Archive

Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

Getting A Little Personal

September 12, 2018 Leave a comment

Bible QuestionThere are so many ways to read the Bible. You can read it like great literature, read it for academic purposes, read it to understand a culture, read it to gain a sense of morality, or, of course, read it for a myriad of spiritual reasons—to know GOD, to know His Son, to know the working of His Spirit.

I’ve discovered the best way to read the Bible is to make it personal, to view the message of God’s Word as personal, and to understand the words as written for me—personally. How’s that for personal?

The Bible itself encourages this method of Bible study. David, speaking in Psalm 16:11, says, “You make known to me the paths of life.” David has a personal relationship with God. While it’s true the Bible has a message for all people, God intends for that message to be understood and received by each individual.

Although I read through the Bible every year, I always ask for new insight into how each day’s reading is speaking to me personally, what personal message God is intending for me in the verses, and in what way a particular Scripture can deepen my personal relationship with Him.

How personal can it get? Psalm 139 says it all.

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it.

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you.

13 For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a]
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.

 

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
    I awake, and I am still with you.

For a great selection of various Bible Reading Plans, click here.

Advertisements

Waiting for the Blue Bar

April 23, 2018 Leave a comment

Download imageIf you would have asked me the moment I made my commitment to Christ if I loved the Lord, I would have said yes.

Now though, as I look back on it, it’s hard to measure that kind of love.

That’s because I know more about Him now, so I feel I love Him more. My relationship with Him now, as compared to when I first came into a relationship with Him, makes that initial claim of loving him seem as nothing.

I was thinking about this one day as I sat in front of my computer watching a new program get downloaded. A pop-up box dominated the screen with a line of text assuring me the process of downloading was taking place.  Even though I wasn’t able to see it, I was supposed to believe it was going on in the background.

To help me visualize the progress of the download, a long bar appeared in the pop-up box. The bar was clear with no color showing. Because I’d done this before, I knew  the moment the software elements were added to my hard drive, the bar would begin to fill up with blue. The colorization would begin on the left side and gradually make its way over to the right, culminating in a solid blue bar. Once that happened, the download was complete, and I was encouraged to begin using my new program.

How this blue download bar related to my thoughts about my love for Christ is easy to describe but hard to explain.

Picture the clear bar as the moment I accepted Him as my Savior. Then, picture the bar as completely filled in at some future moment in eternity when I shall know Him fully and love Him perfectly.

In this comparison, what kind of progress can I see on the blue bar right now? Practically none. Perhaps a little sliver of blue on the far left-hand side. Nothing more.

However, like the message on the pop-up box, God’s Word is continually reassuring me my life is  being changed and the elements of my sanctification are being added. Though I may not see any progress, I must believe the message.

One day, Jesus promises His believers they’ll hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:23).

One day, the download will be complete, and we’ll be able to use our new program.

In the meantime, be patient and keep reading His Word, His Message of Hope.

Oh, gross!

March 3, 2018 Leave a comment

golden tapUntil recently, I never realized how gross the subject of purification could be. Then, I had to do some research about my refrigerator’s water filter, and I read about the stuff a water purifier is suppose to remove–things like cysts, radioactive particles, arsenic, bacteria, viruses, and chemicals.

I found myself getting a little sick just reading about the stuff.

The same week I was researching pure water, I read this from James 4:8, “Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you men of double mind.”

God expects those who desire His presence in their lives to have their hearts pure, to be free from contaminants. However, pure hearts, like pure water, must go through a purification process before being pronounced clean. Like water from a dirty lake, our hearts don’t become pure on their own. Hearts must be cleansed by an outside source.

David, in Psalm 51:10, cried out to God for purification, “Create in me a clean heart, O God!”  Only when we cry out to God for purification does the process of heart cleansing truly begin. Luke, writing in Acts 15:9, says God does His act of purification “by faith.”

Water purification occurs when I connect a water filter to a water source. Heart purification occurs when, by faith, I connect my desire for purity with the source of purity, God Himself.

Matthew 5:8: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

What Are Your Credentials?

January 8, 2018 2 comments

credibility Credibility. Politicians fake it. Pundits announce it. Actors crave it. Businesses sell it. However, when it comes right down to it, no one does credibility like God does credibility.

I was just about to finish up an interview with a book website about my Titus Ray Thriller series, when I was asked, “What are your credentials to write this series?” The question stumped me for a minute. Were they asking about my experience as a writer? Were they questioning my knowledge of the subject? Were they just wondering if I had enough creativity to write a series of books?

In the end, I answered the question by referring  to the premise of the series and how my main character was growing in his faith while working as a covert operative. I decided not to make the case for my own credentials because, quite frankly, I wasn’t sure I could do that.

God, on the other hand, can always do that. He has the credibility. When God comes to the prophet Jeremiah to give him His message to the people of Israel in Jeremiah 33:2, He says, “Thus says the Lord who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to establish it—the Lord is his name.” On what basis does God come to the prophet? He comes as THE ONE who made the earth.

Those are pretty good credentials. In fact, they’re GLORIOUS. The God who created the world around us, the universe and all that’s in it, from the smallest particle to the biggest galaxy, is someone who has credentials. And this is what our God tells Jeremiah to do in Jeremiah 33:4: “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”

With credentials like that, why wouldn’t we?

Are You Tired of Waiting?

May 31, 2017 3 comments

Wait Room 4Not long ago, as I was dealing with some of my dad’s health issues, I spent several hours in various doctors’ offices, imaging centers, and hospitals. Most of my time in those places was spent in a waiting room.

During one  long day, I found myself thinking about all the times I’ve been in God’s Waiting Room.

God’s Waiting Room is a place familiar to all praying believers. Those who petition the Father for answers, for relief, for deliverance, for guidance, and for comfort often find such requests are not answered immediately. That’s why God designed His Waiting Room.

If the waiting goes on for months, even years, God’s Waiting Room can become a place of discontentment, anger, frustration, and unbelief.

I know. It’s happened to me. Don’t let it happen to you.

I’ve learned that waiting on God doesn’t have to be unbearable as long as I follow the same basic principles I follow when waiting on a loved one in a hospital waiting room.

1. Don’t wait alone. Waiting is always easier if the wait is shared.

2. Find something to do while waiting. Occupying body, mind, and spirit makes the wait easier.

3. Encourage others as you wait. Empathy for others who may be going through similar circumstances lightens your burden and blesses your  soul.

4. Recognize God has a sovereign purpose in the length of your wait. Waiting is no different from anything in your life—God is working all things for His Glory and your benefit.

Those willing to wait on God are given a special promise. It’s found in Isaiah 64:4: “No eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him.”

While you’re in God’s Waiting Room, He’s out there working for you.

Keep on waiting.

Don’t Put Up With It!

March 4, 2017 Leave a comment

img_1147For years, I’ve used a decorative paper towel holder in my kitchen. It looked nice; matched my kitchen theme—roosters—and held my roll of paper towels within arm’s reach.

There was one problem with the holder.  It was made for an earlier time, when a roll of paper towels wasn’t as thick as it is today. That meant every time a new roll was placed on the horizontal pole, I had to use one hand to grab a towel and the other to pull it away from the roll and tear it off.

This was frustrating, because when I’m cooking,  I don’t always have a free hand to grab a towel. Of course, the problem resolved itself once several towels were removed. Then, the roll would move freely on the holder. After that,  I wouldn’t give it another thought.

The other day, I accidentally hit the bottom of the ceramic holder, and a piece of it fell off. I didn’t immediately think about replacing it, because it wasn’t that noticeable, and it didn’t  affect the way it worked. Later that day,  I was in a Bed, Bath, and Beyond store shopping for another product, and I happened to pass by a shelf of paper towel holders. Several of them had labels describing them as being perfect for today’s extra large rolls.

That was the moment I decided not to put up with the frustration I felt every time I inserted a new roll of paper towels on the ceramic holder, and I used my 20% off coupon and purchased a sleek new modern-looking one.

When I brought it home, I placed a fresh roll of paper towels on it, and presto! problem solved. I’ve had it a week now, and I’ve probably changed the roll three times—I’m very messy in the kitchen—and, every time I install a fresh roll, I ask myself why I didn’t buy a new paper towel holder sooner.

Why did I put up with something that was clearly a problem and had an easy solution?

The answer’s pretty simple. It seemed like a small problem, and I had too many other things to think about, and, after removing a few sheets, I didn’t notice it again until I needed a new roll.

Too often, we treat spiritual problems in the same way. A situation arises; tempers flare, angry words are spoken, lustful thoughts are entertained, gossip is spread, godless choices are made, and then we move on.

However, the sin that caused the problem in the first place remains; it’s never examined, never prayed over or confessed, and the situation  happens again. And again.

God’s Word gives us much counsel about dealing with our sin, and one example is found in Psalm 51 where David realizes the only solution to the sorrow he’s experiencing is to confess his sin to God.

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation.” (Psalm 51:10-12).

img_1150

Don’t put up with it!

 

Such Useless Things

September 14, 2016 Leave a comment

USELESSThe other day I was standing beside an elevator, having just pushed the Arrow Down button to call the elevator up to the second floor, when an elderly gentleman walked over and pushed the same button again. Then, he turned to me and said, “I know that was useless. The elevator won’t get here any sooner just because two people push it.”

At the grocery store, a little later that day, I tried to sign my name on a credit card scanner. After several attempts to make a semi-legible mark, the clerk waved her hand at me and said, “Oh, honey, forget it. Your signature won’t mean anything on there. That thing is useless.”

My day of useless things ended when I got home and tried to balance my checkbook. No, it wasn’t balancing the checkbook that proved useless. What was useless was pushing the “C” repeatedly on the calculator, clearing out the old amount before adding a new one. Like the gentleman at the elevator, I suddenly realized pressing the “C” a second time was an exercise in futility. The screen always went blank the first time I pushed it.

There’s a fourth useless thing we may be guilty of as well. It’s forgetting to worship our Creator. God reminds us of this in Isaiah 45:7 when He says, “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things.”

Failure to acknowledge the God of the Universe, He who created light and darkness, who directs every aspect of our lives, is useless. In the same chapter in Isaiah, God says,” By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return:‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.” (Isaiah 45:23).

%d bloggers like this: