Wasted Time & Energy

Last week I used a sharp knife to cut an apple. I rinsed the knife in hot water. I used  a paper towel to firmly wipe the blade. One of my fingertips got a little too close to the blade and it nicked the surface of my skin. I felt it immediately. The cut was so shallow, it took a full minute before a drop of blood oozed to the surface.

First, it amazed me the sharp edge sliced the paper towel and my skin so quickly and easily. It startled me.

Second, I felt pretty stupid for such a silly mistake since I grew up in a meat market handling sharp knives, especially with a Dad who constantly reminded me of the proper handling of a knife.

My Dad always impressed me that he could sharpen a knife so efficiently.  He would carefully draw the knife back and forth on a whetstone at just the right angle alternating each side of the blade.

Then he used a “steel” or honing rod. With a few quick flicks of the wrist he could put a fine edge on it in seconds. (Click HERE to see photo.)

Testing the sharpness came next. He stuck out his left arm. With the knife in his right hand, he carefully placed the blade on his left arm and made a brief shaving motion. If a couple of hairs flicked off effortlessly, then it was sharp!

The few minutes it took to sharpen the blade saved many minutes in work time later, not to mention the physical energy wasted and slowed work pace if he had continued to use a dull blade. (Click HERE to learn how to sharpen a knife properly.)

Living life without regularly reading, meditating on, studying, applying, and memorizing God’s word will waste a lot of time, energy, money, and life itself.

  • Are you using the sharp knife of God’s insightful word or the dull knife of this world’s wisdom?
  • Are you allowing the sharp sword of God’s word to pierce deeply into your heart, mind, and soul?
  • Are you permitting God’s word to affect your motives, emotions, regrets, worries, and intentions?
For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Hebrews 4:12 NLT

Are you willing and ready to have your innermost thoughts and desires surgically examined by your Creator? He already knows what they are! Are you courageous enough to see them for what they are too?

Our Father, thank-you for your sharp, holy, inspired word in the Bible. We commit today to read, study, and apply it to our lives.

 

Weights & Measures

I almost fell down. That’s when I knew. It was one of those moments when you realize something’s got to done about it.

It is one of those keys to life, sports, marriage, and just about anything else. But when you almost fall down, you know you need it.

After I hit that little white ball sitting on a peg, watching it fly in the wrong direction, and then stumbling to stay standing, it became obvious.

I didn’t have balance!

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called. Ephesians 4:1

Other writings wordsmith the word “worthy” in referring to the balancing of scales. Dishonest vendors in an open marketplace would sometimes use inaccurate weights with their scales so the sales of their product would be to their financial advantage. The crooked businessman used a method that is not “worthy” or was “out of balance.”

An inspector made surprise, random visits to my Dad’s meat market. He chose a few packages of meat in the counter. He set up his scales and checked each package for accuracy. My Dad insisted on exacting detail when we weighed the packages! We even had to subtract the weight of the packaging, which was sometimes only 3/8’s of an ounce to make sure the customer was not paying $1.99 per pound for a piece of Styrofoam and plastic wrap!

So what is spiritual balance? Here’s a hint. Look back at that verse closely. If the word “worthy” represents scales, then look on each side of the word to see what needs to be in balance.  What do you see?

Answer: “walk in a manner” is on one side. On the other side of the scales is “of the calling to which you have been called.”  

Application: every day is to be lived is such a way that it balances with what God has called you to do.

Every believer in Jesus who seeks to follow him is “called.” God calls you and me to use our gifts, passions, skills, relationships, and experiences to point people to Jesus.

Are you “balanced” at the end of each swing? What will the weights and measures guy find when he checks out your work?

Our Father, thank-you for your calling to give cups of cold water away in Jesus’ name. We commit today to bring Jesus into our conversations with those we meet.

Hello Friend!

The two words just don’t seem to go together. What in the world does ‘friend’ and ‘fear’ have to do with each other? We don’t normally think of ‘fear’ when we think of a ‘friend!’

My best friends in high school, Carl and Tony, do not make me think of being afraid. I think of some happy times together, times we got in trouble together, and standing in for each other’s weddings.

But David, the psalmist, says:

The LORD is a friend to those who fear him. He teaches them his covenant. My eyes are always on the LORD, for he rescues me from the traps of my enemies. Psalm 225:14-15 NLT

A healthy respect and holy fear for the awesome Creator of the universe and Redeemer of our souls from hell is the prerequisite for friendship with the LORD Himself.

Who could be a better Friend? It is amazing God would or could be our Friend?! Certainly we can easily see Him as our Judge, Creator, and Master.  But could He really be our Friend?

The perfect Son of God, Jesus, who is always in perfect union with the Father said:

I no longer call you slaves because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. John 15:15 NLT

Isn’t that just like a friend, to confide in you all the intricate details of one’s life! Jesus says we are his friends and has told us everything the Father has told Him. Wow, what a friend we have in Jesus. That reminds me of a song!

A line in the great hymn by Joseph M. Scriven written in 1855 says:

Can we find a friend so faithful, Who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness; Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Jesus is our friend if we have a healthy, fearful, holy, reverent trust in Him! Walk with your Friend today!  Talk with your Friend today!

Our Father, we gladly bow before you in total respect and reverence. Thank-you for confiding in us as your friend through Your Son Jesus. We commit ourselves today to walk and talk with you as our Friend.

Two-a-Days

Two-a-day’s. Boy, do I have vivid memories of two-a-day’s! In grades 8-12 I played football.  Every August we had an early morning practice and a late afternoon practice for two weeks.  We called those grueling, exhausting, get into shape, felt like we were going to die, football practices two-a-days.

Many times I wanted to quit! But the old football coach’s slogan would ring in my head, Quitters never win! Winners never quit!

How many times have you heard someone say, “Don’t give up!”  How many times have you have said it yourself?

How many times have each of us thought about giving up or wanted to give up?

The apostle Paul certainly had many reasons to give up in his life.  He was run out-of-town, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, snake bit, flogged, imprisoned, rejected, chained, starved … well, you get the picture.

Yet in the letter to the Philippians, while he is in prison, he gives one of the greatest pep talks in Scripture!

And then in the letter to the Galatians he tells them, “Don’t give up!”

So, let’s not get tired  of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone – especially to those in the family of faith. Galatians 6:9-10 NLT

Monday, I was on the receiving end of those who didn’t give up. The Disaster Relief Team showed up at my house to cut, haul, trim, and clean up … for four hours!  Thanks Gary Moore, Bill Gibbons, Harry Partlow, Jay Dirksen, Glen Barr, Dave Finton, and David Merkle!

I was humbled to be served by a group of Christian brothers who expected nothing in return.

So, let’s not get tired of doing what is good. Give God the glory in it. God will see to the harvest of the work, so trust Him. Now, don’t give up! I know you will feel like giving-up sometimes, but take each opportunity God puts into your day today, and do something good to someone. Especially do good stuff for your fellow brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ!

Our Father, thank-you for doing good for us by sending Your Son Jesus to die for us and give us grace, forgiveness, and eternal life. Help us today to do good stuff just because we should and expect nothing in return. Thank-you for the promised harvest You will give in Your perfect timing.

She Jumped!

A rock wall cliff jutted out and stood 155 feet tall. The little Junior High girl easily climbed to the top with a couple of High School boys following her. She had been there before many times. This was the first time for the two boys.

Looking up 60 feet doesn’t look that tall.  But when you look down, well, it looks more like the Empire State Building!

The three reached the top and looked over the edge. I could see the blood run out of the two boys faces and their knees get weak.

The little blond-headed cheerleader stepped up to the edge, stepped off, gravity took over, she pointed her toes down, made her body rigid, held her arms closely to her sides, and entered the lake like a pin-prick.

The two boys swallowed their pride, climbed down to a lower level before jumping.

The little girl is my sister, Jill.  The place is Lake Greeson, near Murfreesboro, Arkansas.

My dad and I sat in the ski boat below.  We retrieved my sister.  We chuckled at the boys’ sudden change in courage and getting showed-up by a little Junior High girl!

To jump from Chimney Rock had been a family tradition for many summers.  (See photo)  The photo has the namesake rock, shaped like a chimney, but in the background is the big cliff.  (Of course it is illegal to climb on it today.)

That big rock is still there today and looks the same as it did 50 years ago. It still calls, “Climb me and jump!” Its a universal cry, whether you would even think of doing it or not!

I can still remember …

  • climbing the side of the rock with excitement and anticipation.
  • looking over the side from the top and that excitement turning to fear.
  • pushing that fear aside and jumping.
  • the rush of adrenaline as I hurled quickly to the lake below knowing the depth was over 100 feet.
  • the sting of hitting the water.
  • returning to the surface of the water and inhaling a breath of fresh air!

Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. Isaiah 26:4 ESV

God is completely trustworthy! He is like the stability and consistency of a rock! He also calls us take steps of faith and trust Him! What is The Rock calling you to do to obey Him today? Will you jump?

Our Father, we praise you because you are our Rock. We place our trust in You today knowing that it is a trust that will endure forever and forever, because you are our God forever and forever! Help us to obey you today in the little daily things of life. Help us make those little “jumps” of serving someone today that can make an eternal difference in their eternity. Thank-you for the breath of fresh air of faith each time we resurface from an obedient act.

 

Chirping

That cricket on my back porch is chirping loudly and persistently. He doesn’t let up. This has been something I’ve loved about moving to the Village. I can hear the sounds of nature instead of traffic!

Now, back to that cricket. Chir-rup, Chir-rup, Chir-rup, Chir-rup, Chir-rup … The joker’s chirpper just keeps on a-chirping!

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12 ESV

I was meditating on that verse when I noticed the little chirpper chirping. What an insight! Our believing, trusting, rejoicing, hanging tough, and praying ought to be persistent just like that chirpper!

Rejoice in hope.

Hope is the confident assurance of our salvation and destiny of heaven! Re-joice, Re-joice, Re-joice, Re-joice, Re-joice, …!

Be patient in tribulation.

Patience is being able to see the big picture and hanging tough till the prize at the end is revealed in spite of the troubles along the way. Pa-tient, Pa-tient, Pa-tient, Pa-tient, Pa-tient, …! (Thanks Polly for the “Hang Tough” Sunday School lesson this past Sunday!)

Be constant in prayer.

Prayer is communication and communion with the Father in such a way He can tell us at any moment what to do and we do it. We mistake prayer often as only trying to get God to do what we want him to do. Pra-y, Pra-y, Pra-y, O-bey, O-bey, Pra-y, O-bey, …!

So, do some spiritual chirping today!

Our Father, we rejoice constantly that you have provided complete hope and confidence in our salvation through Your Son Jesus Christ! We hang tough with patience in the troubled times of life because we know how it all comes out in the end! We commune with you all day ready to obey at a moment’s notice.

Call Me

When Billie Sue and I were dating, every evening we were either together on a date, or I was at her parents’ house, or she was at my parents’ house, or more often we talked on the telephone (you know, the land-line kind, the one with a chord, the one we actually had to sit down to use, instead of walking around doing something else at the same time).

When we love someone, we want to talk to them and listen to them!

A conversation is simple.  I talk to you and listen to you.  You talk to me and you listen to me.

“Communication is the key!” How many times have we heard that!?  It’s true for marriage, parenting, teaching, friendship, and employee/employer. Communication IS the key!

One of the funniest videos I’ve seen is by Jeanne Robertson. She sent her husband on a quick trip to the grocery store with a list of seven items.  He stayed gone much too long and came back with a car load of groceries.  Watch the video to see why, it hilarious! Its worth eight minutes of your time. Watch this!

I’m amazed how many times I come across it in scripture! “Call to me.”  “Ask, seek, knock.” “Pray.”

The Father loves us so much, he wants to hear from us on a regular basis, no, on a continual basis, as in “pray without ceasing.”

Then there’s “You have not because you ask not.”  He says to “make your requests known” to Him.

Why should we act so confidently?

  • What should cause this kind of faith to well up in us?
  • Why would we take the time to do something like talking to someone who is invisible?

Because He made world and everything in the it.

  • Everything belongs to Him! He is the powerful Creator.
  • He is the expert on everything that is.
  • He knows us better than we even know ourselves.

Give Him a call!

Thus says the Lord who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to establish it—the Lord is his name:  Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. Jeremiah 33:2-3

I praise You for You are a Loving Father. You love it when we listen to You, talk to You, and make our requests of You. Please use us, the congregation of Balboa Baptist Church, to do your will.  Work in us, through us, and in spite of us to present Jesus to people in life-changing ways. Lead us into the future by Your Spirit!

Take an Umbrella when it Rains

If you want to build rapport with others and win their trust, do not make them the butt of your jokes, make fun of yourself.

Don’t ever take yourself seriously, but always take God seriously.

Do not expect to get stuff from others because of your position or relationship with them, but always expect to give.

Take an umbrella when it rains.

These are some great words of advice I have received over the years. These tidbits are golden when I listen and take them to heart! I benefited from these encounters when my heart was soft, my ears were open, and I acted upon them.

I thank God for strategically placing in my life at just the right decision-making corners, the right person with the right word of advice.

The book of Proverbs is a book of God’s advice to us.

Here’s some advice: read a chapter of Proverbs each day.  With thirty-one chapters, we could read through Proverbs each month.

“Listen to advice and accept instruction,

that you may gain wisdom in the future.

Many are the plans in the mind of a man,

but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.

Proverbs 19:20-21 (ESV)

1. We have to listen to the advice God gives us through Scripture or through people in our lives.

2. We must accept the instruction for it to benefit us.

3. Often the wisdom is for a future event and not for the moment, so patiently hold on to it.

4. We devise many plans in our heads but we must discover God’s purpose for our lives.

5. In a hundred years, only what’s done in God’s purpose will still be left standing.

Thank-you Father for bringing wise people and wise proverbs into our lives just when we need them. Please give us discernment to know when and how to use this counsel. Your Word is a light to our path and a lamp for our feet. May your Word shine brightly so that we may live in the center of Your purpose.

 

Where’s My Pants?

We’re moved!  We are now living IN the Village. What a mess! Boxes, boxes, boxes.  Where’s my pants?  Where’s my shoes?

Its overwhelming at times.  Starting a new job and moving to a new home are two of the biggest stressors in life. When we get both of them at the same time, well, you know how that feels. Most of you have been through the same thing when you moved. Many of you have moved more times that we have!

Seeing everything into which we have invested so much time and money reduced to cardboard boxes is a gut-check.  Its all just stuff. In a hundred years from now, none of it will matter.  It will all be burned up. Only eternal things will last.

Yes, we still feel a little bit like that squirrel on an interstate. Closing on a house required us to attend to multiple details. Purging many, many things in order to fit into a smaller house is daunting. Overseeing three days of packing, loading, and unloading is exhausting. Church calendaring, staff meetings, hospital visits, sermon preparation, and budgeting are always before us.

Zoom, zoom go those cars on the interstate.  I’m their leader!  Which way did they go, George?

So I find great comfort and confidence in this verse:

“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2

1. We are refocused on eternal results when Isaiah says “God is my salvation.” Salvation is eternal life forever and abundant life now. In all the “stuff,” this must remain our focus.

2. We are refocused on internal attitudes when we read, “I will trust, and will not be afraid.” Attitude, not aptitude, determines one’s altitude. John tells us that perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).  So I chose today to trust the God who perfectly loves me instead of trusting myself which always produces fear.

3. We are focused on our immediate future, our next steps, the living of today when God’s word says, “for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” So I go through the day humming a chorus of confidence in God or whistling a tune of rejoicing because God is in full control of it all.

We will always have enough time in the day to do what God wants us to do. So if we can’t get it all done, then we are doing things He does not want us to do or we are doing them in the wrong way.  We need not to be anxious for anything.

Our Father, You are our source of eternal security, inner peace, and abundant life. Thank-you that you have it all under Your control. Now please help me find my belt.

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.” 1 Peter 3:18

How May I Help You?

  • Relationships based on lust, infatuation, and a what-can-you-do-for-me mindset.
  • Lifestyles that love evil, rejoice in sexual perversion, and a don’t-judge-me-I’m-free-to-do-what-I-want attitude.
  • Daily letting go of good and decent things in order to grasp and hold fast to temporary things.
  • Continually holding grudges, unforgiveness, and treating others as objects instead of fellow humans.
  • Always trying to outdo one another is getting recognition and climbing to the top of the heap.

What have I just attempted to describe? I’m sure a lot of things came to your mind! 

I have just stated the opposite of Romans 12:9-10 (ESV) in which Paul, directed by the Holy Spirit, pens five brief commands that are to be obeyed in someone who is transformed (click Romans 12:1-2) Jesus Christ:

Let love be genuine.

Abhor what is evil;

Hold fast to what is good.

Love one another with brotherly affection.

Outdo one another in showing honor.

These actions do not happen naturally.  They happen supernaturally.  They can only be sustained in a living, breathing, walking, talking fellowship with Jesus Christ. Yes, Jesus Changes Lives! And that change … must happen everyday in an overflow of HIM living in and through us.

  • Jesus is genuine in His love.
  • Jesus abhors what is evil.
  • Jesus holds fast to what is good.
  • Jesus loves us as a brother.
  • Jesus honors the lowliest. 

Want a simple way to do all five of these at once?! Your assignment today, if you choose to accept it, is to ask at least one person today, “How can I help you?”

Our Father, flow through us today through your Son, Jesus.  Overflow your love, your view of evil, your grip on good, your love for others, and your ability to honor those around us.  Thank-you that you asked us, “How can I help you?” and in our inability to even answer that question, you answered it for us with Jesus!  Thank-you!