THREE ON FAITH, ONE ON REGRET

One Year Ago

FEAR…WORRY

You know the feeling, that twisting in the gut that even makes good food taste bland. You know you should eat, but the joy is just not in it.
My friend and I were talking the other day about fear.
“It comes on me in an MRI. I’m claustrophobic. It’s really bad.”
He told me how it is a chemical thing that happens, that he doesn’t really think there is any way to control it.
I asked him, “If a huge angel appeared in front of you, as real as the MRI you were fixin’ to slide into, and he said, ’Don’t be afraid. It’s okay,’ do you think that would help allay the fear?”
He thought about it for a moment and said, “Yeah, I think it would.”
Last Sunday, the preacher was telling us about three guys, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. You probably know them as Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego.
Anyway, these three told the king that they would not bow down to a false idol.(See, they worshiped the one true God) They also told the king that the God they served would be able to deliver them from any punishment the king might throw upon them. (Remember that fiery furnace? Yeah, that’s the one.)

But, then they said, “ But, even if He doesn’t, we still will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

Now, we always talk about the faith of Daniel and his three friends.
Daniel had to endure being thrown into a den of hungry lions for refusing to compromise his beliefs.

I have been thinking about this…I would bet that, even though they trusted their God way more than we do, that they had that same fear and dread when they walked to their punishment, that same twisting in the gut before a dreaded day, or event, or task arrives.
They trusted God, but they didn’t know for sure exactly what he would do.
It wasn’t easy, moving forward.
It hardly ever is.
That’s what makes faith so good.
You believe God.
You do the things that you would do if you believed God.
And the answer comes after.
If it was easy to obey by faith, it wouldn’t be faith.

Still
every once in a while
it might be kind of nice to have that angel come by.

One Year Ago

ADVICE…REGRETS

Wendy and I were in the kichen, preparing dinner, she, by the stove, I with my back to her at the counter, chopping onions.

She’s the chef.
I’m the sous chef.

That’s how it has been most of our nearly 46 years together.

“You know, I don’t have memories of my mom fixing dinner,” I said, tears pooling in my eyes. (The onions, remember?) “I remember the meals, where we sat, what we ate. But we just weren’t involved in the preparation part of it. That’s kinda sad.”

“You were probably outside playing. Or doing homework in your room.”

“I know, but there is just so much that I wish I knew, that I wished I had been curious enough to ask about. Her, Dad, Mimo and Pop. When you’re young, you are so self-absorbed, you only think about things that relate to you. At that moment.”
Waxing nostalgic, I was.

“You should write that down!” Wendy told me.
So, I am.

My grandfather left us a tape recording of his life, and one of my cousins put it on a CD.

I also have his five year diary from the 40’s.

But, my greatest regret is that I moved through years and years of my life without questions and conversations with others to learn more about them.

Why do we have to get old before we really care what is inside a person?

I hope my regret will fuel some younger folks to open their eyes, their ears, their minds, to learn about this incredible life inside those around them.

It’s actually kinda fun to get outside of yourself.

And, for some, time may be shorter than you think.

One Year Ago

WHAT WE CAN’T SEE

A Facebook friend and I were having a discussion on science vs belief in God.

Now, I think science and the desire to learn more about the creation comes from God, but the argument was about things that can be observed and verified with reproducible experiments as opposed to “faith, legends, myths, and imaginary beings.” I believe these were the words he used.

He sent me a video explaining “string theory” and “the theory of everything.”

I have to say, this little video was simple enough for my simple brain to sort of grasp what it was talking about.
But, the funny thing was, it was all about tiny subatomic particles that are too tiny for scientists to observe, so they observe them by the effects they have on light or sound waves.

I asked my friend if he believed in these “invisible” particles, and he said it had nothing to do with “belief”, but that it was a study in the scientific process of learning what is real and true.

After a little back and forth between us, he politely left the conversation with the statement “neither one of us is going to change his mind.”

That’s when I realized something…he used the word “faith” alongside fairy tale words, as if faith is some ignorant notion of “religion” that has no real basis to it.

“Without faith, it is impossible to please God. For, to come to Him, you must believe that He exists, and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him.”

He is invisible…but not imaginary.

He plants the desire to find Him in me, and then I can respond by seeking Him…or not seeking Him.

When I seek Him, I begin to see Him.
I begin to see how He works.
How my faith grows as I learn to trust Him.
How my faith in Him becomes as real an object as the sun in the sky…how, with my faith (that He gave me. I didn’t get it on my own.) I can see everything else.

My friend had said that he could believe in a creator if there was any evidence.

“Now, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

I don’t think my friend wants to see.

Yet.

Three Years Ago

YOU HAVE GOT TO READ THIS! (Except for Phinehas. You don’t HAVE to . But if you want to….)

This morning in church, our guest speaker, Joe Veal, was telling about a story in Ezekiel where the river was flowing out of the temple. He also talked about what happens when water doesn’t flow out, becoming stagnant. About the difference between standing in the river to your ankles, your knees, your waist, over your head.

“This building is NOT the temple! This is the temple!” He clapped his hand on his chest.

If you are reading this, it is not an accident. There is a purpose.

When I don’t allow the life that I have been given to flow out of me, I become stagnant.

Joe said, “I realized at that time, 8 out of 10 people that I met had NEVER heard the gospel…. One girl, when I offered to pray for her when I thanked Jesus for the food I was about to eat, told me that she had never heard “Jesus ” used except as a curse word.”

So, this horrible thought came through my brain.
Is it possible that some of the people I talk with don’t know?

This is what I know.

The creator of the universe actually created you to love him.
Because he loves you.
That love is the fuel that makes your engine run properly.

When we replace the love for him with love for anything else, our cylinders misfire all over the place.

It’s not much fun to drive around in a vehicle like that.

Now, how do you fix it, if you have messed up the engine with bad fuel?

You can’t!

You have to be rebuilt. Start completely over. You cannot rebuild yourself. That’s just silly. You have to BE rebuilt.

When you tell the manufacturer how you have messed up your engine, that you want your engine to run properly, that you cannot do it, he will do it.

No charge.

I know this, because I did this.

Every once in a while, I put a little bad fuel in, but tune-ups are free too.

Is this too vague?

You were created for a purpose to love your creator, who loves you infinitely. He will give you the life that will let you love him, but you have to gain entrance through the one door that he provides. You cannot earn your way in, you have already messed that up. Jesus has given his life to pay the penalty for what you did by choosing your own way instead of his, but, for believing, you get rebuilt, born again, and your “eyes” will be opened to a world you have never seen.

I know this because it happened to me.

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AGAPE…IN THE BEGINNING

When Adam was walking with God in the garden, God showed him all the trees He had planted for the man to tend.

Two trees in the middle of the garden were mentioned, the Tree of Life, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

“You can eat from all the trees in the garden, but you shall not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because eating from that one will bring death.”

But, that was okay. There were plenty of trees…all filled with good fruit.

(I love you….Do you believe Me…do you trust Me…do you love Me?)

………………..

“What’s the deal? God told you not to eat this stuff?”

“Oh, no. We can eat all of it. Well, all except that one.” She pointed to the one in the middle of the garden.

“Hmmm. Interesting. I wonder why not that one?”

“He said we would die.” She had a questioning look on her face.

“You believe that? Seriously? You’re not going to die. He just doesn’t want you to know the stuff he knows. You can be like him, you know. Why, that’s probably the best fruit in the whole garden!”

“Really? But He said…” She looked at the fruit…it looked better than all the other fruit.

“Believe me…you’re not going to die…you can trust me.”

She tasted, she chewed, she swallowed.
She gave some to her husband.

He tasted, he chewed, he swallowed.

Something changed…they felt…different…nervous…afraid…alone.

“Man! Where are you? Why are you hiding? Did you eat from that tree?”

“Well, the woman you gave me…”

“The serpent…it was the serpent!”

“You have chosen your own right and wrong!
What you have chosen, you shall have.
You have chosen
not to believe Me,
not to trust Me,
not to love Me.
You have chosen death,
Not Life.
You must now leave My garden, to follow the path of your own choosing.”

(And yet, I will always love you. I will make a way for you to choose to love Me.)

He gave them skins to cover their nakedness and watched them leave the garden, never having had the chance to taste the fruit of the other tree.

The tree of Life.

The tree of Love.

AGAPE.

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FAITH FROM BOTH SIDES

One Year Ago

My last post (PROOF) drew some comments on science versus dogma.
My friend, Patrick, shared a video with me; a scientific explanation of some of the prehistoric periods in the billion years history of our earth and the emergence and disappearance of various simple life forms, as they slowly evolved into the current complex forms.

I watched the 12 minute video, and I was impressed with the confidence the science lady used in telling this interesting story of how everything happened.

A lot of detail, with video…

Very compelling…

If you have the faith to take her at her word….

What I am missing every time I get into one of these discussions is the pauses in the process when some new version appears; like vision, smell, teeth, digestive systems, nervous systems, skeletal systems….
All of these systems, if important to the survival of the organism, had to be complete in order to work.

Otherwise, the organism cannot survive.

And…at what point did sexual reproduction come into the picture? It not only had to be complete to work. There also had to be two- male and female- at the same time. In the same place.

When did the reproduction change from asexual reproduction to sexual reproduction?

And, you have to begin the quest with the belief that there is no god of creation to follow this line of reasoning.

The conclusions that one finds if he believes there is a God of creation, looking at the same evidence, may bel completely different.

When I asked questions about how these tiny changes happened, I was asked if I had taken high school biology.

I had.

And I believed it.

Until I started asking some questions.

Funny, though. I didn’t even think to ask these questions until God called me from my darkness into His light.

By His light, we see.

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PROOF OF GOD

One Year Ago

PROOF…

A PERFECT DESIGNER…

LOVE FOR THE DESIGN

Lungs, designed to take in air from the atmosphere, will try to reject gas that has impurities or smoke in it…

Eyes that self-adjust for light and distance, that pick up tiny variances of color, and movement…

Taste buds and a sense of smell that will warn the creature of poison or spoiled food…

A digestive system that removes nutrients from food and eliminates waste from the body…

A circulatory system that receives oxygen from the lungs and nourishment from the digestive system and transports them to all the organs in the body…

An adrenal gland that gives huge surges of strength or energy in emergency situations…

A reproductive system that draws a male and female together…

A nervous system sensitive enough to feel a tiny insect walking on your skin, to warn you of danger, to allow you to feel intense pleasure or pain…

A marriage covenant between a man and a woman designed to last until death in order to make two people into one…

A desire to have children and protect them from danger and poor choices…

The desire a man has to protect and provide for his wife…

So many more examples of the complexity of this design we call human…

With built-in warnings to help to bring about a long and healthy and purposeful life…

“And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. ”

So, what happened? Why are we so messed up?

There is a second download that insures the warranty on the design.

A download that plants the eternal life inside the device.

You must request it, it is not automatic.

The device will function for a time without it.

But, eventually, without the download, the device will die.

For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life…

No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.

Journal • Saturday, Feb 17, 2018, 2:54 PM CST • 7003 S Broadway Ave, Tyler, TX, United States • 48°F Mist and Fog

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WARNING SIGNS

FEB. 16, 2018

PROOF (PART TWO)

WHY DO THESE THINGS KEEP HAPPENING?

“And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. “

Until we stop heeding the warnings…

And do what we want to do in spite of the warnings…

Resulting in lung cancer…

AIDS…

Drug addiction…

Broken marriage covenants…

Damaged and abused children, who sometimes grow into damaging and abusing adults…

Murder…

Terrorism…

Theft…

Prison…

Early death.

The Designer built in systems of warning and correcting…

But, we choose to choose other ways to live…

Pretending that there is no designer…

Pretending that we can figure it all out on our own…

Pretending that the Designer’s love doesn’t matter.

We lose.

If you smoke, or used to smoke, do you remember that first cigarette?
You know, the one that you took in that smoke that smelled so good, and you coughed, and coughed?
And your friend might have said, “Oh, it does that at first, but you’ll get used to it, and you won’t cough any more.”

Or maybe, it was your first alcoholic drink.
The taste was horrible, and you couldn’t imagine how anyone could like that.
But your friend was there. “Oh, it tastes bad at first, but you’ll get used to it. Then you will really enjoy it.”

Maybe you were pressured into shoplifting, or breaking into a locked building, or driving way too fast. Fear overwhelmed you. You wanted to run away. “But your friend,”Oh, it’s always like that the first time. Before long, you’ll realize that that fear turns into exhilaration. It’s kinda like, you get used to it.

I guess we are talking about warning signs.

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MY OWN WORST ENEMY

Have you ever been reading along in your Bible, and you start to feel kinda good about yourself?

You know, all this talk about the righteous and the wicked, us verses them?

And then, you read something about the wicked, and you think, “Wait a minute, what?”

Yesterday, going through the 5th chapter of Proverbs, I came across this little piece:
“An evil man is held captive by his own sins;
They are ropes that catch and hold him.
He will die for lack of self-control ;
He will be lost for his great foolishness.” NLT

Ouch!?

I thought we were fighting this big war against some huge enemy.
Now you tell me that I am holding myself captive?

But, when I start to think of all the things I have thought I SHOULD do,
and of all the reasons I didn’t do them,
I begin to realize that it is my own nature that makes me wicked.
Really, I do an incredible amount of stuff to keep myself happy,
To make my life easy.

ME, ME, ME….

WHAT CHANCE DO I HAVE IF I CAN’T STOP THIS DRIVE THAT IS IN ME?

Grace.
That’s right, that supernatural gift from God that gives me abilities that I do not possess in myself.

That’s right. No one had to teach me how to lie, steal, manipulate , or feel proud of myself. It just came naturally.

Even self-loathing was a form of selfish pride.

But God, in His great love for me, poured out this grace, this favor I didn’t deserve, and considered me “good.”

Not because I was.
Because I wasn’t.
But because I suddenly realized that I wasn’t.
I accepted His payment for my wicked ways.
I could never be good enough.
Now I knew it.

He sees me differently now.
Not the natural me.
Still wicked, but, hopefully getting smaller, weaker.

The other me.
The new one.
The one that fights the old one over everything.
The one that loves Him more than he loves himself.

That one looks like Jesus to Him.

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HARDER THAN I THOUGHT

February 13, 2016

Yesterday, Wendy and I had to go through a storage building that Chelsey had used before she died. We hadn’t been in there in over 12 years, and the roof had leaked. Mice and bugs of many kinds had also taken up residence through the years. Needless to say, things that had once occupied much of Chelsey’s and Zoe’s life at that time were now pretty much destroyed, or, at best damaged.

The years rushed back in torrents when we came across little things that reminded us of true treasures, the memories attached to these things. The life, the deep love that the life of Chelsey had in our lives, these are the things that don’t pass away.

The difference between the treasures of earth and the treasures of heaven become pretty clear when you lose someone close to you.

Emotions were pretty raw, seeing these things that bring up the memories that had been buried.

Something to take away:
The memories we share with others helps to preserve them longer than any earthly representation. Moths, rust, rats, water, all succeed in bringing earthly things to destruction. But memories and shared experiences, though they may seem to fade, have a way of returning and bringing us back to someone whose love stays with us forever.

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