“They crucified him, and with him two others.”  John 19:18

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?
Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?

100_1484

Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?
Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?

(African-American spiritual, public domain)

If you’ve ever tried to comb through a child’s long hair after a shampoo, you know it is tangled, sometimes into seeming knots, in various places. Conditioner and de-tangler is the only way to comb it without pulling the little one’s hair.

Tangles also come when they have decided to “re-do” their own pony tail or braids during the day. Yikes! Those knotted masses can bring tears and gnashing of teeth. We have to have them sit in front of us and then we can see the knots of hair and go ahead and work to untangle them.

Even my own hair gets matted into a nest when I have put it up and then sit in a recliner for a while. Ouch! When that happens, I have to carefully reach back and edge out strands of hair until I feel the lump begin to loosen. Then I continue to budge more and more hair loose as I feel around without being able to see it.

tangled

I thought about this as an analogy to our spiritual lives when I read a devotion written by Sarah Young in the book Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence. She wrote, “Let the Spirit take control of your mind, combing out tangles of deception.”

Sooooo right, isn’t it? When we try to untangle whatever has caused the knots in our gut, or emotions or head, we find we cannot do it. Our mind quite often is so messed up with what to do, how to do it, when and where, we simply can’t see a way clear.

Jesus told us to be like little children. We only need to sit in front of Him and let his Spirit rid us of the tangles of deception that have stopped us from having a clear view of Him.

God provides the way our feet should go on His path, and He gives us His strength to walk that distance with Him. He will hold our hands and guide our minds. His infinite knowledge has seen the future, and He knows the way we should go–whether we can see it or not. In fact He promises to make the path straight and smooth.

I pray that you will try to focus your mind on God and the fact that He has all things under His power and gives the Spirit the knowledge of how to help you in every situation you might find yourself.

Let Him untangle your life!

by Cindy Best

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

New International Version

I watched a Discovery Channel program the other night about how our brain “sees” color. It was very interesting. One of the things our brain does, all on its own, is interpret what we are looking at according to the knowledge we have. In other words, as a child you were told that the leaves on trees are green, and that is how you will see them even if there is no sunshine illuminating them. Many people who have been asked as witnesses in an accident or other occurrence at night testify that they saw green trees, even though that is impossible. Our brain “sees” what it has been trained to see.
The neuroscience behind this is fascinating. Our brain is more than just an organic computer (info that goes in turns into knowledge). It processes the information input to a level that is not only split-second, but can make our bodies react in split seconds, too. Saving us from disaster at certain times.
But what I found fascinating was the explanation of how we see “color.” All our vision comes from the light that is reflected on what we are looking at. If you have ever been deep in a cave, where absolutely no light reaches, you will see absolutely nothing….not even your hand right in front of your face. It is impossible to see because there is no light at all.

color
Colors are created by the type of light from the sun that is in the atmosphere. Besides the polarized light that bombards us, there is ultra-violet light, which humans can’t see without special lenses and adaptations, being emitted all the time. Many cats, however, can see ultra-violet light, and if you notice a cat staring intently off into nothing, it could be they are looking at something you cannot see.
The “color” white is in actuality the reflection of the entire visible light spectrum. Black is not a color at all: a black object absorbs all the colors of the visible spectrum and reflects none of them to the eyes. When you paint with water colors and dip your brush into one color, then clean that color off your brush in a bowl of water and get the next color and do the same thing, over and over, eventually the water will turn black because it has absorbed all the colors you have put into it.
Spiritually speaking, no wonder heaven is described as needing no sun or moon because God Himself is the light…He is the epitome of ALL the reflected light there is or ever could be. In fact, He is blinding in His radiance. Therefore, Heaven will hold beauty we cannot fathom, nor has “eye ever seen.”
Hell, with Satan the father of all Darkness, will be the exact opposite. Many people argue whether there will be flames that do not consume in Hell or not. Okay, debate that. What I do know, and our science confirms, is that without the Light of God, wherever Hell is, it will be totally pitch black. Twenty-four and seven. For eternity. I cannot think of a worse place than that. Never being able to see anything, anyone, forever.
That is why I know the darkness that fell over the earth at the moment our Savior died on the cross must have been terrifying. The moment God’s light was removed from the earth.
And that is why I praise God’s Mercy and Grace for loving me enough to give me eternal life with Him. He has provided perfect light and a perfect place for us to see His Glory. And we are to enjoy that Glory with Him, forever.

by Cindy Best

Am I ever glad this is a new month, a new week, and a new day. The past few weeks have been frustrating to say the least. You know how that is at times, right?

My Internet router went kaput a month or so ago…after I had gotten a totally new one in January. A visit with an online tech got it going again. Then three weeks later off it went, and this time the tech couldn’t get it running, so they ordered a personal visit from a repair person…in another week. Argh!

While messing with the router’s settings, something happened to the computer which totally messed up everything so that my writing documents were not showing up, and even worse, the word processing software was not showing up either! Yikes.

On top of that, the printer wouldn’t work, and still is not. Joys!

Then last Thursday evening our water heater had a pipe that broke (not found until Friday morning) and a few inches of water had sprayed into the basement. Luckily our 115-year-old basement floor tilts toward the drain, so most of the water was already running out; and it is not a finished basement, so no damage there. Just no hot water. We got a plumber to come out late afternoon on Friday and fix the broken pipe and fitting; however, he said we needed a new water heater since the bottom of this one had gotten wet and would not light and heat safely (this one was only 3 years old).

working water heater

Then Saturday morning (remember the record-setting cold air that swooped down last weekend?) we found out the furnace had apparently had some water spray onto it and it would not work. (House temp was 55.) We toughed it out–with the help of our gas fireplace and its blower and lots of blankets and a few floor heaters in the basement keeping the pipes from freezing–until we called a furnace repair company to come out. They got here on Tuesday, assessed the actual damage and said a new furnace was needed (this one was 15 years old).

On Wednesday, a new furnace was installed.

Thursday, got us a new water heater. And a new router.

So…..despite my husband’s right arm being in a sling from shoulder surgery three weeks ago, we are doing okay. But am I ever glad we have had electricity and gas throughout all this. Counting blessings despite the adversity of modern life conveniences.

But let me tell you, in the midst of all that turmoil, my attitude took a nose dive. Especially my inner desire to continue writing. I was at the point where I threw my hands up and said, “Okay. I’m just not going to write anymore. And computers are too much of a hassle. I’ll do email and Facebook on my phone and that’s it.”

And frankly, if it weren’t for my husband that may have happened. But I knew he really wanted a Wi-Fi network for his computer. So I trudged along waiting for the repair tech to get here on Thursday.

Sometimes life just gets overwhelming, doesn’t it?

Sometimes no matter what you do, things fall apart.

Sometimes you want to crawl back into that couch-cushion pillow fort with your coloring books.

But day-by-day, hour-by-hour, my “world” got straightened out. And I praised God that we had the financial ability to do what we did. We lifted prayers for all those who did not and for those who have problems so much greater than ours. We had “first-world” problems. Hot water, heat, and computer problems.

As the season of Lent is upon us, you may want to consider what you can do without in this First World. Some of my friends are giving up Facebook until after Easter. Some are going without sweets of any kind.

I wasn’t raised in a church that urged a “denial” of anything leading up to Easter, so it is really a foreign concept to me. But what I have focused on is what I need to ADD to my spiritual life.

I need to add a truly thankful heart for every single thing I have. And a big, extra-thankful heart for me is that my computer documents are all back again! Whew!  But I’m not thankful for just family and friends and “things;” but forgiveness, grace and mercy.

Without God being perfectly Merciful, full of Grace and showering His creation with Forgiveness, I would have no hope.

No hope.

None.

Zip.

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!”

by Cindy Best

It’s been a long winter.  Okay, I know I say that every year, but this winter has been a record breaker.  True, it hasn’t been the snowiest, but our number of sub-zero days has been impressive.  The Midwest isn’t alone, either:  winter has hit hard in nearly every corner of our country, and in most of the places in between.  Everyone is weary of winter.  Where is spring?

Despite the continuing Arctic cold, there is hope.  Robins are returning, and the days are noticeably longer.  Such small signs whisper a promise that winter will eventually move along to the southern hemisphere, and warmer weather will rush in to take its turn.  The ice and snow will melt, green shoots will emerge from the thawing ground, flowers will bloom, and gardeners who have been fighting the urge to get out and dig in the dirt will finally be able to plant their seeds and seedlings.  I can already see tulips and daffodils in my mind’s eye!

robins

When we look around, we find that the state of our world can seem like an unrelenting winter.  Evil is rampant, and people are suffering.  War, rebellion, disease, and violence are so pervasive that we run the risk of becoming numb to them.  But movies, games, and television shows are also full of such things, and although many people look to entertainment to escape the unpleasant realities of the world, they might find themselves becoming saturated in them instead.  Where is God?

Despite the chaos and evil in the world, there is hope.  At the local food pantry, volunteers are serving those in need, helping them to feed themselves and their families.  Donors are financially supporting organizations that help people pay their heating bills so they aren’t stuck in a frigid house.  During the snow storm in Atlanta, fast food servers were taking food and other supplies to motorists trapped in their cars, and businesses opened their doors overnight to allow people who couldn’t get home to sleep in a warm safe place.  International aid organizations can help the desperate around the world because enough people give their money to make it happen.  Everywhere you see the evidence of God at work.

Why would I say that the good deeds of people reveal the hand of God?  Some say that the abundance of evil and suffering in the world proves that there is no God or that if there is a God, he obviously doesn’t care about us.  They dismiss altruism, saying that people do good only because it gets them something in return, even if that something is only a warm fuzzy feeling.  But let’s look at human nature for a moment.  We are essentially self-centered.  Our biological imperative is anything that ensures our survival.  As individuals, we should be competing for resources for ourselves and our families; we should be guarding our territories and making sure that our genetic line continues.  Sharing with others outside our families makes sense only as long as it preserves the security of the community we live in and allows us to survive and prosper.  Giving to strangers, especially strangers on the other side of the world, goes completely against human nature.

Let me say that again:  caring for others outside our own families goes against human nature.  So why do we do it?  Because we are so much more than just our own humanity.  Genesis tells us that when God created man, he breathed life into him.  Although our bodies are flesh, the spirit of life in us is divine.  That is what moves us to care for others.  That is what brings us to tears when we see need and suffering.  That is what spurs us to action when we see injustice.  The Spirit of God in us can elevate us above our humanity if we let him.

After a long, cold winter, or a long period of pain or bitterness, our hearts might need some thawing before we’re able to notice and respond to the need all around us.  The good news is that Jesus is a heart specialist.  He is able to thaw a frozen heart or even break and restore a heart of stone.

A winter like this can make us lose hope for spring.  A world like ours can make us abandon hope for God.  But look around:  spring is not far away, and God is already here.

My grand-daughter has begun participating on her school’s archery team. I can’t tell you how proud I am of her! She and her mom began archery skills almost two years ago…when she was just seven. Their biggest enjoyment came from doing something together outside or inside…either at targets in a field or at an archery range.

And I learned a lot about the sport I did not know. There are re-curved bows, crossbows, and “guideless” bows. She has learned how to shoot bows with sights/guides and without. Her form has to be different for each one.

The fact that she wanted to join the school’s team when she was only 8 years old blew me away. She has gone to three competitions so far and scored better each time. This Saturday she will participate in a State of Iowa meet at Johnston High School. Two weeks ago, she participated in the Greater Des Moines Metro meet with over two hundred other kids.

When I saw her picture at her first meet…8 years old…standing between kids who were a good head and shoulders taller…my heart swelled with pride. That takes a lot of guts to put yourself out there where everyone in the stands can see how you do, or don’t do. It’s a solitary sport, even though you are part of a team from your school. You stand there, by yourself, aim the bow all by yourself, use your own strength and steadiness of eye and hand and let the arrow fly.

And she had to shoot FORTY arrows…at targets put out at varying distances. That’s a lot of pulling back against the “pull strength” of your bow string. And a lot of aiming. And a lot of remembering your form and stance. All by yourself.

That takes a lot of guts…fortitude…confidence. And she did it!

taking aim

Her mom did a great job in telling her that first time that the goal was simply to shoot forty arrows. Hitting the target was not the object. Just being able to pull that string and get those arrows down the lane was the goal. We were proud of her simply for doing that.

Also, her mom gave her something she could repeat to herself as she stood on the line, “Back to the Basics: S (stance) T (target) A (anchor) R (release)…STAR.”  And when one round of arrows didn’t quite go where they could have, mom saw her moving her mouth telling herself, “Back to the basics.” Then she turned and planted her feet in the correct stance, and went on from there. What a great thing, to know you know inside yourself what to listen to and succeed!

The Olympics continue this week, and I feel for those athletes who are skiing down a mountain…on their own. Figure skating…on their own. Cross-country skiing…on their own. The luge and skeleton competitors, hurtling down an icy track…on their own.

When I look inside myself, do I think I have to do this thing called “life” on my own? Do I have to pick my goal and plan my path and practice what I’ve chosen…on my own? Thank God, the answer is, “No!”

Life takes guts, no doubt about it. But I am not alone. I have not gotten off on the wrong path and left God somewhere behind me. He is with me every step of the way, and He can give me strength, guidance, a calm spirit and the insight to get me through. I only need to quiet myself and listen.

by Cindy Best

We have many blankets in our family room. In the corner is a basket home for them (as if we actually fold and put them away). No, they’re usually strewn about… on the couch, the green and gold afghan my grandma crocheted for me when I was a senior in high school (its colors a timeless reminder of how I never ended up going to Baylor. Plans change). On the ottoman is a black and orange Valley fleece blanket my mother-in-law made for one of the boys a few years ago. On the floor, an ugly, rough, south-of-the-border blanket I’ve never liked, although it still hangs around. On the beanbag, a grey souvenir blanket we got on an (unseasonably cold) music festival cruise to the Bahamas a few years ago. It makes me smile. These are joined by a half dozen others, various styles and origins, all ready for movie night or a football game or just cuddling up with a book.

I love these blankets. They feel especially good when the cold wind howls outside, but truth be told, we cover up with ’em year-round. It doesn’t matter. Maybe we just find them comforting. Warm. Protective.

photo-1 blankets Angie S

I’m knitting a blanket for Trevor to take with him when he goes to college this fall. (It’s purple, so it’ll work whether he chooses UNI or Truman State.) I figure, if I brought him home from the hospital in a blanket 18 years ago, I might as well send him off in one, too. If he should get homesick, maybe it’ll be the touch of home that brings comfort.

My mom gave me a quilted blanket this past Christmas, made with squares of some of Dad’s shirts that she couldn’t part with after his death two years ago. This quilt is a great remembrance piece. I remember Dad wearing these shirts. I haven’t actually used the blanket yet; it sits folded on top of our cedar chest, with the shirt fronts folded to the inside. I think the day will come when I use it, but for now, maybe I just don’t want the sadness wrapped around me.

Thinking about these blankets got me pondering the intangibles we wrap around ourselves every day… feelings and emotions, our outlook on life, our defense mechanisms. How we face each day depends on what attitude we put around our shoulders when we get out of bed in the morning. We choose our outlook more subconsciously than I might choose a blanket for TV night, but it’s still a choice.

photo-2 blankets Angie S

Many days, I can be all too comfortable wrapping myself in the wrong things. Cynicism. Pride. Some days, I’m smothered by my own self-doubt. Maybe you can relate. God’s Word warns us to resist getting too cozy with these things. There are others. Worry. Fear. An unwillingness to forgive. But just because these might be comfortable and familiar doesn’t mean we have to keep choosing them over and over. They never end up protecting us like we think they will. They just grow heavier over time. Maybe Jesus had something like this in mind when he talked about his yoke being easy and his burden light. I like this translation of Matthew 11:29-30: “I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (The Message.)

Light blankets are my favorite ones. So, in the spirit of the metaphor, I can appreciate this.

What, then, can we drape around us that won’t weigh us down? Here are some ideas from Colossians 3:12-14: “Dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it” (The Message).

Today, may you be wrapped in comfy blankets and, even better, in the lightness of this kind of spirit God has in mind for you.

by Angie Schmitt

“Hallelujah, we are free to struggle, we’re not struggling to be free.” –Tenth Avenue North

It’s time to admit that I struggle.  I have admitted it before, but I think most days I just get up, say my prayers, try to admit my worries and surrender them, read the allotted chapter out of my Bible, and call it good.  And I’ve done that long enough now that I’m due for a really good cry and a lot of journaling.  Admittedly, today is the last day of Christmas break and we took our tree down, which lends itself to a little post-holiday depression anyway.  But as I’m ironing the candle wax out of the runner I got advent wax on this year (along with the one that’s been sitting in my laundry room since advent wax got on it LAST year) I feel horribly inadequate and generally unhappy with myself.  I should have gotten that candle wax out last year.  Chad asks me if I’ve seen where a stack of DVDs are, and I have no idea.  Our storage space and extra bedroom are a complete mess.  My house is undecorated.  The list of domestic putterings and unfinished projects in my head races to the forefront.  Aren’t I supposed to be on top of this sort of thing?  And wasn’t I going to get more done today?  And oh yes, I need to get on top of planning for youth group, too.  It starts back up again Sunday.  As a ministry leader that should make me excited, right?  But why do I feel somewhat of a drudge and dread at that, down at the bottom of my heart?  Gosh, Katherine, you’re not supposed to feel that way.  Get a grip.

But Kat, you’re pregnant.  Remember just a month or two ago?  You couldn’t even make dinner after getting home from work you were so exhausted, much less iron off the candle wax.  You were letting go, remember?  Not worrying about the dust or the cobwebs or the mold in the toilet or the mess in the basement.  So now that you have energy, you’re just going to tear yourself to shreds with criticism?  That’s not fair.  You’re pregnant.

Or busy. Or working 40 hours a week.  Or whatever.  There will always be SOMETHING I can look to as an excuse.  But even doing that… an excuse says there’s still something lacking.  That the standard is still HERE, at a certain spot, and you’re missing it, but it’s okay because you have a valid excuse.  And the problem with THAT, is that I’m still trying to live up to some arbitrary standard I’ve set for myself, and fooling myself with an excuse.  Fooling myself thinking I’m okay, when I’m still measuring my worth and my value by a man-made standard.  Using a man-made measuring stick.  But the measuring stick is the wrong one, and I can’t let it go.  I keep picking it up.  And putting it down.  And picking it up again.  THIS is my struggle.  The measuring stick I use on myself.  Using my own, instead of using my Maker’s.

And yes, the Lord wants me to be a good steward of my resources.  Of my time.  To take care of the gifts he has given me, which include my home and the table runner my mother quilted me.  And yes, he has called me to be a youth leader.  And perhaps I have attitudes and issues he needs to deal with me in that regard.  But those are separate from the measuring stick he uses to determine my value.  My value has already been set.  It was determined way, way back, a long time ago.  Before I was born.  Before I was an ultrasound picture, or a heartbeat my parents were ecstatic to hear.  Before I was the precious miracle they held in their arms.  Before I was a beautiful little girl.  Before I grew up into a sexy wife of some sort.  Before the world attributed any value or worth to me at all….  I was loved.  I was a precious daughter.  A princess of the King.  And that’s a title I did NOTHING to deserve or own.  And so that means there’s nothing I can do to keep it, and nothing I can do to lose it either.  Whether that stupid candle wax comes off the table runner or not… that doesn’t change who I am, who my Father created me to be.  He made me with the intention I’d be perfect and we’d love each other.  By the nature of sin, I screwed that one up.  So he died instead of me and forgave me… which set me free from my chains.  So that I’m free to struggle, not struggling to be free.

Lord, help me to once again set down that silly measuring stick of mine and the world’s making.  Satan’s a poophead and keeps telling me I need to use it.  Well he’s wrong, isn’t he?  Remind me once again who I belong to.

“Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”   Psalm 103:1-5

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.  All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts.  Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.  But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  Ephesians 2:1-10

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1 …  “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” 8:6  “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.  The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.  And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’”  8:14-15

by Katherine Hatting

Have you ever seen a sun dog?  I hadn’t until we moved to Iowa, where the winters can be extremely cold.  The first time I saw one, probably eight or more years ago, I was driving home after dropping my daughter off at school.  Although I’d never seen one before, I immediately knew what it was!  Sometime in the past I must have read about them or seen photos, because the minute I saw this strange triple sun in the sky, I thought, “sun dog.”  Wow.

If you’ve never seen a sun dog, picture the winter sun, low in the sky.  Then imagine an arc half-encircling it, sort of like a rainbow but not really visible.  Now place another bright sun at each “end” of the arc, and you have a sun dog!  Also called a mock or phantom sun, this event is caused by light refracting off a certain shape of ice crystal in a particular kind of cloud, creating a prism effect (that’s why sometimes the “false suns” are multicolored, like a rainbow, but more muted).  When conditions are just right, you can even sort of see the arc or halo around the real sun, but the refractions also look a lot like the sun.

sun dog

I don’t think any of us would confuse a sun dog for the real sun, but if you’d never seen a sun dog before and woke up one winter morning to this strange sight, you might wonder whether something had changed overnight in our solar system (or you might wonder if you’d woken up in a science fiction movie).  But you would have known instinctively that the sun in the middle was the real sun, and the others were imposters.

Do you think you would ever confuse a false god for the real God?  I’ll bet all of us are pretty confident we can tell the difference.  But think about what you spend your time and money on, and ask yourself what holds the place of greatest honor in your life.  I like to think that I’m a pretty “good” Christian, yet sometimes when I’m lying in bed at night, and my brain is still percolating over ideas, I realize that I have given God hardly a thought all day.  How can that be?  I am certainly aware of who God is, and I don’t think I would ever confuse some imposter for the real God, but if that’s true then why do I so often give God so little of my time and attention?  Sometimes I treat Him more like a faraway friend than my sovereign Lord.

When we think about idols, maybe we picture statues or other physical objects.  There are lots of stories in the Bible about people worshipping false gods and keeping idols in their homes and temples.  But what is an idol, really?  When I look up the word on dictionary.com, I find these definitions:  “an image of a deity other than God” and “any person or thing regarded with blind admiration, adoration, or devotion.”  When I look around my home, I don’t see any images of deities other than God, but I do see a lot of other things that I might regard with devotion, for instance, my book collection.  Now, I’m not saying God frowns on recreational reading, but when I neglect His Word to read other books, that’s a problem.  When I compare the hours I spend watching TV or working on art projects to the time I spend in prayer and meditation, I start to feel convicted.  When my relationship with God gets out of balance, it’s time for me to work on my priorities.

God sent a rainbow after the Flood to remind us of His mercy and faithfulness.  Maybe He sends sun dogs to remind us of His sovereignty.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 49 other followers