It shouldn’t be Just for one Day! We should begin Thanks-Living.

1a - thankfulI heard a story about a little boy who was handed an orange by a man trying to be kind. The boy’s mother asked, “What do you say to the nice man?” The little boy thought and handed the orange back and said, “Peel it.”

As rude as this boy in the story seems to be, what’s more shocking is that this attitude is prevalent throughout our society. Everywhere we turn we can see it filtering through this great nation of ours. We have raised a generation of self-absorbed people that are blinded to everything other than their desires and needs. We have forgotten the simple act of gratitude.

We have made a make-believe, self absorbed, mystical world that around our own us! We have established ourselves as king in our own little kingdoms! We have made our society nothing more than a “Me, Myself and I” culture that has started us down a slippery slope of ungratefulness. The scripture says in 1 Tim. 3:1-2 that in the last days


Why do we celebrate one day every year to be thankful and return to self-centered living the day after


men will be lovers of themselves and unthankful, as well as, with other selfish attributes. These actions have nurtured and raised a generation of unthankful people. We celebrate one day every year to be thankful and return to self-centered living the day after.

This reminds me of the story of the ten lepers that stood afar as Jesus entered a certain village. They lifted their voices so that Jesus could hear them and cried out, “have mercy on us!” Jesus responds telling them to go and show themselves to the priest, who had the final decision in pronouncing them clean or defiled.

As the lepers went in obedience to His words, the very disease that had kept them estranged from society incredibly dries up and instantly they are healed. Now if this was the end of the story it would be a great lesson on obedience and God’s mercy, but it goes even deeper. The story continues with the scene of only one of the ten returning to give


It’s truly time to stop the madness of self-centeredness and develop a lifestyle of thankfulness


thanks for the miracle from God. The author points out that this healed man was not a Jew but a Samaritan. He wasn’t educated in the traditions and things of God. Yet he knew enough to be eternally grateful for the life changing miracle he was given. Many times those who profess to be Christians are out-done by unbeliever who is touched by God’s mercy.

Where were the other nine? This demoralizing disease had unfairly handicapped them all. They had all been separated from society and their families and dreams. Yet, when they were radically healed and set free by a merciful loving God that heard and responded to their cries. All but one of them chose not to even take the time to come and say, “Thank You”.

It’s time we develop a lifestyle of gratitude towards God and become obedient to the scripture, “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thes 5:18). We can become a person of gratitude by being thankful in three simple areas. First, by being thankful for everything He has done. Secondly, being thankful for everything He is doing in our lives and thirdly, walking in faith by being thankful for everything He is going to do in our lives.

When we become grateful in these areas it will develop a heart of gratitude in us which will flow out to and through others.

It’s truly time to stop the madness of self-centeredness and develop a lifestyle of thankfulness, not just a day of thanksgiving! God wants Thanks-living!

Faithful Follower or Fair-Weathered Fan?

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a1 fan

Like a spiritual father that he was, Paul exhorts his spiritual children in Corinth to not be swishy washy in their walk. We read his words in 1 Cor 15:58 where he says, “…be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord”. As he closed this first letter he seemed to be giving them a last nugget of encouragement to keep them from vacillating in their commitment to following Christ.

Some years back when our hometown team was on the verge of going to the World Series, which they did eventually clinched. People came out of the woodwork and jumped on the bandwagon of being a fan. Everyone was buying t-shirts, banners and talking the talk at the water fountain and coffee counter. Everyone seemed to be diehard committed fans all of a sudden. They call these type fans, fare-weathered fans, because they are only committed to the team when it is easy and convenient.

I think many believers fall in this same type category of commitment in their walk with the Lord. You might call them fare weathered Christians. They are committed to Christ and His teachings as long as there aren’t any storms of life or a losing season in their daily disciplines. On the other side of the coin when they are in the midst of over flowing blessings it is easy to jump on the bandwagon of commitment. Yet, Paul knew that the believer was called to stand firm in their faith no matter what comes their way. Jesus said in Luke 9:62, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God”. Therefore, Paul also exhorts the believers in 1 Cor 9:24-26 to be like


   Only being committed when it is easy and convenient is being a fare-weathered fan for Christ


the runner in a race that runs to win the race not just to be strolling down the track of life and also to those believers in Ephesus He says, “having done all to stand therefore stand”. (Eph. 6:12) Commitment without endurance is just a desire that never manifests into reality. The followers of Christ must live a lifestyle committed to being obedience to Christ rather than just being hinged with some sort of sacrifice. What I am trying to say is there must be more than just sacrifice. (1 Sam 15:22-23) Commitment is a must for every believer!

In Ps. 132 we read the psalmists conversation with the Lord, where he prayed that God would remember David’s commitment to Him. From the sheep fields to the Kingship it seems that this determined commitment that was birthed in him, grew more and more over time. The Spirit describes his determination and intensity in Acts 13:22, saying, “a man after My own heart, who will do all My will”. The Psalmist briefly reminds God of David’s commitment in Ps 132:2-5 which says, “How he … vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob: “Surely I will not go into the chamber of my house, Or go up to the comfort of my bed; I will not give sleep to my eyes … Until I find a place for the Lord”. David never strayed from this passionate commitment to God, in fact if anything, it increased. Scripture reveals how David wasn’t perfect, but his heart was moved for God and the more he leaned into intimacy with Jesus, I believe God kept pouring His heart into him. In a sense, you could say God was stoking the fire of heaven in David’s heart over the years.

After your gone, how will people remember your commitment to God? What will be written on your headstone? Have you given Him opportunity to increase your burning passion to the point that your commitment is at the same intensity as David?

 

 

 

 

 

The Cost of Impatience

1a1aa - impatienceThere’s nothing like entering the stage of life where God blesses you with children. It is an incredible season, yet the transition between only having to worry about yourself to the wake up call of now having a baby that doesn’t understand patience and timing can be eye opening to say the least. I remember in that season how the nights that I was beyond tired was when our sweet cuddly bundle of love turned into a screaming creature from the dark side. That sweet little crying baby never understood anyone else’s needs, only that they wanted their bottle now and that you’re not moving fast enough!

Sadly, many believers are responding in the same way when it comes to receiving the promises of God. When things aren’t coming together in their timetable they begin to be agitated and respond with unwarranted reactions that can, if not stopped, abort the promises of God. It says in Prov. 13:12, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick”. When we are faced with delays we can quickly turn to hopelessness and begin to lose heart, even becoming sluggish in achieving God’s promises.

We see this happening on one of Moses many trips up the mountain. We read in Ex 32:1, “Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, … we do not know what has become of him”.  Now, remember these are the people that God delivered from the Egyptians. God ended hundreds of years of slavery through a great show of His power. (Gen.15:13-14) He went before them as a “Pillar of Fire and a Cloud by day! (Ex 13:21-22)  He opened the Red Sea for a way of escape and then closed it upon the vicious army coming to annihilate them! (Ex 14:21-23, 27-28) Then shortly before this passage the children of Israel had seen God descend upon Mount Sinai in a dark cloud with rumblings and lightening’s, speaking audibly the Ten Commandments before all the children of Israel. (Ex 20:18-19, 22)

They truly had multiple encounters with their all-powerful God that had chosen them to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation before Him, (Ex. 19:6) yet they still slid to a place of impatience when Moses delayed coming down the mountain. You would think after a number of times witnessing God calling him up to commune with Him and to receive instruction on their behalf, that they would be patient and content. Yet it was not so!

The human spirit has a tendency to want things now not later, even if that means trying to help God fulfill His plan with our own strength. Just as Abram and Sari, when they became impatient and produced an Ishmael themselves. (Gen. 16:1-2) Esau was so hungry and impatient after hunting all day that he sold His birthright for soup. (Gen. 25:29-35, Heb. 12:16)

Israel’s impatience motivated them to pursue Aaron to create a god of gold that they might serve and worship it. (Ex. 32:1-2) The gold that they used is what they received from the Egyptians when they left bondage. Isn’t it like many of God’s people in our society? We get tired of contending for His promises, so we create a golden calf that fits our convenience out of the blessings we received from God in the first place.

Let me encourage you as Paul said, not to be weary along the journey, for we will see God’s promises fulfilled if we don’t quit! (Gal. 6:9) Our impatience will only end up costing us the blessings we received from God.

Thoughts to Ponder:  

  • Have you ever been so impatient for whatever reason and did something foolish?
  • Have you ever known anyone to try and help God fulfill what He has promised you? Explain?

 Quotes to Tweet:

  • The human spirit has a tendency to want things now not later, even if that means trying to help God fulfill His plan with our own strength. billvirgin.com 
  • When we are faced with delays we can quickly turn to hopelessness and begin to lose heart, even becoming sluggish in achieving God’s promises. – billvirgin.com

#TheresACostToOurImpatience           #DontDiscardWhatGodAccepts    

 

 

Don’t let man Define you! God is refining You! (pt. 1)

1aaaa mt images (1) The atmosphere was so pure and crisp, yet the light snow was an indication of the major snowstorm that was invading the upper altitudes where I had arrived days earlier. I had made a pilgrimage back to the mountain’s where I had grown up and made memories over forty years ago.

I was hoping for much better circumstances to be camping in for sure. The temperatures were getting ready to plummet to zero during the nights and massive depths of snow beginning to cover the mountains; The shift in the weather began to convince me that a beautiful warm lodge would have been much better suited for me.

I arrived high in the mountains of the Idaho Rockies in early October, and had dodged a early winter storm, but was now directly in the face of another. I knew getting enough firewood for several days was a priority! Knowing it was going to be covered soon with plenty of wet and cold snow. I began frantically gathering everything I could get with the limited tools I had.

The area was just beginning to rebound from a devastating fire several years ago that came through this area and ultimately burned over 95,000 acre’s of beautiful landscape. So all around me was charred pine trees standing as a memorial of the death and loss. Blackened with the evidence of the fire, yet still a life source for someone else’s warmth and fire. I began to stack the limbs and easily obtainable pieces for my long stay.

Over the many days that I was there God began to unfold a principle and His promise to me. What man defines as a “Has Been or No Good” God defines as better than before and seasoned.

It says in Lev. 6:13, that the priests of God were to keep the fire burning. God had supernaturally started the fire in the tabernacle and temple but man was to keep it burning. And when we think we are beyond burning God has other things in mind! In 1 Kings 18 Elijah soaked the wood and sacrifice three times with gallons of water. (1 Kings   18:33) Then the fire from heaven consumed it and accepted it! Don’t discard what God accepts!

Fire is such a necessity and comfort in survival. Just like the fire of God in our lives! We need it personally; our families need us to be on fire and all those we come in contact with! We must be fire carriers. (Ps.104: 4)

At the end of my stay in the wilderness of Idaho it was evident to me that these blackened and dead looking trees, which had been through a major disaster had now become a life source unto me. I was covered in black soot from head to toe, with hands cut from breaking branches, looking as if I would never be clean again. This so called “burned twice” wood was a life-saver to my existence. What appeared to be burnt out and no good was actually seasoned with fire to the point that it was superior to serve the circumstances that I was living in.

I am not sure if you’re hearing what I am saying or not, but if you think because of the devastation that you have gone through makes you a “burnt out” or a “ has been”. I am here to say you have been letting someone other than God define you! In Matt 12:20 Jesus quotes Isaiah saying, “A bruised reed He will not break,
And smoking flax He will not quench”.

God is not through with you yet! What you think was your ending was God’s equipping grace for your next season. You are now ready to be used for others warmth and survival.             (come back for next week’s    Pt2 – Burn Baby Burn) 

 

Check out TAB – (MOUNTAIN) for pictures and shortly More Video

 

I am not Staying in the Shadow of this Mountain any Longer!

1a - mountian prayerI can still remember the feeling of needing to climb the mountain and get to the summit. I was just entering high school and we had recently moved to the mountains of Idaho. Every afternoon around four our ranch would be in the shadow of the Sun moving behind the mountains and for someone that had lived much of their life in the plains of the potato fields, this was foreign and even brought a claustrophobic feeling. Therefore, I determined to get through the first week of school and then get up early on Saturday morning and climb to the summit of the towering mountain to get another perspective.

 

Even though I was quickly met with the realization that I was out of shape, my inner call to climb the mountain compelled me to make it to the summit. I achieved I stood in awe at the view, it was beyond spectacular, as well as, the air was so refreshing. What it did for my perspective was nothing short of miraculous! From that point on I never had the feeling of being claustrophobic or limited again!

The story of Caleb confronting his long time friend, Joshua the present leader of Israel, reveals his inner cry to achieve the summit of his mountain’s shadow that he stood in for the last forty-five years. In Joshua 14:12-13 we read Caleb’s passionate words to Joshua and all that could hear his voice. “Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day; … And Joshua blessed him, and gave Hebron to Caleb… as an inheritance.

Caleb had seen his inheritance 45 years earlier with his eyes and now he wanted to obtain it. To use a military phrase, he wanted to “put boots on the ground”. He wasn’t going to let another opportunity come and go. We can read the account in Num. 13 where God had instructed Moses years earlier to have a representative from every tribe go spy out the ground that He had given them. But, because of the negative opinion of the majority, an entire generation, other than Caleb and Joshua were coerced to reject God’s promise. Causing them to be plunged back into the wilderness that them came out of until they died and were buried in the sand never to experience the joys of living in God’s promises.

Now, after rewriting the wrong of the previous generation, Caleb doesn’t settle for what each different family is being handed, but he asks for more. Caleb wanted the whole mountain! It wasn’t because he was being greedy or selfish; it was God’s idea to begin with. I believe over time Caleb felt what was given to him by God had years of dividends coming. (Num 14:24, 30) Now this 85-year-old warrior which had plenty of time to make excuses, was determined to make a difference! Even with the haunting giants that stood between him and his victory, he still climbed to the summit of his promise. He wasn’t going to let anyone or their opinions keep him any longer from God’s promise for his life! It was now or never!

There’s a time that we need to step out of the shadow of the mountains that hinder and suppress us and begin to conquer them. It’s only when we reach the summit of that mountain that we will experience the incredible freshness of what God has intended for our families and us. God wants us to change our perspectives by changing our view! It’s time for you to start taking your mountain. Defeating any intimidating giant that might stand in the way of you acheiving God’s promise for your life.

 

Thoughts to Ponder:  

  • Read over the two accounts of Caleb’s story in Num. 13 and Josh. 14 and see if you can see any other characteristics other than his whole hearted commitment to God, that might have helped him to not be a quitter or one that just settled short of God’s best. ?
  • Have you ever felt you have been living in the shadow of a mountain? Maybe it was feeling like you played second fiddle to a sibling or you were not as athletic as some one of your friends? Explain?
  • Think about a promise that God has put in your heart, that you haven’t seen come to pass as of yet. Is there some different things that you could do while your waiting to see them manifest? Write them down and then pray for God’s help to do them.

Quotes to Tweet:

  • We might have plenty of time to make excuses, but instead we should be determined to make a difference!    –   billvirgin.com
  • There’s a time that we need to step out of the shadow of the mountains that hinder and suppress us and begin to conquer them.      –   billvirgin.com
  • God wants us to change our perspectives by changing our view! – billvirgin.com

 

#IamNotStayingInTheShadowOfThisMountainAnyLonger   #MountiansAreToClimb

 

The Women who would not Settle for “No”

1a houndWhen my brother and I were in high school we wanted to get a couple of Black and Tan hound dogs to raise and train, but we knew we must first convince our father to let us have them. I remember that night well; my father was tired and wanted to go to bed so we maneuvered in at this most vulnerable time with a double team strategy. We then popped the question on him with smiles from ear to ear, “can we have two hound dogs”? It was a quick “No” at first. Yet, it only provoked a more passionate plea of “Please, dad just two pups”? We debated back-and-forth continuing late in the night asking for his permission. We pled our case and kept pursing his approval. I remember he kept saying, “No”, we don’t need anymore barking dogs”. But even though he was tired, we kept knocking on the door of his heart until he finally said, “OK, and good night”. Looking back to those times I believe he might have regretted that decision, but in the most part it brought some memorable times together and also strengthened our relationship with him.

In Matt 7:7-12 we read Jesus’ interaction with His disciple in the context of the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus exhorts them in their prayers to ask, seek and knock. In verse 8 we read, ‘For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” He had just used the illustration of the persistent lady who comes to her neighbor late at night for a loaf of bread for her unexpected guests. He then continues the thought with comparing a child asking their earthly father for a need and receiving his response, to our loving heavenly Father. And in verse 11 it says, “…how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him”!

This conversation should fuel our prayer life with power and with confidence as we bring our supplication to God. Unfortunately, many Christians as they stand before the Lord contending for the manifestations of His promises will give up or become offended because of unanswered prayers. Yet, if we interpret Jesus’ word correctly it should instead motivate us to continue fervently. I believe the key to not quitting is developed from having the right perspective of who He is and knowing his heart towards us. We see this message brought out in Matt 15:22-25 where we read the story of a Canaanite women who pursued Jesus in behalf of her daughter that the enemy had in bondage. This woman wouldn’t settle for anything but her daughter’s deliverance! She refused to take “NO” for an answer.

I am convinced this woman was drawn to Jesus by the great things she had probably heard about Him. It is also evident that she was driven by the enormity of her need with the hopes of Jesus being the answer for her daughter. But as we see in this very unusual scene, we quickly come to the conclusion that she had the opportunity to be distracted and discouraged in her pursuit of wholeness for her child. Yet, she would not be discouraged with Jesus’ silence, the contempt by His disciples and the hard doctrine that He declared. Jesus’ action and attitude revealed this women’s tenacious faith and His desire to deliver her child.

Let us learn from Jesus’ words on the mount and through this story become motivated to contend for His goodness to be manifest in the earth and our lives.

 

Thoughts to Ponder:  

  • Think back at a time when you had to really be committed in asking and pursing your parents or someone to get what you wanted and tell the feelings you had and if it made you feel uncomfortable.
  • Have you ever felt put off and belittled?
  • Many times Christian feel it is a lack of Faith to keep asking God about the same unanswered need. Have you ever felt that way or knew anyone that did? Is it a lack of Faith?

Quotes to Tweet:

Many Christians as they stand before the Lord contending for the manifestations of His promises will give up or become offended because of unanswered prayers   –   www.billvirgin.com

Contending and not Settling for anything less than God’s Best      –  www.billvirgin.com

 

#NotSettlingForAnythingLessThanGodsBest              #DontQuickJustBecauseOfDelays

 

 

Quit Giving the Enemy a Foothold in your Life

Nothings worse than standing on one foot trying to balance yourself all the while you’re trying to get out of the pickle your in. Our pasture had a marshy section in it where the creek would over flow and saturate the ground making it hard to walk through with out having some type of a dilemma. At this particular time the suction of the mud monster held onto my rubber boot making my stocking foot come out of the boot. Even though it might be funny, the point is once something or someone gets a foothold on you, you’re either stopped or extremely hindered in your journey.

Paul exhorts the believers in Ephesus as they fulfill the purposes of God in their lives to not make the mistake of giving place or foothold to the enemy. He says, “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. (Eph 4:26-27)

The enemy gets a foothold in our lives when we willfully sin and continue to walk in disobedience, as well as when we are entertaining wrong beliefs and doctrine in our lives that are contrary to God’s word. James teaches us that temptation comes when we are drawn away by our own “desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death”. (James 1:14-15) When we are pulled away by our fleshly desires the enemy waits to ensnare us and fasten his hold on us.

Recently I was in Alaska for a wedding and while heading to our destination on Hwy 1 we were paralleling the Cook Inlet. I was awe struck at the beauty of the mountains cascading into the inlet with a trace of snow up high on the peaks. My driver was explaining how the tide comes in and out at drastic fluctuations levels up to approximately 29 ft. twice a day. When the tide is out, much of it has no water and is just mud. They call it the Mud flats, which have many stories, some fact and some legends of how different ones have gotten stuck.

The mud is supposedly made up of Glacier Silt, which I understand are finer than the sand and are shaped like billions of small angles that lodge together making an airtight seal around anything that happens to penetrate a soft spot. One such story many years ago is of a husband and wife who were going to cross over the mud flats on four wheelers and dredge for gold but in the midst of the process the wife step off into the mud and ended up getting so stuck that they could not get her free before the frigid tide came back in causing her to drown.

Paul encouraged young Timothy to walk worthy before the Lord so not to get ensnared by the devil. (1 Tim 3:7) Jesus said in John 14:30, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me. Jesus who is our example shows us that we can follow His example and live without the devil having a foothold in our lives.

Anytime we venture off the beaten path that God has set for us, walking in places we have no business in, we can get caught in the silk of the enemy. In John’s Gospel we read where Jesus said, “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed”. Jesus came to set us free from the foothold of the enemy. We read in 1 John 3:8 where it says, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil”. So quit giving the enemy a foothold!

Will you be a Garbage Can or a Trash Man?

1a-garbage-can-e1562700052424.jpegTrash talking and gutter gossip is nothing more than fruit from the pit of Hell! (Jas.3:1-12) and it seems to be such a big part of our society. We have TV shows and magazines solely dedicated around slander and gossip. It has always astounded me how different ones can constantly be involved with corrupt communication. Unfortunately, even in the midst of many communities of believers we see the cancer of gossip! But of course we clothe it with religious jargon saying it’s a prayer request. But sadly there never seems to be the prayer just the gossip.

Years ago I was invited to go with a medical team to the Philippines to minister. While I was there we went to a regional garbage dump to minister to a group of people who actually lived on the garbage heaps. These people spent their days rummaging through the toxic garbage from others looking for something of value but only to receive infection and sickness.

In the same manner people that are obsessed with listening and spreading hateful communication are themselves living amongst the most unrighteous mounds of spiritual trash. It is no better than eating out of a dumpster or living on a garage dump rummaging through others refuse. Some people think its spiritual to be a garbage can for others to dump their garbage, but actually we really are to be a trash man. A garbage can will get putrid and smelly and contain germs, but a trash man is one that takes someone’s garbage and puts it in a safe place to be covered up.

Paul exhorts the believers at Ephesus saying, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good …that it may impart grace to the hearers.” (Eph 4:29) The Greek word “corrupt” actually means rotten and worthless words. So Paul is telling us not to be involved in trash talk, but only those things that will uplift and bring grace to others. When you say things that tear others down and is not edifying it is lining yourself up with the devil who is called “the accuser of the brethren in Rev.12:10. The devil speaks evil of us and tears us down before God. In 1 Pet 5:8 it says that he goes about looking for whom he can devour. When individuals openly or secretly gossip they are bearing the fruit of the evil accuser.

I do realize that things that are healthy and living produce refuse and garbage. So therefore without a proper garbage system we would be in big trouble. We must have experienced trash men that are able to get rid of our toxic and disease infested garbage. It is the same in the church… there will be smelly trash and as Prov. 14:4 says there will also be poop in the stall. Therefore, we must decide whether we will be a “garbage can or a trash man” with other peoples garbage.

When we cast the weaknesses of others before the Lord through our prayers as in 1 Pet.5:7 and give biblical support, we are dealing properly with the garbage of others. But when we spread it or rummaging through it we resemble the varmint the scatters the garbage down the street making a bigger mess. Gossip is seldom the complete story or truth being twisted to fit the mood of the one spreading it, not to bring any kind of help.

In comparison to what we see the enemy of our soul doing before God, we see the picture of Jesus in Rom. 8:34 after His finished work on the cross going before the Father as our advocate and intercessor. It goes on to say that nothing will separate us from the love of God. The question we will have to answer is whether we are lining up with the accuser or the intercessor! Will we be a “garbage can or a trash man”! We have a choice.

Sing like Pottery that’s taken out of the Fire

a1 pottery in kilnThe anticipation of getting to see our finished clay pottery was overwhelming. It was almost like being a young child before we were able to open Christmas presents. We had gone to the Potter’s House and learned about the process from start to finish. Then as if with God’s divine grace the potter let each of us young students make our own piece of pottery. But due to the curing and drying time that it entailed before the firing we left them at the potter’s shop. Now a month later and once they were done being fired in the kiln, they were delivered to our art classroom. The buzz of the news went through the school like a wild fire in the dry prairie.

In 2 Tim 2:20-22 Paul writes young Timothy and uses the allegory of a house and furniture to our spiritual man saying, “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work”. Paul in his exhorting Timothy brings out the truth that there are things in our lives that will bring honor to God and His purposes and then there are also things that bring dishonor.

If we will embrace the cleansing and working of God, the Master potter, in our lives we will be purged from anything dishonoring and become vessels of honor. Paul let’s us know that we have a responsibility ourselves as we submit to the potters forming and shaping in our lives. When we yield to His workings then we become useful to the Master and are equipped for His work. To the Ephesians Paul shares this same thought in Eph 2:10, where we read, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them”. Also to the Roman believers Paul says, “Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor”? (Rom 9:20-21)

As I am often taken back to the memory of that tour of the potter’s shop, where I remember the potter saying how the drying time of the clay pottery was so crucial and important. He said it might seem boring, as it should take between 1 to 2 weeks of just sitting and drying, but that you don’t want to hurry the process. When it is prematurely quickened most often it will bring cracks and damage to the clay pot, ending in returning to the soaking and reforming which adds much more time to the process. But when its done right the dry clay pottery goes into the kiln. The kiln is a oven that will perfectly fire the pottery from 1800 up to 2200 degrees. Then to bring beauty and brilliance it is glazed and fired again. When the piece of pottery comes out of the fiery kiln you can tap it with a utensil and it will bring forth a beautiful sound.

In our lives we can see God’s commitment to developing us into vessels of Honor in the same process as the natural potter does to His pottery. We will have times of sitting and drying and seasons of extreme heat being turned up in our lives. Peter says in 1 Peter 4:12-13, “do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice…”. When we embrace the fires in our life, keeping our eyes on Jesus we will be as the pot that sings. Glorifying the Lord!

Just a mound of clay in the Potters Hands!

adult arts and crafts clay dirty

Remember how the school field trips would inspirer you when you were young and inquisitive? There’s one that seems to stand out in my mind. It was when we were taken down along the Snake River to a potter’s house. We were given an extensive tour and explanation of the whole process of digging your own clay from the banks of the river to making of a beautiful finished vase. I can still remember how intriguing it was then and how helpful it has been to me through my life.

This illustration of the potter and clay along with the whole process is played out in many different passages in scripture and has helped me to be acquainted to Gods working in our lives. The scripture says, “We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand”. In the same manner that God fashioned Adam out of the ground He also molds us into His image for our lives. (Gen 2:7, Isa 64:8) On my shelf I have a pitcher that I made from the inspiration of that fieldtrip which is a constant reminder of His molding and shaping of our lives.

We read in Jer. 18:1-9 that even Jeremiah was instructed to go to the potters shed so God could give him understanding on His workings and His will. In verse 3-4, it says, “I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something at the wheel. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make”. Then he says to the children of Israel through this prophet, “…can I not do with you as this potter”? The master potter personally shapes and creates us as a vessel of honor for His service. Just as the man who showed us young students how he takes a raw lump of clay and begins to work it into his desired and planned shape, so the creator does the same with us.

The raw clay that came from the banks of the river was put into a barrel to soak in water. Then once it softens and becomes pliable it was worked over a screen to eliminate any rocks or hardened materials that would cause a flaw in the finished product. Isaiah describes it as the potter treading the clay. (Isa 45:25) It’s the same in our own lives that we must have times of soaking and being worked to get any deposits in our lives out as not to later bring devastation in us. When Jeremiah went down to watch the potter he describes it in such a way, “there he was, making something at the wheel. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again.” (Jer 18:4) You see once the hunk of clay is put on the potter’s wheel, he then begins to spin the wheel and balances the mound of clay adding more water at times making it easier to shape. But if there is any small dry areas or pebbles it will put a defect in the shape as it is being worked. Therefore, the potter then remakes it. As Job declares in Job 10:8-9, “You made me like a handcrafted piece of pottery”. It’s a process with the end masterpiece in mind. (Eph 2:10)

The great potter is at work in us and is trustworthy as He shapes and molds us as He sees fit! Why would we ever question the Potter how he has molded the clay. (Rom 9:20-21) We can be at Peace knowing He has our best interests in mind!

The Resurrection of Jesus demands that we live for Him!

Thankfulness - sunsetOnce a year, most of the world comes together in the celebration of Christ’s triumphant entry, through the Passover, the crucifixion all the way to the empty tomb! Then it’s back to work on Monday as normal. Now, don’t get me wrong I love this season. It reminds me and re-aligns me with God’s purpose and love!

I am so glad the story of Jesus doesn’t stop at the cross or even at His burial? But, come to think about it, why do we even allow the story to stop at the resurrection? The Story of Jesus’ love for you and I goes on and on! It’s not over once the weekend is done, its actually just beginning. I do understand and have no problem with focusing on these three glorious foundational events annually. The basis of the gospel is most definitely the death, burial and resurrection of Christ! (1 Cor 15:1-4)

Yet, if we aren’t students of the scriptures we can miss so many things in the work of Christ. Peter brings to light that Jesus went to the chained demonic angels, who are awaiting their final judgment and proclaimed that His redemption of mankind was completed!(1 Pet 3:19) During these three days Jesus also took back the dominion from the devil that Adam and Eve had turned over to the deceiver(Gen.1:28, Lk 4:6, Col 2:15) , then Jesus gives it back to his children again once He goes to God the Father.(Matt 28:18-19, Jn 20:17-21, Lk 24:39) Where he also presents and leads the first fruits of the believing saints into heaven.(1 Cor 15:20) The story even continues, in the fact that He shows Himself to his followers over the next forty days before the great ascension.(Acts 1:1-2) But even after all this, Jesus which had foretold the disciples earlier (Jn 14:16-21) refuses to leave His followers by themselves, declaring in Acts 1:4-5, “He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father… “you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now’”. The last thing Jesus the resurrected Lord, lets them know before He ascends to the Father in the glory cloud is that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit would empower them to be a witnesses all over the world for Him. (Acts 1:8-10)

What happened on resurrection day is what gives His followers the authority and dominion as His ambassadors and the infilling of the Holy Spirit empowers us to walk victoriously here on this earth. Being confident with our assignment of making disciples and establishing the kingdom of God, knowing Jesus is now seated in heaven next to the Father interceding for us. (Rom 8:34-35) You see, the work of Jesus still continues as He leads us. Not only does Jesus call Himself the Good Shepherd, but also we read in Rev 7:17 that He is still shepherding His people throughout eternity.

Paul writes to the believers in Colosse and says, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith”.(Col 2:6-8) Paul is telling the Christian that once they accepted what Jesus has done for them to continue living their life in the benefits and authority of it. Jesus became our substitution and therefore our redeemer from the bondages of the wicked one. His works enable us and demand us to live a life worthy of His calling with confidence. Therefore let me ask you, “What are you doing with the Message of the Cross? Is it nothing more than fooliness to you or is it the Power of God to be His witness”. (1 Cor 1:17) The resurrection of Jesus demands that we live for Him!

A Chosen Lamb for the Ultimate Sacrifice

11a 3 lamb           As Jesus approaches, John the Baptist boldly proclaims to all those that were around, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” For all of those that heard this statement whether fully or in part understood the ramification and significance of what John was saying.

When my girls were younger we were picked or maybe you could say, “punished” to be the foster parents of a small yearling lamb that we were to go and pick up from a local rancher. Then it would become our responsibility to bring it home and get it ready for the Easter program; which would entail scrubbing and washing, then drying and fluffing its beautiful wool. My young girls were so excited that they could hardly wait to get started on this adventure. I have to admit in the beginning I was looking forward to showing off my country boy upbringing as well. Once we arrived at the ranch, the gracious rancher took us out to a small pen where he was holding some orphan lambs so he could bottle-feed them. After the girls had a time of playing with each of them and falling in love with all of the lambs it was the moment of truth. My sweet young daughters had to pick just one, the right one! As they thought and talked and discussed and looked each one over and over they finally came to a mutual decision.

After thanking the amused rancher, who had a mysterious twinkle in his eyes making me question whether he knew something that maybe we were missing, we headed home. Well, that was only too soon confirmed when hours later this poor little cute innocent lamb was crying out for help from all the pampering and lavish love my girls were giving it. A bath with foaming suds and layers of soap, then hair dryers blowing from every angle with non-stop kisses from each of the girls.

What seemed to be a glorious memory making and life long lesson for my children seemed to come crashing down, when it became time to turn out the lights and go to bed with a sigh of accomplishment.

If only it would have ended with that fairytale ending. It was only moments after putting the lamb in our enclosed back suburban yard with lights turned off with a prayer and a kiss. That this little lamb must have finally came to the realization that something was drastically wrong and began to cry out for the normalcy of the stable. It was during this continual bleating and every home’s light coming on in our sweet quiet and quaint neighborhood, that I had the revelation of the Passover lamb, which was anything but a sweet child’s pet!

The sound must have been deafening in Goshen that night many years ago when God instituted the Passover and the sacrifice of the unblemished lamb in every home. (Ex 12:3-13) Things had been tense anyway as the show down between Pharaoh and God’s servant Moses came to and end. To the Egyptians it was nothing less than a nightmare and to God’s children it was a magnificent beginning to a journey of God unfolding His love for His people as well as continuing to reveal Jesus Christ as the coming redeemer and the Lamb of God.

That night with what started to be a cute cuddly memory for my daughters had turned into a agony of a bleating lamb in my back yard. It seemed to bring another side to this story more than ever; I now understood the ramification and significance of what John had declared more than two thousand years ago. Jesus came to earth to be our Passover lamb. That through receiving Jesus’ agonizing and horrific sacrifice on the cross we might be redeemed from death and walk in a journey of victory as His children. (Luke 22:14-20)

Is God Really Concerned about Borders and Walls?

a2- wallsDoes God think walls are immoral and wrong? In His view, are we being unrighteous and unethical by having a fence or walls on our boarders? Looking at the whole of God’s Word and rightly interpreting it’s message brings a overwhelming understanding that God desires for those that choose to follow His standards to guard and watch out for anything that might be a distraction or hindrance to them. In a time of unrest and injustice God speaks through the prophet in Ezek 22:30 saying, “So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one”. God expects and requires His children to repair and keep the walls effective, not allowing any opposing danger to come in.

My own experience was while growing up each spring, we would have the task of repairing the fences and gates that had fallen down from natural elements, by wild animals or those that had no regard to our property borders. We would load the old yellow four-wheel drive with all the tools that were needed to fix and maintain the fence and walls and head up the mountain. Even though this particular job wasn’t the most easy or enjoyable on the ranch! It was certainly a necessity to secure the things that we


Doesn’t it make common sense to protect our children and keep them safe


held dear to our heart. There were sections that we were able to have fences on, other places that we could only have piled rocks and some places just had barriers like cattle guards, as well as, gates at different locations. It was something we didn’t just talk about but was a constant chore we had to do to keep livestock in and others out.

In the current headlines it is almost overwhelmingly filled with the pros and cons of a border wall. My personal question is, “is it really wrong for us to guard our property or inheritances with a fence or a wall? Doesn’t it make common sense to protect our children and keep them safe, as well as keep out what might hurt them?

Is that wrong or immoral? I understand that there can be abuses at times without monitoring. But, it’s not immoral but on the contrary it is what keeps our morality in tact. Those that think fences, border security and walls are immoral are people that are amoral. In other words they are individuals that are void of or not concerned with any morals or standards at all.

In scripture we see the comparison of natural walls and borders to the spiritual walls and borders we must maintain. A matter of fact in Prov 22:28 it says, “Do not remove the ancient landmark (borders) which your fathers have set.” The scripture is full of exhortations to fill the walls with watchmen, those that keep a lookout for oncoming danger. (Isa 62:6, Isa 52:8, Jer 51:12)

We must be as Nehemiah who was taken into captivity, (Neh. 1-13) and made to serve the Persian King in a culture contrary to God’s standards. He was stirred with a God given burden and through God’s favor and grace rallied his countrymen back in Jerusalem that existed in the rubble of fallen walls and were gripped by fear for the frequent raiding enemies. In the midst of threats and danger they rebuilt the walls and restored the gates. Stopping anything from corrupting God’s plan and standards. It’s time for the children of God to rebuild the walls and standards of righteousness in our land!