Month: May 2022

Road Sign Walking Sign Crosswalk Sign Crosswalk

Willing to Yield to Others

My wife and I play a card game with some friends about once each month. The game is called “Hand and Foot.” It’s an exciting game, in part, because it is not directly competitive, unlike so many card games. You don’t directly play against the other team. Instead, you and your partner play to earn the most points that you can. The game ends when a team has played all of their cards. Then each team counts their points, and the team with the most points wins.

I see in this game the nature of the Christian community. No believer should try to advance by pushing others down in the Church. Instead, we lift up our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. We seek to help, give, and sacrifice, not out of some competition but to emulate Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Many card games are based on taking others’ cards or blocking a player’s progress. This approach has no place in the body of believers. We are to rejoice when good comes to a fellow believer, and we are to morn when sorrow comes to fellow believers. There is no seeking to find advantages. Jesus watches us, and we must give an account to Him of what we did with the life He gave us.

May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 15:5-6

Not to get too odd, but we know that quantum physics is the antithesis of the standard physics model. Likewise, the Christian life is baffling to non-believers; the way we live just doesn’t fit the rules of this world. Our life in Jesus compels us to see people differently and to respond to people differently. We are not competing against anyone. Instead, we are willing to yield to others when it’s for their good, even if yielding is costly to us.

17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. 18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.

James 3:17-18 NLT

I pray that every believer seeks to be a peacemaker, for peacemakers are not peacekeepers. A peacekeeper is a person that works to soothe and weaken people that are at war with each other. But, a peacemaker acts in faith to expose poisonous lies and covert destructive actions. We all see its true nature by bringing wickedness into the light. We know what Jesus said about lightness and darkness:

…that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

Acts 26:18

So, let’s be that person that seems odd. The person who loves the unlovely, helps those who have been sidelined by life, and yields to that @#$% driver in front of us that’s being a real #$%@! Sorry, let me try that last part again. Let us yield to that morally vacuous driver in front of us that’s being an absolute archetype of human evil. There, that’s better. 😉

Image by Roy Harryman from Pixabay

newspaper and coffee cup

Rock News

Dear Reader,

In an effort to improve Rock Excavation Service, I have merged rockexcavationservice.org with rockexcavationservice.wordpress.com These two sites have always had (nearly) the same content. So, you can use either URL as they both will bring you here!


Sincerely,
Gary

Image by Markus Spiske from Pixabay

a pic full of rocks with a question mark painted on one of them

Between My Ears

If you have ever listened to a classic rock playlist or radio station, you have probably heard the song “We Are Family,” sung by Sly & the Family Stone. It’s a catchy toon. For believers, we are family. The old saying, you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family is true about the Church. “The church is a family, the “household of God” (1 Timothy 3:15)

Now you may have had bad experiences with your natural family and some in the Church. Here’s the difference. You only have your natural family for a short while. Don’t love them to get love; love them to be love to them. As for your spiritual brothers and sisters, you have them for eternity, so do as God’s Word declares: “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10)

Thanks for taking the time to read this. Have a great day!


Photo by Ana Municio on Unsplash

pastor

Holy Spirit Boldness

You remember in the Bible where the Apostles Peter and John were arrested because the Jewish leaders were very disturbed by the Apostles’ teaching that through Jesus there is a resurrection of the dead.
(Acts 4:2)

The two Apostles were thrown in jail, and the next day, the guards brought them before the “council of all the rulers and elders and teachers of religious law met in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, along with Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and other relatives of the high priest.” (Acts 4:5-6)

In Israel, Peter and John were facing the full force of the law. They were in serious trouble. What we may forget are the ages of these two Apostles. Peter was no more than thirty years old, and John was probably in his late teens or early twenties – some of Jesus’ disciples may have been as young as thirteen. Both had been raised in a small town and were fishermen. But now, these small-town boys faced the force of their society, culture, and law.

When Peter and John were taken from the jail and brought before these “important” men, they did not give in to fear. What appeared to be a nation against two “hicks” was actually the leaders against the Holy Spirit!

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of our people

Acts 4:8

The leaders were amazed at the boldness of Peter and John. The leaders did all they could to silence these two guys, but the Apostles didn’t accept the message.

But Peter and John replied, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.

Acts 4:19-20

Notice that the message to the leaders was not one of violence or revolution. Instead, it was a matter of free speech. We find in Romans 1:18 this same theme: “…who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”

Once again, we are told in God’s Word that ungodly men use the suppression of free speech in their attempt to silence God’s message; of course, they fail. Suppressing any will of God is a fool’s errand.

Now, in our world, there are powerful forces that once again want to silence the message of Jesus Christ. They want to prevent this truly good news from being heard by ordinary people. They attempt to do the same thing that the Apostles faced. Likewise, we should reply the way Peter and John replied and trust that the Holy Spirit will do for us what He has done continually for two-thousand years.

Image by Tep Ro from Pixabay


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a pic full of rocks with a question mark painted on one of them

Between My Ears

Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things.

Ecclesiastes 11:5 NLT

Oh how often we want to know the mysteries of God. When we are crushed, we cry out to God, “Why?” When our lives seem to be unraveling, we cry out to God, “Why?” When doors of opportunities for good deeds are shut, we cry out to God, “Why?” But God seldom tells us why. In these times, what God desires is trust. In our darkest hour, we should remember Psalms 16:8 KJV, “I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

When confronted with events that make no sense to you, don’t allow doubt to come into your life. Don’t be moved by circumstances. Trust in Jesus, the only one that can mediate your condition to our God whose activities cannot be understood.


Photo by Ana Municio on Unsplash

a pic full of rocks with a question mark painted on one of them

Between My Ears

In the 1957 TV show, “The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour,” there is a funny exchange of words between Lucy and the actress, Tallulah Bankhead:

Lucy Ricardo : Are you asking me to leave?
Tallulah Bankhead : ‘Throwing you out’ would be more appropriate.
Lucy Ricardo : Let me tell you something, Tallulah Bankhead, I’ve been thrown out of better places than this!
Tallulah Bankhead : You have never BEEN in better places than this!

The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour

When we experience an embarrassing or stressful circumstance, our nature tries first to justify our actions, but then our emotions kick in, which makes us relive that event over and over and over. We run scenarios in our heads to take the same set of circumstances and produce a better outcome. This state can become crippling, but that’s not God’s plan for you.

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Psalms 43:5 NIV

If you find yourself reliving an embarrassing or stressful event, give that circumstance to Jesus. Remember, it is because of God’s will that you are alive. “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)


Photo by Ana Municio on Unsplash

blue and white planet display

God Changes Things When We Pray

Christian theology teaches that there is a separation between the work of God and work performed by things, people, and events. God’s work is called the Primary Cause – He made all things, seen and unseen, and maintains all things (Colossians 1:16-18).

The actions of things, people, and events are called the Secondary Cause – these activities can only occur within the provisions and constraints of God’s Primary Cause. My definition is limited to addressing a concern I have. I am not attempting to redefine any established Christian catechism (e.g, Westminster Confession of Faith).

An easily understood example of a Secondary Cause is prayer. God, as all-knowing, all-powerful, in all places, and all-sufficient, could easily anticipate and provide all things without a person’s prayers. God does directly intervene more times than we know. His action is a Primary Cause. (Shush, you lovers of Causation. I’m trying to make a point. 😉)

Here’s my concern: Jesus told us to ask, to seek, and to knock (Matthew 7:7–8). Jesus taught us how to pray (Matthew 6:9-13). He taught us to be persistent in prayer (Luke 18:1-8). He taught us to pray with faith (John 15:7). Therefore, God’s will is for us to pray and for Him to answer prayers. Why? Within God’s sovereign will, there are actions that He will only do if a person or a people asks it of Him. Really?

 “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

2 Chronicles 7:14

Notice the “If my people.” The worldly religion of “fatalism” – the belief that all events are predetermined and therefore inevitable – has crept into the Body of Christ. If everything is inevitable, why would Jesus teach us how to pray the way He did?

Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.

Matthew 6:9-13

Why would Jesus tell us to ask for our material needs, and forgiveness, and protection from evil, if all of these things were going to happen even if we didn’t pray? Of course, we can go back to Daniel’s prayer and God’s answer (Daniel 9:1-19) as well as many other examples. Please know that I am not addressing the theology of election or the truth that “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” (Psalm 115:3) Nevertheless, it is imperative that the children of God pray. Prayer is within God’s will. So, we are to ask, believing that prayer matters and that God changes times and circumstances.

Symbolic Inner Values Human Man Adorable

Eternal Value

One day, shortly after my wife and I married, I opened the door to my small print shop, looked out on the traffic whizzing by, and prayed something like this: “Father, I need to do something that has eternal value.” I was tired of working hard to make things with immediate value but didn’t seem to have eternal value; the Holy Spirit was calling me to launch out into deeper waters.

Jesus Provides Opportunities

As Christians, we always have feelings tugging at us to stay on the shore and enjoy watching ships sail over the horizon. It’s safe on the shore, and we don’t know what perils those ships will face when we can no longer see them. Our feelings tell us to stay, but our Lord Jesus said, “Go.” (Matthew 28:19)

It has been nearly forty years since I prayed that prayer. I can testify that God answered it. Today, I was reminded of how Jesus provides opportunities that have eternal value for each of His own.

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!

2 Corinthians 4:16-17

Younger, Stronger, Deeper

Therefore, no matter what you as a believer are challenged by in your physical body or the things of this world, take heart; today, your spirit is being renewed. Your spirit is younger, stronger, and deeper than ever before.

Today, you know more deeply, pray more meaningfully, and walk more closely with Jesus your Lord and your Friend. And the troubles that demand your attention they produce for you “a glory” that will never diminish; they have eternal value.

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sandals in sand

Sandals!

Our Inside Joke

Our family has an “inside” joke. Anytime we’re supposed to be surprised at something we already know, we yell, “Sandals!” The genesis of this inside joke comes from a birthday party we held for our twins when they were just little tykes.

When the twins’ birthday was getting close, my wife took them shopping. She found some sandals, had them try them on, and when they fit, she bought them. I don’t remember how, but all of our kids knew that the twins were getting sandals as part of the birthday.

My wife admonished all of the kids to act surprised so that I would believe that it really was a surprise. It was one of the few times when all the planning went perfectly. The twins tore open the wrapped sandals and, in unison, yelled, “Sandals!”

The Mystery of Sandals

When Jesus prepared His apostles to go into Israel, two by two, to proclaim the kingdom of God and perform miracles, He gave them detailed instructions as to how they were to go and minister.

Don’t carry a traveler’s bag with a change of clothes and sandals or even a walking stick. Don’t hesitate to accept hospitality, because those who work deserve to be fed.

Matthew 10:10

This account is also found in Mark and Luke. Jesus was not telling His apostles to go on their journey barefooted. His apostles understood that Jesus was telling them to travel without a safety net. They could not take any extra things. They would go with the sandals already on their feet, but they could not take an extra pair. The apostles would be traveling without even the comforts common for poor travelers.

Go!

When we recall Jesus declaring to His apostles, and through them to us, the “Great Commission” in Matthew 28:16-20, we should remind ourselves: “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:19

The Queen of England never carries money, except on Sunday, when she places an ironed, folded, £5 or £10 note in the collection plate. It would be silly for her to carry money. She’s the Queen and has riches beyond belief. Now, consider, again, Philippians 4:19. I may not have a dollar in my wallet, but I have enough for every need I’ll ever have.

Live in Your Calling

Jesus wants us to be wise, but even more so, He wants us to walk by faith and trust that He will provide for our physical needs and for whatever we need to minister to others. We were saved for a purpose. Live in your calling, and God will provide.

Image by straw from Pixabay


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woman playing violin for entertainment

The Word ‘Hebrew’

The word “Hebrew” means to cross over. Abraham crossed over from false gods to the one and only true God. He crossed over physically by leaving his homeland and coming to the Promised Land. The Israelites were delivered by God from the Egyptians as they crossed through the Red Sea, and then crossed through the wilderness, and then through the Jordan River, finally entering the Promised Land.

Holy Land Site

All these acts are pictures of deliverance and salvation. We also cross over from spiritual death to life in Christ Jesus and, someday, we will cross over from this world to heaven.  For all of us that have received God’s salvation, through Jesus Christ, we have crossed over from death to life. We are now Hebrews, adopted into God’s chosen people. “But to all who did receive him [Jesus], who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,” (John 1:12).

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