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If You Say So

'Master,' Simon replied, 'we worked hard all last night and didn't catch a thing. But if you say so, I'll let the nets down again.'"  Luke 5:1-11 There were many times when my kids were growing up that they were less than enthusiastic about a request I would make of them. The infamous "Why?" question with the sassy twang. The power eye roll as they walked away. The finger pointing at a sibling. I heard and saw it all. Their unwillingness to be responsive to what they had been told to do would occasionally result in consequences far worse than the request itself. More often, however, a firm "because I said so" was sufficient to motivate obedience.   Fishing and not catching is a real bummer, especially if catching is required to pay your bills. Peter and the boys were in just such a place. All night. No fish. As the sun began to rise, they made their way to shore, beached the boats and pulled their nets out to remove the debris that rem

Sparked

"When they heard the words of the prophet Haggai, whom the Lord had sent, the people feared the Lord."  Haggai 1-2 Recently, a rather extensive home improvement project has been occupying the nooks and crannies of my schedule. My son-in-law knows how to build things. I am a highly trained "go-for". If I have to figure something out for myself, it takes a long, long, long time and several trips to YouTube. Typically, I measure five times and cut four times and then I start over. My sweet wife can see the frustration building and she comes in to tell me how great it's going and how proud she is of me. Like magic, my enthusiasm is sparked and I'm ready to build cathedrals! The people of Israel needed a spark too. They were in the promised land, but everything was still a wreck from the time they were conquered by the Babylonians. They tried to plant crops, but the yields were awful. While down and discouraged God sent Haggai with a message. They had built the

A/C or Souls?

"'Then the Lord said, 'You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly. But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn't I feel sorry for such a great city?'"  Jonah 1-4 As we pulled into the gas station, I only had one thing on my mind -- my large Diet Dew. The car was barely parked before my door was opened. My feet barely touched the ground as I was flying towards the entrance. The crazy automatic doors were way too slow and I nearly smashed my face into them. It wasn't until I was about to open the car door with my new treasure in hand that I noticed two young women right in front of the store struggling to change a flat tire. Embarrassed, I put my drink in the car and went over and put on their spare tire. Jonah had a hard time with the assignment God had given him. He wanted justice for the Assyrians not mercy. God, however, pref

Dew in the Sunlight

"'O Israel and Judah, what should I do with you?' asks the Lord. For your love vanishes like the morning mist and disappears like dew in the sunlight." Hosea 6 & 7 On one of my visits to an elderly church family member, I greeted her with the familiar, "How are you doing?" Her response was priceless. "I'm finer than frog's hair!" she said. I had never heard that expression before. At first, I didn't know if that was good or bad, but her big grin gave it away. Basically, it means that one is doing tremendously well. The turn of phrase is meant to draw special attention to the intensity of how good one is feeling. Words can paint both beautiful and disturbing scenes in our minds.   As God was giving his message to Hosea the prophet for his people, he used powerful expressions that hit us as hard as hit them thousands of years ago. God was describing their love for him using everyday realities as a point of constant reminder -- vanishi

As Jesus Did

"Those who live in God should live their lives as Jesus did." I John 2:1-17 I received a piece of counsel many years ago that has served me well when I have heeded it. Basically, it was, "Find someone who is where you want to be and find out how they got there." If you see a marriage that you would like to have, get close to that couple. Ask questions. Observe. Follow in their footsteps. Ditto with career progress, financial management, friendships, parenting, spiritual maturity, etc. Wisdom must be mined. We can't know what we don't know, but we can choose to actively learn.    John was Jesus' best friend. He knew him up close and personal and wanted nothing more than to honor him with his life. He was the disciple who lived into old age. The others were all killed. He wrote this letter decades after Jesus ascended to heaven, but his heart and mind were filled with the memories and the character of his friend. To know God is to love God is to obey God -

For You

"He paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless spotless Lamb of God. God chose him for this purpose long before the world began, but now in these final days, he was sent to the earth for all to see. And he did this for you." I Peter 1:19-20 As we opened the front door, we were met by our daughter who was wearing a gigantic grin on her face. A wonderful smell filled the air. We walked into the kitchen which was immaculately clean where the table was set with a nice tablecloth, linen napkins, flowers, and candles with instrumental jazz completing the atmosphere. The meal was delicious and the fellowship sweet. "I just wanted to do something special for you." she said.    As Peter was writing to Jesus followers who were in the fires of persecution, he wanted to remind them of how much God loved them. He was very detailed about it so they wouldn't miss a thing. He's loved you from before the beginning. He spared no expense in covering your d

Watchman

"Now, son of man, I am making you a watchman for the people of Israel. Therefore, listen to what I say and warn them for me." Ezekiel 33   I read a story some time ago about Alexander the Great. One restless night he walked out of his tent to stroll through the camp of his massive army. He came upon one of the soldiers on guard duty who was sound asleep. After being woken up, the man was mortified as the punishment was immediate execution. Alexander looked him in the eyes and demanded his name. "Alexander," the man sheepishly replied. After a brutally painful pause, Alexander the Great said, "It's time for you to live up to your name."   Ezekiel the Prophet had a seriously tough job. Time and again the Lord gave him some of the most difficult and unusual assignments that a prophet had been given in the Bible. In today's chapter, we find Ezekiel given another responsibility -- Watchman. He now carried the extra burden of non-stop guard duty. He was