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water

17: A Colorful Covenant

 

They’re BACK! After more than a year since the earth was covered with water, the BNN crew reports on the end of the flood, as the ark lands on dry land. But has Brad Bartelloni survived?

Life with Lively: Confessions of a ROCK

 

I have something in common with Tad Schultz… I can’t swim. I wish I could swim; I’ve had lessons, but the moment the water hits me in the face, I panic. It sucks. I love splashing around in the pool during the hot 100 degree summer days, but there is something about the water in my face that just ends all the fun.

A couple of years ago, my wife (Lela) and the kids talked me into taking them to a local lake for the day. I dreaded the entire drive down there. We got to the swimming area, the wife and kids went straight to the water, and I sat on a towel and watched. It looked like fun. They were enjoying themselves and I was stuck in the hot sand.
“It wouldn’t hurt to just get my feet wet would it?” So I sat down at the water’s edge. It felt good, so I waded out a little further. Now I’m waist deep and throwing the football with the boys. The girls are lounging in their float rafts, Lela is swimming around, and we are having a good time. I waded out a little farther. Now I was pushing it. Courtney had called me over and I walked over to her. She was laying on a float raft, and I was standing beside her talking, the water level was striking me right at my neck.
Then it happened. The ground I was standing on disappeared from underneath me. I slipped in a hole and now, this 6 foot tall oaf, was standing in 7 foot deep water. I jumped up breaking the water’s surface and gasped for air. I realized Courtney’s raft was close enough for me to grab, but if I grabbed it chances are I’d tip her over and bring her under with me, making the situation worse. I hit the bottom and jumped up again. This time when I broke the surface, I saw Lela, about 30 yards away. “LELA!” I called, gasped for a breath and went back under, this time waving with my arms to get her attention.
My next trip to the surface I saw her swimming towards me. The final time I went under she grabbed my arm and drug me back to shallow water. Then she escorted me to the beach, sat me down, beat on my back to help me cough up the gallons of water I had swallowed; then she looked me in the eye and told me, “Don’t go back in the water.”

I spent the rest of the day reading a book.

Sin is a lot like that story. We all know we shouldn’t sin. But we sit on the proverbial beach and see people who live in sin every day, and seem to enjoy it. We know what they are doing is something we should not be a part of but it just looks like so much fun! Maybe if we just get our feet wet, that won’t hurt anything would it? So we dip our toe and realize it doesn’t feel so bad. So we wade in deeper. Soon we are up to our neck in it, just splashing away having a good time, and then it happens. Suddenly we are in over our head and can’t get out.
Our first reaction is to grab hold of the nearest thing that looks like it can save us. But quick fixes more or less make a bad situation worse. What we need is someone to come pull us from the sin, drag us to shore, and tell us: “Don’t go back in.”

Here’s the best part. Jesus is such a savior. His life, death and resurrection was all for the sole purpose of pulling YOU out of the water and saving YOU from sin.
This week’s devotional is being specifically written for someone. I don’t know your name, or your circumstances, but I know you are out there. You are in over your head in sin, you know it’s not where you should be in your life, but you can’t find a way out. I’ve been there, both physically as you have read above, and spiritually. But there is a Savior waiting to pull you to safety.

Accepting Jesus as your savior is simple. At my church we teach that salvation is as simple as ABC.

A is for Admit that you are a sinner and repent from those sins. Romans 3:23 says “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The first step toward treating any kind of problem is to admit that you actually have a problem. You cannot accept that God is offering you salvation, until you realize you have a need for salvation.

B is for Believe. Acts 16:31 says “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you shall be saved, you and your household.” John 3:16 says “Whosoever believes in me shall not perish but have everlasting life!” Salvation is that simple. Believe that Jesus died for you.

C is for Confess. This one confuses some people. It’s not about confessing your sins. You have already done that by admitting your sins. Confess in this context is simply this: “HEY WORLD! JESUS CHRIST IS MY LORD AND SAVIOR!” Romans 10:9 says “if you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.

When we got home from our lake outing my dad called to see if we had a good time. The first thing I told him was how Lela has saved me from drowning. I was so grateful for what she had done I wanted to share it with everyone. This is the context we are using confession here. We should be so happy and grateful for Jesus salvation we should be ready to proclaim it to everyone we encounter.

Now, I’m sure that most of the people who watch the videos and read these devotionals have already accepted Jesus as their savior. This week God has laid salvation on my heart, and after 15 devotionals, I realized I’ve yet to cover the first and most important base. So those who are already Christians, just enjoy the story and tune in next week, this week may not be for you.

I just can’t help shaking a nagging feeling that somewhere out in the world-wide-web, someone is reading this who feels like they are in over their head. If you are that person, this message is for you: Jesus is waiting for you. He is there with open arms ready to pull you out of the water and radically change your life. Know that there are people praying for you, and there are churches full of people who have been exactly where you are right now, and would love to share their story with you, and help you grow closer to the Lord.

…And no Ray, I can’t even dog paddle, not even a little bit.

Life with Lively: Stepping Out Of The Boat

 

My step-daughter, Steph, is your typical teenage girl. She’s always putting a new and funky coat of paint on her nails, wants to wear the latest fashions, and her cell phone has grafted itself to her hand. She has that typical “the world should revolve around me” attitude that everyone has during those teenage years.

However, something spectacular happens whenever she is around people who are mentally challenged. The phone is put away, and the moody teenager is replaced by someone more loving and caring than Mary Poppins, and a smile even comes to her face.
Steph has a talent and a calling to work with people with special needs. I don’t know what it is, but it’s almost magical. It all started about three years ago. We have a little girl in our church who suffers from Down syndrome. Steph was asked to follow her around during Vacation Bible School that year, and when things got a little intense, she would take the girl for a walk, and find a quiet place to calm her down. The next year, Steph asked if the church would buy the special needs curriculum so she could teach this girl in a one-on-one setting. By the time school started this fall, Steph was teaching our first special needs class, and was already deep into a science project to discover how different foods affect kids who suffer from Autism Spectrum Disorders. While most of her friends were shopping or “hanging out,” she was locked in her room, nose into a text book, reading about the latest research. The big “she’s serious” moment came when she asked us to take her to Lubbock and let her spend the afternoon at the Texas Tech Medical Library. I tried to break it to her that they might not let high school students into the Library, and she quickly responded with, “Oh, I’ve already called and made sure I can get a card there and everything, I’ve even filled out the application already.”

While all this was going on, her friends were trying to get her to do “high school” stuff. One even complained that Steph was “going to the darkside into complete Nerdville.” She never wavered. Her science fair entry went over the head of the judges, and she didn’t advance, but she kept her chin up. She moved on, and began looking into plans for after high school. Her goal is to become a Pediatric Autism Specialist, and truth be told, as long as she keeps her focus, she’s well on her way to being one.
It’s a lot like the situation we find Noah in. God gave him a calling, and the talent to accomplish the task. People kept questioning him, making fun of him, and challenging him. But he kept his focus and finished the task, not letting the distractions bother him.
I’m reminded of the story of Jesus walking on water. A lot of people focus on Peter not having faith, but I look at this differently. Peter had the guts to get out of the boat.

Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me! (Matthew 14:28-30)

I’m sure the others in the boat tried to talk Peter out of stepping on the water. But he did it anyway. He was well on his way to Jesus until the A.D.D. set in. The wind blew by and he took his eyes off of Jesus and he began to sink. Jesus came to his rescue and pulled him up. But until he lost his focus, he was walking on water!

God calls us to serve him in many different ways. He has given us the talent and abilities to do what he asks, and as long as we keep our focus on God, we will excel at whatever it is God has for us. We just have to learn to ignore the wind; to not let the naysayers and party poopers distract us from serving as God has commanded. Our job as God’s servants leads us in many different directions; some that others may not quite understand. We have to be able sort through the confusion and see God’s plan.
My prayer this week is that we have the guts to step out of the boat, no matter how strange and over our heads it seems. That we put our faith and focus on God’s will, and never waiver from God’s master plan.

15: Quirky Local Builds Ark

Tad Schultz interviews a local man, who’s built a giant structure. EweTube speaks out on how God might destroy the Earth.

The LORD then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, and also seven pairs of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.”

And Noah did all that the LORD commanded him.

Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth. And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood. Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground, male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, as God had commanded Noah. And after the seven days the floodwaters came on the earth.

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.

(Genesis 7, NIV ©2011)

Episode 6: Fish & Birds


Eden, Earth – And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.

Life with Lively: Water, Water, Everywhere!

It’s ironic that this week’s episode of BNN is about God creating water. In the past week we have had an abundance of water here in West Texas. Normally we get a few showers here and there; just enough to nourish the crops and plants, but this year has been different. It started on July 2nd with Hurricane Alex. After making a landfill, all of her moisture came right up here where I live. We were on the western edge of the system, so in Olton we got somewhere in the area of 2 ½ to 2 ¾ inches of rain. However, just 25 miles to the east in Plainview where I work, they got 5 to 6 inches of rain at the landfill. For the Fourth of July (it was actually on the 3rd) we went to my dad’s in Lorenzo, about 50 miles southeast of my home. We got there to find a lot of water. I spent the day standing in ankle deep water stirring a pot of beans. Water, for the first time that I can remember, is in abundance in this part of the country.
I will admit it is a nice change of pace to see the lakes full, and to see creeks flowing again –although it has made for a rough week at work; just driving around the landfill has been a challenge. But God has blessed our part of the country, and for that I am thankful.
One thing that has struck me as funny has been a constant question that lots of people keep asking. “Where did all this water come from?” I can’t help but smirk at that because it brings me back to when I was in 3rd grade. My dad was in charge of the city water system in Olton when I was in school, and my teacher had asked him to come and give a talk about water and water conservation. I remember he had a mason jar filled with water, and he held it up and proclaimed it was actual water from the Great Flood mentioned in Genesis. My classmates were taken aback with how cool that was. He passed the jar around and we all looked at it like it was a museum piece. One of my friends asked my dad where he could get some water from the flood and my dad pointed down the hall to the water fountain.
It’s one of those things we don’t really think about is it? The Bible says God created everything in the first seven days. God created water on Day 2, and when he did he created enough to last the lifetime of the universe. God knew on the second day of creation how much water we were going to need on July 9, 2010; and on July 10, and July 11 and so on.
Now admittedly, we have contaminated a lot of our water, and it will take a lot of effort to clean out the impurities to make it usable, but in that statement is today’s lesson.
In John 4: 13 and 14, Jesus says, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again. But no one who drinks the water I give will ever be thirsty again. The water I give is like a flowing fountain that gives eternal life.”
Jesus has given us a pure and simple way to salvation through him. Unfortunately, sometimes we allow that living water to become contaminated. We get so tied up with other things that we lose the joy of living a life free from sin.
This week I’m subbing in a Sunday school class and the lesson is in 1 Corinthians 11:17-26. It deals with how the Corinthian church had taken something as simple and pure as taking The Lords Supper and turned it into a show of who was the better Christian. The message had become contaminated, and because of that, remembering this important time in the life of Jesus, had lost its value to the Corinthians. So many times we get so wrapped up in what image we are portraying to others that we forget the purpose of worship is to glorify God.
Worshiping “The Living Water” is in itself perfect. We don’t need to add any flavorings, or sweeteners to it. God created us for His companionship, one on one with Him. We don’t have to put on a pre-tense of how great we want God to think we are. God doesn’t see our Christian T-shirts, he sees the person wearing the shirt. He knows that person and all the dirty little secrets that he is trying to keep.
Are we really drinking in the pure living water of Jesus or have we contaminated our lives, and just keep pouring in artificial agents to try to cover up the mess? I for one know that sometimes its best to just dump out all the crud in our lives and get a fresh cup of water. That is my prayer for this week: that I clear out all the impurities in my life and worship God pure clear and unfiltered.

Brocke Lively is a lifelong Texan from a little town called Olton.
Brocke and his wife, Lela, have 5 kids, 2 dogs, 5 cats, 2 chickens, and what seems like a revolving door of neighbor kids coming over to play. As a father, Brocke recognizes that how he lives his life, and how he worships God not only reflects on his own salvation, but ripples to how his kids worship God.
Brocke attends a small town church where he is known as an on-call substitute Sunday school teacher. He recognizes that his church family is also a large part of who he is, and who he want his kids to grow up to be; God-fearing followers of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Episode 3: God Separates the Waters

Earth, Universe – And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.”  So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.