New Mercies Each Morning

This morning I walked in to a little bit of a mess.  There were roasters, bags of food, a cooler, and a few other things scattered about the church social hall.  I would love to have called the person responsible, but the truth is I was the responsible party!  When we have dinners at the mission, like last night, or when there are still things to be done after a Wednesday dinner, sometimes I am just done at the end of the day and I know it can wait until morning.

As I walked in this morning, I was reminded what a blessing it is to be forgiven by God.  Of course, this does not mean there are not consequences for our actions.  Sometimes we owe people an apology, sometimes we have to make things right, and sometimes we even have to pay a “debt to society”.  But those things all pale in comparison to being forgiven by the God who created us.  When we lay our heads down at the end of the day, we wake up the next morning completely forgiven of every failure from the day before.  Whatever “mess” Christians made is washed away by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.  God does not remind us of them.  He casts them in to the sea of forgetfulness.  And every day, we get to begin with a clean record in God’s sight.  I am forgiven of my past.  That frees us up to live today.  Praise God that His mercies are new every morning.

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Posted in Opportunity, peace | Leave a comment

You don’t find peace until…

There is a song I like a lot by Ben Rector called, “Note to Self”.  It is a song about being kind to yourself and to others.  One of the lines toward the end of the song is, “You don’t find peace until you love somebody else.”  As much as I like the song, I am not so sure about that.  Sometimes loving others is heartbreaking.  I do not need to name all the ways someone you love can break your heart.  At the very least, people you love let you down.  I let people down, we all do.  We are all imperfect human beings.

John 14:27 records Jesus saying we find peace from Him.  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  Philippians 4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always… And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

One of the things I have been doing as I go on ambulance calls is whispering “Peace to you” to the patient sometimes during the transport or after arriving at the hospital.  Even in the valley of life, His peace is available to us.  Today I am not telling you anything new, but simply reminding you.  My prayer for you today is that you remember that Jesus is advocating for you on the throne, the Holy Spirit is your Helper, and God loves you.  There is nothing that can come your way, today or ever, that you should allow to steal the peace He gives.

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I don’t need that kind of negativity

This morning I unfriended someone on Facebook.  It is someone who friended me years go, and someone I never see.  (Some of you may not finish this blog before you go check and see if we are still friends on Facebook, bahahaha.) I almost sent them this message, but I was not sure if it would be helpful to them, so I did not send it. It would not be sent out of spite, but would send it out of love if they would receive it that way.  Anyway, here it is:

I just want you to know why I unfriended you on facebook – you never wrote one encouraging thing on any of my posts.  Any of my posts you felt the need to reply to only resulted in a snarky or cynical comment or a sarcastic smiley face from you.  I can handle cynical, sarcastic, and snarky on occasion, but not if that is all you offer.

I only post this on my blog because you are disconnected from the situation and it may be helpful to you in a couple of ways.  A.) Do not be that person and B.) Do not hesitate to unfriend a distant person who only drags you down with negativity.  (This is not the  advice I would give if it is a close friend or a family member).

I also post it because it leads me to this.  This past Sunday someone missed church and I sent them the sermon.  The sermon was on Jesus saying, “Whom the Son sets free is free indeed.”  The person sent me a reply that it was a good sermon, but they prefer “convicting sermons”.  (The sermon is 37 minutes and can be found here.)  I prefer convicting sermons as well.  But sometimes we need a word of encouragement.  Do not get me wrong, when the Lord gives me convicting sermons they are given in love (given to me and then relayed by me in love).  Convicting sermons are not bad news, they are good news.  They are meant to help people turn from sin and lukewarmness and walk in the way that leads to life.  When we are corrected in love, it is not a bad thing, but a good thing.  But sometimes people take them in a negative way.

I am reminded that the only thing some people hear in their lives is negativity.  Sometimes people need a hug.  Sometimes people need a kind, encouraging word.  Some moments are not the moments for rebuke.

I pray that you know the love of the Savior.  Sometimes He corrects and it is hard for us, but He always loves. And I know He loves you.  Do not allow others’ negativity to overshadow His great love for you.  I pray you can say:

“I belong to my beloved and he belongs to me; he pastures his flock among the lilies.” ~ Song of Solomon 6:3

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Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

No Matter How Good a Person You Are

I saw someone shared something to the effect of “No matter how good of a person you are, something thinks you’re a jerk”.  That was the motivation I needed for today’s blog post.  If I think I am good and somebody else thinks I am a jerk, who is right?  Well, naturally, I think I am.  That other jerk is not right about me!  The problem with thinking we are a “good person” is that it is only our own opinion.  And our best friends, of course.  Who decides who is good?  You may well be a good person, but nobody pleases everybody.  Everyone has detractors, but we think our detractors are wrong.

The difficulty in thinking we are good is that if we believe we are good, we tend not to believe we need saved.  What we must realize is that even if we are “good”, good does not meet the qualification for making it to heaven.  That requires perfection.  But all hope is not lost.  The Bible says that perfection is possible!  It is possible when granted to you from outside of yourself, through what Jesus did on the cross for you.

What needs shared is “No matter how good a person you are, you still need a Savior.”  John Newton, who wrote Amazing Grace, put it well when he said, “I hope to die like the thief upon the cross. I have no hope, no comfort in myself.”  All my hope is in Jesus.

All my hope is in Jesus
Thank God that yesterday’s gone
All my sins are forgiven
And I’ve been washed by the blood. ~ David Crowder

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Posted in salvation | Leave a comment

Active Dry Yeast

This week some of us mixed up and baked a couple of batches of pepperoni rolls.  We are selling them in a couple of weeks to raise money for a mission we support in Haiti.  In the two batches we mixed up, we used regular active dry yeast in one and fast rising yeast in the other, just to see how each did.  Surprisingly, they both raised exactly the same.  Both bowls had the dough at the top of the bowl in forty-five minutes.

Yeast is an amazing thing.  It affects the entire batch.  The Bible talks often about yeast (leaven).  On the one hand, it speaks of it in a good way.  Matthew 13:33 says, “He spoke another parable to them, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened.'” On the other hand, there is Scripture warning about leaven like Matthew 16:6, “Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

It is a warning about how things influence us.  Each of us absorbs things through our eyes and ears that work within us and help to decide the direction of our lives.  I remember once meeting with someone who had a moral dilemma. I gave them Biblical advice.  I told them because they knew what I would say, they obviously wanted to hear the difficult truth.  I asked them if they knew people who would tell them to make the immoral choice and they said they did.

Today is a reminder to be careful what you allow to work withing you.  Do not believe the lies of the devil.  Soak in the promises of God

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Posted in Obstacles, Opportunity | Leave a comment

There has to be a reason

While in New Hampshire in May Diane bought a new, larger, decorative “sock” for the niger seed, or thistle seed.  The sock is a long mesh sack that holds these very small seeds that the goldfinches like.  For some reason, they are not eating the seed.  Then we put out the same small sock from last year, but still no luck.  The goldfinches are eating the sunflower seeds instead.  Last year we would have a dozen of them on the sock of niger seed. There has to be a reason.

One of my favorite sermons God has given me is about reasons, or excuses.  It is from the book of John chapter 5 where a lame man at the pool of Bethesda cannot or will not reach the water to be healed.  It’s a 3 or 4 point sermon and one of the points is, “There are always excuses”.  When Jesus asked the man if he wanted to be made well, the man did not say yes.  The man replied, “There is nobody to put me in the water, others rush in front of me.”  Why will he not just say yes?  I wonder that about all the people who know about Jesus and will not say yes to salvation.

I have to remember that there was a time before I was saved when I had not yet said yes to Jesus.  My excuse was that I was a good person.  I obviously knew I was not perfect (others knew it as well), but I thought my good certainly outweighed my bad.  I was my own judge and I had found myself innocent.  I do not know what happened, but God revealed to me that I was not the judge.  He was… and is… and will be.  He helped me understand that I needed forgiveness from outside of myself.  I finally said yes.  Yes, I believe I have sinned and need forgiveness that I cannot grant myself.  I accepted what Jesus had done on the cross on my behalf, not understanding why.  I asked God to forgive me and to send the Holy Spirit to live within me and run my life.  And my life changed.

So in those times when I wonder why more people do not say yes to Jesus and follow Him, I remember my past and remember that we all have our own reasons holding us back.  But God knows the reasons and He will overcome them if you will let Him.  You can begin by saying yes to Him even today as He asks you if you want to be made well.

As for those goldfinches, why they will not say yes to the niger seed remains a mystery to me.

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Posted in Obstacles, Opportunity, salvation | Leave a comment

The courage to call people to repentance

Over the last couple of years I have bought about 320 cases of green beans.  That is almost 4,000 cans of green beans!  The people at our Wednesday night community dinners love green beans when they are cooked for several hours with bacon grease.  A couple of months ago I fixed a batch (about 40 cans) and they were no good.  They were tough and stringy.  I threw them out and wondered what I had done wrong.  The next week I fixed another batch and got the same results.  I saved the cans from both weeks and saw they had the same “use by date” on them, which was 2021.  I went through my supply of green beans and found that I had a total of 30 cases of them with that date on them.  I called the store and told them that I hated to tell them this, but I had all those cases of beans I needed to return to exchange them for other beans. They said it would not be a problem.  I took them back to the store yesterday and they said they would have 30 cases of beans in today to replace them.  I even took receipts in from last year showing them I bought a total of 160 cases (I save all the receipts from the dinners).  I cook a lot of green beans.  I want them to understand that I would not make it up and I do know what I am talking about.  I am not causing them nor myself extra work and inconvenience for no reason.  I could not serve those beans and I could not throw them out.  That is about $150 worth of green beans, even at the sale price.

Sometimes you just have to speak up.  That is true in the case (pun intended) of those green beans, and it is true when it comes to the Word of God.  Many of the more traditional Believers and preachers have a tendency to not rock the boat, even as they believe the church keeps drifting in the current toward the beliefs of our society.  People who care about me have warned me about talking too much about certain things.  If you are for the modern movements, you are celebrated in society when you voice your opinion.  If you see yourself “holding fast to sound teaching” and believe the American church is falling off a cliff into the ocean of secularism (the ways of the world), and you dare speak of it, you are castigated by society and the parts of the church that find themselves in agreement with the world.

I know sometimes people get upset when they hear what the Bible says.  I confess there are parts of it that I find difficult.  When I blog, when I preach, or any other time I put things out there for public consumption, I am aware that there are some people who will disagree.  Some will be offended.  Some even complain.  But I draw courage from Peter and John in Acts.  They are arrested and told not to speak the name of Jesus any more.  When they are released, their prayer included this line: And now, Lord, consider their threats, and grant that your servants may speak your word with all boldness…”

Speaking God’s Word in boldness is the love and obedience that makes one risk being called hateful by proclaiming that reconciliation to God is not automatically bestowed upon all, but is an invitation to all.  We do not set the parameters, God does.  And the Bible says God will forgive all who will call upon the name of Jesus by believing Jesus died on the cross for their sin and repenting of their sin.  The alternative that the world offers is the lie that you have nothing from which you need to repent or be forgiven.

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Posted in Walking the Walk | Leave a comment