Sunday, December 31, 2006

Andy Mckee- a treat for the new year

I just wanted to share one of my new favorites with you to start the new year. Enjoy the music, and I know you will enjoy his style as well.

Happy New Years!


This is the last day of 2006! Glad to see it go. It has been a hard year. I never dreamed we would go through all that we have this year, it's been amazing.
I'm really glad I have had a lot of hard years before this, it has made this one easier to survive. Is this one of those God things? God does build our endurance as we age. He is so kind to gradually equip us for the battles ahead.
But right now I just want to hide out with some cheese and crackers and wait for a new year to begin.
Happy New Year. I hope your 2007 is a great year.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

A burden


One billion people in the world are muslim! That's amazing to me. One billion people....for me this is a big thing. I care about those around me who don't know Christ, and that's a lot of people who need the savior. I have had a burden for the muslims for a long time, but frankly don't know what to do with that burden, so I'm going to pray. I'm going to pray for them, all one billion, to find Christ. And I'm going to pray that many will see their need and seek him. I have met a few muslims. Most are wonderful people who love their wives and kids and just want to have a good life. It's only a few hundred million of that billion who would be considered "radical." That's still a lot, but I may not meet any of them. So, what can I do? I'm going to pray for them, and I'm going to look for opportunities to talk to them about Christ. Christ died for them too, I can't ignore them....

Mat 5:44 "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
Mat 5:45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
Mat 5:46 "For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
Mat 5:47 "If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
Mat 5:48 "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Not far from the kingdom of God


Sunday is coming, and I am preparing a message. Just taking a moments break to change my thoughts. It's hard when you hit a mental wall. I have a clear understanding of what I want to say (big picture), but the details elude me. I am going to be in Mark these next two weeks. One of the passages that really sticks in my head is something that Jesus said to one of the religious leaders, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." I know, if I had been in the crowd listening that day, I would be like this little girl, picking my nose and thinking, "huh?" I shouldn't say this, but I feel that way a lot! Ok, back to the point- not far from the kingdom. We somehow have a funny idea that the kingdom is coming "someday," and yet Jesus made it clear that this scribe, 2,000 years ago, was near it.

It's clear from the passage in Mark that this man was a seeker, and looking for answers. Jesus told him that he was close. I wonder if he pursued Jesus later to ask, "how do I get from here to there?" I know I would have. If I'm near, what else do I need to do?

I guess my questions range in this direction- Do most people know that God has a kingdom? Do they really want to be part of it? Do they know it's already being inhabitated? Is there a longing in their hearts to find this kingdom? How do we help those around us find the way in?

Like this little girl, I stand, picking my nose and wondering...

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Looking ahead


This year is nearly over. A new year is just days away. At this time of year we think about new beginnings, new plans, new resolutions. It's usually a time that we think back on the year, and ahead to the new year with hopes of better days.

The reality is that the new year is simply a day...just another day. The road ahead does not end, we simply start another day, another new beginning.
Each new day is a new opportunity to make good choices, to walk with God, to love one another. Each new day is a new beginning. It doesn't just happen once a year, it happens each morning as you wake to a new opportunity to serve God.

Psa 95:7 For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you would hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts...

Thursday, December 21, 2006

A letter from God

I received this in an e-mail today, and it's really good, so I have borrowed it to share with you:

Dear Child,

It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My name out of the season. Maybe you've forgotten that I wasn't actually born during this time of the year and that it was some of your predecessors who decided to celebrate My birthday on what was actually a time of pagan festival. Although, I do appreciate being remembered anytime.
How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don't care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth, just GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER. Now, having said that let Me go on.
If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn't allow a scene depicting My birth, then just get rid of a couple of Santas and snowmen and put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn. If all My followers did that there wouldn't be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town.
Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all trees. You can and may remember Me anytime you see any tree. Decorate a grape vine if you wish. I actually spoke of that one in a teaching explaining who I am in relation to you and what each of our tasks were. If you have forgotten that one, look up
John 15: 1 - 8.
If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My birth here is my wish list. Choose something from it.
1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know. They tell Me all the time.
2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don't have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.
3. Instead of writing George complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out this year, why don't you write and tell him that you'll be praying for him and his family this year. Then follow up...it will be nice hearing from you again.
4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can't afford and they don't need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth, and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.
5. Pick someone thats hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.
6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don't know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile. It could make the difference. Also, you might consider supporting the local Hot-Line. They talk with people like that every day.
7. Instead of nit picking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren't allowed to wish you a "Merry Christmas" that doesn't keep you from wishing them one. Then stop shopping there on Sunday. If the store didn't make so much money on that day, they'd close and let their employees spend the day at home with their families.
8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary, especially one who takes My love and Good News to those who have never heard My name. You may already know someone like that.
9. Here's a good one. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no "Christmas" tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don't know them (and I suspect you don't) buy some food and a few gifts and give them to the Marines, the Salvation Army or some other charity which believes in Me. They will make the delivery for you.
10. Finally, if you want to make a statement about your belief in and loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian. Don't do things in secret that you wouldn't do in My presence. Let people know by your actions that you are one of mine.
P.S. Don't forget; I am God and can take care of Myself. Just love Me and do what I have told you to do I'll take care of all the rest. Check out the list above and get to work. Time is short. I'll help you, but the ball is now in your court. And do have a most blessed Christmas with all those whom you love.

And remember,

I LOVE YOU,

JESUS

Abundant Blessings!

"Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them....Matthew 18:20"

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Holiday blues

Holidays are hard if you are alone or have had a loss this year. There is a dread of Christmas for many because of a death in the family, a loss due to divorce or simply the reality of being alone at the most family time of year.

If you are coming to this holiday with a loss in your family since last Christmas you will grieve, but take some time and celebrate all the holidays you did have with this one who isn't with you this year.

If you find yourself divorced this year you will discover that everything is completely different for you from last year, and depression may be part of the holiday. Look for ways to serve others during this time, and get involved in the lives of others who are hurting as well.

If you are alone this Christmas find others in the same situation and get together for a meal. Don't spend the time alone, get involved in the lives of others around you.

The suicide rate is highest during this holiday season. Be aware that the hurts of a loss, a divorce, or simply of being alone are magnified during the holiday. Look for those around you who are hurting and care for them, spend time with them, love them.

This is truly the time of God's comfort for us, the promise of hope, a time of joy. I hope you all have a great Christmas.

2Co 1:3 All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel!
2Co 1:4 He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.
2Co 1:5 We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort--we get a full measure of that, too.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Anticipation

The prophets of the Old Testament anticipated a day when Messiah would come. They often wrote about it in verses like these:

Isa 7:14 "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.

Isa 9:6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
Isa 9:7 There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.


The prophets knew Messiah would come, and they longed for the day. In fact one man, 2,000 years ago, was promised that he would not die until he saw the Messiah with his own eyes, and he did! The great story of hope for the world is that God's love has been poured out in the form of a baby. God himself took on human flesh to provide salvation for us. Jesus, that baby, is the Messiah of the world.

There are so many voices in the world saying, "this is the way, follow us." And in the midst of it all Jesus himself said,

Joh 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
Joh 3:17 "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
Joh 3:18 "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.


I am so grateful that God sought me out, and freely gave me life through his son, Jesus. It's by faith in him alone that we find salvation and eternal life. There is no better gift for this time of the year than to receive the salvation God has provided by faith in Jesus as savior.

The prophets looked forward to that day. I am so blessed to be able to celebrate the day when their prophesies came true.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Christmas is coming!


Christmas is a week away. A week of focus on purchasing gifts for those we love and care for. A week of anticipation...what will I get for Christmas? A week of worry, do I have enough money to get all the "stuff" I need to purchase? A week of hiding those treasures from the kids. A week of anticipation for the children...will I get what I really want? Is there really a santa claus? Will we get snow?
In this week some will take a moment to think about what Christmas is really about- the birth of Christ, the Messiah of the world.
In spite of attempts to take the focus off of the real reason for Christmas it is still all about Christ himself, God's revelation of his love for the human race.
Christmas is about God's love- it's revealed in the birth of his son, the only savior of man.
Christmas is about God's mercy- it's revealed in the fact that he doesn't give us what we deserve, but rather gives us what we don't deserve and could never attain on our own.
Christmas is about God's grace- it's revealed in his provision of his riches for us through Christ. It's provided while we were his enemy, and had no desire for him, and yet God showed us his grace by the birth of his son.
Christmas is about God's sovereignty- it's revealed in the birth of his son in spite of man's best attempts to foil God's plans. The Messiah was born, died and rose again to provide salvation for mankind.
Christmas is about God's salvation- in this time of year we celebrate HIS gift of a son, a messiah, the only way to salvation, Jesus Christ, God's son, the hope of the world.
And lastly Christmas is about God's hope- God gives us hope. Hope of a solution, hope through his love and savior. Hope for the future embodied in the baby in the manger. Hope of life because of God's gift, Jesus Christ.
Have a great Christmas.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Deep thoughts, part 1

Ok, now for some deep thoughts from a shallow mind. Realize that profound is just a word to me, and I live in the world of application (so what do I do with that?) So my thoughts will not stir you to great heights, but I do hope they will encourage you.

1. God is good...ALL the time. We say that, sing about it, read it in the bible, but I don't think we really grasp how big this truth is. The goodness of God is foundational to the very understanding of the bible, and of God himself. The fact that God is good is core to the Judeo-Christian faith.

A.W. Tozer wrote in The Knowledge of the Holy, "That God is good is taught or implied on every page of the Bible and must be received as an article of faith as impregnable as the throne of God. It is a foundation stone for all sound thought about God and is necessary to moral sanity. To allow that God could be other than good is to deny the validity of all thought and end ill the negation of every moral judgment. If God is not good, then there can be no distinction between kindness and cruelty, and heaven can be hell and hell, heaven."

Jesus himself said something very interesting, Mar 10:18 "And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone."

It appears that our understanding of goodness is distorted. We consider a lot of people good, but Jesus made a very dogmatic statement, "No one is good except God alone." I am a little troubled by that verse. I think, in my mind, I disagree, but in my heart I know it's right.

So what is goodness? Again I defer to Tozer, "The goodness of God is that which disposes Him to be kind, cordial, benevolent, and full of good will toward men. He is tenderhearted and of quick sympathy, and His unfailing attitude toward all moral beings is open, frank, and friendly. By His nature He is inclined to bestow blessedness and He takes holy pleasure in the happiness of His people."

And what is amazing to me is that this attribute of God never changes. He's always this way towards us. He is always good to us...in fact that's what Christmas is all about- the goodness of God coming to earth, taking on flesh, and dwelling with us to provide what we could not attain on our own- LIFE.

As you celebrate Christmas bask in the goodness of God as you think about what this time means- God's love, his goodness made flesh.

(part 2 coming soon...)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Impossible jobs

As you know, if you have stopped by this blog, I love strange pictures especially if they are "different." For me the picture inspires my thoughts, and off I go. This one has been in my library for a while...not sure what to make of it, but I knew I would use it at some point. I think it's simply a wonderful illustration of our attempts to tame the "whales" of our lives, to do the impossible. It's such a silly visual that you know it's not real, and yet...and yet I find myself trying to do the same thing in my own life...trying to tame the "whales" of my life. The reality is that I often try to tackle the task with the wrong equipment. A bridle and saddle is no solution for a killer whale.

Let me invite you to give this picture a title, add a verse if you wish, and tell a "whale story" of your own....have fun.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Giving good directions



I'm reading a book by J. P. Moreland right now, and it has me thinking about the messages I communicate to the world through my life.

One thing that's clear from the bible is that our lives are to be a light to the world, a sign directing them to God. I have been thinking- can people read my sign? Can people see my light? Does it direct them to God, or are they more confused than before they met me?

I am always amused by the Braille signs in elevators. I have wondered, do the blind know where those little signs are? I know it helps them IF they can find it. In the same way does my life look like Braille to those passing by? Does my "sign" (my life) direct people to God?

These questions aren't offered for me to answer. I'm simply suggesting we ask the questions for our own lives. Does my life give light to the blind, the lost, around me? Are the directions on my sign (my life) clear enough to read? Does my life point to God? Am I drawing people to Christ or confusing them?

J. P. Moreland has me thinking....that's all. If you want to know the title it's "Love your God with all your mind." A great book, but very challenging!


Mat 5:15 If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand.
Mat 5:16 Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand--shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.
(The Message)

Rejoicing in the harvest


I received a great report from Robyn, one of our missionaries working in Europe. It was so encouraging to read her report and the stories of those she is leading to faith in Christ. It's what we are all invited to do, and yet in the madness of just "doing life" we forget our primary role- reaching our world for Christ.
Now, let me make clear this post is not intended to inflict guilt. I simply want to celebrate what God is doing in Robyn's life. She's in a foreign culture, learning a different language, reaching out to some who have never heard of Christ, and what a joy it is to read her report of lives changed. It's great to see God bring in his harvest. It's great to see that he can use people like us to make an eternal difference. It's great to know that the lives we touch for Christ are ETERNALLY changed.
Thanks for the good report, Robyn!

Joh 4:35 "Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.
Joh 4:36 "Already he who reaps is receiving wages and is gathering fruit for life eternal; so that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Tired of the curse



I'm so tired of the curse. It weighs the human race down with such a load that it's impossible to do and be what we were meant for. It feels much like this little ass....with such a load it's impossible for him to do what he was meant to do. What can he do? On his own he's helpless!

And so are we. Apart from the saving work of Christ to die for us, take the load of sin, and free us to be what he designed us to be, we are forever defeated. Thankfully Christ has died and risen again to pay for our sins and give us new life....

...and yet....I am still waiting for the hope of my salvation to arrive and finish what he has started. I can't wait for that day, but until then I must admit I'm tired of the curse. I'm tired of what it does in me, and how it affects those I love. I'm weary of illness, death and sin. I'm tired of what the curse has done to us and our world. I can't wait for the day when all will be made right as God intended. I can't wait for sickness and death to end. I can't wait for tears to stop. I can't wait until our enemy is forever defeated.

Until then I pray for my dear friends struggling with illness. I pray for the lost I know who so desperately need a savior and have no hope. I pray for the church, the bride, waiting for her groom. I pray for those around me to find the true meaning of this season and find the Messiah who takes away the load of sin that makes us unable to please the God who made us.

Until that day...the day when Christ returns...I will trust the Lord. My hope is in a risen Christ who will come for us soon, and deal with this dreaded curse of sin, sickness and death. Come Lord Jesus, come.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Amazing people

I've been thinking about some of the people I know this morning. I must admit that I do hang out in strange circles...mostly among Christians, but let me add that there are among us some amazing people. People who are walking with God and are different because of it. I don't mean by that to say that their lives are easy. Actually they have very difficult lives, but it seems that those difficulties bring to them a "flavoring" that only trials and problems can accomplish.

I have been thinking of a dear couple that we have become friends with who have lost a son. It has broken their hearts, but I am watching them both grow in faith far beyond what they even now realize. In the midst of their grief God is working.

I have been thinking about a sweet young couple that I have known for years and now read their stories online as they serve God as missionaries in another country. I am watching them reach out to the lost around them with the love of Christ. I am so thrilled to see what God is doing in their lives.

I have been thinking about a dear couple whom we have known for years. They have had a real love for God through all the years we have known them, and yet their children have broken their hearts. We have cried with them, and often just sat with them and listened. They love God, and are following him through very dark times in their lives. Yes, they do ask "why?", but know the answers may not come in this life, and yet they follow God.

I have been thinking of others over the years...many more than I can write about here, who have followed God, loved him and served him. They weren't all beautiful people. They were not, for the most part, popular...just ordinary people...people you would pass in the store and never see, but people who are amazing because they have allowed God to use them.

People like Fran, a man whose joy in life was greeting people and handing out bulletins at the first church I pastored. He was a factory worker, just an ordinary guy, but his passion was making people feel welcome in God's house, and he did.

What I find is that God doesn't use the great, wealthy, powerful and beautiful....he uses US. He uses those who think they have nothing to give. He uses the broken, the hurting, the discouraged. He works through those least likely to impress the world. He uses us so HE will get all the glory. I'm so glad that he does. I am one of those who the world does not notice, and yet God can use me and be glorified. In the passage below I have always found great encouragement because I have found myself there- God uses "the things that are not (me), so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God." He uses nothings like me to work in his kingdom. I am so thrilled that I can be part of what he is doing in his kingdom. Imagine that, a thing that is not...filled with his spirit and employed for his service, making a difference in time and eternity....wow!

If he can use me he can use anyone....and HE DOES! So, be encouraged. God can work in you, no matter what you think you offer, and he will be glorified through what we bring...broken lives, shattered dreams, tired hearts and all...God can use each one.

1Co 1:26 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble;
1Co 1:27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong,
1Co 1:28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are,
1Co 1:29 so that no man may boast before God.
1Co 1:30 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,
1Co 1:31 so that, just as it is written, "LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD."

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Great books



I have had a few days off, and am catching up on my reading. I have a stack of books with me, and took some time yesterday to read a classic by Phillip Yancey. Although he doesn't define grace directly the stories he tells define it better than he could have done with a clear theological statement or definition. It's a great book, and very encouraging. It has made me deal with some heart attitudes of my own.

I find that the more I learn about the grace of God the more I want to know. I truly believe that the grace of God is one of the least understood truths of the Christian faith.

Years ago C.S. Lewis walked in on a discussion of his friends. They were discussing what made Christianity different from all the other religions. Lewis quickly responded, "grace!" That is the defining difference. In every other religion man is constantly trying to please the gods of their faith, only Christianity teaches that all God offers is free of charge!

If you're looking for a great book to read I would invite you to read Yancey's book.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Blessed!


As one of God's sheep I have the joy of helping other sheep find the way. Helping other sheep like me find the son. My task is to keep my eyes on the son, and lead others to him. It's a great joy to be able to serve God, and be involved in the lives of others. I so love people, and desire that they find the son, and walk with him. He wants to bless us, but not with money, health and prosperity (although he may), but he wants to bless us with salvation, with life, with his presence, with peace, with hope, with joy, with HIM.
It's really what God has called all us sheep to- to know him and to help other sheep find him too. The blessing?
Knowing God.
There are many teaching the church that all of the blessings of God are HERE and NOW- money, health and prosperity.
They have not really understood the bible. They don't know God's heart. They are focused on here and now. They are focused on ME, not HIM.
God's desire is that we focus on HIM!
It is, in fact all about HIM, not me.
We sheep are so easily drawn away by strange shepherds who want us to focus on our needs, our desires, our passions, our NOW, but here's God's heart-
Amo 5:4 For thus says the LORD to the house of Israel, "Seek Me that you may live.
Amo 5:5 "But do not resort to Bethel And do not come to Gilgal, Nor cross over to Beersheba; For Gilgal will certainly go into captivity And Bethel will come to trouble.
Amo 5:6 "Seek the LORD that you may live,

Mat 6:33 "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Seek the best blessing any sheep can find....seek the shepherd, seek HIM...and let him take care of the rest.
That's being blessed!

CONGRATULATIONS!



It's a great day for us. Our daughter, early this morning, had her 4th baby...a little boy. Her labor was just a few minutes, and she had the baby before the midwife could get there. Everything is great, and he is a cute kid! We were in such a rush to get up there at 1 am in the morning that we forgot our camera, but fortunately our dear friend and fellow parent, Jeannette, brought her camera so here's a first picture of the boy.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Encouraging thoughts from a friend

It's hard to always have something great to say, and most of the time our grand thoughts are few and far between, but once in a while you will read the words of another person and they are wonderfully written, perfect for the day. I've read one like that today, so let me recommend a great blog for today. It was written by a friend of ours, Kathy. Her words today are wonderful. Let me encourage you to read it. You can find it here.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Something to make you smile

Here's a video that will make you smile. We all need that sometimes. Have a great day.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Winter is coming!



Winter is coming to Texas tonight! It will be cold.....I don't like cold. I moved to the south from Iowa to get AWAY from the cold....but here it comes...ice, snow, freezing rain, 30 degrees, WINTER! Did I mention that I don't like cold?

I know that seasons are one of God's great creations, and in fact it's a big help to nature to have these changes. I just wish it weren't so cold. Now I know that I sound old, but there's more to it than that. I really do love long days of sunlight, warm weather, and gentle breezes...it makes me smile (I guess I should live in Hawaii.) But winter- short nights, cold, bad weather, snow, gloomy skies, cold, ice, heavy coats, biting winds, did I mention cold?

Ok, ok...enough already. I'm done. I won't complain anymore...I'm just glad I'm not a penguin.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Big claims

I have been studying Isaiah 40-53 for a while. I find myself strangely drawn to this section of the book, and am reading it over and over again. It is the "mountain top" of the book. It contains some amazing claims. In this section God makes claims that must be addressed by those who are truly seeking after God.

Here's just one of God's claims in this passage:

Isa 45:5 "I am the LORD, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God. I will gird you, though you have not known Me;
Isa 45:6 That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun That there is no one besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other,
Isa 45:7 The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these.


This whole section of scripture is filled with this kind of language. God is trying to make as clear as possible this one fact- HE IS THE ONLY GOD! Now, in a politically correct world that is not accepted well, yet God said it. The very concept of "GOD" means that there can only be one...there isn't room for more than one sovereign creator. The God of the bible is claiming that place. He claims to be the only GOD.

He continues on in Isaiah to say something like this, "Let me prove I am God. I will tell you what is going to happen before it does (Omniscience). I challenge any other "gods" to do the same thing." Prophecy is one of the great evidences that God is God...he tells us what's coming before it does. No other "god" has ever done that.

I have also been reading Revelation. I am amazed to watch as God reveals himself as GOD to the world in days ahead, and still they reject him. So it's no surprise that the only God who exists is rejected for cheap copies, gods we can control. It's much easier to worship a "god" you design rather than the one who insists on being king in our lives.

I talked about this on Sunday, and am still feeding on the idea of God as king...king of everything, and longing to be king in me. I'm so blessed that the God who is has reached out to us, and wants to have a relationship with us as father, as God and as king.

Isa 45:18 For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited), "I am the LORD, and there is none else.

Monday, November 27, 2006

seas 'n greetings


Well, thanksgiving is past, now it's time for Christmas! The holidays have arrived. So, let's burst forth with mad expenditures of money to buy things for those we love.....
...but maybe, just maybe there's a better way to "do Christmas," I know many have tried to do something different...homemade gifts, gift certificates, a family dinner together with no gifts (except for the kids), and a host of other ideas to make this time of year more personal...more about Jesus. I would like to challenge us to think of ways to celebrate Christmas that would be "out of the gift box." What do you think? How could we make it about HIM, and not about "the stuff?"

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Problems

I turned my laptop on the other day, and it wouldn't load....it said "script errors", and "missing .dll files", and frozen screens, and other scary stuff. I am one of those guys that predates computers, so I panicked! I called our computer guy, but it's Thanksgiving, so he's out till next week. So, I did what any foolish novice will try to do- I tried to fix it myself! And believe it or not (not is ok), I fixed it....now don't ask me how, or what I did, but it's working again. So, forgive my absence, I had a good reason. Ok, just wanted to update you.

Now to loftier things. I am speaking again tomorrow. I am having fun, and I think the body is as well, but I must admit it is hard. I hadn't done this weekly for a number of years, so preparing for a message weekly is difficult. I often feel very inadequate for the task, as I should.
For tomorrow I feel like the little boy with a few loaves of bread and two fish- I feel ill equipped to feed so many, so....as any good minister of the gospel does I prepare as well as I can and pray like crazy! I would appreciate your prayers as well.

I'll let you know how it goes tomorrow.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Have a great Thanksgiving!


It's time for turkey and gorging today.
Time to be with family.
Time to rest.
Time to say "Thank you" to the God who loves us and provided for us.
Take time to celebrate, take time to be with family, take time to rest....and have a great holiday!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Celebrating "here"


I am amazed at my own thoughts at times. I find that I often think about "somewhere else." We are such funny creatures. We are so seldom content with where we are, who we are, and what we are doing. We all want to be somewhere else, doing something different. We miss so much with our wandering desires, our dreams of "something better."

Paul wrote these daunting words-

Phi 4:11 Actually, I don't have a sense of needing anything personally. I've learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances.
Phi 4:12 I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty.
Phi 4:13 Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.

I have lived a lot of years on this poor planet, and yet contentment often eludes me. I "want" something, not sure what, something more...something else...somewhere other than here. It's a terrible disease- this discontent that we feel. Why can't we find peace with who we are, where we are and doing what God has given us to do? But we don't, we can't, we won't....so peace evaporates before our eyes.

I know I have written about this before, and I visit it again because I see such a struggle with this issue of contentment. How do we sort all of this out? What do we pursue as Godly desires, and when do we simply rest in his provision? It's a walk with the Lord that brings clarity to all of this, but it's not easy to achieve. It's a challenge to find that place, that walk, that peace of contentment with here, now, what I'm doing, who I am.

Lord, for me, help me to find that place with you where the calm of contentment brings clarity to my life. Lead me to that place, that knowledge, that relationship. Help me to find peace with here, now, and what you have given me to do.

As Bucaroo Bonzai said, "Just remember, wherever you go, there you are."

Saturday, November 18, 2006

33 years ago today...

Time passes so fast. It was only yesterday that one of my best days ever happened, but as I look back it has been 33 years!

33 years ago today was a Sunday.

33 years ago today I was the minister of evangelism at a bible church in Ft. Smith, Arkansas working with a college friend of mine.

33 years ago today, at about this time in the day, we were in the morning services....you know- doing church. My old friend, David Shibley, was pastor. We had a growing ministry we were trying to care for, and it was exciting!

33 years ago today, when the invitation was given, a young lady came forward to receive Christ as her savior. I prayed with her. Talked with her. It was great to see another person in the kingdom. (It's funny to me how a little meeting will turn out to be a big thing in the years ahead.)

33 years ago today, in the evening, we had a baptism service, and this young lady came back to be baptized with her family. I visited with her and her dad and uncle after the service. She was a real sweet girl. She had my attention. (And did I mention she was very pretty too?)

33 years ago today is when I met my wonderful wife, Joye. She was that young lady. I am blessed!

33 years...seems like such a short time to me now, but what a wonderful day it was in both of our lives.

Our lives are so short and how quickly they fly by. In each of our lives are days like mine and Joye's- days that may not seem like much right now, but are turning points in our lives. This is one of those days for us.


Pro 18:22 He who finds a wife finds a good thing And obtains favor from the LORD.


Pro 31:10 An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Getting to know the Father


Pictures of dads and kids always make us smile. It's such an important part of life to have a dad, to have a dad who loves you. So many in our world don't have a dad that loves them, many don't even know who their dad is.

The New Testament introduces a concept that was not a theme of the Old Testament- that God could be our Father, that we could talk to him as Father, as "daddy." Jesus taught this new concept in the gospels, and

for us in the church it doesn't seem foreign, but for the Jewish nation of the first century it was a big deal! They did not view God as "Father." They didn't feel that they had that kind of access to him, but Jesus used this language in the sermon on the mount and redefined the relationship God wants with his people- a relationship of Father and child. It was, and is a big thing to know that we can have an intimate relationship with the living God who made us. A relationship where we call our creator "daddy." Wow!

1Jo 3:1 What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it--we're called children of God! That's who we really are. But that's also why the world doesn't recognize us or take us seriously, because it has no idea who he is or what he's up to.
1Jo 3:2 But friends, that's exactly who we are: children of God. And that's only the beginning. Who knows how we'll end up! What we know is that when Christ is openly revealed, we'll see him--and in seeing him, become like him.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A personal psalm


In a class I teach I asked the students to write a Psalm. I really loved the one that Janet wrote. It has such a wonderful flavor of the kind of Psalm that David would have written. I hope you enjoy her psalm, and let me encourage you to write your own psalm. I would love for you to share them in your comments. What is your psalm?


Psalm 000
Written by Janet *******
November 12, 2006


For the director of music. With stringed instruments.

What a glorious morning to be on this earth, O Lord!
I praise your Holy Name and all the blessings you have bestowed upon me.
You’ve given me eyes to see and ears to hear in your beautiful world.

I joyfully start my day with a run through your path of peace.
You give me strength to go further and faster than I could do on my own.
I see the moonbeam fade and the sunrise to the east –
your symbol of a new day full of promise and hope.

Selah

Hear my prayer, O Lord, as I prepare for the day ahead.
May your Holy Spirit give me peace during times of tribulation.
Give others the comfort that only you alone can provide.
May your love endure forever and ever.


Monday, November 13, 2006

Life lessons


I have always loved this picture. It's so amazing that this lighthouse can stand against the waves that pound it daily, but I recently read that the designers of these lighthouses figured out a way to link the blocks together so that when it's hit by a wave the blocks of the building are pushed together, tighter, and the building is stronger because of the waves that hit it.
I'm finding that I am becoming that way as well. Problems that would have knocked me down a few years ago only annoy me now. I am becoming stronger because of the problems. Now, I must admit I don't like difficult times any more than anyone else...they are very annoying, but I am beginning to see what God is up to- he's using these times to get my attention and my trust. The struggles are making me stronger in my faith.
I wish someone would have told me all of this years ago, but I don't think I would have understood it as well as I do now, having gone through all of these waves myself. The problems of life do take a toll- there are scars from the fight, but the inner strength we gain, the faith developed is amazing to see. We have a dear friend and her husband who have gone through a very difficult time and her recent post is wonderfully written about her walk of faith. May I encourage you to read it? I think it will be a real encouragement. Here's her blog- http://scrappuccino.blogspot.com/

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Thank you!




















For all of you who have served this country in the armed services, thank you!
Your sacrifice has made this country a great place to live.
Thank you all!

(It's also my birthday! My dad always told me that the parades were to celebrate my birthday. So it took me a while to figure out that it was for the veterans, not for me.)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Dry days, part 2


I'm blessed to find that I'm not in the desert alone.

Several of you have shared that you are "out here" with me.

Thank you for your wonderful love and comfort.

Others have offered to "bring me a drink."

Your love and support is a very real blessing. Thank you so much.

I think my problem, and the problem I see in others is the desire to always be near an oasis, to always have water near. I want "cool water" available to me all the time. But if God didn't take me to the desert once in a while I wouldn't know how to trust him.

The desert is the place where I do not have what I need, and so I look to God. It's in the desert where faith is built. In the desert is where I see miracles. It's here where I really hear God.

When everything is easy and comfortable I'm not as sensitive to God's voice. Elijah found that true when God led him to the mountain of Horeb. It was there that he heard God's still small voice. It was there, in the desert, where he met with God.

If that's where God leads people so they can meet with him then I think I will stay out here a little while longer....I'll get to the oasis eventually, but for now I'm listening for that still small voice...water can wait.

1Pe 1:3-7 (The Message)- What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we've been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven--and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you'll have it all--life healed and whole. I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it's your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Priceless things

I found this story on a great blog page from India. It was so good I "borrowed" it.

"A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation. The traveler left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime. But, a few days later, he came back to return the stone to the wise woman. "I've been thinking," he said. "I know how valuable this stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me this stone."Sometimes it's not the wealth you have but what's inside you that others need. "

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Dry days



I find myself in a dry place. I'm in the word every day, but....

I feel like I'm in the part of my journey where I am now walking through a desert. I'm in the word each day, but still feeling dry and thirsty.

What do I do?

How do I get through this?

Keep "walking"...God has promised to provide, there must be water up ahead.

I can't stop here in the desert and be mad at God. I know there is water somewhere because I have been refreshed by it many times before.

Just because it dry here, right now, doesn't mean anything.

I will keep walking, these are the times when I know I will see miracles, don't forget about the rock of Horeb, gushing water for 2,000,000 children of Israel in the desert....the same desert I'm walking through.

Don't forget that God has given you water and met your needs your entire life. He won't stop now.....just keep walking.....


Joh 7:37 Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.
Joh 7:38 "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'"

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Life happens


I love faces! There is so much to see- time, life, sorrows, happiness, regrets, satisfaction, hope, fears....all of it shows in the face. I sometimes wonder about a persons life when I meet them- what caused those wrinkles? Why are they so sad? What makes them so happy? What happened in their life to create that heavy brow? What history has happened in this life to create that look? What have they gone through?
We each live out our choices and over the years they add up to a life...lived well or lived poorly...the choices show, and become part of who we are. It's the art work we are creating called our faces.
Once in a while I will see a smile on an old face....it's hard to do, but they try.
What makes us smile?
Is it an easy life?
A lot of money?
No problems?
I have found one thing that will bring a smile. In fact it's the only place in the bible where the word "smile" is used. It comes from an understanding of ME, and an understanding of GOD. When I get those two things right then the little things of life stay little. When I lose focus on who is God, then I have problems.
Make it your goal to let God be God,
and smile because he is!

Psa 39:1-13- I said, "I will guard my ways That I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle While the wicked are in my presence." I was mute and silent, I refrained even from good, And my sorrow grew worse. My heart was hot within me, While I was musing the fire burned; Then I spoke with my tongue: "LORD, make me to know my end And what is the extent of my days; Let me know how transient I am. "Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths, And my lifetime as nothing in Your sight; Surely every man at his best is a mere breath. Selah. "Surely every man walks about as a phantom; Surely they make an uproar for nothing; He amasses riches and does not know who will gather them. "And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You. "Deliver me from all my transgressions; Make me not the reproach of the foolish. "I have become mute, I do not open my mouth, Because it is You who have done it. "Remove Your plague from me; Because of the opposition of Your hand I am perishing. "With reproofs You chasten a man for iniquity; You consume as a moth what is precious to him; Surely every man is a mere breath. Selah.
"Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear to my cry; Do not be silent at my tears; For I am a stranger with You, A sojourner like all my fathers. "Turn Your gaze away from me, that I may smile again Before I depart and am no more."

Friday, November 03, 2006

Living in two worlds

A Christian is a very strange creation- living in the world of flesh and matter AND at the same time indwelt by the very spirit of the God who made us. Made alive because of His presence.

It's a strange creation. Paul described it this way,

2 Cor. 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

What an amazing creation of God- a fallen man, saved by faith in Christ AND indwelt by His Spirit, given life he didn't have, to live eternally in the presence of God. In this time, until we enter eternity, we live in time AND in eternity, in the flesh AND in the Spirit, reading His word AND illuminated by His Spirit, walking in the flesh, but living by His Spirit.

Living in two worlds- the world of the flesh AND Spirit. No wonder we look so strange to the world!

Personal Mission Statement

I've noticed that most businesses have a mission statement. It's their statement of who they are and what they want to do. Here are a few of them:

Microsoft- "At Microsoft, we work to help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential. This is our mission. Everything we do reflects this mission and the values that make it possible."

Chick-fil-A- "Be America's Best Quick-Service Restaurant"

Honda- "Maintaining a global viewpoint, we are dedicated to supplying products of the highest quality at a reasonable price for worldwide customer satisfaction."

That's only three, but you get the idea. Do you have a mission statement, a personal one? Do you have an overarching mission statement for your life? I know that businesses and churches all have them, but I find that few people have ever thought of such a thing for their lives. What do you want to be "when you grow up?" What is the goal of your life, your mission statement?

If asked to write one what would your mission statement be?

Here are a couple examples of personal mission statements-

"For me to live is Christ, to die is gain." - Paul

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." -Jim Elliott

"He who dies with the most toys wins." -bumper sticker

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Too busy?


Do you find that you are too busy? I have found myself there. It's amazing that we fly through a week and have to schedule time with God as if he were just another appointment in our lives. What sad lives we have when we get so busy that we have to "fit" God into our days.
But most of us are overwhelmed with the demands of life- commute to work, long work days, commute home, soccer, baseball, dinner, homework, a little time watching TV and then we crumble into bed...oh yeah, forgot time with God...maybe tomorrow.
Sound like your life? It's mine right now. I find I'm "fitting" God into my life instead of fitting my life around him. I feel poorer for it. It's not the way I want to live....life IS Christ. He's not someone to fit into what I do, he's all of it.
Now, don't let my thoughts frustrate you, because I know that many are living just as I do at times....too busy....no time for God, but let me share Jesus' words to his disciples (and I think they apply to us as well.) Jesus wants us to rest, to have time with him, to refresh. We cannot function without that time with him.

Mar 6:31 And He *said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while." (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.)

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The adventure begins

http://www.talesfromthebranches.com/

Brandon, Jenny and their son, Deacon are on their way to Guatamala in about 36 hours. It has been an amazing adventure to watch God prepare them to be missionaries. They are heading to another country to serve God. I am proud to call them my friends, and honored to serve God with them. But more than that I'm humbled by their faith.

I have put their web page address above. I invite you to pray for them, support them, and keep in touch with them.

I can't wait to see what God does in and through their lives.

What adventure is God preparing you for?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Trusting in the right things


(a tree by Hermon Springs, Israel)

A friend of mine reminded me of a passage in Jeremiah that got me thinking. He was captivated by the contrast of the passage. Let me share the passage and let's talk about it-

Jer 17:5-8- Thus says the LORD, "Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind And makes flesh his strength, And whose heart turns away from the LORD. "For he will be like a bush in the desert And will not see when prosperity comes, But will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, A land of salt without inhabitant. "Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD And whose trust is the LORD. "For he will be like a tree planted by the water, That extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit.

God is sure good at making things clear. He leaves us with no confusion about the lives of those who trust in him and those who don't. What a contrast! God makes it clear how these lives will turn out, doesn't he? To be a "tumbleweed" or a tree with an endless supply of water....let's see...which would be better? Wow, what a contrast. So it's obvious that who you trust in is really important. Trust in one who gives you some stability and life or trust in one who leaves you driven and tossed by every wind.

Sounds like it should be an easy choice, but I'm always surprised by my choices....I often realize that I have trusted in man in one way or another, and I am like that old tumbleweed when I do...unsure, unstable, not attached, not secure, wandering. Trusting in man is an unstable place to stand. I know better, but I do it so easily....that trusting in man thing. Trusting in man, at its best, will leave me dry, brittle, unstable, driven by every wind of emotion, lifeless, temporary.

But what a difference to trust in God...a tree by the stream...deep roots getting water...green leaves...not worried about drought. Now that's stability, security, life. I truly want to be like that tree- stable, strong, alive, productive, enduring.

Lord, help me to trust in the right things. Help me to keep my eyes on you. Help me to trust in you alone. I want to be like that tree by the spring...green and alive even in a drought. Make me aware of when I foolishly put my trust in man, and help me quickly deal with that sin. Thanks for being my stream of living water.

Friday, October 27, 2006

I love missionaries!


It's missions week at our church. There are a number of missionaries who have come from across the globe to join us. I love missionaries! They are such strange and wonderful people. When I say strange I mean it in the best AND obvious ways- who would leave home and family to go to another country, live as a foreigner, learn a new language, suffer hardship and all that goes with being a missionary to preach the gospel? You have to be a little strange to do that, and they are. But they are so wonderful as well. Men and women, broken vessels, available for God to use them. I know one who is with us this week that has come a long way. When I first met with him he and his wife were near divorce, and now they oversee a ministry together in another country! God is amazing. It's just wonderful to see who God will use to reach the world.
He uses strange people, people who are available. Sometimes he even uses me!

Mat 9:36-38- Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He *said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. "Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest."

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Happy Birthday!


Today is my sweet wife's birthday! Joye is ____ years old. (I have been married long enough to know what not to say.)

If you have time in your day stop by her blog and wish her a happy birthday.
Because of a missions conference, grandbaby duty and other things going on her day is filled with doing for others, and that's a perfect description of who she is.

Happy Birthday, sweetie!

Her blog is joyeful things.

Prov. 31:10-12- A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.

Seasons


Genesis 8:22- "As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease."

Psalm 104:19- The moon marks off the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down.

What a great idea God had when he made seasons!

It's starting to cool down here in Texas, and it is a welcome season for us who have lived with the heat and the high energy bills, the non-stop air conditioning and the lack of rain for 5 months.

Cooler weather, rain, shorter days...all God's ideas.

Thanks God, what a blessing to have the change, to have cool weather, to be able to see the changes in the year- the falling leaves, the shorter days, migration of the birds, and a hundred other changes (seasons) that make this time of year so refreshing.

I even like the need to wear a jacket!

Thanks Lord for the seasons.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The God of impossible things


“When pigs fly is an informal way to joke that you will never do something. Example: "Do you think you will ever work at that company again?" Reply: "When pigs fly!"Pigs are heavy animals that stay close to the ground and do not fly, so when pigs fly is a time that will never come. Example: "Do you think your brother will be successful?" Reply: "When pigs fly he will."When pigs fly is a time that will never come because pigs will never fly. Example: "Will you ever take her on a date?" Reply: "Sure: When pigs fly!"” -- goenglish.com

My wife and I have been talking about the way God works. It seems, at times, that he isn't working at all, and then along comes a miracle. We understand so little of what God is doing, and more importantly, how he is working in our lives. I visit with people who have been praying for a long time for a special need and nothing appears to be happening. We talked about that and the stories we know of missionaries who have given everything and still were killed for their faith. And there are a hundred other things in my head banging around, screaming for answers. I hate the fact that my vision of things is so narrow, so small. I want to understand the why, the how, the reason. I want to know what God is doing. I want all of this to make sense, and to be honest sometimes it simply doesn't. I know that God is in control, but there are days that we each wonder, "is he really?" It is a world that does not make sense- not completely, not yet. It's a world where, at the moment, things seem to be going wrong. But there is a day when “pigs will fly.” There is a day when the seemingly impossible will happen- everything will be ruled in real time by God (although he is ruling even now.) Sin will not be "in charge," but God will rule on planet earth. Evil will be dealt with, and the apparent impossible will happen- everything will be as we, in our hearts, know it should be. I think that even that sense of how it should be is put in us by God. So, I look forward to the day when the seemingly impossible will happen, and I know that day is coming soon….

Rev 21:1-7- Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away." And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." And He *said, "Write, for these words are faithful and true." Then He said to me, "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. "He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son."

Monday, October 23, 2006

Making "stuff"

Proverbs 20:12- The hearing ear and the seeing eye, The LORD has made both of them.

God is so amazing! It's shown in what he has made. I easily take it for granted at times, but everything was wonderfully made by God, and he did a great job! Look at the eye, for example. It's one of God's most intricate, detailed creations. The complexity of the eye confounds evolutionists. How could something like the eye evolve? The answer is simple- it didn't. I know, I know....science would call me simple, a religious extremist, but that doesn't deal with the miracles God has made that science cannot explain, like the eye. The whole discussion involves a lot of stuff that would frankly bore most of us, but wow......what a wonderful creation, all done by God with such great ease. Here's a funny example of how amazing God is-

Gen 1:14-19- Then God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth"; and it was so. God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also. God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good. There was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.

This passage is from the creation account, and in the middle of this passage is a sentence that has always made me laugh a little. In the middle of his work of creation God makes the sun and the moon, and in the passage he adds a short sentence, almost as an afterthought- "He made the stars also."

Billions and billions of stars and planets and all they get is a short sentence to describe their creation...a five word sentence to describe a creation we cannot even measure in size or number!

An afterthought to God, "oh yeah, and I made the stars too." No problem for God. That's the kind of God I want! One who almost forgets to mention something that is beyond our imagination. A big God! And he is! Psalms talks about him in this way,

Psa 100- Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth. Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing. Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The touch


I love the stories in the gospels. They give such a wonderful picture of the love of God as Jesus touches the needs of people.
One of my favorite stories in the gospels is in Mark 1. May I share it with you, and then make some observations?

Mar 1:40-45- And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, "If You are willing, You can make me clean." Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, "I am willing; be cleansed." Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. And He sternly warned him and immediately sent him away, and He *said to him, "See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them." But he went out and began to proclaim it freely and to spread the news around, to such an extent that Jesus could no longer publicly enter a city, but stayed out in unpopulated areas; and they were coming to Him from everywhere.

Each time I read this story I have to stop and just pause for a moment...it takes my breath away. You see, this is an amazing story of the love of God.

The problem for us is that we miss so much because we don't know a lot about the times in which this happened. In this time in Jewish history lepers were common. The law required they live apart from those who were well, and if someone came near they were to holler, "unclean, unclean!"

For a jew to touch a leper meant they were unclean as well. It was a very isolating illness. Not only was it incurable, but you had to leave family, friends, and community and live apart, untouched. Untouched by your wife, untouched by your sweet children, untouched by anyone. It wasn't just the illness that was the problem...it was also a complete loss of human contact.

This man, in desperation, did the unthinkable- he came up to Jesus UNANNOUNCED! In Luke the story tells us that this man was covered with leprosy. He had been sick for a long time, and had been alone for years…away from anyone he loved. He broke the law, he came to Jesus unannounced and asked for a miracle.

I can just hear the disciples and the Pharisees when they realized who this was that had come in unannounced. Their voices of protest, their screams of rage, their revulsion over this breaking of the law must have caused a great commotion.
And yet this man came, and asked for a miracle, “if you want to, you can make me clean,” but the miracle he needed was more than healing from leprosy. He didn’t know that it wasn’t just a disease that had scarred him. He needed the touch of God in his life as well. He needed a human touch.
And that’s what Jesus did. He did the unthinkable. I can just hear the protests as Jesus reached out his hand and TOUCHED THE LEPER and said, “I want to!” The screams from those around must have been deafening! "Oh, no…now Jesus is unclean as well!" And yet, it was the very thing this man needed most….the touch.

Yes, he was healed. Yes, in that moment his life was changed. But something more happened- God touched the leper, while he was still in his sickness, unclean, dirty, ugly. The love of God touched the broken, lonely heart of this man and changed his life.

It’s a wonderful picture of what God did for me! While I was still a sinner (leper), Christ touched me, and he did it even while I was lost, sick, a sinner. He touched me, and forgave me, and gave me the very thing I didn’t even know I needed- His love (his touch).

It changed this man’s life. It has changed my life. This man couldn’t stop talking about it, and I know he physically touched each person he told.

God’s love has changed my life. I can’t stop talking about it either.

Do you know what he’s done for us? Do you realize that even when we were lepers he touched us? His love reached us even when we were lost and forgave us, and made us clean—inside and out.

The touch of God’s love- how amazing! That God would reach out to me, love me, forgive me, and touch me…I’m awed in that reality. I must tell someone….there are still lepers out there who need to be touched….they don’t know yet…..more later, I have to find a “leper” to touch........

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The purpose of doors


I can't help it...I have to talk about purpose. But not just any old every day purpose. I want to discuss the purpose of doors. This picture brought it to my mind, and got me thinking- what are doors supposed to do? If a door doesn't do what it was meant to do can we still call it a door? If it's not doing what it was designed to do is it fulfilling the purpose of the maker? You see where I'm going already, don't you?
Doors are designed to make it possible for us to enter/exit a building. It's the human portal. It locks out those who are not welcome, and grants entry to those who are. It protects the inhabitants, and is only able to be opened by another. The door has no ability, on it's own, to do what it was meant to do- open and close, but must accomplish it's purpose with the help of someone else.
I'm the same way. I have a purpose- to glorify God, and I can't do it without the help of God. He is the one who must empower me to do what I was designed to do, to be what I was meant to be, to function as designed.
I don't want to end up with a sign on my life- "this life does not glorify God."

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Life is messy


Not everything turns out as you had hoped.
Not every dream comes true.
Not every friend stays close.
Not every prayer is answered.
Not every fear happens.
(Sounds like Ecclesiastes, doesn't it?)
I've just been thinking about people and their lives....choices. I have lived through the results of the choices of one dear friend, and just today visited another member of our church family who made some bad choices...this dear saint is in hospital because of the choices...their comment to me was, "I made a foolish choice."
We all do that....the sad fate of sinful men and women in a fallen world...we all make poor choices. I'm always in awe as I read 2 Samuel 11 as David makes a whole chapter full of bad choices, and God said nothing. He simply "stepped off the stage" and waited for David to play out the story. David took another man's wife, tried to cover up the sin, and finally had the husband killed. At the end of the chapter God says this,
"But the thing that David had done was evil in the sight of the LORD."
Life is messy! For all our desire to live for God we still sin. We still make mistakes. We still choose poorly.
God is so good to us to graciously love us, care for us, and draw us to himself. It is such a blessing to already have our sins dealt with at the cross. It's such a glorious thing that God has done to forgive our every sin and take care of it all when we receive him as our savior.
The rest of my life is a growing into God dependence, allowing him to do in and through me what I cannot do on my own (note Romans 7). It's wonderful to have the sin issue taken care of, now my life is focused on the constant goal of setting myself aside for his use (sanctification), allowing him to live his life through me.
It's messy, and I don't always get it right, but it's how he chose to work, so Lord do in me what I cannot do on my own, live through me and show the world what you look like, and thank you for forgiving my sins even before I asked....in all of this your grace is our blessing, and your glory is your goal. Thanks for working in spite of the mess.

Monday, October 16, 2006

I wish....


I wish I was good with my hands....I'm not. I tried to fix a drip from the toilet in one of our bathrooms today, and now it's a waterfall. It looked easy. I even made two trips to Lowe's to get all the parts I needed (I can never get everything in one trip...it always takes two or three trips.) I replaced the parts that were leaking, and put it all back together....now it leaks more than it did!
Now I need a plumber...he's coming on Wednesday. I wish I was good with my hands, but I'm not. My brother is a plumber, and loves it. He is doing something different every day. He gets to play in the mud (and other things), and he's his own boss. I wish he lived closer...
Ever notice that there are things you aren't good at? Somewhere in the back of my brain I wish I was good at the handy stuff, but I'm not. I try, really I do, but I just don't have that something...I wish I did.
One of my friends is a great wood carver. I love his work. He's really good. I wish I could do that. I can't.
I think I am one of those "just average" guys, and that's fine with me, but I still wish I could do some of the stuff with my hands that other guys do so well. I'll keep trying, I wish it wasn't so hard.
Here's a cute cartoon you will really enjoy- The Perfect Plumber

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Held in His hands



I love the story in Matthew 14 when Peter walked on the water. It's one of my favorite pictures of God's love and care for us. Here is the story-

"And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid." Peter said to Him, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." And He said, "Come!" And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?"

What a great picture for us- Peter's desire to do the impossible was honored by the Lord, and he did, in fact, walk on water. But faith turned to fear as he looked at the wind (who can see wind anyway?) and he began to sink. Most of us would have let him get wet, serves him right for not believing! But the Lord lovingly reached out to Peter, took his hand, and kept him from sinking. What a tender love, what a gracious hand. I can see the smile on Jesus face as he says, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" To help, here's how it would be written today, "Peter, didn't you know that walking on water is impossible? Why were you worried about the wind? I was holding you up."

And He is holding us up. Every moment of the day the Lord is the loving hand held out to those of us walking on water. He's our "inner tube" that keeps us from sinking. You don't really need to know how to swim or walk on water, all you have to do is trust Him. He will keep you from sinking. He will hold you up. Don't worry about the wind....it's nothing at all.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Your turn....

Six word stories.

I found this idea on another blog-

"Ernest Hemingway was once prodded to compose a complete story in six words. His answer, personally felt to be his best prose ever, was

"For sale: baby shoes, never used."

Some people say it was to settle a bar bet. Others say it was a personal challenge directed at other famous authors."

If you could write your own six word story what would it be?

Here's one that I found on another site- Creation, Corruption, Catastrophe, Christ, Cross, Consumation.

What's yours?

Resting in Him


It has been an amazing month, and I must admit that I am tired. I have been busy, and have not been able to rest well. It makes the days long when you get up at 2:30am. Oh well, it's a season I'm sure. In times like these I linger long in the Psalms. Today I stopped and rested in Psalm 103 for a while. Ahhhhhh....how refreshing....I needed that- perspective! As a human in a fallen world I have a very difficult time getting that- perspective. How are things, really? Is someone in charge, really? Is all of this going to work out ok? I have other questions that spin in my little brain, but all of them have to do with ME, so what I need most is perspective, and Psalms gives me that.....and in those words I find rest, calm, fresh air, peace, hope, someone who is in charge, direction, promise, victory, a future, a reason, and refreshment. Sleep? Who needs it, I have Psalms! If you haven't roamed around in David's writings lately I want to encourage you to do so. Slow down, take a breath, read slowly, listen to the words....you will sigh, smile, and rest. Here's a taste, enjoy:

Psa 103:11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
Psa 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Psa 103:13 Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Amazed in HIS presence

One of the places I'm reading in the word today is Ephesians. After reading this book hundreds of times over a 40+ year period of time I still have to slow down, read it again, and sigh in amazement! I am overwhelmed by what God has, is and will do for us, in us and through us. How can we ever know all that God has planned? It's much more than we could ever imagine...his desire to work in our lives. I don't know what God has planned in my life, but I can't wait to see it. His desire to work in my life and be glorified through me gives me great hope and promise. Here are the verses that I had to stop and read in awe one more time:

Eph 3:20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,
Eph 3:21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.


WOW! I may have great aspirations, big goals, lofty desires, but they all pale in light of what God wants to do in my life.

Well, Lord, I don't know what you have planned for the years I have left, but go for it! I'm with you! Since I can't even ask big enough things in light of what you want to do....let's do what you have planned. I'm in...all the way...let's go!