Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Lights Went Out

Easter Saturday is here! Time for the annual message about God turning out the lights as His Son gave His life on the cross. A little power outage at the Super Bowl makes international news. Imagine what 3 hours of darkness might do around the world. Darkness is something we fear in our worldly minds. We grow up with a fear of the dark. Horror movies are filmed in low light to give the idea of darkness. Three hours of unexpected darkness would bring things to a halt on the daylight side of the world. Productivity out the window as people left their desks to stare into the darkness. Would electric lights go out as well? We don't know.

Yesterday, we thought about who God would receive comfort from at the time of His Son's death. Perhaps the darkness was three hours of heavenly mourning. The perfect God may not need comfort, or He may receive comfort from the knowledge of what His Son's death accomplished. For three hours though on that day, the world gained three hours of soul-searching darkness. Did one ask, "What have we done?" A bit later a Gentile centurion observed, "Truly this Man was the Son of God!"

Earthquake, darkness, opened tombs, dead saints paying a visit to many, the veil of the temple torn in two from top to bottom, did someone remark from an inn yard in Jerusalem, "I never know when something is going on." Many have died on this earth in various ways, but no one died like this Man, the Son of God. No one accomplished as much in death as this Man did for us.

Tomorrow, Resurrection Day, also known as Easter. We celebrate the risen Lord, our Savior. In God we trust!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Trusting in God is My Happy Place

Good Friday morning! I met a man this morning who lost a son. The man knew about my God, who also lost a son. I am blessed beyond anything I deserve. This morning I thought that my devotional would be that trusting in God is my happy place, and then I met a man who lost a son, and you know the rest of the story. Trusting in God leads us to a place that cannot be explained by human methods and strength.

We all have tragedies in our lives that should lead us to rampant bitterness, anger, rage, and all manner of hatred toward God and then lead us to questions about the why's and wherefore's of this messed up place He created. But then, on this day of all days, we meet a God who gave up His Son that we may live...forever. God knows the worst of our feelings of loss and anger, His Son bore them on the cross. God knows how easy it might be to turn a bitterness to hatred; He knows all things. God sent a way out of that tendency we share. He sent His Son to save us from this sin.

There is more to God's sharing too. Sons and daughters, wives and husbands, mothers and fathers, friends, siblings, buddies, pets (yes, them too), we have all lost those we treasure in this life, and God has been there with us through every loss. His Holy Spirit grieves with us, comforts us, and shares those feelings that we don't think we can ever endure again. Who comforted God when His Son died on the cross?

With that thought on this Crucifixion Day, we'll await our next observance of Resurrection Day or Easter. Tomorrow, though I do not know what tomorrow will bring, if God is willing - The Lights Went Out.

God bless you and keep you, and make His face to shine upon you,

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Love is the Greatest!

Good morning on this warmish Thursday morning! I notice that walking longer/farther is much easier on a warm morning. Hopefully this is not the first of many rather obvious insights I will have today. Why is love the greatest. Paul said it. Jesus commanded it. That last one alone should seal the deal, but we still want to know why. The Bible seems to speak of faith more often, but names love as the greatest. Perhaps God could not save us because He had faith in us. Oops, that seems rather obvious too. We can't even have faith in each other, the very best of us can fail through no fault of our own. God must have opened the way to salvation because of His love for us. Hooray, Love is the greatest!

Our faith is a bit of leaky vessel, we must admit. I come to God with my request, and almost immediately the thought of a backup plan comes to mind. "But if you don't want to do that Lord, then I will..." That isn't faith, or at the most it's faith of the very least kind. The good news for me is that the least of God's love is greater than the best of my faith. When a doubt creeps in the door of my heart almost before the words of faith are out of my mouth, God's love stands firm. We are saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus. Faith does play a part, and we are encouraged to work with the Lord as He grows our faith, but love had to come first. Love arrived in the prophecy of a child.

The Law showed our sin in no uncertain terms. God said, "Thou shalt not!" and immediately we felt the urge to do exactly what was forbidden. Before Moses could bring the tablets of the Word down from the mountain, the thous were looking for a cow to worship. Which explains why thous-ands of them died in the wilderness without seeing the promised land. Violations of the Law carried the death penalty. Love brought us a new way that gives life. Jesus said that he came that we might have life.

Love healed the sick, opened the eyes of the blind, and told the lame to get up and walk. Love patiently explained parables, told of blessings, and reminded all that He would come again. Love told us to have faith in that promise. Doubts speak fear into our faith, but Love upholds His Word. The universe is not upheld because God believes in us, it is upheld because the love of His Son is greater than our fear, our doubts, and our leaky faith vessel. God's love for us produced a Son who gave His life that we might live. God's grace affirms that love by forgiving the doubts, fears, and all other sin we struggle with daily. God's love says, "Ask me for more faith, and I will gladly give to you!"

All my love to you on this fine morning!

P.S. To those of you reading on the blog, this is the 2,000th published post - a milestone! God's provision has brought me this far. I don't know the day or hour when I will be ordered home, but until that time, I will work toward another 2,000 posts. Yours in Christ Jesus, Bucky

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Vengeance Belongs To God

As I try to work out how many seconds my not-very-many watt microwave needs to heat up my cornbread, I realize that I made some quite good cornbread yesterday. I like cornbread, and it has the added value of being inexpensive to make. However, I cannot but help think of those who would very much enjoy a piece of cornbread, or any other bread for that matter, on their plate this morning. Who speaks for these poor of the world? While wealth pours into the rich man's accounts, who will avenge those the world treats so badly?

Near the end of Schindler's List, the camp commandant, Amon Goethe, is hung from a makeshift gallows. To those who suffered under his reign, a simple hanging could never be enough to make up for the terror and death of the camp. Who will take vengeance upon this man? If the actual man, and there was one by that name, committed the acts of murder and terror portrayed in the movie, who will carry out justice? Of course we know the answer to that from the Bible.

God reserves vengeance to Himself. Yes, even on cats committing the heinous crime of playing with my colored pencils. Not to fear, a cat playing on my drawings is an improvement to my 'art'. I shy away from the issue at hand this morning because that is what we must do at times. The desire for vengeance is one of those overwhelming feelings that arises in our carnal hearts. This is one that we must flee to the Lord from when anger combines with the desire to get 'em back. We try to 'get even' when we know that is not possible. Leave it to God, who knows hearts, minds, motivations, and of course, the circumstance far better than you or I.

Praise the name of our Lord Jesus!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Bit of God's Wisdom

Yeeoww! I didn't wear enough hat this morning for my little stroll down to Bible study. My ears are thawing, but perhaps a bit of weather wisdom might be better for me. So much wisdom abides in our Lord and in His Word, can I get a little in me, please? As we look back on our lives thus far, we find it easy to see examples of some very unwise decisions. For some of us, it might be that we should have looked a bit deeper into the person who looked so good in that dress or suit. For others, perhaps that snazzy new car could have waited a few years. All the would have, should have, and could haves don't stand up to save us though. Here is a bit of God's wisdom to pass along today - everything we have messed up, God can easily fix up.

Some wisdom comes from experience, but that is a harsh teacher. God will allow us to go our way if we insist on it. We often learn some bitter lessons this way. However, I would like to learn a few lessons from my Lord, preferably without all the pain of experience. The proverbs collected by Solomon are a good place, but the parables of Jesus might be better still. I know that some teachers think that we should not place more emphasis on the red lettered parts of the Bible, but shouldn't we look to the words right from the source first? Good news there, Jesus didn't write down any of the Bible with his own human hands.

All of the Bible as we know it came through human agents. I think that God had even the gospel writers put it down on paper later just for this reason. We don't know if John kept a journal as the little group of disciples traveled around Galilee and Judea, but it seems that all of the gospels were recorded well after the death and ascension of our Lord. Jesus could certainly have picked scribes to be his disciples, well except for the fact that so many didn't believe in Him, but he picked fishermen and a tax collector among others. Jesus could have come to earth after the video camera was invented, but He didn't.

The bit of God's wisdom in this may be that in reading "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." We also remember "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Jesus quoted often from the Old Testament perhaps to remind us that God's Word from the olden times had not been set aside. The prophets have much to say in the OT about what is coming soon for us now. We ignore that at our peril. Numbers tells the story of Balaam and God making his donkey talk to him about the wisdom of not trying to plow over God's angels. If God can make Balaam's donkey talk, He can certainly fix up my little problems!

God be praised today and every day!

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Next Faithful Thing

Good Monday morning on this great week that culminates in Resurrection Day. I have heard some tell us to just do the next right thing. Whatever the Lord has called us to do, we should have a next thing on our plate. We have neighbors to help, and a God to worship. We also have charities to give to, and a government in need of taxes. However, friends and relatives may disagree on what is the next right thing for me, you, and each other. Perhaps the next thing is not a voting matter.

In place of what the world might say is the next right thing, I think that my job is to do the next faithful thing. If God has called me to be poor for a season, a year, or a decade, then I will be poor in faith. If God has called me to great riches then I shall manage them in faith. Notice that poverty doesn't require management. Anything that is a condition of nothing requires little or nothing in the way of management. If we are blessed with a talent in some area of life, we are responsible to manage that talent and use it for the glory of God. If we have no talent in football for example, we are okay to just watch it. If you cannot sing well, then make a joyful noise with the congregation but don't force them to listen to you mangle a song on your own. I prefer the privacy of the shower myself.

What about faith? Is that a talent to be managed? Yes, but this one is a little different. If you bear the title of Christ-one, then you bear some of His great faith. Does your faith feel as tiny as a mustard seed? Jesus told a parable about the mighty plant that grew from the smallest of seeds. I must manage whatever faith God has given me to do the next faithful thing. This morning, that faithful thing is not to get up speaking words of defeat, but to come to God in prayer on my knees with my faithful requests. And it works too!

God does not always command me to get on my knees to pray, but other times He does to distract me from the circumstance. A little pain in the knees by way of a sacrifice does wonders to focus the mind on praying with a purpose. No long and rambling monologues that wander off into random thoughts when the knees are reminding one to stay on target. The next faithful thing may be a squashing of dark thoughts, a halting of that dread maelstrom in its tracks. Other times I may need to ask God what that next faithful thing is to be on a morning or evening. Your next faithful thing may be to serve well at work, or to get a night's sleep.

Trust in God and abide in the True Vine today.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Winter Is Back!

Snow, cold, and a little wind, the spring is on hold for the weekend. Does it feel like winter will never end? Every year we get an example of how winter for some folks just will not give way to a springtime of the soul. The curse in Narnia lay heavily on the land, it was always winter but never Christmas as the evil White Witch held the land in her powerful grip. For some of us, that is a perfect description of life here on this earth. We don't like it, but we also don't truly know what to do about it.

Last night, I woke up with the thought of what happens just before the winter ends. In boot camp, the toughest time was not the start, or the end, but somewhere past the middle and not quite the end. The same held true in college, and in every other tough project or job in life. The start of a winter is always fun as the first snow covers the ground and the winter coats and hats come out of storage. However, in time the winter grows old and tiresome. We know that spring will come, God promised that the seasons would always turn until the end comes, but that winter seems so long just before the end. The proverb goes: The night is always darkest just before the dawn. And so it is with winter, or a difficult project, or a tribulation. Jesus told us, "He who endures to the end will be saved." I don't think that our Lord meant this only for the final Great Tribulation. We all must learn to endure to the end each tribulation that comes our way. We will be restored in due time!


Friday, March 22, 2013

What Did Moses Feel?

Good Friday morning to you! Not quite the Good Friday, but it's getting close. This morning I thought about Gideon and his mission, but then I also thought about Moses. What did Moses feel when God gave his marching orders? We get some indication by the excuses Moses gave right off. What might it feel like to us though, ordered back to a place where they know you...and they know what you did. Moses didn't get that dreaded mission to the Congo, he got something perhaps worse - go back to your home town.

Moses carried a burden, the guilt of a murder. Not only that, he carried the memory of some scoffers among his own people. At the time of his meeting with God, Moses thought he had it made as a shepherd and husband. Nope, God met him in the wilderness and mentioned this little project. Go back to Egypt and convince the leader to give up his free labor force. The days of Joseph were long gone. The Hebrews were now enslaved, and as we can imagine, the masters had probably come to enjoy their free labor. God would take care of the back pay later, but at this time Moses only knew that Pharaoh was not likely to give up his slaves. Now, before Moses started up the plagues to show God's power, he had to travel back home.

First, how does your wife greet the news of packing up and moving away from family, friends, and the home? "I thought you'd never ask!" I'm guessing that wouldn't be her first reaction. Travel for a vacation is one thing, packing up the household and moving is something else entirely. Then, Moses had the journey back to the place where he might just be arrested by the nearest execution squad. God told Moses that those men had passed, but we never doubt God, do we? Even when we have faith and do not doubt, I suspect that someone, the one we know as the Devil, went along with Moses to remind him of the past, just like that one does with you and me. "You're walking right back to the gallows, boy!" If he took his eyes off of his God, Moses had plenty of time for fear and dread to steal his joy. However, from the rest of the story, we know that Moses went on to bring his people out of Israel. Wow, it must be early morning or something. Okay, he brought his people out of Egypt in the biblical story. In Bucky's befuddled brain who knows where Moses and the Israelites were going. 'Israel' just typed right out there without even a typo. Praise the Lord for our Bible, you can check it against my examples to make sure Moses was going the right direction.

God bless you on this Friday morning!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

My Way of Faith

I claim it because the Lord gave it to me to keep forever. I had one question this morning when I set out to walk and talk with the Lord. What is my way of faith? Of course, in the back of my brain I looked for a set of instructions, but we already know that doesn't work. One has only to turn back in the Bible to the Law to find a complex and complete set of instructions for living the perfect life. An entire nation could not keep those instructions and rebelled against God seemingly at the turn of every scripture page. I am not better than the ancient Israelites, and a set of instructions is not the way of faith. However, what about a general way of life that I already own?

Years ago, as a part of my treatment of healing for PTSD, a counselor gave me a passage of scripture to memorize. God made sure that I had time to work on memorizing these verses for some time before I asked Him to give me a way of faith. Here it goes, from memory:

REJOICE! in the Lord always, again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds through Christ Jesus. Finally brethren, whatever things are good, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things. Philippians 4:4-8

That is my way of faith. At first, I thought that the first promise is the one of peace, but then I saw that the Lord is at hand. But that isn't the first promise either. The first promise is rejoicing always. How is that even possible? That is of course the first promise, that in the Lord it is possible to rejoice always. Some circumstances may seem too sad for rejoicing, but we are not to rejoice in the circumstance but in the Lord. Every circumstance has a lesson for us, sometimes a reward, and sometimes a journey into deeper faith. Step by step, the first step in my way of faith is to learn to rejoice in the Lord always.

God bless,

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Serving the One, Assaulted by the Other

Good Wednesday morning to you! “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own." John 10:14 A flock of sheep is probably easier to know that each individual shep. (shep?) The flock looks so much alike that we don't even have a singular word different from the plural, so I tried to make one up. Yet, we get the impression from this verse that Jesus knows more than just the flock in general, He knows each of us intimately. As individual sheep we serve our Good Shepherd because He first served us. Does this service put us at odds with anything or anyone? It most certainly does.

Why, I ask myself, should I be surprised that in serving my Good Shepherd, the wolf that growls at the gate now wants to devour me. I got it! If it's geese and goose, that means it must be sheep and shoop! Now I know why we don't use the singular word; who wants to be known as a shoop? Back to the point, knucklehead. That wolf at the gate is the world and its prince. The world system is now seeking to devour those who choose to join the flock. Does it seem that no matter what you try nothing works and things go from bad to worse? Welcome to the flock!

In the end times, the prophet warns that the evil one will prevail against God's people. The flock is going to suffer much as the Tribulation draws near. Those without the mark of loyalty to the world's evil system will not be able to buy or sell at some point. Do you find it interesting that after all this time, those who believe will be dependent upon God alone to provide for them? I wonder if they/we will see manna in that time. If we are still here at that time, remember to only gather enough for the day.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Court of the Cross

Good day or G'day! if you feel it today. How do you plead today? Guilty, that is probably the only acceptable plea in this court to the charges against you or me. What is this court though, and who made the law? The first time we came before the court of the cross, several choices came to mind. The charges listed were many, and those who believe in Christ could not answer to one single charge. Therefore, we plead guilty and asked for mercy from the judge of this court. Forgiveness, mercy, grace, and the love of Jesus our Lord cascaded down upon us in the form of the Holy Spirit as our Lord, the judge himself, took the penalty for our sin. However, not everyone pleads guilty and takes their mercy like a man. (Feel free to substitute 'accepts it with grace and beauty like a lady' or some other phrase you like.)

Some would plead no contest to the charges. Yes, they have sinned now and again, but death is just the end, there is nothing more so why should they contest the charges since it all won't matter in the end. Others plead not guilty; they are good people and God, if He is loving as they say, would never throw people who are basically good into the jail for all eternity. After all won't most people except for a few of the very worst, serial killers and such, end up in heaven anyway? they ask. Some refuse to recognize the court at all. There is no god, they say with sincerity, and only the weak-minded need a religion to comfort them. A select group would lord it over the court. To them all gods are but constructs of the human imagination. They cannot be convicted by an imagination, so they put themselves in charge and declare the court invalid. Strangely, the one known as the accuser of the brethren may like this group best of all, though he knows quite well the judge is neither invalid nor an invalid.

One day this court will meet for the final judgment. Like it, hate it, or refuse to believe in it, the Bible says that the court will meet and the books will be opened. I think it quite possible that the actual cross will be there. The only hope in this court is the one who died on that cross. Anyone relying on their own goodness will find it to be less than good enough. The people who thought that heart attack, or accident, or bullet was the end, will wake up to rather a shock. Those who would refuse the court's authority will find it completely authoritative. Those who refuse to believe there is a judge will see His face. Those who look forward to some sort of second chance, probation, or reduced sentence may despair most of all. We have one chance, one life, to plead guilty and accept the mercy of a substitute for God's justice - don't throw it away!


Monday, March 18, 2013

The Faith Has Come!

Good Monday! I hope you are off to work or school with a song in your heart. If we can't have that, maybe a nice cheerful song in your head will help. No? It's a Monday and nothing can make you sing this morning? Sorry to hear that. The children here in northeastern Colorado are going back to school after a week off today. That didn't help? Made it worse in fact. Wow, you got the Mondays real bad. Maybe you woke up in faith today.

We like to have everything just right on a Monday, or perhaps any other day as well. The pantry is well-stocked, the bank account is bulging, the bills are paid, the body feels strong, work is a cool breeze on a warm day, and we have that big vacation coming up. Sounds good, we even wrap that up as a request for God and everything will be just right when He gets that done for us.

However, faith wakes up and the journey is still before us. The bed is warm, but only because we are still in it. Work is a monster waiting to spring at us and the only thing holding it at bay is the fact we haven't opened the door yet. The cat/kids/dog/spouse or whatever else we have is hollering to be fed. The body cries out for some sort of overall pain relieving, mood altering, and jump-starting medication, but Aleve will have to do for now. The bills are still on the counter and the bank account is insufficient. Vacation is a forgotten dream and the body couldn't handle the one the spirit saw on television last night in any case. Wow, it's just another Monday and it's so much like every other day. Faith cries out in the voice of worldly woe, "Help me, Lord!"

Just perfect! Faith is right where the Lord wants it to be on this fine Monday. Back in the days of unbelief, we thought that fame, riches, athletic strength, and our glory therein was just what we needed out of this life and we set out to get it. God was addressed in a passing manner, usually because everyone else around us was using His name in the same way. The words after His name weren't always very nice, but we paid Him no attention. Faith was something for the weak; strength of mind and body something we held up for all to see. Then the world got a hold of us, chomped up and down a few times, nibbled and tore a few things, and spat us back out. Faith woke up and realized that its strength was weakness, its intellect stupid, its riches treacherous, and its glory tarnished. How did life get so difficult?

You may have some of the strength of youth left, a bit of the riches may cling to you in a good job, you might even enjoy a bit of glory still in your professional or personal life. However, by this point God has most likely spoken to you in a tragedy somewhere along the line. Your faith has awakened to the strength, wisdom, and riches of God's glory. As things have gone from bad to worse at times, you have prayed the earnest prayers of faith and found where the things you sought in youth have failed. Faith knows that I am weak, but God is the Almighty. Faith knows that I am poor, but God owns the cattle on a thousand hills. Faith knows that fame is loaded with peril, earthly riches betray the proud, and strength of body are fleeting. Faith knows that we have a savior in Christ and living in His strength is the best place to be, even on a Monday.

God bless us all, every one, and may the strength and courage of Christ Jesus be with you today.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Pop It Like Esther

Good morning! After much effort, the work is done. Song, story, painting, or spoken word, you have something to present to the world. One little problem, nothing in it seems to mention God, or His Son, or for that matter even a stray apostle or two. What about this work is to the glory of God? Guilt overwhelms, what horrors the wicked heart has dredged up! Hold on there just one moment. Pop culture is a wicked place for the most part, but perhaps a little translation might be in order to get a person's attention. Jesus stands at the door and knocks, and maybe with a little help from one of your works or deeds, a sinner might be convinced to walk to that door in the heart-wall to open it.

You belong to God since the day of your creation, and twice belong to God with the day of your repentance and salvation. Do you not think that God can guide the work of your hands to glorify His name? You may have spent the day programming a computer, building a car, or staring at the walls in a doctor's office, but somehow, and we don't always understand how, we are here glorifying God in our work.

Great novels, songs, and paintings have glorified God overtly, but others have been more subtle. Yet, the readers, viewers and listeners have heard what is behind the front. A person may deliberately act stupid, but the Holy Spirit speaks to the heart, and we realize when an author, painter, or a worker on the shop floor believes in God. We may not sign a work with the name of God's Son explicitly, but it will show in our efforts. This cat behind me is not labeled, 'God', but for those who believe we can see God's handiwork in the wonder of this creature. Yes, we do at times see the influence of the curse of this fallen world too. As God's work, you and I are written on in the bold strokes of God's Son. This will show in our work, whether we state it or not. Your work may be like the book of Esther. God's name is not stated, but His influence is there for those who want to see it.


Friday, March 15, 2013

Enough To Satisfy The Quest

Good Friday! Hope you enjoy this St. Patrick's Day weekend. This morning are you on a quest? Seeking knowledge perhaps, or maybe you are on a quest for something that will satisfy a yearning. We all have our quests, some spoken and others unknown even to us. A terrible fate though is to fund a quest that does not satisfy. The object of the quest proves unattainable, or worse, the object of the quest comes too easily or does not satisfy the need. Many have found their quest aimed at the wrong desire or object. Others attain their heart's desire only to find that the wicked heart has misled them. The stuff that piles up in the home and garage is infamous for not satisfying. Money is treacherous and slippery. Our quest must be for something more, uh, more... we may not even be sure 'more of' we are looking for.

A quest in God's word satisfies. I don't know how God does it, but this word written thousands of years ago holds treasure that fills the need in my heart and soul. Sometimes the quest is for an immediate need, and the Word provides ready answers. Other times, the quest is only satisfied with much digging and searching, then the Word gives slowly and requires much effort. Once in a while a surprise fulfills a quest that I did not realize as I read at random. Other times, a context is provided in a story not contained in the Bible. A Christian fiction novel may hold a bit of the Word in a story that touches my heart. You might say that I have been parabled, in that case.

If you and I will let God's word into our hearts through study and reading, or even just opening the cover and letting the dust fall off, we will find our quest satisfied. Trust in Jesus.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

How About Servant?

Good Thursday morning! Congrats to the Catholic Church on their newly elected Pope. I hear many words and sound bites about this new leader, but what about the title Jesus told us to take if we want to lead: servant? Of course looking for a reformer to lead your group speaks of a need for reformation. The same thing must come before salvation. Something in our heart or in our life leads us to see the need for salvation, and we realize then the need for a savior.

It should not surprise anyone that the course of a life must bottom out before the unbeliever will look up for the strength to save. The blessing is that whatever it takes to reach the unknowing or unbelieving mind, God will take to recover His own. A drunk waking up in a gutter with blood on his face from an unknown injury knows that his sinful behavior must stop, and he looks to God. A man lays in a hospital bed knowing that life up to that point has been lived for him alone, and he looks up to God for the strength to live for Him alone. (Nah, that never happens! ) We have our stories of God reaching out to touch just the right place in our miserable, unbelieving lives. We also have prophecy.

The dreadful seals, trumpets, and vials in the Revelation are God's final attempt to reach those who belong to Him. To those who refuse to believe this is nothing but a mean and awful punishment, but then isn't much of life that already? It seems to me a better thing to suffer for the cause of Christ than to suffer in this life only to prepare for an eternity of suffering.

To life in Christ, and the promise of more to come!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Trip to The Cinnamon Shoals

Good morning! I just made that place up, but it has a nice sound to it. (I might have made up something similar last March, and the one before that...) We might imagine an island where cell phones do not work and pagers fail to buzz, but we have full access to the Internet at any time. The breezes are cooling but not chilling, the weather is a nice 75° at night and 85° in the daytime. A person there can sleep on the beach and not fear ATV's, cars, sand fleas, skeeters, or the tide. Sharks are not allowed in the lagoon of Cinnamon Shoals, so the swimming is fine in a body of water that is cool in the afternoon but warm in the morning. Science has no explanation why hurricanes and typhoons avoid this particular island, and no earthquake has ever been noticed. The inhabitants are glad to serve, but know also when to leave a person in peace and solitude. The island cuisine is tasty, and for some unknown reason causes body fat to melt away. Best of all, Cinnamon Shoals outlawed daylight savings time many years ago.

March is the tail end of winter in the northern world and we may find it easy to fantasize about warm places and less work. For many, March is the third month without an extra day off for a holiday and spring just won't quite spring. Winter weight is hard on the body and worse on the mind, but the weather has not yet warmed enough to get out walking on a steady basis. We might be caught staring outside, but most days are too windy, too cold, or just plain windy and cold. Life would be so much better if it wasn't so much like life right here and now! Then Paul told us to learn to be content in our circumstance. Why did he have to go and say that? But Jesus said that whoever despises his life in this world will find it. Did we choose to walk a narrow road or what?

Of course, we despise our inclination toward sin, and strive to be content in our current situation to the glory of God. It's like a fantasy that somehow goes astray. I dream of the beautiful island, but then I want my laptop or something with me that requires electricity like a full home entertainment center. Cords stretch across my beach, and a mice library to pass the sunny days would be good too. Whoops, I guess that's in case the mice I keep around for the cat want to read in their little cage. For my pet is on the beach too, even if it has too much fur to be comfortable in my fantasy paradise. Soon, a car to get back and forth to that little native chain store for more stuff would be nice. And who is this quite attractive woman winding her way through my aisles of stuff on my perfect beach? Hmm, my perfect March fantasy has gone from a bit of idle dreaming to a whole lot of trouble with the Lord's Law. Do you suppose that is why I am to be content in this circumstance where I live now?

God bless and keep you,

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mission: Weep

Good Tuesday morning to you. My geezes were back today. Must be something good about going to Bible study when it hurts a bit. Yup, that alarm went off mighty early this morning, or at least it seemed that way. Mission for today: research plutocrats (the very wealthy) and contrast their lives with our current state of poverty. Report: I can't, I'm weeping too much.

The difference in resources between the very wealthy and most of us is so great today that we have plenty to weep over in this world. Did Jesus spend a lot of time correcting that state in His ministry? There was a rich young man Jesus told to give away his wealth and then to come and follow. Jesus did contrast the giving of the wealthy with the giving of a widow and her two mites. Jesus did say that the poor would always be with us, but the Bible does not record Him walking the streets handing out bags of gold. However, Jesus did feed thousands at two memorable occasions in the scripture. Jesus was aware of the poor, and He told them not to worry.

How can we know that message was for the poor? Who worries about whether they will have enough to eat or something to wear tomorrow? The poor. The rich do not need to worry for those things. I find it amusing and enlightening that Jesus did not hand a poor fellow a bag of money, but said to not worry for our Father is aware of the need. If I look at the world and its inequality, I am moved to weep. But, when I look to the Father in faith, and learn to trust completely, I have no reason to weep over the poor. I do see the need to bring all of us before God in prayer. I believe God sees all needs, but I also think He likes to be asked and most definitely trusted. Trust in God is the real wealth, not what someone else may have in their bank account. Trust is more difficult to learn and requires the greater faith. Trust Him.


Monday, March 11, 2013

Grateful Acceptance

Good Monday morning! Sorry about the time change thing. Oh, the spring leap ahead feels so wonderful when that Monday morning alarm sounds. I'm doing my best not to sound sarcastic when I say that. Just reminding myself often this morning that grateful acceptance is a central part of our faith in Christ. We don't always want it to be. We want a prescription for years of diligent study, a certain diet, workouts of the body, pilgrimage to various neato places, and then some award shows along the way to mark our progress and get a little attention. All of that sounds pretty good, some of it might even be useful in our Christian growth, but none of it starts the ball rolling with God.

A grateful acceptance of the love and grace of our Lord Jesus is where we begin this journey. Forgiveness of sin and mercy toward us is bound up in the grace we must humbly and gratefully accept. We cannot work for it. No one can earn it or deserve it. We must simply bow down and accept it with a grateful heart. Along the way of tribulation that comes after our salvation by Christ is some of those things we are looking for such as diligent Bible study. However, we must also accept gratefully a changed heart that desires these things. If God gave us His mercy, and then moved on to the next person we would not change our behavior. We must continue to gratefully accept our new lives as the Spirit moves us.

Prayer for today: I gratefully accept the strength God gives me to do what He would have me to do! I know that in my old, sinful state, I would not do this new thing, whatever it may be. I need and gratefully accept that motivation and strength that comes from God alone in this new life in Christ Jesus. Thank you, Lord!


Saturday, March 09, 2013

No Warning?

As the blizzard gets cranked up right on time this morning, I think back to the historical stories of the great plains blizzards of yesteryear. In those days, a warning was hard to come by. Children became entrapped at schools, a church service might become a shelter gathering, and people caught out in the open died. The survivors wrote of ominous moaning winds, shrieking gales, and sudden blinding snow sweeping in across the frozen prairie. We benefit from their experience in our warning and forecasting systems of today.

Knowledge of an impending tornado or blizzard grew from the tragedies. Records were kept, scientists conducted research, and today we are blessed to note that our storms by and large tend to start right on time. We have plenty of warning. In fact, we are surprised when people do not take shelter in time or flee the path of many calamities today. All of this comes at a time when Christians must admit that we cannot name the time of a disaster that will quickly strike the world.

Of course, I speak of that blessed event in which all those who believe in Jesus will be snatched up from the earth in less time than it takes to blink your eyelids. For the world, this will be an unparalleled disaster. Jesus speaks of pairs of people in various activities when one is taken and the other left. We can only imagine the surprise, shock, and bafflement of those left to stare at the empty places. Today, we will have no more warning of this event than at any other time in history.

A man hears the command to kiss his bride. He leans down and lifts the veil to find... no one underneath the cloth! Another sees the head of his newborn daughter peek into the new world, and then... he is staring at an empty place where his wife lay; the doctor is staring at the place where his nurse stood. Hmm, I seem to be favoring the ladies here, must be a subconscious thing. The point is that the moment of the Rapture will be so sudden that there will be time for nothing. No action, no goodbye, just life as we know it one moment, and then life as we will receive it in Christ and with Christ for eternity. Yes, it is hard not to think of that moment when driving down the Interstate at 75mph. What will happen to the truck? (Not to worry, I'm not writing this while driving!)

I wonder this morning, if perhaps the safety devices that shut down vehicles and machines that are more and more common in the world is in preparation for that event we look for. Just something to ponder for a Saturday morning.

God's grace and truth to you on this fine morning!

Friday, March 08, 2013

We Were Part of the Problem

Good Friday morning! Hermmm, my walk was geezless this morning. Perhaps the flocks are insulted by my abuse of the name. I shall go above their heads and put in a request with their Creator for more geeze flocks in the morning. Of the many sins listed in the Bible, I am not going to pick one out to pick on today. We were all part of the problem at one time. In the world, we would desperately like in our carnal hearts for everyone to be basically decent. The carnal heart would like everyone to have a ticket to heaven except for a few truly heinous souls that we can all somehow agree were too evil to be allowed past the pearly gates. This is in opposition to what the Bible says. In fact, no one has a ticket to Heaven and no one will be allowed past the pearly gates based on basic human decency.

The baby named Moses needed a reed basket to stay afloat on the river because in his natural state he would drown. We are born the same way. All us came into this world underwater in our sins. We needed a savior, and God sent His Son to be our Savior. It wasn't that we decided to be born into sin, we just happened to be that way. We did not get to decide our birthplace, but we very much need an outside hand to lift us out of that dark place.

I too would in my carnal heart like to have everyone born neutral. Walk the line of good behavior, make your good deeds more positive than your evil deeds and have Peter check the balance and see that most everyone is okay to enter heaven. We would all arrive in this heaven and find that God is not there. What happened? Well, according to the Bible, God's justice would not be satisfied with that. He would not have a bunch of 'good' people with Him in heaven, He would have a bunch of sinners. The lie we want to believe in our carnal heart is that a good deed makes up for a sin. We were part of that problem.

Any sin is a rebellion against God, and not one of us can make up for that by a good deed done to selfishly save our self. Paul reminds us that all have sinned and fallen short of God's standard. Isaiah tells us that our good deeds are as filthy rags. How can we save ourselves? Born into an ocean of sin, what land would we stand on to avoid the drowning? Our deepest need is a Savior from our sin, and God in His glorious love has provided One. Praise the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We were part of the problem, and now we have a message of hope for a drowning world.


Thursday, March 07, 2013

Negatively Great, Positively Greater

Good Thursday morning as thousands of gooses fly overhead - oops, make that 'geeze'. Okay, the tribulation is in full swing. You are familiar with every rock in the valley of death's shadow. In fact, you distinctly remember stubbing your spiritual toes more than once. The surface of the water would be nice, but you are not treading water, you are struggling well under the surface. If the ocean's smooth surface is zero, your weakness is negatively great. However, high above the clouds sits the throne of God. The seat of His glorious power. His strength is positively greater than your negative weakness. How will the two come together though to give your poor soul a positive freighting?

In His Holy Spirit, God feels your struggles! You are not alone. While God knows of the struggle through His omniscient knowledge, He feels the struggle in His Holy Spirit. Does the trial seem especially great this time; your head far below any surface that you can imagine in the darkness? God feels that too in His Spirit. Your prayer for help is heard in Heaven and felt in the Spirit. Hold on, struggle to endure, and above all trust in God's timing and grace. What will come out of this latest struggle in the shadow?

Each time we descend into that darkness which shows our negative weakness so well, our faith in God grows stronger. At times, the negative weakness may appear greater than ever before, but at such times God's positive strength has not faded. I would try to say that God's strength has grown stronger, but how can the Almighty become more mighty? Exactly the point to remember: God the Almighty One, holds us still. We will once more lay down beside the still waters in place of struggling beneath the surface. Be of good cheer, Christ has overcome the world!


Wednesday, March 06, 2013

There Must Be Something New To Try

Good morning as the sun begins to warm up the air this fine day. Nothing that I try works, everything I attempt fails, now I must trust in the Lord. At some point in our tribulations we may well reach a point where we say something much like that. Our strength is exhausted, the imagination dried up, and suggestions we hear are redundant or ludicrous. This will happen as we grow in our faith, and indeed God may want us at that place where we have nothing to offer by way of solution and must learn to trust in Him alone. However, we do at times try to shortcut that process.

We are tempted to think that after we have tried everything, then we should trust in God. But I say, trying to sound like my Lord Jesus, that we should trust in God before we do anything. Then, when we come to that place where we have attempted all we can think of, the trust we need is already in place. We might try to hold off the saving grace of our Lord by thinking that there must be something new to try. What am I missing? Just hold on a minute, Lord, while I try to think here. That solution will never come, because we know already that God's Son is the only way to be saved. So, why do we want to wait to trust in the Lord now? Yet the temptation is there we must admit. We all want to go to the Lord with the solution to say, "Look what I did for you, God!"

Our job as a Christian is to say to the world, "Look what God has done for me!" Let us start the conquest of our trials and tribulation by trusting in God at the first. Some tribulations can only be endured, there is no solution that will result in relief or healing. For those, trusting in God is the only choice, though we may not accept that truth at the first. Trust in God will also help us for that trial that has not arrived yet. Let us trust in God now, when we do not know what is stalking us around the next corner.

God bless you all,

Tuesday, March 05, 2013


Good morning after a fine Bible study and breakfast! Sometimes the adversary throws a 40-foot wall in front of you. The only recourse is prayer and waiting for God to work. On many days though, the assault is more of a bunch of obstacles thrown at you in succession. You go out to drive to work and all four tires are flat on your car. That's the 40-ft wall. Today, you cannot find your car keys for a moment or two, but then with keys in hand you forgot something else, a purse or wallet. Then, pockets patted down, accouterments checked, you think you are ready to go... and suddenly you realize that you do indeed need to go, to the bathroom that is. Kids can add a entire dimension to this morning obstacle course. However, wonder of wonders, you make it to work on time. A sigh of relief, a prayer of gratitude to God, and the day is underway.

Although the morning obstacle course took the mind completely off God for a while, it later served to remind us that He provides a way through the little obstacles in life. We overcome through a faith that we didn't think about in the rush of smaller problems. Larger problems fall to this same faith, but we may have more time to think about prayer and supplication. Life might be nothing more than a series of tiny problems, except that a good 40-foot wall every now and then slows us down enough to come before God in earnest prayer. God wants to hear from you and me.

Yes, Him, Jehovah, the Creator of all things wants to hear from His children. I still find that amazing. We don't need a pope, or a high priest, or some lengthy ritual of purification, we only need to use His name in the way He intended, and God hears our prayers and has time for each and every one of us. Wow!


Monday, March 04, 2013

He Delights In Me?

Good Monday! Do you delight in providing your children with things for them to play with? Do you delight in giving to the poor? Do you delight when a situation is most dire for a friend, but you have the solution? Of course you do! Why do we then think that God is stand-offish, or distant, or somehow just loves to see us suffer? We are His children now through faith in Christ. He delights in our well being. He delights in seeing us laugh. He delights in giving us good things. Our God delights in us - you, me, all of His special children.

Starting the day off with the thought that God delights in me is not common to my nature. The carnal desires see God as the master of the 'thou-shalt-not's'. The Law instills in me a desire to rebel against the very things that God says are good for me. However, there is grace, and is not my definition of grace just a little short of the reality? Grace is more than forgiveness, more than a cleansing growth within me pushing out the old carnal man. Grace is God delighting in His new child, giving the child things that both can enjoy together. These things may not be 'stuff' but a time of sharing together. The things may also include material stuff to enjoy with others of God's children. Don't limit God's grace with my shameful restrictions of self-pitying dread! Wow, where did that come from?

Sometimes, I have noticed a desire to wallow in suffering. Oh, God must love me, look at how much I have suffered. God does test our faith through the trial of suffering at times, but it is not His desire to see us suffer forever. How do I know that? Jesus would not have gone to prepare a place for me if eternal suffering was my destiny. Jesus is not preparing my place in Heaven as a memorial of what might have been if I didn't like suffering so much. No! It is time to rejoice in Christ and live as God would have me live.

Praise God for His delighting in me!

Saturday, March 02, 2013

What Would You Say

Good morning on this fine Saturday! Today, for just one frightening moment, pretend that you have a say. Not just a blog, or an e-mail, or even a letter to the editor, but a real say. The House of Representatives, the Senate, some or all of the Supremes in their black robes, the Joint Chiefs (Chieves?) of the armed forces are gathered in the big room awaiting the President of the United States. But! You are allowed all the time you need before the president speaks to have your say. What would you tell these so-called leaders of the free world? The media has dozens of television cameras trained on you, the world is waiting for the president to speak to Congress, but there you are with your opinions, your facts, one little vote for the next president, your needs and desires that perhaps these powerful folks can make better for just a brief moment in time. What would you say? Would you long to disappear into the nearest restroom?

Right now you can think of many things no doubt. But how to separate the selfish and mundane from what is really important. Let me set your mind at ease. Jesus didn't go to Rome to speak before the Senate. Jesus didn't take Caesar aside for a lengthy chat about the state of things in the world. Jesus only appeared before the Roman governor and the Judean authorities when his final moments came, and He refused to answer their charges. Perhaps our most important message, our one big responsibility, is not to set the world straight politically. Just maybe, the one message God would want us to give to our leaders and the world has already been given to us.

The Son of God spoke to a tax collector, a fisherman, the lame, the blind, a woman sneaking out to a well at mid-day to avoid the other residents of her town, a Roman commander, a man of small stature, and even made a special appearance to a man intent on destroying the fledgling church. Our most important message is meant for a neighbor, a friend, people much like you and me.


P.S. Okay, okay, I get it; the Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States are not to be referred to as 'the Supremes in their black robes'. Meh, which was more popular in their day?

Friday, March 01, 2013

Just Live by Faith

Good Friday morning on this first day of March. Hmm, March speaks of spring, or at least a bit of moderation in winter's cold. We often hear the verse quoted from Hebrews, "The just shall live by faith." With a little application we can turn that into a command: Just live by faith. I don't understand all that is going on in my life: Just live by faith. My body is full of these wicked ailments: Just live by faith. My heart will not let go of its ailing wickedness: Just live by faith!

We exercise our salvation, work out our sanctification, and seek God's glorification, but sometimes all that effort seems to be going nowhere. The struggle is good, and God will not let our efforts go to waste, but at the bottom line we must live by faith in Christ and His redeeming work. The glory of our salvation and the credit for our sanctification belongs to Jesus our Lord. We are blessed to play a part, but we give the glory to God for sending His Son to save us.

Grace and peace to you in Christ Jesus,