Thursday, May 31, 2012

Blood Work

I had to go in for some blood work today, the fasting kind that checks for everything from cholesterol to thyroxin.  A week from now, when I have a Doctor’s appointment, he will give me the full report, good news and bad, and how to “fix” any problem areas.  Wouldn’t it be nice to employ that same kind of test to our spiritual lives?  A simple procedure that would show me were my deficiencies and excesses are.  The trained analyst would sit me down, and peering over his glasses say, “Well, Mrs. Zerrusen, it appears that your compassion, and scripture understanding counts are within the normal limits, but your application levels are far too low.”  My reply goes something like this, “Do you have a pill for that?”   Yes, that would be the easiest route, but it’s not God’s prescription for my inadequacy.  God wants us to experience perfect divine health, which includes loving people, knowing His word, and the hard part…applying it in our personal ministry.  Just as diet, and exercise work together for physical well being, so too love and action need to be employed for our kingdom life.  There is no quick fix for spiritual malaise, but it can be, and must be restored. “Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.” James 2:26

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Blown Away

Dandelions are the scourge of gardeners around the globe.  However, most people will reluctantly admit that the first spring sighting of those shaggy, yellow heads is very pretty; then we get out the Round-Up!!  If they’re not dug up, down to the root, or burned out with chemicals, the next phase is the dreaded puff balls; so delicate, yet so virulent. The potential of millions of new dandelions floating in each gentle zephyr.

God must have created them to teach us patience, or maybe they just came as part of the curse after the fall.  Either way, they still blow me away, because they represent the opposite of overkill, more like “over-life“.  But think about it, God does the same thing with maple trees, all variety of seeds, even we humans, one little egg and countless sperm….overlife!

We can learn a spiritual lesson from the persistent dandelion, keep sending out the seed, in the form of God’s word.  There will be those who won’t accept it, keep sowing.  There will be those prepared to douse the word with Round Up, keep sowing!  We may not know which seeds will grow, and where, which is OK, our only responsibility is to keep sending out the seed, God will do the harvesting. “Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.” Ecclesiastes 11:6.  So don’t sit idly around, get into the Bible then let God’s Holy Spirit breathe through you so His word can be “Blown Away” !!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Don't Blame Dad

A friend of mine related a cute story to me involving an exchange between her four year old granddaughter, and the child’s father.  One day the child, her pregnant mother, and her father went to the Dr.’s office to find out the sex of the baby.  Ever since she had been told that a new sibling would be arriving, she was certain it would be a sister. The sonogram tech’s findings were visible on the monitor, and it soon became obvious that the longed for Roberta, was a Robert.  As the announcement was made, the child gasped in horror, turned to her father and said, “Daddy, this is all your fault!” After I stopped laughing, God showed me an analogy.  In this flawed world, things don’t always work out the way we envision.  Relationships fail, jobs are lost,  sickness and disappointments seem to be waiting at every intersection.  It’s human to place blame on others, and ultimately on God.  The age old question, asked by Christians and non-Christians alike is, why does God allow bad things to happen? I’ve struggled with that as well, and have come to the realization that we live in an imperfect world. Perfection only existed in the Garden of Eden, but Adam’s sin put an end to that. While it’s true that Christ’s sacrifice repaired our broken relationship with God, the collateral damage remained.   Let’s say a person decided to end their life by jumping off a building.  On the way down they regretted the decision, called out to God, and landed alive, but were crippled from then on.  In the same way, our world was forever flawed by Adam’s lapse of judgment so long ago, and while Christ‘s sacrifice atoned for the sin, the natural consequences of the “fall” remain.  We can shake a fist at God, or we can take responsibility for our actions, and come to grips with the cold hard fact, we live in that broken world. Thank goodness it’s temporary, and his promise for our future is excellent and eternal.  “But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.” 2Peter 3:13

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

Back in the town where I grew up, Memorial Day was a major event.  In addition to being the official start of summer, there was a parade, picnics and the ceremonial laying of a poppy wreath at the Winged Victory statue. Today we still take time off, but I’m not sure how much "remembering" goes on. 

 I’ll be the first to admit, I used to consider it merely a vacation day. Several years ago, while visiting Normandy, we stopped by the American cemetery there, since then, I take time to remember.  We arrived at dusk, just as the Stars and Stripes were being lowered to the strains of Taps.  Surrounding us were row upon row of simple white crosses, and Star of David markers. Immediately to the north was a beautiful, wide beach bordering the calm English Channel.  On this lovely spring day it was hard to imagine that over 60 years ago, the waters churned with landing crafts, while the beach and bucolic French countryside turned crimson with the blood of dead, dying and wounded soldiers.  Many of the lost where sent home for burial, but thousands remained in France.  The French government, in gratitude for those brave men’s sacrifice, gifted those peaceful acres to the United States. 

 I can‘t even imagine the terror that those young men experienced as they ran off those conveyances.  So much carnage, and yet it did buy peace, for a short time.  No soldier’s death has ever, nor will ever, ensure lasting peace on earth.  Our promise of peace lies not in this world, but the next.  Christ paid the price for that freedom with his shed blood. So take time today to honor the memory of fallen heroes, and everyday our risen Savior.  “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life--only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father." John 10:16-17.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Tootsie Roll Justification

After a trip to Sam’s one day, my Dad returned with a humongous, plastic jug of Tootsie Rolls. My Mom rolled her eyes, but he quickly informed her that they were, “Good and good for you.”  We all waited to hear him “justify” such a purchase, and how he would back up this outrageous claim.  He began by stating that Tootsies were lower in fat than most candy, especially candy of the chocolate persuasion, furthermore they made great travel food since they wouldn’t melt in the car, and because they required a bit of chewing, they actually burned up calories on the way down.  After a brief chuckle, we all applauded his defense, and then broke into the stash to experience this wonder food.  Justification, defined in dictionary terms means, in my Dad’s case: reason, fact, circumstance, or explanation that justifies or defends a claim.  The confectionary defense, that my Dad used, got him off the hook with my Mom, at least until the next junk food purchase! The scriptural or theological definition means, the act of God whereby humankind is made or accounted just, or free from guilt or penalty of sin, Eternally.  Yes, when we “buy into” the validity of Christianity, we can forget all about having to make excuses, we enter a guilt-free zone. Now don’t get the impression that we can go on sinning, oh no…Holy Spirit conviction will take care of that!  Remember Christ saying, “Go and sin no more”?  It still applies, but if we do make a Tootsie slip, and  we will, God is waiting to forgive us when we sincerely ask for his pardon. “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! “ Romans 5:9

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Don't Trust Anyone Over 2000

While talking with a friend recently, she brought up an interesting point. She said it was difficult for her to fully accept, believe, or even like scripture since it was written so long ago, by people who held such different viewpoints. For example: slavery, women’s roles in society and other topics involving, what we would now call, human rights violations. I got to thinking about her apprehensions, and they certainly seemed valid. Then God reminded me of what we used to say in college, “Don’t trust anyone over 30”. Sounds pretty crazy now, but back then it made perfect sense. All those “old” people couldn’t possibly relate to me, because they were from an outdated generation that didn’t understand mine. It opened my eyes to the fact that, yes, customs and cultures were wildly different when the Bible was penned, but so too was the society that my parents and grandparents were reared in. Does that mean I couldn’t learn valuable life lessons from them? Of course not! The spiritual and physical needs of people, then and now, remain unchanged. Culture aside, mankind was as much in need of a Savior in 40AD as they are in 2012. What we consider horrible wrongs now, were socially acceptable then. In the not so distant future, the same will be said of our “modern” customs and mores. Let’s face it, every passing generation is a dinosaur to the next. It wasn’t so long ago that we too allowed slavery, women weren’t allowed to vote, and young children worked in sweat shops, but we didn’t throw out the books that were written from that era. God’s word stands above the cultures and traditions of man. Rest assured that the Bible is without error, sound, fresh and as relevant now as it was then. “Every Scripture passage is inspired by God. All of them are useful for teaching, pointing out errors, correcting people, and training them for a life that has God's approval.” 2 Timothy 3:16.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Train up a Child

Living in the country, we have a gravel driveway, which makes it easy to hear when people go in and out.  Back in the 90s, when my kids were teenagers, come late evening I would listen for the sound of rocks crunching under the tires.  At that point, I would thank God, knowing that my precious children were safely home.  As parents, the well being of our children, of any age, is of utmost importance.  Following that line of thought, are your children safely home, spiritually speaking?  As a Christian, my desire is to know, without a doubt, that my family members are saved, living an abundant life,  and in a maturing relationship with God.  How do we accomplish such a task?  Certainly we can’t achieve it alone, all we can do is till the soil, plant the seed and wait for God to harvest the crop.  The Old Testament gives us “gardening tips” by saying,  “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6. And further about teaching scripture, or in this case the Ten Commandments, ‘Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.” Deut. 6:7.  How are you doing so far?  It’s apparent that we must be the examples verbally and nonverbally.  Our lives should be so full of enthusiasm and love for God and his kingdom, that it spills over into the lives of our loved ones, and those around us.  So keep representing Christ with your hearts and minds open, and keep listening for the crunching rocks!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Run to Win

“... But this one thing I do: Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what
lies ahead, ... This is what I do: I don't look back, I lengthen my stride, and I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14.  Some people love to live in the past.  Maybe they were outstanding athletes in school,  beauty contest winners or excelled in academics.  Perhaps, on the flip side, there are those who love to relive olds betrayals, constantly recalling how they were wronged by a friend or family member.  Both groups wear these memories as though they were medals of honor for the world to see.  My advice to these folks, GET OVER IT, and move on. The Apostle Paul had good reason to live in the past, after all he was somebody, a high and mighty Pharisee, but he didn’t.  If you’ve ever run in a race, you quickly learn that looking back will only result in a stumble, a fall or worst of all, losing the race.  Eternal life is our goal/prize, and it is ever before us…it’s the Emerald City on the horizon…the golden loving cup overflowing with joy, and the sense of accomplishment that awaits us at the end of our well-run race…Keep plugging and Don’t look back!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Seeing is Believing

“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy…” 1 Peter 1:9. Folks from Missouri say, “Show Me“, while everyone else yells, “Seeing is believing“.  It‘s not easy buying something sight unseen, imagine what is was like for mail order brides!!  God gave us the gift of sight, and wants us to use it.  So why does He expect us to not only believe in someone we‘ve never met, but to offer our whole lives lovingly to him in obedience?  It is curious indeed. Humanly speaking, people often fall in love  through an internet communication, coming to know each other as the result of shared words, pictures, or perhaps Skyping.  Obviously, there can be flaws in those kinds of connections, but not in coming to know Christ through his word.  Those internet romances can use faked words or pictures, and when the lovers finally meet, face to face, the flame can be extinguished by a dousing of truth. Over 2000 years have passed since the New Testament was written, but Jesus’  Word remains unchanged.  The Bible continues to reveal his compassion, tenderness and love for us. Ask him to open the eyes of your heart, and you will be filled with that inexpressible, glorious joy! It‘s his promise to us! “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

Friday, May 18, 2012

Good from Evil

“Even though you planned evil against me, God planned good to come out of it.” Genesis 50:20.  OK Bible scholars, who spoke these words, and to whom? (Insert Final Jeopardy theme here)  The buzzer sounds…do you have it?  Don’t feel bad, it’s not a test and there is no prize, but boy oh boy is there a great story attached!  For you smarty pants, yes the speaker was Joseph, not Mary’s spouse, but he of the multicolored coat fame.  Few people are unfamiliar with this tale, especially since Andrew Lloyd Weber set it to music, but let me refresh your memories.  Little Joe was seventeen, smart as a whip, and the proverbial apple of his father’s eye. His older brothers, he was one of 12, realized this special relationship, and were very jealous.  As if that weren’t enough to incite some major sibling rivalry, Joe also had an uncanny, God-given gift to interpret dreams.  The final backbreaking straw fell, when he told the brothers about his latest dream.  As they were out harvesting wheat, all the sheaves, who represented his brothers and family, bowed down to Joseph.  Now the elder boys really hated him, even Joe’s dad, Jacob was ticked off!  What do you do with a problem like this, well of course throw him in a pit, tell dad he was eaten by a wild beast, then make a profit by selling him into slavery.  Flash forward 13 years and we find that Joseph has worked his way up from slave to a trusted member of Pharaoh’s staff , and is employing the dream interpretation gift as well. More dilemmas arise for Joe, but let’s skip ahead to where the brothers are reunited.  There was a drought in Israel, so droves of folks headed to Egypt to buy grain, including Jacob and the boys.  The sheaves were bowing down, and they didn’t even realize it was Joseph.  Long story short, Joe could have kicked them out for the wrong they had done to him all those years ago, but he didn’t.  Instead he embraced them with love!  Yes, his kin had acted with evil intent so many years before, but in spite of it, Joseph was put in a place, that God had provided, that brought good to his family and nation. I love this verse because it offers so much hope.  Maybe you’re in the midst of terrible crisis, unjustly placed upon you, please remember how Joseph, and much later Jesus, reacted to his plight, then cling to the reassurance that God will bring good out of it!!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Crucified with Christ

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20.  Death on a cross was probably the most miserable, and degrading form of  capital punishment  that the ancient world ever devised.  Way back in Deuteronomy 21:23 the law allowed that if a crime was extremely heinous, a man could be executed and then nailed to a tree, or pole/cross to serve as a warning to would be offenders. These people were considered accursed… “anyone who is hung on a tree is under God's curse.”  That Christ should die in this manner, was an almost insurmountable hurdle for Jewish believers to scale. How could he be the  Savior of the world, and die a death that God had formerly cursed?  The Apostle Paul had just gotten through rebuking Peter, for confusing gentile converts, when he wrote these words.  Peter had been teaching  that “justification” was found, in part, by observing Jewish law.   Paul was rightly adamant in proclaiming that we are only made right, justified, by faith in Christ alone, and by his saving death on the cross.  To make his point absolutely clear, he used the analogy of himself being crucified with his Savior.  Crucifixion, the death sentence that brought  with it guilt, sin, humiliation and eternal separation from God, now not only held the promise of new life, but a life lived with Christ in us!  I’ve attached a powerful song recorded by Phillips, Craig and Dean, listen and let this scripture become your personal anthem.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Legacy of Prayer

My grandfather, “Pop”, was an interesting guy.  As the oldest son of Norwegian immigrants, living on the fertile Iowa prairie,  he put in long, arduous days on the farm.  He hated it.  He used to talk about his father, and how he was a religious fanatic. He didn‘t like that much either. I, however, would have loved to have met my Great grandfather Heggen. I believe he was a man who loved the Lord, served Him, and prayed.  Years later, when my parents, my sisters and I came into our own personal relationships with God, my mother used to say, “I’ll bet it was because of Grandpa Heggen’s prayers”.  A legacy of faith,  beginning with the fervent prayers of an old Norwegian farmer.

Jesus prayed knowing that his apostles needed his strength-building prayers right then and there, but more amazingly, he prayed for all of us who were to come later.  I don’t know about you, but that makes me feel very special.  The thought that the Savior of my soul, spent time on his knees praying for me, is humbling to say the least.  Thank you Lord for laying that foundation of faith that endured through my great grandpa’s prayers, and now  continues in mine for all my loved ones. I always take comfort in the knowledge that present day people are praying for me, and am still am in awe that I am on Jesus’ prayer list…Hallelujah!!   "I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message.  John 17:20

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Going Green

On my early morning run, recently, I marveled at how green all the vegetation looked.  During the evening, the parched ground had received over an inch of rain, and in joyful response the lush button was turned way up.  In the summertime, while doing manual labor, my father used to say he was so thirsty he could spit cotton.  I always liked that saying, I guess it was the visual image of my Dad’s puffed up cheeks full of cotton balls. Physically we’ve all experienced this sort of dryness, but what about spiritually?  Is your life in Christ a verdant garden , or more akin to the Sahara desert?   Personally, I have  postcards from both locations, but certainly prefer the garden.  What is the root cause of the arid soul?  It’s easy to figure out when it concerns the natural; a shortage or complete lack of water.  People can’t exist long without it,  and plants will wither and  die.  In the same way, our souls are designed to be refreshed, revitalized and renewed by personal contact with Christ.  We can not fully live without His word, anymore than we can survive without water.  Remember the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well?  She was a cotton-spitter from way back, living a life away from God‘s refreshing.  When Jesus spoke to her of himself, as the only source of everlasting refreshment, she wanted it immediately.  Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." John 4:13-14.  Healthcare professionals tell us it’s so important to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.  Do you take in the equivalent amount in Him daily?  No wonder you’re dry!  Begin with a glassful and watch the green appear.

Monday, May 14, 2012


If you watch much TV, or see many movies, Christians usually are portrayed in one of several ways.  A. Hypocritical jerks who preach one thing and do another.  B. Child abusers and various other assorted perverts. Or C. Judgmental, self-righteous oafs who are constantly on the warpath against sin and sinners. We’ve all seen these stereotypical versions, but the sad thing is, in many instances they are true. Small wonder that the very thing that keeps people from becoming followers of Christ, are Christians!  Remember the old TV program, To Tell The Truth?  Well as the host, Gary Moore, would say, “Will the real Christian please stand up.”  Are there qualities that mark an individual as an authentic Christian? In photography I label my work with my unique “watermark” so that people know it‘s mine.  I believe God does the same with us.  First and foremost, they will be mirrors of Christ’s nature, who himself is the exact representation of God.  Find me a place in scripture that shows Jesus acting in any of the above ways, it just isn’t there. His walk and his talk were straight, and in alignment with his Father.  Let’s see how the Bible addresses the above “Christians”. A. “Let your "Yes" be yes, and your "No," no, or you will be condemned.” James 5:12.  B. “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people.” Ephesians 5:3. And lastly, C., “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:37. There are no perfect followers, but as we mature in faith, and in knowledge of his Word, we will be showing the world the real deal, the watermark of authenticity!  

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mother's Day

An early Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there.  Today is our day, to be waited on, pampered, receive gifts and in general kick back and relax….yeah right!!!  While the picture is nice,  the probability of that happening is slim.  As the saying goes, a mother’s work is never done.  Time has erased a lot from my memory, because I do forget how much time and effort it took to run a household and care for little children.  When I’m with my daughter and daughter-in-law, those memories come flooding back…I get tired just thinking about it!!  How did we do it?  But, do it we did…sink or swim!  Old Testament women were not usually held in high esteem, in fact a faithful Jewish man would thank God daily for not making him a woman!  There are exceptions, of course, and Proverbs 31 is my favorite illustration of a woman on a pedestal.  Take time and read it, especially you wives and mothers, the words are encouraging, and uplifting like a Mother’s Day card from God. Whoever this lady was, she should be a role model for all of us.  Among her many enduring attributes were: thriftiness, a good cook, wise, of noble character, a seamstress and  a hard worker.  The care of her husband and family were of utmost importance to her, not outward,  fleeting beauty or showiness, but the things that were truly of lasting value.  Yes, we all live in a very different world than that woman, but the ideals that she embodies are timeless.  May God bless you richly on this day, and give you the physical and spiritual strength to be that unique woman, wife and mother that God created you to be!  
A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. From Proverbs 31

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Forgive and FORGET

"For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." Jeremiah 31:34.  Why is it that we love to hang on to the memory of old offenses committed against us? Somehow we think the wounds will bestow  martyrdom upon us, and years from now, people will recall our suffering, while praying to small statutes of us! Well, I know I cling to that hope!!!  LOL. The problem with “hoarding” past wrongs, is that you get buried behind them, and can’t see what God has planned for your future. You’ve all seen parts of the Hoarders show, haven’t you?  Those people can’t even find their way to the front door let alone the future.   On a regular basis I hear folks say, “Oh I forgive alright, I just don’t forget”. Yes, forgetting is hard to do, especially if it was a painful infraction, and yes memories linger like a scar, but it is possible. God isn’t suffering from amnesia when he makes that promise, He can’t forget, nor can we, but he CHOOSES not to remember.  Aha, see the difference? When we make the choice to forgive, we MUST also choose to forget.  Yes, learn from those trespasses, so you can avoid similar situations in days to come.  If you’re having trouble forgetting, remember all those hoarders losing out on real life, because they can’t let go of the past.  Here’s another promise to help you get started.  “But forget all that--it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.” Isaiah 43:18 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Face Like Flint

“Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.” Isaiah 50:7.  In this Botox generation, faces set like flint are fairly common, but it’s not quite the same.  What the prophet Isaiah was trying to affirm was, that despite trials of any sort, he, with God’s help, was prepared to face them head on. Take my word for it, he encountered all kinds of  face-crumbling situations, many from his own people!  That kind of intestinal fortitude can only come from a supernatural source, and it’s still available to all who seek it.  God will never force himself upon his people, but he does leave examples for us to learn from. It is always our choice, even Isaiah’s  decision to set his face like flint, was his own, trusting that God would not forsake him.  He didn't then, and He won’t now.  

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Trust Me

Back in New York, where I grew up, we lived in a big old house built in the late 1700s.  It sat regally on almost an acre of ground, yes in New York!  There was a massive rock wall in front of the property, where my two sisters and I would wait for our daddy to return from work in the evening. He put in long, tiring days, but he always had time to play with us before lights out.  Tickle trap, red rover, badminton and ping pong were perennial favorites, and then there was Trust Me.  Every so often daddy would ask us to stand on the wall, and without looking back, let ourselves fall into his outstretched  arms.  Now you would think that would be a simple thing…not so.  No matter how much we loved and trusted our dad, fear of cracking our heads always trumped trust.  We’d perch ourselves on that 3 foot high barrier, checking and rechecking to see if he was still in catch position.  He always was.  How he had the patience to put up with our lack of faith still amazes me.  Now, after having been a Christian for over 40 years, there are still times that I feel like I’m standing with wobbly legs on that wall, looking back over my shoulder to see if God is there.  When those faith-trying times come, I take a deep breath and fall back.  Just like my earthly dad never failed me, my heavenly Father’s strong arms have caught me every time! “The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you..” Deuteronomy 33:27

Monday, May 7, 2012

Family Unity

“You can choose your friends but you sho' can't choose your family, an' they're still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge 'em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don't.” Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, wrote those true sentiments.  We don’t have the luxury of  shopping around on for our perfect family, we just get what we get.  Given the randomness of DNA selection, there are always going to be differences of opinion, conflicts of interest and plain old friction among  family members. As a parent, I long for my children to get along, to talk, laugh and share in each others life.  Fact is, it doesn’t always happen, and it breaks my heart to see them distanced from one another.  That gives us a pretty good idea of how God feels when he sees us, His church, arguing, name calling and worst of all, separated.  In the early, 1st century church, we get a picture of family; a family who really liked each other.  They shared meals, money, prayers and the love of God their father.  What went wrong?  It appears to me, people held differing views on how to interpret scripture, and voila, you have a breakup.  Brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, children and parents, all God’s family divided. If it breaks our hearts, as parents, to see our earthly children at odds, think how God must feel. There is no one perfect church, any more than there is one perfect family.  If we strip away all the man made “religion”,  whittling it down to the basics of faith, that’s where we will find agreement, and yes UNITY.  God  invites us all to dine at his banqueting table, and be that perfect, bound by His blood, family.   It is imperative we make every effort to do so, for our Father‘s sake, and the future of the family! “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 15:5-6

Friday, May 4, 2012

Knowing Him

“The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But those who obey God's word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.” 1John 2:5-6.  The disciple John was a very old man when he wrote these words to those he addressed as his dear children.  Like children of every generation, and here he is referring to those young in faith, sometimes they need straightening out.   At that time, Christianity was catching on, and there were those who kind of liked the idea, but didn’t want to embrace it all.  They were going around saying, “Oh yeah, I know Jesus.  Sure I’m a Christian.”, but the Spirit of Jesus was not in them. (Sounds familiar, doesn‘t it?)  John wanted to make it very clear, that there was a big difference between saying you’re a Christian and being one.  John had spent three years with Jesus; eating, traveling; sharing his life with the Messiah, there was no doubt, he knew him.  The Bible wasn’t around then, in the form we know it today, so new believers were trained by the words, and through the lives of the apostles.  That’s all fine and dandy, but what about us,  how can we “know” him?  I sure don’t want to be considered a “liar” in God’s eyes!  We MUST live our lives the way Jesus did, and the only way to do that is to know His Word!  Scripture reveals the heart and mind of our Savior…what he commands us to do, and even more importantly, what he commands us not to do.  The day will come when the herd is going to be “thinned”, and it won’t bode well for the “liars“.  Is there any doubt in your mind about your relationship with Christ?  Do you want to know more about the Bible?  Please message me, and I’ll be happy to point you in His direction.  Don’t forget, we’re all in this together!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

I Am

Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?" God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.'" Exodus 3:13-14.  What’s in a name: Prestige, power, influence?  On the flip side, if it’s not the “right” name, it won’t carry much weight. Moses knew full well, that when he returned to the Israelites, from his time with God, they would want to know on whose authority he was speaking.  God doesn’t need a human name, and I can’t even imagine calling him Bill, Robert or Frederick. In addition there is a permanence to it, not a wishy washy, I MIGHT BE, I THINK I AM, or I WILL BE. We still like to assign him various monikers, based on his multifaceted nature, but the only one that God goes by is I AM!!  I like that in God, because He’s so confident in who he is, it fortifies the assurance I already have in him.   Unlike Popeye who proclaimed, “I yam what I yam”, or Jim Croce who sang, “I’ve Got a Name”, God knows exactly who he is, and so do I.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Sweet Fragrance

The sweetness of orange blossoms,  tiny lilies of the valley, or soothing lavender their delicate fragrances bring joy to the senses as they permeate the air.  A whiff may bring back memories of childhood, dear old Grandma, or a favorite seaside vacation.  Smells, like sights, tastes and sounds, have the power to release a range of emotions.  God hard-wired humans with this wonderful sense to help us fully enjoy the world around us.  It seems he too, is partial to fragrance.  He asked Moses to mix up a special scented oil with which to anoint people, and sacred items, for his service.  Recently, at the end of a worship service, the visiting pastor called everyone forward who wished to receive an anointing of this sort.  Three long lines appeared quickly, with those desiring a closer, more power-filled walk with God.  The oil he used was light and reminiscent of spices, it lingered for hours.  Those I came in contact with surely detected it ever so subtlety.   When we apply costly perfume, it wafts around us for a time, but when we are touched by God’s anointing oil it is absorbed into our souls.  Let your sweetness fill the airspace around you on a daily basis. “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.” 2 Corinthians 2:14.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Rest in You

"You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you."This quote from Saint Agustine, is found in similar form in Psalm 62:5 “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.”   We’ve all been anxious at some time or another, longing for something, but not certain of what that something was.  Like nomads, we wander in spiritual deserts, our thirst unquenched.  In my mind, I like to imagine that our Creator has carved out, in all of us, a God-shaped void, a blank spot or hole that can only be perfectly filled by a relationship with him.  Until we figure that truth out for ourselves, we’re constantly  in search of that elusive component.  Maybe what we put in there is a good thing, like a hobby, travel, family or good deed doing.  Sadly, many attempt to find that perfect fit in ways that are not so good; addictions, gambling, sexual perversion, alcohol  abuse and so on.  The fact is, neither way leaves you feeling complete. Have you ever tried to pound a square peg into a round hole?  You can hammer away, and maybe it will go in, but it will only be touching in a few spots: the void unfilled.  The infilling that God offers is divine perfection, touching on all sides, meeting every need.  It can’t be bought, not even on Amazon,  church membership and good works aren’t a guarantee either. No, when we finally tire of all those ill fitting pegs, and call out to Him in repentance and belief, He is there holding the  puzzle piece that fits. Ah, sweet rest at last!