Tag Archives: Luke

Don’t look back, just go!

If I were ask to look back on my life and choose the life altering times of my life, the greatest of those times would be the day I accepted Christ as my Savior. Nothing else in my life had the power to change the inner being. Marriage changed my name and devotion, but not who I was. Having children changed my concept and depth of love, but again, not who I was. I was still a self-centered, worldly minded person with an inner arrogance that wanted what I wanted and I wanted it now. I can still resort to that mindset if I’m not careful. But the thought of being saved from the wrath that is to befall this earth, leaves me with no desire to look back on yesterday with any longing to return.

Religion Wants Evidence

Luke 17:20-33

20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

The arrogance of those Pharisees never ceases to amaze me (until I look in the mirror.) They “demanded” Jesus to answer them when the Kingdom of God would come. Jesus responded by telling them that the Kingdom of God isn’t going to be found on the earth, but rather within.

The Pharisees couldn’t understand it because their religion was that of works, Jesus was describing that of relationship. The Pharisees wanted an evidence beyond what Christ was willing to offer. Christ said “follow me.” Religion wants to know where, but faith follows without the knowledge of destination. It was that faith that caused the Savior to turn away from the Pharisees and speak to the disciples, because religion won’t listen, it’s already got its mind made up. I know this because I lived it.

Faith Wants Emanuel

Emanuel, God with us. It was the defining, life changing factor of who I am.

22 And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it. 23 And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after them, nor follow them. 24 For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day. 25 But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation. 26 And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. 27 They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; 29 But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. 30 Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. 31 In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. 32 Remember Lot’s wife.

When Lot’s wife looked back, longing for that life of sin and worldliness, she rejected the salvation of God. Jesus warned the disciples not to fall into the trap of looking at anything other than the salvation that came from Him. The world is full of shiny bolts of lightning to take our eyes off faith and putting it onto what can be seen. Stay focused! Again and again God brings this word to my mind. Likely because my mind is so weak when it comes to bling! Shiny things get my attention. God needs me (and you) to focus on the mission field, not the mine field. The world is going to be destroyed, just like it was in the days of Noah and Lot. But our eyes should be on that of eternity and the return of Christ.

We have friends and family who need salvation, else they’ll be left in the mine field. God said that for those of us on the mission field of life, not to turn back, keep going! Remember Lot’s wife.  A pillar of salt, left behind. Her husband and daughters went on without her, and that didn’t end well either. Mistakes were made. If we don’t continue on, leading our families away from the destruction of this earth it will be a sad, sad day. But oh! What a glorious day to have our families together in Heaven.

God knows I need reminders, especially on the tough days, to keep moving forward in faith. The evidence is within me, I just have to trust in He who leads the way. Stay on the mission field! Don’t look back! Just go!

Not the God of Low Expectations

high expectationsThe day after a busy holiday is always two-sided. There is the side of me that’s like “Whew! Now I can rest!” and then the other side which is somewhat let down, because the excitement and anticipation of the event is over. But with Easter, that’s shouldn’t be the case. Yes, the 2016 Holiday is over, but not the excitement! Still today I woke up excited about my Salvation, what it means to me and what God is doing in my life. Every day I wake up to a resurrected Lord, not just Easter Sunday! “So what’s your plan today,” I ask myself? “What are you going to do with another day with Jesus? How are you going to impact the world for Christ?”

That’s a heavy question. But God is not One of low expectations. He didn’t go the cross for a group of slackers. He went to the cross for servants willing to go into the highways and the hedges.

Luke 14 tells the story of the planning of a great event. Much time and preparation had gone into it and yet it was taken for granted by the masses and many refused to attend because the world had pressing business for them real estate, farming, family (or whatever it is that’s on our schedule today before God.)

Vs. 17-24

And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.

So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

I thought of this scripture when I thought of the many friends of mine who invited folks to church for Easter Sunday, some came, and some did not. And for those who didn’t it’s disappointing, not only to us, but above all to God Who had planned so great an event! But in truth, that wasn’t the great event, that was a precursor to the great event and we’re still in the planning stages!  There’s still time to get our friends to the party!

God’s not looking for the perfectly dressed, the happy, healthy and rich. He’s looking for the hurting, poor, tired and sick who need to find Hope and we have the invitation in our hand! Today is a highway and hedges day and we’re not guaranteed another. So they didn’t listen yesterday. Compel them today! Now I’m excited about Monday.

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There’s no light in the darkness

let your light shineI feel spring on the horizon, well… a few days ago I did; today it feels more like winter again in the State of West Virginia. A little sunshine goes a long way for the psyche. The warmth and light have caused the dead seedlings that I planted a few weeks ago to spring forth into green stems that will flower a little further down the road, and it all serves to stir my soul! Winter is hard on me emotionally. The dismal gray forest depresses me and the cold aches my arthritic bones and I feel old (ish). I’m not giving in yet! Our environment can drag us down or lift us up for sure!

While reading Luke 11 this morning my distractions were intense! Emails, phone calls, tasks at hand that needed done, laundry, dishes, etc. etc., you no doubt can identify! My environment is not always suitable for creativity. It’s not that anything was bad or wrong, it was just counter productive. I felt like I would take two steps and then slide back three. But when I determined that I was going to write it out… meaning that this scripture is on my heart and I need to unpack it, the distractions stopped and the stage was set for God to show me what I’d be taking on the journey of today.

Luke 11:33-36

33 No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light.

Those words cause my heart to sing “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, this little light of mine…” Oh yeah… How awesome it is to be a child of God who is privileged to live in a country that we can still let our little light shine, even if it’s unappreciated by the world around us. But God said “Shine it anyway!!!” If the world doesn’t see it, it’s because they choose not to, but when you shine your little light you can’t help but illuminate yourself as well. If you’re not shining the light of Jesus then your life is filled with darkness, outward and inwardly and nobody needs that! Take heed…

34 The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.

35 Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness.

36 If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light.

So for this time…I determined in my heart I was going to turn off the darkness. That’s an odd thought, is it not? Turning on or off a light makes sense, but the thought of turning off the dark takes a little more to process. But it was an easily understood concept for me when I realized that the things that had my attention were causing me stress, taking my mind to a place of unrest and God wasn’t in that, it was dark. So when I opened up God’s word and began to unpack these verses I realized that filling my mind’s eye with the Word of God, thoughts of the ministry, God’s goodness and purpose for my day, suddenly that switch to the darkness was turned off, and the light was turned on!

When the world denies Christ, they choose to let the dark stay on. Because the Word of God is a light and it shines brightly to illuminate even the darkest of places if someone is willing to listen. With spring comes sunshine and colors springing forth from the muddy ground that messes my floors but it’s okay because I know that the outside is soon to be enjoyed and not annoyed. The lost have yet to figure it out. But if we keep our light shining, without negativity and judgmental attitudes, hopefully they’ll see and desire to let the light of God shine within them too!

Let your little shine!!!

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What Jesus might say in this political arena

If Jesus had the platform

LUKE 12:1 In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.

“In the mean time” a crowd gathered because Jesus had created quite the ruckus in chapter eleven. He’d just highly offended two very powerful groups of people, the Religious leaders of the day and lawyers. Their blood was boiling and they were attempting to provoke Jesus into saying something to incriminate Himself and give them reason to take action against Him. But the thing about Jesus is… He’s God. He already knows what they’re thinking. Did it ever occur to you that nothing ever occurred to God? Obviously it didn’t occur to the Pharisees and Attorneys.

Jesus goes on to tell the crowd in verses 2-7:   For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops. And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.

I wonder if Jesus was in the crowd of the recent electioneering tribes if His conversation to those of us listening wouldn’t be the same. I think He’d calls us friends too, wanting us to know that He’s not electioneering, It’s not for a season, it’s forever and He truly cares. He’d remind us that the truth matters because He is truth. “They” (meaning the bulk of the candidates) are the epitome of hypocrisy. I have to wonder if the truth is anywhere in there or in them, and yet Jesus will tell us, – He knows the truth.” Nothing is said or done that He doesn’t know. Or emailed as the case may be. And then He’d say to us… Don’t worry about these “pea-brains.” Okay maybe that’s my words… but He’d forewarn the American public not to fear the threatening words of the candidates, media and political hierarchy.  They hold no power over He Who is King of kings and Lord of lords. To the follically-challenged (bald) He’d say I know how many hairs use to be in your head; to the weave wearer He’d say I know how many counterfeit curls you adorn; to folks like me that choose to use their hair as a piece of canvas He’d tell me the number of gray hairs concealed in the auburn, blond, brownish flavor of the month. And then He’d tell me how much “I” matter to Him. Me specifically. My opinion, my passions… they matter to God.

In a world where we are often nothing more than a number, and in the political realm, a vote that in truth doesn’t really matter (at least in the national primary election) – It’s nice to know how much God cares.

10 scriptures to encourage your soul:

Before I was born, He knew me, Isn’t that amazing!

Jeremiah 1:5 – Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

He’ll never leave me

Isaiah 41:10 – Fear thou not; for I [am] with thee: be not dismayed; for I [am] thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

I did nothing, He did everything:

Romans 5:8 – But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Ephesians 2:8 – For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God:

He’s on my side

Psalms 118:6 – The LORD [is] on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?

He’s so patient…

Psalms 103:8 – The LORD [is] merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.

He draws me to Him… He wants to spend time with me.

Jeremiah 31:3– The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, [saying], Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.

No man… (or candidate) 

John 15:13– Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

He calms the storm, He doesn’t create it…

Isaiah 41:10– Fear thou not; for I [am] with thee: be not dismayed; for I [am] thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

The future is not uncertain, at least from God’s perspective. He’s  got this!

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Cookies & Cream Christianity

cookies and cream

Today begins the day that the earth, in our part of the world, is about to see the “big thaw.” Our single digit temperatures from a week ago are giving way to a balmy sixty degrees today! My aching bones are so ready. But ever ready on my heart is the answered prayer that there will be a big thaw in the church of God. I speak collectively across every denomination, not one in particular. My stomach turns at the thought of my own prejudiced behavior over the years of salvation where because of biased views I judged another’s faith. In truth I doubt you can point your finger at me without at least a little dirt beneath your nails, it seems to be the nature of the greater majority of us.

We realize that we’re wretched sinners, deserving of a Devil’s Hell, and by the grace of God we are gratefully saved. And for a while we look back at the congregation of God and see them as the greatest thing since ®Oreo cookies. Pure sweetness! But then, little by little, the dogma of men creeps into our hearts, and denominations are viewed as black and white, and the sweetness is gone. One is right, the other wrong, never the twain shall meet. I am not foolish enough to believe that different denominations should meet under the same roof; for those firm in our beliefs trying to convert doctrines would do nothing but cause an even deeper division, but… and here’s where big thaw needs to take place, the lost need to see Christ, not our opinion of Christ.

I believe that this thaw has begun in our community and it stirs my soul when I see churches extending the right hand of fellowship outside the church, whether or not they agree inside.  And while Pastor’s must set the standard, the congregation as a whole is to follow suit.

Jesus spoke a parable in Luke 6 that I believe can work to relate on the matter.

Luke 6:43-46

For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

Tell me what type of fruit could possibly come from negative conversations about another church or even worse, specific church members. Rotten. It’s not like I’m airing dirty laundry that’s never been hung on the line, it’s been blowing in the wind for decades. My Mother tells of the two churches in her country neighborhood of Strange Creek, West Virginia, a Baptist and a Methodist no less, that were one in the same when they were kids. They’d attend one in the morning and another in the evening, they’d switch it up just for fun. They’d have church fellowships and all was well. Well, those days are long gone! And the effects are long gone too.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that church attendance is at an all-time low. The fruit for which our churches are bearing is not the fruit of the Word of God, but rather the rotten fruit of men. The concern for souls gets overshadowed by the concerns of men (and women as the case may be.)

Jesus concluded His parable in verses 47-49

Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.

When building the Church, the foundation is Christ alone. If you’re building with any other words than His, your not building the church, you’re tearing it down.

Wouldn’t it be great if we all got together for cookies and milk tomorrow afternoon and just loved one another!

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Are You Prepared for the Storm?

RESCUE SQUAD

Friday, January 22, 2016 and I’m contentedly sitting in my house preparing for the first big winter storm of the season here. I’ve got my lanterns ready and my strategy is just to stay put. I made a run yesterday to get my hair done (hey a gal’s got a look good) and did pick up a gallon of milk while I was out. Walmart was busy but not crazy while I was there. I watched as shopper after shopper strolled by with their buggies piled high as if this storm were going to last an eternity. My first thought was… it’s three days people. We’ll make it… But I don’t know their circumstances, perhaps they may not see sunshine until Valentine’s day. Who am I to judge? But it did make me think.

People are so concerned about temporal storms. And yes, they’re bad. I don’t want to make light of them. But where is the cognitive skills when it comes to eternity. They’ve ignored the warnings on that one for a long time. Eternity comes into view at the funeral of a loved one but fades from most minds as they exit the funeral parlor. Many funerals have become “life celebrations” with no gospel at all because it’s “too hard on the family.” Why I’m stuck on the serious note today, I don’t know… but the storm preparation yesterday really made it as heavy on my mind as the forecasted snow will be on the roof tops. And I pray that someone reading this will take my message to heart as they’re hold up in the house this weekend; and spend that time preparing for a storm of a more serious matter.

Luke 8:23-25

But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him.

That question “Where is your faith?” breaks my heart for so many who don’t understand the concept of faith. Their faith is believing that they believe, not knowing what they believe. Wow, that’s either a pretty deep thought, or I’ve just confused myself. But it’s true! Ask them about their faith and they’re fine… but ask them to define it and the conversation usually takes a detour. The disciples knew their friend Jesus was in the boat, but they didn’t know God was. They were pretty sure He could do something, but they weren’t sure what. So when He spoke to the storm and the winds and water obeyed him they were shocked!

Before they left the shore if they’d have been ask about their faith it would have been fine, but when the storm hit…where was there faith then? I want to ask my friends and family who say they’re “fine” and yet there’s no proof in the puddin’, the same question. Frustration mounts as I see storms ahead of them and I know they’re not prepared. When I do bring the subject up it’s as if I’ve slapped them in the face. How dare I question their salvation? How dare I not?

Okay, so you say you’re fine…

Then why isn’t God in control of your storm? We’ll all have storms, that’s life. But there is a drastic difference in boat ride for someone who knows what they believe, and for those who just believe that they believe but aren’t really sure what that means.

You know Jesus? Yay!!!! If you do. I’m not going to take that away from you and say that because you don’t give me evidence of it you don’t know Him…. But…. That lack of evidence means your faith is in need of rescuing. And not for my sake (although I’ll love it) but for your own. When your child gets on your last nerve and you’re about to jump overboard, Jesus can calm that storm like that (did you hear my finger snap). When you’re up to your eyeballs in debt and a bill collector just took your eye glasses and you can’t see any hope before you, Jesus thrives on giving His people hope. When the news is bad and the prognosis is worse, Jesus can shush the voices of fear. You may be setting in sunny weather, but when the storm hits you need to be prepared.

Preparing for a storm is making sure that your child knows Jesus so that the Holy Spirit can speak to their little heart and help you help them. Get your faith in order as a family. Preparing for a financial storm would have worked better if we’d never get financially strapped to start with, but it happens. Knowing Christ won’t erase poor decisions, but He will guide you every step of the way back out and calm many storms that can take you under without Him involved. Get your faith in order. Bad news may have had nothing to do with any decision you made, but resting in Christ will take a load off your already worn out state of mind. He is so faithful!

Saying you know Him isn’t enough to get you through the storm. You need to know you know Him. Where is your faith? Are you in need of rescue?

Get out your Bible… read the instruction manual.

Go to Church… There’s safety in numbers. Well, maybe not today…

Get the lines of communication open… talk to God.

I love you… God loves you more.

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Don’t Look Back!

chick 2016 cropped

Unbelievable!  We’re teetering on the edge of 2016,  and although my body feels another year older, my mind is saying “What happened?” It was just New Year’s Day 2015 yesterday! It’s like we’re on a Nascar track headed for the finish line and we’re not even slowing down for crashes. Troubles beset us round about but our eyes are on the next pit stop in life.  Try as I might, I can’t slow it down and it will do no good to look back.

Jesus said in Luke 9:62 No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Forward Ho!!!! Well I guess I just went back from the race track to the wagon train. Today on the Eve of 2016 I’m scheduled to sing at the funeral of a dear child of God who lived a full life and to her too it no doubt seemed like but a day. To her children they surely long for more time but it’s not possible. We’re on the course and the time allotted is known to no one but God. So what do we do when we’re teetering on time passing and the future? If we’re wise we’ll go to the Word of God!

James 3:17

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

James 3:17 is a good reflection point that provokes anticipation. Sounds like a great verse for New Year’s Eve!

Reflection

Wisdom from above – From the creation of all, the Word, which was authored by God has been pure and infused into the soul of a child of God through the Holy Spirit. That same purity produces purity (not perfection) into our lives, our conversation, and intentions, by driving us forward to a better life in Christ. The purpose of reflecting on 2015 is not to look back on the failures (although they can be good lessons) but rather use it as a gauge on where you’ve been and where you are at this point in time so that you can determine where you want to be when you stand on the eve of 2017, if God allows. Looking back for the purpose of counting failures is detrimental to your purpose. It causes doubt and confusion… neither of which bring anything good to the banquet table. They bring stale leftovers from a dinner you didn’t even enjoy the first time… throw them out and move on!

Peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated (treated) full of mercy and good fruits. Sounds like a place I’d like to be in 2016! A day spa that lasts 365 days of the year and at the end of the day has the Lord rubbing your shoulders like a player on the field of life, telling you what a great game you played. That game is well played by extending the mercy we’ve been shown by Christ. We’re not on the field to crush our opponents, we’re on the field to win them over to our team and then they become the fruit of the banquet table! Glory to God isn’t it wonderful how God uses food analogies. Because He knows we’re a hungry people… be it for physical or spiritual food… we long for it… and lots of it!

God is no respecter of persons, nor should we be. Without partiality, and without hypocrisy. He loves you just like He loves me, although sometimes I’m pretty sure I’m His pet, just sayin’. In the words of my sister Sarah…. God is soooooooooooooooooo good! And so very real. We need to share that message with every soul that crosses our path… or race track… or trail.

Anticipation

As I anticipate 2016 I’m looking forward to the Lord doing great, unusual, mighty things in my life and ministries. What are you looking forward to? Don’t look back unless you’re using it as gauge to see how far the Lord takes you next year. Forward, ho!!!!

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Trust God to Take Care of the Powers that Be

chick in dcLuke 2:1-4

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 3:1To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:” and each day that the Lord allows me to continue serving and studying His Word the more those words come to life. I see God’s purpose in the intricate threads woven through my day, people, conversations, events, all playing their part in the Lord’s purpose for each of us. A different purpose for different people heading to the same place. Heaven.

Prior to Luke 2, it was prophecy… but there in Luke’s telling of the events of the birth of Christ we see prophecy fulfilled and a few notable players that had no intention of helping. He was born at the time when the fourth monarchy was at the height of its glory and was known as a powerful, universal monarchy. It was called ironically (or not) Terraram orbis imperium – The empire of the whole earth. Luke called it “all the world,” and there was scarcely any part of the civilized world that wasn’t dependent on it. I could imagine that being the breeding ground for government arrogance.

Sound familiar? It likely does if you’ve watched the news lately.

Daniel’s prophecy (Daniel 2:44) said that this would be the time the Messiah would be born. And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.

The kings Daniel spoke of were the Kings of the fourth monarchy, those in control in the days of Joseph, Mary and their soon to be Son Jesus, the Son of God Who would reign in the everlasting Kingdom of God. Mary lived in Nazareth, but for God’s prophecy to be fulfilled He needed her in Bethlehem as foretold in the Old Testament book of Micah 5:2 

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

And so it was that the seed would be planted in the mind of Ceasar, let’s tax the world and make everyone return where they came from. Who cares about the hardship on the people, we own them! Bwahahaha. I added that for effect. Ceasar wasn’t a man of God, he was man of his own power… and yet…. Unbeknown to him, God controlled his buttons like a remote control car under the Christmas tree. And for such a time and purpose, the very expectant Mary packed her purse and climbed on board the donkey, and she and her husband returned to Bethlehem and prophecy became the person of Baby Jesus.

The last prophecies to be fulfilled from the Bible are the end time prophecies and the same arrogance of Caesar (who thought himself god) and Herod who feared the baby King Jesus so much that he ordered boys born of that time period to be slain are alive and well today. The political factions of our day believe they are in full control of our fate, they tax and govern with haphazard results and all the while God sits on the throne with the remote, waiting in His time to push the buttons that finish what He started on that Bethlehem night. Although the political players are big in their own mind, it’s no game; it’s serious business. And the obscure people in the scenes of the story that is unfolding, are us! We are God’s people with purpose which is to present the Gospel to a lost and dying world.

Nobody was expecting God to use a little virgin girl to bring the King into the world. So to the little churches up the hills and hollers of West Virginia and other places across the globe, keep on keeping on… you have purpose, and it’s our time. Trust God to take care of the powers that be. He did it with Caesar Augustus, our leadership should be a cinch!

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Why Baptist don’t do lent… and other things

chick dance

Baptist don’t drink, dance, cuss or chew… okay, yes they do. They’re either really bad at hiding things or they just don’t care. Or perhaps they consider themselves liberal Baptist. Is there such a thing? Yes… they’re called backsliders. Oh dear, did I even go there? I’m not going to get into a debate about the morality of those things or any other things, or get up on a Baptist high-horse and say those things are the ruination of a nation. The ruination of our nation is a sin problem… enter your sin here [          ]. We’ve all got them. So what does that have to do with why Baptist don’t do lent?

Here’s my theory. And this is the theory according to Shari and carries no weight in the world, but I found it to be an interesting thought this morning, encouraged from the Facebook post of a friend of another denomination who was giving up social media for 40 days. My first thought was… God bless her! I’m glad I don’t celebrate Lent, or I’d feel bad. Because I’m a social media junky. I have a love/hate relationship with people disciplined enough to give up the things they love for a period of time. Because for me this is a big spiritual issue. I know there are things that need more discipline in my life and those people make me feel bad. And then to counteract the guilt I have about them, I think about the legalistic people who do “things” 365 days of the year and look down their religious noses at failures like me and I don’t feel bad anymore about not “doing” something. Because Jesus is not about the doing.

So why don’t Baptist do Lent? I personally think it’s because it’s a little too Catholic. I’m not going to get into a denomination bashing blog. I’m not about that. Do I think there will be Catholics in Heaven? Yes. So long as they get there the way Jesus said. But much of the Catholic faith is based on ritualistic living and not Christ relational living and that’s just wrong any way you look at it from the Bible perspective.

Now, back to my failures.

In Luke 4:1-13 we read that the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness for forty days of fasting and temptation in much the same way God led the Israelites into the desert for forty years of wanderings. Lent is forty days of self-denial, although I don’t see any one doing it on the level of Christ. (Luke 4:1) Cut off from all of society, no Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. #HashtagAreYouSerious? (4:2-4) In the wilderness. #HashtagItsCold&BearsBite! Tempted by Satan, without preacher and church support.  #HashtagSinWaitingToHappen? Without food. #HashtagDoYouDeliver? (4:5-8) No Position in life. #HashtagIt’sNotAboutMe? (4:9-13) Facing the temptations of life without giving in. #HashtagDidIJustDoThat?

Lent is serious business. And I respect the decision of those who determine to do a Christ honoring denial of something. It’s not a Baptist thing… it’s technically not a Methodist, Catholic or Episcopalian thing. Anything that we give up in honor of Christ is a child of God thing. It’s not necessary, its “another way” to worship. The issue comes when it’s done for discipline sake and not relationship sake.

The harsh reality for me is I could use some discipline in my life in a number of facets. Building a relationship with Christ is a 365 day trek in the wilderness. Satan doesn’t limit it to 40 days. For those of you celebrating Lent, I love you… but you’re making me look bad. I pray today finds us all in relationally living with the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you know Him? Contact me if you don’t, I’ll show you where to meet Him!

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Have I got a story for you!

Chick Manger Scene

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

Luke 2:6-7 KJV

Barely a woman by today’s standards, Mary had just been given a harsh reality in life, and I’m not speaking of the birth, although that would certainly have been one too! But the lesson that I refer to this morning is “not everyone is your friend, and life’s not always fair.” For the past nine months she had been a willing vessel to carry the Redeemer of all mankind. And for that she had been rewarded with being on the cover of People Magazine and the Enquirer too had done a four page spread about the secret life she led prior to marrying Joseph. Okay… so that’s not true, but I’m sure the gossip train rolled just as ugly; shooting off steam and traveling just as far. But this night she lie in a make shift hospital room on the side of a hill. Forget sterile, her baby was wrapped in grave clothes, no anesthesia or drugs to dull the pain, and the Physician’s assistant was a donkey name Estelle. Again, I embellish! But the story is so ordinary… NOT!

It’s one of the thousands of story in the Bible that need not be embellished, it’s just as amazing to me every year and when I slow down to think about it; multiple celestial sightings, prophecy fulfilled, a Baby born to a virgin, welcomed by shepherds, honored by Wise Men and a price put on His little head by a pagan king who feared the power of a not so ordinary infant boy. And all that for me!

What an amazing God we serve that He would write such an awesome story to be placed in our lineage and shared with our children and grandchildren. I wonder if the original characters will gather around and tell us all the “real” version of the story when we get to Heaven. Family story night will take on a whole new meaning when we’re together up there! And those books…the ones that God writes in every day of the things we’ve done for Him; perhaps we could even leaf back through to the night of Jesus’ conception and read for ourselves what God wrote of Mary’s reaction to the news that she would carry our Lord. My mind is reeling at what might have been written in those books and what a trip to the library might be like. I’m so grateful for stories…

It’s Sunday! And today I get to be the storyteller to a group of teens in my class. I get to gather them around and share the Good News and the Glory of God. I’m excited, can you tell? I hope you’re excited to share that news today. You don’t have to be a Sunday School teacher; just tell somebody!