Need to Make a Detour?

Detour Sign 1

Someone wrote, “Without God our week would be: Sin-day, Mourn-day, Tears-day, Waste-day, Thirst-day, Fight-day, Shatter-day — seven days without God makes one weak!”

Thinking we can go through life without God is a risky venture. It’s like taking a crazy gamble or making a reckless wager—and losing everything.  It’s foolhardy to try and live without God.

When we ignore, stiff-arm or run from God and live as if we don’t need him, we’re dodging the truth that we’re actually weak, powerless and lost—without him. We’re refusing to admit that we’re truly fragile and vulnerable, puny and arrogant, frantic and scared—without him.

When we think or pretend we can live without God, we’re deceived and blinded to truth. We’re being self-sufficient, selfish and stubborn.  That’s why we need to humbly ask and rely on God to transform the way we think and live.

First, we must admit our helpless condition apart from God. We’re totally broken and bankrupt. We’re totally deceived and depraved.  No ifs, ands or buts.  That’s who we are without God.

Second, we must acknowledge there’s only one true way to get and stay on course: it’s a right relationship with God.  We must come to faith—and trust Christ as our Savior.  Then, we can grow in the grace and knowledge of God by exploring and obeying the Scriptures.

Honestly, we’re totally dependent on God, whether we want to admit it or not. We need God to breathe.  We can’t survive another second without him.

So, who are we trying to fool—and why do we live as if we can go for it without God?

At times, we foolishly see ourselves as the center of the universe. That’s God’s role, not ours.  We selfishly think life revolves around us—and live to please and serve ourselves, not God or anyone else.  That’s an accident ready to happen.

It’s life-changing for us to stop being self-focused and start being God-focused. It’s wise to stop kidding ourselves—and start relying on God and serving others.  It’s revolutionary way to live!

Philippians 4:3-4 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

That’s a radical way to live—but serving God and others is the best way to live—and the quickest way to exit the dead-end street of selfishness and get on the service road of humility.

Do you need to turn around, make a detour and get on the right road?

If so, do it right now—and start living like you can’t live another minute without God and others!

 

 

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On the Edge

Superman Dodger Boy

A little boy fell out of his bed and woke up in the morning, lying on the rug near his Superman slippers. Groggy and confused, he called for his mother—and she came running into his room.  Seeing her son on the floor, she asked, “Bobby, what happened?”  With a puzzled look, he answered, “I don’t know.  Maybe I stayed too close to where I got into bed last night.”

Some of us stay on the edge of spiritual immaturity too long—as if we’re stuck there as spiritual infants. Some of us haven’t been taught how to grow.  Others just choose to stay there.

Apparently, we’re okay with wearing a baby’s bib, drinking from a plastic sipper cup and sleeping inside a small crib. But that kind of thinking won’t help us grow.

Staying stuck as spiritual infants has adverse side effects. It decreases our appetite for God and the Scriptures, and weakens our spiritual bones and muscles.  It’s bad for our growth chart.

As infants, we know little about who God is and what the Bible says—and that’s okay. We’re just starting our journey of faith.  As toddlers, we’re immature—but growing.  We’re sipping the milk of the Word, and perhaps nibbling on the meat of the Word—and that’s okay—for a while.

But staying on the edge of spiritual maturity too long isn’t healthy. It’ll stunt or even stop our growth when God expects and longs for us to grow stronger and taller.

The Bible says, “Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves.  Therefore, let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity” (Hebrews 5:13-14; 6:1).

Friend, I hope you’re not drinking the milk of the Word when you could be devouring the meat of the Scriptures. Frankly, you can guzzle soymilk or chew steak.  The choice is yours.

But know this, God wants us to eat hearty and grow spiritually. He wants to strengthen our muscles so we bulk up and grow in the grace and knowledge of our Savior and the Scriptures.

That’s why ignoring the Word is so unhealthy—and causes spiritual atrophy. That’s also why studying the Word is so essential—and feeds spiritual growth.  It’s the difference between going stagnant and growing stronger.  The choice is ours.

Remember, staying on the edge of spiritual immaturity—or slipping back that way—will stunt or stop our growth. But working out and exercising in God’s gym will strengthen our muscles.

Paul encouraged young Timothy, “You then, my son, be strong … do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:1,15).

Let’s stay focused on our Savior, study the Scriptures and grow stronger!

 

Making Wise Choices

Owl wisdom

Captain Chesley Sullenberger became a national hero, after making a rather gutsy, split-second decision to try and land his disabled commercial jetliner on a river.

After a bird strike took out two engines, the former Air Force fighter pilot executed an almost perfect emergency landing on the Hudson River, just west of Manhattan. Once the US Airways jet skimmed the surface and slowed to a sinking stop, the crew helped passengers exit.

Before Sullenberger exited, he walked the plane’s aisle—twice—to make sure nobody was left behind. But it was hours before Sully and his crew learned that all 155 passengers had survived.  They were alive because he decided to land his damaged jet on a watery runway!

We make decisions—all day long. They may be good or bad.  Easy or difficult.  Wise or foolish.

Life is full of choices. What time we wake up.  What shirt we put on.  What food we eat.  What store we shop.  What route we take.  What person we help.  What words we say.

Sometimes, we choose easily—almost without thinking. Other times, we struggle anxiously, bewildered and stunned by our options.

When we get overwhelmed by life’s cascading choices, we can look to the Scriptures and see how ordinary people made good and bad decisions—and learn from their choices.

Abraham obeyed God who told him to leave his hometown and move to a foreign country. Noah ignored nay-sayers and preached to the crowds, as he built an ark.  Jonah went east when he should’ve gone west and got swallowed by a whale that eventually burped him onto a beach.

Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver and hanged himself outside the city gates. Peter denied that he knew Jesus and then deserted him, after telling Jesus he’d follow him anywhere.  Paul was falsely accused and imprisoned, but joyfully sang and shared the good news.

Just like them, we encounter and eyeball changing circumstances every day that require us to make decisions. Sometimes, we can take our time.  Other times, we’ve only got seconds.

Often, we find ourselves where we must choose something or someone over another. It’s an inescapable fact of life.  We make choices—good and bad—all day long.

I believe our ability to make wise and discerning choices depends on our willingness to seek, request and rely on God’s limitless wisdom—which he promises to provide.

Proverbs 2:6 says, “For the LORD gives wisdom …” That’s a sure guarantee.

James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” That’s a limitless invitation.

Friend, let’s request and receive wisdom from God—and make wise choices!

 

God’s Explosive Power

Dynamite

What would you do if you had an extra jet engine lying around your workshop?  Maybe you’d get wild and crazy, rig it up to an old yellow bus and go for the ride of your life.

That’s exactly what thrill-seeker Paul Stender did near Big Bend, Wisconsin.  He took a big F-4 jet engine—a 21,000 pound thrust, 42,000 horse power engine—and built a school bus around it.

Then, he took his yellow jet-bus for a test drive at a nearby airport—and rocketed down an empty runway at what probably felt like warp speed on the star-ship Enterprise.

Afterwards, Stender said he felt like he was going to roll and crash his ultra-fast jet-bus several times—as he sped across the concrete at 320 miles per hour!

As I imagine what it would be like to ride Stender’s jet-bus, I can almost feel a rush of adrenaline coursing through my veins.  I can almost see myself blasting across that deserted runway, enjoying the thrill of a high velocity bus ride.

Believe it or not, I’m experiencing something far more awesome and powerful than a jet-bus stuck in hyper-drive.  Today, I’m enjoying a personal relationship with Almighty God—and I’m empowered by the Holy Spirit—because I’ve trusted Jesus Christ as my Savior.

Friend, if you’re a follower of Jesus, you’re empowered by the Holy Spirit, too.  He lives inside you—just as he lives inside me.  We’re recipients and conduits of his awesome power!

Jesus promised, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8).  The Greek word for power is our word, dynamite.  That means God’s explosive power flows through you and me.  It empowers and strengthens us.

Without God, we’re powerless—and we can do nothing.  But with God, we’re powerful—and we can do anything.  The apostle Paul declares, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).  That’s a mind-boggling truth.

Andrew Murray wrote, “You have no strength but what God gives, and you can have all the strength that God can give.”  Friend, there is no shortage on God’s ability to strengthen us.

The prophet Jeremiah exclaims, “Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm.  Nothing is too hard for you” (Jeremiah 32:17).

Nothing is impossible for God because he has unstoppable, explosive power—and that’s why we do everything, as he empowers and strengthens us.

We can love the unlovely.  Serve the taker.  Forgive the abuser.  Help the ornery.  Proclaim truth.  Hate sin.  Live righteously.  Give grace.  Demonstrate compassion.  And a whole lot more.

So then, let’s trust and stay connected to our all-powerful God!

 

When You’re Anxious and Afraid

Tough Spot

Like skittish scaredy-cats, we struggle with anxiety and fear.

We jump when we see our own shadow.  We’re afraid of the dark and what goes bump in the night.  We’re apprehensive, hesitant and fearful of just about anything.  We fight full-blown panic attacks and paralyzing phobias.

We fear heights, germs, crowds, tight places, karaoke, spiders, snakes, death and a lot more.

Our unresolved fears can turn into anxiety disorders, often exacerbated by sheer panic and dread of an object, person or situation that we’ll go to great lengths to avoid.  They control us.

King David felt the grip of fear, the panic of anxiety and the weight of depression he couldn’t seem to shake.  In those moments, he felt more like a frightened captive than a mighty warrior.

As a young shepherd boy, David killed bears and lions to protect his father’s sheep in the hills of Judea.  He fought the giant Goliath in the valley of Elah and killed him with his slingshot and one stone.  He trusted God and charged when King Saul’s terrified soldiers refused to fight.

As a rugged warrior-king, David battled fierce enemies, local rebels and back-stabbing friends.  He defeated rogue nations, destroyed cities and plundered treasures.  He led and fought alongside his army of valiant warriors.

And yet, this tough guy couldn’t control his fear and anxiety.  That’s why he looked to God for courage and strength—and trusted God to tweak his perspective and emotions.

David declared, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust, I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?” (Psalm 56:3-4) … “The LORD is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 56:3).

That’s what David believed and did when fear and anxiety gripped his heart.

Are you overwhelmed by panic, held hostage by fear or paralyzed by anxiety?

If—and when—that’s your predicament, you can conquer your “enemies” by believing and doing what David did.  You can escape the grip of fear, panic and anxiety.  Here’s how:

  1. Face your towering giant.
  2. Refuse to run and hide.
  3. Choose to stand and fight.
  4. Ask God to strengthen you.
  5. Give your troubles to God.

No matter the height and size of the “giant” that stalks and scares you, God is bigger and more powerful.  He promises to strengthen, empower and protect you.  Will you trust him?

 

Sealed Forever

boysenberry jam

Grammy made awesome blackberry jam.

For hours, she’d work in her kitchen, boiling berries on the stove and adding sugar—until the syrupy mixture was just right.  While she waited for the jam to cool, she’d rinse and dry her glass jars and tin lids.  Then, she’d pour jam into them.

Finally, she’d seal a lid on each jar with hot paraffin wax.  Then, she’d put all but one of the jars inside her small pantry for our family and neighbors.  Grammy deliberately placed a single jar of jam on the kitchen counter, next to some butter and a knife.

Then, we’d watch for Grammy’s wink, which gave us the greenlight to spread her delicious blackberry jam on a thick slice of fresh homemade bread—and enjoy every bite!

Unlike Grammy’s jam preserves, food sometimes spoils at my house—and because I’m a frugal man, I don’t like having to throw it away.

But know this—God will never toss or lose any of his beloved children.

The Bible says, “To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ:  Mercy, peace, and love be yours in abundance” (Jude 1:1).

God has promised that none of his children will be spoiled or lost.  Not one.  Not now.  Not ever.

God has eternally sealed us in Christ by the Holy Spirit.  That’s God’s double guarantee that he’ll preserve and keep us secure—and guard us against loss and spoiling.

Our eternal security in Christ will never lessen or loosen.  It will never shift or shake.  It will never be at stake.  In Christ, we’re secure always and forever.

We can’t lose our salvation or forfeit our reservation in heaven.  We can’t be spoiled by anyone or anything.  Our strong Father is the keeper of our soul and salvation.

The Bible says, “My sheep listen to my voice … and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:27-30).

That’s double protection—being gripped by the Savior’s hand and guarded by the Father’s hand—at the same time!

“To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power, and authority through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore” (Jude 1:24-25).

That’s why we can believe and teach the certainty of eternal security for every follower of Jesus!