24

After years of hearing about the popular hit TV show, I finally gave in and sat down to begin watching “24” about a year ago via Netflix.  The series has received over 70 Emmy nominations during the course of 8 seasons, and has become one of the most popular and longest running TV shows of its kind.

Now, returning for a 9th season, many people are highly anticipating the next episode “24: Live Another Day.”  Opponents continue to criticize the show for its depiction of torture and extremist groups. Still, it continues to receive high praise among most, as it picks up just years after its eighth and “final” season.

In a plot where we know good always triumphs over evil, it’s practically impossible to see how former CTU agent Jack Bauer will be able to succeed against political corruption, terrorist plots, and a racing clock counting down a mere 24 hours.

I believe part of the success of the show is its suspense, but mostly because we want to see this one guy do everything it takes to follow his convictions, despite the pressure from peers, the government, and even his family at times to follow his morals.  We know that in the end, good will triumph over evil.

In our daily life, we are put in identical situations: political corruption, terrorist plots, and a clock counting down.  Ok, not really.  But we do encounter some similar pressures and have to make moral decisions in our daily life.

The catch? WE will NOT be the ones to go to all ends of the earth in order to achieve victory.  It’s already been laid out.  We can even read the story in Revelation.

God has designed the perfect plan – that even when exposed to war and ultimate corruption of the earth, the LORD will dominate with Good over evil. We don’t have to torture secret holding terrorists; we don’t have to fly a helicopter across town and infiltrate a building full of extremists; and we definitely won’t be sneaking into the Presidential retreat to coerce him to admit to his conspiracy with terrorists.

We are, however, part of God’s plan. While the LORD has laid out the final victory for us throughout the book of Revelation, we are living in an age that requires us to be living our life for Him, following God’s plan for our life, and spreading the Gospel.

Good will triumph over evil, but God wants us to be a part of His final victory, by being part of His present victory.  Go and Tell!

19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV)

Drones: Rated PG-14

Drones – The Movie, Rated: PG-14 – for “Pushy Government in 2014”

The government has been using drones for years, but mostly in military applications and border operations.  In the past few years the cost of drones has dropped, and law enforcement agencies have begun to use unmanned aircraft to spy over properties in an effort to better police the public in certain circumstances.

Recently, the use of drones without warrants has become a matter of public debate and outrage.  Similar to the manner in which the NSA collects data from telephones and the internet, the privacy of the American citizen continues to be challenged more and more as technology evolves.

The debate has reached the U.S. courts, and while some courts have ruled this “spying” as unconstitutional, others have held up the actions and allowed the use of drones without a warrant.

  • What do you think?
  • If it’s ok to spy in your backyard from the air, is it ok to spy in your windows?

 

That may be the next step.  Why do I bring this up? Your life is NOT private anymore!

As Americans, we believe we have a right to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of privacy.  However, these are only laws written by man. The truth is that:

“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of [God] to whom we must give account.”  (Hebrews 4:13 NIV)

“From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind; from His dwelling place He watches all who live on earth – He who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.” (Psalm 33: 13-15 NIV)

While we do have some unalienable rights as Americans, written into our constitution, we also have a right and duty to live as God would have us to live. Sure, I’m not any happier about how the government continues to insist they have more power than the citizens, but at the same time, I have a contractual right with God to behave (and obey) Him as His child. Maybe we should put as much effort into being His child and following His Commands and Great Commission that some people put into fighting the government.

 

Political Note: I do not believe the Government has half of the rights they have insisted to proclaim in the past few years, but WE the people elected those in office whether we like it or not.  If we don’t like it, then every one of us better vote next time.  In the meantime, remember what the Bible says about authorities: “1Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.” (Titus 3:1-2 NIV)

Move it along!

After watching a variety of news events from throughout the night, the title of “Move it Along” came to me. What happened next was my prayer to try and determine what God might want me to write about.

Soon, the passage came to me:

If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that house or town.  (Matthew 10:14 HCSB)

I started thinking about WHY this passage.  Then, I began thinking about Pastor Carter’s message this past Sunday on questions to ask when reading the Bible.  The main question that kept running through my head was “What is the Big Picture?”  What does God want me to get from this passage.  So, I had to go back to the story:

Jesus sent out these 12 [disciples] after giving them instructions: …. 6… go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, announce this: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those with skin diseases, drive out demons. You have received free of charge; give free of charge. Don’t take along gold, silver, or copper for your money-belts. 10 Don’t take a traveling bag for the road, or an extra shirt, sandals, or a walking stick, for the worker is worthy of his food.”

11 “When you enter any town or village, find out who is worthy, and stay there until you leave. 12 Greet a household when you enter it, 13 and if the household is worthy, let your peace be on it. But if it is unworthy, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that house or town. 15 I assure you: It will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.”

Each person may get a different Big Picture from this story.  My Big Picture continues to focus on the last section which directly emphasizes either being part of a house or village, or separation from a house or village. I believe, therefore, that when we find people willing to obey God, we are to fellowship with them, and share our blessings (peace) with them.  However, when we find people who are unwilling to obey God, then we are to separate ourselves from them.*

I believe this Big Picture follows teaching throughout the Bible of separating ourselves from sin.  When people don’t obey God, they are in sin, and our presence near that kind of behavior can negatively influence us. Therefore, we should flee from sin and those who don’t open themselves to the Truth of God.

As you live life, spend time with those who love Christ.  As you find people who continually deny Christ, Move It Along!

* NOTE:  Please understand that I am NOT saying that “we should not witness to the lost.”  On the contrary,  I totally agree with the Great Commission.  We MUST go into all nations and preach the Gospel.  In fact, the passage I listed above even quotes Jesus telling the disciples to “go to the LOST SHEEP” (emphasis mine).  But let’s not forget that while we are to share the Gospel in Love, we are not to associate with sin.  Therefore, it is our job to love others, tell them the truth about God, but also to shield ourselves from sin (our body is a temple where Jesus lives – 1 Cor 6:19-20).

 

Winter Weather Advisory

It’s not uncommon for the south to receive Winter Weather Advisories.  Of course, schools have already been closed in preparation for the event, allowing parents adequate time to have contingency plans for a babysitter or daycare, should the parents attempt to go to work.

However, for the snow to actually fall in a manner that the weathermen predict can be quite unusual.  Today, the Atlanta forecast is for about 1-2″ of snow, which is predicted to come in between 9-11 am. Because the temperatures won’t rise anytime this evening, the news is predicting that poor road conditions may last up to 24 hours or more.  Normally, during such events, the roads will be closed to help prevent accidents and loss of life.

If you do decide to venture out today, I hope you will be careful.  Winter driving can be quite tricky, especially if you are not accustomed to driving in snow. Roads that appear safe may have layers of ice underneath the snow and cause your car to slide or drift to one side of the road or the other.  Likewise, the beauty of the snow can be distracting visually.  I pray that you use extreme caution IF you must leave your house in such weather.

Likewise, driving down the road of life can also be quite tricky.  It is easy to begin to slide off the road to righteousness.

Jesus described the path to Heaven as a narrow gate:

13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. 14 How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14 HCSB)

In my opinion, He was not describing that Salvation is hard, but that following Jesus can be a tough road to follow – not in the sense that it is a hard decision, but in the sense that there are many distractions that can lead us astray throughout our life.  There are many worldly items that can cause us to slip and slide from our heart’s desire to do right.

As we venture down the road of life, we need to be aware of the dangerous items that can lead us astray.

When we go on a road trip, we generally recon a route, or utilize a GPS (or map) to find our way to new locations. In the same manner, we should this with life.

  • To do this, it is important to study the Bible daily, so that we know the path of righteousness.
  • Likewise, we should be in prayer concerning our decisions as we come to crossroads in life to aid us in choosing the right direction to turn.

I pray today that each of us will be physically careful while driving on today’s wintery roads, but I will also continue to pray for each of you that you drive cautiously down the road of life.

Take a tour

toursThis morning in my hotel, I noticed a group of literature advertising local tours and attractions.

From Rock City to Coca-Cola, Zoo Atlanta to Legoland, even unlikely Vampire tours, the Atlanta area offers a variety of tours for almost any tourist.

But what it doesn’t offer is a view into Heaven.  We do have some glimpses into Heaven from the Bible, mostly in Revelation 4 and 21, from John’s perspective.

Before I begin, let’s remember that Revelation is a prophetic book (that means that the things described have not yet fully occurred, although they will, and are slowly coming to fruition).  Let’s also note that Revelation, while still true in nature, has numerous references to figurative imagery, as John could not describe in human terms what he saw in a divine place. For example, when John describes the four horsemen in Revelation 6 (during the opening of the first 4 Seal judgments), we don’t know if these four horsemen are riding literal horses, or figurative horses.  On that note, I believe that John did his best to describe in human terms what he saw. I also believe that the true essence and beauty of Heaven can only be envisioned by the human heart, and not through our minds.

However, we do have some descriptions, which even in human words, are extremely beautiful.  I’d like to share some of those passages with you today:

Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. (Revelation 4:2-4 NKJV)

In Revelation 21, we find a glimpse of the new Heaven:

10 … the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. 12 Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: 13 three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west.

14 Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 15 And he who talked with me had a gold reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. 16 The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs. Its length, breadth, and height are equal. 17 Then he measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel. 18 The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

22 But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. 24 And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. 25 Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). 26 And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. 27 But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. (Revelation 21:10-27 NKJV)

Just think . . . some day, Christians all over will be able to experience the true radiant beauty that Jesus is preparing for us.

TGIF

TGIF – Thank God It’s Friday! That’s a common phrase heard at businesses all over the US, and probably even abroad. We get so beat down at work each day that by Friday, we are really thankful that the weekend is upon us.

Is this how God intended life? I would suggest the answer is NO.  In Genesis, Adam is given the host of the ground and all the animals for food and life.

But, by chapter 3, we discover that man has already fallen into the temptation of sin, and now God must punish man for his sinful nature.  In Genesis 3:17-19, we find that the ground is now cursed “because of [sin]….  It will produce thorns and thistles for [us]….  By the sweat of [our] brow….”

So, what should we do now?  I think the answer can be found in Psalms.  Throughout this book, we find David and others pleading to the Lord for answers.  And what I find is that throughout the book, we also find unending praises to the Lord.  

We shouldn’t let “the world” get to us.  When we are down on life, we need to remember that God loves us and He created us for a purpose.  We have a decision to make: will we let the world (and our bosses or jobs) get to us? Or will we praise the Lord for what He has done, what He IS doing, and what He has promised for our future?

Psalm 144:1-2 “Praise be to the LORD my Rock…. He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.”

Psalm 145:1-2 “I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever.”

Psalm 146:1-2 “Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, my soul. I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.”

On priorities

Dating: for singles, the concept is normal. However, for married couples, the concept may be a little unfamiliar.  In fact, I don’t remember the last time my wife and I dated. We tried, unsuccessfully, last fall. However, after much coaxing, my wife has convinced me to go out with her again. Now that’s the wrong way for things to work!

Actually, we have been so busy with moving, homeschool, church, fixing up the house . . . you name it!

Wait, those are just excuses! We are all adults here, right? That means WE have the choice where we set our priorities and what we do with our time. We just CHOOSE to “say” that we must do something else. In reality, all of us have to make decisions about what we spend our time doing.

Unfortunately that’s the way church is sometimes. We don’t have “time” to teach Sunday School, go on mission trips, or minister in the local community. In reality, these are choices we consciously make.

Hey, I’m not trying to step on toes – I am guilty of not prioritizing very well also. Sure there are things that must be done (like paying bills), but other items not done around the house won’t cause us to wind up in jail if we take a few moments to spend with our children playing, with our wives on a date, or at church serving a need.

Jesus said that:

“…a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, 8and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Mark 10:7-9 ESV)

Note, it does not say that busyness is an exception for allowing a man and wife to separate. It does not say that kids’ sports or activities, house clutter, work, or other time consuming task is an acceptable excuse.  It says that the two are one; and if two are one, then they better spend time becoming ONE, not TWO again.

And for us men out there, a reminder about Jesus’ teaching on how to love:

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25 ESV)

Now, if we think about HOW Christ loved the church, He gave His life for it.  Thus, we are to give our lives for that of our wives.

That being said, it is time to do just that! The best way I have learned to give my life to my wife is spending time with her.  Therefore, date night is upon us!

Kimberly, will you go out with me tomorrow night? (I hope she says YES, this is posted in a public domain!)

I don’t want to step on toes!

As I adapt to my new position at work, I have begun to take on new responsibilities.  However, as the “new guy,” I am sometimes concerned that I might step on someone’s toes if I stray into their area of expertise without consulting them first.

Sometimes, we can have a similar concern when witnessing to others about Christ.  We may think “I don’t know what their religious beliefs are, and I don’t want to offend them.” Let’s see if this is a valid concern….

Jesus came to earth to give His life for ours, but also came to give us an example. He stepped on people’s toes.  You can read in Matthew 15:3-9 where Jesus resisted the Pharisees’ about their improper teaching of the commandments.  In Mark 11:15-17, Jesus furiously overturned tables in the temple. When it came to religious leaders, Jesus was harsh and unbridled! However, when it came to non-believers, Jesus took a different approach.

A popular story that many people know is the story of the Samaritan woman at the well.  Let’s take a look at that story. Before we begin, remember that Jesus knows all. He knows our hearts, even that of this sinful woman.  Yet, he still reached out to her:

. . . Jesus, tired as He was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (John 4:6-7 NIV)

The story continues with a dialogue about drinking water and Living water.

However, note what happens near the end – after Jesus shares the truth with her about Living water.

15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” (John 4:15 NIV)

Note that upon receiving the truth, she is convicted, and wants to know more.

16 [Jesus] told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

17 “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” (John 4:16-18 NIV)

Jesus questions her again, and the truth is revealed about her sin. But notice, Jesus is NOT the one that opens her eyes to the sin; He allows her to be convicted upon her verbal admission.  He only confirms her faults once she has already seen them.

Because Jesus was willing to accept her as she was, without concern for her past, He was able to approach her with love.   And because of this approach, we find out later that “39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in [Jesus] because of the woman’s testimony” (John 4:39 NIV)

When approaching somebody for Christ, are you speaking the truth in love or are you stepping on their toes? I believe there is a fine line.  Pray that God will give you the right opportunity and the right words to witness for Him, without stepping on toes.

Time to Reboot!

Almost all of us use computers. Whether a desktop, laptop, or even your smartphone, technology today is all around us. We can’t get away from it!

The first personal computers came out in the mid 80’s (I actually remember my first “286” – it had two 3.5”floppy drives, and 6 disks to run Microsoft Word – an upgrade from the former 5.25” floppies).

Today, computers are smaller, faster, and smarter.  Unfortunately, they still have issues.  In fact, when you call the “help desk” at most companies, or a tech support line, one of the first questions they ask you is “did you try to reboot it?”

But, WHY?  Techno geeks describe this reboot process as giving the computer a chance to clean its memory.  Software of all types have “memory leaks.” These leaks cause programs to fail, temp files to be written, and software looping that may cause a computer to overload and freeze.

Rebooting a computer allows the memory to be cleared, the temp files to be deleted, and a variety of diagnostic checks to run during start-up that automatically fixes many of the errors going on in the background.

Interesting that 30 years after the introduction of the personal computer, we still do this simple solutionto fix over 90% of computer problems called-in to tech support hotlines today.

What is more interesting is that another simple solution fixes 100% of human’s problems today, and that’s been happening for well over 2000 years.

Jesus came to earth around 0 A.D. to give His life so that we can be made 100% perfect and righteous in God’s eyes.  No reboot required!

Well, unless you consider the day you were Saved. Sure, I had memory leaks, and a lot of baggage before I came to know the Lord. Then, He turned my life around. He didn’t reboot me, but He gave me the gift of being born again of the Spirit.

Jesus said:

3 “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except one be born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

4 Nicodemus saith unto Him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?

5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except one be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God!

6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (John 3:3-6 ASV)

For non-believers, this passage may reflect their understanding of God. They don’t get it.How can one be born again? Simply put, Jesus was saying that if you believe in God, and trust Him as your Lord and Savior, then you have been re-born. You have committed your life not to earth and family, but to the Spirit of God.

Later in the passage, Jesus said:

16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have eternal life.

17 For God sent not the Son into the world to judge the world; but that the world should be saved through Him. (John 3:16-17 ASV)

Again, for non-believers, this is a little hard to understand. One has to have faith to believe that God can Save you. But once you trust in Him, you will see the truth much better.

What I didn’t tell you earlier about computers is that although we know rebooting does help solve these issues, we still don’t know all the reasons of how and why rebooting works. It just does!  Just like with God – we don’t understand WHY He would give His life for ours, but He did; and it works.  Believe in Him today, and have everlasting life!

 

Some admin items about this post and others:

First, a bonus for those IS geeks out there– a joke:

There are only 10 types of people in this world: those who get binary code, and those that don’t.

Second, thanks to Gary for the idea of “reboot,” and to your family for hosting us for dinner!  We had a great time!

Share this reboot story with a friend! (I do my best to write all original work – documenting when appropriate. If you ever want to use a story to help a friend or in devotion, please feel free to do so. Although my work is copyrighted, it is available for your personal use in ministry, as long as proceeds are not being collected.) Thanks for reading! 

Oops, I did it again

Ok, sorry for the title, I know that it probably isn’t proper to bring that subject up. 

But it’s true for me, I did it again.  What? Well…, yesterday, as many of you loyal readers know, I missed a day of blogging.  My apologies!

But there is good news!  Despite the fact that I did make a mistake, I have already repented and asked for forgiveness from God.  Maybe I have taken this forgiveness thing overboard, just maybe.

Months ago when I restarted this blog, I committed to blogging 5 days a week (Monday-Friday), because those are the days that I feel that we (as Christians) need an extra boost, or motivation for the workday. And then, here I go, and miss a day.  Sorry!

The good news is that God is a God of forgiveness.  He knows we are going to make mistakes.  He knows before we do it. And He is waiting to forgive us. 

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  (1 John 1:9 ESV)

Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out (Acts 3:19 ESV)

I could list over a dozen more verses, but you get the point.  God loves me. He loves you. And He is willing to forgive us no matter how many times we make a mistake. 

Thank you God for forgiving me of all of my sins.  You SAVED me.  I owe my life to you.

Years ago, Kimberly bought me a ring just because. I don’t think she knew how special that ring would become to me. I love what it says:

He died for me, I live for Him

That’s why I blog. It’s for Him. Those of you that read this are just a special gift that God gave me because I blog. Thanks for reading; and I am truly sorry I missed yesterday.