Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Red and yellow, black and white...

In the beginning God made everything

....and it was good.

Nowhere in the Bible does the God who made us ever pick favorites based on the color of our skin.

 He made us the colors we are!  

When we claim our skin color gives us favor with God we are saying that what God made is evil.  

We are shaming God, not the person whose skin color is different than mine.

BUT GOD has chosen to create a wonderful and colorful planet, including our skin.  

You didn't choose your race, it's part of who GOD made you.  

It no more defines you as acceptable to God than your language or nation of origin does.

In fact, Christ came to save mankind regardless of our color, language or nation.

It's not my color that gives me value, it's God who made me and Christ who saved me....

and when the Bible declares,

"After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.  And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

He makes it clear that He loves all of us regardless of our skin.

Christ came to save all mankind! 

It’s not my skin that’s the problem.  It’s my heart.

When Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you” he made no color distinction because it’s not about our skin,

It’s about our hearts.

Racism is sin and shames the God who made us, not the person whose skin offends me.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Grand Quest

Four men met in a bar one late afternoon for drinks and time to reflect after a tough day at work.  They were each successful in their fields but none were happy, fulfilled or satisfied with where they were in life. After a couple drinks the discussion became a bit more serious and they talked of what is most important, what really matters.

Quickly they discovered each disagreed with his friends on what was the most important thing in life and so they decided on a quest.  Each would pursue the thing they thought most important, the thing they valued above all.

The first declared, "My quest is for wisdom.  There can't be anything higher!  If I can attain that I will have succeeded and found meaning for my life. If I have wisdom I can help change the world and make it a better place."

The second reflected for a moment and said, "I think, for me, the quest is for power.  If I can become someone in authority, someone who can change the course of world events I will have succeeded and found real meaning.  My quest is for power."

The third smiled and said, "Gentlemen, if I had money I could buy all of those things!  I'm after money.  If I had money I could change the course of history, help millions and really make a difference.  That's my quest."

The fourth was silent for a while and soon the other three looked to him for his reply, what was he going to pursue?  Slowly he began, "You know, all of those goals can make a difference and I wish you each success, but I think what I most want is to find God.  I know, it sounds so selfish that my quest is for me, but I really don't know why I'm here and yet I know I'm not here by accident.  My quest is to find and know God.  If I can do that I think I too can make a difference."

And so the four shook hands, downed their drinks and began the quest, the grand quest for the thing that would change everything. In the years that followed they would meet often to compare notes.  Their stories and successes would fill volumes for indeed they each achieved their quest, each reached the mountaintop they were climbing, but the final commentary comes from another source, another who watched the lives and quests they pursued.  Here is his commentary on the quest and perhaps it will help you as you decide what is most important in your life.

“Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches;  but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord.  Jeremiah 9

Monday, August 14, 2017

A feast is coming!

"Then he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’”
Revelation 19

I don't know about you, but I love food!
But more than that I love the promise this brief proclamation declares...a feast is coming!

Isaiah tells of it in chapter 25,

“The Lord of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain;

A banquet of aged wine,  choice pieces with marrow,

And refined, aged wine.

And on this mountain He will swallow up the covering which is over all peoples,
Even the veil which is stretched over all nations.

 He will swallow up death for all time,

And the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces,

And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth;

For the Lord has spoken.
And it will be said in that day,
“Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us.
This is the Lord for whom we have waited;
Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.”

Can you imagine it?  A day when we will sit at a banquet with all the saints of the ages, great men and women of faith, with Jesus at the head of the table.

It will be a feast like no other!
It will be the victory feast of the Lamb of God
A victory finally fulfilled
A victory over
sin, death, pain, suffering, and all that man has done to man.

A feast is coming
Do you have your invitation yet?

Because there are two meals ahead, the feast of the Lamb
the banquet of the birds.

You do want to be at the first one
You don't want to be part of the second.

A feast is coming
Do you have your invitation?

Thursday, August 03, 2017

12 YEARS!!!!

As of August 1st I have been writing this blog for 12 years!  I am a bit surprised it's been so long.  My sweet wife had to talk me into doing it in the first place and it has developed me as well as refined my thinking.  I can see God using these words to help others and I am thankful.  So, if you are still visiting once in a while, after 12 years of my ramblings, thank you.  I think I'll try one more year.

It's dyin' time

"And He was saying to them all, 
“If anyone wishes to come after Me, 
he must deny himself, 
and take up his cross 
and follow Me."  

These are some of the most challenging words in the bible. They demand we consider what we are getting into as we follow Christ.  He didn't come to promise us prosperity, success and a good life.  He promised we would die!

This verse is so contrary to our way of viewing the gospel in America.  We look for what we can get out of it.  God is offering us a gospel that demands we give up everything!

We must die!  And we have to deal with that reality daily.
And then there is that nagging phrase at the end...'and follow me.'  What does that mean as I live out each day? How do I do that?  It demands I lay aside all I comfort, desires, ease and prosperity and literally die to it all and then follow him.

This passage is the one we most try to ignore because it demands we choose death over life...a death to me, to self, to what I want, to my comfort, to my plans, to my success and surrender to him and follow him even if it means I have nothing...but much more important...even if it means I keep all I have but live with a completely different attitude towards it all.

I have to be honest...I do not like this verse.  Its demands force me to die to all I want so I can actually live to all he wants.  And it demands I do that daily.  

So, it's dyin' time.  Lord, what must I die to today to follow you?

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Built in

It suddenly struck me, as I commented on a friend's experience with another person, that the love of God is built in for those of us who have trusted Christ.  The challenge is to get our flesh out of the way and let the love of God actually reach those around us.

Jesus spoke these challenging and frustrating words in John when he said,"So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.  Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples."

The one defining evidence that we are Christians is that we love others well!  If that isn't part of our interaction with those around us, even those we may not agree with, it speaks loudly to those we encounter that we might not be like the Christ we claim.  

Love for others is not caveated by Jesus with "if they agree with you" or "if they aren't on your list of 'sinners.'"  We are to love others without qualifications, just love them.  Imagine the doors that would open for a conversation about life and the hard things that happen?  

We have missed so many opportunities to show people Christ by how we have failed to love them well.  

Do you know the love of Christ is built in if you are a Christian?  

Are you letting it out?

Friday, July 28, 2017

Sweet words

Words matter

They help,
or destroy

Words communicate

I shared in my last post our change in life,
the end of one thing
trusting God for what comes next

From those words I was blessed to read dozens
of notes from people we have known, loved
and cared for

Their words were like honey
sweet words, encouraging words 
that told of how God had used us to help them

How glorious is our God
that we can be part of each others lives
hold another's hand
cry with another's tears

How sweet are the words that come
from God working in us
This God we serve is most amazing!

To him alone be all the glory
Thank you, Lord, for using
one like me

May our words to others be sweet, healing balm 
to refresh the weary and worn looking
for a bit of your kindness in their lives.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The End

I'm coming to the end of a part of my life that has lasted for 27 years.

We all deal with endings
The end of school
The end of childhood
The end of a day
The end of life

Endings are part of time and a fallen world
They aren't all bad,
they make us aware that all things on this planet
will end

My current ending is today
As I think about it there is grief
regrets (aren't there always)
things I would change
things I wouldn't
in the end
it was a good day

Now for a new beginning
What's next?
I'm ready
So Lord, 
what do you have for me next?

Monday, July 24, 2017

Forgetting God

"You deserted the Rock, who fathered you; 
you forgot the God who gave you birth."
Deut. 32:18

"No sooner had Gideon died than the Israelites again prostituted themselves to the Baals. They set up Baal-Berith as their god and did not remember the Lord their God, who had rescued them from the hands of all their enemies on every side."
Judges 8:33-34

I have often forgotten something. I forget my keys, my phone and sometimes the very notes I plan to teach in an hour.  We humans are really good at forgetting....

...but to forget God?

How is that possible?

As I think about Israel coming out of Egypt walking through the sea on dry land, seeing miracle after miracle, eating manna for 40 years, seeing water come from a rock in the desert and so much more only to forget God I realize how easy this is for us as well.

We forget the most important one in our lives, 
the one who made us and loves us.

We forget to remember all he has done.  A day comes when things get hard, when money is tight, when sickness is our reality and we forget the very one who has cared for us every moment of our lives!

How do we forget so easily?

David, the psalmist, realized how easy we forget, how often we turn away and wrote down what God had done for him so when depression came, when doubt rose he could remind himself of God's amazing faithfulness.

One of my favorite quotes from the early church is from an old martyr who, being offered clemency for denying Christ, said...

When we remember the amazing God we serve it makes any situation a chance to serve him.  He never leaves us or forsakes us. 

So, I wake up each morning with these first works, "Good morning, Father, how was the night?"  as I begin a new day in the presence of the one who cares for me every moment.

May I never forget the one who died for me.