God is Not Quarantined

Does it feel like you are a prisoner in your own home? Before all this we would be trying to find a way to stay home and not have to run so much. Now we are trying to think of places to go just so we can get out. It is odd how we react to the same set of circumstances at different times. We might like to take a nap in the afternoon but if we are quarantined, we are too anxious to nap.
God can be everywhere in any time or place. He can be with us whether we are at home, at the church building or anywhere between. God can be everywhere and interact with everyone all at the same time. It is hard for us to imagine that he can do that when we face issues of internet slowdown and being able to stream and find ways to connect with people. God is always connected. God is always with us and it doesn’t take microseconds for him to connect. God is not quarantined, and he does not experience technical difficulties.
As we adapt to changes it is important to know that God is the one constant. He has not changed his mind in what he wants. He has not changed who he loves. He does not change what he has scheduled. He can go anywhere, and he can still be close with anyone. There is not a social distance needed with God. He comes to interact with all of us in a very personal way.
With all the ways we have of connecting today we are doing fairly well for being isolated. We are alone but we still have communication with other people. It is not the same as being with them, but we are able to interact with them. We are able to be in quarantine, but it isn’t like time out facing the corner. We can talk to God through prayer. We are able to call, text and email each other. We are not without connection. We should be closer to God than ever as we face difficulties. We may be limited in some ways of touching or being close to each other, but those don’t apply to God. God is able to be with us wherever we are.
Friday, March 27, 2020


Getting a Call

We get a call from our kids that they want us to come babysit. We are glad to do that, and we look forward to the time with the grandchildren. The call was an opportunity to be answered. If we had ignored the call nothing would have happened. The call had to be answered and arrangements made for us to enjoy time with the grandchildren. We see when kids are calling, and it makes us want to answer. If we get an unknown number, we might answer and might not. We don’t want to be stuck trying to tell someone why we don’t want to participate in another survey.
The call us usually specific. They want to know something or arrange for time to be spent. Sometimes people will call just to see how we are but most of the time it is specific. If we ask the telemarketer about their children or where they spent their last vacation they don’t want to talk. Jesus’ call is to follow him. He will make us fishers of men. He doesn’t ask about our last vacation or how we feel that day. He has some specific things he wants us to do when we answer his call. He is concerned about our life but there is more to life than how we feel. He calls us to something better and bigger than ourselves. It is our choice to answer the call.
God calls us to be better than who we are. He created us with a huge capacity, but we often filled ourselves from our selfish wants until we no longer resemble what God had in mind. God calls us to be holy. He calls us to be like him. It is not that we were unholy at the beginning, but we simply were innocent and inexperienced. We had no background and no history. When we pray over time for something important, we will have a story to tell. When we teach, we will have a story.
The fisherman who never went near the water has no stories of the big one that got away. A story of failure is better than no story at all. Our fishing stories with Jesus are about the ones who answered the call. The ones that got away didn’t really escape anything. They left without blessing or promise. They continue without relationship or guidance from God.  It is only when we answer Jesus’ call to follow that we can fulfill who God created us to be.
Wednesday, March 11, 2020


Home of the Brave

The danger associated with faith was in the Bible stories that we read. We heard about the suffering of the early church when the Jews rulers tried to stop their teaching. We heard about the suffering of Christians in past times and far away in mission fields. We never thought about suffering for Christ being a part of our life. We lived in America, the land of the free and home of the brave. Freedom of religion was part of living in America and we often thanked God we had such freedom to worship God the way we wanted.
Church has never seemed dangerous in the past. The worst that could happen is someone would be bored to death. It is a little more concerning today with the news of shooters choosing churches as a target. Shootings also occur at concerts, schools and other occasions where crowds gather. It is not more dangerous in church than it is in any other gathering of people. When we hear of it happening in a church, we do think about it a little more. It used to be there was respect for God and a church would never have been a target, but that is not true today.
When we look at the ministry of Jesus, we see he was in danger. There were threats from the Jewish rulers, and they plotted against him. What did Jesus do about this? He expected it. He even challenged them at times when they came to him. He did not attack them, but he did not back down from confrontation with them either. There were times when violence was attempted against him, but it was avoided until he was ready. Jesus intent was not to live forever and heal as many as possible. He came to be the sacrifice for their sin. There is no sacrifice without violence.
When Jesus was arrested his disciples ran away. John and Peter later appear at this trial and that risk causes Peter to deny he knows Jesus. He regretted it immediately. The conflict between Jewish leaders and Christians would continue. They healed, preached and spoke up in court. Sometimes the results were violent. They wore it as a badge of courage that they were counted worthy to suffer for Jesus. To follow Jesus means we accept the danger of knowing him. Church is not to be a place of safety. We are on the front line living out the faith that calls us to follow Jesus. This is still the home of the brave.
Friday, March 6, 2020


What Did You Do with Your Extra Day?

Yesterday was the official extra day. It even came on a Saturday. There are 366 days this year because it is leap year, not 365, and we should not just let the day go without notice. So, what grand exciting thing happened on your extra day?
The trouble with time is how you count it. There were still only 7 days last week. We didn’t get an extra Saturday, there was only one. So what day was extra? There were still 168 hours in the week. Did we even get one extra hour? In Arizona we don’t even get and extra hour because we don’t have daylight savings time. How can we get no more days in the week or hours in a day, but end up with an extra day in the year?
The bigger question is what we do with, “extra” time. We hear people say, “If I get time,” there are things they will do. Where are they going to get this extra time? What we really mean is we will finish other priority items and then have time for the one in question. Time is more about priority and choosing what we want to do with the same amount of time as everyone else. Some people work faster than others and so we say they have, “More time”.
When do we have time for God? It is when we make God a priority. Human nature is we will do whatever we want to do. Our biggest priority will be the things that are most important to us. When we worship, how often we pray, how much we study are all questions that are about the priority of God in our life. We may think we don’t have time, but doesn’t God make everything work together? We can’t hope to accomplish anything unless we have talked to God and have his blessing. Time spent with God gives us more clarity to make the most of our life.   
Friday, February 28, 2020


Becoming Better People

In the Bible there are expectations from God of a better life. It almost doesn’t matter where we are now, there are more things that can be done. When Jesus first calls his disciples, he tells them not to be afraid, that he would train them to catch men. It is something they didn’t know how to do. Since they had been fishermen, Jesus would show them how to catch men. Jesus does this by having them follow him. Not just for an hour a week, but they would live with him full time.   
We look forward to the days when we can stop doing what we must do now. If we are in school, we look forward to being out of school and not having to learn anything. If we are working, we look forward to retirement when we will never have to work again. Actually, we always have to learn something, and we always have work, so we really never get out of those things. It just means we no longer get credit for learning and we no longer get paid for working. If we had realized that earlier, maybe we would have approached learning and work in a different way. If we no longer learn or work, we are setting limits on what we have available to us.
How do we get to be better people? Jesus says one person teaches another. In fact, the whole commission he gives his disciples is to go share the message of the gospel with others. If they don’t learn it, they don’t get the blessings. It is one person teaching another person how to follow God. We all start from different places, but we must learn and do what pleases God.
Sometimes we need to be encouraged. We get tired and we no longer feel that what we are doing is worthwhile. Do we just need to be encouraged to keep doing what we have been doing? Many times the encouragement needed is to do something better. We need to become a better person. We need to develop some different qualities. We need the encouragement for the challenge. It is not enough to do what we have always done. God is calling us to do something better. May we always be receptive to prayers and the call of God to be better people for him.
Friday, February 21, 2020


Ordinary Amazing

Some people have incredible ability that is God given. If we think about Noah building an Ark or Moses leading people through the desert for 40 years, we realize they were blessed by God. Sampson was incredibly strong but at the time when the spirit of the Lord came on him. God does have some super people that do great things, but it is because of God. He isn’t strong all the time, only when it was needed for God. When he isn’t doing something amazing for God, he is ordinary. Some people are ordinary and don’t have extra ability. They show up and are there at the right time and place and God works with them to deliver or bless. The timing and logistics of the ordinary are amazing also.
What is most impressive is how many of the people that do great things for God are just ordinary people. The disciples are not chosen for their skill and their quick learning ability. They are chosen because they are ordinary and can relate to other people. When Jesus comes, we are told there was nothing exceptional about his appearance. He appeared to be an ordinary person and maybe that is why so many had a difficult time seeing him as messiah.
When we think of ordinary people, we are a truly incredible creation. The creation of a circulatory system, a nervous system, a breathing system and the fact that much of the time we are self-healing it is not so ordinary. That we can pull oxygen our of the air and put it into our blood stream for it to bring it to our cells is staggering. And that every mother does that creation in every child that is born is truly ordinary. Ok, amazingly ordinary because it happened to all of us. What we do in a day with God working within us is amazing.
The fact that Jesus died on a cross to forgive our sin and save our soul is not ordinary. When we think of the mistakes that we have made, we feel less than ordinary. Our mistakes and sins bring us to our lowest point. When God forgives it brings us to our highest point. God’s recreation of who we are in him is amazing. When we are able to go from sin and darkness to light and love is incredible. When we combine our faith and spirits into being the people of God it is truly extraordinary.
Friday, February 14, 2020


Be in the Pictures

We see pictures of people all the time. They may be of a family reunion or just time when there was a party. Some are even stages and taken by professional photographers. We treasure those memories and put them in scrap books that we can look at years later. We post events on Facebook that shows all the happy people around us. Selfies are pictures we take of ourselves mainly to show where we were or who we are with. We are smiling and laughing and having a good time. If the picture doesn’t say that, we don’t use it and just take another one.
It is especially interesting to have pictures taken in difficult or dangerous places. Some of the are scary. We see people standing at the edge of a cliff or even hanging off the cliff. Some are not showing the ledge below and so the photo looks more dangerous than it really is. We don’t take pictures of us sitting at home bored. We don’t take pictures of us watching tv. Not even a picture of us reading a book. We don’t take pictures of us watching or hearing someone else’s story. We take pictures of our own story.
The Bible has word pictures of people. They are usually people of faith or people who overcame in a great struggle. We read of battles and miracles that are amazing. People who have been through extremely difficult situations and were finally delivered by God. We read of grace that was given to people and how they responded to the love of God and the touch of Jesus.
The pictures we take are of people who showed up. The stories we tell are about people who were there. The Bible talks about people who believed and acted. They spoke to others with the message of God rather than remaining silent. There are no pictures or stories of the people who stayed home. If we want to be in the story we need to be there. Even a selfie is when you went somewhere and did something. People of God are the people who act for him. The best-selling book in the world is about people who acted for God. We choose to be part of that story when we show up and act for him.
Friday, February 7, 2020


Leaders from God

God raises up leaders when he wants to do something with his people. When God does raise up a leader, it is usually because someone is in trouble. They are usually in captivity or some distress and they want deliverance, so they pray to God. When God answers their prayer, it is not always in the way they thought it should be answered.  The type of deliverance is not usually the same as the previous ones. God will send someone to deliver in a completely new way.
Often the leader God chooses to raise up is an ordinary person that is very unlikely. Their skill in leadership is not the major factor, it is the fact that God is raising them up. Sometimes they object and don’t think they are up to the task. That is no excuse with God, and he works with them until their faith is developed enough to see that God is in charge. Sometimes they don’t even fight the battle, they just need to pray and point people to God and watch as he arranges their deliverance.
Often the leader looks like the task that is needed. God takes people from very different places and can be with them and make them the great leader needed for the task at hand. That particular leader would not work in another situation. We would never think of Sampson and Jesus trading place. Sampson may be effective against Pharisees in a different way than Jesus, but it would not produce what God intended. Some are the leader that was needed at a certain place and time, but would not be effective at other times.
We may think our prayers should be answered the way we want. We want leaders to lead us like we want to be led. God may have a different idea. While it may be that God raises up a leader from the prayers of his people, his people must be willing to accept who he chooses. It is often someone ordinary who feels unworthy. The main thing we need to do is be ready to follow when God raises up a leader. God is always the real leader. When we follow him, and those he chooses to lead us, we will always find deliverance.
Friday, January 31, 2020


Growing Up in Him

When we first begin to follow Jesus, we realize how much he is doing for us. He wants a relationship with us that will allow us to have a relationship with God. Jesus is never the end of the journey where he wants to know us and only us. It is first a relationship with God where we are forgiven and redeemed so that we can approach God. Our past sins are taken away and we are made clean in him. Jesus also has a whole fellowship of those redeemed and forgiven where he wants us to be a part. It is not just a connection with Jesus without being part of everyone else.
When we become a Christian, we focus on that it means to be free from our sin, from our past and from anything that would keep us away from Jesus. It is all new to us and we need to learn the basics of how we are forgiven and redeemed. We become a new creature in Christ and we want to know what that looks like. What is expected of us as we take on the forgiveness of Jesus and realize it is a whole new fellowship of believers. Jesus is never an isolated relationship even when he was here on earth. There were 12 called disciples and usually many people who were following.
As we grow in Christ, we realize that part of what we do is still part of the same process. We understood Christ enough to begin the relationship but some of what we were taught doesn’t quite fit. Some of our assumptions about life and holiness fall short of the full understanding of God. Jesus is not just there to bring about salvation but also to bring maturity in Christ. Whether it is salvation or maturity there is one common goal of being pleasing to God.
The baby born in the family has a lot to contribute but it is not conversation, work, or money. They come with a tremendous amount of need but are accepted immediately into the family and all of the family understands this new person is part of us. Love is given and exchanged even if it is shown in some unusual ways. We expect and are proud when the child grows and can bring ideas, thoughts, love, joy, communication, and help to the family. Eventually the child grows enough where he is bringing in others to the family. He becomes older and wiser and the encourager of the younger ones as they grow. This process is important for the family. This process is important in Christ as we help those drawn to Jesus to realize their full fulfillment in Christ.
Friday, January 24, 2020


Building Relationships in Christ

We do things for other people all the time. Sometimes they ask us to do them, and sometimes we just know they need it so we just do it for them. Usually it is a surprise and is appreciated. We feel a sense of accomplishment when someone likes what we do for them. It makes us feel good that we could please them. It builds a bond between people when they can enjoy doing things for each other.
We can also do things for the friends of other people. We may not know them, but someone in the family knows them and so we are accepted based on that relationship. My parents had friends that became my friends. I knew the names when I was growing up, but I was too young to interact with them. I can remember driving to college and my parents telling me this person lived in a town I would be going through and I should spend the night there. It didn’t even seem like an odd request. My parents knew them, so I was immediately accepted without question. The relationship my parents had extended to me as well.
As we age, our ages get closer together. When we were eighteen the people who were thirty were old. We wouldn’t think of them as our friends. Years later that twelve-year gap doesn’t seem very big at all. We all have grandchildren and that becomes the life-stage where we connect. Relationships are developed over a lose past association, but they become intense friendships now. It is this development that is so essential in Christ.
We also connect in our relationship with God. We may hear of people who come from another town that worshiped and worked in a similar church. We may even know some people from there that we knew in other places. We may even be doing some of the same things, and that forms a connection. People who taught in one place are accepted in another place because of the work they did for Jesus. When we do something in the name of Jesus it caries weight. We form the Jesus connection with other people as well. People who teach studies or care for needs have an immediate connection in Jesus. It is these relationships formed in Jesus that allow us to grow together into the temple of God.
Friday, January 17, 2020