A Christmas Carol

One of my all time favorite stories is A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I was given a book last year entitled Inventing Scrooge, an historical account of the purpose and process  Dickens used in writing his timeless classic.  His motivation was to bring attention to the neglected poor in England, of the government’s failed policies to effectively deal with the crisis of poverty, lack of education, coupled with the fraudulent practices of the poor houses and the cold hearted greed of the industrialists, many of whom were members of parliament at the time.

   It is hard to image the social conditions of the day, except as we see them portrayed in many plays and movies.  Still, with the exception of the Salvation Army and other evangelicals, ministry to the poor and destitute due to spiritual complacency dominated England.

   Dickens was raised in a home that inspired the Cratchit family. His father was loving, a hard worker, but a poor financial manager and often squandered resources to a point in which the family was relegated to a poor house for a time.  Through these experiences, Dickens knew first-hand the trials of destitution.  Even in his success as a writer affording financial prosperity, he never forgot where he came from and those who were still locked in destitution’s grip.

   Dickens tried to affect politics through speeches and essays, but to little affect until one day he happened upon the idea of writing a short story that would reveal root of the problem. He would use the characters in his story to reveal the nature of both good and evil, and of the possibility of true change in a person’s heart and how that could turn the tide for a whole nation, one family at a time. He would leverage the traditional affections of people during Christmas by using the holiday as the stage for the story. 

   The success of the book goes without saying. The variations of the story in plays and movies continue to this day.  It is a story of redemption, of second chances. May we remember that the original plot was given through Jesus Christ and the gospel.  He is the real power in lasting change.

Celebration of Christmas...is there a right way?

 I have been asked on occasion to give my opinion on the best way to celebrate Christmas.  Certainly there is no shortage of ideas on radio, TV, and family traditions.  What would we do without Pinterest?  Is there really a better way?  Does the Bible give us instruction on how to celebrate Christmas?  The answer may surprise you. 

   The Bible does in fact tell us how to celebrate Christmas.  It also tells us how to celebrate Easter, Thanksgiving, July 4th, Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, and Labor Day.  It tells us how to properly observe President’s Day as well as Martin Luther King Day.

   What?  You did not know it was all in there?  1 Corinthians 10:31 reads; “Whether, then you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”  There is the basis for celebration, and the purpose for it, the glory of God.  If you celebrate anything, the way in which you celebrate must be governed by one single guideline, does God receive the glory He deserves? 

   God is certainly not against celebration.  He commanded the Israelites to have great feasts and celebrations.  The Bible says there is great celebration in heaven each time a person comes to believe and follows Jesus.  The only rule is that it brings Him glory.  And why should that be?  Well, He does deserve it, but more fundamentally, everything finds its purpose and joy in His glory.  When HE is glorified, the result is always joy and blessing for all His people.

   So whatever you do or don’t do, be guided by this great truth and let the celebration begin.

I'm Fighting Back!

   Here we go again, it’s Christmas, the angels are singing, and I know the reason, the Savior is born!

   I’m going to fight back harder this year.  I’m going to fight back against the elimination of Jesus and God during this season.  There wouldn’t even be a season with all the commercial hype of the fact of Jesus being born had not occurred.  The world is doing all it can to drown out the message, but I’m not going to let it. 

   I’m fighting back with Chris Tomlin, Andrew Peterson, David Crowder and others who have written wonderful songs, or re-arranged some old classics.  I’m fighting back with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, making melody in my car (and heart) to the Lord.  I’m cranking up the spiritual songs and turning off the one that don’t proclaim Jesus as Lord, the God-man come to earth to bring light and salvation to all who will hear and heed the call of God.

   I’m stoked!  Not for presents or for sweets, not even for football.  I’m stoked to hear again and proclaim even louder that Jesus is the reason for the season for not only the season, but for everything.

Colossians 1:15-20

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. 19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

  

   Will you join me this year in telling the people in our lives of Jesus.  They will listen if you ask them to. 

Anything to win....?

A couple of years ago we had a missionary couple visit our church, the Long’s, who serve in West Africa.  On Saturday, Patty and I took them to Ritter Island to kayak in the scenic Snake river Canyon with the amazing spring waters.

   The Long’s have two children, a boy, who was four at the time and a girl, age seven.  Mark had Anna the seven year old in his kayak and I had Simon in mine.  We started to paddle and Mark and I began to have a little fun racing each other.  We alternated the lead with each other, prompting the children’s natural rivalry in shouting for us to paddle harder to get the lead.

   Toward the end of our excursion, Mark and Anna paddled to the lead and got to the pull out just ahead of us.  Simon was upset because his sister’s kayak arrived first and her taunt of winning the race only made Simon angrier.  I said to Simon, “Listen, we really won because Jesus said, “The first shall be last and the last shall be first.”  I asked Simon to quote the verse several times so that he could tell that to Anna whenever she might taunt him.  He learned to say it accurately.  But the taunting finally got to him and he said vehemently, “I don’t want to do it Jesus’ way!” 

   We all laughed, and yet our hearts were also smitten by the reality that sometimes we don’t want to do it Jesus’ way.  There are times that what we want collides with God’s will and we don’t want to be last.  We have to settle this issue once and for all, or we will be taunted by our spiritual enemies relentlessly.  Only when we surrender to our Lord in totality will we be able to let our rivals go and be content in the promises of God.

Party Invitations - Joyful or Stressful?

  When was the last time you were invited to a party?  Was it an exciting feeling to receive the invitation, or was it, “Oh no, another thing to do.”

   Schedules are so full these days that what was once a joyful thing to be included in an invitation is now viewed as an intrusion into our leisure time, or what’s left of it.  But this essay really isn’t about time constraints or parties. 

   I want to talk about how people might come to experience our church family.  I think that our services are celebrations.  We celebrate the resurrection, eternal life, God’s forgiveness and fellowship with Him and with one another.  I watch as our family is genuinely happy to see each other, and I see people inspired in their collective faith each week.  I see us praying one for another, and I wonder if we ever invite others to join in the party.  Do we worry their schedules are too full?  Are we worried they may reject us out of hand if we bring up something about religion.  God knows we don’t want to jeopardize a friendship over something so personal.

   Why not just invite?  Why not tell them how this fellowship is impacting your life for good?  If they have a good, life teaching church already, bless them – (but don’t accept their invitation!)  Seriously, people are really not against the truth if someone has excitement over what it is doing in their own life or family.  The worst that can happen is a response that says, “ I’m not ready or I’m to busy.”  but we can keep asking and pray for them.

Celebration of Our Veteran's

Today is Veteran’s Day, celebrated since 1918 when it was originally called “Armistice Day” when WWI came to an end on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.  The holiday is now 100 years old and is called Veteran’s Day.

 WWI was the “war of all wars,” and was so horrific that the so called civil nations of the world were totally appalled by the tragic loss of life and the terrors of the weapons of mass destruction utilized.  Some people felt that the horrors were so acute that it was believed that hell itself had emerged onto the surface of the earth.

   Veteran’s Day should not be confused with Memorial Day, set aside each year in May to remember those fallen service men who paid the ultimate price for freedom since the Revolutionary War.  Veteran’s Day is the day we celebrate Veterans living who have given sacrificially to serve our country, many having been in and survived harm’s way.  Today, we thank all of you for your sacrifice in serving the call of duty.

   I say sacrifice, rather than service, because this is truly what our service men and women do.  Often these sacrifices are not even shown to or seen by the civilian population.  What many have experienced, especially those who have served in combat, is beyond imagination.  These things can be so traumatizing that it becomes unspeakable to those who have lived through them.  Our prayers are with you, as is a listening ear.

   On this day of acknowledgement, please know that this holiday we stand as a grateful people for you.  Thank you again, for your sacrifice to our nation, and to us your friends and family.

Celebrating Generations

It is always a joy to celebrate the milestones of our succeeding generations. When our children are born, birthdays, significant achievements or experiences are things we love to witness as parents. The same is true for the body of Christ, and for local churches.

Back in 2002 our church had a baby. The Rock Church was launched in Nampa, Idaho under the leadership of Cliff and Wendy Williams. Cliff had served for a decade as both a volunteer and paid youth pastor, and had a vibrant ministry. In 2002, God called him to pastor a church plant, and under the providence of God led him, along with a number of active members of Heritage Alliance to move to this new location and start a church.

The church grew, and was poised for building a building when two difficult events happened. One was Cliff’s sudden diagnosis of ALS, which ultimately took his life. The second was the collapse of the real estate market that left the church is suffocating debt.

In spite of these events, the church continued on and successfully launched a church in Boise, Sojourn Alliance Church under the leadership of Dusty Benner. On November 4, the church will be celebrating the milestone of dedicating their own facility after more that 15 years in rented schools and building.

It is wonderful to see God’s faithfulness to that congregation, and to the people of Nampa by supplying a wonderful family of faith in a growing community with many un-reached people. We give thanks to God for being part of His plan in making disciples of the nations, including our own Judea.

What is heaven like?

 What’s in heaven?  What will it be like?  We are often so pre-occupied with what’s in it for us that we don’t appreciate what’s in it for all.  Let me convey what heaven is from the words of Jonathan Edwards, one of America’s greatest preachers.

   “Heaven is the place alone where our highest end, and highest good is to be obtained.  God has made us for Himself.  “Of Him and through Him, and to Him are all things.”  Therefore, we shall obtain our highest goal when we are brought to God; but that is by being brought to heaven; for that is God’s throne, the place of His special presence.  There is but a very imperfect union with God to be had in this world, a very imperfect knowledge of Him in the midst of much darkness, a very imperfect conformity to God, mingled with abundance of estrangement …but when we get to heaven, (if ever that be) we shall be brought to a perfect union with God, and have more clear views of Him. 

   “God is the highest good of the reasonable creature; and the enjoyment of Him is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied.  To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here.  Fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of earthly friends, are but shadows; the enjoyment of God is the substance.  There are but scattered beams, but God is the sun.  There are but streams, but God is the fountain.  There are but drops, but God is the ocean.” 

   I can only imagine. 

The Ultimate Question

The ultimate question is and shall always be “Why are we here?”  This goes beyond the question “how did we get here?” and to the heart or purpose.  The question applies to cosmology, why the universe is here.  It applies to individuals, why am I here?  It applies to organizations like churches, schools, businesses and the like. The heart of running any organization is its purpose.  Until that is clearly understood, the mechanics or programs do not have the greatest potential for effectiveness.

   So, you may have guessed, I want to bring this back to the church.  Not specifically Heritage Alliance, but to the whole enchilada.  Church with a capital “C.”  Why the Church?  The answers to that question may come with various verbiage, but let me take a stab at it.  The Church exists to be God’s Kingdom on the earth, the vessel through whom God lives His life in this creation through His people.

   God is utterly other, that is, He made everything but He is distinct from everything He made.  But God is a relational God.  Existing in three unique Persons.  He is in constant relationship.  This relationship was what motivated Him to create, therefore, He desired a relational contact with creation, thus He made human beings.   By living with people, He could relate through that medium to all things.  And it was good. 

   Sin ruined the relationship God intended.  He put forth a plan to rescue and restore, which results in the Church, which the New Testament declares is God indwelt persons through Whom God related again to all creation.  For now, our purpose is to spread the message of reconciliation wherever we are.  When the end of this age comes, we will continue to be the medium through whom God will relate to His creation.  We can’t imagine what that will entail.

   

Single Vision

  I lost my reading glasses.  When things are out of focus, even a slight bit, it creates problems.  No matter how young or old, vision is something we might take for granted until our focus makes simple things hard.

   We all should have a single focus.  It should be the classic Sunday School answer:  JESUS!  Yet, how easy it is to lose that.   We can become short-sighted, focusing on ourselves and our problems, wants or needs.  Then there is far-sightedness where we dwell on fears or plans to the extent that we cannot thrive in the moment.

   How does focusing on Jesus really work to help us on the issues?  I’m glad you asked, because it is not a cliché, it is Biblical, spoken by Jesus Himself and the Apostles.

   Jesus said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness and everything else will be added to you.”  (Matthew 6:33)  What is the everything else He was referring to?  Everything.

  Paul said, “Don’t set your mind on the things of earth, but on the things in heaven, where Christ is seated.”  (Colossians 3:4)  Why?  Because that is where we are in reality.  We are already seated there with Him!  So why dwell on temporal stuff? 

   Yes, the things of this earth distract.  There are pains, fears, goals and dreams.  What of those things are actually eternal?  Even our sorrows won’t last forever.

   Next time you have trouble seeing, do something about your focus while you search for your glasses.

Pushing Against The Rock

A man was sleeping one night in his cabin, when suddenly his room filled with light, and the Savior appeared.  The Lord told the man He had work for him to do and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin.

   The Lord explained that the man was to push against the rock with all of his might.

   This the man did, day after day.  For many years he toiled from sun up to sun down.  His shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock, pushing with all of his might.  The joy of loving his Lord began fading away and now each night the man returned to his cabin sore, worn out and feeling that his whole day had been spent in vain.

   Since the man was showing signs of discouragement and loss of focus on the Lord, the adversary began  placing thoughts into the man’s weary, unfocused mind, “you have been pushing against the rock for a long time, and it has not budged.  Why kill yourself, you’re never going to move it.” 

Thus, the man began to believe that the Lord had given him an impossible task, thus setting him up for failure.

   These thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man.  “Why kill myself over this?”  he thought, “I will just put in my time, giving the minimum effort, and that will be good enough.”   And that is what he planned to do, until he decided to make it a matter of prayer and take his troubled thoughts to the Lord. 

   “Lord,” he said, “I have labored long and hard in Your service, putting all my strength to do that which You have asked.  Yet, after all this time, I have not even budged that rock by half a millimeter.  What is wrong?  Why am I failing?”

   The Lord responded compassionately, “My child, when I asked you to serve Me and you accepted, I asked that you love Me with all of your heart, soul and mind and to obey My voice and statues.  I asked you to push against the rock with all your strength. This you have done.  Never once did I mention to you that I expected “you” to move the rock.  You were to love Me and obey without question or doubt.  I asked you to push.  And now you come to Me with your strength spent because you listened to a different voice.  Doubt strips away trust and strength and failure speaks of pride.  Look at yourself.  Your arms are strong and muscled, your back is sinewy and your hands are callused from constant pressure, and your legs have become massive and hard.  Through opposition, you have grown much, and your abilities now surpass that which you use to have.  Yet, you have not moved the rock, but your calling was to be obedient and to push and exercise your faith and trust in MY wisdom.  This you have done, I, My child will now move the rock.  Keep your focus upon Me, not what you have or have not done for Me.  Listen to Me.  Be still and Know that I AM GOD.  Enjoy Me in each moment of your day and rest at night knowing I AM Sovereign and in control.  My ways are righteous, pure, true and for your good.  And remember, just what Jesus Christ pushed through for you.

   At times, when we hear the word of God, we tend to use our intellect to decipher what He wants, when actually what God desires is just simple obedience and faith in Him.  By all means, exercise the faith that moves mountains, but know it is GOD who moves them.

Keeping The Main Thing The Main Thing

Those of you who have been involved with Heritage for many years know that during the 1990’s we were doing many different things in our church with programming.  Our intent was to bring people to faith in Jesus Christ and be bring them into the life of our church family in order to help them grow in faith and in turn, reach out to still more people, keeping this process up until the coming of Jesus.

   Today, we are not promoting as many new innovations.  In fact, as I often come across the latest and greatest ideas, there really has not been anything new for at least a decade.  One exception might be the implementation of technology, but in truth, most of that is more distraction than attraction.   What are we to do?

   Let me say that we all need, especially me, to keep the main thing the main thing.  Now, in any person or group, or corporation, this is the fundamental truth – keep the main thing the main thing.  The harder question is, just exactly what is the main thing?

   Jesus answered that question right smack in the middle of His longest recorded sermon, the Sermon on the Mount.  The whole of His sermon is summarized in the middle, bookended by beatitudes on one side and specific behaviors and practices on the other.  At the heart, these words:  “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and everything else will fall into place exactly as it should.”  Matthew 6:33

   What is God’s Kingdom and righteousness?  Read chapters 5 – 7.  This is the main thing:  God and His righteousness in us expressed through us.  Everything else “will be added.”  For you, for me, for all of us.

What is Labor Day?

   Labor Day is a U.S holiday held the first Monday in September.  Unlike most U.S. holidays, it is a strange celebration without rituals, except for BBQ’s and some shopping.  For most people it simply marks the last weekend of summer and the start of school.  But the holiday founders envisioned something very different from what it has become.

   Originally the day established in the 1880’s in New York City, was to unify workers and seek to reduce work time.  There was no support from the government to recognize a holiday so workers staged a one day strike, marched in a parade and then gathered to eat and drink in a grand picnic.  Thus Labor Day came about because workers were protesting 60-60 hour work weeks.  The Labor unions were seeking an eight hour work day and more days off.  The effect worked, so now, most jobs are forty hours a week with most working five days a week.

   Surprising, many politicians and business owners were in favor so that workers and families would have more time to spend their wages on travel and entertainment.  But the proclamation as a national holiday was years off and even then it did not mandate business or factories to shut down or give the day off, especially with pay.  It is still voluntary, although most government agencies do follow that practice.

   Isn’t it interesting that God thought of this far sooner than America.  In fact, God instituted the Sabbath Day at creation and expected mankind to find a time of re-centering, re-focusing and recreation every seven days.

   Please use this Labor Day weekend to remember that God is vitally interested in your well being, and so invested that you can actually trust Him, relax, and thank Him for His glorious provisions all through your life

Counting the Cost

 Nip Ripkin writes a personal story about time he and his family spent in Africa.

     “It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to watch, especially early in our overseas career.  Our entire family was sick, we all had malaria. 

We were being treated in a hospital miles from our mission station.  This was the fifth time that our sons had fallen sick with this disease, and the tenth time for my wife and I.  In this little concrete block hospital room the quinine IV’s were inserted and we waited 24 hours for the drip to be complete.”

   “We spent the next two weeks recovering at a friend’s home before making the long trip back to our service location.  Ten days before arriving home, our oldest son had malaria.”

   “This was no academic exercise for us.  We have salvation because Almighty God sent His Son.  We can never escape the fact that obedience to God’s will affects both individuals and entire families.”

   “We can invite our Muslim friends and children to come to Jesus only when we too have been willing for our family members to pay the price for following Jesus.  Our invitation to others is valid only if we too are willing to enter into shared suffering.”

   What risks are we willing to take in order to further the Kingdom of God?  What kind of “life” do we expect in the Christian life as opposed to the reality of what the Bible says will happen to His devoted ones?  We must count the cost or perhaps lay aside our profession if we refuse to accept the cost.

The World seems to be on fire!

   Fires have been burning throughout the world, and the news of loss of life that continues to make the news, is so tragic.  These natural disasters are frightening and make us realize how vulnerable we are in this life.  One thing that continues to typify these stories along with so many others, is the constant desire of man to find someone or something to blame.  I suppose the hope is that if we can identify the cause, maybe we can get a solution and prevent such things in the future.

   It is part of the nature of people to control.  Controlling people, the environment, our loved ones, gives the illusion of security and happiness.  Control is one thing however, that we really have so little of.  The one thing that people seem to have no control over is themselves, yet, it is the one thing that God, through His Holy Spirit, says the believer actually can achieve – self-control.

See Galatians 5:22-23

   Control over nature, people, the environment, or any other thing is an illusion that drives people to utter nonsense.  God Himself exercises control over no one, except to limit the forces of evil for the sake of preserving the world long enough for people to find life.  Yet, we see in so many ways how even that restraint is growing fainter as mankind continues to rebel against God.

   I deeply grieve over the destruction we’ve seen in nature and human cruelty.  But before I jump on some bandwagon of blame, I must first live in the promises and provisions of God for myself.  Ironically, the more I do so, the more compassion I feel for those who are out of control. 

God revealed in the beauty around us....

 Last week Patty and I spent a wonderful day up in the Stanley Basin just east of the Sawtooth Mountains.  We took our kayaks up to Pettit Lake and enjoyed a wonderful afternoon soaking in sun and sights and were once again struck by the beauty that we call Idaho.

   Though Pettit Lake is not overwhelmingly large, it still brought wonder in its clear waters nestled in pines and granite peaks.  I don’t know how deep it is, is suspect shallow by comparison to the lakes in north Idaho, but deep enough to make it impossible to see the bottom when far enough away from the shoreline.  Though the water was clear as crystal, the depth made the bottom a mystery from our surface point of view.  We could see ten to fifteen feet down, but beyond that, light could not penetrate and return a visual for us.  What was down there was only a guess.

   In such a finite place as that was, there was a riveting sense of the depths of God.  Some places were fraught with color, clarity and cleanness.  Otherwise, out of view to our perceptions were things unknown. 

   God is fiercely willing to reveal Himself to us, but we must gaze and take in what we can, while we can.  Never once did the question, “Why is all this here?”  enter my mind.  It is here, and all I could do was appreciate it and enjoy it.

   So it is with God Himself.  It is not a question of does He exist, but rather, the simplicity of knowing He does and to enter into the experience.  He certainly is far more than an alpine lake, but He can be believed just as easily as soaking in that place.  And with far more to reveal along the way.

CAMPING SEASON IS UPON US

Patty and I have recently acquired a camp trailer, our first in 40 years of marriage. We have only been able to use it once so far, but we are certainly thankful and blessed to have such a wonderful provision for our lives.

Several years ago our daughter lamented that she was a deprived child. We asked why and she said, "We never got to go camping when I was growing up."  She was right.  With Patty working Monday through Friday, and my responsibilities on Sundays, we never had the time to take off and go on weekends.  When we vacationed, we usually spent time with friends or family due to limited time off.  This isn't to complain, just the reality of our lifestyle. (She did marry a camper, and she has since had some of the romance wear off due to tent camping and mosquitos in Minnesota!)

I heard Gary Smalley, a family specialist say that the one thing that bonds families together most is camping.  He said it was due to the fact that usually camping trips have issues of bad weather, break-downs, various unforeseen problems that occur, but often when people experience crisis together they bond deeper.  I suppose that is true.

I write this to encourage all who are reading to definitely take time to experience the great outdoors, to savor the creation of God.  I also admonish some to be mindful of commitments to your local church when you make plans.  And for some people like myself, learn to have some fun without feeling guilty. I confess that in my earlier days I felt like I had to prove myself to everyone else, and I couldn't afford to let people think I was goofing off.  The truth is, rest, fun and relaxation are spiritual pursuits that should be experienced in order to keep our minds and hearts rested and eager to serve the Lord.  After all, it was God who made Sabbath rest for us.

So in this time of year with long days and warm weather, have a great time. Keep your heart fresh in love for Christ, and be renewed in the blessings of God.

Excitement One Can't Contain!

   Have you ever been so excited about something that you simply had to tell someone as soon as you could?  News or an experience that you can’t contain for the feeling bursting inside you?  A young person who has just given or received a marriage proposal might be an example, or buying your first home, you want people to share in your excitement of this new aspect in your life.

   Now you are expecting me to chide you if you are not sharing that same excitement regarding Jesus.  You may think I’m going to tell you that if you aren’t exploding at the seams of finding ways to talk about Christ to others, that there is something wrong.  You may believe I’m going to try to guilt you into witnessing.  Well, I’m not going to do that.

   Like the big news events in our lives, over time, the great emotional connections even out into normal reality.  We would get tired of someone who went around telling people they bought a house if they had been living there for five years already.

    So what’s my point?  Simply this, if you are going to maintain the joy of your relationship with Christ, you will need to continue sharing your faith intentionally over and over again.  You will need to overcome the natural hesitations and apprehensions that attend purposeful witness, step out, and do it.  What happens is transformative.  The Holy Spirit, Who never tires of telling us and others of the wonderful Lord Jesus, will fill you as your intentional witness is given.  Because, unlike a house or a proposal, a relationship with Jesus is eternal.  The Eternal Spirit pours out into us with love, compassion and truth that renews the excitement each time we press through to share the gospel.  That’s the difference. 

    It’s not a matter of feeling excited and then sharing, but rather it is the joy that comes when we bear witness of Christ.  Tell of Him this week.

Women of God

Happy Mother’s Day!

   Ladies, are you aware that you are significantly made by God as females to reveal attributes of God that are not prevalent in male?  In other words, God is often referred to in a masculine gender, and that is how the Father is revealed to us, as well as the Son.  But the feminine representation of God’s personality is reflected in the feminine gender of humanity.  God created man in His own image, male and female He created them.  Together, the masculine/feminine attributes of God’s character are to be demonstrated. 

     Sin has so deranged and deformed this truth.  Today, male and female are blurred to such an extent, that neither can thrive in themselves without being ridiculed.  This is the work of darkness, so marring the human personhood to tarnish or disguise the greatness of God and His crowning creation.  Satan is jealous and hateful, and seeks to destroy us from our core identity as male and female.  When these two realities are so distorted, it becomes increasingly difficult to understand God or relate to Him.

    But Mother’s Day can give a glimpse again.  Moms are thoughtful, loving, nurturing, understanding, fiercely devoted and courageous to defend their children.  Today, may we see God in a similar vein.  If God is for us, then who can stand against us?

Life...

   Life has many challenges, ups and downs and highs and lows.  What is interesting is that while most people would say they would prefer to have a more steady, uneventful life, the fact is most people do not.  That is why we buy things, like motorcycles, campers, and spending money on entertainment.  For the desperate, there is the thrill seeking of extreme sports, or the poor choice of recreational drugs.  In short, people do not like boredom or emptiness. 

   It seems that Moses understood this in writing Psalm 90.  He grew up in the excitement and education of the palace in Egypt.  After his hot temper got him, he spent 40 years tending sheep in the wilderness of Midian.   I think he grew so accustom to the monotony, that when God called him to return to Egypt, he was quite happy to be left alone.

   When Moses finally accepted the call, he saw the amazing works of God, and he saw the disparity of people and was regulated to wander with people more stubborn and wicked than sheep.  Yet, as he reviewed his life, perhaps now in his 90’s or even older, he saw the brevity of life, the futility of it and came to much the same conclusion as the preacher of Ecclesiastes, there is much vanity, much waste, such sorrow mixed with occasional joys.  In all of it, the one and only thing that mattered through it all, is the meaning only God can give.  We have short lives.  Death is certain.  How our lives matter is only as we give ourselves into the very hands of the Creator.

   Read Psalm 90.