Count Your Blessings

Have you ever noticed that we really hold God to the big things and forget all the essential “little” things He does for us on a daily basis?

Or that maybe, we think the bigger the blessing the less likely God will oblige our wants/dreams.

As Christians we often settle for less and call it humility instead of believing God truly does want to bless us—His children!

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11)

Love at its core is sacrificial. When you love someone you sacrifice your time, energy, and resources ($$). That is why we have so many ‘giving’ holidays—we love to bless those we love!

How much more does God want to bless us? Hasn’t He already given His only Son? That is the greatest blessing He could give and He did so freely when we were still lost! So is it really so wrong to ask Him for things?

There are circumstances when God’s answer is “not yet.” But understand that He cares about what you care about—and He also knows what’s best for you.

Some blessings can easily become a curse if they are given prematurely. Sometimes we aren’t ready to receive them. And if we aren’t ready to receive how can we hope to keep them?

A job promotion (at work or church)…A winning lottery ticket…A new house/car…A inheritance…all things that can backfire if mishandled.

“…70 percent of lotto winners lose or spend all that money in five years or less.” (Readers Digest)

I don’t know about you, but there have been many times in my life I thought I was ready for something, was forced to wait, and then realized that it was God’s timing that saved me from a world of heartache.

I remember falling in love with boy and asking God to be able to marry him—turns out He had someone far better in mind for me. And I can remember the first time I tried to serve in our old church Kids ministry and just wasn’t cut out for it. Turns out God wanted me to learn and grow, gaining experience until one day I was “cut out” and even anointed to do it excellently.

God’s blessings and promotions have always been right on time. And He has even given me things just to show how good and invested in our lives and interests He really is.

He’s spontaneous like a lover after His Bride’s heart. It has always been these little blessings that amaze me most because they prove God is personal, thoughtful, and involved in our lives.

I’ll give you one of many examples of how God drops these little blessings into my day-to-day:

I’m a big Star Trek fan, and I’ve been longing for some more books to read. In fact, I’ve had a list saved on Amazon for some time—just sitting there because I didn’t want to selfishly spend so much on them new.

Our local library started a book market and I figured I’d stop in and find some books for my son (secretly hoping to find at least one good Star Trek novel). When I got there I gravitated toward the sci-fi section and gaped at the huge row of donated Star Trek novels, hardback, and many of the ones I wanted to read.

I came home with a huge box full as well as a few books for my son (one is is favorite right now) all dirt cheap.

Little blessings or divine appointments like this happen all the time. The moment I think of something I need or really want—it suddenly becomes available to me in ways that make me smile to the heavens in thanks.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that God knows you. He wants to give you good gifts and pour out His love upon you. All you need to do is believe, position yourself to receive, and wait.

And remember that you are blessed by God already. He gave you His own Son. The breath of life. And so much more….

Many of the gifts God gives me, such as my stash of Star Trek books, will fade away to dust. But the everlasting gift of salvation through His Son, will never fade and cannot be stolen from you.

Only you can give that away.

So count your blessings, no matter how dark this world gets, no matter what you see happening in the world around you during these uncertain times…count your blessings. Remember who you are, what you are here to do, and the everlasting home you will return to someday.

Praise Him, our Good Father, day and night…let your first and last prayer be that of praise and thanksgiving. Amen!

The Final Frontier

William Shatner (Captain James T. Kirk) officially dubbed astronaut and the oldest person to go to space.

Obviously, as a Trekkie, I tuned into ABC’s news live to watch my fictional hero go to space. However, it meant so much more to the man behind the character. James Kirk had captained many voyages in space…Bill, on the other hand, had never been to space once.

Blue Origin has received a lot of hate for various reasons. But as I waited and watched, I honestly found myself excited by the technology and the dreams that made civilian travel to space an option. Maybe in the future…anyone truly can go to space. It’s thoughts like this that bring a smile to my Trekkie face.

I withheld an exclamation of “wow!” as I watched the ship called, New Shepherd, take off. The raw power and precision of it was astonishing. Watching someone I cared about—nerve racking!! As the ship gained speed, far surpassing 2,000 mph, I imagined the G-forces 90 year old Bill was facing.

And then, they were in space.

I could see the black coldness from the outer cameras on the rocket as it fell away from the lone capsule back to Earth. I gaped in awe as it’s thrusters were enacted and it landed almost perfectly back at the landing point—with a chest rattling boom.

It had successfully been to space (just past the Karman line) 15 times. This time marking its second manned flight. Here is the flight path of the rocket and it’s capsule:

When the capsule landed safely, everyone breathed a sigh of relief and the celebration commenced. Cars/trucks sped down the sandy paths toward the waiting crew, who are now official astronauts.

I watched as Bill exited, a little shaken up but moved by the whole experience.

I hope I never recover from this…” Bill told founder, Jeff Bezos. Going on to say that it was unlike anything he had ever experienced, and that everyone should go to space to encounter it for themselves.

Shatner: “I mean, the little things, the weightlessness, and to see the blue color whip by and now you’re staring into blackness. That’s the thing. This covering of blue is this sheet, this blanket, this comforter of blue around that we have around us. We think ‘oh, that’s blue sky’ and suddenly you shoot through it all of a sudden, like you whip a sheet off you when you’re asleep, and you’re looking into blackness – into black ugliness. And you look down, there’s the blue down there, and the black up there, and there is Mother Earth and comfort and – is there death? Is that the way death is?”

“…It’s so much larger than me and life; it hasn’t got anything to do with the little green and blue orb. It has to do with the enormity and the quickness and the suddenness of life and death. Oh my god, it’s unbelievable.”

Bill even breaks down on tears a couple times, so moved and changed by the experience. And it’s all very strange to see against the backwash of the other astronauts laughing and celebrating, champagne being passed and shot out all over the desert. Bill even subconsciously dodged the spurting alcohol, clearly apart from the young throng not only in mind, but in heart.

I was equally moved by his words. Although, such an experience for me would not be marred by the feeling that Earth is happen chance. Miraculous by mistake and doomed to be overcome by the black deadness of space should we fail to change how we treat her.

It’s fragility would not make me nervous or worrisome, but would give me a sense of wonder and peace that if it was not for God, we would not exist at all. This fragile blue orb is in good hands, and it is God that keeps it together. Are we able to destroy it? I don’t know…but I do know that what we are able to do is very different than what will actually happen.

God has a plan and a purpose. He has the final say.

As my son woke up, drawing me back to Earth—literally! I could not help but consider the brevity of life Bill encountered as he passed through the thin blue shield of our atmosphere into space. The lifeless void.

Is this death?

He asks, immediately feeling the absence of life for the first time. Whereas Jim Kirk would smile at the unknown, Bill struck me with a kind of fear and repulsion toward it.

This ugly black, this empty, cold, suffocating void of darkness…the total absence of life, in every definition of the term.

Our Earth resides here.

Our living Earth. And quite possibly—the only one.

When I look out at the stars, it’s majesty, it’s chaos, and now even it’s dangerous unknown…I encounter God there. He created it all (in my belief) for us to enjoy. Maybe even to explore….but I doubt we will find little green men or life on another planet….no, God spun the entire vast Universe into existence merely for us to look up at in wonder.

It proves that our problems really are quite small and infinitesimal. That He has the whole world in His capable hands.

I really hope that someday, Bill and others like him will come to the realization that God is in control. And it’s only by Him that this blue little orb survives and thrives amidst nothingness.

I pray as my son grows, he also will not fear the unknowns of space but will stare in wonder and the stars and, in turn, behold the wonder of God. Who exists apart from time and space itself. Who created this blimp of land, Earth, and sky for His beings to live upon.

“In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth. The Earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”…” (Genesis 1)

Take Up Your Cross

“What but a supernatural power could have preserved them [the Jewish people] in such a manner as none other nation upon earth hath been preserved.”
—Thomas Newton

Since the beginning of humanity, God’s people have been attacked, killed, and led astray. If one were to find themselves in doubt over the legitimacy of the Bible, he/she need only look at how this world still hates the Jewish nation and Christianity.

No other religion is hated/targeted worldwide. And in fact, the most violent of beliefs (Islam), which exists to purge the world of Jewish/Christian followers (infidels), manages to do so widely unchallenged. It would seem that no amount of violence could solicit the same hate that “we” get by merely breathing.

I say this not with an “us against them” mentality, but to shed light on the fact that the devil is still the ruler of this world. He is our enemy whose deception fails to mask his hatred and “mission” to destroy men and women of God.

This proves that the Word of God is true. Especially, when you take into account the resiliency of our Faith. Withstanding the hate of the world for centuries—and still growing!

The Jewish nation of Israel, for example—is still standing and growing in number/advancement, even when attack wages against it from every side and its allies fail to assist them.

The devil may run the world, but God is ultimately in control.

Our faith is not for the faint of heart. In the picture above, we see the final act of hatred. Genocide. Beginning with the Egyptians, Philistines, Assyrians, and in this picture, the Romans…who destroyed the great temple (a second time) and crucified many Jews.

No one knows the exact number of crucifixions. At one point, entire forests were leveled in the making of crosses, and 500 Jews a day were killed…

After Roman rule, the land of Jerusalem continues to be captured, conquered, ruled, and dismantled, and even today is under constant attack from Palestine and Islamic terrorists.

Jerusalem isn’t the only place of long suffering. As we know from WWII, the Holocaust (over 6 million Jews were tortured and killed). Christian genocide is also happening throughout the world, but not gaining the same public recognition/outrage. It would seem that the Holocaust was the last time the world cared about the lives of Jews and Gentile alike.

Based on the yearly findings of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC), an estimated 100,000 Christians are martyred each year.

Other sites agree that this equates to a Christian being killed roughly every 5 minutes.

Burma, China, Eritrea, India, Iran, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Vietnam are listed as “countries of particular concern” for Christian persecution by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom’s 2020 report.

That of course doesn’t take into account the latest developments in Afghanistan this year and how that has effected the region’s Christians and underground churches.

Here in America, there is also a hatred, and that hatred is being fanned into an ever growing inferno against the Christian morals and churches in this country.

Suddenly, we’re being labeled as evil, close-minded, uncaring, judgmental, racist, and hateful…and sadly, there are some religious spirit filled churches and people who haven’t exactly loved like Jesus.

It is up to us to break the stigma, to love like Christ, and stand firm on the Word of God and it’s moral truths.

Why? Because sin =destruction (death)

And as for our faith?

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”’ —Matthew 16:24-25

It’s all or nothing…when you become a Christian you are openly siding against this world and it’s leader. You are in many ways painting a target on your back, taking the road less traveled, and welcoming persecution in every form.

You are choosing self sacrifice. Selfless love, and surrender. You are declaring that truth, what is right, should be upheld regardless of how the world flees from it. Your offering up your life, your talents, your time, and your treasure onto God saying, “do as you will.”

In the years to come, you will be forced to decide between what is right and what is easy. You will either make a stand or bow, fight or flee, stand on God’s Word or conform to this world’s “truth.”

The age of American Christianity is (more than likely) nearing its end. And it will give way to real Christianity…the kind that doesn’t bend, can’t be contained, and isn’t easily extinguished. The kind that martyrs are made from.

Are you ready to pick up your cross? To follow Jesus to the very ends of the earth?

I’m not declaring that we will all perish as martyrs. My goal with this post is merely to awaken us to action, and to reflect upon our faith.

Regardless of what happens in America, it cannot be denied that times are changing and the church must react before that right is taken away. We need to ditch our fear of man, fear of dislike, and understand that if we wanted to be liked we wouldn’t be here, doing the ministry of Christ.

When does it become real? What side will you stand on when persecution knocks on your door?

Is Jesus really enough?