Monday, June 18, 2018

CONSCIENCE

In the early 1980s, an Avianca Airlines jet crashed into a mountain in Spain.  Reports said the black box cockpit recorder revealed that a few minutes before impact the automatic warning system told the crew repeatedly to 'Pull up ... pull up ... pull up!'

The pilot, annoyed by the racket, thinking it was a malfunction, switched the system off -- minutes before the plane plowed into the side of a mountain.  The entire crew and passengers died.

You have a little black box inside of you.
You have an automatic warning system inside of you.

We can treat it one of two ways -- listen and respond to it -- or be annoyed with it, shut it off, ignore it and wait for a crash.

The amazing wisdom of secular society today counsels us to switch off our internal accountability system whenever we're plagued with guilt or bad feelings.  It tells us those feelings are almost always personally hurtful, if not flat out wrong.

But is that so?

Your little 'black box' is called your conscience.  Your conscience isn't really the voice of God.  Puritan Richard Sibbes said:  'The conscience is the soul reflecting on itself.'

But it has been taught and trained to get a particular reflection.  It didn't get it on its own.  It learned what to mirror.  It was programmed what to reflect back.

Because of that it's critical to get God's standard for holiness, purity and Godliness into our hearts.  Anything less reflects inaccurately, poorly, and dangerously.

In fact, your conscience can become so out of whack that it actually mirrors back that you ought to be lying, cheating or gossiping.  It can make you think that if you aren't getting drunk, having sex outside of marriage, or cheating someone that there's something wrong with you compared to everybody around you.

To get your conscience to mirror back properly, feed it regularly on the richness of truth -- from God's Word.  Establish His law deep inside your heart.

When you do, your conscience will work the way God meant it to work.  It will steer you, protect you, guard you and cause you to walk paths that are healthy, good and honorable.

And be blessed.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

MEPHIBOSHETH

We've been given an inheritance because we've been adopted by God into His own family.

Hear it this way.

Mephibosheth is a very interesting Old Testament character and here's why.  


Saul is the first king of Israel.  He had a son named Jonathan.  Jonathan was a close friend of David, who would become the second king of Israel.  Saul hated David, even though his own son was David's best friend.  He was jealous of David because he thought David was a threat to his throne.  So he tried to kill David to get him out of the way, but Jonathan helped David escape the hand of his own father.

Complicated, right?

After both Saul and Jonathan die in battle on the very same day, David is eventually elevated as king of Israel.  And he asks if there is anybody from the house of Saul - the one who tried to kill him - who David could take care of for the sake of his friend, Jonathan.  There was one -- Jonathan's own son, Mephibosheth.

Interestingly, the name Mephibosheth means 'shameful one.'  I'm not sure why anyone would name their child that, but when Mephibosheth was only five years old, he was dropped by his governess and as a result he was lame and couldn't walk.

At the time David was looking for someone from Saul's house to care for, Mephibosheth was living in a place called Lo-Debar.  It was a town on the outskirts - a desert - ugly - not a place you'd ever brag about being from.  He's living in a barren place - empty - a location for outcasts.

And what does David do?  He calls Mephibosheth to him.  And Mephibosheth comes - hobbling, humbled, head down, fearful - thinking maybe he's going to be killed since he's part of the family that was so mean to David.

But David tells Mephibosheth he's going to give him an inheritance - all of his grandfather Saul's inheritance.

And David adopts Mephibosheth into his own family and he lets Mephibosheth eat at the king's table.  And the tablecloth of grace and adoption covers Mephibosheth's broken and wounded feet and spirit.


Friends, we are Mephibosheths.  Spiritually, we're outcasts.  We're shameful in our sin, emotionally crippled, seeking significance, searching for status, looking for grace, desperate for mercy, hungry for life.

Then God comes along and reveals to us what real life is about.  He shows us meaning and purpose.  He gives us Jesus.  He lets us eat at His table.  He shows us love.  He cares for us and showers us with grace.  He doesn't evaluate us by our broken feet or our wounds and scars.  His tablecloth of grace covers us and He adopts us into his family.

You are loved by God.
You are forgiven by God.
You are protected by God.
You are chosen by God.
You are accepted by God.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

SIGNIFICANCE

Everybody's looking for significance.

The problem with being a significance-seeker is that your status eventually becomes your ultimate goal.   And people will do some shocking things to achieve that.

Some will obsess about their career path.  Am I climbing the corporate ladder fast enough?
Some will be consumed with their relational portfolio.  Am I popular enough?
They'll be consumed by their social media network.  How many followers do I have?  Who's 'liked' my Instagram pics lately?  Who's unfriended me this week?

I know none of you do that, but . . .

Parents can be plagued about whether their children are stacking up against other kids academically, musically, athletically.
Couples can worry about how their marriage compares to other marriages.
Is the car nice enough?  Was the vacation great enough?  Are my clothes good enough?

It never ends.

Who you are and what you are - your true significance - your real value - needs to be grounded in the Gospel.

What does God say about you?  What does He tell you in His Word?  Because the Gospel brings us away from all of that.  The Gospel teaches us to be Truth-seekers.

There's no greater position, friends, than being a follower of Christ.  Nothing else has eternal significance.  Just Jesus.  Everything else is small by comparison.  Everything else is temporary.

And be blessed.

Friday, June 1, 2018

DOUGHNUT

Well, since today is National Doughnut Day, it seems fitting to recognize Paielli's Bakery right here in Kenosha, named Best Doughnut Shop in Wisconsin by Travelocity.

Way to go, Paielli's!

Way to go to our very own, Dave & Ellen Paielli!

Time to eat one.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

BIGGER

Everybody needs a dream - but not just their own dream - we need a dream that comes from God.

How do you know it's from God and not from you?

You'll know it's God's dream if it's bigger than you.

What are you attempting that you figure you're bound to fail at unless God shows up?  It's too big for you to accomplish on your own, without His help.

Is your dream impossible enough?  Does it go beyond you enough to even qualify for God's help?  If it does, that might be God's dream for your life.

You might also know it's a dream from God if you can't let it go.  You'd be willing to give everything for it.  It keeps bugging you.  Because a God-given dream is bothersome.  It continues bobbing to the surface, clamoring for your attention.

A God dream draws you, like a giant magnet pulling you toward itself.  If that's how your dream behaves, it's probably from God.

Then, you'll know it's God's dream if it brings Him glory.  Not everything does.

If it's your dream to have a great job and make a lot of money, live in an amazing house, drive a cool car and retire early, with all respect, that isn't God's dream.

How do you know that, PK?

Because that dream only changes you.

But if you want to make a lot of money in order to give it away to serve God's Kingdom - if you want to retire early so you can start something new and fresh with God for His glory, that dream is certainly from God.

'God, by His mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare ask or imagine, infinitely beyond our highest desires, thoughts or hopes.'  (Ephesians 3:20)

Dream bigger.

And be blessed.

Monday, May 28, 2018

MEMORIAL

Today is Memorial Day.  It isn't just a day to pull out the grill and barbecue with friends.  It isn't just a day to have off work and take a long weekend vacation.

We shouldn't lose sight of what it's really about.  It's about remembering and honoring those who paid an ultimate sacrifice so that we could be free in this great country.

It's Memorial Day all day long, of course, but Congress has also established an exact MINUTE of remembrance.  It's called the National Moment of Remembrance Act, adopted in 2000.  The Act encourages you to pause today at your local time exactly at 3 p.m. to remember the price paid for your liberty.

Major League baseball games going on today will pause at that time.  AMTRAK engineers will blow their horns.

What will you do?

And be blessed.



Sunday, May 6, 2018

CLIMB

Rock climbers will tell you that you can get in certain spots when you're climbing where you feel fairly safe and secure.  Your hands are gripped on stable rocks - your feet feel planted where they are.

But there are a couple of problems with staying in that secure place - because you're burning some energy in that position.  It actually takes great strength to hold on to the spot you're in at the moment.

The other issue is that there's no progress if you stay there.  If you want to move to the next spot higher up you have to release your grip on the very secure place you are in right now.

There are a lot of people who have given up on progressing to where they know God wants them to go - they've simply settled for not falling.

That's their life at the moment - burning all kinds of energy hanging on so tightly to their security that their entire life is pretty much about not losing their grip and falling.

There has to be a moment when you let go of the security and safety and reach out for what God has for you next by faith.

Maybe you've put your confidence in your job title - in another person - in your income.  That's where you've come to trust.

Whatever it is besides Jesus that makes you feel safe, you'll be more secure when you let go of it and take the hand of a loving God who watches over you and who cares about you.

And be blessed.

Friday, May 4, 2018

GARDENER

Your Heavenly Father is the Master Gardener in your life.

That's an interesting way to say that, don't you think?  My Father is the Gardener?

That's basically what Jesus was saying:  'I am the true vine and My Father is the Vinedresser.  Every branch in Me that doesn't bear fruit He takes away and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.'  (John 15:1, 2)

"So God, be the Master Gardener in my life."

That kind of prayer is important because the most vital thing in your heart and mind is what you believe about God - because for a lot of folks there are great and wrong assumptions about who He is and what He's all about.

All the wars and sicknesses and disasters - all the things we fear - there can't be a good God.  In fact, God must be destructive.  In fact, God must be out to hurt people.

No.  He's the Gardener.  He tends to you.  He watches over you.  That's why we can trust Him.  That's why we don't need to be afraid.

Joelene has a very green thumb.  We've had some amazing gardens over the years.  She'd have all these seed catalogs showing vegetables you'd never heard of -- foods you only had nightmares about eating.  There were times she'd work so hard on that soil out there - because she knew the soil was the key to a good harvest.  There were seasons she wanted me to create a compost corner in the garden so she could make everything we didn't want to eat.

The good gardener will do whatever it takes to make the garden bear fruit.  God, the Master Gardener, wants more than anything for you to thrive.  He wants more than anything for you to live with hope - to be at peace - to move beyond your past.

Is He good?  Yes.
Is He kind?  Yes.
Is He loving?  Yes.
Does He care?  Yes.
Are you one of His kids?  Yes.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

BLANKET

You are not alone.

Because God doesn't sleep.  Ever.  He's watching.  You're the watch-ee.  You need to be watched over, you ornery thing you.  God knows that.  He cares.  You're the care-ee.

But be honest.  There have been times you felt God just wasn't showing up.  At times you felt He didn't care.  At times you wondered if He even knew you existed.  At times you became convinced He was absolutely clueless about your situation.  At times you were sure He'd abandoned you and your family.

In those moments there is an urge to run to your safe spot because everything is spinning out of control.

Where is your safe spot?  When you were a kid where was it?
Your bedroom?
Your 'Linus' blanket?
The backyard treehouse?
Everybody has something; everyone has somewhere.

Over time we exchange old hiding places for new ones.  I mean, hiding under a blanket doesn't work anymore, so we create fresh hiding places.

Now it's a glass of liquor.
Now it's a bottle of pills.
Now it's a relationship you know is death for you.
Now it's workaholism.  You're proving your worth to yourself and everyone else.
Now it's the depression you sink into.
Everybody has something; everyone has somewhere.

And let's face it.  Those things do give some temporary relief, but the biggest problem with those hiding places is that they will never deliver the long term peace you so desperately seek.

God wants to walk through your wall of fear today.  He starts by saying, 'Peace be with you.'

Take hold of that.  Peace isn't a thing; peace is a person.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

PLANS

When we become afraid or worried we shift into SELF-control mode.  We start trying to fix things we weren't made to fix.  We assume a position in the universe we don't own.

I want to trust in me.  You want to trust in you - your finances - my abilities - your pedigree - my achievements - but none of those work.

Fear comes in when things down turn out the way we've been trying so hard to make happen.

You thought you'd be married by now - that was your plan - but you aren't, so there's anxiety.
You thought your career would be here, but it's over there.
You thought you'd have kids by this time, but you don't.
You thought the cancer would be gone by now, but it isn't.
It isn't turning out the way you thought.

Who's in charge?

God says:  'I know the plans I have for you, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.'  (Jer. 29:11)

It doesn't say, I know the plans YOU have for you.  He says, 'I know the plans I have for you.'

His plans.  Rest in that.

And be blessed.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

CLAIM

Sometimes people ask:  'Why do Christians think their way is the best way to believe?  How come Jesus is the answer?  What about every other faith leader?  Aren't their religions just as good?'

Those are valid questions.

It is this
single event, the resurrection of Jesus from the grave, that defines our hope as Christ-followers. It's the thing that sets our faith apart from every other religious point of view -- because our Teacher isn't dead.  Our Leader isn't in the grave.  Jesus is alive and on this our future rests.

If we don't have this truth, then we are just another religion with leaders who head a movement and teach some good things and attract some followers.  But when those other leaders die, they stay dead.

But to get up out of your coffin and smile at the folks gathered for your funeral, that's the ultimate.  To walk out of a tomb, living and breathing, holding out your hands so they can check the nail scars to see if it's really you, that's the ultimate.

Jesus alone can make this claim because He alone conquered death and it's the greatest news we'll ever have to tell.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

HANDS

Sometimes people ask me:  'Why do you have us raise our hands at church gatherings?  I'll raise them if I want to.'

Do you know why I do that?  Because the Bible says to do it and because God deserves it.

I realize that activity is a giant leap from where some of our new and current church folks came -- I'm just letting you know God's Book confirms that activity.  It tells us:  'Lift your hands and bless the Lord.'  (Psalm 134)

Honestly, if it said: 'Lift one leg and touch your nose and praise the Lord,' we'd probably do that.  I'm glad it doesn't say that, but . . .

Lifting your hands is a sign of surrender.  'You're in charge, God, not me.'  

Psalm 47 also says to 'clap your hands, all people.'  Not with some little golf tournament clap.  We're talkin', 'Put those bad boys together and give God the kind of praise He fully deserves.'

It also tells us to 'shout to God with a voice of praise and victory.'  Woah there!  Not the introverts.  Yeah, the introverts too.  Because He's worthy of it all.  He's the King of creation and He's looking for our strongest praise.

Lift your hands to God ... clap for Him ... shout to Him.  You think heaven's gonna be soft?  Gimme a break.

Worship Him with your heart and soul and mind and strength.  All of it.

And be blessed.