|Posted on May 1, 2021 at 11:40 AM||comments (0)|
This week Worship Team practice got pretty silly. We were having a bit of a struggle with the sound system, and even the songs weren’t coming together like they usually do. The pressure was on since we were working on a special event that was coming up quickly.
But instead of getting stressed and worried, my amazing team began to joke and play. We started singing some really retro oldies, laughing and teasing each other, and before you know it everything started to come together on its own.
I say on its own… but I really mean that the Holy Spirit began to intervene in what we were doing. You see, worship isn’t just about the perfect chord structure or playing all the notes right. It’s not even about a talented singer or dedicated worship leader. Real worship is pure JOY.
We’re told in Genesis 1:27 that God created us in His own image. We know from those same Scriptures that God shows a wide range of emotions from anger to love. The difference is that our feelings can lead us to sin and despair, while His are righteous and come only from a place of love – there is no sin in Him.
So worship is, in part, a way to harness those very emotions in a godly and productive way. There is no better antidote to the uncertainty and pain of life than simple joy. Psalm 37:12 says that the “Lord laughs at the enemy for He sees his day coming”. God isn’t afraid or concerned, just busy trying to keep us on track. As His children we can have that same confidence. And there’s no better way to build it up than to laugh at the things that trouble us, even when we don’t feel like it.
We’re told over and over to practice joy. It seems counterintuitive to try and feel happy when we’re frustrated, afraid or angry, but I promise this is not just some psychobabble formula. From the depth of my own grief and pain I have found God waiting for me in the littlest moments of hilarity. Abraham Lincoln said “I laugh because I must not cry, that is all, that is all.” Smart words!
And if we can’t believe those words because our own pain is too great, we just need to turn back to the one place we know we can always find truth.
Psalm 100: Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful singing.
Galatians 5: Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. But the Spirit is love, joy, peace…
Psalm 63: For You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy!
Psalm 30: His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.
There are all kinds of things they tell us to practice these days. Mindfulness, intention, positive thinking… I say it all boils down to a single thing -- practice joy. It may not always be our ‘go-to’ emotion, but it is the one thing we can always count on.
If we must work a job we hate, doing it with a spirit of resentment won’t make the time go by any faster. But doing it with joy and a sense of humor will give us perspective. Responding to a bully with the same kind of anger they are showing won’t de-escalate a bad situation but showing the softness and love that comes with joy – that will take the wind out of their sails.
When someone mistreats us or life seems unfair, we can make the choice to wallow around in self-pity and pain, but that’s not going to make it any easier to get through. In fact, all that nasty muck can just get us stuck. Great, right? Just what we need. To stay prisoner to the painful emotions a little longer. But choosing to find the joy in spite of the situation is what will begin to move us through the mess.
Just like at that worship team practice, our response – our choice – can be to find the little bits of joy even in the most agonizingly painful moments of life. There’s no shame in tears, and God understands our hurt and anger. He feels those emotions too, and I know God mourns with us whether our pain is random, caused by another, or self-inflicted.
But we have the power to decide if the inevitable hurt of our human existence is permanent or if we will grab ahold of the promised joy that will “come in the morning.” Let’s practice choosing joy. Let’s choose it together.
Be blessed, my Friend, God is on the throne.
|Posted on April 11, 2021 at 12:05 AM||comments (0)|
This week I heard a quick news brief that said that California might be “opening back up” by June. That was such exciting news! I know we’ve all looked forward to everything around us returning to what we’ve always called normal. I mean, who really likes change?
But it got me to thinking. Before Covid, I could hardly wait for a little vacation. I would run from one task to another, craving the opportunity for a little ‘alone’ time, or a day when I really didn’t have to go anywhere or do anything.
As much as I love church, if I’m completely honest there were Sundays that I just yearned to sleep in a bit and ‘watch’ a great teaching on television – in my pajamas! And let’s face it, a few weeks off work was really not a great ordeal, aside from the pay thing.
I would certainly be lying if I said my house had ever been cleaner than it was about three weeks into the quarantine. All my closets were shipshape, my garage looked amazingly organized, and there was not a single dust bunny anywhere!
But then what? It’s true -- the grass is always (we think) greener on the other side of the fence. That old proverb, traced back to the poetry of Publius Ovidius Naos (43 BC-17 AD) actually means ‘the harvest is always more fruitful in another man’s fields.’ It’s interesting that this saying is popularly quoted in nearly every culture and language, and it has different meanings to different people. But the overall concept explains so much about human nature.
The reality is, we are always yearning for what we don’t have, and chasing after something we are convinced will make us happy. And we’re much more alike than we think. Whether what we want is a new car or bigger house, or just another goat added to the herd. It’s not, as we sometimes think, just a matter of wanting to keep up with everyone around us or even being envious of what someone else has. Many times our discontent is deeply embedded in our own hearts, regardless of the circumstance of our life.
It’s not a problem developed in this fast paced and competitive world of today. In Philippians 4:11-13, Paul writes “… I have learned how to get along happily whether I have much or little. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of contentment in every situation, whether it be a full stomach or hunger, plenty or want; for I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power.” He’s thanking the church for their gifts and support but placing the glory squarely where it belongs – with God.
Paul had sacrificed greatly to further the gospel. He was writing this letter from prison, likely knowing that the eventual outcome of his choice to follow Christ could cost him his life. Greco-Roman thinking of that day emphasized the belief that one should rely only on oneself – not unlike today’s culture.
But Paul knew that his satisfaction and happiness was not limited by his human capability or frailty. His very survival, his every need, was placed where it belonged… on Christ. And that wasn’t just a statement of material or physical desires. Paul realized what we all should, that our contentment and our emotional fulfilment rests solely and safely in our dependence on God.
Galatians 2:8 tells us that Paul was called to be an apostle to the Gentiles. His assignment was to work in hostile territory, among those who didn’t share his faith or his mission. Even as he seemed to be successful in spreading the message of Christ, Christianity was outlawed and Paul was re-arrested. But even in his last days before being martyred at the hands of Nero, Paul spoke of contentment.
In 1 Timothy 6 he simply says “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction… flee from all of this and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith.”
Pandemic or no, social distancing or not, in isolation or out, we must keep our eyes focused firmly on the fact that our happiness and our true contentment is never going to be satisfied by anything available to us in this world but only on the grace of our loving and ever-concerned Father. And we are in good hands because that is the secret to contentment!
Be blessed, my friend, God is on the throne.
|Posted on April 3, 2021 at 2:30 PM||comments (0)|
Springtime is here! This is a time of renewal and regeneration, so when better to celebrate the biggest change that happened for us? Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and His triumphant victory over death didn’t just free His earthly body, it freed us as well. The blood of Jesus paid the price and broke the tie of sin that had caused us to forfeit our place in heaven with the Father, and our own birthright of eternal life. The very moment Christ walked out of the tomb, our lives were forever altered.
The question is, what do we do with that gift. Salvation isn’t the end of the story, it’s just the beginning. We aren’t simply called to be saved from the ties of our flesh, we are called to be disciples. And that is a completely different thing.
Salvation is a gift. Discipleship is a choice. We know that choices can be painful, and they can cost us. But we were designed to be more than just sojourners here on earth. God’s plan was for us to be leaders, motivators, movers and changers. We can travel through life, salvation intact, never being noticed or making waves but that only serves us. We can hang onto the gift of salvation and hoard the blessing, but it is not what we are commanded to do. Jesus told us to “share the good news.” But we can’t do that if we’re so consumed with religious zeal that we leave no room for the encompassing love that we should be showing to those around us.
In Matthew 22:36 Jesus told us that the most important command was to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind.” But He didn’t leave it there. He told us the second command was similar: “love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.” Not only should we value the gift of salvation, but we should honor it by spreading the news of its availability to everyone around us.
We must love even our unloveable neighbors enough to yearn for them to know the peace that we have found. We can’t beat someone over the head with the bible and expect them to understand the beauty and simplicity of the promises it contains. But we can love them into fellowship and discipleship.
We have to get our eyes off the craziness of our temporary homes and learn to have an eternal perspective. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but when we don’t share the gospel, we are taking the chance that we are condemning someone for eternity. If we don’t reach out a hand to the world, who will? There is no commandment that gives that responsibility only to the brave and well spoken. God calls us all to be His mouthpieces – His disciples. That means speaking up for what’s right, living a life of integrity and proclaiming the gospel.
And we must live in a way that is a constant reminder of the love of God. Not just in the big gestures like going out on the mission field, giving a big offering, or evangelizing to huge crowds, but in the everyday little moments of our life. Every action is a witness, and that’s where the choice (and sometimes the burden) comes in.
But there is no gray area in discipleship. 2 Timothy 2:19 tells us that “a person who calls himself a Christian should not be doing things that are wrong.” We have a greater responsibility because we’ve been given such an amazing opportunity. Christ’s sacrifice was the start of the story, but He left us with a job to do.
This is the time of year we are celebrating Jesus’ triumphant victory over death. Let’s take this opportunity to share that victory with others and rebuke the curse of death on their lives. As we move from an earthly perspective to one that looks to eternity, we have to open our eyes wide to the possibilities that God is placing in front of us. There is no better time than now, to be spreading the Good News!
Be blessed, my friend, God is on the throne.
|Posted on March 27, 2021 at 11:15 AM||comments (0)|
We can talk about changing our lives, our attitude, our habits, our lifestyle, our thinking and our world, but real and lasting change is hard! That’s why new years resolutions are so fleeting. We have a vision of the transformation we want, but as Jesus said in Matthew 26:41 “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”
The problem is, we try to make changes on our own steam. Let’s face it, there’s just not enough human ‘juice’ to get the job done for any sustainable length of time. Most who have been successful will tell you that breaking the cycle of addiction is only achieved when we give up our will up to that of a “higher power.” No matter how much we want to lay down whatever harmful thing we’ve become chained to, healing comes when there is recognition that we are incapable on our own. Something bigger and more powerful than us has to be in the mix. And we know that higher power is only God.
We think of Jesus’ words in Matthew 26, and have learned to use it as a kind of ‘funny’ excuse when we don’t do what we should, or fail at some task we've set ourselves to. But they were uttered to the disciples as a desperate plea in His darkest and most vulnerable moment.
Just before Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, and knowing the agonizingly painful time He was facing, Jesus was praying and trying to find peace. Hoping for support and comfort, He looked over to see His friends sleeping. All Jesus wanted was for them to stay awake and join Him in prayer but “their eyes were heavy” and they kept falling asleep. In fact, if we read verse 41 in its entirety, we see that Jesus had asked them to “watch and pray” with Him. Instead, they slept right up until the armed mob came and grabbed the Savior up and took Him to be slaughtered.
Because of the weakness of their flesh, they were caught unawares in the garden that night. The Greek word for flesh as used here, means the human body and nature, with all its moral and physical weaknesses. But the Greek word for “spirit” in this verse is pneuma and refers to the soul or mind of a person. They wanted to do the right thing but they couldn’t overcome the pull of their human nature.
So many times we stumble around doing our best to behave ourselves, have a good attitude and live life in a Christ like way. Our spirits know that’s what we need to do. We even say we want to make a change for the better in our world -- we want to ‘be the change.’ But the same old mess keeps happening. Not just day by day, but century by century.
If we’re honest with ourselves we must acknowledge that we are completely incapable of meaningful change on our own. In order to create lasting transformation in our lives and in our world, we must do as David did after he had committed adultery and completely subverted God’s will for his life. In Psalm 51 we hear his prayer of abject repentance.
First, he acknowledges his wrongdoing, then asks the Father to “create in him a clean heart, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” [V 10]. Not only does David confess to the weakness, but he admits to the fact that his very soul – his pneuma – his mind – needs to be remade. He’s not saying, ‘let me repent and make restitution.’ He’s saying ‘change me because I can’t do it on my own’.
I think the most beautiful part of that passage is towards the end. In Verses 16 and 17 he says “You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; you do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart—these, O God, you will not despise.”
We can’t ‘behave’ our way into God’s favor. He doesn’t love or reward us for our ability to bulldoze ourselves into right thinking. When Christ was on the cross, we were already on His mind, as the old song says. Romans 5:8 tells us that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Our hearts should remain broken for this broken world we live in. White-knuckled sacrifices and living life trying to mold our human thinking into submission will never work. Our minds are willing, but our flesh is so very weak. The real solution is not asking to be the change but to be changed.
Be blessed, my friend, God is on the throne.
|Posted on March 20, 2021 at 11:05 AM||comments (0)|
We’ve had a lot to complain about in the past year, and we’ve done a lot of complaining. We’ve been through a season of plague, financial uncertainty, racial and political unrest – all while being isolated from each other.
Did you know that statistics are showing that many people, even though it is becoming safer and more accessible, are choosing to not return to Sunday services? We’ve gotten accustomed to streaming the service online, studying on our own, or worse – just giving up the practice of a regular worship time altogether.
We know that spirituality and our relationship with God is not contained to a building or a denomination, but it is so easy to slip into a habit of making something besides God the priority in our lives. It’s important to understand that attending church isn’t just about being encouraged – it’s equally critical that we are encouraging one another.
On-line services are great as long as we keep our attention focused on what’s happening on the screen, but they can’t replace the emotional and spiritual connection we get by worshipping with other like-minded Believers. And it’s just too easy to become distracted while watching services on the screen, with no one around to keep us centered.
Studying under the tutelage of a great scriptural scholar, writer or Evangelist is wonderful, but it doesn’t provide the opportunity for an exchange of ideas, and the comfort and strength we get by being united in our sanctuaries, sharing each other’s joy and pain. Without the involvement of a regular time together, how can our family participate in each other’s lives in any meaningful way? By phone, by text… or by looking someone else in the eye and letting them know they aren’t alone? We cannot allow isolation to be our new normal.
In Hebrews 10:25, the Apostle Paul encouraged the church saying “Let us not neglect our church meetings, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of His coming back again is drawing near.” The Greek word for neglect translates to “giving up,” as used when describing desertion and abandonment. He was saying, now’s the time to circle the wagons - not to go off on our own and try to “do life” on our own.
Going to church is an act of worship. Making time in our schedules, getting up out of bed, putting our clothes on, corralling the kids and finding our way into the actual church building is a choice. It’s one we’ve not had the privilege of enjoying for a while and staying in tune with each other has been a challenge, but we’re getting that opportunity again. It’s going to take a minute to start making the choice to fit God – and our family of God – back into our lives. But it is critical.
Proverbs 27:17 says “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” We need each other. It’s that simple. The season of required inactivity is on it’s way out, and the army of God needs to re-gather and prepare for the coming battle. It’s time to re-establish our old alliances, renew our strength as a unit, replenish the coffers, and begin this new season with the strength we get from each other. As the old hymn proclaims:
Onward Christian soldiers! Marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus, going on before
Christ the royal Master leads again the foe
Forward into battle - see His banners go!
Be blessed, my friend, God is on the throne.
|Posted on March 6, 2021 at 3:50 PM||comments (0)|
Listening to a late-night Christian radio talk show, I heard an author say (and I’m paraphrasing a bit) “a woman who raises a son who chooses his spouse over her, blesses God’s heart. But a woman who raises a son who chooses her over his spouse, breaks God’ heart.” I wish I could remember who the speaker was, because the truth of those words has made me reevaluate and reassess a lot of my typical ‘mom’ thinking. I know for certain that I never want to break God’s heart, but it’s so difficult to raise our little ones knowing they are destined to leave us.
Raising a Godly child is not for sissies. There is a balance between being a helicopter parent and letting them get beat up by the world. Our sons and daughters are living in a culture that is no longer predominantly Christian. Worse, this is a time when our very Faith is being mocked and our core values are under attack.
We parents (aunts, grandparents, uncles, church family members, leaders,) have the precious assignment of discipling the generations that are following us. How can we possibly do that if we have no idea of what God wants from men and women. We have so blurred the lines that we are even questioning the basic roles of morality, gender and how God views us.
But we are all created in His image. Genesis 1:27 says “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” It’s easy to ask the question “why?” He spoke the rest of the universe into existence, but on the sixth day He reached down into the clay of the earth and formed a man. Then He breathed life into his nostrils and made mankind.
Scripture tells us that we were “knitted together in our mother’s womb.” No accident there. Ephesians 2:10 says we are His workmanship. And God created each of us with a purpose – not the same one for everyone – but the goal is always that we should be a mirror of Him.
So whether we feel equipped or not, we can’t do less for our children than to implant in them a picture of who they are. Children of God. We have them so short a time. We must nurture them, mold them, teach them and model what it looks like to be Godly reflections of our Father. Even when we’d rather leave the hard stuff to the school principal, their coach, their peers, or the babysitter. I can promise you this. The more the world plants in them, the shakier their foundation will be.
As hard as it is, we can’t keep them to ourselves, nurtured and sheltered from this frightening world. Our toughest job is to let them go. But not before we have planted a true picture of their identity deeply into their hearts. God is not ambiguous about who we are, and neither should we be.
When God assigns us the role of parent, He is entrusting us with our most precious commodity. Proverbs 22:6 says “train up a child in the way he should go even when he is old he will not depart from it.” And trust me, every word that comes out of our mouths, every sarcastic glance, and every kind deed is being measured and assessed. Our children will, by nature, imitate us. Can we take the risk that they aren’t seeing the God who dwells in us?
Like it or not, at some point our children are going to be (we pray) finding a godly spouse and leading our grandchildren – and their grandchildren. If we don’t model the kind of strength of character they need to possess, how will they survive?
Our economic status, physical prowess, beauty or education are all much less important than the intangibles we plant in our young – the sure knowledge of where their strength will come from and who they are in the Kingdom. Scripture isn’t grey, there are no moral questions left unanswered, and we have a sure foundation that can be taught. But only if we are courageous enough to do it and if we understand it ourselves.
Thankfully, we’re not asked to do it alone. We all must gather around the youth, arms linked, holding them up in prayer and by modeling the righteousness of God. And we need to hold fast to the promise found in Isaiah 54:14 that tells us “all your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children.”
We may be faced with turning them out into a scary world, but at least we don’t have to let them go out unarmed.
Be blessed, my friend, God is on the throne.
|Posted on February 27, 2021 at 11:15 AM||comments (0)|
We have to acknowledge that God has a sense of humor. Otherwise, how would we explain the giraffe? Stick legs, bulbous body, teeny tiny head on the top of all of it, and eye lashes that belong on a run-way model.
Or how about the simple honeybee? There’s a popular misconception that bees shouldn’t be able to fly, but it can’t be true because we see them do it all the time. With those chubby bodies and little wings it surely doesn’t seem aerodynamically possible, but the science behind it shows that they achieve lift because of the way they move their wings. Each spin of their tiny little wings generates a mini-hurricane that allows them to accomplish the seemingly impossible feat.
And then there’s you and me. Could there be any more imperfect creature than humankind? We come in all sizes, shapes, colors and varieties. Though we function similarly, there is certainly no way to predict our behavior or our response to any given situation.
Paul summed it up perfectly in Romans 7:15 when he said “I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I can’t. I do what I don’t want to—what I hate.” Even we can’t understand or predict our behavior.
And yet God loves us.
Not just loves us, but chases after us time and again. Through every stumble, every bad decision and every ugly behavior, God’s love for us in unconditional and unending. There’s absolutely nothing we can do to make Him love us more. And thankfully, nothing we do will make Him love us less.
Oh, He will respond to our bad behavior! Sometimes with a chuckle as He picks us up and dusts us off, sometimes with tears because He has to let us wallow around a bit in our own filth. But always with forgiveness and grace.
We act like it’s irreverent to assign humor to God, or any emotion - but He is real and relational. If He weren’t how could He possibly come back and rescue us time and again. He created us, and our world, for the whole gambit of emotions. Ecclesiastes 3 tells us there’s a time for everything… including a time to cry, laugh, grieve, dance, hug…
We are created in the image of God. He understands those varieties of feelings because He shares them. We spend so much time keeping Him up in heaven – aloof, unattainable, sitting on His gold throne and not accessible to us – we forget that He had the humor to create us, and everything around us, just as we are. All God desires is relationship with us. Not one of subservience or fear, but one that is real and intimate. If He feels unreachable, it’s because we’re looking too far away. He’s always right near us, waiting for the moment when we call.
When my mom died, I found a little stash of memorabilia she had left. Pictures and notes to each of us kids, school programs and reports cards, and other little memories that she had held dear. And I found a letter that instructed me how to take care of her financial matters like the life insurance policy, which bills to pay and what I needed to do to keep the family afloat. Because she cared about both – the precious and the mundane. Looking through that file made me see my mom in a whole different way. Not just as my mom, but as a real person.
God left us all with a book of love letters written to inspire, make us laugh, make us understand and to instruct us through the most difficult times of our lives. That’s not a Father who has no discernable emotion, and just rules through fear. That’s a Dad who loves us with all our flaws and just wants us to love Him back in the same way. And when we access that file, we see Him in a whole new way.
If you haven’t figured out how to relate to God on a real level, you just need to open that book of love letters. He certainly has a sense of humor and a desire to show us the real Him. He just wants relationship. Why else would He keep on loving us imperfect funny little humans?
Be blessed my friend. God is on the throne.
|Posted on February 20, 2021 at 11:00 AM||comments (0)|
Regret can be a powerful and debilitating emotion. The older we get, the more it can affect our thinking and our response to the world around us. When we look back at the many choices we’ve made throughout our lives who doesn’t wonder about opportunities wasted, open doors walked past, or wreckage left behind. Like a ghost trying to haunt us, if we allow it to, we can wish our lives away on thoughts of the things we should have done differently.
As our bodies begin to fail in ways we never predicted, we wonder why God would waste robust health on the young. Clearly we didn’t appreciate the miraculous workings of our young bodies until there were so many everyday things we could no longer do. How does time slip through our hands so quickly?
Even knowing what we do about our place in the Kingdom, we can’t help but wonder at how much more we could have accomplished had we just understood the fragile nature of these tents that we occupy here on earth. Regrets. What we could have done, what we missed, the roads not taken as poet Robert Frost said.
But despite our insecurities about our failing bodies, and all the resulting physical limitations we may be coping with, we can stand on the promises of God. Isaiah 46:4, my all-time favorite verse, says “Even to your old age I am He.” In other words, we may change but He does not. He is forever our Abba Father, the source of everything we will ever need.
And the scripture goes on to say “I will carry you. I have made and I will bear; even I will carry and I will deliver you.” These days, when our backs our feeling a little less than capable of carrying any burden at all, that’s no empty phrase – it’s a promise that can sustain and hold us upright during the seemingly unfair progression of time.
And we can be assured that even when the world would try and “retire” us out to pasture, God doesn’t ever view us as used up. Abraham, the father of the 12 tribes of Israel was 100 years old when his son, Israel, was born. His wife, Sarah, was 90 years old when her womb, long passed childbearing, was opened and the promised child was planted inside of her. Her very body regenerated to accommodate the promises of God, and she was even able to nurse the child so he could thrive.
On the other side of our physical timeline, the young shepherd boy, David, was chosen to lead a Nation when God called him to be King, uniting all the tribes of Israel under a single monarch. Even through his moral failures God used Him in mighty ways, saying he was a “man after God’s own heart.”
When we begin to feel used up we need to remember that God doesn’t operate on a continuum that is bound by the laws of our physical bodies or abilities. And He’s not expecting perfection. On the day of Pentecost after Jesus ascended into heaven, God’s power was made available to us through the workings of the Holy Spirit in us.
The power that loosed the chains of death, healed the lame, caused the blind to see and who raised Jesus from the grave lives in you and I. Romans 8:11 says “And if the Spirit of God, who raised up Jesus from the dead, lives in you, He will make your dying bodies live again after you die, by means of this same Holy Spirit living within you.” That means, He also restores us to eternal life, despite the fragility of our earthly bodies.
Even when my husband’s health was failing, if asked how he was doing would reply “I’m still kicking, just not as high.” Regret is only valuable if we use it to avoid future mistakes. A steady diet of looking over our shoulder keeps us from walking in the authority we have by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and the new covenant extended to us. We may not kick as high, but thanks to the power of God we are never too old to kick Satan’s backside.
Be blessed my friend. God is on the throne.
|Posted on February 13, 2021 at 10:45 AM||comments (0)|
Samuel Chadwick, turn of the century Wesleyan minister, said “Confusion and impotence are the inevitable results when the wisdom and resources of the world are substituted for the presence and power of the Spirit.”
Today we are facing some of the most challenging times we’ve ever known. There are opinions flying, video’s being posted, credibility questioned and rumors running rampant. It is incredibly easy to jump on the bandwagon of one side or the other, and let our anger and outrage override good sense. The result, inevitably, is turmoil and division – and not just between us and the world – but between each other.
When these types of battles rage, the only one who wins is the Enemy. 1 Peter 5:8 warns us to “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prows around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” He doesn’t care who is sitting on the right side of the argument. He only cares that there are sides. Because he knows full well that we are weaker when we are divided. We can’t afford to allow Satan to weaken us with fear and confusion.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 says “… though one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Even if we disagree on the issues of the day, our behavior and attitude must be united by our abiding knowledge that real change only comes with humbleness, unity and by seeking God’s face.
We have three strong weapons that we must keep at the ready. When faced with an issue, our primary response should be to ask the Holy Spirit to guide our thinking. Jesus left Him here to direct and teach us, but that’s only possible if we first invite Him into the situation. Otherwise, whether the information is fundamentally true or not, Satan is the one who has hold of our response.
Next, we have to test the validity of the speaker. What is the motivation and the nature of the person or organization who has written, recorded, documented whatever information is being conveyed? Do we see the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives? Is their behavior and history one that would make us believe they can be trusted? And I’m not just talking about titles, party affiliations, or charisma. I’m talking about a real and verifiable walk with God. If there isn’t solid evidence of that, everything has to be questioned, no matter how convenient or brightly wrapped the packaging is.
And finally, do their claims bring order or just more chaos? Is there a scriptural foundation for the information being funneled, or is it designed to bring more confusion and division? 1 Corinthians 14:33 tells us that the God we serve is not one of confusion, but of peace. Even when we’re in the right, there are times when God just tells us we must stand down and let Him do the work. Because continued bickering only sends a message that we don’t trust God to be able to work through every situation.
The world shouldn’t mistake our meekness for weakness, but having the loudest and most angry voice doesn’t make us the victor. We can insist on being right, spending our resources on useless arguments that are not going to change the outcome, or we can begin to work towards diffusing the anger that is fueling the fire, and ask God to help us bring about the lasting change we long for.
Our strength isn’t found in heated rhetoric, but in the eternal power of our Father who fights every battle for us. Isaiah 54:17 tells us that “no weapon that is fashioned against us shall succeed, and we shall refute every tongue that rises against us in judgement. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD and their vindication from Me, declares the LORD.”
Let’s not allow the ‘wisdom and the resources of the world’ strip us of our peace, nor of our deep and abiding knowledge that at the end of the day we win! God said it and we believe it.
Be blessed my friend. God is on the throne.
|Posted on February 6, 2021 at 11:25 AM||comments (0)|
When did we decide we were qualified to be both judge and jury on every single topic? Oh, we tell ourselves we’re not, but the reality is that, realize it or not, we make ourselves feel better by comparing our actions and beliefs with those around us. And no matter how hard we try and fight that embarrassing human trait, it sticks like glue.
I’m sure that’s why scripture has so thoroughly covered the topic. Matthew 7:1 clearly and simply says “judge not lest you be judged.” And everywhere Jesus taught, he warned against getting trapped by an attitude that made us focus more on someone elses’ bad thinking while ignoring our own. But in spite of the clarity of the words we seem to be increasingly intolerant of our fellow sojourners here on earth.
We can mask it however we want to. We really “prayed up and read-up” Christians may even call it truth, or standing up for biblical principles, but the reality is that we aren’t qualified to judge, measure or even criticize each other. We are only called to love.
Does that mean we can’t answer the question of whether something is sin? Of course not! But should we feel entitled to determine for someone else what their walk with God should look like? Of course not! We are unqualified bystanders when it comes to judging someone else.
And Scripture is very clear about who is qualified. Psalm 50:6 says Let the heavens declare His righteousness, for God Himself is Judge. And in Psalm 9:8 we’re told He shall judge the world in righteousness, and He shall administer judgements for the people in uprightness.
The truth is, because we can’t know someone’s motivations or relationship with God, and we will certainly never be completely righteous while here on earth, we aren’t equipped to decide anyone’s ultimate fate, or even their day to day walk. The Old Testament is full of passages that clearly tell us that only God is the judge of humankind. And the New Testament tells us He committed that authority over to His Son after the Resurrection (Matthew 28:18).
We must pull anger and condemnation from the equation when dealing with those around us. No matter what we think, that is way over our pay grade. Because when we view the world we must remember that God’s end goal has always been restoration not separation.
Self-preservation may require us to distance ourselves from those around us who are living in a way that is contrary to God’s plan or damaging to our own walk. But we should still strive, ultimately, for reconciliation. Unbelievers need to be shown who Christ is and be reconciled to Him, and believers need to mature in Christ and be reconciled to each other. That won’t happen if we simply walk away or respond with self-righteousness.
Don't misunderstand -- I'm not saying that sin isn't sin. Or worse, that there is no sin. I’m not even saying what someone else is thinking or doing might not be wrong. But we can’t beat or berate someone into right thinking. They must be led, with love and Holy Spirit discernment, into recognizing the areas of their life that God may need to clean up.
If we see someone stumbling and we believe that what they are doing is completely contrary to what God wants, we can pray for them, reach a hand out, or even council them if they ask for it. And if it’s affecting us we should certainly approach them with it. But we better do all of that with the humble spirit that acknowledges our own weaknesses. And we need to avoid that "plank" in our own eye. It's easy to tell ourselves that we are acting in "righteous" indignation, when really there's very little about us that is righteous at all.
Ultimately each of us will work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. But that will happen when we're faced with God, not with each other. Here on earth our only task is to bring others into fellowship with God, and to model the love and humbleness that Jesus taught.
Before God can truly heal our land – and us - we need to begin seeking His heart when dealing with one another, so we are educating, not annihilating.
Be blessed, my friend. God is on the throne!