Thursday, April 30, 2009

God's Providence

Matt. 10:30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.

I have been listening to some sermons and reading some commentaries and was struck by the fact that God's providence is in big things and little things.

I think of big things as Creation, planets moving, hydrological cycles, jet streams and those types of things. Often I don't think too much about God's providence in the little things though. Creation is big, but what about every single little bug? Planets moving, but what about tiny little rock off of each planet that stays with it? The seas are big, but what about every rain drop, and fog, that makes up the whole of the cycle? Jet streams are huge, but what about every little twist and turn they make to carry tiny particles of dust from one side of the earth to the other?

Think about Jonah. Jonah decided he was going to do exactly the opposite thing that God told him to do. Why did he get on that particular boat? Why did the others decide to cast lots? Why did it fall on Jonah? Why did they decide to throw him over board and why right at that time? Why was there a great fish under the boat at the exact time, big enough to swallow him, but not chew him up? How did he survive in the belly of the fish for 3 days? How did the fish know to go to Nineveh? Why would a fish travel hundreds of miles and then throw himself onto the beach to off load Jonah? Too many coincidences for sure.

God is not just sovereign over big things, He even knows the number of hairs on our heads, which really doesn't matter even to us. If He knows and cares enough to keep track of those kinds of details; if He has perfect timing; then shouldn't we just trust Him in every circumstance of our lives and know that He will work it for our good and His purposes?

So when you have a flat tire, know that God has you right there, dressed as you are, rain or shine, early or late to your next appointment; He has control over that and everything else. I hope I didn't just cause myself, or you, to have a flat tire, but if it comes, God has a reason for it.

It's hard to imagine a God who can control all those details, for all these people and for every animal and plant as well, but He is big. OUR GOD IS BIG! Do you believe it?

Heavenly Minded

Last night in One28 one of the senior guys had the opportunity to speak to the group again. This is a great privilege and I hope that it will go a long way to their spiritual maturity in the future. He spoke on Heaven.

I believe there are many people who think they are going to Heaven that certainly are not. They live lives unto themselves, but think they are good, in and of themselves, and that God allows "good people" into Heaven. In the last day they will be sorely disappointed and eternally damned for not following Christ.

I want to address the other side; those who will be in Heaven. I think so often we are settling for lesser joys here on earth that we don't think about how amazing Heaven will be. Think about how good your day would be today if you personally had no sin to deal with, no curse on your work or your child birth, no others around you with sin, and your day was consumed with praising God perfectly. How much better does that look than what your day is going to look like today?

I must confess that I think more about the "to die is gain" part than the "to live is Christ" and I think Christ calls us to be balanced. But I also think that there are many who don't think about how great it is going to be in Heaven and they are just stuck here on earth thinking about how amazing life on earth is. There is nothing here that will come close to what Heaven will be like, except when we are reconciled sinners, confessing and repenting of our sins and in communication with the Savior. That freedom and joy is unlike anything else here on earth and just a taste of glory divine.

Pray that God would give you a taste for Heaven. May we live in light of eternity today, sharing the good news of what joys will be missed for eternity if we only live for today. Hell is real, but so is Heaven. Hell is to be feared, but Heaven is to be treasured. How will the hear without a preacher? You very well may be the only preacher they hear.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Today, and only Today's trouble.

Matt. 6: 34 "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

I have been doing a personal study on the Sermon on the Mount and have been reading through a few commentaries to get different perspectives on it. I started with the Beatitudes, but have jumped ahead to the "Do not Worry" section, which I will probably have to read through more than any other section. I know it's cheating to jump ahead, but I think I need to hammering.

An interesting point that one of the guys made was concerning this last section. He stated that it, obviously, does no good to worry in the first place, and it is a sin, but he added that God gives us grace for the trials of today and only for today. We should not dwell on, or worry about, yesterday's "mistakes", as we can't change them, but we should also not be worrying about what mistakes we will make tomorrow or what trials might face us tomorrow, as we only "have 12 hours in today" and then today will be over. Focus on the decisions you need to make today with the grace and wisdom God has provided for today and then put your head on the pillow and sleep. God's grace and mercies will be new and sufficient tomorrow for whatever He decides to bring tomorrow.

I have a hard time with this, not so much the yesterday issues, but tomorrow's and even today's. It seems the women have a much harder time dwelling on past mistakes and event and have a hard time letting go of them, where possibly the guys are more focused on the tomorrows.

God can change the hearts of kings and He can work in our hearts that we might trust and rest in His care for what is coming.

I like the story of John Wesley, when someone ran up to him and told him his house was burning down. He said, "It can't be". The man replied, "I just came from there and I saw it on fire". Wesley, "It can't be my house, because I don't own a house. I live in a house owned by God and if He wants to burn down His house, then that's ok with me". Good perspective.

ALL we have is on loan from Him and we are to be good stewards while He allows us to use them. Try to return them in better shape than when you receive them, but remember Who they belong to.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The LORD is on my side!

Ps 118: 5 Out of my distress I called on the LORD;
the LORD answered me and set me free.
6 The LORD is on my side; I will not fear.
What can man do to me?
7 The LORD is on my side as my helper;
I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.

8 It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in man.
9 It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in princes.

Just read the line "The Lord is on MY side" and ponder it. How, really, can this be true? How can the Lord of the universe, the Creator and Sustainer of all life, be on my side and be my Helper? There is nothing I have done to deserve this, yet His Word says it and it is true.

When God is on my side there is no other that bring refuge apart from Him. All other places of refuge seem like prisons when compared to Him. He is our peace, our shelter, the place we can run to in every circumstance to find comfort in trials and pain. He is it. There is none like our God.

What a promise for our weary souls. What a joy to know that He delights in His children and cares for each one. We need to remind each other of this. We must meditate on His goodness and care for us; recite His promises; tell of His greatness. He is our God.

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Fight you can't Win

Jer. 21:4 'Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Behold, I will turn back the weapons of war that are in your hands and with which you are fighting against the king of Babylon and against the Chaldeans who are besieging you outside the walls. And I will bring them together into the midst of this city. 5 I myself will fight against you with outstretched hand and strong arm, in anger and in fury and in great wrath. 6 And I will strike down the inhabitants of this city, both man and beast. They shall die of a great pestilence.

I was just reading through this passage and WOW, I never want to be in this spot. The high priest had beaten Jeremiah and put him in stocks over night, because he didn't like what Jeremiah was saying, and this was God's answer to treating one of His prophets that way.

God obviously is serious about His children and He can back up His righteous anger.

Prayer Request

Please pray, as we near the end of another month that we would have the sales we need to keep our crews busy and the banks happy. God is our Provider and He has not failed us yet, but He is the One who brings the increase and He is the One who must keep us going. I want to be content in all He has for us, yet be a good steward of those resources as well.
Generally this last week is a good week for the sales side, and we need it to be, as it has been a bit quiet this month. God knows and He is good.

Consumed with Consuming

Get in the Word and Get the Word in.

I was talking to a couple of people yesterday about their time in the Word, both are in very different situations in life; one a high school student and the other a husband & dad. Both told me that they hadn't been spending that much time in the Word.

I understand the problem of not reading; there are plenty of excuses; none valid. Unless you are an ascetic, you eat real food frequently. Most Americans eat multiple times a day, more than we need, more often than we need and when we get slightest hunger pain we say, "I'm starving". Yes, we need to eat, but we are consumed with consuming food.

But what about the part of our life that is more important than physical food? What about our appetite for the Word? We need to ask the question of themselves; "If I am not eating spiritual food, can I be spiritually alive?" Our physical bodies would not take a starvation diet for more than probably 40 days, yet there are people saying they love God and are Christians who haven't eaten for years. They have been fed a little bit here and there, coming to church every now and again and maybe listening to the Word taught, but in many churches the Word is a couple minute addition to the already short message, so how much food are they really getting? Add to that diet the fact that they are distracted or sleeping through some of the message and they are starving spiritually.

Jer. 15:16 When your words came, I ate them;
they were my joy and my heart's delight,
for I bear your name,
O LORD God Almighty.

Deut. 8:2 And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. 3 And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.

These 2 passages talk about what is in our heart and what we delight in. The admonition to read the Word should not feel like a stacking on of burdens, but a privilege of the believer to hear what God has to say. Notice that God humbled them first, testing the heart and then He fed them. He fed them with manna, a Heavenly food, before He fed them with the true Heavenly food.

We must eat physical food, but at least as importantly, we must feast on the riches of God's Word if we are to grow to be like Him. Oh that we might hunger and thirst for righteousness. Oh to be full vessels, overflowing with the Word, so when we speak we speak the Word that gives life and hope and peace. We must be consumed with consuming the Word.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Dwell in The Shadow

Ps. 90:1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say to the LORD, "My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust."

Spurgeon states that there are those who dwell "far off" with God, never getting too close. They may be believers but the closeness that the Psalmist is talking about here is known only by those who dwell closely to The Most High. Like the Holy of Holies in the Temple there were only a select few who would ever know the nearness of God that was there, so there are few who will dwell this closely to God. This dwelling is so close to Him that His shadow covers them. He is not some far away God, but to them He is over and all around them. "The Omnipotent Lord will shield all those who dwell with him, they shall remain under his care as guests under the protection of their host", Spurgeon.

There is nothing that can penetrate the protection of The Most High. To a fraction of a degree the imagery of a small child running to the arms of their father in a storm brings some of this to life, but as a human father there is nothing I can do to calm the storm and the storm may take me and my child away together. But with the omnipotent Most High, there is no room for fear, no room for worry, because He not only holds and hides us, He controls the storm. What peace.

Occasionally saying that the Lord is my Refuge and living "The Lord is my Refuge" are 2 very different things. If I live it out then EVERY time there is "danger" I will run to Him, not just when I have exhausted my own resources. There is no resource I have that compares to Him; no castle, no draw bridge, no moat, no high wall about the city. He is the best and only defense against attack from outsiders and I must run to His refuge first. He has never failed in His protection, so what have I to fear? Nothing! The only thing I can boast in is that He is MY God and in my weakness He is strong.

"We have trusted in God, let us trust him still. He has never failed us, why then should we suspect him? To trust in man is natural to fallen nature, to trust in God should be as natural to regenerated nature. Where there is every reason and warrant for faith, we ought to place our confidence without hesitancy or wavering. Dear reader, pray for grace to say, "In him will I trust", Spurgeon.

I want to dwell, not just visit occasionally, in the Shadow.

Tempests, Trials & Testings= Treasure

"Jesus Draw Me Ever Nearer"
Music by Keith Getty; Words by Margaret Becker

Jesus draw me ever nearer
As I labor through the storm.
You have called me to this passage,
and I'll follow, though I'm worn.

May this journey bring a blessing,
May I rise on wings of faith;
And at the end of my heart's testing,
With Your likeness let me wake.

Jesus guide me through the tempest;
Keep my spirit staid and sure.
When the midnight meets the morning,
Let me love You even more.

Let the treasures of the trial
Form within me as I go -
And at the end of this long passage,
Let me leave them at Your throne.

What great lyrics. Life is tough, the road is long and treacherous, trials come and go, I get tired and weary, but God is drawing me to Himself through it all. He can keep me "staid and sure" even in the roughest of storms. The morning brings so much more delight after the long night.

Just as Solomon stated so long ago, but in different words, the "passage" can be wearisome. In the trial I am forced to draw close to Him, as my own strength can't begin to get me through, but often at the end of the testing I forget what He has just carried me through.

I can't forget that "real life" is in the middle of the trial, more often than not, and it is how I live in the midst of those trials that will be seen by the cloud of witnesses that surround me today and how they see how great God is. So hard to remember and to do, but so freeing when He accomplishes that work in me so I am able to live it out.

I haven't ever thought of the "treasure of the trial". Oh but I do know that when the trials come and He draws me to Himself there is no other place I would ever want to be. The road is long but it leads to the throne where I will linger for all of eternity. Oh to be like Him when I wake.

Lord, may I trust Your plan, know Your heart, live like You have called me to live and love You more than life itself. Draw me to Yourself, let me know the comfort of living intimately with You. You are everything I need and so much more than I deserve. Keep me staid and sure.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Pride Prevents Prayer

Last night, at our staff meeting, we talked a little about prayer. As we were talking, I could not help but think that in the times I don't pray it is mainly because deep down I think I have it covered and I don't need to bother God with what I have going. Meaning really; I am no longer seeing my dependence on Him. Meaning really really; I am too proud to ask.

This is so wrong, in so many ways. How can I think I don't need the help of the One who created me? The One who sustains the entire universe can't be over valued as an asset. The all wise, all knowing, Wonderful Counselor is willing and available to come to my aid with wisdom and guidance and yet I, who have no real clue about anything, am too proud to ask?

If this were any other form of business or personal issue and this resource was left untapped others would say "you're crazy", but since we are man and He is God it is over looked, yeah verily; "why would you ask God anything" is more often the thought. This is a sad state of the condition of our hearts and the hearts of our friends.

All this to say; pride is what keeps us from seeing our dependence on God; keeping us from being on our knees begging. I also believe that lack of discipline plays a part, but if we truly see our utter dependence the discipline part takes care of itself. If I know I have no other place to go to get out of something, it won't matter what time of the day or night I need to be at the source, I will get there. The problem is that I don't normally/naturally see that God is my only Refuge and Strength.

Jesus understood the importance and power of prayer and if there was ever one man who would not need to pray, it would be Jesus. But He prayed all the time. If the Creator of the universe and the very Son of God, in human flesh, saw prayer as a necessity, then for sure I need to be praying all the more.

Father, take pride away from me, let me see my utter dependence on You, let me see Your hand at work in and around me so I will be encouraged to go to You more each day. Bring victory through doing things Your way so I will desire Your direction. Keep me off of the throne of my heart and may I find joy and rest in having You there, as it is Your place of honor. Let no other idol take Your rightful place. Keep me hungering and thirsting after You, causing me to see my need of You all the more. You want this for me. You love the humble and contrite of heart and it is only by Your grace that I will desire to be this way. Please do this work and be glorified through it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Big Powerful God

Acts 5:38 So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!" So they took his advice,

This is a great story, one worth the reread. I love that one of their own leaders gets up in the middle of the meeting and tells them to be careful what they do with the apostles. But even better is the line, "If it is of God you will not be able to overthrow them". How true that is. If God is in the work there in nothing that can stop it.

We must be on our knees that the work we are participating in is of God, because then we will have success. We must pray that He would give direction to carry out His plan for our lives. How great it is to know that if God is for us, none can be against us.

I was thinking this morning how I often diminish God, in my mind, when I don't give Him credit for His ability to do whatever He wants, whenever He wants to whomever He wants. He is BIG and deserves to be known as big. We need to talk about the greatness and power of our God when we have opportunity to do so, and often we don't make or take the opportunities.

The sunrise this morning was amazing; 1/4 moon, over the snow covered mountains, a single star and a dense layer of fog over the ground and God has each of those elements in His complete control. The seasons are not outside His control, the fact that the moon does the exact same thing every month- you can schedule Easter for the next hundred years if you want- you can set your course by the stars because they don't change and every other thing that we see and don't see are at His command. Amazing!

You don't want to oppose God!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Shocking Sweet Sixteen

I posted the sovereignty of God directed post this morning and little did I know how appropriate that would be today.

I got a call this afternoon from the principle of Grace Academy who told me that they had used the Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) today at the school. It wasn't on Grant, thankfully because that would be a little counter productive, but it was on a student whose 16th BD was TODAY. Happy birthday, sweet 16 and all the rest. He apparently went into a seizure in PE and they had to do CPR and use the AED and it apparently worked great.

There was a parent who is a paramedic who "happened" to be at the school filling out some paperwork and had the wrong ones, he was "not supposed to be there at that time". Humm, I think I have heard this story before. So God had arranged for the man to be there and for the AED to be on campus and for the staff to have been trained on its use around a month ago, all in preparation for today's event.

I understand the young man is at Children's this evening and it sounds like he is in pretty good shape for his interesting 16th BD. This is one he won't soon forget, nor will his parents. Scary, but not so much when God is in control.

I did ask one of the other young men tonight at play practice if he would be ready to have that be him. His reply was so much the normal teenage boy; "it wouldn't be me". They all think they are so invincible and yet if God wants to take them down He can do that at His command.

Just another reminder of Who is really in charge and how dependent we are, whether we want to admit it, and be in subjection, or not. God is good, even with a shocking BD.

Rejoice, Reflect, Relax

Ps. 119:89 Forever, O LORD, your word
is firmly fixed in the heavens.
90 Your faithfulness endures to all generations;
you have established the earth, and it stands fast.
91 By your appointment they stand this day,
for all things are your servants.

The sovereignty of God is displayed in these 3 verses. When all things around us are falling apart; when every where you turn there is change; when people say one thing and do another, remember that God's Word and plan are established, and have BEEN established and will never change.

How can we be worried about the little things in this life when God never changes and He keeps every one of His promises? There is no room, no need and no gain in worry, when God is in control. As Jesus said to the disciples, "Why are you afraid?" It was beyond His thinking to be afraid, because He knew the Father was in control and He knows the Father is good to His children.

I love the last part of 90, "all things are Your servants". ALL things. The grass in the field is His servant. The bug moving past you on the sidewalk is His servant. The wind, the sun, the snow and rain; everything is His servant and listens and obeys His command. If all of creation is servant to the Great King, why would we want to try to challenge His leadership in our lives? And why would we think that He has left us to fend for ourselves when He commands everything in the universe?

Rejoice, reflect and relax in His sovereign care today. Encourage others by the great things you have seen Him do.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Gladly live our Lives

Beneath the Cross of Jesus"
Words and Music by Keith & Kristyn Getty

Beneath the cross of Jesus—
The path before the crown—
We follow in His footsteps
Where promised hope is found.
How great the joy before us
To be His perfect bride;
Beneath the cross of Jesus
We will gladly live our lives.

This is only the last verse of this song, but I have been listening to it more intently than the others.

"The path before the crown"- we must walk where He has chosen for us to walk to receive the crown He has waiting for us.

"We follow in His footsteps, Where promised hope is found"- Who has hope but the believer who is truly following Christ?

"How great the joy before us To be His perfect bride"- I have never been a bride, but have been to plenty of weddings and I have watched many brides preparing for the "big day" and there is something different about them as they plan and prepare; something that even changes they way they look. Joyous anticipation for what lies ahead changes the countenance and the heart. The Church is the perfect Bride He gave His life for, we need to act like it. Not out of duty, but from the joy that is in being HIS perfect bride. WE are called and saved by Him, to be His chosen beloved.

"Beneath the cross of Jesus We will gladly live our lives- where else but beneath His cross, under His Lordship, can we find rest, hope, peace and joy? Without Him there is nothing to live life for; all becomes emptiness and vanity, but with Him, all becomes newness of life. We can gladly live our lives here, because we know there is so much more to come when it's over.

As the sun rises through my window and brings hope of a new day; hope of sunshine to warm the body, today is His day and I am looking forward to my soul being warmed by the Word, visiting with His people and worshiping the Great God we serve as only He deserves.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Blessing brings Praising

Ps. 40:1 I waited patiently for the LORD;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
2 He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the LORD.

Throughout this entire Psalm there are blessings recorded, but there is more. If you look at verse 3 you can see that the Psalmist is not only writing it down, but he is singing it to God and others are hearing and seeing the goodness of the Lord and their lives are changed because of it. The entire Psalm has the same sort of blessing and praising. Read it this way and be encouraged. But don't just be encouraged yourself, tell others of what God is doing in and around you. Before others are going to want the blessings of God in their lives, they will have to see them in ours. Don't let them guess as to whether or not God is working; drive them crazy with telling of His goodness and faithfulness.

If we do not praise our God, He will give the rocks a voice instead, Luke 19:40. Let us not let rocks do our praising for us. Maybe in conjunction, but not instead:)

The Power of the Cross

Oh, to see the dawn
Of the darkest day:
Christ on the road to Calvary.
Tried by sinful men,
Torn and beaten, then
Nailed to a cross of wood.

This, the pow'r of the cross:
Christ became sin for us;
Took the blame, bore the wrath—
We stand forgiven at the cross.

Oh, to see the pain
Written on Your face,
Bearing the awesome weight of sin.
Ev'ry bitter thought,
Ev'ry evil deed
Crowning Your bloodstained brow.

Now the daylight flees;
Now the ground beneath
Quakes as its Maker bows His head.
Curtain torn in two,
Dead are raised to life;
"Finished!" the vict'ry cry.

Oh, to see my name
Written in the wounds,
For through Your suffering I am free.
Death is crushed to death;
Life is mine to live,
Won through Your selfless love.

This, the pow'r of the cross:
Son of God—slain for us.
What a love! What a cost!
We stand forgiven at the cross.

"The Power of the Cross"
Words and Music by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend
Copyright © 2005 Thankyou Music

The DAY can't come soon enough for me when I stand forgiven and perfectly united with the One who bore the shame and disgrace in my stead. Death is crushed to death and now life is mine to live but only because it was won through His selfless love. We will have all of eternity to revel in the Goodness of Our Great God and sing we will of that Goodness. Celebrate as you go today.

May the Lord bless you and keep you and may He make His face to shine upon you, and give you peace.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Please Pray

The Everett home show is this weekend and new leads have been a little slow this week. It may be that the weather is finally nice, but we would love for God to bring us a lot of new clients these next 2 weeks.
He can do this, w/o effort on His part, and we are solely dependent on His grace and provision to supply our every need.
He is good. Thanks for praying.

Sweet Satisfaction

Is. 43:1 But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
3 For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
4 Because you are precious in my eyes,
and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
peoples in exchange for your life.
5 Fear not, for I am with you;

What an encouragement. God is talking to His people Israel, but this is also to His chosen ones in this time. And as great as His promise was then, it seems to be even more precious now, because not only did He give other nations as a ransom for His people in the OT, now He has given His very Son for our ransom.

If He will take care of our salvation, would He just leave us to fend for ourselves? Surely not! How can vv 4&5 be true of me? There is no good in me that He should love me, except He has put it there. There is no reason for honoring me except for His grace. Yet He loves me and He has promised to be with me.

Our what sweet and precious promises are found in His Word, that satisfy the soul like nothing else. There is no sweeter fountain to drink from than His Word. No more comfort, no more rest, no greater joy and no other God like our God.

May I dwell and bask in the goodness of who He is today and may you find the same delight.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Live Holy

I was reading on the Shepherd's Fellowship site and came upon some good fodder from Dr. MacArthur. The posts are under the heading of "The Power of Living a Holy Life" and are well worth the time to read them both. Don't get side tracked into the Song of Solomon debate, at least until you have read the "Holy Living", as I think if we are truly striving to live holy and set apart from the world, that debate will take care of itself, for the most part. As always, Dr. MacArthur is excellent.

"What is our primary message to this world about God? Do we want the world to know that God is omnipotent? Omniscient? Omnipresent? Immutable? Sovereign? Eternal? The Creator and the Sustainer of the universe? Yes, we do. But by far the main attribute of God we want the unsaved to understand is that He is a Savior."

"To convince a man God can save, I need to show him a man He saved. To convince a man that God can give hope, I need to show him a man with hope. To convince a man that God can give peace, joy, and love, I need to show him a man with peace, joy, and love. To convince a man that God can give complete, total, and utter satisfaction, I need to show him a satisfied man. When the world sees people who are holy, righteous, peaceful, joyful, and fulfilled, they see the evidence of God’s transforming power."

This is a link to the site.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Passion Week 2009

The Passion week has ended and I didn't get many suggestions on traditions, but hopefully we made some strides in the right direction this year.

Here's what we did, though Resurrection day itself was a little out of order since we needed to pick up the boys at the airport.

I spent the entire week of my quiet time reading the Gospel accounts of Jesus' week leading up to Calvary, through the resurrection and ascension. I really tried to put myself in the shoes of either the disciples or to think of what Jesus Himself might have been thinking or feeling in each situation. This really helped me to focus throughout each day on the events that would have been happening. I believe this was very valuable for my walk. This was the first time I had done it and I would highly recommend it.

We had dinner on Sat. night with some friends from the church and we talked about spiritual things. The center piece was very poignant as we put together a "Crown of Thorns" out of Black Berry vines and had some long spikes on the table. A vivid reminder of the physical cost to our Lord.

I'm not sure that the food was anything special, or that it has to be. It is about our heart and whether we are helping others to worship rightly.

Anyway, I just thought I would share and would still be interested in hearing if you did something impacting, that should the Lord allow us to have another Resurrection Day in 2010 we would be more prepared.

Blanketed with Blessings

I can't give all the specifics of these events, to protect the privacy of others, but I want to relay a couple of stories that really touched my heart recently.

Something happened to me that really showed the Father's personal care for me. Teresa and I had wanted to go to an up coming event, but because of the cost of the boy's Europe trip, we decided we should probably not go. We get to do some really fun things and so if we have to miss an event here or there we still are blessed much more than we deserve.

Reluctantly I emailed the person in charge and told them we were going to have to decline this time around. Here is where the tender heart of a loving Father steps in. The person in charge emailed me back and said that they wanted us to come so much that they would cover the cost of us going, if we would reconsider attending.

We were trying to be joyful in not going and God honored that with an amazing blessing. Time and again He just blows me away.

The second story comes by way of Kimmy and a trip she took a while back with some friends.

They were all traveling and one of the gals had told the rest, "I need to stay back, but I would love for you to purchase me a blanket while you are out. Here is the money, you pick the one you think I would want."

The group goes out and she stays back, but the circumstances apparently changed and she was able to get out and do a little shopping. As she was looking in the stores she found the blanket that was exactly what she wanted, but she had already given her money to the others and there was no way to contact them.

Her response, and the Father's blessing, is what is so great. She just said in her heart, "Father, You know what I would like to have and I will be happy with whatever You have the girls bring back. If it is this one or not, I will trust You". When they returned they had picked the exact same blanket as she had seen.

He is so kind to us, so much more than we deserve. How can we not trust Him for the greater things when He is so faithful in the smallest of things? There was no NEED for Him to have the group find the exact blanket, but He was just showing His care for one of His children.

I think we miss out on a lot of the blessings of these kind of events, when we don't share them with each other. We need to tell each other of His goodness. Don't keep your blessings to yourself.

Are you a 2 year old?

Matt. 18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" 2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

I think when Jesus was saying this He was thinking about a very small child; maybe a 2 year old. Here is my reason for the thought.

On Saturday the fire department that responded to Grant's cardiac event had their annual pancake breakfast and so I went to thank them for their work on our behalf and to talk to others there about our story; trying to take advantage of a possible evangelism opportunity. Grant would have gone but he was in Scotland and Teresa said she thought she would have been too emotional, which is probably true.

As I was visiting with people there were a couple of conversations that were really encouraging. One I only overheard and it just reminded me of this passage.

A grandmother was telling her daughter about how her grand daughter, so 3 generations represented here, had been changing. Grandma and grand child used to hang out all the time and just have a lot of fun being together, but something happened. That something was the little 8 year old's seeming independence of everyone. Grandma said, "We used to have such fun together. We did everything together, but now she is so independent, she doesn't want to have me do anything for her. She is so independent."

I immediately thought about this passage and how each one of us is like this little girl. We get just mature enough to start doing things on our own, and we think we are no longer dependent. Is this little girl really independent of anyone? Can she actually do without grandma for even more than an hour, if she is under her care? How will she eat, of get from place to place? What happens is she has a medical issue? She will soon find out how dependent she really is.

I do the same thing. As soon as I can see the light at the end of the tunnel I start to be less sensitive of my dependence; which is ridiculous. How can I be independent of God's care and rule over my life, when I am no more independent than this little girl? Only sin makes me think this way.

It is not a man glorifying position to be so dependent on the Father, but it is what is true and it is the best place for us to be. May I be there more and more each day; living in light of my true dependence on Him. May I trust the Father's care implicitly for my every need and desire and may I rest fully knowing He has only my good on His heart. May I be as the smallest of children and just trust Him.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Familiar Fishing

John 21:3 Simon Peter said to the other disciples, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We will go with you." They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

4 Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus said to them, "Children, do you have any fish?" They answered him, "No." 6 He said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. 7 That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. 8 The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.

Jesus had already appeared to the disciples twice, so they knew He was alive. The conversation must have been fevered as they were trying to figure out what all this meant to them. What were they supposed to do now? "Jesus is alive, but how does that look to me"? He had taught them so much; cared for them, provided for them, but what was He calling them to do?

Peter, ever the leader, may have been restless, so he tells the others that he is going fishing. Whenever there is a time when a man doesn't know exactly what to do the fall back is often going to work. This is what Peter knows how to do, and the others figure that if Peter is going back to work, maybe they should to. Some good "man-time" in the boat, talking about the Lord and fishing. The sea air, the smell of past fishing trip all around them, fish slime, fish nets, the feel of the oars in their hands, the sounds of the water slapping he bottom of the boat, all these memories flooding their minds again. But this time, Jesus has to be the topic of conversation, as He should be in our lives everyday.

These were very experienced fisherman, not rookies like me. They knew exactly what to do, but they fished all night and got skunked. Not 1 fish. Really, not 1 fish? I can equal that:) Morning breaks, the conversation was still good, but no fish. Jesus appears on the shore and tells them to cast the net on the other side of the boat. I guess when you haven't caught anything all night you will take suggestions from just about anyone, even a "stranger".

How absurd it must have seemed to just throw the nets on the other side of the boat. This was not a big boat. There was probably only a few feet from one side of the boat to the other, and what difference would a few feet make, when they had been fishing all night? They did it anyway and oh what a surprise. Can you imagine their faces? From no fish, to the nets are going to break in one minute and a few feet.

John, who never names himself, figures it out immediately. Who, but the Lord, has this kind of power and wisdom? There is none like Him. Peter isn't waiting for them to get the boat to shore. Out he goes, but this time he doesn't have to walk on water, because the boat is close to shore. "It's Jesus, He is with us again".

Peter so wants to be near the Lord that he leaves the full nets and the other disciples to finish the work of getting the nets in and the boat to shore. "Who cares about fishing when the Lord is here"?

What started as a call to be fishers of men, some 3 years previous, has come full circle and Jesus is calling them out of the boat once and for all. They had been trained by the Master Fishermen and they were ready to start their real fishing now.

What a sweet breakfast it must have been. What a great reminder of Christ's call on each of our lives to be fishers of men, while we go about our daily routines. His call to us is that we proclaim the Good News. The call is to be doing that right where we are, right in the fishing boat, on the lake, at the breakfast table, what ever it is that we are doing right now, is where we are to be talking about the Good News; living out the Good News.

We men like to compartmentalize our lives, separating each item into its own slot and not mixing them, but this one thing should be mixed in with every other slot. Whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your might, but add the Gospel to it. This is how disciple making takes place. This is hard for me, as I have a lot of years doing it the other way to get over, but God is faithful and even in showing me this I can see His working in my life.

How are you doing with this? Are you taking the Gospel to those around you, while you are going, or are you waiting for the perfect slot to put it in? Don't wait.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Day that Changed all of History and Eternity

Resurrection morning comes and the birds are singing outside, though it is not really light yet as the rain is back.

What was the weather like this morning in Jerusalem? Was the sunrise like no other before or since? Were birds singing more audibly this day? For the disciples it would be a day they would never, including all of eternity, forget.

The Sabbath must have been a day of much mourning with a sense of failure; they had believed this Jesus all along and now He was gone. Had they followed their hearts too far? Was He just another prophet? He couldn't be whom they thought He was, since now He was gone. Back to the old life they knew before; fishing, serving others; but what about Matthew? What was he going to do? And Nicodemus? Oh but that would be answered soon enough.

Off to the tomb the ladies go. Surely they are so discouraged it can't be put into words. Were they talking on the way there or just crying? The Passover had come and gone, they had their "last supper" with Jesus and then He was gone; crucified on that horribly cross. Their mourning would be the first to be turned to joy.

Were the mens minds back to their work by now, or were their heads still spinning thinking about all that had just happened? How is it that Jesus only lasted for a few hours on the cross when others sometimes lasted days? What was that whole Temple curtain thing all about?

The ladies arrive and the stone is rolled away. They were trying to figure out how they would do this, but it was already done. That must have been strange. "Oh well, we need to do what we came here to do; let's get to work". Into the tomb, but where is the body? We know He was here just a few days ago; who has moved Him? Did someone come and steal His body? Why would they do such a thing?

Whoa, who are those 2 really bright guys? "Are we in trouble?" Their questions and their fears would soon be answered and they would soon meet the Savior in an entirely different form. Jesus must have looked so much better than when they had last seen Him that they couldn't recognize Him now, as they thought He was the gardener. But He explains the whole thing to them and they go to get the others. Now what was their conversation about; what was their mood? Were they even talking or were they going so fast they were out of breath?

They arrive were Peter and John are and a footrace ensues. To the tomb they go and John wins the race, but doesn't go in. Peter will not be stopped by a tomb; he barges right in. Whoa, the women were right; He isn't here. Did someone steal His body? Is this some sort of prank by the Romans?

But by the end of the day, this glorious Resurrection day, their questions would be answered and their fears would be calmed.

The 2 walking on the road to Emmaus talking to each other about what had just happened and sad by the outcome. But as soon as they had their eyes opened, they were no longer sad by the outcome. Jesus told them it was necessary to have this happen exactly how it did and now they were allowed to understand.

Dinner with the 11 must have been amazing, after Jesus opened their eyes and hearts. Can you imagine being there the second He was passing the bread and BOOM they were allowed to put it all together. What joy! This is Jesus; He is alive; He did exactly what He said He was going to do.

What a world changing day this proved to be; not just for them, but for all of man kind. He did conquer sin so that we might have joy in this life and the life to come. He conquered death so we would not have to fear death and so we could have eternal life.

What a plan. What a sacrifice on His part. What a triumph. What a future. God is so Good and we are the recipients of His goodness.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Separation Sabbath

Heb. 12:2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

John 15:9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.

17:5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

Matt. 27:46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" that is, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

For all my life I have always thought the greatest cost to Jesus in our "cost of salvation" was his death on the cross. I now think that this is wrong.

Though all that He suffered; Phil. 2:6 "Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross", living in the midst of sinful men and watching them sin right in front of Him, rejecting His love and life that He would lay down for them, all the hatred that His created people would have toward Him, yet I think that the worst pain, the highest cost to Him was the separation from the Father when He bore our sin. The days in the grave totally separated from the Father were the greatest lose for Him.

The Bible talks so much about the relationship that the Father and the Son have. I have missed that part of Jesus' message for so long. He could endure the pain of the cross and all the rest without saying anything; Is. 53: 7 "He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth", yet when the weight of our sin was placed on Him, immediately separating Him from the love and presence of the Father, that is when He cried out, "Why have you forsaken me?"

The relationship with the Father has to be so amazing to be able to endure all the other pain and not speak a word, and yet He cries out when it is broken, all be it just briefly, it is still broken.

The entire Bible is all about the relationship being broken and provision for restoration. The relationsip must be pretty important and it is more amazing than I am able to comprehend right now. Oh for the day when I will see Him face to face and will perfectly understand all that my sin has kept me from enjoying; His perfect presence.

Oh may I live in light of the relationship You have called me to. May I be ever closer to You and Your glory each day. May I love others in light of Your love for me and be a blessing to Your children. Give me grace to love and love to grace. All I have is from You and all I have that is of worth is You. Impress that on my heart and may it flow out of my life. Let me relate to others the way that You relate with me.

Change my heart oh God,
Make it ever true,
Change my heart oh God,
May I be like You

Friday, April 10, 2009

Isaiah 53

1 Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
9 And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.

The Wonder of the Cross

O precious sight, my Savior stands,
Dying for me with outstretched hands.
O precious sight, I love to gaze,
Remembering salvation’s day,
Remembering salvation’s day.
Though my eyes linger on this scene,
May passing time and years not steal
The power with which it impacts me,
The freshness of its mystery,
The freshness of its mystery.

May I never lose the wonder,
The wonder of the cross.
May I see it like the first time
Standing as a sinner lost,
Undone by mercy and left speechless,
Watching wide eyed at the cost.
May I never lose the wonder,
The wonder of the cross.

Behold the God-man crucified,
The perfect sinless sacrifice.
As blood ran down those nails and wood,
History was split in two, yes,
History was split in two.
Behold the empty wooden tree,
His body gone, alive and free.
We sing with everlasting joy,
For sin and death have been destroyed, yes,
Sin and death have been destroyed.

May I never lose the wonder,
The wonder of the cross.
May I see it like the first time
Standing as a sinner lost,
Undone by mercy and left speechless,
Watching wide eyed at the cost.
May I never lose the wonder,
The wonder of the cross.

May I never lose the wonder,
The wonder of the cross.
May I see it like the first time
Standing as a sinner lost,
Undone by mercy and left speechless,
Watching wide eyed at the cost.
May I never lose the wonder,
The wonder of the cross.

Words and Music by Vicky Beeching

Oh may the Lord find us faithful to remember His sacrifice on our behalf each and every day. May we never forget the wonder or the cost of the cross.

How Good is God that He would devise such a plan to redeem sinners with the life of His Son? There are no words to express such goodness, but may we live out the gratitude we have in our hearts and be ever working to try to express it.

Scandal of a Trial

By this time of the morning Jesus would be going through a mockery of a trial. The leaders of this band of rebellious leaders knew they had to get this trial done quickly, for religious reasons; The Passover was right in front of them, and so they sped the entire process up to fit into their plans, but it wasn't their plan at all that all. The Father had the plan and He also had the people in place who would be willing to carry out His plan, Is. 53:10 Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief.

Yes, The Passover was right in front of them, but The Lamb was also literally right in front of them and the had missed the point all along. I think that was Jesus' point for 3 years to the Pharisees; they were so caught up in the rituals and ceremonies but they had forgotten what they were all about. Similar to our holidays now; we have Christmas, to remember the birth of Christ, but often it is more about family and time off. We have Easter to remember the death and resurrection of Christ, but it's about dinner with family, girls in new dresses, kids looking for eggs and candy, and we miss the entire point. The Lord's table, church service and worship can be the same way. We must remember why we are doing what we are doing.

As I have said many times in these last posts, "I can't imagine what Jesus must have been thinking and going through". That is the beautiful thing about God's whole plan, is that we can't imagine and we couldn't have done it. Our death would have been insufficient for any of the work that Jesus did on the cross. Any amount of suffering would have only been the tip of the iceberg of what we deserved to have laid on us, because we are sinners. But it is only because Jesus, the Just, was willing to die for us, the unjust, that the payment for our sins could be atoned for. He is our spotless, perfect Lamb, that for centuries passed the Jews had been symbolizing with their own sacrifices, and yet they missed it.

Today is called Good Friday, but it was the worst/best day for Jesus. The worst because He had to become sin for us, which separated Him from the Father. The best because He followed the Father's plan perfectly and finished His work here on earth to restore the relationship we had broken.

The entire Bible is the story of God working out the plan, and revealing it to us, about how He would fix what we had broken. We really don't understand the magnitude of this plan. Why would God go to such great lengths to restore the relationship with us? This is what the weekend is about; Remembering what God did on our behalf.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Jesus' Last night before the Cross

Jesus prayed for His disciples, and the rest of His children. He was finished with His work on earth that the Father had given Him to do. Jesus had perfectly finished His work and He was nearing the time when He would get to go back to Heaven to be with the Father.

He prayed that the Father would protect them and that they would be one. He prayed that they would have His joy fulfilled in them, that they would be sanctified by His Word, and rejoiced that He would not lose one that He had chosen.

Jesus knew what was right around the corner. It was evening and that night was the night He would be betrayed. He knew who all the players would be, He knew all their motives and He knew their hearts, yet He still was willing to go forward with the plan. He could have called His angels to stop the entire plan, but He knew this was the Father's will. So meek, so submissive, so kind; and for us.

Out to the Garden of Gethsemane with His disciples in tow. He knew what would happen here as well. This was a favorite spot for them to gather and listen to Him teach and just have great fellowship. Big, old, sort of scary looking trees over head; grass under foot; a cold night was ahead. Were birds out singing this evening, or did God shut their mouths in reverence for what was about to take place?

Jesus gives the instruction for the disciples to pray with Him and He goes off to pray by Himself. As I have read this passage before I have often thought I would have been able to stay awake, but this is just pride. I'm tired right now and I know if I had to stay awake for a long time, I would fall asleep. Praying doesn't help to keep you awake; eyes closed, talking quietly, but maybe that's Jesus' point. If we knew the magnitude of what was about to happen, we would not be falling asleep. Jesus knew and there was no sleep in His future. No rest for the sinless One until He went to be with the Father.

What a night this would be. For Jesus it was filled with ridicule, beating, being spit on, whipped, questioned and forsaken by all those He had taught and discipled for the past 3 years. None were left but The Father and soon the Father would turn His back on Him as well. Abandoned and Alone, He born the world's affliction, He bore it as His own.

The disciples were afraid of the religious leaders, afraid of maybe being kicked out of the synagogue, afraid of being associated with Jesus, at least for tonight. Everything they had known for the last 3 years was now upside down. They were with the Messiah, but this is not how they thought it would turn out. Fireside accusations, servant girls, cold night air, scattered disciples, and a rooster all made for a very sad night and early morning.

Would we have noticed? Would we have followed? We will never know, because we are here today. But will we follow regardless of the cost? Will we stay awake to pray? Do we understand the cost of discipleship? Do we understand the importance of prayer?

Thursday night of Passion week is a heavy night. Let us not forget the cost He paid.

Cross Contemplation

Teresa and I were talking yesterday about the fact that no one had commented back on the Easter Tradition post. I told her that I wasn't surprised as I don't think there are too many, who would be reading this blog, who have been raised with much in the way of Easter traditions.

I was raised in the church and I don't remember any traditions in our family, or in any other family for that matter.

I am not disappointed by the lack of comments, but am resolved to have a tradition in my life. Whether the kids pick it up, from me starting so late in their life, or not I'm not sure, but I will move forward anyway.

I think the best thing we can do is to truly focus on what this time means, both in a focus on Christ's death on the cross and victory over the grave. This meditation has been good for my soul this week as it has kept me much more focused on the cost of winning my soul. Prayer has followed closely behind the meditation, as it is hard to really think about this week's significance and not be humbled and grateful to Christ. My heart has be filled to overflowing with gratitude, and I think that is because of the time spend reading the Word and really thinking about the cost.

So, I want to encourage you to make the time to slow down, stop, dwell, linger at the foot of the cross. Think about what this beautiful, scandalous cross means to you today. How can we rush by the cross, especially this week, and not be changed? The cost is too high to just brush it off. Make some sort of new tradition in your family this year that will help you focus on the cross, the tomb and the triumph of Christ. Not so you have a tradition, for the sake of a tradition, but so you are better able to worship.

When Christ was sweating drops of blood because of the impending agony of taking on my sin onto His sinless self, that should cause some measure of seriousness in my week. When Christ says that He lays down His life willingly, knowing the true cost of His life, verses the value of my life, that too should cause some incredible thankfulness in my heart. His sinless life, for my wretched heart, is not a fair trade.

It is hard to take the candy and bunnies that are so prevalent every where you turn. What do they have to do with Resurrection Day? What do they have to do with the cross and the cost? The world is trying to forget what this week is about, and candy and bunnies apparently help keep their minds distracted. I don't want to be distracted, I want to be attracted to the cross.

Lord, give me a passion for You and Your Word; for Your people and the lost. The cost to You was so great to win my heart, may I never lose focus on that cost. Thank you for being willing to lay down Your life for mine; for being willing to pay the price for my sin. There are no words to express the debt that I owe. There are no works I can do to repay You. I have a need that only You can supply, and that need is You. May I give myself back to You in whatever way You desire and may I give myself fully to the task that You have for me. May You be glorified in my life; I don't really know how that is possible- that You would be glorified in one like me- except that You show off Your power in taking me from dead to alive; from a heart of stone to a heart of flesh. May I be truly alive in You, my living Head. Thanks for being willing and able to do this for me.

Tumultuous Thursday

My heart is full this morning as I think about Jesus' last full day before the cross. A day filled with some teaching, but much prayer. I really can't imagine the weight He was carrying on this Tumultuous Thursday.

Matt. 5: 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Matt. 26:39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will."

This may seem like a strange connection of verses, but I think there is one. Jesus is speaking in both of these verses; the first He is addressing the multitudes the second His Father. But the connection I see is that He is telling us that we are "least in the Kingdom of Heaven" if we do not follow ALL of His commandments and encourage others to do the same. Often we take the commandments that are the "easier ones" and leave the hard ones to someone "more spiritual". Jesus is submitting His will to the Father, even in the absolute hardest way, and though He asks if there is another way, He still follows the Father's plan.

I want to follow Him closely. My flesh is weak. Sin is strong. The world has so much to distract my attention. BUT He is faithful and He can give me the desire to follow.

Lord, keep us close to You. Write Your name on our hearts and keep us following hard after You. Keep our affections hot for You. Don't let us settle for lesser joys. Keep our eyes focused on the prize, that is You. Make the things of earth grow strangely dim, in the light of Your glory and grace.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Peace, Not as the World Gives, do I Give to You.

John 14:18 "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him." 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, "Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?" 23Jesus answered him, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.

25"These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, 'I am going away, and I will come to you.' If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.

There are so many deep truths in just these 2 paragraphs. Jesus is giving final instructions to the disciples and He tells them that "He is not leaving them as orphans". They probably weren't getting the entirety of this right at this exact minute, but Jesus tells them that He is telling them about this right now, so they would have their faith increased, when it does happen. They would be able to look back and remember that He had just told this to them. His faithful care of us is so great.

He also tells them if we love Him they will keep His commandments. Conversely, if we don't keep His commandments, we don't love Him. There is no in between. Submission to His Word is paramount in our lives.

He tells them about the Holy Spirit coming to live in them and that this "Helper" will instruct them and bring to remembrance things He has already told them. The Holy Spirit will bring peace into their lives in a way that the rest of the world does not have. He immediately tells them not to let their hearts be troubled or afraid. He knew that would be their inclination, and ours as well. Their Provider and Protector was leaving them, now what were they to do? Trust that He is good and He has it under control.

The disciples had to be both confused and encouraged. After Jesus' death on the cross they went back to their old lives until He came and really opened their eyes, so right here they still don't understand fully what He was telling them. What a day it must have been when He "turned on the light" and allowed them to fully understand all.


Tuesday through Thursday Jesus was spending time teaching His disciples. He had spent 3 years with them, teaching and showing them what it means to be His follower. Much of the time He had not allowed them to fully understand what He was talking about, so there were always questions about what He had just said, or done. Now He is allowing them more insight into what He was doing and saying and they were starting to get it.

I really can't imagine what was going through His mind this week. He knew what was right around the corner. He knew that He would be separated from the Father. He was sinless and was going to have all of our sin laid on Him. Yet He knew that the Father's plan was perfect and He perfectly trusted the Father. No doubt; what a glorious thought.

As Jesus is gently teaching these last few days before Calvary, 7 times in John 14-16 He encourages them to "ask whatever you will and he Father will give it to you" or something very similar to this. He had been their perfect Provider for 3 years and now He was going away. He must have known they were going to be concerned for their basic needs. There are some conditions, like abiding before receiving, but there is to be much asking. What a comfort it must have been for the disciples to know that they could just ask the Father and He would give them what they asked in His name, so that the Father would be glorified in the Son.

I'm not sure how far reaching this is. I'm not sure to what extent Jesus was telling them, just ask and He will give it, whatever it is. In principle He is not telling them that He will give them "a new Mercedes" every time they ask, but He certainly is telling them to ask frequently enough that He must mean it. It also seems that the Son is excited to tell them to ask the Father; sort of a "ask Him and see what He is capable of doing on my behalf for you". Kind of like, "My Dad is so good and powerful that you can ask Him whatever you want and He will do it, just because He loves me".

Jesus also was telling them about the Holy Spirit, who He would leave with them, that would comfort and instruct them. They didn't fully understand this yet, but it wouldn't be long and they would have a much greater grasp on what this would mean and how much they would need Him.

3 years of Jesus 24-7 and in just a few short days they would have to take all that He had been living out before them and put it into practice. 3 years of training for ministry. 3 years of "Bible". Was this the first seminary? Jesus had equipped them to do ministry and He knew they were prepared, as soon as He finished His work and gave them the Holy Spirit.

Today, His work is finished and He has left us His Holy Spirit and His Word and we have all the tools we need to be His disciples. Ask the Father what you will and He will do it. Ask Him to change the world through you. Are you begging Him to change your life and the lives of those around you, for His glory? He wants to change us and He will be glorified. Ask Him and watch Him work and then watch Him make your joy complete.

I am not a great "asker", but it seems this is exactly what Jesus is telling us to do. Ask and do NOT doubt and the Father will give it to you. Is it pride that keeps me from asking? I hope not. I know I don't have any power to do any of this myself, so I should be begging all time to have Him do the work He has planned for me, through me. I must be better at asking.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Blessing or Judgment?

John 13:44 And Jesus cried out and said, "Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.

Contrast that with;
Luke 11:28 "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!"

A sobering reminder of having ears that do not hear and eyes that do not see. If your ears are not hearing, pray that God would open them and that He would give you eyes to see the wondrous truths in His Word, and a heart to respond to it. Our earthly happiness and eternal residence depends on it.

A Busy Tuesday for Christ

It seems that Tuesday of this week in Jesus' life was a busy day. I'm not 100% sure on these details, but it looks like this is correct, though each Gospel has it laid out a little differently. None the less, much was happening on this day in Jesus' life, and He had much to complete before Friday. Here is what I believe happened.

The first thing in the morning Jesus curses the fig tree.

Jesus' authority is challenged in the temple.

Jesus teaches in parables and confronts the Jewish Leaders.

Jesus laments over Jerusalem.

Jesus foretells the end of the age.

The Greeks ask to see Jesus.

The Olivet Discourse.

Judas agrees to betray Jesus.

Each night it appears that Jesus stayed in Bethany, about 2 miles away from Jerusalem, possibly with Lazarus, Mary and Martha. What a glorious time this must have been for them. I wonder if Jesus was even more focused than usual? The Bible doesn't record for us any time that He laughed, but I would think this would not have been a time of much laughter for Him.

How much more was He teaching them than He had been previously? He only had a few days left; if I knew when my last hours on earth were, I would be giving many final instructions. His final instructions were much more important than mine could ever be. Did they understand more today than previously? Isn't it awesome that He has left us His final instructions that we can read whenever we like? Should we not be more interested?

The power of sin in Judas' heart had to be incredible. For him to spend 3 years with God incarnate and turn his back on Him and sell Him for a few dollars is unthinkable, but this was all the Father's plan and Jesus tells us that no one took His life, but He laid it down willingly, and Judas was just part of that plan.

As I am thinking about this week, much differently than before, I am humbled by the fact that Christ would go to such lengths for me; He calls sinners to repentance just for His glory. He doesn't need our praise to make Him great; He is already great, we just get to worship Him because He allows it. We can have righteous thoughts about our Great God, because He draws us to Himself, and gives us the righteous thoughts.

We would have been the people going on with our daily lives, busy before the "holiday weekend"; making preparations for the guests coming over; all caught up in the celebration of what? Oh, we totally missed the point of the celebration by being so busy.

What will this Tuesday hold for you? Are you thinking about the seriousness of this week? Is this week any different than any other week of the year, but it happens to have a "mandatory church day" affiliated with it? Or, is this the most amazing week of your entire year?

God left Heaven to come to earth and be killed for you and me and this week is the week when we celebrate His sacrifice on our behalf; should we not be more serious this week? Should this not cause us to stop and reflect on the cost?

Lord, may we be a thankful, humble, repentant, grateful and worshiping people. May our lives reflect the life that You gave to us. May we be lights in a dark world. Give us boldness to tell of Your greatness. This is a most glorious week. A week that cost You Your life, to give us ours. If we are silent, the rocks will cry out in our place, so may we NOT be silent. Thank You for Your unspeakable Gift. May we be excited to share the Good News with others.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

There had to be a huge buzz in the air, as so many were following Jesus by now. The Jewish leaders were all trying to figure out how to get rid of Jesus, and quickly, since they could see that He was very different from them and they didn't want to lose their influence. The Father had it all worked out; they didn't need to plan anything more than He had already done. All they needed to do was give in to their sinful hearts and the rest would be history.

What a Day this would be. Prophecy fulfilled as Jesus cleanses the Temple. Can you imagine what the leaders of the synagogue were thinking when Jesus runs them out? What were the "regular" people thinking as they watched Jesus do this? They had to have been confused and delighted as they saw their leaders, who had put so many burdens on them, confused and irritated with Jesus, and yet delighted, because maybe this Jesus could be different from their present leaders.

The money changers may have been thinking, "Who does this Jesus think He is anyway? Taking away our profit center. How dare He do such a thing?" They were so lost in their traditions that they couldn't see the True Lamb that was standing right in front of them, as they were trying to sell their sacrificial animals.

How deceptive our hearts can be. Having eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear until the Great Physician comes and opens them and allows us to know the Truth. Were it not for grace we all would go the way of the leaders and the money changers.

After this, what was the rest of the day like for Jesus and the disciples? What was the conversation over dinner that night? Jesus was only going to be with them a couple more days, in the flesh, and they really had know idea what was going on yet. Were they talking politics while Jesus was teaching about the Kingdom of Heaven? Their thoughts had to be on where they would be positioned, and Jesus knew what was to come for them.

Christ knew the price He was going to have to pay in just a few days. The weight of the world's sin was going to be on Him. The Father would turn His back on the Son. He knew all this and yet He proceeded with the Father's plan.

Amazing Love,
how can it be,
that thou my God,
would die for me.

Thank You Father for Your great love toward us. You devised the plan to take away our sin, even at the cost of Your Son. Thank You Jesus for submitting to the will of the Father, that we might have life, and life more abundantly, in this world and for all of eternity and thanks for leaving us the Holy Spirit to guide and direct us, to be our comfort and strength that we might endure this world. What an amazing plan to save Your enemies and make us friends.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Absolutely Different

"The glory of the Gospel is that when the Church is absolutely different from the world, she invariability attracts it. It is there that the world is made to listen to her message, though it may hate it at first. Our ambition should be to be like Christ, the more we are like Him the better, and the more like Him we become, the more we shall be unlike everybody who is not a Christian". M. Lloyd-Jones

The world has done a masterful job at getting us to buy into the idea that birds of a feather will reign together, but this could not be farther from the truth. We need to be separate from the world in how we live, but in the world to share the Gospel with it; In the world but not of the world.

This is not easy when everything around us is telling us different, but that is why we need to encourage one another to love and good deeds, speaking to each other in songs, and hymns and spiritual songs, so we are reminded of who we are in Christ. If you are forsaking the fellowship of believers, you are missing the opportunity to be encouraged and strengthened along the way.

Just a little side post as I was reading this afternoon.

All That Thrills My Soul is Jesus

This is a song that I grew up singing along to with a Scottish Men's Choir recording that me dad had. There were a couple hundred men singing acapella, with a Scottish accent. It was glorious, even for a 10 year old. Great words.

All That Thrills my Souls is Jesus

Who can cheer the heart like Jesus,
By His presence all divine?
True and tender, pure and precious,
O how blest to call Him mine!

All that thrills my soul is Jesus,
He is more than life to me;
And the fairest of ten thousand
In my blessed Lord I see.

Love of Christ so freely given,
Grace of God beyond degree,
Mercy higher than the heaven,
Deeper than the deepest sea!


What a wonderful redemption!
Never can a mortal know
How my sin, tho red like crimson,
Can be whiter than the snow.


Every need His hand supplying,
Every good in Him I see;
On His strength divine relying,
He is all in all to me.


By the crystal flowing river
With the ransomed I will sing,
And forever and forever
Praise and glorify the King


Thoro Harris, 1931

Palm Sunday

Today is Palm Sunday. What a week this must have been for Jesus. He knew His time line and He knew exactly what was to come.

Was this in the morning or afternoon? I don't know for sure, but I can picture the crowd going up to Jerusalem from Bethany, walking up the hill among the olive trees, the sounds and smells of the season all around. Birds singing as their Creator walks by. Did they know who He was? Were the figs on the trees this morning extra sweet?

The crowd and the disciples were thinking something very different was going to happen. They were getting ready to take over the city, or so they thought. They were getting ready to be the new rulers of Jerusalem, but they were very mistaken.

Jesus knew the plan, He had told them the plan many times, but they hadn't really gotten it yet. In a week of so it would make a lot more sense to the disciples, but most of the crowd would never understand; they were just hanging around to see what new thing Jesus was going to do next. His "new thing" was to give His life for us.

He could see the hypocrisy in their hearts; He could see their motives and yet He still stayed with the Father's plan.

What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this
That caused the Lord of bliss
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul!

Dinner with Jesus

The night before the Triumphal Entry had to be a pretty special night. Though the disciples didn't know what was to come the next week that Sabbath dinner had to be pretty amazing.

Jesus has dinner with Martha and Mary. Can you just smell the dinner? The sounds of serving utensils, cooking and visiting in the air. Sweet fellowship of the disciples with their Lord. Mary brings in this very expensive perfume, and fills the room with fragrance. That had to bring the conversation to a halt. All eyes were now on Mary and Jesus. Mary doesn't care if others are watching, she is here to worship her Lord.

The story generally gets told of Mary anointing Jesus' feet with expensive perfume, Judas asking why they didn't just give the money to him, so he could steal it and Martha serving, but I think something else significant is happening here. Jesus is having dinner with Lazarus.

As one who gets to eat meals with one who has been "dead", I get the point how special this must have been. Jesus is having dinner with the one He loved after He raised him from the dead. I do understand that Lazarus was much more dead than Grant.

The sisters must have been beside themselves, looking over at Lazarus. What a miracle to get to have dinner with their brother again. Every time Martha walked by him she must have shook her head in disbelief. Mary knew it was special, but she was focused on Christ. She loved her brother, but she loved Christ more. Her brother was special, but Jesus was more special. She understood the preciousness of Christ and that He requires our willingness to leave all earthly things to follow him.

There is nothing we have here that compares to Christ. There is nothing worthy of our worship but Christ. There is no fellowship that should supersede our fellowship with Christ.

Oh that we might have fellowship and worship like He is with us today, because He is. Would it be difficult to talk about spiritual things if Jesus was sitting at the table with you? Would the attention be on you, or Jesus?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Easter Tradition

I am not a tradition person at all, so I need some help here.

Does anyone have a great tradition for Easter? We have a bit of a strange one this year as "dead boy" and his brother don't come back from England until Easter evening, but I would like to get some sort of idea what others do for this most triumphant of days.

Does anyone fast on Friday-Saturday to feast on Sunday? Does anyone have a sort of "upper room" kind of meal? I just want this Easter to be more spiritually focused then it has been in the past for our family. Especially since we now have our own personally resurrection day with Grant and I can see what He is doing in my heart through this.

You will be required to post a comment, but remember that it encourages others when you do:)

More Thoughts on Prayer

I had a discussion with SKH yesterday about my prayer post, which was good, not the post but the discussion. He said he was going to post his response but just it to me in person. I will try to get it right but will not put in in quotes as it might be slightly off; Ask high, but keep asking, and leave it up to God. At least that's what I came away with.

His point was even Jesus asked the Father to "take this cup from me, but not my will but thine be done". I am encouraged by that. I really don't want to try to push my "program" on God and presume that He has to answer whatever I ask, like some sort of genie in a bottle, but I do find encouragement in knowing that when I ask my Heavenly Father He knows my needs already, but He wants to hear my heart and motive for asking. Our hearts are truly deceitful and desperately wicked and we can't know for sure what is in them, but when we ask righteously and God gives what we are asking for and if that brings Him glory, maybe that's a good barometer for what is truly in our hearts.

God has really changed my priorities over the past year, in that my current idea of what success and prosperity for PG looks much different than it did just a year ago. Praise be to God, who is the only One who could bring about this change. I still have responsibilities in leadership of the company but I think for me the ending result of success looks different.

With that said I want to give you some prayer requests, that I hope are in line with God's priorities for PG.

God would continue to grant financial success, so we can continue to support the many families that have put their lives on the financial line with PG.

He would continue to bring us qualified leads and that we would be busier rather than slower, so the machines are more productive. We pay the same amount per month for our machinery whether they are running 24-7 or 3-4, so it is better stewardship if they are running longer.

Continued use of our material, rather than having to purchase material down town. This is all about whether or not the client likes our colors, and God can bring colors into fashion.

I would take the opportunity of discipleship/training with the guys He has entrusted to me. This is what I see as my greatest stewardship opportunity. I have a platform that maybe no one else has in the lives of these men and I want to take that seriously.

In all these things I want to hold on loosely to the blessings He has given and fight for the opportunities. I want to be content in whatever He gives and truly leave it up to Him.

Thanks so much for all your prayers and even though I know many don't post comments, I have heard from some of you that you are reading this and that rally encourages me. I would like to try to encourage you to post comments, not so I can count who is posting, but you don't know how much others are encouraged when you post a comment back. I hear it all the time, "That comment was so good, it really helped to solidify the initial post", or something to that effect.

Stay in the Word, guard your hearts and look only to Christ. Oh for that day when we sing with the angels, but until then, let us be about our Father's business.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Psalm 23

Ps 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.

4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD

Though this is a relatively short Psalm and I would venture to say that most people could recite it from memory it is so full of encouragement and promise.

With the Lord as our Shepherd, we never will want of need. He provides everything, including rest, in green pastures. The green pastures give comfortable rest, but also food. He provides everything for His sheep as we, His sheep, willing follow Him. Notice that He is not driving us, but is leading us beside the still water. He doesn't lead His sheep to rushing rivers, as we sheep would be afraid. He knows what we need and provides it is a way that is best for us to receive it. He restores our soul, as only He can, but it is for His name's sake that He restores.

We are only in the valley of the Shadow of death, not death itself, because for His sheep He has conquered death for us already. Death and evil can't scare us, because we are alive in Him. His rod and staff are for our defense and chastisement. They are used independently of each other, but both are for our good.

This next part is pretty mind blowing. Only the King's invited guests get to sit at HIS table, but not only are we at His table, His children are guests of honor as our enemies are made to eat and give honor to His guests. His anointing is also for those whom He honors. He blesses His children with oil, in a dry and weary land. Not only are our cups full, but they are overflowing. He provides exceedingly abundantly to His flock.

"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life"; I have never thought of this relating to my life here on earth. I guess I always jumped over to "dwelling in the house of the Lord forever". The Great Shepherd give us, FOR SURE, goodness and mercy in this life; all the days of this life, not just a few. His goodness and mercy is new every morning and is for every day we are left here on earth and when those "run out" we will be immediately in Heaven for them to continue for all of eternity. There will be none wasted and none held back.

What a blessed promise this psalm is. Sing it in your heart today as you worship the One who is our Shepherd, our Pasture and our Lamb. It is only 1 week until good Friday. Prepare your heart early for Easter Sunday. I hope to post more thoughts toward the cross, the grave and the resurrection this week to prod my soul into clearer worship of Him.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Observe the Glory of God

John 11:14 Then Jesus told them plainly, "Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him."
40 Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?" 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me." 43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out." 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go."

Sometimes "bad things" happen to us that we really can't explain. In this case a "bad thing" (death) happened to Lazarus, but Jesus explained to the disciples why it happened; so that His glory might be shown and they might believe.

Maybe if I was observing more closely I would see the Glory of God more in the events around me. Maybe in those observances my faith would be strengthened. Maybe, just maybe, in doing those 2 things I would not fall to the sin of worry because my faith would be strengthened.

Notice in verse 35, which in not on this page the personal Jesus who loves His disciples so much that He weeps when He sees their grief.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Prayer Requests Restructured

I was listening to a sermon today as I was in the shop fabricating. That's one of the best things about working with your hands, is your mind and heart can focus on other things as you just work away. The time goes really fast.

In the sermon I was convicted about how I pray and the prayer requests that I have recently posted. It seems like I am presuming on God to answer my requests to Him, in thinking that I know the direction He should go. Like He needs my help in deciding what is best for me/Priceless Granite.

I should be asking that God would do as He sees best, after all "He gives what is best when we leave the choice to Him"- Jim Elliot- so shouldn't I just leave it up to Him? My request should be more like; pray that God would do as He sees fit and that I would be content, even joyful, in His choice.


Prayer Requests

We had a great month at Priceless Granite. Record lead count. Good sales and nice installs.

That God would continue to bring leads that are good leads.
That we would know which ones to try to win and which ones to let go.
Wisdom for making good decisions, with regard to pricing and company direction.
Continued interest in our material.
Health and safety for the guys working.

I want to add for me personally, that I would begin to see the opportunity God has given me with the staff and their spiritual lives. I guess I am starting to see this as my mission field. Many in this world are hurting and I want to be an encouragement and a light to those God brings across my path.

Thanks again for your prayers. God is SO good. He is FULL of Delight.

Life Abundantly

John 10:9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

Jesus is telling us that there is only one way to be saves; only one way to find pasture and only one way to have life abundantly and that is through Him. He is talking about eternal life here, but is it just restricted to an abundant eternal life?

Didn't He come to give us joy in our lives here on earth as well? Satan and his demons come to take our lives and steal our joy and our lives here on earth, but the Good Shepherd laid down His life that we might have joy in this life and joy in the life to come. The rub comes when we believe the lies of this world and go after the things that steal our joy and life, instead of the things God has intended for our joy.

It's not that we can't do all these other things, it is just that when we do them, or seek our satisfaction in them, we allow them to take the place of the things that actually bring true joy. Like eating leftover hot dogs before the feast.

Wait on, and delight yourself in, the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. He did come to give us an abundant life now and for eternity. Don't settle for lesser joy.