Life

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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

athletic track with the number 2022

Are You On Track in 2022?

We’ve been on a wild and challenging adventure for the last couple of years. Finally, we have faced something more difficult than what our parents faced. That and $4.00 will buy you a cup of coffee. 😀

Are You OK?

With the myriad problems we muscled through during the past 24+ months, I thought it might be good to check in on you. Are you doing okay? Spiritually, are you on track in 2022? Can you still say with confidence in your heart, “God is good!” That’s my prayer for you – yes, I pray for all who read these posts. Today that includes you!

God’s Word is full of running and racing metaphors1, but my question today is, are you undeterred from the life with Jesus? Notice that I didn’t ask about what you are “doing.”

Where’s the Track?

From “THE WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM,” question one is: “What is the chief end of man?” It’s probably good that I didn’t study this as a teenager. My answer would have gotten me tossed out of the class, which is sad because this is a tremendous question.

What is our purpose, our destiny? I’m just finishing up Hillsdale College’s lecture series, Introduction to Western Philosophy. It is excellent and free. I’ve learned that this question of the total and eternal purpose of man/woman is one that philosophers from 300 BC until today have struggled to know. But you and I know. The correct (Westminster) answer is: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.

Every Christian knows this truth, even if we don’t know the right words. In our spirit, we know that we live and always shall live to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Notice that the primary (i.e., chief) purpose is not to build a church or lead 100 people to Jesus or give $1,000 to missions. Those are joyous ways to worship Jesus, but those aren’t our primary purpose.

What’s the Answer?

If we are Christian, then our primary purpose, which we were born for and will be doing forever, is to glorify (i.e., to honor and praise God as divine, as the one true God) God and enjoy God forever. That’s is why God created you and me, and it is how we should live our lives, and it will be fully realized when we arrive in heaven.

So, are you on track in 2022? Have you crossed into someone else’s lane? Are you running out of energy while running in your lane? Are you still on the track? Be encouraged:

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31

It’s Okay to Wait

If you’re not on track, then wait for the Lord. He hasn’t forgotten you or your eternal purpose – Glorify God and enjoy God. Take some time to enjoy Him. After all, that’s your purpose in life.

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[1]: Hebrews 12:1, 2 Timothy 4:7

Chevrolet Truck Blue Hot Rod Vehicle Old Retro

Would We Council God?

Murals

When I was a young man, I had a good friend that was a naturally gifted artist. His specialty was painting murals. I never ceased to be amazed when he’d start sketching out a picture on a roll of butcher block paper that ran the length of a room.

Perhaps the fascinating aspect of his work on murals was that he didn’t start in one corner and work from right to left or left to right. He typically started somewhere entirely unexpected. Maybe he began with the nose of the central character, or he might start by sketching the fender of a car. It made perfect sense to him, but no sense to me.

Image if I’d watched him start a mural and then said, “Tim, I think you are drawing the nose too big.” Ignoring me, Tim continued to draw, and soon I discovered that he’d been drawing the rear fender of an old Chevy pickup!

Council God

Christ’s apostles did this kind of thing several times. Take, for example, when two of the three apostles of Christ’s inner circle suggested to Jesus that He kill some people.

When James and John saw this, they said to Jesus, “Lord, should we call down fire from heaven to burn them up?”

Luke 9:54

Perhaps, we should recall when His disciples designated themselves as crowd control and blocked parents from bringing their children to Jesus to be blessed.

One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.

Matthew 19:13

We mustn’t forget when the Apostle Peter decided to give Jesus some “sound council.”

Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”

Matthew 16:23

The Big Picture

We should consider ourselves before we rush to judge those that laid the foundation for the Church[1]. Do we ever tell God what He needs to do? Have we ever been deeply hurt because we felt that God failed us? Has fear ever won out in our actions?

Here’s the thing, we may look at our life and see what looks like a big nose, but that’s only because we don’t know the picture in which God has included us. Later, maybe only after we are in heaven, we will see God’s mural. That nose wasn’t a nose; it was the rear fender of a classic Chevy truck. Let’s not rush to judge God’s actions.

We can be confident that nothing God does to us, through us, or by us is done so without love, for “We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.” (1 John 4:16)

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  1. Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. Ephesians 2:20  ↩
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Between My Ears


“For Sale, Baby Shoes, Never Worn”

Ernest Hemingway

Much lore now surrounds this six-word story, accredited to Ernest Hemingway. So much has been made of these six words that the story now stretches around the world with countless book clubs holding annual six-word story contests, with the first and most well-known contest in Key West, Florida, Ernest Hemingway’s home where he allegedly gave this answer to a journalist.

So, what would your six-word story be about Jesus? To get things rolling here’s two of mine.


The Lamb of God saved me.
In Death, Thought Lost, Arose Victorious.

Gary

Include your six-word story in the comment section!


The story must present the truth about Christianity in a positive light. I reserve the right to remove any comments that are not appropriate for this site.


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Between My Ears


And those men said to him, “We are unclean through touching a dead body. Why are we kept from bringing the Lord’s offering at its appointed time among the people of Israel?” 8 And Moses said to them, “Wait, that I may hear what the Lord will command concerning you.”

Numbers 9:7–8

This passage is surprising to me. In our Christian world we’ve come to expect instant answers – Google it, Reddit, Quora it and so forth. There remains little doubt that we can find the answer we want if we search for it on these platforms. But that’s not the mindset we see in Moses. He said, “Hang on, let me check with God.” That’s amazing!

Moses was chosen by God and it perhaps the greatest servant in the Bible, other than Jesus. Yet, Moses had the wisdom to not dole some instant-ramen chicken soup. He left the men standing while he went into the holy-of-holies and enquired of God. I pray that we have the wisdom to say, “Hang on, let me check with Jesus, my Savior.”

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Between My Ears



 These are the commandments that the Lord commanded Moses for the people of Israel on Mount Sinai.” 

Leviticus 27:34

This is the final verse in the book of Leviticus. Read this verse to anyone who says, “If there is a god, that god does not care about their creation and certainly is not involved in the affairs of humanity.” (This is a common belief of an agnostic.) I can find nowhere in God’s Word where is say, “I don’t care anymore about my creation. I’ve got greener pasters to tend to.

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Between My Ears



He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

1 Peter 2:22-25

This passage is one that I always find something new each time I read it. Today, the Holy Spirit freshly showed me, “when he suffered, he did not threaten.” This is so exceedingly difficult for me. When I am wronged, my mind quickly compiles every known threat ever uttered, and they all want to spew out of my mouth. I thank God that rarely do I say them, and I am immediately convicted by my Savior when I do. I pray that you remain aware of Christ’s example and are free from this weakness.

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Are We Living the Wrong Life?

Yes, the above is my sarcastic way of addressing the 800-pound gorilla featured in so many sermons and small-group Christian meetings. Christian publishing companies and magazines can’t churn out “bloodless” Christianity fast enough. And now, these morally bankrupt folks are stripping Christian teaching of such basics as service to Jesus through sacrifice, punishment, and loss of life. What has gotten into us? There is good reason that countries we previously considered “backward” are sending missionaries to America. Praise God for these bold ministers.

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Romans 5:3-5

In the “Watch What You Pray For” department, notice how Jesus answers prayers for hope! When was the last time that a Christian elder encouraged you to actually suffer loss for Jesus? Have you witnessed a fellow believer who suffered (beaten, loss of employment, their children verbally abused)? I think we are beginning to see some of this in school board meetings. I had the privilege of working with a pastor in another country that was beaten, tortured, put in jail, and suffered the loss of personal items for many years specifically because he was a Christian. We know that the apostle Paul wrote Timothy, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” (2 Timothy 3:12)

A Life That Pleases Jesus is Dangerous

If our lives do not parallel the lives of Christians before us, then we need to judge ourselves, not our spiritual ancestors. “For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. (2 Peter 2:19)” We often think of “enslavement” to things like alcohol, gambling, sexual sins, greed and so forth. But a Christians can just as easily be enslaved by wasting money, eating too much food, and taking any healthy thing (e.g., jogging, golfing, swimming) and allowing it to control him/her.

Our LBJ (life before Jesus) was founded upon death – have all the fun you can because we’re all going to die. But our LAS (life have salvation) cannot be built upon the foolish idea that we just wait, doing nothing, until Jesus returns, or we die. How crazy is that. What Jesus wants us to do is wade into humanity, so people smell our S.B.O (spiritual body odor).

To the one, we are an odor of death and demise; to the other, a fragrance that brings life. And who is qualified for such a task?

2 Corinthians 2:16

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Between My Ears



“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.

Isaiah 1:18

The average age for a person in America is less than the number of years my wife and I have been married. One thing I’ve learned during these years is that soon after my wife’s purchase, some tiny morsal of greasy food will inevitably plop onto any new blouse that she buys and likes. And though my wife uses every, old and new trick, a small relic will remain. So, during our 40+ years, she’s had at least six blouses ruined. 😉

Unlike the tortured lives of blouses, Jesus can and does remove the most vial, ugly, unimaginable stains on our lives. Out of God’s love, by the righteousness of Jesus, we who enter in have been made clean, completely clean; there is no relic of the stain that was on our lives.


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

Between My Ears



For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” Hebrews 12:6

Are you having a rough day? Do you feel like the light at the end of your tunnel is a freight train headed your way? Rejoice!

Here’s a blessing from God. God’s judgements upon His people proves that He still cares about us! Hebrews 12:5–6 We have hope, even in God’s judgment. Deuteronomy 30:1–10

Even in God’s judgment there is hope, punishment does not mean that we have been excluded from God’s covenant. God’s judgments on His people proved He still cares about them. And God disciplines the ones He loves. So, when feel God’s discipline, give thanks, because Jesus cares for you!

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