Today is Super Tuesday.
In the world of presidential primary voting, it is a very big day. It will make or break some campaigns.
Despite how hyped up the media may be, the whole thing really saddens me. Not because my candidate is trailing behind. Not because our primary here in PA is later on this spring and may not play a big role in the selection process, as it may be all but decided at that point. I am saddened because of all the not so super speech.
What am I talking about?
I think you get the picture. It seems running for President has become a battle of who can out insult the other. The President is now also the Insulter-in-Chief. Who cares if he/she is in charge of our military, just as long as he/she can come up with the best insult. That is what makes a leader great! It's the American Way.
But is this God's Way? Why not ask Him. Well, He has this to say:
"Don't use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not bring sorrow to God's Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he is the one who has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior." (Ephesians 4:29-31)
Even though our leaders insult each other and call each other names, we, as God's redeemed children, are not to imitate them. We are to imitate God and use our words to build up and to not tear down. In other words: Speak life.
So this is Super Tuesday: Now go and make this day truly super by building someone up with a word of encouragement. Send a note, an email, a text, make a phone call, or better yet, visit.
Blessed to be blessing,
In reading the gospel of Luke this morning, I read about the temptation of Jesus. An interesting passage to say the least.
Often we are taught, and/or reminded that we are not to put ourselves into a position in which we can be tempted. Like being alone, and staying up late with your girlfriend/boyfriend. When you are tired, you are more easily temped and less able to resist. And this raised a question: am I the sole reason I am tempted? I mean, if I live a sinless life, could I avoid temptation?
Genesis 3 and Luke 4 offer some good insight.
In Genesis 3, the first man and woman were living sinless lives. Everything was “very good.” Yet they were tempted by the serpent.
In Luke 4 we find Jesus, the Son of God (God the Son: fully man, fully God) living a sinless life. Yet, He too was
tempted. How do we explain this? Did He place Himself in a bad position? The simple answer is “No.”
In fact the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted. This seems almost shocking! God led Jesus, His Son to be tempted? But James 1 tells us that God will not tempt anyone. He will, however, test us. So Jesus was being tested, as Satan did the tempting.
In reality temptation will happen no matter how “sinless” we are. God tests us: our faith, our trust, our endurance, etc. Satan tempts us to not have faith, to not trust, and to give up. When giving in to the temptation, I find disappointment, discouragement, and/or annoyance as the temptation never meets expectations.
But when I turn back to my Lord, I find redemption, love, and fulfillment. He does not condemn. He does not point the finger. Instead, I find He understands, because He was tempted Himself. He knows my struggle with it. Yet, through Him I can overcome. By knowing God’s Word I can learn how to say “no,” and when I fall short I can receive genuine forgiveness.
So, be prepared. Temptation will come. Satan will tempt, and God will test. And if you resist the devil, he will flee and so will the temptation.
Love is what we need more of in this world. Many people, nations, and peoples need to kiss and make up. But sadly, love is often used and abused making the hurt even worse.
Recently there has been some big hurts, big proclamations and claims of hatred. Much is sensational in hopes of grabbing headlines. Three that I will pose Bible passages for include:
I'll share some thoughts, mainly from the Bible and then let you draw your own conclusion. My purpose is to encourage us to think as Jesus would:
The Shooting: The couple who did this wanted to do this. They planned it for months. The goal was to kill. It was intentional. There is no debate about these facts. For some reason they believed this was good. They were deceived. 2 Corinthians 11:14 explains: "But I am not surprised! Even Satan can disguise himself as an angel of light."
And 1 John 3:10 tells us, "So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the Devil. Anyone who does not obey God's commands and does not love other Christians does not belong to God."
If God calls something good what are you to call it? If God calls something evil what are you to call it?
The El Nino: It's tough to find a passage of scripture that applies to this specifically, but the principle in Deuteronomy 18:22 applies well. "If the prophet predicts something in the LORD's name and it does not happen, the LORD did not give the message. That prophet has spoken on his own and need not be feared."
Talking about false prophets. Well, many have been calling this El Nino the biggest ever. Record-breaking. Never seen before. And on and on. Lots of sensational headlines. Yet, there are signs of it not being as strong or deep as previous Super El Nino's (82-83 and 97-98). Who is right?
We must reserve judgment until this El Nino ends. Only then will we really see how strong it turned out to be, in terms of impact upon our weather, and in terms of lasting power. If it fails to live up to the hype, should we fear the "prophets of doom" in terms of a warming world? If it does live up to its hype, do we listen to those who downplayed it?
The Refugees: As a matter of principle, Leviticus 19:33 reads: "Do not exploit the foreigners who live in your land. They should be treated like everyone else, and you must love them as you love yourself. Remember that you were once foreigners in the land of Egypt. I, the LORD, am your God."
Of course the skeptic can simply say "That's old testament. We don't live under the Law anymore." And that is true. But the principle of it does apply, or is that outdated too? I think we all know the obvious answer to that one. In case it is not obvious to you, Jesus commanded us to "love our enemies," and to "pray for those who persecute you."
One other thought is from Matthew 10:1, "Look, I [Jesus] am sending you [disciples] out as sheep among wolves. Be as wary as snakes and harmless as doves."
Based on the above, and others not listed, could the Lord be teaching us that we are to receive those who need help, to treat them with love and respect, yet we must be very careful and wise in knowing how the world works and alert to the dangers that lurk?
Discuss among yourselves and pray for our leaders to do what is right.
The Coach Who Wouldn’t Stop Praying
In the state of Washington a football coach has been placed on administrative leave because he kept praying at midfield. This seems pretty straight forward. Religious discrimination. A violation of the first amendment, and typical of the growing anti-Christian sentiment in our nation.
At first I was hooked and outraged (quietly outraged) that this could occur in our nation. The coach did not ask anyone to join him. He did not coerce any of the players into doing this. Some players decided on their own to join him. So what is the problem?
I suppose someone or a small group complained and so he was asked to cease the praying at midfield. He could still pray but in a place where no one could see him. Apparently he tried to meet with the school officials over this, but could only talk over the phone with their lawyer. Not getting anywhere he continued to pray at midfield after the games. He is now on leave, pending investigation. It basically means he is out of job.
Couple of thoughts about this case …
Regarding the first point, Jesus teaches us in Matt 6 that when we pray we are not to stand on the street corner to garner attention and approval as we pray. It is not authentic prayer when one is seeking approval for others, when one is supposedly talking to God. It is better to go into an inner room, where no one sees you, and pray. Our Father knows what we need, and approves of our going before him.
The second point is valid in that we are to submit to those who rule over us in authority. We may not like the rules, but do those rules violate our faith? Romans 13 speaks of where governments gain their authority (from God) and how we are to respect it. Also, in Acts 4, the Apostles are confronted by the Sanhedrin, and told not to speak in Jesus’ name. But they throw out the question, who should we obey? God or man? The answer is obvious: God. When man’s law comes into conflict with God’s teaching, man’s law is ignored, and God is obeyed.
So can this coach pray privately? Before and after the game? Is this school’s request unreasonable? In fact, I think the schools request is in line with what Jesus taught. Go to an inner place and pray. That is what the school asked him to do! It also does not violate his faith. He can still pray. He brought much attention to prayer by making national news. Perhaps it time to simply return to the inner room, to keep praying, and abide by the wishes of the school and let God work as only He can through the faithful prayers of His people.
The headline describes Hurricane Patricia. And yes it is a correct assessment.
Hurricane Patricia did have record low pressure (879 mb, if I remember correctly) for the western hemisphere. This is not the lowest ever in the world as headlines would make one believe. Some Typhoons have gone lower. The all-time record is around 870 mb. Patricia was very intense. But also very small.
This Hurricane also weakened very fast … before making landfall. Hurricane force winds only extended about 30 miles from the eye itself. Not big at all. A fist of fury is more like it. This storm did have 200 mph winds, but before hitting land it was weakening rapidly. Probably from entraining dry air off the Mexican mountains. Dry air is a killer for Hurricanes.
Yes, it was a very strong and record setting storm, but there was no widespread major damage! When a hurricane is weakening, it will not bring the strong winds to the surface due to less turbulence. When strengthening, it is the opposite. This storm was weakening and doing so rapidly. In fact the crystal clear eye early in the day practically disappeared before it made landfall. Again, it was weakening.
What really bothered me was the seeming excitement by the Climate Change crowd. Many seemed to be thrilled that a catastrophic disaster was heading for Mexico thus driving home the point that Climate Change is the biggest threat to our national security. Excited over potential loss of life???? It is inhumane and evil to hope for a disaster to strike to make your point. Many were shocked at the lack of damage, so Patricia faded from the news.
We must value life at all times. Never rejoicing when one is hurt or harmed. Never celebrating a major disaster and excitedly talking about how powerful and awesome it was ... when people lost their lives in it. Life matters. God made it. God formed it. He breathed the breath of life into us. So please, treasure it. Don't abuse it. Don't take it for granted. Love it. Defend it.
I leave with one thought: If Climate Change made Patricia stronger, then did it cause it to weaken faster also?
Or at least that is what many believe happened Monday night between Seattle Seahawks and Detroit Lions. I did not see the game, but did see the video of the "play" that "robbed" Detroit of its first win of the season.
If one objectively looks at the video, one sees Calvin Johnson (Megatron) catching a pass on 3rd and 1, then running toward the end zone, where he is tackled. While being tackled, a Seattle defender punches the ball out causing a fumble. It then bounces and looks to be heading out of the back of the end zone. Another Seattle defender then hits/pushes the ball out. If done intentionally it would be illegal and Detroit's ball on the 1 yard line. If not done intentionally, then it is Seattle ball. Game over.
No penalty was called.
After their sin In Genesis 3, Adam blames God and the woman (Eve, but she has not been given a name just yet), and the woman blames the serpent. They all point the finger to someone else. Yet all 3 are punished, because all 3 are responsible for their own actions.
Sports is big in America. So is pointing the finger and claiming to be a victim. But we must all take ownership for our decisions, our actions, our words, our thoughts. Because they only belong to one person: ME.
Did you get a chance to see the lunar eclipse Sunday night? I hope you did, because I did not. It was too cloudy at our house. There was a patch a clear skies about an hour before it occurred, but by 9:45 it was cloudy. At 10:00 very overcast. If you didn't, look online for blogs, pics and videos of it. A pretty cool event.
But is it a sign from God that the end times events are about to occur?
Some preachers have written about the blood moons, and profited handsomely. Yet, when one digs a little into the history of lunar and solar eclipses what just occurred was not that exceptional. Unusual? Yes. Exceptional to the point of being a sign from God? Probably not. So why the fascination of prophecy?
I pondered this as I was picking beans this morning. I thought about how many times I've talked with other believers and the point is made that due to our worsening culture, the end must be near. 2 Timothy 3:1-5 tells us that at the end people will be lovers of themselves, disobedient, selfish, arrogant, lovers of evil, haters of God, and much more.
So if this is the end, then what can I do about it? If it is happening as it is supposed to happen, can anyone change it? If not, no need to talk to people about God. No need to witness, or pray for others' salvation. No need to reach out in Jesus' name and upset my comfortable weekly routine. No need, because it is supposed to be this way. What can I do about it? Nothing. This is what God said it would be like.
In other words, an overly intense focus on prophecy might become one's excuse for not obeying the commands of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! "Go, and make disciples of all nations." (Matt. 28) To be His witness in our neighborhood, community, state and world (Acts 1). To be His ambassador through whom He makes the appeal "Be reconciled to God" (2 Cor 5). To be the one who knows serving others is serving Christ (Matt. 25). To be the one who is not ashamed of Him as our Lord (Luke 9)
Prophecy is important. It reminds us Who has the future in His hands. It is meant to warn us and encourage us. It must not be abused and used as an excuse to not follow the commands of Christ.
Recently as a family we "adopted" 5 Monarch Butterfly caterpillars. Each one had his/her own jar, own fresh supply of milkweed leaves, and are now either in a chrysalis or is now flying around as a butterfly. But how does this happen?
What I mean is this. The caterpillar grows, sheds its skin, then grows, sheds its skin, then grows, sheds its skin, grows, sheds it skin, then grows. Four times it will shed its skin and then grow again. Now, the last time it sheds its skin, the chrysalis is revealed to exist below the 5th and final layer of skin. And but the caterpillar seems to know this as it attaches itself to the underside of a leaf (stem, jar lid, etc.) and hangs upside down in the shape of a "J" for 12-15 hours.
Suddenly the skin splits, and the caterpillar does a "dance" to make the skin drop away, and then voila you have a chrysalis. But how does the caterpillar "know" to hang upside down, when shedding the 5th and last skin? It didn't do it with the other skins. So how does it know this one is different?
Scientifically it may be in the DNA. Generally, it may be instinct. No matter what, it certainly looks like it is programmed to do what it does. Seeing one is interesting. Seeing five do the exact same things, around the same time of day, you begin to see a pattern that appears to be "programmed." And to program something requires intelligence, design and purpose.
Science today still does not know exactly how the caterpillar becomes a butterfly. It is a miracle. It is a miracle of God. He designed it. He created it. He gave it purpose. So let us celebrate it.
Until next time. Enjoy God's great outdoors.
Pastor Terry, his wife and family came to Suedberg in 2003. There have great times, good times, and well, not so good times. But through it all God has been good. This blog will share the goodness of God as seen in the midst of the great, the good, and the not so good of our world.