WWW = Glocal

Daily Post:  Local

Glocal

Globes have always fascinated me.  Intellectually I understand our earth is round (sort of), but every map we see is flat.  Which lends to a perspective issue for those without three-dimensional imaginations.  A good school project for your child this fall might be to “show and tell” how the internet was formed, or the impact it has had on our lives.  If you have no children, but this interests you personally, here is a link to a page titled, “40 maps that explain the internet.” Beginning with ARPANET (1969) this page demonstrates with maps the development, growth, and impact of the World Wide Web globally.

Most of us tend to think about things “locally.”  The thing I love most about where I live is that I’m 5 minutes max to: church, groceries, gas, movies, parks, golf, and no less than 50+ restaurants serving foods originating from all over the world.  Every morning I grab my java and sit at my desk, typing these little ditties into a text editor, on a site hosted by WordPress.  The second I hit “publish,” my article leaves my local connection like the speed of light, establishing a link for folks to click, then read, from virtually any place on earth.  As of today, June 26th, 2017, my articles have been read in 67 of the 196 countries around this globe.  From my local connection, I have a global voice = Glocal.

This excites me.  This motivates me.  This brings me great joy.  Every day, every time I receive a ping on my phone or desk alerting me that I have a notification of a person who has “liked” an article, I know without doubt, my voice has been heard.  In this small way, I know, that even though I may not have a weekly congregation which listens to a sermon, or a weekly audience for teaching a Bible Study, I do have folks all over the earth who follow and share my blog with others.  Who would have thought that an article written by a retired pastor in Texas would be of any interest to a Station Manager in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Barmenda, from Douala, Cameroon? Yet, we touched base on Facebook through the World Wide Web (internet), and I’m blessed because of it.  I couldn’t believe it actually, when someone from Mauritius (a small island nation in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa) read and liked my article.  How amazing!

Maybe I shouldn’t be so amazed.  After all what I’ve just described for you is the essence of what Jesus told His disciples to do and be.  They all wanted to know if it was time for Jesus to establish the earthly kingdom of God.  His answer demanded they (and we) get their thoughts in a better priority.

Acts 1:7-8
“It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

My challenge for you today is to think: Glocally.  First be aware that God has called us to be witnesses right where we are.  We are to live our lives in such a way as to experience God’s grace every single day, in personal relationship with Him.  Energized and equipped through God’s grace we are to reach out and have a voice, glorifying God, while exalting Jesus Christ as Savior, Lord, and Master of our life.  You never really know where your voice might reach.  It may even take the words of Jesus … to the remotest part of the earth!

Think:  Glocal.

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Does Change Make You Cringe?

Daily Post:  Cringe

spice of life

Well, first of all, what does this picture have to do with anything, especially the title of this blog?  The image above is perhaps aptly titled, “The Spice of Life.”  As in the phrase, “Variety is the spice of life.”  Change is about adding variety into your life.  Did you know this phrase dates back to 1785, first seen in William Cowper’s poem The Task: “Variety is the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavor.”  Did you also know that just the word “change” can make some people shrink away, cower in fear, or cringe in pain?  What is it about change that some people hate so much?

I like to think of myself as a balanced person.  I’m open to change and it doesn’t scare the livin’ dailylights out of me.  However, I’m also good with routines, and order, instead of the chaos that can occur from a constant barrage of serendipitous spontaneity.  I know people, and have known people, who’s lives are so structured, so ordered, that when something changes in their routine, it can be intensely devastating such that they become almost paralyzed with confusion, fear, rage, or depression.

This idea might help you understand the dynamic of what was going on in the first century when Jesus of Nazareth suddenly appeared in Judea and Galilee teaching and preaching in a way that was inconsistent with the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes.  His message was much more personal.  His content was intentionally focused on intent, rather than letter of the law.  And being lawyers, they hated Him for it.  For example…

Matthew 5:21-22
“You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER ‘ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’  But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.”

These descriptions coming from the Creator of the Universe, Himself, are telling insights into how God examines our heart’s intentions, rather than our inability (for few of us are perfect enough) to keep the letter of the law.  The elders in Jerusalem were no different than many people today who believe by keeping the “rules,” God is therein obligated to look on them with favor, or salvation.  Jesus made it clear in many ways, it is not about what we “do” but the “why we do it” matters just as much to God.  Clearly murder as an action is wrong, God’s word says so.  But such loathing and contempt as people express toward each other today, according to these words of Jesus, are just as wrong.  Additionally, Jesus says if these attitudes (intentional heart motives) go unchecked, they will condemn that person to a fiery hell.

I cringe at the thought of how God must see some of the leaders in our nation today.  “Variety” as a spice of life to them must mean, another of the variety of their party is ok, but if the other party wins, or tries to change something, then murdering people’s reputations is not just ok, but their only course of action.  Real change in our nation’s government will require both parties to be more willing to approach this problem with a balanced mindset.  Because if the contempt on display in the nation’s capital today does not cease, what we see in the future will not just make us cringe… it will frighten us to our core.

Am I saying that change is easy?  No, but it is possible.  Am I saying only Washington needs to change?  No, but it would make it just a little bit easier for the West Coast LA LA LAND folks to accept, if the change began in our capital.  Do I believe the Comey’s, Mueller’s, or Lynch’s and the like on the hill will moderate their tone and alter their narrative?  Not likely.  Yet, if they don’t, when I think about it the chill that runs down my spine is something that the word “cringe” doesn’t even begin to cover.

What’s the answer?  The answer is the same as it has been for thousands of years now.  Psalm 37 in my bible is titled:  “Security of those who trust in the LORD, and insecurity of the wicked.”  You should read the whole thing, it won’t take but a few minutes.  Allow me to give you one highlight:

Psalm 37:12-13
The wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes at him with his teeth.
The LORD laughs at him, for He sees his day coming.

On a more positive note… just for a change…

Psalm 118:24
This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!

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Lost in the Beans

Daily Post:  Illusion

illusion-coffee bean

After turning on the coffee pot, reading the morning news, seeing whose on top of the leaderboard for the golf tournament, and checking my email, now I’m almost ready to write something.  I’m listening to the rain falling outside.  I’m mesmerized by the tiny little insect that inhabits the space around my desk, flitting here and there, distracting me from the task at hand. At times my pulse slows to such a point that it seems all of this is just an illusion. Writing is at times more like trying to find the face of the man hidden in the coffee beans above.  In moments like these, I’m just like this man, lost in the beans, where everything looks the same.  Do you see him?  He is right there in plain sight.  It took me awhile too.  Don’t be concerned if you don’t see it right away.

Some say life is just an elusive illusion.  They say life resembles the work of those famous artists who draw mind-bending art I’m such a sucker for.  3d eye magic pictures drive me crazy, then suddenly I see the image; as my mind relaxes and focuses on what’s hidden in the depth of the design.  Then my eyes twitch, and it’s gone again, just like life.  I blinked, and somehow went from 20 to 63 years old.  I know I slept, ate, thought, worshiped, read, engaged in friendships, played golf, raised kids, and enjoyed it all.  But the elusive nature of it as a whole makes me wonder sometimes if I was really there.

Spiritually, life can be like this as well. It doesn’t really take long when reading the gospels and the story of Jesus’ life to discover much of his teaching was in parables.  A parable is a verbal tool, used to paint an imagine that some will see and others will not.  Perhaps one of the most famous parables Jesus told was the one about “the sower and the seeds.”  In Matthew 13, the tax collector describes the crowds following Jesus as so large that He had to get into a boat on the beach, push out away from the throng of people, and sit down to teach them.  The parable/illusion He taught them was simple.

Matthew 13:2-9
Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up.  Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil.  But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.  Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out.  And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.  He who has ears, let him hear

Sometimes we ask the right questions, other times we don’t.  When the disciples came to Jesus they didn’t ask, “What does this mean?”  Instead they asked, “Why do You speak to them in parables?”  What’s the point, Jesus?  His answer?  “I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” [13:13]  

That actually sounds like a parable in itself to me.  Does it to you?  He was actually quoting the prophecy of Isaiah from the Old Testament.  God was saying through Isaiah, hundreds of years before Jesus was born, that when the Messiah came, many in Israel and around the world would not see Him as Messiah, not hear Messiah’s words, instead they would reject Him outright.  Jesus went on to say the disciples were truly blessed because they could “see” and “hear” the truth of who Jesus was, is, and will always be… Messiah.

The real challenge in the illusion (parable), is to see the truth of what it holds.  The salvation of God, gained through trusting in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, brings with it limited sight and understanding of spiritual matters.  Through the on-going redemptive work of the Holy Spirit, our spiritual vision becomes more acute.  We are able then to gain more understanding of God’s will for our lives.  Looking back on it, you can’t unsee the point at which your eyes were opened and you truly saw Jesus as Messiah.  However, just like in the 3d art images, or the man in the beans (above), sometimes the spiritual truth is like a fleeting moment in time, here one minute, gone in the next heartbeat.  That’s what makes the next verse so outstanding!

Paul told the church in Corinth:  [1 Corinthians 2:9]

But just as it has been written: “Things which eye has not see, and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.”

We will not ever know the fullness of what is in store for people of faith.  Don’t even think, not for one second, or ever let someone convince you, that this life is all there is.  It is but an illusion, a glimpse at best.  What God has in store for those who love Him, is beyond our comprehension, or imagination.

 

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Wholeheartedness

Daily Post:  Commit

commit

Those who read my blog know that I often use golf metaphors as enlightening images to make my point.  The amateur golfer, not unlike the fish out of water above, faces the daunting challenge of not settling for the status quo. To improve as a golfer requires self-examination of his or her own skills; as well as emotional strength to handle all the nuances of bad shots, bad bounces, and weather conditions that naturally come with the game.  Change comes easily for some, but is substantial work for others.  To improve means to change what doesn’t work, into what does.  Many times this comes through instruction from a professional golf instructor, however, knowledge is only half the battle.  Application of the instruction through dedicated practice on the driving range is the evidence of the golfer’s commitment to improve.

What if this fish fails to leap far enough, landing on the table top instead of the larger bowl?  What if it commits, but dies only moments later, surrounded by air instead of water?  Some might say this is the perfect argument for not making the leap of faith.  What if the golfer has all the knowledge, and perfect understanding of what is entailed to make a perfect golf swing… but never takes the necessary steps to execute that shot?  Wholehearted commitment is foundation-ally not being afraid to fail.

The Bible is practically filled with stories of men and women who were challenged to commit to something they could not see, touch, or feel, in order to do the will of God according to God’s commands.  For a great understanding of this principle, read all of Hebrews chapter 11, to see what theologians today call “the roll-call of the faithful.”

Hebrews 11:1-2
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval.

Clearly the author of Hebrews was just hitting the high-lights of the Old Testament, for there are hundreds of examples which could be added to this list.  In addition, since the end of 1st century, when the Bible was completed, there have been thousands upon thousands of individuals who lived by this passage, gaining the same approval of God as the “men of old.”  The only requirement for this feat remains:  wholehearted commitment.

How is it possible to conquer the “what if” fears that keep us from becoming a better version of ourselves, the ones God designed us to be?  Believing in the transforming power of Jesus Christ to save us, then stepping across the line of faith into His redemptive grace, is all that is required.  Translation:  wholehearted commitment to God’s version of reality, instead of relying on our pre-conditioned responses of what is real, makes the impossible = possible.

I would rather be this flying fish, risking it all for the promise of God, than to swim in the small bowl of “nothing ever changes.”  I would rather be the all-my-life student of the game of golf, than just be satisfied with a 14 handicap.  I would rather have Jesus than anything this world affords today. I’m all-in; 100%.

My advice to you?

Commit.  Wholeheartedly.

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Muniments

Daily Post:  Paper

muniments

The document shown here is a photographic image of the Charter of Richard I, confirming to Alexander de Baretin (butler to Henry II) all his property fairly purchased or confirmed to him by Henry II. (London, Westminster Abbey Muniments no. 657).  It is a lengthy document, written in elegant calligraphy, with an image of the great seal of Richard I.  What the image displays is the idea that the muniment itself was not just a legally binding document, but a reputable and distinguished treasure with social significance in its own right.  Muniments in the ancient world were matters of record dealing with deeds, statutory grants, or judgments which passed title to real property.  The possession of the muniment allowed the person to defend their rights and privileges as legal heir or claimant.

The Book of Revelation, written sometime in the late 90’s A.D., by John the Apostle of Jesus, could be seen as the Muniment document of Creation.  In this way the book is about the consummation of God’s great love for humanity, and the extravagant lengths to which He will go to save all who will believe in Jesus Christ.  The authorship, origination, blessing, and purpose are all found in the beginning 3 verses of this muniment:

Revelation 1:1-3
The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw.  Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.

John claims this information was revealed to him by an angel sent from God.  The document includes the “word” of God and the “testimony” of Jesus Christ.  Anyone who “reads, hears, and heeds” the things written in this work are blessed.  And finally, “the time is near.”

We all know that “time is near” must be a relative term, since almost 2,000 years have passed since it was written on papyrus.  Time as humans understand the concept however, does not negate what must be near in God’s chronology.  Within the chapters of the Book of Revelation as a whole we find a scroll introduced containing seven seals across the document.  As the opening of this scroll is announced, and each consecutive seal is broken, what is revealed is the grace of God for those who believe, and the judgment of God for those who stubbornly refuse to acknowledge His Lordship or trust in Jesus for salvation.

Viewed as a complete document, the scroll is not unlike a “chinese box,” which when opened, only reveals yet another box.  Some scholars teach that one seal was on the outside, then after each seal is read, there was another seal deeper in the document to break before reading on.  The first six seals bring stand alone judgments, while the seventh seal reveals seven more judgments associated with seven trumpets.  The first sixth trumpets announce the next six judgments. The seventh trumpet announces the end of all judgments being poured out like “bowls,” and there are seven bowls to be poured.  See, chinese boxes, sort of, the bowls, trumpets and seals are all part of the scroll as a whole.

The scroll itself then could be called the Muniments of the Creator.  Each revelation from the scroll is to reveal the power of Jesus Christ as Creator, and are designed as a title deed which will be read, then acted upon by God.  Each revelation will establish that Jesus Christ is the rightful owner/heir to all of creation.  The scroll is the reading of God’s Will (muniment) underlying the simple fact that Jesus Christ is King of kings, and Lord of lords, and rightful heir of all things.

If this indeed is an accurate portrayal of the Book of Revelation, and it does actually reveal future events to be unveiled in God’s timing, the testimony of the book is the highest document on earth.  At the end of it all, after the salvation for millions, and the coming judgment for millions more, the words that stands out to me in these muniments are the promises of Jesus Himself.

Revelation 22:10
Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.

Revelation 22:12-13
Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.

We live even now under the muniments of God’s will.  Reading, hearing, and heeding the whole Bible, but especially Revelation, should lead us to live each day for our intended purpose:

To experience God’s grace daily, and extend His glory to the ends of the Earth.

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The Beginning and the End

Daily Post:  Loop

loopA loop is different from a ring in my mind, but only just barely.  In engineering a “loop” is a structured series of processes where the end is connected to the beginning.  In computer code a “loop” is a programmed set of instructions which repeats until a desired condition is satisfied, then it stops.  A loop could also invoke the image of a cycle which has a specific beginning and ending point.  To reinforce my statement, a ring has neither beginning nor end, it is a closed, or completed circle at inception.  My favorite metaphor would be playing a round of golf.  A player tees off on hole #1, playing each hole sequentially until finally reaching hole #18, therein finishing “the loop.”

Without realizing it, all Christ followers today have something in common with the ancients.  There is one particular loop, or cycle, which every person of faith has to come to grips with in their own life.  It’s seen most clearly in the Bible as a descriptive pattern which the nation of Israel fell into.  It also clearly points out the need for God’s grace instead of judgment, since we like Israel fall prey to this loop daily.

Israel consistently lived out what many scholars call the “Cycle of Sin” found in the book of judges.  At the top (follow this pattern like the dial on a clock) Israel serves God; then Israel sins and turns to idolatry; God allows them to become enslaved by their sin; Israel cries out of forgiveness and deliverance; God raises up a judge to guide them to repentance, through this repentance; Israel is redeemed and delivered to serve God once again.  We could shorten the cycle to just the four points on a compass:  Sin, Oppression, Repentance, Deliverance.

Israel in those ancient days was God’s chosen nation, they were His people.  He promised He would never abandon them or allow them to be completely destroyed.  God had a personal relationship with Israel, so the loop was about how this relationship was altered as the people made their choices to obey or disobey God’s commands.  Let’s fast forward to today.

For Christ followers, people who have stepped over the line of faith into Jesus, this loop effects us every bit as much as it did the ancient people of Israel.  We all spend some time in the right place – serving God with our whole heart.  Yet soon enough, sin disrupts our relationship with Christ, and as long as we wallow in this sin, oppression becomes our companion in life.  It is only when we agree with the Holy Spirit inside of us, that we have indeed sinned against God, that we are sensitive to the Spirit’s prodding to repent and confess our sin.  When we cry out to God for forgiveness, and He does forgive, He lavishes upon us such underserved grace, and we once again see through spiritual eyes what God offers us in redemption.  Jesus is right where He has been all along, right there with us.  It was me that moved away, not Him.  It was you, not Him.

In this way, my life is like a loop (cycle of sin), but God’s grace is like a ring… without beginning or end… it just is.

Ephesians 2:8-10
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Make your choice today to live inside the ring of God’s grace, while stumbling through the loop that is the human life experience.  Jesus said:

Revelation 22:13
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the Beginning and the End.

 

 

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Alleviating the Pain

Daily Post:  Relieved

Doctor is In

Pain and suffering come to each of us at different times and in various ways.  Some folks around us bear up under the most intolerable of circumstances, causing us to wonder how they do it.  Aching internally, and in obvious emotional or psychological distress, we seek out a physician to aid us and relieve our misery.  Said Doctor finally joins us (after a 45 minute wait in the examination room), and like the image above, smiles and says, “How you doing?”   In times like these, I often have the urge to answer, “Oh, great doc, I just wanted to see if you had time to grab a quick 18 before lunch!”

Pleasantries and trite cliches are not what I need in those moments.  Pain, real or imagined, must be hunted like a terrorist and alleviated. When the pain (again real or imagined) is chronic unabated suffering, a person can become jaded, angry, debilitated, or paralyzed, except that a physician accurately diagnose and treat the illness.  Relief from persistent pain can often be elusive, perhaps that is why they call it, “practicing” medicine.

The spiritual suffering in the world today is just as horrific, and just as real as any other physical disease known to man today.  Every day people awaken in total despair, their world in a perpetual state of emotional stress, and their outlook dim, for they see no relief in sight.  But here’s the thing, it doesn’t have to be this way.  There is a way to be relieved of spiritual, emotional, and psychological struggles.

God has revealed Himself in the Old Testament by giving us His names as descriptive titles in terms of how we are to relate to Him personally.  You can find several of these names in one chapter, Psalms 23.  Often read as a comforting passage to someone in trials or suffering, imagine how our mindset might change if we understood what God was really communicating.  David is led to reveal the primary title of God is LORD, which we often translate Jehovah.  When you add the characteristic nature names to this title, six specific revelations become clear.  The LORD is…

  • The Lord is my Shepherd = Jehovah ‎ra`ah , feeder caregiver, provider
  • The Lord is my Peace = Jehovah shalom, peace
  • The Lord our Healer = Jehovah rapha, restoration
  • The Lord is our Righteousness = Jehovah tesidqenuw, righteousness
  • The Lord is our Victory = Jehovah Nicciy, banner, victory
  • The Lord is our Presence = Jehovah shammah, abiding presence

One day as it happened, Jesus was passing by and saw Matthew (a tax collector), invited him to join the other disciples by proclaiming, “Follow Me!”  Later they were having supper in Matthew’s home, the disciples along with Jesus, other tax collectors and outcast of Jewish society (sinners the Bible calls them).  The elders in the Hebrew faith condemned Jesus for this, but His only reply was,

“It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick;  I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”  [Mark 2:15-17]

If you look closely Jesus is saying “I AM the great physician!” (implied)  In this way, Jesus is referring every listener (or reader) back to Psalm 23 where the attributes of shepherd, peace, healer, righteousness, victory, and abiding presence are described.  Jesus is saying, “I am that shepherd.”  Later, trying to connect the dots for His own followers Jesus said,

I am the good shepherd, the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.
[John 10:11]

Jesus doesn’t have to ask us, “How are you doing?”  He already knows how you are, and knows your need to be relieved.  Being relieved spiritually in this world today means trusting the great Physician; allowing Jesus to heal, guide, give peace, give us His righteousness, His victory, and His abiding presence… so we can live as God intended.

Who is your shepherd?  The Doctor is IN!

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Dad in a Bottle

Daily Post: Bottle

Father's Day

I’ve read that in the 1920’s -30’s there was a movement, a protest of sorts, to scrap Mother’s Day and Father’s Day for a single holiday called Parent’s Day.  Apparently, every year pro-Parent’s Day activists would gather in Central Park and proclaim that “both parents should be loved and respected together.”  However, Richard Nixon, in 1972, signed a Presidential proclamation which made Father’s Day a national holiday.  I’m wearing a new golf shirt I received in observation of this special day.  I love it.  If you got a bottle of cologne, I’m sorry…

There are as many different kinds of fathers, as there are men who have fathered children.  They come in all flavors, good, bad, and ugly.  Some are gentle and kind, while others may have been harsh and uncompromising.  I don’t know about your experience, and can’t speak for everyone in the world, but I went through the whole gambit with my own father.  In every stage of my childhood, teen-age years, young adulthood, until now, I’ve had an on again – off again relationship with my dad.  Now, I have three adult children of my own, and I’m pretty sure they would say something similar about their relationship with me right about now.  It’s a good picture of life actually.  Life in general has an ebb and flow, up and down, and we work through each circumstance or trial as it comes.  Some things in life are just hard to get over. Change happens. Yet, other experiences pass, and to move forward in a positive way, we choose to eliminate the negatives by forgiving and forgetting the bad things, and focus on the good memories instead.

Today also happens to be Sunday.  On these days of worship, I find myself focusing on the Father.  I am a son, not the Son.   I’m not a son because I deserve it, or earned it, or bought it.  I am a son, and blessed to be so, only because The Father declares it so through John the Apostle, if we believe in The Son.

John 1:12
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name… 

Regardless of how you may have been raised by an earthly father, whether he was present or absent, good, bad, or just indifferent; God the Father, the Creator/Sustainer, has declared that He will never leave you nor forsake you.

Hebrews 13:5b
…for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,”

Today, on Father’s Day, find a way to honor you earthly father according to the word of God, and honor the God and Father of all creation, through His Son Jesus, and give Him glory!

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From Whom All Blossoms Flow

Daily Post:  Blossom

breck-5

This image was captured in August, on a cool 70 degree afternoon, during my first visit to Breckenridge, Colorado.  In those few days, the two of us just enjoying the late summer weather of the Rocky Mountains, my senses were heightened to color, sights, and sounds, unlike any other time in my life.  Remembering the exhilaration and sense of wholeness in every stream and blossom, even now, some part of me is still there.  Repeating often, spoken aloud or whispered in my own thoughts, I shouted or sang, “Thank you God, for Your marvelous creation.”

Whether standing on the tee box, or just leaning on the balcony of our room watching the late afternoon rain cleanse the earth, I was reminded of God’s great love offered to me in grace.  In those moments I felt clean again.  Loved again.  Forgiven, and restored in purpose and meaning, again.  My soul sang out, over and over…

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly hosts;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!

Praise God the Father who’s the source;
Praise God the Son who is the course;
Praise God the Spirit who’s the flow;
Praise God, our portion here below!

Today I encourage you to see God in the blossoms around you;  in life, in love, in relationships, in grace… and sing His praise, to His glory.  Praise God from whom all blossoms flow!

Psalm 47:6
Sing praises to God, sing praises!
Sing praises to our King, sing praises!

 

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Forged For His Glory

Daily Post:  Create

create

Almost every cell in the human body has the same DNA.  Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is the hereditary material in humans and almost all other organisms.  For an animated video on the basics of DNA, genes, and heredity, click HERE.  I’m not a biologist, nor a scientist, but I have a working knowledge of DNA.  After all, I’ve watched enough episodes of CSI, and NCSI, I feel like an expert.  No, let’s be “real,” I know nothing more than what I learned in college Biology 101, which as I recalled I had to take twice. Ugh.

That said, those who adhere to the Big Bang Theory poke fun at creation, or creationist’s philosophies, beliefs, and proofs associated with a growing movement known as “intelligent design.”  Stephen Meyer emerged as a leader in this movement, and serves as the director of the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute.   In an article published by Biola Magazine, Meyer commented on these questions in the interview:

  • When it comes to evolution, what type of evolution do you agree with and what type do you deny?
  • How old do you think the universe is?
  • Do you affirm the Big Bang?
  • One of the big unanswered questions you see in the theory of evolution concerns the origin of the information needed to build the first living thing.  How do the Darwinists answer that question.
  • What would be your main argument for the evidence of intelligent design in the cell?
  • Your book talks a lot about information and you find parallels between a software program and our DNA.  Do you think the ideas in your book about programming and programmers would even have been conceivable to readers trying to understand intelligent design a generation ago?
  • What is “specified  complexity,” an how does it play into your argument?
  • 11 more questions followed… for the answers, and links to his books click HERE

I suspect for the large majority of my readers, you may have checked out by the third or forth question.  It seems tedious and highly technical.  I get it.  Just for fun, read a couple of the answers, and you’ll discover why the discussion of Intelligent Design (ID) is so controversial, at least to the Darwin collective.

The authority in my life is not Stephen Meyer, although I did find the article interesting.  The authority in my life is God.  I’ve yielded myself to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  Jesus proclaimed that the written WORD of Scripture is authoritative for all instruction.  The Holy Spirit leads us into wisdom and understanding when we read the Bible.  So does the Bible speak regarding Creation?  Yes, yes it does.

Genesis 1:1
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Chapter 1 in Genesis is captioned, “The Creation” in my Bible.  Chapter 2 is captioned, “The Creation of Man and Woman.”  The New Testament tells the same story in a rather shortened version of only 2 verses, rather 2 chapters.

John 1:1-2
In the beginning was the WORD, and the WORD was with God, and the WORD was God.  He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 

So, regarding Creation, why did God create us?

Isaiah 43:7
Everyone who is called by My name, and whom I have created for My glory, whom I have formed, even who I have made.

Every living creature or plant, each having their own unique DNA, were created by God, for God’s glory. Some obstinately refuse the Biblical account, would call the Creator – The intelligent Designer, rather than God.  In so doing they rob God of His glory.

Romans 11:36
For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.  To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

Why did God create us?

To experience His grace every single day, and to extend His glory to the ends of the world.  The creator designed us this way, all the way down to our DNA.

I’m all in.

 

 

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Pedestals for Paragons

Daily Post:  Paragon

hold on

Holding fast to the pedestal you have been put upon, at times feels more like what this dragon fly must be experiencing in the driving wind and rain.  We all do it, because at one point or another, someone puts you on a pedestal, making you out to be a paragon of something they hold dear.  Moms or Dads who are seen as the quintessential parent, are in grave danger.  We all know at some point we may fail grossly before our children, running the risk of becoming a fallen hero, or cast out of the family altogether.  Pastors, Professors, and Parents are often admired, if not worshiped outright.  However, getting a grip on how to avoid this pitfall is more challenging than you think.

The Creator placed within each human being a fundamental propensity to worship something or someone.  Some of the most popular paragons on pedestals today are: science, money, wisdom, information, ritual, power, and love.  Australian Hugh Clifford Mackay, psychologist, sociologist, social researcher, writer, teacher, says, “Most of us assign the status of god to something in our lives.”  The truth of the matter is: modern cultures and secular people still worship things, even if they’ve never believed in God. Mackay also says, “Nothing is perfect.  Life is messy.  Relationships are complex.  Outcomes are uncertain.  People are irrational.

Here’s the thing; even when people refuse to worship God, they don’t stop worshiping.  They simply put other “gods” in the Sovereign’s place.  Read Romans 1:18-32 for God’s perspective on this matter, written by the hand of the Apostle Paul.  Which brings me to things we worship in church.  Hold onto your hats children, some may regard the rest of this article as treading on very thin ice.  So be it.

It’s bad enough to put a local pastor up on a pedestal, seeing him (or her) as more than just a spiritual hero.  If the pastor is a great communicator, highly educated, and stylish in his attire, all too often the pastor’s status is raised to superhuman levels.  No one man or woman could ever live up to these standards.  Pastors are human, just like the rest of the congregation in the church.  When good bible believing folk quit seeing their pastor as human, Satan has acquired a foothold among them.

There’s more…

Some of the more popular pedestal paragons Christian people worship include:  music style, worship style, Bible knowledge, missions, historical figures from the Bible, or the Bible itself as a work.  Robert Kreigel wrote a great book on change (applicable to both churches and corporations alike) called Sacred Cows Make the Best Burgers. This book should be mandatory reading for people on pedestals, who understand their own humanity.

Music style/worship style has long been a dividing line in the church, becoming foundational as a cause for the changes to schedules in many average to larger congregations across the land. In order to accommodate both traditional and contemporary worshipers, Sunday morning schedules are now designed to have a separate worship time for each group.  In other churches there is no traditional option at all, only hymns re-arranged to a contemporary sound are sung, and the casual orientation finds people arrayed in all variations of attire.  We’ve built a pedestal to the freedom of expression in contemporary worship.

I say it is time to stop worshiping Bible knowledge, or worse the Bible itself.  Hang on! Here’s what I mean:  rather than seeing your leather covered Bible as divine in and of itself (deserving of worship), how about viewing the written work as Divinely inspired, but written by flawed men.  I personally believe the Bible is true in every way, without contradiction or error. And I believe the Bible to be the primary tool of instruction through the Holy Spirit by which we grow in faith and the knowledge of our Savior, Jesus Christ the Lord.  However, I choose to worship the WORD not the Bible, which according to John’s gospel…
John1:1
In the beginning was the WORD, and the WORD was with God, and the WORD was God.
Clearly this statement is not about the written book we call the Bible today.  WORD is John’s metaphor for Jesus.  We know this from the follow on verses in context of the first.

John 1:2-5
He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. 

In this same way, we need to quit putting Peter, James and John, and the rest of the original apostles on a pedestal. They were men, and Scripture explains how even these men were deeply flawed and needed salvation, perhaps Peter most of all. Additionally we must quit putting Paul the Apostle of Jesus on a pedestal to be worshiped.  By his own words he was “the chief of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:16).

We need to quit saying “I came for the music”, or “I came for the Biblical teaching”, or “Isn’t this building marvelous!”  We need to quit worshiping things or humans, all of which are very temporal.  The only pedestal we need is actually not a pedestal at all.  What we need is a fresh and renewed vision of Jesus Christ on the throne, the Paragon of Faithfulness, Love, and Redemption.  The old song says:

O soul are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free:
Turn you eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

 

Turn your eyes to heaven and see Jesus, and worship Him with the true love of a faithful follower today.

 

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Penetrating the Darkness

Daily Post: Puncture

puncture

The image above is not part of the Rorschach test.  Hermann Rorschach was born November 8, 1884, in Zurich, Switzerland.  In 1921 he developed the famous test named for his work, which comprised of 10 inkblot images shown to patients. The patient would describe what he or she saw in the images presented.  After many years of testing hospital patients with the inkblot images, Rorschach compiled his findings in a book called Psychodiagnostik, presenting the test as an effective and successful tool in psychoanalysis.  Champions of his work say it can reveal hidden mental issues in patients who are otherwise difficult to diagnose, while critics dismiss the work entirely as out of date with current mental health therapy methodologies.

The black and white graphic above is not a test, although when I first saw it, there were those who tried to make it so.  I first saw this image in the early 1970’s.  It was introduced to me as a “test” of whether I was truly a follower of Jesus, or not.  My first reaction was to be offended, and determined the test absurd.  There are people I know personally who have stared at this image for hours and still not “seen” what is there.  I also know people who look one time and say… “oh, I see it!”  For those who “see” what at first seems hidden, they often describe the moment of discovery as not unlike their experience in salvation.

When Jesus found Philip, he said to Philip, “Follow Me.”  Shortly after that conversation, Philip found Nathanael and said, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”  Nathanael, not buying into it, replied, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?”  The simple response from Philip was, “Come and See.”  [John 1:43-46]

When in the course of human life a lesson is learned, a discovery made, a skill is exercised … once acquired the lesson/discovery/skill doesn’t need to be re-learned, just honed over time to be better each time it is used in the future.  This idea is captured in the phrase, “It’s just like riding a bike, once you learn you never forget.”  Which also tends to be true for those who have “seen” the image above.  Once you see it, you can’t ever “not see it” again.  It’s as if the image has shifted from a simple black and white graphic, into a mind-bending revelation of the truth hidden by a Rorschach-like picture.

It is also a symbol, or metaphor, for what happens when a person comes to faith in Jesus Christ as Lord, and Savior.  I’m of the group of people that believe my salvation is entirely the work of God, and not only did I not deserve it, but I could never have earned it or bought it for myself.  In this way, since it is God’s gift to me, and since His promise is to securely save me (even from my self-destructive life patterns), once I am saved, I am always, for all eternity, saved.

The resulting benefit of salvation for me is the Holy Spirit, Whom Jesus sends to me in His own name, and Who opens my mind to the understanding of the things God wants me to know and understand.  It’s the proverbial “light-bulb” coming on spiritually, which separates and penetrates the darkness surrounding my thoughts and actions before I met Jesus.  Looking out through the spiritual eyes of the Holy Spirit now, everything looks different, because it is different.  In my trusting Jesus to redeem me, He has delivered me from darkness.

Colossians 1:13-14
For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Have you seen it yet … in the image above?  Once you see it, you can never again “unsee” it.

His name is Jesus.

 

 

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Waxing and Waning

Daily Post: Taper

taper

This image showing the various cycles of the moon waxing and waning over time, is a wonderful metaphor for the human existence.  We enter this world in a small fragile body, growing physically, mentally, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually to a full bodied grown human adult.  And while most would prefer to stay in the center of this image, full of vigor and vim, living in their prime, at some point life’s demands causes our energy and enthusiasm to taper ever so slightly through the years.  The process waxes and wanes until, at some point in the crescent wane of our life, the light is overtaken by the shadows, marking the end of our time on earth.  Unlike the moon, we have only one life to live on this planet.  After a time of darkness, the moon starts a waxing crescent, growing again to fullness before the next waning season.  We have no such cycle.

Which causes the questions, often asked when confronted by so stark a truth:  “Is this all there is in life?  What’s the point?  How can I extend this human existence?  Where is that infamous fountain of youth, that many have searched for?”

Understanding the limitations our Creator has put on us, perhaps none of these questions even factor into what God wants us to discover about our life.  In every age and phase of our existence, there is purpose and meaning when viewed through the lens of Scripture.  It seems to me that we come into existence for the purpose of living a life that brings glory to the Creator.  That becomes a real challenge for those who deny His existence.  Yet, those of us who believe this premise, we too face a substantial challenge to actually accomplish this design goal.  The essential nature of a human life bringing glory to God means living subject to God’s definition of what brings Him glory.  The one thing that gives Him the greatest glory is when we yield our life here, believing that when it is over, He will give us an eternal life there where He is, with Him.

Yet, we humans have a tendency to bargain with God about what would bring Him glory.  A few examples might help…

“Oh God, if you’ll just give me that new job, I will talk about how you blessed me every day while I work there!”

“Oh God, if you’ll just help me get pregnant, I’ll worship you every time I look at my child!”

“Oh God, if you’ll just take away this tumor, I’ll….”

You get the picture.

The thing is, bringing God glory may have less to do with a new job, being pregnant, and not having a tumor… and have more to do with what is going on inside your head and your heart.  These kinds of prayers have more to do with a false image of who God is, than with what it means to call Him Lord.  When we only see God as a celestial slot machine, or as obligated in some way to bless us with some good thing of our own choosing, we don’t really understand the Creator, or how He created us.  The ebb and flow, the waxing and waning of life, is the very core of how God designed us to bring Him glory.  We are to bring God glory by yielding to His Lordship in every season, through every circumstance, trial, trouble, blessing, and experience that comes to us in this life.  We only have one go around, we need to make it count.

How to do this is the real issue right?  Here are just two verses to help you daily in this process, while you wax and wane through life.

Deuteronomy 6:5-9
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Proverbs 3:5-6
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.

John 3:16
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.

 

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The Cubic Measure

Daily Post:  Volume

volume-conversion

Math was not always my strong suit in school, but I did ok.  Some people think that simple arithmetic is all that matters, as if making change from a $5.00 bill at MacDonalds is a great life achievement.  However, mathematics is more than simple arithmetic, and we use it daily in our lives, whether we realize it or not.  Do you want to design buildings and become a well-respected Architect?  Better learn the math required, or your structures will collapse and people will die.  Do you want to create the next new gourmet dish that people stand in line to devour?  Better learn the math required for proper ingredient measurements or the line won’t even form.  Do you want your teen-age son to learn how to avoid collisions in your car when he drives himself to school everyday?  Then you better make sure he understands some basic principles of geometry, and distance measuring, or your car may end up looking like an accordion.

Measurements, and more specifically the principle of measuring volume, are different for sound, solids, liquids, and gases.  For a quick and easy understanding of how each is different click HERE.  I want to focus in this article on the Cube as my example, since I find it one which offers a great deal of mystery.  Since all sides of a cube are the same measurement, the Volume of a cube is any side or edge cubed (AxAxA or A3). What makes this so mysterious is that inside the volume of any cube is the ability to subdivide the volume into 27 proportionately equal smaller cubes… see the image above.  Stay with me here.

If you are bored to tears with this ho-hum article filled with math principles, how about I show you this image from the Bible?  What if I were to tell you that I could give you an image of the greatest city known to man, that hasn’t even appeared on earth yet?  And what if I told you its design were a CUBE?  Watch this…

Revelation 21:15-17
The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall.  The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal.  And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements.

[read more about Revelation click here]

Do you see it?  Length, Width, and Height are equal!  The basic measurement is a Yard, according to human measurements (which are also angelic measurements), which is a CUBIC measurement.  So the angel of God tells John the Apostle, that the city Jesus spoke of in John 14:2 (“I go to prepare a place for you”), is measured in yards, and the measurement of one side of this cube is 1,500 miles (2,640,000 yards).  Think of this as the distance between Phoenix, Arizona to Richmond, Virginia.  Now CUBE this image, since the measurement is only ONE side of the city!  This one city would cover most of North America and extend upwards into the atmosphere for 1500 miles!  The atmosphere of earth before reaching space is only about 62 miles!  But God says this city – The New Jerusalem – will reach 1400 miles into space beyond our current atmosphere!

I hear the wheels turning in your brain right now.  Some will say, “This guy’s a crazy nut! That’s impossible!”  All you have to do is realize, everything about your life right now is based on faith and things you cannot see or even image.  Do you see “how” the pill you take every day controls your blood pressure?  Can you visibly see (with your naked eye) the blood coursing through your veins, keeping you alive?  Just because you don’t see it, just because you can’t comprehend it, doesn’t mean it isn’t true.  So, here’s the thing, is the 15003 miles an actual, literal measurement? 

Dr. Charles De Haan said, “Always interpret every statement in the Word of God literally as meaning exactly what it says, unless it is definitely stated otherwise, or the structure and context are such that you can plainly see that the passage concerns a figure or a symbol.”

When will we finally realize that everything in Scripture is given to us for specific reasons?

2 Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

Perhaps we should see the image at the beginning of this article as another measurement of volume.  What if the information you now know, understand, and have applied in your life from the Bible is the solid cube?  Can you see from this image that there is infinitely more that you could learn from His Word? God gave us these Scriptures so we would be adequately equipped for every good work.

My desire is to reach the full volume of His expectations for me!

Luke 1:37
“For nothing will be impossible with God.”

 

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Conquistadors

Daily Post:  Triumph

conquistadors

The world leaders in early conquests of America, Mexico and Peru during the 15th-17th centuries were called conquistadors.  While not necessarily “nice guys”, they were at times brutally efficient in their triumph over the native populations in Central and South America.  Perhaps one of the most famous was a Spanish adventurer named Hernando Cortes, who conquered the mighty Aztec Empire in Mexico.  Conquistar in Spanish translates, “to conquer.”

Conquistador might be a term easily used today to describe that individual who is ruthless in their actions, whether business, sports, or board games.  This person efficiently thinks several moves ahead of their opponents, arriving at the end game, seeing what needs to be done to conquer, then doing it … ensuring their triumph.  You may have known folks like this.  The actions of these “type A” personalities are often the underlying basis for the question, “Why would you do that?”  More often the answer resolves, “Because I can.”

In this world many times people of faith seem caught up in what is happening in the now, all around them; their circumstances, troubles, or pain.  What is needed at these times for most of us is a long-view approach to life.  Things change.  The old phrase “time heals all wounds,” may not be true in a literal sense, but the take away for us remains, “this too shall pass.”  At times people of faith also suffer from a sense of spiritual myopia, or spiritual amnesia, when they lose sight of God’s Master Plan, and how their lives fit into this plan.

God never intended for any believer to struggle with faithfulness during their time here on earth.  As a loving Creator He gives us everything, every resource we need, from His vast storehouse of Grace, so we can not just exist, not just insist, not just resist, but to be triumphant in our daily lives.  The words of Scripture are not intended to be just lofty spiritual thoughts, they are much more than this.  God’s words are pure energy, igniting fires, instructing arguments, commands, edicts, and tools with which to build the skills required for becoming Conquistadors.

Why else would the apostle Paul write… [Romans 8:37]
“In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us!”

Why else would Jesus say … [John 10:10]
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

Why else would John write … [1 John 4:4]
You are from God, little children, and have overcome (conquered) them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.

Why else would Jesus tell John to reveal this truth … [Revelation 2:26-27]
The one who is victorious and keeps My works to the end: I will give him authority over the nations — and he will shepherd them with an iron scepter; he will shatter them like pottery — just as I have received this from My Father.

As adventurers on this planet, we are here but for a short time.  We are too keep the end-game in our eyesight.  We have a vision of our future, whether near or far, and we know that our King will triumph in the end.  As followers of the King of kings, and the LORD of lords, we do well to act as He intended …  we are triumphant, victorious, overcoming Conquistadors.

Go victorious now into this day, speaking the truth in love, to those who cross your path!

 

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Divulging, Disseminating, and Declaring

Daily Post:  Revelation

rumor

Those of you reading today who know me well, may think I will shamelessly use this article to promote my recently published commentary/bible study on the Book of Revelation.  Perhaps I will, but that will come later in the article, if at all.  Subtle huh?

Revelation as a concept is about information (true or false) coming to light in various forms, which was not previously known.  It is in fact what the whole James Comey testimony is all about… everyone wants to hear about the secret conversations and dialogue between the former FBI director and President Trump.  Regardless of your particular stance on the substantive issues, there has been no “smoking gun” revelation. In fact, on the face of it, at least as I evaluate what’s been said, Comey has all but come out and said “the President did nothing illegal.”  Yet it still appears to me that the entire process was, and continues to be, driven by the agenda to discredit Donald Trump as our President.  Rumor mills and rumor mongering are bad enough, but when journalists become nothing more than mouth pieces for the political elite on both sides of the aisle, spewing and spuriously spreading fake news, or worse treasonous ideas, somethings gotta give!

Divulging information which is not intended to be revealed, such as classified data of any kind, is at the very least suspicious, because one has to ask “why was this shared?”  James Comey has admitted to leaking his memos to his friend, and doing so with the full knowledge that he, Comey, could then not prevent them from being revealed publicly.  Is this act alone not a crime?  Politics are the bane of my existence and why I choose to listen as little as possible to self-proclaimed pundits and their ego-based opinions about what is or is not true in Washington these days.  Who will save us from this odious quagmire?  Clearly we can’t save ourselves.

But isn’t that what the Bible reveals to mankind in the first place?  If Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, and those first generations of humanity had been capable of saving themselves from self-destruction, I’m quite sure they would have.  But the first couple was banished from the Garden, and one of the first brothers killed the other, all out of an ego-centric mindset that they were above God’s rules.  Things haven’t gotten any better since.  In fact, one might say we are far, far removed from what God intended for mankind to be.  God has revealed in Scripture just how far He is willing to go to help mankind live as He designed us to live.  First God chose a man, Noah, to preserve the various species of creation when God judged the evil men in the world through a flood.  Then God chose a man, Abraham, to establish a nation of people who would be God’s people declaring God’s glory and blessing to the world.  When that failed, because the people failed, God sent His own Son, Jesus, to reveal the full plan of God’s great love for mankind.

God has divulged, disseminated, and declared His love for all mankind, yet men and women alike continue to deny His existence.  Our world is so filled with hate, contempt, and evil, it could be said that God doesn’t recognize the place anymore.  Those who continue in their faithful following of God’s revelation, and who do so with great resolve, are finding it increasingly difficult to exist on this hostile planet.  Who will save us from this morass of self-deluded evil?

God’s revelation is clear.

Genesis 6:3
Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” 

Matthew 24:37
For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah.  For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.

Revelation 1:1-3
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John, who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.

From the very beginning until the very end, God’s marvelous grace has been divulged, disseminated, and declared to mankind.  The only thing which will save us from the horrible mess we’ve created, is the coming of Jesus Christ the King.  Until then, we will witness continued repetition of the colossal errors committed to, and fed by, the human hunger for power, prestige, and position.  One day, ALL will bow before the King of the universe, this I declare to you from the authority of Scripture.

Romans 14:11
For it is written, “AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME, AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD.” 

Philippians 2:9-11
For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

For more information about my commentary click:  Revelation

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Vulnerability

Daily Post:  Tender

tender

The hardiness of plant life is always such a wonder to me.  This lone daisy sprouting up from amid the hard planks of wood in the decking is tribute to God’s creative power to make things grow in the most unlikely places.  Now thriving, because it has raised its head to receive air, light, and moisture, the flower is both tender and vulnerable to the elements.  Yet the real danger it faces comes from the animal kingdom.  From little cotton-tail bunnies, to an awe-struck child, to the homeowner who does not want this flower growing in this place…this created living expression of life faces the challenge of being eaten, pulled or cut away in a heart beat.  The delicate, fragile flower, has beat the odds of actually sprouting and living in an environment hostile to its life.

One might say that this flower has fulfilled all it was designed to do in this world.  Through some quick research efforts this morning I discovered a few things about daisies, I’d like to share with you…

  • Daisies are in the family of “vascular plants” which circulate nutrients and water throughout the plant; these plants make up almost 10% of all flowering plants on earth.
  • Daises are found everywhere on earth except Antarctica
  • “Daisy” is thought to come for the Old English “daes eag” meaning “days eye” because of the way it opens at dawn.
  • Paul Dietrich Giseke, a German botanist, classified the daisy family as “Compositae” in 1792.
  • Daises represent purity and innocence.
  • The Daisy’s white petals count as one flower, while the cluster of yellow disc petals that form the eye are technically another, so it is considered two flowers in one.
  • Daisy leaves are edible, and can be added to salads, they are high in Vitamin C.
  • Medicinally speaking, Daisies are thought to slow bleeding, relieve indigestion and coughing; and in homeopathy, the daisy is the gardener’s friend for it’s ability to ease back pain.
  • Since daisies thrive in generally inhospitable conditions, and are resistant to most bugs and pesticides, they can become weeds if not controlled.
  • Bees love the daisy relatives, like Goldenrod, so they are important to honey makers.

God has done a marvelous thing when He created this world with all the varieties of plant life, each having its own purpose for being here.  Now it stands to reason, that if God cared so much about these tender flowers that He provides for their every need, doesn’t God prove His love people by doing much more than this?  Jesus spoke to this idea in Matthew 6:25-34, when dealing with the world wide issue of anxiety.

For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?  And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?  And why are you worried about clothing?  Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!  Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’  For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

We are just as fragile, just as tender as the daisies in the field, yet Jesus says our loving Father in heaven provides for us in the same exact ways He does for the flowers and birds.  This should free us from the anxieties of this life, because one thing is absolutely sure…

Isaiah 40:8
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.

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The Crisp Line

Daily Post:   Crisp

crisp

There is a fine crisp line separating knowledge from wisdom, comprehension from understanding, and effective communication and meaningless nonsense.  It sometimes has to do with focus, or the ability to see beyond the breaks and shadows, to discover the true meaning of what’s being said.  This image is a perfect example.  Did you read the dark side as a complete thought opposed to the lighter side?  It certainly can be seen as two complete thoughts, although the lighter side seems strange by itself.  It could make sense to those who see “art” in these separate ways.  However, if you did read it as two thoughts, now go back and read the whole thing straight across, to see the subtle shift beyond the crisp dividing line at the edge of the stone.  Fascinating how the intent of the artist changes with complete understanding of the phrasing, isn’t it?

Just as in this artwork of stone, understanding and wisdom come in life by being willing to let go of preconceived ideas or accepted traditional dogmas, and view people, conversations, and the world around us differently.  We need to look for purpose and intention, as well as for meaning and understanding.  While the crisp lines that separate shadows and lighted areas seem to differentiate truth, the reality of what “is,” is often found not in seeing black and white, but the subtle shades of grey that make up the whole.

There are those in this world who upon hearing the name Jesus Christ of Nazareth, jeer and sneer, shout and spew, denying His divinity and proclaiming Him just a mad man of the 1st century.  The say He was a liar, beggar, and the worst deceiver who’s ever lived.  Others, hear these angry declarations and become incensed at the blasphemy of it all.  These have so focused their attention on His divinity that they lose sight of His humanity.  They forget that He was bound by the same physical, emotional, and human limitations that bind us all.  He had to eat, sleep, rest, and seek solitude alone with the Father, in order to become the MAN capable of fulfilling God’s plan for salvation.

The REALITY of the nature of Jesus is that He was fully God (divine) and fully MAN (just like us) with one clear and crisp difference.  This one MAN, Jesus, did things perfectly.  His words were always perfect.  His thoughts were always perfect.  His emotions were always perfect.  His actions were always perfect.  He was perfect.  The hard and fast, crisp difference, between Jesus and me is crystal clear… I’m not perfect.  Neither are you.

Rather than seeing what we want to see, or just hearing what we want to hear, maybe it’s time we started looking for truth, and listening for truth.  On capital hill, or the election in the UK, in the south China sea, or the middle east… were people to put aside their cultural dogmas, their petty preconceptions, their personal agendas, and their pride… well, how crisply exhilarating would that be?  These are nice thoughts, but let’s come back to planet earth, and talk about matters closer to home.

It’s what we do, really, when things are ugly in our 10-foot circle, we deflect by focusing on what’s wrong “out there” in the “world” because we just don’t want to deal with what’s wrong in our own personal space.  The things around us that need addressing are fuzzy and messy, whereas if someone would just ask us, with the clarity of a crisp mountain breeze we could tell them how to fix the world.  Ha, what a joke.  We are the world.  Please don’t tell me everything in your life is perfect, I know better.  Mine isn’t.

So I strive to seek God’s wisdom, God’s grace, and God’s favor on a daily basis, by yielding my pride, my agendas, and my life to His Lordship.  In doing so, earthly troubles bother me less, and eternal matters are more in my thoughts.  The crisp joy of life follows, and I love it.

Hebrews 4:15
For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 4:16
Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. 

How about it?  Why don’t you join me in the pursuit of the crisp joy of life!

 

 

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Polish or polish?

Daily Post: Polish

Polish1      polish2     Question-Mark.png

The word of the day in the Daily Post is always a challenge.   Today’s word “Polish,” immediately sent me off on a question rather than an answer.    Was I to write about Poland and what it means to be Polish?  Since I’m not Polish this would be a serious obstacle indeed.  Was I to write about “polish” as in: to shine, wax, or buff something in a rubbing motion?  The question mark in my head resembled the picture above.  That got me thinking how the point of this exercise is always about interpretive view points.  Every other blogger who goes to the Daily Post site, to get the word of the day, must interpret that word within the context of their own life experiences, creative juices, and just go where it leads them.  Me included.

So, I’ll write about communication. The ambiguity of “polish” is a perfect example of how sometimes a single word is the difference between successful meaningful connection, or a total disconnect bordering on destruction.  It all depends on how one sees or hears the word.

Hate is an ugly word.  The passionate loathing of an individual, such as the sitting President of the USA, causes a total disconnection between sane thinking and acceptable behavior in those who are constantly trying to belittle, denigrate, or impeach him in the eyes of the general populace.  But this is an age-old problem, there’s nothing new under the sun.  Joseph’s brothers, out of their intense hatred for him, sold him as a slave to an Egyptian, who carted him off in shackles to serve in another land.  Samson was so despised his enemies used another old-time favorite, entrapment by a beautiful woman, to solve the riddle of his strength and defeat him.  Jesus was an abomination to the leaders of Israel in the first century, and it drove them mad and hostile, until finally they plotted His death.

Most people don’t realize that hate can also be HOLY.  The Bible explicitly defines how much God hates sin.  However, because God is Holy, then His hatred is holy hated.  When men and women in this world justifying their own actions, ignore how God sees their actions, and deny their need for forgiveness, God hates their rebellion.  Careful now, I did not say God hates these people.  The difference between unholy and holy hatred, is grace.

God sees people as worth being redeemed.  People see people they hate as beyond redemption.  God sees the actions and attitudes of people as unacceptable, but the people as the very ones He sent His son to die for.  People see hair, hear speech patterns, or observe “tweets” and deem them beyond distasteful, and the person they hate as not worthy of sharing their same air-space.  Hate is a two-edged sword.  More often than not, unless wielded by the Holy God of Creation, it results in damaged relationships at best, or bloodshed and death at its worst.

Let’s not just put another coat of “polish” on how wrong things are in our world today.  Let’s not just dress it up and ubiquitously say “it’s all good,”  because it isn’t.  Some people just need to take a deep breath, calm down, and try listening instead of talking for a change.  More folks out there than I care to think about, need to get their anger and hatred in check before for this gets out of control.

Proverbs 6:16-19
There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him:

Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers.

Anyone else think this is a great image for much of what is happening in the world today?

 

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Worlds Apart

Daily Post:  Distant

distant

Any Star Wars fan worth their salt knows the phrase, “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….”

George Lucas, and John Williams are creative geniuses, each in their own field of work.  Lucas captured our minds with outrageous new creatures and the use of computer generated imagery (CGI), while Williams captured our emotions and visceral imaginations with the sound track.  From the evil Imperial March track associated with the dark side of the Empire, and Darth Vader’s breathing apparatus, to the CGI hyper-speed jumps of the Millennium Falcon, this original 1977 movie took us to places we could not conjure in our own imaginations.

I have always loved science fiction, does anyone out there remember “Danger! Will Robinson!”?  Today’s offerings in the genre of science fiction, now 40 years removed from the Jedi Master and the Force, continue to capture our thoughts about the reality of space travel, and what lies beyond our world.  As of March 27 of this years, NASA continues on it’s plan to send humans to the Red Planet sometime in the 2030’s.  That’s 13 years from now folks.  Is this reality?  Could this actually happen?

My thoughts are mixed from a spiritual standpoint.  Nothing about my 1960’s faith allowed for the concept of traveling through space.  That said, I’m now 63 years old, and I’ve witnessed the evolution of technologies that not only could I not have envisioned as a child, I was an actual part of the early pioneer work of establishing the capability of  data communication over cellular devices.  (Translation:  Texting, emailing, tweeting, etc on the cell phone)  What a ride!

Will the Creator allow humanity to make this great voyage into the unknown of space?  There is nothing Biblically that either allows or forbids this possibility.  In fact, it is pure speculation on the part of any biblical scholar who takes a dogmatic stand one way or the other.  In the area of predicting the future, God gives us the plan for the end of human history.  But what’s missing in the information is when this might occur, and God hasn’t enlightened us or hinted to us anything in terms of concrete, hard-and-fast time tables.  He doesn’t tell us year, month, day, hour, or minute… so ANYONE who tells you they know, is a false prophet. Trust me, they don’t know.

That said, it is just as easy for me to believe that space travel is in the very near future for many people.  If you are 20 years old and dreaming of flying in a real live spaceship, your odds are pretty good, if God allows us to exist another 100 years.  The ancients, the Old Testament authors, could only see the stars and marvel at the existence.  The New Testament authors, wrote of the Magi being led by a star to the place where the Son of God was born, in Bethlehem.  Outside of these references, what would ever cause us to think that these men understood our world today, from 2,000 years in the past?  Enter John the apostle.

Not only did John see things he simply couldn’t explain or describe adequately, some of the things he saw, Jesus specifically said not to write down in his book called The Revelation.  We can’t possibly know all that will happen in our world, or this galaxy before God says “enough is enough.”  Perhaps that won’t even happen until we’ve explored other worlds within our galaxy, or beyond.  The longer it takes for God to fulfill the words of His prophets, the more people on this planet will continue to say, “Why hasn’t God come back for us yet?  What is He waiting on?  If there really is a God!”

So I leave you with these distant thought from the past.  The passage of time does not negate their truthfulness, so be careful about measuring prophecy against the element of time.  If God says it will happen, then it will happen.

2 Peter 3:9
The LORD is not slow about His promise, as some esteem slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

Isaiah 55:11
So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.

John 14:2
In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.

So… go be light and salt today, bringing God great glory, experiencing His grace in everything you do!  Live in the reality of these yet distant promises.

 

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Mythology and Make-believe

Daily Post:  Imaginary

imaginary

I know for a fact that truth is stranger than fiction.  All the tall tales about dragons and unicorns combined are not as strange as the continuing saga that is Hillary Clinton’s loss in the election.  People’s imaginations, including Hillary’s, have run wild, dreaming up all the reasons why President Trump won, and the list grows every day.  Two days ago Mark Steyn sat in for Rush Limbaugh and discussed how Hillary now blames the “Content Farmers” for her loss.  I thought He was making this up.  And in fact, he was being sarcastically funny, but the fact is she said it.  She’s blamed the Russians, the FBI director, the DNC, former President Obama, Anti-American “forces”, low-information voters, high-information voters, stupid Republicans, Bernie sanders, incompetent pollsters, rural women, misogynists, suburban women, the New York Times, Fox news, and fake news.  She blames social media, Facebook, Twitter, and yes, “content farms.”  At a tech conference in Silicon Valley on Wednesday this week she said, “The other side was using content that was just flat-out-false, and delivering it in a very personalized way, both sort of above the radar screen and below.”  Read the article, click here.  In the end she basically said if only stupid people had voted for her, she would be in the Oval.  Here’s the thing, I’m not stupid.

Do you know what a content farmer is?  Here is the formal definition in Wikipedia:

In the context of the World Wide Web, a content farm (or content mill) is a company that employs large numbers of freelance writers to generate large amounts of textual content which is specifically designed to satisfy algorithms for maximal retrieval by automated search engines.

I didn’t make this up.  There are real companies, with real people, who do nothing but sit at computers all day long, cranking out large volumes of articles a day, (4,000 a day is not uncommon).  The content of these articles is low quality, written with the specific intent of being discovered by search engines, to improve their rankings and move them to the top in rankings.  Hillary is suggesting that the DNC and Trump campaign used these companies to skew the election in some way.  Now that’s what I call a vivid imagination.

It’s always easier to blame someone else, or something else, for our failures isn’t it.  I find it fascinating that in all of this nonsense, and the huge list of people to blame for her loss, there is not one mention that it could even remotely be her fault.  It is beyond reason or imagination in her mind that she should have lost, so it had to be someone else who caused it.

Is there a lesson here for the common man and woman in the world today?  You betcha.

We all make mistakes, some bigger than others, some on a grand blunderous scale.  When you do, or when I do, let’s simply own it.  Let’s just admit, “my bad”, take our lumps and try not to repeat the blunder.  Imagining all the reasons or people to blame for our blunders doesn’t make it true.  This reasoning makes it mythology or make-believe.

Now for the truly frightening aspect of what happens when we don’t just ‘fess up.  We will someday stand before a Creator-God who will be all too well-informed with all our blunders.  He will have full knowledge of just how wrong we are, and when we try to make excuses, or blame someone or something else for our mess-ups, He will not have any of it.  Imaginary phrases like “the devil made me do it,” will not work with Him either.  Let’s at least be honest and admit what the Bible states all too clearly.

Romans 3:23
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 5:8
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 10:9-10
If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

Whatever you do, don’t be like Hillary Clinton, finding no fault in herself, and only blaming everyone else around her for her own failures.  Own it.  We are not perfect people and we fail miserably many times.  Admit to yourself and to God, you aren’t everything God designed the perfect human to be.  There was only one perfect human and we are not Him.  But He came, Jesus came, so we could be in right relationship to the God of the universe and our Creator.

Paul was more than just a low-quality content farmer.  His writings are more than just mythology and make-believe.  The apostle Paul was called to preach and teach and write the very words of God to us today.  Don’t be led astray by the mindless meanderings of those who think themselves God’s gift to the planet.

There is only one Gift – His name is Jesus.

 

 

 

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Ostentatious Warmmagedon Nonsense

Daily Post: Brassy

brassy

Let’s begin today with a definition of “climate change”:

“A change in global or regional climate patterns, in particular a change apparent from the mid to late 20th century onwards and attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels.” (Google)

Dean Burnett wrote an excellent article titled “Climate change is an obvious myth – how much more evidence do you need?”  While Burnett takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to his debasing of those who buy into the whole climate change agenda, he isn’t that far off in my humble opinion.  President Trump’s announcement that the US will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, is not a bad thing, it’s a good thing.  Hollywood do-nothing’s attitudes and caustic condemnations aside, there are things we can know about our future, emphasis on future.

Will the earth at some point in the future heat up to 7 times hotter than what the temperature on the planet is today.  You Bet!  Want the proof?  Revelation 16:8-9:

The fourth angel poured out his bowl upon the sun, and it was given to it to scorch men with fire.  Men were scorched with fierce heat; and they blasphemed the name of God who has the power over these plagues, and the did not repent so as to give Him glory.

This one verse describes a time in the future of mankind when God has had enough of all this nonsense, and determines to give all of humanity 7 years to come to the point of surrender to His Lordship.  It’s called the Tribulation.  It’s well documented in a book we call the Bible.  Yet, if it was only this one passage that described this heat change, I might be a little more skeptical.  But Old Testament prophets also wrote of this future event.

Malachi 4:1
“For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze,” says the LORD of hosts, “so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.”

Isaiah 24:4-6
The earth mourns and withers, the world fades and withers, the exalted of the people of the earth fade away.  The earth is also polluted by its inhabitants, for they transgressed laws, violated statutes, broke the everlasting covenant.  Therefore, a curse devours the earth, and those who live in it are held guilty. Therefore, the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men are left.

Isaiah 30:26
The light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven days, on the day the LORD binds up the fracture of His people and heals the bruise He has inflicted.

So here’s the thing…

You know the phrase “self fulfilling prophecy?”  Here are some quotes from the elitist West Coast entertainment mindset regarding President Trump’s decision:

  • Josh Gad tweeted: “Our children & our grandchildren have all just been handed a dark future because of a man who tweets at 3:00 AM & doesn’t ‘trust’ science.”
  • Cher posted a brassy rant, where she suggests we are being “held hostage by Insane DICTATOR.”
  • Don Cheadle took another approach bringing President Trump’s son, Barron, into the mix: “If you care about your kids maybe reconsider your #ParisAgreement decision. Barron will thank you when he sees you, whenever that is.”
  • Leonardo DeCaprio seemed devastated and tweeted: “Today our planet suffered.”

Oh listen ya’ll.  If people like these morons who live off “the art of entertainment” are entrusted with our future, then the above scriptures will come true a lot sooner than you think.  The simple truth is that all the nonsense we’ve been hearing for the last 50 years hasn’t changed our planet nearly as much as what is in store for us when God says, “enough is enough.”

I hope you didn’t miss the truth revealed in the Revelation passage.  It will be because ungodly men and women refuse to recognize God’s sovereign authority, and choose to rebel against Him, and not give Him glory…. that will cause the climate change everyone is so up in arms about today.

For my part, I’m glad we’re out of the climate business, and the Paris accord.  Now can we get back to the business of living our lives in a way that brings God glory?  Please?

 

 

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Dispensations

Daily Post: Portion

At age 14, most kids are are graduating from one era of childhood to another, by leaving the Jr. High, or Middle School dispensation, and moving on up to where they are low rung on the ladder in High School.  It is a difficult and stressful time, but it is also a completely normal process, those who have gone before have survived easily.  No so for Carson Huey-You.  In May this year, this 14-year-old graduated form Texas Christian university with a physics degree.  And oh, by the way, Carson’s brother is enrolled as a freshman (age 11) at the university as well.  This is not a normal dispensation.  Certainly the minds of some of these brilliant kids works differently than other “normal” children.  But I have to believe their social life is also very different from others when it comes to forming relationships and bonding with their peers.  They have none.

Dispensation is the act of distributing or supplying portions of something.  A simple example might be that God in His wisdom, doled out a portion of average intelligence to most 14-year-old kids, but Carson and his brother received a special dispensation.  In some ways I would have liked to have had this dispensation.  I would have liked to be a better student, learn quicker, become wiser and act wiser.  But hey, I’m still here and wouldn’t change some of my normal “experiences” for all the money in the world.

We talk often about God’s plan for human life, or more specifically that He has a plan for your life, personally.  Yet it’s hard sometimes to understand where all this is going.  How does my one measly little life make a difference in the real world, and God’s master plan?  To answer these kinds of questions requires a larger view.  One for which I often get criticized, but there you go, not all of us agree on everything all the time, right?  In order to see where you and I fit in, I go back to the big picture which some have called “Dispensationalism.”

Simply put, this view sees the history of man through “ages” or “eras” where God revealed certain parts of the overall plan for human history.  The ages are in order, portioned out over time, and include:  innocence, conscience, government, promise, law, grace, tribulation, millennial kingdom, and eternity. [see image below]

 

dispensations

In this way, everything from innocence to law points to Jesus Christ on the cross.  Until Christ returns to earth at the end of the tribulation, everything points back to the cross.  The whole history of mankind is about revealing Jesus Christ as the Son of God.  The ancients had to discover over time through these different eras, that God was sovereign and in control of all things.  Then, at just the right time, Christ dies for all of us.  We now live in a time some have called the “church” age (grace), and some also believe it is a time that is rapidly coming to a close.  How could they know this?  In this image there are no time stamps indicating how long or how short each of these periods is supposed to be.  That coupled with the fact that God has more patience than any human can understand, lends to the understanding you can’t box God into time frames.  And that’s not even the real question is it?  The question is, “where am I on this timeline, and what should I be doing?”

We live in the age of GRACE.  “Unmerited favor” is a term often used for trying to grasp the importance of the idea.  We do not deserve God’s love, yet He loves us still, and wants us to live in, and experience His grace, every single day.  He wants us to live in such a way that during this age of grace, we bring glory to His name every day we are alive.  In this way, He can use us to bring others to saving faith for the very first time in their lives.  There are three more dispensations to come:  tribulation, millennial kingdom, and eternity.  God isn’t slow, but He doesn’t rush ahead either.  In His perfect timing one age will end, and the next will begin.

Today I would ask that you “stay in the frame” as Len likes to saying on Dancing with the Stars.  Stay focused on who you are in Christ, and where you are today.  Determine to make a difference in someone’s life today.  Offer them a portion grace; the same grace that God offered you.  Dispense grace.

Ephesians 4:32
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ has also forgiven you.

 

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Tracing in the Sands of Time

Daily Post:  Trace

trace

Jeffrey Deaver has written 13 novels about Lincoln Rhyme, a former NYPD Homicide Detective turned Forensic Consultant, who left the NYPD when he became a quadriplegic after an accident on the job.  Partnering with Amelia Sachs, a former model turned investigator now working with NYPD, she tall, fast driving, nail biting detective “walks the grid” in search of trace evidence to solve complex crimes.  The science behind Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) is not fiction however. This process involves meticulous observation and documentation of the scene – photography, identification of physical evidence and collecting it, including fingerprints, footwear impressions, hair, fibers, biological fluids, and DNA for analysis.  All this information combined with careful reasoning of the facts surrounding the crime, often aid in solving the “who done it,” which makes fiction authors so famous.  “Stranger than fiction?”  Often not, in real life.

There is one mystery today that remains solved but unresolved, for those who study the facts of it.  Since we only have trace evidence in the matter, and that only a smattering of documentation compared to what is being collected at crimes scenes today, we must trust in the veracity of said documentation.  The narrative is as old as time itself, in terms of motive.  The scene of the crime was one of power, and an expression of what happens when you cross the sovereignty of the State.  The characters in the story are countless, including perhaps on some level all of mankind itself.  The weapons, still not in evidence today: three nails and a spear.

The Jewish leadership determined that rather than let the people perish at the hand of a hostile Roman overlord, which they deemed would occur if something wasn’t done, agreed to hand over Jesus Christ of Nazareth as their sacrificial lamb, in an effort to restore sanity back to heir jurisdiction.  The puppet king Herod, laughed his way through the proceedings, expecting Jesus to perform miracles to entertain him.  The powerless procurator, Pilate, tried cunningly to outwit the Jewish high priests, but in the end came up with a plan to free Jesus, whom he thought was an innocent, which backfired, releasing the murderous Barabbas instead.

In the end, not only Judas, but all of Jesus’ closest followers ran from his arrest and hid themselves.  Historically the brutality of crucifixion is well documented through secular documents as well as the Bible.  The horrific nature of this kind of death, and the reasons why the Roman government employed it, are not lost at all.  Yet the mystery remains unresolved in many people today.

Some read the story as a fictional narrative, believing in their hearts that most of it is made up, just like Noah’s Ark, the crossing of the Red Sea, or the walls of Jericho crumbling to the ground.  All we have left of any of these stories is the trace evidence.  A document which has lasted so long as a validated, historically accurate, evidentiary exhibit, that the truths it holds cannot be challenged.  When God documented what he determined would happen, it happened.  Including offering up His own Son, His only Son, as a sacrifice for the Sin of the world.

Yet the mystery remains.  Why?

Why would God, “so love the world?”
Why would God see this death as the only way to redeem us?
Why would Jesus allow Himself to be used in this way?
Why?

We could search for the rest of our natural lives to answer this question, but human minds cannot reason with the unmistakable truth of it all:

Romans 5:6
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

Why did He do it?  He did it for me.

Why did He do it?  He did it for you.

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Big Bang Blasts

Daily Post:  Detonate

Detonate

Many scholars and scientists have debated the common belief that the residents in Pompeii were killed by the falling ash and gasses emanating from the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D.  It is now being suggested, when the top of this mountain detonated under tremendous pressure, the people of Pompeii were instantly killed by a pyroclastic cloud surging down the mountain carrying the volcano’s lethal temperatures.

Archeologists have discovered skeletons in underground cavities formed by hardened ash.  When injected with plaster, these cavities are used as molds to recreate the bodies’ positions at the instant of death.  This process seemed to prove the early ideas promoted by Pliny the Younger who described the eruption as he watched it happen from the other side of the Gulf of Naples.

Vesuvius is still classified as an active volcano, and authorities within the Italian Civil Protection suggest that based on the population within just 10 kilometers (6.2 miles is the city of Naples) should the mountain detonate again in the manner of 79 A.D. at least 3 million people would be at risk.  What a horrifying thought.  These facts give us pause, and yet, seemingly it is not a stimulus for people to move away from the mountain and out of harms way.  Those refusing to leave the danger zone today while the volcano remains dormant, are neither stubborn, rebellious, or lunatics.  They are just people who weigh their choices and have decided they don’t want to leave their homes, their heritage, or their loved ones, just to avoid something that might not happen again in the next 2,000 years.

You may live on a street where nothing much ever happens.  You may have a life where the detonation of disease, destruction or death has not touched you personally, but you would be unique if this is so.  It doesn’t take a volcano to destroy lives.  In fact dissolving relationships, cancer, car accidents, guns or random IED’s used by terrorist today can change people’s lives in a heart beat.  We can’t move away from most of what “could” happen to any of us, at any time.  We can’t relocate to some remote island, which by the way, might just be a dormant volcano.  So what’s a person to do, when life detonates around you?

The song from my childhood comes to mind:

Trust and Obey.

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

[refrain]
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.

And what happens if the detonation – the Big Bang Blast – brings death and destruction, what then?

Then in fellowship sweet, we will sit at His feet
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go:
Never fear, only trust and obey.

[refrain]
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

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Emanating His Eminence

Radiate

radiate

Emerging from my slumber, and after an invigorating hot shower and shave, I’ve sat at my computer early this morning, pondering today’s word, “radiate.”  Going through my normal routine and practices of inspiration for writing, I stumbled over this image.  Right about now, I’m not necessarily feeling all that energetic.  However, as I examine my activities for yesterday’s article, and how it began with a thought, was energized and amplified by my emotions, the momentum carried through in writing the article.  Which happens regularly for me during these morning meditations.  If you missed yesterday, click here.

Everything is energy beginning with thought.  If this is true, then don’t the words of Scripture just leap right out of these words and into your minds?  Let me help you.

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

When I’m caught up in the truth of who God is, [He is LORD], and think on all His attributes [see verse above], I’m often overcome with emotion.  Some have called this weakness, or not very manly.  I was often looked on with condescension in Seminary by those who took a more stoic approach to interpreting scripture, or preaching the grace of God.  I just didn’t get that.  I couldn’t understand how someone in the face of it all, could be so emotionless about the eminence and grace of God.  I found myself smiling and the simple phrase came back to me: “God is good all the time.  And all the time God is good!”  These words can fuel a person’s energy in unlimited ways, because with this truth nothing can stop His goodness.

The Lord Jesus Christ is excellent and praiseworthy!  He is true (truth itself – His claim), noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable.  So, here’s the thing…  where is the glory of his eminence today?

What is going on with those of us who call ourselves Christians, that the world is not compelled to come to this same experience?  Is the power of the god of this world, Satan, so strong that he is capable of holding back the forces which Jesus said even the gates of hell couldn’t prevent? (Matthew 16:18)  Perhaps the problem is as simple as the interpretation of this one verse.  Some churches and some preachers have the interpretive mentality that the church is a fortress, and there should be gates to keep the heinous out, to protect the innocent (saved) inside.  They see the verse saying the church is being attacked and standing strong against an evil army.  While the fact of it may be true, this verse isn’t saying that.

However, this interpretation is the very antithesis of what Jesus meant.  We are the army, and we should be on the front-lines of the battle.  It is the very core meaning of the last instructions Jesus gave His followers:  go make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20).  Actually in the original language it says, “As you are going…make disciples” which means every single day of the rest of your life, the job is to emanate His eminence.  The energy placed inside of you at salvation, fueled by emotion (dedication), and amplified into action, gains momentum as you seek to think daily on God’s attributes and Lordship. This energy should transform you into a beacon of hope to a lost and dying world. (Matthew 5:16)

Doesn’t this sound like something worth pursuing?  Are you doing anything today?  If you are let me ask you, “why?”  Have you given any thought to the energy you will expend, and whether or not it might have eternal value?  Whatever you do today, I’m sure will be important, or you wouldn’t plan to be involved.  The question is…

While going and doing today, will you emanate His eminence?

 

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My Mother’s Ice Tea: Infused with Grace

Daily Post : Infuse

Well, another Memorial Day weekend brings with it the heat of summer in Texas.  On those blustery sand filled days in West Texas when I was growing up, one of my strongest memories is my mother’s brewed sweet iced tea.  It was heaven on earth to me, so thirst quenching and delicious.  Even now, some 34 years since she’s graduated to heaven, when I’m at a restaurant that mimics this nectar even close to what she did, I smile and think of her.

When I was about ten years old, my dad worked for El Paso Natural Gas, doing shift work, days, evenings, or what they called the “grave yard” shift.  When dad worked “days” one of us kids would take his lunch to him in a lunch pail, along with a quart jar of mom’s best tea.  One day it was my turn, and I remember it like it was yesterday.  Remember now, I was just a young kid, but that day was a day of great import for me.  It must have been 100 degrees at a minimum, I thought I was late because my mom had said “hurry up son, your dad will be waiting.” I began to run, a 10-year old’s run. And wouldn’t you know it… I stumbled… fell… and that quart jar of tea burst into a shattered puddle of mud on the parched earth beneath.  I just knew my dad would be furious, and I began to weep.

Picking myself up, I ran own, and he saw me coming, smiling that “dad” smile. Then he saw that I was crying and asked what happened.  Of course I told him of my failure to bring the tea, and then my dad wrapped those huge loving arms around me and said, “son, it’s ok.”  He took me over to the “coke machine” and bought us both a soft drink.  We sat together and he had his lunch and told me that we all fall down sometimes.  We can’t let it get to us, we just have to get up, and go again.  At that moment I believed my dad could fix anything, but mostly he demonstrated in a tangible way, something missing in this world today.  Grace is looking past someone’s failure, and offering them acceptance, love, forgiveness and mercy, even if they don’t deserve it.

Did I drop the tea on purpose, no.  Was I acting out in rebellion, no.  Could I have held it tighter, perhaps.  Regardless, of what caused me to stumble, whether I was running too fast, or there was a bump I didn’t see, the tea was lost.  But I was found.  My dad found me crying, and he soothed me with his grace.  He offered to give me a drink, which probably cost him his afternoon break drink.  He was in that moment everything I knew about God Himself.  It was for me then, and it continues to be for me now, a great example of a father’s love.

John 3:16
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but shall have eternal life.

My Hope and Stay

Daily Post: Reprieve

Going on vacation is fun at times in the sense that you get to stay in places, new and different from your permanent dwelling place.  Remembering my views from the window of the condo in Colorado, or the balcony view of the ocean from a ship, are wonderful images I conjur up when anticipating my next trip.  I’m looking forward to some golf in Florida this summer, and maybe some scenic excursions to examine the fall foliage in New England this fall.  As though I needed a reprieve from what I consider a pretty full and wonderful life, which is laughable, I still enjoy the opportunity to see places I’ve never been before.

In these glimpses into the future, I see the chance to engage in discovery, and a hope of future experiences, sites, sounds, and tastes that are not necessarily a part of my normal everyday existence.  Alas there are times when traveling that doesn’t quite measure up to the expectations we have at the outset.  Recently on a more regional trip in my area, we were hungry and decided rather than opting for the very available fast food along the highway, that we would stop into a local cafe for lunch.  All I can say is, it was food and fuel for the rest of our trip.  One of the items listed on the appetizer section of the menu was, “Can of Soup.”  We both looked up from the menu and laughed out loud.  Wondering if I would indeed be up all night after that meal, it turns out we suffered no ill effects, and had a great experience (laughing) the whole time.

In a few hours I’ll be heading back to my residence.  There my daily life’s filled with  writing, cooking, reading, playing golf, and pursuing my next adventure.  I’ve been released into a life of joy and happiness which has eluded me for the most part.

Today, I’m grateful for all things bright and beautiful, for the joy of living, and for the hope I have found in Jesus Christ alone.  He is my hope and stay.

Hebrews 6:19

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil.

Enduring to Exist Eternally

Daily Post: Survive

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I have never previously been a big fan of the current trend of “reality” TV.  Big Brother, the Bachelor, Dancing with the Stars, and Survivor were not part of my television regimine.  Over the past twelve months I’ve watched far more of these shows than in past years, but have to say that I’m still not comfortable with the format.  For the most part, each of these shows becomes at some stage in the program, nothing more than a popularity contest.  Sure, some contain at least an element of skill sets, pitted against the other “contestants.”  What I find most difficult is dealing with those shows which have “scheming deceit” as a primary element determining the winner.

What are we teaching the young people of our world, when a person can say “100% on your team” directly to another person’s face, all the while knowing it is nothing but 100% fictitious lies?  Is this really what we want our kids thinking is normal relationship communication?  Is our world really this far out of whack?

Maybe it is just my age, yes I’m over 60 now, but I don’t remember a time in my pre-adult years when someone would ever blatantly tell me it’s ok to lie.  Even worse, the scheming, conniving mindset of the players on most of these shows, is driven by money.  It is a game, and the winner of the game, in the end gains a financial reward for being the best at crafting his speech to suit his/her agenda, behaving in unconscionable ways, sometimes with a great deal of malice and forethought.  But it makes for great ratings, and more commercial advertising for the media, so who cares right?

It seems at times to me that I must simply endure the incredible nonsense around me, just to continue my journey toward existing eternally.  I know and believe with all my soul, that this world was not designed to operate on the principles of deceitful scheming and lies.  I know and believe that the designers of these “games” or “programs” have been deceived by the Father of Lies.  It is so clear that the motivation to pursue money, and do whatever it takes to win, comes not from God, but from the Deceiver.  But I must endure these shows here and now, because mine is an eternal existence.

The image above is of a man in a wilderness setting finding life through the water captured by this leaf.  What a great illustration of the free gift of life, offered to us in the Living Water.  One day Jesus sat down at a well and to have a conversation with a woman who was a survivor.  She had several past husbands, and the current live-in wasn’t her husband at all.   This was disclosed to her by Jesus to demonstrate that He knew things about her without her having to verbalize them.  Because they were at this well, naturally the conversation centered on water.  Jesus suggested that he could offer her a water that would quench her thirst for eternity.

Was Jesus just playing games?  Was He being deceitful so He could use this woman in some way?  No.  Truth for many folks truly is stranger than fiction at times, and this certainly sounded strange to her.  Did this woman want this water.  Sure.  She said so, in clear and concise words, since she was tired of coming to that same old well every day for water.  Watch the truth emerge from Jesus’ next statement:

John 4:14
… whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.

Surviving this life, and not just this one, but into the next one in eternity, requries that we take a long, deep drink from the well of living water.  At some point we have to grow up and learn that it isn’t always about money, power, clothes, cars, portfolios, or influence.  Eternity isn’t about winning some popularity contest.  Your eternal destination is based on your responses to the clear and vibrant life giving water offered by Jesus Christ Himself.

John 14:6
I am the way, the truth, and the life; and not one comes to the Father but through me.

If you want to survive this world’s mess, then this verse is something you can take to the bank – 100%

 

 

 

Cranky Doesn’t Cover It

Cranky

fork in the road

It seems to me that some people become irritable and ill-tempered over such petty or pathetic reasons.  I mean, I get that if you miss a meal you might be a little hungry and that makes you a little angry, so you end up being “hangry.”  Been there, done that.  I get that if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your brain can keep misfiring, and coherency and communication end up being tossed out the window like the proverbial bathwater. However, the eccentric and strange culmination of “cranky” that is seen so predominate today, seems inbred into a culture of “I want it my way, and I want it now.”

This is a problem not unique to the human creature, an Arch-angel apparently suffered from this kind of cranky malady first.  The Bible tells us that for some reason being beautifully made, being one of the most powerful creatures ever made, wasn’t really good enough for Lucifer.

God used the Prophet Isaiah, speaking a prophecy regarding the king of Babylon, to metaphorically describe what happened in heaven before the earth was created, and what will happen when Satan is finally defeated.

In eternity past…

Isaiah 14:12-15

How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations! But you said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north.  I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”  Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit.

Satan seemed a little cranky about his station in life, sound familiar?  So he set out to take from God that which he had no right to take.  Power and glory are base desires of creatures who want to be God, but will never be Him. So what happens in the future when God is done with all this crankiness?

Some future date…

Isaiah 14:9-11

Sheol from beneath is excited over you to meet you when you come; it arouses for you the spirits of the dead, all the leaders of the earth; it raises all the kings of the nations from their thrones.  They will all respond and say to you, “Even you have been made weak as we, you have become like us.  Your pomp and the music of your harps have been brought down to Sheol; maggots are spread out as your bed beneath you and worms are your covering.”

Now that is a nasty sight.  But what can we learn from such a story, such an image?

Yogi Berra was giving Joe Garagiola directions from New York to Yogi’s house in Monclair when he said:  “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”  He explained later that it simply didn’t matter which route a person took on the road, left or right, each fork lead to his house.

Perhaps the lesson here is that God created us to have a relationship with Him.  Lucifer/ Satan was created to live in a certain relationship with God the Creator as an archangel.

All relationship roads lead to God.

When we choose to live according to the path He set for us, living in such a way as to glorify the Creator, we end up in right relationship with God and are rewarded eternally in heaven.  However, if we so choose, we can live instead, by taking another fork on the road.  Thinking all the time the pursuit of things that I want, and wanting them now, doesn’t really matter.  The fact is, that path too leads to God, just in a way we wouldn’t expect, because mostly our desires have blinded us.

Revelation 20:11-15

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.  And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.  Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.  This is the second death, the lake of fire.  And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Cranky doesn’t begin to cover it, when we see what the Bible says God’s response is to those who follow Satan’s rebellion, and want to go down whatever path they choose to improve their station in life.

Cranky?  Please?!  All our paths lead to God, and there is only ONE WAY (path) on which to go, and not expect to experience God’s cranky side.

Jesus said:

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

 

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