Monday, June 29, 2015

How To Simplify Your Life

I think there comes a time in just about everyone's life when we need to simplify things. Our lives get SO busy. We take on too many things. We just can't say no when it comes to taking on just one . . . more . . . thing.

Why do we do that to ourselves? Are we such people pleasers that we forget to take time out for ourselves? Or for God?

There are several people in my life who have confessed to me that they have taken on WAY more than they can handle. And, I'm not totally sure about this but, . . . I think I am one of them. I think if I could just go to work but not actually "work" that would be great. I could catch up on all the things I have to do and I would be much better off. I'll ask my boss this morning. We could probably work something out, right? Umm . . . no.

It is very easy to take on too much in our lives. It is also too easy to place God on the back burner until we have time for Him . . . somewhere in the future.

I've been reading through the Old Testament again and came across this little factoid the other day.

"26 When you have entered the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance and have taken possession of it and settled in it, 2 take some of the first fruits of all that you produce from the soil of the land the Lord your God is giving you and put them in a basket. Then go to the place the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name 3 and say to the priest in office at the time, “I declare today to the Lord your God that I have come to the land the Lord swore to our ancestors to give us.” 4 The priest shall take the basket from your hands and set it down in front of the altar of the Lord your God." - Deuteronomy 26:1-4

FIRST fruits.

Does it make sense to begin our days with prayer, thereby laying OUR first fruits at the altar for God? I think it does. Maybe not RIGHT away when we are still waking up but soon thereafter. Dedicate your day to the Lord. Pray for those in your life who have a need for that particular day. Give glory to God for all the things He has done and has yet to do.

Let us place God first in everything. Let us offer our first fruits to Him each and every day. If we think about God FIRST, suddenly the things in our lives that come AFTER those thoughts seem less important. Try it today. Give some time to God this morning. Already do that? Give Him some MORE time. See how your day goes after that. :)

Glory To God - Fee

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Forest For The Trees

There is an old saying that goes, "You can't see the forest for the trees." How do I know it's an old saying? Well, I am old and . . . I know exactly what it means. It means we get SO focused on one thing that we lose track of the bigger picture. Examples of this saying occur more often than we think. Especially in Washington, D.C.

Yesterday the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 vote to make gay marriage legal in the United States. Look at the vote - five to four. Basically, it was one vote that swayed the court's decision and the direction of a nation.  Wow.

But I am not going to be writing about gay marriage today and whether it is right or wrong. I don't have an opinion on the matter. I simply follow God and His Word. Today I am writing about one of the "trees" in the forest we live in. Gay marriage is simply "one of the trees." A woman's "right" to have an abortion is another "tree." Pornography. Glutony. All trees in a forest.

We are not seeing the big picture in this historic decision by our country's highest court. Step back a minute and take a look at the bigger picture . . . the forest of religious freedom. Individual freedom.

June 26th, 2015 the government of the United States took a rather large step in extending its power of its people. "Gay rights" is just a means to an end - a vehicle used to accomplish an overall "forest" goal.

Many states had already passed laws based on "the will of the people" making marriage between one man and one woman. The federal government, through the decision made yesterday, has asserted it's authority over the state government and . . . other the will of it's people. That is huge!

In the Book of Acts there was a speech given by Setphen. He gave it in front of the religious lawmakers of his time - the Sanhedrin. Stephen lectured them on Jewish history and then on the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. They killed him because of his words . . .

"51 “You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! 52 Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him - 53 you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it. - Acts 7:51-53

The Supreme Court's decision is merely an symptom of a far greater disease - our nation's disobedience to God. WE are the stiff-necked people of this time in world history. We enjoy looking at and climbing our trees, even though the forest we are living in is on fire.

I am not writing about gay marriage and its legalization yesterday. That horse got out of the barn LONG ago. I am writing about the disobedience of a people and the increasing reach of our national government over state government. And I am writing about Biblical prophesy being fulfilled before out very eyes.

We serve a loving, merciful God. No one could possibly love us more. But God is also just judge. He punishes those who disobey His commands to the third and fourth generations. Our children will pay the price for what we have done. I pray that God would have mercy on our souls.

There was once a mighty nation who very quietly removed the power of it's people from them. They instituted gun control. They began persecuting a religious people and putting them to death. And the nation's people didn't have a clue what was happening until it was too late. That nation was Nazi Germany.

Speaking of prophesy, years before World War II began, a famed statesman wrote the following words. How prophetic! And how applicable to the times we are living in today.

"“When the situation was manageable it was neglected, and now that it is thoroughly out of hand we apply too late the remedies which then might have effected a cure. There is nothing new in the story. It is as old as the sibylline books. It falls into that long, dismal catalogue of the fruitlessness of experience and the confirmed unteachability of mankind. Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong–these are the features which constitute the endless repetition of history.”" - Winston Churchill, 1935

There is still hope for our once-great nation but the light is getting dim. As usual, God, whose promises are always true, has provided a way out for us. It's quite simple really, yet it is proving too difficult for us to even consider. Because of our pride and our unwillingness to repent and humble ourselves before the Lord, we will be judged. But God has promised us this:

"14 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

This is a time for prayer and for repentance. Worse things are coming for God's chosen people. We must be prepared for what lies ahead and we much look at the entire forest here, not just the single tree of same-sex marriage.

We are definitely a stiff-necked people. Can we truly humble ourselves? I doubt it. But the answer can be found in the Bible, where it has always been. Please read it. And our hope is in The Lord. The humble yourself . . . and pray.

Franklin Graham on the Coming Persecution of Christians


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Best Surprises

What do you think of when you hear the word "surprise?"

Someone jumping out of the bushes at you on Halloween night? A surprise party perhaps. Everyone hides and when the guest arrives they all scream "SURPRISE!"

How about getting engaged? That can be a surprise . . . one way or another. But of all the kinds of surprises there are in the world, what are the absolute best surprises? What makes some surprises better than others?

STEALTH - A surprise party is just not the same if the guest of honor already knows it's going to happen. There has to be an element of "surprise" in order for it to be a surprise. But you know that already. The best surprises are the totally unexpected ones.

DESIRE - The recipient of the surprise has to WANT to receive what they are about to get. An engagement ring, a pay raise, a newlywed couple finding they are expecting. Yay!

LOVE - I think that love must be present for the really GOOD surprises. Again, the engagement ring is a good example.

ETERNITY - Most people who receive these surprises don't want to moment to end. The would like to live in that moment forever, linger in it and soak it in . . . deep.

See if the following example of a surprise doesn't have all four characteristics of an amazingly wonderful surprise.

"11 Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. 12 She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. 13 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her.

“Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”

14 She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. 15 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?”

She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”

16 “Mary!” Jesus said."
- John 20:11-16

I suppose Jesus could have yelled, "Surprise!!" but it wouldn't have had the same meaning as it does with just the single word, "Mary!"

The greatest surprise of all, the resurrection of Jesus, had all three characteristics of a really great surprise - Mary was totally unsuspecting. She desired that Jesus had not died. And Jesus loved Mary enough to reveal Himself to her, first. And His surprise was eternal. The perfect surprise.

This week I received several surprises fitting the description above. The gift of a cupcake on my desk from a dear friend, Facebook messages from a couple former youth group kids who I love, and then I found out my sister is coming to visit this weekend. All wonderful surprises

I think God loves surprises. What makes me think so? Jesus already told us. He has a big one in store.

"42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." - Matthew 24:42-44

"Surprise!"

Soldiers Coming Home

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Increase Of Wickedness

These days I tend to question whether or not I want to watch the news on television. It's good to be informed about what is going on in the world. Yet, at the same time, it is difficult to watch for the very same reason - what's going on in the world.

The most recent mass shooting took place in South Carolina in a church Bible study no less. A young man walked into a church and killed nine people. I would have a really hard time with all of the violence this world is offering up these days if it weren't for my faith and the things I have come to know.

All of this - the increased lawlessness, the hatred we are showing for one another, the love we are supposed to have for one another, vanishing - it has all been predicted in the Bible.

"10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved." - Matthew 24:10-13

Those words were spoken by Jesus when His disciples asked Him what signs they might see that His return might be imminent. The signs Jesus spoke of are all visible on the nightly news.

As I read through the Bible, especially the prophetic texts, I can't help but come to the conclusion that the time is near for His coming. There's a whole series of things that are supposed to happen. A lot of that is WAY beyond my comprehension. All I know is, Jesus is coming back, He gave us some signs to look for, I'm seeing many of them happening right now. What other conclusion should we draw?

The increase of wickedness we are seeing is particularly disturbing. Innocent people are being killed at a greater rate than ever before. What's a people to do?

  1. Read the Bible - Read so you will become knowledgeable about the signs if the times.
  2. Pray - Let God hear your sorrow and your desire for a more loving world. He DOES hear your prayer!
  3. Love One Another - Love comes from God. If we all loved one another, as Jesus commanded, we wouldn't be having these problems.
  4. Spread The Gospel - Only a saving faith in Jesus can get us through this mess. He is our only source of hope.
The only way we can lead a desperate and dying world out of the darkness is to shine brightly of love for one another. And that love comes from God. It is HIS love, shining through us, that stands out in a world filled with evil.

Did you watch the people in the courthouse addressing the young man who killed their brothers and sisters in Christ? They forgave him. They prayed for him. That is something that this world has trouble believing - that Christians would care about someone that just killed their friends. That is because they do not understand the Gospel. We need to do a better job of presenting it and sharing it and loving those that the world finds unlovable.

"11 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother's righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us." - 1 John 11:24

What The World Needs Now Is Love - Jackie DeShannon

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Blackbirds II: The Second Coming

One of things I really enjoy doing is taking a walk in God's creation while reading my Bible. I can't always read . . . but when I do . . . it's usually on asphalt. :)

We have an asphalt walking trail where I work in Neenah. It's called The Friendship Trail. Kind of a generic name, although I have made some friends on the trail and I usually go walking with my best friend on the trail at lunchtime so I guess the name fits.

My friend and I were out walking the other day when we noticed a jogger approaching us. He was just jogging along, minding his own business. Suddenly a bird flew out of a tree and pecked him on the head from behind. The guy never saw it coming. And look at that beak! Ouch!!

I yelled out, "I saw that!" chastising the Red-Winged Blackbird that had just attacked someone on the so called "Friendship Trail."

"What was that? A bird?" the jogger asked.

"Yup. Red-Winged Blackbird. Their eggs have hatched and they are VERY protective of their young."

The following day I was out walking all by myself. Same trail. Same time. I saw another jogger, a woman this time, approaching the "danger zone." Guess what I did. I yelled out a warning.

"Watch out for the birds!! They're angry today!"

"I know! I got attacked yesterday!" was her reply, as she turned her head around - scanning. Danger was literally in the air.

Let me pause right here to have you read some scripture.

"The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, speak to your people and say to them, If I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from among them, and make him their watchman, 3 and if he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows the trumpet and warns the people, 4 then if anyone who hears the sound of the trumpet does not take warning, and the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet and did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But if he had taken warning, he would have saved his life. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman's hand." - Ezekiel 33:1-6

How does that apply to the blackbirds? Well, if I had not warned the lady she could have been attacked. Her blood would have been on MY hands.

And how does that apply to our walk with Jesus? Let me ask you this? Are you the jogger or the watchman? When you see a friend doing something wrong, do you lovingly correct them? Do you ask them a question like, "I saw you hide a bag of something in your purse when that cop came by. What is it? What are you doing?"

Do you have an accountability partner? Is there someone in your life who keeps an eye on you and is not afraid to confront you if that catch you doing something bad?

I have several accountability partners. When they speak, I listen, because I know they love me and care about me and don't want me to make mistakes I will regret later. They don't want me to get hurt when they KNOW I will.

Who are YOU accountable to? When everyone has gone home and you are all alone, what do you do when no one is watching. Hey. SOMEONE is ALWAYS watching. God.

And don't be afraid to speak up. Somebody's life may depend on it. And, based on the verses above, the life you save might be your own.

To Save A Life Movie Trailer

How To Save A Life - The Fray

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Listen To What He Says

I was in a Bible study once where our assignment was to read a passage of scripture over and over again, refining it each time. Whittling it down to see if we could discern the basic message God wanted us to hear.

The text I chose was Jesus at the wedding in Cana. Let's read it together.

"On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

6 Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. 9 When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him." - John 2:1-11

The things that popped out at me from this text are these:

"On the third day . . ." - Jesus in the New Testament and God in the Old Testament did many things on "the third day," most notably of which was when Jesus was raised from the dead. And speaking or miracles . . .

"My hour has not yet come." - Jesus was speaking of His crucifixion and overcoming death - the REAL miracle! Not this silly water-into-wine stuff.

The part of this text that really spoke to me though was not actually spoken by Jesus. It was said by his mother, Mary.

“Do whatever he tells you.”

Yes, Jesus performed a miracle that day. Yes, it was a foreshadowing of when Jesus' blood would be poured out for the master of the feast. But what really caught my att3ention that particular day was "Do whatever He says."

If you follow the commands of Jesus we will demonstrate our love for Him. We might have particular ideas and thoughts of our own, but if they do not match those of our Savior, they are simply not worth our time. If we follow the commands of Jesus He will work yet another miracle . . in us! Jesus can take a lowly sin-filled human being and turn that person into a holy and righteous individual. We become sinless in the eyes of God simply by our faith in His Son. Have YOU been turned into wine yet?

To close, I found this piece of Old Testament scripture in my reading the other day. Interesting foretaste of things to come.

"20 “Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. 21 Pay careful attention to him and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression, for my name is in him.

22 “But if you carefully obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries." - Exodus 23:20-22
Our God - Chris Tomlin

Monday, June 15, 2015

Ladies, How Do You Know When A Man Really Loves You?

We've all seen the Facebook posts about relationships. First comes the infatuation stage - the flirtatious comments, the two-person selfies. Soon the relationship becomes "Facebook official." Sadly, the next step in many relationships these days seems to be sex, followed closely by pregnancy. Finally, the couple dissolves into a series of Facebook rants, the relationship is over and a young girl is stuck raising a child all by herself. She too often finds herself wondering, "Did he ever really love me?"

Good question. One that should be asked WAY BEFORE any physical intimacy takes place. So how DO women know if their current man in THE ONE?

Lady's, the first sign a guy loves you is NOT that he wants to have sex with you. That is simply a sign that he is thinking about himself . .  first. God wants men to think of themselves LAST. Men are supposed to sacrifice themselves for their spouses. They are not to seek their own gratification at the expense of others.

"25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her " - Ephesians 5:25

So how does a woman know when a man loves her? Here are a few signs to consider before making decisions that will effect the rest of your lives.

Patience. If a man really loves you they are willing to wait. Have you ever read the story of Jacob and Rachel? Read it. Exodus 29. Jacob loved Rachel so much we worked 14 years FOR FREE to finally receive her in marriage. How long is your man willing to wait?

Self-Sacrifice. We already read the verse from Ephesians about sacrifice. Is your man willing to die for you? He should be. Does he give you HIS coat when YOU are cold? Does he wait on you when you are sick? Would he give up watching the championship football game to go for a walk with the love of his life?

Humility. Is your potential husband proud of himself? Does he think he is God's gift to women? Then he is not for you! Any future mate should place others above himself. . . and you should be WAY up there on that list.

Godly. Is this man you are dating more in love with God than he is with you? He should be. If you can find a man like that you have truly found someone who is worthy. And if you can find such a man, who is devoted to God, he also should meet the following criteria in Galatians 5:22-23. Some of these I have mentioned already.

"22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." - Galatians 5:22-23

Are you currently living with someone before marriage? You shouldn't be. Are you having sex before marriage? You are defiling the Holy Spirit who lives within you . . . supposedly.

"But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people." - Ephesians 5:3

The number one thing you can do to have a successful marriage and find the perfect mate for you is this. Place . . . God . . . First. In ALL things! And God will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4). It is never too late to take a first step towards Christ. Jesus . . . HE is the godly man you have been seeking your entire life. No one else will come close. But try to find someone who is willing to try. Someone who is a follower of Christ. Not just in his words, but in his deeds as well.

Lead Me - Sanctus Real

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Foreign Exchange

During the summer months I often go walking in the morning at work. We have a hiking and biking trail right out our back door! As I walk I read, which means I tend to walk a little slower and I sometimes . . . well, I get surprised from time to time. Such was the case this past week.

My morning walks are short. I walk down the trail for 10 minutes and then I walk back. Shortly after I made the turn back towards the office I heard a noise behind me. Kind of surprised me. A jogger! I said "good morning" and they were gone. No big deal. Back in to God's Word.

I was reading from the Book of Exodus that morning. Moses was trying to convince Pharaoh that he should "Let my people go!" But, alas, Pharaoh's heart was hardened and it took many trials and sufferings at the hand of God before Pharaoh finally relented.

Do you have people in your life who simply do NOT want to hear The Gospel? No matter what we might try, what scripture we might quote, we simply cannot convince some people that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.

As I continued down the trail I looked up to see how close I was getting to the road I had to cross. Hey, there was that jogger, stretching her muscles on a bench up ahead. An opportunity to share the Gospel? Well, I thought, if she is still there when I arrive on the scene I will ask her if there was anything I could pray for in her life. She was still there and I did ask my question.

"Good morning again! I was just wondering if there was anything I could pray for in your life. I work right over there (pointed to the office down the trail). I usually pray from here to there."

"Sure! You can pray for our foreign exchange student. His name is Bayu. He's from Indonesia. He's going back home next week and he really could use some prayer. Bayu is a Muslim. Funny, Bayou loves to sing. He even sang with our church choir! A Muslim! He told us, "I have a different opinion of Christianity from what I thought it was."

And so I prayed for Bayu and the world view he was going back to. Indonesia is a Muslim country. But Bayu had seen the Gospel in action through the lives of the family he had stayed with. Every day he watched and learned about these Christians he now loved, like family. Next thing they knew he was literally singing praises to their God. Our God.

Are you that kind of Christian? The kind that exudes The Gospel simply in the way a life is lived? I would hope so. I hope I am.

Do you know what the word "holy" means? It means "set apart." Are we set apart? Do we stand out in a crowd. Will people look at us and say, "There's something different about that guy." Will they know who we are by our actions and by our words? Or will we blend into the crowd.

"26 You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own." - Leviticus 20:26

In the Book of Revelation we are told that the name of Jesus will be on our foreheads. Do we wear His name on us as we walk through this world? Is it obvious to others that we have been set apart - by our words, by our actions - will people KNOW we are His? Do you have the light of Christ flowing from you today?

"4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light." - Revelation 22:4-5

Try speaking to someone today about the hope you have in Christ. God WILL provide the opportunities. Will you be ready?

Holy - Nichole Nordeman

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Commands of Jesus: Be Perfect


This past weekend a horse named American Pharaoh won the Belmont Stakes - the last "jewel" in horse racing's Triple Crown.

No big deal, right? Every race that has ever been run has had a winner. So, what's the big deal? Well, American Pharaoh also won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, making the horse pictured here the first Triple Crown winner since 1978. This year American Pharaoh was perfect!

A young friend of mine once bowled a 300 game once. Ten strikes in a row!! That's perfect!! I have watched baseball pitchers throw a perfect game - no hits, no walks, no errors. These things are all possible. They are extremely rare. Yet, they have all happened. So how come I can never be perfect. I screw up ALL the time. Even the apostles made mistakes and sinned in their lives. The Bible even confirms that none of us is perfect.

“None is righteous, no, not one;" - Romans 3:10

So then, my question of the day is, how do we handle this verse where Jesus gives us an unattainable command?

"48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." - Matthew 5:48

What?!? How can we possibly be perfect? Only one person has even been perfect and He was . . .

Hey . . . wait a minute. You know, I think we CAN be perfect! This from GotQuestions.org . . .

Through our faith in Christ, the righteousness of God is given to us. This is called “imputed” righteousness. To impute something is to ascribe or attribute something to someone. When we place our faith in Christ, God ascribes the perfect righteousness of Christ to our account so that we become perfect in His sight.

“For our sake he made him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” - 2 Corinthians 5:21

The Bible says that ALL have sinned. That means, without a saving faith in Jesus, we all will be sentenced to death. Not a bright future . . . unless you know Jesus.

Without Jesus, there is no hope for a future . . . a one-way ticket to hell. But through our faith in Christ we have a one-way ticket to heaven.

"There is no other name by which we are saved." - Acts 4:12

I invite you to take a look at this video. The words are true and good but watch what happens to the buildings and the people who live in them. Where is it that they are going? Where are they going? Come on . . . you know. :)

Place your faith and trust in Jesus today. Tomorrow may be too late.

No Other Name - Hillsong Worship

Monday, June 8, 2015

Sunday Morning Rain

Saturday night I left our bedroom windows open, despite the weatherman's prediction of rain. Or, should I say BECAUSE of his rain prediction. I enjoy sleeping with the windows open during the summer, even when it is raining. I find the sounds of gently falling precipitation quite comforting.

What brings you peace?

Perhaps it's that hot cup of coffee in your hands as you read your favorite blog in the morning. It could be the view from a mountaintop, watching the sunset or simply cuddling with the one you love. All those things sounds quite wonderful. There are many things that can bring us peace.

One of the things that bring me both peace and joy is taking long walks in the woods with just my camera and my Bible as companions. Something amazing happens when I sit down on a stump and pull out God's incredible Word and begin to read. The words seem to jump off the page at me. They seem to sink in deeper when I read them in the woods. Why is that?

Usually when I read I like things quiet so I can "hear" what God has to say. If the TV is on or I am sitting in a techno-filled environment, His Word doesn't seem to sink in as deeply as it should.

If I find myself struggling on a particular day reading God's promises usually melts the troubles away. Here's one verse, filled with encouraging words, that can be tremendously comforting on those dreary, trouble-filled days.

"6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”- Deuteronomy 31:6

Contemplate those words this morning as you sip your coffee . . .

"Be strong and courageous" - God does not want us to be timid in our faith. He wants us to be bold. He wants us to stand our ground when people confront us or we find ourselves tempted.

"Do not be afraid" - Fear is something God does not want us to have. We should have tremendous confidence if we are truly IN Him.

"God goes with you" - What an amazing thought! No matter what happens in our lives, the Creator of the Universe is with us!

"He will never leave you or forsake you" - In today's world filled with "love the one your with" relationships, how comforting it is to know that there is one relationship that will NEVER fail - our relationship with God.

I have a question for you this morning. In those moments of peace that you have . . . in those moments of calm and relaxation . . . what is it that you think of?

Do you think of yourself? Do you think of others? Or do you think about God? The One who placed all those things into your hands. Let us praise God on our rainy days and sunny days as well. God brings us peace, but only if we are in Him, in His presence. Seek Him with all your heart. The single best thing you can do to find peace and calm in your life is to place your faith and trust in Jesus. Once you do that, the world you are living in suddenly changes. You find peace.

"7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 4:7

Grace Like Rain - Todd Agnew

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Contrails

Do you know what this is? I bet you probably recognize this as a jet's contrail . . . the trail planes make when they are flying really high and really fast. Here's an official definition.

Contrails (short for "condensation trails") or vapor trails are long, thin artificial clouds that sometimes form behind aircraft. Their formation is most often triggered by the water vapor in the exhaust of aircraft engines, but can also be triggered by changes in air pressure in wingtip vortices or in the air over the entire wing surface. Contrails are made of water in the form of a suspension of billions of liquid droplets or ice crystals.

Artificial clouds. Interesting.

You can barely see it in this picture, or in real life for that matter, but at the front end of this "artificial cloud" is a jet airliner carrying hundreds of people to some far away destination. If you zoom in a bit and take a closer look you can actually see the plane and begin to understand just where these contrails come from.

As I was out walking last night I watched one of these planes, flying towards the sun. I thought about the people on board. Some were heading home from business trips, others were going on vacation. Some maybe were heading off to the military or some might be flying home to say goodbye to a loved one. Many different people, just as many different stories.

I wonder. Do you think there were any Christians on that plane? I bet there are a few. Hard to tell these days. Here's another thought. Do you suppose the plane took off without someone? Did someone miss their flight and was left standing at the gate, sad at being left behind? Again, it's possible. We'll never know.

There once was a man at an airport, holding his suitcase and staring out the window watching the planes taking off. A lady at the counter made an announcement and people started getting on the plane. Soon the passenger lounge was empty, except for our friend with the suitcase. He stood there watching as his plane backed away from the terminal, taxied to the runway and then took off. He looked sad.

The lady at the counter came over and asked, "Sir, wasn't that your flight? You're still holding your ticket."

"I was going to California! I have a ticket! Now I'm just standing here. I thought I was going and now I'm not. What happened?"

"Well, sir, at some point you simply have to get on the plane!"

It that us standing there in the lobby with our "faith" in our hands? We can think we "believe" in God. We go to church on Sunday. We think we are going to heaven. Will we be the ones asking ourselves, "Why am I still here?" after Jesus comes back to collect His children - the church?

Saying you are a Christian does not make you one. Going to church on Sunday doesn't make you a Christian either. What does? Being IN the plane. Being IN Christ Jesus makes all the difference. Never heard of the phrase "in Christ?" Is appears 460 times in the Bible.

"14 Greet one another with the kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ." - 1 Peter 5:14

"To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi . . . " - Philippians 1:1

"8 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." - Romans 8:1

SO, how do we get IN Christ? This answer comes from Gotquestions.org:

To be "in Christ" means we have accepted His sacrifice as payment for our own sin. Our rap sheets contain every sinful thought, attitude or action we have ever committed. No amount of self-cleansing can make us pure enough to warrant forgiveness and a relationship with a holy God (Romans 3:10-12). The Bible says that in our natural sinful state we are enemies of God (Romans 5:10). When we accept His sacrifice on our behalf, He switches accounts with us. He exchanges our list of sins for His perfect account that is totally pleasing to God (2 Corinthians 5:21). A Divine Exchange takes place at the foot of the cross: our old sin nature for His perfect one (2 Corinthians 5:17).

To enter the presence of a holy God, we must be hidden in the righteousness of Christ. To be "in Christ" means that God no longer sees our imperfections; He sees the righteousness of His own Son (Ephesians 2:13; Hebrews 8:12). Only "in Christ" is our sin debt cancelled, our relationship with God restored, and our eternity secured (John 3:16-18, 20:31).


Are you "in Christ?"

If not, get on board! Take a seat and enjoy the ride. Refreshment is coming your way and your destination is assured - paradise . . . for ALL those who have a ticket and are IN Him.


Who I Am In Christ - Stephen LeBlanc



Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Parable Of The Lost Sock

I've done pretty good in my wife's eyes this week. Perhaps I should ask her to make one of my favorite meals or something. Nah. I just enjoy seeing her smile and getting hugs from my precious bride..

Last Saturday as I was getting ready to mow the lawn. I grabbed the gas can so I could fuel up our old mower and when I placed it back in the garage I saw something underneath our old rake - a bracelet.

I remembered my wife telling me a few months ago how she had lost her favorite bracelet. I assumed this was it so I picked it up and took it out to my wife who was working in the garden. I didn't give it to her right away. I wanted to set up "the moment" and "the big reveal."

When I finally showed her the bracelet, oh, how her eyes lit up! She flapped her arms like she was trying to fly and then gave me a big hug. Score.

"Where did you find it?!? I've been looking everywhere for that! I am so happy!" Again with the hugs.

Then the other night after changing my clothes, I come walking out into the kitchen, still pulling a newly washed sweatshirt over my head. Plop. A sock fell out of my sweatshirt.

"THAT'S where it went! It must have gotten stuck inside your sweatshirt when I folded it up."

I told these two stories to my friend at work and she said, "The same thing happened to me last week. I was changing purses to go with the outfit I was wearing that day and there, in the purse, was my MP3 charge cord. Now I can listen to music again!"

People sure enjoy finding lost things. It almost makes me want to take some of my wife's stuff and hide it someplace so I could find it later and be a hero all over again.

Or maybe I should wait to find it until she gets mad at me about something. Then I'd "just happen" to find it. And things would be all better again.

I found something interesting this week while reading through the Book of Genesis. It was something familiar. It was about finding something and joy the person received when what was lost was suddenly found.

"And Jacob lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, Esau was coming, and four hundred men with him. So he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two female servants. 2 And he put the servants with their children in front, then Leah with her children, and Rachel and Joseph last of all. 3 He himself went on before them, bowing himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother."

[and here's the part I want you to read]

"4 But Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept."
- Genesis 33:1-4

Now, read this from Luke 15 . . .

20 “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him." - Luke 15:20

Hmm. Deja vu!

Jesus was well familiar with the story of Esau and Jacob when He told the parable of the prodigal son. Coincidence? No way. There are no coincidences with God!

God loves to find lost things. He seeks things far greater than socks or bracelets too. He seeks lost human being. He LOVES when they come to Him in need - receiving forgiveness of sin when they come. Nothing makes heaven happier than a sinner who repents.

"7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance." - Luke 15:7

The Lost Are Found - Hillsong

Monday, June 1, 2015

And The Last Shall Be First

My wife and I spent Saturday in Pleasant Prairie, WI watching our niece graduate from high school. It was a good day. She is the last of her generation in our family to graduate but she is first in out hearts on this special day in her life.

It was interesting to watch all the students march in. Some had decorated their caps with the initials of the colleges there were going to be attending in the fall. Others used to moment to make fashion statements with their shoes - the only visible portion of the clothes there were wearing under their graduation gowns. Some ladies wore sandals, others wore 4-inch heels! The guys mostly wore tennis shoes on their feet - each one had different colored shoes laces though. Each student, although they had dressed basically the same, they still wanted to make themselves stand out in the crowd.

Is that who we really are? Do we like to stand out in a crowd? We certainly seem to like taking a lot pictures of ourselves. Are we that important that others simply cannot wait to see the images of us we have created? Or do we have the kind of personality that likes to blend in and not be noticed? We do not like having our pictures taken. Would we rather just go unnoticed in the things we say and do?

There were many speeches given about being the best and about being proud of accomplishments. I was grateful to hear several of the speech givers thanking God and asking His blessings on the students. But most were about pride and being successful and getting ahead in the world. Only thing is, Jesus tells us just the opposite.

"16 So the last will be first, and the first last.” - Matthew 20:16

When the kids walked into the gymnasium at our niece's graduation, the A's walked in first and the Z's were last. The first were first and the last were last. But when they exited after graduation the last went our first but that soon stopped and corrected. "We must exit in an orderly fashion. We simply can't have these students thinking for themselves!" Ha ha!

There are so many things that our school system, and our society in general, have totally wrong. Instead of placing an importance on being first, I believe we should consider being last.

Earlier that day, as our niece was getting ready, my wife asked her about some of the medals she was wearing around her neck. The last one she described caught my attention. It was for community service. "We get this one for doing 100 hours of community service."

See what I mean? The first shall be last and the last shall be first. There is a lot to be said about being last. Jesus likes it when we become last. Re-read Matthew 20:16, Jesus also wants us to be losers. Another counter-cultural concept from our King. But it's true.

"39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." - Matthew 10:39

Confused? Don't be. It's easy. It is good to work hard but we must know WHY we are working hard. Are we working hard to get ahead in life? Or are we working hard to help someone else? Are we working our butts of for monetary gain? Or so we can use the extra money we make to help someone in need?

I guess the real question for these graduates is "Whom will you serve?"

And Last Shall Be First - 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games