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Thursday, March 27, 2014

God's NOT Dead


DO you believe that?? If you were put in a position where you kept your job if you denounced that God is living, what would you do?  If you were told your family would die unless you said God is dead, what would you say? What if you were told you would fail unless you went along with everyone else and claimed God is not alive, would you crumble under the pressure?

Tough questions and for a Christian who loves the Lord and is committed to Him, it should be an easy answer. But, is it?  What would you do?

A teenage girl huddles under a cafeteria table in Columbine High School.  A gun is pointed at her face.  Do you believe in Jesus? she is asked.  Yes, she replies.  Bang, she's dead.  She knew, in that moment, her life was on the line and yet she refused to refute the living, breathing God of all creation.  Would you be so brave?  

I saw "God's Not Dead" last night with my son and a theater FULL of people.  At one point Josh, the student defending that God is alive, asked the professor "Do you hate God?"..."DO YOU HATE GOD???"  The professing Atheist professor says "YES, I hate God!!  He's taken everything from me!"...How can you hate God if He doesn't exist?  BAM!  I started clapping!  Everyone else started clapping!  Amen!!  

God is alive!  Without Him we have no morality, no moral compass for how we should live our lives.  Without Him, everything is permissable.  Without Him we have NO HOPE.  I can't imagine living my life aimlessly wandering, thinking I've got it all figured out, with no direction and no guidance.  I give my life to God - because God is alive.  I believe it because of FAITH.  Not because I can prove it with fact.  I live by Faith, and not by sight.  

I wanna live with abandon.  Give Him all that I am.  Every part of my heart Jesus, I place in your hands!  I wanna live with abandon. 

Have you heard that song?  What great lyrics.  But, do we really?  Do we give Him every part of our hearts?  Are we willing to die for His honor?  Are you willing to stand up for the God who created you? Do you believe He did?  Look at what He did for us - he sent His only son to die on the cross for us...if you were the only person left on the earth, He still would have died on that cross for you.  If you don't know Him today, what's holding you back?  He gave His all to a world full of sinners.  We didn't deserve the sacrifice He made and many today dismiss that sacrifice too easily.  We live our lives with abandon - yes - but to our own whims and sinful nature. We live in sexual sin, lying, stealing, cheating, cursing, etc. and say "Oh well, all I have to do is ask God to forgive me, He'll understand.  I'm only human.  I'm gonna make mistakes".  Quit justifying your sinful nature and live your life with abandon for HIM!  I wanna live my life for Him.  How about you?  Do you believe Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God?  Believe on Him and be saved - and then live your life in a way others KNOW without a doubt that you believe!!!  Is that too much to ask? I think not.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Facebook and Silence


I recently took a "hiatus" from facebook.  I decided to step away from something that seemed to consume my time.   I didn't realize how hard it was going to be at first, but once I got past the first few days, I realized I was just trying to break a really bad habit.  The silence that ensued was refreshing.

Facebook is a habit.  Just like smoking a cigarette, a person who is addicted to Facebook has to have a "hit" multiple times a day.  How has this happened? How have we become so addicted to the approval of others?  We post a picture and look to see how many "likes" we get.  Who likes our picture, who comments, etc.  Its a place to seek acceptance from people instead of seeking the one who is the Ultimate Friend.  

We follow pages, people, groups, causes on Facebook.  We justify why we spend so much time looking into other peoples lives instead of looking deeper into our own.  Jesus wants our time.  He wants our attention.  We claim we give it to Him because we follow "religious" pages and read their posts.  Its like a "devotion".  What Jesus wants is to meet us in the silence.  Each day we should set aside time for Him.   We don't need to fill our lives with all the noise that comes with Facebook.  Griping, grumbling, complaining - people do that and want sympathy, want comments from others to justify and confirm that their feelings are valid.  Instead of taking our worries, cares and concerns to the only one who can make them better, we post them on Facebook and secretly hope for affirmation from others that our feelings are valid.  We want something from others that we can only get from our Heavenly Father.  Comfort, peace, solace.

So, I challenge you.  If you can't seem to give up Facebook, would you consider lessening your time on Facebook?  Would you consider changing the types of posts you make?  Would you consider changing who you follow and why?  If you are addicted to Facebook, what would it take to free you from its grip?  Wouldn't you rather get your validation and acceptance from the One who loves you unconditionally instead of from others?   So many relationships have been ruined because of Facebook, but the one relationship you can't afford to lose is the one you need to have with your Father.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Trees and Birds


Jesus died on a tree.  We are compared to a sparrow in God's word.  His eye is on us.

Have you ever considered the trees?  How glorious and majestic they truly are?  Trees are mentioned throughout the Bible.  The Lord appeared to Abraham by the terebinth trees of Mamre.  Deborah sat under a tree to dispense wisdom.  Zacchaeus shimmied up a tree and went out on a limb to see Jesus.  Most importantly, Jesus died on a tree to save us from our sins.

Birds live in trees and wake us on warm spring mornings singing their praise.  The wind whispers through the trees and kisses my face with its gentle touch.  Gods touch - music to my ears.

I miss my porch mornings.  Spring can't get here fast enough.  I need to feel the warmth on my body, the breeze on my face, hear the song in my heart.  What is my favorite tree?  I love trees that provide shade on a hot sunny day, a place of respite from the suns blazing heat.  I love sitting in its cool shade with a friend, sipping on a cold drink and reminiscing about days gone by.  I love laying on a blanket underneath its canopy, looking up thru the branches as the clouds pass by.  What a glorious world our savior has created.


In that beautiful canopy above sits the birds of the air, perched on its branches, singing hymns to me as I close my eyes and marvel at God's majesty.  What an awesome designer God is.   The bird sings in the tree that would one day hold the savior as he died for our sins.  Do you see the beauty in that? 
They rejoice in singing as do we when we meditate on what Jesus did for us on that tree.

This spring, as the trees burst forth in new life, as the birds wake us up with their hymns, look at the world around you and see what God has done for you.  One day all of creation will sing his praises.  Do you want to hear it?  See the tree and remember the sacrifice made for you.  Hear the birds singing and know that we are all made new again because of that sacrifice.  Open your eyes and ears to the glory around you.  What awesome gifts God has given that we seemingly take for granted. 

Trees and birds.  What do they mean to you?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Fragrance

 As a Perfume

As a perfume doth remain
in the folds where it has lain,
So the thought of you, remaining
Deeply folded in my brain,
Will not leave me, all things leave me
You remain.
Other thoughts may come and go
Other moments I may know
that shall waft me, in their going,
As a breath blown to and fro
Fragrant memories, fragrant memories
Come and go.
Only thoughts of you remain
In my heart where they have lain,
Perfumed thoughts of you, remaining
A hid sweetness, in my brain
Others leave me: all things leave me
You remain.
                 - Arthur Symons

Fragrances can transport you to a place you once were...to a memory of a time long gone.  A smell can remind you of a person you once loved, a place once visited.  A sweet smell can bring forth memories that makes you smile and want to dance again.

You open an old trunk and the musty smell transports you to a time when your grandmother is showing you the treasures of her life.  You remember her touch, her voice, her stories.  Cookies baking in the oven remind you of your mom when you were a child.  Coming in from playing outside and the smell of the cookies waft through the house, waiting to be devoured with a cold glass of milk.

Jesus is a sweet fragrance in our hearts.  When you take of the bread and drink of the wine, do you close your eyes and smell his love for you? Christ's smell is fragrant.  He is the Rose of Sharon,
the Lily of the Valley. 
The closer we walk with him, the sweeter we smell.  His smell invades us, seeps into us and becomes a part of our smell.

What smell do you want people to associate with you?  Is it sweet? Loving? Kind? Merciful?  Oh that my children one day smell a smell and remember me.  My love for them, my pride in them, the joy I have in their laughter.  Christ loves us the same and wants us to smell the sweet smell of his sacrifice for us and marvel in it.  Bathe in it.  Close our eyes and be thankful and gracious each time we take communion and remember the smell of his Love for us.

Fragrances.  Wash over us.  May you take communion in a whole new way now - not only remembering his sacrifice, but the sweet smell of his life and his love for you.

The Fragrance of His Life

Bowing my head, my life
after receiving the bread, the wine
my fingers knitted in prayer
lowering my face, to my hands
the fragrance of his life
washing over me,
in that moment, in that instant
the bread, the wine,
an aroma of his sacrifice
mixing with my tears
falling onto my folded hands
trembling in silent prayer 
                - Raymond A. Foss

 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Viewpoint


What do you see when you look at the piece of artwork displayed above?  Do you see a ballerina dancing?  Ribbons flowing?  Light dancing off her body as she balances on her toes?

What we see is a matter of viewpoint.  Perspective.  What one person sees will be different than what someone else sees.  I look at this and immediately see someone balancing her life on a single point.  Stretching and reaching to flowing ribbons cascading around her.  This is so indicative of our life.  We have ribbons of life all around us - kids, job, church, finances, sports, friendships, groups - and we are balancing on our toes, trying to make it all work seamlessly.  But, what would happen if we lost our balance?  What keeps her on her toes?  She has strength, endurance, balance in her life.  Do you have that in yours?  Where do you find it?

We find the balance we need in God's word.  His promises written in scripture help us learn the endurance and balance we need.  How do you learn God's word?  You read it.  Apply it.  Practice it.  Live it.  How does a ballerina become so good at twirling on her toes?  She studies ballet.  She practices ballet.  She lives ballet.  Our life should be more like hers - balanced, practiced, studied.  God gives us the steps we need to take to have a free flowing, blessed life.  Its in His word and its in the power of the Holy Spirit that he gave us when He ascended into heaven.  He didn't leave us here alone - he gave us the Holy Spirit to dwell in us


What do you see in the photo above?  Its quite different than the beauty of the ballerina isn't it?  I see something that could be growing, multiplying, taking over space.  I see the above picture as a symbol of sin in our lives.  Sin starts as one small cell.  Its a lie that we tell - nothing big.  But, as we live with that lie, try to cover that lie up, it grows.  Lie upon lie builds into something bigger than we can control.  I see it as a small act of sexual sin.  It only happened once, we think we can control it - until we are tempted again.  That one small act grows into another act, and then another, and before long we have this monster in the middle of our lives, taking up space and growing out of control.

How do we overcome the sin that so easily entangles us?  We present it to the Lord, ask for forgiveness, and reach for the promises in His word.  He promises to free us from our sins and cleanse us of all our unrighteousness.  

I saw the two pictures and immediately related them to things we deal with in our lives.  Have you ever thought to look at art that someone else has created and imagined what it was created for?  Looked for a deeper meaning?  Study these pictures.  Come up with your own viewpoint.  Consider expanding your horizons and viewing other art.  It was created for interpretation.  We must risk stepping outside of ourselves and delving into a world we may not want to touch in order to grow.

Take a chance on art today - and think about your viewpoint.  What does God want you to see and learn?  Listen to him...