Posted in encouragement, jesus, praise, revelation

"…and his face was like the sun shining in full strength"

In the spring and summer, the sun is a position that when it rises in the morning, it bursts over the trees and its rays shoot down the road.

I live at the end of a small one-way street. Looking east, the sun rises over the tree line for a few minutes, brightening the sky. It’s coming!

Suddenly the sunrays burst out and stream down the road, lighting all the bushes and pastures along the way

The brightness is incredible, reflecting off everything the sun rays touch. The bushes burst into focus, each leaf evident in the gold adornment

It’s as if the curtain of golden light is being raised- you can see half the bush illuminated as the sun rises higher and higher, the shadow line sinking fast to the ground as the illumination is almost complete

I always love that moment, when the sun comes up and the first light shows itself. What will it be like when we’re called home in the rapture, and we see the full light of the glory of Jesus?!

Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. (Revelation 1:12-16)

And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. (Revelation 21:22-23)

All praise to the Lamb, the Light of the world!!

Posted in encouragement, praise

A praise on the occasion of the tenth year anniversary of my salvation

Yesterday, ten years ago, I became a child of God.

In this modern, fast and furious age, ten years is a long time. It’s enough to become vested in a business’s pension fund. It’s a long marriage. It’s tenure. It’s an entire decade. Wow.

In Christianity, ten years is only enough to become acquainted with the depths of my sin and the fact that I know nothing. It’s enough to understand that understanding has just begun. It’s a tiny plod away from the ball and chain of my sin and toward the gates of heaven.

Yet ten years is an eternity. The moment I stepped over the threshold, salvation meant glory with Jesus forever, beginning at that moment on the floor of the office where I cried out to God, my heart’s defenses crumbling like Jericho. An eternity that began with the choice of Jesus to elect me to salvation and bring me to His bosom.

The depth of my gratitude knows no bounds. I can’t express it in words, paltry faltering words that are mere letters, squiggles really. What are words to compare to the glory and beauty of this wonderful Man-God who delivered Himself to death and rose again, for our sakes? Who left His heavenly abode to live three decades on a cursed earth, reaching out to His sheep? His mercy and His blessings and His love are overwhelming to me. And to think before I knew Him, I’d run away, mock, and scorn Him and His children. He is the Good Shepherd.

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10)

What a change He has wrought in me! This is a change only He can do. My dark and gangrenous heart has been made new by Jesus. He surely is the Redeemer.

To redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:5).

I can’t say the entire ten years has been all-joy. Some of it meant heartbreak and hard truths and rejection. But it all has been amazing, because Jesus is amazing. He has never left me nor forsaken me. He is with me always and His spirit dwells richly in me.

“In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10)

My love for him in return can’t match His incredible heavenly love, but what a pleasure to be able to thank Him in person someday.

“I will thank you in the great congregation; in the mighty throng I will praise you.” Psalm 35:18

Posted in praise

Worthy is the Lamb!

You remember the father of the sick child who said to Jesus, “Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)

I think about the rapture a lot. In church today we sang about rising to meet Christ in the air.

I am waiting patiently for Him to call us. But sometimes I get so impatient for the rapture, I cry “Lord! I am patient! Help my impatience!”

Worthy is the Lamb!

Worthy is the Lamb! To receive His bride!

Worthy is the Lamb! To open the scroll!

Worthy is the Lamb! To render judgment!

“and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.” (Revelation 1:13-16).

Worthy is the Lamb!

Posted in disaster, praise, tornado

A sad day with devastating tornadoes (What God Ordains Is Always Good) Updated

Update– You might be interested in this essay I wrote a day later, looking at the situation a bit more deeply and theologically, called If God is Good, why Didn’t He Stop the Tornado?

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I am recovering from a traumatic spiritual battle as I alluded to earlier in the month. It sapped my strength almost completely.

Our elementary school’s last day is this Friday at noon. So three and a half days left. Most of the kindergarteners thought today was the last day, more than one thought so. Holding these kids down for 7 hours a few days away from summer break saps your strength.

We are having an unusual heat all of a sudden. The temps are in the upper-80s but real-feel temps are in the mid-90s. It saps your strength.

I went grocery shopping after work, the Dollar Store and Grocery store share a parking lot. Walking the buggy back and forth from one side to the other to load the car with heavy groceries saps your strength.

I got home at a low strength point. Kind of weary.

Then I read about the tornadoes in Oklahoma. My strength sapped even further, pooling at the ground around my feet.

A KFOR-TV weather man said the winds from this worst tornado were over 300mph and it was an F5. It was wider than Oklahoma’s worst historic tornado which occurred in 1999. It is at least 3X as worse as the May 1999 historic tornado. It went from nothing, not a cloud, to an F5 inside of one hour, which is the fastest the atmosphere will allow, he said. It caused catastrophic devastation. He said it is the most devastation from a tornado in the history of the world. There are many dead, including 24 children, at least, have died.

When I read about the elementary schools being in the path of a direct hit from this devastating tornado, my strength waned quickly…tears come to my eyes for this old sinful world. Watching anything die is hard, watching the world die is harder.

What to do?

Praise the Lord. It gives you strength. (Psalm 68:35).

Trust the Lord. It gives you strength. (Isaiah 12:2).

Obey the Lord. It gives you strength. (Revelation 14:12).

Hope in the Lord. It gives you strength. (Lamentations 3:25).

What God ordains is always good. I posted this yesterday, I post it again. Because we need it.

Posted in creation, creator, fish tornado, God, praise

Fish tornado phenomenon photographed by Octavio Aburto

Awesome photo! Whether it is the Aurora Borealis with beach dinoflagellates photo I’d put up a few days ago, or this undersea fish tornado, the earth and the universe constantly amaze me. Our Creator is to be praised, for His intellect, creativity, and beauty. That He created man to have communion with Him and to be the worker of His garden (Genesis 2:15) is such a gift.

EarthSky.org reports, “Photographer and marine biologist Octavio Aburto captured this amazing photo of the at Cabo Pulmo National Park in Mexico, in the course of studying the courtship behavior of a species of Jack fish. He titled it “David and Goliath.”

The photo has left many in disbelief, though the sheer magnitude of its wonder. So Octavio Aburto has released the video of the jackfish courtship behavior to satisfy the curious and the skeptical.

The photographer hopes that your wonder at seeing “Goliath” will spark you to think more about the environment, and that is all well and good. I hope it will spark you to think more about the Creator, and His magnificent hand which created ALL that exists. And He did it in 6 days. Praise His mighty name!

“Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable.” (Psalms 145:3)
Posted in love, praise

A simple praise

I had a good week but a tiring week. Work is good as always but running around with kindergarteners gets tiring. And the emotional toll of the Hurricane Sandy has been pretty rough. Also, church brethren and some co-workers are going through some rough medical issues. Seems there is a lot to pray for each other, people are having a difficult time all around.

I am enjoying reading Jeremiah. I am up to chapter 6. It is the chapter where Jeremiah rails against the false prophets who say “peace, peace, when there is no peace.” (Jer 6:14). That really resonates with me. So many “pastors” today are saying ‘peace’ and treating the wound lightly when what we need is a tourniquet.

Anyway, I was praying in the car this morning out loud, you know, just talking to the Lord, and the prayer below is kind of what I said. I can’t reconstruct exactly what I prayed. When I’m alone it always comes out so perfectly, just rolling off the tongue but really coming from the soul. My sense of gratitude to the Lord has not diminished after almost 9 years. I can’t believe that in just a few weeks it will have been 9 years since the dramatic moment when He came into my life and justified me, saving me from His well-deserved wrath. I hope that sense of gratitude never, ever fades. Because what He did for me will never fade. I am His trophy of grace.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thank you Lord for saving me. Thank you for justifying me although I don’t deserve it. I spent many decades in rebellion. I was clever in my sin. I was intelligent in my revolution. I was in a cesspool but I did not know it.

You looked at me and saw beyond that. You lifted me out of a sewer of my own making, and you cleaned me off with Your very Self. You loved me and forgave me. Then you installed me at Your table.

I am a trophy of your grace. How can I ever thank you? I cannot, except to honor your Name with my own life. Please, Holy Spirit convict me to only think or say or do things that will please and honor the Lord. Sin, once my deadly friend, is now my eternal enemy. Spirit, make me hate sin all the more, for to entertain it is a blight against the Holy Lord.

How can I do more for you? I can speak the truth to a dying and hostile world. The bible tells us the world will hate us, but You have overcome the world. Let me not say ‘peace peace when there is no peace’. Let me say “war! war! against sin”, ‘fight, fight against the enemy’. ‘Repent, repent of our sins!’ Your Day is coming. It will be a day of wrath and terror. But then … love. Love and peace forever and we will study war no more.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.” (1 Chronicles 29:11)

“Therefore I will praise you among the nations, O LORD; I will sing praises to your name.” (Psalms 18:49)

“Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;” (Ephesians 5:20)

“And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.” (1 Thessalonians 2:13)

Posted in joy, praise

Three praises to the Lord Jesus

It’s been a really good week for me, spiritually. The news in the world is not so good, but we are not of the world. If you walk closely with Jesus the news of the world will affect you only in that it helps you see and understand God is sovereign and everything He does is good. Actually, it is awe-inspiring because the closer I walk with Him and the more news I read that lines up with what He said would happen, it makes me feel more humble and grateful that a God such as He wants to interact on a personal basis with His people.

Some of the ways I could see Him with us during the week ran from the most High to the smallest things. There are some great praises to share. First, a teenage boy people have been praying for repented and accepted the Lord as His savior. That is the one thing in this world that will reduce me to tears of gratitude and awe. Eternity began for that boy on Wednesday and he will never be the same. It is a Holy God who cares about sin, and a Holy God who redeems fallen and sinful humanity to His bosom.

“Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Psalm 103:1-5)

Another praise was the rainbow that appeared in the non-rainy morning pre-dawn over our school. It began from a point on the left of the school, arched high and went over the right side. It feels truly like God was speaking to us. And He IS speaking to us when He sets His bow in the sky:

“I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.” (Genesis 9:13-16).

It is so great to know that when you see a rainbow you know what God is thinking at that exact moment. Thank you for this heavenly beauty, LORD:

“The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, And rejoices like a strong man to run its race. Its rising is from one end of heaven, And its circuit to the other end; And there is nothing hidden from its heat.” (Psalm 19:1-6)

Also, here is a small thing. It may not seem like much to you guys. It may just be a coincidence, but it meant a lot to me. I drive a Ford SUV that is 18 years old. It has 213,800 miles on it. There are a lot of things in the car that do not work any more, such as the gas gauge, the right-hand blinker, three of the window motors, and the driver door doesn’t shut properly unless I slam hard and push up just right when I close it because the inside door handle is also broken. To close it from the inside I have to roll the window down and put my hand outside and slam it that way. The blessing is that all the turns I need to make are left-hand turns, the one window that still motors up and down is the driver’s side, and until now, the door has always shut without too much trouble. And the things that do work are the ones that matter.

Friday morning, the door didn’t shut. No matter how I pushed hard and up, it would not latch. I drove to school praying and praying. You see, there is also an alarm system in the car that I have not yet figured out how to disable. If the driver door does not shut within a certain amount of time, the car alarm goes off and keeps going off. If the door doesn’t shut, it would be a problem at the elementary school at which I work. You can’t have a car alarm going off all day in the parking lot. The only other alternative would be to leave it unlatched with the key in the door, which is the only thing that stops the alarm. But that exposes me to car theft and also drawing the battery down. A small thing like the door not shutting could end up being a major disaster.

So the whole 6 miles to work I prayed. I asked the Lord to take care of this small thing. You see, He is a personal God, this same Jesus who walked the earth and now resides at the right hand of the Father and Who will come again. He loves us and wants us to have life abundantly. From holy things like a person’s salvation, to displays in creation like setting the bow in the sky, to tiny things like what to wear and food to eat, He is involved. That is how great He is. When I arrived at school and got out to shut the door, it shut properly. Thank you Lord. He cares for His sheep, even to the minor things of life.

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:25-26)

I know I’m blessed. I have clothes and food and a place to live and a church to worship in and a good job and so much more. But even if it wasn’t good, I’d praise Him. If you feel your life is too hard, too desperate, to praise the Lord, then I ask you to start looking for ways to praise Him. Even at the lowest point of Job’s life, and I daresay no person on earth could get as low as Job, Job yet praised the Lord. Seek reasons to thank Him. Soon it will become a habit to see His blessings unfolding one miracle at a time.

“Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.” (Psalm 100:1-5)

In my life this week, He displayed His holiness, His sovereignty over creation, and His involvement in my life. My hope for you this week is that you also seek opportunities to praise Him. He is working in your life. Do you see it?
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Posted in gratitude, praise, thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, a time when we traditionally celebrate the blessings we enjoy in life. Many families have a tradition of sitting around their table and each guest or family member saying what they are thankful for.

I’m thankful for my salvation. For that to be possible I am thankful for the Holy Spirit drawing me to Jesus. For that to be possible I am thankful to Jesus for obeying the Father and dying on the cross. For that to be possible I am thankful for God who created all the world and who is so Holy that His son obeyed Him and took all the wrath that was destined for me on that cross. I am thankful He revealed Himself to us and that  we have the privilege of prayer, the Word, the gifts, the fruits, and eternal life. I am thankful for the promises of prospering us in the regenerative process of growing in Christlikeness, for treasures and rewards in heaven, for the promise of rest and peace.

When we attend the marriage supper of the Lamb, sitting at the banquet table, we will be rejoicing. Now, the time after the rapture when we are presented as a bride, and the time of the Tribulation when we are having our purification and our rewards at the Bema Seat, and the time of the Millennial Kingdom when the marriage supper continues…and the final huge celebration at the New Heavens and the New earth after the old one is melted in a fervent heat…I don’t know if there will be actual food and actual table. I think there will be but I don’t know. So we go forward thinking of this as a celebratory rejoicing in heaven in our real, glorified bodies but unsure of if there will be food actually.

So when we are rejoicing in the Spotless Lamb after the rapture at the Marriage Supper, we will be thankful for His blood-bought purchase of us, for sure. We can personally thank our ministering angels. We can shake the hand of the saints from the Old Testament, such as Abraham, Esther, John the Baptist, David, Jeremiah… we can see God and live! What gratitude we will feel, for He created every good thing. Gratitude is a good thing and we will be experiencing it perfectly and fully!
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