Cause and Affect

As time goes by we hear or read about how certain things we eat or that compose a part of what we eat affect our health. One example is coffee. There have been times when we are told that coffee is not good for us. Then we are told that nutritionists have found that it is good for us. The latest is sugar. I have read that sugar is the major cause of cancer. It certainly is a problem for diabetics, of which I am one. I have to be very careful to limit carbohydrates, including sugar, to prevent all the horrible results of diabetes. Another problem is salt. I could go on and on. Too much is bad stuff.

On the other hand, there are two things–not food–that cause serious physical problems: a lack of forgiveness and a lack of thankfulness. Books have been written describing how physical illnesses are very often caused by emotion, worry, fear, etc. If you are a believer in what the Bible has to say about these two issues, you will agree. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us to “give thanks in all circumstances.” Why? Because it is God’s will. One reason is that in spite of the fact that we live in a dark and evil world God is at work. Today the culture calls evil good and good evil, but the Bible says that God takes evil and uses it for good. We don’t always know why or how, but if we know God at all, we know it’s true. He took the evil desire of the Jewish leaders to be rid of Jesus and used it to complete His purpose of providing salvation for all who believe.  Thankfulness is a connection to the One who loves us. This leads to forgiveness. Do you find it difficult to forgive someone who has mistreated or insulted you? Do you ever think about what Jesus did for us on the cross? He gave His life as the penalty for our sin. He forgave us. Why? Because He loves us and wants all people to be a part of His family. Colossians 3:13 says, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Jesus said as He was dying in unbelievable suffering on the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Amazing, but true. Can we do any better?

Why Worry?

I have heard or read about anxiety being just a normal thing we have to put up with now and then. According to the Bible it is not normal. At least, it shouldn’t be. Anxiety for many reasons breaks into our thinking often, I agree, but it doesn’t have to rule over us. My book, Transformation The Servant’s Heart–A Life of Faith speaks to this problem. A lesson I prepared for my cell group lead me to write the book. It begins with the solution for anxiety, fear and worry. The key is belief and trust in God. That might worry some, but it shouldn’t. Philippians 4:6, 7 tells us not to worry about anything–that’s right–not anything! There is an alternative. In every situation that may cause worry, we are to turn to God in prayer and supplication. That requires a relationship, one that is open to anyone who desires it. God invites us to bring the problem to Him. There is another key word. Come to Him with thanksgiving. In other words, come to Him in trust. Believe He will do what He says and thank Him for it. The result is peace of heart. This may sound strange, but God’s peace is described as being beyond our comprehension. A lot of God does is beyond our understanding, but He is trustworthy. The part of Transformation that talks about this subject goes deeper, laying a foundation for a knowing God and knowing Him better. God bless.

Doing it on your own, with the best of intentions

I started turning wood a few years ago when my son offered me a lathe at a very reasonable price. About two years ago I got serious about learning to do a good job at it. Like anything, practice makes perfect. Well, hardly perfect, but with much improvement in the quality of my creations. Turning wood is kind of like the Christian life. Study and practice is important in both. To turn a chunk of wood into a beautiful bowl or a vase requires following certain procedures. Living for Christ requires knowing through His Word and practicing His desire and will. It results in a beautiful relationship. It turns darkness into light. Yesterday I was nearly finished with a bowl that was different than any I had ever made. The reason was that I had some new scrapers that made it possible to do something different. Suddenly I had a “catch.” A catch occurs when the gouge or chisel catches on the spinning wood and you lose control of it. The result can be disastrous. At the very least, the smooth cuts you are making on the wood are scratched, torn, even ruined. It happens because you aren’t making the proper contact with wood. My wood was not harmed, but the base of the tool rest broke off, making the lathe useless. I was doing it my way and not following the procedure that prevents such errors. Kind of like our Christian life when we do things on our own self sufficiency or trusting ourselves. Ephesians 2:10 tells us that God has prepared the work for us to do. Amazingly, when He calls us to do something, He enables and prepares us to do it right–as He wants the work done. As far as my problem with the lathe, I prayed that God would help me fix the problem. Guess what? I got online and found on eBay the tool rest base, the exact one for that model of lathe. The amazing thing is that my lathe is very old and replacement parts are not available–except on eBay. When we need what we don’t have spiritually, don’t turn to eBay, but to the Creator and Sustainer of all things. All things are possible with Him.

Darkness into Light

Years ago I worked in a mine in Northern Idaho. One day I was working alone and the thought came to me: What would it be like if I didn’t have light. The only light I had was a head lamp. I switched it off. The darkness was like a gigantic black weight falling on me. I waited for my eyes to adjust. It suddenly dawned on me that there was nothing to adjust to. There was no light to adjust to.

The day I made the choice of accepting Jesus as my Savior was the day I moved from darkness into light. My life changed immediately. I had no more desire for alcohol. I began to think differently. My life is still changing and will continue to do so. There is no end to learning from the Word of God. I find something new repeatedly. One of the things I realized long ago is that Jesus not only becomes my Savior, but must become my Lord. That is a difficult thing for many, including myself at times. We are so self important, so self sufficient, so prideful. We don’t need any help. We belong to Jesus. We were bought with a price, His death on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins, which are many. Can you imagine a holy, sinless God sacrificing Himself for the sins of people who don’t deserve what He did? Some think that we must do good things to earn our salvation. Think about it. How could we give or do anything that would excel what God has done. It’s impossible. Jesus said, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord and don’t do what I commanded you?” A good and serious question. His command is to love Him, that is God, and to love our neighbors. Not only that, we are to love those who persecute us or are our enemies.

Some would reject the idea of becoming the servant of God, but Jesus laid aside His Glory and came to earth to die for us. He came in an attitude of humility, doing nothing except what His Father told him to do. In the end He was exalted and we are promised the same. God doesn’t make promises that He doesn’t fulfill. Jesus is the light of life and promises eternal life, beginning now and going on forever in the perfect way that He originally created to be. Think about it.

 

What comes after

I have found that writing a book, getting it published and marketing it is very challenging. However it is also very rewarding when readers tell me that they benefited from from what they read. Since a third of my book, Transformation The Servants Heart–A Life of Faith is about pride, I have to be careful about how I relate that people were benefited. I am very grateful that that is the case for some. However, I have learned also that if I were to rewrite the book I would make some drastic changes, not because there was anything wrong about the subjects, but that there would be so much more to be added that would strengthen these subjects. I am humbled as I read the Bible and discover more and different scriptures that would have added new meaning to each of the issues, Anxiety, Hypocritical love and Humility. I’m sure that everyone who reads this has heard the statement that the more we think we know, the less we actually know; the more there is to learn. That applies not only to writers, but to almost everyone who’s involved in anything: politics, business, teaching, etc. I am presently involved in Bible Study Fellowship. We are studying the Gospel of John. If you are familiar with the method of study in BSF, you know that we study each lesson in four different ways. In the study of John, I’ve felt there is so much more to learn than appears on the service. As I was having difficulty answering the lesson questions, I discovered a statement about the book of John by J. Sidlow Baxter, who wrote in his Explore the Book that there is no end to the learning in that scripture. I felt better, knowing that a scholar like Baxter felt the same. So, I can say then, if you read my book I hope it will lead you to a more profound and deep study of the Word of God, the Bible. God is good.

The Edge of Good

“Breathes there a man with soul so dead, who never to himself hath said, ‘This is my own, my native land.'” I don’t know if you have to be as old as I am to remember this poetic beginning. At my age I find myself having trouble remembering  things, but this first liner I have never forgotten. In this age of confusion, contradiction and division it is something that everyone should cling to. It should be the foundation of how we feel about America. In spite of the endless trouble it is still our own, our native land. The meaning of the sentence is vital. Are we so dead that we have given up the positive possibilities? We may feel like we are standing on the edge of a rocky cliff, but is it more difficult to believe that we are on the edge of many good things that are happening everywhere? If you can’t think of anything else, pay attention to the generosity of the people who live in Magic Valley and in the rest of the State of Idaho too. Food by the tons are donated for families that are in dire need. Many organizations collect presents for children who otherwise might receive even one gift. The numbers are many. Give thanks, not just on the yearly holiday, but for the gifts we all receive in one way or another. The Bible says to give thanks in all circumstances. Some might wonder how that is to be accepted, but there is a God who cares about every human being on this planet and gave the greatest gift of all to any one who will accept it. Gifts aren’t worked for, and this one is far beyond any labor that could be added. Thank you.

Climbing the Stairs

The book, Transformation The Servant’s Heart–A Life of Faith is the first step to a higher level. It speaks of three issues that every person in the world faces at least part of the time. Christians are included, and that is who the focus is pointed toward. Why? Because believers in Christ have no excuse for living with these issues in their lives. The three are Anxiety, Insincere Love, and Pride. All three are expressions of sin. For a non-believer to acknowledge this is the first step toward salvation. For the believer they are the first step toward a realistic relationship with God. The higher level I mentioned is God’s Word. In no way does Transformation compare to the Word of God, but it is an effort for the reader to realize his or her need for dealing with the three issues. All three issues are crucial to a good relationship with God or any relationship at all. Anxiety is a block against trusting God. Insincere love is a violation of the greatest commandment as identified by Jesus: Loving God with all our heart, soul and mind, and loving our neighbors, including our enemies. Pride is probably the greatest barrier to any relationship with God there is. Self importance denies the sovereignty of the Lord. Transformation is only a starting point, on the edge. God’s Word, the Bible is the fulfillment of truth. God comes first–always. I encourage anyone to read Transformation and to think seriously about what it says and how it refers to attitudes that maim and destroy. Christmas is coming. Think about this book as a useful and enjoyable present. Many readers have said this book has changed their lives. For that I am grateful. My hope is that many more will have the same experience. Thanks be to God.

A day of God’s blessing

I have been selling my book Transformation The Servant’s Heart — A Life of Faith  at the local Farmer’s Market each Saturday morning for most of the summer. It hasn’t become a best seller, but I’m pleased with the sales. Each morning I pray that if it be God’s will, I sell at least one book. Today was the final day of the market. Yesterday it poured rain all day and into the night. The weather man said today would be sunny and nice with a little breeze. I wasn’t sure I wanted to take the chance. Following our Friday cell group, the men usually agree to have coffee together on Saturday morning. I decided to drop the Farmer’s Market if the guys invited me to have coffee. They didn’t, so I decided to go by the actual morning weather. I packed the car with the canopy, tables, etc., just in case. This morning’s sky was laden with stars, no breeze, and not too chilly. In the last hour of the market I sold two books. I also sell wooden items that I turn on my lathe. I’ve sold a lot of them, as amateurish as I am, and I know I have a long way to go to reach really good quality products. An elderly man stopped and looked at the wood  items and began to talk about turning wood. He used some of my items to demonstrate how to do it better. I knew the problems he was talking about, and learned much by listening to him.  He introduced himself. I knew of him and his many talents, but didn’t know he was a professional wood turner. He invited me to call for help and instruction any time. Another man stopped by and wanted to know something about my book. It is a Christian focused book and I was sure he wasn’t a Believer. He wondered how someone could write a book. I told him that God did most of it, because He answered my prayers when I lacked a word or an idea–every time. The man asked, “Is it some kind of meditation?” I explained that it was communication with a caring God and listening for His response. I felt I had told him something that made him think. Maybe a seed planted? Anyway, isn’t it amazing how the Lord works things out. What a day of blessing this has been!

Think before assuming something that’s not true

Today my son and I delivered a piece of furniture that my wife and I had sold. The address of the buyer was four miles south and 3.23 miles east of a town that is 30 miles from where we live. We left assuming that my son’s GPS would tell us how to get there. It failed for some reason and we had to follow the road signs. We got there OK. It reminded me of something that I have been involved in for a few weeks. My pastor asked me to fill in for him by doing two sermons on the Wednesday night service. The first was based on the word, “assume” and several similar words that mean about the same. Notice that I said that we “assumed” that the GPS would get us where we wanted to go. It didn’t. The assumption failed. The second sermon was based on ” living by faith” and how God works in those who have faith in Him. The two kind of fit together.  We trusted the GPS by a presupposition of faith in a technical device that didn’t work. As it turned out we could depend on an old, non-technical method of finding our way. Trusting God is like watching the signs. It’s simple, but trustworthy. He demonstrates that we need not trust in something that may not work, but that we can always depend on Him. He taught me that when I was writing the book Transformation The Servant’s Heart–A Life of Faith. I found that I couldn’t rely on myself. When I put things in His hands, He filled the empty spots.

Working together

My wife and I have belonged to a Christian cell group for many years. It began as a specific church, but now is composed of people from four different denominations. We also participate in a prayer group which is an extension of Franklin Graham’s Decision America. People from five different denominations meet together every week. I belong to a group of men who meet each week for breakfast. In our cell we fellowship together as friends and brothers and sisters in Christ. We worship and study the Bible together. In the prayer group we focus on the future of our country. In the men’s group, we not only enjoy each other’s company over breakfast, but we discuss the gospel, how to live for Christ and share our troubles and blessings. We have a time of prayer. In every case we may not agree with each other in all our beliefs, but one thing is certain. We all believe in the truth of our salvation by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. We believe together in the essentials of the gospel. We do what I believe God wants us to do: think about His Word and all that it means to us and share with each other.  We pray together. We meet in a fellowship of love in each group and in all the circumstances of our lives. In every case we try to follow Ephesians 4:2-6–Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit–just as you were called to one hope when you were called–one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of us all, who is over all and through all and in all. We’re not perfect, but God blesses each group in many ways. Shouldn’t we all strive for that unity of love, especially in the times that we find ourselves?