The Day After Valentines

A single person sat down in my office yesterday (Valentines Day) and said.  "Today is National Don't Go On Facebook Day."  I looked at them with a bit of confusion, and then it hit me.  All the Valentines Day posts.  I get it.

Love is a beautiful thing.  It can cause a lot of pain too.  We love each other, but when we betray that love - it hurts.  Stupid decisions can cause a lot of heartaches.

When we got married, I learned that you shouldn't assume anything.  Because I had seen my future wife in the kitchen and because some delicious food came out of that kitchen, I thought she could cook.  It wasn't until after we were married that I discovered that her dad was the one doing all the cooking.  The cooking gene skipped her.

I knew this after she confused pork sausage stuffing with hamburger and tried to cook me a burger.  That was different.

Or when she put BBQ sauce on the spaghetti because she forgot to get some pasta sauce.  (She really didn't think I would notice.)  

She has burned water.  Technically she has destroyed a few saucepans by boiling water and forgetting to follow up with whatever she wanted to cook.  But still, there was smoke and a fire alarm.

At first, I was a bit upset.  Starvation wasn't how I pictured marriage.  But then adaptation set in.  Thank God for microwaves.  Simple recipes books (A Man, A Can, and A Microwave) and McDonald's.

Now I only mention this because of a simple truth.  Marriage will never make you happy.  But you can find happiness in a marriage.

Ephesians 4:2-3: “With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

30 some odd years later did Betty learn how to cook?  Nope. 

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, help me to be the spouse you want me to be.  AMEN  

Happy Valentines Day

At the age of 16, I was a freshman in Bible College.  On the day of our orientation, we were assigned a number and told to get in line according to our number.  I was one of the last on the list, and because of that, I knew that I was going to get a horrible class schedule.  (I did.)  

As we lined up on the front steps of the library, there were students, parents, and friends all there to assist.  It was a hot August day in the Ozarks, and the northerners were not handling the heat well.  Tempers, even for a group of Christians, was beginning to get short.  

A mother and daughter were standing in front of me.  Their conversation was getting louder and louder.  The mother was trying to build her daughters' freshman schedule. However, she had no idea what she was doing.  About 50 other people and I couldn't help but overhear the growing argument.  

Finally, the mother said, "What don't you take Greek?"  I snapped.  I said something like, "Are you nuts?  That's a seniors class.  She'll get killed in there!"  To which the mother said, "Well, do you think that you can do better?"  I then showed her how to read the college catalog.  The code before each class title would tell her which classes were for a freshman.  I said, "Just stick to those."  

Betty will tell you to this day, "That's the day I fell in love with my husband.  Because he told my mother off."   If you're single, lesson #1.  Be careful who you yell at.  You might end up in the family.

Betty was as wild as they come.  I had no interest whatsoever in dating her.  But we were friends.  She would call me after one of her dates and tell me all about it.  I would call her after, wait, I didn't date. Nevermind.  

But by our sophomore year, I was sick of hearing about her dates, so I took her out on one.  Lesson #2.  Be careful who your friends are.  You'll probably end up dating them.  

She was a cheerleader, but by now she was singing in the college choir.  I was, well, in the library.  Any forays into social settings for me were painful and less than stellar.  So I would go listen to her sing, and she would come and watch me study.  Is it any wonder I proposed to her in the library?  (Nope, not a romantic place.)  Lesson #3.  You will get engaged to who you date.  

After we announced our engagement, things changed.  Not our love for each other.  But people treated us differently.  We had a great support system, and we had a group of haters.  I'm not going to name names because I'm still two dead people away from a great novel.  But I learned lesson #4.  Date more and be engaged less.  The stress almost destroyed us.  We got married between our junior and senior years, and the rest is history.  

Now I let Betty read this up to this point.  She said, "Very nice."  But here is the rest of the story.  

Love is a wonderful thing.  There have been a number of times in our life when all we had was our love for each other.  We've been married over three decades now and I can tell you, I still don't understand why she loves me so much.  

But I can tell you that she is my heart and soul.  I love her with all of my heart.  I want to protect her, support her, and encourage her.  I want her to know how great of a mom she is.  How I couldn't pastor this church without her.  How wonderful of a wife she is and how she is my best friend in the whole wide world.  Oh, lesson # 5.  When you say, "I do," they are now your best friend - forever.  Never ever let anyone be more important to you.  

I love you Betty Lynn Engstrom Jones.  Don't you forget it!   

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
PRAY for your spouse.  Pray for your family.  If you are single and looking.  Pray for God's will to be done in your life.  

Thinking Faith

Yesterday I asked you what you were thinking about.

Today I want you to think about faith.

Philippians 4:8  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

We live in a world that goes to extremes to be positive and good.  Considering all the evil and bad that there is out there, I don't blame them.  But just thinking good thoughts will never get you what you are looking for.  Because eventually you just run out of good.  

You need a deeper well. 

As a kid growing up in Arkansas, we went through droughts like every other part of the country.  But one summer I remember it was terrible.  Wells, which was the primary source of water of most of my family, were drying up.  Not good.  But my grandmother, who lived at the bottom of a deep valley, had a 200+ ft. Well. More in-depth than most in the area.  After wells starting drying up, people wanted to come with jugs and buckets to get some water.  

Now here's how the conversation went.  

These people need water!  But what if our well runs dry?  Then we will dig a deeper well.  

We watched and waited for the well to run dry.  Times didn't get better, but worse.  Through all of it that well never ran dry.

Being good and positive is great.  But what is your source for goodness and positivity?  Where is your well that will never run dry?

Here is what you should focus on today.  Truth not fake stuff.  Honor not disgrace.  Just not opinionated. Pure, not lewd.  Lovely, not hateful. Commendable, not corrupt.  Excellent, not lazy.  If all else fails to work, look for something to praise and not complain about.  

Get A Grip

Emotions are a beautiful thing.  Emotions are a terrible thing.  I feel good, no bad, no good, no bad. Ahhhh!

It is no wonder that so many prescription drugs are prescribed to people just so they can, "Get a grip"?

Now I have nothing against medical intervention.  Believe me, I can understand the need for it.  But all drugs do is shut emotions off.  You feel better, but then again, you don't feel.

1 Peter 5:7  casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
Now someone is probably shouting at me.  "Easier said than done!"  Maybe, but you've got to do it.  What's your other choice?

If your emotions are getting the best of you, here are a few things you probably need to do.

Place your faith in Christ.  I'm not saying that you don't believe in Him, but chances are you've not released this problem(s) to Him.

Cast.  Peter was a fisherman.  Casting nets was something that he understood.  Throw your worries at Christ as hard as you can and as far as possible.  What's the point here?  Surrender your control and trust Him.

Believe that He cares.  As long as you carry the worry you are declaring, "God doesn't love me."  He cares for you and wants to intercede in your life.  The key here is to follow His will instead of trying to get Him to bless your mess.

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, here's my stuff.  I can't deal with it anymore.  Teach me what to do.  AMEN

What Were You Thinking?

Proverbs 23:7  for he is like one who is inwardly calculating. [thinking] “Eat and drink!” he says to you, but his heart is not with you.

So I am sitting in a restaurant doing some work.  Then the manager and an employee sit down at the table next to me.  The employee tells the manager how she has accepted a job at another restaurant and that she is giving her 2 weeks notice.  She goes on to say that this is a great opportunity that actually helps her advance her career. 

The manager then says sharply.  "So you're quitting."  I'm thinking, "Really? I got it."  After a couple of pleasantries, the manager tells her very dispassionately, "good luck" gets up and walks off.  

Now I know nothing about this employees performance or the manager's particular mood at that moment, but it is evident to me what the manager was thinking.  It wasn't good, and it showed.  

What are you thinking?  

When it's all about you, all you think about is what other people say and do.  You worry about the potential damage they can to you in the future.   You will spend a lot of time trying to control their actions.  

When it's all about others, all you think about how you can contribute to their life.  What can you do to enrich them?  While thinking about yourself is a scarcity mentality thinking about others is an abundance mentality.  

When it's all about Christ, all you think about is honoring Him with your life.  You trust Him with your future that He is in control.  You serve others with the heart of Christ knowing that your witness is more important than your control.  

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, help me to think about the right things today.  AMEN  

Where's Hell?

So the question was posed to a group of people today, "Do people really believe that there is a hell?"  My answer was quick, "They believe in Satan, so I would think that they believe in hell."

But now as I think about it, I would like to revise my answer.  Yes, people believe in a real hell, they just don't care about it.

Revelation 21:8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

Well, the Bible is fairly clear about it.  There is a hell.  

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Revelation 20:15 And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

The Bible is fairly clear about who is going there.  

You might say, "Well, I know Jesus.  I asked Him to forgive me of my sins.  I'm going to heaven.  I don't have anything to worry about."  Nice.  But who are you taking with you? 

Don't you know people who if they leave this world right now, they won't spend eternity in heaven, but in hell?  I suspect you do.  But what are you doing about it?  Well here are a few things you can do. 

#1 Pray for them.  

#2 Live the Word of God in front of them. 

#3 Tell your story about your relationship with Jesus. 

#4 Invite them to join you at church. 

You may not be able to do anything about the crisis' that is happening in our world.  But you can do something about the crisis of faith happening in your friends and families life.  God is your biggest supporter, and if you take the step of faith to try, He will back you up every step of the way. 

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, please help me to reach my friends and family with the Gospel of Jesus.  AMEN