You are God’s beautiful creation

treeThere’s a big tree in our front yard that Diane and I love.  It’s beautiful in the summer when it’s green and full of leaves.   We have four bird feeders and the birds will fly back and forth between the feeders and the tree, hiding in the thickness of the leaves.  The birds make their homes in nests they have built in the tree.  It also shades the house from the hot summer evening sun.

treefallIt’s beautiful in the fall when it’s a vibrant golden color.  It still accommodates the birds and still keeps the sun off the house, but it also sets the place aglow.

And this morning I saw the tree without the summer leaves to shade us and without the beautiful fall colors to appeal to us. There’s nowhere for the birds to hide and their abandoned nests in the crooks of the branches are left exposed.  This morning it was just the tree.

I took a picture and I think you’d agree that it was beautiful, even as it sets bare.

Today I’m reminded of how God sees us.  We don’t usually think about how IMG_2132God sees us.  We primarily see ourselves as others see us.  We differentiate between feeling good about ourselves or feeling bad about ourselves by our performance and acceptance.  We base our value on Facebook “likes”.

Most people would look at our tree in the winter and not see its beauty.  But the old phrase that beauty is in the eye of the beholder is definitely true.  And when God looks at you, He sees His child – whom He created.  His view of you is not based on your performance or on your looks.  Psalm 139 says you are “wonderfully made”.   He loves you because He created you.  It’s an unconditional love – regardless of how you believe others see you and regardless of what you’ve done.

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A map and a battle plan – Walmart Black Friday shopping

I receive Walmart emails because I have made a Walmart purchase online.  When I checked my email this morning I had an email from Walmart titled. “Prep for Black Friday – Map Inside”.

I can enter my zip code and they will give me a map of my local Walmart.  They will tell me where the $98, 32 inch television is going to be placed in my very own store on Thanksgiving evening.  I can plan the best route from the television to the $9.99 waffle maker – It looks like you have to go through ladies lingerie.  What you cannot plan for are the hundreds upon hundreds of people who will be blocking every path through every aisle.  They’re not on the map, but they will be there.  And they can throw a wrench into the whole thing.

The Bible gives us a “map and a battle plan” for life.  While this life will be filled with highs and lows, God tells us to remain faithful and obedient.  He says that there will be some heartache in this life, even though we don’t know exactly where it will be.  There will be temptations and tears.  But he says not to worry.  He says that those times are temporary.  One day, there will be no more sorrow and no more tears.  Until then, the most important instructions aren’t where the $98 televisions are.  The most important thing is to lean on Him and to keep going when the world seems to be against you.  He has overcome the world and He has already won the battle for us.  So hang in there knowing and believing that there is a plan and that it is to give you a hope and a future, no matter how challenging certain times may be.

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If God had a refrigerator…

IMG_2104One of my favorite shirts I’ve ever seen is from cross country.  It said, “Don’t worry, your mom will say you ran great.”  In other words, I’m going to beat you and you’re not going to run very well, but your mom will tell you that you did.  That comes to mind when kids draw pictures to give to you.  Sunday one of the little girls from our church gave me a picture of me at the front of the church.  I have it hanging in my office.  I also have a picture that Matt drew me about 10 or 12 years ago hanging in my office.  The pictures are precious not for their quality, but because of for the intentions behind them.  And they wouldn’t be precious to too many other people, but they are to me.

IMG_2106We sometimes need a reminder of how precious we are to the One who created us.  We too easily believe what the world tells us, and don’t believe enough what He tells us.  The world makes you think you need to be thinner, prettier, funnier, a better spouse, a better parent, etc.  God loves you.  You are precious to Him.  He loves you unconditionally.  He sent Jesus to die on the cross for you so that you may be forgiven.  If he had a refrigerator, He would have your picture hanging on it.

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Speak

scottknowlton:

Some wonderful writings on this blog.

Originally posted on 46 Psalm:

One of our writers Janna Lynas, will bless you with her words.  This is a must read and will touch your heart.

By Janna Lynas 

I will always love the sound of turning pages, touching paper, following the type of letters and sounds that lead to words and make me think. Things that make me go back and read it over and over. Wondering over it all.

A week ago I picked up a an old, familiar book of my grandma’s. She died when I was eight. I still remember the look on my dad’s face when he came and I didn’t yet know what. Just that something was wrong with grandma. Granddad gave me the pearl necklace she was given upon her graduation from eighth grade, the watch she received when she finished high school and her wedding ring. I’m sentimental and am in love with the past…

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Waiting on a professional

This morning I have a professional drain cleaning guy coming to my house.  For the last 10 days I’ve been fighting the sewer lines, thinking I had them whipped only to have small amounts of sewage come up in the basement again and again.  I had a small hand snake that I’d been using.  I thought about going to the store and renting a bigger electric one.  But just so it would be fixed when my wife gets home from a short trip (she’s been very patient), I thought was time to call in someone who has the right tools and knowledge to take care of the job.  The only difference between me and the professional who is coming to work on the drain is that he has experience and the right tools.

I’m going to make a not-so-smooth transition here from professional sewer cleaners to the church.  Obviously the church is filled with people who come from all walks of life.  Most of you who read my blog go to church somewhere.  And if we’re not careful, we can go to church and think that most of the work at the church and on behalf of the church should be done by “professionals” – people who are paid and/or more properly trained than we are.

I read an article yesterday about the church and it said, “If you make disciples you will always get the church, but if you try to build the church you will rarely get disciples.”  Many church consultants see the main problem in the church as churches having crowds of people, but not having very many disciples (followers of Jesus).

It’s the problem that John Wesley saw in the church in his day (in the 1700’s).  The Methodist Church basically began because John Wesley thought the church in his day was just a crowd of people gathering and not taking their faith seriously.  Some people from the church began meeting on their own (still going to church) to deepen their relationship with Jesus and become better followers.  He basically started a small group.

What churches need today is some disciples who want more than what they’re getting on Sunday mornings alone.  And they can’t wait for the pastor or paid/trained staff to set it up.  God is surely calling some people to start home Bible studies.  Click here for a great resource to start.

God will honor your efforts by giving you what you need.  You don’t need a professional.  You can’t always even rely on professionals.  Mine is 45 minutes late.  I wonder if I’m going to be renting an electric drain cleaner today.

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Focus on what you have

Yesterday was a blog that talked about how I see our country and Christianity parting ways – or at least they should be because our country is heading away from Biblical teachings in many areas and is becoming less and less tolerant of the conservative church’s teachings.  Many times in churches the older Christians long for the way things used to be.  They miss things like a thriving Sunday School program, a full choir singing The Church in the Wildwood, Sunday best clothes, businesses closed on Sundays, and old fashioned revivals and Gospel sings.  It does no good to long for those days because things are never going to be the way they used to be.

Sometimes in our own lives we mourn over what we have lost.  We mourn over lost loved ones, lost youth, lost health, lost chances, and so on.  I was visiting with someone yesterday who was mourning over some loss and God told me to tell them this:  Focus more on what you still have than what you have lost.  Most of you aren’t mourning over things today, but I think we all tend to take what we have for granted.

I hope today is a reminder to you and to me to appreciate what we have – even if it’s not necessarily what we want.  Don’t let yesterday’s sorrow or regret or tomorrow’s worry steal the joy that can be found in today.  God has blessed you in some way today.

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The church and the United States are in the midst of parting ways

Some people will argue whether or not the United States was “founded” as a Christian nation.  I don’t want to make that argument today, but I don’t know how anyone can argue that for about 200 years the United States has primarily been a Christian nation, whether it was founded as one or not.  The American society has pretty much aligned with and tried to follow the teachings of Jesus from the Bible, even though it was often far from perfect in doing so.  Fifty years ago, nobody would have dreamed of calling a Christmas Tree a “Holiday Tree”.  When stores put up “Happy Holidays” signs, it meant Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  Now when stores have their employees say “Happy Holidays” it is to be all encompassing and won’t be offensive to anyone.  Fifty years ago, there was Christian prayer in schools and Christian prayer to open nearly every town council meeting across the country.

Today, if prayer is held at all, everyone must have equal access to begin a meeting with prayer.  Jewish prayers, Muslim prayers, Wiccan Witch prayers, Buddhist prayers, you name it and you can sue to open a council meeting with that prayer.  Federal prisons have to have chaplains that minister to dozens of ‘religions’.  The US military and hospital chaplains can’t mention Jesus – and the list goes on.  In the last week, even the National Cathedral in Washington, DC held a Muslim prayer service in it.  Anyone who would speak out against it is seen as hateful and narrow minded.  Yet the same politically correct people who criticize Christians for thinking it’s not right to allow Islamic worship in the Christian church remain silent about Muslim practices.

This is from the Daily Caller web site:  Under current Islamic law, Christians are not allowed to pray in mosques, and are not allowed to set up visible churches in Saudi Arabia and other Muslim-dominated countries. In nearly all Muslim countries, Christians are not allowed to proselytize, and conversion to Islam is a capital crime in many Muslim communities. In Israel, because of Muslim opposition, Jews are not allowed to pray on the Temple mount,  which was once occupied by a Jewish synagogue, then by a Christian church, and now by an Islamic mosque.

Our society and Christianity are parting ways.  And the church will have to decide if it is going to go with Jesus or with the world.  Some who call themselves the church will go with the world.  Some already have.  It will be easier to go with the world – I believe that’s the wide way that Jesus talked about.  The problem is that He said that path leads to destruction.

(Think I’m being dramatic?  Some of you are even hesitant to ‘like’ today’s post.  I almost know who will and who won’t click like on Facebook for today’s blog.)

There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death. ~ Proverbs 14:12

If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
 ~ John 15:19

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