The Clean Heart

In a distant land, rural poor natives had gathered in the center of their community to witness the annual event.

From the hilltops to doorways of village huts, young and old have assembled in their best and most colorful outfits to observe the sacrifice of bulls and goats.

Old men sing in high pitched voices a song unknown to Americans, as the deep base drum drowns on in the background.

Well-developed young men have lassoed one animal after the next into the center of the village. There the living things will be beaten and forced onto the bloody dirty ground. Here, they will be gutted to death alongside the other slain animals.

The crowd watches with anticipation as each creature struggles with all its might to break free from the ropes, slipping about on the already bloodied ground.

To westerners such a practice is seen as brutal and horrific to any witness. Yet, similar types of services were held on bloody altars of our Jews ancestors not so many years ago.

Ezekiel 18:4:20 proclaims that sins require death. Romans 6:23 phrases it this way…”For the wages of sin is death.” How many of us as kids remember learning Hebrews 9:22? “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin,” (KJV.)

Atonement for man’s sins in the Old Testament was accomplished with the blood of animals on the tenth day of the seventh month of each year (Lev. 17:11.) From the New Testament forward, the shed blood of Jesus atones for our sins.

Hebrews 10:4 makes it clear that the blood of bulls and of goats could not take away our sins. The only perfect spotlessly clean sacrifice for our sins was and is our Lord Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 9:11-14.)
Without the healing cleansing power of His sacrifice, little American kids might be standing a village crowd watching as their family livestock (pets perhaps) were being sacrificed for their sins.

In our sterile and spotlessly clean sanctuaries, it’s too often easy to forget the violent bloody cost of our atonement.

Won’t you take a couple of minutes this morning to thank your Lord and Savior for his mind-boggling sacrifice so that you and I can worship with a clean heart? Have a great day and week!

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Sticky Thoughts

Some thoughts are tasty little morsels that stick to your fingers like Kentucky Fried Chicken. Others – not so much.

Too many of us are plagued by hurtful words that have ripped into the fabric of who God created us to be. Words like, you’re stupid or ugly wedge into our minds. They color our concept of self and darken attitudes.

Questions like, “Do you think you’ll ever amount to anything?” can compel a son or daughter toward perfectionism. Then when the unavoidable failures come the child is convinced they really are a screw-up.

It’s inevitable that hurtful, unkind, and cruel phrases will be hurled at us every day by people who have grown up wounded themselves. However, as adults we can’t allow these words to become fixed in our brains, bonded to our minds with Gorilla glue or tape. (That is one strong adhesive.)

Instead, we have to allow Holy Spirit to dislodge false assumptions and replace them with thoughts of who we are in Christ. Instead of letting our spotlight focus negative impressions from the past, we have to think on the positive. Remembering the promises He has given to us in His word.

We can control what we think. So “Think carefully about what is right and stop sinning.” (1 Cor. 15:34.) “Stop being selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself.”(Philippians 2:3 -NLT)

As Philippians 4:8 tells us, our thoughts need to be fixed on things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and worthy of praise.

Hebrews 13:7 tells us to “Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith.” (NLT)

My prayer for each of you today is that it will be filled with clear, self controlled thinking. Have a great day and weekend!

Fixed Eyes

Hebrew 12: 2 states, “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the same, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

The idea of “fixing” our eyes speaks of positioning or having a permanent focus on Jesus. He (Jesus) is the designer and will one day bring to a completion our faith. As an author I know what he means here.
The Author is someone who thinks the whole thing up. Jesus did that for us before the foundations of the world were created. This thing (our faith) continues on, but will have a definite end. We’ll have no need for a faith in heaven because Jesus will be all that we see. He will light up all of heaven for us.

In the meantime, I love the encouragement that The Message paraphrase version gives to Hebrews 12: 2 & 3. I pray that it encourages you as it did me today in my walk of faith:

“Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

Have a great day!

Are You Opinionated?

The answer is always yet. However, the real question is should I share something or keep my mouth shut.

It’s always easier to comment on the idea or circumstance instead of taking the time to get to know the person better and understanding the situation from their point of view.

If God has given each of us a free will then what makes us think that we have a right to control another persons’ behavior?

Loving detachment lets others make their own choices about actions and conduct. Too often our opinions can be perceived as prejudged or narrow minded. If we’re not vigilant a simple commentary can spin out of control into a war of words.

It does us good to remember if something doesn’t affect us directly, it’s likely none of our business. Love and acceptance will always build bridges to understanding.

The first two verses of I Corinthians thirteen remind us…”If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophesy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possess all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing, “NLT.

“Heavenly Father, we ask today that you will help us to simply judge ourselves and place a guard over our mouths before becoming confrontational with others. Give us strength to hold our words of criticism and build bridges of love, acceptance, and understanding. We ask this in the strong and mighty name of Jesus. Amen. “

Resemblance

Family resemblances can be uncanny. Growing up, I had convinced myself that I had been adopted. I looked nothing like my brothers or parents. In spite of the fact that my wife and I moved away over thirty years ago and only see my family a few times a year, these days the likenesses are creepy. I had no idea I’d grow up to look so much like my father or resemble my brothers.

Family resemblance may occur with genetics, but I’ve found it doesn’t work that way in God’s family. If we want to become more like our Lord and Savior we have to be intentional.

A.J Gossip puts it this way. “You will not stroll into Christ likeness with your hands in your pockets, shoving the door open with a careless shoulder. This is no hobby for one’s leisure moments, taken up at intervals when we have nothing much to do and put down and forgotten when our life grows full and interesting. It takes all one’s strength, and all one’s heart, and all one’s mind, and all one’s soul, given freely and recklessly without restraint.”

Christ must become our top priority. He is the one thing we can and should be passionate and intense about. Others will think we’ve gone overboard and are obsessed with religion. Nonetheless, if His true likeness is ever going to manifest in us, we have to put an end to those sins that separate you from Him and His presence. Dig into God’s Word and find the life giving truths. Ask Holy Spirit to renew your strength, vigor, and determination to become like Christ. Refuse to move backward to the old ways of doing things.

“Heavenly Father, I ask today that you will empower us to aggressively become more like Christ. Please give us the wisdom and grace we’ll need to walk in His ways and accomplish all that He has planned before time for us to carry out. In the strong and mighty name of Jesus I ask this. Amen. Have a great day!

For previous Tude Talk posts go to: https://tudetalk.wordpress.com/

Clogged

The continuous blast of water through your earlobe is no fun. However, when the blockage continues for a week or more there are few options available.

Even finding a doctor’s office with a nurse willing to squeeze water through a syringe into your ear is difficult. I know – Yuck.

Nonetheless, for people like me who accumulate excess ear wax, preventive measures are a must.
While ministering on the earth, Jesus encounter people with hearing issues and wanted to heal them. In Matthew 13:15, He speaks of those whose eyes could not see, ears couldn’t hear, and hearts devoid of understanding – yet they refused to let Jesus heal them. Why?

1 Corinthians 2:8-10 states: “But the rulers of this world have not understood it; if they had, they would not have crucified our glorious Lord. That is what the scriptures mean when they say, ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.’ But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets.” (NLT)

As Gentile believers we have been given the Messiah the Jews still reject. We can hear and receive what they haven’t.

David Brainerd, a theologian of the 17th Century, understood the importance of spiritually keen ears. He states: “In the silences I make in the midst of the turmoil of life I have appointments with God. From these silences I come forth with spirit refreshed and with a renewed sense of power. I hear a voice in the silences and become increasingly aware that it is the voice of God.”

When you pray are you making appointments for silences with God or monopolizing the conversation? Why not focus on the former? Have a great day!

Jilted

Eric had waited four weeks to see Jill, after she left for college. Last night, he picked out some new clothes and even got a haircut. They had been high school sweet hearts for the last two years. His teachers had warned Eric that he wasn’t “college material,” but he could care less. He had a good job as a roofer and was attending the Vo-Tech school at night to become an electrician. Eric ignored the guys shouting to him on the roof , He had to catch this text. It was from Jill.

Almost slipping off the roof, Eric sat down to catch his balance. There would be no date tonight or weekend to remember. Jill had just broken up with him. Via text. A TEXT? Dejected and depressed he returned to work, but couldn’t concentrate. Without his head in the game there was nothing left to do, but go home early.

A weekend with nothing to do didn’t help Eric’s loneliness. Jill had been his world. How could she have found someone new so quick? Thoughts of self doubt and insecurity bombarded his mind. His prayers to God weren’t getting above the ceiling. In his attempt to get closer to Jill he had cut everyone else off.
Trudging through his Bible, he saw the Psalms he had marked in middle school. Some of them began to jump off the page at him. He remembered King David’s depression.

Eric tried to pray, but his nerves were jangled. He wondered how King David prayed when he couldn’t get the words out. Did sighs, groans, or tears count as prayers? If so then he’d been praying all day.
Eric knew a better mood wouldn’t help. There was no way he clean up his sins first before coming to God.

He could see now that Jill had become his idol.

When the words wouldn’t come, Eric moved to his knees beside the bed. It was there in that tiniest movement of contrition that God responded by bringing to his mind a picture of the prodigal son. He could see his Father running down an old country road to hug him. All of a sudden a warmth and deep sense of peace had invaded Eric’s room. He knew it wasn’t the end of loneliness and that his relationships would have to be repaired, yet he had been reunited with his most important friend that sticks closer than a brother.

Like Eric, we don’t have to spend our lives lonely and stuck. God’s hand of love and forgiveness is always outstretched. Make sure you’re united with Him before beginning this day. Have a great weekend.

Marginal Influence?


The other day, I heard a trusted mentor made this statement regarding addiction. “If the addict has no motivation to change then you have no influence over the situation.”

Right away, my mind agreed with the statement (based upon previous experience) However the Holy Spirit wouldn’t let false idea pass. It was true that my nagging moralizing words had lost their power.

Nonetheless, my attitude, body language, and prayers could still blast through his strongest fortress.
I could hear 1 Corinthians 13:8 – “Love never fails.” (Change your attitude.) I needed to take the hands off my hips and remove the scowls and smirks from my face. The eye rolling had to go and the gestures of superiority. My prayers could no longer be restricted to sobriety and a longing for him to “just grow up.” The prayer needed to be for a tenderization of his heart. Like a marinade, I others needed to be close enough to the addict for God’s penetrating love to soften his heart.

It’s easy to get discouraged when our help and counsel are rejected. Yet, that’s the time when we have to press past our own discomfort and stay – often in the uncomfortable silence of the situation. Nevertheless, as we settle in – God’s strength and wisdom comes. Often it’s the intensity of the pressure that breaks the hardened heart. Pray for the power of His grace to stand in the gap, adjust your body language, and alter the attitude.

Thomas a Kempis once said, “Endeavor to be always patient of the faults and imperfections of others, for thou hast many faults and imperfections of thine own that require forbearance. If thou art not able to make thyself that which thou wishest how canst thou expect to mold another in conformity to thy will?”

I’m sorry to say I often haven’t lived out forbearance – but I want to learn. Real love is a struggle for us all and often something that we have to ask God to do through us.

Have a great day!

Perishing

It’s the one thing we try to forget and something we can’t escape from. These outward bodies are slowly fading. 2 Corinthians 5:1 paints a beautiful metaphor of what takes place: “For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down… we will have a have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God Himself and not made by human hands.” (NLT)

Giving up the ghost, doesn’t have to be something we fear. Often what we fear most is the pain leading up to our passing. Matthew 10:28 warns us not to become preoccupied with those who can kill our body; instead we should be concerned with the one who can kill body and soul. Because of John 25:24, we know that by hearing God’s word and believing it, we’ll pass from death to life.

Someone once said, “You’ll never be younger than you are today.” Today, this day – you have more potential than you’ll ever have to accomplish all that God has for you. The cool thing is that tomorrow you will be able to make the same proclamation.

Perhaps we’ll always be tempted to ignore the fragility of life. Nevertheless, God wants us to capitalize on every moment. It’s always easier being lazy or to ignore the spiritual goal’s He has assigned for another day. Be encouraged by Frederick Faber’s words: “Every moment of resistance to temptation is a victory.”

Embrace the reality that you are perishing and take hold of every opportunity. Have a great day!

For previous Tude Talk posts go to: https://tudetalk.wordpress.com/

Do your ears itch?

2 Timothy 4:2-4, Tells us to: “Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itchy ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths, “(NLT.)

If we begin rejecting good, wholesome, healthy teaching meant to caution and encourage us, the only other thing we can cling to are myths. The New King James calls them fables, yet in reality anything that is not truth is a lie.

Titus 1:2 informs us that God can not lie. Revelation 21:23 includes lying as something those who are saved should not enter into. Colossians 3:9 warns Christians not to lie to each other. Lying is serious to God and even our “little white lies” are a disgrace to God.

If you have itchy ears scratch them, but don’t get in the habit of only listening out for what sounds good to you. Too often these words aren’t based upon the truth of God’s word.

Remember what Jesus said? “I am the way, the TRUTH, and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6. NLT.) Make it a point today to not let your itchy ears draw you away from THE TRUTH. Reject the fables.

For previous Tude Talk posts go to: https://tudetalk.wordpress.com/