But

August 14, 2016

An English teacher once taught never to use the word “but”.  She said whatever positive thing you could say would be counteracted if you added “but” and said anything else.  I would hold there is one exception.  When you make a statement, either positive or negative and say “but God”, you know you are going to end up positive, because God trumps everything—all the time.

“Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord of Hosts.”  Zechariah 4:6

Freedom

August 14, 2016

There are people so enamored of freedom, they are unwilling to submit to moral restraints of any kind.  Yet, cultures where people’s moral or religious beliefs inspire them to live by the golden rule (Do to others as you would have them do to you) allow much more freedom.  A lack of cultural morality leads to the sort of chaos and civil unrest that begs a heavy force of law, backed up by heavy handed law enforcement.  This is hardly the outcome those hating restraint were desiring.

Origin of the New Testament

August 14, 2016

Some people write they are troubled by the New Testament of the bible because it is a collection of accounts and letters written by human beings.  What if the whole book were delivered miraculously from Heaven?  Would that make it more acceptable or believable?  It still would rely on human eyewitness accounts to document its arrival.

A Prayer for Our Nation and Its Future

August 13, 2016

Dear Father, we come before you pleading for our nation and its future, because we know you established all the nations and their boundaries, and you hold the future of all in your hands.  We know you are almighty, that you know everything and nothing escapes your attention.  No one can fool you or hide from you.  And you are good.  You work out good for all who love you–ultimate good, even when the package in which your goodness arrives sometimes looks frightening to us.

We know Father that you hold the fate of all nations and all leaders in your hands.  In the bible we are taught “For exaltation comes neither from the east nor from the west nor from the south.  But God is the Judge: He puts down one, and exalts another.”  Psalm 75:6-7

We are also reminded “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His.  And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.”  Daniel 2:20-21.

And we are taught:  “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.”  Proverbs 21:1.

We believe these things Father, and so we believe you have chosen our leadership, even if sometimes they are disobedient, rebellious and arrogant before you.  We know you could take away their place if you chose, and you could change their thoughts and hearts if you chose.  Sometimes you are working out purposes we cannot see.  Yet, Lord, we fear leaders who would force us to turn away from your will for us and away from you.  Please do not allow such leaders to have power over us for the temptation to disobey you out of fear of our government might be too great for us.

Father, change our leaders hearts and turn them toward you, but even more change the people of this nation.  We confess we have sinned against you.  We have often looked to our government to solve our problems instead of looking first of all to you for your guidance and your help.  We have sinned in other ways–our violence, our selfishness, our misuse of everything that is good, our sin against your will for family life, our failure to love you as you deserve and our failure to love our neighbor as you have commanded.

Father, please forgive us, and please change us.  Please give us a future and do not destroy our nation.  Change our hearts toward you.  Help us put your first.  Give us new hearts that love you and love others.  Give us the desire, patience and strength to maintain the families you planned for us to have.  Our sin and selfishness have destroyed our families and other relationships.  Because we are so far from you, we have become angry, divided people, blaming others for our woes.  Yet, our separation from you is to blame.  Only when we recognize you, appreciate you, thank you and walk humbly before you, will we let you heal us.  Do what you must to this nation Lord.  Shake us awake, make us aware of what we must change, and give us the strength and wisdom to turn back to you and your ways.

We need you more than ever.  We sense the time is short before you must stop the evil on this earth.  Help us Father.  We ask this in the name of Jesus, name above all names, most powerful name in the universe.  Amen

Finding Your Way

August 13, 2016

“How can I find out what God created me to do?”  Many of us struggle with this issue.  I imagine many of us think God’s plan for our lives is something we have to struggle to find out. In reality God is already working in our lives, planning ahead of time what we are to do and preparing us for it as well.   Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are God’s workmanship, created for a life of good works which God has already prepared for us to do.”   I believe we can rest assured that God will put those opportunities before us that lead us to what He would have us do.  Another clue is what we are talented at doing.  Since God created and awarded all of us with certain talents, they will match what we are to do.  The third thing is what gives us joy.  God is no sadist, and a clue to our calling is the kind of work we love.  It would be rare that God would expect us to make a long term commitment to something we hate doing (it would be only if He changes us first).  So in short, God won’t let us get too far off the track.  If our hearts are in the right place, the place where opportunity for good, our talent and our joy intersect is our “sweet spot” –the place we belong..

The Future

August 2, 2016

A number of pundits have predicted a rocky four years to come.  Everything is being predicted from an economic collapse, to war, to further terrorism, chaos, confusion, a breakdown of law and order, riots, corruption, and so on.

People who believe Jesus know that the way we have been living in this country in no way matches the picture He painted of God’s plan for us.  He also painted a picture of a cosmic battle of good and evil involving spirits and powers that are active yet unseen.  Many believe his predictions of the time of the end are coming true before our eyes.  If judgment falls in the next few years, it will fall first and hardest on our leader.  And I wonder, why would either Trump or Clinton want to be in that place?

Magnificent Obsession

August 2, 2016

Someone on Facebook asked for our all time favorite book.  I had to think a bit, but I think the one which had the most impact on me as a young person was Magnificent Obsession by Lloyd C. Douglas.  It is the story of a drunk driver who survived his accident–and the victim who did not survive.  Prompted by guilt, the main character strives to learn about the life that was lost, and in so doing, decides to continue what the deceased had started.  He lives the rest of his own life doing good.  Of course, the skeleton of the story in no way does it justice.

What the story does for me is motivates me to carry on the work of the one who gave his life so I could live.  Jesus is my hero, and I live because of Him.  My life is not only due to Him, but my second chance is due to His death.  Because I am supremely grateful for my new, eternal life, I want to live out my life doing what matters most to Him.

 

Who You Know

July 31, 2016

In all the tumult and chaos of the world today, we wonder what is secure.  What can we trust?  What can we hold on to and be safe?   Some people have a little place in the country.  Some people have an underground bunker.  Some are hoarding, and backing that up with guns.

Maybe the biggest part of preparedness is getting ready to meet God.  We are all going to die one way or the other–through war or terrorism, through an automobile accident, illness or freak accident.  And then whether or not we are close to the end of the world, it is the end of the world for us when that final event happens to us.

Jesus talked about the end of the world and his own return.  He said when he returns the glory of it all, the glory of His appearance, and the sheer magnitude of the earthly changes happening–noise, light and movement, will have everyone trying to hide in caves if they don’t know Him.  For those who have a relationship with Him, we will recognize who we’ve been waiting for.  We’ll hold our hands up like little children waiting to be picked up by their returning parent.  And so it will be that those who go with Him leave this dimension.  Those who hide will stay.  And when He leaves, He takes all the light with Him, leaving those here in the “outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Perhaps taking time to know Him, studying the stories of Jesus, talking to Him in prayer and checking out the truth of His claims is the best preparation for these times, after all.

Election 2016 part 2

July 31, 2016

I keep hearing dire predictions about what will happen if Clinton wins.  I keep hearing dire predictions about what will happen if Trump wins.  I hear how much someone hates one or the other of the candidates.  But in one sense, who occupies the White House doesn’t matter.  God will have His way with this country.

This doesn’t mean God won’t punish people who lie, destroy others, steal, and support moral wrong.  He will punish those who violate the natural moral law which has been around forever.  But despite all the evil and dysfunction, He will accomplish His purposes in the world.  Good people may suffer in the backwash of some of the evil things other people do.  People still get in the wrong place at the wrong time, and good people will be jailed and perhaps killed for being on the wrong side of the political winners.  At the same time, God is using all of it–all of it, to accomplish eventual, eternal good for those who love Him.  Rather than worry about who is in the White House, we ought to worry about whether we are part of God’s house.

Election 2016

July 31, 2016

“One of the most contested, controversial,dirty,ugly, (etc) elections in the history of the United States.”  We hear quotes like this daily.  This is truly one for the history books.  Trouble is:  no one likes either candidate much.  Yet what is truly amazing, is that people are still looking to politics and government for solutions to their own problems.  When will we ever learn?

Politics always gets ugly.  Politics always gets corrupt.  Politics is more about power than about helping people.  Politics always lines the pockets of the winners and their allies.  Politics has rarely solved anything.  People still have the audacity to hope that flawed human beings might force other flawed human beings might make their own lives better.  And they also hope they might win the lottery.

Ultimately what will make a difference is change on a small level across a wide spectrum.  When people all over the United States decide to do something to better themselves.  When families decide to help each other realize the goals of each member.  When neighborhoods pull together to better their common space, then things get better.  Its easier to petition a local city or county council to provide bus service to a neighborhood than to get the federal government to build more public transportation.  Its easier to start cleaning up one’s own neighborhood as a group of neighbors than it is to get a federal urban renewal project to do it.  Local programs are smaller, but more immediate, and often more wisely accomplished than that done on a big scale by outsiders who sometimes create new problems because they don’t know the local situation.

When change comes–a sea change, it will be the result of lots of individuals in lots of families in lots of neighborhoods pooling their talents, wisdom, know how, and goodwill to do good right where they are.  What will be the motivation?  In our past history it was love of God and love of neighbor–till we went back to the default “me ” setting and added politics to the mix.


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