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January 9, 2018, 8:57 AM

Plain and Dry


Plain and dry is the way my wife orders her burgers.  No veggies, no cheese, no mustard, mayo, or ketchup.  This may seem to be a simple request but you’d be amazed at how often her burger is prepared incorrectly.  In a day and time where everything is about choices and add-ons, upgrades and extras it seems the simple things have become more difficult.  A phone that is used merely to talk and text is social status killer and trying to find one grows more difficult with each passing day.  I remember the first time I went into one of those famous coffee shops that offer the half-caff triple whip with a spin and a swirl.  I felt so lost and confused because all I wanted was a black coffee.  The basic principle of coffee was lost in all of the “extras.”  I get it, people want choices because it makes them feel in control and so they can create a product, whether it be coffee or a hamburger that fits their desire.  Even in churches, the power of the choice and accommodation of stylistic preference has led to a multiplicity of church services geared toward meeting the desire of the people (Last time I checked, worship was supposed to be focused on God and not the stylistic preference of people but that is another discussion for another time.)  This inundation of choices in everything from fast food to automobiles, from coffee to Bible translation has somewhat overcomplicated what should be pretty simple.  In Deuteronomy 30 God makes it simple.  He calls the people to worship Him alone with all of their heart and soul with the promise of blessings to come from doing so.  The alternative is to turn toward idols and false gods and receive the consequences that choice.  That is the basic choice every person is faced with in this life and it determines their eternal destiny.  To either choose life and blessings with God or death and curses without Him.  Have you made your choice? Are you living faithfully in that choice? If you hope to remain neutral and not decide on one view of God or the other, then you have already made your choice.  Choose life that is found only in salvation through Jesus Christ. 

Robert




January 2, 2018, 10:22 AM

Cube Wisdom


Recently my family has been in the midst of some struggles.  Disappointments, distractions, confusion, and circumstances have left us feeling helpless and frustrated.  The Christmas spirit was not as abundant this year as compared to years gone by.  The kids still had fun and we still enjoyed spending time together, but at the back of my mind there remained the current state of our circumstance and a constant irritation living just beneath the surface of my emotions.  I always take the week between Christmas and New Year’s off to spend time with the family and play with the toys the kids got for Christmas.  It just so happens that my son got two Rubik’s Cubes this year and he generously allowed me to play with one.  It was a sort of comfort because it captured my mind and caused me to be focused and intent on something besides the recent struggles.  It took me the whole week but I finally solved the cube (with the help of YouTube videos).  After solving the first one, it took only a few minutes to solve the second one.  The ease in solving the second cube came because I had learned not to be frustrated with pieces in the wrong spot or with the fact that it takes multiple twists and turns to move a piece one spot over.  I had been able to see that all of the seemingly random movements that appeared chaotic and out of order were working to get every piece into the correct place.  It simply took trusting in the process and understanding how it all worked together.  I had gone from trying to do it my way as a child by switching the stickers or popping the pieces off and putting them back in place to look like I had solved it, to learning the right way of doing it.  You see, it’s easy to get caught up in the chaos of life and its disappointments and frustrations and trying our way to fix things. However, the solution to the puzzle of living the abundant life is having the faith to know who’s hands are turning the pieces and trusting that He is working it all out for good, and having wisdom like Solomon to understand and discern the importance and necessity of each seemingly random and chaotic move. 

Robert




December 21, 2017, 9:07 AM

Idol Gifts


Christmas is said to be the most wonderful time of the year and for many, that is the case.  The holiday season brings uplifted spirits and kindness of heart toward strangers.  It thrusts excitement and anxious anticipation upon all those excited to see what gifts they will receive.  Speaking of gifts, it is this very topic that overwhelms and bewilders me each year.  Used to, I would go and shop for my wife and pick out what I thought was the perfect gift only to find out on Christmas morning that we didn’t share the same taste in clothes.  So now she will provide me a specific list of things with color and sizes included and I will choose from that list ONLY.  Kids have been a different story.  They have always been somewhat simple to buy gifts for.  They provide a list and Santa brings things from that list.  There was one year that we went way over the top in buying the kids gifts.  We tried to get them everything they asked for(except for what Santa brought) and then some hoping to get the perfect gift.  That Christmas day we expected to be a glorious praise-a-thon for mom and dad.  However, it was anything but glorious.  In seeking to find the gifts that would bring great joy and fulfillment we put the emphasis of Christmas on the wrong thing.  These inanimate items made from plastic, cloth, metal, and stone did nothing to warrant such high esteem that was placed on them.  They just sat there holding our hopes of satisfaction only to bring about utter disappointment.  Throughout the Bible, there are warnings given against idol worship and the consequences of doing so.  This Christmas let the season truly be about Jesus as the greatest gift in which all of our hopes resides rather than placing our hope of temporary fulfillment in objects made by human hands and composed of perishable materials that resemble idols.  Anything that takes the place of Christ in our hearts and lives has, at that point, become an idol. 

Robert




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


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