Wednesday, September 20, 2017

THE ORIGINAL TWITTER




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 plate or 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?

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

BRINGER OF THE LIGHT





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?

Friday, September 15, 2017

Wow, That's Embarrassing!


 
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.

Friday, June 30, 2017

The Cane



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?

Friday, June 23, 2017

Is 49% enough?



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?

Friday, May 26, 2017

A Come to Jesus Meeting

It may be strange to think of it, but when we say the phrase, “Come to Jesus” it has a different meaning to some than it did just a few years ago.

For example, you may hear someone speak of a "Come To Jesus Meeting". In our American culture this describes a time when a polite ultimatum is given, generally followed by a less polite ultimatum, then a threat or final option. If you are a parent this may mean that “your meeting” is followed by a parental spanking or some other form of punishment. If you are an adult, something more sever may be the result of “your meeting”.

The phrase may be used in this way: “Son, this is your only opt ion and if you do not want to do this, then you can come here and we will have a "come to Jesus meeting". In other words, there will be consequences to your decision not to comply with the request.

In reality that meaning has not changed from the original has it? Jesus came to call all men unto him, right? For what purpose? To initiate a change in their lives an actions and to ultimately save them from their sins. He never threatens, but does point out the consequences for someones “failure to comply”. The refusal to give our hearts to him, to love him enough to do what he asks has t he consequences of eternal separation from God.

We tend to categorize sins (the refusal to obey God’s directions) as either big sins or little sins, but in reality they all bear the same consequences don’t they? A good example of this is found in Revelation 21:8, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

A modern translation puts it this way: “But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars, their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.

What is the second death? It is an eternal separation from God, the source of life, which by definition is a spiritual death. If you want to understand a true “come to Jesus meeting,” that is it. Sin of any kind is still sin and our failure to comply with God’s request brings about the ultimate consequences, eternal death.

How about you, is it time for you “come to Jesus meeting?”

The phrase may be used in this way: “Son, this is your only opt ion and if you do not want to do this, then you can come here and we will have a "come to Jesus meeting". In other words, there will be consequences to your decision not to comply with the request.

In reality that meaning has not changed from the original has it? Jesus came to call all men unto him, right? For what purpose? To initiate a change in their lives an actions and to ultimately save them from their sins. He never threatens, but does point out the consequences for someones “failure to comply”. The refusal to give our hearts to him, to love him enough to do what he asks has t he consequences of eternal separation from God.

We tend to categorize sins (the refusal to obey God’s directions) as either big sins or little sins, but in reality they all bear the same consequences don’t they? A good example of this is found in Revelation 21:8, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

A modern translation puts it this way: “But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars, their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.

What is the second death? It is an eternal separation from God, the source of life, which by definition is a spiritual death. If you want to understand a true “come to Jesus meeting,” that is it. Sin of any kind is still sin and our failure to comply with God’s request brings about the ultimate consequences, eternal death.

How about you, is it time for you “come to Jesus meeting?”


Is 49% enough?

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?