Being Too Busy

christmas yard

One of the busiest seasons is upon us–Christmas season. Although it has two different holidays where most people get it off or at least partially off, they are busier than normal.

It seems as if there is always a million things to do each day and not enough time in the day to get everything done. With Christmas there is the time of trying to figure out who I need to get gifts for. Then decide what gifts should I get, along with what can I really afford to get. Along with the gifts, there are Christmas concerts, recitals, plays, and services going on almost daily somewhere. There are friends and family putting on events that you must attend.

christmas play

As if that is not enough to make a person crazy, one must also decide which family member to go visit for Christmas, how long you will stay, how will you get there, and where you will stay during the visit.

At the home, you must also set up the Christmas tree and hang up or set up all the decorations. Decisions must be made on how the outside of the house and yard will be decorated. Then time must be taken to get all the supplies, change out all the burnt out lightbulbs and set it all up.

Inside the house, decisions on what deserts must be made. Baking all the Christmas cookies, cakes and candies are being done at a rapid pace.

christmas deserts

As all this is occurring, most people are still working a regular job, taking kids to practices or school, cooking meals, doing the laundry, cleaning the house, and the list goes on.

With all of these things occurring, many people often regret Christmas or lose sight of what the meaning of Christmas is all about. On Christmas morning, some families pull out a Bible and read the story of the birth of Jesus. It is often the only time that they really thought about the meaning of Christmas in all the hustle and bustle of life and getting ready for Christmas.

As you are getting ready for Christmas think of this verse:

Psalm 46_10

Look at the scene in this picture. See the trees, water and snow are sitting perfectly still. All of creation is sitting still knowing God is God and He is in control of it all. Nature does not show any hustle and bustle about anything.

Relax and get back to the real reason why you celebrate Christmas. It is about God loving this world so much that He gave His one and only Son to save you. It is not about all the giving and getting, lights and decorations, or even visiting family, it is completely about Jesus.

If you do not get all the decorations up, if you do not get everyone the perfect present, if you do not get some baked goods completed, it will be ok. Life in this world will still go on. Jesus will still save you from your sins.

Take a moment at least once a day, preferably many more times each day, to stop and thank God for the season. Give thanks to God for His great love in sending His Son to save you. Thank God for the greatest gift ever given–life.

Take a moment to realize the meaning of this great holiday. It is to remember what God has done for you.

Do not allow yourself to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of this season so much that you miss out on what Jesus is doing in your life. Be still and know that He is God.

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Changing The Mindset

Homestead

Over Thanksgiving weekend my family was able to go to a Homestead Heritage Fair that occurs in Central Texas every year over that weekend. The fair is put on by a group of people who desire to get back to the basics of life and be able to live off of the land. Their hearts are set on following God and putting down all the distracting things in this life, going back to a more simple, but fulfilling lifestyle.

The families that put this on display many of the crafts that they have done. Many of these items are also available for purchasing. Most of these crafts are built by children, from the age of 7, up through high school. Some of these displays are woodworking, metal working, quilting, various types of sewing, paintings, books, food, and much more.

Homemade chairs             Quilt

Along with having many different crafts for sale, they also have many different sessions teaching or talking about various subjects. Some of these are harnessing a horse, cotton preparation and spinning, cheese making, sustainable gardens, rope making, horse training, raising goats or chickens, food preservation, and many more.

My wife and I focused on various sessions on gardening and raising chickens. On Friday we had brought most of our children, who enjoyed making some crafts and going through a petting zoo. They also enjoyed seeing many different farm animals up close.

One of the sessions I went to was called, “Small Homestead Energy Alternatives.” It was a session talking about various energy alternatives that people can do to save money on their energy bill.

Energy

The first thing the speaker talked about was for a person to take a serious look at how energy is used in the home. Then to take note of where energy is wasted in the home. When a person really looks at all the things that use energy in a home, it is quite amazing at how much uses energy. One thing for a person to do is turn off the lights and then look around the room for any other lights that light up in the dark. Each of those little lights are energy users, and usually wasting energy. One can also look for any leaks of air in doorways, windows and connections in the wall.

He stated that once you have an inventory of how energy is used, then you must work to change that pattern and use less energy. The number one thing to do is turn things completely off, rather than leave them in a stand-by mode. While in stand-by mode there is energy still being used that is actually being wasted, because it is not usefully being used.

This is probably one of the most difficult things for a person to do, because it requires a change of the mindset, a change in how a person does things or thinks about things.

Once a person changes his mind about energy usage, then the rest of the alternatives of providing energy for a house may be applied.

As helpful as this was for the house, God revealed to me that this can also be applied to the spiritual life also.

Ephesians 4_11-24

 

Paul tells us that we are to change the attitudes of our minds. We are to be a new person in Christ Jesus. This is a change of the mindset. Before knowing Jesus, you are a person who followed the ways of this world, rather than the ways of God. The desires of your mind were corrupted by deceitful desires, things that were not good and were selfish.

Colossians 3_1-2

 

As a believer in Jesus, you must set your mind and heart on things above, things that concern God. As long as you focus on the things of this earth, you will struggle to be more like Jesus and to please God more. Focusing on God will help you to see that what He desires for you is better than anything you can choose or this world will ever offer.

John 14_15

 

Jesus said that if you really love Him, you will obey Him. You will want to do what He commands because you really do love Him.

All of these things come from a change of the mind. It is not natural for man to follow God. It is not natural for a person to love his enemy. It is not natural for a man to sacrifice himself for someone who does not love him. It is not natural to deny oneself for a physically unseen future. It is not natural to follow someone that cannot be physically seen.

Many Christians struggle with various sins in their life. They cannot seem to ever get a handle on rejecting that sin. With a change of the mind, it can bring about the needed victory over the sin. The mind has to learn to focus on what God wants and desires. The change of mindset changes from things of this earth to the things of God. At that point, the power of sin is no longer there. There is no more pull towards sin, because the pull of God is much greater and better.

Change Your Mindset

Just as with changing the mindset in how you use energy in your home, you must also change your mind in how you follow God and reject the things of this world. Both ways go against the norm of most people, yet, both can be very beneficial to the person.

How is your mind today? What is your mind focused on today?

Cracks And Scars

Porch 3

Our porch has been in need of restoration for several years. My wife and I have often talked about needing to re-stain and seal the wood on and off for a number of years. Each year we look at the porch and see new cracks in the wood from the wood drying out and being weathered. Living in Texas is harsh on the wood, with the extreme heat in the summer.

Yet as we much as we talked about refinishing and restoring the porch, it kept getting put off. The reasons were different each time, but usually centered around two main things. One is having the finances to pay for the materials to restore it. The other is having the time to do the required work.  I’m not sure which one was more common than the other, it definitely went back and forth on it.

After some planning, we were finally able to start the work on the porch. As I started, part of me was wondering if it would be worth the effort. The deck of the porch was so worn out and cracked, that it looked like it needed to be sent to the graveyard. There did not seem to be any real hope of being able to restore it without completely replacing it.

Porch 2

Yesterday, two of my boys and I started working on putting on the stain and sealant. We chose to start on the railings first. As we started, we quickly realized that doing the railings were going to be very slow and tedious. They were rounded, with a design of several curves in it. After a couple of hours, only one small section of the railings were done. It was very discouraging. I only have a couple of days to work on this, and wanted to get it finished, in the midst of many other things that we are doing or have to do with Thanksgiving break.

In the late afternoon, I decided that instead of finishing the railings, I would focus on getting the deck finished. This was to get it sealed prior to night when it would get dirty again. I did not want to have to wash it again, in order to finish the deck.

Doing the deck only took about two hours of work. And it made the porch look great and gave me hope that it would get completed.

Porch split

As I was putting on the stain and the sealant on the deck, I noticed the difference it was making. Looking at the railings, it looked nice, but I could not see how much of a difference it was really making. The deck was much different.

God opened my eyes to see something in that old porch. As a human being I go through a lot of things. Often I make choices that are bad and cause damage in my life. Other things happen that are outside my control and create scars in my life. Left alone, those damages and scars only get worse. They look terrible and my life will continue to fall apart.

Left on its own, the porch was going through the damage of the sun and wind over the years. It was cracking and sagging under the weight of time and weather. The porch does not have the ability to repair itself or maintain itself correctly, it needs outside help.

If I am left on my own, I will also sag and crack under the weight of sin in this world, both personal and the sins of others. Just as the porch needed help from someone, so also I am need of help from someone. The help that the porch can get, can be from myself or someone else. However, the help that I need to restore me can only come from God.

Jesus shed His blood on the cross to be able to remove the sin from my life. Although He has removed the sin, the scars and damage are often still seen. However, as I allow His Spirit to live in me, it creates a new heart and life in me. I am no longer black with sin, but white with the righteousness of Jesus. I am a new creation in Christ Jesus. I have new life in me.

2 Corinthians 5_17

As this porch is being finished, I am seeing new life in it. It is being restored. If you look at it closely, you can still see the damage from years of neglect, but standing back from it, the porch looks almost new. It is a new creation.

Those cracks and scars are a reminder of what had occurred and the work that is required to keep it from happening any more.

In my life, there are cracks and scars from years of spiritual neglect, yet, they show me what God can still do in me. God can still use me, despite the cracks and scars.

In your life, it can be the same way. Allow God to restore you to what you are meant to be. Allow Him to work in your life to restore you and give you a heart of flesh. Allow Him to use those cracks to reach others and be real to them about past shortcomings. God can and will use you, if you allow Him to work in you to restore you, cracks and scars.

Mighty To Save

Mighty To Save

I did not have anything that God has really placed on my heart to write about this week, but I have had a song on my heart for several days. It is the song, “Mighty To Save.” Here are the lyrics to it:

Everyone needs compassion
A love that’s never failing
Let mercy fall on me
Everyone needs forgiveness
A kindness of a Savior
The hope of nations
Savior
He can move the mountains
My God is Mighty to save
He is Mighty to save
Forever
Author of salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave
So take me as You find me
All my fears and failures
Fill my life again
I give my life to follow
Everything I believe in
Now I surrender
Shine your light and let the whole world see
We’re singing for the glory of the risen King? Jesus
Left my fear by the side of the road
Hear You speak
Won’t let go
Fall to my knees as I lift my hands to pray
Got every reason to be here again
Father’s love that draws me in
And all my eyes wanna see is a glimpse of You
All I
All I need is You
All I need is You Lord
Is you Lord
One more day and it’s not the same
Your spirit calls my heart to sing
Drawn to the voice of my Savior once again
Where would my soul be without Your Son
Gave His life to save the earth
Rest in the thought that You’re watching over me
All I need is You
All I need is You Lord
Is You Lord
You hold the universe
You hold everyone on earth
You hold the universe
You hold
You hold
All I need is You
All I need is You Lord
Is You Lord
Songwriters: Rodney Clawson
Mighty to Save lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.
No matter what you are going through or have had to go through in your past, no matter what you have done in your past, God is there for you and can save you. Jesus paid the price of dying on the cross for all of your sins. He then rose from the dead. If He can conquer death in His own life, He can conquer death and sin in your life also.
Seek the Lord, while He may be found, because He is all you need. He is mighty to save!
Along with seeking the Lord for your own life, get out there and tell someone else about Jesus. Let the whole world know that Jesus is mighty to save!
Listen to Michael W. Smith sing this song: Mighty To Save

Playing Games

Playing Sports

Every weekend, all over the country people are playing games. Millions of people are watching those people playing games. Right now it is football season in America. Middle school, high school, college and pro-football games are being played by many players. This does not even include the people who get together for a quick fun game in their backyard or down at some park, the non-organized games.

Throughout the year there are different games being played. There is soccer, baseball, volleyball, golf, wrestling, and too many others to name all of them. Some people like to play multiple different types of games, while others just play one.

I have never been a person to play on a team that plays for regular competition. When I was in high school, I did try out wrestling for a while, but gave it up. I liked it, but not enough to practice everyday for an hour or two.

Over the years I have always enjoyed going out and playing a quick game of baseball, basketball, football, soccer, golf, and other games. Just to go and have a little fun, although I never played on a regular basis. Although now that I am much older and have a large family, I rarely to never play those games in more. I would rather spend time with my family.

img_1010.jpg

There are days now when I take a couple of my boys outside and throw a ball or frisbee around some. With my younger boys, I will often play a game of tag, light-sabers, or hide and seek. And unless one of my boys are playing a game, I don’t watch any sport being played.

When I play a game of football, basketball or most any other sport, I can have a fun time, but in reality I don’t know what I am doing. I don’t know the specifics of playing the sport or being really good at it. Unless I am with a bunch of others who are really good at it, I will most likely lose the game. I am only going through the motions of playing a good game.

I have never been one to sit down and watch any sport, although I can enjoy some if I am watching it at your house with you. If I am watching a football game on tv, I can easily get up and leave it in the middle and really not care about the score in the end.

A&M football game

Why do people love to play or watch games being played?

Playing games is about competition and being the best. People want to escape the struggles of daily life and go have some fun. If one consistently looses all the games he plays, usually he will change the sport or just stop playing. No one wants to constantly lose.

In life, there is another game that many people like to play. It is a game with God. They want to claim they are believers in God, but really are playing a game with Him.

Even with God, people want to win their own way. God has plans for each person, however, the person does not always see those plans as a winning plan. They see them as struggles and problems, not solutions and winning.

Matthew 7_21-23.jpg

 

It is easy to claim to know God and claim to follow God. No one can honestly say you are wrong. Claiming to know God is not the same as following God. If you are not doing what God wants you to do, you really don’t know God and are definitely not following Him. In the end He will claim that He does not know you.

Every week millions of people go to some church, claiming to be a Christian. They are faithful to going to church every Sunday. If all a person saw of them was on Sunday, they would appear to be a good Christian believer in God. They appear to be walking with God.

People in church

Looking at many of those same people throughout the week in the rest of their world, may show a different picture. Many refuse to take time to pray or read the Bible. Very few say anything about Jesus to those they come in contact with. Their words are not loving and compassionate. Their actions follow the ways of this world, rather than those of God.

This is a game that they are attempting to play with God. People often think that they are doing good, when in reality they are only doing their own thing and not following God and His ways. They can appear like they know what they are doing and are doing good, but in reality are falling and failing in the end.

1 Samuel 16_7.png

When Samuel was looking for the new person to be king of Israel, he looked at many of Jessie’s sons and thought they were the one. They appeared to be the best and doing right. However, they were just playing a game. God looks at the heart of a person and really knows who they are and what they are about.

Galatians 6_7.png

 

Playing games with God is not a good thing to do. God sees through the façade of what one is doing. He sees into the heart. You cannot fool Him in any way.

You do not want to be found in the end that you played a game with God, trying to fool Him. Live your life for God from your heart. Follow God with all of your heart, and not just in word. Be His true and faithful witness in this world everyday of the week, not just on Sundays or in church.

 

 

A Time To Scare?

Halloween

October brings about a holiday that children all over the nation love. It is one that makes a child able to get a lot of candy. It is a time for both children and adults to dress up like someone or something else. Costume parties are located everywhere. It is Halloween.

Along with all of the fun, candy, and costumes that Halloween brings, there is also the element of scaring people. Some people go to extreme levels of dressing up in costumes. It is more than just a simple bed sheet as a ghost. Those who go to the extreme levels, make it appear as though they are physically injured or deformed. The realism of the costumes and makeup is amazing.

Trick Or Treat

People usually fall into one of two categories of thought when it comes to Halloween. There are those who run with it and have lots of fun, regardless of the implications or thoughts behind it. The others run from it and will have nothing to do with Halloween at all, because the primary thought behind it is demonic or celebrating the evil in this world.

For my family, I have led them to never really celebrate Halloween for what it is. My children have never dressed up to go out and go trick or treating.

One thing that has become very popular in our area is the idea of trunk or treating. It is a time that churches, and now some other organizations, set up various games out of the trunks of their vehicles. Children from the surrounding neighborhood are invited to come and play the games and get free food.

trunk or treat

Immediately in the minds of some Christians, there is a red flag that goes up. How can they take something that is demonic and make it good?

I fully understand the concerns that some people have. In doing this, there is some point of celebrating Halloween, when one does the trunk or treat, even though in word most will state they do not celebrate Halloween.

One of the things that is important for people to keep at the center of their focus is why they are setting up the trunk or treat. The trunk or treat should be an outreach to the community. Often it can be just a place to play games and get free food and candy. If that is the case, it is falling short of doing any good.

Every believer is called to be a witness of who Jesus is to every person they meet in this world. The whole purpose is to build God’s kingdom on this earth. God does not want anyone to die in their sins, so He sent His people out to be His witness to them of the salvation Jesus provides.

Be My Witness

When a church is setting up the games and activities for a trunk or treat, the Great Commission should be kept at the forefront of their minds. How can they use the game to be a witness? How can they use the activity to point children and parents to God?

In being able to do this, it takes some serious thinking and planning. Each person involved in the planning must be planning it with lots of prayer. Be open to the leading of God’s Holy Spirit.

Psalm 19:1New International Version (NIV)

The heavens declare the glory of God;

    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

All of creation declare the work of God. When you look out on a field or you look up into the sky, you do not hear anything being said. However, if you open your spiritual eyes and ears and listen, you will see and hear the works of God. You will see that glory of God being displayed in creation.

Romans 1:20 New International Version (NIV)

20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

All of these things show who God is and what He is like. These things are not things that are seen inside the church walls, they are out in the world, where the world can see them.

The trunk or treat games are to be set up outside of the walls of the church. This is where the world is located and are willing to be.

When games are set up for children to play, there should be some way to focus them towards God. Each game should be set up to be a witness of who Jesus is and what He can do for them. The workers of the games must show God’s love to each and every person that shows up.

Along with the children being able to have fun, they should be provided some food. For some of those children, that may be their only meal that day. It is showing God’s love for them, without any judgment.

While it is true that some of those children will only come for the games and food, there will also be a seed planted in their hearts and minds about God. That little bit of love and care may someday be the seed that changes their heart to follow Jesus. For some of these children, you may be the only Jesus that they will see.

Whether you do a trunk or treat, or not, that is between you and God. However, if you do it, be sure to keep God at the center of it. Make sure that in the process of doing games and food, Jesus is being proclaimed. This is using the things of this world to spread the gospel message. Be open to what God has for you to do today.

Purpose Of Living On Earth

LifePurpose

Everyone you look people are busy about things in their life. Busy at work, at play, at taking care of the home, at taking care of children or parents, repairs, relationships, making money, paying bills, and the list goes on forever. People are always busy doing something.

If you are like me and my family, we are always busy doing something. We are always wishing things would slow down so that we could breath. There is always something to do and a whole list of things we are behind on in getting done.

Then comes the questions of what is supposed to be done. What is the purpose in everything that is being done? Does the things that we are doing have any real purpose or is it just being busy?

Many people wonder what their real purpose is. They want to know why they are where they are and what they are supposed to be doing. They wonder if there is any real meaning to what they are doing.

Ecclesiastes 12_13

Solomon had written Ecclesiastes looking at life and the purpose of life. He was the wealthiest man who ever lived in all of history. He makes Bill Gates look as though he has not even started to make any money.

Since Solomon had so much money and fame, he was able to have and do anything that he wanted. This book that he wrote, looks at everything and sees everything as meaningless. Things that just happen over and over. Everyone lives and dies, and can take nothing with them…meaningless. Solomon searches for meaning in many different things, wisdom, knowledge, joy, wealth, entertainment, and work.

meaningless word on concrette wall

Yet, in the final verses of the book, he draws everything to a final conclusion. The purpose of man is to fear God and keep His commands.

To fear God is the first thing Solomon lists as a duty of all men. This is to have a reverence for God. You are to respect God for who He is.

Who is God?

He is the One who created everything, including you. He created this world for man to live on and He created every person and everything in this world. Since He created it all, that means He is the Boss, the One in charge, the One who can make all the rules.

Is God In Control

This slides into the second duty of man that Solomon listed: man is to obey God.

A lot of people will claim that they love God. They will go to church every Sunday and wear their Sunday best. It all sounds good, until you look at their life. Then the question of whether they are really loving God or not comes up in deciding whether they are really obeying God.

Some will live in sinful lifestyles or do not show Christ in any area of their life, other than at church. Is this really obeying God? Claiming to love God is easy, but proving it is another matter, though not difficult.

1 John 5:3 New International Version (NIV)

In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,

John said that for a person to love God, he must keep His commands–obey Him. He finishes this verse with saying that the commands are not burdensome. In other words, they are not that difficult to keep and obey.

Obedience Is An Expression

When talking about the commands of God, many people look to the Old Testament and the book of Leviticus and see hundreds of laws. They see that and say that there is no way they can obey all those laws.

Jesus made the laws of God very simple. He summed the entire law up into two very simple laws: 1) Love God, 2) Love others.

Matthew 22:37-39 New International Version (NIV)

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

All of the commandments God gave to mankind are summed up under these two simple commands. When you love God, you will obey His commands. When you are obeying God, you are loving Him. And when you love God, you will love every person. And when you love every person, you are loving God. These go hand in hand and cannot be separated, because God is love.

Everything that you do must be about love. Either love to God or love to another person. All of it sums up into love for God.

Now to get back to what I was talking about at the beginning, the purpose of life and the busyness of life. Many people are questioning their purpose in this life and why they are running so hard.

Questions

As you go into each day or plan for days to come, are you seeking out God’s purpose for you? God has a reason for you to be where you are, when you are there, and for what you are going through. Ultimately it is to bring you closer to Him and be a witness to others to bring them closer to Him.

As Jesus left the earth, He told the disciples to go into all of the world and make disciples of every one. They were to point people to Jesus and teach them everything Jesus taught them.

making disciples

This command has not been pulled back to this day. God has given you the same command to tell others about Jesus. This is showing the ultimate love to any person on this earth. It is also showing the ultimate love for God. Jesus died for every person and it is your job and my job to tell them about Jesus and what He did.

Look at your day and ask yourself if what you are doing is fulfilling this command in some way or another. No matter what your job is, you can still be a witness, you can still tell others about Jesus.

If you are not fulfilling God’s command to be a witness in this world, then you need to make some changes in your life. Your life will be meaningless and without purpose, if you are not doing God’s commands and loving Him and others.

When you are busy doing God’s work, you will have strength that will not fail. God will continually open doors for you to be His witness. The doors will never stop opening, unless you close them. In doing this God will restore your energy so that you may continue to do more of His work. In this, you will find your purpose for where you are and what you are doing and what you may be going through.

God Be In Control Prayer

I trust and pray that you will find your purpose on this earth today. Live for loving God and loving others.