Story Time- Digging Up Clams As A Teen

One summer day when I was a teenager, some of my friends and I decided we should go to a local lake and get clams and have a clam bake like we saw in movies and on TV. So off we went wearing our blue jeans cut offs, sandals, and t-shirts to the lake. We went to a shallow area, took off our sandals and waded in the water.

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We used our feet to feel for the clams. We had buckets to put them in. We spent over an hour digging up clams with our feet and got good tans along with the clams. We filled four buckets with clams and were very excited to have a clam bake.

When we got back to my friend’s house, we showed his dad the clams and told him we were going to have a clam bake and he could join us. He told us, “Fresh water clams from lakes are no good. Throw them out or take them back to the lake.” Our spirits were dashed. We took them back and threw them in the lake.

If in our excitement we had talked with my friend’s dad before we went, we would have know it was not a good idea.

Too often we come up with our own ideas and then pray for God to bless them. It is much better to pray first and ask God for direction and guidance. The best opportunities I have had were after praying for opportunities.

By the way, funny thing is that one year later I worked part-time in a seafood restaurant. I tried clams and discovered I don’t like clams. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless,

Story Time- My New Teaching Toy

You know the saying, “the difference between men and boys is the price of their toys?” This past week that has certainly been true of me for my U.S. Citizenship classes. The Community Center I teach them for rents space from a larger Community Agency. That agency had something new installed in the conference rooms I teach in.

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The new set up has a large screen TV which is connected to the internet, a cool sound system, and has a cordless keyboard and mouse. It has been so much fun this past week trying out my new toy. 🙂

The classes are blended classes with some students joining in Zoom and some students in person. We can see the Zoom students on the large 64 inch screen. They can see the whole classroom. I have been having fun exploring what I can do with this wonderful new toy. 🙂

Even with the fun new technology, the most fun for me is the diverse group of students. My students come from Burma, China, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Iraq, Libya, Mexico and Sudan. As I teach them, I think about how they can all become Americans. We are all studying together because they each share the same goal.

Yet as wonderful as it will be when they each become citizens, it pales in comparison to the ultimate realization of diverse people coming together as one with the same purpose which will be to rejoice over being in the presence of Jesus. People from every tribe, tongue/language, nation will be there.

Another thought- no electronics, tech, toys etc in this life can compare to what we will see in heaven. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

700 Years Before Jesus Came-His Burial Predicted

The focus of Easter weekend is Good Friday remembering the death of Jesus and Easter Sunday remembering the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus died before sundown on a Friday and was risen after sunrise on Sunday. There is something about the between time, a small detail, that is faith building. It has to do with where Jesus’ body was between his death and resurrection.

Isaiah was written over 700 years before Jesus came. The are specific prophecies in Isaiah that point to Jesus such as a virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and call him Immanuel in Isaiah 7:14.

Isaiah is filled with prophecies about the promised Messiah coming in power. However tucked into Isaiah is a chapter that is about the suffering servant. Isaiah 53 points to details about the suffering and death of Jesus. One aspect is the burial of Jesus in Isaiah 53:9

He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
    and with the rich in his death,

A crucified criminal would have ben tossed into a mass grave after they died unless someone claimed the body. In Matthew 27:57-58:

As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him.

Why is this faith building? Consider the fact that over 700 years before Jesus came, a detail such as his burial was prophesied and was fulfilled by Jesus. It points to the validity of the bible.

Now think about the fact that Isaiah also has prophecies yet to be fulfilled such as The New Heavens and New Earth in Isaiah 65:

“See, I will create
    new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
    nor will they come to mind.
 But be glad and rejoice forever
    in what I will create,
for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight
    and its people a joy.

One could say the best is yet to come.

Thank you for reading. God bless.

The Urgency of Now

Last night during the bible study in John that I teach, one of my friends made a comment. He said, “Matt last week you said that we would finish our study of John when it is time for Easter. But the way things are going, Jesus might come back before then and we won’t finish.” We all had a good laugh.

Something has stayed with me in my spirit the past few days. I woke up the other morning after a dream I don’t really remember, but the phrase- The Urgency of Now- was in my spirit in reference to now being the time to decide.

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While it is true that every generation since Jesus ascended to heaven has believed Jesus would come back in their lifetime, the world seems to be moving faster to that point.

Whether Jesus returns soon or not, we are not guaranteed tomorrow or next week. If 2020 taught anything it is how uncertain life is. I remember last year at this time COVID sounded like much ado about nothing and looked what happened.

As Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 6:

For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.

Now is the day of salvation. Now is the day to receive Jesus as Savior. We are not guaranteed tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year.

It is about the urgency of now because we are not guaranteed anything after NOW.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A Contrast of Citizenships

I began to notice the subtle shift in my thinking about teaching U.S. Citizenship classes last year during the election. It really hit full force this week and it is a HUGE contrast to how I feel about sharing about Jesus and citizenship in heaven.

I have helped and taught refugees and immigrants for over 20 years. I have been to many U.S. Citizenship ceremonies and watched as my friends/students proudly became citizens of their new country. Those were such special moments for me.

But as we went through last year with all of the looting and burning down of cities, an election that I am still not sure of, and what transpired this week in Washington D.C., I noticed it yesterday as I taught Citizenship test prep classes.

I no longer believe in what I am teaching. I have lost that pride of being an American. I was only going through the motions of teaching but my heart was not in it. Corruption is rampant on both sides of the political aisle.

BUT

I most certainly believe in Jesus and the eternal citizenship in his kingdom that he offers freely to anyone who will believe in him. Jesus is not and never will be corrupt. In Jesus there is no darkness at all.

I am not certain if I will continue teaching U.S. Citizenship classes.

I most definitely will continue to share about Jesus and the heavenly citizenship he offers freely. His kingdom is not of this world but one day his kingdom will be fully realized on earth when he returns.

Until then I am called to be his ambassador, to represent him, in a world so full of turmoil.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

God’s Timing for Jesus’ Return

“He isn’t here. He is an American and we were very late.”

Those were the words of a young woman in Constanta Romania during my last trip there at Christmas time in 2005. I was there to help a partner church with their Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services. One evening there was a Christmas party for college students. I was waiting outside the apartment building for her and her brother for a ride to the church.

They had told me they would be there at 5pm. I waited until 5:15pm and then I thought something happened, so I took the bus. They arrived at 5:30pm. The brother suggested I was in the apartment. The sister said, “He isn’t here. He is an American and we were very late. He took the bus.”

They walked into the church and saw me. The sister laughed and told her brother, “I told you.” She shared with me what happened and we had a good laugh.

Over the years, I have come to appreciate the different views about timeliness among different cultures.

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God has a specific time set for when Jesus will return to earth. But it is not for us to know. When Jesus was asked about when he would set up the kingdom, his answer in Acts 1 was:

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

It is not for us to know the time Jesus will return. But we have work to do. Jesus wants us to share him with others. But God is not slow about the promise of Christ’s return. Peter wrote in 2nd Peter 3:

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

God is being patient, for now, because of his desire for people to come to know Jesus as their Savior. But the day is coming for Christ’s return. Until then Jesus has work for us to do.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Music Mondays- The Trumpet Shall Sound Performed by Phil Driscoll

I love Handel’s Messiah. I absolutely LOVE it as it weaves together Old Testament prophecies about Jesus with the birth of Jesus. The trumpet shall sound is a powerful reminder of what the ultimate culmination is for us.

One day the trumpet will sound in heaven and Christ will return for us. The dead will be raised and then those who are still alive will be changed to glorified bodies. God’s redeeming work for us will be completed when we our bodies are resurrecedt into glorified bodies just as Jesus was.

The whole reason Jesus was born as a baby was not so we could have warm fuzzy moments at Christmas time, though they are nice. The reason Jesus was born as a human baby was to become our Savior. Through him we can have forgiveness of our sins. Through him our lives can be transformed. Through him we can have eternal life and through him not only will our souls/spirits enter into heaven when we die, one day in the Father’s timing our physical bodies will be resurrected and changed into incorruptible bodies.

This is the great hope Jesus offers to anyone who will receive Jesus. This is the solid hope we can have in the midst of this crazy life. One day the trumpet will sound. Nothing can stop it.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

If The World Goes One Way, Do We Follow?

When I was a student in Bible College, I saw a painting of Jesus standing at the UN Building knocking on the door. It wasn’t the best painting as far as artwork goes, but the message was clear. The Prince of Peace was knocking on the door of the World Body.

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Bolivia, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, France, Gabon, Malawi, Mexico, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Senegal, Ukraine, United Kingdom and Uzbekistan.

As I look at the list of countries above, I think about how I have visited two, France and Mexico, and have had students all of them except the United Kingdom, which already speaks English, Gabon and Malawi.

Something else about these countries that perhaps some do not know. They are on the United Nations Human Rights Council.

China on the Human Rights Council? Yes, the country that is committing genocide against the Muslim minority Uighurs even harvesting their organs. Cuba on the Human Rights Council? Yes, the country people are willing to try to raft, sail, swim 90 miles to Florida across shark infested waters to get away from.

You get my point.

This is a bit of a long intro to Isaiah 55:8-

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.”

Just because the world says something is a good idea, does not make it a good idea.

In these uncertain times, I want to seek and follow God’s ways. Why?

My desire is for people I interact with to come to know Jesus as their Savior because I want to see them in heaven for all of eternity.

So even though the world says something is a good idea, does not mean I should follow it or live that way especially when it is counter to God’s ways. It is not only about me. It is about the souls of those people I interact with.

One day Jesus will return to earth. There will be no more United Nations. There will be no more corrupt governments torturing their own people. I want people I know to be with Jesus to enjoy that day.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Time???

Normally I write my post the night before and schedule it to publish the next morning. Today I did something different in my gleeful observance of the Fall Time Change. I love this one because we return to normal and being a Spoonie, I love the fact that I can have an extra hour of sleep.

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I woke up at 6:45 which yesterday would have been 7:45. I actually slept 8 hours last night not my normal 6 or 7. I did not set an alarm clock choosing to instead let the sun wake me up as it peeked in my window.

Speaking of time, Jesus is the creator as we see in John 1:3:

“Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”

Since Jesus is the creator that includes the creation of time. We read in Genesis 1:3-5:

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

So here is my thought for today I wish to share with you. Since Jesus created time and is eternal, he does not have the boundaries of time like you and me do. He stepped into time when he was on earth to be our Savior, but he is not bound by time. He is the eternal I Am along with God the Father and The Holy Spirit.

So Jesus is with us right now in our present time of us feeling uncertain and needing to walk by faith. At the same time Jesus is with us in our future and already knows what happens in our future. Jesus is with you now, tomorrow, next week, next year all at the same time.

For me that is a very comforting thought. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Jesus, A Donkey, and His Father Part 4

In April it was a blessing to host my first blogger chat. Out of that chat came the idea to do a blog chain on the topic Jesus, A Donkey, and His Father centering around Palms Sunday when Jesus rode into Jerusalem.

Kelly of The Simple Preacher started it off with Jesus, A Donkey, and His Father Part 1.

Deandra of Imago Dei at deandrahurst.com was second with Jesus, A Donkey, and His Father Part 2.

Dawn of Drawing Closer to Christ was third with Jesus, A Donkey, and His Father Part 3.

So today it is my turn with Jesus, A Donkey, and His Father Part 4.

When I think about Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey to fulfill his and the Father’s plan for our salvation, two thoughts come to me. 1- It was a fitting way for him to ride in. 2- It is a stark contrast to how he will return.

When Jesus came the first time, he came as the suffering servant. He emptied himself of all of his glory to be born as a human baby. His earthly birth was in extremely humble circumstances being born in a stable where the animals were. He once commented during his earthly ministry in Matthew 8:

“Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

So for Jesus to ride into Jerusalem on a donkey for the week that would fulfill his mission of dying on the cross to save us, it was a fitting way for him to enter. At that point he was still the suffering servant.

The stark contrast is with what his return will look like. In Revelation 19 we read;

“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean”

When Jesus returns, he will return in all of his glory as the victorious Lord of Lords. He will return as King on a white horse not as a suffering servant.

The good news is if we embrace Jesus as the suffering servant, our Savior, then when he returns as Victorious King, we will be ready.

Next Tuesday Lydia of inhisserviceandlovingit.wordpress.com will finish off the series with Part 5. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.