13 April 2012

1406 St. John

You hear about a place at the edge of town. It is, you’ve been told, the most elegant, finest and beautiful establishment in the “whole wide world”. You stand outside and observe that although the place is packed, there is no line and inside, there are plenty of tables and chairs, as well as servers waiting for people to come in and sit down. The Master himself is waiting to open the door for you when you step up to it.

Your eye catches the poster in the window. It says, “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; he who has no money, come, buy, and eat! Come; buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and labor for that which does not satisfy?” 1

You can see that everyone inside looks so peaceful, happy, and joy-filled and the sound is a soft quiet, like a beautiful orchestra playing soft and low. You catch a glimpse of the sign over the door at 1406 St. John, “The Way”. You hesitate; you consider going in, but your feet are still.

You think freedom means doing whatever you want and if you go “in there,” you will forfeit your freedom. You only think this way because you do not know. You have never dined there. You have never felt the warm, loving embrace of the One standing at the door waiting to welcome you in. You’ve never sampled the wine or drank the Living Water, or tasted the Bread of Life or feasted on the Richest Foods.

Will you go in? Or, do you go back to your neighborhood in Mayhem, to your home at the intersection of Hopelessness and Despair, where you feed on the garbage that fear and anxiety produce. You have plenty of company, after all. Many others still live life “their own way”, in the endless pursuit of money and satisfaction, and ways to have a good time.

The Master waits for you to come to the door. It’s up to you. Remember this though: The door will be locked one day, and once it is, it will be too late.

1 [Isaiah 55:1-2 ESV]

24 September 2011

I Heard My Jesus

The Lord put a tune in my head this afternoon, and a poem to go with it.

I heard my Jesus calling out my name
I heard my Jesus calling out my name
He said I’ll take your grief and shame
Your life will never be the same
I heard my Jesus calling out my name.

My Redeemer He reached out His hand
Yea, My Redeemer He reached out His hand
He pulled me from the mud-n-sand
And set my feet on solid land
Yea, My Redeemer reached out His nail-pierced hand

When my Savior comes to take me home
When my Savior comes to take me home
I’ll be singing with the saints
I will offer Him my crown
When my Savior comes and takes me home

Do you hear Jesus calling out your name
Do you hear Jesus calling out your name
You know, He’ll take your grief and shame
Your life will never be the same,
So answer YES! when Jesus calls your name.

20 September 2011

ON SEEKING: Seeking His Face

For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven.
… a time to seek, a time to lose; a time to keep, a time to cast away.
Ecclesiastes 3:1,6


ON SEEKING

Seeking His Face

The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. Psalm 14:2

God is omniscient – He is everywhere.  His eyes are always open and always watching us (Proverbs 15:3).  He sees our comings and goings, and everything we do in between.  He hears all our words – things we say in prayer, things we say to others (and ourselves), and every thought that crosses our minds (Psalm 139:1-4).  “…He knows the secrets of the heart” Psalm 44:21.

He speaks to us in various ways; through Scriptures, His work of Creation, other people, just to mention a few.  Then there’s what I call my “inside ears”.  His still, small voice, a gentle whisper, that so often is missed because we don’t pay attention or brush it off as a random thought (1 Kings 19:13). 

He speaks to us during prayer time.  We need to set aside time to be still, with a closed mouth and open heart and mind, and wait for Him to speak.  Prayer should be a conversation, not just a quick dash up to His Throne of Mercy, spouting off a quick thanks and a list of requests, then running back to whatever.  When we approach His Throne of Grace, come to Him in prayer, we’ve got to give Him the respect and honor He is so worthy of.  He is, after all, God Almighty, who through Christ Jesus, created everything seen and unseen (Colossians 1:16).  He abhors sin, totally hates it, and does not allow sin in His presence.  We have to come clean, confess our sins, and ask forgiveness (1 John 1:9). 

Another way He speaks to us is through His indwelling Spirit (that lives within us who received Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior).  Sometimes during prayer time, I think of things – people, events, or situations.  I used to think my mind was wandering off and would get frustrated at my lack of focus, but then I read this phrase, part of Romans 8:27:  For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit intercedes for us”.  Now I feel that when thoughts of things and people come along, the Holy Spirit is prompting me to pray for them. 

Here’s an easy way to remember:
                        A            adoration
                        C            confession
                        T            thanksgiving
                        S            supplication (requests)

Love on Him, give Him praise and adoration, confess sins, thank Him for what He’s already given us; and then make our requests (Philippians 4:7).  Don’t forget about the quiet time to listen.  

Why do we seek Him?  Because He wants us to.  We have to get to know someone in order for the friendship to develop, grow, and thrive.  Like all relationships, we have to work on it or it falls apart.  He made us; He already knows us.  Now we have to learn to know Him.

Go to your room, shut the door, open your Bible, and experience the awesome adventure of seeking His face.  Here are just a few more Scriptures on this topic. 

Old Testament                                                     New Testament

1 Chronicles 28:9                                                 Matthew 6:16 (praying in private)
2 Chronicles 7:14                                                 Matthew 7:7-8
Psalm 119:2                                                         Hebrews 11:6
Jeremiah 29:13

(Scriptures quoted from the English Standard Version of The Holy Bible)

19 September 2011

ON SEEKING: Seek First...


For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven.
… a time to seek, a time to lose; a time to keep, a time to cast away.
Ecclesiastes 3:1,6


ON SEEKING.

Seek First...


“Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” [Matthew 6:33]

This world offers many things.  Usually, we only find and acquire good things if we look for them.  Bad things seem to have a way of finding us, but the really good stuff, we have to find it.

During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught that salvation is the first (most important) thing we need to find.  How does one find salvation?  Actually, salvation is a gift available to everyone.  To receive this great gift, one must believe in Jesus, and confess their sins and repent (turn from them, change their walk, life style).  Romans 10:9-10 states it this way, “… if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”  Then we will be cleansed from our sins and righteous in God’s sight.  All this is only possible because of the power in the blood of Jesus, which he shed on the cross.

At the very last moment of your life, it is not going to matter how much money you earned, if you have the most or the biggest toys / possessions, how many degrees you earned in college, how many grandmothers you helped cross the street, how much money you put into the collection plate or warmed the spot on the pew, or how many meals you served at the homeless shelter, or any other “good deeds” done.  Nope, not one of these things will matter.  Only one thing and this alone:  whether or not your name is in the Lamb’s Book of Life; if you’ve accepted Jesus to be your personal savior.  Jesus told his disciples, “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.” [John 16:6] 

“But how do I find Jesus,” you ask.  Well, here’s the good thing.  You don’t have to physically look for Him.  He is one of the few good things that actually come to you.  Wherever you are, just reach up, and He’ll meet you there.  Just speak, even in a whisper He will hear you; ask Him to come into your heart, confess your sins and ask Him to forgive you.  That’s all you have to do.  Then, start reading your Bible to learn more about Him and get to really know Him.


03 September 2011

Sometimes the sprinkling-can; sometimes the flower.

The sprinkling-can is the vessel that holds the water. It has a spout to disperse the water onto the flowers, gently and evenly. It can hold only so much water. It has to be emptied of its previous filling before it can take on more water. When there is yet more water from the barrel and this particular can is still full, the Gardener finds another vessel to fill. If the can sits too long, the water in it becomes stagnant; algae and mosquitoes could grow, and eventually, rust would eat a hole in the bottom. The flower is the recipient. The water nourishes the plant; it thrives and produces food for insects and small animals, and adds beauty to the garden. The water is not intended to benefit the can. The can’s purpose is to carry the water meant for the flowers. Likewise, although we may be the recipients of a blessing, the blessing is intended for others. The Lord uses His people to carry His blessings to others. When we receive from Him, we in turn must pass it on, pouring the blessing out like a sacrifice to the Lord. Otherwise, like water left in a can, it could become harmful to us; we could become greedy, selfish, or even lustful. When we bless others, they thank God and He receives the glory and praise that He is most worthy to receive. The flower drinks in the life-giving water and produces fruit. It blooms beautifully and in its capacity glorifies the Lord by its beauty, His creation. “Three things will last forever-faith, hope, and love-and the greatest of these is love” [1 Corinthians 13:13]. Love is the greatest gift God gives us. Love has to be given away. If you don’t love others, you can love only yourself; if you keep it within, it will die. Keep it alive by keeping it moving. The more love you give, the more you will get to give even more. Don’t let this precious gift go to waste; give it away. Love is especially sweet when it is a sacrifice; giving love to your enemy, to the unlovely, and the unwanted; to those who do not know love. Don’t let the Lord find your vessel full from a previous filling; He won’t give you more if you haven’t used what you already have. “…I will make them and the places surrounding my hill a blessing. I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing. The trees will yield their fruit and the ground will yield its crops; the people will be secure in their land…” [Ezekiel 34:26-27 niv] “Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart’.” [John 7:38] “We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is Love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.” [1 John 4:16] All scriptures quoted from the New Living Translation unless noted otherwise.

28 August 2011

Sit, Stay

The long table is spread out; the feast is prepared and presented.
Come in, come in.
You just stand there and look in.
Come. Sit down and enjoy.
Sometimes you walk up to the table, grab a morsel or even a handful, but then your eye wanders and you run off, leaving, still hungry.

Oh my child; sit, stay.
Feast with me.
All this is prepared for your enjoyment and nourishment.
You are weak and weary because you are starved.
Sit down, eat.
Eat your fill and enjoy your time with me.
You’ve tasted and know how sweet it is.

You must not leave hungry.
If you do, it is your own doing.
Stay.
Stay as long as it takes.
Feast and rest.
Then you will be refreshed and prepared to continue.
You will be better use for me and your work will be easier for you.
But first, stay, sit and feast with me.

30 May 2011

Sins and Consequences

Sins leave scars. They are called consequences. God forgives us when we repent, but the consequences are still ours to deal with. Sometimes, our actions affect only ourselves. Other times, others suffer deeply, even more than we do. The unsuspecting spouse, the child orphaned by a drunk driver, a victim of rape or child abuse – who suffers more?

Ours sins left nail holes in Jesus’ hands and feet. Our sins, our consequences, but He bore them so we would not suffer the ultimate consequence of sin… separation from God for all eternity.

Yes, there is forgiveness for sins, but someone always bears the burden of the consequence.

Isaiah 53:5 (GOD’S WORD Translation)
He was wounded for our rebellious acts.
He was crushed for our sins.
He was punished so that we could have peace,
and we received healing from his wounds.

Seeds

We are all seed sowers. Every word we speak to another and every deed (good or bad) is a seed planted in the heart and mind of someone else. Our parents sowed seeds of love while the world sowed seeds of another variety: competition, pride, prejudice, entitlement, hatred, envy, etc.

Leave a trail of good seeds like brotherly love, compassion, patience, generosity, diligence, integrity, honesty, and excellence. These seeds have the potential for a bouquet of blooms that are pleasing to the Lord. Sow seeds that produce a bountiful harvest for the Kingdom of God. You sow the seeds and another will come along and water, and the Lord makes it grow.

Take a big handful with you wherever you go and sprinkle generously!

1 Corinthians 3:8 (GOD’S WORD Translation)
The one who plants and the one who waters have the same goal, and each will receive a reward for his own work.

Don't Worry About It!

Are you a worrywart? I do not mean being concerned about things, but obsessively, and over even the smallest things, worry so much that it just ruins your day? Here’s a thought… if we allow this, we’re actually being disobedient to Jesus. He said, “don’t worry about everyday life” [Matthew 6:25] and He asks if all our worries add a single moment to our life? [Matthew 6:27].

I believe that worry demonstrates a lack of faith and trust in God to take care of us, like the Bible says He promises. Worry is not a fruit of The Holy Spirit. It is a weapon, a stronghold, of Satan. All he needs is just the smallest little crack and he’s in. Before you realize what’s happening, worry takes over. If it’s not exterminated, it breeds, and real quick, you have a serious infestation.

For example, a mouse needs a small hole to get in. If s/he can fit its head through, it can squeeze the rest of its body in. Once it’s in, if it finds a favorable spot, it nests. Then the mate moves in and they start a family. If they’re not exterminated, they continue to breed and the whole place is infested with these rodents.

So how do you stop worry from controlling your thoughts? Here’s what the Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippians: [chapter 4, verses 6-8]
Never worry about anything. But in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks. Then God’s peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, keep your thoughts on whatever is right or deserves praise: things that are true, honorable, fair, pure, acceptable, or commendable.

We take preventative measure to keep invaders out of the house. So also we need to take precautions to keep Satan and his vermin from invading our “house” – our thoughts and our hearts. Pray. Keep yourself saturated in God’s word, the Bible. Ask others to pray for you; fellowship with other believers. Seek counsel from your pastor or deacons. Just don’t let it go out of control! Exterminate it before it breeds.

Matthew 6:25-34 (GOD’S WORD Translation)
25“So I tell you to stop worrying about what you will eat, drink, or wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothes? 26“Look at the birds. They don’t plant, harvest, or gather the harvest into barns. Yet, your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? 27“Can any of you add a single hour to your life by worrying? 28“And why worry about clothes? Notice how the flowers grow in the field. They never work or spin yarn for clothes. 29But I say that not even Solomon in all his majesty was dressed like one of these flowers. 30That’s the way God clothes the grass in the field. Today it’s alive, and tomorrow it’s thrown into an incinerator. So how much more will he clothe you people who have so little faith? 31“Don’t ever worry and say, ‘What are we going to eat?’ or ‘What are we going to drink?’ or ‘What are we going to wear?’ 32Everyone is concerned about these things, and your heavenly Father certainly knows you need all of them. 33But first, be concerned about his kingdom and what has his approval. Then all these things will be provided for you. 34“So don’t ever worry about tomorrow. After all, tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Layers

My brother-in-law was a very talented man. He had a wealth of talents and abilities, from drawing to building houses. He and my sister bought an older home, a fixer-upper, with beautiful bones. It was a scaled-down version of a “beach house” mansion you would see up in The Hamptons of Long Island. Each room was adorned with beautiful architectural details. Sadly, all the natural beauty was covered. My brother-in-law spent countless hours sanding, scraping, and even burning off the many layers of paint to get to the bare wood. It was tedious, hard and I imagine, frustrating work. But oh, after he stained and varnished everything, the result was spectacular! All the natural grains of the oak were gorgeous. The entire house was truly a work of love. Their labor produced an incredible transformation, turning a neglected structure into a show house. To say the least, he achieved a result to take delight in.

All those layers of paint remind me of all the layers of sin on my soul. Each sin slaps on a layer, like old paint, that conceals true inner beauty and works as a barrier between God and my heart. When I came to Him and confessed my sins, He removed them all. It was not a once and done job; oh no, it’s a work in progress. I need daily confession and daily cleansing.

How about you? Are there layers of sin on your heart? Is there anything blocking your heart from the Lord’s loving touch? If so, then say a prayer something like this:

Lord Jesus, I come to you right now and ask you to forgive my many sins and cleanse me with your blood. Thank you for dying on the cross as payment for my sins, and for rising again and preparing a place for me in Your Father’s house in heaven. Please come into my heart now and be my Lord and Savior. Thank you for loving me. Amen.


1 John 1:9 (gwt)
God is faithful and reliable. If we confess our sins, he forgives them and cleanses us from everything we’ve done wrong.

08 May 2011

Drinking, Eating, Reading

The way to fully enjoy a glass of fine wine is to take a sip, swirl it around to cover all your taste buds, then slowly swallow, so even the sensors in the back of your throat get a taste. My uncle once told me that you should “chew” it; that works, too. What ever your method, you take your time and linger over it, delighting not only your sense of taste but also your sense of smell. The two combined makes each mouthful an adventure. A gourmet meal is also best enjoyed when you eat it slowly, getting the most taste out of each bite.

If you would wolf down an elegant meal and guzzle a glass of wine, you’d miss out on the experience of the meal. Likewise, zooming through a passage of scriptures wouldn’t allow the opportunity to get the most out of it. You need to read each word, each phrase; often many times over, and meditate on them. From my own experience, the Lord speaks to me during this time. Chewing on the words, lingering over them, meditating on the scene, considering the who, what, where, when, why and how, and you find the words speaking to you.

The Holy Bible is indeed a living thing. Don’t rush through it; you’ll miss the best part.

07 May 2011

Responding to Current Events

I turned on the television news station early on Monday morning in time to watch a video clip of groups of people celebrating the killing of “America’s Most Wanted”. I kind of understand the excitement in the victory they considered this to be, but I have to say, I felt very sad. Each person, including our worst enemy, is a work of the Lord’s hand and as fearfully and carefully made as you and I, regardless of the despicable acts of hatred and evil they inflicted on countless lives. Every man and woman is beloved by God, even if s/he worships and serves another. I saw the news; I know what happened on 9/11; and the war that followed. Many people died; many more who survived will never be the same. Many feel justice was served. But at the end of the day, a life precious to the Lord went on to eternity, maybe, probably, we assume, but only the Lord knows, to the place of weeping and gnashing of teeth that Jesus warned about. That is a reason to be sad, not for celebration. Maybe the Lord is the only weeping.

Some were shouting, “USA! USA! USA!” while others were singing, “God Bless America”. I thought, why would God bless such a show of hatred, the exact motivation that this one was hated for? During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught the crowds, “… I say love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in Heaven..” (Matthew 5:44-45). And, “But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:15). The gospel of Luke sums it up for us: “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.” (Luke 6:35-36) These verses make it clear that a blessing is not coming if there is hatred in the heart. Read what the Apostle Paul wrote: “Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say ,“I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)

The request for a blessing is coming from a generation who limits God to specific buildings during a few hours on Sunday mornings. They don’t want His presence in government, in schools, in public buildings. They don’t want to hear about Him on the TV or radio and are working to have Him banned from various form of media. Pretty much, this county who was once under God gave Him limits. The One who told the oceans, “you can only go so far”, has been given boundaries. They are saying, “We want blessings, but we don’t want you”.

The cart has broken loose and is speeding down hill, out of control, set to crash. Whether the majority believes it or not, the fact remains that God has made His throne in the Heavens, and from there he rules everything. (Psalm 103:19). He always has, and always will. “This is what the Lord says: ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Could you build me a temple as good as that? Could you build me such a resting place? My hands have made both heaven and earth; they and everything in them are mine. I, the Lord, have spoken! “I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at my word.” (Isaiah 66:1,2) To those who ignore Him He says, “I will send them great trouble—all the things they feared. For when I called, they did not answer. When I spoke, they did not listen. They deliberately sinned before my very eyes and chose to do what they know I despise’.” (Isaiah 66:4)

Our situation may sound hopeless, but it isn’t. Here is what The Lord told Solomon: “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14). We can turn around. We can ask for the blessing of Grace. We, as a nation, can go to Him to confess our guilt and ask Him for forgiveness. He will hear our earnest, honest prayers. He will forgive us.

O God, have mercy on us. O God, forgive us. O God, extend to us your grace, and give us your peace. O God, please bless America again.

22 April 2011

Going Wireless?

We all know that USB cables link a piece of equipment to a computer. I’m going to use a digital camera as example. The cable transfers images from the memory device inside the camera to the to the memory device inside the computer. Once there, a few clicks of the mouse, and another cord sends the signal from the computer to the printer, and viola!, you have a picture. Technology has evolved and now we can do all this without the cables. We’ve gone wireless!. Not only do we not need the cable, our camera can communicate directly with the printer, eliminate the need for a clunky computer system.

In the old covenant (promise) God had with his people, the Israelites, a perfectly healthy and unscarred animal had to be sacrificed to make up for sins. It was slaughtered and the blood was sprinkled on the altar by the High Priest, the mediator between God and His people. Now we are under a new covenant, the covenant of Grace. Jesus, perfect and without blemish (sin), sacrificed himself on the cross, and became the once-and-for-all blood sacrifice for everyone’s sins. Because of Jesus, we no longer have to go through a high Priest, nor do we have to offer an animal’s blood to make up for our sins. Jesus made the way for us to go directly to God. That includes all people, not just the Jews – gentiles, pagans, atheists, budists, islamics, and everyone else. Romans 10:9-1 says, “If you declare that Jesus is Lord, and believe that God brought him back to life, you will be saved. By believing you receive God’s approval, and by declaring your faith you are saved.” Jesus is the cord that connects us to God. He is the only way.

I’m going to refer back to the computer and USB cords… Technology has evolved so we don’t need cords and cables to connect one piece of equipment to another. Instead, a signal is transmitted between the pieces of hardware. The camera can communicate directly with the printer. Some cell phones have aps that can send a picture to a printer from anywhere the phone signal can send it! Maybe you don’t need a cord, or even be anywhere near, you still need a connection and a signal. There are many signals to get you interested in God, but there was, is and forever will be only one connection to hook you up with God, and that’s Jesus. John 14:6: Jesus answered him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one goes to the Father except through me.”

You can point the camera at the printer and push the send button all day long, but without the connection, you can’t print a picture. Jesus is our only connection to God and His Kingdom (Heaven). There is nothing we can do to get there. We can’t work our way in, and we sure enough can’t buy our way in. Reread the two scriptures, Romans 10:9-10, and John 14:6. Jesus did all the work. Jesus paid our way. He’s the only connection to God. This fact will never change, will never be upgraded, and will never go “wireless”.

19 February 2011

Whose is it?

Psalm 89:11  The heavens are yours, and the earth is yours; everything in the world is yours—you created it all.

Everything we can see, touch, smell, hear, and sense the presence of belongs to God.  Every animal, bug, grain of sand, spec of dust, and gust of wind were all created by Him and therefore belongs to Him (Genesis 1:1, 1:25, 1:31; Colossians 1:15-17).  Each item man has built consists entirely of materials harvested from the earth created by God: wood, steel, iron, bronze, copper, coal, oil, stone, gypsum, lime, sand, gold, silver, precious gems, etc.  All the money in the world belongs to God: the paper it is printed on and the metals used to mint coins all belong to God because He created the materials to produce it (Psalm 104:14-15), and, He owns the gold that makes it valuable (Haggai 2:8).

Everything we have is on loan from the One who made, and therefore owns, everything, including us (Psalm 139:13-14).  We really shouldn’t take ownership of things on loan to us.  You may say, “Hey, wait a minute, I worked hard to earn money to buy my house, cars, jewelry, clothes, and all the other stuff I have.  It’s mine, I worked for it.”  I understand why you may feel that way.  Not long ago, I would have agreed with you.  However, the fact is, everything belongs to God, and He graciously provides everything to everyone.  He gives richly, and just like that, He takes away (Job 1:20).  One day, everything will disappear.  Who but the One with the power to make everything appear has the power to make everything disappear—the heavens and the earth included (2 Peter 3:10).

“Praise God from whom all blessings flow!”  Remember His creations belong to Him, lest we become proud, greedy, and selfish.  Share freely with others.  We are to be the vessels through which His blessings flow, not like the Dead Sea where fresh water flows in, and becomes stagnant and lifeless because nothing flows out.

Psalm 104:31  May the glory of the Lord continue forever!  The Lord takes pleasure in all He has made.


(All scriptures quoted are taken from The New Living Translation)

13 February 2011

Write It Down

1 Chronicles 16:8
Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.  Let the whole world know what he has done.

So what if…
No one ever wrote anything down?  Like, all the evangelists who write their messages, the great ministers of the ages, all the way back to Moses, the Prophets, and the Apostles.  What if no one ever shared his or her knowledge, and revelations, and experiences?  How would we have learned about God, and Jesus, and The Holy Spirit—only by word of mouth?  We all know how that goes.  One person tells something, then another repeats it but misses a few phrases, the next one enhances the story with a few thoughts of his/her own, and before you know it, the story is way different from what actually happened. 

That is why it is so vital to write things down; even if you think your story is not that great, or your writing skills are not polished.  When you get a word from the Lord, write it down.  That way you can remember exactly what it was in its entirety, and you can share this word with others, which is most likely what we need to do with that word anyways.

We are vessels.  Things need to flow through us to others.  Writing is one way that God might use us.  If we do not pass along things that we hear from the Lord, or other blessings we received from Him, we become like the Dead Sea, where things flow in, but nothing flows out.  Very soon, everything becomes stagnant and the life in it dies off. 

Keep it flowing!  Write it down.  Share it with others, all the way to the ends of the earth.  Use the Internet to share God’s message of the Good News of Salvation available through His Son, Jesus Christ.  E-mail, tweets, facebook, chat rooms; all these avenues are available to us to broadcast His message of love and redemption.  Write about everything that you learn.  Something that may seem simple and insignificant to one may just be the word that will save the soul of another.

Isaiah 64:3
When you came down long ago, you did awesome deeds beyond our highest expectations.  And oh, how the mountains quaked!

Psalm 96:3
Publish his glorious deeds among the nations.  Tell everyone about the amazing things he does

05 February 2011

CaraBella, Queen of Flynnland

Psalm 30:5, 10, 11, 12

"...Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning."

"Hear me, Lord, and have mercy on me.
      Help me, O Lord.”

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
      You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,
that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.
      O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!"


Joy came to me in a fur package.  Her name is CaraBella, Queen of Flynnland.  Cara means beloved friend; Bella means beautiful; the rest is self explanatory.

Cara (formerly Queenie) was surrendered to animal control in Philadelphia late December/early January.  Then the wonderful folks at Second Time Around Rescue, STAR, pulled her from there, had her spayed, chipped, UTD on shots, and listed her for adoption with Petfinder.com.  That is where I saw her photo, and read her bio.  That was on Tuesday, 25 January 2011.  We met her on Saturday, the 29th and she came home with us that afternoon.  STAR thinks she may be 1-2 years old.  She has a German shepherd face and the fur on her neck feathers typical of GSD.  She has erect, pointed ears, but are kinda-of small.  Also, she has a long torso.  All the rest is the unknown breed.  Could be pitbull, lab, or another breed with a broad flat head and big backside.  She is very docile, loud noises don't phase her; she is sweet, and greets with kisses.  Other dogs and cats, well, so far, not so good.  Did I mention she knows how to open doors? 

I am curious to see if she would be a good candidate for a therapy dog.  I am going to wait about a year or so, after we get some good solid OB training (she was not responding to any commands but is doing pretty good on sit).  She walks nicely on the leash for me.  Praise the Lord for that favor!

So here she is, photos from my phone-camera, both taken the first day at work.



waiting in the car, on the ride home:




snozzing, giving belly.  Hard to see from this picture, but her belly is shaved from her spay surgery.

I'll write more about her later.  But, I'll just close with these thoughts I had today, about why God gave us dogs.  A) to demonstrate how we should love unconditionally, quick to forgive, be faithful and loyal  B) the obedience we expect from our dogs is what our Father wants from us, particularly "come"--when He calls us, we should run to Him just as fast as we can.



.

27 January 2011

The Forest

I was walking through a meadow,
bright warm sunrays shining down.
Wildflowers, showing their glorious colors and beauty,
gracefully sway from side to side.
Gentle breezes broadcast their sweet aroma through the air.

I get to the edge of the meadow,
to the tree-line at the entrance to the forest.
At first it does not look that scary,
but the further into the forest I journey,
the thicker and darker it gets.
There are fallen limbs and logs,
all sorts of obstacles I have to climb over,
making travel a challenge.
I wander on and on and instead of making progress,
I’m only going around in circles,
each path bringing me back to the same spot.

Exhausted, I sit down on the rotted log,
and admit I cannot go any further.
It’s dark. 
I’m cold.
I hear noises that frighten me.
I am powerless.
I am lost.
My heart is crushed with fear and despair.
Who can hear my cries for help?

I hear something.
No, it’s not the breeze.
I hear the soft, still voice,
“Let me help you.  Let me guide you out.
I will clear a path for your feet so that you won’t stumble.  Trust me.”

With both of my hands, I clamp onto His outstretched hand,
“I’m so weary, I can’t go on,” I whimper.
“I will carry you,” He promises.

We get to a canyon.
He sets me on my feet.
It’s wide, too wide for me to jump.
Now what?
Do I try to make a bridge with limbs and logs
from the forest floor and try to walk across?

“I brought you safely to this place of decision.
You can stay here, or you can let me help you go forward.”

“The forest is dark, and lonely, and scary,
and I don’t want to stay here.
“I’m so weary, I can’t go on,” I whimper.

“Trust me.  Hold onto me.  I will not let you fall. 
I will carry you,” He promises.

With both of my hands, I clamp onto His outstretched hand.
He lifts me safely over.
The edge of the forest is just ahead.
I see can brightness through the trees!
I don’t know how far it is to the edge of the forest,
so I will stay close to His unfailing love and faithfulness
and trust Him to walk me through.

26 January 2011

A Dog for Jesus

(someone posted this poem for Dylan, I don't know who the author is.)
 
I wish someone had given little Jesus a dog
as loyal and loving as mine
to sleep by His manger and gaze in His eyes
and adore Him for being divine.

As Our Lord grew to manhood, His own faithful dog
would have followed Him all through the day
while He preached to the crowds and made the sick well
and knelt in the Garden to pray.

It is sad to remember that Christ went away
to face death alone and apart,
with no tender dog following close behind
to comfort its Master's heart.

And when Jesus rose on that Easter morn,
how happy He would have been
as His dog kissed His hand and barked its delight
for the One who died for all men!

Well, the Lord has a dog now; I've just sent him mine,
the old pal so dear to me.
And I smile through my tears on this first day alone,
knowing they're in eternity.

22 January 2011

Square pegs and holes in hearts


I remember back in my little kid days playing with this toy, where you had to match the pegs with their same-shaped holes.  The lesson from this puzzle game is that you can’t fit a square peg into a round hole.  Each piece fit in only one specific space.  As hard as a kid can push and jam, or turn the piece around and around, it will only fit into it’s certain spot.

I see how God’s love works the same way.  I’m convinced that there is a space in each person’s heart that is so unique, only God’s love can fit it exactly.  This empty space is such a noticeable void that we know we just have to fill it.  Some people try and substitute drugs, alcohol, money, possessions, sex, -- all the things this world offers, even in excess – yet they still know something is missing, and spend their days and nights trying to fill the void.  I learned the hard way; none of this stuff can fill the spot reserved for Jesus in my heart.  Once I surrendered completely, God’s Holy Spirit filled all the voids, and my former wants and desires are gone.  Good riddance to them, I don’t miss anything!  I don’t miss cigarettes, hangovers, those feelings of being lost, worthless, and life is pointless; and I certainly don’t miss feeling unloved, unwanted, and the nagging thoughts of suicide.  I don’t have a specific scripture reference to back up my theory, just personal experience, and testimony from others.  I see evidence in radically changed lives.

Scripture tell us that God created us for His own good pleasure.  He loves us no matter what.  God loves us so much that He sent us Jesus, His Son, who willingly took the death penalty, and hung on the cross to pay for our sins so that we could have salvation and spend eternity with Him. (John 3:16:  “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.) 

Seriously think about this:  He loves us so much that He died for us, and all He wants from us is to love Him back.  That’s it.  So, do you want what’s missing?  Open up your heart, and let Him in.  Confess your sins, accept His forgiveness, and start your new life.  That empty spot will be filled-in.  His love will permeate your entire being.  And nothing – no thing, no person, no experience, or substance – can compare.


Romans 3:23:  For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.

Romans 6:23:  For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 10:9-10:  If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.

Romans 8:38-39:  And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(all scriptures quoted from The New Living Translation)

19 October 2010

Trust

Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the rock eternal.  Isaiah 26:4 NLT

Do not trust in created things – trust in Me. 
I am in control of everything. 
I made my throne in the heavens.  From there, I watch everything that’s going on. 
I know every heart because I made them. 
I open my hand and provide for all my creation, everything they need – food, water, air – everything, I made it and I provide it. 
Is there anything too hard for me to do?  I hung the stars in the sky.  I made the boundary for the waves.  I tore the curtain open so you can come to me.  Just come to me. 
Trust in me.  I am faithful.  I keep my promises. 
Everything on earth will disappear.  The earth and the heavens will one day run from my presence. 
I look at the big picture.  I see the future and the past.  I know what you will think next. 
You can trust me alone.  I alone am trustworthy. 
I alone will last forever. 
I created you
I love you
I will never leave you
I will never disappoint you
nor fail you
as long as you trust in me.

Don’t count on your warhorse to give you victory—for all it’s strength, it cannot save you.  Psalm 33:17 (NLT)

Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no hope for you there.  But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the Lord their God.  Psalm 146:3,5 (NLT)

19 September 2010

Forgiven or Indifference?


and forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us…  Luke 11:4 NLT

Long ago, there was an incredibly deep hurt.  Thanks to the Lord’s gracious gift of forgiving, and time, the wound is healed.  Thoughts are far removed from that dark time; it’s further away than a distant memory.  There is no longer pain, and speaking of it comes rather easily compared to when the hurt was an open, gaping hole.  It was the greatest hurt my heart endured.

This morning I wondered how I would respond if the offender would reappear in my life.  Would I be kind, caring, and hospitable; would I be able to show Christian love?  I believe that if the answer is anything other than a promptly spoken “yes” then true forgiveness has not yet occurred. 

A state of indifference is the lack of emotion.  No love, no hate.  Zero feeling.  Forgiveness means a clean slate.  Forgiveness allows love.  God is love. (1John4:7,8)  God requires forgiveness. (Mark 11:25) 

He is the source of my ability to forgive.  He alone makes it possible for me to promptly reply, “Yes, it is forgiven.”

The Lord is close to the broken hearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
Ps 34:18 NLT

The Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
Psalm 145:8 NLT

06 September 2010

The Stirring of A Heart

Ezra 1:1-6 (New Living Translation)

1 In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, the LORD fulfilled the prophecy he had given through Jeremiah. He stirred the heart of Cyrus to put this proclamation in writing and to send it throughout his kingdom:

2 “This is what King Cyrus of Persia says:
“The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has appointed me to build him a Temple at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. 3 Any of you who are his people may go to Jerusalem in Judah to rebuild this Temple of the LORD, the God of Israel, who lives in Jerusalem. And may your God be with you! 4 Wherever this Jewish remnant is found, let their neighbors contribute toward their expenses by giving them silver and gold, supplies for the journey, and livestock, as well as a voluntary offering for the Temple of God in Jerusalem.”

5 Then God stirred the hearts of the priests and Levites and the leaders of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple of the LORD. 6 And all their neighbors assisted by giving them articles of silver and gold, supplies for the journey, and livestock. They gave them many valuable gifts in addition to all the voluntary offerings.

God stirs the hearts of people He wants to use, so when we feel God stir our hearts, we should pay attention and do as He leads us to do. Do you agree? In the Old Testament book of Ezra, God stirred the heart of King Cyrus, whom He placed as king of “all the kingdoms of the earth.” The Lord stirred Cyrus’ heart to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem in Judah. King Cyrus obeyed God and issued a decree that allowed the Israelite captives in Babylon to return to help build the Temple. He gave them his blessing to do so. “May your God be with you.” In addition, Cyrus, King of Persia, decreed (ordered) the people of the kingdom to contribute generously to the Israelites who were returning to Jerusalem in Judah. The people were to give them articles of gold and silver, livestock, and a free will offering of money for the Temple of the Lord. The Lord also stirred the hearts of the Priests and all the Temple workers to go back to help with the rebuilding. The Lord also stirred King Cyrus to return all the gold and silver articles King Nebuchadnezzar confiscated from the [original] Temple of the Lord many years’ prior, sacred items he then placed into the temples of his pagan gods.

Mighty things come from the response to the stirring the Lord puts upon a heart. Consider what an historical event was birthed at the stirring of King Cyrus’ heart. The Temple of the Lord was rebuilt. What is the Lord stirring your heart to do today? How are you responding? Is He calling you to come to Him today? Will your response echo the psalmist who said, “My heart has heard you say, “Come, and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord I am coming.” Psalm 27:8 (nlt)

03 September 2010

Absence of Turmoil

sitting on the sand
looking out to the ocean
where the heavens touch the water,
the setting sun warms my shoulders.
the sound of the tide coming in
captures my thoughts and
carries them out
to the place where the water touches the sky.
then i consider the One who told the ocean,
'you can only go this far'
and peace floods my soul.
this is peace-
absence of turmoil.
this,
is peace.

17 July 2010

Because He Lives

YouTube - Nicole C. Mullen - Call on Jesus

YouTube - Nicole C. Mullen - Call on Jesus

Verse 1:
I'm so very ordinary, nothing special on my own.
Oh, I have never walked on water,
And I have never calmed a storm.
Sometimes I'm hiding away from the madness around me
Like a child who's afraid of the dark

Chorus:
But when I call on Jesus,
All things are possible
I can mount on wings like eagles' and soar
When I call on Jesus,
Mountains are gonna fall
'Cause He'll move heaven and earth to come rescue me when I call

La la la la la, la la la la la

Verse 2:
Weary brother, broken daughter,
Widowed, Widowed lover you're not alone
If you're tired and scared of the madness around you
If you can't find the strength to carry on

Chorus:
When you call on Jesus,
All things are possible
You can mount on wings like eagles' and soar
When you call on Jesus,
Mountains are gonna fall
'Cause He'll move heaven and earth to come rescue you when you--

Bridge:
Call Him in the morning', in the afternoon time
Late in the evening' He'll be there
When your heart is broken,
And you feel discouraged,
You can just remember that He said
He'll be there

Chorus (2x):
When I call on Jesus,
All things are possible
I can mount on wings like eagles' and soar
When I call on Jesus,
Mountains are gonna fall
'Cause He'll move heaven and earth to come rescue me (back to top first time, 2nd time finish with "when I call")

La la la la la, la la la la la, la la la la la-a-a