Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Blunder in the Garden

The season of Advent is fast upon us, and before I get into discussing it,  I’d like to spend some time on some of the “Blunders of Biblical Proportions” that brought us to the need for a Savior.  We don’t need to get very far into the book of Genesis before we read about the blunder that started it all; The Blunder in the Garden. I can’t imagine there is anyone unfamiliar with this story, but let me set the scene, for old time’s sake.

God had created man and woman in his image, back in chapter 2, and had given them a paradise to live in; food a plenty, companionship, and a personal relationship with him.  He also gave them meaningful work to do; tend and keep the garden, name the animals and in general take care of things.  In return, all he asked of the duo was one thing, not 100, not even 10, only one thing,  “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:16-17.  Easy peasy, no problemo, they must have thought, until that fateful day.  “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made.  He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.” Genesis 3: 1-7.

That old serpent certainly had a way with words, because he got Eve thinking, not about what she had, but what she didn’t have. His deceptive words had her doubting the supreme authority of God, and desiring the whole enchilada, to be like God.  Adam was standing right there, and instead of taking his rightful stand as the spiritual head of the family, and rebuking Eve, he took a bite, too.  Alas, the rest is history.  His fall, became our fall, as well.  No more blessed , “all inclusive” resort living, he traded all that for curses.  “To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life. thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:16-19.

If only Eve had resisted; if only Adam had stood up to her; if only they had confessed and apologized. If Only, indeed. But it wasn’t to be, and the curses that accompanied their sin, have been passed down to humankind ever since.  Curses aside, the worse thing that came out of this blunder was the broken relationship between God and man.  It says that God clothed them with skins, so some animal must have given its life indicating that this was the first blood sacrifice.  Centuries have come and gone, filled with good times and more blunders, as man sought in vain to undo this debacle.  If this mess was to be undone, someone was going to have to pay a hefty price, in blood.  Thank God that someone, Jesus, was willing.  As we walk through the old testament prophecies, and the new testament fulfillments these next weeks, let’s strive to truly allow him to open us up to the saving, restoring wonder of his coming, going and ultimate return.





 


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Trusting Dad

I love to travel, and it doesn’t matter where I go, it’s the going that’s fun!  When I was a kid I’d be the first to jump in the old Buick, and claim my window seat, even if Dad was just pulling it into the driveway.  We did take some long road trips, and those will always hold a special place in my childhood memories.  Eating burgers and fries at Howard Johnson’s, staying at a motel, and buying souvenirs from “far away” places, what bliss!  You know, never once in all those years did I ever ask Dad if he had enough money to cover the bills, or fear that he would leave me in the gas station bathroom.  Those things never entered my mind, he was, after all, my Dad and even though I was a child,  I trusted him, in all things, implicitly.  As I matured, I still had faith in Dad, but I wasn’t above questioning him, or challenging his wisdom.  My Dad is still great, and wise, at 88 years old and I’m blessed to have him.

Some of you may not have had a Dad, or the one you had was far from perfect. I’m sorry about that, because it makes it harder to believe in God as a loving, trustworthy father.  While all our earthly fathers are flawed, to some degree or another, our heavenly father is not. We can trust that when we climb into his Buick, he’s going to get us to where we need to go, while supplying every need we have along the way.  My Dad might have gotten frustrated, when we kept inquiring about when we’d arrive, but God not only welcomes our queries, he encourages them, because they serve to build our faith in him, continually.

 Rest assured, God wants only the best for us, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually etc., along the way.  So go ahead and ask, then trust Him to supply, he is, after all, your Abba/Daddy.  “What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:11-13



Monday, November 25, 2013

Make the Wise Choice

One of my favorite TV shows is, House Hunters International.  If you’ve never seen it, buyers/renters look at a number of homes, that meet some of their search criteria, and then make a decision based on what they’ve seen.  Each property offers some of the features they want,  but none contain everything.  I  try to guess which one they’ll choose, but I’m not always right.

In life we’re always faced with decisions, options and choices, in everything from homes, clothing, food, cars even relationships.  The wise person gathers all the information he can, in order to make the best choice. For example, let’s say you are faced with deciding between 2 homes.  One is affordable, soundly built, and has low taxes, but doesn‘t have the wow factor.  The other has none of the sensible features, but has curb appeal galore.  The wise person, taking into account all the information about the properties, and having them both thoroughly inspected, finds that the more appealing house has termites, a leaking roof and ultra-high taxes.  The choice is obvious, he buys the plain Jane.  On the other hand, a foolish consumer, who has the same information at his disposal, picks the more appealing one, based solely on outward appearances.

A fool, then, is the person who, after checking out both options, chooses the inferior for one reason or another.  Sounds crazy, but throughout scripture we read about people who were faced with similar choices, and how their personal selections changed not only their lives, but ours and history as well.  All of us, every human being on planet earth, is asked to make the ultimate decision; do we believe in God, and in his son’s redemptive work on the cross, or not?  All the information we need, to make an educated decision, is readily available.  God doesn’t want us to merely go along with what a particular church instructs you to do, he demands we make the informed choice on our own.

Where do you want to live, eternally?  Foolishly in the house of sin that looks good on the exterior, and costs an “arm and a leg” and then some, literally. Or will you wisely move into the indestructible mansion  that will never collapse, and the price has already been paid.  Weigh all the options seriously and prayerfully, it’s a lifelong commitment either way, choose wisely. “A wise man’s heart inclines him to the right, but a fool’s heart to the left.” Ecclesiastes 10:2.


Friday, November 22, 2013

The Perfect Foundation

The word foundation may bring up different images in our minds, among them  foundation garments, liquid make-up foundation, or the most common, the under-structure of a building. In each case it‘s a solid starting place on which to build something.  Having been a Realtor for 25 years, I‘ve seen all kinds of foundations including slabs, crawl spaces, and basements.  When a home inspection is performed, the structural integrity of a basement is of utmost importance.  If there are cracks, gaps, or crumbling it puts the entire building at risk of collapse, water infiltration, or a  vermin/insect infestation.  It is impossible to find a perfect, human-made foundation, because weather, earth movement, and settling are always at work, but I'm going to acquaint you with the perfect supernatural one today.

While reading in 1 Corinthians, lately, Paul began by talking about striving for unity in the church. “ I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.” 1 Corinthians 1:10. I had to consult God on this issue, because achieving unity is a stumbling block in any human relationship, let alone in the body of Christ. As I read further, He led me to this ah-ha passage. “According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” 1 Corinthians 3:10-15.

 Let me explain.  Christ is that perfectly constructed foundation on which the church, each of us, is being built on.  Our belief in His birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension and  second-coming are the elements that form this impenetrable footing.  When we can agree that these ingredients are truth, we have unity.  Paul continues by saying that each of us adds to the construction with our own unique materials, based on the gifts God has given to us.  These works are not motivated by guilt, loveless obligation or demands from religious organizations.  Lasting works, like gold, silver and gems are indestructible and emanate from enthusiastic hearts, eager to please the Master Architect. Manufactured/obligatory works resemble straw, hay and wood which will be consumed by holy fire on Judgment Day. Church doctrines may differ, but the foundation is the same in all.  Are you sure about your foundation? Good, so am I, that’s unity!  Now find out what your spiritual gifts are, and start laying those precious stones on that solid footing….God's kingdom continues to be built by each of us, be sure you're joyously adding only the most durable stones!



Thursday, November 21, 2013

Making Ripples

Before we leave Galilee behind, I want to highlight one of the ripples Jesus’ visit made in that area.  “So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. And at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill. When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was recovering. So he asked them the hour when he began to get better, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” And he himself believed, and all his household. This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee.” John 4:46-53.

 As you recall, it would have been easier, and made less waves, if Jesus had skirted around his hometown, but God had the bigger picture in mind.  We are reminded that Jesus’ first miracle had taken place in this same area, and I’m sure that had set lots of tongues wagging.  It would come as no surprise if this city official, we are introduced to here, had been a guest at that amazing wedding. As a desperate father, whose son was not only ill, but at death’s door, he took the risk of looking silly and asked Jesus for help.  The almost rough sounding reproof , “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” was aimed not only at the official, but at the group of Galilean citizens around him. While it was true that the Jews did require proof, Jesus was in essence saying I’ve already proved myself, why can’t you just believe?  Still, the man persevered, pleading with Jesus to come and heal his child.  To prove that his power to heal was so great, that he did not need to be present, he assured the man that his son would live.  At that moment, this man believed the words that Jesus spoke, without seeing the proof.  In fact, he believed so much that, he took his time returning home, certain of the miracle.  Can we say the same about our faith in the words of Jesus?  Or are we always looking for signs, and wonders while oblivious to the miraculous? If Jesus had not returned to Galilee we wouldn’t be reading of this account.  Let’s all try to make some ripples today by going where God directs us, and not staying in our comfort zones.





Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Road to Galilee

My, soon to be, 10 year old grandson moved this week to a new town, home, family and school.  Any one of those things can throw the bravest kid into a turmoil, and Ty was no exception.  When I talked to him, after his first day at school, he told me it was bad, and that he had cried the whole day.  As a grandma who loves him, and wants to protect him, I felt like racing over, wrapping him up in a cozy blanket and taking him home with me.  After that I wasn’t sure what I would do, but I knew I wanted to keep him from being hurt, sad or persecuted.

Don’t we all feel like that some days?  Rather than facing the difficult issues, whatever they might be, full on, we’d rather crawl back into our safe and cozy zone.  Trouble is, avoiding something doesn’t make it disappear, and usually makes it worse.  Jesus, never one to run from conflict, faced this kind of situation on numerous occasions.  Perhaps the best known story is the account of his return to his hometown. Jesus had been in Samaria, a hostile environment for any Jew, and one that he shoulda/coulda avoided, but didn’t.  We are all familiar with the woman at the well saga, so thank God he went!  Any way, now he turned and headed towards his old stomping grounds. “After the two days he departed for Galilee. (For Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in his own hometown.)”  Jesus knew that opposition was awaiting him.  After all wasn’t he just Joe and Mary’s kid?  Didn’t we go to high school with him?  What makes him so high and mighty now that he should come back and preach to us?  And who are these 12 guys with him?  Man he’s got some nerve!

Scripture goes on to say they took offence at him, and he wasn’t able to do many mighty works because of their disbelief.  But, as difficult as it was to face their animosity, he didn’t turn the other way out of fear.  I believe that because he didn’t let his apprehension get in the way, the Galileans heard the good news, and had the opportunity to accept it, if not then, hopefully later.  Now back to Ty.  I didn’t go rescue him, but I did encourage and pray with him.  I told him that, yes, what he was facing was frightening, but that he could, and must face up to it, not alone, but with the supernatural strength that God would give him.  I then told him to focus on the good things, and reach out to a new person.  The next day when I talked to him, all was good, even the school lunch was yummy according to him. That’s not to say he won’t face issues again, but now he knows he can, with God’s help.  And who knows how many kids will be encouraged by his actions.


What rough road are you facing today? Do you feel like backing down, or finding a well paved path?  Remember, you’re never on the road to Galilee alone, and the results of your god-given courage will astound you, and your homies!!









Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The King and I

At a recent conference, I attended with my husband, I had the opportunity to have my picture taken with the King, Elvis Presley, well at least an overweight impersonator of him.  I couldn’t let that photo-op pass me by.

We crown lots of things “King” in our society.  Elvis aside, there is Burger King,  King of Queens, King of the Hill,  even dogs are given the name King.  When we add King, it makes the thing seem more valuable, or noble.  When it comes to actual royalty we know that King is a title not merely bestowed upon a person, they must be born of a royal bloodline . Historically a king was not just a figurehead, “A king, is someone who has authority to rule and reign over a group of people.”  Interestingly, Jesus is just such a king.  He is called the King of the Jews by the Magi (Matt. 2:2), and Jesus accepts that title in Matt. 27:11, "Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor questioned Him, saying, 'Are You the King of the Jews?' And Jesus said to him, 'It is as you say.'”  Matt. 21:5 speaks of Jesus and says, "Behold your King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey."  Remember, Jesus is King in that he rules and judges.  "And I saw heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True; and in righteousness He judges and wages war," (Rev. 19:11).  The armies follow him (Rev. 19:14).

Is it more difficult for we in Americans, who fought the Revolutionary War, to free ourselves from the reign of a tyrannical King, to accept the Lordship of Christ?  It shouldn't be, because Jesus is a different kind of King.  He does not hold rigid laws and punishments over our heads, his reign is one of love.  And not only love dispensed from a far away kingdom, NO, we have a King who has literally walked in our sandals, and empathizes with our needs and sufferings.  This King holds out his scepter and bids us come near, without fear of losing our heads.   Is there a kingdom of God without a King?  No.  Jesus is that king: "'Are You the King of the Jews?' And Jesus said to him, 'It is as you say,'" (Matt. 27:11). (Matt Slick). If you haven’t responded to the King’s call for a personal audience, yet, don’t hesitate. When you do, he will bestow his royal bloodline, and all its benefits on you!



Monday, November 18, 2013

Heartburn

They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” Luke 24:32. Heartburn, that distressing condition caused my excess acid in the stomach, is familiar to us all, but what, pray tell, are the disciples talking about? To get a better idea, we need to understand the cause of this heartburn.

The Bible tells us that on the very same day as Jesus’ resurrection, two of the disciples were walking along the road to Emmaus, which was about 7 miles from Jerusalem.  As you can imagine, they were discussing the events of the last few days.  Because their minds were in such turmoil, their eyes did not recognize Jesus when he walked up beside them. Using their blindness to his advantage, Jesus asked them what they had been talking about.   “Well, duh”, they replied, “Where have you been?  Behind some rock?” ( I paraphrase.)  At this point they were truly blinded by deep sorrow, and a belief system so fractured with doubt that it could register on the Richter scale.  For them, this was the end of the story, Jesus’ body was missing from the tomb, and all hope was quickly fading. And now this guy wants to know what’s been going on….give me a break!   Jesus confronts them with these words, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” v. 25-27.

 Even at this point they still don’t recognize him, but light is beginning to filter in, as he explains the events scripturally.  The disciples urge this wise man to stay as they settle in for the night.  Then an amazing thing happens, Jesus shares a meal with them. “When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight.” v. 30-31.  It took the familiar act of breaking and blessing bread to open their eyes. Now we come to the burning hearts verse.  Jesus left them, but not before opening their eyes, and the word of God.  What they had heard, over and over, while Jesus was with them, hadn’t really taken root until he opened and confirmed it over a meal.

Not unlike the heartburn that occurs from too much food intake, the consumption of Jesus’ words, caused a supernatural heat or fervency to develop in their hearts.  Unlike dyspepsia that causes us to seek a bottle of  Rolaids, the heartburn they were feeling was energizing, spurring them on to continue His mission, by spreading the word.  Is the love you have for Jesus so strong that your heart burns within you?  If not, pick up his word, seek him out, He needs our hearts to be on fire….it’s an amazing, not uncomfortable feeling!!
 



Wednesday, November 13, 2013

No Need to Panic

When I saw this statue, of Joan of Arc, in a church in Nice, I have to admit I chuckled, because  I’d never seen a saint portrayed in this manner before.  It was almost as if she was saying, “Oh no, what have I gotten myself into?”, as she contemplates Jesus’ crucifixion, and the death of the saints before her, panic is literally etched in her face.  Haven’t we all, at one time or another, felt this same way, especially in our life with Christ?   We lament that there is no way we can attain the lofty, holy status of one of the martyrs, let alone our Savior, and what if I have to suffer for my faith.

The earliest church members felt that to die for the cause of Christ was noble indeed.  To follow in the footsteps of our Lord, even to death, was to truly embrace what he accomplished for us on the cross, to personally share in his suffering.  There are numerous scriptures that point out the value in suffering.  “Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Romans 8:17. “ I want to know Christ--yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death…” Philippians 3:10. And, “Instead, be very glad--for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.” 1 Peter 4:13.

That’s not to say that God judges us on how much, or how well we stand up to hardships.  Never forget, our righteousness comes through Christ, and his grace-giving sacrifice, nothing else is necessary.  Just because we are saved by faith doesn’t preclude that we will never suffer, and that’s the message these passages convey.  How we handle persecution, ridicule and other forms of suffering needn’t send us into panic mode.  When our faith is firmly rooted in his word, and nourished by prayer, fellowship and study, we, strengthened by the Holy Spirit within us, can take on any foe and emerge victorious.

There have been over 70 million Christian martyrs (the word means witness) since the church began. Historians tell us that in the last century than there have been more than in all the previous years combined. It is thought that some 400 people are martyred daily, believe it or not!  Most of us, here in the USA, will probably never have to face the cross, firing squad or be burned at the stake, although some of you living in hostile-to-Christ countries might.  Regardless of where we live, we will eventually face some kind of persecution fires.  Be prepared, not fearful! “But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened." 1 Peter 3:14.




Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Shalom

Most know that the Hebrew word shalom is universally understood to mean "peace." However, "peace", or freedom from warfare, is only one small part of the meaning . "Shalom" is used to both greet people and to bid them farewell, and it means much more than "peace, hello or goodbye"....According to Strong's Concordance Shalom also means completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord. Shalom comes from the root verb shalom meaning to be complete, perfect and full.  When Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.” John 14:27, he was blessing us with everything that we could ever need.  All things physical, mental, financial and spiritual would be taken care of.

 We don’t bless people very much anymore, probably only when someone sneezes, but we should.  Proverbs 18:21 tells us there is life or death in the power of the tongue. Therefore, whenever you employ the word "shalom" you are speaking into someone's life all the wonderful things that shalom means! Why not begin today to think in terms of passing along God’s goodness, bless someone. Shalom my dear friends!!


Friday, November 8, 2013

A Color-filled Life


As you know, I’ve been thinking about creation and the origin of man lately.  No atheist has ever adequately answered some of my queries.  For example, did male and female slither out of the same primordial ooze?  If not, whomever came first must have had to wait an awfully long time to reproduce.  And what about emotions?  If we are simply animated piles of matter, why would emotions be necessary?  Instead, like an artist’s  palette, human emotions run the gamut from maudlin hues of grey and black, to jubilant shades of fuchsia and gold.  Why?

At times like this, God directs me to his word, yet again!  Right there in Genesis he reminds me that all of us are made in his image. “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” Genesis 1:26.  Those of you who doubt the existence of a Creator might want to leave at this point, but hear me out.  If we believe that we are created in the image of our Creator, what does that imply?  God is spirit and is not limited to a physical body, hence what he passes on to us in his DNA, is our soul comprised of his emotions, so to speak.  Check it out.  From what I read, God not only has the ability to empathize with us, he literally shares in our feelings since they were His to begin with.


Go ahead, select any color from the spiritual palette and you’ll find scripture backing this claim up.  Let’s look at sorrow or grief, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God” Ephesians 4:30. Paul warns us that God’s Holy Spirit can be grieved, especially by our actions and choices.  In another section we see Jesus weeping over the death of Lazarus, and the fate of Jerusalem. Sounds like emotion to me.  How about love, “We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19. He loved us first, what’s so hard to understand about that?  I dare you to pick any color, from anger through jealousy to delight and satisfaction, and not find a corresponding passage.  The Creator’s image is so evident in His prize creation, us!!  As we allow him to work with those colors in our lives,  and we don’t dwell solely on the darker hues, the beauty of God will shine through in the masterpiece that is our life in Him. “For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10.


                                 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Non-stop Flight

I’ve been trying to book a January vacation to Cancun, and have been searching for a non-stop flight.  In my opinion, non-stop is the only way to go.  No worries about missing a connecting flight, lost luggage or other problems that accompany multi-stop voyages.  I’m so sold on non-stop, that cheapskate me is willing to pay the extra cost that accompanies it.  While there may be those who like checking out other airports, I know that any additional layovers can lead to problems, and keep me from reaching my goal of being on the beach in less than 4 hours from St. Louis.  Believe me, I speak from experience.

 There are plenty of options to choose on Orbitz, Expedia or any of the other travel sites.  They tease you with cheap package prices, but you have to look closely to see why.  It can be less expensive because the flight takes 23 hours, and you lose a whole day of sunshine and all-inclusive living!

 Thomas, he of doubting fame, had the opportunity to question Jesus about the non-stop, one way to heaven.  Jesus had just told the disciples that he was going to be leaving soon to prepare a place for them.  Thomas wasn’t sure where this place was, nor how to access it from the Jerusalem airport, so “Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” John 14:5-6.  In essence Jesus was telling Thomas, and all of us in turn, that the only sure way to the quintessential all-inclusive, Heaven, is through him. The most perfect non-stop, one way flight we will ever book.

Sure, the world offers us endless options, but when you check into them closer you’ll discover the convoluted, out of the way path they will take you on, only to arrive at the wrong place.  Trust Jesus on this one, no matter what good-sounding deals you may come across, and best of all the fare has already been paid for you!


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

I Am Complete

Earlier this summer, my husband and I took our two oldest grandkids, Ty and Ella, on a road trip.  We traveled down to Paducah, KY making stops along the way. While passing though Metropolis, IL, Ty spied this phone booth-looking thing.  He kept yelling excitedly that it was a TARDIS. Never having heard the term, I thought he said tortoise…silly me.  In actuality a TARDIS, which stands for, Time and Relative Dimension in Space, is a sort of time machine/spaceship found in the British Dr. Who series.  Ty is a fan, needless to say.  We turned around and I snapped a picture.  He was thrilled, but really wanted a TARDIS of his own, who wouldn’t?  We couldn’t find one, but on my trip to England in September, I happened to find a shirt and a pen with a TARDIS on it.  As he tore through his bag of goodies we brought home, he came to the shirt.  It was a bit too small, but no matter, he put it on over the one he was wearing, and was about to burst with joy, when I told him to dig deeper in the bag.  Pulling out candy bars and socks he uncovered the TARDIS pen.  Dramatically he withdrew the precious item and held it up proudly announcing to us all that, “Now I am complete!”  I had to laugh at this typical Ty response, but it got me thinking about what makes us COMPLETE.  

Ty’s 10 year old self was indeed serious about being made complete, but give him another month and he‘ll need something else to fulfill him.  What about you?  Is there something that you yearn for, the thing that you are certain will fill that empty void and make you whole?  We‘ve all sought after our own TARDIS, only to find that when we have it in our possession, it never quite fills that need completely. So then, what will truly complete us?  It‘s pretty obvious where I‘m going with this, it is a relationship with the one who created that empty spot in the first place.  I don‘t mean trying to adhere to religious rules, doing good deeds, or even church attendance, but entering into a life-altering relationship with God.  Believe me you will know when you are there, have no doubts about it.  But maybe you have doubts, are you still seeking the elusive TARDIS?  Well search no more.  The apostle Paul knew that perishable, human stuff would never satisfy or complete us, and he wrote this to the church at Colossi, “For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.” Colossians 2:9-10.  Do you have questions?  Let me know, or start reading the scriptures and ask God to reveal his TARDIS, then you will be able to say, "I am Complete!"



Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Whitewashed Tombs

“You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean.” Matthew 23:27.  While visiting Paris a few years ago, we decided to make a trek to the cemetery where Jim Morrison, of the Doors, was buried.  It was a huge place, and a gorgeous early Spring, Parisian day.  We passed tomb after tomb, most were neatly maintained, some even had little rooms which held chairs, presumably so visitors could sit and visit with the deceased.

As lovely as the surroundings were on the exterior, it was still a place that held corpses within.  Jesus pulled no punches when he told a gathering of  Pharisees that they were hypocrites and liars.  They professed one thing on the outside; learned, religious, white-washed scholars, but on the inside they were nothing more than unclean, dead bones. Yuck!  No matter how nice we make ourselves and our churches look outwardly, if we don’t have the life and joy of Christ within, we’re dead.  "Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you." Ephesians 5:14.


Friday, November 1, 2013

Give Credit, Where Credit is Due

During one of my pondering on the origins of the universe sessions, I decided to do some Googling.  The first thing I looked up were some statements made by renowned scientists on the subject.  These uber-intellects were asked to expound on their personal opinion of creation and the participation of God, if any, in said process.  Here are a couple of them, look for the common thread.  “When people ask me if a god created the universe, I tell them that the question itself makes no sense. Time didn’t exist before the big bang, so there is no time for god to make the universe in. It’s like asking directions to the edge of the earth; The Earth is a sphere; it doesn’t have an edge; so looking for it is a futile exercise. We are each free to believe what we want, and it’s my view that the simplest explanation is; there is no god. No one created our universe and no one directs our fate. This leads me to a profound realization; There is PROBABLY no heaven, and no afterlife either. We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe, and for that I am extremely grateful.” Stephen Hawking. Isaac Asimov (1920-1992)"Emotionally, I am an atheist. I don't have the evidence to prove that God doesn't exist, but I so strongly suspect he doesn't that I don't want to waste my time."

Hawking, in his “profound realization” says “there is PROBABLY no heaven or afterlife, and Asimov informs us that he doesn’t have the evidence to disprove God.  Even though these two men call themselves atheists, the door to belief is left open just a crack.  Why didn’t they just come out and say that the whole God/Intelligent designer notion was hogwash?  Because they can’t.  Hawking even uses the term “Grand Design” to describe the universe, when in the sentence before he said that no one had created it. Design, to me, implies a designer.

In contrast to these Nobel prize winners, my brain is miniscule, but how is it possible that they can, with a straight face, believe that there was never a blueprint for creation.  I think the problem lies in the fact that many learned individuals want everything to line up in concise, provable fashion. Creation is so far beyond human understanding that not even these geniuses can explain it fully.  It must be so frustrating to them not to be able to figure it out completely, and even more frustrating to allow for the theory of a supernatural, god-created universe.  It would be admitting defeat to say that someone or something could have been responsible.

 While there continues to be a rift between creationists and scientists, there are and have been those, who, without going so far as saying they believe in God, do give credit to an unseen force.  Sir Fred Hoyle, from whose writings the term Big Bang originated, wrote this; “Once we see, however, that the probability of life originating at random is so utterly miniscule as to make it absurd, it becomes sensible to think that the favorable properties of physics on which life depends are in every respect deliberate ... . It is therefore almost inevitable that our own measure of intelligence must reflect ... higher intelligences ... even to the limit of God ... such a theory is so obvious that one wonders why it is not widely accepted as being self-evident. The reasons are psychological rather than scientific.” This last one sums it up for me. American biochemist and science fiction writer Walter Kohn (1923-)"I am very much a scientist, and so I naturally have thought about religion also through the eyes of a scientist. When I do that, I see religion not denominationally, but in a more, let us say, deistic sense. I have been influenced in my thinking by the writing of Einstein who has made remarks to the effect that when he contemplated the world he sensed an underlying Force much greater than any human force. I feel very much the same. There is a sense of awe, a sense of reverence and great mystery.”

That sense of awe found in the magnificence and complexity of creation is undeniable, even to unbelievers. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Romans 1:20.   King David, who might have been a Nobel Prize winner, said this: The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” Psalm 53:1.   Science and God need not be at war, but let’s give credit, where credit is due.


Garden of the "God(s)" in southern Illinois