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The Waiting Game

A nudge, give me clarity.

A feeling, give me a sign.

A command, will I listen?

Have you had a feeling?  You know the one where you seem to have found a sixth sense? No, not like in the movie…”I see dead people”.  More like someone is watching you, or knowing the time is right? How often? Do you wait on these feelings before acting?

I am challenged in my life. Over the years it’s seems that I’ve had clear feelings about the direction I should be taking with my life. Am I right to expect this now, or am I using it as an excuse? Are you?

What are your plans for your life? Have you thought about it, or do you coast by day by day with no plan? Let me talk about this idea of a plan first, then we’ll wrap up.

I think as American’s or those living in wealthy countries we typically have or had at one time a plan for success. It’s who we are. Maybe these plans got sidetracked or squelched. Maybe there is no light at the end of the tunnel, seemingly. Let me challenge you to consider the plan outlined in the Bible. See if it can be sidetracked or squelched as compared to your personal plan.radical

God challenges us to “Go”, to “Make Disciples”, and “Baptize” from Matthew 28. God’s plan is all about telling the story of salvation, to making it known what this thing called sin is and to helping usher in as many people into the Kingdom of Heaven as possible. If you believe as I do, then this is a worthy cause. Much higher than my goal of making tons of money (which as you know can’t be taken with us upon death).

I’ve been reading an excellent book by David Platt, called “Radical”. I highly recommend it for Christians and non-Christians. Why non-Christians? Because this book truly and unabashedly explains what a true Christian should be all about. It clears the air over the argument that “I don’t want to be a Christian because of what the Christian’s I know are like”. It paints the picture of what God expects and ironically, it’s straight from the Bible in which we’re supposed to be reading, supposed to be learning from though prayer and meditation. It’s a challenge, but should that be a surprise?

Consider these biblical truths…. Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. All liars…will have their part in the lake of fire. You are saved by faith not by works. Everyone who calls on the name of Jesus will be saved. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. Believe and be baptized, every one of you.

God’s plan is for us to all be saved. Who is going to spread the word? Have you considered that the Bible does not say that only a couple of people are to GO? All of us are to spread the Gospel. All of us are to BE teachers and speakers and vessels for God’s plan to spread. If we choose not to, we are fooling ourselves, we are passing the buck. We are waiting for someone else to do the work, when we have already been called.

Do we wait for the feeling, the nudge? Or, do we listen to the clear command that has already been placed on our lives? You have been called to be a part of the plan. There are no excuses.

For clarity, FEEL the nudge.

For a sign, READ what is already there.

To listen, OBEY His command.

Deep Thoughts by…4

 REMEMBER, when times are tough, get a SHARP knife.  It works on steak.

 

P.S. Ummm, I’m not advocating violence, just trying to be funny with a twist.  Tough Times, Tough Steak  —  Get it?  Ah, I thought you would!

Deep Thoughts by…3

 The other day I was walking the streets at night and saw a man using his trusty screwdriver to try and open an ATM machine.  He was upset, distraught and scared when he saw me.  As a Christian, I felt bad and helped him out.  An ATM machine sure is a weird place to store your own money, but he sure had a lot in there!

The Parachute

I like this one.  It’s fun to read to me.  I heard a variant of this analogy from reading blogs by Ray Comfort as well as watching some TV shows.

Imagine you are on an airplane and a stewardess comes through and tells you to put this parachute on, she says, “It will improve your ride!”.   So you put it on and realize you can’t sit comfortably any longer!  Not only that, the other passengers are looking at you funny, and some are laughing at you.  You begin to wonder just what in the world the stewardess meant by “improve your ride!”.  You are getting upset and eventually you take off the parachute and toss it to the floor.   This parachute sure didn’t seem to “improve your ride”, it just made you uncomfortable and encouraged people to laugh at you.

Now, let’s back up.  What if the stewardess added one CRITICAL piece of information?  She forgot to tell you, “You will be expected to jump from the airplane at ANY time!  Put this parachute on, it will improve your ride!”  Now, I don’t care about the discomfort or people laughing at me.  I NEED this parachute and no one is going to take it away from me!

This analogy is based on what many people feel when they are introduced to Jesus Christ (the parachute).  Sadly, many Christian organizations fail to “explain all the CRITICAL information”.  Many are just unscriptural by telling people that believing in Jesus will “make your life better”, “you will be happy” and “things will be great!”.  I will tell you first hand that believing in Jesus and living a Christian life can bring you all these things, but they will also bring you persecution and pain at times.  You will still get sick, maybe get cancer, lose loved ones tragically and maybe lose a job.  Some of your friends will abandon you, and some family may turn on you.  Being a Christian doesn’t exempt you from paying taxes or dealing with life in general!  If anything, you have more to deal with!  Yep, you will have to “jump from the plane!” too.  That’s code for DIE.  At that time, that’s when the parachute is most beneficial!

 

You see, the Law of Gravity in this scenario is death and heaven/hell.  You can chose to not believe in gravity, but sorry, it’s still there.  You can chose to not believe in an afterlife, but sorry, it’s still there.  Put that parachute on, expect some challenges in life and pass on the good news that someday we will all have to jump from the plane and test the Law of Gravity.  A Christian is one who sees the need for a Savior, just as a skydiver sees a need for a parachute.

Check out Sharing your Faith #2 for details on why you need a Savior.

God bless,

Jeff

We are being watched

 Do you pray at home but not in public?  Why?  Maybe this will explain it.  This blog is editted from an email that I sent out in 2004.

I was reading through my devotional today, and I could not shake this thought.  The devotional text was about a teacher reading to her class, and a child asking a simple question.  This act of teaching hit me with thoughts of faith.  As parents, or as a peer leader or teacher, we are the example to those that look up to us, whether that is a child or someone in your peer group.    How does that person(s) see you?  What example do we set for them?  (Think about that for a minute)   As a Christian, we have a choice to set examples based on what the world tells us, or set examples based on what God tells us. If you are not a Christian, this lesson is still very applicable.  Are your values truly represented by your actions?  Stay with me on this since my example may not pertain to what you believe, but you are smart enough to apply this to what does make sense in your life.   My heart was pulled toward the simple act of prayer.  If you are not comfortable praying aloud in your peer group, trust me, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  It’s true that some people are more comfortable speaking in public, or in a peer group.  I challenge you to think about this next thought.  When we pray, are we praying to sound good to others, or are we praying to worship God?  Does God care if you stumble on a word or say a very short prayer?  Does God care if you choose to say nothing because you are embarrassed?  Do you have to pray out loud to be heard?  

Philippians 4:6                                        
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  

I believe that we all to often get caught up in trying to say the RIGHT thing, instead of simply praying.  I also believe that our friends or children look intently upon who prays and who doesn’t pray out loud, whether in church or at the dinner table.  What message do we send our kids or peers if we say “no”?  If a child has never heard anyone pray, how will they learn to pray for themselves?  Is it just a Sunday thing?  Is it just an at home thing?   How many of us pray over dinner at home but don’t when you are out to eat?  Why?  I’m guilty too!  Funny isn’t it?   Let me tie all this together.  Our children, peers and others watch what we do.  Shouldn’t we be setting an example for our kids or friends instead of letting them “fend for themselves”?  Here is my challenge.  Whether it be dinner time or a day out with the family, take turns praying so the whole family can worship together and learn together.  Take turns choosing what activity you will do.  Take turns choosing what food to order or prepare.  This lesson applies to more than prayer, but prayer is what was specifically on my heart.  

Acts 21:5
“But when our time was up, we left and continued on our way. All the disciples and their wives and children accompanied us out of the city, and there on the beach we knelt to pray.”  

If you are one of the many who struggles with “what to say” in a prayer”, remember ACTS.  

A = Adoration or praising God – He made everything

C = Confession – confessing you sins

T = Thanks – Thanking God

S = Supplication – Lifting others in prayer (for sickness or struggles, etc.)  

There are many simple ways to pray, God made it easy, the World made it hard.  

God bless!

Creation and Time – Part 3

“Hear we go again! But this is new, I’ve never heard about what Jesus said about the book of Genesis!”, the stranger said. I replied, “Ah, you have come to the right place. The Deliberate Ruminator can answer some of your questions!”

“So, did Jesus talk about the Old Testament books and Genesis?”, the stranger asked.

” Well, yes, quite often actually. And what’s funny is he never noted that Genesis, Jonah or the other often controversial writings were poetry, allegory or just some made up stories!”, I replied excitedly. I continued, “For instance here are several scriptures where Jesus talks of the book of Genesis and the other ‘stories’ many do not believe.:

“In Matt 12:40 Jesus says, ‘For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.’ This references the book of Jonah pretty clearly showing Jesus was saying it was true history.

“And here, Jesus affirms some very early historical accounts (Cain and Abel) by saying,

‘ Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. (Luke 11:50-51)’.

You will also note that he frames this with the beginning of the world, not the beginning of man etc. To me this refers to the fact the bible is consistently describing creation as not something that took billions of years. Jesus says that the killings have been going on since the world was created and notes Abel’s death was the first.

The stranger is now amused, and he says, “Mr. Ruminator, this is all nice, but I don’t see it that way. Jesus was just using examples of old stories to get his point across.”
“Thanks Mr. Stranger, I appreciate the honesty! But, don’t you think Jesus would have worded things differently or worded them as he did the parables if they weren’t real history?” This brought a bit of silence, so I continued.

“You see, Jesus went even further. Jesus reaffirmed creation as well as the Garden of Eden when He said:

‘”Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator
‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will
leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will
become one flesh’ 6 So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore
what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

That was Jesus quoting from Gen. 1:27 and Gen. 2:24 as recorded in Matt 19:4-6.

“Then, as if Jesus knew we would deny the existence of a worldwide flood (which many do today), He reaffirmed the account of Noah:

‘ “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.’ (Matt 24:36-39)

Pretty clear, right?

“I’ll conclude with this scripture from John 1:

‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.’

Even if you are only a beginner at studying the bible, you most likely understand Jesus is the Word in this text. You will also notice that the book of John begins the same as the book of Genesis, ‘In the beginning…’ Since Jesus repeatedly quotes from Genesis and the Old Testament it does make sense that He was there and therefore has the authority to reaffirm scriptures. He reaffirms not from the outside, but from one who witnessed all of creation and everything that followed.

God bless,
Jeff

Creation and Time – Part 2

 A stranger says, “Ah, you creationist fool!  God explains it with the statements about how a thousand years is like a day to Him!  Sheesh!”

HOLD ON NOW!  I must disagree with this logic.  Here are the verses that specifically refer to this: 

4 For a thousand years in your sight
are like a day that has just gone by,
or like a watch in the night.

(NIV Psalms 90:4)

8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. (NIV 2 Pet 3:8 )

So here is the evidence, but what else do we need to investigate?  To me (and others) it is very important to understand the nature of God.  Regarding time, God is portrayed many, many times as being timeless or outside of time as we know it.  One way of saying this is “a day is like a thousand years”, duh.  Now, what’s the bible say about God’s nature, regarding time.

1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place
throughout all generations.
2 Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.  (NIV Psalms 90:1-2)
  
In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands….you remain… you remain the same,
and your years will never end.
(NIV Psalms 102:25-27 edited for length)
 
26 How great is God—beyond our understanding!
The number of his years is past finding out. (NIV Job 36:26)
 I could go on and on with other scriptures that satisfy the claim that God is timeless, eternal, was here before creation, is the Alpha and Omega, Beginning and the End, First and Last, will be here after creation is gone, etc.  The point being, the REAL point behind what I am saying is this:  God created time.  Think about it.  What is time?  The passage of what?  Time is a perception of what is going on around us.  If we were in a dark room in silence with nothing else, our perception of time would be totally out of whack.  It is well recorded that with no cues, people lose total track of “time”.  Hence, one may argue that time does not exist unless there is something to gauge it by….a clock you say, well that is simply some metal and some gears and of course a battery!  A day is gauged by sunlight.  So in essence our frame of time was “created”.  God was outside of this frame when He created the universe, and certainly did not all of a sudden become constrained by his own creation!  God is still outside of the frame of time we are “stuck” in.  With this thinking, the ideas presented about heaven, and how it is so different make much more sense.  We’re talking about a place where time doesn’t exist as we know it.  A place where a day is like a thousand years.  Remember:

8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(NIV Isaiah 55:8-9)

The day we started fitting God into a man-made box was the day we started creating a false god, not the God of the Bible.  Hope this makes you think, AND I hope you enjoy the reading.  Since this blog got a little long, I will talk about what Jesus said about Genesis in the coming days.   Have a safe and blessed Memorial Day weekend!

Peace,

Jeff