Tag Archives: Encourgement.

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

Reflections in a Mirror – How do you see you?

Have you ever seen that cute poster that shows a little cat sitting in front of a full length mirror and the reflection is that of a huge lion? The point that this image is conveying is that how you see yourself is of utmost importance. But is that really true? Isn’t that a bit self-centered and egotisical?

With all the focus on “self esteem” and “self worth” and the “look-at -me” social media lifestyle we live with today, I took issue with this mind set. I took issue because God doesn’t teach us to be so self-centered and ego-driven. His Word tells us to be humble and modest and to place others before us. But when we look around and see the drug abuse, eating disorders, violence in schools, hazing and peer pressure and all the pain and suffering caused by negative self-image, poor self-worth and the desire for acceptance, I had to rethink my position.

I looked into the Word of God and found somethings I’d like to share.

   Psalms 23:7 tells us that:

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he

   There are many examples in the Bible of those who had either a very low self esteem or a prideful sense of self and God dealt with both accordingly. In Judges chapter 6 we see the angle of the Lord address Gideon as a “Mighty man of Valor!” yet, Gideon reveals very clearly how he sees himself in his response;

15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel?

My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.

  Gideon says that in all of Israel his family is the smallest, weakest and least powerful family and as if that wasn’t enough – he is the least of them! He just opened his mouth and declared himself to be one of the least powerful, important or capable people in the whole country!! Wow! talk about a poor self-image. But keep in mind that this is not how God sees him. Thankfully, this is not the end of Gideon’s story. He goes on, with the power of God, to fulfill his destiny as a mighty man of valor and saves Israel – see Judges 7

But lets look at how Gideon could say such a thing. Jesus gives us insight into where such things come from –

For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. Like 6:45

   So we see that Gideon said this about himself because that is what he really believed deep down inside himself. Regardless of what anyone else thought or said about him – he felt helpless and small. Thankfully God was able to turn his thinking around.

But lets look at an example of an over-inflated ego – King Saul

 There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bechorath, the son of Aphiah, a Benjamite, a mighty man of power.  And he had a choice and handsome son whose name was Saul. There was not a more handsome person than he among the children of Israel. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people. 1 Sam 9:1-3

   Unlike Gideon, Saul was a handsome man who came from a powerful family and was taller than anyone else around. Add to that the fact that he was chosen to be King of Israel and you have a formula for pride, self-reliance and disobedience. 1 Samuel records the story of how Saul, ordered to kill the Amalekites and not leave alive or take anything. He did not obey. He let the men take the best of the livestock under the pretense of making a sacrifice to God with them. His pride and concern for public opinion among the men of Israel caused him to disobey God and that cost him the crown. He was rejected by God as king over Israel and later, a small, skinny boy would be chosen to take his place – David.

Young David is an example of a healthy self-image.

  With Saul rejected as King the Prophet Samuel is sent by God to the house of Jesse to anoint a new king. Jesse has seven of his sons stand before the prophet but God says no to each of them. Only after the young skinny son that Jesse overlooked was brought before Samuel did God command – Go, anoint this one! David began his journey as King of Israel. David, who even as a child had a good self image and knew how he stood with God. This is clearly seen in the way in which David stood up to Goliath even though the entire army shook with fear of that giant.

David declares that no one should be fearful about this man because he (little skinny boy David) will fight and defeat him! On the surface this might seem like a prideful statement but David was drawing on the confidence inside him because of his relationship with the One True God and past experiences.

But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, 35 I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.” 37 Moreover David said, “The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” 1 Samuel 17:24-37

  David trusted in his own ability coupled with the power of God with him. Much like Daniel in the Lion’s den who trusted, come what may, in God’s Love to see him threw the situation ahead of them. Hopefully, you know how both these stories end. If not please look into it.

So, you see it’s all about a balance. You are not the lowest of the low no matter how you might feel and likewise, you are not he greatest one to walk the earth, even if you think you are!

Getting back to that cat looking at it’s reflection in the mirror.

He should see a great and mighty Lion in the mirror

as long as he also sees The Lord Jesus Christ beside him

otherwise it’s all and illusion!

Jesus said it best –

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. John 15:5

  Be blessed today as you go forth in the Power of the Holy Spirit to stand confidently in your place with Jesus by your side. Al

Further verses on this subject are listed here for our consideration.

Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall. Pr 16:18

Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:4

But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time 1 Peter 5:6

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

Let Your Light Shine

I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day:

the night cometh, when no man can work. John 9:4 KJV

    Jesus declared Himself The Light of the World, John 9:5b KJV, and in doing so He challenges us to consider what He meant. Was He saying that He is the very sun that the earth revolves around? I don’t think so! Was He trying to reveal to us some deeper meaning? Most assuredly!

 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. 

God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. Gen 1:4 KJV 

   God divided the light from the darkness. So, if darkness is the absence of light and if Jesus is the Light of the world, then the night that Jesus spoke of is a time when there will be an absence of Him. I know what your thinking, “Jesus left the earth so very long ago so how can any of this make sense?”

   Simply put – He is still here.

   He is with us in the form of the Holy Spirit. In John 14 Jesus promises the Disciples that even though He is leaving He will send another to comfort, encourage and empower them.  In verse 18 He tells them –  I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. I will come to you, in the Holy Spirit, and so He is still here with us. Jesus is here also because of us who believe. We are His body Eph 5:30  and as such we are the light of the world. We have the light of Jesus Christ within us. As long as we are here we must let that light shine because the night comes when no man woman or child can work.

“If anyone walks during the day, he doesn’t stumble, because he sees the light of this world.

If anyone walks during the night, he does stumble, because the light is not in him.”

John 11:9-10 HCSB

      The Night is coming. Just look around and you will see that this world is spinning out of control faster and faster every day. Wars, rumors of war, sickness, starvation, diseases, floods, fires, political upheavals and corruption. Immorality, hatred, murder, greed, pride and godlessness are all around us. But this doesn’t have to worry us. We have been warned that these things must happen but the end is not yet here. These are the birth pains that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24.

    Armed with this truth and the hope that lives with in us let us remember the words our Savior said –

“You are the light of the world.

A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father   Matthew 5: 14-16 NKJV

Go out empowered by His Holy Spirit with a smile on your face and a song in your heart because you are a Child of the Most High God. Be blessed, Al

Enjoying Your Freedom

Liberty Close up

   Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

Gal 5:1 NKJV Bible Gateway

   Liberty and Freedom. Today is a day of joyous celebration for the whole country. Marching bands and barbecues and fireworks. Nothing shy, subdued or subtle about the 4th of July. We will remember those who have died to create this land of the free as well as those brave men and women who gave their all to protect it. The very bones of our nation are built on the idea that all of us are equal and free to persue happiness. Whatever that might look like and regardless of the cost.

    No! That’s not what it says in the constitution. It does say that we are all created equal and endowed with certain inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But, one mans happy might be another mans sad. This is why we have laws to govern our behavior. I am not free to do whatever I like if it interferes with another persons life, liberty or pursuit of happiness.

    Likewise most “religions” have lots of rules of conduct and traditions that must be adhered to. Jesus came to fulfilled the Law and heralded in a new and better way. Radically different from the old way because the Law of Moses was incapable of cleansing us from our sins. It only covered up our sin until they could be washed away. Washed by the Blood of the Lamb. The Lamb that takes away the sin of the world.

     We, who have trusted in the shed blood of Jesus, should hold our heads up high and walk in the liberty and freedom that Christ has made for us and not be again mixed up in the rules and traditions of religion or in the guilt and shame of our own past sins. Who the Son sets free is free indeed. Free to live a life full of love for Him who first loved us and free to share that love with everyone. Yes, everyone.

    Let freedom ring this 4th of July and let that song you sing be a song of love because God is love and He desires that all come to the saving knowledge of the truth. Let us fulfill the law of Love.

      Be blessed. Have fun. Love them like Jesus. 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

Triumph or Tragedy?

Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

John 1:29 KJV

he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb

Isa 53:7b KJV

   With Holy Week drawing near many of us remember the passion of our Lord. All the pain and sorrow and suffering He endured for our sakes. The humiliation and the mocking and the ridicule.

  I remember the stations of the cross that as a child taught me about that day so long ago. How the processional around the church would stop at each important event to commemorate the disrespectful act performed. The judgement and whipping and the trial. As an adult I remember the first time I heard the name “Via Dolorosa” also known as the Way of Sufferings. The name of that street Jesus walked brings visions of the blood-soaked head and shoulders bent low by the weight of the beam He carried. I can see Him fall each time and hear the anger in the voices of those who pushed Him onward to Calvary. You can almost see the clouds begin to gather as they nailed him to that cross. Such pain. Such darkness. Such despair. Such defeat and utter tragedy.

   As a new born Christian I heard singer songwriter Michael Card perform “This Must Be The Lamb“.

   I was surprised by the turn in the song. It was the first time I heard the crucifixion talked about as a triumph. Well, of course, I understood that Jesus died for my sins. I also understood that He did so willingly. But I suppose I just never fully understood that He was the victor on that hill until He opened my eyes up to His love for me. He defeated hell and death that day over 2000 years ago. Because of His victory I need not worry about death and hell. The devil has lost the battle for my soul.

 Defeated by the Lamb of God satan has no power over all of us who believe. That dark day that saw so many tears will lead to cheers as we all shout out

Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne,

and unto the Lamb for ever and ever

Rev 5:13 KJV

Joyful Noise sil

During this Holy Week take the time to tell someone about the victory of that day. Help them to see Jesus the Victor and tell them how He gave you the Victory so that they can be Victorious also. Jesus can turn any tragedy into triumph if you let Him. That is the Good News Amen?