Tag Archives: Choose Life

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

“Well, are you ready?”

   The silence of the bedroom was suddenly broken as he started coughing violently. Throwing back the covers he jumped to his feet and headed out of the room down the hall and into the living room. Both he and his wife had been sick for days now but she was on the mend and he didn’t want to disturb her sleep. By the time he reached the living room the spasms of coughs subsided but his head hurt and his eyes were burning. A growing pressure in the center of his chest made taking a deep breath impossible. It concerned him that this constriction might not be related to the bronchitis that he was diagnosed with yesterday.

   With head in hands he sat on the edge of the couch and prayed for relief as his mind raced. The pain in his chest was growing and expanding in all directions increasing his concern and causing him to fear the next spasm of coughs. “Dear God, what is going on?”He prayed,” Could this be it? I am nearly 60 and Dad didn’t even live to this age. My heart was supposed to be in good shape. Regular visits to the cardiologist and exercise were meant to thwart off any heart problems – right? Maybe this is it in spite of all my efforts!”
Although the living room lights were off there were a few beams of brightness that irritated his aching eyes. The glow of charging devices and the light from his neighbors back yard acted like tiny needles.  Unplugging the devices and drawing the blinds removed the brightness of those little offenders. But, as a car drove past the house it activated the motion-detector porch light which shone threw the front door like a floodlight into the living room. Blindly stumbling over to the door he flipped off the switch for the porch light and glanced out the window. His eyes, offended by the incident, squinted out to see a shadowy figure at the end of the walk in the driveway. Looking again, after his eyes adjusted, there clearly wasn’t anything there. Shrugging it off he headed back to the couch still praying that his chest pain would subside.
But now, inside the darkened living room, seemed to be that same tall slender figure he saw in the driveway, right there in front of him. He stood breathless and in pain staring at the form thinking to himself that he either had died or was about to die. Before he could speak he heard an inaudible voice ask him “Well, are you ready?” and then it was gone.

   Nothing about his circumstances changed after that brief encounter. He could barely take a full breath. His chest was still suffering from a growing sharp pain/pressure and his eyes were burning so badly that they helped him to dismiss what he thought he saw. His burning eyes had to be due to a high fever and that too would explain the delusion.
He returned to the couch only this time he prayed with a new found purpose. Was he ready? Well, if he wasn’t he would be. He fell asleep there, on the couch, praying to Jesus, without realizing that the pain went away and the coughing stopped.

    The next thing he knew she was waking him up and asking him if he was alright? “Yes”, he said. “Yes, I am okay. Now.”

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

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.

Counting the Cost – Part 1 of the Hard Words Hard Work Series

And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. Luke 9:62 KJV

I was a new Christian when I first saw this Scripture verse. It was painted over the doorway to a cabinet makers shop and I thought -” That can’t be right?!?!” I looked it up and found it to be true even if it seemed harsh. As I grew in the Word I found other “hard words” from our Savior – But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; Without Me you can do nothing; He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him;* as well as others.

In this series I will shine a light on some of these and we can discuss how they may or may not apply to us today. Another translation of this verse says – But Jesus told him, “Anyone who lets himself be distracted from the work I plan for him is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”Luke 9:62 Living Bible. This may not be any less harsh but perhaps easier to understand. Christ requires our devotion. He has earned it. Total commitment is expected. In the Old Testament we see God telling Abraham – walk before Me, and be thou perfect Gen 17:1 KJV Be perfect! Wow! Add this to the list of some 613 laws that we are commanded to obey and we have a tough job ahead of us. So, we should consider the cost –

“But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first getting estimates and then checking to see if he has enough money to pay the bills? Luke 14:28 LB

Consider the cost. What is it going to take to follow Jesus? Mark records an encounter a rich your ruler had with Jesus where the young man asks Jesus “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” To which Jesus repliesYou know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother. The young man answers Jesus by saying he has done all that since he was a child. Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” The rich young ruler went away sorrowful because he had great possessions.

For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? Mark 8:36 NASB

So, do we take away from this that Jesus wants us to give up all of our worldly possessions and follow Him? Well, maybe. If, as was the case here, those possessions mean more to you then following Jesus into eternity. I think that this young man (who some speculate may have been Nicodemus of John 3) thought that there was an easy way to secure eternity. Jesus saw that this man was proud, successful and perhaps greedy. Proud, because he said he kept all of the law when it really isn’t possible to do so. Successful, well, he was rich so that’s a given. Greedy, because he could not consider the cost of giving his possessions away even if it meant gaining eternity. In reality, he had nothing to loose and everything to gain.

 – TO BE CONTINUED –

 *Matthew 5:44, John 15:5, John 6:56 KJV

Who do you say I am?

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”“But you,” He asked them, who do you say that I am?” Matthew 16:13-15 HCSB

WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM ?

I am going to bet that everyone has a family member or knows someone, friend, colleague or neighbor who knows Jesus. Growing up I had friends at school whose parents were preachers and classmates who were “born again” and met many a stranger who wanted to know – “do you know Jesus?” Because of these associations I heard what they had to say about who Jesus was to them. I never really gave Him much thought but did have an opinion about Him that I supposed I collected from what others said mixed with liberal amount of ignorance and arrogance. But when push came to shove I had to admit I knew nothing of who Jesus is.

“Christ either deceived mankind by conscious fraud, or He was Himself deluded and self-deceived, or He was Divine.”

Liar, Lunatic or Lord

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”- C.S.Lewis, Mere Christianity

Eternity

So, either Christ is Who He says He is or He is a Liar or a Lunatic. The evidence, that is clearly recorded in the Bible, should remove all doubt. The only thing left to do is reach a verdict for yourself. Disregard what anyone else says about Him and look only at the Word of God. Read Johns Gospel and then ask yourself – “Who do I say that He is?” But, I would strongly urge you to not reach your decision too quickly or lightly. Eternity awaits your decision both with open arms.