Friday, May 17, 2013

What Do I Do With This Cross?

I was wandering around my home trying to figure out what to do with this cross.   My daughter had given me a beautiful wood and metal cross at Christmas.   Christmas had come and gone... several months ago.  

It was way past time to find the perfect spot for it in my home.

I carried it around with me to every room.   I tried it in an empty corner... or on a wall next to a picture.  After about 30  minutes of going in circles in my house holding this beautiful cross in my hands, I finally found the perfect spot.

Yes, the cross has become a decoration.   They are so beautiful!   We hang them on our walls, set them on our tables as a centerpiece, wear them around our necks, on our wrists, on our feet.   They sparkle and shine as jewelry.   They are painted and decorated gloriously!

For quite a while, this has bothered me.    The symbol of Jesus' sacrifice...  the cross which is an instrument of torture and death has been turned into a decoration, an ornament.

I cringe to see a cross necklace around the neck of someone and hear foul language slip from their lips or see unholy actions in their day to day lives.

Profane..  that's what it is....  blasphemous.   

What is that old saying?  "Point a finger at someone and four fingers are pointing back at you."

The question of what to do with The Cross is asked.   Jesus said
"take up your cross and follow Me".      

He didn't say 'take up His cross'.  He said 'take up yours'.   Mine.  My cross.  

Some of us may have a hard time figuring out just what is our cross actually anyway?  Some of us think that our cross is the life that we live, the joy and hardships we go through along the way.  I've heard people say "Oh, it's just my cross to bear" when something goes wrong in their life. 

Think about it.   Jesus' entire life and ministry was  His cross.   His earthly ministry culminated in His death.

It's what He was put here to do.

I have come to determine that my cross is not the life I live.   My cross is the life of Jesus in me.  My cross is the ministry of lifting up and encouraging others as I walk with Jesus.

My cross is not what has gone wrong.  It is the only thing that is right.

It is what I was put here to do.

That is the mission that He has entrusted to me.  Yet it is not my mission.  It is His.

Sometimes it is not easy to be encouraging.  It is not easy to be like Jesus.   Especially when I am not " feeling " it.   Especially when I think that I am the one that needs to be lifted up and encouraged.

Those are the times that I am trying to live 'my' life.  I want to be put on display, praised, to be the center of attention, a decoration in the perfect spot that pleases the eye and enhances.   I, me, my, mine.

In my thinking, that attitude is just as bad as wearing a beautiful diamond cross around my neck and blaspheming God with my words and actions. 

The "me" attitude profanes what Jesus did for me.   I might as well trample on Him with my perfectly pedicured flip flopped feet that are decorated with those pretty little rhinestone crosses.

Jesus had times when he was not "feeling" it.   The night before His crucifixion he prayed "take this cup from me".... but then He said  "nevertheless."

Nevertheless.   That is an entire lifetime right there.  An entire mission or ministry.  Nevertheless.
It didn't matter how Jesus felt at that time.  What  mattered is that He chose to do the will of the Father regardless of what it cost Him.

I confess... it seems I have more of  the "me" life in me than I do of Jesus.   If I am filled with me, there is no room for Jesus. 

I want to have a "nevertheless" life.  A life where Jesus is the center of attention, the beautiful decoration and the focal point; what people see when they look my direction. A life where it doesn't matter what I want but I count the cost and say "Nevertheless, not my will... not my life... not my idea or desire... but Yours, Lord."

Now that's the perfect spot for my cross. 

"...for you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God."  (Colossians 3:3)

"Oh the wonderful cross.  Oh the wonderful cross.
Bids me come and die and find that I may truly live."

Precious and beautiful holy Father, please help me to stay hidden in You and live the life of nevertheless... crucified with You.   Amen.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Smoke of Worship

How do I worship You O God
Through the fog of praise
And vague understandings?
My mind cannot conjure the image of You,
Though Your Spirit within swells joy at Your Name.
You are elusive and shaded from vision,
Yet one in spirit and love and truth.
Even covered by the smoke of worship
The weight of Your righteousness is crushing,
Breaking the shields covering my unbearable truth,
My face unable to hide from You.
Yet the balm of Christ’s blood covers
And You claim me as Your own.
One day… one day the haze and fog of smoke …gone.
One day… one day to know as I am known.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Who Turned Out the Lights?

Don’t you hate it when the electricity goes off and you are in the dark?

You scramble to light a candle, or feel your way through the dark to that multi-purpose drawer that holds the flashlight.   Of course, once you find it amongst all the other gadgets, tools and junk that has accumulated over the years, the flashlight usually has dead batteries and you are still in the dark.  

Pitch black.   Can’t see your hand in front of your face.   Dark.

I much prefer light.

God is light.

Darkness is sin.

So why would we want to sin?    Why would we  want to walk in the dark?  You can’t see where to put your feet.  You can’t see what is in front of you.   You stumble around.  So it is with sinning.

We may not like it, but we are all born in sin and are natural darkness dwellers.   If we don’t admit to that one essential fact of our life, we can not know any truth.

Fortunately, there is a way out of the darkness.

But first:    Why would we try to deceive ourselves about our sin?

Well, for one thing, if I have convinced myself  that I am a good person and if I believe that I am not living in sin, then  there is no action required on my part.     I don’t have to change my life, my habits, or my activities.  I can carry on in a false state of safety and comfort.

It’s kind of like eating a gallon of  Blue Bell ice cream every day and thinking that I won’t gain weight (or get sick).    The  consequences of over indulging are there whether I want to believe it or not.   Before long I will have gained 20 pounds, and it is evident for all to see. 

Romans 8:1 says “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus...”

If we  admit to being a sinner, we are agreeing with God  that we deserve condemnation.  But “there is now no condemnation (from God) for those who are in Christ Jesus...”

So, who’s the liar?

If I say I am a Christian, yet live in the darkness of intentional sin, then I am living a lie.   My entire life is based on a lie. .   But, if I say I don’t sin, then that makes God the liar.

If God lies about one thing... anything..., then ALL of His word is a lie and it has no ‘place’ (no meaning, no power, no basis, no function) in our life.

I have good news for you.    God is not a liar.

He is not the flashlight with dead batteries.  He is the broad light of day.  He is the sun at its zenith!   He has absolutely nothing to do with darkness.   He is the complete opposite of dark.

Where does that put you?    He has provided a way, through Jesus to step out of the darkness of sin and into the light of His love.

If you are in the dark, who turned out the lights?  Here’s a clue:   God didn’t flip the switch.

Lord, I pray that your light will shine in the hearts of each of us to convict us of the darkness of sin in our lives, and to change us into reflections of You.   May we live in your light and truth.   In Jesus Christ’s precious and holy Name.  Amen.

1 John 1: 5-10   “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.    If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.    But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.    If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.   If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.”

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Seriously Stinky!

funny zombie photo: zombie m_dc516d49ad840be91c7a6c53852bbd46.gif

I have to tell you.  It's plain.  It's simple.   It is Truth.

"For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son  that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but  have everlasting life."  (John 3:16) 


Think about this.   God created the universe, the world and everything in it including the human race.   You can believe otherwise if you want to, but I fear that you will wake up the other side of the grave one day and be sadly mistaken.   Very sadly.

Anyway, on with my story...      Have you ever made anything?   Have you ever created anything?   I mean even a sandcastle, a house of cards, sewn a stitch, baked a cake, painted a picture, planted a seed?   If so, you will know what I mean when I say you feel like these things belong to you.   You feel like you can do whatever you want with them, but no one else better touch them.  You have a sense of ownership.

In the same way, God owns us.   He created us.   He can do what He wants with us and expect what He wants to expect  from us.  He can display us for all to see or He can toss us in the trash can as unacceptable.

Fortunately for us, He created us so that we could have a relationship with Him, not just be objects on a shelf or zombies without a brain.     He gave us the ability to choose.

Unlike zombies, we get to choose a lot of stuff.   We choose what we do, where we go, the clothes we wear, our friends, our lovers, our entertainment, our idols, our enemies, and so on.      Unfortunately, way back somewhere in time, the original non-zombie people that He had created chose wrong.  They chose to do something that He told them not to do.  

So, in order to rectify this wrong choice which, by the way, has affected every creature ever born, causing all of us to have this ugly putrescent stench which we can't get rid of no matter how much deodorant we use or perfume and cologne we spray on ourselves.    We kinda stink in God's nose like an old walking dead zombie as a matter of fact.  Ewwwwwww.... !   In order to rectify all of this, God sent His most precious possession.   He sent Himself in human form.  A human without the horrible death smell.

He sent Jesus as a sacrifice to die a tortuous death.   He did this because pouring out His own holy blood was the only thing that could remove the stench and make us acceptable to be near Him again.    He loves us so much He would die just so we could come near to Him again.    No, we are not zombies to Him.  We are precious to Him.

However, His sacrificed blood did not remove the choice.    We still have that.   We get to choose the type of relationship we are going to have with God.   Because we all have a relationship with Him either as a blood bought child or as one of His disobedient creations that refuses Him.  Remember?  He created us.. He can do what He wants because He owns us.     He even gave us some rules about having a good relationship with Him.      It is a list of  "Do This and Don't Do That" and all will be well with God.

So far none of us have been able to live a life without breaking most all the rules.  We should all be judged "Guilty - Life in jail - NO parole".

It is simple.   All we have to do is choose to believe in the Son and then we will have eternal life.    Of course, there is more to it than that.   Because if we choose to believe, then we also are choosing to believe everything that God said and did.    We can't believe part of it and not all of it.  We are choosing to believe that we MUST live our lives according to His rules.  We are choosing to believe that we contain a rotten death stench within that can not exist in God's presence unless He removes it.

So here's the gist of it:

  • We have a stench that God calls sin.

    There is nothing we can do about it.

    God sacrificed His only Son for us.  He spilt His holy blood.  

    In order to honor the sacrifice of Jesus, God says that those of us who choose to believe in Him are covered by that blood sacrifice and our stinking sin is forgiven.  (That means God forgets it  ever happened and we no longer are a horrible smell to Him.)

    In order to receive this forgiveness, we have to believe that Jesus is the Son of God and died for us    AND we have to ask God to forgive us and save us from separation from Him (also known as Hell)... He saves us from hell through the blood that Christ spilt.

    Then we have to choose to repent (turn away from) our old sinful stinky life and begin living a life that  pleases God.  (still not easy, but it is doable.)

    We have to keep on choosing God over our natural desire to be stinky.   This is a life long process.
Good news!   Once you choose Him, God will be right there with you every day...helping you.

This sounds like a lot of hooey to some of you.

To others it sounds like there is a hope for you after all.   Yay!!!!

I promise you.   Seriously!  This is unchangeable truth.

There is no escape from God.

You are not a brainless zombie dancing in a graveyard.

One way or the other, your relationship with Him is your choice.     

Monday, April 8, 2013


Today is an important day.   It is an appointed day.    It is the day that my new grandson will be born!!  It is a birth day!!

Colt Daniel Ellis will be brought into the world today.   His birth is not a random thing.    God has formed him and created him and appointed him to be born in this time and in this place.

The Lord of all creation has a purpose and a plan for this new little one.

My prayer, as for all my grandchildren, is that this child will seek the Lord and know Him.   Serve Him. Live in Him.   Fulfill the purpose for which he is created.

Welcome to the world, precious one.

"and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we also are His children.' "Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. "Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness  through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead."  (Acts 17: 26-31)

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sunrise in Ur

(Written Easter of 2009, Tallil AFB, Cob Adder, Iraq)

I am living on Tallil Air Force Base, Iraq.   It's Easter.  We had a sunrise service.

Services were held at the archaeological digs where they have excavated the home of Abraham in Ur of the Chaldees.  This site is right outside the gates of our base.

In a few weeks, the U.S. government is going to hand this piece of property back to the Iraqi government. The opportunity to tour the site will be gone. (at least for the time being) Possibly the opportunity to worship the LORD at this site will not occur again this side of Jesus' return.

How honored and humbled am I that of all the people in the world and all the people in time, I was allowed to participate in what could be a once in history event.

I know I haven't done anything to deserve such a thing. But I am so grateful that God included me.

There were maybe 200 people attending. A praise team was playing acoustic guitars and leading us in worship and then one of the chaplains stepped up to a podium, opened his Bible and read Holy Scripture there on those age old grounds. We sang again  and I could not keep from crying as I sang along with the others praising God in this place where God spoke to Abraham, "Go!"    

The chaplain stood on the reconstructed wall of the ancient home of Abraham and presented the Word of God.   Adam and  Eve.... to Noah... to Abraham.... all the way to Jesus.   He explained the covenant God made with Abraham and how we are a part of that covenant.  He shared about the resurrection of Jesus.

He asked us to respond to him when he proclaimed "He is risen!" and the congregation would loudly respond "HE IS RISEN INDEED!" It became the theme for his message.   It is the proclamation of Easter!   

The sun has risen in Ur.     God's covenant promise to Abraham continues to be fulfilled.

I can't explain how filled with the Holy Spirit I am... how He pounds in me with every breath.   What words could I use to describe such an incredible resurrection morning in which I am privileged to stand on this spiritually holy place?


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Other Side

"When Jesus saw the crowd around him He told his followers to go to the other side of the lake. Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you any place you go”.  Jesus said to him, “the foxes have holes to live in and the birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to rest his head.”    Another man, one of Jesus’ followers, said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”   But Jesus told him, “follow me and let the people who are dead bury their own dead.”  Matthew 8: 18-24

I want to follow Jesus to the other side of the lake, the other side of the world, the other side of this life.        He tells me to follow Him and let the things of this world take care of themselves.  He tells me that it is not easy... that every living creature has a place to call home except those who follow Him. 

However, if He tells me to go to the other side, then it means that I will get there.  It might not be an easy trip. I may not be able to see the road ahead of me.  There won't be any shortcut.   But there is no doubt about it.   I will get there.

"Let the dead bury their dead."

I am following Jesus Christ. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Dare I Sing?

Singer : Illustration of a Singing Smiley

Songs of joy and childish play filled my days when I was young.
I knew the Lord would laugh and smile at the songs that I had sung.

With the faith of a young heart and eyes that saw no pain,
I grew and flourished sweetly in the wonder of His name!

My eyes became distracted by the world and all its gain.
My heart, yes it did fracture  as death called loved ones by name.
Days grew dark and heart grew heavy as the years they tolled away..
Death, despair and then self pity  claimed my song of life each day.

Long I wandered in a valley broken heart on sharp edged path,
I knew that He was somewhere.
Yet my vale, it was so vast.

Where was joy and young heart laughter?
Where was faith and hope gone now?
Surely God must be gone playing with a child that pleased Him more..

Looking up and searching for Him
I recalled how it had been
when my song had brought Him pleasure.
Dare I sing to Him again?

Do you hear me, Lord my Savior? Do you see your wayward child?
Have I hope in Your forgiveness?  May I talk with You a while?

Yes! He answered!  Yes! He cried!  Yes! I love you! He replied!
Long you wandered brokenhearted  when I yearned to give you peace.
Come to Me now my Beloved...Lay your pain upon my breast.
With arms open wide as Heaven, with a heart that knows no bounds
My Lord wrapped His love around me,
This wandering sheep had now been found.

Lord! I thank You and I praise You! Forevermore I will proclaim!
Your love is lasting and eternal!  God of Love is Your wonderful Name!
Now I sing again with new joy
for He has touched my broken parts.
Made me new and everlasting.
Wrote His Name upon my heart!

Say What?

You can go to any hospital... any city... and find people in desperate physical need. Need for healing. Need for faith in something bigger than themselves.

Each of us probably knows someone in our circle of friends and family that have suffered from cancer,  heart problems,  disability, disease and on and on. They are seeking for a cure. Looking for answers to their pain.

Most likely we find even more in our circle that are crippled or diseased spiritually.   They are walking and talking, but they are lost.

"Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. Some men brought to him a paralytic lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, 'Take heart, son, your sins are forgiven.'   At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, 'This fellow is blaspheming!'  Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, 'Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say: "your sins are forgiven." or to say, " Get up and walk"?   But.. so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins...   Then he said to the paralytic, "Get up, take your mat and go home". And the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this they were filled with awe, and they praised God, who had given such authority to men."   (Matthew 9: 1-8)

Because of the faith of this man's friends and because of his obvious need, Jesus reached out to him. He offered forgiveness which was also the most immediate need of this man.  Without forgiveness, physical healing would not mean a thing.

Without Jesus and His forgiveness, we are dead and our bodies and brains just haven’t noticed yet.

Jesus realized that the "religious" would attack him for such audacity. These teachers of the law  that were looking on with judging and critical attitudes were Jewish. The Jewish people's life was ruled by the Old Testament Law handed down by Moses.  Ritual sacrifice was made to God for the forgiveness of sin at the proper place and time.    Only God could forgive sin.   No one  on earth .. no mortal man had the power to forgive sin.

These learned men did not recognize Jesus for who He is, and accused Him of  blaspheming God. They thought He had no authority to forgive sin.   They looked at each other and said "Say what?  This guy is either insane or he is deliberately profaning the LAW.  We gotta do something about that." 

To prove otherwise to them, Jesus  told them that he could read their minds and then He provided the physical healing.   Only then were these guys impressed.   They were finally in awe and praised God.

A healing miracle was okay with them, but the power to forgive sin went beyond their ability to believe. 

He asked the question "Which is easier?"    Jesus had every intention of healing this man physically, but He was attempting to show the authority and reality of God at work in a way that was new and probably a bit frightening to those in ‘power’.

Jesus had “authority” which means power.    “To exercise power” “to act on your own authority.. To have dominion”

To the One that spoke all of creation into being, healing a man's crippling disability was as easy as breathing.       Forgiving the same man of the sin  inherent in his nature took the torture and death and resurrection of the only Son of God.   Which was easier?

The Pharisees had no idea that their promised Messiah stood before them.

The paralytic's life was completely changed.

Just as we ‘know that we know’ that something has happened within us when we are saved, this man “knew that he knew”  something inside of him was different.   He had just been washed clean and pure by the God of all creation.    He probably wanted to jump up and shout Hallelujah!

However, just like so many of us that are saved, even though he had been forgiven he was still bound up in the physical crippling of this world.  It kept him nailed to the ground until Jesus spoke.

A new Christian, without instruction and help to grow, will easily become entangled in the ‘world’ that he was just saved from.

What the teachers of the Law could not see was that without the forgiveness of sin, even though the man was physically healed, he would still be spiritually paralyzed.

When Jesus forgave this man, he was saved at that instant. His life would never be the same. What happened in his spirit was far more important than the physical healing that came next. He was blessed over and above the teachers of the Law who simply witnessed a miracle and still did not understand what was going on before their very eyes.

Healing was simple for Jesus.  No problem for him.  But the order in which these things took place is important. This is about His authority.

Do we acknowledge His authority in our lives? His authority to forgive us?   If we don't forgive ourselves for things that the Lord has forgiven us already, then we are putting doubt on His authority and ability.

If God forgives, it is over and done with.    He wants us to live in His forgiveness, uncrippled any longer by our sin.

Living in His forgiveness also empowers us to walk in His grace and power in His kingdom.   We are no longer crippled by the sin that held us to this world.

How many times do we go to prayer asking for material or physical things? Lord.. please send a miracle... Lord please help me with my finances... Lord I really need for my kids to do right... Lord, please help me with this problem... These are physical needs and they are important to us and to God.

Unless we have met Jesus spiritually and have asked for and received His forgiveness.. asked Him to be our Savior, these physical things  that we think we need are irrelevant.   We are like the Pharisees, accepting the physical miracles but rejecting the spiritual victory.

We beg Jesus for things. Please meet my physical need... My earthly need.  We are so determined to provide for our physical body which will rot and die, and not too concerned at all about asking Him for spiritual things. Forgiveness, restoration, joy, peace, spiritual maturity, growth.

These are spiritual gifts that come from a relationship with God himself.   These are the things that will be with us for eternity.

Without these spiritual blessings, we are the paralytic.   Our bodies and our spirits dying and dead.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Duh? That's Radical

 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend  it.    (John 1:1-5)

Do we even begin to understand or comprehend who Jesus is. Who is this Word that is God?  Who is this being that set everything in motion and holds it all in place?

He is right there in front of us  speaking to us, shedding His light on us.. on our lives... our thinking.. and we can't seem to grasp the simplicity of His message.

In everything He says 'I love you.  My heart longs for you.  Please turn away from the darkness. Choose Me.  Live in my light.'    It is the age old truth and message of Jesus Christ:  Believe, Repent, Be Saved from Eternal Damnation in Hell.

What don't we 'get' about that?   

He created us with the ability to comprehend simple things, complicated things, imaginary genius concepts and more.

He put in us the longing for something more than the ordinary.. more than the darkness.

He is that 'more'.

It is that simple.      That 'big thing' that you have longed for all your life.  That 'thing' you can't quite put your finger on that seems to be missing.   That 'more' that you want for yourself and your family?    Jesus Christ is just that.

Let the light bulb over your head shine.    That genius idea that swirls around inside your mind.  Duh!?  He is it.

That aching inside of you that won't go away?   He can fill it with the light of His joy.

Don't hide in the darkness of incomprehension any more.

He is life.    He is the life that you have always longed for.

Don't shield yourself from it.   Don't spread some more sun screen to prevent it from affecting you.
Let Him shine brightly on you.    Believe in Jesus Christ and be saved from darkness.

Friday, March 1, 2013

What Do You??

"Let's go do something."
"Where do you wanna go?"
"I don't care.  Where do YOU wanna go?"
"It doesn't matter to me... whatever you want.."

Does this sound familiar?   It seems that we have this round robin conversation on a daily basis with family, friends, co-workers.    Nobody seems capable of just making a simple decision:   Let's do THIS.

You have a preference but don't voice  it.    Frustration sets in.   Aggravation follows.   Stagnation.    All those 'ations'  ....All because we don't make a decision.   We don't voice our true preference.

It's time to decide to decide.   What is important?   What do you want?  What do you want to do?   Who do you want to be?    Where do you want to go?

Shakespeare wrote "To be or not to be... that is the question."   I agree.    To be.   But not just to be.

We have preferences.    We must make a decision.       To be what we believe.   To do what we believe.   To live without compromise.   To choose.

"Choose this day whom you will serve.  As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."

That's a real choice.   A sound decision.    In choosing to serve the LORD, we choose love and life.

Okay, we choose love.    That means we actively and intentionally  love.   We love God.   We  love people.    We  love the life God has given to us.   We choose to love and to be content in whatever circumstance He places us and we choose to trust Him in it.

Making that choice and living by it curtails a lot of frustration, aggravation and stagnation in our lives.   In fact, making that decision enhances our entire life.   It is the only decision that gives us abundant life.  It gives us Kingdom of God life.    

Wow!   That's a lot of choices!   Now if I could just decide what's for dinner.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Hammer and Rock

One of my all time favorite comic book super heroes is Thor, the "god of Thunder".   The myths about him are just that...  Myths.   He's the Son of Zeus (the top god).  Brother of Loki (a half god turned to evil).   None of these mythical gods are real, although some Norsemen might disagree.  However, they do ring true in their tales of good versus evil.  A son of a god battling against an evil fallen foe.

Thor uses his hammer, Mjolnir, as a weapon against his enemy.  Mjolnir is capable of  controlling the weather, gives Thor the ability to fly and can cast objects into outer space.  These are a few of the hammer's abilities when wielded by Thor.  He flies into the conflict, swings his hammer, defeats the enemy and saves the day.    All in all, he has a pretty fearsome hammer and a lot of superhero swag.   Plus, for the ladies, he is a super 'hunk'.

In reality, there are all types of hammers besides Mjolnir:  carpenter hammers drive nails and break objects, sledgehammers are large and can apply a lot of force because of their size and weight.   They are used a lot in demolition.  There are rock picks used by geologists to split rocks open.  Who knows what might be inside?   Fossils, gemstones?   A judge uses a gavel to call  his court to order and to enforce the power & authority of the court.  Splitting mauls are used to split wood.  These were also called "Godevil" at one time.  Then there is the stonemason's hammer which is used to chip off edges and small pieces of stone.

Whew!   That's a lot of hammers and it doesn't even begin to list all the different kinds.

Several years ago I drove to Galveston to spend some time on the beach with God.    It was a painful time in my life.  I needed a retreat.

My beach was deserted on this New Year's Eve sunrise and I was alone with the sand and ocean and the wind.  Alone with God.   I walked at the edge of the world and talked with the God who reigns over all.

My beach was wet and the sand was packed.  It was bare of anything except for a few small pebbly seashells and one lonely rock.  I noticed the rock because it was the only one on the entire beach for as far as I could see.  It was a little larger than my fist.  As I picked it up, I noticed that it was black and shaped like a human heart.. not the fluffy cupid valentine hearts but like a real human heart.   

I held it in my hands for a while thinking about my life, my relationship with God, and the emotional condition of my own heart, which had become as black and as hard as that rock.   

What does all this have to do with Thor and his war hammer?    Nothing really.. except this verse in Jeremiah made me think of him and then of that day on the beach when God began to apply His hammer of love to my hardened heart.... my heart that already felt as though it had been cleaved in half by a "Godevil" splitting maul.

Does not my word burn like fire?" says the LORD. "Is it not like a mighty hammer that smashes a rock to pieces?   (Jeremiah 23:29)

No, my Father did not send a super hero like Thor to save the day and destroy the evil in my life.  He sent His  word.   His Word in the flesh.   His Son.  Jesus.

Again,  LISTEN to what the One and only God says.. "my WORD is like a mighty hammer that smashes a rock to pieces".

His Word alone can burn up the world and smash mountains and rocks into slivers of dust.  With a word He creates, and with a word He can destroy.

Mythical Thor and his war hammer pale in comparison to the God of all creation and the  world making... knee buckling... heart rending... terrifying  hammer of  His Word.

With the same word that He speaks creation or destruction,  He speaks love for his children.     That mighty hammer of His  burns like a fire in our spirit and is like a sledgehammer that crushes the stone that our hardened hearts have become.

He will use  any circumstance or any part of His creation to mold us and make us into the person that He intends for us to be.    He will allow pain, heartache, sickness, death, and destruction in our lives in order to bring us to the place where we acknowledge Him and His authority over us.

He will plead with you to turn away from sin and run to Him.   That is the best option.

But..If our hearts are hardened against Him, He will bring His hammer down.   If He was willing to almost completely crush His chosen people of Israel for turning from Him, do you think that He will be any more lenient to His blood bought children?

Maybe you  haven't turned from Him, but your heart has become like stone due to grief, bitterness, pain.   

It doesn't matter.   He does not want His children to be held captive by either emotion or  disobedience.    He is a jealous and vengeful guard over His children and He will do whatever it takes (no matter how difficult and painful for Him and for us).   Would you not do the same for your own child? 

He knows all about tough love.

He rights the wrongs in our lives and does battle against evil.  He doesn't need a super hero to do it for  Him.  

The initial crushing hammer blow is not the end.   Once the rock is cracked and broken, He begins to chisel away at the details, shaping and forming what was once hard, harsh and craggy into something smooth and pliable.  Something that can receive His design and be made useful.   He not so gently sculpts it into beauty.

If you feel like you are  being hammered, maybe God is trying to get your attention.   Talk with Him, turn to Him.  Be glad that He loves you so much that He can not leave you in your broken condition.   Let Him do His work.

It can be a painful process.   The end result is worth every blow.

I am glad that God has a well stocked arsenal.    It lets me know that He loves me and that He will do what it takes to change my heart and spirit and bring me close to Him... even if it takes some hammering away at my heart.   It also lets me know that He is willing and ready to go to battle for me or for any of His children.

He is the only super hero I need.

Post It Quote

Here's a quote from my friend, Ruben Raptor Lopez : "everything takes time, work, effort and TENACIOUS PERSEVERANCE."
Tenacious Perseverance.... I like that. Tenacious means "holding fast".    Perseverance means " steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement. OR 2. Theology.. continuance in a state ...of grace to the end, leading to eternal salvation.
How many of us exhibit tenacious perseverance in life? We set goals and give up on them. We make plans and get distracted or off track and don't accomplish what we plan.
We need to take a look at our selves. (I am preaching to myself here too...obviously) Look at our goals and plans and make a commitment to hold fast to them.
Where our relationship with God is concerned, we most definitely should persevere. It is what we are instructed to do. Hebrews 10:36 tells us "You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised." 
I believe we could say that the disciples tenaciously persevered in their mission and in their relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We should do no less. I don't want to miss out on the promise of God because I took my eyes off the goal and digressed from the plan He has for me.
Remember!!!!! TENACIOUS PERSEVERANCE!!! I should write that one down in great big block letters and post it on my forehead. :-)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What A Predicament!

The  lyrics below are from the soundtrack of  "Les Miserables".    As this classic story goes,   Jean Valjean has been hiding in the open for years.   His life is perfect until a man is found that is mistaken for  Valjean.  This innocent man is hauled to court to be dealt out the justice (or injustice) that was due Valjean.   And although Valjean has avoided the reckoning for years, and this is his opportunity to close the door on his past, he is tormented by the thought of an innocent stranger bearing his own punishment.

"He thinks that man is me. He knew him at a glance!
That stranger he has found This man could be my chance!
Why should I save his hide? Why should I right this wrong?
When I have come so far And struggled for so long?
If I speak, I am condemned. If I stay silent, I am damned!
I am the master of hundreds of workers. They all look to me.
How can I abandon them? How would they live If I am not free?
If I speak, I am condemned. If I stay silent, I am damned!

Who am I?

Can I condemn this man to slavery? Pretend I do not feel his agony?

This innocent who bears my face? Who goes to judgement in my place.

Who am I?

Can I conceal myself for evermore? Pretend I'm not the man I was before?

And must my name until I die

Be no more than an alibi?

Must I lie?

How can I ever face my fellow men? How can I ever face myself again?
My soul belongs to God, I know I made that bargain long ago
He gave me hope when hope was gone
He gave me strength to journey on
Who am I? Who am I?
I am Jean Valjean!

And so Javert, you see it's true

That man bears no more guilt than you!

Who am I?


Valjean's predicament is our own.   Hiding from our own personal death sentence, we struggle with an innocent man's punishment.   Only this innocent man is the Son of God.

Would that I should be so tormented and shamed by the thought of the innocent Jesus taking my place, bearing my death, my punishment, my justice.     Who Am I?   Why would He do such a thing?     It is done.  I can not undo it.   He was tortured, ridiculed, slain.  For me?     Who Am I that He would do such a thing?  

He voluntarily did all this for me.   It wasn't a mistake in identity.   It was purposeful, planned and carried out.   His death gives me freedom.   His death gives me life.    

Who Am I?    He says I am the redeemed, blood bought, child of God. 

Who Am I?  How can I live with what He has done?  Why did He do it?  I'm unworthy of salvation.  My sin is with no justification.

He says  "He who believes on Me will be saved."   He says "Your sin is forgiven.  Go and sin no more."

Who Am I?    I am forgiven, redeemed, adopted into the family of the one and only  gracious omnipotent God that is   "I AM".  I am created for the purpose of relationship with the Lord of all creation.  I am a mouthpiece that shouts the name of JESUS!

He doesn't imprison me and give me a number for identification.   He sets me free and names me with a name known only to Him and to me.  

Who am I?     I am the one that is asking "Are you living in condemnation?   Do you know Jesus or are you hiding from Him?  Who are YOU?"