Gift of G_d

Good morning,

A thought crossed my mind this morning after something my wife said yesterday. In a group conversation, she said, “my name means ‘Gift of G_d’”. As I reflected on this comment, I thought about how each of us is a “Gift of G_d”. the problem is, that the way we live our life is like the exterior wrapping that is meant to conceal what is inside. We do not fully fathom the depths of the gift of our life because we see the way we have wrapped the gift and frown on the package compared to other people’s gifts. Yet, our gifts are just as important and just as vital but we withhold them because we consider them “unimportant”. When G_d looks at the gift we are giving, he doesn’t see the exterior package nor the way it is wrapped, He sees the heart and cherishes the gift eternally.

When we present our gift to G_d and subsequently to our spouse, family, friends, and coworkers, we will either present it like Cain or like Able. As you know, Cain picked the first thing he found and presented it as a gift to the Lord. Able picked the fattest and most succulent lamb for his offering. Able’s gift received a smile from the Lord while Cain’s was frowned on (Genesis 4:1-16). By frowning on Cain’s gift, it did not mean that G_d did not cherish Cain but that He knew Cain could do better if he just put a little more effort into it. The problem is that Cain misunderstood and this led to jealousy and then to murder. In the same way, when our gifts look paltry compared to a person who puts a lot of effort into their life and by it strengthen their gift, we think “I’ve failed” and so we shrink back. When that person is promoted, noticed, and admired, the human tendency is to become “jealous and envious” and this leads to war.

I want to go on record today by saying, “G_d does not give our crowns for half-hearted efforts.” What we present to G_d is also the same gift we give to our families, spouses, friends, and the world at large. When we use our gifts to inflict pain on the world around us, we also inflict pain on the Kingdom of G_d (Matthew 25:15-41). I want you to know that the gifts you possess will neither grow nor shrink back unless you take purposeful efforts to alter them or to “grow them”. Each of you is just as important as every other person in this world.

My prayer for you today is that you will grow your gifts as big as your imagination so that fruit will come from your life that will feed others.

Father,

Please be with my families,  law enforcement officers, EMTs, military, city, state of Minnesota, and my USA.

IHS

Psalms 136_in_Reflection

What G_d has Done

Good morning,

When I read Psalms 136, some things stood out in my mind that I want to share with you.

  1. “Thanks for the Lord’s Goodness to Israel”. When you read this Psalm, it is tempting to believe that G_d is only speaking to Israel. Reciting the Psalm and accepting it in your heart are two different things. Paul said, “Not all Israel is Israel” (Romans 9:6-7). The Psalmist not just speaking to Spiritual Israel or those who are in covenant with him and honor it, he speaks to the whole nation. In the same way, His word speaks to the world at large but applies to people in covenant. The same message that was spoken to Israel also speaks to the world in the 21st Century (Malachi 3:6-7). When you return to G_d that is, “turning your heart and mind to Him”, He will refill your life and this Psalm will become the lifeblood of your relationship with Him (Malachi 3:8-12).
  2. Who do we give thanks to? Everything we possess belongs to G_d (Hebrews 2:10-18) which means our gifts and talents that enable us to earn an income to meet our needs, lands to cultivate our food, family ties to strengthen us, and/or the mind to understand what He has done in our life. Sometimes we need to step outside of our life and look inward then we can understand that “it wasn’t us that build our life it was the Lord of lords and the G_d of gods (2-3).” The world gives thanks to its “gods” like the god of materialism for all that G_d has provided and because of it get entangled and trapped.
  3. What has He Done? Think about all that He has done in your life, think about the storms he has brought you through, the disasters that came and left, and lives we have seen go before us. We easily attribute all of the bad things that have happened in our lives to be “G_d’s handiwork” like the death of a child because of suicide, a marriage that wasn’t mended, and/or the traffic ticket we received. We do not as easily credit the good things that G_d has done that we abused, the doors He has opened that we did not enter, the counseling we refused to listen to, and/or the skills and talents he has given us that we did not make use of. When we live in a place long enough, we become blind to the beauty that surrounds us and it takes a tourist to help us see the natural beauty of our homeland. In 2020 we were and still are tangled with Covid 19 and it was seen as a “curse” but, when we open our eyes and ears, we see that G_d has turned the disaster into a blessing. Before COVID 19, people spent their income at different venues now, they seek the linking of family. G_d has done marvelous things in our life, we just don’t recognize it.

We are G_d’s magnum opus His marvelous work. Our bodies contain 60 miles of veins, a heart that keeps working even while we sleep, and as we age our body adapts to the changes (Psalms 139:14).  May your find peace in all that you do today.

Mike

All of my writings can be found at http://www.mikesencouragement.net

 

Heaven or Hell?

Good morning,

A thought crossed my mind this morning, we hear a lot about “Heaven” and “Hell” and where we live for eternity. We don’t fully understand, though, that even while we live we can also have Heaven or Earth depending on our choices and that of others. In the Mesopotamian story of the “Garden of Eden”, Adam Eve had everything they needed and didn’t know about life outside of the Garden.  The Devil, or the Serpent of old, had to break up this happy party; to do this, he created “conflict” by pointing at the  “The beautiful Apple hanging within hand’s reach”. The apple could have been just an ordinary apple on the tree but, to Eve it was intoxicating “I can be like the Creator and know the difference between good and evil”. Once the choice was made to take a harmless bite, sin had been conceived; Eve enticed Adam, and life for them changed irrevocably. Mankind was taken from the beautiful garden and placed in a prune pit”. An angel guarded the entrance to the garden so that mankind could not traverse between the two realities (Genesis 3:17-24). The beautiful skies that provided rain in the proper season became bronze and the fertile ground became iron (Deuteronomy 28:23). You see, we live and die by the quality of our choices (Mike Krier). In the same way, we also cannot live in two disapparate realities, we will either choose to live in a prune pit or live according to G_d’s will and desire. We can have “Heaven on Earth” or we can have “Destruction”.

Sin breaks the heart of G_d because he created mankind to be in a relationship with Him. G_d did not warn us to “sin not” because he wants a pristine person to be his Poster Child; He said it because He knows the hell it unleashes in our lives and those who proceed us. G_d absolutely knew what would happen upon taking a simple, little, harmless bite. In the same way, we warn our children about the pitfalls that they will face because of ill-chosen choices.

We do not just show up on G_d’s doorstep and say, “Hi I want to live in your kingdom how about making some room for me”. Turning our life around begins at the blood-stained cross of Calvary (Romans 5:12-21). We can either continue to crucify our hearts for the choices we made or accept Jesus’ grace and mercy by letting his blood atone for our sin. Having our sins forgiven doesn’t give us the golden ticket to paradise, it paves the way for us to put our life back on the correct moral compass. If or when we commit a crime, we are not given a “get of prison free” card, we are given the strength and courage to be accountable for our actions and slowly leave the land we are in. When we bring destruction in our family (Proverbs 11:28), being forgiven will not cause us to open the door to our home and find life as it once was; we will, however, be granted the strength and courage to face what we did.

Mike

All of my writings can be found at http://www.mikesencouragement.net

One Size Fits All

Good morning,

One of the many strange words that Jesus uttered the one that sticks in my mind is “In my Father’s house there are many rooms. I am going there to prepare a place for that where I am you will be also” (John 14:2). This snippet is quoted during funeral services as encouragement for the family that their loved one will be in Heaven waiting for them. For the disciples, it was an encouragement to continue and press onward (Phillipians 3:14) in other words, “the ministry doesn’t end with me and it is not a “one size fits all”. Each of us has different qualities, skills, and passions because of that, the ministry outreach has to be diverse and willing to adapt to the needs of an ever-changing world. G_d is ok with using our flair in developing our ministry.  People that come to salvation are welcome no matter where they are in life, how bad or good their financial status may be, marital status, etc – they are all welcome and there is and will always be room for them. The people coming to salvation will learn for a season and can branch out. For us to dwell in G_d’s house, we must understand, just like the disciples had to understand, that our headship is Christ Jesus (Colossians 1:16-18).

Today, just like a generation ago,  churches have to meet the ministerial needs of the people. A  church on one side of town may be different from a church on the other side but both are churches of the Sovereign Lord Jesus. Each of us is entitled to our theological differences and G_d ministers to each of us where we are but that doesn’t mean “that’s how G_d does things”. When Peter ministered to the Roman Centurian, he was called on the carpet for violating Jewish law by eating with a Roman until Peter fully explained the situation and how he was led by the Spirit of G_d (Acts 11).  If we can get past our theological differences and work together we can accomplish a whole lot more than we can as separate entities.  For the disciples this meant people working together in a union or family unit despite the things that separate them.

In the synoptic Gospels, each of the writers addressed the words of Jesus from separate perspectives but all told the same story. When you look at the book of John, it ministers to the diaspora or, “dispersed people of Judah” explaining that Jesus was/is the Messiah of G_d. Matthew ministered to the Jews, Luke, and later the book of Acts was to the greeks or non-Jewish audience, and Mark or John Mark (Acts 15:36-39) to the 1st-century church which was a composite church that is, it had greeks and Jews. The central focus of all four canonicals was on “salvation through Jesus”. In each of the gospels, the references point to something the audience would understand like an experience, cultural story, and or a historical character. It is for this reason that there are pseudepigrapha, Septuagint LXXI, and Greek references that we miss because we read it in English. 

My point is, for the minister to be successful, he/she has to know the populace he/she will be ministering to and adapt to the changes but the cornerstone must be on Christ the Messiah of G_d (Pslams 118:22).   Ministry has never been nor ever will be a “one size fits all”. There is room for everybody in the church.

Peace In His Name

Mike

 

The Devil at the Crossroad

Good morning and Happy New Years 2021,

We have a common enemy that affects all of humanity and that is, “the Devil”. In scripture, we are admonished to not provoke him nor poke fun at him; he is one of G_d’s created angels and he deserves our utmost respect (Jude 1:8-9). Anyone who has ever taken on the Devil or took lightly the power he possesses has found out all too late that he is a formidable enemy (Job 41, Acts 11:19-20). The Devil, just like G_d, takes no sides; unlike G_d, he plays one side against the other to create conflicts by being the “silent partner.” When we read about school shootings, mass-murder, or other nefarious attacks, we blame the person, the weapon, and anything other than the real culprit, “the Devil”.  Why hasn’t mankind picked up on his game? Because one of his greatest feats is making people believe he doesn’t exist “if he doesn’t exist, he isn’t a problem” so mankind thinks. This diabolical plan has worked for countless centuries and because of it the Devil has free reign and can disguise himself in any way he sees fit (2 Corinthians 11:13-14).

 

The one person Satan truly hates is G_d because G_d broke up Satan’s plan to overthrow the throne of Heaven and he overturns the Devil’s plans at every turn. From the very moment that the Devil was kicked out of heaven, the war was proclaimed between Heavens’ armies and Satan’s kingdom. We see the ravages of this war on the streets, in homes, churches, communities, and businesses. In every conflict, he stands on the sidelines and lets others take the fall. The Devil’s game is to get people to draw a line in the sand as a demarcation between two opposing sides. In our homes, the children get the parents to take sides and the home suffers greatly because of it. There is no avenue the Devil will not go down to cause problems he even gets his minions to fight with each other leading to problems between humans they have watched over.

 

It has been said that “everything is fair in love and war” (unknown). The implication is that whatever the Devil does in our life is an act of war and everyone outside of G_d’s hedge of protection is fair game (Job 1). It must be fully understood that the Devil hates every single human being on planet earth, he has no friends and no allies. All who yield their lives to his control face insurmountable odds in life and it profoundly affects the lives of those who follow them (family, friends, colleagues, etc.). The Devil sets traps in the form of “temptations” which are not “sin” until they are acted upon (1 Corinthians 10:13). When we sin by acting on the temptation, we step into a trap of sorts. A pastoral friend of mine once said, “When we are born, we are assigned a demon who will record everything about us, every event in our life, and every pain that we feel and because of it the Devil knows everything about us” (Rex Allen); if this is true, the Devil also knows just the right bait to use to entrap us and how long to keep it out. To the Devil, our demise is not personal it’s just “business”.

 

The devil’s attacks are like a stack of dominoes, push one down and the rest fall in time. Consider the case of Jacob and the people of Schechem. Jacob was en route to Beth El and chose to stop at Schechem where he bought a piece of land for 100 pieces of silver. The first thing that Jacob did was to build an altar to El Elohe to thank him for a safe journey. The next thing that happened was Dinah, Jacob’s daughter, went down to the community to look around and she ran into Schechem the son of Hamor the leader of Schechem. The third thing that happened is that Schechem molested Dinah. Dinah was a beautiful young lady who was the epitome of the careless young man in Proverbs 7 and had put herself into harm’s way unknowingly. Young Schechem asked his father to get Dinah for his wife. The men of Schechem hatched a little plan to trip up the small group by proposing that Jacob and his family give Dinah to young Schechem and that the two communities intermarry and become one. When Jacob’s sons heard what happened, they hatched a plan of their own by tricking the men of Schechem into circumcising themselves to kill them when they were the most vulnerable. Jabob’s plundered the people of Schechem because they felt it was justified (Genesis 34).  The Devil will use our anger to get us to do the unG_dly just like the sons of Jacob did.

Every time I hear about an individual who has harmed another person or sins and is caught, I know that the problems are just beginning. Consider what happens when a child is abused, it leads to subsequent problems with running away, taking up a life of crime, and other such things[1]. We can justify our actions all that we want to but, they will not hold up in the light of truth. Consider Saul when his armies were facing down the Philistines and Samuel had not arrived at the set time. Saul and the men were afraid of the Philistines so brave old Saul had the sacrifice prepared and the offering made which was unauthorized. When Samuel asked him what he thought he was doing, Saul gave a weak excuse “that his army was running away in fear; after all, you didn’t show up on time” (1 Samuel 13).  For Israel, this was a dark time because, Saul was the king and what he went through, the nation would also endure.

The Devil knows that if people are unprotected, he has a much easier time of destroying them; the children are unaware of the troubles that they will face until they find out firsthand, and then it is too late. For the Devil to get to the child, he must first get to the child’s power center. Once the PowerCenter is under his control, the trouble will take on a life of its own. Look at what happened to nation Israel from the day David said to G_d, “Let this sin fall on me and my family” (1 Chronicle 21:17) until the day of exile which was approximately 500 years later. Better yet, consider the church in America from the 20th to the 21st centuries. In one century, the church ruled and what it said was law. if you were not attending church, you were considered “unG_dly”. The problem is, behind closed doors the Devil was getting a foothold on the church and incited the church, as he did to David, to do unG_dly acts and then try to cover them up. The biggest problem of sin is that it affects everyone, and no amount of money will ever make it right[2]. From the sin, the victim will be inundated with whispers from the Devil’s minions about “how bad you are” and “no one will miss you if you die”. Once the Devil gets the seed planted, his job is done, and the human will finish the work.

In an argument between two or more parties, the Devil enters not as a judge as to make a judgment call on who is right and who is wrong rather, as an instigator to turn up the pressure. One would think that as long as the devil has been doing this, someone would catch on to it. The reason mankind has little understood this tactic is that as humans we always consider ourselves to be justified in our actions. The other side of the problem is that “confusion” and “frustration” enter into the picture to keep the two sides at odds with each other. Why would the devil even think this was necessary? The reason is, while we are worried about one problem, he is creating another more diabolical problem. Consider the conflict between Amnon and Absalom. Amnon lusted after Absalom’s sister. David’s Brother Jonadab noticed how Amnon was down and so he asked him why he was looking so haggard. This is where the devil comes in being a voice of reason. Jonadab suggested a ruse that Amnon could use to get the prize he wanted. Then, when the plan was in place, the next target was Absalom who was enticed to kill Amnon for what he did. The devil was not interested in Amnon’s sexual desires nor was he interested in how Amnon felt; what he wanted was to destroy King David because of everything he had done to destroy the Devil’s plans and he would do so at the hands of Jonadab (2 Samuel 13). Remember this, the devil is the first one to come up with the idea of “bait and switch”. For bait and switch to work, the salesman or saleswoman needs to get the customer to be interested in one product and then slip the new one during the sales transaction. After Amnon raped Tamar, the love he had for her dissipated into other hatred. Amnon had no idea how his life is now over. King David would have reprimanded Amnon if not for the illicit affair with Bethsheba.

The part about human beings is that no matter how many mediums we have for communicating, we do not speak to the other side as to confirm or deny what we have heard and nor are we likely to forgive which leads to endless wars between family members. The nations Iraq, Iran, Libya Egypt, Israel, and Arabia have been at war for countless centuries. We have heard for the past three decades from our presidential contenders about ”Peace in the Middle East” strangely that never comes about simply because we have a devil who does not want peace and so we have people in the world who also do not want peace. The devil stands at the crossroad waiting patiently for anyone to listen to him. We are warned in Scripture about being quicker to listen than to react and we also warned about false judgments.

In closing, I want to say people please spend less time arguing and start listening. Our G_d is sovereign and holy. Our G_d’s not for one person or over another, one church over another, nor does he favor anyone. All who come to G_d my first believe that he exists and that he and he alone is holy. We must be on G_d’s side.

 

In His Service

Mike

 

All of my writings can be found at http://www.mikesencouragement.net

[1] Ferguson, K. (2009). Exploring the Psychosocial and Behavioral Adjustment Outcomes of Multi-Type Abuse among Homeless Young Adults. Social Work Research, 33(4), 219-230. Retrieved February 17, 2020, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/42659733

 

[2] SHUPE, A., & SIPE, A. (2007). Reactance, Crime, and Sin. In Spoils of the Kingdom: Clergy Misconduct and Religious Community (pp. 108-124). URBANA; CHICAGO: University of Illinois Press. Retrieved February 22, 2020, from www.jstor.org/stable/10.5406/j.ctt1xcfbq.10 109-110

 

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR 2019 – the double-sided Mirror

Good morning,

In just about every carnival, there is usually a “fun house” in which there are many different mirrors of various sizes, material composition, and refraction. These mirrors are altered in such a way as to grossly misrepresent what the person standing in front of the mirror looks like. People go to these Fun Houses for entertainment value. In similar ways, our adversary, the Devil, leads us through fun houses “our daily life” placing mirrors which play on our ego or weaknesses for his entertainment and our emotional demise. It was this side of the mirror that led David to call for a census that would ultimately lead to the nation being decimated (1st Chronicles 21 and 2nd Samuel 24).

Unlike carnival Funhouses, the mirrors the Devil uses plays on our minds like a broken record. Consider David’s indiscretion with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11). When David first saw her bathing, the mirror of “lust” played on David’s mind long before they spent the night together. Once the wheels were in motion, the Devil simply replaced the mirror of lust with the mirror of guilt; from guilt to desperation; from desperation to murder which is the reverse of 2nd Peter 1:5-7. Like a master play director, he changes the mirrors seamlessly and always in the dark. In the same way that David was led down the primrose path, the Devil leads us also. For this reason, we see otherwise intelligent people committing the most unthinkable things.

The part that the Devil does not want you to know about his fun house is that there is an opposite side. This side of the mirror is how God sees us and the circumstances surrounding our life. God does not give us a different set of mirrors nor does he sell us on a dream. He tells us the truth about who we are right where we are. The reason he does this is to grow us and help us to conquer the pitfalls of our life. Consider Peter in the days following the biggest flop of his life. From this big flop, he was restored and would be asked to take care of the fledgling group through the storms to come which was a special honor for Peter. In the same way that Peter was restored, many millions over the past 2000 plus years have come to know this savior and have not regretted it (John 21: 1-19). The good thing about both sides of the mirror is that we see ourselves with much greater clarity; that is, we can see our weaknesses and can come to grips with our failures; it is these very weaknesses, after all, that brings us to the throne room of God. We may not like what we see and may even try to run away from it or try to justify it away sort of like when Jonah ran away from his assigned mission (Jonah 1). Yet, when we come to God, he turns the mirror around so that we can see that our fall, however bad as it appears to be or as painful as it is, it is no match for God’s grace and forgiveness.

You can look in the mirror and find a million things wrong with yourself. Or you can look in the mirror and think, ‘I feel good, I have my health, and I’m so blessed.’ That’s the way I choose to look at it.” Isla Fisher “If you do not like who you are, you will never like what you will become.” Mike Krier

Father,
Thank you for helping me to see who I really am in you. The world looks for perfect people and encourages people to change our natural beauty for a made-up look in order to win approval. Yet, you see our flaws and all and still love us. Help me never to forget that even the Devil’s lies have an element of truth however small or twisted it might be; in view of this, help me to pray through those areas and not try to hide them. Please help me to see others as well as myself through your side of the mirror; while it does not make the bad go away, it will help me to deal with the issues in the light of truth and make inroads to healing. Watch over my family, friends, and nation today and every day.

Mike
All of my writings can be found at http://www.mikesencouragement.net

Encouragement for 2019 – Stories and the True Story

Good morning,
Over the past few days, I have been listening to the “Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown. The book captivated my imagination because of fast action and how the author tied references to pieces of art, historic landmarks, and talks about ancient organizations in order to maintain verisimilitude. Where I struggled with the book was that it belied everything we have been taught about our Savior. As a born again Christian, I know in whom I have believed and nothing this book has to say would ever change my mind. Unfortunately, not everyone has the same mindset as I do or are not as strong in their faith and this is the point I want to bring out. When we are not strong in our faith for whatever reason, books like this tend to cause confusion; or, as Proverbs puts it, “One who is full loathes honey from the comb, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet (Proverbs 27:7). For this reason, the Devil leverages stories against mankind; look at what he did to convince Adam and Eve that fatal day in the garden (Genesis 3:1-4). In Proverbs7, we see a young man going down the street towards the prostitute. Notice how the exuberant woman spins the tale of a “night in paradise”, “no one is home so no one will ever know”, “I have paid my vows” so what we are doing is ok, “I have food offerings at home”, “I came out to look for you” this makes the young man feel pretty special. in the end, he walked off with the woman not knowing just what awaited him and just how many have fallen for the same trap. As you know, the Devil never comes out in a scary outfit to frighten his target, he uses conversation to disarm his target. When he tells you things, he gives you just enough information to make the whole conversation seem genuine or to be genuinely concerned for you. There is a caveat to this conversation, though, and that is “Not everything that Screwtape says should be assumed to be true even from his own angle.” (The Screwtape Letters C.S. Lewis)

In scripture, we hear the word “idol” and it conjures images of items that are made from wood or stone; however, there are many things in our lives that can become idols and as such will be used by the Devil to lead us down roads that we don’t want to go. As an example, I heard other people talking about the Cisco certification track and I wanted to get certified. I spent plenty of money trying to get it but always coming away empty. Every time I failed the test, I became resentful and this caused problems in my life and in my home. I envied people that were able to take tests and pass successfully. The Devil will use whatever medium he needs to get the child of God spun in the wrong direction and it always starts with a simple conversation. Unfortunately, we will not always know we are on the wrong road until we are hopelessly trapped. My encouragement for you today is for you to become fully versed in the true story of Jesus, his love for you, and the desires he has on your life.

Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:31-32 NLT. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word. Martin Luther King Jr.

Father,
Thank you for all that you do in our lives. Help me to banish from my life the lies which hamper the words of encouragement to lost and hurting world. Grant that my eyes, ears, hands, feet, and heart be always open to you so that you may use them. The Devil is a roaring lion seeking to destroy of that there is no doubt. Yet, he is no match for you. The Devil will always have a story to tell and knows just how to twist the words in such a way as to persuade even the most intellectual of people; Yet, his lies will not stand up in your court. May your lead and direct our lives today.

In his Name
Mike
All of my writings can be found at http://www.mikesencouragement.net

GOD OF IMPERFECT PEOPLE


Good morning,
Those who know me, know how I struggle with self-esteem and it shows in ways I do not care to mention. In Junior High School, I carried a picture of my older sister in my books and would look at it to get a little bit of courage when school and homework became unbearable; probably wasn’t her best picture but, it was all I had to hold onto. You see, I struggled in school especially in math and art; everyone else did better than me and each low grade brought me that much was closer to the end of my rope. To add to my misery, my peer group picked on me a lot. I so desired to be like the successful kids who seemed to be enjoying school, asked to be a part of groups, and mentioned in the School yearbook; I even imagined what it would be like yet, it was only a fantasy because I was not like them by any stretch of the imagination and thank heavens for that. My Father, like my older sister, could do just about anything and could talk to anyone and get a good conversation going; so, I tried to be like them and what a mistake it was! I would find out later in life that when we try to be like those we idolize, we lose our identity and it creates further confusion in our life. The other part of the problem with people is that we do not always know what is going on in the background. When these so-called perfect people fall and they all do, those who followed them become disillusioned sort of like what happened with King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 3).
As I said, my father was amazing, he never seemed to make a mistake. Years later, though, I asked him, “how on earth did you always obtain perfection; you never made a mistake”? He laughed and said, “I was just a little bit quicker to clean things up before anyone found out”. This was an epiphany for me because, I then understood that just because someone had success in something by no means implies, “they never made a mistake”; it just means that the mistake may never have been found out. You see, our perceptions are warped when all we see is the outside and we as humans tend to fall into this trap many times throughout our life. It is a truth, that no one knows what the other person is going through and just because that other person is smiling and laughing, doesn’t imply, “life is at its best”. Consider the late Robin Williams whose charismatic personality brought laughter to millions all the while, he suffered with severe depression leading to his suicide; or, as proverbs so accurately puts it, “Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when the laughter ends, the grief remains (Proverbs 14:13 NLT)”. Only until we enter the throne room of God do, we actually find out that the only perfect person is God himself (Psalms 119:96). For these same reasons, I believe scripture is open and transparent about how sin ruined lives and no one was beyond God’s red pen of correction. Imagine, if you will, that the only records in scripture were of perfect people, it would be a mere work of fiction and be devoid of hope because there is no way you nor I could ever measure up and there would be no pathway for me to the Kingdom of God. The events and snippets of scripture are there so that we can learn to avoid sin and to know without a doubt that if God can love a David in view of the debacle with Bathsheba if he loved a womanizer like Solomon, he loves us and desires the best for or life. My encouragement for you today is to look past the veil of perfection as the world shows it and see God’s love for you exactly as you are.
I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence I can reach for. Perfection is God’s business Michael J Fox. “I want you to be wise in doing right and to stay innocent of any wrong. 20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. May the grace of our Lord Jesus[f] be with you” (Romans 16:19-20 NLT).
Father,I pray for my friends and family today. May you guide us by your eyes and lead us by your Spirit. Help me to ever keep my eyes on you in all that I do. I pray for those facing steep medical issues, financial issues, and personal issues. Help them to sense your presence about their life. Please help me as I face my life to always know with firm conviction that I cannot be like others and walk free in your kingdom. Doubtless, there will always be the perceived epitome of perfection help me to pray for that person that their pride did not get in the way of walking with you. May your good Spirit lead and guide my friends and family today.
Mike

All of my writings can be found at http://www.mikesencouragement.net

 

 

 

Encouragement for 2019 – Keep Your Eyes on The Prize

Good morning,

A few days ago, I had the chance encounter to talk to a Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer and his wife while at a business meal. I walked over and thanked them for their service. As we talked, he mentioned that he is in the state for recruiting. This was their first time in the state of Minnesota so, I told them about the fall colors on the North Shore of Duluth; this was met with exuberance as they had plans to go see them. Early this morning, I thought about the conversation and reflected back on my days in recruiting. When I first graduated from recruiting school, I was looking forward to the tour with great joy because I was in my home state. While in recruiting school, I heard nothing but “this is the best job ever”. My previous tour was extremely successful thanks to prayer and the support of my local church and I thought I could use that same model in this job. At first, I earnestly worked towards that goal however, within six months, things began to unravel both at home and on the job. I would work longer hours thinking, “I am doing this for my family”. I began to also focus on “getting promoted” and did so by listening to bad advice without one time considering what it would cost me. In the end, I did not get promoted and walked away from recruiting to do menial work at the Recruiting District office until my retirement in 1997.

In a way, I felt like Naomi who left the land of Judah to go live in Moab due to a famine. Prior to her departure from Judah, Naomi was content and happy, but situations dictated a change in venue. During the time in Moab, Naomi became despondent due to the harsh conditions, the loss of her husband and her two boys. In the end, Naomi did return to Judah but, she wasn’t the same person who left Judah (Ruth). Prior to Recruiting, I walked with the shout of the King and the Devil shook when I prayed. While recruiting, I became infected by the grime of corruption. In the end, I walked with a hobble and my prayers were ineffective and the Devil laughed when I sought God’s favor. The point I want to get across to you and my encouragement for you is, don’t ever let the good that you have seen in life or the good you have done be eaten away by the harsh conditions for which you find yourself in. Always, keep your eyes on the prize. Life is unfair and it can be bitter, but we do not need to be defined by it; rather, define our world by our outlook. It is true, we cannot always live mountain-top lives, sometimes we have to live in the valleys in order to grow our faith in God[1].

 “All of life is peaks and valleys. Don’t let the peaks get too high and the valleys too low.” —John Wooden. So be on guard; then you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own secure footing.  Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2nd Peter 3:17-18).
Father,

Every day of our life is present from you. Help us to ever keep my eyes on you. The Devil has made it his goal to destroy every place where your Spirit has dwelt in order to bring all of mankind into submission. When we chose to look past the darkness of sin and see the beauty of life, we deny the Devil and upend his quest. The previous work that we do in life breeds hopes for a future generation. For this reason, help us to never allow the bad things in life to eat away at the beautiful parts of our world. Watch over the people on my prayer list and keep each and every one.

In Jesus Name

Mike

All of my writings can be found at http://www.mikesencouragement.net


[1] Hannah Hurnard. Hinds Feet on High Places. Destiny Image Publishers, Shippensburg, PA (1993).

Encouragement for 2019

The Next Chapter

Good morning,

On a recent trip, I noticed how the sun was shining at 10,000’ while all below it was gray clouds and blustery winds. It is hard to believe but, the sun never stops shining, its lights never go out and it always shines with the same intensity. The earth, though, rotates on tilted access; so, we get the changes in seasons. For the past month now, the nation has endured the longest stretches of cold and snowy weather not to mention the extended number of gray days. In this time, it has been very hard on me because, I never do well when the sun doesn’t shine; the medical term is, “Seasonal Effectiveness Disorder” (SAD). In these days, it is easy for me to become depressed just as it is when the rain clouds fill the sky for days on end. What I have to remind myself is, “the winter will pass, and spring will come eventually”.

In the same way, the world’s sinful ways press hard against people to conform to its pathway or be the recipient of hateful terms like racist, homophobe, and xenophobe. In these days, it is very hard not to feel, “this is the new normal” and forget the promises of God or the grace he has bestowed on us. In the time of Elijah, the evil king Ahab and the tyrant queen Jezebel ruled Israel with an iron fist. Anyone who did not fall in line with Jezebel was put to death by the worst means possible. Remember, Elijah had just killed all of the priests of Baal, convinced the spectators of the power of the Almighty God, called down rain, and ran a from the mountain of God to the gates of the city; one word from Jezebel sent Elijah running for his life.  At the mountain top, Elijah’s word to God was, “I am all alone and I want to die”. After God relented and granted Elijah’s request, it was what he said next that should have sparked a change of heart; that, was “I have still reserved 7,000 men of God who have not bowed a knee to Baal, go anoint Elisha son of Shaphat in your place and, anoint the Jehu king over Israel (1 Kings 18). in doing so, God was setting the stage for the next chapter; something he wanted Elijah to be part of, but Elijah had refused. In the end, Ahab would die from a battle wound, Jezebel was would be assassinated and then reduced to mere bones. What I want to get across to you, is that although the sins of this world appear bigger than life, they all have a shelf life and will go the way of the Edsel, Zoot suits, and lava lamps; only God is from all eternity. My encouragement for you today is to grasp hold of the hand of God and never let go. When life appears the most dismal know this, you are one step from victory.

“O Babylon, the unconquered, come sit in the dust; for your days of glory, pomp, and honor are ended. O daughter of Chaldea, never again will you be the lovely princess, tender and delicate.  Take heavy millstones and grind the corn; remove your veil;[a] strip off your robe; expose yourself to public view.  You shall be in nakedness and shame. I will take vengeance upon you and will not repent (Isaiah 47:1-3 TLB).”

Father,

All the ways of the world no matter how dark, depressing, or oppressing they may be, will end. Only you are from all eternity. The enemy of our soul tells the foolish man, “this is what you need to do” and man does it. He has convinced the foolish man that he is a “god” knowing all the while how very short man’s life really is. Lord Jesus how we need you in our life as we face the next chapter of our life. May your good spirit guide us today in the pathway laid before us.

Mike

All of my writings can be found at http://www.mikesencouragement.net