Overturning the Wrong

Elias sat at his booth in the marketplace with great anticipation.  This was the best season of the year for business.  His family had owned this place right inside the front door of the market for years.  His father, and his grandfather had brought him up and taught him the way to help people with their offerings to the Lord.  They were shrewd merchants who knew exactly what was needed to make a good living. Elias had learned well.

He was a small man, standing 5’3” short and stocky.  His mustache rolled over his lips so it was hard to see the top one as he spoke with his rough, gravelly voice.  His eyes were bright and looked very honest as he would look out over the people coming into the marketplace.  He had a wife and three children to care for, so was hoping for a good day on this bright sunny morning.  On a normal day he would help over 500 people with their offerings, but this was no normal day.  It was only 10:00 AM and he had already sold 300 sheep and 200 pigeons to people who had imperfect offerings, or so he said.  In reality, he had tricked those people by telling them their offering was not pure enough for the sacrifice, and sold them one of his sheep.  But then once the people were out of sight, he would sell their lamb to an unsuspecting couple, calling it pure.  He did this all day long and made good money as a result.  His table sat with a large balance to weigh the money, which was much faster than counting it.  However, his weights were slightly altered in his favor, so he made a little extra money with his unjust weights also.  And being right inside the temple gates made him one of the first merchants people saw.

It was three days before the Passover, and Elias knew there would be throngs of people in Jerusalem for this blessed time of year.  He was daily in the temple, and business was always good.  But this year was different, and Elias knew this was going to be a boom for business.  He had heard the commotion the day before as a man named Jesus came into town bringing a huge throng of people. There must have been 10,000 who greeted him at the main gate.  They shouted Hosanna and laid palm branches before him.  It seemed they thought he was some kind of King.  Elias had heard stories of him healing people and teaching extraordinary lessons.  There was even a rumor going around that he had raised a man named Lazarus from the dead.  It seemed many were running after him, hoping he would set up some kind of kingdom.  Elias scoffed at the idea.  It was ludicrous.  But he knew all those people would eventually have to come and offer their burnt offerings to the Lord during Passover, and he was grinning ear to ear.

A young man walked up to his booth without a sacrifice, and Elias knew he would need one this day.

“How can I help you, young man.”  Elias softly said.

The young man looked excited.  “I need a pigeon for the offering today, sir”

Elias went over to his pigeon cage, opened the door and was about to take one out when a herd of people swarmed into the marketplace, led by a man with a white tunic on.  All the people were shouting “Jesus, Jesus” like he was something so special.  They were a wild bunch and the birds in the cage starting flying around like crazy, making it hard to get one out.  Jesus stood there, looking out over the marketplace and all the booths that were set up to sell sacrifices to the people.  People were buying and selling just like he was about to do.  It was an eerie scene; one he had never encountered before.  The whole crowd had stopped behind him, yelling his name and holding out their hands to him.  For a moment it seemed time stood still as Elias reached in to get one of the pigeons for his customer.  Before he could grab one, this man called Jesus walked up to his booth, picked it up and turned it over.  The balance and money went flying all over the ground.  Elias, shocked and furious turned to try and save things and the birds starting flying out of the cage.  There was no hope to recover them as they scattered far and wide.  He scrambled on the ground, looking for his money as others in the crowd started to pick it up and run off with it.

He heard the commotion as Jesus proceeded through the marketplace doing the same to every table. The noise was unbearable.  Merchants screaming at him to stop, people scurrying to try and get the money that fell to the ground, sheep running all over bleating as they were freed from their cages and pigeons everywhere, cooing and making a mess.  Total chaos took over the marketplace.  But above all the noise and ruckus I could hear Jesus shout out “It is written: my house shall be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.”  How dare he make such an accusation, Elias thought.  Elias was helping people get what they needed to present an acceptable offering to God.  So, he made a little profit.  That was what fed his family.  Now He would have to try and find all his sheep and pigeons again – an impossible task.  His money was gone to the hoards that grabbed it off the ground.  What he thought was going to be a great day turned into a disaster.

I wonder how many of us need our lives overturned.  We are busy in the church doing what we have always done not realizing God has a bigger task for us.  We have become so tuned into our own little way that we don’t realize we have walked out of the will of God for our lives.  Sin has crept in and we have allowed it to, justifying our deeds by our seemingly righteous acts.  While we teach Sunday School, or lead worship, or serve on the church board, or lead the ladies’ group in the background we are satisfying our own selfish sinful desires.  No one around us knows what is going on beneath the service of our seemingly holy lives.  This was Elias.  This was me.

There was a time that I was so eaten up with pride that I could easily defy God and justify it in my own mind.  I served in many roles within the church and no one knew that sin knocked at the door on a daily basis, and that many days I let it in.  Elias sold lies on a regular basis, justifying it as providing for his family.  I lived a lie, justifying it by the good works I was doing.  There was no excuse for my behavior, but I gave plenty of excuses.  This went on for years and then was discovered.  After a period of repentance and renewal, I turned right back to it, as dog returns to his vomit.  5 more years of deceit went by before it was discovered again.  This time God overturned the tables in my life.  My marriage nearly ruined, fired from my job and rejected from my church, I went on a sabbatical that changed my life and set my course straight again.  God redeemed me once again through His overwhelming mercy and grace.

If you have sin inside the door of your life, don’t wait for Jesus to come and overturn the tables.  This can cause deep losses on your part.  Tackle the problem now.  Ask for forgiveness now.  Repent now.  Turn your own table.  You will thank yourself for it.  Because if Jesus comes in and overturns the wrong, you could lose everything, just as Elias did.

I Cannot Ignore

All that He has done for me
All He did to set me free
All His love and great mercy
I cannot ignore

All His sacrifice in life
All His teaching should suffice
All His passion on that cross
I cannot ignore

I never will forget His love
I never will forget He gave His life away
I never will forget what He’s done for me
What a precious Savior
Jesus Christ my Lord

All He has prepared for me
A mansion for eternity
All His grace that blesses me
I cannot ignore

Oh what wondrous love
Oh what joy and peace He gives
I just want to praise Him
I just want to praise Him
I cannot ignore all that He has done

I never will forget His love
I never will forget He gave His life away
I never will forget what He’s done for me
What a precious Savior
Jesus Christ my Lord

Take Control (Music Video)

Here are the words and a video to a chorus the Lord gave me yesterday.  I hope you enjoy it!

What else can I do but to worship you
What else can I say but give you praise
What else can I offer you but this life you’ve given me
All I have is yours Oh Lord

All of my heart
All of my soul
All of my spirit take control
All of my heart
All of my soul
All of my spirit take control

Does God Count You Faithful?

This is a reblog from my God’s Maintenance Man Blog.  This blog is found under the Teachings tab at the top of this page.  If you would like to read others in the series on Timothy and Titus, please click on that tab.

 1 Timothy 1:12-14

12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;
13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

I like to take credit. I like to think I did something myself. It was me who read the Bible and gained the knowledge I have. It was me who began to understand how the Old and New Testament worked together., It was me who figured out how the scripture applies to everyday life. I wrote all these poems and songs through the years. The moving of the Holy Spirit is due to my ability and expertise in putting a worship service together. All these years, I have been slaving away for God and coming up with these thoughts and ideas on how God works in our lives. I did it. Me!

That paragraph is the definition of pride. I did it. I accomplished it. I figured it out. This is where I lived for years, and truly believed the sayings in that paragraph. It caused me to start top think I could disregard all that I had learned and do what I wanted to do. After all, I had done it all for God!

But I soon fell hard, lost my job and almost my family and had to take inventory on my spiritual life. What I found out was what Paul says here. God has enabled me. I do not have the ability within myself to do the things above. It is God in me and through me. That is the only way these things can minister the way they do. That is the only way the right words can get on paper that will touch hearts and heal up wounds of the soul.

You see, I was once very much like Paul. I certainly was a blasphemer, a breaker of all the commandments, a drunkard and drug addict and a person who could care less about God. My own way was the way I would go and no one could tell me I was in the wrong. I had walked away from God in high school and had no plans on coming back to Him. I was a persecutor, maybe not of the saint, but of everyone around me. I would put down, speak badly of, and try to hurt with words anyone that wronged me. I was a smaller guy and not a physical specimen, so I relied on a quick wit. This also made me injurious, like Paul. My words could injure peoples spirits and hearts quicker than a dart being thrown at them. The bigger problem is that they could dodge a dart, but could not avoid my stinging words.

Then grace came in. Love came in. Faith came in. Somehow I found myself driving to Iowa to see my best friend. Clear out of the blue I had decided to make the 1300 mile drive from Massachusetts to Iowa. When I arrived at his house, we had a great reunion, having not seen each other for over a year. He was a Christian, and had tried to sway me a year earlier at our high school reunion. It didn’t work, but it also did not hurt our friendship. Here I was on His doorstep in Iowa. Through the last year we had sent letters back and forth and each one of his letters had a scripture address on it. I had to look it up to see what he was saying. He was a sly old fox (well, not that old. He was a week older than me).

Then he said come to church with us tonight, and I said OK. I had no problem going with him, just don’t give me any of that salvation stuff. Don’t tell me I need saving. I was doing just fine. And I was so wrong. That minister, who was a missionary home on leave, told me I was headed for a burning hell. I did not want to go there! Then he told me there was only one way to avoid it, and that was Jesus Christ, I wanted Jesus. Jesus took me into His arms later that week and saved my soul. His grace covered me completely.

Now He enables me. I do everything I can to keep my thoughts out of this blog, out of the poetry, out of the songs that fill the pages of my web sites. I seek God’s wisdom and His words for these pages, not mine. I have nothing of value to give except my life. These are His words, His thoughts, His songs. I claim no ownership.

Since He has enabled me, it is now up to me to be an open conduit. He has put me into this ministry and now I need to allow His message to flow through me out to you. Paul tells us that the spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet (1 Corinthians 14:32). This means God gives us the ability to shut it down or make it flow. We can muzzle the message God gives us to share. We can say “God gave this to me and I’m not going to share it!” We absolutely can. But I do no want to be that person.

My heart’s desire is to be counted faithful. Jesus said that to whom much is given, much will be required (Luke 12:48). The words, songs, melodies and so on come from God. He has given them, for some reason I will never understand, to me. He entrusted me with the ability to hear His voice, and I for one want to make sure He will say I did it well. I could care less if anyone on this earth says the same. I am aware that very few hear God the way I hear Him. Very few have learned to listen as He has taught me to. He holds me accountable for those things He has entrusted to me.

What about you? What gift, or gifts, has God given to you? What talents do you possess? What are you doing with them? I suggest you make a list of all the gifts and talents God has bestowed on you. Some will have just a few items they can think of, others might have many dozen. Pray about it and be thorough. Once you have compiled your list, take each item one by one and ask God if you are doing a good job with that talent. If you’re like me, there are some you are doing well with and others you need to do better.

After this is done, ask God to help you do a better job of ministering in the areas where He has gifted you. Ask Him to enable you to reach more, teach more, love more and touch more. Ask Him to make your light shine so that you might bring Him glory. Give yourself as a living sacrifice for Him so that you might prove the will of God is alive in your life. Be vigilant in your ministry and never back down. This world needs you!

I Am A Blessed Man

The night hair is crisp and clean as I walk my dog this evening. The air feels almost warm at six below zero since there is no wind to chill the soul. The light blanket of snow that covers the ground sounds like Rice Krispies as I walk across the shoveled sidewalk. I look up at the twinkling stars and see the Cheshire cat shaped moon smiling back at me. This is such a beautiful evening to behold. I ponder the day and the week behind me and I realize how much God has blessed me.

I have a wife who loves me. She is hard working and loves to sit beside me and in our Laz-Y-Boy chairs and watch a good Hallmark movie or an episode of a favorite show like Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman. She has been a wonderful caretaker to me as I battled through cancer the last three years, always keeping a smile on her face and doing what is best for me. To this day she gets my meds ready every night. Even though she works over 60 hours a week between two jobs, she is still alert and conversational when she gets home. She is well respected in town and is well loved by her children and her husband. She is the epitome of a Proverbs 31 wife and I am a blessed man.

Our little dog, a mix of little dogs, playfully goes between her chair and mine. He picks up a toy occasionally and has us throw it so he can bring it back, tail wagging and a look of anticipation on his face. My wife laughs and watches him playing, citing how much she loves him. He brings the toy up to my leg and squeezes it in his mouth letting out a squeak as he pushes it into my leg, wanting me to take it and throw it again. He always shows his affection to me and I realize I am a blessed man.

My three children are all healthy and moving forward in life. They have different goals and different jobs. They all have a hunger for God in varying degrees and acknowledge Him as the one they turn to in difficult times. They love us and we love them so much. I talk to my daughters regularly and enjoy getting caught up with them on a weekly basis. We see them as often as we can and they always tells us how much they love us. They are a great joy in my life and I am a blessed man.

My five grandchildren are a joy to talk to. They will send stickers on Facebook messenger to let us know they want to talk. Sometimes they will just call and hope to get us. We love talking to them on the phone and they always let us know how much they love us. We have one granddaughter living with us. She is such joy to have around the house. She brings laughter and a sense of the unknown. We have been through these waters before, with a teenage girl in the house. She will do anything for us and is a great help to me. I see her smile after all the difficulties she has had and I realize I am a blessed man.

My writing is ongoing as God continues to inspire me to put together Bible studies, poems, and pieces like this one. He has helped me with the knowledge to manipulate a web site and has given me a good friend who will help me with things I don’t know in that arena. More and more, I see visitors stopping by and taking note of what God is doing with my life and all the various projects he has me working on. I realize I am but putty in His hand, and He is molding me. This humbles me and makes me a blessed man.

There is so much more I could say about my life in it’s sixty-seventh year. There are so many things that I can’t explain, except to say God is moving in my life. He is my rock and fortress, my strong and mighty tower. He is my Savior and redeemer. He is my soon coming King. I lift my voice and praise Him at every chance I get, because He has been so merciful to me. I will never comprehend how much He loves ma and cares for me, yet I will always give thanks for those very things. In all of my ways, He is watching over me and guiding my life. I am a blessed man.