Perfect Example






Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he permitted Him.  After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.””  Matthew 3:13-17
My favorite Sunday morning services were, undoubtedly, ones that would conclude with someone coming forward during the invitation song, requesting to be baptized.  It was when they realized that they want Jesus in their lives and wish to openly proclaim it; repenting of their sinful lives, confessing that Jesus is the Savior who sacrificed Himself to give God’s gift of everlasting life, and being buried in water to renew their lives in Him.  If those moments don’t give you goosebumps then, I don’t know what would!  I remember the very feeling of coming up out of that water, myself.  It was the physical sign of the Messiah washing away my own sins.
Sadly, this has also become a commandment that many would willfully omit from their lives saying, “It isn’t really necessary to my salvation.”  I have even been asked, on occasion, of whether I thought it was important.  They would support it not, with the backing of “explain the criminal on the cross” or situations in which a person may be physically unable to be baptized.  Here is my answer: my name is Duane Lovett, not Jesus Christ.  Nor, is that their name.  So, here’s the deal:  Jesus set an example of being baptized, Himself.  Who are we to suggest anything different?  He commands it “for the remission of our sins” (Acts 2:38).  Here are a few other thoughts to ponder:

Jesus commands it - 
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  Matthew 28:18-20

Baptism coupled with faith is linked to salvation - 
He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.  Mark 16:16

Baptism is essential to receiving of the gift of the Holy Spirit - 
And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” And they said, “Into John’s baptism.” Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”  Acts 19:3-5 Also, refer to Acts 2:38

In baptism we are brought into spiritual contact with the blood of Jesus and mark the formal beginning of a new life - 
“Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore, we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:3-4

So, my question is this: Knowing that this is a commandment (one that should willfully be taken), does God reward those who choose not to follow His commands?
Just something to think about. 

Man Without Fear




"Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world." Revelation 3:10


Why is the Daredevil my favorite out of all superhero-lore? It has nothing to do with a blind mind with exceptional hand-to-hand combat skills.  Nothing to do with his special abilities due to overly heightened senses. It has EVERYTHING to do with a man attempting to keep his very soul on the right side of God's war against evil.

A while back, a new series came out, based on this fictional hero.  As the story unfolds, you see a man struggling with his own “devils”.  Angered by a flawed judicial system, he ventures out to exact justice upon those who prey on the weak.  He is forced to choose to stand alone when, as a lawyer, the legal system breaks down.  One side of him wants to give the villains what they “deserve”, while another side of him struggles with allowing that to pull him into the very darkness he is trying to protect others from.  Often, Matt Murdock (aka Daredevil) seeks refuge at the local church.  Sometimes, even confiding in his priest on his inner struggles.  He is considered the “most spiritual of all comic heroes.” 

I had reached a point in my trail of life that I needed to get back the trail God intended, not the trail of others.  I was starting to allow others to pull me into the easy path.  I needed to turn and go against the grain.  I needed to seek Jesus to be my trail guide.  I had forgotten the way.


So, where I am going with this “Daredevil” thing?  He is nicknamed The Man Without Fear.  That is what we need to become, fearless.  Fearless of what people might think of us for the Godly choices we make.  Fearless to choose the side of God.  Fearless to stand with Him and battle Satan and his army.

The “Daredevil” lesson is that we do not want to compromise our souls by choosing the easy path.  We may want to strike out in anger.  We may want to lash out with bitter words.  That is the real devil saying, “Go ahead!  It’ll be fine, just do it!”  Stay out of that dark path.  It will be extremely difficult to come back from it. 
However, we can choose to endure.  We can choose to face the tests that God gives us, on this earth.  If we do that then, as John writes in this Revelation passage, God will protect us from the great time of testing, the day of judgement before God.

God gives us a path of light.  A path of truth.  A path of fair justice.  God will protect those who seek His mercy. 

MESSAGES FROM THE LAMP - Conclusion: The Apple Appeal



"For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light." Luke 8:17


Ever been in the produce section of the store and you notice an apple, but not just any apple...the perfect apple? The perfect shade of red, perfect size, and everything about it looks appealing. You want to pick that apple up and eat it right then, right? You pick up the apple, and you turn it to look at and then.....on the backside there's the worm hole, or a deep bruise! In the blink of an eye, you put the apple down and walk away, everything that initially drew you to it vanished!

There was one spot on the lamp that I couldn't clean up, no matter how hard I tried to reach it. So, I worked around it as best I could. Not real noticeable, but it's there.

I got to thinking about the "flaws" we carry. We all have them, but the point is how we deal with them. These flaws can be from pain afflicted, deceitfulness, abandonment, disappointment, falseness, etc. etc. It can be different things. Often created by what we face. Nothing you can do can hide it, even though you try to keep people from seeing it. Two choices can be made, when dealing with these tarnished spots:

First, you can try to hide it on your own. However, by then, the "wormhole" has dug deep inside of you. It's a part of your actions now. You pass yourself off as something spectacular and then, inevitably, the other side comes out. You fail to see the problem and others are left with lack of true and lack of trust. That one small spot is enough to tarnish the once beautiful image they held.

Or, second, you can face the imperfection and realize you can't cover it up yourself, but you can seek help. You seek help from seeking the cleansing power of Jesus' blood....it can clean away even the toughest spots. Then, you reconcile with those that you have failed. People that love and care about you enough, will forgive and help you out. Then together, with God's grace, you can get back the more appealing qualities you once had...and not allow that one tarnished spot to be the final impression that you leave.

MESSAGES FROM THE LAMP - Part 2: Illumination




"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." Psalm 119:105

Blackness! Darkness! Complete nothingness!! I have been out in the wild, in total darkness...moonless nights, but nothing...NOTHING compared to this. I held my hand right at my nose, waved it.... NOTHING. I knew for the first time what it must be like for a person without sight. Living in blackness!
A few years back, I went to the Natural Bridge Caverns, near San Antonio, TX. I took the lantern tour, which means the only source of light came from the small lanterns each of us carried, 180 ft. down into the earth. Just a small group, consisting of a young early-20's couple, the two guides, and myself. Once we reached the deepest point, while listening to an audio recording we switched off the lamps. SWEET MOTHER OF PEARLS!!!! TOTAL BLACKNESS, in a 99% humid cave with NO source of light!  WOW! I could feel the very darkness cling to me like being covered in damp burlap!  It was an amazing experience, which for someone who is claustrophobic, NOT a good idea. As for me? Good thing it was totally dark, the others couldn't see me looking like a dork while I was looking all around me, as if I could see the stone walls.  Hey, I just said I'm a dork, don't judge me! 😊

After momentarily switching the lamps back on, one of the guides lit and old miner's lamp, very similar to my grandpa's, and switched off our lanterns again. Frankly, it wasn't much better than the darkness. Holding the lamp at less than two feet from a wall, BARELY gave off the faintest glow! This is what those men of old had to work with.... W O W!!!

The lesson here is we keep wanting God to show us the way and we tend to get a little cranky when He doesn't show the whole path. Then, we make the mistake of trying to look beyond the light's reach. That's when trouble happens. Like these miner's, we need to move slowly and carefully in our lives, keeping in mind that we are still moving forward, but with patience to allow the Father to show you as much (or little) at a time as He chooses. We need to understand that God has a reason for this. We need to trust this and not question it! A little light is better than nothing at all.

"It is better to light one small candle, than to curse the darkness" - Chinese proverb

MESSAGES FROM THE LAMP - PART 1: You Are Revealed




"Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves." Matthew 7:15


Grandpa's old miner's lamp.  When my mother showed it to me, it was tarnished and covered with gunk, due to the sands of time.  It took a lot of time, patience, and a LOT of brush attachments on my Dremel tool! She turned out a beauty. She really shined!

I didn't know what I was expecting to find as I started stripping all the tarnish, gunk, and buildup. I wasn't expecting it to be as shiny as you see it now. So, you may ask, why the verse from Matthew 7?

I got to thinking about the words of Matthew 7:15-20. It reflected on my own vision of people, of what I expect to find underneath all the layers that is built up. I expect the shine. However, it doesn't always work that way. When I have peeled the layers off of many people, expecting the beauty, I often find that what's beneath is no better than what has caused all the tarnishing to begin with. As Matthew 7:20 says "You will know them by their fruits."

I expect something shiny, beautiful; disappointed when I find that it is anything but that. It is those who don't live at the 100%.

Living at 100% means showing what is inside, on the outside. Many live in an 80%, 60%, etc...only by some mishap, is the true inner self exposed. 

Today, let people know the 100% you. Otherwise, don't expect a 100% return....and if what lies beneath is tarnished, break out God's tool and remove it. Strip it away, so that you can start again with something beautiful. Renew yourself to God and to those around you.

Shine On





"Do you bring a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don't you put it on its stand? For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear." Mark 4:21-23

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.

We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.

Your playing small
Does not serve the world.
There's nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won't feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us.

It's not just in some of us;
It's in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we're liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others. 
-Marianne Williamson                        

Mark 4 reminds me of this Marianne Williamson poem.  It comes to mind when I see "attention seekers".  Some post a load of selfies and I ask myself "why"? Is it inadequacy? Is it so you can constantly hear how beautiful you are? Because, inevitably, that is the result....same as the last time you posted one...and the time before. Are we constantly needing to seek approval from others? The answer is: YES! For whatever decision we make, we have an inner longing for others to say: "looks great", awesome job", "proud of you". There are times when that is encouraged, but when it is a constant draw....why?

Others selflessly pursue the happiness of others and feel powerless to do so. We may not be able to "change the world" as we would like, but we can do as Mark said, and as Marianne stated:

We can shine for others. We can liberate ourselves of our burdens and through our examples, liberate others, who choose to see it.

Don't worry about how you look, or how you dress, or what kind of car you have, or job you have to "impress" others. Instead, impress God with your heart. Don't let Jesus's sacrifice go in vain, by shrinking to what others want, or don't want to hear or believe.

SHINE ON for what you believe. You never know who make be enlightened by this. :)

Remembering




And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.”  Revelation 14:13

I think we all would agree that this has been a trying time for our country.  We have hatred and racism, all around us.  People are hashing up old wounds from the distant past, without properly understanding those events that divided our young nation.  People are bent on hating purely based on skin color.  Many have rejected history as a learning tool and are in the process of “removing” history any way possible.

Natural disaster, by way of two hurricanes, have left a path of death, injury, and destruction.  Many states, companies, and emergency service units sprang into action; providing rescue, food, sheltering, and medical assistance.  The damage is not over.  The casualty rate will, likely, rise again.  While many are forgetting the hatred and joining together, another historic statue was removed in Dallas, TX.  Sadly, while the Lone Star State is trying to recuperate from massive hurricane and flood damage, people still are bent on selfishness and foolish pride.

Today, sixteen years later, family and friends are remembering loved ones that were killed in the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.  Many our remembering the sacrifice family members made, while stopping the plans of the terrorists aboard United Airlines Flight 93.  Where are the rest of our hearts?  Are they still burning with racial hatred?  Are they forgetting what happened?  Do they realize how vulnerable they are making this country?  How weak they are making its citizens?  What is it going to take, another terrorist attack?  Have you forgotten?

There is a reason we should be taking a moment and reflecting on what has happened.  There is a reason that it should cause us to pay more attention to what is happening to our fellow Americans that have been driven from their homes, in the aftermath of these recent disasters.  There is a reason we should be fighting to be ONE NATION, UNDER GOD.  That reason is God’s Son, our Savior.  He died to unite people to God, not drive wedges between them.  Have you forgotten?

While we often reflect on soldiers that fought and died, protecting this country, ask yourselves, “What about those who didn’t ask to die?  What will all those that just went to work in the World Trade Center, expecting just another average day of work, say to people so full of anger against each other?”  “How would those men and women, on United 93, feel about what they left behind?”  Do you think they would be asking, “I gave up my life, never being able to see my family, kiss my spouse, watch my children grow, for this?”  Have you forgotten?

To those out there, that are keeping the racial tensions burning, you can stay filled with hate, anger, greed, wanting attention, expecting everyone to change to suit your misunderstanding of our past.  Or, you can understand that we are not living in the 1800’s still.  You can research the events that took place and gain knowledge about those events.  Then, you try to be part of the solution for bringing UNITY to all our nation’s citizens.  Have you forgotten?

This morning, my prayer revolved around the hurricane victims and to all those helping their fellow citizens.  It also reflected on those who are missing loved ones from today’s tragic history.  I would hope that everyone would do the same and ask our Father “what can I do to be part of the solution?”

Heavenly Father, don’t ever let me forget!