God’s Filter

Pocket

A Filter

The other night Melody and I were spending some time together watching an older movie. She commented that when ever they showed one of the older actresses they always used a filter to soften her looks so she would appear younger. She thought about it for a minute and said, “I need one of those filters.” Actually she doesn’t, but you understand that we all want to look good to others, don’t we.

There have been numerous songs, poems and articles written about having the ability to see with “the father’s eyes”. It’s the idea that we gain the ability to see others with God’s love and compassion, you might say, even to cherish them.

David explains God’s relationship with us in a very cool way in Psalm 17:8 (ESV) Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings”. While Zechariah tells us in Zechariah 2:8 (ESV), “For thus said the Lord of hosts, after his glory sent me to the nations who plundered you, for he who touches you touches the apple of his eye”.

We have the saying, “Love is blind,” and that’s what our relationship to God is about, isn’t it. God sees us through a filter, a special filter of love that is focused through Jesus Christ our Lord.

It doesn’t matter how dirty, how disheveled, how old we are, we will always be beautiful to him. My wife is just as beautiful today, (if not more so), as the day we met! Why, that’s what the filter of love does for us. Notice what the Apostle Paul says about us as Christians in relationship to God in Ephesians 5:25-27. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present it to Himself as the glorious church, without spot or wrinkle or any such things, but that it should be holy and without blemish.”

God’s filter is love! I need to understand this more in my life because I often don’t see myself or others around me through the filter of love as does God. My prayer is that I might do a better job of taking on this ability as demonstrated for us by our God. How about you?

MISSIONS: The Real Deal: Our life in the Kenya, Africa mission field by [Lawson, Russ, Lawson, Melody]

Newly revised release of our mission book.

Pocket
Posted in God's Care, God's Love, happiness, hope, Judgment, Protection of God, trust God | Leave a comment

Communion

Pocket

What are you thinking….. The Lord’s Supper (Communion)

 

The Lord’s Supper, (or Communion) is one of the most important things in the life of Christians, yet it is sometimes misunderstood also. The Apostle Paul reminds the Corinthian Christians about what it is all about in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 . Notice what  he says…

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.”

When we gather for communion together as a church it is sometimes confusing to people, it’s not so much a question of knowing what do we do, but rather, what do we think……

We understand that it was presented to us by Jesus for the purpose of remembering him and the sacrifice he made for us, but it is more than something we just “DO”…. It is something which we are a part of… something we share with Christ and Others….. but mostly we participate for our own well being.

In the next verse 1 Corinthians 11:27 Jesus continues (NOTE: There is an unfortunate choice of words in The King James Version of 1 Corinthians 11:27.  This translation has caused some misunderstanding in this regard): “Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord”.

The wording of unworthily (in the King James Version), has made some Christians believe they had to “make themselves worthy” to partake in communion, or if they feel they have sinned they feel they are unworthy to come and remember what Jesus had done on the cross for them. Because of this they don’t join with their brothers and sisters in Communing with the Lord.

This is a serious misunderstanding, because if anyone needs to remember the work of Jesus on the cross, it is the one who has sinned! When we are repentant, our sin should drive us to our Savior, not away from Him!

Understand this: We can never really make ourselves “worthy” of what Jesus did for us on the cross. It is his blood that saves us and makes us worthy. He did it because of His great love, not because some of us were so worthy.

 

A better translation of verse 27 might be, “anyone takes the bread or the cup of the Lord in the wrong spirit… he will be responsible for the body and blood of the Lord” (BBE)

So again, it’s not so much a question of knowing what we do, but what we think as we do it. It is a matter of having our heart right with God with the right attitude.

We are human and it is so easy to become distracted while participating in the Lord’s Supper isn’t it?  We try to focus on Christ’s sacrifice and then someone sneezes, or a baby cries or we notice something or someone that causes our focus to shift just a little…. Then before we know it we are thinking about where we are going to eat lunch or some problem with work or things like that…. We catch ourselves and try to refocus, but again, that is just the human part of us it seems….

THE PROBLEM: I believe I know somewhat what the problem is…. It’s the quiet…. Everyone is quiet, trying to focus…. Trying to be respectful… trying to be thankful and in our world filled with distractions we don’t know how to handle the quiet….

Conclusion: So, what do we do? Here’s the thing….. I don’t know! Each of us is different, yet each of us struggle with the same problem… focusing on God in our lives…..

I’ve worshiped with some congregations that sing a soft meaningful song while sharing communion while others have meaningful scriptures read to help people focus…

Yet it all comes down to us personally and our relationship to Christ….. I don’t want to be “Unworthy” (or have the wrong spirit), and I’m sure you don’t either. I would suggest that if you can, pray to God to forgive us as the sinners we are and thank him for giving his life for us.

book- have you ever wondered why?

Pocket
Posted in communion, Lord's supper | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Journey

Pocket

We have been blessed to travel a lot in our lives and work. My wife and I have literally traveled and lived all over the United States as well as in Africa. We have also been blessed by being with each other, and we have been blessed by meeting many other Christians and non-Christians who have touched our lives where ever we have been. We often refer to our lives as “our adventure,” and most probably many of you can relate to that.

I recently read a quote that went something like this: “It doesn’t matter where your journey takes you as much as it matters who you take with you.” As with our “life adventure”, we have often felt this is true. We have taken so many unexpected paths on our journey and know for certain that it is who was with us that was most important.

Sadly, I’ve met some lonely people in my journeys as well as some people without much of a purpose or meaning to their lives. I think for at least some of them it’s because they are making the journey alone.

All Alone

Now here is the real question we need to consider: Who are you traveling with? We know that any person can let us down and any person can fail you and perhaps when you need them the most is when this happens. That being the case we need someone more in our lives that just people.

Trust and Obey

As you know I like many of the old hymn and one sprang to the front of my mind titled, “Trust and Obey,” notice some of the words…

 “When we walk with the Lord, In the light of His Word, What a glory He sheds on our way; While we do His good will, He abides with us still, And with all who will trust and obey.

 Not a shadow can rise,   Not a cloud in the skies, But His smile quickly drives it away; Not a doubt or a fear, Not a sigh or a tear, Can abide while we trust and obey

 Trust and obey, For there’s no other way To be happy in Jesus, But to trust and obey”.

 So, where is your journey… your adventure taking you and more importantly, who is traveling with you? If God is not with you, if you are not trusting in and obeying him I can guarantee you will have a rough road. Another old hymn says, “Not a step will I take without Jesus.” Or as the apostle Paul of God in Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.”

Living The Dream: Our Life and Adventures in Africa (Traveling and Adventures in Kenya Book 1) by [Lawson, Russ]         

Is God mad at me?: Why is bad stuff happening to me? Did I do something to make God mad? Am I really a bad person? Why do bad things happen to godly people? by [Lawson, Russ]

Pocket
Posted in Adventure, God's Care, influence, our purpose, prepare, Travel with God, Trust and Obey | 3 Comments

Hidden

Pocket

Yesterday while at the church building I was standing in the back of the auditorium talking with my brother-in-law, Ralph. I was standing behind him, next to the wall. Melody, my wife, finally came up and said, “I’ve been looking for you, but didn’t see you.” Ralph replied, “I was hiding him.” It was a simple little encounter, but one that illustrates an important concept in our lives.

Dove in Cleft of rock

One of our oldest hymns is, “Rock of Ages”. The composer, Augustus Toplady, was born in England in 1740 and wrote the hymn in 1775. It has been made famous through the years as a church hymn and has been used in motion pictures, television programs and even as a Broadway play. So to say the least it is one of the best known hymns, even among those who are not religious.

Let me remind you of some of the words of this important hymn:

“Rock of ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee. Let the water and the blood. From Thy riven side which flowed, Be of sin the double cure, Cleanse me from it’s guilt and pow’r.

Not the labors of my hands can fulfill thy law’s commands; could my zeal no respite know, could my tears forever flow, all for sin could not atone; thou must save, and thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling; naked, come to thee for dress; helpless, look to thee for grace; Vile, I to the fountain fly; wash me, Savior, or I die.

While I draw this fleeting breath, when mine eyes shall close in death, when I soar to worlds unknown, see thee on thy judgment throne, Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee.”

The idea of being hidden in the cleft of the rock was not just Toplady’s idea, it actually comes from Scripture. When Moses went up on the mountain in Exodus 33 to speak with God, He would not allow Moses to look directly at him and tells him that no one has looked him in the face and lived to tell about it. In verse 22, God says, “And it will be, while My glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by.”

In Psalms 27:4-5 David wrote these words about being hidden by God “One thing I have desired from Jehovah, that I will seek after: that I may dwell in the house of Jehovah all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of Jehovah, and to pray in His temple. For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His shelter, in the secrecy of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me up on a rock.”

At some point all of us need to be hidden don’t we, we need to feel protected and cared for and who better to do that than our God? What’s more important is that he promises us life eternal so we sing with meaning, “Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee.”

In the Cleft of the Rock: Insights into the Blood of Jesus, Resurrection Power, and Saving the Soul by [Webb, Michael J.]

Pocket
Posted in contentment, disapointed, discouraged, eternal life, Faith, fear, God's Care, Hidden in Christ, Protection of God, Trust, trust God, Uncategorized | Tagged | 1 Comment

A Child like view of death

Pocket

Child

Death surrounds us in this world as do the seemingly unlimited group of grass roots philosophers. You may have seen the signs or bumper stickers that say things like: “You’re born, you get stuff and then you die, Live with it!” or “He who dies with the most stuff wins!”

Is there more to life than just “Stuff,” just being born, living for a while and then dying. Each of us who are Christians wear that name because we believe that there is more to it than that. The problem we face is that Satan is continually trying to get us to forget that faith, to forget the promises we have from God of a life that goes on after death.

John writes in John 14:2-3, “In my Father’s house there are many resting-places. Were it otherwise, I would have told you; for I am going to make ready a place for you. And if I go and make ready a place for you, I will return and take you to be with me, that where I am you also may be.” This is just one of the many passages that tell us of a better life to come after this one is ended. The problem is that we read the words and even understand the meaning, but forget to put it into our heart, our faith and live like we really believe it.

I’m reminded of an incident that happened about 20 years ago. My sister Janet’s pet dog Levi died. She was dreading telling her grandchildren about this loss of part of their small world. When the grandkids came for a visit and she sat them down and explained it to them and got an unexpected response. Xavier who was about 2 years old at the time ran outside, looked up to the sky and yelled, “Hey God, how do you like your new dog?

Wow! It gives me goose bumps just thinking about what it means to have “a childlike faith” like that. I know that the scripture doesn’t tell us dogs go to heaven, but the point is that this little fellow didn’t waste anytime sorrowing, crying or worrying. He just accepted that God takes care of us after death and then went on with his normal happy routine of life.

I don’t know about you, but the next time I face death, I’m praying for the faith that will allow me to say, “Hey God, how do you like your new child being with you?” Whether it’s a husband, wife, child, father, mother, sister or brother if we are Christians then we are all children of God.

Have a great day in the Lord!

 

 

 

Pocket
Posted in death | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Dad’s Memory Box

Pocket

Dad’s box of memories

 

Recently my mother was going through my fathers things and found a small cardboard box about 2 inches by 3 inches. She gave it to me and said she thought I might like to have it.

It contained a mix of small items and left me wondering why he had kept them. It contains and old paper covered 12 gauge shotgun shell, five 22 caliber cartridges, an old square cut nail, two sets of cufflinks, a 1-1/2 inch high oriental carving, two car key ID tags from the 50’s, a tire valve stem removing tool, a button in the shape of a small dog, a lapel pin with the word “Sunbeam” on it and a hat pin. It caused me to wonder why a nearly 80 year old man would have these things in a box in a drawer in his bedroom.

Of course I didn’t have to wonder for long as I thought about my own life and realize I have a little box similar to his in a drawer in my bedroom. I’ve had it since I was a youngster and it too contains a variety of items I collected in my youth for one reason or another. But now in my 70’s why do I still have them… these pieces of useless junk. I think it is because it somehow connects me to my youth. It contains dreams and memories and in some ways even hopes I had in my youth.

Perhaps you have a box of your own and can understand. Our life is partially sustained and motivated by our hopes and dreams isn’t it? Those dreams of our youth, our vision for the future if you will, for the most part direct our decisions and the direction of our lives.

Isn’t that what God has done for mankind? He has kept us, loved us; saved us, even though we at times are pretty much useless, even when most of the world would have thrown us away.

Why would he do that when so often it seems in our minds that we fail him and others in our lives? Notice what he tells the prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 29:11-13 about his plans for Israel. God Says: “I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for. Then you will call to me. You will come and pray to me, and I will answer you. You will seek me, and you will find me because you will seek me with all your heart.”

So, what’s in your memory box? What is it that you treasure? Hopefully it is those things that will cause you to seek God with all of your heart.

 

Stories to touch the Heart

 

More stories to touch the heart

 

Pocket
Posted in Dad, Father's Day, Favorite Thngs, hope, Memories | 2 Comments

Memorial day – There is a difference

Pocket

Memorial Day

Someone posted this following explanation online and I love how they made it so simple to understand.

OUR HOLIDAYS

Armed Forces Day (3rd Saturday of May):  To remember those who currently wear the uniform.

Veterans Day (November 11th): To remember those who used to wear the uniform.

Memorial Day (Last Monday of May): To remember those who never made it out of uniform.

I know that we often confuse these days that are special to our Nation. They are special and should touch our hearts as we remember those who were willing to give so much that we might live in this great nation of ours. We honor those to whom honor is due and hopefully really understand what each of these special days mean. It is more than just a Vacation day off from work or a great time spent with family and friends eating great food. They are truly days of remembrance and I pray that each of us take a moment (at the least), and remember those who sacrificed and are still sacrificing for us.

Remember the Lord’s Day

And of course there is the most special day, The Lord’s Day, (Celebrated The first day of each week): To remember the one who gave it all that you might live eternally. People often forget the true meaning of that sacrifice, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Yet it is at the very core of our belief and relationship with God. The apostle Paul had to remind folks of this in 1 Corinthians 15:14. People had forgotten and some were denying that it had actually happened. Paul says: “and if Christ has not been raised from death, then we have nothing to preach and you have nothing to believe.”

 

The truth of that fact is perhaps more important that we think. Paul also said in 1Corinthians 15:17-18: “And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is a delusion and you are still lost in your sins. It would also mean that the believers in Christ who have died are lost.

Death, burial and resurrection

 

The death burial and resurrection of Jesus is intimately tied to our own. I know that some folks forget that this is true, but it really is. The Lord’s Day is not just a day we gather to have a good time together, it is a time of remembering the most important truth of all. That Jesus of Nazareth came to this earth and lived, died, was buried and raised again so that we might live with him eternally. I’d say that is worth remembering… wouldn’t you?

Have you ever wondered why 

  Stories To Touch The Heart

Other books by Russ Lawson

 

Pocket
Posted in committment, Remembering | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

For what will you be rememberer…

Pocket

Blue Hair

 

Our grand daughter Allison decided to make a fashion statement this week… She had the lower half of her hair died bright blue. This morning when I picked her up for school I told her I had a song I wanted to sing for her. I sang (to the tune of Blue skies and rainbows)…. “Blue hair and rainbows the beauty that surrounds her are what I can see when my grand daughter is riding with me.” To be honest she didn’t seem impressed, but I told her that now she would think of me anytime she heard the song….

rainbow

I believe that all of us have a desire to be remembered or at least thought of in a good light. Perhaps that desire strengthens as we age and realize that we will not always be here to interact with people’s lives. Psalm 90:10 gives this general comment on men’s lives. “The measure of our life is seventy years; and if through strength it may be eighty years, its pride is only trouble and sorrow, for it comes to an end and we are quickly gone.

Kevin R. came up with this list of things to do in your life if you want to be remembered. 7 Ways To Be Remembered After Death: Give Generously, Have Time for Others, Be Helpful, Respect Everyone, Develop an Open, Loving Attitude, Be Genuine, and Show Compassion.

Scripture

Those seem like pretty good suggestions and they go along with scripture also. The first things that popped into my head was 1 Corinthians 13:4-7: “Love is never tired of waiting; love is kind; love has no envy; love has no high opinion of itself, love has no pride; Love’s ways are ever fair, it takes no thought for itself; it is not quickly made angry, it takes no account of evil; It takes no pleasure in wrongdoing, but has joy in what is true; Love has the power of undergoing all things, having faith in all things, hoping all things.

If you want to be remembered long after you have died, try living as the scripture instructs us.

May you live long and prosper in this life!

Vulcan Salute

Pocket
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

God Knows Your Name

Pocket

God knows your name…

Book of Names

 

You may have noticed that I haven’t been writing lately. That is mostly because of the unexpected event with my heart a few weeks ago. I am on the mend and very slowly regaining my strength and hope to be writing more once again.

Heart Attack

I recently ran across a saying that spoke to me and hopefully it will to you also. It goes like this: “The devil knows your name but calls you by your sin… God knows your sin, but calls you by your name.”

There is so much truth to that saying isn’t there? Everywhere we look and in everything we hear Satan is calling us isn’t he? Even in the smallest things can be a temptation can’t they?

Wedding Band

This week I went to the Dollar Store and as I was walking up to the store, just in front of the curb I spotted something shining and round. I picked it up and it was a gold wedding band small enough to fit onto my little finger. I thought to myself, “As doubtful as it is I’ll find the manager and give it to them and maybe someone will come to claim it.” I did my shopping and had the thought,  (the devil whispered in my ear…) “it is most likely that no one will claim it anyway, maybe I should just take it home and give it to Melody.”  However, when I got to the checkout, I presented it to the cashier, an older lady. She took one look at it, looked down at her finger and cried out, “Oh my, it’s mine, I didn’t know I had lost it.” With tears in her eyes she told me she had been married for 43 years and it meant so much to her.” It made me feel good about myself and my decision, but what if I had listened to the devil’s whispers?

 

Father of Lies

John 8:44 has this to say about the devil: … because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yes, he truly calls us by the sin that will most entice us at that moment in time, he tells us it is a good decision… but he lies. He lies, because he wants us to come to him, to serve him to eventually live with him.

Yet, our most holy God calls us by our name as one of his children. He loves and will never tells us a lie, never mislead us, will always set us on the path that leads to the right things. Isaiah 43:1 tells us:But now, says the Lord your Maker, O Jacob, and your life-giver, O Israel: have no fear, for I have taken up your cause; naming you by your name, I have made you mine.” (BBE) That is what I want! I want a relationship with my God who knows me by name.

In John 10:14 Jesus says: “I am the good shepherd; and I know mine own, and mine own know me,” (ASV) I want to know God in that way and to realize I am truly know by him.

God knows us, he has always known us. God said this to Jeremiah in Jeremiah 1:5  “Before you were formed in the body of your mother I had knowledge of you, and before your birth I made you holy…”

Who do you want to serve? Who do you want a relationship with? The choice is yours, either the devil or our most holy God who calls you by your name?

 

Pocket
Posted in evil | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Celebrating Easter

Pocket

Cross at Sunrise

Recently we were watching some of the old 8mm movies my parents filmed while we were growing up. I noticed something while watching them, that was they were almost all special occasions. Things like Christmas, birthdays and many years recorded of us celebrating Easter. You could always tell it was Easter because my parents would line us kids up to show off our “Easter cloths,” (at least while we were little kids). My sister Janet would be dressed up in a frilly dress, usually with a hat and my little brother and I would be wearing ties and jackets. We would pile into the car and head for church and have our regular worship assembly. Normally we would gather with extended family for a carry in lunch meal at my grandparent’s home. Of course the traditional ham and potato salad, etc. and I even remember my aunt Lorene making a cake one year in the shape of a lamb with fuzzy coconut in the icing. That was how we celebrated Easter.

Now what does that have to do with the traditional Easter the world celebrates? Just that we see it differently than much of the world. Melody has shared that when she came into our family that was one of the things that surprised her, that is: “Why we don’t have special Easter services in our church.” Of course it didn’t take her long to figure it out as key to our beliefs is at remembrance of the death, burial and resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ.  The difference of course is that we celebrate this every week rather than just once a year. That is really what the Lord’s Supper is all about, isn’t it?

Paul reminds us in with these words in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26: “For I received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which he was betrayed took bread; and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, This is my body, which is for you: this do in remembrance of me. In like manner also the cup, after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood: this do, as often as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink the cup, ye proclaim the Lord’s death till he come.” (ASV)

Did you notice the phrase, “as often as ye”? That seems to indicate that it is more than a once a year event. Acts 20:7 shares this understand, “And upon the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread.” The purpose of them coming together each week was to “break bread” or “partake in the Lord’s Supper” with each other. While 1 Corinthians 16:2 indicates that the first Christians met “every first day of the week”.

So, is it wrong to “celebrate Easter”? No, it’s never wrong to remember the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. However remember His Word, the Bible, tells us to do it each and every week. I hope you still enjoy dressing up special and the special family meals, I do!

Living The Dream: Our Life and Adventures in Africa (Traveling and Adventures in Kenya Book 1) by [Lawson, Russ]  A book full of the love of God and the adventure of living a Christ filled life… Follow along with the authors adventure as missionaries in Africa and understand what it means to trust fully in God. 

Pocket
Posted in committment, content, contentment, Easter, eternal life, God's Care | Tagged | Leave a comment