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I’m sitting at our dining table looking out the back patio door. On the patio I see a leaf, dried and brown, but that is not unusual, especially at this time of year. It’s the time we celebrate Thanksgiving and remember all of God’s blessings. In reality, our yard is filled with leaves, it’s part of nature, part of how the world works. I understand that some folks don’t really appreciate this change, but I like to think of it in a positive light and enjoy God’s beauty.
The thought the leaf brought to my mind is that only a short time ago it was on a tree, bright green and shining. That of course led me to thinking about the course of our life also. Things change so very quickly don’t they? I mean, where has the time gone? I have been re-reading Melody and My book, “Living the dream, our life and adventures in Africa.” I just read a paragraph that spoke of my celebrating my 47th birthday in Kenya. That’s been 23 years and it is covered in just a few pages in a book. What happened? How did I get from there to where I am at now?
Yes, I could detail all of the steps it took to get where we are now, but isn’t that the question we all ask at some point? We are in school, maybe teenagers, maybe just married and suddenly we have grandchildren and many of the friends of our youth have already passed from this life.
There is an old hymn that has some very pertinent words for us about this process. The hymn is titled, “Swiftly we’re turning” and the words go like this:
“Swiftly we’re turning life’s daily pages, Swiftly the hours are changing to years. How are we using God’s golden moments? Shall we reap glory? Shall we reap tears?”
What happens to us is just that life happens as it is supposed to, as is according to God’s plan. You are probably familiar with the passage in Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 where we are reminded that:
For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.
What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all.
Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.
Yes, an old, dried, brown leaf can have a lot of meaning if you just stop and think about it… especially when you think about it in relationship to the length of and purpose of your life. How are you doing? How about choosing to think about the eternity God has planted in our heart. There is only one way to get that and that is through change. Rather than trying to stop it we need to embrace it… after all, the pages are turning swiftly, aren’t they.
Are you undergoing some struggle in your life right now? If not then give it time, because you most likely will at some time in your future. I’m not trying to be pessimistic, but I’ve seen how the world (and living in it), works. Yes, I’m sure that some folks have what we perceive to be “the perfect life,” but I doubt that is really the case.
I remember hearing a story about our problems that went something like this: A man was deeply troubled having a very serious problem in his life. He looked at those around him and did not see anyone who seemed to suffer as he was. That night when he went to bed he prayed to God to lift his problem from him. When he went to sleep he began to dream. In the dream he saw people walking in a circle throwing their problem in a pile in the center. Each person was then free to choose a problem someone else had discarded to replace their own. He joined the circle and walked around the pile of problems. As he circled searching for a problem he would choose to bear he discovered that many people who he had thought had light problems actually had heavy burdens. In the end he chose to pick up the problem he had discarded and bear it once again. Sometimes it is true, the trouble we know is better than the devil we don’t.
How many times have you heard someone say, “Just hold on a little longer,” or “It’s always darkest before the dawn,” or “It will get worse before it gets better,” or “God has a plan for you,” or “You just have to believe,” or perhaps one of the thousands of other variations of these sayings.
When you are dealing with a deep hurt, a struggle that causes pain in your heart, those words often aren’t of much comfort, are they? And yet if we claim to be Christians we face the battle around the question of Faith don’t we? One of passages which troubled me for many years is Matthew 17:20where Jesus said: “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
What Jesus is saying here is that Faith is the most important thing we can have in our lives, it is central to our relationship to God. Did Jesus literally mean that we are suppose to try to move mountains with their minds? No, not at all; Jesus was using a common phrase from their society which all Jews knew. A Rabbi would talk about resolving difficulties as “uprooting or pulverizing mountains”. Jesus never meant for this to be taken literally, but the passage is talking about the power of even just a little bit of faith to heal our lives.
Having even “Just a little bit” of faith implies that you have a relationship with Jesus to start with. It is impossible to “cast your cares (or burdens) on him,” (1 Peter 5:7), if you have let the relationship with him slip away. He is not asking for a mountain sized faith, he is begging you for have the faith of a mustard seed.
So where are you in dealing with your problems? Where are you in your relationship to Jesus? You can’t deal with the problems without having faith, even just a little bit of it.
Many of you know that I’ve been debilitated for the past (almost) two months. Yesterday I had a consultation with my doctor regarding the results of my MRI last week. It seems they found some compressed disks in my lower back. So, now I see a specialist and see where that takes me.
I mentioned to Melody the other day that I was getting tired of sitting around so much and wanted to get back to work. She in her wisdom told me, “You’ve got to walk right first!” OK, I admit it, I have been tending to stumble at times lately and have not had perfect balance with my leg giving away unexpectedly. So, she’s right, before I can get on with the things necessary in my life, I’ve got to walk right.
The same thing is true of our spiritual life isn’t it? We stumble around at times unable to walk as we would wish and then are confused by the fact that we don’t have a better relationship with God. What do you have to do to learn to “walk right”?
John gives us a little insight into that in 1 John 1:6-7 where he writes: “If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.“
For me to begin to “walk right,” physically I’m going to have to follow the doctor’s orders or prescribed treatment. For us to walk right spiritually we are going to have to do the same thing.
The problem I have is that sometimes I’m not a very good patient. The doctor tells me, “Do these exercises, take this medicine, etc.”, and I try to do that for the most part, but sometimes I get lazy and don’t follow them exactly and because of that sometimes I don’t heal as quickly as I should.
Some are the same with spiritual things. God gives us specific directions as to how to walk in this life, how to serve him, yet we get lazy and don’t want to follow His will exactly. God reminds His people in the Old Testament of this problem and encourages them to do better in Deuteronomy 5:32-33 where he says through Moses: “So be careful to do what the LORD your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. Walk in obedience to all that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.”
So, if you want to stop stumbling around religiously, trying to walk right spiritually but not doing such a good job of it, then get with the program and be obedient to God, do what He says, even when it’s hard and even when you don’t want to. Because before you can be successful spiritually you have to walk right.
I finally completed a work I have have going on for several years and wanted to share this information with you.
It is a Amazon Kindle release and will be listed for free downloads for the next 3 days. Please take a look at it, please share the link with your friends, please give me review of the book. This is very important in the Amazon sales promotion system. The more reviews you get the higher you are in their promotion/advertisment system.
Anyway, take a look.
This morning our oldest son dropped off our grand daughter on his way to work. My wife takes her to school and later picks her up. We were fixing breakfast and just chatted with him for a few moments. He mentioned that he was tired today, so I gave him some herbs to give him a boost in energy. His mom jokingly said, “The herbs dad gives us will help us stay healthy for many years,” then she added, “He’s really trying to help us live forever.”
I thought about that and realized once again that I am married to a very wise woman. Yes, I do deal with the physical side of life (herbs and such), but I also deal more heavily with the spiritual side of life.
I love the old song we no longer hear, but has a great message. The words say, “I’m going to live forever, I’m going to die no never…. Jesus died on a cross for me and I’m going to live forever.”
Where do you put your emphasis in life? I know people who spend thousands of dollars on exercise club memberships, exercise equipment, etc. They spend hours and hours working out, some have special life coaches or counselors they spend time with each week. They look good and feel good physically, but spiritually they are lacking. They struggle to make it through life and all that it throws at them, yet (for some), they don’t find what they are looking for.
I will be the first to admit that some of the things with which people struggle go beyond just a lack of spirituality. I know that there are some genuine physical problems (illnesses, imbalances, etc.), that account for some emotional problems. I realize that there are some situations over which you have no control that bring stress and difficulties into your life, both physically, emotionally and spiritually. It’s hard to hold on to the thought offered in Romans 8:28 where Paul writes: “All things work together for good for those who love the Lord.” I am preparing a class on the book of Jonah right now, and one of the lessons I discovered is that God can sometimes allow bad things to happen to get out attention.
There are two things we need to remember about life: (1) there is a great physician who can help us in all aspects of our life. 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you”. (NIV)
(2) Our life does not truly consist of just the physical. Luke 12:4tells us, “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do”. (ESV)
Yes, the physical is important, that’s why I study and practice Herbal medicine, but that’s not all there is to life. I want to live forever, so I practice at the spiritual side of my life too. You only have one chance to get it right, so how are you doing?
Most of the younger generation believes that the idea Tweeting came into being with them, those of us who have been around awhile know differently. Tweeting is the idea of conveying a message with very few letters or words. Our generation has been doing that for years and years.
It seems that we naturally have a thing for writing encrypted (sometimes shortened) messages in the things we write. When I was in grade school, my friends and I would make up “secret codes” and spend hours writing (on paper) private messages to each other.
As we matured we outgrew simple codes and became more sophisticated in the method and message… we discovered “Vanity License Plates” or “Personalized License Plates” for our cars, trucks and motorcycles. These vary in the United States from state to state, but normally state a message using 5 – 7.5 letters. Other countries follow the same practice, in the United Kingdom they are called, “prestige plate, private number plate, cherished plateor personalized registration”. These license plates sometimes carry special messages designed by the purchaser, sometimes easy and sometimes difficult to decipher.
My wife and I keep an eye out for these plates and try to discover or understand the message they contain. For example we saw a bright lime green car this week on which the plated said, “I NO RIT” or “I know, right!” We supposed it was referring to the uniqueness of the color of the car. Then there was, “MY1VET,” “IMAJEDI,” “DOES185,” “PDOFF,” “H20 WELL, and on of my favorites “AFORDY7,” seen on a 1947 Ford.
I think you can get the idea that we are a pretty clever bunch of beings, but did you realize that God beat us too it in this area. Way back in Exodus 3:13-14 we read, “But Moses replied, “When I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ So what can I tell them? God said, “I am who I am. You must tell them: ‘The one who is called I AM has sent me to you.'”
There has been much speculation regarding the meaning of this message. What does, “I AM” mean, is it a name or a description? I believe it is a description trying to convey the power of the creator of the universe. I like how Matthew Henry’s commentary puts it. He says the message of “I AM” is: “1. That he is self-existent: he has his being of himself. 2. That he is eternal and unchangeable, and always the same, yesterday, to-day, and forever.” I like that description of the message, it may not be exactly what God had in mind when he gave us the three letter message, but then if we live according to his instructions in the rest of His Book, we can find out in person someday, can’t we?
Have you ever met one of those people who as they say, “lights up the room when they come in”? I hope you have, because I have and it gives hope to life.
Where I work I have a friend named Anthony, he is one of those people. It may not be a coincidence, but I find it interesting that he works in the Lighting/ Electrical department. He helps bring light into people’s lives physically, but also spiritually. Anthony is a lover of God and is not afraid to share his relationship with the father with others. He is one of those folks I look for when I’m at work, because he makes work seem… well, less like work, he brings a little light into my life, a little hope when I see God working in him.
Of course the example for us all is Jesus Christ, our God; our Brother; our friend and our support. I love the description that the Apostle John gives of Jesus in the book of John. In John 1:1-5 we read, “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through Him, and nothing was created except through Him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and His life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” (NLT)
There is our example, the true bringer of the light! We sometimes sing a hymn that says, “Oh to be like thee, blessed redeemer,” but I wonder if we really understand the full impact of those words, of what he was and what he did. John goes on and says, “The One who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He came into the very world He created, but the world didn’t recognize Him. He came to His own people, and even they rejected Him.” (John 1: 9-11)
You see what this says is that if you try to live as a Christian and bring light to others; don’t expect them to always thank you. They rejected Jesus, they will often reject you.
I don’t know about you, but I pray that I can be a little more like Anthony to those around me, but even more I pray that I can let the light of Christ be seen in me. There is no such thing as a secret Christian, you either are or you aren’t. Jesus himself said in Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world… like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.”
When is the last time someone was glad to see you coming? Could it be you need to let the light of Jesus be seen more in your life?
When is the last time you messed up? Maybe it was something big, maybe was just a little something, but we all mess up in life from time to time, don’t we?
This week, I was talking with a couple of people at work and that night I started thinking about the conversation. The next day I went to each of them and said, “I want to apologize, I said something negative and I shouldn’t have.”Each of them said, “That’s OK, we didn’t think anything about it.” That little incident cost me nothing, reminded me of the value of watching what I said and let others know that as a Christian I have certain values.
In the gospel record of Christ’s arrest before his crucifixion we read of his disciple Peter’s actions. You are probable aware of how he denied even know Jesus, not once, but three times. How would you like to be remembered for that?
In John 21 Jesus comes to the disciples on the shore of the Sea of Galilee about a week after his death, burial and resurrection. He serves them breakfast and has one of his more famous discussions with Peter. He asks Peter, “Do you love me,” not just once, but three times. Now think about the situation. He was sitting there around the fire having breakfast with all of the other disciples. Each of those men knew that Peter had denied Jesus.
What was worse is that just a week before this we have the following conversation recorded for EVERYONE to see and remember: “Peter declared, “Even if everyone else deserts You, I will never desert you.” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter; this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know Me “No!” Peter insisted. “Even if I have to die with You, I will never deny You!” And all the other disciples vowed the same.” (Matthew 26:33-35)
Wow, how embarrassing would that be now as he is sitting there with Jesus at breakfast! Jesus. In the end Peter couldn’t bear it, he just bows his head, heart broken, and says, “Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, You know everything. You know that I love You.” Jesus said, “Then feed My sheep.” Jesus was saying, “then live like you mean it, like you really, really love me!” (John 21:17)
You see, that is what Jesus is asking of us every day. He knows we are going to mess us, but we need to own up to it even if it is embarrassing, ask for forgiveness and then get on with serving God. It maybe some little thing or it could be some big thing… it doesn’t matter. Make it right no matter how embarrassing and get on with living like you really love God. The apostle John, who saw all of this take place, wrote in 1John 1:8-9, “If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness“. Maybe it is time to stop being embarrassed and start making things right with God and your fellow men.
This past week was a bit of a struggle for me. I had a problem with my back, my sciatic nerve to be exact, which affected my leg also. Because of this problem for several days I used a cane to walk with, it supported me and kept me stable as I walked. Most of the time this cane sits in the back of a closet, but it’s great to have it when you need it.
Our son, Kirk is often seen carrying a cane. He has at times had to use it for the same reasons as have I, but most of the time he carries it for a different reason. He teaches Martial Arts and one of the forms he practices is called “Bartitsu,” which is called a “Mixed Martial Arts Form.” Basically Bartitsu is a form of martial arts that uses a cane as a defensive weapon.
I know it may seem strange to be writing about a cane, but I’m mentioning this because of a comment by a member of our church family, Gary. Recently he said, “Some folks say, ‘your religion is a cane (or a crutch) to get you through life when you can’t cope,’ and they are right, but that’s not a bad thing, it’s the way it is suppose to be.”
I hadn’t thought of it in that context before, but he is exactly right. We who are Christians have something that those who are not Christians don’t have. We have a hope, a faith, a belief in someone greater than any problem we can face on earth. While dealing with my back injury there were a couple of times that my cane kept me from falling when my leg gave out. It supported me and did exactly what a cane is supposed to do. Our cane (or our crutch), is Christ and His church and it is doing exactly what it is suppose to be doing; helping and supporting us, keeping us from, falling. Hebrews 4:15 tells us, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are, yet he did not sin.” Christ understands and supports us, holds us up when we are about to fall, “IF” we hold tight to him as our cane and our support.
In a different application a spiritual cane is also that which is used to protect us and fight against Satan, (The gates of hell shall not prevail against the church, Matthew 16:18). That shows an aggressive approach to fighting Satan… so our cane, our crutch is useful in that way also. There are times that we as Christians must take a stand against Satan and Sin!
So, my conclusion to all of this is that yes, Christ and his church are my cane, my crutch, and I’m proud of it, because I know my weakness, I know how easily I can fall. Maybe you need to become more involved in the use of this cane to lift up yourself and others. Each of us have a choice; we can leave Christ leaning in the back of the closet or take him out and make him a real part of our lives. Could it be that you need to learn to lean on Christ and his Church a little more than you do?
DID YOU KNOW…Any cheese which is labeled as “processed cheese” is really only 49% cheese (even thought it is labeled as “Real Cheese”. The other 51% is coloring, binders, preservatives, and stabilizers. So… does that make processed cheese “real” cheese or only a “cheese like” product. How close to “the real thing,” does something need to be before it is considered… well… real?
DID YOU KNOW… that there are no regulations regarding the labeling of Honey? A product can have as little as 1% honey (the rest corn syrup), and still be labeled as 100% honey. How much honey does it need to be real honey.
DID YOU KNOW… that many who claim to be Christians, don’t read their bible regularly, don’t attend the worship periods of the church, don’t share their faith with others, don’t fellowship with other Christians, often don’t live their lives as if Christ lived within them, yet are still labeled as “Christians”. How much much of God’s directions or commands do you need to keep to still be considered a “real” Christian?
John wrote in 1 John 2:3-4, “We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.” So… how much does it take to be a real Christian according to God’s Word? It seems to me that God is saying that it takes (at least trying to give), 100% of our lives to him.
Is 49% of the real thing enough? Well, that’s one of the reasons we don’t buy “processed cheese,” I want the “real” thing. Do you think that God will be satisfied with 49% of your life?