Pondering Ants

These ants are working so hard to eat what will kill off their entire colony. I learned a concoction of Borax, sugar and water years ago that works every time but I have to be patient. It takes a few days for this to reach the queen. Once it does she dies and so does the entire colony.

“When the queen ant dies, the colony dies, according to the “Smithsonian Zoogoer.” The death of the colony will not be immediate, but will slowly die off over time as no new members will be added.” (From scienceing.com)

What am I eating? What an I putting in my mind? Will it kill me too? That sugar solution tastes so good to them they choose it over my homemade food! What am I choosing?

Devotional Thoughts: Can You See God?

The invisible is clearly seen, how can this be? How can something that is invisible be seen clearly? We cannot see God with our naked eyes. More irony! How can we see what’s invisible? Not being able to see God is an argument I’ve heard a lot against the existence of God. A god we can physically see would be limited and not even God. That which we see is limited to occupy only that space. God is not confined to anything.

The Old Testament is full of peoples worshipping physical idols. Idols today are different: money, cars, sex, people, etc.. they’re anything we give a lot of time, money and effort to. They’re all empty, or only give us a temporary gratification.

This verse says we can perceive God in the things that have been made. We call these things nature. I drove to Caraway yesterday, a beautiful camp and conference center to borrow something. As I entered the windy road covered by a lush green canopy of trees my soul marveled at its beauty. Then this road revealed a sparkling lake where people were kayaking and relaxing. I longed to just stop there and see God, connect and pray. Nature has always drawn me to God. However, I’ve been fighting ants in my kitchen for the past few days so I’m reminded I don’t want all of nature in my home! Even ants are so amazing. What a work ethic! I think they only rest when they die? They’re putting me to shame!

Some mistake nature for God. Nature isn’t God but something God uses to draw us towards Him. Others disregard nature, disrespect it as my daughter pointed out when I killed an ant in my kitchen last night. We are charged with caring for the earth as God’s people. Followers of Jesus should live green and not be wasteful. That’s a whole other teaching I’ll write out one day.

Paul, who wrote this book in the Bible, is referring to the unrighteous when he uses the pronoun, “they.” I know this because I read the previous verse. The unrighteous are without excuse, there will be no argument that will stand up. The evidence of God’s existence is clear. We have to open the eyes of our souls, our spiritual eyes.

Last Sunday, a dear friend preached about Muslims coming to Jesus through dreams and visions. God gives each of us opportunity to find Him. It’s so much easier to find God where we have access to Bibles and churches all over. Our great irony might be that we have more access to God because of religious freedom, but we don’t utilize it. A great population of the world doesn’t have this luxury, but they have all God has made. Yes, God is eternally powerful, divine and omnipresent. I choose God’s ways today.

Devotional Thoughts: 2 Kinds of Grief/Sorrow

Godly vs. worldly grief. This verse contrasts the worldview of a believer with the one who doesn’t believe. Those who follow Jesus sense a conviction of sin in their souls and reach out to God to confess sin and repent. This response grants freedom and forgiveness. Remorse of wrongdoing can lead us to apologize or as this verse remind us it can lead in another direction as well.

Worldly grief over wrongdoing can lead to so many things like sorrow and even despair. These are meant to hand over to God but if we choose not to this leads to the ultimate payment for sin: death and separation from God. Someone once told me it’s this kind of grief that led them to anger and sadness that led to an addiction. Others might tell you that traumas in their lives led to this same thing.

These are two opposing ways to deal with our stuff. We can hand it to God and confess or keep it to ourselves and it will fester in our consciences and cripple us. We are human. We all sin. I’ve learned our culture teaches us to cover up and at any cost protect ourselves from being caught or exposed. The strongest person admits wrong, apologizes, mends the relationship and presses on. The weak lie, blame and try to cover their butt. This leads to isolation, loneliness and broken relationships. Do we think God can’t see?

God is omnipresent and sees it all. What we do with our sin has the capacity to determine our future. Confession leads to salvation and eternal life. I can leave it behind and heal. Worldly grief and regrets are carried with me and are so heavy they crush me. It will steer me in directions that will destroy my life.

On a side note, our TV shows and movies seem to glorify covering up sin. We are fascinated by the sins of others watching Live PD and Dateline featuring heinous crimes. The more awful the crime the more fascinating. Most movies have a betrayer, a sinful one. Yes, this too is life too sometimes. My coworker just yesterday said, “Garbage in, garbage out.”

Devotional Thoughts: Community & Giftedness

We are so individualized here in the USA we don’t understand the importance of community sometimes, nor the importance of how we are knit together as one body. What I do or choose not to do affects another. Our culture is the outlier in the span of the globe when it comes to time and community. We even see our faith as individualistic and through the lens of our universalist culture. Failing to understand we are connected, even in ways we do not comprehend, brings more brokenness into our world and communities. For example, many of us are still shaken by the shooting at UNC Charlotte. What that person chose to do has even affected our nation. And then another in Denver yesterday. It’s like a shock wave is sent out from the center of these events, those at the center being affected and traumatized the most. What you and I do or choose not to do really matters!

If you are a believer and you’ve given your life over to God you are part of a body, a team, a great community. We are a living organism all over the globe! I’m so blessed to experience this in my job, connecting people together across the globe for everyone to utilize their gifts together. Some even change their geographical location as a result. Some are living out their calling as a result. God does amazing things when we come together as God intended.

God also does amazing work when we reach across our comfort zones to build relationships with people who are not like us. We learn, they learn and God can do great things. Use your gifts freely! Share what you have with others. There’s a great blessing on the other side! Without stepping out to use your gifts, to reach across social norms, you won’t find those blessings. God is on the other side too. God doesn’t hate anyone. God loves each human being. We should too. As I write this friends are serving prisoners today. They’re using their gifts to serve what might be considered the worst people in our society. God will do great things this week through them sharing their time and gifts. I’m waiting to hear about it!

Are you committing the sin of omission by withholding what God gave you from the world? Are you being a good steward of your time and giftedness? Step out, even if you’re afraid. God will meet you on the other side. You’ll even uncover a blessing!

Devotional Thoughts: God in Man

Everyone is always talking about the next thing. The next technology, the next invention, the next movement the next anything else… C.S. Lewis tells us the next thing has already arrived! It’s God alive in man! It’s the living Christ alive inside human beings! It’s a transformation of humanity, for when we reach out to God and surrender our lives we are not the same. This isn’t of our own doing. It’s God’s workmanship.

This probably sounds like madness to some to say I’m dead. I died to myself and my own desires and I now live in God’s ways. As crazy as it may sound I’m sure some around you have experienced this. Find them and they will tell you about it. It’s the greatest thing that’s ever happened to them, being morphed into a whole new creation. I am nothing like who I was. I don’t belong here. I belong to a greater Kingdom, one that lasts forever and will never fail.

The difficulty comes in living here as a citizen of another place. My faith trumps my nationality. My faith trumps my career. My faith trumps my circumstances. My faith conquers all. Call me an extremist.

Some would say it’s ok to be a Christian, but let’s not get out of hand. Let’s just utilize those pieces that benefit ourselves and ignore the other. Some attend church because it benefits them to have a good network. Some pick and choose. Some worship our nation, some money giving their life to earning more. Those who choose other gods are empty and lacking.

Becoming a Christian is dying to self and following the Living God who lives inside the human soul. Yes, God allows us to ignore Him. We have free will. We must strive constantly to connect, listen and follow. Please do not judge God because no human can fully and perfectly follow. We see God in our fellow believers but we are also aware no human has fully arrived.

We do not define God. This manner of thinking declares self as the center of the universe. If we live with ourselves at the center we eventually learn we’re not the center, God is. Learning this now saves us a tremendous amount of grief, heartache and consequences.

Place God at the center. This is the most beautiful way to view the world.

Devotional Thoughts: Confess Jesus

I first openly declared this years ago as a teen. I was tired of failing at life doing things my way. It just wasn’t working out. I surrendered the course of my life to God. I openly declared, confessed with my mouth Jesus is Lord. This wasn’t a magical thing I spoke, but an outflow of giving my life to God.

I’m thinking today also about many who follow God in places where you can be killed for openly declaring Jesus is Lord. This verse isn’t so difficult for us.

When we come across the word believe in the New Testament it has a deeper meaning in Greek than it does in our English language. Believing something affects everything you are, your choices, your lifestyle, your outlook on life.

Some of us need to stop believing certain things, confess Jesus as Lord and believing will replace those dark things we believe that hold us captive in our hearts. This sets us free from awful debilitating thoughts like, “I’m ugly,” “I’m weak,” “I’m not good enough.” It also sets us free from the polar opposite thinking that we are better than other people, or that we are the savior of the world.

One way we openly declare Jesus is Lord is through baptism. Baptism shows who we belong to. Baptism is obedience and following through in our faith. It’s the mark of a Christian. I used to teach kids in gang ridden neighborhoods that gangs have colors and symbols to show they belong. Christians have baptism to show we are in God’s gang, God’s family.

What does my life say to others? What does your life say? we are declaring something whether we like it or not. If you haven’t arrived at confessing Jesus is Lord, God raised Jesus from the dead you can do that today.

That’s what freed me years ago. You too can be free.

Devotional Thoughts: Hope

What a summary of what we are to do as followers of Jesus! Other translations say say, “rejoice in hope.” Our world needs the hope I have. The hope I have isn’t even human, it doesn’t come from me. It comes from the living God. Without this my life would be so different.

This hope enables me to live out the words that follow in this verse. I cannot be patient without the hope God gives me. I cannot continue in prayer without this hope. This hope is inexplicable, unexplainable, incomprehensible to our human minds. It’s even irrational to those who are not carriers of hope. This hope is an amazing lens through which I see everything. It changes the way I see nature, tribulations and troubles, and especially people.

This hope even dispels all fear: fear of death, fear of tomorrow, fear of suffering, and the fear of anything else.

The cruelest thing we can do is keep this hope to ourselves. It’s to pass along and it’s contagious. I’ve seen God’s hope defeat cancer, addiction and many other things that are so debilitating.

I’m excited today to celebrate those we are sending out on mission as a church family. I’m excited today to come together in corporate worship this morning and then again tonight for an evening of worship together. This hope will be reflected in our worship despite our circumstances.

If you do not know this hope, reach out to God who desires to give this to you. God doesn’t grant hope to some and not others. You’re not unwanted.

Devotional Thoughts: Salvation

The Gospel message in one verse! Mankind’s greatest fear is death. One thing that is guaranteed to each and every one of us is one day we will die. Our bodies will give out, or unexpected tragedies happen too.

God offers the greatest gift. Once this gift is received eventually our fear of death fades because we no longer live in uncertainty. What is this gift? Jesus was convicted and crucified even though he lived a sinless life. His body was laid to rest and he resurrected on the third day. This was done and is offered as a gift for payment of sin to anyone will to receive it.

How do we receive such a thing? Confess your sin to God; ask for forgiveness. Thank God for sending Jesus, his Son to conquer all sin and death. Give God your life and commit to follow Jesus, walk in obedience of God’s ways.

I did this years ago and I’ve never been the same. I’m not afraid to die. Death will relieve me from this world of suffering. My sins are forgiven even before I die. You too can know this freedom that only comes from God. It’s transformational and it changes your entire worldview. What are you waiting for? Be brave and approach God today.

Devotional Thoughts: Keep Praying

Never stop praying, how do we do this? I don’t think this means all we do is pray. We are to be active in our lives but we can pray as we go along throughout our day. We can have a continual conversation with God who is omnipresent. God is with us whether we acknowledge this or not. When we don’t connect with God throughout our days we miss out on all God desires to give us. God is good. God will give us what we need. We lack many times because we do not pray.

The verse after this one says to give thanks in all things, give thanks in everything. Give thanks on the good days and give thanks on the bad days. No matter what’s going on I can choose to look around and be thankful. I can see light even in the darkest times. This is a spiritual discipline. It doesn’t come naturally.

I am a work in progress. I haven’t arrived at praying without ceasing yet. Our journey here on earth is challenging. Setting spiritual goals is vital to our survival. Time with God is essential if I’m to be a warrior for the Kingdom. I’m deployed for now, here on earth, but one day I’ll be home where I belong. In my deployment I choose to pray and walk with God or not. The cowardly apathetically disengage. It’s the brave, the strong, the empowered that are engaged in prayer and obedience. It’s the strong who resist temptation, the weak give in. Prayer is a vital tool to resist temptation. Those following the ways of the world doing as they please are the weak. Their lives lead to destruction. The world thinks they’re strong and cool. Irony abounds! Let’s pray today, maybe we’ll make it to praying without ceasing!

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