Wednesday, May 1, 2013

What God Has Made is Good

Reading through Acts 11:1-18 today, a section of scripture I have read many times before, I realized I never really read it.  I only looked to it for justification for eating what food I wanted.  As I read and made some notes to myself I kept coming up with new questions.  Questions like:
Do I use this scripture correctly in my interactions with others?
Do I focus on being able to eat whatever I want and not on being led by the Holy Spirit?
Do I use it to justify myself or to uphold what God has established?
I really don/t like these challenging questions.  I would much rather think that I have it all figured out and just go forward from there.  I like the idea that I do everything right but the reality is that I rarely do anything perfectly.  I took apart these questions in my own heart and began to digest the bitter pill that they are for me.  I am praying about them and trying to answer them in my own way for my own better understanding.  So far this is what I understand or don’t understand.
I try very hard to use all scripture in the proper context and to look at it from the beginning to the end as a complete thought not a patch work of ideas stuck together.  However, at this I do fail from time to time and fall into what is easy and not go the distance to make a complete understanding of what I have read. 
I do focus this set of scripture toward eating whatever I want even though that is not what it is teaching at all.  I hardly even recognized the Holy Spirit was so involved in this section of scripture before and that God might be saying something more than what is made by God is clean.
I don’t think I have ever used it to justify God only to uphold my own justification.  I am not sure that I ever looked at it as anything other than a justification for eating food.
As I pull this apart in my own life and pray about it I ask you to do the same.  Is there a verse or section of verses that you use for your own justification and not the upholding of who God is?  I challenge you to look for that scripture which you use the most and see if you are using it not only in context but to hold up God, raising Jesus up for His glory?  I pray that we can all do this for our betterment and closer walk to our Lord and Savior Jesus.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Is Faith that Important?

As Christians we throw around verses like 2Cor.5:7 For we live by faith, not by sight” hap hazardously to show that we must have faith.  Do we really believe this, do we practice it?  The bible uses the word faith 465 times (NIV).  Just how important is this faith that we talk about.  It is so important that it can keep some out and let others in to heaven. 
We see examples of this in our reading this week.  Rahab is a prostitute and a non Israelite.  Achan was born into the brother hood and raised to know and understand the Laws given by Moses.  You have an outsider and an insider if there ever was one.  The Lord saves Rahab and lets her and her family in because of her faith while Achan gets sent to the chopping block because of his.  This upper story that God is sharing with us gets repeated throughout the bible.
Mathew 8 verse 5 we see the faith of a centurion and Jesus talks about how he has not seen that much faith in all of Israel.  In fact Jesus goes on to talk about how some in the family (Israelites) would be thrown out and others who were not in the family would be saved.  This is serious business to God, but is it to us?
From time to time I find myself sitting back and complaining about the trials I have to face.  In retro spec I should be thanking God for the blessing of the trials he allows me to face.  I said that correctly, I am blessed with trials not burdened.  It is through these trials that I get to relay on my faith in God.  He, like any father wants his children to trust him.  It is in these low points in my life that I get to trust him fully.  I see a path that is clouded and dark with fear.  He sees an opportunity to show me his love, strength, and courage.  If I will let him he will carry me through the tribulation and with one motion of his hand still the storms of life about me.  It is love.
Love the feeling follows Love the action.  By being faithful to God I give him the opportunity to show his great love for me by protecting, guiding, and helping me through.  It is after the storm that the air is the clearest because we then feel the love.  Is faith important?  You bet it is and we had best get focused on it before we find ourselves on the outside looking in.  

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

From the Desert to the Mountain

My trip from the Desert to the mountain was very different than that of Moses’ yet it had some distinct similarities.  First off I was not given Quail and Manna to eat every day, though I would not have minded the Quail for sure.  I also did not have to get water from a rock, I got to use a moving truck and it took more like a year not 40 years.  Our trips were similar in a couple of ways though.  One I went from the desert to the mountain top and it was a great leap of faith for my family and I to do so. 

When we are faced with challenges people often say, “I don’t have that kind of faith.”  I am not a faith walker like you, like Moses, I cannot just trust God to do everything, I have to be involved.   When Moses got involved, he got in trouble.  When I got involved, I got in trouble.  Moses was allowed to stand on the mountain top and see the valley I was allowed to stand on the mountain top and move on into the valley.  It was neither an easy nor a short journey. 

I worked too long for a roofing company that I should not have.   I felt, I needed the security of a paycheck.   It was not until I gave up the idea that a paycheck was security and adopted the belief that God is the only security I need.  That is when God went to work in my life and began putting before me the challenges that would forever change my life to work for Him.  We can’t see Gods plan for us when we keep looking through the glasses of the world.  Those glasses filter out God. 
Moses did not have these filters but the Israelites did.  This is why they were continually pushed and challenged to remove these calluses from their eyes and only trust in God.  The Israelites continually are concerned with things of the world; food, water, land, images of God, and rules.  Are we any different today?  We are constantly worried about how food affects us, is the water I drink the best, we build fences around our land, and images of God…just pick one, American Idol, CSI, any TV show, Movie, actors, vehicles, houses, hobbies come to mind.  We constantly look for images of gods to distract us from Him.  Finally we come to rules.  We all search out rules to define who we are, who we think you are, who belongs, who does not belong.  There are some out there who search out rules only to break them and some who are so bent on keeping them to the very last letter that they miss out on God’s greatest gift. 

We live by faith every day.  Sometimes it is faith in others and when they fail, we get hurt.  Sometimes it is faith in ourselves and when we fail, we hit rock bottom.  When we put that faith in God and really begin to listen to him and trust what he is doing in our lives we can make it to the mountain.  We can see something that others cannot.  We can see the promise of a better future.   A future in a land of milk and honey.  What must it have been like, for Moses to look down on that valley?  I can tell you from experience.  It is Joy, Peace, Jubilation, Tears, Passion, Energy, and Rest all at the same time.  To know that you have listened and you are allowing Him to run your life is such a relief.  From the desert to the mountain is a hard, long journey but the payoff in the end is priceless.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Shattered to Pieces

When I was in the second grade my teacher, Mrs. Weidemeyer, had a treasure box that students could get a prize from.   In order to get a prize you had to earn a 100% on a spelling test on Wednesday.  The box was full of toys, candy, trinkets, stickers, small books, pencils and all sorts of eye candy for little kids.  Ohh how I longed for the day I could get a prize.

One day in early spring my time had come.  I studied very hard and got the 100% needed.  On Friday while all the other kids were taking the test again I got to go through the box.  I wanted the perfect item so I searched and searched feeling like Indiana Jones looking for the lost ark never giving up even in the face of great peril.  Finally I found that perfect item.  A Charms Blow Pop, watermelon flavor.

I carefully took my prize and hid it in my desk.  All day long I remember peaking at it and thinking how sweet it was going to taste on my way home.  I could hardly wait for the end of school that Friday. 

When the bell rang I ran across the playground, which had to be 100 yards more or less, but felt like 3 miles.  Arriving at the Methodist Church across the street I could now open my prize and partake of it.  I began sucking on the pop dreaming about the gum that waited in the middle.  Wanting to savior every last grain of sugary goodness I did not take a bite. 
Half way to my house my neighbor Elvis asked if he could have a bite.  WHAT?  I thought are you crazy, my prized sucker, and you want a bite.  I told him no.  Elvis being a year or two older than me and a much bigger kid proceeded to manipulate and make fun of me then he pulled the sucker out of my mouth and threw it onto the asphalt shattering it to pieces. 

A fight ensued and I got my lunch handed to me until a women came out and broke it up and took me home safely.  My prize was gone and irreplaceable.  Elvis was forced, by his mom, to come over and apologize and even replace my sucker but none of that mattered.  My sucker was gone and could not be fixed.  I felt a hole grow inside of me.  I was unable to forgive my friend and neighbor…I was broken.

The good news is that we are all broken in one way or another but it is in that brokenness that God reaches out to us and puts us back together.  He loves us, seeks us, and has made us to love him.  We chose to turn from this love and from following him, and from having a relationship but he never turns from us.  He just sweeps up the pieces and makes us whole again.  The story of God’s creation is one about me…about you…about all of us and how, He our Father, seeks out our broken, shattered lives and says it is alright, you can be whole again.  

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Just a Little Truth

Do you find yourself thinking in absolutes?  I tend to think in absolutes.  Hot is hot and cold is cold (truthfully it is the absence of hot).  My truck is silver…I wish it was blue but it is silver.  I either like food or I don’t, I do a good job or a bad job, I win or I loose.  I think this is a perfectly natural reaction to the world around us but we need to have more discernment when dealing with others.
In 1 John 2 we are warned about watching out for the antichrist.  The Scripture says,
“18Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us…. 22Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.”
In my absolute mind I think if God as all good and no evil then Satan as all evil and not good…Not true.  Satan is so smart and so good at his work, he can take a big fat lie and sprinkle it with truth to make it go down easier.  It’s like buying oatmeal cookies over chocolate chip.  We think the healthiness of the oats will somehow over compensate for the sugar, fat, and the fact that I ate the whole bag.  Another way of looking at it is, sea water is water but I cannot drink it and hope to live long.  There is some truth to this statement therefore; the statement must be true, is false.
We as the followers of Christ need to be careful and discern what others are saying about Christ.  We need to be mindful about what is good and what is  not good.  If something is all good then it is of God but what is partially good may be from Satan.  The best test we have is to look at the nature of God.  We need to ask ourselves, does what or who we are dealing with follow the nature of God.  If it does not at some point you may want to be weary and ask more questions.  Always praying that God will lead you and his ways be yours, not yours be his.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

It’s All About the Candy

Yesterday my household was preparing for the Halloween Hunt we realized we were short a few items.  So off I ran to the store with Remington, my oldest, and we began the frantic search for batteries, tape and some last minute items we didn't even know we needed.  While searching the store Remington asked me what is Halloween all about?  It took me back for a second and I began to try to explain to him what it is all about. 
I told him how in some countries it is referred to as The Day of the Dead and it is to mourn the loss of loved ones.  While others use it as a day to worship the dead and practice evil, and yet others look at it as a day of tricks and practical jokes.  I told him some cultures used it as kind of a celebration of the coming winter and the passing of summer, a harvest festival if you will.  Then he asked why do we celebrate it?....The candy son, the candy….
It is all about the candy.  We look at life trying to find the candy.  We want only the sweets in life and it shows.  We have diet soda, diet candy, and zero calories cool aid drinks.  We are sold on the idea that something will make us feel good, enjoy life, taste good, have more fun for longer, and satisfy our desire to be pleased.  It’s all about the candy for us.
That is one of the lies that Satan is selling us.  It is all about the candy.  It is not.  While that taste good Jesus tells us the candy is temporary.  It is not about the candy but about the savior.  Does that mean I can’t have the candy?  No the candy is not the problem it is when we put it above Jesus that it becomes the problem.  It is ok to have some of the good stuff in life as long as it is not taking away from the important part of life…our relationship with God.  When it is ALL about the Candy we have failed. 
What is the Candy in your life that is getting in the way of your relationship?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

God Can Use Us

God can use us at any age, if we are willing to serve.

My Grandmother (GG as we call her) is 95 years young.  She struggles to get around but does with the aid of a walker.  The Doctors have told her "I have people in better shape then you and they are confined to a wheel chair."  She continues on preserving, ever an example of Gods Love to the rest of us.  While she may not be the most energetic of evangelist she is a deep encouragement to me and those around her.

My Son Remington is 8 years old.  He is all too willing to share the Love of God with anyone, in particular with strangers, that he meets.  He will drop everything to share Jesus with someone and to tell them what he has done with Jesus today.  The other day I was drawing a sign that said Jesus.  Remington asked if I would draw a sign for him.  I asked "do you want it to say Jesus or Remington?"  He replied "no I want it to say 'Faith'."  Remington is the evangelist GG encourages to grow.

There is no age limit for Gods workers.  No floor or ceiling on age just a heart willing to serve.  If God is our happiness why do we spend 80% of our lives focused on other things and only when we are very young and very old do we focus on Him?  I think it is because 80% of the time we think we have life figured out and 20% we know we don't.