Monday, January 30, 2017

Vet Me

There has been a lot of talk this past year about vetting. What is vetting anyway? What does it mean to vet someone? Does it hurt? Our cat hates to go to the vet, but that's different. Why is it so important that we vet someone?

Vet - make a careful and critical examination of (something). To check, examine, scrutinize, investigate, inspect, look over, screen, assess, evaluate, appraise.

I see many Facebook posts about failed relationships and broken trust. To use the word of the day, it sounds like some people were not properly vetting their friends - weeding out the bad ones - only letting the good ones into their hearts.

As we look at whether or not to allow refugees from countries that allow terrorist activities into ours, let us remember the Ebola outbreak. What did we do with the guy on the plane who had been exposed to Ebola? Well, he was placed in quarantine, until it as proven that he didn't have it. Then he was released. Very similar.

What does God think about all this? I have no idea, but I can guess based on what I have read in the Bible. I know God wants us to love everyone of those refugees, especially our brothers and sisters (1 Peter 2:17). I also know that God commands us to cast out the evil ones among us (1 Corinthians 5:13).

There are many examples in the Old Testament about how Israel was instructed to treat people of different religions. It was never very pretty and not very politically correct. It was often bloody and complete. None being left alive.

Jesus brought a different message with Him in the message of the Good Samaritan. You can read my take on that here.

The Commands of Jesus: Go And Do Likewise

The issue of vetting refugees and immigrants splits the nation in two - detain them 48%, don't detain them 42%. So who's right? Not us humans.

Jesus will vet each one of us one day. And not every "refugee" will be allowed in.

31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. "

46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” - Matthew 25:31-33 & 46

Personally, I feel we Christians are called to take care of all the refugees, whatever their religion. But I also believe that we are to treat our Christians brothers and sister above the rest - still, at the same time, helping all. Should we let refugees for our "enemies" countries into our country? I'm not so sure about that one. I think our president is erring on the side of safety for American citizens at the expense of those seeking to get in. That's unfortunate but that's what its come down to now.

That said, we must remember that WE are not citizens of this world anymore. We are aliens in our own country. Jesus will vet us all one day. Do you have proof of who you are in God's eyes?

The Sheep And The Goats - Keith Green
Separating Sheep and Goats

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Compassion And Mercy

As I sit here, hands folded under my chin, I am trying to figure out just how to put into words what happened to me Friday morning. Most days we go through life just plodding along in the same old job and the same old life. Then there are those days, all too rare in my opinion, that we suddenly see clearly and know EXACTLY what it is we should do.

I wrote a story once about pausing in life occasionally, to look back at where we've come from. To examine our lives. Are we doing what God wants us to? Are we where He wants us to be? Are we making Him proud?

Everything started a few days ago when I was listening to a song by Josh Bates. The second verse just spoke to me this week for some reason. Then Friday morning came and I heard the words again during my prayer time . . . only I was speaking them.

The night descends and I have to face the dark
And I should pray before I sleep but it's so hard
Have I done a single thing to make Him proud
I had so many chances, but did I fail Him somehow.

When I emerged from prayer yesterday morning there were tears in my eyes. My prayers have not been that deep or meaningful in quite a while, but they were yesterday, and suddenly things seemed totally clear about what God wants me to do. It was almost like the tears themselves made everything clear. My prayers had been answered. My path made more certain.

Have you ever doubted and questioned yourself? Have you ever wondered if you were on the right track in life? Have you ever wondered if you make God proud with the decisions you make and the life you have led thus far? I do.

I just finished reading the Book of Joshua. The last chapter of that book contains some amazing words. Words we all should remember, if we call ourselves Christians.

14 “Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! 15 And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. - Joshua 24:14-15

When we become Christians it's not just something we do on Sundays. It's a lifestyle. It is a life CHANGE. Christianity is not about GOING to church, it's about BEING the church. How can we be Jesus in the lives of those around us?

For me, how I can serve my Lord and King became more clear to me this week. I'm not just going to let that slide without taking action. The clarity came from God!

I watched thousands of women marching in Washington D.C. yesterday as the annual March For Life took place. This group was much different than the group of women who marched the previous week.

Last week's group used hateful remarks about our president and one "thought about blowing up the White House." Yesterday's group spoke with love, compassion and mercy - not for themselves but for others who could not speak for themselves. Even our new vice president was there, giving those who attended a sense of new hope.

God provides us with clarity. He gives us gifts like compassion and mercy. We can make Him proud by following His commands and taking action on His behalf in the world in which He has placed us.

What are YOU going to do today? I know what I am going to do today and for the rest of my life. Joshua challenged us when he said, "choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve." He also answered that challenge as I answer it today. As for me . . . I will serve the Lord.

How will you serve God today?

Less - Josh Bates
Vice President Mike Pence Speech at March For Life 2017

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Who Can You Trust?

If this presidential election has taught us anything, it's that we can't trust anyone! The media used to be trustworthy - kind of a watchdog over the government. Now just about every media outlet has an opinion. They have an agenda. Isn't there anyone we can trust anymore?

Social media is worse. That's the place to go where NO ONE knows what is fact or fiction. It is getting harder and harder to determine who is telling the truth with the vast majority of reported leaning to the left or the right. And EVERYONE has an opinion.

So, where do we go to find some facts, some middle-of-the-road reporting? I have been placing more and more faith in the Bible than anything else and I'll tell you why. It's rather simple actually.
  • God cannot lie. It's not in His nature. Lying is a sin and God cannot sin. Therefore everything God tells us must be true.
  • God knows everything. He is omniscient. If God knows everything and cannot lie, wouldn't he be a trustworthy source of information? 
  • God loves us. If someone truly loves us, would they really lie to us? I don't think so.
 Okay, you say, I get it that God doesn't lie and He always tells the truth. How does that help me discern what is true on the nightly news? Well, if we know His Word, if we know the truths that God reveals to us, can we not use those truths to shine a light on all things?

For example, God doesn't lie and He doesn't want us to lie either. Once someone has been caught in a lie they lose all credibility in my opinion. And once someone gets a reputation as a liar, why would anyone believe them?

It won't belong before we find out that God is the only one we can trust. Just about everyone has an agenda. And if we decided we can only trust God and only listen to what HE has to say, I wonder . . . if the world might become a better place to live in and we the people might be just a little more trustworthy along the way.

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." - John 14:6

Let us use God as our guide through this world of deceit and lies. He will never lead us astray through deceptive words and God's only "agenda" is for us to love one another and to love Him. May this day be filled with truth, hope and love. May we follow Him instead of ourselves and our selfish desires.

Who can we trust? Our heavenly Father.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” - Joshua 1:9

What Is The Truth? - The Passion Of The Christ
How Do We Know The Bible Is True? - Ravi Zacharias

Monday, January 23, 2017

Don't Know What To Do?

Our pastor was out of town last Sunday so we had a substitute preacher. I had thought about traveling to West Allis to hear a former pastor and friend preach that day but instead I stayed home. I was glad I did. I didn't know it but I was about to receive a valuable life lesson on how we can navigate through life's struggles.

We were instructed to open our Bibles to 1 Samuel 30. Do that now. Here's a link. The whole chapter is gold but especially verses 1-19.

What would you do if you were soldier and you came home from war to find your home burned and your entire family taken captive by Muslim extremists. Everything you had and cherished was gone. What would you do? God tells us exactly what to do in this story about David from the Old Testament.

David came home from war to find his entire city burned and ALL of the woman and children taken as prisoners. There was nothing left.

The first thing David did was mourn the loss. That's natural. We all do that. Verse 4 says this . . .

"Then David and the people who were with him lifted up their voices and wept, until they had no more power to weep."

That's a perfectly natural and totally expected reaction. The next thing David did, however, was something that we often fail to do. He looked up. The end of verse six . . .

"But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God."

 How often do we pray? Only in time of need? For David and his men, losing everything they had certainly was a time to pray. The Bible tells us to "pray without ceasing." (1 Thessalonians 5). Do we do that?

When David was done praying he did something else you and I seldom do. He asked God what he should do. Verse eight . . .

"So David inquired of the Lord,"

And guess what? God answered David and directed him to pursue those who had captured their wives and children. David didn't know which direction to go but he was obedient to the Lord and set off in pursuit. Then something amazing happened. God provided direction. Verse 11 . . .

"11 Then they found an Egyptian in the field . . .
a servant of an Amalekite; and my master left me behind, because three days ago I fell sick. "

When we pray to God and are obedient in our response to His leading, God will often bless us and provide for us exactly what we need. The Egyptian, you see, had been traveling with the very people that David and his men were seeking. And the Egyptian led them right to the Amalekites that David was after. Gee. Isn't that interesting that the Egyptian just happened to get sick and just happened to be left behind where David would find him? Verse 16 . . .

"16 And when he had brought him down, there they were, spread out over all the land, eating and drinking and dancing, because of all the great spoil which they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from the land of Judah. 17 Then David attacked them from twilight until the evening of the next day. Not a man of them escaped, except four hundred young men who rode on camels and fled. 18 So David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away, and David rescued his two wives. 19 And nothing of theirs was lacking, either small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything which they had taken from them; David recovered all."

Have you suffered a loss recently? A devastating turn of events like David did? Perhaps a loved one died or a relationship has sudden;y ended. What stuff like that happens, do we "inquire of the Lord?" Do we obediently follow His direction? David did, and looked how God rewarded him!

May we always seek God's direction in our prayers. May we always turn to Him in times of trouble and sorrow. God will provide for our every need. Just ask David. When he returned home, he had everything with him that he desired - his wives, his family plus everything that they had taken from the Amalekites. They came out ahead! And so shall we if we would only turn to God and trust Him in all things.

This past week I was able to use this story of David's obedience to minister to two people in my life. How will God use YOU this week? These days, the Amalekites take different forms. They still take captive those we love. Let us inquire of the Lord. Let us look up and pursue our God, seek His will and direction and then, let us move.

Lead Me - Sanctus Real
David Saves His People

Saturday, January 21, 2017


This week work was been really busy. I was working on three projects all at once and guess what? They all had the same deadline. Yesterday. Isn't that wonderful? Needless to say, my Friday was rather full. Too full.

Don't get be wrong. Having work to do is a blessing. Having a job is a blessing. However, having three projects with the same deadline is . . . insane.

The problem with having too many things to do is that other things tend to take a back seat. Important things like family,  spouses . . . and God. Those who chose to sacrifice the important things I just mentioned in favor of work, I feel, are making a mistake. THEY are the insane ones.

I noticed a few things about myself this week during my work-a-thon. I came home depressed on a few nights. Anxious. I imagined what it might be like to have a heart attack. I didn't really want to find out. My stomach was been feeling out of sorts. In addition to these physical symptoms, I was also neglecting friends at work, my wife at home, and, most importantly, my time with God.

Wednesday night I spent time talking with a young friend from my youth group days. She has a 18-month old little girl who keeps her mommy and daddy very busy. As I listened to my friend tell me about her day I wondered, "I thought I was busy! How can this young mom find any time for God with all the things she is doing?" I should have taken my words as advice to myself this week. I'm such a Martha. Or maybe it should be Marty for us guys. Read this story about what it means to be a Martha in the Bible.

"38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” - Luke 10: 38-42

Jesus was "the good portion" in Mary's life. Service was the not so good portion in Martha's. May we never place our God in the back seat for anything.

During my prayers this week I spoke about my deciding to not working overtime, even though it was offered to me. I put my foot down at work and decided the lure of extra money wasn't worth the cost. It wasn't some statement coming from an old man thinking about retirement. It was from a follower of Jesus not wanting to diminish the importance of his King.

This life is short enough. It can be made even shorter by ignoring the important things in life. Our jobs are temporary. Our life with Jesus is eternal. Where do you think we should place OUR emphasis?

We are told in Colossians 3:23 to "work hard at our jobs, as if working for the Lord," but nowhere does it say that we should place our jobs above God or give more importance to them than we should. In fact, the Bible speaks against it.

24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." - Matthew 6:24

Finally, I was reminded of a song as I wrote this. Here's a line from the chorus.

"It seems such a waste of time. If that's what it's all about. Mama if that's movin' up then I'm movin' out. I'm movin' out."

Moving Out - Billy Joel

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Be Prepared

They say there are no atheists in fox holes. I think that's generally true. When we are faced with certain death, we are more willing to entertain the possibilities of life through faith. But fox holes during times of war don't have a monopoly on praying for help. Black ice can have a similar effect.

When I got home from work after a particularly scary drive I checked Facebook as I tried to unwind. I read a post from a friend of mine that said he'd been in an accident, totalled his car and he received 12 staples in his head at the E.R.

My friend is a believer so there was no danger of his losing his eternal life but my friend came close to losing his earthly life and that's what I'd like to write about today.

Have you ever had a near-death experience? One in which you could have easily died had things turned out differently? I've had a few. It's amazing how close we get to God when we don't have any control over an earthly outcome.

I think most of us go along through life without really thinking about the possibility of dying. "Not today," we think. "I've got too much to do. Well, one day death WILL come knocking on our door and no busy schedule will stop it from coming in. The question is, "Are we prepared?"

One of my son's high school classmates died this week. It was a surprise. Death usually is. The real question is, are we prepared for it? Most are not. To most, death will occur without them really thinking about it. It will be sudden and swift. No real time to talk about the important things in life. Like Jesus.

Jesus has promised us eternal life, if only we would believe in Him. No offense but that sounds like a pretty good deal to me. The only catch is, Jesus wants to be more than an insurance policy. He wants to be Lord of your life. That's a little more demanding and many refuse to allow it.

I still minister to a few young adults and teens from my youth leader days. Many have "prayed a prayer" and tell me that they "accepted" Jesus into their hearts. That's actually a sure sign that they have NOT been saved, in MY opinion. They continue on with their sinful, pre-prayer lifestyle and keep Jesus in the truck in case of emergency like a spare tire.

Here's a typical conversation with a young adult who says they know Jesus.

Me: "How's your walking with Jesus going?"
Them: "Good."
Me: "Have you been attending church?"
Them: "Well, not really. I haven't really found a church I like."
Me: "Have you been reading your Bible?"
Them: "Not really. I've been really busy."
Me: "What about a Bible study? Are you in a small group?"
Them: No.

There's an old saying that goes, "If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it's a duck!" The opposite is true for Christians. If you don't walk like one, serve like one and love like one, you are not a Christian! My friends, that's the most dangerous kind of Christian - the one's who think they are but really are not.

31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of 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 took Me in; 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 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’

44 “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” - Matthew 35:31-46

When we place our faith in Jesus we become changed. We don't just continue on like nothing ever happened. People should notice a change. WE should notice a change! We should be acting like who we have placed our faith in, not like the world. And that is the problem. We don't want to change, yet change . . . repentance . . . is a prerequisite for eternal life.

We had better be sure that we not only know OF Him, but KNOW Him before we venture out on life's highway. Be prepared! When you're spinning out of control, that is not the time to find out you are lacking in the faith department and get set aside with the rest of the goats. Be prepared.

Winter Storm Survival Tips

Prepare Him Room - Northland Church

Monday, January 16, 2017

Where Joy and Sorrow Meet

There is a wonderful thing that happens when a family member dies. It's actually the same thing that happens when two people get married. Can you figure out what it is? Think about the similarities. Both events are usually officiated by ministers, they usually take place in churches. Both events often feature meals afterwards. But none of those are what I am going to be writing about today.

My sister and her husband came to visit this past weekend. Well, their visiting was only a byproduct of why they were here. My brother-in-law's father had passed away and they were coming back to Wisconsin for the funeral.

It seems like the only times family gets together in a major way is for weddings or funerals. Other times of the year we are simply too busy, we have something else to do or we simply don't want to invest the time to make a long trip.

Weddings and funerals are different though. We DO make plans, we DO make an effort to attend.

After the funeral and the meal that followed this past weekend my wife and I returned home. My sister, her husband and one of their sons stayed behind to visit with family. That was early afternoon. Later that night I received a phone call from my sister. My brother-in-laws family was having such a good time talking with one another they wanted to spend MORE time doing so! Joy amongst the sorrow.

I have been blessed to be a part of such a loving family. We always enjoy our time together. Weddings are amazing events for family and, if you really think about it, so are funerals. Why is that?

As I watched the people at the funeral the other day I couldn't help but noticed the love present in the room. Conversations, hugs, kisses on cheeks - much the same as at a wedding. What an odd combination. Gathered together in grief . . . and celebration.

There is another place where joy and sorrow meet besides funerals . . .

"There's a place of thirst and hunger where the roots of faith grow deep

And there is rain and rolling thunder when the road is rough and steep

There is hope in desperation there is victory in defeat

At the cross of restoration where joy and sorrow meet."

Where Joy and Sorrow Meet - The Zoe Group

Friday, January 13, 2017

Black Death

It is often invisible yet its results are always seen. By itself it can do nothing but when humans get involved it can be deadly. It can disappear without a trace but the effects of it can last a lifetime. What am I talking about? Two things really.

Wisconsin winters vary in type and intensity. It can be a bright, sunshiny, freezing cold day or it can be raining. The wind can blow fiercely at times and at others, it can be completely and totally calm. Occasionally, conditions can be just right, or wrong if you prefer, for some really nasty weather. Like earlier this week when it got really cold (-14 degrees) and then a few days later when it rained and then froze.

As you might have guessed the frozen rain and subsequent snow created a hidden danger for motorists. It was NOT a good time to be driving. Thirty minutes after I went through a particular stretch of freeway on my way home Tuesday night, the police shut it down due to black ice and the number of car and trucks in the ditches. Very dangerous!

There is another dangerous phenomenon that occurs in our world. It is even more dangerous than black ice. It too often occurs with little or no notice and its effect can last an entire lifetime. It's called sin.

Since sin carries some of the same characteristics as black ice does, I wonder, can we take any hints from dealing with black ice and apply them to the sin in our lives? Let's see.
  1. Check the conditions. Watching the weather helps us know when black ice is likely to form. Having an accountability partner or self-examination can help us determine when our lives are "getting slippery."
  2. Look for the signs. When we see cars spinning out of control ahead of us on the road, it might be a sign we need to slow down. When we catch ourselves doing things we shouldn't we need to re-think our decisions.
  3. Prepare yourself. Having a good set of tires on your car can help in icy conditions. Also, having a tow rope is good. Read God's Word. If we prepare our hearts we are more likely not to get stuck or veer off the path.
  4. Slow down! Slowing our speed on the road gives us more time to react. Slowing our decision making in like can lead to wiser choices.
  5. Think! Our brains can often save our butts of the highway. Drive defensively! We can save our hearts from making mistakes if we just use them.
As we drive through this world, let us be ever-watchful. It's dangerous and slippery out there! Keeping the shiny side up and out of the ditches is good advice, not only for driving, but for life as well.

Be safe out there!!

"15 Good understanding gains favor, But the way of the unfaithful is hard. 16 Every prudent man acts with knowledge, But a fool lays open his folly." - Proverbs 13:15-16

"20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 6:20-23

Winter Car Crashes - Black Ice
Jesus, Take The Wheel - Carrie Underwood

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Call A Tow Truck!

Yesterday morning I took my truck to work. Four inches of snow had dropped on our area overnight and the roads were going to be slippery. I was glad I stopped at Walmart the day before and got a tow rope too. Now that I had a big truck with four-wheel drive I could actually pull someone out of the ditch if I wanted to! How prophetic of me. And sad at the same time.

Guess what? Half way into town I saw a car in the ditch - a little Subaru. I slowed down and looked more closely at it. The car looked like one a friend of mine owned! I began looking for a place to turn around. Then I saw the lights - a tow truck perhaps - heading for the accident scene. "They've got this," I thought. Then I noticed the flashing lights belonged to an ambulance, not a tow truck.

Uh-oh. I began to pray.

As I continued on my way to work I began to think about my reaction and my emotions about what I had just seen. The sequence.

My first thought was about something I could do. I had a tow rope. I could help someone! How interesting, I thought, that I had purchased the tow rope just the day before I could have actually used it.

I had a certain level of concern for the driver of the car but when I thought that the driver could have actually been a friend - someone I actually knew - my thoughts changed. My concern deepened. And I guess that bothered me a little. Shouldn't I feel the same concern for ALL people?

That's a tough one. I think the concern I felt was the same, but perhaps it was the sense of friend in trouble that made my concern deepen.

We humans are a strange species. Some of us don't care at all. Others care enough to stop. Would I really have been in the way? Should I have stopped? I think I did the right thing by not stopping. I think what matters in God's eyes is our desire.

I contacted my friend later in the day. It turned out the driver of the car in the ditch was not her. We were both grateful for that. But I wonder it isn't me who needs a tow truck in my spiritual life.

God is interested in the condition of our heart. When I first saw that car in the ditch my first thoughts were about me and what I could do. My first thought should have been about the person in the car and what God could do. "He must become greater, I must become less" (John 3:30)

When God sent Samuel to Bethlehem to find a king, we learn an interesting thing about God and what He looks for in each of us..

"So it was, when they came, that he looked at Eliab and said, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him!”

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. - 1 Samuel 16:6-7

God Looks At The Heart - Love City TV

Monday, January 9, 2017

Not A Fan

 I was watching the Lions-Seahawks game the other day and I must confess a certain sadness in watching the Lions lose.  Not because I wanted them to win necessarily. It's just that the Lions ALWAYS seem to lose. The looks of the players on the sidelines exemplified depression and loss.
If you think about it, only one team in the NFL can truly feel satisfied with their season if every other team loses. If a Superbowl win is a team's mark of success, 97% of NFL fans experience loss and should be dissatisfied with their team's season.
Look at politics. It's the same thing there. We just had a presidential election in our country and half of the population didn't like the results. That happens every four years but this year was different. The losing team really did not like losing and they are letting everyone know about it. There were scandals. There were lies. There was sexual innuendo. Yet most people felt their candidates did no wrong.
There is no contentment in being a fan . . . a fanatic . . . just disappointment sprinkled with an occasional victory that doesn't last. Isn't there something or someone we can find hope in that doesn't disappoint!?!
Well . . . 
There once was a man who placed his faith in God at a very young age and, although this man made some mistakes and sinned against the very God he had placed his faith in, God forgave him. God could have disappointed him but He didn't. This was the man's response when he prayed to the God he was devoted to. Does he sound like a disappointed fan? Or a devoted follower?
"Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. 2 Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. 3 For the Lord is the great God, And the great King above all gods. 4 In His hand are the deep places of the earth;The heights of the hills are His also. 5 The sea is His, for He made it; And His hands formed the dry land. 6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. 7 For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand." - Psalm 95:1-7
May we all be devoted followers, not fans. Through highs and lows, let us praise Him, for ALL His ways are good. And should we EVER find ourselves disappointed in God, let us examine ourselves thoroughly because if we are disappointed in Him, we don't really know Him.
Facing The Giants - What Are You Living For?

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Staying Warm

Ten below zero! That was the temperature on my way into work yesterday morning. It was C-O-L-D cold!! When it’s really cold like this it can be downright dangerous! Pipes freeze, cars won’t start and frostbite can occur in a matter of minutes.
Our faith can get like that if we don’t actively engage in efforts to keep ourselves spiritually warm and toasty when life gets “cold”. If we let our faith grow cold through inattentive behavior we soon can find ourselves on the side of the road with a spiritual car that just won’t run.
So, how do we stay warm in a world that wants to suck the heat right out of us? Here’s a few things that help keep ME stay warm. I hope they do the same thing for you.
Read - Spending time in God’s Word can warm our hearts. Reading God’s promises can lift us up and remind us of “warmer weather”. The sun will come up tomorrow. Spring is approaching. Read!
Pray - Talking to God, our Father, can be a very warming experience. Especially when we remember that He DOES hear us and that He DOES love us.
Praise & Worship - I personally get great enjoyment out of singing worship music. I don't sing very well but when I am alone in my car I am one of the loudest. LOL!
Serve others - Helping others brings great joy to the heart of a Christian. It warms our hearts to serve God by serving others. The widow, the orphan, the sick, the poor. It is an honor to become less in His name.
And now for a little bedtime secret about how my wife and I stay warm when it's time for bed. Don't worry. Nothing TOO "hot". LOL!

I am usually the first one in bed so I get the unenviable job of warming the sheets. Someone has to do it, right? Ephesians 5, husbands . . . sacrifice! So I shiver under the covers until things get warm. Then do you know what I do? I scoot over to my wife's side of the bed and I warm her side of the bed as well. You would not believe that shouts of joy she emits when she climbs into a pre-warmed bed. HA! And it's even Biblical!

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? – Ecclesiastes 4:9-11

So, on those cold, lonely nights when you're feeling downright chilly, put a log on the fire and pick up your Bible and read a few chapters about Moses wandering through the desert. You will be warm in no time! :)

Let It Go - Pentatonix
California Dreamin' - The Mama's and The Papa's

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Stone Giver

Late at night, the phone rings. Who could POSSIBLY be calling at this hour of the night? You answer, "Hello?" And then you hear the story. It's a friend in trouble, or it's a family member in need. What can you do? What WOULD you do?

I have taken a few calls like that. You probably have too. When the phone rings late at night it is seldom good news.

Our natural instinct is to not do anything. We tend to be living examples of Newton's first law of motion. A body at rest tends to stay at rest and a body in motion tends to stay in motion. Of course, Newton was referring to objects, not humans, but I think he was right for us humans as well.

Jesus challenges those of us who like to stay at rest. He challenges us to move in Matthew 7.

9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?" - Matthew 7:9

When someone asks us for bread . . . give him bread!! Basically, when someone is in need we have been called to help them.

Did you ever wonder why someone calls you? I mean, why did they choose you? Do you have a reputation for helping others? Are you someone this person can trust? What an honor it is when someone calls you, seeking help.

Our first and best response when someone calls for help should be, "What can I do?"

There are several ways to respond to a friend in need, and I think a truly good friend will respond in more than one way.

First, there is the initial need. Sometimes that can be harder to determine than one might think. For example, you might notice on Facebook a friend saying, "Christmas sucks." We can probably figure out that they are having a bad day. But WHY are they having a bad day? Some investigation is needed.

The second thing we can do is to help eliminate the same need from happening again in the future. I'm not saying to just give people stuff but encourage them in some way, teach them, instruct them. Walk with them for a while, don't just throw them a loaf of bread and forget them. Love them.

Yet, even though we say we'd never give someone a stone when they ask for bread, we can sometimes do something similar when we ignore a phone call, don't return a text or ignore someone's cry for help when we hear it.

We all can't be Superman but we have a super God. Allow Him to work through us and into the lives of others.

How will we reach out to others today? And will we do it in the name of Christ? Or just do it to be nice? We have been called to make Jesus known. One of the best ways to make Him known is to act like Him . . . to be like Him. Let's be Jesus to someone today.

"11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! 12 Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." - Matthew 7:11-12

Be Jesus To Someone Today - Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers

Monday, January 2, 2017

A New Resolution

New Year's Eve promises always sound hopeful and optimistic but in reality most New Year's resolutions fail and we are left feeling unsatisfied with ourselves year after year after year. We are always so well-intentioned. So why do we end up disappointing ourselves each and every time we make these resolutions? The answer is quite simple.

The reason we fail to keep our New Year's resolutions is easy to see. Look at the resolutions pictured above. With the exception of one of the resolutions, maybe two, all of them are about "self." The biggest opponent we face in completing our New Year's resolution goals will be ourselves and our own selfish desires.

Did you know that there is one New Year's resolution that will leave us satisfied EVERY year? There is. Any ideas what it could be? A clue can be found in 2 Peter 1:3. Look!

"His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness." - 1 Peter 1:3

God has already given us everything we need!

Hey, wait a minute. If God has given us everything we need, why do we want so much other stuff beyond what we already have? Verse 4.

"Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires." - 2 Peter 1:4

That brings us to what should be our first and best New Year's resolution - to know God more. When we get to know God and His promises we begin to shift our focus away from ourselves and towards God. And THAT will ALWAYS lead us away from many of the things we usually make resolutions about.

Do you desire God? I mean REALLY desire Him? Why don't you try something different this year, whether you already know Him or not. Make a New Year's resolution this year to know Him more. You will NOT be disappointed if you do. If we can do just that one thing we will be well on our way to having a better year on 2017.

Do You Desire God? - Paul Washer

[Special thanks to Pastor Dave Goyke - Calvary Chapel - Waupaca, WI, for providing the "push" to write this story through the message he delivered yesterday.]