Thursday, March 31, 2011

Heaven's KOA!

Psalm 61 (New International Version, ©2011)

 4 I long to dwell in your tent forever
   and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.
[b] 5 For you, God, have heard my vows;
   you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.

In the old testament, much of the nation of Israel lived out of tents. We have come a long way from living as desert wanderers, living out of tents, to the grand homes we live in today. But, if you remember even God lived in a tent! When God came to visit Moses and the Israelites, he went camping!

As the weather heads toward "camping weather", my excitement grows to go camping. I'm not really sure why I love camping so much. Camping is really a lot of work. Cooking over an open fire, dealing with unpredictable weather, and all sorts of critters, can be quite an adventure. A weekend camping trip in the rain can be miserable. But, I still love camping. I like to think more of the smells of clean air, the quite of the night, the sounds of the birds in the morning, and the slowness of the pace. Sleeping in a tent draws you closer to nature. You don't have the thick walls, the insulation and the isolation from what God has created. 

God might have thought the same thing. Maybe that's why he chose a tent when he visited the old testament believers. He wanted to be closer to his creation.  Just like he wants to be closer to us. He doesn't want anything to separate us from him. He doesn't want the walls and he hates the isolation. He even sent his son to destroy the sin that keeps us away from him. Now he has gone to prepare a place for us. He has prepared a mansion with many rooms. I'm sure some people would disagree, but when i get to heaven, I hope I get to sleep every night in a tent. I hope Heaven is a big KOA and I get to sit around a roaring campfire listening to Jesus. I long to dwell in God's tent forever. I long to slow down, to relax in his arms, and to worship him. What a glorious camping trip that will be! You better get your reservations in now!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Shaken Faith!

Psalm 60 (New International Version, ©2011)

 1 You have rejected us, God, and burst upon us;
   you have been angry—now restore us! 
2 You have shaken the land and torn it open;
   mend its fractures, for it is quaking. 
3 You have shown your people desperate times; 

My heart bleeds for the Japanese affected by the Earthquake, Tsunami, and the ongoing nuclear situation. Like many situations in my Christian faith, I ask God why? This is not the first time and it won't be the last time innocent people are killed by nature. All through human history we can find examples of such "natural massacres". So who do we blame? As a Christian who believes in the complete power and sovereignty of God, it is tough not to blame God. Some Christians find it easier to blame the people and their sin as bringing out these disasters. Some would say it's a test of Faith.  So who's right? What's right?

It's easier not to really care to much about the situation in Japan since I am so far removed from this situation. But, what about those I Love and have lost. My Dad certainly comes to mind. He suffered a debilitating stroke and then after a few years of suffering through the consequences, he was taken to his heavenly home. I know of countless people who have lost loved ones to cancer. Just recently the Angola community lost four young men in a tragic spring break car accident. My heart goes out to those families. I know the number one question they ask is WHY?

The answer to this question can't come in our lifetime. Really, any of the reasons could hold true and God could have other purposes beyond our comprehension. To have Faith in our God admits, without a doubt, that God could have prevented the Earthquake. He could have kept my Dad alive to continue his ministry. He could have kept those 4 Angola Students from harm. Yet, he didn't. I trust my God. He has saved me from certain death by sending his son. I don't know his ways. I don't understand his purposes. What I do know is he loves me and regardless of the pain I face on this Earth, he is with me. He has guaranteed me eternal life with him. He has guaranteed me a life without pain and suffering. Until that time, I will ask the question why. I know there is no comfort and no hope without God. I certainly hope the people of Japan and the families in Angola can put all there hope and trust in God. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Be careful little tongue what you say!

Psalm 59 (New International Version, ©2011)

12 For the sins of their mouths,
   for the words of their lips,
   let them be caught in their pride.
For the curses and lies they utter,
13 consume them in your wrath,
   consume them till they are no more.
Then it will be known to the ends of the earth
   that God rules over Jacob.

The tongue is a powerful tool or a powerful weapon. I guess it depends on the user. The Bible agrees:

Proverbs 18:21 (New International Version, ©2011)

 21 The tongue has the power of life and death,
   and those who love it will eat its fruit.

It may seem odd that we can sin just by what we say. The obvious is a lie, or as the ten commandments state, bearing false witness. The other is also obvious, using the name of the Lord in vain. But, these verses talk about other sins of the mouth. Don't forget about curses and words of pride in ourselves.

I have to admit I can curse when I really get mad and I like it when I am recognized for my accomplishments. When is that we cross the line between inappropriate language and stating our accomplishments, to sins of pride and cursing?

Our lies, our pride, and our cursing can be damaging to others and even damaging to God. When we cross over the line with our tongue to hurt others, we will suffer the wrath of God. Those sins will not be forgotten. We, myself included, need to guard our tongue. It can do more to damage our witness and damage the kingdom than nearly any other sin we commit. We cut other down, build ourselves up to the expense of others. We lie for many reasons. We curse!

Lord, Forgive our sins. Out sins are many. We ask your help in controlling what we say. We ask your strength and grace in our sinfulness. We love you and thank you for sacrificing your son for our sins. Praise God you loved us that much! Amen!

Monday, March 28, 2011

No Justice!

Psalm 58 (New International Version, ©2011)

 1 Do you rulers indeed speak justly?
   Do you judge people with equity? 
2 No, in your heart you devise injustice,
   and your hands mete out violence on the earth.

It is amazing how much violence and war we have in our world. It may sound simple, but can't people just get along? The world is full of rulers who lie, cheat, steal, and mistreat their people.

When it boils down to it. The nations of this world should just simplify their whole focus. If they could just focus on one thing, the world would be a much better place. Justice!

Justice is defined as: the concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion, fairness, or equity. 

The problem is, Justice  calls on our leaders to be ethical, rational, and to have a common belief in the law, natural law, religion, fairness, and equity.  Even in our own country, we can't agree on many of these areas. You would think Natural Law would be the easiest to agree on. Yet, that seems to be where we have the largest disagreements. We certainly don't share a common morality. (We used to!)  Our Faith has the largest impact on what we view as justice. I don't think it coincidence that the morality and faith of our nation has been in a decline. Justice has been in a decline. Justice declines and Violence increases. We need you Lord!

Dear Lord, We are in need of you. We are in need of your perfect justice. We have drifted so far from you. We can't get back without your love and grace. Forgive us for our sins, forgive us for our injustice. Amen!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Great Concert!

Psalm 57 (New International Version, ©2011)

 7 My heart, O God, is steadfast,
   my heart is steadfast;
   I will sing and make music.
8 Awake, my soul!
   Awake, harp and lyre!
   I will awaken the dawn.
 9 I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
   I will sing of you among the peoples.
10 For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
   your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

I had attended a great concert yesterday. Well, it wasn't a really concert. It was just me and my Iphone and a great selection of praise music. Last night on the way to Chattanooga, TN. It was late and Stephanie was sleeping. But, I certainly felt the presence of the Lord. When you are listening to  music on headsets, you have to be careful not to sing out loud. I didn't want to wake Stephanie, but I could hardly contain myself.

Thanks God for showing up in a strange place but at a great time. I didn't have a harp, lyre, and even though the dawn was no to far away, The timing  wasn't right. But,  your love was reaching right into my heart. Probably to the skies, the heavens and beyond. Amen!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

My Solemn Pledge!

Psalm 56 (New International Version, ©2011)

 12 I am under vows to you, my God;
   I will present my thank offerings to you. 
13 For you have delivered me from death
   and my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before God
   in the light of life.

I have never thought much about making a vow to God. But, if you look at the definition of a VOW--a solemn pledge (to oneself or to another or to a deity) to do something or to behave in a certain manner. Of course the most popular vows we take are our wedding vows. Priests take vows of celibacy. Some take vows of silence. But how many of us have taken a vow to God. When we turn our lives to God it makes it sound like God has all the responsibility and we have none. Yet, our solemn pledge to God to turn our lives to him and to do as he would have us do, that is a vow.  Just as in a marriage. The vow is two sided. Both the husband and the wife share the responsibility of fulfilling the vow. As a matter of fact, the vow can't be one sided. If it is the marriage is not going to last.

Our Marriage to God, or our Vow to him also can't be one sided. I can guarantee you that God will follow through with his part. The question is will we?  I think that is what James was talking about.

James 2:26

26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also afaith without works is dead.

Our Vow with God is the most important vow we will ever take. We must commit ourselves to completely fulfilling that vow by devoting our lives to God. We must devote ourselves to his purposes. We must make the vow to grow in our understanding of him.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Psalm 55 (New International Version, ©2011)

 4 My heart is in anguish within me;
   the terrors of death have fallen on me.
5 Fear and trembling have beset me;
   horror has overwhelmed me.
6 I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!
   I would fly away and be at rest. 
7 I would flee far away
   and stay in the desert;
8 I would hurry to my place of shelter,
   far from the tempest and storm.”

God is just about to give me the wings of a dove and Fly away to be at rest! Spring Break begins in 2 days and I just can't wait. We are heading south to a place of rest. God has blessed us with the means to do this on an annual basis. We just love spending the time with the grandkids and the family. (Although all of us don't get to go this year.)  Our Day consists of getting up and having breakfast then heading straight to the beach. We then spend the rest of the morning laying around and trying to decide when to eat lunch and what to have. We then play some more or lie around on the beach. Then we talk about what we are doing for supper. Then we lay around some more, eat supper, go to bed, and start it all over the next day. IT'S PURE LAZINESS and I can't wait. 

I just love to spend time recharging the batteries and doing it with my great family. Sometimes life is so stormy and the tempest is overwhelming. Our shelter should be God. But, in our fast paced society where we rush from one event to another, we often forget to take the time to find God and enjoy his peace. Sitting along the peaceful shore of the Gulf of Mexico, I have often found the peace of God far away from the hustle and bustle of Garrett and GHS. 

Dear Lord, Thank you for providing the opportunity to get away. I know that so many people don't get the chance to do this. I know it is only by your grace. Help us to relax, enjoy each other, and enjoy your presence while we are away. I praise you for your blessings. I praise you for the gifts you provide. I praise you for the gift of your son. Amen!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Psalm 54 (New International Version, ©2011)

 1 Save me, O God, by your name; 
   vindicate me by your might.
2 Hear my prayer, O God;
   listen to the words of my mouth.
 3 Arrogant foes are attacking me;
   ruthless people are trying to kill me—
   people without regard for God.[c]
 4 Surely God is my help;
   the Lord is the one who sustains me.
 5 Let evil recoil on those who slander me;
   in your faithfulness destroy them.
 6 I will sacrifice a freewill offering to you;
   I will praise your name, LORD, for it is good. 
7 You have delivered me from all my troubles,
   and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes.

A name means so much. At my church, we just finished a sermon series on the different names of God. I learned so much. I have never really thought of God as more than just God. I don't mean that in a mean way. I have thought about the characteristics and the personality of God, but not really as his name.  A question was brought up on Sunday. Why so many names for God? Well my name is Steven Lawrence Rhoades. I am insignificant and I have 3 names. Shouldn't the God of the Universe have more?

1904 Adolph Blaine Charles David Earl Frederick Gerald Hubert Irvin John Kenneth Lloyd Martin Nero Oliver Paul Quincy Randolph Sherman Thomas Uncas Victor William Xerxes Yancy Zeus Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenberdorft Sr., {Germany;} had a Christian name for every letter in the alphabet, shortened it to Mr Wolfe Plus 585 Sr. The world's longest name officially used by a person.

This record breaking name is amazing. But our God is so much more amazing and his name should mean everything to us. When someone utters the name of GOD, how do you react? I wish I could tell you that I react in pure reverence. I wish I could tell you that everyone is awed by the name of God. But, I don't. I really think people, even christians, take for granted the power of the name of God. We should feel utterly privileged to be aloud to even speak his name. Have we forgotten the words God spoke himself?Exodus 20:7  “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

How often to we break that commandment. As a part of our recent study at CLCG we received a bookmark that states some of the names of God:

Wonderful, Glorious, Holy, Righteous, Victorious, Conqueror, Triumphant, Mighty, Healer, Deliverer, Shield, Defense, Strong Tower, My Best Friend, Omnipotent, Soon Coming King, Alpha, Omega, Lord of Everything, My Rock, My Fortress, My Help, My Hope, My Salvation.  

God is all of these and yet they are still inadequate to describe him. God has given us life. He has granted us more blessings than we could ever imagine. Yet, we are so irreverent in the face of his name. We need to change and honor his name. We need to look upon our Lord with complete reverence, love, and humility.

Thank You Lord, for your name. Thank You for your power, I am inadequate to even mention your name. Thank You for coming to this Earth to take on the name above all Names. Jesus! We love you LORD!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Hope is now!

Psalm 53 (New International Version, ©2011)

 1 The fool says in his heart,
   “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, and their ways are vile;
   there is no one who does good.
 2 God looks down from heaven
   on all mankind
to see if there are any who understand,
   any who seek God.
3 Everyone has turned away, all have become corrupt;
   there is no one who does good,
   not even one.


 6 Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
   When God restores his people,
   let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!

When you start reading chapter 53, you quickly find sadness. This is such a classic view of God. We always talk about Heaven being in the clouds. We see God looking down on us just hoping to find one person who does good. It's like looking through a crowded building hoping to find someone. You really strain, just to get a glimpse. God is straining just to find someone who wants to be with him.  It's so sad that good people are so hard to find. It seems so hopeless. Even now, the world seems so hopeless. We look and look for goodness. We can't find it anywhere. We can't even find it in ourselves. Hopeless!

Finally, just before all hope is gone, God sends his Son to save us all. He becomes the righteous one God was looking for. He is the salvation out of Zion! What starts out as sadness in the world ends up being the Joy of Salvation. God will never give up on us. When hope is nowhere to be found God sends us hope. Jesus is that hope. We can't find anything more hopeful than Gods love for us. He could have given up on us 2000 years ago. He didn't. He sent us hope then and he provides hope now. Praise God!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Nation of GOD!

Psalm 52 (New International Version, ©2011)

 5 Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin:
   He will snatch you up and pluck you from your tent;
   he will uproot you from the land of the living.
6 The righteous will see and fear;
   they will laugh at you, saying,
7 “Here now is the man
   who did not make God his stronghold
but trusted in his great wealth
   and grew strong by destroying others!”

Isn't it a bit ironic that we have "In God We Trust" on our money. The United States of America is clearly the wealthiest nation in the world. Yes, we have our poor and certainly the wealth isn't distributed to everyone. But, we are wealthy. Our "middle class" isn't much in the middle when compared to the rest of the world. I'm not sure if being the #1 nation in terms of wealth is good or bad. I guess it depends on your own perspective. A more important Statistic is what kind of Christian nation are we.

In the early years, we were known as a Christian Nation. Now, I'm not so sure. We still have the most people who claim to be followers of Christ. We don't have the highest percentage (85%) but we still have a large number of Christians in our country. But, just like with our wealth, it's more important what we do with our Christianity than sheer numbers. Quality vs Quantity!

When you put these two statistics together, being the wealthiest nation and the most Christian nation, we have a lot of responsibility. We are looked at so closely. We have to make sure we are more focused on helping others than destroying them. We need to love others with our wealth and love others with our God. It is so easy for us to get more focused on the wealth and not the soul.

God help us focus our blessings on helping bring others to know you. Lord, we know you have blessed us abundantly and you expect us to use those blessings for your purposes, not our own. Help us Lord! Amen!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Be a good Teacher!

Psalm 51 (New International Version, ©2011)

 10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
   and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
   or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
   and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
   so that sinners will turn back to you. 

I have a Bachelors Degree in Mathematics. I am a licensed Secondary Math Teacher. I love teaching kids. But, teaching is not easy. Very rarely does the student get the concept the first time around. It takes a lot of drill and practice to get through and a student get confident in doing it on their own. Sometimes you get lucky and have someone who just gets it right away. But, the biggest barrier to getting kids to learn at school is DESIRE. In order to teach advanced concepts in Math, you first have to get the students willing to learn. They have to see the reason for learning. If they don't, your job becomes almost impossible. If you don't have examples of the value of what you're teaching, kids will sense it. If you can't connect the value of what you're teaching, their motivation to learn will not exist. Very rarely is the desire to learn a natural part of a student's life.

When we teach "transgressors" about God, it's just as difficult as teaching Algebra. Most people go about their lives thinking they have everything under control. If something goes bad, they just have to work harder or blame it on someone else. As Christians, we are the teachers. The best way to teach a non-christian is to give them a desire to be taught. I believe the best way to do that is by example. We need to demonstrate the value a relationship with Christ has on our lives. That includes how that relationship affects your life now and also in the future. Sharing your "Story" should be never ending. We should be able to recognize the daily impact our relationship with Jesus has on us and our families. That includes the blessings and the challenges we face everyday. Until we recognize how God affects our own lives, how can we convince others to build that relationship.

Search your heart. Ask God to give you that knowledge. Ask God to give you the words and the opportunity to "Teach". He will supply you with more that you can ever imagine. He will give you the Joy. He will give you the right Spirit! His presence will be made known and then it can be shared!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Thanks God!

Psalm 50 (New International Version, ©2011)

 14 “Sacrifice thank offerings to God,
   fulfill your vows to the Most High,
15 and call on me in the day of trouble;
   I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”
 16 But to the wicked person, God says:
   “What right have you to recite my laws
   or take my covenant on your lips?
17 You hate my instruction
   and cast my words behind you.
18 When you see a thief, you join with him;
   you throw in your lot with adulterers.
19 You use your mouth for evil
   and harness your tongue to deceit.
20 You sit and testify against your brother
   and slander your own mother’s son.
21 When you did these things and I kept silent,
   you thought I was exactly
[c] like you. 

God knows us. He knows every thought we have about each other and about ourselves. We are not smarter than God. We are no match for his wisdom. He is God and we are not! The Jews of the old testament thought they could win the heart of God by all sorts of sacrifices. You could make sacrifices for different sins and different wants. When it boils down to it, God doesn't need our sacrifices. Really all God wants from us is Thanks and Praise! He doesn't need it, he just wants it. But, most of us are too good for praising and thanking God.

When we ignore God, he just sits silently. When we try to take control of the world, he just sits by and watches. When we sin, it pains him, but he just let's us go. His silence doesn't mean he likes it or even accepts it. He have given us free will. He has promised not to interfere. He knows what's best. He knows what we need.He knows what is right and what is wrong. His silence is not an endorsement for what we are doing. He WANTS us to come to him. He wants us to need him. He just sits and waits. He wants us to need him. He mourns when we don't. He doesn't want our sacrifices. He wants us to ask for help. He wants us to ask for his wisdom. He will not become a better God if we worship and praise him. But, we will be infinitely better when we rely on him!

Thanks God for wanting us. Thank you Lord for giving us free will. We praise you for who you are and the blessings you have so willing given. Thank You for sharing your wisdom. We are not God! You are and we ask your forgiveness of our arrogance. Amen!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I have a lot of stuff!

Psalm 49 (New International Version, ©2011)

 12 People, despite their wealth, do not endure;
   they are like the beasts that perish.
 13 This is the fate of those who trust in themselves,
   and of their followers, who approve their sayings.[d]
14 They are like sheep and are destined to die;
   death will be their shepherd
   (but the upright will prevail over them in the morning).
Their forms will decay in the grave,
   far from their princely mansions.
15 But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead;
   he will surely take me to himself.
16 Do not be overawed when others grow rich,
   when the splendor of their houses increases;
17 for they will take nothing with them when they die,
   their splendor will not descend with them.
18 Though while they live they count themselves blessed—
   and people praise you when you prosper—
19 they will join those who have gone before them,
   who will never again see the light of life.
 20 People who have wealth but lack understanding
   are like the beasts that perish.

In Garrett, Indiana I am one of the Rich. When it comes to the average person in my town, I have more than most. I have a lot of stuff. It may be hard for you to believe as an Educator I can be considered Rich. There are many people in this world who make more money than I do and have more things. But, all "riches" are relative to what they are compared to.

As a member of the "Garrett Elite" please do not be overawed by my wealth. As with all of us, I can't take a bit of it with me when I leave this Earth. When we die, our options are the same. We are either going to live in eternity at the feet of Jesus or we die a horrible death, sentenced to life apart from God. It doesn't matter what I have on Earth or what I leave behind. We will all be perfectly equal as we worship the King of Kings. If you are going to envy anything I have, envy the eternal life I have been promised. I have nothing in my possession and I have done nothing that will endure except my commitment to Jesus Christ. God doesn't look at the stuff in my house. God looks at the stuff of my Heart!

I have truly been blessed on this Earth. I don't deserve it. I did nothing of myself to acquire this wealth. It is all a gift of God. I praise him for all he has given and I promise not to think to highly of myself lest I forget my savior. It is he who gave the greatest possession I have ever had. He granted me Eternal life as a sacrifice of his own.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Walking with God!

Psalm 48 (New International Version, ©2011)

 12 Walk about Zion, go around her,
   count her towers, 
13 consider well her ramparts,
   view her citadels,
that you may tell of them
   to the next generation.
 14 For this God is our God for ever and ever;
   he will be our guide even to the end.

Before I start, remember I ride a Harley. I love riding, sweeping turns, s-curves, and speed! But, I also enjoy a great leisure walk. I really don't take the time to go walking very often. But, when I do it is amazing what I can see. When you are traveling by four wheels or two, you just don't have time to appreciate all that is around you. My problem is, even when I go for a walk, I walk to fast to really enjoy it. I have developed such a fast walk, Stephanie says she feels like my little Amish woman. She is always walks about two or three paces behind me.

I need to slow down. When I do finally take a nice leisure walk, it is so therapeutic. I can take-in the trees, the grass, the animals, and the smell of the air. I can actually see things, not just the blur, as I speed by on my way to some scheduled event. God loves it when we slow down. He loves it when we can spend some slow/leisure time with him. WE need to spend quiet time enjoying his presence. We can't spend all our time just "Asking for stuff", we need to just chat quietly, thoughtfully, or not speak at all. God knows our heart. He knows we need quiet. He knows we need peace. He knows that he is the only real refuge in a crazy, hurry-up world!

Thank You Lord for providing us with peace. Thank you for quiet walks. Thank you for slowing us down so we can look at all you have created and blessed us with. You are great. You are awesome. We Love you! Amen!

Walking with God!

Psalm 48 (New International Version, ©2011)

 12 Walk about Zion, go around her,
   count her towers, 
13 consider well her ramparts,
   view her citadels,
that you may tell of them
   to the next generation.

 14 For this God is our God for ever and ever;
   he will be our guide even to the end.

Before I start, remember I ride a Harley. I love riding, sweeping turns, s-curves, and speed! But, I also enjoy a great leisure walk. I really don't take the time to go walking very often. But, when I do it is amazing what I can see. When you are traveling by four wheels or two, you just don't have time to appreciate all that is around you. My problem is, even when I go for a walk, I walk to fast to really enjoy it. I have developed such a fast walk, Stephanie says she feels like my little Amish woman. She is always walks about two or three paces behind me.

I need to slow down. When I do finally take a nice leisure walk, it is so therapeutic. I can take-in the trees, the grass, the animals, and the smell of the air. I can actually see things, not just the blur, as I speed by on my way to some scheduled event. God loves it when we slow down. He loves it when we can spend some slow/leisure time with him. WE need to spend quiet time enjoying his presence. We can't spend all our time just "Asking for stuff", we need to just chat quietly, thoughtfully, or not speak at all. God knows our heart. He knows we need quiet. He knows we need peace. He knows that he is the only real refuge in a crazy, hurry-up world!

Thank You Lord for providing us with peace. Thank you for quiet walks. Thank you for slowing us down so we can look at all you have created and blessed us with. You are great. You are awesome. We Love you! Amen!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Clap with Reverence, Please!

Psalm 47 (New International Version, ©2011)

    For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm. 1 Clap your hands, all you nations; 
   shout to God with cries of joy.
 2 For the LORD Most High is awesome,
   the great King over all the earth.
3 He subdued nations under us,
   peoples under our feet.
4 He chose our inheritance for us,
   the pride of Jacob, whom he loved.[b]
 5 God has ascended amid shouts of joy,
   the LORD amid the sounding of trumpets.
6 Sing praises to God, sing praises;
   sing praises to our King, sing praises.
7 For God is the King of all the earth;
   sing to him a psalm of praise.
 8 God reigns over the nations;
   God is seated on his holy throne.
9 The nobles of the nations assemble
   as the people of the God of Abraham,
for the kings[c] of the earth belong to God;
   he is greatly exalted.

I have attended literally hundreds of churches over my lifetime. My father was a Methodist Pastor, my Grandfather was a Church of God pastor. One thing that nearly all churches have in common is "No Clapping". Ok, once in a while, people get out of control and just clap. But, this rarely happens. I'm not sure where or how Churches got to be so "quiet". I know this is a radical thought, but "You can be reverent and clap at the same time!"  Now you can add that according to Psalm 47:1, it is even Biblical.
In my present Church we clap a lot. I would say that it happens nearly every Sunday. No, our pastor does not get applause after his sermons. No, we don't go nuts when we have communion. But, there are many times when the spirit moves somebody so much they just have to give a "Clap Offering". If we can take up a "Money Offering" every week, we can certainly offer or praises to God in the form of a CLAP OFFERING!  God brings such great joy in my life that sometimes I just can't hold it in. The most dignified and reverent way to share that joy is by clapping. I haven't yet crossed the line into a "Shout for joy Offering". I should. Because I have certainly felt like it.

Wether it is clapping, shouting, or dancing in the isles, don't hold back your praise and worship for God. When I start dwelling on everything he has done for me and the overwhelming Blessings he has granted, I really get excited and want everyone to know! It's ok! It's not a sin! as a matter of fact, it should be a sin not to praise God to the fullest! Can i get an AMEN?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

You need a "TIME OUT!"

Psalm 46 (New International Version, ©2011)

 1 God is our refuge and strength,
   an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
   and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
   and the mountains quake with their surging.[c]
 4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
   the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
   God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
   he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
 7 The LORD Almighty is with us;
   the God of Jacob is our fortress.
 8 Come and see what the LORD has done,
   the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease
   to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
   he burns the shields[d] with fire. 10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
   I will be exalted among the nations,
   I will be exalted in the earth.”

 11 The LORD Almighty is with us;
   the God of Jacob is our fortress.

So much is going on in our world. When you read these verses, you can relate to all the turmoil. We have and always will have war and unrest in the middle east. The devastation of Earth quakes and floods seem to always be with us too. We have seen government after government topple!

If you watch the news or read the newspapers you can't avoid all the trouble. It can drive you to panic and great fear, if you let it. Even the stress of day-to-day living can really drive you to an early grave. Psalm 46:10 is one of the most comforting verses in the entire Bible. Yet, I wonder how many of us ever take time to actually be still. I remember, as a kid, adults telling me to "Be Still". Do parents still use "time out" chairs?

God is telling us to take a "time out". Through all the trouble of this world and our own daily "world" we just need to Be Still and know that God is God. That is the only real thing that matters. He is the God of Eternity and we do not need to fear any stress, any turmoil, or any disaster. God Loves us.

Take time to Be Still and enjoy the presence of God!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Look... Up in sky...It's a Bird...It's a plane.. No....It's Superman!

Psalm 45 (New International Version, ©2011)

 1 My heart is stirred by a noble theme
   as I recite my verses for the king;
   my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.
 2 You are the most excellent of men
   and your lips have been anointed with grace,
   since God has blessed you forever.
 3 Gird your sword on your side, you mighty one;
   clothe yourself with splendor and majesty.
4 In your majesty ride forth victoriously
   in the cause of truth, humility and justice;
   let your right hand achieve awesome deeds. 

5 Let your sharp arrows pierce the hearts of the king’s enemies;
   let the nations fall beneath your feet.
6 Your throne, O God,[c] will last for ever and ever;
   a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. 

I'm sure some of you remember the 1950's version of Superman. I loved that show. These verses from Psalm 45 give me the same feeling I got at the beginning of that show. Here is the opening:

Actually, these verses are about Jesus. Jesus is our Super Hero. He is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! Why don't I treat him more like the Super Hero he is? Many of us have more reverence for this fictional super hero than the Creator of the universe or his Son that was sent to save us from ourselves and the evil around us. We also hold in reverence other "Famous people" of this world and completely ignore our Savior. How can you be more famous than the Son of God. Who can match the honor and Grace of our Lord and Savior!

Lord, you are awesome. I have seen so many times where you have rescued me from evil. I am an example of the grace that comes straight from your lips. I have been protected by you piercing arrows. You ARE Truth, Humility, and Justice in this world. Please forgive me for not honoring you like I should. You are worthy of all our praise. You are worthy of all our worship. We Praise You Lord! Amen!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Psalm 44 (New International Version, ©2011)  

 1 We have heard it with our ears, O God;
   our ancestors have told us
what you did in their days,
   in days long ago. 
2 With your hand you drove out the nations
   and planted our ancestors;
you crushed the peoples
   and made our ancestors flourish. 
3 It was not by their sword that they won the land,
   nor did their arm bring them victory;
it was your right hand, your arm,
   and the light of your face, for you loved them.

I wish I had time to spend researching my Ancestry. I guess it is pretty easy. I have heard of a great website called . My Dad used to tease that our ancestors were the "Rhoades Raiders from Russia". I am fascinated with family history. I am curious about how I have arrived at where I am today. How did my distant relatives migrate from Europe and how did they finally end up in Indiana? I can't imagine there aren't some great adventurous stories about my ancestors. It's really kind of sad that I don't know. The verbal history of families is not handed down like it used to be.

Just as important as our family migration is the history of our Faith. i am just as curious to find out how the family of my past came to know Christ. There should be a website called Ancestry.GOD. I can look back to my Dad and Mom, their parents, and their parents, and see how God was such a key part of their lives. I am sure they would tell you their survival can be attributed specifically to the "Sword of God". Their victories were not by their own hand, but by the hand of the God of the Universe. I am so thankful for my family and the tradition of Faith they handed down to me. I am also thankful, and praise God daily, for the faith that my daughters have. It is so great to already see them handing down that same faith to their own kids. The Family tree of Faith continues.

The power of God lives on through my daughters. Praise God for that blessing!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Wimpy Witness!

Psalm 43 (New International Version, ©2011)

 1 Vindicate me, my God,
   and plead my cause
   against an unfaithful nation.
Rescue me from those who are
   deceitful and wicked. 

I hope I do not offend anyone. Sometimes, I think I just need to vent!

Do we still live in a nation of Faith? Every single thing is being done to take God out of our national vocabulary. We are so worried about offending, we take no stands on anything. We want to be a nation of caring people, but we are trying to do it by rejecting real Love, Love that is only through Christ. We want to raise kids of character, yet reject the perfect example of Christ. We haven't learned how to love the sinner and hate the sin. We as Christians condemn and judge. We Love conditionally. We are self-centered when we should be selfless. We isolate ourselves from the world instead of trying to save it. Yep, I would say we are an unfaithful nation.

Have I given up? Have I decided to stop "pleading my cause"? I am weak. I have not done a good job stating the case for God. I sit back and wait for God's judgement, instead of jumping in and trying to help as many souls as possible. My witness is "wimpy!" My strength is non-existent. Lord help me overcome my weakness. Lord help me to take a stand. Help me with strength to plead my cause against an unfaithful nation. The time is short, the time is now!