Look Out the Window

Take-off was a rush! I never dreamed that the initial thrust would set me back into my seat the way it did. In no time we were off the ground quickly gaining altitude.

As an adult I experienced my first ride on a commercial passenger plane. I felt like a kid. The thrill of take-off put butterflies in my stomach.

Then came the view! I couldn’t stop looking out the window at the patchwork below me. Seeing things from thousands of feet above the earth gives a whole new perspective!

I thought to myself, “God sees the world like this all the time, yet he knows me personally!”

Our Father always has the big picture perspective for our lives, disasters, sins, set-backs, diseases, and celebrations.

Jeremiah told his countrymen who had just been carried off to captivity to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says he LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

We often see this verse on plaques . It is certainly an encouraging verse. It is one I meditate on when I get discouraged.

But the context is a horrible situation of defeat and exile! Jeremiah tells them in chapter 29 in a letter to settle in, build homes, have lots of children and grandchildren, and make the city prosperous and peaceful, because you will be there a long time, seventy years!

Are you going through a disaster or an exile now? Perhaps your disaster has already lasted a long time. Or maybe it is just beginning.

Remember God has the 35,000 feet view even though you can’t seem to see 3 feet in front of you. God’s really does have the big picture.

Honor and love your Father in Heaven in the middle of your chaos. He indeed knows the plans He has for you! He wants your good, not disaster.  So whether He delivers next week, years down the road, or in heaven, He will come through! The LORD is still your hope!

Look out the window.

Our Father, thank-you for the hope, assurance, and confidence that you never lose control of this universe, this world, and the circumstances of our lives. Fill us with hope in the midst of our exiles. Help us to live faithful lives honoring You inside our disasters.

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.

T – R – O – U – B – L – E

Billie Sue’s grandfather, Lex Smith, loved to do word puzzles in his retirement years. He would sit for hours filling in the squares with letters.

In the those last days, he would spell the same word out loud over and over again. I can still hear him saying the letters again and again.

“T – R – O – U – B – L – E.”  “T – R – O – U – B – L – E.” “T – R – O – U – B – L – E.”

I’m not sure why he got stuck on that one word. But he did.

Jesus talked about “trouble” too.

Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34 HCSB

We can get stuck on tomorrow’s trouble too.  Jesus knows our tendencies. How easy it is for us to get focused on something that might or might not happen tomorrow. In doing so, we miss living today to the fullest!

Yes, tomorrow will come with its trouble, but why live it today in our minds before it actually happens? Plus, we don’t know what will happen tomorrow. We could end up worrying about things that will never happen anyway!

I’m just as guilty as the rest of you. Worry sneaks into my thoughts when I don’t stay focused on the truth of God’s Word and His Son Jesus.

So, how do we do that?!

Remember the verse just before verse 34? Verse 34 begins with “Therefore.” So what is it “there for”? The solution and a very familiar verse:

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Matthew 6:33 HCSB

All those “things” we worry about God provides for us if we seek His kingdom and righteousness first.  First? Yes, instead of first worrying about things, we seek God’s kingship and righteousness first.

Someone observed, “Today is the Tomorrow you worried about Yesterday.”

Worry is all about putting “things” first instead of God’s will. Remember Jesus’ instructions on how to pray:

Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10 HCSB

How do we “seek first the kingdom of God?” We seek to do His will on earth today! That’s an all-encompassing focus that takes up all our attention today. When we focus on doing His kingdom work today, we are not focused on the “things” that will “trouble” us tomorrow.

Jesus is in the life-changing business!

Our Father, we confess our sins of worry and ask your forgiveness. Thank-you that we don’t need to worry. The “things” of this world are temporary.  Your word and kingdom will last forever! We ask for your ever-present Spirit to teach to live by faith, not by worry.

We Agreed

“We agreed” carried us through the difficult challenges! “We agreed” became an anchor point for everything we did after that.

The decision to move to Hot Springs Village and accept the pastorate at Balboa Baptist Church created a transition in our lives with some painful steps. Transition always produces stress.  Stressful times always stress relationships. The marriage of a “preacher” and his wife are no exception!

But, we agreed this was the wise thing to do.  We agreed this was in the center of God’s will for us. We agreed “finishing well” in life meant moving to the Village.

But then came the ripping and the tearing of buying, selling, and moving . Loss produces grief. A sense of loss came over both of us as we purged. We had to let go of some “stuff.” We sized down. We know now many of you have experienced the same purging, moving, and transitioning!

But we agreed it was only “stuff.” We agreed that none of this “stuff” will matter a hundred years from now anyway!

Agreement solves a lot of issues! Our marriage didn’t survive this little bump in the road, it thrived!

The word “confess” means to agree. Do you “agree” with God about who Jesus is?  It solves a lot of eternal issues. It requires some purging and letting go of some “stuff.”

Our agreement as a married couple to move solved a lot of other issues. But the most crucial “agreement” is between you and God about who Jesus is.

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 1 John 4:15 ESV

God lives in you and you live in God when you agree with God about Jesus. Do you agree Jesus is His perfect Son risen from the dead? What a thought! What a reality! We are indwelled and surrounded by the God of the universe in personal relationship if we agree with God about Jesus!

Do you agree? This is the most important agreement you will or will not make. It impacts how you live now. It impacts how you spend eternity!

Our Father, we praise you for being a loving Creator. We rebelled against you in our sin. Thank-you for offering to each of us the greatest gift possible: salvation, forgiveness, relationship, redemption, and your presence in us and around us! Father, WE AGREE! Jesus is Your Son, risen from the dead, alive and well, the sacrifice for the sins of the world, and now our personal Savior! Thank-you!

Can 400 People Agree on Anything?

How do you get 400 people to agree on anything! Whew, only a God-thing could make that happen. With a group of people with such varied backgrounds, education, and experiences, is it even possible to consider it?

If we take the Bible seriously, and we do, it is not only a consideration, it must become a reality with the help of the Holy Spirit!

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 1 Corinthians 1:10 ESV

Get Shoulder to Shoulder. The same word used to translate “appeal” is used to describe the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, the “one called beside us.” We are called to come along side one another in unity. If each person in an army decided to fight by their own strategy, no united effort would be made and the battle likely lost.

Get the “God-thing.” Our common commitment to Jesus, the changer of our lives, is our divine element making this possible. How easily people become divided! For a large group of people to be united together in a common goal and strategy needs “a God-thing” to make it happen. Our common faith in Jesus is our God-thing!

Get Great Words. Agree. Simply “speak or say the same thing.”  The visual behind this word is “to lay it out.” We are to state clearly our common purpose.

Get the Gaps Out. Eliminate divisions. The word here is schism which means to split or cause a gap. Jesus described putting new wine into old wineskins and therefore causing the old wineskin to split or burst.

Get Together. Unite. The word “united” means to repair, adjust, or complete thoroughly. Repair broken relationships. Make emotional and mental adjustments in order to be united. Completely focus in the same direction.

Get Thinking. Unite in “mind” means to agree in our perceiving, understanding, feeling, and determining. We must be attuned or “in tune” with the direction of the Holy Spirit and therefore with one another.

Get a United Conclusion. Unite in “judgment” means to agree in our conclusions. The final product is to be a common mission, vision, and core values which guide the work we do and determine what we don’t do.

Our Father, please unite us in every facet of the work You have called us to do. Build in all of us by Your Holy Spirit a consensus of mission, vision, and purpose. We pray for miraculous results from You working in and through us. We believe it is only by Your presence and Your power we can obey this command. Thank-you Lord for the confidence we have in you!

 

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!

Oh, What a Day that Will Be!

Oh, what a day that will be! 

Imagine it.  Well, it’s hard to imagine. Every human speaking the name of JESUS in holy reverence. Those who cursed him, those who killed His followers, and those who swore He was just another shyster, will declare Him LORD!

Oh, what a day that will be!

In light of the great false religion of Islam, in light of their violent murders of Christians today, in light of the great deception of Satan in millions of people’s lives, all will declare with reverence the most holy name of JESUS as Lord.

Oh, what a day that will be!

All the wrongs of this world, every misunderstanding, each frayed emotion, all maimed bodies, every broken relationship, will be resolved in a moment when in unison JESUS is declared Lord of the universe.

Oh, what a day that will be! 

It will wash over us in sobering reality when some will instructed to stand to His right and some to His left. The separation will be for an eternity.  Some will hear, “Depart from me for I never knew you.”  Others will hear, “Well done good and faithful servant, enter your Master’s happiness.”

Oh, what a day that will be! 

A day of rejoicing beyond imagination for His followers. A day of unbridled worship like we have never known on this sin-sick earth.  A day of total reconciliation of all things.

Oh, what a day that will be!

As the great hymn says, “When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be! When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory!” Click here for Hymn

“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,

so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the Glory of God the Father.”

Philippians 2:9-11 ESV