Jesus Therapy… a day at His Spa

ImageI recently took trips with my family to Juniper Springs in the Ocala National Forest and Ichetucknee Springs near High Springs, Florida.They were great trips filled with many great memories. In fact, going into the Ichetucknee trip I had fond memories of tubing the river as a teenager with my youth group in Georgia, where I grew up. I remember traveling down to Florida and spending a fun filled day with friends from my church. We did encounter a Florida afternoon rain shower on one of those trips which produces the memory of one of the coldest, and yet  one of the hottest days of my life. At one point on the river while it was raining, I was on my hands and knees on my inner tube trying to stay out of the 72 degree water. Back in the 80’s we tubed down the river on a tractor tire inner tube. After we got off the river we were sitting on our hot church bus, and I began to think, “I have never gone from being so cold, to so hot, so fast.”

I was delighted that my family did not encounter rain on our trip. The river has a way of producing enough goose bumps on one’s body without any help from rain. The crystal clear river has a therapeutic element to it. All the Florida springs I have experiences seem to have that effect. I realize why Achsah, Caleb’s daughter, in Joshua 15 asked her dad for the springs. She found something in them that she wanted to make sure she was close to them. It’s interesting that Achsah asked her dad for a blessing, and then for the springs. They were high on her priority list.

What makes them so therapeutic and inviting? I realize as people travel to Florida they think of Disney and the beaches but there is nothing like swimming in God’s swimming pools. In fact I believe these springs are a beautiful word picture to many attributes and characteristics of God Himself.

First of all, I think of springs as being refreshing. Some people like to slowly wade into the springs, which to me can be agonizing. Just plunging in is the way to go. It can be extremely refreshing, just like God. I can remember Steven Curtis Chapman singing the song Dive.

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Taking the Plunge at Juniper

Caught in the rush lost in the flow in over my head I want to go

The river’s deep the river’s wide the river’s water is alive

So sink or swim I’m diving in

 

God is refreshing and He wants to daily refresh our life with His Word, His love, His guidance, and yes, even His commands. When Jesus encountered the woman caught in adultery in John 8, He made two statements to her. Both statements were full of grace and love, and both statements were refreshing. He told her, “Neither do I condemn you” and then He said, “Go and sin no more.” I find God’s love just as strong in command as I do the forgiveness. Remember, God’s refreshing is in every word He gives us.

The springs are pure, just like God. There are communities down here in Florida that have made a great deal of money bottling pure water from God’s springs. There are greater springs that Jesus offer each and every one of us. When Jesus encounter the woman at the well in John 4, He told her of waters that the well they sat at could not produce. He spoke to her about “Living Water” that He freely gives to those who with come to Him by faith. He told her that the water that He gives would make it where she would never thirst again. Not only that, but His water would well up inside of her producing eternal life! Jesus wants to flow His purity into our lives and through our lives. The impurity of this world, and in some cases the church, are all around us. We are all seeing the impact, and consequences of sin in our culture. However, Jesus is saying to us, drink of My pure, living water and never thirst again.

Last of all, the springs are therapeutic. They have a way of making one feel younger. I over heard one young lady exiting a blue hole say, “This is like a day at the spa!” If we allow Jesus resurrect our dead spirit, like He did the woman caught in adultery and the woman at the well, He will faithfully start bringing therapy to our soul. Our soul is made up of our mind (our thinker), will (our chooser), and emotions (our feeler). Those three areas of my life needs Jesus therapy every day! As I come and drink, dive in, and swim of Christ’s abundant springs of water I find days of refreshing, I feel His purity and it’s effects of my weary soul and body. I experience Jesus Therapy and it’s like a day at the spa.

An Open Letter to President Obama About Parenting A Nation

sasha:maliaobamaDear Mr. President,

What would happen in your family if Sasha ended up buying some music on iTunes that she should not buy? What would happen if she ended up purchasing some music with the explicit red warning sign by it? Michelle and yourself had trusted her with her iTunes card, you feel like you warned her about what she could and could not listen to, and she knew what was expected of her. Basically, what happened is that you trusted her, and she betrayed your trust?

I am sure you would discipline her in some form or fashion. Would you ban her from iTunes? Would you take her account away? Would you take the iTunes card back? It would be interesting to know.

What would be more interesting to know is what would you do to Malia. What punishment would she receive for the actions of Sasha? Does Malia keep her iTunes account? What about her iTunes card you gave her? Most importantly, does she keep her iPod or her iPhone?

You see Mr. President, on December 14th,2012, Adam Lanza, who was one of your national children, did something stupid. He disobeyed the rules. He deserved punishment, discipline, and correction. However, he did not stay around for any of it. He took the easy way out. He was a coward. Yes, he was confused, warped, and could have been a poster child for a decaying section of a generation in America. However, Adam Lenza does not represent all your American children.

While you were growing up, did any of your siblings do something stupid that you got blamed for or punished for? Have you ever suffered the consequence of someone else’s wrongdoing? How did it make your feel? President Obama, I believe the rest of your children in America feel we are getting punished for our sibling’s stupidity. We feel you want to take away what you rightfully trusted us with at one time and what we have been trustworthy with. We feel you are taking gifts our grandparents gave us because one person did something horribly wrong . He was a person who represented less than one percent of the rest of us.

lostsheepI remember Jesus telling a parable about one lost sheep in Luke 15. The shepherd left the ninety-nine sheep to go after the one lost sheep, which was a moving gesture of love and character. He did not condemn the ninety-nine, barricade them into submission, or scold them with threats about if they ran of too. He simply trusted them as He went to look for the one lost sheep.

Mr. President, I believe you have gone after the wrong sheep. We all feel we are being punished for the offense of one. The majority of us are in the fold and doing what right. We feel we are being punished for the one that ran off. Please don’t make the mistake of punishing Malia for Sasha’s wrong doing.

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?” Luke 15:4-5

The Tale of Two Birds… Big Bird and America the Eagle

This 2012 presidential election may end up being the tale of two birds. After Mitt Romney suggests that Big Bird needs to carry his own weight, hundreds of thousands have blown up twitter with unending whining and complaining about Governor Romney trying to kill Big Bird. I think it’s fascinating how we can major on the minors and minor on the majors in this country. Even though we give $430 million to PBS, it is a very small amount when one looks at our 16 trillion dollar deficit, which is almost equally attributed to, by both the democrats and the republicans through the years. And then you have President Obama’s smart aleck remark; “Thank goodness someone is finally getting tough on Big Bird.”

The sad part of all of this is that there is a bigger bird involved in this story. A bird that our forefathers loved, cherished, preserved, and would never have let come this close to dying while bickering about a Sesame Street character. The bird I speak of is America the Eagle.

This administration, along with others in the past has crippled and caged this great bird with taxation without good representation. “We the people” has become we the corporate lobbyist while little has been done about cutting wasteful spending, capping deficit spending, balancing our budgets, and depleting our national deficit. It is time the American people wise up and get tough on President Obama, his administration, the Senate, and Congress, demanding them release this bird and let her sore once again.

Our forefathers did important things to keep this Eagle healthy; they focused on the majors and kept government limited and small. Many often would quote from the Bible, which was cornerstone to their worldview. Today, I believe they would be focusing on our national debt and quoting Proverbs 22:7 which says, “The borrower becomes the lender’s slave” because they would be up in arms if they knew we have allowed this great bird to become a slave to China.

Americans, be careful focusing on Big Bird and not the Big Question. What I find most interesting and the one thing I can honestly say I like about Governor Romney is his litmus test. Whether he gets elected and whether he really applies this test is yet to be determined.

I would throw out President Obama and Governor Romney for a president, a Senate, and a Congress that would honestly apply this test. We should all be asking, “Is this program so critical it’s worth borrowing money from China to pay for it?” because how we answer this question will determine if either Big Bird or America the Eagle will survive.

Let Freedom Ring… and Work.

The eagles are really active at the lake right now. I enjoy watching them and I am blessed to live and hang out where they do. This past weekend I watched an eagle chasing an osprey. The osprey had a fish he had worked hard for and caught. The eagle, instead of using his energy to catch his own fish, decided to use his energy to take the fish from the osprey. They were flying like crazy in all different directions. Finally, the osprey dropped the fish back into the lake and the eagle dove down and got it. Obviously, the eagle was showing his power and superiority but not his best character. I recalled this sight while listening to Dave Stotts explain why Benjamin Franklin did not want the eagle to be our national bird.

Benjamin Franklin wrote to his daughter, Sarah Bache, in 1784,

For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the representative of our country. He is a Bird of bad moral character. He does not get his living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead tree near the river, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the labor of the fishing hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a fish, and is bearing it to his nest for the support of his mate and young ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.”

Franklin’s logic was brilliant. The Bald Eagle to him was a royal symbol that took advantage of the less powerful. Franklin did not want to see our government represented this way, as a government that over powers, over taxes, and takes from the people. He envisioned a government that had high moral character in truth, fairness, and equality. Franklin knew his country had just fought a revolution over taxes and freedom. He did not want to see the new power become a power to tax and therefore destroy. However, what Franklin feared has now become reality.

Ben Franklin was right and our government has developed a royal attitude. The proof is in how our government cannot stop taxing and spending on things our forefathers never envisioned us collecting for or wasting money on.

As Americans, we need to pray that our country does not personify the bad characteristics of the eagle. We should pray that our country would have a strong work ethic, run efficiently, and we should work to these ends. At the same time, may we, as individual citizens, not become lazy like the eagle on the days when he steals from the working osprey but instead that we would be like the working osprey so we may enjoy the fruit of our labor. As Psalm 128:2 says, “You shall eat of the fruit of your hands, you will be happy and it will be well with you.” Hopefully, the government will not take it away from you.

Common Sense Appreciation Day

Chick fil-A Appreciation Day August 1st, 2012

August 1st, 2012 is Chick-fil-a Appreciation Day. It’s has come about because of Dan Cathy’s stance for what the Bible says about marriage. It’s clear that the Bible says that marriage is meant to be between a man, and a woman for life (Matthew 19:5). One cannot find a homosexual marriage in the Bible. In fact, the Bible teaches that the homosexual lifestyle is a sinful lifestyle and it condemned in the Old and New Testament (Leviticus 18:22, 20:13, Romans 1:26-27). So in a sense, Chick-fil-a Appreciation Day is really Bible Appreciation Day. Imagine that, one can support the Bible by eating good chicken… not to mention the Waffle Fries.

However, I like to call the day, Common Sense Appreciation Day because of the obvious reality that a man was made for a woman, and a woman was made for a man. The reality that we only procreate when a man and woman are involved proves this fact. I do not want to over state the obvious so I will leave you with an illustration from the electrical world.

Common sense tells us how these plugs work.

If you are around an electrician enough you will hear them talk about male and female parts. Notice the picture to the right. Now it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out how these parts work. You’re not going to get much from two female plugs working together or two males. The funny thing is that the common sense of a young child can figure this out.

It is sad that, for the most part, we live in a culture that has lost their God sense, their ethical sense, and their common sense. We have rebelled against God, our conscience, and our mind. I pray that that all rebels will start rebelling by reading the Bible more. Now there’s a real rebellion! Hardly anyone is reading the Bible anymore. It may be the last rebellion. It would be a rebellion that would restore our God sense, ethical sense and common sense. May the rebellion begin… Read more Bible! Eat more Chicken!

P.S. I’ll save the Constitutional Sense thoughts for Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul. https://www.facebook.com/events/266281243473841

The Lord is My Master

What are sheep like? I have never been around them long enough to know. What I do know about sheep, I had to study about them. I have no personal experience with them. This past week while sitting in class at Reformed Theological Seminary our professor referred to The 23rd Psalm.  It also has been titled the Shepherd’s Psalm.

Shepherds take care of sheep, which is common in Israel. It is as common as Americans owning and taking care of dogs. I started to think—which is a dangerous thing for me—what if the 23rd Psalm was about dogs rather than sheep. I started to think about my son’s Border Collie, and the Labrador Retriever I used to own. What if The Shepherd’s Psalm was The Master’s Psalm. This is what I came up with. I hope you enjoy.

The Lord is my Master.

He gives me everything I need.

He makes me lie down in my comfy bed 
right beside my bowl of cool water.

He directs my mind and my will.

He leads me in obedience training so He can brag on me for His glory and namesake.

Even though we go on walks with all kinds of danger around me, I will fear nothing 
for my Master is with me.

His collar is around me and He has hold of my leash.
 They comfort me and make me feel safe.

He prepares a dish full of food in the presence of every pesky flea and irritating cat I know.

He anoints my head with shampoo and Frontline. My bowls overflow.

Surely My Master’s love for me and His friendship are with me all the days of my life.

And I shall rest in the house of my Master, next to the AC vent, forevermore.

The Forgotten Half of the Good News

I can remember back in the day, back in the days when everyone had land lines for telephones. This was the time, about ten to twenty years ago, of telemarketers who would call you right around dinner time to try to sell you something or offer you a service. One night, our telephone rang and it was a telemarketer wanting to consolidate all my debt. The lady began asking me a series of questions which assumed I had all this debt. After discovering that we only had one credit card that we paid off every month, thanks to the wisdom of Larry Burkett, she was done with me. However, I was not done talking to her. I began to ask her a series of questions. One question I asked her was, “On the average, what kind of credit card debt do you see out there?” Her estimated average, at the time, was between twenty to thirty thousand dollars of credit card debt. I was amazed at her answer. She told me stories of people in the hundreds of thousands of dollars on multiple cards. It was unbelievable.

What if I called you up, on your cell phone today and told you I could pay off all your debt? Some of you, that would mean paying off your home mortgage. Others it may be paying off a home and a few cars. Still others, it may mean paying off endless credit cards, cars, bills, and a home. If I called you up and paid it all off that would be a mind blowing experience and you would think I was the best guy in the world. However, what if I did not stop there but said, “I want to give you, to credit your banking account, with an abundance of income.” Is the deal starting to sound a lot sweeter?

I have heard my whole life that Jesus has paid my sin debt. We used to sing a song that said, “He paid a debt He did not owe. I owed a debt, I could not pay. I needed Someone to take my sin away.” The Bible says. “having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Colossians 2:14). Even though this is great news, it is only half of the great news.

If Jesus calls you up and says, “I want to pay for all your sin debt” and you say, “Sure, that sounds awesome. I don’t want to be in debt to God (Romans 6:23) so I accept Your offer Jesus.” I would say you have just made the best decision of your life but I want to ask you a series of questions. Where does that leave your spiritual account? It leaves it at zero if we stop there. Do you really think Jesus leaves people at zero? It does sound great but do you realize it gets better?

Not only does Jesus payoff the debt in our spiritual account, He credits it. What does He credit it with, one may ask. He credits it with His righteousness. Not only does He pay your sin debt, He adds His righteousness, His abundance to your account. This means, while Jesus was on the cross, God the Father, treated Jesus as if He lived your life. One day when you stand before God, if you have become a Christ follower, God will treat you as if you have lived Jesus’ life. God will not see your sin, which is great news, but God will see His Son’s righteousness which is greater news. He will see Christ when He looks at you. What a powerful thought! Thank God that He does not leave us at zero but gives us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). What great news!