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A Rabbit, a Dog, and What I Learned about God and Me

by on May.07, 2017, under Hope

 

I found a rabbit in our yard the other day.  Well, to be accurate, I found the body of a rabbit.  I didn’t see exactly what happened, but I can make a pretty good guess.  Rabbits must really believe the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.  Or they think dog food would be good to try.  Dogs do not like rabbits in their yard.  Dogs are faster than rabbits think they are.

 

If I could have spoken to the rabbit, I would have told him to not go into the backyard, that there was plenty to eat on this side of the fence, and that the backyard was dangerous.  I would have reminded that rabbit that the big dog really was a threat if you came into his territory. 

 

That is much like what God tells us in the Bible.  There is evil in this world.  God warns of the things that can harm us.  He even tells us that the devil is real and wants to devour us.

 

The rabbit could have been safe.  The dog was restrained by the fence.    All the rabbit had to do was trust me and it would have been safe.  So… God sent his Son to save us.  If we trust in Jesus, nothing can ever separate us from the love of God.  Nothing.  The devil does not have unlimited power.

 

Satan has to entice us into his world. Make the grass look green, convince us that dog food is really good, and assure us that the big dog is friendly.  Maybe even convince us that the dog is not actually real.  Until the rabbit – and by rabbit I mean us — realizes that it was all a lie.

 

It is just a story about a dog and a rabbit, but it sure reminded me of God, Jesus, the devil, and me. 

 

God made us, knows us, and gave his Son so we could have life.  Trust him, believe in his Son, and live. 

 

He will keep you safe.

 

Blessings,

 

steve      

 

 


Rivals and a jealous God

by on Apr.02, 2017, under Hope

An enterprising young Chinese woman, identified only as Xiaoli, found herself a little short of cash. So she convinced her boyfriend to buy her an iPhone 7.

Then she got another iPhone 7… by convincing another boyfriend to buy her the smartphone. She did the same with yet another boyfriend. And another. And another.

Eventually, Xiaoli got 20 new phones from 20 boyfriends. She then sold the phones on the Internet and bought herself a house in the countryside! No one is sure which of the boyfriends will share the house with her or if any of them will.

In the Bible, God frequently told his people that he wasn’t willing to share their love. They could worship him, or they could worship false gods, but they couldn’t do both. God doesn’t want to be one “boyfriend” among many; he wants people to love him will all their hearts.

Are you willing to give your whole heart to God? Or are the things that would compete with him for the top spot in your life? Here are some common rivals:

  • Family. We’re often tempted to put people we love ahead of God. The Bible says that won’t work:

“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37)

  • Possessions. We love our stuff. We love money. We love having things around us. We can’t let those things become more important than God.

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Matthew 6:24)

  • Sin. That should be pretty obvious, but some people have trouble coming to God because they don’t want to give up the bad things that they are doing. We have to be ready to let go of things that are wrong.

“But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.” (1 John 3:5–6)

  • Life itself. Sometimes, we’re so in love with this present life that we just aren’t that interested in the life that God offers. Jesus came to reach out to those who are weary of this world and long for something better. If we want to love God, we can’t continue loving the world as it is:

“You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” (James 4:4)

A girl with 20 boyfriends isn’t being faithful to any of them. Those guys aren’t going to let her continue to live that way and still be in a relationship with them. In the same way, if want to be with God, we have to be willing to put aside all of his rivals.
Jesus said it this way:

“Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matthew 22:37–38)

If you want to know more about loving God and giving yourself to him alone, contact us. Or just leave a comment on this post.


He Knows Everything about Me

by on Mar.05, 2017, under Hope

She was not the kind of person you would expect to have a religious conversation with.  After all, she had been married five times and now she was living with a man.  Maybe no one would marry her anymore.  Or maybe she was tired of the whole marriage thing at this point in her story.  She would not even fill her water bucket at the well with the other women in her village.  They would go to the well early in the morning while it was still cool.  She, however, showed up at noon.  Did the other women make her feel unwelcome?  Did she feel so bad about herself that she thought she was unworthy to be around the “good” women of the village.

Then one day Jesus was there.  Jesus, a religious Jew, and this Samaritan woman.  They talked about living water that would quench her thirst for something more in life.  She told him the Messiah would explain everything when he appeared.  Jesus told her that he was the Messiah, the one God promised to send to earth and save men from their sins. 

He let her know he knew about the men.  Knew everything she had ever done.  And was still willing to talk to her.  Still offered her living water.  Still offered to be her Messiah.  She was so astounded that she left her water bucket and ran to town to tell about this man who knew everything about her and still loved her.  This man who claimed to be the Messiah.

The whole town came out to talk to him because of her testimony, then ended up becoming Jesus followers because of what he said to them.  She brought them by her testimony and he taught them.

You can read this story for yourself in John, chapter 4.  You may think you have done things that make you unlovable to God.  Not true.  He knows you and loves you anyway.  Just like he did the woman at the well.

He wants to give you living water too. 

I can help you get to know him.  Let me hear from you.

steve


Walnuts and hand grenades

by on Feb.05, 2017, under Hope

The metal object was the perfect size and weight for cracking walnuts. The villager in the Shaanxi province of China used it for just that for more than 25 years. Who knows how many thousands of walnuts he cracked… with a hand grenade. Only when he saw a police leaflet depicting forbidden explosives did the man realize his mistake.

The friend who gave him the hand grenade didn’t mean any harm. Neither of them was aware of the dangers involved. They had no intention of doing anything wrong. But they almost killed themselves.

Had the grenade exploded, what sort of excuses would have saved this man?

“My friend said it would be okay.”
“I wasn’t trying to do anything wrong.”
“I’ve done it this way for years and nothing has happened.”
“Nobody told me that this was dangerous.”

We know that excuses wouldn’t protect us from an explosion. So why do we think we can use excuses with God? You know what I mean:

“This is what my family has always believed.”
“My friends all say it doesn’t matter what religion you practice.”
“As long as I’m sincere, I’ll be all right.”

Just as the leaflet showed the Chinese walnut cracker the danger of his actions, the Bible can show us where we might be wrong. It doesn’t matter what our family has always done, what all of our friends believe, or what we feel is correct. What matters is what God has revealed to us through his word.

The Bible says:

“Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.” (James 1:23–25)

Take the time this year to study the Bible. Need a hand getting started? Look for the Discovering Jesus link near the bottom of this page (or just click here). Or write to me at tarcher@heraldoftruth.org, and I’ll give you some tips as to how to begin studying the Bible.


A New You for the New Year

by on Jan.01, 2017, under Hope

New Year’s Day is a time for new beginnings.  The very name reminds us of that.  People have made their new year’s resolutions.  You will hear talk of new beginnings and letting go of the past.  It is a time for a fresh start.  You may have some goals for letting 2017 be the year of a new you.  Financial goals, health goals, relationship goals, and even behavioral goals.

And I suspect some of you set spiritual goals.

A new you for a new year.

You would not be the first to think about the old things you wish would go away with last year’s calendar.  Mistakes and poor choices.  Bad decisions.  People you hurt.  The things you did that you wished you had not done.  The things you did not do that you wish you had done.

You would also not be the first to wonder how to create that new you.  One who would treat people better.  One who would, well… be a better person.  You want to make a difference in this world.  Be part of something bigger than you.  You long for joy, peace, hope, and purpose.

It can happen.  Listen to what a man named Paul wrote in the Bible a long time ago.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

New life is found in Jesus.  Your old self can die and Jesus can make you new.

Look around our website.  Check out some of the videos.  Let me hear from you.

I can help.

Blessings,

steve


Who Doesn’t Love Baby Jesus?

by on Dec.04, 2016, under Hope

It is the time of year when many of us are celebrating the birth of Jesus.  It is a time of mangers and pageants and the story of a baby coming down from heaven. We sing Joy to the World, Away in a Manger, and Silent Night.  We focus on gifts, love, family, and church.  For some of you, this will be one of the two or three times all year you will make it to church.  We celebrate this baby born to save us from our sins. 

So who would not love baby Jesus?

Satan.  Baby Jesus ruined all of his plans.  Sin ruined God’s perfect creation.  Tears, hard work, and pain enter the world.  But God fixes our mistakes.  He forgives our sins.  All because he sent his son to be born of a woman.  A son who would grow up to die on the cross for our sins.  A son that he would raise from the dead.  Jesus.

The powers of this world hate Jesus.  The ways of power in this world are found in violence and coercion, lying and deceiving.  This world is selfish.  Power is exercised to get what we want.  Power is to be gained – and kept – at any and all costs.  Jesus turned this world upside down.  No wonder they tried to kill him even as a baby.  And they failed.  He grew up, he died, and he was raised.  His kingdom still reigns.  His kingdom has outlasted all the rulers and countries of this world.  His rule will never end.

And some of you do not love baby Jesus.  Or, at least you do not love the man he grew up to be.  You ignore him.  You refuse to believe in him.  You live a life different from the Jesus way.  You think about him only occasionally.  Like, well … at Christmas.  And to be honest, you hate that he grew up.  He confronts your sin, and he demands obedience.  He surrendered his life for you and now asks you to surrender your life to him.  He asks you to lose your life in order to find it in Him. 

And you don’t like it. 

But he still loves you.  He did die for you.

Blessings,

steve


In that day you will say: “Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. (Isaiah 12:4)

by on Nov.24, 2016, under Hope

As people in the United States stop to have a day of thanksgiving, let all of us stop and say thanks to the Lord for what he has done. And let’s tell others about God and his goodness!


And yet

by on Nov.20, 2016, under Hope

angels and shepherdsThe last few months have will proven to be a time of drastic contradictions and improbable outcomes.
In the United States we will threatened our neighbors with “Trick or Treat”, and now we offer thankfulness followed by acknowledging a time of offering gifts and love. Ironically we will then plan to do it all again next year.
We also endured a political campaign of egos and personalities who screamed, hurled insults and accusations followed, once the electorate had chosen a “winner”, with the call for unity and healing of wounds in two short months.
I, like you, stand on the edge of the stage of the whirling world, seemingly inept to affect the spiral that sees violence and conflict as the only realities.
And yet, thankfully there is an “and yet,” I am reminded that things here in our world are only temporary. Our faith is grounded in the promise given in the gospel of John, where we are told we have eternal life. As faithful followers of Jesus we believe that:

….God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3:16-17

So while the world around us tilts ever closer to self destruction, and the choices being made offer harsh contradictions of almost horrible conclusions, our focus must be on God and His Son.
Our reality is the And Yet, for God sent Jesus to be born and then to die for each one of us. And offers the hope and promise sung by angels:

Glory to God in highest and on earth peace,
Good will toward men. Luke 2:14

And Yet!

So what are YOU going to do with your “and yets”?


Turning an enemy into a friend

by on Nov.06, 2016, under Hope

Most people remember the bombing of Pearl Harbor during World War II. Fewer remember the bombing of Brookings, Oregon, that occurred in September 1942. 

A Japanese submarine traveled to the U.S. coastline carrying a small plane with folded wings. Once there, the crew used a catapult to launch pilot Nobuo Fujita in the reassembled plane to drop two incendiary bombs on a wooded area near Brookings. His attempt to start a forest fire failed due to rainy weather and quick action by first responders. Fujita repeated the mission two weeks later, dropping two more bombs, but obtained the same results.

After the war, Fujita was remorseful over his attack on this Oregon town. He returned to Brookings in 1962, bearing the gift of a 400-year-old Samurai sword that had been in his family for generations. Fujita later admitted that he fully expected to be physically assaulted when people learned who he was.

Instead of attacking Fujita, the townspeople of Brookings received him warmly, raising money to pay for his trip and presenting him with the key to the city. In return for the kindness shown to him, Fujita donated $1000 to the town library to buy books about Japan; he also paid for several citizens from Brookings to visit Japan. In 1997, Nobuo Fujita was made an honorary citizen of Brookings, Oregon.

Fujita could have lived his entire life without ever seeking to make amends. He could have justified his actions as a natural part of war; he could have continued viewing all U.S. citizens as hated enemies.

The people of Brookings could have sought revenge on their former attacker. They could have rejected his repentance and allowed their enemy to commit suicide.

Instead, both Fujita and the people of Brookings experienced the power of forgiveness. Their lives were richer because they were willing to show love to their enemies.

The apostle Paul wrote:

Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” (Romans 12:19-20)

The best way to get rid of an enemy is to forgive them and make them into a friend. Holding a grudge does no one any good. Jesus taught us to love our enemies and to return good for evil. Doing just that will make us happier and make the world a better place.


You Mean I Have To Go Next Week Too?

by on Oct.23, 2016, under Hope

My grandson Austin started Kindergarten this year and he enjoyed his first week.  Over the weekend, his older brother asked his Mom, Jamie, if she would come have lunch with him.  Austin answered, “Of course we will.”  Jamie then explained to Austin that he could not eat with his brother because he would have to eat at his school.

Austin: “You mean I have to go back next week too?”

It was evidently quite the shock for him.  They were nice enough not to inform him that he would be going almost every week for the next twelve or so years. 

And that reminds of how some people want to follow Jesus.  They are fine with a week or two, but do not always buy in to a lifetime of following him.  Or they do not mind giving up Sunday, but have problems with Christianity being an all-day everyday process. 

Jesus said: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

Following Jesus is to commit to a life of saying no to ourselves so we can say yes to Jesus.  It is to embrace the cross of Jesus.  Every day.  It is a conscious decision you make daily to follow Jesus.  Deciding to do what he would do.  Deciding to not do what he would not do.

So make no mistake.  Jesus offers you a new life here and then life forever after this.  But he expects you to surrender your life to him.  Not just for a day or a week, but from now on.  But it is worth it.  Just ask any of his followers. 

Blessings,

steve



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