Only one adequate plan has ever appeared in the world, and that is the Christian dispensation.
John Jay - First US Supreme Court Chief Justice
Wednesday's Word: October 2016

Wednesday's Word

Welcome friends, feel free to look around, make comments and whatnot. I'll try and keep this thing updated with interesting pics, stories and other odds & ends. Feel free to criticize, but please share the 'truth in love'. No reason to be purposefully offensive. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Heart of Prayer

Much has changed over the 10 years since my first blog post on prayer and I wish I'd spent more time emphasizing it. It's got to be about the second most important thing there is behind being in right relationship to God through Christ.

I love my son dearly and truth be told, I think about him a whole lot, probably a whole lot more than he thinks I do. Chip is almost 16 and now that our conversations are much deeper than they were, say 10 years ago, I see much more relevance of The Father's relationship with us as His children.

I can see when Chip is hesitant to ask me for things....other times I wish he thought about how he could better appreciate things he has before asking me for more. However, without fail, when I know he wants something well within my power, I'm more moved to give it to him and it's genuinely my pleasure to show kindness to him even when he doesn't deserve it. I also feel a deep sorrow if I know he's scared to ask me when I know he wants to. This is not about whether I will do it - Its about how much I love our relationship and I don't want his fear standing in the way of my desires for good concerning him.

Here's The Word;

Matthew 7:11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

This makes me really wonder - How do we see God, really?

We all know the political situation we're in and I'm sure that more than a few people are praying about it as well as the other things that bombard our lives on a daily basis; finances, health issues for ourselves or family members (or simply for people who we know or know that we're praying people). I also see something that gives me concern; people who either have no relationship with God through Christ or parade a pompous 'religiousity' when convenient, yet living contrary and obstinate to His direction at other times.

I don't know if we give God credit for having a REAL heart and deep feelings the way we do: God REALLY IS a LOVING Father; a father who's heart is toward those who's hearts are toward Him and that's what He longs for - hearts' turned toward Him. It does my heart well when I can freely give to my son without reservation or apprehension because of a teachable moment I need to emphasize with him....and I realize and readily admit that I'M evil ...meaning nothing in me even vaguely resembles the unfathomable GOODNESS that's in God!

The Bible makes it clear about prayer. Not ALL prayers are answered due to their underlying motives and it's a very real thing that prayers are hindered by our disobedience. My point is this; if we made God MORE real in the way that He presents Himself real in the Scriptures - even more real, deep, compassionate and embracing than the relationship we're familiar with as we deal with our own children (or parents), it would be much more beneficial to a healthy prayer life that produces results rather than some sort of pious activity whose effectiveness can be easily discounted in the mystery of God's Will. Jesus gave us examples and models or prayer - not to simply be imitated and mimicked, but to be realized as expressions of a deeper intimacy with Our Father. He showed us that intimacy with The Father is the heart of prayer.

John 11: 41(b) - 42 And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.

In Him,

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Devil, Part One

“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was to convince the world he didn't exist.”
          ~ "Verbal" Kint The Usual Suspects

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind where you hear “the Devil”? Is it the scary image of the red guy with pointy ears, horns and goatee? Is it that overwhelming sense of pure evil? Or is it not much of anything at all? Well here’s news for you: If any of those thoughts are YOUR thoughts, then the devil's deception is already at work in your mind….and he's patiently waiting to gain more ground. Most people don’t talk about the devil except for in very non-committal ways. Ways that neither validate the reality of who he is, nor the proper theological position of who we are in reference to him.

Why is that? In some ways I think that WE think talking about him gives him power, but as soon as you say that out loud it makes much less sense than it did when it was a mere thought.

My assumption is that we should be talking about the devil more since Scripture assumes that we are to have a well comprised understanding of him and his tactics. This is why this post is titled, The Devil, Part One. I fully expect that as time goes on, I’ll revisit the discussion to elaborate more. I pray that The Spirit lead me in this effort.

I mean, just think about it: It’s football season and for the most part, if you name 2 teams that will be playing each other, there’s more than a few people that can give you a rundown on the possibilities of the outcome based on who has the stronger or weaker defense or offence, including key players that will need to perform well…or even those who’s injured absence will probably factor in.

As a youth leader, I always tried to clear up misconceptions about our enemy “called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world (Rev 12: 9)”. It made sense to me that parents didn’t want their kids scared of the devil so they portrayed him (to a child’s mind) to be stupid, a loser, and a bunch of other ‘non-scary’ stuff. However, as we grow into maturity, there’s much re-learning to do. If you consider the Trinity as ONE being (consisting of 3 persons), then Satan is the second smartest being in existence and his tenacity is not to be considered something insignificant or to be trifled with: It doesn’t cost him anything to throw everything at you everyday. Other misconceptions about the devil is the pic of Satan in an arm wrestling match with Jesus - He's not the embodiment of evil in some equally opposing way to the Goodness of God and he's most certainly not 'in charge' of Hell. Hell is not a pleasant eventuality for the devil. But when you strip away all of that "Hollywood" - The Bible never softens the idea of who the devil is, never makes light of his intentions, never pacifies us as being ‘off limits’ to his efforts.

Here’s The Word;

1 Peter 5:8 -9(a) Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith,

The devil is the consummate deceiver. Some could make the case that he’s had thousands of years to learn us and get better at doing what he does. However, I wouldn’t discount his abilities as such. On his first encounter with Adam and Eve, I don’t think he’s had to improve (much, if at all) to be as effective against us as he was with them. We simply have to understand his tactics of deceit and our response of resistance. In being sober and vigilant, we have to continually ‘test the spirits’, question ourselves about the “truth” we seek, expose and validate our motives, ask God to reveal and uncover deception and to give us ever-increasing faith to resist and stand strong.

James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Don’t be afraid to talk about the devil, or mention his name – odds are, you’re on his mind much more than you realize and although it’s not a reason for fear or apprehension, we are commanded to know him and what it means to resist his subtle, yet enticing strategies.

In Him,

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Spiritual Eyes

I really enjoy and encourage blogging, journaling, writing in a diary or whatever you want to call it - documenting your life experiences and the feelings that you felt at the time.
I've been blogging for years now and although the content is not a run down of my daily occurrences, it does serve a very helpful purpose: tracking my growth. Today's post is from an old illustration, but I'm posting it now to keep track.

I'm not wearing them now but if I'm reading print on paper, odds are it's a good idea for me to have my magnifiers on. I didn't wear glasses when I was younger (I didn't have asthma either). It's 'almost' funny that as I get older and visits to doctor's offices become more of a real and necessary thing; I'm tracking my health ...or rather it's slow deterioration.

But that's kind of my point: My doctor(s) can show me how my efforts are affecting important things like blood pressure, cholesterol level and eyesight, just as the blog shows evidence of something vastly more important; growing maturity in the things of Christ and what it looks like to progressively 'walk by the Spirit'.

Here's The Word;

Titus 1:15 Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.

Now of course, none of us were born pure but even as we age and (eventually) become more physically fragile and frail, there's a Spirit in us that is growing stronger and having greater impact on how we see and embrace The Lord's leading...becoming more pure. So as often as I encourage Christians to embrace Christ and allow His Spirit to control, its also me taking an "eye exam" that I can look at later and affirm that my Spiritual eyes are getting stronger.

Quick story to end this and explain Spiritual eyes: Many years ago as a Sunday School teacher, I mentioned to the students that spiritual eyes can see godly things in almost everything. Thankfully, one student risked embarrassment (you know how teens can be super silent) and chimed in "Like anything?" I said "Sure" and asked her what her favorite movie was. She answered 'Pirates of the Caribbean' - I said "Great" and began to ask several questions to the class:

What was the plight of the crew of the Black Pearl? - They were all cursed.

Why? - They'd stolen the old Aztec gold.

What was the remedy? - They needed to return the gold and also to break the curse using Bootstrap Bill's son, William Turner.

How? - They needed his blood as payment for the curse.

I concluded: Now realize, Pirates of the Caribbean is not trying to teach you the Gospel but Spiritual eyes will see how this is just like our situation in that we're cursed because of sin and even if we do all we can to make it right, we still needed the blood of the Son to break the curse.

When Jesus was asked about why He spake in parables, His answer was "That seeing they may see, and not perceive" (Mk 4:12). It's been given to us to see. Therefore make sure you're using and checking your spiritual eyes.

In Him,

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Be Encouraged

How's your day going? Is it playing out the way you'd thought it would?
Often times, with varying degrees of effort, we plan out our days.
From something as simple as mentally acknowledging the more important things you need to do all the way to a full-fledge TO-DO list. So we hop out of bed (or drag ourselves reluctantly) - and put our plans into motion.

And then the unexpected happens....

Extended traffic backup, excruciating migraine, a friend asks for a BIG favor, a family crises, car trouble (from out of gas to an all-out wreck)....this list of things we didn't plan can literally go on and on for miles, yet with one final destination; Frustration Station.
Now I don't mean frustration in a way that implies "Blowing your stack" or fuming anger: not everyone fumes over frustration, some people become detached, numb or sullen. We all deal with it differently when our plans are hindered or derailed.

Here's The Word:

Proverbs 16:9 A man's heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.

For us who have been recieved into Christ's Body, we often see our pursuit of perfection as a life that grows less and less troublesome. We think that any bad thing that befalls us is (or should only be) directly related to some immature thing we're being corrected on. However, that's not entirely true.
Even though we can expect a loving Father to correct and teach us, there's much more to His plans than a persuasion for our obedience. This is not bad news. God is sovereign and just like the story of Job, if God so chooses to allow the derailing of your life for any reason, His plans are just, true, sure and directed to your (eventual and lasting) good.

To quote a line attributed to Capt. Jack Sparrow (played by Johnny Depp in the Pirates of the Caribbean ) "The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem."
The thinking is not new but still a very powerful resolve to hold to. Another similar quote was made by the Roman philosopher Epictetus who said,    "Man is disturbed not by things, but by the views he takes of them."
The Spirit is given to us to walk in truth and the truth is that life in this fallen world can deal a winning hand on one day, but aces and eights the next. Even if we are being rightfully chastised or not, The LORD is still The LORD and His purposes may go beyond our comprehension but not His compassion and desire to give good gifts to His children.
Yet, whatever befalls us, one thing remains. We are His, He is ours and "I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him ~ Ecclesiastes 3:14"
So if you are in Him, take courage. He may reaffirm your dependence, estabilsh His Sovereignty, test your faith, try your reigns (motives of your heart), use you as an example of "faith through trial" to help His other children (Isn't that now what Job is for us?), or take you to the next to the next level in very exciting, yet disruptive ways.

Here's The Word:

2 Corinthians 4:7-9 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;

Ever notice that if you go back to a place where a train wreck happened, there's not much physical evidence of it? They're always cleaned up, trains are either repaired or demolished, tracks are straightened or re-laid. and things continue chugging along time.

In Him, Cros