Nobody every expected Jesus to be born in a manger. Nor was riding on a donkey worth calling a triumphal royal entry into Jerusalem.
The leading interpreters were completely blindsided by the appearance of the Messiah — partly because their envy blinded them, but also because they interpreted erroneously.
Try to resist making God fit your theology. He’s a boundary buster. He’ll surprise with unconventional means: Muslims who see Jesus in a dream and serve the Savior without leaving the mesquite, for example.
- If this man were of God, He wouldn’t heal on the Sabbath.
- Does anything good come out of Nazareth?
- He eats with tax collectors and prostitutes.
Their exclusionary clauses eventually excluded themselves from the things of God.
This Christmas, don’t wait for Santa to come down your chimney. Ask Jesus to come into your heart. Don’t limit God.
Photo credit: Beautiful pictures on google+. I’m not making any $ on this picture, and I don’t own the rights to it.
The photo before I worked on it.
Ok, so I’m just a beginner with photoshop. I guess I’m having fun. Maybe I can get a job at Target. They don’t seem to have very good photoshoppers.
I tried to lighten our faces.
Jesus does the best job of bringing light to our families.
Photo: David Tomek
The bench beckons, moss-grown with lack of use. We weary ourselves with ambition. We are missing out on each other. Can we sit and talk? My faith will be strengthened, maybe your too. Coffee was meant to be shared. Sadly at the coffee shop, the majority are alone, on their phones.
Actually, fellowship is an important but neglected pillar to the Christian faith. We think it’s optional, that we can do without easy enough. Not so in the early church.
But now, please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written. — Ex. 32:32.
Hmmmmm. I’m not there yet. Here Moses is taking the hit for Israel’s bad against God. Paul similarly wishes to lose his own salvation if by it he could save his countrymen, the Jews (Ro. 9:3).
I was a missionary for a long time. I sacrificed. I gave. I put others first. I grew and matured, but I never got to this level. I never wished my own eternal damnation if that could save a people. My idea was and is to go to Heaven myself and to take as many with me as possible.
I come up short though. My pastor, Rob Scribner, said Moses and Paul take responsibility for their people. I have prayed like Daniel assuming the collective guilt of my people, but never did I rescind my individual salvation in favor of another. My love for others stops shy of that.
I suppose Moses and Paul both had the notion that they wouldn’t lose their salvation by saying this. They were PLEASING God by aligning their hearts with His; He gave His Son for us to be saved. Still, I can’t get myself to mouth this vow.
Do you feel responsibility for others?
from Blue Pueblo
Dianna’s co-worker was dumbfounded — why was Dianna not crying? Her dad had just died.
Dianna explained that 1) his passing came as no surprise, and 2) we have no doubt as to the reality of Heaven.
from Blue Pueblo
If you don’t believe in Heaven, you will try to extract every ounce of pleasure from Earth. Don’t get me wrong: I believe there’s a great taste of Heaven here. But that is just a foretaste. Those who try to experience Heaven on Earth are accepting tinsel for gold. If you don’t believe in Heaven, then you wail hopelessly upon the death of friends and family — or stiffen yourself stoically.
from Dumb a Day
The evolutionists deride Heaven. The atheists scoff. The humanists ridicule. Still the human heart yearns to believe in eternity. We are not animals. Undeniably born in the human heart is the knowledge of eternity. What we yearn for, God confirms in His Word:
- My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I a.m — John 14:2-3 NIV.
- We do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first — 1 Thes. 4:13, 16 NIV.
- And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God — Revelations 21:3 NIV.
In regards to Heaven, let me say one important thing: We eat sumptuous food in Heaven. Why should Dianna cry? Dad is in Heaven.
Posted in Heaven
Tagged Christianity, death, eternal life, eternity, God, grace, Heaven, heaven is real, Jesus, life, lifestyle, love, religion, salvation, spirituality
- How to pray?
- Prayers from the Bible
- Prayer optimization
from Christianity Matters blog
Recently, a close friend was broken. His ex was possibly dying from cancer, and even though she was an ex, heart strings were tugged. He came with me to prayer and poured out his heart to God asking for her healing. She’s better now. God answered from grace. Even though God answered, my friend still is not coming to church for gratitude, for commitment, for anything.
from cloud lounge blog
God’s grace is the greatest thing. You don’t earn salvation, and He doesn’t deny your prayer request just because you’re not attending church. You cannot earn a positive response from God.
But it seems to me like we’re not optimizing our prayer life when we treat God only as 911. We call Him only in emergency. It seems to me that we actually optimize our prayers when we serve Him faithfully. It’s an insult to God when we treat Him as unimportant 364 days out of the year and only remember Him on the one day we have a crisis. Still, He answers out of His grace, not out of our merits (because even when we’re somewhat faithful, we have not merits).
from blue pueblo blog
I don’t pretend to fully understand this. I’m only describing a tension that deserves to be rectified. There’s no mathematical formula for when you will get an answer and when not. God’s grace overrides any formula.
Maybe the best way to describe this is to say, treating God only as an Emergency Service in Heaven, is not cool. How to pray? Don’t be uncool.
Posted in how to pray?
Tagged Bible prayers, Christianity, Faith, God's love, grace, how to pray?, inspiration, Jesus, life, lifestyle, prayer, spirituality
- Power of prayer
- How to pray?
My son Robert, on the precipice of power on the Canadian Falls.
Emerald water look like thick glass, inviting tourists to dip a toe — or even take a swim. The alluring beauty of Niagara Falls belies its power — 6 million cubic feet flows in an irresistible current every minute over the crest. One-hundred-and-sixty-five feet below, as it pounds into the whirling pool, it raises a relentless thunder and mists that bathes people for 100 yards away.
Water leaping from the heights pounds the poor below, raising mists over 200 feet into the air, drenching tourists. Note the boat at the bottom that fits 200 passengers.
Behind the beauty lies true power.
Many look at prayer as a beautiful thing. They fail to perceive its weight of crushing power. Nations have been overturned. Darkness has ceded to radiant light. The onward rush of worldliness has been diverted, the press of sin blunted. Why? Because of prayer.
Oh look! How beautiful! She prays!
To the contrary, look, how powerful: she prays.
In a material world where we are taught to measure scientifically with our five senses, we can forget entirely the unmeasurable life-changing power of prayer. Just because a prayer experiment would be impossible (with one group that receives prayer and the other that does not), we tend to dismiss it.
Where science leaves off, faith picks up and continue to describe the reality of our multi-faceted existence. Pray today! Effect change. Don’t miss the power behind the beauty of prayer.
How to pray? Bible prayers. Answers to prayer.
What has saved me from depression? I largely credit prayer. (Dianna is my wife)
If you want logical explanations, you will most likely surmise the futility of prayer. But if you want results, then you will pray.
An atheist can scorn my prayer times. He can dismember its logic: “If God knows everything and is already motivated by compassion, then why does He need us to pray?” Good argument.
An onslaught of articles, books and programs urges that church is irrelevant. But I still go to church.
So why do I pray? Plain and simply, it works. (It doesn’t reason.)
If you want powerful reasons, become a philosophy major or a lawyer and feel proud of your rhetorical capabilities. If you want powerful results, pray and don’t fret about the anti-God hubbub.
I have seen answers to prayer. I cannot deny healings, salvations, turnarounds, miracles of money. My marriage is happy. Three times God healed my back (from separate injuries).
When it comes to prayer, why? is more important than what? when? where? and how? If you don’t know why, you won’t pray. But if you pray, what, when, where and how are all secondary because God looks mostly at your heart.
We have won and lost games at Lighthouse Christian Academy this season, but the most memorable was the game against P.H. In that game, we literally could score at will. It was so much fun, and most of the kids were going for hattricks (three goals in one game). As coach, I actually pulled my stars out of scoring position and even took them off the field to NOT humiliate our opponents any more. In the first 20 minutes, we racked up seven!
In life, when you pray with faith and urgency, you literally score at will. The successes hum. But when I pray tepid prayers, or when we neglect pray altogether, then we go through a losing streak. Step up your game today and pray! Have no mercy on the devil!
Posted in prayer
Tagged Christian school, Christianity, church, Faith, God, inspiration, Jesus loves me, Lighthouse, Lighthouse Christian Academy, Messi, religion, revival, Rooney, spirituality
At Stonehenge, an end of the world party, yesterday
Even though I used to live in their mecca, the Mayan catastrophe yesterday failed to materialize. Now, would Roland Emmerich* please give everybody back their ticket money? We weren’t warned. We were swindled.
When crews widened the 405 FWY they shut it down for a full weekend in July 2011 and predicted traffic snarls all the way to Paris. Telling everyone to stay home, they said it would be “Carmaggedon.”
I had an outreach to drive to, and the freeways were entirely empty. The next day the newspapers stated that Angelinos, by NOT using their cars for the first time in their lives, had made the “ultimate sacrifice.”
I took exception to that. The “ultimate sacrifice” no one I know would be willing to make: to die for a friend maybe, but to die lovingly, givingly, for an enemy, who would? The Christ of Christmas did.
If you stockpiled food, water, gas and bullets for the much-vaunted Mayan cataclysm, give it to the poor (not the bullets). Because the real end of the world is coming, but it’s not Carmaggedon. It’s Armaggedon. What you’ll need most stockpiled is Jesus in your heart.
* Emmerich directed 2012, a special effects phenom that grossed $770 million. It was based on speculations of a Mayan Long Calendar-predicted apocalypse.
Posted in Christmas, inspiration
Tagged 405 freeway, Armaggedon, Carmaggedon, Christianity, community, culture, end of the world, events, holidays, humor, life, lifestyle, Maya, Mayan, people, sacrifice, spirituality, top stories
The man behind the MustardSeedBudget ravenously devouring Christmas cookies.
These cookies my daughter bakes are soooo good. I never eat them; I flee them; they’re dangerous. But she insists that I must try. Reluctantly, I relent. They have more than chocolate chips: marshmallows and crackly red and green sugar crystals. Needless to say, the exquisite ecstasy produced instantaneous addiction. I threatened to NOT stop with the broken cookies. I would need a 12-step program to break off gobbling them up
I bet my friends of the photo blogs could take a much better picture of these delights.
One menacingly look from Rebekah was enough to deter me. When she was younger, she obeyed me. It’s biblical. But now that she is 16 years old, I have to obey her. No one warned me this switcheroo would happen. She’s enough for anyone to go cold turkey. As Rob’s friends know well, you don’t mess with Rebekah.
Becky has been making me feel less Grinch-like. When I was missionary in Guatemala, I was a gringo. But now, I’m a Grinch. Making the transition from belt-tightening missions to spendthrift USA has not been intuitive. She plays Christmas carols incessantly and prevailed on my wife to get a Christmas tree. So the effects have been to put me in the mood. And now, I just wanna wish everybody a Merry Christmas! My Savior was born (probably not on this date), and He could be your Savior too!
I guess I had better read my morning blog about exercise, now that these tantalizing temptations are beckoning. Where’s Rebekah? I need to sneak another one!
Maybe we should report those cookies to DEA. You might be dreaming of a white Christmas, but I’m dreaming about green and red sugar crystals.
Posted in Financial Talk
Tagged Christianity, Faith, family, God, Grinch, humor, Jesus, life, lifestyle, marriage, people, relationship, religion, Savior, spirituality
Photo thanks to ART Freelance.
Photo thanks to Ben Rogers Blog
The purpose of trials is to build your faith.
To lead you to depend more on God.
Sadly, many instead lose their faith at this point. And they decide life is arbitrary, that there is no justice, no overarching design nor control, no
When life gets hard, look up.
providence. Life is meaningless, they say. (Yet they still try to imbue it with meaning.)
Go back to God again and again until your trial turns to triumph.
You get what you put into it.
At least not with prayer. Our whole American outlook is results come in proportion to work. But after years of arduous labor on the mission field with little to show for it, I was ready to try prayer.
When I did, the ministry skyrocketed.
Don’t get me wrong. I always prayed. But when I really started to prayer, longer, more earnestly, less perfunctorily, then things took off. We got a building. Ministry multiplied. It took me basically a decade to learn to desist from so much of MY labors and allow God to do HIS labors. Prayer is the key if you don’t want to be spinning your wheels.
Americans view the world like muscle-building. The harder you work, the more cut the six-pack. That’s why prayer is counterintuitive. You get results without working — only by praying. I’m not saying you stop outreach altogether and close yourself up in your church and commune with God. What I am saying is you can do less human activity if you get more divine activity going.
Jesus didn’t only outreach. He spent entire nights just praying.