Wednesday, May 21, 2014

sixty seconds after.....

The LORD Is My Shepherd

23The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. 

Almost finished with a book entitled One Minute After You Die by Erwin W Lutzer. It's
a fine book that I think you would find enlightening. Obviously, it deals with what we
can expect immediately following the end of our natural life here on earth. Despite the
best efforts we all make to push this death thing under the mat, it will happen to us
all. Also obvious are the ramifications surrounding where, exactly, we will be one minute
after death.

I wouldn't want to ruin your opportunity to read and enjoy this book, but let me just
briefly touch upon a few items I gleaned from reading.

-We will immediately regain consciousness and be aware of where we are. 

-We will, regardless of where we are, understand the reason why we are there. God's
judgement is just, completely so. Those unfortunate enough to face eternal existence
without God will be aware that His judgement was deserved.

-There will be people we have known and new people to meet. Relationships will be
different and we will remember and be able to look back on our lives. By the way, we
will NOT wish to return... things will simply be too wonderful.

-Some of those we wish to be with us will be and some will not.

-We will have jobs that take advantage of our talents and gifts; yet, work will be
and feel quite different.

-Lots of joy in Heaven; void to sadness, sin, tears, etc.

Eternity is such a weird term, especially since time here on earth is limited
and fleeting. The eternal choice of accepting Jesus remains one of such vast
importance. We need to be working to share the grace of the gospel with all
those who we encounter when given the chance.

Death has been defeated by the life, Resurrection and Ascension of Christ
Jesus. He will be there to meet those who love and trust Him. In many ways
it will be a very long sixty seconds.

Praise God!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Thank you!

For all that You've done, I will thank You
For all the You're going to do
For all that You've promised and all that You are
Is all that has carried me through
Jesus I thank you!

Two very simple words. I am sure that your parents emphasized this type of response
to anything received, if nothing else as simple good manners. If you have not heard
the song 'Thank You' by Dennis Jernigan, you need to. And if you don't find yourself
quickly searching for a Kleenex, you may want to give the cardiologist a call because
something has run afoul with your ticker.

The fact is that one could just walk around each minute of each day and say these
words to Jesus and not have over-done anything. Some people like to suggest that
in His "difference" from us, stated clearly in scripture, that God really doesn't need
us, His creation. On one level I understand that line of thought. Maybe the word
'need' creates a problem. I believe it is clear that God delights when we praise and
glorify Him. Why then would it not please Him for us to live in complete and conscious
appreciation for His grace?

Did you put those size 10's on the floor this morning and begin your day upright?
Thank Him! Did you go through a day with typical  normality? Thank Him. Do you have
those in your life that love you... friends, family, four-footed creatures or all of the
above? Thank Him. Do you lean on Him when things get dicey, depend on Him
to see you through the challenging times, cry and pray to Him when you just
cannot get things sorted out or right? Thank Him. Have you experienced the joy
that comes with realizing that He came to this earth, willfully, and experienced
life's troubles, as a servant, to die on a tree for you? Thank Him and Thank Him

Doesn't get tiring. Cannot get old. Isn't a habit. It's just an expression, in two
words, that allows us to give our hearts in thanks to Him. 

So do it now. He is listening because He hears all that you say, think and feel!


You have a bucket list? Really?

Romans 8:28 - And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.

I really get a 'kick' out of bucket lists! Well, in a manner of speaking, one thing that
truly can be assured is that all will eventually...kick the bucket. Yet what manner
of pride could possibly make someone create a list of things 'they' want to accomplish
in this lifetime? Who can pre-plan the will of God as He calls into play His plan for
our lives? 

How can he possibly be in charge of one life when there are so many people on this
earth? Well, He is pretty decent at multi-tasking. He knows the name of every
star in every galaxy, he numbers the hairs on our heads and is well aware of any
creature that is currently alive or has ever been. 

I see nothing so wrong with having wishes or goals, of choosing events that one would
be very grateful for if they were to happen, of even praying for the inclusion of
certain blessings should they be God's will...but... we cannot accomplish anything
without His guidance and direction. We, quite frankly, couldn't even get out of bed
any morning without God's provision maintaining a whole bunch of body mechanisms
that help our heart, muscles and everything else that allows us to get moving.

Here's what I would humbly suggest... put that bucket list away somewhere. You
could bury it in a time capsule in the yard to be exhumed later as a comparison to
those things that have happened since its burial. Create a TYL list, that's Thank
You Lord, and thank and praise Him each and every time you become aware
of His provision and blessing in your life. 

I'm guessing that would very quickly become a long list. The great thing is that we
really aren't even aware, many times, of His glorious workings in our lives. Some
of us are too busy creating those bucket lists. Some of us just need to realize that we
are not in charge of anything. We are creatures; God is the creator and He is
always in charge.

Thank you, Lord God!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

So..How Great Art Thou?

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.

It's a tough thing to try and describe an entity that is totally different from us. First
of all language is automatically limiting; there just aren't words capable of depicting many
aspects of a glorious God of the Universe. I've just run into a new author, who I
really enjoy and would recommend, and I'm going to borrow a few passages from
his book, Untamable God. Stephen Altrogge is the name of the author; he's written
several books, of which I have totally enjoyed two.

From: Untamable God
"The reality is, we will never understand the profound depths of God's love for us until
we first understand the profound depths of our own wickedness. If, like me, you grew up
in a church, this can be tough to grasp. I don't have a crazy testimony. I wasn't addicted to
meth at the age of twelve. I was never in a gang. I didn't grow up in the projects. I never
got involved in really serious, awful sin. I was the kid who won all the bible quizzes in
Sunday school. I was a nice, generally polite, middle-class kid. But prior to God saving me,
my heart was full of wickedness.

"We need to be regularly reminded we are creatures. Remembering our creatureliness should have two wonderful effects on us. First, it should humble us. We're not as awesome
as we thought. We do not chart our own destiny. We do not exist independently. We are
created beings who are sustained every moment by our Creator. Every talent and ability we
possess is a gift from God to be used for God. Can you breathe? That is a gift. Can you walk?
That is a gift. Can you play the piano? Gift. Hit a baseball? Gift. Preach? Gift. Weld? Gift.
Organize data? Gift. If God were to stop sustaining you for a second, you would dissolve
into nothingness. Our existence, and every wonderful things that comes with it, are all gifts 
from our creator.

"A million different  incredibly intricate things are happening simultaneously in your body
right now. Blood is being rushed throughout your body. Stop that flow for more that a
few minutes and you will die. Increase that flow just a bit and you'll have a brain aneurysm,
also causing you to die. Your eyes receive a thousand different impulses every second, which
are then carried along your optic nerve to your brain, which somehow manages to make
sense our of the jumbled mess. Every second of your life is a performance of epic
proportions. And this performance is not just happening in you. The same
extravagant circus is repeating itself again and again in billions of people around the
world. A production of this magnitude must have a Ringmaster of infinite capability.
You and I would be crushed by the sole task of maintaining our heartbeat. ....He is the
creator and we are the creation.

So... you begin to get the picture thanks to Stephen. the book goes on to present many
additional looks into the glorious workings of a God that is far too Holy for us to
conceptualize. Despite these amazing attributes beyond our ability to fully comprehend,
He developed a covenant within the Trinity that would reach out to we sinners
and offer the real hope of salvation.

What a great and glorious God!

Stephen Altrogge   Untamable God

Friday, May 16, 2014

The greatest rescue mission!

Romans 10:9 That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved.

There is nothing more riveting than a rescue! Give me a wide range of scenarios and Leroy
Jethro Gibbs and I am glued in to the episode, fully engaged. Gibbs is one of those characters
that thrives in these types of dangerous situations, believable for the most part, though
fictional, because we know that there are real-life examples going on every day of people
being rescued.

Part of what makes real-time rescues fascinating is the risk being taken by the one, trained
or not, attempting to save someone else. These things, due to the very danger involved,
do not necessarily turn out for the best. There is real heroism in someone who risks their
own well-being to try and save another. In the very best cases the rescue is successful and
both or all survive. Obviously things can and do sometimes not work out so positively.

The greatest rescue mission of all time began quietly on a star-filled night in Bethlehem
when Light came into the world for the express purpose of saving people from their sins.
This was the ultimate rescue not only because of the eternal ramifications involved, but also
because he didn't risk His life, He GAVE His life. This rescue mission, fueled by the grace
of God, required a brutal ending. To the extent that not all will be saved, it could be looked
on as a partially successful endeavor, to the total need for rescue, there could never be
another such crucial and loving rescue attempt.

Christ Jesus willingly came on this rescue mission, leaving the glories of heaven to
take on a human existence. The task in this rescue involved the completion of living
a totally spotless, righteous life, something never accomplished by any other person in the
totality of time. Through the temptations, the frustrations and, yes, even fears on
His way to Calvary, Jesus marched steadily onward to rescue fallen mankind from
a hopeless existence followed, potentially, by an eternity of sorrow.

It was the gracious rescue mission promised by God and spoken of in the very
early scriptures. It is a mission that continues on, today, even after the death
and Resurrection of Jesus to culminate, soon, in His triumphant return. All will
notice, all will bow down and many will be saved to glory, life with God forever.

What a mission? What a savior!!!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Go ahead and dunk that toe!

“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.’”  Mark 15: 16

Ah evangelism... it's a toughie!  We all desire to see our fellow man bathed in the
glorious light of association with Jesus. We all do not relish in the fact that those who
do not know Him will perish to everlasting darkness without God... and that's a 
terminal sentence.

Yet it really is most difficult to really pick those moments when God presents
opportunities to share the love of and trust in Christ Jesus.

Well, having been allergic to physics my entire educational life, I do understand,
at a rudimentary level, what happens with a body of water when one places a
toe into its surface. It's the ripple effect and it's quite fun to watch and admire.
That initial plop of the toe creates a series of 'waves,' if you will, that carry way
on out for awhile.

Evangelism is, in many respects, just like that. I am currently batting zero, that's
a whopping 0 for 2, when it comes to 'projects,' folks I sincerely want to come to an
understanding of our Lord. I was encouraged, one evening, when, upon sharing my
sadness over my 'evangelist batting average,' I was assured that many times we
never find out what our small efforts yield, when it comes to sharing Jesus.

That smile one shares with someone on the street, that little act of kindness that
may seem insignificant when done, that encouragement we share with someone
in the name of and to the glory of our Lord Jesus may eventually turn into a
movement in the right direction in the lives of those out there on the edges
of the ripple we have started.

Just think what a cannon-ball might accomplish...  Yet, I am thinking that sometimes
a subtle, toe drenching effort may very well be the one God encourages when
we reach out to someone.

Take off those shoes. Submerge that pinky. Do it for Jesus and do it for one of
His created!

Praise God.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Why John 3:16?

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3: 16

My first experience with John 3: 16 happened at a time when I would have had no clue who
John was! I used to watch Monday Night Football 'religiously,' and the cameras always found
a moment to pan onto a weird frizzy-haired dude holding up a poster board with John 3:16
written upon it. I paid a lot  more attention to the weird guy than to the bible verse being

Yet, if someone had turned to me and said, "Complete this phrase..." Yep, I probably would
have been able to finish pretty accurately the words that followed.. For God so loved the world.....! 

I have listened to Christians be almost apologetic about the common use and recognition of
these words. I'm guessing that they worry about people thinking that God is just about love,
leaving out all the other important aspects and qualities that we know about Him. So why
is this verse so universally recognized?

It does roll of the tongue rather easily, doesn't it? Being a person who is allergic to memorization, this is one I find easy to remember. More importantly, I believe
that it is no accident that this verse comes to mind in all people. I believe it is 
evangelistic, that it is meant to be that one verse that sticks out even among those who
are currently lost.

Why? Well consider the implications here. God did what the word amazing cannot even
begin to capture. He purposely sacrificed His son, precious to Him as evidenced by many
scriptures, to a painful, grotesque series of events, turned His back upon Him when He
could simply not look upon the accumulation of sins that weren't even His and sent
Him to death. Did He have to do this? Did, in fact, Jesus have to accept this cup and 
lower Himself to being hanged on a tree outside of the city as a criminal? 

If there is one concept that would summarize the glory of both the Father and His
loving Son, it would be wrapped up in the fact that this act of sacrifice was simply the
only solution to the acceptance of sinful man by a Holy God. 

So, yes, I say celebrate John 3:16! Begin each and every day quoting it to your ears
and heart so that you can praise and thank God, the trinity, for creating the miracle of


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Here come da Judge....

42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.  Acts 10:42

John MacArthur, in a two-part set of sermons on the resurrection, takes a different
approach from many on the Resurrection. He discusses What the Resurrection proves
as opposed to What proves the resurrection. The later, paraphrasing here, is proven by
the Holy Scriptures.

One of the five major areas that he discusses regarding what the Resurrection proves is
that it proves that Christ is the Judge of all creation and that upon His return, all will be judged by a righteous and just judge.

Well, we don't necessarily feel real comfortable with this whole judgment thing; yet, the
fact remains that there will be judgment of all by Christ as granted by God the Father
based upon Christ's fulfillment of His incarnate walk and Resurrection.

So we have two final and eventual verdicts: eternal life with Christ in a place He has
prepared for us or eternal life away from Christ in a place inhabited by the fallen angels
and those lost and deemed unrighteous. 

Without a belief and trust in the atoning work of Jesus Christ, we cannot and will not
be welcomed into rest and grace. In a very real and frightening sense, this is a choice
that we have the ability to make. It seems a very easy and uncomplicated one, but there
are many who simply choose to be their own salvation makers, whose efforts center
around their own ability to do enough good to reach a level of acceptance. There are even
those who believe that they can, through their own efforts and deeds, reach a state of
'God-ness' themselves.

God and man are simply in opposition; God is holy and just, unable to tolerate sin, and
we are sinful creatures unable to stand before a Holy God, ever, without the gift
of justification provided through, and only through, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, His
Resurrection, His Ascension and Intercession. 

So we are faced with a choice. It's monumental in its significance and so simple in 
its nature. We have to accept that we need a Savior and realize that a loving God showed
His amazing grace by offering His beloved's life for the chance for us to make that
eternal choice.

How, then, can we avoid praising God!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Our amazing ability to Underestimate God!

3 Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.  psalm 145: 3    

So how, exactly, do we manage to withhold proper praise for a God who spoke everything
into existence? I am going to suggest that there are a myriad of reasons why we probably
all come up short of glorifying and even understanding the amazing-ness of our Almighty
Father in Heaven.

I'm not sure, first of all, if we are even capable of fathoming such an incredible being. He
is holy different from us. That difference cannot be quantified or even categorized so we
often times just refuse to ponder God.

He is apart from us in the sense that we, luckily, cannot see Him. Due to our human nature,
which tends to allow is to wrap ourselves in our own existence and lives, we therefore
tend to go for stretches of time with God on the back burner, as it were. He may not
even be a conscious part of our day if things are busy.

A lot of this is also wrapped up in our tendency to be prideful; even to believe that we
do not need God unless things go wrong, problems crop up that we cannot solve or
needs become apparent that cause us to 'remember' God due to our sudden need for

God seeks our dependence and our understanding that He is in charge and most
capable of caring for us and our lives completely. It is surely the case that His grace
is extended to us in so many ways and at so many times when we aren't even aware
of it. It would be so very easy for God to become angry and to abandon His loving care
were He not such a gracious God. Since we are His creation, He, more than anyone,
is aware of His created.

I think, in some way, underestimating God may help us to be suddenly aware of Him
and in awe of Him, as we should always be. The cure is to set up patterns that
cause us to be reminded of Him: prayer, reading His word, fellowship with other
believers, doing and saying things that duly bring glory to Him.

He is magnificent, supreme, beyond our ability to clearly comprehend Him and
His love for us. Praise God!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

You can't always get what you want....

      For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29: 11

Never was much of a Rolling Stones fan... Beatles, forever, yeah, yeah, yeah! There was
one song, though, that came to my mind the other day that I am quite certain was not
created as a Christian song or lyric.

You Can't Always Get What You Want (Repeat 2)
But if you take some time, you just might find,
That You Get What You Need.    (that's my recollection of the basic lyrics)

The song did have some nice instrumental stuff, particularly as it was ending. The Stones,
it seemed to me, were always in competition with the Beatles and this type of song seemed
to be a response to the changes the Beatles were going through about the time of
Sgt. Peppers.

The lyrics above do, in many ways, mirror the dilemma many folks find in Christianity...
If we give up control to God, we are accepting that what happens to us will be what is in
His sovereign  plan of grace for our lives. It may, in fact, contain some painful experiences
that we certainly wouldn't choose, if we were driving the boat, as it were.

Rich Mullins said it perfectly..

Surrender don't come natural to me
I'd rather fight You for something I don't really want
Than to take what You give that I need

We aren't really aware, many times, of what we need. We tend to take the easy way out,
to looks for the wide road, to wish that all our dreams would come true....yet, how could
we, knowing that we are limited in our ability to see a clear future, really expect to make
the same types of choices that our all-knowing Heavenly Father can make.

He knows what is needed and necessary. His ways are true and righteous. His love for
us is transcendent. Jesus, take the wheel to wherever it leads; we trust in You!

Praise God!

Monday, May 5, 2014

"I do!"

For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, ... love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself ...  Ephesians 5: 22

Two most important words, those.

I attended a wonderful wedding this past weekend. As is often the case, things went well in spite of all the worrisome preparation, and all was meaningful and fun. Yet, it took a message
that Alistair Begg gave at a conference in my home town, Columbus, Ohio, to finally help me
understand and visualize the scripture above. I believe the conference was about rekindling
the romance in marriage, and it seems that Alistair may have been one of the first, if not the
first, to talk.

To be honest, I just had never really been able to wrap my brain around the whole concept
that likened, from scripture, the wedding covenant to the relationship between Jesus and
His church. Plus, and this is probably weird, I just never felt particularly comfortable being
thought of as a ' bride.' So what was that all about? How did Christ's love for the church 
mirror the love of two people being married?

After speaking eloquently, as always, about the phenomenal love expressed in God's
great exchange for salvation, Alistair used the following scenario, which I can only paraphrase. here....

Picture the pastor standing in front of the wedding couple. After preliminary comments
he turns to the groom and asks if he loves this woman who it to be his wife. His answer,
hopefully, is to be, 'I do.' Then the pastor turns to the woman and asks the same
question as to the love she feels entering into the marriage, and she answers, 'I do."

Now picture God standing in front of you at a most important instant of your life. He, God,
turns to His right and asks Jesus, 'Do you love this man?' Jesus responds, 'Yes, I love Him
and I died for him. Then God turns to you and says, 'Do you love Jesus?'

Now we are at the defining moment of ones life. There can be nothing much more sacred
and meaningful than the ceremony of marriage, a direct creation of God, Himself. Yet,
it pales in significance when compared to the salvation and eventual resurrection of
all who are sought, wooed and chosen by God to be adopted children in His eternal

So, what is the correct answer to God's question? Two simple, short but incomprehensibly
crucial words... "I DO!"

I pray that you have said them and accepted Christ as Savior and King.

Praise God!