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December 11, 2017, 11:13 AM

Wax On, Wax Off

We have all had those seasons in life where it seems as if the world was crashing down around you and the first thought that crosses your mind each morning is, “What disaster is going to happen to me today?”  It’s in these times when we are either drawn closer to God or turn away from Him.  The perspective of the trials has much to do with our response.  In James’ letter (1:2-4), he tells his readers to consider the various trials of life as opportunities for rejoicing.  I don’t know about you but I don’t think I have ever celebrated losing a job, struggling financially, a sick child, personal attacks on Facebook, or any other myriads of struggles and persecutions for my faith.  These are some of the very types of things James says that we should rejoice over.  Not necessarily because they are happy times, but rather because we know that as followers of Christ they are preparing us, strengthening us, and maturing us in our faith.  In fact, James says that enduring these types of things can make us complete and not lacking anything if we will face them with the right spiritual attitude.  That attitude is one described as steadfastness and it must be allowed to have its full effect on us in order to accomplish its purpose in us.  Daniel-son had no idea why Mr. Miyagi wanted him to sand the floor, wax the car, paint the fence, stand in the ocean, balance on a boat, or stand on one leg at the top of a pole.  That is until he was able to understand the purpose of such things and understand the outcome they were working toward.  It may seem pointless to have to endure the “wax on, wax off” trials in life but know that they are preparing, training, and bringing you closer to being spiritually mature and complete with a faith in God that is not found to be lacking. 

Robert




December 6, 2017, 11:05 AM

Bullseye!

There is a story that tells of a man who would shoot arrows at the side of his barn.  One day, a passerby saw that the man seemed to have hit the very center of the bullseye of each target painted on the side of his barn.  The passerby commented on the accuracy of the shooter and how extraordinary a feat he had accomplished.  When asked by the passerby how he became such a good aim, he humbly replied that he first shot the arrows and only after that he would draw the target around where the arrow came to rest.  A definition of one of the words translated “sin” is “to miss the mark,” as in to miss the target.  Peter, in his first letter, reminds us of the target we are to aim for.  He calls followers to be holy as the Lord is Holy.  Anything other than perfect holiness is to miss the mark.  Obviously, we are all sinners and there is no way we will ever be able to be holy to the level of perfection as God.  Even the holiest human in all of history has found themselves to be missing the mark of perfect holiness.  So how do we correct this missing of the mark?  Well, since God sets the standard and it has been set from eternity past, we can’t simply move the target to accommodate our efforts.  God establishes the target and the directions of how to hit the target in His word.  The Scriptures are our training manual to know best how to hit the bullseye of perfection.  Just reading the manual isn’t enough, there is practice required as well.  The Word should impact our actions in a manner that hones our aim at perfection.  A person who studies the manual and practices what it says faithfully has a much higher probability of hitting the target than one who doesn’t.  Another way to increase the chance of hitting the bullseye is to simply move closer to the target.  If Christ is the example we are to follow and thus the target of perfection we are to aim for, then He is the one we need to move closer toward.  That is not done by legalistic religiosity, but by falling in love with Jesus.  Love motivates us to read His word and practice what it says causing a much-improved aim.  It is only by the grace of God and His gift of Salvation through Christ that anyone is able to find their arrow true to the mark. 

Robert




November 27, 2017, 11:24 AM

Fight, Finish, Keep

2 Timothy 4:6-8, are believed to be some of the very last words written by Paul recorded in this second letter to Timothy.  In these verses, he summarizes his life with three illustrations.  Let us look beyond the surface of these words to better understand what Paul meant by them.  The Greek word he used that is translated “fight” is where we get our English word “agony.” Paul describes this life as an agonizing battle.  Every true follower of Jesus understands that this life can, and often is a battle.  Paul description of the manner in which he anguished for the sake of the Gospel is translated “good” from the original Greek.  Another use of this same Greek word was “inspirational.”  Paul anguished in the fight in an inspirational manner that each believer is to be encouraged by.  Regardless of circumstance, Paul fought the good fight.  His words tell us that he finished the race.  The word used here for “finish” is the same word used by Christ when He called out from the cross, “It is finished!”  Christ completely fulfilled the plan and will of the Father when He completed the course set in place for the redemption of man.  Though there were many twists and turns along the course which Paul ran he continued obediently trusting in the will of the Father.  Similar to Christ’s life and death, the magnitude of Paul’s life and understanding of his suffering would not be fully known until after he was gone from this world.  We may not always know why we are on the course God has placed us on, but we can always trust in His will knowing obedience leads to a successful finish in the race.  The word translated “kept” means to guard something of great value.  Paul knew the tremendous value of faith in Jesus Christ.  He knew the crown of Righteousness he would receive on that Day.  So much so that he guarded it as a priceless treasure it did not allow anything of this world to take it from him.  Paul considered the things of this life worthless in comparison to a saving knowledge of  Jesus.  His faith was evidenced by his actions and was the key to his being able to fight an inspiring fight, while obediently running the race God had set before him.  Is this true for you and me? What will be said about me after I am gone?                                       (In Memory of Drew Davis)

Robert




November 14, 2017, 2:14 PM

Everything is Awesome!

Tis the season once again to be inundated with ads about the latest gadgets and toys that will make that special someone in your life overwhelmed with joy.  One of the most popular toys each year for many years running has been Legos.  When I was a kid, when we got Legos it was just a box of random pieces that you had to use your imagination to configure something amazing.  That’s not the case these days.  A person could easily spend $100 on a Lego set and make an amazing creation.  Fortunately, each set also comes with instructions to show how to build that particular set.  The popularity of Legos was heightened a few years ago with the release of the Lego Movie.  One of the catchy songs described how everything was awesome when everyone followed the same rules and was on the same team.  Some said this was a shot at organized religion, aka Christianity, that followed the instruction manual to the point of becoming boring and out of touch with reality.  There is a point to be made from the idea whether it is genuinely inferred or not.  In the same way that a particular Lego set will not turn out the way it’s supposed to unless you go by the instructions, God has given us His instructions to accomplish the best outcome for our lives.  When we deviate from that manual and begin to create things based on our needs, wants, and desires in life it never seems to turn out right.  God has given us instructions not only for this life but for eternal life and anything other than following those instructions is incorrect.  God’s Word tells us that there is one way to the Father and that is through the Son.  If a person doesn’t have the Son then they don’t have eternal life.  As a follower of Christ, I am commanded to lay down my life daily and follow the commands of God given in His manual- The Bible.  It’s only when we follow God’s instructions that everything is awesome.

Robert




November 7, 2017, 1:37 PM

No Fancy Words

I have no fancy words to offer or humorous stories to tell.  I confess that, due to recent events both in Sutherland and in my personal life, I am finding it difficult to wrap my mind around the reality we live in every day.  The most eloquent words fall short of providing comfort to those dealing with the loss of a loved one taken too soon.  I have to take inventory of the things spoken at such times and consider my belief in those words.  It is a tremendous struggle when a broken heart cries out desperately for a miracle while the spirit within prompts remembrance of, “Thy will be done.”  The struggle between flesh and spirit is brought to a crescendo.  This is where I have found myself and so I would offer to you these thoughts.  The wages of sin is death.  A part of that is having to live in a body that is futile and breaks down. One that can, and so often does become consumed by sickness and disease.  Sinfulness and depravity are not far from each other.  When someone who is totally depraved acts out in like manner as he is motivated by sinful nature, the consequences become catastrophic.  Sin entered into the world through a choice made by two people long ago, and the effects continue to ripple throughout our world.  God is holy, just, and righteous. He is the God of love.  Man has chosen to take God from schools, from the government, and shows like Saturday Night Live display how much of America feels about Him.  Our culture has told God to get out and then blames Him for all that goes wrong.  Friends, God is the only hope for our nation and it begins with honoring Him in our marriages, homes, churches, and communities.  I am reminded of Peter’s response when many had turned from following Jesus and Christ asked the disciples if they were going to leave also.  Our answer should be the same, especially in the face of difficult times.  Where else can we go but to God?  He is our only hope. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6fA35Ved-Y

Robert


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