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“Because I said so, that’s why”!

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How many of us have ever been shopping at Walmart or the grocery store and observed the following?

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Mom or Dad is shopping with a couple of kids in tow. As kids are prone to do, their eyes are drawn to things and they begin to ask if they can have them.

This goes on for a while, and each time they ask for something Mom or Dad says “no, you can’t have that”, or “no, not today”. Of course, kids will be kids, so naturally they ask “why not?”

Every. Single. Time.

After the umpteenth time, the exasperated parent finally lets out a forceful “because I said so, that’s why not”!

Now, I’m pretty sure that none of you or your children ever did such a thing (insert smile). Personally, I don’t remember doing this as a child either, but being the ornery kid I was, I probably did. Well, that and I probably knew what was waiting for me at home if I ever tried it (insert frown).

All children are inquisitive and want to get their hands on new things, even things they probably know they can’t or shouldn’t have. What they mostly want however, is to have their own way.

It’s a natural tendency to want what we want when we want it, and we want our way NOW. Humans have been this way from day one. It all goes back to that Adam and Eve debacle.

A lot of us are still like that as adults, aren’t we? As we grow older and begin working and taking on the adult responsibilities of life, we feel a certain sense of entitlement. After all, we are working hard and deserve to have a few nice things. Nothing wrong with that.

Looking at things from a spiritual perspective however is where this sense of ‘wanting to have it our way now’ can get us in trouble. That’s because in the eyes of our Heavenly Father, we are children that are in dire need of many things, and those things usually don’t include cars, boats, and the like.

What we do need however is spiritual nurturing, which encompasses a multitude of areas. These include teaching, encouraging, growth, care, support, and even discipline when necessary.

To be honest, many of us have gone through periods where we didn’t want any of those things. What we wanted was to live our life our own way, without any restrictions imposed upon us, with no strings attached.

Some of us have gone so far as to reject God altogether. We make a conscious decision not to believe in anything beyond our self. In doing so, we convince ourselves that we are absolved from any accountability to God, thus freeing our minds from any thought of right/wrong or the concept of yes/no.

We convince ourselves that we have found a winning formula. No God equals no Heaven and no Hell, nor any consequences for our decisions. This leaves us completely free to think and do as we please.

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Cue the song “Imagine” by John Lennon.

Except that it isn’t that simple. Despite our formulas, our wishful thinking, or our melodic songs, God does, in fact, exist. He simply cannot be wished away.

Despite the scientific community’s best efforts to prove otherwise, we have been created in the image of God. As such, we possess the incredible power to choose and to make decisions, whether they be good or bad.

All of this means that no, we are not free to think and do as we please. At least not without having to deal with the consequences of our actions.

We can choose to not like this arrangement all we want. We can stubbornly decide to go our own way and do our own thing until we breathe our last breath. We can override our conscious and choose to reject the call of God and leave this life having never known Him.

What we cannot do, however, is escape Him. Our decisions and actions will be accounted for one day. His judgments are certain and final, and none will be exempt.

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

Choosing to ignore the clear teachings of Scripture about the coming judgment in order to have it your way is to commit spiritual suicide. It is the very act of throwing away your life on earth and ultimately damming your eternal soul to Hell. To my mind, that doesn’t sound like such a wise decision, but what matters is how do you feel about that?

Do these words sound harsh to you? Does all of this talk about judgement seem…well, judgmental? Are these words offensive to you? Would you rather not hear them?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions you can take some small comfort in knowing that most people agree with you. Unfortunately, that doesn’t change a thing.

This great judgment day will render everyone equal. The wealthy, the poor, the white, the black, the privileged and the pauper, will all stand on the same level ground before God’s throne. And just in case someone wants to ask “why”, it’s because He said so!

On this great day every account will be settled. Every sin not under the blood of Jesus Christ will be made known. There will be no place to hide. Every joke and criticism ever made about the existence of God will be silenced. The atheist and agnostic will at long last be silenced. The lukewarm church goer who never accepted Christ’s sacrifice for their sins will be find no solace on that dreadful day.

And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.

Committing our lives to Jesus Christ on this side of eternity ensures that when that great day of reckoning comes, we will be safe and secure in the promises of God that He will redeem us for all of eternity.

Because He said so!

Have a blessed day everyone!

Ron

[1] Revelation 20:12

[2] Revelation 16:7

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice”! Philippians 4:4 NKJV

 

 

 

A grateful and appreciative heart

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Now that the traditional day of Thanksgiving is over, I thought I’d follow up on my last post with a bit more on what it means to me personally to be both grateful and thankful, particularly in regards to our relationship with our Heavenly Father.

I feel it is very important to maintain a grateful and appreciative heart for the things I have received in this life. Notice that I said the word maintain. That means we have to work at it, otherwise it’s not going to happen. Maintaining a grateful and appreciative heart is all on us, and it doesn’t happen automatically. If you’ve ever slipped into one of those moments when you just don’t feel very thankful, you know what I’m talking about.

By the same token, that I am able to say I am a child of God often leaves me nearly speechless. If you could have seen the person I used to be, you would have numbered me with those who were destined for the scrap heap of humanity.

How God can find something useful in any of us leaves me scratching my head. Have you ever felt this way?

Even today, over 40 years after accepting the Lord Jesus as my Savior, I marvel at God’s unique ability to see past what we were and slowly bring to fruition what we are destined to become. Seriously, who but God can do such things?

I made so many mistakes in my early Christian life that I sometimes wondered why I should even bother trying to live for Him. Comparing myself to other, more mature Christians left me shaking my head wondering how in the world they do it. How could these people never make mistakes? How could they always be so faithful?

Well, as all of us know by now, none of us are perfect are we? Neither do we always have it all together like we want others to believe we do. You see, it doesn’t matter if you’ve been a Christian for four days, forty days, or forty years, we still live in a fallen world that is wrought with one peril after another. Everywhere we turn there are challenges and obstacles in our path.

Some days remaining faithful to Him seems more like a dream than a reality. Can you relate? Can I get an “Amen”!

I will be forever thankful for what God has done in my life. After much work and countless hours spent upon the Potter’s wheel, he has slowly transformed me from a wild, bitter, and angry young man into someone who is now almost unrecognizable from the person I was. I say that knowing full well that He still has much to do to help me to reach my full potential.

No one needs to remind me that I am a man who has been blessed far beyond what I truly deserve. The Lord has taken me from being a blasphemous, proud, and unthankful heathen to a man after God’s own heart. [1]

How could I not praise him for what he has done?

For all that the Lord has done in my life, nothing compares with how that in an instant He changed the course of my eternal destination. I who was once on the fast track to Hell and eternal separation from all that is good, has had his soul re-routed to a destination where joy shall never end.

As my friend Bill Sweeney says, it may sound corny, but I actually believe that one day I’m going to a far better place because of Jesus. [2]

I would be remiss if I failed to mention how thankful and how grateful I am to have by my side the most wonderful wife anyone could ever hope to have. The mere fact that she’s still here is a testament to her abiding love for me. When I think of how much she has had to put up with through the years, I am presented with a clear picture of love, dedication, sacrifice, and commitment.

This may surprise many of you, but I lean towards being very strong-willed(insert smile here). I suppose that comes from being raised the way I was, that and being in positions of authority and responsibility for a large part of my life. My point being, sometimes it isn’t easy to live with someone like me, yet my sweet Princess somehow manages to keep me in check.

She is the calming voice of reason when I want to take a situation in my own hands to right a wrong that may have been done. She is the great communicator in our home when at times I want to clam up, satisfied within my own mind that I know all there is to know about the situation.

I am convinced that God brought us together in a Divine manner at just the right time. Two broken and shattered lives, neither looking for or ever expecting to love again. Yet God somehow orchestrated things so that we would meet one day in the foyer of a church, a church she was visiting only because of a friends invitation.

I could never have imagined that this shy young lady who wouldn’t even make eye contact with me when we were introduced, would one day complete me in a way I never thought possible and that together we would write our own Love Story.

These are just some of the reasons why I am a thankful and grateful man today. And yes, it is true, there are days when I need to be reminded of all of this. When I am, I’m humbled once again at the realization of where I’ve come from and where I’m destined to go.

For all of this, I am forever grateful and appreciative to my Savior.

Have a blessed day everyone!

Ron

[1] 2 Timothy 3:2 (KJV)

[2] For more of Bill Sweeney’s story of how the Lord has sustained him through a long battle with ALS, check out his website here: https://unshakablehope.com/about/

 

 

 

Putting in our order

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Who doesn’t like the occasional fast food take out vs. the work of preparing and cooking a big meal at home? Just the other night for example, my Princess decided she wanted Chinese take out, so Chinese it was.

And yes….it was very good!!

The convenience of fast food is pretty awesome if you ask me. Simply pick up the phone and call it in, or even better do it all online. Within a few minutes of placing our order, we’re sitting down to eat!

Of course, you know what they say about too much of a good thing. Simply putting in an order comes at a high cost if done frequently. Whether it’s spending extra money on top of the weeks grocery budget, or the ever expanding waist line, convenience isn’t cheap.

That being said, I think we’ve gotten quite comfortable with the ease and simplicity of putting in our order, and when you think about it, this mindset carries over into many parts of our lives.

We want maximum benefit while exerting minimum effort. Place a call, click a mouse, or speak into a device and things appear on our doorstep almost magically. Technology at its finest!

So it is sometimes in our walk with the Lord. Have you noticed that when we are facing difficult circumstances, our initial thoughts are often to try the “call, click a mouse, or speak into a device” approach when searching for a solution?

That’s called Human nature 101. Who doesn’t like easy?

Unfortunately, all too often the issues we are facing today seem to turn into giants before our very eyes. When that happens, ‘easy’ rarely works because it takes far more than simply putting in our order to send those same giants packing.

I have been guilty of this, and more times than not I didn’t even realize it until it was brought to my attention. That’s because I can get so caught up in the ‘what’s wrong’ that instead of immediately turning to the Lord, I search everywhere else, looking for that easy solution.

Do you ever do this?

The point I’m trying to make with this is that while we all have needs, and we’re all dealing with something, we also have to understand that more often than not, the solutions to today’s complex issues are not easy.

We can’t just “put in our order”, walk away, and be done with it while expecting that things will work out somehow or another. If we’re going to overcome and have the victory, we need to pray.

We might think of prayer as optional, or even a last resort thing to do when we’re out of options, but the reality of it is we are expected to pray. Jesus didn’t say ‘if you pray’, but rather when you pray.

But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.   Matthew 6:6

Prayer cements our relationship with our Heavenly Father. It is an open line of communication that each of us has with Him, and provides the means in which we may cast our cares upon Him instead of carrying them ourselves.

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.   1st Peter 5:6,7

I can think of no greater need in the body of Christ today than the need for regular prayer. The kind of praying I’m talking about is not merely putting in our order, it is personally communicating with the Almighty. Not just when we are facing giants, but every single day!

Prayer is a critical component of our relationship with the Father.

One I need to desperately rekindle.

How about you?

If you’re tired of seeing no results from simply ‘placing your order’, I believe sincere prayer will be a game changer.

Be blessed everyone!

Ron

 

 

 

Is this how God feels?

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As my wife and I were taking a walk through the neighborhood this morning, I felt like asking her a question. It was one of those questions that I’m pretty sure most men would steer clear of, but I felt strongly about asking it.

The question?

“Do you know that I love you?”

Now, you may be saying to yourself ‘man, I wouldn’t ever go there’. Or perhaps you’re thinking of a response more like ‘are you crazy’?

You have to understand that a day doesn’t go by that we don’t tell each other that we love one another multiple times. So when I asked her the question “do you know that I love you?” I was already certain of her answer.

Except that she didn’t give me the answer I was anticipating. Her answer was short and to the point: sometimes.

SOMETIMES? WHAT KIND OF RESPONSE IS SOMETIMES?

Like any loving husband whose mind is now instantly filled with all kinds of wild (and insecure) thoughts, for a moment I didn’t know what to think or how to respond to her answer.

After mumbling something or other about how she must be kidding me, she began to explain her answer. Fortunately for me, she did in fact assure me that she knew that I loved her.

But…..

There’s always a but, isn’t there?

After telling me that yes, she did in fact know that I loved her; she went on to say that there are times when it doesn’t seem like I do.

By now all of my senses are on high alert, shields are up, and I’m steadying myself for “The Talk”. You know the talk I’m referring to, don’t you? If not, just ask any husband!

I guess I should explain something here before I proceed. You see, my wife is the kindest, sweetest, and most gentle person I’ve ever known. For all of that, she is also as honest as the day is long. She can be brutally honest, but with a dash of mercy included, if that makes any sense.

Oh, and lest anyone should mistake her gentleness for weakness, you would be making a huge mistake in doing so!!

So she proceeded to explain why she said the word sometimes, and I felt both my jaw and my heart drop. It seems that she used the word sometimes because of my propensity to withdraw into myself.

By my withdrawing into my own little world, she saw it as me withdrawing from her. Now of course, that was never my intention, but I can clearly see why she would think it was.

Lesson learned, and I have something (else) to work on.

This life lesson has caused me to think about our relationship with our Heavenly Father. I wonder if our actions send Him mixed messages as well.

Is this how God feels, that He’s unsure of how we truly feel about Him?

We go to church to worship Him. Or do we? Are we giving Him our all, our undivided attention? Or are we absentmindedly going through the motions while all along our thoughts are a million miles away?

If we aren’t careful our worship becomes stagnant. It becomes nothing more than rote. It becomes a mechanical routine, void of any spontaneity or enthusiasm. It becomes like the old joke where the man tells his wife “I told you I loved you when I married you, isn’t that enough?”

Well, no, it isn’t enough. Any more than it’s enough to let our Savior know that we love him only at Easter and Christmas.

Love is a verb. It requires action and effort on our part. If it isn’t displayed on the outside, it’s not happening on the inside either.

Hey, that’s good stuff right there!

If we withdraw from Him, how is He to know how we feel about Him? Some will say of course that ‘God knows everything and that includes how I feel about Him, so why do I need to do anything else’?

Ask yourself, is that good enough for your wife or husband? Don’t all of us like to hear those words “I Love You”, and to see them backed up by unselfish actions?

I don’t think our Heavenly Father is all that different from us in that regard. After all, we are made in His image.

Something to think about, isn’t it?

Be blessed everyone!

Ron

 

 

 

The question shouldn’t be WWJD….

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WWJD bracelet

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The phrase WWDJ, or “What Would Jesus Do” was popularized several years ago as a kind of “mental prompt”to assist us in coming up with the right decision when we are faced with having to make an ethical or moral choice.

In order to “do the right thing”, or so the the theory goes, we ask ourselves WWJD?

Of course we all know that Jesus always did the right thing and always made the right choices. In fact, He made the following statement about this very thing when defending himself against the Jews.

And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.   John 8:29.  emphasis mine

As the only perfect one to ever be born of a woman, Jesus never sinned and he never came up short. He did everything right, which is why the idea to use WWJD came about. Jesus is the benchmark for truth and righteousness. He never got it wrong.

From a practical standpoint, I’ve never bought in to the whole WWJD craze. We all know what Jesus would do because we have his words and his testimony of exactly what he did do.

No guesswork there!

I think the question of WWJD should be rephrased to “what will you do with what Jesus has ALREADY DONE? In other words, the impetus falls on us, not Jesus because He’s already done “the right thing”.

For example, what do we do with this?

who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself”.   Hebrews 7:27

Or this?

Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption”.   Hebrews 9:12

I believe the bigger question that everyone must answer is what will we do, what will be our response to what Jesus Christ did for mankind when He offered himself as a sacrifice for your sins and mine?

This is one question that we all MUST answer, for we will all be called one day to give an account as to how we responded to His sacrifice.

Maybe we should replace the wrist bracelets that say WWJD with ones that say WWWD,or What Will We Do?

After all, we’re the ones who are prone to give the questionable responses, not Him!

Have a great Sunday, and be blessed!

Ron

 

 

More precious than gold…

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I was awake very early this morning, visions of a potter’s wheel filling my thoughts. The words delivered unto the prophet Jeremiah kept being repeated over and over in my mind.                                                                                                                                                         “The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying: “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear My words.” Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something at the wheel. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.” Jeremiah 18:1-4   potters wheel

This was a message intended for the nation of Israel, yet like so many of its kind is just as applicable to the Christian today. We are continually kept on the potter’s wheel, constantly being shaped and conformed into a vessel that He can use.

For many of us, just to know we are on the wheel, in His hands, is enough. Yet being conformed into His image for our lives can be a painful process, as many of us can attest. What’s more, just being on the wheel is not the end of the process.

If you have ever worked a piece of clay into an object, or have visited a potter to watch the process in action, you learn that it isn’t as easy as you may have thought. It takes many hours in the hands of a skilled potter to produce a beautiful vessel, hours spent being pulled, pinched, gouged, and trimmed.

Once a particular piece has been made, it must be set aside and allowed to air dry for several hours. After this, the most important part of the process happens when the piece is placed into the fire.

This is the same process that your Heavenly Father uses when shaping his children on the Potter’s wheel. Just when we think the long ordeal of being conformed to His image is over, the trials and tests we’ve endured, the stripping away of self, there remains a final part of the process. One that cannot be skipped or shortened.

The fire awaits us. Just as the potter uses a kiln that fires to a temperature in excess of 2200 degrees, we too must have our faith tried by fire.  

Peter said it best when saying “that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,”   1 Peter 1:7

Your faith is much more precious than gold that perishes. I like that. I like that Peter reminds us that our faith is going to be fire tested, not for our glory or honor, but for God’s.

Each of us are chosen vessels, and as such our faith will be tested in the fire. For many of us it is a fire of addiction. For others it is the fire of abuse. Still others walk through the fire of illness and afflictions.

What we must remember however, is that the fire is not sent to punish. The fire is sent to refine.

Be blessed,

Ron

The inspiration for this post came from a post written by my dear friend Anna Waldherr, entitled Dreams of Glory. I encourage everyone to visit her site, where you will find an informative,encouraging, and enlightening perspective on matters of the heart. Anna has been a tremendous source of inspiration and encouragement to me, and has been chosen for such a time as this to spread the message of hope to those who may be without. She is a woman of God that I esteem highly.