Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The "Good Ol' Days" and The Glorious Day

       Don't ask, "Why were the old days better than today?" It's not good to ask such things.... (see Ecclesiastes 7:10-18 and chapter 12).... As Acts 17:24-28 tells us, God set men and women in history at exactly when and where He wanted them to be for His purposes.... (which doesn't mean that God won't move you at some point too though ;-))- But part of finding our identity in Jesus as His follower means being happy with who God made us to be- boy or girl, Asian, Hispanic, Native American, Pacific Islander, African descent, Indian descent, Caucasian, mixed, etc., Spanish, Trinidadian, American, German, Swiss, South African, Ukrainian, Argentinan, Brazilian, Eritrean, Japanese, Chinese, Australian, Indian, Senegalese, Antarctican, etc.- whatever the social class- whatever other label we put on each other....... God made us above all those things in His image (Genesis 1:26-31). And when we're in Christ, none of those things matter anyway! (Galatians 2:20, Colossians 3:1-4, John 13:34-35, Galatians 3:25-29) And as Colossians 3:11 says, "Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all."
    We are all infinitely important and infinitely loved by God. (Jeremiah 31:3) And we are all valuable in His kingdom, where the elder learns to serve the younger and the younger cares for the elder- where each thinks of others as better than themselves and each seeks to love each other truly and forgive from the heart...
     No, these aren't the "good ol' days"- but as I like to say, the only good ol' days this planet has ever seen were Genesis 1-2. We won't have any more truly good ol' days until Revelation 21-22 come to pass. But Jesus makes the in-between time more abundant when we follow Him, as John 10:10 says. :-) And during our faith journey with Him, He shapes us to be more and more like Him in character and empowers us with spiritual gifts to bring a touch of The Divine to a fallen world so badly needing of redemption. To be sure, the final Redemption culminates with the coming of The Lord- but until then, we're like the Planeteers with our power rings, sent forth to bring God's restoration to the world through our love and good deeds and sharing of the Greatest Love of all shown to us on the cross and in the empty tomb (Romans 5:8). And way better than Captain Planet, and the Avengers who "have a Hulk"- we have Someone Real Who can do something about our situation (Hebrews 11:1-6)- we have a Savior- Jesus Christ- Whom we eagerly await to come back from Heaven! We have The One Who alone bears the title of King of Kings and Lord of Lords! We have The One God Who holds all things together and by Him all things exist!
    Like DC Talk said, "God is doing a nu thang"- through His followers- His agents of change upon the earth. (Habakkuk 1:5) And as Jesus said in Acts 1:8 (in essence)- The Power is yours! :-) (So use His gifts and be His witness in all the world.)

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Walking on Air

           Things are all up in the air. And of course, we usually say this phrase with uncertainty and dismay- and the dismay comes generally because of the uncertainty of a potentially bad situation. We like to have that control and certainty- it's very hard sometimes to live in uncertainty- particularly since we know the prince of the power of the air that we once trembled under still works to seek us woe. (Ephesians 2:2) But the prince of darkness grim- we tremble not for him. One little word will fell him. Instead, we look to The Lord who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords and rules over all. And when we leave things up in the air, it's an act of trust because we know it's really in The Lord's hands. And it's in the air that we meet The Lord by faith. (1 Thessalonians 4:11) So while we don't want to put on airs, we do want to air not on the side of caution, but air on the side of reckless abandon in the Creator of air and everything else. I keep trusting Him from here and now all the way through when I cross the air Jordan- and beyond. :-) (At which time, believe it or not, I'm walking on air!)

Friday, June 29, 2018

Both Hands

I'm guessing motorcycle riders don't have too many texting and driving accidents...
I was behind a motorcycle the other day and it just struck me that they can't really hold a phone in one hand and hold the handlebars. They need to be fully committed to the one thing.
In the same way, we cannot serve both God and Mammon. No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God. Remember Lot's wife!
(Matthew 6:24, Luke 9:62, Luke 17:32)
The other question I wonder about is- "What do motorcycle drivers do when it's raining and that's their only transportation? " Of course, the answer is simply that they get wet.
That's part of the commitment. What happens when things get rough in following Christ, with persecutions and sufferings and fatigue? We hold on and endure. (Matthew 10:22)
Thankfully, we don't have to do this in our own strength- Jesus is holding us as we rest in Him. (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24) And He helps us hold on to the end of the ride. And just as Isaiah 66 talks about, we hold to the hope of the new Heaven and Earth God will make (see verses 22-23) and, because we no longer kick the pricks (Acts 9:5 KJV) but instead get oil for our wicks (Matthew 25), we look forward to one day forever get our kicks in book 66. (Revelation 21-22)

Monday, June 25, 2018

Look On Up

         I just had an observation today. It's not meant as an indictment against anyone who enjoys watching television and movies, etc. (particularly since this is coming from someone who LOVES watching a ton of [albeit usually older ;-)] television shows and movies). It just is funny to me how branded properties become verbs over time- as in the way that one can now apparently "Google" something (and/or "Wikipedia" something- though one does not seem to too often "Yahoo" or "Bing" something, much less "Encyclopedia Brittanica" something or "various reputable print book, magazine and professional journal sources" something). [1 Thessalonians 5:21-22....but that's a separate post in itself.] And particularly the way that one apparently can now "Netflix" something. This reference works if one actually has Netflix access and/or is aware of how it works.
        Since I currently do not have television access whatsoever, I can definitely say that I haven't missed it. Yes, there are a very select few things I might like to watch- but nothing I can't do without. I was wondering though, why Netflix releases an entire season's worth of shows on one day. I suppose there is some convenience to that and it doesn't necessarily follow that one will or should or must watch them all in one day. (Though some may enjoy such marathons- again, I understand that and I've done some limited television marathons myself.) I guess I'm just saying that I find it a bit disturbing when people speak of terms like "binge watching". It seems there are very few things we should binge on- if anything, why not binge on God's Word and His creation?
Let me reiterate that I say all this as one who struggles with this myself- I'm not perfect or always good at this either. There is a certain pleasure and comfort in getting lost in such bouts of entertainment. But I want to make sure that I'm not so tied to the things of the world that I lose sight of the things of God.
"The stuff of earth competes for the allegiance I owe only to the Giver of all good things."- Rich Mullins in "If I Stand".
          May my heart always be attuned to the only Giver of all good things' heart- and seek Him above anything else. A man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions- or in the abundance of his time watching televisions. (Luke 12:13-21) Let's be rich toward God always first- before laying up any treasure for ourselves on earth....some treasure is okay- but as I like to misquote .38 Special- "Hold on loosely to earthly gold- if you cling too tightly- you're gonna lose your soul. First, baby- seek kingdom of Jesus- and all that you need will be given." 
Teach me to count the days aright, Lord, so that I may get a heart of wisdom. (Psalms 90:12)
Before I get lost again in the impermanence of the finite, let me remember the infinite and work for that imperishable crown....May my tongue stick like peanut butter to the roof of my mouth if I forget Jerusalem and don't make her my highest joy....The joy of The Lord is my strength. I as your spiritual Gomer to Your spiritual Hosea- keep drawing me back from my whoredoms and let me feast once more on your flesh and blood, as a spiritual cannibal vampire might (even though I know that's a contradiction in terms ). Thank You for Your love and sacrifice and New Life that grants me real life and life more abundant.
Help me and us all to keep looking to You above all- make You our highest joy- and Look on Up. 




"Look On Up" from Relient K Get it today: https://rk.lnk.to/look…
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Monday, June 4, 2018

Satisfaction

        "Even in laughter the heart may ache, and the end of joy may be grief." (Proverbs 14:13) Sometimes we mask our need for God with so many things- and we can even seem happy and joyous, but the ache for more in our hearts is always there. I see this sometimes especially as a fan of books and comics...it's fine to enjoy a hobby, but I never want to be so sucked into fantasy for escape that I forget the true life which is only in Christ. Lord Jesus, forgive me for ever trying to find satisfaction in anything but You. It's all such a futile effort. "I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind." (Ecclesiastes 1:14)
         I feel so saddened and sorry for those who look to fill a void that can only be filled with The Divine and try to fit anything else in there. God has placed "eternity in our hearts" (Ecclesiastes 3:11). We were made for eternity. The perishable must put on the imperishable. (1 Corinthians 15:49-58) We're like Marty McFly trapped in 1955 and needing God to send a bolt of lightning to help get us back to our real life in 1985. "For as lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man." (Matthew 24:27) That day will come in God's time. Until then and until the day we die (whichever comes first), we have the offer of real life from Jesus. He's come to give us life abundant. (John 10:10) He paid for all our sins in the supreme act of love. 

        Just as we cheer brave soldiers who die for their countries so that others might live, how much more should we cheer and praise God, Who has died for His creation so that we might live? I owed a debt I couldn't pay and He paid a debt He didn't owe. I owe Him a life debt infinitely more than Chewbacca owes Han Solo. Christ died not for the righteous, but wretched sinners like me and everyone else. And He rose again. (Romans 5:8) And because of my faith in Him, I know I will rise with Him too. 
         "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory." (Colossians 3:1-4) Holy Spirit, guide me to do just that. Better is one day in Your courts than thousands elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. (Psalms 84:10) May my tongue stick like peanut butter to the roof of my mouth if I don't make New Jerusalem and its Lord my highest joy! (Psalms 137:6) Father God, please make this true in my life and use me to show others the Way to the Highest Joy- You alone. Let us not chase after the wind, but after the One who moves like the wind. May we always remember our Creator and fear Him and keep His commandments- which can only be done through relationship with Jesus. (Ecclesiastes 12:1 and 11-14) As Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied, neither are the eyes of man. (Proverbs 27:20) We never rest satisfied until we rest in You. (Proverbs 19:23)

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Recipe for Gravel Bread

     The Bible doesn't say what kind of fruit it was that Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and brought sin into the world, but tradition says that it was an apple. (See Genesis 1-3). If that's true, I think it must have been a sour apple. It may have tasted good at first, but in the end it turned sour just as its taste turns stomachs. 
       Satan still packages sin the same way- it always looks good wrapped in pretty paper with a sweet smell, but in the end it rots in your stomach. "Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be full of gravel." (Proverbs 20:17) In contrast, Scripture calls us to feast on Jesus and His death and Resurrection that has brought us salvation from sin instead. (See John 6:25-59). "Oh, taste and see that The Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!" (Psalms 34:8) Chew on that for a while. 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

By Faith Trust and Obey

         The point of doing God's will is not understanding. There are some things we will never understand until Heaven- and some we just may never understand period. And it doesn't matter. The point of doing God's will is obedience. Read through Hebrews 11, the chapter often called the "Hall of Faith", and you will see numerous people in The Bible who didn't totally understand (or at all) what God was telling them to do- but they were faithful to obey.
        By faith, Noah built an ark to save his family and two of every kind of animal from the flood. By faith, Abraham led his family out to a place that God would tell him about. By faith, Jeremiah faithfully preached the destruction of Jerusalem throughout his years of ministry, knowing the people would never listen to him. (God specifically told him this.) By faith, Isaiah went around naked for 3 years as an object lesson. (check Isaiah 20). By faith, Hosea married a prostitute- and took her back after she cheated on him. By faith, Jesus' disciples and the apostles boldly preached the Gospel of Christ to people- and many of them were martyred for it.
       There are numerous other examples that could be listed...None of these received the promise, since God had provided something better for us. They went through suffering just like we do as followers of Jesus. But they were looking forward to the coming glory of eternal life in Heaven with The Lord- and not just to this fleeting life. Jesus did the will of His Father and He certainly endured suffering just like we do. "Although He was a son, He learned obedience through what He suffered." (Hebrews 5:8) (see also Philippians 2).
       "But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, 'Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.' But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls." (Hebrews 10:32-39)