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September 19, 2012Permalink Leave a comment

Who Is the Greatest? Castle, Clinton, Johnson, Stein, Trump, you, me?

[As they were traveling to the next city, Capernaum, Jesus] wanted to teach his disciples. He told them, "The Son of Man is about to be betrayed to some people who want nothing to do with God. They will murder him. Three days after his murder, he will rise, alive."

They didn't know what he was talking about, but were afraid to ask him about it.

They came to Capernaum. When he was safe at home, he asked them, "What were you discussing on the road?"

The silence was deafening – they had been arguing with one another over who among them was greatest.

He sat down and summoned the Twelve. "So you want first place? Then take the last place. Be the servant of all."

He put a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in his arms, he said,

"Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me – God who sent me."

The Followers and the Christians

“When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting Followers to his right and Christians to his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:

I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’

“Then those ‘Followers’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me — you did it to me.’

“Then he will turn to the ‘Christians,’ the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get out, worthless Christians! You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—

I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’

“Then those ‘Christians’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?’

“He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me — you failed to do it to me.’

“Then those ‘Christians’ will be herded to their eternal doom, but the ‘Followers’ to their eternal reward.”

 

– paraphrased from The Message

Brokenness: The Key To The Future

"I ask every man and woman in this audience that from this day on we realize that part of the destiny of America lies in their daily perusal of this Book {the Bible}." — Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States

 
THE FUTILE AND FATAL SEARCH:

 

The story is told of a man  who was out hiking in the rugged Superstition Mountains of Arizona just east of Phoenix.  The story has a familiar ring because I used to do the same thing around Sabino and Bear Canyons in the Catalina Mountains northeast of Tucson, though not nearly so rugged and risky.  The Superstitions are a beautiful area of desert mountains punctuated by tall jagged peaks, deep gorges, desert fauna, and little water.  To the west and north are towns like Apache Junction, Tortilla Flats, and Gold Canyon . . . all names with magnetic and sometimes mysterious names of native America and enticing adventure.  To the northwest is Canyon Lake, and to the north is the famed Salt River running through the Salt River Canyon and into the Theodore Roosevelt Lake to the northeast.  Skirting the Superstitions through Tortilla Flats and the Salt River Canyon is the serpentine State Highway 88, commonly known as "The Apache Trail", winding its way in, out, and around deep canyons and foreboding craigs. 

The Superstitions are no place for a novice or the faint of heart.  Unlike many mountain ranges in AZ that rise up like linear upheavals generally stretching two directions in a relatively narrow line, the Superstitions are more like a enormous "glob" of impassable obstacles, covering hundreds of square miles.  The area not only has the mystique of its name, but it also carries the fables and tales of Spanish explorers and mysterious missionaries discovering and hiding millions of dollars worth of gold and other treasures, local tribes and strange spirit rituals protecting the region from outsiders, and foolhardy prospectors trying to outsmart the tribes and discover the hidden riches.  One of the most famous stories of all is, of course, that of the famous Lost Dutchman's Mine.  Entwined by thousands of rugged service roads, hiking trails, and tiny rivulets of shallow streams and dry beds carrying life-giving water only during the Monsoon season, the area is peppered with places like Clover Spring, Goat Canyon, Little Goat Canyon, Night Hawk Spring, Miller Tunnel Spring, Tortilla Pass, Cedar Spring, Lost Dutch Spring, and Lost Dutch Canyon.

Back to the hiker:

He had taken enough provisions for only a day, or perhaps two if he had to unexpectedly spend the night somewhere.  Since few people traveled his intended route, he had no intention of staying beyond mid afternoon so he could get back to his car before nightfall.  One doesn't want to be in the Superstitions by himself with meager provisions after dark.  Only an idiot would do that . . . or someone who is fool enough to make the hike without having taken the time to learn the risks.

Somewhere along the way, distracted by the soaring peaks, the soaring Harris Hawk and Turkey Vulture, the Desert Bighorns (sheep), and the narrow winding trail, he missed a fork in the trail and ended up in unfamiliar territory.  As he tried to retrace his steps, he lost track of time and realized he'd never get back to the car during daylight.  Nevertheless, he pressed on as nighttime fell, knowing he was at great risk for his personal safety.

Reaching a particularly narrow spot in the trail hugging the cliff eighty feet above the dry creek bed below, he lost his footing and began tumbling down the near-vertical canyon wall. Clawing and grasping for anything that would break his plummet that was sure to cause serious injury or even death, his hand suddenly caught hold of a Mesquite Bush growing from a crack in the side of the cliff.  Unable to get his bearings, he grabbed the bush with both hands and, feeling around with his feet for some kind of foot rest, he finally located a small protrusion that would carry enough weight to ease the strain on his desperate grip.

Spitting dirt and rocks from his month, he caught his breath after several deep gasps and began assessing his situation.  Unable to see in the darkness of the cloud-covered sky, he couldn't risk any effort on his part to climb either up or down.  He was going to either spend the night where he was with his strength dissipating from his arms and one foot resting on that small outcrop, or he could do the ridiculous and yell for help.  One option seemed as impossible as the other . . . his strength wouldn't last the night, and calling for help when no one was around was ridiculous.

Nonetheless, he garnered his strength and yelled at the top of his voice, . . . . "HELP!  HELP!"

To his surprise he heard a voice in the distance . . . and then he heard it again, only this time more faint.  He yelled out again, "HELP ME!  I NEED HELP!"  The sound came back to him again.  Then he realized it was the echo of his own voice bouncing off the canyon walls.

After fighting his disappointment, and knowing there was no other choice, he cried out in desperation, "HELP ME!  PLEASE HELP ME!  IS ANYONE OUT THERE???"

Suddenly, to his total shock, a voice spoke above him and said, "Here!  Grab this rope!  I'll pull you up!"

The hiker, now with a sense of hope in being rescued, asked, "Man, am I glad you're here!  Who is this, anyhow?"

The voice respond, "This is God."

The hiker was stunned.  After what seemed like an eternity, the hiker yelled out, . . .

"IS THERE ANYONE ELSE UP THERE???"

IT COMES TO DESPERATE BROKENNESS:

It is my opinion that this hiker's name is Sam . . . Uncle Sam.  Or as you and I affectionately know him, The United States of America.  Uncle Sam has been walking an incredibly narrow and precarious trail along the vast Canyon of Destruction for a very, very long time.  And deep darkness . . . blacker than the blackest Midnight . . . has overtaken us.  We have, nonetheless, insisted on walking onward, knowing full well it is best that we stop dead in our tracks to wait until daylight returns. 

We, however, have refused to stop in spite of numerous warning signs and voices in the shadows pleading with us to turn around and go back home.  Instead of heeding those oft-repeated calls to return from whence we came, we have arrogantly and stubbornly insisted on venturing further and deeper into the deep and dark world of godless secularism.  For that reason, God has allowed our nation to come to the point where we are today.  I'm not certain exactly where we are yet, but I am convinced is is neither where we should be . . . or where we are soon to arrive.  Struggle and hardship never complete their intended purposes until it brings one to the point of desperation and brokenness.

While many individuals have, we as a nation have not yet arrived there.

However, we will arrive . . . or we will ultimately arrive at the Canyon of Destruction. 

It is either desperation leading to brokenness and restoration, or it is stubbornness and continued rebellion leading to ultimate destruction.

It is my contention that Brokenness is the absolute key to America's future.  The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that it is true.

One day Jesus was out ministering to people in their need, and some guys came along and told Phillip they wanted to see Jesus (John 12:20-26).  Phillip told Andrew, and apparently together they brought these men to Jesus and told Him what they had requested.

His response was stunning; it didn't even seem to fit the request —- "The hour is come for the Son of man to be glorified . . . Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone."  After developing that analogy a bit, he concludes by saying, "If anyone serves me, he must Follow me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. . ."  What Jesus was saying was both simple and yet profound —– apart from dying to everything that even remotely smells of self, like the grain of wheat, you can neither see Jesus nor serve Jesus effectively without brokenness or death to the old self life..

Watchman Nee in his book, The Release of the Spirit, says, "anyone who serves God will discover sooner or later that the great hindrance to his work is not others, but himself.  He will discover that his soul and his spirit are not in harmony, for both are tending toward opposite directions."  This is true for both an individual, a church . . . and a nation.  Paul said something of the same thing in Romans 7:18-23 when he declared that the things he knew he should and wanted to do, he couldn't; and the things he shouldn't do, he did.  There is that ongoing conflict we all face, like Paul, when it comes to the Desiring on the one hand and the Doing on the other.

The only way the Desiring can become the Doing is through brokenness.  Like the comic character Pogo from years ago, we, too, will soon discover that "We have found the enemy, and the enemy is we."

Roy Hession, in his little book, Calvary Road, said, "it's always self who gets irritable and envious and resentful and critical and worried.  It is self who is hard and unyielding in its attitude to others.  It is self who is shy and self-conscious and reserved.  As long as self is in control, God can do little with us."  Our nation is currently a self-centered nation, and is tragically filled with equally self-centered churches and believers.  Where our churches concluded that the blessings of God were to edify "Self" is beyond me, but it has happened.  That cancer can come only from the pulpit as preachers have either declared a "I deserve to be blessed" message or have simply neglected the true message of the Bible that following Christ means to "deny Self, take up one's cross, . . ." and follow Him.

Even though this truth is illustrated time and again in scripture, it is one of the least taught and most intensely resisted truth in the Bible.

Gideon's light would not have shown if the pitcher had not been broken.  The fit vessel would have never been created if the potter had not broken the clay.  Job would have never known holiness if God had not broken him
by taking away everything but Himself.  The fallow ground of Hosea 10 would have never produced crops without it being broken up.  The people of God would have never returned to the fountains of living water if the cisterns had not been broken.  Jericho was conquered because the walls were broken.  Jacob the supplanter became Israel the Prince with God because he was broken at the hand of God's angel.

The wild horse of James 3:3 would have been useless if the Master had not broken it.  The seed would have been only a seed if it had not been buried and broken.  The thousands would have remained hungry if Jesus had not broken the little boy's lunch.  And, Mary's alabaster would have never anointed the feet of Jesus if the box had not been broken.  In fact, the sign that Jesus had risen from the dead was the seal that was broken on the stone that had been rolled away.  The Bible is saturated with examples . . . both objects, people, and nations, . . . of how necessary brokenness is to life and fruitfulness.  The same is true for America today . . . and for America's churches.  You cannot have new life without death to the old.

Brokenness may be the most ignored, neglected, feared, and resisted principle to be found anywhere in the Bible.  Life is utterly impossible without it.

THE REQUIREMENT OF BROKENNESS:

It's simple —- if we are going to fully experience the Life of Christ and effectively serve God, we Must be broken.  Until you are broken before Him, all you have is what man can do for God.  When brokenness comes, it then becomes what God can do through a servant.

Study the lives of virtually every great preacher or missionary, and you'll find that prior to their greatness there was a time when they were broken before God.  I've heard with my own ears the testimonies of men like Duncan Campbell, Stephen Olford, and Billy Graham —- how their lives and ministries were dry, desolate, and fruitless.  And then one day God took them to the crucible.  When they came out, they were different men.

Finney, Spurgeon, Whitfield, G. Campbell Morgan, —- the list goes on.  Even contemporaries have felt the Mighty Hand of God on them, bringing them to the end of everything —- success, reputation, sometimes even family —- where they were fully broken into nothingness in order that the life and ministry of Jesus would be released.  Bread is impossible without wheat that has been broken and ground into usable flower.  Wine is impossible without the grapes being crushed and broken.  Harvest cannot happen without the seed being broken through the death process so that new grain can be produced.

Which would you rather have, my friend? —- what you can do for Him, or what He can do through you?

I've had both —- painful as it is, I'd choose the latter any day.  The comparison reveals no contest.

THE REASONS FOR BROKENNESS:

You can probably think of many.  However, let me quickly mention the following.

1.  God said so —- reason enough!  If there were no other reason, that one is sufficient.  You see, friend, what was marred in the garden in the fall still has its residual effect on us, and it must be dealt with.  It must be made again, "as seemeth fit to the potter".

2.  God's holiness cannot use unfit vessels.  Romans 8:6-8 tells us, after reminding us that the mind set on the flesh is death while the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, that those who are in the flesh cannot please God.  God's holiness cannot, because of His very nature and ours, use vessels that are unfit and uncooperative.  It isn't that He won't because of contentiousness; he can't because of His character.

3.  The true source of effective ministry must be revealed.  God Himself.   Paul tells us in II Corinthians 7:4 that "we have this treasure in clay pots that the excellency of the power will be of God and not of man."  You see, it's not the box —- it's the alabaster that ministers.  We spend far too much time admiring, polishing, preserving, and showing off the box, while the healing and aroma are still locked inside.  It will never be released apart from being broken.  So it is with your own life.

4.  True service must be realized and demonstrated, and it can only happen through a surrendered servant spirit that comes only through brokenness.  Otherwise all you have is a cheap performance mentality that focuses the attention on itself and consequently fails to release genuine selfless ministry.

5.  Our human inadequacy for a divine task.  Again, referring to Romans 8:6-8, where did any of us ever get the idea that our humanity was adequate for spiritual life?

That's the miracle of the Cross —- Jesus puts something to death, and life comes out of it.  All of nature shouts that truth out loudly, and yet we walk by, seemingly oblivious to such a fact.  Like Paul, we must be willing to say, "In me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing.", and also "I have been crucified with Christ, and nevertheless I live . . ." (Gal 2:20).

THE RESULTS OF BROKENNESS:

When brokenness is brought upon us, there are many things that happen.  I mention only these:

1.  All human inadequacies are exposed, crucified, and disqualified.  And that, my friend, is a liberating thing.  When you realize that all you are at your best is not sufficient, and the humiliation of exposure has taken place, there is no pride left that wants to hide the fact.

2.  A liberating transparency and honesty become part of you Because God knows, you know, you know God knows, and you don't care if others know, you are set free to just be you.  No more pretending, no more trying to be a new "savior" or even The Savior's helper, no more trying to crank out a new idea to prove your worth or gain someone's approval.

I'll never forget little Stace.  He was about eight or nine years of age that day when he walked to the alter during ministry time and took the pastor by the hand.  When Jim asked him why he had come, he gazed into Jim's eyes with the most genuine and child like honesty and said, . . . .

"I Quit!"

That's the sum and substance of our required response to God's breaking process.

Go ahead, friend —- just say it . . . . . . "I Quit!"

3.  God's total capabilities are revealed, released, and realized As Roy Hession said in his book, "It is God taking center stage while man takes the background".  When brokenness brings us to the end of ourselves and the beginning of Him in us, we tend to stand around with our mouths open a lot more.  As my friend Jim Hylton says, "nobody acts like Jesus quite like Jesus."

4.  Revived Life begins to flow We become an enigma to some, a mystery to others, and a blessing to still others.  We are unexplainable.  And, that's what I've always prayed for —- for me, for my family, and for any church I ever pastored —- to be unexplainable apart from God.

When true life begins to flow, others are affected —- they are either puzzled, restored, or offended.  But anything life touches is affected.  When the brokenness of the cross is completed in the grave, then resurrection is on the way.

And when resurrection life breaks out of the tomb and leave an empty hole, all Heaven breaks loose and shows up down here on earth for all to see —- and receive, if they will.

5.  Needs are met in massive proportionThe days of "teaspoon medicine" are over.  Now it comes in buckets —- in barrels!

Why is it so hard for us to admit that brokenness is the real key to the kind of ministry that will touch hundreds and thousands at a time instead of just a handful?

For those who claim to care for others but are not willing to embrace brokenness, their true heart has been exposed.  They are more interested in honor than in humility.  They cherish popularity more than they do purity.  They crave spotlights more than they do servanthood.

I praise God that He is so merciful that He will bless some of their efforts; but just think of what He could do through them if they were broken!

Think of what He could do through you and me!

 
In His Bond, By His Grace, and For His Kingdom,
 
Bob Tolliver — Romans 1:11

My “How to Vote” guide

Who do I vote for?  How do I decide?

I'm interested in a leader who tries his best to follow God's will as he/she makes decisions.  Because I know that while such a person isn't perfect, the results of a person TRYING to follow God's direction will be better than someone who isn't trying to follow God. 

I pray about who I should vote for.

I consider the influence a leader will have on young and old people.  I will not pick a leader who sets a bad example for others to follow.

Why vote for someone who tries to follow God's will?

In the United States, we often have the privilege of voting for people who try to follow God's will.  I believe that God knows better how to run our nation than we do.  He made us and this world – he designed it all, so He knows best.  Anyone who learns from Him will do a better job leading than someone following their own or other people's ideas. 

It's simple – I want God's will to be done, so I choose leaders who try to follow God.

What if multiple candidates claim to be "Christian"?

Following God means we become more and more like Jesus, who followed God best.  In the Bible, Jesus talks about looking at the kind of acts we do, and that if you look at a person's deeds, you can discover how close they are to God. 

I'm particularly interested in what candidates did when they weren't so much the center of attention – did they care for the elderly, did they feed the hungry, did they clothe and house the homeless, did they nurture the children?  Then I look at how successful a candidate was/is leading their own family – were they faithful to their one spouse for their entire life, how did their children turn out, do they attend church to worship God? 

Is the candidate sincere, or does he/she act one way on-stage, and another way off-stage?  I don't trust inconsistent people.  Matthew 5:37 says "Let your yes be yes, and your no be no."

What traits do I want to see in any leader?

  • love
  • joy
  • peace
  • patience
  • kindness
  • goodness
  • faithfulness
  • gentleness
  • self-control

What if nobody running seems to be following God?

Someday I need to encourage someone I know who does follow God, to consider running for office next time.  We each have our own strengths, and for some, this kind of leadership isn't a good fit.  That's why I don't run :-)

I enjoy innovative independent thinkers.  I appreciate leaders who encourage others to grow, and then step aside when better talent rises, instead of wanting to stay on top so they can always be "king".  I admire a leader who tries to do what's idealistically right, and who takes time to do it right the first time – instead of caving in to pressure.  And sometimes I want a leader to do what's best for the people, when it's obvious they don't fully understand what's best for themselves (such as Abraham Lincoln with regard to slavery).

Excusing your behavior because portions of the Bible are culturally specific

The Bible wasn't just compliant with the culture of its day – it exceeded the bounds of the culture of its day.  In other words, the Bible's message is not world-culturally specific – God asks us to be/do more than our culture expects, because God's people are not expected to fit the mold of any world culture.  In fact, we must not fit the world's standard, because God expects us to be His people – the salt and light of this world.

John MacArthur, in his book "Being a Dad who Leads" writes to husbands and fathers about God's expectations for His men:

Your wife is "a fellow heir of the grace of life."  She is your spiritual equal.  As such, you are to cultivate companionship and fellowship with her, not lord it over her.  This was a foreign concept to the Greco-Roman culture of Peter's day.  Husbands were generally uninterested in friendship with their wives, expecting them to merely take care of the house and bear children.  In contrast, the Christian husband is to cultivate a loving and intimate companionship with his wife, which is one of the richest blessings he can know in this life.

In these ways, 1 Peter 3:7 defines for us all the more what a sacrificial love looks like.  Ultimately, the Christian husband loves his wife not for what she can do for him, but because of what he desires to do for her.  That's how Christ's love works.  He loves us not because there's something in us that attracts Him to us; He loves us because He is determined to love us in spite of our unattractiveness.  He loves us with a sympathetic love that seeks to understand us, assist us, comfort and equip us, and meet our needs.  It's a love that perseveres even when we fail Him.  That's the kind of love you as a husband are to have for your wife.

God is preparing us to be with Him for eternity, if we will follow Him.  He's helping us to find Life that is beyond our imagination.  Most people in this world have messed up lives (focusing on personal profit and pleasure), but God is showing us what relational life in Heaven is like.  It's completely different – a culture of its own.

The Wolves Within

An old Grandfather said to his grandson, who came to him with anger at a friend who had done him an injustice…

"Let me tell you a story.  I too, at times, have felt a great hate for those that have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do."

"But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many times." He continued, "It is as if there are two wolves inside me. One is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him, and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way."

"But the other wolf, ah! He is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is helpless anger,for his anger will change nothing."

"Sometimes, it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit."

The boy looked intently into his Grandfather's eyes and asked, "Which one wins, Grandfather?"

The Grandfather smiled and quietly said, "The one I feed."


The Return of the Unclean Spirit – an episode in the life of Jesus, from Matthew 12

43 “When the [angry] spirit has gone out of a person, it wanders through waterless regions looking for a resting place, but it finds none. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ When it comes, it finds it empty, swept, and put in order. 45 Then it goes and brings along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and live there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So will it be also with this evil generation.”


The Life God Intends for Us, from Colossians 3

1-2 So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.

3-4 Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.

5-8 And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That’s a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God. It’s because of this kind of thing that God is about to explode in anger. It wasn’t long ago that you were doing all that stuff and not knowing any better. But you know better now, so make sure it’s all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk.

9-11 Don’t lie to one another. You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve stripped off and put in the fire. Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ.

12-14 So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

15-17 Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.

December 26, 2015Permalink Leave a comment

Forgive Me

Father, I'm going through some heavy things
It seems like this world ain't getting any better
The more we try to get closer to You
The farther we run from Your throne

I've spent so many nights wonderin' when will it end
When will the day come when happiness begins
I'm running the race but it seems too hard to win
I'm sick of mourning my stomach is throwing up in the morning

I'm calling for help and watching it melt away
My heart's been put on display and put away
In many ways, many times I told myself it was ok
And anger was the price that was paid
While these faded dreams just screamed to bring them home

The burden was too heavy I kept running from the throne
I can't take it any longer
I can taste my spirit hunger
God please help me get home

I've come to terms that I'm burning both sides of the rope
And I'm hoping that self-control would kick in before I'm choking off
This sin that be destroying every fiber I got
I need the Lord in every way I'll never make it I'm not
Going back to the way I was before Christ in my life
I couldn't do it I would lose it there's no point to the fight
And I'm writing this song, for the people who don't belong
I pray away the pain you feel from all the things that went wrong
Inside a life that's filled with anger and disappointment
Cause daddy treated you weaker than all of the other kids
It's annoying and I feel for all of you who wanna give up
You feel stuck I feel the same way Lord help us stay up
You couldn't pay me to abandon the idea of true hope
That I could make it through this life into a place where there's no crying
I'm dying to find You with open arms when I go
Knowing You love me and You waiting to give rest to my soul

[Chorus]

Lord I don't know what I'm struggling for
There's got to be more
Than this life I know
But still I'm here fighting to never give up
I find strength in Your love
And You will see me through

[Chorus]

Lord though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
Lord please
Lord though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I'm not scared cause You're holding my breath
I only fear that I don't have enough time left
To tell the world that there's no time left

– by Group 1 Crew

December 14, 2015Permalink Leave a comment

Evidence that Climate Change is man-caused

As one of the Republican Presidential candidates, Ben Carson says, "You have a brain".  So let's think about climate change by reminding ourselves of some well known studies:

  • "Earth used to be covered with far more trees. Using computer models, Thomas Crowther and colleagues estimated that before human civilization Earth had about 5.6 trillion trees. So the number of trees on Earth, [now ~3 trillion], has been chopped nearly in half."  Trees do help combat human-made climate change, due to their photosynthesis cycle.
  • Just after 9/11/2001, while the FAA grounded all air travel, there were 3 days without contrails.  A study found "…an anomalous increase in the average diurnal temperature range (that is, the difference between the daytime maximum and night-time minimum temperatures) for the period 11-14 September 2001."  "Because persisting contrails can reduce the transfer of both incoming solar and outgoing infrared radiation and so reduce the daily temperature range, we attribute at least a portion of this anomaly to the absence of contrails over this period."
  • "Scientists discovered in the 1970s that chlorofluorocarbons such as Freon were hurting Earth’s ozone layer."  However, "people still use non-CFC–based aerosols widely. Today’s propellants don’t destroy ozone but do pose other problems. Hydrocarbons can contribute to ground-level ozone formation, a health threat. And some hydrofluorocarbons belong among another class of environmental enemies: the atmos­phere-warming greenhouse gases."  The problem was/is so bad that there were/are ozone layer holes in some areas allowing, excessive radiation (heat is a form of radiation) to reach the ground.

You may have other examples on your mind, so please feel free to leave your comment.

How do people respond to the topic of whether climate change is caused by mankind?

  1. Denial – the earth is a big place, and knows how to take care of itself
  2. Helpless Victim – I contribute so little to the problem, it doesn't really matter what I do
  3. Guardian – I can do something about this, and I have a plan to help make it better, starting with me and my family.  Here's my plan…
  4. Destroyer – Life is short, and I'm going to get all I can for me, regardless of the impact
September 27, 2015Permalink Leave a comment

US administration makes deal with Iran, despite prior promise to wife of imprisoned American

CBS News correspondent Major Garrett questioned the president [Obama] about the Iranian nuclear deal that left Americans in Iranian jails.

“As you well know, there are four Americans held in Iran, three held on trumped up charges, according to your administration, one whereabouts unknown. Can you tell the country, sir, why you are content with all the fanfare around this deal to leave the conscience of this nation, the strength of this nation, unaccounted for in relation to these four Americans?” Garrett asked.

The U.S. State Department condemned the sentencing of Saeed in 2013: “We condemn Iran’s continued violation of the universal right of freedom of religion and we call on the Iranian authorities to respect Mr. Abedini’s human rights and release him.”

So the US administration now wishes to make a nuclear deal with a country that violates human rights and is willing to jail and torture a US citizen who is one of our people.  It seems this administration has limited moral code, limited ethics, limited integrity, and is not willing to protect all of its people.

I call on the US Congress to decline this administrations’ inappropriate deal with Iran.  Don’t make deals with nations that violate human rights.

A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds

To some extent, we can know the nature of any man or woman by what they do – and we don’t have to wait to see, we can look at whatever they have already done, to project the kind of things they will do next.

With our world seemingly spinning out of control, God is the only one who can properly save us.  Good leaders who follow God and have a good track record of actions are a distant second.  But each of us should follow God, so we do what is right.

Saint Basil said

“A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.”

Saint Basil was borrowing from Luke 6, which says

“For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from brambles. The good person out of the good treasury of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasury produces evil, for his mouth speaks from what fills his heart.”

What kind of “good things” would we look for in a person’s history?  Well, if our person honors God, we will see these things (Galatians 5:22):

  • love
  • joy
  • peace
  • patience
  • kindness
  • goodness
  • faithfulness
  • gentleness
  • self-control

And remember David, “the man after God’s own heart” who got so upset when he came across the Philistines and Goliath, saying bad things about God’s people?  David loved God and was really devoted to him.  When Goliath said bad things about God and his people, David wanted to defend their honor and assure their safety!  My son once had a coach who said “Protect your house!”  Every good leader should be doing that.

A good leader develops a good plan.  What does God say?  (Jeremiah 29:11) ‘”For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”‘  Those are important words – HOPE, and a FUTURE.  The future is wrapped up in our children, and our children’s children.  If our plans don’t “protect their house” too, a leader has failed.  Some examples:

  • protect our environment
  • protect our finances
  • protect our minds and spirits
  • protect us from outside threats
  • inspire us to exceed expectations and be full of meaningful life

As we live our own lives, and assess others who want to be leaders, I wonder how many of us are like clueless 3rd Graders jumping up and down yelling “Pick Me, Pick me!”, but who do not have good fruit in our own lives?  Do we really care about those around us – our future – or are we just chasing the stardom of leadership?

The proof of who we are is in our recent past.  Anyone can see it.  And the wonderful thing about recent pasts is that you can start building yours today.

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Matthew 20:28