There is something hidden in this picture. Can you see it? It's the most important thing in my life, yet sometimes it takes a back seat to other things. I need to reassess my priorities.
I have now spent two weeks in my new "cube" at work. It's all new and fresh and I'm sure it's trendy and modern, just what our clients are hoping to see but . . . I hate it. I sit right out in the open with no privacy what so ever. It seems like however designed it was more interested in making a statement than making workers comfortable. And WE designed it ourselves!! It makes me sad. It shouldn't be that way.
Here's something else that's sad. I'm a slob. I just dumped all of my cube items on the counter until I could figure out what to do with them. Look, there's my water bottle and my Tic Tacs, a coupon for a free ice cream cone at A&W and . . . the cross my daughter gave me. Oh . . . my. It shouldn't be that way either.
The cross is the reason I took this picture. It's just lying there with my junk. It should have been the first thing I thoughtfully placed on the wall. Instead, it's just there, semi-hidden behind a plastic up. Sad. I'M sad.
But isn't that how we are with our faith most of the time? We never put it on display for others to see. We just hide it in with our other stuff. We take it out on Sunday and maybe say a prayer if we get into trouble or need something we aren't sure we'll get. Is that faith? What IS faith?
Faith is defined as "having complete trust or confidence in someone or something." By that definition I can have faith in my wife, my car, my toilet (hey, it's a Kohler). To say I have faith in God kind of diminishes God when I throw Him together with my car and my toilet. Kind of like my cross at work, partially hidden from view.
I think the operative word in the definition of faith is "complete". Complete trust. Do I have complete trust in my car? Well, no. My toilet? Well, it did break down that one time. By complete trust . . . do they mean , like, ALL the time? I think that's what complete means in this case.
If that's the case, I guess the only thing I have true faith in is God. He has never let me down. Rather, I think it is I who have let HIM down. My faith in God is not strong or complete enough to justify his choosing me to be one of His children. ALL the benefits that come with THAT distinction - a child of God - are innumerable.
So what should we do with our faith? I think we are called to wear it, always. I think we are supposed to wear it, continually.
"13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats"; do not be frightened.” 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 19 After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— 20 to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him." - 1 Peter 3:13-22
Noah's number one priority was God. Because of that he and his family survived the flood. If we are yto survive the "floods" in OUR lives, who should be OUR top priority?
Priorities - Francis Chan
God Is My Priority Now
Saturday, July 22, 2017
Friday, July 21, 2017
"Well, I do."
I have been caught in the blast zone of suicide . . . more than once. I'm sure you have taken a hit too. We all have. We've all asked the questions. We all have found that the questions never end. And the answers . . . the answers are frightfully hard to come by.
How does a person get to the point where they decide to end it all? They choose to pull the plug rather than live one more day. Why?
Read this Facebook comment by John Cooper, lead singer of Skillet.
I don't usually speak out on things like this, but I feel I must. Like everyone else, I'm just shocked and broken over the suicide of Ches...ter Bennington. I didn't know him, never met him. But his music inspired me greatly. The first linkin park record "hybrid theory " has remained in my top 10 best albums of all time, and top 5 best Rock albums. I LOVE linkin park and I LOVE Chester's voice and it has been ripped away and stolen. There's no way to sugar coat this , or make it prettier. This just simply SUCKS. I've got nothing to say that can help. Michael Jackson, prince, Chris Cornell, now Chester..I just feel like I reach out to grab ahold of something that can make sense of this madness and there is nothing there reaching back. Just infinite blackness. Tragic. I don't want to preach. I don't want to judge. I don't want to make trite statements as if I have this figured out. I do not. Just like all his other fans, I'm confused.
I want to say out of total love and respect for the fans, just look at what suicide does to those who love you. It ravages the lives of those you leave behind. It's not poetic. It's not an answer. For those of you who have been suicidal, or had thoughts about suicide, please find someone to talk to. There's nothing to be embarrassed about. Find someone that you can be honest with. We all feel a little dark sometimes. Some of us more than others. We all need hope. We all need healing. We are all the same. Please reach out to someone. Thehopeline.com
"God is my refuge and my strength. He is always ready to help me in my times of trouble." (Psalm 46:1)
I think the real reason people take their own lives is fear. Fear of another day alone. Fear of another day of an unfulfilled life. Fear of one more day of pain. They grow weary of the battle and just chose the nearest exit. What they DON'T realize is their opening the wrong door.
Look at the picture above. Look at Chester's adoring fans. The stadium is FILLED with them. The picture tells you he was loved by millions. Yet, in Chester's mind, it wasn't enough.
There is a door left unopened in Chester's life. There is a door, behind which, lies al the answers. Chester chose not to open it. Too bad. If he had, he'd still be with us today.
When life gets hard it can suck sometimes. When we're alone and thoughts start going through our heads it's hard to think about going on sometimes. But that's the precise moment when we must! That's the moment when we must fight our hardest and reach out. That's the time that when breaking the habit is most critical. Knock on the door!!!
"9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.
10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. 12 But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. 13 The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. 15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd." - John 10:9-16
Jesus is the door.
7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened." - Matthew 7:7-8
Linkin Park Singer Was Hit Hard By Chris Cornell's Suicide
One More Light - Linkin Park
Breaking The Habit - Linkin Park
Wednesday, July 19, 2017
It seemed like just about everything that could have gone wrong, DID go wrong.
Where do bad days come from anyway? Are they just a random series of bad events strung together to make one incredibly sucky day? Or does someone have something against us?
God allows bad things to happen to us. Read the Book of Job. It's true. What possible reason would a loving God have that He would allow us to undergo torment and pain? Good question. But God also rewards those who persevere. Again, read the Book of Job.
I think God allows bad days to see how we handle them. I failed my "bad day test" yesterday. That usually means that I will face that same test again someday. I hope I do better when that day comes cuz yesterday sucked. I need to be more like Job. Job had the ultimate bad day. Again, read the Book of Job. And how did he respond to the worst day of his life?
We may have bad days from time to time, but blessed be the name of The Lord.
"Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised." - Job 1:21
"I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth." - Job 19:25
Bad Day - Fuel
Monday, July 17, 2017
I attended a worship service at Lifest last past weekend. Wes Stafford (president of Compassion International) and Bob Lenz (president of Life Promotions) - delivered messages on hope.
During Bob's message I heard something I had never heard before. I mean, I'd heard it before but I'd never really thought about it in the way he offered it. He asked the following question. See if you can figure out the answer?
"Where do we find hope?" Where can we find hope in a world that is slowly killing itself? The answer is in the picture above.
Go get your bibles out and open them to 1 Corinthians 13 - the love chapter. Skip past the "love is patient, love is kind" part and go down to verse 13. Let's read it together.
"13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." - 1 Corinthians 13:13
Look at those three words - faith, hope and love. Where is hope? Well, it's right in the middle, right between "faith" and "love."
Think about that for a moment.
Do you have faith in God? Do you love God? If you answered yes to those two questions you HAVE hope. Hope is right there between those two things - not only in the Bible but in our lives as well.
Faith is defined as "complete trust or confidence in someone or something."
Love is defined as "an intense feeling of strong affection."
If we place our faith in God, and God . . . is love (1 John 4:8) does it make sense then to say, "When we place our faith in God and we love God, our hope can also be found in God? I think it does. And so does God's Word.
7 “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you." - Psalm 39:7
We humans tend to place our hope in the most unusual places. We place hope in doctors and nurses when we are sick. But when THEY tell us there is no hope, what then?
Hope is defined as "a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen."
Do you have a "certain thing" you hope will happen? I do. We might want a certain person to change their ways. Have a change of heart. We may desire it but where is our hope that it will actually happen? Who can change people's hearts?
Only God can do that. Is our hope then in God? That He can change someone's heart? It should be. God IS our hope. God is where our help comes from.
"I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth." - Psalm 121:1-2
If we love God and if we have faith in Him . . . we already HAVE hope!
Hope Is A Good Thing - Shawshank Redemption
My Life Is In You Lord
Saturday, July 15, 2017
Each year at Lifest, a Christian music concert in our area, we camp out with thousands of our brothers and sisters in Christ. The music is wonderful, the conversations are wonderful but the weather is sometimes hot and humid like it was this year.
We have developed a Lifest tradition that my friend and I take our group of campers to the office where we work so we all can take showers and smell better. This year was no exception.
Saturday morning we arrived at our workplace and went upstairs to the workout area to shower. Situation normal except we were getting new carpeting in our office and there was a carpet layer there working on the stairs so we had to walk around him.
After our showers was sat in the board room, talking about our Lifest experience. Lots of laughs and tears too as we shared our hearts with one another.
We were all hungry by that point so we set off for another Lifest tradition - breakfast at Perkins. We headed downstairs, me leading the way, talking with my friend David who was right behind me. David is like a son to me, but more on that in a moment. The others followed behind.
As we neared the bottom of the stairs we hear the voice of someone calling out in the wilderness. No, it wasn't John the baptist, it was Jim the carpet guy.
"No, no no!!!!"
I looked down and I was standing in a fresh layer of carpet adhesive. Suddenly, behind me, there was a BOOM! My friend David had slipped and fallen, right in the glue. What a mess.
The carpet guy was very nice, trying to help us to get the glue off our shoes. But he wouldn't touch David's shorts. And neither would anyone else! LOL!
David changed back into his dirty shorts and my friend Gayle took them to her daughter's house for a cleaning. While she went to put David's pants in the wash the rest of us went to Perkins. On the way there I related how we were missing the example God had just provided for us. A living example of The Gospel.
Yup. I explained . . .
"As we walked down the stairs, The Father (me) was leading the Son (David). The Son sacrificed Himself for those who were following him so that they would not get stick in sin (the glue that sticks to us all)."
Then Molly added from the back seat, "Yeah! And the humble servant (Jim , the carpet guy) was washing your feet!"
|"Perkins Jesus" - back, right|
When the hostess sat us down at our table I looked across the room. There, seated at the far table, was a man . . . with long, brown hair and a beard, wearing a linen shirt. I then told Molly and David to look over to see if they saw the same thing I did. They did and broke out laughing. They guy looked just like Jesus!
"If he's wearing sandals I'm going to lose it," I said to my friends. They looked. He was! And we laughed even harder.
On almost a daily basis, God provides us with Living examples of who He is. Whether it's in the mountains or the stars, walking down the stairs at work or at Perkins - He is teaching us.
Oh, I almost forget. The glue in David's shorts. What a perfect representation of the sins in our lives. It is only when we are "washed clean" of our sins, the glue that adheres to us in this world, can we be free to enter the presence of our Lord and Savior Jesus.
My friend used Goo-Gone to get ride of the glue on David's pants. All WE have to do is place our faith and hope in Jesus and he will make everything new, and clean.
"16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." - Romans 1:16-20
37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
Made To Worship - Chris Tomlin
Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Checking my speedometer I saw that I was doing 68 . . . in a 55 MPH zone. Thirteen over. In my mind that's a mandatory ticket. There is money to be made when you are that far over the speed limit. Hundreds of dollars in fines.
As I sat there by the side of the road, I sent a text to my young friend, explaining that I would be late. The officer was stepping out of his squad car now, approaching mine.
"Good evening sir," he said. "May I see your identification and proof on insurance please?"
I handed him both.
"You were going 68 in a 55. Heading home from work?"
"No. I was heading into town for a meeting with a homeless family."
"I'll be right back," and he returned to his car.
This was not going to be good. I was going to be late for a very important meeting. I was going to be out hundreds of dollars due to my inattentiveness. Money that could have been used to help the people I was on my way to meet. Ironic. And it was my fault. I was clearly guilty and was prepared for what was to come.
I saw the officer open up his car door.
"Here comes the bad news.," I thought to myself. "What an idiot I was!"
He gave me back my drivers license and, reaching out with his huge, tattooed arm, he said . . .
"I'm giving you a verbal warning. Please, pay more attention to your speed."
"Thank you, sir." were the only words the officer heard. But in my heart I was thanking God for the grace this man had just showed me. As I resumed my travel into town I wondered, "Why did he let me off? I was guilty! Was it the Bible sitting on my front seat? the Lifest wrist band I am still wearing? Or was it God who softened his heart? Or perhaps this man in blue was an angel, exhibiting God's grace, trying to keep one of His children safe. Only God knows. Either way I am grateful for the grace extends to all of us who believe.
Our laws demand obedience. So does God. When we break our earthly laws there are penalties to be paid. The same is true for God's laws. God's grace is exhibited in by His sending His Son to pay our fine for us. Love, justice, grace and mercy all on display . . . on the cross.
"8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace." - Romans 6:8-14
Wonderful, Merciful Savior - Selah
Monday, July 10, 2017
There is a definite letdown upon returning home from such an amazing, uplifting event. There is a large part of me that never wants the time we spent there to end. A LARGE part.
I have said before that Lifest is a taste of what heaven will be like. I think that still rings true. But it's not EXACTLY like heaven. There are still plenty of non-believers there. I witnessed one young man honking his horn at a disabled woman as she tried to cross the street. There's still plenty of "the world" at Lifest, but for the most part it is still an amazing place and an amazing event.
Going into Lifest week I was unsure about returning but now, after some of the conversations we had back at our campsite, as Molly put it Saturday afternoon, "We're going to keep coming back year after year after year until we are dead."
For those who don't believe it is hard to describe so I won't even try. For those who do believe, I don't have to explain at all. You already know what fellowship means. Lifest is THAT for four consecutive days.
Still, I am back in the world now. So are all my brothers and sisters. We are "in the world but not of the world." But today . . . today we are recharged in our faith, lifted up by God's Holy Spirit, and made new once again.
My friend and I sat, praying for 45 minutes Saturday night. There are so many people in need of prayer . . . including ourselves. So many people need God. We lift them up to Him in prayer because that is what we have been called to do. And it is a joy to do so.
When Lifest ended, yes, there was a letdown. But it was a beautiful letdown in that, we KNOW this world is no longer our home. Our home is in heaven - a future home with no pain, no suffering, only love. praise and worship. Jesus is our high priest. We are no longer under The Law. We are under God's grace. May we be grace-filled as while we are in this world so others may see us and praise our Father in heaven. He will NEVER let us down.
"10 We have an altar from which the priests in the Tabernacle have no right to eat. 11 Under the old system, the high priest brought the blood of animals into the Holy Place as a sacrifice for sin, and the bodies of the animals were burned outside the camp. 12 So also Jesus suffered and died outside the city gates to make his people holy by means of his own blood. 13 So let us go out to him, outside the camp, and bear the disgrace he bore. 14 For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.
15 Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. 16 And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God." - Hebrews 13:10-16
Beautiful Letdown - Switchfoot
Saturday, July 8, 2017
Last night we sat in our screen tent, talking with a mother of two that my friend had invited to the event. Somehow I ended up giving my testimony to this lady. It was interesting watching her eyes as I told her the story of how God had reached out to me. She was soaking it in. Then I asked her about her story. Oh my.
Let me just say that, if their was ever a life filled with more hardship, I haven't heard the story. Wow. As I listened, the thoughts in my head were filled with compassion and mercy. "Where were the supporting and encouraging people in her life?" I wondered. Where was the church?
Later that evening I checked my messages on Facebook and found one from another single mom. I hadn't heard from this kid for a year and suddenly, boom, here she was reaching out for help. She, her boyfriend and young daughter are currently homeless.
I go back to the question, "Why do we keep coming to Lifest?" The answer is, "It's not for US. It was never about US. It's not about our comfort. It's for those we meet here. Those we invite here like my friend did. It's an event for us to bring people to and to encourage them in their struggling walk through this world. JESUS is why we are here. This is not about us.
All this stuff happened on Thursday, the opening day. Who knows what will happen the rest of the week. And we were wondering about coming back next year? Friday morning I ordered our tickets and campsites for 2018. God is moving in this place. How can we, His children, NOT be here . . .. moving along with him?
Lifest has as its slogan, "A Party With A Purpose". There is most definitely a purpose here. That "purpose" is loving others where they are at. It is introducing others to the God of the Universe and showing them how much he cares for them. Come back next year? Oh yeah.
There are hands reaching out to for help everywhere in this world. Many don't know who they are reaching out for - anyone who is willing to help. My dear friends, let me tell you about Jesus.
"25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” - Matthew 14:25-31
There is power in Peter's words as they tell us what we must do to be saved. He cried out to Jesus and was saved. Who in your life is reaching out their hand for help?
Reach Out To Jesus - Elvis Presley
Paul Washer on Evangelism
Wednesday, July 5, 2017
Our daughter gave birth to a beautiful baby girl yesterday. My wife and I were so excited. Nothing could have kept us away from seeing this little pink-faced beauty. Yesterday morning my wife was in Door County - a three-hour drive away from the hospital. Suddenly, with one text message, her priorities were changed and we were on the way to the hospital.
Let's stop and think about our priorities for a moment. What comes first in our lives kind of tells people who we are. If someone looked at you and had to list your top three priorities, what would they be?
Before I came to faith in Christ, my priorities were set. I thought they were pretty good at the time. Maybe yours are similar.
As we examine ourselves, which the Bible tells us we should do, do we ever find ourselves lacking? I did. So I changed my priorities. So can you, if you find them out of order.
I saw a quote yesterday my Mohandas Gandhi, I think it's true. Our actions express our priorities.
What do our actions say about us? If we say we are Christians, God should be our top priority, yet I know Christians that don't go to church. They don't attend worship. We were created to worship! Our priorities tell other who we worship.
I know people at work who always seem to be at work. They are always in early. They always stay late. They work weekends too. The company loves them! Personally, I think their priorities are screwed up.
Our new grand daughter is redefining priorities for many people this week. And that's a very good thing. But let us always remember who is #1. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
"5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?" - 2 Corinthians 13:5
"33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." - Matthew 6:33
"9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it." - 2 Corinthians 5:9
Monday, July 3, 2017
I stumbled across a video of a young man from England singing a song in tribute to his friend who died at the age of 18. The song took on a special meaning for me when the young singer explained how he interpreted the lyrics of the song. The song's chorus ends with this line.
"It's hard for me to say, I'm jealous of the way you're happy without me."
The singer in the video said he was jealous of his friend because he knew his friend was now in heaven . . . without him.
Everyone of us has lost someone to death. The older we get the list of the people we lose just keeps getting longer. Although all deaths of loved ones are sad, as we mature as Christians, we discover that, yes, we can be jealous of our dead friend or relative because they are with Jesus . . . and we are not.
I received a thank you card this week from the daughter of my friend Ali who died a few weeks ago. What a treasure that card was to receive. You see, my friend Ali knew she was dying (cancer) so you know what she did? She purchased some thank you cards before she died and signed them all. She did that so those attending her funeral would be thanked, not only by the surviving family members, but by Ali as well. A little piece of her to hold on to.
Am I jealous of her? Not really. But I AM happy for her. Her pain and suffering is over and she has seen Jesus. Okay, I'm a little jealous of that, but only a little. I'll see Him soon enough. Until then I will rejoice for the time Ali and I shared as friends and rejoice that I will get to see her again.
"21 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children." - Revelation 21:1-7
X Factor - 21 year old mechanic sings Labrinth's Jealous
There Will Be A Day - Jeremy Camp