Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Concentric Circles

In Geometry, concentric circles are defined as circles that have the same center point. You can create concentric circles by tossing a rock into a pond. After the rock hits the water, ripples or waves form and flow out from the center. These circles grow larger as they continue flowing away from the center. This is precisely what happens during a tsunami. The waves from a tsunami can travel up to 500 miles per hour and thousands of miles from the center. These waves travel out in all directions with incredible energy. I guess we will never forget the tsunami of 2004 that killed thousands of people. The power created by these concentric circles is unbelievable!

When we put Jesus in charge and at the center of our lives, many things change for the better. We become happier, live more peacefully, and gain tons of hope. Like ripples on a pond, these changes flow out from us in all directions and have the power to change others. Have you ever known someone who had such an electric personality that you were drawn to them? You can also have that kind of personality that draws people to you. And when people are drawn to you, they will see Christ as the reason. Just toss the Solid Rock that is our Savior into the center of your life. The ripples that result can be very powerful!

Proverbs 3:6 says, "In all thy ways, acknowledge Him and he shall direct thy path."

Father, I am proud to have You at the center of my life. I ask you to help me win souls for Your Kingdom, according to Your perfect will. In Jesus name, Amen.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Follow These Simple Rules

I had an awesome time in Salt Springs, Florida this past weekend!  It was amazing to see all my family, and especially amazing to see how much kids and grand kids have grown.  I didn't even recognize some of them.  Each family had their own personal cottage for the weekend, and I stayed in #17.  It was about as nice as being at home.  One thing that kind of amused me, though, was a form that was left on the coffee table for tenants.  It read, "Welcome to our cottage.  Please follow these simple rules."  It did seem simple, at first. There were only 8 rules...until I noticed there were some on the other side of the form, too.  The flip-side contained 14 more,  for a total of 22 "simple" rules.

In the Old Testament of the Bible, God gave Moses certain "rules" to follow.  Known as the Mosaic Law, those rules were intended for the people of Israel.  Such rules in the Old Testament covered a variety of topics including the Sabbath (seventh day), animal sacrifices, the Levitical priesthood, circumcision, special holy days, burning incense, tithing, instrumental music, and dancing in worship.  I have to admit that I have a very hard time just trying to remember all those rules, and I can only imagine how hard it must have been to obey all of them.  But the good news, at least for us today, is that these rules are no longer binding.  God gave the rules, and only He can change them, which He did when He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins.  Hebrews Chapter 8 says,

"Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah - not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant . . ." says the LORD. “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days," says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people . . . In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away."

Father, thank-you for the New Covenant that is Jesus Christ.  I personally accept it and will always have my faith in Him.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Trust Me

Back in the old days, a hand shake was all that was needed to solidify a contract. In contrast, it takes several pages of legal jargon and scores of sign heres and initial theres for a contract today. Back in the day, people never even considered locking their doors at night. But today, it is wise to keep them locked even in the middle of the day. What has happened to trust? It seems so hard to build trust anymore because of the number of times we get let down. Not only is it hard to trust others anymore, but it is also hard for others to trust us. A promise just isn't what it used to be. How many times have we let others down in the past? I know we are only human, born to make mistakes, but you know as well as I do that once trust is broken, it can be so very hard to regain.
How many times would it take somebody breaking your trust before you simply threw your hands in the air and gave up? How many times of them breaking your heart before you finally decided you were just a fool to trust and believe them in the first place? I know I have had my share of let-downs. Not only have others betrayed my trust, but I have broken theirs as well. But aren't we lucky that we serve a God who trusts us no matter how many times we sin against Him? If other people did to us only occasionally what we do to Christ daily, we would never trust them again. But our Jesus forgives us no matter what we do or how often we do it, and He even forgives us before we ask Him. What an incredible demonstration of the power of God's Grace! I know there is a big difference between forgiving somebody and trusting somebody after they have betrayed us. Maybe the forgiving part is easier than the trusting part, but with Christ's help, perhaps we can learn to do both. And that's a promise we can "shake" on.
Psalm 103:8 says, "The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy."
Father, thank you for forgiving and trusting us when we mess up. Please help us to do the same when others betray us. In Jesus name, Amen

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Teaching Moment

Yesterday in my classroom, a very good opportunity came up to teach my students about something beyond the regular curriculum.  Although a sad topic, most students were very involved in the discussion.  We got to talking about some of their classmates who had been called to heaven by the Lord.  Most of those who had already passed were involved in motor-vehicle collisions.  But two of our Dothan High students stood out in my mind as dying from something other than a car crash:  One was struck and killed by lightning, and the other was playing a stupid game of Russian Roulette.  A few of my students were not familiar with this deadly "game".  After explaining it to the class, most could not believe a person with any sense would play such a game.  So I questioned them about it.  I asked if any of them thought they might ever try it.  One student told me, "I know peer pressure can cause students to do some dumb things, but I don't think any pressure would cause me to do something that dumb".  100% of the class agreed that the game was too risky and that their lives were much more important to them, their friends, and their families to try something so stupid.  So then I asked how many of them text and drive at the same time.  Silence....

I was not judging my students, because Lord knows I have texted while driving before, too.  But when I think about it afterwards, I realize that it was just as dangerous to do that as it would be to play Russian Roulette.  But texting while driving is much worse because there are a lot of innocent people on the road that can be affected by it.  I will never forget when I lived in New Jersey and learned about a 17-year old that had been drinking and driving.  He veered just a little too far over the center line and hit an on-coming car head-on.  It killed three people in that car...his mom, dad, and little brother.  They just happened to be driving on that road at that very moment.  To this day, he continues to struggle with his bad decision that wiped-out his family.  We all do dumb things, but God gave us a brain and expects us to use it.  Please don't drive while intoxicated nor when intexticated.  I'm challenging you as well as myself to never, ever do that again.

Father, please forgive us for continuing to do certain things that we know we should never do.  Help us to place our bibles on top of our cell phones while we are driving.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Family Matters

This coming weekend, I will be on my way to Salt Springs, Florida for a family reunion.  I am looking very forward to it!  Although I am ashamed to admit it, this will be the first one that I have attended in 3 years.  I haven't been absent from the past 3 reunions because of anything me family did to me.  I have been absent from the past 3 reunions simply because of my own self-centered, bull-headiness.  Each year that I would announce I wasn't going to attend, my family, though not too surprised, was still very understanding and encouraging.  You see, I have the best family in the world, and I know they always love me.  As I write this devotion, I am almost in tears, both happy ones and sad ones.  I am sad that I have wasted 3 years with them that I will never, ever get back.  But I also have happy tears too, because, well, I feel like I am coming home.  I feel like the Prodigal son, and just like the Father in the Bible story, my family will be waiting for me with open, forgiving arms.  Trust me, I am going to absolutely enjoy every single second of this trip!

If you are having any trouble with your family, whether it is a result of your own doing or theirs, I encourage you to make every attempt to patch it up as quickly as you possibly can.  You know, when it comes right down to it, family is all we truly have.  Think about those people in the world that have no family.  They probably feel extremely isolated, like tiny islands surrounded by a big ocean.  Can you only imagine their loneliness?  But God chose to bless most of us with family.  Why would we try to separate ourselves from the very thing God gave us?  I can not tell you what a relief I feel for reuniting with my family.  Is it now possibly your turn to do the same?

Father, thank-you for our families, and I ask you to please help those who may not be seeing things eye-to-eye.  In Jesus name, Amen.  

More Than Just Facts

Do you know where Jesus was born?  Do you know who His earthly parents were?  Do you know where He was baptized?  Do you know how old He was when He started His ministry?  Do you know where He was the night He was arrested?  Do you know who sentenced Him to death?  Do you know where He was crucified?  Do you know what day He was resurrected?  Now, the most important question of all?  Do you know Him personally?
As we begin a new week, let's focus less on all the facts about Jesus and more on getting to know Him on a personal basis.  The Bible teaches us that He longs to have a deep relationship with us.  Just think about the scope of that for a minute:  The Lord that created this whole world and everything in it still wants to be a personal basis with us.  How awesome is that?  
John 15:15 says, "I no longer call you servants....instead I call you friends."
Father, please help us get closer to You today.  Teach us how to have a personal relationship with the God of the universe.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bam! Pow! Bang!

Like many, I sure do enjoy watching a good college football game on TV.  This past weekend, I saw some of the most fierce, bone-crunching hits on the field that I think I have ever seen before.  You know the ones I am talking about.  The receiver goes out for a pass, gets to the end of his route, and then turns around to find the ball almost already in his arms.  He has great sight on the ball, but unfortunately for him, he is the only one in the entire world that doesn't have sight on the 290-pound defender closing in on his position ready to lower the boom.  And then, BOOM!  A collective "ugh" echos throughout the entire stadium.  But the receiver just bounces right back up and hurries back to his team's huddle, ready to go out for another pass.  How in the world can these guys take such violent hits and still keep going?  I'm told it is through daily exercise, intense training, and an almost inhuman will to play this game called college football.

The rest of us may not play college football on Saturdays, but I think we all know what it feels like to get blind-sided by things in our everyday lives.  Unexpected bills, aggravations at work, arguments with the family, and about a thousand other things stand in the shadows waiting to knock us out cold.  We can't avoid these things, but there is a way to keep them from knocking us out of the game.  We, too must exercise and train everyday.  But our trainers are Jesus Christ and His Holy Word.  When we take up our crosses daily, pray without ceasing, and meditate on His Word continously, we, too are able to bounce right back up and go out for another play.  I am thrilled that the leader of my team is Coach Jesus, and that he gives me an almost inhuman will to play this game called life.

I Corinthians 15:58 says, "Stand firm.  Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know your labor in the Lord is not in vain."

Father, oh how I thank you for helping me back up when things knock me down.  Please help me to train even harder to be more prepared for 290-pound defenders.  In Jesus name, Amen

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Best Poem In The World

I am not sure if you have ever heard this poem before, but it sure is a good one!  I was asked to re-post it, and I am glad to do so.


I was shocked, confused, bewildered
As I entered Heaven's door,
Not by the beauty of it all,
Nor the lights or its decor.
But it was the folks in Heaven
Who made me sputter and gasp--The thieves, the liars,
the sinners,The alcoholics and the trash.
There stood the kid from seventh grade
Who swiped my lunch money twice.
Next to him was my old neighbor
Who never said anything nice.
Dan, who I always thought
Was rotting away in hell,
Was sitting pretty on cloud nine,
Looking incredibly well.
I nudged Jesus, 'What's the deal?
I would love to hear Your take.
How'd all these sinners get up here?
God must've made a mistake.'
And why's everyone so quiet,
So somber - give me a clue.
''Hush, child,' He said, 'they're all in shock.
No one thought they'd be seeing you.


Every saint has a PAST.... Every sinner has a FUTURE!

Free Ride

In the early 80's, Dan Hartman recorded a hit called I Can Dream About You.  Hartman was a long-time singer/songwriter who once played in the band The Edgar Winter Group, a hard-rock band formed by Edgar Winter of Beaumont Texas.  In fact, Hartman wrote one of their most memorable hits, Free Ride, in 1973.  It is a very catchy, up-tempo song that is now famous for a couple of very hot guitar licks.  I have always liked the song, but recently I really started focusing on the lyrics.  They are powerful, and although I know Hartman probably didn't have this in mind when he wrote the song, they almost sound like lyrics about Jesus Christ and His plan of Salvation.  Check this out:

 The mountain is high, the valley is low
And you're confused 'bout which way to go
So I flew here to give you a hand
And lead you into the promised land

So, come on and take a free ride (free ride)
Come on and take it by my side
Come on and take a free ride

Jesus does in fact offer us a free ride to heaven.  He booked our trip and paid for our tickets when He gave His life on Calvary.  All we have to do now is accept His gift.  Like the lyrics in the song say, there is no reason for us to be confused about which way to go, nor is there any reason we should wait any longer to accept His "once-in-a-lifetime" offer.  I can still remember before I became a Christian, that I would feel an almost unexplainable tugging sensation deep inside whenever I would contemplate God.  Of course now I know that that was the calling of the Holy Spirit.  I am so glad I finally answered His call.  I just wish I would have done it sooner.  The last verse of Free Ride is:

We got to do better
It's time to begin.
You know all the answers,
are a stones-throw within.

Father, thank-you for offering me a Free Ride to the Promised Land.  I pray for all those who are not Christians and who may be struggling with this decision.  In Jesus name, Amen.  


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Eternal Means Eternal

I tell my students to check over their tests very carefully after I grade them and hand them back.  I am only human, and I can accidentally mark some of their answers wrong when in fact they are right.  Once I am made aware of my mistake, I correct it immediately and add to their score.  Sometimes I mess up the other way, though.  Thankfully it doesn't happen much, but I have marked answers right before when they were actually wrong!  For the student, that is just the luck of the draw.  I will always grade in their favor.  I will add to their score when necessary but never will I subtract from it. 

Jesus promised us that if we believe in Him, He will give us Eternal life. John 3:16 is just one example of this Truth.  But is it possible to sin our way out of that gift?  Is it possible to lose our salvation?  I believe with all my heart that the answer is no.  Can our perfect God make a mistake?  Would He give us Eternal life one day and then take it away the next?  No way!  If He did that, it would not be Eternal life. If God places an A+ on our paper, we can rest assured that He will never lower it to a B or a C, no matter what mistakes we may make or how many times we may make them.  The more I learn about our Great Teacher Jesus Christ, the more I am amazed at His awesomeness!  Praise Him!

God, Where Are You?

My grandfather used to tell me this joke when I was younger.  He said one day an elderly man was driving his wife to the store when they passed two teenage lovers in a sports car.  The boy was driving the car and the girl was practically sitting in his lap.  The elderly man's wife questioned, "Why don't we still drive like that?  The elderly gentleman responded, "I have never moved". 

During our hard times, we may ask, "Where is God?"  But if we are truthful with ourselves, we know that we should be asking, "Where am I?"  God promises He will never leave us in our most trying and difficult times.  He is always sitting right there beside us in the driver's seat.  Sometimes though, we get complacent and slowly inch away from Him. Then all of a sudden, a big bump in the road jars us awake and we look around and wonder where God has gone.  But it is not He who has drifted from us, but instead, it is we who have drifted from Him.  He is still right there, guiding us through the bumpy parts.  We have all lived long enough to know that bumps in the road are simply a part of life and are bound to happen when we least expect it.  Today, let's work on getting back to God, and let's practice on staying there with Him through thick and thin.  Isn't it an awesome feeling to know that no matter how far away we may drift from Jesus, that He never truly drifts from us, and that He is always just one short "help" away?  Call Him. 

Hebrews 13:5 says, "I will never fail you nor abandon you."

Lord, thank-you for loving and caring for us so much that you will never leave us.  You are an amazing God...You are THE amazing God.  In Jesus name, Amen.