Sunday, March 25, 2012
For those of you who think I may have fallen of the face of the world, I haven't. I'm in England until April 10th, so I suppose you can say, I've fallen off North America. My sister, Susan, lives here in Shoreham-by-Sea which is a small town on the English channel, not to be confused with the BBC! This is my 5th visit to the area, and each time it amazes me how little emphasis there is on Christianity. In the USA we are so used to Christian TV, radio and book stores. Here, not so much, in fact I've never seen or heard any of the above. Today my sister and I are going to a Vineyard church service, which is also a growing movement at home. It's amazing how quickly you can lose muscle when you slack on exercise, and the same thing happens when you are away from Christ. I will be continuing my blog, sporatically here, and daily when I return...Cherrio till then!
Monday, March 19, 2012
My husband likes to relate the story of a jury selection process he was involved in. We live in a small community, so the odds of knowing the defendant are rather high. In an attempt to see how well the prospective jurors were acquainted with the person on trial, the judge asked them several questions, including this one: “Have you ever been to the defendant’s home for a meal?” There are all levels of friendship, from those that rate a casual hello in WalMart to close confidants. The wise judge knew that those who had shared a meal, especially in the intimate surroundings of a home, must have shared much more than small talk. He set this as the standard for determining how well people really knew each other. Put this line of thinking into your friendship with Jesus. Is it the first kind, nothing meaningful simply a passing acknowledgement, or have you really gotten to know each other over a pleasant repast? In Luke 19:1-9 we get to peek into such a story. Zacchaeus, the hated tax collector, was anxious to see Jesus as he came into
. Being a height-challenged individual,
he had to climb a tree to catch a glimpse.
It turned out to be a very smart move because Jesus looked up, saw him
and said, “Zacchaeus come down immediately, I must stay at your house today.” He was saying, “Zach I want to spend some
time with you, so go home and fix me some lunch and we’ll talk.” You know he jumped down, and gladly welcomed
him in. We don’t know exactly what they
spoke about, but Zach left that table a changed man, indeed. Jesus
longs to know you, to laugh, talk and linger over supper, coffee and
dessert. What better way to draw closer
to him? So pop in a casserole, he’s knocking at your door. Jericho
Friday, March 16, 2012
Top O’ The Morning to all you Irish lads and lasses, and Irish wannabes! Tomorrow we don green duds, eat platefuls of corned beef and cabbage, and remember the life and times of St. Patrick. Old Paddy didn’t start off with saintly status, in fact he wasn’t even Irish! Gosh and begorah, say it isn’t true! Fact is, he was kidnapped from his home in England, by Irish marauders, and forced to work, for six years, tending his cruel master’s flocks. During this time he wrote, what is now known as, his “Confessio”. He relates, in this writing, that he prayed many times in the day: "the love of God", he added, and His fear increased in me more and more, and the faith grew in me, and the spirit was roused, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers, and in the night nearly the same, so that whilst in the woods and on the mountain, even before the dawn, I was roused to prayer and felt no hurt from it, whether there was snow or ice or rain; nor was there any slothfulness in me, such as I see now, because the spirit was then fervent within me.” Isn’t it strange and glorious, that faith can grow so deep, during times of such difficult trials. Patrick escaped, but God called him back to bring the Irish people out of paganism into the light of Christ. Along the way he kicked out the snakes, used the shamrock to explain the Trinity, invented green beer, and his walking stick/staff sprouted leaves! Patrick, like so many men and women of faith, turned what could have been a spiritual defeat into a victory for the kingdom of God!! Look up his life, it is an amazing testimony. I leave you today with encouragement, found in the much longer St. Patrick’s Prayer. “I bind to myself today God's Power to guide me, God's Might to uphold me, God's Wisdom to teach me, God's Eye to watch over me, God's Ear to hear me, God's Word to give me speech, God's Hand to guide me, God's Way to lie before me, God's Shield to shelter me, God's Host to secure me, Against the snares of demons, Against the seductions of vices, Against the lusts of nature, Against everyone who meditates injury to me, Whether far or near, Whether few or with many. “ God’s Blessings to One and All!!
Thursday, March 15, 2012
“Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” Luke 24:25. This verse always reminds me of the cartoon light bulb that comes on, over a person‘s head, when they had an ah ha, I get it now moment. I wish Jesus would have done that for me when I took geometry! We all have the ability to read any book in the world, but fully comprehending the information within them, no. Merely reading a book on brain surgery won’t make me a neurosurgeon. It takes time and study to become proficient in a subject, and having a good teacher is essential. Most of you are familiar with scripture verses, and Bible stories, but do you understand them, and can you explain them to others who don’t? Jesus not only wants us to understand, he knows it is of utmost importance, if Christianity is to survive. When he uttered these words to his disciples, he was aware that his ascension was imminent, it was now or never. These men had been with him for three years, were very familiar with scripture and prophecy, and still they didn’t get it. Why? From childhood, they had been taught the Law, and the coming of the Messiah. Now, even though they had the fulfillment in Christ, it was testing all that they knew as truth. Jesus, having come from the same heritage, knew their doubts, and turned up the light, that was the promise of the prophets, with the completion in his flesh. We all have a little bit of light in our attics, Jesus wants to, and needs to pump up the amps. Go ahead, ask hit to flip the switch on your light bulb!
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Back in grade school, scientists used to say that the chemicals in a body were worth about $29. On what do you calculate your worth as a human being? Society loves to tell us our value comes from our jobs, and how many figures there are in our paychecks. Perhaps you are under the impression that your family name can buy you anything you want, so surely that is valuable. Maybe it’s your good looks, and gym-chiseled body. And, without a doubt, it must be your brainpower that trumps all the rest. Secretly, I’m sure we’ve all felt envious of the ones who seem to “have it all“. The world wants us to believe that our importance, our personal value is based on these outward attributes. So, if none of the above assign to us a price tag, what does? The only appraisal that matters is our value to God, and to use an advertising slogan, “that is priceless.” Speaking from a parent’s perspective, it would be impossible to place a monetary value on your child, and that’s how God sees us, not from the outward, no, he always looks at the inner man, our heart. Sure, the dollar amount for body parts has gone way up, so you could be worth upwards of $250K or more, but that’s minus vital organs. Thank God I know my lasting value, with all my bits and pieces intact, is only found in Him. “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” 2 Cor. 4:7.
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
I think you’ll agree, John 3:16 is the most identifiable Biblical quotation. It pops up on billboards, is spray painted on bridges, held up on signs at sporting events, and written below Tim Tebow’s eyes. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Good news, indeed, but, are you familiar with the verse that follows it? “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” Isn’t that amazing! The world has the perception that God is a mean, old man, forever zapping people with disease, tragedy and poverty, constantly condemning us for that same old original sin. Some Christians hold the same opinion. We hear verse 16, and sort of believe, but feel there has to be a catch. “God is always going to be on me for my old ways”, they lament. God wants us to believe in Jesus, really, truly, sold out believe, with all our heart, mind, body and spirit. He won’t force us into that decision, nor did he send his son to guilt us into it. That’s not how he operates. Do you remember any verses where Jesus threatens people into believing? Just the opposite. He told the woman caught in adultery, a crime punishable by death, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” John 8:11. I think she became a believer that day, not motivated by fear, but because of the great love and compassion Jesus showed her. His offer still stands, condemnation Free… Believe it!
Monday, March 12, 2012
In the middle of Cardinal/Cub country, dare I divulge that I was a huge New York Mets fan? It was many innings ago folks, 1969 to be exact, when a hapless group of young ballplayers, the laughing stock of the major leagues, won the World Series. How it happened is still a mystery. They sure didn’t look like winners, and they were constantly making stupid mistakes on the field. Yet, in the end, many sports experts were left scratching their heads, while eating their hats. What does it take to be a Hall of Famer? Well, in the case of the ‘69 Mets, they had a great coach, Gil Hodges, in addition to an enthusiastic and encouraging fan base. I’m sure they got discouraged, a lot, but they kept practicing, looking towards their goal, while the loyal fans kept cheering each and every accomplishment. I’ve visited the Hall of Fame, in Cooperstown, NY, several times, and always recall that magical year. Biblically speaking, Hebrews 11:12 remembers some great heroes of faith, what I like to call their Hall of Fame, or The Honor Roll of Faith. Some of those included as elite members are: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and even Rahab the prostitute. If you study the lives of any of these people, they were rather ordinary. People laughed at Noah, and Rahab wasn’t exactly anyone’s first round draft pick. Yet they all had something in common: God had promised them something. Every one of them had faith that He would make good on those promises, in many cases, without them ever seeing the fulfillment. They honored God, trusted his guidance, and even though they had failures and setbacks, they persevered. Like the ’69 Mets, they battled giants, (and Orioles), discouragement and ridicule, attaining at last Hall of Fame status. I believe that we can draw strength, for our own lives, from these everyday folks. Strength that will one day find our names, too, in God’s Hall of Fame. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:12.
Friday, March 9, 2012
“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. This statement seems to be particularly true for those seeking employment. You may hold multiple degrees, and have years of schooling, but it always helps to know someone on the inside, a person who is willing to put in a good word for you. In the spiritual sense this holds true as well. There are many people who can quote scripture by chapter and verse. Or those who are thoroughly “educated” in doctrine, theology and practice. Well, good for them! I’d like to be more like that, sometimes. My question to them would be, “Do you personally know the God behind all of that knowledge?” Some, like the Pharisees and Scribes, might puff up and reply that their book knowledge was much more important. But, Jesus reminds us that really knowing him, far surpasses the faux righteousness those learned men possessed. He is our inside man. That person who knows all about us, and still loves us. As Paul told the Ephesians, “… and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Eph. 3:19 Our love for Christ should encourage us to learn all we can about him…creating a deep desire to be in His word. Remember, head knowledge is wonderful, but genuine love for Him will always be the key to entering His kingdom.
Thursday, March 8, 2012
Duct tape, you gotta love the stuff! You can patch up just about anything, at least temporarily, and I had no idea it came in so many colors and patterns. People have been know to make everything from wallets to prom gowns with it. While it’s no match for the real things, like leather or silk, it does serve a purpose. God gave me a mental picture of how we use “duct tape” to fix our life situations. Suppose you and your spouse have an argument, you can’t come to an agreement, so without resolution, apology or forgiveness you move on, putting a piece of duct tape on to hold it together. The problem continues, and the only thing keeping your union from falling apart is the duct tape. Repeat this action, hundreds of times, over the years, and the architectural perfection that God had in mind for your marriage, has become a grotesquely cobbled mess. At this point, many couples opt for divorce, or perhaps murder! God likens our relationship with Him as a perfect marriage, and with our permission, he can restore even the “ugliest”, earthly partnerships. He transforms our mangled constructions by removing all the layers of tape, tooth picks and glue we‘ve used. You can be sure there will be discomfort, as there is in any remodeling process, but the end results will be worth the passing agonies. So, next time you feel the need to get out the duct tape, give the architect a call. “…looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. “ Hebrews 11:10
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
“And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple.” 1 Peter 2:5. It’s interesting that Peter likens us to stones, he didn’t say bricks or any other material. Why? Because stones are natural, they vary in size, texture, color, and have imperfections just like we have. Bricks are manmade, and all their qualities can be controlled by the brick maker, rendering them alike. God made us unique for a reason, he wants and needs our individuality. Each of us, when mortared into that spiritual temple, help form a one-of-a-kind creation, but more importantly, one of strong structural integrity. I find it so reassuring to know that I’m cemented into those ancient walls. I’m sharing space with big boulders and small rocks, granite and sandstone, all men and women of faith. Never consider your contribution to that structure as unimportant, rejoice in the knowledge that you are part of something that is altogether beautiful, valuable and indestructible.
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Monday, March 5, 2012
Have you ever driven through a dense fog? It’s frightening. The familiar becomes strange and dangerous, even radio signals can be effected. From my “safe” rural road, I daily turn onto busy route 40, but on a foggy day I’m often briefly filled with a sense of impending doom, thinking “ Will I be hit by a truck, and this be my last day on earth?” Many times, in our lives, it may feel like we’re maneuvering through fog-shrouded streets. Nothing feels right, even though the surroundings are unchanged, that’s when we can lose our spiritual bearings, even God’s voice becomes inaudible. Without direction it’s a quick slide into calamity. What do you do? Turn to the word. It never changes, and always guides you safely home. God never promises to be a huge searchlight, and if you‘ve ever turned on your brights in fog you know it only makes visibility worse. King David explains it like this, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Psalm 119:105. Don’t continue to wander around in the hazy darkness, switch on His beam, and be guided safely through.
Friday, March 2, 2012
“The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe.” John 19:35. The man in this verse had just witnessed Christ’s death on the cross, and it made a lasting impression, one he wanted to share with the world. Do you have a testimony, of your own personal encounter with Christ? Like the person in scripture, it must have been a life-changing moment. For me, it occurred after months of having someone, teach me the Bible. It had become relevant, and contemporary, not ancient and stodgy. I reached a point where Jesus asked me who I thought he was. I had become convinced, that His was the truth I had been seeking, and Jesus was who he said he was! So I, like Peter, in response to Christ’s same inquiry to him, replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” He is asking you too, “Who do YOU say that I am?“ If your answer is the same as Peter‘s, this is where your testimony begins.
Thursday, March 1, 2012
I never had a brother, just two sisters, but I know that we three, on occasion, could fight like the proverbial cats and dogs! No matter how close you are to a sibling, a friend or a parent, there will come a time when you let each other down. Our humanness always gets in the way of a perfect relationship, even if the hurt in unintentional. “…But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24. God sent the ideal friend in the form of Jesus. Every perfect-friend quality, that we couldn’t muster, God manifested in him. Through his example, we can begin to forge lasting, earthly relationships. Does that mean we won’t mess up? I doubt it, but that’s what learning to be a good, true pal is all about. Lucky for us, Jesus will never “de-friend” us. “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15