A Parade of Champions

kcrIf you know anything about sports, you know that the Kansas City Royals just won a hard fought and entertaining battle on the baseball fields of Kansas City and New York; and, they have been crowned World Series Champions.

With child-like enthusiasm, baseball fans from near and far are descending on Kansas City today to celebrate with the Royals.  They will savor the sweet taste of victory and delight as their team winds its way through the streets of Royals Town USA.

The language of sports has been spoken for thousands of years.  Paul used the competition of the Isthmian Games as means to share spiritual truth.  He also spoke of a parade of champions that features Jesus as the parade Marshall:  “Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us spreads and makes evident everywhere the sweet fragrance of the knowledge of Him (2 Corinthians 2:14).”

The parade route in Kansas City with be lined with thousands of spectators, and it will be a great time for adoring fans to shout out to their favorite players.  The procession that Paul spoke of is one of triumph that calls you to more than a mere spectator.  You are to be a participator and speak up for Jesus.

You are the means through which God spreads the sweet fragrance of His love and mercy.  Wave your banner, and give thanks for the victory you have in Him.

Someone Is Watching

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When I woke up this morning, I was thinking of God and how He watches over us and cares for us.  I realize there are those times of heartache, and we wonder where He might be, but life is not a Wizard of Oz experience. We can’t peak behind the curtain to see who is pulling the strings that form and fashion our lives.

If you think God is good and God is great in the wonderful moments, how great is your faith when pain causes you to doubt?  In times of trials and temptations,I find comfort in knowing that God is the Someone watching over me:

  • Chronicles 16:9:  For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him
  • Psalm 34:15:  The eyes of the Lord are on those who do what is right and good. His ears are open to their cry.
  • Proverbs 5:21:  For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, And He ponders all his paths.
  • I Peter 3:12:  For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

Three quick thoughts from the verses above:

  1. God is always watching you.
  2. God is always ready to hear your prayers.
  3. God always has enough power to give you the strength you need to manage your situation.

At times I’ve prayed:  “God I don’t understand the why and what-for of my situation, but I know that you know and I see that you see, so I’ll not fear because you hear–you are attentive to my prayers.”

Simply and Complexly Marvelous

Beauty-of-NatureIf you want to spice up a conversation, bring either religion or politics into the discussion.  There are many diverse opinions on both subjects, and the topic of creation can stir the pot among both the believers and skeptics.

Some people believe in a random Big Bang form of creation, others espouse a view known as intelligent design, and then there are those who embrace the Genesis account of creation.

I find it hard to look at the intricate design of the world and believe it just happened by chance.  In Psalm 9, David writes:  “I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works.  I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.

When was the last time you paused and reflected on the “marvelous works” of God?  What would a flower be without its fragrance?  How dark would the night skies be without the light of the moon and stars?  How different would birds be if they were drab in color and whistled and sang out of tune?

The sunrise, the sunset, and the rainbow are the canvas on which the Master Artist paints in vivid colors, and the day would be much different if it began and ended in a colorless brown instead of  fire-red hues.  Speaking of fire, what would fire be without its warmth on a cold night or water without its refreshing coolness?

How about food?  What would chili be like if there was no spice or a breakfast roll without cinnamon?  And, it’s almost too painful to consider a world without ice cream!

How mundane would life be without this complicated, yet marvelous thing we call love?  Isn’t love the WOW factor in everything that God created?

When you read the book of Genesis, you see God at work.  After He had spoken the physical world into existence, God formed Adam out of the dust of the earth and breathed into him the breath of life.  Next in line was the creation of the animal kingdom, but God wasn’t finished until He created woman.

Adam thought he had seen it all, but then he saw Eve.  To Adam she saw the marvelous WOW-inducing work of God

Take sometime this week, to marvel at the works of God, and the way He has blessed you.

The Sinister and the Saint

eyeI’m not sure if I should label it progression or regression, but I have gone from wearing no glasses, to bi-focals, and for several years now I have moved into the tri-focal stage.

Each step in this vision process involved a trip to the eye doctor and a prescription for new glasses.  The last time I got a new prescription for eyeglasses, I noticed the abbreviations OS and OD. The OS is for the left eye, and it is a Latin abbreviation that means “oculus sinister.”   The right eye is OD and is the Latin “oculus dextrus.”

The fact that I have a sinister left eye, made me curious, and I looked at the etymology of oculus sinister and dextrus:

  • The Latin meaning of sinister speaks of that which is “contrary, false; unfavorable; to the left.”
  • Dextrus has the meaning of being “right or ready.”

In these two words, we see the struggle that each of us face.  It is the conflict between evil and good or flesh and spirit.  In Romans 8:5, Paul said:  “For those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit.”

Since your “outlook” is determined by the flesh or the spirit, you may want to take an “in-look” at what the Bible says about desire:

  • James 1:14-15: Everyone is tempted by his own desires as they lure him away and trap him.  Then desire becomes pregnant and gives birth to sin. When sin grows up, it gives birth to death.
  • Proverbs 27:20: Hell and Destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.
  • 2 Peter 2:14: Having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, they entice unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices.

Which one of your eyes guides you?  Do you see the world through the sinister side or the saintly side?   I encourage you to take a look at your life, and consider using the words of Psalm 119:36-38 as your prayer for today:

“Turn my heart toward Your Law, so I will not earn money in a wrong way.  Turn my eyes away from things that have no worth, and give me new life because of Your ways.  Keep Your promise to Your servant, the promise You made to those who fear and worship You.”

Versions and Perversions

images (4)After listening to some of the comments from the presidential hopefuls in the recent Iowa Straw Poll, I think a name change is in order.  Because the brief speeches revealed some weaknesses, it might be more accurate to call it the Flaw Poll.

Sometimes political speeches disintegrate into a form of mindless banter, and the candidate’s version of the facts is a perversion of what is true.  Winston Churchill said: “The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”

Truth is not created. It is discovered.  Whenever you find someone trying to fabricate the truth, you have discovered a lie.

The difference between the truth and a lie is as simple as the letters “d” and “i.”  When you add them to version, you get a di-version from the truth.  You allow your emotions, wants and desires to turn you aside from the correct course or you yield to the biased opinion and false argument of another you are misdirected.

This was the problem that Paul was addressing when he wrote to the Christians at Galatia (1:6-9):

I can’t believe your fickleness—how easily you have turned traitor to him who called you by the grace of Christ by embracing a variant message! It is not a minor variation, you know; it is completely other, an alien message, a no-message, a lie about God. Those who are provoking this agitation among you are turning the Message of Christ on its head. Let me be blunt: If one of us—even if an angel from heaven!—were to preach something other than what we preached originally, let him be cursed. I said it once; I’ll say it again: If anyone, regardless of reputation or credentials, preaches something other than what you received originally, let him be cursed.  ~The Message

There is a close connection to the degeneration of society and the proliferation of lies.  This is one reason Paul warned the Galatians: Any diversion from the principles of God is a perversion of the truth.

Before you yield to the new and ideal, you might want to compare it to the tried and true: “We are not meant to remain as children at the mercy of every chance wind of teaching and the jockeying of men who are expert in the craft presentation of lies. But we are meant to hold firmly to the truth in love, and to grow up in every way into Christ (Ephesians 4:14 Phillips).”

A Walk On The Water

images (3)There’s a passage of Scripture in the book of Isaiah that speaks about God’s wonderful love, care, and protection of His people.  In Isaiah 43:1-3, it says:

“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end—because I am God, your personal God, the Holy of Israel, your Savior.”

When I read this Scripture from Isaiah, a couple of thoughts came to my mind, and I want to share them with you:

  • You can have confidence in God, this is why he said: “Don’t be afraid.”
  • You can have a relationship with God because He has redeemed you; He knows your name; and, He claims you as His own.
  • When times are tough, and you feel like you’re in over your head, remember that Jesus knows something about water.  He walked on top of it, so He can certainly walk you through it.
  • When you encounter the raging rivers of life, Jesus can see around the bend. He will chart the best course, and He still knows where the still waters are (Psalm 23:2).  “You

To claim this verse as your own, speak it to yourself:  “You are my personal God.  I know you have redeemed me and know my name. I know you claim me as your own, and I give thanks to you for You are the Holy One and my Savior.”

Are You Fluent or Tongue-Tied?

640x360When Jesus was crucified, there was a message written in three languages that stated:  This is Jesus the King of the Jews. You may know these three languages were Hebrew, Greek, and Latin; but, do you know how many languages exist in the world today?

There are some 6,500 spoken languages in the world today, and the language most frequently spoken is Mandarin Chinese. Due to China’s large population it is estimated that 1,213,000,000 people speak this language.

There is a country much smaller than China and it lies just south of the equator, and 99 miles north of Australia. It is Papua New Guinea, and it is smaller than China in both land mass and population.  What’s interesting, however, is that with a population of just over 7 million, this country is incredibly diverse when it comes to languages.  The Linguistic Society reports that Papua New Guinea has 832 indigenous languages.

Even though there are thousands of languages spoken in the world today, there will be a day when everyone speaks the same thing.  There is coming a day when people will hear the name of Jesus and bow their knees to Him, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10-11).

There’s no need to wait for some future day to confess the goodness of God.  In whatever language you choose, you can follow the example of the Psalms, and do it now:

  • Psalm 7:17: I will praise the Lord according to His righteousness, and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.
  • Psalm 9:2: I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.
  • Psalm 30:4 Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.

A Summons To Appear

SummonsToAppear (1)There’s an interesting piece of conversation in I Chronicles 28 between God and Solomon that occurs after the rule and reign of King David.  At the start of Solomon’s reign, God set some standards to help guide the new king: “The Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.”

TV Time

o-CHILDREN-TELEVISION-facebookAs I was watching the nightly news, I became curious about TV statistics.  Based on research by statistics brain, I found that:

  • 99% of households in the USA possess at least one television.
  • The average child will spend 1,480 minutes a week watching television.
  • By the time a child is 18, he/she will have seen 150,000 violent acts and viewed 16,000 thirty second commercials.

With these statistics in mind, answer the following questions:

  • Who or what is having the greatest influence in the life of your child or grandchild?
  • If 1,480 minutes are being spent in front of the TV, how much time is being spent reading the Bible, praying, or engaging people in a positive way?

There are two warnings from Paul that are worthy of mention:

  • He said you should not be like a child who is “tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every false wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming (Ephesians 4:14).”
  • Make sure that “no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ (Colossians 2:8-9).”

The 1,480 minutes of TV wouldn’t be so bad if it was healthy and wholesome; however, I think much of it is detrimental to a person’s well-being.

 

Look at the language Paul used. How much of the 1,480 minutes is captivativing philosophy that can be describe as the “trickery of men, craftiness, deceitful scheming?”

From Yesterday to Tomorrow

kenyan_aaMaybe it’s the Kenyan AA, the Costa Rica by the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf Company, the Three Continent, or perhaps it’s Tully’s Hawaiian Blend, that does it to me.  I’m not sure if it is the coffee or something, but there are some mornings that I become acutely curious about the mental path my mind travels.

When I find myself wondering about the wandering of my mind, and I question the wisdom of the words that travel from my neural pathways to the tip of my keyboard, I may need to think about my drink:  Does the blend of coffee influence my thoughts?

My first cup of coffee this morning was Kenyan AA.  As I was sipping it, I thought about the Beatles and the resurrection.  Did this best blend of coffee from Kenya ingest a strange correlation between England’s Fab Four and Jesus?

Yesterday is one of the better-known songs by the Beatles, and a line in the song says:  “Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far way . . .” As I thought of those lyrics, I thought they might have been the exact words of Jesus’ disciples immediately following His arrest.

I took another sip and “yesterday” was my thought in a little different context.  I wondered about a couple of things:

  • How did the disciples think about “yesterday” the day after the resurrection of Jesus?
  • I wondered about Paul McCartney’s words: “I’m not half the man I used to be . . .”

Because of the resurrection I’m not half the man I used to be: I’m a whole person due to the fullness of Jesus.  This relationship is clarified by Paul in his letter to the Ephesians:

My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

Glory to God in the church!

Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!

Glory down all the generations!

Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!

I’m not sure how your “yesterday” was, but I do know the hope you can have tomorrow through the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love.