Thursday, April 30, 2009

God Doesn’t Fear Us!

If you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. Like the nations the LORD destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the LORD your God.

Deuteronomy 8:19-20

As I write this there is a national news story in the U.S. about a 79 year old politician changing political parties. It really doesn’t matter which party he is leaving or which one he is joining, it is truly pathetic. Why would a politician after a lifetime of espousing one political philosophy suddenly turn to another one that is very different? Reports say that he feels threatened by what the polls say about his prospects for victory in the next election.

Why would a nation which inscribed on its money “In God We Trust” abandon God after more than 200 years and proclaim to the world that “We are not a Christian nation?”

That statement which came from the mouth of the President of the United States is an official proclamation to God that His help is not wanted or needed.

Immediately after the 911 attacks the Congress stood on the steps of the Capitol building and sang “God bless America.” Apparently such a “religious show” would not be tolerated today if such an attack occurred again.

Deuteronomy 8 clearly says that God does destroy nations for not obeying Him. Are we on His list to bless or destroy?

The problems we are in today are not ones of social policy, fiscal policy or political orientation. If we were still a “God fearing” nation then adjusting our policies might solve our problems.

The shocking bottom line to our situation is this:


And hang on for your life, because ---


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

This is the Day?

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.

2 Peter 3:10

Almost forty years ago a thief broke into our house while my wife and I and our two very young children were all asleep. He came in the middle of the night without any warning, gathered what he wanted and left. The things that he took were not very valuable, but the peace of mind that was gone the next morning was significant. A few days later I had a dream that he was breaking back into our house. I was in a state of panic when I woke up.

When Jesus comes back to this earth He will come like a thief. He will not come to steal or destroy, but He will come without warning just like a thief.

If the Lord came to you today and said, “I am going to tell you the day and the hour when I will return, but you cannot tell anyone else,” what would you do with that information? Let’s pretend He told you that His return will be tomorrow at 7:33 pm (EST). So now that you know exactly when the Lord will return you can choose where you will be and what you will be doing when the trumpet sounds for His return.

I would start by making a list of the things that I would not be doing. I would not be upset and angry. I would not be working on paying bills. I would not be sitting in a movie theater trying to escape to an imaginary reality for ninety minutes. I would not be depressed. What is there to be depressed about if Jesus is about to return within the hour?

I suppose if I knew that Jesus would return and I knew exactly when, I would be sitting in a beautiful garden with my wife and my Bible. We would be praising the Lord and praying. And then He would come! Wow what a perfect picture!

There is no one who will know precisely the day or hour. Consequently I need to fill each and every moment with thoughts and deeds that would be appropriate for the Lord’s return. I need to keep this filter in my mind in place: “If Jesus returns while I am doing this, saying this, thinking this how would I feel about that?” Those actions, words and thoughts that would not be appropriate for the time of Jesus’ return need to be eliminated from my life.

Secret sin must be banished. In reality there is no such thing as secret sin, just ask Adam and Eve.

To live ready for His return means to live without doubt and fear.

In a few years at most I will suddenly be aware of the presence of the Lord Jesus. Either He will have come here or I will have gone there.

Lord, help me live today so that I can raise my hands, shout with joy and welcome You if this is the day of Your return!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Don’t Wait for a Dream!

"So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?"
1 Kings 3:9 (NASB)

When Solomon asked for wisdom instead of riches, it was while he was asleep. Go back and read it for yourself. God appeared to Solomon in a dream and Solomon’s response, that so pleased the Lord, was while he was asleep. I have always felt that I am not responsible for my actions in dreams. I mean, come on, it is not really happening. So how can I be held accountable for my actions in a dream? If I were to dream about doing something illegal no policeman is going to show up at my door the next morning to arrest me.

The sobering truth found in 1 Kings 3 is that God can communicate with us in dreams and we can communicate with Him in dreams. When that happens God takes the communication very seriously and can reward us for our response to Him.

Look at what Solomon asked God to give him during the dream. Solomon asked for wisdom, but specifically to be able to discern between good and evil. What a remarkably simple request, but at the same time it is profound. When I was a child I remember that it was important for me to learn the difference between good and evil. In fact, knowing the difference between right and wrong was the fundamental mark of an adult. In the movies the “good guy” always prevailed no matter how difficult the struggle. It was generally recognized that everyone wanted to be good and that it was only the rare exception when a person desired to do evil.

If tonight while you sleep, the Lord appears to you and asks you what you desire, how would you answer that question? How far down on your list would be the ability to discern between good and evil?

Don’t wait for a dream.

“Lord You are the source of every good and perfect gift. I ask You now to give me the gift of being able to see the difference between good and evil. Today help me to look at every situation and clearly know whether or not it is “right” or “wrong.” Help me know the difference between right and wrong that I may be able to go through this day without a word, a thought, or an action that offends You!”

Monday, April 27, 2009

Run Toward Goliath!

“Everybody here will see that the LORD doesn't need swords or spears to save his people. The LORD always wins his battles, and he will help us defeat you.”

1 Samuel 17:47

These are the last words Goliath ever heard on this earth. Verses 48-49 describe the attack David made on Goliath.

“When Goliath started forward, David ran toward him. He put a rock in his sling and swung the sling around by its straps. When he let go of one strap, the rock flew out and hit Goliath on the forehead. It cracked his skull, and he fell face down on the ground.”

God used the weapon of a shepherd boy to bring down a giant. This story has always been an inspiration to men and women who face overwhelming odds. David was the ultimate underdog. He had no chance against Goliath.

So when the giant fell to the earth because of one small stone which hit the precise spot to crack his skull and bring him crashing down, everyone knew that God’s power was at work through David!

The Old Testament records many instances of God fighting with his people and defeating their enemies, but the David and Goliath story stands out above the rest. David was praised after the incident but God was glorified. It was the overwhelming odds that made the difference.

So you want to give glory to God. The best way to glorify God is to allow Him to send you out to face a Goliath. We have come to equate glorifying with “singing.” But when you say “glorify the Lord” in song you are simply encouraging others to “glorify the Lord.” Actually glorifying the Lord puts Him in a position for others to see how great He is. The way to do that is to walk right up to your Goliath and challenge him to his face in the name of the Lord!

The thought is terrifying. The reaction of Goliath is brutal. Goliath will tell me that I am doomed, I won’t live through the day, it’s all over, and I might as well give up and die. But just like David all I must do is pick up one of my small stones and “take my best shot.” Leave the rest to God.

Will my stone always kill Goliath? The answer is no. Will Goliath kill me? Yes, that may happen, but only if God’s glory will be better served by my martyrdom than by a victory over Goliath.

Actually, David did not walk up to Goliath. The Bible says he ran toward him. Most people run away from their Goliath. If you want to be a man or woman of faith, RUN TOWARD GOLIATH!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Free to be a Slave

When I am with the Jews, I live like a Jew to win Jews. They are ruled by the Law of Moses, and I am not. But I live by the Law to win them. And when I am with people who are not ruled by the Law, I forget about the Law to win them. Of course, I never really forget about the law of God. In fact, I am ruled by the law of Christ. When I am with people whose faith is weak, I live as they do to win them. I do everything I can to win everyone I possibly can.

1 Corinthians 9:20-22

One of the privileges of being the father in a family is that you get to make the rules. Successful families are not democracies. In our family there were six children and two adults. If we had operated by the democratic process everything would have fallen apart in only a short time. I know you may be asking “what about your wife?” Well, I am of the very old school of people who believe that it is the father’s responsibility to be the head of the family. I know it is not “PC” but it worked for thousands of years so you will just have to humor me for just the short time I have remaining on this earth.

Now, back to the point. I remember my oldest son accusing me of breaking one of my own rules. I don’t remember which one it was. Oh, I remember which son, but I don’t remember which rule. I’m sure I broke most of them over the years. But it was important for my children to see me following the rules I set for them. Otherwise I would be accused of not “practicing what I preach.”

The apostle Paul says that he lived like the people to whom he preached. That means simply that he followed the rules that had been set up for that culture. Of course he did not participate in something immoral because the culture accepted it, but it does mean that he allowed himself to be constrained by rules that, except for the sake of those to whom he was preaching, would have no importance to Paul. 1 Corinthians 9 even says that Paul did this with people who had weak faith.

So how do you minister to people who have weak faith? The normal human way to address it would be to point out their weaknesses and tell them how wrong they are to believe such things. That approach is wonderful for hardening prejudices and cutting off fellowship and communication.

Paul’s, Spirit led, approach was to live like those people whose faith was weak so that he might win them. Here is a great mystery. Paul, who was very strong in faith could live like he was weak to win others to Jesus.

The bottom line is this: Even though as a child of God I do not have to live by the rules made by men, my love for the lost constrains me to submit myself to those rules that men may be saved.

As a follower of Jesus I must ask myself not what am I free to do, but rather what am I free to give up for the sake of those who do not yet know Him? It’s all a part of living like Jesus did!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Never Consider Your Resume

On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews. For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles.

Galatians 2:7-8

When successful companies place men and women in jobs to help them fulfill their mission resumes are carefully studied to be sure that the best qualified people are employed. People with no previous experience are not employed for pivotal jobs. Human resources departments reject applicants who cannot show a track record in that specific job area.

God would not do well as a human resource director in most corporations. When he picked Peter and Paul for their jobs in the early “Kingdom Growth Project” He sent Peter to the Jews and Paul to the Gentiles. How smart was that? Peter was “uneducated and untrained” according to Acts 4:13. Peter was a Jew but was not honored because of his lack of education and training. Paul on the other hand was at the top of the Jewish flagpole. Would it not have made much better sense to send Peter to the Gentiles where he might be respected and Paul to the Jews where is credentials gave him immediate standing?

These two outstanding examples of God choosing a man for a specific purpose violate common sense. What was God thinking when He sent Peter to the Jews and Paul to the Gentiles?

The answer is clearly this: God’s work is not accomplished by human qualification. He does not depend on what other men think of me. In fact, God often uses men and women who are void of human qualification to accomplish His greatest work. When men and women use their talents and abilities to do God’s work credit for their efforts is often applied to their own account rather than to God.

So when I hear the Lord telling me to do this or that I must never be like Moses who discussed his lack of talents and abilities with God. My talents and abilities are irrelevant. When God wants to use one of His children to part the Red Sea He does not need someone trained in water management.

When you hear His call never consider your resume. When you hear His call, ask yourself “Can God Do This?” If the answer is YES, and it always is, then sit up straight and listen for the Holy Spirit’s direction for the first step. It’s the first step of faith.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Prayer Begins in the Kitchen

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

1 Peter 3:7

How does the way I treat my wife have an impact on my prayers? Many books have been and still could be written about that question. If I don’t treat my wife with consideration and respect my prayers will be hindered. But how and why does that happen?

There was a character in the very old television series “Leave it to Beaver” who is best remembered for his hypocrisy. Eddie Haskell presented himself to Beaver’s parents as the ideally responsible kid. He was not. Frankly, I can still feel some of the negative emotions I had about Eddie Haskell.

When I come “boldly before the throne” with prayers of praise and petition pretending that I am something that I am not, my prayers are hindered. How do you respond when someone tells you a lie and you know for sure that they are lying? Do you listen to and consider the story or request, or do you dismiss the whole communication?

When you talk to God it is impossible to lie and succeed in that lie. It’s like the two year old who is caught with his hand in the cookie jar and yet boldly proclaims “I didn’t do it!”

The problem of hindered prayer is not just for married men, but husbands are notorious for pretending that they treat their wives with consideration and respect when they don’t.

So if you are a husband and want to improve your prayer life there are many good suggestions about a special place, a regular time, using a prayer list, etc. etc. If however I am not considerate of my wife and don’t respect her I come into the presence of the Lord already disqualified to plead my case.

Husbands who want to work on their prayer life should start with cleaning up the kitchen, listening intently to his wife’s concerns, and looking for every opportunity to show her respect. When I do that my prayer life will definitely improve!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

To Act or Be?

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

John 13:34-35

Almost 42 years ago my wife and married in a small church in Lexington, Ohio. It was a sunny December day and as the custom was then we partied for about fifteen minutes after the ceremony before heading off for our life together. The rest of our families stayed behind to celebrate without us.

When we arrived at the Howard Johnson’s Motor Lodge on East Broad Street in Columbus I was trying to be as calm and casual as I could be when I went into the office to get the key to our room. Not that it was obvious enough since I had reserved the “Honeymoon Suite,” but then I reached in my pocket and pulled out my wallet. When I opened it grains of rice came pouring out on the desk. I don’t remember the reaction of the clerk. I just remember how quickly I tried to make my exit with the key.

When newlyweds truly love each other it is quite evident to all who see them together. The great news for my wife and I is that we are still enjoying that relationship after more than four decades together.

Jesus said there is one way to absolutely identify His disciples. That way is by seeing the loving relationship in which they live with each other.

The part of John 13:34 that is difficult to understand is that our love for each other must be like the love that Jesus has for us. It is redemptive love. It is sacrificial love. It is love that will last through eternity. It is love that is not deserved and certainly not completely appreciated. So the love that we have for each other as followers of Jesus tells the story of the love of Jesus all over again. The love of Jesus reproduces itself in all of His followers.

Some question why we as believers need to be in fellowship with other believers. It is truly because only then can we love each other as He loved us.

There was a short chorus that became popular in worship services in the 70’s. It began, “To be like Jesus, to be like Jesus. All I ask to be like Him.”

The words were not “To ACT like Jesus,” but rather “To BE like Jesus.” Followers of Jesus can ACT like Jesus and not BE like Jesus. You can ACT like Jesus without loving other followers. But you cannot BE like Jesus without loving each other.

Loving each other as He loved us is the way the rest of the world will know if we are truly disciples of Jesus.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Did You Die With Him?

For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Colossians 3:3-4

“What happens when we die?” That is a question posed by a small child who is first learning about death. It is also a question posed by the elderly who are approaching that moment in their lives. It is also pondered by everyone in between each time a friend or loved one crosses over that great divide.

Death is monumental in the lives of those of us who are not yet dead, but of course it is of more significance to those who die. When my daughter, Leah died from injuries suffered in a car wreck almost seventeen years ago I remember everything about that day. The images were burned into my brain. The phone call letting us know about the wreck. The frantic trip to the hospital and the excruciating hours of waiting for the news that Leah was dead. Then there were the days, weeks, months and years of adjusting to the fact that our daughter was no longer here.

These verses in Colossians are not talking about physical death. They are referring to our death to the world. When we are born again the old life is no longer there. In a sense Christians believe in re-incarnation. It is not though the same man in a new body, it is rather a new man in the same body.

If I could speak with my daughter Leah and ask her if things are different now that she is dead what would be her answer? Of course things are different for everyone who has crossed over. But what about those who have died to the world?

If I have died to this world and my life is now hidden with Christ in God then what difference does that make in the way I think, act, feel, and live?

When you physically die those who are left are impacted by that death for years. When you die to this world and hidden with Christ those who had been living around you are impacted as well.

We sometimes struggle to give our testimony to the world around us. That is like putting a sign in your casket saying “I am now dead.” I have never seen a corpse in a casket that didn’t look dead. If you are dead to the world, the world will know it. And if you are alive in Christ they will know that as well.

You may have been crucified with Christ but the bigger question is: Did you die with Him, or are you still hanging there holding on to the old life, hoping for resuscitation rather than resurrection.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Peace of God

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:7

The man who knows it all has nothing to learn. The man who is learning is constantly confronted with ideas which he does not understand. Learning is the process by which understanding comes.

Every discipline on this earth demands that understanding finally come to those who expose themselves to its truth. It is essential that understanding arrive before a man can be called competent in his chosen field. Imagine a medical doctor who does not understand what he is doing. That is the man who earns the title of “Quack.”

There is much that I can and must understand about my walk with Jesus. I must understand that He died for me and that my sin is taken away because of His sacrifice. I must understand that I walk by faith and not by sight. I can and must understand the battle that I am in with my own lusts and with Satan Himself as I live on planet earth.

But there is one thing that I receive from God that I cannot understand. God’s peace transcends my understanding. I can understand human peace. There is always a reason behind my peacefulness if it comes from the world around me. I can be at peace because my job is secure, the stock market is rising, my health is good, or my children and grandchildren are all doing well. That peace is not the peace of God. God’s peace is there in spite of the world around me. I can have the peace of God when times are good or bad.

So the world around me looks at my situation and cannot understand why I would be at peace. And frankly, I don’t understand it either. But this I know. The peace of God guards my heart and mind in Christ Jesus. When my heart is tempted to fear and my mind is tempted to worry it is the peace of God that keeps me solidly trusting in Him.

Perhaps when we stand in the presence of Almighty God we will understand His peace, but now we can enjoy the peace of God even though we cannot understand it!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Follow Him!

When Peter saw him, he asked, "Lord, what about him?"
Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me."

John 21:21-22

When my brother and I were young my mother was very careful to see that we were given equal treatment in everything. If my brother received something from our parents, I would receive something of equal value. Christmas presents were always of equal value etc, etc. It seemed an admirable enough practice, especially when I was on the receiving end.

But my wife and I dropped the practice with child number three and pretty much forgot all about it by the time number six arrived in our family. We adopted the “according to your need” theory which is far more practical with half a dozen children.

These verses from John 21 directly follow the poignant conversation between Jesus and Peter about whether or not Peter loved Jesus. Peter had denied Jesus three times and so three times Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him. It must have been really hard on Peter. Then Jesus told Peter about his own death. It was sobering for Peter to say the least. Immediately, Peter looked around and saw “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (we believe it was John) and uttered the words “WHAT ABOUT HIM?”

Many over the centuries have pondered Jesus’ answer. Jesus basically said, “What’s it to you if I let him live until I return?”

Jesus does not give us equal treatment. Our walk with Him is a customized “spiritual workout program” designed especially for our needs. Thus far He has not seen the need for me to sit in a prison in order to glorify Him. I emphasize, “thus far.” I cannot know what my future holds. But I do know, as the song says “who holds my future.”

I think I have spent a lot of time in my life asking the Lord the “What about him” question. It is often phrased as “what about me.” Lord You have blessed this brother or that brother with success in ways that I have always failed. What about me? Lord you have allowed that brother to live without tragedy in his life, but my path has been hard and filled with grief.

I’m sure you get it. God doesn’t deal with me just like He deals with you. As a loving Father He gives me what I need.

I suppose I am old enough now to begin to see wisdom in what God is doing. If God gave me everything He gave everyone else, I would literally be burdened with all the stuff.

Perhaps a good illustration is this: As a child of God I am on a journey from here to eternity. God provides everything I need for the trip, but He doesn’t burden me down with things I don’t need. Picture a man going on a month long trip who rents a truck and loads up all his possessions to carry them with him. How silly is that?

Today as you receive the blessings and burdens from the Lord for the journey don’t look at your brother or sister and ask the “what about him” question. As Jesus said, your job is simply to follow Him!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Time and Eternity

After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: "Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.

John 17:1-5

As a human being I struggle to understand the concept of eternity. What does it really mean for me to have “eternal life?” In fact, one could argue that for someone who had a beginning, I was born on June 28, 1946, never having an end does not qualify for “eternal life” since in 1944 I did not exist in any form. So indeed I may live with Jesus from now on, but does that indeed qualify as “eternal?”

We logically think that time; all time is a little slice of the pie of eternity. We assume that time and eternity are made of the same material and that eternity is just infinitely longer than time. Of course, from our “immersed in time” perspective that may be true, but from the heavenly view time and eternity are not the same.

In these verses Jesus defines eternal life, not by days and dates, but by relationship. “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

That is a “jaw dropper.” Knowing God and Jesus is eternal life. Life eternal begins when you come to know Him. Eternal life is not about length of existence, it is rather about your ongoing connection to Jesus and God.

If you could extend your life to equal the 969 years of Methuselah would that be eternal life?

The best example I know on this earth of the power of relationship over time is the re-union of old friends after years of separation, or time spent by a young couple who are “falling in love.” Hours and hours can pass like a few seconds when the relationship is cherished or precious. And for a married couple satisfied in the joy of their relationship forty years can pass like a day.

When does eternal life begin? It begins each time you enjoy your relationship to the Father through the Son. Enjoy eternal life today as you pray without ceasing.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Meditate on Maturity

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.

Ephesians 4:14-15

The question is asked of every kid at some point in their journey toward adulthood. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” It is all a part of the fantasy world of a child, imagining that he or she is a doctor or a fireman or an airplane pilot, or any of thousands of other possibilities. Those childhood imaginations provide the tenacity and determination for the child to keep focused on the goal for the years it takes to reach it.

A little child is cute and precious but it is certainly a tragedy if the child never grows up. Being a child is only for a short period of time while the process of maturing takes place. Then the child bursts forth on the stage of adulthood and becomes a responsible part of society. Acting like a child when you are old enough to be an adult will at least cause you to be ignored or pitied by others or in the worst case locked up and put away for the safety of us all.

What does the Bible mean when it says we are to “grow up into him?” When we are born again we all begin as spiritual babies. It is cute and precious and part of the normal process of life. There is no set time span for spiritual infancy. But according to Ephesians 4:15 while we are infants we can be tossed about “by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men.”

As a spiritual infant it is easy to grab on to weird doctrinal interpretations and be tossed back and forth by them. But when you have grown up in Jesus it is different.

As children we all meditate on maturity. We think about the time when we will be a “grown-up” and imagine what it will be like. That focus helps us achieve the status of “responsible adult.”

As children of God we should also meditate on maturity. Think about and imagine what it will be like when we are spiritual adults and no longer tossed as children.

The truth is that no matter how spiritually mature we become on this earth we are still infants compared to what we will be like in heaven. I suppose the question is not what you want to be when you “grow up,” but what you want to be when you “GO UP!”

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Carpenter’s Hammer!

The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the LORD.

1 Proverbs 21:31

As a follower of Jesus Christ, my human effort does not determine the outcome of anything. The power of God has veto power over anything I may do, say or even think. How utterly arrogant of me to believe that I can succeed in standing against God’s will in the world around me. I am indeed a leaf blowing in the storm of God’s purpose in the world. I am a snowflake in a blizzard. I am a spark in a forest fire. For me to oppose God is like a raindrop protesting against the flood.

That being said, what is my role in the execution of God’s will in the world? As human beings we desire to make a difference in the world, to be remembered when we leave this earth, to count for something while we are here. We strive to join the list of those who are important to someone for something. I suppose I secretly would like God to turn over to me part of what He wants to accomplish in the world and let me put my hand to it and then take at least some of the credit for it when it is finished. But that is not the way God works! I don’t work for Him, rather He works through me. I serve Him best when I become an empty vessel willing to hold whatever He wants me to hold. I am a tool in His toolbox. I am not God’s handyman.

If you remember the Bill Cosbey television show. Dr. Huckstable would never call for a repairman. He always wanted to do it himself. God is like that. God does His own repair work. When the world needs to be fixed, or reshaped, or disciplined it is God who will do the work. My job is to be clean and standing by at the ready in His tool box so that He may use me as He decides for His eternal purpose.

A hammer on the loose without a carpenter in control will never build a house!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Rest of the Story!

After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.

Acts 1:3

For most of my life I have thought about a question which I have never asked anyone. For me that is rare. This is the question: When Jesus was making His forty days of appearing to His disciples and others after the resurrection what did He do between appearances? There is no record of Jesus staying with anyone overnight. He did spend some time with the two He met on the road to Emmaus but then He disappeared.

There were no “Jesus is alive come and see Him” statements after the resurrection. His appearances were all initiated by Him and choreographed by the Lord Himself. It is easy to see how even those who saw Him might come to believe that the resurrection was simply some kind of a vision and not a real bodily resurrection.

The answer to this dilemma is this: Jesus was not resurrected like His friend Lazarus was resurrected. Lazarus came back to life only to die again. Jesus came back to life never to die again!

The resurrection of Jesus was not a mere mortal having life restored to his dead body. The resurrection of Jesus was the first resurrection like the bodily resurrection His followers will experience when He returns. Jesus was alive again, but He was much more than alive. Jesus was not just alive He was “life.” During those forty days He proved that He was alive, but He also exhibited the fact that He had broken free from the dominance of this physical world over His body. He walked through walls. He disappeared and generally was not constrained by the “laws of nature.”

When the Bible speaks of our resurrection to walk “in newness of life” as we come out of the grave of water that is called baptism are we raised like Lazarus or like Jesus? If we are raised like Lazarus then our new life is temporary and we will once again come under the power of death. If we are raised like Jesus we will never again be “dead men walking” and we will no longer be constrained by the world around us. Does this mean that you will disappear or walk through walls like Jesus did? Well, if God’s purpose for your life will be fulfilled best by your disappearance or by allowing you to walk through a wall, prepare yourself for that experience. Whatever God has planned for you will happen if you continue to submit yourself to His will.

After the resurrection Jesus was different, very different. After your resurrection as a follower of Jesus you too will be different, very different. That is indeed the Rest of the Story!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

How to Fix It!

You may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me." But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth.

Deuteronomy 8:17-18a

Citizens of the United States are quick to brag in the aftermath of tragedy that our strong spirit and determination will get us through and help us to rebuild the lives that were broken in the storm. We believe that we are the smartest, toughest, and most resilient people on earth. We pride ourselves in being able to come back from any recession or even depression and stand again on the stage of world dominance.

But Deuteronomy 8:17-18 speaks the truth about our past successes. Our ability to produce great wealth came directly from God’s favor on us. The reason is not that God’s likes rich people better than poor people or that He wants all of His children to be rich. When a man lives according to the revealed will of God he does those things that bring him abundance. A follower of Jesus Christ is not lazy, unreliable, scatterbrained about his work, or a slacker. He works as if God Himself were his boss. He is not satisfied with a job done “pretty well.” He demands of himself the best. When you have a nation of people with that work ethic they will prosper.

If you know much about workers in the United States today then you know that lazy and unreliable are appropriate descriptions in many instances. Not showing up for work is a big problem. They use their creative energy to figure out how to avoid work rather than how to do it better. Productivity suffers while managers scramble to motivate them to work as if they feared God. Regulations and rules increase while freedoms decline and everyone begins to understand the meaning of disgruntled!

A brief look at history itself will tell you that men and women who recognize and are committed to follow God produce the most wealth. That is where the temptation comes and it comes like a storm. When I look at the wealth God has given me the strength to produce and claim the credit for it myself, then I am mightily tempted to turn from God and go my own way in the belief that I am sufficient to take care of myself.

As a nation the United States is quite guilty of this sin. God who gives the ability to produce great wealth can just as surely take it away. Our riches are irrelevant in the eternal scheme of things, but our relationship with God through Jesus Christ is eternally important.

The world’s economic system is broken because we have all turned away from the One who gives the ability to produce wealth. Stimulus spending will not fix that problem!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Countdown to Eternity!

The day of the Son of Man will be like lightning flashing across the sky. But first he must suffer terribly and be rejected by the people of today.

When the Son of Man comes, things will be just as they were when Noah lived. People were eating, drinking, and getting married right up to the day when Noah went into the big boat. Then the flood came and drowned everyone on earth.

When Lot lived, people were also eating and drinking. They were buying, selling, planting, and building. But on the very day Lot left Sodom, fiery flames poured down from the sky and killed everyone. The same will happen on the day when the Son of Man appears. At that time no one on a rooftop should go down into the house to get anything. No one in a field should go back to the house for anything. Remember what happened to Lot's wife.

People who try to save their lives will lose them, and those who lose their lives will save them. On that night two people will be sleeping in the same bed, but only one will be taken. The other will be left. Two women will be together grinding wheat, but only one will be taken. The other will be left.

Luke 17:24-36

Suddenly and without warning things happen. Life changing events can begin and end in a matter of less than a second of time. An explosion, a car wreck, a plane crash and nothing for you is ever the same again here on this earth. Death itself is instantaneous. One second you are alive and then you are dead. There is no middle ground, partly dead, or somewhat dead. If you live out your allotted time on this earth there will be a specific time when you will be pronounced to be dead.

Difficult things happen suddenly, but so do wonderful things. For nine months a baby is a wonderful promise and is greatly anticipated. Then suddenly and sometimes without much warning the baby arrives kicking and screaming into the world. It certainly is a life changing event for all those in the family.

We use the term “fall in love” because often it happens suddenly and without warning. In the blink of an eye there is awakened within a young man or young woman a spark of tenderness for another person that was not there only a second ago. That spark can be fanned into a flame and burn for a lifetime, but there is that miraculous moment when it starts.

For two thousand years followers of Jesus Christ have looked forward to His return to the earth. We have searched the scriptures and sought to understand it as best we could. But we still don’t know for sure if this is the time or if He will tarry yet longer.

For us the two examples of how to live before ultimate reality moment when Jesus bursts forth again on earth are Noah and Lot. Both were men of God and both lived a life which speaks to our preparation.

Noah worked diligently and obediently to prepare for the flood. The flood that caught everyone else by surprise was no surprise at all to Noah. He knew it was coming and had known it for years. He did not give up on his faith even though he saw no evidences of its fulfillment for years and years.

Lot is an example of separation for the world. Lot left Sodom just before the fire fell. In all honesty Lot was reluctant and had to be dragged out of town by the angels, but he did go. His wife is the example of the consequences of looking longingly back at the world we are leaving behind.

Now the story is not about Noah or Lot. The story is about you and me. So what will I do today that makes me ready for the return of Jesus at any second? One minute before His return will be just like any other. The normal things of life will be your involvement and then suddenly and without warning Jesus Christ will break forth and things will never be the same again!

The countdown to eternity is on but only God can see the clock!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Who Do You Know?

To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.

Titus 1:15-16

What is the difference in meeting someone and knowing that same person? The difference is huge. I met Billy Graham and shook his hand in a greeting line during one of his campaigns in, I think it was 1980. But I certainly cannot say that I know Billy Graham.

I am not impressed by the people you meet. I can be impressed by the people you know. When you meet someone you may know a great deal about the person, but there is no regular, personal communication between the two of you. Meeting someone takes only a few seconds. Knowing someone cannot be timed. Knowing someone may take and usually does take years.

So here is the simple question for today. Do you know Jesus or did you simply meet Him once? Meeting Jesus may be a very emotional experience and you may remember it with fondness for years to come, but knowing Jesus is different. Meeting Jesus is always yesterday, knowing Jesus is always today! Meeting Jesus is an experience. Knowing Jesus is a relationship.

Of course everyone you know is someone you met. I remember the very first time I came face to face with the girl who became my wife. Without the relationship that developed after we met that meeting would now be irrelevant.

Have you met Jesus Christ? I hope the answer is yes. Do you have an ongoing and growing relationship with Him that will go with you through eternity? Remember when you meet Jesus Christ it is just the beginning life with Him forever!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

This is Love!

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

1 John 4:9-12

When a young man discovers that the young woman who first caught his attention has now captured his heart, he is receiving his first real lesson in what love is all about. I believe the first love experience is usually a one sided “love affair” which like a famous love song says it “lives in” his heart.

In today’s Eros oriented world you may not believe me when I say that a young man’s first taste of love may have literally nothing to do with sex. Real love cherishes the object of that love and does anything that will be good for the loved one. Real love can very well be a one way street. It literally does not diminish the strength of a young man’s love when the object of his love does not know about it, or does and does not love him back.

Of course, when the love is not returned it does not result in a long term relationship, a wedding, and ultimately a family.

In this picture the Lord Jesus Christ is the young man. And we are the ones who caught His attention and His heart. Since the fall of man in the garden Jesus has pursued us and cherished us. Mostly, we have ignored His love, spurned His love and continued through life as if He does not exist. Since the day of your birth and even long before, Jesus has done whatever He could do to express His overwhelming love for you. Two thousand years ago Jesus even suffered the punishment for your sins so that you might not have to die!

When a baby is born to a young couple the love that flows toward that child is overwhelming. The couple allows their total existence to be significantly altered for the good of that baby. But it is years before the baby can truly love them back. And those of us who are parents and are honest know that we never love our own parents with the depth of love that we have for our children. That is just the way it works. With parents and children love may be returned but the greater love is passed on to the next generation.

So it is with us and God. God’s great love for us must be returned and only then will we have an eternal relationship with Jesus. But He clearly says “if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

Loving each other, passes on the love that Jesus has for us. If my children all say they love me, but hate each other, then I am grieved. If my children love each other and their children then I am satisfied that I have been to them as my parents were to me. When I love others I know that God lives in me and that His love is made complete in me!

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Profound Mystery!

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.

Ephesians 5:25-32

I’m not much into genealogy but one of my ancestors is very interesting if not totally intriguing. I am, if the record is correct, related to King Olaf of Norway. Olaf was responsible for bringing Christianity to Norway and to most of Scandinavia. I don’t know the story well but Olaf had a long lasting and significant impact on the spread of Christianity during his life and since even though he was born in 995 A.D.

I know a man who is a distant relative of one of the Presidents of the United States, and has the same last name. Almost every time I am with him, usually during church services, I am reminded of how an ordinary man can be used to perform extraordinary deeds.

Truthfully, being a “blood relative” of an important person may mean nothing at all about who you are or how you live your life. There are many instances of close relatives of sitting Presidents who did not do well in life. However, two people, married to each other, greatly impact their individual lives. What would I be like without my wife? Only God knows and I’m truly glad that He is not revealing that to anyone!

What would she be like without me? Of course, I don’t know, but I hope I have and will continue to encourage her to be what God created her to be.

Now, sit back and drink this one in. The Bible clearly says that the church is the Bride of Christ! I can’t even begin to image the eternal implications of that reality. I am a “member” of the Bride of Christ! How awesome is that? When that union is completed, (remember the marriage supper of the Lamb is coming) I will be “one flesh” with the Creator! Of course Jesus is not “flesh” like we have it here, but He does have a resurrected body and I will too.

Let’s get together the smartest people on earth and try to identify and quantify the relationship of Christ and His Bride. The brainiest of us cannot even fathom the truth of that relationship. Read Ephesians 5:25-32 and go ahead and let your jaw drop as you ponder it’s true meaning. It is simply a profound mystery!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Houdini Christians!

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.”

2 Timothy 3:1-5

I remember when my brother, at about the age of 13 decided to become an amateur magician. He worked diligently on his “bag of tricks.” I don’t think he ever performed for anyone but his close friends, but I did learn one important lesson from his brief pursuit. All of the illusions performed by magicians are simply that, they are illusions. Magicians do not have any special power to make a person levitate or saw a woman in half and then put her back together again unharmed.

Magicians appear to have power, but they do not!

This may be too harsh a criticism, but I think that there are lots of “Houdini” Christians in the community of believers. They appear to have the power of God in their lives, but they do not. They live and work by their own human power and credit God for the things He neither led them to do nor empowered them to accomplish. Like a good magician these believers appear to be displaying God’s power, but it is an illusion.

Then there are those who appear to be godly, but deny that there is power for those who are. Godliness for them is simply “keeping the rules.” They believe godliness is what you do, not what you are. These people have no power to overcome the issues that plague their lives so they must constantly be on guard to conceal what is really the condition of their inner man.

They struggle to keep the outside of the pitcher clean while the inside grows more and more corrupt. Then one day there is a crack in the pitcher and everything falls apart. The world points their finger at another example of the hypocrisy that keeps them from knowing Jesus.

These verses in 2 Timothy clearly say that there are two parts to godliness: form and power. Having the form without the power leaves you almost certainly on the road to becoming a moral failure before the whole world. Having the power of God in your life without the form is not possible.

When a race team enters a car in the Indianapolis 500 they are always concerned about how the car looks. But if they pay no attention to the power plant, the car will most certainly lose the race.

As a follower of Jesus Christ, be sure that the godliness in your life has both form and power! These terrible times demand it.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Live with Him!

Christ died for us, so that we could live with him, whether we are alive or dead when he comes. That's why you must encourage and help each other, just as you are already doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:10-11

Those of us who were young during the sixties learned how to question everything. The “hippies” stood against almost every element of conventional wisdom when it came to how a society must be structured. They questioned the length of a man’s hair, how to dress appropriately in our society, proper hygiene, and of course whether a man and woman must be married to live together intimately.

Believe it or not I was shocked the first time I heard about a couple living together without being married. It just wasn’t done. But our society pioneered many things that “were not done!”

If you take God out of the picture and look at society purely from a rational point of view, it is easy to justify living together without being married. We have even made some tax laws which promote the idea. The whole idea of marriage for life comes straight from the Bible.

So why is “one man and one woman for life” an important concept to God? Simply this: marriage on this earth is a reflection of marriage in heaven. The Bible speaks of only one marriage in heaven and that is Christ and His Bride. Everything about that marriage is the source of God’s outline for marriage on this earth. Christ has kept Himself totally for His Bride. He has purified her and prepared her for the marriage. He will be faithful to her forever. He will live with her in total intimacy after the marriage is consummated in heaven.

Before a couple is married on this earth “living together” violates the picture of Jesus and His Bride.

What I’m about to say may be hard to understand. I confess it is for me. I wonder if believers in Jesus are trying to “live together with Him” before the wedding. Does that mean that there is a level of intimacy with Jesus that we cannot have here on this earth? I believe it certainly does. As human beings we may be involved in pre-marital, inappropriate intimacy, but Jesus will not do that with His Bride to be.

When I was a boy my mother told me more than once that marriage is either “Heaven on earth or it is Hell on earth.” Marriage on this earth that conforms to the picture of the marriage of Christ and His Bride is indeed “Heaven on earth.”

So if you are destined to be part of the Bride of Christ because you are a disciple of His here on this earth take heart. What you experience here is all a part of His preparation of His Bride. He will not abandon you but He will come and get you just at the right time. If you think it is wonderful to be in His presence now, remember we have only a little taste of what it will be like to live with Him forever!

Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Investment in Heaven!

Then I heard a voice from heaven say,
"Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them."

Revelation 14:13

The great “Good News” of the Bible is that I am not saved by my own works. I am saved by the Blood of Jesus Christ! He is the Way to heaven and without His sacrifice nothing could ever save me from my sins.

Every man is tempted to approach God based on his own good works, especially if a man has plenty of them. When I am looking for work, and many are these days, I carefully craft my resume to impress my potential employer. I do not lie about anything, but the way it is presented can certainly influence the job selection process. I mention the good things I have done, and of course never bring up the bad things.

People frequently approach salvation the same way. They prepare a resume for God. “Here are the things that I have done that are good and which you should consider about my life. I have always been honest with other men. I have not tried to deceive. I have paid my taxes and obeyed the laws of the government. I have been kind to orphans and widows and helped take care of poor people. So Lord when you consider all these things don’t you think I should be saved?”

The problem with this approach is that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” It would be like a murderer standing before the court and telling the judge all the wonderful things he did other than the murder itself. That would not change the sentence. We are guilty before God in spite of all the good things we have done. We are saved only by the Blood of Jesus.

So what about our “good works?” Revelation 14:13 says they will follow us to our rest. We don’t go to heaven because of our good deeds, but our good deeds follow us there.

When you arrive in heaven you will not bring with you the money from your 401K. You will not bring all the power and honor given to you on this earth. You will not bring with you any of your possessions. But according to this verse the good deeds you did here will come with you.

When you reach out and touch some other human being with the love of Jesus you are “storing up treasure in heaven.” What we will do with that treasure no one knows, but seemingly there will be those in heaven who have more treasure than others.

When you store up treasure on this earth, you can lose it all during one bad trading day on the stock market. But when you store up treasure in heaven no one can steal it and nothing can take it away.

The good things you do as a follower of Jesus may be totally ignored and forgotten by men here on this earth, but God will not forget and those very deeds will follow you to Heaven!

Make another investment in Heaven today!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Destruction from the Almighty!

Wail, for the day of the LORD is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty.

Because of this, all hands will go limp; every man's heart will melt.

Terror will seize them, pain and anguish will grip them; they will writhe like a woman in labor. They will look aghast at each other, their faces aflame.

See, the day of the LORD is coming —a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger— to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it.

Isaiah 13:6-9

One of the standard arguments against the existence of God is this: Why would a good God allow evil to exist in the world? That is a very good question and the answer is that He will not allow evil in the world to go on forever. There will be an end to it and the end will be dramatic. No one who opposes God will get away with rebellion against Him. The scales will be balanced. Justice will rule. Sin will come under the mighty judgment of God. The Bible clearly says that the “day of the Lord” will not be a pretty sight. It is called “a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger.”

When a man understands what will happen on that day it is enough to “scare the hell out of him!” No one will escape.

Today the world is like men falling into a pit while partying on the way to the bottom. We pretend that “things will be alright, things will get better, they always do, and we are strong and will get through it.”

If the day of the Lord is upon us, and this very well may be it, things will not be alright for the world, things will not get better even if they always have before and we are not strong enough to get through the judgment of God.

The world may never turn their hearts toward God, but you can. Fall down before Him and call upon the Name of the Lord! Seek to know Him and direct your steps at His command. Then let the Day of the Lord come. You will have nothing to fear from the One who died for you that you might live forever with Him. If you have made peace with God through Jesus Christ even death cannot harm you!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Wrath of God!

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.

Colossians 3:5-6

In my more than 60 years of sitting through Sunday morning sermons I cannot remember a sermon on the wrath of God. Wrath is defined as “strong anger, often with a desire for revenge.” Could it be that God will take revenge on those who oppose Him? The very disturbing answer is clearly YES. God said that vengeance is His and that He will repay.

The Bible says that as a follower of Jesus I am not to be involved in revenge. I am to live as Jesus did. Jesus did not strike out against those who crucified Him. He did not settle the score with anyone. He suffered as a lamb that was being led to slaughter. I am to be like Jesus and follow His example when confronted by those who oppose God. But it also clearly says that God Himself will repay those who stand against Him.

One of the perhaps more obscure evidences of our turn away from God as a nation can be seen in movies and television shows. Fifty years ago there were “good guys” and “bad guys.” The bad guys would always take advantage of and beat up on the good guys, but in the end the bad guys would lose and get what was coming to them. Today, such a depiction is almost never seen. Today, there are no “good guys.” It is “bad guys” against “bad guys.” And it is anybody’s guess which bad guy will win.

God’s wrath will be the “end of the movie.” The righteous will not be abandoned to suffer forever under the hand of Evil. The wrath of God will administer its cleansing blow just at the right time.
Roman’s 2:6 says God "will give to each person according to what he has done.”

If you believed that your neighbor’s house was going to collapse with your neighbor inside would you not warn your neighbor? Of course you would warn him and you would do it without being worried about what he thought of you for delivering the message.

Friend, Almighty God is coming back to judge everyone on earth. It will be swift and certain and fearful. Only those who take refuge in Jesus Christ will miss the bullet of God’s wrath.

So, swallow your pride and tell someone today about the love of God before they meet the wrath of God. You can be sure that they will be eternally grateful.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

How Do You Plead?

“If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.”

1 John 1:10

“How do you plead?” “NOT GUILTY!”

When a trial is held in our legal system it is always because the person accused of the crime has declared that he is not guilty. If a guilty plea is entered then it is up to the judge to determine how to deal with the lawbreaker. There are many who plead guilty because they believe they will receive gentler treatment from the judge than they would from a jury.

God has said that all men have sinned and have fallen short of His glory. There is no man or woman who has ever lived able to stand before God and plead NOT GUILTY and then argue the case successfully. There is one exception. Jesus Christ lived on this earth as a man and was NOT GUILTY of even one single sin!

But if you want to be judged on the basis of your deeds on this earth the jury will “throw the Book” at you. God says you are a sinner. If you claim you are not, you are accusing God of being a liar.

The only hope for every person who has ever lived is to plead guilty and throw yourself on the mercy of the court. God will agree that you are guilty and sentence you to death. For those who are followers of Jesus Christ the court records will then show that your death sentence has already been carried out. It happened two thousand years ago when you were crucified with Christ.

The words of the old hymn say it well, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness!”

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Does Not Apply!

If you are a wife, you must put your husband first. Even if he opposes our message, you will win him over by what you do. No one else will have to say anything to him, because he will see how you honor God and live a pure life.

1 Peter 3:1-2

As a husband and a man who years ago committed his life to following Jesus these two verses can be safely filed in the “does not apply to me” drawer!

Wives, with unbelieving husbands are the target of this part of the Word with an ancillary application for their husbands. But for me, what could this passage say? I am neither a wife nor an unbeliever.

However these verses do speak powerfully about how I am influenced by my wife. As a man I like to think of myself as “in control” and “in charge” of everything in my life. It’s the legendary male ego that makes me think I am stronger than I am and gives me the appearance of being arrogant. I think it is the rare man who has not looked at a President of the United States and said to himself, “I could handle that job better!” Regardless of how strong I think I am, or even how strong I am, my female counterpart in this life has great power over my thoughts and actions. She can promote change in me without me ever knowing it.

This scripture must be at least part of the source of the “Behind every great man there is a great woman” saying.

So I guess I might as well drop the pretence and speak plainly. Whenever my wife lives before me an example of anything I am strongly influenced to join her in her lifestyle. But, whenever she simply preaches about how I need to change I “fall asleep in church” again!

It all started in the Garden of Eden. Adam incorporated his wife’s diet into his life and none of us have ever been the same.

Unbelieving men can be won to Jesus by watching their believing wives live as faithful followers of Jesus, but I can be spurred on to a closer walk with the Lord by watching my wife.

So what I need to do is to encourage her in every way to walk and grow in the Lord. I need to provide her with resource and opportunity to live out her faith before me. When I do that I will blossom as well.

Every Word that God speaks applies to me. And every Word of God applies to you. My job is to listen and be changed by the articulated thoughts of the Creator! When you find a verse that “does not apply” to you, look deeper and you will find a great treasure!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Foot Washing!

“You also should wash one another's feet”

John 13:14b

I grew up in a church which believed that Jesus command to wash feet does not apply to modern day believers. And to be perfectly honest I am very comfortable with that interpretation of scripture. Foot washing was a customer of the times that had a very practical purpose. When everyone wore sandals with no socks, feet would get very dusty and a good foot washing kept the house clean and the feet comfortable.

Jesus didn’t mention it, but scratching someone else’s back might fit in the same category. When God designed the human body He made the arms, hands and fingers capable of ministering to every part of the human body except the back. There is a fairly large part of my back that I cannot touch without the aid of a brush with a long handle. Just so you know I’m not speaking about something out of purely intellectual knowledge, I have such a brush hanging just a few feet away from me right now. And frankly, just mentioning it makes my back itch a little! (I took care of that – now where was I?) I can wash my own feet, but I can’t scratch my own back without help.

I do remember as a very small boy being limber enough to put my big toe in my mouth. But as I have grown older, much older, even washing my own feet has become difficult. So is the foot washing Jesus told us to practice simply ministering to each other or is it something else? If it is simply ministering to each other, then there are thousands of ways to wash each other’s feet. Of course it is good to reach out to the needs of others and do for them what they can’t do for themselves.

My personal view of what Jesus was talking about when He encouraged us to wash each other’s feet is simple. I think Jesus was telling us to help each other wash off the dirt of the road in our spiritual lives. As I live and work in “Babylon” I hear and see things every day that are not pure and righteous and holy. The road I walk is very dusty and some of it sticks to my feet. Even as I consciously attempt to be God’s instrument in the world around me my feet are becoming unclean because of the road I walk. But when I return home my wife quickly helps me re-focus on the Lord and she spiritually washes my feet! I have several close brothers who regularly do the same thing. And of course it is my job to do the same for them.

Wouldn’t it be better just to stay inside and never walk on the dusty roads? Then I would never need my feet washed. The problem with that is this: If you never wash your feet, they will begin to stink! Every ten year old boy enjoys “stinky feet” humor.

So is the foot washing command of Jesus literal or symbolic? I believe it is quite literal. My responsibility is to wash the world off of you when you come in from the day. Your responsibility as my brother is to do the same for me.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Set Your Heart!

You have been raised to life with Christ. Now set your heart on what is in heaven, where Christ rules at God's right side. Think about what is up there, not about what is here on earth.

Colossians 3:1-2

When a young man “sets his heart” on a certain young woman he will do almost anything to win her affection. His actions are dictated daily by the direction of his heart. All through the day he is reminded of her and is continually thinking about how he can satisfy her every whim. In fact, he puts everything about her above the rest of his life.

When a follower of Jesus “sets his heart on what is in heaven” his actions are dictated by the direction of his heart. All through the day he is continually thinking about he can satisfy the One who is sitting on the throne of Heaven. In fact, he puts Jesus above everything else in his life!

The really important question for a follower of Jesus Christ is not “Am I doing the right things for God?” The important question is “Is my heart set on Him?” If my heart is set on the things of this world then I will never be able to do the things that will please Jesus. If my heart is set on Jesus then I will not have the time, energy or will to do the things that please the world.

So it really is a matter of the heart. Set your heart on Jesus and your actions will follow. Set your heart on the world and your actions will follow.

If you want to test this in a small area of life, set your heart on getting a kitten. Then keep a diary for a month. Be sure and use a red pen on the day your kitten arrives in your house. If you set your heart on Jesus and the things in heaven the rest of life will take its proper place. If you set your heart on the world you will never be able to put Jesus on the throne of your life!


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Ordained or Ordinary!
Then the angel said, “Now put on your coat and follow me.”

Acts 12:8b

Peter was in big trouble. Herod arrested him and put him in prison. This was shortly after Herod had cut off the head of James the brother of John. Everyone could assume that Peter’s head would be the next one to roll.

But God had other plans. He sent an angel who suddenly appeared in the jail cell. He poked Peter in the side and woke him up. Then the chains fell off of Peter’s hands. The angel said something to Peter that reminded me of my mother when I was a small boy. The angel said, “Get dressed, put on your shoes and don’t forget your coat!”

Here we are in the midst of a full blown miracle where an angel materializes in the jail cell, the chains fall off of Peters hands, the two of them walk out past the guards and the Bible says the iron gate to the city opened by itself, so why did Peter have to dress himself shoes and all and not forget his coat?

This is a perfect example of the ordained and the ordinary. The miraculous is always surrounded by the mundane.

When we recognize an act of God in the world we want to isolate it from the rest of reality. Perhaps a good example would be the way we view the crucifixion. Almost every depiction of the crucifixion has background music playing and the drama of the event is highlighted. When Jesus was crucified no one standing there had any idea what this was all about. It was not glorious. It was not meaningful. It was awful and painful and tragic. It was bloody and a bad memory for anyone who saw it. And yet we all found out later what was going on that day when Jesus hung on the cross. That’s when we began to insert the glory of the moment into our memory and remove the ordinary. But the two were there together.

So how does all this relate to me?

When I look at my life today I see an ordinary man who will go to work to provide for myself and my wife. I see ordinary encounters during the day that vary from pleasant to mundane. Maybe I will see a momentary flash of God’s presence in my life, but usually it comes without warning and passes quickly.

What I should see is a day that is ordained by God for me to walk through ordinary moments that will fulfill His purpose for this day.

In the middle of a great miracle the angel told Peter not to forget his coat! How ordinary is that? So when you look about at your jail cell and the shackles on your hands don’t forget to look for the angel and when he comes “don’t forget your coat!”