Monday, December 29, 2008

A Change of Mind is in Order

Do you have any idea how much God loves you? He is crazy about you; what else could He do to show you exactly much He cares about you? A better car? A higher income? A better behaved family? A bigger home? An unexpected windfall?

There was a memorable plaque that I came across a few weeks ago. It said, "Which is easier, for God to bring peace out of the storm or for Him to bring peace within the storm?"

I know that we all want the former; God prefers the latter because that is where faith sits!

The Kingdom of God works on a different system than the domain of this world. The Kingdom of God works entirely on faith; the domain of this world works on success, accomplishment, wealth, health and possessions. There is no greater disparity than that of the two sytems!

Maybe it time that we reposition our minds toward the things that God prefers. It make take some sincere repentance; for sure, it will take some degree of faith!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Hearing From God

An angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. And Zaharias was troubled when he saw him, and fear gripped him.

So opens the communication, once again between the Creator and His creation!

400 years; that’s a long, long time.

400 years had been how long it had been since God had spoken to mankind. No prophets, no angelic appearances, no visions, no dreams; absolutely no communication whatsoever!

Silence, how does that make sense. Mankind left to himself leads only to degradation; nothing good comes from this type of silence.

“Do not be afraid” were the first words from God in over 400 years. “Do not be afraid”; four words that speak volumes.

-God chose to open is communications once again with one single man.

-God did not allow the urgency of the message to be delivered to override His care for the individual. "Do not be afraid" is not an unimportant detail.

-God chose to speak to an individual who was available; just doing his assigned duties.

-God re-opened communications with the physical presence of an angel to confirm the message.

So, how long has it been since you have heard from Him? The good news is that, at least, it couldn’t have been 400 years. Schedule some time to hear from Him soon! He will show up.

Monday, December 15, 2008

That Name!

Power in the Name

His name is Jesus, not Christ, not Lord, not God. Yes, He is the Messiah (Christ), He is Lord of Lords and He is eternal God but His name is Jesus.

There is something entirely unique about His name. Scripture indicates that it is unique beyond all other names.

There is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.. Acts 4:12

And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know. Acts 3:16

Therefore God highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God. Philippians 2:9&10

And there shall no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His bond-servants shall serve Him; and they shall see His face and His name shall be on their foreheads! Revelation 22:3&4

And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. Colossians 3:17

Scripture tells us that there will be many Christs and false prophets. Mark 13:22 There, therefore, is no power in the title of Christ.

Lord is a title of royalty. There have been many Lords in many countries and societies. Jesus is called the Lord of Lords for such reason. There is no power in the title of Lord.

Too many to name are the gods of this world. Religions too numerous to mention all have a concept of god. People freely use the term of god in their exclamations, “Oh, my god!”, “god, no or god, yes”. Jesus referred to the god of this world referring to Satan. There is no power in the title of God!

If you are weary of your mundane job, life; if you are powerless over the temptations; if scripture is boring or left on the shelf; if you would like to experience more power in you life, drop the powerless terms and adopt the powerful name of Jesus!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Food For Your Soul

For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

Many are very familiar with this scripture. Knowing about this scripture is far different from knowing the scripture. There exists a serious lack, in terms of time invested, in the Bible by Christians today. This lack has brought sever consequences. Fear, stress, relationship troubles, pornography, impatience, debt, mistrust, insomnia are commonplace in the lives of Christians in current times.

Jesus prayed the following words: They (the followers of Jesus) are not of this world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” John 17:16&17

We are “sanctified”(set apart for God’s purposes) by God’s word. There is no other method available. Jesus knows that living in this world dilutes even the strongest resolutions. The “truths” of this world begin to take on an air of acceptability over time. The only antidote for the “truths” of this world are the real truths of God’s world and the only place that we experience God’s world is through His word.

Hebrews tells us that the Word of God is living and active. Clearly then, scripture is not a stagnant document. This is an important distinction because, unlike every other book or document, the Bible reveals its truths in levels.

…the natural man does not accept the things of God; for they are foolishness to him and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. I Corinthians 2:14

The closer we are to our “natural man” the less likely we are to read the scriptures because we do not “understand them”. The amazing resilience of scripture provides that, even if we begin close to our “natural man” state, the “sharp, two-edged sword begins to speak to our spiritual man.

As our spiritual nature feeds on God’s word, our spiritual nature grows stronger and stronger. As our spiritual nature (faith) grows new levels of scriptural truth open up to us.

It is time to begin again. Pick up God’s word and ask the Holy Spirit to direct your thoughts and reveal His truth.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Truth Sprouts Worship

Thomas exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus answered him, Because you have seen you believe? Blessed are they who do not see and yet believe. John 20:28&29

Believing is a difficult thing to explain isn’t it? Come to think about it, it’s a bit difficult to personally understand as well. It’s kind of like being “all grown up”. Kids can hardly wait for the day when they are grown up until one day they are there and can’t understand where all the time has gone. Likewise, belief is something we can often see in others but, at times, feel woefully inadequate in our own lives.

So how do we go about increasing our faith?

We have all read the books or seen the movies wherein hope is slipping away and despair is growing by the moment. The horizon has been repeatedly scanned for possible escape; any help! Suddenly, miraculously over the distant hill we see the cavalry, the townspeople, the lone stranger, the long lost love… Hope turns to unfettered joy as desperate hopelessness turns to victory!

The Psalmist might have had an initial similar expectation as he begins his thoughts (Psalm 121)I lift up my eyes to the mountains; from whence shall my help come? He continues: My help comes from the Lord who made the heaven and the earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps [you] will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper. The Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun will not smite you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in From this time forth and forever!

So how do we increase our faith? Worship is the key! Let me hasten to point out that we too often have the view that worship is music or singing. While music and singing are often present at worship and sometimes vehicles of worship, it can as easily be an escape from true worship!

In a discussion with a woman who attempted to deflect confrontation about her private life Jesus said, “…true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth and truth” John 4:23&24

“Worship in truth”…what, if you were sincerely honest would you really say to God? Until we are willing to deal with truth we will never enter into the truth of worship.

The Psalms are great examples of honesty. (For example, read Psalm 10 looking for the truth and for the turn around.) It is only due to the courage of the psalmist in laying his heart bare before the God who knows him better than he know himself that his perspective begins to change. Once we experience the deep release of truth with God we will be set free to worship!True worshipers shall worship the Father (John 5:23) in spirit and truth!

It is within this type of worship that true faith is discovered!

Isn't it time to be real with your God?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Truth Reveals Who You Really Are

There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus… Romans 8:1

Jesus said, “Abide in Me and I in you as I am the vine and you are the branches… John 15:1-5

As we choose to live within Him we find the true life that Almighty God intended for us to live.

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and death…Romans 8:2

The do’s and don’ts of religion are counter-productive toward the rich life that God designed for us.

For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did; sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh. Romans 8:2&3

The rules were never intended for the purpose of giving life.

He (God) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him! II Corinthinans 5:21

He made Jesus to BE sin on our behalf so that we could become righteous IN Him!

You see, your sin, (all of it; yesterday’s, today’s and all of tomorrow’s) were nailed to the cross. As the first nail was hammered into the hand of Jesus, your sin cried out in agony. As the second nail was hammered mercilessly into the other hand of Jesus, your sin screamed in terror! As the final nail was hammered into the feet of Jesus, your sin died!

With sin being dead, the stage has been set for each of us to become righteous in Jesus!

Living IN Jesus is open to each of us who have, by faith, accepted His payment!

We cannot live in both worlds. We cannot live in love with mammon and hope to love God and find the life of abundance that He has provided!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Beyond Our Wildest Dreams!

Purpose; there is a reason that you are here! You are not an accident; you are not here by chance; however you are not your own.

…do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price… I Corinthians 6:19-20

Most of us continue to live as if we belonged to no one. Sure there is some responsibility to our families and to our employers but outside of that we think we are in control.

Sadly mistaken is this view. We are free to continue to wander through our own “wildernesses” thinking we are getting somewhere when we are only walking around in circles. The day rapidly approaches each of us when we will look up and discover all that we have been living for is a mirage!

God never intended this to be the case. Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book they were written, the days that were ordained for me when as yet there was not one of them. Psalm 139:16

Before you were born, God had His eyes on you. You are His delight: As for the saints, who are in the earth, they are the majestic ones in whom is all My delight! Psalm 16:3

You delight God’s heart. There is nothing more that you need to do to be delightful in God’s eyes. You are His and He chooses to sing over you. (Song of Solomon). That is how He sees you!

How do you see yourself? You have been bought with a price; have you sold yourself to the highest bidder? Do you work for a wage or do you minister to Him and see the reward for your work as a gift from His hand?

For the shepherds have become stupid and have not sought the Lord; therefore they have not prospered and all of their flock is scattered. Jeremiah10:21

The folly of our pursuits leads only to scattered flocks and empty lives.

I know, O Lord, that a man’s way is not in himself; nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps. Jeremiah 10:23

From the beginning God had a different idea for you: “For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for blessing and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you, and you will seek Me and find Me when you will seek Me with all your heart. And I will be found by you,” declares the Lord. Jeremiah 29:11-14

May I suggest that you might like to consider bending toward His desires for you? For too long we have been “stupid” shepherds and our flock is scattered. The height of foolishness is to continue doing the same things while expecting different results. If you don’t like what you have been getting, try doing it His way!

Do you have a purpose or do you just exist day to day?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Image or Power?

No fingers are being pointed at anyone with the following thoughts except for those which are pointing back to the writer.


From our earliest days we have learned the lesson of presenting ourselves in ways that don’t reveal the inner issues. The conflict that rages between our true selves and the image that we present bring stress and turmoil beyond our awareness.

Far more destructive is this inner conflict that it diverts us from the glory that our God has redeemed us to.

The apostle Paul, writing to his friend Timothy in his second letter to him, alerts him to coming challenges:

“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come…”

Certainly there have always been “difficult times” in every age and in every society. The difference in what Paul is writing his friend about is that he is addressing issues that will arise within the Church not in society.

“For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God…”

An ugly list isn’t it? Surely, this can’t be talking about God’s people; it must be addressing those who don’t know Jesus yet. Unfortunately, that would be an incorrect assumption. You see, the characteristics listed do indeed describe unredeemed man but that is not just an issue for the “last days”. That is the standard by which man has lived throughout history.

Paul’s next comments indicate that he is not talking about a lost world but, instead is addressing a “lost” church.

“…holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power…”

No we cannot excuse ourselves by looking at the list and selecting some, or even most, of the list that doesn’t apply. The fact is that any one of the traits listed would indicate that we are more in love with ourselves that we are with Jesus.

“holding to a form of godliness” how close this one cuts to the bone. Does our relationship with Jesus make any difference in our day to day lives or are we only living in an image?

How can we truthfully answer such a question? We have come a long way in our present circumstances so how can we accurately evaluate our postion?

“they have denied its power”.

When was the last time that you experienced His power?

Paul addresses the believers in Corinth with the following words: But I shall come to you, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant, but their power. For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power. 1 Corinthians 4:1—20

God never intended that Christians should cower in the recesses of our society. Hi intent was stated right up front:

…you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you…Acts 1:8

It has been a foolish exchange, this trade of power for self-delusion and self-interest. Perhaps it is time that we cancel the trade and return to that which was bought for us with such a high price!

The benefit is immeasurable: …(He) is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or imagine, according to the power that works within us. Ephesians 3:20

The choice is clear, the price has been paid, the gift has been presented, the guarantee is assured, the results are eternal.

Image or Power?

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Foolish Thinks He is in Control

I arrived at the conference just in time for the host to begin the first session. Never one to worry about being on the first few rows, I was very content with the timing. As the host began, I settled in to my seat at the back, ready to escape if things weren’t worth my time.

The host gave the customary welcome to the attendees while promising a day that would never be forgotten. He then recited the agenda for the morning session including a quick view of the speakers and events of the morning.

As the host introduced the initial speaker of the morning, I began to mentally tune out thinking that the things going on in my life were most likely more important that the obligatory “first” speaker. There is a reason, after all, why this person was put first before everyone had arrived and most had fully awakened.

A brief glance toward the speaker as he approached the podium confirmed my priorities. There was really nothing in his demeanor spoke to me about a message that I needed to hear.

His very first words shook me from my lethargy. “Before I begin my topic for today I want to address a few specific people here”. No, it wasn’t these words, because I had heard in every other conference too many obligatory adulations for too many dignitaries. “I am not here to tell anyone what to believe” were his next words. These are the words that caught my attention. He continued, “for those of you who are Christian”. He now had my complete focus. “You claim that there is a real God”; yea, so far so good. “If there is a real God, what gives you the right to moan and complain about anything?”.

Slammed right between the eyes, I sat in my seat for the rest of the morning not hearing another word that was spoken by this or any other speaker. The truth of that question struck me to my core!

“For those of you who are Christian, you claim that there is a real God. If there is a real God, what give you the right to moan and complain about anything?”

These words rolled around and around in my mind the rest of that day and every day since.

The wisdom of Proverbs tells us that, The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9

As each day begins, each of us has a full day on our minds. Tasks to complete, meetings to attend, errands to run, people to contact. We run for before sun up to after sun down chasing down our plans. The mind of man plans his way.

What happens when the “unplanned” strike in an already busy day? The plans are made but they didn’t include the flat tire on the way to work. The plans are made but they didn’t include the sick child or spouse or co-worker or employee. The plans are made but they didn’t include the urgent message from an acquaintance, or a relative, or the school. The plans are made but they didn’t include the slippery roads and the clogged traffic. The plans are made but they didn’t include hitting every red light in town.

The plans are made but “the Lord directs his steps”. There simply are no coincidences within the kingdom of God.

Man’s steps are ordained by the Lord, how can a man understand his way? Proverbs 20:24

We fail to understand our way because we view our lives through the lenses of logic and practicality. The kingdom of God moves on faith. There is a broad disconnect between the lenses that we use and those that perceive truth.

In Jesus all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete… Colossians 2:99&10

The sad thing is that we fail to realize what Jesus has done for us. We have been made complete. The difficulty is that we choose to live in the part of our lives that, like everyone else, is incomplete. The completeness within us includes that awareness of God at work around us and in us.

Is a flat tire, a sick person, an urgent message, the tough road or the string of red lights just irritations to confound your plans or are they opportunities to see, hear, know or respond to God? There is a “completeness” waiting for us. Will we respond or will we continue to fight against God’s directed steps”?

Grace an peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by and to His own glory and excellence.
2 Peter 1:2&3

Monday, October 27, 2008

Wait a Minute or Two

Waiting has become a national irritation; perhaps it is one of yours as well.

Lines in banks or in stores, late friends or family members, sitting in the “waiting” room too long past the appointment time, spouse issues too many to mention; waiting grates and pushes against our sense of what is “right”.

Waiting is a BIG thing for our God as well. The meaningful difference between how we tend to see waiting from how God sees waiting is that He sees waiting as a good thing. No, not that waiting itself is a good thing, but that waiting indicates a good thing.

Just moments before He left His friends, Jesus told them to wait:

And gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait…

Not that waiting is tough enough by itself but Jesus asked His friends to wait around in the very city where He was horribly treated and crucified just days before. The religious and political rancor was at extreme high; the danger was palpable!

…wait for what the Father had promised. “Which.” He said, “you heard from Me; for John baptized you with water but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now”.

So that which “the Father” had promised was going to be delivered but there was evidently a prerequisite to the receipt of the gift. Clearly, the Father could have delivered the promised gift in any manner He chose. For some reason He chose to deliver it to those who “waited”.

There is a scripture that is probably very familiar to us; familiar to our minds perhaps but far too unfamiliar in practice.

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired and vigorous young men stumble and badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. Isaiah 40:29-31

Once again waiting seems to be the path to the promised benefits. Waiting is the ultimate illustration of our faith!

The psalmist knew this depth of this display of faith:

To Thee I lift up my eyes, O Thou who art enthroned in the heavens!
Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master. As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress; so our eyes look to the Lord our God until He shall be gracious to us!
Psalm 123:1-2

Before ending this discussion it is important to address two levels of waiting. The first is waiting for some specific relief, a specific blessing or a special need. The second is where we begin to touch the essence of the inscrutable God, the presence of waiting for whatever He has in mind for us.

Waiting takes time. Time is the only thing that we have that once spent cannot be replaced. It is the greatest, most personal thing that we can offer.

When Thou didst awesome things which we did not expect, Thou didst come down, the mountains quaked at Thy presence.

For from of old they have not heard not perceived by ear, neither has eye seen a God besides Thee Who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him
. Isaiah 64:3&4

Purpose yourself to wait!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Higher, Wider, Deeper and More

Seven different churches were addressed in the first pages of the Book of Revelation. Seven different churches all with different issues that displeased our God!

Seven different times, God’s message to these dysfunctional churches was to “overcome”. With the “over-coming” came promised blessings and providence.

What is it about over-coming that God so enjoys?

Making a decision to turn your life over to God by accepting Jesus and His sacrifice is the pinnacle of decisions. No other decision that we ever make will create a celebration in the heavenly realms.

The next level of decisions is the level of decision wherein we place our trust outside of what we see and know. This is the place of “over-coming”. At these times, we often don’t feel like overcoming; we don’t much feel like anything spiritually enriching. In times like this, we are lost in our own despair or scattered in our own plans and schemes.

Many times we have “settled” for far less than God’s desire for us. It is in these times that the tender mercies of our God call us to “over-come”.

So, today just perhaps there are seven people who God is calling to this place of overcoming. Are you one of His beloved?

Monday, October 13, 2008

God Reveals You Personal Value

Since you are precious in My sight, since you are honored and I love you, I will give other men in your place and other people in exchange for your life. Isaiah 43:4

There have never been enough people, even all of those born since the beginning of time, that would be sufficient for the exchange for even just one person (Me?)!

It took Jesus. That was the ONLY way!

Enough said? Let your praises be heard even in the far reaches of Heaven!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Fruit That Lasts

What follows is a very difficult question. Take some time to consider, to contemplate and to face the truth of your real answer.

The question:

What difference does Jesus Make in your life?

Notice; the question is NOT what difference does Jesus make in your death, but what difference He makes in your life! Another point to the question is: what difference does He make in your life today, not at some future hoped for point.

Jesus said, “I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly”. John 10:10

There is a big difference between the words “may” and “will”. The gift has been given, it is our responsibility to pick it up and to put it to use.

Scripture says, “ the fruit of the (Holy) Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”. Galatians 5:22-23

A obviously stupid question is, if you walked up to an fruit tree and found nothing there would you consider there to be something wrong? Of course, so let me ask you, “what is wrong?” Why are the fruits borne by the Holy Spirit not evident in our lives?

So, are you content where you are or is there a yearning for a deeper life?

Jesus came to provide it.

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Safeguard

Years of sacrificial servant-hood ministry had brought successes and disappointments. Now he found himself in an all too familiar place. Paul writes: I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus, for it is only right for me to think this way about you, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you are all partakers of grace with me… Philippians 1:6-7

Paul a “partaker of grace” was sitting inside of a prison cell with an unknown future. Let us not pass by this point too quickly, the cells of that day were quite different from our cells of today. The cells were often in the worst parts of the town and were rat and disease infested dark and damp, filthy places. There was no provision for the prisoners except that which was provided from the outside by family or friends. Yet in this state Paul proclaims that his heart resides with his friends in Phillippi.

One of the underlying purposes for his letter was to thank his friends for providing not only the resources to see him through the ordeal but individuals to minister to him as well. To this point Paul says: For I have no one else (other than Timothy) of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. Philippians 2:20

The picture would look bleak to most ordinary people. Here he sat, after years of effective and sacrificial ministry, locked in ugliness with only one person he could trust and depend upon and the only news heard is the squabbling and the self interest within the church.

Yet his thoughts were elsewhere: I thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger and minister to me; because he was longing for you all and was distressed because you heard that he was sick. V.25&26

How is it that one in such a desperate position has only the concern for the welfare of others who appear to be less desperate?

Paul reveals to us the key to the kingdom of peace and joy: Finally, brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same thing again is no trouble to me and is a safeguard to you. 3:1

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice! v.4

Is the point made yet? Over and over again it is worth proclaiming. Rejoicing is the pathway out of our troubles.

Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men; the Lord is near!

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be know by God.

Prayer + supplication + thanksgiving = and the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus!

The conclusion: Finally, brethren, whatever is TRUE, whatever is HONORABLE, whatever is RIGHT, whatever is PURE, whatever is LOVLY, whatever is of GOOD REPUTE, if there is anything WORTH OF PRAISE, let you mind dwell on these things. V.8

Is it time we reconsidered some of the things that we allow to be put before our eyes and minds? Not everything that is harmful to our spiritual health is evil or even just bad. Some things are acceptable for most people but work against our spirits.

Consider the doors that you open to your mind!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Things that Delight

Have you ever felt diminished by hearing the stories about the wealthy in our society contributing to a cause or to a university or to a hospital; how about those who sacrificed time and money to help the people in Louisiana and Mississippi? Then there are the many who man the homeless shelters or roam the streets looking for the homeless on the coldest nights.

All wonderful acts, but how does our God see them?

The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord,
But the prayer of the upright is His delight
. Proverbs 15:8

Have you ever considered that your prayers are a delight to Jesus?


There is absolutely nothing that speaks God’s language of faith more that prayer!

Hebrews 11:6 makes the bold statement: Without faith it is impossible to please God.

He is always waiting to hear from you! Don’t make Him wait!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Who is King of Your Mountain?

Elections always seem to bring out the worst of people. In addition, court decision after decision seems to frustrate those who stand for integrity and justice. So many times we get our focus off of where it should be. Psalm 2 brings it all back into proper perspective.

Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing?
The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together
Against the Lord and against His anointed

Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!

He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them.
He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury!

But as for me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain!

“Install THE KING” upon your mountain! There is no mountain that He cannot “laugh at”. Too often we stand a fret at the foothills of the mountain in front of us rather than delivering it to the King!

Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” John 14:27

Whatever has been worth your worry; whatever has been worth trading your peace for; that is worthy of surrender to the King of the Mountain!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Good is the Enemy of the Best

It happens every year yet it seems to sneak up on us so subtly.

Busyness; get ready, here it comes!

To already too busy lives we will add, over the days ahead, myriad events, programs, parties, shopping trips and decorating tasks bringing us to the inevitable. There is a cost to busyness. Actually, the costs to busyness are many. The difficulty is that we are so accustomed to being busy that we can ramp-up to new levels with seemingly little effect. The costs of busyness deal with depth and faith and peace. These are the things that are sacrificed at the altar of busyness.

… the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. James 3:17

Wisdom and busyness are enemies. One simply cannot have both.

Unlike many of our friends and neighbors, we have bee give a choice; we have options. If we fail to choose, we will default to the natural and the natural will always choose to be busy.

Consider choosing wisdom!

Come to Me, Jesus said, …and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

The only chance we have to make a wise choice for wisdom is to center in His rest.

Jesus and His followers were traveling one day. As the day drew to an end they entered the city where Lazarus, Mary and Martha lived. Having a long-standing friendship with the family, He was invited to their home.

Unexpectedly, the demands of the household changed instantly. There were people to care for, things to do, and task after task to be completed.

Scripture makes the following statement: But Martha was distracted with all of her preparations.

“Distracted?” many of us say! There were guests to be cared for, food to be prepared, places to sleep to be found, water to be brought; too much to do!

To Martha’s plea for her sister’s help with the burden, Jesus replied, Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part…

There it is but it is very hard to hear! There is really only one thing that makes a difference; all the rest are the details.

Notice that Jesus didn’t say that the things of concern for Martha were “bad” things. He simply stated the truth that there are good things and there are better things! He encourages each of us to choose the better things.

We will all have many good things presented to us over the days ahead. Jesus invites us to choose to include the better things. By choosing the better things, the remainder of the good things will take on their proper importance and urgency.

Choose the better things!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wild but True

And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night do not cease to say, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.”

And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne saying, “ Worthy are You, our Lord, and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You did create all things and because of Your will they existed and were created.”
Revelation 4:8-11

The thought occurred to me this week that if the Almighty God of the universe simply turned His back on man after the first sin and never considered man again, yet, He would still be worthy of our praise, adoration and wonder! This led me to the above scripture in which created beings that have been no where but in heaven before God’s throne, worship Him “day and night”.

If God had done nothing for us, yet He would be worthy of praise! He is worthy in who He is; outside of what He has done!

Worthy of worship and devotion beyond what he Has done:

Redeemed me through Jesus
Given me a loving, mostly healthy family
Surrounded me with friends
Provided a church family second to none
Given our family a home; a warm home.
Protected me for endless troubles
Given me work and income
Sheltered our “things” from theft and from deterioration
Provided us with transportation
Speaks to even me!
On and on the list goes.

Yes, even if, on that day in the Garden of Eden instead of asking. “Adam where are you?” Instead, He would have said, “Adam, I know here you are!” And then He turned and walked away forever. Yet, He would still be worthy of all praise and honor.

The story goes on:

As Jesus was dying on the cross, He exclaimed: “My God My God why have you forsaken me?”

Almighty God did not turn His back on Adam. He turned His back on Jesus so that He could turn His face toward me.

Habakkuk understands the deeper truth:

Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines,
though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce not food,
though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
The Lord is my strength and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet
-and makes me walk on my high places.
Habakkuk 3:17-19

In the midst of one of the most tragic events of any single life, Gods’ servant Job, made the following statement:

Though He slay me, I will hope in Him! Job 13:15

Perhaps we have too much? Perhaps our expectations have been stretched beyond all reasonableness?

Is it possible for us to return to the bare truth of the worthiness of the Living God to receive our adoration and worship?

Come before Him and see His glory!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

It is Free but It Isn't Natural

SHOUT joyfully to the Lord all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful singing. Know that the Lord Himself is God; it is He who made us and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him; bless His name. For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.
Psalm 100

Joy and gladness is a BIG thing to our God! It is a sincere expression of faith and faith is music to God’s ear.

As a matter of fact joy and gladness insulate us from some pretty ugly things.

Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and a glad heart for the abundance of all things; therefore you shall serve your enemies…Deuteronomy 28:47&48

The Book of Philippians is an amazing book. The Apostle Paul is sitting in a prison cell and writing a letter of thanksgiving to the church in Philippi. To understand this situation it is important that we understand the setting. The prisons of that era were not like our prisons of today or even recent history. No these were typically dungeons of filth and disease. Absolutely on care was provided to prisoners. The only food or clothing that they had was that which cam from the outside world. This where the church at Philippi comes into the picture. They sent not only food and clothing but attendants as well.

There were no laws regarding false imprisonment, unfair terms of imprisonment or even the condition of the imprisonment. Paul had no idea when, if ever, he would get out!

This same Paul had left his entire family, his vaulted position and his society. He had traveled the known world to spread the good news of Jesus. He had been shipwrecked, stoned, whipped, stranded and alone and run out of town.

His recent life had been totally dedicated to the service of his God. Now we find him in the dregs of a filthy jail cell.

Paul, in writing his personal note of thanks to the Philippians makes this statement: …I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly so that I may also be encouraged when I learn of your condition. For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. Philippians 2:19&20

I’m not certain how I would react to this situation if I were up to my knees in filth, death and waste and I looked around and could find no one other than one single person that we trustworthy. Years of ministry, years of service, years of self-sacrifice had brought him to this.

His response?

Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write these things again is no trouble to me and it is a safeguard to you.” (3:1)


Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice! Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. (4:4&5)

There is his secret. It didn’t make any difference to Paul where he was; the Lord was always there with him. So, whether imprisoned or whether free, he was with his Lord.

The importance of rejoicing is that it keeps us in the presence of the Lord. He may be with us; it is rejoicing that places us with Him.

It doesn’t matter where you are or what you are doing, choose to rejoice and be glad. Stand back and see how God will respond!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Big Enough For Your Needs?

How big is your God?

The quick answer is generally not the real answer. Think about your concept of how big you God is truthfully.

We all tend, over time, to form God in our image. As we whittle Him down to the size of our image, so goes our faith, diminishing to barely a faint whisper. As our faith fades so does our prayer life.

The bottom line then is: the answer to the first question is the temperature of your prayer life.

It is worthless to determine to pray more or to read the Bible more. Our determinations fade quickly. The only change that can really make any difference is for us to begin to comprehend how big our God is!

O Lord, You have searched me and known me, You understand my thoughts from afar. You scrutinize my paths and my lying down and are intimately aquatinted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O Lord, You know it all.

You have enclosed me behind and before and laid Your hand upon me, such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high, I cannot attain to it.

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Your right hand will lay hold of me.

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I am awake, I am still with You.

Psalm 139:1-10, 17-18

This same God, whom the psalmist describes as intimately desirous of relationship with us, knows us best yet loves us the most.

Let’s take a peek at one display of God’s bigness:

The book of Genesis informs us that God simply spoke into existence everything that we see and everything that we fail to see.

Steve Green, in his book entitled “Hymns: A portrait of Christ”[1], writes:

Looking at the universe gives us a sense of perspective. The nearest star, our sun is 93 million miles from earth. If the sun were hollow, it could contain 1-½ million spheres the size of earth.

Light travels at 186,000 miles per second, and the nearest star beyond the sun is 4 ½ light years away. There are approximately 100 billion stars in our galaxy, and with the most powerful telescope on earth scientists have discovered some 200 million other galaxies…

Sir James Jeans, the British astronomer, stated that there are probably as many stars in the universe as there are grains of sand on every beach in the world.

I can almost hear David whispering in awe, “Great it the Lord and most worth of praise; His greatness no on can fathom.” Psalm 145:3

Jesus invites you to consider His bigness. Your mind wasn’t created to handle this; your heart is the place of discovery for God’s bigness!

It won’t come to you quickly, but it will come to you if you seek Him. He enjoys sharing Himself with you!

[1] Hymns, A portrait of Christ, Sparrow Press, How Great Thou Art

Friday, September 5, 2008

Over Promised; Under Delivered!

You have heard the phase many times. Just this week, once again I heard the time weary phrase, "our thoughts and prayers are with" you. The concept is not the issue; there are a couple of related issues strike me as disingenuous.

The first issue is the apparent equating of one’s thoughts with one’s prayers. Would it not be enough to simply say "my prayers are with you"? What difference does it make in the current situation where or not someone it "thinking" about me and my situation? The trouble with our "political correctness" speech is that it is totally useless. When I hear these words I quickly know that the speaker will do neither thinking nor praying.

The second issue is that this phrase reveals the struggle of attempting to keep God out of our society. When unimaginable, unspeakable tragedies or horrors happen, mankind is at a loss. There is nothing that can be said that can help people understand the evil or to put the events in some type of context. It is only in the context of an unchangeable, benevolent, gracious, all-powerful, never-ending God that evil finds its limitations. Nothing else will do at times like that!

All of this has me contemplating the Christian society’s substitution for this phrase. Sure, it sounds a little better. We don’t need to water the phrase down with the "my thoughts" part, we easily rattle off our own canned phrase "I will pray for you". In my own life there is a great gap between the statement and the action. How easy it is to glibly say, "I will pray for you" or "I will pray about that" and go on my way.

As I read the gospels I cannot find a single instance where Jesus told someone "I will pray for you".

As the disciples were walking toward the temple, one day, they were spoken to by a crippled man. How easy it would have been to simply look at him and deliver the phrase and go on with their plans.

I believe that it is time for us to return to the reality of prayer. If some person or some situation is brought to our attention it is for the purpose of us, as people who pray, to pray; not to simply dismiss it and move on.

Challenge yourself, in faith, to offer immediate prayer for these situations. You will be enormously surprised at the response and at the blessing of these appointments.

Please believe me, that the risk you feel you will be taking will be rewarded many, many times and ways.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Who's the Boss?

I'm sure that you have experienced a like situation. I came across a very familiar scripture and, for some reason, saw it from a slightly different angle.

This is the familiar scripture: II Chronicles 7:14

...and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Like you, I have heard and read this scripture many times. This time my attention was brought to one piece of the statement. "humble themselves and pray"!

Leaping into my mind was the thought, "does it really require humility to pray?" Of course it doesn't! We can pray any number of prayers without the slightest bit of humility. "Now I lay me down to sleep", "God is great, God is good, thank you God...." , "Bless dad and mom and all the missionaries of the world".

You know, come to think of it, most of my prayers don't require humility. Is something wrong with the way I am reading scripture, or, is there perhaps something wrong about how I see prayer?

I remember an account of two men the Jesus told his disciples about one day. The first carried an air of superiority claiming his appreciation to God for not being made like other people; the second standing some distance away (wonder why?) simply beat his chest and pleaded with God to be merciful to him, a sinner. Can you feel the difference here?

Humility is not a state of feeling that you are less than you think you are; humility is understanding exactly who you are. It is the stark reality of who we really are that drives us to the point of desperate need that brings us to prayer that is "heard in heaven."

Consider with me what it means to "humble yourself and pray".

Monday, September 1, 2008

Long Distance or a Short Line?

You have probably heard it, perhaps you have even said it, "I feel my prayers just hit the ceiling"
Do we pray to a God Who is far off? To a God Who sits high upon His throne?

Paul sought to disabuse us of our misconceptions with his letter to the Ephesians.

He first established in the readers minds the position of Jesus:

He raised Him (Jesus) from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places…" Ephesians 1:20

He then makes the following statement:

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He love us…made us alive together with Jesus…and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places…" Ephesians 2:4-6

Our prayers have no ceiling between us and God. We just simply must turn our face toward Him and ask.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

He simply could not understand.

For months; no, for years now, he had been asking God to do something! His frustration with the things he continued to see had grown unbearable. Day after day he had prayed; day after day things grew worse.

How long, O Lord, will I call for help and You will not hear?

I cry out to You, "violence", yet You do not save!
Why do You make me see iniquity and cause me to look at wickedness?

Yes, destruction and violence are before me;
Strife exists and contention arises.

Therefore, the law is ignored and justice is never upheld.

For the wicked surround the righteous;

Therefore, justice is perverted.

Honestly laying out his frustration brought brief relief. The intensity of the burden was lessened even though the problem remained.

The moment of peace was quickly shattered by what God had to tell him in response to his pleas!

Look among the nations! Observe!
Be astonished! Wonder!
Because I am doing something in your days –
you would not believe if you were told

"Finally", he thinks. Results; things are going to get done. "Stand back and watch my God at work"!

God continues:

For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans,
That fierce and impetuous people
Who march throughout the earth
To seize the dwelling places which are not theirs,
They are dreaded and feared.
Their justice and authority originate with themselves.
All of them come for violence
They will sweep through like the wind and pass on.

Surely, I didn’t hear You correctly, he thought!

D-d-d-d-d-did you say that you are bringing hordes of violent, Godless peoples to do Your will?

He again prays ( a bit more timidly this time):

Are You not from everlasting, O Lord, my God, my Holy One?

We will not die.
Your eyes are too pure to approve of evil,
And You cannot look on wickedness with favor.

Why do You look with favor on those who deal treacherously?

Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up
Those more righteous than they?

How does this make sense?

The Chaldeans are far more unrighteous than the people that You use them in judgment against.

Maybe you haven’t considered that we aren’t so bad after-all. Maybe, I was a little hasty with my calling for You to fix the state of Your people’s sin.

This clearly wasn’t what I had in mind!

God responds:

the righteous will live by his faith.

(Habakkuk 1 & 2)

So there it is… the good news and the bad news:

The good news? God answers our prayers. Yea!

The bad news? He has chosen to remain God and answer our prayer His way!

The bottom-line good news? He never leaves us guessing; but teaches us in the process!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Balance that Brings Power

The aggravating experience of driving in a car with tires that are out of balance makes driving less appealing.

Likewise, I believe, that over many years the message delivered by the Church of Jesus has been out of balance making it less appealing to non-Christians and to Christians as well.

Paul states: "if Jesus has not been raised from the dead, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith is in vain...and if Jesus has not been raised your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. If we have hoped in Jesus in this life only, we are most to be pitied.
I Corinthians 15:12-19

Here is where we need to consider carefully what is being said.

I am not undermining the infinite value of the message of the cross. The words of Jesus in addition to the statements of Paul to the Corinthians, regarding communion forever establishes the cornerstone position of the atonement!

That said, Paul makes a further case that it is the power of the resurrection that displays the glory of the cross.

You will remember that the followers of Jesus, after His death, were huddled in a secret room cowering at the slightest noise at the door. All of that changed in a moment with the news that Jesus was no longer in His grave.

For too long, the followers of Jesus have been cowering within the confines of their various churches.

The vibrancy of the first century church hinged upon the resurrection:

Acts 1:22 one of these should become a witness with us of His resurrection.
Acts 2:31 and he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ
Acts 4:2 because they were teaching the people and proclaiming Jesus the resurrection from the dead

Acts 4:33 with great power the apostles were giving witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus
Acts 17:18 because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection
Acts 17:32 Now they heard of the resurrection of the dead
Acts 23:6 I [Paul] am on trial for the hope and the resurrection of the dead!
Acts 24:15 a hope that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked
Acts 24:21 "for the resurrection of the dead I [Paul] am on trial before you today
Acts 26:23 that the Christ was to suffer, and that by reason of His resurrection from the dead He should be the first to proclaim light

So it comes down to this: What have we done with the resurrection?

As you approach your prayer time this week, I encourage you to take a few moments to ask Jesus to show you the power that resides within His resurrection.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Wait a Minute There...

Oh, that Thou wouldst rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at Thy presence - as fire kindles the brushwood, as fire causes water to boil - to make Thy name known to Thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at Thy presence!

When Thou didst awesome things which we did not expect, Thou didst come down, the mountains quaked at Thy presence.

For from of old they have not heard nor perceived by ear, neither has the eye seen a God besides Thee, who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him.
Isaiah 64:1-4

"Who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him"; are you willing to wait for such a God?

Be quick to notice what the scripture really says, "acts in behalf of the one" says far more than He answers our prayers.

You see, waiting for God, waiting for an answer, waiting for peace, for help, for health, for financial stability, for ..... is tough because it takes faith!

Without faith it is impossible to please God... Hebrews 11:6

We live in a hurry up world; patience is a thing of the past. We have come to expect what we want when we want it if not earlier. So waiting for God will never be easy. But then, most things really worth having are worth waiting for!

Make a statement to your God about that thing, or that person or that situation that you have been praying for; tell Him that you will wait!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Hope for the Hopeless

Have you ever been in a difficult position? Of course you have, but have you ever been in such a difficult, hopeless position that your heart ached?

I think that is where we find Hannah after years of humiliation and failure brought her and her aching heart to the temple whether in faith or simply in desperation we will never know.

A little background might help us understand Hannah’s heart.

You see, Hannah was one of two women that her husband had taken for a wife. As difficult as this might be ordinarily, the situation that had arisen within this family was that one woman had children but the other, you guessed it, Hannah did not. Well you can’t hide a problem like that for very long. There can be no doubt as to who has the problem.

The matter was complicated by the person that scripture calls Hannah’s rival. The woman who had children "bitterly provoked" Hannah to irritate her.

The situation had become so serious that her husband, who and done various things to show his support and love for Hannah, cries out in frustration to her, "Hannah, why do you weep and why do you not eat and why is your heart sad? Am I not better to you than ten sons?"

I sure that none of us have ever been where Hannah found herself at this point. There is a point where the hurt can not hurt anymore, where one just mentally "throws up his hands" or "throws in the towel"
Scripture tells us that Hannah, was "greatly distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly".

After some interaction with the priest regarding her actions Hannah explained, "I poured out my soul before the Lord".

There are times when we stand strong in the strength of the Lord and we pray with boldness and confidence. There are these other times which seem somehow less valuable; less faithful.

We easily comprehend and admire the faith of a prayer offered by someone who prays like he knows personally the One to whom he talks. To pray with someone who prays expectantly is a wonderful experience. These opportunities are easy and welcome and wonderful.

There are things that we should not miss about the faith of the Hannah type of prayers.

There exists in a believer a level of faith that is buoyed by our convictions, by our experiences or by our commitments. There is yet another level of faith that we find when everything is stripped away and all we find left is the core of one’s being. The times when all pretensions, all suppositions, absolutely everything but one’s existence is let go, a level of faith remains.

This faith is what lies at the very core.

Jesus has written that core faith in the recesses of our hearts (Hebrews 12:2). It will never fail us nor will it ever desert us. It is the direct connection to Him.

( the story of Hannah is found in the book of I Samuel chapter 1)

Friday, August 22, 2008

A New Ballgame

A number of years ago I grew a bit frustrated with one of my children. It seemed so difficult to communicate with him regardless of how hard I tried or what subject I brought up.

One day I discovered a modern parable to help my child understand my concerns.

I invited my child to grab a ball and then sit across the room from me. I asked him to roll the ball to me which he happily did thinking that we were playing a game.

As I caught the ball I simply held onto to it. I didn't play with it or hide it. I just let it lay there.

It wasn't long until he grew tired of this new game and asked me to throw the ball back.

I simply smiled. His insistence grew as did my smile.

After several pleas and several smiles, I simply said, "you know, when I pick you up from school and ask you "tell me about your day" and you simply say "nothing" I feel just like you just did when I didn't throw the ball back to you.

From that time on, all I had to do was mention throwing the ball back whenever we bumped into another session of nothings.

This a lengthy preamble to this week's scripture:

I permitted Myself to be sought by those who did not ask for Me; I permitted Myself to be found by those who did not seek Me. I said, "here am I, here am I," to a nation which did not call on My name. I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people who walk in the way which is not good following their own thoughts, a people who continually provoke Me to MY face... Isaiah 65:1-3

Have you been holding the ball?

Sure, we are always too busy, we are always too preoccupied; too frustrated to pray.

Oops, could He be talking to me? "who walk in the way which is not good following their own thoughts".

"My thoughts are not your thoughts; neither are your ways My ways", declares the Lord. Isaiah 55:8

There is a widely known saying that says, "If you keep on doing what you're doing, you're going to keep on getting what you're getting". As a matter of fact we would all think a person was mentally challenged who repeatedly did the same action while expecting a different result.

So how long will we continue in the folly of pursuing our own thoughts and priorities?

We should be honest enough, at least, to quit complaining about the circumstances and the situations of our lives if we choose to continue in following our own thinking.

Your God is calling out to you, "I am here; I am here". Will you respond or choose folly?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Fulfillment That Gives Freedom

…for truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, no the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments and so teaches others, shall be least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

So Jesus, as always speaks frankly about the things that matter the very most.

It would seem that Jesus is laying a load of legalism upon his hearers. Taken out of the very important context of His total statement it could be understood as so, however Jesus immediately proceeded these heavy words with some other extremely liberating words.

Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.

So there it is: Jesus came as the “fulfillment” of everything contained within the Law and the Prophets. It is only by His fulfillment that we have any chance to missing the judgment of the following message. For those who do not find the Law fulfilled in Him the road is steep and the burden to beyond strength and determination.

Don’t allow anyone, and I mean ANYONE, to lay the load that Jesus took away upon you!

Scripture is taken from Matthew 5:17-19

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Where Can I Go?

Where can I go from Your presence? the psalmist asks.

And continues, where can I flee from Your Spirit?

Have you ever come to grips with the fact that there is absolutely nowhere you can go that God is not already there?

If I take the wings of the dawn; if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Your hand will hold me, your right hand will lay hold of me.

It is one thing to mentally ascent to the fact that God is everywhere; it quite another dimension when you understand that He holds you, even more, that His (strong hand) right hand holds you tightly.

The psalmist finally proclaims, such knowledge is too high for me, I simply cannot attain to it!

These words of the 139th psalm are only the beginning of the description of how tenderly and completely God cares for you. Open the 139th psalm and hang-out there for awhile. While you are there, talk openly with the God who loves you so incredibly even though He knows you completely!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Power in the Name!

What has happened to the Church?

This is the question that has been on my mind for quite a while. No, I don't particularly mean a particular "church". Of course they are not exempt. This question plagued me after walking around the Opening Day for the Colorado Rockies festivities earlier this season.

As I strolled down the street I was take away with the excitement and the anticipation of the people. Without a doubt, there were many people there who didn't even have tickets to the game and couldn't have cared less.

So I openly asked God, why isn't the church anywhere this close to fun and exciting?

I am learning fast that if I ask a question I had better prepare to be up all night. If this message seems a bit scattered it is because the writer only got 1 our of sleep on the night that the question was answered.

So what has happened to the Church?

Almost without exception, the Church is in decline as far as numbers and participation. Even the few rare exceptions are pretty short lived!

Here is what I have learned:

Jesus used a couple of word pictures in discussing, so we could easily understand, His relationship with His church. The first is Jesus as the Head of the Body, the church. The second is with Jesus as the Vine and the church being the branches.

Either of these would work to display what I have learned, however discussing the following thoughts in terms of the former can be a bit gruesome so I will use the vine/branches picture.

Jesus made the point of what happens to a branch that becomes disconnected from the vine. It dries up and is useful for building fires.

This brings me to what I have learned about what is wrong with the church. We have become detached from the power!

Scripture warns us about"(those who are)...Holding to a form of godliness although they deny its power, avoid such people as these" II Timothy 3:5

Where is the power?

In the name that is above every name in heaven and on earth!

Jesus said: " All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth." Matthew 28:18

Therefore also God highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow...and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. Phip 2:9-11

Jesus said, And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Me John 12:32

There is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12 (See Acts 4:10-12)

The one who confesses the son has the Father also. I John 2:23b

Jesus said, For not even the Father judges anyone but has give all judgment to the Son in order that all may honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. John 5:22&23

By this you know the Spirit of God, every spirit that confesses Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. I John 4:23

The scriptures go on and on about the power of Jesus's name.

Revelation chapter 5 discusses a dilemma in heaven. There is a book in the strong "right hand" of God which no one can open. Weeping broke out over the problem. Read the chapter and see Who had the power!

As I look back over the last years , I can clearly see that slippage of the church coinciding with the dismissal of the name of Jesus.

Not meant to represent the totality of the issue, nevertheless, the songs we sing are often an indication of what we believe. Consider some to the songs that were once a staple of Christianity and, particularly, their theme.

Jesus, There's Just Something About That Name.

I Must Tell Jesus

Jesus Loves Me This I Know

Jesus Loves the Little Children

I'd Rather Have Jesus

Jesus Jesus, Jesus, Sweetest Name I Know

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus


Every religion has a "God"

Most religions and several governments have "Lords"

Christ is a title not a name. Jesus said that many "christs" would come before the end.

Only the true church has Jesus!

Let's hook back into the vine and experience the power!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ordinary Days

Just today, as I was driving in busy traffic toward my daily responsibilities, the thoughts about priorities, values and routine floated through my mind. (Now would be the time to feel glad that you weren't driving anywhere near me!)

You know, its not the mountain top experiences that determines your spiritual health; sure we all feel "closer" to God during certain events. What determines your spiritual health is exactly and precisely how you handle the tedium and the stress of the "everyday"!

Scripture is very clear on this issue. "Without faith it is impossible to please God" scripture boldly states. How much faith does it take to sit in a conference and hear a wonderful message taught or to attend a concert where the performer beautifully and artfully lifts your spirits? No, faith is the plain and ordinary days. The days when you feel deserted and tired. God is never closer to you than when you are doing the things that must be done. "I will never leave you nor forsake you" is what He says to you today.

Don't wait for Sunday or for that next mountain high experience to appreciate all that you have been given in Jesus!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Prized Beyond Comprehension

You have seen them, I have too. You know; those far too many makeshift memorials beside the roads and highways that we travel pursuing our daily responsibilities and tasks.

We quickly pass by what is no longer just an ordinary piece of roadway in the eyes of he “memorial makers”. No, something horrific happened to someone close and dear to him or her or to them. It is just to terrible and too untimely an event to allow it to be unrecognized in the eyes of the maker(s); never again will that piece of road be simply an avenue of transportation!

What a poignant example of another deep truth:

Every-time God looks at you He sees the memorial of Jesus. No longer are you just another simple piece of humanity; you are a glowing testimony to a far greater horrific event.

The holy, infinite, glorious Creator God “became sin so that we might be the righteousness of God”.

You are highly prized above even the most glorious of the angels.

Live like it today; live like it everyday!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Getting to Know You

There is an old broadway musical song that begins with the words: "getting to know you, getting to know all about you. Getting to like you, hoping that you like me…"

There is a reason why the phrase is "getting to know you" rather than "got to know you". It seems that knowing someone is more far more complicated that a first look, a few discussions, an appointment or two or even months or years of social interaction.

Many of you know the woman of my dreams and wife, Sheryl. This year we will celebrate our 36th anniversary of our marriage. One amazing thing about 36 years together is that we still draw apart when we have busy weeks and lack of time together. The advantage of 36 years is that we can more quickly diagnose our troubles and move to remove the gap. You see, we are two very different people.

By nature or by nurture, I have become a night person while she is a morning person. She is organized and efficient and I am casual and priority challenged. She is teamwork; I am independent. Thirty six years together hasn’t changed these differences. Instead of change we have adapted to each other.

This is far more information about us than I feel comfortable sharing but the point I wish to make is this: Our time together in terms of years means little when we have limited time together in terms of minutes and hours. It is only by staying in contact that we manage to stay on the same page and maintain the same priorities.

This brings me to today’s scriptural challenge:

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, he prunes it that it may bear more fruit…Abide in Me and I in you.

As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine and you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.

If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it shall be done for you"
John 15:1-2,4-7

That word, "abide" is a critical one isn’t it? Without "abiding" there is appears to be little hope for good. As a matter of fact, lack of "abiding" brings pretty dire consequences.

So many times we want to read the last part of that scripture that says, "ask whatever you wish and it shall be done for you" and skip over the rest. But it is clear the last part is wholly dependent upon the first part; particularly this concept of "abiding".

We must understand that, as in the need that Sheryl and I have for time together to stay in touch, the differences between Jesus and us are so very great and those differences can only be overcome by time together. It is in "dwelling" with Jesus that we are changed, not in an instant (in these matters), but over a lifetime together
Purpose to dwell with Jesus and allow His word to dwell in you!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Life in His Word

Psalm 119:129-144

Your testimonies are wonderful; Therefore my soul observes them. The unfolding of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.

Jesus said, "…if My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you" John 15:7

Much of the reason why our prayers are so timid or our prayer life is so cold is directly related to our time spent abiding in God’s word.

I opened my mouth wide and panted, For I longed for Your commandments.

A longing desire doesn’t come from our absence for the Word. As a matter of fact, our longing only comes from our continued exposure of our spirits to the Bread of Life.

Turn to me and be gracious to me, After Your manner with those who love Your name.

One can only appeal for a personal touch from someone that he knows intimately.

Establish my footsteps in Your word, And do not let any iniquity have dominion over me. Redeem me from the oppression of man, That I may keep Your precepts.

Establishing ones footsteps is a bit more than skipping through, running through, or sitting down. Footsteps are only established intentionally. The establishment of footsteps indicates that there is a firm direction.

What does established footsteps bring? Victory over sins dominion; the heavy handed oppression of angry people; the deep hunger to follow His lead. How does a life like that sound?

Is it worth the exploration?

Make Your face shine upon Your servant, And teach me Your statutes. My eyes shed streams of water, Because they do not keep Your law.

Grace upon grace! Up to this point that prayer is saying that if one abides in God’s word good things come about. Here we take the next step to discover that in God’s pleasure with His tender child, He shines upon him and warms within him the deeper desire to know more fully God’s Word.

Such is the deep, unbridled joy of the one who is praying that a grief arises for what he sees in those who don’t know the blessing of abiding.

( Take a few moments with the remaining thought of this wonderful message. As you drip down the thoughts, speak to Jesus as if these words were penned by you just for Him)

Righteous are You, O LORD, And upright are Your judgments. You have commanded Your testimonies in righteousness. And exceeding faithfulness. My zeal has consumed me, Because my adversaries have forgotten Your words. Your word is very pure, Therefore Your servant loves it. I am small and despised, Yet I do not forget Your precepts. Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, And Your law is truth. Trouble and anguish have come upon me, Yet Your commandments are my delight. Your testimonies are righteous forever; Give me understanding that I may live.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Light in the Growing Darkness

You are the light of the world….Jesus (Matthew 5:14)

Think for a moment about that statement…

What strikes you as you encounter this stark statement of Jesus?

Did you notice that it is a rather certain statement; that He said "we are" not "we might be"?

Light is so very important . Have you noticed that it even jumps out in the darkest night regardless of how far away it might be? The light of one single candle will bring a warm glow and visibility in a dark cold room.

The importance of light was evidenced in the beginning when God selected the time of light creation. The very first act within the account of creation was God’s statement, "Let there be light". Genesis 1:3

Fascinating, beyond comprehension is our God. Light was created on the first day of creation but the sun and stars were not created until day four. The power of light is beyond the vehicles that carry it.

1 John 1:5 states, God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all.

You, undoubtedly, have taken note of the continual battle between darkness and light. Withdraw the light in any room, or in any society, and the darkness moves in. Contrary, interject light into the dark place and the darkness literally flees; it cannot leave fast enough.

John 1:5 says, "the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it."
There is no compromise between light and darkness. They simply cannot exist in the same place at the same time.

You are the light of the world, Jesus said. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a lamp stand; and it gives light to all who are in the house.

How secure is your basket? Perhaps we all should invest some "one on one" time with Jesus seeking His opinion on the size and security of our baskets.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Reality of a Personal God

From time to time I come across things that someone has said that seem to be so profound and so revealing about truth. In addition, my words, in all likelihood, become a little routine after a while.

One of my "heroes" in the Faith is Dr. Francis Schaeffer. His words below resonate so deeply in my mind and heart. I pray that you will be deeply blessed as well. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns about this or any other matter.


I do believe the Trinity can be experienced as the personality of God becomes real to us--as we know His person and not just doctrines about Him. And (perhaps most important) this can be experienced when we in some small measure begin to know the reality of His individual leading as we in moment by moment faith truly desire that He, the infinite person, might lead us, the finite persons.

The spiritual steps which meant so much to me...centered largely around the moment by moment realization of the blood of Christ. I realized then in theory, but now as something deeper than theory, that there is a further step which is more profound in the reality of the universe: this is the reality of taking our place as creatures, willingly and in love, in the presence of the infinite Creator. If we would only stop desiring to be God and, in reality and practice, take our place as creatures, then I think we could get on.

I am not thinking of this in some "mystical" area where God becomes an abstraction, but in strenuously practical areas of history in which we walk. If we would only allow the Agent of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, to lead each individual instead of living in the areas of rules which are man-made and quite apart from the absolutes laid down in Scripture.

If only we would be willing to have Christ be the true Head, and be willing for exotic leadership of the Holy Spirit in our individual and corporate lives--rather than stagnifing the Holy Spirit's leadership of yesterday, as seen in the lives of other men who lived in different historic circumstances, when the infinite eye of God would see today's history as requiring a slightly different or radically different approach; or even stagnifying how the Holy Spirit has led us individually in the past. Why should the Holy Spirit's leading of us today be what it was a year ago, when our historic circumstance is always in flux? To me these things are not an abstraction.

As one small practical application, why do we insist on continuing organizations just because they were useful last week, or last year?

-Francis A. Schaeffer, Letters of Francis A. Schaeffer, Crossway Books,

Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Wise Proffessor

God Brews the Coffee *

A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor at his home. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.

Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups that were porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite. He then invited them to help themselves to the coffee. When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said: "If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress."

"Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups. And then you began eyeing each other's cups.

Now consider this: Life is the coffee; the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of Life we live. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee God has provided us. God brews the coffee, not the cups..........Enjoy your coffee!"~

The Author is Unknown ~

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Faith to Move Mountains

"By this", Jesus said, "is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit." John 15:8

This statement puts many other things in perspective.

In Psalm 57 David prays:"Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, for my soul take refuge in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge until the destruction passes by. I will cry to God Most High, to God who accomplishes all things for me."

In Psalm 138 he prays:"Though I walk in the midst of trouble You will revive me; You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me. The Lord will accomplish what concerns me; Your lovingkindness, O Lord, is everlasting…"

The inter-connection between answered prayer and God’s glory is undeniable. His desire is that we exhibit our faith in prayer and He looks forward to giving us the answers we seek, particularly the ones that we need.

So much does God want us to “get” this that Jesus stated emphatically "Have faith in God. Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea',and dose not doubt in his heart but believes what he says if going to happen, it shall be granted him. Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them and they shall be granted you." Mark 11:22-24

So critical in our faith in the equation that Jesus tells us to stand on the answer so much that we can feel it, taste it and see it. It is then that it shall come to be. Faith is a heaven opening key!

His track record is good. Why not take the next step that He is calling you to take? "Those who know Your name will put their trust in You; for You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You." Psalm 9:10

Friday, July 25, 2008


Perhaps a quick memory, for others an introduction to a comics classic:

Dennis the Menace found himself in a familiar spot. Once again he sat on a stool facing the corner of the kitchen. “Time out” in the corner where he could be monitored was a common position.

As he took his place this time, while facing the corner, he was heard to mumble: “I may be sitting down on the outside but I’m still running around on the inside”.

You know what he's saying? It's just like that whenever I sit down to spend some quiet moments with God and His word. I'm sitting down on the outside but things are running around on the inside. Things may start out peacefully each day but it doesn't take long, most days, for things to begin to unravel. I may be driving quietly on the outside but I'm jumping up and down on the inside.

I have made this statement before. Some of the most wonderful words in all of scripture are the words of a young man named Elihu as he addressed the wrong thinking of an aquaintence named Job. You can find these words in Job chapters 32 through 42. The words of Job, upon coming to grips with the truth about God, are insightful: He said: "

(Until now) my ears have heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. I therefore despise myself and repent in dust and ashes. v. 5&6

We become so easily distracted that we fail to see Jesus. Our ears give us false comfort but it is only when we see God with our eyes that we truely believe.

"I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you may know the HOPE of His calling, what are the RICHES of His glory of His inheritance in the saints (you an me)and what is the surpassing POWER toward us who believe!" Ephesians 1:18

Agree with me on the Ephesians prayer. Personalize it and pray it for yourself. Write it down and pray it for yourself regularly. Life is available if we begin to see Him!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Who You Are In Jesus

Jesus said: "Because you have seen Me, you have believed? Blessed are those who did not see, yet believed!" John 20:29

What do you believe that you haven’t seen?

Let’s take a look about what scripture has to say about us that we may fail to grasp:"Thanks be to God, who always lead us in His triumph in Christ and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place." 2 Corin 2:14

"And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the debt certificate consisting of decrees against us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross." Colossians 2:13-14

"He who did not spare His own Son but delivered Him upfor us all, how will He not also with Him give us all things?" Romans 8:31

"…we overwhelming conquer through Him who loved us…I am convinced that neither death nor life or angles nor principalities no things present nor things to come nor power nor height nor depth nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us form the love of God which is in Christ Jesus." Roman 8:37-39

"God, being rich I mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us…made us alive together with Himand raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…" Ephesians 2:4-6

"…His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness through the trueknowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence."2 Peter 1:2

Like no one else, we have reason to give thanks and to praise our wonderful God! Invest a few moments in reading again God's promisess to you personally. Hold the vision of who you are in Jesus this week.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Too Wonderful to Imagine or Expect

A shepherd boy made king wrote from his experience about his God. David penned these words as he contemplated the felt presence of his God:

Were can I go from Thy Spirit? Or where can I go from Thy presence?

If I ascend to heaven, Thou art there, if I make my bed in the depths, behold Thou are there. If I take the wings of dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Thy hand will lead me and Thy (strong) right hand will lay hold of me. If I say "surely the darkness will overwhelm me and the light around me will be night",

Even the darkness is not dark to Thee, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to Thee.
(Psalm 139:7-12)

The gift that we call prayer is much more simple than we make it most of the time.

Oftentimes, we tend to handle prayer like a ritual or like a prescription. The gift that we have been given is more like a conversation. We are not making a heavenly phone call to a God in some far off place. We are merely discussing the ups and downs, the ins and outs of our lives with the ever-present God.

Even more intimate than this is the plentiful knowledge of this ever-present God. David states, "O Lord, Thou has searched me and know me. Thou dost know when I sit down and when I rise up; Thou dost understand my thought from afar. Thou dost scrutinize my path and my lying down and art intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O Lord, Thou dost knowest it all". (v. 1-5)

We easily ascent to the understanding that God knows everything but we handle the details of our lives as if we were independent.

The illusion of independence is same spirit we discover in the garden of Eden when Adam chose his desires over God’s. We fool ourselves into thinking that what we do won’t matter.

Contrast your view of your life and your relationship with your Creator with the view that the shepherd boy had:

"Thou hast enclosed me behind and before, and laid Thy hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high, I cannot attain to it." (v.6)

So now, the only question that remains is which life will we choose: the existence of the fool or the life with God’s presence?