Not Me Christmas

I have never done a "Not Me" posting. It's pretty much sarcasm, so it shouldn't be too hard to pick up.

Today is Christmas day. A relaxing kind of day filled with gifts and family and fun. So, I did NOT spend an hour with the doors and windows open clearing the house of smoke from something my beautiful wife did NOT do. If she did, you could read about it here. But she most certainly did not.
I did NOT have to turn off the heat, get out the fans and blow cold air through the house. I did not have to take the oven apart to scrape off burnt monkey bread juice.
Nope. It was a perfectly relaxing day with smiles and good times.

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The Kingdom of God

I was walking into work earlier this week reflecting on why I am where I am. I work for a big company and do a rather complicated job. Most new hires make quite a bit more money than I do because I worked into my job instead of going to college and getting a degree. I'm still working on the degree when I can, but it doesn't fit my life right now. My children are young and that only happens once, so I am going to enjoy them. When I was in school, all I did was work and study. It was a lot of stress on my family. It's not worth it.
Now, I am not boo-hooing my station. Sometimes I do, but that's getting to be less and less. Mostly I get upset with coworkers complaining about their boat needing repair or that they have to buy another car because the high performance vehicle isn't good in the winter and the only one they can find in the color they like is $40k. I just tell them to stop blubbering or trade jobs with one ever seems to want to do that. On the other hand, I LOVE what I do. It's terribly interesting and challenging. I've had the entry level jobs here too. They can be very dull. No thinking required and that makes for a long day. But sometimes I wonder why I haven't progressed further.
So, as I was walking in thinking about this I thought of 1 Tim. 6:6 "But godliness with contentment is great gain."
Yeah, ok. How to be content?
1 Tim 4:8 "...but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come."
Matt 6:33 "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things will be added unto you."

A few words on the kingdom of God. Many times in the new testament - I came up with several dozen in e-sword - the phase "kingdom of God" is used. It's used to describe Heaven, of course. But it's also used to describe Jesus Himself. See Matt. 12:28,  Matt 21:43, Mark 1:14. There are a lot more. It's this usage that I think the Holy Spirit was directing me to that morning.

In order to find contentedness, I need to seek after Jesus and live the life He has commanded me to live in Matt 22:38-39. While doing those things, I will become more like Jesus and see this world for what it is - temporary. And also full of opportunity to share Christ's love. I will also begin to look forward to "that which is to come." With a view of the world through Jesus' eyes and looking forward to Heaven, I can see how one could be content. Sounds so simple, huh?

I'm not going to kid myself on that. I've been saved a long time and I don't have it together often enough. I don't spend much time thinking about Heaven. After the memorial I went to this week, it seems I need to have that more in the front of my mind.

I'm also not much of an evangelist. I like reading, studying and teaching the Bible and I don't have a problem defending my faith. I just don't tend to go up to perfect strangers and start sharing Jesus with them like I've seen some people do. I'm shy when it comes to that. But if I can look at people through Jesus' eyes, I will see how lost they are. Isn't their eternity more important than my shyness? God help me to be bold.

Eyes on the prize - eternity with Jesus. Run the Race which has been set before you.

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Honey's Memorial

Last night I went to a memorial for someone I never met, that I recall anyway. My wife knew her though. After hearing everyone recount memories of Honey - evidently the perfect nickname -  I consider it my loss that I never got to know her. This was a woman who absolutely lived the Bible. Mother to 8 kids, grandmother to 11, not including all those unrelated to her who had the privilege of calling her Nanny. She actually felt sorry for anyone who didn't have a big family to love.
What I took away from the memorial is that Honey believed that togetherness was everything and Love could overcome any troubles or issues to preserve that togetherness. Hebrews 10:24-25 encourages us to be together and to encourage each other in love and to love. No matter what was going on, if Honey had her family around her to love, she would say, "I had the best."
She was also an example of courage. She lived fearlessly with cancer holding on to Joshua 1:9. She understood and applied the fact that this is a commandment from God to be courageous because God is with you wherever you go.

I wish I could say I experienced first hand the love this woman spread. I will say that just seeing the hundreds of people who came to the service makes me want to live that kind of life. To have that kind of impact. I pray that God would write the verses Honey lived by and the songs that she loved to sing on my heart. That I might leave one-tenth the legacy Honey has.

Heaven has gained a wonderful treasure and this world has lost some of its shine with the passing of Honey.

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God IS faithful

 My wife and I have been struggling lately financially. In the midst of it, God has been saying to us, "Well, you don't tithe faithfully. How can I bless what you don't give?" So, we've committed that we will give as God directs (not according to what's left over.) And we've been amazingly blessed. 2 weeks ago, we found out that we qualify for heating assistance. With what was provided there, we probably won't have to pay for heat this winter. We came home from church last week to a Christmas tree and some bags of food on our patio. And I was saying to Kelli that God is really blessing us with all these things. "It's not always a miraculous check in the mail that you can't explain. God provides in amazing ways." And I really believe that. But yesterday was ridiculous. We were getting ready to go shopping. We looked ahead at our bills, etc to see what the budget would be (we need an official budget to be formulated while I'm on vacation). We included our tithe, which was painful, but pretty safe. So, as Kelli is putting the numbers into Quicken, I said put in $xxx, which was more than I had said the first time. She kinda looked funny at me and I said, please put it in. She did.
So, we go shopping, and the membership we thought we had to renew wasn't expired, saving us some money. Plus, we didn't spend near as much as I figured we would. I thought, "See, God's blessing us." I had nooo idea what was coming. Kelli was reading a bed-time story to the kids and I went to get the mail. In the mail was an envelope with no return address. Looked like a Christmas card at first glance. Inside the envelope was a short note and a check for $xxx, the exact amount God told me to tell Kelli to put in for the tithe! I just laughed. I didn't know what else to do...except pray and thank God. I gave the letter and check to Kelli to look at, without saying anything...she was equally stunned.
I don't know how God does these things. I've also never been one to test Him on it. I'm a chicken and I am somewhat controlling.

I know this post seems obsessed with money. Don't be distracted. It's about God's faithfulness and His amazing love for His children. I'm not boo-hooing my financial situation. It is what it is and some of it is my fault. But more than that, I think God knows that this is where some of His kids need to be in order to be reliant on Him. In much the same way He didn't heal the apostle Paul. He told Paul, "My grace is sufficient for thee."

I've heard it said many times that the wallet is often the last thing a person surrenders to God. And that a person's faith can be measured by their checkbook. In many ways, that is really true. My family is holding on to God because all of our efforts to make things work have failed. We really need Him and that's where He wants us, and it's becoming the place I want to be. I believe He may keep us here until the lesson is well and truly learned.

Please learn from us and take special note of Solomon in Ecclesiastes. He had everything and it was worthless to him because God wasn't in it.


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Ezek 3:6-20

Just some thoughts...
Ezekiel is being given instructions about his ministry to Israel. He's been given things to tell them and the Lord is telling him to go. Verse 6 is an interesting verse. It says that God is not sending Ezekiel to people who don't understand him or who he can't understand. They can converse quite well. In fact, had God sent him to a new people, they would listen and repent. In v7, God says that Ezekiel shouldn't expect them to listen either...they won't listen to God, why would they listen to him? This is a hardhearted bunch. They know the law. They've heard this before, but they will not turn.
Isn't that true for many of us? How many people do we know that don't have a right relationship with God? Yet, because they may have grown up going to church or because we are a "Christian" nation, they think they've got a lock on Heaven. After all, "I'm a good person. I've never killed anyone. Look at that guy! I'm not like him." My wife and I have that in our family. People who were maybe baptized as an infant or who received their first communion or who go to a Christian church now. The problem is if you lack a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you are NOT ok. John 3:3 says "Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." It's not works, church, baptism that get you into Heaven. It's a personal relationship with Jesus. Those other things will be an outgrowth of your relationship.
It's hard, though, to tell this to people you know and get them to listen. Mark 6:4 reminds us that "a prophet has no honor in his own country." Familiarity breeds contempt? In Matthew 11, Christ rebukes three towns because He was with them all the time. They saw His miracles, heard His message, yet they rejected Him. We have it even worse...we're sinners. People see us do some rotten stuff. So, what do we do? Just keep living your Christianity the best way you know how.
Verses 8 and 9 can be an encouragement. God is telling Ezekiel that though he'll meet resistance and complacency, God will strengthen him. Remember that the results are not our responsibility. Delivering the message is (v.11).
In verse 14, Ezekiel admits he goes reluctantly.
Verse 18 warns us that if we are told to go, we had better or the blood of those we don't witness to will be on our head. That includes correcting a fellow Christian if need be (v20).
It's not about being comfortable. It's really about Love. If you love someone, why would you let them go to hell just because you might be uncomfortable? Or let a Christian continue in sin?
It's hard, though. And I've said before that I am lacking in the tact department so I might be ready to correct someone, but I offend them so badly that I have to apologize. That can be counter-productive. I also have a hard time knowing when I should say something. There are those that are unteachable. Proverbs 9:8 talks about that. Sometimes it's better to just keep living your Christianity out loud.

But when God tells you to go...go. He'll strengthen you and you will be blessed for your obedience no matter what the outcome.

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Explosive Job Market

I had another of those random thoughts this week.
The site I work at is in a business complex. The building next to mine belonged to another company that built computer chips like we do. That building is now closed and is being dismantled. All the equipment is being taken out and decontaminated, etc. The other day, I was driving in and saw a couple guys with a big spool of cord. Not that I know anything about explosives, but it looked like detonation cord you'd see in a movie. So, I thought, "Are they gonna demolish the building?" That would be cool to watch. It would never happen due to the possible damage to our building. But then I thought, "IBM should have bought that building before it was emptied out. Then we could blow it up and have a whole new factory. I mean, surely if the elements could come together by chance, explode and create the whole universe, we could blow up a building with all the stuff needed for a chip fabricator and come up with a whole new one. Right?"
But then, would we have to wait for the factory to evolve? That takes millions of years. Not good for economic recovery.

I don't know. Maybe not.

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Ezekiel 3:1

 I'm studying Ezekiel now. I've read it before, but always shied away from in-depth study because of the first chapter. What on earth is he talking about?!? Wheels? The four creatures? I'm not real big on using commentaries. Simply because I don't like to let someone's words shape my thinking too much when I am studying. I think it can take away from letting the Holy Spirit teach me. I am not bagging on commentaries or those who use them. I am only saying that I can get lazy if I have someone else to do the thinking for me. But I have to admit that I broke down on Ezekiel chapter 1 and got some help. Jon Courson has a really great explanation.
 But, I want to talk about what God showed me in chapter 3 this week.
In verse 1, Ezekiel is told to eat the roll. The roll is God's word for Israel. He is telling Ezekiel to take His words to heart (v 10). That's the same thing we are to do. When you read the Word, ask yourself what it means for you. What does it tell you about yourself, your situation, or God's plan for you.
There should be no "snacking" on God's word. The Bible is God communicating to us. It's how He expresses His character to us. And how He reveals His will for us.
Jesus said in John 4:34, "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me and to finish His work."
Take God's work and do what He gives you to do. For Ezekiel, it was to go to Israel and deliver God's word. What has God given you to do?

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how easily we fall

I edited this from the original post. There was some concern that it would be perceived as gossip.

So I just got a call from a friend. It doesn't matter what the subject of the call was. I was asked a question and apparently didn't give the "right" answer. What I got at the end of the call was, "If you change your mind, give me a real call." What a load of guilt and garbage that is. Does that mean it's only a real phone call if I do what you want? Problem is, I think my friend means well and I really admire this person, so I let it go. I have to anyway. God judges the intent of our hearts...not my job.

We have to understand that we don't know the call God has on someone's life. We think, oh you'd be good at that, or you have talent for this. So what? Is God telling you to do that? I do think that God gives us talents and wants us to use them for His glory...but He has the final say in that.

Serving is hard and I am not suggesting that everything will go smoothly. It won't. There are humans involved, therefore drama. So do yourself a favor and ask God what He wants for you. And DO NOT put your faith in men. It's something we say a lot, but then forget and do it anyway. People stink and they want what they want.

God, I want to serve you in whatever capacity you have for me. Help me to KNOW what that is and how you want me to go about it.

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Why does it hurt more when a Christian hurts you?

This is in response to a post my wife put on her blog.

This is something my wife and I have experienced quite a bit over the past year. Some of my recent blogs have been part of this whole experience. Here’s my 2 cents on why I think it’s more painful when a Christian hurts you.

When you call yourself a Christian, you are saying that you identify with Christ and His character. You are saying that you agree with what Jesus says are the 2 most important things. Namely: 1. Love the Lord your God with all you heart, soul, mind. 2. Love your neighbor as yourself. (Matt 22: 37, 39).
Now, there is no expectation that any of us is always going to hit that target 100% of the time. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Rom. 3:23. That isn’t the point. The point is more what you do about it when you do miss. What doesn’t seem to happen often enough is to admit that you acted poorly, selfishly, whatever. I recently had to go do that and what strikes me as funny (sad) is that I had to set up a meeting, get a mediator and have a special gathering in order to apologize to someone. That backs up my feeling that our culture has decided that you can offend someone and then just ignore each other for a while, cool off and forget it ever happened. Because then you never have to look at your own heart or motives. One thing I learned throughout the past six weeks is that even though I may believe the methods and motives of the people who hurt me is at fault, I still play a major part in the success or failure of any relationship.
We also have to take a look at what Love is. Love isn’t always agreeing. Love isn’t just saying nice words. Love is putting the other person first. One aspect of Love is looking out for the other person’s eternal future. Do you care enough about a person to put them first? You may think you are right about something but is it worth the other person’s honor? Is it worth the anger or pain that either or both of you may carry around interfering with your fellowship with God? That doesn’t go away. God does not have a statute of limitations on wronging someone. Matt 5:23-24 says (in my words), “if you know you have an issue with someone, before you come to Me, go fix it.” And, Matt 6:14-15 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
On the other hand, Love also corrects. If someone you know is doing something you know to be sinful and damaging to them, you must tell them. Even though you might be afraid of what the person will think. Jesus rebuked Peter in Mark 8 because Peter’s view was not eternal. He didn’t want to see Jesus killed. But Jesus knew what needed to be done to secure our Redemption. It was important to correct Peter’s thinking and get him in line with the Eternal plan of God.
Proverbs has quite a bit to say about this. Prov. 9:8, 13:1, 24:25. I like Proverbs 27:5 the best, “Open rebuke is better than secret Love.” This, by the way, is an art. I think of myself as a truth-teller. Not in a bragging way, just that the truth is the truth and when I see/hear someone blatantly ignoring or twisting the truth, I am compelled to speak up. I am woefully short on the art part. I come on pretty strong most times. That’s bad. Motive good – Method bad.

So, on and on I go. Sorry. What it comes down to is this: life is hard. The world is cold and getting further from God every day. As Christians, our time with other Christians is supposed to be an escape, of sorts, from the world. When that safety is taken away it can be worse because we were expecting to be spiritually and emotionally hugged and reassured. Our defenses are down. Instead we get a sucker-punch. And as I said before, the response too often is to go to your separate corners and wait for each other to cool off. And the outward anger may dissipate, but I submit that the inner pain may only increase over time as distrust and bitterness take root.

Ok. I think that’s enough for now.

NET: Love the Lord your God with all you heart, soul and mind. Love your neighbor as yourself.

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Now what?

Last night, despite Satan's attempt to thwart it, I was able to close the book on some significant misery. I've been very upset with some people for the past few months. That's over now. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for giving me the courage and strength to do what's right...right in God's eyes, if not mine. Thank you, Kelli, for putting up with my pacing around the house, for being an ear for my babbling, for always supporting me.

I am not going to say that my flesh was satisfied. But, I was obedient and great peace resulted.

Now what? For my wife. She has not had the same opportunity to get things off her chest that I have had. I am not even sure how to make that happen. She was collateral damage from the battle. Her heart has been wounded as a result of the problems between me and other people. We've discussed confrontation, but both know that goes nowhere. I want her unhurt, but only God can do that. I'll continue to pray for her healing and the ability to let it go or the wisdom to take it head on.

Now what? For my kids. My kids don't understand what's going on. They miss their friends. I just keep avoiding their questions. They are young. They will adjust. I have to pray for wisdom to speak to my 6-year-old. He'll understand what I am saying, but might not be able to process the whole thing.

Now what? For me. What is God's will? Where am I supposed to be? I'm told I am welcome wherever I want to go. I no longer want to go where I want to go. I want to go where I am supposed to go...where the gifts the Holy Spirit has given me can and will be used. Much prayer needed along that line. With so many people I know right now, this process seems like trial and error. Undesirable methodology...but I don't know (for 100% certain) that there's a better method. There is always faith involved. There are always people other than yourself involved - whose motives you may misread. However, not serving is not an option.

Lesson: Ask God, "What now?" When He answers, and He will answer, do what He says. Ask Him what He wants you to do. Got an idea? Test it against scripture. Does it fit your gifts and function in the Body? Be sure it came from the Holy Spirit to the best of your ability. Be brutally honest with yourself. God will bring out the truth eventually anyway. Understand, especially if you have a family to lead, that you make no decision in a vacuum. You will affect a LOT of people.
If you ask, "Now what?" before you jump, you can avoid asking, "Now what?" as you clean up the mess as I am now doing.

The good news...God wants to help me clean up the mess. He will absolutely bring beauty from this. My family will grow stronger.

I know I used these verses recently, but they are appropriate.
Heb 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
Heb 13:6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

UPDATE: It occurred to me while doing dishes that I didn't mention the fact that there are extremely difficult situations that God allows us to go through. In good times and bad, "Now what?" Think of Job. Horrible times, but he would not turn his back on God. Remember Jonah. He was cruising. God told him to do something...he didn't. From the belly of the great fish, "Now what?" He got back on track.
Anyway, I guess my point is, even when we are in God's will, He may want to refine us further. Trials can be good too.

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follow on to Sunday's Message

I wanted to share what the Holy Spirit was showing me in church yesterday. We are finishing 2 Corinthians. We were in chapter 12 talking about Paul. In chapter 11 he is asking the church at Corinth why they have gotten away from the simplicity of the Gospel that he taught them (v.3). The second half of the chapter talks about Paul's sufferings and "qualifications" to be thought of as authoritatively as the false teachers coming in.
Chapter 12 is where Paul talks about his thorn in the flesh (vv. 7-10). Paul has some infirmity that really bugs him. He asks God three times to take it away. God says, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness."
Paul goes on to say that he glories in the infirmity so that God can be glorified. Verse 10 says that anything that happens to you for Christ's sake is good..."for when I am weak, then am I strong."
That's the part I want to talk about.

This is not exactly a revelation, but something that God has been pounding into me for the last month. When I, that is the physical, fleshly, mortal, corrupt "I", is set aside by me (thereby made unimportant and a weak influence on the situation) God in my life is shown strong. If you set aside your will, your fleshly desires, all that's left is God's will and work in your life.

Let's say a situation is presented where you are working with someone on a project. You may both have an idea about how to solve the problem. What does it actually cost you to give up your idea and go with the other person's idea? A little pride maybe? The upside is you get to show honor to the other person by putting them ahead of you...even though you may have really liked your idea.

In Matthew 22: 36-40, Jesus said there are 2 commandments:
Mat 22:36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
Mat 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
Mat 22:38 This is the first and great commandment.
Mat 22:39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Mat 22:40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Verse 39 does not say to wait for your neighbor to deserve to be treated with the same love and respect you give yourself. It just says to do it.

That is how we are to treat people. Less of me, more of Christ.
John 3:30 "He must increase, but I must decrease."
Interesting that there's a but there. The but can be translated as "moreover" or "now". Meaning Jesus must increase in my life. Now for that to happen, I must decrease. There isn't room for both.

Jesus Christ, whom we say we emulate if we are Christians, was the uber example of the commandments in Matthew 22. Jesus left Heaven, lived 33 years on this Earth, endured rejection from his own people. He died a horribly painful, humiliating death and separation from his heavenly Father (that's the cup He mentions in Gethsemane - God's wrath). Who do we like to say He did that for? You and me, right? Yes, but that's too quaint. Romans 5:8 says, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
Jesus did not wait for us to deserve His love. We'll never be worthy of that. That's how much He loves us. And He asks us to let the Holy Spirit empower us to love each other that way.

If you don't have Jesus empowering your life and you want this power, pray this:
God, I know I am a sinner. I am sorry for my sins (mean it). I believe you died on a cross and were raised 3 days later to save me from my sins and an eternity in Hell. Jesus, come into my life. Make me new. Be my savior. In Jesus' name, Amen.

P.S. all I got in church was John 3:30. I guess God wanted me to think a little more about this. :)

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Random thought

Bear with me a bit. I really don't know where this is going just yet.
Have you ever been with a group of friends having a really good time, playing cards for instance, and the next time you are together you try to recreate the moment? You know, you're thinking, that was such a good time, I want to have it again. Have you ever noticed how flat the result is? It's never the same.
(Kinda the opposite of your bad never want that to happen again. If you are like me, you remember those things vividly and live your life trying to avoid anything that could lead to that event. Talk about bondage.)
Is it because we don't know what the next day could bring and we want to stay in the good times? For me, it's probably related to control. I don't need to control a situation myself, as in being in charge, but I need to know that things are on track.
We need to remember that God has a plan. It's been running since time began...

Isa 51:13 And forgettest the LORD thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth...

and He knew the outcome before time began...

Rom 8:28-31 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

Most importantly, there's nothing in God's plan that's bad for you.

Jer 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

Maybe where this was going is this...
Face every day and ask God what He wants you to do that day. Serve God and glory in His presence today. He's here with you now. He's not in an event or trapped in a moment of your past, good or bad. He's in your life and He wants to do something great through you. Ask Him what that is.
Jer 33:2 Thus saith the LORD the maker thereof, the LORD that formed it, to establish it; the LORD is his name;
Jer 33:3 Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.

If you don't know whether God is with you, pray this:
God, I know I am a sinner. I am sorry for my sins (mean it). I believe you died on a cross and were raised 3 days later to save me from my sins and an eternity in Hell. Jesus, come into my life. Make me new. Be my savior. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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Gotta get back

So, I've been in a rather bad place for a couple of months. As so often happens, I didn't even know how bad it was. Suffice it to say that I am on my way out. The Holy Spirit is leading me through the process. Quite gracious (as we know God is) considering I pushed him away as I was headed off in the flesh. Unintentionally, but nevertheless...

I've caused my share of pain as well. I am so thankful for the brother who so easily forgave me today.

Here's what I know for sure:
Heb 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
Heb 13:6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
Heb 13:7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.
Heb 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. (emphasis mine)

There are still a lot of things rattling around in my head. I am getting a lot of help from the Holy Spirit (lots of conviction that I needed) through Miles McPherson. I'd really like to meet him some day.

I will write what I can here. I don't know how much I should or shouldn't say. I don't want to gossip or disparage anyone even if I don't use names. I'll pray about it. But I think it's important to organize my thoughts, test them against scripture, and just get it out.

See you soon...

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Verses from the week

The following are the verses I was given this week, either to me by the Holy Spirit or through friends. They are in no particular order.

Php 1:27 Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;

Isa 25:4 For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.

Pro 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Isa 40:31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

1Co 1:30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: 31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

And for good measure...Is. 50 (the whole thing)

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walking my shoes off

Christianity is described as a walk. (Rom 6:4, 2 Cor 5:7, and many others) Lately it seems like my shoes are wearing out from the effort of maintaining my walk with Christ. 2 things come to mind with respect to this.
1. While the children of Israel were wandering in the desert, their sandals never wore out. (Neh 9:21 Yea, forty years didst thou sustain them in the wilderness, so that they lacked nothing; their clothes waxed not old, and their feet swelled not.) God sustained them. God will sustain us as well. Remember John 10:29 "My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand." We are in His hand. He will hold us up.

2. Maybe my shoes are worn because I don't spend enough time on my knees.

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My Son's worldview

I was on line at the grocery store today with two of my boys when the oldest shared his worldview with everyone. They were riding in one of those carts shaped like a car. I had the 5 year old and 3 year old with me and they were jammed in there, but they insisted on riding in it. Well, by the time we hit the checkout, the 3 year old was getting on his brother's nerves...he's real good at that. He was using his older brother's steering wheel. So big brother yells to me, "He's using my steering wheel." To which I sarcastically replied, "Oh, well the world is ending."
"Good, now I can go to Heaven," he says.

I love to think that my boys already have the proper worldview.

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There are no accidents

OK. So last night was a good way.
I went to church to break down my drum kit in preparation for the new carpeting coming this week. There was supposed to be a couple's study there, so I waited until 8:30 or so to go over. As I was walking up the sidewalk, the church looked dark. I saw some cars that I knew, so someone must be there. They were in the back, but the sanctuary lights were off, so you couldn't tell anyone was in the building. Yes, there is a reason I am telling you this stuff.
So, I go into the sanctuary, turn on the lights and start taking my drums apart. A few minutes later, this guy walks into the church. He had no place to stay and he and his wife wouldn't have anywhere til Tuesday. He said he saw the light on and just had to come in and ask for help. I am a cynic, so I was afraid of a scam, but I wasn't discerning anything unusual about him. So, I called the pastor and asked if we could help him. We were able to help him with a couple of nights at the hotel...turns out he had a baby in the van as well. He didn't tell me up front, probably so he didn't sound like he was running a scam trying to get extra sympathy with the baby.
So he goes out to the van to check on his family and wait for pastor to call back with the all good message. When he came back in he told me his van was running out of gas. Cynic takes over and this for real? I don't carry cash as a rule, and tonight was no exception. I can't really help the guy. He understood. I offered him food, which we have in our food pantry, but that he already had. He just ran out of cash. While we're waiting, I ask myself if I should present him with the Gospel. Never ask yourself that question...present the Gospel. It's the Holy Spirit telling you, not you asking yourself. I failed, I chickened out.
So, he leaves for the hotel and I go back to my drums. A few minutes later, I look out the window and there's a van stalled in the street about a half a block up from the church. I'm thinking, this has to be the guy. I finish what I'm doing, while I argue with myself about whether or not I should go out there. I don't want to freak them out. And I would not want to have anyone offer me help because I am proud and this isn't a proud moment. So I project that onto this guy (stupid, since he's already come to me for help) and I finish with my drums. Now I go out and sure's the guy. Van's dead in the street. Some of the people from the couple's study were out trying to help him, but they didn't have enough gas to start the van. So I go home, get my gas can, weird my wife out by telling her the most cryptic of descriptions of my night so far, fill the can with gas and go back to town where the van had moved about 100 feet. None of my friends are there. Probably figured since the van started that he'd be fine. We put the gas in the tank. This time, I just blurt out "Do you know Jesus as your savior?" He replies, "Oh, we know all about that stuff." "No, I mean, do you know Him, not about him?" "We're fine, really." Well, I can't browbeat him to salvation. But I gave him a bible with some tracts in it to read. I told him, not asked him, to read it. (By the way, I have my friend Doug to thank for this style of witnessing. No preamble, no small talk...just Do you know Jesus?) Now I go wash off all the gas I spilled on myself and go home to tell my wife what happened. And then lay there in bed unable to sleep with all the excitement.

There are no accidents:
1. No one is there on Sunday nights. The couples usually meet on a different week.
2. The sanctuary is dark when no one is in it even if someone's in the building.
3. I had to wait til 8:30 to go deal with my drums so as not to disturb the couples.
4. This guys just saw the light on and had to come in.
5. His van ran out of gas IN FRONT OF THE CHURCH!
6. If we hadn't helped him, he couldn't have run the van to keep the baby warm.
UPDATE (5/18 PM) 7. Carpet was damaged in carpet installation this week. I never needed to be there.
This guy is at a low point of his life. He needs the love of Christ. We got to show him that Love. He also needs to know that Jesus loves him and will take care of him. I kinda blew that, but God gave me a second chance (see number 5).

One question: who was this encounter for?

Don't miss what goes on around you. God has a plan, it's written in the stars. Nothing is random or accidental. If you don't believe me, go rent The Star of Bethlehem.
Always be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and be bold. Pray that He will give you the right words and the boldness to speak them. This guy didn't get saved or recommitted if he's already saved, but a seed was planted.

Lord, please send someone to water that seed. Let your love shine on him and make that seed sprout. I know you bring the increase. Please speak to that man and his family. May they see your light and your love and come to know you as Savior. And give us the boldness to do as you have commanded us...But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8).

In the blessed name of Jesus, amen.

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Why are we called to ministry?

Why did Jesus call the disciples? Not because He needed them. God can handle delivering the message. And certainly, the 12 flawed men we know as the apostles weren’t always shining examples.

In Mark 1:33 the whole town was at the door after Jesus cast the demon out of the man. He didn’t need the 12 to tell everyone…the news spread and everyone came running.

He calls us to give us the opportunity to draw closer to Him to experience His power and love. And to show us who we are. To see our need for Him.

The food pantry is not the ministry I would have picked for myself. But this week, I got to see the hand of God move to provide food when we needed it and also to have an impact on 150 first graders.

When I think about a food pantry, I don’t see that coming.

Never underestimate the Creator of the universe’s ability to present you with an opportunity to make an impact.

Just be available, and GO!

I hear a lot of people say, "I'll pray about it." Why? If you are talking about a life-changing ministry like missions, ok... I get it. If you are talking about serving at your local church...go. You already prayed about it when you accepted Christ. You said, "I want to follow you, Jesus." Yes, we have to keep our priorities in order and make sure we are taking care of our families, etc. But I really think we stall when it comes to serving. Whether out of fear, anxiety or a desire to have a "cool" ministry.

Is God going to tell you not to serve a need in the church? All other things being equal (you are able and not otherwise committed), I don't think so.

Maybe you don't know what your gifts are or what your ministry is "supposed to be". If you see an opening and have a tug at your heart, try it. Take a look at Mark 1:16-20. Jesus calls the men to follow Him, and they just up and go. James and John left their father behind in the boat. If you lean on Jesus, He’ll always be there for you.

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What are you worth?

An email I received a while ago from a friend inspired this.
A lot of people I have encountered, in an attempt at humility, have spoken of how worthless they are when they consider what Jesus did for them. I disagree...about 2 things. The first, that we are worthless. The second, that this is a sign of humility.
To the first point. In God's eyes, we are of tremendous worth. He sent His Son for us!
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
So often I read that as just an explanation of salvation...believe in Jesus and have everlasting life. It's also a "why" statement. God loved the world so much that it was worth it to Him to send His Son for us. There is no other way for us to be redeemed. God demands perfection to redeem us from our sins. Jesus is the only one who fits the bill. But this is God's Son we're talking about.
John 15:13 "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
It's an astonishing statement to say that God loves you and me enough to send His Son to die for our sins so that we can be with Him in Heaven. You are worth it. God thinks so, you should too.

That brings me to my second point...humility. I have a problem with the way a lot of people define humility.
Humility isn't thinking that you are nothing, lower than low, dirt, good at or for nothing. Humility is knowing who you are. What you are good at, not good at and then understanding where the good comes from - God. And knowing that the bad can and should be fixed and that's only possible with God's help.
Know who you are. Strengths, weaknesses. Give it all to God. Ask Him to show you how to use your strengths for His glory and how to improve on your weaknesses.

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Tetelestai - It is finished. John 19:30

I must have been good, I must have been right
to see you standing holding, holding me tight
with your arms around me, I know that You are there
You're never in the distance, I always know You're near

Nothing I can do. Nothing I can say
Can make You love me more. Your love remains the same
You gave it all for me. You gladly took my place
To rid myself of all, all my guilt and shame.

I must have stood strong, I must have stood tight
to yield the thoughts around me, that battle in my mind.
And knowing You surround me, Your wings coat my despair.
Whatever my condition, the Cross it shows You care.

Nothing I can do. Nothing I can say
Can make You love me more. Your love remains the same
You gave it all for me. You gladly took my place
To rid myself of all, all my guilt and shame.

"Nothing" Jeremy Camp. From the album Stay.

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Above All

In John 3:31, John is telling us that Jesus is above all. We just do what's natural for us as humans. It's not natural for us to speak or do the things of Heaven. For Jesus, it's His nature. Heaven is where He came from.
Remember, though, as Christians, we have the Holy Spirit. Because He indwells us, we can, through Him, do heavenly things. Phil 4:13 says, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
Likewise, if I don't have the Holy Spirit, there's no way I do the things of Heaven. "But without faith, it is impossible to please Him..." Not only can I not please God, it won't even occur to me that He's displeased because I am focused on what I want and His desires aren't my desires. Read James chapter 1.

"Above All". That has to be His position in our lives. He's above all of His creation, but He won't force Himself to be first in your life. That is a choice He gave us. He'll be over all at the judgment, but then it's too late.
Choose, now, to let Him be above all in your life. It's all upside. Jer 29:11 "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, said the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end."

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Follow through

God's been running a theme through my life for several weeks. It's about following through. That means a lot of things, some of which I am good at, others not so much.
In 2 Chronicles 26, Uzziah becomes king of Judah. He does really well at first, but then in verse 16 he decides he's strong enough and good enough to go burn incense in the temple. So Azariah goes in with 80 priests to stop him and tell him that it's not his job. Uzziah gets angry and ends up leprous.
Uzziah starts out well, but doesn't follow through.
How easy it is to let our pride get in the way of ministry, friendship, work, whatever. I'm going along fine, and then I think I have a better way or I don't even bother to ask God what wants me to do because I think I know what needs to be done.
For me, the follow through here is on both ends. First, and most obvious, when God tells you to do something, do it. Or in Uzziah's case, what not to do. Pretty simple. The second is where I think I fail most often. When I gave my life to Christ, I said, "whatever you want me to do, I'll do." But then, I don't even ask. How can I follow through with what God wants me to do if I never ask what it is?

God, forgive me for not being a faithful listener. I know you want to direct my steps and I know you only have good for me. Help me to stop long enough each day to hear your direction and your will for me. Give me the strength to go where you lead me.

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It's my intention to share what I read/learn/think about from time to time. Please take it for what it's worth. I hope it's helpful and fruitful.

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