Saturday, August 31, 2013

Taps and a Whisper

In an earlier post, entitled, God Spot, I suggested that each of us has a longing and a desire
to find God. There are many perspectives on exactly how this happens, but the Bible suggests
that it is God, not us, that makes the initial move. I believe that He does this in a subtle, almost
covert way...I will call it Tapping Us On Our Shoulder.
I'm not one to argue the whole concept of predestination or election; I do feel that God reaches
out to us in His own way and His own time. Does he reach out to everyone? There's scripture
that would argue both ways. The point is that God will do what God will do! I believe that
the initial wooing, if you will, is very quiet and gentle.
When I look back, I can, at the age of 65, remember many situations where it appears that
God was tapping. Like a lot of people, I was too busy with this world and it's troubles to
identify those taps. Yet, thinking back, I'm positive that He was there, communicating. I also
believe He is persistent. It's all a part of His loving-kindness, His caring, His desire to bring
souls in. Nevertheless, He has given us the free will to accept or reject. Apparently unawareness
and rejection are separate issues.
Once God has filled that open spot in our hearts and souls, we need to get quiet and listen. His
way of "talking" to us is also very subtle. His messages are ones that require calm listening and
intense observation. To some, a voice manifests. In others, actual answers come in ways that
may not be audible, yet these messages require patient, intense listening. Whispers cannot be
heard when the heart and mind are busy. Fine tuning is a must. He's there and He's reaching
out to you! Shhhhh!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Vapor Control

The Bible refers to the brevity of our lives in different ways. One is to compare
the length of our stay here to a vapor. Grass and flowers are other things used to
remind us that we are very very temporary!

So what is the impact of that limited time span? Well, it doesn't give us forever
to adopt the gospel as our redemption, Jesus as our Lord and the many blessings we receive as precious gifts given with grace.

Someone, it seems to me, that has become one with Christ and an adopted son
or daughter of our Father in Heaven, would be one who lives an appreciative
life, a life that is full of the realization that we have a purpose, a family, a
future that can only be described as amazingly wonderful. Probably wouldn't
need to read Norman Vincent Peale's Power of Positive Thinking to arise each
day with joy, perseverance and satisfaction with what we have been given
despite our natural sinful nature.

The point is simple: We're here for a short while to bring glory to God
and to live and enjoy the blessings He has provided.

It doesn't last long, and that's okay. Make the most of the days, hours and
minutes that you have. Be thankful to the max!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Again..Old Man And The Sea

Had an opportunity to return to the ocean this past week! Having grown up in central Ohio, the ocean always presented a lot of awe, when I visited. These
days, and on this trip to the Florida panhandle, that awe makes so much more

If you are a follower of Rich Mullins' music, these are familiar lines...
"Everywhere I go, I see You!" This is fully applicable to observing the ocean!

Visually, the ocean screams the following:

Power. There's so much water moving as it will.

Permanence. Never changing...staying the same. The rhythm of the waves, both
from a sound and a visual perspective, mirror the repetition of life. These
motions and movements will never cease until God almighty decides to change

Life. The ocean is teeming with life, small to large. Seemingly an endless
amount and variance of life forms, coexisting. Seems like Someone's careful
amazing plan.

Comfort. All of these things bring a sense that Someone is constant, powerful,
life-sustaining and real!

Been to the ocean, lately? Good place to see the majesty of God!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

That sovereignty thing...

The ugly truth is that sinful human beings deserve nothing from a holy God. We cannot manipulate God in prayer. We cannot expect a rich, pain-free life, as touted by the prosperity gospel. Neither can we expect to reach heaven because we are a "good person." Jesus Christ has been provided to us as the way to heaven. (John 14:6)

I borrowed the above off of the internet. I was looking for a definition of God's sovereignty. It seems to me that this sovereignty thing really brings out the defensive pride in us humans. It's really tough to think that we're not in charge. What are we servants or something? 

I, for one, have no trouble with realizing that I am NOT God! I spent some years of my life thinking that I was the one driving this life of mine. Well, that really didn't work so well, thank you. I wasn't a very careful driver.
I am pleased and blessed that God is in charge. He truly doesn't owe me any explanation for what happens because He is God; and I am not. All things work for good in His plan. It's quite honestly a relief to know
that this transcendent, all-knowing God goes out of His way to give me free will, listen to my prayers and shower me with his loving kindness...all of which I humbly recognize are not things that I have earned.

He created me and I desire to bring glory to His name. He does all the hard work; I just have the blessings of being His creation.

He is sovereign!!! 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Breaking fast the right way

Nutritionists suggest that the first meal we take in the morning is vitally important for the rest of our day. I'd like to join many others in suggesting that this first meal should be surrounded by a look at the Gospel.
Beginning the day with the Gospel works wonders for our humility. A realization of what God has provided through the death and resurrection of His son, Jesus, cannot help but start our day off with a sense of humility. Being aware not only of our sinful nature but also of the single path provided for atonement starts the day with a tone of gratefulness for receipt of something we did not deserve
nor earn.
In essence, I teach myself the Gospel message each day. It's profound but also simple in length. It's glorious and filled with the realization that God's complete rejection of sin has been accomplished through the ransom of the blood of Christ. I would suggest R. C. Sproul's short but succinct writing on the
I also have started picturing the three crosses at Calvary, visualizing the reality of what our Lord Jesus accomplished and endured in the greatest moments in the history of our world. The Cross of Jesus is the miraculous place where our sins were exchanged for the righteousness of the perfect, spotless Lamb of God.
I hope you will join me in beginning each day glorifying our God and His plan for redemption and salvation.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Will you be there?

There are so many positive and wonderful aspects to believing on Jesus, worshiping God and looking forward to living in the presence of He who created everything. Nevertheless, with all the realities that go with the above, there is, in my life and quite likely in the lives of many, the haunting realization that someone we have loved in our lifetime may not be in heaven when we are called. I'm not one that understands the concept of purgatory or the praying or buying another's inclusion into God's heaven. It doesn't seem to be a part of the gospel preached in the word of God. I do not have the power to get myself into heaven, let alone the power to wish hard enough to put someone there. I don't believe that tithing at any amount can purchase membership for another because I truly believe salvation is not for sale. My earthly father passed away about three years ago, painfully. He was and is someone that fills my heart with love each and every time I think of him. He was wonderfully imperfect, a very good person, generous to a fault, and loving. Yet he passed away from this earth without leaving any certainty about his relationship with Jesus; and I did nothing to bring assurance that he had a relationship with God. I was consumed with sadness and fear, and I was simply not, at that time, solid in my own beliefs. I told him that God loved him. That I loved him. I was there at his side when he passed away. He is either in heaven or in the absence if God, which is my definition of hell. So I am left with a weak hope, prayers that I am not sure are valid and the wish that I will someday be able to put my arms around him and toss away the fears that he would not be there.
 Oh please, God!
The lesson is simple: share faith with those you

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

God looks like....

So many questions that we cannot answer, but that doesn't mean we cannot wonder about them.
So...What DOES God look like?
The gospel of John indicates that He is a spirit person. Jesus states (I am paraphrasing) that if we
have seen the Son, then we have seen the Father! Then we have to consider the whole "created in
our image" concept. Jesus has been described in His earthly physical self, as ordinary or at least
not standing out. It is probably true, as well, that the Jesus we see in drawings, paintings and even
movies, isn't what He really looked like incarnate. We aren't really sure what image it is that we have been created into.
Apparently, it was not a good thing to see God because it led to instant death. Moses got a peek
at God's rear side, whatever that means. God often seems to be surrounded or in the midst of smoke
and fire, pillars even. Isaiah was "undone" upon seeing God, only so be saved by coals from a
fire applied to his lips.
Well, that all doesn't leave us with much.
That leaves me with creative license, so here's what I think..

God looks like the smell of a forest in the morning after a rain,
God looks like the sound of the ocean waves washing in, in rhythm,
God looks like the touch of a baby's skin,
God looks like the taste of s'mores cooked over a campfire on a cool evening,
God looks like the feel of a warm blanket pulled up to the chin after jumping into a bed of cool sheets,
God looks like the colors of the rainbow.. make that a double,
God looks like the sound of a shell placed near your ear,
God looks like the first hint of light at dawn or the last moment at dusk,
God looks just like LOVE!

There, now you know what I think God looks like!

Monday, August 12, 2013

What's miraculous?

It's very interesting to consider what is truly a Miracle (that's with a captial M). From a Christian perspective it seems natural to limit what is called Miraculous to things like the Virgin Birth, the raising of Lazarus and others from the dead, Jesus calming the winds and walking on the water, His Resurrection,
the loaves and fish, etc.
A lot of the more everyday wonders are called miracles (that's with a small m) or not called miracles at all.
It's a bit like taking a walk somewhere quiet and observing God's creation. There are a lot of truly wonderful things happening every day around us that shout God's existence. The sky this morning, for example, had colors that no camera could ever come close to capturing. I, for one, think expanding the range of what we see as miraculous increases our appreciation of the wonders of life and focuses us in on the True Creator.
How about the birth of a baby? Some would suggest that this is "common place," and therefore, in the miracle category or perhaps not even. I would  beg to differ! Just because something amazing happens often, the shear magnificence of the event smacks of wonderment. I give the birth of a baby a capital M...every time! The fact that we get up out of bed with a heart that beats, breaths to take, eyes that see, a mind that functions (I could go on) - give me an M! The fact that God would woo us and present us with the gift of His grace, the life and death of His son,
Jesus and the gospel of salvation... MIRACLE!
I say appreciate all of the wonderment that surrounds you; it may heighten your awareness of our Sovereign God!

Friday, August 9, 2013

I have to say, "I'm sorry!"

Well, I've learned a lot in these past five years. Much has been things I should probably have
learned long ago. In this case: 'Better late than never' is an understatement!
I know, now, that Jesus is my Lord and Savior! I know that I didn't do anything to deserve
this; that God reached out to me, a poor sinner, through Grace and gave a gift for which there
is no equal. I know that this Gospel gift was put into plan long before God spoke things like
people into existence. I know that His absolute hatred of sin demanded the blood sacrifice of
a perfect human, without spot or blemish, to atone for sin which God cannot accept. I know
that this Jesus was aware of what was to be the end of His walk upon the earth, and even in
the hours before His arrest, when he asked if the cup could be taken away, was focused on
doing the will of the Father. I k now that He walked willingly and steadfastly into the throws
of a torturous series of events because He was the great high priest. No other was capable of
paying the ransom!
So where am I going with probably know all of this, too. You see, I am convinced
that there will soon be a day, when I will be in the presence of this savior. I am sure I will
be on my knees, and if I am permitted or able to speak, I just know that I will cry out, "I am so
very sorry!"
You see, I also know that I was one who placed this God as man onto that cross due to my
sin. I caused the pain and suffering. I caused the isolation from the Father. I caused that flow
of blood. And even though I have benefited from this grace, I carry a guilt, a sadness, a grief
when I envision those three crosses on that lonely hill.
I am so sorry, Jesus! So very very sorry!

Thursday, August 8, 2013


Yep, I always looked upon myself as more of a sloth...
I don't enjoy wearing wool, but I am a sheep.
I'm not overly intelligent,
I tend to wander and become lost.
I am afraid of rushing waters
  and unknown paths!
Yes, I need that Good Shepherd
  who calls me by my name,
  protects me from fear and danger
  and guides me home.
He rescues me, He redeems me, He Remembers me
  and restores me.
For He is the Lamb of God, the Scapegoat
  and the Shepherd all in one.
He has proven that he will give His life
  for sheep like me!
I am blessed!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Can You hear me now?

Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep
If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take!
God bless.............

That's about as far back as my prayer memories go. This was done on my knees,
hands folded prior to jumping into bed and being tucked in, usually following
a sing session with my father on the harmonica.

Unfortunately, many years followed, too many, when "prayers" were just rote,
obligatory, meaningless words spoken without conviction. Prayers before meals
at holidays or with friends. (One close friend would follow a prayer asking that
food be blessed by throwing salt over his shoulder. Kind of a weird conjunction
of prayer and superstition) Prayers before sporting events, both as player and
coach. Prayers, far too many, at funerals.

Then there were the prayers spoken in desperation. These were in those times
that all of us encounter when we are desperate. Times of financial troubles, loss
of family members and friends, marital difficulties, depressions...the list goes
on and on. These were prayers uttered without the slightest understanding or even
care about whether they would be heard or just be echoes sent out into a void.

At a house church meeting in Oxford, Ohio, in the midst of the prayer, I was
suddenly clobbered with the realization that there was quite possibly someone
important at the receiving end of the prayer. Well, things have progressed, thanks
to finding a God-centered church that provides ample opportunities and teaches
the need and joy of praying to God.

And somewhere along the path, following baptism and lots of practice, I became
ABSOLUTELY certain that my conversations and prayers ARE heard and listened to.
It's probably associated with faith growth, with the redeeming work of God's spirit and
the conviction that God wants me to talk with Him, often.

What a glorious blessing! You CAN hear me now!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The God Spot

We are wonderfully created in the image of God, all unique, as suggested by our fingerprints, etc.
Yet within each of us exists an emptiness, an incompleteness, a loneliness we seek to fill. Sometimes
it's subtle, sort of in the background, but it's always there. Into this round hole we attempt to
pound the square pegs of this world: money, fame, occupation, friendships, family, etc. In the end
the only filling answer is the grace and love of the Holy God of Israel!
Praise His Holy Name!!

Monday, August 5, 2013

fair and balanced

Well, I have somehow managed to become very predictable early in the mornings. I try to
walk early and then seem to end up at McDonalds in the company of some interesting characters
who watch and comment on Fox News. One of the recent conversations has centered around
surveillance on individuals here in America. There's that fine line between individual freedoms and
safety from those who might wish to harm us. The general response to these issues contains the comment, "I have nothing to hide. Go ahead and check me out."

I am immediately reminded that there is a greater power whose capabilities to do surveillance on
His citizens is unlimited. He is omniscient, omnipresent and capable, at all times, to see what's in
our hearts, thoughts.. even what we will say before we utter any words. He doesn't require wire taps,
drones in flight, the ability to hack our computers,etc. He knows his sheep by name and knows all
about them. So, would the same response work in this situation. Could one say,"Lord, I have
nothing to hide. Go ahead and check me out!"

Well, I don't know about you, but I manage to sin a number of times from my front door to the
apartment parking lot. He's going to do surveillance out of love. He desires us to be righteous, to walk
in His ways and He's even given us a personal Counselor to monitor from within. How blessed are
we to be known so well!!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Oh yes you do

My given name is Thomas. You will find it on my birth certificate, checks, my will, etc.
I was Tommy in my early years..that changed to Tom as I got a little more connected. If
I was called Thomas, it usually meant I was in trouble. Thomas Howard meant I needed to
begin running, very fast.
But it's really not my name at all! You see there is a name that will be called out at that
glorious moment when I enter into the house of my Lord. The great thing is that I know
that I will recognize it immediately, respond to it immediately. It's that name that was
written before the beginning of creation by God when he determined that He would grant
to me Grace and loving kindness by allowing my sins to be forgiven through the blood of
His precious son.There will be no changing of that name! I won't have to worry about
running when I hear it. What I will be doing is falling upon my knees and humbly thanking
Him, for eternity.
Oh yes, you do have such a name. Your real name. A cherished name forever!