Wednesday, November 21, 2018

"The Magical Appearing Socks Trick"

1st John 3.18 KJV

“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”

Every day I wear socks. I open my sock drawer and there they are! It’s magic. I never run out. There’s always enough. Like the widow’s oil (2nd Kings 4.1-7) or loaves and fish (Matthew 15.32-38), they just keep multiplying. The socks are always there… clean, folded, in a variety of colors, and ready to wear.

Actually, I know how this trick works. It’s not really magic, but it is miraculous. It’s the miracle of love. Love puts clean socks in my drawer when I’m not looking so they appear when I need them. Somebody loves me. That’s the miracle. Love picks up, washes, dries, folds, and puts away my socks every day… it’s a miracle! Someone chooses not to love in word, neither in tongue.” Instead, she loves “in deed and in truth,” just like the Bible says. I am Elisha’s widow. I am one of five thousand whom Jesus fed. I am my wife’s clean sock wearer. I am the beneficiary of the miracle of love.

It’s hard for me to imagine what possesses a woman to love at that depth and with such consistency. Could it have be Jesus in her? 

That was then. 

Four years ago, my dear wife was in the oncology ward receiving chemotherapy for acute myloid leukemia. She could no longer do my socks, so other angels picked up the task. Our older children moved into my home to care for the younger ones, allowing me to spend those many days in the hospital with Adonica. Clean socks still showed up each morning in my sock drawer. Our grown kids did my laundry, even though they were busy with their own active lives, children, and jobs. 

It's still hard for me to comprehend this type of love. What possessed my family to love like this? Was it Jesus in them? 

Today I do my own socks. I miss the magical days when clean socks appeared in my drawer without my help. I miss the woman who was living evidence of the presence of Jesus. Now I must love others in deed and in truth,” just like I have been loved. There are plenty of people with dirty socks who could benefit from the miracle of Jesus in me.  

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

"Cold Pricklies and Warm Fuzzies"

1st John 2.24, 27d “The Message”

“Stay with what you heard from the beginning, the original message. Let it sink into your life. If what you heard from the beginning lives deeply in you, you will live deeply in both Son and Father.”

“Live deeply in what you were taught.


I’m having some personal difficulty with 1st John. The book seems too ‘black and white.’ John speaks of light and darkness, truth-tellers and liars, Christ and the anti-Christ. You either love your brother or you hate him.  

“The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”  
1st John 2.10-11 NASU

When it comes to human relationships, is there not something in between love and hate? To my knowledge, I don’t hate anyone, but there are some people I don’t like very much. I have no opportunity to display love toward them because they avoid me in the same way I do them. Does this constitute hatred toward my “brother” and walking “in the darkness”? I hope not. Some people don’t mix well with me. We are like oil and water.

I wish I got along with everyone and, for the most part, I do. I have great relationships with family, clients, and neighbors. But there are those few who, like ‘flies in the ointment,’ ruin my otherwise flawless compatibility record. These detractors prove I am not the “World’s Most Congenial Guy.”

Oddly many of them, like me, are professing believers and active church goers. I don’t get it. When I am around these people I receive no ‘warm fuzzies,’ only ‘cold pricklies.’ Why won’t Jesus wipe away all differences and help us achieve the unity He promised and commanded? Am I doing something wrong? Are they the bad guys? Or, is there an explanation that, for the moment, eludes me?

Only one thing consistently gives me the warm fuzzy feeling… “the original message” of the gospel of Jesus Christ. When I “let it sink into my life” I feel better, more confident of His calling and love. When I press into Jesus and the truths of the Bible, I experience the personal benefits of living “deeply in both the Son and the Father.” To “live deeply in what I was taught” when I first met the Lord nearly  years ago brings an inner joy and peace that cannot be shaken. Living deeply for Christ is the only response that makes sense of the cold prickly people I know.

I will try to love them, but when I fail, and fail I will, Jesus will have to sort it out for me later.

“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”  
1st John 2.1 ESV
_________________

Hugging cactus from webcomic "A Simple Apology" by Mark Gleim.

Monday, November 19, 2018

"Start Using Bad Words"

1st John 1.8-9 NASU

If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 

If  we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

When I was a boy, my dad and little brother and I faithfully performed the ritual of “confession” every Saturday night in preparation for Mass the following day. Revealing my sins to a priest in a dark booth apparently absolved me of all past wrongdoing, granting me clearance to receive the sacrament of holy communion on Sunday. I was required to recite a few “Hail Marys” and an “Our Father” or two and, after completing my penance, could leave the sanctuary free from sin. 

Does this sound ridiculous? Did this weekend ritual truly cleanse my soul? As silly as it now seems, I then believed it did and I always felt better after confession.

Sin. What an ugly, unpopular, little word. Except for many Roman Catholics (who discuss their personal sins with a priest on Saturday night) or certain Protestants (who willingly hear of their sins from the pulpit on Sunday morning), people will not tolerate the subject. The concept of “sin” is offensive to progressive thinkers and never used in polite conversation. The very word is nearly unspeakable and banned to the ‘island of forbidden subject matter’ along with other very bad words like “guilt,” “holy,” “Jesus,” and “discipline.”

Sin, however, is a reality, whether we accept it or not. All of us have some of it residing in the dark crevices of our souls. John said if we deny it we are self-deceived. He also assured Christ-followers that “the blood of Jesus… cleanses us from all sin” (1st John 1.7), a reality which may be ours through the regular practice of humble confession. 

I probably felt better on Saturday nights for a reason.  

Friday, November 16, 2018

"How Unlike God am I"

2nd Peter 3.8-9 “The Message” 

Don’t overlook the obvious here, friends. With God, one day is as good as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day

God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. 

He’s giving everyone space and time to change.”

Time is of no consequence to the Lord. He existed forever and is without beginning or end. God “was, and is, and is to come” (Revelation 4.8b). When you’ve been around that long, patience is a given. God is not slow. Rather, God is longsuffering and patient. Time means nothing to it’s Creator for whom “a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”

How unlike God am I. I’m much faster! Quick to pass judgment, instant in decisions, always in a hurry, and constant with worry. I fear time is slipping away and I have none to waste. I think like John Mayer: “Stop this train; I want to get off and go home again... So scared of getting older. I'm only good at being young.” [1]  God does not share this concern with me. 

I make rapid judgments. I size up situations in a flash and quickly compartmentalize persons I meet. I’m a ‘pigeon hole’ specialist!

God is not like that. I’m more likely to come to a conclusion than contemplate a condition. But God is in no hurry to bring any matter to conclusion. He could unleash His power upon the earth and usher in Christ’s return right now. Apparently He does not wish to do so. According to the Bible, God is actually “restraining himself” and “holding back the End.” He loves His creation and wants to allow as much “space and time” as possible for His precious, rebellious children to repent.

“For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,”
declares the Lord God. “Therefore, repent and live.”
Ezekiel 18.32 NASU

If God gives “everyone space and time to change,” then so should I. If I intend to be godly, as He commands, I must incorporate some of His attributes in my interaction with fellow humans. Apparently, like patience, self-restraint is a virtue. “Space and time” may be the kindest gift I offer. When I come to ‘the end of my rope’ I prove again how unlike God I am. I can still throw a tantrum, lose my cool, ‘burn a bridge,’ or inwardly scream: “That’s it! I’ve had it. Enough is enough!

Next time I feel stressed, I hope to try something different... something less Davely and more Godly like “holding back the End” of my rope and “giving everyone space and time to change.”
________________[1] "Stop This Train," from John Mayer's 2006, third studio album, Continuum, a four times Platinum-seller. 

Thursday, November 15, 2018

"Master"

2nd Peter 2.19b NAS 

“…for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.”

A man is enslaved to that which he cannot stop himself from doing or thinking. He is a slave to his addictions.

“…for if they are addicted to 
corruption – and they are – 
they’re enslaved.”
2nd Peter 2.19b “The Message”

There are many varieties of addictions. All of them are insidious and seem harmless at first. Even when the addict is fully overcome by his drug of choice, he may not recognize his sorry plight. The impact of his condition is gradual, relentless, and very real. Others see it but he denies it. He is deceived by the lure of sin and his fascination with its false promise of happiness.

There’s a hole in the addict’s heart and he is desperate to find enough meaning to plug it. He escapes often into an artificial, fleeting comfort offered by his cruel master. His vision is clouded by temporary relief from the pain of his sad existence. His judgment is impaired and yet he remains resourceful enough to develop an intricate system of lies and cover-ups. His excuses and self-validations do not work. Everyone who matters soon learns the truth. Even the sinner becomes aware of his imminent demise.

In lucid moments, the addict may express (and truly feel) a sorrow resembling repentance. But he possesses neither the courage nor humility to walk away from the grip of sin and its medicating power. The prodigal son has not yet ‘hit bottom’ in the pigpen of his own making. It may take another divorce, job loss, car wreck, or treatment center to get his attention, or he may never come to his senses.

Are you that man? It’s not too late. It’s never too late. Peter was that man. He was “overcome” by shame, hopelessness, and despair on the day he denied Christ. He was “enslaved” by the bondage of his addictions until he exchanged one master for another...

“This letter is from Simon Peter, a slave… of Jesus Christ.”
2nd Peter 1.1 NLT

Slavery to Christ is freedom from self. He who proclaimed “release to the captives” (Luke 4.18) sets us free from the private hell of our secret addictions.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

"I'm Glad Peter Kept a Journal"

The following is a phrase-by-phrase look at 2nd Peter 1.12-15 in the New American Standard version of the Bible…

“Therefore, I will always
be ready to remind you
of these things,”

Peter was clear about his calling…
  • Its duration: “always”
  • Its content: “these things” (see preceding verses 4-11)
  • Its purpose: “to remind”
“even though you already know them, and have been
established in the truth which is present with you.”
 
Peter understood his audience already heard, believed, and put into practice the truth about Jesus. Nevertheless, he was compelled to tell them again.

“I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling,”

Peter grasped his own mortality. Because his death meant the end of his ministry, Peter was all the more committed to use his remaining life and breath to promote the gospel.

“to stir you up by way of reminder,”
 
Reminding Christians of what they already knew would increase their enthusiasm and re-ignite their passion so they could boldly carry out the mission after Peter’s death.

“knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our 
Lord Jesus Christ has 
made clear to me.”

Peter knew that life is fleeting and earthly existence is finite. It was imperative for the apostle, and all of us, to take full advantage of the short time remaining to faithfully serve the body of Christ.

“And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able 
to call these things to mind.”

Besides preaching the word, Peter had the foresight to write the word. He knew the message of Christ he proclaimed was timeless. Peter’s written record endures for  the benefit of future generations of believers.  

Peter knew nothing of blogs, web sites, the internet, email, social networks, texting, and virtual communities. Yet, right in this moment, approximately one thousand, nine hundred and fifty-two years later, you and I are benefiting from Peter’s words exactly as he imagined.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

"Redundant Systems"

1st Peter 5.5b-7 NIV

“All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”


The theme of humility appears everywhere in Scripture. James echoes Peter’s warning:

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble...
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
James 4.6, 10

The humility theme is more than just a little redundant in the Bible. Both Peter and James quote Solomon who first recorded the saying nearly 1,000 years before Christ...

“He mocks proud mockers but give grace to the humble.”
“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Solomon, Proverbs 3.34; 16.18

And Solomon was alluding to his father David’s teaching...
 

“Though the Lord is on high, he looks upon the lowly,
but the proud he knows from afar.”
David, Psalm 138.6

Redundancy is a systems precautionary measure. Modern gas valves, scuba tanks, and parachutes all use redundant systems. No one wants to blow up, run out of air, or fall to their death. Redundancies are introduced to insure the user’s safety in the event of an early first system failure.

Perhaps God is redundant on the “humility” theme for a good reason. He knows how cocky we can be after a little success. Often, and for no good reason, I fail to be humble. I must take extra precautions and make special note of the redundant instructions found throughout the Divine User’s Manual…

“Pride goes before… a fall.”
“Clothe yourselves with humility.”
“Humble yourselves… under God’s mighty hand.”
“God gives grace to the humble.”

Monday, November 12, 2018

"Keep Your 'I Love You's' Up to Date"

1st Pet 4.7-8 NIV

The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

Peter wrote to first century Christians in Asia Minor [1] to prepare them for the suffering they were likely to endure by the hand of the brutal and demented Nero during a time of political upheaval in Rome. Christians became scapegoats for all that was wrong with the empire. “The end of all things” associated with the return of Christ did not occur during Peter’s lifetime. The second coming of Jesus has yet to happen nearly twenty centuries later. While “near” may sound closer than two thousand years, God’s perspective on time is radically different than ours:

“But don't forget this, dear friends, that a day or a thousand years
from now is like tomorrow to the Lord. He isn't really being slow about his
promised return, even though it sometimes seems that way.
2nd Peter 3.8-9 The Living Bible

Christ will return and “the end of all things is near” as God measures ‘nearness.’

“The end of all things is near,” however, my personal end may be even more near. I may only have a few decades of life on earth left. Perhaps only a few minutes. My days on earth are numbered. Like the timing of Christ’s return [2], the “day or hour” of my own demise remains a mystery to me. I only know that I will die [3] and that, in the light of eternity, “the end of all things [for me] is [very] near.” All human beings can state most assuredly with Jeremiah and the people of Israel during their time of captivity in Babylon:

“Our end was near, our days were numbered, for our end had come.”
Lamentations 4.18b New International Version

Perhaps the most important aspect of my life is the relationships I am privileged to enjoy. They mean everything to me. I could not survive without my family, friends, business contacts, fellow believers, neighbors, and local church. I need people, and now that my wife is in heaven, I need my human community more than ever before. God designed it that way. I have made and received commitments from many of these people in the form of contracts for business, certificates of membership, and in the case of my dear, deceased wife, a license for marriage. Most of my relationships (even those few defined by written agreements) were, and continue to be, held together because of love, trust, and good will. I intend to do my part to keep it that way.

About thirty-six years ago Ken Blanchard wrote a popular book entitled The One-Minute Manager and coined the phrase “Keep your ‘I love you’s’ up to date.” I shall never forgot that. Life is too short not to keep your “I love you’s” up to date...

The end of all things is near. Therefore… love each other deeply...”

Every relationship will someday end. I will not be married in heaven. In a few years we’ll all be gone and our children will run the planet. In a few years after that, they’ll be dead and the world will be under the management of people not yet conceived! No one will remember me then.

In the meantime, all that really matters is to love the people together with whom I am called to share this very short space of time on earth.

________________

The black and white image of "I Love You" in sign language is from LatinaGirl9519 on PhotoBucket.

[1] Asia Minor includes the areas of modern day Greece, Albania, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and Turkey. These areas hosted many young churches started by Paul and other apostles and would become the likely target of Nero’s persecution expanding south and east from his headquarters in Rome during the latter half of the first century.

[2] Matthew 24.36; 25.13 and parallel passage in Mark 13.32.

[3] “…it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Heb 9:27 NKJV).

Friday, November 09, 2018

"Sacramental Living"

1st Peter 3.20-21 NASU

“…in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark,… eight persons, were brought safely through the water. Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you – not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience – through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,”
  
There are two sacraments in the Reformed Church tradition: Baptism and Communion. A sacrament may be defined as an outward display of an inward reality. Baptism itself saves no one. However, a person who has truly encountered the risen Christ enters the waters of baptism or partakes in the Lord’s Supper as an outward and public demonstration of their inward faith. Jesus is alive and He lives in me... that truth makes all the difference!

Because He is alive my participation in the sacraments transcends mere ritualism. I do not robotically go through the rote motions of meaninless tradition. Rather, I am proclaiming before “God and all these witnesses” my belief in a Savior who actually lives!

Roman Catholic theology includes seven sacraments: Baptism, Communion (Eucharist), Reconciliation (Penance, Confession), Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders (Ordination for the Priesthood), and Anointing of the Sick (Last Rites, Extreme Unction). Is it possible to take sacramental theology even a step beyond the Catholics? Could any faith-inspired action be considered a sacrament?

Clearly, it is not the sacramental act that saves you. That “baptism now saves you” means so much more than the outward “removal of dirt.”  A sacrament does not carry magical powers to create inward change. It has meaning only because of the operative power of God’s grace through the sacrament. Getting baptized, saying confession, choosing celibacy, or any other sincere sacrifice or good deed at all… none of that guarantees a home for me in heaven. Only the death and resurrection of Jesus makes eternal salvation and Christ-like behavior a possibility for me. When I walk into the waters of baptism (as I did nearly fifty years ago) or take the communion bread and cup (as I do weekly), I receive an impartation of the grace of God to do the work of God through faith in the Son of God.


“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, 
it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.” 

Ephesians 2.8-9 NASB

While I do not plan to partake of an ‘official’ sacrament today, I hope to exhibit outwardly the truth of Christ in me. When I look back on this day sixteen hours from now, I will want to know I lived it sacramentally. 

Thursday, November 08, 2018

"Being a Good Servant"

1st Peter 2.20b “The Message”

“But if you’re treated badly for good behavior and continue in spite of it to be a good servant, that is what counts with God.”

Our service to God is ultimately for God alone. We play to an audience of One. It’s Him we must please. Him alone. Those who make it their ambition to please men fall into a trap.

“The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.”
Proverbs 29.25 NKJV

People pleasers can never perform to the level of people’s expectations and are left disappointed and bitter. Your service to God stands alone without regard for humam approval. You do not intentionally seek to antagonize others, but place your focus where it belongs… on being “a good servant” of Jesus Christ, no matter the cost. Some will offer their support. Many will not. Most will not even notice and a few may even oppose and criticize you. Rejoice when this occurs for so “they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Jesus, Matthew 5.12b). “Let your light shine” anyway (Jesus, Matthew 5.16a).

Do not be concerned about what others may think or do or say. Ask yourself one question at every point of decision: “Will this action please God?” Be honest. If it will, then go forth with uncommon confidence and total abandon. 


“We make it our aim to please him,...” 
2nd Corinthians 5.9 ESV

“…brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to 
please God, as in fact you are living.” 
1st Thessalonians 4.1b NIV 2011

Choose to live outside yourself and beyond those around you. Be a leader. Cast your net in “the deep water” (Luke 5.4). Get in over your head. Place yourself in a position where your only option is to trust God. Prepare to suffer for the cause. Take a little abuse for Jesus. You will have detractors. Ignore them and “be a good servant” anyway.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

"How Hard Can That Be?"

1st Peter 1.17b NAS

“…conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth.”


I am intrigued by the phrase “the time of your stay on earth.” The verse implies life (as we know it) will come to an end. My life had its beginning approximately nine months prior to 3:04 a.m. on October 6, 1952 in Denison, Texas. My parents were excited to bring me into this world as my birth announcement suggests...

Scriven and Scriven present
the Scriven Deluxe Model No. 1
Deluxe Features Include:
Two Lung Power Body
Scream Line
Free Squealing
Bawl Bearings
Knee Action
Changeable seat covers
Net Weight 7 lbs. 9 ½ oz.
The management wishes to announce
there will be no more models this year!

That was the beginning of “the time of [my] stay on earth.” Exactly eight years ago, on November 3rd, 2010, I knelt by my mother’s hospice bedside and whispered in her ear, “Go be with Jesus. Go be with Dad.” Then I prayed, “Oh Jesus, receive my mom into heaven.” Mom died, and that was the end to “the time of [her] stay on earth.”

I watched my precious wife take her last breath at 12:14 p.m. on August 30th, 2015. I fell on her lifeless body and wept. She was my best friend and the greatest human I have ever known. Adonica died, and that was the end to “the time of [her] stay on earth.”

Like my all my ancestors, grandparents, Mom and Dad, and wife, my life is just an eensy-weensy speck on eternity’s continuum. I am almost unnoticeable and certainly forgettable. No one will think or speak of me or find any evidence of my existence a generation or two after I’m gone. I’m a singular, tiny ‘blip’ on the EKG screen of life. As James once said:

“You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”
James 4.14b NAS

My family and I traveled to Hawaii in January 2006 and thoroughly enjoyed our stay with Resort Quest at Papakea in Maui. We checked in on a Monday and left on a Tuesday one week later. In the broad scope of our lives, that week will play a very small role. Its memory is swallowed up by the 2,767 weeks of my life preceding vacation week and the several thousand that will hopefully follow.

Similarly, my entire life is virtually lost in the infinite volume of eternity. I checked into Hotel Earth and I will definitely check out. There’s a beginning and an end to “the time of [my] stay on earth.” Thankfully, God is a big God. He is “intimately acquainted with all my ways” (Psalm 139.3b). He will remember me long after I vanish from this planet. He even remembered who I was long before I arrived here. God actually foreknew me (Romans 8.29; 11.2); that is, He knew the exact number of hairs on my head today trillions of light years before He created the world I live in. God’s knowledge of me; well, it’s incomprehensible,  unimaginable!

There’s a beginning and an end to “the time of your stay on earth.” I knew nothing of the first half of eternity. I wasn’t there. I only existed as a thought in the mind of Christ. However, I will enjoy the second half with Jesus forever and ever. He asks very little of me…

“…you should conduct yourselves with true reverence throughout the time
of your temporary residence (on the earth, whether long or short).”
1st Peter 1.7 The Amplified Bible

In the light of eternity and with the power and presence of Jesus living within me… how hard can that be?

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

"The Paperboy"

James 5.4 NASB

“Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.”

My first real job was a paper route when I was fourteen years old. I delivered the daily and Sunday Seattle Post Intelligencer picking up my stack of newspapers at 5:00 a.m. each dark morning in front of Gov Mart Bazaar at NE 130th and Aurora Avenue. In those days it was not enough to deliver the paper. The aspiring young business man had to “collect” as well. At the end of the month I would retrace my paper route steps in the afternoons and knock on every customer’s door. “Hi. I’m here to collect for the P.I.”

Most people paid me so I could cover my newspaper charges and keep a couple of bucks for myself. Occasionally, however, a voice from the back of the apartment bellowed, “Who is it?” “It’s the paperboy. He’s here to collect.” Then, a kick-to-the-stomach with the dreaded words: “Tell him to come back tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow” never came for some of these people. Oh, I’d come back “tomorrow” and the next day, and the day after that. But the guy with the money wasn’t home, pretended not to be, didn’t answer the door, or moved away forgetting to cancel the paper and pay me. That hurt. I made a promise and kept it religiously for the past fifty-two years. I vowed I would NEVER send a paperboy away empty handed when he came to “collect.” I’d borrow the money from a neighbor if I had to, but no paperboy would EVER have to return to my home to get his money.

Paperboys don’t come by anymore. I used to pay for the Oregonian with an automated check online and the simple push of a computer button, just like almost every other bill. But the memory of the income I deserved and never received helped shape my attitude and behavior toward all vendors, business people, employees, and contractors.

“A laborer is worthy of his wages.”
Jesus, Luke 10.7

Questions come to mind. Am I current? Or, have I withheld what is rightly deserved? The Bible says, “Owe no one anything, except to love each other (Romans 13.8 ESV). In the name of Jesus and His love, do I owe someone...
  • a smile?
  • an apology?
  • a phone call?
  • a return email?
  • a date?
  • some money?
  • quality time?
  • an explanation?
  • a cup of coffee?
  • a thank you?
  • a kiss?
  • an affirmation?
  • a warm embrace?
  • a listening ear?
  • a note card or letter?
  • a favor?
  • some public recognition?
  • a small chore?
  • a tool I borrowed?
  • a promise I forgot to keep?
Did I send them away when they tried to “collect?” The Bible makes a personal guarantee…

“…the pay… which has been withheld by you, cries out against you;
and the outcry… has reached the ears of the Lord…”

There’s only way to silence their outcry and put a smile back on God’s face. In the name of Jesus and for the love of God... pay what you owe.

Monday, November 05, 2018

"The Waiting Room"

James 4.10 NKJV

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”

There are many things I want but even when I work hard to obtain them, they elude my grasp. I feel disappointed and angry. I may even blame others whom I perceive to be obstacles in my path toward the acquisition of these things.

I do not know why I cannot have everything I want. I often place my desires on the altar and God freely returns most of them to me. He seems to approve and even encourage my pursuit of fulfillment. But somehow some of my most cherished desires remain just beyond my reach. I pray but receive not, in spite of promises the Bible makes:

“…ye have not, because ye ask not.
James 4.26 KJV

Are my motives in question?

“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong
motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
James 4.3 NIV

I ask God to shed light on the motives of my heart. When my motives seem self-serving, I try to let my desires go. That’s not easy for me.

I have heard God answers prayers in three ways… Yes, No, and Wait. The third answer is the most difficult for me. If God says “Yes,” I rejoice. When He says “No,” I can usually let it go. But when God says “Wait” or (even worse) “Yes and wait,” I have no other option. I am thrust into the tension between promise and fulfillment. I am required to do what I dislike... sit in Dr. God’s waiting room until the Great Physician is ready to see me!

Waiting is a matter of humility. Like a demanding child, I want what I want... and I want it now. But when Jesus says “Wait,” bowing to His will and forsaking my own is painful. “Waiting” demands humbleness of heart and inner resolve not to take matters into my own hands. Trusting Him to fulfill His promise in His way and in His time is the essence of the humility to which I am called. Learning humility may be more important than all the other things I think I want.

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”

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I found these symbols at the AIGA website. AIGA was founded in 1914 as a professional association for design (http://www.aiga.org/). They are the universal symbols for men's bathroom and waiting room.