Kindling and cliches.

Happy New Year! You will hear that phrase many times today. Maybe 50 times. 100? Who knows. No doubt, there will be some people who actually mean it. They are sincere in wishing you a happy 2019.

But there are others who say it just because it is a good thing to say. They are using a cliché. Just hollow words.

I don’t mean to be negative minded today. Personally, when I hear that phrase, it will be fuel to my fire.

pouring_gasoline_on_fire

When I say fuel to my fire, I am referring to two verses in the New Testament.

II Timothy 1:6-7

“6For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”

2019 can be a miraculous year. See my last post for details. Anatomy of a Miracle

Those verses have been familiar to me for most of my life. Very recently though, they took new meaning for me.

Catch the second part of verse 6. These words can be revolutionary.

“…which is in you…”

Everything God needs to accomplish His will is already in you. He put it there when you were being formed in the womb. All your life, you have had the skill, talent, ability, resource, etc. for exactly what God will have you do.

But sometimes it is easy to forget that fact.

So whether the ‘Happy New Years’ you hear today are heart-felt or empty words, remember this: fan into flame the gift of God!

Let those clichés turn into kindling!

fan into flame

Make the choice to use the stuff of life to grow the fire in you.

Who knows, something might just catch on fire!

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What?!?! Another cliffhanger?!

You know those shows. The ones that leave you hanging at the end of each episode? My wife and I are binge watching LOST right now. And let me tell you, almost every episode is a cliffhanger. It certainly wants you to keep watching! 

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And that is what got me thinking. We don’t watch much TV in our home. But we have been lately. And we are only on Season 2 of 6! Yes, we have been on a binge.

Normally, the word binge is something that is negative. People binge on food or alcohol. As you know, I struggled with a pornography addiction. There were times when I would binge on it. Binging is bad.

But what if we decided to binge on something good?

Why does it have to be bad to fill your heart, mind, and soul to the point where you are consumed with it? It consumes you. You think about it all the time. Your family and friends know all about it because that is all you talk about. You binge and binge because you can’t get enough. Simply, you are not satisfied.

Then God’s word came to mind. There are a few verses that specifically spoke to me. 

I Thessalonians 4:1-2 “more and more”

Isaiah 40:28 “his understanding no one can fathom”

Isaiah 55:8-9 “my thoughts are not your thoughts”

Ephesians 3:20 “to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine”

Philippians 3:12-14 “straining toward what is ahead”

Friends, these verses talk about God being bigger than we are. Paul was describing how he wanted more of God. And there was more to have. The prophet Isaiah was explaining that we could not comprehend God or his ways.

Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning, God created…” 

The world was created by God! We can’t know Him fully! It just can’t happen.

  • That is why I think binging can be good. As long as you are filling yourself with God and His word. Is it possible to get enough of God? In my opinion, no. It won’t ever happen.

Two thoughts I leave with you:

  1. We get to read the end of the book so we know how all of this ends. That means, no cliffhangers! Sure, you may not know what tomorrow holds but you can know who holds tomorrow.
  2. Even though you can’t know all of God, you will be satisfied by him and yet you will still crave for more of him at the same time. Welcome to the great paradox.

Divine Deluge!

“Oh the weather outside is frightful…” Actually, it has been raining a lot here in Green Bay. We are truly wondering if we will have a white Christmas.

Monday morning, I was driving to work. At a particular stop light, I normally turn left. However, I could not turn left because the road was closed. There was a police car and some orange barricades. As I drove straight, I looked to see why the road was shut down. Flooding. There was a 40-foot section of road that was covered in water. I just had to go a few extra blocks out of my way to get to the Olive Garden.

Here is the ironic part. I was listening to the worship song, “Open Up the Heavens.” One of the lines in the song says, “Open up the floodgates. A mighty river. Flowing from your heart…”

So that song is playing and I am seeing some flooding happening right before my eyes. That whole scenario got my brain thinking.

flash_floods

Historically, floods have always been associated with destruction. Noah and the ark ring a bell? I lived in Minneapolis, MN during the flooding of 1993. I still recall some of those images. In 2013, my wife and I were in New Orleans. On a tour of the city, we saw flood damage from Hurricane Katrina. You can probably recall some flooding in the recent past as well. Here is a funny picture from Alberta, Canada.

CALGARY, ALBERTA.:  JUNE 21, 2013 --  Blake Wartenbe catches his wife Desiree as she jumps over flowing water in a flooded downtown Calgary, Alberta on June 21, 2013. For City story by ? (Leah Hennel/Calgary Herald)

CALGARY, ALBERTA.: JUNE 21, 2013 — Blake Wartenbe catches his wife Desiree as she jumps over flowing water in a flooded downtown Calgary, Alberta on June 21, 2013. For City story by ? (Leah Hennel/Calgary Herald)

Here are two observations of mine:

  1. Flooding will cause diversion. You may have to travel a different path due to road conditions.
  2. Flooding will cause destruction.  There is always cleanup after a flood.

 

Let’s look at a flood from a different perspective now, not a historical one.

Flooding can be a good thing when a spiritual perspective is adopted. Think about God’s heart for a moment. Can you fathom how much love it contains? Is there a limit to the grace and mercy of the Almighty? What levy is going to hold it all back? When God decides to pour out His spirit, nothing can stop. It will go where it pleases and do what it wants. Spiritual flooding is a good thing. Let’s look at those two items again.

  1. Flooding will cause diversion. In my sin, I need to be diverted now and then. Sometimes, I don’t see the end result but God does. He loves me too much for me to go down that road. A flooding of God’s spirit can divert me from sin. I like that.
  2. Flooding will cause destruction. Every time I choose something other than God, I am building my own kingdom. Ultimately, my kingdom will end in ruin. A great crash is coming. God’s flooding can destroy the works that I am trying to do. This is a good thing. Now, with my ugly excuses for a kingdom cleared away, God can begin building HIS Kingdom in my life. The destruction was necessary. Rebuilding the new requires destruction of the old.

 

If you like a challenge, let me set one out for you.

For the next week, ask God to flood your life.

Ask Him to fill your heart with extra compassion during this particular season.

Ask Him to break your heart for the lost souls around you.

Ask Him to cleanse your heart from all sin.

Ask Him to prepare your heart for great and mighty things to come.

Go ahead and ask for a flood. But be careful because He may just do it.

Is your couch comfortable?

Last night, my wife and I purchased our first couch. Ever.

When we got married, we used her furniture because it was nicer and cleaner than the stuff I had. At some point, we inherited a couch and love seat from the in-laws. The green couch in the basement was purchased from some friends. We have never had a new couch. So, after 15 years of marriage, we decided that we were ready to get our own couch. It looks something like this:

couch

It was pretty cool because the whole order was 25% off. We are thrifty like that. So then I started thinking about a couch and why we have one. All you really do is sit down on it. Sure, there can be a nap or two but the primary reason for a couch is so a person has a place to sit. Sitting down. You know that feeling when you have a long day at work and you know that your favorite show is calling your name. After dinner and the dishes, after the kids go to sleep, after you pull weeds in the garden, after you check your email, after a quick, refreshing shower, you can finally sit down. Flick on the TV and enjoy your show while you sit on your nice comfy couch. Sounds pretty good, right?

At some point in the past, there was a famous person who sat down. The work was complete. The task finished. To-do list? Yep, checked off every box.

All that was left was to sit down. After all, isn’t that what you do when you are done working?


 

So who is this famous person? And why did they sit down? As I like do in almost every post, let’s let the bible answer these questions for us.

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” NIV

 

These verses are some of my favorite. This is how the book of Hebrews begins. When I quote scripture in my posts I will almost always use the New International Version or NIV. For those of you who are literature fans, I have included the same three verses but from the Kings James Version, KJV. I think I like it even better than the NIV.

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” KJV

 

There is a lot of theology in those words but this post is focused on just one of those words. Sat. Think about Jesus for a minute. He knows that his life is almost over. He has been hanging on that cross for hours now. The physical limits of the human body have been pushed way beyond their maximum levels.  It is my guess that the physical pain probably does not even begin to compare to the emotional and mental strain of having to take on the sins of the entire human race upon your shoulders. But Jesus knew that this was the way. And he stuck with it.

He loved us too much to call the angels for help.

He loved us too much to rip himself from that cross.

He loved us too much to call down lighting on his executioners.

He loved us too much to give in and quit early.

The text says that “after he had provided…he sat down”. God gave Jesus a job to do. Jesus completed that job and so know he gets to sit down right next to his father.

Do you think they have couches in heaven? Who knows? I wonder if they have the Ottomans that have storage as well as being a footstool?


 

Let me hit this home. So what are you and I doing about what Jesus did? Are we sitting on the couch waiting for God to miraculously move in the hearts of men and women? Do we sit around waiting for the Holy Spirit to motivate us into action?

As a follower of Christ, I must share the truth with you. I am compelled. If you have not placed your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, contact me and I will show you in the Word what needs to be done. But if you are a fellow follower, than get up and get going.

P.S. I think there are couches upon which we can sit when we get to heaven. =-)

 

 

 

 

Jars, the final episode.

Have you had your fill of jars yet? One more post today about these wonderful and boring items. Let’s look at John 2:1-11

“On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.”

This is an interesting story about Jesus just coming onto the scene with a big-time miracle. He even said that it was not his time to be revealed. But I don’t want to focus on that part of this story. As you may have guessed, let’s focus on the jars.

There were six jars. Huge jars. They were nearby. I am not sure what they had been used for in the past but at the present time, they were empty. Not being used.

Jesus said to fill the jars. First point to us: Jesus might want to use something in our lives that is, presently, empty and not being used.

What is in your life that is collecting dust? I am not specifically referring to an item but something more like a talent or ability. Do you sing? Maybe you are an artist of some sort. Can you build stuff with your hands? These things and so many more are like the jars from the story. We have them nearby. They are empty but may have been used at another time. Listen, is Jesus asking for the jars?

So they filled them to the brim. Second point to us: Whenever Jesus is asking something, go full tilt. Do it all the way. 

20 to 30 gallons. That is a lot of water. Even half of that would have been a lot. But the servants filled the jars all the way to the top. I think Jesus would have turned the water into wine regardless of how much water was in the jars. That is my view. So, why not fill them completely?

Whatever God is asking of you, give him your all. Fill your jars to the brim. Maybe even fill them to the point of sacrifice. It may cost you, yes, but it will be worth it all. Like the old song says, “It will be worth it all when we see His face.” From the song entitled “It Will Be Worth it All”

I will end with a question that I am asking myself as much as I am asking you.

What jars is Jesus asking me to fill in my life today?