Spiritual Thermometers

I didn’t know this but I have some spiritual thermometers. One of them is this blog. I can tell when my relationship with God is slipping because I can’t come up with anything to write about. I can skip reading my Bible and praying for days and not realize it but there is something about having a specific set of days to post a blog that makes you look at the calendar and go- CRAP, it’s been over a week since I posted a blog.

I’ll be honest, my relationship with God has gone downhill of late. We haven’t been attending church regularly, nor have I been reading my Bible and praying like I should. Basically I haven’t been spending time with God. You know what? I miss Him. I miss the relationship, I miss the serenity, I miss the calmness in His voice when He speaks to my heart. I have once again let life get in the way. I have reduced my witness to a whimper and my ministry to a crawl.

A lot of it has to do with not having a church home. I have no root. I’m not grounded. But that’s not a good excuse. I still have a Bible, I still have the ability to talk to God anytime I so desire. I just don’t. I wake up early and check Facebook before I check in with God. I read my email before I read God’s word. I am doing life without the giver of life and it really just sucks. My empathy is gone, my compassion is low and my patience is small.

I see it most of all with my kids. I am meaner to them than usual. I snap at them instead of listening to them. I ignore them instead of getting down on their level and listening. I am quick to punish and slow to praise.

I don’t like me when I’m like this. I don’t recognize the man in the mirror. I know the face but the countenance is unfamiliar.

1-3 Generous in love—God, give grace! Huge in mercy—wipe out my bad record.

don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.

Scrub away my guilt,

soak out my sins in your laundry.

I know how bad I’ve been;

my sins are staring me down.

4-6 You’re the One I’ve violated, and you’ve seen

it all, seen the full extent of my evil.

You have all the facts before you;

whatever you decide about me is fair.

I’ve been out of step with you for a long time,

in the wrong since before I was born.

What you’re after is truth from the inside out.

Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life.

7-15 Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean,

scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life.

Tune me in to foot-tapping songs,

set these once-broken bones to dancing.

Don’t look too close for blemishes,

give me a clean bill of health.

God, make a fresh start in me,

shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.

Don’t throw me out with the trash,

or fail to breathe holiness in me.

Bring me back from gray exile,

put a fresh wind in my sails!

Give me a job teaching rebels your ways

so the lost can find their way home.

Commute my death sentence, God, my salvation God,

and I’ll sing anthems to your life-giving ways.

Unbutton my lips, dear God;

I’ll let loose with your praise.

16-17 Going through the motions doesn’t please you,

a flawless performance is nothing to you.

I learned God-worship

when my pride was shattered.

Heart-shattered lives ready for love  Psalm 51:1-17 The Message


It’s all about Him,

ShawnReblog this post [with Zemanta]

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Einstein

I’m not Einstein!

The Heavenly Coin Flip

The other day someone came to me and told me that she wanted to start reading the Bible and asked where she should start.  I told her that my advice is to start with the book of John.  ~It’s easy to read and all about Jesus~ SO she looks at me and says, "OK, but I’m going to start in the Old Testament with Genesis."  I know, why ask me then right?  No biggie, happens all the time.  So I told her that Genesis was a fine place to start and she merrily went on her way.  A few weeks later she came back to me and asked if she could skip some parts.  I asked, "You got to the "begats" didn’t you?"  I told her not to worry, they don’t last that long.  Yesterday she tells me that she was quitting reading the Old Testament and going to read John because another friend had recommended that she start there.  I was like, "Really?  That’s great, wait, didn’t I mention that to you a month and a half ago?" 

We do that all the time though don’t we?  We ask a question hoping that the answer "we" want will be verified and seconded by the person we are asking.  We want our answer.  Almost like we are just asking out of respect for that person, not because we want a real answer. 

Or maybe she didn’t know the answer until she asked it and as she was asking she realized what she wanted.  I ran across this picture the other day and it got me to thinking about this subject, take a look.coin

Pretty true though isn’t it?  Once we flip that coin, 9 times out of 10 we are hoping it lands on one particular side and in that moment clarity is attained.

We do this with asking advice from others but we also do it when talking with God.  We come to God with the pretense of seeking His will, asking His direction but secretly hoping He will verify and bless our agenda, our idea.  We have our own motives and inwardly we decide long before going to God what we are going to do.  But we pray anyway.  We come to Him out of some thin veil of respect almost as if to say, "This is what I plan to do, if you don’t like it then stop me, otherwise it’s what I’m going to do." 

The Bible says,

7 "Ask, and God will give to you. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will open for you. (Matthew 7:7, New Century Version)

Ask, don’t inform.  Search, don’t direct.  Knock, don’t force. 

None of those three actions, asking, searching and knocking, imply that our will be done.  Actually in the Lords prayer it says "Your (God’s) will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." 

So before doing the Heavenly Coin flip, make sure you aren’t going into it with your own agenda.  Allow God the freedom to show you His plan and then have the sense to accept it as is. 

Don’t manipulate it your way but instead follow it His way.


It’s all about Him,

Shawn

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Questions? Don’t forget to visit the Questions??Questions?? page and let me know. I will try to answer it the best I can. No Quantum Physics or Time Travel questions please!

Einstein

I’m not Einstein!

How Big is Your Spread?

You spread out our sins before you – our secret sins – and you see them all.  Psalm 90:8 (NLT)

I read Westerns.  I never used to like them but as I have grown older they’ve grown on me.  My favorite author is Ralph Compton.  While reading and watching Westerns I have heard the word “spread” a lot.  “How big is your spread?” or “I really want a big spread when I get done driving these cattle.” are common phrases. 

 

What they are talking about, for those that don’t know, is a piece of land.  “How big is your piece of land?” 

Let’s ask ourselves something.  How big is our spread?  The difference is that I’m referring to our spread of sin.  If God spread out my sin or your sin how big a spread would it be?  Would you have a lot, a block, how about an acre?  Maybe you are a hell-raiser and have a 40 acre spread.  I would be willing to bet that most of us have a pretty good size spread, I KNOW I do.  Today alone I have sinned at least 5 times that I can think of and I have only been awake for 30 minutes. 

Most of them are “secret” sins.  You know those right?  The ones we are ashamed for people to see.  The thoughts and intentions that if anyone got a good look at they would run screaming to the police that we were some kind of monster, yeah those.  We all have sins that it’s ok for others to see.  Mine are jokes.  I have a hard time controlling my humor.  It tends to get racy and mean.  I try to be careful but the words seem to flow out on their own.  And while this isn’t good the sad fact is that if you could look in my head and see what is really flying through you would probably be scarred for life.  BUT, (and it’s a big but) I bet the same would be true for you if I looked inside your noggin’.

The cool part is that not only does God see all our sins, even our secret ones, but He forgives all our sins as well.  We only have to ask. 

But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong.  1 John 1:9 (NLT)173662_1979

This does not mean it is ok to sin.  It’s not ok to do wrong.  When we sin, when we go against God it does several things but mainly it hurts God and hurts us.  It hurts God because of His sacrifice to forgive our sins.  If we sin and keep sinning the same way over and over we make a mockery of what Jesus did on the cross, His sacrifice for us.  It also hurts us.  Sin repels God’s blessings in our lives.  Sin cuts our communication with God.  Sin hurts our relationship with others.  Sin can cause physical illness.  Sin destroys families. 

BUT!!!!   But, if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from every wrong.  That’s not to say the consequences from sin won’t still be there, but the relationship with God will be restored.  When my kids get in trouble and tell me they’re sorry I forgive them but the consequences remain.  They may not be as steep if they realize what they did and seek forgiveness, but the consequences are still there.  I am teaching them and reinforcing the lesson just like God does with me.

How big is your “spread” pardner?  It’s not nearly as big as God’s ability to forgive!

 


It’s all about Him,

Shawn

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Questions? Don’t forget to visit the Questions??Questions?? page and let me know. I will try to answer it the best I can. No Quantum Physics or Time Travel questions please!

Einstein

I’m not Einstein!

Truthfulness and Butt-Kissers

Wounds from a friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.   Proverbs 27:6 (NLT)

I read this the other day on a friends facebook post.  What a great verse.  Thanks Mrs. Beverly. 

The wounds of a friend are better than the kisses of an enemy.  Let’s start with the second part, raise your hand

The kisses of an enemy.  Who likes to have their butt kissed raise your hand!  I do.  I like having my ego stroked, my actions praised and my looks complimented.  ( the last one is more a hope than something that actually happens all that often.)  Seriously though, we enjoy it.  It makes us feel good to be appreciated.  We enjoy hearing about how awesome we are.  I have a picture on facebook of Capt. Kirk (Star Trek) and he has a big old cheesy smile on his face.  The caption under the picture says, “I’m sorry, I can’t hear you over the sound of how awesome I am.”  You can see it HERE

But Proverbs is trying to warn us about this.  The problem with many “kisses of the posterior” from enemies is they aren’t true.  They aren’t reality.  They are mainly lies.  We believe them because we want to believe them.  Even though sometimes our ego won’t allow us to see them as false, most of us have grown past this.  Most of us see ourselves warts and all. 

It is easy to get the last part of this verse.  The hard part is accepting the first part.  To realize that the wounds from a friend are actually good for us.

The wounds of a friend.  Hopefully you have friends.  I do.  I have a lot, actually according to facebook, I have 205 friends, but I only have one or two that really know the real me.  Only one or two that I truly open up to.  Only one or two that I share my heart and soul with.  Most of the rest are superficial at best, fake at worst.  For those that know me you would probably say I am an out-going and funny guy.  But for those that really know me they would say I am also a closed off and guarded man.  I share easily but I share myself rarely.  I believe most of us are this way though.  I think the Roman Gladiator Adult Costume vast majority only feel comfortable with a few close friends.  I think it is hard-wired in our genes to only allow a few people to breach the walls of our heart, to get past our defenses.  Just as the gladiators of old were trained to keep opponents from getting past their defenses so have we trained ourselves to not allow people through ours.  I can count maybe four people that I have ever let past mine. 

Why?  Why are we this way?  Why are we so guarded?  Why have we built these massive walls around us?  Simple- survival.  The greatest pain I have ever known has come from my friends.  The most hurt I have endured has been at their hands.  But at the same time the most truth I have learned and the most healing has come from them as well. 

The true friend knows what to say and when to say it.  The true friend does not turn from their duty to speak the truth in love even when it means pain for their friend.  I have been on both sides.  I have been the one that truth hurt and the one to speak those painful words.  Neither side is very fun I can assure you.  But the necessity of having and being such a friend is undeniable.  The truth is hard to swallow at times, and at least for me, I tend to need someone to force me to drink it. 

2462264991_419a4d7bd9 My daughter Abby is stubborn.  I mean mule-stubborn (she gets it from my Mom- I get it from my Mom as well, but Abby didn’t get it from me)  The other night she refused to take her liquid medicine.  After 30 minutes of trying to reason with her I finally looked at her and said, “Baby-girl, you’re gonna take that medicine even if I have to force it down your throat.  Now, do you want to do this the easy way or the hard way?”  Of coarse she chose the hard way!  I usually do too.  (thanks Mom!)

But once the truth is swallowed and it begins to digest in our soul it becomes sweet and nourishing.  It may be a bitter pill to swallow but it becomes a piece of chocolate cake once we begin to accept it. 

As many as I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be committed and repent. 20 Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and have dinner with him, and he with Me.  Revelation 3:19-20 (CSB)

Jesus IS truth.  Invite Him in.  Have dinner.  Enjoy the company.


It’s all about Him,

Shawn

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You can also check out the Other Resources page for Bible Study Helps as well as links to media downloads, all free!
Want to show God’s love in a practical way and let people know where they can go for more info or help? Take a look at the DUO page.

Questions? Don’t forget to visit the Questions??Questions?? page and let me know. I will try to answer it the best I can. No Quantum Physics or Time Travel questions please!

Einstein

I’m not Einstein!

Increase Your Decrease

”Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to fight against my will.”’  Acts 26:14 (NLT) 1242968_puppet_2

   This hit me like a ton of bricks (which hurts by the way).  Whose way am I following?  Am I like Saul?  Am I unknowingly fighting against God and His will or am I working with God?Saul was a priest, and a devout one.  He truly thought persecuting the early Christians was the right thing to do.  He believed in the cause.  He rallied to his holy crusade.  The problem was he was wrong.  He was WAY off the course God wanted him to take.  But God stepped in and knocked him to the dirt and asked him, “Saul, hey Saul!  What are you doing?  Why are doing the exact opposite of what I want?  You are actually persecuting me.  It is tough to fight against me and serve me at the same time.”

So this begs the question, what am I bringing into my relationship with God that is in reality going against His will?  What attitudes, preconceived notions and great ideas do I have that would make God tell me, “It’s hard to fight against My will Shawn.”  When I read the Bible, what context am I reading with?  My American upbringing or am I trying to read it through the eyes and mind of God?  What type of prayer am I praying?  Is it in humble supplication to God or is it full of “I wants” and “I needs”?  What great ideas do I have to change the world for Jesus?  Are they really His will or are they my selfish desires to make my ego grow? 

John, the cousin of Jesus, said in John 3:30 that “I must decrease so that He (Jesus) can increase.” 

This is my prayer,

“Dad, I MUST decrease, it must become less about me.  I must decrease, it must become less about what I want.  I must decrease, it must become less of my ideas.  I must decrease, so that You can increase.  Amen.”

Increase your decrease so that He may increase in your life!


It’s all about Him,

Shawn

Did you like this post? Did you hate it? Please share it with your friends and leave a comment below. I would love to read your thoughts and opinions. Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

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You can also check out the Other Resources page for Bible Study Helps as well as links to media downloads, all free!
Want to show God’s love in a practical way and let people know where they can go for more info or help? Take a look at the DUO page.

Questions? Don’t forget to visit the Questions??Questions?? page and let me know. I will try to answer it the best I can. No Quantum Physics or Time Travel questions please!

Einstein

I’m not Einstein!

Ducky Quack-Quack!

224598_7042Whenever anything bad happens the first thought to go through my head is, “Why me?”  “What did I do to deserve this?”  “How did I tick God off this time?”  “Things were going so well, why now"?”  Here is what I have become convinced of.  It’s hard to focus on God when He’s blessing me.  Sounds dumb I know.  It is however, true.  When He is blessing me, when things are going well, when life is ducky quack-quack, God tends to be put on the back burner. 

Oswald Chambers said it this way- “Troubles nearly always make us look to God; His blessings are apt to make us look elsewhere.”  Here, here Mr. Chambers.  I see that happen to me all the time.  When life sucks, I’m talking to Jesus.  When life is going well, I’m talking to everyone but Him.  My prayer this morning was “What have I been doing?  Why am I playing at being a Christ-Follower again?  Why hasn’t my walk at work matched my walk at home?  Why haven’t I really talked to you in a while God?”  Then He answered me, “Because life is going well right now.  Life is good and you’re taking me for granted.” 

 5-12 Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
   don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
   he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
   Run to God! Run from evil!
Your body will glow with health,
   your very bones will vibrate with life!
Honor God with everything you own;
   give him the first and the best.
Your barns will burst,
   your wine vats will brim over.
But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline;
   don’t sulk under his loving correction.
It’s the child he loves that God corrects;
   a father’s delight is behind all this. (Proverbs 3:5-6, The Message)

I am NOT a prosperity preacher type guy.  (see 1 Timothy 6:6-10)  I think most of that is garbage.  Just my personal opinion but I can’t back up the belief that God wants me to have a Corvette or a Benz.  However God does bless us tangibly and intangibly, but rarely in the way we want.  He may give us peace in a dark time or help us pay for groceries when money is tight, but as far as I can see He isn’t going to give me a Corvette when  what I need is a mini-van.  God gives us what we need to serve Him, not what we want to serve our egos.  But no matter what the blessing is, tangible or intangible, it still tends to make us forget God. 

Maybe you are more spiritually disciplined than I am, if so- you are awesome.  But I imagine that 99.9% of us, if we really looked at, and I mean put a 500 watt quartz light bulb in the lamp in the living room of our heart and looked in the corners and under the love seat I bet what you will find is that, like me, you slack off when things are ducky quack-quack.  Your relationship gets stale.  Your prayers are shorter with way less emotion.  Bible reading is boring and nothing seems to be jumping out at you. 

If this is happening, be careful because the next step is for God to do something or allow something to happen that will get your attention.  Why?  Because He knows the longer you take Him for granted, the farther you get from Him.  The more comfortable you get with not praying or reading, the easier it is to ignore Him.  No one likes to be ignored, God definitely shouldn’t be ignored.  But we do.  I know I do. 

This morning He gently reminded me that I have been ignoring Him.  Hopefully I listen, because usually the reminders get a little more intense each time. 

1195551_what_not_to_do_3 Sometimes I hear my wife but I don’t listen.  I know she is talking, I hear her voice but I’m not listening to her words.  Usually a few minutes later a pillow or something comes whizzing at my head.  If I still don’t listen the object gets bigger and harder.  Ouch!!!  “What honey, I’m ready to listen!” 

 

 

God’s discipline (see last few verses above)  tends to start gentle and get a little harder each time as well.

“I hear you God, please help me to listen.”

 

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It’s all about Him,

Shawn

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You can also check out the Other Resources page for Bible Study Helps as well as links to media downloads, all free!
Want to show God’s love in a practical way and let people know where they can go for more info or help? Take a look at the DUO page.

Questions? Don’t forget to visit the Questions??Questions?? page and let me know. I will try to answer it the best I can. No Quantum Physics or Time Travel questions please!

Einstein

I’m not Einstein!

Hide & Seek

558287_hide_and_seek Ever play hide & seek?  Yeah, me too.  I loved that game.  I used to be good at it.  I was real skinny (not so much anymore) and I could wiggle into tight spots and hide.  I was fast so I could get far away from the seeker.  I was a good climber, no one ever looks up.  I was good at hide & seek.  Ever feel like God is playing a big old game of hide & seek with you?  I sure do.  I’m doing my thing and I look up and He’s gone.  So I start looking for him.  Is he under the table?  No.  How about in the kitchen cabinet?  Nope.  Are those toes sticking out from under the curtains?  Just dust bunnies.  Where could He be?  Then we mentally shout, "Come out, come out wherever You are!"  It reminds me of the verse in Song of Solomon 3:1: "I sought him, but I found him not.

Maybe He isn’t playing hide & seek, maybe He’s playing Marco Polo.  So you yell out, "MARCO!" and anxiously wait for the standard reply of "Polo" but it never comes.  Silence fills the air.  Loneliness creeps in and then you realize you aren’t playing Marco Polo or hide & seek at all, what actually happened is that you have lost God.  You left Him somewhere and now you can’t remember where.  Just like when you lose your wallet, purse or your keys you start to scramble around looking in the normal places you would leave such items.  In the same way you begin to search for God in the spiritual house of your life. 

Charles Spurgeon in his devotional Morning and Evening said,

"Tell me where you lost the company of a Christ, and I will tell you the
most likely place to find him. Have you lost Christ in the closet by
restraining prayer? Then it is there you must seek and find him. Did
you lose Christ by sin? You will find Christ in no other way but by the
giving up of the sin, and seeking by the Holy Spirit to mortify the
member in which the lust doth dwell. Did you lose Christ by neglecting
the Scriptures? You must find Christ in the Scriptures. It is a true
proverb, "Look for a thing where you dropped it, it is there." So look
for Christ where you lost him, for he has not gone away."

Go to the last place you felt Jesus in your life and start there.  Most likely He is still there waiting on you.  Something happened there that made Him dig in.  There is something there that He wants you to see.  Something He wants you to learn.  Maybe something He wants you to give up?  Find him where you left Him.  So maybe this IS more like Marco Polo.  When you step outside the light of Jesus and it’s dark it’s just like when you have your eyes closed fumbling around yelling "Marco" hoping someone will answer.  The cool thing about God is that He always lets us find Him. 

Maybe it’s time to start yelling "Marco" in your own life.  But I would start the game in the last place you lost the company of Jesus.  Chances are good He is still there.

"MARCO!!!"

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It’s all about Him,

Shawn

Did you like this post? Did you hate it? Please share it with your friends and leave a comment below. I would love to read your thoughts and opinions. Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

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You can also check out the Other Resources page for Bible Study Helps as well as links to media downloads, all free!
Want to show God’s love in a practical way and let people know where they can go for more info or help? Take a look at the DUO page.

Questions? Don’t forget to visit the Questions??Questions?? page and let me know. I will try to answer it the best I can. No Quantum Physics or Time Travel questions please!

Einstein

I’m not Einstein!