Friday, May 29, 2015

The Valley I Must Cross

The first Friday morning of the skeeter spraying season arrives, and I think I could use a little caffeine in my joe this time. The urge to nap is strong with this one. Mmm, breakfast, that helps a lot. Now, what temptation do we face on this day? I may expect a time of peace and rest from God, but that enemy of ours does not hand out days off from his minions. And why should I expect a day off from temptation or trial when those are the things that test my faith to the glory of God the Father? A temptation exists that starts with, "If I had only..." That is, in looking back on a fork in the road of life, I would now be in the town of Blissville living on Easy Street if I had chosen the other way.

Well, we know that there is only one Way to the Father, and that way in life includes trials and tribulations. So, what sort of evil temptation makes us believe that going the other way back then would have resulted in anything but a trip down the road that leads to destruction? In this life, we will face the valley that must be crossed. The great king, David, had one and he wrote about it in his great psalm. We have one too, and James reminds us that the testing of our faith produces patience, one of the fruits of the Spirit that God will raise up in us. In fact, the brother of our Lord tells us that we are to count that valley we face as a joy. This happens just before he reminds us to ask for wisdom from the Lord.

The valley we face today may well appear frightening, difficult, and even insurmountable, but we do not cross it alone. The 'gardener' Mary Magdalene met one morning will see to it that His little branches are pruned and trimmed for the journey. The Spirit that Gardener gave to us will produce His fruit in us as we journey with Him.

Have a traveling day in the Lord!


Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Rock at the Bottom of the Sack

Surely I am more stupid than any man,
​​And do not have the understanding of a man. (Prov 30:2)

Wow, King Agur gives himself quite the smackdown to start his chapter in Solomon's proverbs. Most of us probably would not begin our message to the world with a declaration of how stupid we think we are. Who knows how long such written words might last? Almost 3,000 years now for King Agur, and counting. But then, perhaps the beginning of wisdom is to know that compared to God we are indeed stupid and without wisdom of any kind. Jesus told the great teacher of the Jews that he needed to be reborn. (John 3) A lifetime of education and practice in the Law, and Nicodemus faced starting over in the most profound way possible: rebirth!

King Agur left his words for us to read these many years later. He was smarter and wiser than many in this world, and he shows it by first humbling himself. Wiser still was Solomon who collected the words of King Agur through the wisdom God gave to him at the start of his reign. Of course, King Solomon was wise enough to ask for discernment, another word for wisdom, when he could have asked for long life, strength, wealth, or lots of territory. Therefore, showing God's provision in his life even before the big question was asked, Solomon gained great wisdom and all the other stuff too.

King Agur may have felt like the rock at the bottom of the sack, but God raised him up to a place in one of the books of the Bible. As both Solomon and Agur would tell us, God is the source of all wisdom. But, we must be reborn in Christ to reach the place where we can begin to receive God's wisdom. Jesus told the people to take the humblest place at the banquet so that the host might raise them up. Coming to Christ in repentance, we have taken that humble place, and we too will be raised up one day to be with our Lord Jesus.

Have a wise day in Christ!


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Outrageously Conservative

Sorry, but this is not a political posting, just an attempt at a clever title. Have you ever been tempted to do something a bit on the wild side? Perhaps you have reached that point in your life where the wearing of a striped tie with a plaid shirt is your definition of wild and crazy, or just plain stupid. Our definition of what constitutes extreme, wild, crazy, or stupid tends to narrow as we grow older. A male child does not know there are rules to fashion until he tries them out on Mom. Then he begins a personal rating system based on Mom's reaction. A shriek is well-selected clothing just about right for wearing to school; a low growl an ensemble that must be reconsidered. Later, the female child will test Dad in the same way during her teenage years, while the male child will have settled on a personal style seen by adults as disreputable.

Children must endure those years where it seems that everyone, and they do mean everyone, is trying to impose a will on them that does not suit. Government says school for x hours on y days; teachers give loads of homework, chores begin to weigh on freedom, local governments have more rules for behavior enforced through the police, and... parents often remind them that these are the best years of their little lives. Then, there is God, who, on Sunday and perhaps Wednesday and maybe a few other days has a will that trumps all. Hellfire and damnation await those who cross the Great One's will and worse, He makes them sit in church for an interminable part of every weekend. Yes, we remember fondly those years of selfish moaning over the perceived unfairness of it all.

Little did it occur to the young rebels that God wanted what was best even for the self-centered, and so did parents, teachers, governors, and pretty much everyone else. We, like the generations before us, generally learned the hard way that all those rules were for our own good. Usually our first good behavior began through fear of punishment. Later, as Jesus began to make a change in our heart, we found a desire to do good came from a will within that we didn't know was possible. Our apparel may have become outrageously conservative through training and a bit of trial and error, but the heart remained firmly rebellious until Jesus made that change.

Have a Christ-full day, and try not to get lost in those wavy years of the past. :-)


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Can You Make the Grade?

In the land of earned salvation:

The required IQ for gaining entry by intellectual capacity is always just a few points higher than yours.

The mark for physical strength is always 25lbs higher than you can press.

The amount a wealthy man must give is always $100 more than you earn in a year.

We often seek to enter Heaven by the door marked "Wage Earner". Yet, Jesus gave us this gift that we cannot purchase or earn. No one is smart enough, fast enough, or strong enough to batter down the doors of Heaven. We cannot donate enough loot to earn a one-way ticket on the Heaven Cruise. The final flight of Do-Gooder Airlines left the gate just moments before we got there, and no one we would recognize boarded that plane anyway. Earned salvation is a fantasy trip that we cannot imagine, a ten-year epic journey that we must complete in a day, or a mountain climbing expedition where we find that someone has stolen the mountain top just before we got the ropes and pitons purchased. In other words, you and I are disqualified before we even start.

Jesus gave to us a better way: Himself. That which cannot be earned, He earned for us. That which cannot be purchased, our Lord bought with His blood. That which we have no chance of grasping, Christ gives to us for the asking. Salvation, it's a wonderful gift of the Savior!


Monday, May 25, 2015

A Debt of Gratitude

On November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln stood in a field near Gettysburg Pennsylvania and dedicated a new cemetery to "those who here gave their lives that this nation might live." All over this world stand many 'here's' where an American man or woman gave a life that we might enjoy our life in this nation under God. How we honor that sacrifice speaks to the spiritual condition of our nation. How do we begin to repay that debt of gratitude we owe these brave men and women of our Armed Forces?

On most days, we might complain about something or other that is not right in this nation. Today, let us set that aside that we might honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their friends, family, and fellow soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines. Today, we can remember. We may not have a list of names and dates. We may not be able to recall in this moment the name of a neighbor's son who died in Vietnam. The name of a relative who didn't return from Europe or the Pacific in WWII may escape us this morning. But, we can take time to remember that those men and women did serve and give their lives that we might have a bit more freedom in the nation we know as the United States of America.

In Christ,

Friday, May 22, 2015

Life Like a Roller Coaster

Memorial Day weekend is upon us this evening. I hope that you have plans of some sort for enjoying a 3-day (or longer!) break from work. Someone out there may even have the privilege of riding a roller coaster this weekend. Okay, so maybe we are of an age where the excitement of a roller coaster is just a bit much to be called a privilege. Nevertheless, think back to that last time you rode the rails, so to speak, and recall what happened at the end. Yes, the coaster came back into the station. Our life is much like that. One life may be more like the so-called mother of all roller coasters with loops, spins, seriously high peaks and very low valleys, while another life may seem tame by comparison. Yet both coasters eventually come back into the station. One ride may be longer and another short, but both arrive back at the designed end of the line.

We have this assurance: God designed the life we are given to arrive back at the station too. We cannot see the end of the line on this roller-coaster ride, but we know that God has it perfectly in His control. There may yet be some exhilarating hills and breath-taking plunges, but we will arrive back safely with God at the place He has gone to prepare for us. What is interesting is that however tightly we hold on, the safety of the ride cannot depend upon human strength.

Without the safety already built in to the ride, today's machines would fling the strongest human right out into a serious fall. In the same way, God has designed each life to be dependent upon His strength and not our own. The exciting and exhilarating part is that none of us knows exactly where our ride ends. Yikes, trust in God!

Have a great weekend with Christ Jesus.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Guard Against the Boo-hoo-hoo News

What a title to work with! Let's find a verse that has boo-hoo-hoo in it somewhere in the Bible. Well now, challenging the Bible may just prove to be my undoing. We know this one: And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. (Revelation 21:4) No more crying, that sounds like some good news. We all have reason to cry in earnest as we look around at this world. However, you don't need me to constantly point out the reasons we weep. Too much of the boo-hoo-hoo news can feed depression, and we don't want that. Good news, that's what we are to bring!

Until the time of the Revelation though, avoiding the sad news may be quite difficult. Death, sorrow, and pain dominate the news both in the media and in our lives. It's a constant struggle to have nothing but the boo-hoo-hoo news to spread. Praise God we have the news of our Lord Jesus Christ! Some dreary days it seems that the good news of Jesus is the only news we have to share that isn't awful, terrible, or sorrowful. I suppose that is why we were commissioned to spread the glad tidings the angels announced at the birth of Christ.

Blessed be the name of our Lord!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Unexpected Good News

So, I go to pay my gas bill for the month and it seems a bit high, but I pay up. To my surprise, the balance gets even higher. Who puts the minus sign behind the number anyway? What I belatedly figured out was that the gas company dumped my security deposit from almost 3 years ago back into my balance this month. I was trying to pay a negative balance. Those of us fighting from the trenches of poverty for the past few years need a little warning before good news is sprung on us like that. Unexpected good news goes against the grain of the poor mind set the world has carved in some of us during these years of the recession-depression, or maybe it's depression from the recession.

I wonder how many people weather-beaten and raw from the years of this Great Recession have been told the good news of Jesus Christ in a way that catches them off guard? Suppose a family has lost their means of earning a living in these past few years, suffered the loss of their home, perhaps a car or two, and faced months of scraping by while friends and relatives helped as best they were able, and had no hope in Christ, as we do. Suddenly, with the years of toil and frustration weighting them down, you spring something like, "So, ya wanna have eternal life?" on them. I wouldn't be surprised to see them run screaming from the room, probably a rented room at that. Maybe we should have told them a bit more about that eternal life first?

Before a suffering sinner assumes we are torturing them with an eternity that is just more of what they have experienced here in this shadow land, we might want to tell a few words about what God has in store for us in the hereafter. Check out the words of promise at the end of the Revelation, or in Isaiah concerning God's holy mountain. We know some of those promises already. Tread the road with love and make sure the good news we speak is good news.

Here's some good news for all of us: Jesus Loves You!


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Like a Death in the Family

Phoo, what a dream! I really thought that stuff behind me for good. I read somewhere that losing a long-held job was for men like suffering a death in the family. As many women have wished for and achieved equality with men in the workplace, one must assume the same now holds true for them as well. As Christians though, do we not get a pass on at least some of the tragedy of the world? I think we already know the answer to that one. As our Lord suffered at the hands of the world so will His followers. Like Job, we may seem to lose all in the calamities of the world. We may be stripped down to that one remaining thing - God's unfailing love.

Job had it as he sat in the ashes with his friends turned on him. Jesus had it on the cross where those who yet loved Him could do nothing to help. Paul had it even as he drug Christ-ones from their homes in chains. And we have God's unfailing love on us, with us, in us, and all around us even in what we suffer today and what we suffered yesterday. That same apostle who once persecuted the church with all his time and ability became convinced that nothing can separate us from the love of God. Nothing: that is a big word when we consider all the methods the world can use to hurt us emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

The suffering from the past may indeed attack us late one night when we think it conquered for good and ever. The prince of this world does like to dredge up some of that suffering from our past and fling it on us like a foul muck as we rest in the night. What we must do then is to remember the love of God in Jesus Christ. Nothing can separate us from God's love.

Amen, come Lord Jesus!


Monday, May 18, 2015

A Little Restoration From the Great 23rd

And just like that, the weekend is over and a Monday beckons to us with all its inexplicable demands for attention and retribution of the...writer is going right off the deep end there, someone please stop him right quick! Monday is not that bad when we have so many blessings from our Father in Heaven to count. It's 6:00 am and we are awake (mostly) and up doing(sort of) our morning routine prior to arriving at work ready to go(well almost). A Monday morning may seem to us like a good time for some restoration. A little verse from the great 23rd psalm comes to mind this morning.

He restores my soul;
​​He leads me in the paths of righteousness
​​For His name’s sake. (Psalm 23:3)

I have come to understand the 23rd psalm as more of a daily thing than a one time blessing. This does not make me some newly-arrived flaming genius, all of the Bible is good for our restoration and education on a daily, even a moment-by-moment basis. Jeremiah told us of God's mercies new every morning; Paul wrote Timothy that all scripture is made for our benefit. David probably pondered his 23rd psalm often during days of trouble and perhaps a bit more often when times were good.

Restoration and leading along those paths of righteousness are a constant need in me. I'm glad my Lord Jesus is so good at His job! Have a great day at yours too.


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Cats Don't Point Well

The owner of a pointing breed of the canine family knows that a good pointer goes on point even before the training starts. The pup that naturally points to the pheasant in the bush will train well and often more easily than the 'dumb pooch' that must be trained harder and more often. Cat owners on the other hand know that cats seem to deliberately look the other way whenever something is pointed out to the feline. Both dogs or cats can make good pets, it's just that cats don't point well in general, to put an understatement as mildly as possible. Those Christians who like to organize things within a church have often found brothers and sisters in Christ who are of the same persuasion. It isn't that we love Jesus less, it's just that we don't always point well.

God gave to His church a stunning variety of Christians. Not one of us has achieved the ideal Jesus set down for us in His Word. However, most every Christ-one will at one time or another come to the conclusion that a brother or sister in Christ meets that ideal a good deal less than we would like. Do we presume to judge? Yes, I think that most of us have at some point judged a fellow Christian and found him or her wanting according to the standard we presume is best for the Lord's church. Sadly, if we were to see all the standards we judge by in our presumption, we might be rather appalled at ourselves.

Jesus had an entrance exam that is just a bit different from the world's usual method: "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out." ( John 6:37) Those of us who cannot toe the line, make the grade, or just plain don't point well base our eternal hope on the words of the Lord's Christ.

Have a wonderful weekend in Christ Jesus!


Friday, May 15, 2015

Salvation, It's a Given Thing

In this world we will have much work, *but* there is something that we cannot work for. When I am tempted to talk work, work, work all the time, I strive to remember that thing for which I cannot achieve, labor, toil, or work. It cannot be listed on my resume, because I did not accomplish it. This thing is given to me, therefore I cannot boast of it as of something I did. Truly it is the greatest of things to strive for and many do so in religious systems. However, a gift that can be earned is no gift at all but a wage. Salvation, it's a given thing.

When the list of 'I gotta do's' threatens to overwhelm me, I recall the grace of God in our given salvation. Since there is no earning, there is no need to list it on that list. With blessed assurance, rest comes in salvation while other things may be yet undone in the physical world. In our world, when one task is marked as finished, another awaits or arrives with breathless anticipation. Our work here is never done. Yet, long ago, well before our birth on the globe, a Man stood on the cross and proclaimed the work of salvation finished. Then, He died. Not only is salvation finished by the Son, none can pitch in to add their help because He died. Ever tried to help a dead person, it just can't be done.

Jesus rose again from the grave; not to give us a chance to help out with our salvation, but to commission us to spread the good news of what He accomplished. Praise God, salvation is not a work thing - it's a given thing.

Have a receptive day in Christ!


Thursday, May 14, 2015

And God Parted the Red Sea

Yes, God did His part of that great work in the crossing of the Rea Sea, but do we recall that the Israelites still walked with their burdens? Sometimes I think we forget that part, not to take away God's glory but rather to avoid our work. I have found myself in that same mode of living, and it may take a lot to get one out of it. There are those times when we need help, and there are those other times when we are capable of doing our part along with God's great work. God provides a boat, a sea, and a wind for the sail, but you and me may need to grab the pulling end of an oar too.

This may be the fallout from certain ministries going on in our world today. Have faith, God will provide as long as you don't doubt. That seems to sum up the message I have heard over the years from the 90's on into, well, the time a couple of years back when I left TV behind. The problem is that forgotten message of doing. Not that we can do anything without our Lord Jesus, but that we have work to do along with His mighty hands. We should recall that God could have provided the Israelites of that long ago sea crossing with a set of moving sands to hustle them across the dry bottom of the Red Sea, or even a fleet of carts drawn by mighty unicorns, but He didn't - they walked all the way across with the armies of Pharaoh hard on their heels. God provided a promised land flowing with milk and honey, but the Israelites had a mission to conquer the land even as the Lord drove out the peoples before them. Why not provide an empty promised land for the taking? Well, if we want the answer to that, we know who to ask in prayer.

What a privilege to work with God. Our little hands and His mighty hands. Our small, almost insignificant effort alongside the mighty works of our Lord. We may seem to offer but a few loaves and two tiny fishes, yet Jesus feeds the multitude. God's awesome majesty...and me and you. That may cause indignation, a laugh, or just a bit of stunned silence, but we need to get past that sometime. God in His Holy Spirit and His people are working together to build His kingdom. God does His great miracles, but we still need to keep the hands busy and do the walkin'.

Have a productive day in Christ Jesus,


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Just a Random Verse

The Bible holds verses that draw our interest like a treasure chest sitting on the front porch of an abandoned mansion. How did it get there? What is the story behind it? Eh? Are you crazy? Look inside for the treasure! Go explore the mansion, maybe there's more! This morning I did a word search on 'random' in the New King James version and found one verse in all the Bible that has 'random' in it.

Now a certain man drew a bow at random, and struck the king of Israel between the joints of his armor. So he said to the driver of his chariot, “Turn around and take me out of the battle, for I am wounded.” (1 Kings 22:34)

The verse does not even say on which side this archer stood on the day of battle. Was it friendly fire; a man simply testing his bow before the enemy drew close? Was it a shot from the enemy thinking he was out of range and hoping to hit nothing at all? Like the smaller part of an iceberg though, there is a great story behind this verse. God and His angels and spirits are involved. Another of those lonely prophets takes a stand for God against many false prophets. The king is none other than Ahab, the Israelite king who had a certain evil wife. Elijah does not come into this story directly, but at about the time he is giving in to self-pity in the desert and telling the Lord he is the only faithful one left, this other prophet of the Lord, Micaiah, stands against many false prophets where Elijah had stood and takes a slap that is much like the story of Christ centuries later.

The false prophet that smites Micaiah wore a pair of iron horns he fashioned to deceive the king. Get that image in your mind as you read the story of Micaiah's prophecy of what will happen to the slapper when the enemy overruns his house. The inner chamber spoken of the in NKJV sounds remarkably like "You'll know when you hide in your toilet!"

God's actions, His almighty knowledge, His servants, a faithful prophet, an evil king, humor, a moral to the story, an amazing and unlikely bowshot, and much more from a simple word search in God's Word using modern technology. What a great age we live in! How great is God's Word!


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Striketh Thou Not The Son of Man

May weather should make a return this day, much to our relief. We know that by the age of 12 Jesus knew His Father and His mission. What about those brothers and sisters though? Did they defer to Jesus the elder brother as the Son of God? Imagine the younger ones following along as Jesus and Joseph make their way to work. A freshly plowed field holds the dirt clods that kids love to throw. Jesus turns with royal majesty and says to His brothers, "Striketh thou not the Son of Man, little children." Joseph groans a little, "Enough with the King's English, Son."

Alright, we know the Bible contains no such story (and the KJV-style language came along just a bit later). However, I have trouble thinking of how it must have been growing up with the Christ, the Son of God. And if I have trouble, imagine how difficult is must be for my sisters to imagine a sinless, gentle, good, kind, and never ever ever make a mistake with Scripture brother like Jesus. We have a tough time with that because we grew up with a bunch of imperfect parents, teachers, siblings, and everyone else in this life. In our youth, we even got biblical in the description: there was none who was perfect, no not one. Yet, the siblings and parents of Jesus enjoyed a few years growing with the perfect Son of God. Peter probably gives us the most insight into that relationship.

Our beloved first disciple at times gave our Lord some backtalk. Other times he didn't understand what the Lord said. Then, there was that time when Peter told the Lord He couldn't and earned a tough reaction. However, Peter also saw miracles, walked on water, and enjoyed a revealing look at Christ in His glory. Because of who Jesus is, the relationships with those He grew up with probably wasn't as tough as we might imagine. Our relationship today need not be overly formal or tough. After all, He knows our every thought already, what have we to hide behind a fa├žade of formality?

Amen, come dear Jesus!


Monday, May 11, 2015

Not On My Road Today

One of the colder weekends in May that I can remember. I have my yellow hat on this morning, the furnace is going, and it feels much like that winter thing we just put in the past (at least we thought it was in the past). In our favor today, the clouds have blown away and the rain/snow have stopped. Tomorrow, the temp is supposed to be right back up to springtime levels. Tomorrow, though, is not on my road for today. Flood warnings are up again for us, but not until Thursday now, and Thursday is not on my road for today.

I enjoy the phrase 'foreseeable future' when it comes up in books and such. What is that and what does it mean for me? Nothing, of course! My anxious worries of the night have little or nothing to do with the road I must walk today. What I think I can foresee is likely a lie from the tempter's minions. The great apostle told us that we see as in a poor looking glass. I have expectations for the next few minutes, but so many things can change in that much time that I have no guarantees in my foreseeing. Trust and faith in God is where my road lies today.

Whatever may come or not come, Jesus walks with us today.


Friday, May 08, 2015

Authority For Good News

A search on 'authority' in the Bible will produce results from Genesis 39 all the way to Revelation 18. At the first it occurs with the word 'under' most every time, but after that things begin to go a bit off track, until Jesus comes and then there is quite a bit about giving. We do have a question of authority in this world, but what is it really? Authority: the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience. A definition helps, but I see an 'or' in there. What about God who has power AND right? So, we're dealing with a more worldly definition when 'or' is included, I will assume. There is this verse from the Proverbs:

When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; ​​But when a wicked man rules, the people groan.(29:2)

We tend to say, that if we have a righteous leader then things are just fine. However, our Constitution begins with "We the People..." So what happens when the people no longer have authority from God because of unbelief? Hmm, could be that we would have a government that is too big, perhaps seeking authority from overwhelming size; a divided and ineffective Congress because the voting people are themselves divided and uncertain; and perhaps a president trying to rule by executive order because he has no real authority from a divided people. We could go on about 5-4 Supreme Court decisions, boatloads of federal rules that no one can hope to know much less obey at all times, and government bureaucracies going 'off the reservation' in a manner of speaking.

According to the apostle, all authority comes from God (Rom 13:1); so, if we the people have lost our authority to unbelief, where does the authority go? Probably just what we see, agencies and governments grabbing for authority, leaders taking too much or too little authority, very close votes in elections and the houses of government, and a sort of wholesale mess in the courts, Yes, pretty much what we have going on all the time these days. Perhaps, if We the People will return to God, we can get some of that 2 Chronicles 7:14 action going: If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.


Thursday, May 07, 2015

Motion and Commotion

Good rainy morning, once more, and praise the Lord for that rain! It seems that our weather pattern involves moisture these days, but what is this about snow this weekend?! I guess that the time has not yet come to move my onion and garlic outside. What is going on in the world today? Motion and commotion all around the globe, at least according to my news sources. Your news probably looks much the same as mine. Today, I took a search on the Blue Letter Bible site for 'commotion', and found three verses in the NKJV. This one seemed a good one to yank out of context and read as a stand alone verse.

And about that time there arose a great commotion about the Way. (Acts 19:23)

What do we know about this? The Way is of course our Lord Jesus and those who follow Him. A great commotion about this is valuable so that people hear about the Word and want to know more. Amongst all the motion and commotion of the world, it helps to have something that gains their attention. And it's working! Around the world there is perhaps no more recognized name than that of Jesus even if many will not believe in Him. Many even hate the name of Christ and Christian, but they do know the name. Reading the context of our verse for the day reveals a riot caused by a man losing his means of living to those who were bringing the good news of Jesus. Not that Paul and the other apostles wanted to take food from the man's family, but making a living by crafting idols must give way to the Way when people come to believe in Christ. The silversmith came to know the name, and he didn't like it.

Like Paul, we prefer not to cause a riot or a commotion, but we also know that it may happen someday. The world will choose sides as the end draws near. On one side is Jesus.

Have a great spring day in Christ!


Wednesday, May 06, 2015

If All My Works Pointed To Me

Good morning on this day called the sixth of May! Wow, that is so lame. If all my works pointed to me, that would indeed be the bottom of the lameness curve. If all my works pointed to me, I would have lived a life the world might call well lived. However, Jesus once said, "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Matt 16:26) Indeed, if at the end of my life all of my works do but point to me, then I will have failed and fallen. My life would but end where so many have stopped, under a rock and forgotten. A clever epitaph on a grey stone might be my only hope for posterity, if, all of my works point only to me.

Praise God, we have a greater hope than that depressing outcome. We live in Christ and all of our works do not point just to the self. If we are forgotten in this world after this life ends, Jesus will never forget us. We may receive no recognition for our works here, but in the great and glorious hereafter we will live with our Lord Jesus in His glory. Our goal and purpose in this life becomes to point our work to our Lord and Savior. Our hope rests in Christ, our reward to be with Him eternally.

If all my works did but point to me, what a wasted life this would be. The glory of God in the works of His Son is the way for you and me!


Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Some Tough Lessons

Why do we take on the tough lessons at a 0630 Bible study? Wouldn't a 9:00 am start be better for digging deep into the more difficult passages in the Word? Today, we ran straight into a statement that caused many disciples to leave Jesus. You will recall the one from near the end of John chapter 6 where Jesus tells His disciples that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood for eternal life. Whoa, that would be a bit off putting for most anyone except for a few vampires and cannibals. Perhaps the amazing thing about this incident in our Lord's ministry is not the disciples who left, but the twelve who stayed.

Jesus asked the twelve if they too would leave, but Peter comes up with one of his golden responses. "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." (John 6:68). We like it when Peter comes through in the clutch. We like it because Peter didn't always say or do the right thing, and we can identify with that. For all those that left Him at this time, Jesus left neither Peter nor the others who remained steadfast in the tough lessons. So, I guess 0630 is not such a bad time for a tough lesson: Jesus won't leave us now either.


Monday, May 04, 2015

Time In The Wilderness

Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. (Joshua 1:6)

We know from our Bible study that after the Israelites crossed the Red Sea in a mighty miracle of God they often turned back toward Egypt in their grumbling. God promised a paradise on Earth if they could just be faithful through a short time in the wilderness. A bit later, when faced with having to earn paradise, they balked and ended up serving another 40 years walking that same wilderness. Finally, after much adventure, Israel is poised to enter the promised land. Ah, ha! we say, there's no way I would be like them!

No way? Did you never lose a job and then try to go back there in thought or deed? Never once yearn back to the good times of high school or college or whenever? Every day in that circumstance back in the day was one of unquenchable good times and bliss? Did the married fellow never once speak of how good the single years were to him? Is a house from your past calling out to you to move back in and things will be just wonderful again? Yes, we get confused about which way progress lies in life.

Every person who comes to believe in Christ will endure a time in the wilderness, probably more than one. To reach a promised land we must endure some tough testing. The promise is hard to see, the reality is tough to bear, and the past begins to take on the shine of forgotten pain. We marvel that the Israelites yearned to go back to slavery and persecution, yet we do the same in our nostalgia from time to time. So, God gives Joshua some encouragement as the leader of Israel stands on the border of the promised land. Be strong and of good courage, and remember the promise of God!

We have that same encouragement today.


Saturday, May 02, 2015

Wrongful Thought Acid

Whoa, yard sale season begins today all over the plains. We have two or three even in our little town. Okay, so the title might be a bit obscure this morning. Maybe you even thought something like, "Yow, he's gone loopy, must be older today." Well, yes, I am that. The funny thing is that I don't feel any loopier than yesterday. Ah well, gotta soldier on in the army of Christ.

Leave a battery too long in a device and it is most likely that an acid leak will in time destroy that device. This occurs to me this morning because I found just such a device last night. I couldn't help but think of those thoughts that do much the same thing. If a wrongful thought enters the mind - and we have so much help in this world with thinking those sorts of thoughts in the first place - we are to resist and reject the thought with all our might, and then call upon the might of our Lord in prayer. However, we don't always accomplish this little sequence of mind cleansing.

One time the thought is attractive to us and we want to entertain the fantasy for a while. We must remember that the wages sin pays out are deadly to us. Another time the thought may not be attractive, but the tempter wants us to dwell on it for a while until we fall into fear. The Bible tells us that resisting the devil will cause him to flee from us. Using the name of Jesus is resistance of the good kind too. We also have an affliction common in our land in these dark times: the thoughts that remain and return from some trauma. The incident(s) may have been emotional, physical, financial, spiritual, or some combination of all of the above. Those thoughts sink in deeply and we need help before that wrongful thought acid eats us away. Fortunately, Jesus is just the help we need; and He comes with our brothers and sisters in Christ, Christian counselors, His Holy Spirit, and maybe even a Christian writer or two to help out.

Indeed, in all things we have more help than the enemy would have us recall in a time of difficulty.

In the name of Christ Jesus!

Friday, May 01, 2015

Are Your Maydays Answered?

Happy May Day! The title question probably has an obvious answer for all of us. With funerals still happening and hospitals doing a brisk business, we must say that, no, not every mayday is answered with the answer we expect. If we compare God's plan to an ocean, then we are like the little seals swimming over the surface. We can dive down a bit, but as for exploring the gigantic depths of God's plan we are hopelessly thin on understanding. God's word explains it all to us; but even with that primer, we are lost in the great depths of His plan for the ages.

If we ask God about the Revelation, I think that He would tell us it means exactly what He said. Yet, as large as that vision of John is to us, there are many more prophetic visions of the end times in the Bible. We cannot understand most of them and still we ask that our prayers, those maydays mentioned earlier, be answered in the way we expect. Trust, a tough word to bear at times, tells us that somewhere in God's plan sits the answer we are given.

Some of us suffer more, and others less. Some live a long life, and others a brief time that passes quickly. Some are rich and others destitute, and during a life they may switch places more than once. Some live through times of war, while others live out their lives in peacetime. All are part of God's great plan for this Creation. Yet, when the maydays go up, we often expect God to answer only with the answer we expect from Him. One reading of the gospels should convince us that Jesus didn't come to do what everyone expected. As our Lord said, "Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." (Matt 6:10)

So, maybe a mayday wasn't answered as we expected. Dear Lord, Your will be done!