Tag Archives: spiritual

An Open Garage Policy…And Giving God The Authority You Gave Your HOA

Homeowner Associations (HOA’s) can be annoying, but they are created to protect property values and to provide services for neighborhoods. If neighborhoods have no rules, things can go downhill fast. So, for the most part, we accept their rules. Sometimes, though, overly zealous HOA’s can go a little too far.

For example, recently, a California HOA discovered that a family had been housing another family in their garage. So the HOA took action. Their solution? They demanded that all houses must leave their garage doors open from 8am to 4pm!

Now, I’m pretty sure none of us would like that idea. Residents, of course, voiced security concerns. But they also didn’t want people staring at their stuff all day. After all, don’t we cram stuff in our garages to hide it?

Some homeowners say they will pay the fines and face the consequences. Most homeowners, though, are complying. You see, they signed over their rights. So, the best they can do is to ask the board to change their mind…and live with an open garage door in the meantime.

I wonder if most of us give our HOA power that we don’t even give to God. What I mean is this: What if God expected you to open your life to Him, leave your valuables vulnerable to Him, and to allow Him to peer into your life all day? Would you sign that authority over to Him?

Of course, God doesn’t need permission; he can see through garages and into our hearts and minds. But He wants willing participants. Sadly, most of us forfeit far more authority to human institutions than we give to the sovereign ruler of the universe.

“Would not God find this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart” (Psalm 44:21). Invite God to rule your life, your home, and possessions. Open your spiritual garage door, not because you were forced by an HOA, but because, as the Psalmist says, “Search me, O God, and know my thoughts (Psalm 139:23).

Will you hand ALL of yourself to Him today?

Bear-ing Comes “Naturally” To Christians

polar-bearPolar bears are cute, cuddly, and look like they want a big hug…or, not. In fact, polar bears are amazing killing machines. They can smell prey from miles away. They can run, swim, and attack with great power. And, for five scientists in an expedition on Russia’s Troynoy Island, polar bears posed a great risk.

For the last two weeks, 10 polar bears surrounded the research building of five meteorologists, holding them captive. The bears even camped against the building, near the windows. Their presence disrupted the research and forced the researchers to remain in the building at all times. Help, in the form of “pyrotechnics and guard dogs” finally arrived yesterday to scare the bears away.

Of course, we can’t blame the bears! If you are a Polar Bear, you hunt; it’s what you do. And if you are a polar bear living in a harsh environment of ever-shrinking ice, shorter hunting seasons, and less prey available, and catch a whiff of something to feed your family…you look for a meal.

I preached a sermon once about the 3 Bears in Galatians 6. Of course, I’m not the first, by any means, to see the connection or preach that lesson. But one thing I didn’t emphasize was that simple thought – bears can be expected to do what bears do.

Here’s a thought, though: “Can Christians be expected to do what Christians should do?” The 3 bears of Galatians 6 are: bear the burdens of others (6:2), bear our own burdens (6:5), and bear the marks of Jesus (6:17). So…is it natural? Is it instinctual?

It depends. Helping others, doing works of faith, and modeling Christ-likeness are not natural to the human condition. Consuming is our natural default. But, if we are Christians, raised to live in Christ, then our nature has been changed. In fact, the “bear-test” is a really good way to see if we are in Christ (2 Corinthians 13:5).

When you “sniff” a need, do you become a Galatians spiritual bear? Or do you revert back into something fleshly of this world? Just a little “food” for thought…

Stay On The Path!

hot springI recently wrote an article about tourists at a National Park who “rescued” a Bison calf, causing its death because the herd rejected it. Since that time, several other stories are making headlines with tourists ignoring rules at National Parks. They want selfies with elk, they dangle over the sides of rock sliding areas, and they get far too close to the Bears. Sadly, many of these stories end very badly.

Colin Scott, a recent college graduate from Portland, Oregon, is no exception. He refused to obey the signs that clearly say to stay on the boardwalk at Yellowstone. But armed with flip-flops and the pride of youth, he ignored those signs and walked 225 yards off the path.

Unfortunately, it was a deadly mistake. Not only are the springs acidic, but they are also scalding hot – over 200 degrees. In fact, the spring was so acidic and so hot that, when the ground gave way and he fell in, his body dissolved and there was nothing left to recover.

The story is a sad one, and the family is in our prayers. But Park Services representative, Morgan Warthin, uses tragedies such as this to try to save lives. She warns that the ground is extremely fragile and there are thermal pools right below the surface. She warns that the hot springs “look beautiful and stunning…inviting, yet the boardwalks are there for a reason…to keep visitors safe.”

Spiritually speaking, I find real similarities. People often stray from God’s path to get a closer look at sin, refusing to heed warning signs.

The Bible consistently reminds us to stay on the path. It is a narrow path that leads to salvation (Matthew 7:14). God’s Word is a light on the path to show the way (Psalm 119:105). We are shown the boundaries that He has given, and we are told not to move the stones (Proverbs 22:28).

So many people today try to make the rules up as they go. They leave the tried and true path to get a closer look at sin. If they would stay on God’s path, unnecessary spiritual death would cease. Safety is only found on the Lord’s path!

The Grilled Cheese Cronut? Well-played, Satan. Well-played.

cronutAccording to a recent article in Medical Daily (click here), “Pastry hybrids are all the rage with today’s food frenzies.” In the hybrid category, the “Cronut” (basically, a donut-like crescent) has been king since October 2013, when Chef Dominique Ansel introduced it. King, that is, until now!

Our newest obsession? The Grilled Cheese Cronut. Looking delicious and tempting, pictures of the Cheese Cronut have been making the rounds on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media as the “must try” treat of the season. And, while the grilled cheese cronut might fulfill a craving for the perfect pastry hybrid, no sane person would argue that it is a healthy snack.

And, sadly, this is where fantasy ends and reality begins. While this caloric nightmare might look good, smell good, and taste good, it is terrible for us! Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good, fried treat as much as the next person, perhaps more. But if we become hooked, we will follow our taste buds into heart disease, high blood-pressure, cholesterol problems, and other chronic conditions.

The Bible warns us about the same problems, but with spiritual junk food. And many people have already given themselves over to a steady diet of meaningless stories, “moving of the Spirit,” tales from beyond, and “devotional” books that look good and feel good, but leave the reader with no actual, scriptural nutrition.

The writer of Hebrews plainly states, “Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited” (Hebrews 13:9). Are you being benefitted by what you consume? If it isn’t the teaching and commands of scripture, then it might taste good, but it won’t give you the nutrients you need for life.

So, I say, well-played, Satan; the cronut is an impressive temptation to my diet. But no “leading of the Spirit” will ever tempt me to disregard the clear teaching of scripture. God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). He does not say one thing in His Word and the opposite through feelings we have.

2 Timothy 4:3-5

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.