Thursday, July 31, 2014

It Just Doesn't Matter

Good morning on this bright Thursday! That title could lead into a depressing diatribe quite easily, but we'll strive for something else this morning. What I mean is that time when we look back and try to shovel all the regrets into one big pile, set it on fire with shame and self-pity, and then wait for the burning mass to fall on us. What if I had done this instead of that back in the day? Where would I be if I hadn't done this other thing? We all have a tendency toward the second guessing of our past. However, I submit that it just doesn't matter today. One thing only we had to do in our past days, and that was to believe in Jesus Christ. All those other depressing things, if you have any, God can forgive, cleanse, and/or use for our good. And let us give our past a fair assessment. It is very likely that there are good decisions in your past too. Forks in the road of life came up, and you took the right path. Or do we think that God could not guide us in that past we so desire to look down upon to the shame and degradation of the self?

Sure, you made a bad turn here and there; I did too. What matters is today. Do we know that a decision made in the past might have turned out differently at today? Sure, but the point is might have, not would have, for we do not know the would-have's. And who said that I know so much about the path Christ is leading me on? Who am I to say that decision made way back in the day was the wrong turning to take. Perhaps what I see as a bad decision was in fact a correction made by God to get me here, today, right where He would have me to grow. If I am in the wrong today, then my faith reminds me that God can set me right again. So there, you dark, doubtful, and depressing thoughts, get lost and get behind me!

Have a new day in Christ Jesus,

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Getting Clever, Digging Deeper

Good Wednesday! Working on a PC last night, I felt the sting of temporary defeat. Computer malware and nagware is getting clever and digging deeper into the operating system. Of course, this is modeled on that oldest of problems, sin. All it takes is that first visit to the forbidden tree, then a simple 'yes' to the wrong thing, and next thing you know, sin is dug in so deeply that special weapons and tactics are required to blast it out. I'm trying to avoid going all geek on this one, but there are so many parallels that it may be tough. One program file I could not remove. And, I fear that going online with that one intact may bring back more of the stuff, kind of like that evil spirit that goes out into the desert and finds seven of its buddies to bring back to the swept house.

These days we can think of Eve as that first poor computer user who clicked on the blinking button at and let loose the whole raft of computer viruses and malware. Eve knew that she was disobeying God, but she probably could not imagine the consequences. We can lay some blame, but then we are no better than our hero, Adam, with his first finger pointing, "She done it!" Before God even asked that question about hiding in the bushes, sin had dug into Adam and caused the first blaming. In the same way, the first person to bring me the PC to fix usually denies responsibility and then blames the spouse or children for the infestation. Wherever the blame may lie, the problem needs fixin' and Jesus was the one to do it for sin. Now, I just hope that computer malware does not require crosses and tombs before I can fix it.

Have a better day in Christ!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

That Lost Thing

Good Tuesday morning! You know it is in your house/apartment/workplace somewhere, but you just can't put your hands on it. Usually it has to do with car keys or the television remote, but other times it is something you haven't seen or used for some time. How much time and effort do you put in to finding this thing? Like me, you probably expend quite a bit depending upon how badly you want it. Jesus told us some parables about the value the kingdom of heaven places on us lost things. A man discovers a treasure beyond price in a field, so he sells all he has to purchase this field. The tiniest of seeds outdoes all expectations and grows into a mighty tree for birds to shelter under. A man sends all his servants and eventually his very son to redeem a certain vineyard, yet the residents keep on killing. How far would God go to redeem those lost things?

We know one answer to that; God sent His Son who died on the cross for our salvation. We got lost further and went to a far country to live the life, but God welcomed us back home. Parable after parable speaks of the love God has for us, His little lost things. No effort is too great, no price too high for God to redeem us from sin. Whatever effort we might expend to find that one lost possession pales in comparison to what God expended to find you and me in the darkness. That calls for some rejoicing!

Have a wonderful day in Christ!

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Small Town

Good Monday! The little toads have returned, my eyes are full of gook, and the untended weeds are tall; it must be coming up on August. Sprinklers are a must in these days if the lawn and garden are to survive. Rabbits and squirrels run freely through the yards, and people walk without fear in the evenings. We must be in the small town part of America. Sounds almost idyllic if you don't know the truth. Each person walking these streets has his or her set of worries. Each comes with health worries, some serious and others imaginary. Each carries a load of concern over capital, as in will there be enough to meet the invoiced demands this month. What if some health concern rears up and wipes out the capital entirely? Others will face a job this morning they do not like in a career he or she wishes had gone differently. All can think of regrets from the past that threaten to choke off all happiness. Yet, they go one more round in this fight we call life.

Wow, how depressing can I get on a Monday morning? The truth is also that life is not only these things. Worries are not all that we have to think about on a nice evening walk. Even those who do not believe in Jesus can find other subjects to bring up on a walk or an evening sit. We who have a great hope in Christ then have more reason to put on that cheerful demeanor. We do not look forward to nothing but doom and galoom, but to a future bright with the anticipation of meeting our Lord. Uh, not sure what 'galoom' is but it sounds bad. You probably wouldn't want any to get in your breakfast cereal. Life does dish out a lot of pain and suffering, but that isn't all there is to think about. In fact, we can reduce the pain and suffering just by turning the mind to other good things in life. This is possible because Jesus our Lord does not leave us alone.

Have a great week in Christ Jesus!

Friday, July 25, 2014

The World Today

Good Friday morning! A comic strip this morning shows a man wanting to check the book of Revelation because Weird Al Yankovic hit number 1 on the charts. (see Nothing is Not Something by Greg Wallace on Yeah, kind of seems like a thing to do these days. We may see signs or we may see things we only think are signs, and run to those books of prophecy to check. All of us I think would like to know for sure that this sign means that prophetic event has begun or is beginning or might even begin next week. However, most of the things we think we see fall into the category Jesus said to not worry about. These are but the beginning of the labor pains, but the end is not yet, He told them back in the day, and the same goes for us about 2,000 years later. Of course, on the other hand as we say, with fighting taking place all around and in Israel today, the times they are lookin' mighty like something is brewing.

The world today is what it is. That is not to dismiss the suffering, but to emphasize the Savior. Our answer for all that goes on remains the same as the One found by Paul on the road to Damascus. Heh, heh, if you call 'finding' meeting an overwhelmingly bright light that scares a few years of your life on the spot. Paul could have refused to believe even in that moment. We don't think of it that way, but the man who wrote so much of the Bible could have turned and dismissed the Lord right there and gone back to Jerusalem. Would the blindness have remained like scales on his eyes? Maybe, we'll never know and we don't need to know. Paul choose Jesus and life that day. Whatever comes in this world today, we have that same choice. When you and I believed in Jesus, our future was secured for all eternity. Have faith, the dark clouds of world events only mean that the return of our Lord is close.

God's love and peace to you,

Thursday, July 24, 2014

First-hand, Invaluable Experience

Good morning on this day in Heaven's training camp for wayward sinners. It takes a rebirthing in the Spirit to enter this camp, but those who once claimed the title Worst of the worst are here. Strangely to those looking from the outside, many of those who once claimed to be Best of the best are here too. Self-righteous or as far from righteous as may be conceived in the mind of man, the former title holders have come to be saved by the Lamb. In between the extremists are the rest of us. We may leave to Paul the title of worst of sinners, and we well know that in our former life of sin we could not claim to be best at much of anything. Yet, Jesus opened the gate for all those who believed in Him. Along the way through the sheepfold training camp we gained some experience.

The experience we gain in this life is first-hand and invaluable. None of the trials and tests we endure in Christ are available to those in Heaven. Peter told us that angels look on us and strive to learn from us. After we graduate to live with Christ forever, our accumulation of testing experience will be done. Right now, here in this life, we are living those experiences that will never come again. And thank God for that! However, let us strive to learn all that we can as we endure with God's encouraging, strengthening, and loving hand these trials and tests in this life. The trials Jesus endured He only went through one time, and like our Lord we will have this one short life to gain that first-hand, invaluable experience. Will it all be dropped away and forgotten in Heaven?

I don't believe so. God will dry our tears and we will have no more pain, but I think what we could call "Earth stories" will be a valuable part of Heaven. Perhaps writers like me will have the honor of collecting and writing those stories for all to read in Heaven. Today, don't take your story for granted. Long may it stand in the archives of Heaven, that unique and invaluable story that only Jesus can write on the lives that are you and me.

God bless you all,

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Can't See, Not There

Good and thunderous Wednesday morning to you! We are sitting under a rumbler cloud this morning. Rain should be arriving just any moment now. As it happened, I left the curtain closed that shows the storm this morning. However, the fact that I cannot see the storm does not mean that it isn't there. The first clue may be the thunder, but the second is the sort of reverse dawn we are experiencing right now. As it gets darker this morning, I want to address - whoops, the streetlights just came back on - the unconfessed sin in my life. I don't have any. You see, all I have to do is turn my thoughts away from that dark place in me, and 'poof' no more unconfessed sin. I'm rather proud of that. Look at the good little me! ...Yeah, all my friends in Christ are ready to grab me and shout things like, "Fool!" or "Hypocrite!", and well they should.

Like a thunderstorm that I shut out the sight of with a closed curtain, sin lurks in us and we dare not turn our spiritual back to it. Can't see, not there does not work when God sees and you or I should see. Willful ignorance of our sins will not prevent them from paying out their dreadful wages. However, let us not forget who lives within us! The dirt and filth that lurks in our inner home is being dealt with by God's Holy Spirit. We are not alone in this fight. (We - alone, interesting pairing there.) Of course, I mean that each of us is not alone in our fight to clean up those dank, dark interior chambers of our inner house. The Spirit is powerful, quick, and indefatigable in this fight to clean you and me up from the inside out. Can't see, not there may be the carnal body's excuse, but the dear Holy Spirit does see and one day that lurking sin will not be there. Whoo, praise God for the rain!


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Power Issues

Okay, the weather gets hot and power issues come to the forefront. For one cause or another, a lack of electrical power hits hardest when the ol' AC doesn't work. Or, maybe it hits you hardest when the PC or the computer network is down. Perhaps it is worst for another when some animal eats the only growing pumpkin in the garden. Wait, that has nothing to do with electrical power, although I wouldn't mind lighting up the trespassing, pumpkin-munching blighter. It's a power issue. As in, when I sleep or go away to work, I have no power to stop the beast from eating my crops, whatever beast it was that committed this heinous crime. When we arrived for Bible study this morning, the power was out in the building. Without electricity supplied by the town, we had no power to turn on lights or energize the computers. In many a situation, you or I may enjoy a certain powerlessness, but God is never powerless.

As a child, you may have experienced an inequality in power. The bully could pick on you or knock you down, but the child you once were could in no way turn that around. The psalmist noted that wealth did not equally rest on one person or another. Prophets warned judges and rulers to not favor one person over another. Jesus told the disciples that rulers in this world would lord it over those less in power. When looking around at the world, we can see a lot of inequality in power of one type or another. However, strange as it may seem to our world-raised eyes, the ultimate power over all things loves you and me.

When we come to believe in Jesus, we also accept His sovereign Father's unmatchable power. Yet, there is that love and goodness. Well, praise God for that! How long would we last if the ultimate power in creation hated every one of us? Yes sir! Praise God for His love; that is a power I won't take issue with.


Monday, July 21, 2014

My Next Test May Be...

Good Monday morning! By this time in the Christian life, I have endured tests of boredom, anxiety, depression, health scares, (lack of) wealth scares, doctrinal debates within myself, losing brothers and sisters in Christ to parting, and many others. You no doubt can boast of a similar resume, though the line items may be different. What might that next test be? Well, it may be opposite to all those you or I have experienced up to now. Those with many children (a severe testing if ever there was one) may next experience that dreaded Empty Nest Syndrome. Those who have enjoyed the fruits of poverty may next be inundated with the temptation of Mammon. Those who have spent their lifetimes up to now in one small town may next be sent out into the wide world. We don't know what comes next in this world. God is charge of our testing and training, and He doesn't exactly publish a What's Next manual for each person.

I mean, we know the big picture from Revelation, Daniel, Isaiah, and many other prophets in the Bible, but for each individual Christian soldier, we don't get the exact training schedule for the next decade. In fact, all of us may be with Jesus within the next decade. One day, we may wake up to our graduation from training and fighting to a general call for all God's chosen ones to come home. It's a glorious possibility for even such a day as today! However, there is this temptation to say what is more likely right now and it must be fought off, for I really have no idea which is more likely for today. God's training schedule for me and you is His alone. If one of us is done today and going home, praise God! If all are to stay here and continue the discipleship, then praise God too! If all of us are to go home this day and be with Jesus in Paradise, then praise God forever!

Have a wonderful Monday in Christ Jesus!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Weed = Not Wanted

Good morning from the swampy garden, complete with the usual bugs, toads, tall plants, and sweating intruder (that would be me). The bugs seem to enjoy munching on the intruder, and of course making him pay for his hubris. I'm glad to see some of the tall plants and the toads. I could do without the swarms of little bugs and some of the other tall plants. There is no question of letting with weeds; I assure you they did not have my permission to grow so tall. The funny thing is that some of the 'weeds' are actually fruit-bearing plants. I do believe that I could plant nothing at all next year, water the garden well, and have a bumper crop of German blackberries with no effort on my part. They are even growing in the pumpkin patch. Yes, the one I planted on soil Mike stripped of the buffalo grass turf and I planted several feet away from the main garden. Weeds simply equals not wanted.

So, though you and I are fruit-bearing plants by God's work in us, there may well be gardens in this world where we are not wanted. Bring your good fruit of the Spirit to any of several establishments on this earth, and you may well be tossed out. There are indeed places where the Adversary holds strong and little Christian sheeps are unwelcome to bear our love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and self-control. Often it is the self-control part that is hated most in some places. "This ain't a park bench, bub, if you ain't gonna [gamble, drink, play, tip, play with, etc], then get out!" You may even have enjoyed a warm welcome there in former days, but now with Jesus shining in you, you're nuttin' but a weed to the powers of this world. Praise God for little sheeps that grow into fruit of the Spirit bearing weeds!

Have a great Saturday in Christ!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Once, Then a Bunch More

Good Friday morning! It is interesting to read in the news of scandals where one problem comes to light, and then it seems that every other day or so more bad things are exposed to the light. The past couple of weeks in our Bible study, we studied the David Scandal from way back in the day. You will recall that there was this bathing beauty first, and then another sin and another, and finally a whole bunch more. How often one problem in life leads to such a flood of further problems. Sins often have the same behavior. It seems unfair that if I pull out just one stone from the wall of righteous behavior, that the entire dam should come crashing down on top of me. Well, yes, those old time Bible stories aren't just for our entertainment, they are a warning to us.

In our youth, we were taught that one lie leads to a covering lie, and then another, and so on until disaster comes and the end of the world is ushered in by that one little lie. Sure, there may have been a bit of exaggeration from the parent folk there, but it isn't far from what happened to a lady called Eve. If our ultimate ancestors had known fully the flood of pain and death that followed that one little reaching out for the forbidden fruit... Yes, but the tempter is adept at hiding the consequences of sin. The Serpent told Eve, "You will become like God!" And the rest of the story is all of painful history up to now with a bit more to go called the Revelation.

It takes a mighty Savior to stop the flood after we have released it. Praise God that He sent one in Jesus our Lord!


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Grace Takes Over

Good morning! A little fall-like weather in the middle of summer makes a nice break. Yesterday, I promised the best indicator of Christian maturity - a dependence on grace alone. We like our records to be clean, or back in our unsaved days, we wanted our record to count for something in the way of salvation. We want our good deeds to outweigh our bad deeds and thus let us into Heaven. Of course, this runs up against Jesus saying that He was the one way to the Father. If there is another way, Jesus is a liar. If some set of scales can be tipped to our favor, then all that cross and resurrection stuff was unnecessary. Even going back to Noah's flood, was that of any use if those people still had a chance to balance or even overcome the negative weights on their record? On the other hand, what good does that scale illusion do us anyway? I mean, if we can't see the scales, how would we ever know that salvation was assured?

God gave us a better answer, the salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. The sign of maturity is in giving up ourselves to grace as opposed to depending upon some record of personal goodness. Good deeds done to save the self are selfish in nature anyway. We had no chance of making it to heaven on our record. Much better for us to learn to depend on grace alone. Paul looked at his record and threw it away as trash. Stephen didn't look to his record at trial, but looked to Jesus when convicted by a worldly court. Maturity by grace may come quite suddenly to us. God sometimes cooks the roast slowly and other times wants a quick doneness in the Christian. That allegory is going to a place that seems...uh, well if we are consumed in God's love then okay fine, bring it on! Amen.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Indicate Maturity, Please

Good cool morning in July! The complaint we hear often goes something like: "Men! Always wanting to date younger women." Yes, I believe that is often the case, and as a man I can only offer this defense: We are generally less mature than women of the same age and thus want to date ladies more in our level of maturity. This is, of course, not true in all cases. So, what are the indicators of the mature Christian? I don't know. I'm not there yet. Right, I don't get off that easily. The infant Christ-one on milk wants to know what he or she can look forward to. So does the adolescent Christian struggling with guilt-surfing and self-shaming. I believe those are the two sports the teen-years equivalent of the Christian plays most often. Still too self-centered, young Christian knows it in those days or years and cannot help but shame the self and feel that burn of guilt. What does it mean to grow past all that? What indicators should be present when Christ grows the Christian beyond the self?

Certainly we should observe the production of the fruits of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, etc. should be seen in the life. We should, as Paul tells in Philippians, be working to show the results of our salvation. Before rebirth, we wanted some religion that allowed us to work up to salvation. Realizing at last that it must be Christ and no imperfect, self-centered effort on our part, we received salvation as a gift. However, that is when we gained the work we desired, that of showing the results of Christ living in us. So, the mature Christian begins to live life moving from the inside to the outside. Work, for example, is not just about me or you for the self, but about serving others while we make a living. As we learn to love our neighbors as ourselves, so we serve others as we serve the self.

You might leap to serving at the table by this thought. That does make a good example. In mature love, we do not invite others to dinner and then abstain in a show of false holiness, we sit down and eat with our guests. How uncomfortable would you or I be if a host refused to eat with us after inviting us to dinner? Very, I should think. Jesus often ate with what the Pharisees considered the worst sorts of sinners. Did the Lord abstain because He was too holy? Well, the Bible says nothing about Jesus going off by himself to eat at every meal, for that is what He would have needed to do to avoid eating with sinners. No, Jesus fed himself too as He served others in love. When we get to the Revelation, Jesus promises to come in and dine with those who will open the door.

Hmm, might be following a trail too far here for one little devotional. I guess that there isn't some Christian maturity test that we pass and get a gold-star certificate of Christian maturity. What we do is grow into it with Christ leading us by the hand. It is unlikely that you or I will wake up one morning and say, "Today I am mature in Christ, yesterday I was not!" Just like in that indefinable time when we passed from teen-age immature youth to full-grown adulthood, we don't get an exact date, but a knowledge that Christ has growed us beyond that old stage. Growed? Am I inventing those words again?

The love of Christ to you on this day,

Tomorrow, perhaps the most solid indicator - moving from dependence on our record to the grace of Christ.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Rush Day?

Good morning! It's Tuesday, and that means going here, running there already, and of course running behind on the devotional. Wah! Ain't I a crier? Aww, the cat put a paw on my shoulder to comfort me, or maybe he wants some food and my ear seems a good place to sniff around for some. Hard to tell with a feline, but more likely the food one. We all seem to have days that start out in a hurry, and sometimes that day does not stop until nightfall or later. We rush and rush getting things done, going to meetings, and answering the phone, but then at the end of that day we have trouble remembering what we accomplished with all the rushing about. I suspect that when the cleansing fire comes, many of the things we rush about doing will be burned up as chaff. Not that we can get away from them, for the struggle to put food on the table and pay the bills doesn't just go away because you or I want it to. The question we may want to ask comes to mind: Is God further away from us on a day when we run about like the proverbial headless barnyard fowl? Of course He isn't!

How could the Spirit within you be further away? Has anyone tried putting our 'within' on a shelf and walking away from it? Didn't work, I'll bet. Jesus stated that He would be with us always. A rush day does not push out the Spirit. A busy morning does not nullify the promise of Jesus. God's Word was good, is good, and will always be perfect, holy, and steadfast. No worries mate! Be busy when you must, slow down when you can, and praise God all the way! If you've been too busy for as long as you can remember...well, that is a different problem. For today, schedule a time to get quiet with God for just a few minutes. Tomorrow we can try to make it longer, and maybe, dare we say it, crack open that Bible for a bit?

Have a great day in Christ!

Monday, July 14, 2014

One Little Light

Good morning on this fine Monday. Ew, ouch, it hurts to say fine and Monday together in the same greeting. One night, I looked across the street at the burned out hulk that was once a neighbor's home. As the night descended from the sky to the ground, I noticed a light. One little yard light survived the inferno, and across the street in front of the blackness of the destruction there shone that one little light. How remarkable! In the book of Isaiah, a promise is given that those living in darkness have seen a great light. Not will see, or might see, but have seen a great light. The light of Jesus shines in front of the darkness of destruction that is on the earth. And as that background is very dark, the light seems all the brighter to those who will see. Hard is the temptation on us to look at the darkness and tremble. However, we are far better when we look at the light of Jesus and rejoice!

How true it is that we too, as little Christ-ones in the great darkness shine for Jesus. We don't much like the times in life when everything appears to fall apart, death or illness visits, and darkness seems great and powerful. However, it is in those times that our light shines against the dark background and appears all the brighter. It is in the dark times that we hear Jesus saying, "Trust Me!" The clutter of busyness and the dreck of demands may fade when one almost overwhelming problem brings a focus to life. In that dark cave of a disaster, there we may see one light shining brighter. And to the world in its darkness that one light may look very like you or me, though we know that the light has only one source and He is Lord.


Friday, July 11, 2014

Yuk, I Feel Stuck!

Good morning on this rather sticky Friday. What a day to wade into combat in the garage. Just me and my trusty shovel versus the remains of dead bunnies. Tempting as it was to bop the perpetrator of this crime with my trusty shovel first, the cat is intact and unharmed. Phew! Nothing like a good humid and warm morning to bring out the bouquet of dead beast. I guess Snoopy and his bunny friends will remain on the comics page. My pet is certainly no friend of bunnies. I wonder about that temptation though. Does that make me like God? Was the Lord tempted when He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah? Was the saving of eight people a salve to the Lord's conscience for the Great Flood? Now I tread on dangerous ground.

Of course, I cannot judge the Lord and am certainly far from qualified to do so. We know from the Word that God is not tempted to sin as we are. Perfection does not have to justify itself to the fallen creation. My temptation to bop my pet a good one is related more to the sinners of Sodom and Gomorrah, and stands in contrast to the holiness and perfection of God. I cannot make God more like me by bad comparisons. In comparing myself to Him, I must and will fall utterly short. Religion is that same attempt by man to become God through a bad comparison and then a climb up an artificial ladder of achieved goodness.

When I think of the door standing open in Heaven that John saw, I often think of religion as man grabbing the tallest ladder he can find and attempting to prop its upper end on that door sill. As man attempts to climb the religion ladder through the various means, the ladder falls and the man ends up 'climbing' across the surface of the plain old earth. We cannot climb a ladder to Heaven, we must depend on the Good Shepherd to carry us there. Jesus can make us more like Himself. I, on the other hand must set aside the bad comparison and trust in my Lord's sanctification process. Praise God that He isn't like any of us, He is Himself.

Glory and praise to God our Father on this day,

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Nothing Worse Episode

Good Thursday morning! I don't know this morning how many of these I can come up with, but here goes the first one. There is nothing worse than a fool who installs permanent things. Of course, our definition of permanent is not quite up to God's view of permanence, but we are talking the lifetime of a house or a person kind of permanent here. Say the installer of your rain gutters, something designed or expected to be more or less permanent on the house, installs the downspouts so that water pools right beside the foundation. Eventually, that water will get into the basement through seepage first and flooding later. You may have examples of foolish installers in your own home. A furnace vent where people must walk on it is one that comes to mind. A drain that is bound to clog and cause problems because the path to the sewer is so convoluted that the flow is held up. How about a joint in water piping that is over the electrical service panel? Someday serious, even life-threatening, problems are likely.

Okay, number two - there is nothing worse than an architect with poor taste. Buildings that offend the eye are there pretty much forever (at least from our short view). People have to look at them every day going to work. Others may live with the awful view out their apartment window. Someday, some poor fellow may have to market and hope to sell the thing. It's much easier to sell a building that is aesthetically pleasing. Alright, let's get biblical.

What if God had sent a fool instead of Moses? Do you think the slaves of Israel in Egypt could have hoped for the Exodus? How much hope of salvation would we have if God had told the Son to stay put and sent a fool instead? For us, there would be nothing worse. Of course we know that God is not like that. Jesus didn't go through Galilee picking out fools for His disciples. And our Lord did not pick out fools when He chose you and me to be a part of His bride, the church. Any of us are capable of foolish decisions or moments, but we are not fools to believe in Christ. With respect to eternity, we can say there is nothing worse than refusing to believe in Christ and choosing instead to attempt salvation alone; it won't work that way.

We cannot rest on our achievements, but we can rest in Christ,

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

The Big Defeat

Ouch! That smarts. Some days it is clear on the morning after that the team would have been better off to not show up for the game. Yesterday, one of the World Cup semifinals ended in humiliating defeat for the home team. Nebraska fans have suffered similar defeats in the past, as have most any team with passionate fans. The big defeat hurts in a way we may not be able to explain. After all, I or you was not the one out on the field when the team lost so badly. Why do we tend to take such defeats so personally? Well, it may be that we are bigger than ourselves. We vicariously become members of the team. After that, we are on for the long ride, sometimes of victory and other times we suffer the big defeat. Some teams have never won the big championship game. Others are doomed to a kind of forever mediocrity, but all teams have their fans along for the journey. Some fans are proud of their faithfulness to the team. Other fans are only there when the team does well. Then we have that other sort of team, you know, the one you are on now.

The season is not over, yet the team owner said that he won the championship. Eh? Yes, we read the verse not very long ago, John 16:33. Jesus said, "...Be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world." Does the world look overcome to you and me? No, not when such terrible defeats come to us in this life. We pray for the company to do well, and it fails into bankruptcy. We pray for the young couple to have a long and happy marriage, and it falls apart in a bitter divorce. We thank God for the good job we have held for years, and then the company gives us the boot. We may watch a beloved parent fall into terrible illness from which he or she does not recover. Young men and women are lost to us in accidents, wars, or sometimes for seemingly no reason at all. Yet, Jesus said that He had overcome the world. How is this possible? What does our Lord see that we do not? Like maybe eternity, perhaps? However, Jesus did not say that He would overcome, He said, "I have overcome".

I wonder, maybe those things we see as defeats are in fact carefully managed trials like God did with Job. It may very well be that we are wrong when we think of some event or season as a loss, when in fact it was a mere training exercise for eternity with Christ.

Have a better day with Jesus,

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

This Life and Unwise Choices

Happy Tuesday morning to you! I got a lesson in this life this morning when I found the partial carcasses of two baby bunnies in my garage. Oddly, I was out there to feed the cat that had already fed herself. Saturday, while mowing the buffalo grass in the south 40, I saw four baby bunnies come out of the cat patch. Ah, no more mowing near there, I didn't want to frighten them away from their shelter. Perhaps it would have been better for them if I had. I suppose there are now 2 baby bunnies in the cat patch, if they even remain alive. Of course there is a reason I call that tall grass the cat patch, the predator likes to sit out there in the summer hiding among the tall grass. Seems kind of unwise of the mother bunny to have her litter right there. But, predation of the young and helpless sums up this life rather well.

Predators do not pass up an easy meal in this world. Babies of all kinds must be defended or hidden to survive. Only humans can choose not to disturb the baby bunnies. The predator, no matter how well fed, must act according to her nature. In fact, the consumption of two little bunnies in no way reduced her noise at feeding time the past two mornings. This brings up the rebirth in Christ of those in this world. We too must be defended by a higher power or the world and its powers will consume us. We must be hidden in the rock of our salvation or face the fall. Just reborn Christians are much like baby bunnies turned loose in this world. Sadly, until a fall or two comes along, we often feel like we were reborn as Super Christ-one, impervious to sin or temptation, able to leap doctrinal difficulties with ease, and immune to the stinging arrows of the enemy. After a few unwise choices and the terrors of this life, we begin to learn that sanctification is a long road on which we need the strong defense of our Lord and Savior.

Have faith, Jesus is coming!

Monday, July 07, 2014

All of This is For Something, What Did I Learn?

Good Monday morning! Last week, I learned that 5 years is about the expected lifespan for hot water heaters in our little town. That and the date of this most recent installation will go into the ol' memory bank. The tribulations of this world are for something, and the question we most often ask is, "What did I learn from this?" The most obvious lesson is that life in a fallen world really stinks at times. We might also learn that the devices made by man tend to breakdown over time and usage. These are the easy ones to learn. What do we learn about God's goodness in the midst of trials? Do we see the development in us of the gifts of the Holy Spirit? Do we note the growth of faith here in the heart of the troubled Christ-one? If we do not see the change over time coming out of these trials, we may as well be like the unbelievers bemoaning their circumstance. Lessons are tough here in the boot camp to eternity, but it could get a lot tougher if God didn't love us as He does.

Now, what do we not try to learn from the lesson of a tribulation? Eh? What do you mean by trying not to learn something? How about that thing we anxious folk tend to fall into: anxious rumination. That is the pattern of thinking over the bad things that did happen repeatedly, or bad things that could have happened but didn't, or all those other anxious thoughts that swirl in the mind endlessly. We don't want to learn to do that. When the tribulation ends, let it end. As our Lord begins the healing and growing, let His good work in us flourish without the anxious rumination. Do we tense up during the time of resting, anticipating that next trial? Don't learn to do that neither! Yes, there are things we don't want to learn from a trial of our faith.

Well, a new week has come, and I do believe I see my first pumpkin blossom out there. A reminder from God that life after the tribulation grows and blooms. God bless and keep you this week!


Saturday, July 05, 2014

To Be Found In Christ

Good morning, and I hope your holiday weekend celebration continues. Before the time of Christ or after, those who believe long to be found in Christ. We were born in sin, we became reborn in Christ. We ask, seek, and knock, but the work of being found in Christ belongs to His Holy Spirit. Before rebirth, we had no chance of being found in Christ, for then we had no idea what it meant. Nicodemus struggled with the concept, asking how he could crawl back into his mother's womb. Truly, if we grew backward to baby size, and then were reborn of the flesh it would do us no good. To be found in Christ, we need a rebirth of the Spirit.

Like Nicodemus and many others before us, I have no idea how to be reborn of the Spirit. That is Christ's work in us, and I cannot explain or grasp the method or the means. I can say odd things like, "I need to grab the Spirit and enter into my prayer closet," but physically, I can no more grab God's Spirit than I can grasp outer space. What we have is faith, the evidence of things hoped for and the substance of things not seen. To be found in Christ is to be reborn to faith in Christ. I cannot save myself; I know through faith that Christ has saved me. The things of the Spirit I cannot hold in my hands, but faith reminds me that God holds me in His mighty hands. We believe in Christ, and we are found in Christ.

Have a godly day!

Thursday, July 03, 2014

More Signs or Not?

Good morning on this day before the holiday! Ah, the smell of wet carpet begins to waft upstairs. Wars and rumors of wars abound in the world. The United States, Russia, and Iran agree on something? That must be a sign of the end times. We have a new caliphate, or a restored caliphate, or something that may not last long but shows how some folks feel. Earthquakes don't seem to make the news as often, but only because we are so accustomed to reading about them. So, yes, there are more signs of the end in the news, but no, it does not necessarily mean that we should drop everything and look to the skies just yet. Life goes on as it has since Paul's time when he wrote one of his churches and told them to get back to work.

As the struggle of tribulation grabs us for one more round, we may tend to look heavenward and think of how the present is a good time for Christ's return. For hundreds of years people in Israel and Judah did the same in their search for the promised Messiah. They thought, just as we might think, that all would be set right and they could just walk away from that cleanup awaiting them down below. Nope to getting out of that cleanup job; we may see the Lord coming tonight, or we may be celebrating the holiday weekend with some tough, nasty work. Whether the signs of the times are the signs of the end has everything to do with the Father turning to the Son and saying, "Now is the time!" We don't get to call it, but we are to watch for it. While we wait and watch, God gives us things to do.

Have a great Independence Day weekend!

Wednesday, July 02, 2014


Good Wednesday morning! Appearances may be deceiving, but it seems that for some the Independence Day weekend has begun. At least, that is what I gather from the loud party at 0130 this morning. The little events in life often make for some good stories when future context allows. They also cause some spiffy devotional titles. Life sometimes inundates us with problems. I think one of the mission points given to all little devils at their first Hell Inc meeting is to make sure that all Christian testimony is buried under a deluge of bad news. We have this wonderful Good News, and we also have the normal good news. However, times in life come when we are inundated by problems both large and small. So much it seems, that it becomes difficult for us to remember both kinds of good news.

We meet with friends and our testimony becomes a listing of the various trials and tribulations. In John 16:33, we have one job only. "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." In our Lord's words, He gives us but one duty in this verse: be of good cheer. The ESV translates the Greek as "take heart". I like that one too. In all the tribulation we face with Jesus, we are told to take heart. Ruck up that courage, seek out your Christian friends and build each other up, take up the Word and be comforted, we have a life to live and a message to give. The world will seek to overwhelm and conquer our testimony. Jesus is here to encourage our voice of joy.

Need help with that? A bit earlier in that same chapter (v. 24) Jesus says: "Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full." I want to have full joy, and I'm sure you wouldn't say no to it either. Let us stand in Christ and not let the world overwhelm our words of joy.


Tuesday, July 01, 2014


Good morning! I've been up for a while now, so I'm quite well awakened. For the second time in my adult life, a water heater has spewed its guts across my floor. Fortunately, the guts of a water heater are made of water. Kind of fits in a weird sort of way. The service call is in to the gas company, and hopefully a new one will be in later today. Praise the Lord, I was also home this time and I can clean up before there is an inch or two of lovely mold growth gracing the floors and walls, which is not really the going thing in apartment decor (I was a renter in an apartment during the last water heater deluge and out of town when it gave out.) However, all that be as it may, for a bit of perspective, I have but to gaze across the street at a real disaster. With that perspective, this is nothing. A bit of a pain, an irritation, a chance to wash some carpet in the basement, uh, I can't think of what else it is, but it isn't a disaster. Oh, it was a rude awakening too.

These things happen in this life. This is not some particular affliction reserved only for me. God did not leave His throne for a moment to take a break from watching over me. This is not a sign of some impending doom or a punishment for sinning against a water heater. (If there is a way to do that last, I don't really want to know what it is.) God loves me and God loves you, and that is that! Did all of these thoughts immediately occur to me at 0330 when I realized what had happened? Well, no, I must admit that handsprings of joy were not my initial reaction. I'll have to get to that later. God will restore my joy. I may need to wait for the new Heaven and the new Earth to perform handsprings. I'm pretty sure that I have never done a real handspring in my entire earthly life.

Have a better day in Christ!