Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Prayer, and Creation's Cry

Prayer, and Creation's Cry
by David Brenneman 

Much has been said on's a very personal conversation between you and God.  Not a conversation like you have with an acquaintance but with someone far far more personal. 

Was reading my Bible this morning and this was one of several "verse of the day" that I received to read. 

People have wondered for centuries on how or what to say in a prayer.  King David gave hundreds of hours in writing how his heart was with God.  

I woke up with part of a new to me song playing in my mind today.  It relates to prayer in a way. 

"Were creation suddenly articulate
With a thousand tongues to lift one cryThen from North to South and East to WestWe'd hear Christ be magnified
Were the whole Earth echoing His eminenceHis name would burst from sea and skyFrom rivers to the mountain topsWe'd hear Christ be magnified
Oh! Christ be magnifiedLet His praise ariseChrist be magnified in meOh! Christ be magnifiedFrom the altar of my lifeChrist be magnified in me
When every creature finds its inmost melodyAnd every human heart its native cryOh then in one enraptured hymn of praiseWe'll sing Christ be magnifiedOh, be lifted high, Jesus
Oh! Christ be magnifiedLet His praise ariseChrist be magnified in meOh! Christ be magnifiedFrom the altar of my lifeChrist be magnified in me
I won't bow to idols, I'll stand strong and worship YouAnd if it puts me in the fire, I'll rejoice 'cause You're there tooI won't be formed by feelings, I hold fast to what is trueIf the cross brings transformation then I'll be crucified with You'Cause death is just the doorway into resurrection lifeAnd if I join You in Your suffering, then I'll join You when You riseAnd when You return in glory with all the angels and the saintsMy heart will still be singing, my song will be the same
Oh! Christ be magnifiedLet His praise ariseChrist be magnified in meOh! Christ be magnifiedFrom the altar of my lifeChrist be magnified in me
Oh! Christ be magnifiedLet His praise ariseChrist be magnified in meOh! Christ be magnifiedFrom the altar of my lifeChrist be magnified in me"
- Christ Be Magnified 
Cody Carnes 

If creation were suddenly articulate...Jesus said on at least one occasion in Luke 19:38-40 NASB "shouting: “Blessed is the King, the One who comes in the name of the Lord; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And yet some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples!” Jesus replied, “I tell you, if these stop speaking, the stones will cry out!”

"...the stones will cry out!" 

Even His creation longs to be with Him. 
Even His creation would have things to say to the world to testify to the truth of God. 

Creation wouldn't wonder if what was said was "right" because it would, in very basic terms, have come from the heart. 

It would be personal.  Would be nothing that wasn't pure.

We over think so much in regards to prayer and our ability to talk to Jesus.  

Yet we have very little difficulty in talking to strangers about something we have in common. 

When you pray you have the greatest of things in common.  Salvation in Christ Jesus. You have the Father, the Son, the Spirit in common.  You have truth, God's truth, in common.  You have unadulterated honestly. Nothing hidden. You have forgiveness available for the asking. You have someone to talk to who's "been there, done that" in everything as we are and will be...yet was without sin. 

We have the best of friends available to talk to who is never too busy for us.

We have the best of friends who isn't going to come down on us for anything just because we asked.

We have the unconditional love of God.  He can't love us more, can't love us any less. 

He is more than anyone that we have ever known or will know.  He's the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We willingly bow to His authority and receive His favor.  

His interest in us is purely personal. We are being transformed into His image Spiritually.  One day it will join a physical body that's worthy of what He's making us into.  

Oh, Christ be magnified in me...
I won't be formed by feelings, I hold fast to what is true

We live in a world where psychology tries to tell us about feelings and emotions.  I know that trusting in those gets me into trouble.  We want to do and be what feels good...all the time.  We are to die to self and live to Christ Jesus.  

Prayer is our heart to His heart.

It's more than repeated words.  It's gratitude more than being grateful. Being grateful can last but a moment, showing gratitude takes time.  Being thankful when people criticize us and being grateful when wronged isn't easy. The world today would tell us to avoid such situations and follow your feelings and remove yourself from those situations.  Jesus said quite the opposite. Bless those who persecute you. Bless and do not curse. Paul spoke at length about all the things that the Lord brought him THROUGH.  Not a list of things that he avoided because of how it hurt his feelings.  He prayed many times for some thorn in the flesh to be removed.  I would imagine it was some very intense prayer times.  Pleading in prayer with Jesus.  Yet he was still told no.  Our feelings and emotions aren't to get in the way of the necessary transformation that comes through prayer. 

What's interesting is the prayers of children.  Jesus rebuked His Disciples for hindering the children coming to Him. Children don't ovet think prayer. Children believe unconditionally. Children are at times brutally honest in prayer.  Children can teach scholars on how to pray. Feelings and emotions of a child in prayer flow with greater integrity and honesty than most adults. 

My emotions and feelings at times are my own worst enemy.  I get in the way of God by thinking on them too much.  I make poor decisions because of them.  I don't obey God because of them.  I allowed seeds of bitterness in me because of them.  I really know not to put stock in my emotions and feelings ahead of the Word of God.  It's in the prayet Jesus taught. "Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven".  

In becoming a Disciple we set aside self.  We learn to be and behave as a child of God must in order to please God.  We learn through our prayer life as much as our Bible reading and sermons. 

Children's songs such as "Jesus loves me" teach so much about prayer and praying honestly.  

In recent years much of my prayer life has become conversational. Whatever is on my heart and mind is what I talk with Jesus about.  I have a 15 minute or so trip to work. I have 15 minutes or so in prayer to begin my day.  Throughout the day if the need warrants it I pray. The line to Heaven's Throne is never busy. 

What do you need to talk to Jesus about?
What has been on your heart and mind that isn't making sense?  He isn't just your Savior and Lord, He's the most truest trusted friend you will ever have.  

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Jesus Didn't Change, Did You?

Jesus Didn't Change, Did You?
By David Brenneman 

We often are bewildered by life.  A path that we were so sure of didn't turn out the way we hoped.  What happened? Did God fail at following through? Oh no, it's never that my Dear Reader. Never that.

We are a people between actually multiple worlds. In Christ we are to live for Jesus. In marriage we live for spouse and family. At work we live for the cause we were hired for, for the time we are there.  Away from these we live, honestly, for self. 

We split our time between so many people and causes. The brief moments we are finding ourselves in perfect peace are when we actually, possibly, doing God's will.  Not for the mere moment but the long run.  Anyone can make a choice, a decision, and find peace in it. Our paths to peace and rest aren't the path that Jesus walks. 

Jesus told us in the Scriptures that we're going to have troubles. We aren't going to necessarily find peace and rest. Those who desire to live Godly in Christ Jesus will suffer.  Basically put it's going to be a rough ride.  But why do we seek peace and rest so much?  We often are after the promise of it that's for when we get to Heaven earlier than is going to happen. The transformation of us from what we were to where we are going to be in Christ is going to be a bit bumpy.

Our love for God, love for others is going to take us places we never dreamed possible. Look at the lives of the Disciples. That's certainly what happened with them.  Peace and rest isn't the same as recharging.  We have to get in the habit of going back to the well within us that's connected to the Spirit in order to be transformed. Prayer, time away with God. 

We are reminded that we are His workmanship.  A work in progress until the day we step into Heaven. Jesus doesn't stop in this work.  

We make choices and decisions that prolong or shorten what's necessary to become more like Christ. 

Taking up your own cross and following Jesus is our obedience to that transformation process. "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 comfortable, and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:29-30 NASB. 

What's interesting to me is the shape of a yoke and the cross beam of a cross are nearly the same.  They join across the shoulders. They bear the weight.

We often run from the necessary things in life that we need to go through to be transformed and wonder where God went. 

Jesus didn't move. 

You indeed may walk through the valley of the shadow of may at least think it's that scary and painful...but if you're doing what God wants, you won't go it alone.  Daniel was in a lions den.  That's certainly a great graphical illustration of walking through a valley of the shadow of death.  Daniel's friends in the firey furnace.  That too certainly is a walk through a valley of the shadow of death. 

In both cases we see it WAS God's will that they go down that path. 

We are going to face heavy criticism for living Godly in Christ Jesus.  We aren't any better than the other's who have desired to walk Godly in Christ Jesus.  

But as Scripture does speak to, we often have a run at being a Prodigal Son or Daughter.  We turn left instead of right or right instead of left and get off the road of life that the Spirit intended us to stay on. 
We are swayed by popular opinion.  We are seeking an end to suffering that's not in God's plans for us yet. We are the ones who moved. Not Jesus. 

Recognize your position.  Repent and return in obedience to where you know God had been working in you.  Return to honest prayer. Return to your Savior who has both never left you and yet is still waiting on you to acknowledge your need to obey Him. 

Your life isn't your own. You were bought with a price.  1 Corinthians 6:20 NASB "for you have been bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body. "

We aren't going to achieve what is God's plans for you and I if we keep taking the surgical instruments out of His hands to do it ourselves on ourselves. 

We will be convinced, at least for a time, that the road we put ourselves on is the right one.  Yet in time we find it empty.  Without real fulfillment. Without anything substantial. Going on your feelings and emotions will cause you to deceive yourself.  We can't be trusted but Jesus can. We can't be following Jesus and yet tell Him where to go in leading us!  Because this way feelings better. This way doesn't hurt so much. That way looks safer.  

If we're honest we waste a whole lot of time on us and don't spend nearly enough on time with Jesus. We can't know what His yoke is like if we don't put it on. We can't know what He says the results will be if we don't obey. 

Praying at all times.  Living for Jesus a life that is true. Striving to please Him in all that I do. Oh Jesus Lord and Savior I give myself to Thee for thou in thy atonement didst give Thyself for me. I owe no other Master my heart shall be Thy throne. My life I give henceforth to live for Christ to Thee alone.

Monday, August 29, 2022

Love God Love Others

Love God Love Others 
by David Brenneman 

I love you Lord 
and I lift my voice 
to worship you 
oh my soul rejoice 

Take joy my King 
in what you hear!
May it be a sweet sweet sound 
in your ear. 

I love you Lord
and I lift my voice 
to worship you 
oh my soul rejoice 

Take joy my King 
in what you hear!
May it be a sweet sweet sound 
in your ear. 

This is a chorus that we learned a great many years ago in Church. I sometimes mix it with "Jesus loves Me".

Jesus loves me this I know 
for the Bible tells me so 
little ones to Him belong 
they are weak but He is strong 
Yes Jesus loves me!
Yes Jesus loves me 
Yes Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so. 

Indeed it's such small, sweet, songs such as these that make it much easier to set my mind on things above and not on the things that are here.

It's a wonderful thing to me, more than most can comprehend, to remember at least music. I don't have a good recall memory as many people do.  If I remember Scriptures is because solely in God's ways does it happen. I have struggled for decades to sit and memorize Scriptures with much frustration. I don't even know what is written each morning at times like this one after I write it.  It is whatever the Spirit directs me to write. Be it from personal experience or something weighing on my heart that God won't let me not write about. Someone, somewhere, needs to read it.

Relationships are what we were made for. Adam and Eve had a perfect relationship with Jesus before the fall due to sin entering the world.  

Ever since that day mankind has struggled with relationships.  Some are better at it than others.  Some have no problems walking up to others and just striking up a conversation.  Some just can't.  I am somewhere in the middle. It depends on the environment and topic of conversation. 

It's often difficult to make friends that way. 

In Christ there's an ongoing relationship that begins when we hear His call and are saved by Him.   He brings healing and cleansing. We learn of how battered we really are. We learn of just how much He cares.  

The parable of the Good Samaritan comes to mind.  We look at ourselves and only begin to acknowledge our condition in sin. Jesus tends to our wounds and shows unconditional love towards us to begin the healing process. To begin His work in us to make us more like Christ. 

As we are transformed by what He's doing, His light shines through us.  Not just for ourselves but for others to see.  Opportunity will show up for us to be the hands and feet of Jesus to tend to others along the way of life. 

A great danger along this road of life is that we leave the road due to pain and suffering. We leave it because of strong desires.  As a quote from a movie goes "your feelings can betray you". Trusting our feelings or emotions can be inherently dangerous. We are by sinful nature selfish.
Our emotions and feelings will indeed betray us.  We will see suffering and our first reaction is to run from it.  Or if we don't run, we collapse in it. We see the world's solutions and embrace them.  
Our love for God will suffer because of our embracing worldly ideas and thoughts. 

Love God, Love Others. 

Even in our walk with Jesus we will be tempted to not branch out and let others in.  Loving others is the second commandment Jesus said was the most important. After all He loves others. 

If we're honest we want what we want when we want it.  

Loving others often takes a back seat to that. We have this to be done, that to be done.  We often miss opportunities. 

Prayer is a grand requirement to loving God and loving others. Jesus knew all men and women. Knew what was in their hearts continually.  Wouldn't trust Himself to any. 
Yet still, through prayer, obeyed the Father’s will.  People navigated the deep recesses of their hearts to come to the light of Jesus.  

We honestly lead nobody to salvation. The Spirit does.  We are the workers in the harvest that find what others had planted by way of the Spirit of God.  

We are to live life in such a way that people see our good works and glorify our Father in Heaven.  

Sometimes we are there when the Spirit breaks through to someone's heart.  Those are some awesome moments. We do not know just what part we played in someone realizing their need to be saved.  

Today is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.  

We can start the day in that thought. Even if crushing pain makes us feel like we are in the fire.  Like we read in Daniel, He's in the fire with us.  We aren't ever alone.

Love God, Love what He puts before you.  We have work to be done that's not of this world. Our work is to do the will of our Father in Heaven.  

Encourage others, point people to Jesus. Help others. Lift up others in prayer. Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep as the Bible says. 

Our time on this Earth is limited. We have such a short time to impact others. We who are in Christ will forever be with Jesus someday.  We are workers in His fields, to be doing His bidding not ours. 

My prayer for this blog is to reach others to tell them that Jesus loves them. That He wants a relationship with them.  He wants them to know what real love is. 

He is at the door of their heart but will not barge in.  He will wait for them to open the door. 

Jesus loves me this I know. 
Jesus loves you this you now can read. 

Jesus left Heaven for you. 
Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life, was crucified in your place, paid for the crime of sin for you and I. 
Jesus died, and 3 days later, arose from the dead as Savior and Lord. King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Offering salvation to all who would receive it, who would ask for it.

We cannot live any kind of good enough life to erase even 1 sin.  Sin is in our DNA. We are born guilty of it. Only through salvation in Christ Jesus alone can that be washed away. Can it be removed. 

This is a limited time offer. Soon Jesus is going to be returning. Soon this world will dive headlong into the 7 years of judgments from God as outlined in the book of Revelation. Coming to Christ for salvation during that time will be a death sentence because the world will have rejected Him. The Church of Jesus Christ will not be here during this time. 

We know not when Jesus is returning. We only know that we know that telling others that Jesus loves them and wants a real relationship with them is important to Jesus. 

Jesus loves you. He's waiting just for you. 

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Choices of Life and Being Commissioned

Choices of Life and Being Commissioned 
by David Brenneman 

"to formally choose someone to do a special piece of work, or to formally ask for a special piece of work from someone: The newspaper commissioned a series of articles on the worst excesses of the fashion industry. She's commissioned an artist to paint her portrait. More examples." - to be Commissioned.

The Great Commission can also be translated to the Great Order of God.  Great meaning more important than all else. Commission being directed towards a specific work.  An order given that's to be carried out for certain when given especially by royalty, in the case of the Church, King Jesus.

To understand this, we need to be sure of your salvation and faith in Jesus. "Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” John 6:29 NASB. 

Jesus also said that we who are in Christ Jesus should be doers of the Word and not just hearers who deceive themselves. 

In Romans it says that that it's the Spirit who puts Believers in the body of Christ where He sees fit.  To follow the train of thought from the beginning of this post, He commissions people towards a specific function in the body. It may develop over time, but He is the appointer of jobs in the body of Christ. 

In Christ we have a duality that happens because of self. We have our wants and desires often competing with the Spirit in what's best in our lives. Paul taught on this. Specifically mentioning the struggle in being married vs being single and its impact on serving Christ.  

We who are married are trying to figure out how to please at minimum 3 people. God, our spouse and ourselves. If we have children that gets more involved. 

Selfish desires often rule out. We get hurt or something happens that's extremely unpleasant in life and we retreat from our calling in Christ Jesus.  I have done this. Was hurt and saw nothing but stormy days ahead. I honestly fought God in going through that storm.  As the more recent analogy I've used goes: He took me by the scruff of the neck and pulled me through it. The desire of Him was for me to learn from it, be possibly purified by it, and to grow in Christ because of it. There indeed was life on the other side. 

Many see the storms and instead of causing them to draw nearer to God, they take the world's way out and as Paul said they become shipwrecked in their faith.  They seek out the easy less painful route because of being hurt by people. Stressful times come and they run from what God says they must press on to go through.  The obvious lesson of Jonah and the whale.  What results, possibly for a time, or if the stubborn refusal persists, is a disobedience problem.  You are found to be fighting God. Oh for a time life will delude you into thinking all is great!  So life was for the Prodigal Son at his first leaving his Father.  He chose to do whatever felt good for himself. In the end he realized his grave mistake.  We have nothing written says whether or not Jonah learned from his mistake in this life or not. 

If indeed you are in Christ you have a divine purpose. One that's meant for you. 
One that is irrevocable according to Romans 11:29.  A job meant for you. A path towards sanctification that's tailored to you.  One that's revealing that you are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works that we might walk in them.  Walk in live in obedience. 

We are living in this here, this now, not for ourselves anymore than those of the Early Church.  Retirement is only implied in the Bible as our leaving this world.  As Jonah didn't have the option of walking away from his calling in Christ Jesus, neither do you or I.  Our lives are not our own, we were bought with a price, the precious blood of Jesus Christ.  Satan's had centuries to perfect excuses and philosophical reasoning towards justification of not doing what God wants in a Believer's life.  He will tempt all who are hurting to take the easy way. Psychology as we call it today is often laced with new age thinking in order not to necessarily bring obedience to God's plans but Satan's plans.  Even going as far as to lace new ideas with Scriptures taken in ways not meant to be taken that way. Satan's an old hat at that. Did it with Jesus in the wilderness. Misusing Scripture. 

The world wants Believer's to willingly abandon the Word of God by using the Word of God. To instead live by their feelings rather than God's truth.  

If I honestly lived by my feelings, I wouldn't leave my house unless I direly needed to. I wouldn't be doing a lot of things in life. Living to feel good all the time would be my first priority. 

But in Christ Jesus we are told that life isn't going to necessarily be about feeling good. If that were the case Jesus wouldn't have been trying to comfort all with the words of telling us that in this world we would have tribulations, troubles, but to be of good cheer, He has overcome the world.

The life in Christ that's for you to live might be fraught with trials, but again, remember the words of Jesus.  Don't give up on doing good. Galatians 6:9-10 NASB "Let’s not become discouraged in doing good, for in due time we will reap, if we do not become weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let’s do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith."

We will indeed face storms. We may indeed be held by Jesus by the scruff of the neck, don't fight Him. It's for our own good.  It's taking up our own cross and following Jesus. It's for our sanctification. 

You who are in Christ are called. 
You have been commissioned by Jesus, given an order by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. You have a job to be doing and it's not what the world says that it is.

When any worker is on the job they are there to please their employer. We are workers in His fields. We are to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. We are to seek to be Holy as God is Holy. We are to set our minds on the things that are above and not on the things that are of this world. We are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and spirit. To love your neighbor as yourself. 
We are to fulfill the calling that we have been called to do in Christ Jesus. 

Does your life reflect all of this?  Are you following through with obedience to your calling or have you let the siren song of the world lure you away to false ideas and false teachers that promise much but in the end deliver nothing, as the Prodigal Son's experience was?  

Jesus prayed "Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth." John 17:17 NASB. 

Jesus said that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  

Worldly ideas and thoughts will not draw anyone towards a right relationship with Jesus.  

"Living for Jesus a life that is true,
Striving to please Him in all that I do;
Yielding allegiance, glad-hearted and free, This is the pathway of blessing for me.

O Jesus, Lord and Savior,
I give myself to Thee,
For Thou, in Thy [redemption],*
Didst give Thyself for me;
I own no other Master,
My heart shall be Thy throne,
My life I give, henceforth to live,
O Christ, for Thee alone."
- from "Living for Jesus" Thomas Chisholm 1917.

Saturday, August 27, 2022

What Do You Do

What Do You Do 
by David Brenneman 

Seems the theme of what passages that I read this morning are about focus.  Not the car but the state of mind. 

"Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. So they do it to obtain a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way as not to run aimlessly; I box in such a way, as to avoid hitting air; but I strictly discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified." 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NASB 

Focus, self-control, determination, even stubbornness would be included.  

Why do children often whine at one parent and then the other? Attempting to wear down the parent in order to gain something. To honestly break their resolve and focus at where they come from. 

We are really the most easily distracted of beings.  We joke about dogs and their inability to focus at times and at the same time commend heavily those that do.

We have an enemy upon coming to Christ for salvation that is one we must take with complete seriousness. 

He would love it for us to take his work as a joke.  He gets a kick out of us promoting movies and television shows that make it seem like he's not that bad. That he's actually equal with God. Equal with Jesus. 
Which he most certainly is not.  He wants the worship and adoration due only to Jesus Christ and God the Father as well as the Holy Spirit. 

He will use everything he is permitted to the maximum possible potential in order to twist minds.  To keep people from the truth of God. To keep those who have found salvation in Christ Jesus from living out their faith. To convince them that they don't need to give a hundred percent to Jesus. That they deserve this or that, after all they've earned it!

We are in a war. This war is escalating. 
This war has been going on for centuries. 
This war is over the very Throne of God. 
This war has casualties. People convinced to their dying breath that it's God who's been lying to them. Only to wake up to the real truth in Hell. Every single human being wakes up in Heaven, if they have indeed placed their faith and trust in Christ Jesus alone for salvation. Or they wake up in torment in Hell for rejecting Jesus Christ.  

Our focus is always on the table. 
Our focus is always at risk.
We are here if we are indeed Believers, to further the gospel of Christ Jesus. We have a purpose in Christ to work towards sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.  To live a focused life. To live a life that says "Hey! Come this way! Come over here to be rescued!"

We easily fail when our even smallest of excuses gains footing.  We were hurt so we take ourselves out of the equation. We had this or that happen so we stop doing what we were called to do in Christ.  The passage in Psalm 23 says THROUGH the valley.  Not collapsing to the ground in defeat looking for a way to live life living with the failure.  

We are not to let the world tell us how to live for Jesus.

We are told to be steadfast. To DO that which is for US to be doing in Jesus name regardless of what we went through to get there. With resolve. With determination. 

Removing what is or has been in our way.

You were hurt you say?  So was Jesus when He suffered the verbal and physical abuse of His accusers. He said that He overcame, so can you. 
You have a lot going on? Jesus says to leave it at His feet. He will help deal with it. 
You have this or that emotional baggage weighing on your mind?  Quit trying to handle it by doing what the world offers for solutions.  If we believe that Jesus is indeed doing a work in us, we have to trust Him enough to stay on the road HE sets before us. To go THROUGH that valley of the shadow of death.  Changing jobs isn't going to always be the answer. I know. Been there done that many times. Until we let go and let God do what He has purposed in us we will repeat that lesson at the new job. The world's solutions are not God's solutions. 

Stay focused. Sink your feet in the ground in standing in your faith in Jesus Christ. 

Start doing like you see in recovery efforts. Tossing debris and things without a second thought to get to what is truly precious and valuable in Christ Jesus. 

The battle belongs to the Lord but you must be willing and determined to do what He tells you. You prolong your time in that valley when you use your solutions or the world's solutions rather than God's answer.

The Prodigal Son's return only came after a decision that accompanied resolve to do what He knew what was right in his Father’s eyes. 

What distractions are you embracing from this world?
What distractions have you chosen instead of a true walk with Jesus?
Where is your resolve to live for the one who saved You?  

Friday, August 26, 2022

Into the Rough Waters

Into the Rough Waters 
by David Brenneman 

"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we also have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we celebrate in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also celebrate in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." Romans 5:1-5 NASB 

"Jesus is more concerned about your holiness than your happiness" was mentioned in a sermon that I heard not too long ago.  Sort of relevant to my current situation today.  Having to go to work on a day that is supposed to be my day off.  Going through things that aren't going to make me happy in order to bring about a different result.

Notice in that passage how many times the word we is used.  

In and of itself a counter top with bowls and containers of ingredients isn't going to get you something to eat. 

Putting the right ingredients, the right quantities, matters. 

Putting those in the mixing bowl at the proper time, sometimes brought to a right temperature beforehand, is necessary. 

Then mixing must occur with the right vigor. With the right methods.  

Then the environment must be right in order to turn those ingredients, that work of preparation, into something edible. The oven must be pre-heated. Or else that part will not go well.  

In your life and mine we are going to go through so much that we will not understand.  We will think we do, but we must realize we will never ever have the full story as to why we went through the rough waters that we did. 

We will not know why they HAD to be rough.  

Was it for us? 
Was it because of us? 
Was it because of someone else?  
Was it simply and only because of God's plan for humanity and not anything to do with us individually?

Rough waters are as necessary to our lives as the peaceful times.  Drive anywhere in any country and you will likely find places where the roads were rough between where you began and where you are wanting to go.  

We don't like rough waters.  Yet as the Scriptures read...we are to still be thankful for them.  

1 Thessalonians 5:18 NASB "in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus."

Philippians 4:4-7 NASB "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all people. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."

Romans 12:12 NASB "rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,"


Rejoicing in things that are unpleasant is a choice.  It's often a very difficult choice but it's a choice. 

We need to move FORWARD through this life.  Have used this example before in referring to Psalm 23, but consider it well that often Jesus takes us by the scruff of the neck to pull us through rough times.  More often than not it's because in our weakness we would collapse and not make it on our own.

We face ridicule. We face people critical of us.  A great deal of what we face we don't understand why.  We don't know at all what the other person is thinking.  We have no idea if they are being influenced by God or by Satan...or just their own sin nature. 

We hurt.  Both emotionally and mentally. 
We don't like it.  But it's been my experience that every Spiritual surgery isn't going to be pleasant.  In Romans Paul says we were grafted into the vine, the vine being Jesus.  That grafting process is actually painful.  A cut must happen. The end of that branch is exposed until it comes in contact with the vine. The reaction to the vine and what it offers is not what the branch expected. 

Our rough waters are for our benefit in Christ Jesus.   Simply put if you aren't experiencing rough waters I would wonder why. All who are in Christ Jesus will suffer at some point.  Jesus said this. All who desire to live Godly in Christ Jesus will suffer. 2 Timothy 3:12.

But why? Romans 12 has our answer.  We are being transformed. Jesus loves us too much to leave us as He found us.  We also read in Ephesians 2:10 of being His workmanship.  

People are going to either be a joy to be around or honestly a pain to be around. 

Things in life are going to either be enjoyable or they won't.

A very great temptation is to be selfish in our desires to push away God's plans for us in our pursuit of only joy in life. 

People who hurt us we consider tainted and refuse to be around them. Question is this: What if you are God's chosen instrument to reach such people unto salvation? 

There's an appointed day in human history that God the Father has set as the end of "the fullness of the Gentiles".  Since the only valuable thing in God's eyes is humanity, the end is tied to someone being saved who is the last to be saved before the time of the Great Tribulation begins.  It began by grace in saving the thief on the cross. Will likely end in like manner. Someone will say yes to the free gift of salvation and that will be that.  Jesus will get up, give the shout that calls us all out to meet Him in the air.  

We will probably ask Jesus throughout eternity of this or that that happened in our lives.  I know that I will be asking a bunch of questions. 

In the meantime it's urgent to be in prayer  To be in God's word. To be in a right personal relationship with Jesus. To be remembering that we who are in Christ Jesus have a divine purpose for our being in this here, this now.  Our transformation is ongoing. Our mission is the same as every other saint since the beginning of the Church.  Seek and save the lost.  We aren't here to make Heaven a place on Earth.  We aren't here to skate by in life until we die.  We aren't here to avoid people who may or may not hurt us.  We see Jesus following the Father’s plan in the Gospels. We see Him talking to the people who were the most unpleasant people.  We have been placed in the body of Christ for a specific reason by the Spirit of God for a reason.  

It's going to be rough.  It's also going to be worth it.  It's going to take us places we never dreamed possible. Our happiness isn't necessarily the first thing on God's list for us.  Our holiness is far more important. "Be Holy as I am Holy" 1 Peter 1:16.

Prayer is to be like breathing to us who are in Christ Jesus.  Something absolutely necessary to live.  It's a theme easily seen in the book of Psalms.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Interesting Nugget...Secure Undistracted Devotion

Interesting Nugget...Secure Undistracted Devotion 
David Brenneman 

"I say this for your own benefit, not to put a restraint on you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord." 1 Corinthians 7:35 NASB. 

In one regard Paul speaks toward marriage and being single. In another look deeper.  We add and subtract relationships with people and things in this life to consume our time. 

We often have to work. This consumes time. Either with an employer or at home work has to happen. In Genesis Adam is told that by the sweat of his brow he would work for his food and needs.

We enter into relationships to fulfill a need. Paul was encouraging those who are single to stay that way.  But the larger lesson I think is in this verse.  Undistracted devotion to the Lord.

We crave something to do with our minds.  In all honesty idleness bugs most people. If this weren't entirely true we wouldn't be reading in the Bible of needing to learn contentment. 

1 Timothy 6:6-10 NASB "But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it, either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."

Contentment is often elusive. 

We are in a society that in ever increasing amounts tells us over and over again that we aren't content. We must have this or that. We must do this or that. We must believe this or that...or we simply are never going to be content. 

Undistracted devotion. This fits in perfectly with the story of Mary and Martha.  The lesson of letting go of the pressures of the world and sitting at the feet of Jesus. 

We often see in movies of the throne rooms of ancient kings people with nothing better to do than just be there in the King's court to hear and watch what he had to say. 

In Heaven people who have gone on before are in THE King's court. Listening to what He has to say. Being comforted, watching others being comforted.  Hearing questions being asked and answered by King Jesus.

King David wrote of this in Psalm 84:10 NASB "For a day in Your courtyards is better than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God Than live in the tents of wickedness."

Psalm 23 he referred to dwelling in the house of the Lord forever. 

People in those times of King's were seeking to hear and see some wisdom come from the King. In Solomon's time even Sheba said his servant's were blessed by getting to hear what came from his mouth. Undistracted devotion. 

What steps are you taking towards undistracted devotion to Jesus?  Is your devotion divided?  Are you giving your attention to other things in your time after you do what needs done to things that aren't to do with growing in Christ Jesus?  This too hits home with me.  I have a multitasking mind. Contentment can come from honestly checking out mentally to work on problems in my head. Some read books to check out of reality. Some plop in a couch or recliner to binge watch movies or television or videos. Some spend gobs of money on sporting events. Some get consumed with diet fads or exercise programs.  We look to justify our distraction!  We convince ourselves that we deserve these distractions and have indeed earned them. We can go as far as to justify all the time spent in not focusing on our walk with Jesus in saying we are doing it to better walk with Jesus. 

Promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion. 

Setting our minds on the things that are above and not on the things that are of this world.  Above being where the King's court is.  Above being where our King is. 
Above being where what's important for eternity is.  The here and now will pass.  Be it good, bad or ugly, this too shall pass. 
As Mark Lowery aptly said "Having a good season? It will pass. Having a bad season? It will pass."

"Woke up this morning with the years I've spent
Hanging heavy on my mind.At times I seeSo much in meI wish I'd left behind.But the one thing I've learnedAs the years have turned,And they sure have traveled fast.I don't have to stay where I am today becauseThis too shall pass.
This too shall pass.This too shall pass.And the tears that fall like raindrops nowWill finally dry at last.This too shall past.
Sometimes I'm laughing with a crowd of friends,And still I feel alone.There's a place insideFull of tears I hideThat I've only cried alone.But I know that He's near,And I know He hears,And I know these tears won't last.This pain todayWill be swept away becauseThis too shall pass.
This too shall pass.This too shall pass.And the tears that fall like raindrops nowWill finally dry at last.This too shall pass."

Putting our focus where it needs to be in our being a Disciple of Christ Jesus is where it ought to be. Undistracted devotion. Jesus said this in taking up your own cross and following Him.  Your focus is on that cross. You can't hold anything else but that cross because it takes all that is in you to do so.

Secure undistracted devotion. Secure. 

To make safe. Is your walk with Jesus safe?  Is it secure?  Are you pursuing God as wholeheartedly as we read King David doing so? 

Things to think about...

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Trust and Be Thankful

Trust and Be Thankful 
by David Brenneman 

"This is the day which the Lord has made;
Let’s rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24 NASB 

Was reading and came across this verse.

Made me also think of this one: "Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6 NASB 

The first verse I remember learning as a chorus. It sort of goes like this:

"This is the day
This is the day
This is the day that the Lord has made that the Lord has made 
We will rejoice we will rejoice and be glad in it and be glad in it
This is the day that the Lord has made we will rejoice and be glad in it. 
Oh this is the day this is the day that the Lord has made."

The theme in Psalm 118 is easily thankfulness.  I know that I don't thank God enough for all that He's done for me.  My efforts in life aren't always at a hundred percent in what I do for Him.  I get distracted by the world as much as anyone.  Remembering to be thankful is especially hard in difficult times. When our feelings are feeling the opposite of that.

"Father, we wanna thank You
For givin' us and gifted Your Son, Jesus
And in return we wanna give You all that we have
Our hearts, our lives and our thanks
… Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He's given
Jesus Christ, His Son
… Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He's given
Jesus Christ, His Son
… And now let the weak say, "I am strong"
Let the poor say, "I am rich"
Because of what the Lord has done for us
… And now let the weak say, "I am strong"
Let the poor say, "I am rich"
Because of what the Lord has done for us
… Give thanks
We give thanks (give thanks)
We give thanks"  - Don Moen "Give Thanks"

Of course these take me to a much more modern song of "What He's Done" by Passion Conferences. 

The focus of thankfulness leaves us and puts it where it goes in Heaven between those who have gone on before us do 24/7 if time applied there.  It puts the focus back on Jesus.  We read in Revelation of where any crowns of righteousness are placed. Back with Jesus. We read in various places in the Bible where people both small and great bow before Jesus to give thanks.

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6 NASB 

When we walk with the Lord
  In the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way;
  While we do His good will,
  He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
  Trust and obey,
For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus,
  But to trust and obey.

Look at the rest of this Hymn...

"Not a shadow can rise,
  Not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
  Not a doubt or a fear,
  Not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.
Not a burden we bear,
  Not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
  Not a grief or a loss,
  Not a frown or a cross,
But is blest if we trust and obey.
But we never can prove
  The delights of His love,
Until all on the altar we lay;
  For the favor He shows,
  And the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.
Then in fellowship sweet
  We will sit at His feet,
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
  What He says we will do;
  Where He sends, we will go,
Never fear, only trust and obey.Not a shadow can rise,
  Not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
  Not a doubt or a fear,
  Not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.
Not a burden we bear,
  Not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
  Not a grief or a loss,
  Not a frown or a cross,
But is blest if we trust and obey.
But we never can prove
  The delights of His love,
Until all on the altar we lay;
  For the favor He shows,
  And the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.
Then in fellowship sweet
  We will sit at His feet,
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
  What He says we will do;
  Where He sends, we will go,
Never fear, only trust and obey." 

Most of the time in Church someone chooses lines of the song to sing rather than all of them.  But just take a look at all of them!

Almost takes you along a ride to other hymns. "What a friend we have in Jesus...all our sins and griefs to bear...what a privilege to carry every thing to the Lord in prayer".

Would be a great medley to mix these together.  

We often get sucked and suckered into looking for happiness in the things of this world.  We willingly place our passion and joy with things, with success, with events, with any and everything else other than solely with Jesus and what we ought to be doing with and for Him.

We inevitably are disappointed. 
We inevitably find that it doesn't last. That success was short lived.  That bonus didn't last. That team hits a losing streak. That diet didn't work as seen on TV or as that marketing person promised it would do.  We try, we fail, we either keep on trying or we get disillusioned by the experience or try something new. 

Plans and programs the world has to offer always will fail.  If any were truly successful they would have been discovered long ago and in fact we all would still be doing them.  The only place to look for peace and contentment is in a right relationship with Jesus.  It's being thankful even if people are rude, crude, cruel and nasty with us.  Even if we are in our own barren wasteland feeling like we are in our own 40 years in the desert. Being thankful and trusting in God is what Israel wasn't doing in both their 40 year stints in the desert.

To borrow a line from a song "we are looking for love in all the wrong places looking for love in too may faces."

We look everywhere but in where it's ever going to be true.  We are all tempted to look for our solutions and the world's solutions before seeking God's. 

How thankful are you?
How grateful are you?
How much time do you spend with Jesus at His feet rather than in searching for what you are seeking for in this world?

Adoration Confession Thanksgiving Supplication ACTS.

When we are feeling out of sorts is it HALT?  
Are we Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired that is leading us away from being thankful and trusting in God?  

To trust and obey is on us.
To be thankful is also on us.

There's no other way to be happy in Jesus. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Where our Hearts are...

Where our Hearts are...
By David Brenneman 

I wss sitting here pondering just what gets my time after sleep, eating, chores, work, are out of the equation. Where does it go? Where do I take me, where do others take me? Where is God in those minutes that make up the rest of the week?

We easily are interested in escaping our world.  It's why games and gaming are so popular. It's why YouTube is way more an entertainment enigma than it is instructional.  It's why billions per year, regardless of the economic distress, are spent on streaming video and movies seen online or through services. It's why sports is a multi-billion dollar a year industry. 

The imagination wasn't intended to be used the way we use it.  God had other things in mind for it.  It's the by far go to for temptation to arise from. 

I am not immune to seeking a timeout from the world.  Have really met very few, very very few, who didn't.  

1 Timothy 6:6-10 NASB "But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it, either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."

Social media has raised up and redefined the idea of "status".  Used to never be as important a word as its become. 

Situation comedy has used it as a shtick in punchlines.  Our status is sought out by some because of societies importance placed upon it.  Ironically those who post what they are feeling or doing often find a lack of communication happening.  Unless they post something for the shock n awe impact not much is really said.  Although people follow people for whatever reasons. 

We are to be Holy as God is Holy. We are to seek godliness. Not as the world defines it in our disposition of our emotions or feelings in a post. 

Our identity is wrapped up in who we are in Christ Jesus.  Not in the way people do or don't agree with that idea. 

We don't need a high from a status update. 
We don't need the approval of men rather than of God. Oooo...

Galatians 1:10 NASB "For am I now seeking the favor of people, or of God? Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ."

John 12:43 NASB "for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God."

What about..."Slaves, obey those who are your human masters in everything, not with eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord and not for people, knowing that it is from the Lord that you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. For the one who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality." Colossians 3:22-25 NASB. 

Slaves in this isn't referring necessarily to the kind we have read of in history books.  Essentially in accepting a job you defer your wants and desires for a rate of pay to please the company to which you are employed. 

We sometimes are referred to as slaves to Christ Jesus.  Deferring our wants and desires and instead living out what He wants of us in our lives. 

Where is your heart in service to God?  We either willingly serve or unwillingly serve. We either are going to have the right heart attitude or we won't.

We either will give our best or we won't. 

A story was told of a soon to be retiring home builder.  His boss agreed to his leaving his company after a long and distinguished career with him if only he would help on one last house. 

He agreed and got to work as usual.  But it decidedly was not his best work. His mind was on getting it done to get on with retirement.  His quality suffered.  His heart wasn't in it.  

To his shock, after this house was completed, and they were doing their walk through, his soon to be former boss hands him the keys to the house.  It was a gift to him for his years of service.  And now he would have to live in a place that he didn't put his whole heart into.  

You and I have but one and only one "well done" to hear and it's not in this life.  It's in Heaven after we meet Jesus face-to-face.  It's after our lived are reviewed, tested by fire, to see what's of worth that remains. 

What did we do for Jesus in the time we were given? 

Hate to break it to everyone but it will have nothing to do with sports statistics. Nothing to do with how many of what got built. Nothing to do with anything really man-made. It will be in what you did, how you did and why you did what you did for Jesus and His kingdom.

How you lived for Jesus. Where your heart was in when you did what you did.  

Quite often it's a joke but the sad truth, and I am just as guilty, is we would rather mentally check out of our world than interact with people. 

The work in the harvest that Jesus said to pray to the Father for help in isn't things of this world.  It's in reaching people. 

Jesus called the Disciples to be fishers of men. To go to where the fish were biting. To live life in such a way that people saw their good works and glorified their Father in Heaven.  To be living life with a Kingdom of God mindset. Even the Disciples asked what about them...they had given up everything to follow Jesus.  

"Then Peter responded and said to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?” And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms on account of My name, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last; and the last, first." Matthew 19:27-30 NASB.

Where did Jesus point to in regards to "what's in it for me?"?  To life after this life. He pointed to the Kingdom. Success, prosperity, even health and wealth were not mentioned as a reward for Godly living. We may be blessed in those ways, we may not. It's our transformed heart that matters.  The Bible says He took away our heart of stone and replaced it with a heart of flesh. 

Jesus has a purpose for you in this life and its not what you think.  It's a life in service to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It's us living out a life that shows the heart of God to a lost world.  To be men and women who are like King David's. A man after God's own heart. 

What's in your heart?
What are you using it for?
Are you being intentional in living your life for Jesus as the Disciples did?
Are you following the example of Christ or showing the world who you are instead?
Either people will see you or they will see Jesus.  Those are the only two options. 

Are you pushing God to get the life you think you deserve or are you living for Jesus in all that you do as the hymn speaks to?  Living for Jesus a life that is true. Striving to please Him in all that I do. 
Oh Jesus Lord and Master I give myself to thee for thou in thy atonement did give thyself for me. I owe no other Master my heart shall be thy Throne. My life I give hence forth to Christ to thee alone.

Monday, August 22, 2022

Freely Given to Us

Freely Given to Us 
by David Brenneman 

"He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?" Romans 8:32 NASB 

I like this particular translation not only because the NASB is the closest to the original language of the Scriptures, but in its use if the word 'real'. 

Was talking yesterday with someone about how complicated adults make the Scriptures and the message of the Gospel. 

Adults don't often see the forest for the trees.  We often look for the complicated and when we don't find it, think that there's nothing to be had, nothing there. 

Children don't have that particular problem or honestly that particular anxiety. 

"At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent, and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well pleasing in Your sight. All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son determines to reveal Him." Matthew 11:25-28 NASB. 

Some have looked at me sideways because of saying that we as adults over- complicate the message of the Gospel. 

Many a child has come to Christ because of "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong they are weak but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so." being sang in a Sunday School class or a VBS.

We often don't look really closely at the words to "Just As I Am".  

We, even after coming to Christ for salvation, look for the complicated rules that really don't exist.  Much like who we read about in the early Church tried to do. 

Paul addresses some of this in the book of Romans. 

Turn around from sin, go the other way. Repentance. 

Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.  Godly mindset. 

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and spirit. Love your neighbor as yourself.  

We often try to get out micrometers, a compass, rulers, and a microscope to look at the words of the Bible....BEFORE we stop and actually ask the writer of the Bible what He meant by what we read. 

The same thing, at least in part, to the pre-Google Maps, pre-GPS days in going pretty much anywhere. All too many husbands got in trouble for not paying heed to the road atlas.  The wife trying to point out where they should have turned. 

We seem to think that which isn't true. That soft lie of Satan that you still need to DO something more to ensure your salvation. That the work on the cross of Jesus Christ couldn't possibly, really, be finished. 

The real reality of life is this: we come to Christ and become His workmanship. We now have a God-given purpose. We now need God's help and direction to find what it is for us to be doing in the body of Christ Jesus.  

His work in us is to make us more like Christ Jesus.  Not necessarily health, wealth and prosperity. Not to necessarily grant you or I everything we ever wanted in life.  

His work in us is to also seek out others. 
This is the Kingdom Priority.  He came to seek and save the lost in this world. He turned over that job to the Disciples and then to the early Church and by extension us who are in Christ Jesus today. 

The work in us is alongside the work of God to prepare for the return of Jesus Christ. Prophecy it coming true in our lifetime.  We eagerly await the return of Jesus.  At least I do.  Pretty much all that's really left prophetically to happen is the last person who would be saved is saved prior to the Great Tribulation.  I adhere to what I call the bookends idea. It began with the thief on the cross.  There is a last person very similar to the first. They won't have great deeds in Christ to their name. They won't have time likely to even be baptized.  

Jesus loved mankind so much that He died on a cross. Was buried and 3 days later arose from the dead. Conquering sin, death and the grave.  Bringing hope to the hopeless. Bring the free gift of salvation to all who would call upon His Name. 

"But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;  for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10. 

It brings my mind now to "I serve a risen Savior
He’s in the world today.
I know that He is living,
Whatever men may say.
I see His hand of mercy;
I hear His voice of cheer;
And just the time I need Him
He’s always near.
He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart." - He Lives! Alfred H. Ackley, 1887-1960

Oh my Dear Reader...oh the love of God for you!  

"The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tellIt goes beyond the highest starAnd reaches to the lowest hellThe guilty pair, bowed down with careGod gave His Son to winHis erring child He reconciledAnd pardoned from his sin
Could we with ink the ocean filAnd were the skies of parchment madeWere every stalk on earth a quillAnd every man a scribe by trade
To write the love of God aboveWould drain the ocean dryNor could the scroll contain the wholeThough stretched from sky to sky" Mercy Me "The Love of God".

Jesus loves you this I know. 
For His Bible tells me so. 

It matters not what your life looks like right now.  He who created the Heavens and the world you see can create something new in you and me. 

There's nothing complicated to the love of God.  We often look for a catch. Look for something that would cause us to regret coming to Christ. My Dear Reader. Would He who took on all the horrific pains of dying on a cross in your place really hide some aspect of salvation from you?  People have the ability to double cross people. God is always true to Himself and His Word.  The gift of salvation is indeed free to all who believe. 

We live in a world that goes out of its way to weigh us down in rules and conditions that weigh on our souls. In Christ is freedom.  We seek peace.  It's found in Christ. 

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Anxiety...and Me

Anxiety...and Me

by David Brenneman

"The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime; And His song will be with me in the night, A prayer to the God of my life." Psalm 42:8

I was sharing yesterday with some great guys in our Saturday Morning Group about my bouts with anxiety.  Then a Godincidence happened.  This verse came up this morning.  

It's been a very long time since I wrote something from a PC, 99.9 percent of all the others have been through my phone or tablet.  So we'll see how this goes with formatting.

Me anxious?  Yes.  When did this start?  It does have a beginning.  It actually began the week we first moved to Columbus, Ohio.  I wasn't aware of the depths of it due to being so immersed in what I had been told is the 'culture' that surrounds a very-large, essentially, 'college' city.  Columbus is where the Ohio State University is.  

In 20+ years of living in that environment you don't realize how quickly you get pulled into being what I term "pro-reactive".  You have to anticipate your reactions to other people's reactions.  Some today call this 'unconscious bias'.  The looking at your behaviors and how you might be reacting to others in your world due to your own preconceived ideas and thoughts concerning them.  To me it's much more indepth.

You learn how to be prepared for what 'might' happen and actually form your world around both personal protection and protecting others in your 'circle'.  Beit family or friends.  While society at large down there goes on concerning all you can do in and around Columbus, in all reality it's just as dangerous a place to live as say Cleveland, Toledo or Cincinnati.  The police can't be everywhere.  Help honestly can't be everywhere.  So you learn how to essentially go out, get done what you need done and return to your 'castle'.  

We lived in an ordinary sub-division.  Yet most of the time you didn't see your neighbor's. Interactions with them were honestly rare. 

For us at least we tried to reach out at just about every church we attended...and yes we attended quite a few trying to find a church 'home'. Hinde sight shows us that we didn't find one due to it not being God's plan for us yet.  That wouldn't come until we would move.  

My anxiety here is still linked to the associations of feelings and situations from down there.  I had a very bad bout of anxiety a few Friday's ago.  Just out driving up to get my truck looked at and WHAM there I was in this mind-set for hours.  I had no rational reason for it other than thinking that maybe I was trying to figure out how to react to what news I would be told about my truck.  That whole pro-reactive thing.

We go out to stores...both my Wife and I have problems being in heavily populated stores and not for the reasons of recent years that others do.  Doesn't happen while at church.  Just stores.

Before I had found and married my Wife, I used to work grocery.  Part of what you learn on the job is to read people.  Who's thinking of stealing and who's just there to shop.  Take that idea and apply it to everywhere you go in Columbus.  Just watch the news from down there and you will see the reasons for being that way.  Violence and stupidity are evident everywhere.

So that's the sort of backstory.  God's not abandoned us after we got here.  The issue certainly isn't with God doing His part. I am re-learning who I am since moving.  The hyper-environment isn't necessarily here as it was in our old hometown.  After talking with each other on this yesterday we really think this is a form of PTSD.  There's just going to be triggers but how we deal with those triggers is the key.

While my Wife was in the store yesterday I saw several Veteran's.  Saw a few earlier in the day.  People with every right to have PTSD.  One, just from the short conversation I had with him after thanking him for his service, well his response spoke volumes.  It's not related but in a way it is to how this country treats Veteran's.  They wonder why so many have so many difficulties adapting back into this society and yet don't remotely do enough to understand them or their situations.  In this one gentleman's eyes I could see the same sort of things that go through my mind when out in public.

In each of us we have the capacity to listen to or to ignore the temptations to give in to fears.  We have an enemy of mankind who've turned to Christ Jesus for salvation who loves to get us to doubt our identity.  To get us to stay away from others for any reason.  He loves it when we justify our own reasons for staying away from other people.  

Paul had every right and reason to consider himself unfit for duty in serving Jesus. Look at all the..well..horrors...he lived through.  Beatings, being stoned several times, the list goes on.  He could have just not gone to Jerusalem. Could have excused himself.  Said he had done enough for Jesus now it's time for others to do it. Could have not appealed to Caesar.  He would have been released a day later had he not uttered those words.  Paul encouraged Timothy to keep on keeping on no matter what he faced as a Pastor. Paul taught to endure. Paul taught that our mission in this life isn't over until we are no longer breathing. He said to 'fight the good fight'.  

Anxiety tends to suck the life out of 'fighting the good fight'.

Anxiety and fear tends to try to get us to think a 'detour' sign is on our walk with God. Let's be real here, that's what we think.  We hit that wall and think that we HAVE to turn this way or that way to find peace and rest.  Psalm 23 tends to disagree with that idea.  

Fears and hurts from others, even those close to us, tend to do the same.  We take on emotional beatings and hurts and think that's some sign to change the course of our lives.  

Well, what if it's not what GOD wants you to do?  What if He WANTS to teach you something about yourself and about Him?  What if what is a perceived failure on your part or what looks to be a failure on His part really isn't at all?

What then?  Well there's a sort of growth list in the New Testament. Perseverance is at the top of that list.  To persevere is to push through.  In Psalm 23 we are lead THROUGH.  Our inclination is to essentially drop to the ground, cover our heads, and not want to move for fear of the situation getting worse. Jesus essentially grabs us by the scruff of the neck and says 'No, My Child. We press on."

In time I know what triggers my anxiety will lessen.  Some of it is me just looking for things that aren't there that I was used to looking for in Columbus.  The 20+ years in the wilderness are over.  I have a Savior and Lord who is with me in my successes as well as my failures.  He is with me in my anxious moments and when I'm not so anxious.  We are commanded to be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication make our requests known unto God.  Does He NEED our list of anxiety's? No. Does He NEED our list of things causing them? No. Not at all.  But as we often get told unless we admit a problem-in most cases verbally-then we don't acknowledge that problem in reality.

I know that my Savior leads me. Psalm 23. I know that He loves me unconditionally.  That will never change.  He can love me no less nor love me no more than He does in this moment of my life.  His love for you cannot grow or lessen in any respect.  

I know that part of my problem, as we talked yesterday, is in that here we are approaching three-quarters of a year into living in our new hometown and weekend after weekend still is often trying to fix or repair something.  To find our 'new normal'.  Peace and rest often aren't happening when things like this happen.  Having a day of rest often doesn't happen.  Something has to be done.   We're still trying to make new friends.  So more often than not we do not see anyone until the following Sunday that we know.  In time this may change for the better.  It's all in God's timing.  People have to be willing to get to know us just as we have to overcome our pro-reactiveness to get to know them. 

The song by Matthew West "The God Who Stays" means so much to me in my life right now. Here's some of the lyrics:

If I were You I would've given up on me by now

I would've labeled me a lost cause

'Cause I feel just like a lost cause

If I were You I would've turned around and walked away

I would've labeled me beyond repair

'Cause I feel like I'm beyond repair

Oh, but somehow You don't see me like I do

Somehow You're still here

You're the God who stays

You're the God who stays

You're the one who runs in my direction

When the whole world walks away

You're the God who stands

With wide open arms

And You tell me nothing I have ever done can separate my heart

From the God who stays

I used to hide

Every time I thought I let You down

I always thought I had to earn my way

But I'm learning You don't work that way, no

'Cause somehow You don't see me like I do

Somehow You're still here

You're the God who stays

In my good times and my bad times in my anxious thoughts and at peace...He IS the God who stays with me.  Even when I don't know why my life has tumbles and why something just broke or why nothing has broke...He's still the God who Stays.