Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Parable of The Old Stud

The Old Grey Stud
Before you say anything, no, this is not a biographical piece. LOL! It's building a tiny home and not having enough supplies on the job site. You get desperate. How desperate? You'll see.

My friend Chuck and I were working on a few of the remaining walls on the project. I was looking through the scrape heap for a 48" 2x4 or something a little longer that I could cut without too much waste. There was nothing.

Well, there was some of the craps I had used last winter to hold the tarp on the trailer. I was indeed desperate. I picked up an old grey, weather piece of wood and measured it. Exactly 48"!! I wouldn't even have to cut it! So I picked it put it in place and nailed it into the wall.

The Old Rugged Cross
As I thought about it later I smiled. It was just like me. God reached down and grabbed a weathered old man and called him to be part of His family. He takes chances on lots of people and things seem to work out just fine.

How has God used you for His glory? He wants all of us to serve Him in some way. Are you using your gifts to shine a light on Jesus? We should be doing that. It's our job. :)

I was taking a break later that afternoon, looking at the old stud I had used when I noticed something else. Take a look at the picture to the right. I'm sure you can see it too.

What a blessing to be a child of God and to be serving others through the gifts He has given us. It makes me feel useful in my old age. Not "a stud" by any means, but a useful part of His family. And that is a good feeling.

"For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God." - Hebrews 3:4

The Old Rugged Cross - Johnny & June Carter Cash




Wednesday, October 18, 2017

What About Now?

There are times when we prefer to do things on our own. "We got this!" we tell ourselves. "No problem!" And sometimes we actually CAN do things on our own. But then there are other times when we need the help of someone else. Like last weekend for me. And like 2,000 years ago for all of us.

I constructed a few walls last weekend for a tiny home I am building. I did it all by myself. But when it came time to actually move the walls to the job site I was unable to do so. They were too heavy. A few days later however, when a couple of friends came over, all three of us managed to pick up the walls with no trouble at all.

Sometimes the opposite can be true. "There's no way I can do this all by myself. Why even bother?" We can be so unsure of ourselves that we often fail to even try. Perhaps, if we had simply made an effort, we could have made a difference.

Jesus made a difference.

2,000 years ago He sacrificed Himself, paying the penalty for OUR sins, so that we could do something we never could have done on our own. Get into heaven. We can never earn our way into heaven by trying to be good enough. We will always fail at that. But when we place our faith in Jesus, He does all the "heavy lifting" for us.

Have you ever thought about Jesus? Have you ever considered WHY He died? He died for YOU, you know. Embrace the One who has promised to never leave you.

There are people in this world who don't know Him. There are people, right now, in need of someone to do THEIR heavy lifting. We ALL can make a difference if we come together in love and exhibit the grace, mercy and compassion that God showed to us.

So, when are we going to do that? When are we going to love one another as Christ loved us?

What about now? What about today? Before it's too late.

"34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” - John 13:34-35

What About Now - Daughtry

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Lord Provides

I am sitting here in front of my computer, hands folded in prayer, trying to figure out what it is that God would like me to write about this morning. The topic is easy - God's provision. God provided SO many things this weekend. It was amazing. But that's what God does. The unbelievable. There were just so many examples of His provision this weekend. It is hard to choose!

First there was the tiny home I am building. I had scheduled a wall building event (a few weeks in advance) for this past Saturday. As the day approached the long-range weather forecast showed rain. So I prayed for an opening, an opportunity to build, in between the raindrops.

God provided.

Saturday morning there was a break in the rain from morning until noon. Plus twice the number of people showed up to help than I was expecting. The overnight rain stopped and we were able to build for 2 1/2 hours before the sprinkles began. Thank you Lord!

Another example of God's provision came Sunday morning when I was sitting in church. Suddenly my wife appeared next to me and said, "We have to go." One of our cats was having a medical emergency and was, as the vet told us later, very near to death.

Years earlier I had been gifted a three-day class at The Skip Barber Racing School. That training came in handy driving from Waupaca to Appleton, sometimes in excess of 90 miles per hour. All of this was done calmly and safely. The vet told us, "I was a good thing you arrived when you did."

The staff was able to revive him and my wife, who was in tears most of the morning, was grateful Sunday evening when the animal hospital called saying that her cat was much improved.

God provided once again.

But I think the example that best suits God's style, and is a perfect example of His provision, occurred Sunday afternoon. With her cat at the animal hospital, my wife wasn't feeling like attending a party but she did. It was our grandson's 5th birthday party.

Seeing grandchildren always improves the mood. But the moment that truly made my wife forget all of her troubles and concerns was captured by my daughter in this photos.

Have you ever heard of the place called Jehovah-jireh? It is the location where Isaac was bound on Mt. Moriah to be sacrificed. Just as Abraham raised his knife, he was stopped and God provided a substitutionary sacrifice. A foreshadowing of Jesus and HIS sacrifice for our sins. Jehovah-jireh means God provides. And He does.

"When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called the name of that place, The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” - Genesis 22:9-15

Paul Washer's Testimony about God's Provision

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Promises

Sometimes the struggles and trials we find ourselves in can be pretty deep and dark. There are times when the storms seem almost unbearable. We'd give anything to make the pain and the hurting stop. So what do we do? Where can we find hope? The answer is as simple as opening a door.

Sometimes, when we have the windows open in our house and the wind is blowing, doors can open and close by themselves. It's weird to see but sometimes, without us doing anything, doors can slam shut. That's not a super bad deal but when the litter box is downstairs and our cats are upstairs it CAN be an issue.

Sometimes our life can be like that. We can get so busy with a particular struggle or event that our focus on God disappears. The "door" of communication that once was open becomes shut. That's not good.

One way I've found to keep the door between myself and God open is to remind myself of His promises. When I feel alone, I remind myself that He has promised to never leave me. When I screw up and commit a sin I remind myself that God has promised to remove my sins as far as the east is from the west.

Sadly, there are many people who don't know Jesus and refuse to open any doors that might lead to Him. They are choosing to remain alone. Choosing to live with their sin burden. That is a terrible way to live.

The love of Christ is an open door. Once opened He promises that He will come into our lives and live with us . . . IN us.

God transforms lives through His forgiveness. He loves His children. Won't you please consider loving Him in return? Open the door.

"20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. " - Revelation 3:20

On my way to work yesterday I heard a song on the radio. I usually don't listen to the music on this particular station but I did that day for some reason. The lyrics reminded me of God's promises and sparked this story. Listen to it, then, let Him in. :)

The Promise - The Martins
Let 'Em In - Paul McCartney

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A Good Recommendation

Back in August I was contacted by a friend of mine who was looking for a place to stay on Mackinac Island. I knew the perfect place. But what I DIDN'T know was that I was about to be doing something that ALL of us Christians should be doing - every day of our lives.

My wife and I love to spend time together on Mackinac Island. If you have read this blog for any amount of time you have read  a few stories about our vacations there. When we go to Mackinac Island we always stay at the same place - The Bay View B&B. We absolutely love it there. Great food, great accommodations. Just an all-around wonderful place to stay.

When my friend asked about places to stay it was easy to recommend the Bay View. Words of praise flowed easily from my fingertips. It's not hard to make a favorable recommendation when you absolutely believe what you are saying about the place is true.

So what does my Bay View recommendation have to do with my Christian faith? Let's examine the steps.

First, my friend Bonny knew that my wife and I had been to Mackinac Island recently. She had seen some of the pictures I had taken on Facebook. Perhaps she had read some of the stories I had written. Who knows. The important thing here is that she KNEW that I might know of a place to stay, so, she asked. She asked me for my testimony.

(Can you see where this story is going now?)

We who profess a faith in Christ usually come equipped with a testimony, a story about how we came to believe. It's usually one of those stories where things start out kind of bad or blah, BUT THEN!!

Testimonies are wonderful things. I absolutely love hearing how people came to faith in Jesus. I love hearing about the events that lead up to the sudden realization that, "HEY, this Jesus is REAL!!"

Because of my excited testimony about the Bay View my friend booked a room there for their recent 40th anniversary trip. They were not disappointed. And that's exactly how it is when someone meets Jesus. They are NEVER disappointed when they take that step of commitment.

Are we excited when we talk to other people about our faith in Christ? We should be!

And look what happened as a result of this B&B recommendation. My wife and I now share something wonderful with my friends Denny and Bonny. We have all spent our 40th wedding anniversary on the same island and stayed at the same place. That's amazing.

And what's really cool is that Denny and Bonny, and my wife and I, will be spending eternity, staying at the same place - heaven. I have read that our Father's house has many rooms. And I am willing to bet that Rosie will be there as well serving up strawberry shortcake for everyone.

Big House - Audio Adrenaline

Monday, October 9, 2017

Walk Humbly

It's funny how God teaches us lessons. Well, it's not really "funny" I guess. Sometimes it hurts. USUALLY it hurts. Like just the other day . . .

I am building a tiny home. For the most part I have been doing it by myself. Sometimes my wife helps me or a friend comes over and pounds some nails for a bit. I enjoy the work. I enjoy designing and then building what I have designed.

But then this 64-year-old body tries to do what it once did at age 25 and things just don't go the way we thought they should. A lesson learned in human body dynamics at the expense of human emotion and pride.

I have some young friends who once thought they were above the law. Then they got arrested and spent some time in jail. That "alone time" changed them - for the better. Still they carried with them the stigmatism of having a record. Jobs and housing were hard to come by as a result.

There is a lesson to be learned in the humbling of one's self. Either we do it ourselves or God will do it for us. We are to become humble as we walk with our God, not remain narcissistic our entire lives. If we need to change our all-about-self status, God will be more than happy to help us do that.

"He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." - Micah 6:8

This song doesn't have too much to do with my story today but it contains that verse from Micah. Therefore, I chose it. It's a good reminder of what it means to be a man. Whether 25 or 65, we were made for a purpose - to seek justice, love mercy. and walk humbly with our God.

Courageous - Casting Crowns

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Daniel's Prayer

It's interesting and appropriate that my daily reading found me in the Book of Daniel this week. Chapter nine. Specifically, Daniel's prayer. Oh, what an amazing prayer it is; especially in light of what happened this past weekend in Las Vegas. Won't you please pray it with me?

I have substituted our present day cities and country names for those Daniel used. See if his prayer fits our needs today as we pray for Las Vegas and our entire nation.

“Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land.

“Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame - the people of Las Vegas and the inhabitants of Nevada and all America, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you. We and our kings, our princes and our ancestors are covered with shame, Lord, because we have sinned against you. The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; 10 we have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets. 11 All America has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you.

“Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against you. 12 You have fulfilled the words spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing on us great disaster. Under the whole heaven nothing has ever been done like what has been done to Las Vegas. 13 Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come on us, yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth. 14 The Lord did not hesitate to bring the disaster on us, for the Lord our God is righteous in everything he does; yet we have not obeyed him.

15 “Now, Lord our God, who brought your people out of the world with a mighty hand and who made for yourself a name that endures to this day, we have sinned, we have done wrong. 16 Lord, in keeping with all your righteous acts, turn away your anger and your wrath from Las Vegas, your city, your holy hill. Our sins and the iniquities of our ancestors have made Las Vegas and your people an object of scorn to all those around us.

17 “Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. 18 Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. 19 Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.” - Daniel 9:4-19

What an amazing prayer. What if we all prayed that prayer, each and every day? We are a nation deserving of God's wrath for the things we have done, and not done. Let us repent and turn to God. He has promised to heal our land. What are we waiting for?

"14 If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land." - 2 Chronicles 7:14

What If His People Prayed - Casting Crowns
Daniel Prayed - Patty Loveless & Rick Skaggs
The Book of Daniel

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Questions of Evil

The question has to be asked. "Where was God in Las Vegas last weekend?" Or "If God is such a loving God, why did He allow this to happen?" Logical questions I guess. The answer is simple. Two little words.

Before I tell you what those two little words are,
let me tell you something that's been bugging me.
 
There are different ways that people respond to tragic events such as the one that just happened in Las Vegas. For example, in the world of Facebook and Twitter people express their sadness or opinions about the situation in words. We read those words and know how someone feels. But what good does that do?

My least favorite phrase that gets uttered during times of loss is, “Our thoughts are with you.” Really? Our “thoughts”, if not turned into prayers, are meaningless. Here ends my commentary on “thoughts”. Let’s get back to the question about why evil exists in the world.

I promised you the answer in just two simple words. Here they are.

FREE WILL.

God created us with free will. In others words, we choose to do things. We CHOOSE to get up in the morning and go to work. On the way there we CHOOSE to obey traffic signs and NOT to obey speed limit signs. Adolf Hitler chose to order the killing of millions of Jews. The shooter in Las Vegas CHOSE to fire his weapon into a crowd. WHY? Only God knows why we make some of the decisions we do. however, it is WE who choose to do the evil.

28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them." - Romans 1:28-32

And where is God during all of this? He is right there amongst the hurting and the dead. He is welcoming some of His sons and daughters home. He is providing comfort to those who lost loved ones. He is there with His children. He positioned people at the event - a group of fire fighters who helped set up emergency triage, a band member who helped lead others to safety. He was there.

“But pity the man who falls and has no one to pick him up” - Ecclesiastes 4:10
 
God cries with those who mourn. Jesus cried over one man's death (Lazarus). But God has the power to raise the dead. So our prayers for the families of the fallen go up to the only One who can truly save - our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. May He have mercy on us for the choices we make, and forgive us when we do what is not right in HIS eyes.

Evil and Suffering - RZIM
Who Is Responsible For Evil? - Ravi Zacharias

Monday, October 2, 2017

Disappointed?

We've all been disappointed at some point in our lives. Things don't go the way we think they should. Things don't get done when we want them to. So many things disappoint us in this life. Wouldn't it be great if we could eliminate the disappointment from our lives? Well, maybe there is a way.

I was hoping to get lots of stuff done this weekend on the tiny home I am building. The weather looked like it was going to cooperate. Everything was lining up so I could accomplish just what I wanted to do.

Then I was reminded that my wife was taking a trip to visit her father. She asked me if I would like to come along. I said yes. Even though I knew I would be missing out on a day of construction, there are some things that are more important. Family. Marriage.

Well, at least I had Sunday. Oops. I guess not. Our grandson was singing in church. We HAD to go. He did a great job. Then we went out to eat afterwards. Family.

I didn't get all the things done I wanted to accomplish. But other things got done instead. Am I disappointed about not working more on the tiny home? Yes. But I got to see my father-in-law. As I was showing him pictures of the tiny home project he put his arm around me in appreciation. Priceless. I also got to spend time with my wife, which is ALWAYS good. I got to see my son and his wife, her parents and our grandson. A hug from each of them, especially the grandson, was priceless. Oh, and we all worshiped together. Again, priceless.

Politicians disappoint us, NFL football players have disappointed us of late too. So what do we do? There are so many things that disappoint. But there is One who never disappoints. I have heard it said that, "If you think God has disappointed you, you don't know Him very well."

When I get disappointed with life's events or in the people I encounter around me, I try to stop and think about all of the blessings I have been given and remind myself who gave them to me. That usually snaps me right out of the disappointed mood I find myself in.

I also remind myself that I myself disappoint God every single day. Who am I to complain when things don't go MY way.

When you feel disappointed in life, try reading God's Word. Remind yourself of His promises to each of us - His sons and daughters. Then, specifically, read this and see how it makes you feel. It always leaves me feeling better than before I began.

"28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

More Than Conquerors

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 8:28-39

So, how are you feeling now? I don't know about you but I'm feeling better. :)

If God is for us, who can stand against us? No one! So forget about life's disappointments and seize the day by seizing and reading your Bible. You will find that being reminded of your faith in Christ can remove many of the disappointments we feel in life. So rejoice . . . and read!

I watched this old Hee Haw video with my father-in-law on Saturday. He liked it. Maybe you will too.

Gloom Despair and Agony on Me - Hee Haw
Don't Worry About Tomorrow - Van Morrison

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Swamp

When I was a kid on our farm in Michigan I spent a lot of time in "The Swamp". I'd go down to the swamp and catch frogs, turtles, snakes or anything else that moved. The swamp is where I had my fun. This story is not about THAT swamp.

Sadly, these days "The Swamp" is in Washington D.C. The snakes that live there get THEIR fun out of spending other people's money and making rules and laws that they usually don't obey themselves.

Our latest president won the election based on a word picture that resonated with many American voters. He said he wanted to "drain the swamp". Most Americans would like nothing more than to start over and recall ALL of our senators and congressmen and women from Washington and begin anew. Nothing seems to be getting done.

Our government throws our money at all kinds of ridiculous things.

I saw a video this week about a guy who decided to build some houses for all of the homeless people living in Hollywood. And there are a lot of homeless there! Things were going well with the project. Houses were getting built, people were loving that they had a roof over their heads.

Then the government got involved. They removed their tiny homes and destroyed them. One would think that if someone like the guy building the Tiny Homes wants to build them and give them to people, they would let him. But no.

LA Musician Builds Tiny Homes For The Homeless

Our government spends money on the stupidest things. They spend OUR money watching birds, vacation for people placed on administrative leave, or solar beer. Here's a Top Ten List.

Top Ten Most Ridiculous Government Programs

The model I like for helping others is found in The Book of Acts. If there was a need the members of the church took care of it.

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." - Acts 2 42-47

I'm not saying the church should pay for every government program. I'm saying that when there is a need it should be taken care of, or at least allow people to meet that need if they want to.

Is there someone in YOUR life who has a need? I'll bet there is. When you encounter someone in need, what would YOU do? Think about that. What would God have YOU do?
 
Helping Others