What is your Cornerstone?

Although it may not seem like it now, our country was built on a cornerstone of faith. Our declaration of independence references God 5 times.  George Washington said:

“It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.”

 Thomas Jefferson said:

“God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath?”

Where is our cornerstone now?  It is sometimes hard to see it among the mass shootings, abortions, sexual promiscuity and anti-Christian rhetoric that floods our country and our media.

God has laid the cornerstone for each of us.  It is up to us whether we allow ourselves to be built upon it:

Rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, insincerity, envy, and all slander; like newborn infants, long for pure spiritual milk so that through it you may grow into salvation, for you have tasted that the Lord is good.  Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God, and, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  For it says in scripture:

“Behold, I am laying a stone in Zion, a cornerstone, chosen and precious, and whoever believes in it shall not be put to shame.”

1 Peter 2:1-6

God has laid a cornerstone.  And he has chosen each of us to lay our stones upon His foundation, to be built into a spiritual house.  He asks us to rid ourselves of all malice and all deceit, insincerity, envy, and all slander.  Why would we want to hold on to any of this?  Believe in Him and come to Him.  That is all He asks.  Believe in Him and Come to Him.  Make Him the cornerstone of your life.  Don’t we all need that?  Don’t we all need to re-center on what is important.  For even when we are rejected in this life, God calls us to Him.  He chooses us.

Lord,

You are my cornerstone.  Thank you for choosing me.  Thank you for providing me with the opportunity of another day to create something beautiful upon your foundation.  Guide me in your path.  Forgive me for the times that I have allowed malice, deceit, insincerity , envy or slander to enter my heart.  Fill my heart with your love.

 

 

 

When In Doubt… LOVE

What are my gifts?  What does God call me to do?  Do you ever ask those questions?  It feels like I do more and more.  The Bible tells us that we all have gifts.  God has given us the tools that we need.  We just need to use them.  I think I have been spending too much time trying to figure out what I should be doing instead of just doing what I know I need to do.  Today I was directed by a study group to read Peter:

The end of all things is at hand. Therefore, be serious and sober for prayers.  Above all, let your love for one another be intense, because love covers a multitude of sins.  Be hospitable to one another without complaining.  As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.  Whoever preaches, let it be with the words of God; whoever serves, let it be with the strength that God supplies, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

1 Peter 4:7-11

As  I read this, my eyes fall on this line: “Above all let your love for one another be intense, because love covers a multitude of sin.”  I may not know exactly what specific thing God is calling me to do — but maybe I am letting myself get lost in the weeds.  Love more.  Isn’t that what He is calling us to do?  And won’t everything else flow from that?  Love more.  Isn’t that the answer?

Love more.  Let your love be intense — for everyone — not just the easy ones, your spouse and kids, mom and dad  — but for everyone.  Love more.  Be hospitable to one another without complaining.  (Not always that easy.)  Love more.  Use your gifts to serve one another.  I may not know what gifts I have.  I may not know the exact plan for these gifts, but I know that God calls us to love.  He calls us to serve one another.   I could go crazy trying to figure out the plan for my life, or I could just love.  And serve.  Love covers a multitude of sins.

Lord,

You have blessed me with so many gifts.  Help me to use them in the way you intended.  Help me to use them to love and serve others.

Pure Love Through Any Storm

What a beautiful  morning!  Storms are expected to be moving in, but…

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith, to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time.  In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  Although you have not seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of [your] faith, the salvation of your souls.

1 Peter 1:3-9

Blessed is God!  He is preserving our inheritance in heaven  — our salvation.  It is imperishable, undefiled and unfading.  Bring on the storm — because what is waiting for us will not fade.  It will not fail.  We may suffer through various trials and be tested by fire, but we will rejoice!  Our faith allows us to rejoice.  All that we experience, all that we endure allows us to give all praise, all glory and all honor to Jesus Christ.  He suffered and died for us so that we would know.  So that we would believe.  So that we would have faith.  So that we would know God.  So that our faith — the genuineness  of our faith — would lead us back to God.

Peter goes on to say:

Now if you invoke as Father him who judges impartially according to each one’s works, conduct yourselves with reverence during the time of your sojourning, realizing that you were ransomed from your futile conduct, handed on by your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold but with the precious blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished lamb.  He was known before the foundation of the world but revealed in the final time for you, who through him believe in God who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

1 Peter 1:17-21

Jesus, through his precious blood, ransomed us from our futile conduct — from our sin.  He suffered and died, just so we would know.  Just so we would have faith and hope in Him.  God’s love is so immense, so pure — it is greater than any love we can experience.  I want to love like Him.

Peter instructs us:

Since you have purified yourselves by obedience to the truth for sincere mutual love, love one another intensely from a [pure] heart.  You have been born anew, not from perishable but from imperishable seed, through the living and abiding word of God, for:

“All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of the field; the grass withers, and the flower wilts; but the word of the Lord remains forever.”

1 Peter 1:22-25

Father,

Although I have not seen you, I believe.  I rejoice in you.  I have joy because of you.  I love you.   Help me to love like you.

 

 

God or Robert Redford?

Robert Redford and Sissy Spacek are in town.  And everyone is milling around the streets hoping to catch a glimpse.  I admit I was one of the gawkers.  Drove through town a couple of times trying to see something besides the big movie trailers and security personnel.  Why?  So I can tell people I saw Robert Redford or was this close to Sissy Spacek.  I assume the same reason the small-town streets that are normally empty are suddenly streaming with people.

This morning when I opened the Bible, it opened to the story of Peter’s denial of Christ in Luke.

After arresting him they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest; Peter was following at a distance.  They lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat around it, and Peter sat down with them.  When a maid saw him seated in the light, she looked intently at him and said, “This man too was with him.”  But he denied it saying, “Woman, I do not know him.”  A short while later someone else saw him and said, “You too are one of them”; but Peter answered, “My friend, I am not.”  About an hour later, still another insisted, “Assuredly, this man too was with him, for he also is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “My friend, I do not know what you are talking about.” Just as he was saying this, the cock crowed, and the Lord turned and looked at Peter; and Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.”

Luke 22:54-61

I am struck by how many people are desperate to be able to say they met Robert Redford (or insert any celebrity here), a man who they know primarily through the make believe that he creates.  And yet here is Peter who is desperate to hide that he knows Jesus.  The Truth.

We want to be around fame and fortune, fleeting as both may be.  And hide from God and truth, and eternity.  And of course it is easy to say , if I had known Jesus, I would not have been like Peter (I remember thinking that as a child), but now I recognize how many times I, in fact, do deny Him. How many times I hide knowing Him or having a relationship with Him.

So I may not meet Robert Redford, but that is ok.  I think I would rather brag that I met God, that I know God, and that I will one day see God.

(No disrespect meant to Mr. Redford, who seems like a very nice man, its just that God is better —  But I would still be happy to meet Mr. Redford too!)

God, I am sorry for the times I deny you.  I am sorry for the times I look for happiness in fame, fortune and worldly treasures.  I want to know you better!  I want to be with you.

 

March madness, God’s gladness

I believe that God likes basketball.  He made us in his image and it certainly seems that we like basketball.

I enjoy watching, rooting for the underdog, watching the sweetness of victory — the joy that is shared among the players and the fans — and watching the “agony” and sometimes heartbreak of defeat.  As I was watching tonight, I happened to open my Bible again (a double header day):

You have been born anew, not from perishable but from imperishable seed, through the living and abiding word of God, for:

“All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of the field; the grass withers, and the flower wilts; but the word of the Lord remains forever.”

This is the word that has been proclaimed to you.

1 Peter 1:23-25

I was struck with one thought as I read this, with one eye on the basketball scores (and my bracket that was quickly going down the drain):  March madness is a beautiful microcosm of all worldly things.  Perishable.  Whether your team wins the game, wins the tournament or even experiences the ultimate Cinderella story — the victory is perishable.  The victory is fleeting and will eventually wilt.  Even the worst loss, the humiliating defeat, the broken dreams.  These too are perishable.

Next fall the teams will all start anew.  This year’s victories and losses will be meaningless.  Just memories.  As with most things in life.  Easy come.  Easy go.  Today’s peaks, quickly turn into tomorrow’s valleys.  But one thing remains:

GOD.

All the glory of today will fade away.  All the glory of March Madness will be gone by mid April.  But the Glory of God reigns true.

So cheer your team to victory (as long as they are not playing my team), and remember one team endures forever.