God is doing more than you realize

Sometimes I begin to work on a blog post and when I get to three or four paragraphs in, I realize it is not a blog post, but Sunday’s sermon.  That happened this morning.  I got so far into the blog post and realized that God was doing more than I had realized.  So I cut and pasted what I had written into a word program and will go back to it later today.  God always reminds me that He is doing more that I realize.

Today is a brief blog post, but do not mistake brevity with unimportance.  I am guessing that most of you, like me, need to be constantly reminded that God is doing more than you realize.  And that is especially comforting when it looks like He is doing nothing.  He never does nothing.  He is always doing something.  And it is always more than we realize.

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. ~ Ephesians 3:20-21

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Posted in Hard times | Leave a comment

In need of an inside cleaning

This morning I could tell the sunrise was going to be special.  It took me a long time to realize a sunrise is just a sunset in reverse.  Right after the most beautiful sunsets, in minutes the most brilliant skies turn gray as the earth turns further away from the sun.  Sunrises are just the opposite.  When there are cloudy gray skies with some clearing to see the sky, the earth turns toward the sun and the gray skies give way to cotton candy colored pinks and blues.  In anticipation of the sunrise this morning, I saw the church playground as a wonderful vantage point.  I could get about 8 feet higher in the air by climbing into the playground playset.  When I climbed the steps and stepped inside the fort like playground, I saw it needed washed.

It looks good from the outside, but I had never seen it from the inside.  It would be a great illustration for the Scripture when Jesus warns the Pharisees about doing things to look good on the outside, while their “inside” is filthy (Matthew 23:27).  We all have the same “filthy” problem – we all need cleaned on the inside.  And unlike the playground, where just about anyone could climb up in there and clean it, it is impossible for any of us to clean ourselves on the inside.  Some would say it is impossible, but we know with God, all things are possible.  If you have been forgiven through the sacrifice of Jesus, you are clean on the inside.  Do not let that old enemy, the devil, convince you otherwise.  If you have not, you must realize your “I try to be good enough” thought process of thinking you have done more good things than bad… well, it can never clean you on the inside.  Only Jesus can do that.  And He will.  Just ask Him to.

Dear Lord Jesus,

I know that I am a sinner and need Your forgiveness. I believe that You died on the cross for my sins and rose from the grave to give me life. I know You are the only way to God. So now I want to quit disobeying You and start living for You. Please forgive me, clean me from the inside out, change my life and help to live for You. I pray in Your Name Jesus. Amen.

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What others think

I took some interesting classes when I went back to college in 2004 to get my undergrad degree.  Among them were a couple of photography classes.  Even though I had been taking pictures for a couple of decades, I still learned a lot.  Some helpful photography tips follow.  Putting your subject to the left or right of center is visually more appealing than centering the subject. This picture of the sunflower has the sunflower centered, but within the sunflower are three bees.  They are subjects within a subject and the bees form a triangle.  Subjects in a triangle are received well in photos.  There is also something called the “rule of thirds” which you can look up on the internet.  This photo is a good example of the rule of thirds.

What is most conspicuous about this photo is that it looks like we have pink plastic flamingos in our yard.  We do.  There are two of them.  They are there because they belonged to Diane’s sister, who passed away five years ago.  We bought them for her as a joke a long time ago.  Many people would consider them tacky.  Most of you would not be caught dead with plastic flamingos in your yard.  They are special to us.  We do not care what people think.

We live in a society that is more concerned with what others think than what the God who created us thinks.  Most of us will go along with whatever makes us acceptable to society, even when it is contradictory to what the Word of God teaches.  We should pause and ask ourselves once in a while, “Who am I trying to please?”  My prayer is that I am less concerned with what others think and more concerned with what the God who created me thinks.  And I can only know what He thinks by going to the Bible. Who are you living to please?  Yourself?  Others?  Or the God before whom you will one day stand?

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Posted in Opportunity | Leave a comment

Do not accept friend request from the devil – he will hack you

If you have Facebook, you receive messages over and over from well meaning friends (who themselves have received messages from well meaning friends) telling you not to accept friend requests from (fill in the blank), or that they have received a friend request from you and you have been hacked.  Then you are instructed to hold your finger on the message, copy it, and send it to all your friends.  Please do not do that any more.  When you receive these, 100% of the time you have not been hacked.  You will know when you have been hacked because friends will tell you that you are unknowingly posting about selling sunglasses and tagging all your friends.  Or you are posting obscene things when you normally do not.  For those of you who typically post obscene things, it will be harder to tell if you have really been hacked, hahaha.  I will mention no names.

We all have received a friend request that we should be worried about.  And our human nature automatically accepts it.  By our very nature, we are friends with the enemy of God.  John 8:44 says, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”  James 4:4 says that whoever wants to be friends with the world makes themselves an enemy of God.

It is like when Apple puts certain programs automatically on your iPhone.  You have the iPhone maps and weather apps until and unless you delete them.  You do not have to do anything to have them on your iPhone.  Really, you need to un-friend the devil.  And you need to accept the friend request from God.  Too many people who call themselves Christians try to be friends with both.  You cannot be friends with both.  If you are trying to be friends with both, the Bible says you are only truly friends with one – and that one is not God, but the original hacker himself, the devil.

If you are interested in un-friending the devil – click here for the instructions.

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A fire we do not want protected from

Today the company that checks on our fire extinguishers came for their yearly visit.  I was told that four need recharged and two need to be taken back to the shop.  They will leave us loaners for the two they have to take.  This would be a good place for a joke: “Most churches do not need fire extinguishers because there are folks in every congregation who bring extinguishers to church every Sunday” – quenching the fire of the Holy Spirit…. get it?

Fire is a wonderful picture of the Holy Spirit in the Bible.  The Spirit is like a fire in at least three ways: He brings God’s presence, God’s passion, and God’s purity…. and the Spirit, like a fire, is oh so unpredictable.  Some people cannot stand the unpredictability.  Hence the carrying with them a “fire extinguisher” joke.  The fire of the Holy Spirit is a fire I do not want protection from.  Come, Holy Spirit, Come.

 

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Posted in Opportunity, Walking the Walk | Leave a comment

You usually have to earn those

I was at the Union Rescue Mission last week and had a Samaritan’s Purse Disaster Relief hat on.  One of the guys there told me he had a hat just like that.  I was surprised.  I asked him where he got it and he said it came in a clothing donation bag someone had dropped off at the mission.  He did not know what it was for, but he liked the cross on the front.  I explained to him that you get that hat when you go on a missio0n trip with Samaritan’s Purse.  I explained disaster responses and rebuilds and told him “you usually have to earn those” by going on a mission trip with them.  I earned mine.  Lost of people in our church have one.  There is a good chance this came from someone in our church.

When I told him you had to “earn” those by going on a trip and explained the trips, the next words out of my mouth were, “It is unlike salvation, which can not be earned.”  Grace is a huge stumbling block to salvation.  Too many people see themselves as “good” and feel like their goodness can earn themselves a trip to heaven.  The only thing our lives earn us is a trip to the judgement throne where we are judged.  When we arrive there, only one thing gets us into heaven.  It is the grace of God through the shed blood of Jesus.  When we have placed our trust in Him and received freely His forgiveness, we are saved.  Those who believe they can earn it do not earn it and they are turned away from heaven.

I have another thought on this.  In paraphrasing from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship, the other way we err is to acknowledge and “accept” the free gift of grace and acceptance of God and use that as an excuse to continue to live rebellious lives.  We are saved by grace and once we are saved, we live different lives.  Trying to earn it or using it to excuse our sin are both fatal.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” ~ Romans 1:14-17

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I Am Fearless

Last week I was sitting on a covered deck with some others and we saw several wasp nests directly above us.  The homeowner said that when the sun went down he would go out and take care of them.  I am sure he got the bee spray that shoots 20 feet.  (A little tip: I have been told people in an office setting should keep a can of this near their desk for intruders, that it works like mace, but shoots 20 feet!)

When the homeowner said he was going to take care of the bees that night, as it often does, my mind when into sermon mode.  He knew the bees would not see the next sunrise, but the bees had no idea this was their last day.  Likewise, we have been warned over and over in the Bible that the end of life on this side of eternity will come like a thief in the night for each of us.  For some, the end will come upon Jesus’ return.  For most of us, the end of our lives on this earth will come when we take our last breath here.  And for most of us, it will come as a surprise.  While some get sick and have a little notice, most of us will have no notice.  And none of us know the day or the hour.  Like the bees, we will wake up one day and everything will be normal and by the time the sun sets, we will stand before the God of creation for judgement.

When we call Jesus Lord and Savior, death has no power over us.  We need not fear the grave.  We do not live life fearing death.  We know to be absent from this life is to be present with our Savior.  This is so freeing.  It frees us to live life without fear.  I fly in a plane without fear.  I go to Haiti without fear.  I fear no personal test results or diagnosis.  I am fearless.

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Posted in Opportunity, peace | Leave a comment