Sir and madam, the savior will see you now.

Luke 19.

Sir and madam, the savior will see you now.

Today is a good day to meet Jesus.

Today is the only day to meet Jesus. Tomorrow never gets here and yesterday is “gone, gone, gone”.

Zacchaeus climbed a tree in hopes to see Jesus. What he didn’t realize was that He already had an appointment and Jesus was looking for him.

“9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”‘

In John 4 John recorded the story of Jesus meeting with a Samaritan women at the well outside a little village called Sychar. In verse 4 it says “now he had to go through Samaria.” He didn’t have to go that way as a travel direction. The normal way to go was up the Jordan river valley to completely avoid encountering the “despised” samaritans. He had to go that way because he had an appointment with a woman with a checkered past and a terrible future.

“The woman said, “I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you- I am he.”

He revealed who he was to her and changed her life and the lives of everyone in her village.

Sometimes we fuss and fume. We go all lengths to make a way to meet with God but he is already looking for us. He met me in the back room of my parents restaurant on a Sunday morning. I was standing beside the dishwasher. I understood grace. That salvation was Gods gift, not something to be earned.

” For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph 2:8-10)

Thank you Jesus for dying on the cross to pay for all my sin, for all of our sins. Thank you for seeking me out and finding me where I was. Thank you for loving me so much Jesus. Find some of my friends today, bless those who are hurting, heal, comfort and restore. Do what you do best Jesus- create new life!

The good news is God is looking for you, to bless you not to harm you. To give you a future and a hope.

The villagers in Sychar where the woman lived said this: “ We no longer believe just because of what you said; we now have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the savior of the world.”

Will trust Jesus as your savior today? If you already know him, will you tell just one other person about him, and what he’s done for you?

Missing my family

I love and miss my church

I am reading through the Psalms and saw this in Psalm 5:

“But I, by your great mercy, will come into your house; in reverence I will bow down toward your holy temple.
Lead me, o Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies- make straight your way before me.

11 But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may rejoice in you.
12 Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous;
you surround them with your favor as with a shield.”

Its Sunday morning here. I haven’t gotten to go to Church in 4 weeks. I can’t remember the last time I went this long without church. I’m feeling lonely and isolated. I haven’t sung in worship for 4 weeks.

Fellowship and the gathering of Gods people to encourage and teach and touch and heal and pray with and play with, it’s a privilege.

Don’t miss it if you can go, go! Be with other believers.

“Do not forsake the assembling together”.

I love and miss my church.

Live no Lies by John Mark Comer

I am reading Live no Lies by John Mark Comer.

In it he identifies our enemy and our enemies strategy to win us over so he can destroy us.

Here is a summary of our enemies strategy.

“In summary: the devil’s goal is to first isolate us, then implant in our minds deceitful ideas that play to our disordered desires, which we feel comfortable with because they are normalized by the status quo of our society. Specifically, he lies about who God is, who we are, and what the good life is, with an aim to undermine our trust in God’s love and wisdom. His intent is to get us to seize autonomy from God and redefine good and evil for ourselves, thereby leading to the ruin of our souls and society.“

We have an enemy. He is real he wants to destroy us and will use any means possible to get us to doubt God and wrestle control away from our Heavenly Father.

How does God feel about us? Can we trust him with our lives? What about Jesus? What is it he came to do? How does it all work?

“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 3:16-21 NIV

We have an enemy who wants to destroy us.

More importantly we have a Heavenly Father who loves us and gave his only son to die for us- for us means instead of us. Jesus died the death that because of our sin, the death we deserve to die. Once our sin was paid for, God raised him back to life. Now he lives forever and we can too.

We have choice.

I highly recommend choosing God, by receiving what his son Jesus did to save us.

The lost and found

Luke 15. The lost and found.

I have been both. I once was lost. Now am I found.

Here is how God feels about us when we are lost.

4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

This theme is repeated 3 times in this chapter. The lost sheep, the lost coin, and The lost son. Each time there is Someone actively seeking that which was lost and when they find it there is a party, a huge celebration because something or someone of value has been returned.

That is good news. Being lost is not fun. It is isolated and lonely and scary. Sometimes we start out to just hide, hide in our shame and then we lose our way back. Our return is not the walk of shame. It is a walk of humility and repentance. Turning around. But God is watching and waiting.

” 20 So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. ‘ 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”

God was waiting and watching for me as I returned.

God is waiting and watching for you to return to him too.

Come home and be overwhelmed by God’s love and forgiveness.

The fullness of time

Everything had to be right.

Everything had to be in place.

Everything and everyone had to do their part for it to happen the way that it must be. Even the one who did the wrong thing was in the right place at the right time.

There had to be a Judas.

Matthew 26 gives us the story.

“Matthew 26:14-16 Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me to betray Him to you?” And they weighed out thirty pieces of silver to him. From then on he began looking for a good opportunity to betray Jesus.”

Someone had to betray Jesus. Judas was that man. I can blame him but I must realize that it’s my sin that brought Jesus and Judas to this place. My sin, and God’s love for me, God couldn’t stand the separation between us so he gave his son to pay for my rebellion.

It was the fullness of time. Jesus was ready and unfortunately for him,so was Judas.

“Matthew 26:20-25 When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?” Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?” Jesus answered, “You have said so.”’

It was the fullness of time, all the pieces were coming together, the plan to redeem us.

“Galatians 4:3-5 So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”

Thank you Father God for sending your son, who was willing to be betrayed by a friend and die the death that I deserve. You did it because you love me. You did it because you love us, all of us, everyone of us. Thank you.

He knew what it would cost and he did it anyway

(I originally wrote this on a Monday. It doesn’t really matter what day it is. Any day ending in Y is a good day to be forgiven and start over. Today ends in Y. How about today then?)

He knew.

He knew how and when.

He knew and did it anyway. Jesus knew how and when he would die and yet he willingly stayed on the path that would lead to his execution.

“Matthew 26:1-5 When Jesus had finished all these words, He said to His disciples, “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be handed over for crucifixion.” Then the chief priests and the elders of the people were gathered together in the court of the high priest, named Caiaphas; and they plotted together to seize Jesus by stealth and kill Him. But they were saying, “Not during the festival, otherwise a riot might occur among the people.”’

If we Think of the worst person that we know, (most of the time, in my mind that is me). Remember all the wrong things they’ve done. Now imagine Jesus walking towards Jerusalem and his death looking through time at this person and saying, “I know what you have done and will do. I forgive you, I will die in your place”. That is what is going on here as Jesus continues down this road.

Paul said it so well in his letter to the believers in Rome.

Romans 5:6-11 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.”

It’s Monday morning. Weekends hold many things for us, sometimes it’s a big box of regrets.

How about starting out this week trading boxes, trading a box of regrets for lifetime of forgiveness? Jesus knew what we’d be doing and died to forgive us anyway. He loves us that much.

Today is is good day to be forgiven. Forgiveness is a request away.

Following Rules or Building Relationships?

Luke 13.

Jesus healed The woman after being doubled over for 18 years. And got in trouble for it.

First let’s be amazed at the healing power of God. Some chronic illnesses we have to adjust to. We have a condition and this is my life now. For the rest of my life. Then Jesus “put his hands on” and we are healed. I want that. I want that for Mary’s celiac and my diabetes. I will keep praying for those but in the mean time, I will keep showing up at church. That’s where she was. At church. Worshipping God in spite of being bent in 1/2. I will Contend for healing but I will not let my condition keep me from praising God. She walked to church bent in 1/2 and came home healed. Set free. God is amazing.

The pastor yelled at Jesus because he broke a man made rule about how we should act at church and on the rest day. People are amazing. How we can get so mixed up about what is important? Rules over relationship. It seems so obvious from this side of the story. That obviousness makes me question my own life. Where do I have blind spots? Where am I putting the established order of things in place of caring for people?

There is grace and healing for the sick and broken and bent in 1/2. Even for rigid misguided rule followers if they repent and seek the One who rules.

The battle against worry

Luke 12 exposes my weakness.

“22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?”

Do not worry. I break this commandment dozens if not hundreds of times a day. Sometimes if I’m not worried I worry that I’m too confident. I worry about worrying. Does that sound like I am man who believes in a loving and merciful God? I am that. I do believe that God provides for me, for Mary and I. He always has. And yet I worry. Forgive me Father.

Thank you God for always providing for us. Thank you for taking us to places that we never imagined.

For too many years I lived in this worry cycle. If i
serve a loving and gracious good God, why do I need to worry? To change the way I think I have been reading this verse and putting it into practice.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. “ Phil 4: 4-9 NIV

This process is an active process, controlling my thoughts and responding to worry with both prayer, communication with my Heavenly Father, and thankfulness for all he has already done. It is work, and it is working. My brain is being changed slowly. Like turning around an ocean liner, but through God’s love and patience, I am worrying for less time, and praying more.

Weak or fake?

What is worse a fake Christian Or a weak Christian? At the end of the world it appears it’s worse to be fake than weak.

In Matthew 25 the second of three stories is about 3 servants.

“Matthew 25:14-30 “For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. “Now after a long time the master of those slaves *came and *settled accounts with them. The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ “Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ “And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’ “But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’ “For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

I am looking for the key, for the definition of a true believer so I can point the way or help other people not end up like the one talent guy.

It seems to lie in their beliefs. What do we believe about God? Is he hard and harsh or loving and compassionate? Once a person has met Jesus it’s difficult to continue to see God as hard and harsh. Once a person has met Jesus and received him as savior our view of God has to change.

There is a day of reckoning coming. Christian believers, there is a day coming for us when we will show what we have done. We will be judged on how well we did with whatever God has given us to use.

Paul says this in his first letter to the people in Corinth, “1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.”

Later he added this in his second letter, “2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”

There is an old song we used to sing in church, the refrain, based on John 13:35 is this, “they will know we are Christians by our obedience to a list of rules”. No, that’s not it, “they will know we are Christians by our successes and wealth”. No! “They will know we are Christians by our LOVE!” Yes, that’s it!

“John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” ‘

Who is my neighbor?

Luke 10. An expert in the law was close but not there yet. He summed up the entire Old Testament in two sentences.

27 He answered: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

He understood it all intellectually and could sum it up better than anyone But with his next question he showed that the message hadn’t taken his knowledge the 12″ south to his heart.

Who is my neighbor?

I have talked about the list of people that I pray for. Sometimes I don’t get a chance to pray through my list so while I’m on my way, I will ask the question “who should I pray for?” Who should I pray for? Come on Peter! Let’s make it quicker, Who should you not pray for? No one. Everyone, every person I know that’s who I should pray for. And every person I don’t know.

The answer to the mans question, who is my neighbor is “yes”. Yes, they are your neighbor. The person in trouble, they are your neighbor, the ethnic group the has historically been outcast, they are my neighbor, the downtrodden, those in power, those in prison, those that are sick, those that are well, the young the old. If they are breathing, they are my neighbor.

Who is my neighbor? Yes. Who should I pray for? Who should I be actively involved in sharing Jesus with? Yes. Who should I be servant to? Yes.

How am I doing? Not so good all the time.

Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem

Luke chapter 9. I never noticed this before. The numbers don’t seem to line up. Jesus’ ministry lasted 3 years. Luke has 24 chapters. Luke 9 Jesus is already thinking, planning and talking about his departure. That means that most of what we see about Jesus life and ministry in Luke happened in the last few months.

We will see Jesus entry into Jerusalem in Luke 19. It’s as if maybe Luke 9-18 is a flashback or synopsis of all that Jesus taught and then we rejoin the story or maybe all of this happened on the way to Jerusalem. The point is Jerusalem was always the end of the journey. Jesus knew what was coming and did it anyway.

51 As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.

There is so much in here: he sends out his team to minister, he feeds 5 thousand people with 5 loaves and 2 fish, (that’s about the entire population of my little town of Ephrata), Peter makes his statement about Jesus, “You are the Messiah (Christ, savior, long awaited hope of Israel, the One, the Man/God), the transfiguration where Moses and Elijah pop in for a minute, healing a demon possessed boy that disciples couldn’t help, the discussion of who is the greatest ending with Jesus stating the upside down logic of Christianity, for whoever is the LEAST among you all, he is the greatest. The chapter ends with Jesus telling us all that following him is free but it will cost us everything.

My take away is knowing all that he was going to have suffer through, knowing all the sins of the world, my sins, our sins he did it anyway.

51 As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.

How does your garden grow?

Luke chapter 8. It starts out with the parable of the sower and the seed.

“While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: 5 “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. 6 Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.” When he said this, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” 9 His disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10 He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, ” ‘though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.’ 11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”

There are hard hearts that will not receive the seed of good news that Jesus loves them and died for them. There are other hearts that will hear, accept it, flourish for a short time and then die away because their hearts are like rocky soil and the good news can’t take root. Then there are some hearts that will hear, will accept the word of God, will grow for awhile but will eventually be choked out by the cares of this world, money gathering, feeling good.

These three situations make me so sad. Thinking there are those who won’t make it. But I recognize myself and my life before I got saved in all of these situations. So it’s like the Christmas carol when Ebenezer is faced with his eminent death and he says “why show me this if I am beyond all hope?” Why would Jesus point out these heart conditions if there wasn’t a chance for us to recognize ourselves and ask God to change our hearts so that we can receive the word and become the soil that produces a hundred fold? Where am I today? Where are you? If we are bad soil will we pray for God to loosen up our hearts , to remove the rocks and weeds? If we are the good soil are we producing? Are we multiplying the seed that was planted in our hearts?

I have been the hard soil, I have been the rocky soil, and even now without diligence and Gods help and mercy I can easily be overrun with the cares of this world.

Jesus keep my heart clean and receptive to your word. Make me fruitful.

One of the amazing things that happened to me

Luke chapter 7. Being dead isn’t the end. Jesus encounters a funeral procession and is moved with compassion for the mother of the deceased, a widow.

Jesus said “don’t cry” and to the son he said “get up”. And the story for the widow and her son changed.

God had compassion on my mom. When I was 11 I was in a car accident. My sisters Kitti and Judi , my foster brother Rodney and my sisters boyfriend Paul(?) were headed to Pendleton from Milton-Freewater. It was a dark and foggy night. We didn’t make it to Pendleton that night. A couple of miles out of town our truck hit a car head on and then we were immediately hit again by the car we were passing. The impact tore the cab of our truck off the frame and it was tossed out in the field. We were all alive. Busted up but alive.

It was a busy foggy night. Before it was over I understand that there were 17 cars piled up in the crash. It was busy at the hospital. I was on a gurney in the hall when my mom arrived. She saw doctors checking me then leaving me. She asked if it was okay to talk to me they said “it doesn’t matter now” and walked away. My mom touched my leg and I started coughing. The doctors turned on their heels and rolled me into ER. What my mom didn’t know was that I was dead. By the time I got to the hospital I was clinically dead. No pulse, not breathing, dead.

But being dead isn’t always the end.

The story about the boy being raised back to life isn’t really the one I wanted to talk about but it gives me an opportunity to share my story.

Read the story of the woman who lead a sinful life. Verses 36-50. Hear what Jesus said to her. “Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you ; go in peace.” Weep in repentance and be forgiven. I did. I was and am.

“I am willing” -Jesus –

Luke chapter 5 has a lot going on. Jesus calling of the disciples, but first providing a miraculous catch of fish, healing a leper, healing the paralytic with four faith filled friends, (it doesn’t say 4, I’m just thinking one on each corner), calling Levi the IRS guy and then answering the question about ministry style with a parable.

2 things stand out to me. What the leper said, “Lord if you are willing, you can make me clean.”

More importantly Jesus answer, “I am willing, be clean”

And the second is Jesus reply to the Pharisees about who he hung out with, “it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance”.

I need Jesus to touch me and make me clean today. I need a savior who is seeking me out not because I’m so good but because I need spiritual healing.

Thank you Jesus for seeking me out and touching my unclean life and bringing me back into a relationship with you.

Slaves to who(m?) we obey

The pull of adventure can sometimes feel like gravity.

I’m not sure if this memory is a Prologue to a cautionary tale about an untimely death or the first paragraph of a legend starring me.

The scene is me at about 4 years old. My butt and my right leg are plopped inside the big brown coaster wagon, it wasn’t a radio flyer but it was along those lines. It was a lot of work to pull the wagon up to the the top of the east hill. Grandpa Loeffelbein’s little orchard was divided east and west by a deep gulley and the gulley had a small creek at the bottom. There was a bridge across the creek, just wide enough to drive grandpas Fordson tractor over. The road to the bottom was a gravel two track trail. The west side road was the steepest. Dead mans hill. Only fools tried riding the wagon down the west side. I had pulled the wagon down the west side and up the east side.
It would be epic I thought to myself. I was sure there was an award ceremony in my near future if only. If only I could over come the crippling fear that kept my left leg on the outside of the wagon extended with my heal dug in. I had my hand on the tiller. I don’t know if I squinted as I stared down to the bottom the hill, charting the course. It wasn’t that complicated. The road went straight to the bottom of the hill. All that was required of those bold enough to try was use the tiller to steer the wagon and keep it on the road and get over the bridge. On the north side of the bridge was about a three foot drop into the creek. On the south side it was more like a 4 foot drop and there was the barb wire fence and stinging nettles. If I had to ditch I would head for the north side. I didn’t know much about stinging nettles but rumor had it that it could result in blindness and death. Nettles were to be avoided. The course charted, and the plan made. As soon as I could swallow the fear I would begin.

I don’t remember what the trigger was that released my left foot emergency brake. I have an older brother and I suspect that there may have been taunting or some other challenge. It could’ve been the thrill effect where the excitement and anticipation of a thing fills up and over flows the brain bucket to fill and over flow the logic bucket and boldness bucket. Like a teeter-totter these three buckets on one side tipped the scale. The left foot came up, brake off, left leg got pulled over and in, tucked in and gravity took over. The part that I couldn’t have or at least didn’t anticipate was the vibration of the wagon and how it affected the steering. I was all over the road. As the speed approached Mach 10 and the vibration took over the controls I did the only rational thing my preschool brain could think of, I ditched to the north. As an adult I look back at this scene and see some dangers. The water in the creek isn’t deep to me now, shin deep. As a four year old my shins weren’t that tall. I remember that I was suddenly very wet and very cold.

The house where the adults were was at the top of the west side hill. There were some stairs that were made of old truck tires stacked and terraced into bank of the hill. Somehow my parents and grandparents were alerted to my catastrophic accident and near death experience. I don’t remember those details but I do remember the thrill of the ride down and the moment of deliberation before the thrill.

There were consequences. I did crash. I did get wet. I did cry. I don’t remember the wagon being at grandpa and grandmas house on the next visit.

I have dreams not of this but like this. One where I am sitting in a parked car the car is parked on a steep hill which turns into a cliff. In my dream the car starts to slide toward the edge. Not matter how hard I press on the brake it continues to slide down the hill.

Why are these stories in my head? I was trying to think of an example of getting pulled away from safety into danger. How the excitement can overcome reason, and reasonable fear is pooh-poohed away. I walked away. Like a good landing is any landing you can walk away from, what doesn’t kill you makes you maimed, wait no, makes you stronger? Hmmm. Same guy who said that also said God is dead. Not a fan of the man or his philosophy.

Anyway, I did face a fear, I took a chance, had an adventure, scared my grandparents, (I’m not sure my parents were ever concerned about safety, they had a bohemian mentality in some areas), I had fun up to a point. I started writing this because I was feeling the pull of sin like I felt the pull of fun and adventure and sometimes it feels almost like the pull of gravity. Becoming a Christian didn’t make all of that go away however I have this working for me.

“Romans 6:15-23 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

His plan for us

Gods plan for salvation has always been Jesus. When I follow his lineage back there were some nail biters in the generations. Cain killed Abel but God provided Seth. The entire world was flooded and God had Noah build an ark. He provided Shem. Abraham was old. Very old. Sarah was old, very old the time for children was gone. Long past. And then Joyous Laughter was born aka Isaac. And so it went, life almost snuffed out our hope but God made a way. Ruth’s husband died leaving her childless and hopeless then God provided Boaz, our kinsman redeemer. Over and over just before all hope is lost God provided a way all culminating in Jesus.

My take away is that Gods purpose and his plan are unstoppable. He did all of that so I could have a way of cleaning off my filthy sin and be welcomed with open arms back into His family.

“4 As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: “A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.5 Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth.”

That’s good news.

Sometimes the answer to prayer is to wait…

Next up? The good news according to Dr Luke.

For 400 years there is silence from heaven. No prophets, no revelation. The people of God carry on. They continue to pray and worship. It becomes routine

Worship can become routine. We do it because we do it because that’s what we do. Then something happens. Last week our power went out right before service started. It broke up the routine and we had to decide to worship not because it’s what we do but because we want to connect with the God of the universe, with the great God of mercy, with the God who loves us enough to die for us.

Zechariah was doing his job, his routine and a messenger of the great God he was serving showed up and had an answer to his prayer. It’s what we should expect. We should expect God to answer. He is listening. He is aware. He is watching and waiting for His perfect timing. Sometimes the routine becomes the thing. We forget that there is a God and a relationship with this God behind all the trappings.

I guess what I’m getting out of this is don’t give up praying. Keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking. We have a God who hears our prayers and will answer them. Sometimes the answer is NO, and sometimes it is WAIT. What’s the difference? Time.

There are people that I have prayed for to get saved for over a decade with no change. There are others who did decide to follow Jesus. So I keep on praying and believing that God is hearing me and that someday he will take away the barrenness in this relationship and bring new life.

Shine a light on me

I was listening to a radio pastor yesterday and heard something new or at least fresh. A fresh thought.

As I get closer to Jesus , the light he brings into my life continues to expose more and more of the mess in my life.

Like if I were with Jesus in a dark room. He asks me if the room is clean. Hmm, the room is dark, nothing under my feet, I say yes. He then lights a match and we see just a little way around us. There are dirty dishes, litter, a pair of underwear that didn’t make it to the hamper. Then he turns on a flashlight and we see deeper into the room, more mess, then he flips on a light and we see clearly, smudged walls, mildew and mold.

The longer I hang out with Jesus the more stuff he exposes. Sometimes the pain and shame of a life exposed is too much and I want to push Jesus back out of my life and shut the door and please oh please, kill the light. The mess doesn’t go away when Jesus leaves and the light goes out, but if we don’t have to see the mess of our lives, we can pretend it isn’t there, and the pain and shame fall and fade.

Meeting Jesus and inviting him into my life will not make my life a blissful rose garden. Well not just the flowery part. Jesus will begin to clean up and the fascinating thing he will do is to use the poop of my life to grow beauty. The bible says the he will give us beauty for ashes. Ashes are the waste product of the end of something, something gone and useless. God has the ability to turn that part of life, and poop is a useless waste end of life product too, the poop and ashes and reuse them to bring us beauty, like roses.

This will only happen if we allow him into our lives and trust him enough to expose the mess behind the door. Denying a mess doesn’t make it go away. Admitting to a mess doesn’t make It go away either but it can start the process of cleansing.

Isaiah 61:1-6 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. Strangers will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards. And you will be called priests of the Lord, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast.”

Today will you let Jesus into your life to help you declutter your your heart and soul? He will turn it around for you. Beauty for ashes, joy for mourning, praise for despair. He loves us and just wants to help.

God. Who is he to you?

What are you thinking about God right now? Who is he right now to you? A stern judge? A watching cop? A pouncing powerful predator?

OR

Is he a loving and gentle father? A caring and creative genius who thought up, well everything. Every thing. Even the things that make up things. Is he more like that?

“Psalm 95:6-7 Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if only you would hear his voice, “

God wants to be like our shepherd and like a father. He wants a close and caring relationship with us. That is why he sent Jesus for us. To enable a pathway back into God’s gentle, caring embrace.

Jesus has become the gateway through a wall so high you can’t get over it, so low, you can’t get under it, so wide, you can’t get around it, you gotta’ go right through the door 🚪. Jesus. Today, if you haven’t already, walk throught the door.

Then, we will worship this great and awesome God together. Woo hoo!

Watch out!

Watch out!

Keep watching, wait for it, wait for it, wait for it. Jesus has been saying watch and wait for 2 millennia. Really? Keep watching? Keep waiting? Why?

“Matthew 24:42-51 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. “

I’m not focusing on the avoidance of punishment as much as I am focused on hearing the words from Jesus, “well done!”

What do we do while we wait? Read magazines in the waiting room ? Nope. We have a job to do.

“Matthew 28:19-20 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” ‘