Thank You For Not Trying to Change This Tree

Thank you, peeps for not trying to change this little tree,

Because it was created with originality.

Thanks for accepting it the way that God meant it to be –

Because, you see, it has been put together carefully.

 

This tree did not amount to much until somebody hung

Some ornaments to highlight its green branches so far flung.

They’re reaching out in hopes that they might get a little lift

From presents down below, as each supporter gives a gift.

 

We do not need to change this tree, but help each drooping branch

By recognizing what it’s worth. Let’s give this tree a chance,

Through waters of encouragement, with bells to make it sing

And – wrapped around its little trunk – a joyful covering.

 

For, you can’t really change a tree, but you can give it care

And if you nurture it, who know what beauty it will share?

It may not fit your concept of what you think it should be.

Perhaps it will not hold big ornaments reliably.

 

But if it fills the purpose for which God chose it to be,

Then who are we to treat its branches superficially?

Because, like trees, we all fall short and we don’t always see

That God accepts us as we are but wants to set us free

 

Of wrongs we’ve done to damage one another’s destiny.

He wants to change those hurts into a bright reality.

And I believe He wants to do it supernaturally.

So, let’s thank Him for grace instead of trying to fix that tree

 

Because it’s kind of like a peep in that you tend to get

The good you give to it and the example that you set.

So, thank you, peeps, for trying not to change this little tree

Because to help it may involve some creativity.

Once Upon a Rooftop: Four Men and a Mat

When Parents Don’t Understand a Child’s Promised Land

Those who didn’t understand the Promised Land report

By Joshua and Caleb somehow managed to abort

God’s destiny for them which was an awesome property.

Big guys had done the work and now this land was theirs for free.

 

(see the book of Numbers chapters 13 and 14)

 

But most folks didn’t “get” these guys who spied out God’s good land.

All they saw were giants and they didn’t understand

What the Lord was doing and the great things He had planned,

The gifts He’d placed within their children, like flames to be fanned.

 

Instead, they saw their families as weak – “They won’t survive,

Let alone by some miraculous intervention thrive.” (Numbers 14:3)

“Those who KNOW God will do exploits” was a verse they didn’t know (Daniel 11:32),

And for their children, I believe, it was an awesome blow.

 

Imagine dreaming “milk and honey,” only to be told

It’s not within your grasp. “Don’t try it. All you’ll get is old.”

“You’ll die before you touch the grapes that WE could not obtain.

Best not to tackle it, my dear. You’ll never stand the strain.”

 

These men wanted to help their kids survive the wilderness

Instead of taking foolish risks while trying to impress

The God they THOUGHT they’d heard from, but their parents didn’t know.

For, some who tried to take the land received a heavy blow.

 

God told them not to do it when He saw their unbelief.

Instead they acted out of guilt, which caused the camp much grief. (Numbers 14:39-45)

By trusting their own wisdom to make up for wrongs they’d done,

They acted foolishly. The battle, lost, could not be won.

 

And so, their children suffered. In the wilderness they wandered,

For forty years unable to regain what doubt had squandered.

How do you talk to parents when you know they don’t believe?

They’re just too stressed to listen. Your ideas they can’t receive.

 

It helps to understand that parents don’t always feel blessed

When you share bold ideas with them. For they know that success

Does not come instantly. It has to stand the test of time.

They want you to prove faithful, adding reason to your “rhyme.”

 

Recall: The men who got frustrated missed the Promised Land,

Rebelling against knowledge that they didn’t understand.

They tried to prove themselves to God. “We’ll take the land, we will!”

But what they needed most to do was to relax and “chill.”

 

For faith cannot be conjured up, and though conveyed through speech,

It’s not just about changing things. But what did Jesus teach?

The Father desires worship both in truth and in spirit. (John 4:23)

Before trying to do His Word, you must take time to hear it.

 

To enter in your “Promised Land” requires that you rest (Hebrews 4:9-10),

So that when you bring up “those grapes” your dad does not feel stressed.

You do not want to tempt the man to go off on his own

And try to conquer FOR you what you need to do alone.

 

But yet, you’re not alone, for Jesus walks that road with you.

He’ll never will forsake you and His promises ring true.

The spiritual Rock that followed Israel in the desert knows your name (I Corinthians 10:4),

And when you choose to follow Him, you’ll never be the same.

 

 

Every child has a “Promised Land,” a dream meant just for them, a destiny only they can fulfill. A child that believes in Jesus and commits his/her life to Him may be inspired with a dream that adults don’t see. His/her parents may not understand or promote the dream – perhaps because they themselves have a Promised Land worth of dreams that remain unfulfilled. Perhaps they  tried to take that land before being properly equipped, and it resulted in disaster.

 

For whatever reason, it may be hard for them to fathom how the child’s dream could possibly succeed. If that’s the case, how can a child get the support he or she needs to fulfill that dream?

 

I. See Victory Over Rebellion as a Step Toward the Promised Land

 

Rebelling against parents and/or demanding one’s own way is like the men who tried to take the Promised Land after proving themselves unfaithful – unfaithful as in “they were not full of faith” and therefore could not receive Joshua and Caleb’s good report. Rather than promote rebellion, God’s word teaches children to honor their parents (Ephesians 6:2). Though honoring (respecting) them may be your greatest fight, through Jesus you can do it (if in Him you delight).

 

Victory over rebellion is an exploit that takes you closer to the Promised Land

 

II. Draw Near to God

 

The key to getting favor from parents and/or other adults is to draw close to God and find rest in Him. This involves prayer. You can talk to God about anything, but it really helps to praise Him and to pray for understanding while reading His Word (the Bible). Focus on His promises of who you are in Him, such as “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things have passed away. All things have become new.” (II Corinthians 5:17)

 

Drawing near to these truths will enable you to draw near to Him. It also helps to remember that Jesus will never leave or forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6). His name Emmanuel means “God with us.” Before ascending into heaven, He empowered his disciples with the knowledge that “I am with you always.” (Matthew 28:20). With that knowledge they were able to reach the world for Him.

 

III. Spy Out Your Own Particular Promised Land

 

The one who can best understand his/her particular “promised land” is the person to whom it belongs. Caleb, for example, spied out the mountain he wanted before asking Joshua for permission to take it. But Promised Land decisions should not be made alone. Solomon declared in Proverbs 15:22 that with many counselors there is wisdom. Godly people can help guide you to your Promised Land.

 

The best plan is to believe. It may take time, but it’s well worth the wait.

 

Ripping up Bad Report Cards: a Freeing Experience

Healing Foot Sores Through Christ’s Authority

The leg is full of rampant foot sores. Lord, how can this be?

How can your church have lost so much of its authority?

The Pharisees have plagued us with traditions made by man,

While Sadducees who don’t believe have mired us in quicksand.

They’ve dumped the dirt of criticism schisms on our feet.

Their sandy brine is full of slime, their clubs made of concrete.

With vengeful “sovereignty” they’ve wailed us so we scarce can stand.

To be plagued with a Job’s disease they claim is something grand.

“That poor guy’s suffering foot sores for the Lord, and so should you.

Don’t stand in faith but lamely claim your pity party stew.”

To Job they look and hold the verse “He gives and takes away.”

But what does God’s full Word upon this subject have to say?

 

It seems that once Job truly saw the Lord and understood

His character and that God for his life desired good,

His foot sores went away, for double was restored to him,

Because he heard the gospel preached upon that road so slim.

 

The whirlwind blew away all questions as to God’s true power,

Restoring health and sanity To Job that very hour.

This understanding gave to Job the awesome revelation

Of who God truly was to Him In every situation.

For as believers seek not only God’s gifts but His face,

How can they help but understand the fullness of His grace,

His true desire to save and heal, by His authority,

Not through opinions taught by man but supernaturally?

 

Healing isn’t about religious rules and regulations, but some people in rebelling against religious hypocrisy, deny the idea of supernatural manifestations altogether. We must return to true authority based on a knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word. That’s the way to see miraculous healings take place.

 

Too Much Knowledge Kills; Try the Tree of Life

They didn’t have to starve themselves. The tree of life was there,

Staring them right in the face, to eat from and to share.

They didn’t have to sweat for food to give their stomachs rest.

Perfection stood before them, yet it put them to the test.

 

Would knowledge not be better, to be clothed with intellect’s crown,

Two gods extraordinary set apart to fame, renown?

The serpent tempted them to trust in their own righteousness.

“A pedestal to pride is what you need to have success.”

 

“A taste of good and evil? You can handle it for sure!

Self-denial can kill, but man-made knowledge rings secure.”

And so, instead of eating from the precious tree of life,

They chose the pretty looking fruit which led to blame and strife.

 

But it made them self-conscious. Body shaming had begun.

They felt the need to cover up, their nakedness to shun.

For suddenly they saw themselves as open to attack,

With skin that lacked protection both in front and in the back.

 

The possibility of getting hurt became quite real,

For knowing evil showed them what their flesh so soft might feel

If hit by birds or bugs or germs they couldn’t even see.

To think they could have eaten of the tree of life for free!

 

For evil happens when somebody says “I’m in control!”

And tries to take upon himself the Holy Spirit’s role,

Attempting to bring good from evil which he claims to know.

But mankind simply wasn’t meant to probe such depths of woe.

 

In pride rejecting grace, man claims to know so very much

But in his wisdom acts the fool, rejecting Jesus’ touch,

Declaring in his willful ignorance that he’s the boss.

Oh Lord, please help him see the tree of life that bore the cross!

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Deep Sea Diagnostics: Holy Spirit Led Laser Surgery

I. Deep Sea Diagnostics

The diagnostics started when the Holy Spirit hovered over the waters. Then the Father spoke the Word – Jesus the Son (John 1:1), who created all things (Hebrews 1:1). Through the Holy Spirit, God performed laser surgery on a mixed up world – dividing light from darkness, waters from waters, sea from dry land.

“And God said, ‘Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that has life. . . And God created great whales, and every living creature that moves which the waters brought forth abundantly. . .  God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1:20-22)

Who can fathom the detailed wisdom required to perform such marvelous works?

How the Father, Son and Spirit worked together to create the world remains a mystery. What we do know, however, is that the Holy Spirit searches out the deep things of God (I Corinthians 2:10). His “deep sea diagnostics” can reveal God’s plans to us as well as where we have erred from those plans. What is His heart? What are his thoughts? The Holy Spirit knows. He zeroes in on our needs and the Father’s will for us.

 

II. Empowered to Do Laser Surgery Like Jesus Did

It is the Holy Spirit who brought Jesus the Great Physician to us (Luke 1:35). God (the Father) anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit, for the purpose of doing good and healing all those whom the devil had oppressed (see Acts 10:38).

Led by the Spirit, Jesus knew what people were thinking – like when the scribes and pharisees wondered how he could forgive a person’s sins (Luke 5:21-22). He also knew what the paralyzed man really needed (forgiveness) and what he needed to say to get him on his feet again.

Amazingly, Jesus said that those who believe in Him would do the same things He did, as well as greater things (John 14:12).

“And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues. . . they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” (Mark 16:17-18)

How would it be possible for them to do the same works Jesus did? Through laser surgery performed through the power of the Holy Spirit. He diagnoses deep needs and supplies wisdom for the cure.

 

III. The Holy Spirit as Teacher

Jesus called the Holy Spirit the Comforter “whom the Father will send in my name.”  He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26)

The Apostle Paul put it this way: “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” (I Corinthians 2:4-5)

He continues in verse 12, “Now we (referring to believers in Christ) have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God” – meaning the Holy Spirit – “that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.”

13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit) teaches. . .

IV. Holy Spirit Diagnostics and the Cross of Christ

When it comes to healing, human wisdom only goes so far. The finest surgeon in the world can only touch the surface of the need. But to the believer in Christ, God can give a word of wisdom or of knowledge, faith, or gifts of healing, just to name a few (see I Corinthians 12:8-10) The Holy Spirit can perform the diagnosis and provide the cure.

No CAT scan can compare to the “deep sea diagnostics” He performs. He is like a deep sea probe, exploring every aspect of the divine, as well as  He knows how we are made – each and every part – and understands us, body, spirit, soul.

He knows what’s in our minds as well as what lies in our hearts. When it comes to healing, man-made medicine has its limits, but the Holy Spirit sees what needs fixing. He can perform laser surgery on any area that causes pain.  Where detailed needs meet divine sovereignty, He applies the cross.

 

The Cure for Human Reasoning and Tasteless Seasoning

I. When Human Reason Equates to Tasteless Seasoning

                       (Based on II Kings 7:2)

 

There once was a man whose reasoning

Was like a tasteless seasoning.

Like salt that’s lost its flavor,

It simply would not let him savor

The truths locked up inside God’s Word –

In this case, prophecy he’d heard:

That, “About this time tomorrow”

God would end the city’s sorrow,

And this town by famine torn

Would have good reason not to mourn

Because the “shepherd of the sheep”

Would make the food supply so cheap.

 

But in a town besieged with war,

This reasoning man could not ignore

The bitter strum of endless doubt

Which in his hungry ears did shout,

“On your own strength you must rely.

For it you don’t, you’ll surely die.”

 

II. Human Reasoning Can Lead to Doubt

 

So, when Elisha gave the word,

He chose to question what he heard.

Instead of shouting, “What great news!”

He sort of blew a little fuse,

Recoiling almost instantly.

“You make it sound as if it’s free!”

 

“Who are you – some cute Pollyanna

Trusting God to rain down manna?

How He would do that, I can’t see.

But even so, how could it be?

My human reasoning says no,

It cannot fly, it will not go.”

 

This man on whom the king did lean

Could not accept what he’d not seen.

Nor could this person understand

What his intellect could not command

But let his reasoning replace

The mighty wonders of God’s grace.

 

III.  Jesus Can Cure Tasteless Seasoning Caused by Human Reasoning

 

He had allowed his faith to rust

And so lay trampled in the dust.

But that need not be so with us

If we’ll let Jesus steer our “bus.”

For He is THE true bread from heaven

Whose Word can counteract the leaven

 

Of legalism and deceit,

The tasteless salt we cannot eat.

He adds true flavor to the meat

Of joy that makes our lives so sweet.

His faith enables us to receive

What human reasoning won’t believe.

 

 

 

Through the Roof: Taking the Limits off Your Faith

Four men ripped apart someone’s roof one time and in so doing helped to take the limits off his faith (see the story in Matthew chapter 9). The paralyzed man’s malady had placed many limits upon him. He could not elbow away the people who crowded him out. The only way his friends could help him was by lowering him through the roof to see Jesus.

That’s because the house had limits as to how many it could hold. The crowd also had limits as to how much room it could make for the man and his friends.

Imagine seeing a body everywhere you turn,  blocking your view of the only one you really wish to see. But as Jesus once explained, all it takes is a mustard seed of faith to move a mountain – or, in this case, a crowd. And what happened did move them – not to tears but to cheers.

A mustard seed of brilliant inspiration enabled the paralyzed man to get his miracle. Such wisdom comes from looking up because it descends from God, the source of all true faith. But, like any other seed, it doesn’t do you any good unless you plant it. To plant that seed, these four friends really had to STRETCH their faith – all the way up to the roof and back.

What a ruckus they must have made as they tore off the tiles! The owner must have frowned as they tore his roof apart. But the paralyzed man’s friends were willing to go the distance to stretch their seed of faith into a tree – the sort that pushes past all barriers in order to bear much fruit.

Sometimes that’s what we have to do too. We may not have to tear apart a literal roof, but we may need to dismantle old mindsets (strong man-made opinions). Otherwise they may prevent God’s Word from sinking into our heads and producing faith inside our hearts.

For “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” (Romans 10:17).

The shoots that spring from one faith seed require air to breathe. That air equates to a spiritual atmosphere, for the air of heaven is what causes faith to flourish. Earthly ways of thinking tend to bog faith down, however. That’s because faith springs from truth (for if  we know something is God’s will then we know we will receive it – I John 5:14-15). But carnal thinking rests on lies: lies we believe about God, ourselves, and others.

We must strip away those lies like tiles on a roof, that faith might be extended through us from the top on down. Lies such as, “God can only help me so much,” and “I’ll only get so far with God,” evaporate like mist when we lay the paralyzed man at Jesus’ feet.

Jesus told the man to be of good cheer because his sins were forgiven. In so doing, He pinpointed the root of the man’s problem: the feeling that he must be worthy in order to be healed.

Apparently this guy had been feeling condemned, which naturally would make it very hard for him to receive healing. But as Romans 8:1 states, There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. If Jesus (through His forgiveness) sets you free from sin, then you are free indeed (John 8:36).

Jesus freely forgave the man and told him to rise up and walk. It was clearly a gift of God’s grace because the man did not deserve it. But he received it through faith – in this case, other people’s faith. That’s because they took the limits off their own faith and in so doing took the limits off of his.

Faith’s Journey: From Seed to Shoot to Fruit

I. From Seed to Shoot to Fruit

Faith starts out as a seed that stretches to become a shoot.

That shoot is destined to eventually develop fruit.

 

Along the way faith learns to speak. It shall not remain mute,

Provided it receives good care and doesn’t “get the boot.”

 

Sometimes when Jesus puts a seed of faith in someone’s hand,

That person sees hard ground and simply cannot understand

 

How best to help that seed grow up into a miracle.

Faith is a substance which contains amazing potential

 

But if you wrap it up in rags of your own righteousness

Then you will surely find yourself engulfed by fierce distress.

 

For, like a buried talent, that poor seed of faith can’t grow

Through your own sin-stained toil. You must let God help you sow

 

The faith that works through love, made possible through his shed blood,

A perfect sacrifice for sin. Receive the cleansing flood!

 

Remember: Those who grew their talents did it through a trade,

Replacing their despair with joy for which their Savior paid.

 

His grace given so freely is the soil that will nourish.

Through the power of His Spirit, He enables faith to flourish.

II. Faith Produces Fruit Through Love

“For verily I say unto you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”

Miracles are a fruit of faith, but faith starts as a seed. The important thing here, however, isn’t the seed itself. It’s the  soil in which the seed is planted.

“But that (seed, of faith) on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.” – Luke 8:15

So then, must we strain to bring forth fruit?

“Faith . . . works by love.” – Galatians 5:6

“God is love.” – I John 4:8

“Love (charity). . . believes all things. . .” – I Corinthians 13:1-7

“I (Jesus) am the vine, you are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing.”

“Looking to Jesus,  the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:2

“You shall know them by their fruits.” – Matthew 7:16

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16

 

 

 

 

From Shards of Shattered Homes New Heroes Arise

I. Shattered Homes: Signs of a Villain at Work

His home life: shattered. His peace: stolen. The world as he knows it: blown to bits.

Jesus said, “The thief (meaning Satan the accuser, also known as the devil) comes to steal, kill and destroy.” (John 10:10). The major villain of the story, Satan works behind the scenes, taking every chance he finds to ruin people’s lives. Unfortunately, he often succeeds.

Yet from shards of shattered homes, new heroes arise. This is a common superhero theme. Take the comic book figure Superman, for example, the hero from the exploded planet. He gets torn from his parents and his home gets shattered – literally. But after he lands on earth, he discovers he has superpowers which he uses for the good of all mankind.

Moses is another example. The “thief” in his day, Pharaoh, stole the Hebrews’ joy, killed their male babies, and destroyed their happiness. To save his life, his mother sent him sailing away from home. After he grew up, he led his people – his “shattered home,” if you will – out of bondage. With power from above, he freed them from the evil Pharaoh’s grip. Moses was like the superhero of the story, while Pharaoh played the villain role.

From a Christian viewpoint, the devil was and is the real villain, however. His influence results in many a shattered family. He enjoys ripping homes to shreds, leaving children with no sure place on which to stand. After all, how can they build their lives on sinking sand? Such “houses” always crumble. When storms beat on them, they sink. “And great was the fall of it.” (Matthew 7:27)

II.  Brokenness May Help Provide a Cure

The resulting brokenness,  however, may serve as a vessel to release the new hero into his destiny. That’s because, as he bursts forth from the eggshell that once shielded him, he discovers a new level of freedom. People who “walk on eggshells” no longer step on him. The Spirit of resurrection life he’s found in Christ gives him breath (see John 10:10 and Romans 8:2). He doesn’t have to feed off bland egg white anymore, but feasts freely off kernels of truth he finds inside God’s Word (see Deuteronomy 8:3 and Matthew 4:4).

Moreover, as he grows, he sees he can’t fix windows shattered by idolatrous points of view. But as he gazes at the only Rock worth serving, he gains a new perspective: who he is  and what he’s called to do. As he sees God work bad situations in his life for good,  he learns to trust Him more.

Comic Books, Like Bibles, Can Act as Portals

Comic books, like Bibles, can act as portals, transporting readers to a supernatural realm. That is a main theme in my book Speed of Sight, a Superhero Adventure. It is about an ordinary boy who reads a special comic book. This comic acts as a portal, transporting him to places he’s never been before and opening up his mind to the supernatural.

Like the Bible, this special brand of comic book inspires faith and gives hope to the broken-hearted. It enables the hero to see beyond his circumstances into a different, more powerful reality. As his home life falls apart, he sees the comic in his hand. It shines light on the evil forces that wish to ruin his life and shows him how to deal with them. After reading this comic, he finds himself sealed in a transparent pod which takes him on a trip through outer space.

Like Philip from the book of Acts, he gets “translated” from one place to another – in this case, it involves another realm. The comic acts as a catalyst, providing the faith fuel the hero needs on his journey.

While in this other realm, the hero meets the one who wrote the special comic books. This man, like Christ, is the author and finisher of the hero’s faith. With one touch  of  his pen,  this Christ figure empowers the hero with supernatural abilities. These supernatural abilities enable him to defeat bullies and save lives.

Such abilities, in a broad sense, represent spiritual gifts. The ability to see things others can’t, for example, may correlate to words of knowledge, wisdom, or discernment. The ability to move at super speeds is like a supernatural form of transportation. Again, I think of Philip, or perhaps Enoch the Old Testament saint.  He was the one who walked with God. Then suddenly one day he disappeared.

It was a miracle.

Miracles come from connecting with God and believing what He says.

As Daniel 11:32 declares, “Those who know their God will be strong and do exploits.”

Or, to quote Jesus, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believes on me, the works that I do he shall do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” (John 14:12)

Such Bible words build faith and open portals to the supernatural. Inspired comic books, which enable us to picture those words, can do the same. That’s what Speed of Sight is all about. Feel free to check it out. If you like it, take the time to give it a thoughtful review.

After all, it’s all about that portal, the connection that enables us to transcend time and space in order to connect us with the supernatural.

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