Rest

When is the last time you just rested and let the music play on?

This little guy is not the least bit concerned that his resting place won't last. He isn't trying to figure out how to nap on the guitar and play it at the same time. In fact, it's not his problem whether or not music ever gets played.


Trust looks a lot like this kitten.


Scripture is filled with commands to "trust in the Lord," "wait patiently for Him," and "rest on His promises."
We say we believe that, but you will never catch us sleeping when there is music to be played. We get so caught up in trying to play, trying to serve, trying to work that we ignore that still small voice that says, "Rest in Me."

Is it the responsibility of this kitten to play the guitar? Is it his fault if music never comes from this instrument?


We don't assume that the guitar is his. We know it belongs to someone bigger and smarter and able to bring music from his napping spot.


What if you chose to stop considering your problems yours?

What if you handed them over to Someone bigger and smarter and better able to run your life than you are?

What if you decided today that it no longer mattered what kind of music came from your guitar, what others thought of it, or whether it was as good as someone else's?

What if you curled up on His guitar and let Him worry about making the music?


Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. Psalm 37:5-6


Message from the Animal Kingdom


You're kiddin', right?

No seriously. You don't buy that, do ya?

Excuse me while I laugh myself sick. Whoo-wee, do I need a banana!

There. OK. Now let's talk.

I heard a rumor...and yes, it's only a rumor. (You know how those hyenas like to gossip.)

But somebody told me you humans are spreading the story that we are...okay, get ready...that you and I are somehow related! No, I swear on a stack of rotten fruit that I'm not making this up! Hyenas chatter a lot, but they're usually pretty reliable.

I thought you were supposed to be the more intelligent of us species, but now I'm wondering. You won't catch anybody in the animal kingdom trying to pass off a puddle of barf like that. We know better.

Speech, for starters. We've got the lips and tongue for it, but not the mechanisms in between. We have our own ways of communicating, but nothing close to that confusing jumble you use. You can train us all you like, but we're not going to vocalize the Gettysburg Address.

And clothing? Forget it! We like our fur just as it is and frankly don't see the problem with picking our privates in public. Just like some of your baseball players. They're rude, but that doesn't make them primates.

I'm just a bit concerned. We've always understood your species to be at the top of the heap. Our Creator instilled the fear of you in every one of us, so it puzzles me why you want to pretend we're in the same family.

You've got it all! Thoughts, souls, music, a conscience, and above all, the chance to know the Creator. He became one of you, for goodness sakes. He didn't become one of us.

So, let's make this perfectly clear. We don't want you. We're primates and proud of it. We aren't trying to be YOU and we wonder why you pretend to be US.

One look at the things you're doing, the way you've treated our Creator, the boundaries you're crossing that were never meant to be crossed, should make it abundantly clear. But just in case you don't get it, let me spell it out.

The idea that you are our nearest kin is insulting to us. We think you want to blame your evil ways on us, so you can say it's not your fault, you're just a hairless monkey.

We have a request of you: Don't go looking to us to excuse your behavior. We'd never stoop that low. If you want an excuse, look somewhere else.

Thank you.


Are We Pretending it's 1950?


If you haven't noticed it yet, look around.

These are desperate times. Desperate times call for extravagant measures.

Back in the Day, American society as a whole understood right and wrong. Gentlemen did not swear in front of ladies. Everyone looked out for everyone else's children. It wasn't perfect, but there was a general standard of decency that people understood and respected, Christian or not.

How times change.

And the change has come faster than any societal change in history. With the intrusion of the internet, satellites, cell phones, and Hollywood, evil is mushrooming like an atomic blast. For the first time in America's history, social attitude has rejected Judeo-Christian values in favor of outright hostility toward the God of the Bible. And these messages are absorbed through our pores every moment of every day.

The moral health of our nation is deteriorating while the Church sleeps on. We cannot withstand the evil of Noah's day with a 1950's I Love Lucy mentality. It is not working. We are being inundated with the values and thoughts of our Enemy in ways never imagined by our predecessors. And it's time we fought back.

It's time we who know better learned to tune out the voices that want to destroy us. Why do we think we can absorb television, newspaper, and magazine articles produced by people who decry everything we stand for, listen to the world's music, the world's entertainment, and the world's ideas and not suffer for it? We are silly fools playing right into the Enemy's hands. He hardly has to work to tie most Christians into a dozen knots.

The days of thinking we can show up at church on Sunday mornings, check in with God for the week, and head back to our regular lives is past. What we head back to is a cesspool and we cannot swim in it the other 6 days of the week and expect to be spiritually stable.

How much more decadence will we tolerate before giving ourselves permission to exit this propaganda machine? When the Apostle Paul said, "We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" he was talking to us.

We can no longer be passive in our relationship with God and expect that to work. It won't. Just look around at those who call themselves Christians.

It is time to take an active role in replacing the lies with truth inside our own heads. It's not enough to dribble a little godliness on our hearts and pretend we're washed clean. We need to be immersed, saturated with holiness, if we expect to live in this world and not not be ripped apart by it.

When not otherwise mentally engaged, we must be proactive in filling our minds and spirits with godliness. Worship music of the highest quality is available everywhere. The same technology that allows Satan to advance his agenda, also allows the righteous to offer theirs.

Buy an iPod. Download iTunes. Find the artists whose music takes you to the foot of God's throne, and get to listening.

Is your reading material drawing your thoughts away from God? Are your entertainment choices simply mind-numbing or are they spirit-reviving? There is a difference and your life, your mood, and your spiritual productivity will reflect that difference.

Matthew 6:21 reminds us that "where our treasure is, there will our hearts be." So where is your treasure?

Is your time saturated with the world's offerings? What do your choices reveal about where your heart is?
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Hanging Loose


I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.

I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:11-13



Let's all strive toward that goal this week.


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One Size Does Not Fit All


Yeah. WHOA...!

Does one size really fit all? I think the photo answers that sufficiently. That guy should never have stepped foot inside that car. Wasn't made for him.

We can snort at this guy,
but what mold are you trying to squeeze into that doesn't fit?


  • Do you hold up someone else as the epitome of what you should be?
  • Does the mental image of someone else's accomplishments feel like a blow to the stomach?
  • Do you berate yourself because you're you and not someone else?
  • Have you ever thought that you trying to be someone else might appear to others the same way that photo appears to you?

We humans are terrible about comparing our pitiful achievements to someone else's victories and using them as whips with which to flog ourselves. Christians don't necessarily score any better.

Paul wrote of this very thing when he compared us to the body of Christ and reminded us that no member was more important than any other member. Every body part is important and we are never more aware of this than when one part is missing or malfunctioning. When your toe hurts, the entire body is incapacitated. If your thumb is missing, it affects everything you do.

And when one of us tries to fit into the mold of another, we can become as ridiculous as that guy in the teensy car.
If you are where God put you, doing your best at whatever He's asked you to do, then smile. You're extremely valuable. You don't need to squeeze into somebody else's car. Drive your own.
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Are You Running on a Dead Battery?


He slammed a fist on the steering wheel and growled. Ten minutes of trying, but the stupid car wouldn't start.

He got out, frowned under the hood again, then kicked the front bumper.

Battery dead. No amount of jumping it was gonna get him to work on time. The shiny battery might have a 3-month-old date stamped on it, but it was dead. Useless. It would never power another car.

Just as it is a waste of time to try to drive a car with a dead battery, it is an equally frustrating waste of time to try to live the Christian life under your own power. Where do we get the idea that Jesus came to reform us? To help us be better people? To give our flesh the motivation to try harder?

The Apostle Paul says, "Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For
you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Col 3:2-3)

That moment when we come to the cross and allow God to perform the Divine Exchange--our filthy selfishness for Christ's robes of righteousness--our flesh is killed. Paul says we are "crucified with Christ". He does not say we SHOULD be crucified. Or we should PRAY to be crucified. Scripture says we ARE.

Yet so many of us enter into God's family, give him a "thumbs-up," and head right back to our old way of doing things, believing we are now doing them for God.

We grab the steering wheel, mash the gas, and do our best to reform that flesh, those worldly impulses, those lusts and ambitions. And nothing happens. We white-knuckle our way through our version of the Christian life and wonder why it's so
hard.

It's hard because you are trying to drive with a dead battery. Your fleshly self cannot make itself righteous. It has to go. It has to die so that the Spirit of God can take over. It needs to be as dead as that car battery before God can pour Himself into you and give you His power to live the way He wants you to live.

Are you running out of steam? Are you about worn out from trying harder, working more, and giving it all you've got?

GOOD!

Take all your best efforts and nail them to the cross with Jesus. They will never get you where you want to go. They are dead.

Now, let the Holy Spirit of God fill up those empty places and watch out! You're gonna be amazed at how effortlessly He can live His own life through you. He is much better at being God than we are.
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True or False


Satan is a master of mimic. We are told that he "comes as an angel of light." He is called the Deceiver and the Father of Lies and his work is evident everywhere you look.

What makes him so believable?


The best way to deceive is to make an imitation that closely mimics the real thing.

When Moses appeared before Pharaoh, demanding that his people be allowed to leave, God performed miracles using Moses' simple rod. The miracles should have been enough to WOW! the whole country. However, the Bible says that Pharaoh's magicians copied the acts with their "magic arts."

Imagine the confusion of those watching--especially Moses' fellow Israelites.


"Looks the same to us! Maybe they're ALL God's spokesmen."

"NO! Those magicians are faking it. Moses is probably faking it too. There are no real miracles."


Scripture states that at the close of this world's story, the evil Antichrist will rise to power. He is called Antichrist because of his great resemblance to the true Christ. He will be very convincing to the ones who don't know the real Jesus. If he had horns and a tail, no one would be fooled.


It is my personal belief that God is pouring out His spirit on His people in an unprecedented way, as He ushers in the end times. God is raising up for himself an army, empowered by their passion for Him and love for the world that He loves.


So we should not be surprised that Satan is equally engaged. We see his handiwork on the front page of every newspaper. False religions claim millions of new souls every week. Anti-God bias is sweeping through once-free nations. Sexual perversions of a kind not seen since Noah's day now hardly earn a second look.

Satan doesn't leave his destructive imitations outside the church doors either. Heresy--masquerading as love--is replacing Scriptural truth from more and more pulpits. God's supernatural gifts to believers are imitated by those who have no such gift, and maligned by those who see only the imitation.


But just because the magicians imitated Moses' miracles does not mean God did not perform them first. Just because Wacko Church of the Dubious Spirit adds speaking in tongues to their other bizarre rituals, does not mean there is no true gift of tongues for those filled with God's Holy Spirit.

Just because the sleazy snake oil preacher in Des Moines makes a circus out of his sleight-of-hand "healings", does not mean that the power of God is not healing the crippled, deaf, and cancer-ridden down in Peru.

Just because Rev. Sees-a-Lot claims he had a revelation from the Lord that the people of Ohio would send him $10 million, doesn't mean that the Lord never gives his people revelations.


Jesus said that the day is coming when He will appear with winnowing fork in hand to separate those who are His from those who pretend to be. He is not fooled at all by the imitations.

In the meantime, let's be very careful that we don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. The fact that there are numerous false prophets around does not mean there are no real ones.

But What About...?

The age-old question stumps us all. In recent days, we even see respected Christian leaders wavering in their assertion that Jesus is the only way to God. It all stems from the same human desire: understanding. We think we must mentally comprehend spiritual truths for them to be true. If we cannot, we try to create a detour where none exists.

So...What About the Heathen?
What about those who have never heard?
Are they condemned to Hell?

Critics lift knowing brows as the question hangs in the air. Even those committed to Christ often quake in their boots, certain they are without an answer to this. How can we defend our faith, our God, if it and He are so unfair?

One reason this question so puzzles us is that we begin with a wrong assumption. We ask the question from the standpoint of self-righteousness, as though we are all equally deserving and accepting of God's pardon; yet mean-old-God withholds the opportunity from some poor souls and gives it to others.
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The only way to comprehend the answer is to switch perspectives. As long as we are earthbound looking up, all we see are trees and clouds. From a spaceship, we can see the whole picture and that is God's perspective. Ultimately, everything is God's perspective, so it stands to reason we should align our minds with His before trying to understand anything He does.

When we start with the Scriptural premise that God is good, that he is kind, patient, and "not willing that any should perish," (2 Pet. 3:9) we are forced to view the Big Question in a new light. Isn't it logical to assume that a God like that has already thought it all out?

If we admit that because of our selfishness, sinfulness, and outright rebellion against God, none of us deserves His pardon. We should get what we asked for. The fact that He made such a sacrifice to save us from ourselves is incomprehensible. Would a God who sacrificed Himself to purchase our redemption willfully withhold that salvation from any heart who would accept it? Wouldn't He find a way to make that offer available?

The second fallacy in this questions involves those years before Christ came. In a casual reading of the Old Testament, we may conclude that God chose the Jews to bless and everyone else was condemned forever. But during a study of the Israelites' struggles and moves and conquests, I noticed something. In so many passages, the writer describes Israel's moves and adds "and the aliens with them." There were always non-Jews from every land who had recognized the one true God and had joined forces with Israel.

When Moses went on the run from Pharaoh after murdering an Egyptian taskmaster, he ended up in Midian--a long way from the chosen people of God. One of the first people he met was Jethro, who is described in Exodus as "a priest in Midian." Here was a guy a long way from God's chosen ones, yet he already knew and was actively serving the one true God. How did that happen?


Often before Israel went to war with a pagan nation, the pagan king would send messengers saying, "We have heard of you and of your God who does miracles for you!" No New York PR firm could have handled the marketing better than God did. Individuals had many opportunities to join forces with the people of God and God had left strict instructions that they were to be treated as brothers.

If the God of the Old Testament had spread word of Himself even into pagan lands who had never met an Israelite, doesn't it stand to reason that the God of the New Millennium is even now continuing to spread the news of his redemption plan to everyone who would choose to accept it?

The questions that stump us do not stump God. Those antagonistic questions that threaten to pervert our faith and keep unbelievers away from the truth are what the Apostle Paul was referring to when he reminded us:

We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, (2 Cor. 10:4)




The Saddest Phrase

What's the saddest thing you've ever heard?

Maybe the death of a child. A couple divorcing after 50 years.

A mother running away from her family.


Tragedy seems endless and terrible things happened in Bible times, too: murders, idol worship, infanticide, adultery...

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Some things don't change much.

But one phrase in the Old Testament is startling in its hopelessness

and in its relevant application today.

This phrase refers to Samson after he'd been tricked by Delilah

and lost his strength.

Judges 16 reports that he said: "I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.

"But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him."


He'd flirted with the enemy and lost---

and he didn't even know it.


As a counselor, I encounter Christians who are engulfed by problems God never intended them to have. They pray, read their Bibles, and frantically run through their lists of Christian practices in hopes that something will help.

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Nothing does. Because they do not realize that the power of the Lord has departed from them.

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When we give ourselves over to sin, to the world, to our natural inclinations little by little, we can fool ourselves for quite a while. "I can handle it." "It's just a little white lie." "I'm not hurting anybody." We dance on the edge, self-confidence replacing the God-reliance we once knew.


And then suddenly we're falling. Out of control, our world shatters and we scream for help, fully expecting God to deliver us as he has in the past.


And nothing happens.


Why?


It's not a race to see who can be the most holy, who can keep the commandments, or who won the gold star in church attendance. God doesn't keep a tally sheet, marking you off for every slip-up until he finally shakes his head, slaps the book shut, and says, "That's it for her. She's used up her grace for the year. C'mon, Holy Spirit, we're finished here."

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It's a choice made by the human heart, just as Samson made the choice when he allowed God's source of strength to be shorn off. We're the ones who cut ourselves off from God's power by flirting with the enemy. We no longer have unrestricted access to His help 24/7. God is still available--but now it's by appointment only.

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The good news is that Samson wasn't finished. He still had time to regain that strength, but he never became all God intended him to be. God still used him to do great things, but it was done in agony and heartbreak rather than the victory and joy God planned.

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God isn't finished with you either. As my clients are learning, it's never too late for God to turn something tragic into something beautiful, when you leave the results with him.

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Have you ever thought of it that way? If you're facing continual defeat, maybe it's time for a checkup. Has the spirit of God departed from you--and you never knew it?

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Whack! Whack!


"I did it my way!" has been America's theme song for the last couple of generations.

We applaud self-sufficiency, independence, and that "can-do" attitude. We cheer for the ones who defy convention and make a name for themselves. That tenacity often passes for character.

We are enthralled with our own potential.

Naturally, the world loves its warped logic, calling it tolerance. "
Why can't we put a mosque on this corner next to the terrorist monument? One religion is as good as the next. And while we're at it, let's take "God Bless America" out of our repertoire. We don't need anyone's God to bless us. We are fine on our own."

Unfortunately, preachers are some of the worst offenders. "
We're starting a new building project! The Lord is blessing us with so many new families, we've got to build! Don't have time to wait on God. With a five million dollar loan, we can be in our new building by next year, so turn in those pledge cards today!"

Average Christians do it too. "
Sure I'll teach that Sunday School class. I've taught the past eight years. Don't necessarily hear God asking me to, but it needs done, so I'll do it."

Self-confidence is nothing we thought up. It has deep roots. It also has deep consequences. Remember this guy? "
We need water. Badly. I'm so sick of this complaining. These Israelites are getting on my nerves. Last year I whacked a rock and a flood gushed out, so I'll just whack this baby again and stop this complaining. I think the Lord said to speak to it, but what the dif? God and me are buddies now. He'll bless anything I do."

Moses miscalculated and it cost him dearly. He called it confidence. God called it rebellion.

It seemed like such a little thing. What's the difference whether he spoke to the rock or hit the rock. Same rock. Same God. Couldn't God have played along with Moses? Made him look good in front of those grumbling Israelites?

God is not interested in playing our ego games and He takes disobedience very seriously. For that little act of arrogance, Moses lost the privilege of leading his people all the way into the Promised Land.

He'd taken them so far, been God's right hand man, witnessed miracles every time he turned around. Yet, God would deprive him of that one last victory march all because of over-confidence.

What about you?

What are you attempting that wasn't God's idea? We love to charge ahead, inform God of what we plan to do, then ask His blessing on it. And we wonder why often it flops. So we get mad at God.

Are you mistaking self-confidence for God's approval? Just because you are good at something doesn't mean you should do it. Just because it appears to bring results, doesn't mean it is from God.

Water did, in fact, come out of the rock when Moses whacked it in error. To everyone else it appeared that Moses was THE GUY. Wow! Watch him go!

But Moses knew it the moment he did it. God made certain of that. What Moses did to ensure a bit of quick admiration ended up costing him all the honor God wanted to give him.

How much are you forfeiting due to your own attitude of self-sufficiency?

Are you satisfied with man-sized results when you could be experiencing God-sized results?
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