Contentment

Is It Dusty In Here?

a car kicking up dust

“…By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” – Genesis 3:19

Today my in-laws are attending a funeral for a middle-aged man that, over a number of years, became something of a son to them. They recently visited him one morning, and later that same day, he unexpectedly died. It’s been a big blow to them, like burying one of their children.

One of the things I’ve become acutely aware of, as I’ve aged, is the increasing frequency of funerals of people I love, people I know, people I know of. This observation has caused an awakening within me of how brief our time truly is for our walk within God’s Creation.

Stories of Dust

At birth, we each step into a story that has already begun. Siblings, cousins, parents, grandparents, friends, all are in our story, but we also step into their story. Wars, famines, conflicts, and more were all underway before we were a twinkle in our mothers’ eyes. Yet when we come upon the stage of life, we somehow feel that we “own” our time, not appreciating that our time is on loan from God. 

Within God’s divine plan, spanning thousands of years for the progeny of Adam, most of us are simple accouterments to His design. Dust we are and dust we shall return to. 

Our story in human history will close. Nevertheless, we are much loved by God. We are offered eternal life in God’s kingdom through Jesus. And out of His love, we are given and provisioned with a role designed just for each of us. How wonderful is our Father, how faithful is our Savior, how trustworthy is the Holy Spirit! Indeed, even as dust, we are greatly blessed.

Photo by Nico on Unsplash

You may like:https://rockexcavationservice.wordpress.com/2020/01/25/god-is-in-control-2/

This is the way you should go

A picture of Earth from space

As we draw closer to a new year, I hope each of us will find a time when we can be alone with the one true God. Through Jesus, our Lord and Savior, let us draw near to God and worship Him, praise Him, and, through the Holy Spirit, listen to Him.

Has the World Lost Its Mind?

We live in a time of significant changes and great challenges. Powerful countries are redrawing their borders, engulfing other sovereign states as they reposition themselves to carry out their agendas.

America is fractured; even many family members hate each other because of their political views. The UK wrestles with Brexit, its most divisive issue in decades. Countries in Central and South America struggle economically and politically. Europe, too, struggles with many of their EU countries experiencing minimal economic growth and social issues that expose old wounds and old hatred (i.e., anti-Semitism). India, Asia, and many countries in Africa are experiencing political strife and regional violence.

Peace and Good News

Nevertheless, through Jesus, we always find peace and good news. And we should remember that, in His own time, God moves rapidly. We see this in Isaiah 48:3 (ESV), “The former things I declared of old; they went out from my mouth, and I announced them; then suddenly I did them, and they came to pass…

As the prophet Isaiah spoke God’s Word, let us ask God to say this to us, also: Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left. (Isaiah 30:21 NLT)

Photo by The New York Public Library on Unsplash

You may like:
https://www.rockexcavationservice.org/clouds-in-my-coffee/

Soul Insulation

people walking in downtown as it snows

As I recently mentioned, we bought a shed for my office. Getting the electrical installed was easy-peasy because we “have” an electrician that is reliable and affordable. However, we have struggled to get my office insulated and drywalled. It seems that my project is too small for anyone to bother with.

My wife and I are about ready to do this work ourselves. When we were younger, we’d already had the job finished. However, time is catching up with us, and our strength is waning. Still, I’m confident that God will make a way for this work to be accomplished.

Just as a house or office needs insulation to keep out the extremes of weather, so we as Christians need insulation to maintain a barrier between what the Holy Spirit is working within us and what our society is attempting to stifle within us.

Soul Insulation

One of the best spiritual insulators for our minds and souls can be purchased for free. It is be found in 

Philippians 4:8-9, Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

This passage of scripture gives us the insulation that we need to keep the world from chilling the Holy Spirit’s fire within us or overheating our passion for the work God has given us, which can lead to frustration and anger. 

Keep the Precepts of Philippians

Daily we need to keep the precepts of Philippians 4:8-9 at the forefront of our thoughts. If we do this, then the storms of life may buffet us, but we will remain warm and snuggly with God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Photo by Matthias Kinsella on Unsplash

You may like:
https://rockexcavationservice.wordpress.com/2019/09/06/guard-your-minds-and-be-joyful/ 

Why do the nations rage?

Why do the nations rage

I enjoy discovering a verse to a Christian song as I’m reading my Bible. In today’s devotional, we’ll be looking at Acts 4, and verse twenty-five is used in a favorite song of mine by the late Rich Mullens. His song, “Why do the nations rage” is truly powerful. Here’s his opening verse:

Verse:

Why do the nations rage?
Why do they plot and scheme?
Their bullets can’t stop the prayers we pray In the name of the Prince of Peace
We walk in faith and remember long ago
How they killed Him and then how on the third day He arose
Well, things may look bad
And things may look grim
But all these things must pass except the things that are of Him

Now, to the action scene:

Acts 4:23-26 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:

“Why do the nations rage 
         and the peoples plot in vain?
26 The kings of the earth rise up
            and the rulers band together
     against the Lord
            and against his anointed one.

The Church’s Prayer:

These words are parts of the Church’s prayer on the occasion of its first collision with the civil power. The Bible provides a detailed accounting of this occasion in Acts, chapters three and four. Regarding this affair, MacLaren’s Expositions states:

The incident is recorded at full length because it is the first of a long and bloody series, in order that succeeding generations might learn their true weapon and their sure defense. Prayer is the right answer to the world’s hostility, and they who only ask for courage to stand by their confession will never ask in vain.

Prayer is the first weapon, and the best weapon Christians have for dealing with confrontation. We have the armor about which Paul wrote. And we are to wear it. Even more so, the start and end of it all is prayer. The battle is not ours to win; it is God’s.

A related post can be found here: https://rockexcavationservice.org/acts-541-counted-worthy-of-suffering-disgrace-for-the-name-of-jesus/

Photo by Pedro Lima on Unsplash

Good to me

When your favorite sports team wins you want to call a fellow fan and replay the great plays of the game. My son-in-law is this way. When you buy car and get a great deal you want to tell someone; talk about how the deal came down, how you got more for less and all the of the car’s cool features. When you plan your marriage anniversary and for the first time get it right you want to tells someone, everyone, post it on Facebook.

The sports fan will acknowledge their team’s mistakes but will gloss over them because, hey, their team won. This same process is true with the new car purchase and the anniversary celebration. Sure, it might have been tough but victory was won.

The fact is, we all need to celebrate the good things that happen to us. So, it shouldn’t be surprising when our eyes are opened by the Holy Spirit and we see what God has done for us. God loves us and Jesus intervenes for us with our heavenly Father. We see this in Psalms 13:6 which proclaims, “I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.

Without a relationship with Jesus we have little hope for answered prayer for we will have ignored God’s greatest gift to us, How sad my life would be without God’s goodness to me.

Photo by Tom Grimbert (@tomgrimbert) on Unsplash

Well worn paths

Growing up in Indiana, one of the fun things we used to do is go to Turkey Run State Park. The park is full of walking trails, some quite easy but others difficult with ladders to climb, steep hills, narrow valleys plus lots and lots of mud. For a young person, it just didn’t get any better for a Saturday in the summertime than to spend the day walking these trails.

On the tougher trails we always looked for the well-worn paths, handholds, and footholds since, before us, these had proven their value to many that had tackled those difficult trails. The same goes for our walk with Jesus. Sometimes, Christ, has us hiking over flat land or rolling hills, but other times Jesus will put us on paths that are demanding and exceed our physical abilities; ways that can only be completed by Jesus holding or carrying us.

When we’re walking a tough, slippery trail in life its good to remember Colossians 2:6-7 which reads, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

  • We must get our footing, so we don’t fall – rooted
  • We must have established the skills – built up in Him
  • We must have strengthened ourselves – strengthened in the faith
  • We must look for well worn paths – as you were taught

And, we must be as overflowing with thankfulness as kids on a summer day on their way to Turkey Run.

Commitment

My wife and I will soon be celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary, over 30 years of marital bliss. 😉 Actually it’s much better than that, but we have been through a few challenging times in our relationship.

Commitment carried us through when nothing else seemed to be there. This provided us with time for our love to return. That’s the way it can be in our walk with Jesus. Something may or may not happen that we earnestly asked of our Lord but we were denied. What then? Christ’s disciples faced a similar situation which caused Jesus to ask:

“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. (John 6:67 NIV) Many left but some stayed, including the twelve.

I’ve heard it said that life is just solving a series of problems. There are times when that statement seems true. From, “Do I switch from whole milk to 2%?”, all the way to, “Dad is dead but he seems alive on the ventilator, so do we have them pull the plug?” I’ve lived both of these.

Remember, our battles, our tests, are not against people, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12)

Just as in boxing, we must always face our opponents head-on. And, when we seem to be on the precipice of disaster let us stand our ground for our God is able, His right arm is not weak. God expects us to remain committed to Him and do as King David wrote in Psalms 3:3-6

A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom.

3 But you, Lord, are a shield around me,    
my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
4 I call out to the Lord,   
and he answers me from his holy mountain.
5 I lie down and sleep;    
I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
6 I will not fear though tens of thousands    
assail me on every side.

Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash

Personal Comments:

Many of my recent posts have been about commitment, perseverance, knowing what you believe, and so forth. This is not because there’s nothing else to write about. Rather, people around the world are in a spiritual battle the likes of which haven’t been seen in hundreds of years.

Our struggle is not against individuals. We are not the “negative” group. We want to uplift people. We want morality and human rights. Our struggle is a spiritual one.

If we allow ourselves to get caught up in hating or disparaging individuals then we will lose. Only as we battle on our knees and dare to speak what is true with our voices will we be found standing with Jesus. It is a time when we all must be bold.

Always

My dad, having been an educator, taught me the value and subtleties of words. He would quote that old saw, “Don’t use a 50 cent word if a 10 cent word is better.” But, he liked 50 cent words. Of course, when he told me that saying, 50 cents would buy a meal at the local diner.

In logic, a tautology is a formula or assertion that is true in every possible interpretation. My dad loved tautological words; I inherited that love.  In today’s passage of Scripture, God has given us several tautological words but I would like us to consider the word “always”. Here’s the passage:

Hebrews 7:
22 Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant.
23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 
24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 
25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

Verse twenty-two defines the context: a better covenant. Within this context, now let us consider verse twenty-five: Jesus always lives to intercede for them. That statement is tautological; it remains true in every possible interpretation. There are no logical contradictions or contingencies.

Having entered the “better covenant”, we know that no matter what circumstances, what trials, what spiritual attacks we find ourselves, we have Jesus as our intercessor, always, That’s good news!

Photo by R. Mac Wheeler on Unsplash

Are we on task?

I have known a person of letters for many years. I met him when I was in high school, and he worked with my dad. As it happened, despite my youth, we were friends, and we often talked about a book he was writing. We discussed his progress and the excellent feedback he received from his publisher as he sent completed chapters in for review.

He was quite excited, as was I. He was excited because he saw the unfolding of his vision and I because it was fun to hear his good news and to learn the process for writing and publishing a book.

After nearly a year his book was published, and for an academic book, it sold quite well. As a result of his success, this man advanced his standing within his peers, and the university rewarded him for his success as a published professor.

With these new accolades came new opportunities and new ambitions for him. He embraced his success, and he transformed his comportment; he was now published.

Being young and on my own life’s trajectory, for many years I lost track of this fine man. Decades later, by happenstance, we met at a funeral.  He was not the same. None of his other books had sold well, and he no longer was an active author. There was a sense of bitterness, or perhaps it was disappointment that seeped into his conversation. 

Our conversation drew me to the words of Job, “…Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10) Our assignment, as Christians, is to follow Jesus, learn to respond in all situations as Jesus would respond, and to actively do the job(s) to which Jesus has uniquely called each of us.

There’s no value from disparaging our life’s condition, even if our life does not look like success to our friends and family. Maybe our life isn’t the one for which we asked. How many times has our Lord given us a harvest which we didn’t sow? Jesus said this to his disciples in John 4:38, “I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.” Work and the fruits of that work are not promised to the same person. Faithfulness is what our Lord seeks from us.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to rid myself of selfishness and pride for I know the work You give me is the standard by which You will measure me. You will consider my life not by how much I gain, how many I gather, or successes I garner, but You will judge me by how faithful I’ve been to Your call. Help me to point people to you, Lord. Amen.

Photo by Tra Nguyen on Unsplash

Cloudy with a chance of weirdness

I’ll let you in on a running conversation my wife, and I are having. It’s not something I previously considered sharing, but I think I should. So, here’s the crux of the matter: Both of us feel somewhat constrained, perhaps even oppressed, by American culture.

We are Christians, and we aren’t ashamed of this nor do we think the proper thing to do is not speak of it in public settings; we should not keep it in our homes. We are Americans, and we love and respect what our American flag stands for. Our flag is not a symbol of hate or a derisive symbol. We believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to work, and should work if they are able. We think that our country’s founders knew better than us the tyranny of an all-powerful central government, so they attempted to design mechanisms to limit federal authority, not to prevent our government from doing good but to constrain it from doing harm.  

We’ve been having these conversations to help us look at these issues from many different perspectives because our hearts’ desire is to think right and do right. Unfortunately, it seems that if we add our opinions to society’s marketplace of ideas, we are categorized as hateful and expelled from the market.

Now, neither my wife nor I have suffered even a smidge from these rebuffs, but I am reminded that it is both natural and healthy for Christians to suffer in this world. That may seem odd, but I see it as an enduring aspect of Christianity’s life in this world. Just look at what Jesus said.

For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.” (Philippians 1:29-30 NIV)

So, even if our society decays to the point where you or I do suffer for what is right, we are blessed, for God’s Word says, “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” (1 Peter 3:14 NIV)

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