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Monday, October 31, 2011

Lessons From a Smiling Pumpkin.

Proverbs 15:13 (New International Version)
 A happy heart makes the face cheerful,
   but heartache crushes the spirit.

A lady had recently been baptized. One of her coworkers asked her what it was like to be a Christian. She was caught off guard and didn't know how to answer, but when she looked up she saw a jack-o'-lantern on the desk and answered: "It's like being a pumpkin."

The worker asked her to explain that one.

"Well, God picks you from the patch and brings you in and washes off all the dirt on the outside that you got from being around all the other pumpkins. Then he cuts off the top and takes all the yucky stuff out from inside. He removes all those seeds of doubt, hate, greed, etc. Then he carves you a new smiling face and puts his light inside of you to shine for all to see. It is our choice to either stay outside and rot on the vine or come inside and be something new and bright."

Let’s remember when we see a carver pumpking this year, What God has done for us.

Dear Lord we thank You for what You have done for us. We thank You for taking out sin out of us and for putting a smile on our faces. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

How Much Music Can You Make?

2 Timothy 1:7 (New International Version)
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

Imagine this. A concert violinist is performing a difficult piece in front of a large audience. Suddenly there is a loud snap that reverberates throughout the auditorium. The audience immediately knows that a string has broken and fully expects the concert to be suspended until another string, or instrument, is brought to the musician.

But instead, the violinist composes herself, closes her eyes and then signals the conductor to begin again. The orchestra resumes where they had left off and now the musician plays the music on three strings. In her mind she works out new fingering to compensate for the missing string. A work that few people can play well on four strings, the violinist with the broken string plays on three.

When she finishes, an awesome silence hangs in the room. And then as one, the crowd rises to their feet and cheers wildly. The violinist smiles and wipes perspiration from her brow. When silence returns to the great room, she explains why she continued to play in spite of a broken string. "You know," she says, still breathless, "sometimes it is the artist's task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left." *

We know what she means, don't we? Maybe we've lived most of our lives and we have only a little time left. Can we still make music?

Maybe disease has robbed us of our capacity to work. Can we still make music?

Perhaps a financial loss has left us impoverished. Can we still make music?

Or maybe a meaningful relationship has ended and we feel alone in the world. Can we still make music?

There will come a time when we all experience loss. Like the violinist, will we find the courage to discover just how much music we can still make with what we have left? How much good we can still do? How much joy we can still share? For I'm convinced that the world, more than ever, needs the music only you can make.

And if it takes extra courage to make the music, many will applaud your effort. For some people have lost more than others, and these brave souls inspire the rest of us to greater heights.

Just how much music can you make with what you have left?

Dear Lord we pray that we would take what we have and continue to make music rather than make excuses. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Being Sold Out.

Philippians 3:7 (New International Version)
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.

George Mueller was a man known for building orphanages by faith in the mid-1800s. He raised literally millions of dollars for his orphanages, yet died with little in his own bank account. When asked about his conversion experience he commented, I was converted in November of 1825, but I only came into the full surrender of the heart four years later, in July 1829. The love of money was gone, the love of place was gone, the love of position was gone, and the love of worldly pleasures and engagements was gone. God, God alone became my portion. I found my all in Him; I wanted nothing else. And by the grace of God this has remained, and has made me a happy man, an exceedingly happy man, and it led me to care only about the things of God. I ask affectionately, my beloved brethren, have you fully surrendered the heart to God, or is there this thing or that thing with which you have taken up irrespective of God? I read a little of the scriptures before, but preferred other books; but since that time the revelation He has made of Himself has become unspeakably blessed to me, and I can say from my heart, God is an infinitely lovely Being. Oh, be not satisfied until in your own inmost soul you can say, God is an infinitely lovely Being! [Basil Miller, Man of Faith and Miracles (Minneapolis, Minnesota, Bethany House Publishers, n.d.)]

Many will never get to the place where George Mueller was in his spiritual life, because we are unwilling to release control of these areas of which he speaks. If we do release control, it usually is due to a process that God brings us through. Paul got knocked off a horse and was spoken to personally before he was willing to listen and follow completely. Peter had to live with Jesus three years and he still denied Him. It was only later, after he denied Jesus and realized how weak he was in his own faith, that he became fully committed to the Savior.

What will it take for you to fully surrender? You will know that you have given full surrender when power, money, and position no longer have meaning in your life. Paul said he came to a place where his life was the life of Christ only. It is a sacrificial life, but it is also a life of freedom, purpose, and meaning. Let God take full control and see His life lived fully through you.

Dear Lord we want to completely surrender all to You. We want to be what You want us to be and to do what You want us to do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Let the Expert Run the Show

Genesis 1:27 (New International Version)
 So God created mankind in his own image,
   in the image of God he created them;
   male and female he created them.

Computers are a wonderful mystery.

We love the informational possibilities of the Internet. We love being able to communicate our friends all around the world via e-mail. We love playing Solitaire.

But most of us have no idea how it all works. And when it doesn’t work ... well, that’s even more of a mystery.  Albeit not especially wonderful.

One time comes to mind that was really frustrating. The new HP printer would not scan photos and communicate with my computer.

I made a few phone calls, and got bounced from service representative to technician back to service representative again. Eventually I was TOLD that they could download a program to my computer through the Internet, but would have to allow them to take control of her keyboard for a few minutes.
A box appeared on my screen, asking for permission for the technician to take over my computer.

“At first it was a little frightening “It was like they were inside my computer talking to me.

I went ahead and clicked the “yes” box and allowed the tech to have their way with my computer.

“It was amazing and fun to watch the little arrow moving around my screen as I sat there with my hands in my lap,”. “Even though the tech was miles away maybe even thousands of miles away the technician was going through my computer changing files and accessing whatever he needed as he moved throughout  my computer. I mostly had no idea what he was doing, but clearly he did. So I sat there and turned my computer over to him and let him do what he needed to do.”

In just a few minutes the job was done, and the control of my computer was returned to me, with the printer working.

“There is no way I could have done all of that myself,” “Not in a million years. All that clicking, controlling all of those menus, going places that I didn’t even know existed on my computer – there’s no way I could have done that, not even with a book of instructions. The best and safest thing for me to do was to back off and let an expert run the show.

As we look at it, it’s the same way with God. While we do a pretty good job with our lives most of the time, there are moments when we’re in way over our heads. At such times it’s probably a good idea to turn the controls over to Him, and then to back off and let the Expert run the show. After all, it’s His show, and He knows what He’s doing.”

Even though sometimes it’s all a wonderful mystery to us.

Dear Lord we pray that we would turn all things over to You the expert. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Give it to God.

John 16:33 (New International Version)
 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

One of the situations that causes tension for all of us is our attempt to control our lives. We seem to feel that the tighter we hold on, direct and attempt to fix, the better things will be. However, God would obviously like us to lean a bit more on Him, to surrender and follow his lead. It's not always easy to determine just where He's leading us, but when we humbly ask for help, it's amazing what can happen. Helen Scheid of Rochester, Minnesota,knows this very well.

Helen has her PhD in Psychological Measurement and Evaluation (wow!) And has been a consultant and a director of her own company, one that provides examinations and licensing for schools and state boards. A business wanted Helen's professional advice to help their board of directors choose among three bidders for a project. But the board members didn't know what questions to ask, nor how to evaluate the answers when they got them.

It was a rather routine situation, and Helen felt she could help. She was familiar with the corporation, and with the three organizations whose bids they were considering. "I knew the strengths and the weaknesses of each, and I felt certain I could help them make their own good decision," Helen says. "That's what an effective consultant should do."

So far, so good. But as the evaluations and discussions proceeded through the first day, Helen sensed that one of the three organizations was already being favored. By the second day it became clear that the directors were divided into two camps---those with a preconceived plan in favor of that bidder, and those who wanted to weigh the evidence before making any decision. "I tried to steer a neutral course between the two, directing their attention to facts and data and the implications of alternatives," Helen says, "but by lunch time, there was a stalemate. The directors were no longer treating one another with ordinary courtesy and respect; the velvet gloves were coming off. What was I to do?"

Lunch was brought in to the conference room to expedite the agenda. Tension had taken away any appetite Helen had, so she excused herself to go for a walk. And on the path, she prayed. "Dear God," she said, "I'm in an impossible situation. I really don’t know what I can do about it. There is a lot of friction and hostility in this group, and some of it has a long history that I really can't deal with. I know they have to make a decision, and they have to make it now. But no one wants to compromise, and everyone wants it their own way. I have to go back to the meeting now, God, but I'm leaving it in your hands to show me what I can do to help them resolve this."

Instead of hanging on even tighter to an imaginary sense of control, Helen had asked God to take over. “I was still a little anxious about what I should do," she says, "but I also felt that I didn't have to worry." She went back to the meeting, and the discussion resumed.

Surprisingly, as the afternoon progressed, the tone of the meeting changed. Somehow, the directors found ways to accommodate the differences that had overwhelmed them in the morning. By the end of the day, there was complete consensus on the decision to be made, and the morning of the third day could be spent in working out the details of its implementation.

"I know that nothing I said or did in the meeting contributed to the outcome, but I'm equally certain that what I did outside the meeting had a direct effect," Helen says. The company chairmen drove Helen to the airport, and she decided to share what had happened.

"I was wondering what had changed everyone at that meeting from the morning to the afternoon of the second day---and now I know!" The chairman said.

It's not always easy to relinquish control. But when we invite God to direct us, amazing things happen.

Dear Lord we pray that we would invite You today to direct us in all things. We pray that in all situations we will not try to do it on our own but that we would let You direct our thoughts and ideas. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

God is in Control

Psalm 53:1 (New International Version)
The fool says in his heart,
   “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, and their ways are vile;
   there is no one who does good.

"There is no God," said Janice to her friend Marge. "If there was, my marriage would not have fallen apart, my mother would not have died of cancer last year, and life would not be so difficult." Marge offered her friend a gentle smile and placed her arm around Janice's shoulder.

"No, Janice, God is real. However, do you want to hear something funny?" Marge asked her sorrowful and frustrated friend.

"What's funny?" Asked Janice as she lifted her head up.

Marge replied, "Why do people always blame God when things don't go their way? After all, how do we know it's not Satan causing the problem, or maybe even our own actions?"

"God could have stopped my mother from dying!" Janice snapped. "He didn't have to let my husband leave me for another woman either!"

Again Marge gently smiled as she patted her friend's knee. "Your mom smoked for thirty years, sweetie. Even when the doctor told her to stop because she was having trouble breathing, your mom chose to continue. I know you miss her terribly, but do you really think it is fair to blame God for the wrong choices she made?"

Janice shrugged.

Marge continued, "When Henry left you for another woman, did God tell him to do it, or was it Henry's own decision?"

A tear rolled down Janice's cheek as she whispered, "I guess it was Henry's own actions."

Marge patted Janice's knee again as she replied, "That's right, sweetie. Many of the hardships we go through in life are a direct result of our choices, or the choices of those near and dear to us. Sometimes their wrong choices or sinful behaviors end up hurting us though." Marge continued as she reached for her friend's hand and grasped it tightly.

"God loves you, Janice. He loves the sacred bond of marriage too, and I am sure it broke His heart as much as yours when you and Henry divorced. And, when your mom died, I am sure He understood your grief, and wanted to comfort you."

Janice placed her hand over Marge's, smiled, then whispered, "I feel like such a fool now. Thank you for reminding me that there are some things in life we just don't have control of, and that just because bad or sad things sometimes happen, it doesn't mean that God doesn't exist."

The two friends quickly gave each other a warm embrace.

Dear Lord we pray that we would wouldn’t blame You for the things that happen around us. We pray that we would be positive in all things. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Clear Conscience and Natural Gas

Acts 24:16 (New International Version)
So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.

March 18, 1937. The date is chiseled on dozens of tombstones in  in New London, Texas. On the fateful day, some 1200 students were in attendance at the town's only school. At 3:10 pm, just twenty minutes before the end of the school day, the shop teacher flipped off the electrical switch to the power saws. Suddenly, a spark from the switch touched off an explosion and the entire stone building was leveled. The blast killed 297 students and teachers. It was heard some 35 miles away in Tyler and Kilgore Texas.

A subsequent investigation found that a spark had ignited some 6,000 cubic feet of natural gas that had accumulated in the basement the school. A nearby oil company had an oil pipeline close to the school. Someone had decided to siphon the natural gas, the by-product of petroleum extraction, from the company's pipeline to fuel the school's furnace free of charge.

The one positive effect of this disastrous event was a government regulation requiring companies to add an odorant to natural gas. The distinctive "rotten eggs smell" of sulfur is now so familiar that we forget natural gas is actually odorless.

Just as the odorant in natural gas warns us of danger, a guilty conscience can warn us of sin in our lives. We need to heed this warning and seek always to keep a clear conscience before God and man.

Do you have a guilty conscience? Confess it to our Lord today.

Dear Lord we confess our sins to You.  Please make any wrong in us today right. We want to have a clear conscience before You and man. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Monday, October 24, 2011

When the World Tells us NO.

Philippians 4:13 (New King James Version)
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

When Henry Ward Beecher was a young boy in school, he learned a lesson in self-confidence, which he never forgot. He was called upon to recite in front of the class. He had hardly begun when the teacher interrupted with an emphatic, "No!" He started over and again the teacher thundered, "No!" Humiliated, Henry sat down.

The next boy rose to recite and had just begun when the teacher shouted, "No!" This student, however, kept on with the recitation until he completed it. As he sat down, the teacher responded, "Very good!"

Henry was irritated. "I recited just as he did," he complained to the teacher.

But the instructor replied, "It is not enough to know your lesson, you must be sure. When you allowed me to stop you, it meant that you were uncertain. If all the world says, `No!' It is your business to say, `Yes!' And prove it."

The world says, "No!" In a thousand ways:

"No! You can't do that."

"No! You are wrong."

"No! You are too old."

"No! You are too young."

"No! You are too weak."

"No! It will never work."

"No! You don't have the education."

"No! You don't have the background."

"No! You don't have the money."

"No! It can't be done."

Each "No!" You hear has the potential to erode your confidence bit by bit until you quit altogether. Though the world says, "No!" To you today, will you determine to say, "Yes!" And prove it?

Dear Lord we pray that we would have the courage to keep going even when the world is shouting “No” to us. Thanks for the strength to keep going. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Where is Your Confidence?

Psalm 27:1-3 (New International Version)
1 The LORD is my light and my salvation—
   whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life—
   of whom shall I be afraid?
 2 When the wicked advance against me
   to devour me,
it is my enemies and my foes
   who will stumble and fall.
3 Though an army besiege me,
   my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
   even then I will be confident.

Every year for more than a decade, The Parachutist, which is the official publication of the United States Parachute Association, has published an article called their "fatality summary." In the article a writer analyzes the factors contributing to parachuting deaths in the previous year.

Parachutists are classified first as students, then after twenty jumps they receive their A license. After fifty jumps, they receive their B license. After one hundred jumps their C license. After two hundred jumps, their D license.

In the 1993 fatality summary Paul Sitter points to an alarming statistic. Fifty-nine percent of all parachuting fatalities were suffered by elite jumpers, those with a D license. A graph accompanying the article shows a dramatic upward spike for fatalities among those with two hundred to one thousand jumps. The line on the graph falls again for those with more than one thousand jumps.

The lesson is clear. Just because a person is mature doesn't mean he or she is invulnerable. Is it possible that some parachutists with between two hundred and one thousand jumps got overconfident?

What a blessing to know that we can have complete confidence in Christ.

Dear Lord we want to put our complete confidence in You. We thank You that You are always there for us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Positive Affirmation and Encouragement

Ephesians 4:29 (New International Version)
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

In "Today in the Word" it is reported that, "Dr. Howard Hendricks of Dallas Theological Seminary says he can remember only two of his childhood school teachers; his fifth and sixth grade teachers. He had a reputation for causing trouble in the classroom. His fifth grade teacher dealt with him by tying him to his seat and wrapping mucilage paper over his mouth.

"Finally, Dr. Hendricks reports, he was promoted to the sixth grade. His teacher was 6'4" tall, 'a feminine version of Sherlock Holmes.' As he walked into her class she said, 'Oh, you're Howard Hendricks. I've heard a lot about you.' But then she added, 'But I don't believe a word of it!'

"She convinced him that she had confidence in him, and Dr. Hendricks recalls that he knocked himself out to please her."

Every child and every adult -- including the elderly — need lots of positive affirmation and encouragement. Everyone needs someone to believe in and love him/her ... without which we can shrivel up and die inside.

Dear Lord we pray that we would be the encouragement to everyone we come into contact with. We pray that we would focus on the positive things rather than the negative. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Restoration Begins with Confession

Proverbs 28:13 (New International Version)
Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper,
   but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

In 1977, New York's Citicorp tower was completed. The 59-story building was hailed for its technical elegance and singular grace. The structural engineer who designed the steel superstructure was William J. LeMessurier. A year after the building opened, LeMessurier came to a frightening realization. The Citicorp tower was flawed. Without his approval, during construction the joints in the steel superstructure had been bolted, a common and acceptable practice, but does not make for as strong a joint as welding does. What made that a critical problem, though, was that in LeMessurier's calculations he had not taken into account the extra force of a nonperpendicular wind.

He now calculated that a wind strong enough to buckle a crucial bolted joint came every sixteen years in New York City. LeMessurier weighed his options. If he blew the whistle on himself, he faced potential lawsuits, probable bankruptcy, and professional disgrace. But lives were at stake. So he did what he had to do. He informed all concerned. After informing city and corporate leaders, the critical welds were made within three months at the cost of millions of dollars. LeMessurier's career and reputation were not destroyed but enhanced. A fellow engineer commended LeMessurier's courage to say, "I got a problem; I made the problem; let's fix the problem."

Sin is a deadly problem. It can't be covered-up; it has to be owned up. Is there sin in your life? Confess that sin today and know that it will restore your relationship with Him.

"It does not spoil your happiness to confess your sin. The unhappiness is in not making the confession." - Charles H. Spurgeon

Dear Lord we come to You today asking forgiveness for the things that are hindering our relationship with You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I Was Wrong. I am Sorry.

Ephesians 4:32 (New International Version)
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

They must be the six most difficult words in the English language. It's not the pronunciation that stumps us; it's our egos. There isn't one of them you can't spell. And some people certainly do better with them than others. Are you ready for me to lay them out for you? To explore how well you do with them?

Here are the six troublesome words: "I was wrong. I am sorry."

Charles Utley of San Diego, California, underwent cancer surgery about four years ago. In the days that followed, he noticed a lump on his backside. He tried to ignore it and kept waiting for it to go away. Within a couple of weeks, it not only hadn't healed but was oozing fluid. So tests were ordered.

A surgical sponge had been left in Utley's body! As reported in The Wall Street Journal, his surgeon did a most unusual thing. He accepted responsibility for the mistake, looked Utley in the face, and apologized. As opposed to a routine deny-and-defend strategy in such cases, the doctor told him how sorry he was.

"No matter how this happened, I was the surgeon in charge," he said. "I was the captain of the ship. I was responsible. And I apologize for this." Instead of getting an attorney and suing, the 50-year-old victim chose to settle the matter privately. "They honored me as a human being," he said.

The newspaper article pointed out that other doctors and hospitals are finding out that "an authentically offered apology" does wonders in heading off lawsuits. One attorney who represents victims in medical malpractice cases was quoted as saying his job is harder when physicians own up to their mistakes. Some medical schools – including Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in the city of Nashville – now have mandatory courses in communicating errors to patients and families of patients and offering appropriate apologies.

Patients can accept that doctors are fallible. What enrages them and sends them to court is someone's denial of the obvious.

I would be willing to guess the same thing would work in your business or professional life. In your family. With friends who have been offended and alienated. I know it is the key to spiritual life, for the Bible teaches, "Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed" (James 5:16).

Keep those six words handy. They can make a difference that matters.

Dear Lord we pray that we would use the six words. I was wrong. I am sorry. Please help us to be honest with those around us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Admitting We're Wrong

Psalm 32:5 (New International Version)
Then I acknowledged my sin to you
   and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
   my transgressions to the LORD.”
And you forgave
   the guilt of my sin.

On September 3, 1989, Varig Airlines Flight 254 was at Brazil's Maraba Airport preparing for takeoff. Under normal circumstances the short flight to nearby Belém Airport would only take 48 minutes.

Captain Cézar Garcez consulted a computer-generated flight plan and read the number 027 which corresponded to the magnetic heading from Maraba to Belém. But Garcez was distracted while listening to a World Cup Soccer Championship game and inadvertently dialed 270 into the Horizontal Situation Indicator.

Minutes later, flight 254 took off and climbed to an altitude of 29,000 feet. Instead of heading northeast toward the Brazilian coastline and the city of Belém, the plane turned west and headed straight toward the Amazon forest.

Captain Garcez sensed something was wrong. At this point in the flight plan he expected to be able to have visual contact with the Belém airport. Despite not knowing where he was, Captain Garcez informed the Varig flight coordinator on the ground he estimated the plane would be landing in Belém in five minutes.

At 7:39 p.m., when the flight was 68 minutes overdue, the first officer identified the problem and started to explain to the captain his mistake. But the captain dismissed his explanation. Refusing to ask for help, he began counting the minutes until the plane would run out of fuel. All the while he searched the ground hoping to find an airport where he could land the plane.

About an hour later, out of fuel, Garcez made a remarkable crash-landing in total darkness in a dense tropical forest. The plane was 700 miles from the intended destination. Although all six of the crew survived, 13 of the 48 passengers were killed. Both Captain Garcez and the first officer had their commercial licenses revoked. They never flew again.

Sin blinds us to our need that we need Christ to lead us. It is only when we confess we are lost that the Lord can safely lead us.
Today in prayer, look to the Lord and confess any sin in your life and receive the forgiveness that only Christ can give.

"You cannot repent too soon because you do not know how soon it may be too late." - Thomas Fuller

Dear Lord we come before You today asking forgiveness. We pray that we would admit when we are wrong and not deny being wrong. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Grumblers and Faultfinders

James 5:9 (New International Version)
Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!

In November 1782, Charles Simeon became pastor of the Holy Trinity Church in Cambridge, England. The church was less than pleased to receive this blustering minister who insisted that those who called themselves "Christian" be truly saved by grace and live lives more closely conformed to Christ.

Opponents within the church harassed Simeon by locking the family-owned pews, forcing those who wished to hear the new minister to find standing room as best they could. When Simeon brought in benches, the churchwardens took them out and threw them in the churchyard. When he tried to visit from house to house, hardly a door would open to him. This situation lasted at least ten years.

Simeon was also a target from those outside his church. The students at Cambridge held Simeon in disdain for his biblical preaching and his uncompromising stand as an evangelical. They repeatedly disrupted his services and caused a tumult in the streets.

One observer wrote from personal experience, "For many years Trinity Church and the streets leading to it were the scenes of the most disgraceful tumults." But through time, Simeon was steady in his ministry.

He remained at the Holy Trinity Church for 54 years. He began a Christian College at Holy Trinity and of the undergraduates Simeon trained during his 54 years, some 1,100 became effective-and many, distinguished- parish ministers, chaplains, and missionaries.

Dear Lord we pray that we would not grumble and complain. We pray that we be positive and a positive influence to the cause of Christ. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Clinging to the Rock.

Psalm 16:11 (New International Version)
You make known to me the path of life;
   you will fill me with joy in your presence,
   with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Tapping their feet nervously, three men stood in line, each awaiting an interview for a highly paid job during a time of severe economic recession.

Finally, seated before the interviewer, the first man was posed this question. “You are being interviewed for the position of truck driver on the most dangerous road in the world, the 43-mile-long Unduavi-Yolosa Highway in Bolivia. On one side, the road clings to the cliffs of the Andes Mountains; on the other side there is a precipice with a 1600 foot plunge to the ravine below. There are no guard rails at all; only crosses placed by grieving relatives of the thousands who have plunged to their deaths since the highway was built 60 years ago. Would your normal driving habits permit you to drive at the edge of the road next to the precipice, or in the middle of the road, or snugly against the mountain?”

The first man answered without hesitation. “I could easily drive right along the edge. I’m a skilled and confident driver and I’ve never had a wreck. I’m not afraid of anything and I’m willing to take risks to get the truck to its destination on time. I’m your man. ”

The second man responded, “I would stay in the middle of the road because I feel safest there. You can always count on me to arrive safely.”

The third man replied, “I would stay as far from the edge of the precipice as possible to protect myself, the truck and its cargo. I would not drive in the middle because I could get hit from trucks coming from both directions. I would seek the safest place possible and that would be driving snugly against the mountain.”

His answer won him the job.

This is also the best answer for our walk with Christ.

Unlike the first man, we should remember there is danger in taking risks with the imminent threat of falling deeply into an abyss the enemy of our souls has prepared for us. Flirting with temptation has led many Christians off the road resulting in serious injury to their faith and their testimonies, affecting not only themselves but their families as well.

Unlike the second man, we should not compromise our faith and judgment by assuming a middle of the road stance, never taking a firm stand on our beliefs but fruitlessly carving out a road that accommodates all positions, thereby offending no one.

Rather, like the third man who responded, we should cling to the security of the mountain, acknowledging our complete dependence on the God of the mountain to keep us safe and secure in our faith till we reach our final destination: heaven.

We can trust Him to be our rock and our shield.

Dear Lord we thank You for being our rock. We pray that we would always hang on to You in all things. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Whining and Prayer

Luke 18:2-3 (New American Standard Bible)
2 saying, “In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. 3 There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’

Would you like some cheese with that whine Diamond? Whine, whine, whine. How I get fed up some days with listening to that dog whine. In fact I get so sick of hearing her whine she often ends up getting exactly what she wants just to shut her up. Talk about enabling her to continue in a negative behaviour pattern. Shame on me!

At the same time however Diamond's whining has reminded me of Christ's positive command to his disciples to always pray and not give up. The parable of the persistent widow reveals that consistency in prayer does work. The unjust judge, simply to get rid of the women and not wear himself out, finally gave her justice.

"Jesus said: And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly." Luke 18:6-8a NIV

So, as silly as it may sound, I am not going to give up whining, I will keep going to our Lord sending up a cry in regards to the many unjust situations facing our world today. I know for myself I find it easy to forget about the terrible dilemma many of our Christian brothers and sisters face each and every day. How they need the consistency of our prayers.

Now when Diamond whines instead of being annoyed and fed up I will allow it to be a godly reminder to me to be consistent in prayer for justice, that the whole world might live in freedom and peace.

Dear Lord, thank you for this Scriptural reminder to always pray for justice and not give up. We pray that we will always remember to come to You in prayer. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Lesson From My Turtle

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (New International Version)
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

As I sit at my kitchen table and watch Methuselah my green eared slider turtle swim around his tank it brought back to memory a story I once read.

It goes like this:

Not long ago I was on my way to an appointment when I spotted a turtle in the middle of the highway. The poor creature was somehow turned onto its back and was kicking and clawing in an effort to get back onto its feet. I couldn't stand the thought of driving past, knowing this creature would probably die without my help, so pulling off to the side of the highway, I quickly retrieved the stranded tortoise before racing back to my vehicle.

At first the creature hid within its shell, but quickly emerged, crooking its neck in an effort to bite the very hand that had saved it from death. I remember someone calling them "snapping turtles" when I was a child, and this one sure lived up to its name--gratitude definitely not on its mind when it was snapping at my fingers.

Now I understand that the animal could not have possibly been aware of the full picture. Had it perceived the danger, it surely would not have ventured out onto the hazardous highway. More important, had it known that I was saving its life, it most certainly would never have tried to bite me.

Then I thought of the many instances where the gentle hand of God picked me up when my world had been knocked upside down: times when life seemed unfair and things were not going well; when people I loved were diagnosed with terminal illnesses; when creditors, lawyers and bank officials contacted me more frequently than friends or family. It was during these times that I too snapped at the One who had rescued me.

Why is it that our first reaction always seems to be to withdraw into our shell and hide, then lash out at God and anyone else who dares to come near us? Our limited spiritual-view is much too small for us to understand because our limited understanding, like the turtle's, prevents our awareness of the whole picture. So often we think it's unfair that God would move us out of our comfort zone, when in fact He has snatched us from a dangerous situation.

Yes, "snapping Christians" exist, and God still pauses in the busiest of life's highways in order to pull us to safety. His compassion is too great to throw us back when we snap and bite at the hand that saves us. After all, He loves us or He would never take the time to rescue such ungrateful creatures. Look at Romans 5:8: "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

Now you may not realize you are snapping at God during these times, but when you complain about your situation, you never see that it is sometimes the hands of God you're complaining about. After looking back, we now understand that some things have happened in our lives for a reason, and a good reason at that.

Dear Lord we pray that we wouldn’t be a snapping Christian. Help us not complain about the things that happen around us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Valujet Flight 592

Isaiah 41:10 (New International Version)
So do not fear, for I am with you;
   do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
   I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

On Saturday, May 11, 1996 ValuJet Flight 592 crashed in the Florida Everglades. One hundred four passengers and five crew members died when it nose-dived into snake- and alligator-infested waters.

Terry Huckaby was running late and got to Miami International Airport after the plane was scheduled to leave. Rushing and still hoping its departure had somehow been delayed so he could catch the flight, he made it to the gate only to discover the plane was indeed gone.

Before trying to work out an alternate schedule, the frustrated man put $1 in a vending machine ... only to lose it. "I'm having a bad day," he said. "I missed my flight, and now I've lost a dollar." Someone behind the counter heard him and said, "No, you're the luckiest man alive. We just got word that your plane went down." What an abrupt call to reality that put his frustration into perspective!

Dear Lord we pray thank You for being in control of all things. We pray that we would look at the things that happen around us and trust you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.