Two Powerful Words

followTwo words changed the lives of two men, and they gave birth to a spiritual revolution that changed the world. The two words were spoken by Jesus when He called out to Peter and Andrew, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men (Matthew 4:19).”

The best way to follow Jesus, is to walk in His footsteps.  To make sure you’re on the right path, you can ask yourself a few questions:

  • Am I walking in love?
  • Am I walking in the light?
  • Am I walking with wisdom?
  • Am walking or living my life in a way that is pleasing to God?

Before I was tall enough to see over the corn stalks and heads of milo that filled the fields where my dad would take me hunting, I never got lost; all I had to do was step where Dad stepped.  The same is true as you journey through life, simply walk like Jesus.

The apostle Peter said, Jesus suffered for us and left us His example so that we could follow in His steps (I Peter 2:21).

I encourage you to follow Jesus and to walk in His steps.  You can use the words of Psalm 119:133 as a prayer, and simply as God to, Direct my steps by your word!

 

Rise and Shine

sunflowerfeild.jpgOne of the many features that I love about Kansas is its population; it’s small in number compared to many states.  I also have a fond affection for the diverse landscapes of the Flint Hills and the bumper crops of sunflowers that adorn the roadsides that lace their way through the Kansas prairies.

If you’re one of the less than 3 million people who call Kansas home, you may know the sunflower was designated as the official state flower in 1903.  This long-stemmed flower with petals of golden yellow is classified as a turnsole plant, a word of French origin and one that means to “turn towards the sun.”

The sunflower, like all plants, is not self-sufficient—it depends upon the sun for essential nourishment. 

Health conscious individuals are learning what botanists have known for many years:  In proper amounts, there are some benefits associated with exposure to the sun.  There’s ample research that’s easily available, and it indicates the sun’s rays are beneficial to your health.

While the sun is important to you physically and mentally, it pales in comparison to the Son, who is vital to your spiritual well-being: “The one who believes in the Son has eternal life. The one who rejects the Son will not see life, but God’s wrath remains on him (John 3:36).”

Cultivate the habit of rising in the morning, facing the Son, and following Him throughout the day.  When you practice this routine you will develop a God-focused regimen of strength that recognizes that it’s, “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord (Zechariah 4:6).”

When you rise of a morning,  why not give the Son a chance to shine on you?

Mixed-up and Maxed-out

frazPeople come in many shapes and sizes. Some of them are disillusioned and distracted; others are inquisitive and interesting.  G.K. Chesterton was a wordsmith with a keen wit, and he said: There is no such thing as an uninteresting subject. The only thing that can exist is an uninterested person.

Some people are interested in everything life has to offer, but their interest span is about the length of a common housefly. Because they’re easily distracted by the saccharine promises of a Splenda world, they never find the time to consider the splendor of the Lord.

As a king, David could have asked for anything, but as a child he asked his Father for one: I have asked the Lord for one thing— this is what I desire! I want to live in the Lord’s house all the days of my life, so I can gaze at the splendor of the Lord and contemplate in his temple. ~Psalm 27:4

When your focus is mixed-up and your emotions are maxed-out, pause to consider the splendor of the Lord.  When you emulate David, you cultivate your thoughts, prune the weeds of your mind, and fine-tune the melody of your heart.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit.  We must not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. ~Galatians 5:22-26

More Than A Might Be Deity.

faithOne of the best-known and well-liked chapters in the Bible, is Psalm 23.  In times of heartache, people contemplate its principles and find solace in its truths.

This past week, I was offering comfort to a daughter as she said her final goodbye to her mother and father.  I called her attention to the word “is” in the first verse of the psalm:  The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want.

God is an is God; He isn’t a has been or a might be Deity. This is the difference between the pain of the world and the promise of heaven. It’s more than a wish; it’s God’s centuries old pledge: The Lord is my shepherd.

The Lord is also:

The list above compliments the shepherd-sheep relationship woven within the verses of Psalm 23. I encourage you to refer to this list throughout the week so you can deepen your relationship with the good Shepherd.

Prayer and Faith

faithroad-660x330Like most of you, I have watched the news and thought often about the people who have felt the fury of hurricane Harvey. The needs of the people of Texas have been the focus of some of my prayers.

As I’ve thought about the devastating power of Harvey and the many homes, businesses, and lives that have been left in ruin, I’ve also thought of the strong faith of a little woman: Corrie ten Boom, who faced the wrath of the Nazi holocaust, once said: Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.

Corrie’s life is an example of a person who lived by faith. The subject of faith is mentioned over 600 times in the bible, and Hebrews 11:6 speaks of its importance: Without faith it is impossible to please him, for the one who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

The Bible refers to three degrees of faith: little, great and perfect:

  • Little faith (Matthew 8:26) says, “God can do this.”
  • Great faith (Luke 7:9) says, “God will do this.”
  • Dynamic faith (Acts 6:8) says, “It’s as good as done.”

Dynamic faith considers the character of God, and says: I will trust God to:

Dynamic faith will also declare the greatness of God.  Moses said: I will proclaim the Lord’s name. Declare the greatness of our God! The Rock—His work is perfect; all His ways are entirely just. He is a faithful God, without prejudice, and He is righteous and true. ~Deuteronomy 32:3-4

As you begin a new week, I encourage you to think about your faith and this quote: A little faith will bring your soul to heaven; a great faith will bring heaven to your soul. ~Spurgeon

Sweet Words or Bitter Breath?

bluebonnets-793x526Even though I’m Kansas born and Kansas bred, I was a resident of the bluebonnet state of Texas for about ten years. Texans are proud of their state’s scenic beauty, its abundant natural resources, and the tasty Tex-Mex cuisine.

Texas is also a state that is rich in history. Long before cowboys herded their cattle across the vast expanse of West Texas, and the ancient trails became the thoroughfares of highway 84 and Interstate 20, the Kiowa Indians cherished an enclave for its water. Because the water at this oasis was much more refreshing than the bitter-tasting gypsum streams that surrounded it, the natives christened it Moabeetie—their word for sweet water.

Whenever I drive through Sweetwater, the city’s name reminds me of the words of James: Praising and cursing come out of the same mouth . . . these things should not be this way. Does a spring pour out sweet and bitter water from the same opening?

While the answer to this question is obvious, people live as though it’s dubious. In a matter of seconds, some people proclaim the sweet water of God’s goodness with one breath and profane His name with salty language with their next breath.

I encourage you to think about the words of James, and this companion verse in the Psalms” Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer (Ps 19:14).

Are the words of your mouth and the thoughts of your heart acceptable or detestable in the eyes of the Lord?

Altering Eternity

windmill

I thought about the days of old, about ancient times. ~Psalm 77:5

A simple premise of Scripture is that you should have a sense of diligence in the study of God’s Word.  A few minutes spent each day at this altar,  can alter your life for eternity.

The Psalms promise a blessing to those who delight in the law of the Lord, and meditate in it day and night; and Hebrews  assures those who diligently seek Him that they will be rewarded.

Give some thought to eternity, and consider how you can reshape your life by refocusing your thoughts on, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, and if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. ~Philippians 4:8

 

Faith On Strike

strikeHow would life, as you know it, change if churches and faith-based organizations went on strike and no longer contributed to the needs of society? The void of services would sound a mournful echo reverberating with the shock waves of desperation.

An article written by John Stonestreet, calls attention to the significant role Christianity plays in the daily life of the USA. According to Stonestreet:

One in six hospital beds in our country is located in a Catholic hospital. In at least thirty communities, the Catholic hospital is the only hospital in a 35-mile radius. This doesn’t even take into account hospitals run by other Christian bodies such as Baptists, Methodists, and especially Seventh-Day Adventists.

The next time you’re tempted to give a cold should to a warm-hearted ministry, you might want to weigh their heavy presence. The doors of these faith-based organizations swing open to bear the load of the needy to provide food for the hungry, clothing for the impoverished, and a word of encouragement for the frequently despised.

Charlottesville: The Blind Eye of Racism

charlThe year was 1963, and it was the first time I saw the ugly face of racial prejudice.  It happened while we were vacationing in the South and had spent the night at a relative’s house.

When we were about to leave the next morning, I heard my Dad’s cousin say:  Now Eddie, about 10 miles South of here you’ll go through a little town.  Everybody that lives there is a N–. If one of those worthless black N– walks out in front of your car, just run over them.  No need to stop–it’s just a N!

Even though I was just 10, I knew the hate-filled words of Dad’s cousin were reprehensible. Anyone who can run over another human being and leave him to die in the road has been seduced by his unrighteous rage. It was Gandhi who said: An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind. 

If you know anything about history, you know that far too many people have been blinded by hatred and prejudice.  A record of these misguided emotions can be seen in the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool, England.  A graphic portrayal of the devastation of generations of enslaved men, women, and children is displayed. Etched into one wall of the museum are the words of Frederick Douglass, former slave and crusader for human rights:  “No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck.”

When one segment of society brutalizes another, it is an attack on humanity as a whole.

Each of use have a circle of influence, and we need to do what we can do to right wrongs.  A clear teaching of the New Testament is the power of love when it is shared, and we are told that love covers a multitude of sin (I Peter 4:8).

The prose of Sam Levenson offers sublime suggestions on what each of us can do to change the world in which we live, and they are a fitting conclusion to this discussion.

For Attractive lips, speak words of kindness.

For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.

For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.

For beautiful hair, let a child run their fingers through it once a day.

For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.

To the people of Charlottesville: Walk with the knowledge that you are not alone. I am one among the thousands who are praying for you and for peace to prevail.