THE MEASURING STICK

yardstick

 

When I was a small boy and life was oh so simple, we had a simple little tool that was in just about all the homes at the time and that was a “ yard stick”. This is probably the earliest of training I would have got on the task of tracking things. It had so many uses back then. As kids wanting to be grown ups we were very interested in marking our height on a door casing and measuring it. It seemed like the higher the number the more worth you felt you had. If you were to compare yourself to someone else ( which often was the case ) you had to keep and eye on their feet to make sure they were not on their toes.tape-measure-steel

It was used to measure all sorts of things in the house as well. Mom used to use it in the sewing room as she cut and sewed material to make clothes. Sometimes it got used on my behind to bring me back into line. Today we are obsessed with measuring thing. Not so much with yardsticks anymore but in building the tape measure is still used a lot. In business there is often a spread sheet that is used to track or measure. As I worked in the Dairy production facility I used a number of these to measure various things like cost per liter, or to track packaging usage and waste. These measurements are used to determine value and profitability. But what about you?Spreadsheet

How can you track or measure your value to your friends, family, business, church or neighborhood? The thing about measuring your value is that it has to be compared to someone else. The bible may teach us not to judge others but the world has us well trained in doing so. It’s almost funny to hear people say “ Hey don’t judge me!” as if they now have abandoned that type of thought. What they mostly mean is “Hey don’t call me on choosing to do what is wrong”. Life can really mess with one’s “sense of value” but our real value cannot be changed. Our worth is determined by what someone was willing to pay for it. Well God was willing to surrender His life for you so that makes each of us priceless. Just like governments print money and back it’s value God who never changes has put the price tag on your head. You have immense, incredible, value that never changes because God never changes.Contestants

The need to compare yourself to another is gone because when God designed you He put the same effort into each one of us. We all have things that we just seem to be good at and can touch others unlike any other. We also have weaknesses that allow us to work in community because we all have need of each other. helping fellow racer09ef8ed4  Yes God had a great plan in mind when He designed us and the world that we live in. So the next time you look in the mirror just remember that the Almighty perfect, unchanging God took the time to design you just the way He wanted to so you would one day reveal Him to a world who has forgotten the One who establishes value. So tonight that is what you find me……… Just Thinking

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PICK UP YOUR MAT AND WALK

Jesus

I was thinking about the man who was lying on his mat at the pool of Bethesda for 38 years. That is a very long time and very likely was the majority of this man’s life. His situation was one where it was all but impossible for him to get the healing he was looking. Apparently every once in a while an angel would come and stir the waters of this pool and the first person to enter in after this happened was healed of whatever their affliction was.

So this man was crippled so rather then walking or running to the pool after this happened he had to crawl. Picture this for a moment. He is waiting for weeks which turn into months and finally the waters stir. He gets excited, rolls off his mat and begins to crawl. Suddenly he is covered by dust caused by the people running past to get to the water first. His heart sank as hope is dashed and he crawls back to his mat. Over the next year or two this same scenario is repeated over and over I wonder how many attempts were made by him for him to realize that this was never going to be the answer to his problem. It’s like laying out your financial plan and having it based on first winning the lottery.

So when I read in John 5 that Jesus asks the man “ Do you truly long to be healed?” ( TPT ) it made me wonder. When I first read the question I thought “ what a stupid question “ but we know that Jesus is anything but stupid so what was he getting at. So this is what I think. In that situation I would have certainly lost hope of winning the race to the pool. Then I would have been faced with a decision. Since this won’t change anything for me what do I do from here? With no money his options would be few. The point is that if you want things to change you need to try something new. This man did not so I am going to assume that he gave up.

When people get stuck in life sometimes that just accept things as they are and make that place home. In the son who became the prodigal had given up at the pen feeding pigs his story would have ended much differently. His options were few as well but he had to try something even against the odds of his dad accepting him back rather then just accepting things as they were.

Today many people are suffering with all kinds of physical and mental health challenges. What do you do when they come? Well many people today are being diagnosed with XYZ and the person accepts this proclamation as their lot in life and they lay on their mat and watch life pass by. Now perhaps you don’t know Jesus at least not in a real way. Maybe you do but your prayers have not changed your circumstances and you see that as Him saying no to you. So then we just nestle into whatever it condition it was that the doctor told us we had. For some it becomes our new identity. I can join a club of fellow people who suffer the same affliction. If your condition is made legitimate then you may become a speaker on behalf of your fellow suffers. Perhaps if it is sympathy and attention you wanted but never attained it before well you may have found a way.

So Jesus asks “ Do you truly long to be healed?” I’m sure the man at the pool knew everyone around there and their relatives. He was still alive so someone took care of him by proving food and drink perhaps a blanket. What did this man know how to do besides beg? It had been a long time since he worked. His whole world would change if he were healed. There goes the handouts that he had grown accustomed to. One thing that many of us fear is change. We cannot predict how the change will turn out and that stirs up fear. What if there was someone who you could trust completely. Let’s say that person loved you more then you loved yourself. This person already had a plan for your life that if you followed it you would be completely satisfied. Then you could surrender your life to someone like that and not need to fear.  Jesus extending hand

So think about it. If you are sidelined with something and you just don’t know what you could do to change things then…. So Jesus asks “Do you truly long to be healed?”

A SACRIFICE OF LOVE

This morning I found myself thinking about Jesus and His death. As a Christian we all know that it is His sacrifice that has allowed us to be accepted into the kingdom so I am not going to go there but this is where I am going.
There was a night long ago in my past where the fellowship that I attended was doing a bible study that was taught by Kay Arthur. We had her books and her video series but this particular lesson was on the night that Jesus surrendered himself to the religious authorities to suffer one of the most horrific periods that any man had ever endured. As I watched Kay describe what He was going through in great detail I found myself going into shock as I allowed myself to receive the truth of His suffering that He went through for my sake. When I say my sake I mean in a truly personal way and not the group type of understanding.
This was the night that the reality of what Jesus has done moved from my mind to my heart where I felt my own suffering that someone who loved me so very much was enduring this so I would not have to. I got to see through the eyes of my heart that this torture He was going through was unjust for Him but totally just for me. My life had earned suffering and death, not applause. He was abandoned by those he loved which would have been my fate. All my buddies that seemed so important to impress would all take off when things became unpleasant but it was happening to Him instead. This one friend I had, Jesus was the only friend who would stick by me when nobody else would and yet it was everyone but Him who got my best. Why would you stay with my when I was so unfaithful to me. I never deserved this love from you.
My heart was breaking but I didn’t want the people I was with to know how close to breaking I was. One of the men began to teach on the cat and nine tails but in a purely academic way that triggered such anger in me. I just discovered that Jesus was the best friend I ever had though I never realized it until now and also the reality of His death had hit me hard. I wanted to attack this man for his insensitivity! I wanted to grieve this loss I had just had but I seemed to be alone in this. I went home where the house was empty. My wife had just left with the kids just weeks before so I felt very alone. I allowed myself to go back to the thoughts I was having at the study. I became overwhelmed and I tried to tell Jesus how sorry I was but words could not express the pain I felt. I just knelt beside the bed and I let the dam go. I cried and sobbed buckets of tears that seemed to have been held back for years. This is what repentance must really have felt like. I had lived my life so wrong and been the poorest of friends to Jesus. I was no better then anyone and I realized it for the very first time.
I think that a part of me died with Jesus that night. When I had finished my sobbing I was a different person. I was a friend of Jesus now that did appreciate Him and did really love Him. My understanding had changed. He never chose me because I was so good or amazing but it was because He is who He is and very little to do with me. I just allowed myself to let the truth take root and change me. I was a sinful man born in sin so why did I think I had became something different. A worm does not transform into a butterfly unless it is willing to first allow itself a type of death for life to come forth from this.
Pondering 2This morning I was remembering who I had become and wondered what had happened to me that I no longer felt that new life flowing through me. I is all different and though my theology tells me that I belong to Him a great part of me feels like I was before this happened. As I pondered this a thought came drifting into mind. A word actually. “ ENTITLEMENT”. Somehow I think that I am now entitled to blessing and not suffering. I don’t need Jesus anymore as I “ saved” so I can move independently of Him. I looked up the word to refresh my memory of what this word really means:
ENTITLEMENT- he fact of having a right to something.
“full entitlement to fees and maintenance should be offered”
• THE amount to which a person has a right.
“annual leave entitlement”
the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.
“no wonder your kids have a sense of entitlement”

I was rescued by Him, so I could be part of the fellowship with He, Father, & Holy Spirit. I am meant and was made for this family and not to be independent or alone. How did I get so far from the truth? Perhaps it is time to repent once again. If you have forgotten what this word means

re·pent·ance
rəˈpentəns/
noun: repentance; plural noun: repentances
1. the action of repenting; sincere regret or remorse.
“each person who turns to God in genuine repentance and faith will be saved”

 

Just Thinking

Norman Crowell
Tuesday, January 9, 18

MY FRIEND

 

Woman

I HAVE THIS AWESOME FRIEND YOU SEE

WHO OFTEN HIDES HER SELF

A PART OF HER IS BROKEN

SO SHE DOESN’T SEE HER WEALTH

 

SHE DOESN’T SEE THE VALUE

DEPOSITED RIGHT FROM THE START

ON EVERY TEST SHE FAILS HERSELF

AND DAMAGES HER OWN HEART

 

OH THE DEVIL IS SO CRAFTY

AS HE SPEAKS HIS LIES TO HER

YOU’LL JUST NEVER BE ENOUGH OH CHILD

AND NOT WORTHY TO BE HEARD

 

THE OTHER GIRLS ARE OH SO SWEET

AS THEY LINE UP NEXT TO YOU

IF ONLY YOU WERE MORE LIKE THEM

SO ON THESE LIES YOU STEW

 

THE TRUTH YOU SEE IS GOD MADE YOU

WITH PURPOSE AND PLAN IN MIND

HE OFTEN IS REVEALED THROUGH YOU

BUT THE LIES HAVE LEFT YOU BLIND

 

YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO YOUR FATHER

AND TRUST HIS WORK IS GOOD

HIS HEART DELIGHTS IN WHO YOU ARE

IF YOU ONLY UNDERSTOOD

 

GOD’S MERCIES ARE FOR EVERYONE

IN THIS YOU DO BELIEVE

IT’S TIME TO LIFT YOUR EYES AND SAY

HIS LOVES I DO RECEIVEUNITY

 

 

 

 

Pain and it’s many forms

PAIN 1Pain in the neck

Pain is something that we all live with in one form or another. It comes in all shapes and sizes and is like a parasite as it sucks the life from it’s host. For this blog I want to explore the pain caused by betrayal. It happens to us all on the road of life but it doesn’t make it any less painful. I became familiar with betrayal as a young boy. Not all homes were that warm safe place growing up and mine wasn’t either. Mom and dad seemed to be at each others throats as longs as I can remember. The home was under constant threat of divorce. It was not as common as it is now but for me it was very troubling. I grew up with this nagging sense that I had no safe place and that love was highly unstable. ( She loves me, she loves me not )

Somewhere around the age of 10 I started to get really bad headaches. On one such time I was visiting a neighbor friend of my parents and she suggested I lay down and slept until it passed. She was always kind to me. I went to sleep and then woke as I heard a familiar voice. It was my father. I was curious why he was there. I went to see him and said “ Are you here to see if I was okay?” He said that he was. I was thinking how odd that he was doing that but I really wanted to believe that was true. I guess IO was never convinced at that age that I was really loved or appreciated at home. I really wanted to be so I accepted it as truth….. until I discovered that he was having an affair with that lady. That blow up was ugly which I got to see up front and personal. I was on my bicycle and going by that ladies house when my mother hollered for me to come in. I knew she was angry but I didn’t know why. I walked up the stairs and mom proceeded to tell me what this lady and dad were up to. There was lots of screaming. The ladies husband phoned and mom answered it. She tells the man what is going on and then takes the phone receiver and slams it into the woman’s face. At that point I left and so there blew up another place in my life that I found refuge in.Crying boy

Well the family split up for a while and my sister and I were moved to my aunts in a small village. She was a nice lady and so we needed to make new friends. Things were much quieter there and we settled in. One of my favourite things to do was to go into town to the racetrack and watch the horses go. One night mom took us ( during the separation period ) and my grandmother was there. ( dads mom ) It was time to go home and I wanted to stay later so my grandmother said I could stay and she would bring me home. That was great as my mom agreed. We the races were over I was in the car with her when she started to talk about the trouble with our family. I can’t remember what I said about it at the time but it was a negative comment regarding my father being the bad one. She got very upset and told me that it was not all dad’s fault because my mother was just an ol whore anyway. That comment sent me spinning as my one remaining parent was untrustworthy as well.Pain

It is funny how words can hurt and reshape you from one thing to another. My trust was destroyed as there was no place where you could trust other then I would need to trust my instincts and just watch myself. Where do you run as a child when home just isn’t home. It is funny but if someone were going to help me then and get me out of the mess I would have done whatever to stay there. My fear of the unknown was worse then the present fear I had. Yes betrayal can sure cause pain and the wounds are on the inside. Thankfully I discovered that there was a person who did love well and was willing to make me family. His love is unconditional and His home is indeed a safe place. His name is Jesus and He is very real. Anyway that is a few thoughts regarding betrayal that I found myself…… Just thinking

DARK DAYS

Sadness

The seasons change

and my scenery too

From the cold of winter

To the wet and goo

 

The rain clouds form

closing out the light

now dark and dreary

with no end in sight

 

My heart grows heavy

As joy has now fled

Sadness now comes

Filling me with dread

 

If I were alone now

Stuck in this pit

Soon I’d be hopeless

In the mess I’d sit

 

But I have a friend

And He’s always near

His words are true

And full of cheer

 

In His presence

I will smile again

In spite of the weather

I’ll dance in this rain

 

Circumstances do change

And trials do appear

But the love of my friend

Is always so near

Rainbow

With Him things are different

I’m safe and secure

the love of my Jesus

shall always endure

Jesus

“Ponderings of The Shack”

The Shack

Well I am sitting here “Just Thinking “ about the book/ movie called “The Shack”. It was probably my most favorite book of all time. It goes where no one else goes and that is where you get hurt and angry with God. We all know that He is God and that He is good all the time at least that is our confession. When great tragedy strikes you or someone you love our confession is tested and it our confession may be “ I Hate You God!”. I don’t think any of us ever plan this or even see the day coming that we would ever turn against God but yet for many of us it does.

The Shack takes you on a journey of a family that undergoes something horrific and the way it changes each person. It is not a book to create a new theology and to tear down anything though it gets accused of it but it is a book that leads you into the depths of your heart to discover what lies beneath the surface. We all need to really do that because you may be surprised at what you find.

Some real difficult things enter each of our lives at some point along our journey and how we react to them is what makes or breaks us. I have people in my own circle who have suffered things and their reaction to the things has ruined their lives, as they live in a pool of bitterness and unforgiveness. They meditate on the wrongs done to them by others. Well if you live on this planet people are going to do bad things to you that are not fair or just. The answer though is not “ getting them “ back but in forgiveness. Forgiveness is not what good little doobies do because they are just so nice, but is what wise people do so they can get past the wrong done to them and enjoy life again. If you don’t, you won’t. None of us ever feel like forgiving someone who hurt us directly or through a loved one but we want justice and we want them to suffer. We choose to forgive them for the sake of ourselves really. We do it because it is the road to freedom not because they deserve it or you just feel like doing it.37819432-depressed-young-businessman-sitting-wet-under-rain

I am a person who likes the truth whether it is a little painful or not. This book/ movie allows you into a person’s head as they process but ugly stuff and even how a person concludes things be they right or wrong. Today I visited a couple and had time to sit & listen to some of their stories of life. They had to watch their daughter die slowly by being rejected by others her own age. I love my children and would never want them to be rejected but it happens to most people. For this young girl it continued until she took her own life. Her mom had to find her in bed lying in pool of her own blood. I suspect that someone unknowingly murdered her that day with words designed to destroy her self worth. I’m not sure if the person who did that carries the burden of guilt today or if they forgave themselves and learned a huge lesson.

I’m not sure who the parents handled it at the time it happened but even to this day there still is pain. She told me that her peer group would sit at the back of the church and her daughter would join them. They would immediately move and leave her behind. One would assume that church would be a safe place but no rejection knows now bounds. The parents carry no bitterness toward anyone today but I can’t help but think if it was me how I would handle it. That situation would shame me on so many levels that I don’t know if I could recover or avoid killing someone or even a group. But wait I’m a good doobie so I’m sure I would just do all the right things. I am a person. I cannot predict how I would handle it until I am actually there. I would talk to God but how those conversations would go is anyone’s guess. When Christian passed away I had some pretty angry, accusing, screaming “conversations” with God and it shook my relationship with Him.

I suspect my story is not uncommon but I never left my pain all buried where it can’t get light to heal it. The Shack is all about helping people like you and me along their journey and helping us to discover God the person like we may never have known Him before. To all the religious people out there slandering the book/movie that they may have read or NOT I say stop it! This is a fiction that I believe is God inspired as it will bring many people into healing and restore relationships. “The Shack” is one of those gifts that get released by one ordinary man to help us ordinary people with seemingly extraordinary troubles and that is what I find myself “ Just Thinking”

THE GOSPEL OF JESUS

 

 520294182

What is that gospel message anyway, and just who is it for? Well I can start by telling you what it isn’t. It is not a message promoting a weekly gathering of people who try and separate themselves from the ungodly. It is not a list of do’s and do nots that we can measure ourselves and those around us. Church has an important role in the life of the believer but the good news that is known on the inside needs to be delivered to those on the outside. The reason the majority of us are on the inside is because someone shared the good news with us when we were knee deep in the mess of our own making.

Here are some great quotes from Jesus Himself that will reveal His character and what His purpose is.

  • For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
  • “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
  • John 6:35 And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

 

These are just a few I can think of but you can see even in these few quotes of His that the message He brought was not one of condemnation but is great news as it promises to take you from a lost and deathly ill state to one of life. If we are willing to trust Him with our lives then you will see that He is able to do what He says. It is not a self help program showing you how to be better behaved. The actions of sin are clearly spelled out in the bible so we can all see that we have that disease with no exceptions other then the son of God Himself.

He is still coming to people all over the earth today to receive them into the kingdom and show them a new and better way. You go from only being sort of loved by others that is very conditional, to being adopted into a family where you are wanted & loved. Jesus pays the ransom for you in blood and your name is added to the book of life.

The Spirit of God Himself now resides in you and will lead and teach you how to live this life as a son or daughter of the true king. It is a time to learn and unlearn. The laws of the kingdom of God are very much opposite to the laws we learn here. Since we are citizens of God’s kingdom we learn kingdom ways. If you want to prosper you become good at giving part of what you have away to help someone else. This world is full of lack but the kingdom of God is a kingdom of abundance and fullness. Want to climb the ladder of success now? Then forsake pride and it’s ways and walk in humility, seeing others as greater then yourself.

Although we are now new and different then we were before Jesus saved us, we are not without trials and suffering. These things can be tools to transform our characters into the very likeness of Christ. Seeing God’s faithfulness in these times will establish God as very relevant in your life and His reality in this world. I have a caution for you that I will illustrate with this picture.

Imagine yourself sailing in a land where pirates are plentiful, and there is a pirate ship bearing down on you. You know if you are caught by them that you will be one again made a slave and be tormented the rest of your days. Jesus is your captain and you are the 1st mate. Your blood is pumping fast and your ears are open to every command. You discover that your captain is very skilled and has no fear at all. You begin to realize that although there is danger all around you, that you are safer then you have ever been. His strategies seem odd and you think you know better but you submit to Him and discover that His ways lead to success. You grow in trust and wisdom in this environment and discover more about who you are and who you were created to be. The challenges of this voyage has made you more like your captain.

Now let’s suppose now that you are sailing in a sea that is calm. You are in a land much like the Caribbean that is warm and the scenery is beautiful. You see the palm trees on the islands you sail past and in these waters there are no pirates in sight. You are here with your captain Jesus. He teaches you about the ship and how to sail it. At first you are interested but as time goes on you become distracted and want to relax. You don’t feel that what He is sharing with you is really that important as you see no threats. So you recline in the sun and the voice of Jesus begins to fade away as you drift off to sleep. Drift is the operative word here. If we do not live our lives intentionally then our lives will drift. This strategy of the devil has proven successful against me personally. Once the devil discovers where you are weak he will try and exploit it.

When something wakes us from our sleep we will discover that we have drifted way off course and we are no longer going towards the kingdom. In fact you will be confused as to where you are and what your status really is. Your eyes will not see your captain nor will your ears hear His voice. The person whom you took for granted will be sorely missed. Now we find fear overtaking us and the beauty that was around us when we closed our eyes has gone and now we see pirate flags and ships bearing down on us. We try and get our sailboat to sail quickly away but we realize we never learned everything we needed to know to sail this vessel.

What happens after that is anyone’s guess. It is our reaction to things that will determine the course from this point forward. Some will be captured and taken back to where they began. Some will try and fight the enemy but will just get beat up worse. Some will fall to their knees and cry out for Jesus. Whatever we do we need to remember that our situations are very fluid. Even if we make bad choice after bad choice it is the desire of God that we are restored. He is never looking at you and thinking “ this will teach you to reject or ignore me. I hope you suffer!”. The liar may speak that in your ear but God will never say or think that. While you have breath in your lungs you have the choice to fall to your knees and get right with God. Turn your heart towards Him and you will start to hear and see Him in you life again. He is always within earshot and He has never really abandoned us but why we are in rebellion or going our own way our spiritual senses just fall asleep and remember that God is spirit.

You see God is good and His ways are higher then ours. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” John 16:11 Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

You see the gospel of Christ truly is good news for everyone who has an honest look at themselves and see their situation as it truly is. He is the hope of every man and woman alive. If you are a believer now then please don’t keep the good news to yourself like it is a secret. Tell someone for God’s sake! The gospel of Jesus is what I find myself….. Just Thinking

 

 

Norman C

THE FIREPLACE

fireplace

 

As I sat by the fireplace early this morning I seemed to have a million questions for God. I wondered why His power seemed to be absent from my life in these days. I wondered why the things outlined in the bible were not being carried out in my life. I know that I am not able to heal but I also know that He is. He is living within me yet I am seeing nothing. These and other questions flowed from me to Him.

I sat there with my eyes closed waiting for an answer. It seemed that only a few minutes had passed when suddenly the wood I put into the fireplace burst into flames. It gave me a start so my eyes opened and I stared into the flame. I felt that this is what He said to me.

“ Our relationship is much like this fireplace. First you must stir up the coals that are still in there from times past. Coals are the remains of the love that burned so bright between us. Next you add the fuel so there is something to burn. I feel like the fuel is time and interaction that is invested with Him. Without these it would seem odd to be still hoping for a fire.

The first thing you will notice is that smoke will begin to rise. This scent will be picked up by anyone within your surroundings. Not everyone will know what that smell is but it will be a sign. Next the fuel will ignite into a flame. The light that comes from this will be cast out from within. This will enable you to see the next step or two you will make on your path. It will also allow those who are close to you to see what they may not have been able to see in the dark. As the fire continues to burn, warmth will be released that will make a comfortable atmosphere around you. It will draw those who are cold and remember what it is like to be warm.

This is what you are longing for. It is this that you lack. It is here at the fireplace that all the questions you have in your heart will be answered. It is time to make a fire.”

 

Norman & God

December 12th 2016

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