at something you really wanted to succeed at, but after months or years of effort, boom, right to the very spot where we didn't want to go. Life includes everyday decisions that can take us to many destinations, but no matter what we tried our course corrected like some grim homing missile to the one and only target, the wrong one.

So the question from here is not one of complaint, but one of potential. What does the Lord want me to learn here? Where will my Sovereign Lord take me next? The greatest blessings in my life have come from the lowest valleys of my life's events. The current situation is just ripe with great potential and promise. When the bottom of the valley arrives, there is nowhere to look but up. What is all around is obvious to those in the pit of dread and despair. We might as well look up to the Savior and follow Him! Perhaps the destination was inevitable, but it was only inevitable because God would have us here for His own good reasons. One of those reasons is always so that we will look only to Him and give Him the glory. Oops, I guess that would be two of the reasons.

Praise God for the valleys!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

It's Going To Happen; I Just Know It!

The waiting stretches our Christian growth. We know something will happen. We may even have divine assurance that it will happen. But, we don't have the date. The return of Christ to gather His children to himself comes in much the same way. Seemingly slowly as we live and walk the earth, but oh so sudden in its arrival, the gathering of those who believe in Jesus will happen. We know it and we should live it. Did you ever stop to think that nothing or no one on this earth or in the heavens can stop the return of Christ? God has set the date and hour, and we know that God is the Almighty One. Therefore, nothing can stop our Lord's return. It's going to happen; I just know it.

Knowing something will happen gives us the opportunity to show our patience. Okay, maybe it gives us the opportunity to develop our patience. Waiting on something is not easy for us, especially if it is something that we can do nothing to advance. I cannot deliver a devotional message to you that will by one iota make Jesus come any sooner. God is not holding up His sending of the Son on account of something you or I have not yet accomplished. Everything God has spoken in His Word will happen on time and in God's perfect time. All we have to do is wait, and, oh boy, can that ever be a test of faith!

God bless you,

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

When Disaster Strikes

I'm not writing this because three pre-teen girls are attempting to bake a cake in Cheryl's kitchen this morning... really, I'm not. They have succeeded in starting on the frosting, which to young persons is probably more important than the cake in any case. I managed to sneak in and start the roast, hopefully it won't get caught up in the conflagration. Oops, one just got caught eating the powdered sugar - straight. Such a thing is guaranteed to put any adult into a sugar coma on the spot. In place of a culinary play-by-play, I suppose this should lead into a devotional message of some sort.

Some situations are fraught, that is truly fraught, with the greatest of peril. Young girls loose in the kitchen is one, but others come to mind as well. The same group of girls loose on Ric's computer is another. Nothing is safe in the house. I'm sitting in my corner with my laptop. As the default adult in the house, I'm trying to avoid...well, de fault actually. Thus far we have avoided explosions, flames, and flying glass, but nothing is for certain at this point. I did snatch the mail back out of harm's way. Since I couldn't think of anything to write in the peace of the morning, I will now attempt to write the devotional during the impending disaster. The oven timer expired, but Miss Madeline is distracted. A good cook pays attention to his or her work in progress. I wonder if Grandma will be upset when the smoke patterns stain her white ceiling? Whoops, adult direction needed to find the pot holders, good thing I found them for the pot pies. How does one write a devotional during a small cyclone? Disaster has now occurred it seems. Was that the smell of burning flesh in the kitchen?

I'm wondering this morning if the peace that surpasses all understanding can guard my heart and mind through this latest trial. Arguments among the chefs ensue,.. the cake is too soft for frosting... the 'thing' cannot go on because the frosting won't work... shoes litter the pathway to the kitchen. Fortunately, the cats have well-trained me to watch the floor. Speaking of conflagrations, tomorrow the cats may get to ride in "the box" for a while. Of course, that means someone will have to get them in the thing first. The almost certain thing is that at least one of us isn't going to enjoy it. All of this comes down to one thing this morning - God is not upset in any way. No circumstance puts the Holy Trinity into an uproar. Nothing here on earth is unexpected or out of the ordinary or beyond God's sovereign control. Whatever may befall us here in this life, God is not caught out of position, or left speechless, or unable to respond in His own perfect way. Want peace in the midst of the storm? Look to the Savior and see Him walking calmly over the waves and commanding the wind to halt.

God bless,

Monday, August 13, 2012


Mornings are nice at this time of the year, but the evenings are getting pleasant as well. What did we do to deserve such a thing? Of course, we didn't do a thing to deserve any of the good things in life. Do we then deserve the disasters and unpleasant heat, or maybe the drought and storms? We may deserve even worse than that. An old time sermon tells of sinners falling into the hands of an angry God. What we deserve as rebels against God is far worse than what we experience in this world.What we get to enjoy in this life is undeserved favor from a loving God. The problem comes when we try to claim some kind of credit for what God provides.

A gardener plants and tends a garden. Does she not then deserve the credit for the fruits of this garden? This year we have the answer to that. Many gardens failed to grow without the rain that God provides. Even an irrigated garden does not do as well as one watered with God's good rain. The gardener could plant and tend daily, but she could not make even one seed germinate or one plant grow without working on something God created long ago. Not one of us can grow a garden without seeds, water, sunlight, and soil; all of which God created for His own glory.

Grace is like the seed that we didn't create and do not deserve. We can help with the tending of the plant, even water it with the Word of God, but God gives the grace and causes the plant to grow. We don't deserve God's grace, but we gain it through faith in Jesus Christ. A great gift is given, share the good news!


Friday, August 10, 2012

Slam The Hammer Down!

The weekend is almost here. Time for plans of adventure and relaxation to take root and grow in our over-stressed hearts. Slam the hammer down and party like there's no tomorrow! Why does it seem that as I get older the vision of slamming down a hammer more often contains a warning about making sure my fingers are not in the way? The years of wild partying on the weekend are behind me, mostly because of the times that a 'finger' was found in the way of the slamming. Actually, I cannot claim very many wild parties even back in the day. As an introverted type of person, I more often watched others act out the stupid roles in party life. And, more than a few of those folks took to their roles with award-worthy zeal. What did all of that accomplish?

Apparently not much, as each weekend the performances were repeated with some actors in the same roles and others in the tragic parts. Movies and other media try to portray the pain that comes from a weekend of sin, but life does not end on Sunday evening. As the humans behind the party roles file into work on Monday, some will face the challenge and pain of an unexpected pregnancy. Others will be short of cash from paying bail money or fines. Some may have court dates, or perhaps the worst knowledge of all - the death of an innocent person from driving under the influence. Painful responsibility for the weekend of sin arrives on the doorstep without the fun and seduction that temptation brings with it. Before we can look down on those actors, we wonder at times what or who prevented some of those outcomes in our own lives.

In Christ, we don't have the luxury of claiming to have never sinned. More than likely, we too remember those years of playing the parts at parties. Having risked our lives and the lives of others through falling deeply into sin, we have no claim to any moral superiority. However, we can offer understanding, compassion, and an eager ear to listen when the troubles of sin come knocking. We also have opened the door to the Savior who brings healing, love, and hope. The world needs a good answer in Christ. The price of sin is too great for a body to bear even in this life.

God loves you!

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Don't Doesn't Mean Won't

That cluster of contractons reminds us that God sometimes tells us 'Not yet' as opposed to a flat out 'No'. A season of our lives may be tough to endure, but the seasons come and go. Like the summer we are struggling through this year, another season will follow. We do not yet know what the autumn will bring, and we do not yet know what our tomorrow will be like. The season of difficulty may be long, but the season may also end soon. The perfect example is the second coming of Christ. The season since our Lord's ascension has been long and difficult for the Church, but that season will end suddenly at the return of the Bridegroom. Today, God may say 'Don't', but that does not mean that His will is forever to be 'won't'. Today may be the start of a new season in your life.

At times, God waits patiently for us to get to a certain point in our development as Christ-ones. The season we endure may last only long enough to develop a level of character that God wants to see in us. You and I may not be able to tell when that point is reached, and we may despair of getting out of the current tribulation. God is watching us carefully as only God can, and your moment of relief may be sooner than you think right now. Don't give up on our trustworthy God; He won't leave us or forsake us!


Wednesday, August 08, 2012

What Is It About Me?

Good morning as the summer heat continues. Please remember to pray for our nation and for rain across our land. Alrighty then! You and me are in this hole. We don't know entirely how it got so deep, so quickly, and we don't see a way out of it right now. All seems dark, yet Jesus is the light. What is it about me that cannot see the light at this moment? Did God leave me to the Devil for a season so that I might learn a lesson? What lesson am I to learn. Do you see the light on your side of the hole? Nope, what is it about you that cannot find the light? Are we not both Christian in name. Did we do something wrong to get here? I may not fall for the prosperity gospel, but a little relief would be nice right about now. Of course, we know that by staring into the darkness we will never see the light.

Jesus allows us to soak up all the darkness we want, if that is what we want to look at daily. The better way is to look to the light. One way to see light is to read the Word that is the Light and the Life. God left us His word so that we might read it often, regularly, deeply, and especially in times of deep darkness in our lives. We tend to turn away from the word just when we need to study it most. Things go badly at work and we blow off reading the Bible that day. Things on the financial front seem worse than ever. We get away from reading the word of God and turn to the Dummie's Guide to Finding Money in the Sofa by Shirley Yurnotseareyus. What is it about us that turns from God just when we need Him most?

We listen to that old nemesis, our old evil nature; that force in us Paul called the flesh. We listen to the nature that tells us that all is lost, never will we see again the light of day. Not once in our lives will a time of calm come when we listen to that sin nature. Even when a time of peace arrives, the flesh will tell us to watch out for the cliffs ahead. The Word of God does say that we will have tribulation, but it also reminds us to take courage and fear not, for "I have overcome the world!" Live for the Word of God, seek Him daily in the word of God. It may seem nothing but an old saw, but the darkness really does seem greatest just before the dawn breaks.

God loves you!

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

What If I Missed The Mark?

Working early this morning and having breakfast late, what would I do if the Law required me to eat breakfast before the sunrise and work only after noon? We can strive and strive after the Law, but if we fail to keep the least rule, we are condemned for all of eternity. Jesus had the answer to keeping the Law: 'Be ye perfect even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.' I'm doomed, lost my chance at Heaven right there. I like the man we know as the rich young ruler in the Bible. He claimed to have kept the commandments since youth, but then Jesus gave him just one more. Crash! That one did him in, and the rich young man went off to lick his spiritual wounds. In watching the Olympic diving competition, it turns out there is a one hundred-point dive. One that earns all ten's and is supposed to be the perfect dive. We know that isn't really possible, but the divers train and practice to achieve that one dive.

You have seen the 10-meter platform diving. That is a mite too high for me even to look over, but these divers launch themselves off that platform doing somersaults, twists, and other bodily contortions in chasing that perfect dive. Now, suppose that the Law required only that one perfect dive. Perform it at the age of 10, and you're set to enjoy the remainder of your earthly life. Wait until you are 100, and the chances of making that dive might seem a bit remote. However, try as we might, most of us will never be able to dive off the 10-meter platform, much less achieve a perfect score. The more practice you do in pursuit of the one perfect dive, the more abuse your body, in particular your head, endures and the less chance you have of earning your way into Heaven. Fortunately, God is not in the business of judging us by our diving ability. Unfortunately, the keeping of the Law works in much the same way. The longer we live, the more our chances of blowing it. The good news is that Jesus, God's own Son, came and made that one perfect dive for all of us. We don't have to fret and worry over that one perfect dive to get into Heaven. So, why are we not enjoying the remainder of our lives and spreading the good news that we have in Christ?


Monday, August 06, 2012

New Week, Same Problems

Ah, Monday, how you do serve to remind me that I am not home yet. When some new time period begins we often expect something to have changed. A new year is celebrated, a new month observed, but the life does not immediately change. Problems that beset us on Friday, greet us on Monday morning with a phone call or message in the ol' inbox. What has changed? What did we expect to change?

A new day brings a fresh outlook and rest from the previous day. What it may bring is a new understanding of God's word, if we will take the time to read it and apply it to our lives. God has not changed; perfection does not need change. However, God has changed us in some way as we grow in the love of Christ Jesus. We may not see the change and the problems faced may seem just the same. But, new things await us just where the dawn meets the sky if we have the courage to remain steadfast on the course that Christ has charted for us. Patience, faith, trust, these things are not easy for us. The world has proved our faith in it groundless, the patience of waiting for something to change in the world system tears us apart, and we learned through bitter experience that some people are not to be trusted. On the other hand, Christ calls us to trust in Him, to place our faith in Him, and to have patience while His plan is worked out in our lives. Yes, the same problems may loom after the weekend, but Jesus is on the job! Take courage and be not afraid; our Lord knows what we need and the best time to provide it.


Friday, August 03, 2012

A Little Lamp Under a Dark Cloud

Good Friday morning! It seems that one day of relief may be granted us tomorrow, but we'll see when tomorrow comes. Today, the dark cloud hovers low over a little lamp. But in that lamp is not my light or your light. In that lamp is the very light of salvation: Jesus Christ. As the dark cloud hovers lower, pushed on by a foul wind from the prince of this world, the light seems to shine that much brighter in the gloom. We nervously look at the cloud as it spills its threat over us, but the true light continues to shine. Where the light touches the edges of the evil cloud the vapors of destruction are put to flight. The darkness desires to destroy the light, but the light is stronger. The dark cloud shifts its attention to the light bearer: that's you and me, friend.

We don't like it when the darkness of the world presses hard on us. We lose sleep, fight off anxiety, revel in depression, and reach for destructive habits when we look at that cloud and tremble. However, we are to look with love on our light and tend to that little lamp in preparation for our bridegroom's arrival. Our job is not to disperse the cloud, but to hold up our light. The Light will take on the darkness and dispel its evil influence; we must tend to our lamp with the Word of God and fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ. But we are not without a weapon of our own.

When the dark cloud of persecution, pressure, and pain presses us too closely, we can strike out with the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Memorize those Bible verses. You my not have time to run back to the armory to get out your sword: belt it on at your side.


Thursday, August 02, 2012

That Burden? Why, It's Just Enough To Beat Myself Down With!

The night is long; the sleeper tosses, the dreamer turns over, and the wakeful wrestle with a burden too great for sleep. Each has enjoyed one of those positions, but the sweetest is the rest given by God to those who believe in His promises. Where were you last night? Did you take up a burden again that you had once given to the Lord? Was that burden just the right size to fit your weary shoulders? I am sure that it felt just so. An old pack worn by the same person for years may seem to fit much better than a new and lighter pack. The wood frame is bent and worn in just the right spots, the leather straps soaked through with sweat so many times that they seem soft to the touch. But the truth is that the new pack is better designed and built for greater comfort and less burden to the user. We are like the old pack hauler. Our burden feels right to our worldly shoulders. The yoke Christ gives to us is somehow too new, too light; we shouldn't have less toil under the burden. How can we ever earn our salvation through a lighter yoke and a dropping of the old burdens?

I woke up early this morning and took up a burden that has been over the years just the right size and weight to beat myself down with. Obviously, I can be penitent with this burden because it has beaten me down so many times before. Look at me earn my stripes which heal nothing. Look at me, Lord, I'm taking on the tough job all alone again; I must be ready for heaven! No and no! When will we learn to leave those burdens down and take up the new yoke of Christ. The yoke sufficient for all training and correction that Christ decides that we need. Not the old solo burden that we decide to beat ourselves with, but the new light yoke that pulls in a team of those who believe in Christ Jesus. I like the new yoke and the light and easy burden that Christ gives to me. The night is too short to take up that old burden again. Why did I do it?

Pride is perhaps the answer I need to apply this morning. I think that somehow I have to do it. There must be an answer that only I can provide. The right amount of self-flagellation through hard work, the correct amount of self condemnation, the final bucket load of suffering in silence, somewhere in these must lie the road to self-promotion to heaven. Sorry, old cow, it just doesn't work that way in the Good News of Christ. Stop it! Cease beating yourself up with old burdens too great for you to carry. Leave them at the cross and trust in Jesus.


Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Oops, My Intended Consequence Got Lost Somewhere!

Good morning as most everyone prepares for another day of hot and more hot. It seems like I have spent most of the months of June and July in a hot and sweaty state, and I like to cry and whine about it most of the time too. I am staring down the muzzles of two cleaning products, which is the other story of my life this summer. Better news, late in the evening the final rocks were returned to their place around the house. I think we'll call for a break on digging for a bit and let the blisters and aches heal up some. Praise the Lord for jobs well done! On the other hand, the intended consequence of all the work you have endured my whining about for the past couple of months got mislaid somewhere. What many of us thought would happen has been delayed. What do we do when this happens?

I hope that I have endured enough testing and learned enough patience that this latest problem will be but an, 'Oh well, God is in control!'. However, my feelings get down, my mind wanders to thoughts of disaster and doom, and my faith in God stumbles. Soon, the thoughts of 'what if' and 'what next' come to dominate where once faith ruled. My intended consequence may even agree with God's intended consequence, but the timing is now off. What happened? Did I do or think something wrong?

We have enough to work on without trying to come up with reasons why God might have changed His mind about something we thought would happen on our time schedule. More than likely, we didn't do anything wrong with the exception of trying to schedule God's action. When I expected something may not be in line with God's perfect timing.In fact, given my origin in sin, how would I know perfect timing except that God show it to me? Instead, I come up with a schedule that seems good to me and then despair when my intended consequence gets lost somewhere. When I try to time the event, instead of bowing down to God in prayer and waiting, the only consequence may be the disappointment I feel when my expectations are dashed once more. Time to look to God and trust in Him.