It is so obvious! There are times when we see the hand of God working. It is right before our eyes. God is working. This is what we recently experienced in ministry. As I have written in a previous article, we often look back and see God’s working in our lives. We can see how He orchestrated each event. It is easier to see the hand of God when we look back.
But there are times in our lives that we actually see God working at the moment. On our latest ministry trip, we saw God doing great things. It was not something one person noticed. It was everyone involved. The changing of hearts, the opening of eyes to truth, and the working of the Holy Spirit was evident.
We cannot produce these things. Only God can. We must rely on Him. He is working. Sometimes we do not see His working until we look back, but when He makes it obvious, everyone sees His working. It is special when it is obvious, but just because we may not see the evidence does not mean He is not working.
God is working. Sometimes it is easily seen at the moment and other times is seen as we look back over the day, week, month, or years.
Did you ever have a person tell you something and you were unable to determine if they were teasing, joking, or stating a fact? When I was a small boy, my dad would tease me by telling me something silly. One thing he said was that my brains were in my feet. As a six year old, I had no idea my dad was telling me something untrue. I had confidence in him. I even went to school, being in first grade and argued that my brains were in my feet. My dad said so! I soon found that my confidence was misplaced. I learned my lesson; my dad enjoyed teasing people. That certainly made my childhood interesting and fun.
Confidence is a good trait for individuals. The problem comes when we place our trust in someone or something not reliable. Confidence in the Lord is never wrong. If God says He will do something, you can be sure He will. If He tells us about ourselves, our family life, our church, our world, or of the conflicts within each, you can trust what He says. When He speaks of the forgiveness of sin, freedom from condemnation, joy in the midst of trials, and of peace that this world cannot experience apart from Him, you can believe Him.
Confidence has much value in our lives. When it is in the right place or person, the worth is beyond compare. The Bible gives many statements about confidence or persuasion. Some demonstrate misplaced confidences while others show properly placed faith in the Lord and His working. I will list a few examples of the right object of confidence. I encourage you to read and study them:
• Philippians 1:6
• 2 Corinthians 5:6, 8
• 1 John 2:28
• 1 John 3:21
• Romans 8:38
• 2 Timothy 1:12
There are others to add but this is a good start. We all have confidence in something or someone. Your confidence, faith, trust, or belief in Lord and His Word is never misplaced.
I woke up this morning thinking about the New Year. We want to look forward with anticipation of good things. It’s not the case for many people. We have friends who have recently lost loved ones, some facing medical issues, some in the last days of life on this earth. We know others who face issues at work, family relationship problems, and situations that require drastic measures. For all of us, this life comes with difficulties and trials. So, can we really wish someone a Happy New Year?
Hope! We hope for good things for ourselves , for our families, friends, and for everyone. Yes, we can wish everyone a Happy New Year. There is hope that the events of life, difficulties, and trials will turn out well.
The source of good in this life and eternity is God. In Him there is hope. Even as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, God is with us and we will never be separated from His love. There is much heartache, sorrow, pain, and suffering. But there is also love, joy, and peace.
Just because I wish you a Happy New Year does not mean that I don’t care or realize you are facing difficult issues in life. I wish for you to know the joy, love, and strength to endure that comes from our God. So no matter the circumstances, yours or ours, may each of us experience love, joy, and peace this year. There is hope in the Lord.
A catchy phrase stays in our minds. Some can quote movie lines, commercial catch-phrases, song lyrics, and famous quotes with great accuracy. I have noticed myself thinking about various Christmas themed quotes during this season. Maybe you will recognize some of them.
“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.” This phrase comes to mind as I venture into the mall, shopping centers, and throughout our neighborhood. Then I breathe the crisp outside air, see the snow, and feel the chill penetrate through my coat. Memories come of previous seasons, causing me to evaluate, bringing me to the conclusion, yes, it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
“The Birthday of the King.” We had a man in our second church who would sing this song every year as a special. He put much effort into singing it with grace and confidence. It was wonderful and is still a precious memory.
“O Holy Night.” I always looked forward to hearing a lady in our first church sing this for a special at Christmas time. She beautifully sang the song with its wonderful words. “The soul felt its worth.” What a deep impacting phrase, the meaning reaching into hearts as we contemplate the significance of it.
“The reason for the season.” Of course, the birth of Jesus is the reason for the season, a good thing to remember through the extra activity and busyness.
One of my favorites is, “Wise men still seek Him.” The Bible speaks of seeking the Lord while He may be found though He is not far from any of us. But the words, “wise men,” signify that those who are truly serious and studious will seek. The sad part is that I know Christians who give no evidence of a desire to seek the Lord, or walk with the Lord. Jesus is not only the reason for the season but He is the life giver. Every day, we should walk with Him. Armed with the knowledge of who He is and what He does in and through lives, wise ones will seek Him.
December a few years ago at our home.
It is the Christmas season with decorations in the stores, around the community, in our neighborhoods, and yes, we have them in our home. Some displays focus on the birth of Jesus but many simply focus on the season.
Look around the room or place where you are reading this blog. What type of decoration or display items do you see? I am sitting in my study, surrounded by books, some sitting orderly on shelves, others stacked on my desk, safe, and on top of the books on the shelves. There are pictures of Jeneen and I, the boys, the grandkids, and friends. I have knick-knacks from our travels, from mountain adventures, and from friends. Of course, there are stacked trays full of papers, computers, speakers, and a printer sitting on the desk and credenza. These things are representative of a life. They show the character of my life.
What do you see around you, in your home, in your special area? Do you have decorations around the home? Our lives are characterized by what we put into them. What do you see?
If you are a Christian, you should see the everyday items of your life but you should also see evidence that you know the Lord. My study has theological books, Bibles, and much more. Jeneen’s table next to her chair has many books and devotional material. What do you see in your decorations of life?
I received a call from Pastor Aron Schrepfer the day after the 7.1 magnitude earthquake in their area of Alaska. They had received damage from things falling off walls, out of cupboards, and off shelves. As far as they could tell, there was no structural damage to their home or the church. Praise the Lord.
Pastor Aron did mention that He walked into his study and found a copy of my book, Steadfast and Stable, on the floor, having fallen off the shelf. He thought it ironic that a book about stability should fall during an earthquake. We came up with some humorous thoughts during our conversation.
One way we could look at it is: the book, Steadfast and Stable, isn’t really steadfast and stable itself, it just teaches about being stable. Of all the things in his study, this book came off the shelf. Or another way is: you had better get your copy of Steadfast and Stable soon because they are flying off the shelves. We had a good laugh.
It is like Alaskans to put a humorous spin on tough situations. They have lots of clean-up and will be feeling the effects of the quake for months ahead. One person from Alaska wrote, if you have family or friends in Alaska, buy them dishes for Christmas. Humor can sometimes help in a difficult situation. Please pray for the people affected by the earthquake.
When the ground which we call “terra-firma” is shaking, it is good to remember our stability comes from a life based upon the solid rock, Jesus Christ. He gives security to the believer in a constantly changing and sometimes shaking world. Are you rooted and grounded in love, on the Solid Rock?
How many churches have closed in the last few years? How many have declined to a few people meeting in a large building? Many are looking for answers to this problem by changing methodology, direction, or format, seeking to somehow revitalize the church. The answer may be simpler than that.
Even though there are many reasons for a church to close, the Bible gives us one in Revelation 2. Jesus is speaking to the pastors of the seven churches in chapter 2 and 3. We know more about the first one, the church at Ephesus, because there is more written about it in the New Testament than the other six.
Jesus commends the church for their attention to sound doctrine, to ministry without stopping, to working together with patience and perseverance, and to ferreting out false teachers. He has something negative to say about the church; they have left their first love. Jesus then gives the consequence if they do not change, getting back to loving the Lord with their whole heart. He says that He will come quickly and remove the church from Ephesus.
Ephesus was a church doing many of the right things but they were in danger of quickly being closed because they had left their first love. The prescription that Jesus gave is one for all of us to take to heart. Repent, remembering what we once had in our love –based relationship with the Lord, doing the first things, going back to our first love. We have been given a great gift by God, salvation, eternal life, the forgiveness of sins. We have been given honor and love by God, being call His children.
So, it is up to each of us, in our own churches, to love the Lord our God with our whole heart. As we do, we are taking away one of the main reasons churches close. Have you left your first love?
You have heard of NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. It allowed imports and export between Canada, the United States, and Mexico, without tariffs. The problem with trade is when a country imports more than it exports.
I am part of the NALFTA. You may wonder what that is. It is the North American Leaf Free Trade Agreement. I do not remember signing up but apparently I am a member. It must be a local agreement between neighbors. It provides for the free exchange of leaves from our trees. Today I spent hours dealing with leaves, my neighbors doing the same in their yards.
As I was gathering leaves into bags, I tried to examine them for the tree of origin. They are not marked, made in Mexico or made by the neighbor’s tree but I can tell that some of them are not mine by the kind of leaf. We do not grow that tree or bush in our yard. So, as I examined them, I was wondering if there was a trade imbalance. Are more leaves being imported into my yard than I am export to the neighbors?
So far, no one has said anything about the leaves I have exported nor have I said anything about the leaves imported to my yard. A wind could fill my yard again with the neighbor’s leaves, or maybe it could blow the rest of mine to the neighbors. Upon closer examination, I see most of the leaves in my yard are from my trees. I have watched some of the leaves from our trees cross property lines in accordance to the NALFTA.
I believe I am exporting more than I am importing. It sure works well when you do. I like being a member of the NALFTA. Sometimes I do feel sorry for the neighbors who have to rake my leaves from their yard but they are members too.
So as they rake my leaves, I think of it as the windfall of the NALFTA.
I wrote this article six years ago. It is still true today. Stand, having done all stand, fellow Christians. We are ambassadors for the King of kings. Speak the truth in love. Biblical Christianity crosses every border on this earth. Nothing can change the fact that God is still God and His truth will stand forever.
Our Mission Is Clear
The election of 2012 shows the moral decay of our nation. We will continue to see rapid changes, even at a more accelerated rate. More states are joining the acceptance of homosexuality, legalization of marijuana, and continual suppression of achievement by raising penalties on success in order to give to those who do not. Our nation continues to take away rights in order to establish those who want to live an amoral lifestyle with no consequences. The presidential election was determined not by political ideals but by moral issues. We must face the fact that our nation is as President Obama said, no longer a Christian nation.
So what about Christians, who believe in morality and absolutes? We become the target. We become a roadblock standing in the way of change. Those who want an amoral society with no consequences view Christians as stuck in tradition or simple and small minded.
We were able in the past, to think of our nation as embracing morality and good ethics. We must realize the truth and move from our complacent existence and our seeking of acceptance from society. The moral climate of America will not change until the heart of America is changed. Morality and good ethics must come from the heart and soul of the people. You may not be able to legislate morality, but as we see in our country, you can give acceptance to immorality.
Paul just before his death wrote Timothy a letter. He said that God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind. He encouraged Timothy to continue in what he knew was truth even though there would be great changes in life and society. As the battle for the heart of America continues, we must stay with what we know is true. God is still God. Nothing can separate us from His love. All those who live godly will suffer from those who do not. We will be ridiculed, laughed at, and may even become the objects of violent action.
Our mission is clear. Speak the truth in love. There is forgiveness of sin through Jesus Christ our Lord. Share the truth where you are able. Pray for the changing of hearts and lives. Do not lose heart my fellow believers. There is always hope in the Lord.
“A wise son makes a glad father.” Today is special because it is the birthday of our son, Peter. When my wife and I were married, we did not think of how many, nor even if we would have children, but God gave us three sons who we lovingly refer to as “the boys.” Peter is the oldest of the three. As a father, it is a blessing to see your sons grow into wonderful young men, developing in wisdom and knowledge.
Peter is a student, teacher, husband, and father. He is a reader, writer, and an award-winning author. He continues to grow in knowledge and wisdom as he journeys through life. I may be his father but I still look to him for the wisdom God has given. It is great when you have sons who teach their dad. I think that comes from them being wise-guys.
Today is your birthday, Peter. I want to write from my heart how glad I am to have you as a son. I post it here because I want everyone to know how blessed I am as a father. You are a gift from God to bless my life. Thank you, Peter, for being the man God wants you to be.
I will be going to you for your wisdom on the book I am writing. Your insight into the writing world is valuable. Just as important is your wisdom and knowledge in walking with God; the subject of the book I am finishing. Hopefully God will give us days together in the future to make this book the best it can be for the Lord.
Happy Birthday, Peter! You are a wise son. I am a glad father. Today, I honor you for your part in the wonderful life I live. I love you, my son.
(You may want to edit that part about the wise-guys. It may not come across the way I intend. Just saying.)