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August 28, 2017, 11:16 AM

Staring at the Sky


On August 21, 2017, an amazing event took place.  The United States experienced a total solar eclipse that stretched from Oregon to South Carolina on a 65-mile-wide path.  Some people planned and prepared for years prior to the eclipse in order to be able to have the best vantage point to view this historical heavenly occurrence.  Others spent thousands of dollars without giving a second thought to the amount because of the level of priority it became to see the eclipse.  Still, others traveled vast distances, some from across the globe, in order to have a place in the path of “totality.” They did so gladly by whatever means necessary.  An estimated $700 million was lost in productivity by those taking time to watch the phenomenon with some employers actually encouraging and allowing employees to take part in witnessing the eclipse.  For just a little while, the focus of the news and topic of conversation wasn’t about bashing politicians or racial injustices.  The evening newscast didn’t strike fear in the hearts of people with stories of threats of war and the annihilation of humanity.  No, for just a precious few moments the multitudes stood and looked in awe upon the glory of the sun.  Let that sink in for a minute.  Imagine if the same amount of people were willing to go to the same extent to stop and look in awe at the glory of the Son.  Everything else tends to fade away when we become entranced by the beauty of the Son.  In looking up at the Son we see the Christ being crucified for the sin of the world, the resurrected Savior ascending to heaven, and finally, a day yet to come of a conquering King returning in glorious victory.  One day, every last person will understand the glory of the Son when every knee bows and every tongue confesses the Jesus is Lord.  When is the last time you stood in awe, consumed by the majesty of the Son?

Robert




August 21, 2017, 10:37 AM

Upward Christianity


I recently watched a video on YouTube of a Christian comedian talking about watching a youth soccer game.  When he asked which team was winning he was promptly informed that, in this particular league, this was no score kept.  The comedian continued to hilariously express his view of this type of “competition” where there are no losers and everyone gets a trophy at the end of the year.  I understand the basis of the “score-free” league is good and it’s useful in building confidence, teamwork, and learning the fundamentals of the game.  This concept is good for youth athletics but doesn’t translate well into real life.  Unfortunately, in life there are times when things don’t turn out the way we would want them to.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because, as the saying goes, all sunshine and no rain makes a desert.  Also, there are two things that help crops and plants grow, rain and manure.  Neither may sound all that exciting to have but the growth they produce is often a desired response of farmers and these types of circumstances can produce tremendous growth in people as well.  The “I’m ok, you’re ok” cultural mentality along with the idea of, “we’re all winners” tends to go against the message of the Gospel.  The truth is that no, we are not all ok.  If everyone was, then there would be no need for redemption.  We all sin and fall short of the glory of God. From the instant original sin entered the world, humanity has needed a Savior.  Secondly, and sadly, not everyone will receive a trophy in the end.  Only those who place their faith in Jesus Christ will receive the victorious crown of life.  Many people use John 3:16 in the presentation of the Gospel but leave out the reality of verses 17-18.  The truth of the Gospel can be offensive to some but is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe.  To enjoy the beauty of amazing grace a person must first understand their need for it. 

Robert




August 14, 2017, 11:15 AM

Retail Grace


Not too long ago, there was an uproar in within the pharmaceutical and medical industry.  The head of a particular company had apparently raised the retail price of a certain potentially lifesaving medicine by an astronomical amount without justification.  I don’t mean to cast doubt upon the rationale given for the increase in price offered by the company’s CEO, but I am of the opinion the rate hike was more about profit margin than production cost.  Having seen first-hand the therapeutic benefits of the medicine, I couldn’t believe someone would place personal wealth above the life of others.  The last couple of weeks I have been reminded of the amazing grace God has shown me and continues to pour out on me daily.  In light of this perspective, I find myself to be guilty of dispensing grace in a similar fashion to how the pharmaceutical company made its product available to those who need it.  I want and need desperately the fullest extent of grace from God and others, but when it comes to me being the one to show grace, I demand an inordinate, unreasonably high price.  Such as, “I will show grace and forgiveness only if so-in-so does such and such.”  The parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18 exposed this in me.  My prayer is that God would not simply forgive my sin and remove it as far as the east is from the west, but that He would allow me to see a glimpse of the tremendous offense my sin is to Him, a holy and righteous God.  In seeing the reality of the egregiousness of my sin, hopefully I will show mercy and grace to others in a similar manner to that which God has shown me. My sin against God is far greater than any sin against me. 

Robert 




August 7, 2017, 10:49 AM

Co-op Play Video Games


Co-op video game play is where multiple people play the same game at the same time to accomplish a singular purpose.  Within this overarching purpose, there may be individual accomplishments that each player can try to achieve for themselves.  This is the style of video game that my son loves to play.  I know it’s silly but I enjoy playing with him from time to time.  There is one particular game that my son enjoys in which our whole family can play together.  As you can imagine it gets crazy trying to keep up with 4-5 players on the television at the same time going in all different directions.  However, this usually doesn’t last very long.  It only takes a few minutes before the competitive edge takes over and someone is throwing someone else’s character off a ledge, stealing “powers” that someone else needed, or running ahead to do their own thing, leaving everyone else behind and ending their game.  It essentially comes down to an “all about me/me first” mentality of the one seeking to achieve personal goals and be recognized as the better player.  The Lord convicted me in my heart that this is often how act.  My frequent lapses of humility and recognition of my sinful condition creep in and steal the grace that I am supposed to be extending to others.  An honest evaluation of my wretched sinfulness in light of God’s majestic holiness glorifies the amazing grace I have received from Him.  I find myself too often to be like David wanting to punish the man Nathan has told him of only to be reminded that I am a sinner just like the one I have determined should be punished.  Extending grace and forgiveness to those who have offended me or are caught up in sin can be a struggle, but it becomes a little easier when I am reminded that, “but by the grace of God, there go I.”  I am grateful to those in my life who point this out to me.  Like a sheep, I am easily distracted and prone to wander away from the fold.  I am thankful for those who have shown me grace and pursue me when I have gone astray.  Praise God for His pursuit of me and amazing grace He has given in salvation through Jesus Christ.

Robert




August 3, 2017, 11:52 AM

Enchanted Vacation


This is a long one, but it will make up for missing last week. My family recently had the experience of visiting one of the world famous vacation destinations.  It will probably be a “once in a lifetime” type thing, but at least we can now say we have done it.   It was a great time as a family and we feel blessed to have been able to go to Disney World.  I must admit, there were many things that caught me by surprise and I found myself repeating the phrase, “We ain’t in East Texas anymore.”  It wasn’t bad, just different.  Having experienced some of the trappings of visiting Disney, I am pleased to say that the highlight of our vacation was a morning spent on the beach, witnessing the glory of God’s creation and being held captive by the majestic beauty of a sunset.  God’s creation is by far greater than anything Walt ever came up with.  Forgive me as I tarry from the point in which I intend to present.  As we hustled and bustled through the parks each day trying to squeeze in as many things as we could, a thought occurred to me.  Actually it was more than one thought and now I share them with you.  I began to wonder how many people were there, among literally thousands of other people, who don’t go to church because they don’t do well with crowds.  Or, of all the people dressed from head to toe in Disney themed garments and accessories, but don’t go to church because they don’t want to have to dress a certain way.  Also, those who readily dish out exorbitant amounts of money, (nothing is free at Disney. A penny cost 51 cents.) at the many places readily available to take it from them, but won’t come to church because all the church wants is their money.  And what about those who will stand in line for up to 5 hours in the heat to enjoy a 5 minute 3D attraction, but can’t seem to force themselves to attend an hour long worship service sitting in an air conditioned building on soft pews.  Lastly, and my favorite, those who set their agenda around being able to see, take pictures with, get autographs from, and have dinner with people dressed up as Disney characters. Some of whom wear mouse, duck, and dog costumes or are from a galaxy far, far away that doesn’t exist.  Yet those same people won’t go to church because the church has too many fake people and hypocrites. It is a sad thing to see when people will embrace an enchanted, fairytale kingdom but reject the Kingdom of God. 

Robert 


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