Fiction Evidenced As Reality


What is your greatest fear?  How does it affect you?  Do you get a physical reaction or just a mental tornado upsetting the organization in your mind?  Is your greatest fear something you can control?  Is the lack of control your greatest fear?

Most times we fear because of the “unknown factors” which lie before us.  We look at our circumstances, calculate our steps and realize that there are factors which do not enter into the equation.  We begin to wonder what those factors are and how they will work out.  We then allow our minds to wander adding another unknown factor which exponentially increases our fears, until the point where we have no control, including control of our thoughts.

It was once said that we have nothing to fear but fear itself.  Although I understand the thought process behind this and the times in which it was said, I think that we need to go one step further with that statement.  I believe, there is nothing to fear.  This is not the same thing as being afraid.  There are times in our lives, when being afraid of something may save our lives.  When we are caught in a burning house, it is being afraid of dying that drives us to try and escape it.  When we are caught in the under tow, being sucked out into the middle of the ocean, it is being afraid that may keep us afloat.

Being afraid of something and fearing are very different.  Being afraid keeps us alive.  Having fear kills us slowly.  When we fear, we create an environment where our minds are no longer in control of our thoughts and many times a physical reaction occurs.  Yesterday was one of those days.

I woke up yesterday and felt very stressed out.  Over the last three weeks, my schedule has been, what some would call…INSANE!  Working a full time job, where we have been short staffed with more work coming in, helping a friend’s church stay afloat, spending time with my wife and kids and trying to spend more time with God has created an atomic explosion in my mind.  Yesterday was the fall out.

In previous blogs, I shared with you my struggle with Generalized Anxiety Disorder.  However, even though I suffer with this, there are days, like yesterday, where even medication won’t help.  Part of my therapy to combat this “fallout” is to spend time in prayer, read Scripture and write.  If any one of those components is missing, the fallout wins and depression begins to set itself into place.

Here is where fear takes root.  Depression is just one way that fear solidifies itself and it is very difficult to get rid of it.  Have you ever tried to take out a weed that was in the ground for a long time?  The weed spreads out its roots over a vast area.  This way, when the gardener comes, he/she struggles to pull it out of the ground.  Sometimes the week breaks at ground level and cannot be pulled any further.  The gardener then has two choices.  Choice #1 is to wait it out and then try to pull it out again with brut force.  However with this choice, the weed must grow again.  With fear, we may do things to pull it out by brut force but many times, the root of the issue is still there.  When we choose this method, we allow the fear to reinstate itself and take further root in our lives.  There is another choice.

Choice #2 is a bit more drastic but effective.  If the gardener chooses the wise choice, he/she will get a digging tool and begin the process of ensuring that all of the weed plant, with its roots, is permanently removed.  With this method, the gardener will disturb the entire area in an effort to find out the “root cause”.  The gardener will dig up as much as they can in order to ensure that the weed does not return.  When we deal with fear properly, we must disturb other areas of our lives.  The digging up of past issues, past hurts or past relationships causes us to shuffle ideas and question our motivations.  It forces us to rethink ideals and theologies we have learned.  It upsets all that we believe, the question is can we recover from that disturbance?

Just like the ground, healing takes time.  In the Old Testament, God tells Israel to plant and sow for 6 years.  On the 7th year, let the ground rest from its work.  There are many theologies concerning this but from a practical level, it gave the ground one year to heal.

Sometimes, we need to do the same thing.  There are times we need to step away from the busyness of life and allow ourselves to heal.  Maybe, we need to let go of horrible past relationships or forgive someone who has hurt us.  In some cases, it may be us that needs to ask for forgiveness from someone we hurt.  Whatever it is, don’t let fear dismantle the healing process.

Fear is nothing more than Fiction Evidenced As Reality.  It doesn’t exist.  It is a false representation of the reality of a hurting soul.  Fear is the tool Satan uses to keep us where we are so that we do not cry out to the loving Good Shepherd, who is ready to rescue us.  Fear is just as bad as quotes that people say is in Scripture.

Have you ever heard, “Time heals all wounds”?  It’s in the Bible, right?  There is nothing further from the truth.  This saying is a way for us, as human beings, to pull out the weed of fear and leave its roots in place.  Time does not heal, it just passes.

Many have tried to say it is a Psalm or Proverb.  It isn’t.  What the Scripture does say is in Psalm 147:

2The LORD builds up Jerusalem; He gathers the outcasts of Israel. 3He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds. 4He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them.…

New American Standard Bible

It is the Lord who heals the brokenhearted.  It is the Lord who heals their wounds.  It is the Lord who counts the stars and names them all.  It is the Lord who can get rid of whatever is keeping you back from coming to Him.

If you are hurting, He knows.  If you are questioning, He has answers.  If you are crying, he is crying with you.  Two of the greatest words ever written were when Jesus approaches the grave of Lazarus.

John 11:35 says, “Jesus wept.”  It was an incredible proclamation.  Jesus knew Lazarus was going to die.  Jesus knew He was going to raise him from the dead.  So why did Jesus weep?  Simply to show he was 100% human.  Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead to show He was 100% God.  Isn’t that an encouragement for us today?  Think about that for a moment.  Jesus felt what we feel.  He understood what it was like to lose someone.  He understands what it is like to hurt.  And in all of that experience, He never allowed fear to persuade him.  He never allowed the fiction that Satan feeds our minds to take root in His own.

If you are hurting, if you are living in fear, there is someone who understands.  Jesus Christ knows what you are going through, yet desires for you and I to tell Him.  It is Jesus Christ who can heal you.  He can remove the roots of the weed that so easily entangles you.  Only Jesus Christ can take all of our fear, all of our anxiety and use it for His glory and His purposes.

If you don’t know who Jesus Christ is, He is the One who left heaven to come to earth as a baby.  He lived a human life, while displaying His God nature.  He allowed Himself to be beaten and tortured.  He allowed Himself to be put on public display, naked and gave His life in the most horrific way of His time, by being crucified.  But it didn’t end there.  After He cried out in a voice, “It is finished”, he was buried and on the 3rd day, rose from the dead.  HE IS ALIVE!  He is calling out to you, desiring for you to let Him rescue you.

No matter your hurt.  No matter your pain.  Jesus Christ can take it from you.  Just cry out to Him and ask Him to rescue you.  He will.  Let Him into your life and give you the life He always wanted for you.  Believe in Him, cry out to Him and be healed by Him.  Don’t let fear stop you from meeting the only One who can save you, Jesus Christ.

God bless and encourage someone today.

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Driving, Dopiness and Diapers – The Greatest Life Series Part 4


There is an old Jewish saying that goes something like this, “Man makes his plans and God laughs”.  Many times our lives feel like this.  We create our short and long term plans.  What will we do in five years?  What about ten years?  How many children will we have?  Where do we want to live?  What will we do when we retire?  Will we be able to retire?  We dream, plan and purpose ourselves toward whatever goals we have for ourselves and our families.

When I was younger, I watched a television show called “The A-Team”.  It was a program of wrongly accused, on-the-run military convicts who fought for the side of good, while trying to discover why they were framed for their crimes.  The leader, Hannibal Smith, made the plans for his team in each episode.  In almost every episode, when his plans worked, he lit a cigar, smiled and said, “I love it when a plan comes together.”  Decidedly, when our plans work out to our benefit, we light our figurate cigar, smile, pat ourselves on the back and say, “I love it when my plan works out.”  But what about those who make plans and it doesn’t work out for them?

This past year has been one gigantic roller coaster ride, filled with ups and downs.  Some have been fun, while others not so much.  I have experienced the gamut from exhilarating joy to unspeakable sorrow.  If ever there was a year to make me think and reflect on life, this was that year.

Over the past year, I had been making plans for various things.  I desired to start planning to vacation with my wife for a couple of days in Bermuda for our 20th wedding anniversary next year.  I also had begun making plans on what will happen when I retire.  How would we live?  Where would we live?  How would this affect our boys?  The plans I was making were simple, to live our lives quietly doing the things we want to do while living a relaxed life.  Sounds good, right?  Well, God decided to laugh at my plans.

This year was a time of bewilderment, excitement and fear.  Bewilderment because my wife was expecting our 3rd child.  Excitement because my wife was expecting our 3rd child.  Fear because my wife was expecting our 3rd child.  Why would God allow this?  What about my plans for retirement?  How about my plans for our 20th anniversary?  How would this fit together?  It seemed all of my plans had just been whisked away, erased from the “book of my future”.

You see, my family is what some would call “older”.  My eldest, is sixteen and is a junior in high school.  He has been asking me when he will be taking his driving permit test.  He is eager to get out there and discover what the world is like.  (Very much like me when I was his age.)  To him, it doesn’t matter if we have the budget for another car, he just wants to drive so that he will “be free” from being in the house all the time.

My 2nd child is eleven getting ready to enter junior high school.  He is discovering the joys of being involved in his school.  At the same time, he also does things that boggle the human mind.  His mind is being pulled in many directions so he has a tendency to “forget” his chores or homework.  Things we tell him will be forgotten almost instantaneously.  What is ironic about this is that his friends are the exact same way.  It’s like aliens came down, sucked out all the gray matter between their ears and placed an auto erase function for when a parent speaks.  I call this the “dopey” stage of life.

With all of this going on, God decided it was time for another child to enter our world.  We had found out last year that my wife was expecting our 3rd child.  I had noticed that my wife had a bizarre craving, lemons.  She had always loved making lemon water, but this time was different.  One evening, she had cut a lemon in half and started to enjoy the juices directly from the fruit.  This automatically triggered a question because she had this same behavior when she was pregnant with our eldest son.  A few nights later, at 4:oo A.M., my wife took a pregnancy test and found out she was pregnant.

This wasn’t in our plans.  We had our two boys and life was going well for us.  Now what was going to happen?  (Isn’t that a funny question?  We are raising 2 boys and yet, I asked myself this very question.  It’s not like I don’t know how to change a diaper…)  Not only were we dealing with the challenges of being a parent of a teenager and the dopiness of a pre-teen, but now, we were going to lose sleep and have to deal with this all over again.  On March 13, 2014, our third son was born.  Let the diaper changing begin…..again!

With all of this happening at once, my mindset wasn’t quite right.  I had looked at my present and based on a future that had not occurred yet.  My past was set, my present known and my future a complete mystery.  This placed in me a very uncomfortable feeling.  For those that know me personally, they know that I like control.  I love the rush of planning and executing those plans.  The exhilaration of seeing my plans coming to fruition cannot be completely explained in words.  I am a control freak.  I despise the unknown, especially the unknown future.

My mind had become not only confused but anxiety ridden.  “I’m a lot older than when the other two were born.  How are we going to survive this?  How are we going to be able to afford the diapers and formula?”  These questions riddled my mind and boggled my senses.  I had allowed my fears and anxiety to overtake the realization that we had done this twice before.  This was familiar ground.  Why was I so confused and anxious?  The answer was simple.  I allowed the sin called “pride” into my life.

Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.” (NASB)

1 John 2:16 says, “For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – comes not from the Father but from the world.” (NIV)

Little did I realize that pride had snuck its way into my life and the trail of destruction it brings was coming.  The questions I had raised were not real.  I had looked at my circumstances, my dreams and goals and decided that life was chaotic and order-less.  Because pride entered my mind, my body and spirit followed.  I let my devotions and prayer time lack.  I concentrated on my fears rather than my Father.

As fear and anxiety was trying to control me, I was reminded of these two passages which clearly show that God is in control and knows what He is doing:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” – Philippians 4:6 (NIV)

“’For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” – Jeremiah 29:11

Was God going to let me down?  No.  Was God going to forget me?  Certainly not.  Was God going to supply all my needs as He sees them?  Absolutely and a resounding yes.  The proof of this is what happened in the months to come before my wife gave birth.

As we had decided not to have any more children, we had gotten rid of everything.  Crib, gone.  Clothes, donated.  Toys, trash.  We thought to ourselves, we don’t need these anymore so why keep them.  The only item that we did not get rid of was a stroller that we had bought when my eldest son was born.  Again, fear and pride tried to take over.  This time, I refused them access to my life.  God was in control and knows what He is doing.

Before my wife went into labor, she was surprised with a baby shower.  This was the first time she was actually surprised.  (Every other time, she figured things out.)  Out of that party, all our needs were met.  We were supplied with diapers, formula, clothes and any other baby item you can think of.  In fact, we were overwhelmed with the assortment of baby items we were given.

It has been nine months since Nathan was born and all of our needs continue to be met.  Formula and diapers have been fully paid for.  God is so good to us and He showed us that time does not matter for Him.  When He says He is going to do something great, He does it and overflows our life cup with His blessings.

Our lives are not our own.  We set goals, dream of our future, but ultimately God is in control and what His plans are for us are better than the ones we create.  To have our “greatest life”, we need to submit to His authority, ask for His goals for us and live the lives He has determined in advance for us to live.  His plans are there to enhance our lives, not hurt them.  His goal is to share His Son with the world.  What is better than watching someone come to the realization that they are a sinner, saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ?  The greater the sinner, the greater the worshipper once saved!

Don’t do what I did.  Learn from my mistakes and errors.  Pride led me to be a control freak which led me to fear and anxiety.  Salvation led me to the cross which led me to eternal life, joy and peace.  As a sinner saved by Jesus Christ, I am still prone to allow pride to take over.  However, our minds are renewed by reading Scripture and spending time with our God and Father.  This then will lead us to be able to say to pride, “Away from me Satan.”

Concentrate on the cross and life will be filled with joy and happiness even within the trials and tribulations.  This life is temporary and short.  Why waste our time worrying about the future?  Let’s all set our eyes on Christ and what He has done.  His work is eternal, ours temporal.  His promises are right and true.  Our words are filled with sin and pride.  When we focus on what Christ has done and what He has planned for us, we will forsake our own thoughts, goals and dreams and take His on.  Once we do that, life becomes an adventure instead of a burden.  Make a decision today not to worry about “Driving, Dopiness and Diapers”.  Allow your thinking to focus on our “Daddy” who loves and cares for us, even when we decide to sin.  He knows what He is doing.  He did create the entire universe.  I think He has a handle on our problems.

God bless and encourage someone today.

The Irrevocable Promise…


When you were a child, did you ever make a promise?  Did you say, “If you do this or that, I promise to repay you”?  Maybe you said to your parents, “I promise to clean my room”, even though it was just because you wanted to go out with your friends.

This habit typically continues in our adult life as well.  We promise our bosses to do better, when they say we aren’t doing a good job.  We make promises to God in fear that He might discipline us so harshly that we may not be able to handle it.

The human condition is one that protects itself from danger.  It is a condition that we inherit from our parents.  In fact, if you watch how children interact, you will find out that as soon as they are able to communicate in sentences, they will say, “I promise….PLEASE” for almost everything just to get what they want. So how does God feel about promises?  Does God promise us things just for His wants?

Romans 11:25-32 speak about promises that God made that are considered irrevocable.  This basically means that no matter what people think or what they do, these promises do not and will not change.  Here is the passage:

I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:

‘The deliverer will come from Zion;
    he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.
 And this is my covenant with them
    when I take away their sins.’

As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.  Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.”

Why would Paul write to the church in Rome about Israel?  At that time, the Gentile believers were being inundated with various teachings.  One of those teachings was about circumcision.  There was a group of Jewish believers that taught circumcision was required for salvation.  Another group taught that the time of the Jews salvation was over and only Gentiles could be saved.  Yet another group taught to follow the teachers rather than the Scriptures.  All of this caused confusion and tension between various believers.

Paul was not only taught by Gamaliel (still considered to be the wisest of all rabbis), but was also a Roman citizen.  Paul had gone to Rome to spread the Gospel.  As Paul understood Roman law as well as the Mosaic laws, he was in the best position settle this argument.

He starts out by mentioning that no one should be ignorant on this subject.  Everyone needs to understand what he was about to teach.  Paul wanted to ensure all people had a clear, cut understanding of the position of both Israelites and Gentiles.

Israel has been hardened to the Gospel “for a time”, not forever.  One day, Israel will recognize her Messiah and return to Him.  When will this happen?  After the last Gentile becomes a believer.

“Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.” – Romans 11:26a

There will come a time when Gentiles will no longer become believers.  Only God knows how many and we must recognize that our time is short.  Therefore, it is essential for all of us to share Christ with those who haven’t heard yet.  We know from Scripture that there will be representation from “every nation and language”and that the number of those people cannot be counted by man.  However, there are a specific number of Gentiles that will be saved.  Once that occurs, Israel’s eyes will be cleared and she will understand who her Messiah really is.

What I found interesting in this passage was the fact Paul says, “…for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable”.  WHAT A PROMISE!  No matter what we think or do, God’s gifts cannot be returned, destroyed or forgotten.  They are irrevocable!  But it gets even better.

Paul explains that God allows the evil in this world to happen because He desires to show His mercy.  “Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their (Israel’s) disobedience, so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you.  For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy n them all.”

When we sin, we prove this Scripture over and over again.  Is this to say we should continue in sin?  Absolutely not!  In fact, understanding this and taking it to heart should draw us closer to the Scripture and away from sin.  In fact, when we see the sin happening around the world, we should rejoice because God is showing His mercy by not annihilating everyone of us.

One day Israel will recognize who their Savior is and we as Gentiles should not think of ourselves any more highly than them.  We should desire to share the Gospel with those of Abraham’s decent as to complete the task we have been given…to share the Gospel with everyone.

Remember, God’s promises are irrevocable.  They can never be changed.  God bless and encourage someone today.

Don’t Be an Ostrich, Be an Eagle


It was once widely thought that the ostrich would bury their heads in the sand when frightened because they cannot fly.  This belief was brought on by Pliny the Elder who wrote about an ostrich burying it’s head in a bush.  However, this was not true.  In fact ostriches are not timid creatures.  They will attack when they feel threatened.  Ostriches also have a ‘mean’ look about them when they are confronted or threatened.  In some ways, ostriches cannot be trusted.

Eagles, on the other hand, are birds of flight.  They soar high above the mountain tops, can see with their God-given vision.  Eagles have been known to see mice on the ground during a flight so high that cars appear to be the size of mice.  They place their eggs among the clefts of the rocks to protect them.  The baby eagles may not like where they are, but it is for their protection.  When a baby eagle needs to fly, the eagle takes their young, flies high above the mountain tops and just lets go.  If the mother eagle sees their young cannot fly yet, they swoop down, catch their young and try again another time.  The baby eagle is fearful but knows the mother eagle will not let them die.

The same can be held true of Jeremiah the prophet.  As I have been reading thorough this book of the Bible, I have noticed some interesting points, I never took notice of before.  In Chapter 38, Jeremiah had the job of bringing bad news to the king of Judah.  God told Jeremiah that Judah would be handed over to the king of Babylon.  The officials of the king who heard this immediately took Jeremiah and placed him in an empty, muddy cistern.

Do you think Jeremiah liked where he was at that time?  For me, I would have been so angry that screaming and cursing could not express my emotions toward those who did this to me.  Although there is an indication that Jeremiah didn’t like his situation, he also knew that God had allowed him to be placed their.

One of the officials told the king what had happened to Jeremiah and what a wicked act it was that the king ordered Jeremiah to be taken out of the cistern and placed under house arrest.

Later on, the king of Judah secretly asks Jeremiah to explain what God had told him.  As Jeremiah is counseling the king, he says, “They will not hand you over.  Obey the Lord by doing what I tell you.  Then it will go well with you, and your life will be spared.  But if you refuse to surrender, this is what the Lord has revealed to me: All the women left in the palace of the king of Judah will be brought out to the king of Babylon…”

The king of Judah was given a choice.  Obey God and live or disobey God and die.  By today’s standards it seems like a simple choice.  Most of us may even think we would choose to obey because we fear death.  Very few people would think they would choose death because of their disobedience.  However, later on, many of the officials that Jeremiah had spoken with decided to not listen.  They decided to bury their heads in the sand instead of soaring above with God.

Scripture says that when we are obeying God’s will for us, we will soar like eagles.  We will be able to see what we need, when we need it and not wonder Who is in control.  Our eyes will be opened to see what is happening around us and God will allow us to see our sustenance in ways we could never do on our own.

When we disobey God, we decided to bury our heads in the sand or attack because we feel threatened.  Jesus said, “You will be hated because of me.”  Those who don’t like what Scripture says have a tendency to lash out against those who believe.  They hate their sin being exposed for what it is.  How do I know this, because I get nauseous when my sin is exposed.  I physically and emotionally hurt when God reveals that sin in my life is stopping me from the next assignment He has for my life.  Hating what is true and right is the natural reaction because we are sinful human beings.

Our world is filled with people who need to hear about the love and mission of Jesus Christ.  They need to hear that Jesus willingly left heaven, had a real earthly life, was tortured and died a real death but also is really physically living today.  We have the authority, through Jesus Christ, to lead others to the Creator of all things.  We have the honor of bringing this message of hope, love and forgiveness to a sinful and dying world.

Gut check.  How are we doing with that?  Are we sharing the love of Christ in our words  and deeds?  Do we stop when someone is hurting or hungry and feed them both physically and spiritually?  Or do we think it is someone else’s job?

Someone once told me that if I didn’t even consider adopting a child, don’t even attempt to share the love of Jesus with them.  They refused to believe God loved them because of another child’s plight.  Although, they may have been mislead to some degree, there is a bit of truth within that statement.  People will only listen to the message of Christ, when they see the children of God doing what we have been called to do.  Are we feeding the hungry?  Are we taking care of the poor?  Are we consoling the widows and those who are hurting?

Until we decide to take our heads out of the sand, people won’t listen.  When we obey God and His commands to live like we preach, only then will we soar like eagles.  This week, let’s work on living a Godly life rather than just speaking about it.  I will ask myself this question, “What do I need to change in order to live like I preach?”  What will you do to change?  For me I will have to lessen my time on the computer and TV.  This way my mind is fresh and my eyes keen to see who needs help.  Only when we sacrifice something important to us, will we see what God has in store for our lives.

Share your stories with me of how God is working to change others through you.  Don’t bury your heads in the sand, soar like an eagle.  God bless and encourage someone today.

The Top 5 Gifts….(and how we treat them?)


Have you ever received a gift that you absolutely loved?  For a moment, I want you to really think about this gift.  How did it make you feel?  Joyous?  Happy?  How did you feel about the gift-giver?  Thankful?  Loved?  Well, there are 5 gifts that we have been given.  Here they are in no order of importance:

  1. Marriage
  2. Children
  3. Money
  4. Life
  5. Salvation

I am certain you can think of others, I know I can.  However, I have found that the above five mentioned can bring joy and happiness.  I also realize that these same gifts can be looked upon as a burden.  So, let’s go through each of them and see why they are the top 5 gifts and how we should treat them.

Marriage

Marriage was given to us by God.  We know this from Genesis.  God made Adam.  God told Adam to name all the animals.  God was not pleased as there was no suitable helper for Adam.  God put Adam into a deep sleep, did a bit of surgery and made Eve.  God presented Eve to Adam.  Adam felt deep joy and happiness.  He also felt a sense of thankfulness to God.  God had given Adam one of the most greatest gifts of his time, marriage.

When people get married today, a lot of times, we say the vows but don’t fully understand what they mean.  When we say “in sickness and in health”, we rarely ever think sickness.  When we say “for richer or poorer”, we rarely ever think we will be poor.  When we say “till death do us part”, we think that because of differences, divorce is okay.  We treat the gift as if it is just another part of life.  We tend to forget the Gift-giver.

God wants marriage to be a unity between a man and a woman for the purpose of showing how much God loves us.  Did you know that the relationship between the church and Christ is compared to marriage?  If marriage is important enough that God would allow Christ to be the groom and the church, the bride, then obviously it is important enough that we should treat it with not just respect but with holiness.  Marriage is a gift worth fighting for.

Children

Psalm 127:3 Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward. (NASB)

Children are not a burden, they are a gift.  Did you know that children play such an important part in the life of Christ that when the disciples tried to keep them away, Jesus said, “Let the little children come.”  He then proceeded to talk about how if we have the faith of a child, we please God.  We don’t need a lot of faith, only what God gives to us at the time of salvation.

Children are considered sacred as well.  Christ warned that if anyone leads a child astray it would be better to be buried at the deepest part of the sea or never to be born at all.  Jesus loved children.  He loved their innocence.  He loved their commitment.  He loved how they wanted to spend time with their parents.  Children love unconditionally.  Children are a gift worth fighting for.

Money

How many times does the Bible talk about money?  How many times does the Bible talk about heaven?  I’ll answer this one for you.  The Bible talks more about money and hell than heaven, salvation and love.  Money is a vital part of life and God decided to teach us a bit about ourselves regarding money.

Did you ever hear, “Money is the root of all evil?”  Some say this comes from Scripture.  However, this is not the actual statement and I believe it is a twist that Satan came up with.  The real verse says, “Money is a root of all kinds of evil.”  It is only a root.  If you dig up one root of a tree, it will still survive.  There are many other areas of life that are roots of evil, money may be just one of them.  However, it isn’t money this passage is talking about but rather the attitude towards money.

Many times in the Old Testament, God rejected the sacrifices (money and other items) not because of the gift but because of the attitude of the gift-giver.  Think about this for a moment.  Abel’s (Adam and Eve’s son) gave a gift that was pleasing to the Lord.  While his brother Cain’s gift was not pleasing to the Lord.  Why?  Abel gave the best of the best to God, while Cain only gave the left-overs.

How we treat money says volumes on what we think about God.  If we give from the top, we show God that He is important in our lives.  We say, “God thank you for the gift of money.  You allowed me this gift so I want to give back to you as a thankful offering.”  When we give out of our left-overs, we say, “God you are not important enough.  I work for it so I’ll give you what I want”.

Life

From the time we are born, to the time we die, the breath of God is in our lungs.  God gave to us the gift of life.  So how do we treat it?  Most times, we eat till we are over-filled, drink until we are drunk and sit around without thinking of others first.

I have a friend who is sick and realizes that although it is better to be with God, he still wants to live.  He has said, “As long as there is breath in me, I will praise God.”  Our lives need to be pleasing to God.  So how do we do this?

What I am about to say is an area that God is currently working on in my life.  I don’t exercise.  I don’t eat right.  I sometimes want to sit around and do nothing.  Therefore, when I am like this, I am living in sin.

God wants all of us to treat our bodies as a gift.  When we treat our bodies as a gift, our lives become a gift.  We have the energy to help others.  We have the motivation to lead others to Christ.  We desire to do what we can for His Kingdom.  Conversely, when we do as I have been doing, we don’t want to help others.  We have little motivation to do anything, so we sit around, watch T.V. and are tired all of the time.  So here is my prayer request.  Please pray that I will change in order to glorify God with my body.  I desire to be the living sacrifice He desires me to be.

Salvation

There is life after death.  However, it will be either a life of eternal joy and contentment or a life of despair and regret.  We will either go to heaven or hell, but we will go somewhere.  So how do we guarantee that we will go to either heaven or hell?

To go to hell, do this.  Absolutely nothing!  The minute we were conceived we were considered separate and apart from God.  We were created with sin as our core.  We are not inherently good, but we are inherently evil.  How do we know this?  Do you have to teach children to be bad?  No, but we always have to teach them to be good.  Think about teenagers.  I have one.  I never have to teach him how to be bad.  When he decides that I am wrong and he is right (and I know that I am right in this case), he rebels.  He decided to act against what is right.  So I discipline him to correct his ways to be good.  As we are inherently evil, we inherently deserve hell.

So what about heaven?  It is simple.  If you are reading this and do not know Christ as a personal loving Savior, then God is “wooing” you into a relationship with Him.  The Bible is very clear.  Salvation can only be given by God through Jesus Christ.  It is not something to be earned, but a gift given to us.

Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.  No one comes to the Father, except through Me.”  Asking Jesus to take over your life and be in the driver’s seat is the only way we will go to heaven.  It is Jesus and Jesus only.

So, how did you do?  How do you treat these gifts?  I ask this because how we treat these gifts determines how much we love the Gift-giver.  Tomorrow, I will discuss what happens when we reject each of these gifts.

God bless and encourage someone today.

On a Side Note….


Today was a crazy day.  I am in the middle of re-constructing my basement and spent 8 hours trying to finish some of the major work.  So today, I will share a story rather than my usual writings.

There were two men who had been friends for years.  When they were young, they played ball, climbed trees and played games together.  As they got older they played soccer.  One was a defender, the other a goalie.  Together, they were unstoppable.

When they graduated high school, they went off to different colleges.  One was studying Physics, while the other studied Biology.  Although they were in different places, they kept in touch.  Each week, they would call each other to see how things were doing.  They talked about their girlfriends, the parties and the curriculum.  They debated various theories but always ended their conversation on a positive note.

One day, an angel came to one of the friends and said, “I have a ticket to heaven for you.  All you have to do is take it and keep it safe.  When the time comes that you die, you will need this ticket to enter heaven.  Would you like this ticket?”  The man thought for a moment and said, “Absolutely.  I would love to be the keeper of this ticket.  I will take care of it and hold onto it even as I face death.”  The angel gave him the ticket and then suddenly disappeared.

This ticket was weird looking.  It has been folded in a specific way and the man felt that he should keep it as it was given to him.  He placed it in a special holder that he held close to his heart.  Nothing was going to ruin this ticket.

A couple of years later, both men had gathered at the local bar.  The man with the ticket started to explain what had happened a couple of years earlier.  How he met the angel, what the angel said and the ticket he had been given.  The other man snickered for a moment and said, “Are you sure the ticket is all you need?  Don’t you need to do good things as well?  Think about it, if you can prove you’re worthy then they will probably let you into heaven.”  The other man explained the ticket was a gift and could not be bought.

The other man suddenly had another idea.  He said, “How about you give me half the ticket?  This way we both have half the chance of getting into heaven.”  The man with the ticket thought about it for a moment.  He loved his friend so much that he thought to himself, “What if he is right?  What if I give him half the ticket and he does get in?  We could spend eternity together.”

The man with the ticket agreed, took the ticket out and ripped it in half from top to bottom.  He carefully handed half the ticket to his friend and said, “Here you go.  Hopefully this works.”  The other man said, “Don’t worry, I’ll keep it safe.”

Years passed by and both men had gone their separate ways.  For years each man had years of joy and years of struggle.  Neither man had a perfect life, but a satisfying one.  When they reached their later years, both men suddenly died the same night and were taken before the throne room of God.

God saw both men and said, “Do you have your tickets?”  The man who was handed the ticket by the angel said, “Here is my ticket.”  God asked, “Why is your ticket ripped in half?”  The man responded, “Forgive me Lord.  My friend wanted half the ticket because he thought if he had half of it, he would have half the chance to get into heaven.”

God then turned to the other man and asked, “Where is your ticket?”  The man smiled, reached into his pocket and pulled out a wad of paper.  “Here it is”, said the man.  God asked, “Why does it look like this?  You were supposed to take care of the ticket.”  The man answered, “Oops.  Sorry.  I kept it in my pocket for years.”  The wad of paper was tattered and torn.

God then turned to both men and said, “To the one I originally gave the ticket to, come into my presence and enter heaven.  To the other, get out of my presence.  You cannot enter heaven.”  The man who had the tattered half ticket objected and yelled, “But God.  Don’t I have half the chance as my friend?  He has only half a ticket also.”

God turned to both men and said, “Let’s see.  I will unfold each of the half tickets and that will determine where you are going.”  Both men agreed and God started to unfold the tattered and torn ticket.  As He laid each piece carefully on the floor, the man who had that half ticket noticed something.  It was spelling a word.  After God unfolded each piece, he said, “Your ticket says ‘HELL’.  That is where you will go.”

The man with the tattered ticket then asked, “What about his ticket?  Doesn’t his spell ‘HELL’ as well?  He also has only half a ticket!”  God turned and started to unfold the other half.  As He unfolded it, both men noticed that it was still one piece of paper.  This time it didn’t spell a word.  God said, “This man will enter heaven, while you are going to ‘HELL’.”  “But how can that be?” asked the man with the tattered ticket.

You see the half ticket that was given to the original man unfolded to a cross.  God explained, “The cross is the only way to heaven.  This man had the cross safely on him near his heart.  He willingly shared the story I gave to him as a gift.  You did not take care of your ticket.  You kept it in a pocket, rarely seeing what you worked for.  You allowed your portion to get washed in the laundry and sat on.  You did not take care of the gift I have given therefore, your ticket spelled ‘HELL’.

Ponder this story and ask yourself this question:  Am I taking care of the gift God has given to me?  If you can’t positively answer this question remember, Jesus came to die for you and I.  He is the only ticket to heaven.  You can’t work for it.  If you try to work for it, all you will have is a tattered life that leads to hell.  If you accept the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, you will take care of the life He has given to you.  It is only by the cross that we can enter heaven.

God bless and encourage someone today.

The Failed Opportunity


Over the past few blogs, I have shared about success.  This time I would like to share about failure.  Failure is the essential building block of success.  Without failure, success would not exist.  Think about it.  How would we be able to measure success if there was no failure?  This analogy can be compared to a ruler without numbers.  If you had a wooden ruler that had some markings, but did not know what the markings meant, what worth would that piece of wood have?  It wouldn’t.  It couldn’t measure anything.  It couldn’t have any meaning, therefore, it couldn’t logically be called a ruler.  Failure and success are the same way.  Success is the numbers on the ruler, while failure is the ruler itself.  Therefore, success cannot be logically measured unless failure is involved.

When Thomas Edison was asked why he didn’t just give up when discovering the light bulb, he stated that he never gave up, he just found what was needed one time.  He never viewed his failures as negatives but as a positive.  Without the failures he had, he would have never discovered the filament that was necessary.  Without failure, we would still be lighting a candle in our homes and lighting fires to keep us warm.

If failure never occurred, how would we learn?  How would we know what is right and what is wrong?  How would we understand that we shouldn’t touch the electrical outlet as a child or else we may be shocked?  How would we know that fire can burn unless something got burned?  Without failure, we cannot understand the basics of life.  Unfortunately, most people don’t accept failure and view it as a negative.

How many times have you heard someone cheer when the failed?  Never.  How many times did you hear someone cry when they fail?  Maybe sometimes.  How do you feel when you fail?  What goes on in your mind when you fail?  I know in my mind, I get frustrated, aggravated and angry when I fail.  I don’t like failure especially when it comes to work.  I hate the times when I can’t fix a machine.  Yet there are times the reality is that there is no solution, therefore, I (and others) view it as a failure.

How about our relationships?  Are they successes or failures?  I consider my marriage to be a success.  My wife and I have been married 16 years and have had many ups and downs.  One day, my wife asked my son to rate our marriage between 1 and 10.  1 being the uh-oh and 10 being it is perfect.  He gave our marriage an 8.  Why only and 8?  He stated that it was because he sees times when we argue over little things, therefore it can’t be perfect.  However, he also admitted he sees our love as well.  Interesting isn’t it?  Our son sees the imperfection in our marriage but recognizes the love we have for each other.  I consider that a great success.

Unfortunately, I have also encountered some failed opportunities.  These are not the times in which I decided not to do something and should have or times when I didn’t take an action when I should have.  This failed opportunity was actually a success in my life.  It was a time when I was taking every opportunity to share the love of Christ with some of my customers.

Almost 15 years ago, I had a customer that I would see very often.  He would call to have his copiers fixed and I was there to help.  We enjoyed talking about our marriages and joked around about everything from sports (he loved baseball) to work related areas.  On many occasions we would sit in his office, after the machine was fixed, and talk.  He shared how his marriage was failing but how his favorite baseball team was doing.  Over time, I started to ask him questions about his beliefs.  He stated he grew up Jewish but no longer believed that God existed.  He believed in science and logic.

One afternoon, I had fixed his machine and we sat and talked.  I asked him if I could share something with him regarding my beliefs.  He stated, “I already know that you believe in God.  I don’t believe He exists.”  I asked again to talk with him.  He said he would talk but he would never believe because he didn’t see the logic.  I explained, “Here is what I will tell you.  You will admit to me one of two things.  Either you will admit that God exists and you want to have a relationship with Him or you will tell me that you refuse to believe because you don’t want to.”  With a cautious smile, he took on that challenge.  He was either going to admit he didn’t want to believe or he was going to believe.

We spent hours talking about historical evidences regarding Christ, logical views regarding Creation and simplistic approaches to other scientific areas.  I am not the most learned man, but he noticed I was able to hold my own.  After 3 hours of discussion, he turned to me without a smile and said, “You were right.  I am ready to admit one of the two things you said.”  My heart pounded with anticipation.  I had hoped for this day, when someone would turn to Christ because it seemed the most logical step.  He continued, “I refuse to believe.  I know what you are saying is true, I just simply refuse to believe it.”  Devastation filled my heart and soul.   How could someone admit that God did exist but they wanted nothing to do with Him?  Then I thought of Adam and Eve.  Adam walked with God in the Garden of Eden, had discussions with God, yet rebelled anyway.  He knew God existed but refused to listen.

So why was this a success for me?  Simply, I did what I had been called to do.  I simply shared the love of Christ with someone, which Christ Himself commanded us to do.  He never said, “Go therefore into the world and convince people I exist.”  He actually said, “Go therefore and make disciples…”  In order to make disciples you have to have people who believe.  It is God’s responsibility to convince people that He exists, not ours.  We don’t need to hound people with the Gospel, we just need to share it.  Let God do the rest.  Then once someone accepts, make them a disciple.  Teach them, share with them and live life together.

The greatest failed opportunity someone will ever have is when they die without Christ.  They then have no recourse to change their minds.  They will enter eternity without Christ wishing they could have another chance.  This particular failed opportunity showed me that to be successful in Christ, all I need to do is share His Word and message.  I don’t need to defend or convince anyone. All I need to do is share.  Then one day after I have shared Christ with someone, for the last time on this earth, God will call me home and say, “Well done my good and faithful servant.  Come and enter into My rest.”  Those are the only words I need to hear to know how successful I was.  Go and share the message of Christ with someone.

God Bless and encourage someone today.