Tag Archives: choices

What are you feeding?

Have you ever had a garden? Whether it was a flower bed or a vegetable garden you probably learned very quickly that if you neglected to water or feed it things died. Conversely, if you diligently took the time each day to weed and feed and water it things flourished and grew.

   It’s a very basic rule of gardening –

What you feed grows and what you starve dies

   The Bible speaks often of spiritual things in terms of gardening and farming for good reason. The same rules apply. Neglect a garden and things die. Forget to water a potted plant and it will wilt. Don’t spend enough time with your spouse or family and you loose connections. Keep putting off time for Jesus and you will loose your strength.

What you feed grows and what you starve dies

    We like to have flowers in the Summer. Hanging baskets and flower beds as well as potted plants on the deck and steps but what the sprinklers can’t reach we have to water – or else. We took a two week trip this Summer to London and Paris. Family members watched our home and tried to keep up with the flowers.  When we came home we had to throw out some plants and patiently nurse others back from the brink of death because they didn’t get the attention they needed.

What you feed grows and what you starve dies

    Habits can be like gardens as well. Little white sins too. Our enemy, the devil, roams about like a roaring lion seeking who he can devour. Give place to him with a secret sin or a bad habit at your own peril because what you feed grows and what you starve dies. Have you ever been able to quit a habit? Maybe smoking, over eating, drinking, gambling, gossip, anger, whatever? Do you recall the difficulty that you faced those first few moments after making the decision to turn away from the habit? How the days seemed so long? How hard it was at times? You were breaking a tie. A soul-tie and the way you were breaking it was by starving it. You refused to give in to it’s pull. You stopped feeding it and it didn’t want to die. If you were successful it did die and no longer has power over you or pulls at you. But it took time and prayer and maybe even family and friends to get you threw it.

   I quit smoking in June of 2004. Eleven years ago. Cigarettes no longer call to me or have any power over me. But it wasn’t easy. I had tried before and failed. Thank God that I got the victory but if I go back to smoking it will start the cycle of slave and master all over again. Now, before you say that I’m being melodramatic, consider that Jesus told us that we can not serve two masters. You will love the one and hate the other. Maybe cigarettes aren’t your problem. Maybe you have no problems. Maybe Jesus is the Lord of every area of your life and Praise the Lord if that’s true. But for those who struggle with secret sins or bad habits (anything you know the Word speaks out against) please keep this simple truth in mind –

What you feed grows and what you starve dies

You can do all things threw Christ Who strengthens you

and you can be victorious over any enemy

stop feeding it and it will die

and a dead thing

can not

hurt you!

Be blessed, AL

Can I get a Witness?!

OK, show of hands, who cringes at the idea of going door-to-door for Jesus?

OK, now those of you who didn’t raise your hands don’t worry, the rest of us will pray for you.

   Seriously, When it comes to street evangelism I always feel uncomfortable – until I get out there. The idea of knocking on a strangers door or stopping someone in the street is challenging at best. When I first started going out with my church group I realized what it must be like to be one of those cold-callers that get hung up all the time. At best you get a door slammed in your face or ignored. At worst you get threatened, cursed at or duck a punch. But it’s worth it.

   Once, while walking from one house to another, a car parked on the street and a family stepped out of the car. I was talking to one of the people in my group while the family exited the vehicle. A young man stepped onto the sidewalk, not watching where he was going either, and we bumped into each other. We grabbed each other instinctual to catch ourselves from falling. If appearances count for anything this young man and I were as opposite as two people could be. The shock and surprise on his face quickly turned to anger as he looked at me in my “Jesus is Lord” T-shirt and my Bible in hand. Without thinking I put my hand on his shoulder and to this day can not tell you what I said to him. All I do remember is finally getting around to asking him if I could pray with him. He said yes and began to cry. We prayed and he accepted Jesus as Lord right there. His mother thanked me and I never saw any of them again.

   The point is that I bumped into that young man but I didn’t speak to him. God used me to touch him. I am certain that he had heard of Jesus many many times before that day. But I was blessed to be the one God used to bring him home. You see it isn’t about me, or you, or any of us. Paul addressed this when he found that there were those who claimed to be part of Paul’s group and others who claimed to belong to Apollos, causing prideful division in the Corinthian church.

For since there is envy and strife among you, are you not fleshly and living like unbelievers? For whenever someone says, “I’m with Paul,” and another, “I’m with Apollos, are you not unspiritual people? What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? They are servants through whom you believed, and each has the role the Lord has given. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. Now the one planting and the one watering are one in purpose, and each will receive his own reward according to his own labor.For we are God’s coworkers1 Cor 3:3-9 HCSb

   What a relief! I am not responsible for leading anyone to Christ. If they reject me, threaten me, ignore me, it doesn’t count against me. The pressure is off. Right?

Sort of. You see I am still called to go.

I am called to go because I have no idea if I will be planting a seed or watering a seed planted or harvesting that which others have labored for. It does help me to know that I may never see those who I witness to again. It also helps that they don’t know me. The anonymity is a safe place for me to speak from because it gives me room to be a fool for God so to speak. It also helps me not take the rejection personally. If they reject me they are actually rejecting Jesus and that is sad knowing what we know.

Regardless, I am called to go.

Called because Jesus said Go.

And if I go, in obedience and humility,

He will go with me and

if Jesus is with me anything is possible.

  Go, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and see what happens.

You might be pleasantly surprised.

Side note – Just in case you feel I was being a bit boastful in this post I have to say that there are,  regrettably,  far too many times when I felt lead to tell someone about Jesus and held my tongue.

Be blessed, Al

Hello…long time no see.

Hello my friends and fellow bloggers,

I haven’t shared anything since my mournful Saturday post, just before Easter Sunday, for several reason which I would like to share here today. It’s not that any earth-shattering event took up my time and attention. It wasn’t any personal crisis or family related problem. No, nothing great or loud. It was more like a whisper that hummed in my ear and kept me from articulating myself.

The distraction keeping me from sharing my faith with you here is the concept of blogging itself. I’m an older man, in my late fifties, and I have seen the growth of technology with all that it brings. Cell phones, Facebook, Twitter, World Wide Web, Blogging etc. etc. I embrace the ability to communicate and surf the web and use map applications and so on. I also jumped at the idea of creating a blog to share my love of Scripture and my view points in hope of encouraging others.

BUT

   But, isn’t it all a bit self-involved, self-important, self-serving? Do I really have anything to say that hasn’t been said before? What impact can I really have by sitting here in my small office telling fellow bloggers what they already know? Isn’t it a bit like preaching to the choir? Shouldn’t I be standing on a street corner handing out tracts and sharing the love of Jesus Christ with those who may not have found His love for themselves?

Betty and I attended (past tense) a church where the Pastor, during a bar-b-que, commented that street evangelism and tent revivals “don’t work anymore”. Really? Seriously? The absurdity of such a comment echos in my ears today as my contemplation of my blogging value whispers in my ear.

Is this what I should be doing? What good does it do? What direction should I go?

   I haven’t yet found the answer. There is a value to encouraging each other – iron sharpening iron and all that. But I will not give up or silence the voice inside me that cries out to tell them about Jesus. With everything that is going on in the world around us – NOW more than ever – Jesus is the answer. So, I may not be sounding a trumpet here as much as in the past. I will Go and tell them about Jesus.

I would lovingly encourage you all to do the same. Jesus is coming.

Thank you all for the pats on the back and thumbs up you have given me.

I pray that God continues to richly bless you. Al and Betty

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

You May Be The Only One They See!

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players
William Shakespeare
When we step out of our door each day we are stepping onto a stage of sorts. Out in the public there is no where to hide and like it or not, we are being watched! As Christians we have a responsibility to be a witness for Jesus and the Good News.
Paul said it best when he stated that  “You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, recognized and read by everyone.”
We may be the only copy of Gods Word that some may ever read. They may very well judge all “Christians” by our actions. The Devil is called the accuser of the brethren which means he is out there just waiting for us to trip up so he can point it out to everyone. “They SAY that they are Christian but did you see what they just did?”
Our witness is all we have. Even though we know that we are not perfect. Christ is doing a great work in us for sure but we are not yet there. Others in the world can have the impression that we think we are perfect, or at least better then them. This gives opportunity to the Devil to come in an point out our imperfection. Add to that those who behave totally contradictory to what the Word says and we have daunting task ahead of us to effectively spread the Good News of Jesus.
xltz
So, go ahead and step out onto that stage and let your light shine!
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Matthew 5:16 KJV

Blessings and Curses – Fathers Day Part 2

Blessings and Curses

These two terms are nearly the most misused and misunderstood expressions heard today. We hear performers and actors say how blessed they are to receive an award as if the accolades of their contemporaries were a gift from God. We read the headlines of tabloid magazines how the curse of this family has taken another life or how a celebrity cursed out the paparazzi in a drunken rage.

Although these usages could be considered appropriate they don’t quite follow what the Word of God regards them to mean.  Merriam-Webster defines Blessing as, in part, approval that allows you to do something; Help and approval from God; something that helps you or brings you happiness. Dictionary.com defines Blessed, in part, as consecrated; sacred; holy; sanctified; worthy of adoration; reverence; or worship; divinely or supremely favored.

Likewise, Curse is defined in part, by Merriam-Webster, as an offensive word that people say when they are angry: magical words that are said to cause trouble or bad luck for someone or the condition that results when such words are said: a cause of trouble or bad luck. Dictionary.com defines, in part, Curse as the expression of a wish that misfortune, evil, doom, etc., befall a person, group, etc.a formula or charm intended to cause such misfortune to another. the act of reciting such a formula. a profane oath; curse word.

So, without doing any further references we can see where our current use of these words comes from. Lets look at what the Bible says about these terms and their usage.

 Deuteronomy 28 is often referred to as the Blessings and Curses chapter of the Book of the Law. Verses 1- 14 spell out the blessings for obedience to God and verses 15-68 lists the curses that will come from disobedience.

In Genesis 27 we see Issac Bless Jacob (thinking he is Esau) by simply speaking over him and into his life –

May God give you of Heaven’s dew and Earth’s bounty of grain and wine. May peoples serve you and nations honor you. You will master your brothers, and your mother’s sons will honor you. Those who curse you will be cursed, those who bless you will be blessed.

We see Jesus blessing a group of children and using the opportunity to teach a valuable lesson at the same time.

Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them. Mark 10:15-16 NKJV

It is these examples of how blessings were given that brings us to my point. The blessings were given out orally. The blesser spoke the words over the blessed and they were received.

Likewise, curses are simply spoken over and into the life of the recipient. Today we don’t think much of curses. We place the idea of curses off to the mythical world of witchcraft and magic. But if we look at how very easy it is to “Bless” someone by speaking words of life and prosperity into and over them why would it be so hard to consider the opposite?

If we can speak blessings (life); “You can do anything you set your mind to do.” “You are a talented girl and should not be afraid to try anything.” “You are a really strong boy and will succeed at whatever sport you play.” How hard is it to realize that we can curse (speak death); “You’re just a stupid idiot! You’ll never amount to anything!” “You’re not as pretty as the other girls why even try to be?” “You’re just a skinny little boy what makes you think you can play with the big boys?”

Care for you

Care for you

I subtitled this post Fathers Day Part 2 because I think it’s important to shed light on just how powerful our words can be. Fathers and Mothers and anyone in authority over a young person can “speak” over and into their lives, words that will shape them for years to come.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue Proverbs 18:21 NKJV

Blessings and Curses. Balloons to lift one up or darts to shoot one down. Are there any words, spoken over you years ago, that still resound in your ear?

Jesus wants you to know that you can overcome those darts by reading what he has to say over and about you. You are His child and He loves you dearly. He has a future and hope for you. Your name is written on the palm of His hand and he holds your tears in a jar. The hairs on your head are numbered by Him.

Jesus is the hot air balloon you need to be lifted up and blessed beyond the darts and dashed dreams of the past into a glorious new life. Trust in Him because He cares for you.

the first commandment with a promise

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” Ephesians 6: 1-3 NKJV

That it may go well with you and you may live long.

The Living Bible translates this scripture like this –

This is the first of God’s Ten Commandments that ends with a promise.  And this is the promise: that if you honor your father and mother, yours will be a long life, full of blessing.

Whatever translation you choose to read the idea still resounds. God will reward you for honoring your parents.

See also Exodus 20:12  and Deuteronomy 5:16 NKJV

On this Mothers’ Day as we salute our Moms  and celebrate their devotion in raising us through the years we need to remember that not all Moms are feeling loved and appreciated today. Sadly many Moms (and Dads too) are abandoned or ashamed by their children.  Is it any wonder that prisons and morgue are filling up as our society shows less respect for parents and more concern for what matters only to me.

That it may go well with you and you may live long

Fortunately, God is the God of U-Turns. If  we think that we have been less than “honorable” towards our parents we can repent and turn towards God as we change our ways. Even if our parents have passed away we can still ask God to forgive us of being rebellious and disobedient children. Even if they were less than perfect parents, we can be honorable towards them. God does not tell us to honor our father and mother if they are good and perfect parents. The responsibility is on us to honor our parents. How good a job they do with the children they were given is between them and God. So, if they were poor parents or even abusive derelict parents, we should forgive them.

That it may go well with you and you may live long

It’s a promise from God that He clearly put in writing. No reading between the lines or ambiguity here. Simply put do this and this is what will happen. So, the exact opposite is rationally true. Dont honor your parents and it will not be good for you and you will not live long.

Maybe this should have been a happy funny uplifting post but I don’t tend to plan what I write too far in advance. I write what is on my heart. I speak as a layman – not a clergy. I have to say that this is something that I had to learn and like almost all of my life lessens – I learned the hard way. After years of disrespecting and disobeying my parents and years of speaking critically about their shortcomings I found myself in a bad place. Only by the love of God was I able to learn Gods Word and live a new life.

My parents both died long before I learned what kind of child I should have been but I know that God has forgiven me and I honor them today in how I speak of them to others and by looking back at them with compassion rather then judgement.

Painted Gerber

Finally, I pray that everyone had a wonderful Mothers Day today but if you did not, I want you to know that there is a God in Heaven Who sent His Son, Jesus, to show the greatest measurable amount of love towards YOU! He died so that you don’t have to. He LOVES you and will wash away that hurt you feel because of  a child or a parent who hurt you so long ago.

He will hear you when you call – Honestly, He Will.