Folly’s Rollercoaster

Wisdom has built her house; she has set up its seven pillars. (Proverbs 9:1)

Have you ever felt that you are being pulled into diferent directions at the same time? I have been living this way for the past few weeks feeling like I am on a roller coaster and God has given me insight into exactly what is happening.

Proverbs chapter nine, teaches us about wisdom and folly.  Wisdom is strong, reliable,  appealing to the intellect and capable of making sound decisions.  Folly is carefree, fickle, appealing to the senses and throws caution to the wind.

Wisdom calls to the simple to leave their ways, to come and draw insight and live well, while folly beckons the simple to indulge and search for sweet, delicious secrets.

Thus the struggle between your mind instructing you to pause, set up a plan of action based on a strategy with informative facts and all your senses pulling you to go here, do this, run there, do that, take the plunge, go ahead get wet, dont get left behind.

Luckily for me, I decided to get off the roller coaster and search for divine direction.  No matter what is going on in our lives we must remember that we are not in control.  The world of folly is going to distract us and lure us off track but the Holy Spirit’s wisdom will continue to speak to you and let you know that there is a way that is better.  That is, if you have the Holy Spirit as your helper.

I wonder how the many people living aimlessly in this world apart from God, not in relationship with Jesus Christ and without the Holy Spirit ever get off the roller coaster without crashing and burning.

Proverbs chapter nine teaches us that wisdom leads to life and folly leads to death. Living a life without Jesus as your Lord and Savior will surely lead to death. “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John14:6).  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)  This seems wise to me.

So folly leads to death……well, luckily for me again, I believe in Jesus Christ, so I have eternal life, but folly doesn’t give up trying to make me crash and burn.  Folly may take you for a ride from time to time, but wisdom beckons you to come, dine with me (feast on the word of God) and live well.

Once you re-group, get your priorities in order, understand the things that are important and focus on the truth of life, the road smooths out, the bumps disappear and all is well once again.

Do you need to jump off the ride and spend some time with Wisdom?  Proverbs chapter nine may be a good place to start.

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Opportunity of a Lifetime

I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling.” (1Corinthians 2:3) NIV

Paul set out on the great commission to take the gospel of Jesus to the places that God led. This journey did not come about over night once he received his sight, but after three years of wilderness time with Jesus. He spent this time seeking to know more and more about Jesus and why God had sent Him. He wanted to understand what Jesus had taught and how He lived while He was among us.

You see, Paul had missed the mark. He had the same opportunity as the disciples to follow Jesus and live with Him, learn from Him, honor Him and accept Him. But he was closed off. He was so steeped in the law and the discipline of religion, the do’s and don’ts, the right’s and wrong’s the human side of religion that he had been taught all his life, that he missed the chance to be right where Jesus was when He was there. The opportunity of a life-time passed him by.

God had other plans for Paul and after Paul had gone as far down the wrong path as he could, Jesus stepped in and the encounter that Paul had with him, left him blind, weak with great fear and trembling. Paul had heard the same ridiculous accounts about the man who claimed to be the Messiah. Blasphemy at its worst. But when Paul met Jesus in all His glory, the shoe was on the other foot…who was the blasphemer now?

Paul was as condemned as Jesus was but the outcome would be very different. Instead of being hung on a cross, Paul was to go and spread the good news. He had to go to the very people he was persecuting, throwing into prisons and killing and ask for their forgiveness. He had to put all pride and flesh aside and say he too, was a believer.

Paul could have chosen a different path. He could have refused to follow Jesus, to ignore the truth and choose to go his own way. If he had, he would have missed out on yet another opportunity of a life time, not to mention eternal life.

Had Paul not chosen to follow Jesus he would have lived out the rest of his life a blind religious man, empty and broken, filled with hate and blame and regret. I wonder how many people are living that way today? They may not be physically blind, but they are spiritually blind. They are empty and broken and will never be fulfilled. They will travel around aimlessly chasing after things they think will give them what they need to feel whole.

Paul never really got over the encounter he had with Jesus and wherever he went spreading the good news, he always went in weakness, with great fear and trembling, because this was how the Holy Spirit worked best in him.

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Time Alone

The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength; indeed, the world is established, firm and secure.  (Psalm 93:1) NIV

Turn on the news, listen and watch for a little while and you will begin to see a pattern emerge.  Whatever channel, it is all the same.  Fear, urgency, anger, disparity, death, destruction and issues over control. News flash…despite all the horror in the news, God is in control.

Ever wonder what life would be like without news? What if we didn’t know what was happening outside our own backyard?  What if we had to visit our neighbours to find out firsthand, what was going on in their lives?  Do you think they would be happy to see you?  Would they take time out of their day to talk with you?

Time past, this was the way of the world. Was life a little bit simpler?  Funny how during this era in history man was more relational with God and as the future was emerging God was consulted about it.

Take the conjecture of men and women out of the equation and one has to rely upon his or her own inner being as a guide.  Self reliance soon leads to self actualisation and the realisation that you really don’t want to go it alone.  You look for something greater than yourself to help you.  Enter God.

God created man and woman in His own image and gave them the innate understanding that He is there. Left to themselves, they will seek to find and relate to their Creator.

If any of this strikes a semblance of sense to you, maybe some time away from the TV, Internet, Computer, Phone or other electronic devices could help you tune in to a more intelligent being and a new way of living could emerge for you.

If people stopped tuning in to the conjecture, it would lose ratings and go away.  Eventually they would learn what was important to know and even find the truth!

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The Orchard’s Manual

“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers”. ..(Psalms 1: 1-3) NIV

“Which yields its fruit in season”…The key to this is the in season part. Fruit does not yield itself all the time.  It has to be in season.  In order to bear fruit though, the tree or the vine must be taken care of.  It must be watered, it must be fertilized and groomed and  protected from the elements that will harm it.

If you have ever wandered on the meandering paths around an orchard or spent some time in a sunny vineyard then you will have been able to see first hand how much goes into bearing good fruit.

The caretakers are there everyday seeing to what ever issues may come to hand, Whether it be some type of insect, or mold or wild animals that are attacking and trying to eat or destroy the fruit.  Keeping a watchful eye so that at the first sign of a change they can take action and counter the affects on the fruit.

The fruit is the most important thing.  Without the fruit, then there is no purpose to the orchard or vines.  There is no purpose to keeping watch, to be vigilant.

Come rain or come shine, they tend to their crops.  They invest in the best seeds, trees or vines to be planted. They revolve their entire lives around the yield of the investment.  They consider this to be their livelihood, their reason for getting up in the morning.

When the fruit is ripe and ready for harvest, they invest again in the resources required to pick, wash, prepare and pack their fruit.  They want to have it ready to go to market as quickly as is possible.  They want to show it off and receive top dollar from the labor of their hands and sweat from their brows.  They depend on the crops to represent their character and build their reputations.

Once the fruit has borne its season, they begin the cycle all over again.

I wonder how many fruit orchard or vineyard owners spend as much time caring for their spiritual lives hoping to bear their fruit in season?

I mean, how many of us spend as much time caring about anything this much?  What are the things that we invest in to represent our character and to build our reputations?

What are we the most vigilant about?  What are we the most consistent with?  Is there anything that we could put our stamp on that will truly bear fruit?

The orchard and vineyard owners are committed to the process  They know what they need to do and can read the signs of something that may be about to cause problems, but they know another thing as well.  They are not totally in control.

What happens if they get too much rain, or not enough rain.  What if frost comes early or if the temperatures reach heights that cause the fruit to ripen too soon or to shrivel and dry out?

What happens if a swarm of insects come in and take over the entire crops support system, or a fungus grows to mass proportion overnight?

They know they are at the mercy of God.  They depend on the grace of God to help them get their fruit to season.

If we take a leaf out of the orchard’s manual we can see that there is much that goes into the process to bear fruit.  But this fruit only lasts a season.

The Bible shares with us a story that Jesus shared with His disciples about bearing fruit.

In John: 15 (NIV) Jesus says “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful……“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.  If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples”.

What is this fruit that Jesus is talking about?  It is simply sharing Gods word with others so that it may shine a ray of sun into their lives…that it may draw them closer to God and help them to bear fruit. One tree or vine can produce much fruit.

Why do we spend so much time worrying and investing in things that do not produce the kind of fruit that Jesus tells us we need to bear?  Why do so many of us seem to be blind to how important this is in the scheme of our lives?

We need to fall onto our knees as ask God to help us.  Lead us to our orchard, show us our vineyard so that we can start to bear fruit before it is too late.

Further reading;  (Genesis 1:11, 2 Kings 19:30, Psalm 92:14, Isaiah 11:1,Jeremiah 17:8, Ezekiel 47:12,Matthew 7:19)

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My Valentine

He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke 10:27)

I have read this verse many times under many different circumstances.  Today, I read it and the same as every time before, I got a new message from it.  Now, this is the scripture that Jesus gave us citing as the most important commands that God has given to us, His children, to live by.

Today I read this with the subconsciousness of Valentine’s Day looming in the background and I suddenly thought about all the people out there in the world who are thinking about their spouses, their significant others, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters and wonderered if any thought about their creator.  All the love in my heart went out to my God, my rock, my provider, my protector, my healer, my comforter, my helper, my teacher, my friend and confidant, my leader and my true source for living.

I havent written a blogg in a while as I have been focussed on my child, my nephew who has moved in with me, my new church and completing a real estate course and exams to get my license.

My God, has been with me as a constant through all of this, expanding my mind, giving me strength, helping to arrange my days and my responsibilities to accomodate all that I have needed to juggle the things that I have been focussed on and be successful.  I have continued to set asiide time to spend with Him daily, as is my custom, but I havent posted a blogg.

When I think back to my commitment to write bloggs as part of my love offering to Him and to those out there reading that might be blessed, I realize that I have not been as faithful to Him as He has been to me.

How easy is it for us to continually draw from God, calling upon Him for all our smallest to largest problems and issues. To look to him for peace, grace and mercy each and every day.  He is always there.  He is constant.  He doesnt let a new birth, death, election or world crisis get in the way of being there for us.

I could have made the time to write during the past few months which included one of the most significant Christian holidays (Jesus’ birthday) and the beginning of a New Year, but I had my priorities misplaced.  I even requested a new book for Christmas and started a year long study called “I am Second”.  Hellooooooo!!!!

Sometimes we think just because we are doing all the things that we are supposed to do, the things we normally do, set time aside to get in the word, go to church and worship, give of ourselves in charitable ways, that we are putting God first.  But are we really?  We consciously make choices to do things that show we love God and that we want to spend time with Him, but it doesnt neccessarily mean that we are putting Him first.

Our test and measure is when our lives get busier, when new things crop into our schedules and we feel that we have to give something up to get through the day……what are the sacrifices that we make?  Do we skip the bible time?  Do we give up the extra time in prayer? Do we not go the church meeting?  Do we stop writing the blogg?  Guilty as charged!!

Today I realized what a great love really is.  When God loves, He doesnt spitefully  hold back because we have  put other things ahead of Him.  He doesnt turn His ear away as we ask Him to help us through a new situation in the same as we turned away from Him to accommodate the new situation. No, He loves us even more and holds us that much closer, and brings us through.  We praise Him, we give Him the glory and then….He gently shows us that, hey….you could have done this a little bit differently, a little bit better.  He says take this new found knowledge and next time try to do better.

What a loving Father. What a glorious love He has for us.  What a soul-honoring love I have for Him.  We keep asking, He keeps giving. He keeps teaching and above all He keeps loving His imperfect children.

Today, this Valentines Day…..I ask you, will you send a special love valentine to your creator?  Can we commit once again, to try to keep Him first in our lives?  This is my Valentine to my Savior, whom I love with all my heart, with all my mind and with all my soul.  Amen

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Are You Old?

Sarah lived to be a hundred and twenty-seven years old.   (Genesis 23:1) NIV

At what point in your life do you concede that you are old?  Is there a finite moment when you all of a sudden realise, hey, I am old?  Is it a gradual process or a series of incidents that deliver you to a place where you accept that you are old?

The Cambridge English Dictionary defines old as; having lived or existed for many years.  The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as; having lived for many years : not young.

See, even the dictionaries do not know when you become old they can only define it by many years.  It doesn’t matter how many years you say you are, you are x number of years, …you got it, …old.

The Bible says Sarah lived to be a hundred and twenty-seven years old and then she died.  This woman was amazing since she had her first child when she was 90 years, …wait for it, …old.

Does your age define you?  Perhaps if you buy into some theory that at a certain age you are.

I believe that God created each of us for a certain purpose.  The thing is, not every one taps into God.  If you don’t establish a relationship with God, then you will never know your purpose will you?

Some may establish their relationship with God at any early time in their life and come into the knowledge of their purpose sooner that someone who establishes theirs at a later time in their life.

Does that mean that if you complete your given purpose that your life is over?  You have become old? Does it mean that if you are still trying to complete your purpose you still have time and are yet deemed to be old?  What if you feel old but may not be old and have not yet been given your purpose?  Do you still have time to fulfil your purpose and grow old?

Is your head going in circles yet? This is something that I consider.  I mean, I know people that are wise beyond their years and some that no matter how many years they live, they will probably never really be wise.

Some people have lived a great many years and go and do a lot more in a day than others who have lived a lot less years and claim to be old.

This does not compute for me.

Now, I know that every one is unique and different and they live their lives very differently as well.

Some people are very health conscious and others don’t give their health any energy at all.  That doesn’t mean that one will live longer than the other…just differently.

I have heard many idioms like, it’s not the age, it’s the milage or you are only as old as you feel and age is a state of mind……all attempts to explain what really no one can.  There is no certain age for old.

Here are some well-known accomplishments:

  • At 92, Paul Spangler finished his 14th marathon.
  • At 93, P.G. Wodehouse worked on his 97th novel, was knighted and died.
  • At 94, comedian George Burns performed in Schenectady, NY, 63 years after his first performance there.
  • At 95, Nola Ochs became the oldest person to receive a college diploma.
  • At 96, Harry Bernstein published his first book, “The Invisible Wall,” three years after he started writing to cope with loneliness proceeding his wife of 70 years, Ruby, passing away.
  • At 97, Martin Miller was still working full time as a lobbyist on behalf of benefits for seniors.
  • At 98, Beatrice Wood, a ceramist, exhibited her latest work.
  • At 99, Teiichi Igarashi climbed Mt. Fuji.
  • At 100, Frank Schearer seems to be the oldest active water skier in the world.

And then there are these:

  • At age 1, Christian Friedrich Heinecken, the legendary child prodigy, had read      thePentateuch (the first five books of the Bible).
  • At 2, speed skater Bonnie Blair began skating. She would go on to win five Olympic gold medals.
  • At 3, Wolfgang Mozart taught himself to play the harpsichord.

So what is the point of my rant?  My point is, there is no specified age for you to be old, young or achieve your life’s purpose.

The important thing is this, to ask God to provide you with it.  You may have fulfilled many of God’s purposes in our life already, it doesn’t mean He doesn’t have more for you to achieve.  You are never too old or too young …whatever that means … to serve God.  Just get with Him and get on with it!  The world will be a better place as a result!

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The Pilgrimage

Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.(Psalm 84:5) NIV

The word pilgrim is a noun and describes someone that embarks on a long journey to a sacred place for religious reasons.  We study in history that the first people to settle in North America were Pilgrims.  These pilgrims were part of a separatist group called “Puritans” who broke away from the Church of England in 1607 and then looking for freedom to express and live out their Christ-based religion travelled in 1620 on the Mayflower from Plymouth England to land near today’s Provincetown in November and later in December on what they called Plymouth Rock, which is the western side of Cape Cod Bay.

So much of the cultural heritage of America was built on the biblical teachings that these men and women brought with them so many years ago.  So strongly was the belief in Christ and the value system that stemmed from this belief, that it drove these Puritans on a pilgrimage to find a place that they could call sacred.  Far and away from the tyranny and persecution of the government of their day, biased by the King of England’s fleshly lusts, was a land deemed to be a “new world”.  America, the land of the free and the home of the brave. A descriptor that still drives men and women to abandon ways of life in search of a new world.

We see in the news today, thousands of men, women and children from Syria grouping into small overcrowded boats, risking and loosing their lives to cross the seas, hoping to land onto their Plymouth Rock.  They have set about on a pilgrimage to escape tyranny and persecution.  The difference between the Syrian pilgrimage and the English pilgrimage lies in a very populated world that is far from new, on the shores of Europe today and the unpopulated shores of North America in 1620.

The puritan pilgrims travelled in the pursuit of living out the Christ-centered purposes set out in the Bible, which shed a condemning light on the ever-changing, man ruled laws of religion in England.

The Syrian pilgrims today are traveling blindly in pursuit of safety. Some bring with them the Yazidis religion that has been targeted by ISIS in their land. The persecution is fueled by hatred of the God that is served by the many other Christians they have also been targeting.  ISIS are an extremist militant Islamic group that have taken the Quran and twisted its laws to fulfill their own mantra of hate and evil.

Yazdânism teaches the cyclic nature of the world with reincarnation of the deity and of people being a common feature, traversing incarnations of the soul of a man into human form or an animal or even a plant. There are seven cycles to the life of this universe. Six of these have already happened, while the seventh one is yet to unfold. In each cycle, there is a set of six reincarnated persons (one female, five male) who will herald the new cycle and preside over it (the seventh one in the set being the ever-lasting, the ever-present God Almighty who created the world).

The pilgrims of 1620 were led by God to an English-speaking Indian named Samoset and another named Squanto who taught them how to plant corn, fish and gather fruit. The partnership with the Wampanoag Indians helped the pilgrims to thrive and they celebrated the first harvest together which is now traditionally celebrated as Thanksgiving in America.  As Americans we have so much to be thankful for. As American Christians we look to thank the God that gifted us to live in this country with free access to His word and the liberty to worship Him openly and as we choose.

Perhaps we should look upon these new pilgrims as the Wampanoag Indians looked upon our forefathers and teach them about the God that this country was established for. Introducing them to the Judeo-Christian Biblical theology will introduce them to a whole new world, culture and lifestyle. This would be the way that Jesus would approach them. To let them know that they have the opportunity to change their lives through the acceptance of Him as their Savior. Rather than introduce them to a new world filled with fear and hatred, introduce them to the love that this nation was built upon.

After penning the words, “Let my heart be broken for the things that break the heart of God” in his bible, God gave Bob Pierce the vision of an organization; “to meet emergency needs in crisis areas through existing evangelical mission agencies and national churches.” He founded Samaritan’s Purse in 1970.  Bob Pierce died in 1978 and was succeeded as Chairman of the Board and CEO in 1979 by Franklin Graham, son of Evangelist Billy Graham. Franklin had been working with Bob since 1973. Samaritan’s Purse is leading the way in assistance for these pilgrims.   Christian faces are the first to greet them when they reach the shore, broken and relieved.

As we take time out this Thanksgiving let us be thankful that we are still free and able to worship as we please. Let us pray for these new pilgrims that they will find peace and security through Jesus Christ and that they will be able to begin a new life in a new world that will embrace them and love them, not scorn or reject them.

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