On Wings Of Eagles

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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Gymnastics and Pressing On.

Philippians 3:12-15 (New International Version)
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.

Sunday Night as we watched the ladies gymnastics I couldn’t help but admire the gymnasts for their courage and determination.   

As we watched I could see great desire and motivation from each of the young ladies as they performed.  As they each did flips, twirls and landings I wondered about when they were just beginning, was there a temptation for them to feel overwhelmed at the challenge. Because they weren’t experienced and their muscles hadn't been used or strengthened yet.

Were there times when they became discouraged and want to just give up?  Did they compare themselves with the other gymnasts and feel inferior. That is where the coaches and trainers came in. To help each of them to realize that each have different strengths and talents and could benefit by learning together.

This is also true as it relates to our spiritual life.  When we come to meet someone who has had years of experience and practice, we admire the flow of grace and ease they possess. When they pray, it is power packed full of faith and the words flow like a river. It creates a hunger and a desire in us. We want that in our lives so much. But how often do we get frustrated when our prayers are choppy and the words are slow and few. How often we are tempted to give up and think we can’t do it.

We need to realize that we are at our own personal level of growth. We do need to be challenged and motivated to press on. We need to practice and exercise our muscles of faith to strengthen ourselves in these areas. We are not in a contest. We need to stop condemning ourselves for not being at the place we want to be at yet, and stop feeling as if others are judging us; this is a form of pride. We need to humbly admit that there are things we haven't yet learned and need help with.

How many of us have been held back from our full potential because of someone who put this fear in our hearts. We all long for something more, we know there is a call in our hearts to move onward and upward. We have been taught to deny our hearts desire and settle for doing somersaults the rest of our life. How we long to gracefully glide with speed and precision, flipping and floating through the air with joy!

Dear Lord we thank You that You have a plan for each one of us. We pray that we would have the courage and determination to accomplish what You have for each of us. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Thoughts on Volleyball and Worship

Colossians 3:23-24 (King James Version)
23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; 24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

I just finished watching the USA women’s volleyball game against Korea. It was fun to watch each of the players giving their all on every play. I have always loved volleyball either watching it or playing it.

Over the years I have played volleyball at different levels.  When you play “pickup games” where people just kind of join your team as they walk in, you never know who you will get or what skill level you will find.

Over the years I have noticed a couple kinds of people in sports. Those who give it their all and those who just wait for the ball to come to them.

The first kind, those who give it their all are ones who seek to get in the game, to play with all of their ability and not hold back. By playing with all they have they get a lot more out of the game. They are the ones you can count on to be “in the game.”

The other kind, those who just wait passively, really ruin the game. They just don’t have their heart in the game. They just show up. And then they are disappointed when they don’t get any enjoyment out of the game.

They generally don’t come back every week.

Let’s take a moment and compare our volleyball experience with our own worship experience.

Did you know that people come to worship with the same kind of attitudes?

Some folks think that somehow they will experience worship if they just show up. They don’t necessarily prepare for the morning, they come without a sense of expectation, and seem to think that somehow God is happy to see that they made it to His house.
But by thinking worship will just “happen” to them, they never really experience it. They never get into it, they never give themselves or put themselves into the service.

As a result, they go away empty and wonder why.

But the others, who give it their all…what do they experience?
They experience God Himself. They get up on Sunday morning (and just about every morning for that matter) and look for God. They are hungry for God. They don’t just want “a little bit of God” but they want all of Him.

And as a consequence, they enter their Sunday experience with a sense of “giving all of themselves” to God.

Which are you? Do you go to worship with a hunger for God or do you just “shown up” hoping that you will experience worship?

Dear Lord, we pray that we would go to worship with the right motives. We pray that we would give ourselves to You. Help us to desire You above anything. In Jesus Name. Amen. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Showing Mercy

Luke 6:36 (New International Version)
Be merciful,  just as your Father is merciful.

True forgiveness is one of the most remarkable traits a human can possess!

Some years back, Hildegard Goss-Mayr of the "International Fellowship of Reconciliation" told this true story.

In the midst of tragic fighting in Lebanon in the 1970s, a Christian seminary student was walking from one village to the next when he was ambushed by an armed Druze guerrilla fighter. The Druze ordered his captive down a mountain trail where he was to be shot.

But an amazing thing happened. The seminarian, who had received military training, was able to surprise his captor and disarm him. Now, the table was turned, and it was the Druze who was ordered down the trail.

As they walked, however, the student of theology began to reflect on what was happening. Recalling the words of Jesus, "Love your enemies; do good to those who hate you; turn the other cheek," he found he could go no further. He threw the gun into the bushes, told the Druze he was free to go and turned back up the hill.

Minutes later, he heard footsteps running behind him as he walked. "Is this the end after all?" He wondered. Perhaps the Druze had retrieved the gun and wanted to finish him off. But he continued on, never glancing back, until his enemy reached him, only to grab him in an embrace and pour out thanks for sparing his life.

Mercy often wears the face of forgiveness. And though it usually isn't an enemy in uniform that we are challenged to forgive, we have opportunities for mercy everyday. Family members and friends, co-workers and neighbors and even strangers have need for our forgiveness. We each know who they are.
Dear Lord we pray that we would forgive those around us no matter how hard it is for us. Help us to show mercy just like You showed mercy on each of us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
July 29, 2012
Blessed are Those Who Care.

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." (Matt 5:9 NIV)

She was only ten when she wrote a letter to the newly appointed Soviet President Yuri Andropov in December 1982, asking in no uncertain terms if he was going to lead a nuclear war against the United States of America. News on the television in those in days was scary (It still hasn't changed!), and there was lots of talk of a possible nuclear war between these two super powers. With this in mind, from Manchester, Maine, courageously undertook the task of directly contacting the president of the U.S.S.R. And President Andropov replied to her letter, inviting Samantha and her parents to visit his country the next summer.

Soon after this, the Soviet Union opened talks with the U.S. This led the end of the 20th century Cold War. Many believe that this all stemmed from the letter of that ten-year old child.

Samantha continued to promote world peace until her untimely death at the age of 13, when she and her father were killed in a plane crash near Auburn, Maine.

What are we doing to promote peace around us? To be a peacemaker, we have to have love, true love for all mankind. Any prejudice, hatred, bias and unforgiveness have to be set aside in order to make peace possible. Peacemakers are there to protect, trust, persevere and hope. Without hope there would be no peace. But then without love, peace wouldn't be possible either!

Maybe we can learn something from this ten-year-old who decided peace was more important than our own interests. We can start this kind of peace in our own neighborhood. We can start with our own families.

And what about Lucy, Henrietta and Philip? They too are yearning for acceptance. Are we willing to foster peace in these relationships? Are we courageous enough to love as deeply as Jesus did? Or are we letting events around us turn our love cold?

Dear Lord we pray that we would be the instrument of Peace for You. We pray that Your love will show through all that we do. Help others see Your love in our live. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Will You Show Mercy?

Luke 6:36 (New International Version)
Be merciful,  just as your Father is merciful.

True forgiveness is one of the most remarkable traits a human can possess!

Some years back, Hildegard Goss-Mayr of the "International Fellowship of Reconciliation" told this true story.

In the midst of tragic fighting in Lebanon in the 1970s, a Christian seminary student was walking from one village to the next when he was ambushed by an armed Druze guerrilla fighter. The Druze ordered his captive down a mountain trail where he was to be shot.

But an amazing thing happened. The seminarian, who had received military training, was able to surprise his captor and disarm him. Now, the table was turned, and it was the Druze who was ordered down the trail.

As they walked, however, the student of theology began to reflect on what was happening. Recalling the words of Jesus, "Love your enemies; do good to those who hate you; turn the other cheek," he found he could go no further. He threw the gun into the bushes, told the Druze he was free to go and turned back up the hill.

Minutes later, he heard footsteps running behind him as he walked. "Is this the end after all?" He wondered. Perhaps the Druze had retrieved the gun and wanted to finish him off. But he continued on, never glancing back, until his enemy reached him, only to grab him in an embrace and pour out thanks for sparing his life.

Mercy often wears the face of forgiveness. And though it usually isn't an enemy in uniform that we are challenged to forgive, we have opportunities for mercy everyday. Family members and friends, co-workers and neighbors and even strangers have need for our forgiveness. We each know who they are.

Dear Lord we pray that we would forgive those around us no matter how hard it is for us. Help us to show mercy just like You showed mercy on each of us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Saying Goodbye

John 14:3 (King James Version)
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

Yesterday was one of those “goodbye” days.  My son and his girlfriend’s mom and sister had to take her to the airport today to fly back home. As the goodbyes were said I had some thoughts concerning the subject of saying goodbye.

“Good-bye! It was great visiting with you. Let’s keep in touch! See you in a few months!” Without bringing tears to the eyes of those of you who hate to say goodbye I want all of you to bring to mind a time when you were saying goodbye to family or friends. What were some of the things that you talked about? As you think about saying goodbye can you recall any common thoughts that you seem to normally express to people before you leave?

As I think about “saying goodbye” three basic ideas come to mind. Usually when I say goodbye I find myself quickly reviewing the time I spent with the person I am leaving. The second part of one of my typical goodbyes is the promise to make plans for keeping in touch on a regular basis. The final thing that often goes into saying goodbye is the making of plans for when I will see the person again.

The word "good-bye" derives from "God be with you," a blessing that was traditionally given at parting and, in some churches, still is.  The protection and God’s help of presence and guidance can be requested whether two people expect to be separated a few hours or forever. In leaving nothing unsaid, we can recapture this original meaning, so that, in saying good-bye, we are actually blessing one another in our daily interactions as well as when we face major life challenges or crises. It only takes a moment to shift the way you say good-bye from a reflex to a conscious practice. Your good-bye and your blessing can become treasured gifts to other people as you part.

Dear Lord we pray that as each of has to say goodbye throughout this life that we would have our goodbyes be treasured gifts to those we say goodbye to. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Nails and Forgivness

Revelation 2:10 (New International Version)
Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.

In 1995, Damare was captured by Islamic soldiers when his Sudanese village was attacked. Only 7 at the time, he was sold as a slave to a Muslim family. He became a camel boy even though he knew nothing about caring for them. His master enforced his learning with beatings.

One day a camel got away. The master threatened to kill Damare for this mistake, but something restrained him. The next day when he found out that Damare had sneaked away to attend a Christian church in the village he became determined to punish this boy. The master found a large board, several rusty spikes and a hammer and dragged Damare out to the edge of his compound. He forced Damare's legs over the board and drove the long nails through his knees and feet. Then he turned and walked away, leaving the boy laying in the field screaming from pain.

A man passing that way heard Damare's screams and sneaked into the compound and carried this boy to the local hospital where the nails and board were removed. A year-and-a-half later, Damare and the man who saved him were in a village that came under attack, and they were separated. After the defense forces managed to drive away the Islamic soldiers, Damare was left standing alone. When the commander heard him speak, he realized that he was from the Dinka Tribe and took him back to their camp. After hearing his tragic story he tried to locate some of Damare's relatives. When none could be found, the commander adopted the former camel boy and took him to his home.

Today Damare is 16 and lives in Mario Kong, Sudan. He cannot run fast like the other boys, but he says he has forgiven the man who nailed his legs to the board. He knows that Jesus was nailed to a cross so all our sins could be forgiven

Dear Lord thank You for taking the nails in Your hands and feet so that we may be forgiven. Help us share Your great love today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Forgive or Bitter?

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

Some years ago during a visit to Yellowstone Park one writer observed that the only animal the grizzly bear would share food with was a skunk. It wasn't that the grizzly wanted to share his food but rather that he chose to. With one swing of his powerful paw he could have crushed the skunk. So why did he allow the skunk to eat with him? Because he knew the high cost of getting even.

Clever bear!

Undoubtedly he learned the hard way. Strange that we humans often aren't as smart. Sometimes we carry grudges for years, often repressing them from conscious memory, and end up hurting ourselves more than the ones we would like to get even with. We fail to see how damaging an unforgiving spirit is.

In his book, "None of These Diseases," Dr. S.I. McMillen says, "Medical science recognizes that emotions such as fear, sorrow, envy, resentment and hatred are responsible for the majority of our sicknesses. Estimates vary from 60 to nearly 100 percent."

I read about one patient who was told by his doctor. "If you don't cut out your resentments, I may have to cut out a part of your intestinal tract."

Fortunately the man took the doctor's advice. He had been nursing a bitter grudge against a former business partner. He went to see this man, resolved their difference, and forgave him. When he returned to the doctor, his physical condition had cleared up. Smart man!

The reality is what we fail to forgive keeps us bound to and by the past. Forgiveness sets the hurt person free. That's why Jesus told Peter we need to forgive seventy times seven; that is, to keep on forgiving so we don't become bitter and resentful.

Dear Lord, please help us to forgive all who have ever hurt us as you forgive us for all we have ever done to hurt others. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Forgiving Heart

Matthew 6:14-15 (New International Version)
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

A man awoke out of sound sleep one night, due to a recurring dream. The dream was always the same. He was swimming in a lake, and although a good swimmer, his arms and legs grew increasingly weary, and he feared he might not make it back to shore. Suddenly, as if out of nowhere, an elderly man who looked identical to his deceased father passed by in a rowboat. He stopped, held out his hand, but recalling how poorly his father treated him as a child, he smiled dryly and said," No thank you, Dad. I'll be ok."

The man continued to frantically splash his way back to shore. Looking to the side, he saw yet another form in the distance. It was his daughter, swimming quickly toward him with a life preserver. "Here, dad! Put this on!" Remembering the many times his daughter disobeyed him as a rebellious teen, the man shook his head and waved his daughter on.

Upon finally making it to shore, the man collapsed from exhaustion in the wet sand. Conscious, yet unable to move, the man spied a large group of people around him. All the people looked familiar - faces of the many friends and relations he had come in contact with during his life. They offered to take him to the hospital, to bring him some warm clothes, or towel, but as each person spoke, the man recalled the many times that person did him wrong. "No thank you," he said, "I will be fine." The man stood up, brushed off his sandy, wet clothes, and walked wearily into the sunset.

After the third night of dreaming this same dream, the man sought the opinion of the only person he felt he could trust to not hurt him, his wise, old grandmother.

"What does the dream mean, gram?" He asked. The wrinkled and wise- looking woman sat in silence for several moments, and then finally spoke. "I'm no dream-readin' expert, sonny, but I'd say that someone is trying to tell you that you are holding in a lot of bitterness, due to an unforgiving attitude."

The man pounded his fists on the table in indignation. "Bitter? Unforgiving? That is absurd! I should have known better than come to an uneducated woman like you!"

The old woman sat very still and calmly said, "There is more. I'm guessin' that the struggle you encountered in the water is the same sort of struggle that you often feel inside. You WANT to reach out and take hold of a warm and caring hand, but no hand is good enough for you. You made it to the shore THIS time, but what about next time?" Red-faced and exasperated, the man stormed out of the room muttering to himself.

Forgiveness is not something we do for others; it is something we do for our SELF. Those who do not forgive others, who do not forgive easily, or who forgive on a conditional basis, slowly build up bitterness inside themselves.

Because when we hold in negative feelings, and do not work on finding suitable resolutions, we carry all the hurts, anger, fear and disappointments INSIDE our selves. Like the man in the story, we might THINK we are "OK," even put on a good social front, but the reality of the matter is, when we refuse to forgive and move on to a new day, the negative baggage becomes so much a part of us, that it blurs our vision and causes our perceptions of the world and those around us to be distorted. An unforgiving attitude not only affects one emotionally, but physically and spiritually.

Perhaps the greatest example of the ultimate forgiveness was the Son of God. Jesus Christ was guilty of no crime, nor wrong doing, yet he hung nailed to a cross, for your sins and mine. How easily he could have cursed those who persecuted him, even damned them to Hell, if he desired, yet, putting all pride aside, he uttered these words, "Father, forgive them..."

In the Bible, we are told many times over that if we do not forgive others, God will not forgive us. It is easy to say we forgive, but forgiveness is an ACTION, not just a word. If we truly forgive, then old grudges, bitterness, and resentments are washed away.

You may be happy to know that after some time of solitude, the man in the story went home to his wife, sat her down, and as he held her hands, he promised her that from this day forth, each day would be a new day, and the sun would not again go down on unresolved issues. This same sentiment was carried over each time he saw a friend or relation.

By crying out to God to forgive this man of the wrongs he did in his own life, he was then able to fully understand the beauty and purpose of his forgiving others. If Christ forgives us, then we must also forgive others.

Dear Lord we pray that we would have the heart of forgiveness today. Help us forgive the small things and the big things. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Will You Show Mercy?

Hosea 6:6 (New International Version)
For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.

A few years ago a tragic accident happened on the back roads of a small town. A Christian man, a humble servant of the Lord, a sweet husband to his devoted wife, and a terrific dad to a couple of dynamic tweens, was hit head-on by a drunk driver. He died on impact.

The drunk survived the ordeal and was facing heavy criminal charges. Public opinion was that this guy should rot in prison. No mercy for such an offence!

The mourning family, however, was not a normal, every-day typically common kind of family. They were close to one another through an invincible bound called divine love. They got together and pondered out loud: What would Jesus do in our circumstances?

One thing they knew for certain was that their Master would not linger in self-pity and unforgiveness. They were convinced they had to reach out somehow to the guilty drunkard. Early one morning, the son and daughter of the victimized dad went down to the prison to visit the drunk. To the utter amazement of the guards, although both son and daughter were deep in grief, they hugged the man and forgave him for his actions.

The surprised criminal couldn't stop his emotions from overcoming him. He crumbled to his knees and started to cry. Instead of a fist in his face, which is what he expected and knew he deserved, he received mercy. He received love instead of utter contempt. He received divine grace instead of condemnation.

Surprisingly, both the son and daughter visited that prisoner regularly. They had truly forgiven the one who had killed their dad.

One of God's greatest desires is that we show mercy towards one another. Although important, sacrifices, offerings and going to church are inconsequential if mercy is not part of our lives.

Dear Lord we pray today that we would have a forgiving heart. We pray that like You we would forgive those around us no matter how great the offense. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Have YOU accepted God's pardon?

1 John 1:7 (New International Version)
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

It has been said that during the Civil War, a man was sitting on a park bench in Washington, D.C. He was crying. His son had deserted his post in battle and was to be shot by a firing squad. So the father went to Washington hoping to talk to the President and tell his story and see if the President would intervene. But he couldn't get passed the front gate to the White House. He would go there and be denied access. So he sat crying, fearful about his son's impending death. Hundreds of people pass him, but no one noticed....

Finally, a small boy noticed him and saw him crying. The boy went up to the man and asked him what was going on. The man was barely able to talk, but told him about his son and what was going to happen. The boy was touched. He said, "Follow me." He walked up to the front gate, looked up at the soldiers guarding it and said, "It's okay. He's with me." The gate opened. The boy and the man marched right up to the front door of the White House, opened it and walked in. He knew exactly where the President was. He knocked on the door, and he was told the President was in a meeting with his cabinet members and generals discussing war strategy. But the little boy nudged his way through the room full of people, finally reached the President, and jumped up on his lap. The conversation in the room ceased.

The boy said, "Daddy, I want you to meet a man. He needs your help." The meeting stopped, everyone left the room, and the man was brought into the room so he could tell his story. After hearing the man's plight, Lincoln took out his pen and signed a document. He handed it to the man. And written in bold letters it said:

"Presidential Pardon. Signed, Abraham Lincoln, President of the U.S. "

The man's SON had been pardoned! His tears of sadness became tears of joy. As he was leaving he turned to the President and asked, "Why did you do this for me?"

Lincoln replied, "I did it because my SON took an interest in your situation! "

Due to our sin, YOU and I are much like the young soldier that deserted his post in battle. WE have sinned, and the wages of sin is DEATH (Romans 6:23). Yet, both the Son (as well as the Father) "took an interest in OUR situation." Because of His great love for us, Jesus died on the cross so that WE might receive FULL PARDON for OUR sins (1 Peter 2:24).

And through Jesus, God's only Son, WE too have DIRECT ACCESS to HIGH PLACES because He EVER LIVES to intercede for us at the right hand of God (Romans 8:34-39).God will grant this "DIVINE PARDON" to those who: place their trust in Him (Hebrews 11:6), repent of sin (2 Corinthians 7:9-10), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) for the forgiveness of sin (Acts 2:38). He will CONTINUE TO PARDON those who CONTINUE TO FOLLOW Jesus for the rest of their lives (1 John 1:7)

Have YOU accepted God's pardon?

Dear Lord we thank You for the pardon You have offered to each of us. We pray that we would be the one to share that with others today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

10 Licks

Isaiah 53:5 (New International Version)
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    He was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.

There was a class of young people that no teacher was able to handle. Two or three teachers had been run off from school this year by these young people. Finally a young man out of college heard about the class and applied to the school. The principal asked the young man

"Do you not know what you are asking for, no one has been able to handle these young people, you are just asking for a terrible beating."

After a few moments of silent prayer, the young man looked at the principal and said

"Sir, with your consent I accept the challenge, just give me a trial basis."

The next morning the young man reported for class. He said to the class,

"Young people, I came here today to conduct school, but I realize I can't do it by myself, I must have your help."

One big boy, they called Big Tom, in the back of the room whispered to his buddies,

"I'll not need any help, I can lick that little bird all by myself."

The young teacher told the class if they are to have school, there will have to be some rules to go by. He also added that he will allow the students to make up the rules and he will list them on the blackboard. One young man suggested,


Another one shouted,


Pretty soon they had 10 rules listed on the board. The teacher had then asked the class what the punishment should be for breaking these rules. Rules are no good unless they are enforced. Someone in the class suggested that if the rules were broken, they should receive 10 licks with a rod across their back with their coat off. The teacher thought that was pretty harsh, and asked the class would they stand by this punishment. The class agreed.

Everything went pretty good for two or three days. Finally Big Tom came in one day very upset. He reported that someone had stolen his lunch. After talking with the students they came to the conclusion that Little Jim had stolen Big Tom's lunch. The teacher called Little Jim up to the front of the room and asked him to remove his coat. That little fellow came up the aisle with a great big coat on. Little Jim approached the teacher and said,

"I am guilty and am willing to take my punishment but please don't make me take off my coat."

The teacher reminded Little Jim of the rules and their punishments and asked him again to remove his coat and take his punishment like a man. That little fellow started to unbutton that old coat, and the teacher saw that he did not have a shirt on under the coat. The teacher asked Little Jim why he came to school without a shirt on. Little Jim said,

"My daddy's dead and my mother is very poor, I don't have but one shirt and my mother is washing it today. I wore big brother's coat to keep my little body warm."

That young teacher stood and looked at the frail back and wondered how he could lay a rod on that little back without even a shirt on. He knew if he didn't enforce the punishment, the children would not obey the rules, so as he drew back to strike Little Jim, Big Tom came down the aisle. Big Tom asked,

"Can I take Little Jim's whipping for him?"

The teacher agreed and Big Tom ripped his coat off and stooped over and the teacher began to lay the rod on that big back. But for some strange reason after only five licks, that old rod just broke in half. The young teacher buried his face in his hands and began to sob. He heard a commotion and looked up to find not even one dry eye in the room.

Little Jim had run and grabbed Big Tom around the neck, apologizing to him for stealing his lunch, and explained that he was so very hungry. Little Jim begged Big Tom to forgive him. He told Big Tom that he would love him till the day he died for taking his whipping for him.

Aren't you glad that Jesus took our whipping for us, that He shed his precious blood on Calvary so that we can have eternal life in Glory with Him? We are unworthy of the price He paid for us, but aren't you glad He loves us that much?

Dear Lord we thank You for taking the punishment that we deserved. We pray that as we go through the day we would show that love to those around us. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

When Tragedy Strikes

Luke 13:1-5 (New International Version)
1 Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

To paraphrase a past President, Tuesday, September 11, 2001 will forever go down in history as a day of infamy. I remember watching replays of John F. Kennedy’s funeral. I remember as a young married watching the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. The bombings of embassies, the barracks in the Middle East…I could go on.

As we woke this morning July 20, 2012 we started hearing about the shooting at a crowded midnight screening of the new Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises,” in Aurora, Colorado.  As the story was told on TV so many different emotions flooded my heart and I’m sure yours as well; horror, grief, fear, anxiety, frustration, helplessness, anger…
Why? All day I’ve listened to the commentators, politicians and even friends attempt to give explanation for something that is ultimately unexplainable. Sin and destruction is a part of this sinful world in which we live.

As tragic as this event is – let me share with you something even more tragic. Among those that died this morning –  some of them not only died needlessly, but they will spend an eternity separated from God in a place He calls hell because they senselessly and needlessly failed to repent of their sins and turn to Jesus Christ for forgiveness and leadership in their lives.

To die suddenly, pointlessly, is one thing – but to spend an eternity separated from God because one either did not know or did not care – that’s a tragedy!

Yes, bad, evil things happen in this world. They happen because this world is filled with sin: an attitude that says I will not allow God control of my life: I will live as I please in spite of God’s warnings. We live in a world where evil is rampant – and sin is considered normal and accepted.

When that sin gets out of control we are shocked – but sin is still sin.
Let’s take this as a reminder to always look for ways to share God’s love and His plan of salvation to those around us each day.  Then when tragedy strikes each of us will be prepared to face our Lord and not go into eternity totaly lost.

Dear Lord we pray for the families and friends of those one lost a loved one at the hands of the gun man today. We pray for a peace and a healing for each one. We pray that through this tragedy many will come to know You because if it. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Do Not Forget

Psalm 103:2-5 (New International Version)
2 Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, 5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Leslie H. Sabo Sr. Died in 1977.

He died without knowing the whole story of his son's death. That's not surprising. There were very few people who knew how Army Specialist Leslie Sabo, Jr. Spent his last moments on May 10, 1970.

This is Sabo's story: He was serving with the 101st Airborne Division in Cambodia when his unit was ambushed by a superior North Vietnamese force. Sabo charged one group of soldiers and killed some. Then he turned on another group and made them fall back. It was during that second charge that an enemy grenade landed at his feet. Sabo picked it up and threw it back, and then he used his own body as a shield to protect a wounded friend. Sabo's last charge was against an enemy emplacement. He threw a grenade, which put them out of commission.

That grenade also took Sabo's life.

It was a brave thing that Specialist Sabo did. Too bad his actions were forgotten for over 40 years.

Indeed, it was entirely by accident that a reporter came across Sabo's story, shared it and set the wheels in motion which, on May 16th, granted a posthumous Medal of Honor to the fallen soldier.

You know, it's a sad thing when people forget the sacrifices of those who died to grant them freedom.

It's sad when a nation forgets its soldiers.

It's sad when individuals forget their Savior.

You see, over 2,000 years ago, Jesus of Nazareth led a charge against the forces that had dominated and subjugated this world. It was a one-Man charge: a mission which was sure to end in the death of the Person making it.

Knowing what was demanded, what was necessary if sinners were to be forgiven and the lost were to be saved, Jesus made that charge.

Dear Lord thank You for given up Your life so that we might be forgiven and saved. We pray that we would never forget. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Focusing On Jesus

Hebrews 12:2-3 (New International Version)
2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

A little over a week ago I was in a most vulnerable spot: the dentist chair! Keeping my mouth wide open while one is being tortured isn’t easy, especially when it’s a root canal!  But hey, you can’t really complain about it, especially since you can’t utter a word anyway, with all those hands in your mouth!

Giraffes are vulnerable as well.  Although they have excellent eyesight and can view the surroundings for miles on end, thanks to their height, they have two predators that seem to like the giraffe’s hard flesh: lions and leopards.

These animals are generally no match for giraffes however, as a kick from a giraffe’s leg can literally kill a lion, and a giraffe can run 31-37 mph!  Besides, due to their height, they are difficult to bring down!

There is one spot, however, where they become vulnerable, and it isn’t the dentist chair.  Their teeth are healthier than most of ours!  And this is a place where giraffes have no choice but to frequent often: The water-hole!

As giraffes have to struggle to spread their front legs wide and lower their heads to drink, their focus can no longer be on their surroundings and their numerous dangers.  Giraffes are so conscious of their vulnerability that they will scan their surroundings carefully, but not all dangers are noticeable, especially if a predator is hiding!  But once their heads are down and their front legs spread wide, a lion or leopard can attack them and bring them down with hardly a fight.

No kicking or running is possible, as the wide-spread position locks the giraffe’s front legs into place.  Moreover, putting its head up very quickly will make the giraffe dizzy and fill it with confusion!

How true this is for all of us if we stop focusing on what really matters, we become easy prey for the evil one, and before we know it we are spiritually devoured!

This is why the apostle Paul urges us to: “Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in.
On whom will you focus?

Dear Lord we pray today that we would keep our eyes on You. We pray that we would finish the race before us with You as our focus. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Trinkets or Treasures?

2 Corinthians 4:18 (New International Version)
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Trudi Hall of Baytown, TX, has told of an experience that she and her husband shared on a recent trip:

There was a man that Keith and I met last year on a ship we took from Barcelona, Spain to Galveston, Texas. The ship crew was handing out little “Monopoly” dollars (fake bills from the board game) for every activity one participated in on-board. The “dollars” could then be redeemed in the gift shop for over-priced cheesy trinkets.

While we took every opportunity to go ashore and experience the beauty, history, and culture of Europe, and look up long lost friends along the way, this fellow was like a gerbil on a wheel, running from shuffleboard to ping-pong, collecting his "dollars." He missed out on Alecante, Malaga, the Canary Islands, and the Bahamas, but I'm sure he polished his miniature golf skills along the way.

In the end, we have wonderful memories of our time together, a strengthened relationship, and a bit more understanding of the history of the world.

He has a backpack with the ship's logo on it.

While not all of our opportunities will be as thrilling as our ocean journey, I believe that each one affords us the opportunity to use it for our growth and blessing, or squander it.

The man with the Monopoly dollars is not the only one who gets focused on “trinkets” and misses out on the REAL treasures of life...

The world has NOTHING to offer except trinkets, for the things of this world are only temporary
The REAL treasures of life are spiritual and eternal. These treasures are enjoyed in a right relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Even though we were lost in sin, God sent His Son to die on the cross to pay the price for our sins. Through Him we discover the REAL treasures of forgiveness, hope, and eternal life. These treasures belong only to children of God. When we by faith in His Son, turn from our sins in repentance ,confess Him before me, and are baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of sins, we are “born” into the family of God and become heirs of an eternal inheritance. As long as we remain faithful to our Heavenly Father, He has promised to give us these REAL, SPIRITUAL TREASURES.

Don’t be duped by the cheesy trinkets that the world has to offer. Discover the real, lasting treasures that are found in a saving relationship with God.

Dear Lord we thank You for the things of this world, but we pray that we would not let the trinkets get in the way of You. Help us keep our eyes upon You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Monday, July 16, 2012

What Sign are You Putting Up?

1 Peter 2:11-12 (The Message)
May we be encouragers, always indicating the way to the only true, peaceful Home! "Friends, this world is not your home, so don't make yourselves cozy in it. Don't indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they'll be won over to God's side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives."

Watson Lake, Yukon, renowned for its Sign Post Forest, is nothing but a small village filled with hotels and sign posts.

In 1942, a homesick soldier named Carl K. Lindley of Danville, Illinois decided to erect a sign that pointed the way home. He even indicated the mileage to his hometown. With the possibility of a Japanese invasion in Alaska imminent, he and thousands of other American troops had been working on the construction of the Alaskan Highway, and like all of the other GIs, he was tired and longed to return home.

It didn't take long for his fellow GIs, and later, travelers of the Alaskan Highway, to follow his lead, that one sign had grown to over 75,000. The town now maintains the site, erecting more and more signposts as they are needed.

In 1992 Carl K. Lindley and his wife visited the site, 50 years after the first post was erected They must have been astonished to see how one little sign had grown into an entire forest!

All of us leave signs behind, indicating the way to where our hearts lie. To some, it is to casinos, as indicated on one of the tombstones near where we live. To others, it is to wild parties, and to still others, it is to jobs, as even on holidays their minds are still focused on their work's to-do-lists.

I have to wonder what kinds of signs we, as Christians, leave behind. Do our "signs" always point the way to heaven, where our heart should be? Or have we been distracted from our real purpose in life? "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matt 6:20-21 NIV)

Remember, once we erect our sign, others will follow our lead. Will we be leading people to life? Or will we be leading them to the ensnarement of sin and death? "See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." (Heb 3:12-13 NIV)

It only takes one sign! What kind are you busily putting up?

Dear Lord we pray that the sign we are putting up today would be the sign that leads others to You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.