Author Archives: Clark

Who’s the Boss?

Have you ever come up with a bright idea of a new way to accomplish a task and decided to run it by the boss?  If you are fortunate, the boss says ‘sure, give it a try’ and then the idea fails miserably.  Or maybe you are the boss, or think you are, and the same thing happens.  How many second chances of trying the same thing do you think you should take?  How many trials would the boss give you before you are told, ‘go back to the way we know that works!’  Probably no more than a couple times before you are demoted or tapped on the head and told get back to work, otherwise you have a very forgiving boss.  Sometimes the boss knows best and following orders is best for everyone.  Sometimes you quit and try to do things your own way  instead of taking orders with which you don’t agree.  Sooner or later, you figure it out.  When have you ever gone against what you have been told to do?

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.  James 4:10

If you have a good boss, or employee, or wife, or anyone else you have offended, or told off in the past, only to realize that they were right in the first place, then you either have to pretend that you were right, or admit your mistake and one way or another, ask for forgiveness.  Because if they are not very forgiving, and many are not, then they will likely tell you to get lost.  We don’t always get it right every time, and having others around us who are willing to be a little gracious to us and others is important in life.  When we are more gracious and forgiving toward others, they tend to be so toward us as well.  When we are harsh and rigid, others act the same way toward us, and we see the consequences. 

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.  The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.  The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.  Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.  Romans 8:5-8

When God gave us rules, plans and procedures to follow, it was not just for our own benefit, but for the benefit of others as well.  It is also for the benefit and reputation of our team and the company we work for.  When we are God’s children, we represent Him and everyone else in the company and ‘the church’ as well.  He gives us the guideline of laying down our lives and letting his Spirit guide our steps in all we do in accordance with His will.  Its not always an easy thing to do, as it fights against our selfish nature, but when we practice it more and more, it shows in our lives.  When we go against God’s law and His guidance for our lives, it negatively impacts Him, us, and those around us.  Thankfully, when we humble ourselves and seek forgiveness, he allows us a second, third, and fourth chance to try to get it right.  Where is He giving you that chance today? 

 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.   Galatians 2:20

Yours in Christ,
Clark

 

Fearfully Made

So, this past evening, I get a call from my sister-in -law asking if I would come check out a noise in the crawl space of her house.  My wife just got home with the older kids, so I tell her I am going exploring at her old house.  I suspected some sort of animal, so I brought a trap, a baseball bat, and leather gloves, just in case.  When I get there, the crawl space window is pushed open, and the lights that have worked in the past do not.  So, flashlight it is!  I peek through the opening and don’t see much of anything.  I climb down into the window well and poke my head in to see better, and eventually I see two beady eyes looking back at me at the other end of the house.  Once I could identify at least one of the animals there was in fact a possum, any fears I may have had subsided significantly from my worst case scenario of a rabid badger.  Catching him was another challenge, but it eventually ended with me making him mad trying to grab its tail, and then watching him run to the other side of the house, up and out the window opening.  In hindsight, there were worse fears I faced this day.  How do you deal with the fears you face in life? 

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

When I was a young child, I remember a few instances of being scared of the dark, or of certain situations where I found myself.  It wasn’t so much the dark I was afraid of, but what ‘might be’ in the dark that I couldn’t see.  In one’s mind, it could be anything you would fear could take your life, or hurt you.  In reality, it is usually nothing.  At times, these fears can be fueled by what other things we allow into our minds as well.  Back in elementary and middle school, I was into reading about paranormal things like ghosts, UFOs, Cryptozoology and the like and I vaguely recall considering encounters with these types of things as things I may be afraid of.  It wasn’t always even based in what was likely, but the 0.001 percent chance of what might happen.  What truths have displaced the myths from your mind? 

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.  We love Him because He first loved us. 1 John 4:18-19

As I have grown and matured as a Christian, I have come to a point where I don’t fear death, or anything that may bring it about.  I put my trust in my Creator of when my time will come to an end and look forward to meeting Him.  This doesn’t mean I want to die now, but I don’t fear it either.  The same can be said of any other fears, of disease, of loss of things, or a job, or reputation, or loved ones, or anything else.  Being close to God, and experiencing a few close calls, has also given me better judgement, and I try not to put myself into as many situations where I could get hurt or die.  When the truth of God’s Kingdom is evident in our lives, the little things that used to make me pause or stumble now may even motivate me.  I like the challenge of facing some of the fears that once haunted me.  With God as my foundation, I can withstand any obstacle, weather any storm, overcome any challenge, even death, and so can you!

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.  John 16:33

Yours in Christ,
Clark 

 

Messy

How do you deal with things you hate doing?  Most people don’t like doing dishes, and as a result may let them pile up until they use all the spoons and then decide something has to be done.  The same may be said of laundry, garbage, doing taxes, etc, and other things that are not really enjoyable activities.  The problem with putting these things off is that it becomes more of an inconvenience when there are not clean plates to use, or when things start to smell from needing cleaned up or washed.  If you have ever visited a teenager’s room, or let garbage sit for too long, your nose can lead you in the direction of things that need addressed.  If you don’t do something about the things that stink in your life, it doesn’t go away and only gets worse.  How do you deal with the messes in your life?

Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.  Proverbs 28:13

Do you have an area of your house where things go to hide?  Maybe it is a spare room, basement, or garage that collects things that are out of season, need repaired, or that you want to give to someone you don’t see often?  There are sections of our garage where I know I put things, but that needs organized better to find them quickly.  Putting things out of sight doesn’t really help us deal with them, because we quickly forget about them and go on with the things right in front of us more easily.  It is easy to do this with material things in our life, but eventually we or someone else has to deal with them at some point.  It is not always as easy to deal with issues, relationships, and emotions we try to put off or ignore when we really need to deal with them as well.  What things have you been putting off that need addressed? 

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.  2 Chronicles 7:14

How do you deal with sin in your life when you realize that’s what it is?  When the things that are detestable to God become detestable to us, we usually come up with one of several responses.  We can ignore it and pretend it doesn’t exist, put it off and downplay its seriousness, try to justify it and accept it in our lives, or deal with it and remove it now.  Most of these techniques are called sin management, where we try to avoid, hide, or walk around the issue without really dealing directly with it.  When we want to repent and turn away from sin as much as God wants us to, there is usually only one option that is acceptable.  You may need to repent and turn from that issue several times more, but when you do, it usually becomes less of an issue each time.  God wants us to confess it and deal with it instead of hiding it or justifying it. 

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.  Psalm 51:10-12

There comes a feeling of satisfaction and even joy when you get all those dishes done or realize that the garage is as clean and organized as it has ever been.  The same is true when you confront and deal with the sin in your life that you have been ignoring or trying to juggle for some time.  It is not an easy thing to do, but there is joy to be found when you confess and address and make strides in overcoming those things that keep you imprisoned.  And just like a clean garage eventually gets messy again, there are things we will need to revisit again, but it does get better.  May you find joy in that process as well!

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.  Acts 3:19

Yours in Christ,
Clark

Present

What’s the best present you have ever received?  Was it an unexpected gift someone surprised you with that you continue to cherish today?  Was it some teaching or advice that you continue to use and live by years later?  Maybe even more than any material thing, the best present was just the presence of someone in your life.  Weather it was a special moment with someone you care about deeply, or just the influence they have had on you over time.  Maybe there are several people who fit this description for whom you are grateful.  Maybe this person is even God the Father, the Son, the Spirit, who guides and directs you each day.  Whatever that present means to you, maybe you can continue to give the same gift to others, so that it continues to have influence in the world, going forward. 

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

One morning earlier this week, I was rushing to get things ready for my work day and eventually got on the road and it was about 20 minutes into my drive when I noticed that everything was frosted like it was about to be put out on the shelf as a Christmas decoration.  I kind of wondered if I had just driven into an area where this was the case, but then realized, probably not.  I had just been so focused and thinking about other things, that I didn’t see the beauty all around me.  Some nay-sayers might comment that there is nothing nice about Winter, but they are blind to the truth as well.  We have seen much snow lately, and this past week, one day had some big flakes falling softly to the ground.  It was as mesmerizing as gazing into a fire and you just get lost in the powerful gentleness of what it is.  Each season of the year and of life has something marvelous for us to see if we just stop for a moment to witness the miracles all around us. 

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.  Psalm 19:1-2

It seems I often get so caught up in what I have to get done, or do next, that I can miss opportunities and moments where I should stop and be more fully involved and present.  I don’t fully realize this until I do stop and engage with someone longer, or just sit and enjoy the company of others without feeling the need to rush off soon.  A month ago, I thought I would just stop to say hi to some old friends, when I had about 200 miles to travel yet.  We ended up visiting for 3 hours, and it flew by like it was 20 minutes.  I then wonder if I even desire to spend time like this talking to and praying with my God and my Lord, or whether I would be willing to carve out a portion of my day or night to do so, because more often than not, I do not seem to have any prolonged time to spend in His presence.  It is when I consider where I am spending my time and energy that helps me better see when my priorities are out of place.

 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  James 1:2-4

How about when you encounter any trials or struggles in your life?  Do you ever see these as a gift from God?  More often than not, it is something that you pray to God to help you get through and overcome, instead of something to learn or grow from.  Maybe when you look back on some of the things you have gone through, at that point you can see it as something that was good for you, but it is very seldom we realize this in the midst of that struggle.  Not everything bad that happens to us always turns out to be good, but there is usually something we can learn from it to help us grow or teach others.  If there is something frustrating you are dealing with now, it doesn’t hurt to talk to God and even ask Him to show you what if any good may result from it, or how to redeem something of value from the messes we deal with in life.  If there is anything that our God is in the business of doing, it is redeeming good from a bad situation.  As you move forward each day, may you see beyond the current crisis to a new joy which lies beyond!

Yours in Christ,
Clark

Münstermaifeld

Over a decade ago, I remember driving through a small German village thinking, ‘I wonder what it is like to live here.’  Maybe it was the unique name, or the visual impression of the green grass and timbered houses, but somehow it stayed in my memory.  I’m not sure how many people there were Christians or even what type of churches they had, but I’ve since prayed for the people there.  Have you ever randomly prayed for someone you didn’t know?  Maybe it was a chance encounter with someone who impressed you, or you just felt led to lift them up before God.  I sometimes do this to vehicles that go by, or even for a plane up high in the sky.  Does a prayer for strangers even work?  God only knows.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.  1 Timothy 2:1

Is it better for someone to say they will pray for you, then they don’t (but you maybe feel better), or for them not to tell you anything then pray for you, or to say they will and then pray?  Probably the latter two, because the first is just meant to make you look/sound better before men and not so before God.  Or maybe the impression that someone is praying for you actually helps too?  God only knows.  I think the important thing is to act, either in prayer, or words, or actions, when God leads you to do so.  The result may not be what you were hoping or expecting, but it is likely one of obedience.  Maybe it is just a good policy to act in love toward others, whether or not you know if or why you are doing it. 

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.  John 13:35

This past Saturday, during a quiet/prayer time during a retreat, one thing I was led to do was to pray for a young couple, who are not practicing Christians, but who are trying to have a baby and have had difficulty in doing this.  It was interesting when I got a message from them the next day asking to visit with me, when I had not talked to them directly for over a couple months.  I’m not sure how you are supposed to tell someone you are praying for them, but I did share that, and tried to convey my love and care about them, as a starting point.  I’m not sure if this will make a difference in their faith or their lives, but I just felt it was my responsibility to do what I felt what God was asking of me.  Have you ever wondered what, if anything, resulted from you just trying to do ‘the right thing’ in any given situation?  Maybe you will know some day. 

 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.  Ephesians 4:32

In my experience, whenever you pray for someone, whether that is an immediate family member, a stranger, or even someone that you have no good feeling for, or have even hated, it brings about better things in you.  You almost have to forgive others before you pray for their well-being.  And often the result of praying for others not only brings about feelings of concern for them, but often causes you to act in love.  Especially toward those in our immediate family, who often easily offend us, or who we can take for granted.  It puts their concerns before God and before your concerns.  Prayer isn’t really meant to change God’s mind about something we want, but to conform our hearts and minds toward what He wants.  And more often than not, it is to act in love and forgiveness toward others.  What are some ways you can do that today?  I know I have a long way to go before I really get there.

Yours in Christ,
Clark

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