Bacon Bush

I am trying my hand at gardening. I have grown flowers before but they are pretty easy. I have the most success with flowers that reseed themselves. Once you get them started just add water and stand back.

This year I am venturing into growing vegetables. I did a few last year, in a raised bed. this year I added another raised bed and widened a flower bed. I planted various seeds of this and that. What I am hoping will come up is a bacon bush. I love bacon. If I hope and dream and wish hard enough, maybe this fall I will be harvesting bacon.

Okay, I’m being silly. Bacon doesn’t grow from plants. It is silly and childish to think that a seed from one plant will grow into anything other than the parent plant. I can’t plant zucchini seed and expect anything other than a zucchini plant to grow up from that seed.

The apostle Paul tells followers of Jesus that our behavior is like planting seeds. It is foolish to behave badly and expect good to come of it. It is like planting zucchini seed and expecting bacon to grow.

“Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.”
Galatians 6:7-10 – NLT

I think that last part should become my life motto, “whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.”

Do good to everyone. It doesn’t seem to have any qualifications for who or whom(?) I am to do good to. Everyone is very broad and inclusive. Could this verse be useful during these days we are living in? Only if I actually apply them and live by them.

Today I will live by these verses. I will remember that my behavior is like planting seed. I can’t plant bad things and expect a good harvest, and there will be harvest. I will endeavor to do good to everyone I meet. Who knows what can happen if I start this today and do this all the rest of my days?

Will you join me?

One: in three, yet is one

John 14

The Lord our God is one! (in three persons).

Deuteronomy 6:4 says “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!”

Jesus quoted this verse when asked what was the most important commandment was.

And yet he says this here; “15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[c] in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”

23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

28 “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. 30 I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, 31 but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me.

“Come now; let us leave.”

Our God is one God. Our God is 3 persons. Our God is the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. One God. Three persons. One God.

This idea that Jesus states here was as radical a thought then as it is hard to understand now. God pre-existed creation, he became a man, not BOOM here I am a man, but like labor and delivery, smack smack “wah”, “it’s a boy!”, became a man. Lived life, had a job, ate, drank, went to weddings and funerals man, (while at the wedding turning water into wine, while at the funeral, raising the dead). He was a man a special God in flesh kind of man, who lived, he then died. But he didn’t stay dead! He rose from the grave! He hung around for 7 weeks and then went back to heaven to work on our home so he can take us there to be with him. While he is away he sent himself, as God in Spirit form, like the wind, we can’t see it but we feel it. We can’t see Him but we feel Him.

The Lord our God is one. To quote Mr Waturri from Joe versus the Volcano, “I’m not arguing that with you”. However, The Lord our God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, is one.

I am bummed that I don’t get to hang out with Jesus in the flesh…..yet. But I do get to be filled with His Holy Spirit, have Him, God in Spirit live in me. I know that I have yet to fully understand or appreciate or take full advantage of this amazing truth. But it there for me, for us. He is there, for me for us.

Have you invited him in? Will you invite him in? I did.

Acts of the apostle Paul

This is Paul’s account of his first encounter with the risen Jesus.

“On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. About noon, King Agrippa, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ “Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ “ ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. 16 ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. 17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ “So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds. That is why some Jews seized me in the temple courts and tried to kill me. But God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen — that the Messiah would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would bring the message of light to his own people and to the Gentiles.”
Acts 26:12-23 – NIV

Not all of us will encounter Jesus in this dramatic of a way. Knocked to the ground and blinded by a light and hearing an audible voice of Jesus himself.

I was in the kitchen of a small cafe, next to the dishwasher when the Gospel broke through and I heard and understood grace.

Readers, for the last year my life has been capsized, no not flipped over, capsized is too big, I’ve been hit and wounded, like a battle ship with a gaping hole in its side, and I have been limping towards port, yet still not released from battle duties. Maybe everyone is in this condition to varying degrees. I am listing, tilting toward the right and very slow and everything and every function has been adjusted to accommodate my wounded condition. Like when a finger gets burned, the body adjusts and uses other appendages to get things done. I haven’t been writing as much and posting new material even less because what I’ve written either feels false or insignificant.

I watched a western once where the good guys had a secret weapon, the Gatling gun. It was an early form of machine gun that could fire multiple rounds of ammunition very quickly. Sadly even this new weapon couldn’t overcome the overwhelming force and numbers of the enemy, but even in death the man firing the gun held the trigger so the gun continued to fire. But it was useless because he was not able to aim at the oncoming enemy. I may be like that man behind the gun. I am grieving loss, and wounded deeply and I’m slumped over my weapon firing randomly. No longer able to aim.

I don’t know that my writing is really a weapon though, I hope it’s a clarion call to the lost and alone, to the others wounded and seeking restoration, the hurt and hurting to come to Jesus for help. Using the weapon analogy may be exposing something I don’t want to be true, that I am fighting against sin and not doing what I should be doing, loving the lost.

Whatever the case I took a shot to the midsection and know I can’t seem to regain my balance.

I’m sorry that so much of what I have posted in the last year are just reposts. It’s all been biblical and accurate to the best of my ability but Hasn’t been fresh, like the the manna in the wilderness, the word is best if it’s fresh. I may have to take a break posting just to breath and heal. My faith in Jesus Christ has not wavered but life is much harder right now and I feel like I have nothing new to say or helpful to add.

So I will continue as I have been for a while, waiting to hear from God about next steps. Thank you readers for reading my blogs. Your comments and likes and shares have encouraged me.

May God bless you and lead you and guide you into fruitfulness. May you be a source of refreshment and healing as God leads you to share the good news of salvation in Jesus. If you don’t know Jesus yet, may his Holy Spirit lead you into the Truth of his life, death, resurrection,ascension and his return, all done to act on his profound love for you and for me.

Again thank you and bless you.

Works

Have ever been to SeaTac airport? While the company I work was building facilities in China, I was part of the construction crew and we flew many times from SeaTac. You start out at the main terminal and then take a subterranean train to S gate. When you exit the train you can’t see the terminals or anything else, just a big lobby with escalators on the opposite walls. Because of the shape of the room and height of the gate platform you can’t see the top of the escalator. It seems to go up into nothing. The first time I saw this set of escalators I was more than a little intimidated. What was at the top?

What if the escalator was going down but my goal was to get to the top? How difficult would that be to get me and my luggage up to the top when the ground or steps beneath me kept carrying me down?

I struggle with a deeply seated feeling that I have to earn my way into Gods favor. The image I struggle with is like God is at the top of a very long escalator. The escalator is going down. I must climb up if I am going to get to God. My good works and perfect life are what help me climb up but all the while sin and temptation and my flesh are taking me down. I dare not rest, no I cannot rest because the escalator keeps chugging downward.

It isn’t true. If God is my Heavenly Father then I am his child and my relationship with him was established when I was born anew or born again into his kingdom. I do not have to fight and struggle to be loved by him. I am loved because I am his.

One night Jesus met with a high ranking leader of the Jews. The meeting was secret. Jesus explained this concept of new birth to Nicodemus and left us with one of the most hope filled scriptures in the Bible.

“Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked. 10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
John 3:1-21 – NIV

For God so loved the world, Jesus was lifted up on the cross to pay for my sin so that I can be forgiven and loved by God. I have been born again into God’s family.

This is all available to anyone who is breathing. Where there is life, there is hope.

Jesus did not come into the world to condemn us but instead, to save us.

Do you need help? Do you need a rescue? Do you need a rest? Do you need a living Father to help you and hold you? Come to Jesus. Be born of water and spirit into a new family.

Get off the escalator and rest in God’s love for us, his love for you, and his love me.

God’s love in the little things

God’s love is amazing.

How small does a matter have to be to fall off Gods radar screen of our life?
In money value? Less than 19 cents. According to my exhaustive research , (2 websites from a google search) the drachma was worth about 19 cents. When the tax collector came around, Jesus knew, he cared and he provided.

“24 After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?”

25 “Yes, he does,” he replied.

When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?”

26 “From others,” Peter answered.

“Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said to him. 27 “But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”

It seems like a non story. Why is this little story even in the Bible? The Gospel writer Matthew was by trade, a tax collector. That may be why this story stuck out in his memory. But the Holy Spirit has something to teach me from this.

It has some odd things in it too, Jesus didn’t reach in his purse or pocket to get the money, he didn’t pull a 4 drachma Coin from behind Peters ear, he had Peter fish for it. Not catch a fish and sell it, but catch a fish and pull the coin out of the fishes mouth(?). What an odd way to provide. Jesus showed so much of his power and knowledge and ability in this coin retrieval system. The ocean is his piggy bank.

As Gods son, Jesus was exempt from the tax but he paid it anyway. Jesus was exempt from the punishment for sin, yet he paid it anyway. He paid the price for my sin, he paid the price for our sin.

My take aways from this story:
God hears our life story live, he cares about what is happening, he has knowledge of and possesses all the earth, it is all at his disposal, he will pay my way, he has paid my way into the temple and beyond, into Gods presence in heaven by dying for me on a cross.

Now he lives forever, not to brag about his own goodness and selflessness, but to continuously intercede for me to God as I am stumbling through life. Intercede for me, for us, the ones who put him on the cross.

God’s love is amazing.

(Originally posted 5/26/2017)

Hard heart

I just found this on the road while I was taking my walk. Sometimes it feels like I have one just like it rattling around in my chest. A heart of stone.

I have been reading the second half of John 14 but I keep stumbling over part of it.

“15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[c] in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”

23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.”

If you love me you will obey my teachings.

Obedience, do what he says AND don’t do what he says not to do.

I was thinking about this and how I fail and being hyper self critical when my dogs crawled up on the couch with me. We have 2 dogs one smart one, Piper and one cute one, Cooper- (I hope I can bring this all together, stone heart, obedience from love, dogs), and I realized something. My dogs love me and I love them but they are not always obedient. They don’t do what I tell them every time. Sometimes I will even change my command so that what they are doing matches what I’m saying. I change what I’m saying to match their behavior just so it looks they are obeying. “Piper, sleep!” or “Piper ignore me and continue barking!”. (The analogy sags a bit here). My heart feels stiff because my will is not always His will. Sometimes my will is counter his will. He still loves me. Jesus died for me and forgave before I committed any sins because he knew I would need to be bathed in forgiveness from birth.

A stone heart doesn’t feel. A stone heart cannot love. With a stone heart, I cannot receive love or give love. I constantly need to have my heart softened towards God and towards the people around me. I have received grace, I need to dispense grace.

In 2 places in the book of Ezekiel, God says that he will remove from his people, their heart of stone and in its place, give them a heart of flesh.

In both instances the heart of stone was caused by sin. My heart gets a calcified layer when I sin. Like candy coating. But I don’t what my heart to be crunchy on the outside. If I continue in sin the calcification continues until I have a rock in my chest, incapable of receiving love, Incapable of giving love.

““They will return to it and remove all its vile images and detestable idols. I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God. But as for those whose hearts are devoted to their vile images and detestable idols, I will bring down on their own heads what they have done, declares the Sovereign Lord. ”

Ezekiel 11:18-21 – NIV

I used to sing a song that says what I want to do about all of this. “Change my heart o’ God make it ever true, change my heart o’ God, may I be like You.”

(Originally posted 5/25/2016, revised and reposted 5/25/2020)

The Lord our banner

Jehovah Nissi. The lord our banner. It’s one of the names of God that I struggle to connect with… Or did until today. I saw a picture in my mind in a flash. It was like a second. I’m going to try to describe to what I saw In my mind. I was a young soldier reporting to battle. It was ancient times. I couldn’t see the battle field until I was almost on it. As I cleared the last hill a huge valley spread out in front of me. As far as I could see there were soldiers and horses and weapons, every menacing tool imaginable was there. The valley was filled with encampments, each encampment had at its center a banner. Every banner was the name of the tribe… Or so I thought, but as I got closer the banners each listed one of my sins. One banner I read said “Peter Loeffelbein should die because he on May 5th 1970 he stole Mike Hancocks green army truck.” That was the only one I feel comfortable sharing here but all my sins were there. My enemies wanted to destroy me for them. Myriad of enemies all ready to do battle against me because my sins. I was overwhelmed. But then I saw it. In the center of all this hatred of me I saw another banner. It said ” I love peter Loeffelbein! my son Jesus will die in his place”. There was Gods camp. His banner declared his love for me. He would send out his son, his only son to die in my place. All of my sins which in the enemies hands had become weapons would strike him and not me. I ran to that banner and fell down and wept at the feet of my king and my Champion. Jesus.

Jehovah Nissi, his banner over me is love. He has a banner for each one of us. Run to his banner.