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So far Dan has created 5 blog entries.

The Power of Jesus | Ephesians 1:19-23

  “…oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength!

 All this energy issues from Christ: God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything.” Ephesians 1:19-22a  (The Message)

We sat on the grass watching the sun slowly set over the mountains. The sky had those brilliant outlines of orange against the clouds. The sun’s brightness radiated… a big glowing ball as it settled behind the horizon. It’s nice to have a front row seat to these Colorado evening spectacles. As we walked home, we chatted with neighbors who were taking in the same sight.

When we got home, I grabbed a book to update myself on some of our sun’s amazingly powerful characteristics. So here’s what I read first – “Our sun is rated a star of only the fifth magnitude. It shines with a mild, yellow light and is 100,000 times less luminous than its brightest neighbor.” WHAT?! Are you talking about the same sun that’s burning up patches of my lawn?

But I kept on reading and soon was swimming in a sea of big facts. Our sun is 864,000 miles in diameter. It consists of some 335 quadrillion cubic miles of violent hot gases. It weighs more than 2 octillion tons. (How do you write out an octillion!?) And while we orbit around the sun once a year, the sun orbits around the center of our galaxy (the Milky Way) once every 200 million years! (Who’s counting this stuff!?)

Here’s another quick fact. The Milky Way contains 100 billion orbiting stars, just like our sun. That’s hard to wrap my mind around. One last mind boggler – Edwin Hubble, the astronomer, calculates that there are as many galaxies outside the Milky Way as there are stars in it.

Take another look at today’s verses. Just think and ponder… our savior, Jesus, was raised from the dead with and by a power that’s greater than all this. He rules with that power over all things – from “galaxies to governments”. And guess what… He lives within us, going with us wherever we may go. That very same power is available to help us daily in whatever we face.

Next time you feel overwhelmed, take some time out to view a sunset… and keep Ephesians 1 nearby just in case you need to get perspective.

By Dan Elliott

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The Power of Jesus | Ephesians 1:19-232021-09-02T14:24:23-06:00

Oh, To Be a Kid Again! | Luke 18:15-17; 19:4

People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:15-17

So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. Luke 19:4

A few weeks ago, we had a church picnic on one of the hottest days of the year. Most of us adults sat under the little puddles of shade available… but not the kids. They were having a ball running in the grass, playing on the playground, climbing the trees. I went up to one boy high up in a tree and asked if he wanted some help down. He said, “Naw. I’m good.”… and then he jumped. I mean this was a big jump! I held my breath ‘cause it looked like he jumped down about three times his height. He was fine like it was no big deal and he went running off. Oh, to be a kid again!

Zacchaeus did the same kid-like thing – he climbed up a tree but he did it to get a better view of Jesus. His curiosity about this visiting rabbi made him get up the nerve to go in that sycamore tree – robes, turbans, whatever, and all.

Not exactly what a dignified, wealthy businessman would be caught doing. Maybe that’s too bad for us – are we too dignified (or prideful) to do something child-like… when needed?

Luke 19:3 says , “he (Zacchaeus) wanted to see Jesus”. You can stretch that word “wanted” to “desired”. You can even get the sense that his insides were “demanding” to see Jesus. So much so that he’d even climb a tree to satisfy his demanding curiosity.

Jesus said in the chapter just before this “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Luke 18:17) Now, don’t think you’ve got to go out and climb a tree to add to your “come to Jesus moments”, but I do wonder if we’ve ever been able to set aside our pride long enough to simply do some undignified trusting… maybe some topsy-turvey believing… maybe being playfully willing to go out on a limb with Him. Remember that love you had for Him at first?

Oh, to be a kid again!

By Dan Elliott

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Oh, To Be a Kid Again! | Luke 18:15-17; 19:42021-07-01T13:59:18-06:00

How Free are We? | Genesis 2:15-17

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die. Genesis 2:15-17

Adam and Eve had it made in the Garden! They had freedom… real freedom.

Some people have a hard time with that statement. They say “no they didn’t – their freedom was limited because they couldn’t eat from every tree.” But take another look at what God said about their menu options. They could “surely eat of every tree of the garden” (Ge 2:16). That’s not limited. They were free to eat the produce from any and every tree including the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The catch was if they ate from that one tree, they’d die. That’s not limiting their freedom, that’s warning them to watch out how they exercise their freedom. That’s love in the midst of freedom.

God gave Adam and Eve the freedom to choose – to either choose to trust God and His word to them or choose to trust their own inclinations and desires. They chose the latter and we’ve been living in that wrestling ever since.

I was driving home from the office the other day, wrestling with this idea of freedom. It dawned on me that I had the freedom to be driving. In fact, I had the freedom to drive any way I darn well pleased. I had the freedom to push that accelerator to the floor and speed past everyone. I had the freedom to bounce over the curb and race across people’s lawns if someone got in my way. But the consequences wouldn’t be pleasant – not just for me but for a lot of other people. That’s why there are laws for how we drive. That’s not limiting my freedom to drive. That’s providing wise guidelines for me to safely exercise my ability to drive. What a mess of a traffic jam we’d be in if we all drove how our self-centered desires led us to drive.

Well… sometimes our world seems to be “a mess of a traffic jam”. God’s patience with us is amazing. He still gives us the freedom to choose – His way of love or our way of loving ourselves. “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” 1 Pt 2:16 You have the freedom to choose today.

By Dan Elliott

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How Free are We? | Genesis 2:15-172019-07-22T16:35:14-06:00

Celebrating Freedom – It’s Offered to Everyone! | Luke 2:8-18

Read Luke 2:8-18.

Ahhh…Christmas is finally here! I remember when I was a kid staring at our nativity set perched on top of our TV.  It was a cardboard one – with very English-looking people in it. Baby Jesus was lily white. One of the shepherds was wearing an old English-style hat and one of his legs was missing (a mishap caused by either my brother or me). That didn’t stop me from being mesmerized by this nativity set. I would go from one character to the next, imagining what they experienced at that stable.

I was a toe-headed, blue-eyed kid.  I grew up thinking Jesus was too. And you know what? That’s OK.  It reminds me of a carol I love. Take a moment to listen and reflect on Some Children See Him, by James Taylor. The video can be found at the bottom.

Now, go back to that shepherd scene. The shepherds are in a field, guarding their flocks, getting ready for another typical night. But it’s anything but typical. An angel…a blinding radiance…a heavenly choir. In the middle of all this, it’s the message that catches my imagination: “I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! (Luke 2:10  NLT)

Have you ever tried to think what kind of news would be good and full of joy for everyone? I might rejoice that a war is over – but what if I’m on the losing side? Think about it. The only kind of news I can come up with that is “good news… for everyone” is this one – “The Savior – yes the Messiah, the Lord – has been born tonight!”  (Luke 2:11 NLT)  The good news of Jesus doesn’t depend on nationality, race, age, gender, societal or vocational status, physical abilities or shortcomings. This is good news for everyone and it’s filled with joy!

REFLECT AND RESPOND

Imagine yourself stepping into a nativity scene.  Let each character’s faith fill and stretch your own. Read today’s scripture verses again. It’s Christmas!  Jesus has come!

By Dan Elliott 

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Celebrating Freedom – It’s Offered to Everyone! | Luke 2:8-182019-07-22T16:35:30-06:00

Wisdom and the Bones | Proverbs 3:5-8

[vc_row height=”small” el_class=”dailyBody” css=”.vc_custom_1465516518912{margin-top: -25px !important;}”][vc_column width=”1/4″][us_separator height=”10px” size=”custom”][us_image image=”31717″ size=”tnail-1×1″][us_separator height=”20px” size=”custom”][us_sharing providers=”email,facebook,twitter,gplus”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_column_text 0=””]Imagine it’s 1941.  Germany has been bombing England in what became known as “The Blitz” – leaving the English people shaken.  If you walk through London’s neighborhoods you’ll find thousands of homes left as piles of rubble.  Next to them are homes still standing.  The folks living in those whole homes have no idea when a bomb might hit them next.  They have no idea when the wail of a warning siren will interrupt their day, telling them a wave of bombers is on its way.

Those were grave and uncertain times for the people of England, and it took its toll on their emotional and physical stamina.  France had fallen.  England seemed to be the last resistance to Hitler’s intentions.  No one knew when the next bombs would fall, if they would fall in their neighborhood, or worse, if the German armies would invade their island.  They had no guarantees for the future.

That’s history.  Thankfully, we know how it ended – but, imagine it’s 1941 and you’re sitting with some friends in a London flat waiting for any words of encouragement.  It’s a surprising fact to us today, but the vast majority of Englanders would be huddled around their radios trying to tune in the BBC to listen to a young academic.  His weekly talks were only 15 minutes long but they gave hope and inspired a nation to keep on living.  His talks weren’t mindless propaganda or cheer-leading patriotism.  They were religious talks.  The series of talks had the title: “Right and Wrong: A Clue to the Meaning of the Universe.”

Doesn’t sound like the stuff of hopeful encouragement, does it.  But, history shows that hundreds of thousands of British citizens listed the wise words from these 15 minute talks as the reason for their hope to continue in those long months.  Records even show that thousands of English turned to Jesus as a result of that BBC program.  The words of Proverbs 3:5-8 ring true:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; don’t depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom.
Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.” (NLT)

Oh, by the way, the young academic was C.S. Lewis.  His 15 minute talks were so popular that he ended up giving four series of them –  25 talks in all.  There’s one of those 15 talks that has survived – his final one – entitled “Beyond Personality – the New Men”.  Click here if you’d like to listen to it: C.S. Lewis Talk … and imagine it’s 1941.[/vc_column_text][us_separator height=”25px” size=”custom”][vc_column_text 0=””]

By Dan Elliot  

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Wisdom and the Bones | Proverbs 3:5-82017-07-13T05:00:05-06:00

Look Around

1027393-davidToday’s reading in “Seek God for the City” is three verses taken from Psalm 65. But you ought to go back and read the whole psalm. The theme of joy is found throughout it. David is singing a song! It’s a song he sings as he observes his world – as looks near, as he looks far, and as he looks around.

First he looks right inside himself. “Though we are overwhelmed by our sins, you forgive them all.” (vs 3) That’s a good place for each of us to start – in grateful recognition of what God has made clean. Far from being a depressing downer, it’s good for us to look at the details of our living. It’s even better for us to realize God’s mercy in every one of those details. “What joy for those you choose to bring near.” (vs 4)

Then he takes a wide-ranging look – at those large things, awesome things, intimidating things like massive mountains, raging oceans, and noisy warring nations. And how does he start? “You are the hope of everyone on earth!” We need to remind ourselves that regardless of how overwhelming our world – God is greater. His presence is everywhere. We are not alone. Neither are we the only ones who worship God and are loved by him. “For where the sun rises to where it sets, you inspire shouts of joy!” (vs 8)

Finally, David seems to have trained his eyes not to miss what’s right around him, under his feet. “You take care of the earth and water it, making it rich and fertile.” (vs 9) He sings about bountiful harvests, softening showers, lush pastures, and blossoming hillsides. He notices God’s creativity all around him. What a great example for us. When did you last take some time simply to look around you – to think about the miracle of flight in that bird – to smell the freshness after rain – the delicate complexity of a flower – colors, so many colors. Once you start, it’ll be a habit that’ll transform your praise and your prayers.
“The meadows are clothed with flocks of sheep, and the valleys are
carpeted with grain. They all shout and sing for joy!” (vs 13)

Look Around2014-04-08T00:00:00-06:00

Rest

This past week has been one of those forced times of rest for me. (That probably sounds terrific to many of you!) It’s not always easy to stop, slow down, and heal. Here’s a short little prayer that was packed with meaning for me. Maybe it’ll speak to you, too. (It’s written by a former pastor and chaplain of the US Senate – Peter Marshall.)

Teach us, O Lord, the disciplines of patience, for we find that
to wait is often harder than to work.
When we wait upon You we shall not be ashamed, but shall
renew our strength.
May we be willing to stop our feverish activities and listen to
what You have to say, that our prayers shall not be the sending
of night letters, but conversations with You.
This we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen

BTW – today’s reading in “Seek God for the City” encourages us to pray for the military. While you’re doing that, remember to pray for one of the men who sits among us every Sunday – Dell McDonald. Dell has been ministering to military personnel around the world for most of his life….and he keeps on doing it! His energy amazes me. Pray for Dell and the ministry of ACCTS as they “build leaders and Christian fellowships worldwide”.
-Dan

Rest2014-04-01T00:00:00-06:00

Prayer Pointer #2

Prayer

Jesus replied, “My light will shine for you just a little longer. Walk in the light while you can, so the darkness will not overtake you….”
John 12:35a (NLT)

I remember asking a friend for some insights into how he prayed. His name was Bob. I was always impressed with the genuineness of his prayers… and his life. He gave me a simple answer – “I like to pray through Jesus’ life.” My first thought was that that would take quite a while so I asked him how in the world he did it.

“I take different aspects of Jesus’ life and walk with him through it.” Then he explained how he might pray through the “I Ams” that Jesus taught. Or he’d pray through the events of Jesus last week. Sometimes he’d pray through the 7 last statements Jesus said on the cross. Then he showed me how he did it. We took the miracles of Jesus and prayed through them together. He asked the Spirit to open our eyes and understanding – to give us insight as we prayed. I’ll always remember that afternoon with Bob. As we prayed through Jesus’ miracles – one after another -our minds would think of folks who needed healing, or nourishment, or freedom, or you name it. I still follow that advice.

I’m reminded of Bob’s advice as I read today’s challenge in our 40 Day Prayer Journey. We’re to pray for God’s light to shine in the dark places in Denver and the world. I’d encourage you to start by focusing your attention on Jesus’ light – to draw nearer to him.

There’s a simple law when studying the subject of light – the farther you are from a light source, the dimmer the light. Maybe that’s what Bob was helping me with that day.

Prayer Pointer #22014-03-18T00:00:00-06:00

Place Of Peace

edb27824-e805-41ae-a324-30444e5571faI was with some of the guys the other day. We flitted from one subject to another. One of those “flits” was about this prayer journey we’re on and how it wasn’t the easiest thing for us to follow.

I had to ask myself why I seem to be at ease praying in front of (or with) other folks. …But when I’m by myself, my mind floats all over the place. It’s like I’m “trying hard” to pray. I didn’t have to “try hard” to talk with the guys. I didn’t even have to “try hard” to pray with the guys

Different folks through the years have shared pointers with me about praying. Some have been great. Others….well, let’s just say they feel like “trying harder”.

Through this 40 day journey, I want to share a few of those suggestions that have helped me. I’ll try to share one a week. Feel free to take ‘em or leave ‘em.

Today’s is a suggestion that I never would have seen if I hadn’t been married to a Second Grade Teacher. In Kerry’s 2nd Grade classroom, there’s a little corner in the back of the room between the filing cabinet and the wall. She’s calls it the POP. (No – it has nothing to do with computers and where they store emails!) In Kerry’s room, the “POP” stands for the “Place of Peace”. When you go back there and sit, you find yourself face to face with one of the best pictures of Jesus that I’ve seen. I don’t know where Kerry found it. It’s just one of those warm, inviting, rugged, smiling pictures of Jesus that draws you to him. You kinda want to sit there and look… think about him… even talk with him.

And that’s just what those 2nd graders do. Granted, sometimes Kerry has to tell a kid to go spend some time in the POP. But, I love the stories about kids who actually ask permission if they can go back there. Kerry will often slip back just to hear some of the kids discussing their situations with Jesus. Sometimes, Kerry’s the one who informs the class she’s going to the POP. I love listening to Kerry’s stories of how kids return from the POP and how they process what happened there.

I think a “POP” is a helpful thing to consider – something that reminds you that you’re not alone in this prayer thing. In fact, prayer is anything but alone. That’s the bottom line. You’re talking with someone – even if you can’t see him. He’s there with you – and it just might help to picture him as “warm, inviting, rugged, and smiling”. As you picture him, hold on to the fact that he understands what you’re going through because he faced the same challenges… and he loves you… and he’s going to help. (Hebrews 4:14-16)

One last thing – when I first saw Kerry’s POP I thought back to my own 2nd grade experiences of “sitting in the corner”. Isn’t it nice to realize that God was there in those “corner” moments of our lives? Even if I missed it back then, I know he was always there to listen and help. He’s still there… offering to transform those “corners” into “POP”s.

Place Of Peace2014-03-11T00:00:00-06:00

Snakes…Ugh!

100528_snake_on_a_stick

“And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.”  John 3:14-15

I was flipping through the channels a couple nights ago and stopped at the “animal planet” channel for some reason.  There was a scary story about a gal who had a poisonous snake for a pet.  Long and short was that she got bit feeding the thing and the rest of the story was a race to save her life.  (I never did hang on to the end so I don’t know if she survived.)  The picture that keeps playing in my mind (besides the snake looking into the camera!) was a cellular look at her blood stream with this poisonous venom spreading and racing through all the cells.  Ugh!

Other than confirming my suspicions about pet snakes (or reptiles for that matter) that story came back to me as I was reading John 3 this morning.  To think of so many Israelites with that same picture of venom cells racing through their blood stream resulting in death!  (You can read the whole story in Numbers 21:4-9.)  It’s a tough picture to swallow except that God provides a way out.  He tells Moses to hang a replica of one of those nasty snakes on a post and people who have enough to faith to just take a peek at it will be healed.

Well, Jesus is the perfect remedy put on a post for me (and you)…and that’s a tough picture to swallow as well.  Sin was killing me – just like those venom cells.  It races through us and attacks the real living that God designed for us.  God’s remedy is to give himself – in the Son.  He allows himself not just to be a replica hung on a post – but to actually be my sin up there.  Can I trust him that he’s carried every bit of my sin to the cross?  Faith to look at Jesus is a stretch – it seems too easy.

1 Corinthians 1:23 says “So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense.” (NLT)  (I wonder how many Israelites thought it was nonsense to take a look at the snake Moses hung up…and believed it was nonsense right to their grave?)

“…so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.”

 

 

Snakes…Ugh!2014-01-15T00:00:00-07:00
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