Month: July 2020

Beauty

baby-shoes

God does not do anything in haste. When He acts, He creates beauty. He is unconstrained by dimensions or time or space, or human opinion or expectations or prejudices. His measure of success is that His will has been done, and His will is always done (Isaiah 55:11).

The thing that God impressed on me today, as I was praying, was that His work is always beautiful. We may not see the beauty. It may take 1,000 years before any son or daughter of Adam perceives its beauty. Perhaps, no child of Creation will even discover the beauty God has placed in His work, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look for it, for it is always there. Great tragedy can still contain beauty, for, on God’s timeline, tragedy lasts for a moment, but the beauty of God’s fulfillment will last for eternity.

God Creates Beauty Through His Children

This truth of God is at work within all believers. John 15:16-17, “You did not choose me, but I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you. 17 “This is what I command you: Love one another.

Exodus 28:2And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty.

Psalms 50:2Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth.

Isaiah 53:2You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

Romans 8:28Let’s be slow to judge “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”

Photo by Drew Hays on Unsplash

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Building Our Brands

orange BMW i8 coupe

John the Baptist said, “I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into his barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire.(Matthew 3:11-12 NLT)

Building Our Brands

John was quite clear that he was doing the work that God had assigned him, but he was not the Good News. He was called by God to identify and announce the Israelite’s Messiah. He wasn’t the one.
A problem we, as Christians, wrestle with is how to carry out God’s assignment while not becoming the focus from those to which we are ministering.

Many years ago, my wife took a down and out couple under her wing. She helped them with transportation, with food, with other assistance. All of her actions included guidance to truly commit their lives to Jesus, attend church, and embrace the Christian walk. They did not.

They didn’t embrace Christ; instead, they looked to my wife to supply their needs. She became the focal point of their faith. When it became evident that they did not desire Jesus, then my wife removed herself from their lives.
For each of us that are believers, we must always ask ourselves, “Am I pointing to Jesus? Am I calling others to see Jesus instead of me, or am I building my brand and implying that they need me to gain access to Jesus and all the blessings of God? Am I a Christian Home Shopping Network, or am I like John the Baptist, calling the lost to repentance and pointing to the Messiah?

Are We Fulfilling the Reason That God Called Us?

Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, Children, do you have any fish?They answered him, “No.” 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. (John 21:3-6 ESV)

I’ve seen so many Christians with great intentions begin “branding and marketing” themselves. They have a unique pair of glasses that distinguish them or a distinctive hairstyle or a memorable “tag line” with which they always open. None of these things, in themselves, are sin. But when we begin using our abilities to promote ourselves to “catch fish” then we’ve gone off the tracks. If we are to gather those whom God has given into our hands, we must place our trust in the Holy Spirit to use us for the purpose which God called us.

Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash

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Missing the Boat

cruise ship heading into the sunset

Missing the Boat

There are few more painful emotions than to arrive late to an opportunity, to God’s calling. I have arrived moments too late to board the plane or train upon which I’d built my entire schedule, only to see it disintegrate just by one missed opportunity.

Perhaps you also have missed the purchase of the house of your dreams or the class you need to graduate or the job you desperately wanted or the person the Holy Spirit told you to witness to because you showed up moments too late.

As our hopes are left behind as our ship carries away our purpose, our calling, our future, having its ropes cast off, and with its engines roiling the sea, it pushes out into the deep while we stand on the dock, helpless, pleading with my Lord for one more chance.

God is not the God of Infinite Chances

God is the God of second chances. The Psalmist wrote, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” (Psalms 103:8) However, God’s Word also says, “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:13) God’s Word also states, “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,” (Acts 17:30) And in Isaiah we find, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” (Isaiah 55:6)

God is the God of second chances, but not the God of infinite opportunities. Act now, while it is still called “today.” “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)

God’s Good News for Us

Before you leave, feeling beat up, let me share two of my all-time favorite verses with you. “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) And Romans 8:31, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Photo by Alonso Reyes on Unsplash

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From the time of Christ until now, little has changed.

homeless man with a man helping him

A while back, I watched a documentary produced by Jews about Jewishness. The show was fascinating but sad. Oh, how we “goy” (i.e., Gentiles) have persecuted the Jews since their dispersion. If you know someone that’s Jewish, consider apologizing to them, for surely somewhere in your ancestry, as in mine, “you” have badly mistreated them.

An Attack Upon the Triune God

In this documentary a Jewish leader recognizes Islam as monotheistic but implied that Christians are not monotheistic because we believe in a Triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He then made a remark that has been rolling around in me ever since. He said, “Three gods? Why not four or five?”

It’s easy for anyone, not just Jews, to become confused about the Truth of the Trinity, but especially about Jesus, the Son of God (1 John 5:20). That was the fundamental problem that the Pharisees had with Jesus when Jesus acknowledged His deity. Just look at what the Pharisees said to Jesus. Ignoring His miracles and His teachings they said:

“You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”

John 8:57 (ESV)

Little Has Changed

Little has changed over the last two millennia. What is said today, by Gentiles about Jesus, is much worse. If you doubt society’s intolerance of Christianity, consider the new book in Daniel Silva’s nearly 20 year Gabriel Allon series. It seems Mr. Silva’s latest Gabriel Allon book, The Order, takes a sharp turn toward anti-Christianity. Using Mr. Silva’s words, “the writers of the four Gospels guilty of the most vicious slander in history…”

Nearly all authors tire of their most successful characters, yet most have the decency to kill them off. Here’s a detailed review of The OrderDaniel Silva book review: The Order.

Our Weapon Is Love

Before Jesus formally began His earthly ministry He was a carpenter. No doubt He learned all the tools of His trade and was remarkably skilled with them. We know this because, as a tradesman, He was called a tekton, meaning craftsman (Matthew 13:55).

When it came to preparing His disciples for ministry, Jesus told them which tool was the best and most important. Here’s what Jesus said: By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)

The more people assail us, and most certainly they will assail us as we take a firm stand for the things God’s Word declares as Truth, the more we must demonstrate love among believers and extend love to the lost.

Photo by Zac Durant on Unsplash

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Eating Brussels Sprouts, Part 3 of “Why So Many”

sliced tomato on green vegetable

This is the 3rd installment of the series, “Why So Many?” In this series, we are taking some time to discover some of the characteristics of 1st century Christians that carried the Gospel of Jesus to many of the most populated countries of the 1st century world, laying the foundation for the 2.3 billion Christians in the world, today.

The Old Testament

Many Christians avoid most of the Old Testament. Genesis is fascinating, Psalms encouraging, Proverbs helpful, Ecclesiastes and Job are readable but confusing. All other books in the Old Testament tend to be relegated to a Scriptural smorgasbord.

David and Goliath, Jonah and the Whale fish, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and a few other stories are commonly cherry-picked from God’s Word. However, when the 1st century Christians evangelized they used what we call the Old Testament; there was no New Testament. As an example, let’s look at Hebrews 2:6 ESV, “It has been testified somewhere, “What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him?” The author of Hebrews was quoting Psalms 8:4, “what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?

For 1st century Christians, the books of the Old Testament were the Holy Scriptures they fed on and referred to when witnessing. As Christians living in the 21st century, we still need to feed on God’s Word. We need all of God’s Word; not just carbs and sugars, but proteins and the rest of God’s nutrients. Perhaps you’re like me, you may hate brussels sprouts, but they are good for us so (occasionally) we eat them. Likewise, you may be like me and feel intimidated by the 119th Psalm because it’s so lengthy. Still, for our lives in Christ, we need to consume those living words.

Wrap-Up

No matter where we look in this world we see people that need Jesus. The ways of our “modern” world are failing. Well, that’s what happened to the 1st century Jewish Christians and just look how God used them! Praise God, He is laying out before us opportunities to show and share Jesus like no other time in my lifetime.

We must love fellow Christians and love the lost, too. Hospitality needs to be our middle name. “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” (Hebrews 13:2 ESV) These are exciting times.

Photo by Jona Friedri on Unsplash

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–Styling This Site —

I apologize for continuing to change the way this site looks. I’m trying to get the mobile version to work well and fast. I hope to tidy up rockexcavationservice.org within the next couple of days.

Change for a Change

Real change is tough. Transient change seems to be a natural human cycle. These ephemeral changes trick our minds into thinking that we have affected some conditions that we perceive as being within our purview to modify.  

Common examples of these ECs (ephemeral changes) are,   

  • I’m going to learn a new language.  
  • I’m going to exercise every day.  
  • I’m going to church every Sunday.

It Must Take Root

We make these decisions and, often, that’s as far as we go. That simple mental exercise suffices. Occasionally, either on purpose or by accident, we act on our decision. We download Doulingo and start learning German; Ich lerne Deutsch!  

In our quest for change, we rearrange our daily schedule to make room for our new endeavor. Sadly, a few days or weeks later, some event interferes with unser neues Selbst (our new self) which throws our good intentions out the window. Our familiar life returns, and German becomes something we’ll tackle irgendwann mal (someday).

The problem with change that’s real is that it must take root within us. If it falls on stony ground or a footpath or an over committed calendar, then our change dies on that well-trodden road named Good Intentions.  

Real Change

Real change only becomes permanent when it becomes an integral aspect of our actual life; not our idealized life or life that everyone thinks we have. Real change doesn’t often happen, it doesn’t easily happen, and it doesn’t just happen.

The apostle Paul addressed the value to Christians for true change.  

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.   

Romans 12:2

My guess is that if you’ve come to my website then you’ve read Romans 12:2 countless times. But I think God wants to say something to us, so let’s break down this verse.  

This verse has:  

  • A commandDo not be conformed to this world  
  • A prognosisbut be transformed (this means changed)  
  • A mechanism: by the renewal of your mind (this means renovation of your mind)  
  • A process: that by testing you may discern what is the will of God  
  • An axiomwhat is good and acceptable and perfect (will of God)  

There is a concept within Romans 12:2 that every Christian must understand.  

It is the difference between an outward conformity or disguise and a thorough inward assimilation. The Christian is not to copy the fleeting fashions of the present time, but to be wholly transfigured in view of that higher mode of existence, in strict accordance with God’s will, that he has chosen.  

Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers 

Renovate Our Minds

Our transformation (change) is the result of the Holy Spirit’s work within us. The Holy Spirit will bring into our thoughts things that we need to change. When we obey God then He guides us and strengthens us in the renovation of our minds, that’s when true transformation takes place, bringing to maturity the true things of God within us.  

So, if we really do want to change, for a change, then we should begin our journey on our knees. God answers prayer. We must seek the true things of God, not the cheap knockoffs that the world wants us to choose. 

Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash

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Scars Contain a Story

I have a large scar on my arm. Many years ago, my wife and I were in what should have been a life-ending vehicular accident. At a high rate of speed, and then a sudden impact, I was thrown through the windshield which tore a gash in my arm and left me on my back, unconscious, in an open field. I give thanks to God for my scar because I could have easily lost my arm, then I would not have had a place for my scar.

Scars usually come with a story; it is a package deal. If I had to guess, I’d guess that you have a scar or two, and you have a story for each of them. Am I right?

It is human nature for us to have a story for our scars. Also, as humans, we want to hear those stories. How did you come by your scars? Did anyone die? Do your scars bother you? Have you learned to thank God for your scars?

Sometimes, we will establish a rapport with a scarred person just to learn their story. Often, their scars testify to an accident or a tragedy where God’s mercy sheltered their life.  

See My Scars

“…See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 

Luke 24:39-40

Jesus must have experienced boundless joy when He showed His scars to His apostles. Jesus, the Son of God, came from heaven to earth (John 6:38) to have a body to bear the scars of sacrifice. Without the body of Jesus, there would not have been a place for those scars.

As you know, blood bursts forth from wounds. However, the wounds of a dead person do not heal; their bodies never grow scars. Our Savior’s body was fully human (Hebrews 2:17) so, His body did bear the scars of His sacrifice, for His body did not see corruption (decay) (Acts 13:37) and He rose from the grave (1 Corinthians 15:4). 

Christ’s blood paid the price for redemption, His scars attest to His resurrection. As the Son of Man, the Second Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45), Jesus is the first of many that will be resurrected (Colossians 1:18). 

Thankful for Scars

It may seem odd to be thankful for scars, but I am so very thankful for the scars Jesus bears on His body. Do those scars make me happy? No. For if we that were created in the image of God had not turned against Him then He would not carry those scars. Those scars testify against us, but they also testify to the body God prepared (Hebrews 10:5) for our redemption, regeneration, reconciliation, and resurrection.  

I am thankful and full of immense joy for the scars of Jesus. The scars on the body of Jesus are more beautiful than all Creation for those scars are the receipt for Salvation which Jesus purchased.  

Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay

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People Need the Lord

a man kneeling and praying

No matter what you’ve done you can be saved. No matter what you feel you can be saved. No matter where you are you can be saved. It doesn’t matter if people think you are saved, you can be saved.

You may ask, “Gary, how do I know that God exists? My friends and I make fun of Christians. We use Jesus as a swear word. We are confident that science has disproved all ‘God-based’ religions. So why should I believe you?

Why believe me? Don’t! Who am I that you should believe what I say? But there is another, and it is He that has led you here. It is He that speaks to your soul, that speaks to the very depths of who you are. Listen to Him. Listen to Jesus. What you’ve done, what you feel, what others think or where you are is not a limitation to Jesus. 

Here’s the truth. People need the Lord. The tugging at your heart, the tears at the corner of your eyes, the heaviness within you. The Master is calling. Give your heart to Jesus. Go here. I’ve explained how to be saved: Salvation.

For the rest of us that have been on this great adventure for a while, please take a few minutes and listen to this powerful song, “People Need the Lord.” We all need reminded of our soul purpose in life.

Not a Dichotomy

I Hear Complicated Prayers

I have a concern for many of my brothers and sisters in Christ. It seems like many Christians think that the Bible disagrees with itself. When we accept and embrace dichotomies (i.e., division) in our faith, we develop weak spots in our armor that weaken our faith and hobble our prayer life.

I hear complicated prayers from Christians that are not resting in the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ. God knows the intentions of our hearts. We can’t cover our weakness or confusion by adding disclaimers to our prayers. 

Do Verses in the Bible Disagree?

Let’s consider an example of an apparent dichotomy in the Scriptures. Consider these two passages.  

  1. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
  1. Brothers, pray for us. (1 Thessalonians 5:25)

If all things work together for good to them that love God, then why pray? Why not just claim the promise in Romans 8:28 and skip the prayer? Ah, you didn’t see that one coming, did you?

Well, as you remember, we always interpret Scripture with Scripture; anything less is worth-less. So, we know that Jesus prayed (Luke 5:16). Jesus taught His disciples how to pray (Matthew 6:9-13). Jesus told His disciples that there were things they couldn’t do without prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:21). Jesus taught us to ask, to seek, and to knock (Matthew 7:7)…incessantly (Luke 18:1-8).

So, it is clear in God’s Word that it is God’s will for us to pray. And God does answer prayers. 🙏 

Interpreting Scripture with Scripture

Therefore, if God changes time and circumstances in His loving response to the prayers of His children, then what does the apostle Paul mean in Romans 8:28?

I think we need to visit what the apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Philippians 4:6 (NIV)

We see in Philippians 4:6 both the imperative to pray and to appeal (i.e., supplicate), and to not worry and to give thanks. The Holy Spirit has not left us any room to worry. So, the “don’t be anxious” in Philippians is the outcome from obeying Romans 8:28’s “knowing all things work together for good.”

By interpreting Scripture with Scripture we now know that we cannot fulfill God’s command in Philippians 4:6 unless we fully embrace Romans 8:28 and 1 Thessalonians 5:25.

No Dichotomies in God

From this brief exercise, we’ve discovered that two verses that appear to conflict with each other are actually dependent upon each other in order to fulfill the Holy Spirit’s Truth contained in Philippians 4:6. God’s Word is so awesome!

When it comes to our relationship with God, we need to know what we believe in and resolve anything in us that is confusing, “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace…” (1 Corinthians 14:33)

Don’t allow yourself to live with dichotomies in your faith. It is vital to know what you believe and to verify what you believe with what the Bible teaches. Dichotomies of faith are like arthritis in the joints of our body. They are a spiritual irritant and, left unchecked, will deform our pure faith. They will cause us to be weak when we need to be strong.

Photo by James Heilman, MD / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

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