Saturday, March 31, 2018

Easter is God’s Miracle Story


The whip with jagged pieces of bone swirls in the air as the Roman soldier sets himself to deliver a brutal hit on his victim, Jesus.  Jesus braces for impact as the whip slams into his body.  Flesh is torn a part.  Blood everywhere.  The sounds of pain echoes through the chamber walls.  The chants of…hit him again.  Harder!  Harder!  Harder!  Thirty-nine brutal hits rips a part the body of Jesus.  No grace from the scornful crowd.  No mercy from the soldier.  No compassion.  No seeing past their own ridiculous, scandalous and self-righteous attitude toward a man whose heart was pure, his life was perfect and his forgiveness was limitless toward anyone, whether they asked for it or not and his grace was without reservation and given freely with love, mercy and forgiveness. 

It wasn’t enough to beat the living day lights out of Jesus, they had to mock him, blindfold him, spit in his face, ridicule him publicly, crown him with thrones as if he were the king of humiliation and nailed him to a cross as if he were wall art. 

Jesus is set to die.  He is hoisted before liars, and religious bigots who spew out their words of hatred.  He is suspended before the mob of thugs who cast lots for his clothes and yelled obscenities.  The crowd waits.  The disciples wait.  Mom waits. 

Is it possible that God will not save his only Son?  Is this really it?  No last minute rescue.  No hero to rise up and save the day?  Nothing?  Seriously, nothing? 

Jesus is dead.  Was his death really necessary?  Did Jesus really need to endure an excruciating death that devastated everyone who knew him best?  Did God not think about Jesus’ mom or siblings or disciples or himself? 

Nothing about this story sound encouraging.  There is confusion and heartbreak and anger and a blatant disregard for the hope Jesus said would be available if anyone would follow him.  Death seems to have taken hope and placed in in the grave, too.  What is good about this story?

The horrific scene on Friday demonstrated a loss of hope.  The silence of Saturday paints a picture of hopelessness.  The events of Sunday is a reminder that while everything may seem bleak and hopeless, God is always piecing every detail together so that we can ultimately see clearly how much he really love us. 

When God declared that he loved the whole world that he gave everyone his Son, he meant it.  When the Apostle Paul said in Romans 5:8, “God demonstrated his own love for us; while we were sinners, Christ died for us.” it was true. When we are at our worse, God is always at his best. 

The way Jesus died is outrageous to say the least, but that is what God chose to demonstrate his love for us.  If God didn’t love us, then he would never have created us; nor given us his Son so that our relationship would be possible with him. 

Death was not the end of Jesus, but only a temporary moment in time in order to set everything into motion for what was to come…His resurrection.  Friday was awful, but Sunday, was glorious.  Hope is once again the headline news on the front page of every newspaper around the world!  Peter said, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1st Peter 1:3)

The resurrection of Jesus gives us power, it defeated Satan and it restores hope that seemed to be lost when Jesus took his last breath.  Never underestimate the power and timing of God.  The way God chooses to play out life may not be what many of us would have chosen, however, He is God and he has every right to write the script any way he wants. Thankfully, God writes the ending with a dramatic resurrection of his Son!

May we all experience the blessings of the resurrection on this Easter Sunday!

Remember, Be God Controlled!

Brian

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Is God Enough?


I’ve had enough!  Enough is enough.  There aren’t enough hours in a day.  Is that loud enough?  I’m mad enough to…  That’s enough for now.  Good enough. 

Enough?

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines enough as:  Occurring in such quantity, quality, or scope as to fully meet demands, needs, or expectations.”

If we really think about it, there are so many things that occur in such quantity that sometimes it takes our breath away.  Various tragedies that we experience fill our mind with enough pain, sadness and misery that it is hard to cope through the day.  Losing a job fills us with enough insecurities that we become consumed with being a “less than kind of person.”  Gaining weight opens the door to simply trying to find enough clothes to fit properly.  Then there is pouring our heart and soul into trying to please someone so much that we feel we can’t do enough to please them or earn their respect. 

Enough is a big word in the scheme of things.  Is enough really enough?  Are we always trying to fill our glass full or is the glass simply enough?  Is it possible that we work so hard to be enough that we grow tried and weary and frustrated and heartbroken and depressed and lonely and afraid and reckless in the pursuit of making others happy? 

Is it ever ok to say, “Enough?” 

I was told once, “I was enough.”  I really didn’t get what the person was trying to tell me.  I actually had to look up the word, enough.  When I discovered that I was fully meeting needs or expectations, it occurred to me that it isn’t what a person does for someone else that ultimately brings people closer together, rather, it is the heart of love that brings people together and that a person can say to the other, you are enough.  Isn’t that wonderful?!  It made my day big time to hear, I am enough!

I am not one who does anything for anyone so that I can be enough for someone to like me.  I do because I thoroughly enjoy helping others.  God wired me that way.  On the other hand, there are insecurities that bombard me in which I need others to fill me with enough positive affirmation to combat the negativities that consume my mind.  You know what I’m talking about, right?  It is challenging, demanding and frustrating to needy so that there is enough positive affirmation. 

Someone also said, “Is God enough?” or “Do you need people more than you need God?”  The response was, sure, God is enough.  Really?  Is he?  Does he fill the void enough?  Does he provide enough?  Does he care enough? Does he love enough?  Does he forgive enough?  Does he….do anything enough?

The Apostle Paul struggled big time in the pursuit of sharing Jesus.  The day he became a Jesus follower, his life changed forever.  He lost friends.  The established Apostles didn’t trust him at first.  He was jailed.  Beaten. Stoned.  Lied about.  Rejected.  Enough is enough for one person to endure, right? 

Listen to what Paul said about God being enough, You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, his generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus. Our God and Father abounds in glory that just pours out into eternity. Yes.” (Philippians 4:19-20 – The Message)

The Apostle understood that in negative circumstances you don’t “throw up your hands and shout, ENOUGH, rather, it is being sure that God will take very good care of you…because he is ENOUGH!

No matter what is happening in our lives, God is always enough to get us through the tough stuff.  He has enough resources to aide us.  He has enough connections to provide for us.  He has enough abilities to place someone at our door to help us, love us, and care for us. He has enough of whatever you need to get from one day to the next day.  The question is:  Will you be willing to say, God, you’re enough?

Remember, Be God Controlled!

Brian

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Running Back to God

The word “control” has become a key word in social settings either in media, politics, coffee shops or kitchen table conversations. 

Every time there is a mass shooting, “control” of guns makes its way back to the debate stage.  News media outlets flood the airwaves to discuss the pros and cons of gun control and debate our nations 2nd Amendment Rights to bear arms.  Social Media become a blistering place where arguments pin friends against friends in their pursuit of winning the gun control argument.   

Gun control isn’t the only issue that takes center stage.  For some, birth control is a huge issue.  For others, drugs and the need to control them is paramount.  No matter what control issue is at the forefront, it is interesting to watch and listen to people become out of control as they do their best to convince others they are right. 

Maybe you’ve heard phrases such as: Control your kids or you’re out of control or the car lost control or I’m tired of being controlled.  The word control is significant and needs to be taken seriously. 

Google’s online definition of control is: The power to influence or direct people's behavior or the course of events.”  Think about the definition for a bit.  “The power to influence or direct…” Is it possible that all of us attempt to “influence or direct people’s behavior” almost on a daily basis?  Is it possible that parents or preachers or politicians or teacher or doctors or news commentators in some way “influence or direct people’s behavior?”

Wait!

How can parenting be lump in the same category as fighting to control gun laws or the birth control debate?  The key is understanding the terminology of the word, “control.”  A parent’s responsibility is to influence and direct [child] behavior for the betterment of the home and society.  Ephesians 6:4 says, Parents, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” (NLT)

Influence is key.  Positive influence is vitally important to have godly families, godly communities and a godly nation. 

Legislatively, government can establish all kinds of “control” laws in order to stop the negative influence and madness of mass shootings, gang violence, drug abuse, or unwanted pregnancies; but until our nation sees the value in living a God-controlled life, then our nation will continue to experience the epidemic of out of control people.  

Psalm 22:27-28 says it best, “From the four corners of the earth people are coming to their senses, are running back to God.  Long-lost families are falling on their faces before him. God has taken charge; from now on he has the last word.”(The Message) 

There needs to be a “running back to God” so no one has to fear walking down a city street or going to school or church or concert.  There needs to be a “running back to God” so that the drug epidemic ceases to be problematic. There needs to be a “running back to God” so that our legislators are not tangled up in fashionable trends of social acceptance, but rather, legislating godly values and principles. 

A “running back to God” means that God is the The power to influence or direct people's behavior or the course of events.”  When God is in control, then the mass shootings stop and the drug epidemic ceases to be and people will feel save again to walk down a street without fear or sit in a classroom without worrying if their school will be the next casualty. 

Ultimately there are two things all of us can do now:

            1.  Run back to God!
            2.  Be God Controlled!

Remember, Be God Controlled!

Brian


             
           

Friday, February 9, 2018

Life's Tough


“Rain, rain go away, come back another day!”  I’ve said that rhyme countless times as a kid, especially when there was a big event outside or I had a baseball game or some other activity that the rain would have cancelled it.  

Like rain, there are many things in life that could fit into the rhyme, such as, Pain.  Cancer.  Death. Fear.  Loneliness.  Emptiness. And, the list can go on for miles and miles. 

Who really wants setbacks, difficulties, painful experiences, bad medical news, loneliness or fear?  No one!  No one wakes up and says, “I really hope this is the worse day ever!”  No one calls a friend and says, “I can’t wait to be miserable today!”  No one goes to the doctor and says, “Hey doc, please tell me the worse news possible.”  No one wants bad news, bad days or bad experiences. 

However.

Bad news, bad days and bad experiences are all a part of our life’s journey.  Ok, I get it, this isn’t the most pleasant reading and it is a bit depressing.  King David was no exception to dealing with the tough stuff of life.  He cried out to God and said,  Long enough, God—you’ve ignored me long enough. I’ve looked at the back of your head long enough. Long enough
I’ve carried this ton of trouble, lived with a stomach full of pain. Long enough my arrogant enemies have looked down their noses at me.”
(Psalm 13:1-2—The Message)

Is it possible that all of us could say, “Long enough, God?”  When is the end in sight?  Where is the relief?  Where is the help?  When is the cure coming?  Stop!  Please let it stop!  No more! 

“Go away, but never come back another day!”

God?  You there?  This is me…the one you created by your own hands.  Did you forget me?  God?  Hello?  You there?  I need you!  I really need you!  Please God, answer me.  It is so tiring to try and pay the electric bill or hope to have enough gas in the car with a little bit of money.  It is frustrating to pray and yet it seems like nothing is getting better.  I want you, God.  I desire no one but you; however, when will the “rain” stop?  When will the heartache stop hurting?  When will the loneliness go away?  When will the gloom find its way out and the sun find its way through the thickness of adversity?

I want to say what King David said, “The Lord is my shepherd, and there is no one I want besides you.” (Psalm 23:1)  I want to believe, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you,” (Hebrews 13:5—The Message) And, I want to be assured that there is ultimate joy when life is tough and painful and hard and hectic and downright miserable. 

God, the Prophet Jeremiah said, “Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.” (Jeremiah 33:3—The Message) Thank you God for reassuring us that you will not leave us in difficult times and that you will give us answers to life’s challenges and painful experiences and hard to deal with situations. 

You, Father, get our full attention and respect.  While it is easy to whine about a lot of things, it is knowing that you really do care, provide and do constant check ups on each of the billons of kids you have that gets us through the rough spots of life.   

Father, Father, Come to stay and never ever go away!

Remember, Be God Controlled!

Brian

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Life Happens


Life happens.  Really?  Life happens?  What does that really mean?  Life.  Happens.  Over the years I have witnessed one crisis after another.  There is devastation. Loss of every kind.  Brutality.  Hatred.  Illnesses.  Financial turmoil.  Marriages that fail.  Shootings.  Riots.  Pain.  And, war.

Life happens in every nook and cranny of our existence.  No one is exempt from life’s challenges.  Many ask:  Does God care?  Is he aware of the horrific happenings in our lives?  Does he not hear our cries for help?  Will God not provide comfort?  Solutions? Help?  Grace?  The rope to hang on is getting tougher by the second.  The strength it takes to grip the rope is beginning to take its toll and the fatigue is overwhelming.  Wariness has set in for the time being.  Emptiness has taken its place in the mind.  Loneliness is burdensome.  Teary eyes.  Anger has the stage.  Guilt pulls into the station for its turn. 

Is there any hope for the restless mind that’s constantly on a journey of painful memories and sleepless nights and the fear of what will happen? 

GRACE!  Where are you?  Please take your place so the soul can rest and the memories will not be so daunting and the days are not so long and the nights are met with quality sleep and the fear will dissipate into oblivion. 

There is a longing for calmness in the turbulent storm.  Conflicts are beating a continual rhythm of frustration.  And, the exhaustion from thinking about the adversity being experienced is increasingly annoying. 

Where is that place to rest?  There is a real need to catch a breath and catch up with every emotion that takes its journey through the mind.  Is there a sanctuary where one can go to be free to express hurt?  Is there that one friend who will listen and who can be trusted and who is faithful? 

Asaph was a music director in the big Israeli choir.  In Psalm 73, Asaph was opining over his life.  He compared the ways of those who lived godless and the way he had been living his life and thought that he may have lived his life in vain.  He said that the wicked are carefree and lives a troubled free life; yet, his life was banged around with trouble and strife.  Asaph didn’t stay in the pity party too long. His connection with God helped him grasp the difficulties of life.  Asaph’s sanctuary moment with God reminded him that in life, good and bad happens even to the ones who live honorably.  He also remembered that while wicked people possess an abundance of stuff and live life carefree and may outwardly seem they have it altogether, there will be a day of reckoning for those whose life isn’t in step with God’s standard.       

Life really happens and it isn’t always good.  There are bad things that happen to people whose lives are honorable in every way.  God said, I’m always there for you.  Jesus, said, you can come and count on me anytime and I will provide exactly what you need. 

Decisions to adjust ones life based on bad stuff that has happened or is happening can cost one a great deal.  The cost may be a job.  Marriage.  Financial hardship.  Friends.  And, a plethora of other things.  However, when one sets out on a course to change one’s life for the betterment of him/herself, then it is imperative that one is willing to accept the challenges from those who disagree.  The key is to allow God to lead and be willing to be patient. 

Life happens and it isn’t always good. Life happens and it isn’t always bad.  Life happens and it zaps one’s energy.  Life happens and it fills one with joy.  Life happens and it is totally devastating.  Life happens and it gives one an unforgettable positive experience. 

No matter what is happening in life, God is always on the scene.  God is always aware.  God is always working out the details to get us where we need to be.  God is always providing resources.  God is always leading us to be renewed, refreshed and revived. 

Seeing God in the intricacies of life with enable each of us to be better, feel better and live better. 

Remember, Be God Controlled!

Brian   


Thursday, November 16, 2017

How to live an Anxious and Worry-Free Life


"Do not be anxious about anything...." Philippians 4:6 Paul’s words to the believers in Philippi are not easy ones to swallow. When you tell someone not to do something, there has to be a good reason why they need to stop.  While Paul was giving advice to the believers, he was dealing with his own issues of incarceration. Also, there was an anxious spirit stirring by a couple of the ladies in the church family (Euodia and Syntyche) who were fighting and causing division.

Anxiousness is gripping and it keeps us in a whirlwind of uncertainty. The Greek word translated as "anxious" is "to be pulled in different directions." Our fearfulness pulls us in one direction and our hope pulls us in the other direction; thus, we are pulled apart!

Worry is an old German word called: Wyrgan. It means, "to strangle, choke, or tear at the throat with teeth." The word is still used in its original meaning: when we speak of a cat worrying a mouse. "Cats play with their prey before they kill it. A slap to the head sends the mouse reeling and sliding across the floor. While it is still groggy, a slap on the other side sends it sliding back. It is only when the cat gets tired of this game that it goes for the throat."

Dictatorial regimes enjoy watching their citizens become anxious and worrisome. Once the regime has them in the grips of anxiousness, they now can effectively rule and control them. Jesus, on the other hand is not about being a tyrant dictatorial king who oppresses his subjects, but rather, a gentle Savior whose desire is to remove stress, anxiety, and a worrisome life.

Matthew 5 records that Jesus nestled himself on the side of a mountain and began to teach the large crowd who had diseases, pain, demon-possession, seizures, and those who were paralyzed.  In Matthew 6:25-34 Jesus is giving spiritual guidance to the thousands with the problem of a worried and stressed out life.

Want to know How to live an anxious and worry-free life Jesus' way?

Check this out from Matthew 6:25-27

Don't fuss over food and clothes (Matthew 6:25)

Don’t forget who provides for you (Matthew 6:26)

Don’t fight what you cannot change (Matthew 6:27)

Remember, Be God Controlled

Brian


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Family Ties


My sister, Beverly is big on family.  Throughout her house, there is the word “family” either on her wall or on a plaque that is positioned somewhere that can be clearly seen.    She models the wife and mother of Proverbs 31.  Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it…Her children respect and bless her” (MSG) I am proud to be her brother and have witnessed her remarkable ability to love unconditionally and walk endlessly to ensure her family is ok through the good and bad times.

Family must be a place that is safe and free from hurts and heartache.  Just because we are family, doesn’t give anyone the right to be demeaning and disrespectful.  Mother Teresa said it best, We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.”   When a family sees each other as a gift from God and the uniqueness each one brings to the home, then and only then does it because a true sanctuary of peace and kindness and love and joy and laughter and patience and a bottomless bowl of grace. 
 
One of the best places to see God’s intent for the family is found in Ephesians 5&6.  I’ve heard it said many times that the husband is the superior of the home and everyone else falls into their proper places.  The Apostle Paul did not intend for there to be an inferiority in the home.  Looking closely at what was being taught, Paul gave some specifics in the way we treat each other.  Wives submit to your husbands.  The submission is not one of inferiority, rather of love and respect.  Paul told the husbands to love their wives.  Love is demonstrated by seeking out the best in the wife you vowed to honor and cherish and be there in sickness and in health until death.  To the children Paul said to obey your parents.  Obeying simply means to honor the wishes of your parents.  Godly parents will never order something done that will harm you or cause you to be disobedient to God. 

There must not be anything or anyone that comes between the family.  Walt Disney said, “A man should never neglect his family for business.”   It has been said, “a family who plays together, stays together” or “a family who prays together, stays together.”  The best times for families are vacations and ballgames and concerts and dance recitals and county fairs and camping trips and collecting lighting bugs and eating dinner and praying and praising Jesus and helping a stranger and giving food to a hungry person and visiting the nursing home and reading the bible and sharing Jesus and hugging and holding hands and saying, I love you.

Maya Angelou said it well when she said “I sustain myself with the love of family.”  Being sustained by the love of a family is a comfort that will take away the fear of loneliness and replace it with a peace knowing I’m loved and someone is there for me.  It will also take away depression and replace it with joy and hope. 

Family is a gift.  Never take it for granted.  Love unconditionally and never allow yourself to be so upset with your siblings, parents or other relatives that you stop talking to them.  If this is you, pick up the phone and mend your relationship.  One day, they will not be around to laugh with or hug or simply sit on the front porch and chat for hours. 

Remember, Be God Controlled!

Brian