Shade From The Heat

Isaiah 25:4
Isaiah 25:4

I was fortunate enough to go to Bonnaroo in 2007 and then again in 2008. For those who don’t know, Bonnaroo is a 4-day music festival held in Manchester, TN. Well, let me tell you: Tennessee is hot and Tennessee in June is really HOT! So, I made one important improvement from 2007 to 2008. This one small change made my second venture exponentially better.

I brought a canopy. The canopy provided shade. Shade made all the difference.

Without shade, we were up with the sun: 6:30am. And then you are out in it, man. Until the sun goes down. There is no escape! In fact, one thing I noticed throughout the day were the shadows of the trees. Everyone was looking for shade all day. The only shade was from the trees. So all around, people were sitting in the perfect shape of trees without realizing it. It was as if the shadow of the trees were made of people.

That’s how important shade can be. It protects you from the elements. Without it, you are exposed. You are vulnerable. Eventually, you will perish.

“For You have been a defense for the helpless, a defense for the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat; For the breath of the ruthless is like a rain storm against a wall” (Isaiah 25:4 NASB).

It may be strange to think of God as shade. Don’t we usually think of Him as perfect radiant Light? But God is also shade in the sense that He is cool and refreshing to a parched and dried soul. He offers rest and reprieve from the elements that will eventually overcome us.

We can finally rest in His shelter. We can revitalize. We can survive only with His loving cover. Without God in our lives offering His divine shade, we are in the desert at noon with no water, no cover… and no hope.

May God’s Love be with you

Addendum: My Christian walk has graduated me from Bonnaroo to Creation Festival. And thank God for that! I give God all the glory for the amazing new song He has given me to sing. (Psa. 96:1)

Weight Loss

Hebrews 12:1
Hebrews 12:1

Kurt Vonnegut wrote a story once that always stuck with me. It was called, “Harrison Bergeron.” It told of a future where the government forced people to wear “handicaps” in order to make everyone equal. If you were really graceful, you wore heavy weights to make you clumsy. If you were handsome, you had to wear a hideous mask. That way no one felt insecure or sad about not being as graceful or as handsome as anyone else.

Anyways, there’s a scene in which a beautiful ballerina is on TV. She is weighted down with 200lb weights because she is so incredibly graceful. She is masked because of her great beauty. Of course, her dance is not very good. It’s been “handicapped” so much that she is now average.

This is political fiction. However, the tragic image of that ballerina trying so hard to perform even though she is so clearly hindered perfectly illustrates how sin can literally weigh us down.

“Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us” (Hebrews 12:1, HCSB).

Think of it this way: sin has actual weight. We are told to lay aside the sin. We all know that. But we are also told to lay aside the weight. Extra weight slows our progress. Sin slows our progress. Sin ensnares us. It trips us up. Just like the ballerina weighted down, if we are full of the weight of sin, our performance will suffer.

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24, NIV).

David was a man who knew the weight of sin. He knew all too well just how ensnaring it can be. But he also knew the sweet freedom that comes with throwing off that weight. He knew how much easier it was to continue on the path of righteousness without it!

Want to lose some unnecessary weight? Lay aside sin! But please don’t dare think you can do this weight-loss program on your own. Ask Jesus for help. He’s the only one that can take every weight and the sin that SO EASILY ensnares us, and cast it aside so we can join him in the light.

May God’s Love be with you

The Real Deal

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Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. (1 Peter 5:8 HCSB)

Note that the enemy prowls around “like” or “as” a lion. He isn’t a lion. He’s faking it. He’s disguised himself as the King of the beasts, but he’s the furthest thing from that.

The real Lion is Jesus.

Then one of the elders said to me, “Stop crying. Look! The Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has been victorious so that He may open the scroll and its seven seals.” (Revelation 5:5 HCSB)

The enemy wishes he was the Lion. He is only playing pretend.

Also note that he is looking for anyone he “can” devour. He can’t devour just anyone. He can’t devour a child of the King!

We know that everyone who has been born of God does not sin, but the One who is born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him. (1 John 5:18 HCSB)

So when you have negative thoughts or hurtful feelings, know that it’s from an impostor. It’s from an actor. It’s from a phony. Be alert, the devil is a wannabe.

Jesus is the real deal. He doesn’t parade around like anything. He doesn’t have to. He searches around for someone He can save!

May God’s Love be with you
Ref: Joseph Prince, “Right Believing”

Your Shield

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What would Captain America be without his shield? Well, he would still be pretty awesome, but he would be admittedly less awesome, that’s for sure.

The shield Paul mentions to the church at Ephesus was not a shield like the good Captain’s. No, it was much better. When listing the Armor of God, Paul says:

“in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” (Ephesians 6:16 NASB)

Paul was most likely talking about a roman shield; A large curved rectangle, almost cylindrical. The best surviving example, from Dura-Europos in Syria, is 42 inches in height with a distance around the curve of 34 inches. It was well made and extremely sturdy. The wielder of this shield could completely hide behind. It offered not only protection, but also confidence!

The shield of Faith is a vital weapon in our spiritual battles. It protects us from the enemy’s flaming arrows. These arrows can take the form of temptations, doubt, and insults. Our shield can extinguish these cruel arrows. But you have to have it! A shield doesn’t do any good laying with its maker.

So don’t forget your trusty shield when you clothe yourself every morning for your daily battle. You do pray God’s armor on yourself every morning, right? If not, start that practice immediately! I am not even kidding here, people.

Whats a soldier without his gear?

May God’s Love be with you

The John 3:16 Sign

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Recently I was asked: What’s up with people at sporting events holding up a “John 3:16” sign? To a Christian this verse is so fundamental that you assume everyone knows it, right? I mean, it’s only the most well-known of all Scripture. But to some people, it may not be common knowledge. You would be surprised who doesn’t know what that sign even means!

So it goes like this:

You have one guy with a sign that says “DEFENSE” (sometimes two signs; one that is a “D” and the other that’s an actual little fence) and you have the one guy holding up a big-head cutout of the coach’s face or something. And then you see one guy with a curious little sign that reads, “John 3:16.” Is there a John on the team? Does he wear #316?

Of course not, the John in the sign refers to the Epistle of John in the Bible. And 3:16 are coordinates within that letter – third chapter and sixteenth verse. Which reads:

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NASB)

Ok, but why? A professional football game hardly seems like the place to bring up religion.

Ask Tim Tebow. He famously wrote the verse on his black eye strips during games. You see, the Christian’s duty isn’t just to believe in Christ, it’s to share his faith. He is trying to spark your curiosity. Maybe you’ll write it down and look it up or ask your friend or something. Or he is trying to remind those who already know the verse. When else could he tell 80,000 people about Jesus (or if he gets on TV, millions!)

Why John 3:16?

If the Bible could be summed up in one verse, it would be John 3:16. It is the entire Christian faith in a nutshell. This guy is trying to get the most out of the little time he has. If I could only point someone to one verse, it would be John 3:16.

I assume I am writing to mainly Christians… but if I am not, and you always wondered what that sign meant, I hope you now have a better idea.

Now, I’ve never gone to a game with a John 3:16 sign, but I’m not against them. If you are going to put up a sign for the whole world to see, why not one about God’s love for mankind? Sounds better than, “Go Team” to me!

May God’s Love be with you

Real Love

1 John 4:10
1 John 4:10

We throw the “L” word out for just about everything nowadays. Man, I love peanut butter. I loooove Parks & Recreation! I love lamp. It’s no secret that words lose their impact when used so flippantly. But everyone knows when I say I love hot sauce, I don’t actually love-love it. I just really like it! Real love, love-love is reserved for special things.

This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. – 1 John 4:10

I love my wife. It’s easy for me to love her. She is so lovable! I love my daughter. It’s easy for me to love her. She is my very heart. But John says real love is loving the unlovable. Namely, us! We were unlovable, yet God loved us still. He loved us so much, He sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

Wrapping your brain around that fundamental idea may take a lifetime. The more you meditate on it, the more you will find yourself in tears.

A “Thanks” doesn’t quite cut it, does it? Undeserved love is such an immense gift. I really can’t even put it into words properly. The only proper response is total praise, total adoration, and total devotion.

Valentine’s Day is the day to profess your love. By all means, tell your special people that you love them. But don’t forget about the One who loved you first. Tell Him too.

May God’s Love be with you

This will help: Misty Edwards, “Lovesick

Written Invitation

Your Witten Invitation • Matt. 11:28-30
Your Witten Invitation • Matt. 11:28-30

What are you waiting for, “a written invitation?” That’s a funny phrase, isn’t it? The more I think about it, the funnier it gets.

Consider this your written invitation.

You have been officially invited. Jesus cordially invites you right now at this very second.

Frustrated? Hurt? Tired? Jesus invites you to His rest. This is His personal offer to you specifically:

““Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, NASB).

RSVP today! Please reply by: Now!

Warning: this invite has a expiration date. It will not last forever. There will come a day that it will be void. Then it’s too late. Don’t miss out on these incredible “savings.”

“The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost” (Revelation 22:17, NASB).

This is God basically saying it’s FREE! For a limited time! Come now while there is still time. Collect your free gift of His Grace. He is just giving it away!

If you were waiting for a written invitation, well, now you don’t have an excuse.

May God’s Love be with you

Luck

Proverbs 16:33
Proverbs 16:33

good luck • bad luck • lucky stars • lady luck • lucky break • lucky duck • lucky streak • happy-go-lucky • luck of the Irish • luck of the draw • tough luck

Think we may be obsessed with luck?

What’s that mean, luck? What is luck? One definition is: “Success brought by chance rather than by action.”

Luck? There is no such thing.

“One God and Father of all, WHO IS OVER ALL and through all and in all.” – Eph. 4:6 [emphasis added]

God rules over all things. He is through all and in all.

“For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.” – Romans 11:36

All things are:

  • From Him.
  • Through Him.
  • For Him.

That doesn’t leave any room for chance or fortune. We are not floating through space without direction and purpose. God ordains every single microscopic event that happens. Life is not a gamble. Nothing is a fluke. Events in your life are not superfluous or arbitrary.

“The lot is cast into the lap, but it’s every decision is from the LORD.” – Prov. 16:33

Every decision is ordered from the LORD. Divine power trumps luck.

Saying something is “luck” or “lucky” may just be a habit. Start a new habit! Instead of saying “You are so lucky,” say, “You are so blessed!” That’s way more accurate anyways.

May God’s Love be with you.

Real Medicine

Proverbs 4:20-22
Proverbs 4:20-22

My wife was telling me how she really enjoyed a message she heard from Joyce Meyer. In it, Joyce mentioned how wonderful medicine is. Got a headache? No problem. Tylenol can help. It knows where to go and what to do to help you.

But you have to put it in your body first.

It wouldn’t do any good to take that Tylenol and place it on top of your head. It activates once it’s inside you.

God’s Word can’t do any good for you until its in you. You must place it in your heart. Once inside, God’s Word knows where to go and what to do to help you. If The Bible remains just a book that you flip through here and there, it’s doing about as good as placing it on top of your head.

“My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your sight; Keep them in the midst of your heart. For they are life to those who find them and health to all their body.” Proverbs 4:20-22

The more you get into The Word, the more The Word gets into you! It is life and health to all your body.

God is the Great Physician and His Word is the the medicine your soul so desperately needs to be healed!

Take two and call me in the morning.

May God’s Love be with you

Catapaulted

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Sometimes you are going along in your Christian walk and something catapaults you. Something shoots you forward. It elevates you.

For me, it was, “Not a Fan.” Man, I was handed that book at just the right time. It took me to a whole other level.

It lit a fire.

Warning: The opposite can be true as well. You can going along in your Christian walk and something hinders you. Something sets you back. It sinks you.

We’ve all been there and it is guy-wrenching. So, be on the lookout… for both! Both are opportunities to grow and both are lessons to be learned.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says ” There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens.”

Whether it be something that lifts you up or something that brings you down, give thanks, praise, and love to God through these seasons. Because God has allowed it. Good or bad, nothing slips by without his say so.

May God’s Love be with you