Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Adventure

I have had a small note, (which I read often), stuck to the front of my computer for a good while. It is a quote from Helen Keller that says, "Life is an adventure, or it is nothing". One definition of the word "adventure" is: "an undertaking involving unknown risks," another is: "and exciting or remarkable experience," and if Helen Keller didn't understand what that meant, no one could. Both blind and deaf, she overcame this challenge and with the help of others, turned her life into "a remarkable experience," which has been an inspiration to so many in our world.

My wife and I often talk about "the adventure" our life has been. Granted our life decisions are not for everyone, what we choose to do would not fit your life. However, having said that, it doesn't mean that your life has not been or cannot be an adventure also. We may be different physically and emotionally, but we each have the God given Spirit of Life and as long as there is breath and life in us, our own personal adventure continues.

God's Word is filled with the records of people who have chosen to live a life of adventure, undertaking the unknown risks, having (sometimes) remarkable experiences. Isn't that what draws us to God, isn't that what causes us to read with excitement the stories recorded in his word. How many of you remember the stories first taught to you by your Bible School teachers of Adam and Eve, of Abraham and Sarah, of Isaac and Esau or of Noah and his family in the Ark? What about the early disciples of Jesus as they left their homes and followed him, then they spread out through the whole world sharing his message.

But, that is not the role he has given to most of us and it may seem like your life lacks adventure. To some God has given the role of husband or wife, or teacher or factory worker, or Elder or Deacon, or encourager or contributor. Your life may not seem particularly exciting or adventurous, but our greatest adventure is the one in which we all share, we who follow Jesus. It is the adventure that comes when this life is over, the great transition of our physical death or our eternal life with our God in Heaven.

For the time being, "The Adventure Continues," our life never lacks purpose (or being a remarkable experience), if we just focus on being the best wherever God places us. The apostle Paul writes these words to encourage some who may have felt cheated because they couldn't do what others could. "There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work". (1 Corinthians 12:4-6) I pray that you will see the adventure in your life and find fulfillment in it, whatever it may be!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Singing to the Creation

Have you ever thought about how large a roll singing plays in the world? We sing when we mourn, and we sing when we worship but most of all we sing when we are happy. God intended it to be that way and shows us by example how to rejoice and share our happiness.

Can you imagine the first morning Adam awoke in the Garden of Eden and heard the birds singing? Can you imagine God walking through the garden and humming to himself as he enjoys his creation? I must admit that it is somewhat of a stretch of even my active imagination, but do you think HE just might have?

God tells us through Isaiah 49:13: "Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the Lord has comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted."

Our son Kirk shared this little incident that happened with our granddaughter Allison last week: "So I have picked up my 7 year old daughter Allison and we are driving home. She is singing happily to herself when she suddenly decides to talk about her future employment and career options. She says to me, "I do like singing. But I also really like science! I guess I could sing to the creatures I create." Apparently I am the proud father of a budding mad scientist! "

If the mind of a child can imagine that, why not the mind of God? There is a scripture we primarily read at Christmas time, but I want you to think of it in a different way. What's the scripture? Luke 2:1-14: "And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."

I believe God was happy and rejoicing as the heavenly host sang to His creation sharing his Joy. That's why the angels sang. 

So how often do you sing, maybe not to "your creation," but sing because you rejoice or are just happy? James counsels us: "Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise." (James 5:13) Maybe a better question might be, are you happy in your life or with your relationship to your creator? If you are, then sing, it's what God intended.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Sometimes you get a pit

Have you ever been enjoying a nice piece of cherry pie and suddenly come across a cherry pit (seed)? I have, on several occasions in my life. Pits are unexpected and sometimes painful; at the very least they are a nuisance.

Life sometimes is that way also isn't it? That’s why we have the saying in America, "Isn’t that just the pits?" You know what I am talking about I’m sure. You are expecting a good day and along comes a pit. Your life is fairly untroubled and an illness or accident pops up. You are doing well at work and then you get the word your job is ending. Your church life is going pretty well, and the preacher announces that he is retiring. "Isn't that just the pits?"

I wish that we could find a way to make our lives always fun, always joyful, always feeling good, but that just isn't the way life is, is it? Often it seems we have the wrong idea that our relationship with Christ is suppose to make bad things stop. That idea is strengthened by what we do, say and sing to one another. I have always enjoyed singing the song Blue Skies and Rainbows.

In case you don't know the words here they are: (1) "Blue skies and rainbows and sunbeams from heaven. Are what I can see when My Lord is living in me. (2) Green grass and flowers, all blooming in springtime, is works of the Master I live for each day. (3) Tall mountains, green valleys, the beauty that surrounds me. All make me aware of the One Who made it all. Chorus: Jesus is well and alive today; He makes His home in my heart. Never more will I be all alone since He promised me that we never would part."

That song proclaims how wonderful our life will be if we only have Jesus in it and it is 100% right if you are just talking about spiritual things. However the physical side of life keeps intervening with that perfect life doesn't it? How is it that the apostle Paul could write, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances" referring to all of his physical challenges? (Philippians 4:11) In verse 13 he writes, "I can do all this through him (Christ) who gives me strength."

Paul accepted the fact that bad things sometimes happen in our lives, but he wasn't living his life according to what happened to him physically. His hope and his ability to cope, was based upon what was going to happen after he left this physical world.

Yes, sometimes you get "a pit" in life when you were expecting to enjoy the cherry. Some folks give up or even get mad at God because bad things happen. They seem to say, "When I became a Christian I was only suppose to receive good things!" They will, but of course God has promised good things in the spirit and that is what they really struggle with.


So, can we still sing "Blue skies and rainbows are what I see when my lord is living in me"? Yes, of course we can if we understand what the promise is really about. Our promise is of a time to come when there will be no more tears, no more death, no more suffering (Revelation 21:4). That's what Christians really live for, so if you are not, why not start now? Your "pit" is coming, how are you going to deal with it?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

It's all about the weather!

It seems that at almost any time of the year, the first topic of conversation is the weather. In fact if any conversation every lags, just ask about the weather to get it going again. Is it going to rain, it is going to snow, how much snow is there going to be, is there going to be fog or ice? Sometimes an optimistic person will ask, "Is it going to be sunny today?," which leads to the question of how hot it might get.

I saw an interesting sign the other day that really got my interest. It said, "TODAY'S FORCAST: GOD REIGNS AND THE SON SHINES". I mean, think of the truth of that statement. Our weather is so unpredictable, so changeable, it can change in a matter of minutes, but God is the one constant in our universe.

I love what James has to say about God in regard to this in James 1:17. He tells us, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows ". (NIV)

Our lives are full of shadows aren’t they? Loss of loved ones, loss of jobs, economies which crumble, prices which climb, our ability to pay for daily necessities, age sneaking up on us, abuses, betrayals, health issues, and the list could go on an on. Shadows come and shadows go, but God is constant, "he never changes or casts a shifting shadow".

As you are dealing with the latest crisis in your life, your shadow, wouldn't it be nice to feel safe for a change, wouldn't it be nice to be able to deal with the shadows? Could it just be time to look at your relationship with God and start to put a light in your life?


I read a funny little saying the other day that said, "If they don't want you to snack at night, why did they put a light in the refrigerator?" In the same way, if God didn't want to light your life, why did the creator of all light make it known to us that he is the light? Maybe it's time you reconnect to "the Father of light" in your world. He never promised to take away the shadows, but he will give us light to deal with them as they come and go from our life. Why? Because, GOD REIGNS AND THE SON SHINES.

Monday, February 2, 2015

SMALL ANNOYANCES


I don't know about you, but I don't automatically think of scripture with every event in my life. However the other day, as it does on occasion, it happened that a scripture popped into my mind, in an unusual place.

The occasion was when my wife and I were having lunch at our favorite Chinese Restaurant. With the meal we received the standard "Fortune Cookie". You know that little cookie with the small piece of paper inside with your supposed future or life lessons described, usually in vague terms. Mine read, "Put up with small annoyances to gain great results".

The scripture that immediately sprang to mind was 1 Peter 1:6-7, where Peter encourages us with these words: "In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith, of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire, may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed". (NIV)

The human side of me says, "I love God and I don't need a test or a trial to prove it". God says however, "Yes, you do!" Personally I don't like the trials in my life. I just want my life to flow along smoothly without any bumps in the road. I like it that way, but it's been rare where there has been a period of time in my life that has been without some kind of trial which tests the strength of my faith.

Another scripture that comes to mind is Hebrews 12:11-12 where the writer reminds us that: "No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening, it's painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees".  (NLT)

Personally, I'm looking forward to more "peaceful harvest of right living". God expects us to show continual growth in our spiritual lives. That's why the testing? To strengthen our reliance upon God for our help. To grow to a point spiritually that we can say with the apostle Paul, "I no longer live, but Christ lives in me." (Galatians 2:20)

So, putting up with small annoyances is only one way our faith is tested, because they can easily turn in to big problems. When they do, how do deal with that "refining" of your faith? Isaiah put it this way in Isaiah 26:4, "Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal".


So how are you doing? Personally, I'm still struggling and still growing and still learning to "trust in the Lord forever", because he is "the rock eternal." 

Monday, January 26, 2015

ADJUSTABLE TRUTHS


Truth is sometimes a hard thing to find, isn't it? I don't know if our time in this world is any worse than other times or not, but truth seems to be cherished less than when I was younger. Truth seems more "adjustable" if you will. If you want to change a little thing here or there to make whatever is being said more palatable, more believable that's acceptable. If you words can make you seem more important, more accomplished, and then embellish all you want.  
This little story illustrates this point. It seems that two ardent fishermen met on their vacation and began swapping stories about the different places they had fished, the kind of tackle used, the best bait, and finally about some of the fish they had caught. One of them told of a vicious battle he once had with a 300-pound salmon. The other man listened attentively. He frankly admitted he had never caught anything quite that big. However, he told about the time his hook snagged a lantern from the depths of a lake. The lantern carried a tag proving it was lost back in 1912. But the strangest thing of all was the fact that it was a waterproof lantern and the light was still lit.
For a long time the first man said nothing. Then he took one long deep breath. "I'll tell you what I'll do," he said slowly. "I'll take 200 pounds off my fish, if you'll put out the light in your lantern."
The writer of Ecclesiastes 5:2 tells us: "Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few."
While Solomon tells us in Proverbs 23:23: "Buy the truth and do not sell it… ". In other words the truth has value; don't give it up for something that will cheapen your life.
I wonder how our story would have to change to put out our light? I'm sure you remember what Jesus said in Matthew 5:16. He said:  "… let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."

Words have meaning, words have consequences. Some of those consequences are seen in God's words recorded in Revelation 21:7-8. "Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars; they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death."

Isn't it strange, we tend to categorize sin as big or little, serious or not so serious, but God says they all have the same ending whether it is those who are sexually immoral or liars. Do you use an adjustable scale on truth? Maybe you should rethink that approach.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

IF MARRIAGE WERE'NT ALREADY HARD ENOUGH



Melody and I went to a restaurant for lunch the other day, not just for the food, but to get away from packing and enjoy a little quiet time together. While we sat there talking with one another I noticed several couples (who looked like husbands and wives), sitting at their tables, not talking, in fact not paying any attention to one another at all. They instead had their cell phones out, texting and checking their email and possibly their Facebook account.

Sadly, this is not an unusual occurrence today at all. Everywhere you look you see those little electronic devices in the hands of people around you.

What about you and the other special people in your life? Do you need to send a text to the person across the table to communicate with them? If you do, maybe you need to consider life without electronics.

My friend Ron sent me the following little story that makes a good point. "We had a power outage at our house this morning and my PC, laptop, TV, DVD, iPad & my new surround sound music system were all shut down. Then I discovered that my Cell phone battery was flat and to top it off it was raining outside.

I went into the kitchen to make coffee and then I remembered that this also needs power, so I sat and talked with my wife for a few hours… She seems like a nice person."

I know you have heard the verse a thousand times, but notice it again for me, in Genesis 2:24 we read: "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."

You know this is not just a suggestion from God, it is actually him telling us the way it is suppose to be! In the original language the word "Cleve" has the idea of "to stick to". Now there are a lot of implications to that idea, but how close do you stick to your husband/wife? How can you stick with someone who you don't spend time with?

Maybe you should try one day without electronics. I know it would be difficult; you have the demands of your job and your connections to others in life, but what about the ones you are suppose to be sharing your life with? Try it sometime, you might find out that the person across the table from you is really a nice person.

My wife and I took an extended vacation recently with a total of about 10 days driving alone in the car. We took a selection of CD's to listen to if we wanted, but do you know what we did, we talked instead (that's a regular thing for us). We are interested in one another, in our cares, or concerns, our likes and dislikes, the things that worry us and the things that delight us. After almost 49 years together we still enjoy sharing sunrises and sunsets and one another's company. We still "cleave" together because that's what God intended for us to do.

Marriage is hard enough without all of the confusion electronics bring to it. Try doing without them sometime, you just might discover the person you fell in love with to begin with.

Russ Lawson