Learning to Fly
When I was a boy a neighbor gave me a baby crow. After the crow was about half grown I decided that he needed to learn to fly. I climbed a ladder to the top of our house with my crow (His name was “Rocket.”). Then I dropped him over the side. He fell, then flapped his wings, and landed safely. I repeated the process six or seven times until, finally instead of landing, Rocket flew over to a tree. He now knew how to fly!
An eagle that lives in the mountains does much the same with its young. When the time is right the mother eagle literally tears the nest apart and forces the eaglets to go plummeting toward the earth. Before the eaglet hits the ground the mother eagle will catch the eaglet and bear it up on its wings. The process is repeated until the eaglets can fly. Because the nest has been destroyed the eaglets are forced to begin their own lives.
Have you ever been safe and secure then suddenly your nest has been destroyed? Sometimes God, just like the mother eagle, must nudge us out of our comfort zone. It isn’t always pleasant but then we do want to learn how to fly don’t we? Actually eagles don’t fly they soar on the currents of wind. We want to be able to soar as well on the wind of the Holy Spirit. “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint (Isaiah 41:31).”
Have you ever wondered if you were capable of doing some terrible thing? The truth is that every person is capable of doing evil. I know that it is only the restraining power of God that has kept me from doing some terrible thing.
None of us want to bring embarassment to our friends, family, or community. None of us want to intentionally hurt someone else. But the truth is that life changing and life devastating decisions are often made in the whim of an instant. The decisions of an instant have ruined many a life.
There is, however, one thing that will keep you from doing some terrible thing and at the same time propel you forward to your highest potential in life. That one thing is to be a friend of Jesus. Jesus says in John 15:15 “...I call you not servants...but I have called you friends.”
I know why I’m not in prison today for doing some terrible thing. It’s because I have a friend and that friend’s name is Jesus. If we know Jesus as our personal Savior He is our friend. But on the basis that we maintain human friendships could Jesus call you His friend?
Our Map and Guide
(Revised and posted to new website 03.28.12)
In the mid 1800s wagon trains began to make their way across what is now the United States to that far away land of California. The Stevens wagon train made a safe crossing of the frontier in 1844. They had a great leader in Elisha Stevens. They faced uncharted lands, filled with great dangers. They made a safe crossing because of their excellent leader.
Other wagon trains were not so fortunate such as the Donner group. Because of their poor leadership the crossing ended in disaster with 70 people dying. They were even warned once by, Joseph Walker, one of the most able mountain men in America, that they were on the wrong path.
Life is much like a frontier. It is filled with unknowns. None of us know what tomorrow holds. How much easier it would be if we had a guide, if we had a map. But we do! The Bible tells us in Proverbs 3:1-2, "My son, do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands; For length of days and long life and peace they will add to you." And in Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."
The Bible is our map and the Lord is our guide. But even the best map will not help if it is never opened. Even the best guide in America did not help the Donner group because they would not listen to him. Jesus is the ultimate guide and leader. Are you listening?
In Mark chapter 4 (vs. 35-41) the Bible tells us of the disciples and Jesus being caught in a storm at sea. The disciples are terrified but Jesus is sound asleep. In their terror the disciples cry out to Jesus, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” Jesus “...arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.”
Over the years of living in tornado alley in Oklahoma I remember many times of crying out to God to save me in the midst of storms. One time in particular as a tornado lifted over our roof and resumed its path on the other side. I have watched many newscasts of survivors of tornados testifying of their faith and of their prayers to God in the midst of the terror.
On Saturday evening, June 13, it was with a grim fascination that I watched as tornados again made their way across our state. Through the advance in technology the tornados were watched live. The tornados were filmed through cameras on helicopters, spotter vehicles and live cams now stationed around the state. As the tornados invaded Oklahoma City they skipped seemingly on a random basis from place to place. I watched with fascination as a thin tornado twisted and turned and made a direct hit on a thin sliver of a radio tower. There were only a few minor injuries during this outbreak of twisters.
In the state of Oklahoma there are two 24 hour comtemporary Christian radio stations. One in Tulsa and one in Elk City. There had been three, one in Oklahoma City also, until a week before the storm when a decision was made to drop the station’s Christian format. Was it just a coincidence that one week later a tornado happened to make a direct hit on their radio tower? Could it be that they not only dropped their format but their prayers as well?
God says through the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 33:3), “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” You may be a truck driver, or a dishwasher, or an executive, or a pastor, or have some other occupation but what great and mighty things would God show you if you were to spend an extended time in prayer? What impact would it have upon your life? Upon the lives of countless others? It changed Dawson Trotman’s life forever.
Why not begin to call upon God today in a deeper way than you ever have before? Allow God to reveal to you great and mighty things that you do not know.
The Bible in 1 Samuel 2:3 tells us, “...for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.”
Our lives are filled with actions. Believing upon Jesus as our Savior is an action. Following Jesus in baptism is an action. Praying is an action, and so is reading the Bible, attending church, ministering to others, and witnessing. To choose not to believe, to pray, to read the Bible, etc. is also in each case an action.
Each day we have a choice of actions we can take. The world says take it easy on the God stuff today. The world says you do enough for God on Sunday. But God still weighs our actions each day. What action will you take today for your Lord?
Once when I was learning to drive my Dad gave me some driving advice, “never go backwards, when you can go forwards.” I was having trouble backing the car. He only said it once but it is a profound piece of advice for life, at least for the Christian life.
In Ephesians 6 we are given a list of the armor of God: “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
Notice this armor is for offense, for a forward attack. There is no back plate or a back shield. When we withdraw from the spiritual battle, when we draw back from God, we are less protected than we are in the thick of the battle. Let us never go backwards when we can go forward with our Lord.
A man in prison once wrote to me sharing what his life had been like before he had met Christ as his Savior. He confessed that he had been a serial killer. He was a trucker driving cross country and had killed several people in different states. However, his conscience would not let him rest and he finally went to authorities confessing to them his crimes.
After being sent to prison for life he found Jesus as his personal Savior. He stated to me in his letter that even though he was in prison, through Christ, he was freer than he had ever been in his life. If a serial killer in prison can be forgiven by our Lord we can be as well. In 1 John 1:9 we have a precious promise, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
As the Spirit searches your heart are you confessed up? Is there anything keeping you from being FREE in Christ today? Is there anything hindering the fellowship between you and your Lord?
God’s Marvelous Creation
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. - 2 Corinthians 5:17.
Through the LORD's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. - Lamentations 3:22-23.
This past week (In 1998), I was in a place of great natural beauty, at a children's camp. The camp was surrounded on three sides by granite mountains. The Quartz Mountains are located in the southwestern part of Oklahoma. On the one side without a mountain was a beautiful view of a lake, and more mountains in the background. The beautiful setting seemed to cry out, "there is a God," "there is a God," "there is a God."
I noticed though, that by the end of the week, I was taking the beautiful setting for granted. I no longer thought consciously of the beauty of the place. Before I left on Friday, I made myself pause, and think again of God's beautiful creation.
The apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." If we know Christ Jesus as our Savior, we are a new creation, all things have become new. But too often, we tend to take for granted that new creation that we have become. We take for granted, the beautiful new life that the Holy Spirit has breathed into us, much as I took God's natural creation for granted by the end of last week.
Let us pause each morning, and remember again our new birth. Let us remember again, the peace, the joy, and the love that flooded our souls when God took up residence within us. Let us marvel at His mercies, which are new every morning.
God says this about Abraham in Genesis 18:19, “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.”
What is it that God knows about us? Have we been faithful, are we the example to our children that we should be? The apostle Paul tells us to walk in his steps because he is following in the steps of Jesus. Can our children and others follow in our steps because we are walking in the steps of Jesus?
Why not commit ourselves this day to follow our Lord Jesus. Then some glorious day God will be able to say about us, “I know him, or I know her... that they shall keep the way of the Lord.”
What is the secret of success? People have through the ages sought after success. Great numbers of books have been written about how to obtain success. Seminars are given almost every day in the larger cities on how to have success. Large amounts of money have been paid to know how to succeed in life. The world has sought after the answer to the secret of success in all the wrong places.
The Bible has the answer to the secret of success in Joshua 1:8. God’s instructions to Joshua are still His instructions to us today: “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.”
The secret of real success is free! Are you reading the Bible daily? Are you studying the Bible, meditating upon the Bible, and memorizing the Bible?
If not, why not begin today?
Psalm 37:5, “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.”
Are you covered up with problems, adversities, and tribulations? The Psalmist says, “Commit....” A commitment is a decision that we must make to trust our lives, complete with heartaches and problems and everything else, to the Lord. Which means that we give all of that to the Lord and if we give it to Him we don’t take it back. Trust means to trust whether the answer comes immediately, or it takes years, or even if we never see the answer we want. But when commit ourselves to God and trust like that then we will have peace in the midst of the storm.
An old hymn called “Leave It There” by Charles A. Tindley puts it like this:
“If your body suffers pain and your health you can’t
And your soul is almost sinking in despair,
Jesus knows the pain you feel,
He can save and He can heal -
Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.”
Why not take your burdens to the Lord even now and leave them there?
Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”
In South Africa during droughts I have heard that you can sometimes see and amazing sight; deer defying lions in order to drink at the river. Their thirst will not be denied. They must have water or die.
Spiritually as Christians we are either moving forward or moving backwards. There is no status quo for the child of God. In our own lives there will be spiritual starvation unless we have a continual intake of the spiritual, such as: the Word of God; prayer; and, fellowship with other Christians.
The question we should ask ourselves is how thirsty are we? Are we thirsty enough to defy that old lion, the devil, who is going to and fro across this world seeking whom he may desire? Are we thirsty enough to go to church this Sunday? Are we thirsty enough to wake up each day and spend some time reading God’s Word and praying? Are we thirsty enough to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him?
The Psalmist says in Psalm 90:2, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth, and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting thou art God.”
There is a God and according to the Psalmist our days are numbered before we meet Him face to face. In verse 10 of Psalm 90 the Psalmist says, “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is there strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.”
In verse 12 the Psalmist says, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” The point is that there is a God, there will be an end to our physical life, and so we should make each day count. We should make each day count for God. How will you make this day count for God?
God’s definition of a happy person: “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” (Psalm 1:1-2)
God says the result of that kind of happiness is, “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” (Psalm 1:3)
Let us delight ourselves in the Law of the LORD and plant our lives by the river of life. Then we will see our lives bring forth fruit and our lives will prosper as our roots sink deeper and deeper into the Law of the LORD.
Are you in the midst of problems? Troubles? Uncertainty? Without hope? Whatever it is God says, “Selah!” Psalm 46 is where many through the ages have turned to find hope. It is where Martin Luther found the inspiration to write the hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God....”
“Selah,” is a musical term to the extent that it is understood. It means to take a break, or pause. In Psalm 46 after verse 3 there is the word, “Selah” and also after verse 7. Then, comes verse 10 with, “Be Still!”
In the midst of our problems and troubles and modern world of constant activity, God says, “Be still, and know that I am God....” He is still God. He can still give you peace which is beyond human understanding. He can still make all things work to the good. Verse 11 says, “The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge, SELAH."
Allow God to be your fortress today, SELAH!
James 1:12, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.”
Most of the time when we think of the crowns that we will receive from God for faithfulness we look to that time when we are in Heaven. However, I believe that every time we are obedient to our Lord we receive a crown of life. With each step of obedience, each step of holiness we become more alive, crowned with more and more life. With each step of obedience the next step becomes easier. The more life we have the more power we have to take that next step toward becoming transformed into the image of our Lord.
How long during each day are you truly alive, awake to life? We can live more, we can be more alive, as we live our lives with each step of obedience, each step of faithfulness that we take. Why not allow God to crown your life with LIFE today?
Hebrews 12:3, “Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men so that you do not grow weary and lose heart.”
So many times when things begin to go wrong in our lives the temptation is to focus on what is wrong. It may be the lack of money, a relationship problem, a physical illness, an addiction, or you may be facing something even worse. As we focus in on those bad things our attention is taken away from our Lord and the things of God. As a result we begin to feel worse and worse about our situation, about our life.
The Bible tells us the solution in Hebrews 12:3. If we don’t want to grow weary and lose heart. If we don’t want to give up and grovel in defeat. If we get tired of having a pity party all the time then the solution is before us. The solution is to put our focus upon Jesus and the things of God. Intentionally shift our focus from the bad to the good. As we do so we will find the strength to continue on even in the worst storms that life sends our way.
Our Lord says, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.”
This verse must be a primary rule of life for those who would overcome, for those who would be super conquerors. If we seek after holiness then we will see that the other things such as joy, happiness, satisfaction, and yes, sometimes even the material will be taken care of for us. However, if we seek after happiness, and the things of this world we will never really obtain enough and never be satisfied. Only in seeking after the things of God will we find the flowing waters of life that quench the spiritual thirst.