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Archive for the category “Faith”

The Only Answer

Can I be honest with you? The things going on in this country hurts my heart. I don’t know what the answer is, except Jesus. I don’t know how to fix all the strife, but Jesus does. Why doesn’t He do it? Why has God given us this free will when it drives us so far from Him? Why doesn’t everyone love Jesus?

Mark Lowry has written a new song about Jesus called What’s not to Love? “Jesus took my place. My sins have been erased. It’s about amazing grace.” Yet, in this world, Jesus’ name is a curse. People would have you talk about anything else than mention the name of Jesus. Why? I just don’t understand.

Over the last few weeks, I have been researching my family tree. I recently connected with a long distant cousin through a DNA test. The company I used for the test links DNA relatives and gives us the option to connect. One of the DNA relatives contacted me to share ancestry information. She was high on the list as far as segments matched, so I thought why not?

After connecting with her, she put me in touch with her mom who had been researching the family for years. The mother had a nugget or two that I did not have that has led me to my family roots from the turn of the 18th century. I found the link all the way back to England.

What’s really fascinating about all this (in my opinion) is that after coming to America, my family line lived in the south. Every part of the south – from Virginia to Texas. I know my Dad’s family was all southerners too. Now, I know I have southern blood through and through. I’m sure with the southern roots, someone in my family fought in the Civil War. Maybe. I don’t have any proof that they didn’t; I assume some son had to go and probably died. I don’t know what they were thinking if they did, or even if they even had a choice.

I now know my maternal side of the family comes from farmers who had lots of children. They weren’t rich. They kept moving south every couple of generations or so. I don’t know what they were searching for – maybe free land. I do believe most of the people in my family line were Christians. There seems to be evidence of it. It’s probably why the first family came over from England to escape the “state run” religion. That’s speculation. They were good, hard-working people. Again, speculation.

But this I do know, they were not perfect. They had their sins as I have my own. Sins run in my family line – both sides. Yours too. We are an imperfect, sinful people. And nothing will change that fact. We all need Jesus, whether we like to admit it or not. He is the only One who can change hearts, even now in this mess we have going on today.

Jesus said though, that He did not come to bring peace but division (Luke 12:51-53). Families will be split because of Him. Every person will have to choose for themselves whom they will serve. There are only two options. If they do not opt for Jesus, then the default is the other. Most people will not agree with that statement. They think there are many roads to heaven. I wish that were true. But if it was true, Jesus gave His life for nothing. If it’s true, He died a horrible death, not only that, but was beaten until He was unrecognizable. Jesus could have sent for angels to come and rescue Him from all the suffering. But He didn’t because He knew the truth. He is the only way to our Father in heaven. And we are only saved from our sins when we believe in Him.

Unfortunately, the ones who do not opt for Jesus will keep this world in chaos, and even more so as the day approaches when Jesus will return for His church. The signs are getting closer together to demonstrate that time is short. It might take another twenty years, but I don’t think so. I think we are about to run out of the grace period, which is what we have been living in since Jesus left us the first time. Jesus will fulfill the prophecies of His return. Count on it. Make sure of your election to serve Him as the One and Only worthy of serving. What’s not to love? Good question.

So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:14-15 (NLT)

Time Will Tell

Over the last couple of days, I have been pondering a few things. I know, I ponder quite a bit. Every blog posting is attributable to my thought processes. However, God is stirring my heart for change. Change in me and change in this country. I heard about a mission trip to the green hills of Vermont that had me contemplating a move to those hills to help plant a church. Then I recognized my lack of ability to acclimate to cold weather and I thought better of it. But it still left me feeling a bit uneasy to leave that thought alone. After all, Vermont is the second most unchurched state of the union. There are a lot of lost souls in those beautiful hills.

I grew up in the south. I have lived in this state all my life. I have moved from one end to almost the other. Churches are on every corner in the city, with very few miles in between in the counties. Growing up, gathering on Sundays was just the norm. Sunday nights too. Even Wednesday nights, with our covered dish suppers that were a kid’s delight (after all, who could resist all those desserts!). It’s just what we did. Today is a different story. I think much of that is my generation’s fault.

We have a watered down Gospel. Much of us have decided we don’t need God. We’re doing fine on our own. We do the Sunday thing, because that’s what we do or not; depending on what else is going on. I think one of our problems is we didn’t see God working. We put God in the “out there” category. He just doesn’t get involved in our lives. We did the church thing because that’s what we were taught. But is that all we’re called to do? Just do the church thing a couple of times a week? Where’s the fire that the early church had?

Beth Moore wrote a blog posting this week called: “Is this it? Is this what Jesus meant?” (Check it out HERE.) Her words gave my heart a check. I want to see this outpouring of the Holy Spirit. I want to experience God working through me. We are told that we would have more of that in the “last days.” Where is it in America? Why are we not experiencing an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on this American soil? Are we washed up – so far gone that we just can’t muster enough gumption to do what we’re called to do as Jesus’ body? Where’s the fire? Aren’t we supposed to experience these things like before? Are the kids in Vermont just going to be lost forever?

Anne Graham Lotz also had a blog posting concerning this American Eclipse that is about to occur August 21 (check it out HERE.) God said in the beginning that He put the sun, moon and stars in the sky as a sign and to mark the seasons/festivals (Genesis 1:14). I have heard that God uses the sun as a sign for Gentile nations and the moon as a sign for the Jewish nation. So, if this is a sign for us in America, what is it about? Here are a few interesting facts that I have learned over the last couple of days.

It starts on the west coast at the exact minute that the sun goes down in Israel – which is the start of the last month (Elul) of the Jewish year 5777 (considered the year of completion). Also, there will be another American eclipse seven years later in April 8, 2024; the first day of Nisan on the Jewish calendar. There is a point of intersection between the first and second eclipse path at the intersection of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. X marks the spot. Time will tell why this spot is marked.

There was a European total eclipse on August 21, 1914. Two months later with the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand World War I began. The war ended on November 11, 1918 which was just a few months after the American solar eclipse on June 8. In 1918 was the great flu pandemic that killed more people than the Great War. The flu killed over 50 million people from 1918 to 1920. There were also sixteen earthquakes throughout the world that year that registered more than 7.0. There were thirty with a magnitude of 6.0 to 6.9. What does 2017 American Eclipse hold for us and the world? Time will tell.

God is gracious to us to warn us before events take place. Time will tell what this eclipse and the one to come will bring. But we are not to be a stiff-neck people who do not pay attention or heed the call to change. The church is called to repent. We cannot be the light and live like the devil. I think God is calling us to a new level of commitment or I should say back to the same level as in the days of old. Time will tell.

Are you crying out to God yet? Time may not be on our side. If the clock is ticking, let’s be faithful in this last hour. Let’s teach the children about this great God and our loving Savior. We may be forewarned, but we have to heed the warnings and do something now. God, give us the boldness to tell others Your Story to save lives for your glory.

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Acts 2:37-38,40

His Love Endures

I woke up this morning with this thought on my mind – His love endures forever. It’s the message from the 136th Psalm, which recounts the Israelite’s journey with the response of God’s love enduring forever as He carried them through as they reached the Promised Land. With that thought on my mind, I recalled the books that I have read over the last three weeks. Three different books with one theme – God carries us through those tough times because of His love for us. Not because of our goodness, but because of His.

The first book was the real life story of enduring brain trauma by Laura Story (When God Doesn’t Fix It). Her husband had a brain tumor that was removed but complications set in. When they got married, they expected a perfect life. But one and a half years in, their lives took an unexpected turn. Their story will never be perfect. Their lives are hard because God didn’t fix the problem or heal Laura’s husband. But God still carries them through. God’s love endures forever.

The next book I read was from Jerry Jenkins (Though None Go with Me) about a modern-day version of the account of Job, if he was a woman set in the early 20th century. The story is about the tragedy of this woman’s life as she endured the hardships of loss, misfortune and loneliness through the ages. She dedicated her life to God at an early age as the “experiment of obedience.” Through all the hard times, she could have cursed God; but she remembered her dedication on that day when she gave it all to Him. The pastor told her on that day that her life would not be easy. And it wasn’t. But through it all, God carried her through. God’s love endures forever.

The last book I finished yesterday was from Francine Rivers called Tamar. It’s a fictional account of the historical story of Judah and Tamar. The story is found in Genesis 38, set in the middle of the account of Joseph’s story. It’s like a little rabbit trail that the writer takes us on as we read through Joseph’s life. I’ll get back to Francine’s story in a minute. This account of Judah’s life is interesting to me.

Early on in my life, I thought Jesus’ line came through Joseph, not Judah. I mean, Joseph got the most write-up, right? So wouldn’t it stand to reason, God had selected him for the role in Jesus’ lineage? Joseph was the righteous one not Judah. Judah did a great injustice to Joseph. However, Judah played a role for God to bring Joseph to the place he needed to be in order to save the Israelites. Judah does step up in the end of the story to help right the wrong, but I don’t know why Judah was God’s man; especially after the story of Tamar. Do you know the story?

Tamar was a Canaanite woman who was given to Er, Judah’s first born son, to be his wife. Er did what was wrong in the sight of God, and God took him out of the picture. Tamar was given to the second son, Onan. Again, he also did what was wrong in the sight of God, and he too was taken out. So Tamar is without a son to carry on Judah’s line, but there was a third son. However, after two sons dying; Judah was not inclined to give this girl another chance. So she was sent back home.

After a time, she realizes Judah is not going to do the honorable thing and takes matters into her own hands. After Judah’s wife dies, Tamar sets up a plan to deceive Judah by playing a temple prostitute. The plan works; she conceives twins. One of those twins, Perez, is the one who is in the line of Jesus. Fascinating, isn’t it?

Francine’s book is about the fictional account from Tamar’s point of view. Although Tamar was a Canaanite, she began to believe in Judah’s God (fictional account). God carried her through the tragedies that she endured through those harsh times. Because Tamar did what she needed to do to carry on Judah’s line, God blessed her and gave her two sons for Judah. Judah did the right thing in the end. And maybe the story of Judah finally taking responsibility for Joseph was because of Tamar. In the end, Judah’s line continues because of God’s love endures forever.

These books made me think of God’s love for us. He really does carry us through; not because of us and our goodness, but because of His goodness and His love for us. His love does endure forever. We are His creation. He called all that He had made very good. We don’t always do what’s right in His sight. But He loves us anyway. His love is shown through His Son. His Son is our example of His love enduring forever. That truly is very good. Thank you, Jesus for Your constant love for us. Believe it and let Him carry you through.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.
to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
Psalm 136:1-4

 

Curve Balls

You just can’t tell when life will throw you a curve ball. Swoosh! Car accident. Swoosh! Fall off a ladder and break a leg. Swoosh! Someone you know dies suddenly. Those balls can come fast and furious. In every event, a new normal takes shape. Life continues on; we move on, sometimes slowly; but we go on. Things will never be the same again. However, nothing is a surprise to God. He saw it coming. In His Sovereignty, He allowed it to happen. He could have stopped it from happening. But for some reason, that “thing” happened. But God always has the last word on it.

I started this blog posting about three weeks ago. However, there was another word that was pressed upon me at the time. I woke up this morning with these words circling in my heart. You just never know when life will throw you a curve ball. What a difference a year can make or even a month or even more a day. The future is uncertain right now for me and my family. There is a season for everything, and the season is about to change. It’s a matter of when not if. A new normal is about to take shape.

Three weeks ago, my family celebrated my Dad’s 90th birthday. Today, he lies in a hospital bed. We don’t know the time when God will call any of us home. We just never know when things will happen that will change our future. Sometimes we ask why and we only get silence. We want life to be fair, but it’s anything but fair. We want justice, but there is no justice to be found. How can we live with this uncertainty with a peace beyond our understanding? Because of Jesus. When Jesus is in the picture, there is peace.

Peace beyond understanding. God is still Sovereign and on His throne. He is still glorious. His ways are still higher than ours. His thoughts still transcend ours. God still triumphs over evil – even when it looks like evil is winning. Whatever Satan has planned, God has a counter move. What Satan has planned for evil, God will make good out of it. It’s just the way God works. Satan can throw whatever he has at us, but when we have the peace of God, nothing will move us away from Him.

Satan will attempt many things to throw us off-balance. The curve balls can be his attempt to move us away from God. When we walk with Jesus, we are Satan’s target. Those curve balls will try to separate us from the only one who can keep us in the game. I heard a statement Tuesday night attributed to a singer who was questioned about Jesus being a “crutch” for all us Christians. The singer replied Jesus isn’t a crutch to him; Jesus is his stretcher. Jesus carries us. Sure we lean on Him, but it’s so much better when Jesus just picks us up and carries us through.

Levi Lesko wrote a powerful book written from a place of brokenness after he lost one of his daughters several years ago during the Christmas season. Right after they said goodbye to their precious one, Levi’s wife asked him to hand the hospital staff an invitation to the Christmas Eve service. In the midst of his pain, he handed the staff an invitation to make good out of a bad situation. Because of that invitation at a time when these parents could have walked away in their grief, they reached out and two of the staff came to know Jesus. Levi didn’t just lean on Jesus during that time. He couldn’t have delivered a message that would change people’s lives unless he was carried through it.

We never know how God will use the time of our greatest pain, but He will. We have to be open in those moments for God’s glory to come through. We have to be able to see the curve balls for what they are in this moment in time – God’s grace and mercy for such a time as this. There are hurting people all around us. Let us give them the gift of hope and let them be carried to the throne room of grace. Good can come out of a bad situation. Let God have the last word on it. And hit the curve balls out of the park, the game is already won but we can add to the number!

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 (NLT)

Chest Moves

You should know by now that I keep my ears and eyes open to prophecy experts. I love to see how God is moving the pieces around. Sometimes it’s not too obvious. We can look back at history and see God working through circumstances, but it’s a little more difficult in real-time. Take the Bush-era, “W” that is. We weren’t too thrilled when the invasion to Iraq happened. But that was just a “chest piece” move by God. We don’t like to think about World War II being a chest piece move, but it was. Israel would not be in possession of their land today (and I know there are those who do not believe they have the rights to it) if it were not for WWII.

I read last night about the Wooden era of basketball at UCLA – seven national championships from 1967 to 1973. I know that isn’t much of a chest piece move. But the dates are significant. I think it has God’s hand print on it. From what I understand coach Wooden was a godly man. I don’t know what became of those young men who came through his program, but God does and knows exactly what He used them for.

1967 was a major step for Israel to get Jerusalem in their possession once again (I know, contested rights). 1973 abortion became legalized; the US got out of the Vietnam War in 1973; and a big Jesus movement happened in that same year. There was much strife between ’67 and ’73. I remember those years being filled with protests and the hippie movement with peace signs everywhere. Everybody wanted peace. Isn’t that what we want today? Peace in every corner of this world? The trouble is there will be no peace ever until Jesus returns.

I believe chest moves are countered by the enemy. One step for God’s Kingdom when bring the enemy to the door. Each move God makes, Satan and his demons will counter, which we will be right in the middle of the conflict. There is a battle going on – first for our soul, second for our walk. If God is moving in us, the enemy is going to make sure we don’t take that step. If there is no storm brewing, then we need to check our walk. Are we in step with God?

Andy Andrews wrote in his last book that it’s the little things that take us where we need to go. It’s the small decisions not the big ones that get us to our destination. I am not a “big picture” kind of person. I like to look at details. I guess that’s the analyst in me. Someone has to help me see the big picture. I can get bogged down in the details. I rely on God to move me away from the details and show me the next thing. I figure when the right time to move comes, God will show me the way. He has done it in the past, and I expect Him to do so in the future.

One thing Andy mentioned in his book was about what’s best. He asked three questions that have to be answered in our hearts to get to the best.

  1. Do you believe God wants the best for you? Think about it. If God loves you as He does, does He really want what’s best for you? Do you believe it?
  2. Do you believe God has a better imagination than you? Ah, YES. That one seems simple enough!
  3. Looking at your life, are you living the best life God has for you? That might be a “no” at this point. But that could change in a split second.

God has something in mind for all of us. He has chest piece moves ready to happen, and He needs people ready to do His work. There are small and large things that need to take place. Some of us will get the small stuff to do; others will get the big stuff. The presidents get the big stuff. Some are chosen to run countries, some are chosen to run large companies; and some are chosen to do the grunt work to help those in charge.

We all have a part to play; however, we have to be in God’s game. The best for us is to be part of God’s plan. We don’t like this word, but we have to surrender our desires and our plans for His. If we believe He loves us and wants the best for us, why would we choose something different? What could happen if we let God have His way in us? The BEST life ever! And the best life ever could impact the world for the better for generations to come. Wouldn’t that be something?

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. 1 John 2:15-17 (NLT)

Note: Andy Andrew’s book The Little Things published 2017 by W Publishing Group, Nashville, TN

The Fly Zone

Ever heard of the fly zone in a relay race? David Green (the Hobby Lobby guy) wrote about this concept in his book Giving it All Away. He used the analogy of the hand off of the baton in the fly zone as the hand off from one generation to the next. The fly zone is the place where one runner ending a race hands the baton to the next one starting their race. The first is winding down and the next is sprinting ahead, and it’s a crucial time to transfer the baton. It is an instant that can either win the race or lose it with a bad hand off.

David Green has quite a bit of wealth to hand off to the next generation. However, it’s more of handing a vision to be carried on long past his retirement or his death, and the wealth that has accumulated to be able to continue what has been started. David’s story is really inspiring. He didn’t have much, but God has blessed him through the years because of David’s faithfulness to the vision. This vision was given by God to David, and God has provided the means to accomplish the vision. David is passing the vision and the means to the next generation.

David has been given an insight we all need to comprehend. His business is not his own – it’s Gods. The money it generates is God’s. What would God want done with His money? He would want others to benefit. He would want His Kingdom to grow. And this is what David has done. He has set hours that would allow family time for his employees. He pays the employees living wages. He believes a manager should be able to do his job in 66 hours – the same hours the store is open. If that manager can’t handle it in that amount of time, then that person is wrong for the job. And the Green family is not guaranteed a job. They have to earn just like everyone else. Impressive.

David has a godly vision for the business and for the family. The business gives 50% of the profit away to projects the family decides to fund. There are several criteria that are considered on every project. If the project doesn’t meet the criteria then it’s a pass. I believe this is a good plan for anyone who wants to be a good giver. Being generous is more than spontaneous giving. It’s having a plan and sticking to it no matter how much you make. It’s a percentage. As wealth grows, the money given grows by the same percent decided ahead of time. David started with a percentage and grew the percentage until 50% was given away. The other 50% went back into the business to grow the business.

This book is not about a business. It’s about a mindset; a foundation for living out the vision. David has raised a family that has the same vision; that has the same values and is leaving a legacy that will be carried on for generations after him. David caught the vision and values from his parents. I got the gift from my parents too. They got it from theirs. We all have received this precious gift that needs to be carried on. It’s how the Gospel message has been transferred from one generation to the next. But we need to understand this is our time. I am in the fly zone. My parents have done their job. It’s my time, and it’s your time regardless of how you got the gift – it’s your time to pass it on.

One of the things I came away with from the book is to have a plan. Giving it all away is a plan, but a plan needs to have a foundation. What really matters to me? What’s my vision for the Gospel message and how can I fund the vision? This is the foundation that needs to be set. Hopefully, I can pass this same vision so that it doesn’t die with me. My vision should stay longer than one generation. I should be able to fund the vision so that it has its own legs to continue the race.

This is not about me and what I can do, but what God will do through me for His glory. It’s His vision and His glory. I just happen to be His runner just as David Green is His runner in this race. We all have a part to play to finish this race. We are in the fly zone, and it’s our responsibility to make a good pass. We can’t drop it now; this race is too important! Let’s finish strong!

You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food—catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They’ll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages. But you—keep your eye on what you’re doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God’s servant.

You take over. I’m about to die, my life an offering on God’s altar. This is the only race worth running. I’ve run hard right to the finish, believed all the way.
2 Timothy 4:3-7 (MSG)

To My Dad…

You might think this is a delayed Father’s Day posting. For those outside of the United States who don’t know our traditions, the third Sunday in June is set aside to honor Dads. We have a Sunday in May to honor Moms as well. I don’t know when or how these two days were first celebrated. I don’t remember them being that big a deal when I was growing up. Anyway, this posting is not about Father’s Day. It’s a posting celebrating my Dad because of his 90th birthday tomorrow. My Dad doesn’t really enjoy presents. He could care less about them. His love language is spending time with him. So I will make the trip to see him and love on him the way he enjoys it.

My Dad has been my champion all my life. He has never let me down. He showed up whenever I needed him. Of course, Mom may have instigated the trip to me when I had my car accident. However, Dad has always been the one I turned to when I have needed advice or needed a helping hand. He was a great handy man and could do almost anything. I never had to hire a man to do odd jobs around my house until my Dad was no longer able to handle those types of things.

I was my Dad’s shadow most of my growing up life. On Saturday’s I looked forward to “help” him do those things around the house. Mowing grass, changing oil in the car, anything he did, I was right there with him. The only thing I couldn’t do was play golf with him on Saturday mornings. Even though he taught me to play when I was quite young, Saturday mornings were for his standard foursome. On one or two occasions, I would be allowed to go with him. He taught me how to drive a golf cart long before it was legal to do so. When I took driver’s education, the instructor wondered why I drove so well until I told him I was a golfer. And my Dad was the one who helped me learn to drive on real roads too.

My Dad is pretty special to me. Sure we had our difficulties during my teen years. It was a struggle one summer between my first and second year in college. I was testing my wings, and my parents were keeping me from such a “good” life. All my life, I had boundaries set for my protection to keep me from getting hurt or going down the wrong path. I could have so easily strayed (and did for a time), but they kept instructing (and punishing me) to keep me on the straight and narrow path. Of course I resented it at that time. But looking back on it, what a blessing it was to have those boundaries. I rebelled for a few years, but came back when I realized it was not the life for me.

Dad didn’t have an easy childhood. Growing up in the depression meant his family didn’t have much. His father had a small grocery store so at least they had food on the table. They had a small farm too and had pigs, cows and chickens. During that time, they were probably considered rich. Dad and his brothers were mischievous. Some of my best memories are the times his brothers and him would tell the stories. They would laugh until they cried and of course we would laugh just as hard while listening. Those days are gone now. Two brothers are with the Lord, and it’s hard to tell the tales without his sidekicks. So I guess my Dad did have a rich childhood, and it had nothing to do with money.

Dad has always been a good provider. There was nothing he wouldn’t do to give his girls their hearts desires (that includes my Mom too!). After my Mom died a few years ago, Dad would call me every night. Before he said goodbye, his last words were to remember your Dad loves you very much. He still reminds me every now and then how much he loves me. He is a sweet, sweet man. I love him dearly.

You know the best thing about my Dad? He was a good reflection of Jesus and God the Father. If you see some of the same attributes in this posting, it’s not by accident. There isn’t a negative thought toward God when I think of Him as a Father. Dad was a good example of what it’s like to be God’s child. Provider, yes. Protector, always. Loves my unconditionally, oh yes! Mentor, Mediator, and Instructor. God the Father does it all for me. Jesus is my Rock and my Salvation as my Dad once was for me as a young child. Dad gave me the example early so that I could grasp the concept later. When I need advice, I go to my heavenly Father now. When I need assurance and a champion, Jesus is my man. When I want my heart’s desire, I look to God to provide as He wills.

Dad did his job. He raised me and my sisters to be women of God and disciples of Jesus. Dad shaped my character and helped hone my skills. Dad gave me all that I needed to live a good life. Dad, I love you! Thanks for loving me as you do. I thank God every day for such a good Dad. May God continually bless you richly for the rest of your life. See you soon!

Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth. Ephesians 6:1-3 (NLT)

Challenging Message

This week has been all about the challenge that I heard from two different messages – becoming more like Jesus. One of the greatest characteristics of Jesus was His love. He loved everyone – even the Pharisees, who were really difficult to love in my estimation. The underlying theme of the Bible is love. God so loved the world that He sent His Son (John 3:16). God so wanted people to have a relationship with Him from the very beginning that after the fall of man; God called a man, Abraham, out of a nation (Ur) to become a nation (Israel) so that through Abraham God’s Son would come. God’s plan in the very beginning of time was to walk with us – to have a relationship with His creation (us). That plan has never changed, but the fall of man changed how that could happen.

Dr. Tony Evans has a message series going right now called the Jesus Challenge, which looks at the churches found in Revelation. The first message was on the church at Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7). Jesus praised the church body found in Ephesus of all the good they were doing; however, there was one thing that Jesus found that needed to be corrected – they forgot their first love. They were doing everything right except they forgot to love God first and let everything flow from that love. They were busy doing but did not put God first. God is not a god of second place. God is first in everything. It is written in Exodus 20:5 that He is a jealous God and will not tolerate our affections for another god in our lives. He wants no competition for first place.

Well all of that is real easy to write or to say; but doing is a whole lot harder. I think the real problem in doing all that we are called to do – love everyone (even the difficult ones), put God first – is because we walk in the flesh and not in the spirit. Scripture tells us that when we become born again, we are born in the spirit. Since we are now born in the Spirit, the spirit should be in control of us. If Jesus’ Spirit who is just like Him lives in us, then Jesus should be living through us; which means that we should be able to love like He did. But why aren’t we doing it? Why are we not loving like we should? Because our flesh is in control and that’s just wrong as followers of Jesus.

Now you know why the challenge has fallen on me hard. This walking in the spirit as we are called to do is just hard when it should be the easiest thing for us to do. Just let Jesus control the wheel as someone once sang. But we all like control. Jesus is going to get all up in our business and clean out some things that we think is important to our lives. But if Jesus is in control, He is going to better our lives. We need to grasp that idea. It might be difficult to let go, but that’s okay, He’s got this! It would serve us well if we just let Him have His way in us.

When I got up on Sunday, I changed my routine. When I changed my routine, I missed my quiet time with my Lord. I completely forgot it. I did the same thing one morning while I was on vacation. It’s been a long time since that happened. Now I am questioning if my quiet time is just routine. It is just a routine that I do in the mornings, something I check off that I have done and fulfilled my obligation. But that’s not what God wants from us. Like the church at Ephesus, tradition and routine is not what God wants – He wants our hearts to be in it. He wants us to think of Him first, not as an obligation, but because He is our Daddy.

I know that may sound a bit childish to call Him Daddy, but that’s what we do here in the south – our loving fathers are daddies here. And we are told to come to Him like a child. Jesus called God the Father, Abba which means daddy. We are to have that childlike faith in Him. Believe He has the best for us and loves us unconditionally. If we don’t have good examples of a loving father, it may be hard for some of us to believe that about God. It’s not about the routine of joining Him in quiet time. It’s about the relationship with Him as our Daddy. Daddy is first and foremost. And His Son is to have control of our lives. Easy enough, right?

This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. 1 John 4:10-12 (NLT)

Promise Keeper

Last Thursday had a special end to it. The family was still at the beach. We had experienced cool, overcast, rainy weather for the better part of the week; not so good for suntan and children who want to play at the beach. But on Thursday evening about sunset, I looked out our sliding glass door and saw a small portion of a rainbow at the edge of the ocean. I wasn’t sure if I really saw it. So I went outside and called the others to see as well. As we stood there gazing out over the ocean, more of the rainbow was revealed.

Minute by minute the rainbow arched over the beach until the end landed on one of the houses just down the road from us. It was a full rainbow, and it was amazing to see. Phones came out up and down the coast to get some great pictures. The rain had finally ended, and we were in for a gorgeous day on Friday – our last day at the beach. And it was fabulous – a perfect day at the beach; we didn’t want it to end. But it did. However, on Friday night, there was another spectacular view from our beach front house. There was a full moon that rose upon the waters. It was a great ending to our vacation.

I love rainbows, don’t you? Rainbows help me to remember the convenient that God made after the flood. He told Noah that He would never again destroy the earth by flood. I know there is scientific knowledge of how rainbows form. I get that. Sun, rain particles, ta da; a rainbow appears. God made a promise. He is the promise keeper. We can trust His Word.

When I see a rainbow, I think of the story of Noah and his big boat. Rain had never fallen before that time. Noah looked foolish building that huge boat when there was not a raindrop in sight – for years. The times were also very evil. There were none who were righteous except Noah. The subtitle for Genesis chapter six is “A world gone wrong.” We find in Genesis 6: 5-6: The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart. But Noah found favor in God’s eyes.

God is always searching for those whose hearts are turned toward Him. He looks for the righteous to do His work. However, evil was not destroyed by the flood; it is still present today as we have witnessed in the last days. Evil hasn’t gone anywhere. I believe current events still break God’s heart. He desires all of humankind to look toward Him instead of doing what’s right in their own eyes.

There are still promises that God has stated in His Word that have yet to be fulfilled. We are told to watch the signs of the times to determine the events to come. I do believe the end is near. I don’t know when it will come; but because God said it, I believe it will happen. The times are evil. Men believe what they are doing is right. But just as the rainbow tells us as a written statement in the sky – God keeps His promise, and He will again bring judgment on this earth. He is also looking for the righteous to step up and do exactly what they are commanded to do; even if it’s to build a boat on dry land for this day and age.

I don’t know what the plan is for today’s building project. God is searching for those who are willing to look foolish to do things that are crazy according to today’s standard. Maybe our job isn’t to build but to tell the story of the building project that has already been accomplished through Jesus’ bridge for humanity. The bridge from us to God has been laid through the cross of Jesus. The cornerstone was His death and resurrection. The foundation is secure because of His promise that if we believe, we will have eternal life. The Body of Christ is being built through the story of Jesus. God made a way where there was no way. He made a promise in the very beginning and all humankind would be blessed through that promise.

The Body of Christ is God’s current rainbow – the Body should reflect the Son. His glory should be revealed for all to see through this current rainbow of color from every nation and every tribe. We are the product of what Jesus has done, but we are not complete. We still have time to do His work. He is showing us through signs and wonders across the globe that time is growing shorter, and we need to finish what has been started. He is watching and waiting. Let’s get out there and shine as we reflect the Son; His rainbow for His glory.

“But the exact day and hour? No one knows that, not even heaven’s angels, not even the Son. Only the Father knows.

“The Arrival of the Son of Man will take place in times like Noah’s. Before the great flood everyone was carrying on as usual, having a good time right up to the day Noah boarded the ark. They knew nothing—until the flood hit and swept everything away.” Matthew 24:36-39 (MSG)

Peace in Chaos

This week is the annual family beach trip. As I sit here typing away, children are squealing in delight. The television is blaring with cartoons. But I am in my happy place even if it’s chaotic. I love this place with the family under one roof. The youngest is under one year and the oldest – my Dad – closing in at 90 this month. The baby had a hard time adjusting to my Dad; I guess old just doesn’t come across well to the young. Anyway, family is very special to me. I love being with my nephew and their kids. The kids go strong from sun up to sun down; and I think the adults are a bit jealous to have some of that energy!

God blesses the young with the energy and the old with the dreams – the young can accomplish what the old no longer can manage. We pass the baton to the young and let them run the race. We can give guidance and instruction. But they have to pay attention to what we have to say. Many times, the young resent the boundaries we impose on them. Boundaries are there for protection. As the young grow more mature, the boundaries are adjusted to reflect their new maturity.

I think God gives us boundaries as well. We all need those protective boundaries. The ocean only goes so far. God set those boundaries at the beginning. Climate change is a big topic right now, but I believe God already allowed those boundaries to expand and contract through time. We are the ones who have built where we shouldn’t have built.

The beach where we stay is located on an island. At the point of the island, we can see across to the next island. The other island has houses built to the very tip. However, there is a multitude of sandbags lining the shore to protect the houses that were never meant to be there in the first place. The planners didn’t plan for the shifting sands to shift, but it has occurred just as God allowed from the beginning.

God knows the boundaries will be pushed. Culture resents the boundaries He established from the beginning. Those houses will be long gone in a few years; the sands on the island shifts as the tide flows. But we are to be ones who never shifts as the tide of culture shifts. Our foundation is on the rock of Jesus. Our foundation does not move according to culture change. Right now that is unacceptable. We might experience blow back from our narrow view. God, however, is not pleased when culture shifts away from Him.

As the people of God, we are not to judge but to love. God never gave us the right to judge others. That is His right. His Word tells us our right is to love as Jesus loved. It’s easy to love my family. They are a loving bunch. I think God gave us a picture of a family in order to show us where we stand with Him. He wants all of His children to get along. He wants His family to show love to others outside His family. God is all about adoption and would love to graft all the people of the world into His family.

As my family has grown over the years (with new people being grafted in), we have all had to make adjustments. But we live with the same rules when we come together. We have the same understanding. There may be chaos in our midst, but there is a peace that fills the room. Love is the undercurrent that never shifts from our foundations. Yes, there is discipline when someone breaks the rules. There is crying involved at least once a day. But at the end of the day, we know that love always prevails.

So it should be with God’s family. Our foundation is built on love. Chaos may happen all around us, but peace is always part of our DNA through Jesus; and love always prevails at the end of the day. God has allowed what is taking place today, but it’s never His will to let others dictate how we live. When we live by His rules and His boundaries, we are in a happy place. Our lives work better and the peace fills the room of our hearts. This is God’s way. His foundation never shifts, and we can stand on that promise. The beach is a good place to learn how to be in a loving family.

And may the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows. May he, as a result, make your hearts strong, blameless, and holy as you stand before God our Father when our Lord Jesus comes again with all his holy people. Amen. 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13 (NLT)

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