Archives For October 2013

Hello and welcome back!  Thanks for stopping by.

I can’t believe that it will soon be Thanksgiving and then — blink twice —Christmas wraps you in tinsel and another year is gone!  Speaking of years passing, I have seen 60+ of them flow by.

According to my calculations, there are less ahead than those visible in my rearview mirror on this one-way road to eternity.

Regrets?  Some.

Thankfulness?  Lots.

Reflecting on Christmas Past, I have “Tiny Tim” memories of my 5th Christmas.  I remember lying awake, trying to visualize the wonders under that tree and then trying to fall asleep so the night would end and I could jump out of bed and — Carpe diem!  It would be time to seize that wonderful day!

That 5th Christmas was in the 50’s.  Either you personally remember the 50’s or you have heard or read about it.  I lived it.

It was a time of innocence.

It was a time of the restoration of our nation.

The 2nd World War had ended, I was one of the first of the baby boomers, and life was good.  If fact, it was grand!

A brand new and shiny red Schwinn 22″ bike with a large, bright white bow was patiently pawing the floor awaiting my early morning resurrection into a new world of mobility!

I remember another Christmas a wee bit later in the fifties but 956 miles from that earlier Christmas.  It took place just after the birth of my younger brother and only sibling in 1954.

It was a joyous time!

It was a celebration of family time!

It was a Knights of the Round Table and King Author time as I excitedly ripped the wrappings off my shinning new sword and shield – making me Sir Lancelot of Camelot!

Ahhh – those were never-ending days of youth –somehow ending when my back was turned.  Hazy days of youth never to be revisited although lovingly contemplated into the twilight of my remaining time here on earth.

Speaking of my time here on earth and my reflections back over the years, coming to know Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior outshines any present that I ever received at any time in my life.  He granted me knowledge of God’s holy love for me, a sinner.

The gift He bestowed on me didn’t come wrapped up in shiny, bright tinsel but steeped in His blood – dripping from his body and running down the wooden, Roman cross of His humiliation and disgrace.  Humiliation and disgrace undeserved by him and meant for me. I was washed white as snow in that righteous, crimson flow!

Oh glory!  Praise God on high!  That gift, surpassing all other gifts,  was one of eternal life and fellowship with Almighty God that completely restored me through God’s grace.  Grace that was bought and paid for by Jesus Christ about 33 years after that first and miraculous Christmas when Christ was born.

“…When I became a man, I put aside childish things.”

–1st Cor. 13:11

The angels who visited the shepherds in the fields outside Bethlehem as mentioned in Luke 2:8-14 (HCSB) below:

8  In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock.
9  Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
10  But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people:
11  Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David.
12  This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.”
13  Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:
14  Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people He favors!

Notice what the angels said in verse 14.  The people that God favors on earth will have peace.  Peace?  What kind of peace?  Would those favored by God have peace with one another?  Would countries that God favored have peace with one another?

Would all wars end?

What did the angels mean by that word peace?

Let’s look at Romans 5:8-10 (HCSB):

 
8  But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!
9  Much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by His blood, we will be saved through Him from wrath.
10  For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, ⌊then how⌋ much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life!

Check out what Paul is saying to the Romans in verse 10.  Notice the two words, enemies and reconciled?  Paul is saying here that before we accepted Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, we were enemies of God.

He goes on to say that we were reconciled.  What does he mean by reconciled?  Reconciled to God.  Enemies of God now at peace with God.

How?

We were changed from being enemies of God to being reconciled to God through the death of Jesus!  We are saved by His life!

How are we saved by His life?  By believing in Him and confessing all our sin, we repent (turning away) from that sin – put aside our will (self) – let Him live through us by the power of the Holy Spirit and follow Him!

Wow!  I remember that first Christmas after hearing the gospel and being convicted by the Holy Spirit that I could not save myself and that I was going to hell without Jesus!

What a wonderful blessing Jesus is!  What a wonderful present!

Paul also says in 1 Corinthians 13:11 (HCSB):

 
11  When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put aside childish things.

When I was a child and experiencing those wonderful 50’s Christmas gifts, I had no idea of what awaited me in Christ.  Everlasting life with Him.  Without Him, I would have had everlasting death…separated from Him forever in hell.  I have long sense put down the sword of Sir Lancelot and picked up the sword of the Holy Spirit!

Now I am no longer an enemy (out of fellowship) of God but a friend of God, a child of God and rightful heir with Christ!

Are you still an enemy of God?  You are if you don’t have a personal relationship with His son, Jesus Christ!

Give your life to Jesus.  Let His will be done in your life rather than your sinful will.  Only He has the answers.   Only He has eternal life for you.

Carpe diem!  Seize the day!  The Bible, the word of God says in 2 Corinthians 6:2 (HCSB):

 
2  For He says: I heard you in an acceptable time, and I helped you in the day of salvation. Look, now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation.

God bless you, everyone!

Until next time,

Zach

QUESTION: Where are you in your relationship with Jesus Christ?

Please comment and share this post.  Help me keep this redemption message alive and before the world this Christmas season!

The Power of Perseverance

October 21, 2013

Here is another great guest post by Dr. Ed Hird:

Winston Churchill is famous for his advice during the Battle of Britain: “Never, ever, ever give up. Never give up. Never give up.”  It is so easy to let setbacks set us back, to let disappointments discourage us.  We can lose our first love, our original passion, our vision and focus.

Perseverance is the key to breakthrough in our lives, our marriages, our families and our work.  Without perseverance, we don’t finish well, we don’t fight the good fight, we don’t keep the faith.  The Good Shepherd once told a story in Luke 18:1-8 about a widow who was being exploited by a corrupt judge.  Widows have historically been some of the most powerless people, lacking protection and financial resources.  In some countries around the world, widows were even burned alive (Sati) on their husband’s funeral pyre.   This widow had no bribe to pay off the judge, so instead she wore him out with her pleading.

The Good Shepherd Jesus commended this persevering widow, and encouraged us to be preserving, especially in our prayer lives, never giving up.  Why are many people tempted to give up in their prayer lives? Sometimes the answers to our prayers often seem to take too long. Sometimes God says slow, or grow, or even no.   When there is great grief in our lives, our prayer lives can take a hit.  Our experience of tragedy can embitter us, and rob us of hope.  Jesus commended the persevering widow as a model for all of us.  God wants us to persevere.

Andrew Murray, a famous 19th Century South African write, once said “Of all the mysteries of the prayer world, the need for persevering prayer is one of the greatest.”  A Facebook friend of mine, Matthew Lee Smith, sent me this note: “This Sunday, preach like Jesus is coming Monday! I am praying for you right now my friend!”  I am so encouraged when I know that people are praying for me. People can gossip about you, or they can pray for you.  It is a radical choice.  It is so easy to get discouraged and cut back in our praying for certain people. We may not even want to think about them, let alone pray for them.  It’s too painful.  God wants us to persevere.

Jesus was a man of prayer. The closer Jesus came to the cross, the more he prayed. Jesus prayed like no one else did.  He ever got a prayer named after him: The Lord’s Prayer.   This is a challenging time to be a Christian, to attend Church, to be a worshiper. Without prayer, we will get taken out, distracted, knocked off course.  If you are discouraged, pray. If you have lost heart, pray. If you don’t know the way forward, pray.  Prayer is the way forward. God always makes a way when it seems that there is no way forward.

God loves to keep his promises.  He loves to answer prayer.  Prayer is about leaning on the everlasting arms.  It is about trusting that He’s got the whole world in his hands, his faithfulness is great, and all that I have needed his hand has provided.  Prayer is about practicing God’s presence.  Jesus will never leave us or forsake us. He loves us with an everlasting love.  My prayer for those reading this article is that we will learn from the persevering widow to never give up, to always persist, and to always keep on praying.

(Please give your comments below to this article – Zach)

The Torment of Jesus Garcia

October 21, 2013

Hello and welcome back!

 I have some thoughts to give you today that sprung from my off-the-wall thinking processes this week.  I have a tendency to dwell on things and sometimes entirely lucid concepts arise from these weekly mental meanderings.

Last post, I talked about how individual and subjective thoughts can shape our understanding of our abilities.

The objective word of God not only informs us who we actually are in Him but grants us the ability to understand the importance of the Holy Spirit and our obedience to Jesus’ commands to the church.

 And yes, that was presented by comparing two different sized dogs and their perception of their abilities based on what they both considered the reality.

This post, I want to talk about Jesus.  That’s right…Jesus.

Not Jesus Christ, my personal Lord and Savior.  Jesus Garcia who was the custodian of my first junior high experience.

Jesus Garcia was said to be an excellent custodian, dependable, loyal, honest as the day is long, and one who always did more than expected of him by the school system.

 But that isn’t the topic of Jesus’ life I wish to tell you about.  That’s not the topic at all.

 The Girl Froze – Jesus didn’t.

Jesus Garcia, alias “Ol’ Gar” to us 7th graders, was a man of great patience and kindness.  There wasn’t one day that passed that school year that “”Ol’ Gar” didn’t speak to me first and never forgot to ask how my family and I were doing. He was hard to understand sometimes but he had a good heart.

The sad part is, most of the kids at the school made fun of Jesus.  They would wait until he had passed by and make fun of the limp he had.  Either that or they would make fun of his unique voice character when he wasn’t around.

Jesus also had a hearing problem that was unusual in a man in his early 40’s and some of the kids began to ask him questions just to get him to say, “What you said dere?”

 It became a standing comment to make when you didn’t hear or understand what someone said to you at school, “What you said dere? Dent ketch it!”

Everyone knew that Jesus knew what was going on but that didn’t slow them down any.  Most kids said, Ol’ Gar don’t deserve any respect.”  They said that because they felt he was a retard and just good for cleaning the school and being the target of their jokes.  They said he was called “Ol Gar” because he smelled like one.

Around the last few weeks before school let out for summer, there was this incident that changed a lot of people’s attitude towards “Ol’ Gar.”

It was a Friday after lunch when most of the kids were on the school campus.  Groups of kids were standing around, some in circles talking while others just milled around from group to group.

A few minutes before the bell rang announcing the start of the second half of the day, Jesus walked out of the door between the gym and the cafeteria with a large bag of garbage and headed out to the street where the dumpsters sat.

An eighth-grade girl was crossing the street in the middle of the block when a motorcycle careened around the corner bearing down on her.  Ol’ Gar saw that bike heading toward her about the same time she did.

The girl froze.  Jesus didn’t.

Several groups of us kids saw what was taking place.  Jesus pushed that girl just as the bike slammed into his side.  Kids screamed.  Jesus went down as that bike carried him along with it – right into a tree between the street and sidewalk.

 A few of us ran over to where he lay.  The biker was up and standing over him as we came up alongside of them.  Ol’ Gar looked up, saw me, and asked about the girl he had just protected.  I told him she was unhurt.  He nodded.

The ambulance finally arrived after what seemed forever but was actually only about ten minutes.  I heard one of the medics say, “He isn’t going to make it, losing too much blood.

Turns out that the force of the accident had ruptured an artery in his stomach and that was where all the blood had come from.

 Mr. Jesus Garcia, alias “Ol’ Gar” had given his life to save one of us.  No one said so but it was obvious that attitudes had changed towards Jesus.

School turned out for the funeral.  That was when all the kids who attended had the opportunity to meet Jesus’ family consisting of his mother, his wife, and his two, young daughters.

Jesus became real to that group of kids that day.  There was a plaque put up in the hallway, a special assembly was held, the girl whose life he had saved read a poem she had written to him.  Most of the kids were silent -reflective.

 I don’t know who suggested it but I think it was the girl he had saved.  We all took up a collection school-wide.  Turned out to be almost $500.  I don’t remember the exact figure but that doesn’t matter.

What I do remember is the life lesson that was learned by everyone that day.  I remember the remorse I saw on many faces because of how they had treated Jesus Garcia when he was alive and among us.

 I also remember the look of shock on those same faces when they discovered at the funeral why Jesus limped.  The shock of why his voice sounded like it did.  He had been wounded severely during the Korean conflict but had carried 5 of his fellow soldiers to safety under enemy fire.  He had been hit twice by enemy fire as he rescued them.

Lives were changed that day.  Lives were changed for the better. One was saved from certain injury or death.  Others were changed from lives of judgmental egoism.  All because of the Christian salt and light that had shown from the life of one man.

He was a simple man.

 He was a follower of Jesus.

His life meant something.

May we all have the opportunity for our lives to count.  More than that, may we all value the lives of others and never judge them on appearances.

The Bible tells us at Matthew 7:1-2:  “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”

Let’s all remember that another Jesus, the living Son of God, told us to love one another as He loves the church.  Jesus Garcia did.

Until next time,

Zach

 QUESTION:  Have you ever looked down on another only to regret it later?

Hello and welcome back!

It’s good to see you and I have been praying for you since your last visit to the blog.

Yes, it’s true.  I pray for all of my readers each day.  I pray for your health and economic condition in these troubled days.  I pray for your loved ones, both saved and unsaved.

For the saved, I pray for God’s leading on their lives to be fulfilled.

For the unsaved, I pray for the Holy Spirit to lead them to the words of the gospel.  l pray for them to believe and find a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Today, I was just sittin’ out on my front porch – watching the changing leaves rub dryly against one another in a gentle breeze.  As I was watching (and listening) to the melodic sounds of fall coming down, I noticed this large dog.   I didn’t recognize it as belonging around here but I watched it come up over the rise across the street.

He stopped on the sidewalk for a moment and then crossed the street on a diagonal to my front porch just to the right of where I was sitting.  A small dog, a little male, that belongs to a neighbor was secured to a small tree outside of his residence.  He noticed the larger dog as it came closer to him.

What happened next was the catalyst for this article you are now reading.

That little dog began to make sounds I had no idea that he was capable of.  He began leap and lunge toward the monster dog, who was no more than 6 feet in front of him as if to say, “Come one step closer and it will be your last!”

Well, that big ol’ dog backed up one step, two steps – then turned and ran, making such a sissy sound that I could not help but laugh out loud.

I sat there, taking another sip from my cup of coffee, and sighed.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding…” 

Sometimes, size doesn’t seem to matter.  That large dog had a perception in his head that things were about to go bad for him in a hurry if he didn’t retreat as fast as doggily possible.  Which he did.  The small dog had a perception that, regardless of the big dog’s size status, he could take him and do very bad things to him in the process.

In reality, both dogs were very, very wrong.  The objective truth is the monster-sized dog could have eaten the little one and still have required more food.

In reality, the small dog – regardless of his confidence in his belief that he could defeat that large dog — was misplaced.

Problem:  Neither one of the dogs had a clue of that fact.

Outcome:  The large monster dog was unnecessarily defeated and the small dog won a battle that he didn’t deserve based on the objective facts.

Application:  Do not always believe in what you see. Rely on God.

Let’s take a look at this scenario from a Christian worldview.  Christians have received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (power from on high) at the time of their salvation.

The great significance of this scenario can be seen in 1 John4:4, “You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is from the world, and the world listens to them.”

Remember that large but cowardly dog?  The one that ran from the little one?  Let the large monster dog represent the Christian – filled to the brim with the Holy Spirit.  Allow the small dog to represent this evil, secular world.

Is my analogy becoming quite clear?

IF we are following Jesus and obeying His commands, the Holy Spirit is active within us and God’s power will protect us from any true harm from the evil one, if we trust and obey.  We obey even if we have to face death head on – we will be victorious by the blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ!

If we truly believe, trust, and obey Jesus, then we stand on the Biblical promise of 2 Cor. 5:8, “We are confident, I say, and prefer to be absent from the body and at home with the Lord.”

Takaway:  Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways and He will guide you on the right paths.

Thank you for stopping by.  I will be praying for you!

Until next time,

Zach

QUESTION:  When have you relied on the Holy Spirit and seen the hand of God in your life prevail?

 

Hello and welcome back!

I’m excited today!  I want to share that excitement with YOU!  Share what, you ask? I was reading in 2 Kings this morning and I had just turned to 2 Kings 6 and began reading about the floating axe head.

If you are not familiar with this passage of Scripture, please read it HERE.

If you remember, Elisha took on Elijah’s position after he had been taken up to heaven in a chariot.  Elisha was then blessed with a double portion of the Holy Spirit.

In 2 Kings 6, Elisha was busily training new profits in prophet school when one of his students mentioned the fact that the quarters they were training and living in was just too crowded.

The student suggested the he and the rest of the prophets-in-training go to the river and each cut a beam from which a new dwelling place could be constructed for them to live and train.

Elisha said, “Sounds like a plan, go to it!”

We all know what happens next.  One student’s iron axe head flies off the handle and lands in the river.  It rapidly sinks to the bottom as iron has a tendency to do when it falls into water.

“Do you self-inspect your spiritual walk with Christ regularly?”

What happens next is what God gave to me this morning to give to you and to use to prepare my Wednesday night sermon!

What do we do when we lose our cutting edge in serving Jesus?

 Let’s look at three things in 2 Kings 6:1-6 for a solution:

  • The young prophet student lost his ax head making him unable to complete God’s work.  Have you ever lost something that made you unable to carry on with your normal routine?  I have.  I once lost my car keys.  It took me over 3 hours to get another one made and get on with my routine.  I also once lost my wallet.  Not only did I lose the money and credit cards, I had to take the time to cancel the cards and send off for another SS card, driver’s license, etc.  I also had to borrow $20 from a close friend until I could get to the bank for more cash. When we lose our cutting edge for carrying out our obligations to God’s kingdom, we become worthless in pursuing God’s work.
  • We must identify the exact spot where we lost our cutting edge.  Pray in Jesus’ name for help in remembering when you first list the cutting edge and what was happening.  Elisha asked the young student, “Where did it fall?”  The best way to find something is to remember where you last had it.  Did I begin to lose my cutting edge when I quit attending Sunday School?  Did I lose it when I started missing church?  Maybe I lost it when I thought I didn’t have time to read my Bible daily?  Could it be I have allowed sin to dilute my relationship with God?  Have I become complacent in my Christian walk?
  • When we pray and God points out where we lost our cutting edge, we must do our part to retrieve it!  Elisha raised the iron axe head through the Holy Spirit, but he didn’t put it back on the handle.  He told the young student to reach out and get it.  We must do the same when the Holy Spirit answers our prayer and points out where it was that we lost our cutting edge.  God wants you, like the young prophet student, to do your part in recovering your cutting edge for kingdom work!

What if the young student had regularly checked the security of his axe head to the handle?

Do you self-inspect your spiritual walk with Christ regularly?

We are told to do a self-examination to discover our spiritual “fitness” when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper.  Why not do it at the end of each day?  If we discover our axe head getting loose, we can tighten it before it falls off and we will not have gaps in our obedience to Christ.

Summary:

  • Admit you have lost your cutting edge.
  • Pray for guidance to discover the exact place you lost it (and what was happening at the time.
  • When God raises it up, reach out and put your cutting edge (axe head) back on the handle and serve Christ!

Until next time!

Zach

 QUESTION:  PLEASE SHARE A TIME WHEN YOU LOST YOUR CUTTING EDGE AND HOW YOU FOUND IT AGAIN.

Hello!

Welcome back!

It’s great to see you again.  Today, I have a treat for you. Rev. Dr. Ed Hird (pictured above) is the author of the award-winning book, “Battle for the Soul of Canada.” Dr. Hird is Rector of St. Simon’s Church in North Vancouver, Canada.  Ed has graciously offered a guest post that was first published for the September 2013 Deep Cove Crier.  I feel that this article will be most beneficial for you, the reader of ZachMalott.com.  Please take the time to check out his blog article that identifies the heart of the practice of Yoga.

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

When the weather is warm and sunny, I love to swim outdoors.   As a teenager, I was involved three days a week with the YMCA Flying Sharks, a junior life-saving team.  My late uncle Don Allen was a career Navy deep sea diver, sometimes finding lost Caribbean treasure.  When I first tried learning to swim at the UBC outdoor pool, it was so cold that I felt frozen stiff.  It was only when I went to the warm Okanagan Lake that my swimming breakthrough came.  I know that summer is coming to a close when outdoor swimming comes to an end.

During the summer, most gyms and weight rooms are missing many regular participants.  September is the ‘Back to the Gym’ time,  ‘Back to School’ time, ‘Back to Church’ time.  September is the time when our life rhythms reconnect.  We all need times away, times of refreshing, time of letting go.  We also need times of reconnecting, of gathering, of pressing in.  Sometimes in the summer, we can relax and feast too much.  Back to the Gym helps us refocus, restart and recalibrate our lives.

My wife Janice encouraged me to start going to the gym fourteen years ago after I was a passenger in a rear-end car accident.  I naively thought that I would become physically fit and healthy almost overnight.  Instead restoring my health has been a gradual process.  When I have striven and pushed too hard, the result has been injury and setback.  God has been teaching me that I need to be more patient with myself and my weight room renewal.  There is no quick fix.  My exercise plans often suffer from good intentions.  So many weight room friends start with the best intentions, but give in to frustration and disappointment.  It takes too long to become healthy! Before you know it, they disappear and slip back into their old patterns of inactivity.

My encouragement this fall for those reading this article is to not give up when you go back to the gym.  Your health is worth it.  Your life is worth it.  You are worth it.  By your regularly working out, you will see gradual benefits that initially elude you.  Anything worth doing is worth fighting for.  Your health matters, not only to yourself, but to your spouse, your children, and your friends.  When you invest in your health, you open doors to your future.  When you invest in your health, your knees will thank you, your back will thank you, your neck will thank you.  Excessive sitting is one of the greatest curses of our post-modern culture.  What will it take this fall to get back to the gym? What is holding us back in doing the right thing? Why are we often our own worst enemies when it comes to our health?  Overeating, oversitting, and overdrinking are too often eating us alive.

For the past nine years, our congregation St. Simon’s NV has been meeting at the Maplewood School Gym each Sunday.  Worshipping in a gym has reminded me that being healthy is meant to be holistic.  God wants us to be healthy in body, mind and spirit.  He wants us to be physically fit, emotionally fit and spiritually fit.  Worship is meant to be a stretching experience where we encounter God with our whole person, all our heart, soul, mind and strength.  Why am I passionate about both worship and calisthenics?  Because both are about being healthy, both are about making a difference, both are about investing in one’s future.  This fall I invite you to go back to the gym, for physical, emotional and spiritual renewal.  Make an investment that will pay lasting dividends.  Your body, mind and spirit will thank you.