Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Easters Still Quiet Voice

In Genesis 3:9-10:
The LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. Gods voice, full of purity and righteousness was recognised by Adam and he immediately was aware of his failure, his sin.
In Mathew 17 we are instructed by Christ himself to not be afraid of the voice of God: While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid.
In 1 Kings the voice of the Lord is delineated from the surroundings. Elijah, discouraged and ready to die on the mountain of God (Horeb), is told by the Lord: "Go, stand on the mountain at attention before God. God will pass by." A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn't to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn't in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn't in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper. When Elijah heard the quiet voice, he muffled his face with his great cloak, went to the mouth of the cave, and stood there. (1 Kings 19:11-14, The Message)

In the days of Samuel, as chronicled in 1 Samuel 3 the Lord also spoke in a quiet voice as the boy Samuel was lying down in the Temple of the Lord where the ark of God was. He mistakenly (three times) thought the voice was that of Eli his master, a prophet of the Lord. Each time he answers the call and comes to Eli. Eli finally discerns that the Lord is calling the boy and directs him to answer “Speak Lord, for your Servant is listening”. Verse 1 of Chapter 3 indicates that “word from the Lord was rare in those days, visions were infrequent”

At the very birth of Christ, while Angels could be heard on high, unable to contain their joy, the voice of God Himself remains relatively quiet. This fact leads one theologian to say “While humanity slept, God came down the back staircase of heaven with a baby in his arms.” Once again, quiet & gentle. This Easter we would do good to remember that the Resurrection of Christ, the single most important event in the History of this world, happened in the still quiet of a morning, as far as we know without a sound and without a witness.

There is a great clamor of noise in the world today, as busy people chase allusive happiness and suffer the pressures of the tyranny of the urgent. People wonder if God still speaks to His people in this day, in this age. I submit that He indeed does. As was true in King David’s time, He looks to our hearts; He knows our minds and our intent. He still speaks in a still quiet voice that the open heart can hear and a willing soul can discern. He has much to say and to teach us.

Are we responding as Samuel did; “Speak Lord, for your Servant is listening”?

Happy Easter 2009

Monday, April 6, 2009

How is your Morale?

1: From Moral principles, teachings, or conduct.
2: a. the mental and emotional condition (as of enthusiasm, confidence, or loyalty) of an individual or group with regard to the function or tasks at hand. b. a sense of common purpose with respect to a group.
3: the level of individual psychological well-being based on such factors as a sense of purpose and confidence in the future.

Work place morale is a delicate mixture of the mental and emotional conditions of all the work place group participants. When people discuss their satisfaction at working for a particular place of employment, morale usually plays an important role. Some people feel great working somewhere even if they do not realize ecomomic benefits that they might otherwise expect. Some folks have a great many ecomomic benefits and priveledges with their job yet feel trapped. For a meriad of reasons work place morale can make all the difference in the work place environment.

Due to the volitale mixture of personality types, work place morale is difficult to elevate and maintain, even in periods of economic boom. A big “HATS OFF” to those unsung heros in Human Resources who carry the burden of keeping morale buoyed by decorating the office lunchroom or even individual cubicles for birthdays, anniversaries, etc; organizing pot-lucks or office parties. HR never really knows how things will be interpereted by the employee. Let me give you an example:
Years ago I worked for a mid-sized company. Every Christmas in addition to bonuses they gave their employees a ham. Not a coupon for a ham, but a Ham. In an office of some 500 employees it was really strange to see everyone lined up at the end of the day, just a few days before Christmas, to receive a ham. In many ways it was quite nice, but there was a strangeness to it as well. Imagine your entire office lined up to be handed a cold 10 of 15 lb. hunk of Ham. People would actually "Moo" in the line because we all felt like cattle, lined up, not to be slaughtered of course, but the feeling of being in a "soup line" was ever present and made it somewhat strange and uncomfortable. Everyone was cordial and friendly and would make jokes and goof around but this "nice gift" still felt a little strange for all of us. Several times I wanted to get out of the line, just to not feel that way. I think it comes down to not wanting to feel beholden to the company for a simple piece of meat. There was an element of "selling out" involved in that feeling!
During times of ecomomic decay maintaining work place morale becomes a never ending uphill battle. We are all aware that adjustments need to be made as corporations, just as families and individuals tighten their belts. But, in this era of bailouts, bonus scrutiny, layoffs and cutbacks everything that management does becomes suspect. I am fortunate to work in a small company that understands the needs of the empoyee to feel secure and vital to the overall success of the firm. When it became clear that adjustments were going to be needed to weather this current ecomomy a plan was developed that included all parties across the board and was divided into three (3) tiers. Tiers 1 and 2 involved the reduction of some lesser benefits and some reduction in hours( 40 hour weeks reduced to 32 hour weeks) and tier 3 would result in a reduction in manpower ( job losses). Because these company adjustments are being shared there remains a sense of community, which helps maintain the company morale and fosters respect for management.

I really feel that even in these tough times, morale is as high as it can be here at my work. People still smile and laugh and enjoy being here. I hear tales of other companies that too often management is too interested in the bottom line dollars and not enough in the individual well-being, of those that made those dollars available. Corporate American needs to remember that it is built by investing in people. People who, whether they openly acknowledge Him or not, live their lives based upon at least a subset of Gods moral principles.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Great Do-Over

The Father of Lies is an expert in the game of misdirection. By offering up half truths and false hopes for what we really need and desire he attempts to lead us away from the one true God, who offers real truth and real hope for all eternity. True believers need to be mindful of the deceivers attempts to mislead us.

I recently heard a radio ad that spoke of the “Bail-out” friendly times we are currently living in. The ad promised to assist any listener who called right away in obtaining their own share of the Trillions of dollars being handed out by Washington. It seems that the “Age of Entitlement” has arrived just in time to meet the needs of the hurting, the unemployed, the broken, and the overextended and yes even the greedy!

I remember playing games when I was a child. When opposing teams had differing interpretations of the rules or accusations regarding a bad call were made, someone would call a “time out” and more often than not we would start over again. It is natural for humanity to desire a “do-over”. We were made that way so that we would need Jesus and desire the salvation He alone can provide. So, whether you are A.I.G., General Motors, Joe the Plumber or John Q. Public having a safety valve, a do-over, a second chance or net beneath you is comforting. It is one of the reasons we all have auto, home and fire insurance. It is also why our banks place that “FDIC Insured” sticker on the bank door. We feel safer, knowing someone is “watching over us” and “has our back”.

But just who is that someone? In whom are we placing our trust?

Our president and the Democrats in Congress are telling America that only the Government is big enough to solve our current financial crisis. The Conservatives will tell you that you need only trust in the free market; that the financial market will self correct if allowed to do so and a new stronger economy based upon this Darwinian “survival of the fittest” will grow out of the recession. But in either scenario money plays the key role in our salvation, either by government handout or wise investment. Both look in the wrong direction for true security.

Who invented the “Time Out” & the “Do-over”
The Creation story in Genesis (1:31 to 2:3):
God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation. Through this simple act of resting God created a sabbatical (from the Latin sabbaticus, from the greek sabbatikos, from the hebrew shabbathon, i.e., Sabbath) or rest from work.

Why did God create the Sabbath? Did God need a rest? The answer to this question is best found by offering another. Why did God create everything else on days 1 through 6? This world was purposefully created by Him, not for Him, but for us, so that we might have a home to live, grow and relate to him. He did not need rest, but He knew that we, as imperfect creatures, would need a hiatus, a period of regeneration, a time and opportunity to refocus our lives and attention on Him. He demonstrated this wisdom by practicing it. This is just one of the ways He showed us His Love, by first loving us.

The Sabbatic year
The concept of a sabbatical has a source in several places in the Bible Leviticus 25, for example, where there is a commandment to desist from working the fields in the seventh year :

(Leviticus 25:1-5) The Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying: Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: When you enter the land that I am giving you, the land shall observe a sabbath for the Lord. For six years you shall sow your field, and for six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in their yield; but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of complete rest for the land, a sabbath for the Lord: you shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. You shall not reap the aftergrowth of your harvest or gather the grapes of your unpruned vine: it shall be a year of complete rest for the land.

The Super Sabbatic Year - the Jubilee Year - annus jubilaeus, "year of jubilee", or simply ha-yobhel, "the jubilee" : The Hebrew word yobhel stands for qeren ha-yobhel, meaning the horn of a ram. Now, such a horn can be made into a trumpet, and thus the word yobhel came to be used as a synonym of trumpet. According to Leviticus 25:9 a loud trumpet should proclaim liberty throughout the country on the 10th day of the 7th month (the Day of Atonement), after the lapse of 7 sabbaths of years = 49 years. In this manner, every 50th year was to be announced as a jubilee year.
The Jubilee Year, being the crowning point of all sabbatical institutions, gave the finishing touch as it were to the whole cycle of sabbatic days, months and years. The Jubilee Year was to be observed after the manner of the sabbatic year, i.e. there should be neither sowing nor reaping nor pruning of vines, and everybody was expected to live on what the fields and the vineyards produced "of themselves," and no attempt should be made at storing up the products of the land . There are three distinct features of the Jubilee Year: personal liberty, restitution of property, and a more simplified life.
Personal Liberty:
The 50th year was to be a time in which liberty should be proclaimed to all the inhabitants of the country. While bond slaves must have been the foremost in realizing its beneficial effects, the law was intended to benefit all, the masters as well as the servants. They should never lose sight of their being brothers and citizens of theocratic kingdom. They owed their life to God and were subject to His sovereign will. Only through loyalty to Him were they free and could ever hope to be free and independent of all other masters.
Restitution of Property:
The institution of the Jubilee Year was meant to become the means of fixing the price of real property (see Lev 25:15), it excluded the possibility of selling any piece of land permanently (see Lev 25:23), the next verse furnishing the motive: "The land is mine: for ye are strangers and sojourners with me." The same rule was to be applied to dwelling-houses outside of the walled cities (see Lev 25:31), and also to the houses owned by Levites, although they were built within walled cities (Lev 25:32). In the same manner the price of Hebrew slaves was to vary according to the proximity of the Jubilee Year (see Lev 25:47-54). This passage deals with the enslaving of a Hebrew by a foreigner living among the Jews; it goes without saying that the same rule would hold good in the case of a Hebrew selling himself to one of his own people. In Leviticus 25: 17-25 we find a similar arrangement respecting such lands that were "sanctified unto Yahweh." In all these cases the original owner was at liberty to redeem his property at any time, or have it redeemed by some of his nearest relatives (25:25-27,29,48 ff; 27:19).
The crowning feature, though, was the full restitution of all real property in the Jubilee Year. The primary object of this regulation was, of course, the reversion of all hereditary property to the family which originally possessed it, and the reestablishment of the original arrangement regarding the division of the land. But that was not all; for this legal regulation was closely connected with the high calling of the Jewish people. It was a part of the Divine plan looking forward to the salvation of mankind.
"The deepest meaning of it (the Jubilee Year) is to be found in the restoring of all that which in the course of time was perverted by man's sin, in the removing of all slavery of sin, in the establishing of the true liberty of the children of God, and in the delivering of the creation from the bondage of corruption to which it was subjected on account of man's depravity" (Romans 8:19) In the Year of Jubilee a great future era of Yahweh's favor is foreshadowed, that period which, according to Isaiah 61:1-3,
shall be ushered in to all those that labor and are heavy laden, by Him who was anointed by the spirit of the Lord Yahweh.
A Simple Life:
In the 7th and 8th years the people were to live on what the fields had produced in the 6th year and whatever grew spontaneously. The Jubilee Year was producing a "simpler life." They could not help but live simply for two consecutive years. What was the intention of the Lawgiver? Perhaps it was not the simple life as such that God had in mind, but rather the establishment of its moral and religious foundations. "What shall we eat the seventh year?" The answer is very simple and yet profound: "Then I will command my blessing upon you," Nothing was expected of the people but faith in Yahweh and confidence in His power, which was not to be shaken by any doubtful reflection.

The root of the simple life: no life without the true God, and no simplicity of life without true faith in Him. "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Mathew 4:4)

What became of the Jubilee Year?
The Jubilee Year is well outlined in the Book of Leviticus, but did the Jewish people ever observe the Jubilee Year? There is no reason why they should not have observed it in pre-exilic times If they failed in keeping it, we should not be surprised at all. Not that the Lords idea was flawed; but what is more common than unbelief and unwillingness to trust absolutely in Yahweh? Was it observed in post-exilic times? Here, too, we are in the dark. There is, indeed, reason to believe that the Jubilee Year has never been observed neither in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah nor at any later period. The truth of this seems to be corroborated by the silence of Josephus, who, while referring quite frequently to the sabbatic year, never once mentions the Year of Jubilee.
Whom can we trust?
Is God still seeking a relationship with His people? Does He still desire that we have faith and confidence in His power and provision? The answer is Yes, of course! God is steadfastly unchanged in His commitment to loving us. Do His people still need rest (Sabbath) as designed by Him? Do they still need a do-over (Grace) from time to time? The answer is in the way we still seek to fill these God shaped holes in our lives with things other than Yahweh. The answer is in our indivudual hearts. Hearts hopefully open to receive His rest and His grace, never willing to settle for the false hope & security of anything else, whether it be is a government handout or a well performing retirement portfolio. Our true security rests in Gods provision on our behalf of our daily bread and the eternal salvation offered through His Son. As our founding fathers proclaimed....In God we trust!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Building Gods Kingdom - One E-mail at a time!

Larry Lucas is a friend of mine. He used to work for Chick Sporting goods building all their stores. He now works with Calvary Chapel Golden Springs building God's Kingdom by spreading the word of God as a lay leader. For the past several years now, even while he was still working at Chicks, he has been writing a daily devotional. He started the devotional to reachout to his fellow employees. He felt that if he gave them little bits of Gods word, coupled with a little story or illustration, it just might sink in and enable the Holy Spirit to take root in their lives. Today his devotionals are e-mailed out and forwarded to hundreds of people just like you and I all around the globe. Like a small mustard seed, Larry's vision for reaching people for God has grown beyond his wildest imagination. Larry has a heart for God. Here is todays devotional from Larry.

Good morning,

Today’s Scripture is Hosea 4:7

The more they increased, the more they sinned against Me; I will change their glory into shame.

Hosea, whose name means Salvation, was by commandment of God speaking to and about the northern kingdom of Israel. The nation was enjoying a time of prosperity and growth, but moral corruption and spiritual decay set the tone and attitude of the people.

The more they prospered, the more they trusted in themselves and not in God. The more they prospered, the more they turned away from God and His ways. In the previous verse we are told that the people were destroyed for of their lack of knowledge and their rejection of the law of God. They were too busy with the good things of this life to seek out the Lord in His Word, and they found their enjoyment in the things of the world rather than the things of God.

Prosperity wasn’t their sin, it was that their desire for the things of the world was greater than their desire to know God and to follow God’s ways.

Sounds a lot like our country today doesn’t it? And what was the warning that God gave His people if they wouldn’t return their hearts to Him? “I will change their glory into shame.”

Has our time come? Are we reaping what we’ve sown? It would appear so from the state of our economy and everything else that’s going on in our country right now, but God is so gracious, He always gives us a way out.

2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

I know that things seem impossible and it looks like we’ve past the point of no return, but let’s not forget that with God, all things are possible. We must never stop praying for this country and its people.

God bless you all. Have a great day.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Are you READY too?

If you have read any of the post entries to this blog, you will be familiar with our use of the phrase “ALL-IN”. This continuing phrase is a reference to our desire as three men who wish to follow and serve Christ, to draw close to Him and find ways to remain close and in contact with our Lord. It is our desire to live lives that are continually pruned and shaped to be more and more Christ like. We call this sanctification process, being “ALL-IN”. This is, we feel the correct response to the seemingly nationwide desire for CHANGE in America. It is not a national or political aspiration or self-realization technique. We do not anticipate or expect it to be discussed on Oprah, the View or the Today show. It will likely never grace the cover of Time, Newsweek or People Magazine.

It will instead be lived out in quiet humble ways in the lives of those who, give of themselves, freely and without reserve, back to their creator, the glory and honor He so rightly deserves and pursue the close loving relationship that He desires to have with us.
It will be a life long journey, each step seemingly at odds, both painful and rewarding; each cross roads promising both the wide and narrow, the crowded and the less traveled pathways. The choices will be many and will always be challenging, but the Truth never changing.

I am ready! ….Tell me now, my friend, are you ready, too?

Third Day's Lyrics to "Ready":
I’m ready for the winds to change
I’m ready for a brighter day
I’m ready for the sun to shine down on me
I’m waiting for a song to sing
I’m looking for a brand new thing
I’m ready now to live a life that I believe
I want the world to turn because of love
And mercy to find each of us
Doing what we can to just believe
I want the world to know that You’re the One
Who fills me up and gives me hope
And brings about this change that’s in me
Oh yeah, I’m ready, yeah
You know I’m ready now

I’m ready for the truth to be
Something that can set us free
Does anybody still believe we’ll make it through?

I’m ready now to take a stand
To live life for more than myself
Tell me now, my friend, are you ready, too?
I can’t sit around waiting for it all to change
It’s gonna take every single one of us doing what we can
There’s lots of fighting in this world but there’s so much loving, too
So take my hand, I’m ready now for you
Lord knows I’m ready
You know I’m ready
I’m ready for the winds to change
I’m ready for a brighter day