Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> EAGLES' REST: August 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

Two Sacrifices. BIG Difference

Many, many years ago, a friend committed suicide. He sensed ... despite the fact that he was a believer ... no other way out of the mess he'd gotten himself into.

It was debt.

He'd done some gambling with some friends, and ended up owing them a few thousand dollars. After being unable to pay them, over several years, it so ate at him that he killed himself. But he left behind some instructions, for his wife ... now a widow ... as to how she should go about paying off the debt with the proceeds from his life insurance.

One of the first folks that she went to pay, told her "He owed me some money, but you don't owe me anything". Her line, which was really the impetus for this post, was:

"My husband DIED so this debt could be paid, and you ARE going to take this money".

And he did.

There's one similarity with, and one huge difference from, the sacrifice Jesus made on Calvary .. and really, with His entire life, death, and resurrection.

The difference: He didn't owe the debt. You and I? We sure did. But not Jesus.

There's another difference: the folks he owed the money to, didn't need the money. Us? The debt is far more that we could ever pay.

The similarity was that He died to pay off a debt. And, He died with the intention that we "take the money", so to speak. That the benefits payable upon His death, actually be paid out.

And, man oh man, do we ever need it. Because without His sacrifice, we're hopelessly lost, and bankrupt in every account that matters to God.

Seeing that Jesus was God's only Son, that makes me think God really must love us you and me, that He'd sacrifice His own Son.

And He intends for us to take what it was that Jesus came to give, too.

Abundant Life.

Jesus said that, you know. He didn't say "I am come that they might have life, and have it more eternally". Nope, the words He used were "...more abundantly." And, according to my Strong's Concordance, that means "superabundant (in quantity) ... superior (in quality) ... by implication, excessive..". And that sounds just like the sort of life I'd like to have.

Question: when you purchase a gift for someone, do you hope they'll actually want it? That you've actually gotten them something they'd like to have? If so, then maybe you can get a glimpse of how the Lord hopes we'll want an abundant life, with all that means, for which He paid such an incalculable price.

If you're saved, you're not just "barely saved". You're saved to the uttermost. Chas. Spurgeon, Billy Graham, or your pastor are not one bit more saved than you are. And you were saved to live an abundant life.

I think God left us some clues as to how to have one, too. It's called The Bible. Check it out, if you want one, and then be ruthless in ridding your life of anything that interferes with your obedience to God. I think you'll find the result is the abundance that so many believers seem to be missing.

If you're not saved, of course, that's your first problem. You cannot, by yourself, obtain that kind of abundance, no matter how hard you try.

If you are, then maybe it's time to start believing that God really does keep His promises.

He does.

Always.




Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Exercises Are Over Continue

What you're looking at in the picture over there is (1) a Bio-Med Bio-Met Semi-Recumbent Elliptical, in the foreground, and (2) a Monark 881 Rehab Trainer, (actually, several of them) behind. On 36 separate days, since April 22 of this year, I've tried my best to wear them out.

I previously blogged here about the fact that I was prescribed 36 sessions of Cardiac Rehab Exercises, after having a stent put in April 6th, by my cardiologist. Yesterday was the last of those Medicare-funded (thanks, all you taxpayers) rehab sessions.

In the beginning, I suffered through endured enjoyed four 5-minute stints of exercises, mostly on those two machines. Those were gradually increased until, yesterday, I agonized through rejoiced over completing four separate fifteen minute sets of exercises .. one whole hour of increased heart rate, blood pressure, and huffing and puffing elevated respiration rate.

Actually, the hour's exercise yesterday, completed in about 65 minutes, was a whole lot easier than the 20 minutes was, some four months ago. And, to boot, I've had to cut my BP medicine in half, to keep my BP from getting too low!

The exercise has been really, really good for me. But, alas, I've fulfilled the prescription.

I will, however, continue the exercises. See, the rehab center makes their facilities available to ex-patients, for $5.00 a visit! They just record when I come in and work out, and at the end of the month, the hospital .. of which they're a part .. will send me a bill for the five bucks per visit. Since one of those machines costs $4,995 and the other costs $2,695, I figure $5 a session is as big a bargain as I'm likely to find these days.

So, while the exercise the doctor prescribed ended about 4 pm yesterday, my exercise isn't stopping. I'm going to be going back twice a week for an hour's session, which, hopefully, will at least maintain the gains I've made in the past 4 months. I've been going there Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, but with church suppers at 5pm on Wednesdays, I'll cut back to just the two weekly sessions at the 3 o'clock hour.

Because I want to.

NOW: as I sat there pedaling and pumping on the Bio-Met yesterday, I got to thinking. I started this because I was told to. Because it was expected of me. Because common sense and some highly educated folks told me that it'd benefit me. And that's proven to be the case, in a big way. I mean, reducing BP meds? Hasn't happened to me before!

And all the walking and stuff we did on the Alaska Cruise and the bus tour? I could never have done half that stuff, had it not been for the cardio I'd been doing on the machines in the picture.

SO: as I was reflecting on church, I got to thinking that too often we're told what we should be burdened about. The lost .. the babies in the nursery .. witnessing .. going on mission trips .. feeding the poor .. etc etc. But the fact is, we cannot pick and choose what to be burdened about! Assigning "burdens" is solely the prerogative of God! But, the good news is that He'll do it, once we are willing to follow up on whatever task He assigns us.

For me, the deal is obedience. Find out what God wants you to do in the continuation of the work Jesus started a couple thousand years ago. Then dive in, headlong. No safety nets, no holding back. Just jump in.

How to find out what it is? There are more methods for finding your areas of giftedness than I can shake a stick at, and if you don't know how, ask! Then, when God points you in some direction, hit it! See .. God enables you to do what He has in mind for you to do, and He will develop what you need as you get to work. You can't gain strength for His work by reading about it, any more than you can get thin by reading diet books, or build muscles by reading body-building magazines.

If you'll serve Him out of pure grind-it-out obedience, you'll be amazed at the heart He will give you for the work He's assigned you.

Let the exercises begin!

Monday, August 23, 2010

We Have an "Unless" God

I was standing in line at the Post Office this morning, waiting to mail a package, when I noticed the sign in the picture. Fortunately, I had my cell phone, featuring a built-in camera, so I snapped me a picture. It spoke to me, so I think I'll speak about it.

UNLESS ... "the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain." Psalms 127:1, NIV.

Well, of course this verse would tickle my fancy .. I've maintained for years that it's the Lord's involvement in what we do that produces fruit. It's not our teaching a lesson or preaching a sermon that changes lives, it's God .. via the Holy Ghost .. working in their lives afterwards, that brings about change. After all, we're only unworthy servants, doing our duty (if you don't believe that, check Luke 17:10 for what Jesus Himself said about that..). This is why Henry Blackaby pointed out, in "Experiencing God", the necessity of our looking around to see what God's doing, and then getting involved in that work.

Hey .. Jesus said that's what He did, and if it was good for Him, then it'd sure be a good idea for me.

I figure if His involvement is necessary for building a house or watching a city, that it's going to be necessary for all that I do, or try to do, in the Kingdom work. Early on, I was cautioned about "running ahead of the Lord"; I think Moses killing the Egyptian guard was a pretty good example. Moses knew the people should be set free, so he undertook the job himself, and look what it got him.

David, on the other hand, seems to have been specifically instructed on the fact that God was involved with him & Goliath, and that whole episode turned out rather well, for David.

And then, when God did tell Moses it was time for the people of Israel to be set free, it happened, in ways man could never have done.

Over the years, I've had a lot of people ask me how they can know when God is telling them to do something. My normal response is to observe that they seem to be depending on their own ability to hear, rather than on God's ability to make Himself heard.

He's good at that, if we're willing to act on what it is He wants us to do. It's been my experience that God doesn't submit His plans to us for approval. He reveals His plans to His willing workforce, who are ready to get on with the task.

There seems, to me, to be a hint of this in the ordinance of Communion. That's based on His statement that those who don't eat His flesh and drink His blood have no part in Him. See .. up and down the food chain, so to speak, it's always the higher that takes in the lower. Grass can't become cow, but the cow can eat the grass. Same goes for cows & people, and for man getting right with God. We could never get right with God unless God reached down and did something to accomplish that (which He did).

But along comes Jesus, and tells us that we are to take His flesh and blood into our very beings. That tells me that He didn't give up the ministry He started (remember how He told us to tend to the poor and the widows, and visit the captives?) ... He wants to continue it, and he wants to use your flesh and my flesh, as followers of Christ, to do it!

We're all the flesh He has, down here.

So. When we run ahead of Him, we're trying in our own strength. And we're doomed to fail in the ways that matter.

We have an "Unless God". Unless He builds the house .. visits the sick .. gives to the poor .. feeds the hungry .. teaches the class ... all while using our flesh to do it, then we labor in vain.

I just don't have time to do that, any more.

Neither do you.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

I Got a Perfect Bill in the Mail Today....

That's it, in the picture. What makes it perfect, for me, is that they're billing me for $0.00.

I'd love it if the power company, the cable company, the gas company, and a few others would adopt that practice, too.

Nobody's crazy here .. the bill is for my Cardio Rehab, and it's being paid by Medicare (thanks, all you taxpayers), plus the supplemental coverage Peg and I carry. So, I don't owe any of the bill, myself. The part that amuses me is that they included an envelope, presumably for me to send them a check for Zero dollars and Zero cents. I guess that would be like giving a blank CD to a Mime, right?

Anyway, this got me to thinking .. it's the same bill I got from Jesus, for my salvation. I put my faith .. my trust .. in Him, to save me, when I was a little kid, And He did, and the bill I got for my salvation was for Zero Dollars and Zero Cents.

The actual cost of the Cardio Rehab was considerable, but somebody else paid it for me. And the actual cost for my salvation was infinitely more considerable, but Somebody paid that bill for me, too.

Jesus.

Every morning, I wake up with a new bill from Him. It's for Jesus, and it's for Zero Dollars and Zero Cents. But there's this envelope there, for me to send Him my payment, regardless. So, what is it? To explain, let's look again at hospital deal.

See, Medicare paid for my rehab services, but I had to go and do what they said. And I did. I pushed and pushed, and in fact have previously blogged about the results of my obeying the instructions of the folks at the rehab center, here. If I'd gone there and goofed off (which I don't think they'd have let me get away with..), or otherwise avoided actually doing what they'd suggested I do, I'd be a whole lot worse off now, than I actually am. So .. I literally thank God that I had the determination to do what I was supposed to do as a cardiac patient in need of rehab.

My resting heart rate is down in the 50's & 60's, I've had to cut my BP meds in half since my BP had gotten so much better, and I have energy like I haven't had for some time. At least I do when I reduced the BP meds and got the pressure back up to 110/65 or so.

On the other hand, the bill from Jesus has to do with how I live my life. The course He has prescribed for me is designed to produce an abundant life, and just as I desire to be in better shape, have lower BP, etc, I desire to have an abundant life, too.

I don't have to have one. But I do want one. So I do the exercises my Heavenly Therapist has prescribed for me. See .. the great part about it is that, while no matter how well I do my cardio rehab, I'm going to die some day. Guaranteed. But with the abundant life, that's never going to end.

So why wouldn't I want to get started on that one, right now?

Thanks, Jesus. My payment, on the bill I don't owe, the one you already paid for me, is in the mail every day. Thanks for giving me that choice.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Little Philosophy From The Folks

As in my folks. Mom and Dad.

Peg was sorting and packing some stuff we'd stashed away in an old dresser in our spare bedroom, this morning, and found four different paper napkins that have been in there ever since Mom lived with us; she was packing the stuff away to store in the attic, and brought me the napkins to see.

So, while I guess the thoughts really come from the folks who printed the napkins, Mom did buy them and keep them, so they must have said something meaningful to her. She even kept them through several moves .. perhaps as many as many as seven .. so I'm guessing there are some messages in there for me, too.

Indeed, there are. The napkin at the top says "Welcome to our house". My folks were hospitable people. I recall many evenings when they'd have visitors over, most particularly to play pinochle once a month. And, in fact, one of those visits was indirectly responsible for my getting saved (chasing a rabbit here).

The dining room, where they played Pinochle, shared a wall with our bedroom, and our bedroom door was maybe two feet from the opening into the dining room. So we could hear what was going on, and I recall Dad saying two things out there .. one was "nothing's sure except death and taxes", and the other was a reference to the fact that we all die, sooner or later. That got me to thinking about dying, which scared me, which eventually led to the discussion during which I trusted Christ to "take me to heaven when I die".

It was just that simple. So, I'm glad they were hospitable folks.

Another napkin is just a Thanksgiving-themed napkin. No message, other than Thanksgiving. And that was always a special day at our house .. not for the spiritual aspects, but Mom always made a production out of Thanksgiving Dinner .. I recall exactly ONE Thanksgiving Dinner we ever had elsewhere .. so that was kind of drilled into my genes, apparently. We always celebrate Thanksgiving at home (which is where we live, not where we go), and since Peg was raised that way, there's never any question.

It also ties in to the first napkin, as the past couple of years, Peg's invited other folks, who don't have any local family, to come have dinner with us on Thanksgiving.

One of the napkins is just a collection of Pennsylvania Dutch colloquialisms, which Dad always found amusing. Oh, he never poked fun at them, but he found language interesting, anyway, and Mom got this one when they lived in Pittsburgh, and occasionally ran into some Pennsylvania Dutch folks.

Languages? He took first-year Spanish and second-year Spanish the same year, in High School. Unbelievable as it seems, he got a "B" in Spanish One, and an "A" in Spanish Two. When the teacher told him he couldn't do that, Dad told him "Well, just give me an "A" in both".

The teacher did!

The fourth napkin has four interesting "cute sayings" on it. Interestingly, they evoke memories of certain parts of scripture. For instance:

"A Smile wins Friends, chases Blues, Lightens Work, and costs nothing".

Proverbs 15:13-15, and 17:22, anyone?

"A Handful of Patience is Worth More than a Bushel of Brains".

How about Galatians 5:22? Or James 1:4? Or Isaiah 40:31?

"All the Wealth of the World Could Not buy a Friend." Check Proverbs 18:24, 27:27, 27:6, and I'm sure you can think of some verses, too.

"The smallest Good Deed is better Than the Grandest good intention."

See Matthew 10:42, and also most of the second Chapter of James.

Dad died in March of 1988, and Mom died in July of 1997. But it was nice hearing from them this morning.