Word Of Encouragement
Port Townsend Church of Christ
(Matthew 5:14-16 NIV)

Posted 12/03/2014


       Reading through the Scriptures one of the things which should greatly encourage
us is how often God seems to have used the insignificant to accomplish the seeming
impossible. When Moses questioned his qualifications for leading Israel out of Egypt,
God asked him what was in his hand. (Exodus 4:2) God’s power was displayed through
that ordinary staff which ultimately went from being Moses’ staff to being “THE
STAFF OF GOD.” (Exodus 4:20) In view of a trained army shaking in their sandals at
the sight of Goliath, God used an ordinary sling in the hands of a young shepherd
named David. (1 Samuel 17) And when it was time for the Gospel to begin being
preached to the world, rather than seeking out trained orators, the Lord sent the
disciples who were noted as being “UNEDUCATED, COMMON MEN” (Acts 4:13 ESV) to
begin that significant task with His message in their hearts and mouths.

       Do we ever question the significance of what can be done through our life? If so,
perhaps it is because our focus is too much on self rather than keeping the bigness of
God in the picture. The ordinary can become the EXTRAORDINARY of great
significance when willingly offered to the use of God.

       Writing to the church at Rome, Paul encouraged. . .
               “(6) Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use
them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; (7) if service, in our serving; the one who
teaches, in his teaching; (8) the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who
contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of
mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Romans 12:6-8 ESV)

       Though our abilities or gifts may differ from one another, we all have something
to offer. We must just be willing to ALLOW GOD TO USE US. Someone has
suggested, “God never asks about our ability or inability -- just our availability.” May
we remain open to letting God use us and whatever He has placed in our hands. With
Him, even the ordinary can become EXTRAORDINARY, because He makes it so!

 [12/03/2014 "teEn-MAIL”]

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Posted 11/26/2014


     The story has been told of a preacher who announced the funeral for an unknown
individual. The congregation gathered in spite of not knowing who the person was. As
the preacher preached the funeral, the people were touched and began weeping as the
person was described as having lived such a sinful and corrupt life that they were lost
and destined for hell. At the conclusion of the preacher’s remarks and references to
Scripture, the casket was opened for the congregation to pass by to view the body of
the deceased. One by one the congregation began to walk by. To their complete
surprise, there was no body, but instead they found themselves face-to-face with a
mirror placed in the bottom of the casket. Everyone looking inside saw themselves.

     Such could be a very sobering moment. Perhaps it should be. However, coming face-
to-face with our failings becomes a blessing when we are willing to acknowledge them
and allow our life to be redirected. (note 2 Corinthians 7:10)

     Solomon stated. . .
             “(2) It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of
feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.”
(Ecclesiastes 7:2 ESV)

     The New Living Translation reads. . .
             “(2) Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties. After all, everyone
dies -- so the living should take this to heart.”

     Attending funerals, memorial services, or the celebration of another’s life are all
reminders of our own mortality and that someday there may be such a gathering for
us. Therefore, as we live, it is good to take a look at our life? Are we practicing what
we preach? Are we living to please self or God? Are we caught up in our own interests
or also mindful of the interests of others?

     Remember James exhortation. . .
             “(22) But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
(23) For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks
intently at his natural face in a mirror. (24) For he looks at himself and goes away and
at once forgets what he was like. (25) But the one who looks into the perfect law, the
law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will
be blessed in his doing.” (James 1:22-25 ESV)

     As we look in the mirror, what do we honestly see? Are we keeping it in mind,
enabling us to turn and live as we ought? If we continually strive to allow Christ to be
reflected in our life, the image in the mirror will remain an encouraging one. May
Jesus and the truth about Him be seen in us.

             Carl  [11/21/2014 "te

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Posted 11/20/2014


   A prayer OF THANKS is something I hope we all frequently offer. There is so much
for which we should give thanks. However, could we also be in need of a prayer FOR
THANKS because of the times we might lose sight of the blessings that are ours or
begin to take some of them for granted? Someone has offered the words of such a
prayer in saying, “Thou who has given so much to me, give me one more thing -- a
grateful heart!” [George Herbert]

   Considering this reminded me of the words of Agur where he prayed. . .
           “(7) Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: (8) Remove far
from me falsehood and lying; GIVE ME NEITHER POVERTY NOR RICHES; feed me
with the food that is needful for me, (9) LEST I BE FULL AND DENY YOU and say,
“Who is the Lord?” OR LEST I BE POOR AND STEAL and profane the name of my
God.” (Proverbs 30:7-9 ESV)

   In acknowledging life in this realm does have its end, Agur prayed regarding that
which was within himself; what had to do with honesty and integrity of character. We
ought to be mindful of that genuinely being a part of the essence of our own inward
being as well. Then Agur focused on his outward actions, not wanting to profane the
name of his God. That focus was relative to his daily physical needs of which he noted
the two extremes of “poverty“ and “riches” with the correlating impact each could
have on his life choices.

   God knows what we need and most of the time we have much more than we need.
Let us therefore seek God’s help in remaining mindful of all His provisions (both
physical and spiritual), in living life in a manner in which our actions will always glorify
Him, and in maintaining a GRATEFUL HEART before Him. Keeping that at the top of
our wish list will keep us mindful of God’s rich generosity.

           Carl [11/26/2013 "te

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Posted 11/12/2014

         A GOOD WORD!

Words often impact more than we might think. This can be true either in a positive or
negative way. Therefore we should choose our words well. It is also possible that what
we say today may not be given much thought until later. Someone has said, “The
kindly word that falls today may bear its fruit tomorrow!” [source: bulletin clipping]
Words do not always have an immediate impact. Just like flower seeds being sown take
time to germinate before growing and blossoming, so it may also be with what we
speak today.

Solomon stated. . .
        “(5) Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him
glad.” (Proverbs 12:25 ESV)

The New Living Translation reads, “Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging
word cheers a person up.” [Tyndale House Publishers, © 2007]

Not always being aware of what others around us might be going through, let us never
underestimate the power of words genuinely spoken. May we remain mindful of
speaking “a good word” to those around us. It may be just what they need to pick up
their day and even encourage their future.

        Carl [11/05/2014 "te

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Posted 11/05/2014

         SHOW AND TELL!

In Acts we read of a woman who had died, who meant much to many people because of
the work she had done. We read. . .

      “(36) Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means
Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity (37) In those days she became ill
and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. (38) Since
Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to
him, urging him, “Please come to us without delay.” (39) So Peter rose and went with
them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood
beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while
she was with them.” (Acts 9:36-39 ESV)

Every time I read that passage I think of Sallye; a member of our congregation for
many years. Last August she celebrated her 105th birthday and this past Thursday she
peacefully passed from this life. This afternoon (Sunday) [11/02/2014] we will celebrate
her life. Now, the reason the above passage always brings Sallye to mind is that even
recently she put her needle and thread to work. I remember when we celebrated her
100th birthday, it was like a “Show And Tell” with many people either holding up to
show or simply telling about something she had made for them. This dear sister made
our daughter’s wedding dress and the dress for her flower girl. Sallye made many
other dresses, hemmed many garments, and did many alterations over the years, even
for a local clothes cleaners. Therefore, I have told many people about Sallye, referring
to her as the “Dorcas” of our congregation. Today I’m sure there will be people
sharing the story of the works she has done. Yes, a life to celebrate and remember.

Don’t we like to talk about the things others have made or done for us? Those people
being significant in our life, those items and labors are treasured. Does it not also
make us feel good when others talk about what we have done for them? Life is to be
about doing! It is to be about service. There is impact we can have on the lives of
others that remains even after we have departed this realm. Humbly allowing God to
use us for His purposes can impact far beyond what we might realize.

In Revelation we read these encouraging words.
      “(13) And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead
who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may
rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”” (Revelation 14:13 ESV)

Like the wake created by a moving vessel on the water, so a wake of good deeds
offered in humble service can trail behind us as our life’s journey continues. We may
not always be aware of who all are touched by the ripples of those actions in significant
ways. Therefore, let us choose to spend our life on behalf of others. God knows where
the stories will be told.

       Carl [11/02/2014 "te

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Posted 10/29/2014

         IN THE KNOW!

We most likely all know someone we consider to be wise. Perhaps they are an
individual we go to when we need some counsel or guidance. Do we not also know
someone who seems to have great strength, maybe even wishing we had their muscles
to lift or work like they do? We may also know someone who is pretty well off and may
wonder how our life might be if we possessed even a portion of their wealth. Still, if we
possess wisdom, strength, or wealth, is there something else of more significance to
keep it all in perspective and thus properly put to use?

The message of God through Jeremiah at a time when the nation was bent on doing
their own thing -- walking in their own counsels and according to their own stubborn
hearts (Jeremiah 7:24) and were guilty of “perpetual backsliding” (Jeremiah 8:5) -- we
read. . .

    “(23) Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the
mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, (24) but let
him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD
who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these
things I delight, declares the LORD.”” (Jeremiah 9:23-24 ESV)

Truly knowing the Lord -- understanding that He “practices steadfast love, justice, and
righteousness on earth” and delights in these -- in whatever wisdom, strength, or
wealth we possess, we will be open to His guidance in properly putting those abilities to
use for His purposes and glory. That wisdom will be demonstrated in a willingness to
obey the will of God and practice His selfless love, seek justice and do what is right in
His eyes. To know God is to acknowledge what pleases Him and seek to do what we can
to fulfill His Heavenly Will on earth. (Matthew 6:10) By living in this manner, we will
aid in He and His Will becoming known by those around us whether they are yet ready
to accept it or not. Even as we live among non-believers, may we always seek to live in
a manner that those around us will at least believe that we believe!

    Carl [10/22/2014 "te

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Posted 10/22/2014


In life today some look up “A Word For The Day” to put into use and expand their vocabulary. Then we
are surrounded by “buzz words”; those contemporary or fashionable words and phrases seen as the
latest focuses for the day and frequently used to impress others while often becoming overused in the
process. Then we are sometimes faced with “empty words”; people saying things they do not really
mean (i.e. flattery) or on which they have no intention of following through. There are also words
spoken that bring people down while other words encourage and build up. Living in a realm where we
face such diversity in the use of words, we must remain mindful of that to which we are listening and
being influenced.

There was a time in Jesus’ ministry when many -- after hearing the words of Jesus -- decided to follow
Him no more. (John 6:66) However, the response of Peter on behalf of the Twelve was. . .

 “(68) Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, (69)
and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”” (John 6:68-69 ESV)

“The words of eternal life!” That is Jesus! As we noted in yesterday’s focus, Jesus came as the word in
the flesh. (John 1:14) Being “full of grace and truth”, Jesus illustrated through both the actions of His
life and the words of His mouth the fullness of those two gifts from God. Being the Word of God in the
flesh, how could anything about Him be otherwise? Not empty words. Not merely “buzz words”.
Neither simply words for that day, but for every day, since in spite of all that will pass away, His words
will never! (Matthew 24:35) The words of Jesus -- as we continue to read and grow in our knowledge of
them -- are just as full of life today as when He spoke them while walking here on earth! They remain
words of eternal life! May we continue listening to them as we experience the fullness of their
blessing for life today and forever!

 Carl [10/15/2014 "te

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Posted 10/15/2014


“Not the sharpest knife in the drawer.” “Not the sharpest tack in the box.” “Not the
sharpest tool in the shed.” “Not the brightest bulb in the box.” Those statements are
often used in a very negative manner; describing another person as not being very
smart. However, even a “dim” bulb (or light) can serve a purpose. I can think of
occasions when a small flashlight provided enough illumination to find and light our
lantern to provide greater light during a power outage. There are also times all we
want illuminated is a small nightlight. However, the brighter lights are utilized when
there is more activity to take place.

John the baptizer was very humble in carrying out his Divine purpose. He knew his
place and sought nothing more than to fulfill it. As John introduced John the baptizer
in his gospel, he noted that he was not the light, but the one to bear witness about The
Light! (John 1:6-9) Still, Jesus noted John as having been a light that had been enjoyed
for a while. (John 5:35) The light John was to be in directing the attention toward
Jesus was a purpose he served well.

When some came to John and informed him it appeared he was losing his following as
everyone was going to Jesus (John 3:26), he was not concerned in the least. John
clearly understood his role of preparing the way for the Messiah and we read his
humble response. . .

“ (27) John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him
from heaven. (28) You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,
but I have been sent before him.’ (29) The one who has the bride is the bridegroom.
The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the
bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. (30) He must increase,
but I must decrease.” (John 3:27-30 ESV)

John had served the purpose of the light he was to be in drawing attention to Jesus as
the Lamb of God Who came to take away the sins of the world. (John 1:29) He clearly
understood his role and the increasing brightness of the One Who came as the Light of
the World. (John 8:12)

Like John, do we understand our place and the blessed purpose that is ours? Though
we too are not the brightest light, we still have a purpose as lights in this world
(Matthew 5:14-16) and that is to ultimately draw the attention toward God. May we find
contentment and satisfaction in that Divine purpose as our life becomes less of self and
more of Jesus.

Carl  [09/30/2014 “te

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Posted 10/08/2014


Even in an accepting society, everybody is against something. In spite of those who
might claim there are no absolutes, even they are absolutely against something they
have decided is just not right. The worst thing to be against, however, is that which is
for us!

Paul made it clear that by means of Jesus’ blood shed on the cross we have been
“justified” and “saved by him from the wrath of God.” (Romans 5:9 ESV) He went on
to note that this provision to reconcile us to God by the death of His Son was made on
our behalf while we were enemies of God’s Way. (Romans 5:10)

Here is where we once were. In a life marked by doing our own thing, sin separated us
from God. It was by means of Jesus’ death that our sins were adequately atoned for so
we could be reconciled; brought back into a right relationship with God. In spite of not
deserving such a provision, it was all done for us. How could we then be against God or
the means by which salvation has been made possible? Still, some are, as was the case
even during the first century of the church.

In Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi we read. . .
“(18) For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk
as enemies of the cross of Christ. (19) Their end is destruction, their god is their belly,
and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.” (Philippians 3:18-19

Does our life reveal we are for or against the death that brought us life? Has an
appetite for doing our own will become our god or have we lifted our minds from
earthly things to the Will of the Father above? Are we enemies of the cross or have we
surrendered to God because of it?

Sometimes, in this world, the hand that feeds has been bitten. Let us resolve to never
stand against the hand that has brought blessing both for life now and forevermore.
May our life be lived daily for the One Who died for us.

Carl  [10/02/2014 “te


Posted 10/01/2014


Drawing and painting are not among my talents and so I have a great sense of
appreciation for those who are able to bring scenes to life on canvas and paper. I am
impressed by the ability to use shading, include the minutest details, and use vivid
colors that seem to draw me into the picture as if I were right there!

The story has been shared of an artist who had started to paint a landscape that was
turning almost red by the setting sun. In the foreground of the picture was a barn. A
friend of the artist watched as he spent time drawing the details of each shingle on the
roof. Becoming aware of the gradually changing sky the friend remarked, “You’d
better move on to painting the sunset or you’ll have no time to paint it and that’s the
big thing!”

Have we in life become so captivated by the details of the objects of life so close to us
that we have ceased to notice what is truly “the big thing”? Certainly we can
appreciate barns built by mankind and I have enjoyed looking at photos of both new
and old ones. However, who can create a sunset? In scrutinizing the details of our
material life -- and even while duly appreciating the beauty God created in this realm
-- have we lost sight of the beautiful hues of that which relates to the eternal?

After encouragingly acknowledging God’s awareness of our needs in this realm, Jesus
went on to exhort. . .

“(33) But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will
be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33 ESV)

Let us not become so focused on the stuff below that we forget to look up to that which
God is holding before us of eternal significance. We can admire and appreciate the
details of this life, but may we never forget what is of importance to our eternal soul.

Carl  [09/27/2014 “te


Posted 09/24/2014


I like fruit juices. The way to get the delicious juice from fruit is by pressing or
squeezing. When pressure is applied, all the goodness that is within the fruit is made
to come out for our refreshment.

In Proverbs we read the following words of Agur:
“(32) If you have been foolish, exalting yourself, or if you have been devising evil, put
your hand on your mouth. (33) For pressing milk produces curds, pressing the nose
produces blood, and pressing anger produces strife.” (Proverbs 30:32-33 ESV)

Anger is a real pressing issue in this world. That is why James urged being “quick to
hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19 ESV) because “the anger of man does
not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1:20 ESV) Remember a “stress ball” is
not for throwing at people who stress us out! It is for redirecting and releasing the
tension through squeezing it!

With anger being such an issue, the development of good character should also be seen
as a pressing issue of life. What comes from our life when pressure is applied? What
that is will be what is already within. That is why we must be mindful of the character
we are developing. Part of that character we need is self-control. With the help of God,
this is key to living a life that produces the righteousness of God, regardless of the
pressures that might be exerted upon us. May we focus on such character so that
others may be refreshed by the righteous responses God desires.

Carl  [09/17/2014 “te


Posted 09/17/2014


Being “different” can be uncomfortable. Being “different” can cause one to stand out.
That is why being “different” is often avoided. It can be much more comfortable just to
blend in. However, not being “different” can spell a real problem in our life.

Someone has asked: “What’s the difference between the atheist who supports no
church and the member who will not support the one to which they belong. What’s the
difference between the skeptic who does not believe the Bible and the negligent
Christian who never reads it? What’s the difference between those who do not believe
in Bible classes and those who never attend them? What’s the difference between the
man of the world and a person in the church who lives like a man of the world? Think
about it!!!!”

Prior to His crucifixion, Jesus prayed for the protection of His disciples from the evil
one (John 17:15) since, just like He, they were in the world but not of it. (John 17:16)
That difference was noticeable enough that it would bring trials to their life. (John 17:
14) Are we willing to accept being “different” in this way? If not, how can we serve God’
s purposes of being the light and salt this world needs? (Matthew 5:13-16) Certainly
there will be those who may not appropriately respond to such, but there are those who
will be influenced by the difference the Lord makes in our life.

Peter exhorted those to whom he wrote. . .
“(11) Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from
sinful desires, which war against your soul. (12) Live such good lives among the pagans
that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify
God on the day he visits us.” (1 Peter 2:11-12 ESV)

Being “different” according to God’s Will can make an eternal difference for those
around us. May we live the difference He brings to our life.

Carl [09/04/2014 “te


Posted 09/10/2014


I must confess there is some automation I do not like. Though I enjoy a coffeemaker
that can be programmed to grind the coffee beans and brew the pot at a specific time in
the morning so it is ready when my alarm wakes me up, there are other times I desire
human involvement. A case in point is the self-checkout lanes popping up in grocery
stores. I do not like them. Though I did use one once -- with the help of a store
employee so I could figure out the automated system -- I prefer the checkout lines
manned by an actually person I can have a conversation with as they scan the
groceries and bag them for me to take home. In spite of the automated self-checkout
machines having a programmed voice to provide step-by-step instructions and let you
know when your transaction is complete, they don’t ask me how my day is going or
allow me to ask how their day has been or give me a smile as my receipt and change
are placed in my hand. In fact, I recently had a very delightful conversation with a
grocery checker about duct tape and bailing wire that I never could have had with a
machine. It was human interaction that left all involved with big smiles.

Someone has said, “There is no machine that can take the place of a good neighbor.” A
good neighbor is a genuine blessing. We have been thankful for times when we were
away and a good neighbor was there to watch things for us and take care of any
problems that arose. On one occasion that was a hot water heater that decided to
spring a leak. However, the blessing of neighborly interaction is to go both ways. In
fact, it is our own actions -- regardless of those of another -- of which we are to remain
most mindful. Such was the message to one who tried to justify himself when asking,
“And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29) After telling the parable of the man who fell
victim to robbers, was walked past by a priest and Levite, but then was helped by a
good Samaritan, Jesus turned the focus toward personal action where we read. . .

“(36) “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell
among the robbers?” (37) He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said
to him, “You go, and do likewise.”” (Luke 10:36-37 ESV)

Machines don’t show mercy. Perhaps that is why I get frustrated with them. (Some
automation even tempts me to show no mercy and kick it across the room.) However,
in human interaction we have opportunity to extend and receive mercy and to be the
neighbor that meets whatever the need might be at the moment. Yes, there is no
substitute for the interaction we as Christians can have in this world. As we each go
about our day-to-day activities, may we prove to be the neighbor God has called us to

Carl [09/05/2014 “te


Posted 09/03/2014


Where, how and on what a message is written sometimes tells us something about it.
For example, the expression is used regarding the “writing on the wall” which often
refers to something doomed for failure. For King Belshazzar -- during the days of
Daniel -- he literally saw a hand actually writing on the wall and it caused him great
fear. (Daniel 5:5-9) The message did spell doom for his kingdom. (Daniel 5:24-28) Yes,
the handwriting was on the wall and that very night Belshazzar was killed and Darius
the Mede took over the kingdom. (Daniel 5:30-31)

We also have the phrase of that which is noted as being “written in stone.” As opposed
to something written in sand that can be quickly washed away, this expression usually
refers to something being more permanent and unchangeable. When God gave the Ten
Commandments to Moses, they were written on stone, but in Moses’ anger at the
people involved in the breaking of the very first two of those commands (Exodus 20:3-
5), the stone tablets were hurled down and broken. (Exodus 32:15-19)

Those writings were significant and were destined to duly impact the lives of those to
whom they were brought about at the hand of God. Still, where is the most significant
place for God’s message to be written? The writer of Hebrews noted what had been
prophesied to be where we read. . .

“(10) For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them
on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Hebrews 8:10

This was with reference to the new covenant in Christ (Hebrews 8:8-9) as prophesied
through Jeremiah. (Jeremiah 31:31-34) However, this was God’s desire all along as
even David acknowledged. (Psalm 40:8) With God’s Commands and Will held within
our heart, we will be led away from sinning against Him. (Psalm 119:11)

In view of Paul’s ministry of the Word to those at Corinth, Paul stated. . .
“(3) And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with
ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of
human hearts.” (2 Corinthians 3:3 ESV)

As disciples of Jesus, is this truly showing with us? May we allow the writing of God to
be on our heart so that our life can be properly lived according to His Will.

Carl [08/25/2014 “te

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Posted 08/20/2014


No, the above title is not a misprint. Though we often hear a store clerk or someone
else say, “Have a good day” as we turn to walk away, what would be the reaction if we
were to say to someone, “Have a God day”?

TODAY is significant in that it is the manner in which we receive life as God set it into
motion in daily doses. (Genesis 1:5,8,13,19,23,31) TODAY is significant because God
has given it (Psalm 118:24), including the planned day of our Lord’s coming onto life’s
scene on our behalf. (Psalm 118:22-23). TODAY is significant because it is an
opportunity for ears to be opened to God’s promises and warnings. (Psalm 95:7-8;
Hebrews 3:12-15) TODAY is significant because it is an indicator God’s patience is still
being extended with another opportunity for the perishing to repent. (2 Peter 3:8-9)
TODAY is significant in that it is God’s opportunity for the salvation He provides to be
accepted. (2 Corinthians 6:1-2) TODAY is significant because in it is enough in itself to
handle, so don’t borrow from tomorrow. (Matthew 6:34) Today is significant because
Jesus is the same TODAY as He was yesterday and will be forever. (Hebrews 13:8) I’ll
let your mind continue the list I have begun as you come to grips with the significance
of TODAY and the gift of God it truly is.

So, how shall we approach today; the gift God has given us to unwrap and put to use?
James exhorted. . .

“(13) Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a
town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit” -- (14) yet you do not know
what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little
time and then vanishes. (15) Instead you ought to say, “IF THE LORD WILLS, WE

TODAY, the Lord wills for us to live. Therefore, as we live out TODAY, let us do so to
His glory as we seek to allow His Will to be done in and through us. May our actions
and words of TODAY reveal our sincere appreciation to the One Who has given it!

Carl [08/29/2014 “te

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Posted 08/20/2014


A SQUARE can be the shape of a box in which things are kept. A SQUARE can be a
framework around a picture, drawing the view into it. Consider also how SQUARELY
VIEWING something can be the framework that makes all the difference to the
manner in which we live life. To view something squarely is to do so in a
straightforward manner. It is to acknowledge the truth of the situation and press on
accordingly. This is how Abraham’s faith was demonstrated in view of God’s promise in
spite of time that had passed by.

Paul noted Abraham’s faith in his letter to the church at Rome where we read. . .

“(18) IN HOPE HE BELIEVED AGAINST HOPE, that he should become the father of
many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” (19) HE DID NOT
WEAKEN IN FAITH when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead
(since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of
Sarah’s womb. (20) No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but
THAT GOD WAS ABLE to do what he had promised.” (Romans 4:18-21 ESV)

Abraham squarely faced the facts. Biologically, age was against both he and Sarah to
have children. However, God had promised. (vss.20-21) Often times, as time passes,
faith in an expectation not yet received diminishes and hope is sometimes ultimately
lost. However, Abraham’s faith “GREW STRONG” (vs.20) and so against hope he still
hoped! How could he do that? Because he kept GOD’S PROMISES in the framework of
HIS ABILITY TO DO whatever He had said He would do! (vs.21) Rather than losing
faith, his faith increased.

Like Abraham, let us learn to take God at His Word. In spite of SQUARELY
VIEWING the facts of life, may we always consider GOD’S PROMISES in the
framework of HIS FAITHFULNESS AND POWER. In this way we will live with a hope
that will not disappoint us. (Romans 5:5) Our God is able!

Carl [08/17/2014 “te

To subscribe to receive the daily “teEn-MAIL” focuses via e-mail, send a request to


Posted 08/13/2014


As Job’s friends came to comfort him, it was not long before they ceased being of help.
Eventually Job even called them “miserable comforters.” (i.e. Job 16:2) It reached a
point where wisdom would have been better revealed in their silence (Job 13:5) because
it was lacking in their speech. Their first seven days of silence was probably the best
comfort Job received from them. (Job 2:13)

As their rebukes continued, Job replied. . .
Will it be well with you when he searches you out? Or can you deceive him, as one
deceives a man?” (Job 13:9 ESV)

They thought they had Job’s circumstance all figured out. However, what would be the
result of God’s inspection of their own lives. How would they fare under the same
scrutiny they had directed toward Job? They made a determination regarding Job’s
situation with a very limited perspective. Though they seemed to speak for God, it was
He Who had everything in full view. How did they stand before God? Ultimately it was
Job to whom these friends were sent for prayer to be offered by him on their behalf.
(Job 42:8)

Are we willing to scrutinize our own life by the same standard we view others? Paul
asked some at Rome, “(21) you then who teach others,
do you not teach yourself?”
(Romans 2:21 ESV) He went on to note that what some taught against, they were still
practicing themselves. Do we recognize there is a sense in which we need to be our
first student when instruction is extended? What ultimately matters is how we are
viewed by the Lord. (1 Corinthians 4:3-4) If we ourselves are not open to the truth we
need to hear, why should others accept it from us?

Being a good student of God’s Will is a lifelong thing. Therefore, let us continue to
“grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18
ESV) No matter what other role we might be fulfilling to the glory of God -- even that
of a teacher -- may we never cease to be a student as well!

Carl [07/05/2014 “te


Posted 04/30/2014

The Last Word!

In a direct conversation between a general and a private, who is likeliest to have the
last word? If you think this over carefully, I think you will understand it would be the
private. Though the general outranks the private and is in a position to command
respect, the last word of the private would most likely be, “Yes! Yes, Sir!”

In welcoming new subscribers to “teEn-MAIL”, I often urge for GOD’S WORD to be
allowed to be the last word on every subject. Just as I tell the congregation with which
I serve that I do not want to hear of them saying, “Well, my preacher says. . . .”, the
authority on which our life is to be built is on what GOD HAS SAID. However, that in
itself should not be the last word. Rather, His Word should be responded to with a
sincere, “I WILL DO IT!” Then, that also not being the end, we will step forward in
living out His Will in our daily life.

Toward the end of what Matthew’s Gospel records as the sermon on the mount, after
all that teaching, Jesus closed with a most appropriate exhortation using a contrasting
illustration between a foolish and wise builder. In part we read. . .

“(24) Everyone then who HEARS THESE WORDS of mine AND DOES THEM will be
LIKE A WISE MAN who built his house on the rock. (25) And the rain fell, and the
floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it
had been founded on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24-25 ESV)

Though being willing to hear is very important, there needs to be FOLLOW
THROUGH. Having heard, we must BE WILLING TO DO! Remember James noted
those who hear but don’t do are deceiving themselves. (James 1:22) It is those who
SAY YES to what is heard who are blessed in the doing. (James 1:25) May we follow
God’s Word with such a WILLING AFFIRMATION!

Carl [04/29/2014 “te


Posted 04/23/2014


Recently when heading out to a location in another city I had not been to in a few
years -- a round trip of 251 miles by road -- I programmed our GPS with the address so
I could be guided there. My choice was to drive the complete route rather than make
ferry connections which would have required to plan my trip according to the ferry
schedule. However, the GPS laid out a route that included a ferry crossing as the
quickest and most direct route. Therefore, as I headed out with the intention of driving
the complete route, I continued to make choices contrary to what the GPS was telling
me. This caused the GPS to continue saying, “Recalculating.” Again and again I was
instructed to make turns I did not take and U-turns I did not make as I
REBELLIOUSLY WENT MY OWN WAY. I lost track of how many times I heard the
words “Recalculating”. Had it been an actual person telling me this, I am sure it would
not have been long before I would have sensed some exasperation. Every time it was
the same calm voice saying “Recalculating” and then instructing me where to turn to
get BACK ON THE RIGHT ROUTE. I had to travel 47 miles before the GPS finally
accepted the route I had chosen to the given destination. It then continued to DIRECT
needed and I was able to arrive at the correct place, and on time.

Life is a journey with an ultimate destination. Sometimes there is REBELLION against
the direction God provides. That is called sin. However, even in the midst of our own
choices, God’s Word continues to hold out hope and GRACIOUSLY REDIRECTS US
back to the way that leads His direction. The encouragement to not lose sight of is this:
However, we should not presume too much on His patience!

Let us remember God’s greatest desire and yield to it. Peter encouraged. . .
“(9) The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient

Let us therefore retain the heart of David who wrote. . .
“(23) Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! (24) And
see if there be any grievous way in me, AND LEAD ME IN THE WAY EVERLASTING!”
(Psalm 139:23-24 ESV)

Carl [04/16/2013 “te


Posted 04/16/2014


It is John’s Gospel which provides the greatest insight into the encouragement Jesus
provided His disciples immediately prior to His arrest and crucifixion. (John 13-17)
Though they did not fully understand all for which Jesus was preparing them and the
hope that would remain, the words of Jesus continued to urge the focus of the disciples
forward. That is what life is to be about; CONTINUED FORWARD MOVEMENT!
Following the Lord’s resurrection His encouragement was toward the ministry the
disciples would press on in and Luke’s record of the Acts of the Apostles reveals the
boldness with which they served to fulfill that calling.

Though some incidents in our life may tempt us to stop dead in our tracks, let us
remember every step forward is one step closer to the glorious eternity Jesus came to
provide. Remember Jesus’ encouraging words to the disciples where we read. . .

“(19) Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me.

With Jesus it is ALL ABOUT LIFE; life abundantly now (John 10:10) and life eternal
to come. (John 11:25-26) Death had no grip on Jesus and by the power of His
resurrection we have the assurance of ours. Though we may struggle to make sense of
some of life’s situations, may our life CONTINUE its FORWARD MOVEMENT in
fulfilling the purpose for which we have been called to follow Him; a following that
leads us through life and on into the glorious eternity He has made possible.

Sunday, March 31, 2013, the four main points of my sermon -- drawn from the twenty-
fourth chapter of Luke -- each contained two sub-points comprising a poem noting the
focus of the disciples centered on events they struggled to understand. Having
prepared my outline in this manner I then wrote a second stanza which may address
our own focus. It is as follows:

THEM . . .
Events had occurred that made them gasp!
But still a reality now to grasp!
A hope thought to have been dashed!
A dawning to be held unabashed!
They experienced much misunderstanding!
Then with them the Lord was standing!
The Lord in their view was lifted to Heaven.
A ministry began that was worshipfully joy driven!

US . . .
The events of the cross may make us gasp,
But the reality of hope is within our grasp.
A hope that the world wants to dash to pieces
But is steadfastly established, for the Truth never ceases.
We experience at times much misunderstanding,
But when all else crumbles God’s purpose remains standing.
As the Lord has been lifted to reign in Heaven,
Let us serve His Will through a life that’s joy driven.

                       [Carl Hanson, March 28, 2013]

Carl [04/02/2013 “te


Posted 04/09/2014


I recently found out a new REI store (outdoor equipment and goods) had opened up
about an hour away from where we live, but still a place where we go periodically for
other shopping. Up to this point the closest locations had been at least two hours away,
which included REI’s flagship store in Seattle. A week ago while in the area doing
other shopping, I had a stop at REI on my list and enjoyed seeing everything they had
to offer. As I made my purchase for that shopping trip, I was provided the opportunity
to BUY A LIFETIME MEMBERSHIP. The cost of that membership was as low as some
places might charge for one or two year memberships and it is a membership which
provides an annual ten percent dividend on purchases made. As long as I remain an
ACTIVE CUSTOMER this LIFETIME MEMBERSHIP is good. No need to renew. No
further fee to be paid. I like that!

There are many memberships or subscriptions associated with life in this world that
may be for a set fee and a specified length of time. When the end of that period comes,
a decision must be made whether or not to continue the membership or the
subscription. Perhaps there are memberships or subscriptions which are allowed to
lapse and must be reinstated.

In consideration of this, what marks our relationship to Christ and His Body, the
church? Is it in need of being reinstated or renewed? Has our life activity revealed it to
be a one year, two year, five year, . . . , or a LIFETIME MEMBERSHIP?

In Paul’s farewell to the Ephesian elders, he exhorted. . .
“(28) Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit
has made you overseers, to CARE FOR THE CHURCH OF GOD, WHICH HE

Peter reminded those to whom He wrote that our redemption was not made by means
of silver or gold. . .
“(19) but WITH THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF CHRIST, like that of a lamb without
blemish or spot. ” (1 Peter 1:19 ESV)

Jesus paid the cost of our redemption. By His blood, He has PURCHASED US FOR
GOD! In accordance with the Father’s Will, “we have been sanctified through the
offering of the body of Jesus Christ ONCE FOR ALL.” (Hebrews 10:10 ESV)  No need
to be paid again. What has been provided is ADEQUATE FOR A LIFETIME! I love that!

Writing to the church at Rome, Paul stated. . .
“(4) For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the
same function, (5) so we, though many, are ONE BODY IN CHRIST, AND

Let us be mindful of not allowing any lapse in our relationship with the Lord or His
Body. May we remain FAITHFUL THROUGH LIFE as we recognize this membership
will transfer into the eternal realm to come. The dividends are truly out of this world!

Carl [04/02/2014 “te