“Changing the frame doesn’t change the picture it changes the way you look at the picture.” Author Paul Scanlon
I am afraid that way to often, we look at the picture(s) of our life through the frame of self, pain, hurt, sin, humanness, etc… Way more often than we look through the frame of God’s amazing love for us, His forgiveness, His signature on the masterpiece of our life, and His plan for us. Perhaps the frames we use have burdened the plan of His call for our life. Thus making the burden way to heavy for us to carry, way to obsolete to be relevant in this time, perhaps even too ugly for the beauty that He has created all around us.
The thoughts of my heart and soul, are now shifting to visual of His ultimate enjoyment in seeing you and I be more like Him, than the striving to be sin free. I am becoming more and more aware that as Christ Followers we are not to be works-based, but we are to truly be MASTERPIECES! And we are that, not because of anything that we do, but because of what He has already done… Look at what Scripture tells us in Ephesians. 2:8-10…
“8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
Think of the art gallery of your life, and the frames that you use to set them up to challenge yourself and other people. You and I have some really beautiful paintings and then some pretty rough paintings. Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t keep in His gallery just the good paintings, but the rough paintings too! All of them – MASTERPIECES! And then He frames in the context of the fact that we are His MASTERPIECES, not junk for the rubbish pile!
Today, be free to know that you do not earn the title Masterpiece. You were given that title! You are not working to earn anything from God! You are His and there is nothing that you can do or change for God to stop thinking of you as His Masterpiece!
Be who God intended you to be!
Know that our heavenly Father looks at you and is pleased with what He sees!
Winter – deep and dark colors, black, gray, navy blue.
Spring Time – Light colors, pastels of blue, green, yellow, pink, purple, and green!
Colors tell us where we are and what time the season is. But then, we begin to blend in with the settings around us! And in this season of spring, we find ourselves in a “Stay at Home Advisory’, blending in out of necessity for life. We are now having to be intentional about those COLORS we love to see here in New England – the white and grays of winter, to the greens, yellows, oranges, and pastels of spring.
How does this affect us as Christians? We could say that red is a Christians favorite color, because of Calvary. We could say that white is a Christians favorite color, because of Redemption. We could say that blue is a Christians favorite color, because someday we will be caught up in the sky with our savior! All are true, but think about this…
We are called to be a peculiar people! To not blend in! To be different! This week as we begin to celebrate the Easter season, the thought crosses my mind, “What do people see when they look at me, a Christ Follower?” Do they see traditional or contemporary, how about a style of music, a particular political bent? Does my family not just look different, but act different and actually walk the as Jesus walked? I want to encourage, us both, to take an inventory of our hearts and lives. “Match our colors with Christ, not our surroundings!”
Easter is literally 1 week away! Find a friend, neighbor, co-worker, relative, and invite them to church online, over the next several opportunities through Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter! I heard a friend say this week, “Let’s have a virtual cup of coffee together over Zoom or Facetime.” They “go” to church together! We all need to hear the story of the resurrection this season, the testimony of life and togetherness – it is coming back! Even though you may think they will not come, invite them and see what God does!
Let’s get out of our comfort zone to see Jesus change lives! Have a colorful week this week!
If you are alive on this earth, you have heard the world attitude. You have had to adjust your attitude. You have been on the recieving end of a person that needed to have an attitude adjustment, and if you are like me, you may have felt inspired to the “instrument” that God was going to use to make that adjustment (We have to “SLOW OUT ROLE” when that happens). Attitudes are in everybody, every day, every where, and in every circumstance!
16 years ago, I came across an addage that I had forgotten until recently. Here it is…
What makes life 100%? If
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Now that is pretty powerful wouldn’t you say! I believe that Jesus lived His life in this principle. The Apostle Paul, saw this through his encounters with Jesus and developed this “thesis” the more and more he wrote about Jesus. Look at Paul’s thoughts on this in the book of Phillipians…
Philippians 2(NLT) – Have the Attitude of Christ
1 Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate?2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.
3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
6 Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.When he appeared in human form, 8 he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
9 Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
I know right now in my own personal life, the more I shift my eyes off of myself; then shift them to Jesus and to other people, I notice something…
MY ATTITUDE AUTOMATICALLY ADJUSTS FOR THE BETTER!
As a matter of fact, John C. Maxwell said this about attitudes… “When our attitude outdistances our abilities, the impossible is possible!”
This Christmas Season has been unlike any other that I have experienced. Jen did most to the Christmas Shopping, I found myself being pulled in many ways those closing days to Christmas. Then on Saturday, Dec. 22nd, after coaching my 6-year-old 2ndbasketball game – EVER – I came home and crashed for 3-hour nap, in which I woke up with a 102.5 fever. The Christmas Flu hit, and I was in my bed for 5 days. For the 1sttime in my 21 years of Full Time Ministry, I missed a Sunday and a Christmas Eve Service due to sickness! WOW, what a season for firsts…
Of course, being a great sharer, my 3 kids and wonderful wife are on the way to recovering. Sorry guys, I Love You!
Then last night, on Thursday, Dec. 27th, I stood with a family from our church in an ICU room, and said goodbye to their Husband, Father, Brother, Uncle… to me – My Friend! Chuck Baker, almost 80, went to be with Jesus at 7:10 PM.
It is the first time I have been in the room as I watched a person, a friend, take the 1-second-long journey from life to death. I watched in grief, in wonder, in despair, in pain, in great rejoicing, in bewilderment, and utter amazement. A man that I had laughed with, joked with, prayed with, talked about everything with, and man that I worshipped Jesus within Church, was now in the place that I have preached about for 21 years – he is there.
I didn’t know what to do with all of that emotions. All of that weightiness from the family’s grief. All of my own emotions filled with so many thoughts. For the first time in my 45 years, I had witnessed the miracle of eternal life. I was on the earthly side of that miracle, and I longed to be on Chuck’s side – Heaven! He wasn’t in pain anymore. He didn’t have a walker. No more pills. His heart was strong, all in 1 second! It was the first time I ever truly wanted to switch sides with a Red Sox Fan! You see we talked of being never able to trade places as baseball fans, I as a Yankees Fan – He as a Red Sox Fan! After the Red Sox beat the Yankees in the 2018 Playoffs, Chuck gave me a sympathy card, and he drew a broom on the inside of it. (Chuck has a great sense of humor!) As a good friend of ours said, “Chuck is now playing with the Angels!”
I have been somewhat fortunate in this world to have only been close to death only about 20 times in my life. My mom, my father, my father in law, 2 grandfathers, a grandmother, an aunt, an uncle, several classmates, and then about 8 close families that I have walked through death with, as they said goodbye. In all of these journeys to eternity, I have never been in the final hours of life. I have never seen death, the beginning of eternal life.
After last night, I have a fresh perspective of the true meaning of the words written by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:8 & 9, “8 Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him.”
I met a man in 2010 in Memphis, TN.
Wes Linder was a kind and gentle man to me. You see, he was homeless, had nothing to his name but an old SUV, the clothes on his back, and then a few earthly possessions in the old SUV. I was introduced to him by his family. I got to know his brother and his mother. The day, I met Wes, we went to the food pantry and grabbed several bags of dry good groceries and personal items, and went back to his SUV.
You see, I sat in his truck and let him talk and talk. We shared cold soup, canned tuna, crackers, and bottles of water. We talked of dreams and goals. We talked of family and future. We talked of God and sin and eternity. I prayed with Wes that day, and only saw him one other time after that. He died 6 months later, just weeks after my family moved from Memphis, TN to Cape Cod, MA. On Dec. 29, 2010. There was nothing I could do or say. My broken friend’s body couldn’t hold together the years of his life. But this I know, his soul was desperately looking and searching for the love and meaning of Christ’s Love for him!
2 men, that I have known for collectively less than 2 years, made a huge impact on me.
Wes taught me that there is no price tag too small or too great to spend time with someone who needs to be loved. Wes taught me that love matters, no matter how it is shared. Wes taught me that life is not about position or bank accounts, but it is about heart and soul. Wes taught me that there are some amazing jewels hidden in the roughs of life. Wes taught me that simple love is found in simple ways – in authenticity, transparency, and vulnerability. Wes taught me to NEVER judge a book by the cover!
Even though Wes had so many questions as to the many of life, he lives on these 8 years later, because he made an impact on so many people, before he crossed over to eternity!
Chuck taught me to laugh. Chuck “made” me love the taste of Root Beer. Chuck helped me loved the Yankees that much more. Chuck taught me what a passionate, never quit, tougher than nails life is all about. For the last 8 years of Chuck’s life, he made a commitment to Jesus, because he survived a Heart Attack (1 of several) that should have been it for him. He didn’t miss church from that point. Chuck taught me what friendship with differences is all about – you try being a Yankees Fan up here – LOL! Chuck taught me what faithful looks like, sounds like, and is.
Chuck understood his meaning in life, and though Chuck’s death is only a few hours old, Chuck will live on, because he made an impact on so many people, before he crossed over to eternity!
On the way home for the hospital last night, I stopped at the store and bought a bottle of A&W Root Beer and had a good cry. Once home, I talked to my wife to unpack the emotion, then I went upstairs and prayed for my kids as they laid in bed, then spent some time with my oldest son.
Today for lunch, I went down to the food pantry at our church, and had a cold can of soup and some crackers, and sipped on a bottle of water.
You see, I’m 45, and hopefully, have a lot of life to go. But today, I understand life a little more than I did last night…
I understand, that being alone in this world is hard – so do life with people that are like you and that are not!
I understand that the simple things in life, are often the most meaningful.
I understand that no life is a waste and that we are all meant to impact the world for good, by pleasing Jesus.
I understand what Clarence said, “Remember, no man is a failure who has friends!”
And I have had some greats ones!
Love You, Chuck! Sundays will not be the same, but you will not be forgotten!
Love You, Wes! You’ll never be forgotten, and always be remembered!
I think I am beginning to understand this journey of life…got a lot to learn still…but I am up for it!
As a human, I stand back and realize that often their struggle reminds me of my own struggle. The struggle to, as Micah 6:8 says, “To do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your (their) God.”
I grew up in a military family. I was surrounded by men and women who have served and protected our country. For the better part of the my first 25 years of life, I learned words like honor, code, respect, and valor.
In being around those men and women, one thing I saw everyday was the ability to follow orders that radically changed life’s trajectory. I said goodbye to friends, watches families leave safety and security and learned to deal with good-byes (which aren’t very fun today). I had to learn to trust in the silence of not always knowing or hearing the answer or understanding it.
Then I read this 3 verse passage and realize that all of those lessons learned aren’t just a military family’s mindset, but a set of values learned by ones that truly set out to accomplish the will of God! The desire to set a person helped, a family saved, and city radically impacted through the Gospel of Christ!
“It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.”
Hebrews 11:8-10 NLT
Abraham desired a city that was set upon the foundations of God! Wow! Abraham was a form of God’s Special Forces…going to a foreign place, setting up a value that was unknown before he arrived, then putting into motion a new way of living.
I desire that! I live in a place that was established as a town in 1764. Before modern conveniences, before modern military practices, before the realization that our world was going to have to go through several revolutions before God would send His Son Jesus back for a His people. So my calling, my passion, and my life’s work is to establish that eternal city right here in Winchendon, Ma.
That means I have to train, study, build trust, pray, serve, obey – I get to live my life in a way that tells everyone I have been placed here for a purpose that far surpasses our ability to understand the natural causes of order and man’s cumbersome path to God. I get to set the peace and love and grace and forgiveness of Christ right in my own town. I get to be a standard bearer for righteousness and for salvation in my little town. Values that go hand and hand with values I learned in the military family of honor, code, respect, and valor.
Would you join me to saluting the Savior of the World Jesus, by longing for the city of eternal foundations, by living your life worthy of the call of our – King of Kings and Lord of Lords – Jesus!
I’m all in, are you?
P.S. To the men and women of our US Armed Services – Thank You for putting your life on the line for our freedom! You truly are the best! I pray for you, I remember you, I Honor you, and I am GRATEFUL for you and your families!
Gen. 6:5-8, 5 The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. 6 So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart. 7 And the Lord said, “I will wipe this human race I have created from the face of the earth. Yes, and I will destroy every living thing—all the people, the large animals, the small animals that scurry along the ground, and even the birds of the sky. I am sorry I ever made them.” 8 But Noah found favor with the Lord.
As the Lord looked at what He created, He found very little that He was pleased with.
I read this today and I say, “Lord, I know there is wickedness in me, please forgive me for acting on it and wipe it from my heart and soul!”
Then Vs. 8 gives me hope! Oh that I would find favor with the Lord!
Oh that He would see me and show me His Favor. In all of my hang ups. The times I am not a good husband, father, pastor, or leader – Father find favor with me. Look into my heart and see that I truly long to love you and to worship you in all that I am and all that I do!
Lord, let your FAVOR reign over my life!
F – Forgiveness
A – Authority
V – Victory
O – Opulence
R – Righteousness
As you continue to read the account of Noah, the FAVOR of the Lord was on him for one very simple reason… Noah did exactly what the Lord told him! He didn’t rationalize or beg God to chose another way, he was simply obedient in the most simplistic of ways. He trusted God and heard His voice! He listened!
Let our prayer today be, “Lord teach me to hear Your Voice and to listen the same! I want to hear You and know You! Lord I can’t live without You and Your FAVOR! I Love You Jesus! Thank you for loving me!”
“It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’” “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman.”
Here in plain “English” God speaks to Adam and Eve. There is no way that anyone could twist the meaning of “If you the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden, you will die”. Plain and simple.
Yet, we all do that thing that we know God has spoken to us about. It is in our soul, our heart pounds with the message, our body strives daily with the clarion call for holiness, yet we still struggle. The struggle is REAL! The Apostle Paul, millenniums later had the same struggle doing the very thing that he didn’t want to do.
The struggle that sin produced, is the very fact that we don’t always do the right thing or that we simply do the wrong thing.
Sin and Law create this cataclysmic struggle that is only answered in having a personal and intimate walk with Christ! Today if you are in that place where sin dominates or haunts you, and you love Jesus; the answer is to simply press into Him even more. He will provide you with the scapegoat from sin. And it will be from the most amazing places or people.
Press into Him today and rest assured that what He says will save your life. And remember He also said, “I will never leave you or forsake you!”
Over the last 18 months of my life, I can truly say that the definitions of life, love, passion, cause, purpose have all been rewritten. A painful process, but the kind of pain that comes from stretching muscles to the limit. The kind of pain that comes from recuperating from a surgery. The kind of pain that tells you it may hurt now, but it will not hurt forever!
So in that, you begin to look for little joys that you probably have never done before. I would like to share with you one of those times. 4 months ago, I took my 9 year old daughter and 4 year old son for a walk. We started off walking on the cart path of a local golf course. (If you know me, you know that I am NOT a golfer…therefore I would like to publicly apologize for walking on the course, I didn’t know that was not allowed. I am sorry!)
Now on the inside I was quietly hoping that we would find a golf ball or two left over from the last several fall outings of 2016. Can I just share with you that not only did we find a golf ball, but we found 9 golf balls. None of them were on the fairways, the green, the tee boxes – not a one. All of them were found in the rough, the weeds, the woods, far away places from the playable grass of the course. But what joy we felt, as we climbed under trunks of fallen trees, moved aside piles of old thatch, and weeds that were just waiting for warmer weather. As we walked home, having stood all of the cold we face, the joy that my son and daughter and I had. Oh they were dirty and crusty, but the joy just continued as we cleaned this little white golf balls as if they were pearls harvested from the ocean. Oh, the joy!
As my family continues on in our journey of “next steps”, I think of that little excursion to the golf course. I just wanted to find one little golf ball, but as we found the one, the search intensified, and we found 9… My hearts turns to the scripture and the words of Jesus…
Matt. 13:44-46, “44 The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.45 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. 46 When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!”
Now let me assure you, I am pretty sure these little “pearls” we found only have a value of about $2.00 a piece maybe if they were brand new… But the lesson is surreal and powerful! Life may not be what you or I think it should be right now, but there are little pearls that the Father has hidden along the way, and sometime the way is not the “normal playable surface”, it is in the rough, it is in the hidden places of the world, it in the torn down branches of your world. But as I am finding, the world around me is small and normal, but the world that I have looked at for so long is so big and ready to search out the pearls that our Heavenly Father has laid out for them to find! I only wanted to find one pearl, we found 9! He is such a “GOOD, GOOD FATHER!” He gives extravagantly, He is generous, and gives out of His abundance!
So how about it? Will you join the Father on getting off the beaten path, the playable surfaces, and get out in the rough and the hidden places to find some pearls? They are there, you have to just take a risk and take a chance, don’t be afraid to dream about the pearls that He has for you!
There you will find joy! There you will find peace! There you will find Him!
One of the things I miss about Cape Cod is the light house. They weren’t everywhere, but the ones that were around, were such a reminder that God is always there and visible. In the times of darkness and storm, the constant was that the beam of light was coming around every 180 degrees. It didn’t matter the type of storm, the length of storm, the time of year – it was coming and you could count on it!
Just like Jesus! You can count on Him – Always!
Just remember that He is always there with you. He will never leave you or forsake you! He loves you forever! He is right beside you and I!