Wednesday, April 30, 2014

It Happens To Us Too

Good morning on yet another windy day. We may like to think that following Christ protects us from the things of this world but we know such is not the case. A Christian is not guaranteed a quiet, peaceful passing in his old age at home surrounded by friends and family during his last moments. Although that does happen, we too are subject to the destruction and death from the violence of the world. A ministry many of us listen to during the evenings on MyBridge radio, Family Life Today, lost a man in the Arkansas tornadoes. Two of the man's daughters also died in the storm. We suffer when we hear about things like this, and we mourn too.

We look forward to that place where safety is the norm and there shall be no more sorrow or mourning. Until that time comes for all of us who are found in Christ, we know that the disasters of this fallen world happen to us too. In Job 1:18-19, the family of Job is killed by our common adversary with a great wind that collapses the house in which they had gathered to fellowship. The methods of the enemy probably have not changed in thousands of years. Does this mean that Satan murdered these people? Not necessarily, death happens in this world, and we know it very well. Death is something Adam earned for us by doing the only thing God told him never to do. The good news is that the Seed of Abraham conquered Death and the Grave. We don't have to look at death as the end for our fellow warriors in Christ. We mourn, but we know of the great hope we share in Christ Jesus.

As we learn in the military service, let us stand in the full armor of God, pick up the sword of the Word, and return to the fight. Some have fallen, but in Christ we stand until that day we are reunited with our Lord and our brothers and sisters in Christ. God bless you all,


Tuesday, April 29, 2014


Good Tuesday morning! Last night, I was over-matched by a pop bottle. Yup, all 42.2 fluid ounces of it. I couldn't drink the thing in one meal. I forgot to ask who was selling this behemoth of personal pop bottles. (The 2 liter and larger sizes I consider to be family sizes, and certainly wouldn't attempt to drink one at a meal.) The world over-matches us too. Not one of us can hope to match the world's forces of nature, government, or many other juggernauts that can end our lives, happiness, or well-being. Then, we run into one little statement of our Lord's in John 16. Yes, look carefully right at the end of this chapter. "...but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

"Hey! Overcome the world? When's that gonna start?" You and I may say when we read this. It surely doesn't seem as though our Lord has overcome the world in the present time, does it? Yet, He tells us to be of good cheer? We must always remember that God does not see time as we do. When Jesus gives the word, it's a done deal, but we may not see the fulfillment for a while in our time view. The prophecies in Ezekiel and Revelation of our Lord's victory over the military might of the world is a done deal, but to us these things have not happened yet. Before Jesus tells of His overcoming, He also reminds us of the tribulation we will endure in this world. Obviously both cannot happen at once to us in our time-limited view. Our Lord is there for the troubles with us, and is there at His victory. All is under His sovereign control, even in those things that He chooses not to control such as disasters and accidents, and the bad choices we get to make. In a fallen world with our fellow fallen people, we will have tribulation, but, be of good cheer, the overcoming victory of Jesus is as good as in the books.

To God be the glory!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Someone Like Me?

The April showers have arrived this morning. I seem to recall hearing the wind much of the night. This morning the article opens with what is supposed to be a shocking question: "Still think STDs are something that can't happen to someone like you?" (Women's Health) Why yes, actually, if the past several years are any indication of the future, my risk is quite the lowest. Ah, but there is the problem for someone like me, or for someone like you. The past is no reliable indication of what tomorrow may bring. An area of life that appears safe from temptation one day, may be the area the enemy brings out his big guns in tomorrow.

Someone like me may feel safe from a particular sin today, and then be gasping from the speed of my fall into that very sin tomorrow. The devil seems to love pulling the rug out from under a Christian standing confidently, but foolishly, on the throw rug of past success. What feels distant on the threat board today, may be a major enemy tactic tomorrow. Job sat easily at the dinner table one day, then the messengers began arriving.

All that is needed to throw life into seeming chaos is the right set of circumstances. A little overwhelming stress, one too many phone calls with bad news, and suddenly the child of the King finds himself in the fight of his life. Forget for a moment to call upon the Savior, and the hands may reach out for something seductive that appears to offer relief. Sex, drugs, rage, grumbling, and all the other things that have tempted humans since near the beginning of Creation are still here for us to fall into, especially if we think we got it made in that particular area of sin. Yes, someone like me is vulnerable to most anything the world throws at me...when I try to stand on my past success instead of in Christ where I belong.

The grace and peace of our Lord Jesus to all,

Saturday, April 26, 2014

But, I'm Only Human

Good Saturday morning! Yes, you may have heard correctly, the long experiment with standing up to write has ended. I can tell you that it is a good way to stop writing entirely. Better by far to lean back in the chair a bit and find something to prop up the feets. I think they call it a foot stool for some reason. I'm not sure what are all the health reasons not to sit all day, but I think taking 5 or 10 every hour to walk around is better than trying to stand. Okay, there is your practical part of the lesson based on my experience today. What can I pass on in a spiritual sense this morning?

Early this morning, waiting for the sun to come up, I thought that my tendency to make mistakes is excused by the fact I'm only human. Is that true though? What am I saying about God's creation when I do that? What we don't know is how many mistakes Adam made in the Garden of Eden before that really big one. It may well be that God did not create our ancestor to make mistakes in his gardening duties. Perhaps the expression should be something like, "But, I'm only fallen and in need of a Savior." That which we know as human today may be very different from what God created in the beginning and saw that it was good. What we will become in Heaven may be just as far from what we know today.

Enjoy the weekend in Christ Jesus,

Friday, April 25, 2014

A Cleanup Day

Good Friday morning! It's cleanup day here in the little town. I don't see much waiting for pickup down the alleys though. It may be that every house is already pared down to just the essentials, or that all is valuable, functional, and necessary for living, recreation, and play. Yeah, right, that sounds like the American homes I've been in, sure it does. How many of those same homes have full garages, full basements, attics, storage sheds, and off site storage barns? We tend to accumulate a lot of stuff. An annual cleaning up day is probably good for us. If not to throw out stuff, at least to consider what could be sold in a yard sale or auction, or dare we say it, donated to those in need. Oho! Why does my soap box say, 'materialism, on it this morning? What is that noise I hear from conscience?

It may be because I knocked apart and hauled out some furniture pieces that I had saved for one of those projects that never get started. So, now I feel qualified to get on the ol' soapbox and preach a little. Um, hmm, a little gaze around the homestead may reveal some clingers of my own. Stuff I don't need, don't use, and don't even remember why I held onto may even now be hollerin' "Hypocrite!" I suspect that if all preachers, teachers, and writers in the Word ever refused to take up any subject in which he or she was not completely and totally right with God we wouldn't have very many devotionals, sermons, or books to read and hear. All of us need grace, and more often than not, a devotional subject is or has been a problem for me too. Perhaps that 'lesson of the log' helps us to develop understanding and sympathy before we take up the preaching.

Have a great and wonderful today in Christ!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Burden of Tomorrow

Good Thursday morning! But...tomorrow is Friday, how can that be a burden? Ah, but not just any tomorrow do we worry and fret over. We like to live in the anxious tomorrow all the time. Jesus calls to us from now, today, right here and right now. The imagination takes off into tomorrow, ready to heap upon us the dread of an unlikely day. Like a credit card that charges unseemly interest by flogging the brain, we borrow short-term dread from an imaginary tomorrow. What a burden to carry into today! The peace given us by Jesus trampled under by the anxiety of a day never to come. Oh, that we would stay in the comforting arms of Jesus today!

Maybe a little melodramatic there, but the shoe does fit many of us like Cinderella's glass slipper. We think of all the dread remotely possible with an active imagination, add a few highly unlikely scenarios, and take off into feeling awful under a burden of anxiety. We don't feel the peace of Christ because we have tripped an avalanche of imaginary grief that fell down on top of it. The loving arms of Jesus feel distant because we are looking into a future that we cannot possibly know. Yet, those loving arms, though we don't feel them physically, are about us even as we look into the darkness.

Never leave us or forsake us, he said, and that is true even when we look in the wrong direction or at a wrong time. Be comforted in the present. Let the future worry about itself. Trust in Jesus today and walk with Him in this day. Stopping those dark thoughts is difficult. That is why tomorrow is such a burden. Let us walk together in Christ today.

The blessings of grace to you on this day,

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

He Will Be Here in The Morning

Good morning on this fine day! Did you fall asleep while saying your prayers last night? I did too, and you know what? God was here this morning when I woke up! I have in the past felt guilty for falling asleep during my talking with God. Yet, now I cannot think of a finer thing than to say my last words before the nightly rest to my Lord. Why shouldn't I fall asleep in the everlasting arms of Jesus? If I am so uptight in the Law that I must speak some ritual sign-off at the end of prayers, how am I free in Christ? Gasp, whatever will become of that uptight law keeper if he cannot say those closing ritual words just before the plunge into that undiscovered country?

Ritual prayers may have a place, but as for me just talking and listening to the Lord is the way to follow. I could sit down at the computer and attempt to write the perfect prayer. Perhaps, I would succeed in my opinion after some weeks or months of labor. Then, a year later, I might open up that perfect prayer file and, hey!, it wouldn't be perfect anymore. My needs may have changed, but more likely my knowledge of God and His great love grew up a bit more. The perfect prayer is the one given wholly and unreservedly to God each time we pray.

Let me, dear Lord, not worry about the form but simply throw myself into your grace on this day.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Staying With The Brethren

Good Tuesday morning as the students head back into school after Easter break. Here is an interesting verse: "And [Joshua] said to them, 'You have kept all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, and you have obeyed my voice in all that I commanded you.' " (Joshua 22:2) The context of the verse is the return of the eastern tribes to their land beyond the river Jordan after helping the other Israelites in a lengthy war. Joshua blessed them for not leaving their brothers. We can learn from that a lesson in faith, as in keeping faith with our fellow soldiers in this fight.

The world dumps a lot of bad things on us. This cursed earth not only brings forth a lot of stickers, but a lot of sickness and grief as well. Humans go out of their way to hurt and kill each other, and of course we have the accidental things that come along in life. We need each other, and keeping faith with our brothers and sisters in Christ is of particular importance in our suffering. Is this always easy? No, it is not. We each suffer, and sometimes that gets in the way of our being there for our brothers. How important then becomes the promise of Christ to NEVER leave us or forsake us? We need each other, but we need our Lord Jesus more.

Now, to remember that the bad things come and go, while my Lord is always here with me! Have a great day in Christ and with Christ!


Monday, April 21, 2014

Relationship Builders

Good Monday! I didn't pester you all weekend, so lookout this morning. No, no, that isn't the way to build relationship. Why did Paul tell us to let our gentleness be known to all in Philippians 4:5? Another translation uses 'reasonableness, but the advice is the same. We often want our ability to handle any situation to be well known, or our physical strength, or the facade that is the outside of our body, or even the fame and wealth of worldly success. No doubt all those ways will bring some kind of relationship, wealth and fame in particular. However, the Bible calls for a better way to build relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ. No, actually the verse calls for us to show our gentleness to all men, that is to all human beings. It is simply another way of saying, "Love your neighbor as yourself." And, is not gentleness, lovingkindness, reasonableness, and other relationship builders following the command of our Lord to do unto others as we would have them do unto us?

Of course, the carnal man isn't much of a relationship builder. The carnal man steeped in the wisdom of the world wants to crash in like the Incredible Hulk (though on the outside he resembles more the incurable bulk). Today, let the carnal man submit to the will of the spiritual man and let us build some relationships. Gentleness, love, encouragement, peace, kindness, these are the way to relationship, and let us not forget that power we are given: forgiveness. Amen. Joy and gratitude to our Lord who rose from the dead!


Friday, April 18, 2014

The Lamb of God

Happy Good Friday to you! I cannot think of a better subject for the Friday before Easter than the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. The prophets of old said that He would come. John the Baptist had the privilege of saying "There He is!" Jesus told the woman at the well that He was the One. The world and its prince were glad to say, "He died." We have with our brothers and sisters in Christ, the disciples, saints, martyrs, and apostles, a great privilege to say, "He lives!"

The cross paid the price, but the resurrection gave us the promise. We testify to the life of the Lamb of God that we may share in His triumph. Because He lives, we live eternally in Christ. Good Friday is Good News applied to our sin debt, but Resurrection Sunday is the news of eternal life we live for. Jesus did so much for us in one weekend that we hardly do justice in our Easter celebration. Praise God that each year we have the opportunity to add to the celebration of Christ's death on the cross and resurrection from the grave.

You or I may have to work through this weekend, but we will celebrate Christ in our heart. The time of His return is near. The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world has not forgotten us down here. Have a great Easter weekend in Christ Jesus!


Thursday, April 17, 2014

There Have Been Times...

Good morning, complete with clouds and the promise of rain or snow. In life, there have been times when I thought I was smart, but acted stupidly. There have been times when I thought I was kind, but hurt someone. I may have thought tough love, but the passage of time shows only cruelty. We all have those things in our past, whether we realize it or not. Our rebirth in Christ does not automatically mean that we will never do it again, unfortunately. In the moment, we may think that we are doing the right thing, but later on the realization comes that quite the opposite was the case. I hate those times and I really wish that I would always do the right thing. Praise God that I and all of us can learn in the Spirit.

As we grow in Christ, we learn to pause at times and listen for the prompting of the Holy Spirit. We don't do the same things in all cases. The enemy's traps must become more elaborate to catch us and trip us up. Is it any wonder that grandparents know how to spoil the grandchild, yet also hold the wisdom to not harm the child with too much spoilage? They have learned through a difficult bout of parenting how to raise children. We learn through a difficult bout of life how to live in eternity with Jesus and each other. Of course, most of the work by far is done by our Lord. We learn in the 'boot camp' of this life how to serve in the eternal blessing of Heaven. Praise God for this time of learning!


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Did Jesus Suffer a Headache?

Good morning, with wind, on this new day! Listening to the wonderful song "Midnight Cry", I think of the many midnight cries that have issued from me. I have yet to go home with that kind of midnight cry, but that does not mean God didn't hear me. Waking up to a headache is one of those tribulations in this life that can cause me to cry out around midnight. What seemed a good night's sleep is interrupted by pain in the noggin. This morning, I had to ask if Jesus suffered a headache. The temptation of course is to take points away from Him if He didn't suffer every possible ache or pain that we suffer. As we approach Good Friday this week, we are well reminded that our Lord suffered much worse.

Not only did Jesus suffer those things recorded in the gospels, but He also suffers along with all those who call on His name. Jesus suffered the punishment for our sins on the cross. I don't have to worry that Jesus might have suffered less than me, or somehow used His authority to cut himself some slack at some point in His earthly life. In fact, those were the very points Satan used to tempt our Lord out in the desert, and He fell to no sin. "Make it easy on yourself, turn those rocks into break loaves." Yet, our Lord stood firm on the Word of God.

When pain comes in this life, we want nothing more than to get out of it, or have it end, or get some relief from it. It sounds obvious, but pain hurts. Relief or rescue may not come right away. Most of us, probably all of us, have suffered pain the bigger part of our lives, sometimes more and sometimes less. We must count it a privilege to suffer a bit of what our Lord suffered on the cross. Rather just have it end? Yeah, me too. But at least for the time we suffer we can call on the Lord to help us endure and to count it a privilege in Christ.

Grace to you in Christ Jesus,

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

False Promises

Good morning on this Tuesday! I gaze upon the picture of a great library. Then, I wonder if the fireplace is ever lit for the enjoyment of reading a good book. Wait, no comfortable furniture! Only a couple of benches. I begin to suspect that the fireplace with its logs is only for decoration. Perhaps the chimney is sealed off to retain heat. We live in a world of false promises. A corporate office building boasts an entrance with comfortable couches and chairs in groups for easy conversation, but the employees behind the locked doors labor in little cubicles and noses are vigorously applied to the proverbial grindstone. The bank holds out the promises of loans for homes, but in reality many in need of a permanent home cannot qualify for the loan to purchase one. This is not to get you down and depressed on a Tuesday. We know the world is full of these false promises.

Who do we look to for the promise of real and lasting joy, comfort, peace, love, and eternity? Jesus, of course. A lovely fireplace on earth may be just for show, but there is no need to mourn over it. This whole earth is just for show; one day it will all pass away. Once upon a time, I was refused a loan for a house. But, now I know that my Lord has gone to prepare a permanent place for me in Heaven. Labor, toil, work, these things are here and are not always pleasant for us. We know this is but the training period before eternity. Businesses may have guest foyers the employees are not allowed to touch, homes with fancy landscaping may hide a mess inside, buildings may hide an ugly purpose behind a designer facade; hooray for them. We know all this is not the promised land, but that time we endure before the eternity Christ gives to those who believe in Him.

Once, God created this beautiful place for Adam, and our ancestor blew it. We have the promise of a new paradise awaiting us, and for a short time we must endure a rough, cursed place. Let us labor to shine for the glory of God in this place, that He may quickly bring us to our eternal home with Him.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Pray and Walk Away

Hmm, should be "Return to Winter Devotional" But, the sun is coming up way over where it doesn't shine in winter. What is wrong with this picture today? Power outage yesterday morning, snow, wind, but look how late it stayed light in the evening; what is wrong here? I have all these great ideas for devotionals...until I stand before the computer monitor with an empty head. (Contrary to popular opinion this is not a normal condition.) Ah well, pray and walk away! That is not just a rhyme to encourage play. We often shoulder the project or task solo, as in trying to do it without the Lord. We get bogged down, or stuck, or stumped, or whatever word we want to use for coming to the end of what skill or strength we possess. To pray is to admit to the Lord that we need His help, that we need Him in our work. Walking away allows us to let go of that control we so desire in our earthly nature.

Jesus invited those with heavy burdens to come to Him. There was more in that command though than just coming to our Lord. "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) Promises and comforts such as, "learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart..." sound like the best kind of teacher. Of course, what could be a better promise than the Son of God affirming that "I will give you rest."

Bring your burden to Jesus on this cold Monday morning,

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Content, Not Complacent

Good Saturday! A day that we often get up just a bit more slowly than during the working week. Have you ever dreamed of bathrooms? I don't mean a house with one or two, or even three. No, this dream was of a condominium home with about 20 rooms, 12 or more of these were bathrooms in my dream. Bathrooms with huge showers, including benches and chairs, and little bathrooms with combined shower stalls and toilets, something like an RV might have in it. And of course, all sizes in between, all very bright, white, and clean. I think that sometimes God likes to have some fun with me in dreams. I have wanted to remodel a bathroom downstairs in my house; I have a dear friend who wants to remodel hers, and I have been looking at bathroom pictures at work for my website development. All of that seems to have combined into a quite humorous dream of a home that must be some plumbing contractor's dearest wish. I have to ask though, is my wish to remodel a bathroom a lack of contentment in my situation?

A bathroom may do its job, and we may be content. However, I don't think that to be content in what God has provided need be the same as complacency. God gave us minds and brains, and we are to use those for His glory. This world is fallen along with man, and things are far from perfect. I believe that we can be content, as Paul had learned, and yet not be complacent in how things are in the world. Imagine politics or government if all Christians were content and complacent. To be content with God's material blessings, I don't believe means that we must complacently accept what is obviously not as good as it may be with some effort and resources. God may indeed give us something that is less than optimal to see what you or I might do with it. Perhaps, the best thing the Lord gives are those things that we can improve on with the work of our hands and minds. No home we are blessed with will be perfect so that God may bless us with work to improve and enjoy together with Him.

Imagine the place Jesus has prepared for us in Heaven is not perfect as we think it should be, but is a complete mess in every way. However, God does not expect us to complacently accept, but would have us to work with a certain carpenter to remodel and restore and have a good time in making this place a beautiful heavenly home. Yes, that may well be Heaven as God knows it.

Enjoy your Saturday in Christ,

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Pain of Mocking

Good Friday morning! Next time we do this on a Friday, it will be Good Friday. Today the question is a humbling one for me, because I have done this in my past. The question is: Have you ever mocked? Since most of us began life as babies and grew up into toddlers and kids, chances are good that we have mocked or been mocked. The usual first step is to point out a difference in a little toddler body. Second, the kids in school make a different word of another kid's name. As a born Sealey, I still remember a kid pronouncing it 'silly' ad infinatum until the mock was firmly entrenched in my memory all these years. Kids are creative, so every name given to children - first, middle or last - has been mocked in several ways, I'm sure. Even pronounced correctly, we have the ability to put an inflection on a name that mocks. Is it any wonder then that God made His name holy and put a law on that to keep it that way?

You and I can easily recall the kid we called by some derogatory name, or we can recall the name given to us that we didn't like. Cain and Abel probably came up with mocking nicknames for each other way back in the first days. We tend to grow out of it because of the pain of mocking. The thirty or forty-something year old man still using all the old nicknames people didn't like at the class reunion comes across as more than a little pathetic. We don't like to see an adult person mired in childishness. Partly because such a person tempts us to mocking way too much! Jesus gave us a positive, pro-active method for this sort of temptation. Do unto others as you would have them do for you.

Mocking is painful when received. As we grow to be more like our Lord, it becomes painful when given as well. I hesitate to think of the mocking our Lord endured on the way to Calvary. Mocking comes from a hating heart, and our Lord endured more than we can ever know. Praise God that none of that caused Him to hate in return. When we give mocking, He gives mercy and forgiveness with healing. When we must receive or endure mocking, our Lord gives us strength and faithfulness with His comfort.

Rejoice in the Friday!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Maybe There Isn't One

Hmm, a tiny rappelling artist on my light fixture; not quite what I expected this morning after my Bible study. What is the difference between wishful thinking and faith? At first glance, it may seem to be the unlikeliness of the event. The Bible is full of unlikely outcomes though. How likely is the Red Sea to part right now and allow me to walk across on dry ground? Yet, the Bible tells of that very thing happening. Perhaps we missed something in that story. The event was highly unlikely until God said that is what would happen. So we can mark down one difference right there. When God gives His word, no longer is wishful thinking an issue.

A woman approaches a man in a crowd hoping to simply touch his garments and have her illness healed. Wishful thinking indeed, except that in this case she knew the man as the Son of God, a healer and prophet. She came in faith and went away healed. Another difference we can mark down, come to Jesus believing and a desired outcome is faith, not a wish. Or, maybe the wish is fulfilled by faith, and thus is not a bad thing at all. Another comes to the Son and says, "If you will..." God's will makes a thing possible, no matter how unlikely the outcome seems to us in our world-raised view. Maybe there is no difference between faith and a wish except in the action.

Prayer brings a wish to God in faith, and then God may say yes or no. Not all of our desires are good for us to have fulfilled, and God will deny the request. As any parent or boss knows, it is not easy to say no to requests when you want to give those you love all they desire. Perhaps the world looks down on wishful thinking to stop us from bringing the unlikely to God in faith. Wonders and miracles may be stopped by those who believe in Christ refusing to ask, seek, and knock at the doors of faith. Have we learned to edit our requests just because they seem wishful thinking in the world's view? James reminds us that we have not because we ask not. The world's prince can stop the miraculous if he can keep the children of God from asking in the first place.

God may give the thumbs down to your wish. However, it was very unlikely that a group of hungry lions would refuse a tasty meal for an entire night.

God's grace and peace to you,

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Nope, Don't Work That Way Neither

Ha, working on my new program this week - spading the garden. One problem I can see already is in digging for a bit and then trying to switch over to typing. I think it diminishes my usual blazing speed of 20 or 30 words per minute. Hmm, yup, I never did exactly smoke those typing tests back in the day. Of course, if I could type over 200 wpm, then maybe I could impress God and He would choose me. No? Man, what does it take? We know that is the wrong direction. An impressive resume of skills and education may impress a human boss, but that isn't what God is looking for to fill His team. I don't know about you, but I find it too easy to think that God is looking for those with enough degrees, certificates, skills, gifts, talents, or experience because that is what the world looks for in a man. Oh, wait, I forgot that one thing the world seems to value above all others - he or she looks good on TV.

Okay, maybe I ain't that either, but I seem to recall some interesting verses regarding who God might choose. Verses such as Matthew 11:28, "Come to Me, all you who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." All you? That sounds like just anyone who is burdened in this world. I think I can qualify there. How about that famous one, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." Hmm, I think most of us can make it into 'whoever'. How many is most? Probably, and you can see this one coming, whoever wants to believe! Oh, yeah, qualified for the team once again!

God doesn't choose the special or accomplished people. God chooses people because we are all special to Him. Born again in Christ, we are now re-creations of God.

Enjoy the day with Jesus!

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

I Can't Take That!

Oops, I was just caught messing with the laser switch. Someone knows well the sound of his nemesis being activated. Now to carefully let the cat go back to his morning nap. Okay, all is quiet again. Now, over the years I have accepted many a criticism of myself. The critical remarks that slip off my tongue now and then are little compared to the volume and frequency of self-disparaging remarks I have heard in my mind. Why does it not work when I give myself a compliment? Why are we so wired to be negative toward the self when Jesus told us to love our neighbors as ourselves? If I learned to love my neighbor in the same horribly critical way that I showed love to myself, I would soon have no friends or neighbors.

Perhaps it is something in our western culture that causes so much self rebuke and criticism. Whatever the cause, we are going to have to learn to drag ol' third wheel along when we learn to love God and our neighbors more each day. A cart with two wheels going forward and one sideways will not get anywhere fast. Love of the self needs to join the other two loves and grow in the same direction. God sees all of my imperfections, sins, and failures, and yet He loves me with an everlasting love. Maybe it is time for me to get on board that love boat and learn to love me too!

Have a loving day in Christ!

Monday, April 07, 2014

It Doesn't Work That Way

Good Monday morning! I know you have seen the little old ladies in the commercial, mostly because I have seen it and I don't even have television service. "None of this stuff works that way!" she says. If you have tried self-improvement and self-salvation, you know what this is all about. Psalm 127:1 reminds us: "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it. Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain." This is easy to take as, "I shall do nothing until the Lord gets me up and moving with His mighty hand." From my experience, that is not quite what the Lord meant there. We do have a calling to perform, and we do have work to be done for taking care of the self and those who depend on us. However, first we must seek the Lord and His will. Prayer comes before the performance, in other words.

Often, I think I know exactly what needs doing to improve my life and my situation. I take this view and present it to the Lord in prayer. I fail. What went wrong? I tried to build my house without the Lord. I watched the dark countryside in the dark of night on my own, and in my own plan and strength. I didn't wait to hear the Lord's will, but took off with the rolled-up plans for my will in hand. The Lord has a good plan for me. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." The way ahead is plain: I must first seek the Lord's will and follow His building plan. I stay awake to guard the city when God commands, and not when I think it best. Hoo, the metaphorical talk is falling thick today!

We have the Lord's good pleasure ahead for us, but we will have trouble reaching the party if we take off on our self-prophesied, self-improvement plan. Ouch, glad I don't have to attempt saying that out loud. A self-improvement plan is by nature a list of rules and regulations. If that is what we want, the Bible has plenty of those for us. Organizations of all sorts like to add more. Talking heads on the Internet and television can dump on many more. The Lord tells us, "Come to Me, all you who are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest."

Start the week out in Christ, and go easy on those self-imposed, self-righteous rule books.


Saturday, April 05, 2014

The Grim Spectre of Separation

Good Saturday morning! I'm hoping you can work at home doing something you enjoy this morning. A classmate posted her separation on Facebook. Our family saw the grim spectre of separation pass close by this past week, but it has moved on for now. We also suffer separations in this life. Divorce, job loss, people moving on to a new opportunity, or a child leaving the home all give us pain in this life. While some separations are more painful than others, we all walk through the valley of death's shadow every day. Even a joyful separation such as a child marrying and moving away to the city causes a little pain in the separation. We don't get to keep everyone we love close by in this life. When one moves on into the next life, that separation is quite grim for those of us left to say, "farewell for this brief time!"

Though we go about our duties, work, and play, the grim spectre of separation haunts us with occasional reminders. Of course, we also have those times in this life when we suggest to the Lord that a good time for the rapture of the church has arrived. In the moment, we would gladly separate ourselves from the world to avoid some pain. Since we're all still here, I can assume that prayer didn't work. We look to the rapture as a way not to enable the grim spectre, but to defeat it. Jesus rose from the dead to prove to us that He had overcome death, the substance of the shadow I am calling a grim spectre this morning. With Jesus holding the victory over the substance, we need not fear the shadow. Separations hurt us, but one day Jesus will hold the big reunion, the one that never ends. I look forward to seeing y'all there!

Love in Christ,

Friday, April 04, 2014

That's The Best You Have?

The end of an exhausting work day. Two days of nearly constant phone calls, hours of grunt work to push a new web site, passwords impossible to recall, problems to solve, and now, NOW, the rotting pumpkin shows up with gray nastiness oozing out the backside where I couldn't see it! Ha, ha, ha! Like Sisyphus I laugh at you! That is the best you can do to the tired Christian on a Thursday evening? World, I mock thee. My God is all powerful; my Savior with me at all times. Of course I discover such a thing at the end of a long day and weary week, I expected nothing less of you. But, you cannot have me. I will not sink down to despair when the good news of Jesus lives in my heart!

The morning of Friday is here! A new day to glorify the Lord. The week may be tough, but the week will end as has been commanded by God long ago. We mock the world's woes in the strength of the Lord, but never to test the Lord. No, for we know that should the Lord withdraw the least of His strength, we would be lost in a tidal wave of worldly persecution. We stand only in the strength of our Lord. The world may lay us low at times, but Jesus has overcome the world. One day, He will reign. Not that one who desires our destruction now, but the One who died to set us free. He, the Christ, will reign forever. For a little time we are tried in the furnace of the world. Sometimes we can laugh at the trial, other times we weep for the pain of it. One day, one day very soon, our Lord Jesus returns to take up His kingdom. May it come swiftly on the wings of the morning!


Thursday, April 03, 2014

Is That a Proper Excuse?

Good morning! The week totters on toward its conclusion and work awaits us. Yesterday, the discussion turned to music. Like politics, music can be a very polarizing venue. Some support their freedom of expression, others their rights to avoid hearing objectionable 'noise'. There are those musicians who come up with an act that portrays worship of the devil, satanism, and evil acts. It might be said that they are in it for the money and do not really believe in these things. Okay, but is that a proper excuse? If a person says that his job is in banking, but in fact he makes a living robbing those banks. Would we say that he has a proper excuse? Probably not, certainly the long arm of the law would place him in a sort of protective custody for his criminal actions.

As we live in Christ, we don't get to separate making a living at our work from our behavior at church or when the pastor is watching. Jesus didn't die for our sins at home or down at the local bar while leaving alone that workplace because, as they say, everyone has to make a living. If the musician makes songs praising Satan, but then says it's all a goof and they don't really believe in it, are they not the hypocrite? We don't get to steal from the boss and then say how good we are in church. We can't excuse our betrayal of a co-worker to get ahead in the corporation as making a living for our family, and then take the family to church as though all is right with God. We don't want to become the legalistic judgmental Christian, but we don't want to be the hypocrite.

But, ya know, hold my life up to the microscope of God's law and you will find something hypocritical, something sinful, or a chaffed conscience. Your life probably has a few legal holes in it too. We are not perfect, and in fact Paul reminds us that all have sinned and fallen short of God's standard. We need Jesus, and in only in Christ can we be righteous. Only the cross makes us free of sin's penalty, and only in grace do we live. Praise God for the forgiveness of sin and the free gift of God in Christ.


Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Uh, What Is That A Sign Of?

Good mid-week morning! Sounds kind of weak, like maybe an attempt to shorten the ol' workweek. Hmm, ever have a house grow in your dream? A friend let me into his home in my dream, and it was nice and rather large; say, in the 3,000 sq. ft range. A big home, but not a mansion by any means. However, when I woke up in the dream, I couldn't find my way out of the house. Rooms with people staying in them occupied what I thought was the front entry. After asking me about buying a house, a man told me my truck was, "12 minutes that way." Wait, what, 12 minutes? A person can walk at least a mile in 12 minutes, probably a mile and a half or more. I dreamed a house that grew to something more than a mile to walk out in at least one direction. What is that a sign of? Approaching insanity probably, maybe I'll forget to mention that one to my counselor.

As we studied the Revelation, we read many signs and wonders. While it is tough to tell from this side of the Tribulation, some signs are literal and others are metaphorical or figurative. As we read of yet another earthquake in the news this morning, we know that Jesus told us in Matthew 24 that these would come, a literal sign that is fulfilled. The 1,260 days in Revelation 12, 13, and 17 are most likely literal time spans. Peter did say that a day is as a thousand years to God, but we shouldn't take that as 1,260,000 years for the time the two witnesses will do their thing. The 75 - 100 pound hailstones unfortunately are likely to be literal, though we might wish for something a bit less crushing. However, we also read of signs like the woman standing on the moon and clothed with the sun. If that sign is literal, it will be hard to miss a woman of such dimensions. We can safely call that one figurative, but with God literal is certainly possible too.

Signs are tough. We may like to see signs, even yearn for God to show us one. We may also be terrified that He would give us a sign. Most dreams are just dreams, and we shouldn't use them as a guide to our day. The Scriptures are far better guides. Prayer is a more sure means of communication with God. Walking with Jesus is our sure pathway and His light is in His word.

Love in Christ,

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Some Folks Practice More Than Me

Good morning! As I bumbled and stumbled my way through vocalizing some words in my Bible lesson this morning, I realized that some folks practice talking much more than I do. Now, this is not an insult to them. A person can talk quite a bit more than me and never come close to being known by the pejorative, 'blabbermouth'. Each of us has something he or she likes to practice. We have a passion for some skill and practice follows without coercion. No one must force us to practice or practice more, as happened when we were children and only wanted the performance and praise without the practice. As fallen human beings, we need to practice to perform well.

We see the minister of many years flawlessly giving a sermon, and it looks so easy. What we didn't see was the years of training, practice, and short, stumbling sermons that came before. It may seem funny, but even our sinning requires practice to avoid mistakes. The first time your child told a lie, you probably wondered if he or she was brain damaged so obvious was the fiction in the tale. Your parents and mine could tell of a similar incident from our childhood. In most cases, we gave up practicing such things as a moral code was instilled in us. As we grew older, we learned through some trial and error that some skills would remain beyond mastery, no matter how much practice we applied. Since the Air Force made it clear that half-blind aspiring fighter pilots need not apply, I learned at the tender age of seven or eight that this skill would not be on my future resume.

People practice skills that you or I may not possess because they enjoy a passion and then see some success in that area. Some of them become among the best of humankind in their particular skill, and often we enjoy watching them perform. However, Jesus did not say that He had come to save the best and brightest, or the most skilled and proficient. Jesus came to save all of us who believe in Him. No matter how many skills we have tried and failed at, we can call upon the name of Jesus and be saved for all eternity. When it comes to talking well, perhaps there will be time in Heaven for me to practice that skill. Eternity should be just about right.

Love in Christ!