Thursday, March 31, 2011

What's God doing in your life?

It's a question I hear often, "So....what's God doing in your life?" The thought, I'm sure, is honest and genuine, but a proper response is often hard to come up with. You see, I'm a pastor and God is supposed to be doing something amazing in my life all the time. Aren't I really close to God? Doesn't he hang out with me on weekends? The question, although sincere and honest, often leaves me struggling for a response. I hate to tell the person asking about my walk with God, "well, I have no idea what God's doing in my life right now. Frankly it feels like a giant train wreck, I don't sense his presence and don't feel like I've heard from him in a long time." Imagine the open mouths at that response. But, it's an honest response. Somehow there is the sense that a pastor, someone who "knows God personally," should have something mystical, existential, really amazing going on all the time. It's just not my reality. There are periods of time when I don't get any new insights, don't sense God's presence, don't "feel spiritual," and frankly feel rather cold and hard in my faith. It's difficult...this walk with God. It's difficult because we are in a society of the warm tingles, instant gratification, instant response to our requests, service....RIGHT NOW, but walking with God isn't that way. At least it's not that way for me. The walk often feels lonely, sometimes is difficult, and always is unpredictable. How can you answer, "what's God doing in your life?" when you don't even know? And so, I try my best to talk about the last good thing I remember, but maybe I should be more honest, more transparent about what this walk with God really looks like. Maybe others would feel comforted by the knowledge that it's not always easy for me either. Maybe I just did that.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The problem with a gift

This morning I'm reading in Romans 5 and I came to these words, "15 But the gift is not like the trespass." In the middle of this amazing chapter these words stood out to me. I stopped for a moment to reflect on the chapter and these words specifically. This chapter is primarily a contrast between what Adam did and the resulting curse with what Christ did and the resulting blessing. "The gift is not like the trespass." It struck me that the trespass, Adam's sin, affected us all. All of us are heirs to Adam's sin and we actively live it out. But Christ came, provided life and salvation, and then offered it to whosoever will believe. It's a wonderful free gift, but it's not like the trespass....it's not universal, it must be received...accepted...believed. Adam's sin affected us all and the result is death. Christ's sacrifice provided life for all who will believe. That's the problem with a gift...you have to receive it. In light of the debate of these days and discussion among Christians I thought this was an interesting phrase from Paul's writings in Romans 5. Amazing how timely God's word is, isn't it?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

An amazing discovery















Here's a news story that might get your attention. I'm looking forward to what they discover as they translate the tablets. If you want to read more you can find the article on the BBC web site.



"They could be the earliest Christian writing in existence, surviving almost 2,000 years in a Jordanian cave. They could, just possibly, change our understanding of how Jesus was crucified and resurrected, and how Christianity was born.


A group of 70 or so "books", each with between five and 15 lead leaves bound by lead rings, was apparently discovered in a remote arid valley in northern Jordan somewhere between 2005 and 2007.


A flash flood had exposed two niches inside the cave, one of them marked with a menorah or candlestick, the ancient Jewish religious symbol.


A Jordanian Bedouin opened these plugs, and what he found inside might constitute extremely rare relics of early Christianity.


That is certainly the view of the Jordanian government, which claims they were smuggled into Israel by another Bedouin.




The Israeli Bedouin who currently holds the books has denied smuggling them out of Jordan, and claims they have been in his family for 100 years.


Jordan says it will "exert all efforts at every level" to get the relics repatriated.

Incredible claims

The director of the Jordan's Department of Antiquities, Ziad al-Saad, says the books might have been made by followers of Jesus in the few decades immediately following his crucifixion.


"They will really match, and perhaps be more significant than, the Dead Sea Scrolls," says Mr Saad.


"Maybe it will lead to further interpretation and authenticity checks of the material, but the initial information is very encouraging, and it seems that we are looking at a very important and significant discovery, maybe the most important discovery in the history of archaeology."


Detail from the Jordanian relic


They seem almost incredible claims - so what is the evidence?


The books, or "codices", were apparently cast in lead, before being bound by lead rings.


Their leaves - which are mostly about the size of a credit card - contain text in Ancient Hebrew, most of which is in code.


If the relics are of early Christian origin rather than Jewish, then they are of huge significance.


One of the few people to see the collection is David Elkington, a scholar of ancient religious archaeology who is heading a British team trying to get the lead books safely into a Jordanian museum.


He says they could be "the major discovery of Christian history", adding: "It's a breathtaking thought that we have held these objects that might have been held by the early saints of the Church."


He believes the most telling evidence for an early Christian origin lies in the images decorating the covers of the books and some of the pages of those which have so far been opened.


Mr Elkington says the relics feature signs that early Christians would have interpreted as indicating Jesus, shown side-by-side with others they would have regarded as representing the presence of God.


"It's talking about the coming of the messiah," he says.


"In the upper square [of one of the book covers] we have the seven-branch menorah, which Jews were utterly forbidden to represent because it resided in the holiest place in the Temple in the presence of God.


"So we have the coming of the messiah to approach the holy of holies, in other words to get legitimacy from God."

Location clues

Philip Davies, Emeritus Professor of Old Testament Studies at Sheffield University, says the most powerful evidence for a Christian origin lies in plates cast into a picture map of the holy city of Jerusalem.


"As soon as I saw that, I was dumbstruck. That struck me as so obviously a Christian image," he says.


"There is a cross in the foreground, and behind it is what has to be the tomb [of Jesus], a small building with an opening, and behind that the walls of the city. There are walls depicted on other pages of these books too and they almost certainly refer to Jerusalem."



It is the cross that is the most telling feature, in the shape of a capital T, as the crosses used by Romans for crucifixion were.


"It is a Christian crucifixion taking place outside the city walls," says Mr Davies.


Margaret Barker, an authority on New Testament history, points to the location of the reported discovery as evidence of Christian, rather than purely Jewish, origin.


"We do know that on two occasions groups of refugees from the troubles in Jerusalem fled east, they crossed the Jordan near Jericho and then they fled east to very approximately where these books were said to have been found," she says.


"[Another] one of the things that is most likely pointing towards a Christian provenance, is that these are not scrolls but books. The Christians were particularly associated with writing in a book form rather than scroll form, and sealed books in particular as part of the secret tradition of early Christianity."


The Book of Revelation refers to such sealed texts.


Another potential link with the Bible is contained in one of the few fragments of text from the collection to have been translated.


It appears with the image of the menorah and reads "I shall walk uprightly", a sentence that also appears in the Book of Revelation.


While it could be simply a sentiment common in Judaism, it could here be designed to refer to the resurrection.


It is by no means certain that all of the artefacts in the collection are from the same period.


But tests by metallurgists on the badly corroded lead suggest that the books were not made recently.


The archaeology of early Christianity is particularly sparse.


Little is known of the movement after Jesus' crucifixion until the letters of Paul several decades later, and they illuminate the westward spread of Christianity outside the Jewish world.


Never has there been a discovery of relics on this scale from the early Christian movement, in its homeland and so early in its history."





Book found in Jordan

Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday's cartoon


I love this cartoon! This was my grandfather. He was the best practical joker I have ever known. This is something he would do just for fun. I hope it makes you smile....I did.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Celebrating God's word

Ray Pritchard shared this video on Facebook today. It's a wonderful celebration of a people group getting God's written word for the first time.

The Kimyal People Receive the New Testament from UFM Worldwide on Vimeo.

Quote of the day

"It's not enough to do your best; you must know what to do, and then do your best." -W. Edwards Deming

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Forgotten?


written by Mike Messerli

He was almost 40 years old and had been invisible as long as he could remember. His name was Joseph and like his namesake he was in bondage, but this Joseph’s bondage would never end. Joseph was lame, unable to walk, and had been that way since birth. Early in life he realized that people looked away not knowing what to say, not knowing what to do. Soon they didn't look at him at all and he became invisible to those around him.

Every morning his family would carry him to the gates of the temple in Jerusalem so he could beg for money to buy food. There was nothing else he could do. His daily post at the temple gates reinforced his belief that he was invisible. People didn't look at him. They rarely heard as he begged for the few coins they threw his way each day. Almost everyone walked by. He felt helpless. He felt alone. He felt invisible.

Would life ever be different?

Would anyone care?

Was God mad at him?

What had he done to bring about this fate?

Then, one day he heard those passing by talking about a man named Jesus. He listened as they talked about this Jesus healing the blind, restoring withered arms, healing lame legs.

His heart raced.

The mind numbing boredom of his days was suddenly interrupted by a small spark of hope. A glimmer of faith began to rise. “Maybe this Jesus would heal me,” he thought, “maybe Jesus would see me as he walked by.” Hope began to burn in Joseph's heart.

It wasn't long until his hopes were realized. The streets were always alive with people coming into the temple to worship, coming to offer sacrifices. It was this constant traffic of worshippers that provided what little income Joseph was able to beg from those who walked by. He did look pathetic. His lame legs withered and useless. His dirty worn clothes, unkempt hair, and a sad face made him the perfect beggar, the perfect object of pity. If anyone deserved the kindness of those walking by it was Joseph, but his eyes were always looking for someone he hadn’t met yet. The hope in his heart changed his focus from the coins tossed his way to the one they called Jesus. “He has to pass this way soon,” he thought. He has to come this way to enter the temple.

Then it happened. On one particular day, unexpectedly, the noise in the streets grew louder, there was an excitement in the air and the crowds swelled. Then he heard someone say, "Make way, the Messiah Jesus is coming."

Joseph was excited.

Maybe Jesus would see him.

Maybe he would stop.

Maybe he would heal him as he had healed so many others.

Then he came. The crowds were buzzing with talk about all that Jesus had done, all the miracles he had performed. “Jesus might be the Messiah!” they said, “He might be the coming king of Israel.”

And Joseph thought, "He might stop and heal me."

But he didn't.

Jesus walked right past Joseph and went into the temple. He didn't even look down at Joseph! Joseph's heart fell. Was he really invisible? How could Jesus not even look at him?

For the next three years the stories continued. Joseph listened with great interest. He hadn't given up hope. Maybe it would be his turn soon. Maybe one day, as Jesus entered the temple, he would see Joseph. He prayed that God would heal him. He prayed that Jesus would see him. He asked for a miracle. He wanted to walk. He wanted to be normal. He wanted to be visible for the first time in his life. Maybe, one day Jesus would see him….

His hopes rose as his friend Matthew had an experience with Jesus. Matthew had been born blind.* Like Joseph his disability was a birth defect. In the Jewish culture there was a common belief that these physical deformities were caused by sin. He and Matthew often talked about this. Who sinned that they were this way? How did this happen? What did they do to deserve such problems? Why was God punishing them?

Joseph and Matthew often sat together by the gate to the temple begging for money from those who entered. Over the years they had become good friends. Joseph would talk to Matthew for hours about what he saw as they sat at the temple gate. He would describe who was coming into the temple, what they wore, what they looked like. Joseph’s time with Matthew was the only thing that made the boring days bearable. This rag-tag team of a blind man and a lame man worked together to help each other as they tried to beg for enough money to provide what they needed to live.

One day, as Matthew sat begging, Jesus came by. Jesus’ disciples asked, "Who sinned that this man was born blind?" (It's a question he and Matthew had discussed often.) Joseph listened intently as Jesus responded, "It wasn't because of sin it was for God's glory." Joseph was surprised. It was an entirely new idea to him…that this could all be for good. He had thought his lame legs and Matthew’s blind eyes were God's punishment for sin. He never even imagined that God could use such a horrible thing for his glory.

Joseph watched as Jesus bent down, made mud from the dirt and applied it to Matthew's eyes. Jesus told him, "Go wash in the pool of Siloam." And then, without a glance at Joseph, Jesus was gone. Matthew rose to his feet, felt for his cane, reached out a hand for the wall and left to find the pool of Siloam.

Joseph was once more alone, once more disappointed. He thought again about being invisible and wondered if it had really become true. Was he so wicked that God didn't even see him anymore? He had tried to speak when Jesus was near, but couldn't as he watched Matthew's story unfold. How he wished he had spoken up. Why didn’t he say something? How he longed for Jesus to see him. How he wished Jesus had healed him.

Had God forgotten him?

Was there no hope for him?

A voice in the distance brought him back to reality. Running down the street towards him was Matthew! He was smiling, waving his arms, excited. Matthew could see! He ran up to Joseph and gave him the biggest hug he had ever experienced.

Matthew was no longer blind! He could see for the first time in his life and Joseph was jealous. He knew inside that he should be excited for his friend, but all he could think about was himself. Why did Jesus pass him by? Why didn't he heal him too? Why didn’t he speak up when Jesus was so near?

It was a difficult time for Joseph. His friend, Matthew, no longer sat with him at the gate. He didn't need to beg any longer. Now Joseph was alone, invisible once more. His depression grew. These days were the darkest he had ever experienced. He felt even more invisible than he had ever felt before. He sat silently with no one to talk to, no one to see, and no one to care.

Often, over the days ahead, Jesus would pass by as he entered the temple. Jesus came to the temple every day to teach. Joseph longed for a glance from Jesus. He prayed that God would heal him, that Jesus would notice, but he didn’t.

Jesus healed many during those days. All around Joseph were those who had been ill, blind, lame, but were now well. All around him he saw the work of Jesus in the lives of others, but Jesus didn’t heal him. A bitterness came over Joseph. He was feeling an anger rise in his heart. His faith in God was fading. Was he invisible even to God? Didn’t God care about him at all?

Events changed quickly as Joseph sat at his post. The religious leaders who had been jealous of Jesus found a way to condemn him. They had him arrested, beaten and tried. In a whirlwind series of events the Messiah was condemned and crucified! Crucified!

Jesus was dead.

Something in Joseph died that day too. He saw the events around him, but was helpless to do anything, to say anything. His last hope of being healed was gone, nailed to a tree. The Messiah was dead. The one who had healed so many had not healed him.

Joseph still sat at the gates of the temple to beg, but he had lost all hope. There was nothing to live for. It didn’t matter anyway because he was invisible and who would even notice his withered legs and hollow eyes. Who would ever notice his tears? This had all been too much for Joseph. His humanity faded, his hopes were gone, his bitterness grew and his faith all but disappeared. He still held out a hand to beg, but he no longer cared if he lived or died. His last hope of healing and a new life was gone.

In the days that followed Jesus’ death Joseph sat at the gate begging as he had done before. There were stories. He heard some talk of Jesus rising from the dead, but Joseph no longer cared. Jesus hadn’t noticed him, so why should he care what happened to this dead Messiah?

It was several months later when Joseph’s life changed forever, unexpectedly. He had become a ghost of a man. That’s what happens when you’re invisible. He didn’t matter to anyone else and now he didn’t matter to himself either. All that was left was to beg for a living and hope to die as soon as possible. What else was there for him?

Then the day Joseph never expected happened. Here’s his story from the writings of Luke,

Acts 3:1-11 One day at three o'clock in the afternoon, Peter and John were on their way into the Temple for prayer meeting. At the same time there was a man crippled from birth being carried up. Every day he was set down at the Temple gate, the one named Beautiful, to beg from those going into the Temple. When he saw Peter and John about to enter the Temple, he asked for a handout. Peter, with John at his side, looked him straight in the eye and said, "Look here." He looked up, expecting to get something from them.

Peter said, "I don't have a nickel to my name, but what I do have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!" He grabbed him by the right hand and pulled him up. In an instant his feet and ankles became firm. He jumped to his feet and walked.

The man went into the Temple with them, walking back and forth, dancing and praising God. Everybody there saw him walking around and praising God. They recognized him as the one who sat begging at the Temple's Gate Beautiful and rubbed their eyes, astonished, scarcely believing what they were seeing.

The man threw his arms around Peter and John, ecstatic. All the people ran up to where they were at Solomon's Porch to see it for themselves.

He was walking!

He leapt for joy. He leapt just because he could!

He danced.

He ran.

For the first time in his life Joseph entered the temple of God. He had become visible! God saw him and touched him. He would never be the same again.

But he had questions. We all have questions when we don’t understand God’s ways. Joseph asked Peter if they could talk after they left the temple and Peter gladly agreed. Joseph was ecstatic about his new legs. He had no idea how wonderful it would be to walk, but he had to ask…..

“…Why didn’t Jesus heal me? Why didn’t he heal me like he had healed my friend Matthew? Why didn’t Jesus see me?”

Peter smiled.

He said, “Dear Joseph. Jesus talked about you often. He wanted to heal you and in fact it is Jesus who has healed you this very day, but he walked by you then so that this amazing result could happen now. You see, he had an amazing plan for you and for me. Over dinner, that first time we saw you, Jesus told me, ‘Peter, did you see that lame man sitting by Matthew today? I’m not going to heal him now, but when I’m raised from the dead I want you to heal him. Joseph’s healing will be fruit for your ministry, testimony of my work in your life and in his. It will be hard for him to wait, but oh what joy he will have when I do heal him.’ So you see, Joseph, God’s plan for our lives, yours and mine, is meant for God’s glory in God’s time. He saw you. You were never invisible to him. It just wasn’t time yet. But today…..today you see the results of his plans for you. You were never forgotten. Jesus prayed that you would endure until the time came for his work in your life. I’m so glad you have endured to see this wonderful day, aren’t you?”

And in your life today, in your walk with God, you need to know that you are never forgotten by God, you are never invisible to him. He sees you, he loves you, and he cares about you. He’s working in your life in a way you can’t even imagine. It will amaze you when you see what he does. You will never be the same. Trust him, wait for him…wait for his timing. You are never invisible to God.

You are not forgotten. God loves you.

*(Read John 9 and Acts 3 for the full stories of the lives of these two men.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Quote of the day

"I'm coin operated." -a salesman in the computer industry

I had coffee with one of the men in our church this morning. It's always good to see him. He's a great guy, great thinker and he loves his wife. I say that because it's important. He mentioned this quote in our visit and I had to stop him to talk about it. Basically, this quote comes from a guy in his company who is saying that what really turns him on is money. Put in a coin and he will come to life..."he's coin operated." The money moves him, motivates him to action.

So, what motivates you?

Is it money?

Fame?

Approval?

Love?

What brings you to life?

A passion for faith?

Love for God?

If you were to fill in the blank, "I'm ___________ operated" what would you put in the blank? We are all motivated by something. At least this man was honest enough to talk about what turns him on. It sure got me thinking about motivations. I hope it makes you think as well.


Challenges

There are days when the challenges and pitfalls of life sneak up on us. It's easy to fall if you're not watching the road ahead. The Christian life is described as a walk because there are element of walking that are part of it. There is the decision to go somewhere other than where you are. That's step 1. Then you have to begin and that involves direction. Which way do I go? How do I get there? That's step 2. And then there is the awareness that the path, any path, has uneven places, hard places, and may be difficult to traverse, so we have to watch where we are going. That's step 3. There are challenges along the way. An unexpected dip in the road can cause us to fall if we aren't watching where we're going. The Christian walk was never promised to be easy, but it is never boring. All along the way are other people walking towards the same goal. Following the same path. Knowing you're not alone is a great encouragement. It also helps to have others ahead of us who will let us know where the pitfalls are so we can be ready. Challenges? There's nothing more challenging that walking with God. It will demand everything you have, everything you are and it will take the rest of your life to get there, but there is no journey so exciting as the journey of walking with God.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Reviewing "Love wins"

Like some of you I've read Rob Bell's new book, "Love wins." Like many of you I've also read a number of the reviews. The best review I've read so far comes from a reader on amazon.com's site. I think George did a very good job describing the issues,

"There are two kinds of people in the world: those who love questions and those who love answers.

Question-lovers focus on the ambiguity and uncertainty of belief. Reality is bigger and more complex than our theories about it. Consequently, we must be humble in the face of mystery, knowing how much we do not know.

Answer-lovers focus on the clarity and certainty of belief. Reality may slip the grasp of theory at the margins, but theory has a firm grip on reality at the center. So, we must act courageously in the world on the basis of what we do know.

Rob Bell loves questions. His critics love answers. This difference between them--a difference that is both temperamental and methodological--illuminates the controversy surrounding Bell's new book, Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived.

Bell asks, "Does God get what God wants?"--namely, "all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth" (2 Tim. 2:4). He further asks, "Do we get what we want?" A "yes" answer to the first question makes you a universalist, that is, a person who believes that God both desires the salvation of all people and realizes that desire. A "yes" answer to the second question makes you a proponent of hell, that is, a person who believes that we can be separated from God for eternity.

A "yes" answer to both questions makes you Rob Bell, a hell-believing universalist." -By George P. Wood (Springfield, MO)

Quote of the day

"Without God's word as a lens, the world warps." -Ann Voskamp, One thousand gifts

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Forgotten?


I'm working on a new post. I want to tell you about it now. It will take a bit to write, but it's the story of a man that Jesus passed by, passed over. Jesus healed others, but he didn't heal this man.

Have you ever felt that God has forgotten you? Have you ever thought, "God listens to everyone else, helps others, meets the needs of those around me, but he's forgotten me." If you have ever felt forgotten stay tuned....we will talk about it.

Trust in the midst of trials

As I read these words this morning it struck me that these are perfect words for the days we live in. As we watch the world around us deal with natural disaster and the disaster of war it can often cause us to fear, but read these amazing words-

Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

....7 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

....10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

The words of this psalm are especially timely as David writes, "Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging."

His reason? "The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress." We are not alone, we have not been abandoned on this shaky little planet full of problems, it's not all up to us to solve these problems. God is with us. We are not alone. There is someone we can trust. There is a God who is in charge. Here's what he's up to-

“Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

God is working that all men will know him, all men will seek him, everyone will acknowledge the God who made us. There is a plan, dear friends, this is not a planet out of control. There is a good and sovereign God working and ruling. Relax. Trust him and pray for those who don't know him yet. God is working.

Saturday's cartoon

Friday, March 18, 2011

Encouragement for the day

Phil 4:13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Reasons to rest


These are fearsome days.

Earthquakes in Japan.
Riots in Cairo.
Financial worries at home.
Wars erupting all around us.

Fear is natural. What's next? What will happen to us? Is the world coming to an end? Questions arise when fearsome things happen.

This morning, as I read in Isaiah, I came to a statement repeated twice with two different reasons for the instruction. It always catches my attention when something is repeated. Here are the words from God spoken through Isaiah, "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine!" And then again the prophet declares, "Do not fear, for I am with you." The chapter continues with amazing and encouraging words for Israel and for us. The chapter is Isaiah 43 if you want to read it for yourself, but these two invitations caught my attention because of the opening words, "do not fear..." In this short passage God gives two reasons not to fear, 1. I have redeemed you, and 2. I am with you. In these two statements are the reasons we don't need to fear- God's redemption and God's presence. In the midst of difficult days is the reassurance of God's redemption for the future and his presence for the trials at hand. Do not fear because your todays and tomorrows are all taken care of. God is with you and is leading you into the days ahead holding your hand as you walk each step. Reasons to rest? God has redeemed you and even now, in the midst of your trials and problems, he's with you, walking beside you, holding your hand, on the road to the redemption he has already provided. A redemption that's now and not yet. A presence that is constant and loving. A hope that is sure. Do not fear.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Missionary in transition

One of our young men, Craig Lauchner, is heading for Argentina in a month as a missionary with Navigators. I got to have coffee with him this morning. He's an amazing guy and excited to be heading for the mission field. I invite you to keep him in your prayers and follow his adventures on his blog site. Here's his address:



Tuesday, March 15, 2011

New book



I just got Rob Bell's new book, "Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived." Before it even came out it was creating controversy. I look forward to reading his thoughts and will share my comments with you here. Stay tuned...

Monday, March 14, 2011

That they might know...

This morning I am reading about the exodus of the nation of Israel from Egypt. Once more I came to these words, "that they might know that I am Lord...". This is a phrase repeated over and over in the bible. God is working that all men might know him. He wants us all to know him and so he works in our lives to reveal himself. He is not hiding, but is actively working so that everyone will know that he is Lord. How will everyone know? God will make sure they know...because he loves us!

Monday's cartoon

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Cuteness!

Warning: Grandpa bragging. Here's our youngest grandson with his great new hairdo. Very cute.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Praying



Disasters are always tragic. Today we are all watching the tragedy in Japan as an 8.9 earthquake has hit this island country. They are dealing with numerous aftershocks and a tsunami that has destroyed and killed more than can be measured. It's very sad, very tragic. I'm praying for the Japanese nation and for the people affected. There are no words for this, just grief and prayer.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Kings, kingdoms and the course of history


This morning I read these words as I walked through my morning time in the word of God,

Rev. 17:17 For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to hand over to the beast their royal authority, until God’s words are fulfilled.

It struck me that God will, in the last days, orchestrate the events that will seem to be completely out of control. When the events of the last days seem to be most out of control it is, in fact, a time when God is most in control. All of the events and rulers will work to accomplish his will and bring him glory.

Then my thoughts raced to another verse I've talked about often,

Psalm 29:10 The LORD sat as King at the flood;
Yes, the LORD sits as King forever.

At the worse time in recorded history, the flood of Noah's day, God is seated on the throne, fully in control. In a time when any ruler would worry about his kingdom God is seated, reigning, in charge of the events of history.

We long for peace and prosperity. The things that upset our peace and prosperity are disasters and rulers. Either one, a bad ruler or horrible disaster, can upset our lives and create fear, panic and financial ruin. But clearly, from two short verses, it is evident that God is in charge of both of these arenas. If he controls rulers and disasters he can care for us through the rulers and events around us.

God makes even bigger claims when he declares,

Psalm 95:3 For the LORD is the great God,

the great King above all gods.

4 In his hand are the depths of the earth,

and the mountain peaks belong to him.

5 The sea is his, for he made it,

and his hands formed the dry land.

6 Come, let us bow down in worship,

let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;

7 for he is our God

and we are the people of his pasture,

the flock under his care.


God claims to be the God above all other contenders. He is our God, he is sovereign, and so he can declare this amazing promise to us,


Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.


On a morning when a horrible earthquake has struck Japan and killed hundreds, on a day when other countries are in chaos over unjust rulers, in a time when the future causes fear, know that there is a king seated on the throne of heaven and he is in charge of the rulers and events of our world. Rest in him, trust him, know that he will work for the good of those who love him.....even when evil men rule, even when disasters strike.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sicey


Grandson's commentary at new burrito restaurant today after
eating part of my spicy burrito,

"Sicey!"

The body of Christ


Being a Christian has advantages. The big one for me is the community that happens as Christians gather. "One another" life happens. We begin to care for one another, love one another, pray for one another, help one another and on the list goes. Community happens. Love is demonstrated. Life together happens. Caring for others becomes important. I can't imagine how hard it would be to live a solitary life without a community to care for you, but many do. Sadly, they are missing out on one of the great blessings of the body of Christ. As I near the last third of my life I find that the church family, the community of faith called Christians, is vital to me. I'm part of something bigger than myself, something that bridges centuries and goes forward into eternity. I'm part of a family I get to spend eternity with.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

But God...

One of the great statements of the bible is summed up in just two words, "But God..."

In those two small words tragedy turns to triumph, problems are explained, sadness has hope, and we are not left without answers. God is involved in our world, in our lives. God is the great problem solver, course changer, sorrow solution. When an answer is needed, when grief seems beyond bearing, when questions overwhelm us then comes these words from scripture, "but God" and suddenly everything changes. Here are a few of those moments from the bible,

"But God remembered Noah..."

"but God meant it for good..." -Joseph

"But God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol..."

"My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

"But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power."

"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

"But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us..."

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,"

In the middle of this list of God's intervention into history is the most important, the one event that changed everything, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." In the midst of a fallen world without hope or peace God has stepped in to demonstrate his love in a way we cannot miss. The ultimate "but God" event is the cross of Christ. When all seemed lost God sent Jesus to demonstrate his love for us.

I'm glad for those "but God" moments. He is there and he is not silent...and for that I am most grateful.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Quote of the day

"I believe that everything will be redeemed, even my failures." -Andree Seu, WORLD Magazine, March 12, 2011

Strength for the day

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Monday's cartoon


(Just a little reminder for a new week.....)

Saturday, March 05, 2011

A wonderful experience


It was a wonderful experience. It was really challenging. Today I got to be part of our mid-school bible conference. Today I got to share with our mid-schoolers about communicating our faith with those around us.

As I prepared I thought about my own mid-school years as a new believer. It struck me how hard those years were....how difficult it was to be a Christian in a world where being different brought ridicule. Middle school is always hard, but can be even more difficult as a Christian in days like these.

I have been reading comments on facebook tonight by some of our youth. The comments are all encouraging. I hope and pray this will be a life changing time for them as they walk with God.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Conversations


I have to tell you that I frequent IHOP (The International House of Pancakes). I know...not good for me, but with so many of the guys I meet needing to get to the office most of my coffee times are early morning at IHOP. It's been a haunt of mine for several years....so long in fact that I know the waitress there by name. Her name is Becky. She's a sweet young lady and has been there since they opened. We have gotten to know each other a little bit. She's a mom. She has 3 kids. She rides a Ninja motorcycle. She's quite a renaissance woman. If you didn't ask you wouldn't know, but this week I found out something more that surprised me. As I walked in early this week I asked her if she had worked there the day before, free pancake day, and she said, "no, I had to take the day off to take the G.R.E." (The G.R.E. is the test to get into grad school.) I asked her more....what are you doing? What do you want to do? What are you working on? She replied that she's getting her PHD in genetics. Ok, I'm surprised. My waitress at IHOP working to become a geneticist? How amazing is that?

Ok, here's my point for this short story. We all have personal stories. Everyone you meet is much deeper than you know and will only share their life with you if you ask. How much do we miss when we fail to ask about the lives of those around us? How much do we miss out on when we don't start conversations with those we meet? All around us are people with a story. A few questions, a sincere interest and a few minutes to listen and you've opened the door to a life, a friendship, a conversation. My next visit with Becky will continue from where we left off. What's my next question? I don't know yet, I can't wait to find out!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Burdens

We all have one....at least one. Some are heavier than others. Some have more than others. Some seem to handle them much better than others do. Some are so overwhelmed that they crumble under the load. Each of us has one...at least one that we drag around behind us or carry with us. Each of us has a burden...at least one.

It's clear that this is true because of Jesus' words we will discuss in a moment, but what I see in the lives of people I meet is that we seem to be rather comfortable with our burdens. They may be heavy, they may be hard, but somehow we feel the need to carry them. They give us value, a purpose....a reason to complain. Whatever the burden, and we all have them, Jesus came and offered to take them...no questions asked. The invitation is even grander than that...he offered to "yoke us with us" and pull our loads with us to help us live in a burden saturated world.

Here's his amazing invitation. It's a real invitation that he offers to everyone and yet I meet with people daily who think this offer is too good to be true and so they continue on....under the load...complaining that God must not love them...that he must not care. What more could God do? What more could he offer than to take our burdens and carry them for us? The only requirement? You have to give them to him.

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”