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. 

Photo by v2osk on Unsplash

You may like:
https://www.rockexcavationservice.org/shekinah-clothes/

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.

Photo credit: Official U.S. Air Force on VisualHunt

You may like:
https://www.rockexcavationservice.org/thanks/

Our Heavenly How

a welder

Thankfully, my dad grew up on a farm, so, along with agriculture, he learned carpentry, plumbing, mechanical design, engine repair, and all kinds of skills. It wasn’t just my dad but all of his brothers (and I think my aunt) learned these skills. So even though most of them had other careers they all possessed and used these skills throughout their lives.

I, as well as all of my paternal cousins, learned these same skills. Why? Because our fathers showed us how. They mentored us (in a 1960s sort of way). They showed us how and required us to use these skills as we grew up.

Our Heavenly How

Our heavenly Father also shows us how. We learn “how” by observing. We see Father God at work in the Scriptures, at work in the lives of fellow believers, at work in divine interventions, and at work through people that have no idea that God is using them. Father God doesn’t just tell us to do His work. He shows us how.

As Christians we are reconciled to the Father. Jesus accomplished this on the cross. We are not fatherless; we are not orphans; we are not without hope. Through Jesus, the Father has shown us how to pray, how to deal with rejection, and how to walk by faith.

Our heavenly Father shows us how to recover when our lives crash, how to choose what is right over what is expedient, and how to please Him, just to name a few more examples. He is always near, always showing us how, ever catching us when we fall. 

Use the How

Do you remember how the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write to his “son,” Timothy? He wrote, “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, (2 Timothy 1:6 ESV)…Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15 ESV).”

Paul reminded his “son” that he had been shown how to use the tools and skills that had been given to him; so he needed to use them. Knowing “how” is wonderful but our Father’s expectation is that, by faith, we use our “how”.

Benediction

As I conclude, I would like to reference this Scripture as a closing benediction:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13 ESV)

Photo by Maxime Agnelli on Unsplash

You may like:
https://www.rockexcavationservice.org/how-close/

Three Keys to our Daily Life in Christ

neon sign that says keys and has an outline of a key

It’s odd, the things that we remember from when we were young. But first, this memory that lazily wandered through my skull.

I remembered a thought that I had after I started my first full-time job. For several months I was underwater and didn’t have time to think, but then this thought hit me: I no longer have my summertimes off as I had in school. I have to work like this for the rest of my life! (Remember, I was young)

I wasn’t sure I could work forever. I felt a sense of helplessness combined with dread wash over me. I had a good relationship with Jesus, but I still had much to learn; always do. However, you see, I hadn’t discovered three keys to living my life for Jesus.

Three Keys

1. I was trying to picture the whole rest of my life. That doesn’t work. If I try to live in the future, then I will be confused, disappointed, and out of God’s will. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23 ESV) How can I even guess my future when daily I lay down my life and pick up my cross and follow Jesus. I rarely know where Jesus is going today until today, so I have no idea what I’ll be doing. 

2. I was envisioning my future upon what my life had been like in the past. That’s just silly. Past failures or successes do not determine my future. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV) That old person that I was, has no authority over me and the new person that I am serves the God whose name is “I Am,” so what do I have to dread about the future?

3. I was thinking within the knowledge, wisdom, and faith that I had at the time when that thought went through my mind. But as we follow Jesus, our knowledge increases, our understanding becomes deeper, and our faith grows stronger. I am not the same as I was. I think differently. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:17 ESV) Sure, my flesh rises from time to time, and I have to beat it into submission, but that’s part of my cross. 

Pleasing Jesus

Now, many decades later, it seems odd to me that such a thought loomed so large before me. By the grace of Father God, the Shepherding of Jesus, and the work of the Holy Spirit within me, I now see that I just walked right through that fear and dread and didn’t even notice when I did.

These three keys are how you and I successfully live daily in Christ Jesus. We are living through such an incredible adventure!

Photo credit: jaygooby on Visualhunt.com / CC BY

You may like:
https://www.rockexcavationservice.org/names/

No animals were harmed during the writing of this devotional

Holy Priesthood

1 Peter 2:4-5, As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

This “holy priesthood” to which God called us is not in name only nor is it a formal position within the clergy. This role is for all Christians. If we, as Christians, are called to a holy priesthood, then we have work that we must do that aligns with our position.

We don’t sacrifice bulls or goats or lambs

God does not view us as holy priests after the lineage of Aaron; ours is a spiritual priesthood. We don’t sacrifice bulls or goats or lambs in this new priesthood. Since we operate within the Spirit, our sacrifices are spiritual. A good question to ask here is, “What does Peter mean by “spiritual sacrifices?”

We read that Jesus is a living stone (singular), and we are living stones (plural). Therefore our holy priesthood is modeled on that of Jesus, the Great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14). As such, our spiritual sacrifices are foremost that of self and will. Here is a verse to verify this statement: 1 John. 3:16 (ESV), “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.”

One Mediator Between God and Man

As we know, the ministry of Aaron and his sons was to mediate between people and God. However, as the Bible says in 1 Timothy 2:5 (ESV), “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus…” So, in addition to self-sacrifice, what is it that Christians do in this holy priesthood? Every Christian everywhere is called to be mediators and intercessors between each other and God through Christ Jesus.

We have confidence in our call to be mediators and intercessors because “...we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us…” (see the full context in Hebrews 10:19-25) 

Mediating and Interceding

Our spiritual duty in this holy priesthood is to mediate and intercede for other Christians. This duty means that we counsel and pray with other Christians, using the wisdom, guidance, and other gifts the Holy Spirit gives us, so all Christians come into alignment with the will of God.

As intercessors for other Christians, we add our standings with God to other Christians’ standings. We say “amen” to the prayers our brothers and sisters pray as they lay their petitions before God with assurance, through mediation, that their requests can be asked in the name of Jesus.

These roles help keep the Body of Christ healthy, protected, and in alignment with God’s will.

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

You may also like:
https://rockexcavationservice.org/gods-will-and-our-will/

Today

As I write this devotional, I confess that I have a cluttered mind. A loved one is going through the process to determine if they have a critical medical condition. I learned of this today.

Also, today, I was asked to consider taking on a voluntary responsibility that was not on my radar. And now I sit here trying to discern what God would have me share with you when what I want is to hear from God about my concerns.

Perhaps that’s too transparent, but it’s the truth.

Don’t click off this page just yet! 

I want to take a moment and consider Ephesians 2:10 (ESV): 

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

The specific word rendered “workmanship” is only used in one other place and that’s in Romans 1:20, where it is applied to the “works” of God in creation. Verse ten’s perimeter is people – the design and manufacturing of Adam and his progeny is the perimeter of “workmanship.”

Now, within that border (i.e., perimeter), when we were saved, we each became a new creation crafted in Christ Jesus. We were jars of clay before we were saved and we are jars of clay after we are saved. However, for each of us, our spirit is “made alive” inside our clay jar when we become a new creation.

Formed and Born in Jesus!

Now this new creation is formed and born in Jesus; this is not about tangible things but it refers to the Spirit. So, what I’m saying is that your spirit became alive in you when you became a new creation. The same was true for me.

And for each of us, our new creation was built to express the fruit of the Spirit. The characteristics of this fruit are defined in Galatians 5:22-23: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control [in an ever increasing measure]; against such things there is no law. 

Now Ephesians 2:10 speaks of the work we are to do. Notice the “walk in them.” The work being referenced is something in which we can walk, like a new pair of shoes.

New Shoes!

These “new shoes” refer to the character of a new creation person. A new creation person should express a new character as defined 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.

It seems that there is a lot wrapped up in the twenty-two words of Ephesians 2:10. The good news is that, as a Christian, you were made for this. Jesus and you can do this!

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

You may also like:
https://rockexcavationservice.org/salvation/

Cookies

When I was in first grade at school, I came home one day and told my mother that I was supposed to bring cookies to school the next day for the whole class. Now, I don’t remember any of this, but I’m confident that I believed this burden was placed on my tiny shoulders; well, my mother’s.

At that time, we lived in the country, and my mother had neither a car nor a license to drive. She went into panic mode – rummaged through our pantry she came up with an impromptu receipt and proceeded to make fifty cookies – her math was that each child would want two cookies, and the teacher would want one or two, and there would be leftovers in case visitors were there. We didn’t see Mom that evening as she turned our kitchen into a bakery factory.

The Next Day

The next day she made it a point to come to school with me – I don’t know how – to make sure I didn’t eat, lose, or destroy the cookies for which my whole class was anticipating. I don’t remember this. However, I do remember this next part. Upon arriving, Mom handed the cookies to my teacher with a perfunctory apology about hoping she’d made enough and that they tasted okay. My teacher was speechless, which was quite unusual for her. She calmly explained to my mother that there wasn’t a special occasion, and she had not requested cookies from any parent. My teacher laughed; my mom rather stiffly responded in kind. Mom left, leaving the cookies for the class. I thought it was a great treat, not knowing that for the rest of her life, my mother never let me forget that incident.

Cookie Fiasco

Admittedly, the cookie fiasco, as it’s come to be known, is a trivial event. Still, this event demonstrates the lengths to which a parent will go do for their kids. “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11) Now that’s good news!

Photo by Ashley Kirk on Unsplash

You may also like:
https://rockexcavationservice.org/the-gift-of-a-penitent-heart/

New Every Morning

Lam 3:22-24 (KJV), “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.

I often claim this passage during my morning prayer time. God’s compassion does not fail. At one time or other things and people will fail us just as we will fail others. Only Jesus is perfect. We know this, and Hebrews 5:9 confirms it: “And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,” knowing this, “therefore will I hope in him.”

From Laminations comes this beautiful hymn which we’ve sung so many times. I pray that our Father will show it to us with fresh eyes.

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee,
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not,
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.


Refrain:
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!


Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above;
Join with all nature in manifold witness,
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.


(Refrain)
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own great presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside.

Photo by Federico Respini on Unsplash

You may also like:
https://rockexcavationservice.org/oh-silly-rabbit/

Fathers

Fathers

What I shared last Sunday, “Happy Husband’s Day” was what I felt God wanted to be said. It might have only been for one person, but Our Father works in the details, not just with grand plans. Anyway, today I’m sharing my devotional about Fathers.

I grew up surrounded by tools. Plows, bush hogs, and rakes for farming, crescent wrenches, ratchet sets and spark plug gap gauges for auto repairs, saws, rasps, and drill sets for carpentry, wire strippers, screwdrivers and pliers for electrical work, slide rules, multi-meters and IBM FORTRAN books for teaching. Just about anything I wanted to make, Dad had a tool for it.

fathers tools
Electronics

If I couldn’t figure out how to use the tool, then he’d teach me. (Nearly) Always I was encouraged to master the use of these tools. Along with tools for building “things” Dad gave me tools to build my character, to bless others, to build a family, and to build my life founded on Jesus Christ.

Why all those tools, you may ask? Because the role of fathers is to “beget.” One of the definitions of “beget” is “to bring into the world.” Dad’s tools “brought into the world” countless things, both seen and unseen. That’s what a good father does. That’s what I’ve attempted. So, we should be encouraged by 2 Corinthians 6:18 (ESV)  where God says,

and I will be a father to you,
and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty.

Now that’s good news!


You may also be interested in our devotional: “Craftsmen at Work

Photo by Carlos Irineu da Costa on Unsplash
Photo by Nicolas Thomas on Unsplash

Family

Babies, toddlers, teenager, millennials, Gen X’ers, Baby Boomers, and the Greatest Generation. People from all of these categories, and more, inundate my in-laws home at least once a year for a family get-together.

I enjoy these family get-togethers but I especially enjoy quiet times with my in-laws. Just recently, my wife and I were visiting her parents. Their authentic Christian lives have been an encouragement to me for many years. I almost always learn something from my father-in-law each time we visit.

Someday, my father-in-law will take up his residence in heaven. That will be a glorious day for him, but a sad day for so many of us. Thankfully, I will always have my Heavenly Father for the Bible says in Romans 8:15: The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

Now, this world is full of religions, with some claiming to be Christian. To be sure, there are aspects of Christianity that are pure religion. In James 1:27 it says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” And, yes, there are “do’s” and “don’t” in the Bible (1 Co 11:24 …this do in remembrance of me. 1 Jn 2:15 Love not the world…) but those are not religious rhetoric. They are about teaching an adopted child how to live in God’s Family. For, you can see from Romans 8:15 that I am an adopted child of God.

Yes, my parents’ histories are full of wild characters, yet even more so is my Father’s Family. I’ve read about an old prophet in my Father’s Family history that was thrown into a den of lions (Daniel), a young, insecure man that stood up and fought an army (Gideon) and, of course, One Man that died and rose again to secure salvation for all who accept Him (Jesus). I’ve got kings and princesses, farmers and tent makers in my Father’s Family.

When I am reading the Bible, I’m learning about my Family; often they are things about which only families care. I’ve read about Ruth sleeping at the feet of Boaz, Princess Esther daring to enter the king’s inner court without an invitation, the prophet Jeremiah being thrown into a well and living to tell about it, and so many more tidbits of Family history.

As I study my Bible, I am learning about my everlasting Family. And, as I read, these Family members seem to gather around me (Hebrews 12:1), rejoicing in God as the Holy Spirit helps me discover how Jesus is woven within it all. I’m slowly learning to live as an adopted son of my Father.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

%d bloggers like this: