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Paranormal Activity, KCMS & Maritime Ghosts

Recently, someone was telling me about the scariest movie they had every seen.

He said, “Paranormal Activity was so scary, I had to flip on all the lights in the house and turn on Spirit 105.3 KCMS.”

His reaction (turning on all the lights and Christian radio) cracked me up.

I haven’t seen the movie (and won’t), but I believe him… I’m sure it’s scary. I’m just not a fan of scary stuff.

In my opinion, a big percentage of fear is learned, nurtured and developed.

I don’t like to feed fear in my life.

Years ago, when my daughter was a baby, I was forced to play the role of the devil in an illustrated sermon at church. The makeup artist must have been a fan of horror movies, because I was painted up like some type of a bloody Skeletor dressed in a Count Dracula’s cape.

After the performance each night, my daughter would see me up close and personal before I could get out of the costume and makeup. She was never afraid. She had no context for what I was supposed to be. She hadn’t yet learned to be afraid of bloody Skeletor.

Her peaceful reaction to me (looking the way I did) left a lasting impression on me… I don’t have to be afraid!

There’s a fun story in the Bible about Jesus’ disciples attempting to cross a lake in the middle of the night. A big storm picked up and their boat was in trouble.

As they struggled to keep their cool in the storm, they saw something that really freaked them out:

“About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water, When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, ‘It’s a ghost!’” (Matthew 14.25, 26 NLT).

I think it’s funny that they went right to “It’s a ghost!” instead of “That must be Jesus coming to rescue us!”

I wonder if they had just been sitting around telling ghost stories?

It wasn’t some maritime ghost, coming to torture them – it was Jesus, coming to save them.

“Jesus spoke to them at once. ‘Don’t be afraid,’ he said. ‘Take courage. I am here!’” (Matthew 14.27 NLT).

Where Jesus is, there is grace.

Feed on grace – not fear!

Focus on how good God is – not all the possible scenarios of terrible things that could happen to you.

Learn, nurture and develop the good – not the bad.

“You’ll do your best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.”
(Philippians 4.8 MSG)

Fear Sucks

Fear sucks the life, strength and courage right out of you.

It distracts.

It paralyzes.

Grace, however, changes everything.

Grace fills you with new life, strength and courage.

It gives focus.

It mobilizes.

Where Jesus is – there is grace.

“Don’t be afraid… take courage. I am here!” (Matthew 14.27)

Today’s Forecast: Free of Worry / No Room for Fear

When grace shows up in your life, some other things are forced out… like worry and fear.

Grace reminds us that God is good – he loves, gives and forgives.

“God is love.

When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us.

This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day – our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s.

There is no room in love for fear.

Well-formed love banishes fear.

Since fear is crippling, a fearful life – fear of death, fear of judgment – is one not yet fully formed in love.”
(1 John 4.17, 18 MSG)

Today’s forecast: living in grace… free of worry, with no room for fear!

Why I’m Bald

Yesterday was Father’s Day. It got me thinking about all the things I got from my dad… like baldness. I have the exact same bald patches on my head as my father. I’m pretty sure it’s in the genes.

Another thing I got from m dad: my striking good looks – I’m just a younger version of him.

I also got his skinny tie from the 1960’s. I wore it on Sunday. It’s pretty fly.

My dad provided for me – I never had to worry about the basic needs in life. Because of him, I’m confident and secure.

My dad has always loved my mom – and I never had to worry about our family breaking up. His example taught me how to love one woman faithfully.

For my entire life, I’ve watched my dad worship God, serve the church faithfully, give generously and encourage his pastors. He modeled loving God, loving people and loving life… and I totally get it.

My dad doesn’t yell, stomp, get violent or lose control. He has shown me how to be calm, live peacefully and not let my emotions get out of control.

My dad taught me to work hard, give 10% to God and save money from every paycheck. He paid cash for every car. He paid off his home mortgages early. I’ve never seen him use a credit card. He saved for family vacations. He never spent more than he made. He helped me buy my first car. He paid for half of my college education. He gave me the down payment for my first house. He retired at age 50 because he could.

Because of my dad, I’m not in debt, I know how to handle money, I know how to invest and I’m taking care of my daughter like he took care of me.

We went on family vacations every year. Because of my dad, I love to travel (and I like road trips).

My dad loves dessert – I got that from him too.

The worst words I’ve ever heard my dad say: crud, crap and knucklehead. I’d be doing pretty good if that was the worst stuff coming out of my mouth.

I love my dad. Because of him, I know how to hire plumbers, mechanics and other handy-man types… and I know that everything I got from my dad (including my bald head) is a blessing.

Thank you daddy.

Grace Does…

When you get to know Jesus, you discover what grace is all about.

Know Jesus & you will know grace…

Grace loves, gives & forgives.

Grace changes everything.

Without it, we’re all sunk. But grace is our lifeline.

Grace is the good news.

Grace does what we can’t.

Open That Angry Fist

It’s impossible to remain angry while embracing grace… open that angry fist and get a grip on grace!

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words… Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4.31, 32 NLT)

Tantrums, Sulking… and Murder?

You know the story of Cain and Abel, right?

The first kids… Cain was a farmer. His younger brother, Abel, was a herdsman.

The brothers brought offerings to God. Cain brought some produce; Abel brought a firstborn animal from his herd.

God was pleased with Abel’s offering but Cain didn’t get God’s approval. There are many theories and ideas about why (including a pretty funny explanation of how God approves of meat-eaters but not vegetarians or vegans).

I’m not so interested in the theories of why one offering was better than the other. It’s what happened next that fascinates me – Cain throws a huge tissy fit.

“Cain lost his temper and went into a sulk. God spoke to Cain: ‘Why this tantrum? Why the sulking? If you do well, won’t you be accepted?’ Cain had words with his brother. They were out in the field; Cain came at Abel his brother and killed him.” (Genesis 4.5-8 MSG).

Yikes! What a terrible overreaction of hostility flowing from this little boy’s bruised ego.

I’m not even sure who Cain was mad at…

Was he mad at God? Himself? His younger brother? Everyone? Just embarrassed, hurt and mad at the world?

It’s scary what flows from us when we’re upset. Without grace we are bitter, angry, petty, vindictive and hurtful. Without grace, we destroy relationships.

We need grace.

Grace loves, covers, forgives, accepts, receives, restores, heals, blesses, encourages, rejoices and builds.

God, give us grace!

Talk to the Hand

Remember the 1990’s’ expression “talk to the hand”? It’s a contemptuous way of expressing rejection, saying “no one is listening to you”. The phrase is usually accompanied by the gesture a traffic cop makes to stop traffic.

Contrast “talk to the hand” with a hug…

“Talk to the hand” communicates angry rejection. A hug communicates acceptance and love.

God has not put his hand up toward you in angry rejection. No, His arms are open with acceptance and love.

“God didn’t set us up for an angry rejection but for salvation by our Master, Jesus Christ. He died for us, a death that triggered life… we’re alive with him!

So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind.” (1 Thessalonians 5.9-11 MSG)

Anger sticks up the hand of rejection.

Grace opens its arms with love and acceptance.

Let’s do for others what God has done for us… give grace.

Speak encouraging words. Build up hope. No one left out, no one left behind.

No more “talk to the hand” angry rejection of others. Instead, hug.

Arms open with acceptance and love.

Bruised Egos & Fire-Breathing

I recently heard a comedian say, “I carry a gun for when I get my feelings hurt.”

My first reaction – giggle.

My second reaction – think about the sad truth of his joke…

Our bruised egos inspire terrible overreactions of spite.

Jesus was rejected at a particular village because He didn’t intend to stay there very long. Disciples James and John picked up the offense for Jesus and were inspired to unleash some fiery judgment…

“Lord, should we call down fire from heaven and burn them up?” (Luke 9.54)

Uh, talk about overreaction! Jesus rebuked James and John…

“You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” (Luke 9.55, 56 NKJV)

Grace saves – not destroys.

Grace breathes forgiveness – not fire.

Grace changes everything.

The Horse & the Cart

If you’ve read the New Testament, I’m sure you noticed these words coupled together: “grace and peace.”

“May God give you more and more grace and peace…” (2 Peter 1.2)

It’s always in that order – “grace and peace,” not “peace and grace.” Why? Because that would be putting the cart before the horse.

It’s “grace and peace” because we cannot know the peace of God in our hearts until we have experienced the grace of God in our lives.

God’s grace brings peace – not stress, anxiety, worry, fear, shame, resentment, bitterness, anger or frustration.

Trying hard, working, striving, getting wound-up and freaking out will never bring peace in your life.

Relax. Receive God’s grace. You will have peace.