The Door of Temptation?

The Door of Temptation?

The Door of Temptation?

When I walk through this door each Friday, my rebellious streak confronts me. This door is at the local Post Office and I go there to check our church’s mail.

The problem is there is a rule, but there are also choices. See the PULL decal? That’s the problem. Some door signs say PULL and the door is physically built so that’s the only way. If you PUSH, it goes nowhere. If you want to go through, you PULL.

The problem with this door is it swings both ways – you can follow the sign and pull, or you can ignore the sign and push, and either choice will get you into the Post Office.

I think I know the logical reason for it being a PULL not a PUSH. If you push the door, you’re more likely to hit someone who is coming toward the exit from inside. But, my thoughts are it’s a glass door and I can clearly see the area around the door. I’ll be careful and I won’t hit anyone. And, besides, physically, the push is easier, smoother and faster. You don’t stop but just move right through.

Good excuses, aren’t they.

If you follow the sign and pull, it’s safer. Being “easier” and “smoother” probably aren’t measurable. And, “faster” could be measured in fractions of a second. So, why would the thought of pushing even come to mind?

That’s where the rebellious streak comes in. We don’t want to be told what to do and not do. We want to make the choices and “do what’s right in our own eyes.” That’s when we get into trouble.

If deciding once a week whether to push or pull a door was the only time we had to confront our rebelliousness, that would be simple. The problem is we are confronted with it in every decision we make, and many, obviously, are much more important than push or pull.

So, what should we do? We should pay attention to the signs. If it says PULL, we should pull. Or yield for a YIELD, and stop for a STOP.

However, all signs aren’t written in plain sight in capital letters. Some are simply written in our hearts. If we notice our anger rising, or if we think thoughts like “this is a stupid thing to have to do!” or “I’m not going to do that!”, we need to realize our rebellious streak (put simply, our pride and selfishness) could be rearing its head and we may be ignoring a sign. Then, instead of pushing on through, we need to stop and look within our heart for the Lord’s sign and follow it.

“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:” Hebrews 8:10

Sometimes You Have to Take a Photo of God’s Creation

Cloud Over Tree Garden

Cloud Over the Tree Garden

These days smart phones have made it easy to take photos of anything and everything. Some worthwhile and some not. Here’s one I thought was worthwhile. I was cutting grass, listening to a Nero Wolfe mystery novel (on my smart phone). As I made the turn, this was before me. What a beautiful sight of God’s creation!

“The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” Psalm 19:1 ESV

What Big Eyes You Have! What a Big Heart God Has!

Eyed Click Beetle

Eyed Click Beetle

I found this bug while inspecting a power pole. (Looking for the pole’s birthmark – probably blog on that sometime). Since my head was rather close to the pole as I moved around it, the bug and I came eye to eye – and I flinched first. The fake eyes did what they were supposed to do, and made me back off.

I later looked it up and found it is an “eyed click beetle”. Definitely right on the eyes but didn’t get to hear it click.

All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weighs the Spirit” Proverbs 16:2

Big, fake eyes don’t see much. But, the proverbs says our “eyes” (actually referring to our mind’s eye) see what we want to see – making excuses for the wrongs we do. But, the Lord sees clearly into our mind’s eye and on into our heart. Yet, He is still faithful and just to forgive us when we confess.
Praise the Lord for His big heart!

 

 

Syrup on Pancakes – And Spiritual Gifts

Pancakes and Syrup

Pancakes and Syrup

You would think after sixty-two years I would know how much syrup to put on pancakes. Yet, despite the decades of practice, after the last bite leaves the plate, there will be a puddle of syrup left. The surplus amount varies, but it’s always there. Even on the few occasions I have wiped the syrup dry before I finished the last pancake, I’ve added what I thought would be just enough to finish, and ended up with the usual extra.

My wife, Sharon, though, has syrup figured out. She applies just enough so that when she finishes a plate, you have to look closely to see a drop here and there. It’s even difficult to know if she had pancakes. (When she reads this, it will be the first she’s known of my admiration of her syrup expertise. I’ve hesitated to tell her because she’s already aware of a long list of weird things I notice.)

I don’t think there’s a syrup gene buried in Sharon’s DNA that isn’t present in mine, but we are definitely unequal in our syrup measuring abilities. However, having differing abilities in some ways is a good thing.

In 1st Corinthians, chapter twelve, the Apostle Paul wrote about being different. He taught that God made us different for God’s own purposes. Just as the human body needs various parts with distinct functions to make it effective as a whole, the church, the Body of Christ, needs various people with different abilities (Paul called them spiritual gifts) to be effective as a whole.

So, if we find ourselves thinking “I wish I could do “that” (whatever “that” may be)like Brother or Sister whatstheirname,” or, a parallel thought, “I’ll never be as good as them at “that” so I may as well not try,” it’s time to stop and think and pray a bit. If we examine our motivation for thinking about “that”, we may find it’s from a selfish view and isn’t what the Lord would have us do. But, if the thought is from the Spirit, those statements don’t matter. With God’s help, we may be able to do “that” as well as Brother or Sister whatstheirname, or we may not. But, if we follow Him, He will give us the abilities we need to fulfill His purpose and THAT is what matters.

 “All these (spiritual gifts) are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as He wills.” 1st Corinthians 12:11

Blooms and Scripture – Wildflowers

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Wildflowers

The wildflowers have continued for several years after planting over our rebuilt drain field.

More verses of one of my favorite prayers –
“Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses, for they have been ever of old. Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me, for thy goodness’ sake, O Lord.” Psalm 25:6-7

The Beatles Came and Went – But, the Word of God Will Remain

The Beatles Come to America - 1964

The Beatles Come to America – 1964

I remember we were at recess at Sallie Zetterower Elementary School, in November, 1963, when our sixth grade teacher called us into the classroom and told us President Kennedy had been shot. Strangely enough, I also remember a few months later, in early 1964, when a fellow student, Lee Driggers, told us during Civics news-sharing time that the beetles were coming. That’s the way most of us heard it and thought it, at least.

We all laughed and it took a little explaining that the bugs weren’t coming. Lee said a rock and roll band was coming from England to visit the US, and they spelled their name: The Beatles. We laughed again at someone misspelling a word on purpose.

I’m sure I could remember more events from elementary school if I concentrated, but overall, the other things I remember are the teachers, and the smell and taste of the cinnamon rolls in the lunchroom.

Yet, I know I was there and apparently paid attention to the teachers at times. I can read and write and do arithmetic (although, I do still have to think about it to remember that 7 times 9 is 63.) So, someone was doing things correctly, and I’m sure it wasn’t me most of the time.

Makes me think about Sunday preaching. I can usually remember some topics and points of the last few sermons I’ve heard (at least, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.) But, I couldn’t list out the sermon topics and points for the last three months. And, certainly not for the last six years – relating that length of time to the six years I spent in elementary school.

But, I can think back on the last six years and say that I have learned from and been affected by many sermons. Someone was doing things correctly, and I’m sure it wasn’t me most of the time.

I (and we) do need to pay attention and think about what is being said in order for a sermon to affect us. And, in my opinion, the preacher needs to spend time in prayer and study in preparation for the preaching. However, while those actions are doing things correctly, they’re pretty much useless unless the One Who does all things correctly is involved.

In the praying and studying. In the hearing and thinking. In the preaching. Without the presence and power of God, it is all foolishness. Yet, with God’s power and presence, our hearts are opened up to Him, and His Word is opened up to us and, yes, we grow spiritually.

We can look back over a sermon, and a month of sermons and six years of sermons, and remember specifics of only a few. But, we also find it has become more common that a verse of Scripture or something said about a verse of Scripture comes to mind at just the right time. We realize we have grown stronger in our faith and knowledge through God’s power and presence.

The Beatles did come and did have an effect on the country, but, my memory of Lee making that announcement isn’t much more than a bit of personal trivia. Some elementary school classes (and news sharing times) may stick with us through time, but it’s the overall process that’s critical. If we have good teachers leading us, it makes for good results – and we learn reading, writing and arithmetic, along with other life skills.

Specific sermons may stick with us through time, but, it’s the overall process that’s critical. If we have our Lord and Savior leading us, that’s fantastic, and we learn and follow His ways and His paths through life – and those are the most critical life skills.

Show me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths.” Psalms 25:4

Got Faith? Plant an Oak Tree

Old Oak Tree

Old Oak Tree

I went hunting for an impressive oak tree to photograph and found this one along a stretch of highway south of Daisy, Georgia. It is impressive. My purpose for the quest was to illustrate one aspect of faith: “for we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2nd Corinthians 5:7 ESV.

I don’t think this oak came about from a squirrel dropped acorn. I think someone planted this tree a century or more in the past. I have no proof of that, so that’s just a deduction from the other oaks up and down the road that appear to have been placed in particular locations. There probably was a house here then, but it probably wasn’t this one. (Could have been remodeled through the years, though).

The tree wouldn’t have become impressive during the lifetime of its planter. It’s likely it didn’t even reach “noticeable” status. And, it’s an absolute that the planter is not still around to see it become this mighty tree. But, that didn’t matter – they walked by faith. They knew what would happen far in the future. Their small efforts would become established and grow into a massive tree that would provide food and shelter for animals, and shade and comfort to people. I don’t know if they had the thought that just the sight of the tree would give a sense of wonder at God’s Creation, but I know that’s what I felt as I came around the curve and saw it.

It is just a deduction that someone planted this tree many years ago but the concept stands. Anytime you plant a long-lived, slow growing tree, you probably won’t see it reach “impressive” size. But, somebody will.

When the Apostle Paul wrote about walking by faith, not sight, he was noting that we don’t see the Lord, but we know (by the faith that God gave us and the Holy Spirit within us) we will see Him face to face one day. Paul then states that because of that, our aim in everything is “to please Him”

And that’s where I think another aspect of “walk by faith” comes in. It’s not planting trees (although I consider that a good thing), it’s doing things to please the Lord, even though we may not see the results (perhaps not even in our lifetime). As Jesus told us: Give someone who is thirsty a drink of water in His name. Feed the hungry. Welcome the strangers. Visit the sick. Make disciples.

Got faith? Then walk in it. Plant an oak tree. Or, better yet, spread the Good News about Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.