God

Everything’s Broken

Broken hearts, broken vows, broken promises, broken laws,

Everything is broken. Nothing works like it’s supposed to.

Washington’s broken. When Senators and Congressmen and women finally find time to show up for work and put together something they think will work. First thing you know it breaks.

Treaties are broken. Chords are broken. Dishes are broken. Rules are broken. Marriages are broken. Families are broken. Records are broken. Parties are divided and broken. Bones are broken. Bottles are broken. Lives are broken. Backs are broken. Homes are broken. Commandments are broken.

It’s what’s wrong with America today. Everything’s broken. Political correctness and tolerance are the standards for carrying on life in our broken, shattered society.

Almighty God has lots to say about all the brokenness we see and experience in our world today.

First of all, God is in charge of everything. Second of all God has a plan and a purpose for everyone He has ever created. And all the brokenness on the planet and hatred and rebellion and discrimination and racism and disobedience will throw God off His game. His plan has been unfolding for man since before the creation of the world. And His plan will continue exactly as He wills it.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:21

God

Picture of humility

Would you say you’re a humble person? Well DON’T! The minute you say you’re humble, it means you aren’t. Humble folks don’t toot their own horns. “But, Steve I help little old ladies across the street, I buy Girl Scout cookies then give them away to the poor, I do something kind for someone at least once a week. Listen to yourself, “I, I, I.”. That’s not humble, it’s self-serving. You wouldn’t know humility if it smacked you on the nose.

As I view our culture and social interaction today it becomes glaringly apparent to me that we have abandoned humility as an essential value of one’s character.

What a shame!

Paul writes in Philippians, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselvesnot looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

The bible gives us the most meaningful and possibly the greatest picture of humility ever.

Consider the mother of Jesus.

She was a teenager from Nazareth, a tiny little nondescript wide spot in the road that biblical scholars tell us couldn’t have been home to more than 200 folks or so. It was a place folks passed through never traveled to. Nathanael once remarked in John 1:46, “Can any good thing come from Nazareth?”

She was a virgin betrothed to an impoverished carpenter. The subject of relentless gossip in the town. She would be blessed as the mother of Jesus but cursed by the burden of her history for a lifetime.

When we meet Mary the angel Gabriel is bringing Mary a message,

The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God. 

Mary could have responded a number of ways, but she responded in true humility, a perfect picture of humility,

I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.1

The Lord’s servant! The word “servant” in this context is the lowest kind of servant (and the most humble.) The lowest kind of servant who would voluntarily sell themselves into slavery.

1Luke 1:28-38

God

What color was Adam and Eve’s skin?

Does it say what color it was in Genesis 2? No it doesn’t. Does God tell us what color it was later in the creation narrative? NOPE.

In fact, nowhere in the Bible do we find out what color their skin color. Do you know why?

IT DOESN’T MATTER?

God created ONE RACE–THE HUMAN RACE! And God created Adam and Eve and every other person who has ever been born and inhabited this planet. And He created every one of us in His image.

So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them. Genesis 1:26-27.

So, the next time a teenage driver cuts you off on the Interestate or your neighbor accidently mows down your freshly planted rose bushes, remember both those guys were created by God in his own image.

If you judge anybody with prejudice or discrimination or bigotry or racism you might as well commit murder. The Bible tells us that we break any part of the law we are guilty of breaking the whole law. It all dishonors God. You can’t live with love and prejudice in your heart at the same time. “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” James 2:101

Are you living with a prejudice of any kind against any person or against any group with a different skin color than you? Why do we even consider skin color anyway? If you are living with a prejudice against any one or group of people because of the color of their skin, do you think it might be a good idea to get alone with God and work on this ugly issue of prejudice?

1A devotional by Dr. James Merritt at Touching Lives Ministries was an inspiration for this blog post.

God

hypochristians

I used to work with a funny, friendly non-Christian who referred to church-goers as hypochristians (hypocrites who masquerade as Christians) According to my friend, “They call themselves Christians. They show up at church on Sunday morning acting all holier than thou after being out at the bars and nightclubs living it up on Saturday night.”

According to my friend, hypochristians talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.

For instance Bob says, “Syd is such a humble guy. Then Bob says to Fred, “Have you talked to Syd lately? All he talks about is teaching his Sunday school class and his job and how many sales awards he’s won.”

I might shock you here, but I agree with my friend to an extent. I believe the church has a bunch of hypocrites.

Jesus hated hypocrisy. He took the Pharisees and the church leaders to the woodshed over their pretense and hypocrisy. He had a special name for what he called that brood of vipers. He called them “whitewashed tombs” because all they were cared about or taught was how they looked on the outside. You get the imagery? They are clean and white and sparkly on the outside and dead and rotten and sinful on the inside. 

The word hypocrite comes from the same Latin root for “actor”–someone who would put on a mask in a play and pretend or act like another character.

“You get the imagery? They are clean and white and sparkly on the outside and dead and rotten on the inside. 

We’ll discover how to deal with hypocrasy and overcome it in an upcoming post.In the meantime ponder your answer to the question above.

God

Are you a believer? So what? Millions of people are.

John 3:16 says if you believe in Christ you won’t ever die and you’ll gain eternal life.

I imagine lots of “Christians” who claim to be believers are satisfied with their “believer” status.

After all, being a believer doesn’t have any requirements or expectations or challenges. You might go to a church and read your Bible and pray and tithe and usher once a month or keep the nursery. Things you want or like to do or think you should be doing as a believer (serving your own interests) as loyal believers to make you feel good and look good to others (hypocrites.) As long as you’re a believer you can live any lifestyle you want, and I’m sure many folks do–living life like they lived and acted (even after salvation)–unchanged, whatever feels good, do it. Self-oriented, not others-oriented. Living the status quo believers “Christian” life.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. before they were saved (even after salvation)–unchanged.

So, where does Jesus fit into this believer’s lifestyle, or does he.

Believing was important to Jesus. Jesus told his disciples in John 14, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.”

But believing in Jesus was the catalyst for his life changing invitation, “Follow me.” In Scripture more than100 times Jesus issues his invitation to “Follow me.” when he invited the disciples to follow him each of them followed Jesus immediately.

Following Jesus is not a “be” word it is a “do” word. God has a purpose for each of us.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10.

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23.

Jesus’ invitation to become an authentic disciple requires action: deny self, take up DAILY and follow.

Stepping Out

We’re often reluctant to step out in faith for things that sound challenging or tough or time consuming or personally costly. “I’m not qualified to do that”. “I can’t take off from work that long.” “We don’t have the money.” “You need to find someone else.” “I’m too old. “

Pushing through our excuses and inadequacies in order to say yes to God for the benefit of others grows our faith.1 When we are willing to step out in faith and follow Jesus to serve others NOT HAVING A CLUE WHERE GOD WILL TAKE US, OUR FAITH WILL GROW. And on the other side of our stepping out to serve others, no matter how large or small the service, we will see God’s faithfulness1

1A devotional by Andy Stanley entitled Faith Full was the inspiration for this post and the source for the quotes above.

God

The do-over–marriage therapy

My beautiful wife Marie and I don’t need marriage counseling. Marie and I have a wonderful marriage relationship.

In fact the pandemic has drawn us closer to each other. We have both said at times that our favorite thing to do is to spend time with each other. Despite our closeness, there are those rare occasions when we get off on the wrong track and drive the pickup towards the ditch.

It’s at those times (usually caused by bonehead things I say or do) that one of us asks “Can we have a do-over?” I don’t have a clue why that question is so effective. But it works for us every time. Neither of us has ever denied the other a do-ever when they asked for one. And the response is always calming and positive.

I think it works for us so well because we rarely have very serious arguments (And I can usually solve those relatively quickly with a consolatory, “Yes, Ma’am you’re right.”) Seriously the do-over works and we return to normal. Our Do-overs have helped us avoid problems that could otherwise evolve into much more serious arguments and marital conflict.

I have also learned an invaluable tool for the best way husbands can always avoid any conflict with his wife–GUARANTIED!

Guys, after everything she says, repeat this phrase, “You’re right.” or ” You’re absolutely right.” or “I wish I’d thought of that.”

God

Let’s lose weight

The number one resolution at the beginning of each year is to lose weight. Very few people are successful at it. One of the downsides of the pandemic has been the fact that people have been indoors, haven’t exercised, and have eaten a good bit more. America is heavier following the pandemic.

The weight we need to lose is measured in pounds, but some weights are more important than physical pounds. You will function better if you lose these five weights – get rid of them!

  1. Lose the weight of GUILT. Jeremiah said, “No amount of soap or lye can make you clean. You are stained with guilt that cannot be washed away.” (Jeremiah 10:22)

    The weight of guilt around the neck will drag you down and defeat you. It will wear you out. There is an answer to getting rid of guilt. John says, “If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong.” (1 John 1:9) This is the only way to get rid of guilt!
  2. Lose the weight of GREED. It is so easy in today’s culture to want to get more and more. In the early church, Peter said, “In their greed, they will make up clever lies to get hold of your money …they trained themselves to be greedy; they are doomed and cursed.” (2 Peter 2:3,14)

    The best way to get rid of greed is to give. One day, a young man came to Jesus and had become filthy rich. With it, came greed. He asked what he could do to follow Jesus, and Jesus said, “Go and sell all that you have and give the money to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven. Then, come follow me.” (Matthew 19:21) Giving neutralizes greed!
  3. Lose the weight of GRUMBLING. Too many people lose a balanced focus of life because they are always grumbling about what they don’t have instead of being grateful for what they do have. We grumble about a lot of things that other people are praying that they wish they could have!

    When is enough, enough? The size of your wage will never be enough. Jesus said, “And when they received their wages, they grumbled at the landowner.” (Matthew 20:11) Gratitude is a great replacement for grumbling!
  4. Lose the weight of GOSSIP. This weight is detrimental to you and those around you. Gossip will tear away your integrity and the credibility of another person. Stop and think before you say anything about anybody. If it’s not for their benefit, don’t say it!

    Solomon said, “A gossip tells secrets, so don’t hang around with someone who talks too much.” (Proverbs 20:19) James said, “The tongue is a small thing, but what enormous damage it can do…the tongue is a flame of fire, it can turn the entire course of your life into a blazing flame.” (James 3:5)
  5. Lose the weight of GRUDGES. Everybody has had somebody do something wrong to them. Grudges grow. A grudge tries to get back at someone – and all you do is harm yourself. Remember, “Never seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone, but love your neighbor as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18)

I have listed five weights that we need to lose. This is not something you do once and think it’s over. We have to do this every day. It’s easy to go on a physical diet and lose a lot of pounds, then put those pounds back on the next week. The weights suggested here should be taken off – and left off!

God

Shake your fist at God

Have you ever been so angry at God you wanted to shake your fist in his face?

Why don’t you? Go ahead. Some folks think God might get upset if you did something so disrespectful. Do you think God might say something like, “Gee, I didn’t know you felt that way.”

No, he won’t. God doesn’t mind if you contend with him if you get upset, even if you’re livid and red-faced angry.

“We prayed for you to to cure my wife of breast cancer but she died.”

“I was supposed to get a promotion but I got fired instead.”

“I got diagnosed with ALS.”

“I thought our finances were doing okay. Now it looks like we have to declare bankruptcy.”

He knew the words you were going to use, even the words that took God’s name in vain.

God was not surprised that you got so angry.

There’s a guy in the Bible who got over-the-top angry at God. The prophet Habakkuk, got plenty mad at God. Read his misery,

The prophecy that Habakkuk the prophet received.

How long, Lord, must I call for help,
    but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
    but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
    Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
    there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Therefore the law is paralyzed,
    and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
    so that justice is perverted.

He contends with God and let God know what makes him so angry.

He and God exchange words. Then in Habakkuk 3 the prophet lays out the worst case scenario:

17 Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.

19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.

If the entire economy of the people is destroyed, if there is nothing left. If all is gone and there are no resources. If the shelves at Walmart are bare, if Amazon’s website gets sabotaged, if nothing’s left, then read what Habakkuk does . . .

 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior

he Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.

Habakkuk will rejoice, praise the Lord. He will surrender his will to his Sovereign Lord.

For many of us our circumstances may be as dire as Habakkuk’s. No money, no work, mouths to feed with little or no food in the pantry, half-tank of gas in the car.

Would we rejoice in the Lord? Would we be joyful in the God of our salvation?

God

This forgiveness business

Quiz: What were the last three words Jesus uttered from the cross “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” 

“It is finished.” What was finished? The work God sent Jesus to do on earth.

One of the major things Jesus finished on the cross was to pay the price for mankind’s sin–all of it for everyone once and for all–the operative phrase here is “ONCE AND FOR ALL!

Some folks who call themselves “Christians” have problems with that forgiveness business believing Jesus’ forgiveness was really “once” and they’re really part of “ALL”

Some sin or sins from their past strap them in bondage to regret or shame or guilt. And they lug that baggage around with them all the time. At times the guilt or regret or shame rears its head and manifests itself in negative thinking or destructive behavior. They convince themselves its just part of who they are.

It is not now nor has it ever been part of who you are even if you’re not a child of God.

How do we know? The Bible tells us so.

When Christ died, he died for sin (every sin for all of mankind ) once and for all. Romans 6:10

Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. 1 Peter 3:18

He is the propitiation (gaining the favor of God) for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:2

Scripture tells us you could never have committed a sin or sins so terrible and disgusting that Jesus did not die for (and forgive) on the cross. It’s forgiven. Done. For good. You can stop asking or wondering if you’re forgiven. You are.

What is real forgiveness

God

Jesus loves me

and He loves you too.

Do you have one tiny iota of how much He loves you?

I don’t either. I know Jesus loves me more than I could ever fathom in a million years. And He will ALWAYS love me, YOU TOO.

Do something with me right now. Put your tablet, or your PC down. Go get a ladder and walk outside. Climb up to the highest point on your roof and sing in any key you want this song

P

God

The power of little things

Last week, I wrote about the danger of little things and how they can become destructive. Today, I want to look at the other side of that coin and show the constructive power of little things.

Little things can pack great power. It depends on whether we see them as problems or possibilities. One day, the disciples came to Jesus and told Him they had a huge problem. The people were hungry and there was nothing to eat. All they could see was a problem.

Jesus never saw a problem – He only saw possibilities! There were over 5,000 people there, but He was interested in a little boy who had a little lunch. The disciples thought he was foolish to take a little lunch and expect much. But little becomes a lot when God is in it! Jesus blessed the little lunch of five loaves and two fish and fed over 5,000 folks and had 12 basket loads leftover! (Matthew 14:13-21)

Look what God did through Gideon with a little army of 300 against thousands of the enemy. (Judges 7:2-24) Look at the big lesson Jesus taught us about the widow with one little coin. (Mark 12:41-44) Look what God did with one little shepherd boy, David, and one little rock against a giant. David had five rocks, but he only needed one! (1 Samuel 17:48-50)

Little things can produce great results. I remind you that there are only three pure colors, but look at what Michaelangelo did with those three colors. There are only seven notes, but look what Beethoven did with those seven notes. There are only ten mathematical digits, but look what Einstein did with them!

Don’t sell yourself short as being little and unimportant. God has a way of taking little things and producing big results. Problems become possibilities!

Robert Hill is a little boy who heard about Albert Schweitzer’s ministry in Africa. He decided to save his money to send medicine. He was able to buy one little  bottle of Aspirin and had it shipped to Africa. 

Robert’s dad was an army sergeant stationed in Italy. The radio station and newspaper heard about it and saw it as a great human interest story. They encouraged people to help Robert send medicine. Within a week, the Italian and French governments together flew Robert to Albert Schweitzer’s hospital in Africa, carrying with him medical supplies worth over $400,000!

Benjamin Franklin said, “Little strokes fell great oaks!” One person saw a spider web in a garden, and it became the inspiration for the suspension bridge. One person observed a tea kettle singing on the stove and had the idea of the steam engine. A lantern swinging in a tower produced the idea for a pendulum clock. One man watching apples fall to the ground discovered the law of gravity. Little things have huge consequences.

Little things pack power. One kind word – one affirming comment, one smile, one offer of a helping hand, one willingness to go a second mile with someone – these little things can make a big difference in the lives of people! If you take care of the little things – the big things will take care of themselves!

Discover the power and possibilities that God packs in little things!

God

The true Gospel message

By Ken Chester Guest author

“The first thing I did was place before you what was placed so emphatically before me: that the Messiah died for our sins, exactly as Scripture tells it; that he was buried; that he was raised from death on the third day, exactly as Scripture says…— 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 The Message
This message has stood every assault and attack for over 2000 years. God found you with these words: exactly as Scripture tells it. These same words changed lives then and still change lives today. The attacks will not let up. The assault on these words will increase and at times sound deafening. No matter, these words are meant to be worn on the inside and lived on the outside. The one who wrote these words tried his best to stamp them out. Instead, God stamped these words upon his heart and changed him into a word-spreader. You’ll find yourself coming alive as these words become the reality of how you are going to live. Jesus, Messiah, died for your sins (others too!), buried, raised on the third day. It’s never going to be an easy message to share. But when you do, you’ll find that God has already prepared the once hardened soil of another man’s heart. Are you letting these Scriptures be real in you today? It only takes a moment …

“He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.”

— Ephesians 2:10 The Message

God

Rule of 3

If you’re in the military or ever join the military every member of the branch, officer or enlisted member, or support personnel is required to memorize 2 numbers. They are appropriately part of what is referred to as the rule of 3. The rule of 3 is often a key to survival.

The two numbers are: 1.–98.6 and 2.–3

1. 98.6

98.6 is the ideal body temperature.

Maintaining the optimum healthy temperature keeps the body at its most efficient and operable condition.

Allowing our body temperature to get too low can be dangerous.

If the body temperature drops to 88 degrees seek medical attention right away.

If your body temperature falls to 82 degrees, call the family together and start picking out your favorite hymns for the service.

2. 3

  • You can survive 3 weeks without food
  • You can survive 3 days without drinkable water
  • You can survive 3 hours in a harsh environment (extreme heat or cold)
  • You can last 3 minutes without breathable air
  • You can only last 3 seconds without hope

The number 3 in Scripture

The number 3 is also an important element we find throughout Scripture. Here are just a few samples.

  • Father, Son and Holy Spirit
  • Three wise men
  • Jesus was in the grave three days
  • Three men were crucified on Calvary
  • Three parts of man (body, soul, spirit)
  • Justification, sanctification, glorification
  • Three gifts of the magi–frankincense, gold and myrrh
  • Jesus inner circle–Peter, James and John
  • three heavens
  • Peter disavowed Jesus three times
  • We have three of the same characteristics as God–a will, an intellect and emotions
  • Earth has three elements–sun, moon, stars

These are just a few examples of how significant the number 3 is in God’s Word. There are dozens more examples of how God’s number 3 influences the Gospel of Jesus Christ in both the Old and New Testaments.

God

Getting into heaven

I believe some folks who call themselves Christians are going to be sorely disappointed on the night they hear The Midnight Cry. https://youtu.be/GhF3nXw8kIo

A recent social survey claimed that 70% of Americans identify themselves as Christians. I don’t think Frank Sinatra made the cut. When he knocked on the Pearly Gates on May 14, 1988 I doubt (but don’t know) if he got in.

Sinatra was the poster child for independent living. In fact he immortalized the independent lifestyle in his signature song, “I did it my way.” Doing things his way was how he lived his whole life. Here’s just one verse of his song:

Yes, there were times I’m sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all, when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall and did it my way

I think lots of folks are living the independent lifestyle today like Sinatra did. And are still convinced they’re still going to heaven.

I know them. I see the choices they make. I see how they’re living. Some of them are well-to-do. Ask them what they think will happen to them when they die. They can’t give a clear answer or they tell you they’ll probably return to dust or they’ll probably just go to heaven like everyone else.

Some of them (and I know one) think that their religion can include psychics and fortune tellers and crystals and golden calfs and spirits (but not the Holy Spirit) and religious paraphernalia, and doctrines from other religions, rituals, and combinations of all manor of religious beliefs and customs. And the more they can stuff into their religion pouch the more religious they believe they are and believe that their performance and beliefs will punch their ticket to heaven.

Then we have those religious folks who believe the more they do for the Lord and for other people and read their Bibles 30 minutes a day and pray 15 minutes every day and go to church at least two Sundays a month and tithe and try to be a good Christian they’ll be accepted by God and get their ticket punched to get into heaven.

We can’t get to heaven by works, because God doesn’t pick favorites. To be accepted into heaven you must admit you’re a sinner, ask for forgiveness, admit that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and rose again, and ask Him to have a relationship with you. 

You have to have a personal relationship with Jesus

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

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

God

No door needed

When you open a door to walk into a crowded room what do you usually do first? Scan the crowd to see who all’s there? Look for folks you ? Immediately begin speaking? Start singing? Tell a joke? Introduce yourself?

Well, on the first day of the week after the resurrection of Christ Jesus wanted to get with his disciples so they could see that he was alive, like he said he would be. The only problem was the disciples weren’t around. They were locked in the upper room hiding from the Jewish leaders. The disciples were fearing the Jewish leaders would be gunning for them now that they thought they’d crucified their head honcho.

All of a sudden Jesus stood among them in their midst. He just appeared. He didn’t knock on the door. He didn’t open the door. He didn’t call to them to let him in. He just appeared in their midst. He didn’t need a door to go through. He just showed up.

And what were the first words out of his mouth? Not, “Hey, guys, how ya doin? or “See, fellas, I’m alive now. My Father raised me from the dead. Isn’t that cool?”

No. What Jesus said to his disciples the very first time they laid eyes on him since his resurrection was much more profound and meaningful to them.

He said “Peace be with you.” After all the drama and uncertainty and lingering doubts his disciples had faced, at that critical moment in their journey, they needed comfort more than anything else. And it came to them directly from the lips of the Creator of the Universe.

“Peace be with you!”

They were being prepared to embark on their missions to take the Gospel message Jesus had taught them to the world.

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.

And when they went they would be traveling with the peace of God.

God

Letter to a mother considering having an abortion


By Bryan Daniels

Reprinted with permission from the author

bryan daniels

The following is a letter from a mother to a mother considering abortion. The recipient of the letter has recently found out that her unborn child has a degenerative genetic kidney/liver condition. The thoughts outlined here are similar to the post I wrote a while back about the 1.2 million unborn Caylee Anthony’s who die each year in America.

Many pro-choicers claim no man should have an opinion on abortion since it only affects a woman and her body (I don’t really agree with that). Many would add that no one should have an opinion unless they have had to raise a child with a genetic disorder that causes lifelong suffering (I don’t agree with that either). BUT here is a woman who exceeds both qualifications. I’ll let her eloquent appeal speak for itself:

E,

I am so sorry that you received this news. Please know there are hundreds around you who have been in this same or a very similar position. We know the pain that facing this decision brings you. Many others before you have followed the advice of doctors, family, and friends to terminate such a pregnancy. I understand that the decision they make is almost always out of the highest love for their child and a desire to prevent suffering. I want to be very sensitive to that, but to also encourage you to look from a different point of view.

It seems to be a foregone conclusion in our culture that preventing suffering is the highest goal, but I think we lose sight of the fact that sometimes in our lives the greatest blessings come to us after we have gone through the greatest suffering. I was advised to terminate with two of my ARPKD daughters after their 20 week ultrasounds. The following weeks, months, and years have been difficult and even terrifying, but I am so glad that I did not follow my doctors’ advice. Yes, my daughters have suffered to some degree (though I know not as much as many other ARPKD kids do), but their pain and tears have grown them into strong little girls who do not take life or health for granted, and who know how to be thankful for the little things in life. They are more mature, more wise, more grateful, more loving, than so many other children their age who have always had “perfect” lives.

Children with special needs have a way of blessing and inspiring those around them too, in a way that healthy children never could. I know greater suffering probably lies ahead for our girls as we face esophageal bleeds and organ transplantation, but we have talked these things through with our oldest, and if my seven year old daughter can face these things with courage, then perhaps she doesn’t need to be shielded from the suffering, but only equipped to walk through it. Someday my girls will take the faith and the strength that they learned from their sufferings and use it to inspire and bless all those around them. It would have been great loss for all who know them to have ended their lives early.

I know that this is one of the most sensitive and personal topics. I pray that I do not sound judgmental in any way. I only mean to offer hope.

With love,

K.E.

I am thankful for the composed thoughtful response of this mother.

But I don’t comprehend how values have gotten so twisted in our culture; Let’s try to explain this abortion reasoning to the unborn child: “

Since when was murder no longer an extreme form of suffering?

God

I was at the resurrectiom

I was at the resurrection of Jesus. I was there.  Really.

angell
Jesus

I saw Mary Magdalene, Mary and Salome come to Jesus’ grave and discover He wasn’t there. Really. I did.

I saw the shock and fear; then I saw their joy and celebration.

I promise.

I saw Peter and the others dashing up the path. They looked inside in disbelief. I watched them ran away from the tomb and disappear into the dawn.

For four years I played roles in the Atlanta Passion Play. The play drew thousands of people to Atlanta during its three-weekend, 12-performance, 35-year run. One year I was cast as an angel in white at the empty tomb on Resurrection Sunday.  I saw everything.  The lines I spoke still give me chills years later. “Don’t be afraid.” I said. “Why are you looking for Jesus? He is not here.  He is risen. Just like He said He would.  Come see for yourselves. Now go tell Peter and the disciples.”

“Jesus is risen,” I announced it to the first visitors to the tomb. How blessed I was to have been there.  How fortunate that they chose me to speak those lines and impact those audiences and call attention to the resurrection in that way

I felt like I was really there. It was real to me. That scene in the performance made the Resurrection come alive for me as never before. And I’ll never think about the Resurrection the same again.

God

Do we know Jesus?

Oh, we know a few scriptures from the bible. We pray and give, and attend bible study now and again. We know about forgiveness We’re saved. We’re going to heaven. We help people in need. We know Jesus died on the cross to save us and cleanse us from all our sins. We know who Jesus is. But do we know Jesus? Are we surrendered to Him. Are we His?

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42.

You see sister Mary knew Jesus. While Martha was fretting over trivial, worldly things Mary was soaking up every word Jesus was saying. She was willing to surrender herself in humble service to the man she knew as her Master. The disciples were still trying to figure out who the number two Jesus disciple would be in His Kingdom.

God

Grave mistake

It was a grave mistake. Jesus had upset religious and non-religious people. They were determined to put an end to his movement. After an unjust trial, they crucified him on a hill called Golgotha, then thought it was over when they put His body in a borrowed grave.

But that’s a grave mistake! Jesus didn’t come into the world to wind up in a grave. He didn’t die on the cross saying, “I am finished.” He said, “It is finished.” He knew He wasn’t finished – He was just beginning!

The grave was a temporary residence for Jesus. After three days, He came out and appeared alive to hundreds of people and then ascended to God, His Father. Read I Corinthians 15 and 16.

It’s a grave mistake to think that a grave is the end. That’s merely where a body is placed. The soul of man continues to live forever. Each person chooses his/her destiny for eternity –  either in the presence of God or in the absence of God. The Bible calls the alternatives heaven or hell. It’s a grave mistake to think you can change your choice in the grave!

In Pisa, Italy, there is a very interesting cemetery. Years ago, shiploads of soil were brought in from the Holy Land so that people could be buried in that soil. They thought it would be more helpful for their salvation than reciting Masses or lighting candles. Grave mistake!

Winston Churchill planned his own funeral in St. Paul’s Cathedral with stately hymns and impressive liturgy. He also arranged for what would happen after the benediction. He had a bugler high in the dome of the church to play “Taps,” a universal signal that the day is over and ended. But then he had another bugler play “Reveille,” the sign of the beginning of a new day. “Taps” is goodnight down here – “Reveille” is good morning up there!

Henri Nouwen wrote, “What seemed to be the end proved to be the beginning; what seemed to be a cause for fear proved to be a cause for courage; what seemed to be defeat proved to be victory; and what seemed to be the basis for despair proved to be the basis for hope. Suddenly a wall becomes a gate.”

Easter is not about the mystery of death, but the miracle of eternal life; it’s not about the Easter bunny, but the Perfect Lamb; it’s not about the golden egg, but about the streets of gold; it’s not about who might be right, but who is right!

It doesn’t matter where your body is buried, or if it’s buried at all. What matters is where your soul goes when you die. Being buried in a cathedral or expensive soil from the Holy Land or any other place doesn’t really matter in the long run – eternity is the longest run! Don’t make the grave mistake of prioritizing the grave!

A retired lady named Dee Parrish lived in Florida. She had a terminal illness. Due to volunteers from her church, she remained at home during her last days. Church people brought recordings of old hymns. Dee was listening to the hymn, “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder” when she died. Everybody just knew that when the roll was called up yonder, Dee answered, “Present!”

How will you answer?

God

Things could be worse

problems

I carried around two stents and a catheter in my kidneys for five days. I had them removed at the VA recently. Those five days were the most uncomfortable, agonizing days ever.

Waiting in line to check in at the VA a man in a wheelchair next to me called attention to the bag strapped to my leg. He showed me the bag he was wearing. I told him I’d been wearing a catheter for five days and was eager to have it removed.

He told me he’d been wearing a catheter for four-and-a-half years. They had to remove it and install another one every three months. On top of that he was also waging a battle against cancer.

My problems paled in comparison to this vet’s trials. I felt ashamed for all the griping and complaining I’d been doing about my problems.

I take myself too seriously many times. I wallow in self-pity and engage in trivial grumbling. I like to make insurmountable, hopeless obstacles out of petty grievances.

This vet knocked me down a few notches. A glitch in hospital protocol caused an extra stop where I met the man in the wheelchair. God arranged that glitch and encounter to teach me something about humility. I was focused on me and my petty trial and discomfort. Not others. Not God.

In humility consider others better than yourselves, and . . .do not merely look to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.. . but do all things without grumbling or complaining.

God

Grape Expectations

Jesus’ last lesson for His disciples was about — grapes.

Jesus had high expectations that His disciples would understand their responsibility to continue His ministry. On His way to the Garden of Gethsemane He explained how they could succeed in the mission He had given them by teaching them about grapes.

Use your imagination with me for a minute.  Let’s put ourselves right in the crowd with Jesus and His disciples on their last night together.

I first

They ate the Passover meal together in an upper room. During the meal Jesus comforted them by giving them His peace and assuring them that everything would be all right. Look at the last verse of John, 14:31 …”but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded me. Get up let us go from here.”

“Get up let’s go from here.” — The very next verse: John 15:1, Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine dresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes so that it may bear more fruit.” Then in verse 4-5 Jesus says, “Abide in Me and I in you. As the branch can not bear fruit on itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me bears must fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

branches

I can imagine that between John 14:31 and 15:1 they have left the upper room and are heading towards the Garden of Gethsemane together. Somewhere along the line Jesus stops at a grape vine, picks up a cluster of grapes and teach His disciples their last (and maybe most important) lesson while He’s still with them.  “I am the vine, you are the branches.”

We are branches. We produce nothing. We do nothing. All Jesus asked us to do is abide. Abide in Him. His life (the life in the vine) flows through us. He is our life. He doesn’t ask us to do anything but abide.  If we abide in Him (and He in us), we’re going to bear baskets full of fruit season after season.

But He said “apart from me (if you try to do things for His glory on your own, relying on your resources and your plans and your brains and efforts) all your hard work to be good for God will be in vain. We can do nothing. Nothing we do on our own will bear fruit or bring glory to God. Only what Jesus produces in us, through us and as us.

All He asks us to do is abide.  Just abide. Remain in Him. Trust Him. Depend on Him. Surrender to Him. Day by day. Moment by moment. And our fruit baskets will fill and overflow.

God

What we all want most

When I was growing up in my little hometown of Shenandoah, Iowa the place was running over with kids. Spring and summer were playground city–baseball, hide and seek, kick the can, king of the hill, red rover red rover, fireworks, swimming, sleepovers, whiffle ball, sleeping in the tent in the back yard–you name it we played it.

Baseball was our favorite. We had so many kids in two or three neighborhoods we could pick two captains and choose sides.

Wherever we played we all hoped we could avoid being picked last. Being picked last or even next to last was the kiss of death. It made us feel rejected or unaccepted.

we learned in those elementary years that acceptance was the thing we all craved more than anything else.

That desire for acceptance followed us into adulthood. Isn’t that desire to be accepted still with us. Whether it’s a spouse, or work associates, or golfing buddies, or employer, or employees, or neighbors, or church family, or Bible study group, or extended family, or in-laws.

One of the most precious feelings we can experience in life is the sense of belonging–the idea that we’re accepted. Tell me I’m wrong.

Some Christians can’t wrap their heads around the concept of being accepted by God. “He doesn’t mean me,” they say. “He doesn’t know all the things I’ve done.” (Oh yes He does.) “I’m not good enough.”

Just think about this for a minute:

  • God chose you before the foundation of the world. Not some NFL quarterback or insurance salesman from Omaha. YOU! He chose YOU!
  • God called you
  • God loves you
  • God saved you
  • God placed you in Christ
  • God adopted you into his own family

I think we can say without a shadow of a doubt that God accepts you and me and every saint just like we are.1

1A message by Dr. James Merritt, Touching Lives Ministries Atlanta, Georgia was the inspiration for this blog post.

God

Stop praying for patience

If you’re anything like me you’ve probably worn God out asking him to give you patience. Well you can stop asking. You don’t need God to give you patience. You already have all Gods patience you will ever need. How about some self-control? Do you need a little of that? Could you be a little kinder? You’ve already got all the kindness and self-control you’ll ever need.

How do I know? Read what Paul says to The Ephesians, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Ephesians 1:3 How man blessings? EVERY spiritual blessing.

What do we do with the blessings we receive down here on earth? We amass them. But all our worldly blessings are temporal. We’ll either use them up or leave them behind. We won’t take them with us. But every spiritual blessing is eternal. We can never run out of God’s supply.

And where do we find these spiritual blessings? In Christ. Who is in Christ? Whoever believes in him and has claimed Him as Savior.

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 NIV

You will never lack for any provision from God as long as you are in Christ.

It’s okay to ask God for blessings, Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And 1st Thessalonians 5:16-18 encourages us to pray always. “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Praying for stuff is a good thing. And remember, all we have to do is ask God for the blessings He already has and is willing to provide all the blessings you need from His eternal, limitless supply. And He will.

know?

God

3 ways we can heal

If we suffer a serious illness we can experience healing in three ways:

  • We can be healed from a medical issue such as a heart condition and seek healing from modern medicine
  • We can be healed by prayer
  • We can experience the healing power of Almighty God

 “Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise.” — Jeremiah 17:14

When I think of all the advancements they’ve made in modern medicine these days it makes me dizzy. And the wonder of it all is that the advances just keep coming.

Modern medicine

I am fortunate to have been healed of a significant heart condition in January 2011. I had open heart surgery. I will forever be grateful for the skills and medical expertise of Dr. Lance Freidland, my cardiologist who performed the surgery at St. Josephs Hospital in Atlanta.

The operation turned out to be more complex than they figured. They had to stop my heart for 18 minutes to implant a new aortic valve. (They stopped my heart for 18 minutes and replaced a damaged aorta. So they gave me a whole new aorta and a new pig valve. My heart is fine today except for my craving for bacon.

Prayer

A 13-year-old seventh grade girl named Laurie taught me about the healing power of prayer.

I taught 7th grade English in Montgomery, Alabama public schools for several years. One of my students told me doctors told her she had a small growth on her eardrum. She told me the doctors weren’t concerned about it but they wanted to observe it, as it might go away on its own. I told her I would pray for her. Her family and her church family would pray too. I soon found out that hundreds of folks were praying for her across Montgomery and the state.

The tumor grew and soon enveloped her entire eardrum. Doctors made arrangements for her to have surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. The family had to drive to the clinic because the doctors said flying could easily do more damage to her eardrum or possibly even be fatal.

They arrived at the clinic in Rochester and were preparing for this extremely complex surgery. The team of surgeons laid Laurie on an exam table. The doctors looked in Laurie’s ear.

They could not see any cancerous tumor in her ear at all. Not only could they not see any cancer or tumor, they didn’t see any evidence that a tumor had ever been there.

The doctors and attendings and staff were dumbfounded, They could not explain the phenonium.

I can. Can’t you?

By the way this story is absolutely 100% TRUE You can call it whatever you choose to believe about the story.

I call it simply “The power of God to heal”

Almighty God

God can heal anyone of any sickness or disease anywhere any time any way He chooses. It will be His choice, His method His way and in His perfect timing.

My mom was a 2-time survivor of breast cancer. The cancer returned a third time in late 2004. This time the lung cancer metastasized to her brain She and my dad spent their last days in a nursing home in our hometown, Shenandoah, Iowa. One day when I was visiting her she asked me if I would pray with her. You can’t imagine how sweet it is to have your dying mother ask you to pray with (not for) her.

When we prayed I asked God to heal her. I asked God to heal her physically completely or by taking her to heal her completely by taking her home to be with Him forever. He answered my prayer and healed her completely on March 12, 2005.

She is with Jesus now, having the time of her eternal life, waiting for the rest of our family to gather together with her and the Lord. She has no cancer–she never will. Se will never even catch a cold again. She won’t ever cry, or be lonely, tired, hungry, upset, cold, want for anything, She will be filled with joy forever.

God healed her the best way He could and better than the best medicine or prayer ever could down here on earth

God

Grace + ?

What does it take to receive God’s grace when we really really need some?

Grace +___?____ fill in the blank

  • ___obedience
  • ___surrender
  • ___repentance
  • ___gratitude
  • ___sacrifice
  • ___prayer
  • ___asking for it
  • ___serving
  • ___worship
  • ___favor
  • ___other

In fact, if you chose any one or more of the choices from the list above you’d be wrong.

You can’t get grace. You can’t barter for it. You can’t do anything to persuade God to give you one bit of grace. You can’t get any by praying for grace, but you can ask God for it.. You may not even recognize grace when you get it. You don’t deserve any grace. You can’t share grace with someone else. Why would you even ask for any grace. You don’t even deserve it any way. You can not work or serve in the church to earn grace. Grace is just unattainable on your own. Left to your own devices you’ll never lay hold of grace.

Grace is “the love and mercy given to us by God because God desires us to have it, not necessarily because of anything we have done to earn it”. It is not a created substance of any kind. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life,”1

God bestows His grace on anyone he chooses, as much as He wants, as often as He wants. He can even choose to give His grace to unsaved sinners or wicked people if he chooses. In Western Christian theology, grace is “the love and mercy given to us by God because God desires us to have it, not necessarily because of anything we have done to earn it”. It is not a created substance of any kind. … It is an attribute of God that is most manifest in the salvation of sinners.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

1 Wikipedia