Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Jeremiah 1:5

Good morning! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday; I know I did. My birthday was on Monday. Yeah!

I turned 40.

Oh, I can see some of you right now, you did the grimace; the pity face.

40. The black birthday. The one where everything starts to go down hill and nothing works the same.

You know what? I don’t care. I really don’t. You want to know why? I read my Bible. And I see what God has done.

Sure, there are examples of God using youngsters to do His work. Including Joshua, David, etc. How about the other examples? God used many men older than I am now to do His work.

Elisha, Elijah, Caleb (he was 85 when he conquered Hebron!), and many more. They were stalwart men of faith and experience.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we take what God has created as wonderful and make it terrible? 40 is a wonderful number; look at how many times and how many ways God used it in His word.

Now I know some people may read this and say, “He’s just grasping at straws; trying to make it seem better than it is.”

Isn’t that better than the alternative, to sink deeper into the muck and mire of this life and see no hope?

Jeremiah 1:5- “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”

God knew me before I was born. He already had a plan for my life BEFORE the world even laid eyes on me. He had already decided to pay the price for my sins on the cross, before I was even born. Isn’t that wonderful enough to celebrate EVERY moment that we are alive?

I was down a little yesterday, and my wife came in and talked with me. She told me that “depression doesn’t become you.” That’s the kind of thing that I want people to say about me, but I didn’t know it until she verbalized it. She made me start speaking out everything I was thankful for in my life. And it worked.

Get up. Get going. Don’t just lie there and let life overtake you. Grab on and ride, no matter how old (or young) you are today. God has a plan and a job for you. You may not like where you are now, but God can change that in a heartbeat.

Trust in Him that He will. It’s His plan, and, as someone said in our Bible study group last night, God doesn’t have a plan B. All His plans work.

Be blessed in the Lord,
Bo J.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Hebrews 13:8

Change.

According to the dictionary, change is:

(1) To give a completely different form, or appearance to.
(2) To exchange or replace one thing with another; usually of the same type or category.

You can wrap that gift however you want, but you still look at it and know that you don’t want it.

Change bites.

But think about these things for a minute:
1. An ugly caterpillar (I know, I know, it’s subjective) will wrap itself in a cocoon and then morph into a beautiful butterfly.
1. Children change and grow into adults (hopefully). They grow up and go out on their own. (Some of you are thinking, you said that in number 1, Bo!)

Change occurs when one form has lived to its full potential and then is replaced with something else.

Change is scary. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If we keep our lives in focus, and remember the Rock to which we are anchored, we will realize that change does us good.

Hebrews 13:8- “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

This means that Jesus DOES NOT change. God doesn’t do some magic act where He changes into Jesus or the Holy Spirit as the situation warrants. He is “I AM.” Jesus is “I AM.” The Holy Spirit is “I AM.”

They are all One and the same, but they do NOT change. They have not changed one iota since time began. They are outside time, and outside our physical boundaries. They are not affected by change.

They orchestrate change, to cause growth. Because they are outside our boundaries, they can see the whole picture, and they KNOW what is best for us.

Think about what happens every time you resist change. Think about how your world turns upside down. You are holding on to the status quo with all your might, refusing to open your fist, denying that in your life which is in your own best interest.

Let go. Open your fist. Loose the chains on your life. God has something wonderful for you.

Change.

Be blessed in the Lord.

Bo J.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Psalm 37:3-4

Do you ever just wonder sometimes, “When will it end? When will the pain and turmoil stop?” Do you ever sometimes look at your life and dread good times, because you just KNOW that it means something terrible is coming around the corner? Have you ever just been tired of being gut punched and just wanted to lie down and give it all up.

Sure you have, we all have.

I’m not saying that we should give up, not at all. I’m simply stating a fact that sometimes you WANT to give up. Sometimes you just WANT to throw your hands up in the air, give up on this whole Christianity thing, and go back to doing things your own way. In your mind, doing it your own way didn’t seem to be half-bad. You seemed to get a lot more accomplished that way….

NOT!

It’s a lie of the enemy and your mind! How do I know? Because I have lived, and am living the gut punch a minute life right now. We all are to some degree, aren’t we? The Word says that in the end times, basically, things are going to go South real quick and get downright…..poopy. (Yes, that is the Bible according to Bo translation.)

So how do we fight it? What happens when everything seems like it’s going downhill fast and you can’t hold on? What do you do when your life is out of control?

Surrender.

Ah, you knew that was coming, didn’t you? An awe-inspiring and great thought for the week. Heehee! Don’t think I don’t know what you’re doing right now? You’re looking at this going “Where’s the beef?”

But we all know, that’s it, don’t we? We have to just give up our rights, our abilities, our knowledge, our power, and surrender. We have to decide once and for all Who we follow, and Who owns us.

My wife will tell you I love knowledge. I love finding things out. But knowledge alone doesn’t do you a hill of beans if you don’t apply it. That’s where wisdom comes into the equation.

Knowledge + application = WISDOM

So how does this all apply? Well, back to my original thoughts from earlier, during our pity party that we all seem to have in our lives at one point or another. God has never abandoned us. He has not left you high and dry and said, “Okay, I’ve taught you all I know. Go forth and make Me proud.”

Just because you FEEL like God has left you at the mercy of the elements, doesn’t mean that He has. It’s just that, a FEELING. A feeling is an emotion, it comes and goes. God is our standard, He is our rock.

I have a pamphlet with some of the names of God in it. There are plenty of names of how the Israelites referred to various attributes of our God. My favorite would have to be Jehovah-Tsidkenu, “The LORD our Righteousness.”

I can’t and didn’t get placed into the Book of Life on my own. My space was bought and paid for by Jesus on the cross. My righteousness is not my own, it’s God who has imparted His righteousness to me through Jesus.

I had one verse in mind for this, but another seems to be more apt for the way this is going. I hope it helps you. Remember, we stand where we are because of He who dwells in us, and redeemed us with a price.

Psalm 37:3-4- “Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.”

Surrender.

You have the knowledge; now apply it to your life.

Be blessed in the Lord,

Bo J.

Monday, May 08, 2006

1 Peter 3:8-9

Okay, I bet y’all thought you were getting off easy this week, didn’t you?

I have a confession to make. I’ve made it in small group before, but it bears repeating. I am still working on having compassion. Understanding, compassion, lovingkindness, tender mercy, the whole nine yards; I am struggling with it.

Truth be told, there are a lot of us who struggle with it, aren’t there?

I don’t mean compassion on a homeless person by giving them money or buying them a meal. I don’t mean compassion by giving up a weekend or a day to help someone less fortunate or to do a church project.

I mean compassion on those who REALLY, REALLY matter. Compassion and love for each other, as fellow Christian brothers and sisters. We have lost our compassion for one another, and it’s evident if you look around.

You can say what you want, but we have a hard time being compassionate to a fellow Christian who has done a wrong to us. We have a hard time loving that “weird person who sits on that side of the church”. I have a hard time with compassion. Mine is an extension of what I expect from myself.

I feel like if I set high standards for myself, that I should expect those same standards from others. If it’s good enough for me, it’s good enough for everyone.

That’s not good enough though, is it?

I wish I could convey through this how much this really affects me. It really bothers me. I feel like I am missing something important in my life, because I have set my goals so high.

I wrote in my journal one day last week that I was learning Bible verses for the sake of learning. I wasn’t contemplating or gaining wisdom, I was acquiring knowledge. Remember, that’s NOT the same animal.

I need God’s help with this. Everyone will chime in with their own cure or treatment on this. But, the fact of the matter is, if we don’t allow God to encourage a spirit of love and compassion in us, nothing else will.

I think I have come a long way with this, because I have enough in me to know that I have the issue in the first place. Too many times we get down on ourselves because we have a thought or a passion or lust that tries to sneak up on us. I think it’s cool, because there was a time when that thing DIDN’T bother me to think of it. I wasn’t concerned about how I felt about those around me.

1 Peter 3:8-9- “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.”

I’m learning. I’m not perfect. I’m being perfected. Where are you at? How is your walk progressing? I realize that it’s easier to extract revenge than to bless a brother or sister, but the road less traveled is the one we are commanded to go down.

Let’s take a walk with Jesus. He is our example.

Be blessed in the Lord.

Bo J.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

1 Peter 4:9-10

Sunday night, at the high school service, we learned more about the Christians in Corinth. They were prideful in their Christianity, even to the point of boasting about whom baptized them into the faith. They argued among themselves who was better, and other petty differences like those.

The Apostle Paul addressed them in this. He reminded them that they were ALL baptized in the name of Christ, so the person who did the baptizing did not matter. He also addressed them about filing lawsuits against one another in secular courts when they were wronged.

You see, when one Christian did wrong to another Christian, the first would sue using the legal system. And they did this in the full view of non-believers! Paul asked them, when wronged, to give up their right to get revenge. He asked them, for the sake of the non-believers, to give up their right to seek redress. He didn’t ask them to be a doormat, he just asked them to learn to forgive.

These people had some things to learn, didn’t they? Aren’t you glad we have these Scriptures? We learn so much from them, and we don’t have to go down the road traveled like these stiff-necked people we read about in the Bible.

So, after church Sunday night, we went to pick up some prescriptions at a local pharmacy. Saturday night, my wife had gone to pick them up, but one of them was not ready. Something had happened about how they had input it into the system (Computers! You have to love them!) Well, we had several, some for me, and one for one of my daughters, and hers was not ready.

It was inconvenient, and a bit annoying, because we have had problems in the past 3-4 months with errors. Becky thought about picking up the ones that were ready, but she would have to come back anyway. And the techs assured her that if she came back later, she could just pick them all up at once. Well, I wasn’t in dire need of mine, so we just left them, and decided to pick them up Sunday night after service.

So, here we are, Sunday night. We had given them a LOT of extra time to get all our prescriptions complete. We drove up to the window, and then…BAM! You know what happened, don’t you?

The one that wasn’t ready Saturday night was now ready. The three other prescriptions that were mine were now NOWHERE TO BE FOUND! You got it, they were GONE! VANISHED! OUT OF HERE!

Now, remember what I said earlier about learning how to let it go, and not be angry? You also remember how I told you that we had been having problems before that, with them messing up on our orders? Yeah, you guessed it, we were completely Christian. We gave up our right to allow God to shine through us, and rushed headlong into our anger. We embraced our anger, gave it life, and birthed it out to the world.

The woman at the window who was patiently listening to us rant about how incompetent they were, had no reason to bear our anger. She wasn’t personally responsible, and even if she was, it wasn’t a life or death situation. But we were angry, and we wanted someone to know. We were going to change our store, and take our business elsewhere. We just wanted our refills and then we would be on our way. We demanded the one that was ready. Then, we instructed her to refill the others that were supposed to be ready, and we would be back by that evening to pick them up.

There, we told them. We showed that store who was the boss. We are the customers, and we are ALWAYS right.

“Oh boy, they really made you angry, didn’t they?” the Voice asked.
“Yes they did, why the nerve of them…the incompetence…” I said.
“And she really deserved that, didn’t she?” the Voice said, gently.
“It was her fault!”
“Why?”
“They didn’t have our entire order ready AGAIN! They have been messing up left and…..”I stopped. I didn’t like the way this conversation was going.
“So you had a RIGHT to be angry?” He asked. (Let’s be honest, we ALL know Who the voice belonged to, don’t we?)
“Well, yeah, but, umm….”
“Hmm, okay. I was just making sure that I, Jesus, and the Spirit understood this correctly. Something occurred that you weren’t counting on. Instead of allowing Me to shine through you, you decided it was better to handle it on your own? That about sum it up?”
“….” (Those who know me know it’s sometimes REALLY hard to leave me speechless. God can do it in a heartbeat.)

I felt terrible. It made me almost sick to my stomach. Becky and I talked about what had happened, we were both amazed at how angry we had become over that situation. And what’s worse, we had taken it out on someone who had not one shred of fault. I got one picture in my mind that was unshakeable. What if I saw that woman in church one day?

1 Peter 4:9-10- “Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”

My wife and I knew what we had to do; we had to go back and apologize.

We went back, and walked into the store. The same woman was still there. She greeted us and went straight to get our order. When she brought it to the counter, we stopped her and apologized for our behavior. We told her that we had been having a lot of stress in the family, and we had problems before, and all of that. She told us it was alright. But we assured her it was NOT alright. We laid ourselves at her feet, and told her what we had done was NOT appropriate. And you know what else; we did it in full view of everyone who was there. No one who was at that counter or within earshot could have mistaken what we were doing.

Everyone gets stressed, and we all have things happen to us that test our mettle. The question is not, don’t I have the right to be angry and get what I deserve? The question is, are you close enough to Christ to allow the world to go its own way, knowing that you follow a higher path?

Can I stop being me long enough to allow myself to show God?

Be blessed in the Lord.

Bo J.