Monday, March 31, 2014

Saved in Amber

The title is the title of our  devotional for April.  Like all the others, it's 14 days, which gives an opportunity to go through it twice and allow the edification to sink in more than with just one reading.  That's the cover, to the right.  You can get it for your Kindle, here: http://amzn.to/1lxkCw4 .  

There are still eight more devotionals to come.  And, if there's enough demand, we may put the whole set together in one volume as a hardcopy, in time for Christmas.  In the meantime, enjoy April's thoughts.

You might have noticed that there was no post and no tweets for Friday through Sunday.  We've had a number of different things come together at once.  Nothing bad.  But I still can only be in one place at a time.  No matter how often I practice my omnipresence, I still can't seem to get it right.  And my multitasking capabilities are limited.  As a result, we don't have one of the last few installments ready in our "Coal or Diamond" series.  So, what we thought we'd do is share one of the devotionals from "Saved in Amber".  We hope you enjoy it.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Coal or Diamond - Part 20

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Last time, we started with a Bob Dylan quote.  It was a good starting point, then. And it's a good place to begin, today. Bob Dylan said, "All I can do is be me, whoever that is.".  Most of us don't look, act, think like Bob Dylan.  For that matter, we aren't exactly the same as our next door neighbor.  And that's true whether we're Christian or not.

Staying with the analogy of the title of our series, we all start as coal.  But no two pieces are alike.  Some don't have enough substance to withstand any pressure.  Others go through less pressure, remain as pieces of coal, but lack enough substance to be very useful for anything coal is normally used for.  Still others are good coal, but never face any pressure to be transformed.  But what of the rest of the coal, the ones who go through the pressure well?

Friday, March 21, 2014

Coal or Diamond - Part 19

image used under Creative Commons license, courtesy of en.wikipedia.org
All I can do is be me, whoever that is. -- Bob Dylan

I'm not sure if that statement came before or after Bob Dylan's foray into Christianity.  But it's a truism we don't want to forget.  Think about that one.

If we're not connected to God, what we display may be us or what we'd like others to see as us.  We're 100% responsible.  And, if any of that is based on lies, we have to remember those lies. And we most likely will need to embellish on them.

If we do have a relationship with God, the same is basically true.  However, if we get out of the way and let God run the show, there are no lies to remember, God's responsible for the outcome, and God will aim us in the direction that results in the best us possible.  It doesn't take much imagination to figure out which way will create the most painless result.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

We Are Thankful Because We Are Forgiven [Video]

image used under Creative Commons 
license, courtesy of Wikipedia
Here's an interesting combination.  Today's video is from Sunday night.  The introduction is by Pastor Justin Schaller, the son of our head Pastor.  I can say I've been privileged to do outreach together with Justin, before he was a pastor.  He's a young man filled with rich spiritual content.  The main message is by Pastor Bruce Wright.  Over the years, he's been my first pastor in this ministry, a friend, and a mentor.  I like to joke that it's his fault I am the way I am because he threw me out of New Jersey and made me go to Bible college. 

But, seriously, I'm blessed to be surrounded by men with such hearts after God.  And here's a couple of examples of how to really think with God.  I hope they bless you as much as they bless me.


Monday, March 17, 2014

Coal or Diamond - Part 18

image used under Creative Commons license, courtesy of en.wikipedia.org
We've talked a lot about diamonds in the this series, but much less so about coal. On a chilly night or morning, I'd guarantee that most people would be happier seeing the light of burning coal embers than the reflected and refracted light coming through a diamond, without a warm fire going.

We said it earlier in this series, but it bears repeating.  The diamond is beautiful, but that's its sole source of value.  And it'll never become a piece of coal.  The piece of coal isn't much to look at, but it's value is in its usefulness, not its appearance. But, under the right conditions, coal can still become a diamond, reflecting the light around it.  That highlights some very important truths about our walk with God.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Coal or Diamond - Part 17

image used under Creative Commons license, from the Toronto History page on Flikr
Our previous post left off where I had my life and thinking turned around and upside down.  It was both good and bad.  

It was good because I was now headed in the same direction as God.  I wasn't fighting the Holy Spirit any longer.  Yes, I had been denying His prior nudges.

It was bad because like that coal wagon, the weight of the baggage I hadn't let go of, yet, had me somewhat stuck in the mud.  And, while I might be becoming useful, I hadn't been pressurized enough to become a diamond, much less a cut gem of beauty.  And, like that horse drawn coal wagon, I may have been adding some usefulness, but I was also still dropping some manure along my spiritual path.  And there were some spiritual realities that, looking back, have had a huge impact on my future walk with God.  And on my understanding of who He is and how He thinks.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Virtuoso of Righteousness

We're starting to put together our April devotional booklet.  With Easter coming, it should be an interesting one.

As I'm sure you've realized by the number of times I've shared some of his devotionals, I'm a big fan of Todd Parsons' spirituality.  And I greatly treasure his friendship.  Although I don't share his writings as often, Pastor Allan Leitner is another one who I esteem in the same ways.  Here's a reshare of one of Pastor Allan's gems.  Those instruments in our illustration fit the thought.  Whether we play the instrument or are the instrument God plays, the resulting spiritual sound is important.  This one's from 2012.


Monday, March 10, 2014

Coal or Diamond - Part 16

image used under Creative Commons license, courtesy of Wikipedia
Salvation is the solution for our eternal problem.  But it doesn't always show immediate temporal results. That got me thinking about some things I consider spiritual misconceptions. We have a way of looking at salvation from a human perspective and turning it into something it's not.

The stone in today's image is an uncut diamond. That's after the stone has undergone the necessary pressure to transform from coal into a diamond.  This particular stone is obviously closer to the ideal for a final cut product than the one illustrating part 6 of this series.  But, in either case, there's mining, separating from the material around it, cleaning, study by the diamond cutter, then cutting and polishing.  After study and cutting, the flaws in some diamonds make them less marketable. Some may have flaws that are either too great or positioned in a way that it's unwise to try to cut the diamond into a gemstone.  But, no matter what the condition of the stone, it's still a diamond. Where that reality compares to our Christianity is where things get interesting.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Coal or Diamond - Part 15

image used under Creative Commons license, photo by Atranias, on Pixabay
I'm amazed that this series has run as long as it has. At the same time, I'm not. Some details have been eliminated to avoid making wrong lifestyle choices appear glamorous, when they shouldn't seem like there's a reason one might want to try them.  And the focus needs to be on God, not on me, despite the somewhat autobiographical nature of this series.  And it seems that, each time we start writing the latest post, there are life and doctrinal gems that just need to be shared.  Today is no different, as we look at an application of the key verses from our last two posts.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Letting Humility Rule Us‏

image used under Creative Commons license, photo by Jody McIntyre, imported from Flikr
It seems like Wednesday is not just our day for guest posts, videos, tech posts, etc.  It also seems to be when we post our site announcements.  So, here's more.  

You may have noticed the site navigation links at the top of the page have expanded.  We've added a page listing our books (most recent first).  The covers, titles, and descriptions are included.  And the text titles link to the Amazon page for that book.

Second, we'll be reviewing Pastor Jason Moore's latest book very soon.  And, shortly after that, we'll be posting an interview with him.  We're excited to be able to share those blessings with you on upcoming Wednesdays.

Today, we have more great insights from our friend, Todd Parsons.  This time, he looks at humility placing us in our rightful position in God's kingdom.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Coal or Diamond - Part 14

 image is used under Creative Commons license, courtesy of Wikipedia’s Wikimedia.
Isaiah 55:8-9 (KJV)  For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.  

We apply that in a lot of ways, some appropriate, others not so much.  More often than not, it's used out of context to highlight in some way how much we are influenced by our flesh. I can hear us now, like scolding a puppy for going in the wrong place, "Bad flesh!  Bad people!". But that's really not what this passage is all about.  It's actually the middle of a passage that shows God drawing people to Himself by giving us reasons why being one with Him is good. Take a look and see what we mean.