Monday, July 16, 2018

The Lion (Doesn't) Sleep Tonight

One thing I have learned well in my fifty plus years is that temptation never looks like temptation. You sit smugly in front of the evening news, watching a parade of sinners in shackles, and quietly think to yourself "I would never do that". No, you would not, because the devil knows you would not. Instead, he knows what you "would", and he is a schemer (the dictionary definition being "someone who makes secret plans in order to gain benefit for himself"). He notices your weaknesses, and intends to exploit them for his own benefit. So, he tests the waters. He throws a crumb, and you eat it, so he throws a bigger one, and then a handful, until gradually you have finished a loaf. Pay attention, you are not immune. If there is a lion prowling in the high grass, you stay alert, and strap a weapon to your side. You don't turn your back on it for a brief moment of pleasure, because in the end, it will eat you alive.
1 Peter 5:8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
Ephesians 6:11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Not Gonna Be Popular

Titus 2:Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

Dear young women of faith,

My heart grieves for you today.  For all of you who have fallen at the foot of the Cross, and given your everything to Christ, yet not everything. Your words boldly proclaim Jesus, and your love for Him is evident. Your reaching out to others, your enthusiasm in ministry, all shine forth. Why, then, is my heart grieved?  It cries out in sorrow for the loss of what was divinely yours. Your body.

Somewhere along the route of your history, you heard the lie. Then later, you believed it. Then, embraced it. Satan whispered in your ear that there was no forbidden fruit, that your body truly was your own, that God never meant what He said about sexual sin. "Hogwash", the devil said, "the Bible is old fashioned, and outdated, and everything it says about sins against the body, rubbish."

You, who have chosen salvation, you have given your "almost all" to Him. What you have done with your body, outside the confines of marriage, and after your confession of faith, is intentional sin. Sin that grieves the Father's heart, because it is done boldly, and makes a mockery of the blood that Jesus shed for you on the cross.  It rends the white garment, and creates a chasm between you and the Lord.

"Not guilty", you say. "What I do with my body is my business. I can worship God, live for Jesus, and still have sex with whoever I want. No big deal." Yes, it is, and I pray today that God convicts your heart, and that you repent, and stop making that choice. Confess it as sin, then make the relationship right by abstaining, or marrying, and if you can't do either of those things, say good-bye to your temptation.


1 Thessalonians 4:3 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8 Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit. 

Saturday, June 30, 2018

MINE!

Here on the hill, I am up and out the door to do my morning "farm chores" before the sun gets too hot. It's not much of a farm here, it's more like someone threw the makings of Old MacDonald onto my lawn, and then took a holiday. 

I feed, and I water, and then I make an inspection of the vegetable garden. "Very nice, beets, keep doing your thing." "Straighten up, tomato!" "What is this BUG?!" Today, "Cabbage" has almost filled his raised box. "Look at that!", I said to myself, "look at what I have done! I have grown a massive cabbage! The biggest of all earthly cabbages! Next month, we will have sauerkraut galore!" Then, with a pat on my back, I headed in for coffee. "I will plant more cabbage, and more cabbage, and they will all be big, and beautiful, because I am the best grower ever!"

I think I heard you laugh at me. Isn't this how all of us live life? It is today, and if today does not hold some kind of crisis to drive us to the feet of God, we manage to find a way to call all of our successes "MINE!" Like toddlers, gripping something that doesn't belong to us with our sticky fingers, and daring anyone to pull it from our grasp. Then, we run the other way, forgetting the Great Giver, and replacing Him instead with anything that we can hold in our hands.

Luke 12:16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest.
17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain.

19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ’

20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”



Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Tunnel Vision

For those who like to see the world, there are highways built just for you. Grand works of construction that run great distances, where you can travel miles without the opportunity to exit. The Turnpike here is one of those.

There is a mountain that sits in the middle of that Turnpike. It looms up in the distance as you approach, and the closer you get, the larger it grows. I suppose a driver could stop. He could pull over on the shoulder, look into the distance at this great obstruction, and declare his life over. "Whoa, whoa is me", he says as he looks ahead, "there is a mountain too great ahead. I can neither go over, nor around, so here I will sit until I die." I know, a bit dramatic, don't you think? Would the Engineer who planned this route allow it to come to an abrupt end? Would he desire disaster for the people who want to use it? I think not.

We travel daily down the highway called life. Every day mountains loom up in front of us. From a distance, the size of the rocks ahead can overwhelm us. We pull over, put our head in our hands, and cry "whoa is me, there is a mountain too great ahead. I can neither go over, nor around, so here I will sit until I die." Oh, poor little friend, wipe your eyes, and look again. You see, the Engineer was here first. He saw that monstrosity sitting in your path long before you even knew it was there. He has already cleared the way for you. Through sweat, and blood, and back breaking labor, He has drilled, and blasted a tunnel through that stone. There is an opening ahead, but you won't ever enter it if you're idling at a distance. Getting through involves action, start moving again.  It involves trust, trust the One who created your path, and it involves faith, believe there is a way forward. The devil would like you to believe that you have been abandoned. Run him over.


Psalms 37:18 The blameless spend their days under the LORD’s care, and their inheritance will endure forever.
19 In times of disaster they will not wither; in days of famine they will enjoy plenty. 
 
Psalms 37: 23 The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him;
24 though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.                    
Psalms 37:39 The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD; He is their stronghold in time of trouble.                            

Sunday, June 24, 2018

The Way

We all have a route we travel on a daily basis. A certain road that becomes a part of us, one on which we can drive confidently in the fog, or the snow.  It's path is ingrained in us, every curve, every intersection. I drive a highway like that.  I know where to slow down for the bumps, where the scenery will change, and where to expect slippery spots when it snows.  One day, while driving down that stretch, I passed a car on the shoulder with it's four-ways on.  The man behind the wheel had a large map unfolded on the dash. He was obviously lost. "How odd", I thought to myself, "that someone could be lost here", and then I kept going.

God has reminded me, almost daily since that incident, about the times that I have "driven" by someone who was "lost".  That I knew the "Way", and didn't take time to stop, and show them.  That I had exactly what that person needed to know in that moment, and I told myself I was too busy, or I didn't feel safe. How sad. How incredibly sad.

There is someone in your life who is parked along the side of a dark road today. They have pulled out all of their maps, wiped the anxious sweat from their brows, and they are frantically looking for their way Home. You are the only one who can show them how to get there.

Luke 10: 25-37
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”


Thursday, June 7, 2018

Peas and Thank you

I was standing in the garden staring at the peas. It's a nightly ritual, wandering around the raised beds staring at the plants. I don't know what's supposed to happen there, but tonight the peas were talking. I planted the seeds under a makeshift trellis. It doesn't look like much, just an old swing frame and some clothesline, but it does the trick. Today, I noticed that those peas had finally gotten tall enough to wrap their fingers around the first rope.
Now, the peas didn't know there was anything up there. They had no idea that someone had painstakingly prepared a place for them. They spent quite a few weeks blowing around in the wind, convinced that they were going to fall over and be eaten by rabbits. Worried, angry little peas.
I'm fairly certain that on most days, we're like that,too. None of us think about the fact that God has already gone ahead of us. He has already prepared exactly what we need, at exactly the right moment. We're so busy blowing around in the wind, convinced that we're going to fall, and that life will devour us, when, in reality, we're only a few days short of the mark.
God's got you. You might not see Him, but there's a Master Gardener walking around the raised bed of your life right now. He's saying encouraging words like "almost there, you can do it, reach up, grab hold". He's setting you in the place where you'll get the most sun, and the best of the rain, and where you are protected from the wind. He has already surrounded you with a sturdy, high fence to keep out your adversaries, and now and then, He walks around the garden of your life smiling, and waiting for the harvest.
Genesis 2:8 Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed.

Monday, November 27, 2017

If I Wrote In 1750

I consider it an honor to die in the service of our Lord, Who gave it all for the wretch that is me. What glorious respite to be removed from this earthly life to abide with Him eternally. I will not fear those who might kill my body, rather let me run from the one seeking my everlasting soul. When I die, whether by earthly end, or evil hand, I pray that death would find me in the middle of doing unto Him. Amen.