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June 28

Tuesday, June 28th, 2022

After I finished Revelation and my analysis of it (It started with the April 18th post), I did what I always do. I started reading the NT again, beginning with Matthew 1. It will be a challenge to finish it on or close to December 31. I am now in Matthew 23. This will be my first of two posts from that chapter.

Matthew 23: 1-12

My first inclination was to comment on the “do as I say not as I do” scenario we find ourselves in as Jesus confronts the Pharisees with their hypocritical double standards. But as I read further with that thought in mind, I came to these words in verses 10-12: “And do not be called leaders, for only One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest of you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.”

Jesus is the Leader. My leader. The logical conclusion to that statement might look like this:

  • Jesus is the Leader.
  • Jesus is Greater than me.
  • Therefore, I am to be His servant.

Being a servant sounds simple, but it isn’t. It requires a dose of humility (for some of us more than a small one). It requires the willingness to raise others up and put myself down (not in false humility). My purpose is to make His Name great.

The Pharisees didn’t do that. They couldn’t! They were too busy promoting themselves and their own self-righteousness. That’s the whole gist of verses 4-7. Self-promotion can never promote the great Name of Jesus. Self-promotion can never honor, exalt, magnify, glorify and make great the Name of Jesus.

We are to live for the fame of His Name. I/we cannot do that when we are clamoring for the microphone.

MAKE GREAT HIS NAME!!

June 27

Monday, June 27th, 2022

A recent Our Daily Bread devotion (June 26) told the story of a dog whose owner broke his ankle and was using crutches to walk. Soon the dog began to hobble as well. He took the dog to the vet worrying that something was wrong, but the vet said there was nothing with him. He romped and played like all dogs until he was with his owner. That’s when he walked with a limp. I guess you could say the dog was trying to identify with his owner. 🙂

I heard some sad news yesterday. As this lady told me the news, all I could do was hold her and let her cry. NO words were needed. None were necessary to be said. They would have been a drippy faucet-annoying and serving no good. After she got herself together, we talked.

I’m a fixer. I want to fix people’s problems.

But I can’t.

That’s not my job. That’s not in my “pay grade.”

That job belongs to the only ONE who can fix it. Someone has said, “When someone is broken, don’t try to fix them. (You can’t.) When someone is hurting, don’t attempt to take away their pain. (You can’t.) Instead, love them by walking beside them in the hurt. (You can.) Because sometimes what people need is simply to know they aren’t alone.”

All those are true. For me. For you. What I did offer was that I-and the church-would walk alongside her through it all. She needs to know that more than anything right now.

Be someone’s “come along” as you come along side someone who is hurting. Don’t try to fix. Just be.

June 23

Thursday, June 23rd, 2022

This a statement I really don’t have to back up with facts or Google. Ever since I did my recent posts on Revelation, and since I am currently reading one with a focus toward January of 2023, I am acutely aware of the cults that have started because of an inordinate belief in the coming of Christ. Not that I don’t believe in His imminent return. I do. But I’m speaking of those “leaders” who pull people around them, somehow convince them of the hype, and then get them to sell everything and “run to the hills” waiting for Jesus’ return (which is usually on a certain date). Hucksters all of them; blind sheep the rest of them. They wait and wait and wait, walk away dejected, in disbelief, and a whole lot poorer than before (except the leader). They were conned by a con.

No matter how sincere, you can be sincerely wrong.

Jesus is returning, of that I am sure. My view of how, why, when, etc may differ from others, but He is returning.   I know three things about Jesus’ return which we must all remember:

1. Jesus made it clear there will be an end. All things will end. Jesus once said, “Heaven and earth will pass away but My Word will never pass away.”

2. Jesus made it clear the “when” is a mystery. It never ceases to amaze me how religious leaders say, “This is the date” (can anyone say Jehovah’s Witness?) and people will blindly follow, but Jesus Himself did not even know!

3. The Book of Revelation continually reminds us that when (not if) it happens, we must be ready. Mt. 24:42-25:13 backs that up. Life will be going on as normal when it happens. The Parable of the Ten Virgins show this in graphic detail how some will be ready and others won’t.

The ultimate question is not when or if He will come. The main question is Will you be ready when He does?

“Father, help me not to a ‘sign-seeker’ but to be one who keeps his eyes to the sky waiting and expecting Jesus to come.”

June 22

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022

Down through time, there has always been hot button issues. Slavery. Child labor. Corporate greed. Fundamentalism. Segregation. Abortion. Sex outside marriage. Drugs. Rock ‘n Roll. Same sex relationships. I’m sure you can name a number of others, even more important to you than the above. But all the hot button issues usually come down to one word:

SIN

Invariably, when a hot button takes front and center, the others take a back seat or are simply glossed over for a time. “Let’s focus on this one” we say, and as we do another steps aside or is simply put on the back burner. Take today, for example. Because of appalling breech in the privacy of the Supreme Court by the leak of a draft about Roe v. Wade, people protest, fire-bomb, hang in effigy, and even try to assassinate one of a justices. Meanwhile, the real moral issue-not social issue-moral issue of abortion is laid aside. “Who cares what the Bible says about life and dignity.” Come to think of it the whole same sex discussion is the same.

When we do those things we forget sin is sin, and it is all an affront to God. Abortion. Same sex relationships. Anger. Lust. Gluttony. Blasphemy.

All sin. And all sin we are to abhor, or “detest” as the NASB2020 translates Romans 12:9. “Abhor/detest what is evil. None of us can look in the mirror on any given day and say, “You did not sin today.” If you can, please tell me your secret!

Read again Romans 12:9: “Love must be free from hypocrisy (Love must be genuine in some translations). Detest (abhor) what is evil; cling to what is good.”  (NASB)

Let’s just start hating sin. Period. In all its sizes, shapes, and colors.

June 21

Tuesday, June 21st, 2022

This past Sunday, as part of the Father’s Cay special the church had, one of the men used the father with the demon-possessed son. You can find his story in Mt. 17 and also in Mk. 9. It is the Mark 9 passage which is actually fuller with information and I’d like to use that one.

As Jesus, Peter, James and John made their way down from the Mount of Transfiguration, they were met by a swarm of people. Front and center was a father whose son was demon-possessed. He had begged and pleaded with the disciples to heal his son-to cast out the demon-but they were unable to. So the father tells Jesus what has been happening. Putting aside Jesus’ words about the faithlessness of the others, the father brings his son to Jesus and about that time the demon throws him on the ground and into convulsions. The conversation next is my point:

Jesus: “How long has this been happening?”

Father: “From childhood.”

Father: “But if you can do anything…” (emphasis mine)

Jesus: “IF? All things are possible to those who believe.”

Father: “I believe. Help my unbelief.”

Jesus heals his son.

Notice the exchange? “If?”  “I believe. Help my unbelief.”

That father is me sometimes. There are occasions when I bring very little faith to the table. I’m barely holding on. But He is willing to take what little faith I have and make it greater. I have often said, “He takes my #2 faith and make is a #8 or a #10 faith.”

Jesus builds faith; He doesn’t tear it down. If there is any tearing down, it is to tear down our self-sufficient “faith” and build a kingdom faith.

May your (and my) faith increase.

 

June 20

Monday, June 20th, 2022

Surgery was a success so the doc says. It is 6 days in and in my mind the jury is still out. I know part of it is being a man. You know…I want healed yesterday. I want to feel better yesterday. I want to be able to ride my bike yesterday. But with him having to do more than he thought, this is to be expected.

Except in my mind.

I had visions of my last back surgery. The removal of a bone fragment on a nerve brought instant relief!! Maybe too instant in my mind. Not this time. It is going to take some time for my spine and legs to function normally.

That reminds me of today’s verse from Proverbs which I highlighted: “A man’s steps are ordained by the Lord; how then can a person understand his way?” (20:24 NASB20202)

Exactly! I have in my mind the way things ought to go or to be. God has something different in mind. The reality is that He will reveal His ways and His thoughts when it is His time. Not mine.

The lesson about my back is mine. The lesson from the Book and from the Father is God’s timing is right and true and will prevail. My steps are ordered by Him and I cannot know His way or timing.

“Father, help me to trust You. Help me know and trust that Your timing is always perfect.”

June 14

Tuesday, June 14th, 2022

Today is surgery day for me. Worried? No. I slept well last night until my back said, “Get up.” (2:30). I had planned on getting up at 3:00 anyway so that constitutes a pretty good night of sleep. Weird dreams but… 🙂 I know I am in good hands.

A couple of days ago I listened to a podcast where the lady pastrix (as she is called and I reject) preached recently that Jesus messed up. Messed up is my interpretation of the phrase she used, one I refuse to use because in my mind is sounds so vulgar. She said, “Jesus scr***d up.” Just typing that gives me the whillies.

Say what? Jesus messed up?

Yep, she used the story of the Canaanite woman in Mt. 15: 23-28 to say, “Jesus scr***d up.” Not only that she compounded the blasphemy by saying Jesus called her a (female dog).

How disgusting! She ought to be fired from her pulpit (which she should never be in to start with) and silenced from speaking such blasphemous words. This story does not show what she says but it shows Jesus in a heightened awareness of the need of a woman who acknowledged Him as Lord (verse 27)

My God, my Jesus, does not mess up! He is good, and holy, and righteous, and pure. Mess up (or the equivalent vulgar term) is not in his wheelhouse and is certainly not true.

Does He act and do differently than I want? Sometimes, yes. For sure, He is God and I am not. He can do as He pleases, but He most certainly makes no mistakes. N.O.N.E.

“Father, the Canaanite woman came seeking healing for her demon-possessed daughter. She most certainly did not come to be put down and made to feel unclean. She persisted in her approach and showed great faith according to Jesus. May I always trust You as the one who does all things good.”

By the way, if you would like to hear this podcast, you can find it on Spotify (or wherever you might listen to podcasts) or even YouTube. It is Pirated Christian Radio featuring Chris Roseborough.  It is F4F/ELCA Pastrix claims Jesus Screwed (there’s that word again) Up.

June 13

Monday, June 13th, 2022

As I write this today, I am keenly aware of what tomorrow will bring. Well, at least on the surface. As I understand it, tomorrow’s surgery will require drilling through 3 vertebrae to free up space for the nerves. (Simplified version). Like any surgery, things can go awry.

But I’m at peace.

I trust my doctor, who I found out during my consult is a Christ-follower. More: I trust the One who will guide His hands.

As I saw down to read for my Encounter Time this morning, God lead me to Psalm 31 due to reading something which piqued my interest. I decided to read the whole psalm. I’ve read it before-countless times-even underlined verses, but I paid closer attention this time. This chapter is filled with good stuff. Before I highlight a few things, please take a moment to read the chapter.

Okay…here are a couple of nuggets:

  • David is in distress. I think verse 1 shows that.
  • In his distress, David knows where to go, Whom to trust. (Verses 1c-5). I particularly like verse 5. Sounds strangely like words Someone else used (on a cross).
  • David trusted in God’s faithfulness. He knew he was weak. He even says he was in misery and had troubles (verse 7), but God set Him in a large place (v.8b). That sounds like a somewhat strange idea, but I take that to mean God took him out of the vice or squeeze he was in.
  • David trusted and knew who controlled His life (verses 14-15). His times were in God’s hands.
  • His last words in verse 24 are words worth remembering: “Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord.”

Good words for me, for you. We all go through times of doubt, fear, hesitancy, uncertainty, and (fill-in-the-blank). But God can be trusted through the those times. I choose that truth to rely on.

“Father, You are all you said You are. I know my times are in Your hands. I trust You to be in the operating room, to be with the doctor and nurses, and with me.”

I’m not really sure what the surgery will bring so I can’t say I will be back here tomorrow…or even when. I don’t anticipate any setbacks but I’m not in control of that. I do know I would appreciate your prayers and will try to keep you posted.

June 9

Thursday, June 9th, 2022

I actually wrote this on Tuesday morning, June 6th, while at the hotel.  If I had had a way to post this that morning I would have done so, but typing on my phone is not my idea of fun so I figured I would do it this morning.  Here were my thoughts on that Tuesday morning.

After a very restless night not sleeping in a hotel bed, fraught with a lot of tossing and turning and pain and discomfort, I received a text from a man in the church who told me on June 1 that he would be praying for me all month. Here was his text:

“Lord, I pray for Pastor Bill. Lord, if his bodily pain persists, may his bodily pain lead to your Spirit’s deeper working in him. I know that many times continued pain uncovers things in us. I pray that if you are uncovering something, that he in raw honesty, talks to You about it and he lets You do whatever You want to do. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

I have often said that pain is never wasted. Just Sunday, one of our ladies sat next to another young mother going through the trauma of betrayal and a broken marriage. When I hugged the one mother (Lady #1), she whispered, “Only God could know that she (Lady #2) would be going through what I’ve just gone through.”

And that’s it!! Pain is never wasted. We were never meant to keep the lessons we learn from pain to ourselves. God is in the midst of the pain. Being fully human He knows what it is like. He promises that He will be with me through my pain and carry it with me, and when it gets too heavy,  He will be my heavy lifter.

I know Lady #1 knows that. I also know Lady #2 is experiencing some of that and will, with Lady #1’s help and other’s help, come to see that. She will also come out on the other end praising God for His faithfulness.

“Father, thank You for Your presence. Thank You for Steve’s words. Thank you for Lady #1’s willingness to use her pain to hold Lady #2’s hand and let her cry. May I be that same type of vessel.”

I would love to share with you the name of Lady #1 but privacy will not allow me to do that. I’m sure you understand.  🙂

June 6

Monday, June 6th, 2022

Have you ever been to the grocery store to buy one thing and then been overwhelmed by the options before you? Take, for example, cereal (which one can barely afford these days). I have certain ones I like and they all begin with chocolate. 🙂 Chocolate LIFE is one of them. But there are also multiple varieties of LIFE.  Or how about ketchup or mustard? Generic. Store brand. Organic. Jalapeno. Hot. Spicy brown mustard. Yellow. There is even Catsup! You get the picture. And don’t get me started on the different types of bread or cheese. Sheesh!

Many people think or take that same approach toward God. We live in a pluralistic society where there is a god for everyone. Every religion has its god. “Take your pick!” “Pick one which best suits your fancy!” Hindu. Buddhist. Islam. Animist. And so on. Even God.

Many Christ-followers fail to see God is not one of many gods. He is the ONLY God. The rest are just cheap knock-offs. They couldn’t h0ld a candle to Him even if they could (which they can’t since they are just stone or metal). The prophets of Baal once tried that. They even cut themselves begging Baal to set fire to the altar. No go. But Elijah’s God-the one and only true God-displayed His power by consuming the altar and water surrounding it and the sacrifice. What a display of power!

Jesus once said He was the only way. Not “a” way. Not “one of” the ways. But the way. The supremacy of Christ is one of the core teachings in the Bible. Colossians 1 is devoted to that, as are several chapters in Hebrews.

Jesus above all. That’s a vital truth we must grasp and hold on to.

“Father, may Jesus reign supreme over all things, especially in me and my world.”

I have a couple of prayer requests to add to your prayers:

First: my friend, Ryan, and his wife, Amanda, left for Mayo Clinic Sunday (yesterday) and will arrive today for a series of appointments. I believe it is 3 in three days. Pray for their safety and also for answers to Amanda’s pain (besides Ryan). 🙂  Love you Ryan!  Jo & I have known them almost 15 years and they have become dear friends of ours. Their move to another town about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes away allows us to get together upon occasion. 

Second: Jo, Tami, and I will be leaving today for a short jaunt to Ohio. Braden plays a game tomorrow (unless it gets rained out). We will be returning home Wednesday, Lord willing.  That also means I will not be posting here unless I sense God saying something and I can put up with my phone. 🙂

Third: I have back surgery scheduled for June 14. Please pray that all goes well with the prep I have to do and that I stay healthy for the surgery. Part of my daily regimen is vitamins. I have to stop taking them tomorrow (Tuesday)…one week before surgery. I’ll let you know next Monday what the surgery is all about.