Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Ending Precedes the Beginning

Ah, what is there to talk about this morning but the cold? This is one of those mornings when I dressed up like an arctic explorer just to walk about 12 steps out the back door to feed the cat. I thanked the heater in the garage for doing a good job. I praised God for the furnace and waited for it to warm the house a bit before getting up. It's cold outside! Yet, we are also at the ending of a year. Each year we celebrate the passing of one year and the arrival of the new. I cannot help but think that each of these is much like what happened at the death and resurrection of our Lord.

What seemed to the apostles to be the end, was the beginning of something much better. Jesus told them this, but they could not believe it until the Lord met them again on the other side. The end that seemed so dark, was actually the gateway to a bright and beautiful beginning. Each year, we celebrate the passing darkness of one year and look forward to the start of the new year. Resolutions are made and the journey begins again. Easter celebrations are much the same, and indeed we may see another of those soon. If we wish, we can even begin the countdown to Christmas again. The possibilities of a new year shine as the old one is laid to rest.

One day, Jesus will help us to lay aside this old life, and what a beginning will come from that laying down! In much of the Revelation, a terrible ending is revealed to those who will believe. Then, at the very end of the Bible, we can read of the beginning that follows, and what a great promise for eternity it is!

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Eye on the Horizon, Face Plant in the Gully

Snow, clouds, pretty much the same as yesterday but colder. Roll out the word eschatology and I'm in. The study of the end times prophecies is one of my things to enjoy often. And the word sounds really impressive too! Too much of this can be a problem though. As my eye settles on the horizon, and my feet start walking there, I can do an ugly face plant in the gully I failed to see in life. Wait, not that my face is ugly, but the violent splat is ugly...oh, too late, I'm doomed to never live that one down.

We may enjoy a good study of the 'last' times. The puzzle is difficult enough that many Christians cannot resist. God gave us plenty to work on with conundrums and clues, flights of metaphor, and some plain - as in it seems perfectly obvious until someone asks some fool question - talk about what is going to happen. Yet, life begins each day right here in the present, and the end times may be far away in the future. Paul, Peter, John, and all the gang from ancient Judea thought the end times right at the door, just as do we this morning. Yet, nearly 2,000 years have passed without that final bang.

Walking with a bedazzled eye toward the horizon brings with it the danger of missing something important today. Sort of like tripping over the curb on a street while staring at the top of a distant mountain. We need to take the time to walk with Jesus in the present between our studying the end times prophecies and watching the signs. People live here in the present, and Jesus wants to save them just as much as the saints of the Great Tribulation.

Have a great today in Christ!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Cat Food & Coffee

Ah, I'm ready to start all that 'new year' stuff, but we are not quite there yet. This year must be finished properly. Each morning, I get up and do two things at about the same time. Feed the cats and put on the coffee. Both of these small tasks take several steps. The skipping of either could cause rebellion in the house. The cats won't do without their coffee, and I cannot stand to start the day without my cat food, or something like that. It is funny to see the cats standing there expecting a caffeine rush only to find out that I make decaf coffee. Little tasks and small responsibilities take up much of our day. Writing up a humorous twist to the chores may help for a bit, but the chores remain. Resist the doing of the dishes and the sink fills up and the kitchen begins to take on an unsavory aroma. Little jobs and little chores seem to be the filling in the barrel of a day.

A year is much the same way, we have all these little things that God has set before us. A person may look to that grand gesture, the big project, or the magnum opus to crown the year. Instead we seem to have this myriad of little tasks to finish the year properly. When Jesus spoke His final words on the cross, "It is finished", did He lay down His life with a great magnum opus of a task? Well, yes, yes He did - and we are greatly rejoicing even today that He paid the penalty for our sin - but He also saw to the things that seemed much smaller. Our Lord stopped on the way to speak to the women of Jerusalem. From the cross, Jesus took the time to see to Mary, His mother, and assign John His place as her son. Jesus made sure all was done properly even to the refusing of the sour wine and gall. He spoke to His Father of forgiveness for those crucifying Him. Every smaller task was fulfilled perfectly before Our Dear Lord gave up His spirit.

On that grand day, whatever my grand day is, I expect that it will begin with cat food and coffee. Small but important tasks to begin the day. Perhaps there are no more grand days left in this life, in which case I will finish with the little tasks. The maintainers of the Lord's kingdom are needed too!

Have a great and wonderful finish to this year in Christ!


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Worst? Hardly That!

Bright and cold, the worst combination of conditions came last night when it snowed all day then cleared off late at night. So, we have sun shining over the cold, cold ground. What about that is 'worst'? Many a combination of circumstances and weather can be much worse than what we have now. Indeed things are bad in many ways in the world right now with much suffering and grief. However, we also know that it could be much worse. We can see forces moving in the world as the end times seem right at the door. We can also look out and see much joy, peace, and kindness in the world. True, we may have to look more diligently and without the help of much of our usual media outlets, who, it seems, want to bring us all into a state of constant despair.

Ha, ha, it's warmer outside, technically, but it surely doesn't feel balmy or spring-like. I cleared the truck of snow and looked at the dazzling light for a bit. Of course to let the light of Jesus dazzle our eyes is probably the answer to the darkness of the world. Isaiah said, "​The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined." (9:2) Certainly one glance at the news gives us a view of the land of the shadow of death. Why not look at the light for a while?

Have a great Christmas weekend!

Friday, December 26, 2014

What Did Christmas Bring?

Good morning on this Friday after Christmas. I hope you had a most excellent Christmas this year. What did Christmas bring? While the years since have brought many new traditions that we enjoy today, that first Christmas brought a baby. Once the angelic choirs went home and the shepherds went back to the fields, Joseph still had to make a living for his little family. Mary couldn't avoid the issue of diapers or whatever it is they used for little babies back then. The new parents probably longed for a night's unbroken sleep like new parents do today. The fireworks and wonders of the holy birth were done and the new family faced life in a new town. Plus, there was still that Roman census thing hanging out there. Who knows how long that governmental thing took.

The day after Christmas can be for many a bit of a downer. The excitement and anticipation quickly fades into just another work day, or, if you work in retail, one of the more difficult workdays of the year. The ever increasing joy of Heaven seems so far away on a day when the spirits dip down a bit from the holiday. What we tend to forget is that Christmas was a beginning and not an ending. Jesus had come. The Savior, would grow up to walk the earth! Sometimes, God's beginnings are marked by wonders and emotional fireworks, but then the next day brings what looks like nothing the daily grind. Of course, we shouldn't feel that way!

Imagine Heaven and the great wedding feast of the Lamb. Do you anticipate having a 'next day' where you look at eternity with a feeling of being let down hard? No, that would be ridiculous. The wedding feast is a beginning. Jesus and His bride sealed for eternity. We look forward to ever increasing joy as we spend eternity with our Lord. Christmas too was a beginning, and it is today. We must shake off the sorrows and put on the joys of living in Christ. Have a merry Christmas every day of the year!


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas, Lord!

Yes, it is time to give the Lord our God a hearty "Merry Christmas, Lord!" on His day, or perhaps a "Happy Birthday!" would be more appropriate. Tomorrow, on Christmas Day, we celebrate the birth of Christ, so a birthday greeting does seem to fit the bill. However, this birth was something special. We rightly celebrate Christmas separately from those birthdays close to Christmas. When John the Baptist saw Jesus, he let everyone there know, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29) This child had a special birth announcement given to Mary by Gabriel, to Joseph in a dream, to the shepherds abiding in the field, and to some wise men living far away. Yes, Merry Christmas, Lord! We celebrate your birth in this season!

This birth came with a history of prophecy. For hundreds of years a people looked for the coming Messiah. The Savior arrived; stories of miracles spread far and wide. The blind healed, the lame made well, demons routed, and most of all, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Some looked for a king who would live according to their image of how a king should act. Jesus lived according to the will of His Father in Heaven. On Christmas, we celebrate so much given to us in the person of one small child.

May the love of the Christ live in you on this Christmas Eve,


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Day Before The Day Before Christmas

Ah, the great and wonderful story of Christmas, a good way to start a good day. But Christmas can also be a time of great stress and tension. Did I cook enough to feed all the guests? Will he like the present I got him? Will she know who that present is from, or does she even know that I exist? Did I ruin that pie? How come the neighbor's decorations look so much better than mine? Did I remember everyone on my list? Why didn't I make a Christmas list? We can pile on a lot of stress over the holidays. All the questions about eating too much usually come after, but the stress that causes the eating too much may pile up beforehand. The great thing about the Christmas story in the Bible is that none of that stress is present.

Almost all of what we stress over at Christmas time came after, as in many years after the story of God's great gift to us. Decorations, gifts, boughs, tinsel, parties, cooking, lists, shopping, and so on have nothing to do with the original Christmas. We can enjoy all that we have added on to Christmas, but perhaps if it causes too much stress we should let some of it go. Of course, most and perhaps all of the stress is worth it when the celebration arrives. Putting in the effort before can make the celebration that much better. Certainly we are reminded of what Mary and Joseph faced in the 70-mile trek from Nazareth to Bethlehem with Mary far along with her first child. Yet, whatever stress they faced, God went with them, and all was made worth the cost when the Christ child arrived.

Have a merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2014

A New Star

Ah, Christmas music on a Monday morning, what a great way to start the work week. Okay, your people have this legend. A scrap of a story passed down through centuries. This event is heralded by a new star appearing in the sky. Yes, we must suspend for a bit things like living in a town or city where the profusion of lights blocks our view of the stars for the most part. For this story, somehow believe that we are not too busy and have some idea what the sky overhead looks like at night. A new star appears, and you and some friends decide to go see this thing that has finally arrived. However, you don't exactly know where to go. The star gives a general direction, but that's it. No GPS coordinates, no map with an 'X', just a direction.

The gang arrives in the land of this legend. You have traveled for about 2 years to get here, but where is here and what 'here' are we to find once we have gotten to here from back there? You do what does not come naturally to men, or what must come naturally to women since they complain about the lack of it in men, and ask directions. The question does what men fear and puts the ruling city of this land in an uproar. You hope it is in celebration of the event, but it's hard to tell what with the language barrier and all. See what stopping to ask for directions can do?

Anyway, the wise guys around the throne point to some scripture in the holy books that gives a town name. Great, now other than "over thataway", where in this town do we find this newborn king? Behold, the star returns once we have cleared the city lights, and it doesn't just sit up there in a direction, but goes ahead of us, guiding the beat-up and road-worn cars of the caravan to the town, and then right to the very house where this newborn king is growing up. Mission accomplished!

We recognize in my tale the story of the wise men and their travel in the Bible. As with many things, the Bible is rather understated in the telling of an epic journey and the heavenly guidance received. The Bible doesn't directly say "they left home in faith", but we get it from the few verses we read in the Christmas story. The magi had a direction and a legend, but it was enough to start up a long trip to see this new thing. They didn't know what sort of reception might await them in Judea, or what reaction their question might provoke. Perhaps they expected a king on a throne with scepter and crown, but instead found a toddler running around the house, perhaps chasing chickens or the family cat. A journey of perhaps two years to find a child and his mother in a house in Bethlehem. Seems almost disappointing, doesn't it? Not really though, a new star said there was something special about this child.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

No Going Back

How often have you wanted Jesus to put things back the way they were? In the Christmas season it may mean back to those childhood Christmas celebrations. Much of the year it may mean before something changed greatly in life. In either case, that is not a prayer that God answers. We don't get to go back. In place of that, we are reminded of that other part of the Christmas - the new. Each Christmas brings something new in life. Jesus wants us to remember that He came as something new on that first Christmas, but there is more.

Paul told us in his letters that we are new creations in Christ. He went on to tell us of new imperishable and incorruptible bodies. Jesus showed John the New Jerusalem coming down from Heaven, and then told us, "Behold, I make all things new!" We live for the coming of the new in us and all around us. Jesus would have us to not go back to what we may think of as a better time, but to trust Him to take us to a better time that is to come. Christmas is a time that may bring hurt over what we have lost. However, the promise of Christ is in something new. The greatest gift was the Son of God who came to save the world, and He was something new.

Have a great and wonderful Christmas in our great and wonderful Christ!


Friday, December 19, 2014

The Friday Before Christmas!

Oh ho! Oh ho! It's the Friday before Christmas! School children are unmanageable, but for one day the teachers don't mind. Employees are unmanageable, but the boss growls with just a bit less basso in his voice. If your boss is female and normally growls in a basso profondo, be worried. If Santa growls at you, try to be better next year and use the coal to heat the shop. Christmas time is here! Six days until the great celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior!

To the unbeliever, it would seem that I changed subjects there at the end. Yet, we wonder how they manage to celebrate Christmas without Christ. How does one go about celebrating mas? What is 'mas'? Is it possible to have Mas Day? The anticipation of Christmas Day brings all sorts of warm feelings. How could anyone anticipate 'mas'? Is it mean to mock the unbelievers over the lack of Christ in their Christmas? Maybe, but if even one will ask after the true meaning of Christmas, then like Linus was ready for Charlie Brown's impassioned plea, let us be ready with an answer.

Christ our Lord is the center, the reason, and our hope in Christmas. The child born in Bethlehem began all this celebration. Let us one and all be ready to enjoy it.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

I'll Take Next Thursday Off Work

The title is one of those famous lines I heard in conversation. Next Thursday is of course Christmas. Now, if we are to be called Christian, we had better celebrate the holiday of our Lord's name, right? Ah, the judgmental, rule-loving, pharisee-like part of me wants to come out. Let's just make Christmas a duty. Let's take the fun out of living in a relationship with Christ. Maybe, just maybe, that isn't a part of me anymore. Maybe someone else wants me to believe that my heart didn't grow three sizes that day I came to believe in Christ.

Some of our brothers and sisters in Christ will have to work on Christmas Day. Jesus will not stop loving them on that day or any other day they may have to work. Those who belong to Jesus and love their work may work right up to Christmas Eve and then take only the next day off work. Jesus will not stop loving those brothers and sisters either. I spent one Christmas in Izmir, Turkey; Jesus didn't stop loving me way over there. One brother may spend Christmas this year in Barbados, a sister in Christ may have no one to spend Christmas with at home. Jesus loves them both and will gladly celebrate His birth with each one of us who call Him Lord in whatever circumstance we find ourselves on Christmas Day. Religion and rule keeping didn't save Israel, and they won't work to save us. Someone rightly said, "Jesus Saves", and that is why and how we live in Christ.

Have a Merry Christmas, working or taking the day off, in Christ!


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Praise and Glory and Honor

On that first arrival of the Christ child, it seems that the hosts of heaven could not contain themselves. What? Are you nuts? Wait, I'm writing this, should I ask "Am I nuts?" How confusing! Think of how often humans were allowed to see the angels of heaven in the Old Testament. Not that often, and there was a drought of even human prophets walking the land for 400 years or so before the birth of Christ. If we don't know from the multitude of prophecies and other events, we must know it from the multitude of the heavenly host: this event was something special in history. We will meet the heavenly host once more singing praise and glory and honor to Jesus in the Revelation. Greatly do we look forward to that!

The birth of Christ brought out the hosts of heaven to sing God's praises. Was it at God's command, or could they not contain themselves for the joy of praising God's great work? I don't know. What we do know is that the shepherds in the field saw a Christmas spectacular special the likes of which we cannot witness just yet. One day, all who believe will gather with the hosts of heaven to sing the praise and glory and honor of God our Father. John saw a great multitude that no one could number in his vision of the Revelation of Christ. That gives us a great hope for seeing all whom we love here, there with us praising and glorifying God - forever, forever, and ever as the Lord said.

Have a great and wonderful Christmas in Christ!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Immanuel: God With Me

Merry Christmas on this icy-foggy day! This morning we looked at the meaning of obedience as Mary demonstrated in her response to Gabriel. Lovely! That sounded so very official, almost like a real teacher of the Word! We also looked at what Immanuel means to us, and the point made this morning was to personalize this name of Jesus. God with us is the translation, but perhaps we should look to make it mine, as in saying: God with me. Say it often, especially in times of fear or temptation. God with me. Immanuel. If you are in a group it works too: Immanuel, God with us. We may not take that far enough in the spirit it was intended. God with us. The very name of Jesus gives us the assurance our Lord gave just before His ascension. "And lo I am with you always even unto the end of the age." The same meaning: Immanuel - God with us.

Christmas is such a great season for reminding each other of God's love and the many other things we need to recall daily. Faith gets a boost from the knowledge that God is with me. Of course, times of fear always need a faith booster and a presence reminder. Just crossing the icy streets this morning may be one of those times of fear and trembling. Drive gently, and remember Immanuel!


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Present at a Blessing

Merry Christmas on this cloudy Saturday morning! A phone call to a big bureaucracy offers little hope in most cases. The individual is often shuttled from department to department; listens to messages without end, and eventually gives up in frustration. Then, there was yesterday, when I was privileged to be present at a blessing. Good news! The problem resolved, the records straightened and the requirements of the faceless minions of the big bureaucracy satisfied. How great it is to be present when a Christian brother or sister receives their good news. We get to share in the rejoicing and in the sending up of thanksgiving to the Lord.

It wasn't always that way, was it? No, I can well remember the years when I would have scoffed or asked something like, "Where is my blessing?" To the unbeliever unfairness in life is always present. Blessings are all deserved, good luck is somehow warranted from all the bad luck of before, and a feeling of entitlement explodes into griping of unfairness when things do not go 'my' way and another is blessed instead. But Jesus removes those things as His cleansing and healing Spirit comes to dwell within the new believer. Oh, not all at once in every case. We may endure the clutches of those old feelings for a while. One day though, we get to look back and see what a great difference God's Spirit has made in us. We can share in the good news that comes to a brother and rejoice with a sister as Christ Jesus blesses them with His mighty love. No feeling of unfairness mars the celebration, there is only gratitude for our great God.


Friday, December 12, 2014

Christmas? Not Yet!

Ah, Friday morning! The day when we get up with a little hope in the heart for the weekend. We also get up this Friday with a little hope for Christmas, but it isn't here yet with not quite two weeks to go. Constantly living in the future is depressing because the good things of the future will always be, well, out in the future. That is not to say that a little hopeful anticipation of the things to come is all bad. God gave us many wonderful prophecies of the future He has in store for us, including the second coming of His Son, called Wonderful in Isaiah. When we came to believe, we gained access to this wonderful future. Yes, it is indeed good for us to think on it once in a while.

For the child anticipating the time of gift giving - that is what they all look forward to is it not? - the day it seems can never arrive soon enough. Yes, it was the gift getting for me too. The gift receiving line was the one I wanted to be in, and I think there is still some of that in me somewhere as an adult. The gift giving line was tougher as a child what with my limited resources and all. Of course, parents find out what limited resources really mean when it comes to gift giving for a group of children. Adults find out too, but not so much as parents I think. So, what about the One with unlimited resources; is He withholding for some divine reason we cannot fathom?

First, why do we tend to think that God is withholding any good thing from us? Is it not more likely that we are not ready? The good things God has promised will come in God's perfect time. While we tend to listen to those whispers of unfair or meanness that the enemy throws our way, God is preparing a place for us. Before Job had been restored twice over to the life he enjoyed, he said, "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord!" (1:21b) We too must wait patiently for the wonderful promises God has given. In the due time, we will be ready to receive the gifts God has for us. In the meantime, we can be thankful for those great gifts God has already given.

Have a merry Christmas in Christ Jesus!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Guarding the House

Merry Christmas! I know the thought: I hope that I have faith to speak the name of Jesus when confronted with the test. Uh, why are we waiting for the trial by fire, the fearful test of the uncanny, or the attack of the enemy to speak the name of Jesus? We are guarded ceaselessly by the angels of our Lord, but we can participate too. Speak the name of Jesus around your house. Get used to guarding the house now, prevent the attack by watchfulness. Make the preemptive strike that stops the attack of the devil before it begins.

We would think the Christian silly who waits to put on the whole armor of God until the flaming darts of the enemy strike him. Yet, we do the same by thinking that we must wait to use the matchless name of Christ until an attack of the enemy is under way. Praise the name of Jesus often, constantly, with steadfast love and determination. In other words, live in Christ as He lives in you and me. Sing the hymns and songs you know worshipping and praising God all the day and in the night.

As one who has fought the attack of anxiety (aka fear), I have found that to wait for it to get in the first blow is to make the adversary that much more difficult to fight off. And we are called to fight in the army of Christ. The battlefield may be in the mind here in our land more than it ever was, but that doesn't mean that we give up the field to the enemy and his minions. Praise the name of our Lord Jesus in every way possible. Use the authority granted us in Christ to command the enemy away. As Paul reminded us, pray constantly!


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Glory of God

The glory of God appeared to the shepherds in the field. No argument there; the Bible says so. But the glory of the Lord also appeared in the manger. What? A baby lay there, probably with soiled swaddling clothes, crying, fretting, and doing those things that babies do. Wait, wouldn't we rather view Jesus as the perfect baby with none of the smells and noises usually associated with infants, maybe paint Him with a little halo over his lovely little head? Well, yes, that has been done, but probably the Son of God, little baby Jesus, did the very things we all did as babies. How could the glory of God produce a stink? Of course, if that is all I can think of in the birth of Christ, then it is easy to see why God chose Joseph instead of me.

The birth of Christ meant salvation; His names even said it. Immanuel, Jesus, names of salvation for the people living in darkness. The shepherds flocking in from the fields didn't come to see just any baby, they came to see Messiah, the long awaited savior. As a young child learning to walk, Jesus probably bumped a little knee or two, but the visitors from the east didn't come to worship what could be found on just any child. They arrived to present gifts to the newborn Son of God, the future king.

A person can always focus on the mundane, if that is all his/her small mind can see. We see the glory of God in the baby Jesus. The mundane, earthly stuff just showed that Jesus was human. The glory of God shining around the shepherds, the miracles of Christ, and our very salvation show that this little baby was indeed something worth coming to see and worship.

Glory to God Most High, and on earth, peace, goodwill toward men!


Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Christmastime Abundance

I hope you only got one devotional from me yesterday, but I did end up with four blog postings after all that trouble with Gmail and Blogspot. By the time I arrived at work, everything was back to normal with 'em, other than the overabundance of postings that is. Christmas is a time when we enjoy the abundant praise and worship of our Lord. We also enjoy abundance in His sovereign mercy, provision, and love. We have an easier time giving abundantly and living in the abundance of good feelings all around. Abundance abounds at Christmastime!

How does all this abounding happen though? Christmas is the season of giving, of course. We give because our Lord has given to us. The greatest gift arrived in the package of a manger long ago. We rejoice in that gift even today, and especially on Christmas Day. We celebrate that gift each time we give gifts to others. Gifts are such a part of Christmas that we sing songs about them. We may spend a bunch of money on gifts, but nothing can match God's gift of a Son born in Bethlehem.

Have a merry Christmas!

Monday, December 08, 2014

Saved From, Well, Everything!

Merry Christmas! I hope this gets out today. Gmail is having tremendous troubles this morning. What did Jesus save us from? Sin and its penalty is the main and obvious thing, but did Jesus save us from more than this? The answer is an unequivocal "Yes, He did!" Not all of the things that plague us in this world come from our personal sin. The devil would have you and me to take the blame for everything in our respective lives, but that just ain't the case. Much of what happens in this world happens to us, and not because of us. This does not mean that our sin does not have its consequences.

We do not get off without the result of our sins, but Jesus paid the eternal penalty and brought us back to God. We know that if a Christian robs a bank, he will go to jail. God's judgment was paid by Jesus, but the government and society have a penalty for lawbreaking that will come in this world. We can see that many of our nation's laws come from God's law; do not steal being one of the big ten. Not all actions are sins, and we get the consequence of our actions or lack of action too. Forget to set the alarm and you may be late for work. Some may call that tardiness a sin, but I would call it a mistake. Of course, if every mistake were a sin...we would still be saved in Christ!

There are many things that happen to us, but many more that do not. We are saved from and guarded in more than we know. Praise God for His guardianship! You and I are in the family of Christ.


Friday, December 05, 2014

Face the Day

In Christ, we are never forsaken, never left alone, and as we get older our vitamins begin to taste like horse feed. Yet, some days are still tough to face. We may wonder that we didn't run into one of God's vacation days. Doubts surface that we thought well conquered. We pray with the young father in Mark: I do believe, Lord, help my unbelief! But the feeling of doom persists when it should not. Beaten down and demoralized, we stand just where the devil wants all Christians.

What do we say or do when the Christian walk feels like we are carrying a small elephant? Where can we find help when the full armor of God seems made of tissue paper? We look at our Christian brothers but, alas, they too are falling under the attack of the enemy. Of course, you are answering the questions as they come. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus! We must come in prayer to the Lord for our brothers and ourselves when the attack seems likely to beat us all into the dust. Jesus is unconquered and unconquerable. All of God's army may seem likely to fall, but Jesus stands, and in Christ we...all...stand! We are not alone; though we cannot see them, God's heavenly forces fight with us and for us at all times. You and I are stronger than we think, because we count only our strength and fail to account for the unmatchable power of our Lord Jesus.

Like the child who thinks that Christmas will never come at about this time of the year, we too suffer dark days during the darkening days just before winter begins. Jesus has not backed away from us to 'see how we do alone', nor has God taken a pre-Christmas break. We may need more prayer on days like this, but God is ready and waiting to hear from us! Get together with some brothers and sisters in Christ this morning and pray for one another.


Thursday, December 04, 2014

The House Came Down

Yesterday, the house that burned last June fell down into big piles of burned timber and junk. At least, that is what it looked like to me as there was no demolition equipment there when I left for work and none when I returned. Something that took weeks or months to build fell apart in a day. Actually two days when we count the day half of it burned away. I wonder if Mary or Joseph had similar feelings when they took off for Bethlehem that day back when the BC's were running down toward zero. Mary carried the child that would change calendars forever. No, no, she wasn't worried about years on the calendar.

We know from the Bible that Mary and Joseph would not return for some time to the region where they grew up, and even at their return Joseph would be redirected to Nazareth. Did Joseph have a house prepared for the culmination of their engagement? Probably. Before the angel arrived to give the good news, did Mary think that she would raise children and grow old in that same house? It may well be. Did either of them expect to spend some time in Egypt? Probably not. How many homes did Joseph leave behind in former towns? We don't know for sure.

The Bible doesn't give us each and every thought of each day in the life of Joseph and Mary. We see a journey of faith forced upon them by an occupying government far away in Rome. They only just made it to Bethlehem in time for the birth. They set up house and home in Bethlehem, then a dream warned Joseph to flee by night to Egypt. Did they young couple have family in Egypt? Maybe. Did they know anyone there? Probably not. Yet, they had God through His angels directing their steps in dreams. They were, to borrow a phrase from Gabriel, overshadowed by the power of the Most High. I'm glad Joseph and Mary chose to believe.

Have a great Christmas in Christ!

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Just a Glimpse

Merry Christmas! Moses held a special position between God and Israel. He didn't always realize the effect God had on his face though.

Now it was so, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the Testimony were in Moses’ hand when he came down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him. So when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him. (Exodus 34:29-30 NKJV)

Moses was allowed just a glimpse of God's glory. You will recall the story in the preceding chapter where God passed His goodness before Moses while hiding the man in a cleft of the rock until Moses was allowed to see only the train or back side of God's goodness. "You cannot see My face, For no man may see Me, and live." Would we, I wonder, have sufficient fear in our hearts to be obedient to the Lord with just a glimpse of His glory?

Probably not, the Israelites went on to much disobedience and unfaithfulness before God. Fear, it seems, only works briefly to bring us into line, so deep is the bent toward sin within our hearts. God sent His Son instead to begin the healing from a rebirth in the Spirit. Did God's glory show in that baby as he lay in the manger? The shepherds in the field saw the glory of the Lord and trembled. What did the angel of the Lord tell them? "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people." (Luke 2:10)

We couldn't face God and live, and fear didn't work to keep us obedient. So, God sent us a son, His Son, to do what even Moses could not. In Christ, we can see God and live. In Christ, we don't flee away in fear, but run to Him like children. In Christ, we are given the Spirit to change our hearts to obedience and love. In Christ, we celebrate Christmas!

Rejoice in the season of His birth!

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Days, We Have Another Day?

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and now we seem to have something called Giving Tuesday. Not sure whom we are to give Tuesday to, but there it is. Not that it isn't a good idea, but who has all this time on his hands that he has nothing better to do than come up with titles for days? Do you really need a special day for giving? Every day is a good day to give to those who have little, or when life hands them an overwhelming need, or just to be good and show the love of Jesus. However, if some need a day - I notice that it seems to come after all the big spendy days - to remind them to give, then I'm okay with that too. Wait, today could be soapbox Tuesday wherein we all rant about something bothering us on this day. Let me step on down for the morning.

Jesus had a great many things He could have soap boxed back in His day. Sometimes the Lord did speak out on an issue. Jesus did not avoid the public square most of the time. He did leave it a couple of times when the crowd tried to seize Him and make Him king. A strange circumstance that we hardly understand in these days of representative government. Jesus also left the public square more than once when the crowd bent to pick up stones to kill the long-awaited Messiah. Another odd circumstance for us to ponder in our day. On the other hand is the temple clearing, where Jesus did speak out and act with authority. We have authority in Christ. Let us pray for the wisdom to know when to speak out and act, and when to keep quiet.

Have a merry Christmas in Christ!

Monday, December 01, 2014

Christmas Time is Here!

Yeah! Monday the first of December! We have Christmas time; the season has arrived! The birth of Christ, wise men, Mary and Joseph, Zachariah and Elizabeth, a rejoicing John the Baby Baptist, the angel Gabriel, shepherds in the fields, and all that makes Christmas so special. Christmas is a time of rejoicing in Christ. In the darkest time of the year shine the brightest of lights. Isaiah wrote:

The people who walked in darkness
​​Have seen a great light;
​​Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
​​Upon them a light has shined. (9:2 NKJV)

Isaiah wrote hundreds of years before the coming of the Christ child that a people walking in darkness would see the great light of Christ. David wrote that he would not fear even when walking the land of death's shadow. Isaiah promised more: a light shining in that darkness of death. We live in a world of darkness often shadowed by death. Yet, in the heart of every Christ-one shines the light of Jesus.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Standing...Right in the Way

So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:

​​“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, ​​ Because He has anointed Me ​​ To preach the gospel to the poor; ​​ He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, ​​ To proclaim liberty to the captives ​​ And recovery of sight to the blind, ​​ To set at liberty those who are oppressed; ​​To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD. (Luke 4:16-19 NKJV)

Many miraculous things are prophesied by Isaiah in the passage Jesus read that Sabbath. Yet, later we read that Jesus did not perform many miracles in the region where He was raised. What stood in the way? Unbelief. We may find ourselves in that same position with a bit of inattention to our faith.

Place what you think you know before faith in Christ, and you just may find that knowledge standing right in the way of the miraculous work of our Lord. We live in an age when many think that miracles are halted, or a thing of the distant past, or even impossible. Unbelief even among the Christian elect is commonplace. We have modern medicine, science, and much knowledge, we tend to say. No doubt the cosmopolitan Nazarenes said much the same thing in their day. "Who is this Jesus?" They might ask, "We know him from years gone by. Is he not that carpenter's son from the edge of town?" Yes, we know Jesus, but if we don't know the miraculous works of our Lord, we don't really know Him.

Be ready to shout a 'Hallelujah!' this Christmas season.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Where Do We Go From Here?

The days and times when we feel that we cannot are those times we must come to the Lord in prayer. The test is difficult or it wouldn't be much of a test. The day following a holiday often presents a sort of bored/tired/weak-willed/sad feeling that isn't particularly any one of those four so much that it can be identified. It's like the wind filled the sails yesterday, but this morning the breeze has died out and the sails of the mind hang limp. If you live in our area, you can see this has nothing at all to do with what is going on in the weather. Any sort of diet to lose weight meets a dangerous time in this feeling, for such times often bring cheating as we seek to find something to break free of this condition of the mind. Projects that need starting or restarting just don't appeal as they should.

I have found my own strength wholly inadequate to overcoming this fugue state. Like Paul, I need and must turn to Christ my Savior for the strength to get back to it whether it is writing or working on a project. God's strength is made perfect in my weakness, and God's children were never meant to get by on their own. So, when I find myself trying to lift the self out of the doldrums through the usual methods like: self-criticism, eating the wrong sorts of things at the wrong time of day, or avoiding what I know needs to be done by diving into a book, it is time to come to Jesus, and get the devotional written and sent out, even if I am an hour late or so.

Have a great and wonderful day in Christ!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Only One Thing For Today

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours on this day! Of all the subjects that one might write this morning, there is only one thing for today - gratitude - giving our thanks unto the Lord. We may do many other things on this day, but the central thread of living today is giving up our thanks to God. The world will provide all manner of opportunity for grumbling as it does on any other day. We must turn our minds to thankfulness. Is it only the Lord though? Ah, glad I asked that.

Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matt. 22:37-40 NKJV).

So, it seems right to also thank those with us on this day as we give our thanks to the Lord. For we are brothers and sisters in Christ on this day as on all days, and today we pay especial attention to giving thanks to each other as well. We are all God's family and the Spirit of Christ dwells in each of us. So let the giving of thanks spread far on this Thanksgiving Day. We have much to be thankful for and a great God to whom we give our thanks.

Thank you, dear Lord God for your sovereign grace,

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

No Waiting For The Multitude

Yea, Thanksgiving Eve is here! Followed immediately by a blog about Christmas, not mine, but one that appeared in my e-mail just now. Can we enjoy this holiday first, please? It seems not, at least judging (or is that discretioning?) by the multitude of Black Friday ads I have received. Is the present so terrible that we must constantly look to the future? If people acted this way in Jesus' time, they would have asked about His kingdom before He had a chance to complete the cross and resurrection. Oh wait, they did.

As Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives teaching the disciples, they asked about the signs of His coming. Uh, isn't that Him sitting in front of you? We have this impatience about what we dread. We also have a desire to get past the present that God would have us enjoy, or at least learn from and grow faith. We like to look back at the past for signs of our glory or to whip the self with shame and regret. Maybe we are impatient to get past the present in order to have more past to look back upon. We look to the future while stumbling over the now.

Part of that is God's fault: He made a lot of really great prophecies about our future with Him. We have at least some excuse for looking ahead to that eternal tomorrow. We read prophecies in Isaiah about God's holy mountain, and in the Revelation about the all things new, and it sounds like where we want to be with Jesus right now. At least we are not like the unbelievers who must enjoy the present because that is all they have. The present is pretty terrible in many ways, but that part didn't come from God. The present, however, is not terrible in all ways. There are many things to enjoy on this day. Not the least of which is walking with our Savior who promised to be with us always. 'Be with' is a present and now sort of thing, one we can enjoy in the moment.

Have a pleasant walk with Jesus today,

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

So Then You Get to be The Subject of a Devotional

Frosty morning to you on this great day! A conflict of scheduling, a breakdown in communications, or something just doesn't work out between us, so then you get to be the subject of a devotional! The risk of living with a minister is that you might get to be the subject of a sermon, or at least an anecdote in the sermon. The same risk occurs with us writers. A funny circumstance comes along and the next thing you know you get a starring role in a devotional, or perhaps worse, a fiction novel. This sort of thing could make a person walk on eggshells, as the old saying goes, when around one of us. You may even pray before going to bed at night, "Lord, please don't let me do something to become the meat of the pastor's next serving, er, I mean, sermon!"

We all want to be the good story that the pastor or writer uses as an example. Sometimes we get that role; other times we get to provide the humor part of the funny story. I want to be Superman in the story, but usually I'm not even Clark Kent. As a writer, I observe what goes on around me and within me, and turn that to stories and examples for my devotional. However, what does Jesus have to say about you and me? We were part of His story too!

Jesus said that we are the light of the world (Matt 5:14) Who me? Yes, me and you, we are lights of God in the great darkness of the world. How did we get to be that? Well, it wasn't through our efforts at being good. We are reborn in Christ, and He made us who we are. All those surface things that we are so often concerned about are not mentioned in the scripture as a part of who we are. Instead, we are the salt of the earth, the light of the world, a city on a hill, children of God, beloved by God our Father. So, maybe we do want to be the subject of a devotional...God's devotional.

God's love and devotion to you,

Monday, November 24, 2014

Lawlessness Shall Increase

Hmm, sounds a bit like the start of some anarchist manifesto. But no, I'm just recalling a bit from the Olivet Discourse Jesus gave many years ago. Actually, I have to recall it from my reading of Matthew's account of the discourse, because I wasn't around at the time Jesus spoke of the end times. Our Lord walked the earth centuries before my great-great-grandparents were born. I wonder this morning whether lawlessness increases because so many turn to darkness, or, is it helped along by such a profusion of government regulations (witness the size of the Affordable Care Act) that no one can keep up with the sheer volume of laws. I don't know, when I grab just part of Matthew 24:12, my thoughts are different than when I read the remainder. "And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold." Ah, now the focus changes to the result of that lawlessness.

When love grows cold, we all suffer. What about lawlessness though? Sure, imagine the results if someone woke up this morning and decided that stop signs weren't for him. The way up the hill to work might resemble a demolition derby if a few of these lawless folks all drove at the same time. We would expect such persons to be prosecuted and certainly prevented from driving and causing more damage. What happens when the lawless end times arrive and such persons are not arrested, prosecuted, or punished, but are instead encouraged to lawlessness by the lack of such things? Lawlessness points to a general breakdown of safety and security for all. Can we, as followers of Christ, hold off this lawlessness by spreading the love of Christ?

Like salt spreading throughout the recipe, we bring love and the law wherever we go. As for holding off the end times, I believe that God knows the hour and day, and that it isn't a moving target. However, as the followers of Christ, it is our job to give it all we got. Our Lord said: "You are the salt of the earth..." (Matt 5:13)


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Alpha and Omega

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. (Genesis 1:1 & Revelation 22:21)

What do we see in the first verse and the final verse of our Bible? God created all things and Jesus Christ brought grace to us, and so shall it be. I find it fascinating to put both verses together and just contemplate the beginning and the end, the alpha and omega of the Word of God. Then, add in one of the titles of Jesus, the Alpha and the Omega, as we read it in the Revelation, and ponder some more. All of that struggle, yet it begins with God and ends with His Son. What did God do? He created, then He sent His Son to save that creation.

In between those two verses we read a wealth of instruction, history, stories, parables, and prophecies. And, lest we forget, the very words of life as brought to us by Jesus and through those who followed and learned from our Lord. In between, a person might sum up much of the Bible as "They believed in Him!" Yes, prophets who listened for the Word and then passed it on to kings, princes, nobles, priest, pastors, and you and me. Disciples who followed Jesus in person, and then discipled others down through the ages. Leaders who followed the Word through direct revelation and through prophets. Common folks placed in uncommon situations such as Gideon, who we meet trying to thresh a bit of grain out of sight of the marauding Midianites. An angel met him too, a pretty uncommon situation even in the Bible! Some died young, others lived to a ripe old age. Yet so many believed in the coming Messiah, whether that coming would be the first or the second. All those people believing that God saves and would save them. All to help you and me believe and receive the Word of God into our hearts. What a wonderful book!


Friday, November 21, 2014

Is There Biblical Support?

Good morning on this Friday! Okay, we have a theory, or maybe just a hypothesis. Wait, could be that it's just a sort of vague idea not very well formulated yet. A thought has flitted through the brain and you may wonder if it is theologically sound. The first place to go in all of this is in prayer with the Lord. But, after that, we may not yet have anything definite from the Lord on that floating idea, we need to check for scriptural support. It is never good enough for us in Christ to just say "It sounds good to me!" Many dangerous ideas have come and gone with this sort of support. No, we need to get Bible support for our next idea, hypothesis, or theory. I don't get to stand up in the Bible study and just say whatever I please. The pastor cannot stand up before the church and say any old thing. (If you think that's exactly what your teacher or pastor does, just go pray for him or her, real quick like.)

Let us say that the dream of the Lord's return came to one of us last night. We are tempted to run out onto the streets, or at least to our next Bible study, and report the imminent arrival of the Second Coming of our Lord on January the 24th at 9 o'clock. Uh oh, a quick check of the scripture reveals that our Lord himself stated, "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but my Father only." (Matt 24:36) God keeps this knowledge to Himself. We don't get to know it, whatever that dream said. We long for the day, but we do not know the hour or day when Jesus will return. Sorry, scriptural support lacking for our announcement, better to thank God that Jesus will indeed come on that great day and hour that only our Lord knows. We see that the event must be very close, but we do not know the time of that appointment.

Other things we may know. Look to the scripture. Did the Lord tell someone that Jesus would come the first time as a child before the man saw death? Yes, we can read of that in the scripture. It may well be that one among us will know that the Second Coming will occur during his lifetime, just not the day or the hour. It appears the man in the scripture story may have waited daily in the temple for quite some time before seeing the Lord's Christ. Will a prophet (or two!) appear before the end times begin? Sure, we have scriptural support for that. Not only did John the Baptist appear like Elijah, but we have the prophecy of the two olive trees who appear near the end. (see Rev 11) Scriptural support is important to us for it is the very Word of God. Could revelation appear to one of us not mentioned in the scripture? Sure, but, wow, there is a lot of prophecy not yet fulfilled. I'm thinking God probably already covered everything about these end times at least on a general level. A prophet today may gain further details, but the main story has been written in the scripture.

Have a wonderful day in Christ!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Give Something, Somewhere

Don't be selfish with the Word, the good news of Jesus Christ. Spread that seed everywhere you go. How do we do this? Be and become what God has made you and me. Talking is only one way to spread some of that Gospel seed. Most of us don't talk all the time, not even the ones whose critics claim that about them. We witness more with our lives and faces than with the tongue. Tough times in life can bring out our witness more than the easy, comfortable times.

When I had no money to give, other ways of giving occurred to me. Christians look most often to money as a means of giving, perfectly acceptable when the church has bills to pay, but there are other means and methods too. Teaching, music, volunteering, and others come to mind easily. However, one can also give of his experience in mentoring younger men. Another might give advice from her past, positive and negative stories accepted by the Lord, to steer young women or girls along the path of righteousness. I think most of us have those negative stories; you know, the ones where we say something like, "Don't do what I did..." All of us who believe will at some point come to the conclusion that part of our witness is gratitude for Christ. As in, "It has become obvious to me that I can in no way save myself through pure, good, and righteous thinking or behavior, because I started life as a sinner and only Christ can cleanse me from my sin."

Sure, it seems obvious to us now, but think of the worldly unbeliever who says, "I don't think I can be as good as Christ or His Christians!" Praise our Lord, we can say that is the work of Jesus, and not something we accomplished through effort. Whoops, see there, we went and shared some of that good news.

Have a godly day!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

At Times, Hard to Believe

Looking around at your team this morning, do you feel like the correct answer to the question: Which one doesn't belong? Why are you looking at them? Look to Jesus, the one who lived the perfect sinless life! Wait, now I really feel that I don't belong on this team. It's true. We sometimes look at our condition right now and wonder how or why God could possible have chosen us. Such sinfulness must never have existed in the mind of man. Even the most murderous of tyrants from history must have a better chance at forgiveness than I. Grace must only cover the graceful, and I'm as clumsy as they come. At times, it's hard to believe that Jesus could choose me. Yet, that opinion of mine and ours must give way to the opinion of Jesus our Lord.

Humility we confuse with heaping abuse on the self. Humility in the biblical sense is agreeing with God's opinion of us. God, sitting in the person of Jesus the Christ, looked at His disciples and called them His friends. This rough group of fellows committed a few spiritual stumbles in their time the Bible can tell you. Friends? How can this be from the perfect, sinless, Son of God? It's His choice. Just as we can choose our friends now, Jesus chose His friends in that moment. From then on as disciple after disciple went forth to spread the good news and disciple others, we became friends of Jesus. So, quit looking around; you belong on God's team!


Monday, November 17, 2014

What Offends You Today?

Ach, sorry! It's Monday once again. What offends you today? You may choose from a plethora of things and people on both social and mainstream media. You may choose from any number of people who it seems are celebrities simply for becoming famous. It seems that today no useful occupation is necessary for some. They become famous and celebrated through their appearance, what they have done to their appearance, or just for showing up somewhere. That offends me. Maybe I'll work up an anti-famous person website. Hmm, probably too late for most of the current crop of ding-dongs out there on the web. Wait, that offends me even more!

We have fan sites for some to worship their idol, but then we have anti or hate sites for people who are offended to heap abuse on the person. The fan sites usually outnumber the hate sites, so I guess that is good in a way. But wait! I'm offended by celebrity idols too. Oh no, I just realized that I have offended the fans of Hostess® Ding Dongs! Agh, I cannot be offended without offending someone else! The funny thing is that I can offend someone just by writing this or being who Christ has made me.

We cannot worry constantly over who we will offend. We believe in Jesus, someone in the world will be offended. When Jesus began His ministry, the scribes and Pharisees rose up in offense. When Paul went to Greece, some scholars were offended. Speak the good news of Jesus Christ and we will meet with offended people. In fact, there are entire organizations dedicated to being offended by the spreading of the Gospel. Pray in public and you become an offense to some. Sing a hymn near a school and the atheists are offended. Which is funny-strange in that having no mention of God or religion in school is atheistic; yet, we are not supposed to get offended by that. Could it be, I've discovered the double standard of offensive behavior? Nah, you already knew that.

Have a great week in Christ Jesus!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

An Ornament to the House

Why is it that a wife gets to be an ornament to the house, but the husband does not? Maybe it's because most of us men don't make a very pretty ornament. For some of us the cat has to fill in as the ornament of the house. The house we want to look at this morning is God's house. Are we pretty enough to be ornaments to God's house? You'll need to get with Him on that; He chose you and me. However, in one thing we can know by the price paid: we are valuable enough to be chosen by our God for His house. The price was paid by Jesus, God's Son, and that price was the most He could pay. So, ornament and building block of God's house, you are valuable in Christ Jesus today.

Whatever the world may throw in your way or upon your head this day, God has placed a value upon you and me that the world can in no way diminish. God's house is a mighty house, we may even call it a mansion, an estate, a church. God began with the cornerstone of His Son, and will cap it with the keystone of His Son. We may with joy and gladness be called the Bride of Christ. You don't need to take my word for it; Jesus said it and died to claim us, and lived again to prepare His bride for that great wedding day. The preparation is long because the Son will not present any half-finished work to His Father. Let us end with an eyewitness account this morning:

Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Rev 21:2-4)

God bless you all this weekend,

Friday, November 14, 2014

Noah's Bad Day

The command came down from above: God spoke with Noah and told him to build something new, something unique in the world. God informed Noah of the why; a big flood coming to wash away the sins of the world. Noah paused, and probably asked intelligent questions like, "What's an ark?" A couple of years later, Noah has the framework up, and the people around the area send a nosey news reporter to ask intelligent questions, such as, "Why are you building a giant wooden skeleton?" Noah could only stare in wonder at the reporter, knowing full well that to answer would only make the situation worse. Rain, flood, ark, no one would believe such things.

Years later, the area now looks like the suburbs, with the exception of a nearly completed ark rising above the rooftops. Noah gets up on a Friday and prepares his tools, but one is missing. Probably that Ham, the kid is always pulling practical jokes on his Dad and Mum. Noah points to the missing space at the morning construction meeting; his three sons all point at each other. Noah sighs, and opens the meeting to his sons to report on their progress. Shem reports that some animals have shown up and he doesn't know what they eat, or how to dispose of the inevitable result of their eating. Japheth reports that the gopher wood he cut and stacked on the wagon last week is missing. Everyone stares at Ham. Ham looks up and reports that every item on the town council meeting tonight is about their project. Too much shade over homes along 5th Street, view of the sunset blocked to the houses in that new subdivision. Strange animals wandering through yards in pairs. And, the town council must hear a complaint about a general shortage of gopher wood throughout the region.

Noah sighed once more. He figured the ark at about 90% complete, but he just didn't know if he would have the strength to complete the final tithe of construction. And wouldn't you know it, the so-called International Liars Club, had already gathered for their morning coffee on the main deck of his ark. Noah tried to work out of range of their voices, but with the ark nearly complete, there was no place to go now that their mocking and scoffing didn't rain down on him from dawn to dusk or whenever they got together, which was often enough. Some days he thought to his shame that he would not miss the club when God washed them away. Trouble was, the men didn't seem that bad. Sure words could hurt and sting, but 'thwunk', Noah mashed his thumb for the first time in years as he tried to finish the sill on the cabin window.

"Ha, ha, ha, here let me mash the other one for you!" one of the club shouted out. Another got up and dumped Noah's bucket of nails out over the side, Noah heard his precious nails striking the ground 30 cubits below. After years of painstaking construction, he didn't climb down and up those 30 cubits so easily any more. Noah thought about getting drunk tonight. After all, it was a Friday.

Then a drop of water struck him on top of the head, right where hair once grew some hundred years ago. Nothing in the sky, no birds flying nearby, just that one innocent drop. The ILC had departed in mirth. Noah went down to get his nails, thumb throbbing, and fully expecting any moment to be scared half to his grave when Ham dropped the missing tool on the ramp beside him.

I like to write about Noah having a bad day, not because I hate Noah, but because I identify with what the Bible often doesn't say. We get a high-level view of the construction project Noah and his family lived every day for perhaps 120 years. What does our story say? "Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did." (Gen 6:22) I'm sure that within that construction project, summed up so succinctly in the Bible text, were many days like you and me live through. Those tough days when our faith is tested to the max while things don't go very well at all. Noah had 'em, and so did Paul, Peter, Mary, David, Samson, Esther, Ruth, and all of our other Bible heroes. Did our Lord Jesus suffer days when all the world seemed against Him? I'm sure He did, and He knows our suffering very well. Just like Noah, we say on those days, "It's you and me, Lord! Grant me the strength to endure, please."


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Easier To Blame, But Not Right

The customer appears in the office frequently to exchange news, do his paperwork, and chat with the agent. All seems fine, relations are friendly, and expectations grow towards the deal closing. Suddenly, for one reason or another, the deal falls apart. The customer appears one last time to verbally take the agent out to the woodshed. Much of that Army talk ensues from the former customer and the relationship is forever broken. Why? My theory is that we need to look back to Adam and how our first human father defined the term coward as he cowered behind the bushes. "The woman gave to me and I ate!" It is easier in our sin to blame someone else than take responsibility for the correction.

Bitterly disappointed, the customer took it out on the agent in my little tale (based on a true story!). Adam, tried to shirk his position as leader of the household and blame Eve. The woman he longed for while searching through the animal kingdom for a suitable mate, he threw to the wolves. We may do the same to a friend before we can get that pointing finger stopped. Caught in a mistake or sin, we may try to point at someone we love before we take that responsibility and seek the fix. Even when speaking of that carnal desire we may set that part of us up as a sort of straw man to, hopefully, take the blame for us. How do you suppose that works with God? Yup, probably no better than it did for Adam. God wants to save both Adam and Eve, and He wants to save all of me and you. Thank God that someone took the responsibility to save us all! Soon, we will celebrate His birth.

Enjoy the day in Christ!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The World Sends

Snow, cold, kinda makes one think of Christmas this morning. The world sends weather; we think of good. The world sends tribulation; we think of Christ. The world sends fame, wealth, and power; we think of the great and mighty me? Too true that the things desired by the world can cause us to turn away from our Lord. Many in the world will tell of how he/she worked very hard to get what the world has given them, as though that makes the person deserving of all they have. The world of course responds by making that person even more famous and wealthy. What the world sends is not a good measure of how we are doing in Christ. Your wealth or lack thereof does not necessarily say how well you are doing in faith. You may be a good steward of resources Christ has entrusted you with, but then you also may be experiencing what our Lord called a tribulation.

Matthew gave up the steady and wealthy (and thoroughly despised) income of a tax collector to follow Christ. Other disciples may have never eaten so well as when they came to follow Christ. Faith is not so much where we came from, as where we are going to. Jesus held the plowman who looks back as unworthy to follow Him. Paul had to set aside some awful things from his past to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ. The world may well have sent you or I some things in our past that cause us shame, regret, pain or grief, but still we look to Christ, the author and finisher of our faith. We labor in the valley of death's shadow, but that will never prevent the dawning of the day of our Lord Jesus.

Blessed be the name of our Lord!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Lord Our Righteousness

Yowwow! A brisk walk this morning carries extra meaning. I'm not sure I can move my legs briskly enough on days like this. We ended our Bible study today on a high note, The Lord Our Righteousness is a title that occurs in Jeremiah 23:6 from the Hebrew YHWH Tsidkenu. Once again, we see that God's plan for our salvation didn't get hammered out in a late night meeting of the Holy Trinity just before Gabriel was sent to tell Mary she was in for a little surprise. About 600 years before the blessed birth, Jeremiah delivered a message from God that laid out His great plan in that Hebrew title, The Lord Our Righteousness. Jesus would come from the line of David to do what we could not, be righteous in God's sight.

It's like becoming a veteran without serving in the military, to cobble together an example from the holiday. Say you never served, but someone took your place and did four years in the Army for you. Today, you get the title, rights, and privileges of being an Army veteran, and it is legally recognized by the highest court in the land. Right, it doesn't work that way for us down here, but Jesus is not limited by our ways and means. Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and then conferred the rights, privileges and His righteousness on those who believe. That right standing with God is then recognized by the highest court which is God Himself. We are given the right to become children of God through The Lord Our Righteousness. What a blessing we gain in Christ!

Enjoy the holiday! And a hearty "Thank You!" and shout out to all those who served our nation on this Veteran's Day.

USMC 1983-1987

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Storm Cometh

I hath waxed all KJV this morning. As the first winter storm arrives in all its glory, the temp has dropped 9 degrees already this hour and the wind is roaring in the trees, I moved back in time to grab a cherished memory verse:

Therefore set I in the lower places behind the wall, and on the higher places, I even set the people after their families with their swords, their spears, and their bows. And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses. Nehemiah 4:13-14

In most times of trouble, we would tell our brothers and sisters in Christ to remember the Lord first. At times, I have called out to the Lord over a problem, and then done nothing but wait in prayer. Here, Nehemiah gives a different model. First, he sets his forces to their stations, armed and ready. Then, he commands the people and their leaders to not be afraid. Nehemiah then gives the people a method to remove the fear: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible. We are of course quite capable of preparing and praying at the same time. Nehemiah isn't saying to remember the Lord only after we have banished fear, but to remember the Lord in order to banish the fear.

Too often, I find myself in fear and remembering with earnest concentration the 'them'. Whatever causes my fear, I am bound up in those thoughts as the fear grows and grows. Nehemiah told his people of long ago to remember the qualities of the Lord - great and terrible in the KJV; we would say "great and awesome". In times when the 'them' facing us seems too powerful and frightening, we are to recall the Lord, great and awesome, and then fight.

In Nehemiah's time, the fight did not come. The fact that the Israelites knew of the evil intentions and stood ready to fight kept the enemy at bay. This could happen to us as well, for our Lord is great and awesome, and knowing that He and His people stand ready for the fight may well cause the enemy to look elsewhere for an easier battle. Fear may cause a perfectly good fighting force to fail to prepare and run from the fight. Remembering the Lord, who is great and awesome, prevents fear from overcoming us as we stand in the full armor of God. Stand in Christ, remember our Lord, who is great and awesome!


Saturday, November 08, 2014

What A Strange Life We Have

We count it a blessing to be worthy to suffer with Christ. We do good deeds to those who hurt us. Our hero didn't conquer anyone in His time. Our Lord and Savior died the death of a common criminal at the hands of an occupying army. We strive to remember our champion by loving the unlovable, giving to the destitute, and comforting the sick. Piling up treasure in this life is counted as disobedience to our Lord's command. Seeking to promote the self makes us feel wrong. Our Lord paid His taxes.

The prince of this world hated our Lord, and we experience that enmity in this life. They said our Lord had a demon, and centuries later they call us crazy or uneducated or closed-minded. Yet, we come back to the Word for more! Strength of arms or position is worshipped by the world, yet we may one day accept the martyr's crown as God's strength is made perfect in our weakness. The world lauds the accumulation of money. While faith, love, hope, and grace, the things most valuable to us, are intangible. Fame is something to be strived for in this world. We are told to take the lower seat and to labor as a good servant doing his duty. Yes, a strange life according to the current world system; not strange at all when we have faith in Christ.

God's grace and peace to you on this Saturday morning!


Friday, November 07, 2014

Bad Anniversaries

This weekend marks the 10th anniversary of the Battle of Fallujah. Today, someone will remember that on this day his wife served him with divorce papers, or she will remember that on this day she learned her husband was unfaithful, or this is the anniversary of a heart attack, or a car accident, or that dreadful diagnosis, and on it goes; 365 days each year of dark memories coming around to hit us again. Not that long ago I wrote on this phenomenon. This morning, I am reminded again, even though I have no personal bad anniversary on Nov 7 to speak of. With only 365 days (plus one) to work with, every day someone is suffering one of those anniversary days. I guess the Spirit reminds me that more needs to be said about this awful thing of bad anniversaries.

I think that Heaven has those trees of life with leaves to heal the nations for at least one reason, and that is to wipe away all those awful dates. At first, one might think that wiping away all dates would do the job, but what about those good anniversaries? How will God maintain that memory of the wedding day, or the birth of a child, or the day you met that special man or woman, or that big project at work that actually completed on time and under budget with great results? Dare we look to forgetting that day when we knew, just knew that we believed and trusted in Christ alone to save us? Will we be made to forget all in order to wipe away what sin caused? Well, of course that is man's rather limited view of a solution. God can do so much more than man. Jesus said that what is impossible for man is possible with God. The prophet Joel said that God would restore the years eaten by the locust. We have many more promises in the Word that this life with all of its bad anniversaries is most definitely not all there is. Blessed is the name of our Savior!


Thursday, November 06, 2014

Taking Steps

I can take steps! Yes, it is a rare privilege to start on a journey with a few steps. I can take faith-filled, prayerful steps in Christ to solve earthly problems. Jesus did say that we can accomplish nothing alone. True, nothing we attempt alone will last, if it appears to work, or will work out at all. I have run into that many a time. Also, even when taking steps in Christ, the fastest way to the goal may be the long way around. Instant miracles are great, praise God, but we don't always go that way with our Lord. Sometimes, the Lord lets us behold something along the way to a better life. That problem that dogs our heels is not immediately solved. We have faith in the Lord's almighty power, but He doesn't act on our timetable. I think we've all run into that in our journey too. We may hear about or witness an act of God that is instantaneous in healing or solving, and then wonder why He does not do the same for you or me. Faithful steps in Christ in our journey may be the slow ones on the long trip around the mountain of our problem. Those steps are faithful because we trust God that His way is the best for us.

An immediate solution may not grow the faith God wants to raise up in us. Yet, I also believe that when we look back from Heaven, we will agree that every one of God's solutions was perfectly done in just the right time. The blind beggar may have suffered long before the immediate healing by Jesus. The healing we experience that seemed to take so long may have come with only a short space of suffering before it began. We will not look back on this life and say, "Unfair!" to God, as we may be tempted to say right now. We may think that we were delayed in beginning the journey now, but then we will see how God guided us just as He promised. Faith allows us to see these things right now, if only dimly as in a poor mirror, to borrow Paul's phrase. Faith gives us courage to take another step on the journey with Christ, even though the step may be slow, tottering, short, and hesitant. God accepts those steps too.

Have a great day with our awesome God!

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Among the Celebrants, One Falls Down

The team sweeps the championship round, but over there on the bench sits a player whose injury will end his career. The party loudly celebrates whatever the party was called for, but in the middle of the celebration, a cell phone call announces the passing of a dearly loved one to one couple. As the Savior approached Jerusalem over the shouts of "Hosanna!", He stopped to mourn the rebellion of God's people in the city. As often happens in a great celebration, one suffers a blow that the remainder does not feel. The party roars on, but for one or two it rings false because of the bad news. Life here is not fair that way.

The good news is that Jesus reaches out amid the din and dancing in the streets to those who fall down in His care. Our Savior is always with us, but there are times when He lets us experience the fall. It hurts. We may wonder why. We may weep while others dance. We may mourn or sigh with regret. We have not, however, lost the salvation and grace we gained in Christ. That work was our Lord's at the cross, and it remains His though we may be defeated, or feel lost, or suffer hurt. I believe in the saving work of Christ, no matter what I may do or suffer in this life, and I believe it for you too. Paul did not mess around when he said that nothing can separate us from God's love, and God's love is what brought the salvation of Christ to you and me.

So cheer up when the mourning period is done. God didn't just squirm uncomfortably on His throne up there. The Holy Trinity did not call an emergency session. Our reward in Heaven remains secure, and eternal life remains based on God's steadfast love.

God bless you all,

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Cowardly or Loving?

Wow, the frost would not give way this morning, so I walked to the Bible study. I think a bit more gathered on the few spots that I did clear earlier. We had some big flakes (of snow) yesterday, but nothing remains this morning. Winter's grip is a bit weak this day, but come it will. Election day has come at last. There is a lesson in endurance, forbearance, and patience for us in all the political ads each election. I can hardly wait for 2016 to see how much of those qualities the Spirit has grown in me.

Suppose you or I know something about someone and just want to talk about it. However, in cowardice or love we wait until the other person brings up the subject. It doesn't happen. Was it cowardly or loving that I didn't introduce the subject and dive right in? I tend to think it was loving, but then again I may be a coward. And, there's nothing we cowards like more than to be affirmed by someone else that we were not cowards. So please affirm me before I start to think more cowardly thoughts! :-)

Actually, when a sensitive subject arrives, the tongue may be linked to a device that through many ratchets, pulleys, and lines attempts to drag the foot up and into the mouth. It is alright to forbear to speak on something that will hurt the other person. I may think I know so much about something, when in reality I do not know what the other fellow is feeling. I may in fact know much through experience, but that now was not the right time. The Spirit will guide us in this. Another time will come when the Spirit is willing and will guide the weak flesh to speak words of comfort and encouragement. Speak those at the wrong time though, and all may be lost in pain while the taste of foot lingers in the mouth.

Jesus never had to apologize. Much of that came from knowing the right words to speak at exactly the right time. Our best course is to look to the Lord for guidance in our speaking.

Have a great and righteous day in Christ!

Monday, November 03, 2014

Who Would Jesus Vote For?

Certainly Jesus would vote for one of us, wouldn't He? I mean, His Christian runs for office, surely our Lord would be behind the politician all the way, right? In a question like that, it is hard to tell. Jesus didn't come here to do what the religious leaders thought he should do. Some tough opposition to our Lord's ministry came from those very religious leaders. And, Jesus didn't shy away from a verbal stomping of those same leaders. Had those leaders been an elected office, Jesus as a Jewish man may not have voted for them. But, those men were in the wrong, we're asking about faithful Christians who want to serve in public office.

Again, still tough to answer that one. Our Lord sees all, and so He also knows the suitability of a man or woman for office now, and what that office will do to His child in the days to come. In the case of suitability, I believe that I would be wholly unsuited to political office. The Lord has not put it on my heart to do this thing, so I don't. Others, brothers and sisters in Christ, run for office and we are glad to support them. Would Jesus vote for them? We may not know for sure, but is not our vote as the body of Christ a part of Jesus supporting His Christian? The wonderful thing about the privilege of voting is that each of us can enter into prayer with God and decide our vote.

We can also consult with our brothers and sisters in Christ, or simply decide with God alone. We can allow the decision to be made by others too. Voting always has the freedom to abstain; I do that in races where I have no knowledge of the office or the candidates. Who would Jesus vote for? I cannot answer that. I struggle enough with who I should vote for. Does God stand above these elections and let the people decide? Maybe, but I for one want my Lord's input into my decision. I guess the question should be: Who would Jesus have me to vote for? And in answering that question, I suppose Jesus does let me know who He would vote for.

Have a wonderful day in Christ, and remember to vote tomorrow, if you haven't already.


Saturday, November 01, 2014

Behold the Body of Christ

Saturday and the day after that evening of trick-or-treating. I gave my little pumpkin a happy face and named him 'Milton', but we still didn't have many customers last night. I didn't realize until I sat out front that I got left in a bit of an island. The couple next door passed away and their house remains vacant. The house across the street was the one that burned down last June, and several others close by did not turn on the ol' porch light. So I gave out a few treats, played no tricks, and spent some time petting Samantha between the times she ran away from the little costumed persons. With time to think, I did some to the danger of us all.

Behold the body of Christ: one has lost a house, but another is given a way to keep his. One suffers terribly from a disease of the body, but another enjoys good health through her long life. One loses all financially speaking, while another enjoys goodly income to the point of wealth throughout his life. One struggles with fears, while another suffers little in this regard. In this region of the globe, they deal with near starvation, the loss of loved ones to malnutrition, and constant searching for food. While in another part of the globe, relative abundance is the norm. A nation rises up and gives praise to God, while another must give praise through their tears of mourning. How can all of this be part and parcel of the one body of Christ?

We don't know.

God gives and withholds according to His wisdom. God also allows persons to sin and deny his fellow man the basic necessities of life as some dictators do at times. God allows governments to stumble and fumble, while others are brought to stand tall among the nations. A person is born with a weak body and believes in Christ, and yet another with the strength and skill of an athlete also loves God with all his heart. The body of Christ is made of rich and poor, talented and uncoordinated, sick and well, tall and short, weak and strong, famous and anonymous, powerful and unknown, and anyone else who wants to believe in Christ Jesus. I guess the only thing we can know in this is that Jesus turns away no sheep, no matter how well they wear their wool.

Praise God for the new day!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Tales of the Dreadful Halloweens

Whoohoo! It's the widely celebrated, but mostly unrecognized holiday! No one gets the day off, but many get into the celebration in a big way. And, it falls on a Friday night this year. Oh dear! I don't think Halloween ever fell on a Friday night when I was a kid. (Of course it did) We also waded through snow drifts to reach the houses giving out the good candy. (No snow, okay, maybe a little.) We made costumes to look like poor children, because that's what we wore every day. (Not true) And most of all, we little trick-or-treaters had to walk fast and duck into bushes to avoid the kidnappers. (Never happened)

Stories about how nice it was back in the day don't make for good grandpa stories (I ain't one of those either.) We need suffering and hardship to prove to the new little guys in their fancy store-bought costumes how tough we had it back in the days of real werewolves and actual blood-seeking vampires. Of course, if we did any running it wasn't away from horrors, but to grab more candy just like now. We listened to tales from the elders about how tough they had it in their time. Some, I think, could recall the times before Halloween had been invented, though strangely, they also told tales of costumes made from wood, rocks, and straw. I'm not sure I believe them.

Halloween hasn't changed a whole lot from when I was a kid. Yes, the costumes are store-bought, mostly, but they are also easier and cheaper (relatively-speaking) to buy than they were back in the day. Parents want for their kids what they didn't have or couldn't afford. Bleah, my coffee is cold! I want kids today to have nothing but hot coffee with plenty of caffeine to drive their parents nuts. After all, back in my day, trolls labored over hot fires to mix and boil coffee out of dirt and old chicory, while their little gnome servants worked over hot forges to fashion children's costumes out of rocks, wood, and straw.

Have a safe and happy celebration in Christ this Halloween,

Thursday, October 30, 2014

It Doesn't Have To, Love Does

After months of enduring the mess, I got out the Goo-Gone® and razor blade last night and removed the previous owner's tape gunk from the pull-out writing surface of my desk. Very nice this morning, I am well rewarded. So, what profound thoughts does this provide for me to write about? None, I can't think of a thing. On the other hand, something on the Internet made me think of love and how it does even when it doesn't have to do anything. We are called to mourn with those who mourn. We don't have to, it isn't our loss to bear, but love compels us to join in the mourning. Of course, obedience implies a choice as well. We obey out of love. If it was a have-to, there would be no choice involved. We but follow our Lord in this.

Jesus had no need to save Himself by going to the cross; He was sinless. Instead, love brought Him to our rescue from sin and death by His obedience to the Father. Remember that extra mile thing? Yes, we could obey out of a sense of duty, a sort of neutral, or obey because the Lord commanded it, grumbling all the way, but better still is the heart that obeys out of love. Oh, how I look forward to that heart fully regenerated to my Lord and His Law!

Right now the carnal heart that is of this world is like an enemy behind the lines. The Lord says do, and it doesn't; the Lord says shalt not, and it wants to. In opposition to all that rebellion is love. The love is growing and the other must die and fall away, back to the dust from whence it came. Praise God that Jesus has overcome the world!

Yours in Christ,

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Insufficient Commitment

Years ago, I took up an educational goal because a field of study sounded impressive. I failed at that attempt. A neato, nifty, impressive-sounding major is an insufficient commitment to completing a lengthy course of study. A one semester course a person might be able to endure if it should turn out the title was the only thing really nifty about the subject. Years of study on the other hand, with course after course of increasingly difficult study requires a firm commitment over the long haul to reach the goal. Jesus said something very like that to those whose commitment came from novelty or idle curiosity about this new rabbi from Nazareth.

Jesus commanded these folks to count the cost, to let the dead bury their dead, and that the fellow who set his hand to the plow and then looked back was not worthy to follow; shocking things, statements that questioned their commitment to the cause, and things they probably didn't like to hear. Therefore, I must remain firm in my commitment to Christ, fully engaged, 'nose to the grindstone', and all that stuff. Only one problem with that...I'm a quitter. I don't have the steadfast will to make it a lifetime as a follower of Christ. So, why then am I not worried?

Easy peasy! Jesus has that commitment through His steadfast love for me and you. I know through earthly examples that I have been a quitter, and can easily be the same again. But I know through faith in the Word of God that Jesus is no quitter. My Lord's steadfast love and dedication to His ministry will see every sheep through to the green pastures. My salvation is assured, not because of any quality of endurance, steadfastness, or commitment that I brought to the table, but through the perfect qualities of Christ Jesus the Lord!

Yes, when I came to Jesus I had an insufficient commitment. I didn't know what would be required of me through the years other than in a general way. "In this world you have tribulation" doesn't state specifically what form that tribulation will take, so how could I count the cost? How do I tally up faith - the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen? How does one calculate a future he cannot know? Faith in Christ is of course the answer. It was never me that saved me. Not only was my commitment insufficient for the long haul, but so was my knowledge, strength, youth, wisdom, wealth, and all the other things we tend to think make us desirable for God's team. No, God chose me well before any of my desirable qualities were even offered to Him. Love apparently didn't need a sterling resume placed on the table to make His choice. Jesus committed long before I knew what commitment was.

Praise God for His steadfast love,

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Changing Lanes

It's no big deal, sometimes in life a lane change is necessary to get around a road block. Of course, I'm writing about more than just traffic. We may get stuck on a path in our Christian walk and refuse to change lanes when God wants us to change. The roadblock is there, but we just keep on hitting it and praying about it, and sitting there waiting on God, and then praying some more, and the road block just won't move. So, we send up some grumbling, and maybe mix in a bit of accusation, without looking over to that lane beside us and seeing the new path God wants us to take. Now, Jesus is the way to God, but there is plenty of room for personal change, career change, and a whole lot of other changes that do come to us now and again. We won't even talk about that single to married lane change, no, no, no, that ain't never gonna happen.

Yeah, I may end up placing that one on my shelf of dead nevers one day. Stubborn Christians, and there is such a thing, may beat on a wall in front of them for decades. All God wants is a little lane change, it ain't no big deal, but they just won't give in. Well, I think that God can out wait us, outlast us, and His will don't change. If you or I happen to be that stubborn one today, we may want to get some counsel, do some prayer, and have faith that the lane God wants us to travel in for a bit is better for us in the end. We want what is best for us from God's perfect view, so go ahead and travel in God's traffic flow.

Praise God for the new day!

Monday, October 27, 2014

No, Such a Time as THIS

I read about the time of the apostles and how each day believers were added to the church. I thought, what a time to be alive. Then, I read about the time when Jesus went to the cross, rose from the grave and ascended to Heaven, and thought that was a great time to be alive. But then, when Noah stepped forth onto a new earth washed clean from the sin that had gone before, that must have been quite the time to live. But no, for I was for for such a time as THIS!

Looking back too much may take our focus off of what time we are given on this day. Jesus brought you into this for for this time, right now. The time of the second coming of Christ and the Rapture of His church is one of those greatest of times. But, what if my life doesn't take place in those times? What if I am stuck in one of those seemingly dull times between great events?

We do not know that we have not been born for such a time as this. Whether what you and I do affects one unbeliever to come to Christ or we minister to thousands, this time is our time. This is the day the Lord has made for us to serve Him. The one saint who may never have been appreciates your time in this day. The thousands who learn of Jesus through us are no less appreciative of this time of ours. One day, all of us will be together with Christ Jesus in the place He has gone to prepare for us, and I believe that all of us will know that we were born for such a time as THIS!

Amen, Bucky

Friday, October 24, 2014

Crash Recovery

Growing up we heard much about the suffering caused by the Great Depression in the 1930's. In our lifetime, we faced the Great Recession, and many are still suffering. Perhaps one day the history classes will study the '30s and the '10s and compare one against the other, but for us we just have now. Many are the losses that this latest tribulation brought, and the crash recovery is a long and pain-filled road. I'm not going to drag out a bunch of examples, if you lived it you know well what I'm talking about. If you weathered the storm without much trouble, you probably helped those around you who crashed on the rocks. (Yes, I did, but I'm not changing my name to "Rocky") For those of us who crashed, we have a way back.

The way back to prosperity may not be quick or instant, much as we would like it to be, but slow, troubled, and fraught with the occasional slide backwards. We may analyze the causes, re-analyze our responses, and over-analyze possible mistakes along the way. Giving up is always an option; at least, it's always one presented by the Adversary, but we don't want to go there. Is it possible that circumstances could plunge us right back into poverty? Sure, but that is one of those worries we can only borrow from the future at steep interest, and the loan accomplishes nothing but mental pain and anguish. We don't need that loan. What we need is a savior, a constant companion through all of this.

Of course, we have one and He has been with us all the way. As churches collapsed financially in the Great Recession, many asked "Where is your God?" But, we know the answer to that: Right where He has always been! The saving grace of God through His Son is not about living in this world in constant comfort and riches. Tribulations great and small come our way, but faith reminds us that Jesus is right here with us in His Spirit. Our Lord suffered along with us as so many struggled just to get through a day. Some may still be doing just that and searching for their way back. All of this suffering has a conclusion though, and His return will come soon.

Enjoy your Friday in Christ!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Sometimes, Love Says No

Good morning, as the unseasonably warm weather is set to continue through the weekend. Yesterday, I watched love say 'no'. I have never liked to say no, even when some doubts hung over the situation. For a time, way back in the day, I had some resources and was able to respond with a yes in several instances. I liked it. Having resource and being able to use it generously is a blessing from God. Certainly it is much easier to be generous when I am well-stocked with any resource that others might need. Sometimes though, the pantry is empty, the bank account flirting with zero, and the resource tank is just plain dry. In those times love is forced to respond other than we might wish. However, there is another situation in which love must say no: that of doing more harm than good.

This is an area that God is especially good at. We think in our worldly doubts and fears that God must enjoy saying no to His children, but love is not that way. We come to God with a big request, one that by all ways we can think of will solve the problems facing us, but God turns down the request. What happened? Imagine God saying, "Yes, that would indeed solve all of the problems you see, but what about the problems I see arising from granting this request?" Indeed, the solution we see may cause more problems while solving those we are faced with. The new problems may be ones we would gladly trade in for the old ones if we only knew what was coming. Another view is that it may be better for you and me to work through the problems with Jesus in the slow way we may not like, rather than to receive a divine blessing that solves all immediately.

Receiving a 'no' is tough, having to give one may be harder for us to bear. Whether from lack of resource or from God-given knowledge that a negative response is for the better, we may face giving the hated 'no' to a friend in need. One thing we can always do, one resource that we never lack, is prayer. Always we have God to bring the request to on behalf of others. The resources we lack, God has in abundance. The wisdom and foreknowledge we do not have, God holds in His hands. Pray for one another: that's always a big "YES, I will!"

Have a good and glorious day in Christ!