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January 16, 2020, 10:57 AM

Speed-dating with God


 

In a desperate attempt to fulfill a longing and satisfy the yearning of our hearts and desires of our flesh, modern society has developed ways to generate opportunities to satiate these cravings with the minimalist of effort. Things such as Tinder, Backpage, Craig’s list and dating sites like Match.com, Farmer’sOnly.com, and Christian Singles have lost the stigma that was once attached to them and become more of a norm for finding someone to spend time with. I will reserve my opinion on these things because it is not the point to be made today. The hope of finding something of great reward with the least amount of effort and personal involvement is not only an epidemic in the search for romantic intimacy. It seems to have spilled over into the spiritual realm a little as well. To learn of the emphasis heroes of the Christian faith placed on prayer and spending time with God is somewhat convicting to me. I find myself on occasion trying to treat my time with God like a speed dating event. I want to rush in, sit down, tell Him those things that I feel are important and what I want, only halfway listen to His response and eventually ignore it if I don’t like it and ultimately walk away without any sense of true interaction or responsibility to Him. This is not how we are to approach God and spending time with Him. The depth of the conversation we have with Him in prayer is a direct reflection of the depth of our relationship with Him. It’s similar to that person who is a friend of a friend that you’re left talking to when you’re mutual friend walks away for a moment. It’s easy to be overcome with panic because you have no idea what to talk about and hope there will be no awkward pauses in the conversation. If you have only a superficial relationship with someone it’s almost impossible to have a deeply meaningful and impactful conversation with them. If all we ever do is rush in and out of our time with the Lord and never really spend any time communing with Him then our relationship with Him won’t be deep and meaningful. If we seek to get what we want from Him with as little personal involvement as possible, we will never have that longing of fulfillment satisfied. Be careful that you don’t carry on a relationship with the Lord that makes Him seem like that distant relative who you know you’re supposed to be comfortable around but you can’t because you don’t really know that much about them. God desires a personal and meaningful relationship with you. He desires to spend quality time with you in His presence through prayer and meditation on His word and works. He even made it possible by sending His only begotten son to cover the sin that separated us. Don’t cheapen the sacrifice by making light of the opportunity to commune with the God of the universe.

 

Robert




January 7, 2020, 10:00 AM

There’s an App for That


 

I’m kind of an “old school” guy. The type that my kids call a “boomer” because I don’t have the newest technology or know the current lingo. In my day the term lit meant something completely different than it does nowadays and if words like viral and fire were used to describe you it wasn’t a good thing. I still prefer actual books to e-versions and remember when Oregon Trail, Atari, and Carmen San Diego were the newest thing. I realized after Christmas just how much out of the tech and social media loop I am. My daughter got a new phone so I took her old phone which was a hand-me-down when she got it. I had to get help setting it up and still only know how to perform the basic operations. I have resisted the push into the modern era of technology and social media but I now realize that in order to remain relevant, I must expand my understanding and practice. However, I have found that some of the terms used in the modern social media world can be used to help Apply Biblical principles. The following are a few that I have put together based on my limited knowledge. 

GPS is a miracle but a little scary. Satellites in outer space can pinpoint where you are at any given moment and tell you how to get to your desired destination. If you have a phone in your possession, you can be tracked, anywhere and anytime. Tom-Tom and Garmin weren’t the first people to possess this ability. The original is God’s positioning system. He knows all things at all times. Where can we go to escape Him? If we flee to the dark He can find us. If we settle on the far side of the sea, His hand will guide us (Psalm 139). The biggest difference in the two ’s is that God doesn’t need us to tell Him our destination for us to arrive safely where we need to be, we need to let Him set our path and trust it as we follow Him.

The idea of having friends and followers is important among social media users on apps like Facebook and Instagram. But how about getting followers of Jesus. Paul instructs his readers to follow him as he follows the Lord. Not to follow him so that he could be “verified” as social media famous. We should be as intentional about gaining as many followers of Jesus as we are about followers of our social media accounts. Also, Paul didn’t need a Finsta account, he wasn’t ashamed of the Gospel and his life showed it. I can’t go without mentioning streaks. Quite simply, how long is your streak with the Lord? Do you put as much effort into maintaining it as you do with your others? Instead of sliding up or sliding right, what about looking up and getting right. Lift your eyes to the one true God and get right with Him before your Tik Tok time runs out. Today is the day of salvation for all who would call upon the name of the Lord. Jesus got Linkedin with a group of disciples and his leadership model was to do the will of the Father. So before you “Get” another download, why don’t you lay your load down at the foot of the cross and take up the yoke of Jesus. Find your true identity in Christ alone, not in what the world sees as your “status.”

 

Robert




December 29, 2019, 8:27 AM

This is the Great Adventure!


If you’re old enough to remember the Steven Curtis Chapman song, “Great Adventure,” you’ll know where I’m going with this thought. As the Christmas season winds down and the new year is quickly approaching, I hope everyone can look back on the previous year and count their blessings. It has been good but very busy, especially these last few weeks. I always take some time off at the end of the year to spend with my family, to rest, and be reminded of the blessing they are. I also try to find some time in the stillness of the day to reflect on where God has brought us and seek His face as to where He is leading us. As with every year, there have been some ups and downs but God remains faithful. As I sit this morning, in the stillness of the day, with my coffee beside me and my dog resting his head on my leg, I thank God for all that He has done and all that He is going to do. That’s where the song comes in to play. As I was praying and expressing some heaviness of heart to the Lord, that song popped into my head. It was in tandem with the words recorded in Genesis 12 regarding Abraham. In chapter 11 we are told of the story of the Tower of Babel which is followed by the dispersing of the people and a listing of descendants. In that listing is the names of Abram and Sarai. We all know how God accomplished His plan through these two and how we are recipients of the that promise still today. What I find interesting is the way chapter 12 begins. Chapter 11 concludes by telling the reader where Abram and Sarai lived and established their home. Chapter 12 starts out by saying that God called Abram to pick up everything and proceed to a destination he had not yet been told. He was instructed to leave his country, his family, and his father’s house and follow God. These words, combined with the positioning of them at the beginning of a new chapter resonate in my heart. The year 2020 is just a few days away and will begin another chapter in life. The question is will we be willing to follow God where ever He leads us, even without knowing all the details or even the destination. Our flesh often necessitates knowing details before we follow but being led by the Spirit and living by faith is simply following God where He leads. God had great things in store from Abram and Sarai, but they had to move on in obedience in order to experience those blessings. So, this year, be willing to follow God wherever He leads, even if it requires a move. He may just have something special planned for you or may be protecting you from something. As you pray and seek His face and His will, let the opening words of the aforementioned song resonate in your heart and mind, “Saddle up your horses!”

Robert




December 11, 2019, 12:31 PM

Terms and Conditions Apply


 

Tis the season of shopping for Christmas gifts and being inundated with ads and commercials. As with this time of year, many phrases are repeated as a part of the advertisement for certain items. I’m sure many of you are familiar with the saying, “some assembly required” and “batteries not included.” There is one tag line that I hate more than either of those two and it seems to always come at the end of an ad. When the manufacturer has told you how you deserve to have this amazing product they are selling and that now is the best time to buy it. Or if you truly care about someone then there is no way you would pass up the deal being offered. Part of the end goal seems to be to make you feel like you will be crowned the gift-giving champ and still come out ahead in the financial realm. However, just before the commercial is over or at the bottom of the page as noted by an asterisk, are the words, “terms and conditions apply.” And there it is. That catch-all phrase that says there are multiple strings attached. Strings that if they were clearly defined would probably prevent you from giving more than a few seconds of your time to contemplating the product being pushed. There is a reason that phrases like this have led to another phrase common in society, “the devil is in the details.” I just wish sometimes things could be as simple as Paul makes salvation in Romans 10. He starts out by saying that there is no way to earn salvation regardless of how zealously religious a person may be. Good deeds and keeping the law are great qualities to possess but neither leads to salvation. He continues by declaring that salvation isn’t something that is far off in some fairy tale land or distant country. There is no distance that must be traversed in order to find it. He enlightens his readers that it is near them in the form of the words of faith he is proclaiming which is the Gospel. Paul goes on to say that this salvation is available to v.4 everyone who believes, v.11 anyone who trusts in Him, v.12 the Lord richly blesses all who call on Him, v.13 everyone who calls on the name of the Lord. Also, this salvation doesn’t differentiate between color, nationality, sex, age, heritage, or anything else that divides humanity. The simplicity of salvation is based on faith, not works. Paul says in v.9-10 that if you confess with your mouth what you have believed in your heart you will be saved. When you believe in your heart everything the Bible teaches about Jesus to be true, and place your faith in Jesus Christ alone as your Lord and Savior, you will be saved. The mouth confirms what has taken place in the heart. Conversely, it doesn’t matter what the mouth says if you haven’t believed in your heart. A person who is truly saved will then begin to look more like Jesus as God sanctifies and matures them through the work of the Holy Spirit. I’m not trying to oversimplify what the Bible calls a great mystery but we must be careful not to convolute it with religiosity either. There are not secret strings attached, no fine print that requires legal assistance to understand, and you don’t walk away feeling like you traded away your firstborn or signed your life away. It’s simple, faith comes by hearing the Word of the Gospel as believers share what God has done for them. This Christmas give someone the simplest yet most profound gift they could ever receive and you might receive the gift of having beautiful feet, and I don’t mean you’re getting a pedicure.

Robert




December 5, 2019, 10:15 AM

Noisy Cricket


 

In the movie, “Men in Black”, Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones play the roles of two men charged with policing the galaxies. As you might imagine or may remember if you have seen the movie, the weaponry required for protecting the galaxy is a touch more powerful than what your average earthling might carry. On one occasion when chaos breaks out, Smith is given a gun that looks like a water pistol in comparison to that of his partner. The humor of the scene isn’t complete until Smith fires the “Noisy Cricket” and is blown backward by the powerful discharge. He had clearly underestimated the power of the weapon he had been given. I recently read through Ephesians 6 in addition to a book on spiritual warfare. It was a good study and caused me to remember that there is a very real and ever-present enemy that we face. This enemy, not totally unlike the enemy in the movie, moves about in ways that common people rarely see. Even Christians sometimes fail to see the schemes of the enemy and may forget that there is a battle waging constantly in the spiritual realms. The thing that stirred my heart the most was that of all the parts of the spiritual armor Paul mentions, the sword of the Spirit just might be where I’m the weakest. The one offensive weapon I am given as a believer is the area that could use the most improvement. You see, the word used in the Greek for “word” in describing the sword as the “word of God” is not logos. Logos typically refers to the written word. The word Paul uses here is rhema. This word when used in this context expresses the idea of the spoken word. The sword God gives me to defend myself against the enemy is His word when I speak it out loud. That may seem simple enough and you may be scratching your head as to why I say it’s my weakest area of defense. I’m glad you asked that question. As I was reading the book on spiritual warfare, I found one of the stories told by the author about his personal experience to be interesting. He said that on one particular occasion when he encountered the enemy, he defended himself by quoting Scripture out loud as it pertained to the particular circumstance he was enduring. This caused me to begin to think of what I would pray out loud that came straight from the Word of God if I were faced with the same situation. I could come up with plenty of song lyrics and anecdotes I’ve learned throughout the years, but I found myself to be short in the area of Scripture. The sword Paul refers to was the type of sword Roman soldiers used in close, hand to hand combat. It was used to deliver a precise attack and when it found its mark would be fatal for the enemy. That is the way the Sword of the Spirit is to be for believers. The Word of God is authoritative and powerful and when spoken out loud in defense against the enemy can deliver the blow that sends Satan and his minions scurrying away. But the caveat is this, if you don’t know the Scripture, you can’t quote it. That’s why it is vitally important to not only have a time of personal devotional but also of extensive study and memorization of the living Word. The study of the Word may seem less important or needed but I would like to draw your mind back to the Noisy Cricket. Don’t underestimate the power of the Word of God just because other things of religious life may appear to be more important. We must put on the full armor of God lest we find ourselves defeated.

Robert


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