Lent, pt. 5

If the speed limit is 65, then people should drive 65. Why is it then, people slow down only when they see a police car?

Maybe one should drive the speed limit because it is the right thing to do.

65 mph

For Lent, the same principle applies. I call it the 40/325 principle.

People go about their business month and after month. Then, almost suddenly, they give up something or do other holy activities for Lent. After Easter, they go back to their regular way of life.

They live regular for 325 days of the year but for 40 days, things change.

Like driving the speed limit, doing the right thing is good simply because it is right.

As a follower of Jesus, why is living in obedience or righteous living only being done part of the time? Shouldn’t I be living for God every day of the year?

Please understand that I realize there are certain times for prayer, fasting, etc.

I am all for making changes in one’s schedule to make time for God. That is what I am trying to do during this Lent season.

People should live right out of love, fear, and respect for God, not because they could get in trouble.

What are my motives during this 40 days?

And that is what I think I need to say:

What is your motive for giving up something during Lent?

You be the judge of your own heart.

And if it means slowing down a bit, I applaud you.

Good night and God bless.

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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.

Cinnamon Melts and Salvation

Twice a month, I meet my pastor for some mentoring time. We usually meet at a McDonald’s that is close to both of us. I would say that I eat breakfast maybe there once every 4 to 5 months. He usually gets coffee or water. It is not the food that draws us but our conversation.

McDonald's logo

But this post has nothing to do with talking to my pastor and everything to do with the food because yesterday, I decided to eat.

Baihley (Yes, she had an ‘H’ in her name) was the cashier yesterday. This conversation is not exactly word for word but pretty close.

 

Me: “Good morning! I would like a Bacon, Egg, Cheese Biscuit please.”

Baihley: “The meal or just the sandwich?”

Me: “Just the sandwich please. And a small orange juice. Oh wait, and the Cinnamon Melts please.”

Baihley: “Ok, the total comes to $7.21.”

Me: “Um….I only have $7. Change the…”

Baihley: “I got this, hold on.”

Me: “What?”

Baihley: “The total comes to $5.23.” (She had a big grin on her face at this point)

Me: “Thank you. Not necessary but thank you.”


 

I do not know if Baihley is a manager but she gave me Cinnamon Melts for free.

1 Bacon, Egg, Cheese Biscuit = $3.19

1 Small Orange Juice = $1.79

1 Cinnamon Melts = $0.00

 

I am no one special. I had no coupon. It was not a special item on the menu. In fact, as far as I could tell, there was absolutely nothing that should have allowed me to receive free Cinnamon Melts. I did not deserve it. I did not earn it. I did nothing. It was all Baihley. I just said ‘Thank you.’

Here is that same paragraph with two words changed:

I am no one special. I had no coupon. It was not a special item on the menu. In fact, as far as I could tell, there was absolutely nothing that should have allowed me to receive free Forgiveness. I did not deserve it. I did not earn it. I did nothing. It was all God. I just said ‘Thank you.’


 

God is so extensively rich and vast in His love and mercy. He already paid the price. I have accepted His gift and now follow Christ with all my heart. Get past your past. Stop trying to earn something that is un-earnable. Your works-based mentality can keep you from experiencing God. Live today for Him. Say ‘thank you’ by living for Him.

Your actions will never earn salvation, they will only display it.

 

How far to Wall Drug from here?

Have you ever seen this a billboard or bumper sticker like this?

wall drug

In my road trip out west, we encountered numerous Wall Drug signs. See my previous posts of my Yellowstone trip for some background info.

Wall Drug is a small town in western South Dakota. It’s near Mt. Rushmore and the Badlands. But you probably would not drive there just to see Wall Drug. It makes a great pit stop when seeing many other attractions. And for us, it was the last stop before heading east, back home.

As far as a tourist trap, this one sets out a fantastic bait. There are signs for miles and miles in every direction telling that Wall Drug is getting closer. They advertise anything and everything. If curiosity killed the cat then I am glad I am not a cat. I don’t recall when I first heard about Wall Drug but I feel like I have know about all my life. Mt. Rushmore, the Badlands, the Grand Canyon, and similar places are places you just know about. Wall Drug is like that. You just always know that it is a real place. They have really good marketing! Like this picture I found online.

Wall_Drug_Sign-afghanistan

When you are at Wall Drug, there are, of course, the shops. But I found that the real treasure was in all of the pictures they have hanging on any available wall. Pictures of all things Wall Drug. Like the one of the marine. There were hundreds of people from all over the world with signs saying how far Wall Drug was from their location. It was bizarre and fascinating!


Acts 1:8 says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Jesus says that the disciples would be empowered to be witnesses. Not lawyers, judges, or even jury members but simply witnesses. They were supposed to tell what they have seen and heard.

Isn’t that what these Wall Drug signs that are scattered all over the earth are doing? They, in a very clear manner, state that Wall Drug is X miles away. They might have pictures or sayings on them as well. But they are not Wall Drug. The signs are just that, signs. They tell of something else.

When people see your life, what message are they getting? John the Baptist was a sign. He was very clear that he was not the Christ. Read the full story here.

I close with these thoughts:

  • I am a sign and so are you.
  • God has filled His followers with His Spirit.
  • He can help us to display the right message.
  • What are people reading in your life?

 

By the way, Google maps tell me that I am 775 miles from Wall Drug.

What do you get when you remove 450,000 tons of rock?

Welcome back. Thank you for taking two minutes out of your day. With that said, you might need more than two minutes to read this post.

Mt. Rushmore. Perhaps once of the most recognizable landmarks in our nation. And, given the effort it took to create it, it only stands to reason that Mt. Rushmore deserves such recognition.

mount rushmore

As we were driving around the curvy road towards Mt. Rushmore, I was giddy inside. I was about to see something that I had known about my whole life. From very early memories, Mt. Rushmore has always been on my “list”. It was finally happening. And I was not disappointed. There is, of course, the monument but there are many things to see and do while at the park. The end of the day culminates with a program that is informative and inspirational. There is no way that I can, within a few sentences, describe the beauty and majesty of Mt. Rushmore. So I won’t even try. You need to see it for yourself.


What I am going to try to do is to draw a parallel. Yep, you guessed it. There is a connection between Mt. Rushmore and God’s Word. So first, here is a brief explanation on how they measured the mountain before blasting or carving.

The sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, created a model of the four presidents. It was basically a scaled-down version of the mountain that fit into a building. This would be the starting point for the sculpture. One inch on the model was equal to one foot on the mountain. On top of the model was a disk that had 360 degrees on it. A pole would hang out over the face from which a plumb line hung. The plumb line would hang at a certain length and the pole would be at a certain degree. Measurements would be taken. Using the scale (1 inch = 1 foot), the sculptors could transfer the measurements directly to the mountain. In theory, if the measurements were accurate and precise, the mountain will look exactly like the model. This process was repeated hundreds of time to get the faces just right.

You and I are like Mt. Rushmore. No, we don’t look like Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, or Lincoln but we are being “carved out”. Within the context of sculpting, listen to this passage of scripture: “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Emphasis mine. Phil. 1:3-6

I see it like this. We are ever being made into the image of Jesus. Christ-followers. Jesus is the perfect model of what our lives could look like.

IF, we let God do the sculpting. The Bible is the standard for measurement. God measures us and our lives against His word.

God wants to chisel away our imperfections. He desires to hammer out the rough patches. Those sinful tendencies? Dynamite can take care of those.  Addictions and bad habits? God has a spiritual jack-hammer all primed and ready to go. All we need to do is to surrender to Him.

 


 

Mt. Rushmore took 14 years to create. How long will it take God to make you perfect? Not really sure if there is a solid answer for that question but at least we know that God will never give up. The Word says that “…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion…”

Are you filled with hope by that verse? I am. There have been countless times that the scripture has pointed out my flaws. And, if I am honest, I have not always done anything about it. I shut out God. Read My Haiti Experience: Chosen…part 1 for some background.

But not today. I welcome Him. God is doing a great work in me and if you let Him, He will work on you too. I leave you with this:

 

READ His Word.

LET Him Work.