Monday, December 31, 2012

Saturday, December 29, 2012

I'll be back soon...

I will be back with you and sharing my thoughts after the new year. Thank you for your comments and frequent stops at this site. It's been an amazing year. I look forward to 2013 and what God will do in the new year.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Most read post of 2012

The most read post of 2012 on this site was "War of the Worlds".  Here it is one more time as we end this amazing year. 


War of the Worlds

We are in a war, but it's not the war we are trying to fight.

It's not a war between Republicans and Democrats.

It's not a war between conservatives and liberals.

It's not a war between Christians and Muslims.

It's not a war between gay and straight.

It's not a war between "us" and "them".

These are the wars we are fighting in the Christian world I live in, but they are the wrong wars, the wrong battlefields, attacks against the wrong enemies.  

We are taking blows at symptoms, not at the real enemies.  We find ourselves boxing shadows and completely missing the real enemies among us.  It is a war of the worlds, but not the one we fight now.  Here's the real battlefield, here's the real enemy,

"For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places."  -Ephesians 6

I'm sure our real enemies are thrilled with the shadow boxing we are doing....swinging at what is not the real enemy at all...and all the while our unseen enemy continues the fight.  

The real battlefield is spiritual.  

The real enemy is the devil and his angels.  

The real war is fought in prayer and with love for others.  

The Christian world I live in has chosen to fight the wrong war, focus on what is not the enemy,  oppose what isn't the real problem at all....and all the while the real enemy prospers and smiles at our foolishness.  He has masterfully misdirected our attention at the wrong things. We are in a war of the worlds....I pray we realize who the real enemy is and focus our attacks in the right way, with the right weapons at the real enemy.  

Our battle is never with people, let me repeat that....our battle is never with people...it's always spiritual and with an enemy unseen.   

If the enemy can get us to focus our attention on the wrong battle, the wrong enemy, the wrong battlefield all the better for him.  

In this war of the worlds I pray we see what the real war is about, who the real enemy really is and how we are to respond.  The real war is for the souls of men, the real enemy is the devil, and the proper response for us is love and prayer.  Those are the "weapons" that will change the culture around us and deal a death blow to the enemy's plans.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

What I'm reading

On this snowy Christmas evening in Texas with the fireplace going and the headphones on I finally was able to finish Paul Young's latest book, Crossroads. What a fascinating and strange book. It's the story of a man's fears, failures, regrets and redemption written in a very unique way. Young has a great way of making you deal with much bigger issues than those in the story. It will challenge my thinking for quite a while. It is different and uncomfortable in places, but it will make you think.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Calm before the storm

It's Christmas eve.  In a few hours our family  will descend on our house for food, time together and of course gifts.  It's a great family time each year, but it seems so short.

It's calm right now, but within hours there will noise in our home for the rest of the day!  Great noise...children laughing, giggling, squealing with glee.  And then it's over.  A flurry of gift paper flying in all directions, everyone watching, anxiously waiting their turn to open a gift.  I can't wait to watch the chaos!

But it's calm right now....in this calm I say "thank you" to God for providing family, food, gifts, smiles, and laughter.  I know it's not that way in every home, in every family.  In the calm before the storm I thankful for the chaos that is soon to erupt from our little home with family and friends celebrating the birth of the savior of the world.

Merry Christmas to everyone!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Without Jesus....


This morning, as I'm reading, thinking and finding some moments of silence I have been thinking...what would our world be like if Jesus had never been born?  Here are a few of the things I have come up with.  Feel free to add to my list.

Without Jesus.....

....we would never know the extent of God's love

....we wouldn't know what God is like

....we would have no idea what awaits us after death

....we would have no hope

....we would have no model of how life is to be lived

....we wouldn't know that God has emotions, feelings

....we wouldn't know that this is not the way it's supposed to be

....we would never understand God's heart

There is so much more to be listed here, but as I was thinking about it this morning I wanted to list just a few that came to mind. 

I'm thankful that Jesus was born and has revealed God to us.  I'm thankful that he is Lord of heaven and earth and will come again to rule and reign.  I'm thankful that Jesus was born and made all the difference for our little blue planet.

What would you add to my list?


The story of Christmas

The story of Christmas is the story of God's love. 

It's expressed best by Jesus himself as he spoke to Nicodemus.  In that late night visit with a Jewish leader Jesus captures the essence of the story of Christmas with these words,


“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."


In just a few words Jesus tells us about God's heart, his care for us, our problem and its solution.  It's a solution that only God could provide.  On our own we have no way of reaching God, of pleasing him and so God acted, out of love, and resolved our problem.  Jesus is the answer to our problem of sin.  He's the answer to everything really.  In him the love of God is seen and demonstrated.  In him the Father is revealed.  In him we have life and in him we live each moment.  He is our hope of glory, our promise of life, or soon coming king.


Jesus is the story of Christmas.  I pray you know him and know that you have eternal life.  


Send me a note if you want to know more.


I hope you have a wonderful Christmas holiday.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Holiday fun



Lunch today with our kids and their son, Vaughn.  Great fun.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Quote of the day

‎"The enemy is destined to misunderstand God's ultimate purpose. His own darkness is so pervasive he will continually misinterpret events and miss the point of what God is doing. If he had known the purpose of Christ in redemption, he would have chopped down every tree in Israel!"  
-Graham Cooke

Incarnate


Christmas is nearly here. What an amazing time of year. In my country there is the ongoing debate about what it's all about, but at the core this is a time when the Christian world remembers the incarnation, the birth of God the son on planet earth. It's a big deal to us because we believe that in this birth more than 2,000 years ago God demonstrated his love for us by becoming one of us. God became man.

In the short 33 years that followed that event, whether it actually happened at Christmas or another date, God revealed himself through Jesus' life. He spoke, he smiled, he loved, he cared and then finally he died. But the death wasn't the end....it was only the beginning.

From this breach in time, when God entered human history, nothing has been the same. In Jesus' life and death we find out that God loves us, that he really cares about us. We see and know what God is like because Jesus IS God. He reveals the heart of God to us.

Why is the incarnation (Christmas) so important to us? Because in this remeberance of the birth of a baby in a remote part of Israel more than 2,000 years ago we all discover the God who made us. We discover his love. We see in Jesus the answer to all our questions.

In this amazing event of the birth of Jesus we hear God declaring to the world, "I love you and I want you to know me." I hope you do.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The beginning is near....


© 2012  Shavawn M. Berry  All rights reserved

I love the imagery of this picture.  It communicates the very heart of the gospel message!  We are on the cusp of eternity and only beginning our lives.  Most people only see the wall.  They think the wall (death) is the end.  It isn't.  Death is only the beginning!  For the Christian this life is not all there is...it's only the first breath of eternity with forever yet to come!  

The beginning is near....

Quote of the day

Writer G. K. Chesterton wrote,“Christianity has died many times and risen again; for it had a God who knew the way out of the grave."



Friday, December 14, 2012

Even though they know

Photo by Sikov Alexander


There is an interesting passage of scripture in Romans 1. It's the introduction to this book of grace as Paul unpacks our sin problem and God's wonderful grace as its remedy. In Romans 1 are these words, "...that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them." From these introductory words Paul tells how man, in spite of knowing that God exists, has denied him and exchanged his worship for lesser things, his glory for their own, his ways for the ways of men. But, before you can reject God completely you have to somehow convince yourself that he's not really there.....knowing the whole time he really is.

What the bible declares here and in other places is this- there are no true atheists, but only men and women who deny what they know, deny what God has made evident to them already. Everyone knows there is a God and we are accountable to him, but many simply turn their backs and walk away. As one atheist said, "I don't want there to be a god...." and so they dismiss the God who is from their lives and actions.

But, there are consequences for that choice. From that first choice of rejection comes a downward spiral of confusion and poor choices, not clarity and better choices. The one who rejects God doesn't demonstrate greater insight, but less. He has chosen to dull his mind to the core of knowing anything and the result is that everything else is duller, dimmer, fuzzier. Thinking is clouded and choices become confusing.

Job the man of great trial in the Old Testament, made a statement that unpacks this better than I could as he wrote in Job 28:28,

"And to man He said, 'Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; And to depart from evil is understanding.'"

So, how do we respond to the embedded knowlege that God exists? The first choice and best by far is to acknowledge him as God and worship him for who he is and what he has done. It is the honest admission that we aren't as smart as we think we are. It is the honest declaration that we are created beings subject to a creator, but it is the starting place for finding true wisdom.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The barn


Some memories never leave you.  Some parts of your history are vital to your identity, to who you have become.  Often the memories involve people who have influenced you, helped you, changed you, but sometimes it's a place, a building that left an impression on your life.

I grew up in Iowa.  It was a great place to grow up in the mid fifties.  Much of what we deal with today was unknown then.  Innocence was still alive and well....or at least we all thought it was.  One of the places in my life that was a foundation stone, a landmark, was my grandfather's barn.  He and his twin brother were farmers.  On this amazing farm was the greatest barn on the planet....or so we believed as children.  It was our fort, our ship sailing on the open seas, our hideout in games of hide-and-seek.  It was the center of the farm.

I'm sure no one had any idea of its place in the lives of children, it was never meant for their entertainment, but it was a whole wonderful world to us when we visited grandpa.  The smell of hay, of cows and their aromatic deposits on the barn floor, of fertilizer and a dozen other smells I've long forgotten made the memory even more permanent for us.  It was a world of imagination in the middle of an Iowa farm.  We had literally traveled the world in that old barn!

It's gone.  Torn down years ago.  Most would never know it had been there, but those of us who grew up there will never forget it.  How many landmarks are there in our lives that have molded us, made us into who we are now?  How many events, places, people have touched who we were to make us who we are?  Some we may have forgotten now, but we are different because of them.

For me this photo brought back flashes of wonderful days more than 50 years old.  It's amazing how much of who we are is build on the memories of forgotten yesterdays.  And all of those days, even the ones we have yet to live, will make us who we become.  An old barn, a life changing event, a wonderful relationship, an hour over coffee with a dear friend....all of those moments mold us and then are forgotten, but their influence has made us, changed us.

So, how do I want to finish this, how do I wrap up random thoughts that began with a photo of an old barn in Iowa?  I would offer this as a suggestion-  give grace and mercy to others.  Be kind.  Give them a smile, a little extra mercy as you deal with them....for you see they may have never had a barn to play in when they grew up and that can make all the difference!


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Encouraged

  A dear friend sent me a text this morning.  She didn't say anything herself, she simply posted a passage from Isaiah 40 in the text box and sent it to me.  Here is the text I read this morning,


Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening?

God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.
    He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.
    And he knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired,
    gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
    young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
    They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don’t get tired,
    they walk and don’t lag behind.

It was just what I needed this morning, just what my weary soul most craved and it was nourishing, encouraging, it gave me breath again.  How does God know to use people who don't have any idea what you are going through to send you just the right thing for the moment?  How does he orchestrate all of this, caring for each one of us and meeting our needs?  I'm encouraged that God knows where I'm at. He knows what I need and he met the need this morning through a dear friend who was simply obeying God in sending me a passage of scripture.

Thank you, Lord, for your wonderful care for us.  Each moment, more times than we can ever know, you are thinking about us, caring for us, meeting our needs even before we can ask.  You are amazing!  Thank you.

The Christmas scale

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Thoughts on a frigid December 11th

I've always believed that if you have nothing to say it's best not to say it.  For a while now I've been at that place where I have nothing profound or even boring to say or write so I've been absent.  The tank has been empty!  

This cold Tuesday morning in Texas I'm sitting in a Starbucks for a few minutes before a meeting watching the flow of frozen humanity getting their morning coffee.  It gives me some time to pray, to think, to just "be" before the day starts. 

The last few days I've been dwelling on my own walk with God, the dryness, the sterile soil of my soul and wondering how to get something, anything to grow again.  It's always been clear to me that nothing of God will ever happen apart from God doing it.  I can want it, beg for it, try to create it, but if God doesn't work then it's not happening.  So I pray, I repent, I ask, I wait.  God is doing something in me, but at the moment I can't see it.  I've been at this place before.  I don't like the wait, but soon God will work, will speak, will change me.  Until he moves I wait....

Waiting for God is most often about him waiting for me.  He's waiting for me to get tired of the way I've been doing things.  He's waiting for me to give up!  What seems like me waiting for him is most often him waiting for me.  It's an honest, but embarrassing statement to make, but true that God is more willing to work in my life, to speak to my spirit, to lead me, to do anything than I am to let him.  It takes some work to break up the hard soil of my heart before anything could grow anyway.....there is much the Lord is doing that I don't even know or see.

Oh how I long for victory in this battle of flesh and Spirit.  It is for me the ultimate victory when I simply surrender....surrender to his Spirit to do what I've been wanting him to do, but wanting in my own way.  It has to be his way, his plan, his glory that comes from my life, so victory happens best when I finally surrender and give up.

This battle of flesh and Spirit is such a subtle thing.  It wages on even when I think I'm doing well.  My flesh desires to do things MY way.  Even in my desire to please God I often discover that I want to please him MY way and in that apparent desire for good the flesh is in control.  Pleasing God must be HIS way, done by surrender to his work and leading in me.  For all my efforts to be a "good Christian" I will fail completely in the quest unless I once more raise the white flag of surrender to him and his will, plan and timing in my life.

Frankly most spiritual warfare for me happens in my heart and soul.  It's a battle for Lordship.  Only when Jesus wins, when he is allowed to be King, do I truly please God.  That is the war of this world, isn't it?  It's a war for who is King.  Will it be me or Christ?  

Many books have been written on this topic.  I think I have probably read them all.  One that I just finished was a well done work reminding me a bit of C.S. Lewis' work.  It is titled "The Cure".  It's a great study in the battle for the kingdom of our hearts and God's rule and reign in the world.  It is a kingdom that has already begun to take over planet earth and the enemy of our souls is fighting for all he is worth to prevent the rightful King from taking the throne, but it will happen soon....very soon!

So, on this cold Tuesday morning in December I'm praying, surrendering, giving up my fight to "get God to do something" and letting him do as he wishes.....whatever that looks like.  Come King Jesus, I am yours, I surrender....do as you wish in my life.


Friday, December 07, 2012

Review



I just finished what is one of the most challenging books I have ever read!  It's a short book, but it's a challenge to all of the paradigms of this culture.  I don't think I realized how culture driven I am vs. kingdom driven.  It's really messed up my views of about everything....in a really good way.

I would highly encourage you to read "Embracing Obscurity", but be ready to live differently.  You will never see things the same again....and that's a really good thing!

Thursday, December 06, 2012

What do you desire?

Thought provoking video....what do you desire?  If money were no object what would you do?  Watch the video and share your thoughts.



Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Heart choices

Matthew 15:17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.

There is something that most people don't know.  It's a truth that will change your life if you know it.  Here it is-

We make our choices, and then our choices make us.

The choices we make may seem insignificant, uneventful and not of much consequence, but that choice and another and another will over time lead us to a destination we never anticipated, may have never wanted.

I see it often as I visit nursing homes.  Small choices over 60 years leads in one of two directions,  you will either be a sweet, kind, gentle and happy person OR you will be unhappy, grumpy, discontent and miserable thinking life cheated you out of what you deserved.

There are only two results and the little choices of the heart, the little words that come as a result of the last choice and the one before that make us into who we become.  Finally, without any ability to be anyone else, we are the person we have crafted with a thousand little heart choices.  A choice to be angry that becomes unforgiveness that eventually settles into our lives as bitterness.  Years down the road we have no idea where it started, but now we are angry, bitter impatient people because of one small choice that led to another that led to another.

Where are your heart choices leading you?  Who are you becoming as your choices make you?

The heart reflects through the mouth what we have put into it.  We hear it with every word, every response.  Words of fear that come from a broken trust and now you are fearful about every relationship.  Words of anger that came from a hurt you may have forgotten and now you are angry about everything!

If you know this one thing it will help you as you make the little choices ahead- 

We make our choices, and then our choices make us.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Extreme grace

I am thrilled to know and experience the grace of God.  It's absolutely life changing once you know what God has done for us. 

One of the great tragedies of the church in our day is the fear so many have of grace.  They fear what might happen if people really knew they were completely forgiven, loved and part of heaven even now.  That security, for some, is just too good to be true. There must be a trick up God's sleeve somewhere.  He can't really mean that we already have everything and can never lose it.  There must be something we have to do, some work, some duty that will let us make our relationship and eternity sure, but there isn't....it's absolutely and totally free, available by faith alone and will last forever!

But grace is even more extreme than you think it is.  It's outrageous and foolish from man's viewpoint.  In his love God provided for all of mankind a free gift of forgiveness, redemption, salvation, security, eternity with him, and peace now...if they would simply accept his gift by faith.

You have to know I haven't gotten to the extreme part yet.  Here it is, are you ready?  God has made it possible for us to be his sons, his daughters!  Imagine, a son of God.  That is so crazy I can't even understand what that looks like! But there's more....he's also given each of his children HIS Spirit to dwell in them, lead them, help them, and be with them....are you ready....forever.  When the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, takes up residence in us he promises to never leave.  We are men and women indwelt by the God who made us for all eternity!

More?  Ok, here we go...there is nothing you can do, good or bad...ever, to lose what he has given you.  You cannot lose his gifts to you if you have received them.  They are yours by faith alone and eternally yours....you can never be lost.  An eternal, indwelt by the Spirit of God, child of God.  More? We are destined to live with God and be part of his eternal kingdom.  Priests and Kings he calls us.  Children of God he describes us.  The names and provisions would fill pages, more than I have room to speak of here, but his grace extended to us is extreme at the far end of the scale.

The work of God in grace could fill volumes!  It's not just a "saving grace", although it is that, it's an extreme grace that completely changes everything about our lives here and our eternity ahead.  

But sadly many have made this wonderful grace a small thing.  They fear what believers might do if they knew.  The tragedy is that if they knew they would fall more deeply in love with God and lean in closer to know him better.  Let's talk about this extreme grace to those we know and celebrate the amazing love of God in his provision for us. It is a wonderfully glorious magnificent extreme grace!

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Saturday's cartoon

Beza Threads

As we watched the news last night with our family in Iowa a news segment focused on a ministry to young sex slaves in Africa.  These two Iowans started a ministry to help these young women escape the sex trade in Ethiopia.  Their idea was to buy these girls out of slavery, house them, feed them, train them and give them a trade.  The resources to make this happen come from the sales of scarves made by the girls themselves.  We immediately went online and purchased five scarves.  I invite you to visit their site and purchase a scarf as well as read the stories of what they are doing to rescue the girls in these slave trades.  You can visit their site here: Beza Threads: Redeeming Child Sex Slaves.  You can also find them on Facebook HERE.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Update......


I know I have been absent for a few days.  My apologies.  We have been in Iowa visiting my parents.  It's one of those times when visiting and time with family takes top priority.  I'll be back with you and have some thoughts to share in just a few days.  Do be patient with me as we take some family time.  Oh, this is a photo of my wonderful mom.  She is a most amazing lady!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Saturday's cartoon

Best quote of the day



Don't be ashamed to admit you were wrong. It means you have more sense than you had before. -Ray Pritchard

Anxiety















"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." -Philippians 4

Anxiety is at epidemic levels in our world.  We are anxious about everything!  We fear what's happening around us. We are fretful about our jobs, our marriages, our kids, our environment.  Our culture has created an environment of anxiety.  In the midst of so much lack around us the one thing that is abundant is anxiety!  We worry about everything!  

I should know.  I have gotten a PHD in worry. Like many of you I have mastered the art of worry and anxiety and taken it to new levels.  I find I often worry about not having anything to worry about.  Pretty pathetic isn't it?

In contrast to the way we live the bible tells us not to worry about anything!  Imagine such a crazy admonition from the pages of the Bible.  Doesn't God know what's going on in my life?  Doesn't he understand I have good reason to worry, to be anxious?  Of all people God should know what I'm going through.

He does.  And what he knows is this- anxiety is the result of lack.  Lack of resource.  Lack of power to resolve a problem. Lack of control over events. Lack creates anxiety. When I have no way to meet the need, no way to control the situation, no way to stop the war or prevent global warming anxiety sets in.

God's solution is simple....when anxiety rises realize you are depending on your own supply, control or power and not God's.  Stop, take a breath and go to God with your problems, your needs, your lack, your fears and talk to him.

One thing you need to know about God...he lacks NOTHING!  He has everything you need.  When anxiety rises it's your cue to pray, to talk to God and give your worries and anxieties to him.  His supply can resolve your lack. His peace can calm your anxiety. His power to take care of your problems will dissolve your fears.  

In a world of anxious people there are a handful who walk in peace.  They know what to do about anxiety.  They talk to God and trust him to resolve it for their good and His glory.  And he always does.

So, today, as anxiety sets in, just as it does for all of us, take a breath, step aside and visit with God about it all.  Give it to him and he will trade your anxiety for his peace.  He will resolve your worries with his peace and presence.  Pretty good trade, don't you think?  

Friday, November 23, 2012

Pride, humility, Jesus and me


I just picked up a new book today and am reading it with a frequent wince.  The author deals with pride and the example of Jesus we are called to emulate.  I'm greatly challenged and not a little convicted by the challenge of this book.  

Would I recommend it?  Yes, if you want to deal with difficult issues in your life.  

Once in a great while I read a book that challenges me and convicts me.  This is one of those books.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thankful


Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in America.  It's an annual day that had it's beginnings with a group of pilgrims celebrating their survival in a new land with food and thanksgiving.  Today is the day we gather for a traditional meal of turkey and a dozen other things that are not only delicious, but required for a real Thanksgiving meal.  The reason for the first celebration was thanks to God.  It's not the reason many celebrate it now, but giving thanks to God is a key element to the Judeo-Christian faith.  Throughout the bible giving thanks is an acknowledgment that what we have comes from God.  In fact the bible says that all things come from God's gracious hand.  Take a few minutes tomorrow and thank God for something in your life.  He gave it all to you, it only seems right that you take a moment and thank him.  

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What are you looking at?



A lot of life is all about what you are looking at...how you see things.
..........
Do you see the problems or the opportunity?
............
Do you see the wall or the window?
..............
Are you overwhelmed by worries and missing the joys?
............
What are you looking at? What are you focused on? I must often follow David's example in Psalms and intentionally change my focus. If I focus on the "wall" (my problem) I get depressed, discouraged, and can't see what God is doing, but if I look out the "window" I see beyond my own knowledge and abilities and am able to see God at work.....then everything changes. For me the word of God is like that window, it's gives me a new, expanded, different and amazing view on my situation. God's word and his work in it gives me a vision of what's possible beyond my wall. Here's an example of David's own change of heart because of his change of vision as he finds himself looking at a wall....
..............
Psa 42:1-8- For the choir director. A Maskil of the sons of Korah. As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, While they say to me all day long, "Where is your God?" These things I remember and I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go along with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God, With the voice of joy and thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival. Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence. O my God, my soul is in despair within me; Therefore I remember You from the land of the Jordan And the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls; All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me. The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime; And His song will be with me in the night, A prayer to the God of my life.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Living upside down




Whenever I read Jesus' words in Luke 6 I have to stop and calibrate. 

It's difficult. 

We live in a world that's been turned upside down from what God intended. If anyone lives as God meant us to live we look different. We look upside down. Here's the passage that always makes me stop to look at how I'm living in this upside down world...

Luke 6:27 "But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

These words are so contrary to the way our world works and yet these are the life choices for a Christ follower. 

Every sentence of Jesus' words challenges our rights to ourselves. 

He calls us to love others in such a way that we give up all our rights to our own way, our own things, our own best and yet, at the end, we see the intent...Jesus is calling us to treat others in the way we want to be treated whether that ever happens or not. This is the way Jesus lived out his life. He lived these verses much to the confusion of those around him. Jesus turned the other cheek, he blessed when cursed, he showed us the final tally of this kind of life. 

It's a life that seems upside down, but if we live it out it will turn our world right side up.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The devil's best weapon

The devil's best weapon to undermine and destroy the church and the love of God in the body of Christ is the fear of man.  

Fear pits one man against another.  
  

Fear divides.  

Fear separates.  

Fear breeds mistrust.  

Love is the antidote to fear. Fear undermines and destroys the love of God in any church family.  Love calms fear and draws the family of God together in unity.  


If the enemy can sow seeds of fear and lack of trust then love is lost, the body is compromised and confusion sets in.  Soon fear isolates and the church family has lost its focus on their #1 command- love one another.

It's sad watching people who love God living in fear and mistrust of other people who also love God.  What's wrong with this picture?  How have we let the enemy defeat the body of Christ with the fear of man?  Why don't we protest, draw in closer, turn towards one another instead of away from each other?  


Instead we let fear win the day and it makes us each vulnerable.  It weakens the body of Christ.  Imagine that...allowing the enemy of our souls the opportunity to defeat the body of Christ with such a divisive thing like fear.  

How should we respond?  What can we do?  How do we once more become the body of Christ, loving one another and saying "no" to the enemy's attempt to make us afraid of each other? 


How should we respond?  John 13:34-35- “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  

"As I have loved you".....what a wonderful example to follow.  It would quickly defeat the devil's best weapon.  The love of God....it's the perfect antidote to the fear of man and the one thing that identifies us as the family of God.  It's our greatest need in the church today.


"Thankful" by the Skit Guys

Faithful



I am an early morning person.  Often, in these winter months, I'm leaving the house while it's still dark.  As I get to the car I often look up at the early morning stars with awe.  In the silence of the early morning, even while no one watches, God is faithful.  Every morning he is faithful.  The witnesses to his faithful love are the morning stars when I wake.


Some would say you don't need God for that.  It's just the way the universe is, but why is it so predictable?  Why is everything so stable, so constant?  This is the not the way a chaotic, random universe would work....but it does.  Someone, something has built into this amazing universe a consistency, a stability that is amazing to even the scientists.  It is the witness to a faithful God who holds all things together and witnesses to me each morning that he is unchanging as I look up at the stars...still in their places...just where they are supposed to be, just where they were the day before.

Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.  -Psalm 36:4-6 

Faithful.  What a great thing to know about God.  Ever the same, showing his power and faithfulness to us by the early morning sky that is always there and whispers in the quiet of the cool morning air that a faithful God is caring for the universe he has made.  

Thank you, Lord.  I often take your faithfulness for granted, but I'm so grateful for it. Thank you.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Reflections


Yesterday I turned 62.

Life passes quickly!

I never expected to get this old.  I never thought it would come so quickly!

It seems I just begin and now I'm nearly finished.  

So, may I share a few reflections from 62 years of life?

- The thing you fear rarely ever happen. 
- God has always been kind.
- Good friends are rare and hard to find.
- A Godly mate is more important than all the money in the world.
- Money doesn't make you happy.
- Pursuing happiness doesn't make you happy.
- Happy isn't as important as everyone thinks.
- Pain is a good thing.
- Discouragement is normal.
- Hope is vital.
- There is a God, only one, and I know him personally.  He wants us all to know him.
- Life is not about what you have. It's about who you are.
- The only eternal things you will ever encounter are people.
- Most of us live in fear most of the time.
- Listening is more important than talking.
- Life is short, enjoy every moment.

Just a few thoughts after only 62 years.....


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Saturday cartoon


Thankful, Day 9

Today I am thankful for God's love.  

It's a simple thing, this idea of love, but there is so much to it. It's a feeling, a decision, but at the core it's a need!  We need love to thrive.  Give a baby good food, water, clothing and every other need, but deprive them of love and they will be emotionally devastated, socially handicapped and ever needy.  Love is as essential to the human as food or water.  Without it we simply don't really live.  

As I write this I think of someone who grew up in an orphanage.  They got food, clothing, and the other "essentials", but they never received love.  It's has affected every area of their life.

The love of God is essential for a healthy life.  

Today I'm thankful for the love of God.  Today I'm thankful that God loves me.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Thankful, Day 8

Today I'm thankful for dogs.


There really isn't much more I need to say.  Dogs speak for themselves.  They are a rich blessing to those they own.  They don't talk back, they are always glad to see you and they like you even when you're unlikable.

Today I'm thankful for dogs.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

A great article



A friend posted this article on Facebook this morning.  It's a great story of how one church made choices that made a difference.  I encourage you to read it.  You can link to it here.

Thankful, Day 7


Today I'm thankful for grace.

It's a simple word.  In culture it has kindness attached to it, care for others, deference for another person's need.  But in the bible grace is rich with meaning.  It speaks of God's dealings with us.  In grace he has forgiven what we have done and given what we don't deserve or could ever earn.  Terms that are used to describe it are unmerited, free, abundant, undeserved.  It's God's great gifts given to us when we least deserved them.  

Today I'm most thankful for grace and the way God have extended it to even a sinner like me.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Thankful, Day 6

Today I'm thankful for peace.

When all around us it seems the world, our world, is falling apart we can have peace.  It's a peace that comes in the midst of difficult days and especially because of difficult days.  

Jesus described it in this way,

"I am leaving you with a gift- peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.  So, don't be troubled by what happens or afraid of what might happen."  -Jesus

Peace.  It's a strange thing.  It feels like the eye of a storm.  All around is chaos and destruction, but in the eye of the storm is calm and peace.  

In a world today with the winds of storm all around I am thankful for the peace that comes from faith in God's care and provision.

Today I'm thankful for peace.