EASTER

DSC_0891-2Pristine understates the image that accompanies this post. I stood by this bubbling, turbulent stream and watched as millions upon millions of water drops clung to one another as they rushed by. The beautiful sounds of their gurgling reminded me of the joy and peace that comes from our risen Savior, Jesus Christ. Each drop serenaded my soul with stories from the past and dreams of the future – all in search of an audience. While gazing into the stream I prayed silently that just one drop would pause and share with me stories of it’s past journey. Perhaps it would tell me the story of Easter and of Mary’s agony while experiencing the crucifixion of her son, Jesus.

I closed my eyes, opened my heart and waited. Then a voice, gentle but reassuring, explained: “My name is Teardrop of Sorrow. I am one of two very special little teardrops. There are thousands more of us that Mary shed because she knew something terrible was going to happen to her son. She cried herself to sleep almost every night in anticipation of the unknown. Then on that fateful Friday she watched as her Son carried his heavy cross to Golgotha. Her eyes were red and swollen from grief when they reached the top of the hill where He would be crucified. Those sinful, misguided people crucified Jesus! She watched helplessly as her innocent child died on the cross. I was the last teardrop to roll down her cheek and fall to the ground at His crucifixion.”

The story doesn’t end there – another teardrop said: “I’m Teardrop of Joy, the other special teardrop. I was the first to roll down Mary’s cheek after she heard that Jesus was resurrected. Remembering when Jesus told them, ‘The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and crucified, and the third day rise again’ (Luke 24:7). In a moment’s time Mary, the mother of Jesus, was transformed from deep despair to unspeakable joy and hope. She had always known that he was the Son of God but she could not conceive of the impact His resurrection would have on this world and the world to come. The joy emulated through her first born was truly overwhelming. Now every year we celebrate Jesus Christ’s resurrection at Easter. Over the last 2,000 years we have grown to incalculable numbers. We flow like rivers of living water throughout the earth.”

The term Easter is not of Christian origin, therefore celebration of this special holiday must always be within the context of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. His resurrection distinguishes the day from all other religious and secular holidays. He is the one and only person that died for the sins of the world and on the third day was resurrected.

SPRING

DSCN0009-2Spring is such a beautiful time of year. It’s my favorite of the four seasons because it reflects the nature of God in so many ways. It is the oasis of the year; a time of renewal. Just look from where you were planted; watch and listen as the wonders of God’s imagination blossoms into full bloom. If the eyes are a window to the heart then surely the ears are a doorway into the soul. As spring awakens look closely and you can see God removing the earth’s winter coat. Then listen quietly and you can hear nature’s sound track as He wraps the chill of winter with a blanket of warm spring colors.

As I write this article the Holy Spirit guides me to the book of Genesis and the relationship God had with Adam and Eve. It was a beautiful relationship but was fatally changed and plunged into spiritual darkness. Humanity was forced to live in a cold winter environment where spring never seemed to come. But spring did come! It came from God through His son Jesus Christ. He came to renew the relationship between God and man that was severely damaged by Adam and Eve.

Our astronomical seasons vary depending on the geographical location relative to the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Even so, in most parts of the world spring paints the earth with a palette of colors taken from a thousand rainbows. It’s just one of many ways that God says, “ yes I still love you”. It is also His way of reminding you to establish your relationship with Him through His son, Jesus. Let Him become the spring of your life. His season never ends.

Offer Christ the privilege of manifesting Himself through you while enjoying the pleasures of this earthly home He has given you.

PRAYER

Blessing FM-0315001 “Pray for a blessing, receive a blessing, give a blessing, and on the morrow it will return”

     Happiness comes through giving, receiving and service to others but it ebbs and flows with the tides of life. Joy, by contrast, is the internal mechanism that will carry you to mountaintops and guide you through life’s most turbulent waters; yet it is not diminished by time or circumstances. It is an everlasting gift from God that comes to us through His Son and is spread abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit Prayer is one of the many privileges the Trinity has blessed us with.

     Please let me introduce you to the heavenly Trinity. They are God the Father, His son, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. I was adopted into their family 33 years ago. They have effectively managed not only my life and affairs, but that of everyone for more than 6000 years. They can do it all! But here’s the catch: to enjoy the benefits of their grace you must first have a close personal relationship with Jesus. A key ingredient is found in the verse, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33). Jesus is saying first and foremost that we must endeavor to meet the needs of His earthly kingdom; only then should we expect to receive the desires of our heart. But how do we convey those needs to Him? Simple – through prayer and supplication make your request known to God.

     No human being has complete theological knowledge of the mind of God. But in numerous places throughout the bible God extends extraordinary invitations to us. “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Heb. 4:16). He invites us to His throne of grace to offer prayers of thanksgiving and to ask for help with our weaknesses. He then extends His love, grace, mercy, guidance, wisdom and spiritual strength to us. His attributes are more than sufficient at all times and in all circumstances. Prayer opens the door to His “throne of grace” 24/7, 365.

     There are always motivations behind the choices we make. Prayer is no different; the disciples were also concerned about how to pray. On one occasion, a disciple came to Jesus and said, “Lord teach us to pray as John also taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1). Jesus responded to their request by giving them a model prayer (Luke 11:2-4). The importance of God’s priorities are dictated by the order of these verses. Clearly, He wants us to place His will ahead of our own. When you pray, remember, it is not that your will be done in heaven, but rather that God’s will on earth can be accomplished through you. Your motives must have clarity of purpose and originate from a pure heart.

      Prayer in its most complex form is simply communicating with God. Talk to Him; He really wants to hear from you! Visualize this when you pray: First approach His throne of grace with confidence; then take your thanksgiving or request in hand and give it to the Holy Spirit, your intercessor. He will personally deliver it to Jesus Christ, our advocate, who is seated at the right hand of God. Jesus will then pass your petitions onto God, his Father, who answers every prayer with perfect timing and provision.

DECISIONS

DSC_0256-postThis week I want to tell you how important it is to let God into your life. But before you go in search of the why’s and why not’s, there are some ground rules to consider. Your heavenly Father has definite plans for you and it all begins with His son, Jesus Christ. He explains by saying, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). If you truly want a permanent relationship with God you must first accept Jesus as your savior. As written in my book Living Life, the fullness of life is realized through Christ and Him alone.

Sir Winston Churchill once said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going”. The pun is obvious; you’ve made and are living with bad decisions. Wise-up, choose a lifestyle that works both now and in the future. It is your prerogative – but know this: letting God rule your life will change its direction. In the eyes of God humanity on earth is two dimensional and consist of two groups. One group is made up of people who surrender their lives to Jesus Christ while the other group includes the people who reject Him. Likewise, eternity may be viewed as two dimensional. Heaven is where Jesus Christ has prepared a place for His saints and hell is where God has prepared a place for Satan and everyone who denied Christ while on earth. The imagery invokes thoughts of celestial celebrations on streets of gold versus acrid smoke rising from fiery bottomless pits filled with people that made bad decisions. So, given the facts, the importance of letting God into your life should be a no-brainer.

By now I hope to have nudged you in the direction of right decisions. If so, here is a small sampling of your heavenly Father’s earthly provisions. By walking in fellowship with Him you will receive gifts such as love, joy, peace, hope, comfort, healing, guidance… As David said in Psalm 23, “I shall not want”. The bliss of eternal life in heaven will surely dwarf the sprinkling of blessings you will experience on earth. John describes in apocalyptic form a few words concerning His heavenly care, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying; ‘“Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away”’ (John 21:3 & 4).

This post is designed to open your heart to a better understanding of what it really means to let God into your life.

A CLOSER LOOK

IMG_1170(2)While cruising through life I have often been told to slow down, “take a closer look” before making a decision. In this message I want to share the experience of lessons learned while on vacation. Often times, life’s strongest guideposts come from the small, simple, and sometimes distant encounters with others. Such is my case, as I became the benefactor of the behavioral patterns of 2 &1/2 year old twins. The cruise was only four days but during that time my wife and I were exposed to the unique life lesson of what it truly means to love and care for another as yourself.

Lesson – Our dinner reservations were for 6:00 pm. I was seated one table to the left of the twins – front row seat. Their mom sat between them for what I assumed was obvious reasons: Sibling rivalry!!! Boy, was I surprised. The little boy took a grape from his plate, held it out at arm’s length so his sister could see it.  Then she took one from her plate and they then ate together. Throughout the three course meal the same pattern continued, complete with gestures and constant reinforcement from each other…

Lesson – Following dinner the group migrated to the foyer. During endless conservations within the group the twins ran around playing when suddenly, the little girl fell. Her mom rushed over to help her up, but she refused to accept her outstretched hand. She lay there on a cold marble floor as if waiting and looking for someone else. Her brother saw her and rushed over to help. He reached out his hand and his sister smiled as if to say, “I knew you would come to help me”. She smiled, reached out and took his hand. He pulled her up, they embraced and started to play again.

Lesson – It was getting late so the parents excused themselves and left with the twins. I watched as they walked down the hall. The twins between mom and dad, holding hands, with the other hand firmly locked in the grasp of their parents. Suddenly, as though an invisible hand reached out to restrain them, the little ones stopped. Without a word, they pulled their hands from their parents and turned to face each other. They locked in a big bear hug, grinned in delight and after a few moments reached for their parent’s hand and continued walking.

As an adult, parent or grandparent what did you discover about the twin’s behavior that deserves a closer look? I saw an innocent but sincere relationship that truly exemplified the heart of Jesus Christ. Their love, care and codependence on each other pointed to something far greater than the material things of life. Their love for each other replicated the love that our heavenly Father has for us. Jesus compared the hearts of little children to the kingdom of heaven when He said: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Mark 10:14 & 15).

Take-Away – Above all else, Jesus Christ earned the right of a Closer Look. He will reach out and lift you up every time you fall and His love, care and pure delight for you is always sufficient.