Walk, don't run!​

kids running

I have no idea how many times, when I was growing up, I was told walk, don’t run! In the school’s hallways, at church, when our family visited friends or relatives. It was always slow down, walk, don’t run!

Matthew 4:18 (NLT), One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living.

When I first began computer programming, it took 24 hours for me to get the results back from my program. When I worked on a significant software project back in the 1990s, I was told that the results from a User clicking a button had to come back in 15 seconds or less. When I a manager of product development, I was told the results from a User clicking a button had to return in less time than a person could pick up their coffee cup, take a drink, and put it back down. Now, a User will abandon a web site if it doesn’t come up in less than one second.

The world in which we live is all about instantaneous. People have no time for “slow.” This mindset collides with that of God, for He is not in a hurry. He’s never running late. He never gets upset when someone else throws a prayer request on Him. He is the Great “I AM” and the Creator of time.

A Different Perspective

Nowhere in the Bible is this difference of perspectives made more evident than in Isaiah 5:19 (NLT): They even mock God and say, “Hurry up and do something! We want to see what you can do. Let the Holy One of Israel carry out his plan, for we want to know what it is.”

We are now in arguably the most hurried and stressful time of the year – Christmas. How easy it is for us to become infected with the “hurry & worry” virus. Let God’s Word inoculate you. We are to be imitators of Jesus (Ephesians 5:1). We should flow with the Holy Spirit, make no compromise with the impatience of others, and seek Jesus; even during Christmas, you will find Him!

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Which is better?

birthday party

Which is better, to be the first to recognize Jesus or the first to run to Christ for forgiveness? That’s a question that entered my mind as I read the following:

It is the Lord!

John 21:6-7 ESV, He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some. So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved [John] therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea.

A niece’s birthday party, purchasing a box of nails at the local hardware store, or ice fishing, we are rightly focused on the task at hand. And then Jesus shows up. 

Surely it is excellent to recognize Jesus within any situation, especially where we were not expecting Him. And we are more likely to recognize Jesus when we are in close communion with Jesus. Still, it was Jesus that said, “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?“, Luke 15:4 (ESV)

After Christ’s resurrection, it was He that sought out Peter, the Apostle that estranged from Him. And it was Peter when shown where Jesus was, that dove into the sea to run back to Jesus.

Maybe Both

It seems to me that my question shouldn’t be either/or, because I think the answer is, “Both.” 

Christians in close communion with Jesus will spot Him, even when there’s no expectation that Christ will manifest His presence. And it is those Christians who nudge others and say, “Hey, Jesus is here!” That’s when people that have a burning in their hearts to get right with Jesus will run to Him.

We all need to walk with Jesus, but there are times when some wander off. Jesus will not lose His own. He goes after them, and maybe it’s you that will play the role of the Apostle John and say, “Hey, I see Jesus!”

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13 milliseconds

an eye

The human brain can identify images seen for as little as 13 milliseconds. – MIT NEWS That’s nearly eight times faster than a blink of an eye.  Admittedly, we don’t know how long Jesus looked at Peter when Jesus was on trial, but it was enough time for both of them to know that Christ’s prophecy about Peter was fulfilled.

Luke 22:61 (ESV), And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.”

I can’t think within 13 milliseconds, so I need to be so full of the Holy Spirit that He’s continually leaking out of me, through my eyes, through my words, through the way I carry myself, through my facial muscles. I need all of those working for God if I only have 13 milliseconds for someone to see Jesus in me. 

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The Opposite of Karma

Christmas tree ornament that says "grace"

My wife and I were watching the tv show, “The Rookie,” and in one scene, the lead actor, Nathan Fillion, says, “I’m doing this for good karma.” About ten minutes later, the guy he was helping tried to kill him.

The idea of karma has somehow elbowed its way into our English vernacular. People mix up Christ’s teachings on reaping what you sow (Galatians 6:7) with karma.

Karma is defined as, “The force generated by a person’s actions held in Hinduism and Buddhism to perpetuate transmigration and in its ethical consequences to determine the nature of the person’s next existence. – Merriam-Webster 

What About Grace?

Grace is an essential part of God’s character. Grace is closely related to God’s benevolence, love, and mercy. Grace can be variously defined as “God’s favor toward the unworthy” or “God’s benevolence on the undeserving.” In His grace, God is willing to forgive us and bless us abundantly, in spite of the fact that we don’t deserve to be treated so well or dealt with so generously. (Got Questions)

It seems to me that grace is the opposite of karma. So let’s toss that word “karma” out of our conversations and let grace come in. “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8 ESV) 

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Rest Easy

cat resting on a person

In the observable universe, there are an estimated 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars. That’s 1 billion trillion. And that’s not counting planets, moons, and so forth. We can’t truly comprehend that number, yet each celestial object is unique. Here’s what our God said about this starry host:

Isaiah 40:25-26 (ESV)
“To whom will you compare Me,
or who is My equal?” asks the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes on high:
Who created all these?
He leads forth the starry host by number;
He calls each one by name.
Because of His great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.

Indeed, God is beyond our understanding, and yet He knows everything and everyone in the universe! He knows you, and He knows me, and He knows what we need and what our hearts desire.

Thanks to Jesus, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16 ESV)

We have joy, mercy, grace, and peace in God through Jesus Christ. Rest in Jesus, no matter what you need!

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Tying up loose ends

man tying a knot in a boat's rope

The clock keeps moving us closer to the end of the year. As we draw closer to the closure of this year, it’s wise for us to do some spiritual house cleaning. Have we paid our tithe, have we forgiven everyone that may have caused us harm, whether through intent or ignorance, are we reconciled with our fellow descendants of Adam? Is there anything we promised that we’ve left undone? Have we gone to the Lord our God and sought His forgiveness for sins of commission and sins of omission?

The way God forgives us, so we are to forgive others. “For You have cast all my sins behind Your back.”, King Hezekiah proclaimed (Isaiah 38:17 ). As God forgives, so we should forgive others.

Forgiveness

Corrie ten Boom, in her book Tramp for the Lord, wrote: It was 1947–. I had come from Holland to defeated Germany with the message that God forgives. It was the truth they needed most to hear in that bitter, bombed-out land, and I gave them my favorite mental picture. Maybe because the sea is never far from a Hollander’s mind, I like to think that that’s where forgiven sins are thrown. “When we confess our sins,” I said, “God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever–. Then God places a sign out there that says ‘No Fishing Allowed'”

Thankfully, the one true God is long-suffering (2 Peter 3:9), He is impartial (Acts 10:34), and He stands against the mistreatment of people (Zechariah 7:10). Our God has relieved us from retribution for He has said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19). 

Good Deeds

God keeps track of us, and none of our good deeds go unnoticed by Him (Hebrews 6:10). He is righteous and just. (Psalm 89:14). And, He forgives (Peter 2:24Isaiah 43:25)

No, I’ve not forgotten about Christmas, Christ’s mass. We’ll talk about that as that time draws nearer. But, today, I thought it best to remind us of God’s character and His extraordinary expectations of us in 2019.

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Thanksgiving

Solders in chow line for Thanksgiving

Colossians 3:15-17 The Message (MSG)
15-17 Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.

As long as I’ve been a Christian, Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday. Shouldn’t Christmas be it since I am a Christian? Good question. Yes, it SHOULD, but the intention of this Holy Day is more soiled, shredded, and mutilated than the items people hold in their avaricious hands as they stand in line at Walmart. Why not Easter? Same story. The Easter egg hunt reigns supreme on this intended Holy Day to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ our Savior.

Conspicuous Consumption

No, for most of my Christian life the best that conspicuous consumption could stir up against Thanksgiving was a turkey and pumpkin pie. Both good but not able to overshadow the 800-pound gorilla in the room; to whom do you give thanks?

Giving thanks implies a Giver and places the Giver above the receiver unless you can give back as much, and in kind. A one-shot, day of giving stuff at Christmas pales in comparison to receiving every breath you take for every second or every day for the whole year. – My mother suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for, to me, too many years. But I won’t know until I get to heaven what was gained in God’s kingdom from her battle.

Well, I am still grasping on to Thanksgiving despite its slow, maniacal disassembly. We have Black Friday, Shop Local Saturday, and Cyber Monday. We have Christmas commercials that overlap Halloween. Commercialism is in a no-holds-barred battle against Thanksgiving, and it’s winning.

Friendsgiving 🙁

Just last week I saw a commercial that called Thanksgiving “Friendsgiving”; they’ve tossed the gorilla out of the window. My guess is that the Thanksgiving Holy Day will fall in line with the other three-day weekend holidays: FaceTime a few friends and family, pop some popcorn and watch football. Yes, I think that is the future of my beloved Holy Day. But not for me. Not in this house. “… as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15 NIV).

Take A Little Time

In closing, I’d like to leave you with Andrae Crouch’s song, “Take A Little Time”. You will be blessed.

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God loves you no less

man kneeling at a church pew

I had started a technology company and had a handful of employees. I had bootstrapped the company – no venture capital. At this point, the company was about four years old. I had expensive professional employees. Most held advanced degrees. 

We’d experienced steady growth. Never once during those four years had I missed a payroll. God always provided.

One day, close to a payroll, I went through the company’s financials. It looked grim. Even if I didn’t draw a paycheck, there just wasn’t nearly enough to do a partial payroll. All of my cash was tied up with “work-in-progress.” I was deeply concerned, but God had led me to start this business, and He’d never failed me.

On the morning of payday, my company’s cash flow was the worst I’d ever experienced. Realizing this was a watershed moment for the company, I rushed to my church’s office. I asked the pastor and everyone there to join me in prayer for God to overcome this moment that otherwise would harm my staff and crush the company. We prayed. God provided. The payroll was fully met that day.

God Loves You No Less

This crushing financial event in my life is why I relate so strongly to King Hezekiah’s actions when an invading force conspired to crush him and all of Judah. But God miraculously saved him and his people from destruction. 

Look at what King Hezekiah did when he heard the threat: Isaiah 37:1 (ESV), “As soon as King Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes and covered himself with sackcloth and went into the house of the Lord

I didn’t tear my clothes or put on sackcloth, but I tore my heart and humbled myself before Father God, and I went to the house of the Lord. 

God loves you no less than me. When you are “hard pressed on every side (2 Cor. 4:8),” and all seems lost, tear your heart, run to your church, gather Godly people around you, and pray. God will hear, and you may see inexplicable events unfold, for “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Ps. 46:1).

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Human Touch

people hugging

2 Corinthians 13:12, “Greet each other with a holy kiss.

People Need Human Contact

There are five references to a “holy kiss” in the New Testament. I know the idea of a “holy kiss” freaks out Americans, myself included, yet most Americans are comfortable with a hug as part of a greeting or farewell. And the European tradition of air-kissing each cheek when formally greeting someone has long been practiced. 

Every culture has its own approach to personal contact during a greeting or farewell. “The traditional Māori greeting, the hongi (pronounced hɒŋi) is performed by two people pressing their noses together; some include, at the same time, the touching of foreheads.” –https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hongi

By nature I’m not a hugger. Over the years I’ve learned from my wife and her family how to hug but I’m still a bit clumsy. This seemly insignificant deficiency of mine proved to be a problem during my ministry in Romania. 

I Kiss Your Hand

I was in Romania shortly after that country’s independence from the Soviet Union and the “old ways” were in full force. When formally introduced to a woman I was expected to air-kiss both cheeks. That was too much. Thankfully, a friend taught me to say “Îți sărut mâna”, meaning, “I kiss your hand.” This statement was an acceptable formal greeting. Yeah!

The Power of Touch

There’s a fascinating article in The Atlantic, titled, “Can We Touch,” which highlights the medical and psychological benefits from platonic, human touch. For example:

From a small initial study the psychologist Tiffany Field published an article in the journal Pediatrics in 1986, which showed that just ten days of “body stroking and passive movements of the limbs” for less than an hour led babies to grow 47 percent faster. They averaged fewer days in the hospital and accrued $3,000 less in medical bills. The effect has been replicated multiple times.

Tiffany Field has published similar findings about the benefits of touch in full-term infants, and then children and pregnant women, adults with chronic pain, and people in retirement homes. Studies that involved as little as 15 daily minutes found that touch alone, even devoid of the other supportive qualities it usually signifies, seems to have myriad benefits.    

Be a Hugger

So, what’s my point? With Thanksgiving and Christian nearly here, we’re entering a time when we will be meeting, greeting, and farewelling (?) lots of people. As Christians, we should always offer to hug anyone. People will let you know if they don’t want a hug. However, it seems that many people are desperate for human touch, and hugging someone might make their day and cure their cold!
( read the article 😉 )

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You Need a Log

a small pond surrounded by trees

In the wilderness of Shur, the Israelites had no water. At Marah, they had water, but it was bitter (poisonous); so that they could not drink it. 

We find this account in Exodus 15:23-25 (ESV): When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah. And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” And he cried to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a log, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.

God Leads us to Bitter Waters

There’s a great lesson (probably several) in this brief passage of Scripture. God often leads us to “bitter water,” not to be cruel but to use us for change.

Moses and all of Israel arrived where God led them, but what they found was unsuitable for them or anyone. Immediately all of the Debbie Downers began complaining. Wow, if you’ve ever been in a leadership role of any kind, you know how “helpful” whining and complaining is to solving problems!

We’re There for a Reason

Nevertheless, God put His people there for a reason. And He will do the same for each of us. Why? Because God chooses to use His children to affect change; to transform bitter waters into sweet waters. We are well equipped for these assignments because the Holy Spirit lives within us, and He intends to use us to point people to Jesus.

No, we don’t walk around with blessed logs that we’re to through into bitter situations (there’s a lawsuit). What God does is show us the tool, the instrument of change, the “log” that He has prepared to transform situations, problems, people that are poisonous into something wholesome, healthy, and refreshing.

Don’t Panic

Don’t panic, don’t join the complainers but pray, seek God’s will, ask for the Holy Spirit to show you the “log” that is needed and then act in faith and watch God work. When once you’ve experienced this, you will desire God to lead you to the next crises; well, maybe not, but you’ll sure be ready!

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