The thing about corn

I grew up in Shenandoah, a small farming town in Southwest Iowa,

35 miles from Nebraska and 13 miles from Missouri. Corn is the primary agricultural crop in the state.

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Our afflictions

I have refined you, though not as silver;
    I have tested you in the furnace of affliction
. Isaiah 48:10

Raise your hand if you like afflictions

Nobody. Right? Well guess what? Afflictions are good for us. So are trials and tribulations and struggles. Before you click off my blog and tell me I’m crazy. . .

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The main thing

The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing!

If you’re anything like me lots of times we get distracted by things we consider real important. For instance every Saturday in the Fall you’ll find me parked in front of the TV from noon till well into the night watching college football ( the SEC and of course Alabama). For several hours I slip into an activity that becomes the main thing in my life.

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Starry starry night

I live outside Atlanta. We live with an abundance of light pollution. So much so that we can only see a handful of stars in our sky most nights.

But if you lived in Death Valley California, one of the darkest cities in the U.S., your night sky will resemble the picture above, because Death Valley has virtually no light pollution. Behind the stars in the picture are billions more stars even further out in the universe that we can’t see..

Our sun is like a star. It is a paltry 93 million miles from earth. The nearest star to earth is Alpha Centauri. It is 4.3 million light years from Earth. Light travel at a rate of approximately 186,000 miles a second. Light travels about 5.8 trillion miles in one earth year. Do the math.

This picture is from the Whirlpool galaxy. It is 31million light years away.

To me it is God’s reminder to us that Christ is all and in all. He gave his life to give us His life.

I imagine that the white shading around the cross is more space, more universe, more stars, more creation beyond what we can’t see or imagine–more of God continuing to create His universe for us.

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Idols

My wife had one of her keen observations the other day during one our frequent discussions about the pandemic and the state of our nation. “What if God is working in this pandemic to tear down our idols?”

“What a thought,” I said. I suppose that may be what’s going on,” I said.

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Without Love

The Doobie Brothers recorded a song in 1973 called “Long Train Runnin”. One of the lyrics in the song is “Without Love, where would you be right now?” Think of all the things, places and people in our lives to which we ascribe love.

That lyric begs the question, “Without love where would we be right now?

Imagine for a moment marriages without love. Think of all the people places and things to which we ascribe some form of what we believe is love.

I love my wife with compassionate, unconditional devoted love. I love my children. I love to listen to Gospel music. I love rock and roll. I love fried chicken and corn on the cob.

I love pizza, I love chicken salad. I love to watch college football, I love our church family, I love chocolate. I could go and on about the things in my life to which I attach the emotion of love.

It is a worldly misconception that love means different things to different people.

ALL love of every kind, for any person, place or thing comes from God in the person of Jesus Christ. There is no other source. There is no other definition or meaning.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

James 1:17

God is the creator and source for all love.

Good Christians are a myth

There is no such thing as a “good” Christian.


Lots of folks who want to improve their lives (e.g. to be accepted by God, to get closer to God, to be loved more by God,  to gain God’s favor and blessing) try real hard to be a good Christian. The operative word here is “try“.

But “good” Christians don’t exist.In addition, if someone is declared a ” Good”  Christian  that means somewhere there has to be a bad Christian and a superior Christian and a poor Christian. Do you see the judgmental comparison trap we’d get ourselves into?

The moment we “try” to improve our lot as a “Christian” we take the focus off God and place it squarely on our self effort. That’s called living in the flesh. It is contradictory to walking in the Spirit and has nothing to do with following Christ or honoring God

In God’s Kingdom what we do on our own doesn’t count for anything.  The only thing that counts in God’s Kingdom is surrender to Christ’s life allowing him to live His life through us. Christ wants to live His life (not ours) in us, through us, and as us to bring Glory to God. Period.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remains in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5.

 

Jesus is for the birds

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than them? Matthew 6:26

With the corona virus sweeping across the globe like an out-of-control California wildfire, there’s sure a lot of anxiety going around that translates into fear and worry. In fact anxiety is one of the most searched terms on Google today.  When you Google anxiety today  you will get 425 million hits.

People are worried.

Yet Jesus warns us not to worry more times than any other warning he gives even sin.

So why do we worry so much? You’re asking me?  I’m on the first team of worriers. If worry were a wart I’d be covered.

Jesus gave us a very good example of how we’re supposed to handle worry. ” Look at the birds of the air” he says.  In other words  let’s look at them. Let’s observe them and see how they go about their business. They don’t plant anything,  they don’t harvest anything and they don’t store food somewhere to eat later in lean times or harsh weather.

In fact birds don’t have  lean times or harsh weather   Whenever they get hungry they fly into the tree branches  or onto the ground and eat their fill of whatever food God has provided for them that day. When they’ve had their fill they fly away and do whatever birds do.  Not once do they worry that their food won’t be there or that there will be enough to satisfy them. Pretty nice liife.

 I believe the answer to most questions and the solutions to most quandries and trials in life boil down to how we answer one question–Are we going to believe and act on what Jesus tells us or not?

Everything will be OK

Of course everything will be OK

Almighty God is in control of EVERYthing

Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power
    and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
    for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;
    you are exalted as head over all.
12 Wealth and honor come from you;
    you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power
    to exalt and give strength to all.
13 Now, our God, we give you thanks,
    and praise your glorious name.

Self is a four-letter word

When we use, or you hear someone use the word “try” that means “self” is vying for control. Self is

assuming responsibility. Super responsibility. That’s not a good thing.

Self tries to live the Christian life. Self does good Christian work. Self loves to chair committees. Self likes to volunteer in the food pantry and the clothes closet.  Self loves to teach Bible Study. Self lives to volunteer. Self never says no. Self is “self” confident. Self likes to think it’s “self-sufficient”.

Self likes to play leader. Self becomes arrogant when someone has a better idea than self.  Self thinks it knows best. Self worries. Self gets full of self. Self stands up for self’s rights. Self knows how to do things right around its church. Self pouts when it doesn’t get its own way. Self is unyielding in its attitudes towards others. Self looks for greener grass. Self seeks greatness and  notoriety for its achievements and holiness. Self is judgmental. Self is self-conscious. Self takes even constructive criticism personally. Self likes to be right. But self is humble. If you don’t believe it ask self.

Self is such a failure.

Self needs breaking. As long as self seeks to be in control God can do little in self or through self. But self can not break its will to God’s will. It has to be a sanctifying work of God and God alone. Coming to the end of self is a life-long journey coming to the ultimate realization that “self” is not as smart or wise as “self” thinks.

Paul said in Philippians,

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4

Those verses are tough pills for self to swallow. And it’s only by the sanctifying work of Christ living in us that we can ever get to the end of self.

Jesus said in Luke 9:23

If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.

 That’s the end of self. The end of you. The end of me.

Put your helmet on

Come on folks it’s time to get serious. 

We are in a war

We’re not at war in Afghanistan, not Iran, not Syria, We’re in a battle between our ears for our hearts and thought life.  It’s a battle for our culture, for our families, our communities and for our spiritual lives. I believe there’s probably a whole bunch of believers who don’t give Satan ort spiritual warfare  a second thought. Satan and Evil and sin don’t concern them. If there’s spiritual warfare going on they’d rather just put it out of their minds all together. They would rather sit on their complacent, worldly self-indulgent back sides and warm up their pews every Sunday.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

When is the last time you pleaded with Satan to flee from your presence? When’s the last genuine “Come-to Jesus “ meeting you had with yourself or a close friend about it? When is the last time a trial befell you and you knew it was Satan? When did you last sin or when was the last time you were disobedient? Did you talk with a close friend or your pastor about it? When did you last talk about Satan with friends?”

 Here’s a question: Do you think we talk about Satan too much or too little?

 Do you think we are at war spiritually or do you think that’s just a bunch of Biblical mumbo jumbo nonsense and you don’t want to be troubles with it at all.

Whether you thought about Satan today or haven’t thought about him in years, he’s thinking about us every moment looking for someone to devour–to kill, discourage or ruin their day. Every time Satan tells you a lie and you believe him, he’s had a good day.

I believe there’s probably a whole bunch of believers who don’t give Satan or spiritual warfare  a second thought. Satan and Evil and sin don’t concern them. If there’s spiritual warfare going on they’d rather just put it out of their minds all together. They would rather sit on their complacent, worldly self-indulgent back sides and warm up a pew every Sunday.

Howard Beale got mad enough  to go to war.    In the 1975 classic movie Network Howard let everyone know how he felt in his radio audience when he shouted into his mike, ” I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”

Are you mad enough to go to war? Then strap your helmet on. It’s time. Or would you rather sit on your complacent, worldly self-indulgent back sides and warm up a pew every Sunday.

Maybe he’s not even paying attention too many Christian who are afraid to go to war.l lives. We’ve got to get off of our complacent, worldly, self-loving rears and go to war to preserve the Gospel that saved us and gave us new life.

When is the last time you cursed him for messing with you?  When is the last time you  commanded him to flee from you? When is the last time you thought about Satan? Thought about Evil? Thought about your own disobedience?  When’s the last time you thought about sin? Yours or someone else’s.

Whether you thought about Satan today or haven’t thought about him in years  he’s thinking about us every waking moment looking for somebody to destroy  or just discourage someone or ruin someone’s day or just get them off their game.

I would venture a guess that he’s not paying attention to lots of Christians who are afraid to go to war and prefer to sit on their complacent, worldly, self-loving rears and let other folks go to war.

Empowering

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  2 Corinthians 12:9

If you watch much TV you discover there is a  vitamin,  a cream, a lotion, a diet,  a pill,  a vacation spot, or a breakfast cereal  that  will empower you and bring you happiness and good health and long life all for only $19.95.

Lately I’ve noticed that some of these products promise you they’ll empower you to face and conquer life’s challenges and become the successful person you’ve always wanted to be.

Bunk

How gullible some of us are to believe that there’s power in a pill or breakfast cereal. Or that we will be empowered  to leap tall buildings in a single bound if we brush with a certain brand of empowering toothpaste.

We are woefully misguided if any of us believes he or she has the ability to generate any power on our own.  Many of us rely on our own resources to generate self power, which  is not real power. If we rely on our flesh to produce power, we will surely fail and become frustrated.

 The only Power that is beneficial or  helpful to us is the power that comes from God. That power  resides in the life of Jesus Christ. If we believe in Jesus as our Savior we reside in him. To access his awesome power we must become weak and surrender our flesh to him. The weaker we become the more power becomes available to us through Christ..

Horoscope Hijinks

What’s your sign, man?

Horoscopes used to play an important role in my relationships–especially with women.. This was during my prodigal son romp through my recently divorced mid-life wilderness. 

When I became interested in a woman, the first place I went was Linda Goodman’s book Sun Signs to see if the woman and I would be horoscopicly (my word) compatible.If our signs didn’t cross and our stars didn’t align I was history. No way was I going to spend time, energy or money  on a horoscopic misfit.  

 It took me almost a decade and some serious Bible study and a boatload of God’s grace to figure out that I was born under a very different sign.  It read, ‘”Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”

And I was adopted that moment by my Heavenly Father and became a son of God with all the riches in glory through my Savior, Jesus

Later it was hard to believe but for several years I looked to Satan’s lies in those horoscopes. That I would allow something Satan authored to help me make life choices and influence  some of my  personal relationships with so much Satanic bunk.

“So do not listen to your prophets, your diviners, your dreamers, your fortune-tellers, or your sorcerers, who are saying to you, ‘You shall not serve the king of Babylon.’ For it is a lie that they are prophesying to you, with the result that you will be removed far from your land, and I will drive you out, and you will perish.”.  Jeremiah 27:9-10

“If a person turns to mediums and necromancers, whoring after them, I will set my face against that person and will cut him off from among his people .Leviticus 20:6.

I don’t think any serious believerr and disciple of Jesus Christ can justify astrology or horoscopes. Dare I say, you can’t believe in or follow Jesus authentically and follow astrology at the same time? I have known people claiming to be believers who check their horoscope in the morning paper religiously.  they read their horoscopes more religiously than they read their Bibles.

 If you are reading horoscopes now or relying on astrology to influence you at all let me encourage you do a word study on astrology. Find out what God’s word says. God’s word is truth. Horoscopes and astrology are both based on lies straight from the pit of hell.

For His Glory blog is coming back

For HIS Glory two-dot-oh (2.0) is back in the blogosphere.  Beginning January 6th you will see posts  appearing 3 times a week. We will also feature blog posts from pastor John Ed Mathison. 

 I am excited about my return,  and getting back with all my blogging friends and followers again.

 In case  you’re wondering where I’ve been the last two years I’ve been recovering from a hemorrhagic stroke I suffered on February 3rd 2017. I get around now in a wheelchair  and a hemi walker.  

 But I found this awesome voice-to-text app that lets me dictate the content and the app converts my speech to text. How cool is that? So if you’re not busy or otherwise not occupied on January 6  stop by and check out my For His Glory blog for some refreshing encouragement from our awesome heavenly Father. 

God has me right where he wants me  and I’m eager  to share all that he shares with me with all my friends and bloggers and followers in the blogosphere.

She learned trust in the pool

She was five. Already brave and outgoing. And, like her dad, a type A who never met a stranger.  But she tip-toed around water.  She was okay walking around in the shallow end wearing her swimmies. Those kept her head above water.

I thought it was time she lost her fear of the water.  We moved down to the waist-high area of the pool.  I stood in the water a few feet from the edge.

“Jump in, Leah,” I said.

She would have no part of it. She stood on the bank with one of those 5-year-old “No, I’m not going to” defiant objections.

“Oh, come on. Daddy’s right here. I’ll catch you.”  I spread my arms wade apart. “I’ll catch you.”

“No! I’ll get water in my nose.”

This war of pleas and objections went on for 10 minutes. She finally worked up the courage to walk to the edge of the pool. “Hold your nose and jump in,” I said. “I’ll catch you. I promise. Just trust me.

She finally held her nose and jumped. I dunked her head under water for two seconds. She survived! She thought jumping intotrust and obey the pool and daddy catching her was a blast!

So, my five-year-old jumped off the edge of the pool and daddy caught her . . .again and again . . .for the next 45 minutes! She never got tired. Daddy did. Or we’d still be at that pool.

Once my daughter learned her daddy would do what he said he would do, she trusted him.

Isn’t that true with our Daddy? When we learn once that we can trust God to do what He says He will do in a circumstance we surrender to Him, isn’t it easier, the next time to trust him with another circumstance or trial or dilemma?

Can you count your spiritual markers?

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Lessons God teaches us

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The Cone of Uncertainty

cone of uncertainty 2They can’t tell you where the storm will strike, when the storn will strike, or how bad the storm will be. Weather savvy meteoroligists at the TV station draw this wide cone on the screen hedging their bets with their best scientific guesses. It’s called the cone of uncertainty. It’s used to describe where weather experts believe the eye of the storm could possibly travel.

Despite all the sophisticated high-tech weather stuff, their “best” guesses are still uncertain. Continue reading →

When God said “No”.

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3 steps to end hatred

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What I believe about myself today

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Are you in or are you out?

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Clawing my way out of a black hole . . .of my own making

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Happy DEpendence Day

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What’s your PQ-your purpose quotient?

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