Others Doubted Jesus 6-13-22

I tend to be fairly optimistic, but even an optimist can have doubts. I know we are supposed to plant potatoes on Good Friday but it was really cold and wet earlier this spring so we planted them a week later than that. The soil conditions were not good and I began to wonder if they would grow. In spite of my optimism, I had doubts about the survival of the potatoes. Eventually they began to grow.

As I think about my Good Friday potato doubts, I think of someone who had doubts thousands of years ago during that same time of year. Mary Magdalene knew that Jesus Christ had died. She went to the tomb with spices thinking he was still dead. When she found the tomb empty, she thought that someone had stolen the body. Even after angels told her that he had risen from the dead, she still did not believe.

Her doubts were so strong she was crying. John 20:11 says, “But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb;” (NASB). Although she did not believe Jesus was alive, she still loved him enough to cry over his missing body. Further she loved him enough to even show up with the spices.

Mary Magdalene's doubts are real but her doubts do not stop her from loving and serving Jesus Christ. She is a lot like many people today. They love Jesus and want to serve him but still have some lingering doubts about who he is and what he actually did. They are kind of like the man who wanted Jesus to help his son and Jesus told him that all things are possible to him who believes. The man then gave an honest answer, "I do believe; help my unbelief." (Mark 9:24b NASB)

The man was honest in expressing his doubts, yet he had a desire to believe. Jesus then showed grace and mercy and healed the man's son. This is a reminder that we do not have to get rid of every doubt for Jesus to help us.

Mary Magdalene found that out as well. As she is weeping at the tomb, Jesus appears to her and her doubts are able to leave her. “Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, "Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away. Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, "Rabboni!" (which means, Teacher).” (John 20:15-16 NASB)

As Mary loved and served Jesus in spite of her doubts, he is able to take all the doubt away as he reveals himself to her. She then goes and tells others "I have seen the Lord." (from John 20:18).

Mary Magdalene provides a great lesson to all of us. If we have doubts we should not let those doubts keep us from serving and loving Jesus. As a youngster I remember having doubts. I however did not let those doubts keep me from my savior. I continued to love him and serve him. I drew close to him and he drew close to me. He continued to reveal himself to me through his word. As I studied the Bible and saw the consistency of God's message and that there were no real contradictions, my doubts became less and less. As I saw God continuing to provide so much peace and so many blessings in my life- even in the midst of life's challenges- my confidence grew.

I can say that Jesus has revealed himself to me and that I no longer have doubts. If you are like Mary Magdalene outside the tomb- if you are having doubts about who Jesus really is- love him and serve him anyway and let him reveal himself to you like he did to Mary and like he did to me. 

What is a Good Investment? 5-30-22

I have been hearing advertisements for purchasing gold on the radio. I have no use for gold, so I did not pay much attention to those adds. When a relative suggested that gold might be a good investment to protect against inflation, I said that I would rather buy welding rods than gold because I could use the welding rods to make something Since I was not a jeweler, gold would be worthless to me. On the other hand, I enjoy welding. Now with all the price increases I am thankful that I did actually buy a large box of welding rods over a year ago.

I did however become curious. What if I had bought gold instead of welding rods last year. I looked it up and I would have actually lost money buying gold. I did however discover that if I had bought gold 15 years ago, it would have increased in value by about 118%.

If I had purchased corn 2 years ago, the increase would have been even better than the return on 15 year gold. The problem is that other than the little bit we use for feeding chickens our family does not have use for a lot of corn either unless it is sweet corn in a can. I want to invest in what we can actually use.

As I was studying the book of Proverbs for our weekly Bible study at church, I realized that I am not the only one that sees limited value in gold. Much of Proverbs was written by King Solomon who chose wisdom over riches. In chapter 8 we are told what wisdom would say if wisdom were to speak and vs 18 & 19 show us how valuable wisdom really is. Wisdom says, "Riches and honor are with me, Enduring wealth and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, even pure gold, And my yield than choicest silver.” (Proverbs 8:18-19 NASB)

The fruit of wisdom is better than silver and gold. But notice what else comes with wisdom- honor and righteousness. In verses 10 & 11 wisdom says, "Take my instruction, and not silver, And knowledge rather than choicest gold. For wisdom is better than jewels; And all desirable things can not compare with her.” (NASB)

Wisdom that leads to honor and righteousness is the wisdom from God. This is in contrast to the wisdom of this world. 1Corinthinans 3:19 says, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, "He is THE ONE WHO CATCHES THE WISE IN THEIR CRAFTINESS";

(NASB). Some people think they are smart in getting away with sin, but this is a reminder that God knows what is happening. It is kind of like the warning of Numbers 32:23 which says, “and be sure your sin will find you out.”

When wisdom is rejected and sin is found out, then honor and righteousness are lost. Honor and righteousness are much more valuable than gold and silver. That is why Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is to be more desired than great riches, Favor is better than silver and gold.” (NASB)

Instead of investing in gold and silver, let us invest in understanding the wisdom of God and in doing what is right and honorable.  

The Seasons of the Moon 5-16-22

It has finally warmed up after a cold spring. If you think you are late planting your garden, don't worry. It felt like spring arrived later than normal this year. Actually spring was later. Although our calendar has spring arriving at March 19th or 20th of each year, Easter arrives at different times every year. This is because Easter corresponds to the Hebrew Passover and the timing of the Passover is based on the moon cycles. This means that since Jesus died on the Passover. He also died during a full moon and rose from the dead just after that.

When I was farming I knew that there were times that I should pay attention to the moon. For example, if harvest were getting close, but the crops were not yet mature, I would be worried about an early frost. I soon learned that a fall frost was more likely during a full moon. If a full moon was coming along with a cooler forecast, and the corn was not yet fully mature, I would have to make plans to harvest a poorer quality crop.

Old timers have long advised that potatoes should be planted on Good Friday. That would've meant planting on April 15th this year, and April 2nd of last year. Why the nearly two week difference? The answer comes when we remember that Good Friday happens just as Passover is beginning. Passover corresponds to the full moon. Thus the full moon of Spring happens at a different time each year. In fact, in 2016, potatoes should have been planted as early as March 25th. That is a 3 week difference compared to this year. In other words, based on the Good Friday planting date for potatoes, we do really have a late spring.

Is all of this talk about full moons and potatoes just a wives tale or is it scientific? Science is simply the study of the natural world through observation. Based on my own observations, there seems to be a lot of validity to the moon cycles affecting the seasons. In addition to working as a pastor, I also do some excavating work. That means that I dig a lot of holes in the ground. This year the frost has been slow to leave the soil. I also remember that the frost hung around late into the year in 2014. It was well into May, before I quit hitting frost as I dug holes that year. Easter was late that year as well- occurring on April 20th.

Is all of this information the ramblings of someone who read too many copies of the “Old Farmer's Almanac,” the repeating of goofy wife's tales, studied science, or could it actually be Biblical? Although our modern practice is to change the seasons based on a set date on the calendar, the Bible gives another way to look at the seasons and it involves the moon. Consider Psalm 104:19, “He made the moon for the seasons; The sun knows the place of its setting.”

Notice what Psalm 104:19 is saying. God actually made the moon for seasons. That is one of the reasons why we have the moon. That means that the moon is even more reliable for knowing when spring has arrived than the calendar is. With all our modern technology it is easy to forget about some of the most reliable science that God has given us. The moon is calibrated to our earth much more accurately than the alarm on our cell phone ever could be. The moon is yet another reminder that we should not doubt God. “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20 NASB) 

Tolerating Guacamole 5-2-22

When I order one of my favorite dishes at one of my favorite restaurants, it comes with a side of guacamole. I do not particularly like guacamole. I could just ask them to skip it, but that would be added work for the kitchen staff. Further it adds color to the plate and accents its appearance. Thus I tolerate the guacamole, but that does not mean I enjoy it. I just push it aside without even eating it.

Guacamole can provide a great illustration for tolerance. Tolerance is defined as: the ability or willingness to endure something, in particular the existence of opinion or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with. I tolerate guacamole on my plate even when I do not agree with the idea of putting it there.

As Christians we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. Even as we love them, they are going to have opinions and behaviors that we do not always agree with. In fact, some of those opinions and behaviors will be contrary to what the scripture teaches. For example, as a Christian, I avoid drunkenness, while I have friends who embrace drunkenness. I can be tolerant of my friends and their behaviors without endorsing what they are doing. I welcome them as a part of my life and am grateful for their friendship, while still believing that getting drunk is harmful to their health and their relationship with God. At the same time they welcome me into their lives even though I do not drink alcohol.

Just like I can accept the guacamole on my plate without eating it, I can accept them as a part of my life without partaking in their behaviors. That is what neighborly love in tolerance should look like.

Sadly there are some people who are not even willing to exist alongside others who do not hold to their beliefs or behaviors. Some of those people even preach tolerance while distorting what tolerance actually means. Although there are some who are unwilling to exist alongside those who do not embrace biblical ideals, there are also those who are unwilling to exist alongside those who refuse to reject biblical ideals. We must be honest enough to admit that neither of these groups are practicing tolerance no matter what words they use.

The very definition of tolerance recognizes that opinions and behaviors will differ. Today many who “preach” tolerance are suggesting that unless there is agreement with their opinion and behavior, then they are obligated to reject those who disagree with them. This is not just a problem within churches- it is often an even greater problem among the “nonreligious”. This is the opposite of what tolerance is supposed to be. Further it goes against the idea of loving one's neighbors as we love ourselves.

As Christians our behaviors and opinions should be rooted in the teachings of Jesus Christ and the apostles that we find written in the New Testament of the Holy Bible. We also find guidance in the Old Testament Jewish scripture of the Holy Bible. Obviously there are disagreements about the interpretation of some of those teachings. Understandably within local church communities there are certain teachings that will not be tolerated. That explains why we have different church bodies and expectations for the members of those churches. Such an approach should be expected. It should not surprise anyone that our church does not tolerate drunkenness among its members. Still, that does not mean we should not still tolerate one another as neighbors and even friends.

It becomes more difficult when people who reject Christian principles altogether began to distort the idea of tolerance and suggest that others do not even have a right to hold to religious conviction. This is the very definition of intolerance.

As Christians let us graciously recognize that there will be differences of opinions and behaviors. We should not depart from the teaching of scripture in our opinions and behaviors even when others are intolerant of us. At the same time, we should continue to show love to those who do not embrace the teachings that we hold so dear. 

Not Just Anyone Can Hatch 4-17-22

We have been attempting to hatch some eggs. We have a few old incubators that were either given to us or purchased at garage sales. Hens make the process look so easy, but we are finding out that it is not as easy as I anticipated it might be.

We actually have some pretty neat incubators. The first one we tried has multiple racks with automatic egg turners. The hens regularly turn their own eggs so that the developing chick does not stick to the inside of the shell and die. We decided that an automatic turner would save us the time of manually turning the eggs throughout the day. The problem was that the motors on the machine were not working.

Thankfully we had another one that we could use. On that one, the turner worked perfectly and it came up to the needed temperature quite quickly. We also discovered that the temperature was very important and should be near 100 degrees. If it was too cold the chicks would not develop properly and if it was too hot they would die.

As we double checked the temperature we soon realized that it was warm enough right below the heater on the incubator, but too cool farther away from the heater.

We also found out that there is a process called candling where you can shine a bright light into the egg and see how it is developing. As we candled, we found out that the eggs in the cooler area did not appear to be developing like the others were.

As if all these factors were not challenging enough, we also realize that we need to be concerned with the humidity level within the incubator and that the humidity may need to change just before they hatch. Further we need to stop rotating the eggs shortly before they hatch. That means we need to estimate hatch time based on the ideal temperature. If we had it set right they should hatch in about 21 days. If it is too cool, it may take longer or they may not hatch at all.

As I wait for our results, I think back to the chicks that hatched out for us last year. We did not use an incubator. Instead we let this ugly little banty hen do what God created her to do. She efficiently kept the eggs at the proper temperature and humidity and meticulously turned them just when she was supposed to.

I am reminded of how fragile life is and how dependent we are on our creator. Not only did God create chickens to lay eggs, but he made them to know how to incubate and hatch those eggs. Further he makes seeds to grow and plants to produce food. Our creator is also our savior and sustainer. Notice what Colossians 1:16-17 says about Jesus Christ: “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 by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (NASB)

When we believe on Jesus Christ as our risen savior, we are not just believing in a great prophet, we are believing in the creator and sustainer of the universe who even cares about the little chickens and all the details of their lives.  

Rhubarb and Lard Riches 4-4-22

Our Rhubarb has started to grow. It will be a while before it can be harvested. Still our boys are looking forward to it. They want to make the breakfast that they used to eat when they were little. At that time, our finances were very tight, but we could buy a 25 lb bag of rice for less than $9. I realized our boys would get tired of rice every day, and we had a lot of rhubarb. We were also able to buy postdated jello. I would cook up the rice in a large bowl, add the rhubarb, jello mix, and a little sugar and then let it cool in the fridge. This made for an inexpensive, yet colorful and tasty breakfast treat. The boys loved it.

They did not realize how poor we were. Instead they look back on those days and want to make their low-budget treat again. Not only was it cheap, but it had a decent amount of nutrition. Come to think of it, we were quite rich.

I like reading a farmer's forum called NewAgtalk. While browsing this forum, I recently found a thread titled, “How We Used to Eat (1953 - 1955 or so)”. One man shared this comment right after another man mentioned being born in 1933, “My Dad, said the 'well off' kids, had lard sandwiches, the poorer ones were lucky to have a 'jammin' sandwich, which was just two slices of bread jammed together. Their folks couldn't afford to waste the lard.”

It is easy to take what we have for granted. We walked through Walmart the other day and noticed the egg shelves were bare. Evidently Walmart's egg suppliers have been hit by the bird flu. Still there was plenty of food in the whole store. Throughout the Covid experience and the following supply shortages, some things have been harder to get. Still we never starved.

The president of the United States recently said that food shortages are going to be real. How severe those shortages will be is definitely not known, but we do know that for Walmart the egg shortage was a reality even though they are plentiful in other stores.

We live in a society where we have gotten used to going to the store and being able to buy so many wonderful items. We have much more to chose from than just lard and rhubarb. Ironically, I would not even know where to buy lard or rhubarb, because there is less demand for those products compared to so many others. Still, we should be reminded of how rich lard and rhubarb can make us feel.

I am glad that we are not as poor as we used to be, but I am also glad that our boys grew up with a bit less than their peers and still learned to appreciate what they had. If we face more shortages ahead they will be much better prepared to adjust to it. As long as there is not a lemon shortage, they will be able to make lemonade. They know that soon they will be able to harvest rhubarb and even make a salad from dandelion leaves. 1Timothy 6:6 says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”

Then a couple verses later we are told, “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”

(I Timothy 6:8).

If we end up facing a cereal shortage and our boys are forced to once again eat rice and rhubarb, they will consider it a treat. Still their best security comes not from their food, but from knowing that since they have trusted Christ, he will be with them no matter what they go through. Hebrews 13:5 says, “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”  

Are You Scared At Night?  3-21-22

Darth Vader Comic Character Clip Art

Strange noises can be scary. As a child I lived in an old farmhouse with hot water heating. The old pipes would bang and gurgle. I soon got used to pipe noises and hardly noticed them anymore.

Then one evening my cousins stayed over night. Those same noises were new to them and very scary. So were the unfamiliar sights. Not only were there trees that cast shadows right outside our bedroom window, there were also dark curtains around the window frame. As the pipes clattered one of the boys was convinced he saw Darth Vader looking in the window. Soon there were multiple scared little boys in that room.

Another night my parents were gone and we had a baby sitter. The darkness outside had set in. Soon we heard a deep long moaning sound coming from our thick grove of trees. Our teenage babysitter tried to assure us that we need not worry, but as the sound continued our fear would not subside. Finally she called her dad who lived only a mile away and he assured us that we did not need to worry. He explained that a hoot owl could have made that sound. Later we realized that it was a cow.

As I have gotten older I have realized that a lot of things that I was scared of as a kid were actually quite harmless. On the other hand, I have also realized that there are a lot of scary things in this world that I did not even know about as a kid. I have never heard a missile fly overhead and crash into a neighboring building. As a child, the only gunshots I heard from my yard were friends and neighbors out hunting or target shooting.

I am thankful that I am not living in Ukraine, but I do realize that gunshots in Sioux Falls are not always harmless. I know that it is not irrational to be fearful of some sounds. I also know how stressful it could be to live in fear.

It was very difficult to fall asleep the night I heard the moaning sound out in the trees- and the thought of Darth Vader outside my window did not provide any comfort to my life. Fortunately those fears quickly passed and I was able to sleep in peace.

Today I could let the fears of this world keep me awake at night, but instead I remember that I am friends with the creator of the universe and that he has sent his Holy Spirit to be with me. I also realize that there are still people in this world whose lives are in danger simply because they have put their faith in Jesus Christ. In spite of the real dangers they face, they continue to be bold in their faith. After reminding us in Hebrews 15:5 that our Lord will never leave us or forsake us, Hebrews 13:6 says, “so that we confidently say, "THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT SHALL MAN DO TO ME?" (NASB)

I trusted Jesus Christ as my savior when I was still young enough to be scared of a cow mooing out in the trees at night. Today, I still take comfort in knowing he will not leave me nor forsake me. As I watch the news and realize that there are legitimate fearful things happening in this word, I know I do not have to live in fear of what others will do to me. I am not alone. The creator of the universe who died for my sins has not forgotten me. Even if I die, he will be with me as I live with him forever. That makes it easy to sleep at night whether a cow is moowing in the distance or if we hear that missiles could some day be flying overhead.

If you have not yet trusted Christ, take comfort in what he said in John 6:37, "All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” (NASB) 

How Do I get There from Here? 3-6-22

Travel Bus Clip Art

I like to know where I am going. Before the internet and smartphones I would keep maps from multiple states in my glove box just in case I needed to find out where I was at. I figured if I kept driving in the same direction, eventually I would find a main highway that was on the map and then I could find my way from there.

Now I can go online before my trip and have a map printed of the exact roads I need to take. It will even tell my how far to go and when to turn. Still this approach has now become old fashioned. My wife simply speaks the location into her phone and then the phone will tell her when and where to turn. I like to see the whole map ahead of time and to know where I am going before I get there. Part of the reason that I am hesitant to use my phone is that I do not have enough faith in Siri.

My grandparents died years ago. They did not have smartphones or the internet, but they were able to get many places without maps or even knowing the directions. They would simply book a seat on a tour bus. The tour company would make all the arrangements. The only thing my grandparents had to do was get on the bus and trust the driver to get them where they needed to go.

One of their trips was to Mackinac Island in Michigan. They not only had to trust the bus driver, but also the boat captain to get them there. The island was so isolated that they could not have simply driven there themselves. In fact, when I typed in an address on the island in my favorite mapping site I got the message, “Directions failed: ZERO_RESULTS.” There is no road to the island so they could not fulfill my request.

Getting to heaven is even more complicated than getting to Mackinac Island. There are no maps or driving directions. Still, in John chapter 14, Jesus told his disciples that they knew the way there. Thomas asked, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?" ( John 14:5b NASB) Jesus replied that he was the way. “Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.” (John 14:6 NASB)

The reason that Jesus was able to tell the disciples that they knew the way even though they did not realize they knew the way was because they knew him. They did not need a map or any other directions. All they had to do was to trust him and trust that he would get them there. He had just finished telling them that he was going to prepare a place for them and that there were many dwelling places (some versions have rooms or mansions). We can trust that if we believe in him, then not only is he getting a place ready for us, but he will make sure we get there.

We also need to understand that Jesus is the only way to get there. We cannot get to heaven without him. It is not just that he “knows” the way- he “is” the way. We must have the faith to- “get in the bus with him” so to speak, and- let him drive us there. No one else can do that for us. Only Jesus can. “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,”

(1Timothy 2:5 NASB). "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12 NASB) Jesus is more than a road map to heaven- he is the only way.

Siri does not always give the right directions, so I do not always trust that app, but I know I can trust Jesus Christ.  

Love Like Jesus Loved 2-21-22  

Rock Mountain Or Hill Climibing Clip Art

I just read the tragic story of a husband who died saving his wife's life. They loved climbing so they took a climbing trip for their one year anniversary. Suddenly they found themselves caught in a rock slide. Although the husband was able to protect his wife by taking the brunt of the rocks, he was not able to survive.

I felt a sense of Shakespearean sorrow as I recognized both the love and the grief of such an event. It also made me further reflect on Ephesians 5:25 where it says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her;” (NASB).

Christ did set the perfect example of selfless love. He gave his life on the cross for our sins. Yet the example of love he set went far beyond the cross. Right after he entered into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday he washed the disciple's feet. We need to remember who Jesus was as he did this. Not only is he God, but he was their leader- their master. They were his followers. He had every right to order one of them to wash feet, yet he did it himself.

Husbands should look to that same example and be willing to humble themselves and help their wives. In other words, we should not just be willing to shield her from falling rocks, we should also be willing to tackle that honey do list and care about her other concerns. Of course I am not suggesting that husbands spend every waking hour doing whatever the wife can think to put on that list, but love is evidenced as we put others ahead of ourselves.

After washing feet, Jesus told his disciples, "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:35 NASB) A loving Christian wife will have reasonable expectations for the honey do list and a loving husband will not ignore it.

As important as all of this advice is for a healthy marriage, it is also important for a spiritually healthy life in all of our relationships. Philippians 2:3-5 says, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,” (NASB).

The Philippians passage also reminds us that we are to follow the example of Christ. So much conflict in this world could be solved if we were all willing to set aside selfishness and love one another. The problem comes when either one or both parties are too selfish to do that. Romans 12:18 tells us, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” (NASB) In other words, if there is not peace make sure it is not your fault.

When people reject Christ, they do not have the Christian motivation to set aside selfishness. On the other hand, when people are really committed to obeying Christ, they do care about others. That is why Christians who are doing right will get along with each other and why Jesus said, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

(John 13:34-35 NASB) Our selfless love should be so radical that the rest of the world will notice how well we get along.

Let us strive to love as Christ loved because of our love for him. Jesus said, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15 NASB)

Don't Rob the Train 2-7-22

Choo Choo Train Clip Art

I recently saw pictures of train tracks littered with cardboard boxes. It looked like trash had been dumped on the tracks. As I read further, I realized that the reason all these boxes were there is because people had broken into the shipping containers on the train and taken the boxes out. Since they did not know what was in most of the boxes, they would rip them open, keep any valuable items and then discard what was left behind.

Customers who had placed orders would not be receiving their items. Many are right to be upset about that. What seems to be missing from so many of the conversations, however, is the issue of the sin that was taking place.

God was very clear when he said “Thou shalt not steal.” Sadly much of the world doesn't really take God all that seriously. They are upset that someone will not get a package, but are not so upset that God was disobeyed.

The problem is that people have created their own moral standards rather than considering God's moral standards. Some think it is okay to steal from a train, because the train is owned by a big company, but that it is not okay to steal from the single mother who is waiting for her Amazon order. Once they realize that stealing from the one leads to the theft from the other- only then are they upset.

We are facing a much bigger problem than late deliveries and littered train tracks. We are facing a society that thinks their stealing is okay but that other's stealing is not. We are facing a world that has lost it's moral compass.

Without God, everyone ends up doing what is right in their own eyes. This should not surprise us, because that is what happened way back in the garden of Eden. Adam and Eve decided to listen to the serpent rather than to listen to God. Thus they decided what was right to do instead of obeying God. Long before that, Satan decided that he wanted to be like the most high.

We now have a whole world full of people who act just like the devil- thinking they have the right to be like God and decide what is right and wrong. It is time for each of us to take an honest look at our lives. Unless we care about right and wrong based on God's standards, we are going down the path of selfish arrogance. A path that says we have all the answers to right and wrong and that we do not need to listen to God is not a wise path to take. Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” It is time to listen to God.

Stealing is only one of many sins that we must be concerned about. But there is hope. 1 John 1:9 tells us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” God made the rules of right and wrong and he will hold us accountable for violating those rules. That is serious for the sinner, but God so loved this sinful world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.

That means if we believe Jesus, then our sins are forgiven. Of course that is not an excuse to keep sinning. If we really believe in him, we will want to follow God's ways not our own.

We should stop making our own rules, but if we do sin and repent we have Jesus on our side. 1John 2:1 says, “My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” It is time for us to recognize that there is forgiveness in Christ and that God really is in charge.

How Do You Use Your Hands? 1-18-20

Praying Hands Clip Art

When I was in school, gym class was hard. I had an eye condition that I was not aware of at the time. I would see the ball where it actually was at. Most people see a moving ball where they expect it to be. That is what allows people to catch it. For most people, their eyes and minds do all the calculations automatically. For some of us those calculations never occur. It means that we cannot trust our eyes to help us catch the ball.

I admire those who have great athletic abilities. But I have concerns about those who make sports their god. For some of them, if you do not honor their god by playing perfectly they will mock and ridicule you. Those kind of people are still know as jerks decades later, while most have forgotten that some of us were not so good at sports all those years ago. I think most people like sports but are not jerks about it either. Dads, if you are raising kids to be jerks about sports you have a lot bigger issues than can be solved with a ball. I pray Christ can help you to resolve them.

For those of you who are like me- not so good at sports- realize that God has gifted you in other ways. Find what you can use and use it for his glory. Christ isn't like the school yard bully. He loves you no matter how talented you are. I wrote this poem and I hope it gives some encouragement to those who are trying to find out what their talents are.

I didn't catch the ball as he threw that pass

If I had I knew that moment wouldn't last

I was the easy out before 1st base

I was the first one tagged when we played chase

They thought I couldn't use my hands

But I could catch a wrench and fix a car

spin a stuck lid off a mason jar

Plant a tree and cut one down

As I help the neighbor clear across town

I know how to use my hands

I can skin a pig

and drive a Cat

Move that dirt

and put it back

I know how to use my hands

I can drive a nail with just 2 blows

build a house and move it home

Start a tractor that has sat for years

Jump in a semi and shift the gears

I know how to use my hands

These hands can hold a baby

and his momma too

She looks at me and says

I want him to grow up to be like you

Teach him to use his hands

To open God's word and live it out

To show the whole world what its all about

To know how to use your hands

The above poem speaks of using one's hands, but not all hands are usable. Joni Eareckson Tada was paralyzed in her youth and still went on to become an artist, author, and radio host. She used her talents to speak of Jesus Christ. Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (NASB) I Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (NASB) No matter who we are, we can bring glory to God. We all have purpose in life. www.southtownchurch.com

God's Winter Mercies 1-3-22

Weather Symbols Clip Art

I recently shared a meme with the picture of a farmer chipping ice out of a water tank as the cattle watched him. The words said, “If you 'love winter' there's a 99% chance you don't have livestock.” I had to chuckle. I grew up on a farm with a lot of livestock. I remember saying how much easier winter was once I no longer had livestock to care for. Ironically, now this year, we have chickens and a pig to care for.

As a teenager, I experienced a winter where it stayed multiple digits below zero for weeks. We had the tractor parked inside out of the wind, but still struggled to get it started each day. Then we had to go around and thaw out the water supplies for the livestock before doing the rest of our chores. Often the gates would be froze shut so we could not even drive into the pens. If a water line broke, it would create a massive ice sculpture if it did not freeze shut. The cold was a challenge.

As challenging as the cold was, having to scoop snow provided an additional challenge. Still, snow could be a blessing. We could push snow piles up to block the wind and protect the livestock. The snow could also insulate the ground so that the water lines that were buried would not freeze as easily. The snow also kept the pens colder so that they did not thaw and turn to mud. It also proved a safer surface to walk on than glare ice. This reminds me of Psalm 147:16 where it says, “He gives snow like wool; He scatters the frost like ashes.” (NASB)

Not only is snow white like some wool, it insulates like wool. Snow can be a blessing and I can be grateful for it. I am also thankful when it melts. A few verses later we can read in Psalm 147:18, “He sends forth His word and melts them; He causes His wind to blow and the waters to flow.” (NASB) In the middle of winter when the days are short, it is good to know that spring time will come and the snow will melt. I also know that even in the middle of winter, God can send a warm day to give us a break from the cold. These changes in weather are a reminder of his grace and his power.

Although his power can be seen in the winds of a blizzard and the thunderstorms of summer, his power is also seen in the cold. Vs 17 says, “He casts forth His ice as fragments; Who can stand before His cold?” (Psalm 147:17 NASB) Vs 15 tells us that all these things happen at his command. “He sends forth His command to the earth; His word runs very swiftly. (Psalm 147:15 NASB)

All of this talk about cold, snow, and the power of God is in the context of another truth found in the same Psalm where it says, “He does not delight in the strength of the horse; He does not take pleasure in the legs of a man. The LORD favors those who fear Him, Those who wait for His lovingkindness.” (Psalm 147:10-11 NASB)

God is powerful, so he is not impressed with our power. Instead he delights in our reverent fear of him as we look to his love and kindness. That is why we need to believe in his son and the love he showed in coming to this earth to die for our sins. John 3:16 sums it up well, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

When you see the power of the cold, remember God's mercy in sending snow and eventually melting that snow. Then remember the mercy of God in sending his son.  

Giving is More Than Gifts 12-20-21

A Helping Hand Clip Art

Christmas time is a wonderful time of the year to put giving into practice. As we give gifts, we should do so without selfishness. Unfortunately it is easy to get into the rut of tradition rather than the spirit of giving. To further complicate matters, if we were to give an expensive gift at Christmas the recipient would likely want to give us an expensive gift in return. For this reason my siblings and I decided years ago to stop exchanging gifts.

That does not mean, however, that we do not still look out for each other. My little brother recently dropped everything to come and help me when my truck broke down. About a week later, I made time to help my other brother and his family move to a different house. These things mean way more than wrapping and exchanging fruit baskets on Christmas.

Helping others and giving to others comes with a personal cost. It is often easier to just buy a present than to actually put others interests ahead of our own. Setting aside selfishness and realizing that others are more important than we are is what giving should be about. This sort of attitude should not just come out at Christmas. It should be how we live our lives.

We live in a world were selfishness is quite common. Christians however should be characterized by giving rather than selfishness. In his letter to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4 NASB)

It is not always easy to live such an unselfish life. Thankfully Jesus Christ set the perfect example for us. In Paul's letter to the Philippians he continues by reminding us that we need to be like Christ as we set aside selfishness and put others ahead of ourselves. He says, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2:5-7 NASB)

Jesus did not have to grasp at equality with God. He already had it. Further he did not just leave the comfort of a warm house to help others, he left heaven. Then he emptied himself of so much of his glory in order to become a servant. Jesus humbled himself enough to be born and laid in a manger. Then he grew up and gave his life for our sins. We too should regard the needs of others and help them.

Christmas is a great time to remember how Christ put others ahead of himself as he was born as a baby. It is also a great time for us to follow his example and to do more for others than just giving a trite gift. We should actually spend time and show them we care. Jesus left heaven and spent time here on earth. We can leave our places of comfort and spend time with those who need our help as we view them as more important than ourselves. We definitely ought to view Christ as more important then we are and follow him.  

Son of Man at Christmas 12-6-21

Nativity Scene Clip Art

It is the holiday season. Toys are on sale, decorations are going up, and there may be a Christmas tree shortage. As exciting as all of these things are, they are not part of the true meaning of Christmas. Christ-mas is about the incarnation of Christ. Incarnation is a fancy word that means that God became a man.

Although Jesus is God, he often referred to himself as the “Son of Man.” This title a reminder that God so loved the world that he came to this earth as a human baby and then grew into a man who would die for our sins- it was also a reference to a very important Old Testament prophesy. About 500 years before Christ was born in Bethlehem, Daniel wrote about him. In fact, in chapter 9, Daniel tells the date when the Messiah would appear. That date lines up with the time of Jesus Christ. Yet, two chapters before that, Daniel tells about the power and glory of the one who would come and in so doing, he speaks of the “Son of Man.”

"I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. "And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations, and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14 NASB)

Notice how Daniel describes Christ here. He is like a Son of Man. He is the son of mankind through Mary, but he is also the son of God through the Holy Spirit. He is fully God and fully man, so he is not just any son of man. But notice as well that this “Son of Man” comes with the clouds from heaven. This is a reminder that Jesus is God come from heaven to become a man- the very definition of the incarnation. Notice as well that he was given the authority to rule as king over all the world and that authority would last forever.

As we read Daniel's prophesy, we understand that when Jesus used the title “Son of Man” he was reminding those who were familiar with the book of Daniel that the time was right for the Messiah to appear and that the Messiah would have the everlasting authority as the king of the world. By using that title, Jesus was laying claim to that authority. Once we understand that he is God become man, that claim should not surprise us.

As we celebrate his birth, let us not forget his authority. Let us also remember that when he set aside so much of his majesty in heaven he stayed filled with grace and truth (John 1:14). That grace led him to die for our sins and to extend his offer of salvation to all who believe in him. That means if we believe he is the one Daniel spoke of and recognize the authority he has, then we can be part of his eternal kingdom. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 KJV)

In order to have that everlasting life, we must believe in him. He is the only way. The way in the manger leads to the cross, and the cross leads us to King Jesus. “Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.” (John 14:6 NASB)  

Showing How Love Looks 11-22-21

I wish you all could meet my brother, Dustin. He can fix almost anything and he can build a lot of stuff. He is the sort of guy you hope to have around if you are having trouble and need a creative solution. My other brother recently brought his four wheeler to him to have it repaired and he had it running great in about 10 minutes.

It is one thing for a man to have that kind of talent. It is another thing for him to use it for others. The brother who had the four wheeler fixed wanted to pay him, but he refused because that is just what he does. When the transfer case went out of my pickup near Beaver Creek and I called him, he dropped what he was doing to come to my rescue and haul my broken pickup back to Worthing. (He lives near Pipestone).

He doesn't just do those sorts of things for his brothers though. His friends and neighbors know they can call on him for help. The same night that my pickup broke down, my wife was also stranded on the side of the road and I was on my way to help her.

I called my brother to rescue me, but first I called my friend Mic to rescue my wife. He is just like my brother. He dropped everything and came to help. He stopped where I was waiting for my brother and picked up the parts that my wife's van needed, brought them to her, installed them, and ended up coming into Worthing right after we did.

Dustin and Mic both love the Lord (the first and greatest commandment of all) but they also love their neighbors (the second greatest commandment). All their talents could not create a good testimony of their Christian faith if they were not putting their love into practice.

James 2:15-16 says, “If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled," and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?” (NASB)

I have let you know how wonderful I think these two men are, but they are not perfect. I know each of them has their faults. That is why they trusted Christ. He forgives their sins and cleanses them from all unrighteousness. They would both tell you how wonderful Jesus is and that unlike them, Jesus is perfect. He is kind, righteous, sinless, just, compassionate, powerful, loving, merciful, completely honest, and trustworthy. Jesus is also God.

So if we were to tell people how wonderful God was, but yet he didn't do anything for us, would people be likely to listen to us? Let us not forget that Christ holds the creation together (Colossians 1:16-17). Further he provides for our needs.

"Consider the lilies, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these. "But if God so arrays the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you, O men of little faith! "And do not seek what you shall eat, and what you shall drink, and do not keep worrying. "For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. "But seek for His kingdom, and these things shall be added to you.(Luke 12:27-31 NASB)

As if that were not enough, He loved us so much that he died for our sins before he rose again. As wonderful as so many of my friends and brothers are, Jesus Christ is even more wonderful. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. 

The Mount of Resurrection 11-8-21

Graveyard Silhouette Clip Art

Long, long ago, my great great grandfather immigrated to this area from Germany. I am told that he was buried in a cemetery south of Lennox. I have not found his grave, and I still do not know if his gravestone has the name “Mueller” or the more Americanized “Miller” that later generations adapted. He was buried there over a hundred years ago, far, far away from the land where he was born.

In the book of Genesis Joseph asks that his bones not remain in Egypt. During the Exodus they are carried back to the promised land. Some people are very concerned about where they are buried. Others don't really care much at all.

Just east of Jerusalem there is a mount where many people wanted to be buried. It is estimated that in this location there are up to 150,000 tombs. This cemetery is located on the Mount of Olives and was started about 1000 years before the time of Christ. Thus during Jesus' ministry there were already people buried there.

Although Jesus would often contend with the Pharisees, they did agree on one very important teaching. They both affirmed the resurrection of the dead. That is why so many wanted to be buried on the Mount of Olives. Jewish tradition suggests that those who are buried on the Mount of Olives would be the first to rise from the dead. The prophet Zechariah's writings may have been where this tradition originated. He wrote:

“Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south.” (Zech 14:3-4 NASB)

The next verse then speaks of God coming and all the holy ones with him.

Knowing that Jesus is the promised Messiah- God come to save us, it should not surprise us that he spent a lot of time on the Mount of Olives. In fact, it was on that very mount that he was asked by his disciples, “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3). It would have been exciting to get to ask Jesus that question while sitting on the mountain that he would one day split in two.

It is just as exciting though, to know that if we believe in him, we do not have to be buried on that mountain. No matter where we are, he will find us, raise us from the dead and give us eternal life. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord.” (I Thessalonians 4:16-17 NASB)

Jesus is coming again. We must be ready. Regardless of if it is before or after we die, if we trust him, we will be with him for eternity, “for God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” But those who do not believe will not have that wonderful experience. Jesus warned, “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:23) The good news is that if we believe in him, we never have to hear those words, because he promised, “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” (John 6:37 NASB).  

Battling In the Word War 10-26-21

Cartoon Balloon Clip Art

Not all wars involve physical weapons and literal death on battlefields. I grew up during the “Cold War” with the USSR. Throughout my life, I have seen many people get hot under the collar over cold wars of opinion. I have even found myself on that battlefield from time to time. Today, we are seeing that the wars of words are becoming more and more heated.

Psalm 140 speaks of evil and violent men who continually sir up wars. The weapons that they use are not guns or swords. They are words. “They sharpen their tongues as a serpent; Poison of a viper is under their lips. Selah.” (Psalm 140:3 NASB)

The Psalmist asks the Lord for protection from them. It is a reminder that although sicks and stones may break our bones, words DO actually hurt us.

In the battle of words a lot of mean statements are made. People are called names, but worse yet, they are often given labels that they do not deserve. This often comes in the form of slander. Psalm 140 addresses this as well. "May a slanderer not be established in the earth; May evil hunt the violent man speedily." (Psalm 140:11 NASB).

In Psalm 140 the words of others are condemned, but then we come to Psalm 141. In that next Psalm, we find some self reflection. The writer has already pointed out in Psalm 140 that words can be dangerous weapons of war. But now he is concerned about how he uses his own words. In his prayers he asks, “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.”

It is easy to notice when the hurtful words of others damage us. It is not always so easy to know when my words hurt others. That is why it is important to ask for the Lord's help. When Jesus came to this earth he emptied himself of so much of the glory he had in heaven. He stayed filled with grace and truth (John 1:14). We should ask him to guard our words so they too are characterized by grace and truth.

It is very tempting to get caught up in the battle. It is not wrong to share our opinions or to have debates. Wars are often avoided by the exchange of dialog that helps each side understand the other side better. That is what diplomacy is all about. But when words are sharpened and used with violence, diplomacy has been set aside for war. This can even happen online.

My wife has a distant relative who we are online friends with. We often disagree with her on a variety of subjects, but she is consistently polite and respectful as she shares her opinions. We have had some great online conversations as we better understand her perspective and she better understands ours. Never have I felt at war with her.

I have however seen situations where different perspectives have not had such a positive result. We cannot always control how others respond, but we can set a guard over our own responses. We live in a world where opinions are shared openly and that is not all bad. Still, we need to be careful as Christians to ask for God's help in how we share our words so that we speak with grace and truth.

We can expect to fall short from time to time, but when we are reproved and the reproof is deserved, we should own up to it and ask forgiveness. Then we should also be willing to grant forgiveness when someone else breaks the cease fire in the war of words. 

No Anger At Sundown 10-11-21

Angry Face Symbol Clip Art

Although I love the beautiful fall colors, I do not love the shorter days. I love the summer when daylight lasts well past 9:00 at night. It allows a lot more time to get things done outside. It also gives more time to be angry. Ephesians 4:26 says, “BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” (NASB) I make the comment about more time for anger with my tongue in my cheek because that verse has so often been misapplied.

Many couples have quoted that verse with the thought that they cannot go to bed without unresolved conflict. If we were to apply it in that manner, then we would have to resolve the conflict by 5 p.m. in December, but could wait until after 9 p.m. in June. The point is that if you are unwilling to go to sleep with unresolved conflict you are likely already past sunset.

The problem, however, is that the verse does not say anything about resolving the conflict. Instead it is talking about setting aside the anger. Diplomacy is necessary because of conflict, but anger can often interfere with the diplomatic process. The Ephesians passage reminds us that it is possible to be angry and yet not sin, but that there is a time to set aside the anger.

Consider a married couple that argues late into the night and refuses to go to sleep without resolving the conflict. It is difficult for diplomacy to work well when one or both parties are tired. A resolution will be much more likely in the morning after both are rested.

In order to obey the command not to let the sun go down on our anger, all we have do is to set aside our anger and go to sleep. It is not unusual to wake up the next morning and then be able to see the other person's perspective much more clearly. It is also not uncommon to wake up the next morning and realize that what you were so passionate about in your tired state does not really matter.

There are times however that this issue does still matter and must still be resolved. By setting aside anger and getting some sleep it gives time for contemplation before a renewed attempt at solving the issue. If it still cannot be solved, it may be time to bring in a moderator. It is much easier to recognize the need for such help if anger has been set aside. It will also make it easier to be able to listen to any recommendations that the moderator may make.

The command to “be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger” allows for a check and balance upon our anger. It is not always wrong to be angry, but unchecked anger can easily lead to sinful responses. Those sorts of responses are especially likely at night when we are tired. If you find your anger rising after the sun sets, then step away from the conflict and set that anger aside until the issue can be worked on another day.

Sometimes however, just setting aside our anger is all that is needed. For example I may have been justified in my anger about an issue that led to conflict, but still allow that anger to stand in the way of a resolution. My anger may be what is keeping me from letting go and offering forgiveness to the offending party. If the other person is repentant, then I need to let go of that anger and forgive. The end of the day is a time to remind me of what I need to do.

The scriptures have the answers for how to most effectively deal with day to day problems, but we must look at what those scriptures are actually saying, not at how they are often misapplied. Our anger may not even lead to a confrontation. We may simply be stewing about an event that happened earlier in the day. At the end of the day, let it go. Do not fall asleep dwelling on it.

Life With a Solid Foundation 9-26-21

House Outline Clip Art

My wife's folks are planning to move a house onto a lot that they recently purchased. It is an older rambler, but it is in good condition and has nice curb appeal. They are looking forward to adding an addition and attached garage onto it. They bought it from a house mover, so it is currently sitting on beams. Thankfully a wind storm has not blown it off its stands.

The house movers are professionals, so they know how to support it during this time, but what they have done is not a long term solution for the house. It needs to be set onto a solid foundation.

My father-in-law hired a local cement contractor to make that new foundation. They poured footings deep into the ground. They had to be deep enough so that the cold winter frost would not move them. They also had to be strong enough to carry the weight of the house.

After the initial footings were poured, they carefully set up forms for the walls. They installed metal reinforcement rod and were careful to make sure the walls were straight. They even installed concrete window wells. These window wells should last over a lifetime. Furthermore, since they are connected to the main wall, they will add structural strength to this basement foundation.

As the house movers bring the house to the site, they will be placing that old house onto a new foundation that will be solid. If the foundation were not solid, the house could sink or even twist. Soon the floors would be uneven and structural wood could break. Walls would crack and doors would not close right. If things got bad enough the house could become unlivable. A solid foundation is very important.

People have understood the importance of a solid foundation for thousands of years. In fact, Jesus used the illustration of building a house on a rock (solid foundation) to show the importance of obeying him. He said:

"Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: "and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock."But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: "and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall." (Matthew 7:24-27 NKJV)

Imagine you are sitting in your living room and notice that the floor is sloping downward. Then you go to the basement and find out that the wall is caving in. You quickly realize that you need to do some work on your house's foundation.

On the other hand, if you look at your life and realize it is falling apart, perhaps it is time to see what kind of foundation you have built your world upon. If your foundation is Jesus Christ, then you are on solid ground for eternity. He said in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

It was not too late for my in-laws to put a new foundation under an old house. It is not too late for you to put a new foundation under your life and to trust Jesus Christ. “Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity." (II Timothy 2:19 NKJV)

Kindness After the Storm 9-13-21

We first found out that a storm had hit Worthing when we got a text from a friend asking if we were alright. It was the last Saturday in August and we were hours away in a different state. The sun was shining. Worthing had just been hit with a deluge of rain, strong winds, and a possible tornado.

Our boys were at home without us. Fortunately, Crystal's sister had been made aware of the approaching storm and called them and told them to go to the basement. She was one more person in a list of people that were looking out for us. We quickly called our closest neighbors and found out that they had not been home either. One of them immediately checked on our boys and called us back to let us know they were okay.

My father-in-law had been visiting and was on his way back to our home when he heard that the storm had hit. He came back and was there hours before we got there. He just happened to have his chain saw with him and began to clean up our yard. Other neighbors stopped by to check on our boys and our house and reported back to us as we were driving home. We knew our boys were not alone. We also knew that when tragedy struck we would not be alone. We had friends and family and friends who are like family. We also had others praying for us. Most of all, we had the comfort that God was watching over our family and home.

It was already dark when we got home. It was raining again, branches were down, and streets were flooded. The electricity was off and the town was mostly dark. We would later find out that the road in front of our house had been blocked by trees. Someone had come along with a truck and pulled them out of the way so that the road was again passable.

By the next morning the electricity had still not come back on. We decided that during a time like this we should still have church, so we held services in the front foyer since there were more windows there to let in more light. We prayed for our community and wrapped up early so that we could work on the clean up.

As we went around town, we quickly realized that our little community was coming together. So many people were hauling branches that there was a long line waiting at the regular dump site. A business owner in town volunteered to let people dump branches on his bare lot. He even helped to unload and pile the branches with his skid loader. Since no one from the city was there to push up branches, others brought their loaders into town and helped push the piles back. Another man used his boom truck to reach dangerous branches and cut them down before they fell on others.

Children and adults gathered at the school grounds and began cleaning up that area. Others cleaned up the cemetery. People helped their neighbors. Trucks were driving around town pulling trailers. People were riding in the back of the pickups to load and unload the branches. It was a wonderful example of people following the second greatest commandment of loving their neighbors as themselves.

In a world of turmoil and division it is wonderful to know that there is still hope and kindness. Sometimes it takes a small tragedy to remind us of such blessings.

I do not always understand why God allows trials in our lives, but after this latest storm, I realized that sometimes the tough times we face reveal to us how blessed we really are. Although I feel bad for those with roof damage, crop damage, vehicles crushed by trees, and water in their basements, I do not look back on this storm with despair. I look back on it with thankfulness for all the blessings of a loving community.  

Worship In Spirit and Truth 8-30-21

Stone Wooden Person Skeleton Clip Art

Oxford defines worship as “the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.” From a Christian perspective, that worship is to be reserved for God. As Christians we recognize that Jesus Christ is God become man. Thus as we worship God, we worship Jesus Christ.

Other men are not God and should not be worshiped. Paul and Barnabas had to address this when people wanted to worship them. They said, "Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you in order that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, WHO MADE THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH AND THE SEA, AND ALL THAT IS IN THEM.” (Acts 14:15 NASB)

They were making it clear that only the true God who made heaven and earth should be worshiped. Sadly it is not just men that end up being worshiped. Often it is inanimate objects such as statues. Although statue worship is not as popular in our culture as it is in other cultures, it does have a certain appeal to it. It allows the worshiper to create his own god.

Creating our own gods is still very real in our culture even without statues. Instead many people create an idea of who their god is and worship that idea. They have created a god in their minds rather than upon their mantle. Some may even try to equate their god with the God of the Bible. There is a problem with that. We do not get to decide who the God of the Bible is. Since he created the heaven and the earth, he is real. We must allow him to define himself.

As Jesus talked with the woman at the well, he was talking to someone from Samaria- a region where the people mixed portions of the Old Testament scriptures with worship of idols. In other words they had distorted the reality of who the true God is as they worshiped. Jesus confronted this when he told her, “you worship that which you do not know.” (John 4:22a)

It is not possible to know a statue or a god of our imagination. Although the statue may have a physical element, it does not have a spirit. You can know a lot about a statue but you cannot know the statue. A god of our imagination has neither a physical element or a spirit. That is why Jesus then tells her, "But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:23-24 NASB)

The spirit is the part that forms the emotion, intellect, and will. It is the part capable of thought and of love. A statue or an imagination cannot love us back or respond with logic to our prayers. The true God can do all of these. Further he has given us his words in the Bible. That is why we can worship him in both spirit and truth. That is why we can love him and be loved by him

No Need to Hide in the Dark 8-16-21

Houses Clip Art

When people find out that I am a pastor, it is not unusual for them to clean up their language while they are around me. Still it is easy for someone who is in the habit of using colorful language to let a word slip now and then. Thus I also get to hear a number of people apologize for using those words in front of me. It is almost as if they are concerned that I might tattle to God about their behavior.

I try to politely inform them that I'm not the one they need to be concerned about and that God already knows all they are doing and saying. In fact, God even knows what we are thinking. God knowing our very thoughts should drive fear into each of our hearts. It also drives home the reality of “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23).

Knowing that God knows, can be frightening until we understand God's love, grace, and mercy. God loved the world so much that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. He loved us even though he knew we were sinners. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 NASB)

Some people act as if they are afraid that God will catch them sinning. Jesus did not come to this earth to catch us sinning. He already knew all men were sinners before he even came here. "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:17-18 NASB)

He did not have to catch us sinning to condemn us. We were already condemned before he ever came to die for our sins. But he loved us so much that he came anyway. All we have to do to reverse that condemnation is to believe in him. That means trusting him and recognizing he has the authority to be our Lord.

There is no reason to try to hide in the dark so that he cannot see our sin. Instead we need to come to the light and let our sin out in the open as we confess it and receive his forgiveness. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (NASB)

Sadly some people would rather have their sin than to have peace with God. That is why they continue to hide in the darkness rather than coming to the light of Christ.

"And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. "For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed."But he who practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God." (John 3:19-21 NASB)

Once we understand that Jesus already knows about our sin, there is no reason to hide in the darkness from him. Instead we should come to his light and fall before his mercy knowing he loved us enough to die for the sins that so many want to hide from him. We should desire to live for him instead of for sin. Knowing his mercy should cause us to know he will love us in spite of our sin. He will forgive us and let us be part of his kingdom if we believe. He promised, "All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” (John 6:37 NASB) 

Full of Grace and Truth 8-1-21

About 30 years ago, a friend of mine had an old brown four door Oldsmobile that he bought from a little old lady. It actually looked like a grandma's car. Looks can be deceiving. Under the hood was a 455 Rocket big block engine. Songs have been written about that engine. It had a lot of power. It was fast.

My friend could have bolted on some fancy rims, covered it in chrome, and replaced the faded brown with a flashy paint job. Then the speed and power of that car would not have been as much of a surprise. But based on how that car looked, no one would have expected it to go fast unless they knew more about it.

I do not want to compare our Lord Jesus Christ to an Oldsmobile, but when he came to this earth, he presented himself as unimpressively as my friend's car. He left his full glory behind in heaven. On the mount of transfiguration, Peter, James, and John were allowed to see that he was far more glorious than they had witnessed before. Still, he did not reveal his full glory.

Philippians 2 describes how humble Christ was and tells us that he set aside so much of his full glory in order to come to earth as a man. He did not look at all the glory he had in heaven as something he had to grasp and hold on to. Instead he let it go and came to us as one of us.

Philippians 2:6-8 says, “who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (NASB)

Instead of holding on to his full glory- the glory of God- Jesus Christ emptied himself and became ordinary. He did not come looking like a powerful king. Instead he came looking and acting like a humble servant. Still his power was evident. He was able to feed thousands with a few loaves and fish. He was able to heal the sick, raise the dead, and calm the storm. He did not look powerful, but the power was still there. That power could not be denied when he rose from the dead.

If he had not emptied himself of his full glory, mankind could not have looked on him and lived. In Exodus 33:20, Moses was told by God, "You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!"

(NASB) If Jesus had come in his full glory, no one could have even survived in his presence. But God so loved the world when he came that he set that full glory aside so he could be looked at. He came as an actual human person and died for our sins.

Although Jesus set aside so much of his glory when he came to this earth, there were at least 2 things that he did not set aside. He stayed full of grace and truth. John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (NASB) He never compromised truth, but he also knew the truth that we were sinners. He came anyway because he was full of grace.

Staying full of grace allowed him to be gracious enough to forgive our sins and to make the ultimate payment on the cross. That payment applies to us if we believe in him. Knowing our God loved us that much and was that gracious, we should want to come to him. 

Ask For the Napkins 7-19-21

Restaurant Waiter Clip Art

Jacky's is our favorite restaurant. They always serve chips and salsa as an appetizer. Because the salsa is so good, I try to get as much of it on my chips as possible without dripping. In the challenge to reach my goal, I often fail. In other words, I end up dripping on the table or myself before that delight reaches my mouth.

That means that I usually need more than the one napkin that is provided. As great as this restaurant is (remember it is our favorite) they do not provide extra napkins at the table. I could complain and murmur about it and leave a mess all over the table. Instead I simply ask for extra napkins when we get there. The result is that the waiter brings plenty of extras and there are more than enough to meet my needs.

I am a bit embarrassed to admit that we had eaten there a number of times before I figured out the best way to deal with this problem. I would drip and then complain to my wife that I only had one napkin, which I wanted to save to use during our main course.

She would smile and shake her head and say that if I were more careful, then I would not make such a mess. Her clean side of the table was proof that such an approach was entirely possible. We would then have a friendly banter back and forth about how good the chips tasted with the extra salsa on them.

The problem was exacerbated by the wonderful service from the waiter. If he noticed our salsa bowl was empty, he would often bring us another one. Realizing they aimed to please, I finally figured out that all I had to do was ask and we had what we wanted.

Still that does not mean that the waiter would give me whatever I asked for. For example, if I had requested 2 dozen roses with our meal, I doubt we would have gotten them.

Our napkin experience makes me think of James 4:2- “You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. And you are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask.” (NASB) James is writing about conflict and selfishness, and he points out that often there is conflict because people do not even bother to ask.

Imagine if I complained about our favorite restaurant and told people not to go there because they did not have enough napkins. The reality is that they have plenty of napkins and all I have to do is ask for them.

We should not be so selfish as to expect that everyone will give us all we ask for, but often there are people in our lives who would be more than willing to make small adjustments in their life to make other's lives more pleasant. These are the sort of people who love Jesus and obey his command to love their neighbor as themselves. We should make it a point to never complain about others not giving us what we want if we have not even asked them. At the same time, we should make sure our requests to one another are not unreasonable.  

Roses Through Broken Glass 7-5-21

Red Rose Clip Art

I had a new windshield installed in the pickup. Glass Doctor did a great job and was priced reasonable. They said it should be less than 2 hours so I just waited while they fixed it.

We live almost a half hour from their store. I figured by the time I had my wife come and pick me up, and then bring me back, I would only have about an hour at home. That would also use up an hour of her time. It made more sense to just wait there.

I was actually late to my appointment that day and apologized the the service tech who had to wait for me. He was very polite and assured me that he was able to get some other things done as he waited. The reason I was late was because there had been an accident on I-229 and I got caught in stop and go traffic. Although slowing down and waiting on the interstate was incontinent, it was much better than being in the accident.

Once I got to the waiting room I was able to enjoy my time there. I am reminded as the Mac Davis song says, “There's a whole lot more to life than work and worry. The sweetest things in life are free, and there right before your eyes.”

The waiting room was comfortable and quiet. I actually fell asleep until an old guy came in. He was all upset over how long he would have to wait. He only had a stone chip and they told him it would be 20 minutes. He was upset when he heard I had been there a whole hour. I told him how nice it was that I got some time off to relax in a comfortable chair in a cool quiet place. He kind of hurumphed. I tried to visit with him, but he seemed too upset about how long he had to wait to talk much.

I viewed the time I had to relax as a gift. It had been a busy week and , just sitting and doing nothing was a real treat. I'm guessing the man who was complaining had been stuck sitting around all day every day and it was not so much fun anymore. At his stage in life, he would have likely found joy in again having the strength to put in a hard days work with little rest.

The point is that we can all find things to rejoice in if we just stop to smell the roses along the way. One of the best things to rejoice in is the fact that the sweetest things in life really are free. That includes the free gift of salvation from God. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.” (NASB)

The gift of being saved from our sins came when Jesus died for our sins. All we have to do to receive that free gift is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NASB)

If you have been too busy to slow down and see God's free gift, it is time for you to stop and smell the best rose of all. The best thing in life is a right relationship with God through Jesus Christ and it is free. 

The Light of God's Glory 6-21-21

It has been hot lately. Years ago I figured out a trick to help deal with the extreme heat. Once the temperature gets into the 90's and the sun is out, our bodies actually stay cooler if we wear a light colored long sleeved shirt. A large wide brimmed hat that shades our head and shoulders is also helpful. The sun is so powerful that we need to be shielded from it.

The bright sun has the power to burn our skin, but it also has the power to burn our eyes. We cannot look directly into it without doing severe damage to our sight. The light of the sun is powerful, but so is the light of God. Jesus told us in John 9:5, "As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." (NKJV).

Jesus is God. He is the creator. In fact, he invented light. “Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light.” (Genesis 1:3 NKJV) If he had not set aside so much of his glory when he became a man, he would have blinded us with his magnificence. Three of the disciples were able to see a bit more of Christ's glory at the Mount of Transfiguration. “And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.” (Matthew 17:2 NASB)

This amazing event of transfiguration gave them a sample of how much more glorious our Lord was before leaving much of his glory behind in heaven. Philippians chapter 2 explains how Jesus emptied himself of so much of that glory before coming to earth. Verses 6-7 tell us, “who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” (NASB) Instead of grasping his full glory and holding on to it, Jesus Christ let go of so much of it as he came to this earth as a man. Had he not done so, no man could have stood before his full glory and lived.

Moses was warned: “But He said, "You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!" Then the LORD said, "Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock; and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by.” (Exodus 33:20-22 NASB)

Moses got to see more of God's glory than we could imagine, but God protected him from the full force of that glory. Had Moses seen all of God's glory he could not have lived through the experience. Jesus is God and it was merciful of him to decide not to grasp all that glory before he came to earth as a man.

Still there was something that Jesus did hold on to when he came into this world from heaven. Although he emptied himself of so much, he stayed filled with grace and truth. “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14 NASB) Not only did he still have grace and truth, but he stayed full of grace and truth. Although he emptied himself of much of his glory so that mankind would not die in his presence, he stayed full of grace and truth.

That grace led him to die for our sins. The truth is that the benefits of that grace are only for those who believe on him. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16. 

Left Out and Lonely 6-10-21

Everyone-the-same-all-unique Clip Art

Have you ever felt lonely in a crowded room? I got some great insight into loneliness when I asked the kids during children's church about the subject. One young boy said that loneliness was “feeling left out.” As I began to reflect on what he said, I thought that his description was the most accurate that I had ever heard.

I remember when I was single and lived alone. I had a lot of friends, but really enjoyed my “alone time.” I did not feel lonely. Part of the reason was that I did not feel left out. I could be around other people any time that I chose to.

I also remember my first day of college. I grew up in a small rural school where I knew almost everyone. When I walked into college I had to go to classes where I knew no one. Until I got to know new people, I felt very left out. It was very lonely.

I recently preached through the last chapter of II Timothy. Paul wrote this letter from prison. In such a place we can understand why he would feel alone. As we read what he wrote, however, we realize that he had reason to feel left out as well. In verse 16 of ch 4, he says, “At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them.” (NASB) When no one supports us and deserts us, we can feel very left out.

I have been to numerous burials with family members this spring. As we gathered together and hugged, I did not feel left out at all. Friends and family were a comfort to overcome the loneliness of losing a loved one. But as we left the cemetery, the bodies and ashes of loved ones were left behind. Once family is gone, a cemetery can be a very lonely place.

After Mom's graveside service, we knew her body would be placed in the ground next to the body of Dad. If her future were limited to that casket within a concrete vault next to Dad's concrete vault, then her future would truly be lonely. She has been left out of the rest of our lives.

In many ways, she already felt some of that even before she died. Last year with Covid restrictions she was already left out of so much that the rest of us were able to do. We tried to help her loneliness by calling her and visiting her outside her windows and patio door. Now she is left out of our lives in a more dramatic way.

Although she is left out of our lives, she is not alone. She is not left out of God's presence. Because of her trust in Christ, she could look forward to the promise of II Corinthians 5:8 that says, “we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.” (NASB) When we trust Jesus as our Lord and Savior, he does not leave us out, so we do not have to worry about eternal loneliness. He promises, "All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” (John 6:37 NASB) 

I Will Weep- I Have Joy 5-24-21

My mom recently passed away. I have been experiencing a variety of emotions that I am not even able to understand. I found great joy as I looked through old photographs of Mom and had wonderful memories flood into my mind. Then I would have sadness as I realized I could not call my mom on the phone or just randomly stop in to see her. I would smile as I saw pictures of her smile, but than I would feel sad as I realized I could no longer see that smile in real life. I would typically spend a great deal of time trying to come up with ideas for a Christmas gift that Mom would enjoy. Suddenly I realized that we will not be spending Christmas with Mom this year. Then I would remember all those wonderful times when we were together and there would be joy mixed with sadness.

I have to admit, that I have not really focused on “dealing” with my emotions. Instead I have just let them come. I understand that they are natural and as long as they are not incapacitating me or interfering with my relationship with others, then there is nothing wrong with having emotion. Even Jesus wept. It is significant to note that his weeping occurred after his friend Lazarus had passed away and he saw his friend's sister and others grieving over that death. Jesus cares about our grief and understands what it is like to lose someone we care about.

A Bible verse that keeps passing through my mind is I Thessalonians 4:13. It says, “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.” (NKJV) That verse does not say that those with hope do not sorrow. It does however show that our sorrow is different than that of those without hope.

I serve the Lord Jesus Christ- the same one who cared about Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha. My mom served him as well. Jesus not only came to comfort Mary and Martha, but he actually rose Lazarus from the dead. He has promised to do the same thing for my mom some day because she believed on him. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” 1Thessalonians 4:16 promises, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:”

I am grieving the loss of my mom, but I am not grieving without hope. I know the promises of God. I know that just as Lazarus rose from the dead- and so did Jesus Christ- my mom and all others who believe on Jesus Christ as their Lord and savior will live again some day.

I have grief because I miss my mom, but I also have joy because I know she no longer suffers. Further I do not fear that she will have eternal suffering. Instead she has the promise of eternal life. Therefore I can have joy mixed with my sorrow.

Digging For Great Treasure 5-9-21

Pirate Treasure Chest With Coins Clip Art

As I looked across the vacant lot across the road from our home, I saw someone digging in the grass with a small garden spade. Since it is spring time, I thought she might be planting something. As I approached she told me she was digging for metal. She had recently purchased a metal detector. The vacant lot was near the the location where a church used to stand, so there was potential for coins or old keys to found in that location.

Soon my boys came over and they were excited about the potential of buried treasure. I was more interested in the metal detector's ability to locate our water shut off valve. Finding that would be worth more to me than old coins. The lady told me she would see if she could find it.

I left but when I came back my wife was talking to our new friend, and our boys had a bunch of holes dug in our yard. The valve had not been located, but our boys were as excited as if they had eaten a whole bag full of candy. The potential of finding something valuable had stimulated their interest.

Of course different people find value in different things. Finding the water valve would have gotten me excited. Fortunately we have not had to use it, but it would be nice to know where it is in case it was ever needed. The boys were excited about finding some old tools buried in our yard. Others would be happy finding jewelry or coins.

Some of the best gems are not buried in the ground. They are found by opening the Word of God. Psalm 119:162 says, “I rejoice at Thy word, As one who finds great spoil.” (NASB) Those who love to read have realized the treasures that can be found within the pages of a good book. The Bible is a book that was given to us by the creator of the universe. He guided the human authors so they could tell us what He wanted us to know. “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (II Timothy 3:16-17 NASB)

It was exciting for my boys to find the old tools in the yard, but the rusty drill bit and chisel were of little financial value. God's word however is profitable- not for financial worth, but for equipping us to do what is good.

One of the highlights for our family is the Monday night Bible study. We gather at the church with others and dig into God's word. As we do so, we find many treasures of truth that both encourage us and help us to better serve our Lord and savior. Don't just read God's word, dig into it and find great spoils of treasure. “Therefore I love Thy commandments Above gold, yes, above fine gold.”

(Psalm 119:127 NASB) 

God Gave Much For Peace 4-25-21

                                                  Thug Clip Art

When I was a kid my dad advised me to fight back against a bully. I was not afraid of the bully, but I did not want to hurt him, so I did not want to fight back. I just wanted peace. I tried to ignore him. I tried to appease him. Finally there was a small physical altercation and then there was peace. We actually became friends after that.

I am glad that I first gave peace a chance. Romans 12:18 says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” (NASB) In other words, if there is a lack of peace make sure it is not your fault. Psalm 120 is a song about wanting peace but the opponent wanting war. Such a situation can be very frustrating.

Psalm 120:1 (A Song of Ascents.) In my trouble I cried to the LORD, And He answered me.

2 Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips, From a deceitful tongue.

3 What shall be given to you, and what more shall be done to you, You deceitful tongue?

4 Sharp arrows of the warrior, With the burning coals of the broom tree.

5 Woe is me, for I sojourn in Meshech, For I dwell among the tents of Kedar!

6 Too long has my soul had its dwelling With those who hate peace.

7 I am for peace, but when I speak, They are for war. (NASB)

The Psalmist makes it clear that he wants peace, but they want war. He has tried for peace but they do not want peace. Instead they keep lying. Finally in vs 3, he asks what can be given to them and what more can he do? That is a question we should all ask when seeking peace. Romans 12:18 makes it clear that a lack of peace should not be our fault. We should do what we can for peace without compromising Biblical truth. Finally he realizes that the sharp arrows and burning coals are all that can be given. There are times that justice demands a firm response.

Though we should not be hasty in our use of self defense, there are times when it is necessary. But before we jump to defending ourselves, we should look at the example of Jesus Christ.

All of humanity had lost peace with God through sin, yet Christ humbled himself and left heaven to be born as a man. That was a great gesture of peace. He then went even further. He actually gave His life for those who were not at peace with Him as he died on the cross. He then rose from the dead showing His amazing power, but also extending an offer of peace. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.

Still, many still rejected that offer of peace and continued to lie about Christ. He has done so much to reach out to them and to appease them, but if they do not accept His peace offer, they will have to face worse than sharp arrows and burning coals. They will have to face fire for eternity. Revelation 20:15 warns, “And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (NASB)

The good news is that we can all have peace with God. He has done all He can to make peace with us- including sending His son to die for our sins to satisfy His justice. If we have the faith to believe in Him as our Lord and Savior, then we have peace. “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Romans 5:1 NASB). If there is a lack of peace between God and us, it is not His fault. Do all you can to make peace with Him, by placing your faith in Jesus Christ. 

Be Gentle With That Calf 2-11-21