Monday, February 29, 2016

A Rather Large But

Last month I wrote a story called That Beautiful But. It was about God and His incredible love for us, despite our sinful nature. Today I am writing about a not so beautiful but. Mine. Well, it was really my pastor's but, BUT I digress.

As our pastor was nearing the end of his message on Sunday from The Book of James, he uttered five words that wrecked my whole day. The words convicted me and I began to examine myself and I found that I came up lacking in the "but" department. His words were . . .

"I trust The Lord . . . but . . ."


Sadly, I tend to use the word "but" a lot when I am talking about all the things I am going to do for God and His Kingdom  . . .but then fall short on. For example . . .

"I'm going to go downtown this week and talk to those kids that hang out behind the middle school . . . but . . . my wife and I are going out to dinner with friends on Tuesday. I'd do it Wednesday BUT I like to keep that day open in case anyone wants to talk down at Dairy Queen. Thursday might work BUT I think I have something else going on that day."

See what I mean? I always have a "but."

Here is my biggest but of all time.

"I would like to spend more time ministering to young adults in our community BUT am I supposed to quit my job to do so? I mean, I'd do it BUT how will I eat? How will I pay my bills?

Financial stability is my biggest "but" I think. I want to be safe and secure. I want to always have food to eat and a roof over my head. I want to be comfortable.

"Trust in the Lord!"

Examine my last paragraph and see if you can detect what my problem is. See if you can find the worldly word that demonstrates my fear in stepping out of the boat and onto the waves. The word is "want." More specifically, and more noticeable to God is, "I want."

"Trust in the Lord!"

The words "I want" should never be spoken by a Christian in my opinion, when we are petitioning God for His assistance. Neither should we be saying the word "but" when we are talking or praying to God. We should not be telling God about our wants. Instead we should be asking Him about His desires.

Instead of praying, "I want to be used by You," I need to change my thinking and my praying. Something like this would be better: "What is your desire for me Lord? I offer myself to be used if it is something that You desire. I am yours. No if's and's . . . or buts.""

Voice Of Truth - Casting Crowns (Facing The Giants)

Saturday, February 27, 2016

No Mountain High Enough

These days our main form of communication is phone based. Either it's the text or an instant message of some sort. Or we call each other. But that practice is dwindling in favor of the more impersonal communication means.

When was the last time you received or sent a personal letter? I mean actually sat down and thought about someone. Took the time to think of words to say that might bring a smile to their face. To offer, in your own hand-written words, expressions of love or thankfulness. Has it been a while? Has it been TOO long?

Recently a young friend of mine decided to quit smoking and also end her presence on Facebook. "Shedding negativity," she called it. Good for her! This world would be a better place if more of us did something like that.

Shortly after my friend's announcement about leaving Facebook, I was informed on Facebook that it was her birthday. Great. I had no way to wish my friend a happy birthday. Well, I did. But I would have to write her a letter . . . Hmm.

So I did just that. And what a blessing that turned out to be for both of us!

When was the last time YOU wrote a letter? That long, huh? If someone wrote you a letter, would you read it? Of course you would! Who wouldn't, right?

Did you know that God wrote all of us some letters? He did! 66 of them. Their all compiled for easy reading . . . in the Bible. So why don't we read it?

When I was in college my girlfriend wrote me letters. I read them over and over again. I imagined what she was doing when she wrote them. I could almost smell her perfume as I read the words, "I love you."

We simply don't seem to have that same zeal when it comes to God and our reading HIS love letters. Why is that?

Honestly, I think it's because we don't really believe He wrote them to us specifically. And that's too bad. Because He did.

The following is Romans 8, with a few added words by me . . .

"Dear you,

I would like to remind you once again my dear friend, that there is nothing that could ever separate us. Ever. Death cannot separate us nor life's struggles and trials, nor angels nor rulers. No event in the present or in the future. There is no power strong enough, no mountain high enough, no valley low enough. There is NOTHING in all creation that will be able to separate us from the love of God, as long as we are IN Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 8:37-39

Write someone a letter today and tell them that you love them. And try, just try, to beat those words written by Paul so very long ago.

"7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us." - 1 John 4:7-12

Ain't No Mountain High Enough - Diana Ross

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Where Dreams Come From

In the moment, dreams can seem so real. We can wake up in the middle of the night and think the world is coming to an end, someone is trying to kill us or we are in love with the most beautiful person on the planet. In reality these things aren't actually happening, but in our minds . . . they are.

Where do dreams come from? That is a question that has haunted mankind for years. Personally, I think dreams begin in the kitchen. Last night my wife made a black beans and rice dish. It was good but maybe, at least in MY mind, it was TOO good. I had the weirdest dream!

My dream was not a typical dream. It contained some rather frightening moments of a spiritual nature. Things flying around, the threat of death was imminent. I remember waking up, glancing around the room and then getting up to go to the bathroom.

Before I came back to bed though I went out into the dining room and grabbed my Bible off the table and brought it back to bed with me. I remember holding it to my chest - covering my heart with it - and praying a prayer while holding by "double-edged sword."

"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." - Hebrews 4:12

What sorts of things do YOU dream about? DO they make sense when you are trying to describe them to someone else? Are they ever SO real you thought for sure they really happened?

Scientists still don't know where dreams come from. They can measure brain activity during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep and have related those activities to dreams, but no one really knows how dreams begin.

There are stories out of the Middle East where Muslims have come to faith in Christ through dreams. Wow! That raises an interesting question. If God is indeed spirit, can His Holy Spirit come to us in our dreams? And if so, what do we do with those dreams? Do we take action on them during our waking moments?

I believe that God can do anything. That belief draws EVERYTHING into the realm of possibilities. The dreams we dream . . . could they be reality in another dimension? Could God be trying to tell us something, while we sleep? The Bible proves that He does indeed do that sort of thing.

12 “A word was secretly brought to me, my ears caught a whisper of it. 13 Amid disquieting dreams in the night, when deep sleep falls on people, 14 fear and trembling seized me and made all my bones shake. 15 A spirit glided past my face, and the hair on my body stood on end. 16 It stopped, but I could not tell what it was. A form stood before my eyes, and I heard a hushed voice: 17 ‘Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can even a strong man be more pure than his Maker? 18 If God places no trust in his servants, if he charges his angels with error, 19 how much more those who live in houses of clay, whose foundations are in the dust, who are crushed more readily than a moth! 20 Between dawn and dusk they are broken to pieces; unnoticed, they perish forever." - Job 4:12-20

When we dream, what do we dream about? WHO do we dream about? Is it ourselves and some fantasy we have? Or do we dream about God and what it will be like in heaven? Dreams can mean many things. They don't necessarily translate into a call to arms but often they can create in us a call to think. And perhaps that where our thoughts and dreams begin, with our eternal Dream Weaver Himself.

Dream Weaver - Gary Wright

Monday, February 22, 2016

Walking Backwards

I just got done watching some of the primary election coverage from South Carolina and I have come to some conclusions. Half of the people in this country are insane - they are considering voting for a socialist. The other half are just plain crazy. They are considering voting for Donald Trump.

There is not a single politician that seems trustworthy in my eyes. Ted Cruz for example says something about Marco Rubio and then Rubio says he's lying. Ben Carson blames Ted Cruz for dirty politics and Cruz says he's innocent. Who are we to believe. Who can we trust.

The problem . . . . is us.

"We the people" tend to fall into two categories. One group is typified by those who want stuff. Let's call them "The Wants." These are mostly democrats and socialists as they are all about wanting this or that. Mainly they want other people's stuff.

The second group is "The Haves." They already have the stuff that The Wants want. They just want to keep in. So, in a way, they are also "Wants" as well, but let's not confuse things.

My first question is, where are these supposed "Evangelicals" that everyone is talking about? I heard on the news that 74% of South Carolina are evangelicals. Did they back one particular candidate over another? No. They went everywhere. They do have their own idea of who to vote for and it is NOT one particular candidate. "Evangelicals" are all over the place too.

The main problem with "Evangelicals" is they are not walking the walk. And, if I may say so, they are not acting like Christians at all. Let me explain by way of a few examples.

When you go to church, do you take your Bible with you? For the most part Catholics don't, Lutherans don't. I am generalizing here. My point in this is who do you follow? If you follow a priest or a pastor you are NOT a Christian. Christians follow Jesus.

When we examine politicians, trying to discern who is telling the truth, we learn quickly that we cannot trust their words. How then do we know what each candidate truly desires? We examine the fruits of their decisions. We examine how they walk. The same is true for pastors and priests. One would hope they speak the truth but then why are there so many denominations, so many opinions, so many factions.

Joel Osteen is a pastor. He has the biggest church in America. One could say, "Surely God has blessed his ministry." No. Surely there are many people who like to have their ears tickled by what they hear. Mr. Osteen doesn't speak about sin in any of his messages. He is preaching a false Gospel. He is a false teacher.

"3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." - 2 Timothy 4:3-5

The pope is also a false teacher. Dare I say, a False Profit?

He too is leading God's children astray. This latest pope, and I use small case letters intentionally, is telling his flock that all people can go to heaven, even atheists, and that we should be building bridges not walls (he told this to Donald Trump). Yet he lives in Vatican City . . . surrounded by a wall.

Why? Why do these people in such high positions say one thing with their lips but their actions are far from what they tell us?

How do you know what your pastor tells you is truth?

Jesus told us that the truth will set us free.

"31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”

34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."
- John 8:31-36

Our responsibility as Christians is to discern what the truth is. And just where can we find what truth is? The Bible. So why doesn't every Christian take his or her Bible to church? Why don't we take our Bible's into the voting booth and use them to discern who to vote for? Who to believe? Good questions. We are followers! Of Jesus! He said to us, "If you love me, keep my commands." - John 14:15. Why is that command so hard for us to follow?

We are walking backwards in our faith and in our priorities. God should be first and we should be last. God's commands should take precedent over our own wants and desires. Otherwise, how can we call ourselves Christians?

My prayer is that we Christians would learn to follow God, not man. The Bible is full of stories about people who don't follow God. Things never end well for them. Why should things end differently for us?

Moon Walk - Michael Jackson

Saturday, February 20, 2016

A Ray Of Light

There is a saying that goes, "It is always darkest before the dawn." I'm not so sure that's true. Right before the dawn the sky actually gets lighter. Check it out for yourself.

I know what that old saying was trying to convey to us though. We can go through trials in our lives and, just when we are about to give up, something happens to give us hope. It's like that sudden ray of sunshine that seemingly comes out of nowhere. Have you ever experienced that? Was there some dark moment in your life that you made it through due to a sudden reason to hope?

I saw a short two minute video this week that was kind of like that. It's from the movie God's Not Dead. Please watch it with me and see if you can see that moment occur in the mind and the heart of the man in the room.

Comfortable Prison Cell - God's Not Dead

Moments like that don't come along every day. They usually seem to occur right after our darkest hours.

Near the end of my father's life he was much like the lady in that film clip. He had Alzheimer's. He didn't know who I was. Yet, shortly before he died, he recognized his children. What a blessing that was!

I have come across numerous "rays of light" when I am reading my Bible or listening to a sermon in church. You have too I imagine. We hear a sermons that seem to be written especially for us. Suddenly there is a ray of light in our dark world and we finally get it.

There is a scene in Close Encounters of the Third Kind that is a perfect example of this. Ray is driving along a deserted country road, totally lost. Suddenly there is a ray of light and his life becomes forever changed.

Ray Of Light - Close Encounters

Some Christians walk through life having never experienced that single defining moment. Then there are others who have come to the sudden realization that all these "stories" they have heard are true. They believe and are forever changed.

"9 Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest  2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven.  4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”

5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?”

Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.[a] It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”

6 So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?”

Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
7 And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one.  8 Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.  9 And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank." - Acts 9:1-9

From that moment on, Saul (whom Jesus later named Paul) believed.

If you have never had a "Damascus Road" experience, not necessarily with a sudden bright light, but with a sudden realization that God is NOT dead, He's alive! He's alive!" I suggest you cry of to God to see if He can arrange something for you. I believe God reveals Himself to us. And often, not is such obvious and amazing ways. Sometimes it is a whisper, not a shout. May He whisper in your ear on THIS day. God's not dead. He's living . . . on the inside.

God's Not Dead - The Newsboys

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Chicken Wings

One would think that, after 37 years of marriage, I could change out of my work clothes without my wife making a teasing comment about my body, but no!!

All I have to do quickly scoot across the hallway to the bathroom in my BVD's and she invariably screams, "Chicken legs!!"

I never really thought much about the diameter of my legs. Not until my wife made a point about them. But I guess I have skinny legs. So?

Now that I think of it, we humans call each other all kinds of various chicken parts. And we do it a lot!

Someone with a big nose might be said to have a rather large "beak."

Someone who is frightened easily might be called "chicken liver." Or the name caller might use the term for the whole bird and just call someone "chicken."

An older female human is sometimes called "an old hen" and her husband might be called "an old rooster" if he isn't careful.

Women are sometimes referred to as "chicks." And if they don't eat much we say they "eat like a chicken."

Where does all this name calling come from and where does it end? Can't we leave these poor chickens alone? We're acting like a bunch of politicians!

There are some chickens you don't want to mess around with. Tommy Lee Jones for example. He was a chicken in The Fugitive movie. Now there's one chicken you don't want to be calling names!

In the Bible, Jesus used a chicken analogy to relay His compassion for the people of Jerusalem.

37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 38 See, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” - Matthew 23:37-39

I know what Jesus is talking about though. I look at all of the teens and young adults in this world who do not know Jesus. I see their indifference and their lack of desire to even consider the possibility of needing a Savior. I feel in MY heart those same words that Jesus uttered so long ago.

"Oh, (insert someone's name here), how often would I have gathered you together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!" - Luke 13:34.

How I wish I could save these young people from the world that is about to eat them alive. I don't have that ability. But I know someone who CAN save them. I have to encourage my young friends to consider a meeting. And how do I do hat? I love them, just like Jesus loves me. I need to take that first step. I need to use my chicken legs and walk into someone's life. Today!

Or am I chicken?

Hen Gathering Chicks

Monday, February 15, 2016

Deer Valentine

So it was a little chilly yesterday morning. It was fourteen below zero. on this February 14th, Valentine's Day. Warming up now, it's six below, as I am heading into town for worship (I am dictating this entire message).

I thought I would tell you a little story, a Valentine's story, that my wife and I saw last night. Three deer came into our yard after the sun went down. They stood around a little bit and then all three of them just settled down for a cold winter's nap . . . thirty feet from our house . . . in the snow. They spent the entire night in our backyard.

This morning my wife looked out the kitchen window as we ate breakfast. She was hoping the three deer would still be there. They were. But now there were four. Interesting.

She watched them for a while. One of them was pretty far off. But eventually my wife left for church so I took over as head deer watcher. What a treat! I happened to notice that this fourth deer coming closer was . . . a buck!

Now my wife and I had just spoken this morning about how we never see bucks in our yard. We have only seen one in our 34 years of living in our house. We always see does and now she wasn't around to see this big boy so I ran to get my camera and took some pictures to show her that, yes, there actually WAS a buck in our back yard.

I couldn't get a really good shot so I moved out into the sun room. Well, my focus being on the buck, I didn't notice the doe that was eating out of our bird feeder which is about ten to fifteen feet away from our sun room. The doe got scared by my movement and ran off down the trail into the distance.

I turned my focus back to the buck and I noticed he was staring at the fleeing doe that had run off. And he was staring at her rather intently. She continued to run, white tail wagging in the air. The other two does just continued to lie there but the buck was not focused on them. He just continued to stare at the running doe. Then he took off and he pursued her.

When he caught up with her she finally stopped and they both stood there together. He had left the two does behind to chase after the one that was frightened.

That Valentine's Deer story, played out in our back yard,  reminded me of the story Jesus told of the man who had 100 sheep and how he left the 99 sheep behind to chase after the one that was lost.

12 “What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? 13 If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. 14 So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish." - Matthew 18:12-14

Have you gotten frightened or "interrupted" in life? Have you run away from the flock, so to speak? Often we think there is no going back. That's not true. God loves us, He pursues us and He wishes that none of us should be lost.

How many times does it tell us in the Bible, "Do not be afraid" or "Fear not." Let the story of the deer be an encouragement to us this morning. He gives us examples of His love wherever we look. Even in the back yard.

God gave me that example of unconditional love Sunday morning, when the buck gave up his morning breakfast to chase after the one who was frightened. May God encourage YOU this day. May you not become afraid as you walk through this world. And may you stand boldly in the position of a child of God, through your faith in of Jesus Christ. Amen.

As The Deer

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Look! Free Stuf!!

I went to the grocery store the other day to get some milk. The ad in the newspaper told me I could get a free gallon! I'm all over that! Everyone loves free stuff, right?

So I happily carried my gallon of free milk up to the check out counter where the checker lady told me I needed to pay $2.39.

"What? The ad in the paper said this milk was free." I begged.

"Well, sir, if you look down here at the bottom of the ad, in the small print, (she hands me a magnifying glass) it clearly states that the milk is indeed free . . . with the purchase of five additional gallons of milk."

Very few things are free in this world and, as I found out on THAT fictitious day, milk was not one of them.

Maybe it's my age and the wisdom that comes from six decades of world observation, but I cannot for the life of me understand the fascination with admitted socialist Bernie Sanders. And it's mainly the young! Why? That's actually easy to figure out. They like "free" stuff and they are idealistic. How do I know that? I felt the same way way when I was that age. But then something happened. I woke up when reality slapped me in the face.

Nothing is free in this world. So why do we always keep falling into the same old trap? Because we all like free stuff. Like a mouse and his cheese, our selfish desires lead to death (Romans 6:23).

Have you seen this meme on Facebook? Who's going to pay for all of the free stuff Bernie is promising? Go look in the mirror.

A few stories ago on this blog I wrote about the Acts 2 church and how they "had all things in common." A friend of mine pointed out that the early church was kind of an early day "commune" and wondered why communism never succeeded. I think it's because of one main reason.

The Acts 2 church gave to one another willingly with what they had. In present day communism and socialism, wealth is redistributed against the will of the majority of the people. That is why it fails. Why should we work hard to get ahead if our money is only going to be taken away from us and given to somebody else? Let's go to God's word.

"6 Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, 8 nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. 9 It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. 11 For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. 12 Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living." - 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12


The only "free stuff" I know off that is actually totally free is God's gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Apart from that, we are given nothing for free. But even THAT free gift came with a cost when Jesus died on the cross. Let us all walk in Paul's advice to us. Let us work for what we receive. And let us rejoice in what we have been given.

Socialism vs. Capitalism (1979) - Milton Friedman, Donahue
Money For Nothing - Dire Straits - Wembley Stadium 1985

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

None Shall Pass!!

There are some things that are hard to understand about the Christian faith, while other things seem to be quite obvious. Then there are those nebulous things that no one will ever fully understand. Such is the Holy Spirit of God.

Have you ever tried going somewhere and seemingly been stopped at every traffic light. Later, you arrive on the scene of an accident and think, "That could have been me."

Something like that happened to me a few years ago. On my way to work in the pre-dawn darkness. Suddenly . . . a deer! I was going 72 mph when the deer hit me. My car was totaled! I, however, did not have a scratch. 72 miles an hour. Nothing. God's hand of protection? Could be.

When I think of the Holy Spirit I am at first reminded of "spirit-like" movie characters and mentors like Gandalf and Obi-Wan Kenobi. When THEY spoke, people listened.

"You shall go to the Dagobah System. There you will learn from Yoda, the Jedi Master who instructed me."

"None shall pass!!!"

I believe that God watches over His children. I also believe that God directs our paths as we walk through this world. He arranges meetings, causes us to "feel" like doing things we otherwise would not have done. I can't prove any of this but there is evidence of it in The Bible.

"6 And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. 7 And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. 8 So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them." - Acts 16:6-10

Is there something you are being called to do? And how do we know it's God's Holy Spirit leading us and not some other spirit? Or indigestion?

What happens if we ignore God's call? What if we try our hardest NOT to pay attention to the yearnings? What if we are comfortable right where we are and don't want to risk losing the things we have worked so hard to obtain? We might as well ask, "What if we deliberately disobey God?"

Are you sensitive to God's leading? I am beginning to recognize it, more so by looking at past events than anything else. But after a while one begins to recognize it, and delight in the ability to see it. Now, if we would just have the courage to follow Him, completely. What's that Jesus said?

"24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?" - Matthew 16:24-26


Let us follow and not doubt. Let us take bold steps in obedience to God's calling.

The Potter's Hand - Darlene Zschech
You Shall Go - Obi-Wan Kenobi

Monday, February 8, 2016


Do you know what this image represents? In the words of Indigo Montoya, "I don't think it means what you think it means."

Most people would say, "Bob, that's a Facebook message notification." And they would be right . . . on the surface. In the life of this humble Christian however, this notification has come to mean something else all together.

Do you get excited when you get messages on Facebook? I do. Someone actually wants to talk to me, which is rare. LOL!

When I see a message notification on Facebook these days I see it as something other than the obvious. I see it an opportunity to serve. There are many things that appear to be one thing on the surface but can turn into something else underneath.

For example, have you ever seen an ice carver at work? These artists can take a block of ice and turn it into something amazingly beautiful! God works a lot like that.

We all start out as blocks of ice, pretty much all the same. But then things happen in our lives that change us. Sometimes the changes hurt, sometimes the changes make us melt. But in the end we all end up where we are.

We often don't understand why some of the things that happen to us . . . happen to us. Sometimes life's events can cut pretty dip. Other times we just slowly melt away into nothingness.

Who is it that God wants you to be. Whether you believe in God or not doesn't change the fact that He exists. Who does He want you to be? Does it conflict with what YOU want you to be? If so, let the sculpting begin.

When I started out in college I had a plan. It was MY plan. That's why it failed. It was NOT God's plan.

What is God's plan for YOUR life? Are you living it? Are you still searching for it? Here's some advice from an old man who has found God's plan for HIS life and how you can find God's plan for yours.
  1. Quit looking for "God's plan." It will find you. God has a way of turning you into who He wants you to be . . . unless you are unwilling.
  2. Stop trying to find what "God's Will" is in your life. Surrender to His will and there you are!
  3. Don't know what God's will is? Read the Bible. It's all in there. Think "Facebook notification" on the cover!
  4. When God reveals something to you . . . PAY ATTENTION!!
  5. Be obedient! Christians are followers, not soloists. Follow where God leads you in life.
When we see those Facebook notifications we should see an opportunity to tell someone about Jesus. We should see an opportunity to love others as Christ first loved us.

Each opportunity, each struggle, must be looked at as being for God's glory. The sooner we forget about OUR desires and start thinking about God's desires, we are on our way to becoming something very important. A tool in the hands of a master carver. Let Him begin His work on you today.

Let the sculpting begin!

"38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." - Matthew 10:38-39

Ithaca Ice Wars

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Wide Eyes

How precious is the gift of sight. To be able to look into the face of another of God's creations and see joy and happiness. To be able to see someone smile. To see someone looking into YOUR eyes with love. The ability to see face-to-face is a treasure too often lost in the techno world of smart phones, messaging and e-mail.

Sight, however, also comes with a down side. We also see tears and frowns and hurting expressions of those we love. Seeing those things can cause our own countenance to change. WE hurt because THEY hurt and we can often see the expressions of that pain of the otherwise beautiful faces of those we meet each day.

"15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." - Romans 12:15

We also can be tempted through our vision, our sight. A beautiful man or woman can be tempting to the opposite sex, by the world's standards. We can sometimes find our eyes venturing places where they shouldn't go.

Why then did God give us eyes if it was not to see the hurting as well as the joyful? God gave us eyes for a reason. To bring home . . . to make more personal . . . the objects of His creation. And to test us.

We hear news stories about the homeless for example. We hear them and for the most part we ignore them. We are comfortable in our own little part of our own little world. Yeah, it's tough they don't have a home. It's sad they're sleeping in their car. What's for dinner?

But then God arranges a face-to-face meeting and the stakes change. Suddenly someone's homeless situation becomes real to us when we find ourselves sitting across the table from someone who doesn't know where they will be sleeping that night . . . where they will find shelter. We can SEE the look in their eyes - a little desperation mixed with some hopelessness - a helpless, unwilling submission to a sad situation. It is a resignation of the spirit . . . in the soul of one of God's images.

So, what are we to do? How can I help? What does JESUS tell us to do?

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!" - Matthew 6:22-24

As with most things, what is needed most in this world is Jesus. But how is Jesus made known to a hurting world? Go look in a mirror. Stare into the eyes of someone God specifically created to honor Him with service, devotion, obedience, and love.

Jesus is the key in all of this. He is administered on this earth through the love and compassion we show others.

If we get up each morning, look in that mirror and ask, "Who am I going to love today, in the name of Jesus?" I am willing to bet our day with be much better than most. If we quit thinking about ourselves and reach out to someone else in love, suddenly we find OURSELVES feeling better and more encouraged than before. But more important than that, more important than our SELVES feeling better, we will have been obedient to God. And that is the best feeling of all.

“For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” - 2 Corinthians 4:5

Wide Eyed - Nichole Nordeman

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

That Beautiful But

I came across a TV show the other night called "Brazilian Butt Lift." I've seen the title of the show before but I have never actually watched the show. I wonder . . . are people lifting Brazilian butts? Or are Brazilians lifting other people's butts. Hard to tell. Words can be so confusing. So can life.

Everyone has a butt, although my wife tells me I don't have one. Come to think of it, I have never actually SEEN my butt . . . BUT . . . I know I have one. I sit on it every day at work!

Logic would seem to indicate that, somewhere in the world, someone has the world's ugliest butt. I bet it's in Washington, D.C. Just a guess.

I know who has the BEST but in the entire universe. God does! It's written in the Bible! And it comes with both good news and bad news attached to it. First, the bad news.

"23 For the wages of sin is death, . . . ."

Yep, we're all sinners and the result of that sin is death. We are condemned to an eternity in hell when we stand before Jesus . . . UNLESS . . . . unless we remember the most beautiful "but" that has ever existed.

"but . . . "

There it is! The most beautiful but!!! And it's a gift from God!! Let's keep reading!

" . . .the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 6:23

If we place our faith in Jesus, we are saved from an eternal death. That's GREAT news! And we have eternal life. PLUS!!!! We all get new bodies!

"For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,   who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself." - Philippians 3:20-21

So, who cares what your earthly butt looks like. We get a new, heavenly butt. Then, when we are walking down the Streets of Glory, we can hold our butts up high . . . if that's even possible. Then again, everyone up there will have a heavenly butt so . . . who really cares. :)

Look At My Butt - Saturday Night Live

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Coming Storm

Watching the weather last week was pretty depressing. There was a prediction for a winter storm that will supposedly dump a foot and a half of snow on us this coming Tuesday. How do these weathermen know all this stuff? After all, like the great prognosticator Yoda said, "Always in motion is the future."

Well, these weather guys and gals all have their computer "models" that analyze temperature, wind speed and direction, barometric pressure, humidity and then they compare all these things with what has happened in the past. They predict future events by analyzing data and generating weather patterns with a computer program.

For the most part, these weather programs are pretty good. They predicted the Washington D.C. area would get a lot of snow last week and they did. Still, their computer programs can be wrong. One of our area's retired weather men used to say that before he went on the air he always stuck his head out the back door . . . just to make sure.

Have you ever heard of Biblical Prophesy? God, speaking through prophets, often predicted future events. Isaiah was a prophet. In the book of Isaiah, chapter 53, God used Isaiah to describe the coming messiah, Jesus and what He (Jesus) was going to endure . . . and why. Here's excerpt but I encourage you to read the whole chapter.

"4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all." - Isaiah 53:4-6

This was written 772 years before it came true . . . in Jesus.

I wonder . . . the more sophisticated we get with our computer programs, will there ever come a time that they will either confirm or deny God? It's possible I guess. What if one night during the local weather the forecaster said, "SO, look to the skies tonight. There will be a total lunar eclipse and all signs point to the imminent return of Jesus Christ. I know that's probably bad news for the Jewish people and the Muslims who thought Jesus was not a God. Oops! More after the break."

We must remember one thing though. Computer programs are created by humans. They can be wrong. So how can we "stick our head out the window" to know what is true" God's Word, The Bible, was written by men as dictated by God through His Holy Spirit. I would trust that more than an earthly computer program.

So, I will watch out for the snow that is coming our way this week. But  will also keep my "eyes on the skies" for another reason - the prophesied return of Jesus to planet Earth. I can do without the snow, but I can't do without Jesus. Can you?

End Times: How Close Are We? - The Watchman