What Are You Afraid Of?

Our world is in chaos, and with the recent ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States that same-sex marriage is now legal in all fifty states, it would seen that we have entered the bottomless spiral towards hell-on-earth. While gay-rights advocates lit up the internet with their celebrations, conservative Christians also lit up the internet with their moans, groans and dire predictions for the future. Isn’t God still on His throne and reigning supreme?

Almost three-thousand years ago, Elisha the prophet was faced with a similar situation. Because Elisha had warned the king of Israel about the king of Syria’s invasion plans several times, so that the king of Syria’s plans were thwarted, the king of Syria placed a bounty on Elisha’s head. We pick up this story in 2 Kings 6:

Once when the king of Syria was warring against Israel, he took counsel with his servants, saying, “At such and such a place shall be my camp.” 9 But the man of God sent word to the king of Israel, “Beware that you do not pass this place, for the Syrians are going down there.” 10 And the king of Israel sent to the place about which the man of God told him. Thus he used to warn him, so that he saved himself there more than once or twice.

11 And the mind of the king of Syria was greatly troubled because of this thing, and he called his servants and said to them, “Will you not show me who of us is for the king of Israel?” 12 And one of his servants said, “None, my lord, O king; but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedroom.” 13 And he said, “Go and see where he is, that I may send and seize him.” It was told him, “Behold, he is in Dothan.” 14 So he sent there horses and chariots and a great army, and they came by night and surrounded the city.

15 When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” 16 He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please ropen his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 18 And when the Syrians came down against him, Elisha prayed to the Lord and said, “Please strike this people with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness in accordance with the prayer of Elisha. 19 And Elisha said to them, “This is not the way, and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.” And he led them to Samaria. (2 Kings 6:8-19)

It certainly would be scary to wake up and discover that you are surrounded by a hostile army bent on your destruction, but Elisha saw something that his servant didn’t see, that they had “divinebodyguards“, the Army of the Lord. God still had work for Elisha to do, including delivery Israel from the Syrians.

Imagine waking up to find that you are surrounded by a company of Marines, but when you step outside your door, they are frozen in place. None of them even moves a muscle, and when you walk up to the company commander and tell him that they are in the wrong place, his troops mount up their vehicles and depart to parts unknown.

Even as we see our world seemingly spiraling out of control, we need to heed the words of Elisha:
He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

We need to rediscover what Elisha knew almost three-thousand years ago, that we serve a great and awesome God, and that NOTHING, not even a Supreme Court decision, catches Him by surprise or off-guard. He is fully-prepared for anything and everything that may come your way, and He has it all under His control. Are your eyes open?

What are YOU afraid of?
Steve

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“Mental-Health” Days

Stress is a KILLER! Stress destroys us mentally, spiritually, psychologically and physically, and yet many of us are under tremendous stress, and wouldn’t know how to live our lives if we weren’t under that much stress. When was the last time you took a “mental-health” day to destress and unwind?

God commanded us to take weekly “mental-health” days:
8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20:8-11)

This is not about some religious observance, even though I am quoting from the Bible. It is about REST, about destressing, about unwinding, about what is best.

God took a break…
Notice that God took a break after He had finished the creation. “11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day.” If the cosmos didn’t unravel while God was taking a break, our world won’t unravel either if we take a break.

God said: “Take a break”…
8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.

When I was growing up, the ONLY thing open on Sunday were churches. Nobody worked on Sunday except for pastors and church staff. There were no convenience stores open 24/7/365, and in fact, one of the first convenience store was 7-11, which was open from 7 AM to 11 PM, SIX days a week. Now there are a myriad of places that are open 24/7/365.

We are so tired from our non-stop activity that we are rarely operating at our best. Tired drivers cause more than their fair-share of traffic accidents. Tired workers can’t give their best to their employers. Tired church-members may sleep through a long-winded sermon. We are growing more tired, AND more irritable by the day.

Taking a break…
I made it my habit during my working career to not wirk on Sunday. Yes, there were times when working on Sunday was a necessity, but I didn’t make it a habit. A close friend of mine is a Seventh Day Adventist, and he always observed Saturday as his day of rest. Did that mean that he never worked a Saturday? No, but he didn’t make it a habit. If we were working together out of town, and needed to work through the weekend, we did, and got back on our normal schedule when we got back home. We also tried to make those weekend work-days a bit shorter so that we didn’t wear ourselves out.

Besides going to church on Sunday and generally chilling-out, I like to take periodic “mental-health” days. Sometimes I just need to get away from the rat-race.

Mental-health days…
When I need to get away and unwind, my favorite chill-out spot is Cypress Cove Nudist Resort. I try to go there about once a month. Now if I could just force myself to turn my phone OFF and leave it in my vehicle… That is easier said than done. because I have a strong commitment to someone who has a lot of medical problems and is frequently sick. I can’t NOT answer my phone if she calls and needs me. I call those “mini-nakations“, for mini-naked-vacations.

I am going to take a bit longer nakation next month (July 2015) and go to the Christian Naturist Festival at Lake Como Resort. I already have my room reservations and I have sent in my Festival registration. That is going to be a time of unwinding, and physical and spiritual rejuvenation. I need that for a lot of reasons and on a lot of levels. I’ll also get plenty of “Vitamin S“, sunshine.

The challenge…
When was the last time you took a “mentalhealth” day and just relaxed? My challenge to you is for you to take a break, take a “mentalhealth” day, or two or five, however many you can manage. Whether you do as I do, and make them “nakations“, or not is up to you, but one thing that I can promise you, is that you really WILL feel better after you take one. Even God rested, so we need to rest also.

To your health,
Steve

Lost Sheep

Have you ever been lost, and I mean REALLY lost? Have you ever known where you were but didn’t know where you were going? That would seem to be almost impossible with all the technology we have at our fingertips, but it can still happen, because in spite of having the best technology, if that technology is lost, you are lost.

Sheep don’t carry GPS units, and they DON’T know their way home, that is, unless their shepherd is there to lead and guide them. We can be much the same way if we lose our bearings.

A few years ago, I went to see my brother and his wife. I had been there before and I thought I knew my way around, but I didn’t. I even entered their address in my GPS, but it was stumped too, because whoever laid out the roads in their mountainside community must have been drunk. The roads ran every which way, and streets started and stopped, and then restarted somewhere else. After driving around for a bit, I stopped, and called my brother, my shepherd, the person who was most familiar with the area. It took him all of five minutes to find me, and I was less than half a mile from their home. He led me home. I had been a lost “sheep” in need of a shepherd.

A few months ago, I got a late-night call from another lost “sheep“. My friend and neighbor had gone out partying with some of her friends. Yes, there was alcohol involved, but she also took a pain-pill. Alcohol and pain-pills can have strange effects on some people. BTW, she was less than four miles from home the whole time. The combination of the alcohol and the medication both fogged her mind and blurred her vision. As she was leaving the party, she took a wrong turn, and suddenly everything was unfamiliar. Thankfully she had my number in her speed-dial. As she drove, she started naming off landmarks that were familiar to me, so I had her pull off of the road in a safe place. It only took me a few minutes to find her, and then I led her home. She was a lost “sheep” and she knew to call a shepherd, someone who could lead her home.

The lost sheep…
15 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

3 So he told them this parable: 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. (Luke 15:1-7)

Jesus had attracted a crowd, again, and it was a crowd of the “wrong-sort” of people, sinners. The Pharisees liked nothing better than to strut around like Banty-roosters with their noses in the air, all the better to look down their noses at those sorry “sinners“, and to complain to and about Jesus. Jesus, as he often did, told a parable.

Imagine with me, if you will, that not only was this poor sheep very lost, but he was also the only BLACK sheep among a herd of all-white sheep. That lends even more weight to “Who’s your daddy?“. He didn’t fit in. He was a misfit. When you looked at the herd, he stood out like a sore-thumb. No, this is NOT a story or commentary about race. Sheep are sheep, and people are people.

I am very much the “black sheep” in my church. I am a misfit. I have had a rough life, and I am more than a bit rough around the edges. I also hang out with the “wrong” crowd, people who Jesus would have welcomed with open arms. They are the people whom God has called me to minister to. Ministry in the ditches isn’t always pretty, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. If I don’t love them, who will?

Digressing for a moment… One of my blogger-friends recently had a gall-bladder attack and ultimately had to have her gall-bladder removed. She is a male-to-female trans-sexual. Some of my conservative Christian friends might say “It served HIM right” and ask “Did HE register in the hospital under HIS real name?“. It is not for me or them to judge her, but I do have a responsibility to love her. She is doing well. Thank you Lord! She is a “lost sheep” and it is my responsibility to point her to the Good Shepherd.

The Good Shepherd…
11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:11)

My brother was the right shepherd when I needed him, and I was the right shepherd when my friend needed me, but neither of us is the Good Shepherd. Jesus is the Good Shepherd, and we are merely deputy-shepherds. It is our job to point lost sheep to the Good Shepherd, to Jesus, because HE is the only one who can really take them Home.

How about you?
Do you have a Shepherd? Do you need a Shepherd? If Jesus isn’t your Shepherd, He would love to become your Shepherd. He is still in the business of finding and rescuing lost sheep, so if you are lost and in need of a Shepherd, call upon Him. He is never too busy for you.

In Christ,
Steve

Father’s Day 2015

Father’s Day isn’t an easy day for me, because even though I am the father of four children, my children aren’t mine any more. They have disowned me and claimed another family as their own. It is a day of mixed-emotions, love and pride, sadness and longing. I love my children and I am proud of who they have become, but I am sad because I don’t have a relationship with any of them and I long for the day when our relationships are restored.

On my way to church this morning, I heard an interview on the local PBS station of a man who will never be reunited with his only daughter. He and his wife divorced before his daughter was even born, and even though he had a relationship with her for the first few years of her life, their relationship had been shattered during her teen years. One day he got word that she had been murdered. She was only 21.

I could hear the heartache in his voice, perhaps as only another father who also doesn’t have any relationship with his children can. No amount of wishing will ever bring her back to life.

I fear the same with my own children. My middle daughter is a wife and mother to two young sons, and she is fighting cancer. Is anyone ever really CURED of cancer, or is the death-sentence simply postponed? Cancer has already claimed both of her breasts, and then in January of this year, she had to have surgery for cancer in her brain. Where will it show up next? Are there any other ticking “timebombs” waiting to claim one of my children?

While other fathers are getting dinners in their honor, fun, family-outings, wacky gifts and sweet cards, it would make my day if even one of my children told me “I love you dad!“. That would mean more to me than all the other things combined.

“Happy” Father’s Day,
Steve

Honoring A Commitment

Divorce courts are full of broken commitments, but it hasn’t always been this way. Honorable people kept their commitments, even if that commitment was to someone who had died several, even hundreds of years earlier.

Did Abraham ever see his offspring settled in the land that God had promised him? Of course not, but that didn’t keep God from honoring His promise to Abraham.

Did Abraham live to see the day when all nations would be blessed by his offspring? Of course not, but that hasn’t kept God from honoring His promise to Abraham, a promise that God is still honoring today.

Did Isaiah live to see the day when his Messianic prophesies, God’s promises to send a Messiah, were fulfilled? Of course not, but that didn’t keep God from honoring His promises to both Isaiah and to the children of Israel.

There was another very special commitment that the person to whom the commitment was made never saw it fulfilled. David developed a very special bond with King Saul’s son Jonathan, and David made a very special promise, a commitment, to Jonathan.

Jonathan knew that he would never be king, because God, through the prophet Samuel, had already anointed David as the next king. In those days, it wasn’t unusual for the new king to “eliminate” any possible threats to his kingdom by the previous king’s heirs. Yes, “eliminate” means SLAUGHTER. So, Jonathan asked David to spare him and his children when he became king, and as we will see, David went way above and beyond in honoring that commitment, but, before I give too much of this story away, let’s look at it from the Bible.

The promise…
12 Then Jonathan said to David, “I swear by the Lord, the God of Israel, that I will surely sound out my father by this time the day after tomorrow! If he is favorably disposed toward you, will I not send you word and let you know? 13 But if my father intends to harm you, may the Lord deal with Jonathan, be it ever so severely, if I do not let you know and send you away in peace. May the Lord be with you as he has been with my father. 14 But show me unfailing kindness like the Lord’s kindness as long as I live, so that I may not be killed, 15 and do not ever cut off your kindness from my family—not even when the Lord has cut off every one of David’s enemies from the face of the earth.”

16 So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the Lord call David’s enemies to account.” 17 And Jonathan had David reaffirm his oath out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself.

42 Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.’” Then David left, and Jonathan went back to the town. (1 Samuel 20:12-17, 42)

The fulfillment…
9 David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”

2 Now there was a servant of Saul’s household named Ziba. They summoned him to appear before David, and the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?”
“At your service,” he replied.

3 The king asked, “Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?”
Ziba answered the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is lame in both feet.”

4 “Where is he?” the king asked.
Ziba answered, “He is at the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar.”

5 So King David had him brought from Lo Debar, from the house of Makir son of Ammiel.

6 When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honor.
David said, “Mephibosheth!”
“At your service,” he replied.

7 “Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.”

8 Mephibosheth bowed down and said, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?”

9 Then the king summoned Ziba, Saul’s steward, and said to him, “I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. 10 You and your sons and your servants are to farm the land for him and bring in the crops, so that your master’s grandson may be provided for. And Mephibosheth, grandson of your master, will always eat at my table.” (Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.)

11 Then Ziba said to the king, “Your servant will do whatever my lord the king commands his servant to do.” So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons.

12 Mephibosheth had a young son named Mika, and all the members of Ziba’s household were servants of Mephibosheth. 13 And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the king’s table; he was lame in both feet. (2 Samuel 9)

Mephibosheth spared…
21 During the reign of David, there was a famine for three successive years; so David sought the face of the Lord. The Lord said, “It is on account of Saul and his blood-stained house; it is because he put the Gibeonites to death.”

2 The king summoned the Gibeonites and spoke to them. (Now the Gibeonites were not a part of Israel but were survivors of the Amorites; the Israelites had sworn to spare them, but Saul in his zeal for Israel and Judah had tried to annihilate them.) 3 David asked the Gibeonites, “What shall I do for you? How shall I make atonement so that you will bless the Lord’s inheritance?”

4 The Gibeonites answered him, “We have no right to demand silver or gold from Saul or his family, nor do we have the right to put anyone in Israel to death.”
“What do you want me to do for you?” David asked.

5 They answered the king, “As for the man who destroyed us and plotted against us so that we have been decimated and have no place anywhere in Israel, 6 let seven of his male descendants be given to us to be killed and their bodies exposed before the Lord at Gibeah of Saul—the Lord’s chosen one.”

So the king said, “I will give them to you.”

7 The king spared Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, because of the oath before the Lord between David and Jonathan son of Saul. 8 But the king took Armoni and Mephibosheth, the two sons of Aiah’s daughter Rizpah, whom she had borne to Saul, together with the five sons of Saul’s daughter Merab, whom she had borne to Adriel son of Barzillai the Meholathite. 9 He handed them over to the Gibeonites, who killed them and exposed their bodies on a hill before the Lord. All seven of them fell together; they were put to death during the first days of the harvest, just as the barley harvest was beginning.

Final respects…
10 Rizpah daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it out for herself on a rock. From the beginning of the harvest till the rain poured down from the heavens on the bodies, she did not let the birds touch them by day or the wild animals by night. 11 When David was told what Aiah’s daughter Rizpah, Saul’s concubine, had done, 12 he went and took the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from the citizens of Jabesh Gilead. (They had stolen their bodies from the public square at Beth Shan, where the Philistines had hung them after they struck Saul down on Gilboa.) 13 David brought the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from there, and the bones of those who had been killed and exposed were gathered up.

14 They buried the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan in the tomb of Saul’s father Kish, at Zela in Benjamin, and did everything the king commanded. After that, God answered prayer in behalf of the land. (2 Samuel 21:1-14)

What if?
What if David had ignored his commitment to Jonathan and slaughtered all of Saul’s and Jonathan’s families anyway? Would anyone have blamed him? Who would have even known about that promise?

42 Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.’” Then David left, and Jonathan went back to the town. (1 Samuel 20:42)

Jonathan and David had called God as their witness, so in honoring his commitment to Jonathan, David was honoring God also. How many commitments do we make to one another before God?

Our commitments…
Have you taken marriage vows and called God as your witness?

Have you taken church-membership vows, calling your fellow church-members and God as your witness?

How many other commitments have you made?

How far are you willing to go in honoring your commitments?

In Christ,
Steve

Tears In A Bottle

You have taken account of my wanderings;
Put my tears in Your bottle.
Are they not in Your book?
Psalm 56:8

Do you ever feel like you are insignificant? Do you ever feel like you don’t “matter” to anyone? If you do, you are in good company, because, inspite of everyone wanting to know your business, nobody really seems to care. “Self” has become more important than service, and caring has gone the way of political integrity.

David was the “runt“, the “baby“, of his family, and while his older brothers were off fighting King Saul’s battles, he was sent out into the wilderness to tend sheep. When Samuel, the Prophet, came to David’s family to anoint a new king, David was inconspicuously-absent, still out tending sheep. After Samuel passed over all of the older brothers, David’s father finally admitted that he did have a younger son, who was out tending sheep.

One would have thought that David’s “fortunes” would have changed after He slew Goliath, but that made him a national hero, and a threat to King Saul’s throne. So, David spent the next several years on the run, fearing for his life. There were several times when he was only one step ahead of Saul’s army. Even after Saul died and David became King of Israel, he still wasn’t out of the woods, because his own son, Absalom, thought that he could do a better job.

David never lost his faith in God, and in spite of his horrible “fortunes“, he knew that God never abandoned him. Many of the Psalms came from his pen, including this marvelous verse;

You have taken account of my wanderings;
Put my tears in Your bottle.
Are they not in Your book?

David knew that nothing escaped God’s attention, and yes, God even paid attention to his tears, his times of pain and his times of sorrow. Is there anything that we can learn from David?

You matter to God…
We all go through times of difficulty, and even when we feel all alone, God is paying attention.

Have you cried tears that never made it to the surface? God caught those too.

Have you pasted a smile on your face while hiding a broken heart? God saw your broken heart.

Have you, when you said “I’m okay“, really meant “You wouldn’t understand“? God understands.

Have you lost a loved-one to death? God caught those tears too, including the ones that never made it out of the well.

Has someone you loved left you without you really ever knowing why? God saw your heartbreak.

Is physical pain a constant, or nearly-constant companion? God feels your pain. God is both your Creator and the Great Physician.

Have you watched someone you care deeply about suffer through horrible physical ailments, but were helpless to do anything about? God was there too.

Talk to God…
Something else that we can learn from David is that he talked to God all the time. No matter what was going on in David’s life, he told God about it. The Psalms are full of conversations David had with God, and many of them are laments, so even if all you can do is complain about how bad things are, God wants you to tell Him about them.

We forget that God never gets “too busy” and nothing that we need to say is “too minor” for His attention. If He knows how many hairs are on your head, and when one of them falls out, He is NOT “too busy” to attend to your needs. God is also NOT offended when we ask Him “WHY?“.

Do YOU need to cry?
Crying doesn’t really come naturally to most of us men, but that is because we have been taught to NOT cry. Jesus was a man, the “manliest” of men, and He cried, several times. You have permission to cry, and don’t forget that God has a bottle for your tears with your name on it. Pour out your heart to Him, and while you are at it, thank Him for caring so much about you. David did that too!

In Christ,
Steve

Welcome Home!

Is there any place you would rather be than at home? Even though I am sure that there are people with such a wander-lust that they really don’t call any place “home“, but for the majority of us, Dorothy had it right when she said “There is no place like home!“. Even though Toto was by her side, she wasn’t in Kansas. If this reference is unfamiliar to you, Dorothy is the young girl in “The Wizard of Oz“.

We all long for a place to call “home“, and if we do have a “home“, when we are away from home, there is a level of uneasiness that won’t go away until get get back home. Whether it is a mansion or a cardboard box, home is where the heart is.

I traveled a lot during the early years of my working career, and sometimes I was gone for several weeks at at time, but there was no sweeter sight than the faces of my family waiting for me at the exit of the jet-way. Even though the airport wasn’t “home“, Albuquerque was, and the airport was in Albuquerque. Arriving at that airport meant that I would be home soon, to greetings of “Welcome Home Dad!“.

I didn’t spend any of my time in the military overseas, so I can only imagine what it feels like to be HOME from an overseas deployment, particularly from a combat-zone. It must be the most wonderful feeling on earth.

In 2011, I made a 31 day, 5,200 mile odyssey across the US of A. I spent a night with my baby brother, Rocky, on my way west. His daughter spent the night with a friend so that I could use her bedroom. That was very sweet of her. I hadn’t seen Rocky since about 1974, so it was wonderful to be together again.

I spent the next few days at the home of my brother Darrell, or should I say, his former home, because Darrell wasn’t there. Yes, his name was still on the deed, but that wasn’t his home any more. Darrell was HOME!!! Cancer had claimed his body, but his Lord had claimed his soul, so Darrell was in a far better place. All that was left of Darrell on earth was a handful of ashes. The chapel at the funeral home was packed, much to Darrell’s surprise, because even though he thought that he really didn’t have many friends, he had touched the lives of many people, and through our tears, we were there to celebrate his life.

I spent the next few days with John and Sue, dear friends from my time in Albuquerque. John was my traveling-partner for quite a few of those work trips. In Spanish, they say “Mi casa es su casa“, for “My home is your home“, and they sure pulled out all the stops to make me feel at home. They insisted that I sleep in their bedroom while they slept on the sofas in the living room so that I could have private sleeping-quarters. As much as they tried to make me feel at home, I wasn’t home.

I journeyed on west to spend some time with Rich and Phyl. I have known Rich since the early 80’s, so we go WAY back. They don’t have a guest bedroom, so I slept on a mattress on the floor of Phyl’s office. Being with them was more important than where I slept. We had a great time together, but I was still over 2,000 miles from home.

I spent all but one night on the rest of the trip in a motel room. Motel rooms ARE NOT home, as nice as they can be, because that room is only “yours” as long as you pay the “rent“. None of the places I had been or stayed were “home“, because I didn’t have my OWN bedroom or my OWN place at the table.

As I pulled into the driveway of MY home, it was good to be HOME. Mom met me with “WELCOME HOME!“, because I WAS HOME.

Many people would think that the little place I call “home” is way too small, but it is “home” to me. I don’t have to compete with anyone else for any part of the house. It is not that I wouldn’t share it, but at this point in my life, I don’t have to share it.

I go up to see my mom once in a while, and even though her place is technically mine also, it isn’t really “home“. I am ALWAYS ready to come back HOME.

As much as we feel like this Earth is our home, if we are Christians, this is NOT our home. We are sojourners for a finite period of time. As with Darrell, so also with Connie and my own father. They aren’t here any longer. They are HOME. They are in their “FOREVERHOME“. They have joined a myriad of saints who have gone before them, saints who have left their earthly-dwelling behind, and are now dwelling in a place that was not made by human hands. They have already heard God say “WELCOME HOME!“.

David, in that glorious 23rd Psalm, said “And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever“. The “house of the Lord” IS our forever-home. This “home“, this earthly-body wears out, gets diseased, and ultimately dies, but it is only our temporary home, because God has given us an immortal spirit which lives on even after our body is long-gone. Yes, we WILL get a new body, a body that is not subject to decay, disease and death, a body not-unlike Adam and Eve’s bodies before their fall into sin. We will be restored to our true and full humanity, because being human isn’t “bad“, it is WONDERFUL. We, among all of God’s creation, are the only beings made in His image. Jesus showed us what it is like to be fully-human, and what we should strive for in our earthly-sojourn is to be more like Him.

Sometimes I wish that God would call me HOME, but I know that as long as I am still here, He has more work for me to do. Should we “settledown” here? I believe that we should only “settlelightly“, because nothing we accumulate here will cross over with us. Only what we do for the furtherance of His kingdom and for His glory really matters. Those are what will follow us HOME.

Are you ready to go HOME? Are you ready to hear “WELCOME HOME!“?

I am!
Steve

Come and Eat…

When we are hungry, those three words are music to our ears, and when they carry with them a restoration of lost relationships, they are even sweeter. Some of a family’s sweetest and most cherished memories are made while eating together, and nothing says “family” quite like eating a meal together. Eating a meal together carries an even more special significance in the Bible.

David, the psalmist, points us to this special significance in the 23rd Psalm.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows. (Psalm 23:5)

The prodigal son…
What image comes to mind when a person is described as a “prodigal“? Rebel? Wild-child? Black-sheep? If we are honest with ourselves, there is a bit of “prodigal” in every one of us. No matter how “good” you have been, there is a “prodigal” hidden inside…

11 And He said, “A man had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them. 13 And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. 14 Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him. 17 But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”’ 20 So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; 23 and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:11-24)

Can you imagine the father laying awake at night worrying about his son? Can you see the father keeping his eyes peeled, scanning the horizon for a glimpse of his son, day after day, day after day?

What did the son look like when he approached? Was he a “sight for sore eyes“, or an “eyesore“? To his father, he certainly was a “sight for sore eyes“. Otherwise, he smelled like a pig-sty and looked like he hadn’t had a bath in months. He was barefoot, and what little clothing he had on had seen better days. He probably looked very little different than the homeless people who wander the cities of America.

By rights, the father could have had his son stripped and flogged, but he didn’t. He celebrated, but the celebration wasn’t the robe. The celebration wasn’t the ring, or even the sandals. The celebration was a FEAST, a BANQUET, a PARTY!!! He was ALIVE! He was HOME!

Peter…
Loose lips may sink ships, but Peter got caught in his own mouth-trap. It was far more serious than “open mouth and insert foot“. Peter did one of those infamous “I will NEVER…”‘s. Do you relate? I sure do, and if I had a T-shirt for every time I said “I will NEVER…“, and did it anyway, I would have to turn my home into a closet. I must have inherited some of Peter’s bragadocious genes.

Peter already had a well-deserved reputation for being bold, brash, impetuous and even a bit arrogant. He was also the “toughguy” of the gang. Don’t forget that Peter was the one packing “heat” (a sword) when Jesus was arrested. Either his aim was a bit off, or his sword-wielding skills were rusty, because he “only” cut off the guy’s ear. So much for “protecting” Jesus from arrest…

Shortly before this, Peter’s tongue had gone from being “golden“:
13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:13-16)

to “talking trash“:
21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (Matthew 16:21-23)

What did Peter do that was SO bad?
31 Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:
“‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’
32 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

33 Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.

34 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”

35 But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same. (Matthew 26:31-35)

Does this all sound familiar? “I WILL NEVER…

69 Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said.

70 But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.

71 Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”

72 He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”

73 After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.”

74 Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”
Immediately a rooster crowed.

75 Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly. (Matthew 26:69-75)

Peter blew it – big-time, and he knew it. He had done what he promised to NEVER do, deny His lord. If this story ended with Peter’s denial, all that would have been left would have been a very despondent Peter, but this story DOESN’T end this way. It is time for another meal, time for another restoration.

21 Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3 “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
5 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.

6 He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

7 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. 8 The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. 9 When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.

10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead. (John 21:1-14)

Who could blame Peter for going fishing? He had been a commercial fisherman before Jesus called him, so fishing was the one thing that he DID know how to do. How could Jesus ever trust him with carrying on the ministry after He ascended back into heaven, after he made such a horrible blunder?

15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.

18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!” (John 21:15-19)

Peter not only was restored to fellowship with His lord, he also received a new commission.

The Last Supper…
27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:27-29)

This is the meal which we still celebrate, the Lord’s Supper. This is also a meal for restoration. Jesus didn’t say “Drink it when you are perfect“, or “Drink it when you have your stuff together“. He said “Drink from it, all of you“.

We will never be “worthy” to partake in this meal, that is, if we are depending on our own “worthiness“. We will always fall short, but this meal isn’t about us. It is about what Jesus Christ did for us. Only He can restore us to a right relationship with God the Father. I will never understand why He chose me, but He did. All of these meals are truly love-feasts, not because any of us deserves to be restored, but because Someone, who loves us more than we love ourselves, bids us come to His table.

In the presence of my enemies…
No, I didn’t forget that part of Psalm 23:5, although I am not going to touch on the last two phrases of the Psalm. We have an enemy. Satan is our mortal-enemy, and he loves to trip us up, and then make us feel ugly about ourselves after he trips us up.

The prodigal son certainly didn’t feel “worthy” to be taken back into his family, and if his older brother had his way, there wouldn’t have been any restoration, let alone a feast, but he received both. His older brother was the Devil’s advocate, but while the older brother moped, the rest of the family feasted.

Some would say that Peter had committed an unpardonable sin, and I am sure that Satan was having a gay old time reminding him of what he did, but Jesus wasn’t having any part of Satan’s celebration. When Jesus said “Come and eat“, Satan turned tail and ran.

Satan also wants to remind us of how rotten we are. There is just one problem with that. If we are in Christ, we ARE forgiven, and He has given us a permanent invitation to dine at His table. As Jesus dismissed Judas before that special meal, He also has forbidden Satan to interfere with His supper now. Every time we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we are reminded that we can’t fix ourselves, but Satan is also reminded that we no longer belong to him. We can partake because we have been restored.

Come and eat!
Steve

On A Hill Far Away…

Two hills… Two fathers… Two sons… Two sacrifices… The first sacrifice was a foreshadowing and promise of the second sacrifice… The second son was descended from the first father and the first son… The first son didn’t die, but the second son did…

The Offering of Isaac
22 Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.” 3 So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. 4 On the third day Abraham raised his eyes and saw the place from a distance. 5 Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship and return to you.” 6 Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son, and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. 7 Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” And he said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” 8 Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together.

9 Then they came to the place of which God had told him; and Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood, and bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 He said, “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” 13 Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son. 14 Abraham called the name of that place The Lord Will Provide, as it is said to this day, “In the mount of the Lord it will be provided.”

15 Then the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, 16 and said, “By Myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. 18 In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” 19 So Abraham returned to his young men, and they arose and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham lived at Beersheba. (Genesis 22:1-19)

The test…
God challenged Abraham to give up his only son, the son of promise, by sacrificing him to the Lord. Either Abraham was a blithering idiot, or he had a faith in God that was unshakeable. God had promised that Abraham’s children would be descended from Isaac…

Gut-wrenching decision…
I doubt that Abraham slept very much that night, because there were nagging questions in his mind, such as: “What if God does take my only son?“, or “How can I ever come back home without Isaac?“, and maybe “Is this God for real?“, and “Does He actually keep His promises?“. If everything went horribly wrong, Abraham would be left without an heir, and this would be the last night Sarah would ever see Isaac again. How could he ever face Sarah again?

Abraham’s confidence…
Isaac was a child of promise, a miracle-baby, because Abraham was 100 years old, and Sarah, Isaac’s mother, was 90 years old. Sarah was barren, and well past the age of child-bearing, but Isaac came along anyway. God had also promised that Isaac would be Abraham’s heir, that Abraham’s family would be descended from Isaac. If Isaac died, Abraham would have no heir and no descendants.

5 Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship and return to you.

Notice that Abraham DIDN’T say “We will worship and I will return to you…” Abraham had every expectation that they would both return.

7 Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” And he said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” 8 Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together.

The altar…
Abraham built an altar as God had instructed. He also prepared to sacrifice his own son.

9 Then they came to the place of which God had told him; and Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood, and bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.

I’ll bet Abraham was sweating-bullets as he bound Isaac, laid him on the altar, and raised the knife to kill his son. He had sacrificed many animals before, but this was his son, his ONLY son. Was God crazy? This was insane, but he still raised the knife… In a few more moments, his son would be dead, and all his hopes would be dashed…

Was Isaac terrified? The air was electric, and he had never seen that look of steely-determination in his father’s eyes before. Isaac had no doubt seen his father sacrifice many animals before, but it was his own life that would soon be snuffed out. Then…

Abraham, Abraham…

Abraham’s heart was already racing, and then… “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.

Did it take a few minutes for Abraham to recover? I am sure that his hands trembled as he untied Isaac.

Substitute sacrifice…
God did provide a substitute-sacrifice, in the form of a ram. Isaac was spared, and that is a foreshadowing of our own substitute-sacrifice.

13 Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son.

God provides…
14. Abraham called the name of that place “The Lord Will Provide”, as it is said to this day, “In the mount of the Lord it will be provided”.

God renews His promises to Abraham…
15 Then the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, 16 and said, “By Myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. 18 In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”

God gave an incredible promise to Abraham, a promise that we are still seeing fulfilled today. “In your seed ALL the nations of the earth shall be blessed”. Who is that Seed that will bless all the nations? That promised seed was none other than Jesus Christ.

The other Father…
God didn’t have to offer His only Son for my sins and for yours, but He did. Was it a gut-wrenching decision for God the Father to ordain that His only Son would die on our behalf? We may never know, but this we DO know, that God the Father carried out that plan to the letter.

The other Son…
Jesus was the only Son of God, and He became the second sacrifice.

The promised Lamb…
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)

Jesus was the promised Lamb. He was born to die, born to give Himself for us. A cross-shaped shadow hung over Him from the moment He was conceived in His mother’s womb until He was hung on that cross.

Unlike Isaac, who was kept in the dark until the moment he was bound on that altar, Jesus was fully-aware of His mission. He told His disciples beforehand, but the reality didn’t sink in until they saw Him on the cross.

Leaps of faith…
God doesn’t call us to physically sacrifice our children, but sometimes He does call us to step out, to move out of our comfort-zone for our good and His glory. When I got married and moved to the Orlando area, I had no idea that my wife would abandon me less than six weeks later, but God knew. I didn’t know that I would have to step totally out of my comfort-zone and take on missions for which I feel totally-unequipped, but God knew. If God had told me the details, would I have moved anyway?

God needed to get me out of my comfort-zone so that He could do some hard work on me, because I was too comfortable where I was for God to do what needed to be done. I also couldn’t take on the new missions He had for me while living where I was. Was a “wife” merely the “bait” to get me to move? Perhaps, but she is also totally-responsible for her actions.

God doesn’t call us to hike for three days into the wilderness to sacrifice our child on an altar on top of a mountain, but sometimes He does call us to make leaps of faith that are equally life-changing.

On a hill far away…
On a hill, far away, stood an old, rugged cross…

Because of that old rugged cross, your debt is paid. You may still have mountains to climb and sacrifices to make, and you may face tests of faith, but they are for your good and God’s glory. You will never be called to sacrifice your own flesh and blood, as Abraham was, and as God did, but you can rest assured that you aren’t going anywhere God hasn’t already gone before. He understands, and His promises are sure, so whatever leap of faith you are called to make, you won’t make alone.

Are you ready?

Steve

Idolatry

Do you have an “idol” in your home? Do you have a shrine to your favorite “deity“? Do you have tributes to your favorite “idol” in your closet, dresser or on your hat-rack? Maybe you are wondering what I am talking about, because you would NEVER worship another “deity” besides God, and yet idolatry wasn’t just a problem in the Old Testament, it is a real problem today, even among Christians.

Virtually every city or town in America has at least one shrine, and many major cities have dozens of shrines and grand temples to their favorite “deities“. Some of those temples have even been built with tax-payer money. Sometimes one of those “deities” will threaten to move somewhere else unless the city builds them a new temple.

Very few homes in America are without at least one altar to the family’s favorite “deities“, and many homes have one of those altars in every room in the house. Usually the biggest altar is in the living room or family room so the whole family can worship together, and the bigger the altar the better.

People spend hundreds, and even thousands of dollars to worship in their favorite temple, and many buy season-tickets to those temples so they don’t miss out on anything. They will stand in line for hours, and some have even been known to camp out overnight so they can get the best seats. Some people take expensive vacations to go worship in their favorite temple and bring homage to their favorite “deity“.

They throw elaborate parties to worship at the altars of their favorite deities, and it isn’t unusual for there to be lots of liquor involved also. People go crazy over their “deities“.

God said, in Exodus 20:3-4,
3 “You shall have no other gods before me.

4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Another “god”…
Yes, maybe I have finally lost my mind, or maybe I haven’t. The reality is that the vast majority of Americans spend way more time and money on entertainment than they do in the worship of God. That, my friends, is idolatry.

We have “American Idol” and “Dancing With The Stars“…

The shrines…
In most homes, their shrine is their entertainment-center, and the altar, and most important part of the entertainment-center, is their television. Feeding that altar is usually a satelite dish or cable-TV provider, and we can’t forget that DVD player and the Digital Video Recorder. People are paying some serious money for those “special packages” which include subscriptions to all their favorite “deities“. They can worship all their favorite “deities” right in their own home, in the comfort of their own living room or family room. I have a friend who will pay her Direct-TV bill even if she doesn’t have enough money for her rent and utilities. She goes ballistic if she can’t watch TV. She also thinks that I am “deprived” because, even though I have a TV, it isn’t hooked up to anything. A recent Red-box movie rental ended up costing her over $100 after she paid the late-return fee and the overdraft fees on her bank account. NO movie is worth that much to see.

How many towns don’t have a movie theater? Sometimes there is even a movie theater in one of those “one-horse” towns, because movies are big business. New-release movies will rake in a hundred MILLION dollars in just a few short days. That is insane.

The temples…
If there is a major sports franchise in your city, you have at LEAST one temple to the city’s favorite “deity“. If there are several major sports franchises in your city, there will be temple for each, because, heaven-forbid, they share temple space with each other. A nice sports-temple costs a half a BILLION dollars and up.

The grand-daddy…
The grand-daddy of all of the entertainment venues in my neck of the woods is Disney World. That place rakes in money so fast it would make your head swim. It may be the “happiest place on earth“, but it is also the greediest. Tens of thousands of people flock there every day to empty out their wallet and be entertained.

The tribute…
Virtually everywhere I look, I see someone wearing some item of tribute to their favorite “deity“, a jacket, a shirt, a T-shirt or a hat. People love to advertise their favorite “deities” and pay tribute to them. Regardless of which “deity” is on display, the item cost way more than it is worth.

The real problem…
We have become “children of a lesser god“, the “god” of pleasure, the “god” of entertainment, and while we spend BILLIONS of dollars on entertainment, many churches have trouble coming up with enough money to cover their bare-minimum budgets. Our Senior Pastor had to take a ten-week, unpaid sabbatical last summer because my church didn’t have enough money to cover its expenses. Our Associate Pastor was also paid way less than what he should have been for the same reason.

We have a serious problem with our priorities. “Self” has taken the place of God, and pleasure has trumped responsibility.

When was the last time you took vacation to go to a church retreat? Are you more faithful at your favorite sports venue than you are to your church? Do you skip church to watch the Superbowl, or are Sunday-evening church functions cancelled because of the Superbowl? Some churches even have a church-sponsored Superbowl-party…

We have turned entertainment “stars” and sports “heroes” into our IDOLS and pay them millions of dollars a year, for what, while our REAL heroes can’t even make a decent living and they do their work largely-unnoticed. Our value-system has been turned on its head.

Many of these “stars“, “heroes” and “idols” are also horrible role-models. It seems like the worse they are as role-models, the more they get paid. There is something seriously-wrong with that picture.

Am I “deprived”?
Am I “deprived” because I “only” have my computer and a few GOOD books? Am I “deprived” because I DON’T get a hundred channels of garbage on my TV at the touch of a button? Am I “deprived” because I refuse to pay to get “entertained“? Am I “deprived” because my God is the owner and ruler of the universe? Am I “deprived” because I am an heir with Christ of everything God owns, including Heaven? I sure don’t see it that way. I am incredibly-blest to have a good computer and a few good books, and be able to reach the world through this blog to the furtherance of God’s kingdom and for His glory.

How about you?
Are you a child of a “lesser-god“? Do you worship the idols of entertainment and pleasure? If you do, God has a few words for you:

3 “You shall have no other gods before me.

4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

In Christ,
Steve