Tuesday, December 23, 2008


I pray all is well with those who read my blog. I want to use my blog to help teach the truth in God's holy word. As long as it is beneficial, I will continue. This is my last blog until the new year. I might get one in next week, but Resa and I are leaving for Texas today to see our parents for the holidays. It is time for us to do this. It has been a few years since going back and we need to.
I want to say a final word ending this year, and Lord willing, starting a new year. I implore each of you...SERVE! We are called to serve. We have gifts that differ but no matter what gift we have, how large or small, use your gift to serve! (I Pet. 4:10) When you look at John 13, our Lord lovingly washed the feet of His disciples, even the disciple that turned on Him and Jesus knew He would. What was Jesus teaching? I've heard many say different ideas, all of which are good, but one thing stands out to me. That is the demonstration of acceptance. When Jesus got on his knees washing their feet, Jesus was claiming those disciples as His own. He was accepting them. In turn, when you and I serve another, we demonstrate our loving acceptance of them, that they are part of us. We are called to serve. It doesn't matter where. Just serve! Wherever you are right now...serve! You may be downtrodden or feeling well, no matter what, take the heart of a servant and serve. Your service to another speaks volumes about your relationship to the Lord and reaches out in acceptance to your brothers and sisters who wear His name that we are one and we accept one another in that relationship because we are Christ's. SERVE! SERVE! SERVE!

Monday, December 22, 2008

"A Word About Hope"

People need hope! But most do not know the hope from the Lord. Most hope is nothing more than a 'wishing' or 'good luck' type of hope. It is based on nothing in the mind other than a positive wishing that nothing bad will happen. Simply put, most people's hope is in fate.
We need hope, real genuine, life sustaining hope and if you are in Christ, you have it! Hope is not mere wishing or longing but expecting, a confident expecting. When one has hope, there is a sense of assurance and confidence because they know that whatever the conclusion is, it will be completely satisfying. How can we have such assurance? Listen carefully: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." (I Pet. 1:3) We will face difficulties but none more difficult than what our Lord faced. Our hope should not be weak because nothing we face are like the mockings that Jesus our Lord heard while hanging on the cross. The powers that stood against Him are greater than anything that we will ever stand against, even when facing difficult health and situations of life. Christ rose in victory for our assurance! That's hope, our hope!! "In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." (John 16 33) Jesus knew His victory because of the hope set before Him. He had hope before He was taken to death. Take courage!
To know He is victorious on our behalf lifts our hearts. One day, all these struggles we face will be nothing but a mere shadow of what is ours! We have a reason to hope and our hope is based on His resurrection which gives us a great expectation. He won our victory. He overcame life's difficulties and He is ours!!! I know things we see will affect us and sometimes will be an emotional downer, but Christ is alive and is our Lord. He is alive and has been raised, not only because God promised Him, but He promised us. If Christ really raised to a glorious life after His death, that single fact should be enough to offset the difficulties in our personal lives. Bottom line: if Christ has truly risen, the rest really doesn't matter, does it?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

"Let's Talk About Worship"

I was sent a question asking, "What is your view of instrumental music in worship?". It is seemingly becoming a more and more hot topic. I think I have heard just about every argument for and against it. You throw in the mix 'praise teams' and special singing groups and it really becomes a boiling pot. Let me start with this, what seems to be addressed in the majority of cases is the instrument, praise team and singing groups and not worship. That's where we seem to get off track. We need to address worship and what God, not me or someones personal feelings, deems as acceptable. Understanding worship will give us the answer to all of the above.
What is worship about? That must be answered! Who is central in worship? God or man? Carefully read John 4 where Jesus encounters the Samaritan woman. I know you know what it says, but read it with care and faith! In this discussion with her, Jesus gives great insight about genuine acceptable worship. She thinks it is location that makes worship acceptable (John 4:20-22). Jesus assures her that a change is taking place and worship will no longer be confined to a location. True worshipers, He teaches, worship in spirit and truth, not in one city or a temple (John 4:23). The spirit and truth issue are the two key elements for acceptable worship before God. To worship in spirit is to worship from within the depth of your being, coming from the heart and it is all bound by the truth. Look closely at the word "must" which is emphatic in the Greek.
What does all this teach us? For worship to be acceptable, and is that not what we are speaking about, it "must" be God and Christ centered! Paul brings this idea to life to the Philippians about worship that those who "worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus put no confidence in the flesh!" (Phil. 3:3) NO CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH! To worship from within the heart and the sphere of God and Christ, that eliminates man's fleshly desires and personal interests! Otherwise, worship is useless in the eyes of God because it is man centered, man pleasing and caters to mans wants and feelings. The center of our worship should be God and He is Spirit. The way we touch God's world is worshiping from our spirit side! Just like walking faithfully in Christ, we need to learn to be led by the Spirit and not our fleshly thinking and feelings, which comes from our physical side. Our new birth was spiritual, not physical. It came from within, not without! If one does not revere God and hold Him in awe (Heb. 12:28-29), then our worship will be centered around our personal desires and feelings, in which the externals are emphasized. We will cater to things that make us feel good and that's what all this issue is about. We are turning worship into a society accepted production that moves us emotionally and our spiritual side (which some cannot distinguish what that is other than their feelings) is left untouched. Emotions can be stirred in worship, but they are stirred from being God centered, not man made things to move us or excite us!
Peter speaks of proclaiming the excellencies of God because we have been brought out of darkness into His light (I Pet. 2:9). Worship is about proclaiming His excellencies, not us! Peter continues to teach that we are to offer up spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (I Pet. 2:5). Acceptable sacrifices, which is what worship is about, are offered to God because of Christ and are acceptable if they are spiritual, not physical. This is the truth that worshipers need to grasp and God seeks true worshipers! It amazes me how few who have been in Christ for many years have no clue what is spiritual and what is fleshly.
Where does all this leave instrumental music, praise teams and special singing groups? I must say, not in true worship in spirit! These things have no part of acceptable worship to God. It might make us "enjoy" worship, but then we make worship about us and our feelings. God is 'dethroned' in the heart. God is spoken about, but not the center because those who want to be moved always speak of what they feel and how they are stirred rather than what God is looking for. The instrument, praise team and groups are for us...let's just be honest and stop playing the game! They have no appeal to God!!! God is spirit and seeks spiritual worshipers, who worship in the realm of truth from the depth of their beings, not the external of something man invented!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"I Stand At the Door"

We have a picture of Jesus when we read the words: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me." (Rev. 3:20) Can you see Jesus in your mind, standing, knocking softly, wanting entrance into one's heart and no one answers the door? He speaks but no one is paying attention.
A man took a little girl to an art gallery. She had little interest at all until they came to on particular painting of a tired looking man, knocking and knocking on a door. The picture showed people on the other side and they looked as if they had no plans to open it. She starred at the picture with amazement. "Who is that?" she asked her dad. Her heart was wrestling with a deep sense of concern. "It's Jesus" he heard himself say with a slight edge to his voice. A pause and still pondering, the little girl asked, "Won't they let him in?" The dad began to grow a little uneasy as he tried to brush off her questions, so he quietly said, "No they won't let him in!" As soon as the words came from his mouth, she asked, "Is he a bad man?" He shot back quickly, "No! He isn't bad!" Faster she states, "Well, then, why won't they let him in?" The heat was turned up on the dad and he took her hand and just walked away from the picture. His tone changed to an irritation, "How do I know?" The little girl sensed her dads tension and said no more. Every once in a while, her big, dark brown eyes glanced at him and the direction of the picture. She knew her dad wasn't telling her everything.
That night at supper, no word was uttered about the picture but this little girls eyes kept talking. Later, she prepared for bed after brushing her teeth and putting her pj's on, she climbed up on the lap of her dad, hugging his neck and kissing him. As she headed for her bedroom, she stopped, turned around and said: "We'd let him in, wouldn't we dad?" Then off she went. That night this man went sleepless as all he could see was his little girls eyes and hear the questions over and over.
Kind of strikes us, doesn't it? Jesus standing at the door and so few open up their heart. People knowing they need to open up and let the Lord in but would rather keep it shut and stay in their sins. People seem to love sin more than the Lord! God used something from a child's words to pry open a heart that refused to yield before that night! He let Jesus in!!!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"The Morning Snow"

I sat at my kitchen table this morning, looking outside watching the snow as it fell. I am not a winter person. I don't like coats and the cold! However, for some reason I really enjoy the anticipation of the first snow fall. The beauty of it amazes me. As I watched this morning, the purity of it caught my attention. It is completely undefiled! My mind shifted to David in Psa. 51 when he appealed to God for forgiveness, "Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." To be cleansed by God and be whiter than snow is an awesome thought that my mind has difficulty comprehending. As I sat there, my mind focused on the Scriptures. "Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool." (Isa. 1:18)
"Whiter than snow" shifted my mind to Jesus. "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (II Cor. 5:21) For us to stand before God, pure and undefiled, He became our sin. He took our stains, our dirty, vile and filthy lives, and laid it all on Himself. The blood scrubbed and washed every ouch of defilement from our lives. Jesus paid it all! God is holy, pure and undefiled and He took His pure, holy, undefiled Son and offered Him to make us "whiter than snow" before Him
I continued looking at the snow and my thoughts centered around the covenant we remember every first day of the week. An agreement, a binding contract and will taken on by God that He will never break. When we entered Jesus through baptism, He became our righteousness before God. And the covenant spoke: "For I will be merciful to their iniquities and I will remember their sins no more." (Heb. 8:12) "Merciful!" That is what God's covenant speaks to us. "I remember their sins no more!" I remember my sins but knowing God's covenant with me says He doesn't, it cause tears and great joy. I did nothing to earn my standing before God. We stand in His covenant and I remember it every first day of the week.
As I went outside, I picked up a handful of snow. I stared at it for a brief moment. I could eat it because it was pure and undefiled. No one had touched it to defile it. That's exactly how God views me! That is a gift beyond my thought process. My mind reflected on the thought of a free gift from God. I realized there is nothing really free! There is always a cost to someone. The free gift of God was at the cost of His Son. His love was offered as a free gift from Him to me. That's a love I cannot understand.
As I looked at the snow, my mind shifted to others around me. I realized no one has to lose their soul! It's not the choice of God. He gave the ultimate, free gift. People don't have to destroy one another with hate and sin. It's not God's choice. As I settled in my vehicle, it all became clear: if someone ends up burning in the flames of hell, having the eternal worm gnawing at them forever, that will not be God's choice, that will be our choice because we have rejected the cleansing and relationship. We reject His offer of the covenant. As I drove down the road and prayed for a moment, thankfully I am saved.

Monday, December 15, 2008

"He Is Not Ashamed"

I will never forget a story that I heard from a friend of mine, Jim McGuiggan. It went something like this and I will make a point with it:
There was a fellow who was an alcoholic. He lived on the street with other street people down and out. He begged for money from anyone and would use what he obtained for buying more booze. He smelled bad, looked bad, dressed bad and had the shakes, but he always bragged to others about his better days. He told of stories how he was respected and had influential friends from the area. His fellow boozers and street dwellers never believed a word he said. The would tell him, "You were always nothing, you are nothing now and you will always be nothing!" The more they poured it on and scorned him, the more he felt the need to spread his stories. One day while he was talking about his respectable past and the others were mocking him, he looked across the street and saw a well dressed, well known man of the community who was successful in business. In desperation, the man on "skid row" bellowed out to the others he knew the man and in former years they were best friends! Suddenly, his fellow boozers called his hand, calling him a liar and urged him to prove his claims by going over and speaking with this respectable man. What was the alcoholic to do now? He felt he had no option. He walked across the street and with a soft tone and a hurtful look on his face said, "Sir, I am so sorry to bother you. I do not want money. Please, please, will you pretend you know me?" The well dressed stranger quickly sized up the situation, looking across the street at the other fellows and in one quick, loud move, he let out a "where have you been?" and threw his arms around him, shaking his hand. He put his arm around his shoulder and said loudly enough, "I haven't seen you in years. I wondered what happened to you and where you were." They slowly walked down the street together and the complete stranger took him into a place to get him cleaned up, had his hair cut, put new clothes on him, fed him and put some money in his pocket. Finally, the respectable man went on his way and the alcoholic went back to "skid row" but now he had some substance to his stories. Someone refused to be ashamed of him!
I really like that story! It tells us something of ourselves. Too many of us make life too complicated and we are too busy to step back and take notice of who we really are and what has happened to us. We think we are strong or well off, when we are really a lot like the man on "skid row." Oh, we may not be an alcoholic but we live lives that are weak and frittering away only wishing we had something better. Open your eyes of faith and look. Open your spiritual ears to allow the word to effect the heart and listen. There came One refusing to be ashamed of us. This One does not offer us material things and a temporary relief. He offers us His name! He gives us a permanent cleansing and a permanent home. He offers to give us riches beyond money and homes. We are the instruments of his compassion and rescue. Yet for so many, they love to be cleaned up...for a while, they love the attention given...for a while...they love the new name they live with...for a while and then go right back to living on "skid row" with just nothing but memories that will one day fade away. Too many live weak and shallow lives forgetting that "He is not ashamed to call them brethren." (Heb. 2:11)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

"Love Is"

We look around us and no one has to convince us in any shape there is evil! Read the headline news, listen to the radio and watch those you work around. Look at your family and reflect on how you have been affected by some display of evil. Crime rates soar, prisons are overflowing, nations are brutalizing one another, children are being abused even before they are born as well as after, murder is common, pornography rears its ugly head on the television, movie theaters and the Internet, divorce is acceptable and the hate that is spewed from it, adultery is glamorized and greed is stealing the hearts of multitudes. People berate one another as we live in a dog-eat-dog world. People are takers! Children have learned to be unthankful and always want more as they learned from the parents. You hear, "Don't get mad, get even!" attitudes that come from the lips of so many. Books are written about marital infidelities and become best sellers, soap operas glue people's attention to find out who is having an affair with whom and jealously rages forward. The sleazy bars, drug barons and those addicted to drugs and alcohol seem to be unending. Injustice in our courts and the corruption in the government seems to be the norm. Prolonged suffering for some robs them of their sanity to commit crimes of horrid proportion. Children kill their parents and parents kill their children. It's all depressing wouldn't you say?
Let me give you some amazing news: LOVE IS! In all the above we read and see, isn't it still amazing that love has not and cannot be killed? In all this world of evil, love does not beg for room, it does scream to be heard and it doesn't act like it has no right to be here. Rather than force it's way into lives, it just quietly walks right in the middle of all the garbage and junk and amazingly survives. I'm not speaking of the feeling, tingly natural human love. I am speaking of the self sacrificing love that only comes from above. I am speaking of a sacrificing love of a person who endures the torment of alcoholism from a family member doing everything they can to help while taking abuse on a level no one understands but God. The love that is seen in the wife who can forgive from the heart marital infidelity while the husband shrugs it off as meaning little, wanting to "forget about it and move on" attitude and she faithfully moves forward in her life enduring a pain in her heart while sacrificing love motivates her. The sacrificing love of woman working diligently because of a husband that is too lazy and is always taking.The love that causes men and women to live sacrificially and joyfully, filling their world with the things of God. The love that sacrifices to keep a mate at home when there is no possibility to regain health, but they want to care for that mate day in and day out. A sacrificing love to assemble to worship when a mate is rebellious toward the Lord and does whatever they can to diminish the glory of God. Yes....LOVE IS! As long as there is Jesus...LOVE IS! This sacrificing love is quietly seen in such a world of ours and speaks, telling us that God is in control!!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"Opportunity or Complain?"

We are becoming more and more a nation that does whatever is needed to avoid suffering. Any and everything is done so we will not feel the pain. We also are a nation that is over-run with psychologists and they are thriving more than ever. (I could make a good living if I were licensed by the state!) I look at the church and I see many (especially preachers) that run for the nearest pill or support group because they simply cannot cope. I want you to know I am sensitive toward my brethren and their pain. Pain can crush and brutalize people. But the kind of pain most of us face is real and sharp and sometimes prolonged, but it can be overcome. I wonder what we are really doing in light of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?
We are asked to consider our trials that come into our lives as joy (Jam. 1:2-4). It serves a great purpose for those in Christ. Trials that cause us misery are used to help our faith reach to the Lord and His strength, not withdraw into ourselves and live pitiful, miserable lives. God uses trials, not that He causes them, but uses them to our advantage if we will just have the right attitude and use them as stepping stones toward Him. If we are sinful in our attitudes or our lives are practicing things that are contrary to that of what God desires, He will bring pain into our lives to discipline us to get us back on the path (Heb. 12:4-13). Our Lord uses various difficulties to help our faith and causes pain to keep us pure. That's why we need a proper attitude and view in our suffering. Christian's do not suffer needlessly!!
He was a 7 year old boy that began his day by falling off the school bus and cutting his head. It required two stitches. Upon his return to school, at recess, he collided with another little boy splitting his lip. After lunch he fell and injured his arm so the school principal decided to send him home for the day. The principal put the boy in his car to drive him home. As they drove, the principal noticed him clutching something in his hand. He asked, "What do you have there?" The little boy looked at the principal and became all smiles, showing him a shiny quarter. "Where did you get that?" asked the principal. The boy told him he found it on the playground, then he joyfully let out the words, "I've never found a quarter before. This is the luckiest day ever for me!"
This is what the Lord means when we count things as joy. People find the real reason to rejoice because they know the relationship they have with the Lord and He will use their difficulties to bring good into their faith to strengthen it. We don't deny the pain or act like fools thinking you can't or won't hurt. To consider it as joy when your heart is hurting or you have been disciplined by the Lord means the difficulty is not your lord and master! It keeps one from self pity and taking them into the ruins of depression. I am not trying to be calloused toward those who have a deep trial or feel the pain at the loss of someone they loved. I am trying to get us to focus on the Lord and His intentions in all our struggles. It's easy to be happy, whistle a tune and go about enthusiastically when things are well, but what do we do with those difficult, dark times in our lives? What does the Lord want us to do? If we are in sin....repent and return! If we are hit with some various trial, consider it as joy knowing the Lord will use it for your strengthening! All of this takes a genuine faith. Bottom line, do we see our difficulties as an opportunity to grow or complain?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Parents Step Forward

Parents...the cry is out for parents. God fearing, Bible reading, daily praying parents. I call on mothers and fathers to examine their lives with the Lord and bring that relationship to their children. I have heard too many over the years state when they were growing up, they were not really taught much about their Creator and heavenly Father. Simply put, they were not taught Scriptures! I hear people speak of 'going to church' when they were younger but rarely do I hear that a mother or father spent time examining, explaining and teaching godly principles to their children. I hear, "Say your prayers" or "Be nice" but what about learning about the Father to whom we pray and live for? The value and greatness of such a God who we call upon and gives thanks to, where is that teaching? Why do we live so differently than those around us? Or do we? Somewhere we have come up with the idea that taking a child to the assemblies is what it is all about. Oh, we need the assemblies and bible classes but we need to understand the deeper things involved, their real purposes and goals.
When my children were growing up, I made mistakes in training them. Sometimes I was over-bearing and sometimes I wasn't always right but there is one thing for certain, I had their spiritual welfare at heart! I applied the word of God to my life so I could apply it to theirs! We don't need parents who are indifferent, having little interest in the eternal things or doing things by habit. Children with such parents will place little value on their eternal destiny and love the world more than the Lord. They learn little on what to value and honor. We need mothers and fathers who know about the Lord, teach about the Lord and show the Lord before the eyes of their children. We don't need parents who run a 'boot camp' environment! Children need to be instructed in the love of Christ, shown mercy and grace and see the value of their soul. They need to be corrected when wrong and shown gratitude when they go beyond what is expected. We need parents who teach their children not to follow the traditions of the world but follow Christ and His teachings.
I know I stay concerned for children. I watch my grandchildren and it stays on my heart for their spiritual well being. I pray for my grandchildren and children each and every day! One thing has become clear: parents, you must do the training and teaching in their first six years of life to set in order the path for the rest of their life! What you place in their hearts early on will be what they become later in life. One day when they set out starting their own homes, they will develop a deeper faith provided you have given them the basis for that faith to deepen. They will develop their personal faith and convictions and much of it will come from the things you pointed them toward and taught them. The church of the future is in the hands of parents today. What are you training your children in? Do they gain spiritual insight or just have some little 'lesson' that is cute and nice without coming to an understanding of the heavenly Father who gave His all for their spiritual well being? Parents...please step forward!

Monday, December 8, 2008

"Little Steps"

When my grandson and granddaughter was learning to walk recently, it was something to watch. Little Whitney or Carter would be at our house and I noticed how their mother and father would encourage them to walk on their on. I am an observer of others. Whitney made her steps. Carter made it from one chair to another. I watched the parents of both, looking with glee and pride in their children. Grandmother Resa and grandpa Brent sat there watching with a thrill. I am so thankful to God for Whitney and Carter because they are blessed. They have parents around them that are committed to them. Their parents rejoiced in their success (and they always will)! They counted each step taken on their own. As I watched, my mind shifted for a few moments of wondering how many times my grandchildren had fallen and needed to be helped back up. It was probably a silly thought as I am certain the parents had no clue how many times they had fallen. They don't count the falls. They only wanted to see the steps made forward.
Two thoughts crossed my mind that evening. First, Hebrews 12:1 tells us, implores us to run the race set before us with endurance. We need to lay aside the things that hold us back! We allow too much world, too much influence of other things into our lives that detour us spiritually. We need to run the course the Lord has put each of us on. Secondly, the truth of I Corinthians 13:5 came before my eyes: "[Love] does not take into account a wrong suffered." We have too many who claim to belong to Christ that keep an accurate account of every wrong that someone has done to them. They can recall dates, times and events like they were a CPA with an accountants degree. When people sin, love will confront them with their sin but love keeps no records of that wrong! Those who really care for your eternal well being will gently rebuke you when necessary, but they will never, ever keep an account of your failures to hold a grudge.
I watched Whitney and Carter as they fell time and time again. They were encouraged. What do we do with those around us who seem to fall? Do you ever consider that you too are sinful from time to time? What do we do with ourselves? Looking to the Christ, it should keep us alert and awake to never keep a record. There is One who sees us all for who and what we really are rather than what we think we are or even wish were were. And can you believe it, He won't keep a record of your wrongs if you are honest and humble before Him! Let's learn a lesson...

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Brief Thought

Sin ruins peoples lives! It makes them miserable, deceives themselves and is the leading cause to depression. It produces a spiritual darkness in the heart and blinds the sight of those involved in sin. People in sin think they are fooling others not realizing how easy it is to see into their lives by their attitudes and actions.
"He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion." (Prov. 28:13) Have you ever wondered why it is so difficult to find contentment and peace in your life? Are you holding to sin? Some people it seems fight to stay in their sins. They don't want to give it up even though they know they should. That's what creates the misery and pain in their heart. Sin means more to them than the Lord! That should scare us. You want to find compassion? You want to find real joy and contentment? You need to be honest about your sins, confess them to the Lord and forsake walking in sins paths! We each must decide. One decision leads to life. The other will keep us in death which will keep us miserable and unhappy and yet, the answer is right before our eyes. The real question is do we really want the freedom found in Jesus? Do we really believe?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

"Bruised Reeds/Smoldering Wicks"

Isaiah speaks of Jesus, 700 years before His arrival: "A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish." (Isa. 42:3) Matthew records this verse in Matthew 12:20 in speaking of Jesus. We are getting a description of Jesus and His character. What does this reveal to us?
We are all weak in many ways. Some are more fragile than others. It amazes me how many do not see this. Many, especially in the church, think everyone should be this "super Christian" that feels no burdens and if there is worry, they lack a great deal of faith and are condemned. We seem to squelch those who struggle with weakness by showing such "super Christian faith" and it makes those weak hide in shame thinking they are rejected by God and forsaken because they struggle. Let me try to give some encouraging words to those who have struggles who read this blog.
In ancient times, there was a reed called kaneh in Hebrew. It grew up to fifteen feet tall. If one cut it in the proper way, it could be used as a measuring rod or walking staff. It was also used to offer up heavy sponges filled with vinegar to a poor sufferer on a cross! But these reeds were also hollow and had to be dealt with carefully. If bent too far, they would break or if they were bruised, they would snap them off at the bruise to try to use the rest. Sometimes the bruised reed was considered as useless.
Here is the good part...Jesus is revealed as a Savior and Lord that when people find themselves bruised, beaten down and weak, He will not break them off or discard them. Jesus is for each of us that are weak and bruised from life's attacks. We find ourselves looking at us, how weak we are, our failures and how much we lack, yet here is Jesus who will not lean too hard and will not discard you because of a struggle.
They also used lamps that had a small strip of flax in it. When the oil of those lamps got low, the flax would start drying out and give off an irritating smoke. The natural thing to do was reach over with your fingers and poof! - a dead wick that was no longer a bother.
Jesus is shown to us as our Savior that is aware that sometimes, we have failed and struggled with things, where our flame is almost exhausted. We think, "The Lord must surely be tired of me. I should be doing better!" What does Jesus do? He doesn't smother you out. No, gently and carefully He places in new oil, fanning it until it grows into a light again. Jesus is for the weak and fragile people that He died for! That means He is for me. Why is it so hard for us to believe that? Because we always look at us and not Him!!!
Isn't it an amazing description of our Lord? We need to know how much He wants us in heaven. He did not give His life for us to be overcome and lose our souls. He desires beyond words for us to make it. If your faith is weak or stuggles wear on you, Jesus is not discarding you. He will do whatever it takes to help. What's more amazing, before His death His crown was thorns and in His right hand He was given...no less a reed for a scepter and even beat Him on the head with that reed (Matt. 27:29-31). And we question if He really wants us? A bruised reed and a smoldering wick He will not despise....may we give thanks with a renewed faith.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"Sticking Up For the Underbird"

In a Charlie Brown cartoon years back, Charlie was hard at work building a birdhouse. Here comes Lucy along and Charlie Brown says, "This birdhouse is going to be for sparrows only!" She grates back at him, "For sparrows? Nobody builds birdhouses for sparrows, Charlie Brown!" He dismisses her statement and with a glee remarks, "I do! I always stick up for the underbird!!"
Sparrows are everywhere. While I was in Nigeria, there were these plain, dull looking sparrows. We had a group of sparrows on our bird feeder outside our window the other morning and I noticed they chirped and jumped about, but there was little beauty to them compared to other birds. They are just...well dull, common and sometime a bother.
Sparrows were back in the times of Jesus and Jesus used them to reveal a major truth. "Are not sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father...so do not fear; you are more valuable than sparrows." (Matt. 10:29,31) What comforting words from our Lord. Today we live in a society that steps on one another. Some will not rub shoulders with people who they feel are beneath them. People come from all avenues of life. Some barely eek out a living while others just have difficulty finding their place in life. People are pretty, ugly, nice and mean. We pick out those who are like us! We think of our nice homes and good upright behavior makes us somebody and we dare not touch those who are less than that. You see it in the church when someone comes in a little dirty, a little smelly and we avoid them but someone comes in dressed nicely, we immediately go to them and make ourselves known. (I believe James 2 addresses this issue.) In all our judgments between us and others , we seem to miss the teachings of Jesus. It's those poor, dirty clothed, not as well dressed, plain common folks that so many avoid that Jesus does not! He does not despise them or place them in a category by themselves. No, our Lord and Master loves humans, all humans! Those self righteous who think they are better than others share in common with those who they feel are beneath them. We all share in the power of sin and in need of the death of Jesus to free us from that. No one is exempt!
We need to realize Jesus died for us ungodly, filthy people. While on earth, Jesus was around the lame, sick and hurting people. He condemned those who thought they were better because they had greater opportunities in life. If God knows when a small, plain, ordinary, easily over-looked sparrow falls to the ground, that shows us that God is for the 'underbird!' We need to stick up for the 'underbird' knowing they too are in need of redemption. No matter your lot in life, Jesus cares for each of us and wants us in heaven. From that we should draw comfort and reach out to all!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

"What's Wrong With Me?"

He was an angry man. He had a wife and family but he lived his life in turmoil, creating heartache for his wife and children. There was little joy found in him. When he was around others, he could put on the front that made him look like he was pleasant but it didn't take long in conversation to hear his negative tones and cutting demeanor come out. When he would come home from his work, he talked down to his wife, treating her with contempt when she had done nothing. He created misery for himself and his family. Those that should be the dearest and find peace, happiness and companionship was nothing but an empty, hollow, lifeless shell. Simply put, he just didn't seem to care about anyone. He was a loner, misable and a complainer. People often wonder how those who call themselves Christians can live such lives. It is easy and the explanation might surprise you.
"There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." (Rom. 2:9-10) Here is the reality to the soul of every person. A person that is troubled and distressed, that causes havoc in the lives of others, is a person who is hiding some kind of evil in their lives. The sin they are hiding has taken hold within their soul and they in turn take that guilty pain and spew it on others. On the other side, you take someone who loves and lives for the Lord, they are humble and repentant, have much peace in their souls and that peace shows itself by living honorable lives that glorify the Lord. Their family is blessed! These are the two types of people. I sat with a Christian mother, who shared with me how awful she has treated her husband over the last year. She would snap his head off for no reason and constantly attacked him by calling him names, especially when he would do her good. She could not take that. It took 14 months for her to admit openly that she had a secret affair going on and she knew it was wrong but the thrill of the secret drove her to continue. Sin had overtaken her life and the turmoil ensued while she deceived herself into thinking is was alright to do. We deal with a real, eternal God who knows and sees it all. He will give to each one according to the life they live and it will reach their soul.
God is a God of peace and when people spew hateful, bad attitudes around those they "supposedly" love, something is wrong in their soul. Go back to the garden and see how sin entered into Adam and Eve's lives. The moment sin entered, the hiding started. The hiding led to blaming everyone and never standing and confessing their sins in the presence of God. As a result, they were driven from the garden and the presence of the Lord. What is worse is that the longer one stays in their sins, it only grows stronger and the conscience and life become hardened. The result is hateful, belittling attitude, unloving toward their mates and children, no care for the brotherhood and no love for the Lord. To mistreat your mate will cut you off from the Lord! Paul told Timothy that these kind of people only "hold to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power." (II Tim. 3:5) We then learn that "evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived." (II Tim. 3:13) Many times they admit they aren't happy but refuse the Lord's way to find peace and happiness. They won't get better until they decide to confess and forsake their sins! That takes an honest and good heart but the longer one stays in their sins, the heart erodes into evil and it becomes very difficult to find your way back. (You can get to the point of no return because of a stubborn, unrepentant heart!) The heart that was once moved by love has become black and hard. Now that should concern us!

Monday, December 1, 2008


People that are sincere in their faith and have a serious attitude and desire for the Lord will tell you when they speak about the love of God, well...there is not a lot to say. People who seem to play the religious game speak of the love (and grace) as a free stamp of approval to practice whatever it is they do with little desire to change their thinking or ways. They seem to use statements like: "God doesn't make junk!" or "He's not done with me yet!"If we are honest in our thinking, we probably would have to admit we know little about the love of God. Maybe that's just me and I need some help from you to know His love better.
When Paul spoke of the love of Christ, he said it surpassed knowledge (Eph. 3:19). Christ's love goes beyond our knowledge, our sense of how precious it is. Paul's prayer was that each and everyone of us be rooted and grounded it love, to be able to comprehend the breadth, length, height and depth of His love (Eph. 3:17-18). I am not sure what to do with all the above but I know one thing, we seem to miss the power and awesomeness of the love of Christ. How little effect it has on our minds. How little the love of Christ helps us make decisions and choices in life. The love of Christ is great and wonderful in sermons and bible classes, but when someone steps on our toes, disagrees with our thoughts or corrects us, watch out...love is out the door! Fences go up, the defense mechanisms start sounding and we put up barriers so we will not be hurt. That demonstrates how little we really know about love. I am speaking of the love that goes beyond our knowledge. It is a practiced love, as seen in Christ for us. It is an undeserving love, as seen in Christ for us. It is a love that puts up no barriers, as seen in the love of Christ for us. It is a love that motivates one to move forward when there is no reason to move forward, as seen in the love of Christ for us.
Love is beyond our thinking. It is so high, so deep, so wide and long that...well, I just don't really understand it. But I do understand this, His love is to be the determining factor in all my decisions, my actions and that the love of Christ is to control us (II Cor. 5:14). Now that is something to think about! May God open the eyes of our hearts to grasp hold of His love, forgiving as He forgave me. That's where it begins!