Thursday, February 28, 2013

'I Will' Requires Jesus

...because left to my own strength, I won't. Good morning. Nice and crisp, as they say, out there for my walk this morning. The same may be said with 'I can', not that it's nice or crisp, but that without Jesus, I might as well just say up front that I can't. This is different from what the world tells us: You can accomplish great things through hard work, dedication, talent, and a little luck. The world admits that there is a bit more than just the first three, but no one seems to want to credit God. Have you noticed that luck can be dumb but never smart? I have seen many a person work hard, long hours, and with dedication who accomplished nothing more than a paycheck. I have done it myself. The hardest working actor may lose a choice part because the other actor had the right face for the part. Does all of our hard work impress God when we do it for only that reason?

I'm sure that God credits our hard work, but let us ask in another way. How can I as an imperfect man impress a perfect God? Won't happen; as Isaiah writes, "...and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags." (64:6) Without Jesus, all of my effort comes up short, like filthy rags. I can work hard, but accomplish nothing of value. What? Raising children is of no value. Providing for a home, paying taxes, and serving my country of no value? One question: without Jesus, will any of that save you? If all of that is done only to serve the world's system, how is God glorified? Whoops, that's two questions. I will do my miscounting and bumbling to the glory of God. I will boast of some more of my seemingly endless supply of weaknesses so that God's strength will be made perfect.

I have done some hard work in this life to make myself more comfortable, or to tell myself I 'done good'. I have worked long hours deep into the night, and on a few occasions into the next morning and hoped for some kind of praise or reward. But all of that is like a sacrifice given simply to follow a requirement of the law. "Meh, better toss another bull on the altar, I think I'm due for another one. Gotta keep those priests happy or they'll curse my harvest." Without Jesus, I can't keep the law, much less to live to the glory of God. If I had to satisfy the Law of Moses in my strength, I would estimate that I have already violated in thought or deed 90-something percent of it. The remainder I can't violate because I haven't been married. Without Jesus, a wife would only help me violate the remaining small percentage of the Law. Perhaps in place of 'help me' I should use 'provide the opportunity to', shouldn't blame the poor wife who ain't even there yet.

All of this is to say that I am a sheep, and without my Good Shepherd I will simply follow the flock around - sort of around, as a writer with PTSD, I'm a bit flock-averse so to speak - until I find myself in a blind canyon somewhere and come to my lonely end. I believe in Jesus Christ, and with Him I am able to perform great works to the glory of God the Father. Alone, my accomplishments are useless. In Christ, my works help to build God's kingdom, and that is a wonderful privilege!

Praise and glory to our Lord Jesus!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Without A Desperate Need

Good morning! We don't want any desperate needs around here, thank you! I'll paraphrase Bilbo Baggins just a little this morning. No, I haven't seen the new movie. After watching Peter Jackson's rather liberal interpretation of the Lord of the Rings, I think I'll just skip his Hobbit mash-up. We learn in this world that we don't want something through difficult experience. We learn to ask God to take away our desperate needs, but what is causing us to need God in the first place? "Everything would be fine and I would give gratitude and glory to God if all of these problems were just taken away." But it wouldn't be that way, and we know it. At least not until God through His Holy Spirit makes us into something better than what we are now.

A desperate need in life brings us to our prayerful knees so much more often than just a little irritation or minor problem might get us to that same position. If you suffer one health crisis after another, it may not be eating the wrong things, or living in the wrong house, or working in the wrong place. Those crises may bring you to God much better than any stretch of good health and happiness ever did. If we could see the tree our little seed of faith has grown into, we might better understand the desperate needs of this life. For now, we must trust that God is growing that tree through each crisis, desperate need, and emergency. Tough to think like that, I know.

A tough prayer would go something like, "Lord, I need another desperate need or crisis so that I can grow closer to you and my faith will become strong!" We don't typically seek out suffering and, as Bilbo might note, emergencies make one late for dinner. We like comfort, good food, and enough money to spend and to lend. No, I haven't recently read The Hobbit, but there does seem to be a theme going on this morning. Without a desperate need, I might forget who provided all the good things in life. Books are good things, and the best one of all comforts me in my desperate needs, criseses, and emergencies. I don't like those things in my life, but then it isn't my life anymore. I belong to Jesus and He will walk me through the dark valleys.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Get Trusted To It

I am noticing a lot more daylight in the mornings, that must mean that it's nearly time for the pre-spring messing with the clocks.Somehow, that vague group of power hungry clock-setters 'they' would have us just get used to it. A voice on the telly described the state of the professional writer as broke and starved for an idea. I can vouch for that, but I don't like trying to 'get used' to being broke. It's hard to pay the bills that way, for one thing. It's much harder to give and be generous, and a whole lot of other things too. This morning, I decided that I don't want to get used to it, but that I need to get trusted to it.

We could say that the apostle Paul was a professional writer. Paul wrote that he had learned to be content in plenty or in poverty, whether he had much or little. Learning this skill was no doubt a difficult road for him. Given that he had to learn to be content, I can guess that there was a few times where he cried out to God reminding our Lord about things like provision, love, and perhaps how much easier it would be to trust with a full belly and a few books to read. In Proverbs 30:7-9, a man named Agur spoke a bit of wisdom that is good to recall:

​​Two things I request of You
​​(Deprive me not before I die):
​​Remove falsehood and lies far from me;
​​Give me neither poverty nor riches—
​​Feed me with the food allotted to me;
​​Lest I be full and deny You,
​​And say, “Who is the LORD?”
​​Or lest I be poor and steal,
​​And profane the name of my God.

Admit it, we tend to ask God for riches in this life, and we most definitely want to avoid poverty. Those prayers come to all of us, but how many of us learn to ask for neither? Learning to be content goes right with learning to trust in God fully - in the times of small numbers in the bank account as well as those times when we have plenty to give and share. Don't be so sure that one is more difficult than the other!

God bless you on this great day in Christ!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Hmm, A Day Like That

Good Monday morning! Sorry about that school thing today. For fans of entertainment, yesterday was one of those days. The Daytona 500 race started the NASCAR season, a spring training game for Major League Baseball was on at the same time, and later the Academy Award show. Wait, whaddya mean no one cares about the middle one? Heh, heh, that does seem kind of mundane compared to the other two. This morning, the Spirit reminded me that a day like that might be the one when Jesus returns to take one and leave the other. That day we have looked forward to for many years could occur on such as day as yesterday.

With many people anticipating events where persons already rich and famous are given awards that make them more rich and famous while we watch, the event that comes like a thief in the night arrives and passes with few noticing. Yet, the event will not remain silent for long as the empty places will speak louder than any television event. Where did all the people go? will upstage the award shows, the sports championships, and any other worldly thing. The unsaved should rightly fear this day, but those saved in Christ Jesus look forward to the Rapture.

I think I write about this every year, but that means that the time and date only God knows is coming closer. The snatching up of those who believe in Christ may occur on a day when little or nothing is scheduled. The award winners may get years or decades to enjoy their moment in the limelight. Centuries of babies may arrive in the world and pass into old age before the events of the Revelation come to the world stage. Yet, the signs cause me to think the time is much closer than that.

I don't want to steal the glory given to the award winners yesterday, that may be all they get for a reward. At the same time, let us not pay more attention to popular culture than to the question of eternity. Love one another by sharing the Good News of Jesus!


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Canadian Invasion Strikes U.S. Where It Hurts Most!

Good Saturday morning! As you can tell already, I'm not in a deeply serious mode this morning. I saw the headline today: "Experts: Chinese spies have targeted every US sector." My first thought was, 'Of course, they wouldn't be very good spies if they skipped sectors.' A nation sends out spies to gather intelligence on all other nations, enemy or ally. That is the spy's job, and we shouldn't be surprised. Moses sent spies into the promised land. Spies are biblical! Praise the Lord for spies! Now move on to this invasion of our northern border.

After gathering intelligence from a variety of sources, including my own collection, I have found that a Canadian invasion has taken place. The main weapons of mass distraction are Rush, Celine Dion, Shania Twain, and Avril Livigne (Those are the ones I can think of while standing here typing.) Cd's in the millions have hit us in the bank account, right where it hurts capitalists the most. The newest method is something called ITunes. Beware this invasion! It seems the long winters up north are put to good use for training musicians to invade our sovereign realm.

Like musicians from any other nation, they want to be heard and appreciated. Anything can be made to sound sinister through the right, or wrong, words. We don't need to panic over Chinese spies or Canadian musicians performing their chosen vocation. In the case of spies, our government employs anti-spies, known as counterintelligence, to curtail or halt the spies' activities. This kind of thing won't stop and is in fact essential to a nation's survival, our nation or any other. I'll just turn that nasty ol' headline around for us: "Non-expert: American spies have targeted every Chinese sector too." As a veteran and a taxpayer, (At least I was a couple of years ago,and I very much want to be one again.) I certainly hope our intelligence resources are doing their job well.

Have a great Saturday,

Friday, February 22, 2013

Fine, Go Ahead And Boast

Good morning as the lovely snow sits over the town! Not all boasts about the old stomping grounds are only idle bragging. My new town has the streets cleared off already. I guess that old guy was right about his hometown. I want to boast too. Life in this world has trained me to boast on my resume about my skills and experience. The world has trained me to boast so that I don't look weak in certain social situations. These situations are more commonly known as 'bars' or 'taverns'. Movies and other shows that we watch do not exactly train us in the taking of a passive stance either regarding our strengths and weaknesses. So what does the Bible tell us to do? Yeah, Paul tells us that he is going to boast of his weakness.

Aw, nuts! He would say that in the Bible. Are you sure Paul didn't write a little newsletter on the side where he said that? Maybe the great apostle had one of those epistle logs, you know an eplog, where he set down his ideas to try them out before publishing such things to the Romans or Corinthians. No? But I don't want to boast of my weakness. I want to be strong like all those comic book/movie/space wars heroes I read and watched while growing to adulthood, which occurs in men at about 35 or so. Nope, sorry, Paul published his revelation for all of us to read and obey.

So, go ahead and boast. Tell the world of my weakness. Let everyone know what Christ has done for me. Can you imagine filling out a resume with that information? Here's a weakness: I'm just ornery enough to try something like that. It should make a good chapter in my book.

God's love and blessing to you on this fine, cold day!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Coming Around Again

Good morning on this snow day on the High Plains! The school superintendent even took the time to call me personally and let me know that school was cancelled for today. How do you like that? Of course with today's automatic dialers, message distributors, and other electronic computerized stuff, he probably didn't know that he was calling me. I liked it though. I graduated more than 30 years ago and I still raised my arms and let out a 'Yahoo!' Praise the Lord for answered prayers!

Speaking of prayer, how many times have you found yourself asking things like "Why this again, Lord?" Does it seem like our tribulations come around again? Perhaps it was something I missed last time, but then that would be a critique of the Holy Spirit as well. It may be that this tribulation comes 'round once more to provide more practice. Something in my faith needs to grow a little more, or this time I will come to God in prayer more quickly and with less grumbling. We may not see the reason now, but faith tells us that God has a reason for bringing that same tribulation to us one more time.

There is our answer, faith. Building up that tiny seed takes watering, nurturing, and the one we don't like - something for the little plant to push against to grow strong. The winds of tribulation cause the little seedling of our faith to resist (at least we should be resisting that temptation) and build up strength. Faith knows that God will prop up the little seedlings and lend them His strength as needed. Faith may not see the mighty tree full grown, but faith believes it will happen. Faith feels the pain of growing under testing, but faith trusts the Tester.

To God be the glory on this day,

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I'm Not Exactly Alone In This

Good Wednesday morning! A watch or a warning, who will get the most snow this time? The problems in my life are a part of God's testing of my faith in order to grow it from a mustard seed into a mighty tree. I like to list my problems and tell God how bad I have it. God points to His Son and asks if I really have it so bad. If social media had a 'like' page for each of my problems, I would also find that I am not exactly alone in any of them. Even the combination of my problems would have a legion of fans saying 'Yeah, that's me too!' Sure, the complete list of mountains to overcome by faith would narrow the list down quite a bit, but that is still not what makes me unique.

If my set of problems cannot define the unique me, no matter how much I want to think it does, then something else must be the answer. That theory about evolving from primordial sludge offers no path to uniqueness. I mean, wouldn't we all look the same by now? Even my physical characteristics are not going to make me special in this world. Look hard enough among 7 billion or so individuals and almost everyone can find a look-alike person. Perhaps I shouldn't try to find something that makes me unique, and alone, but what I like to share with others in this world.

What I like is to have faith in Jesus. Doubts, fears, and worries are very common, but complete trust in Jesus is hard to find. Some days I must read the scriptures pretty hard to keep up my faith, but that does not make me unique, it just makes Jesus very special. The scriptures on faith are not difficult to find, but the distractions of the world are very in-your-face. The scriptures test me too, but that does not make me unique either. The answer may be in not trying to become a unique individual.

In Christ, I become unique through no effort of my own. God created me in His own will and way. My surrender to Jesus came through a special set of circumstances tailored and timed just for me. God did the same for you. The testing of my faith takes place under God's careful control and is made to fit my talents and abilities with the addition of Christ's strength to overcome and endure. That situation does not make me unique, because God is doing the same in your life. It seems that my effort to make myself unique may only result in weirdness. However, giving my life, my self, and my all up to Jesus makes me unique through His effort and love. The question on my mind should not be about how unique I am right now, but how special you and I will be when Christ presents us to His Father in Heaven as finished creations of His loving hand.

May the love of Christ be especially real to you this day,

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Old Stories and Great Stories

Good morning! Second week of my new Bible study group, and as always it is much easier the after that first meeting. Less anxiety and physical discomfort, more participation and learning as the Lord moves through His Holy Spirit. Now the only question remaining: Is the cat sensing my pain and trying to comfort me by pawing at my butt, or is he hungry again? The stool is right behind me as I write, but I don't get to use it since the cat has claimed it for his own. That's okay, the plan was to do more writing while standing up! Today, we studied that famous story of Daniel and the lion's den.

This old story has political intrigue, false witness, mortal danger, a powerful king undone by his own law, and a final justice for the evil ones. Of course we like the stories like this; these are a part of the great stories of old handed down generation to generation to prove God's providence in the lives of those who believe in Him. Today, the entire world seems to hate God. Yet, the stories stand and are told in these dark times.

I find comfort in the Bible. Over the centuries governments, rulers, religious authorities, and others have tried to destroy God's word and those great old stories. Dictators have banned the word of God, and courageous missionaries have smuggled it across borders at night. Is this rebellious activity? Sure, against the governing ruler, but God's word will be heard in all corners of the world before the end comes. Ministers spread the Gospel in nations where speech is relatively free, but also in nations where speech is restricted to government approved texts. People love these great old stories because, unlike so many stories that are simply just old or well-told, these stories have a spirit in them we recognize in our soul.

God saves Daniel from the lions when King Darius could not. God forgives David after he commits terrible sins. God reboots the human race with Noah and an overwhelming flood, and then promises never to do it again. God saves all who will believe by an execution near Jerusalem. Eh? What's that last story about?

The story of Jesus is the one the world hates, doubts, and fears most of all. How strong is this God who allows his son to be executed? Well, let us see. The story of death and resurrection of the hero is used by Tolkien, more than once actually, in the Lord of the Rings. Rowling used it to conclude her Harry Potter series. The horror of Bram Stoker's Dracula is in the wrongness of a death and resurrection through evil means. Death and resurrection is a powerful story, but we do not prove the original by the copies. C.S. Lewis copied the story of Jesus best of all, but the story of Aslan and his deeper magic does not prove the story of our Lord's resurrection and coming return. What we want from the new stories is for children and adults to want the pure truth, the Bible.

The story of God's Son, Jesus, who laid down His life in obedience to God's will, and by it paid the price for our sins, gives us our great hope. I can copy this story, add in a new setting with characters strange and wonderful, just as C.S. Lewis did, but I cannot make it better. What could be better than believing in Jesus and gaining eternal life?

Whoa, sorry, a good Bible study has made me into a sermon writer. A devotional is supposed to be on the shorter side. May God bless you on this fine day!


Monday, February 18, 2013

A Warning For Me

Happy President's Day! Is that the correct greeting for today? Yesterday, I watched a documentary wherein a rock star back in the seventies spoke of the aging of presidents during their term in office. We don't know all the reasons, but I suspect that part of the using up of a president is in the amount of information available to him while in office. Today, I thought that I would warn me about this information problem, and I invite you to listen in.


The amount of information available today is potentially dangerous for you. Every person's disaster should not be reported in the news. Yet, somewhere, even the car accident on a lonely road of a rural state is reported in the media. Deaths and statistics bring to mind your own experience and reinforce that experience in your mind. The outlets for news of this type are now too great for a person to absorb and process. In any one day, tens or hundreds of people will die in tragic ways, you do not need to know all of that, leave it with God.

The Internet, while a wonderful tool for research, only increases the amount of information of the wrong type available on a daily basis. Work with caution in this new medium! Above all, do not repeat these tragic stories as others may have anxiety over events that do not cause the same in you. For those news stories you do see because of their near ubiquity, pray for the families and the victims, but move on - do not memorize the details or imagine them in your mind. Only God knows all the details of an incident, capture the thoughts and leave it in His care.

Jesus said, "You trust in God, now trust in Me." This is not only the good news, but it is better news than what is all too common in our media. Learn to spend more time in God's word, the Bible. Yes, you are to be watchful, but that does not mean that you must carry the burden of every war, rumor of war, earthquake, shooting, tragic accident, terrorist attack, or natural disaster with you in imaginary visions of 'what if?' situations. It is okay to leave that which is too great for you in the hands of your great and awesome God.

Have a renewing day in Christ Jesus,
Your friend in Christ,

Friday, February 15, 2013

Oh Dear, The World Woke Up Today!

Cost-cutting measures are working at Carnival. The Russians got a big bang from a meteorite. And, if you're missing some mail, there is a man out in Washington who may have it - he was arrested with more than a thousand pounds of the stuff. Just a little sampling from the news this morning. Oh, and one of my recommended videos is a model sharing her shaving secrets. Probably better for me to let women keep some of their secrets,I'll pass on that one. The world woke up today, as it has every day thus far. The news may be surprising, exploitative, funny, or most likely tragic, but it comes around each day. The news outlets will of course strive to find news that is all four of those at once. After all of that, then our day begins.

If your day begins with some news from the world, you might wake up each morning surprised that the world is still here at all. However, one verse from near the back of the Bible speaks to this. "He upholds the universe with the mighty power of His command..." I use quotations because when I memorized the verse some years ago, that is how the New Living Translation read. Now, I guess there is a New New Living Translation that reads just a little differently. I notice they forgot to abbreviate it NNLT. Whether you say that our Lord upholds everything or the universe, the meaning is that all the governments, nature, asteroids, powers and principalities, and everyone else are all operating under that command.

The world may seem out of control, but the issue of authority is decided. If your boss gives you a new assignment today, but does not specify a method, you have been delegated authority to perform it as you see fit. The authority of the boss is not made less nor the position compromised by delegating to you. The Bible gives us all one assignment of spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ. However, there is no list of names with specific places, times, or methods to use in spreading this news. With the assignment comes one promise, "I will be with you always, even unto the end of the age." Grow where you are planted, use what you are best at, and remember that Jesus is with you always!

Love and joy to you in our Lord Jesus!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love is a Good Subject

Good morning! Today seems like a good day to share God's love for you and me, and then share my love for you. The first we often take for granted; the second we have trouble understanding. We say the words expressing God's love, but do we let it sink deep into our hearts where the emotions dwell? Are we afraid to experience God's love as we should? You may not have this problem, but I have noticed it in myself. I like to keep God's love on an intellectual level, sort of like a logical thing. Jesus gave his life for me on the cross, therefore it is proven that God loves me, q.e.d., or something along those lines. Reading the psalms in the Bible makes that cold logic thing a bit more difficult.

The modern equivalent is the Christian songs we hear on K-Love or MyBridge and other radio stations. Songs and psalms have feeling and emotion. If you have served in the military through a Christmas overseas and sung along with 'Silent Night' while fighting back the emotion you will know what I mean. A few painful experiences in life, and you may flee from emotions rather than enjoy them. You might call it being strong, but since when did refusing to face a condition become a sign of strength? We are taught this sort of thing because parents, teachers, coaches, and others may have found emotions difficult too. Recall the few painful experiences thing, and you pretty much have every person's life in a nutshell. One of the most difficult prayers in my young life is: Open up my heart to your love, dear God, that I might feel your love for me.

The first love, God's love, allows and grows the second. To experience God's love, even for just a moment, is to want to share it. However, my love for you is a decision too. Many of you I don't know very well, and others I don't know at all. Yet, in Christ, we decide to love one another in obedience to His command. God knows us intimately, and decided to love us. We follow His lead and decide to love even without that knowledge of the secret good and evil in each of us. Loving one another is a work in progress of course. My love for you is not perfect like God's love, but I'll keep on working at it.

For this Valentine's Day: My love to you, my brothers and sisters in Christ on this day, and God's love to all of us as we walk that narrow way with His Son!


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Aw Nuts, It's a Choice

Good morning...for the third time. You only get to read one devotional this morning, but this is the third time I've started writing it today. There is something about the president's State of the Union speech each year that gets my political ranting and whining mechanism going. It's a choice whether to pass that on to you, and perhaps ruin your day, or to just let it go and remember who is really in charge. I decided to eat my eggy-in-a-basket and let it go with God.

I like to think that Jesus took care of my salvation, and then kick back and wait for His return. There is nothing wrong with that attitude except for that little 'kick back' part in the middle. Each day is a choice to fight in the ongoing battle against the prince of this world and my natural inclination toward the slothful life. The Devil would be just happy if all God's people chose to take the easy way each and every day. We do need our rest, but it kind of follows that we need something from which to rest. If I 'kick back' and Jesus doesn't return for a century or so, it could get a little hungry around these parts. Work has its place in our lives; the lives we gave to Jesus to the glory of God the Father.

God loves you!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Dry Air is Hard to Breathe

Good morning! I'm a little late this morning. I went to a Bible study group that meets at 0630 on Tuesday for the first time this morning. We (I get to say that now that I made one meeting) are studying Daniel, one of my favorite books in the Bible. As I walked home, I learned once again that dry air is difficult to breathe. That may seem obvious to, well, almost all of us, but sometimes we need a reminder. The sinus passages dry out, your throat gets a little scratchy, and other unpleasant symptoms clamour for attention. Reading about the condition on the Internet, I see that a simple scarf across the nose and mouth can help a body retain a little moisture to make breathing more pleasant. Scarfs (or is that scarves?) have gone out of style at times, but I may need to ask the Lord for one. That brings up another question: What in the Christian life seems obvious to all, but has been let slip in my life or your life?

Each of us may have something that the Bible calls us to do regularly but that we have let slip over time. For some it may be daily Bible study, or praying constantly, or meditation on God, or a host of other things. For others it may be the Golden Rule, or loving one another, or paying attention to loving God first in all things. A sneaky idol may come into our lives and careful examination finds God taking second place when He commands pre, uh, preem - how many e's and i's in this word? - preemininence - whoops, spell checker says I blew it - preeminence. That's what I get for trying to put a big word into my devotional and sound smart.

Daily we must recommit to Jesus, because daily our sinful past tries to reassert dominion. We must make habits of the good things Jesus tells us to do. Good habits are of course those actions that require but one or two days of inattention - there I go with those words again - to suddenly stop for weeks or months.

Enjoy the day in Christ Jesus!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Submit My Weakness To His Strength

Good Monday! The statement seems rather obvious, but in practice it is not so easy. We want to bring our talents and strengths to God as an offering. 'Look what I can do for you, Lord! Aren't you proud of me?' Instead, after Paul asked the Lord to remove a thorn in his side three times, the Lord spoke to him of strength made perfect in weakness. That is to say, the Lord's strength in Paul's weakness.

We want to glorify the Lord in our strength, but God may want a different offering from us. In place of coming to the Lord asking for removal of our thorns, perhaps we should be offering our weaknesses to Him. Suddenly my weaknesses seem too many to list. From a list of problems in my life, I now have this tremendous offering to present to Him. The rich man made a large offering from his great strength; the widow made a small offering from her great weakness. Which one did Jesus say was blessed more?

I'll admit that I would like to be the rich man with plenty to give. I don't think many of us would say no to great riches. But God may want us to give our weakness as an offering. Financially, emotionally, or intellectually; our health, strength, habits, or whatever area of our life seems plagued by weakness, that may be the area God wants to work in to show His perfect strength. Giving our weaknesses to Him as an offering may seem backwards, but let us this day give it a try!

God bless and keep you on this great day of the Lord!

Saturday, February 09, 2013

You Just Know...

Someone did it. Perhaps more than just one. The metereouloguos folks did their thing and predicted 2 or 3 feets of snow. The government officials did their thing and told people to get home and stay there. But, somewhere in this massive blizzard out east, someone said to their friends, "I gots me this 4-wheel drive, full-size, power-chipped, jacked-up vehicle and it's time to show what it can do!" They took their imagined powerful monstrosity out on the road and got stuck. Then, a few cars with no business trying to make a few more miles in the storm got stuck behind the stranded behemoth, and his truck, and soon the entire highway was shut down because the snowplows can't plow vehicles. Maybe the cars got stuck first, but you just know it happened.

We are not fools, but we do act foolishly. Oh, not all the time, but you, me, or that mysterious group called 'they' have all spent our time playing the fool in some situation. We pray that no one gets hurt or worse for our foolishness, but sometimes that happens too. We may comfort ourselves that the fools are all out east in the big storm, but if we get enough snow in our area tonight we will be proven wrong. Thank goodness that God loves those of us who make mistakes!

Have a great weekend in Christ!

Friday, February 08, 2013

You're About to Get Some Son

God's love to you on this sunny Friday morning! Sun, rain, snow, wind, if we are not careful, we may spend more time listening to and discussing weather reports than we spend on the gospel of Jesus our Lord. Today, just for a change here is your report for today: You are about to get some Son in your life! As in the Son of God, Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior shining into the darkness surrounding your mind in this world.

We live in a dark world. One look at the news will confirm that any time we need any confirmation. However, the bright beams of God's love shown in His Son Jesus cut through that darkness. You walk in a bright Son-beam spreading illumination to the darkness around you. Those who love the darkness may stay far away from your bright light. The haters may attack your light, but it cannot be so easily extinguished. We can try to hide our light, but the outside world is so dark the light of love is going to shine out through the cracks.

Blizzards, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other storms may threaten at any time, but the light of Jesus shines all the time. Stand by! You are about to get some Son!


Thursday, February 07, 2013

It's Not a Shameful Thing; It's a Human Thing

Good Thursday morning! Under the grim microscope of perfectionism, my mistakes take on a shameful hue. However, it is not a shameful thing to make mistakes; it's a human thing. Since the fall of Adam, we have made mistakes. Individuals, kings, nations, groups and governments all make mistakes. Sometimes we delight in pointing them out to each other, but the perfectionist tends to writhe in shame over past mistakes until he or she is afraid to do anything at all.

It seems silly written down like this, but the perfectionist knows that humans are flawed and yet strives for perfection. A distraction at a critical moment may help. A simple tap on the shoulder, "You know, it's human to make mistakes." Maybe his mouse cursor will disappear for a while too. The Windows operating system is a good reminder that something might be good enough to be very successful and yet be full of mistakes too. Striving for excellence is good. Striving for perfection is enslavement to a god one can never satisfy.

Did you know that God twice said He was pleased with His Son before Jesus had completed his work? We tend to think that all of our work must be completed to perfection before God will let us into Heaven. The problem is that we spend our lives gradually discovering what that work includes...and we make mistakes along the way. The perfectionist Christian will live in terror of making that one mistake at the end that disqualifies him or her from Heaven. Good news for the perfectionist and everyone else too, the work of salvation belongs to Christ Jesus. We can't mess it up!

May the blessing of God find you in every circumstance today,

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

God Loves Me

Good morning! Almost 40° this morning, what season is it again? A few things to think about this morning. Do you find it easier to remind someone else of God's love than it is to apply it to yourself? Have you made the mistake of moving your life from not worthy of God's love to a feeling of worthlessness? Do you, in words more subtle and underhanded, call 'Shame on me!' several times each day? Start fixing this problem of self shaming with the statement, "God loves me!" each morning.

We may display the results of a life of shame in our girth, bad habits, by lashing out at others, or in other ways. I find it easier to take the beam out my eye and beat myself with it than to accept the fact of God's all-consuming love. Accepting salvation seems easy compared to accepting God's love, but the one does not come without the other. If I cannot say that God loves me with meaning, acceptance, the full emotion, and growing trust then what good am I to His kingdom?

How can I spread the good news of God's love if I don't first take it into my heart? In this, as in all things we learn in our Christian life, we must ask God for that strength. Paul reminds us that, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Facing emotions such as the feeling of God's love is difficult for many of us. Real emotions may be distant, buried under mistakes of the past, subsumed by memories of humiliation, or denied for self-protection. Emotions belong to us. Emotions are a gift from God. Emotions may feel a bit like descending into a dark basement for some us. Yikes! I don't want to go down there.

Two very precious times I can remember the emotion, the feeling, of God's love breaking through my resistance. I gotta get some more of that feeling! The basement of emotion seems dark from a distance, but there is a Light.


Tuesday, February 05, 2013

It's Tuesday. Are You Going to Live?

Good morning on another day of the February spring tease! Note that I didn't ask the title question on a Monday. A report of the flu in a family this weekend prompted me to ask, but the answer is up to all of us. We may find it easy to accept death in Christ, but do we want to live for Him? Death at times seems the easier route. Jesus gave us a heads up on what to expect in death, so we may kind of lean toward the easy way if we are not careful in our thoughts. Life in Christ has a promise that we don't quite like to hear: in this world you will have tribulation. I don't want any more tribulation; I think I've suffered quite enough, thank you!

Is it a form of cowardice to long to be with Christ in heaven? No, I don't think that is an acceptable answer. A bit of the answer is in the uncertainty of our future here in this world. We have many possible future things to fear if we take our eyes off the Lord. We have many things in the past to regret, if we forget the Lord's mercy and forgiveness. Like a soldier on the front lines of a war longs to be home and at peace, we long to be home with our Lord. In this world, our shield of faith takes a beating. We may look longingly toward the skies hoping to see our Savior coming in the clouds of His glory. We are not cowards to look to Jesus, only hard beset by the flaming darts of the enemy.

We remember the part about tribulation, but let us recall the entire verse before we finish today. Jesus surrounded His warning about tribulation with words of comfort: "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." (John 16:33 NKJV).


Monday, February 04, 2013

Well, That Was a Strange Ending

Good Monday morning! OK, take a safety on purpose, win the game. We like to see the Elway-style last minute drive to a touchdown to win the game. A kind of roll-over-and-fake-death ending to the game seems a little disappointing somehow. Did the ref blow the call in the end zone or not is just a part of the post-game argument. Taking a safety seems just so... chicken feathers, and that's an insult to chickens. We didn't get to see what we wanted to see, a drive from a punt return to try for that touchdown. However, I am reminded of another situation in which the people didn't get what they wanted.

This is a Christian devotional; I can't talk about football all morning and call it good. On what we call Palm Sunday, Jesus arrived in Jerusalem to the shouts of the adoring crowd. They were there to see their idea of Messiah kick some Roman butt right out of Judea and set up a new earthly kingdom. I wonder if they would have joined in the fight if Jesus had the disciples hand out spears and marching boots. We know from the Bible that Jesus predicted his death three times before arriving at that triumphal entry. Our Lord did not lead a revolt against Rome, but told the scribes to pay Caesar's taxes. Jesus died on the cross as a lowly criminal in the eyes of those hoping for a new kingdom. Jesus had a job to do, and it wasn't what the people expected.

A football coach has a job to do as well. His is to win the game, not necessarily give us what we want to see. Taking a safety did the job last night, even if I, for one, was a bit disappointed. I have God's word to manage my expectations about Christ's death on the cross. I can rejoice in it because I know what Jesus accomplished. And I also can read and understand that the ending is not so strange at all.

God bless you on this day!

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Sometimes I'm Not Weak Enough

Good Saturday morning! Can it be true? Does my strength at times get in the way of the Lord's work? Thinking of Paul's weakness and God's answer in 2 Corinthians 12:9, I realize that at times I am:

Not weak enough to be strong in the Lord,

Not poor enough to be rich in Christ,

Not speechless enough to speak for God,

I lean on my own understanding, and the Lord will not hold me up in that condition. I become rich in my own providence and lose the provision of God. My strength gets in the way of trusting in my God, and my will takes the place of God's sovereign will. How do I get in this condition? Temptation of course.

As the first lies were told in the Garden of Eden, the first temptation got underway. What was at the heart of that temptation was the desire to be like God and thus not need Him anymore. We know that didn't work out for Adam and Eve, or for those of us who followed later. We need Jesus daily, moment by moment, or we fall hard and it hurts.


Friday, February 01, 2013

Whohoo! Brandee's Movin!

Moving was such a theme last year that I thought a little more moving celebration was in order. Last night at Life group we listened to a presentation on septic thoughts. I kind of liked 'toxic thoughts' for the alliteration value, but both describe the basic problem with many of our mental disorders. PTSD, anxiety, depression, and others are rooted in toxic thinking. The thoughts of fear drive the body's fear response when there is nothing to be afraid of in the immediate area. After a while the adrenaline reaction becomes habitual and the body begins suffering the effects of over-reacting to nothing. In some cases, I have found the Modified Stationary Panic (MSP) to work. It gives the body something to do with that adrenaline reaction. However, not every social situation is suitable for doing a Russian squat dance, or jumping jacks, or whatever physical activity seems appropriate at the time.

A better solution is to fight. Not fight as in pick the biggest fellow in the room and start insulting his favorite pet, but resist as in 'resist the Devil and he will flee from you' fight. We resist the Devil with the same method Jesus used - The Word of God. We are given a sword, the Word, and I suggest we start swinging it. If you want to translate that to a modern metaphor: let us memorize scriptures that refute the Devil's favorite accusations and use that as ammunition in our spiritual side arm. When the Devil draws down on you with those toxic thoughts, fire back some scripture bullets.

Have a great weekend! Enjoy the Super Bowl! God bless you all!