STAR WARS – My Downfall?

At the end of a very full day, it is a blessing to sit with You, Father. Thank You for Your presence in our worship services and in our travels to see family. Bless those who heard Your word proclaimed. Bless my family as well. I know that I am blessed because of them all!

Matthew 15:10-11 (<<click the green)

I have a very conservative heritage. I am not ashamed of one stitch of it but many, especially those outside that particular mindset, would be astonished at some of the many things that were considered taboo when I was younger.

One thing that comes to mind was that we did not go to movies. As a freshman in high school, I was in the band. Prior to school beginning, we had band camp and unbeknownst to me one of the big activities for the band was the “treat” of going to see a brand new movie out in theaters at the time. (For those curious minds that want to know, it was the original Star Wars!) Well, I had never been in a theater and told the band director that I wasn’t allowed to go – it was against my religion. He tried, unsuccessfully, to reach my parents and being the only student with an issue, I had no choice but to go with everyone else.

I thought for sure that lightning would strike me the moment I crossed the threshold of the theater but, of course, that didn’t happen. I really enjoyed the movie but to say the least, it was a harrowing experience for an impressionable 14-year-old.

At that point in my life, it wasn’t necessarily that things that were outside of me that were defiling me, as You put it, Lord. Jedi, stormtroopers, and Wookiees did not lead me down the path of eternal destruction but the things that played out in my mind and heart were the much bigger culprits.

Lord Jesus, we must be very careful. Many things in and of themselves are not evil but they can lead to an impaired relationship with You. Inevitably, if we let them, things coming into our hearts and minds from the outside can coagulate into a lethal combination that can ooze out from the inside. May I be wary of the things that I let in – may I remain true to You on all sides. Amen.

May 20th, 2018, Thurs, 10:07 pm

Pedantic

As I look out the bay window this morning it is a gorgeous day, Father! Thank You for Your bountiful gift of beauty and life!

Matthew 15:1-9 (<<click the green)

In reading through a commentary on this particular passage, I saw the wonder pedantic used in reference to the Pharisees. I knew generally what it meant but I looked it up and dictionary.com defines it as overly concerned with minute details or formalisms, especially in teaching.

Boy does that aptly describe them!

Lord, here you are teaching thousands of people – that’s more than the Pharisees were doing! And miraculously you had even fed, from 5 loaves and 2 fishes, 5,000 men plus women and children! And the Pharisees couldn’t have even begun to do that! Yet after all that has been said and done on Your part, what do they do? Are they pouring forth Your praises? Are they bowing at Your feet? Are they seeking to learn from Your teachings? No…they are pedantic.

In my mind’s eye, I can see them in their flowing robes with their tassels swaying to and fro as they strolled in, noses in the air, disdaining the common folk around them and with great pomp and bravado asking,

“Why do your disciples disobey our age-old tradition? For they ignore our tradition of ceremonial hand washing before they eat.”

(Cue needle scratching across record audio clip) What!?!?! Here is the Messiah, the Son of God himself, touching people, changing lives, feeing multitudes from almost nothing and…and You have the audacity to whiningly complain about a tradition of hand washing? It’s not even a part of Mosaic law – it’s just something a bunch of over-studious scholars decided was important.

You don’t often see Jesus angry but when you do it is totally legitimate! He didn’t say it like I wrote it above but He sure didn’t hold back!

“And why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God? … you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote,
      ‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship is a farce,
for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’”

Lord Jesus, help us! This is not just a malady from Your time amongst us. How often do we get nit-picky (pedantic) about so many unimportant things while we sacrifice people with real issues and needs? Traditions are fine but not at the expense of what is really important. Fill us with Your love and wisdom, Lord. Amen.

May 17th, 2018, Thurs, 9:34 am

More Than a Genie

Thank You, Father, for the opportunity to enjoy a time of fellowship with fellow pastors this morning. The message by guest speaker, Alistair Begg, was very uplifting, as well. Carry me through this day. Amen.

Matthew 14:34-36 (<<click the green)

I don’t remember doing it often but as a child, I probably hit up my mom for something I wanted with a lot of flattery on my part thinking I would more readily get my way. At those times I was thinking way more of what I could get from her than what I could give to her.

Lord, how often do we treat You that way? How many of us only come to You when we need something. We have an ache. We need a job. We’ve lost a loved one. “Oh, Jesus I need something, meet my need, please.

Needs are totally legitimate and You want us to bring everything to You. We tend to carry way too much as it is but… And I pause because we need to think about this. Lord Jesus, You offer us so much more than fixing our problems. You sacrificially gave of Yourself so that we might be with You for eternity. You love us…You cherish us.

But do we come to You just to have our needs met? Do we come only to prolong and make our lives comfortable but forget that it’s all about relationship? You are more than a genie in a bottle. You are our Lord and Savior. And You offer us so much more than the piddly stuff for which we ask.

“Only when we understand the real Jesus Christ can we appreciate how he can truly change our life.” Life Application Bible NLT

May I ask, Lord, but may our relationship be of utmost importance. Amen.

May 16th, 2018, Wed, 11:03 am

Faltering Faith

This day is not at its completion but, Father, I would ask for Your hand upon my shoulder. Guide and direct my words and my actions. Amen.

Matthew 14:24-33 (<<click the green)

If you don’t already have one, a study Bible can be a great asset in understanding and applying Scripture to your life here and now. There is a lot to choose from out there but I will tell you that the study Bible I use as the main reference point for my writing is the Life Application Study Bible New Living Translation. I am pretty sure it is available in other translations, as well.

I say all that to say that I really appreciate my study Bible in that on numerous occasions it has pointed out a particular application that really hits home with me and this passage is a case in point.

Here is a quote in reference to verses 30 and 31,

“Although we start out with good intentions, sometimes our faith falters. This doesn’t necessarily mean we have failed. When Peter’s faith faltered, he reached out to Christ, the only one who could help. He was afraid, but he still looked to Christ. When you are apprehensive about the troubles around you and doubt Christ’s presence or ability to help, remember that he is always with you and is the only one who can really help.”

Lord Jesus, You know absolutely everything about me. You know everything I do and think and You also know why I do everything I do and think. When our faith falters we, like Adam and Eve in the Garden, want to run and hide. But You want us to look to You. We can’t do a thing to fix our problem. We find ourselves in the exact same predicament as Peter – we can’t help ourselves and we start to sink. Only You can really help. Lord, may I look to You and nowhere else. Amen.

May 15th, 2018, Tues, 4:36 pm

Mowing the Straight and Narrow

Thank You, Father, for the gifts You have given me. May I never use them without crediting You for the blessings of those gifts. Use them as You will and multiply the impact they have for Your glory. Amen.

Matthew 14:24-33 (<<click the green)

In my lifetime I have mowed many a yard. I pushed lots of mowers; I’ve ridden a few mowers and can do pretty well with a zero-turn. But no matter what kind of mower I use there is one guideline which my dad taught me that runs true. If you want your mowing lines to be straight the best way to do it is to have a focal point in the distance. Focusing on that point and not constantly on your immediate surroundings will keep your line straight.

The same is true in today’s passage. Peter wasn’t testing You, Lord, but literally stepped out of that boat on faith, even in the midst of the storm. He did so, trusting You. All was well and good until he took his eyes off of You and started noticing his immediate surroundings. And that’s when he began to sink.

Lord, we must keep our eyes on You – through the easy and the hard times. If we are to “mow” the straight and narrow we must focus on You. You must be our focal point. If that is not the case we can easily get out of line. Keeping our eyes on You in difficult times helps us to keep our head above water when we begin to feel that we are going under. You clearly say to us, as well, “Don’t be afraid… Take courage. I am here!”

Lord Jesus, regardless of what today may bring may I make sure that I am “fixing [my] eyes on [You], the author and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:2). Amen.

May 14th, 2018m Mon, 6:18 am

Doing it right for once.