Monday, March 27, 2006

2 Corinthians 12:9

Okay, take two.

I say that, because I have just come through and deleted everything I had input. I am now starting with a clean slate, so to speak. And I want to ask you something-Have you ever missed the forest for all the trees in the way?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I’m panicking. I’m terrified. I don’t have a wonderful awe-inspiring thought for you guys and gals for the week. I don’t have anything magnificently spiritual to tell you.

I had some stuff written, but it wasn’t jelling. It didn’t FEEL right. So, it’s coming down to the wire. My deadline is approaching. I know that if I don’t get this out on Monday, it’ll be REALLY hard for the rest of the week to try and do it.

“Uh, Bo?”

Hold on God, I can’t think. I’m trying to think of a great devotional to send out this week with the Bible verse, to point everyone to You.

“I understand that. Look, about that...”

God, could you please just hold on? I’m really in a panic here, because the original thing I had written just didn’t seem right….

“I know. I brought that feeling out in you. It’s not what I wanted you to say.”

Well, duh! I know that much, God. I’m just trying to find that proper spot and see if I can pull one out…

“Uh, Bo? Do you remember what the verse is?”

Sure I do, God. You gave it to me. And then all this stuff happened this week, and I didn’t really like the thought I had wrapped the verse in and, well, You’re God, You know all that!

“Yes, that’s what I’m trying to tell you. It goes along with this week’s verse.”

God, obviously You don’t see what these people are expecting from me week in and week out. I don’t have time for this.

“Hey Bo?”

(Sighs) Yes God?

“What’s the verse for this week that I gave you again?”

Well God, it’s 2 Corinthians 12:9- “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

“Okay?”

Okay what, God? I need something to tell everyone about You in this verse. About how when we give something up and do it for You, it’s not always about being on top. Sometimes, we just have to allow You to use us and not get in the way.

Sometimes, You use obvious incidents and things in our lives to help others and give them hope. And sometimes, the things that just happen are better teaching tools than anything else………….

Aw, man.

“What, Bo?”

You mean You orchestrated all this week in me, just so I could have this to say to everyone? This is what you wanted to tell them?

“Hey, Bo?”

Yes God?

“I love you.”

I know You do, God. Thanks for being there for me in the big things and the small things as well.

“You’re welcome. Thanks for letting me use you to touch someone else.”

You’re welcome.




Be blessed in the Lord,

Bo J.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

James 5:16

Some of you may or may not know, but my stepmother passed away one week ago on Sunday. I’ll be honest (remember, this is group-what’s said here, stays here), I wasn’t real close with her. As a matter of fact, I hadn’t seen her in a long time (years).

I took off last week, to both be respectful of my family and hers. It was trying to me, in that I wasn’t really feeling all the grief others were feeling. It kind of struck me as odd. You see, when she was alive, most of what I heard about her was negative, and I allowed it to cloud my judgment (more on that later). But now that she was dying, I had to go and see her, and everyone talked about what a good woman she was, and that kind of stuff that only seems to come about when someone if facing death.

I got a call on Saturday, March 11th, from a relative telling me that I needed to go see my stepmother that day. It was something I couldn’t ignore. If I made excuses or said how I truly felt about it, it would make my life with my side of my family a whole lot harder than needed. So I left my wife and children at home, and drove out to East Knoxville to go to see my stepmother.

I’ll be honest some more, I didn’t want to go. I was angry and upset that I was close to 40 years old, with a wife and 4 daughters, and I was being treated like a seven year old child in this situation. But sometimes, we do things we don’t like, not because we have to, but because it’s the best thing to do in a situation. It’s subjugating you, for someone else.

I got there, and figured out that I would just make my appearance, spend some time with the extended family, and leave, so I could make it to church that evening. Then, I walked in on her.

I can’t describe in enough detail what I saw; she was simply barely there in the bed. She was skin and bones, and I mean just that, skin and bones. She had cancer from smoking and probably other issues with her drinking. She was THIN. One of my cousins was lying on the bed with her, just talking so she could hear a familiar voice, but she didn’t respond at all. As a matter of fact, she barely responded the entire time I was there.

I knelt down at her bedside, and noticed that there was a Bible in the bed next to her. I knew she wasn’t cognizant enough to read it, and I hoped it wasn’t there just for show. My cousin left me with her, and at that moment, I sent a text message to my wife. I told her simply, “Its ok. Im where God wants me”

I had a watershed moment at that time. God spoke to me, and He asked me, “I wonder if she is saved?” I think that hurt me more than anything else in my life. God knew whether or not she was saved, but I didn’t know. And at that point, I apologized to her. She didn’t respond, and it didn’t matter. The words poured out, and I asked her to forgive me, because I didn’t know. I asked God to forgive me, because I didn’t know.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean that she didn’t hear the gospel because I didn’t pray for her. I mean that I never even prayed to make sure that someone introduced her TO Jesus Christ. I just assumed that someone would do it. I had more important people on my list.

So here I am, telling you this. And someone may look down on me, because I am brutally honest in these e-mails, as honest as I can be for you. Why? Because too many times in this Christian walk, we don’t disciple people correctly. Everyone has good days AND bad days. Everyone falls sometimes. The knack is in knowing that you can get up, and Jesus is not shaking His head at you, saying “Tsk! Tsk! Why are you so hardheaded? Why don’t you learn?” He loves us. He picks us up, dusts us off, wipes away our tears, and continues down that dusty road with us.

Everyone needs to know that they are not alone when they fall. They are not in some vacuum or under a microscope all alone with their sin glaring for the world to see. We all need to know that we CAN and WILL do better.



James 5:16- “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”



I need your help in this. I am NOT an evangelist. I am more of a discipler than anything. But I can pray and intercede for my stepbrother and stepsister. I am praying that they will receive salvation. I am praying and interceding for the person that God is already sending to minister to them and show them the path to glory. I am interceding for the person who is already traveling down the dirt road looking for them, because God has placed a burning desire in their heart for them.

Look around you. Who are you NOT praying for to receive salvation because your list is full? Who are you sure someone is praying for, because you just don’t want to pray for them?

I don’t want ANYONE reading this, to go through what I did. I don’t want you to be faced with looking Jesus in the eye, and knowing that you had an opportunity to do something, and you didn’t. I can’t say that I will succeed in this every time I try, but the fact of the matter is that I will at least try. How about you?



CONFESS.



PRAY.



BELIEVE.



You have an enemy out there, who doesn’t want you to know WHO you are, and to WHOM you belong. Get in the fight. Now, before it’s too late.





Be blessed in the Lord,





Bo J.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Isaiah 41:10

Have you ever been scared? I don’t mean like the initial rush that comes from a close call in the grocery store parking lot or during a movie-I mean really scared. I mean the kind of fear that gnaws at you and wakes you up in the middle of the night. It’s a palpable kind that sits on your chest and pokes you in the middle of your forehead to let you know that it hasn’t gone away.

It’s hard to deal with, isn’t it? It’s hard to imagine how you are going to make it. And the maddening part is that you KNOW that you KNOW that you KNOW that God has not left you hanging high and dry. You know He’s still there, still watching over you.

We’re human, though. No matter what has happened in our life and all the changes and everything we have undergone, underneath it all we are still human. We can’t help the feelings. We can’t help the fear we feel when the situation seems to be all around us, crushing us and those we love.

This is kind of a bummer, huh? “Where is the silver lining, Bo? Come on, gimme something uplifting!” There is a taboo in some circles against being empathetic and telling someone, “It’s okay, I know you are scared.” We want to dress them down and say, “Stand up! Be an adult! Things like this happen! Just buckle down little soldier and everything will be alright!”

Does that help? Most certainly NOT! We have been talking recently and one phrase always seems to come back to my mind. We want mercy for ourselves, and justice for everyone else. I say that because we want understanding for our problems, but when it’s someone else’s turn, we are too busy or too this or that to care.

But here’s a novel idea, let’s go back to the Word of God that we are hiding in our hearts. What is fear? It is an emotion. It’s a thought that God is not going to do what He said He would do for us. Fear is a huge demon standing over us, making us look like grasshoppers in the land. But you know what, that demon isn’t as big as it looks. It’s a HUGE balloon that has been blown up and is menacingly looming over your head, casting a shadow over all that you try and do for God.

Isaiah 41:10- “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

Hmmm? What’s that God says? “FEAR NOT…”

Well, God you don’t understand, I know that you said you’d take care of this but….FEAR NOT!

But God, it’s just that this (insert your fear here) is worse than anything I have ever gone through and…..FEAR NOT!

God, I know I should trust in You, but…FEAR NOT!

But God, do you see how big this thing is? Do you see how large it is? I look like a little ant compared to…FEAR NOT!

So you turn to God, and you take your eyes off the situations going on around you. And He breathes on you, and hugs you and stops your shaking.

Then He turns you back around, and says, “Look at your fear now.” And you look at the huge hulking demon that was licking its chops and grinning at you. And God presses something into your hand.

It’s a pin.

Hmmm…that demon’s grin isn’t quite so menacing now, is it? And why is it suddenly backing away from you?

Be blessed in the Lord,

Bo J.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Leviticus 19:11

I love to work puzzles. Specifically, I like to work word/number puzzles. My favorites are in the newspaper. They are:

(1)The Jumble-you are given four words in which the letters are scrambled and you have to figure out each word. Certain letters in each word are used to figure out the answer to a picture puzzle that is included.

(2) Cryptograms- you are given a quote or anything, only each letter in the puzzle stands for another letter. You are usually given a clue for one letter, and it is usually the only letter in that puzzle.

(3) The ever popular crossword puzzle.

(4) Sudoku- I love these puzzles. You are trying to complete a nine by nine grid with all the numbers in each row and column consisting of the numbers 1-9. And each grid has to have the numbers 1-9. And you can’t have more than one of the same number in each grid/row/column….it’s maddeningly simply and complex! I love it!

So anyway, as I drool just from thinking about it, as I said, I love working puzzles. I was working Monday’s crossword puzzle, and one of the clues I came across really struck me about the state of our society today. The clue was “Harmless lie”.

Now, it’s a three letter word. It’s simple right? But look at the clue again-HARMLESS LIE. I admit to you, I am having a terrible time trying to figure this one out, because I CAN’T THINK OF A HARMLESS LIE! Can you? Since when is a lie harmless?

Oh, I know, we have all kinds of ones we can come up with, don’t we? “Well, if I tell her the truth about how that dress looks on her, she’ll make me sleep in the doghouse again, and it’s cold out there. Plus, I don’t even have a dog!” Or, “If I tell him that it looks great, he’ll keep combing those two hairs over and thinking it gives him a head full of hair.” I realize these are extreme examples, but they are some of the ones we have to face day to day.

How did we come to this? How did we come to the fact that a lie, for whatever reason it’s told, can have a severity rating of harmless or not?

Remember Abram? He told a lie about his wife Sarai, and said that she was his sister to Pharaoh. And God almost punished Pharaoh for it! Pharaoh took Abram to task for it, and his excuse was that he knew the Egyptians would find his wife beautiful. He was skeered they would kill him for his wife!

Lev 19:11- “You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another.”

Can I be honest with you? I have done these, and not just before I was saved either. Can you be honest with me? We all have, haven’t we? We have whatever reasons we have for the things we say, or the things we do, but it’s all a white-wash.

Stealing is taking something that is not yours; that you have not rightfully obtained, that you would not be given freely on a normal basis. Lying is not telling the truth, period. False dealing is saying you are going to do one thing when you KNOW that you are going to do something else.

There is no Scripture that says that a harmless lie is okay with God. Nor is there one that states its okay to welch on a deal just because you want to win. And there is definitely not one saying that you obtained something you didn’t deserve because it’s God’s will for you to have it, no matter if He has to steal it for you. Our God owns EVERYTHING! He doesn’t have to stoop to stealing to give me a gift or reward me.

Sometimes, we are put in situations where we have to make a hard choice. God doesn’t do it to punish us with a readily available lightning bolt. He allows it so we can learn a lesson about His nature. He does it because He loves us and wants us to grow in likeness to His Son. Remember the old saying, “Character is what you are in the dark.”

Oh, by the way, the answer is “FIB”.

Be blessed in the Lord,

Bo J.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Isaiah 43:19

Have you ever thought about what “faith” means? I mean, we have all kinds of examples of faith in the Bible. As Christians, we are called “women and men of faith”. We are told that we should have faith as a grain of mustard seed. We are told to grow in faith. But all this throwing about of the word doesn’t really do it justice, does it? We are a society built on shortcuts and getting there quickly. We don’t want to take the time to define it, we just want everyone to get it and get it now!

I told you that I thought the road to the kingdom of heaven was like a dirt road. It’s a road less traveled. As Christians, we want to believe that everyone has the same belief and trust in our Savior that we do-but it’s not that way. That’s not a statement of condemnation, it’s just fact. To many people, Christianity is an exclusive club that we can say we are a member. Only it’s not that exclusive.

God sent Jesus down here on this ball of dirt 2000+ years ago to give everyone the chance to join His club. And how do you join? You believe on His Son, and in His death, burial, and resurrection. Then, you surrender your life to Him and allow Him to use you as He sees fit. That is what faith is to me. Believing in Someone I can’t see, through circumstances and events that are at times unbearably difficult. And why is that?

He asked me to do it. Period.

How do I do that? I believe in His word. I trust in His word. Because the Bible says that God is not a liar. It doesn’t matter what is going on around you-God is not a liar. It doesn’t matter that this doesn’t look like it’s going to get paid-God is not a liar. It doesn’t matter what is going on at work-God is not a liar. It doesn’t matter who is talking about you at school-God is not a liar. Did you get that yet? God is NOT a liar.

How do you get there? How do you get to the point where you can believe in His promises no matter what happens? You go down the road less traveled.

“But where is the road?” you may ask. I’ll tell you-it’s in Scripture.

Isaiah 43:19-“Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

God has said that He will make a road in the wilderness and cut rivers in the desert. There is no place you are lost that God cannot find you. There is no place you can be stranded that God cannot get to you. There is no mountain or valley that God cannot make a road through to get to you and your situation. Remember that, when the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy in your life.

So when you are in the dark, and the voices are whispering that it’s all over now. And they are laughing at you. They are telling you that your God has abandoned you in your faith because you didn’t have enough of it. They are telling you to give up.

Listen.

What’s that I hear? It sounds like…..construction equipment.



Be blessed in the Lord,

Bo J.