Today’s featured song comes from a group based upon the travails of a famous Old Testament character. Jacob’s Trouble was formed in Atlanta, Georgia in the 1980’s. Jacob’s Trouble combines that classic 60’s acoustic sound with a blend of the eighties and nineties. Like any group that evolves over time, Jacob’s Trouble sound ranges from a classic rock to modern pop.
Since we consider and look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are visible are temporal (brief and fleeting), but the things that are invisible are deathless and everlasting, 2 Corinthians 4:18.
Something Good Happens appears on the Let the Truth Run Wild album. The lyrics of Something Good Happens refers to the perspective that you possess in life. If you look at the world through eyes where your glass is half empty, you’ll feel disappointed. However, if you learn to develop a positive outlook on life, something good is bound to come your way.
When you’re talking to a co-worker, friend or family member, perspective is everything. Depending upon your age, background and life experiences, outlooks will vary. One bird’s eye view often provides a broad and complete picture which few have ever seen. Meanwhile, a maturing Christian will likely alter their perspective as they draw closer to Jesus, James 4:8.
O Timothy, guard and keep the deposit entrusted [to you]! Turn away from the irreverent babble and godless chatter, with the vain and empty and worldly phrases, and the subtleties and the contradictions in what is falsely called knowledge and spiritual illumination. 21 [For] by making such profession some have erred (missed the mark) as regards the faith. Grace (divine favor and blessing) be with you all! Amen (so be it), 1 Timothy 6:20-21.
The apostle Paul writes two letters to a teenager pastor to share his own perspective. Perhaps, Paul was trying to play a similar role that Barnabas played in his own life. Following his conversion on the Road to Damascus, none of Jesus’ disciples believed that Paul was genuine about his newfound faith. According to Luke, Barnabas convinced the disciples to accept Paul as a fellow believer, Acts 9:27.
But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God). 17 For the desires of the flesh are opposed to the [Holy] Spirit, and the [desires of the] Spirit are opposed to the flesh (godless human nature); for these are antagonistic to each other [continually withstanding and in conflict with each other], so that you are not free but are prevented from doing what you desire to do. 18 But if you are guided (led) by the [Holy] Spirit, you are not subject to the Law, Galatians 5:16-18.
Paul went from a persecutor of the church, overseeing the death of Stephen, to a repenting sinner who returns to his hometown to tell others how God had changed his life. Yet, shortly after this revelation, Jewish leaders tried to kill Paul, Acts 9:23-25. This persecution gave Paul a new perspective on life, of how Jesus laid down his life for mankind, Romans 5:8. Meanwhile, Paul served as a mentor for several new first century Christians to provide a Christ-like perspective on life.
As the summer comes to an end on the East Coast, the Atlantic Hurricane season tends to intensity. Whether you’re talking about a nor’easter, tropical depression, super storm or major hurricane, these weather events wash away dreams and uproot lives. When these systems dissipate, survivors are forced to come together as communities to pick up the pieces of what these storms have left behind to be salvaged.
Blessed (happy, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly [following their advice, their plans and purposes], nor stands [submissive and inactive] in the path where sinners walk, nor sits down [to relax and rest] where the scornful [and the mockers] gather. 2 But his delight and desire are in the law of the Lord, and on His law (the precepts, the instructions, the teachings of God) he habitually meditates (ponders and studies) by day and by night. 3 And he shall be like a tree firmly planted [and tended] by the streams of water, ready to bring forth its fruit in its season; its leaf also shall not fade or wither; and everything he does shall prosper [and come to maturity], Psalm 1:1-3.
The Psalmist compares a healthy individual to a tree planted by flowing streams of water. This daily nourishment promotes growth that enables fruit to prosper in season. Whenever an internal or physical storm uproots your faith, reading and meditating upon God’s promises in the Bible is the best way to start your recovery. When all seems lost, these living words stirs hearts and touch souls, Hebrews 4:12.
As you have therefore received Christ, [even] Jesus the Lord, [so] walk (regulate your lives and conduct yourselves) in union with and conformity to Him. 7 Have the roots [of your being] firmly and deeply planted [in Him, fixed and founded in Him], being continually built up in Him, becoming increasingly more confirmed and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and abounding and overflowing in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 2:6-7.
According to the apostle Paul, there is only one Cornerstone upon which you can rebuild your faith. Jesus is like a thermostat that allows Christians to regulate their lives and recover from storms that uproot your lives. The more you read, study and share what you believe, Romans 10:17, faith springs to life. The more Jesus becomes your firm foundation for faith, a spirit of thanksgiving is conceived to give you a proper perspective after any storm.
Perspective gives parents the right impression of what to expect in the future. Unfortunately, the early years of any marriage is filled with trial and error. As I look back on the first few years of raising my oldest son James, I was out of my element. I don’t do well around crying babies. After screaming for an hour or so in his crib, Leanne or I would drive around the block a few times until James fell back to sleep.
For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed or embarrassed, Genesis 2:24-25.
As the years passed, sports filled up much of out time, going to baseball games, cross country races, golf matches and track meets. Through the years, I learned that James was motivated by awards, food and money. After achieving an agreed upon goal, the entire family went out to dinner to celebrate this accomplishment. This tradition continues today, often going to Buffalo Wild Wings and our favorite Chinese restaurant. However, after tonight, James will start a new life with his wife to be Emma.
Husbands, love your wives [seek the highest good for her and surround her with a caring, unselfish love], just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify the church, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word [of God], 27 so that [in turn] He might present the church to Himself in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy [set apart for God] and blameless. 28 Even so husbands should and are morally obligated to love their own wives as [being in a sense] their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself, Ephesians 5:25-28.
The covenant of marriage was first introduced to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The apostle Paul builds upon this concept in a letter to the church at Ephesus. Men are called to love their wives as Christ loved the church. In a letter to Corinth, Paul uses the term charity. The only way human beings can love one another is through the Holy Spirit. This spiritual presence is only available to those who enter into a personal relationship with God. Thus, if any of you are considering starting a new life, don’t forget to invite Jesus along the way.
Staying active can help your metabolism from slowing down. According to an article on Livestrong.com, thermogenesis, the food processing part of your metabolism actually remains fairly steady throughout your adult life. This is where discipline comes into play, resisting the urge to satisfy the earthly desires of hunger. In the context of Olympic athletes, the apostle Paul refers to the rigid training necessary to compete at this level. Like a boxer preparing for a title bout, discipline is essential to get yourself in the best possible shape to reach your full potential.
Therefore I do not run without a definite goal; I do not flail around like one beating the air [just shadow boxing]. 27 But [like a boxer] I strictly discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached [the gospel] to others, I myself will not somehow be disqualified [as unfit for service], 1 Corinthians 9:26-27.
Hunger is often dictated by the overall mood you are in. Upon hearing bad news, appetite can be lost. When a secret service agent, a body guard to the king receives news of Israel’s vulnerable state, Nehemiah is brought to tears. This weeping inspired a fast, crying out to God in prayer for a plan to restore the walls surrounding Jerusalem. Nehemiah’s fast lasted for a season, three to four months. At the conclusion of this fast, detailed in chapter 2, God provides a clear vision, a plan of action to quickly restore this structure. During any fast, abstaining from food for a period of time, tends to alter your perspective, seeing life or situations through God’s eyes.
They said to me, “The remnant there in the province who survived the captivity are in great distress and reproach; the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its [fortified] gates have been burned (destroyed) by fire.” Now it came about when I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying [constantly] before the God of heaven, Nehemiah 1:3-4.
When Babylon takes Israel captive in the Old Testament, chief officials brought some young boys to Babylon. The goal was to retrain these young men into the ways of Babylonian traditions. When a commander forced these men to alter their Jewish diet, a few refused to adhere to this daily ration. Rather, Daniel came up with a ten day test. This combination of fruit, vegetables and water is known as the Daniel fast. At the end of this ten day challenge, those who participated with Daniel appeared to be healthier than those who ate the king’s finest food. Learning to balance exercise with nutrition not only makes you feel better, but improves your overall appearance.
But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile (taint, dishonor) himself with the king’s finest food or with the wine which the king drank; so he asked the commander of the officials that he might [be excused so that he would] not defile himself, Daniel 1:8.
In the past decade, churches have challenged members of their congregation to participate in a fast each January. Depending upon the pastor, fasts vary from a Daniel fast, media fast to a strict fluid only fast. Over the last four years, I have done a nutrition based fast, giving up soda and other unhealthy foods I tend to eat. I have had mixed results. During the first fast, I was focused and dedicated, losing nearly twenty pounds in January. Unfortunately, my latest fasts have been unproductive. I guess I entered each of these without my heart truly into it. Thus, the lack of results speaks for itself. As a new year approaches, may the Holy Spirit prepare your hearts and mind now so that your next fast will be transformational.
Every morning and evening before sunset, shadows reflect the landscape of the earth. Mountains, rolling hills and trees leave imprints of what is near or around you. Once darkness exchanges day with night, shadows are limited to moonlight, stars and the northern lights. However, the shadow of death can apear at a moments notice, signaling that your days on earth are numbered. 24 hours ago there was a murder suicide in my neighborhood, taking the lives of two twenty year olds.
Even though I walk through the [sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me, Psalm 23:4.
Psalm 23 is a common Bible reading at funerals. As a shepherd living under the stars, shadows were a normal sight for David. Yet, the painful reality of death inspired David to coin this chapter. The only time I have witnessed death was just before my oldest sons birth. Since my grandfather’s health was failing, family was noticed as everyone gathered around his bed. Struggling to breathe, my sister Cindy began to read Psalm 23 to ease his pain. A few minutes later, grandpa Kautz gave up his spirit.
“Listen closely, I have set before you today life and prosperity (good), and death and adversity (evil); 16 in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk [that is, to live each and every day] in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments (precepts), so that you will live and multiply, and that the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you are entering to possess, Deuteronomy 30:15-16.”
One of the forefather’s of Israel, Moses eludes to the shadow of death in his farewell address before Joshua takes over for him as leader. Moses provides an unique perspective, using choices as an analogy. According to Moses, the choices you make daily lead to one destination or the other. Life and death are a series of choices that shape the path you will take in life. If this is true, choose life so that the shadow of death will be held off until later on in life.
Assurance, confidence, dependence and expectation are words associated with trust. Human beings have a tendency to become co-dependent, relying on someone or something. In the Peanuts Cartoon, Charles Schultz developed a character, Linus, who couldn’t function without his security blanket. Meanwhile, some individuals can be insecure, clinging to family, friends or strangers when loneliness sets in. Depending upon the circumstance, whose hands you hold during times of trials reflect whom you ultimately trust.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding, Proverbs 3:5.
One day, a father took his son aside to discuss an important life lesson. This conversation is condensed in the passage above. Solomon who received wisdom from the Lord passed his insight down to one of his many sons. This command goes against mainstream beliefs, urging readers to hold God’s hand when you don’t understand why something is happening. Like faith in the dark, when life takes unexpected twists and turns, trust in the Lord with all your heart. This action suggests that you are all in, clinging to God’s hand.
Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie! – Psalm 40:4
Solomon’s father, David, provides his own perspective of trust in the passage above. From a man who went from a lowly shepherd to king of Israel, David recognizes God’s role in his ascension to the throne. David views his status as a blessing from trusting the Lord as a child. Unfortunately, some people handle success poorly, boasting and taking all the credit themselves. If you want to guard against arrogance and pride, make sure that you are holding God’s hand, looking up instead of trusting in your own understanding.
Last weekend, I attended a benefit concert for one of my former students. While listening to the music, speakers and video, I am touched by the legacy these two students have left behind. Joseph Feeley was a gifted athlete, solid believer and destined to play professional baseball or become a long drive champion. Meanwhile, Kaylyn Warren was an aspiring actress in school plays, talented singer and godly leader. Unfortunately, each were taken away, struck down by vicious cancers.
And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary, Luke 18:3.
Like the tribulations of Job, somethings will never make any sense. Subsequently, those who endure horrific conditions are forever linked by time. From an earthly perspective, parents, relatives and students were robbed of spending more time with their friend. On the other hand, each were relieved of their suffering and reunited with God the Father in heaven. Trying to comprehend the Lord’s grand design can be overwhelming. Thus, for now, all I can grasp is that by dying, these two teenagers impacted their peers with a persistent faith.
I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth? – Luke 18:8
Over time, its easy to lose touch with the people you care about. Yet, wherever you are, its crucial to find a ministry to poor your heart and soul into on earth. Although, it may take some time to locate one that you believe in, God has a special place for you if you are willing. Sure, there are distractions, trying to grab your attention. Nonetheless, if you want to make an investment for eternity, remember the example of Joe and Kay so that others will be touched by your deeds when your time on earth runs out.
Parents who have grown up in the same area or town where their children attend school develop perspective. Depending upon their memory, adults can compare their education with the current system. Taking time to read modern textbooks may shock some, yet the informed aren’t surprised. The dumbing down of information attempts to sway young minds full of mush to buy into the liberal agenda being dished out daily. However, when things don’t add up like recently implemented Common Core curriculum, even public school teachers are waking up to this debauchery of education.
But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. – Ephesians 5:3
Back in my day, several teachers were like personal trainers, pushing you beyond what you could handle. A few were like drill sergeants, mean S.O.B.’s until you graduated, when you saw the logic behind their madness. These adults instilled in me a discipline, life skills and a work ethic I have exchanged for monthly pay checks. Although, I wish it was larger, being challenged has made me a better person. I only wish my children could escape the coddling that exists today for a taste of what I endured in school. Nonetheless, when things don’t add up, a parent must intervene to steer their kids in the right direction.
Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. – Ephesians 5:4
Whether you are watching a commercial, public service announcement or some new television show, it doesn’t take long to notice flaws. Though the world view you possess may alter or blind you in same ways, consciences scream out the truth, pointing you in the way you should go. However, if you begin to buy into the lies sold daily, your logic may not begin to add up. This is where rationalization takes over, trying to justify your error in judgment with thoughts like “everybody does it.” As you make your way through life, don’t forget to stop and think about the choices you are making. Or else you may wake up one morning to a soul that doesn’t add up to the will God wanted for your life, Romans 12:2.
Sirius, Canopus and Rigil Kentaurus are the 3 brightest stars as seen from earth. Sirius, the brightest of all the stars in the midnight sky comes from the Greek word scorching. The further you get from civilization, the more visible the smaller stars become. From a worldly perspective, are you overlooked like a tiny star, do you blend in like a medium one or does the aura you give off shine bright?
Said the night wind to the little lamb Do you see what I see Way up in the sky little lamb Do you see what I see A star, a star Dancing in the night With a tail as big as a kite With a tail as big as a kite
One of my favorite Christmas carols is Do You Hear What I Hear? The lyrics of this classic uses hearing and seeing to discern what happened on the night of Jesus’ birth. If you get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, the senses God gave you are often neglected, missing the miracles right in front of you. Therefore, if you want to make a difference in life, stop, drop what you’re doing and take a look around every now and then to help brighten the lives of others.
However, all human beings experience periods of darkness, times when your desire to press on fades. As your fire dims, the lights of others may be the only source of hope you see. If the light of Christians around you is absent, stars can burn out permanently. How bright is your star currently? Well, for the sake of Christmas, may the Holy Spirit rekindle the flame inside your soul so that silent nights will remain bright.