Monday, May 30, 2016


Today is Memorial Day - a day we, as nation, have set aside to remember those who have fallen in the defense of our country. It is an honorable thing to remember those who have sacrificed so much.

Often, examples of such service can be seen throughout the generations. My great, great grandfather served in the Civil War, my grandfather in World War I and my father in World War II. Fathers and Sons. Serving.

When soldiers are welcomed home from war, they are greeted warmly by their family members. A video example of families welcoming home their loved ones is at the end of this story. Please watch it. The "welcome home" hugs remind me of when the prodigal son came home in Luke 15.

"20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him." - Luke 15:20

Examine the looks on the faces of those who are being surprised in the video. Is Our Father's expression any different when we come to faith in His Son? I don't think so. We are welcomed with open arms. We are welcomed home.

I thank God for those who sacrificed their lives for those they loved. We all should. Not just this day, but every day.

God did the very same thing for you and for me, you know. He sacrificed His only Son for those HE loved. Give HIM thanks and praise today as well - this Memorial Day. Remember the Father and the Son, as well as the sons and the daughters, the sisters and the brothers.

Have a safe and wonderful Memorial Day!

Soldiers Coming Home Video

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Fast Food Faith?

When our family took a vacation to San Francisco several years ago, my brother insisted we eat at In and Out Burger. "Amazing food, and they serve it really fast!" Hence the name. You are literally "in and out" in a matter of a few minutes.

Before I became a believer I attended church only a few times each year. I dragged my feet when we went and I couldn't wait to leave when the service was over. You could have called me "In and Out Bob" I guess.

Something happens when we first come to believe. According to scripture we "receive" God's Holy Spirit. When that happens, when we receive God's promised Holy Spirit, we become changed. I found that going to church soon became a desirable destination rather than a detestable diversion.

I have no way of knowing of course, but I believe that most churches contain professing Christians who don't actually believe. False converts, deceived, they only think they believe. Why do I think that? Because the phenomenon happened in the early church so we KNOW it happens. And if it happened back when the church was young and vibrant, why not today?

"19 And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. 2 And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”  - Acts 19:1-2

Did you notice that? Paul found some "disciples," church members, but they weren't really bonafied, true blue, genuine, 100%, I-got-the-spirit-in-me believers. Are we like that? I was. Do we go to church just to go to church, punching the Jesus time clock so we can hurry back home for the football game?

I must confess however that I have been guilty of this very thing I am writing about . . . since being filled with the Holy Spirit . . . since becoming a believer. I go to church early for some fellowship but more often than not I leave right after worship so I can get home to be with my wife. I really should stay and get to know my brothers and sisters more.

Also, over time, our  "relationship status" can change from "on fire" to "lukewarm." We must guard against that.

So, how do we KNOW for sure we have God's Holy Spirit in us? Well, first, there should have been a dramatic change in us. We should have become obviously different than we used to be. That's the Holy Spirit. Back to that passage from Acts for the evidence.

"4 And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying." - Acts 19:1-6

Secondly, there is a hunger for knowledge about God. We desire Him and to know more about Him. Psalm 119 is filled with the Psalmist's desire to know God more.

"10 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! 11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. 12 Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes!" - Psalm 119:10-12

Third, we enjoy going to worship. We tend to come early and stay late. Hour and a half service? Not a problem. Two services? Absolutely! We become obsessed. And, quite honestly, I think that's how we're supposed to be.

"And you shall love the Lord your God with ALL your heart and with ALLyour soul and with ALL your mind and with ALL your strength." - Mark 12:30

If you have never been changed, if you have never surrendered yourself and allowed Jesus to become Lord of your life, please, examine yourself today. If you find your self lacking, repent of your sins, turn away from your former self and embrace your new life in Christ.

Time is getting short. The signs are all around us that the return of Christ is imminent. And it seems as if only those who have God's Holy Spirit living within them can see these things.

Come, Lord Jesus, come. :)

Holy Spirit - Francesca Battistelli

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Christian Yoga - An Oxymoron?

Someone at work once asked me if I would like to join a Yoga class. Judging by the expression on their face, I think my answer must have surprised them.

"Yoga? No, thanks. I'm a Christian."

What?? What does one's faith have to do with an exercise class? Well . . . let's find out. Go grab a dictionary and look up the word "yoga." You will be "enlightened" by what you find there. Here's what Merriam-Webster defines yoga as.

"a Hindu theistic philosophy teaching the suppression of all activity of body, mind, and will in order that the self may realize its distinction from them and attain liberation."

A Hindu theistic philosophy? Seriously? I have seen ladies walking into Christian churches with yoga mats. What IS this Hindu philosophy called "yoga" and should we Christians be participating in it if it's part of another religion?

Yoga can be traced back to the fifth or sixth century before Christ but its specific origin is a bit fuzzy. Some say Hindu, others say Buddhist. It was brought to the U.S. in the 10th and 20th centuries but really took off in popularity in the 1980's as a form of exercise.

Yoga is one of the six major "schools" of Hinduism and its ultimate goal is "liberation." Are we as Christians supposed to be liberated?

Another thing yoga teaches is the "emptying of your mind." Hmm. I know we are to be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 2:12) but not transformed by the emptying of it. That sounds a little dangerous to me.

There is a story in 2nd Kings about a people who unknowingly worshiped other gods. Things did not go well for them.

"11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes. 12 And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Micaiah, and Shaphan the secretary, and Asaiah the king's servant, saying, 13 “Go, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.”

14 So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asaiah went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe (now she lived in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter), and they talked with her. 15 And she said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: ‘Tell the man who sent you to me, 16 Thus says the Lord, Behold, I will bring disaster upon this place and upon its inhabitants, all the words of the book that the king of Judah has read. 17 Because they have forsaken me and have made offerings to other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the work of their hands, therefore my wrath will be kindled against this place, and it will not be quenched. 18 But to the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord, thus shall you say to him, Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Regarding the words that you have heard, 19 because your heart was penitent, and you humbled yourself before the Lord, when you heard how I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, declares the Lord. 20 Therefore, behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes shall not see all the disaster that I will bring upon this place.’” And they brought back word to the king." - 2 Kings 22:11-20

Before we participate in anything that is part of another religion we should do our research. Check it out for yourself. There are lots of articles about the subject. Here is one such article plus a discussion by two pastors. What do YOU think? Should Christians participate in yoga?

Yoga - John MacArthur vs. Doug Pagitt

Why Can't Yoga Just Be An Exercise? - SBrinkmann

Monday, May 23, 2016

Holy Trillium

I spoke with a young couple on Sunday after church. The young man was having difficulty trying to understand the concept of the Trinity - the Christian belief that God exists in three, distinct persons or entities, yet is at the same time one God.

This is a difficult thing to grasp even for the knowledgeable but here is one man's take on it.

I heard one of my pastors once describe it this way. Light three candles in a single room. How many candles are there? Three. How many "lights" are there? Well, there is only one light, from all three candles. Each candle might have different individual characteristics but they join together to product one light.

Here's my attempt. On my way back from meeting with this young couple I saw some flowers by the roadside - trilliums. They were everywhere! I thought, "Perfect. Three pedals, one flower. Three-in-one! One aroma emanating from it. The Trinity."

There some people who believe in a partial Trinity, kind of like how water exists in three separate forms - water, water vapor (steam) and ice. They believe that the three parts never occur at the same time. These people are called modalists. Though they call themselves Christians they really are not. The concept of the "three in one" is an essential tenant of the Christian faith. Check this passage from the Book of Matthew.

"16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” - Matthew 3:13-17

All three parts of The Trinity are present at the same time - Jesus is standing on earth, God The Father is in heaven and The Holy Spirit is descending.

The Trinity is a difficult thing to understand. Will we ever fully understand it? When we get to heaven will we see three? Or One?

Finally, there is a symbol used in many churches to represent the Trinity. Does this symbol at the right look familiar? It should. It looks just like a trillium. :)

I don't profess to be all-knowledgeable on this subject, but my view lines up with many. Can you think of other example of three-in-one in this world? You probably can. In the meantime, scour the woods where YOU live in search of the Holy Trinity. :)

This I Believe (The Creed) - Hillsong Worship

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Man Overboard!

Did you see the story about the woman who fell off the cruise ship into the middle of the Gulf of Mexico? How horrible! What a tremendous feeling of loneliness and hopelessness she must have been feeling . . . watching the ship she had just been standing on, sailing away and leaving her behind in the darkness.

I think about that situation and wonder, "What would I have done in her place?" How long could I have treaded water? Did anyone see me fall and are they runing for help? Why aren't they turning around?

Our days are numbered on this planet. God tells us in his world . . .

"5 A man’s days are numbered. You know the number of his months. He cannot live longer than the time You have set. 6 So now look away from him that he may rest, until he has lived the time set for him like a man paid to work. 7 “For there is hope for a tree, when it is cut down, that it will grow again, and that its branches will not stop growing." - Job 14:5-7

That's an interesting passage. "There is hope for a tree" it says. Makes me wonder . . . If our days are numbered . . . is there hope . . . for us?

The answer to THAT question is, of course, yes, there IS hope. But only for those who place their faith in Jesus. For the rest of humanity it is much like the fate of that woman who fell overboard. Lost and alone.

If you were lost in the middle of the ocean and suddenly saw a light in the distance, what would you do? I'd start to swim. Why? Because I now had hope! Without hope and direction we are eternally lost.

There is tremendous hope in Christ. The promise of a future, a hope FOR that future, and a purpose or direction for our lives.

If you fell overboard with a friend and you saw a light in the darkness, wouldn't you encourage your friend to swim with you? Sure! Is there a friend in YOUR life who is "drowning" Is there someone you know who doesn't know Jesus? Shouldn't we help them? If they died tomorrow, what excuse would you give Jesus for not talking to them about Him?

I heard someone make a statement this week that I think rings true with our witnessing for Jesus. And I am just as much at fault in this as anyone.

"We always have time for the things we WANT to do."

Witnessing to someone can be difficult but it can also be life-saving. When the situation is desperate, we often will take action. But if there is now immediate need we tend to find other things to do with our time. Until one day . . . one day too late.

One Day To Late - Skillet

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Got Goat?

How do you show someone you love them? A hug perhaps? A kiss on the cheek? Maybe it's doing something FOR someone like washing the dishes so your wife doesn't have to. Maybe it's rubbing her feet after she has spent a long day using them at work. Not me. I took my wife to see some goats!

I know. That doesn't sound like the most romantic thing anyone has ever done, but you need to know my wife. My wife LOVES goats. Personally, I could take them or leave them. They don't really make me turn my head and shout, "Goats!" But that's how they effect my wife.

Do you do things for people you love to make them happy? Of course you do. That's what love is all about, thinking of others before we think of ourselves.

Do we show God that we love Him in a similar way? How do we love God? What are some of the things we do for Him to make HIM happy? Umm . . . go to church? Umm . . .

15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments." - John 14:15


Have I kept God's commands? Do I love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength? (Luke 10:27). Do I love my neighbor as much as I love myself? (Mark 12:31).

This morning my friend bought me some Munchos. She knows I like them. She was demonstrating her love for me by getting me something I enjoy.

My wife made me fresh green beans last night for dinner? Why? Because she knows I like them and wanted to make me happy.

I think we make God happy when we do things for others. When we sacrifice ourselves or go out of our way to help someone.

A few days ago I visited a friend in the hospital. He fractured his back in several places - shattered his vertebrae. He's in quite a bit of pain. As I stood to leave he reached out his hand to me. As I grabbed it he said this to me.

"Let me pray for you" and he did.

Do you think God was happy when this man offered prayers for someone else, even though he himself was in need of them? I do.

As we walk through this world let us be on the lookout for opportunities to express our love for God through the way we treat others.

"34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’ - Matthew 25:31-46

Love One Another

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Best Laid Plans

I tried planting some seeds this year - tomatoes, chives and beans. I was so happy to see them pop up out of their little indoor seed pots. I watched them grow taller each day. I watered them, took care of them and nurtured them as they grew. Those were happy days.

When the time came to transplant them outdoors I was excited for them. They would be growing tall, producing fruit, and contributing to our family's well being. Yeah, well, that didn't happen.

Most of them didn't make it through the transplantation process. Why? Because I waited too long to transplant them. They spent too much of their early days stretching themselves, trying to find a light source. My mistake.

I went outside to check on them yesterday. Some animal had dug up all but a few of the little tomato seedlings, pieces were everywhere. Then, as if that weren't enough, it dropped below freezing last night. This morning, everything is frozen! One bean made it. Everything else is mush.

I look at the youth of today and I see many similarities. The church tries to get them to pray a prayer, thinking once they do that they have saved someone from eternal hell. If that's ALL they did . . . pray a prayer . . . they very well could be on their way to the very place we were trying to save them from.

The world it a tough place. Why we throw new believers into it without adequate preparation . . . no discipleship? It's like placing a plant out in the elements before it is totally ready. When a sudden frost hits they die . . . they are lost.

Jesus didn't tell His followers to "go and make converts." He told them to make disciples. There are many "Christians" walking around today that believe with all their heart they are saved because they prayed a prayer or because they think they are good enough.

Two things are often missing from the false convert - repentance and submission.

We all know people who say they are Christians, yet their lifestyle tells us something else. Are they saved because THEY believe they are or because Jesus knows they are?

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ - Matthew 7:21-23

Encourage one another to turn from the ways of this world. If "the world" is in us we have no part in Christ. We must submit to God's will. We cannot continue to live as if Christ has not changed. If we live like the world we are still part of it.

Repent . . . submit . . . and live. It's that simple. Yet we seldom teach that to our children. Who is to blame then? I think it's us.

God wishes than none should perish. Let us spread that news! Then let's tell people what they must do to be saved. It is NOT praying the sinner's prayer! It is truthful repentance, willing submission and surrendering to the will of God that saves us. And this "saving" is not of ourselves, so we could boast (Ephesians 2:9).

It is ALL God.

Why "Accepting Jesus Into Your Heart" is Superstitious & Unbiblical - David Platt

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Frustrated Christian

I have been thinking about changing the name of my blog to something like the title of this post - The Frustrated Christian. Life in the world we live in can be VERY frustrating! I don't think there is a day that goes by lately where I don't feel frustrated in some way. And I don't think I am alone either.

Maybe I should just quit watching the news. But to "stick my head in the sand" doesn't eliminate the crazy things that are happening. The president of our once-great nation is now ordering all of our schools to allow boys and girls to use whatever bathroom or locker room they wish. This has got to be very frustrating to ALL Christians.

The reason for the frustration is, Christians are, by definition, followers of Christ. We desire to do what our Sovereign Lord says. We read the Bible and get our direction from God through His Word and His Holy Spirit. When that direction differs from what "the world" thinks. Yep, frustrating.

I am currently reading through the Book of Ezekiel. I think God gets very frustrated as well. Most of the chapters end with the phrase, "THEN you will know that I am The Lord!" God's frustration comes from the disobedience of the Israelites.

I once heard someone say, "God is patient but He is NOT tolerant. Honestly, I find myself waiting for some kind of heavenly "spanking" because we as a people have not been following His commands.

Christianity is also very frustrating when we have unbelieving friends and family members. We see these loved ones, living like the world tells them to. They think they are successful by the world's standards. But by God's standards they are considered lost, worshiping idols, and blasphemers. Knowing what awaits these loved ones of ours, without repentance and belief in God, is VERY frustrating!

Being frustrated is a GOOD thing I guess. At least we know we are on the right track in our faith. But it doesn't remove the frustration.

So what do we do as Christians?

Instruction for the Christian is written all throughout the Bible. We who believe are to persevere in times of trial. We are to be obedient to God. We are to humble ourselves and seek God's face. We must be patient, and we are to pray!!

A reminder from Jesus . . .

"33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33

This world can be a very frustrating place in which to live but God put us here for a reason. Is it to be frustrated? No. God placed us here to be a "city on a hill!"

In the Sermon on The Mount, Jesus gave us this instruction:

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." - Matthew 5:14-16

When we get frustrated with the news and frustrated with the unbelief of others, let us place our faith and hope in Christ all the more. Let us shine that much brighter. We are called to be "a light in a dark world." Let's turn up the power!

God has called us to join Him in the battle against the principalities and powers of this world. Let's suit up with the Ephesians 6 armor that God gave us!

"12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." - Ephesians 6:121

God did not give us a spirit of frustration or fear. He gave us power to overcome these frustrations in His Word and with His Holy Spirit. Let us, therefore, shine like a beacon for all to see. Let people know who we belong to. Instead of frustration, let us shine all the brighter. That's our duty and our command from God. Let it shine!!!

Shine Your Light - Nichole Nordeman

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Vanishing Point

I went trout fishing this past Sunday evening. All by myself. I hadn't gone fishing for a long, long time. Since my dad and I went fishing years ago I think. He's been gone a few years now. I miss fishing with my dad.

There is a really nice trout stream a few miles from my house. A really nice fishing hole too. The river makes a turn to the right at a large boulder. The current has cut a deep hole there where the trout seek refuge from the hot summer sun. That's where I found myself Sunday night.

As I cast my fly I noticed how my fly line, so distinct and obvious when it is near to me, disappeared, vanishing into the depths of the river. I began to think how that disappearing line is like so many of our relationships. Not only our earthly relationships but our relationship with God as well.

Have you lost relationships over the years? Why is that? I think it's because not enough effort is placed in maintaining those relationships, either by one party or the other . . . or both.

How quickly relationships and memories can fade with time. My return to the trout stream that day was a purposeful act, that of a son desiring to go fishing one more time with his father. But more than that, it was an earthly son longing for a deeper, more meaningful relationship with his heavenly father. I think all those things were accomplished that day.

After Jesus was crucified, died and was buried, He returned to be with His disciples several times. Why? I think it was to keep their relationship alive, to teach them a few things but mainly to encourage them and simply to love them. So it should be with ALL of our relationships.

We can't allow our most treasured relationships get to the vanishing point. We need to nurture them like Jesus did. We should show and tell others we love them while we have the chance. We can do so simply by being with them and loving them right where they are. As a father teaches his son to fish, so we must tend to our relationships. In doing so, we will find our relationship with our Heavenly Father will grow as well.

"4 Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” 6 He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. 7 That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. 8 The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.

9 When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. 14 This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead." - John 21:4-14

Particularly Good To Me - A River Runs Through It

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Second Man

I still remember who I was. Before. I still remember all those things I did. Before. I am different than I was. Before. Something changed in me. Something changed in the nature of who I am. The man I used to be is no more. "I am The Second Man now."

That quote comes from one of my favorite Switchfoot songs. I link to that song is at the end of this post. Don't leave without listening to it.

Have you ever had a sudden life-changing event that totally changed how you looked at the world? Are you a different person today than you were yesterday? What caused that change in you?

Perhaps it was an illness - a diagnosis of stage four cancer perhaps. There is a young girl in our community whose life changed for a reason like that. She is different now than she was a few weeks ago.

Maybe it was an accident that claimed the life of a family member or one of your dearest friends. Or a suicide. 24 hours later, lives can become changed . . . forever.

Thankfully, not all sudden changes are bad. A visit to a doctor can bring GOOD news. "You're going to be a mother." or "There is nothing wrong with you. You are capable of having children" or "There is absolutely no sign of the cancer." These are all VERY good things that can change our lives over the course of one 24-hour period.

Placing our faith in Jesus is one those positive life-changing events that can provide incredible change. Jesus can literally bring the dead to life! And that's what we are - spiritually dead.

Consider these lines from Switchfoot's song.

"And I'm not who I thought I was twenty-four hours ago."

"I'm singing 'Spirit take me up in arms with You'
You're raising the dead in me
Oh, oh, I am the second man"

When I came to faith in Christ I became "the second man." There is no going back. Not that those of us who believe would ever consider doing so. We are changed!

Placing one's faith in Jesus will dramatically change your life. You won't suddenly win the lottery or be gifted a fancy car. What you will receive will be worth far more than any earthly treasure. The only catch is, you must place your faith and trust in Jesus before you can EVER know what it is like.

"To get something you've never had, you must do something have never done."

Place you faith in Christ today. 24 hours from now, you'll be glad you did. Then you will find yourself being the second man the song talks about.

Twenty-Four - Switchfoot

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Joy In Obedience

I went for a walk before supper Thursday night. For some reason I decided to walk in the woods rather than around the subdivision. That decision made all the difference between a normal "blah" night and an unforgettable one.

There is an active fox den near our house. I have taken people to see it but all we ever saw was footprints and turkey feathers. That's all I ever saw too. Until last night that is.

As I approached the den I suddenly saw movement! Could it be a fox? No. It was! It was a baby fox! No! Two foxes!! THREE!!! I remained motionless because they too had seen movement in the woods. Me!

So we watched each other for a few minutes before I decided to go back and get my camera and my big telephoto lens. I returned more quietly and took some pictures. There are several things I have noticed in sneaking up on wildlife. Don't make any sudden movements, make as little noise as possible, make sure you are downwind, and be patient.

After taking the pictures I went back and got my wife. Seeing something like this is extremely rare and I wanted to share it with her. As we approached the sight of the den I gave her instructions.

"Don't make any sudden movements and don't say a word."

I let her go ahead of me, just so I could observe her joy. Unfortunately there was a mosquito flying around her head so she began swatting at it with her hand. She DID walk very quietly but then she would suddenly squat down to look under branches. Each of her movements sent the kits scurrying for the safety of the den. Her disobedience to instructions of her husband cost her the opportunity to see the three of them playing together. She only saw one brave fox looking at her from the safety of its home.

Our obedience to God is a lot like what my wife experienced last night. If we are faithful and follow God's leading, His instructions, He blesses us. "He will give you the desires of your heart," as the Psalmist said (Psalm 37:4). But we MUST be obedient.

"25 The whole assembly of Judah, and the priests and the Levites, and the whole assembly that came out of Israel, and the sojourners who came out of the land of Israel, and the sojourners who lived in Judah, rejoiced. 26 So there was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem. 27 Then the priests and the Levites arose and blessed the people, and their voice was heard, and their prayer came to his holy habitation in heaven." - 2 Chronicles 30:25-27

Let us be obedient to God in our decisions and the way we live our lives. If we do that we WILL find joy. If my wife had followed "the rules" about sneaking up on wildlife, she would have been blessed to see more than she did.

God is not interested in our happiness. He desires JOY for us. And true joy comes from obedience to Him. We should all begin by obeying THIS command.

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

Repeat the sounding joy!

Joy To The World - Pentatonix

Thursday, May 5, 2016

I Dare You To Move

Today is The National Day of Prayer, and that is exactly where I started the day, praying with my friend at work. My prayer was filled with my desire to serve God in whatever way He saw fit., but my emphasis this morning was on the teens and young adults in my life - struggling, fighting for existence in a world that takes no prisoners.

I prayed for more boldness in my witness for God, to make a larger "wake" as I splash around in the shallow water of my faith. I prayed that I might venture out into deeper waters . . . for Him.

After we prayed I decided to go for a walk before getting to work so I turned on my iPod and started walking. On my return trip I saw two older ladies out walking their dogs on the trail. I had met them many times on similar morning walks.

As they approached I was thinking, "This is the National Day of Prayer. I will ask them what I can pray for." Gee, that would be very superficial of me. I had just prayed about being bolder. What a wimp I Am!

Just then, God spoke up . . . through my iPod . . . and Switchfoot. As the song played, as the ladies approached, I heard the chorus, challenging me to be bold in my faith.

"I dare you to move! I dare you to move!"

I began to smile at the workings of God, His mastery at providing answered prayer when I was least expecting it and needing it most.

"Good morning ladies! Today is the National Day of Prayer. What may I pray for in your lives?"

One lady spoke about her niece moving back from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin. Prayers for safe travels. The other lady sought prayer for her son, suffering from medical issues. They both asked for prayers for another lady who walks on the trail - recently diagnosed with stage four cancer. I told them I would pray.

Then, without my ear buds in, I heard the chorus again repeating in my head.

"I dare you to move! I dare you to move."

"Could I pray with you right now?" I asked.


So we prayed, right there in the middle of the walking trail. Three old walkers, arms around each other, praying.

Take time to pray with someone today. There is definitely power in doing so. God's power! Revealed in the lives of those who love Him. Take a chance. Reach out today in love and embrace those who come walking into your life. You might be rejected, you might be embraced, but either way you will be honoring God. He is the one daring you to move.

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

Dare You To Move - Switchfoot

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Mushroom Syndrome

Do you like to eat mushrooms? I do but not everyone does. My sister doesn't like them. She calls them "fungus among us" and keeps her distance. I like mushrooms on a nice piece of steak, in a salad or just by themselves with some veggie dip.

However, there are some mushrooms that don't like us. They are actually poisonous. Not knowing what they look like, I tend to only eat mushrooms that are sold in stores.

I never eat any mushrooms I find in the woods. Some of them might look good, and maybe they are, but I don't want to take that chance. Except for morel mushrooms, of course. That's them in the picture over there. Yumm!

Early May is a good time to look for morels in the woods. Of course, one has to know WHERE to look, and WHEN. And the conditions must be JUST right.

Have you ever experienced mushroom syndrome? It has nothing to do with mushrooms really. Mushroom syndrome is more of a workplace thing. According to the Urban Dictionary Mushroom Syndrome is . . .

"A syndrome where you're fed (explitive) and kept in the dark. Derives from the method of cultivating mushrooms: they add a lot of fertilizer and keep them in the dark and damp."

We are often kept "in the dark" at work. Lots of office politics going on. Sadly, that happens in our churches as well. Have you ever been a victim of something like that? It's a sad thing to see happening . . . in God's house.

"4 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us?

 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:

“God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

11 Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you - who are you to judge your neighbor?" - James 4:1-12

There is no "mushroom syndrome" with God. All we have to do is ask. Mushrooms like the darkness, living in the shadows. But God will not keep US in the dark. In Him there IS no darkness - only light! We are NOT mushrooms!

Until The Whole World Hears - Reagan Ferris
Until The Whole World Hears - Casting Crowns

Monday, May 2, 2016

False Teachers Exposed

With all of these politicians running around these days, it is hard to tell which ones are speaking words of truth and which ones are telling lies. One says this and one says that. How do we know what to believe? Where can we find the truth?

Jesus once said, "I am the way, THE TRUTH and the life." How do we know if HE is telling the truth? Well, . . . he's Jesus.

Pontius Pilate once asked Jesus, "What is truth?" Funny thing about that . . . he was asking "The Truth" what truth was. Ironic? Intentional?

God is a perfect being. He never sins. Lying is a sin, therefore God never lies. If Jesus is fully God and fully man, Jesus cannot lie. So, when Jesus tells us, "He is the truth" . . . He's right!

Churches are a confusing lot. So many different denominations. So many pastors speaking many different truths. Are some of our pastors lying then? Are some of them not telling the truth? And how do we know which ones are lying and which are telling the truth?

Grab your Bible. God doesn't lie and the Bible is HIS Word. That means the Bible is true! Compare what your preacher says against God's word. You might be surprised what you will find. Ask your pastor to clarify if you find something out of line when comparing his latest sermon with the Bible. He'll probably enjoy the discussion.

Listen for things that are NOT said as well. If someone talks about forgiveness but does not mention repentance they are telling half truths. That's not good.

I went to my old church yesterday and I heard something that caught my ear. The pastor said that when Moses was faced with a line of cases to judge he split them into smaller groups. The pastor then went on to talk about the benefits of small groups. Did Moses really do that? Did he really issue that command to split into small groups? Exodus 18

Was Moses facing a long line of people? Let's consult scripture.

"13 The next day Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood around Moses from morning till evening." - Exodus 18:13

Did Moses break the people into small groups. Well, sort of. He appointed judges, effectively splitting them, but he never gave a command for the people to form small groups.

"25 Moses chose able men out of all Israel and made them heads over the people, chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. 26 And they judged the people at all times." - Exodus 18:25

Is this really a big deal? So what if the pastor embellish the story a little.

4 “And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you. 2 You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you." - Deuteronomy 4:1-2

And again at the end of the Bible . . .

"18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book." - Revelation 22:18-19

God doesn't like His Word to be messed with. So, why is this such a big deal? Because . . . God doesn't like His Word to be messed with!

If pastors "adjust" God's Word, if they add to it or take away from it, they are disobeying God's Word. Troublesome. I'm not calling out this pastor. We all tend to exaggerate things to make a point, but it IS a sin. Repentance IS in order.

Only ONE "truth" can be true. Everything else is NOT truth. You and I are the ones responsible for what goes into and out of our minds and heart. Be a Berean!! They didn't trust anything that Paul and Silas said until they held it up against scripture and found it to be true. So it should be with us.

How did I know that what this pastor said was slightly off? Because I was familiar with the scripture he was reciting. I had spent time in God's Word. I was familiar with the truth. Again, so it should be with each of us.

False Teachers Exposed - Justin Peters