Monday, August 27, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, August 27, 2018

Beauty Beneath the Fog

I travelled 3000 miles away from home for a work trip in Ireland and managed to squeeze in a bit of sightseeing. Having fond memories of a childhood movie, Princess Bride, I was more than excited to travel to see the magnificent Cliffs of Moher. After an hour drive in a tour bus, we arrive at our destination only to find the entire area covered in a thick fog. The weather had been quite dreary for the past few days with intermittent drizzling and that morning the fog completely obscured our view. I was in disbelief. I came this far from home, I only have one day for me to see this wonder and I couldn’t see anything! But they were there, and I knew it.

Sometimes in life the fog is too thick. We can’t see right from left, up from down. We want to believe that God has a plan and that it will “all work out for good” (Romans 8:28), but we can’t help but think that this time we are doomed. Your fog may be a new diagnosis, a lost job, a family member in crisis, a failed relationship, or the death of a loved one. Things just don’t seem to add up. You did the “right things” made the “right decisions” and the outcome seems completely unfair. During these times, it is nearly impossible to see the beauty around us, but God does.

The Bible says that He knows the plans he has for us, plans for good and not for disaster, to give us a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11). He knows our end from our beginning (Isaiah 46:10). He says He will be a lamp for our feet and light for our path (Psalm 119:105).

As I walked the path to view the cliffs, I saw multiple signs pointing to where they were, but I couldn’t see a thing. I had to believe they were there. Fortunately, in about 20 minutes the wind blew the thick fog away and I saw one of the most beautiful sights I had ever seen. 

I don’t know how you felt when you woke up this morning. Perhaps, you too have a fog in your life. Remember, that this is only temporary. Follow the signs and trust God. He will guide our every step and give us beauty instead of ashes, joy instead of mourning, and allow us to be filled with praise instead of despair (Isaiah 61:3). He did not bring you this far to leave you (Deuteronomy 31:6)! 

Romans 8:28
New Living Translation (NLT)
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Jeremiah 29:11
New Living Translation (NLT)
11 For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Isaiah 46:10New International Version (NIV)
10 I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, 'My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.'

Psalm 119:105
New Living Translation (NLT)
105 Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.

Isaiah 61:3
New Living Translation (NLT)
To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory.

Deuteronomy 31:6
New Living Translation (NLT)
So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, August 20, 2018

Jesus Is Our Truth

On Sunday, August 19, 2018, on “Meet The Press”, the moderator Chuck Todd and the president’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, had an amazing exchange.  Part of the official transcript of that conversation was, “Look, I am not going to be rushed into having him testify so that he gets trapped into perjury,” Giuliani said. “And when you tell me that, you know, he should testify because he’s going to tell the truth and he shouldn’t worry, well that’s so silly because it’s somebody’s version of the truth. Not the truth. He didn’t have a, a conversation …”
TODD: Truth is truth. I don’t mean to go like…
GIULIANI: No, it isn’t truth. Truth isn’t truth. The president of the United States says, “I didn’t…”

The Bible states that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).  He will not contradict Himself; He is truth.  The Bible says that that truth that we know will set us free (John 8:32). We need an absolute truth and not truths that slip and slide and change according to the situation.  Jesus said the when the Spirit of Truth or the Holy Spirit arrives; He will guide us into all truth (James 16:13).

This is the world in which we live. To paraphrase Mark Twain, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, deceptions and statistics.” The devil, the Father of lies has no truth in him (John 8:44) and always tries to lead us away from the truth in Christ. In spite of who says what, let us seek the truth in Christ’s word, His commandments, His promises, and His love. Unlike the lies of the world system, the truth in Jesus never fails. His truth will set us free.

John 14:6 
New International Version (NIV)
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 8:32
New International Version (NIV)
32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 16:13
New International Version (NIV)
13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

John 8:44
New International Version (NIV)
44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, August 13, 2018

Our God Guides Us Through Life

Mark Manson, in October 30, 2013, wrote an article entitled “9 Subtle Lies We All Tell Ourselves.”  One of his concluding comments was, “Our lives are defined by nothing but glorified best guesses, a constant process of trial-and-error.”  While it is true that life can be confusing, disappointing, and stressful, it would be sad to believe that we are all simply meandering around while conjecturing which path to take next in life.

Those who love the Lord are not limited to best guesses.  The Bible says God guides our steps (Psalm 37:23).  He promises that He will be a Good Shepherd for us and will lead us into productive ventures (Psalm 23:1-3).  We do not have to be afraid of what is around the next corner in life because God is with us (Psalm 23:4).  The scripture says that mankind is God’s work and we are a work in progress that He will complete (Psalm 138:8).  He wants to do mighty works for us during our lifetimes (2 Chronicles 16:9 (a)).

We are not just a lucky guess away from disaster because He will give us directions as we make our turns in life (Isaiah 30:21).  He is a tried and true friend.  Even when we find ourselves in trouble, God is a very present help.  Let us rest in the knowledge that even when we may worry, our God knows our end from our beginning and always shows us which path we should take. 

Psalm 37:23
New International Version (NIV)
23 The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him

Psalm 23:1-3New International Version (NIV)
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.

Psalm 23:4
New International Version (NIV)
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 138:8
Amplified Bible (AMP)
The Lord will accomplish that which concerns me;
Your [unwavering] lovingkindness, O Lord, endures forever—
Do not abandon the works of Your own hands.

2 Chronicles 16:9 (a)
New International Version (NIV)
For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him

Isaiah 30:21
New International Version (NIV)
21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

Monday, August 6, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, August 6, 2018

Let’s Speak Kindly To Each Other

In the play, The Merchant of Venice, William Shakespeare wrote, “The quality of mercy is not strained; it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It is twice blest; it blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”  It is amazing how many people choose to ignore these blessings. From vicious tweets, sexist body shaming, and angry conspiratorial lies to everyday humiliating insults, few seem to want to be left out of these hurtful attacks.  

But the Bible says that goodness and mercy shall follow us all of our lives (Psalm 23:6).  God says the merciful are blessed because they shall receive mercy (Matthew 5:7).  Showing mercy is part of the basic requirements of God, which is to act justly, love mercy and to walk humbly with Him (Micah 6:8). Coming before God in the Day of Judgment, we cannot expect to be applauded for how often we made others cry. The Bible says we are to lift others up with what we say (Ephesians 4:29). Furthermore, we are to treat others, as we would like to be treated.  

This week let us carefully consider our written and spoken words and decide whether we would like to receive them from others.  God said that vengeance is His alone and He will repay those attacks (Romans 12:19). Instead of escalating hurtful comments and raging threats, let us take advice of the Bible and remember that a soft answer turns away wrath (Proverbs 15:1).

Psalm 23:6
King James Version (KJV)
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Matthew 5:7
New International Version (NIV)
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Micah 6:8
New International Version (NIV)
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? He requires us to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Ephesians 4:29
Amplified Bible (AMP)
29 Do not let unwholesome [foul, profane, worthless, vulgar] words ever come out of your mouth, but only such speech as is good for building up others, according to the need and the occasion, so that it will be a blessing to those who hear [you speak].

Romans 12:19
New International Version (NIV)
19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

Proverbs 15:1
New International Version (NIV)
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.