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.

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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.

 

 

Stay in the game. No matter what.

Monday night was epic. At least in my world. You see, I play co-ed softball for my church. In fact, I have been playing for 10 years and coaching for the last 8 of those. Our team is 8-0 this year. I don’t think that I have ever been 8-0 in a season before, ever. This year has been different. We keep winning. This last win was an epic come-from-behind win on Monday night. Not only did we come back to win, we did it in a crazy, abnormal kind of way. Let me explain.

softball glove and ball

We were the home team. The other team bats first and they score 5 runs in the first inning. Not good. I was starting to think this could be a long night. We only scored 1 run that inning. Second inning saw no score for either team. After the third inning, there was a small ray of hope as we edged closer. The score was 6-4 but we were still losing. The next three innings came and went. We scored nothing and they added 4 more runs. After 6 innings, they had 10 and we had 4. This does not look good at all.

So here we go. The 7th and final inning. They are up to bat. In the first six innings, we have made some major errors. If I think about it, we committed more errors in these 6 innings than we have all year-long. But being the optimist that I am, I still think there is a chance. And kudos to my team, they never gave up. So, we get the three outs before they score any runs. Now we get to bat. Down by 6 and only three outs before the game is over.

We are at the top of our lineup. I hit a double to lead off the inning. The next two batters both get on base and I score. 1 run. Our #4 hitter hits a long fly ball and both our runners tag up and score. 2 runs. Batters 5 and 6 get on base and batter number 7 hits a shot to right center. He is fast. At this point, I am coaching first base. As soon as he hits, I start waving my arms yelling at him to score. Like he needs any encouragement. =-) So his hit scores 3 more runs.

You doing the math? Game is tied! And, we only have 1 out! Batter #8 hits a blooper which is caught. Now there are 2 outs and our #9 batter steps up to the plate. Here is the funny part. He has almost no experience in playing softball. He does not even own a glove! What’s more is that he is a soccer dude. As a player and referee, he knows the game of soccer. He has only batted up 8 or 9 times this year. This is it. It comes down to him. He may not be a softball expert but he has heart. And the heart matters. He hits a routine fly ball to the right fielder. Now all he has to do is run. Run Forest Run! And boy can he run. He plays soccer! Of course he can run! He proceeded to run around the bases so fast that they didn’t even bother making a play on him at home. 1 more run.

And we win! 11-10! I am not really sure if my words are doing it justice but it was absolutely one of my favorite softball moments. It will stick in my mind for a long time.

funny softball pic

 


Switching gears. We live in an evil world. Sin is blatant and rampant. I don’t really watch the news because it seems that everything is bad. Why just tonight, my wife told me that Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy broke up! What!??! What is this world coming to? Death and destruction, without putting too fine a point on it. Hell. That is what this world is coming to. And doesn’t it seem like God isn’t really doing anything? Do you ever feel like the evil is so much and the good is so little? How can I, one out of 8 billion, make a difference? 

I think our world is in the 7th inning. We have one last at bat. There have been lots of mistakes but the game isn’t over yet. There is one more batter to go. He may not appear to be everything we would hope for but he has heart. And the heart matters. Here are some verses from Matthew 24

1Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. 2“Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” 3As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” 4Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 6You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.7Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8All these are the beginning of birth pains. 9“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

 

Note verse 13. You see, it is not about being the best or having all the talent. It is about staying in the game. I am glad that I stayed in Monday night’s game.

No matter what, you need to stay in the game.

You screwed up?

Your sin comes out?

You feel like throwing in the towel?

Your friends are leaving you?

Divorce?

Addictions?

Jesus says to you, “Stay in the game. I love you. I will come for you. Keep playing and stay in the game.”

So be encouraged. Stay in the game friend!!!