Peoples and Languages

Walking through a quaint downtown area of a nearby city for the first time a couple of weeks ago, I came up to a store with several chairs on the sidewalk.

A black one.

A teal one.

A pink one.

A red one.

A green one.

They were all chairs, but they were all different.

Thinking about that, I am reminded of another recent experience.

I attended a church service in a large city whose members were all from a specific country other than my own.

Their language was one I could not speak.

Being prepared for visitors that were not of their background, they had an interpreter and a glass sound booth that he sat in.

I was given a little electronic box with headphones.

As the pastor was speaking in his language to the congregation, I was hearing an English translation for every sentence by the man in the booth.

So, in thinking of different chairs, I am also reminded of different people.

People who look differently than I do.

People who speak  a language that I cannot understand.

People from all different nations in the world.

God’s offer of salvation through Jesus is given to every person He has created.

It doesn’t matter what they look like or how they speak.

It doesn’t matter how old they are or their level of education.

God loves us all the same.

Jesus died for everyone.

Someday, as the book of Revelation states, there will be people from all tribes and languages standing before God.

How happy I am to know that this is true!

~

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,  and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

–Revelation 7:9-10

 

 

from all

I Want To Make Music

I truly do want to praise the LORD throughout my life.

Because He has given me the ability to do so, I want to make music to praise Him.

My hope every day is in God.

He has always been faithful to me.

~~

Hallelujah! Praise the LORD, my soul!

I want to praise the LORD throughout my life. I want to make music to praise my God as long as I live.

Do not trust influential people, mortals who cannot help you.

When they breathe their last breath, they return to the ground. On that day their plans come to an end.

Blessed are those who receive help from the God of Jacob. Their hope rests on the LORD their God,

who made heaven, earth, the sea, and everything in them. The LORD remains faithful forever.

Psalm 146:1-6

make music

Cleanse Us

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9

The old garage door near the church was surrounded by smooth, nicely painted walls.

Looking at the photograph I took of it, I wonder—why hadn’t the door been painted nicely and repaired?

It looked tattered and worn out—like many desperate people in this world.

They feel dirty and guilty, used up and torn up, stripped and faded, hopeless and lost.

With an outlook tinted with shame, they see what looks like a clean, smooth surface on others’ lives.

No one could accept them in their broken condition, they think.

Family couldn’t.

Friends couldn’t.

Certainly God couldn’t.

After all, they’ve messed things up.

There’s nowhere left to go to escape the mirror of accusation that hangs on every wall they encounter…

In the last two weeks, I have learned of two people I know—both in very different walks of life—who have taken their own lives.

They lived hundreds of miles from one another, but they both shared hopelessness.

For a crucial moment, they failed to look at God’s unlimited power and grace and instead, looked at their own lack of ability to repair and restore.

God can accept anyone in any condition.

Broken.

Dirty.

Guilty.

Used up.

Torn up.

Stripped.

Faded.

Hopeless.

Lost.

Friends may not accept us.

Family may not.

But, God?

He is ALWAYS ready to heal and to forgive!

To CLEANSE us from ALL unrighteousness!

If we cry out to God from our brokenness, confessing our sin and our mistakes, we will be forgiven.

We can start over.

We can begin again.

It’s not too late for any of us, ever.

 

confess

 

 

 

Be Free

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

–John 8:36

 

While walking on the beach, I noticed a some kites near the late afternoon sun.

I paused for a moment to take some photographs.

Kites are a magnificently simple mix of light wood, plastic or paper.

They take to the skies with the proper wind to lift them high into the atmosphere.

Flowing gracefully, it’s easy to compare them to being carefree.

Kites aren’t really free, though.

They’re tethered to the ground by a string.

Someone is still in control.

There is freedom to be found in that control, however.

We are free in Christ.

Free from so many burdens and free from the penalty of sin.

Someone is still in control.

We are tethered to the heart of God by our faith in Jesus.

With our lives being redeemed, we are now free to live forgiven lives, guided by God’s love.

Are you free?

 

 

free a

 

Justly

 

Every country, every city, every town–they all seem to have a place where “court” is held. A place to determine what is right and what is not.

A place of justice.

A place (hopefully) where fairness–and also mercy –is displayed and wisdom is upheld as a virtue.

As citizens of this world, what exactly is expected of us in God’s eyes?

What should we expect of others in this regard?

The Bible records these words in Micah 6:8:

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

–Micah 6:8

 

justly

Every Living Thing

Psalm 145:15-16

The eyes of all look to You in hope; You give them their food as they need it. When You open Your hand, You satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing.

 

When I realized I was looking at a pair of pelicans as they cared for their young, I was very excited.

As one parent looks lovingly and carefully at his two little ones, his only means to feed them is to give to them what God has already provided.

every living

Your Requests

What do you wish for?

As I was walking on a small bridge above a pond of water, I noticed that people had thrown coins into the water to make a wish.

Although I do not know how that tradition ever came about, I am certain that throwing money into water does nothing to help.

What is a wish, anyway?

A hope or desire?

I wish for many things.

Not a bigger house or an expensive car.

Many of the things I wish for I could not bring about.

I wish for a better relationship with someone that I love very much who is within my family.

I wish for the salvation of my unsaved friends.

I wish for good health for people I know who are very ill.

I can do my part in attaining wishes like these.

It will never involve throwing coins into a body of water…

I can work toward being friendly and loving to help a relationship mend.

I can talk to friends about Jesus and what He has done in my life.

I can encourage friends who are ill with cards, phone calls and visits.

But cause someone’s heart to change?

God will need to do that.

See salvation come to a lost soul?

God will need to draw them to repentance.

Hear a diagnosis of remission of cancer?

God will have to heal and restore.

There’s one more thing I can do besides wish…

In fact, it’s the most important thing.

I can pray and talk to God about my hopes.

About my desires.

I can pray for healed relationships.

I can pray for physical healings.

I can pray for the salvation of others.

What do you wish for?

****

 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

—Philippians 4:6-7

 

peace of

 

 

Tiger

 

 

 

This is scary: You can tame a tiger,
 but you can’t tame a tongue – it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer.
 With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women He made in His image.
 Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!
 A spring doesn’t gush fresh water one day and brackish the next, does it?
 Apple trees don’t bear strawberries, do they? Raspberry bushes don’t bear apples, do they? You’re not going to dip into a polluted mud hole and get a cup of clear, cool water, are you?
 Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts.
James 3:7-13 The Message
tiger
 

Let the Fish

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you.
 Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this?
 In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”
—Job 12:7-10
 

 

 

 

 

fish in.jpg

 

 

 

 

The First Foundation

The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall. The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal. And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements. The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

—Revelation 21:15-21

 

foundation

Where the Windows Opened

In the Old Testament, we find the account of Daniel, a servant of God, and a plot of evil against him from jealous men.

Since Daniel was a person of such integrity, the men realized they would never be able to accuse him of wrongdoing unless it had something to do with his devotion to God.

They devised a sinister plan:

 

So these administrators and satraps went as a group to the king and said: “May King Darius live forever!  The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or human being during the next thirty days, except to you, Your Majesty, shall be thrown into the lions’ den.  Now, Your Majesty, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.”  So King Darius put the decree in writing.

 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.  Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help.  So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: “Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or human being except to you, Your Majesty, would be thrown into the lions’ den?”

The king answered, “The decree stands—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.”   —Daniel 6:6-12

The king was then told that Daniel was still praying to his God.

Although Darius did not want to, he was forced to give the order to have Daniel placed in the lions’ den.

King Darius was troubled all night.

The next morning, he went to the lions’s den and found that Daniel was alive!

Daniel testified that it was God who had kept him safe.

The king had the evil men, their wives and their children thrown into the den where the lions killed them.

Then, he issued a decree stating that everyone should fear and have reverence for the God of Daniel.

God rescues.

God saves.

God loves…

 

windows opened

Creatures of the Sea

I am fascinated by the ocean and the creatures that live there.

God has made living things that thrive in the depths that are yet undiscovered by man.

It is exciting to me just to watch life underwater and gaze at such beauty.

 

So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
—Genesis 1:21

 

 

creatures

New Strength

Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.

—Isaiah 40:31

 

Are you tired today?

Weary?

Ready to give up?

The LORD can give you new strength.

New energy.

A new vision for the future….

 

wings

Friend of God

Today is our son, Benji’s birthday.

He was killed in a car accident when he was 19.
The memories of his life will forever be with me.
Things that he left behind are cherished——
His tattered Bible.
The card he gave me as a teenager that said, “I love you.”

Shortly after his death, I was told a story about him.
It is one that I also continue to cherish.

It seems that Benji was out with friends in a car.
One of the young men with him happened to use God’s name in a cursing manner.
Benji didn’t like his choice of words and told him not to say that.

His friend responded by saying the offensive words over and over again, probably trying to be funny.
Benji became very insistent about the language being used.

Reacting to Benji’s anger over the situation, the young man said something like, “Whoa! Benji! I thought we were friends!”

Benji replied, “Yeah. Well, I’m better friends with God….”

My boy…..

Friends with God.

When someone we love dies, certain things don’t really matter anymore.

Things like—
Did they go to college?
What job did they have?
Where did they live?

No.
Those things aren’t really what’s most important.

Benji went on a journey the day he left this earth.
It was a journey I was not expecting him to take for many years.
When he left, there was only one thing that was mattered.

Benji was friends with God….

************

 

And the Scripture was fulfilled, saying, “And Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness,” and he was called a friend of God.

—James 2:23

 

friend

The Time of Singing

For behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.

–Song of Solomon 2:11-12

 

Driving past a church on my way home, I noticed a nearby home with a tree in the yard.

It was bursting with color!

Alive with captivating blossoms, it was lovely to behold.

Getting out of the car in the church parking lot, I took some photos of the branches with their delicate and graceful flowers as they were singing silently of the beauty and majesty of their Creator.

The winter is certainly over where I live.

The flowers have appeared.

The time of singing has come!

flowers appear

Compare Our Appearance

Daniel had been taken captive to live in a foreign land.

Although he was not at home anymore, his convictions remained the same.

Daniel was chosen with three other friends to be prepared to serve in this new place.

They were to be taught the language of Babylon and its literature by an official.

They were also going to be fed what was considered to be good food.

Food and wine right from the king’s table….

 

But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel,  but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.”

 Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah,  “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink.  Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.”  So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days. —Daniel 1:8-14

At the end of the ten days, Daniel and his friends looked healthier than the other young men. Because of this, they were allowed to eat only vegetables.

When we know what God wants for us, we do not need to wander from it.

If we are countered in any way, God is right there.

He can make a way, even in opposition.

 

vegetables

 

A Full Life

A pretentious, showy life is an empty life; a plain and simple life is a full life.

–Proverbs 13:7  The Message

 

What does it mean to be pretentious?

The Mirriam-Webster Dictionary states that the definition of pretentious is as follows:

“Having or showing the unpleasant quality of people who want to be regarded as more impressive, successful, or important than they really are.”

If we want to be regarded as more impressive than we really are, how much time and energy would it take to hopefully bring that about?

If we want to be regarded as more successful than we really are, how much would we have to work to constantly support that facade?

If we want to be regarded as more important than we really are, how many worthwhile opportunities would be lost while our attention was focused on maintaining the illusion of importance?

After awhile, if we were to look back, a great portion of our time (and our lives) would have been lost to deception.

Our lives might be characterized as empty.

Proverbs 13:7 in The Message reads,

“A pretentious, showy life is an empty life; a plain and simple life is a full life.”

If we live as who we are, and if our identity is in Christ as His follower, we have no need to be known as something that we are not.

We simply seek to be known as who we are–children of God, forgiven and free.

Now, that’s a full life….

 

 

showy

He Heard Me

Walking with my friends in the garden, I came upon a beautiful camellia flower blooming.

Still cradling water droplets from the recent rain, its delicate, pink petals were layered in elegant, star-like formation.

There’s something curative and calming about strolling through a garden, pausing to appreciate the artistry that God has created in every design.

Fears and anxieties begin to ebb as we view each new expanse of beauty.

Psalm 34:4 reads,

“I sought the LORD and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.”

What better place to pray than in the quiet solitude of a garden of flowers?

 

 

sought

New Life

Years ago, one of our son’s best friends paid for him to go skydiving as a gift.

Before he boarded the plane, an instructor spoke to him about the upcoming experience.

Our son was dressed in a special flight suit and given a parachute.

Although I was not there, I am sure he listened to the instructions about the parachute and everything else that was advised.

After all, who would dare to go skydiving without having any knowledge whatsoever about the parachute?

I was thinking about this earlier today.

People die all the time.

Every day.

Most everyone dies before they reach 100 years old.

Only a few make it a little past that mark.

Yet, how many people inquire as to what will happen when they die?

How many people are concerned enough to look into it?

Taking the trip from this life to eternity is far more important than skydiving.

God has made known His plan for safe passage for those who die.

His plan was the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins and the offering of a new life with Him, now and forever.

Jesus became our “parachute” when we had nothing to save us from the fall to Hell.

Still, there are those who do not wish to hear of a safe passage.

They do not wish to hear about a parachute.

They desire no instructions from God about the trip we all must make.

There are some, though, who have heard His call for instruction.

They have listened intently about a safe passage.

They have decided that having a Savior is the only way to life after death.

What preparations have you made personally for your passage?

1 Corinthians 15:22 reads,

“Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life.”

 

 

 

 

new life

 

 

 

And the End

A day or so ago, one of my son’s came up with something interesting.

He began thinking about what people think of God.

More exactly, he was thinking of who people think God is.

He posted this question on a social media site:

“I want to invite ALL my friends to write a VERY SHORT definition of “God” from your point of view. Whatever YOU think “God” is. Weather you believe in God or not.”

He received a long list of comments.

The question actually sparked quite a conversation between the two of us.

Now, I am thinking about what other people may define who God is.

In Revelation 22:13, we can read these words:

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”

Whether you believe in God or not, would you please comment on this post and site your definition of God?

This will no doubt help the conversation between me and my son to continue.

Thank you so very much.

 

 

Alpha

 

 

Make the Tree Good

Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit.

—Matthew 12:33

 

When your name is mentioned, what things come to mind for those that know you?

What things come to mind for those that know me?

It is not our responsibility to please others primarily.

It is more important to please God in our actions and words.

In doing so, we will become known for our choices.

Does God consider us to be bearers of good fruit or bad fruit?

 

tree fruit

My Household

Many years ago, as recorded in the Old Testament, the Israelites had to make a choice.

Who would they serve?

The true God?

The false gods of their ancestors?

Think back—

Do you remember your childhood home?

Do you remember your grandparents’ homes?

Maybe even your great-grandparents’ homes?

Did they serve the LORD?

What legacy will you leave your children?

As for you and your house, who will you serve?

 

 

“Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

—Joshua 24:14-15

 

 

 

serve

Control Your Mind

Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.  So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.  For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will.  That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.

—Romans 8:5-8

What do I want to be controlled by?

Dominated by?

Do I want death or do I want life and peace?

Each of us must make that choice.

 

 

 

sinful

The Lord Looks

Our Basset hound was not feeling at all well this morning.

Having had a very uncomfortable night, as well, I knew I had to take her to the veterinarian.

After waiting only a short time, we were called back to the exam room.

There, I noticed an x-ray illuminator on the wall.

I began to think….

It was there so that the doctor could clip an x-ray film on it and the light from it would make the images visible for inspection.

What if who we really are—our thoughts, emotions and memories—could be placed on a screen and made visible for inspection?

What would they look like?

Others look at us the same way we look at them–seeing the outward appearance.

At times, we are well acquainted with someone else and we have some idea of their true nature, yet we cannot really see all that they are.

God knows each of us, totally.

All our experiences.

All our feelings and emotions.

All our thoughts.

He doesn’t need a bright light in order to reveal our souls.

When God was instructing Samuel to go and anoint a new king from among the sons of a man named Jesse, Samuel looked at one of them and thought surely he was the one to be king– but God told him otherwise.

1 Samuel 16:7 says,

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

God knew the heart’s of each of Jesse’s sons, and He had selected one of them to be king.

God has not changed.

He knows our hearts, as well.

Your heart.

My heart….

 

the heart

 

 

 

 

No Condemnation

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

–Romans 8:1

While visiting a family member in a hospice house, I noticed a vase of crimson and cream colored flowers on the counter of the nurses station.

Delicate petals, bright with a glowing hue, giving a silent testimony of life and beauty.

For those who are in Christ Jesus, there is hope, because there is no longer any condemnation.

 

 

 

 

condemnation

Let Him Ask of God

If it looks good for you, then it surely IS good for you, right?

Well….not exactly.

Several weeks ago, I was walking along the beach and saw a beautiful sea creature on the sand.

If something is beautiful, then it must be good, right?

Well….not exactly.

I recognized the creature for what it was, having witnessed its dangerous characteristics before.

It was a dead Portuguese Man of War.

A particularly poisonous jelly fish with venom-filled tendrils.

Since it was dead, there was no problem, right?

Well…not exactly.

Years ago at the beach, one of our young sons, being curious and inquisitive, poked a dead Portuguese Man of War that was lying on the sand with his snorkel.

A few moments later, he decided to go out into the water for a swim.

Touching the part of his snorkel that had touched the jelly fish, he was suddenly in desperate pain.

I will probably remember those moments the rest of my life as they taught us both a valuable lesson.

The venom is still potent even AFTER the creature is dead.

True wisdom is wisdom that comes from God.

If we ask for His guidance in life, He will do just that—guide us.

Things will look good, but He will say it’s not for us.

Things will be beautiful, but He will tell us of the potential danger involved.

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

—James 1:5

 

wisdom let

Pardon

What do we do when we see someone struggling in the water, possibly drowning?

Most of us–certainly nearly all of us–would try to help in some way and do it quickly.

Yell for help.

Find a lifeguard.

Throw out a life jacket.

Maybe even jump into the water ourselves to attempt a rescue.

We would do this not just for our families and loved ones, but even for strangers.

People we had never met.

Imagine the unthinkable scenario of a person in a boat taking notice of a struggling, drowning swimmer.

Amid the cries for help, the man in the boat doesn’t reach for the life ring to throw in.

He doesn’t consider jumping into the water to save the swimmer.

Instead, he shakes his head and calls out, “Didn’t you know that the currents were rough over there?

You shouldn’t have ever gone swimming by yourself, anyway!

It’s your own fault to be in the mess you’re in!

You should’ve been in a boat, like me!”

No compassion.

No understanding.

No help….

It’s horrible just to think about it, isn’t it?

It gets a lot worse if you think about the swimmer as being someone you love.

One of your children.

Your dad.

Your mom.

Your spouse…

Yet, could this be how we think about others that don’t know about the saving grace of Jesus?

If we have found safety and forgiveness in Him, are we reluctant to help others when they are struggling with sin and its effects?

When people we see are drowning in life’s problems, how do we respond?

Do we call out (sometimes silently in our own minds), “Didn’t you know better than to…

get mixed up with drugs?

date those kind of people?

stay out all night?

marry him?

marry her?

take that job?

become an alcoholic?

You should never have done that!

It’s your own fault that you’re in the mess you’re in!”

How do we respond?

Do we try to help and do it quickly?

Do we call to others to assist in helping?

Do we throw out a life ring and tell them that there is a Savior who loves them?

Do we try to jump into the “water” ourselves and begin to really know and understand their problems, all the while pointing them to God?

What if it was your child, your parent or your spouse who was struggling?

Wouldn’t you want someone—anyone—to help?

Look out on the water around you.

Who’s out there?

How will you respond?

*

Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.

–Luke 6:37

 

pardon