Jul 25, 2019

The Problem With Wearing Two Pairs of Shorts

I was at a wedding where I was the pastor who was officiating. While adjusting my clothing just before the before the ceremony, I had noticed that the dress pants that I was wearing were getting tighter; which was strange because they had fit fine the week before.

Rationalizing to myself that I must had put on some extra weight during the past week, I sucked in my belly, cinched up my belt, and continued with my preparations.

About ten minutes later, I decided to use the bathroom one more time before I made my way up to the front for the ceremony.

While unzipping my pants, I noticed that I had on (what appeared to be) an extra pair of shorts. I quickly made my way into one of the stalls and removed my dress pants and confirmed my suspicions. I had on a pair of gym shorts!

I removed them, put on the pair of dress pants, and zipped them up. I noticed that the belt was actually one notch smaller.

I made my way to Cathy and handed her the gym shorts and asked her if she could put them in her purse because I needed to start the ceremony.

But, because her puzzled look demanded an explanation, I took the time to explain. 

You see, whenever I get dressed for an event such as wedding, funeral, or some other situation at which I will be wearing dress pants, suit, shirt, and a tie, I tend to get hot because of all of the running around. Don't ask me why or else I will go a bunny trail.

My solution has been to wear a pair of gym shorts so that my core temperature stays a bit cooler as I prepare. Then, just before leaving the house, I (usually) take off the gym shorts BEFORE I put on a pair of dress pants. When I arrive at my destination, then I put on the suit coat.

I say "usually" because on this particular day (obviously) I didn't. I had actually forgotten to take off the gym shorts before putting on the dress pants.
Cathy laughed until tears came out her eyes and I made my way to the awaiting wedding party to start processional.

To be fully honest and forthright, it is bad enough that I did this once; but I did this twice...at two different weddings!!!

The second time made Cathy laugh even more.

The Apostle Paul was addressing this same situation several times in his writings to the young Christian churches. Paul actually had to tell his congregants that they needed to "put OFF" before they "put ON"

One section of scripture where Paul address putting off and putting on is  Ephesians 4:20-24

One wouldn't think that you would need to explain this, but for some reason people (particularly guys) seem to have a hard time letting go of the old and taking the new.

Men, although they like getting new things, tend to keep clothing WAY PAST the expiration date. Be honest with me guys; when you received a new shirt this past Christmas or Father's Day, did you throw out the old stuff?

We wear clothing WAY past its expiration date! Clothing that is stained, stretched, torn, faded, and no matter how many times it is washed, it still smell like an old piece of clothing.

A simple explanation for why we don't remove the old first is because the old fits us and we feel comfortable in it.

Another reason is that we don't want to be in the place of old and new because we are naked and vulnerable.

But Paul is telling us that we need to remove the old in order that the new fits better and is closer to the heart. We MUST remove and put away the old in order to be adorned in what the Lord wants us to wear.


But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:20-24)

Paul is appealing to the church in Ephesus to leave their old way of life and come to Jesus and make Him the Lord of their lives.

Paul is talking about conduct, attitudes, lusts, behaviors, addictions, etc.

Paul is urging them to be done with their former life as he says; “Put off your old life like you would put off an old pair of pants. And then, clothe yourself in a new way to conduct yourself”.

In other words, put off your old sinful life and put on the righteousness and holiness that comes from a relationship with the Father through Jesus Christ.

As I said earlier, this transition is harder that we first think. It involves being naked and transparent and vulnerable.

But the good news is that there is someone who wants to assist us with the process; in fact He literally paid a price to help you transition from the old to the new. His name is Jesus.

All He is asking is for you to acknowledge that the old stuff is wrong and it needs to go (confession: which means to agree with what God calls sin)

And ask Him to help you to remove the old (invite Him into your life to be your Lord and Savior)

And allow Him to do the work; with you cooperating with the process. 

Tired of the old clothing that doesn’t quite fit? Call out to the Father through Jesus Christ and let Him make great changes to your life.

Paul wrote to another church:
“That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:9-13)

All Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Jul 18, 2019

Amazing How Well It Works When You Follow Instructions

I was standing in the shower at the cabin and I became very grateful for the hot shower after doing some construction outside (during which I had gotten very sweaty and dirty).

While standing there, I realized an important milestone: It had been at least twelve years since we had replaced the heating element in the water heater; something that we used to do every other year if not sooner.

The water heater is electric and generally takes less than three minutes after the electricity is turned on for the water to go from well-water cold to (almost) scalding hot. And over the years it has been a very faithful appliance.

But, for whatever reason, every spring when my father-in-law and I would open up the cabin, we would inevitably burn out the element and have to replace it.

Basically the problem happened due to user error. We would fire everything up BEFORE the water heater was completely filled with water; which we had drained when we closed up the cabin for the winter.

I am guessing we replaced at least ten elements before we decided to write down and follow instructions every spring.

Shortly after my father-in-law died, I decided that it would be prudent to write down instructions for how to open and close up the cabin. This way other family members would learn from our mistakes.

So, I assembled a "Maintenance Notebook" that would have all pertinent information; especially now that he had gone to heaven.

In the notebook, under the section "OPEN-ing the cabin for the Spring/Summer" I wrote in BOLD letters:

·  Confirm that the WATER HEATER breaker is turned off!

·  This will prevent burning out the element.

NOTE: Gene and Tom had to learn the hard way over several years.


·  If these instructions are ignored, the water heater tank will need to be completely drained and then the element will need to be replaced.

Needless to say, this has proven to work because (to my knowledge) not once has the element had to be replaced over the past twelve years...

Or else my brothers-in-law who now open up the cabin each year may just be smarter than Gene and I were.

In other words, those who opened up the cabin each spring and closed it up each fall were successful when they followed the instructions…

And learned from others’ mistakes.

So how do we apply this truth to our everyday lives? Where is the “Instruction Manual” for our everyday lives?

I’m glad that you asked; or at least thought about asking…

The Bible is filled with pearls of wisdom written by men who had gleaned wisdom from their mistakes. Story after story has been written down to show what happens when instructions are followed.

And, story after story has been written down to show what happens when instructions are NOT followed.

One person who did this was King David. He wrote down instructions for his sons to follow so that they would learn from his mistakes and avoid them. 

David wrote in Psalm 1:
Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.
The ungodly are not so,
But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the ungodly shall perish.”

Simple instructions and yet none of David’s sons followed them.

And the results were that they, too, had their “elements burned out” because they didn’t do what they were instructed to do.

One of David’s sons, Solomon, after not following instructions and messing up, wrote down for his sons what he had learned from his mistakes. 

Solomon had at least one thousand women who were connected with him; and also had wealth beyond belief.

And yet it still wasn’t enough for him to be satisfied or to be happy.

Or to keep him from making the same mistakes.

So he wrote down wisdom that he received for the Holy Spirit so that others who came after him wouldn’t make the same mistakes. The Books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes were two of these books.

He concludes near the end of his life:
Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth,
Before the difficult days come,
And the years draw near when you say,
“I have no pleasure in them”:
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all.
For God will bring every work into judgment,
Including every secret thing,
Whether good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:1, 13-14)

My friends, the Bible is full of great instruction that (when applied to our lives) can save us from burning out.

The Holy Spirit wants to breathe fresh life into the words written so very long ago so that they can be fresh truth and instructions for each and every day of our lives; not just spring and fall…

Where should you start?

Start by grabbing a Bible, sitting down, and ask the Holy Spirit to instruct you. 

When you first start reading the Bible it may not make complete sense to you; that is why you need to ask Him:

“But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)

The Holy Spirit has been sent by the Father to help you understand the instructions. This is true for those who don’t yet know Him:

And when He (the Holy Spirit) has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. (John 16:8-11) 

This is true for those who have already received Jesus as their Savior and have surrendered their lives to the Lordship of Jesus Christ:

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:12-16)

God wants to instruct us; He simply wants us to ask Him…

Because it is amazing how well it works when you follow the instructions.

Psalm 119 says;
Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.”

All Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Jul 11, 2019

When I Look to the Mountains

by Randy Stonehill  

When I look to the mountains
I can see you there
In the wild churning ocean
I can feel you there
In the warm summer breeze
Your voice is in the air
Oh my Lord

You reflect Your perfection
In the smallest leaf
In your vastness You render time
A captured thief
I stand naked before You
In amazed belief
Oh my Lord

Oh my Lord my Creator
You have captured my heart
With a love I can never repay
And I fall to my knees to try to
Tell You what words could never say

Though You hold all creation
In Your holy hands
Though the world is as weightless
As a grain of sand
Still You told me my name
And gave me strength to stand
Oh my Lord
(repeat chorus)
(repeat first verses)

from the album Celebrate This Heartbeat

Jul 4, 2019

Using It the Way It Was Intended

I'm writing this blog sitting at the cabin where there is no paper...

I needed some so I went to the drawer that we have stocked over the years with paper along with crayons, pens, markers, paint, pencils (plain and colored), coloring books, and other items necessary for rainy days and other moments of creativity...

The drawer is empty of plain paper because many people; young and old, have grabbed paper to use it the way it was intended. Many of their creations now hang on many refrigerators throughout the state of Minnesota. Several of them are covering the refrigerator at this very cabin.

In fact, when two of my grandchildren came up to spend the day with Cathy and me and their mom, one of the first things that they wanted me to see (after greeting me with; "Grandpa!") were the drawings that they had made during their last trip to the cabin. They were now prominently displayed on the cabin refrigerator for all to appreciate like the "Mona Lisa" or any other great piece of art in the Louvre in Paris, France.

"Yes, I saw it!” I told them as they were delighted with my response and my recognition of the subject matter of the drawings. From there, they showed me whatever else was on their minds and we set out for a great time at the cabin.

And now they are gone; back to their own home as I sit and write down my thoughts...or attempt to.

As I said, the drawer is void of any blank paper; that is except for a "Mad Libs" book which are blank on the backsides...which is not how the book was intended to be used.

The page was made with the intention of people filling in the blanks on the pages to create a funny story. One player secretly fills in answers in the blanks (when requested) that are either names, nouns, or adjectives and then, when completed, reads the story aloud to the audience.

The game is frequently played as a party game or as a pastime by those who like this sort of activity; why, I'm not really sure because I'm not a fan of Mad Libs...

But I digress...or actually, it reinforces my thoughts for this blog today.

The creators of Mad Libs had an intended purpose for the creation of the book; beyond just the making of money. They produced it so that people would come together and fill out the blanks to craft a story that would be read and (hopefully) make people laugh and have a good time.

They created it and had a specific way that they wanted it to be used. That is why it comes with instructions; which can also be used as a rule book for times when people disagree on how to play the game.

It wasn't their intention that I tear the page out of the book, turn it over, and write on the back page which was completely blank. They didn't want me to write my own story. No, they wanted me to use the printed side and ONLY fill in the blank spots.

They wanted me to use it the way that it was intended; not make up my own rules or laws to justify my own preference. They wanted me to not change things to justify how I wanted to use what they had created.

What have we done with that which The Creator of heaven and earth has created? We, too, change the rules and use all that we see differently than it was created for.

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen." (Romans 1:18-25)
May God continue to have mercy on each one of us!

"Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, And prudent in their own sight! Woe to men mighty at drinking wine, Woe to men valiant for mixing intoxicating drink, Who justify the wicked for a bribe, And take away justice from the righteous man! Therefore, as the fire devours the stubble, And the flame consumes the chaff, So their root will be as rottenness, And their blossom will ascend like dust; Because they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts, And despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. Therefore the anger of the Lord is aroused against His people; He has stretched out His hand against them and stricken them, and the hills trembled. Their carcasses were as refuse in the midst of the streets. For all this His anger is not turned away, But His hand is stretched out still." (Isaiah 5:20-25)

New King James Version (NKJV)
All Scripture is taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.