On Wings Of Eagles

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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Wealth and Power vs Relationship

Ecclesiastes 2:26 (NIV)
To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

Prior to his death from cancer at age 40 in March 1991, Republican campaign manager Lee Atwater was one of the most admired and hated men in American politics. His greatest accomplishment was guiding Vice President George Bush to a comeback victory over Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis in 1988. Bush's comeback was partially the result of Atwater's skillful use of "attack" television commercials directed at Dukakis' record as governor of Massachusetts.

But soon after his cancer was detected in the summer of 1990, Lee became a Christian. He said: "I've found Jesus Christ - It's that simple. He's made a difference, and I'm glad I've found Him while there's still time." Atwater spent much of his remaining life publicly apologizing for his attacks.

Reflecting on the past, Atwater said: "The eighties were about acquiring: wealth, power, and prestige. I know. I acquired more wealth and power and prestige than most. But you can acquire all you want and still feel empty." He continued: "It took a deadly illness to put me eye to eye with that truth, but it is a truth that the country, caught up in its ruthless ambitions and moral decay, can learn on my dime."

Wealth and power disappear quickly. But our relationship with the Lord lasts throughout eternity.

Dear Lord, we want to give our selfish ambition over to You. Help us seek to know You more intimately each and every day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Friday, January 30, 2015

What is on your scale?

Philippians 3:7-8 (NIV)
7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.

I read a story of a missionary family in China who was forced to leave the country sometime after the communists took over.

One day a band of soldiers knocked on the door and told this missionary, his wife, and children that they had two hours to pack up before these troops would escort them to the train station. They would be permitted to take with them only two hundred pounds of stuff.

Thus began two hours of family wrangling and bickering -- what should they take? What about this vase? It's a family heirloom, so we've got to take the vase. Well, maybe so, but this typewriter is brand new and we're not about to leave that behind. What about some books? Got to take a few of them along. On and on it went, putting stuff on the bathroom scale and taking it off until finally they had a pile of possessions that totaled two hundred pounds on the dot.

At the appointed hour, the soldiers returned. "Are you ready?" They asked. "Yes." "Did you weigh your stuff?" "Yes, we did." "Two hundred pounds?" "Yes, two hundred pounds on the dot." "Did you weigh the kids?" "Um, . . . No." "Weigh the kids!"

And in an instant the vase, the typewriter, and the books all became trash. Trash! None of it meant anything compared to the surpassing value of the children.

If only it were that easy for us. If we had to make a physical choice, the choice would be easy. What's worth more -- your child or a computer? If you could only take one with you, which would it be? That's easy; it's a no-brainer. But seldom does the choice come wrapped in such easy-to-open paper.

Too often, it sounds more like this: What's more important -- spending time with your family or staying at work a couple of extra hours to get caught up? "Don't ask me to make that choice! My family is important to me. It's just that I really need to get this done! After all, I'm only doing it for provide for them." Still, there are times when the question won't go away: Which is more important?

And there are times when we are forced to admit that we've been gathering hundreds of pounds of "trash" while neglecting that which is of greatest importance.

What is on your scale?

Dear Lord, we pray that we would have our priorities right. We pray for wisdom to make the right decision about the use of our time. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Celebrating my 53 Birthday

Ron Sr and Ron Jr
Philippians 3:13 (NIV)
 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.

Another rotation around the Sun.

As I get older, I am beginning to notice all of the things everyone warned me about.  Like crow’s feet, grey hair, creaky bones, and a spare tire….

As I was reading some random facts I got an answer to why I feel tired so much of the time. You may be interested in this fact also. The Earth travels around the Sun each year 584,020,178 miles. That’s a lot of traveling! It gets even more obvious why I am so tired when you multiply that by the number of trips I have taken around the Sun, 53 times. That comes out to 30,160,000,000 miles. Now it starts to make since why I am so tired.

So, although I am not so excited about my body getting older, I DO WANT my spirit to mature… I want to grow in my relationship with the Lord.  I want to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a (woman), I put childish ways behind me.  Now we see but a poor 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.-1Corinthians 13:11-12
I don’t want to stay the same!  I want God to continue to grow me and change me and mold me.  I don’t want to make the same mistakes year after year, but I want to learn from them and overcome them.  I know God is doing a new thing in me each year.  I don’t want to look over my shoulder, lamenting about the past and the mistakes I’ve made.  Instead, I want to look forward to what God is doing in me and through me TODAY.  This year, I want to take the wisdom God has given me and make the right choices.  I want to put away my “childish” ways, my immature, selfish ways.

Forgetting what is behind and straining what is ahead, I press on toward the goal…

Dear Lord, thank You for creating me and blessing me with an incredible life with a wonderful wife and amazing kids.  I am blessed beyond measure!  Thank You, God for birthdays.  I pray that this year I continue to grow and mature spiritually.  I do not want to be the same this time next year.  I give this year to You.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Will You let God lead you outside of the box?

Joshua 1:9 (NIV)
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

One of the great preachers in U.S. history is D. L. Moody. He pastored in Chicago. Mr. Moody was a successful minister, but by his own admission, he lacked the power in his ministry. One day two women came up to him after a service. They said, "We have been praying for you."

"Why don't you pray for the people?" he asked.

"Because you need the power of the Spirit," they said.

"I need the power! Why?" said Mr. Moody

Years later he writes, "I thought I had power. I had the largest congregation in Chicago, and there were many conversions."

Moody said he was satisfied. He was in a comfort zone. But these two praying women rocked the boat. They told him that they were praying for an anointing by the Holy Spirit. Mr. Moody could not get this off his mind, "There came a great hunger in my soul. I did not know what it was and I began to cry out to God as never before."

Rev. Moody began crying out for God. He withdrew and prayed. “One day God revealed Himself to me, and I had such an experience of His love.  I went to preaching again. The sermons were not different; I did not present any new truths, and yet hundreds were converted because I let God lead me where I was not comfortable.”

Will You let God lead you outside of the box?

Dear Lord, help us call upon Your powerful name for the strength to go outside the box and find new ways to serve You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Who Are You Trying to Please?

Galatians 1:10 (NIV)
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

An old fable that has been passed down for generations tells about an elderly man who was traveling with a boy and a donkey. As they walked through a village, the man was leading the donkey and the boy was walking behind. The townspeople said the old man was a fool for not riding, so to please them he climbed up on the animal's back.

When they came to the next village, the people said the old man was cruel to let the child walk while he enjoyed the ride. So, to please them, he got off and set the boy on the animal's back and continued on his way.

In the third village, people accused the child of being lazy for making the old man walk, and the suggestion was made that they both ride. So the man climbed on and they set off again.

In the fourth village, the townspeople were indignant at the cruelty to the donkey because he was made to carry two people. The frustrated man was last seen carrying the donkey down the road.

You can't please everyone! And can be very frustrating to even try to do so because it's physically impossible. The truth of the matter is, even if we could please everyone, we shouldn't. In fact, trying to please others can distract from the One we should be pleasing, if we're not careful.

Though Paul was certainly mindful of the feelings of others, he wrote:

"Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ."

Do you find that everyone isn't pleased with your decisions?  The good news is as long as you're seeking to please God that is what really matters!

Dear Lord, help us make decision that bring honor to You. Help us not be swayed by those around us and trying to please everyone. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Be Who God Made You.

Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

There once was a cat named Missy. One day another animal made a comment about the way Missy licked her paw. "You know Missy, you really do that all wrong!" I mean, who do you think you are anyway? The proper way to do that is front to back, not side to side."

"Who says so?" Asked Missy, "I have never heard there is a right way or wrong way about it."

"Well, there is we all do it front to back. That has always been the way here. We would all prefer you to be like us, and do it our way."

Missy was quite taken back by this. She did not know exactly how to answer or handle the situation, so she just stopped grooming and walked away. She wanted to ask someone if that was true, but she was too afraid. She was afraid others would look down on her, or not like her, if she was different from them. She decided the best answer was to try to change and become more like the other animals. For the next few weeks, she carefully studied, all the animals, and how they groomed themselves. She took notes and watched for every little lick and move they made. Then she would go off alone, and practice, being like them. She was sure if she could master the way they did it, that it would make her fully acceptable to them, and a real; part of the family. As weeks went by, she would be in the yard, cleaning and grooming herself as the others did. Always being sure to use their techniques, and moves. One of those days, one of the animals in the yard noticed Missy was acting quite different. Curious as to why she was not acting like her normal self, he approached her to ask.

"Missy, I noticed you are cleaning and grooming yourself in a very different way from normal. Why are you doing that?"

"I have decided to be like everyone else!" She replied, "I want them to like me, and not look at me like I am some sort of outcast."

"Why would you do that?" he asked. "You are just fine as you are."

"No. I am not." Replied Missy. "They have told me I do it all wrong, and need to do it like they do."

"Who told you that Missy?" He Asked. Missy turned her head. She did not want to be a tattletale on anyone.

"Missy, I asked you, who told you that?" He Repeated. "I will not say you told me, I just want to know. As your protector and teacher, it is important I know who is teaching you things I would not."

"Friskey told me I did it all wrong." Said Missy; "He told me I was not acting like the others. I want to be accepted here, and if that means I have to change the way I do and say things I will. I don't want the others to not like me because I am different." Missy began to cry. He gently put his paw around her and sat with her for a few moments. He held his head low, and patted her gently to let her know he under stood. Finally Missy stopped crying, and looked at him.

"What am I to do? I want so badly to do what is right by you and Farmer, but also be accepted by the other animals."

"I know you do Missy. I heard you weep, and felt your pain. I have also known rejection for being me."

"You have?" Sobbed Missy.

"Oh yes, I have," "I have often been misunderstood and rejected because of the way I have to do things around here. Many times, I have to hear from others, how they feel it should have been done. Nevertheless, ultimately, I have to be true to myself, and to what the Farmer has asked me to do. You see Missy; each one of us is different. We are all uniquely made, and wonderful in our differences. That is the way God made us to be. You cannot, and should not, try to be something or someone other than you. To do that is not really flattery to the other person, but rejection of who God made you to be. He loves you as you are. It does not matter if you are right or wrong to anyone else. This is the way He made you to be. Think how boring life would be if everyone acted and spoke the same? Would that not make for a very boring life?"

Missy shook her head in agreement.

"Yes it would, but what do I say when the others tell me to do it their way?"

"You simply tell them, in love, that God likes you exactly this way that He made you. Then tell them, if God wants to make any changes, He has your permission to do so. For now, however, you are who you are, and that is it. Take it or leave it, you are right where you are supposed to be right now." Missy smiled, and went back to the yard. There, she began to clean and groom herself as she had always done in the past. Smiling to herself, knowing that God loves her right where she is. She knows God will not leave her this way, and is willing to let Him change her. Nevertheless, for now, she is who she is, and God loves her. That is enough for Missy.

Dear Lord, Thank You for making us just like we are. Help us not try and change our self just to get others to like us or except us. In Jesus’ Name. Amen. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Is All You See a Black Dot?

1 John 4:8 (NIV)
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

The teacher held up a blank sheet of paper and asked, "What do you see?"

All the hands in her class went up. One reasonably bright child said, "I see a piece of paper." So far, so good. Then the teacher took a pencil and made a tiny dot in the center of the sheet of paper. Holding it up again she asked, "And what do you see now?" Without waiting to be called on, the same student, completely confident of giving the right answer, yelled out, "I see a dot!"

"Really?" Asked the teacher. Then she explained. "Imagine the blank piece of paper is a person. Now imagine this small dot is his biggest sin. When you looked at the paper with the dot on it, what did you see? You said, 'I see a dot.' That one dot overshadowed all the white still left on the paper. Is that what you do when you look at people? Do you only see their faults?"

I wonder if the kids picked up on that lesson.
There are times when that is exactly what we do.

We have all met some truly excellent people in this life, but all we sometimes have seen were their faults. Those faults made us lose track of the person.

That's sad for them; it's sadder for us.

As we read through Scripture, we can notice the Lord doesn't do that.

No, He doesn't ignore our "dots," that is, our sins. How could He? There were so many sinful dots on our souls the paper itself was black. Even so, the Father sent His Son into this world to erase those sins and make our souls white as, well, white as paper. God saw our sins, but He didn't let those sins overshadow His love for us.

He sees us clearly, and because of what Jesus has done for us with His life, death, and resurrection, the Father now sees us as forgiven, clean, white, and free from sin.

It's a different point of view -- one that all of us would do well to embrace when we look at others.

Dear Lord, thank You for erasing our flaws and making us a forgiven sinner, washed clean by Your blood.  Help us to love others, and not write them off as unacceptable and unusable. In Jesus’  Name. Amen.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

How do we walk our streets?

1 John 3:17 (NIV)
If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?

The streets of Nairobi are filled with homeless children, wandering aimlessly about, begging to survive. And the most disturbing fact is that their numbers are increasing at an alarming rate!

Since the dawn of urbanization, children who once were valued as signs of prosperity, now find themselves mistreated and rejected. Many run away from homes where even their most basic needs are not being met. Parents just can't afford them anymore, and days without food are hard on these youngsters! There are also many homeless children who have been orphaned by HIV, and still others are born out of wedlock and abandoned, due to cultural stigma.

Many of these street dwellers eventually join the ranks of criminals as drug dealers, purse snatchers and pick-pocketers. Others turn to a life of begging, depending upon the mercy of those who have a bit more money. Girls aren't better off. Many end up in street prostitution, selling themselves as cheap as Ksh 30 or 0.40 US$.

All of these kids are desperate and all they worry about is survival. Who will feed them if no one cares for them? Who will clothe them, when everyone sees them as a nuisance? At least they have a place to sleep: the street! And if they are lucky, they can use cardboard as their shelter at night.

But there was one person who wanted to make a difference. Maria Githua walked these streets as well, but with a different purpose in mind: How could she help these poor kids?

She started small by renting a home in a well-to-do neighborhood. She filled the rooms with bunk beds and invited in as many kids as could fit in her house. One day the government decided to close the doors of the orphanage. As the officials were nearing her house, neighbors quickly laid themselves on the street, preventing them from even reaching the house.

Eventually, Maria took a step out in faith and purchased some land. A dorm was build, then two, and Christ Our Refuge Children's Home was birthed.

More and more children have accepted Maria's offer and have moved from the slums to luxury. They didn't need to worry about food with Maria. Nor about comfortable bedding or shelter either. She is preparing these children to become responsible citizens, the future hope of the people of Kenya. The monetary needs are huge, but praise be to God, they are always provided for.

Maria's motto is simple and clear; "That no child shall sleep in the streets of Nairobi, no child shall sleep hungry, lonely and rejected and that all the children rescued shall know of Jesus' love for them. That the children shall know we are Christians because of our love."

Do you walk your streets with God's perspective in mind?

Dear Lord, open our eyes as we walk the streets around our home. Help us see the ways that we can show Your love to those that are there. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Friday, January 23, 2015

A Lesson From Bobo

Psalm 23:4 (NIV)
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

Bobo is a cuddly-looking donkey whose main job is to guard sheep. He was standing near a flock of sheep, which were grazing contentedly at an outdoor hay feeder. Bobo looked quite placid and harmless. By looking at him you wouldn’t think that Bobo would attack a wolf or coyote. But apparently, he can run down any canine, bite it, kick it, pound it, and chase it off. When Bobo is near the sheep, predators stay away!

Bobo's owner, Mrs. J, has noticed that the sheep thrive better when he is nearby; they are relaxed and calm. But when Bobo is gone, they get edgy; they won't eat or rest. Then, when he joins them again, you can immediately see their bodies relax.

Bobo and his sheep remind us of the twenty-third psalm. The psalmist, David, compares himself to a sheep who feels safe and secure. He knows that his mighty Guardian is nearby; so he has no reason to fear deprivation, evil, or even death. Interestingly, those are among the most common sources of fear and anxiety still today.

Of course Bobo can't provide everything a sheep needs. But for David, God could indeed meet all his needs. David wrote, "I lack nothing." (v.1) He also wrote, "My cup overflows." (v.5)

The "cup" here refers to the sum total of one's lot in life. For each of us, that cup is half-empty and half-full. What matters is the half through which we see life. Those who see from the empty half will brew over what they lack or what might run out. Their conversation suggests that they always feel shortchanged. They live in a constant state of anxiety, distrust, and discontent. Like the sheep without Bobo, they are edgy. They cannot enjoy the present because they are resentful of the past and worried about the future. Being in the empty half of the cup, they cannot see the amazing depth of the full half.

Then, there are those who dwell in the full half, and we can tell. They can enjoy the present. Their eyes are fixed on the qualities of life that never run out -- but rather grow richer -- like goodness and love. These people are content, forgiving, and generous. The more blessing they give away, the more they receive. We enjoy their company and feel renewed by them. That would describe David.

David was convinced that no matter what happened, God was nearby to protect and provide abundantly. With God, life would never become empty and meaningless: God would always give him direction ("He guides me along the right paths" - v.3). For David, life would always overflow with divine blessing. David lived in the full half of the cup and was confident that goodness and love would remain with him forever -- even into eternity.

That portrays a trusting faith in God.

Dear Lord, help us learn to trust You so that we can see life as an overflowing cup -- and discover the delightful abundance in Your presence, protection, provision, and purpose. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Are You Looking For Loopholes?

Matthew 16:12 (NIV)
Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

We have three big dogs in our house, actually two big dogs and a puppy that promises to be bigger than the other two. With that as a motivation I check my chicken coop very carefully for any loops in the fencing or holes which one of the chickens could get out or the dogs find a way in. Which could spell disaster.  Even though the dogs can’t find a loop hole to get in they keep trying.

People also look for loopholes. They seek to discover ways to get out of paying those parking tickets, or taking the blame, or evading taxes. It seems to simply be a natural phenomenon among human beings which does not exclude Christians.

We live in a spiritual generation who love the saying: really, it's all just a matter of interpretation after all, there are no absolutes everything is relative. Too often Scripture is being twisted and turned by those seeking to discover loopholes which allow them to do what they want to do rather than what Scripture makes very clear, God would have us do. By doing so we are seeking to develop a god of our own understanding instead of a true understanding of God. A phenomenon that is breaking churches apart and driving wedges between denominations.

I think as God's people it would be better for us to do as the disciples did before Pentecost: to gather together in one place and spend much time in prayer until the Holy Spirit came upon them. Instead of distancing ourselves from one another perhaps we need to choose to come together in humility and prayer and to stay together until the Spirit leads us back into a true understanding of God and the plan He has for His Church.

Dear Lord, draw us together as your people. Bless us with your spirit of humility and grace so we can realize the plan you have for your Church that shows your love to the world around us. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Difference of Opinions

James 5:16 (NIV)
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

You’re armed and dangerous - sharp knife, chopping board and the most important ingredient…a cool ripe apple! You let the knife slice either side of this huge fruit, whilst the mind and mouth are beginning to salivate. You wipe the dribble from the corner of your mouth. Some quick cross cuts and the delectable morsel is ready for consumption.

Upon picking up one side you settle into the pure bliss of eating for several minutes as juice begins to run out the corners of your mouth and down your arms. You’re almost in heaven!

I read about an opposing opinions concerning apples. A lady grew up on an apple orchard in Michigan. As a child she spent many hours outside, playing under cool shady coverage of the apple trees. During apple season the rotting fruit lay strewn across the lawn, and she was given the daily task of picking up the dropped and spoiled fruit! To her she had no appeal for the apple that I enjoyed so much.

Her hatred she had for this luscious produce was because of her previous experience.

How many times have you thought yourself totally correct, and then, through listening to someone else’s viewpoint, discovered a completely different stance? You've received a revelation?

Our verse today offers some wise instruction to balance your opinion against others…

Dear Lord, help us listen to others and have a balanced opinion about things that confront us each day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Are You Following the Crowd?

John 10:10 (NIV)
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

It was Sunday, August 23, 2009. A fierce Hurricane, Hurricane Bill, pounded the coast of Mount Desert Island, in the state of Maine. Despite the inclement conditions, tourists came in droves to hear the resounding BOOMS that reverberated from Thunder Hole.

Thunder Cove is a small cove, naturally carved out of rock. At the end of this cove, down at the low tide mark, a small cavern can be found. When waves rush it, the air and water in the cavern are forced out with a loud BOOM, sounding much like the peal of distant thunder. Given the correct weather conditions, the water can spout up from the cavern, sometimes reaching a height of 40 feet.

And Hurricane Bill brought together just the correct conditions for the loudest booms and the highest spouts of water.

Warning signs were posted everywhere, counseling tourists to stay away from Thunder Hole in these conditions. Not everyone was inclined to listen to these warnings however, and many tourists could be found at the lower end of the lookout where you could best see and hear the water clapping through the cavern. And with so many people already down there, it only encouraged more tourists to ignore the warnings. After all, how could all of those people be wrong?

That is what a certain father with his two girls thought. Until he and his two girls were swept over the rail, that is, out into the stormy Atlantic Ocean.

In the icy water, the father and the girls battled for their lives. They were eventually rescued by the courageous Coast Guard, however the seven-year old later died from the trauma.

If only they hadn't followed the crowd!

There is one whose specializes in lies. He carves his lies so cleverly around half-truths that many fall prey to his insinuations. Sadly, most of the world believes his lies rather than the One who is called "the truth"!

We cannot flirt with lies without being contaminated by them. It will change our perspective on life, and it will lead us to live a life grounded on untruth.

We either stand on the truth, or we let ourselves be swept away by deception.

Dear Lord, help us stand firm on the truth and not be swept away by the lies of the world. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Are You seeing Things Upside Down?

2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV)
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.

I heard recently about a women who went into an auto parts store. She asked for a seven-ten cap.

The employees all looked at each other and say, "What's a seven-ten cap?"

She says, "You know, it's right on the engine. Mine got lost somehow and I need a new one."

"What kind of a car is it on," they ask. Perhaps it was an old Datsun 710 but no, she says, "It's a Buick."

"OK, lady, how big is it?"

She makes a circle with her hands about 3 1/2 inches in diameter.

"What does it do?" They ask.

She says, "I don't know, but its always been there."

One of the employees gives her a note pad and asks her if she can draw a picture of it. So she makes a circle about 3 1/2 inches in diameter and in the center she writes 710.

The guys behind the counter are looking at it upside down as she writes it...and they just fall down behind the counter because they are laughing so hard.

One guy finally says, "I think you want an oil cap."

She says, "Seven-ten cap, oil cap, I don't care what you call it, I just need one, and I don't see what is so funny about it."

(by the way, in case you haven't figured it out by now, the word "OIL" upside down looks like "710")

Perspective makes all the difference. Things look differently when we look at them upside down.

The world looks at material things and calls them "items of great value." It looks at sin and immorality and calls it "good and right." It looks at lies and calls them "truth." It can be very confusing unless we realize the need to turn things around and look at them from an eternal perspective.

If things in your life "don't look quite right," perhaps you've been looking at things upside-down and you need to allow God to help you to turn things around.

Dear Lord, help us look at the things of this world through Your eyes. Help us not look at things upside down. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Are You Noticing God's Beauty?

Deuteronomy 11:7 (NIV)
But it was your own eyes that saw all these great things the Lord has done.

As I read about the Grand Canyon I love to imagine what it would be like to fly over it. I read one person’s description that went like this.  As you descend from the clouds above, you begin to see an amazing terrain below. A landscape filled with countless mountains raised high above the valleys, presenting a canvas of true majesty and magnificence. What a sight to behold! That the Creator, who blueprinted the perfection and splendor that had been carved out by His mighty hand.

Do we take the time to notice the amazing things God has made for us to enjoy? Sometimes we don’t take the time.

Sadly, we are blinded to the most amazing, yet simplest truths of life. Truth of how much He loves and delights in us. How He is all sufficient for our needs and how He calls each of us to come and know Him personally. But, thankfully, by His grace, when our eyes are open, we can see all things with a brand new view!

The day our hearts change and God reveals the fullness of His grace, we begin to see everything with a fresh new look. As God clears the clutter of sin out of our hearts, it is replaced with a new ability to love more, to be filled with great compassion and to extend forgiveness to those that hurt us. Words cannot express the gratitude we have for God's plan for our lives. We just accept, embrace and receive it.

Dear Lord, we pray that You will open our eyes to see more than what's in front of us, so we may share Your handy work with those around us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

A Hunk of Rock and a Chisel.

John 1:42 (NIV)
 And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).

I read a story about a man who had a huge boulder in his front yard. He grew weary of this big, unattractive stone in the center of his lawn, so he decided to take advantage of it and turn it into an object of art. He went to work on it with hammer and chisel, and chipped away at the huge boulder until it became a beautiful stone elephant. When he finished, it was gorgeous, breath-taking.

A neighbor asked, "How did you ever carve such a marvelous likeness of an elephant?"

The man answered, "I just chipped away everything that didn't look like an elephant!"

You may have heard a version of this story that uses the name of Michelangelo as the man who is doing the sculpting (sometimes the story gives his explanation of how the statue of David was created, other times the statue of Moses).

But the story also illustrates how God creates men in His likeness. He starts with nothing much more than a boulder, but like a great artist, he sees the potential for what lies within and chips away until we are shaped in His image.

Look at how Jesus dealt with men like Peter. Who would have looked at Peter -- the loud mouth who was always saying things he would later regret -- and seen the disciple he would become? Who would have looked at James and John -- nicknamed "Sons of Thunder" because of their temper -- and considered them to be ideal candidates? But Jesus had a way of looking into the hearts of men and women, seeing not only what they were, but what they had the potential to become. Then he set about the task of "chipping away" to uncover the beauty that lay beneath the surface.

Wouldn't it be great it we could learn to look at those around us the same way -- to see not only what they are, but to see what they can become? If we would only do that, perhaps instead of seeing people as "worthless boulders", we would set about the task of chipping away to reveal their full potential.

Dear Lord, open our eyes so that we may see the potential in those around us instead of the hunk of rock. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Our Present Challenge is Not the End of the Road.

2 Corinthians 4:17 (NIV)
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

On the Allied forces landed in Normandy the coastline of France.

It remains to this day, the largest amphibious operation in history.

It was a strategic assault geared towards liberating continental Europe from the claws of Nazi Germany.

The US Army forcefully landed on the beach under heavy German firepower; the casualties were enormous.

One soldier looking around him reported to the military high command that an Allied defeat was inevitable.

A reconnaissance aircraft flying high above the war zone scanned the entire horizon. He saw the massive Allies’ reinforcement

In the sea, the diminishing German military capabilities and the fragmented Nazi supply lines due to Allied air superiority.

He smiled and reported to the high command that the Allies will carry the day.

The US soldier is like most of us. We tend to be overwhelmed by adversity that we do not see the vastness of God’s extravagance around us.

We are beclouded by the immediate and fading pain of our circumstances that we do not see the ultimate and growing gain of God’s promises.

But if we take our position in the heavenly places and see things from God’s perspective, our conclusion and response would be productive.

Whatever our tribulation might be at this moment, it is working out for our good in ways we do not know. We only need to look up to God for fresh insight by studying the Bible. Our present challenge is not the end of the road; the final outcome has been irrevocably predetermined by God in His word and this can NOT be changed.

Dear Lord, thank You for always being there.  Thank You that even through the hard times we can know You are there with us leading us and guiding us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.  

Thursday, January 15, 2015

More Valuable Then the Birds.

Matthew 6:26 (NIV)
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

Look at the birds??? What can birds possibly teach us that we don't already know???

Maybe more than you realize. Take a gull for example. Have you noticed that they not only soar high up in the sky to look for food, but they also never seem to lose sleep over when the next morsel will show up? They have utter confidence that no matter what, they will always have shelter, food and love, even in the midst of a gigantic winter storm! Is it possible that their ability to fly so high permits them to look at our world from God's perspective? Is it possible that they realize that any concerns they may be facing look rather insignificant from up there?

But wait a minute! We've all see those same gulls fighting over food!

These are the gulls that have become dependent upon humans for their food. Strangely enough, these gulls mimic human behaviour to a "T"! "It's mine!" "No, it's mine! Get out of here!" Interestingly, these are also the gulls that never seem to be satisfied and will spend most of their days waiting for some human to come by and give them food. And these are also the ones that are so easily disappointed that they become aggressive!

The gulls that function in the way God designed them to function, however, live worry-free lives. They enjoy true living! No wonder Jesus shared with us their secret: "Look at the bird, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God." They are worry-free because they leave themselves "in the care of God!" (Matt. 6:26a).

Jesus' next line is the one that is so vital to us: "And you count far more to him than birds." (Matt. 6:26b).

Only when we fully realize the truth behind this statement will we finally enjoy real, care-free living! Friends, we have nothing to be anxious about, for we "count far more to Him than birds!" He will take care of us!

Dear Lord, we thank You that You take care of us in all things. Help us not fall into the trap of fear but instead fully trust You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Is Your Defeat Blocking the Bigger Picture?

Philippians 1:12 (NIV)
Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.

Leith Anderson, a minister, shared this experience: As a boy, he grew up outside of New York City and was an avid fan of the old Brooklyn Dodgers. One day his father took him to a World Series game between the Dodgers and the Yankees. He was so excited, and he just knew the Dodgers would trounce the Yankees. Unfortunately, the Dodgers never got on base, and his excitement was shattered.

Years later, he was engrossed in a conversation with a man who was a walking sports almanac. Leith told him about the first major league game he attended and added, "It was such a disappointment. I was a Dodger fan and the Dodgers never got on base." The man said, "You were there? You were at the game when Don Larsen pitched the first perfect game in all of World Series history?"

Leith replied, ''Yeah, but uh, we lost." He then realized that he had been so caught up in his team's defeat that he missed out on the fact that he was a witness to a far greater page of history.

How often does the same thing happens to us. We get so caught up in the "defeats" in our lives; the times when things don't turn out the way we want them to. So we're depressed because an illness continues to linger, or when people don't treat us the way we think they ought to, or when we face financial difficulties.

But we are often so blinded by the pain and disappointment of our "defeat" that we fail to appreciate the fact that we might be witness to something far greater that God is doing in our lives.

Remember when Paul was in prison? He wrote to the Philippian Christians, "But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel." (Phil. 1:12)

While most of us would have focused on the "defeat" (being in prison even though he was innocent), Paul was able to see what God was doing in his life. It's not an easy thing to do. It's never easy to view things from a heavenly perspective rather than an earthly one, but it is especially difficult in the midst of pain and defeat. But it is learning how to have a heavenly view that helps us to know joy no matter what happens in our lives.

What are you missing today?

Dear Lord, help us not focus on the defeats in life that may hide the great things that are happening around us. Keep our eyes open to the blessing You have for us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.  

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

What Do You Do if You Get Throwed?

Psalm 28:7 (NIV)
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
    my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
    and with my song I praise him.

It is well said: "Strength and courage aren't always measured in medals and victories. They are measured in the struggles we overcome. The strongest people aren't always the people who win, but the people who don't give up when they lose."

A story is told that Andrew Jackson's boyhood friends just couldn't understand how he became a famous general and then the President of the United States. They knew of others who had greater talent but who never succeeded. One of Jackson's friends commented, "Why, Jim Brown, who lived right down the pike from Jackson, was not only smarter but he could throw Andy three times out of four in a wrestling match. But look where Andy is now."

Another friend responded, "How did there happen to be a fourth time? Didn't they usually say three times and out?"

"Sure, they were supposed to, but not Andy. He would never admit he was beat -- he would never stay 'throwed.' Jim Brown would get tired, and on the fourth try Andrew Jackson would throw him and be the winner."

Andrew Jackson just wouldn't stay 'throwed'! And that determination served him well for many years.

Life will knock us off our feet again and again. You've been there and so have I. But some people just won't stay 'throwed.' They get up again, dust themselves off and go for it one more time. These are people of courage. They are also people of faith and hope.

Maybe you have been knocked off your feet. Will you stay 'throwed,' or will you rise and give it your best one more time?

Dear Lord, give us the strength and ambition to keep trying even when we fail. Thank You for the strength that You give us if we only ask. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Are You Prepared?

James 5:7 (NIV)
Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains.

My wife and I were out enjoying a visit with our chickens the other day and I mentioned I was ready to start getting the garden ready.  We have had a garden the last couple of years.  We know we have to wait for the warm temperatures of spring to make their arrival, before we plunge our hands into the dirt. Plants grow and seeds sprout. Waiting, however, is the part of gardening I don't enjoy. Corn kernels may germinate and raise their heads in March, but it's June before I gnaw on a succulent ear of corn. And tomatoes, peppers, beans, and cucumbers take about the same length of time to produce.

Psychologists refer to such a waiting process as delayed gratification. Initial effort is made, but the reward for the effort hangs in the future. The same applies to Christ's return.

When Christ didn't return quickly enough, first century believers were tempted to give up their faith altogether or either return to the religion of the Jews and term him a fraud. Two thousand years later, we might be tempted with the same, but we must delay gratification just as they did. God's timetable is different. With him, one day is as a thousand years. He can distinguish the voices of a million people praying simultaneously. What appears as an extremely long period to me may only be a second in his time.

Christ's coming will occur just as my garden produced at a certain time. Only the Father knows the day, but when the time is right, he will instruct his Son to get his children and bring the current world order to an end.

How or when end time events will unfold isn't the most important aspect. More crucial is our readiness to meet him. By accepting his forgiveness, living obediently to his commands, and aiding in the expansion of his Kingdom, we can be ready.

Are you prepared?

Dear Lord, help us be patient and serve you daily with eagerness and readiness for Your return. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.