On Wings Of Eagles

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Sunday, May 31, 2015


Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

Jules Verne's novel The Mysterious Island, he tells of five men who escape a Civil War prison camp by hijacking a hot air balloon.

As they rise into the air, they realize the wind is carrying them over the ocean. Watching their homeland disappear on the horizon, they wonder how much longer the balloon can stay aloft. As the hours pass and the surface of the ocean draws closer, the men decide they must cast overboard some of the weight, for they had no way to heat the air in the balloon. Shoes, overcoats, and weapons are reluctantly discarded, and the uncomfortable aviators feel their balloon rise. But only temporarily.

Soon they find themselves dangerously close to the waves again, so they toss their food. Better to be high and hungry than drown on a full belly! Unfortunately, this, too, is only a temporary solution, and the craft again threatens to lower the men into the sea. One man has an idea: they can tie the ropes that hold the passenger car and sit on those ropes. Then they can cut away the basket beneath them. As they sever the very thing they had been standing on, it drops into the ocean, and the balloon rises.

Not a minute too soon, they spot land. Eager to stand on terra firma again, the five jump into the water and swim to the island. They live, spared because they were able to discern the difference between what really was needed and what was not. The "necessities" they once thought they couldn't live without were the very weights that almost cost them their lives.

Every day and in every way, keep Jesus Christ first in your life. He is the Savior of your soul!

Dear Lord, thank the You that You are all that we need throughout eternity. Help is not get wrapped up with all the things that aren’t important. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

How come?

Ephesians 5:14-17 (NIV)
14 This is why it is said:
“Wake up, sleeper,
    rise from the dead,
    and Christ will shine on you.”
15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 
16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 
17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

How come we are so quick to forward emails defaming presidential candidates, but we are so indifferent towards the plight of the oppressed?

How come we complain so much about gas prices, but ignore the fact that so many homeless live in the streets of our city?

How come we blow up when we don't receive a pay raise, but we forget about those who don't even have enough money for one meal a day?

How come we become outraged when taxes increase, but close our ears towards the cries of our persecuted brothers and sisters?

Have we forgotten our priorities?

Have we forgotten how Jesus urges us to love one another? (See John 13:34-35)

It is only by loving others that we will we be able to reach out to them. Indifference and selfishness close the doors of opportunity, while love, when propelled by God's Spirit, opens the gates of Heaven!

One man left His entire realm behind. He forsook His fortune. He relinquished His position. He said goodbye to His family and friends. He fixed His focus on the oppressed and the abandoned as well as the homeless and the widowed. "I have come to set you free" became his motto. "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." (Luke 4:18-19 NIV) Our salvation was at the core of His heart. Our eternity was His purpose. He died a cruel death to pay the price which would set us free, if only we accept His offer.

Have we forgotten to walk in His footsteps? Has His interest really become our main focus in life? Have we let His love truly invade our soul? Are we fighting for the plight of the underprivileged? Are we broadcasting the freedom obtained by our Lord and Master?

Or do we prefer to sit comfortably in front of our media center, echoing the complaints of this world?

Is it possible that we may be serving a different master? Do we truthfully believe in the message of hope proclaimed in the gospel?

Let's not lose sight of who we are in Christ. Let's not lose sight of the One we are supposed to be following.

Dear Lord, help us to remember our priorities when facing the things of this world. Help us look to You for the wisdom for how we should respond. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Do you spend to much time on Worthless Pursuits?

Psalm 119:37 (NIV)
Turn my eyes away from worthless things;
    preserve my life according to your word.

Fort William Henry. It looked so strong, so unbreakable, so meant to protect the Permaquid region and survive for eternity.

But then that's also what they thought when they built the former fort, Fort Charles, and it had been destroyed by a joint coalition between the French and the Indians, just a few years earlier …

But this new fort was different. It had taken two thirds of the budget of the colony of Massachusetts to build. It would most certainly last!

However when attacked four years later by the same culprits, it was discovered that this seemingly strong fort had an Achilles' heel. The mortar used to build the strong stone walls was of poor quality (Even in those days they took shortcuts!) And it could not withstand the bomb attacks. It also didn't help that the garrisons' water supply lay outside the fort. A mere oversight, perhaps, but between the two, it cost them their fort. Once again the English had to abandon Permaquid.

One thing about the British, they don't get discouraged easily! In 1729 they built yet another fort to protect the Permaquid area. They called it Fort Frederick, and this one lasted until 1769, when the fort was deemed useless, due to the construction of Fort Pownall further east of Permaquid, and to the fall of Quebec. Abandoned, Fort Frederick fell into disarray, and was eventually torn down in 1775 by the local inhabitants. Their reason? Being on the eve of the commencement of the Revolutionary War in the United States, they wanted to discourage the British from ever occupying it again!

It is mentioned nowhere in the tourist guides or on the Internet. What seemed so important to the past wasn't deemed really worthwhile after all!

As you think about that, ask yourself: How much time do we waste on "worthless" pursuits? Should our to-do lists really be our priority in life? Do we even remember what we accomplished two days ago? We rush back and forth at dizzying speeds, but what do we have left to commemorate it all when the rush is over and we try to survive our retirement years on meager provisions?

And what about our worship? Is it exempt from worthless priorities?

"If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (James 1:26-27 NIV)

Just attending church won't cut it. Just giving our tithes and offerings won't get us to the mark. Self-centered religion is worthless when the needs of God's children are being ignored. How many of the things we hold so dearly are not everlasting! "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices - mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law - justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former." Matt 23:23

Is our service at work worthwhile to others? If we are just working for the money, it won't be: "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men…" Col 3:23

What about love? Do we love our spouses the way Jesus tells us to? Do we put his or her needs first? And what about our kids? Do we even try to understand them?

It all comes down to this: "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Col 3:17

The same is true with our worship towards God. If it is self-seeking, it's worthless. If it is a means to reach heaven, we've missed the mark.

So many of the things we do, think or admire are truly worthless! So many of these things won't make it to eternity! What are we truly holding on to? Is there anything in the bunch that is worthy of eternity? Which will be lasting? Which will evaporate to nothingness?

One thing is certain; love is the foundation to eternity. This one is truly worthy of our full attention! "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:34-35

Dear Lord, we pray today that the things we do will be for the right reason of honoring You and spreading Your love to those You bring into our life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Do you suffer from prayer knees?

James 5:15 (NIV)
And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.

I have heard the cell phone called the "Swiss Army knife of technology."

Mainly because it can do a little bit of everything. It can give you directions, show you the weather, send pictures, take video and, well, a little bit of everything.

Oh, one other thing, they can also be addictive.

Case in point: physicians are seeing people come in with some interesting cell phone-related maladies. Some doctors have seen dedicated smartphone use leading to repetitive stress injuries. Do you like to text? If you do too much texting, your thumb's tendons can constrict and you can end up with the injury called "texting thumb."

Recently, a California man, a fellow who is dedicated to the game Candy Crush Saga, after more than six weeks of constant playing, actually managed to rupture a tendon in his hand. You've got to love a game a lot to create that kind of injury.

Let us look at a biblical individual: James the Just.

This James was the brother of our Lord, an early convert to the faith, a leader of the early church, and one of the first martyrs for the faith. James should be known and respected for all of those qualities ... and for one more.

The ancient church historian, Eusebius tells us, "(St. James) was in the habit of entering alone into the temple, and was frequently found upon his knees begging forgiveness for the people, so that his knees became hard like those of a camel ...."

James' knees were callused because he spent so much time kneeling in prayer.

Now, I just checked I don't have the condition I've called, "prayer knees." You probably don't either, which, I guess is a sign of where we're putting our priorities, isn't it? It's a sad thing that so many of us feel naked if we don't have our cell phones, but most of us don't feel the least bit strange when we forget to pray.

Maybe we need an adjustment in attitude. We have a Savior who gave His life for our forgiveness and salvation. For His gracious act we need to "thank and praise, serve and obey Him."

It’s time to get down on our knees in faithful prayer.

Dear Lord, help us keep our priorities straight. Help us invest our time in that which glorifies You. In  Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Click pen and priorities.

Matthew 10:28 (NIV)
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Have you ever gone into a store and tried to pay for your goods with a click pen? The kind that are five for a dollar at the dollar store?

"I really like this pair of socks. How much are they?"

"Five bucks."

"Hmmm, I'll give you two click pens for them."

I am sure that you would quickly be shown to the exit, and more than likely you would receive an invitation to never show your face around that store again!

In Kenya however, traders love click pens and will accept them as payment. While looking for a souvenir for his brother, a young boy bought a zebra statuette for two click pens. The merchant was actually pleased with the deal! Why? Because click pens are not as common in Kenya as they are over the Atlantic Ocean. They are luxury items and are very much in demand.

Isn't it true that we often take things in life for granted? Take friends for example. We may be frustrated that they spend too much time with us, but once they move to the other side of the world, or even to the next city, we feel hurt that they are no longer around. How dare they move!

And what about that special brand of slasa that the local store used to carry? Will we survive now that they discontinued it?

And what about that favorite blanket? The one we've had since we were five? Who dared take it to the dump!

Is it possible that our priorities may be wrong? Don't you think we could survive easily enough with a different brand of salsa? And what about a new blanket? Wouldn't it work better than the worn out one we've had all your life? And isn't it possible to stay in touch with old friends while making new ones at the same time? And is worrying about a pair of socks really that important? Are our concerns about which brand we should purchase really that earth-shattering?

Is it possible that we could dwell on more uplifting items? Like our neighbor who just lost her husband, for example? Or little Johnny who has no food in his fridge?

Too often we worry over trivia, but the things that are important in the grand scheme of things are forgotten.

Our reality is found in God, not in a pair of socks or a jar of special salsa.

Dear Lord, help us have the right priorities. Help our eyes be open to those that are in need and not be so worried about what we are missing. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Making wise decisions

Proverbs 11:14 (NIV)
For lack of guidance a nation falls,
    but victory is won through many advisers.

Not many people have heard of Bill Havens. But Bill became an unlikely hero of sorts - at least among those who knew him best. Here is his story:

At the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris, the sport of canoe racing was added to the list of international competitions. The favorite team in the four-man canoe race was the United States team. One member of that team was a young man by the name of Bill Havens.

As the time for the Olympics neared, it became clear that Bill's wife would give birth to their first child about the time that the US team would be competing in the Paris games. In 1924 there were no jet airliners from Paris to the United States, only slow ocean-going ships. And so Bill found himself in a dilemma. Should he go to Paris and risk not being at his wife's side when their baby was born? Or should he withdraw from the team and remain with his family? Bill's wife insisted that he go to Paris. After all, competing in the Olympics was the culmination of a life-long dream. But Bill felt conflicted and, after much soul-searching, decided to withdraw from the competition and remain home where he could support his wife when the child arrived. He considered being at her side his highest priority - even higher than going to Paris to fulfill his dream.

As it turned out, the United States four-man canoe team won the gold medal in Paris. And Bill's wife was late in giving birth to their child. She was so late, in fact, that Bill could have competed in the event and returned home in time to be with her when she gave birth. People said, "What a shame." But Bill said he had no regrets. For the rest of his life, he believed he had made the better decision. Bill Havens knew what was most important to him. Not everybody figures that out. And he acted on what he believed was best. Not everybody has the strength of character to say no to something he or she truly wants in order to say yes to something that truly matters. But for Bill, it was the only way to peace; the only way to no regrets.

There is an interesting sequel to the story of Bill Havens..

The child eventually born to Bill and his wife was a boy, whom they named Frank. Twenty-eight years later, in 1952, Bill received a cablegram from Frank. It was sent from Helsinki, Finland, where the 1952 Olympics were being held. The cablegram read: "Dad, I won. I'm bringing home the gold medal you lost while waiting for me to be born."

Frank Havens had just won the gold medal for the United States in the canoe-racing event, a medal his father had dreamed of winning but never did. Like I said - no regrets.

When faced with making a decision do you go to wise council? Do You seek God’s will? Remember to pray about it.

Dear Lord, when faced with decisions in our life help us seek the wisdom of those wise people You have put in our life. But more importantly come to You in prayer and through Your Word.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day 2015

John 15:13  (NIV)
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Memorial Day doesn't mean what it once did. For most, Memorial Day is just another Monday holiday meaning a three day weekend. It marks the beginning of summer. It's the weekend of the Indy 500. School's out. The pools open. It provides the first real chance for picnics, BBQ's, and maybe an outing to the lake. It hasn't always been that way.

Memorial Day grew out of the human need to remember where we have been. Only then can we figure out where we are going. The cherished memories of a nation, a town, a church, or a family provide the values and dream that one generation passes on to the next. Forgetting means dropping the torch.

All of this was on the mind of President Abraham Lincoln on November 19, 1863 as he made his way to the Pennsylvania battlefield. He feared that he might be the last president of the United States. The country teetered on the brink of self-destruction. The ceremony that afternoon would dedicate the site of the cemetery for the over forty thousand soldiers killed at Gettysburg in the three-day battle the previous July. Lincoln's remarks provided the seedbed for what would become Memorial Day.

"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal," he began. Less than two minutes later, he concluded, "The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here (referring to the sacrifice of the soldiers). It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion--that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."

Over the next few years, many communities set aside special days to honor the fallen soldiers of the Civil War. Some services were held with little fan fare. Others involved marching bands and speeches. All included decorating soldier's graves with flowers and flags. Most towns referred to the event as Decoration Day. After World War I the day expanded to honor the American heroes of all wars. Gradually the custom of decorating the graves of relatives and friends became a part of the day.

Eventually the official name was changed to Memorial Day. Originally, the day always fell on May 30. In 1971 congress moved the date to the last Monday in May. 

Let us never forget those that sacrificed their life so we may have the freedoms we have today.  Also remember the Lord Jesus Christ that gave His life so that we may have eternal life.

Dear Lord, thank You for the men and women that have given their all for the freedoms we enjoy. Be with their loved ones that have suffered the great loss, hold them in Your loving arms. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Hank Greenberg's example.

John 16:13 (NIV)
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

Have you ever heard of Hank Greenberg? Today after the Tigers blew a 7 to 3 lead and lost 10 to 8 I read this story of Hank Greenberg. The year was 1934. For the first time in 25 years, the Detroit Tigers were a strong team who had an excellent chance to play in baseball's prestigious World Series. Hank was a key player on a team that had come to rely on his superb skills at first base, and his strong batting, to win games. An important and decisive game was scheduled on Yom Kippur. Hank, the son of Romanian immigrants to the United States, announced that he would not don his uniform and play on this day, the most sacred of Hebrew fasts.

The city of Detroit was outraged. Citizens screamed that the Day of Atonement could be celebrated any year, but this year the Tigers may go all the way to the Series! Anti-Semitic remarks were viciously hurled, but Hank Greenberg remained resolute.

The Detroit Tigers indeed lost that day, although the team did secure the pennant that year. And Hank, when more rational minds prevailed, attained the respect of the community. In fact, a poem was written and published honoring the man who held steadfastly to his beliefs. The tribute ended with this verse:

Came Yom Kippur -- Holy fast day
world-wide over to the Jews,
And Hank Greenberg to his teaching
and the old tradition true

Spent the day among his people
and he didn't come to play.
Said Murphy to Mulrooney,
We shall lose the game today!

We shall miss him in the infield
and shall miss him at the bat,
But he's true to his religion --
and I honor him for that!"

Hank still teaches us an important lesson in how to live effectively. He decided what was important to him and, regardless of pressure applied, he honored his own values. Hank Greenberg -- not the team, nor the coaches, nor even emotional Detroit fans -- set his agenda. He let nobody lower standards he had chosen for himself. And though the team lost that day, the city of Detroit won because it gained an important role model in a young man who courageously followed an inner voice.

Choosing our own way may not always be easy. But effective living occurs once we decide how we will live our lives and, regardless of outside pressure, we honor that decision.

If you are struggling with a difficult decision today, what is your inner voice leading you to do? Perhaps today is the day you should start listening to that voice.

Dear Lord, we thank You for the Holy Spirit that leads and guides us. Help us to listen to that voice today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

We can make a difference

Colossians 3:17 (NIV)
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

How do people bring about needed change? Many people think “I'm only one person. I don't have any real power in this culture.”

Many feel this way.  But not Ella Gunderson. She was aware of a problem that touched not only her life but hundreds of thousands like her. She was not a powerful CEO or government official. Yet she did something that has helped initiate a change from which you and your family could benefit soon. By the way, she is only eleven.

Ella has been troubled over the narrow range of clothing options for girls. All she seemed to see was racy teenage fare – low-riding jeans and tight, revealing tops. "You see girls doing a lot of tugging. They want to be covered, but they are not having the clothes cooperate," her mom says. "The girls want to look feminine and they want to look pretty, but the only look the stores offer is sexy."

So a girl from Redmond, Washington, wrote this letter after a recent shopping trip: "Dear Nordstrom, I am an eleven-year-old girl who has tried shopping at your store for clothes (in particular jeans), but all of them ride way under my hips, and the next size up is too big and falls down. I see all of these girls who walk around with pants that show their belly buttons and underwear. Your clerks suggest  that there is only one look. If that is true, then girls are supposed to walk around half naked. I think that you should change that."

Both the manager of the store where Ella had shopped and Executive Vice- President Phil Nordstrom wrote back. They agreed with her and promised to educate both purchasing managers and sales people on offering fashion options.

Ella didn't scream. She didn't picket the stores. She didn't organize a boycott. She didn't just grumble as she walked away. She spoke from a principled conviction to people who were in position to make a change for the better. She says she is happy about what she did – and also confesses to being surprised.

Your company has a suggestion box or web site. There is a supervisor or company president. Somebody is in charge. That person should not only receive information about product design and employee efficiency but also proposals about morale, ethical behavior, and workplace atmosphere.

Before getting too cynical that things won't change in your workplace or community, church or family, turn your frustration not into rage but into a positive suggestion. The result just might make you happy – as well as surprise you.

Dear Lord, help us look for ways that can make things better. Help us to do this in a loving way and not a manner that stirs up unrest in people. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Does God honor you?

1 Samuel 2:30 (NIV)
Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that members of your family would minister before me forever.’ But now the Lord declares: ‘Far be it from me! Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained.

Ninety one years ago, a remarkable man did a remarkable thing. Eric Liddell of Scotland refused to run a heat at the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris because the race was scheduled on a Sunday, which his faith taught him would violate the Sabbath.

As we know from the Academy Award-winning film, "Chariots of Fire,'' Liddell managed to negotiate an unheard-of switch from the 100-meter race he had been scheduled to run to the 400 meter, for which he had not trained, later in the week. On July 11, 1924, Liddell won that race and was showered with Olympic glory.

Instead of cashing in, Lidell turned his back on fame and fortune and followed in his parents' footsteps, becoming a missionary in China, where his most powerful contributions to God and to his fellow humans were made.

In our day of focus groups and leadership weakened by uncertainty of belief, Eric Liddell's example continues to stand out. A fanatic might have demanded that others not run on Sunday, either, and organized a group to enact legislation to conform society to his point of view. Not Liddell. He just said he wouldn't run. Some newspapers denounced him as a traitor to his country and king. How quickly they changed their tune when he won a gold medal. Had he yielded to temptation and compromised his beliefs, we might never have heard of him again.

The account of the race in the July 12, 1924, Times of London conveys the excitement of that day in Paris: "Liddell had the outside berth -- generally considered the worst place .... There was a perfect start, and from the first jump-off the pace looked, and was, terrific. Two men of the six fell .... But that made no difference, for there was never more than one man in the race, and it was the pace he set that fairly ran them off their legs. Sweeping round into the straight Liddell led by four or five yards, and increased his lead by a couple of yards more in the run home. No one ever looked like catching him .... "When the time was given out as 47 3-5 sec., and it was realized that, for the third time in two days, the world's `record' had been lowered, the Stadium went insane ....'' When Liddell left Edinburgh for China the following year, the number of people wanting to bid him farewell was so large that 1,000 were unable to get in. Twenty years later he was taken prisoner with other missionaries and Westerners and became one of 1,800 crowded into a Japanese camp. His personal space had shrunk to 3 by 6 feet. Before his arrest, Liddell managed to get his wife and two children to safety in Canada (Florence Liddell was pregnant at the time with their third daughter, whom Eric would not live to see). He died of a brain tumor on Feb. 21, 1945.

His biographer Sally Magnusson recalled that most people who knew Liddell observed the consistency of his life. She tried to learn whether he had "clay feet.'' In her book, "The Flying Scotsman,'' Magnusson thought she might have discovered something when she "happened on a disillusioning eyewitness account of the behavior of some of the missionaries in the Japanese internment camp where Liddell spent the last months of his life.

`It is rare indeed when anyone has the good fortune to meet a saint, but he comes as close to it as anyone I have ever known.' Of course, he was talking about Eric Liddell.'' Magnusson adds that thousands of people live similar lives in obscurity and the world does not know their names. "And the first to remind us of that would be Eric Liddell -- who would be full of embarrassment at the very idea of being the subject'' of a book or film.

At the end of "Chariots of Fire,'' producer David Puttnam put on the screen: "Eric Liddell, missionary, died in occupied China at the end of World War II. All of Scotland mourned.''

Press accounts of the 1980 premiere of the film in Edinburgh told of huge crowds. How fitting. The people of Scotland, who had shared their native son with China, were welcoming him back and affirming the note given to Liddell by his masseur before that 1924 race. It referred to the Biblical passage 1 Samuel 2:30: "He who honors Me, I will honor.'' And so He did. And so He still does 91 years later.

Dear Lord, help us honor You in everything we do so that You will honor us. Help us not do things that bring honor to us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Lies of the evil one

John 8:44 (NIV)
You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

In the 10th century Quetzalcoatl reigned over the Toltecs in an affluent town named Tula in what is now known as the country of Mexico. His people considered him to be a god, as he had offered them the cacao tree, from where chocolate is made, as well as the know-how of how to cultivate it.

According to the legend, he was a proud man who desired the worship of his people. But there was something he desired even more than their worship: He wanted to be immortal. This was the motivation behind his visit to the sorcerer Tetcatlipoca: He came to acquire a potion for immortality.

Now the sorcerer was jealous of the king, and he handed him a potion that made him turn mad. Quetzalcoatl fled aboard a raft of intertwined snakes, never to be seen again. Before leaving however, he prophesied that he would return to bring great calamity in the "year of the reed".

In 1519, which was a "year of the reed", Cortez arrived on the Mexican coast. The emperor, Montezuma, blinded by the Spanish conquistador's glittering armor, mistook him for the reincarnation of Quetzalcoatl, and as a result, Cortez was welcomed with open arms. His coming, however, was hardly desirable, for it marked the beginning of the Spanish conquest of Mexico...

When someone tells us a total lie, it's generally quite easy to detect. Those who mix a small amount of lies with a large amount of truth, however, are the dangerous ones. Since part of what they are saying is true, we assume that the rest must be true as well.

The one who specializes in such mixed-up truth-lies is the evil one himself. Every one of his statements, as recorded in the Bible, contains a large element of truth mixed with a few white lies. His temptations are done in the same manner. It's in his nature. He discovered long time ago the power of mixing truth with lies. Like Cortez, he disguises his true intentions: "The thief (evil one) comes only to steal and kill and destroy." (John 10:10a)

Every time you hear that inner accusation that you are really no good, remember where it comes from: It's just a bunch of lies, with just enough truth thrown in to make it believable, just enough to make you believe that you truly are the scum of the earth.

By the same token, whenever you focus on the inner applause that you are "better" than any other employee in your organization, you had better remember the evil one's tactics as well! He mixes truth with lies in just the right ratios to lead to utter heartache!

One thing is for certain: Discouragement, along with any inclination towards pride, comes from the evil one himself. Both are nothing more than a pack of lies built on the foundation of one small truth.

Dear Lord, guard our ears for the evil one. Help us not think of our self better than others and also remember that we are worth something. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Our Father ....

Matthew 6:9-10 (NIV)
9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.

There was a famous TV evangelist that assured his listeners that if they gave a gift to his ministry God would bless them.

He promised that every giver would receive a "life-changing creative idea, supernatural favor, and a debt-canceling miracle." Even more, his audience was assured God had given them the power to get wealth. It was that assurance which had the evangelist issue the challenge: "I dare you ... I double-dog dare you to lay hold on your belly right now, and with a heart full of faith shout as loud as you can, 'I have been given the power to get wealth.'"

When I heard those words, I thought, Wow! I don't remember my professors at Moody teaching me that. I must have been sick when they covered that material. Amazingly, none of my old classmates could remember such a class either.

The sad, sorry reality of life is this: humans, including that evangelist, believe they, not God, know what is best.

Think about it. It didn't take too much urging for Adam and Eve to be convinced that they, not God, should hold the reins. The rest of the Old and New Testaments, indeed, all of human history provides ample evidence that our original ancestors were the rule and not the exception.

Yes, I know, we officially and publicly pray as Jesus taught us. In our worship, both public and private, we ask that the Lord's will be as honored and as successful here on earth, as it is in heaven above.

God has called into being all that is. He has protected us, cared for us, and helped us through situations we never knew existed. He can plainly see the future and what is best for us. Indeed, He even sent His Son into this world to give His life, so we might have everything needful to be saved.

In spite of all that, ungrateful sinners that we are, we keep on telling the Lord what He should do. We who have seen the scope of His love should know better. He most certainly deserves better.

Dear Lord, forgive us for our sins. Especially for our pride. Grant us a faith that prays and means it when we says, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Does your pride keep you from reflecting?

Galatians 6:3 (NIV)
If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.

I received this in an email and thought it was great. It made me really think, I hope it does the same for you.

For thousands of years, the relationship had been perfect. As far back as anyone could remember, the moon had faithfully reflected the sun's rays into the dark night. It was the greatest duo in the universe. Other stars and planets marveled at the reliability of the team. Generation after generation of earthlings were captivated by the reflection. The moon became the symbol of romance, high hopes, and even nursery rhymes.

"Shine on, harvest moon," the people would sing. And he did. Well, in a way he did. You see, the moon didn't actually shine. He reflected. He took the light given to him by the sun and redirected it toward the earth. A simple task of receiving illumination and sharing it.

You would think such a combo would last forever. It almost did. But one day, a nearby star planted a thought in the moon's core.

"It must be tough being a moon," the star suggested.

"What do you mean? I love it! I've got an important job to do. When it gets dark, people look to me for help. And I look to the sun. He gives me what I need and I give the people what they need. People depend on me to light up their world. And I depend on the sun."

"So, you and the sun must be pretty tight."

"Tight? Why, we are like Huntley and Brinkley, Hope and Crosby, Benny and Day. . ."

"Or maybe Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy?" "

You know, the man and the dummy." "Well, I don't know about the dummy part." "That's exactly what I mean. You are the dummy. You don't have any light of your own. You depend on the sun. You're the sidekick. You don't have any name for yourself."

"Name for myself?"

"Yeah, you've been playing second fiddle for too long. You need to step out on your own."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean stop reflecting and start generating. Do your own thing. Be your own boss. Get people to see you for who you really are.'

"Who am I?"

"Well, you are, uh, well, uh, well, that's what you need to find out. You need to find out who you are." The moon paused and thought for a moment. What the star said made sense. Though he had never considered it, the moon was suddenly aware of all the inequities of the relationship.

Why should he have to work the night shift all the time? And why should he be the one the astronauts stepped on first? And why should he always be accused of making waves? And why don't the dogs and wolves howl at the sun for a change? And why should it be such an outrage to "moon" while "sunning" is an accepted practice?

"You are right!" Asserted the moon. "It's high time we had a solar-lunar equity up here.'

"Now you're talking," prodded the star. "Go discover the real moon!"

Such was the beginning of the breakup. Rather than turning his attention toward the sun, the moon began turning his attention toward himself.

He set out on the course of self-enhancement. After all, his complexion was a disgrace, so full of craters and all. His wardrobe was sadly limited to three sizes; full length, half-cast, and quarter-clad. And his coloring was an anemic yellow.

So, girded with determination, he set out to reach for the moon.

He ordered glacier packs for his complexion. He changed his appearance to include new shapes such as triangular and square. And for coloring he opted for a punk-rock orange. "No one is going to call me cheese­face anymore."

The new moon was slimmed down and shaped up. His surface was as smooth as a baby's bottom. Everything was fine for a while.

Initially, his new look left him basking in his own moonlight. Passing meteors would pause and visit. Dis­tant stars would call and compliment. Fellow moons would invite him over to their orbits to watch "As the World Turns."

He had friends. He had fame. He didn't need the sun-until the trends changed. Suddenly "punk" was out and "prep" was in. The compliments stopped and the giggles began as the moon was slow to realize that he was out of style. Just as he finally caught on and had his orange changed to pinstripe, the style went to "country."

It was the painful poking of the rhinestones into his surface that caused him to finally ask himself, "What's this all for anyway? You're on the cover of the magazine one day and forgotten the next. Living off the praise of others is an erratic diet."

For the first time since he'd begun his campaign to find himself, the moon thought of the sun. He remembered the good ol' millenniums when praise was not a concern. What people thought of him was immaterial since he wasn't in the business of getting people to look at himself. Any praise that came his way was quickly passed on to the boss. The sun's plan was beginning to dawn on the moon. "He may have been doing me a favor."

He looked down upon the earth. The earthlings had been getting quite a show. They never knew what to expect: first punk, then preppie, now country. Odds­makers in Las Vegas were making bets as to whether the next style would be chic or macho. Rather than be the light of their world he was the butt of their jokes.

Even the cow refused to jump over him.

But it was the cold that bothered him the most. Absence from the sunlight left him with a persistent chill. No warmth. No glow. His full length overcoat didn't help. It couldn't help; the shiver was from the inside, an icy shiver from deep within his core that left him feeling cold and alone.

Which is exactly what he was.

One night as he looked down upon the people walking in the dark, he was struck by the futility of it all. He thought of the sun. He gave me everything I needed. I served a purpose. I was warm. I was content. I was ... I was what I was made to be.

Suddenly, he felt the old familiar warmth. He turned and there was the sun. The sun had never moved. "I'm glad you're back," the sun said. "Let's get back to work."

"You bet!" Agreed the moon.

The coat came off. The roundness returned, and a light was seen in the dark sky. A light even fuller. A light even brighter.

And to this day whenever the sun shines and the moon reflects and the darkness is illuminated, the moon doesn't complain or get jealous. He does what he was intended to do all along. The moon beams.

When God Whispers Your Name will you let Him shine through YOU?

Dear Lord, we want to shine Your love today. Help us be content with what You made is do. Help our prideful ways not get in the way. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Pride the great destroyer

Luke 22:24  (NIV)
A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest.

Most of the time most pastors get along well.

Even if they come from different denominations, they still extend to each other a modicum of professional respect.

That was not the case years ago when pride came between two preachers. These pastors, whose congregations thought they were in competition, met on the street. One of them coldly said, "I heard you speak the other night and recognized that sermon. You preached it about 14 years ago."

Somewhat put out by such a direct attack, the other shot back, "Thank you very much. I heard you speak just three weeks ago, and I can't remember a single word you said!"

The conversation probably wasn't much different as the disciples disputed about which of them was the greatest.

We expect little children to argue and brag. Children take great stock in telling why they're the smartest, cutest, fastest and bestest. But Jesus' disciples should have matured beyond such silliness.

How it must have hurt Jesus to hear them squabble.

His heartache stemmed from the fact that not only were His disciples fighting, but these were the men with whom He had worked the hardest. These were His trusted friends whom He had kept closest to Him, who had seen His miracles, and listened to His sermons on love. These were the ones who would be entrusted with the sharing of the Gospel.

Similarly, Jesus must be appalled by His present-day disciples who squander the church's volunteers and resources on insignificant and inconsequential internal disputes. How sad our Redeemer must be when normally sensible and almost always rock-solid Christians jockey for recognition and demand acceptance of their own points of view.

Jesus knew back then, and He wishes His people to know now that the church and its leaders have bigger enemies to fight than each other.

Jesus died and rose so His people could witness to others on His behalf. Jesus died and rose so His people would come to Him humbly and acknowledge, "Chief of sinners though I be, Jesus shed His blood for me."

Dear Lord, forgive us when our pride gets in the way of doing all we can for You and Your work. When we are proud, let it be proud of the fact You are our Savior. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Pride will sink you.

Obadiah 1:4 (NIV)
Though you soar like the eagle
    and make your nest among the stars,
    from there I will bring you down,”
declares the Lord.

On the evening of August 31, 1986, the Soviet cruise liner Admiral Nakhimov set sail from Novorossiysk on the Black Sea. The 575-foot passenger liner was the flagship of the Black Sea cruise fleet in the 1950's and was carrying 884 passengers and 346 crewmembers on its voyage to Odessa. Shortly after 11 p.m., the 50,000-ton freighter Pyotr Vasyev spotted on a collision course with the cruiser liner. Marine safety workers in warned the freighter it was on a collision course with the Admiral Nakhimov, but the freighter's captain failed to take evasive measures. At 11:20 p.m., when many passengers had already gone to bed, the freighter struck the cruise liner, sinking it within 8 minutes. Four hundred forty-eight people died in the accident. The investigation revealed the cause of the accident wasn't a technology problem such as radar malfunction-or even thick fog. The cause was human stubbornness. Each captain was aware of the other ship's presence nearby. Both could have steered clear, but according to news reports, neither captain wanted to give way to the other. Each was too proud to yield first. By the time they came to their senses, it was too late.

Pride can be deadly. We need to acknowledge our wrongs and turn from them. Are you letting your pride take you on a deadly course?

Dear Lord, we give thanks to the You, please help us forsake are pride.  Help us walk humbly with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.