Groundhog Day

feb2I’m not someone who dwells on movies. In fact, I often forget movies that I’ve seen. This is actually a good thing, because I can watch the same movie over and over again, wondering how good is going to win over evil. But there’s one movie that I remember better than some others: Groundhog Day. I’m sure that it must be because of the repetition of the movie over and over and over and over again (although honestly, I do forget how it ends. 🙂

But the movie Groundhog Day and its plot make me think about our lives in Christ. You see, every day I believe Christ is looking down upon us, watching our every move, and He knows exactly what is going to happen, day after day. Unfortunately for many of us, including myself, we’re going to sin. God knows it. And it’s not that He’s waiting for it to happen. Instead, I believe He is waiting for us to ask forgiveness for it. You see, He’s so forgiving, that although He knows how the story will unfold (that we may sin again tomorrow), He loves us so much that it doesn’t matter today.

He is a loving God, a forgiving God, and a merciFULL God. His grace is unending.

We may wake up every day to the same routine, attempting to do right. But I know that in my life, my intentions are many times only that: intentions. I still fail, but because God loves me and forgives me, He picks me up, brushes off the bad, and helps mold me into the person He wants me to be.

Thank you God for playing such a big part of my life, even though many times I put you behind the scenes in the movie called “my life.” I pray that you will help me help others see You through me.

The First Stone

So many times in my life I feel guilty for being the guy who (not intentionally) chooses to cast the first stone. I almost feel it is my “responsibility” to correct other’s inexcusable wrong doings. I just can’t seem to stop it.
In John 8, we find that many people approached Jesus about a woman caught in the act of adultery. They knew she was wrong, guilty of breaking the law; and she should be punished.

As most all of you know, Jesus’ response was not what the crowd had expected. Although they stated that the Law of Moses commanded that she should be stoned, Jesus instead showed empathy to the woman, and rebuked the crowd stating:

“He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” (John 8:7)

Jesus was not merely sympathizing with the woman and contesting the crowd to defend her. Instead, He was reminding us that we must not judge others. We find that this was not the first time that Jesus chose to teach on judging others. In fact, He himself mentioned “I judge no one” (John 8:15). He spoke this, I believe, to remind us that we have the opportunity to be made righteous. We can be forgiven, and forgiveness is a TOTAL pardon for all sin. It’s not just compassion for the moment followed by a minor reprimand, but a TOTAL utter obliteration of our past mistakes.

That’s how Jesus comes to us – willing to forgive EVERYTHING. There remains no portion of punishment due to us, because He grants unending mercy to those who come to Him.

He said “Neither do I condemn you” (John 8:11a). He released her from the entire sin. Isn’t it nice to know that Jesus doesn’t hold grudges? It’s a total release of all things past.

For the future, He desires us to change and live right. “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11b).

I think that’s His challenge to us every day. I believe that He wants us to think “sin no more” – for He cannot be around sin, and He desires to be with us.

Day 1

Have you approached Day 1 yet?

“I wish I had a short term memory
Wish the only thing my eyes could see
Was the future burning bright in front of me,
But I can’t stop looking back”

In Matthew West’s “Day One,” he describes a sinner’s view of the world in which he is convicted of past transgressions. As Christian’s we can feel guilty of what happened yesterday.

“Well, every single day Your grace reminds me
That my best days are not behind me
Wherever my yesterday may find me
Well, I don’t have to stay there”

God’s grace and Jesus’ sacrifice provides a redemptive gift that erases all of our past offenses. We don’t have to live in the past, but can now live in the future.

“It’s day one of the rest of my life
I’m marching on to the beat of a bran new drum
Yeah, here I come
The future has begun
Day One.”

Click HERE to listen to “Day One”<click HERE>

1 John 1:9a – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us.”
Hebrews 10:17 – “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds NO MORE.” (emphasis mine)

*Lyrics from Matthew West’s “Day One”

Would you be willing…

Little Timothy had experienced some tough times in his life, most recently overcoming a rare blood disorder. Afterward, his body began reproducing effective antibodies against the virus.

Unfortunately now, his little sister Susie began developing the same rare virus in her blood, but her body was unable to recover. The doctors knew the only hope for her was a blood transfusion.

With a match to his sister’s blood type, the doctor’s approached Timothy. “Would you be willing to give your blood to help your sister overcome the virus?” they asked Timothy. As his bottom lip began to quiver, he cautiously, yet willingly said “yes.”

Later in the operating room, little Timothy was courageous as the doctor’s hooked up multiple tubes and monitors in preparation to transfer some of Timothy’s blood to Susie.

As the blood began to move through the tubes out of Timothy’s arm, Timothy looked at the doctor and asked “When am I going to die?”

Surprised at the question, the doctor realized at that point that Timothy believed he was giving up his life in order to save his little sister.*

Just over 2000 years ago the same event happened as Jesus hung upon the cross. The blood flowed from His body in order to save our lives. The difference is that nobody ever asked Jesus to do it for us. Instead, He willingly accepted God the Father’s plan for His life and gave His life for ours.

The only question remains is – are you willing to accept the life He gave so that you may have eternal life? That’s what Easter is about.

*Paraphrased from @ Lifeway Sunday School Literature March 29, 2015

God misses YOU!

God misses you! How do I know?

As a parent, you too may have experienced the love that can only be enjoyed when a child is in your arms. Unfortunately today, my child was “too busy” for me, and I didn’t get my normal dose of cuddling, loving, and hugging that I’m used to. And now I feel a hole where Wesley’s love has always filled my heart. I know he still loves me, and I still love him. But today, that little area reserved for him is just a little empty.

I think that God, too, feels that way sometimes when we fail to spend time with Him. We get busy and wrapped up in our lives that we either miss church, fail to pray like we should, or simply don’t spend time with Him reading our Bible and reflecting on His words.

When we veer away from God, our life begins filling with sin. We begin to be tempted more and more every day, every hour, every minute, and every second. And when we stray from God, it’s harder and harder to return. Maybe it’s because we feel guilty because of our sin, or simple disobedience. However…

Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! … Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. – Romans 7:25-8:1

See, it simply doesn’t matter where we are, where we’ve been, or where we think we’re going. God is still there, providing a way for us to return to Him. Just like me: as a parent, I’m holding out open arms, waiting for the next moment Wesley realizes that he needs me. He’ll return to my arms, and I’ll lavish my love on him like every day before today. Yet God has so much more love to give than I could ever imagine. All we have to do is return to His arms. Will you return to Him today and give Him your love?

How can it be?

In the story at the Mount of Olives (John 8:1-11), the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught committing adultery to Jesus. The Pharisees declared that the law of Moses permitted them to stone the woman for her blatant sin. Jesus, seemingly perturbed by their ignorance of the true meaning behind the law, simply ignored their request until they demanded a response.

Finally, Jesus replied that any man that was free from sin was free to stone the woman. We all know that after a few moments, not one of the accusers remained behind. None were free of sin, nor capable of accusing someone else; when they too were guilty of other sins.

. . .

The only person that remained with the woman was Jesus, free of a life from sin. Jesus had the right…, maybe even the responsibility, to accuse her, and even stone her.

I can only imagine her sense of guilt at 1) being caught, 2) being accused before Almighty God, and 3) awaiting her punishment.

As she stood there looking at Jesus, He, unlike the others, rose above them and did not condemn her. Instead, He told her “Go and sin no more.”

I’m sure that the look on her face, and the thoughts in her head had to be something like “How can it be?”<click HERE>

Perhaps she would have said ‘I am undeniably guilty, yet you have forgiven me. Not only forgiven, but shown love to me.’

This song by Lauren Daigle describes the same feeling that we may feel when we realize that Jesus did the same for us when He saved us.

Short and Sweet

Psalm 67

May God be gracious to us and bless us
    and make his face shine on us—
so that your ways may be known on earth,
    your salvation among all nations.

May the peoples praise you, God;
    may all the peoples praise you.
May the nations be glad and sing for joy,
    for you rule the peoples with equity
    and guide the nations of the earth.
May the peoples praise you, God;
    may all the peoples praise you.

The land yields its harvest;
    God, our God, blesses us.
May God bless us still,
    so that all the ends of the earth will fear him.

Whoever the author and whatever the cause, this Psalm is a simple plea to God and us for 2 things:

1)      For God to bless and be gracious to us

We need to remember, however, that God owes us nothing, and it is only because of His love that can receive His blessings and forgiveness

2)      For us to praise and fear God

We also need to remember that we owe EVERYTHING to God. We should praise Him for all things. And when it comes to “fearing” God, it doesn’t mean to be afraid in a bad way, but to revere God and hold Him up with honor and indebtedness for what He has done for us.

Ouch! a splinter

During the last couple months, I have been working in my basement, running electricity, and putting up non-load supporting walls. The electricity has taught me to respect power again as I tie-in to live circuits and sub-panels. While I haven’t gotten hurt, I could easily make a bad decision and electrocute myself. But I’m not here today to talk about power or death. If I was, I would discuss the power of God and how He provides an eternal life for us.

Today, I want to talk about 2x4s. I’ve been putting up extra walls that aren’t load bearing, but are required to finish the final design that I’ve mapped for our basement. While working with 2x4s, I manage to get a splinter in my hands every time because I refuse to wear gloves when working.

If only I would take the time to wear the proper protective equipment, I’d eliminate the pain and ultimate fishing out of splinters from my hands. And that’s when it hit me….

Jesus said “first take the plank out of your own eye, then you will see clearly to remove the chip from your brother’s eye.” – Matthew 7:5

It seems that every day I can find myself judging someone else. But if truth be told, I probably have more issues in my life than others have in theirs.

I need to be wearing protective gear every day in my life. And although that seems rather ridiculous at first, it makes sense. I need to be putting on the Armor of God (Ephesians 6):

  • The Belt of Truth
  • The Breastplate of Righteousness
  • Gospel of Peace
  • Shield of Faith
  • Helmet of Salvation
  • Sword of the Spirit (Word of God)

Think about it – If I donned these every day, I don’t believe I would be judging others, but looking to God to see how better to fight against evil.

I’m back!

Welcome back to FollowinGod.com! Although the transformation continues, I am back on-line, and here is a timely topic:

Why is it called “Good Friday?” In Germany, it’s called Sorrowful Friday.

Some rumors abound that Good Friday evolved from “God’s Friday.” Other people insist that sometime years ago “Holy” was translated as “good” therefore Good Friday, not Holy Friday.

Despite the reasons, Good Friday is every Christian’s celebration of the most important weekend in all of history (and His Story). It celebrates that we believe Jesus died, and rose again – conquering death, and according to the Scriptures

. . . Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Cor 15:3b-4 NIV)

Jesus willingly gave His life, suffering persecution, anguish, grueling beatings, and an agonizing death that He didn’t deserve, all for you and me, and not for any other reason. Yet, while all of His love for us was demonstrated during this unbearable event, it is followed by a more glorious rising to life on Easter morning when Jesus proved victory over sin and death, pointing to a future resurrection that we, who are united with Him in faith, will experience.

For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we will certainly also be united with Him in a resurrection like His. (Romans 6:5 NIV)

So, regardless what the world calls Good Friday, we can celebrate the culmination of God’s plan to save us through Jesus during this wonderful weekend.

 

On Sunday morning, most of us will celebrate Easter with our children with baskets filled with candy and other goodies, but let’s not forget to make sure that we spend time telling our future generations what Easter is really about.

Do unto others . . . ?

Today as I read from Genesis 20, I kept thinking back to Pastor Carter’s teaching during Boot Camp when he said “when you read the Bible, try to interpret the Big Picture.”

Most people know the story of Abraham when he came into Gerar, and told the foreigners that Sarah, his wife, was really his sister. Abimelech, king of Gerar, then sent for Sarah.

During the night, God came to Abimelech and warned him not to take Sarah, “for she is a man’s wife” (Genesis 20:3 ESV). At this point in the story (because he was unaware of his sin against Abraham and Sarah), Abimelech first begs for mercy from God,

In the morning, as Abimelech told his servants the truth of Sarah, the men became afraid.

Abimelech called for Abraham, returned Sarah to him, then questioned Abraham’s motives for giving her away.

At this point in the story, I get caught up in the variety of emotions that befell the king.  Abimelech found favor in Sarah, pleads with God for mercy, fears his looming sin, then probes Abraham for answers.

What follows this, I declare to be the big picture.

Even though Abimelech has gone through a night of misfortune, distress, or whatever you call it, he calls Abraham and says “My land is before you; live wherever you like” and he gives Abraham sheep, cattle, slaves, and 1,000 shekels of silver.

Wow – a man (Abimelech) that almost sinned, due to no clear fault of his own, goes back to the man (Abraham) who honestly created the environment for the king to stumble, and offers him a fortune.

What can we learn from this?  Forgiveness….  Love….  Obedience….