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What You Are NOT

January 8, 2016 2 comments

 During a recent interview about Titus Ray, the main character in my Christian fiction series, I was asked to describe some of his personality traits. By doing so, I came up with some attributes, which point out what Titus is not: He is not an extrovert. He is not a scholar. He is not a family man.

By pinpointing what a person is NOT, a picture emerges about what a person is. The apostle John does this in the Gospel of John. He says, “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.” John 1:6-8.

Perhaps the most important attribute about John the Baptist was what he was NOT. He wasn’t the Messiah; He wasn’t the Light; He wasn’t our Savior. He had to reiterate this several times during his ministry. Every time he did so, he was able to tell people who he really was. He was a witness sent to point people to the real Savior, Jesus Christ.

There are other examples in Scripture of what people were NOT: Joseph was not an adulterous slave boy. David was not an intimidated shepherd. Daniel was not a cowered exile. Paul was not a timid follower of Christ.

How would you answer this question, “What are you NOT?”

How you answer that question will enable you to see what you are. The NOT realization of what he was helped John to know his role. He wasn’t the Light, but he was to tell about the Light. Perhaps you’re NOT a Sunday School teacher, but you can be a Sunday School member. Perhaps you’re NOT a teacher of the Bible, but you can read the Bible. Perhaps you’re NOT a prayer warrior, but you can pray.

John was sent by God. “There was a man sent from God.” John 1:6.

John was sent by God to be who he was;  not someone he was NOT. Discover who you are NOT, and you’ll discover who you are.

 

 

God Has A Bell; He Wants To Hear You Ring It

April 14, 2015 1 comment

Bell2Last week, when my grandson was too sick to go to school, he spent the day at our house. Right after I’d tucked him in bed, he asked, “Do I get to have the bell?”

The “bell” is a hand-sized figurine of an angel gazing at a bird in her hands–not exactly the sort of thing an eleven-year old boy usually wants. However, there’s a small clapper in the hollow of the figurine, and when he grasps the head of the angel and shakes it, the high-pitched sound  is loud enough to be heard throughout the house.

I’ve had the bell for a number of years—it was given to me by a Bible study group—and a few years ago, I decided to put it to good use. Now, whenever anyone in my household gets sick, I put the bell within easy reach of their bedside. That way, if they need something, I can be summoned to their side.

My mother, who was in a wheelchair during the last years of her life, had to use the bell a lot more than most family members. Whenever she did, she would apologize for having to ring the bell. “It’s nice to have an angel when I need help,” she’d say, “but I hate to be a bother.”

My grandson, though, voiced no such sentiment when he rang the bell.

He rang it just to see if I could hear him ringing it. He rang it to ask for a drink, a cracker, a bowl of ice cream. He rang it to call attention to something on the television screen. He rang it to ask for a bowl of ice cream. He rang it because he said he was bored. He rang it to tell me he was happy to be at my house and not in school.

God also has a bell. He calls it prayer. Whenever I ring His  angel bell, He’s at my side immediately. Sometimes, I think I’m using it too often, and  I need to apologize. “I’m so sorry I have to ask for this again. I’m so sorry I can’t  remember what you told me. I’m so sorry I have to ask forgiveness for this sin.”

However, at other times,  I act just like my grandson. I ring it often and long, and I’m continually asking for something that I don’t even need. But, like a grandma who’s just happy her grandson wants to have her at his side, God doesn’t mind when He hears the angel bell ringing. He’s delighted His children want to spend time with Him, even if it’s just to ask Him for something. He’s happy His children believe He’s the answer to everything that matters.

He’s always overjoyed to hear that bell ringing! Ring away!

Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

 

 

When God Doesn’t Answer, Don’t Act Dumb!

March 1, 2015 2 comments

Dumb 1God promises to hear the prayers of His children. “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” 1 John 5:14. And Jesus told His followers in John 16:23, “Whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.”

Quite often, though, when I claim this promise from Him, I overlook one important aspect of it—He never promised to answer my prayers immediately. And, my timetable isn’t even mentioned in this verse.

The truth is, God often delays his answer whenever His children ask Him for something. There have been very few times when God has answered my petition within hours of presenting Him with some perceived need in my life. I’ve heard stories about the doorbell ringing or a letter arriving as soon as the “Amen” was spoken, but it doesn’t happen very often. At least, not to me.

So, when God doesn’t answer immediately, how do I respond? It would be easy to list a few Do’s. For example, I should  1.Examine my heart for unconfessed sin. (1 Peter 3:12). 2. Question the motives behind my request. (James 4:3). 3. Realize God’s ways are not my ways (1 Corinthians 13:12).

But, the best example of what NOT to do, is found in Exodus 32:1. “When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him,“Up, make us gods who shall go before us.”

The theology behind this passage is clear: When God delays answering your prayers, DON’T act dumb.

Don’t act dumb by 1. Providing your own answer. Like the golden calf, it will be a poor substitute for the real thing.

Don’t act dumb by 2. Acting out of fear. The Israelites rationalized their response by saying, “As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” Exodus 32:1. Fears for their future clouded their faith in God’s ability to provide for them and caused them to act irrationally.

Don’t act dumb by 3. Asking God to bless sinful behavior. After acting against God’s will for them, the Israelites sought God’s blessing for their actions. “And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings.” Exodus 32:6. Don’t expect God to bless something that came about as the result of sinful behavior.

The next time God delays in answering your petitions, don’t dumb down.

 

 

 

The Message of God in an Asteroid and a Meteor

February 20, 2013 Leave a comment

asteroidTwo rare events happened in our atmosphere on Friday, February 15th.  I definitely see a message from God in both of them.

Before Friday’s close fly by of asteroid DA14, the media bombarded the public with information about asteroids. Each time I heard a reporter talking about the millions of space rocks out there, I marveled at how our planet has escaped being hit or destroyed by one of these celestial bodies. How have we been spared? The answer is in Isaiah 45:7:  “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things.”

Clearly, our loving God, who created the asteroids in the first place, continuously protects Earth from being seriously damaged by them. Until He decides such a planet-shaking event will occur, every asteroid, every comet, every meteoroid, stays in its God-appointed place away from our earth’s atmosphere. The fact that He allowed such a close encounter on Friday, and that the occurrence was broadcast worldwide, only served to emphasize His hand in the other rare event which happened on the very same day.

Early Friday morning, before asteroid DA14 whizzed by our planet, a meteor, 50 feet wide, slammed into Chelyabinsk, Russia. Scientists say a meteor of this size impacts our earth every decade or so, but most of them simply fall into the ocean. The fact that this one injured almost one thousand people and heavily damaged a city made it an extremely uncommon occurrence.

Officials from NASA immediately declared the asteroid and the meteor were not connected. These were two rare events that just happened to occur on the same day. However, I disagree. I believe the two incidents are connected. I believe they’re connected by the message God delivered on Friday.

While NASA and other scientists assured everyone they knew the asteroid’s path and were tracking its every move, God allowed an unforeseen meteor to enter earth’s atmosphere. This unexpected cosmic rock was God’s way of reminding mankind that scientists can never accurately predict what God will send upon planet Earth or when He will send it.

Mathematicians tell us—astronomically speaking—the odds of these two events happening on the same day were 1 in 100 million. The improbability of this is a clarion call to worship an Almighty God who governs the heavens and the earth.

“Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.” 1 Chronicles 29:11  

What Is Beauty?

December 3, 2012 3 comments

Eyes Wide OpenAfter receiving several inquiries about why I haven’t blogged in several months, I decided it was time for me to get back online. For the past six months, I’ve been working on another writing project—more about that in a later post. Taking a break from something we routinely do is a good way to get a new perspective. A friend of mine took a vacation from Facebook. She decided it was a waste of time, and it was keeping her from spending time with her family. Now, she occasionally checks it out, but being off for several weeks helped her to reorder her priorities. She says she sees Facebook differently now.

 Seeing things differently is what Steve DeWitt’s book, Eyes Wide Open, is all about. After reading it this summer, I have a different perspective on beauty. This is a book about the beauty of God, but also about why God created beauty in the first place.

 DeWitt says the beauty we experience on this earth—in whatever form it takes—is a whisper, a shadow, of the real Beauty. However, so often, we end up worshipping the shadows instead of the real Beauty.

 Here’s a quote from DeWitt’s book:  “Beauty is both a gift and a map. It is a gift to be enjoyed and a map to be followed back to the source of the beauty with praise and thanksgiving.”

 The following video was both a gift and a map to me.

Looks Like A Nice Place To Live

November 15, 2011 Leave a comment

These are time lapsed photographs taken from the International Space Station from August to October 2011.  You can find a full list of the locations being shown here.

Earth | Time Lapse View from Space, Fly Over | NASA, ISS from Michael König on Vimeo.

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Have A Blessed Day

September 11, 2011 Leave a comment

Several years ago I stopped saying, “have a nice day” to those people I encountered in everyday situations.  Instead, I began to use “have a blessed day” as I paid the check, picked up the cleaning or engaged in a conversation with a store clerk. I thought perhaps this phrase would be a kind of witness, a reminder to me and to them that the blessings of all our days come from God.  In effect, I hoped these words would turn hearts toward God if only for a brief moment or two.

A simple word like “bless” bears a powerful message because it contains the concept of God’s favor.  That God is the author of blessings first appears in Genesis 12:2 when God says to Abram, “And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great.

God blesses us, but did you know you are also to bless others–that  is, verbally pronounce a blessing from God to others? The Lord told Aaron to bless the people and this blessing, found in Numbers 6:22-27, is often used today by pastors as the Sunday worship service is ending.  1 Peter 3:8-9 speaks of how believers are to treat each other and ends by saying, “giving a blessing.  

There are numerous passages in the New Testament which can be prayed or spoken as blessings upon others (Acts 20:32; Romans 15:13; Hebrews 13:21; 2 John 1:3),  but my favorite is 1 Thessalonians 5: 23: “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Have a blessed day!

How Much Time Does It Take?

September 5, 2011 Leave a comment

On Saturday it took two hours to defrost the freezer chest in my garage.  I had put off this task for the last two years.  And, in reality, I wasn’t “working” on it for those two hours.  I simply took all the food out, put the perishables in portable ice chests, unplugged the freezer and let our 100-degree temperatures in our garage do the rest.  So I might have actually “worked” for 15 minutes.

After feeling a sense of accomplishment,  I wondered why I had procrastinated for so long when it took so little time and effort on my part.  I believe the answer is that very truth.  Some things take so little effort on our part that we know we can do them at any time, so we just don’t do them at all or we put off doing them until the need of doing them reaches a crisis point.

I’ll confess something.  (For those of you who really do know me, you’ll say, “of course she did.”) I’ve timed some of my household tasks I don’t think I have time to do.  It takes me 15 minutes to fold and put away a load of clothes, 20 minutes to dust my furniture and 10 minutes to mop my kitchen floor.  I’ve timed these activities because it helps me realize how little time it actually takes to enjoy the results of doing them.

This train of thought was one of the motivators behind my starting a Quiet Time 35 years.  Oh, I surely believe the Holy Spirit’s guiding and the Lord Jesus’ wooing me was the greater motivator, but the sentence I read in a little booklet on Quiet Time was what got my attention.  It read something like this, “Would you be willing to make an appointment to spend 15 minutes every day with Jesus?”  My very definite “Yes” and the committment I made to try it for seven days led to such joy that I’ve seldom missed a morning with Him since then.  In fact, throughout  these years, whether it necessitated my getting up before sunrise or letting my day’s activities wait, I have found the time to spend an hour with Him and His Word every morning.

I’ve titled this post, “How Much Time Does It Take?”. I phrased it that way to get your attention, so you would take the “time” to read it because it’s a question common to all of us.  But what I really wanted to ask was, “Would you be willing to make an appointment to spend 15 minutes every day with Jesus?”

Musings on the Moments

January 29, 2010 Leave a comment

That’s what these are, just musings, just some thoughts, along my life’s journey.

Snowy Day
We’ve been stuck in the house for two days, unable to get out because of an ice storm yesterday, and today the moisture has turned to snow.  The television stations reported power outages, massive accidents, water main breaks and hazardous driving conditions.  But the snow just kept coming down–large, lazy, silent snowflakes.  “How could something so beautiful,” I thought, “make everything so very bad?”  Was that what Eve thought when the serpent offered her the fruit?

Potato Soup
Four days ago when I called my mother, who lives in Indiana, she was excited about a new potato soup recipe.  She highly recommended it, said it was great comfort food, told me to “google it” on the web, and I promised her I would.  But I forgot about it.  Two days later in an email, she wanted to know if I had tried it.  I found it and printed it off right then, adding it to a stack of recipes I would try one day.  But with a second day of house confinement imposed upon us by the weather, I decided to turn to potato soup for comfort.  I can never remember making potato soup before.  It took only about 30 minutes, and I tweaked the recipe a little, adding more cheese and spices.  James and I both liked it, but we agreed I might not make it again until the next ice storm.  It was comfort food, but I think the comfort was in the making of it, the process of being creative and the anticipation of homemade soup on a cold winter day.  That’s the way it is with joy.  I find joy in Christ in the process of working out who He is calling me to be, in the creative processes He is using in my life and in the anticipation of future worship.  It’s like the Psalmist said, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord.”  Psalm 122:1.  He was excited at just the prospect of worship.

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Words That Say Think, Meditate, Contemplate This

January 26, 2010 Leave a comment

I love reading, probably go through a couple of fiction books a week, digest several chapters from a variety of books in preparation for the weekly Bible study I teach, and browse/surf countless webpages for research and entertainment.  Rising up from off the pages like signposts on a stretch of desert highway, some phrases catch my eye, make me strain to discern exactly how these words stir my soul, make me pause, cause me to catch my breath for just a second.  Here are a few from this week’s reading:

“Joy is not the absence of pain, but the presence of God.” –Teilhard de Chardin (quoted by Ron Dunn in his book When Heaven Is Silent.)  These words seemed to leap straight from the page to my heart because I was hurting for someone, feeling their pain, and their pain had become my pain, and I wanted to be rid of the pain, to regain my joy. No need to do that, though, I was reminded by this thought.  His presence was with me and this is my joy forevermore, even in my pain.

Jonathan Edwards wrote on our being satisfied with God :  “God is the highest good of the reasonable creature, and the enjoyment of Him is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied.”  Is this how I think about God?  Do I find enjoyment in Him?  Joy comes, I think, as a response to something I am experiencing.  Say, for instance, I am reading to my grandkids and they are delighting in the story and we are laughing and joking about the characters.  I’m enjoying this experience.  It gives me joy.  I believe we enjoy God in the same way, though it is far better than this earthly joy.  The more often we share His words together, the more often we talk together, the more enjoyment I find in Him and my soul is indeed satisfied in Him.

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