🎶He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he knows…🎶

(From a memory. God is watching, not to catch us doing something wrong but to step in and help and heal, whenever we need him and invite him in).

Hebrews 4b

The song lyrics terrified me when I was a kid.

“He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he knows if you’ve been bad or good so be good for goodness sake. “

Why did we behave better at Christmas time? As kids? Santa was watching us.

Guess what? God watches us too. All year long. He doesn’t just watch our behavior but he sees inside our hearts and knows our motives.

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

Back in James we were told that the word is a mirror reflecting us so we can see ourselves and I suggested it was so that we could wipe our nose. Here the writer says the word of God is an x-ray. Seeing inside our hearts and exposing our motives. God doesn’t expose us to humiliate us. He shows us our hearts so that we can know ourselves and know where we need healing.

After a meeting at work yesterday a friend asked me how I was. I said that I was fine. He probed just a little deeper and exposed a festering boil that caused a 3 minute rant from me. I hate that. But a faithful friend will help us heal.

Jesus is a faithful friend.

We don’t have to be afraid of exposing our inner self to him. He already knows it, he sees our hearts, but waits for us to stop denying, confess and get on with the healing.

Lance my boils Jesus. I’m tired of living with this spiritual infection. Heal my heart. Make me clean.

The Gospel according to Winter – Winter Warlock

(A memory from a few years back. Viewing the Rankin/Bass Christmas special “Santa Claus is coming to town” would be helpful.)

On the way home I had two strong ideas that seemed linked.

The gospel according to Winter, Winter Warlock.

And these verses, especially the first 1/2 of verse 5.

“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.”
2 Peter 1:5-9

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith.

Now how do theses verses and Winter Warlock come together? What if I add some words from James?

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
James 2:14-17

Well here is how they connected in my brain.

Peter tells us to add to our faith. When we believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection and that his gift of love for us pays for our sin, we are saved, it is a done deal. Like when in “Santa Claus is coming to town” animated feature Winter Warlocks frozen heart is melted by Santa’s gift. But Peter said to add to our faith. If our salvation is secure in Jesus what is there to add?

When a baby is born it is a complete baby. But is that baby a finished product? No, it must be fed and nurtured and cleaned and guided and protected. The baby is added to, even though it is a complete human at birth. So it is with us we are born anew or born again. We need to add to our faith, grow our faith, nurture the new life that Jesus has birthed in us.

The verse in James says that we show that our new birth has made us new by our change of heart which is shown in our change in behavior. Winters heart was changed which changed the way he acted, and what he was able to do. He couldn’t curse, he could only bless.

Winter Warlock doesn’t mention Jesus, but he is changed by love. It isn’t a perfect fit but I hope it brings a new dimension to our Christmas season viewing.

Merry Christmas. Thank you Jesus for coming as a child, then finishing the grueling work of redeeming the world. Thank you to for continuing your work in me until I’m finished in your eyes.

Guess what today is? It’s today…

Hebrews 3

Are you a fan? A fan of a team or a movie star or an athlete or anything? I am a Chevrolet fan. I own 2. When I talk about one of the two, my 57, my eyes glass over, my lips curl into a smile, my speech speeds up and even gets a little louder. I am a fan of Rusty and I love to talk about him.

The writer of Hebrews is a fan of Jesus. One of the biggest fans. Rightly so. Who else is worthy of our attention and affection? Who else has saved us and who else intercedes for us? There have been great men, great servant leaders, Moses was one. But as great as Moses was as a leader, Jesus is better.

“Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. 2 He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. 3 Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. 4 For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. 5 “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,”[a] bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. 6 But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.”

We have only one day to do what we have to do. That day is today. All we can do is work in the moment that we are in. If we knew we were dying what would do? Put our affairs in order. What day do we put our affairs in order? Today.

““Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion.””

We get right now. What will we do with it?

Jesus loves us and died to
Prove it. He lives now to intercede for us. Have you accepted his gift yet?

I think I slipped into rabid used car salesman mode. “What’s it going to take to get you into this…?.” Im not selling anything. Jesus is giving us freedom, forgiveness, family and salvation.

““Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion.””

It’s today. Now what?

My story

Addendum:

(Just an aside to my post. I was in second grade at Riverside elementary the year that I got burned and my second grade teacher was Mrs. Ironhawk. She was awesome and so were all of the kids in that class. A belated thank you for your friendship and support. To Mrs. Ironhawk who must be with Jesus by now, thank you. And to all of the other teachers who will read this post, You just never know how much a kind word or gesture might do so thank you for all you do to encourage, teach and love on the kids that come into your classroom. Especially for the ones who feel damaged and feel like misfits. (Mrs, Dunlevy of first grade, you were awesome too).)

(December 1st is the anniversary of the day in 1968 that I was burned. I shared my story at church last year. I would like to share it here. It is long but I hope that you will read it to the end).

While we were in Italy we sang worship in Italian. We sang the song Cuore Puro, written by our friends. Part of the refrain is Purificami, which in English means purify me. It got me thinking about a purifying process that I went through as a child.
Some of you may know this already, I have burn scars on my face. I will to tell you the story of how it happened. I hope to use my accident and the experience to show you something that God showed me about how he longs to purify us.
The day I was burned, it was a cold and snowy Sunday, December 1st 1968. I was 8 years old at the time and my older brother Mick was 12. My dad decided to go down to his work place, Lindell’s Auto Salvage and work on his car. He was restoring a 59 El Camino. I wouldn’t normally have gone with Mick and dad to work on his car. In my later years I’ve tried to figure out what my motivation would’ve been to go. I didn’t like grease, or getting dirty, I didn’t like loud noises, I didn’t like extended periods of cold, I didn’t like being separated from our T.V. My best guess is that it was the Sunday after thanksgiving and by then all of the goodies from the feast had been eaten up. I knew there was a vending machine in the lobby of dad’s work that sold hot chocolate with marshmallows. It cost a dime. As luck would have it, I had a dime. So that’s how I ended up at Lindell’s that night. Brought there by my sweet tooth. Sadly, I never did get the hot chocolate.

The events that led up to the accident were, not having a better way to describe it, the perfect storm. Everything had to be exactly the way it was or it wouldn’t have happened. Change any one element and the evening would’ve ended with the family watching “wonderful world of Disney” and eating a big bowl of popcorn.

That is not what happened.

It was cold that day. Cold enough to need a space heater in the garage where my dad kept his car. The space heater was empty enough to require a refill of white gas. The white gas was in a drum outside that was upright and had a hand pump on it. And it was cold enough to keep any white gas (kerosene) that might get splashed onto someone during a bucket filling from evaporating. I was the perfect size to hold the bucket under the spout during the splashiest part of the fill. And then too small to hold it for the entire time or to carry the bucket back into the garage so my dad wouldn’t think twice about whether or not my coat was flammable. My dad was at the perfect spot in his renovation of his El Camino that he could be distracted long enough for my brother to swipe 2 Dixie cups of paint thinner, one enamel and one lacquer. My brother was at the perfect age to be curious and informed of at least the flammable qualities of those two liquids but also the perfect age to not know or to not care about the dangers of using them out of context to their purpose. I was at the perfect age to think my brother knew everything. And be inquisitive enough to follow him outside so he could show me how the two different liquids, which looked the same in the cups, because of their chemical properties produced very different colored flames once they were ignited. Even at this point, the stage being set for tragedy if I hadn’t been afraid of my dad catching us, if I hadn’t told Mick to stomp out the cups of flaming liquid because I thought I heard dad coming, if we would’ve just watch them burn out, what if. But it was the perfect storm. I was afraid of my dad catching us, I did tell him to stomp them out. The first one died out instantly. And then? I was at the perfect distance and in the perfect location so that when he squished the second cup, instead of it extinguishing, it squirted a perfect flame directly toward me. The flame found the awaiting vapors of white gas that were on my coat and suddenly, I think it sounded like “FOOM”, I was engulfed in flame.

Through some quick thinking Mick saved my life. I don’t know how I would’ve handled it if the tables had been turned. He was standing within inches of his little brother being burned alive. He told me to lay down and roll around. I did lay down but I guess I didn’t understand the roll around part. I was on the ground but still in flames. Mick went to plan B and took off his coat and smothered the flames.

My dad must’ve heard some commotion because he came outside and saw me and asked Mick what happened. All he could say was “oh my God, oh my God” over and over. My dad ended up slapping him and it kind of snapped him out of it and he was able explain most of what happened.

It was the perfect storm. Everything had to be exactly the way it was or it wouldn’t have happened. Change any one element and the evening would’ve ended with the family watching “wonderful world of Disney” and eating a big bowl of popcorn. But that’s not what happened and my family and I would be changed forever.

The trip to the hospital seemed to take forever. There were a lot of unexplainable delays. We were at the wrecking yard where my dad worked, Lindell’s. He tried to get his car to start. It wouldn’t. He tried several others cars. None of them would start. After a few minutes of frustration he called my mom. Meanwhile I remember just standing in the gravel parking lot. Mom drove down the hill from our house which was about a mile away and picked me up. There were 2 hospitals in Pendleton at the time, St Anthony’s which was about 3 minutes away or there was the community hospital, 10-15 minutes away. My dad chose to send us to the community hospital. Mom put me in the car and started driving. She kept asking me questions. I guess trying to keep me conscious. We had driven about 2 miles when her car started to stall. We were almost to the intersection where the two hi-ways out of town meet when her car stopped completely. It was out of gas. Traffic started to back up behind us and a state trooper stopped to see if he could help. I don’t remember if he looked in and figured it out or if mom had to explain it but we were taken to his squad car and he drove us to the hospital. On the way we passed St Anthony’s. The officer asked if she was sure about going to the community hospital and she said yes and we sped past St. Anthony’s. There are parts of the drive I don’t remember but I was alert and awake when we arrived. I didn’t feel a lot of pain. Mostly it was a ring of intense stinging, like a string of bee stings around the perimeter of my face, and a lot of pressure. I guess my head started to swell up. It took a long time for the doctor to arrive. I think that I stayed conscious. I remember asking for an analgesic. (I think that I had watched too many doctor’s shows). I remember that I got a laugh but I was serious. They wouldn’t give me anything until the doctor was there to prescribe it.
When he did finally get there he looked over my condition. I don’t recall what he said but I did get something for pain. The next thing he did was to start pulling off the dead skin. I had second and third degree burns on my face and hand. I watched them slide the skin off my hand like it was a loose rubber glove. They just threw it away. In My eight year old kid brain I was thinking “aren’t I going to need that later?”

That’s about all I can remember of the emergency room. I woke up the next day and I couldn’t see, my eyes were swollen shut. It would take a week for the swelling to go down far enough for me to open my eyes. The room smelled like chemicals and burnt hair. The hair on the back of my head was melted and brittle and kept breaking off. My pillow was crunchy with it. I was in the hospital for twenty-one days. I received daily treatments which will I talk more about later and I received skin grafts from my thigh and my neck.
I was released and got home right before Christmas.
We have a picture of me soon after my homecoming. It might even be Christmas morning. It’s a black and white Polaroid. I look pretty rough. Not all of the burns had healed over yet but the scars hadn’t formed either. I had been in bed for so long that my leg muscles has atrophied. I wasn’t able to walk right away. My siblings carried me for a while but my parents thought I was milking it so they stopped all that. Left on my own I quickly got my legs back under me and was walking before school started back up after Christmas break.
Post hospital stay the tip of my right ear got infected. They tried to fight the infection and eventually beat it but not before it destroyed the cartilage that kept my ear upright so my right ear folded over on itself.
My hand had been bandaged with my fingers curled. While the burns healed webs of scars formed on the palm side of each digit. The doctors worried that I wouldn’t regain full use of my hand but by that summer, just regular boyhood play was therapy enough to overcome the scars and I have full use of my hand and fingers.
Ok, that is the background story of how I got burned but this message is more about the recovery process than the trauma of the accident. The thing that started this trip down memory lane was that word Purificami (purify me). We sang the song a lot. That word, Purificami stuck out and started this chain of thoughts and memories.
Purificami, being cleansed, cleansed of our filth. Not just dirt but filth, filth that if we leave it on we die, the damaged part of us that sticks to us, like the skin of my hand that they slid off like a glove.
So far I haven’t told you about the worst part of being burned, the worst part of being burned is recovery, and then the worst part of recovery is being cleaned. The cleaning process went something like this: every morning 4 of the staff would come in and hold me down, one on my right arm, one on my left arm, one each on my legs while 2 others would remove the bandages and “clean” the wound. They had to keep the dead skin from rotting on my face and causing infection so it had to be scrubbed off. There are Elements of this experience that we can apply to all of our Christian lives. It was the most pain that I have ever endured. I would beg and plead to skip a day but they were doing their job, helping me recover, saving my life by purifying me. If we skipped a day, it could have killed me.
In spiritual recovery from the damage brought on by a broken world, like in my incident, first there is the emergency room experience where we are brought from death to life, salvation. After we are saved there is still much to do, there is the ongoing work, the daily cleansing that helps us recover from our wounds, purification or Sanctification.

When we come to Jesus We’ve all been hurt or damaged in some way. We’ve been burned by the world. In order to heal us Jesus, the great physician will need to gently, yet persistently cleanse us, washing away our putrid flesh, the sin and its effects on us and then slowly he will heal us.

The bible shows us how this works. We are washed by the word.

Couched in a word to husbands of how we should treat our wives, in Ephesians 5:25-27 Paul talks about how Jesus treats his bride the church “husbands love your wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her to make holy, cleansing by the washing with water through the word and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish but holy and blameless.”

We are washed by exposure to the Holy Spirit by reading and applying the word of God. David says in Psalm 51:2 “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from sin” and later in the same Psalm he says “purge me with hyssop and I will be clean, wash me and I will be whiter than snow”. In Hebrew vernacular he was saying, scrub me God, Brillo pad me God.

Purification. It hurts. Without it I would have slowly died. With it I stand before you today. Gods cleansing of our spiritual wounds can hurt too. Spiritually With it we are transformed from death to life. Molded and shaped to be more like Jesus.

Let’s take this a little further.

I want to say that there is a difference between reading the bible and eating the bible. Ezekiel 3:1-3 God told the prophet to “eat the scroll”. I’ve had so many mornings of bible reading, just me scanning over the words on the page but they just stay there. They register in my brain as being English and they all make sense but honestly and sadly, they don’t make a difference.

In my hospital story only the scrubbing that touched me was effective. The closer it got to me the more it changed me. God’s word will change my life only in the relationship with how close I let it come to me.
My Recovery process was actually two-fold. There was the therapy every morning of being cleansed from the outside. Then there was the ongoing work of antibiotics cleaning me from the inside. There is the time that we expose ourselves to the word through study and fellowship, but that’s like a doctor’s office visit. Do we want Gods cleansing to happen once a year, once a month, once a week, once a day or do we want the ongoing work, like an IV drip or a time release antibiotic? If so we need to keep it with us and let it touch us. One more time back to my hospital analogy, yes I was scrubbed but I was also hooked up to IV that fed me and pumped medicine into me. God’s word can be that same thing in us spiritually. Be a steady drip into my heart.
I want to add one more verse with II Thessalonians 2:13-15 “But we ought always to thank God for you brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this though our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then brothers stand firm and hold to the teachings passed on to you whether by word of mouth or by letter.”

God wants to finish the work that be began in us. He wants to purify us. It might hurt but one way we can participate in this is to lean into his gentle cleaning of our wounds, to keep those tools he needs available in our hearts, to have them working constantly in our lives like a spiritual I.V..

PURIFICAMI, Purify me Lord Jesus.

The burns left scars.

On this night 54 years ago I stepped out of the side door of a body shop in Pendleton Oregon and ended up with life altering burns on my face and hand. If nothing else, I am proof God can use horrible events and situations and turn them into blessings. My burn scars are what brought Mary Loeffelbein and I together and SHE has been the biggest (except for my salvation) blessing of my life. So today I celebrate the anniversary of the night my life changed course for the better. I can’t say that I rejoice in the scars but I do rejoice in how God has used them to make me who I am and to take me to this place in my life.

In surgery

Doctor God, report to surgery. Doctor God, report to surgery.

I quote large chunks of scripture when I post. I want to show what I’m reading so it can be seen in context.

The Bible is no ordinary book. It is the very words of God. It is alive and powerful. It can heal. It can save.

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

By reading his word we open ourselves up to being changed by them, changed by him, made better, healed and repaired by God as we read his word.

Who is this Jesus? He is both fully God and fully man. In the Christmas season we will sing about Emanuel, which means God with us. This God whose words can heal us has sent his son to us to be with us, live as one of us, experience our life, and live it without sinning, and then die for us to pay for all of our mistakes, misdeeds and failures.

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,[f] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

So far I’ve only read four chapters of Hebrews and the writer has already quoted Psalm 97 3 times. It may be become my anthem.

““Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”

Guess what day it is? Correct! It’s Today. What will we decide to do about Jesus today? Will we accept his gift of forgiveness today?

Jesus saves and Jesus salves

Is it an itch or a hunger?

There’s a restless soulish urge that continues to plague me. I want to say it is spiritual in nature, or at least soulish. It comes from somewhere beyond my rational mind’s control. It is a longing but it doesn’t go away when I administer what should be relief measures. The more I attend to it the greater it becomes.

When I was in 7th grade I started to get some itchy spots on the back and side of my calves. I didn’t like the itchiness, but I loved the satisfaction of scratching. The harder and more intensely I scratched the more pleasurable the sensation, up to a point. Then it started hurting. It went on for what seemed like months. The bumps where the itching started grew in number, and as I scratched, they spread. first they were dime size, then quarter size, then half dollar size. They started oozing, and forming scabs.

The style in that day was to wear long white tube socks, all the way to the knee if you could find them. They were made of some type of acrylic fiber and they had two or three bands of color at the top. The half dollar size sores on my calves were covered by my socks. The scabs that would form on the sores sometimes would get stuck in the fiber of the socks. pulling the socks off or down tore off the scabs. (Sorry this is so gross). It became a cycle of itching, scratching, oozing, scabbing, spreading. What started as a sore on a leg became multiple sores on both legs. I don’t remember how my mom discovered what was going on, she worked full time and wasn’t home very much, but eventually She saw the sores and I was taken to the doctor and given some cream and antibiotics and the itching and infection went away.

I don’t remember how annoying the itch was. I do remember how pleasurable the scratching was. This plague of soulish unrest that I am experiencing is like that itch. And to answer the original question I asked, It is an itch, not a hunger. If you feed a hunger, it goes away, it is satisfied. If you scratch an itch, the itch only gets stronger the next time, and bigger. It covers more area and the scratching brings with it other problems, like infection and other ills.

The problem, the itch, is soulish. It lives in area beyond my intellect but under my spirit. I can’t think it away. I can pray it away. There are issues that my brain power can overcome, but soul issues live outside the realm of my intellect, like in an orbit that my brain cannot reach, but my spirit, now inhabited by the Holy spirit absorbs the orbit of my brain and my soul with its emotions and longings and itches.

My solution for the itch is to say NO to the urge to scratch, and then honestly pray to my Father in heaven about both the itch, and the urge to scratch. If I have scratched and caused an infection in my soul, God offers me salve. He offers me the salve of forgivenss in Jesus.

I have written this down so that I can share what I think might be a common problem and offer a solution that I am clumsily learning to use. I hope it helps. Jesus saves, he also salves.

Keep holding on to Jesus

Hold on a minute… or more.

I started reading Hebrews. No one knows who wrote it but it was written to Jewish Christians who were being persecuted and considered giving up their faith in Jesus.

Life is hard. I’m trying to leave behind my old worldly culture and create a new way of living based on my belief in Jesus and following him as my master. When life gets harder still, the temptation is to quit forging ahead, quit pioneering this new life and to run back to the familiar. That’s like running back to a cemetery and expecting to to find life. Our worldly culture has nothing to offer except death and hell but it’s familiar so sometimes it feels comfortable. The writer of Hebrews encourages us to continue in our faith because Jesus is worthy of following.

I am encouraged by these words.

“14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like them,[k] fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. 2 He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. 3 Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. 4 For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. 5 “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,”[a] bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. 6 But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.”

Jesus has destroyed death and the power of the devil and has made atonement (at-one-ment) for us. He has made a way for us to be with our father God again.

And here is the challenge for us who believe. Hold on.

“12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. 15 As has just been said:

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion.”[c]

Hold on to Jesus.

Late to her gate

“Now Boarding…”

The door was closed.
She couldn’t get on her flight.
She missed and no one could or would help her.

I was at Seatac. I was at my gate early. Not bragging, just saying I was there early. Next to my gate was another gate flying somewhere far away, Texas maybe? I had seen this lady on the other side,the main terminal. She was being seated in a wheelchair by an airport worker. When she showed up at her gate she was walking. Earlier I had seen the airlines hostesses walking the length of the terminal calling out names of missing passengers and heard multiple announcements asking for passengers to go to the desk, announcing boarding and then final boarding. Then they closed up the desk, walked through the doors and boarded the plane. After all of that happened the lady showed up. She was at the right gate but she was late. She couldn’t find anyone to help her. She walked through the seats asking for help, loudly asking for someone, anyone from her airline to help but they were all in the plane already.
She tried crashing the door. She could see her plane still parked at the gate but she couldn’t get on.

When she crashed the door an alarm sounded and security personnel arrived rather quickly. But they couldn’t get her on the plane either. It didn’t seem to make any difference why she was late or how loud she got with her protests. She could not ride that plane. Even with a boarding pass she could not get aboard the plane.

It was a scene that played out in my life that I️ watched like it was a performance for me. It made me wonder and now over 2 weeks later I am still pondering it. As the character Scrooge says in the Christmas Carol, “why was I privy to this conversation?”.

At the same time I have Been reading 2 Peter. In chapter 2, Peter mentions some times when God’s timing and the peoples time ran out.

“For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority. Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to heap abuse on celestial beings;”
2 Peter 2:4-10

So did God show me this so that I would present it as a cautionary tale? As a culture we are constantly exposed to and driven by schedules and time tables. Is it a surprise that God also has a schedule and a time table for his plan for us. None of us knows his time table and schedule. Not even Jesus knew when the end would be. Can we say that God is a meany head for having a schedule? Or can we say thank you to him for his patience with us thus far?

Further into his letter Peter had this to say,
“Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
2 Peter 3:3-9

Mary calls me Debbie Downer because I see the dark side of things, I really don’t want this to be that.

God loves us. He sent Jesus to us not Just to say I love you, but to do I love you. Jesus came to die for sins we cannot pay for or erase. Then he rose from the dead to lead us into God’s heaven. He made a way for us.

We get today. We have today to choose.

I don’t know the outcome for the poor lady who missed her plane. I do know the outcome of everyone who missed Noah’s boat. I do know the outcome for everyone who misses God’s grace in Jesus but I would rather talk about the splendor waiting for those who receive God’s great gift of forgiveness in Jesus.

Today, God is saying ”Now Boarding..” or as they used to say “all aboard!”

Looking at Psalms

This memory seems timely.

I finished reading through the Psalms. I actually finished yesterday but I read through the last 3 again today.

148 is great because it reminds all of Gods creation from sea creatures to stars to praise the Lord.

Why?

“13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.
14 And he has raised up for his people a horn,[b]
the praise of all his faithful servants,
of Israel, the people close to his heart.
Praise the Lord.”

Gods horn was the psalmists’ hope. That “horn” we know today is Jesus. Our hope is in Gods son Jesus. Our hope for forgiveness, for freedom, for life both here and in eternity is all in Jesus. This hope is not disappointed.

psalm 149 has a different reason to praise God, still valid but not as light and hopeful.

“6 May the praise of God be in their mouths
and a double-edged sword in their hands,
7 to inflict vengeance on the nations
and punishment on the peoples,
8 to bind their kings with fetters,
their nobles with shackles of iron,
9 to carry out the sentence written against them—
this is the glory of all his faithful people.
Praise the Lord.”

There is a day coming when evil will be punished. God will set things right. Injustice will be punished. God is watching everyone and everything. The pain that I have caused, the rules that I have broken, the people that I have hurt, the damage I have done? All these things are under the covering of Jesus’ forgiveness. Somehow God will set it right and I will not be punished because Jesus took my punishment upon himself. His beating and death on a cross should have been mine. But he loved me enough, loved us enough, to die in my, in our place.

Psalm 150 ends with an admonition.

“Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
2 Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
3 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
4 praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,
5 praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord.”

If I am breathing? I should be praising. God is always, eternally and in each moment of my life, worth praise.

Is it true faith with out deeds?

(This is a memory from 2015)

James 2b.

Or not 2b. That’s not the question.

“14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

Can a we have a saving faith in Jesus without it changing our behavior? Is our faith in Jesus real if it doesn’t prompt us to act on the behalf of those around us with needs that we can meet? Real faith will change us. Real faith will not only cleanse our hearts, cleanse our minds, break chains from the past, change our thoughts and emotions but it will also cause us to do. Do stuff. Do stuff for people. Otherwise this faith in Jesus is not faith but an idea about or an opinion of Jesus. It’s not faith in Him until it grabs ahold of us and we start sharing the love we have been given with others.

The 2 examples James gives us, Abraham and Rahab acted on what they believed and showed by their actions that their faith in God was real.

At the end of the storm in Spokane this week there were 206,000 people without power. No heat, no way to cook, no lights, no refrigerators. 2 of those households are my kids. I’m not sure how I will help but can it be just “stay warm guys, love ya”? How will I help? How will my faith take action?

“26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”

Sin is sin

James 2

“My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?”

Maybe it’s contagious. This wealth thing. We tend to want to hang out with wealthy people. Remember the show “lifestyles of the poor and destitute”? No wait, that wasn’t it, it was the “rich and famous”. Our human nature wants to associate with wealth and success. Could it be that we think it might rub off? At the very least, rich people have cool stuff. Cool stuff is fun and expensive and so it is rare. Hanging with rich people we might get to play with their stuff. But human nature is almost always counter to Christian belief and practice.

The kingdom of God is upside down to the world. Our king laid down his life and died for us. Our king washed his friends feet. Our king never had a palace or a throne or a scepter. Our king was born in a barn and slept in a feeding trough. Our king carried his own cross.

Christianity is counter cultural and sometimes counter intuitive. It doesn’t always make sense.

“5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?”

Favoritism = adultery = murder. That is not good math. Not in my mind. It’s like saying a penny equals a million dollars because favoritism is a penny sin, murder? That’s a million dollar sin. Am I right? No. I am completely wrong. Sin = all other sin. Sin is sin.

“If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”[a] you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,”[b] also said, “You shall not murder.”[c] If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.”

There is hope. Our God is merciful. He expects us, once we have experienced his mercy, to extend his mercy to the world around us.

“Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”

Mercy. Not getting what we do deserve. Grace. Getting what we do not deserve. They are what distinguishes Christianity. That and the fact our savior rose from the dead. Yes, I said fact. Feels harsh to leave I there but I’m going to.

No I can’t. Jesus loves us. He died to wash away our sin. He lives to intercede on our behalf. Won’t you accept that gift today?

Do what it says

James 1 part 2

We left off at verse 13.

“13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

The wages of sin is death. That is not good news. It’s not even news. It’s on the news.

But the gift of God is eternal life, throughJesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

That there? That is good news.

Every good thing comes from God who does not change. He doesn’t adjust himself to fit in.

“19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.”

The righteous life is not brought about by anger. The word brings life.

We can’t just listen to the words of God, we must act on them.

“22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”

Have I ever looked in a mirror, saw a booger hanging out of my nose and just walked away without getting rid of the booger? What if Gods word shows us we have spiritual boogers? Do we leave them and go on with life or do we act to change the boogers?

(Be honest, did you just touch your nose? I did. I hate boogers. Spiritual or otherwise.)

“26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

Are we about the real business of Christianity? Are we Helping those who cannot help themselves? And are we keeping ourselves from being polluted?

There is raw spiritual sewage that people are drowning in. Our job as Christians is to rescue them from the sewage without getting ourselves sick. I have had to check monitoring devices in our sewage lift station at work. One rule is to Keep our mouth closed, another is to keep our hands clean. Wash up after. Is there a spiritual application there?

Jesus help us. Keep us healthy as we go about the rescue.

Fight the good fight of faith

1 Timothy 6

“6 All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered. 2 Those who have believing masters should not show them disrespect just because they are fellow believers. Instead, they should serve them even better because their masters are dear to them as fellow believers and are devoted to the welfare[a] of their slaves.”

Slavery was a reality, just part of life. If a person was enslaved and a believer, they should be the best slave possible. Respect their master, even more if the master is a believer. I am not a slave but I still have people in authority over me. My direct boss is a Christian. I need to respect him and do my best for him and for Jesus who is watching us both.

And speaking of making money:

“6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

Money is a reality. We need it to do what we have to do. Even good and Godly activities take money. Money is not the end, it’s a means to an end. For about $15 we can provide a kid whose parents are in jail a Christmas present through Angel Tree. For $30 a month we can support an impoverished kid in a 3rd world country through compassion international. There is Samaritans Purse and shoebox gift program. There is no end to the needs of people. There are people who need help right where we live. Make as much money as we can not so that we have more but so we can give more.

“17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”

If I could have a sign off I think this next quote would be it.

“11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14 to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.”

Yes! Amen.

The gold standard of leadership

1 Timothy 3

Overseers (Pastors) and deacons qualifications.

“3 Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full[a] respect. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.”

The online version that I’ve been using is just a little different than the one that I have been reading. My hard copy says “the husband of but one wife” where this one says “faithful to his wife”. Same idea, being faithful.

Men this is a gold standard list. Orderliness, a life of order and self control. A man who has himself under control. A man who can bring order and control to a system prone to disorder and chaos, his family. It’s not by might or power or vocal volume. It’s by a heart and mind lead and empowered by the Holy Spirit. God in my head and in my heart can bring order first to me then help show, guide and direct those around me to what God has shown me in his word. It is so much easier to read and write about than to do it. Husbands and Fathers, this is the list we are to aspire to. It won’t be easy but that’s why God has called us specifically to the wife and family that we have. We are the specific men for our specific families.

Men, We may not ever lead a church but we are given the opportunity to lead our families. It won’t be by grit or self determination it will be by humbly submitting ourselves to God and being servant leaders in our own homes. We need to be like Jesus who died to his own needs, then died for us all. We need to be like that.

Men the call on us is to pastor our families. Are we up for the challenge? What if our family is a basket case? The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is today. The same goes for pastoring our families. We can only use the second best time, today. Give God our past and present and see what will grow in our future.

An updated memory from 2015

1Timothy 2

“2 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

There are no conditions on this urging. It doesn’t say, if your person in authority is a good guy, if you like him, if he is treating you well, if you agree with their policies. None of that. Just “pray, intercede and give thanks” for our kings and those in authority. I’ve mentioned my prayer list before. There are no politicians on it. That can’t stay that way. Who needs Jesus’ help more than our leaders?

“5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. 7 And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.”

The reason for Paul to peach and teach. The reason for me type on my phone at at 4:45 in the morning. Jesus loves us, and he died to forgive all of our errors, all our mistakes. Jesus loves me, Peter, now you say it, Jesus loves me, __. It’s true. Jesus loves you.

Next Paul requests that women dress modestly.

Then he says something difficult to understand. “11 A woman[a] should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man;[b] she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15 But women[c] will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.”

The denomination I attend was founded by a woman, Aimee Semple McPherson. Our denomination ordains women. We don’t take this passage literally, we assume it was a cultural thing. It’s there so I quoted it. Don’t let what could be controversial side track the main message.

In his letter to the Galatians Paul said this: “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Gal 3:26-29 NIV

Jesus loves us and died for a sick and dying world. Whether you are Male or female, pray for our leaders and tell the world about Jesus.

“This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

Living the Matthew 29 life.

“And thenHe ascended into heaven from whence he shall come to judge the Quick and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.”

I quote from memory, part of the apostles creed. (It was my favorite, the Nicene creed was longer ).

3 of the 4 Gospels have a commissioning by Jesus before his ascension. Matthew’s goes like this: “Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:16-20

Mark and Luke tell us that Jesus ascended into heaven. In Acts Luke says “They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
Acts 1:10-11

Editorially I will add that the angels were implying “didn’t our master and your master just give you a job to do? Will you now get moving on that job?”

Here we are, His church, His people, and we still have the same job to do. We are to make disciples of all nations. When we think about sharing the story of Jesus with the entire world it is overwhelming. Let’s just start with one. A neighbor or a co-worker. That too can be scary. It scares me. But what is the alternative for these people we know who don’t know Jesus? The alternative is that they will enter eternity not hearing about the God who loves them, who suffered and died to save them and now lives forever to intercede for them. Eternity without knowing Jesus is hell.

We live in the next chapter, we live in the era of being The commissioned. We live in Matthew 29. How are we doing on sharing our story, the story of being redeemed, bought back from slavery by a loving God?

Here is a Facebook challenge, share your redemption story with one person this week.

(P.S. It occurs to me that not everyone has a redemption story. If you are reading this and you don’t have a story to tell about how Jesus forgvave all of your sins and became your Lord and master you can begin the story today. “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that he rose from the dead, you will be saved”)

“No other name“

An inconvenient truth. That is what Jesus’ resurrection was to the Jewish leaders. They got the story, the whole story from the guards but chose to invent a lie to maintain the status quo.

Matthew 28 tells us the story.

“While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.
Matthew 28:11-15

They did the wrong thing. They lied and bribed to cover the truth about Jesus.

The question always comes back to us though, what do we believe about Jesus? Who is he? What do his life and death mean for us? Did he really rise from the dead? Where is he now?

The apostle Peter said this to the Jewish leaders after healing a man born lame.

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
Acts 4:12

The inconvenient truth is there is no body in Jesus’ tomb because God raised him from the dead. The truth is inconvenient only for those who don’t believe that Jesus came to die for us sinners and to be raised back to life on the third day.

What do you believe about Jesus?

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”

1 Timothy 1

Timothy, that young man that joined Paul and Barnabus in Lystra. He is now Pastoring the church in Ephesus.

Paul calls him “a true son in the faith”.

This is a tough town. It’s where Paul & Silas got thrown into prison for setting a slave girl free from her demonic possession. Then they had church in chains and were set free by a God Ordained earthquake.

Paul was asked to leave the city but he sent Timothy back in.

This letter is advice to pastor in the thick of it and to a young man living in a sensual city.

We’ll get to the advice later, I was impressed with this in my reading this morning.

Paul sums up his life and ministry I chapter 1.

“12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

Yes Paul, what you said. Yes.

The gospel equalizes us all. We are all sinners who need a savior. Jesus has died for us all. The state of grace, being forgiven, is a confession and an acceptance away.

The final chapter but it is not the end

Acts 28

The final chapter but it isn’t the end.

Paul and crew arrive safely on Malta. They winter there. While there Paul shows Gods love and power by getting bit by a snake and not dying and healing all of the sick on the island.

Life is more than cause and effect. Karma doesn’t work. “3 Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. 4 When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, the goddess Justice has not allowed him to live.” 5 But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. 6 The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead; but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.”

What I’m getting out of this is that Life is neither random nor predictable. Our life and our times are ordered by God.

Paul finally arrived in Rome and was able to stay in a rented house under Roman guard. He first went to the Jewish population, when some rejected his message he went to the Gentiles.

“30 For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. 31 He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!”

What was next for Paul? Well he wrote most of the New Testament. And then? Tradition says he died for his faith.

“Concerning the time, place, and manner of his death, we have little certainty. It is commonly believed that, when a general persecution was raised against the Christians by Nero, about A.D. 64, under pretence that they had set Rome on fire, both St. Paul and St. Peter then sealed the truth with their blood; the latter being crucified with his head downward; the former being beheaded, either in A.D. 64 or 65, and buried in the Via Ostiensis. “

Thanks for following with me as we read through Acts. I’m going to the Timothy’s and Titus next.

May God bless your day.

Incarcerated and ship wrecked yet smack dab in the center of God’s will.

Acts 27

Luke Aristarchus and Paul along with 273 sailors soldiers and prisoners set sail that day…I really want to sing “for a three hour tour..” But it was towards Rome. Things did not go well.

A really bad storm came up. Luke says, “when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we gave up all hope of being saved.”

Storms are a part of sailing. Troubles and trials are a part of life. Every life will encounter them. How will we respond?

Paul was told by Jesus that he would go to Rome. Then while on the ship he was encouraged again by an Angel.

“Last night an angel of God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you’.

It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t without struggle or peril. “42 The soldiers planned to kill the prisoners to prevent any of them from swimming away and escaping. 43 But the centurion wanted to spare Paul’s life and kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land. 44 The rest were to get there on planks or on other pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land safely.”

There is no standard or rule that I can see that God uses to get people where he wants them and we do not know how our patience and confidence in an unseen God is affecting those around us. An all-knowing God makes plans that baffle the unknowing people who serve him. Yet, he cares, yet He sees, yet he knows and provides.

I think I can say safely this, if you are his, you are, right now right where he wants you. I am right where he wants me. Today that is a very uncomfortable spot. I am out on a figurative ledge way beyond my comfort zone, not even in the same ZIP code as my comfort zone. Help me Jesus. Use me while I’m here. But don’t leave me here.