Monthly Archives: December 2014

Choose Life

Squinting into the invisible – Happy New Year!

As we herald in the New Year we look back at the year behind us to see what we have gained and what we have lost. This introspection causes us to make resolutions for a better year ahead. We look forward into the invisible. Squinting at what we hope to see this time next year. We want to be skinnier, healthier, faster, better, richer, cooler, happier, holier, etc., etc. etc..

But, in reality, we can not see into the invisible distant future. In fact, we can not see past this moment we are standing in. The very time that we count down to the millisecond is invisible too and yet we measure it as if we could control it. But we can not.

All we have is this moment and hopefully the next and so on. We may take it for granted or obese over it. We can waste it or cherish it. It’s all ours to choose. We live (or die) by the choices we make in those moments and no choice is greater than the one that affects our ever after. Because we do not know what the next moment may bring we need to secure our place in eternity. No, I am not going to sell you a burial plot! I’m not talking about where your bones end up. I am talking about the eternity that awaits us all.

We try so hard to hold onto this time here on earth. We measure the passage of time and collect memories and photos and belongings of our time here – but it’s fleeting at best. No one knows when the clock will stop. But when our time is up on earth we will pass, as effortlessly as walking threw your own front door, into a place that has no time. A place that we have chosen for ourselves that will be home for forever.

Now, maybe you are saying that you haven’t made a choice yet so how could there be an eternal place waiting for you? Simple, to not choose Life is to choose Death. When faced with the choice of a life with or without Jesus on earth you have chosen your own forever place. The few short years here on this blue ball in space are nothing compared with the never-ending life afterwards.

In some ways we are like a child within a womb. Safe and secure in being cared for and fed until suddenly we are moving towards an end of the life we know and into some foreign unknown world. Obviously, an infant has no comprehension of what is going on as it is being born – it’s a metaphor. It’s a perfectly good metaphor for the vast differences between the finite possibilities that exist within the womb and the infinite ones that wait outside of it. This world that is plagued with sin, sickness, strife and sorrow is a short-lived journey into a much greater world of limitlessness. It can best be described as rest stop or lay-over between where we came from and where we are going to because in the vast scheme of things it is that brief.

So, as we look into the invisible space of this next year and squint at what we hope will be lets take a moment to look behind 2015 into the wondrous world of eternity and …………

Choose Life

 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live Deu 30:19 KJV

Thank you all for making this past year so special. I hope that you have been encouraged by reading our posts as much as we have been in writing them. As we cross the threshold into a brand New Year it is my hope that all of us can rise to the occasion and spread the Good News of Jesus even further.  If you would like to see the impact you have had on us this past year check out the year in review page or click here.

Happy New Year and God Bless you all, Al and Betty

You Do As I Say Not As I Do !!

“Do as I say but not as I do!”

Ever hear someone say that? Ever had it said to you? Ever said it to someone?

My grandfather, who raised me, used to say that often. I always found it to be confusing and hypocritical. After all wasn’t he supposed to be setting an example for me to follow? Shouldn’t he have said “Now, you do exactly as I do.”? Well, perhaps, in some perfect world that’s what would have happened. But in reality, he wasn’t always setting a good example for me to follow even though he tried.

The Word of God has a lot to say about example-setting. Parents are told to Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Pr 22:6 KJV That word “Train” is the Hebrew word Chanak and is found only 4 times in the Old Testament and it means to train, dedicate and inaugurate. So, we could say train up or dedicate your child in the way he should go. either way it is one of many examples of what the Word says about teaching our children – none of which tells us to behave one way and demand that they do differently.

One of the most wonderful things about our Almighty God is that He doesn’t just “tell” us how we ought to behave, He shows us. Jesus was sent to show us the kingdom of Heaven. He walked this earth in the same flesh and bones that we also live in. The Word tells that –  

we do not have a high priest {Jesus} who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin. Heb 4:15 HCSB

Jesus had victory over the same sinful temptations we face every day. Before you dismiss that awesome fact by saying “Well, it’s easy for Jesus to have the victory. He is God after all!”, keep in mind that this Scripture clearly says He WAS tempted. Jesus did, however, know just what must be done to defeat temptation – fellowship with the Father.

Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. John 17:11 KJV

Fellowship with the Father threw continual prayer was modeled for us by Jesus. He told us plainly that He could do nothing except what He sees the Father do. Likewise, He also encouraged us to be in fellowship with Him when He told us that without Him we could do nothing.

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. John 15:5 KJV

Do as I do not just as I say because actions speak louder than words !

The best thing we can train up our children to do is to lean on Jesus threw prayer. The only effective way to accomplish this is by modeling that for them to see.

Thank You Lord Jesus for making clear the path we all must walk to make out way to YOU.

Be Blessed and thank you all for stopping by, Al

 

The featured image is I'm warning you by evertt225 at Depositphotos.com

 

What Child Is This ?

For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior,

who is Christ the Lord.

 

About this time Caesar Augustus, the Roman emperor, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the nation. (This census was taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.)

Everyone was required to return to his ancestral home for this registration. And because Joseph was a member of the royal line, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, King David’s ancient home—journeying there from the Galilean village of Nazareth. He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was obviously pregnant by this time.

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born; and she gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him in a blanket[a] and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the village inn.

That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly an angel appeared among them, and the landscape shone bright with the glory of the Lord. They were badly frightened, 10 but the angel reassured them.

“Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you the most joyful news ever announced, and it is for everyone! 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born tonight in Bethlehem![b] 12 How will you recognize him? You will find a baby wrapped in a blanket,[c] lying in a manger!”

13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God:

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,” they sang,[d] “and peace on earth for all those pleasing him.”

15 When this great army of angels had returned again to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Come on! Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

Luke 2: 1-15 Living Bible

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS

He’s Making a List…..

As the song says,

He’s making a list

checking it twice

gonna find out

whose naughty and nice

This may be true for good old Santa Claus. We are told he keeps a list in hopes of manipulating us into toeing a line of good behavior. His list is supposed to have the names of the naughty and nice children but I have never heard of any naughty ones. Have you? Perhaps there were naughty children who got coal for Christmas in a land long ago and far away but to my knowledge every one gets on the “Nice” list these days.

Sadly, this mind set has carried over into the secular thoughts about God and Heaven. Some people see God as a Santa in the sky Who they can make a wish to when they want something.  Furthermore, there is the belief that all the world will eventually be seen as “nice” or just and therefore will be saved. There’s never a thought of whether or not they are naughty or nice. If there is any guilt about bad behavior they simply bargain the consequences away promising to do better if He will only just come threw this time for them.

God is concerned with whether or not we do the right thing although His idea of “Nice” is not the same as ours. We can try to live a good life and be a good person but by whose standards do we see “Good”? God gave us the Ten Commandments to show us what is expected of us and to open our eyes to the fact that we can never live up to them. At least not by ourselves. He is ready willing and able to help us live that victorious life. This is the very reason we have this holiday season. It’s a very well known passage of scripture but always bears repeating –

 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.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3:16-17 NKJV

Our in ability to live up to Gods Standard of righteousness (otherwise referred to as Sin), is the very reason we needed a Savior. God Almighty sent the answer to our sin problem. Rather than just let us wallow in our inability He freely chose to come to us and take on our fragile form and pay the penalty for our sins. There is, however, one very simple condition that is left for us. We have to accept that this was done for us because we are sinners and repent of our sinfulness. Once we do this we can honor His sacrifice by letting Him lead us down a path of righteousness – His righteousness.

For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” John 18:37 NKJV

But this salvation the Savior brings requires an action on our part. It isn’t just given to us the day we are born. we have to accept this gift by recognizing our need and asking Jesus to be our Lord as well as Savior. It really is that simple. Thankfully!

But although he made the world, the world didn’t recognize him when he came. Even in his own land and among his own people, the Jews, he was not accepted. Only a few would welcome and receive him. But to all who received him, he gave the right to become children of God. All they needed to do was to trust him to save them.  All those who believe this are reborn!—not a physical rebirth resulting from human passion or plan—but from the will of God. John 1:10-13 LB

 The Reason 1

He’s making a list and I hope your name is on it because one day there will be a reading of the lists and a separating of the naughty and the nice – Jesus told us about that day several times –

 “Just as in this story the thistles are separated and burned, so shall it be at the end of the world: I[will send my angels, and they will separate out of the Kingdom every temptation and all who are evil,  and throw them into the furnace and burn them. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Then the godly shall shine as the sun in their Father’s Kingdom. Let those with ears, listen!  Mat 13:40-43

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”Acts 16:29-31 LB

This may not be the usual or politically correct Christmas message but the truth can be hard to hear sometimes but nevertheless needs to be stated………

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL OUR FRIENDS

and God Bless you in the New Year, Al and Betty

"Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" is a Christmas song. 
It was written by John Frederick Coots and Haven Gillespie

Holiday Traditions

It’s the most Wonderful time of the year….

There’ll be parties for hosting…

Marshmallows for toasting and

Caroling out in the snow *

As the song says, It’s the most Wonderful time of the year…. although some of the traditions listed might not be among those you and your family participate in I am sure you have some. Some families hand-make raviolis, some make boxes of cookies,  others send letters with a summation of the years events. Whatever the case may be for you and yours I am certain that you have warm memories of the traditions that this time of year always brings.

For me, It’s a Wonderful Life** is always a part of the Christmas season. I can have it playing in the background as we trim the tree or make out cards to send. I suspect I can recite it verbatim by now and have my favorite parts as well as the scenes I would like to past over.

As many of you may know it’s a story of how a man gets a chance to see how the world would be if he never existed. It’s a real eye-opener to see how much one man can impact the lives of so many people even if he doesn’t know it. Keeping in mind that it is a fictional account of how things might be I feel it drives home several valuable points.

Point One – Every single person is important and special. Regardless of how we look or what we do or where we live or what we have or do not have – we are each very unique and play a role on this stage of life that no one else could.

I will praise You
because I have been remarkably and wonderfully madePs 139:14

Point Two – Money isn’t the most important thing in the world. George Bailey jumps off of a bridge because he is faced with scandal, bankruptcy and jail over the lose of a large sum of money. In the end we see that he is the wealthiest guy in town because he has friends who love him and come to his defense.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.- 1Tim 6:10

Final Point – Be content with what you have. God loves you and will not leave you or forsake you. As the saying goes – “grow where you’re planted”. I am not saying that we shouldn’t be ambitious and work hard to better ourselves but not at the cost of being discontented with our current life.

Your life should be free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you. – Heb 13:5

We watch George Bailey grow from a happy, self-assured young man with lofty goals of seeing the world become a sullen broken-spirited and angry man who feels trapped in his dead-end job and middle class lifestyle. He sees those around him move on to successful careers. The straw that breaks the camels back is the lose of a large sum of money by his business partner Uncle Billy. Believing he is worth more dead than alive George jumps off of a nearby bridge. After the dreamlike sight of a world without him George is returned to his life with a new outlook and appreciation of what he has. I always look around me and appreciate what I have when I watch this movie because – truly It Is A Wonderful Life !

This Christmas Season I hope that all of us carry the love of God to those around us as we enjoy what we have and celebrate the Greatest Gift of all – Jesus !

IMG_7169

 

*”It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” is a popular Christmas song written in 1963 by Edward Pola and George Wyle. It was recorded and released that year by pop singer Andy Williams for his first Christmas album, The Andy Williams Christmas Album
**It’s a Wonderful Life is a 1946 American Christmas fantasy comedy-drama film produced and directed by Frank Capra, based on the short story “The Greatest Gift”, which Philip Van Doren Stern wrote in 1939 and published privately in 1945

Warning! Unstable conditions ahead!

Scared to Death on the Bridge

How do we react to instability in our lives? Do we frightfully hang on for dear life, as I did while crossing this rope bridge in Ireland, or do we rest easy knowing we are in the Fathers arms?

I never have been much for heights. Although I have been to the top of the Empire State building without a care and if needed I can walk most roofs but  you couldn’t get me on a roller coaster until recently.  I think the reason behind my fear of certain heights was control. If I felt like I was in control of the situation I wasn’t afraid no matter how high I was.

But we aren’t always in control of our environment or the conditions of the road ahead of us. What then? Fearfully clinging? Or resting easy? What would the Word of God encourage us to do? How would Jesus hope to see us react? I am reminded of a circumstance that Peter found himself in. Matthew records the event here.

While in a storm swept boat with the disciples Peter calls out to Jesus Who is walking on the water towards them. Peter asks Jesus to let him come to Jesus on the water and Jesus calls for him to come. Peter steps out of the boat and walks on the water to Jesus – UNTIL he takes his eyes off of Jesus and looks at the storm – THEN HE SINKS LIKE A ROCK! The disciples were fighting that storm for hours. Truly an unstable environment. Yet when Peter saw Jesus and kept his eyes on Him he overcame the circumstances around him and did the impossible – he walked on water. But when he looked around at the high waves, he was terrified and began to sink (vs. 30 TLB). But, remember, the high waves and rough seas were there before he stepped out onto the sea, they just weren’t the focus of his attention.

So, clearly we all need to remember that when the waves and storms and instabilities of life arise, we can rise above them if we focus on Jesus and not the circumstance. The following is a short list of encouraging words found in Gods Word for us all to hide in our hearts for a rainy day.

So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. Mark 11:22

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  John 14:1 and 27 NIV

  There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love 1 John 4:18 NKJV

 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God,that He may exalt you in due time, 

casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6

 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,  May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.  Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,  Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. Eph 3:17-21 KJV

 

My Friends please hold His words close to your hearts because the Word tells us that there will be a time of unprecedented instability in the future (maybe our future, maybe in some distant time) but we can stand the times of emotional, economic or social instability if we stand in HIM Whom first placed our feet on solid ground.

Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ Philippians 1:6 KJV

Rope bridgeCarrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is a famous rope bridge near Ballintoy in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The bridge links the mainland to the tiny island of Carrickarede. It spans 20 meters (66 ft) and is 30 meters (98 ft) above the rocks below. The bridge is mainly a tourist attraction and is owned and maintained by the National Trust. In 2009 it had 247,000 visitors. The bridge is open all year round (subject to weather) and people may cross it for a fee.

I hear voices…..

Have you ever reached for an umbrella as you were leaving the house on a sunny day? Have you ever suddenly decided to take a different way home from work only to find out later that there was a big accident on your regular route? Have you ever had a loved one in your thoughts so much that you just had to stop and pray for them?

If you answered yes to one or more of these you maybe hearing voices also. That voice, may just be, the  still small voice of God directing and leading you. In a noisy world with buds in our ears and texting at our fingertips it can be hard to hear anything going on around us. Even so, it is possible for God to get threw to us. It’s a subtle yet certain sound that comes from within and can, but shouldn’t, be ignored.

There have been times when I am loading the truck for work and felt the need to  include a  tool that would not be required for that days work – and yet something came up causing me to reach for it! This is an example from years ago and I will not bore you with the several others that come to mind because I am sure that you have many of your own to share. So, we hear voices. That’s a good thing. Right?

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. … 1John 4:1-3 KJV

I recall being taught years ago that there are three voices we can hear – our own thoughts/ideas, the voice of temptation/devil and the voice of God. Although many people might argue the point, I believe that the voice that is telling me to do good even if I don’t care to at that moment is from God. It is kinda like that old cartoon where there’s a character faced with a decision and “puff” a pure white, halo-headed angel and a bright red, pitch-forked wielding devil appear to whisper the words of encouragement. In reality, it can be two against one if you factor in our sin nature and the devil against the Holy Spirit. Good is only victorious when we choose to die-to-self and side with God. But that is what this life here is all about. Isn’t it?

Choices

Decisions

Freewill

Colorado Vista

 

 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live

                                                   Choose Life and Be Blessed, Al