Friday, December 28, 2007
So, I’m having one of those weeks again. You know the one just like you have; when you just want one thing to go your way. You’re actually not looking at everything going on, to see the blessings you have; you’re upset because they-re not the blessings YOU want.
I’m working at my computer. It’s what I do when I get kinda down. I don’t aimlessly surf, I do organizational things; I do things that make me feel better about how it runs, or how fast it can access this or that. In other words, I’m just piddling around (for your Northerners, piddling is a Southern term. Find a hillbilly friend and ask him/her what it means.).
Anyway, I may have mentioned this before, but I am supposedly the resident IT guy in my home (that is the information technology or computer geek). If something goes wrong with the computer, I’m called from whatever I’m doing. If I’m asleep (a rare occasion-usually, if my daughters are up, I’m up) I have scrap paper at the desk for the little notes I get. I’ve at least trained them that when the error message comes up, they need to transcribe it EXACTLY as it appears on the screen. It’s hard for me to re-create something from, “I was typing, and I pushed this button, and I got a blue screen of death.” “Well, what did it read?” “I don’t know, Dad/honey/Bo. I’m just telling you the computer is broken.”
Anyway, the point is, my family has faith in me. They have seen time and time again, that when the box of circuitry has an error, Dad will come in and do some stuff, type in something, re-boot, and everything is okay.
So yesterday, I’m updating some software that we have installed on this behemoth. I’m already irritated, because the update manager for the software locks up EVERY TIME I use it. It’s annoying, because I have to babysit it to nurse it through. I’m tired of the garbage-so I go straight to the vendor’s website. A couple of judicious clicks and I find the update I’m trying to get installed.
All 332 MB of it. Now, ordinarily, this wouldn’t rile me, because I have a cable modem. It shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes. So, imagine my face when the site connects and I get a box telling me that it is going to take 2 ½ HOURS to download this file.
I’m really starting to reevaluate the value of this software. So, I figure I’ve got time to kill. Fast forward to later…much later. I’ve got it installed, and it gives me an error; I have to kill the installation, and power button off the computer, since it’s locked up and won’t re-boot.
Now I’m getting really perturbed. I finally get it installed, re-boot the thing, and I get an error message stating that I have a keyboard error. I check my cabling, and I’m getting error lights on the back of the CPU. Now, I’m REALLY hot. I unplug one thing at a time, and I find what I think is the problem.
Oh, boy, this is NOT funny. It’s my 500 GB external hard drive. The one I purchased to have reliable storage outside my CPU, since I’ve had a tower hard drive go bad on me before and lost everything on the drive.
I am completely at a loss. I have no idea. If you knew what I had on this thing, there is only one question you’d want an answer to. “What was the look on your face, Bo?”
So, during all this, I’m close to sheer terror. I have no idea why, I just am. I can’t lose this thing. The pictures, all the music, the databases, everything….
“Is everything okay, Dad?” one of my daughters ask me. “Just having a bit of an issue with the computer.” “Oh, okay.”
Now, I know you don’t understand, but this is one of those moments of clarity straight from God. All my daughter said, was “Oh, okay.” But it was the WAY she said it that struck me. She said it in the matter-of-fact way they say things when they have broken it and bring it to me saying, “Can you fix this?” As Dad, you are obligated to say, “Yes; yes I can darling.”
She knew it was a computer problem, and I was on it. It wouldn’t be a problem for long. She had no doubt that she’d be able to get on later and update music on her iPod and e-mail her friends and all that stuff; none whatsoever.
I thought about all the stuff that has been going on this week. I thought about how many times I wondered who was going to fix this or that; who was going to help me; when was someone going to put themselves out for me. None of that mattered at that point; all that mattered was the simple faith my family puts in me, because they know God has gifted me.
They trust in what God does through me; but I don’t trust enough that God is looking out for me. I don’t trust enough that He has my best interests at heart during all the things I go through, good or bad. I’m thinking that I’m running this thing called life with God during the good; and by myself during the not so good. Where do we come up with this stuff?
God isn’t arbitrary in our life. He isn’t there one minute, and gone the next. In his book, “So You Want to Be Like Christ?” Chuck Swindoll talks about how God has not only laid out the course of our life, but He ran it before us through Jesus. And because of that, we have an example of how we should run. Jesus is not just our finish line; He’s not just a completion goal. He’s also an example. He’s the edge we need to win this race called life.
I’m feeling kind of winded this week. The race course seems so long; as well as being all uphill. But, if I give it to Him, and tell Him what needs fixing, He can and will do it. I only have to be prepared to LET Him fix it. And occasionally, His fixing will reveal another error that I didn’t see; it comes with the territory. I have to allow Him to work ALL the kinks out; not just the ones I’m comfortable with at this time.
When I let Him, He is the greatest IT guy around.
Today, right now, He may be trying to work something out in you. He may be trying to straighten out some scrambled code in your life. Or, He may just be preparing you for a new program He’s going to install later on. He has to remove some previous installations in order to ensure there are no conflicts with what He wants to do in your life.
I’ll be honest; it’s not something I like going through either. But man, when the clouds part for just an instant and I see through the glass clearly instead of darkly; well, I know that I know that I know that it will all work out in the end.
I just have to have faith that He is going to fix it. He’s not failed yet. Here, you want a piece of scrap paper to jot an error message down? I’ve got plenty.
Be blessed in the Lord today,
P.S. For those still wondering; yes, my external hard drive is working. I had a conflict and un-installed, then re-installed the hardware. Amazing huh?
Friday, December 21, 2007
I’m sorry I didn’t write to you last week. I ended up visiting a friend in the hospital, and then one thing lead to another, and you know….chaos happened. I do like it, however, when you ask me if my e-mail was working or if something happened to my computer as you feel that must be the only reason God didn’t have me do something embarrassing for you.
It makes me smile. Something I don’t know that I do a lot of lately.
Part of me wants this to be something in the spirit of the season. I want to write something pointing to Christmas and its importance. I want to write about the Savior and the manger, and the star and all that jazz.
But it wouldn’t be me; it wouldn’t be honest.
Let’s face it; this time of year is no longer simple. We fill it to the brim with so much of what we think this is all about. And I’m not talking about the gifts and the shopping and the commercialism and the continual “Christmas vs. Holiday” wording.
I’m talking about us, as Christians, and our attitudes. We lose sight of this season as well. We lose focus. We make out these grand schemes to touch everyone and do for everyone and feed and clothe and put on plays and have suppers and do service and….everything. We make it hard.
Christ was simple.
Some of you cringed when I put Christ and simple in the same sentence. You think of simple as being slow, or backwards. A simple person to you is one who is, for lack of a better term, stupid. But years ago, to be called simple was a compliment. It meant that you didn’t get caught up in all the crap that the world threw at you. You maintained your integrity and manner in all situations. You were steadfast and immovable.
I’m not simple anymore. I’m complex. And in complex things, you have many factors, like a complex mathematical formula. But just like in a formula, things can go wrong. The more complex the formula, the more that’s available to go wrong. And one small error can magnify itself, like a nuclear chain reaction to enormous proportions.
If you look at our Biblical examples, however, they were simple men and women. They didn’t set out to take over the world; they were just walking and talking with God. A couple of my favorites are Elijah and Isaiah. They are an example, to me, of simple, determined children of God.
Chuck Swindoll, in “So You Want to Be Like Christ?” says it best. He is talking about the example of Paul the apostle and how that should be to us. Our depth should be patterned after him, as his was patterned after Christ. He said, “I want what they had, so that my walk is such that I walk in step whether I feel good or not. Whether I get a yes or no to my prayers, I walk consistently, even when I don’t get my own way.”
How’s that make you feel? Me, it made me realize how complex I have become. You have to take an honest look at your life, as I did mine. Some of you may refuse to acknowledge that you have become a very complex person. I feel sorry for you, because that’s your loss.
The change from simple to complex didn’t happen immediately, either. It was a gradual one; kind of like the old time story of boiling a frog. You don’t put him in boiling water, because he realizes it’s hot and jumps out. Instead, you put him in cold water, and then slowly heat it up around him and he never knows.
Until it’s too late, that is.
Once again, I’m putting myself out there for you. We have made this season into everything it’s not meant to be. We marshal all our resources for this one shot at unsaved people, and in some ways that’s good. But what happens on December 26th?
The story is the same before and after Christmas day. It’s simple because God made it that way. He did that, because He knows the kind of person I am. He knows that if I get a chance, I’ll louse it up by adding my own little twist here and there to just kind of “improve” it and make it better.
It’s simple for a reason.
Now, I need to get back to that reason. So, I have to find the factors in my formula that I don’t need. I need to erase some of the things that don’t add up to a hill of beans in this life. I need to get back to being simple. I need to remember my first love.
When I was simple, I did everything so much better.
I love the little stories we get and stuff that people send to remind them of this season. I won’t be sending them out, because there are enough of you doing that to cover the world. I’m going to keep it simple. If I abide in Him, He’ll abide in me. If I get close to Him, He’ll get close to me.
“But Bo,” some will ask, “what about everyone else? What about all the other people who need to know Him? We’ve got to do this and send this and all that stuff! Don’t you care?”
Jesus Christ encased Himself in our flesh and walked among us for 33 years. He partnered with 12 guys, one of whom was a traitor. And they changed the world. They didn’t have mass mailings, or plays, or anything like that. They simply walked and showed the love of God to everyone they came in contact with on a daily basis.
Look at what they did, from that simple beginning. I’m tired of trying to improve on it; I’m gonna try and get back to walking in the simplicity that He initially showed me.
How about you? Is your life simple or complex? Take an objective step back and see if you are all about filling your life with things and doing, instead of just being.
Jesus has an extra eraser for you, too. He’s got plenty for all of us.
Be blessed in the Lord today,
 Swindoll, Charles R. So, You Want to Be like Christ?, p.16. Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
I want to declare spiritual bankruptcy.
I want to scream it to the heavens, and on the earth. I want to take my life, throw it down, and tell God that I can’t do this anymore. I’m tired of trying on my own, and I want Him to just take it now. I can’t make this work and I’m tired of trying to go on without Him.
I just can’t. You know what else? I’ve watched you, and you can’t do it either. You’re holding on just as tightly as I am to what you used to be. You’re holding on just like me to the patterns and habits of before.
See, I’m circling around the place where I just THINK that I’ve given it over to God. I thought I had given Him my life, and placed myself in proper relationship to Him. I was wrong. See, what I thought I was doing was giving over control, when in actuality I was just giving God a test drive of my life. I was really just allowing Him to get behind the wheel for just a bit. Then, when I got tired of Him driving, I pulled over and took the wheel again. Oh, it’s okay for Him to drive when I feel good about it; but that’s as far as it goes. I keep taking back over for Him, thinking that I’m ready to go this on my own.
I’m not really there yet. I’m not really at the place where I have given Him everything. In my mind, I’ve said, “God, please be Lord over my life.” But in my heart I’ve said, “God, please be Lord over these portions of my life. You can bless me here, here, and here; but the rest of these places are off limits to You.”
We all do it.
I’m really a jerk sometimes. I say things without thinking, with no regard whatsoever for what it does to the person I’m talking to. I read my Bible and study, but on some level that I either can’t find or refuse to see, I still think that it makes me smarter than you and thus able to look down my nose at you.
I’m impatient, uncaring, and coarse; so much so that sometimes I even disgust myself. But it doesn’t stop me from doing it. And then I have the nerve to pretend to God like I’m really sorry I said/did/thought the things I did.
This is the truth. I’m not worthy. I’m writing this because you need to know the truth about me. You need to know the kind of man you’re dealing with here. And you need to know that it’s time for you to be honest with yourself as well.
C. S. Lewis, in his book “Mere Christianity,” says it in a way I like: “It is the change from being confident about our own efforts to the state in which we despair of doing anything for ourselves and leave it to God.”
I have drifted away from my first, true love. I have allowed Pride and Arrogance to replace Humility and Charity (Love). I have forgotten that which brought me to Him in the first place. I have forgotten the feeling when I first realized that I had a hole in my heart that was shaped like God. I cried out to Him and allowed Him to fill it. Then, I turned into a Pharisee. I turned into someone who thought He was better than he really was in life. I forgot my upbringing.
So, here I am now, telling you this. Why? Because it happened to me, so I know it is or can happen to you. We are responsible to each other, as well as to God. He expects each of us to undergird and uplift each other through good times and bad.
Don’t look down on me in shame. Don’t stare at my fall from your high horse. You will find yourself in court one day as well, seeking protection from your own debt load. You’ll come in, looking for understanding and help. You’ll be like me, looking for a judge to hear your bankruptcy case.
When we get to this point though, the fight has really just begun. Now, you have to admit that you can’t do it on your own. You have to say, “My pride debt is too high, God. I can’t afford the payments anymore. I need help.”
You’ll throw yourself on the mercy of the court. And in the midst of it, you’ll see where you did actually do it; that is, declare your spiritual mismanagement to the world. You’ll admit that you’ve been trying to follow God only so far as to be able to still have your way, so you haven’t really been following Him at all.
You’ll see where you have changed and rearranged your priorities, because you have realized they are not priorities at all. You’ll see that nothing matters except what matters to Him; and what matters to Him is you becoming.
This hurts, because it shows weakness. It shows inability to do those things that I am expecting everyone else around me to do. It shows that I too am ready to scream for mercy for myself and justice for everyone else.
But it also means that I’m advancing. I’m progressing beyond what I was before, into what I am now with God’s help. It means that I’m learning what it means to walk with Him and be in Him. It means that I’m learning that it’s okay to be spiritually bankrupt. When I reach the point of least worth of myself, I’m beginning to be of the most worth to God.
I can be the weak one who is used by God; and its okay. Once I admit to Him how truly spent I am, He will open up the treasury of Heaven into my life and pour into me such blessings that I will not have room enough to receive it.
I’m really trying to give it to Him. And sometimes, it’s not the success or failure, but the CONTINUAL TRYING that means I have succeeded. And the best part of it all is that God doesn’t keep it on my record.
Be blessed in the Lord today,
Friday, November 23, 2007
I told you last week that I’m reading that book by A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy. It’s really amazing to me how such a small book can hold so great an impact on my life. And right now, Randy Riggins is smiling and most likely laughing his head off. If you see him, he’ll probably tell you he owns me, and he’s right.
I have learned so much just using that small book in my daily devotionals. I’m learning that I don’t give God near as much credit in my life as I try and pretend like I do. And I don’t give Him near the PRE-EMINENCE He deserves. Oh, for you who don’t know, that means that we SAY God is supreme with our mouths, but we don’t follow it up with our hearts.
If I could truly grasp for one day, one hour, even one minute how glorious and how gracious God is, it would change my life forever. If I could have the vision that Isaiah had (Isa 6) or Daniel (Dan 10:6-9), I would just KNOW how insignificant I am next to God the Almighty.
Everything flows from God, EVERYTHING. He is my source and my wellspring of life and totality. And each day that I wallow in the pit of despair and sin, I am reminded of how much I need Him and His power in my life.
Why are we content with just going to church on the weekend, and then leaving Him at the door? Why is it that I treat Him like I’m doing Him a favor visiting Him on the weekend and then going out for the rest of the week satisfying my own natural (read: WORDLY) lusts and urges?
The verse above says that a day in His courts is better than a thousand days elsewhere. He will withhold NOTHING from me, if I walk uprightly in Him. If I do what He has asked me to do, and serve Him with gladness of heart, He will keep nothing from me.
But yet and still I find myself walking in my old sins and my old ways. I find the nature side, the old man, rising to the occasion; reminding me of all the good things that I’m missing. He whispers in my ear about all the fun that’s passing me by.
What about you? Did you find yourself full of thankfulness yesterday, on Thanksgiving Day, and then fighting and cursing your fellow man today, Black Friday, the worst shopping day of the year? Are you the same person today that you were yesterday, or even last weekend while you were at church?
Has your vision of God tarnished and faded? Let me tell you something, it’s your vision that has gone dark, not our God. He has not left you, nor forsaken you. But we, through justification of our own thoughts and desires, have turned aside the truth of God for a lie.
God is still the vision of brightness and glory that He was in the Old Testament. He is still the awesome white cloud of glory that leads you by day, and the humbling pillar of fire that leads you by night. He is still the God of heaven and earth.
He is so far above me, that I cannot even fathom it. I can’t even comprehend how above me His glory extends. I should be on my knees, if not physically then mentally, each and every second of every day because I have seen His glory in His word and His world and know that He is the Maker of all things!
I should be glad to be no more than a doorkeeper to the courts of His house, because I am not worthy to stand in His presence because it would cause me to fall on my knees. To be in His presence is to be in the presence of all that I am not and cannot attain to be; I am not holy except that He has extended His Son’s precious blood to me to make me holy.
In light of Him, all else should fade away.
Tozer wrote his commentary on the church’s continued degradation of who God is more than 30 years ago. It still rings true today; now more than ever. We need to get back to the basics of whom we are, and to Whom we belong. I think this book is a burning bush reminder of who our God is, and our proper relationship to Him.
God is speaking to us, reminding us that He is holy, and He calls us to be holy. We should treat God as such, and remember that He is above all things, and we exist only because of Him.
We need to stop asking Him, “What have You done for me lately?”
Let’s be glad when someone says to us let’s go the house of the Lord. Be the best doorkeeper that you can be; the alternative can be far, far worse.
Be blessed in the Lord today,
Friday, November 16, 2007
I’m reading a book by A.W. Tozer right now named, “The Knowledge of the Holy-The Attributes of God: Their Meaning in the Christian Life”. It’s an awesome book, written to correct some wrong thinking of God about Who He is, and how we relate to Him. (Stop laughing at me Randy Riggins; I apologized to you already!)
Each chapter of the book addresses a different characteristic of God. Then, through Scripture, he shows how we think in relation to what that attribute really expresses about God. One of the most recent characteristics of God I just read about deals with His immutability; that is, His characteristic of never, ever changing.
Have you ever thought about what it means to NEVER change? We have no idea what the term NEVER really encompasses. We have absolutely no idea that never really means never, ever, ever, ever; it won’t happen, there is NOTHING that can force this to happen.
God never changes. Heck, I can get up in the morning, have someone speak to me in a way I consider wrong, and my whole attitude is shot for the day. My feelings and desires can change in a heartbeat. But God, He doesn’t change. He doesn’t wake up and not like the way I dress or talk. He doesn’t go to bed mad at me.
He never changes how He looks at me. He loves me. Sometimes, I hurt Him when I tend to do bone-headed things that I know I shouldn’t just because I’m stiff-necked. But through all that, God still loves me.
Why should I be different? Why can’t I look at the people around me and feel the same way? God never changes, but God changed me. He gave me a new leash on life. He washed my filthy rags in the blood of His precious Son, who was without spot or blemish, so that I could enter into His gates. And what do I give Him in return? How do I treat the precious gift of eternal life that has been bestowed upon me?
I put Him into a box. I keep Him there, and I pull Him out when I need/want Him. I pull Him out when I feel like I need to pray, and then shove Him back in when I’m done. I treat Him like a genie in a lamp; rubbing the side when I need a wish. I pull Him out to punish or smack someone around who I feel has hurt me.
I limit Him in my life. Notice, I didn’t say that I limit Him; I said I limit Him in my life. God doesn’t need me. He didn’t create me because He had a Bo shaped hole in His heart that He needed to fill. Scripture doesn’t say that God is complete with me; it says that I am complete in God.
God doesn’t need me; I need Him. God desires that I should grow in Him. He desires me to change and become the new creation that Scripture says I am because of the Holy Spirit in me. However, God’s existence and being is not dependent on me or my fickle feelings.
We need to understand and comply. In his book, Tozer states, “God never changes moods or cools off in His affections or loses enthusiasm.” 1 We’ve already discussed my ability, OUR ability, to change at the drop of a hat.
So, if God doesn’t change, where does that leave me? If one of us has to change, and God doesn’t have to, it seems pretty obvious right? I need to bow my knee to Him, and realize that He is Lord and learn what that REALLY means in my life.
But then, I bow, and I tend to look around and see if anyone else is bowing with me. And when I see that someone isn’t, I feel cheated, especially if they are seemingly getting by with what they are doing. It’s our nature to look around and compare our life to those around us. Heaven forbid if someone else is ahead of us in the game!
God doesn’t care what I see around me, He cares what I see IN ME. He cares that I look inside myself and see the change that needs to come there and allow it to happen. When I get caught up in the stuff on the outside, it muffles and suffocates the changes that need to occur in me.
Does it stop change? I really don’t believe it does, if I am a blood-bought, born-again, sanctified believer. What I do think, is that it makes it the change that is inevitably going to occur that much harder on me to take. Change happens, whether I embrace it openly or have to be dragged through it kicking and screaming like my grandson.
Change happens. God effects change, but change does NOT affect God. He is changeless, so I have a base, a solid foundation to start from in my new life. God wants to make us anew and fresh.
So, I’ll start by trying to turn loose some things in my life that deal with looking at those around me. I’ll try and remember that my circumstances and my surroundings don’t dictate to me my God.
I’m gonna try and change. Who knows, I might like it.
Be blessed in the Lord today,
P.S. Sorry about this being late. Last week, I went on a field trip to the zoo with one of my daughters. We had a ball! And this week, I had 2 doctor’s appointments, one of which was to the eye doc to get dilated. Oh joy!
1. A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy. HarperCollins, New York, 1961. P. 53.
Friday, November 02, 2007
Matthew 5:43-45-“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
I realize that one is kinda long to memorize, but I think we’d do well to remember it.
Last time I wrote about feeling your pain, and understanding where you are at this point in your life. This week is a continuation of that. See, I’m really feeling it now. It’s hard trying to be someone for God when the world instantly makes you out to be something else entirely.
You want to stand out in a crowd? Be a Christ follower and walk out into the world. You will have an immediate bulls-eye on your back, front, side; wherever the enemy can put one.
We can get labeled and tagged immediately, without even trying. We can do or say one wrong thing and immediately the whole church is on trial and people say that we are the reason they don’t go to church. We can be labeled as the fault and reason for every problem in the world today without even breaking a sweat.
I had a different verse today. I wanted one in which someone asked God to smite their oppressors, and defend them from harm; but that one didn’t feel right. I don’t think those are the kind of feelings God wanted me to harbor today.
See, I know it’s hard to believe, but I’m still being perfected. So, I still make mistakes. Sometimes, people see things they want to see, not because they actually see them, but because it’s easier for them. It happens in your life as well, doesn’t it? We each have our own deal with the world and how it sees us.
Sometimes it keeps me up at night wondering why people can think the things they do about us as Christians. And when you get blindsided by your circumstances, and labeled for your imperfections, it makes it worse.
You begin to wonder why you should even try to reach out to those around you. You begin to stop seeing the merit in being the hands and feet of Christ in your circle of influence. Or worse yet, it causes your circle to decrease in size dramatically.
You don’t want to reach out anymore; you just want to withdraw and leave it to someone else. You want to just disconnect from the rest of the world, take your Christianity, and just go to the house. “It’s not worth it anymore, God,” you state. “I’m tired of trying. I’m not the right person; you need to send someone else to do this, because I just give up.”
We begin to dictate to God how He reaches the world.
So, instead of dictating to God in the loud voice I initially heard to smite the oppressors, I turned my spiritual hearing aid up. I listened to the still, small voice that told me that I am a son of God. I heard the plan from the lips of my Father in heaven that said I have placed you here for such a time as this.
And instead of asking God how much longer this time will be, so I can see the wicked struck down, I asked Him to give me strength to do it one more day.
And tomorrow, I’ll ask Him again; and the next day, and the next, and the next. I’ll just have to keep looking up to Him for my daily strength (bread), and to forgive me, as I forgive those around me.
I have to take it as a learning lesson for something bigger that God has in store for my life. I have to give God a chance to work through bad in my life and bring good out of it, instead of immediately throwing in the towel and looking for the sideline.
It’s football season. Sometimes, you’re having a bang-up year, and beating everyone in your conference. Sometimes, you lose a game here or there. And sometimes, you barely eke out a season to break even. You try not to lose more than you win.
The game is just now coming into the 4th quarter. Jesus is closer to coming back today than He was yesterday. I’m tired, and I’m beat up. Now the time is at hand for the greatest victory of all. Now is the time to make the greatest effort of all.
Now is the time for our biggest push. If you’ve been knocked down, don’t stay down. There is no shame in being knocked down; only in staying down. There is no shame in falling; only in not getting back on your feet.
The greatest game of your life is still being played. Don’t give up on the Coach now; believe in Him. He already knows the final score.
He’s already told you that you are His most valuable player. He loves you, and would never let the opposing team run up the score on you.
Continue to do good for those around you, even when it seems absolutely insane. Continue to pray for those around you, even when you don’t like them.
Here comes the play; let’s get back out on the field.
Be blessed in the Lord today,
Friday, October 26, 2007
1 Corinthians 9:22(b)-23-“I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.”
Hey, I just wanted to talk to you for a bit. I wanted to get in writing that I feel your pain, and I understand you’re hurt.
See, I’ve been where you are right now, even if you don’t believe it. In 1996, my wife and I were having issues. Our marriage was close to finished. I was a bad father, and a worse husband. I was mad at the world, and didn’t even understand why.
My wife stuck by me through those times, and I didn’t even realize how much I made her cry until afterwards. She would call her Mom and tell her about our problems, and her Mom taught her to stay in and fight. She helped us and I didn’t even know it.
I was so far away from God, and I couldn’t fathom how I got there. I used to go to work and just wish that something would happen-a wreck, a sickness, anything-to make the pain go away. I wanted to be done with life. I was tired of fighting to be happy; fighting to just stay sane.
One evening, it was particularly bad. My wife and I had argued, and I sent her to bed crying, and my two oldest kids (at the time, they were 8 and 6) as well. I was inflamed at the world and just wanted to be left alone.
I met Jesus that night. He came to me, right where I was at, and told me that He had been watching over me. He told me that He loved me, but He couldn’t rescue me from myself until I surrendered control of my life to Him. He told me that I wasn’t really alone.
The next day started a roller coaster ride that has become my life. Some days it’s a suffocating drop from a wild altitude; some, a series of hairpin curves. But always, ALWAYS, my car stays on the rails. I always stay safe.
You feel alone now. You’re hurt, you’re angry; you’re a lot of things that you’re trying not to show right now. You’ve got to be strong, because everyone is looking to you for strength. But you don’t have any, do you?
I want you to know, that I care.
Even if we don’t talk that much, I care. I may not see you every day, but I care. You may not think that anyone knows what you’re going through, but I do, and I care. It hurts to get up some days, I know. I care.
You need to understand that you are not weak alone. You need to understand that you are not scared alone. You need to understand that you are not going through the valley alone. Have you seen the phone commercials on television, with all the network people walking behind the person with the phone?
I’m right there. And not just me, there’s a whole herd of us there following along, behind you and beside you, being your network. You may not know we’re there, but we are.
See, I didn’t know how many people were praying for me, until I came out from under the shadow Satan had cast over my life. I didn’t realize that the lights I saw were not the oncoming trains, but the candles of the believers who surrounded me in my weakness and took it upon themselves to petition God for me.
I’m not telling you this to say that you’re doing something wrong, or that God is punishing you for something. I’m telling you this to let you know that things happen to people just like you and me. I’m telling you this to let you know that love covers a lot, and right now you have a down blanket of love over you.
I’m telling you this, to let you know that I’m here if you need me. I’m sure that you are proud and don’t want to tell people that you are having problems, or you don’t want to seem like a whiner.
I’m here. We’re here. We are whatever you need us to be, in order to help you get through this time in your life. I can be a sounding board, a punching bag, a fireside chat, or a shoulder just to lean on and cry.
I will be whatever you need in order to help you see Jesus.
I don’t need to know anything, other than that you need a friend. We’re here for you when you need us.
I know that you know Jesus loves you. But it’s awful nice sometimes to have a good ole flesh and blood hug every now and then.
Be blessed in the Lord today and always,
Friday, October 19, 2007
Jeremiah 17:7-8-“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is in the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.”
You know what? Sometimes it’s really hard to be me. Sometimes, SOMETIMES, a VERY, VERY, VERY small part of me wishes I didn’t start doing this. I SOMETIMES wish I didn’t have whatever it is that asks me to put myself out like this-baring myself for everyone to see.
It’s been one of those weeks. Not a bad week, just one that you wonder about and ponder the sense of it all.
I work around a lot of people who seem to have it all together. They have all the stuff that I want-the electronics gadgets, the radio controlled this, the HD that…all the stuff. They have their 401(k) and their IRA and their bank account that has more money in it in savings than I make in a month.
They’re getting the deals around town and making the most of their life. They seem to be enjoying everything while I just seem to get by. Then, I really listen to them. I listen to them talk about God. Oh, they believe in God, they just don’t listen to Him.
They believe in God, but they think they’re just being good enough and that is enough. They don’t like RELIGION (neither do I for that matter-I love God), and they definitely don’t want to be reminded about God’s if/then statements in the Bible.
They tell you that their life is going great now, so why should they change? If their life needs to come under God’s protection, how come they got that great deal on furniture/their vehicle/money windfall/whatever?
If you listen, you realize that their belief in God, if they have one, is based on their stuff. And if I take what they say into my heart, and don’t compare it to the Word, I will start leaning toward that as well. I’ll start wondering why I don’t have this or that, these or those. I’ll start wondering and dreaming and thinking that I’m missing something.
But am I? Are we missing something? You know the answer to that as well as I do, yet here we are again.
One of the greatest statements I can hear people say is, “Well, I’m just going to live my life the way I want. You only live once.”
What if you’re wrong? What if our God really is the only way to true happiness and peace? What if God really has a plan for you that doesn’t involve you chasing the next big thing you want in your life?
If I’m wrong, and Christianity is just a crutch, and Jesus really didn’t do all that stuff He said He did, and we’re just living a lie-how am I worse for it? If it makes me try and be better for Him and those around me; to love and think outside of my four walls, am I that bad?
But if those others are wrong, then all they got is stuff now and Hell in the future. And you try and tell them that, but they’re blinded by the noise and shiny things of the world.
So when the heat does come, as it will, and the drought and famine comes, as it will, who is more prepared?
If I know that God is already taking care of me, and I have stood back and seen that, time after time, He lavishes His love on me, the deserts will come and go and I’ll still be blessed.
Those who don’t believe, who don’t have their life centered on God, well, I’m betting they’ll be blaming Him and calling Him a liar and a cheat. “You didn’t give me what I want, so I refuse to believe that You even love me,” they’ll say, even as they can’t show when they appreciated Him before.
Don’t worry, this isn’t for you. It’s for me. I know you don’t have these questions. I know that you don’t look around and sometimes, SOMETIMES, wonder if it’s worth it. You have your salvation firmly in mind, and a good grip on the Lord’ tassels.
Me, I’m still learning. And you know what? I’m not afraid to tell you that. So, if in the dark one night, when you think you’re all alone and no one knows how you feel, maybe you’ll remember this letter. You can understand that one person can sympathize with you. I’m still growing in this walk, and God will finish the work He started. If He’ll do it for me, He’ll do it for you, too.
I had a doctor’s appointment yesterday. On the way home, I was listening to a CD. A song came on that brought tears to my eyes and made me realize that I’m okay. It was the gospel group MaryMary, singing “Dance, Dance, Dance”. I started singing in my truck, because it told me what I needed to know about God. I worshiped on my way home through traffic and had a great time with God.
“Maybe you don’t understand why I gotta dance, there was something had me down but it’s over now. I’m a throw my hands up wave ‘em all the in air, cause all I wanna do is dance, dance, dance!” (Okay, don’t imagine ME singing it. Look ‘em up or I can let you hear the song.)
Anyway, it helped me. You hear all this stuff from the world, and you have to decide Who you believe. I came to the realization that, sooner than I think, I get what I need when I need it. I don’t have to look around, just up. And I’ll know that it’s not about me being right. It’s about Him not being wrong.
Come on; throw your hands in the air with me and dance, dance, dance.
Be blessed in the Lord today,
Friday, October 12, 2007
1 John 4:19-“We love Him because He first loved us.”
I’m really struggling with writing this today. I had something else I wanted to use, but I got my day started, and this struck me right between the eyes. I wrestle with it, not because I’m scared I’ll offend someone; it’s so vivid to me that I’m wondering if anyone else will get it.
Fridays are my day off now on my schedule. I work 10 hour days, Monday through Thursday. On Fridays, I walk my youngest daughter down to the bus stop and take my wife to work and other things that I’m assigned.
Today, as my youngest and I started down the street toward the bus stop, we had a surprise waiting for us. It kind of startled my daughter, as she almost walked right up on it.
It was a small grey kitten. It was right in the middle of the road, and it looked like it had been struck partially by a car. (Please understand I know that this will tear some people up. It affected me. I’m not telling you this for the shock value.) The kitten looked in bad shape. It was bleeding from the mouth, and it was dazed and confused.
I didn’t want to risk picking it up and hurting it even more. When the light from my flashlight hit it, it immediately started hissing and crawling around the street. We used the light to guide it onto the curb and into the yard. Right now, as I write this, it’s in my next door neighbor’s yard, beneath one of her trees.
I want to try and catch it and get it help. But it’s so tiny and I don’t know how to do it without hurting it more. She called animal control this morning, and they said they would come pick it up, but it’s been a while, and we haven’t heard from anyone yet.
It bothers me; it really does. The little kitten is a miniature version of my cat. It has the same coloration and markings, everything. I hate sitting here knowing that it’s out there and cold and alone.
Some of you are probably envisioning that kitten right now. Some of you are probably wondering why I’m in here writing this instead of taking care of it. You think I’m cruel and heartless for using this kitten for God knows what of my own purposes.
Let me ask you this then, and answer honestly. How many of you have people that you go to school with, or go to work with every day? How many of us see that person in the halls that everyone else has abandoned to the world, because they just got to be too much trouble? How many of us see that person that we work with that may shy away from someone because he or she has been hurt so many times before by people?
How many of you can love a poor little kitten that you walk up on, and you have people around you who are in the same broken, bleeding, and dying condition and you turn your back on them because you don’t feel like doing something? You can feel for that kitten that I saw this morning, but you can be dead inside to the people around you dying and going to Hell?
I’m crying now, it’s getting hard to type this. See, we all do it. We all forget that once we were unloved, broken, and cast off. The world used a lot of us up and spit us out like yesterday’s news. We were out in the street, waiting for the end to come and just make the pain go away.
But Someone came along, and shined a light on you. He saw you and had compassion on you in your circumstances. He knew that you needed a Doctor, a Lawyer, a Friend, a Husband, a Wife, whatever you needed. He came down from His house, and took it upon Himself to stand watch over you. He kept you warm and dry, and He cried whenever your pain was so great that it caused you to shy away from His loving touch.
He loved us, not because we did anything to deserve it; but just because it’s His nature to love. And in return, we learn to love Him back. But it doesn’t and shouldn’t just stop there. We should learn to love outside of ourselves. We should want those who don’t know the love and care that we feel now to feel it themselves.
We should love the broken, bleeding, cast off refuse of the world; that’s what Jesus did when He died for us all. He loved everyone, and He didn’t make a snap judgment that not everyone was worthy. I’ve heard it said, and have said it myself, and it bears repeating. I believe that even if it was ONE SINGLE SOLITARY PERSON who was going to die and go to Hell, Jesus would have laid down His life for that person.
One man, one life-given for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Please understand I don’t have this down myself. I’m STILL learning this walk. I’m still under construction. And I’ll be honest, I’ve written all this, and I don’t know quite where to go from here. But I’m going to trust in my God and His work in me. I’m going to believe that He who has started a good work in me will complete it.
I’m going to try and love, because He loves me. I’m going to try and be more compassionate to the kittens (people) who have been struck by life and left in the middle of the street for traffic.
I’m gonna go now, and see if I can somehow coax that kitten I found this morning into a cat carrier and take it to my vet. I want to see if I can get it some help. My wife and daughters may come home today, and we have yet another pet cat. And we’re not even cat people; we love and want a dog!
But it would sure be a good reminder of God’s love for me and my household. It would remind me that no one is too broken or beyond God.
You were worth it to Him. Who is worth it to you?
Be blessed in the Lord today,
Friday, October 05, 2007
James 2:13-“For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment."
I have been going around today, trying to figure out how to put into words how I felt today. I think what is going on in my heart is something centering around the term entitlements.
Now, I know some of the students are scratching their heads right now, thinking to themselves, “What the heck are entitlements?” Instead of instructing you to look it up in a dictionary, and getting a blank stare, I’ll help you out.
Entitlement-a right to a benefit that is granted by a law or a contract.
That verse above speaks to me about entitlement-my right to have my way, my desires, and my wants, regardless of what it does to others. I feel like I am OWED something because I’m so smart, or so intelligent, or a good provider for my kids or whatever else my warped, twisted mind can come up with to justify my feeling.
In other words, God OWES me something, and when things don’t go my way, it’s obvious that He doesn’t understand our relationship. He doesn’t understand that inside I’m a good person, and I mean well. Everyone else needs help, but I’m okay. I’m as good as I need to be to pass.
In my job, we sometimes have to take tests on various subjects. The minimum score you need to pass is 80 out of 100. There is a saying there that “80=100”. That means you only have to try hard enough to get the minimum. Anything else is overkill. How many times has our walk with God echoed that sentiment? How many times have you shorted God on quiet times, or tithing, or anything else? How many times have you looked at the Almighty and told Him, “You know what God, 80 percent is passing. That’s good enough; You should be happy with that.”
How many times has our walk with God echoed that sentiment? How many times have you shorted God on quiet times, or tithing, or anything else? How many times have you looked at the Almighty and told Him, “You know what God, 80 percent is passing. That’s good enough; You should be happy with that.”
When you see it written down here, you realize how absurd it looks. But, how many of you can look back on your life recently and realize that you’re giving God the bare minimum? You’re giving Him just enough to make YOU feel good; and to put God in YOUR debt.
That’s not the way it works. God is not indebted to me for anything. That statement is so important, that I’m going to give it to you again.
GOD IS NOT INDEBTED TO ME, OR YOU, FOR ANYTHING.
We don’t hold anything over God’s head. We aren’t entitled to anything just because we did something around the spiritual house today, and want God to reward us for it. Salvation doesn’t work like that at all.
Remember, God could have left us right where we were in our lives. Jesus could have come down from that Cross, or worse yet, never even allowed Himself to be placed there in the first place. We could have to try and get into Heaven on our own merits.
Yeah, let me know how that’s working out for ya.
God had mercy on us. He could have tossed us in the ole judgment box, but Jesus had compassion on us and God showered us with His grace and mercy. It’s a shame that we forget that and want mercy for us, and justice for everyone else.
We want what we want, because we feel like we’re entitled to it. We don’t want to be told that we are learning a lesson, or being made more like Christ every day. We want our due NOW and we’ll throw a tantrum to get it.
The funny thing about it though, is that sometimes, when you throw a tantrum, the adult of the relationship has no choice but to show you the error of your ways. Sometimes, you get disciplined.
Did you notice how close the word discipline is to the word disciple? As a disciple of Jesus, sometimes I forget that I need to be disciplined. And it’s not always a bad thing to be disciplined. It just gets that way when I choose to exercise my entitlement gear and forget that I’m not owed anything.
Then, God cracks His knuckles and gears up. He loves me too much to allow me to keep this attitude. He loves you too much, as well.
So let me ask you this-do you hear the still, small voice in your quiet times disciplining you for your good, or do you hear the familiar “swoosh” of a wood switch branch in your ear ready to teach you how much you don’t want to know about entitlement?
As for me, I hope one day to get tired of not being able to sit down. Help me God, to learn to be more like You, and less like me.
Be blessed in the Lord today,
Friday, September 28, 2007
I have been really impressed with the senior guys we deal with on Wednesday nights at church, as well as the guys I’m mentoring on Monday nights. They have some really startling views on life that really voice what goes on in my heart.
One thing we’ve all been wrestling with lately is the seeming fact that, as Christians, we always seem to be behind the eight ball. By that I mean it seems like there is always something going on in our lives that keeps us knocked around and off balance. Just when it seems like things are starting to go well, WHAM! And we’re bouncing off the walls again from a ricochet shot.
The problem lies in what goes on around us. In my life, I work with many people who talk of going to church, but don’t lead the life or the walk that God has for us. And you can always tell them, because they justify their lifestyle by saying that they go to church and they don’t steal/kill/etc. from other people.
Or you have the adults/youth that you are around who don’t even acknowledge the role that Jesus played in giving them salvation. They ignore God’s greatest gift to them, because they just don’t see a reason to follow Christ. They don’t see what they’ll get out of it, or they simply don’t care. Christians, to them, are just hypocritical bigots who are only after one thing-their money.
It’s hard sometimes when you are going through your life and it seems to be the unending roar of one thing after another rolling over you. And you look up to see those who aren’t allowing Jesus into their lives just having the time of their lives; joking, laughing, having everything they need in life. It’s hard as an adult and as a teen.
It’s harder when someone tells you that you need to have a mindset on things above and not things down here; especially since you are LIVING down HERE right now. You know in your heart of hearts that God is in control and that you shouldn’t worry about those who seem to get by, but it hurts nonetheless.
How do you get by? Spending time in God’s word and seeing Him manifest it in your life.
I ran across a verse in Isaiah recently during one of my quiet times. It’s a short verse, but it spoke volumes to me. It’s powerful to me, because of its simplicity.
Isaiah 57:21-“’There is no peace,’ says my God, ‘for the wicked.’”
Don’t worry, Bo, their time is coming. One day they will stand before God, just like I will. If they have accepted His offer of grace (God’s unmerited, undeserved favor-Him doing for me what I couldn’t do on my own) and salvation, then they will be saved.
However, if they have not, it’s the beginning of a completely different life for them; one of pain, heartache, torture, and ultimate loss. See, it’s up to us to remember that we have lost the world, but gained our soul. The finite time we have here on this ball of dirt will not compare to the infinity we will have with the Father and Son and Holy Spirit in Heaven.
We have so much to look forward to, and yet we keep looking back. It’s our nature, and we have to die to it daily. Sometimes, you have to die to it by the hour, minute, or even second. But it’s a process that, as you go through it, gets easier to accomplish.
See, as you die to this world daily, the space in your heart that was filled with those things of the world gets to be filled with those things from above. That’s what is so important about having quiet times with God. Their not so you can mark it off on some heavenly to-do list. It’s so you can get closer and closer to the Savior and allow more and more of Him to shine through your life.
Then, when your friends or co-workers or the person you meet by God’s design comes along and sees all this stuff happening to you, they get to wondering why you have this silly grin on your face.
“Why are you smiling?” they may ask you. “Don’t you see what’s happening in your life?”
And you can reply, “Yep, I sure do. Ain’t God great? He’s the Lord of my life now, so all this stuff that I’m going through is His responsibility now. I don’t have to worry about a thing.”
I didn’t say it would be easy. But one day, when we see through the smoke and fog and deceptions that the enemy has placed in our lives, we’ll realize that it was all a plot to make us better than what we were originally.
Ain’t God great? He’s the Lord of my life now, so I don’t have to worry about anything.
Wanna meet Him? I can show you the way.
Be blessed in the Lord today,
Friday, September 14, 2007
Lamentations 3:22-23-“Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”
I’m glad His faithfulness is great. I’m also glad His compassions don’t fail….unlike mine. I’m glad that God’s compassion and caring isn’t as fleeting as the wind like mine. I’m glad that God cares about me doesn’t just snap His fingers on my existence.
He’s faithful. He’s compassionate. You’ll notice how short those sentences are compared to what we could write about ourselves. I’m faithful---as long as all is going my way. I’m compassionate---as long as you’re doing what I want you to do.
I care about you as long as it fits in with my plans and desires. Otherwise, you’re just a speedbump on the road of life to me.
Oh, don’t worry. I know that you all are way better than me at this. I wish I was as spiritually grounded as you. I wish that I could scrape some of you off onto me and get it to grow. I wish I knew how to be as close to God as you.
I mean, I don’t see you having any problems or anything in your life. Everything is going swimmingly with you. You’re children are perfect; you have friends and they all look up to you. You have all that God desires you to have, and more. You are the person I look up to and model.
What? What do you mean, “You don’t have it altogether”? But, I mean, look at my life compared to yours. You can do what you want whenever you want. You don’t have a care in the world, just staying in there close to God.
You don’t say the wrong thing to those around you. You don’t hurt anyone close to you. You make everyone around you feel so warm and worthwhile. It’s a great example.
I mean, I just don’t feel like I’m on top of the world today. I don’t FEEL like a Christian today. I just feel like I’m wandering around in a daze trying to make it. I can’t feel anything; I’m just numb.
Wait, you feel that way too? No way; I didn’t think anything affected you. I thought you were a rock. I love the example that you set……
You thought that way about me? I helped you to realize that God loves you and His compassions are always around you. I helped you to realize that sometimes we all go through things and don’t feel or look or act like we have God in our lives.
I did? But when? I don’t remember doing that. Okay, if you say so, but I don’t know. I’m not always a great person. I’ll be honest, sometimes, I don’t know what else to do but curl up in God’s lap and cry. Not all the time, mind you.
I want to shut out the world and everything that happens to me, and just get away from it all. Then, I feel the rain.
Then I realize it’s not rain. They’re tears being shed for me. It’s Someone whose compassion for me never fails. He never leaves me nor forsakes me. And when I’m curled up in His lap, fast asleep, He’s whispering in my ear how much He loves me.
And He’s crying tears of compassion for me in my hurt and pain. He loves me and you and you and you. He loves us all and wants us to know that joy comes anew each day. No matter what happens to you this day, it will still have the same number of seconds, minutes, and hours in it.
And it will end, and a new one will begin. When the new one begins, He’ll be right there, to help you up and get you started.
So don’t worry about what is trying to eat you alive today; God’s mercies are new and they protect you. There is nothing that can get through His hands to you.
Let’s do this together. Let’s try and let Him mold us into what He’d like us to be today. No matter how He wants to use us. Let’s be the hands and feet of God today; even if we don’t feel like it.
It couldn’t hurt.
Be blessed in the Lord today,
Friday, September 07, 2007
Ding! Ding! Ding! School’s in session. Let’s turn in our books to our math lesson for the day. I love mathematics. The ability to use numbers and logic to explain concepts just floors me. I use math every day and I love it.
I know there are some of you out there who think I’m nuts, and that’s okay. This will be an easy lesson, I promise. I think this is a great way to put in simple terms what MY revelation has been lately about God.
Now, I know that numbers and mathematical expressions are finite and our God is an infinite being. Bear with me for just a bit while I explain. See, numbers, for all their differences, and size and the way they are represented are still numbers.
2+2=4. That’s a true statement, right? No matter where I am in the world, that statement holds true. It doesn’t matter whether or not I’m in North America, or Europe, or Africa, or anywhere else….the mathematical statement 2+2 always equals 4.
It also doesn’t matter what I believe about God, does it? No matter how I believe or what I believe about God, 2+2 still is equal to 4. It’s an absolute value. Now, man in his wisdom and mathematical prowess has invented imaginary numbers, but look at the name…IMAGINARY. They are NOT real. They are representations of an idea that we can’t quite grasp. So it’s shown as an imaginary value.
God is like that, as well. God is an ABSOLUTE value. No matter what anyone thinks of Him, or how they try and prove or disprove Him, it doesn’t matter. He’s still an absolute value. He’s a standard that we cannot move.
I think that people base their beliefs in God on three different mathematical principles. Now, there are LOADS of math statements out there, but I only want to concentrate on three easy ones.
The first is addition. See, some like to believe that God’s whole purpose is to keep adding into their life. They don’t ever feel like they have to give or do, they just take and take and take some more. They feel like they are entitled to this lifestyle and demand that God continue to add to their total. Nothing is too good for them, and God wants them to have everything, regardless of their walk with Him.
The next is subtraction. There are those who feel that once they give their life to God, they have made it into Heaven. Nevertheless, God wants them to suffer and grovel and generally just subjugate themselves daily. They are never going to get anything because they are not good enough. And if they do get anything, it’s only a matter of time before God takes it away, because that’s just what He does.
The last one is a kind of neat statement that we have been talking about a lot lately in church and in my life. It’s called an if/then statement.
See, an if/then statement uses the inherent facts that numbers are absolute values. It shows that, no matter how convoluted a formula becomes, it still has to follow some basic rules. An if/ then statement tells me that IF I add the numbers 2 and 2, THEN I will get 4. Always, forever, until the end of time.
Now, mathematics and all the other laws derived from it are based on standards that God put in place when He created the Universe. So, the only one who can change the rules is Him. But if He changed the rules, then would He still be absolute? Would He still be an immovable standard that you could measure your life by? Would He still be the Rock?
I believe my God is an if/then kind of God. See, He tells me in Deuteronomy 28 that IF I follow His commandments and do what is right in His sight, THEN He will set me high above the nations of the earth. He will give me blessing upon blessing upon blessing.
I get blessed because I do what God asks me to do. I fulfill the part on the left side of the equation, and the right side of the equation gets fulfilled in my life. I am not blessed because I deserve it. I ‘m blessed because if I do my part, then God, Who is absolute, has to do His part in order to balance out the equation.
And no, I am NOT saying that He owes me. I’m saying that He is truthful and keeps His promises in Scripture. Don’t get the two confused. We are NOT entitled to anything God doesn’t promise us in Scripture. Don’t start naming and claiming everything under the sun just because it’s what YOU want for you life. Line it up with the Word of God!
One more thing; the first half of that chapter tells us the blessings that we will walk in if we follow God’s commandments. The second half details the other part of if/then statements that we don’t like.
See, with addition and subtraction, we don’t have to think about anything outside of that statement. With if/then, there are two sides to the coin. It covers what happens if you conform to the “if” conditions, AND what can happen if you DON’T conform to those conditions. The second half of Deut 28 pretty much reads like a horror novel. I don’t even want to go there.
So, which statement conforms to your life right now? We can all be any statement at any point in our life. That’s why God gave us the Book to take home and study, so we can be ready for the ultimate test. It’s just one question; pass or fail.
Do you have Him, or not? Is He Lord of your life, or just a way to get stuff?
Class is dismissed. Be blessed in the Lord today.
Friday, August 31, 2007
Yep, that’s it for today. That’s what I’m giving to you, the whole Psalm.
I tried to find the perfect verse to tell you how I feel today, but I couldn’t. I could not pick out one verse to give you. So, I’ll give you a little homework for this week: find your own in that beautiful poem to God.
I want you to know something. I love God. I want so much to just follow Him and do what He asks of me. I want so much to just BE in Him. Do you understand where I’m coming from?
I think I’ve told you before that initially I started this after a request from my adult small group. Now, it’s just taken on a life of its own. God has used my shortcomings, twists and turns in life to help you on your way. And I have had to learn a little humility in return.
And you know what? I don’t care.
I pour out my feelings here, not because I want your pity, or your sympathy. I pour out from my own life, so that YOU will know that you are not alone. YOU are not the only one who has things happening in their life. YOU are not walking along with no one to empathize for your pain.
Oh, we all have different pains, to be sure. But each of us has an ultimate goal of reaching for the prize of the upward calling in Christ Jesus. I can’t help but think of Paul the Apostle. He wrote all those letters, and he exposed his own troubles and perils in life. He wrote about what happened; who made him mad, and who made him joyful.
He wrote about his life, so we could imitate him as he imitated Christ.
But I’m not Paul. I’m Bo.
And Bo wants you to know that he loves you. Bo wants you to realize that in this Christian walk, you are going to do some things you regret. You are going to say some things you wish you could take back again. You are going to fall occasionally.
He wants you to know, however, that this life you live is not your own. We were bought at a very high price. We literally cost Someone’s life to redeem us from what we were, to what we can be.
My wife and I have been thanking God a lot these past couple of weeks in our corporate (together) prayer. We have been telling Him thanks for things we haven’t seen yet, because of what we HAVE seen.
And we figured out, once again, that everything outside of God is just noise. We are together and strong. We are fighting a culture that demands immediate satisfaction. We are fighting a world that screams to get yours, and if you don’t go somewhere else until you do get it. We are fighting an environment that tells you how easy it is to just move on if others disappoint you or hurt you. You don’t have to put up with it, or pray through it; life is about you and what you get out of it.
But it’s really not. Your life is all about God and glorifying Him through what you say, think, and do. Your life; my life; our lives are about showing the way.
If I told you that once you got saved, everything would go okay in your life, I wouldn’t be honest. That’s why there are books all over the place about how bad things happen to good people.
The Bible is full of stories like those. So why should my life be any different? Why should I try and sugarcoat my life, and make you believe everything is a bed of roses, when it may not always be true? Why not be truthful about what I’m going through and how I’m feeling?
It helps you when you are going through it. It lets you know that there are some things in your life that are just noise as well. It lets you know that no matter what the world says or throws at you, you have a hope and a future that is not here.
This life is not the end of your commentary. God is continually writing the story of your life and my life. Sometimes things go swimmingly, and you are having a ball. And sometimes, it’s a mystery, or a horror story with sickening twists and turns.
However it is right now, you can be sure that it won’t last forever. And I’ll remind you that God has already written the end of our book. He’s already chaptered the story of our lives.
In the end, we win. Not on our own; but in the power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives because of the sacrifice of God’s Son Jesus.
I’ll continue to tell you my heart because you deserve to know that God is in control and He always redeems my life back to Him. And He will do the same in your life if you will let Him.
Be blessed in the Lord today.
Friday, August 24, 2007
I have somehow found myself in a restaurant. I’m seated at a table, and I look around. There are people, things, entities all around me, and they do not have my best interests at heart. They are making it plain that they are there for one purpose and one purpose alone-to make me hurt. They are there to make me pay.
I’m terrified. First, I don’t know how I got to this place, much less where this place is. Second, all these things want to do is tear me limb from limb. And I’m trapped. I’ve got no place to go. I’m frantically thinking of ways of escape….
“Sir, have you decided what you would like to order yet?” The Waiter’s question snaps me out of my panic. I look at Him dumbfounded. Does He not see the people around? Doesn’t He realize what is going to happen? These things don’t care who’s around; they are going to do EXACTLY what they want to me, regardless of where I’m at.
“There are some very delicious items on the menu today,” He goes on. I’m barely listening. It’s kind of out there in left field. I’m sitting in a restaurant, with killers all around, and a Man wants me to EAT?
“Uh, I’m not really hungry right now,” I stutter out. I’m thinking, if You really wanted to help me, You’d go and call the authorities. “Oh, but you look like you’ve been running for quite a while. You must be starving,” He tells me. “Look,” I say, “I appreciate it, but I really don’t think that sitting down for a meal right now is in my best interests, if you know what I mean!” I look around at the assorted characters and the weapons being shown to me with the intention of causing me great pain and sorrow.
“But sir, you really must eat. Allow Me the liberty of serving you,” And with that, a stream of food begins arriving at my table. A variety of dishes and the smells….oh, my mouth begins to water. Every good food that I love is being set before me on the table. My Waiter begins to urge me to eat. Each time I start to pick at the food, however, one of the demons makes a noise or hisses at me, drawing my attention back to them.
And I begin thinking again of how unreal this situation is to me. I can’t just sit here and eat, I have to try and get away; I need to get out of here. “Sir, you really must try this,” my Server tells me. He shoves a forkful of something in my mouth that just simply explodes my taste buds.
I can’t do this. It’s too hard. “Bo, it’s alright. Don’t worry about it. Everything is under control; you just enjoy your meal.” The Server is trying to calm me down. It’s then that I look at Him and realize what He just said. “How do you know my name?”
“I’ve always known you. You and I go way back. I care about you more than you know. I put this entire meal together just for you. I hope you are enjoying it.” Now, I’m really going off the deep end. I look at Him, and I ask, “Do you not see all the things around here? Do you know what they are going to do to me?”
He looks around at them, and says, “They aren’t as tough as you think they are. Trust Me.” He must be crazy; I must be crazy. This whole thing is nuts.
I get ready to get up, to make a run for it. He looks at me with this gaze; it feels like it pierces me to my soul. “You could tell them to go away, you know.” I look at Him, eyes wide open. “Tell them to go away? What am I supposed to do, go over and just demand that they leave? They’ll cut me to ribbons!”
“No, they won’t. I promise you they won’t. You’re under My protection. They are here to make you think you’re alone in this. But you’re not. I’ve got your back.” I look at Him, and then I notice how the thugs act whenever He gets near to one of them. “Look, maybe You can do that. This is Your place, but me, I’m just passing through. They’ll wait on me to leave, and then its lights out!”
The Server only smiles. He tells me, “Watch this.” And with that, He goes over to a table with a huge character seated at it, sharpening a wicked looking knife. As He approaches, the thug’s face changes. My Server leans onto the table, looks him straight in the eyes, and calmly says, “This is My place. You have no right to be here. You need to leave now.”
He almost broke his neck trying to get out of that booth and out of the restaurant. It was kind of funny. The Server came back over to me and said, “See, it’s easy. Now, you try it.”
Huh? You want me to what? “What do I do?” I ask. He looks at me and says, “I’ve given you an example. Just do what I did. Believe in Me, and the authority I’m giving you and you can do it.”
I think to myself, “Well, I might as well get this over with.” I approach a table where a rather small looking demon thug is seated. “Ahem,” I hear. It’s the Server. He looks at me, “Not that table, that one.” The one with the huge, hulking mountain of a thing seated at it. He’s enormous. I can’t do this.
“Trust Me,” I hear. So I walk over, and I see the others getting ready; they are seeing a bloodbath-mine. I stand in front of him, and in a meek voice, I say, “Could you please go now?” From behind me, I hear, “Don’t ask him, tell him. I have given you all authority to do this.”
The demon laughs in my face. “What did you say, little man?” I take a deep breath, and stand up straight. I look him square in the eye, and say, “I told you that this is not your place, you can’t touch me here. You need to get out because He told me that I don’t need to put up with you. So get out NOW!”
He trampled over several of his buddies getting out of there. I’m standing there with my mouth wide open. As I watch, more of his other friends are slinking out. They realize something has changed in me. Then, I start chasing them out.
And then, I begin laughing. I can’t believe what happened here today. I look at my Server, and I begin to cry. I don’t know what else to do. He holds me close and hugs me. His staff is crying as well. I look and everyone is looking at me proudly.
Then, He turns my head back to look at me. He tells me, “I didn’t come to be served, but to serve. I gave My life for you.” “What can I do to repay you?” I ask. He says, “Can you help Me here? We have lots of people who come here needing to be served, but we don’t have enough workers. Can you work for Me? The benefits are out of this world.”
I smile, and I think of what this could be like. “Okay,” I tell Him, “I’ll do it.” All of a sudden, I’m clothed in a fresh, white uniform. I’m scared again. “What if I stain it?” “It’s okay,” He says, “I’ll take care of that too. You’ll make a mistake or two, but I’ll always be here. Just let me know when you fall and get a stain on it, and I’ll clean it right up for you.”
Wow, that’s just…cool. Guess I better get to work.
Can I take your order? This place has the BEST food. And let me tell you about the Man I work for….
Be blessed in the Lord today,
Saturday, August 18, 2007
This passage is in the context of a larger story about a healing. A father has brought his son to Jesus’ disciples for healing, as he is possessed by a demonic spirit. The spirit throws the boy into peril and harm at every opportunity. It tortures the poor boy, and in turn, throws turmoil into the family’s life.
The disciples tried unsuccessfully to cast the spirit out of the child. Jesus tells the father that if he can believe, all things are possible. Therefore, if the man believes that Jesus can do this, Jesus will do it. He wants to heal the man’s son, but the healing results from an act of faith in the father that Jesus can do it.
He gives Jesus a far more appropriate, and honest, response than I think that I would have given Him in the same circumstances.
That’s been the prayer of our heart lately. We have had our world pretty much turned upside down the last 3 weeks or so. It seems like whenever we get our footing, the ground shakes or the next wave comes and crashes down upon us. But this verse, in the context of this story, has spoken to me all this time.
I mean, look at it. It seems like there is something wrong in it. The man is telling Jesus that he believes, but he wants Him to help his disbelief. He agrees that Jesus can heal his son, and knows He wants to do it, but a part of him still has a problem.
Where are you at in your life? Are you like Paul the apostle? Are you looking at every opportunity, good or bad, as one to demonstrate God’s love and Jesus’ power in your life? Or are you like the father who believes and refuses to live with his disbelief?
Or are you like me, and wondering where the next stop is on this train, because you’re tired of this ride and you want to get off?
See, it seems that I’ve forgotten life is a dress rehearsal for glory. God is perfecting me here and now, growing my character into Him more and more. He’s telling me, “I know you believe in Me, but I’m going to remove every last bit of unbelief.”
I’ll admit I get caught up in life a lot. I fall and miss the mark. Sometimes, I want to be able to worry about the finances and the kids and the vehicles and how am I going to get this and pay this and do this and make this work and…and…and….I have no idea why.
I don’t know why I want to obsess over those things, but I know I do. Sometimes, I don’t want to pray for someone else’s needs, because the things I’m going through seem so insurmountable. God wants me to focus on my brothers and sisters in Christ, but I’m having a hard time focusing past the hammer coming down on me NOW!
I admit it; sometimes I want to be selfish. I want to put my needs and my problems on the altar and not worry about anyone else. I want everyone else to go on hold and God just concentrate on this for me.
Then, I hear the voice of the father. And he is on his knees, begging the Healer to free his son from bondage to this evil spirit. And I begin to wonder about the other people who were around and had their own problems. I see those who looked down on the man, as if to tell him that his problems are because of some sin in his life.
I see a man who believes and wants his son healed. And I see that my life isn’t really about me, it’s about being an arrow to the One. I’m supposed to point the way; be a light in the darkness. I’m supposed to take up my cross and follow Him daily, because it’s the right thing to do. I’m supposed to grow in fear of the Lord, and in His knowledge.
Lord, I believe. Please, please help my unbelief. Help me to see Your hands moving behind the scenes; taking care of me in ways I can’t possibly fathom. Help me to see that you are creating in me a character and a heart like Your Son. I am growing and prospering in You. Help me to see that You have my life in hand, so that I can go and give it to others.
Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.
Be blessed in the Lord,
Friday, August 10, 2007
Do you understand what the word REDEEMED means? Do you understand what is included when we use that term? I wonder if any of us REALLY think about what redemption truly means.
Do you realize that forgiveness is not just some passing fad that God is REQUIRED to do? He is God; the Creator of the ENTIRE Universe. All of it, every iota, quark, muon, gluon, and subatomic particle came into being because He willed it.
Redemption and forgiveness are MORE than just words or concepts. It’s realizing that the same person who created the Universe so it would operate just so, made a provision for us in our humanity. Redemption is not a way for the church to keep us feeling guilty and ashamed and wringing money from our pockets.
Redemption means that someone who DIDN’T have to do so cleaned you up and accepted you as His own. It means that you and I have been accepted into a royal family.
I realized today (actually this week) that I have spent so much time telling God what I don’t have, that I forgot to tell Him what I do have and thank Him for what He has already given me.
And, unlike me, He still loves me for me and does everything He can to bless me. You know what I mean, right? For us, if someone doesn’t acknowledge what you do for them, we can hold a grudge. If someone continually came to me like I come to God, I would get tired of it and not do anything else for them.
I’d stop answering my phone, and I wouldn’t respond to their e-mails. I would avoid them at all costs and duck down the other aisle if I saw them in the store. If I saw them in church, I’d make excuses about who I had to go talk to, or act like I was really busy and had to leave.
But God doesn’t do any of that stuff. He just holds me. He takes my petty wants and desires and changes me so that they don’t much matter. And He doesn’t do it in some heavy-handed way. He just lets me turn off my selfishness on my own, by gently pointing it out to me.
Wow, I wish I could be more like that. I wish that the words that I spoke reflected more love for what He has done for me, instead of reminding Him of what He hasn’t given me yet. I wish that I could be more devoted to Him in my heart no matter what, instead of just when things are going well in my life.
Hey, you know what? It’s happening. Gee, I guess if I just let Him change me, and stop trying to do it on my own, maybe it’ll go smoother.
You tell me.
Be blessed in the Lord today,