On Wings Of Eagles

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Saturday, August 31, 2013

A lesson from 2 Nickles and 5 Pennies

Proverbs 3:27-28 (NIV)
27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
    when it is in your power to act.
28 Do not say to your neighbor,
    “Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”—
    when you already have it with you.

In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him. "How much is an ice cream sundae?" "Fifty cents," replied the waitress. The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied a number of coins in it. "How much is a dish of plain ice cream?" he inquired. Some people were now waiting for a table and the waitress was a bit impatient. "Thirty-five cents," she said brusquely. The little boy again counted the coins. "I'll have the plain ice cream," he said. The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and departed. When the waitress came back, she began wiping down the table and then swallowed hard at what she saw. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and five pennies - her tip.

What a great lesson to each of us. Live within our means.  How easy would it have been for our young little friend to get a sundae? But instead he thought about what he had and got the ice cream so he could leave a thank you for his waitress.

Dear Lord, we pray that we would make it our goal today to not spend more than we have or above our means. Help us to use what You give us wisely. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Would You Take an Egg to Share the Gospel?

Psalm 27:14 (NIV)
 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.

To tell you the truth, it's hard to find someone who likes to wait, especially in a world where the word "hectic" has begun to quantify the norm. Instant gratification has made the word "wait" a word of the past, which truly isn't in our best interest!

Impatience is one of our worst enemies. It has caused many blunders and heartaches, as well as much loneliness. Impatience is a sign that we want to be in control, and things aren't happening the way we want them to. But maybe, just maybe, this world is not about us, but about others as well!

May we all learn to wait on the Lord. There is beauty in waiting, especially if our heart is right. Waiting on the Lord is a sign that we trust God and that we have confidence that He will come through for us in the best possible way. It isn't about just fulfilling our wants and desires!

Christians at the University of Auckland aren't always well-liked. Witnessing is usually received with as much enthusiasm as a cold shower. "We live in a modern world man. Wake up!" I wonder, however, just who it is who needs to wake up!

These Christians aren't easily discouraged. They know they can rely on God, and thus, they waited for His guidance. And their wait was rewarded. Easter 2012 was going to be their opportunity to make a difference. A way-outside-the-box idea sprang out during prayer: Let's have an "egg a Christian" celebration for Easter! That would sure attract a crowd on campus!

And attract a crowd it did, for even the media broadcasted this special event. There was one tiny catch, though. Anyone who wished to throw an egg at a Christian would have to be willing to listen to that Christian explain the meaning of Easter and Christ's resurrection. All of it free of charge. One egg per person. Thus the "eggs" of Easter became an opportunity for them to share the real meaning behind Easter: Having an intimate relationship with God!

Patience produces results that will last for eternity!

Are you willing to be egged? Let us take a stand for our Lord today. Pray today how you can share His great love with the world around you.

Dear Lord, we pray that we would be willing to have an egg thrown at us. We pray that our eyes would be open to the new ways we can reach the world for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Wax Dummy vs New Creation

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

When the Chinese dictator Mao Zedong died in 1976, his physician, Dr. Li Zhisui, was given an impossible task. The Politburo demanded, "The chairman's body is to be permanently preserved." The staff objected. The doctor objected. He had seen the dry and shrunken remains of Lenin and Stalin. He knew a body with no life was doomed to rot.

But he had his commands. Twenty-two liters of formaldehyde were pumped into the body. The result was horrifying. Mao's face swelled up like a ball, and his neck was as thick as his head. His ears stuck out in right angles, and the chemical oozed from his pores. A team of embalmers worked for five hours with towels and cotton balls to force the liquids down into his body. Finally the face looked normal, but the chest was so swollen that his jacket had to be slit in the back and his body covered with the red Communist Party flag.

That sufficed for the funeral, but the powers above wanted the body permanently preserved to lie in state at Tiananmen Square. For a year Dr. Zhisui supervised a team working in an underground hospital as they tried to preserve the remains. Because of the futility of the task, a government official ordered that an identical wax dummy be made. Both the body and the replica were taken to the mausoleum in Tiananmen Square. Tens of thousands came to file past a crystal casket and pay their respects to the man who'd ruled China for twenty-seven years. But even the doctor didn't know if they were seeing Mao or a waxwork dummy...

"Though we were spiritually dead because of the things we did against God, he gave us new life with Christ" (Eph 2:5). God's solution is not to preserve the dead-but to raise the dead.  "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone; the new has come! (2 Cor 5:17 NIV)

As Christians when we die we don’t have to worry about being a wax dummy because He will make us new. As Paul tells us we have become a new creation: the old has gone away.

Dear Lord, we thank You that we don’t have to worry about our old body because You will give us a new creation. Help us share that great news with someone today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Like Father Like Son

Ephesians 5:1-2 (NIV)
1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children  2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

I have a good friend who is really into golf. She not only plays golf but also works for the golf channel and works man of the tournaments.  So when I came across this story I had to share it. The story is of PGA player Phil Mickelson. During an interview with late-night talk-show host Conan O'Brien, Phil was asked what he would do to celebrate winning the Masters. Would he be drinking a lot? Mickelson said, "I'll spend time with my family. I don't need alcohol to help me have a good time."

Mickelson is known as Lefty because ...well, because he plays golf left-handed. But did you know that Lefty serves tennis balls right-handed? He writes right-handed. He holds a fork with his right hand. In fact, the only thing Lefty grabs with his left hand first is a golf club. The reason is most interesting. When he was one and a half years old, Phil learned the game by standing across from his father and watching him swing. His father plays right-handed. Mickelson simply mirrored his father's swing.

In Ephesians 5 we are told to do exactly that. "Be imitators of God.. . As dearly loved children." Or as The Message puts it, "Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents."

Dear Lord, we pray that we would be imitators of You. Help us read Your word so we will know what it is You would have us to do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Lesson From a Car Model

Romans 1:1-6 (NIV)
1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— 2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake. 6 And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

When growing up I remember going to the toy store and picking out a model to make. Then we would get home and my brothers and I would work on our individual models hoping to have it look like something when we were done.

I'm sure technology has dampened the model car industry, but it was once a booming business that interested millions of young boys. Putting model cars together required patience, time and the ability to understand complicated instructions. Having some mechanical knowledge about cars also helped. Super glue had been invented but wasn't sold commercially like at present. Model car glue was required, and it took hours to dry. Many of the parts were small, making it difficult to fit them in the correct places. They took a lot of patients and mechanically ability.

As model cars were small replicas of the actual things, Paul was a spiritual model to believers in Thessalonica and they became models for others. As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ (I Thessalonians 1:3).

Believers have the exciting privilege of being L. J.'s (little Jesus'). Our lives can be constructed as closely to his as humanly possible. Attitudes, motives, words and thoughts should be glued together carefully with attributes that reflect our Heavenly Father. Satan wants us act like L. D.'s (little Devil's), and only God can provide the wisdom and power we need to say and do the right thing on a regular basis.

Faithful work in God's big mechanic shop and loving those we work on helps us build models that will transport God's love throughout the world. Let God make you a model for others.

Dear Lord, help us to model Your love before others. Help them see Your love in all that we do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Who Are You Imitating?

1 Corinthians 11:1 (NIV)
Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

A new missionary recruit went to Venezuela for the first time. He was struggling with the language and didn't understand a whole lot of what was going on. Intending to visit one of the local churches, he got lost, but eventually got back on track and found the place. Having arrived late, the church was already packed. The only pew with a seat open was the one on the front row.

So as not to make a fool of himself, this recruit decided to pick someone out of the crowd to imitate. He chose to follow the man sitting next to him on the front pew. As they sang, the missionary tried to follow along. When the man stood up to pray, the missionary recruit stood up too. When the man sat down, he sat down. When the man took the cup and bread for the Lord's Supper, he took the cup and bread. During the preaching, the recruit didn't understand a thing. He just sat there and tried to look just like that man in the front pew.

Then he perceived that the preacher was giving announcements. People clapped, so he looked to see if the man was clapping. He was, and so the recruit clapped too. Then the preacher said some words that he didn't understand and he saw the man next to him stand up. So he stood up too. Suddenly a hush fell over the entire congregation. A few people gasped. He looked around and saw that nobody else was standing, so he sat down. After the service ended, the preacher stood at the door shaking the hands of those who were leaving. When the missionary recruit stretched out his hand to greet the preacher, the preacher said, in English: "I take it you don't speak Spanish."

The missionary recruit replied: "No I don't. Is it that obvious?" "Well yes," said the preacher, "I announced that the Acosta family had a newborn baby boy and would the proud father please stand up." There is nothing wrong with imitating godly men and women, but we need to be careful who we imitate, and to what extent. Even the apostle Paul was careful to limit those who sought to follow him:

"Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ." (1 Cor. 11:1).

Follow the example of those you know who are living godly lives, but be sure to keep one eye on Christ as the ultimate standard. Otherwise, you may find yourself standing when you ought to be sitting!

Dear Lord, help us imitate you today. We pray that our live would be worthy of those around us imitating. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Are you a Living Message?

1 John 3:18 (NIV)
Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

Vincent Van Gogh was not always an artist. In fact, he wanted to be a church pastor and was even sent to the Belgian mining community of Borinage in 1879. He discovered that the miners there endured deplorable working conditions and poverty-level wages. Their families were malnourished and struggled simply to survive. He felt concerned that the small stipend he received from the church allowed him a moderate life style, which, in contrast to the poor, seemed unfair.

One cold February evening, while he watched the miners trudging home, he spotted an old man staggering toward him across the fields, wrapped in a burlap sack for warmth. Van Gogh immediately laid his own clothing out on the bed, set aside enough for one change, and determined to give the rest away. He gave the old man a suit of clothes and he gave his overcoat to a pregnant woman whose husband had been killed in a mining accident. He lived on starvation rations and spent his stipend on food for the miners. When children in one family contracted typhoid fever, though feverish himself, he packed up his bed and took it to them.

A prosperous family in the community offered him free room and board. But Van Gogh declined the offer, stating that it was the final temptation he must reject if he was to faithfully serve his community of poor miners. He believed that if he wanted them to trust him, he must become one of them. And if they were to learn of the love of God through him, he must love them enough to share with them.

He was acutely aware of a wide chasm, which can separate words and actions. He knew that people's lives often speak louder and clearer than their words. Maybe it was that same knowledge that led Francis of Assisi to frequently remind his monks, "Wherever you go, preach. Use words if necessary."

Today, others will be "listening" carefully to your actions. Do your actions bring others to Christ?

Dear Lord, we pray today that everything we do will be the words that those around us need to bring them to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Do Others See Jesus in You?

Isaiah 64:8 (NIV)
Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
    We are the clay, you are the potter;
    we are all the work of your hand.

Joe was a drunk, miraculously converted in a street outreach mission. Before his conversion he'd gained a reputation as a derelict and dirty wino for whom there was no hope. But following his conversion to Christ, everything changed. Joe became the most caring person at the mission. He spent his days there, doing whatever needed to be done. There was never anything he was asked to do that he considered beneath him. Whether it was cleaning up vomit left by some sick alcoholic, or scrubbing toilets after men had left them filthy, Joe did it all with a heart of gratitude. He could be counted on to feed any man who wandered in off the streets, undress and tuck him into bed, when he was too out-of-it to take care of himself.

One evening, after the mission director delivered his evangelistic message to the usual crowd of sullen men with drooped heads, one of them looked up, came down to the altar and kneeled to pray, crying out for God to help him change. The repentant drunk kept shouting, "Oh God, make me like Joe! Make me like Joe! Make me like Joe!"

The director leaned over and said, "Son, wouldn't it be better if you prayed 'make me like Jesus?'"

After thinking about it for a few moments, the man looked up with an inquisitive expression and asked, "Is He like Joe?"'

Are you letting Jesus mold you like the clay to be what He wants you to be? Do others see Jesus in you?

Dear Lord, we pray that others will see You in us. Help us become so much like You that they only see You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Greatest of These is Love times 28

1 Corinthians 13 (NIV)
1 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

I am stunned and amazed and can't believe that it was twenty-eight years ago, that I said, "I do" and received the precious gift of a good and faithful wife.  Everyone who knows Becky knows she is a special person, very special. We absolutely are nuts for each other. It's a mutual admiration society that we each belong to. I'm her number one fan, and she is mine. We just really enjoy being together.

A few things 28 years bring:

Places called home: The trails at Wymore, Cherokee Ct, Pratt Rd, Turrel Ave, Green Velvet Ct and Victor Dr.

Dogs that wagged their tales into our live: Meagan, Pumpkin, Bubbles, Perdita, Pongo, Sparky, Diamond and Dakota.

Not to mention:
Bunnies that hopped: Travis, Peter, Thumper, Snickers, Spike, Spike Junior, Sidney, Speckles.  

Cat that loved: Stripy  

Turtles that moved their home into ours:  Timothy, 2nd Timothy, 3rd Timothy, 4th Timothy and Methuselah

Thanks for indulging me as I looked back and realize how deeply this day, and this woman, means to me. Rejoice with me and pray for us, as we pray for each of you.

Dear Lord, we thank You for being the author of love. We pray today that we would let Your love continue to grow in our hearts today so that the world will see You through us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Copy That

Ephesians 5:1-2 (NIV)
1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

A true story points to a universal truth about human beings: we learn best by imitation. President Calvin Coolidge once invited friends from his hometown to dine with him at the White House.

Unsure of their table manners, the guests decided to imitate the president. They watched closely to see which utensils he used, what foods he ate and when.

Their strategy seemed to succeed until coffee was served. Coolidge poured some coffee into his saucer. They did the same. He added sugar and cream. His guests did, too. Then the president bent over and put his saucer on the floor for the cat!

Like Coolidge's hometown guests, we, too, seem to learn best by imitation. Kids learn by observing parents when they are young, and by copying their peers as they grow older. They learn by observing television and movie characters as readily as the lives of actual people. Adults learn best by modeling a personality trait or skill in another which they want to adopt.

Perhaps you want to develop better social skills. Or maybe you want to learn how to organize, how to sell a product or relate to a child. Just about any trait or skill can be learned: find it in someone and copy it. Better yet find it in God’s word and copy that. And the best part is -- you can do it today!

Dear Lord, we pray that to today we would be imitators of Your word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Bald Head

Proverbs 22:6 (NIV)
Start children off on the way they should go,
    and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

The story is told about a bald man and his wife who, when they went out to a special dinner, left their children at home with a babysitter. However, the babysitter got interested in a TV program and neglected to carefully watch the children. Unfortunately, the young son got a hold of his father's electric shaver and shaved off a wide strip of hair right down the middle of his head.

When the parents arrived home, father was furious. In no uncertain terms he reminded the son that he had been told NEVER to touch dad's shaver.

He was just about to give his son a spanking when the son said, "Wait until you see sister!" Oops! he had shaved off all her hair!

Dad was really furious now and as he grabbed a hold of his son to give him a spanking of his life, the son said, "But Daddy! We were just wanting to look like you!"

As it has been said so well, "We raise not the children we want, but the children that we the parents are!"

A vital part of my own growth was when I came to the realization that in many ways I was just like my own father -- with many of his good and bad characteristics. It was easy to accept the good, but very shocking to see and admit that I, too, had some of the qualities that I did not like in him.

It is a reality of life that children, more often than not, copy and do what we parents model -- not what we tell them they should do and be.

Dear Lord, please help us to be more and more like Jesus so that our children, seeing you in use, will also want you in them.  In Jesus' name. Amen.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Blessed are Those Who Care

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

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!

"Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." (1 Cor 13:6-7 NIV)

Interestingly that among the signs of times in Matthew 24, "love growing cold" and "wars and rumors of wars" seem to go hand in hand.

"You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come." (Matt 24:6 NIV)

"Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold…" (Matt 24:12 NIV)

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.

Maybe if we take the time and effort to forgive those around us and shower them with love, just maybe, they would come around. We might even be surprised by their many hidden qualities! Maybe they took a wrong turn somewhere in life, but they too, are a child of God. Our accusations won't help them to find their way to Jesus. Only peace and love will do that.

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?

Remember Samantha Reed Smith. We can learn a lot from children!

Dear Lord, help us be filled with Your love. Help us look past the faults of others and see the positive in them and be the one that would build them up. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.  

Monday, August 19, 2013

Putting Your Trust in the Master Healer

Luke 7:21 (NIV)
At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind.

Dan needed a new heart. The one he had was worn out, but he died before receiving it. Frank only needed a new valve. He got it, and the operation was successful. But the recovery wasn't. He contracted Mercer and died in the hospital.

Fred was dying from a life threatening disease. I prayed with him, he asked Jesus to forgive his sins, but it didn't keep him alive. John was succumbing to the effects of old age. Mark was a dialysis patient tired of the weekly trips. He decided not to go anymore and ten days later took his final breaths.

Jairus' daughter was dying. He did the only thing he knew to do. Then a leader of the local synagogue…arrived. When he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet, pleading fervently with him. "My little daughter is dying," he said (Mark 5:22-23 NLT).

Facing illnesses involves realizing they respect no one. Jairus' important position didn't prevent sickness in his family. Nor does obeying God wart off infection, disease or death, but trusting God is essential when all three assault us. Jesus advised Jairus not to fear but to trust instead. Fear and faith are strange bedfellows, and too much of either will shove the other onto the floor.

When enduring sickness, it's also important to realize ultimate healing is eternal not temporal. Jairus' daughter died before Jesus healed her. Though Jesus restored her temporally, she had experienced the complete healing of death. All sickness and disease will be forever mended in heaven. Learn to trust the master healer when you're facing sickness.

Dear Lord, we thank You for the power and peace that You give each of us.  Help us to trust You to care for our bodies and to deliver us from illness now and in eternity. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Amassing Distracts us From God!

Hebrews 10:34 (NIV)
You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.

Who do we know who would be happy to accept the "confiscation" of his "property"? How would we react if that happened to us? Wouldn't we complain bitterly? Wouldn't we go out and hire the best lawyer on the continent? After all, what we are talking about here are our precious belongings, the things we have worked hard to accumulate over the years.

Sadly, though, once we pass from this earthly existence, many of these precious belongings aren't considered that precious any longer, and many end up in a yard sale or in the junk yard.

Why are we so fixated on these then?

Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer was just 27 years old when many churches in Germany embraced the rise of Nazism and created the Deutsche Christen group ("German Christians"), which would become the voice of Nazi ideology. Non-Aryans, a term that refers to those who are non-Jewish Caucasians, especially of Nordic descent, were banned from the pulpit, and Jews were no longer allowed in Christian churches, even if they had been baptized. Many advocated to even remove the Old Testament from the Bible!

What would we do if that happened in our day and age? Would we stand up for the truth? Or would we shake our heads in silence?

Dietrich could not stand the hypocrisy and he decided to do something about it. He firmly believed that if non-Aryans were banned from the ministry, then all ministers should resign in solidarity. His beliefs were received with a deaf ear, and so in May 1934, the anti-Nazi Confessing church, a church that was to remain free of Nazi influence, was established. A year later an underground seminary was established for Non-Aryans to obtain their theology degree. Jews, as well as other Non-Aryans, deserved to be treated like anyone else!

On April 5, 1943, 3 months after Dietrich had become engaged to Maria von Wedemeyer, he was arrested and taken to the Tegel prison. His property was confiscated, and he gladly gave it up, as he too knew that he "had better and lasting possessions".

On April 9, 1945, one month before Germany would surrender to the Allies, Dietrich was hanged at Flossenburg. His last words reverberated in the minds of the soldiers attending his execution: "This is the end - for me the beginning of life."

Dietrich didn't put his possessions on a golden pedestal, nor did he consider his life as all-important. He knew where he was heading and that was the most important thing of all.

In his book "The Cost of Discipleship", first published in 1937, Dietrich clearly indicated that the only purpose for earthly belongings was to be used. The goal was not to be accumulated. This reminds us of the manna provisions in the wilderness. Manna kept overnight went bad. Accumulated possessions become a barrier between God and ourselves, as our trust is not secured on the Eternal one, but in our earthly treasures. Dietrich's conclusion was this: Amassing distracts us from God!

This should make us think: Do we truly find solace in our possessions, or do they more often than not become an irritation at times?

Dear Lord, we pray that our focus would be on the things of You and not on how many things we can collect or own. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Lesson From My Shop With Nails and Breaking a Habit

Ephesians 4:22-24 (NIV)
22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

With some woodworking lessons comes some real life lessons Desiderius Erasmus has said, "A nail is driven out by another nail. Habit is overcome by habit." We should not simply resist "bad habits," we would do better to create good ones.

A teacher who was lecturing on habits told his class that "anything you repeat twenty times is yours forever." From the back of the classroom came a whispered voice, "Mandy. Mandy. Mandy. Mandy..."

What the teacher was trying to say is that any behavior, often repeated, becomes habit. And any habit often repeated, becomes stronger and more powerful. Which is why Dr. E. Stanley Jones was so wise in admonishing us, "Since habits become power, make them work for you and not against you." In other words, drive out the undesirable nail with a good one.

One woman did just that after lamenting to her friend, "I hate being late. It has been a problem for me all of my life."

"Do you really want to change that habit?" her friend asked.

The woman said that she did and her friend responded, "All right. Every time you are late for work or anywhere else, you must give me $25."

"I would go broke!" came the reply. "But I will do $10."

It has to be a large enough amount of money for it to hurt," said the friend.

"Believe me, that will hurt," the woman replied. They agreed that the money should be deposited in a jar and used for charity.

In the first week the habitually tardy woman only paid $10 to her friend. The next week, $20. The third week none at all. By the fifth week she had built a new habit that changed an irritating pattern which had hindered her all her life. She drove out one nail with another one, and in doing so she found freedom.

Behaviors, as well as attitudes, often repeated, become strong habits. And great freedom is found in replacing that unwanted way of acting or thinking with one you choose. Today why not start that habit of reading your Bible each day? By doing so we will see what great things God has in store for each of us.

Dear Lord, we pray that we would take a look at our life and replace the bad habits with things that are good and fruitful. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Are You Using the Gifts God Has Given You?

2 Thessalonians 3:6 (NIV) 
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us.

For centuries, the Roman aqueduct in Segovia, Spain stood as a supreme monument to civil engineering. Spanning a bowl-shaped valley, the two-tiered, bridge-like structure stretches more than half a mile and tops 95 feet at its highest point. Its massive gray columns, like the legs of a giant elephant, dominate the quiet neighborhoods that flank it.

Assembled without mortar sometime during the first century after Christ, the aqueduct carried river water to the town without interruption until 1972, when engineers rechanneled the supply entirely though underground conduits. Unamuno, the Spanish philosopher, wrote about the aqueduct: "For eighteen hundred years, it carried cool water from the mountains to the hot and thirsty city. Nearly sixty generations of men drank from its flow.

Then came another generation, a recent one, who said: 'This aqueduct is so great a marvel that it ought to be preserved for our children, as a museum piece. We shall relieve it of its centuries-long labor.' They did; they laid modern iron pipes. They gave the ancient stones a reverent rest. And the aqueduct began to fall apart. Air pollution began to corrode away at the newly exposed granite stones. What ages of service could not destroy idleness disintegrated."

If we do not exercise the gifts the Lord has given us, they will erode because of idleness. Are you using the gifts God has given you?

Dear Lord, thank You for the gifts You have given to each of us. We pray that we would use them to bring honor to You and Your work. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Thursday, August 15, 2013


Matthew 26:25 (NIV)
Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?” Jesus answered, “You have said so.”

At Harvard University there was a very learned professor of zoology by the name of Agassiz.

He was so wise that one year his students went to special pains to try and put one over on their prof. Oh so carefully they took parts from a number of different bugs and with great skill attached those parts together to make a strange creation they were sure would baffle their teacher.

On the chosen day they brought the bug to him and asked him to identify it. Professor Agassiz inspected the specimen with great care. The longer the time passed, the more certain the students grew that they had managed to trick the school's resident genius.

Finally, Professor Agassiz straightened up and said, "Gentlemen, I have managed to identify your bug."

Scarcely able to control their amusement, the pranksters asked its name.

Agassiz replied, "It is a humbug."

The last supper Jesus shared with His disciples should have been a time to give last-minute advice and to reminisce about the "good old days." For Jesus part of the meal's harmony was marred by the hidden, upcoming betrayal of Judas.

When Jesus tried to call the traitor back from his soon-to-be-committed crime, Judas decided to try a bluff by echoing the question of the other disciples. "Is it I?" It was a mistake. As God's Son, Jesus knew everything about that plot. Like Professor Agassiz in our story, Jesus knew a humbug when He saw one.

Jesus isn't playing games, and He identified the traitor who promptly fled the fellowship.

It's sad so many people follow in Judas' footsteps.

They live their lives acting as if God does not know what is happening and what they're doing. They believe if they can fool their friends, they can also fool the Lord. All of us should know that none of our secrets can be hidden from God. Just as Jesus knew the sin of His disciple, He knows ours.

In short, like Judas, we are all humbugs and pretenders, filled with cloaked transgressions. But there is a difference. Because of Jesus, the Lamb of God, our sins -- no matter how hidden -- are forgiven, and we remain loved.

Dear Lord, how often have we, like Judas, played the role of a hypocrite. I give thanks You know a humbug when You see one. Change us so we are not like Judas pretending to be something we are not. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Falling Short of the Mark

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

Many times we think we have figured out the things that are troubling us, only to discover how wrong we are.

Faith puts its trust, not in us, but in the One whose comprehension is far above ours!

Take for example that poor paralytic. He had tried in vain to understand his situation, but instead of worrying about the "why"s, he decided to put his trust on the One who really could make a difference in his life: "Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, 'Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.'" (Matt 9:2 NIV)

Interestingly, this paralytic had a bigger need than healing itself, and Jesus saw directly through him and forgave his sins.

Notice that the paralytic didn't turn back to Jesus and cry: "No, no. You have it wrong! I want to be healed!" He simply accepted Jesus' forgiveness. And while caring for his primary need, Jesus also took care of his secondary one. Truly healing and forgiveness go hand in hand.

Too often we approach God with the wrong request. Just like that young man who once uttered that petition: "Lord, if I was rich, I could really make a difference in this world. Imagine all the people I could help." Truly, this was not his deepest need.

Much bigger needs, such as a hunger for God, for acceptance, for forgiveness, lurk in the deepest recesses of our hearts. If we don't address these, we will easily fall short of the mark and discontentment will continue to hold us in its grasp.

I have met so many people who wish they could change their past. They realize how they have hurt others, even their loved ones, through their actions. If only they could take this away! They hunger for forgiveness, but they receive indifference instead, and indifference is far worse than anger.

But if we hunger to be forgiven, others must be hungering for our forgiveness as well! They, too, have made wrong choices, and if we could walk in their shoes for even one minute, we wouldn't be able to keep ourselves from forgiving them. They need love and acceptance just like we do!

"Forgive as the Lord forgave you." (Col 3:13 NIV)

We do indeed have a deep longing to be forgiven by others, as well as by God. But let's remember that forgiveness is a matter of faith: We either accept God at His word or we don't.

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9 NIV)

Our God is faithful and just and will indeed forgive our trespasses. But we need to believe that what He has promised us is really true.

Forgiving others is also a matter of faith, that can only be done through Jesus Himself, who died in agony on a rugged cross, so that we could experience forgiveness (See John 15:13)!

Dear Lord, we thank You for forgiving us. We thank You for being faithful even when we don’t deserve it. We are grateful Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Circumstances are Nothing but Opportunities

Luke 6:20 (NIV)
Looking at his disciples, he said: Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

The monks of Diksmijde, Belgium were well known in their region. When one passed away, you would expect that there would be sadness. The beggars of the region, however, would rejoice at such occasions, because for the next thirty days, the deceased’s meal would be given to them!

Those of us who live in countries where abundance is the norm have a hard time realizing just what those who truly have nothing must face every day. When adversity hits, we tend to seclude ourselves from others, and we are inclined to abandon reaching out to others through the ministry God has bestowed upon us. When we hurt, we can’t deal with others who are hurting!

Those who truly have nothing, however, including those who are spiritually poor, tend to have an attitude of dependency and expectation. They do not have a backup plan. They can only rely completely on God!

"But as for me, I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God. You are my help and my deliverer; LORD, do not delay." (Psalms 70:5, NIV2)

As a result, they are geared to experience God fully, to enjoy His presence in the midst of their trials.

What does one do when cancer has invaded the body? Most tend to become depressed, even fearful. Someone I know, however, faced this ailment with anticipation, for she knew God would be there for her. Her doctor advised her to cut down in her responsibilities, and especially her ministry. It’s quite human to conclude that ministering to others is less important than taking care of ourselves!

She did cut down on her responsibilities, but she clung to ministry, for this was one thing she was doing for God, the One who was sustaining her. Instead of terror, she faced peace during her “ordeal”, and she experienced God more vividly than ever before in her life. He is, after all, her Best Friend.

May we all live expectantly. When we do, we will experience God more fully in our lives.

Circumstances are nothing but opportunities to see Him at work. May we live the way Jesus instructed His disciples to live: With the attitude of expecting the impossible, the attitude that we see among those who truly have nothing. And may we never forget to help those in need, no matter how dire our situation.

Dear Lord, we pray that we would use the circumstances that come our way as a chance to completely trust in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Are You Connected to The Umbilical Cord?

Isaiah 40:31 (NIV)
but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

The other weekend I went to Daytona Beach for a meeting. While there I enjoyed people para-sailing.  The para-sail was connected by an extreme extra-long cord, to a motor boat. The speed of the boat kept it up in the air, guiding it through the wide open space of the sky.

As I watched I was amazed as the people were actually flying without the aid of a motor, and had effortlessly reached the heights of the sky. And as long as they stayed connected to the speed boat via the umbilical-looking attachment, they would never fall.

It is this that reminded me of a passage in the Bible: "Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (Is 40:31 NIV)

Just like these people, we, as Christians, can soar way up high, just like eagles! But we, too, have to rely on an "umbilical" cord that attaches us to our Maker and Savior. This "umbilical" cord is called trust.

But trust doesn't come too easily, especially nowadays.

To trust completely we have to set aside our pride, as well as all of our petty preoccupations. We have to put our entire focus on the person we trust. Only then can we soar way up to heights we would never have imagined. Gone are the addictions. Gone are the worries. Gone is any selfishness and unforgiveness.

"Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matt 6:33-34 NIV)

This is where most of us go wrong. We are so attracted by our own obsessions that we never find the time to start trusting anyone, much less the one many sadly call the "Man upstairs". And that's where we continue to live a mundane life with all its whistles called addictions attached to it.

We all fall short of the assured promise: "All these things will be given to you as well."

It seems to be human nature that as soon as we are experiencing any kind of soaring in the heights of the sky, we immediately take out our pocket knife and severe the cord that keeps us in the air. "We can do it by ourselves" we claim, only to discover over and over again that it is not so, after we crash.

If we only took the time, we might realize one day that "soaring like eagles" is truly a reality for those who set aside their pride. "God can do anything, you know - far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us." (Eph 3:20 The Message)

We can fly like eagles, but only if we truly stay connected to God in all humility with the "umbilical" cord called total trust.

We have a lot to thank our Heavenly Father for. Not only is He our Creator and our Savior, not only has He sent us numerous love letters through His Word, not only has He provided a guide to help us through the chaos of this world, He has made it possible for us to fly above all the mediocrity of this life.

Dear Lord, Thank You for being there to lead and guide us. Thank You for being the umbilical cord that gives us life. Help us not do things that would separate us from You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.