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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




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


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