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!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

We Don't Really Know

Good morning! It appears to be raining a bit this morning, little showers every now and then. Lately, you may have asked, "What happened to autumn?" The days have been almost late summer-like a month into the new season. This October has not been much like the traditional month we know from of old. Rain is welcome today as we seem to have gone a long time without any. But, it seems that no one will be living here by 2060 anyway. A few robot tractors rumbling about the place and a couple of drones overflying the cattle herds will be all the activity we can expect. Trains and trucks will fly by above the transport routes, and once a month a drone will drop off my food supply from Amazon. I'll be nearly a hundred by then, and probably the last remaining weird old man in Julesburg. Nah, we don't really know what will happen by then.

Trends come and go, trends reverse and flow the other way. Solomon reminded us that everything comes around again; only he said it way better than I just did. The prince of this world may want everyone to move to the cities to make it easier for his Antichrist, but that is just speculation on my part. Is God moving everyone closer together and the Front Range of Colorado is one of the Rapture points? Again, we don't really know what is moving people here and there. The time of the end may be later this year or not until 2114. We are given today; we can see some of the past, but none of the future. What will the landscape and population distribution be like in 2060? We don't really know.

Praise God for Jesus Christ His Son. That our Lord Jesus will return again, we do know. That today looks different than yesterday, we do know. Perhaps the world will have its way with small, rural communities, and one day they will be extinct. But that is only a maybe. What we do know is that God loves us right where we are today.

Have a good one of those today thingies!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Hungry For The Word

It's Tuesday, and that means I'm hungry! Wait, every morning at this time I seem to be hungry. Do you suppose there is something to that breakfast thing? Yay, I get to start the devotional with asking dumb questions. I'm also sleepy from getting up early and there appears to be a cheap pen on my desk encouraging me to vote for someone. Life can be so normal on some mornings. I think that I hunger for the Word of God partly because it is so different from other written works. What other book says that the main character sends His Son to save the reader? Usually, there is another character in some manner of distress. The Bible says that is us; I mean, those of us reading the text. How strange!

The Bible also makes promises about the future that are fantastical and fantastic, and yet also come true. Not predictions that only involve the cast of the book, but predictions that tell us world events. Above all the Bible says that this perfect being, a higher power than any other, loves the readers. How can this Word know that I am even loveable? The Bible says that The Word, Jesus our Lord, knows all things, and that His Father loved the world so much that He sent His Son to save it. All I must do is believe in this Son, and I am saved? Of course the journey of faith is difficult and filled with snares for us, but yes, that is basically it in a nutshell: For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. I love this Word. I'm hungry for more!

Have a great day in Christ!

Monday, October 20, 2014

I Lost, But Jesus Won

Good Monday morning! In the battle of life, I lost. This is not a reference to a circumstance, but a surrender of my free will. In my former life, I wanted to grow up to be a powerful wolf: predatory, strong, fast, and in charge of my life. Jesus came looking for a sheep: weak, witless, lost, and in need of guidance. Jesus could see His sheep, but the sheep was busy pretending to be all those things wolfish. The 'wolf' had to lose a few battles in this life before he realized the a sheep was his rebirth and the sheep belonged to the Shepherd. Without that rebirth in Christ, I might have grown up like many: predatory, self-serving, seeking only my own way, and walking boldly down the road to eternal destruction.

That carnal wolf is not entirely gone from my life, of course. He still fights with me each and every day. It is like the life in this world; Jesus has overcome the world, but it still appears lost. The victory of Christ was won on the cross, but the Devil still performs his evil work. We endure in that long period between the guilty verdict and the sentencing of the criminal to his banishment. Sin, the Accuser, and the carnal wolf-man are not yet banished and so we suffer much. Yet, Jesus is the victor; faith assures us of this.

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen." So the writer of Hebrews reminded us many years ago in verse 11:1. Progress in faith may at times be difficult to see, but it is there in us. One day, the complete victory of Christ over His enemies will grant us the victory too. Keep on believin', Jesus is coming again!


Friday, October 17, 2014

A Short Trip Back to the Day

Good morning on yet another Friday! We are not to live in the past, but in the present. However, a short trip back to the day can be instructive. Each of us probably has some time period, hopefully just a little slice, in his or her life that an observer thinking back to that day might insert a rather less than complimentary term in the description. As in, "Boy, I remember back when you were a..." Insert the term of your choice, and then remember that Jesus has made you different now. We each have this in our past, that we were not always the ideal of Christ-like behavior. Okay, we might as well say it as Paul did, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Rom 3:23)

Forced to agree with that observation of our past behavior, we might try to soften the blow with something like, "Well, I wasn't that way all the time!" Probably true, but not likely to save us against the judgment bar of the law of Moses or even public opinion. The good thing is that in Christ we learn and grow as His Spirit cleanses us from within. We can be glad to grow out of the selfishness of the teen years. We survived the carelessness and scheming of the twenties. Then, we somehow made it to the thirties, and the forties, and the fifties, and... Whoa there! Maybe we don't need to go back too far!

If you or I could see the changes from God's view, we might realize that even last week this life was just a bit more sinful than this week. We didn't care quite so much as we do now. We didn't love quite so well as in this moment. Each day, perhaps each moment, you and me grow closer to Christ and closer to each other. The love and joy of Jesus Christ to you on this Friday!


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Blowing Against the Wind

The weather front will arrive, we promise. Of course, my promises regarding weather are completely useless. I have no control over the weather. If the wind blows, I can blow against it for all I'm worth and accomplish nothing, except to look more than a bit silly. When the Holy Spirit came in Acts like a mighty rushing wind, I wonder; did anyone try to blow against it? For sure the religious and political leaders of the time in Jerusalem did try to blow for all they were worth. It is interesting that in stoning Stephen, they had a hand in producing Paul, who would go on to be perhaps the greatest evangelist ever. We can see that blowing against the mighty rushing wind produced results quite the opposite of what the little puffers intended.

What about us though? We didn't blow against the Holy Spirit, but believed in Jesus and asked Him in to the heart. The wind of the Spirit arrives to cleanse us from the inside. Oh yes, we do blow against that wind occasionally; trying with all our little might to hold onto some cherished sin from the past. In time our resistance to the Spirit will crumble and the carnal man will lose that fight. All will be made ready for the Lord and His return. So, puff away carnal desire until you are worn out and give in to the cleansing wind of God's Holy Spirit. We know that Jesus has overcome the world, both the larger force that vexes so from the outside and the little carnal force that attacks from inside of us. One day the mighty rushing wind will blow all sin right into the lake of fire. What a glorious day we will see!

Enjoy the day in Christ Jesus!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Be Still

Good morning! A famous verse, a tough command to follow. "Be still, and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10) Yet, that is the same command that Jesus gave to the Sea of Galilee when it rose up in storm one night. "Peace, be still." and the lake knew that He was God. It is tough to follow in this age. We tend to 'know' that our Lord is God as we rush from one thing to another and another. Is it really possible to know God with all that rushing about? But, I am not here to rake you over the coals for a hectic life. You may very well have tried to avoid just such a thing. What we need is some heavenly help with being still for a time.

We want to know God more. That is a fruit the Spirit produces in us. I cannot believe that the Spirit would produce the desire to know God more without enabling a way. A way? Who does that remind me of? Ah yes, a man told a group of his followers once that he was the way, the truth, and the life. He also mentioned a destination that is right in line with who we desire to know better. Want to know the Father better? The Son is the way. Want to know the truth of God? Jesus is that truth. Want to be still? We have some wonderful heavenly help for that.

For a big finish, I had a big sneeze attack. I think my brain cells are all scattered about now. Enjoy the day in Christ; ask Him for a bit of time to be still.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What Peter Said

Frosty! Yes, this morning shows that autumn has something to say. The walnut trees may well shed their leaves today. So...why should we be surprised that a certain Galilean fisherman had something to say? If we had the place of Jesus in one thing, the choosing of a team of disciples for example, we might stand outside the University of Pharisee on graduation day and seek out the twelve top graduates. These would know the Hebrew scriptures better than any. They would not have the years of politics to taint them from their elders yet. And, they would have those years of disciplined learning and eagerness to start of the new college graduate. Yet, Jesus began with fishermen and took particular interest in three of them. If Peter even had the chance to apply to ol' Pharisee U., he was likely turned down right away. "Pssh, Galilean fishermen! Send 'em back to the boats."

Fast forward a few short years. Jesus has died and rose again and ascended to Heaven. Peter starts speaking. First the world accuses him of knocking back a few drinks early in the morning. Then, Peter and his mates probably received a free mental health evaluation and diagnosis. No, we're not crazy, Peter assured them. This fisherman from Galilee then begins a series of lectures and writings about Jesus the Christ that are breathtaking in depth and scope. We might ask, as the scribes and Pharisees did, where did these fisher persons (political correctness began early) learn all this stuff? Of course, we know that for more than 3 years they walked with the Word himself. Peter had something wise, deep, and thoughtful to say because he graduated from the school of Jesus.

Have a great and educational day in Christ!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Pick Up The Tools In Faith

Good morning! You know, I just had nothing this morning. Whether the brain cells were not functioning or the ideas took off on holiday, I cannot tell. However, sometimes picking up the tools in faith literally means to pick up tools. A little work is required to start the day. Not work such as sitting at the desk and waiting for the phone to ring, which it seems to have done while I was out working, but the application of sweat and effort. I got the tires aired up on the truck. Of course they were not down so much as fear made them look. I know intellectually that radial tires do not show air pressure like the old rubber sidewalls did, but my mind still wants me to believe that I can tell by sight. One was down 4 psi, but that wasn't even the one I thought was down, and I doubt very much that I can tell 4 psi (out of 60) by looking anyway. The cat now believes that she is neglected because I got out the compressor, hooked up the hose, charged the thing, and then paid careful attention to four truck tires that give me no kitty-loving in return. She has a point, but I'm still not petting truck tires.

God gives us tools. We have man-made tools that we hold and use, we have talents, we have time, energy, will, and the tools of the Spirit. Paul called them gifts, but what we have are tools of love, courage, gentleness, self-control, gratitude, and of course, faith. We use the tools of the Spirit to worship God, cast out fear, overcome the carnal temptations, and to go forth into spiritual battle. In all things we pick up the tools in faith. Love is greater, but faith is necessary. We are saved by faith, and we do our work in faith. If love causes us to want to, then faith gives us the ability to get started and keep on it. Phewwee! It gets warm here in the sun. I need to finish up and move on away. Yes, I have faith the heat won't follow me.

May God bless you on this day,

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Meeting of the Board of Directors For the Benefit of George Christian

The town knew George Christian. Most of us grew up with him, enduring the many hours of school and the temporary agonies of our teenage years. Those of us who returned to the town after college, found George at work in his father's shop making a living for his new family. A fairly normal story all around. The town took up the work of family starting with enthusiasm right along with George Christian. Oh, wait, George didn't have that name back then. His last name was Smith or Physokely or some such. The reason, or at least the starter, for George becoming a Christian arrived in town a few years later.

The local church took in a new pastor, and a particularly effective one he turned out to be too. George was not the only one to become a Christian, many of us had that same experience. Families accustomed to the football game at 11:00 on a Sunday now sat in church. We learned and grew. The effective pastor in time turned to what he called 'meat' in his sermons. We thought the preaching just as good as before. For some reason though, we turned to George Christian and took a good look at him. I don't know what started it; perhaps it was that George didn't look back at us in the same way.

You see, George did not give up some of his old habits. He smoked, and everyone knew that was bad for the body. George had a few other unsavory habits of old that we decided to catalog and address at a meeting. Not a formal meeting mind you, just a sort of gathering to discuss for their benefit anyone not present in our little group. As George worked long hours in his shop, the father having passed away and left the shop to George, a once quite common tradition that had somehow been lost over the years, we usually found the gathering discussing that man. We had, it seemed, become The Meeting of the Board of Directors For the Benefit of George Christian. At once we voted 6-0 for the abstaining of smoking. No one worth the name of Christian should be caught in such a terrible habit. Besides, wasn't it illegal in most places now? His wife was just a darling, if perhaps too busy to join us in our meeting what with home schooling George's kids and all, but weren't they just such polite young children? We voted 0-6 to leave the wife and kids out of the discussion from now on. George also had a bit of a persistent cough, and his weight could use a bit of work. We voted 6-1 to address these awful things as soon as possible, perhaps in a passing conversation whenever the next one of us visited his shop, or maybe the tried and true grapevine we used to get messages around the town. Wait, where did that one vote come from?

We looked around the room, but only the usual six, our mixed bag of men and women of the old school, looked back at each other. We laughed at the audacity of someone sneaking in a vote to our little group, and took a good look at George's house and car. Suddenly, a man appeared in the room with us, almost causing Margaret to spill her tea on that new dress. The man introduced himself as Nathan and said that he joined the meeting as owner's representative. We looked around at each other. Owner? Owner of what? George, of course, he said as though we should know that without him telling us. Wait, how could anyone own a George? George, he explained, made a contract years ago that included all of him. The owner did not like judgments made against his property without representation, and he certainly couldn't recall appointing a board of directors, informal or otherwise. The owner did, however, have a gift for each of us. The man, Nathan, handed out small squares of glass that he said would help us to see.

I was completely baffled, I can tell you. Mine showed a sort of wood grain across the middle. I could just see a little bit of clear space at the very top and bottom. I couldn't tell what the others could see, for now I couldn't seem to see past that little mirror. I asked Nathan if the owner could help me with this one, for I didn't seem to be able to see anything. Sure, was the cheerful reply as the man tapped my mirror. Oh, the horror of Dr. Frankenstein as he beheld the man made in his own image. Halloween come early, an image shrouded in darkness but all too clear in its evil intent. How could I, a pauper in the presence of my Savior, judge others for simple bad habits or earthly appearance? Who was I to judge the works of the Owner, even that One who also owned me?

Nathan had one final message for us, one which we could hardly bear: George had been called home as we met. The dust from his grindstone had finally overcome his body. A fine, small group Nathan called us, one that could do much to ease the suffering of a certain widow and her two home schooled children. Yes, we could do that. No vote needed.

God bless you on this fine day, Bucky

Friday, October 10, 2014

Was He Not Ashamed?

Good Friday morning! The date makes me feel a ten-ten today. And I have no idea what that is supposed to mean. This morning as I walked I thought of Jesus, the Son of God, and how the soldiers volunteered a man from the crowd to help Him carry the cross. In that moment, Jesus proved that He suffered fully as a human. He didn't exercise His godly power to make the burden any easier. He didn't call down some pain medication from Heaven's pharmacy, or bring down those 12 legions of angels to scatter the mockers. Choosing to suffer as only a human, our Lord did not make Himself less than God. He was meek to His Father's command. By His forbearance, He was gentle to those who harmed His body and mocked His apparent lack of God-sized action. Why did Jesus choose to suffer this way?

I believe that we seek that very answer in our suffering, and the answer is the same - a larger purpose and a bigger prize. Jesus walked underneath the cross to save the world, that's us. We are His bigger prize and His higher purpose. Was He not ashamed as the man, Simon of Cyrene, was called forth to help? (Mattt 27:32) Surely the Accuser was there to tell our Lord that He should be ashamed to have a mere human helping out. That method of shaming and self-pity mongering has not changed even today. Yet, Jesus bore the burden of His humanity just as He bore the affliction of our sins. Jesus did not suffer the cross from a perverse nature, for that belongs to us fallen sinners. Jesus did not cry out like David because He was God, but because He was one of us, suffering the wages of sin and death.

Wait, we say, I have never cried out that the Lord has forsaken me. Oh? Is not asking the Lord why He didn't provide this thing when we thought we needed it at that exact time, asking that very thing? When we expect a miracle and don't see one provided, do we not ask God in different words why He has forsaken us? Do we dare for a moment think that God in His great love would not rush to our aid with all that great and matchless resource that belongs to our God? Unless, there is a higher purpose that only God can see, and we do not yet have the vision and wisdom to see it too. However, there is also an end to suffering.

God's purpose is achieved, His justice satisfied, and His glory revealed in the due time. Jesus died, the suffering of His body ended when God's justice was satisfied. Our suffering will end when God's higher purpose is achieved. We like our Lord Jesus will not suffer forever. God has not forsaken us, the time will come when we too will be called up and taken home. We have no need for any shame, for our suffering has its better purpose. It is difficult to bear, and we may need help from other mere humans.

Jesus looked down from the cross and told the Father to forgive, not because He was one of us but because He is God. In that moment, Jesus probably looked like the weakest being in all creation. No way He held the authority to grant anything from that cross with a body nearly spent and all power dying out. But, He said it, and that, my friends, was the God-sized action that they missed back in the day. Dying on the cross, He forgave. Rising from the grave, He lives!


Thursday, October 09, 2014

Am I The Worst of the Worst?

Good morning! Jesus saved Peter, but I denied our Lord four times. Jesus turned Paul's life in a new direction, but I could never be turned. When the stoning came, Stephen prayed for their forgiveness; I told the Lord to blast 'em. Of course none of that is true. But we must admit that at times we think that somehow Jesus is not quite mighty enough to save us, and that amounts to the same thing. We might ask, "Am I the worst of the worst?" Pride tries to sneak in the backdoor and say that the sin in us is too much for Jesus to forgive and save us from. Our argument goes: some of those old sinful thoughts remain, therefore, I must be beyond salvation or something like that. No, no, no! Verily, Jesus would say unto each of us, "My sacrifice covers you and all of your sins."

You and I may be great at sinning, but no sum total of our sins is beyond the saving grace of our Lord Jesus. The sins of our past may be as rotten as a landfill, but Jesus is mighty to save. We may look in the mirror of the mind and say that we are not lovable, but Jesus says emphatically, "I love you!" The cross proved the love of God beyond any sin. The resurrection proved our salvation for all eternity. The return of Jesus is near, and that is for sealing His victory over all sin by bringing us home to present us to the Father.

No, no matter what the Devil, his minions, or the carnal part of us says about how bad our sin is, you are not the worst of the worst and neither am I. Praise God for the saving blood and grace of our Lord Jesus.

Bucky, your friend in Christ

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Fanged Resources

Good morning on this beautiful and rather dark morning. I have plenty of time to write as it is still dark. Oops, can't count on that measure anymore. Seems like just a few days ago that getting up before the dawn meant lots of time; now it means I could be late. Strange title this morning; where did that come from? I'm talking things we think we are glad to have that might have a little bite to them. That new house appeared perfect for the family needs when we looked at it. After the closing, something comes up that is a long way from perfection. The business has gone so well, but now a new piece of machinery is required and after it shoves its way into the budget there will be no profit this year. You bought a new car a couple of years ago, but just now found out that the replacement tires require a rubber that only comes from a small plantation in a country that just erupted in civil war. The cost of new tires suddenly becomes about half the price of the car. We nod along, remembering experiences similar to these.

But, this is all melodrama. We deal with these sorts of things so often that we have a raft of stories to tell. There is nothing fanged or biting about the situations, we live them as a part of life in a fallen world. The only perfection is in God our Father. The only problem is in expecting a human-made thing to be perfect. We know that in a new home we get the best we can afford and give our gratitude to God. If we want perfection, we look to Christ Jesus learning all we can in our imperfect state about the perfect and sinless One. Cars will break down or require expensive replacement parts to prevent them from breaking down. There is no surprise in this, no fangs, no biting. Life in a fallen world is, well, fallen.

Therefore, be grateful to God today, for you and I have endured and won over a great many fallen things in this world. In Christ, we have triumphed in many a battle, both large and small. Who do we pity? Those who try to endure this world without Christ Jesus in their lives. Amen.

Have a great new day in Christ!

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Movin' On

Good morning as the dew point kinda sorta happened between my drive to the Bible study and the drive home. Dry windshield at 6:10, wet at 7:10, how do these things happen? Well, movin' on. Some things are no longer worth the time to chronicle. A day from the past reaches out to grab me, but let us move on to better things. The doors to fix my truck heater have arrived, but now the real work begins. It seems that I am about to learn more about what goes on behind my truck's dash than I really want to know. That space back there is much like the engine compartment. Do steel pistons bang up and down in the cylinders from exploding fuel air mixture and sparks, or is it little bitty trolls jumping up and down on the crankshaft? Does it matter? No, the truck goes and all else is what we pay mechanics to fix. I will assume there is good reason for naming those folks mechanics and not troll doctors.

When a past event reaches out to grab us, we must move on. That is not to say that it will be easy. Anniversaries of the negative type are recognized in mental health science as well as by the patients. The key is in thanking God for what we have now, and not what we lost then. Consequences of the past try to beat us down. We must gather up our faith in Christ and move on. Jesus warned us, "In this world you will have tribulations." Oh, Bubba, do we ever! But the Lord also gave us some good news with that: "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

The forces at work in the world are too big for you and me, but our Lord has overcome!


Monday, October 06, 2014

That's the Story Too

Good morning! If it weren't dark outside, I might be able to mention something about the autumn leaves. I guess that is the story of autumn too, dark mornings and shorter evenings. Night belongs to the story of life as much as day, though we sleep through much of it. Knowing when to relax and take a break belongs to the story of work as much as the moments of all-out effort. You and me belong to the story of Jesus as much as Mary and Joseph. We belong to the story of the apostles as much as John and Peter. Jesus came to save the people of His time and He came to save the people of our time. All of it is a part of His story.

That afternoon on the cross when Jesus said, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do," we too were there receiving that forgiveness. When Jesus gathered a few around and gave the Great Commission, that was for us too. When Paul wrote about those who would not sleep but be snatched up in a moment, the blink of an eye, he spoke of you and me as much as those back in the day. Time appears to separate us by centuries, yet I'm not sure that God see it that way. 3,000 years may seem long to you and me, with David a part of a distant, almost unimaginable past. Yet, his psalms and story still educate and enlighten us about God our Father. For that too is the story. God connects us across all those years. Jesus saved Moses, and David, and John, and Paul, and many people in between 95 AD and 1995 AD and me, and you, and babies not yet born, and all who believe in Him.

I think that when we meet one of the ancient saints in Heaven, it won't be as one speaking the Hebrew of old and one speaking the American vernacular of now. While we may spend time telling King David about IPads and Google and cars and such, we will understand each other through the connection of Christ and the cross. And, with the thought of your great connection of the story of Christ, go on to work this morning!


Friday, October 03, 2014

Temptation: Resistance is Not Futile

Good morning on this windy and cold Friday morning! Fox News: "Man allegedly shoots down neighbor's drone with shotgun." I'm trying to write a devotional about successful resistance to temptation, and I start out with an example like that. Whatever is wrong with me? Depending on the circumstance, say the drone is obviously armed with a hi-def camera and is hovering outside your windows, resistance may indeed be futile. Not good enough for you? What if the teenage daughter is out back sunbathing and the drone is hovering over her? Yes, one shotgun probably isn't enough. A battery of them will do nicely in that circumstance. Maybe some friends from the trap club along with some hounds to track the owner's scent off the soon-to-be-demolished large flying mechanical insect. Neither of these hypothetical circumstances fit what happened out in New Jersey, but the drone age is coming and there will be some problems.

The temptation age began almost before man and woman could enjoy a quiet afternoon together. Since then, we haven't done much better than Eve at resisting temptation. We have a sacred duty to resist, but we need such help in making a successful fight. We are not alone, and resistance is not futile. Jesus gave the great commission at the end of Matthew, and He said one very comforting thing: "...and, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Through His Holy Spirit, we can make a fight of it and resist that temptation. Jesus did it, and we can too...with His most excellent help.

Enjoy the cold of autumn this morning!

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Not My Idea of Heaven

Good morning on this Thursday! I've said it twice, therefore it must be true. Today is Thursday. So, why then was there a moment of doubt? Those slippery days! I hope I can get ahold of them better in Heaven. Hmm, maybe and maybe not. We like to spend a lot of time imagining what Heaven will be like. Most of our ideas of Heaven are some cure for what is going on here in this life, or some extension of this life. The extension part is when we think that there will always be plenty of our favorite chocolate in Heaven or perhaps we'll have two puppies in place of one and they'll be puppies forever. We would most likely be saddened to receive the news that there will be no puppies or chocolate in Heaven. I don't know that, but such a thing is possible. Many are left wondering by the words of Jesus when He said that there would be no marriage in Heaven. Could it be that much of what we consider, sorry for the pun, heavenly here, will not be in Heaven at all? Maybe and then again, maybe not.

You see I have a basic problem with my idea of Heaven, it's my idea of Heaven. What I will enter on that great day is not my idea of Heaven, but God's idea of Heaven. And, the Bible addresses that too. Paul wrote: But as it is written:
​ ​​“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, ​​Nor have entered into the heart of man ​​The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

Quoting Isaiah 64:4, Paul let us know that all those things we think of Heaven are likely to be short of the reality. Stuck here, mired here, or assigned here as an ambassador, whichever you feel at the moment, we have very earthly ideas of the place God has prepared for us. While at the same time, God has very godly and heavenly ideas about what is best for us in His Heaven. I shall be very interested to see what God has prepared for us, because I love Him.

Take a bit of time this day to think of the very best Heaven you can, and then realize that what God has prepared is far better.


Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Denied Something

Good morning on this great day in Christ! Something you want, even so much as to pray for many times, is denied you. It has happened to me, and we can tell each other that denial of that sort is not much fun. It may be that the thing is bad for you and me, and God has said an almighty 'No!' It may be that the world has priced this thing beyond our reach financially. Even the very rich don't get everything they want. Perhaps we do have the means, but at the big auction we find a fellow who will pay so much more that we find we don't want the thing quite so much as we thought. I had that happen a few times back in the day. I guess the point is that having a want denied does not mean the end of life, nor does it mean that God has stopped looking out for us.

Wants are so very subjective. What I want today may seem much less immediate and desirable tomorrow. What you simply must have this morning may not even break into your thinking this evening. Wants are one of those worldly guides that we cannot trust. Wah, someone emptied my coffee cup; I want some more! Well, that is a very minor want and easily fixed. Be right back! Wants come and go with some regularity, as opposed to needs which are fairly constant. What I want this moment is subject to my whims of the next moment. And all of us are subject to those suddenly changing circumstances that push wants of the day to a far place. Much later, we may even stop a moment to wonder why we wanted that past thing in the first place. Some of us may have homes or garages full of those things. Maybe what we want this weekend is a good old fashioned yard sale. A little denial of things may not hurt all of us. I confess to having been in that position a few times. Why did I want that thing so much back then?

It may be easy to become bitter if all wants are denied us. At the same time being denied something is not always a bad thing. The best want is that God loves us and wants the best for us. When the thing God wants is fulfilled and we are with Him forever and ever, much of what we think we must have now will be a distant and at times ridiculous memory. I expect many laughs over some of the things I thought I wanted so very much back in this day.

Have a bit less want-y day in Christ!