A Matter of the Heart

Jan 09 2015

Verse for the Day: Deuteronomy 8 : 11-16 11-16 Make sure you don’t forget GOD, your God, by not keeping his commandments, his rules and regulations that I command you today. Make sure that when you eat and are satisfied, build pleasant houses and settle in, see your herds and flocks flourish and more and more money come in, watch your standard of living going up and up—make sure you don’t become so full of yourself and your things that you forget GOD, your God, the God who delivered you from Egyptian slavery; the God who led you through that huge and fearsome wilderness, those desolate, arid badlands crawling with fiery snakes and scorpions; the God who gave you water gushing from hard rock; the God who gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never heard of, in order to give you a taste of the hard life, to test you so that you would be prepared to live well in the days ahead of you. (The Message)

I grew up being so blessed to have parents who loved the outdoors. From my earliest days I can remember going camping with them and my mom loved it as much as my dad. As I grew up my parents gave me many opportunities to experience different ways to grow, prepare and develop in my love, ability and desire to enjoy the outdoors. From my personal time with them to Cub Scouts, Four H, Boy Scouts and Order of the Arrow they helped to prepare and equip me to be who I am today and to live out the Boy Scout motto "Be Prepared". In turn I have tried to pass on the same love for the outdoors to my kids and the Boy Scout motto "Be Prepared"

The Boy Scout Motto "Be Prepared" is a motto we should all take to heart and apply to every aspect of our life not just camping or enjoying the outdoors. And the closer I get to retirement the more I realize how important it is to plan for the future while you’re young. Like a lot of people, especially the young, Jo and I haven't always been the best stewards of all that God has blessed us with over the years. At times throughout our life we have let our personal desires, wants and wishes distract us from being the best stewards of what God has given us. It's not that we haven't done a decent job of preparing for retirement and things are looking pretty good, but the fact is, as I look back on all God has blessed us with over the years, I could have been a lot better prepared for the day I decided to retire and the need to work to just to survive.

From my earliest days I can remember my parents setting up saving accounts for my brothers and sister telling us about the importance of saving and that has stuck with me throughout my life. I also remember getting an example about the importance of saving early and constantly from one of the companies I worked for early in my career.  I still have a copy of it today and it stated this: “If two people decided to save $2000 a month over a forty year period in an IRA that returned 10% interest and the first person started year one and put the $2000 in their IRA for the first 8 years and quit putting anything else into the plan. The second person started their saving at year nine and continued till year forty. The person who started early would have incredibly more at the end of the forty years than the person who invested over the next thirty two years. That’s hard to believe but that’s also the power of planning and preparing early.

God wants us to be "Be Prepared" and to be good stewards of all He has given us. Our time, our talents, our gifts and yes our money. And giving at least 10% back to The Lord is something we all need to do. The truth is God really doesn't need our money He's more concerned about our heart and our attitude about giving. But here is a something I heard the other day that we all need to consider and really think about. God is more concerned about the 90% we keep and how we use it versus the 10% tithe we give back to Him.

So, how are you preparing for your future? Will you Be Prepared for the day you decide to retire from worldly work? Have you been a good steward of what God has given you?  And more importantly than wealth, possessions, property or anything else are you prepared to meet The Lord face to face when you take your last breath here on earth and give an account for all He has given you and what you did with and through His Son? Let’s come back at another time and visit more about living out the Boy Scout Motto "Be Prepared" and how we can know without a shadow of a doubt we will be prepared for the coming of The Lord.

Jan 07 2015

Verse for the Day: Proverbs 27:19 As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart. (NIV) 

The first mirrors used by people were most likely pools of dark, still water, or water collected in a primitive vessel of some sort. Mirrors have been recorded as far back as 6000 BC with the earliest manufactured mirrors being made of pieces of polished stone such as obsidian, a naturally occurring volcanic glass. While these early and primitive mirrors provide a reflection it wasn't until around the sixteenth century before mirrors were made with glass and started providing a clearer reflection but they were quite costly. By the seventeenth century mirrors became more affordable to the general public, but one of the problems associated with them was the fact that many of them were made with mercury.

Well if you are like most people you probably use a mirror of some kind every day. Whether it's in the bathroom trying to get ready for the day or changing lanes in busy traffic, a quick glance at a make-up mirror for a touch up or maybe while just walking past something with glass in it and you happened to see your reflection. At some point during the day almost everyone sees their reflection in some kind of a mirrored image.

And we have probably all seen pictures or personally experienced a mirrored image of mountains, trees, ourselves or some kind of reflection on water that is clam and clear. Then there are the mirrors that are made to distort the image that is reflected back to us. Like the mirrors at circuses that make you look shorter, fatter, taller, skinner or like you can see yourself forever, like there is no end in sight. While these reflections are cool and fun to look at they don’t reflect the true image of the person standing before them. And even though a reflection while looking across water might be clear, it’s always upside down or as soon as a breeze or something cause a ripple in the water the reflection becomes distorted or unrecognizable.  

Mirrors are an amazing gift and tool when used for the right purpose like changing lanes in busy traffic, getting ready for the day, i.e. shaving, fixing your hair, putting on makeup and other personal hygiene needs. But mirrors can also be very dangerous and destructive to someone’s mental and spiritual health, especially to someone who is a perfectionist. A mirror can be very unkind and almost seem to be evil at times. Like circus mirrors or reflections on water can give you a distorted image or reflection of ourselves and who God created us to be. Satan can use an ordinary mirror or an imaginary mirror in our minds to distort our image of our self and how we think God, loved ones, friends, co-workers and the world in general might see us.

There is nothing that satan likes doing better than changing or distorting our perspective of who God created us to be. Whether it's looking into an actual mirror or an imaginary mirror in our mind, and we start to see ourselves in a distorted image of being too fat, too ugly, too short, too dumb, not good enough, a loser, ___________, you fill in the blank. We set ourselves up to be something much different than what God had planned for our life. We must realize those thoughts are not from God but satan himself. God gives us this warning in Ezekiel 21:23 …, but he will remind them of their guilt and take them captive. When we allow satan to be our mirror instead of Christ, we become a captive to satan’s thoughts. Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.

So let me ask you a question: What kind of mirror are you using to look at yourself? If you have allowed satan to distort your true identity in Christ you need to break that mirror and put your trust in The Lord and take every thought captive. 1 Corinthians 10:5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

There is only one way to be truly free from satan’s dissipative mirror of guilt, shame, lies, and distorted images and that's by putting our trust in the One who came to open the eyes of the blind and set the captives free. Isaiah 42:6-7 “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. (NIV)

The next time you look into a mirror or get a sense that leaves you feeling less than God created you to be remind yourself it's not from God but satan himself trying to distort who you really are in Christ.