More than a Hunch

Daily Post:  Impression


I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that more people than not, actually do realize the importance of first impressions.  Dress for success is more than just a quaint turn of phrase.  “Putting a good face on it,” and “not just another pretty face,” are similar turns on a phrase but with drastically different meanings about impressions we make.  “Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes all the way to the bone,” often used in a deragatory way, can actually be the impression – that what is on the inside of a person can’t be hidden by makeup or good looks.  We all make impressions.  You have one of me right now as you read these words, and it might simply be, “where is he going with all this?”

The fact is that just because we have an impression of someone, based either on their skin cover (looks), skin color,  their dress (clothes), their speech, or their actions (behavior), doesn’t mean we actually know them.  None of these characteristics will speak to who that person really is, what motivates their behavior, or whether they like the rest of us actually have feelings that get hurt when people judge them on first impressions.  As you know, some people can be really short sighted and mean just based on a quick visual judgment.  Just because a person stumbles occasionally over words or word patterns doesn’t mean they are unintelligent.  For example, the liberal media made fun of former President George W. Bush for his easy going, Texas drawl, that often came out as something less than the perfect diction of a stage actor.  His speech notwithstanding, this man is brilliant.  He has a heart of gold.  He is doing Herculean things to help the veterans of our armed forces.  And in general, President Bush is a man to be honored, respected and admired.  First impressions can be deceiving.

Take for instance some people’s view of God.  I’m confident that many people have acted toward God based on first impressions.  Some have the impression that God – if He exists at all, and if He were actually responsible for creating this ole mess of a world – has simply left us to our own devices, and is busy somewhere out there doing something else, and we are own our own.  Of course nothing could be further from the truth, but this is an impression developed without knowing God personally in any sense of the word “knowing.”

Some people are a little more generous in their impression, suggesting that He is still out there, but He is a hateful, mean God, or there simply wouldn’t be such suffering in the world today.  They look around at the injustice of it all, that terrorists should kill 22 innocents at a music concert is somehow God’s fault, because if He truly cared about us, He would prevent these kinds of things from happening.  Again, this impression could not be further from the truth.  Yet, the impression is based in not knowing God at all personally, but simply aquiessing to His existence.

Others are caught between wanting to know this God of Creation, but can’t quite balance the disparity between God’s love found in Christ Jesus, and the previously mentioned pain and suffering in the world.  They want to accept that God intervenes, but from the distance of their first impressions, they don’t see it as true in their own life, so they can’t quite trust in the truth of it.  Again, just like the ones described above, these impressions are based on not knowing Him.  So, there’s the rub.

The thing is, that a person will never get over the first impressions of another person, or the God of Creation without taking specific steps to be in relationship with that person over time.  Investing time in another person takes tremendous effort, and some simply decide in their arrogance that one swift look of evaluation is all they need.  Unless willing to invest beyond this fist impression, one can not know the person they judge, or the God they fear.

Jeremiah gives us clarity on the issue of the misguidedness of first impressions.

Jeremiah 29:13

You will seek Me and you will find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

Life Launch

Daily Post: Catapult


At precisely 4:30 am this morning, as the alarm on my phone went off, I catapulted off the bed so as not to be late.  We were leaving at 5:00 am sharp and sometimes it takes awhile to get moving.  In another time, and another place, 4:30am was no stranger to me, as I was often in my office by 5:00 or 5:30 am on a daily basis.  Thankfully, I sleep until 6:30-7:00 am on most days.  On those rare occasions when I sleep later, I never catapult from the sheets. I roll out of bed slowly, hoping to wobble into the day at a more leisurely pace.  This allows time for my morning ablutions, turning on the coffee, reading the morning news, checking my favorite sports team’s performance, and generally easing into writing my daily blog.  

The zeal in life for me is often found in the motivation of what the day holds.  If I’m going to the Dentist, I drag my feet and leave at the very last possible moment, because heaven forbid I should arrive early for the painful experience of seeing the man in the white lab coat.  On the other hand, should I be so blessed to have a tee time at my favorite golf course, I am up and out of the house with time to spare.  Many days, there is nothing special planned at all, and those are hours so challenging to fill with meaning and purpose.  I’ve learned the fine art of “being” on those days.  It all starts with being aware (on purpose) of all the blessings I’ve received, the joy of being generally in good health, and giving thanks for this season of my life.  These purposeful actions launch me into life.

I’m reminded of a narrative from Scripture where one day a man blind from birth was suddenly and unexpected catapulted into a whole new existence.  The students of Jesus asked, “what caused this man to be born blind?”  The answer was startling to them.  He explained that neither the man, nor his parents were the cause, but this specific man was born in this condition “so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:3). Jesus proceeded to do a truly disgusting thing (by today’s standards of medical practice).  “He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes.” (9:6).  The follow up action on the part of the blind man was simple:  “Go wash in the pool of Siloam.”  According to John, the eyewitness, the man went, washed, and came back with his sight fully restored.

Imagine seeing the birds he had heard without seeing, the sun that burned his skin, the friends whose names he knew but had never seen.  Now this man, was a man motivated to launch into life.  Every day for the rest of his life, he awoke with a renewed excitement for what this day might hold.  On those days when I stumble and bumble through my morning, in a listless sort of “ugh” state, I try to remind myself about this blind man.  How blessed I am to be alive!  I’m healthy, I have my sight and my mental faculties are mostly in order, so what’s not to love about living?

Today, wherever you are, whatever your plight, whatever your pain, or joy… launch into life! 

Voices adrift in the silent sea…

Daily Post:  Adrift

adrift

It is easy to become disoriented, and discombobulated in the cacophony of voices clambering for your attention.  Each voice wants a part of your soul, and will stop at nothing to get into your mind.  Some voices are subtle, almost indiscernible, not unlike hearing a TV broadcasting in another room, or a conversation going on in another part of the house.  You know they are talking, but you can’t quite make out the words.  Other voices are loud and imposing, adamant that they become the voice you listen to.  I promise, I’m not crazy, nor suffering from any sort of medically treatable mental disease. In fact, I think I might worry about you if you don’t hear the voices.

The liberal media is a voice.  The political conservative is a voice.  You’re teenage son or daughter is a voice.  The spouse you have or have had is a voice.  The parental units of your childhood are a voice.  The guy in the car behind you honking like a maniac for you to get out of his way, is a voice.  The siren that wails disturbing your morning reverie is a voice.  That mocking bird outside your window is a voice.  The book you read is a voice.  The movie you watch is a voice.  The music you listen to is a voice…. see where I’m going with this?

A quite challenging exercise might be for you to find a place today where you can sit and not hear anything, no sound at all, except the beat of your own heart as blood courses through your body.  The interesting thing is, as I write this article, sitting at my desk it’s relatively quiet in my house.  Yet, I hear the clock ticking on the mantle, the rustle of someone reading the newspaper, the clickity-clack of my own fingers dancing on the keyboard of my computer, and the whishing swishing sound of the traffic on the street just a couple hundred feet from my window.  In a real sense each of these is a voice.  What are they saying?

Time marches on.  There’s nothing new under the sun. Some people will think this article is pure nonsense.  I’m late for work.  Which voice goes with the descriptions above?

In a world with so many voices to distract us, each warring for our attention, how difficult it is indeed to hear the voice of the Master.  Like a dinghy adrift at sea, we shift our attention and focus with the tides of the voices.  Awakening minutes or hours later, only to discover, we’ve gone nowhere, done nothing, and given away the most valuable gift ever given – time.  Life is more than just being adrift in a silent sea of voices.

Jesus said: [John 10:27]
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

Which voice are you following?

 

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Danger of Extinction

Unmoored

unmoored

Apparently, according to scientist, 66 million years ago there was a gigantic (6-mile wide) comet/astroid which struck the earth in the ocean near Mexico.  The result of this impact was devastating on the earth, destroying plant life, ocean life, and bringing about the extinction of the dinosaurs.  Other factors contributed to this event of extinction, including climate variations over the previous million years or so say the scientists.  The impact created a crater, known as Chicxulub, about 110 miles wide in the Caribbean, off the coast of Mexico, just north of the Yucatan Peninsula.

The effects of time and technology have unmoored some terms or expressions we still use today,  but make no sense within the context of their original meaning.  Here are some classic examples:

  • “dial the phone” was the expression for physically sticking your finger in the rotary dial in a sequence of numbers to place a call on rotary phones.  It’s comic to me how many people don’t even have a “land line” and their cell phones don’t dial at all, but they still use this term.
  • “cc” used in an email means to “copy” another person, but originally was used for “carbon copy” when placing carbon paper between two sheets of paper into a typewriter.  When was the last time you used a typewriter?
  • “like a broken record” was that moment when the record album was scratched or damaged in such a way that the needle wouldn’t follow the grooves, and repeated the same few seconds of music over and over monotonously until it was stopped.
    While some still use record players today, and their old albums, the term still really doesn’t apply in the digital world of music.
  • “going off half cocked” was used in the era of single-action revolvers and flintlock pistols.  You know what this means, even thought you’ve never fired either of these weapons.
  • “watch” became “pocket watch” when the “wristwatch” was invented; which is now an “analog watch” when it’s not digital. (clockwise and counterclockwise mean nothing to children who can’t tell time on an analog clock)

I could go on, but you get my point.  At some point the terminology we use doesn’t match the technology we embrace to function as human beings.  The terms seem archaic, and stilted, yet we use them because they are familiar to us, and keep us moored, like an anchor to our past.

As we wrestle with the uncertainty of the future, and the unknown nature of what is just around the corner for our world, it is important that people of faith in Jesus around the world hold fast.  Time and technology change the way we exist in this world.  Political systems and sovereign nations will always be at war whether physically, or digitally.  We know for certain, that the unseen forces of the heavenly places work to destroy our lives and God’s creation.  So hold fast this truth.

Hebrews 6:19-20
This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

While in danger of becoming extinct, true believers need to hold fast, not becoming unmoored by the circumstances, or fiery trials around them.

Hold fast!  Jesus is your soul’s anchor!

 

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Plunging into greatness…

Descend

descend

The single greatest thing I could ever accomplish in my life would be to emulate and embody the words of John the Baptist:

John 3:30
He must increase, but I must decrease

What’s interesting to me is the capacity of the human mind to be so self-consumed.  Most of life as we’ve known it in the grand ole USA, is contained in the ideas of greatness, first, and most.

In order to demonstrate true greatness, a person has to be willing to state the single simple truth of all our lives:  “It’s not all about me.”  Try that one on the next time their is relationship conflict, or pain which encroaches on your happiness or success.

That is another interesting word:  “success.”  The world around us measures and quantifies this idea by measuring the rise of a person’s stature, not the plunge as they descend down the corporate ladder.  Of that person one might remark, “I wonder what happened, he had such a bright future here.”

Ascending to the peaks of personal achievement, wealth, social status, and power, are often destructive forces, in that once having gained these heights, often one has to compromise in some way to maintain this level of greatness.  This happens because someone else is always eyeing the spot one which the great one stands, and wants to occupy that space by removing the one implanted there.

Satan, a being created higher than humans, wanted to sit on God’s throne, and be God, himself.  Contrast this with the lower created human, John the Baptist, when confronted by the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.  John’s reaction is clear, in the implication: my time in the limelight is finished.  John suggests that now instead of listening to the prophet, it’s time for us to hear from God Himself, and heed His words.  In this simple statement, John descended into greatness.

When we commit to the premise of exalting Jesus as Lord, it means less: drama, selfishness, complaining, bitterness, gossip, pride, and anger.  It means less me, more Him.

Much like other things in life, this is a simple choice.  I said simple, not easy.  More importantly, it is not a choice that is made “once and done.”  It is a lifestyle choice.  Which makes it even harder.  For one single hour, of one single day, the hardest choice you will ever make is: Less me, More Him.  When that hour is done, you have to choose again.  Can I go another hour?  Or even one more minute?

Minute by minute, hour after hour, day after day, month after month, year after year… the choice must be made constantly… Less me, More Him.

This is the only, and true definition of descending into greatness.

Less me, More Him.

 

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Infamous Behavior

Daily Post:  Notorious

notorius

Hippias was a traitor to his Athenian heritage and conspired to work with the Persians and lead them ashore at the Battle of Marathon.  Had the Greeks lost at Marathon the nation would almost certainly have fallen, making this battle one of the most important battles in European history.

After leading a group of rebels, which grew to an army of 16,000, Robert Kett led the army to storm the city of Norwich in 1549.  By late August Kett was captured, then imprisoned in the Tower of London.  He was found guilty of high treason, and hanged in the Castle of Norwich, in December the same year.

Karel Curda, in 1942, and an elite covert team from the Czech Army parachuted into Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia, their mission to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich.  After completing the mission, Curda informed on his team, handing them over to the Nazis for a reward of 1 million reichsmarks.  Captured in 1947 he was tried, then executed for treason.

The Rosenburgs, Julius and Ethel, were found guilty, then executed for espionage (convicted for their direct involvement of providing nuclear arms information to the Soviet Union).

These notorious criminals, traitors, and all their actions combined with all the other infamous deeds in history which are too numerous to mention, do not compare with the gravest act of treason ever documented.

Judas Iscariot was one of those closest to God’s Son on earth.  Jesus of Nazareth had chosen him personally to be part of the team, the inner circle of twelve, from all the other Jewish men in Judah at the time.  It boggles the mind that Jesus would do this with full knowledge of what Judas would do just a few years later.

Image the shock and horror of the other 11 men, (while Jesus knew all along it would happen), as Judas embraces the Master and kisses him on the cheek.  The reward, a pittance,  a mere 30 pieces of silver.  This notorious action, and the evil nature of his betrayal, stands alone, in my opinion as the most unconscionable behavior of all human history.  Yet, God used this very event to bring about the saving grace for all mankind, revealed in the death of Jesus on a Roman cross.

God has a habit of taking truly evil deeds done by men and women alike, and by allowing them to happen, bring about something unseen and unknown to all involved, that would result in His own ultimate glory.  So you might say, whether famous or infamous, the deeds men do, will in one way or another bring glory to God.  We can choose this course of bringing God glory, or we can insult His authority and make truly heinous choices.  Even in these, God will reign supreme, judging the infamous actions with impunity.  We don’t always see it, others continue to debate it, but this is my solemn belief.

It is the essence of truth found in Romans 8:28

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  

verse 31 begins… “What then shall we say to these things?

My answer is:  Amen, and Amen!

God let me be famous for bringing you glory with my life!

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Contemptuous Masquerade

Farce

farce

The very idea that a political party, in partnership with the all-too-willing efforts of the liberal media, should be able to stir up such a contemptuous masquerade of accusation and finder-pointing, is a farce in the ultimate sense of the word.  Choose a synonym for what we’re seeing today, here, I’ll give you a few:  mockery, travesty, absurdity, sham, pretense, charade, joke.  Here’s one that fits: buffoonery.  The talking heads and the money grubbing, entitlement loving, power hungry D.C. elite look more like the image above.  Should we be worried?  You betcha!

The air is electrified, and the over-ripe rancid smell of smut-minded politicians is everywhere, while their double-standard media mogul friends pollutes the communication systems of our land.  “Impeachment” is used in every other word, in every possible media source available on TV’s, Radios, and hand-held mobile devices.  Nothing has been as divisive in our nation as the farce that is happening today in the Capital.  History does tend to repeat itself, because contemptuous men and women live out the purposes and agendas of a greater power.

Consider for a moment my argument, that the attitude being portrayed today in this nation is nothing more than the repetitive core problem that began thousands and thousands of years ago. Two young men, brought two separate offerings to the God of Creation.  One brought something less than his best.  One brought not just the best, but the best part of the best.  God in His wisdom was pleased with one and not the other.  Can you guess which one?  Yep, God was pleased with Abel’s fat offering, and not pleased with Cain’s food offering.  What happened next?

While the Smother’s brothers may have perfected the “Mom likes you best” farce, in real life it was and continues to be a lot uglier picture, and it certainly isn’t funny.  Cain got angry.  His anger turned contemptuous.  His contempt for his brother turned murderous and able went on to meet His maker at the hands of a jealous man.  [Genesis 4]

Yet, we just don’t get it.  Mankind since that dawn of destruction just outside the original Garden of innocence, has murdered countless brothers, fathers, sisters, and mothers in jealous fits of rage.  I suggest to you that if it goes unchecked, if we don’t rein in the monster we’ve let out of the box, the rage and contempt being displayed in the political arena will become the stepping stone to blood-letting not seen in this country since the Civil War, (which by the way did happen, regardless of how many statues we destroy.)

Neither the power moguls, nor the liberal media, will yield their hearts to the call of God, since they are both self-serving entities who see themselves as gods.  Wielding their power, writing their stories, talking into the cameras, all for the benefit of self, and personal agendas, the contemptuous masquerade music plays on.  It’s growing stronger, with every beat of the war drums.  It’s permeating into personal relationship as individuals take sides, drawing lines in the sands of defiance.  Make no mistake, we are already at war.  We just can’t see it.

Ephesians 6:10-12
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can make your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Who’s perpetuating the contemptuous masquerade?  The rulers, powers, and world forces of darkness, the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. We are at war.

It ever you turned to the word of God for wisdom and direction, it should be now.  May you dive deep into His thoughts and will, yielding your life to Him completely.  And may He save us from our contemptuous selves.

 

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Is it like stepping off the cliff?

Precipice

precipice

 

I’m afraid of heights.  There I said it.  For those who don’t have such issues, I applaud you, although I think you’re nuts.  I would not easily be led to the edge of this precipice, not for money, fame, or power.  Thrill seekers aside, my gut tells me most people feel as I do.  Just look how close that guy is to plunging head long into the abyss.  It makes my insides quiver just looking at the picture.

I love mountains, and climbing through natural mountain trails, reaching the summit and admiring the view.  Just not from the precipice of destruction.  It’s not my game.

There are folks who read these articles who are perched like a climber, looking over into the vast empty space below them, challenged to see the spiritual metaphor in this image.  For them, taking the spiritual plunge of faith is nothing short of stepping off the cliff.  It’s scary.  No, it’s frightening, because they have no context for what comes next.  If you’ve never stepped off a cliff, you have no context of what occurs during the fall.  Seekers of truth are those folks who have come right to the jumping off part, but have not stepped over the line of faith into salvation found in Jesus Christ alone.

For those people of faith who trust in Jesus with their whole being, it’s hard to understand the timidity of a person just not stepping out.  We’ve lost sight of just how hard it is for folks to let go of thinking they have control over their own lives, even when they don’t.  I’m fairly convinced for most men or women today, following Christ is no different than taking the plunge off the precipice of sanity.

Here’s the thing, at times faith is exactly that.  Hence the phrase, “Leap of Faith.”  Again, there are other things in life just as frightening, yet we take the plunge anyway.  It’s hard to say the words, “I love you,” when you don’t know for certain the person to whom you are speaking will return the sentiment verbally.  Driven by passion, or a longing to be loved, we speak the words anyway, and take the leap of faith.  It’s hard to say the words, “this is over.”  Knowing that the change which will come as a result of saying it out loud, may cause pain or sorrow for many people, yet you must say it, and you take the plunge off the precipice.

Coming to Christ, yielding to the authority of His Lordship over your entire life, being born again by the Holy Spirit of God, is like no other encounter in the human experience.  When you meet Jesus, when you say “yes” to His call on your life, it is a step of faith into the unknown for you.  There is no way to see the changes which will occur.  There will be consequences and more hard choices as you attempt to align your life with the will of God.  Yet, for those who have come, who have made this commitment, there is no greater joy than falling head-long into the arms of Jesus – the Savior.

If you are weighed down by the burdens of this world, if you are seeking truth, if you know there is more to this life but haven’t found it, then take the step of faith that leads to peace and joy in Jesus Christ.  Is it like stepping off the cliff?  For some yes.  For others no.  What will it be for you?  I don’t know.  Come anyway.  Step over the line of faith into Jesus, today.

 

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No Trepidation

Daily Post: Qualm

trepidation

I’ve been out of town a couple of days, and missed writing my blog.  I’m back in the saddle again, so hang on to your hats for another wild and wooly ride into the unusual word associations of “As I was saying…”

This image is one simulating what occurs in our brains when we suffer fear, anxieties, or qualms regarding what “might” happen in our future.  The “what if” game is more prevalent in some folks than others, yet I believe we all suffer from this malady from time to time.  When circumstances look bleak, when our future seems insecure, the normal human response is to walk with trepidation through these dark places.  We sense something is out there, and we put an evil looking face on it, and sure, sometimes it is evil that wants to destroy us.  Other times however, when our minds are painting the picture of a wolf stalking us, waiting to attack and destroy us, the very thing we fear is not a wolf at all.  It is simply the unknown.

We can hem and haw all we want, but at some point we must come to accept there are some things beyond our control, and most of those are unseen, or unknowable.  At times we see giants, when really they are ants.  Other times we see lambs, and they really are wolves.  How do we cope in a world where the unknown and unseen seems so daunting?

I have no qualms in writing these words to you, because they are true.  God, the Creator of the Universe, is Sovereign Lord of all.  This simply means that just because you can’t see it or know it, doesn’t mean that it – whatever “it” is – has escaped God’s view.  God is never surprised.  The thing that most causes that anxious spirit within us, God has already seen and dealt with; it is now under His control.  This should produce peace in our hearts and minds, and when it doesn’t it is because we don’t believe God is in control.  To give lip service to this truth, and go through life full of fear, is a non sequitur.

Isaiah 26:4
Trust in the LORD forever, for in God the LORD, we have an everlasting Rock.

Proverbs 3:5
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

Isaiah 41:10
Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

These verses, and hundreds like them, are to be taken literally.  They explain that to say you believe “God is in control”, and behave in opposition to this confession, makes no sense for the true believer.  Faith is having no qualms with trusting God absolutely in every major or minor detail of my life.  Faith is living with no trepidation of what might happen, because God is our Sovereign LORD, and He is in control.

 

 

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Irrefutable, Incontrovertible, and Irrevocable

Daily Post:  Final

trust

When it was over, when all was said and done, when it was final, I actually graduated.  I graduated from High School (HD), College (BA), Business School (MBA), and Seminary (twice- M.Div, D.MIN).  It may sound impressive, but it’s really not.  Lots of people do it, and far better than me.  But I did it, and that’s final.

I never liked that word either, “final,” while I was getting all this education.  The final exam for me was a daunting, sometimes even harrowing experience.  I was an ok student after awhile, but I was never best in class.  So the struggle for me was to learn to trust that I could do it.  That I had studied enough, or retained enough, to allow some grader to see me as worthy of passing the class, or graduating for that matter.

There will come a day when the final exam will be for life.  I’ve clearly not been the best student of life either, yet my heart keeps telling me that in the end, I will have retained enough to graduate.  I’m not talking about retaining all this education, or the pittance of a portfolio that is my retirement.  I’m not talking about the school of hard knocks, or the new car.  Retaining these things is impossible, I’m not going to take these things with me into the “afterlife” some call Eternity.

But here’s the thing.  I will retain all that I know of God, and one day I will know Him better than I do today.  I believe with every fiber of my being, just like Job:

Job 19:25
As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth.

There is one Irrefutable, Incontrovertible, and Irrevocable Truth, in which I place my trust:

John 10:27-30
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.  I and the Father are one.

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Jibber Jabber Jungle

Daily Post:  Maze

Yoda

Listening to the yammering jibber jabber of Yoda’s backward-upside-down logic is much like wandering through a maze blindfolded.  Not much of it really makes sense to someone who has seen Star Wars, much less to the millions who haven’t.  Don’t get me wrong, I stood in the line for the first two of these movies, like many other sci-fi lovers.  That said, I’m not a die-hard fan of Yoda wisdom.  There they are in the jungle, and Yoda says to Luke Skywalker, “Try not.  Do, or do not. There is no try.”  Is this supposed to be some new thought process on success?  My junior high football coach, long before there was a Star Wars or Yoda, told me to get up off my butt and do it.  It wasn’t a matter of if I could or not.  I grew up on the wisdom of William Edward Hickson (1803-1870), credited with popularizing the following ditty:

‘Tis a lesson you should heed: Try, try, try again.
If at first you don’t succeed: Try, try, try again.

Yoda would have a field day with so much trying.  Yoda would call Hickson a loser, because in Yoda’s book there is no “trying” there is only “doing, or not doing.”  This summarizes what’s wrong with much of the world today.  We’ve lost our way in the maze of the jibber jabber jungle.  Here’s a few of the more popular Yoda quotes I found:

  • You must unlearn what you have learned
  • When you look at the dark side, careful you must be… for the dark side looks back.
  • If no mistake you have made, losing you are. A different game you should play.
  • Size matters not.  Look at me. Judge me by my size do you?
  • Fear is the path to the dark side.  Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.

And on and on deeper into the jibber jabber jungle we could go, but again, like the mouse searching for the proverbial cheese wandering through the maze by his sensitive nose, our minds would only lead us to the inevitable truth… Star Wars is not the definitive wisdom by which one should lead their life.

The unfortunate thing is, many people in this ole world see the Man – Jesus – as a sort of front-runner of Yoda, and that’s all.  They see the Force as real, and the Bible as fiction.  They hear the heavy breathing anger of Darth Vader, rather than the all too real voice of Jesus crying out from the cross “It is finished!”  It’s all about what they can “do” rather than what Christ has already “done.”  Yoda is not the savior of the world, in truth, or in fiction.  There is only one Savior, His name is Jesus.

Jesus said some things that are hard to understand.  This was by design.  He did it on purpose.  He told the disciples ahead of time that He must “suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.”  Then He turned around, looked at Peter, and said, “Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s” [Mark 8:31-33]. He said things like, “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.” [Luke 6:35]  Many today think Jesus was a madman who just talked jibber jabber.

So again, it comes down to choice.  You must choose your own maze.   While certainly those who follow the wisdom of Yoda seem like mindless mice to me,  I too must seem as such to them.  If they are right, I’ve lost nothing.  If I am right, they have lost everything.  Which maze are you wandering in?

1 Corinthians 14:33
For God is not a God of confusion but of peace…

 

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The Rosy Beyond

Daily Post:  Pink

pink

Is the grass really “greener” on the other side?  I know what you’re thinking.  This daily post is supposed to be about PINK, Dr. Wilkins, not green!  Well, it’s an expression right? Sometimes we’re concerned with things we don’t have, or items we think we need, but mostly just want, and it or they are over there somewhere, on the other side of some obstacle we can’t conquer.  Some synonyms of pink are:  prime, perfection, best, finest, greatest.  These are all things on the “other side” of something we must climb, cross, or dig through to reach.  But what if we were to quit obsessing about the rosy beyond, and focused on the here and the now of our lives, reaching out for different goals that might keep our life in the pink?

Each of the fourteen thoughts in the image above, work in synergy with the others to put the pink back into your life.  Imagine how your brain would react differently if every day you would just choose to “Think Positively,” or “Volunteer Freely.”  Fewer and fewer people today volunteer for anything, without asking first “What’s in it for me?”  If you get something out of it, it’s not free.  Wasn’t there a “Friends” episode about this?   What if we would see Bobby McFerrin’s song released in 1988 as more than just a Grammy Award Song of the Year, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”?

How many people reading this article would benefit from just once a day, putting aside everything you’re doing at some point, and just go outside and walk around the block?  I mean really guys, you’re not going to get a two-pack, much less a six-pack from just walking around the block.  But exercise something, even if it’s just your legs.  And speaking of exercising something, what about your mind?  “Read More” is an excellent one, because God gave you a brain for something other than watching soaps or sports.  You really don’t want me to even get started on “Eat Healthy,” right?

Ok, then, I’ll focus on just three of these topics which will help your life pink-up a bit.  First, “Build Faith.”  This can’t mean the secular kind of faith we already have, because that hasn’t really worked yet has it?  Think about it.  You already have faith that your car will start when you go get in it to travel to the grocery store.  You have faith in all those other drivers out there, that they know what they’re doing and won’t end your life in a head-on collision.  You have faith that the food you’re about to buy in the store, won’t kill you from some exotic bacteria.  We live by secular faith all our lives.  But I’m talking about building faith in something that is far more secure and faith-worthy.  Come to know the Creator of the universe personally, by stepping over the line of true faith, and give your heart, soul, mind and body to Jesus as your Savior.

Second, “Love Always.”  The apostle Paul said that “Love” will never fail.  He said that there are three things which will last forever, Faith, Hope, and Love, but the greatest of these is LOVE.  One way to change the way we think is to practice saying the words, “I like THINGS, but I love People.”  This one small change in our vocabulary and thinking will revolutionize our lives, turning it rosy pink!

Third, “Live Forever.”  Some people don’t want to do this.  In spite of current media advertising promotions, some of the aged in our country who are suffering the ill effects of aging are just ready to give it all up already.  So, I’m pretty sure from a secular viewpoint when you and I reach this point, we may not want to stay here either.  So this “Live Forever” idea must mean something else as well.  Of course it does!  We are already created eternal beings.  We were designed to know the Creator, live out a life-long process of getting to KNOW Him, then when it is “our-time” go to live with Him forever.  The Rosy Beyond is not climbing Everest here, it is not maxing out our portfolios, it is not owning things, toys, or lots of money.  The Rosy Beyond is what awaits us when we live our lives in the Pink, while we can.

Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

 

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Perusing in Pursuit

Daily Post Pursue

pursue

I have always liked the hunt, like a hound following the scent.  Or like a detective working to take in all the facts, then assimilating the strands of information into a whole image, ultimately revealing some hidden or little known truth.  I pursue the English language in search of new expressions or meanings which are secondary rather than primary to the readers first and obvious thought about a word.  Using this method, writing becomes more challenging for me, and for you – the reader, because it demands that we get past the preconceived ideas that our language is one dimensional, or can only mean one thing.

For example, take the word “well.” It can me something “well” done, whether a behavior, or an over-cooked steak.  Well can mean a hole from which water, oil, or gas are obtained.  The hole could be maxed out at which time it becomes a dry well, like that over-cooked steak.  Well can be an expression on its own. “Well, I didn’t see that one coming!”, or just “Well!”  Fun stuff huh?  Context, and usage, are determined by the speaker/writer; but interpretation must come from the hearer/reader.  For those who use English as a second, third, or fourth language the nuances of interpretation are somewhat difficult at times.

Language and communication were designed by God to allow the human creature to interact within our species in meaningful and intelligent ways.  These tools also allow for the human creature to interact with the Creator using language He instituted for this purpose.  God’s Spirit pursued men whose hearts were tuned to His heart, and spoke to them in ways that resulted in a written record of what God wants us to know.  Not just know on a cursory level or having read it once, or listened to it being read just once.  The Bible has been given to us for the purpose of enhancing our relationship with the Creator of the universe.

When we peruse the Bible, flipping here and yon to re-read our favorite verses over and over, perseverating the same knowledge, like singing a song over and over until you sing it in your sleep, we miss the point of the whole.  There is so much more than Romans 8:28, which most people I know use interpretively incorrectly anyway.  There is so much more than Philippians 4:13 and the concept of “doing” things for God.  It’s not about what I can do for Him, it’s about what He wants to do in me that is unimaginable to me without submitting to His Lordship in my life.  Perusing is not the same as pursuing.

Yet, it is a good place to start.  Perusing the Bible for a story you’ve never heard, now that is a good pursuit.  Do you know the etymology of the words of Jesus in John 12:32, or John 3:14?  Hint, it’s an Old Testament story which some may have heard, but never seen the connection.  This is a good pursuit.  God find it, and see what God says to you through your pursuit.

In Daniel 3, there is a great story about Daniel’s friends arrested because they wouldn’t bow down to Nebuchadnezzar’s idol in worship.  They get thrown into a furnace of blazing fire, yet come out not even smelling like smoke or fire.  It makes for a great Sunday School lesson, but have you found the New Testament link in this narrative?  Who is that fourth person in Daniel 3:25, and what if any application can I make from this story to my life today?  This is a good pursuit.

One last example.  I know people who read the same book, or watch the same movie, once a year because it is their favorite.  There’s nothing wrong with this, I seem to watch the same Christmas movies over and over because I like them.  But, here’s the thing.  I don’t know anyone who watches the same movie even once a month, much less once a week, or every day of their lives, do you?  I don’t know anyone who, once they’ve read the last page of their favorite novel, puts the book down and reads the same exact book over and over every day.

When we peruse the Bible, reading only those parts that have special meaning for us, we limit God’s ability to teach us all that He desires us to learn.  My challenge to you today is to pursue all that God has in His word for you.  Try just one month of getting outside the box of your favorite Bible verses, and dive deep into the parts you seldom read, to see if God may say something new and exciting to you today!

 

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Short-term Parking

Temporary

short term

Contrary to the warning on all these yellow post-its, we do forget.  We forget where we put our keys.  We forget someone’s birthday, or worse the anniversary.  We forget where we park, we forget to send a thank-you note.  For some, forgetfulness is worse than others.  Those people who have perfect eidetic memories, like Sheldon Cooper on “Big Bang Theory,” drive me nuts.  I’m much more like my uncle Wylie who is known for his one-liners.  One of his favorites, and mine too, was “I’d forget my head if it wasn’t attached.”

I’m officially a senior adult by many standards today, so why do I still feel like I did in my 30’s?  I know my age, I haven’t forgotten how old I am.  I have all my faculties, and I remember what I ate for breakfast yesterday.  I know what year it is, and who is President.   However, it’s like my brain has areas where the stuff that goes in…  is like short-term parking.  It’s there only for a little while, and “poof”, it’s gone.  You too may be aware of the frustrations and disparities which derive from not remembering things you are supposed to recall instantly.  Instead of Sheldon, at times I relate more to Dori, and her short-term memory problem.

For hundreds of years, the history of people groups was passed down verbally from generation to generation.  Like in the 1985 film, the third installment in the Mad Max series called Beyond Thunderdome,  Savannah Nix does the “tallin.”  After all are gathered around she begins the verbal history which must be remembered.  She begins, “This you know: the years travel fast, and time after time I done the tell. But this ain’t onebody’s tell. It’s the tell of us all, and you’ve gotta listen and to ‘member, ’cause what you hears today you gotta tell the newborn tomorrow. I’s lookin’ behind us now into history back...”

Where are you going with all the forgetfulness and story telling, Dr. Wilkins?  I’m so glad you asked.  There is something that stirred in me when I saw this word for the Daily Post.  I was reminded of something easily forgotten.  I wish to remind you of it as well.  For those who read this blog everyday, and read yesterday’s post “Rancorous Relationships,” today I didn’t forget that all this is very TEMPORARY.  Everything in this life is but a blink.  This is not a permanent dwelling place.  This is not my final destination, it is just short-term parking.

Neither the pangs and trials of this life, nor the death that awaits me (if Christ doesn’t call us all home first), will cause my spirit to reside on this planet one minute longer than God deems necessary.  My destination is secure.  My Savior, Jesus Christ the Lord, has ascended to His throne in heaven to prepare a place, a room, a permanent dwelling space for ME!!!! So whatever crazy or minor inconveniences I might suffer while parking here temporarily, is insignificant in the larger view of eternity.  I refuse to be bogged down more than one single day (yesterday for instance), by the temporary nature of things related to this planet, and my daily life here.

Don’t forget!  Don’t forget!  Burn this image of all these post-it notes into the center of your being.  Don’t forget… this is a temporary dwelling place.  But the one which awaits us is so glorious as to be impossible to describe.  John did His best, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, and the direct dictation of Jesus in the Book of Revelation.  However beautiful these images are, they are a glimpse at best.  Read for yourself about a new heaven, a new earth, a new Jerusalem, the River of Life, and the Tree of Life, in Revelation 21-22.  And whatever you do, don’t forget what Jesus promises:

Revelation 22:20
He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!!

Rancorous Relationships

Daily Post:   Bitter

bitter

It tastes like the tart, acidic, bite of lemon.  That moment when you realize the majority of people in your life don’t understand, can’t understand, wouldn’t fathom the depth of pain that caused your actions, even if you explained it to them.  Even for the most transparent of people, there are parts of us that stay hidden, unveiled to no one. When these shadow driven areas determine our actions, there is almost always collateral damage.  The resulting attitudes of those around us become jaundiced or sullen, resentful or bitter, and they lash out in anger at us for hurting them in some way.  Collateral damage.

Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about.  Rancorous relationships abound in the world today, because people hurt each other.  Everyone has a thought process that seems rational to them at times, which if shared generally even with their closest friends might seem to the friend as madness.  If the thought process takes form, and becomes activated in behavior, the friend can sometimes be the one who reacts like a terrorist ready to tear your head off.  Or worse, become the one who starts the rumors that ruins your reputation among others that don’t know you well.  Is any of this ringing anyone else’s bell out there?

Imagine being Jewish in the first century city of Antioch, and hearing the narrative about Jesus for the first time.  It’s a story so bold, and so brilliant you’re intrigued, but know that you can’t act like it, for fear of offending your friends and family.  After all, you’re like one big family as Jews, and the Roman government is enemy enough.  You don’t want your own people to turn on you.  But you become convinced of the action you must take, to surrender to the truth of Jesus as Lord and Messiah.  You know the moment that this comes out you will be like the others of “The Way” and you will become an outcast.  Your parents will disown you and treat you as though you have died.  The man you work for will fire you, and treat you as dead.  Your brothers and sisters will ignore you and pretend they don’t see you on the street.  Your life as you know it will be over, dead.

But you choose Jesus anyway.

What results?

You are dead, but alive.

Just like Jesus.

The bitter actions of the people in your life, who don’t understand you choices, do not determine whether the choice was right or wrong, good or bad, God does.  Their harsh rumors and speculations of how you’ve gone mad, cannot determine your next steps.

Be careful in interpreting my words here.  I’m not bitter.  I’m pragmatic.  I get that 90% of the people around me don’t understand my actions, or the reasons for my actions.  My attempts at transparency can only go so far.  That said, I’ve learned the hard way, that the very people who ought to be loving, forgiving, kind and accepting, are the ones who lash out bitterly in retribution, on a vengeful vendetta to judge and destroy those who they deem “unworthy” of grace (me).  The church can be very unforgiving, and unloving, for those who need grace most.

I’m really struggling here to make sense of how bitter feelings wreck a church, and destroy people’s lives within the fellowship of believers.  It really is this simple:  either we believe Paul was writing with the authority of the Holy Spirit… or we should quit calling ourselves Christians and join the country club instead of giving our money to churches.  Here’s what Paul says about it.

Ephesians 4:32
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ – God forgave you.

The picture above is the epitome of this verse.

Grow up.

 

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Exposé of Truth

Exposed

expose

Jack Nicholson, Tom Cruise, Demi Moore were cast as Marines involved in a dramatic courtroom thriller in 1992 called “A Few Good Men.”  One scene stands out, used over the last 25 years in various ways as an example of what happens when someone tries to expose the truth.  Col. Jessup (Nicholson) screams (in this picture above) at Lt. Kaffee (Cruise) from the witness stand, “You can’t handle the truth!!!”

Which as you’ve guessed by now, is sad but true for many people today.  The truth is that Trump had to learn the hard way just how difficult a job it is to be President.  The truth is that Hillary was so in her head, out of touch with real people with real jobs, that she thought she had the election in the bag.  She’s still in denial about why she lost out on her life dream.  She can’t handle the truth.

The sad fact exposed in the news everyday,  is that more and more people around the globe are being sucked into the destructive patterns of Satan’s deceit.  World religions gain in popularity while Christianity continues to decline and face persecution around the globe, in ways we can’t even imagine in this country.  The rise of ecumenicalism is the demise of evangelical influence in the tiny towns of the plains, the villages in the mountains, and city to city, from coast to coast.  It’s Sunday, and folks will be gathering for worship.  But what will they hear from the pulpit?

Many will hear 10 minute homilies, written to address some social ill.  Many will hear a 45 minute diatribe with material that repeats every 15 minutes.  Many will hear what may sound like the truth, but really is a deceptively cunning twist and perversion of what God’s word really says.  And in those few congregations where there is still a pastor who believes in the inerrancy of God’s Word, folks will hear the truth.  They will hear exactly what God wants them to hear.  But the question remains, “Can they handle it?”

Better still, what will they do with it?

The truth of God’s word is not just some comfortable blanket you wrap yourself in when you’re feeling cold and isolated by the world.  It is not just a fan you turn on to blow when the heat of the world’s hate becomes too much to handle.  The truth of God’s word is a SWORD.  More often than not when we read it, and listen to it, and understand it’s talking to me personally, we are so struck by what we read, the word’s of the movie seem true… you can’t handle the truth!

By now, if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that I have a favorite verse, and I use it often.  It is most fitting to use again as a superior example of what I’m writing today.  There is a singular statement that defines Jesus as God, in a way that no other religious deity or leader has ever stated.  It comes from God’s Word, written by the apostle John, inspired by the Holy Spirit.  This makes it truth.

John 14:6
Jesus said to him (Thomas),
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

Millions in this world today deny this truth.  Millions in this world are vehemently crying out about the exclusiveness of this verse, in a world who’s current buzzword is inclusiveness.  That’s the heart of the ecumenical movement.  They say, “Oh, we’ll all get to heaven; we just take different routes, enter through different doors.”  However, this simply doesn’t match what God’s word says.  They can’t handle the truth.  There is only one door, only one gate, … and only one WAY.

This is my “Exposé of Truth” – John 14:6.

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Splendidly Superior in Every Way

Daily Post: Better

better than you imagined

This is quite a quaint little saying isn’t it?  The retrospective view is often much clearer than the clarity of the now, or the dark mirror which is the future.  We’re told to examine our failures and discover our weaknesses so that in the future we can harness that knowledge and succeed where failure once reigned supreme.  People who put phrases like these, on pictures like these, are really just trying to help… because they are the proverbial “glass-is-half-full” characters God, created to keep the rest of us “downers” in line.

Here is another image that got my goat this morning:

better than you

Who’s the moron who gets up in the morning and goes to a conference and puts “Better than YOU!” on his/her name tag?  You don’t know me.  You don’t know anything about me.  And the fact that your arrogance is showing, like the endearing pictures of the crazy people who hang out at Walmart all hours of the night in revealing clothing, is just wrong.  Take it down a notch already.  When did it become a competition?  When did I have to measure up to your standards?  Who declared you “judge of the world” that you could even compare yourself to me?  Of course you’re better if the standard in your mind is you, but it isn’t for me.  Get over it already.

I could hardly get my head around this one:

def of love

Seriously, what does this even mean.  [pause]… I’m a right brained creature who gets the whole concept of creative passion fueled by the vivid imaginations of love, yearning, and peace.  But really, “continual interrogation?”  Sounds as if someone’s being held captive in an undisclosed “black ops” site, and won’t survive unless they surrender to love.  There’s no logic here.  There’s no construct of reality here.

Therefore, what we see in these images: … the very idea of “better” … is subjective regarding most things in this ole world today.  Since the subjectivity lies in the heart, mind, and eye of the person observing, experiencing, or “interrogating”(?), “better” is a constructive concept of measuring or quantifying how an individual feels about the thing itself.  Did you know it doesn’t have to be this way?

There is a book in the Bible called Hebrews.  It was written to a Jewish congregation of Christians who were struggling with the concept of abandoning their Jewish traditions and practices, and adopting new practices of worship through Christ.  The author of Hebrews is unknown to us, in spite of what well-meaning theologians today might dogmatically say.  However, there is a recurring theme throughout the whole text of the Book.  It is a clear definition and understanding of “better.”  I could verbally go through all the scripture references for you here, but one chart from Charles Swindoll will do “better.”

58-Hebrews

Want a clear definition of “better?”

Look to Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior, Creator, Redeemer, Deliverer, Sustainer … of all that is.

 

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I have set before you…

Daily Post:  Lifestyle

lifestyle

The way in which a person, or group of persons lives is a simple definition of lifestyle.  Usually the connotation implies a set of choices an individual makes resulting in a specific pursued set of life goals.  Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, with host Robin Leach, and Shari Belafonte, ran as an American TV show broadcast from 1984-1995.  As given us in the title, the show allowed us inside the lifestyles of the uber-wealthy, taking us to glamorous resorts and opulent homes.  The viewer like tourists on a guided tour listened as Leach gave insight into what real money could buy.  Since most people don’t have this kind of wealth, while entertaining at times, the show had no redeeming value which would improve the viewers lifestyle at all.  Being envious doesn’t count.

“Be all you can be…” was the recruiting slogan of the United States Army from 1980 to 2001.  Running during commercial breaks for M*A*S*H and CBS Evening New with Dan Rather this slogan really worked.  It inspired a nation of young people to become their best by entering into military service, the commercial ended with “… in the ARMY!”  According to Miyoko Hikiji, a decorated U.S. Army and Iowa National Guard Veteran, author and mother, describing her deployment with the 2133rd Transportation Company she tells her story in an article titled, “All I Could Be.”  The Army, for Hikiji, was a lifestyle choice she wouldn’t change for anything.

If asked, what do you think most answer to the following question.  “Would you rather have Life and prosperity, or Death and adversity?”  I’m convinced when put this way, 99.99% would say life and prosperity, but only because I know some bohemians out there who just like to be opposite for the heck of it.  Most people I know would never knowingly choose adversity when prosperity would be just as easily gained.  I know some people who might choose death over life to end their own sense of being cursed, fighting disease, or so depressed they feel their is no hope left, but these folks are deluded by their circumstances into believing death will bring relief.  What if it doesn’t?

What if the choice between life or death, prosperity or adversity, is more of a Soul-life choice, than a material lifestyle choice?  What if most of humanity has missed the fact that life is not made up of material pleasures, or possessions?  What if true life consists of knowing the Creator of all things, and having Him bless you with His Lordship?  What if true death is dying without ever having established a relationship with the Creator, and knowingly choosing to stay disconnected from Him?  The same choice that God gave the Hebrew people, He gives to us today.  The Old and New Testaments say the same thing, just worded a little differently.

Here’s the Old Testament version:  Deuteronomy 30:15-20

See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the LORD your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it.  

But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. You will not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess it.

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.

The blessing and the curse… God said, “you choose.”

Here’s the New Testament version:  John 3:16-21

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.  For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.  He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  

This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.  For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.

Light and darkness… the blessing and the curse … it’s the same thing, and Jesus said, “you choose.”  It’s a lifestyle choice.  It’s made in taking a step of faith.  Moving from an unbelieving heart to one which believes in the claims of the Son of God.

It’s not about material wealth, happiness, comfort, privilege, or entitlement.  It’s about soul-lifestyle. So…

I have set before you today … a choice.  Choose wisely.

 

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People Panicking Perpetuates Pandemonium

Panicked

pandemonium

A panic attack is defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) as:

… an abrupt and discrete experience of intense fear or acute discomfort, accompanied by symptoms such as heart palpitations, shortness of breath, sweating, trembling, and worries about going crazy, losing control or dying.

Did you know that 8-10 percent of the population has panic attacks, or that in 5% it becomes a disorder, occurring without any obvious stimulus, making the attacks even more terrifying?  In these cases it isn’t just a rush of anxiety, like most of us might experience from time to time.  No, these patients describe it as the most frightening event they have ever experienced.  Research has discovered leads to what causes a person’s first panic attack, as well as some clues about how to avoid an attack in the first place.  The simplified version is that panic attacks often result…

…when our normal “fight or flight” response to imminent threats—including increased heart rate and rapid breathing—is triggered by “false alarms,” situations in which real danger is absent.

The good news for those who suffer this chronic disorder is, first, all panic attacks are triggered by known events, even though the person may not be aware of those events. Knowing this can often reduce the anxiety stemming from a sense of unpredictability.  Second, though it is affirming to learn the attack is caused as a misfire of the fight-or-flight response when there actually is no danger.

In a culture spawning “fake” news, political corruption, excesses and entitlements, it’s little wonder that we all don’t run into the ocean, screaming in a wild panic.  I’m sure that we could learn quite a bit from a shepherd boy, if we only would.  Just because things look dangerous, or complicated, or “glass-half-empty,” (or completely empty), doesn’t mean God sees it this way.  If only we could see the world, ourselves, and our situations through God’s eyes, I believe it would make a huge difference in our lives.  Maybe we wouldn’t become panicked quite so much.

The key to David’s life was his ability to not see things as they are, but to view them as God sees them.  Enter Goliath, a huge 9 ft. tall giant of a man, hardened by war, trained in battle.  He wears armor plated garments, has both spear and sword, and a shield to ward off enemy attacks.  He bellows at the top of his lungs, the wild ravings of the blood-thirsty heathen that he is.  And every time he does so, to a man in the camp of Israel, they are trembling in a crazed panic.

Along comes David bringing food to his brothers in the army of God.  Upon hearing Goliath’s threats and railings, David’s response is not flight, it is fight.  It’s not an imagined danger, it is very real.  It is tangible.  It is death with a face on it.  Yet, David’s instant response to the Israelite men trembling in panic was:

1 Samuel 17:26
Then David spoke to the men who were standing by him, saying, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?”

I can almost hear it in David’s voice.  The overwhelming confidence that God will not stand for His people to be challenged in this way without retribution.  God will not allow for the heathen to cast dispersions and heresies about Him without punishment.  David is clearly not panicked.  (1 Samuel 17)  How did God use David’s confidence to demonstrate His own sovereign control, authority, and covenant presence?  Watch.  After using his trusty slingshot to nail the giant with a stone from the river…

1 Samuel 17:51
Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it.  When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.

Now it’s the Philistine army’s response to be panicked, and well they should.

So, here’s the thing.  The thing, event or circumstance that frightens you most right now, whether cancer, relationship struggles, financial difficulties, or emotional strains to difficult even to talk about; hear me… God is still in control.  The authority of His word still stands.  His covenant presence with you is designed to annihilate the panic that so easily sets in to destroy us.  Here are God’s simple words to avoid becoming panicked:

Psalm 46:10
Be still, and know that I am God.  I will be honored by every nation.  I will be honored throughout the world.

 

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No One, Not One, None

Daily Post:  None

none

Everyone is welcome in our home.  We make no judgments on who they are, or where they’ve been, or what they’ve done.  Someone comes to the door, knocks and has the time, we invite them in.  It’s Texas hospitality, it’s the way I was raised.  Perhaps there is a PollyAnna naivety to allow someone entrance to my home without knowing them very well.  But there you go, you can’t take that West Texas cordiality out of the boy, no matter how hard this ole world tries.

I’ve knocked on a few doors in my life, where I discovered I was not welcome.  When cable television first came to Amarillo, Texas, I was a college student and worked part time going door-to-door attempting to convince people how good it would be for them.  It was an interesting, and at the same time very depressing, lesson on how some people treat people they don’t know at the doorway of their home.  I was cussed, shouted at, and told to leave or they would call the cops.  I also made some sales to folks who took pity on a college student just trying to pay for school.  Others were genuinely pleased that I had come by, because they were looking forward to cable TV.  Sometimes I felt like an alien on the planet.  Other times I was grateful for the hospitality shown to me.

God taught the ancient Hebrew people a lesson about how to treat strangers in Leviticus 19:33-34:

When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong.  The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God.

This seems pretty straightforward  in both meaning and intention.  It’s about remembering that they were aliens and strangers in the land of Egypt, and it wasn’t pretty how they were treated there.

In a very real sense, Israel never learned this lesson.  In the first century, when someone who seemed strange to them arrived on the scene, they treated Him with disdain.  As He began to teach and preach the Kingdom of God, they bowed their backs instead of bowing their hearts before Him.  When the right time came, they determined He was a blasphemer, and deserved nothing but death.  Regardless of which side of the debate they came down on, none of them understood what was really happening, or the role they were playing, in completing the will of God on earth.

At one time Jesus told His closest followers, “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out, and find pasture.” (John 10:9)  How can someone be a passageway?  How could Jesus be a door?  The Aramaic Bible in Plain English translates this same verse this way:  “I AM THE LIVING GOD, The Gate; if anyone will enter by me, he shall live and shall go in and out and shall find pasture.”  I love it when we find ways to discover what the original languages actually say and mean.

This verse helps us understand a simple truth about “NONE.”

On the night of his arrest, earlier while sitting around the table at Passover, Jesus was explaining events about to occur in the very near future.  He was leaving them.  He was going to die.  He would send them a Comforter.  His Spirit would lead them from then on.  He was going away to prepare places for all of them to come join Him in residence.  They understood none of it.  Then He said:

John 14:6
I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

People have trouble with the dogma of this statement.  Around the world, ecumenical leaders cry out, railing against the exclusivity of this statement.  “Surely there are more ways to God than just through this ego-maniac Jesus,” they say.  And that’s the crux of the matter right?  Each individual human has to determine for themselves regarding the words Jesus spoke of Himself.  It sounds audacious.  It sounds like the ravings of a lunatic.  It sounds like self-aggrandizing nonsense.  But is it true?  What if it’s true?  Then what?

If it’s true, then two words become critical to our understanding.  “No ONE” is all-inclusive regarding humanity.  Every single person must determine on their own to believe in “the way, the truth, and the life” of Jesus.  Otherwise, they are excluded from the Father’s grace.  The antonym for none is “all.”  The ecumenical movement wants us to believe that “all” will be saved ultimately, that it doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you believe something.  But this is not the teaching of the Bible.  No one, not one, none, will come to the Father, but through Jesus, the Gate, the Door of salvation.

None.

 

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Lord of the Manor, King of the Ages

Control

knight-templar

There was an excellent British Comedy which aired on BBC1 from 1979-1981, which I thought was a hoot-n-a-holler.  Penelope Keith and Peter Bowles were paired well, she the sad widow who has to leave Grantleigh Manor where her family has lived forever, and he the new owner of the estate.  Of course they end up falling for each other, but the dialogue, and antics along the way are hysterical, and worth a watch.  It’s called, “To the Manor Born.”

The “lord of the manor” is a title originating out of the feudalism of the Medieval Middle Ages.  Established in England by the Normans after the Battle of Hastings.  All the land of England was claimed by William the Conqueror, to be distributed among the Normans as reward for fighting in the battle.  These estates of land, a fief, were known as Manors.  The lord of the manor owed allegiance to the King, as well as his immediate superior.

Today in America we don’t use the term Lords and Ladies, as they do still in England.  Unless of course it is tongue in cheek.  I may in fact be lord of the manor in my home, but I owe allegiance to the King of the Ages for blessing me in this way.  There are in fact three attributes of God’s nature and character, which define Him as Sovereign Lord.  These attributes are:  control, authority, and covenant presence.  At the bottom of this article I will provide a link which gives a brief Biblical introduction to “Lordship Salvation,” the first lesson in a series of Bible studies I’m putting together.

So, here’s the thing.  Today Satan thinks he’s lord of the manor.  He thinks he has power and control over the earth.  He thinks he has the authority to ruin our lives and rob our joy.  He wants us to think he is like God and present all the time.  However, none of these thoughts of his are true.  While Scripture may call him “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), this only means he has limited power, and for a limited timespan.  While Satan may think he can accuse us in front of God at will, or do anything to us to destroy our lives, Satan can only act or do as allowed by God, his authority is limited.  And while this destroyer wants us to believe he is ever present with us, the fact is he can’t be.  If he is in China, he can’t be in Texas with me.  If he is in Washington (where I think he spends most of his time these days), then he can’t be in Israel, Iraq, or Iran.  Satan is not omnipresent, he must send his own emissaries (fallen angels who follow him), to do his bidding.

The reality of this story is that it has a finite end.  The end of human history, the capture and incarceration of Satan and his followers, and the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth are all described in the last Book of the Bible – Revelation.  From Genesis to Revelation, Jesus is pictured, prophesied, and portrayed to be Lord of the Manor (earth) and King of the Ages.  No entity, human or supernatural, will usurp this Lordship.

To read more in a bible study format click: First lesson.

 

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Mathétés

Apprentice

apprentice

In March this year, Arnold Schwarzenegger announced his first season of “Celebrity Apprentice” would also be he last. “Even if asked (to do it again) I would decline,” he told Empire Magazine.  Apparently, according to Mr. Olympia (7 times), the divisive political climate of the country was responsible for people not wanting to participate, be a sponsor, or even watch the show.  This season the show finished last in its time slot among the four broadcast networks.  Since it was my first year to ever watch the show, I had no context for whether it was as good, better, or worse than previous years.  At times I thought it was ok, other times what it pointed out clearly… how difficult leading a group of men, women, or both mixed together, really is.  The Governator talked a lot on the show about how difficult life had been for him, and what he had accomplished since immigrating to America in 1968.  He has done well, and is a model of hard work and discipline.  His accolades aside, most of his reward is self-taught, or pure self-motivation combined with extreme self-discipline.

An apprentice is one who learns from a master, having agreed to put their life on hold to become accomplished in the master’s skill.  I’m not sure this moniker fits either the show or the man called, “Mr. Chairman.”

By the time Jesus arrived in the hills of Judea, announced by John the Baptist as the Lamb of God, He had become a Master Teacher, Rabboni.  Is this because He went to Rabbi school?  No.  Is this because He had been tutored by the famous Gamaliel, as Paul had?  No.  Why then?  Who did He apprentice with?  At one point Jesus turned to His own apprentices and said…

John 15:15
No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.

Even by the time Jesus was moving from childhood to adulthood (age 13 in Hebrew culture), He confounded the elders in Jerusalem with His wisdom.  On the return trip to Nazareth, His parents thought he was in another part of the caravan when they left the Feast of Passover.  When they couldn’t find Him they returned to the city to find Him…

Luke 2:46
Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.  And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers.  When they saw Him, they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You treated us this way?  Behold Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.”  And He said to the, “Why is it that you were looking for Me?  Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?”

For the next 15-20 years Jesus apprenticed as a carpenter, learning His earthly-father’s business.  All the while listening and learning (humanly) to what His heavenly Father was teaching.  In every instruction, in every foundational principle, in every human thought, Jesus perfectly aligned His will, with the Father’s will, and became the perfect apprentice.  When the apprenticeship was completed, He became Rabboni, which means my great teacher, or Master.  The word is found only twice in the Bible, Mark 10:51; and John 20:16.

Jesus called 12 men to be His own apprentices, or disciples.  The Greek word for disciple is “Mathétés”  (math-ay-tes’).  The short definition is:  learner, disciple, pupil.  The Disciples were to be the ones who learned all that Jesus wanted mankind to know about Himself, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit to come later.  He wanted the message of grace and forgiveness, the story of salvation, to be told by those who witnessed the Truth first hand.  This great privilege was also extended to the Apostle Paul, who was first an apprentice of all things Hebrew, and later an apprentice of Jesus in the wilderness of Arabia (Galatians 1:11-24).

Today, we too share the opportunity to apprentice with Jesus.  Learning from His Holy Spirit everything we need… to live, and breathe, and bring glory to God through our life.  It requires Herculean effort at times just to stay focused.  It requires Governator self-discipline to put our own desires, agendas, and goals second to His.  The life of an apprentice is not easy, but the rewards are outstanding.  We will never become Jesus, so our best hope is to become such a good imitator of the Master, that the Father smiles down on us and calls us His own.  “Now that’s My son!  Now that’s My daughter!”

What a joy it is to be an apprentice.

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