Blueprints and Road Maps

kansasBlueprints and road maps are useful and necessary tools to get you from where you are to where you’re going.  I have the same opinion of the book of James.  It’s a book of divine directives, that will help you negotiate the challenging hairpin curves of life.

There are 5 points of interest that are the keys to everything that James says in this book:  “Submit to God. But resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, double-minded people! Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you (James 4:7-10).”

These words are good advice and principles to be practiced.  To apply them to your life, focus on the 5 points of interest:

  • Insist: Submit to God
  • Resist the Devil
  • Persist: Draw near to God
  • Desist: Cleanse your hands and purify your heart
  • Consist: A life of humility—humble yourself

These 5 points can be summarized by one statement: The life that’s yielded to God is a life that’s shielded by God.

Dude, I Got A Dud

crowdfundingA parody by Stephen Colbert reminded me of a project that projected great benefits to potential investors.  On a recent show, Colbert mocked the Vessyl smart cup. The designers of the cup claim that it can distinguish between a cappuccino or a black coffee with the added benefit of tracking your caloric intake and how much sugar and caffeine you are ingesting.

This full-of-potential-cup has hit the market half empty of promise:  It only tracks how much water you are drinking and sells for $99.

This hoopla and hype reminds me of a crowd funding project that cost me somewhere around a $100 to get 3 or 4 tracking devices.   It sounded like an inexpensive way to track an expensive or important item.  After syncing the device to a smartphone, you attach it to whatever you want to track and then monitor the location on the screen of your phone.

Since Hank, my dog, is a prized companion, I attached a chip to his collar and said, “Alright,” which Hank interprets as, and “I’m free to run.”   I watched the blip on my phone for about 10 seconds and then it disappeared.

After I whistled Hank in, I contacted the company.  I was informed that the device was for finding things like a lost set of car keys in your house, and could only track items within a short distance—10 to 15 feet not a block or two.

Projects like these offer the hope of riches, wealth, and an easier way of life, but they can be empty promises.  When I read the story about the Vessyl, it reminded me of the wise words of Solomon:

  • A greedy person is in a hurry to get rich, but he is ignorant of the loss that is about to overtake him. Proverbs 28:22
  • One man pretends to be rich but has nothing; another pretends to be poor but has great wealth. Proverbs 13:7

The safest investment you will ever make is not going to found on Wall Street or in in a crowd funding project, it will always be Jesus:

“I assure you,” Jesus said, “there is no one who has left house, brothers or sisters, mother or father, children, or fields because of Me and the gospel,  who will not receive 100 times more, now at this time—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and eternal life in the age to come.  But many who are first will be last, and the last first (Mark 10:29-31).”

Get Buff and Boogie

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

Tom Tom has started selling a fitness watch, so you can get buff and boogie at the same time.  When I read the article describing this newer addition to the fitness craze, I wondered if the Apostle Paul would have worn one.

Which one of the following songs do you think Paul would have had on his playlist?

  • Onward Christian Soldiers
  • Victory in Jesus
  • On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand
  • I Have Decided to Follow Jesus

Paul didn’t have all the gadgets that are available today, but he did know the importance of training and being fit:

“We all know that when there’s a race, all the runners bolt for the finish line, but only one will take the prize. When you run, run for the prize!  Athletes in training are very strict with themselves, exercising self-control over desires, and for what? For a wreath that soon withers or is crushed or simply forgotten. That is not our race. We run for the crown that we will wear for eternity. So I don’t run aimlessly. I don’t let my eyes drift off the finish line.When I box, I don’t throw punches in the air. I discipline my body and make it my slave so that after all this, after I have brought the gospel to others, I will still be qualified to win the prize.”  ~I Cor.9:24-27

Like Paul, we need to live a disciplined life and “strive toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14).”

Follow the Leader

follow-the-leaderWhen they first made their appearance, they were difficult to use, hard to read, and thought to be a technological gadget with reliability that was suspect.  The handheld GPS units that were produced and sold by the Magellan Corporation in 1989 pale in comparison to the refined and powerful technology of today.

Because people want to be led and informed by GPS, the automobile industry is producing cars with navigation modules as part of the basic package.  Some drivers have become so dependent on this technology they can’t read a map, and they don’t know East from West.

I know from personal experience, that these units are not failsafe. While driving through Memphis one day, my unit instructed me to “turn left.” After I obeyed,  I quickly realized that I was heading South on a commuter line and the lights of a Northbound train were bearing down on me.

As I made another quick left turn, I was reminded of Proverbs 14:12: “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”

The next time you find yourself lost or perplexed. Look to God for guidance:

  • The Good Shepherd will lead you to the green pastures and down by the still waters. (Psalm 23).
  • God will lead you to a life of righteousness: Psalm 5:8: Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies; Make Your way straight before my face.
  • When you follow God, you will be led down the path of truth: Psalm 25:5: Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day.
  • There is no need to stumble through the darkness, because God will light the path ahead of you: Psalm 43:3: Send out Your light and Your truth! Let them lead me

As you take your first steps today, use Proverbs 3:5-6 as a prayer:  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

Is Left Ever Right?

IMG_0530 (1)Have you noticed that some cities seem to be in a perpetual state of ruin?  You know the cities I’m thinking of, the ones that seem to take pride in roads lined with bright orange traffic cones:  As far as the eye can see, they dot the highway and try to guide you safely down the road.

A day or two ago, I was driving through an intersection laced with orange cones and concrete barriers, and I got a little nervous. It looked like I was being directed into the oncoming lane of traffic.  For a moment I thought the engineer had been imported from England and he had brought his, drive-on-the-left-side-of-the-road, mentality with him.

This experience reminds me of the message on a sign:  “One Way or Another.”  The sober truth is that  when you die, you will go one way or another.

The good news is that there is a road map to lead you through the detours and confusing  intersections of life.  Jesus said that He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).  If you will make the right turn and follow Jesus, you will never get left by Him.

Siri: Where Am I?

pigeon-statue-11If you were a statue, you would think of a pigeon about like the kennel boy does a dog.  Not me—I raised pigeons when I was just a kid, and the unique ability of these birds to find their way home has always amazed me.

Evidently Cornell and the University of Pittsburgh share my appreciation for this innate ability of pigeons.  The research from both universities has concluded that pigeons use multiple facilities to help them determine the correct sense of direction.  While the sun is their primary orientation, they also use the earth’s magnetic field as a guide to get them safely home.

After an all-to-common and failed attempt to get directions from Siri (iPhone), I’ve decided I might have better luck finding my way home if I could somehow tether my truck to a pigeon.  Even though I speak clearly, Siri only understands about 10% of what I say when I ask for directions.

As I thought about the proficiency of the pigeons and the sad service of Siri, I was reminded of the words of Jesus:  My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me.

Whenever we are lost or feel alone, we can listen for the Shepherd’s voice and have the comfort of knowing we are never lost when we are with Him.

GPS: God’s Promises are Sure

The end of 2014 was accompanied with the sad news of the crash of AirAsia Flight QZ8501 and the tragic loss of the 162 passengers on board.  Earlier in the year, Malaysia Airlines reported the disappearance of MH370 when it veered off course and vanished en route to Beijing.

Without any arm twisting, First Air, a Canadian airliner, has taken steps to calm the fears of their passengers.  Because the airline flies across some of the most barren and remote areas on the continent, First Air has beefed-up their technology.

Realizing their flight patterns often place their jets beyond the reach of conventional radar, they have added about 6 pounds to the weight of their aircraft.  This additional weight comes in the form of a tracking system about the size of a hotel safe that efficiently acquires the whereabouts of the plane in almost any situation.

This new technology lies dormant until activated by a sudden change from normal operating procedures.  The tracking system is activated if the flight encounters a sudden loss of altitude, an engine malfunction or if there is a dramatic change in the pitch of the place causing it to veer sharply off path.

When any of this occurs, the FLYHTStream™ system begins transmitting data to the ground, via satellite. Along with performance data, the system provides the information such as speed, altitude and coordinates that are used by search-and-rescue teams.

The tracking prowess of the FLYHTStream™ reminds me that we are never lost to our Sovereign God.  We may not always understand the mind of God, but we are never far from His thoughts.  Psalm 139 is proof of God’s providence and the  power of His promises:  “You carefully observe me when I travel or when I lie down to rest; you are aware of everything I do (Ps.139:3).”

Even in times of uncertainty, God’s promises are sure.

The Maze of Monday Madness

mazeOnce the clock ticked past midnight last night, Sunday ended and Monday began. You had no say in the matter. Try as you might, there is no way that you can change the 24 hours of Sunday into 36 hours; and, you can’t skip Monday and jump ahead 24 hours into Tuesday.

You can, however, choose what kind of a Monday this will be. Will it be a Monday of madness or gladness?

To start the day off on the right foot, take a look at Psalms 18:24: “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Rejoice and be glad because God has blessed you with the gift of life and another day full opportunities.

To make the most of today, reflect on the words Paul shared with Timothy:

• Give thanks to Christ Jesus our Lord who gives you strength
• Praise Him because when you acted in ignorance and unbelief, He still blessed you with His mercy
• Think of the abundant resources of God: “the grace of our Lord overflowed, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus”
• Remember why Jesus came into this world: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”
• Every time you stand up today, focus your thoughts on Paul’s benediction: “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever.”

If you’ve been lost in the Maze of Monday Madness, the formula above is the compass that will get you headed in the right direction.

Where Am I?

A couple of weeks ago I damaged my cell phone and had to replace it.  I liked the iPhone I had, so I replaced it with a new iPhone with newer features.

One of the features I like is called Siri.  I simply push a button and ask a question:  “Where am I?”  Siri will speak to me; answer my question; and, give me my location. 

GPS technology makes it much easier to find your location and to locate what you are trying to find.  I have been a fan of the Global Positioning Satellite technology since it hit the market place.

When I think of GPS technology, I also think about God and the marvellous way that He knows exactly where we are and what we need. Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me,  your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.  For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.  How precious to me are your thoughts, God!  How vast is the sum of them (Psalm 139)!

I hope this is a thought that will keep you thinking.