Friday, November 21, 2008

Matthew 23:11-12 (NKJV)

Matthew 23:11-12 (NKJV)-“But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Jesus was speaking this to the scribes and the Pharisees of His day. He was teaching the multitudes and His disciples that the religious leaders of their day were not all that and a bag of chips.


We like getting attention don’t we? We like it when someone notices something we’ve done, or acknowledges that we went out of our way, don’t we?


Even if we tell ourselves that we shouldn’t seek the accolades of other people, we do it anyway. On some level, we WANT those around us to notice us and tell us, “Thanks for doing that! You did a great job!”


I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: we want mercy for ourselves and justice for everyone else.


We want others to pat us on the back. However, how often do we remember to turn the favor around and do that for someone else? How often do we tell those around us that we appreciate something they did for us?


How about someone in your family?


I don’t think this is more apparent anywhere than in our social groupings of family, whether they are close or extended. We expect everyone in our family to cater to us at times, but far be it from me to serve someone.


At work, you run around and do things and perform to the best of your abilities. Why? Ever hear of a little thing called a MERIT raise or a PERFORMANCE bonus? See, the world has conditioned us to raise the bar for our own standards, so that we can get more money out of it.


The more I work, the better I work, the more my raise will be; the bigger my end of the year bonus. You want that job? You’ve got to show your boss that you want it more than the other people in your department/division/group. You’ve got to perform! And the more people who see how well you perform, the better off you are in your workplace.


Jesus was radical. He suggested a different way. He says that if we want to get exaltation, we should submit ourselves not only to those perceived to be “above” us, but those who are on the same level as we are, and those “below” us.


Jesus wants us to follow a different standard; one that puts the needs of others out in front of our own. It’s a different way of doing life, and sometimes it stinks.


Come on; don’t look at this like I just wrote out the mother of all curse words there. You know in your heart of hearts that I’m telling the truth. We all do it. You are not gonna leave me alone to dangle in the wind on this one!


When we do stuff, we want to be acknowledged. Even if it’s just a pat on the back in affirmation, it helps. I want to know that my sacrifice has been noticed and accepted.


The only problem, in my opinion, is that the ultimate sacrifice has already been made. Nothing I do can even come close to that!


I realize, as usual, there are some of you that don’t wrassle with the same issues that I do, and I accept you in your perfection. Please don’t waste your time with correcting me and reminding me of how far I need to go in my Christian walk. I only hope that you can continue to be patient as God works out his righteousness through my life.


I need to remember that I am not the only person who feels the way I do. So, when I feel slighted when no one notices something I did, I need to step back and assess the situation. Am I upset because no one patted me on the head and gave me a treat because I performed a trick? Or am I hurt that my actions were noticed and obtained a rebuke or harsh word because I didn’t do it the way someone thought I should have?


If it’s the first part, I need to step back and ask myself, “Am I good at encouraging others? When was the last time I gave someone an uplifting word for something they did for me?”


If it’s the second, I also need to take a gander at my life as well. Only this time, I need to see how scathing a beat down I gave someone because they did something I didn’t ask them to in order to help me, and they did it in a completely different way than I would have.


Did I thank them for their effort, or did I chastise them because they obviously didn’t pay attention to what they were doing? Did I exalt their servant’s heart, or berate their lack of attention to detail?


It’s interesting how things look when compared in the lens of our own experiences. I want to believe that I do everything that I complain about everyone else not doing. I want to believe that everyone is just not as perfected as I am now. I want to believe….


Oh, hi Jesus. You want to talk to me? Umm, how did I get myself up on this pedestal like this? Uh oh, this could be bad…..


Be blessed in the Lord today.


Bo J.

Friday, November 14, 2008

1 Timothy 6:6-7 (NKJV)

1 Timothy 6:6-7 (NKJV)-“Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.”

Paul, the apostle, wrote this letter to his young disciple Timothy. Timothy was trying to steer the newly founded church at Ephesus, fighting against false teachings and devious ministers.

He also wrote this to me. I’ve been on a downer lately; so let’s see if we can spice things up a bit, shall we?

I have Jesus. I am saved, filled with the Holy Spirit, and blessed beyond measure. Am I happy? I think that is a resounding NO. Am I content? Ah….now that is the question we should be asking.

You see, we tend to get this confused at times. Happiness and contentment are two completely different animals. They are at opposite ends of the spectrum as far as our Christian walk is concerned.

Happiness is derived from our EMOTIONS. It comes from how we feel; and that can change day in and day out. If I am looking for happiness every day from my Christian walk, chances are that I’m not gonna find it.

Now hold on…don’t stone me yet! Let me finish. First of all, remember something; this is my OPINION. If you are receiving it, you asked for it. I’m not pushing this as gospel. I’m telling you the interpretation in my spirit from my walk with God.

Now, I can be happy without ever being content. Happiness, as I said before, is based on your emotions. It requires an external stimulus to evoke that response in your body. The only problem, as I see it, is that what makes you happy one day may be entirely different than what makes you happy the next day.

You may have some completely different experiences that bring you happiness from one hour to the next. You can be happy if you win the lottery, and then sad when you realize how much money your Uncle Sam is going to remove from your winnings. The same object (money) has brought about both feelings of happiness and sorrow.

You can be happy about having sexual relations with a good looking woman (or guy if you’re a girl). But that happiness, because it’s based on external motivations, will only last for so long. If you’re just looking for the “next, best thing”, there will always be one out there. You’ll always be comparing the one you’re with to the next one.

Contentment is completely different. It approaches from the aspect that life is fleeting. As the Scripture states, I didn’t bring anything with me, and I can’t take anything with me. I’ll leave the world exactly as I came in. The only question now is: will my life make a difference in the world?

God provides for my basic needs. Yes, I have a job and make a wage. However, it is God who gave me the talent to perform my job and allowed me to obtain the wage that I make. It is NOT me; it is Him working through me.

Beyond my basic needs, what do I have that is a requirement? My relationship with God, that’s what. God created me ultimately to bring Him glory. You can argue that all you want, but that’s how I feel. God doesn’t need me to keep Him company; He doesn’t need me to help Him run the universe.

He created me because it pleased Him to do so, and I bring glory to His name by the way I live my life. By the same token, so do you. We are all here to glorify God’s name in the universe.

Godliness is described as the characteristics of God as shown in our lives. Contentment is my acceptance of God’s will in my life. No matter what happens in my life, I should be content in God because He is my all in all. If all I am looking for God to do in my life is give me the next greatest thing, my faith is on shaky ground indeed.

Now, once again, I ask you to be patient with me.

This doesn’t mean that God doesn’t bless me with stuff. On the contrary, He flits about the world, looking specifically for things that He knows will set Willie Bo Jr. on fire. He knows I especially like techno gadgets and electronics and stuff….man!

He gets me things I never dreamed I could have. And he gives me understanding of their workings and designs. If you don’t believe me, ask my family. If I suddenly die or become incapacitated, every technological gadget in this house, from computers to iPods would fall into disuse and disrepair.

God blesses you and me with stuff; He just doesn’t want our stuff to be the basis of our relationship with Him. He wants us to be content with Him, and realize the stuff is just a blessing from Him to us. If the stuff becomes an idol that we worship instead of Him, He’ll repo it in a heartbeat, reminding you where you should be focused.

Oh, this is not something we are innately born to do; it’s something we have to learn. We immediately seek gratification for our every urge, instead of being content where we are in life. It’s something we all have, and it’s something we all have to learn to deal with.

I thank God for the help of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit in this fight. I know I can’t, and most likely wouldn’t, do it on my own. Being content means putting my life in proper perspective with relation to my God. It doesn’t depend on whether it’s sunny or cloudy; wet or dry; hot or cold.

It doesn’t depend on whether I have the latest and greatest or fastest or biggest or most ornate or loudest or any of that junk. It depends on how I view my God and His blessings.

So, let’s make a deal that we’ll start out trying to be content. Use verse 6, its short enough. If you find that you are slipping into selfishness or happiness or sadness or whatever EMOTIONAL responses remind yourself of this verse with promise. Tell yourself that your current situation doesn’t depend on what you have, but Who you know.

Remind the greed and self-centeredness (that we all have to deal with) that you serve a bigger God than stuff. And remind them that God can give and God can take away, but His name will always be blessed in your life.

Go ahead, try it. Circumstances come and go, but God is always right there and right on time.

Be blessed in the Lord today,

Bo J.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Lamentations 3:25-26 (NKJV)

Lamentations 3:25-26 (NKJV)-“The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.”

Those are some hard verses to swallow sometimes, aren’t they? Come on; don’t be all heroic on me, we both know that this can be really tested in our lives.

And it’s not even the fact that I disbelieve that the Lord is good. I do believe that nugget. Yesterday, a friend of mine was having a really bad day and had received some horrible news relating to their job. I talked with this person and prayed with this person.

I said some things that really surprised me. One of the most poignant was that we really need to grasp that God really does love us. We are cupped in His hands at all times. And I said that to this person and then said that God just wants to know if we believe Him.

God has you cupped in His hands right now. Do you believe Him? I’m not asking you to believe me; I’m asking you to believe Him.

It’s hard to fathom, what with our lives the way they are right now, huh? I mean, we can spout off platitudes all day. At the end of the day, however, do you still hope and wait quietly for the Lord?

Who is your God? What is He capable of doing in your life? In my head knowledge, I know that God is sovereign. He is the Supreme Creator, and my Lord. He made a way for me to be reconciled back to Him because I’m flawed; imperfect. He took someone who was a sinner, and made him a saint.

He validated my life with His own Son.

In my head, I know this. In my heart, sometimes, life intrudes. The storm comes. I’m the man on the cork with a cross stuck in the middle of it, in the middle of a hurricane. And I hear the maddeningly still, small voice of God saying to me, “I have you cupped in my hands even now. Do you believe Me?”

Part of me wants to scream yes, just like part of you does right now. But another part, a part more like the scared animal, wants to scream NO! Not till you get me out of this.

The storms come to test the foundations. God could dismiss the storms with a thought. He could dissipate the hurricane with but a breath from His lips. But would you learn to trust in Him? Would you know that He has you cupped in His hands right now? Would you believe Him?

Those of you who have children know that sometimes the best teacher is experience. You can warn your child and warn them and warn them. But sometimes, as hard as it is to fathom, you have to let them stick the fork in there and realize that you’re not just whistling Dixie at them. It doesn’t mean you love them any less, does it?

Why then, when stuff comes and God says, “Trust Me,” do we feel the need to rush around and fix it? What happened to waiting quietly on the Lord?

We can’t even wait at a traffic light. How many times do you creep up on a red light in anticipation of it turning green so you can get through the intersection first? Don’t lie!

Our society has helped us to turn our faith in God into a microwave meal. We will be patient until our internal timer goes off. Then you’re done! If God hasn’t acted in 90 seconds, we have the assumption that He’s not gonna act at all.

Oh, don’t worry. This is only for a select group of people, including me. I’m sure the bulk of you have this patience thing under control, right? You can just whistle through anything. I see you at church just breezing through, telling everyone how joyous and great life is and all.

Does that penetrate from the outside to the inside?

I admit that I’m number one in need of this lesson; ask my wife. So I’m not asking you to do something that I have already mastered. We’re in this walk together. You see how it affects me-I can barely keep up with our e-mails anymore!

I figure I have one thing going for me, though. I can still hear that voice talking to me. “Bo, I have you cupped in My hands right now. Do you believe Me?”

There was a time when I didn’t hear the voice, and didn’t care. So, as long as I have something to strive toward, I’m doing well. I’m learning to wait quietly and patiently (yeah, I know, I REALLY need to work on the QUIETLY part) on the Lord.

Shhh….can you hear the mountains tremble? Can you hear the voice that sounds like thunder?

“I know what you’re going through. I have you cupped in My hands right now. Do you believe Me?”

Well?

Be blessed in the Lord today,

Bo J.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV)

Isaiah 26:3-“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”

I’m still trying to tread water.

I believed what Jesus said, that I could walk on water just like Him. So, I got out of the boat. That was a big mistake.

I can’t.

I can’t even begin to tell you how embarrassing this is for me. I can’t believe that I even have to write this down, but here it is for everyone to see. I can’t do it. I lost my focus.

Please understand, I still have faith; I still believe and know that Jesus is Lord and He can do whatever He wants. I’m just slipping away.

I’m losing hope. I’m losing my lifeline. I’m hanging by that proverbial thread, and it’s unraveling quickly. I can sit here watching it, fiber by fiber.

See, I feel like I’m some great huge puppet being jerked around by the great puppet master. He’s not being mean or hateful; he’s just trying to entertain himself and his friends. In the end, the show will be over and I’ll just go back into the trunk.

That’s how I feel, but it’s not what I believe.

See, I believe that what I consider perfect peace, and what God considers perfect peace are two COMPLETELY different things. And one of us needs to change our focus.

I believe that fear is a killer, but it doesn’t come at you all at once, like the boogeyman or a serial killer with a gleaming blade or a gun.

No, fear gnaws away at you. It eats away a little at a time. Then one day, you wake up, and you realize how much fear has actually taken away from you. It’s like the story about how you boil a frog. You don’t immediately throw it in the hot water; you put it in cool water and heat it up slowly so it doesn’t know what’s happening.

Only thing is, I’m not a frog; and I know what’s happening. Why am I still here? I know one reason, and I’m scared to say it as well.

Maybe I don’t believe as much as I think I do. Maybe I’m still walking in sight and not by faith. Maybe my entire life in Christ is built on what He’s done for me, instead of what He means to me.

Maybe I’m just not what I think I am. Maybe I should just give up; I mean, if I don’t have hope, what’s left?

Shhh….did you hear that? It’s a smooth, silky voice. I can’t quite make out what he’s saying though. He’s elusive, like a breeze. I heard him loudly earlier, but then I started telling God honestly how I felt.

Wait, where’d he go?

My heart still has a burden, but it’s not near as heavy as it was earlier. The voice is not nearly as strong.

You know, I’m starting to realize that the voice I heard wasn’t comforting me. It was reminding me that next week is coming and it’s going to be miserable. I’m going to have such a bad week, and I might as well just quit.

Where’d that other voice go? Okay; I started this out by just talking to God. I told Him where I was at and what I thought. I’m weak and frail and I wanted Him to know that so He could kinda……understand……

I remember now. I remember when He first met me a long time ago. I talked to Him in my kitchen in a house we had over 10 years ago. I had reached the end and had nowhere else to go. I wasn’t looking for Him, but He had been waiting for me my whole life.

He told me that if I wanted to, He would take over my life for me. He said it wouldn’t be easy, but it would be worth it. He said He’d never leave me, even when it seemed like He had done just that in my life.

And then He showed me my life behind me. The beach, the sandy beach…and the single solitary set of footprints; Him carrying me because I couldn’t go any further.

I’m on the beach again, and I look down. I see one lone set of feet carrying me, and I feel strong arms holding me close. I look up and see that face, the face of my Lord, and there is no awkwardness or discontent. There is only love.

I’m ashamed, so ashamed. I’m hurt that I can’t even go for a little bit without falling to my knees in weakness and insecurity. I can’t stop thinking about myself and what the world will do to me. I can’t stop crying.

He doesn’t care. He just smiles at me. We’ve stopped.

I look around at the desolate beach, and see how close we are to the water. I look out, and I see a storm brewing. I see a tiny boat out there, with some other friends I know. They are at the end; they want Jesus, but they can’t get to him. They’re trapped in the boat.

Jesus sets me down, and looks lovingly at me. Then He asks me, “Can I get you to go with me out there and rescue them? They need to see Me in someone else’s life so they know they’re not alone.”

But….how would I get out there?

He grabs my hand, and starts to take a step off the beach, into the water.

I’m hesitant. What if I fall again and someone sees me?

"Keep your eyes on Me; you’ll be okay. I promise. Focus on Me, and you can even walk on the water.”

I’m still scared.

He looks at me with a knowing twinkle in His eyes. He’s God, He knows how I feel. He wants me to stop feeling, and start trusting.

I’m taking the step.

Be blessed in the Lord today,

Bo J.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Zechariah 4:6 (NKJV)

Zechariah 4:6b (NKJV)-“’Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the LORD of hosts.’”

This verse has been running around in my head for a couple of weeks now. I don’t know why it has affected me so much. I guess it’s just that so much has gone on lately in my life and in the world around me, that it’s just easy to lose sight of what’s important.

I thought once that if I’m a child of the Most High God, He should answer my prayers; all of them. I mean, I’m deserving of it, right? I’m His kid, and He loves me and wants what is best for me, right?

I also thought that it would make trials a lot easier to go through if I had a defined start and end time to them. No matter how long it went, if I knew that it would end on THIS date I could make it okay.

Don’t laugh at me; don’t you dare. If you were honest enough with yourself, you know that you’d admit it too.

I mean, wouldn’t it be great if God would just come to you and tell you…

“Hey, Bo, I’m glad you’re here. I need to talk to you.”

Oh, hi God. Umm….I’m right in the middle of my verse posting for the week. I guess its okay though; You are the God of the Universe!

“Yeah….anyway. You’ve got some stuff coming up next week at work, and you know that the women in the house are due in the next couple of days…”

Wow. Umm….that’s kind of like not really a lot of time to prepare God.

“What do you mean?”

I mean, couldn’t you have given me some warning in advance?

“I thought I was just now.”

No, I meant like a couple of weeks ago. See, if You had told me then, I could have put it in my calendar on my handheld and in my phone. It would have given me some time to get extra Bible study in and really bulk up for this stuff.

“Really?”

Yeah, and see now, you’ve hit me with this here, and I’m trying to get the memory verse out, and I’ve got to iron Sammy’s pants…oh my gosh! We’ve got to take her to downtown Knoxville tonight for a school concert! I can’t enjoy it if I know that I’m going to be having troubles next week!

“But you’ve got Me.”

Well, yeah. But you could’ve let me know that this was going to happen, so I could have gotten a little closer. You know, study up some.

“But you’ve still got Me. You can’t do this on your own; that’s why I’m here.”

Right, I understand that. But now, I just can’t focus. I can’t even think straight knowing that You’re gonna put this on me. Hey, I got it! Why don’t you give me an extra week to prepare? I’m sure that there is another family that’s more than ready to get some trials thrown at them.

“I’m gonna pretend I didn’t even hear that.”

But God….

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Does it look stupid written down? It does, right? But we do it all the time. We treat God not like the Creator of the Universe who bridged the gap between us and Him. We forget that we were separated from Him because of our sins, and so He voluntarily bridged the gap that we couldn’t.

Nope, we treat Him like a servant. We treat Him like an ATM. We got our PIN number from the Bible, and we only want Him around when something is happening or when we need something. We just want to come up to the machine, stick in our card, get out what we need, and then just walk away.

We don’t seem to realize that our account is in the red. We are way, way, overdrawn.

I can’t do anything on my own. My might and my power can’t accomplish diddly-squat. Why do I continue to rely on them to get me through? Why do I continue to believe that I can dictate to God how He interacts with me?

We all know that if God told us we were going to go through something, the first thing we’d do is try to negotiate our way out of it. Next, we’d talk about this person, or that person; how THEY don’t go through near as much as we do in our life. Next, we might succumb, but we’d want to know how long it was going to go on. Why?

If you knew a trial was going to last 3 weeks, you’d whine at 2 weeks 5 days because you’d think this had gone on long enough and you didn’t need to prove yourself any longer.

It comes down to pride. We want to be able to say we did it ourselves; we pulled ourselves up by our own bootstraps. We want to be able to talk about what we accomplished instead of what God accomplished through us.

We want the power and glory to be ours; we just want God to be the battery.

I hope this makes sense to you, because it does and it doesn’t to me. Does because when you see this stupid theory written down in plain words, you understand how ignorant it is. And doesn’t because no matter how dumb it looks, I know that I think this way a lot.

The way and the truth and the light and the might and the power and everything else are not mine. They are God’s. He is just using me as His symbol on Earth. I am just His expressed glory and love on this ball of dirt.

I don’t know what’ll happen today, tomorrow, or next week. But I know Someone who does. And He’ll take care of it, the same as He did yesterday, today, and forever.

He has never left me nor forsaken me; and He has never forced me to beg for His love or protection. Instead of demanding He do this, we should be thankful He has already done that.

We need to remember that it’s not us, but Him.

Thanks to all of you who talk to me and are honest about what’s going on in your lives. It helps me to be more open and honest with you. We are all going through things. It may not be the same as everyone else’s, but the answer to it all is.

He said it’s “by My Spirit.” The tests may be different, but the answer key is all the same. You don’t have to guess. You just have to believe that He is who He says and that He loves you with an unsurpassed love.

Be blessed in the Lord today,

Bo J.

Monday, September 29, 2008

1 Sam 3:18 (NKJV)

1 Samuel 3: 18 (NKJV)-“…And he (Eli) said, ‘It is the LORD. Let Him do what seems good to Him.’”

Okay, I’m back.

I resisted this long enough. It seems fitting that this starts back on a Monday, because I have had the mother of all Mondays. I think this is by far the worst Monday I have ever had in my entire 42 years of existence.

But God is still God.

I have run; I have walked; I have hidden, and I have cowered. No matter where I went, however, God was there. No matter what I did, God was right there beside me.

He is here even today, on the worst Monday of my life.

I emphasize this day because no matter how bad it seems to me, God will bring me through this, as He has every trial and tribulation before this one. He will escort me through this Monday, and I will barely remember it a couple of days from now.

I look back on these devotionals, and I remember that, no matter how bad I thought they were, if I put it out, someone read it and it touched them. I forgot that for a while. We get so much inbox junk, and I just didn’t think I should add to it.

I see so many other devotionals out there that seem head and shoulders above this little bit of drivel that I try to write, and it feels so…inadequate. But God kept being persistent, “Let Me be the Judge of that.”

Jesus used a parable in the Bible talking about a man who planted wheat in his field, and an enemy of his came and planted tares. The tare is a form of rye-grass that is indistinguishable from wheat until it fully ripens. It is also poisonous.

Today, on Monday, I want to admit to you all that I have been planting tares in my life. God has been using me to sow His fields with wheat, to feed His people in my own way. But lately, each time He planted a wheat seed, I planted a tare. And today, Monday, I look back at my field, and I am ashamed.

I want to cry, again. I just want God to give up on me and leave me to rot, because I don’t deserve all that He does for me. I just want to give up.

Jesus is here now. He is trying to wipe my tears away, but I don’t want Him too. I don’t feel that I am worthy of His love anymore. I’ve let Him down completely; again.

Wait; He’s speaking to me. What do you mean? I planted poisonous seeds where you planted good ones. I’ve ruined this field.

Oh my…who is that?

It’s my wife, and my daughters. They are bundling up the tares and setting them aside to burn. Teresa is out there, and so are Treva, and Mike, and Jennifer, and Randy, Dan, and a host of others. They are in MY field burning MY tares.

I want to yell at them; tell them to stop. It’s my fault the field is ruined. You don’t need to be in my field, go to someone else’s; someone who is more deserving. Jesus is talking to me again. He reminds me to let Him do what seems good to Him.

They want my wheat; who am I to deprive them of it.

I thank you for being there for me, my friends. And I ask those of you are reading this, to look out on your field. What are you planting? Are you planting good seed, or tares? No matter what goes on in our lives; no matter how many Mondays we have, God is still God.

Tomorrow, this day will not even exist again, forever. Don’t dwell on it. Let it go, as my family likes to say. God is still sovereign and He still reigns. No matter how I feel, it doesn’t affect my salvation. It doesn’t affect my standing with Him…and more importantly, it doesn’t affect yours either.

Let it go.

Well, I’ve got stuff to do now. See, when I stopped looking at the bad and started looking at God, He reminded me that ultimately I work for Him. Oh, and He’s given me another bag…this one is full of wheat seeds.

I’ve got some work to do. You wanna help? There’s plenty to go round. And the harvest is coming sooner than we think.

Let’s plant some life together.

Be blessed in the Lord today, and always,

Bo J.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Hebrews 6:17-18 (NIRV)

Hebrews 6:17-18 (NIRV)-“So God took an oath when he made his promise. He wanted to make it very clear that his purpose does not change. He wanted those who would receive what was promised to know that. God took an oath so we would have good reason not to give up. We have run away from everything else to take hold of the hope offered to us in God's promise. So God gave his promise and his oath. Those two things can't change. He couldn't lie about them. “

Yesterday was my birthday, again. I turned 42 and it was a great day. My family went out of their way to make sure that I didn’t have to do anything and that NOTHING interfered with my birthday.

The world conspired to work against them, but they persevered through to the end. They promised themselves that, no matter what, they were going to the best they could to help me enjoy my birthday.

My wife had a doctor’s appointment yesterday as well. Her multiple sclerosis (MS) is advancing. She is becoming very forgetful, because of all the lesions spreading across her brain. She is, to put it bluntly, not encouraged by all this news. But she made sure that I had a good day.

My 20 year old daughter decided that yesterday, my birthday, was the day she finally desired to move out of the apartment she has had the entire month of May to vacate. Her boyfriend, that she had my grandson by, is not lifting a finger to help her.

We begged her not to align her life with his in that way, but what can be done? She is considered an adult and can make her own decisions. The rest of the family (my wife and 3 daughters still at home) were very upset. Not just because she decided to do this ON MY BIRTHDAY, but because she also refused to even tell me happy birthday.

They chose to run interference for me, and did not allow her to monopolize any of my day. My wife even went so far as to rent her a storage shed for six months so that she would have a place to store her things that she could get to whenever she wanted, as opposed to storing them in our home. But she didn’t let me move a finger of the items still left in her apartment.

My Bible study yesterday was about the fact that God doesn’t change. It referenced the two verses above, and related the fact that God can’t change. He can’t change because to change means a fundamental shift in the way something is to something it is not.

There is nothing that God is not, except evil. He is good, just; righteous, holy, pure, loving, attentive, compassionate, kind….the list goes on and on. God cannot change, because there is nothing about Him that needs to change. He is God. If He were to change, it would mean either that something in Him was incomplete, or something in Him was flawed.

He has neither of those problems.

I’m still not were I want to be spiritually, physically, financially or emotionally. You know what though? I have hope. My situation can change, because my God has sent me His promise (oath) and His word. I can see that God has never left me and has not forsaken me, and His word confirms it. He tells me that I am His child, no matter what happens, as long as I follow and believe on Him.

My body may be falling apart, but He is my rock solid standard. My life may be coming down around my ears, but He is unchanging. Though the world is on fire around me, I am not consumed.

The word the Bible uses for this character of God is IMMUTABLE. Webster’s dictionary defines this as “Not mutable; not capable or susceptible of change; unchangeable; unalterable.” It even goes so far as to cite as an example verse 18 above.

I can be changed or altered depending on my circumstances. I can be affected, if I choose to allow it, by the things that go on around me. Or I can stake my claim in the One who sent His Son to die for me, that through Him I might obtain a better promise; a better life.

God made a promise to me, and He won’t back out on His promise. Then, just to make sure that I understood where He was coming from; He took His promises and spoke them through His Word (Jesus Christ).

What promise has God made to you today? What threads are unraveling from your life that you need to look back to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith? (Heb 12:2-NKJV)

I realize this may not mean anything to you right now, but it might one day. That day may be sooner than you think. Grab hold of God’s word and study it. Get His promises in your life and into your spirit. Grow closer to Him, so that as things around you change and rearrange, you have an anchor. As the storms of life rage, you have a lighthouse beacon shining to you in the darkness.

Grab hold of a promise to change your life, from the One whose life has never changed because it doesn’t have to. Don’t give up, because you don’t have to-ever.

Be blessed in the Lord today,

Bo J.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Matthew 7:13-14 (NKJV)

Matthew 7:13-14 (NKJV)-“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

What do you think of when you see the word
narrow? Does it conjure up images of tight, constrictive places with no room to get by? Does it make you feel claustrophobic just thinking about it? I think it’s very significant that Jesus uses this term when He is discussing the way to eternal life.

See, a lot of us are spiritually obese. We are fat in spiritual realm. We don’t do enough holy exercising by walking with God, and so we have become a lot of biblical couch potatoes.

Don’t look around at everyone else, because I’m not. I’m looking straight into the mirror at my big fat self!

If you have a personal doctor, you probably get somewhat regular check-ups and at least a yearly physical. You cringe when he asks you about your exercising, don’t you? You know you just never get around to it. You have good intentions, but somehow, it always seems to slip to the back; out of sight, out of mind.

God, the great physician, gives you check-ups also. He allows you to go through trials and tribulations. He even promised that you would in His word….oh yeah, you don’t know that do you? You haven’t really been IN His word enough to find that out.

God knows that, given the choice, we are going to become spiritually fat and lazy. He knows that we don’t exercise enough. He’s smarter than your primary care physician, so don’t think you’re getting over on either of them. God knows you’re not walking with Him, just like your PCP knows you’re not exercising 4-5 times a week as you told him.

That’s why it’s easier for us to take the broad gate, isn’t it? The broad gate doesn’t require much out of our lives. We can do that easily and just waddle along, going our merry way. Occasionally, there are food stands along the way too. They are the snares and traps of the world. These stands fill the void, but only temporarily.

See, as you get further down the broad path, the food stands become more numerous and start giving bigger portions of the things you want to partake. They have to; as you go further on the broad path, it takes more to satisfy your inner lusts and desires, and so the enemy will gladly expand his offerings to you.

Oh, you know that you’re on the wrong path alright. You know that you need to stop and drop right where you’re at and give God a spiritual 20 push-ups. But you’re kind of winded and out of shape. You’re frustrated that you can’t even give Him one push-up, so you say, “I’ll try again tomorrow morning when I’m fresh” or “Well, I give up. I can’t do this, it’s too hard.”

This path that you’re on, it only leads to one place. You can make excuses and try and fool yourself all you want, but it’s the truth. There is only one place this path leads. A deep, dark well from which there is no escape.

But, you know the wonderful thing about God? He knows this about you. And, just like the Bible says, He has made a way of escape. As a matter of fact, He has given you a personal training staff. Jesus is the head of the gym; and the Holy Spirit is your own personal trainer.

See, if you let Them, They will craft a training regimen specifically tailored to your spiritual body profile. It will push you to your limits, but it won’t be anything you can’t accomplish. And, just like any good gym personnel, They will always be available to answer your questions about any of the exercises you are performing.

They can cure the “Why should I tithe?” gut. They can help tone and define you through “small group therapy”. They can get rid of the flabby arms from “I don’t really want to serve”. They can give you the six-pack of spiritual abs you’ve been looking for in life.

You just have to walk through the doors of the gym. I’m gonna warn you though, the entryway is pretty narrow. You’ll look at it, and then down at your body, and think, “There is NO way I’m gonna fit through those doors!”

Don’t worry, you’ll fit. And, while you’re in there exercising, you’ll find that those food stands on the outside are only selling stinky garbage; not healthy, wholesome stuff. And you know what else? You can give some of your friends a guest card to come visit. When they see how fit and fabulous looking you are becoming, they are surely going to want to exercise at your gym as well.

Don’t be shy, it’s okay. We all had to start somewhere. Put down the tub of ice cream; there’s a treadmill here right next to mine. Once you get on and get started, you won’t want to get off.

Come on, step inside. Don’t worry about paying your membership fees, either. Someone else has already done it for you. He paid your dues. You’ll be current with the owner, God, forever. You just have to grab a copy of the contract and sign it (Romans 10:9-10). The wonderful thing about it is that you can sign it right where you’re at, right now. Then, all you need to go and find a gym to work-out in.

Come on, join in. It’ll be worth it.

Be blessed in the Lord today,

Bo J.

Friday, March 21, 2008

1 Peter 3:15 (NKJV)

1 Peter 3:15 (NKJV)-“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear…”

First of all, I’m sorry I didn’t write anything last week. My wife and I have both been sick, and it’s been miserable. I didn’t feel like doing anything last weekend. I only say this because I get questions about it, some erroneously thinking that their e-mail ate my verse or something like that. I appreciate the fact that you care.

So, we’re here to another Easter weekend. I don’t mean to make light of the sanctity and holiness of this particular weekend, but for a Christian, EVERY day should be Easter. Every day should be a celebration of our Savior and what He did for us on Calvary.

I’ve been thinking about this all week while I was at work (both days-heehee!) I got an urge yesterday to just start questioning the guy I was partnered with about what he was doing this weekend. I was going to see if he was going to be in town and tell him that he needed to come to the church for the Easter play and everything.

I really felt the need to get at him. The voice was adamant that I take him to task, and not give him any relief until I had made my point. Then I heard another, less shrill voice. It talked to me about the fact that, yes, my partner did need to go to church. But, I needed to be careful because I had already been in trouble on the job for proselytizing (talking about my faith) before.

See, there doesn’t seem to be room in the workplace anymore to talk with people openly about Jesus. If they ask, I consider it fair game, but you can’t just bring it up because you are being perceived as forcing your views on your co-workers. So, as I said, I already have a letter in my file for answering questions I was asked, which I am going to do.

Anyway, as I sat there with my co-worker, I wrestled with what I was going to do. I was embarrassed about even having had this discussion inside myself. What would be the worst he could do? Get me written up again quite possibly, with some additional unpaid time off.

So, I didn’t say anything to him about the Easter play.

Then, I remembered that I had already taken in some of the tickets into work with the show-times for the play on them. One of my other co-workers had already asked about it, and wanted to see about getting his family back into church. He thought this would be a good time, and he knew about my faith, so he talked to me.

I also remembered that they all considered me a Bible thumper. I didn’t have to advertise my faith, they all knew about it from the way I talked when they asked me questions. I didn’t preach to anyone, they knew what they wanted to of the gospel story. I just tried to live my life and they drew conclusions based on that.

Okay, I know, I know. You’re wondering where all this is going. As I said, I’ve been sick, so I’m not sure my thought processes are back up to snuff yet.

What it means to me is that we, as Christians, need to just be there for people. In this day and age, it’s hard for me to fathom someone in the United States of America not knowing something about the gospel story. I know that might seem like a cop-out, but hold on. I think we need to concentrate more on having our defense ready for the hope that is in us, than our club ready to beat the living heck out of people who don’t know Jesus.

Our pastor has been doing a series in church called “Just walk across the room.” It means, ultimately, to just try and be a friend to unsaved people; to be someone that reaches out to them. Get to know someone and show them you care; be a friend to someone who needs one. Then, let the Spirit guide you. If you are to broach the subject of salvation to them, you will know.

How many times has something happened in your life that you were really glad you had Jesus on your side? Now, imagine that person you took the time talking to, even once, seeing that time in your life and seeing the hope that you have.

Then, imagine the bottom falling out of their life. My God being who He is, I don’t think He’s gonna waste a hurt. It may be you that they come to, asking a simple question that blossoms into the gospel story. It may be the next person they meet.

I think we get too enamored with being the person who has to plant the seed in everyone. The Bible says that some plant, some water, some tend, but Jesus gets the crop. We are too worried about notching our belts with salvations to care about PEOPLE.

I want to care about the people I meet; everyone I meet, including the guy who is obnoxious to me and pretends to be a know-it-all. I want to be care about the guy who doesn’t seem to be able to put a coherent sentence together without cementing it with profanity at the beginning, middle, and end.

I want to care about the people I meet who have wronged me for no reason, other than we just don’t seem to get along, even though they have no idea why we don’t just get along. I’m not talking about tossing aside my beliefs; I’m talking about living them in life so visibly that no one has a question that I am a child of God.

So when they come to me, at that crucial moment in their life when they are really open to God, that I will be ready to talk to them and give them a reason for my hope. I’ve got my testimony down and my reasoning ready. I can proudly tell them how my new relationship with Jesus has given me faith and courage and strength in this world of uncertainty, pain, and death.

We’re all Jesus farmers. Some of us till the soil, helping to break up the huge clods of dirt. Some of us dig the small hole for the seed; some of us plant the seed. Some of us water and tend the crop as it grows. Sometimes we are different things at different times. We need to be ready at whatever stage of planting we find ourselves in with a particular situation.

We can’t make the crop grow, however. We can only help it along. Be there for someone next week. Remember in your life, God met you just where you were at and brought you home. He may have used someone else physically, or you may have just been prayed for by someone else you will never meet.

Don’t stutter; have your reason ready in your heart and secure in your mind. So when the question comes up about the faith of your life, you can be passionate about it. It’s not about you changing everyone you meet; it’s about everyone you meet seeing the change that has been made in you and wanting it for themselves.

Don’t put so much pressure on your shoulders. God doesn’t; He trusts you to speak for Him in due time and due season. Be ready.

Be blessed in the Lord today,

Bo J.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Numbers 24:12-13 (NKJV)

Numbers 24:12-13 (NKJV)-“So Balaam said to Balak, ‘Did I not also speak to your messengers whom you sent to me saying, “If Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the word of the LORD, to do good or bad of my own will. What the LORD says, that I must speak”?’”

Be patient with me this morning. This is one of those ones were I kind of tell on myself. If it runs a little long, I’m sorry. I really didn’t know what I was going to write about today. I was floundering. That is until I took my youngest daughter down to the bus stop this morning….

My wife had made mention that there were some new kids at the stop this week, and they were very quiet children. She said that she, and another mother who walk down during the week spoke to them, but all they got in return were nodding heads. No words, nothing.

So, I walked Sammy down today. I gave her the option of getting a ride with me in the truck, since it was pouring down rain. I didn’t really want to walk her down, and I thought if I offered her a ride she’d take it. At the last minute, she decided to catch the bus instead.

So, we saddled up and walked down to the stop. We got there and were being silly, when the two new kids were dropped off. Now, remember, I’ve been told all morning how these kids didn’t respond when my wife talked to them, and she is a small white woman. I had no intention, being a large black guy, of pushing them or trying to engage them at all. I didn’t think they’d take to me.

Yes, some of you can already see where this is going.

It’s raining, remember? The new kids get out of the car, and run across the street to the bus stop. They come up on the curb and don’t say anything to either me or Sammy. Then I hear, “Say good morning.”

Oh, hi God. Were you not listening to Becky this morning telling me about her experiences with these kids? They didn’t speak to her. I’m liable to just scare them.

“I didn’t ask you all that. I just asked you to say good morning.”

I’ve been hit over the head with the spiritual 2x4 enough times in my life to realize, sometimes, it’s better just to do it and not argue. So, I looked at the new kids, took a deep breath, and gave my best “Good morning!” to them.

The floodgates opened.

I learned more in that 5 minutes with those kids than my wife had all week. I even coaxed them under the umbrella with Sammy, so they wouldn’t be standing there getting wet. I learned that the little girl has another brother besides the one at the bus stop, and both of them are autistic. And it’s a form of autism that my wife, in her job as a teaching assistant, deals with each and every day. She found that VERY interesting.

I learned that the person who invented the Pokémon card game was autistic as well; and he had the same form as her brother at the bus stop, and as the kids that my wife deals with.

But most of all, I learned that God can use you in any capacity He likes, as long as you speak what He says. I learned that I can be what God wants me to be, not what I see in the mirror. This morning, I was a friend to two kids, who I figured would be too scared to even stand with me at a bus stop.

I got back to the house, and told the story of what happened at the bus stop. My wife and my two other daughters were amazed. My wife was shocked, especially when I told her about the brothers. She’s already refining how she can deal with them come Monday; I could tell by the way she was looking. Then Kaitlyn, my 11 year old, said something that really jolted me. She said, “Gee, I bet that was a smack in the back of the head, wasn’t it Dad?”

Time stopped for me. I’m starting to cry again. I’m sorry. She had no idea why she said that; but I did.

See, I’m supposed to be performing in our church’s kid’s program this weekend. I got the script on Thursday. The director wants me to do a different part than I normally do, and it has a lot longer script. I didn’t think I could memorize it all by Saturday.

Then, I started thinking about how this was just getting tougher to do. And that, come summer time, I was probably going to back out for a while to get my bearings and do something else. I was really trying to do too much, and that script wasn’t helping. It was too long; and what if she wanted me to do something else? It was getting to be real time consuming.

Once again, God showed me that He has me in His hands, right where He wants me. It’s not the most glamorous or most sought out position in the church; but it’s where He wants ME right now. I can’t go beyond where God has me right now.

I feel like I’ve met those kids somewhere before. I don’t know where, and I don’t know when, I just feel it inside me. And from what Kaitlyn said, it could have been church. It could have been Kid K’nex. It could have been one time.

And I could have missed it all.

God stretches us. Sometimes, He uses you, and sometimes He uses someone around you because you’re too wrapped up in yourself at that time. Then, He reminds you through that other person He had to grab that you can hear His voice as well. You’re just choosing to ignore it.

So, here, in no particular order, is the other part of the spiritual clearing I’ve been instructed to do today.

J-Lo (aka Jen Loveday)-I’ll do the Storyteller part, if that’s what you want. If God tells you, then you tell me. Don’t worry about the rest, just do what God puts on your heart, and leave the rest to Him. He’ll hit whoever He needs to, including me, to get His kids.

Becky
-I’m sorry if I seemed like I was making a big deal out of this today. I didn’t mean to come across like that. I was shocked and stunned because of the differences in the reactions we received. I will need your help in dealing with the brother, especially if he still doesn’t respond to you. I’m glad God gave you the experience.

Kaitlyn-I know you don’t know why you said it. It’s okay. God made you. Don’t try and say something else smart though, and blame it on Him. We’ll know the difference. But you spoke truth today, even though you don’t know it.

Sammy-I thank you for not wanting to take the easy way out. If I had driven you to school, we would have missed this morning entirely. I was annoyed at first, but the “whoosh” of the 2x4 at the bus stop made that go away completely.

Mom-you’re nowhere mentioned in this. However, you asked Becky and me to do some stuff at your mission house this summer. I’ll do what I can, when I can. I haven’t talked to you yet, but I’m scared if I think about it too much, I’ll just try and back out. I don’t want to know how painful that lesson will be for me. Just keep the plans going and we’ll see how God works it out.

To the rest of you, what are you doing right now? Is church the place you occasionally go to on the weekend to salve your conscience? Are you doing anything to help in the local fellowship you belong, or are you just there to take, take, and take some more?

Oh, and let me tell you something else-not everyone can do something glorious and wonderful that puts them in front of the congregation for everyone to see. Sometimes, it’s the stuff in the background that makes all the difference.

How are you putting your talents and abilities toward God? Are you speaking what the Lord says, or just talking out the side of your own mouth? God has placed something on your heart; so just go and do it. Don’t be too scared because you don’t think you’ll like kids or too proud because it’s not a big fancy “church” job. Just do it.

It may be someone’s season to sit underneath the pastor’s tutelage and learn so they can grow in their walk. But they may not be able to, because they can’t get out of the position they’re serving in, since you won’t get off your duff and go out and serve.

Sometimes, God uses a whisper. I read one that said sometimes He also has to use a brick; but in my case, He has to use a 2x4. I’d hate for Him to have to move up to a 2x6.

Wouldn’t you?

Be blessed in the Lord today,

Bo J.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Mark 6:4-6 (NKJV)

Mark 6:4-6 (NKJV)-"But Jesus said to them, 'A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.' Now He could do no mighty work there (Nazareth), except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He marveled because of their unbelief…"

This takes place after Mark's rendition of Jesus' healing of a demon-possessed man, the woman with the flow of blood that would not stop, and raising the synagogue leader's daughter from the dead. Jesus has made His way back to His home. He is coming to preach and teach to His own people. It is described in two other Gospels (Matthew and Luke).

Jesus, as was His custom, began teaching in the synagogue on the Sabbath. He taught with power and authority, unlike the rabbis and other teachers in His day. The people marveled at His oratory, because He taught as someone much older.

This day, however, He was treated differently. He was treated with disdain, and disrespect. The people were bothered by this upstart carpenter preaching to them in their synagogue. They were bothered by the way He taught, because He was so young, they thought He couldn't know WHAT He was talking about in His messages.

But mostly, they were offended because they knew His lineage, His family, and His line of work. They dismissed Him as a crack-pot and an uppity Man who didn't know His place in the world. But that's not what struck me the most about this passage, however.

Please re-read the last sentence in that group of verses above. "And He marveled because of their unbelief…" It goes on to say that He went on around to surrounding villages and taught. But here, in His hometown, He WAS MARVELING AT THEIR UNBELIEF.

Jesus Christ, God on earth, was taken aback at their unbelief.

Don't take that as meaning that Jesus was caught unaware or blind-sided. I don't believe that for a second. He was God in the flesh, walking here on earth. He's omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. But I find it amazing the WAY that was written.

Those people made God scratch His head.

You know what I mean, don't you? Haven't you ever seen a friend/co-worker/child do something so completely off the wall, so resoundingly STUPID, that all you could do was scratch your head at what could POSSIBLY possess them to do so?

You see it happen in front of you; and you just know that the capability is there, but even watching it transpire in front of you just gives you pause. You wonder why they didn't see what you did.

So, let me ask you something-have you made God scratch His head today?

You see, our first response is always going to be a resounding NO! We aren't like THOSE other people who do stupid, inane things, are we? We have our wits about us, and we know exactly how to follow, don't we?

Then, that subtle, still, small voice pops into your head.

"Hey Bo, I've been talking to you about ______________. Remember? I've been trying to get you to change that, but you kind of keep ignoring Me. You say that I just don't understand THIS particular situation. I don't get that." (Sounds of Divine head-scratching)

It's okay; you can laugh. You know it's funny. You know what's just as funny? You can substitute YOUR name in for mine, and get the same response. We all fit in there somewhere, sometime.

See, when He's doing miracles in other people's lives, and changing things in other people, we see that. We applaud that, because they NEEDED to be changed. They had no idea where they were at in their life, and Jesus needed to move on them in a big way.

But as for us, well, we're okay. Don't come preaching to me, God, because I KNOW what I'm doing. Don't think You can speak to this in my life; I got it completely under control. I'm gonna have to ask You to keep Your mitts off this part of my life, because I don't think I need You there.

I'm offended at You, for thinking that I need to change…this…whoops.

See, if you and God are on the same page, then you know that He's not preaching to you to humiliate you. Oh no, He's preaching and teaching you to raise you up. He wants us to live the fullest possible life for His glory, in order to lead more people to Him so they can live the fullest possible life, etc., etc., etc….

But if He can't teach you or me, then we're just part of the Nazarene city.

Have you lost your focus on Who Jesus is in your life? What do you see Him as? Is He a wet behind the ears carpenter, who doesn't know how to tie His own sandals? Or is He the Savior of the world, come to preach repentance and acceptance of the Kingdom of God?

Is He working in your life, or is He walking away, scratching His head in amazement at your disbelief?

Think about it.

Be blessed in the Lord today,

Bo J.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Jeremiah 9:23-24 (NKJV)

Jeremiah 9:23-24 (NKJV)-“Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the might man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the LORD.”

To the Triune God, I wanted to just write a letter to say thank you Lord.

Thank you for waking me up this morning in my own bed. You could have called me home to You last night, and that would be so much better than being here on earth. But it means that You’re not done with me here yet; so You are still using me.

Thank You for my family. I know that they have no idea sometimes what is going on in my head. They don’t understand what I go through day in and day out. I know that I sometimes don’t make life easy on them and that sometimes they annoy the heck out of me. Sometimes I get so frustrated that I just want to scream. But then I’m reminded of the person who wakes up alone and has no one to even argue with about something silly.

Thank You for a way to make a living that provides for my family and me. If you didn’t give me this job, then I would be scraping along. I realize that sometimes it’s not the idea I had in mind. I realize that I don’t want to go there today or maybe even tomorrow. But it’s what You’ve given me; it’s the sphere of influence You have place me in at this time.

Thank You for sickness. I know You don’t put sickness on me; that would be against Your nature. But I’m glad to know that when I get sick, I have Someone I can pray to in order to receive healing. I don’t have to wallow in my ailments, hoping for the suffering to cease.

I need to remind myself, Lord that You are still on the throne. I get so caught up in the world and what goes on around me. I get caught up in the fact that it seems like every time I turn around, I’m doing just one more thing that I didn’t sign up for. I realize that I don’t want to do it; except for You.

I need to remind myself that, just because You visited the earth a couple of thousand years ago, doesn’t mean that You can’t identify with the problems and struggles I’m having right now.

I’m living in a different time, but not in a different set of circumstances.

I need to thank You more often. Not when I get something, or learn some great proverb, or have a great revelation of one of Your truths. I need to thank You just for being You. I need to realize that it’s just because of whom You are that You do what You do for me. You have no obligation to me whatsoever, but You ensure that I have what I need to survive and thrive in You.

I’m sorry that I can’t stay focused on the blessings I already have; but instead always look to the horizon, trying to see what else I can get. I’m sorry that my contentment is only as long as my attention span. I’m sorry that I stay in a continual attitude of “What have You done for me lately?"

I’m sorry that I get upset with you about the ministry You have placed me into within my fellowship of believers. I want to be the center of attention and get all the glory, but if something goes wrong I want to blame You. I’m sorry that I think it can’t be my fault. I’m sorry that I seek my own glory instead of Yours. I’m sorry I forgot that You said that the person highest placed in Your kingdom is the one who seeks to serve others, not themselves.

I’m sorry that I don’t even know how much I need to apologize to You for in my life. I’m sorry that I can’t write volumes telling You the things in my life I acknowledge that I don’t give to You; that I don’t allow to be placed under Your control. I’m sorry that my vision is blinded and colored by my own perspective of myself and my wrong views of my own holiness.

I’m sorry.

I don’t even know if I can write all this down and mean it in my life. But I’m gonna do it anyway. I’m gonna give this to You and try and believe it. I’m telling you that I may not feel like I’m sorry; that I may just be writing this to try and appease You or score some points. If I’m writing it for that, I’m sorry.

But I want the enemy to know something as he sits here telling me that I don’t mean this and that it’s just a waste of space. I want to say something to the smooth talking voice in my head, telling me that God doesn’t love me, and Jesus is disappointed in me, and the Holy Spirit is no longer leading my life.

I’m still writing it.

And now, I’m going to give it God, and let Him deal with it, and with me. But most importantly Satan….

I’m gonna let Him deal with you.

Sincerely,

________________________________________

Be blessed in the Lord today,

Bo J.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Deuteronomy 28:9-10 (NKJV)

Deuteronomy 28:9-10 (NKJV)-"The LORD will establish you as a holy people to Himself, just as He has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in His ways. Then all peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they shall be afraid of you."

So, Alisha (the oldest still at home), was driving herself, a friend, and our two youngest daughters to church Wednesday night. Since I would have to pass the church on my way home from work and then come back, I usually just stop off at the church without going home. It makes for a long day sometimes, but it's okay…it won't kill me.

My phone rings, and it's my wife, telling me that Alisha has just been in an accident. Immediately, she tells me not to panic, that everyone is okay. The accident occurred less than a mile from the house, but my wife has no way there. So, I come on home.

Now, Alisha was not worried about anything dealing with the accident. She made sure her sisters and her friend were okay, and made sure that the police had been contacted. She made sure that she called her mother and told her everything was okay, and the van was fine.

She was terrified of how I was going to react. It scared her just thinking about it. I did not KNOW any of this; but being the kind of father I am, I anticipated this reaction.

I decided on my way home that I would go and pick up my wife, and then go to the accident. I figured that way, Mom would be there, and I could just make sure everyone was okay; survey the damage (if any) on the van, and be there in case Alisha was too shaky to drive. Plus, Mom would be a calming figure.

I passed the scene on the way home. It was REALLY close to the house, and the girls all saw me pass by; I saw it in the look on their faces. I knew at that point I was making the right choice going home and picking up Becky. We got back there, and got out, and I purposefully asked them if they were all okay in a low voice. I did not want anything in my voice to make anyone think they were in trouble.

Alisha burst into tears as I asked her. Kaitlyn and Sammy, who were in the back seats of the van, said that Alisha did great; she was more terrified of me than of the accident. I told them all it was okay, and I was not mad. I was just worried for them; wanting to make sure they were okay.

I walked around the van at that point, looking at the bumper where she impacted, and thinking about that reaction. On the one hand, as a father, you want that fear to be in them; the fear of making a bad choice or errant decision and having to face the consequences.

On the other hand, as a dad, you want to be able to truly let them know that you love them deeply, and only care about their well-being. You want them to be the best they can be in life, and want to be the strongest influence in their life, outside of God Himself. You want it so that they will know that they can come to you when a mistake has happened and you will not stop loving them; instead, you will love them more.

Then, I found that verse.

Too many times, we want to hit people over the head with our doctrines and Bibles. We want to beat salvation in them, and talk them into church. We turn off the very people we need to be reaching; turning them against the very Person who can bring them the peace they are so desperately searching for.

God says that if we follow His commandments, He will establish us as His people. And HE will put fear in the peoples of your world, to make them afraid of you and the God you serve. He doesn't say go out and scare them; He says you do what I say, and I will make you My people. I will establish you and put fear into your enemy's hearts on your behalf.

If I fear Him and keep His commandments, He will cause everyone else to respect me and want to know Him. I can't do it by beating them over the head; but I can do it by fearing Him.

Alisha and the girls are okay; things are back to normal. They have a healthy fear of their Daddy, but I think inside they know he loves them too. I'm hard on them; I'll be the first to admit it. I am stricter on them than a lot of their friends' parents are, and they know it. They know to expect consequences.

Sometimes, we expect bad to come from God as well; especially if we do something we perceive as wrong. We know about the law of sowing and reaping, but like a child, we don't really think we should have to face it.

Sometimes, it smacks us square in the face. And sometimes, it's our own imagination that makes us worry. And when we hear the still, small voice of God, asking us if we're okay, instead of feeling delighted, we feel terrified.

God loves you. He wants what is best for you. He's not chastising you every time He speaks to you; He wants you to know He loves you. He wants to make sure you know that He is there if you need Him, to wipe the tears away.

Remember that, the next time you have a little fender-bender on this road of life. It could be worse; it could be that you don't know at all how much He cares for you. Imagine how that life is for someone around you.

Be blessed in the Lord today,

Bo J.