Tag Archives: Christianity

Keep Growing

In 2 Peter 3:18, we are told to”grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ”.

When we first come to Christ, all that we really know is that we are sinners in need of a Savior. I was raised in church and sat through tons of sermons that I heard but they didn’t really mean that much to me. But then one day, God revealed to me my lost condition and what I needed to do. Suddenly, all those sermons became personal. I knew that I was lost, I knew that Jesus was the only hope I had and I knew that I must respond to the gospel that I had heard all my life.

After my prayer asking God to forgive me, I then knew that I was forgiven. I still remember the sense of relief that seemed to flood my soul. I went from feeling condemned to feeling completely forgiven in an instant. I couldn’t explain it, but I felt it.

The next part for me was to do what Peter said when he told us to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. But, instead of growing in my faith, I was content to be saved. Seems like there are lots of people who do this. For me it was a very foolish attitude to have and one that later would allow me to make several mistakes in my life.

I’ve often said that I was taught lots of stuff about how to get along in life. Seems that everyone had good advice on where to work, what kind of job to try for, the vocational school was good for me and all sorts of things. But as it turned out, I didn’t seem to get much about dealing with the bigger more difficult problems in life. Specifically how to deal with the death of family members. From 1976 until 1989 I went through the loss of our first son and also my first and second wife. One wife died of cancer and the other wife to a car wreck. And this was something that I was not ready for and during those years I made lots of bad decisions and did some things that I now wish I hadn’t. I’m not making excuses, it was my fault for not growing in grace and knowledge. If I could do life over, I would make getting closer to God the priority that it should be.

I had so much to do. I was young and just graduated high school, got married and was making my way through life. We worked a lot of overtime at the factory where I worked and if I got a day off and went to church, I usually had to fight to stay awake. I would read and study later. When I got time.

If you can relate to any of this, let me encourage you to take some time to spend reading and meditating on God’s word. I let what I was going through in my life define my view of God. Because I couldn’t understand why I was going through tough times, I ended up with a skewed view of God. I spent a lot of time wondering what God had against me that he was causing me such pain. And that had some bad results.

Let God’s word define who God is to you. Search the scriptures and spend time seeking and drawing near to God. Life still has a way of bringing problems to me to deal with but I can deal with them better if I allow God to be a part of the solution.

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.    Hebrews 11:6

Going Home

A few days ago I was reading in the book of Mark. Chapters 6 and 8 to be exact. As I was reading chapter 6 a few things stood out and gave me some things to ask myself. In the very first verse it says that he went out from there and came to his own country and his disciples followed him. What that means is that he left where he was, and he went home. I got to thinking about going home and what that means. When we go home we feel safe and we can be among people who know us, people who love us and people who would back us up even if everybody else in the whole world was against us, we would still find family and friends that we could count on. It didn’t work like that for Jesus because it says in the second verse that when the Sabbath had come he began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing him were astonished and began asking questions.

 "Where did this man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to him, that such mighty works are performed by his hands! Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?"  So they were offended by him.  Mark 6:2-3

Notice that last line. They were offended by Him. They didn’t stand with Him, they were offended. Instead of being glad that a hometown boy had grown up there and was able to teach the scriptures and perform mighty works, they were questioning His authority to teach. They were also having trouble understanding the mighty works that were performed by His hands. Don’t miss that they seen the mighty works, but all they could do was wonder how it was possible. After all, they knew Him. To them, this was just Jesus, a carpenter. They knew His family and had seen His work as a carpenter. Some may have even watched Him grow as a child into a young man.

In a weird sort of way, they missed who Jesus was (the Messiah) because they thought they knew who Jesus was (the carpenter).

This made me think first about my own attitude towards Jesus. Could it be possible that I’m so comfortable with my knowledge about Jesus that maybe I was missing, or even worse, hindering the works that God wants to do in my life? Over time we can get complacent in our work for God and we even think we can know what God will do in a given situation. We think we know God so well that we can know ahead of time what He’ll do in any situation that comes along in our life. I call this “putting God in a box”. We are comfortable when we do that because God does what we expect. Or we like to think that He does. Like the people in these verses, they were comfortable knowing Jesus as a carpenter, son of Mary, brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon and his sisters who were there with them. But they weren’t comfortable with Jesus being more than they knew. It’s like they were keeping Him in a box, one that they could accept. Remember they questioned what wisdom was given to Him that he could perform such mighty works. One reason I believe that they were offended was because they couldn’t easily explain Him. By the way, it’s never a good idea to put God in a box. You can’t easily explain Him or His ways, so the best thing to do is pray, seek to grow closer and to know Him better.

So far, I have found only one way to know Jesus. That’s through the reading and study of God’s word, prayerfully seeking to know Him and not hinder Him as He works in my life. I can’t rely on what I think I know, I must rely on Jesus.

In Philippians chapter 3 verse 8 Paul says that he counts all things that he has gained as loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord. Then in verse 10 Paul makes the statement ” that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection”. That’s what I want to know. I want to know Jesus in all His glory, power and His righteousness and Holiness.

Thanks for reading and I hope I’ve provided something for you to think about. Have a great day and know that the creator of this universe wants you to visit Him and have a talk. In fact, He died on the cross in your (and my) place just so that could happen.

Where’s your heart?

In the last post I shared how that my understanding of Matthew 6:22-23 had been made clear to me as I was reading a couple of weeks ago.

For this post I’d like to think about the 21st verse. This verse reads easy and it’s one that we usually read quickly and then move on. But it’s really a verse that we should stop and think about what Jesus said.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 
Matthew 6:21 NKJV 
https://bible.com/bible/114/mat.6.21.NKJV

At first glance, I thought it was written backwards. Lots of people have suggested that the way to happiness is to follow your heart. We’ve all heard the phrase “to thine own heart be true.” Sometimes when I’ve been trying to make an important decision, I’ve been advised to trust my heart, that it’ll show me the way. So it almost makes sense if it read that where your heart is, there your treasure will be also. You know, follow your heart to wealth, peace, happiness and the good life. But that’s looking at it through earthly eyes. And don’t forget that the scriptures teach us that our heart can’t be trusted. Jeremiah 17:19 tells us that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it? (KJV) Then later in Roman’s, we learn that there is none righteous, none that seek God. If we aren’t careful we end up spending our time trying to live a good life when what we should be aiming at is living a Godly life. So I am sure it’s not written backwards and it’s written just as it should be.

If I read this as it’s written, and then mediate on it as I should, here’s how it goes. First I have to ask what is it that I really treasure? I remember years ago a preacher said that he could look at anyone’s check book and tell you what that person really thought of God. That one hurt some as you realized that he was saying that what you spent your money on would clearly show what was important to you. And not just money but what about your time, your skills or talents? Jesus was saying that whatever you treasure, or whatever is important to you, if you will take the time to look you’ll see that your heart is there also. I’m amazed that we can be physically present in a church service, but in our mind/ heart we can be miles away. Or we can be troubled in our heart and not be where we need to be. That can happen when we read verses like this and just move on without really thinking about what we’ve read.

God has grown me quite a bit during my life. I used to try to live with one foot in heaven and one on this earth. I was saved and on my way to heaven, but I also felt like I had a life to live here, before I went to heaven. Often my church or Christian life would interfere with my earthly life forcing me to make a choice between the heavenly thing or the earthly thing. In reality it was a choice between what God wanted me to do and what I wanted to do. Mostly simple things like a ball game vs Church service, or going to visit the sick vs going for a ride on my motorcycle. Or maybe whether I should tithe or buy more camera equipment. Then God started using verses like this one that would ask “where’s your heart”? What do you treasure most? Earthly things or working for eternal rewards in heaven?

In the end I had to change my treasure so that my heart would be in the right place. That involves being heavenly minded and focused on serving God and others and not myself. And changing my treasure from what I want to what God wants. I’ve been trying to lay up treasures in heaven and not on earth like Jesus advised. I’m not perfect and I can still make bad decisions sometimes but by the grace of God those times are getting farther apart.

Have a great day and know that Jesus treasured us so much that he came to earth, lived a totally sin free life, and died on the cross for our sins.

Good Eye- Bad Eye

The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

Matthew 6:22-23 NKJV

Often in our journey through the Bible, we read scriptures that aren’t really clear in what they are saying. We try our best to understand what God is saying but it just doesn’t jump off the page and into your heart. Then one day you will be reading and suddenly it jumps off the page and it clears up lots of questions that you had. That was my experience a couple of weeks ago with the verses above. I was reading a different translation than I normally read and this changed the way I understood these verses.

For a long time if you asked me about the good eye vs the bad eye I would have said something like this. The good eye belongs to someone who is focused on God and is keeping their life focused on God’s word and living a life that is pleasing to God. By living life focused on God their whole body is full of light and this enables them to give God the proper place in their life. They find joy by serving God and serving others. On the other hand, if your eye is bad, you are living a life that is focused on yourself. Not caring about God or the life He wants you to live. This person is mostly interested in their own life and not looking to God for instruction or direction in life. This is completely opposite so this results in their body and life being filled with darkness.

One way to understand scripture is looking at the verses around the one that you are trying to understand. In this case, verses 19-21 deal with the difference between storing up treasures on earth and laying up treasures in heaven. They remind us that earthly treasures can be destroyed over time or even stolen. Heavenly treasures though are not vulnerable to rust or being stolen. Then we are reminded that where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Basically this is a warning about how we use our money. Do we spend it on earthly things or heavenly things? I’ve often said that whenever I give to the church or someone in need, I’ve also made a heavenly deposit that will be stored in heaven to my future rewards.

Then in verse 24, which is after the verses above, we are told that we can not serve two masters because we will hate one and love the other or we will be loyal to the one and despise the other. The verse ends telling us we cannot serve God and mammon, or money.

So there you have it. Nestled between verses that deal with money we find these verses about the good eye and the bad eye. Sometimes this happens to me and I find a verse that seems out of place. That was the case with these as I didn’t really catch the connection between the eyes and money. That is until a couple of weeks ago. I was reading a new to me translation. The Complete Jewish Study Bible. I usually read the New King James Version, but I like to read other translations as they will sometimes help me get a clearer view of what I’m reading. That’s what happened when these verses got really clear to me.

I was reading in Matthew chapter 6 and when I came to the “eye” verses, this translation described the good as generous and the bad as stingy. And suddenly everything fit together perfectly. The eye verses were dealing with money also and they were right where they belonged. I had never thought of generous as “good eye” or stingy as a “bad eye”. According to a side note in the study Bible, this was a Jewish saying that was popular during the time Jesus was on the earth. A rabbi might say , “if a person gives a gift, let him give it with a good eye, ” meaning give it generously. I never got that until I was fortunate enough to read this translation.

I guess now would be a good time to confess that I’m not the sharpest pencil in the box, but with God’s help, I’m still learning. Somehow I had never seen generous or stingy in the verses. But I’m glad that God has shown this to me. It’s so much clearer now than it was. It has made me look at my own giving and question if my giving lives up to what God wants us to do. I want my body and life to be full of light and to be a blessing to God.

In fact I began to think about a biblical definition of generous and it didn’t take long to realize that the gift God gave was the most generous gift of all.

For God so loved the world that He gave His  only begotten Son,  that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.    John 3:16. NKJV

Old Barns

A little blue sky, a little green field, a small patch of woods and an old barn.

When I first saw this old barn, the first thing I thought was that it was just an old barn. There was nothing that really grabbed my attention except for the fact that it was standing all alone, surrounded by the trees. I liked the way the boards had been angled on the walls and the red tin roof served to make it all complete. So I decided to capture the shot if, for no other reason, just to have the photo. It really didn’t strike me as something special.

But then, a while later, I was going through the photos on my computer and found the old barn. I started to look at it and did a little editing to help bring out some of the colors. Then it was cropped to help the composition. And before I knew it, I had a photo that I wanted on the wall of my house. I ended up ordering it in a 16×20 metallic paper print that makes all the detail and color pop. And it’s really pleasing to me when I view it. Just looking at the print brings joy to my heart.

Different barn, same day

This second barn was just down the road a little way from the other barn. I liked the way this one also sat at the edge of a small patch of woods and the way the tree branches hung down from where I was standing. Again, there was nothing about this shot that really grabbed your attention, but I liked it so I took it and went on my way.

Then, just like the other barn photo, I did some editing. First I added some detail, did some cropping and made a few adjustments to the lighting and after some editing, I found another pic of an old barn that I really liked. This one is different due to the look that the increased details added, but I think its got a good look. It pleases me and that’s what I was after.

Both of these photos lived in my computer for a while. The basics of the photos were there but they needed some work to really make them pleasing to me. In a way, my walk with God has been like that. I wasn’t perfect and was a long way from fitting the description of Christian. But over time, God has edited me. He’s removed some things, He’s added other things and has brought me out of things that were harmful. God has also taken care of me during sickness and He even delivered me from what the doctors thought was certain death. And He has not only delivered me that time but He has protected me so many times even when I didn’t know I needed protection. In other words, He has kept me and He has been so very faithful.

But still, I’m not perfect and there are things in my life that need some work. But I know that God will keep and sustain me. He has promised that He would never leave me nor forsake me. And sometime in the future, God will look at me and decide I’m a finished work. Then He’ll take me home to live forever with Him in heaven.

Now, isn’t that a most wonderful thought?

Spring 2013 and Easter

This is a post I made in spring 2013. I thought it was worth posting again. Hope you enjoy!

I’m looking out the window at the car lot watching things move as a slight breeze is in the air, little specks of snow are twirling in the air as if they are dancing in rhythm with the breeze, and it’s warm in the office so all in all,  things are good.

Then I have to go outside.

Suddenly, the gentle breeze is fierce and will cut you in two. (seems like) AND the snow specks are like little aggravating insects hitting me in the face. AND, it’s COLD outside!

WOW! Just a few feet difference in my position on earth seem to make a huge difference in how I view and experience things. The breeze didn’t change. The snow specks didn’t change. The temperature didn’t drop suddenly. All that changed was my physical position in relation to the elements around me. And what a huge effect it had on my experience.

That’s the way it is when you become a Christian. Not one thing in the world changes, except you!

This life is full of troubles. Everything from sickness, money problems, job problems, marriage problems, family problems, loneliness, depression, loss of loved ones, etc…… The list could go on and on as it seems that there are almost as many problems as there are people. Life is hard. Jesus said it himself in John 16:33These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

I for one am very glad that this verse is recorded in the scriptures. Being a Christian does not mean that problems vanish. Problems are a way of life in this world. Jesus said that in the world we would have tribulation. AND He said to be of good cheer, because HE has overcome the world. AND He is willing to help us overcome the world also. Jesus is telling his followers about the Holy Spirit and how he would come to be with them after He is gone. They didn’t understand why Jesus was leaving or where He was going, but Jesus was reassuring them they would not be alone.

When we become a Christian, we also have God’s Holy Spirit living inside us to teach us, comfort us and guide us.

Remember at the beginning of this post how that a small change in my physical position made a huge difference in the way I experienced the things outside? Remember how I said this was like becoming a Christian? Here’s why. The office is a warm place that offers me protection from the cold, the wind, the snow specks, and whatever is outside. It’s a place that I can go to escape all the harsh ugly stuff we call weather. Just a few feet difference in my PHYSICAL position makes the difference. Likewise, just a small step in my SPIRITUAL position makes a huge difference in the way I experience life’s problems. Just like the weather, the problems are still there, but now God’s Holy Spirit is alive in me, comforting me, guiding me and giving me peace. I still have problems, but now experience them in a whole new way. I don’t have an office that I go to, but I have a God that comes to me. He comforts me, gives me peace, uses my problems to glorify Himself and in the end, shares that with me. He’s pretty awesome.

In a few weeks, we will celebrate the death, burial and most importantly resurrection of Jesus Christ. He has overcome all that this world had to offer. And through Jesus Christ, I will also.

 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Romans 10:9-10

My Personal Lighthouse

Photo by Anand Dandekar on Pexels.com

Isn’t it pretty? There’s something about a lighthouse scene that is relaxing and peaceful. The waters are calm, the sky is gorgeous and even the rocks around the lighthouse seem to be inviting you to sit and relax as you ponder the big things of life. Or at least that’s what this scene does for me.

But what if I was in a ship just off the shore in the middle of the night. And just for our thoughts, what if it was stormy and very dark. I’ve been in darkness so dark you could not literally see your hand in front of your face even though you knew it was there. Then the scene changes. The lighthouse becomes only a light that shines in the darkness. You can’t see the choppy waters or the rocks that threaten to attack your boat or even make your boat crash. But you see the light and you know by the light where you are.

That’s a pretty good visual of a Christian life. At least my Christian life. I’ll be cruising along enjoying the trip and then a storm comes up. Suddenly it gets dark and I find myself not knowing which way to turn. BUT, if I can remember to look up to Jesus, then just like the lighthouse, Jesus is the light shining INTO my darkness. He takes care of me and leads me to safety. Everytime. He’s never failed and He won’t ever fail me.

Jesus Christ is my personal lighthouse.

Do you know Jesus? He will do the same for you. Have a good day.

Lord, May I Please Enjoy This Ride….

This is Charli Jane as she is preparing for her first ever ride on the Big Wheel. She seems a little nervous, and I’m not sure but it looks like she is praying. This photo was taken last fall when we took a day off and went to Dollywood.  I like memories like this and just thought I would share it today.

It’s been a while since I have been here to post anything. Seems like that is a recurring theme with this site. I have great plans, wonderful ideas, but can’t seem to find the time to do this. I thought time was all I would have when I retired, but I seem to have less of it each day.

Have a great day, know that God loves you and desires to know you through His Son Jesus.

Be Perfect……..

WOW, what a thought. Be perfect. A while back,  my Sunday School class studied the Sermon on the Mount that Jesus preached and Matthew recorded in chapter 5 of his book. For sure Jesus laid down some pretty hard directions for us to follow. He took outward actions and placed them in our hearts. For instance it’s not enough just to follow the do not murder rule, Jesus said to not even entertain anger. Don’t commit adultery became don’t even look and lust about it. He was changing the way we understood what God wanted us to do and how he wanted us to act. His point was to go beyond outward obedience and change our hearts inside. When you think about it, all actions are a reflection of the condition of our hearts.

But then Jesus ended the sermon with these words. Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

I thought about that for a while. There was no way I could be perfect. But Jesus said for me to be just that. I believe that my heavenly Father is perfect in every way you can list. He has never made a mistake, never been wrong, never falsely accused anyone of anything, never missed an opportunity to help someone, never failed to love anyone. He is perfect. And I am not.

But here’s what Jesus wants us to know. Remember that he said early in the sermon that unless our righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, we would never enter the kingdom of heaven. The scribes and Pharisees had the actions down pat. But they only applied them to outward expressions. He was telling us that we need to train our hearts and minds to be better than our actions.  And in doing so, our actions could move up to the next level and would become closer to what God wanted for us. He wanted us to understand that our hearts (mind) controls our actions. He wanted us to be intentional in our actions. Not reacting to what happens around us but reacting in a manner that would show God’s power and love to those around us. He wants us to be salt and light so that we can make a difference in this world.

I can’t explain God’s love for us. But I do know one thing for sure. God’s love towards me and you is intentional. He chose to love us. As much as I wish that I could point to something good inside of me and say “That’s why God loves ME!” I can’t.  I was un-loveable. Sinful. Selfish. Yet, God CHOSE to love me. And you.

And He wants us to be perfect. This isn’t possible for us in this world the way most would think of perfect.

But what if perfect meant to be mature and intentional in making our thoughts Godly?

Most of the time, without even thinking about it, we reflect our earthly parents. My granddaughter is her mother made over. She has her actions, her expressions, her attitude. She also has some of her father’s actions, expressions and attitudes. Some people claim they can see me when my granddaughter looks a certain way or does something in a particular way. And she’s only 5 years old so I am sure that she isn’t aware of all this. But she reflects her parents.

Jesus wanted us to learn to reflect our heavenly Father in the same way. When we are intentional in following Jesus’s teaching in the way we treat others, and we love as God commanded us to, I believe that we are approaching what Jesus meant when He said to be perfect. We reflect the love of our heavenly Father. We reflect the grace given to us. We let the world see Jesus through our actions and our intentions. This should be a Christian’s goal:  To accurately reflect the grace and love of our heavenly Father. Strive to be perfect in doing that and I believe we will be doing what Jesus said to do.

Old Fashioned Revival

Here’s a post about an old fashioned revival at Higher Ground Baptist in Kingsport, Tennessee. In addition to the prayers that God would send revival, there was a huge amount of work that went into the preparations for this revival. First was setting up the tent, a stage had to be made, chairs placed, a generator set up to provide electricity for sound and lights and many other things. I guess that’s one thing that made it old fashioned. Several people were involved in the preparations and not just showing up to hear a preacher. It seems that today we are so rushed that we barely have time to go to church. But here is an event that has God’s people working together asking God to work in their lives and the life of our church family. Pastor Ronnie brought sermons that challenged our faith from the beginning point of salvation all the way through to living Godly lives. The weather was great and God truly blessed us with His presence. Some folks were saved, some were challenged and wanted to draw closer to God as they walk through life with Him. One answered a call to the ministry during this revival. All these are elements of what most remember as old fashioned revivals. God working and calling people into a relationship with Him. All in all, there’s a lot to be said for God’s people working together and seeking God’s presence in our lives.

Here’s a link to all the photos that I have of the revival. God Bless.