Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Do you want to see God's glory?

Two days ago I was blessed to be out walking early so that I could see the sunrise. It was spectacular and the color and drama lasted for a long time. All of a sudden it dawned on me that I was seeing the glory of God.

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Psalms 19:1

Have you ever thought of that?

Much of the time I think we imagine God's glory as some "spiritual" thing we hope would fall around us; Some kind of experience that would feel a certain way or do something special.

Well that sunrise did something special for me. I thought of how magnificent God is and I was filled with praise.

The sunrise, sunset, stars and sky are so easy to take for granted. Not anymore for me!

Philip

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Do you believe in redemption?

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If anyone ever qualified for the death penalty it would be James Holmes - the Aurora theater shooter/murderer.

I do believe in the death penalty. My only qualification is that our present justice system is not always righteous. There are times when prosecutors lie, withhold evidence or distort evidence. So it is possible that an innocent person could be convicted. Not so in the case of James Holmes.

What do I feel in my heart? Am I angry and resentful that he will not be put to death? Never mind the fact that if he had been given the death penalty, the appeals would go on for another ten or twenty years. That aside, what do I feel?

Is James Holmes beyond redemption? Oh, another thing: let's get rid of the mental illness issue. Have we forgotten about demon possession? That is Holmes real problem. And that is not an excuse for his behavior but something that should move us to compassion.

How does someone get demon possessed? Does it just happen all of a sudden through no fault of their own? I don't think so. I think it is the progression of sin acted upon and practiced. Choices are made; anger, hate and resentment build and in a subtle or dramatic way an invitation is given.

Can you, have you prayed for James Holmes? Wouldn't it be wonderful for the sin in his life to be untangled and his life and soul to be redeemed?

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Would you like this to be true in your life?


"If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us—sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them."

These promises are made after Step 9 in a Twelve-step program. I have found it to be one of the most rigorous and demanding programs of Christian discipleship. I have learned and done things that have transformed my life; things that were never asked of me in the 40 years of being a Christian.

If you would like this to be true in your life I would be glad to help you start the journey.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Compulsion

Compulsion: an irrational motive for performing trivial or repetitive actions against your will.

I don't think any of us are completely free of compulsive behavior or behaviors. The first step to healing is recognizing and acknowledging these things that we are pretty much blind to.

Little clues can lead us towards honest introspection. Greater benefit comes when we open up to a trusted person, one who recognizes their own brokenness (a wounded healer). Optimal is when the person has recovered from the same compulsion.

Fear paralyzes us. We mistakenly think no one else would understand let alone share our defects of character. Shame from past bad experiences of opening up to a dangerous person can also make it more difficult.

Look for someone with a limp.

"Never trust a man who has not had a bone-jarring encounter with his own depravity."
~Nate Larkin

Friday, March 20, 2015

Consolation


Consolation: a source of comfort to somebody who is upset or disappointed. Something that makes a person feel less sadness or disappointment.

Where do you go for consolation? The good Christian answer is to God. A good SECOND choice is to caring people.

Reality is much different. How about comfort foods? They don't have that name in a vacuum. Alcohol and drugs (legal or illegal) are high on the list. Television is a good opiate. Illicit sex promises great relief. Many other diversions promise help: hobbies and crafts, too much work, gambling, church activities, buying something. Escape.

Where do you run when you are in pain? Where do you go when you are angry? When you face gigantic disappointment, what brings relief?

Honest answers can help us see where our addictions lie. And by lie, I mean where they are and the falsehoods they promise.

Do you find yourself bristling at that word - addiction? Is it a word you refuse to link to yourself? Well, how about habit, compulsion, obsession or craving? Or would you rather believe that none of these words describe you? Then how about denial?

Next time you are upset, disappointed, sad or angry make a note of where your mind and body want to go or look back and admit where you ended up. That recognition can go a long way in helping us reject the false and connect with God in a way that brings true consolation and doesn't bring more pain or regret.

There is no good thing aside from Jesus that sin can't twist into a pair of handcuffs.  (John J. Thompson)

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

A Day at the Loft

It was many years ago that a particular job was scheduled. The afternoon came and I drove around the building many times looking for an available place to park. It was on the edge of downtown, one of those areas where parking is almost non-existent. Finally, I had enough. I called the customer and left a message on his voicemail. A little while later he is leaving multiple messages for me, telling me how he is going to sue me for not doing his work. I realized something quickly - this is not the kind of person I would ever want to work for; completely unreasonable and acting as if he did not know I would have a hard time parking. All he cared about is that he had "cleared his schedule" for this afternoon. I placed a memo in my mind - avoid downtown work in the future. I was also a little scared- what if he did sue me? And the other feelings: I was angry that he was treating me this way and I felt upside down on the inside.

So a week ago I get a call. The lady mentions various things to do at her downtown loft. She assured me parking would be available in the early morning. As the week went on, that job was on my mind a lot. What if I have to go get supplies? Will I find a parking spot when I get back?

The night before was the worst. It seemed I thought about it all night. My best catastrophic thinking kicked in. I decide if I get there and can't find parking then I will just call and say I can't do it. But I didn't want that because then I would have a day without work. I struggled to give it over to God. I had a hard time trusting that it would work out. I doubted that he would really care for me in this situation.

So I show up in the morning and find a place right in front of the building. The meter is for 2 hours. I wonder if I will get a ticket if I stay longer than that even if I put in more money.

The first job is to pull out one wall oven and put in a new one. The old comes out easy. I transfer the plug to the new one and when we slide it in, we find out it is configured different and won't fit. So out it comes and the old goes back in until they can get an electrician to reconfigure the electrical. Thankfully, they were very accepting of the situation.

I get the rest of the list: a showerhead, three overhead pendant lights, two lavatory faucets and a kitchen faucet. The showerhead and lights go in easy. Now comes the unpredictable. Amazingly, it seems I will have all the supplies I need for the faucets. The first lavatory faucet comes out fairly easy and the new one is soon in place. Next is the drain popup. Here is where the fight begins. It's not going to go easily. Soon I am cutting away the corroded locknut with a small hacksaw. The space is so tiny I only have a few inches to work. It probably took a half-hour to cut through the nut. Finally the old is out and the new in. Thanks to an imperfect hole where the part attaches to the sink, normal procedures don't apply. I have to use some silicone sealer to keep it from leaking. The second sink went better.

I move on to the kitchen. To get to the underside of the faucet and valves I have to remove the disposal. I then find out the valve does not shut off completely. The question is raised if they have a main shut-off for their unit. Phone calls are made and we look around to see if we can find one. After a search, valves are found behind the washer. The water is now off. As I look at the underside of the faucet, I see that the nut is covered with rust. In my mind, another battle begins to form. This one will not be easy. The space I had on the other sink looks huge compared this one. There will be no room to saw it off. I may be able to use a long drill bit to weaken the nut. I may have to cut the faucet apart from the top. So here it goes: I lift my basin wrench up through the small area, get it wrapped around the nut and amazingly it moves. The worst didn't happen. It comes off and soon I have the new one in its place. But the story is not over. The factory installed water supply line is too short on one side. I am going to need a special adapter. Here comes the dreaded trip to the hardware store and the lost parking space - and I was so close to being done.

A thought comes to mind. I get a King Soopers bag, put it over the meter and write NO PARKING on it. Off I go and when I get back, it is still there. This is in a spot where cars cruise the block constantly looking for parking. Twenty minutes later the job is all done.

So as I look back I see so many God things in this day. I had the right tools, almost all of the parts I needed, parking worked out, and I had the ability I needed to do the work. So many gifts from God. Most of all, the customers were so happy to get things done.

The problem is I want to feel in control. I don't want things to be unpredictable. I want to see how things will go before I start. I don't want to look foolish before people if I feel I have failed.

I see that sometimes my mind is my worst enemy. It gets me to spend so much time worrying when I should be trusting. Every day is an opportunity to see how much God cares for me. It's a lesson I seem to need to learn over and over. The evidence says I can count on God, my mind says maybe not this time.

In the future, I will probably avoid Downtown but hopefully it won't be because of fear.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Are you Conformed or Transformed?

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Right after the Civil War, a host of people became teachers because they thought it was an easy way of making a living. In his autobiography Up From Slavery, Booker T. Washington tells about such a fellow. This man went from village to village teaching a little and receiving pay for it. In one town, the people asked whether he taught that the earth is round or flat. The man replied that he was prepared to teach that the earth was either flat or round, depending on the preference of the majority of his patrons. (God's Man: A Daily Devotional Guide to Christlike Character)

At a law firm that represented one side of labor disputes, they were looking for lawyers to join the firm. The focus was on law students who had not yet chosen a side. What I took from that was the owners were not looking for people with internal beliefs and convictions but for someone who for a job will commit to a set of beliefs.

Do our beliefs and convictions guide our behavior or do the situations of life determine our beliefs? From what I see, many Christians do the latter. I think this comes from not having a firm, deeply developed foundation of truth from Scripture.

I think a good example is the same-sex marriage issue. Many people, pastors and churches are falling on the wrong side because they are influenced more by society and situations than by what God has said. The same could be said for abortion, divorce, fornication ,debt, etc.

The solution isn't another Bible study but lifetime Bible immersion; It doesn't come easy. Bible college or seminary don't help much either. Most of the time is spent studying about the Bible and learning beliefs and doctrine - usually the side or opinion of the teacher or institution.

Think about and do this:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:2 (ESV)

Don't become so well- adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well- formed maturity in you.
Romans 12:2 (The Message)

Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].
Romans 12:2 (Amplified)

Thursday, February 5, 2015

A Prayer for Bringing Hurting Friends to the Throne of Grace

Jan 27, 2015 | Scotty Smith

         Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.  Heb. 4:15-16 (NIV)

     Dear Lord Jesus, with joy and confidence we run to the occupied throne of grace today on behalf of many friends. No one understands and empathizes with our weaknesses like you; and no one has the ability to dispense copious amounts of mercy and grace, like you. You are, indeed, a most wonderful, merciful Savior. Hear our cry for our friends.

     We pray for parents nearing the end of their strength, resources, and hope. Few stories have the power to exhaust our emotions and multiply our heartaches than when our kids choose to live without boundaries or a conscience. Jesus, grant great mercy and sufficient grace to moms and dads who are living the nightmare of watching their children self-destruct. And Lord of resurrection power, reveal yourself, to our kids who seem allergic to your grace and love.

     We pray for friends who feel helplessly, and frustratingly, distant from you, Jesus—those who still affirm the gospel with their lips, but whose hearts are disconnected from the wonders of your love. Whatever the genesis of the weariness and weakness, come close Jesus. Renew, restore, and refresh our friends, we pray; and show us how to stay present in their lives as a source of patient encouragement and kindness.

     Lastly, Jesus, we pray for ourselves. You know where we struggle the most and trust you the least; you know our most difficult relationships, persistent fears, and nagging weaknesses. Grant us the mercy and grace we need today, for healing and freedom. So very Amen we pray, in your loving and strong name. 

From: http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/scottysmith

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The First Resolution

The first resolution: But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  Matthew 6:33

Today the resolutions begin; most will be soon forgotten, many are unimportant. May I suggest this one as all important. Do it DAILY and the rest will fall into place.

First pay attention to me, and then relax. Now you can take it easy-- you're in good hands.
Proverbs 1:33 (The Message)

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