Show Your Love

My oldest granddaughter Avery who is 7 years old came by the other day and she gave me a letter with a picture in it. It was a picture of her and me holding hands and it said “I love you Papa.” She did not feel well that day but she still took the time to make something for me. She is so sweet. Writing letters and drawing pictures for people is one way that Avery shows people that she loves them. Our refrigerator has been adorned with many letters and pictures from Avery declaring her love for Nana and Papa.

This morning as I am looking at this letter again and thinking about how much I appreciate the way Avery expresses her love for me, I have been reminded that Christ told us the best way to express our love for Him. In John 14:15 Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” Those commandments include all of His teachings and they are found throughout the entirety of God’s word. Loving God, loving our neighbor, loving our enemies, and loving all others even as we love ourselves…what a picture that is.

Posted in ambassadors, Christianity, Church, faith, God, grandchildren, John 14:15, Neighbor, religion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do Your Best

My dad used to always encourage me to do my best. He would say, “Son, if you are playing a basketball game and you don’t leave the game with at least three fouls, you probably didn’t play hard enough. You probably didn’t take enough chances. You can’t always be the best, but you can always do your best.” When I think of the effort he was describing I think of Paul’s words in Colossians 3:23 where Paul wrote to the church, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.”

Paul was encouraging the church to always do their best. And why wouldn’t we? We have received the best! We have received the love, the mercy and the grace of God. We know of His goodness, His kindness and His provision. We should offer our best in everything we do and in the midst of every circumstance. Certainly we will make some mistakes and we will have our “fouls” in this life but we should definitely offer our best in everything situation. We represent the Lord God and we do not want to provide a poor or misguided representation. Join me in asking the Lord to help us give our best this week when it comes to working and playing, to living and loving, and most certainly when it comes to forgiving others.

Posted in Christianity, Church, Colossians 3:23, Do Your Best, Don't give up, faith, God, God's Standards, ministry work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

He Knows Our Frame

One of my favorite Bible verses and one that I share quite frequently is Psalm 103:14. It is a psalm in which David is reminding himself of all the blessings he receives from God. It can be helpful to make those lists and count our blessings from time to time. An interesting thing that David includes in his list is God’s understanding of our weaknesses. David says in verse 14, “For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.”

Our Creator who made us, knows all of our traits and tendencies, all of our failings and our flaws. He understands when and why we slip, stumble and fall – and He will help us stand back up. He understands even when we become upset at Him. Yes, God knows our frame and being mindful of our frame, He makes available to us a Redeemer and a Comforter. As David says in Psalm 103 “the Lord is gracious and compassionate…” for He is willing to remove our transgressions from us “as far as the east is from the west.” The Lord is mindful of our frame and He will meet all of our needs. His love is truly from everlasting to everlasting. I pray that you have a great week and I hope that you will have a chance sometime this week to stop and count your blessings.

Posted in Christianity, Church, forgiveness, God, God Knows, God Loves Me, guilt and shame, Promises, Psalm 103:14, redeemed, religion | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tending the Garden

We had some rain this week and I tried to take advantage of the soft ground and get out in the back yard and pull some weeds out of the garden. Even though it is winter, a few have popped up lately due to some of the warm weather we have had. Those things just seem to keep coming and never stop. I guess it is the same way with us and our lives as well; we have to be diligent and continually tend to the gardens of our lives so that the weeds don’t overtake the flowers. That can be a tough job and one that is difficult for us to do on our own. I think that is what David was saying at the end of Psalm 139 when he says:

Psalm 139:23 “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; 24 And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.”

David wants to live a life that is pleasing to God. He wants to remove the weeds and the clutter and offer a place of peace and beauty to the Lord. And David knows that try as he might, the job is too much for him, so he asks God for help. I am certain that God heard and answered David’s prayer. I am certain of that because I know the Lord is always ready to help us, to minister to us and bring a measure of beauty and peace to our lives that we cannot bring on our own.

Posted in Christianity, faith, God, God will help you, God's Love, God's Strength, Pleasing God, pruned by God, Psalm 139:23, religion, Search Me O God, the love of God | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Truth of Christmas Songs

I love the songs of Christmas. As a kid growing up I did not spend a lot of time in church. What I learned about God, heaven, and Jesus I picked up mostly in Vacation Bible School and I learned a lot from Christmas songs. I love the truths found in the Christmas carols. For example that verse in “O Come All Ye Faithful.”

“Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born this happy morning;
Jesus, to thee be glory given; Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing:
O come, let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.”

There are some great truths of the faith presented in the words of those songs. But even beyond the words of truth present in those songs, what spoke to me was the spirit of the songs. I don’t see how anyone can listen to those songs and not experience a sense of reverence, a sense of peace and God’s goodwill. I can tell you that as a child when I heard Silent Night, when I heard Away in a Manger, when I heard those types of Christmas songs my heart was filled with peace. The hustle and bustle of this world, the chaos of life seemed to slow down and there seemed to be a sense of order and it seemed as if God was telling me that because of the gift of His Son everything was going to be all right. To me, even as a child, it just seemed there was too much chaos in the world.

As I grew I learned that just as the Christmas songs say, Christ came to offer peace on earth and goodwill to men…gifts that only He can give. He offers peace even in the midst of the most difficult situations. Christ offers peace to us even when we have done wrong even when we have brought more chaos into our own lives. In John chapter 8 there is a woman who has been caught in the act of adultery and Jesus intervenes in the midst of that situation. He brings peace to the situation. He grants her forgiveness and sends her on her way. She is sent on her way not as one condemned, and not as one condoned but as one commissioned to receive His grace and to sin no more and to know the peace and the order that only Christ can bring to one’s life.

Christ offers peace even in the midst of our personal aches and pains. He is the Good Shepherd spoken of by David in Psalm 23. He restores the soul. As David said in Psalm 23:4 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”

The New Testament records for us person after person strengthened and comforted by Christ as He engaged in His earthly ministry. Jesus still reaches out to comfort us and give us peace today. He said in

Matthew 11:28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. 30 “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

I did not know that verse when I was a kid. And I did not know what weary and heavy-laden was but there were things that caused me grief and there were some things made me tired. And I knew from the Christmas songs I heard that Jesus Christ offered peace to me. I knew that in His presence it could be a silent night; it could be a holy night. He had the power to step into my world and make it calm and make it bright. There was a need in my soul, there was a longing that only He could satisfy. Verse 3 of the song “Away in a Manger” captured the prayer of my heart:

“Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray;
Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
And fit us for heaven to live with Thee there.”

Oh dear friend, the Christmas songs are right. If you need peace, if you need rest, you need Jesus Christ. We should adore Him. He is Christ the Lord. There is a need of your soul, there is a longing that only He can satisfy. I wish you a Merry Christmas. I wish you the peace and goodwill that only Christ can bring.

Posted in Christianity, Christmas, Church, Forgiven, God Loves Me, O Come All Ye Faithful, Psalm 23:4 | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Need a Job

I was at the park the other day and I saw a lady walking a beautiful, energetic puppy that must have been about 4 months old. I asked her if it was a Belgian Malinois and she replied that it was. I said something about it being a good looking dog and how smart I heard they were. She readily agreed and went on to tell me that this dog already had a job. She said, “He has an important job ahead of him. His owners knew that he was going to be a police dog before he was even born.” She also told me how she helps socialize young dogs before they go on to their formal training. Our conversation reminded me of something the Lord said to the prophet Jeremiah at the beginning of his ministry.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5

Before Jeremiah was born, the Lord had a job lined up for him. Jeremiah had a plan and a purpose to his life. The Lord goes on to promise Jeremiah that He will help Jeremiah to do the job He has given Jeremiah. Just like Jeremiah, God has a plan and a purpose for all of us in our lives, one that has been uniquely designed and ordained for us even before we were born. And like Jeremiah, the Lord will equip us and empower us to fulfill our plans if we let Him. Whatever God asks us to do, He will always help us to do. I hope that you have a blessed day and a very Merry Christmas.

Posted in Be Prepared, chaplaincy training program, Church, faith, God, God has a plan for you, Jeremiah 1:5, ministry work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Offering Water

I had a good conversation with somebody the other day in a parking lot about church. They told me they never really felt like they experienced “God’s presence” in the few times they went to church. They said the only time they felt God’s presence was one time when they were working and a neighbor brought them a big glass of cold water. They ended up sitting down together, talking about a lot of things and their neighbor prayed for them. They asked me what I thought about that. I told them that while God’s word encourages us to assemble together, “You don’t have to be in church to have church.” We talked a little more, I encouraged him to keep seeking God’s direction on some things and then we prayed. This man thanked me and said, “You know, I think we just had church.”

I would have to agree with him. I think we did have church. And as Christians, we need to “have church” more often in our churches. We need to reach out to those who visit, engage them and get to know them. We need to make them feel welcome so that they experience God’s love through us.

And we must “have church” more often outside our churches. We need to take cold glasses of water to our neighbors (who is my neighbor?– see Luke 10:25-37), we need to minister to and talk to and interact with and engage and LOVE people outside of the walls of that physical building we mistakenly refer to as “the church.” We need to offer water much more often than we do.

Posted in Christianity, Church, Experiencing God's Presence, Good Neighbor, Good Samaritan, I don't like my church, Luke 10:25 - 37, Neighbor, Walk in Love | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment