Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Tree That Preached A Sermon

I'm not actually cutting down every tree in my yard, but we did cut down another tree yesterday. It was an old cherry tree. 

I don't know why we called it a cherry tree. It didn't bear fruit, but it did have pretty blossoms in the spring. Until it didn't. 

The tree didn't look sick to me, but it was ugly. Even I, who never want to sacrifice a tree, thought it needed to go.  

The tree had already been cut when I arrived home from lunch with friends. I walked over to look at the stump and was shocked by what I saw. It was no wonder the tree looked spindly. It was so diseased that the center of the trunk was nothing but crumbling dust. The bark slipped off the trunk like wrapping paper from a package.

The preacher who cut down my tree came over to join me in my inspection.

"This looks awful. What caused it to deteriorate like this?"

"That's what sin will do." 

"My tree sinned?"

"Nope. Bugs ate up the tree. But that's what sin does in our lives. We still look fine on the outside, but on the inside, where no one can see, sin just eats us up. If we don't let God deal with it, sin will destroy us from the inside out."

That tree preached me a sermon.

I don't want sin in my life to reap a harvest like this tree got from the bugs gnawing inside. Probably you don't either.

There's only one solution. Keep short accounts and allow Jesus to cleanse us from all our sin and unrighteousness. 

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins 
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 
                                                                        1 John 1:9 nasb

Take another look at the inside of that tree. We don't want that kind of destruction in our lives, but sin gnaws and consumes. It always takes a toll. The pleasure of the moment is never worth the price we'll pay.

We have a choice. Sin or righteousness. We can't choose both, so let's choose righteousness.
In case you missed one of this week's posts, here are the links:  The Blizzard That Was Not,  The Truth That Matters Most: My Redeemer Lives, Truth That Matters: God Sees The Importance of LightA Little Good News: Working Together,  Things I've Learned: There is a God and I'm Not It, and Cutting Down a Tree and Praying for Miracles.

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#sin #JesusChrist #righteousness #repent #Christian

Friday, January 29, 2016

Cutting Down a Tree and Praying for Miracles

The topic of friends has been on my mind recently. I've been reading the book of Job and thanking God that I have a different set of friends than Job did. 

I had a Bradford pear tree that was overly tall and had begun to sway precariously in the wind. It needed to go, but I had never cut down a tree before. I'd considered trying to cut it down myself, but needed a tutorial before I attempted it.

I told a family friend about my plan and he just shook his head. "You don't need to try to cut down a tree. I'll cut it down for you."

Yesterday was the day. I watched as he applied chain saw to tree. About half-way through, he stopped and looked around. 

"I forgot my wedge. Can I use yours?"

"What's a wedge?"

"It's a wood-cutting tool that you use to make the tree fall the direction you want it to go."

"I've never heard of that. I'm pretty sure I don't have one."


The sawing had already reached the point of no return and the tree had begun to sway in my direction. Toward the house. 

"Would a rope help?" Maybe he could pull the tree in the right direction, I thought. (Obviously, I know nothing about cutting trees.)

He smiled. "Maybe."

I offered a length of rope and prayed that God would not let the tree hit my house, then went inside. It was easier not to watch.

When no crash came, I went back outside. The tree was on the ground and my friend was grinning like crazy. "Guess what happened?"

"Tell me."

"The tree was going toward the house. I couldn't seem to stop it, even with the rope tied around it. I was pulling like crazy, but it was tilting the other way. But you know how we prayed that God wouldn't let it hit the house? I prayed again that it wouldn't hit the house and asked God to help me and He did. A big breeze came up and blew the tree in the right direction."

It had missed my house, my car, and his truck. It had landed exactly where he had intended.

Was it a miraculous breeze, sent by God to direct the falling of the tree? I choose to think so.

I tell this story to remind us that we serve a God who sees us. He knows our needs, listens to our prayers, and responds to our distress. He never leaves us nor forsakes us. He helps us. He is with us to the end and provides for every need, even when what we need is a strong breeze to direct a falling tree.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! 
Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." 
Joshua 1:9 nasb

In case you missed one of this week's posts, here are the links:  Mamie and the Ink StainThe Blizzard That Was Not,  The Truth That Matters Most: My Redeemer Lives, Truth That Matters: God Sees The Importance of LightA Little Good News: Working Together, and Things I've Learned: There is a God and I'm Not It.

Be sure to check out my new Amazon Author Page. You can follow me on Amazon.

#miracles #Christian #disciple #friends

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Things I've Learned: There Is A God, and I'm Not It

In my search for a little good news yesterday, I found an article written  by a woman who was turning thirty. She offered a list of things she'd learned in her first two decades, beginning with "Don't expect to be rich in your twenties."

It started me thinking about things I've learned in my more-than-twenty-years, and I thought I should share a few of those things with you. It might take a while, so I'm considering it an intermittent series. (Just so you know.)

The most important thing I've learned is "There is a God, and I'm Not It".

That seems intuitive to God-fearing people, but it's not as simple as it seems. 

It's my hand that confirms the reality of a Creative God. 

I look at my hand and marvel at the architecture of it. Twenty-seven bones, with corresponding tendons and ligaments, are arranged in such a way that we can grip, lift, touch, and move. The density of sensory nerve endings is greater on the tips of the fingers than anywhere else in the body. We can feel and discriminate the difference between a nickel and a dime. 

My hand is an engineering marvel.

The hand was planned, and it was God who planned it.

I mean this in the nicest way possible, but it seems ludicrous to believe that a big bang somehow threw some dust around and it ended up in the shape of twenty-seven bones that joined together in such an exquisitely beautiful and useful way. 

I would think that, even to an atheist, a Creative God makes more sense than that.

The reality of God relieves me of overwhelming responsibility.

If there is a God of Creation, and my hand assures me there is, then He is fully capable of handling His creation. That relieves me of the responsibility of figuring everything out and of fixing every problem. 

During my years of practicing medicine, this was a vital piece of truth. I will never be able to solve every crisis, heal every sickness, or treat every ill. Even when I do everything I know how to do to the very best of my ability, it will not always be enough. People live and people die. I do the best I can do, and leave the rest to God.

This is an especially helpful piece of truth for those times when people turn to me in desperation and want me to "fix it".  That job isn't mine. It's God's alone. 

I do the best I can do, and leave the rest to God.

That may seem hard for those who are not in medicine, but understanding that I am not responsible to the universe for correcting every problem allows me to sleep at night. There are many illnesses I can't treat, many problems I can't solve. I wish I could. I wish I could be everything that those I care about need, but I can't. 

The good news is that God is sufficient.

There is a God, and I'm not it, but the God we have is sufficient for every need.

We'll talk more about the sufficiency of God at a later time, but, for today, rejoice in this bit of truth. There is a God and we are not it. He has the God-job firmly in hand. He is good at being God and He can handle all the God-ness you need.

"In the beginning, God... Genesis 1:1

"In the beginning was the Word, 
and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." 
John 1:1

In case you missed one of this week's posts, here are the links:
  What is the Point of Suffering: Extracting the PreciousMamie and the Ink StainThe Blizzard That Was Not,  The Truth That Matters Most: My Redeemer Lives, Truth That Matters: God Sees The Importance of Light, and A Little Good News: Working Together.

Be sure to check out my new Amazon Author Page. You can follow me on Amazon.

#Godisreal #God #Christian #thingsI'velearned 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Little Good News: Working Together

This morning, I searched my brain for a blog topic and came up empty. Maybe some "good news" would be a good topic, I thought, so I scoured the internet. In case you're wondering, some of the things that pass for good news are just pitiful. 

As you probably know, the city of Flint, Michigan changed their water source from Lake Huron treated water to water from the Flint River. The pipes were old and lead from the pipes leached into the water. As a result, thousands of people in this city of more than 99,000 have evidence of lead poisoning from drinking the city's water.

Admittedly, the lead-contaminated water is not a good thing, but there is almost always good in the midst of a crisis, if we're willing to look for it.

I learned about two inner-city boys who have collected water for the people in Flint, Michigan. Their donation seemed like just a drop in the figurative bucket, but it turns out those young boys are not the only ones who want to help. Their small effort, combined with the donations of others, is part of making a big difference until a permanent solution can be found.

The longer I read, the more water-charity I found. The city of Memphis has joined with Fed Ex to donate 12,000 bottles of water to the people in Flint.  The Game (a rapper) has donated $500,000 to Flint and arranged with the Avita Water company to provide $500,000 more in lead-free bottled water. The first shipment of water is scheduled to arrive today. 

The Game's younger sister and two children live in Flint, so the water crisis is personal to him. The lives of his family matter to him. His concern has driven him to invest his money where his heart is, with no concern for potential gains.

Investing our money where our heart is. 

The Game's gift shows us something about his heart and his priorities. Family matters to him.

We, too, can learn something about ourselves by a careful look at our finances. Where do we spend our money? How are we changing the world by the way we invest our time, talents, resources, funds?

Most of us will not be able to make a million dollar donation to help solve a problem, but even a small gift, when joined with that of others, can make a difference for those in need. 

Look around you. What problems weigh heavy on the heart of God? What matters to Him?

If our heart is burdened by the things that burden God, our pocketbook should reflect that concern. 

Working together, we can make a difference, no matter the size of the problem. 

"The King will answer and say to them, 
'Truly  I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, 
even the least of them, you did it to Me.'" 
Matthew 25:40

In case you missed one of this week's posts, here are the links:  Embracing Our Personal GethsemaneWhat is the Point of Suffering: Extracting the PreciousMamie and the Ink StainThe Blizzard That Was Not,  The Truth That Matters Most: My Redeemer Lives, Truth That Matters: God Seesand The Importance of Light.

Be sure to check out my new Amazon Author Page. You can follow me on Amazon.
#worktogether #Flintwater #water #TheGame #Christian #charity

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Importance of Light

It happened gradually. One light bulb after another burned out. The stairwell light was out. Even the oven light was out. Yesterday, I realized there were light bulbs out in almost every room of my house. 

Hauling the ladder from the barn to replace one light bulb had seemed like too big an effort, but the tipping point had finally arrived. It was worth it.

After a quick trip to stock up on light bulbs, I determined to recruit the first able-bodied person who stopped by my house to help me. It wasn't long before a friend dropped in. It took a while, but we replaced all the light bulbs.

There's light throughout my house again, and it feels surprisingly extravagant after the weeks of increasing darkness.

Last night, Maggie and Mamie were tired early and barked until I put them to bed. (They sleep at the foot of my bed.) When I didn't join them immediately, they barked some more. Finally, I gave up my knitting downstairs, grabbed a book, and headed to bed. 

Propped against the headboard, book in hand, I could see it all. The lights illuminated every corner of the room.

That's what light does. It comforts and illuminates. It shows the way.

For many people, the world is a dark and comfortless place. It's our job, as disciples of Christ, to provide the light, for it is His Word that gives us light.

When light is absent, it's not the fault of the darkness. It's the fault of the light-bearers. 

Are you allowing the light of Christ to shine forth from your life? Does the love of Christ provide a gentle glow that draws others to Him?

Darkness expands when light fails. 

Let's be sure our light shines in such a way that all will see the love of Christ in us. 

Make a difference. Be the light. 

Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.    Psalm 119:105

You are the light of the world...    Matthew 5:14

Let your light so shine before men, that they see your good works, 
and glorify your Father which is in heaven.    Matthew 5:16 


Be sure to check out my new Amazon Author Page.
#light #bethelight #Christian #faith #letyourlightshine

Monday, January 25, 2016

Truth that Matters: God sees

Job's friends meant well, I suppose, but their "encouraging words" were anything but encouraging. Even worse, they had just enough truth in their soliloquies to make them dangerous. 

Eliphaz claimed that clouds are a hiding place for God. The clouds, he believed, hid The Almighty and prevented Him from seeing us. 

Job was not convinced.

For Job, being in the midst of his suffering was like being trapped in a dense fog. 

No matter which way he turned, Job could not see the hand of God. In the midst of his pain and sorrow, he felt separated from God and alone in his suffering.

Job understood, however, that his feelings and his reality were not the same. 

Job knew that His Redeemer lives and he knew that His Redeemer sees. 

"He knows the way I take..." Job 23:10 nasb

God had not lost track of Job. Suffering and grief had not obscured God's vision. Job's response to his suffering and grief had not cut him off from God. He was not alone.

God sees.

Just as Hagar found, when she was sent away into the desert and separated from all she knew, God was there. He saw her and met her, right where she was. She understood, at last, that Jehovah is the God who sees.

El Roi

We, too, can easily feel separated from God by circumstances or by sin. It's common to feel isolated in our suffering, but we are not. 

We serve a God who sees us, no matter where we are, no matter how far away from Him we roam.

We may be controlled by our feelings, but God is not. He is. He sees. He lives. Whether our feelings tell us so, or not.

Take heart, then, in the truth that God sees us in our suffering and distress, regardless of how we feel. He sees and He is nearer than we realize.

He is here. 

We are not alone.

photo courtesy

Be sure to check out my new Amazon Author Page.

#Job #Godsees #truth #ChronologicalBible #Christian #faith

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Truth That Matters Most: My Redeemer Lives

Poor Job.

That's what I always think when I read the book of Job. He had so many things wrong. His friends had so many things wrong. 

Job thought God had caused his suffering. It was true that God allowed Job's suffering, but He neither initiated it nor caused it. 

Job's friends thought secret sin was the root of Job's problems. They were wrong, too.

Today, I came to that pivotal passage where Job correctly stated the one thing on which he had staked his life and his sanity.

"And as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
And at the last He will take His stand on the earth.
Even after my skin is destroyed, 
Yet from my flesh I shall see God."
        Job 19:25-26 nasb

Job had this truth right, and it was the one truth that mattered the most. 

He knew without a single doubt that His God lived and would, in the end, be victorious over every foe. 

Job knew that his faith in the Holy One was not in vain. 

Job's faith was, ultimately, the most important possession he had. His faith was not dependent upon prosperity or loss, health or sickness, welfare or calamity. His faith was anchored in unshakable truth and nothing his misguided friends said could shake him.

Nicole C. Mullen wrote a song that expresses this beautifully. I thought you might enjoy hearing her version of My Redeemer Lives today, so click on the the link to listen to her "official video". (It opens in a new tab. You'll have to listen to a few seconds of an ad.) I've excerpted part of the lyrics below. 

Who taught the sun where to stand in the morning?
And who told the ocean you can only come this far?
And who showed the moon where to hide til evening?
Whose words alone can catch a falling star?

Well I know my Redeemers lives
I know my Redeemer lives
All of creation testifies
 This life within my cries
I know my Redeemer lives

The very same God that spins things in orbit
Runs to the weary, the worn and the weak
And the same gentle hands that hold me when I'm broken
They conquered death to bring me victory...

                                 From My Redeemer Lives by Nicole C. Mullen 

We, too, can live with the same certainty Job had if we place our trust in the One who set the stars in the sky and put the earth in orbit. He knit us together in our mothers' wombs. He knows every one of the hairs of our head and every second of our lives. 

Our Redeemer lives and will, one day, take His stand on this earth. 

Every knee will bend. 

Every head will bow. 

He knows His own and they are never forgotten.

He will return for His church. 

He will return for you, so put your trust, your hope, your live in the hands of the One who holds everything in His loving, no-slip grip.

Be sure to check out my new Amazon Author Page.
#Job #myredeemerlives #truth #ChronologicalBible #Christian #faith