talking trash

“Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’  And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.’”  Revelation 21:5 (NKJV)

 “I have found little that is ‘good’ about human beings on the whole. In my experience most of them are trash, no matter whether they publicly subscribe to this or that ethical doctrine or to none at all. That is something that you cannot say aloud, or perhaps even think.”  Sigmund Freud

We’ve all heard it said, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”  I was recently blessed to consider this well-worn statement from a spiritual perspective.

Black bears are a pretty standard sight where I live.  They routinely show up in all of the various neighborhoods in the area in search of food.  Their favorite target?  The practically unlimited and readily available buffet of residential trash cans. 

As you might guess, bears are sloppy diners.  They’re never worried about the mess their uninvited foraging leaves behind, which can be pretty substantial if they happen upon a heavily loaded garbage can.

A few weeks ago, the bears treated themselves to an early breakfast at the front of our subdivision.  The aftermath of the bear’s morning celebration stretched from one side of the road to the other, resulting in one resident, a lady, pretty overwhelmed with the clean-up task in front of her.

Upon seeing her predicament, I decided the right thing to do would be to lend her a helping hand.  I have to tell you that I did so with some reluctance because I knew this was a recurring problem for this family.  After all, they were known by all the neighbors never to secure their garbage cans overnight.  In other words, this wasn’t their first post-bear-buffet-clean-up rodeo.

To further add to my less-than-pure motives, as I was picking things up, another neighbor came up to me to point out there were more piles of garbage “over there between those houses and be sure not to miss them.”  And yes, you’d be right in guessing I got a bit Clint Eastwood-squint-eyed upon hearing that comment.  Fortunately, the sunglasses I was wearing at the time did an excellent job of hiding my displeasure over such a “helpful” suggestion.  She quickly added that she had wanted to help pick up, but her husband told her it wasn’t her problem to fix.  Again, let me applaud the unsung and often overlooked advantages wearing sunglasses brings to the table in such situations.

All that to say, my heart’s attitude had become increasingly in the wrong place as I worked my way through the piles of garbage randomly strewn about multiple front yards.  There was a growing grumbling and mumbling on my part each time I picked up a piece of trash. “This really isn’t my problem, so what am I doing here cleaning up someone else’s trash?”

And that’s when a whisper graciously redirected my attention from me to Jesus, saying, “Aren’t you thankful Jesus saw you as so much more than ‘not His trash, not His problem?’  How blessed you are that He didn’t walk away from your sinful mess but instead chose to give Himself up for you willingly.”

I can’t begin to tell you how wonderfully humbling that clarifying moment was for me.  My entire outlook changed from one of oppression to liberation.  My efforts were no longer burdensome, but instead, there was a newfound blessing to be experienced in the task that lay stretched out before me.  Who knew picking up trash could be so joyful? 

“Jesus Christ knows the worst about you. Nonetheless, He is the one who loves you the most.”  A. W. Tozer

Friend, let there be no doubt in your mind and heart that when Jesus sees you, He doesn’t see you as the world does, or even perhaps as you see yourself.  You are not worthless trash that is better left untouched on the side of the road.  You are His creation of immeasurable value that is worth touching.  To Jesus, you are not just any treasure; you are His treasure, the reason He came into this world.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”  John 3:16-17 (NKJV)

Casting Crowns, “Love Moved First” from the album, “Only Jesus.”

Power Washing

Power Washing

Wherever a power washer is employed, a dramatic and significant change for the better happens as evidenced by this recent photo taken by Steve Wiggins.

It’s an obvious difference-maker that results in a startling night and day, dark and light, dirty and clean contrast between the before and after. 

And this for perishable, earthly things in desperate need of thorough cleaning.  How much more urgent is the heart-wrenching cry for the necessary cleansing embodied in our eternal souls for those who seek an everlasting relationship with God?

 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 (NKJV)

“Not of works, lest anyone should boast.”  Ephesians 2:9 (NKJV)

Unclean and incapable of saving ourselves, how, then, can we ever hope to come into His holy presence?

Unwilling to leave us in our hopeless state of darkness, God has graciously provided us with the means of a soul-scrubbing, power-washing rescue, a pathway leading directly to Him.

What is this unique pathway?

 “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”  John 1:29 (NKJV)

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 (NKJV)

What is Jesus’s mission here on earth?

“to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.”  Acts 26:18 (NKJV)

Jesus is the River of Life.  Jordan Feliz, “The River” from the album “The River.”

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”  Romans 3:16-17 (NKJV)

Has your soul been set free by the Lamb of God’s sacrifice?

that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 8:9-10 (NKJV)

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,” Ephesians 2:8 (NKJV)

“He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”  Colossians 1:13-14 (NKJV)

Where do you stand spiritually? Are you still in the “before Jesus” darkness, or have you stepped into the “after Jesus” light of His power washing grace?

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus.  By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place.  And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.”  Hebrews 10:19-22 (NLT)

Michael W. Smith, “Washed Away” from the album “Surrounded.”

“Per-sway-did” or “Per-sway-dead”?

“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:8 (NKJV)

“He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Matthew 13:9 (WEB)

“He said, ‘Go out, and stand on the mountain before Yahweh.’ Behold Yahweh passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains, and broke in pieces the rock before Yahweh; but Yahweh was not in the wind.  After the wind there was an earthquake; but Yahweh was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake a fire passed; but Yahweh was not in the fire.  After the fire, there was a still small voice.  When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle, went out, and stood in the entrance to the cave.  Behold a voice came to him, and said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’”          1 Kings 19:11-13 (WEB)

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”  John 10: 27 (WEB)

There was always some sort of wind blowing in this particular area I once lived in so the breeze that greeted me that winter morning was to be expected as I walked down a familiar stretch of sidewalk with our two dogs.  The breeze that day, however, was particularly light.  It was the kind of breeze you notice if you’re heading into it, but if you’re headed in the same direction with it you don’t notice it much at all.

As I continued walking down the sidewalk my eyes were drawn to the surprising sight up ahead of a wildly vibrating, swaying plant.  It seemed alive so animated were its movements which were akin to one of those inflatable, super-tall, madly flailing dancing characters automobile dealerships use to hopefully arrest your attention. Fascinating!

But what made this scene even more remarkable was that this plant danced alone even though it was surrounded by numerous other plants which stood there unmoved as if they were the plant manifestations of the stoic Easter Island statues.  The lone plant took notice of the faint breeze while all the other plants remained steadfast, unmoved, and locked firmly into place.

The visual contrast between the two groups could not have been any more stark and dramatic. The one danced with unrestrained exuberance as the almost imperceptible wind moved across it, yet the others seemed to be stuck in concrete unwilling and unable to move at all.

Sadly, truth be told though, can the same not be said regarding our response to God’s presence in our lives?  Some are moved to dance in His presence while others remain unmoved even though the breath of God moves across all.  As with the plants the difference between these two different groups of people could not be any more obvious as illustrated by these two scriptures:

“But they refused to listen, and turned their backs, and stopped their ears, that they might not hear.” Zechariah 7:11 (WEB)

 “David danced before Yahweh with all his might; and David was clothed in a linen ephod.”  2 Samuel 6:14 (WEB)

God’s breath, His very presence,  moves across each and every one of us as 2 Peter 3:9 (WEB) points out saying, “The Lord is not slow concerning His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient with us, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

There is opportunity for movement towards Him for all in each of our journeys.  Yet, the truth is only a precious few acknowledge or react to His presence in their lives in a profound and transformed manner.  One is moved to dance in His presence all the while surrounded by others who rigidly standby in complete silence.

“When they had appointed him a day, many people came to him at his lodging.  He explained to them, testifying about God’s Kingdom, and persuading them concerning Jesus, both from the law of Moses and from the prophets, from morning until evening.  Some believed the things which were spoken, and some disbelieved.”  Acts 28:23-24 (WEB)

There is a still small Breeze whispering out to you, beckoning you to move in His direction.  We all have a choice to make.  Will you remain hardened and unflinching in His presence such that you are “per-sway-dead” to remain motionless?  Or are you “per-sway-did” to dance in His presence overflowing with the joy of the Lord?

“Now therefore fear Yahweh, and serve him in sincerity and in truth.   Put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River, in Egypt; and serve Yahweh.  If it seems evil to you to serve Yahweh, choose today whom you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell;  but as for me and my house, we will serve Yahweh.”  Joshua 24:14-15 (WEB)

 The Lord lovingly holds out His hand in invitation for this dance of your life.  Do you hear it?  Do you feel it? Oh my brothers and sisters I pray each of you take His outstretched hand and sway to the rhythm of His life-giving breeze of hope!

“Now the God of hope fill you will all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit.”   Romans 15:13 (WEB)

 “You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill can’t be hidden. Neither do you light a lamp, and put it under a measuring basket, but on the stand; and it shines to all who that are in the house.  Even so, let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”  Matthew 5:14-16 (WEB)

 

So, here we are a few years later and the message remains the same, but this time expressed in a video:  Some “leaves” move in the presence of His voice and are alive, but sadly some are decidedly deaf to His whispers and are dead.