Carry the Light – Devotional for Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Carry the Light
It’s 10 o’clock at night and I’m concerned because Rosemary isn’t home. It’s not that I don’t know where she is. She’s on her way home from the hospital where she has been visiting her aunt and I know she will be home soon. I have turned the lights on under our carport and on the patio so she can see her way inside. You see the problem for me is that it’s dark out there. I don’t like thinking about her being in the dark. 
In the New Testament, the word light is identified with goodness and holiness. Darkness is associated with unrighteousness or evil. Jesus described Himself as “the Light of the world” (John 9:5). He invited the people to put their trust in Him so that they might become sons of light (John 12:36). The apostle John called Jesus “the true Light,” who gives illumination to all (John 1:9).  At salvation, we were transferred from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of light (Col. 1:12-13 niv). 
There are lots of folks out there in the dark. It’s our job to be the light. In the dark, it’s amazing how little light it takes to be noticed and to make a difference.
Well, Rosemary’s home now. Safe and in the light.
But there’s still a lot of darkness and a continuing need for light.
Be a light and be blessed.

Placing Blame – Devotional for Monday, March 14, 2011

When there is a rupture in a relationship our tendency is to focus on blame. Whose fault is it? “I hurt their feeling but what I said was true.” “He hurt my feelings.” “He started it.”
It’s all a waste of energy. The true servant doesn’t keep score. The general principle is set forth in Ephesians 4:31–32, which says:

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

That’s a beautiful summation of the whole subject of forgiveness. It describes how to live with a clear conscience and thus be free to serve.
And observe the reminder—you forgive others “as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
Chances are there is someone you need to forgive today. Why not do yourself a favor and make a move today?

The Business of Love – Devotional for Sunday, March 13, 2011

By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35
The Church is in the business of love, not in buildings or sermons or or worship teams or great Sunday productions. “But,” you say “I thought we were in the business of telling the world about Jesus.”

The world doesn’t care about Jesus. It doesn’t care He was God. It doesn’t care that He died for them. It doesn’t care that He’s coming again. It really doesn’t care when He’s coming again.

The plan is to make them care. We make them care by demonstrating something so amazing, so attractive, so life changing that they come on their own. That they ask, “What have you got? Who is this Jesus?” But loving is not what we do. We do the sermons. We build the buildings. We pray. We teach. These are certainly all good things. But we don’t use the key that Jesus gave us, love.

Why don’t we? Because it’s hard. It doesn’t come natural. Oh, we are use to loving so we will be loved; but we don’t know how to love like Jesus loved, unconditionally, expecting nothing in return. As His followers we have something no one else has, the power to love like that. Deep inside it’s something everyone wants.

Tonight at Amana, at 6 p.m. we will consider this problem of love. We will look at the reasons that we don’t do it,  that we find it so difficult. If you haven’t been coming, come anyway. This is the bottom line. this is the business of being the church. Nothing else matters.

See you then, but regardless, I love you anyway.


Do not forsake the assembling – Devotional for Saturday, March12, 2011

24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25

I had a great week, but I find myself drained. It could be spending most of it with a ten year old and the rest of it with a 2 year old and a puppy. But I don’t think that’s it. I think its because I missed church last Sunday because we were travelling. I missed the worship service and our Sunday night gathering. I also missed my Wednesday morning men’s prayer. In fact, I missed that the week before. No wonder I am drained. These verses from Hebrews are great advice which we ignore at our peril.

It’s not just that we miss the worship or the teaching. It’s more than that. As the verse says the gathering allows us to “consider” one another to stir up love and good works. Does absence really make the heart grow fonder? I think it makes us forget the negatives and recall only the positives. When we gather with saints the positives are emphasized. We see what God is doing in each other’s lives. We see that we are not the only ones struggling with our daily walk. 

But it’s even more than that. I believe when the Spirit, residing in each of us, gathers in numbers a stirring happens. The Spirit in you encourages the Spirit in me. I was interested to not that a 8.9 earthquake is not just 1 point higher than a 7.9 but multitudes of that. Comparing yesterday’s Japanese quake to that of Christchurch in New Zealand last month – which registered 6.3 – shows that the Japanese quake was 7,943 times more powerful.

It’s similar when Christians gather. Two is not twice as good as one but more like a thousand times more. Is it any wonder that if we fail to gather, we are quickly drained.

Gather with the saints tomorrow. Do it more than once if you can, morning and night. Get pumped up for the weak ahead. Trust me, you don’t want to be drained. The week ahead is likely to be full of challenges.


Indulgent God – Devotional for Friday, March 11, 2011

Kaydence came to stay with us for the weekend last night. It was good to have her back although she was a bit fussy. Admittedly we were very indulgent with her, letting her have too much sweet stuff, keeping her up too late. We will have to get her back on schedule today.
On mornings like this we can question our God. But, it occurs to me that God is often indulgent with us His children. He provided a multicolored world when black and white would have worked. He provides days like today with crystal blue skies and perfect temperatures. He gives us precious children and loving family and friends. Like our children we become spoiled and conclude that we have a right to such indulgence and become upset when “bad” or tragic things, like earthquakes happen.
Although we are the beneficiaries of our Father’s great love and indulgence, we are also subject to His justice and intentions for our lives. We are here for a purpose. He could choose to take us home when we become His children, but we remain with a great commandment and commission.
Father, thank you for the blessed reminders of your love and for the responsibilities which come with it. 

Rest – Devotional for Thursday, March 10, 2011

I write this sitting at home. The quiet is amazing even though we are babysitting a puppy. The smell of home cooked chicken pot pie wins my wife the Good Housekeeping seal of approval. I offered to help, but she said, “Just rest.”   You might think four days with a nine-year-old isn’t restful, I was surprised to find it was. We didn’t take this picture on our trip. But it well describes “rest.”

The last few days were great but it is also great to be home. And it’s at home that the real work must be done. Nick like all my family has to be loved every day. The special times will always be special; but the best memories and the strongest foundations are built on unplanned and ordinary times. Love is truest in the ordinary times and the daily grinds in putting out the garbage, walking the dog and helping with the homework.

I hope I will be wise enough to continue to invest daily as I have the last few days. I know the rewards will be as important if not as instant and dramatic and restful.

One of the problems of plowing back into the daily loving is that is where stress lives. I read a great article today entitled I Stress, Therefore I Am: 10 Ways To De-Stress & Enjoy Rest.   If your daily life of loving has you stressed and a vacation is not in your near future, you might want to give it a read. Perhaps a quote will tempt you to give it a read “As people of faith, our focus goes beyond avoiding stress. We pursue the opposite. We pursue rest.”  Give the article a read and pursue some rest.

To rest is to bless.

I hope to read that on a bumper sticker real soon. I didn’t see it once on our four day trip. Didn’t see any bears either even the ones in the zoo were hiding.


Hope – Devotional for Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Third day of our Adventure is wrapping up in Hope: Hope, Arkansas. Today we did the Mid America Science Museum and TRex Jurassic Golf. By 2:30 this afternoon we realized we had done everything on our “What We Want to Do In Hot Springs” list. Wanting to cut short our on-the-road time tomorrow, we hit the highway and got as far as Hope.

That’s a good way to end any time together. It was a great period of relationship renewal, but the hope is that it will be just the beginning of a new, improved relationship. I have learned quite a bit, including much about my grandson and some stuff about me. For example, I am getting old. Not just older, but old. I was most comfortable this week when taking a nap and I had trouble keeping up with a 10 year old.
Growing old is just a part of life. It’s amazing that God has designed us so that as we age we should stare our mortality in the face as we function less perfectly.  The train is leaving the station. Our time for accomplishing anything in His name is limited. We should learn the lesson that this is not all there is. Isn’t that where our Hope is? Our Hope is in his promises for eternity and not this short time on earth. I do hope I will have the time and energy to do all that Christ has for me to do here. I know I haven’t always put to best use the time and energy He has given me. I hope I will move from this time of renewal into a new determination to make the best of what is left.
Maybe it’s time for you to give that some consideration as well.
Tomorrow: home and that’s a blessed thing.

Goodness – Devotional for Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Day two of our Arkansas adventure was better than Day one. We went to the tops of the mountains surrounding Hot Springs and went up the observation tower. We took in a movie and went to an Aquarium. We ended the day watching DVDs in the big king size bed and falling asleep.
My principle observation from Day two is that Nick is a good kid. He is well mannered, never meets a stranger, up for anything and willing to pitch in. He unloaded the car when we arrived. He has complained about nothing and has been enthusiastic about everything. I know these traits will help in greatly in the years ahead. But I also know it will not be enough. Human goodness is, well, good.

Further, those who display human goodness are often taken advantage of by those not as good. I pray God’s protection over Nick.

But human goodness is not enough we need the holiness that only God can provide. Nick is well on his way on that path two. He feels free to talk about the things of God and shows a knowledge and understanding that are a credit to his Mom. I pray he will continue to develop his faith and augment his human goodness with all the spirit of God can provide.

I’m very proud of Nick.

Time to start Day three.

Be blessed,.

Old Nick