A Bit of the Ole Razzle Dazzle

Do not believe every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they are from God many false prophets have gone into the world. I John 4:1

It is now mid-January and most of us have reluctantly packed up the lights and tree.  I decided to leave one item of decoration out because it really was not centrally Christmas but mostly just winter-themed.  Another reason I left it out was that I was pleased with it.  I thought I was very clever in making it.  A simple crate with a scrap of material, greenery, lights, and three birch sticks.  Why was this so “clever” on my part?  Because my birch wood sticks were nothing more than painted paper towel rolls.  By themselves painted and tied with a bit of twine they are not very impressive and it painfully obvious what they are, but once you place all the lights and greenery around them it gives a good illusion. 

At a glance, you see what I want you to see.

Recently, no doubt you have been seeing a bit of razzle dazzle going on in the media.  In the coming days, you will see even more.  There will be times you are confused, outraged, and simply do not know what to believe. It is during these times we need to look to the One who knows all.  He is not shocked or surprised by current events.   James 1:5 reads, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”   Do not rely on your own understanding but ask the Lord to give you wisdom and discernment.  Prepare yourselves to see beyond illusions and lies.

Beware of the razzle dazzle.

Typist of Jesus

A Good Cup of Coffee

and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. Luke 24:47

            About six weeks ago, my coffee maker gave up the ghost.  I have been using a percolator on the stove.  Fine coffee but hard to keep warm like a traditional coffee maker.  I decided that with a gift card I had receive for Christmas I would get a new one.  As I stood in the aisle, I was amazed at all the brands and differing degrees of coffee maker.  On one end a simple coffee maker and on the other an expensive machine that did everything including taking commands from Alexa.  Short of doing your taxes, this machine seemed to be able to do anything.  Yet, I could not help but wonder, is it any good at making coffee? I ended up buying the $9.99 coffee maker, I did not need all the other options.  I just wanted a good cup of coffee.

-What does a coffee maker have to do with Jesus?

            Unfortunately, we are the same when searching for a church or what Christianity can offer.  Our requirements for church, Bible studies and the messages coming out of the pulpit is what that it conforms to what we want to hear. Do we like where the church is located, is it convenient to where I live, is the pastor connected in the community?  Does he know all the right people? Does the message make me feel good about myself?  I want to feel good and have my needs met, I do not want to have to examine myself or acknowledge my failings. 

We focus on how to fill the pews but what we need to focus on is how do we fill heaven.

We want a Christianity and a Jesus that conforms to us and how we want to feel.  Being a Christian and a follower of Jesus is not about how you feel.  In fact, there is no feelings in Christianity. True discipleship is about obedience, sacrifice, charity, and compassion.  We do not need, nor should we look for all the bells and whistles.  What makes a great church or ministry is the courage to focus on what is important and needed.  Truth.  Teaching salvation and repentance. These two things are very unpopular in the secular world.  God, through His son made a way of salvation for ALL humankind. However, without true repentance there is no salvation.  Let us not allow ourselves to be caught up in the easy, comfortable, and non-controversial Christianity that is sweeping the globe.  Let us be courageous and share His truth.

            Typist for Jesus

Revive Your Heart’s Fire

Never let the fire in your heart go out. Keep it alive. Serve the Lord. When you hope, be joyful. When you suffer, be patient. When you pray, be faithful. Romans 12:11-12 NIV

The sun had begun her descent, casting long shadows across the field. The aroma of smoked beef and chicken hung in the air enticing my stomach to growl.  As the last of the shoppers made their way to the parking lot we began to pull down the tent and repack our boxes.  It had been a long day but nonetheless fun, we had met several people and made a little cash.  Finally everything was done, coolers topped off with ice, cars carefully packed and the smoker strapped to the back of the trailer, it was finally time to go. Tired, sunburned and hungry, I pulled behind my friend, forming our convoy.  The trailer she towed bounced and shook as we began the mountain climb. 

Gaining speed, I noticed that the smoker had begun to cough up little puffs of smoke.  By the time we started down the mountain, those little coughs had become a steady billow of black smoke.  I blew my horn and flashed the lights.  We took another deep curve, gathering speed and that is when it happened.  I flashed my lights, then blew the horn and crossed over the middle line to get her attention.  The whole time I was yelling at my Bluetooth to call.  Finally I had a signal, relieved I shouted my command again as I blew the horn and flashed my lights. This was becoming serious, the smoker was engulfed in dancing orange flames. Hot debris flew out, causing sparks as they hit the pavement bouncing down the country road.

The ringing stopped and I yelled, “you are on fire”!  She pulled to the side of the road and together we doused the flames and checked the ropes eager to insure our safety as we continued the trip. Once the flames had been reduced to sizzling smoking ash, we laughed a bit.  Doubled checked the trailer, and headed back to the cabin. It had been an exciting few minutes. After hours of the smoker not being used and cool to touch, it was obvious that at least one ember had held enough heat to be revived.

You may be feeling like the fire has gone out in your spiritual life.  Especially during this year and even now in the holiday season.  In many ways it does not feel much like Christmas and I am sad to not be able to spend it with my family.  Although the world may not feel much like Christmas, we should carry it with us year round. Christmas is not a date, or simply a holiday.  It is a time to reflect and give praise to God for providing a way of salvation through His son.  I think that this week’s verse in the book of Romans is good advice in the face of adversity, uncertainty and an overwhelming sadness.  Paul understood hardship.  He knew loss, hunger, pain, rejection and I am sure at some times defeat and sadness.  At that time in history all those that were subject to Roman rule also understood these things well. Because Paul understood he wrote these words to the Romans and us.  “Never let the fire in your heart go out. Keep it alive.”

You and I may feel like the fire has died down, but as long as there is even an ember, the fire can be revived.  Do not allow anything to extinguish the fire in your heart for Jesus.  Continue to serve the Lord and in hope find your joy.  Though many of us are facing suffering, be patient and pray faithfully. 

Fan those embers.  Revive your fire for Jesus!

The best is yet to come!

Typist for Jesus

No Room for Improvement

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.  Hebrews 13:8(ESV)

On the kitchen table is candy left over from the holiday.  There are only a few packs of Caramel M & Ms.  They are the only inhabitants of the candy bowl because either no one likes them or no one is brave enough to try them.  I have been passing that bowl for a week however today I decided I was going to give those M & Ms a try.

As I chewed the candy, I had two thoughts.  First, I do not like them and second, why is it we are never happy with something the way it is?  M & Ms whether plain or peanut are wonderful, so why did someone decide it needed to be changed?  

I think it is because as humans we are always trying to improve things.  This is a good trait on the whole, because we are always striving to make things faster, safer and easier. It is in our DNA to strive for improvement and innovation.  However, we cannot seem to accept that some things do not need to be improved or changed.  Some things are perfect and exactly what we need.

From the beginning, man has tried to “improve and reinvent” God. We try to make him what we want him to be. We want God to be silent and us to have all the say.  If we determine what is right and wrong, then we are not sinful. If we discount the creation, the flood and call it fiction then the rest of the Bible is no longer relevant. We teach Science in our schools and churches that strive to explain God’s beautiful purposeful creation into a reaction of chemicals and exploding planets. That you are an extraordinary accident of primordial goo. We take Jesus’s teaching and contort his message of love and call it hate so we are free to hate everything God loves. 

Unfortunately, we accept much of it and soft serve it in churches. Man strives to make God easier, more socially acceptable so that we choose what part of his word to believe, obey and share. Where the Church and the teachings of Jesus once framed society, we now find ourselves conforming to the desires of society. 

Since the beginning, God has remained the same.  No matter what society, science, schools, compromising churches or the media present, claim or teach, the truth remains unchanged.  This should be a comfort.  Life is ever changing, what is true today may not be tomorrow.  Who we are with today, may not be with us tomorrow.  No matter what happens in our lives, in this world, in politics, in science or next door, God is the same yesterday, today and forever. Instead of trying to change God to fit what we want and what makes life easy, we should be looking to improve and change ourselves to be as Jesus. God’s love for us and his creation has not faded. His Word is still relevant today, his message of true love is for all.   He proves his love through the gift of grace, forgiveness and salvation found only in true repentance, and the acceptance of Jesus and the full Word of God.

Typist for Jesus

https://www.amazon.ca/Mustard-Seeds-Melissa-Levi/dp/1950034712

My Dog Has a Chipmunk Problem

Big Bryan

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

My dog is obsessed with the chipmunks living under the deck.  He whines and barks at them through the window as they run and play, stopping to munch on a nut or vegetation right in front of the glass door.  Just two or three feet and a glass pane separate him from his nemesis.  Once I let him out for his relief breaks he runs from burrow to burrow, sometimes forgetting why he was let out.  Then he comes inside and realizes he needs to go out.  All day he paces, whines and cries and nothing I do distracts him from those chipmunks.  He is obsessed and cannot focus on anything else.  

I am going to go out on a limb and say that we too can become obsessed with things.  In fact, like those chipmunks in the window, we are also distracted.  Everywhere you turn there are commercials, radio advertising, billboards, emails, news reports and the topic of every conversation you take part in.   The Covid-19 situation is on the forefront of every communication.  Stirring up fear, worry and questions.  We spend a lot of time pacing and trying to figure out what will happen next.

I have begun limiting my exposure to Covid-19 reports, articles and news.  Some would say this is not prudent.  However, I disagree. I am not sticking my head in the sand, instead I am controlling what I expose myself to.  It is true we need to know what is going on in our communities, governments and the world, but there is a limit.  Instead of subsisting on a continual buffet of Covid reports, information and speculation, we should limit how much time we spend reading and submerging ourselves in the ongoing situation. I know that is not easy, you cannot listen to the radio or watch TV without every commercial being about the Covid 19 virus, but you have the power to choose what and how much you digest.  Do not allow yourself to be distracted to the point of neglecting yourself. This constant exposure can intensify fear, loneliness, depression and aggression.  Enjoy time with family, make time for study and prayer, enjoy a good meal or take a walk.  You have the power to limit your exposure and protect yourself.  

I put curtains up on the door and Bryan is much calmer.  He still knows the chipmunks  are there and checks out the burrows every time we go out, but he is not obsessed anymore because the constant stimuli has been curtailed. 

Typist for Jesus

A Faith that Withstands the Threshing Floor

“His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3:12

For the past two weeks I have been trying to write a Seed.  However, only the words, “it is time to separate the wheat from the chaff” has rolled through my mind.  So I began to look for a correlating story as my example, however none came to me. I read about the process of separating wheat from chaff.  (Threshing is done by beating the grain using a flail on a threshing floor or using donkeys or oxen walking  in circles on the grain on a hard surface.) 

This phrase first rolled through my gray matter the night before my city was hit by four tornadoes.  How unfair, I remember thinking that our community was dealing with the Covid 19 virus and now a destructive tornado.. So many people I know were out of work, others worried about the health of loved ones and themselves and then to have our community shredded by an EF3 tornado.  Where is the fairness in that?  As I meditated on these thoughts and shared my questions with Jesus, that phrase continued to roll through. It was then that I realized the correlating story wasn’t something from my life but our lives.  We are living in unusual times.  Dangerous and uncertain times.  

“Now the wheat will be separated from the chaff.”  Whispers.

Faith is nothing without testing.  It is easy to stand and say I believe, God is in control and Jesus is my savior when life is good.  It is easy to declare my faith and trust in God when I am not on state lockdown or huddled in a closet in the darkness.  We are living in unusual times.  Dangerous and uncertain times.  It is now that the wheat will be separated from the chaff. 

Is your declaration of trusting and serving the Savior just words?  Or is your faith one that will withstand what we still have to face? These events have not changed our duties as Christians. We are to witness, lift up those in despair, help the needy and retain our faith and joy, no matter what may come.  Now more than ever in your life, those around you need to witness a faith that withstands the threshing floor. 

Are you  the wheat, or the chaff?

Typist for Jesus

Spring Planting

So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” 1 Corinthians 3:7

Spring has sprung and the yard is filled with roses, azaleas, and tulips.  I love this time of year as nature comes alive with color. It is also time to plant vegetables.  Now that we have a house, my daughter and I are excited about having a small garden. This past week she planted seven different items and every day we have checked for the seedlings to emerge.  Of the seven planted four have broken the surface. By Friday my daughter was disappointed that we still had three pots with no development. Rereading the seed packets we discovered that some seeds take longer to germinate than others and this explained the delay. Now we can look forward to them emerging when they should. 

It is the same with the seeds we plant in people’s lives.  I often get frustrated when I do not see a change or growth.  That is because I have forgotten my role. It is my role to plant the seed, but God’s to give the increase.  It is hard to remember that when you care about someone. You only want the best for them. You want them to know the peace and assurance you have in Jesus but that is between them and God.  Plant the seed, water the seed but ultimately know that God gives the increase. 

Seeds emerge in God’s time.

Typist for Jesus

A Parade All My Own

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you.  I have made you and I will carry you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46:4

I recognized the sound.  The thump and lope of a flat tire.  I coasted to the grass along the country lane.  Getting out of the car I saw that the tire was flat and coming off the rim.  It was my first time to travel this road and I had only gone a few yards when I realized it wasn’t a road made for my little car.  I should have turned around, but I thought I would just carry on and that is when I hit the pothole and ended the life of the rear driver’s tire. 

I explained the situation to my daughter and got on the phone with a towing company.   Thirty minutes later the truck backed up in front of my car. What happened next was bizarre, hilarious and unexpected.  The driver explained to me that because of the Covid-19 we could not ride in the cab with him. I stared back at him. “Well,” I began. “I can call my other daughter to come to get us.”

“So, I do have another option.” He said, a twinkle in his eye. “You can ride in the car back to the shop.”

Windows down, seat belts on, my daughter and I princess waved as we rode down the main street.  People pointed and laughed. Some stared and some chose to ignore the spectacle. I will admit it was great fun!  A parade all our own. As I was enjoying the ride and of course the attention, I thought about how sometimes in your life you just must be carried.  I had to trust the driver not only with my property but the lives of myself and my daughter. It was an unusual event in unusual circumstances. 

Today across the world people are living in fear.  The world has a common enemy. Not just of the virus that is storming every city, village, and town, but the worry about jobs, finances, health, losing a lease or home and the future of each of us and our loved ones.  Now more than ever we need hope and faith. And now more than ever, the world needs to see Jesus. That is where we as Christians come in. You may be the only example of Jesus some may see.

We keep reading the same phase in news reports and articles, “These are unprecedented times.”  These may be unprecedented times for the world, but this is no surprise to God.  Allow him to carry you through this. Share your faith and hope in Jesus. Hold fast to your faith.

Typist for Jesus

Keeping Your Head When Everyone's Losing Theirs

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6

I was talking to my daughter one evening. She was reading articles offline and on Facebook. The stories were shocking about what lows people were stooping. As she read the headlines, I could hear her panic beginning to rise. “Mom, these people are nuts; they have lost their minds!”

“Yes, I said, it appears they have. We are going to see a lot more stories about people doing despicable and irrational things. We need to remember that this is a small slice of society. Despite what you see and hear about, remain grounded and do not let this mania take over.”

Over the next few weeks, you will see some extraordinary things. You will witness people reacting out of fear. Do not allow these stories or other’s actions to draw your focus away from Jesus. Keep your head. Do not respond, but think and use the reason God has given you. 

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5

During this time, remember to keep your focus on the cross. Do not allow yourself to get tangled up in the hype or panic.  

Typist for Jesus

Do Not Fear!

Don’t fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine. Isaiah 43:1

I had stopped at the Dollar Tree to get a couple of things for a project that I am about to begin.  While I was looking for the glue sticks, I heard a lady cough. That cough was then followed by an eruption of coughing.  The cough was deep and raspy, it erupted from her chest and echoed throughout the small store. I didn’t pay much attention, at first, but then the hacking continued.  I stepped out of the aisle and cast a caution eye across the shop. The store was quiet except for the coughing. The employees had stopped ringing, the customers had stopped shopping and the manager stood in the front.  Her indecision written all over her face. It was mixed with a genuine look of fear. Everyone had stopped what they were doing and all their attention was focused on the middle aged lady in aisle three. 

I will admit that for the first time during this Covid-19 situation, I was experiencing genuine fear.  With every cough, my mind raced and questioned. Should I leave my shopping and exit the store? Could she be infected and has she just infected us all?  The hurricane of questions gained speed in my brain, tearing through my sense of peace. I wasn’t the only one caught in the swirl of uncertainty. My fellow patrons stood motionless, their faces betraying their thoughts. The chill of fear emanated from us all.   

God commands us to not fear.  In fact, “do not fear” is in the Bible 80 times.  Seems to me that if it is repeated this often, then God wants to bring home the point.  Whenever we allow fear to control us, we are decreasing hope and limiting our victory. We cannot let hope fall to fear.  We have to hold on to our hope in Christ with both hands. Without it, there is no victory. 

I know that this is a confusing  time, unprecedented in our lifetimes, however, no matter what you hear, no matter what you see, remember, God is ultimately in charge. You have nothing to fear.  His Word tells us so.

Do not fear, but rather encourage your faith.  Encourage those in your life. Do not let fear win over.

Typist for Jesus