While on my way to take Brandon to Lynchburg, VA to get all moved in to his dorm at Liberty Univeristy we all noticed a rather odd sign telling us what was just ahead on the road, we had just left I81 and had just passed the previous big attraction in this neck of the woods Virginia’s Natural Bridge. But now just ahead was FOAMHENDGE, what, pray tell, was this, well sure enough, just past the entrance to Natural Bridge, and near the wax museum, the Natural Bridge Caverns, and the Virginia Drive-through safari and the Natural Bridge Road-side zoo…. was Foamhenge, a full sized Styrofoam replica of Stonehenge. We didn’t stop but we did turn a wide-eye to this unnatural wonder. Upon returning home I turned to the authoritative source for tacky road-side attractions, RoadsideAmerica.com which revealed that Foamhenge is the creation of one Mark Cline (Washington Post article on Mark) who is best known for making full-sized dinosaur sculptures. I also discovered that there are several Stonehenge replicas scattered around North America including ones made out of junk cars and abandoned refrigerators. This little diversion got me to thinking about a couple of things, #1 the fascination with replicas, and #2 the fact that the replica never quite matches the impact of the original. Whether it is the 1/3 sized replica of the Eiffel Tower at Kings Island or reproduced Europe at Bush Gardens they still fall short.

On the spiritual plane there is an exception. Think about this from 1John 3:2: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” Christians are being remade in the image of Christ, and He will get the process right! Next time you are frustrated with other believer or with yourself remember that when we are with Him, we all we be perfect, complete and remade.

1. How does this reality help you have patience with other?
2. How does this reality affect your view of yourself?

“He is not here: for he is risen” (Matt. 28:6)
A tomb. Of all places for a miracle of eternal proportions to take place, a tomb would seem the least likely. But it was a tomb where the humility of Christ ended and the exaltation of Christ began. It was the place where the hope of the disciples died and where it was reborn three days later. It was the place where death met the power of God and death lost. It appeared to be a lasting testimony of the victory of Satan but became the ground of his eternal defeat. The tomb was closed by loving hands, sealed by hateful hands, but opened by angelic hands. It was guarded to keep robbers out of the grave; it was emptied to allow sinners into heaven. When Jesus was in the tomb it separated Him from the living, after Jesus arose, the empty tomb separated Him from every would-be savior the world has ever known.

As you reflect today on the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, let your mind pause by the empty tomb and thank God for all it represents to you. Thank Him for the assurance of salvation gained and eternity secured. Spend a few extra moments worshiping your Living Savior!

“Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Phil. 4:8

There is an old saying that says, “You are what you eat.” We should be purposeful with our diets. We should also be purposeful with what we allow into our minds. We should not feed on the things of the “flesh,” but rather the things of the “Spirit.” We are encouraged in Scripture to be spiritually minded and avoid the pain of living a life that does not have a Spirit focus.

Perhaps this would be a good opportunity for you to evaluate the quality of your thought life. Here are a few questions that may help: 1. If my every thought were made public, would I be pleased? 2. How often does my relationship to God make it into my thoughts? 3. Does the content of my private thoughts include private prayer to God? 4. How much spiritually-wholesome material do I put into my mind verses how much that may be neutral or harmful? 5. Do my entertainment choices enhance a spiritual mind or detract from it? 6. Is there anything currently in my thought life that I need to confess and forsake? 7. What is one thing I could read, listen to, or watch that would make my thoughts more God-focused?

(a reprint of an old favorite )

A few years ago, we had an underwater emergency at our house. One of my son’s goldfish was discovered in extreme physical distress. He was swimming erratically and was continually opening and closing his mouth. Upon closer examination, we arrived at the correct diagnosis. The goldfish had nearly swallowed a piece of gravel. Apparently, this one stone was just the right shape to slide a little too far in, and it was lodged tightly in the fish’s throat. If it was not removed, the fish would die.

What is one to do? You can’t call 911, and and you can’t take a 97-cent goldfish to the veterinarian. We could not, however, just abandon this fish. He was part of the family! He stayed in my son’s room. My son saw him off to bed and greeted him every morning. There was too much emotional attachment just to let him die in agony. Once the decision was made to administer first aid, we sprung into action. The kitchen table was cleared, and our family gathered around the patient. Knowing that the Heimlich maneuver (using an abdominal thrust to force air from the lungs upward to clear the air passage) is successful with humans, we tried doing this on the fish. Only after several attempts did it dawn on me that fish don’t have lungs! I will spare you the details of some more unsuccessful procedures.

Then we did what we should have done to start with, we prayed (I Thess. 5:17). After interceding for both the fish and the surgeon (my wife), she began trying to extract the embedded gravel with a pair of tweezers while holding the slippery fish in her hands. We all held our breath. At what seemed like the last moment before the goldfish would expire, the gravel came out. The goldfish was plopped back in the bowl of water and a cheer went up.

What may seem to you to be a minor coincidence was a great lesson to all of us on the power of prayer. Now you may be thinking the great spiritual lessons are only taught from the pulpit or in solemn moments. God, however, instructed us to both learn and teach His truth through the normal activities and experiences of life (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).

We should strive to use as much of our time as possible to learn of God and to teach His truth to others. We can do this by constantly asking the Lord to teach us through all of our experiences.

The goldfish quickly recovered from his ordeal, but for months afterward, whenever we saw the little goldfish we were reminded of the lessons learned from the God who made him and us. For those in our home, there was no doubt that God exists and He hears and answers prayer.

“They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’” (Matt. 27:29)

What kind of perverse mind would have thought of it; yes the would-be ruler needed to be taught a lesson, but how to do it….let’s see…a king wears a crown….then a quick glance at nearby thorn-bush and the plan was hatched. The king would wear a crown of thorns, what a clever, ironic, cruel and spectacular stunt. Quickly murderous hands wove the branches in the wicked circle and it was rammed into Jesus scalp.

The mind behind the hands never realized that thorns were not always part of creation, they were a direct result of sin…(“Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee;” Gen. 3:18) and that portion of sin’s curse was wounding the single sinless one as he was dying for the sinners that was everyone else. It was not a warped sense of humor that conceived the crown of thorns it was a message delivered, that declared it was grace, love and mercy which drove our Savior to accept the curse of sin so that I could ever go free. What wonder, what a matchless gift.

Question: What fitting tribute can I offer today to express my awareness of the gift of Jesus?