What about YOU?

Confusion and uncertainty, not to mention anger and bitterness, filled media reports in the days after the death of Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev. It seemed that no one wanted to bury the slain terrorist. Every request for a burial plot was flatly rejected. Then a mental health counselor from Virginia decided to take matters into her own hands.

Martha Mullen said she was at a Starbucks when she heard a radio news report about the difficulty finding a burial spot for Tsarnaev.

“My first thought was Jesus said love your enemies,” she said.

Then she made an incredibly difficult and unpopular decision…

“I thought someone ought to do something about this – and I AM SOMEONE ,” Mullen said. …

Martha Mullen said she was motivated by her  faith ,her love and trust in Jesus Christ and his words recorded by Mathew in his Gospel account .

So what did she do? The WASHINGTON POST reports that Mullen took initiative to find a place that would accept Mr. Tsarnaev for burial. She was put in touch with Islāmic Funeral Services of Virginia, which runs the cemetery in Doswell, VA, and brokered an arrangement to have him buried there.

Some local residents and officials were angered by Mullen’s intervention on Tsarnaev’s behalf. While Mullen says the backlash has been unpleasant, she still has no regrets.

“I can’t pretend it’s not difficult to be reviled and maligned,” she told The Associated Press. “But any time you can reach across the divide and work with people who are not like you, that’s what God calls us to do.”

Shocking? Unnerving ? … It shouldn’t be if you are one who claims to be “Of Christ”  –  Here is the Application…

How amazing that the whole world should be aware of this problem, but no one take decisive steps to resolve it. That is, no one except Martha Mullen, who was prompted to act in response to the words of Jesus.

When the rest of the world is paralyzed in HATRED and UNFORGIVENESS , that’s when the followers of Jesus are called upon to demonstrate a love and a forgiveness that is uniquely Christian. So, the next time you think to yourself, someone ought to do something,” remember, so far as Jesus is concerned, YOU ARE SOMEONE .

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44).

I know many will disagree with me ,but if you  claim to have the love of Christ –  how can you disagree with him?  1 Peter 3:18 says “For Christ also suffered once for sins, for ALL – the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit”

Who exactly does ALL leave out ? ….Tamerlan Tsarnaev ???

Tsarnaev ,as far as I can tell died without Christ – but his lack of response can never diminish the power and reality that  Christ also died for him and IF he had come to Christ on CHRIST’s terms , he too could have been forgiven…but for him  , it’s too late.

What about YOU?love-fire

Do YOU love God enough , to also love your enemies and those who persecute YOU? I wanted so badly to “YES” quickly ,but it has taken me the better part of a month to finally say it since I first had the thought to write this… Though in good conscience as I write this , faced with the same situation as Martha Mullen  – could I do the same? Could I be the “someone” the Lord COMMANDS me ?

…I hope and pray…

Lessons From My Son …. “No Enemies”

robins_of_batman_by_vvvviola-d387yglMy son and  I read a lot together.. I think if you are a dad , the second most important thing you can do for your kids is read to them -(I will address the MOST important thing in a later entry here 😉 … There are many reasons for this  ,but mainly , for me – it’s just something he and I get to do.  = Father/son time… You can’t replace the value of the time you give your kids , trust me I know this first hand … There will never be time for “make up time” in the future ,  if you don’t make the  time now. Being a preacher , I get pulled in a lot of different directions at odd hours  – not only do you work all week on sermons ,class lessons and bibles studies with others , but you are also a counselor to those who need it , a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on.. Its’ the most demanding job I have ever have  and I love it  –  but I would never trade being “The Best Preacher in the World”  for “Worst Father Ever”… Balance is key and so reading with him is that balance .It does me good ,and it does him good – Therefore if one plus one equals two – it must be GOOD.

One of the things we really enjoy reading is comic books. For the most part we stick to The Batman story lines , especially The Robin story line.. We love that there are 4 of them who have all become heroes in their own right , trained by  the “Best of  the Best” – which also serves as a great metaphor for fathers training their sons to be men . For this reason ,among others ,   I’m convinced ,boys need heroes.  As a growing boy , your imagination plays a primary role  in developing your own identity . It helps shape your ideals and perspectives – to help the weak and stop the evil of the world.. I realize full well , that this is also what the bible teaches so couple that knowledge with the imagination of  a 6-year-old boy ? What you get  then is an unstoppable force  that will grow with him as he grows  , and becomes his character. Heroism or Altruism is what is at the core of every good hero – it’s selflessness personified .. and it flies in the face of all who promote humanism  and the survival of the fittest. If  survival of the fittest were true , there would be NO HEROES… Think about it.

A world with no heroes would be hard to imagine…but what about a world with no enemies?  That’s actually how life is in the beginning – we aren’t born with enemies.. They are something we create over the course of our lives due to our beliefs , our convictions  and what we are willing to fight for.. To you and I ,this makes sense…This is the world we live in because it is the world we have chosen to allow to exist. We have allowed it to exist because  ultimately , we are SELFISH. This might be a little oversimplified but it goes kind of like  -” We want what we want  …and we want you to want it too.. and if you don’t ,then we are enemies” … So how can we know what want is good or not? How can we know if what we want is right or not? How can we know if we are standing up for the right things? ISN’T THERE A STANDARD SOMEWHERE ,WITH THESE THINGS WRITTEN IN IT?… (Maybe you have picked up on my sarcasm?)

But to a 6-year-old boy , the only enemies he worries about are the ones  he battles in the backyard and the ones we read about our comic books. .. The idea of enemies actually being real was completely foreign to my son until recently..

One night  while we preparing dinner , the news had been left on and while I don’t remember the exact topic of discussion , there was an angry mob burning  The American Flag and screaming “Death to America”. Like most things with Kole , he thought about this for a while before saying anything but  that night at comic time  , he brought it up.  “Why do those people hate us Daddy?”… “What people”?… “You know on the T.V”… After a few moments of thought , I finally remembered.  The fact that it took me that long to remember what he was talking about should speak volumes to us all just how numbed we are to much of the evil in this world ,but not Kole..it clearly bothered him.. “Oh , those people”  I responded , “They think we are wrong about a lot of things”  … “What things” he said…  “Like what we believe about God ,the Bible  and Jesus… and the way people act in America “… after a very short pause for thought he asked the $40,000 dollar question.  With total and complete sincerity he asked me –  “Are they RIGHT?”…  A few seconds pass… “No , son , not about everything. There is no doubt in my mind that the Bible is the Word of God , and I believe everything that is said in it. So no we are not wrong about  what we believe about God”… What about the other thing? you know they way people act in America?”… “They may be right on a few of those point son ,but we don’t live like that”…”but why doesn’t everybody else? – would that mean that we would have fewer enemies”… I don’t know all the “why’s” that people have for not living like the bible teaches us to live son , I just know that they have their excuses and for them that’s enough..” “But doesn’t that mean that they are also God’s enemy?”… ” It does” I replied quietly….

He waited for about a minute and then said “Well that’s not very smart… I don’t ever want enemies..especially not God , cause he could blow up your town  , or something!”…. At this point , all I could do was laugh!!!  “Yes indeed son , he could”…

I love my son’s heart.. I love that it bothers him when something isn’t right , and he wants to fix it… That he doesn’t want anyone to be enemies with each other or God..But  , I know  that very desire within him will create enemies in his life . Standing for the right  always will.. Jesus said in John 15:18 “that if the world hates us , it’s because it hated him first”… I hope these words will comfort my son as he grows into a man…and I hope he will stay true to his roots  – his hero boots – and remember the time of “No Enemies”

Lessons from My Son … “Seeing though his Eyes”

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J. Oswald Sander was quoted saying “Eyes that look are common… Eyes that see are rare.” … Rare indeed , except through the eyes of a 6-year-old boy…

As I have before mentioned , since he was born, I have preached many sermons inspired by my son. His honesty and innocence have helped me to remember how to see the world that I have forgotten how to see and quite often , I am completely humbled by the most simple of gestures… This particular example involves Carlos. Carlos (pictured with both my kids on the infamous “Werewolf trip ) is  related to me by blood – the blood of Christ. A few months after being baptized into Christ and becoming a Christian after a teen even at our house in Atlanta  , he came to live with us ..It was about  a year and a half ago during a time when I wasn’t preaching full-time  ,but running a construction company.. He had previously lived with my sister-in-law and was friends with all my nephews so technically, he was already family… But Kole made that official .

One night as I was reading to Kole , he stopped me   – as he usually will  , to ask me the most random questions …  Most of the time it’s stuff like ” Daddy , what does lava feel like on your skin?” or “Daddy ,  how do other cats warn other cats that dogs are coming?… Because they can’t talk!…. or can they?” I don’t mind him stopping me to ask these questions , I actually look forward to it !… I love how his little mind is at work and usually leave the room pondering to myself ” Man…. what DOES lava feel like on your skin?“…At any rate , I try my best to answer his questions the best I can and then we move on… I asked him one night where he comes up with these questions..his reply was “I dunno , I just SEE this stuff “… This monumental statement was immediately followed by the question” Daddy – Can YOU see what I see?” …

After a pause I humbly whispered back through a tear ” I wish “..

But one night he asked me a question that changed  our relationship with Carlos – permanently .. As I was reading he stopped me with his usually “Daddy”… not knowing the next for sure what he was going to say , I eagerly awaited the randomness – “Yea Bud” I replied…After a few seconds of pondering he asked –

“Is Carlos my brother?”…

Many things begin to happen inside me , primarily my heart melting.. I ask my self why would he think that? He is old enough to remember when Carlos first came to stay with us , that he hasn’t been here his whole  life , why would he think that? …  After a few seconds of asking ” why” ,these petty questions are quickly squelched when what should have been the obvious answer finally presents itself – He asks me this question because he already looks to Carlos as a brother and loves him like one !–  Why?  – Because Carlos loves HIM that way! Since day one, Carlos has always given time to Kole  – to play with him ,talk to him , read to him and yes –   even answer 30 bazillion of Koles questions. Carlos was ALREADY living as his brother , so why wouldn’t Kole ask me that??

There will always be a place in this family for Carlos – Kole saw to that…  But that is a different blog for a different day.

My son , though he is only 6 ,continues to give me the perspective that I should have on most things. The blog entries that will follow this one will all deal with his observations that helped me realize, that I was seeing wrong… Jesus says plainly in Mathew 18 verse 3 “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

I believe in part – this is why..

The morning ritual at our house is pretty simple – we all get up, slowly make our way to the kitchen where coffee can be administered to those who need it , breakfast can be served to those that eat it , and our day can begin with a little conversation(hopefully) from all the kids , yes even Carlos (though he is 23 😉  )…This morning as  Carlos came out for coffee , Kole  – who was diligently eating his cereal jumps down from he bar , runs over to him and threw  his arms around Carlos and said “I love you Carlos ,sometimes for NO REASON”…Carlos hadn’t been anywhere for Kole to miss him so much , so why all the excitement to see Carlos this morning? What reason would he have to excitedly proclaim his love for his brother?..

Then , like most things – the blatantly obvious hits me again..Once more , my son has been the teacher and I have been the student.. DO WE REALLY NEED A REASON TO LOVE EACH OTHER ?

1 John 4 :7-8 says” Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love”…

There is no question – my son KNOWS God as he also KNOWS LOVE … And I have been joyfully reminded of how we ALL should be  – once more through the eyes of my son…

Thank you Lord for allowing me to have Kole and for him sharing his Lions heart with the world…. There is no doubt  , I am BLESSED.

I will always try to live so that I am the person my son sees …  😉

Read 1 John 3:11-24

Lessons from my son , “The Werewolf”

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If you know me , then you know it is no secret how much I love my family . I have a beautiful wife who glows inside and out with all that is good about a woman… she is Godly first and for reasons I still can’t see – she chose me , and I am thankful. She also gave two of the most precious gifts that can be given – My kids. My daughter is well on her way to becoming the same kind of woman that my wife is ,but even before now – her very life breathed purpose back into mine when I was but a shell of a man. Between the love of her and her mother , they helped me realize my need for God and gave me the drive necessary to seek him until that drive became my own… I have told her several times that she saved my life , and when she bats her lashes and says” I love you daddy”  – she still does…

My son was a game changer in my life. When we found out we were having a boy , I was terrified… I wasn’t sure that I was going to be able to properly raise a boy and teach him to be a man… After all  , my only parenting experience was with a girl and not having much of a father figure growing up ,the word “inadequate” doesn’t even begin to describe my self-image at that time… But  , he was coming none the less and I was just going to just have to figure it out.

A good friend ,who has now passed but was the closest thing to a father to me gave me some great words for my uncertainty – he said “Have Faith , God will do the rest” ..

The rest of the story would go as you may imagine – he is born ,we adjust and begin figuring things out – life resumes.. But one thing is very different. My son , unbeknownst to him obviously ,begins to teach me.. For all the time that I am worrying about guiding him into manhood and teaching him vital lessons for life – he , with his own little life begins to teach me the simple yet powerful lessons that can’t be taught on paper , but shown through ones life – by their heart…

The next few entries in this blog will be about my son and the lessons he continues to teach me. I have Preached many sermons inspired by him , as he inspires me daily.. What I’m about to share with you just happened yesterday  – but began a years and a half ago..

It was the week before Thanksgiving  , and we had planned a family vacation to Gatlinburg Tennessee . On the drive up from Atlanta ,where we lived at the time  , we were discussing the current fad of “Vampires and Werewolves” and if they really existed , which one each of us would be due to the various powers each one possessed. My son Kole , chose to be a werewolf. He liked the idea of being a wolf and roaming about in the night howling at the moon etc..

Later in the drive , he confided in us all that  “He really was a Werewolf”. Intrigued we all replied with “Really?!!”.. You could see his little eyes light up as he could tell we were interested and excited about this. He went on to tell us with his creative little mind of all his adventures as he would climb out of his bedroom window at night and do ,as he put it -” Werewolf Stuff”. We all got a great kick out of the whole thing and it certainly made the ride go by a lot faster..

We spent the rest of the weekend playing into the idea of Kole being a werewolf as he converted all his cousins into his dark secret… other than the occasional mention over time though , the Werewolf bit ,like most childhood things seemed to fade into obscurity. I had all but forgotten about it..until yesterday.

After returning from the gym , I was greeted at my office door by Kole with a quick hug and a “Hey daddy”. I sat down at my desk and began to go through my stuff and I noticed him standing there with his hands clasped together . “Whats up bud”? I said.. He replied”Daddy , I need to tell you something”.. “Ok ,shoot” I replied.. after a second or two , he shook his head and hands and moaned “ugh , this is hard!” with a great  deal frustration and anxiety… Ok , now I’m all in –  this kind of reaction from him usually  only happens when he breaks something of MINE… , So I gently put my hands on his shoulders and quietly tell him “It’s ok son , just tell me” … He takes in a deep breath and then exhaled his confession….

“Daddy , I’m not really a Werewolf”…

Relieved  , he collapses into my arms…

At this moment , many things are going on in my head and heart. My first reaction was to bust out in laughter ,mainly because I had totally forgotten about him even making this claim of him even being one.. but I hold it back  – mainly because I don’t want to make light of what has actually happened here… My 6-year-old son has , in his own mind , felt the sting of CONSCIOUS  From his perspective , he has carried this burden for a year and a half and at some point realized that what he said wasn’t true , that he in fact was not a Werewolf! Although non of us ,his audience  took it for more than it was worth (a then 5-year-old little boy and his imagination) – he took it as he was being dishonest , and needed to come clean.

I just held him.

Now ,not only am I fighting back laughter ,but tears…

As I held him , I let him know that it was ok – that we all knew  he wasn’t really a Werewolf and that I was proud of him – not because he wasn’t a Werewolf ,but because he is well on his way to becoming  a MAN… A Godly MAN.. A man who realizes when he has error in life ,no matter how slight – and MAKES IT RIGHT. A man who teaches with his own life , through the actions of his heart…

The kind of man who I hoped I’d be able to teach him to be..The kind of man I am still trying to be… But today ,like many others before – My son was the teacher and I was the student…

Thank you Kole. Thank you for having the heart of a LION  , and not a Werewolf 😉

Our great and mighty God  shows us himself  often , if we are only willing to look. As I worried about being able to teach my son to be a good man , a friend told me to “Have faith  – God  will do the rest” … With that same faith , not only is my son going to be a good man ,but God has shown me that my son  is going to help me be one too.

Oh God , give us hearts like Lions – Strong to defend and protect ,but tender enough to be pricked by our conscious , knowing you are there with your hands on our shoulders  , whispering to us –  “Just tell me “…

We know you are faithful… Help US to be.

Hebrews 10:22

“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”

The Prodigal Son speaks….

Of the hundreds of people told of in the bible that I would love to talk to , to me  – one of the  most intriguing might be The Prodigal Son. His story is told in The Gospel of Luke 15:11-32 and although he isn’t named in the Bible , I’m sure that he would have had one – but  that’s kind of the point  , isn’t  it?

It’s not his name that  remember  ,but rather his story…

I imagine it might have gone something like this..

Question #1: Why did you leave your Father’s house in the first place?

It was all about the desire for freedom—the freedom to do what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it. I was ready to live it up—to have some fun, and in my case, that included a lot of time with harlots.

Question #2: What was it like out in the far country?

Not even close to what I thought it would be. I wanted to be free, but I ended up in the confines of a pig pen. I wanted to be free, but I became a slave—a slave to this so-called “free lifestyle,” a slave to those harlots who took all my money.

And I’ll tell you something else about the far country—it’s hard to find true friends in that place. When I was at my lowest point, at the point when I needed help the most, no one helped me; no one was there to give me what I needed the most. What I’m trying to tell you is that love, in its highest form, does not exist in the far country. You can find it in my Father’s house, but you won’t find it there.

Question #3: Why did you decide to go back to your Father’s house?

I finally came to my senses. I realized that the folks back in my Father’s house were a whole lot better off than me, that the life I once had was much, much better than I ever thought. I thought the far country had a lot to offer, but it was really just an illusion. There’s nothing real about it; it doesn’t last, and it leaves you feeling empty. If anyone understands the phrase, “the passing pleasures of sin,” it’s me!

People tell you, “If you really want to live, go to the far country.” That’s a lie. It’s more like, “If you really want to die, go to the far country.” Because that’s what happened to me—I died, not physically of course, but in all the ways that matter the most. My soul, the only part of me that will endure, was just as dead as it could be. I returned to my Father because I wanted to live again. I returned to my Father because I was lost and needed to be found—by someone who truly cared.

Question #4: What kind of reception did you get when you returned to your Father’s house?

Better than I deserved, I can tell you that. I squandered all my money—my Father’s money—on sinful living, yet when I went back and humbly confessed my sins, my Father received me with open arms. And let me just tell you, I’ve never seen such rejoicing in all my life. Now I know what true freedom feels like.

I too have experienced that kind of rejoicing… There is no comparison to anything this world offers …  The Joy of the Lord is perfect and complete….  –  If you haven’t , maybe it’s time you come home too.

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a RIGHTEOUS person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were STILL sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

(Romans 5:6-11 ESV)

Thanks to Bryan Gibson for the inspiration!

Running on Empty

It is staggering to think about , but it’s everywhere… The amount we ,  as a people  , consume on a daily basis. I’m not just relegating this to food ,although it certainly lends itself to that and Americas obesity issues – but just in general , we as a people can’t seem to find contentment until we are literally busting at the seams…and to our dismay – still unfulfilled.

My first reaction, like most would be , is disgust…this graduates to irritation and then the most common reaction – Apathy , the unwillingness to care…But with apathy also comes  silence , and in that silence I hear something else…however faint , I hear a cry for SOMETHING.. So my apathy changes to sympathy , and then to interest… This then graduates to caring and now I AM ALL IN..

So I listen harder…

In the feeding of our over active appetite to fill ourselves , we completely ignore that real problem – We just can’t seem to ever be really FULL – … But why ?… Why can’t we be filled by all this stuff? Why do we constantly crave and consume MORE and still wind up EMPTY?

Why?

…and THAT’S what I hear.. I silent cry of “why?”.. “Why do I have everything my heart desires and yet I am STILL so unhappy”..

Maybe , your heart is desiring the wrong things? Maybe , YOUR conscience is trying to tell you something that YOU don’t want to hear? Maybe , just maybe  … you KNOW what is right,but are not willing to do it because of what it will COST you????

Speaking from personal experience – NOTHING will cost you MORE in your life than SELFISHNESS.. I can’t think of ONE good thing that the sin of selfishness EVER brought me – not ONE thing…

Don’t allow another moment to be stolen from you – break the cycle…

Empty yourself of YOURSELF …and fill it with the ONLY thing that wont leave you EMPTY.. ,but still desiring MORE of it –
The LOVE of GOD..

Mathew 5:6 says “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” …

Only in Christ will you ever be full…Only in Christ will you ever be satisfied… –  Because only in Christ can you be truly Justified  and Sanctified (1 Corinthians 6:11)

The Lord beckons you all to come and be filled … won’t you?

If not , WHY NOT?

The invitation to study the bible is still open.. 😉

read Hebrews 13:1-19

Through the Eyes of my Son…

J. Oswald Sander was quoted saying “Eyes that look are common… Eyes that see are rare.” … Rare indeed , except through the eyes of a 6 year old boy…

Since he was born, I have preached many sermons inspired by my son. His honesty and innocence have helped me to remember how to see the world that I have forgotten how to see and quite often , I am completely humbled by the most simple of gestures… This morning as my nephew Carlos came out for coffee , Kole threw  his arms around Carlos and said “I love you Carlos ,sometimes for NO REASON”…Once more , my son has been the teacher and I have been the student.. Do we really need a reason to love each other ?

1 John 4 :7-8 says” Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love”…

There is no question – my son KNOWS God as he also KNOWS LOVEAnd I have been joyfully reminded of how we ALL should be  – once more through the eyes of my son…

Study the Bible with me , the invitation is ALWAYS open... 😉

Read 1 John 3:11-24

Breaking the Cycle in 2013…

If you know me , then you know by nature I am an optimist. I give strong diligence to always trying to find the best in every situation , and everyone. Admittedly – this has become extremely difficult in our current time and despite very good things that happened in my own life , 2012 was a hard year to see through positive eyes.  With a culture that has adopted a completely debased mindset and shoved God out of everything , its difficult for even me to fight the Monster within…but I do…and I press on – with much hope for the oncoming year.

The sense of renewal that comes with the passing of the old year and the anticipation of the new one to come is nothing short of exhilarating!  As humans we love the idea of beginning again ,fresh .. another opportunity to somehow ,this time – get it right… To truly change something about our lives for the better … to make a difference. All to often however  , this fades. It fades because the mistakes of last year and it’s consequences follow us , or because while change sounds good – it often requires too much work from us and so we fall back to our old comfortable habits … The truth is –  We allow history to repeat itself and then look to God as somewhere to place  blame .. There should be no need to remind anyone of this – but it was man and his CHOICE that brought sin into the world , not God .The consequence of sin is DEATH ,both physical and spiritual so everything around us now is in a state of decay . This makes renewal almost seem pointless , and yet every year – we vainly look with hopeful eyes to the promise of a new year and what it MAY bring…. but you see , that’s the point –  “The Year” in and of itself doesn’t bring anything… WE DO.

This perspective changes things , doesn’t it? The truth is – “the universe” doesn’t bring anything to you or me ,but rather we bring the universe to us. Bad things happen to good people because of choices made before our time . Our morality in America didn’t just begin to decline , its been going on for decades and every passing generation feels the effects a little stronger from the choices made by the previous  – This very principle goes back to The Garden with Adam and Eve and the CHOICE of sin that THEY made and that we STILL suffer the consequence for. In the 50’s ,morality in America was at an all time high and now just some 60 years later it is truly at rock bottom. We have exchanged EVERY truth with a LIE – just as Eve did with thee fruit from the forbidden tree. The enemy added one word to Gods command  ,and changed mankind forever. In Genesis 2 :16-17  God said ” If you eat of the fruit from the tree of knowledge  of Good and Evil , Surely  -you will die”… Satan simply added the word”Not” and changed it to “Surely you will NOT die”…. But DIE we did… and we still do.

With violence and sexual immorality glorified in today’s culture , I can only imagine what truths we are exchanging for lies that our children will have to face and ultimately suffer for . Drug use continues to become more and more prevalent as people look to escape the reality of this world we have created and in doing so creating more and more of consequences they are trying to numb themselves to. Evil men make evil choices and pure and innocent minds are corrupted , thus making even more soldiers of the enemy for future generations. Economies crash because of greed , fear and paranoia prevail and  inevitably – somewhere  the innocent are slain down for NO APPARENT REASON ….. and we , who have welcomed these evils from previous times , who have exchanged truth for lies , who have pushed God out of EVERYTHING scream out with arms outstretched begging to know “WHERE IS GOD”???

He is exactly where he was when we first betrayed him , and where he was while we still betray him.

More importantly – He is exactly where he was when we nailed HIS son to the cross…. and he still waits there for us to CHOOSE HIM.

The REAL question is – “Where are YOU???”

In the midst of the consequences of our sin , God had a plan.. and through this plan – regardless of what condition the world is in , we can have peace – TRUE PEACE .. we can have renewal – TRUE RENEWAL ..and we can have change – TRUE CHANGE..

There are only 2 agents for change that can be served , and we all serve one  o r the other…2013  can be different from 2012… or not…. The CHOICE is truly ours.

15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

If you are serious about change , as always – The invitation to Study the bible is ALWAYS open…   😉

Read  Romans 12:1-8

 

Peace ,Perfect Peace… Some random thoughts on Peace

Peace , perfect Peace…

The Personnel Journal reported this incredible statistic: since the beginning of recorded history, the entire world has been at peace less than eight percent of the time! In its study, the periodical discovered that of 3530 years of recorded history, only 286 years saw peace. Moreover, in excess of 8000 peace treaties were made–and broken.

True peace..complete and perfect , can only come from one source – its Author… Our Creator.

This time of year the phrase ” Peace on Earth and Good Will towards all Men” is used quite a bit (although not as much as it used to be). Taken from Luke 2:14 , it is meant to be used as a sentiment of gesture , implying that we should all be peaceable towards each other… While I don’t disagree with the sentiment , that’s not actually what the scripture says. Its says “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”…

Who exactly is he pleased with? – Those who love him…those who obey him… Those who TRULY try to know him…

The truth is , the peace that is being talked about here is not that of war between men ,but peace between a disobedient creation and its creator. Being reconciled to God through faith ,love and obedience to his word can one only REALLY ever experience TRUE peace…

I for one , can testify to this truth.

Even then , the peace that we have through God doesn’t ensure us a pain-free life ,but rather one of testing.Peace is not a life without trial ,but rather the quiet place you find among the noise … safety in the midst of harm…. Comfort in the throes of utter turmoil and anguish….Peace that Jesus gives is not the absence of trouble, but is rather the confidence that He is there with you always.

I had read a short story of a man who sought the perfect picture of peace. Not finding one that satisfied, he announced a contest to produce this masterpiece. The challenge stirred the imagination of artists everywhere, and paintings arrived from far and wide. Finally the great day of revelation arrived. The judges uncovered one peaceful scene after another, while the viewers clapped and cheered.

The tensions grew. Only two pictures remained veiled.

As a judge pulled the cover from one, a hush fell over the crowd.

A mirror-smooth lake reflected lacy, green birches under the soft blush of the evening sky. Along the grassy shore, a flock of sheep grazed undisturbed. Surely this was the winner.

The man with the vision uncovered the second painting himself, and the crowd gasped in surprise. Could this be peace?

A tumultuous waterfall cascaded down a rocky precipice; the crowd could almost feel its cold, penetrating spray. Stormy-gray clouds threatened to explode with lightning, wind and rain. In the midst of the thundering noises and bitter chill, a spindly tree clung to the rocks at the edge of the falls. One of its branches reached out in front of the torrential waters as if foolishly seeking to experience its full power.

A little bird had built a nest in the elbow of that branch. Content and undisturbed in her stormy surroundings, she rested on her eggs.

With her eyes closed she spread her wings to cover her little ones…

She manifested peace in a place where there was none… A Peace that transcends all earthly turmoil. …True peace.. Because safety consists not in the absence of danger but in the presence of God.
We are living in dark times .. and dark times don’t require dark measures ,but rather – The Light ….I’ll end this with the poem that inspired this thought tonight ,in hope that it will leave you with the same “Light” it left me..
” I rest beneath the Almighty’s shade,
My griefs expire, my troubles cease;
Thou, Lord, on whom my soul is stayed,
Wilt keep me still in perfect peace.”
– Charles Wesley.

Windows…

“But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”
(1 Samuel 16:7 ESV)

The human eye is incredible. The fact that there are actually 2 of them working together for the same purpose yet independently of each other is even more so…If you take in to account all the sequences that are firing off at this instant while you read this , it’s just plain staggering… There is no question ,given the complexity of these organs that they were carefully created with much thought and care.. They are often called “The Windows to the Soul”..

But for all their grandeur , they are still limited as to what they can do..

You will never be able to see your own face with the exception of the tip of your nose without the aid of a reflection..nor the back or top of your head ,with out the aid of some sort of reflection or mirror..I think we all would agree that we don’t leave the house to go anywhere without first checking our reflection first..but have you ever considered what it is we are checking?

You see we have set a standard in our minds that we check against, and depending on how the reflection looks we make adjustments – in other words we are looking for flaws… And when we find them, we make the corrections to our satisfaction and then we go about our business but regularly taking advantage of any reflective surface we pass – to just “be sure” that everything is still in check…

With all of our care and personal honesty we attack the flaws in mirror with conviction..yet what do we do about the inside?…how do our eyes see in there?… This is another limitation to the eye- it can’t look inward without a reflective surface…

So have you ever looked intently into a mirror…into your own eyes? Even then ,you can’t see whats in your heart… you can’t see the side of your self that no one else knows.. But God does – after all , if he put that much CARE into your EYES , how much more then did he for your SOUL?…

He created it.. He gave us his words to nourish it… and when we have broken it , he gave us his son to SAVE it…

Would he not also give us a way to CARE for it?.. A mirror of sorts to check for the flaws and make adjustments?… A standard to set our minds on?…. yet for many , that standard sits on a shelf and NEVER gets looked into…For all the beauty we take in with our eyes, nothing compares to the beauty and majesty The God who created us…The very least we can do is look in his book written for us so that we can come to know him. By this and this alone, we can then know ourselves and see our TRUE reflection..

For all of our complexity and beauty – we are flawed and fragile creatures…If eye sight is considered to be the most valued of the senses , how much more then is the soul and the ability to look inside and see your own – and be CONTENT with what you SEE?

The invitation to study is still open…

Read Psalm 139 ,all verses.

Do it – it will be worth it 😉