Thursday, December 18, 2014
John 14:15-21: "If you love me, you will obey my commandments. I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, who will stay with you for ever. He is the Spirit who reveals the truth about God. The world cannot receive him, because it cannot see him or know him. But you know him, because he remains with you and is in you. “When I go, you will not be left all alone; I will come back to you. In a little while the world will see me no more, but you will see me; and because I live, you also will live. When that day comes, you will know that I am in my Father and that you are in me, just as I am in you. “Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. My Father will love those who love me; I too will love them and reveal myself to them.”
According to this particular set of scriptures, we know that Jesus was preparing his team for his absence, and the upcoming set of difficulties. He specifically and blatantly tells us, we express love for Jesus by obeying His commands. To love Him wholeheartedly, we must develop a lifestyle of obedience. Let's look at four aspects of such a lifestyle.
1. Our trust in Jesus grows. This confidence comes from believing that the Lord is who Scripture says He is. And God's Word tells us that He is good—as well as faithful to keep His promises (2 Cor. 1:20). Psalm 86:15 calls Him merciful, gracious, loving, and slow to anger. His character remains unchanged by difficult or hard-to-understand circumstances (Heb. 13:8).
2. We develop a deepening ability to wait on the Lord/move when God says move. Delays can be hard in our I-want-it-now culture. But we must resist temptation and wait on Him instead of running ahead, or assuming that patient waiting is equal to "no." We must also be ready to move and act when God tells us to move or act. Waiting and acting are two sides of the same "coin of trust" on obeying God. If we trust God, we obey God - whether the answer is to wait or act.
3. We commit to obey God. Without such a resolve, we'll vacillate at decision time or allow fear to prevent us from choosing His way. When the answer really is "No," we must be willing to accept that and move on. And we must be willing to accept an answer of "Yes," even when we don't want to pick up, move or follow the cloud by day, and fire by night.
4. Our study of Scripture becomes consistent. The Bible reveals God's priorities, commands, and warnings. It acts as a light, illuminating His chosen path for us while revealing obstacles and dangers along the way (Ps.119:105). Without it, we are like a person who walks in the woods at night without a flashlight.
Becoming a Christian, and following the teachings set forth by Christ, doesn't mean that obedience to the Lord is automatic or that we are made into robots. It's a lifelong process of growing in our trust and patiently waiting on Him before we act, and acting on faith and trust when called upon to do so, even immediately. This requires a steadfast commitment to obey so that we can say no to ungodly choices, doubt and inaction and yes to God, love, trust, and the peace that comes from doing what God says.
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Thursday, December 4, 2014
Romans 5:1,2: "Now that we have been put right with God through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. He has brought us by faith into this experience of God's grace, in which we now live. And so we boast of the hope we have of sharing God's glory!"
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
If you do, then you are blessed. People rarely know where they come from, their heritage and have a good grasp on who they are to be. Ancestry.com makes a lot of money selling this dream to people that with a few clicks, you can "know" where you come from. You can "know" who your ancestors were and connect with other descendants in your family tree. But does that tell you what you want to know? Does that tell you the full story of you and your people?
Many Christians are experiencing an identity crisis.
They know they’re "saved," but they don’t really know what to think about themselves. I say this, and I already know that three of you have stopped reading here. You roll your eyes. You think that this won't pertain to you. Some of my Apostolic friends are already nervous that this will be about standards. Maybe it will be about standards to you. If the BIGGEST trial you ever face is getting your personal control over how you present your body to God, then GOOD FOR YOU. If you skirt length or the color of your hair is truly what stresses you, then you need to get out more. There are real struggles in the world.... like folks getting shot and murdered in foreign lands for admitting they follow Jesus. Or even gunned down just walking the street in their own hometown. 1 in 6 Americans... think on that... ONE IN SIX AMERICANS are underfed or go hungry. So, maybe this will resonate with you about your personal modesty. Maybe living for God is hard for you on something as simple as looking and talking like a Christian. I hope, though, it doesn't. Maybe it won't. Maybe this will reach deeper to you. There are folks that fight every day to live drug free, alcohol free and to live a life that doesn't lead to death, prison, or shame. Surely living a Christ-like life in American can't be your biggest obstacle? Not with all He's done for all of us. Maybe this will reach to the substance inside of you. Maybe the author of your salvation, and the measure of faith given to us all will rise up and read this for what it is intended... Or maybe some of my friends that subscribe to NO GOD will think this is stupid. Maybe this is about you. Or maybe my friends that think that just being a decent person will work and that we all end up at the same place with just different roads... maybe you think I'm talking to you. Maybe I am...
Maybe, for all of you, thinking that it's about you IS the very action makes this ALL about you. Let’s take a little test. Do you consider yourself a sinner saved by grace or a saint who occasionally sins? Huh? Let me repeat this. Do you consider yourself:
- A sinner, but you have been redeemed and saved by grace, or
- A saint, but you know you are not perfect and still need God's grace
1 Corinthians 1:1-9: "From Paul, who was called by the will of God to be an Apostle of Christ Jesus,and from our brother Sosthenes - To the church of God which is in Corinth, to all who are called to be God's holy people, who belong to him in union with Christ Jesus, together with all people everywhere who worship our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours: May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. I always give thanks to my God for you because of the grace he has given you through Christ Jesus. For in union with Christ, you have become rich in all things, including all speech and all knowledge. The message about Christ has become so firmly established in you that you have not failed to receive a single blessing, as you wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be faultless on the Day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is to be trusted, the God who called you to have fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord."
Saturday, November 29, 2014
But the country, with Thanksgiving and it's associated smudge on our nation, remains in a state of tension and unrest. With the turmoil of Black Friday (and the, no less than, three videos of people harming one another over things like a stuff toy, or in one case...foundation garments. Yes, pannies...), we are still experience unrest in places like Ferguson, St. Louis and places where people are really hurting. People are genuinely wondering if it will ever get better.
Jeremiah 6:13-15: "Everyone, great and small tries to make money dishonestly, even prophets and priests cheat the people. They act as if my people's wounds were only scratches. 'All is well,' they say, when all is NOT well. Were they ashamed because they did these disgusting things? No, they were not at all ashamed; they don't even know how to blush. And so they will fall as others have fallen; when I punish them, that will be the end of them. I, the Lord, have spoken."Um... That sounds like our world today. Doesn't it? No? You don't think so? Let's see:
--Corporate greed and money being the biggest issue: Check.
--Everyone wanted a deal, an angle, or a hook up: Check.
--Even churches and the preachers being concerned about money and politics: Check.
--People minimizing hunger, poverty, and civil exhaustion from inequality: Check.
--People in power minimizing the damage to the population from greed: Check.
--People saying... it's all okay, even when it's not: Check.
--Lack of shame for misdeeds and sin and harming others: Check.
The scary part is what comes next. God is getting tired of it all. And when God says it will fall, and punishment will come... then it WILL. When God says that something will come to an end, it will. But... is that it? Is there nothing we can do? Is this dismal view the end? No.
Colossians 1:15-20: "Christ is the visible likeness of the invisible God. He is the firstborn Son, superior to all created beings. For through Him, God created everything in heaven and on earth, the seen and the unseen things, including spiritual powers, lords, rulers, and authorities. God created the whole universe through Him and for Him. Christ existed before all things, and in union with Him all things have their proper place. He is the head of his body, the church; He is the source of the body's life. He is the firstborn Son, who was raised from death, in order that He alone might have the first place in ALL things. For it was by God's own decision that the Son has in Himself the full nature of God. Through the Son, then, God decided to bring the WHOLE universe back to Himself. God made peace through the Son's blood on the cross and so brought back to Himself ALL things, both on Earth and in Heaven."Jesus IS God. And through Jesus, we are able to be reconciled to Him by His sacrifice for us. Otherwise, there were laws... SO MANY laws to be kept. Detailed, complex laws. Before we knew Jesus, our lives were full of selfish, hedonistic, godless and wicked endeavors. I know, for me, that I had self-seeking ways. To quote "The Talented Mr. Ripley,"
"Well, whatever you do, however terrible, however hurtful, it all makes sense, doesn't it? In your head? You never meet anybody that thinks they're a bad person."How true is that? We justify EVERY thing we do. We have stubborn, unrepentant hearts (Rom. 1:18; 2:5, 8). And yet, we long for peace. Pageants are filled with hopeful young women that answer: "World Peace" when asked for what they wish. And like our strife-filled world, we clamored for peace and tried to find it, but our efforts failed. Humanity has FAILED.
--Don't give up on people yet; don't judge others or their pain just yet.
--Be a minister of reconciliation. Be a peacemaker. Be a person that looks on civil unrest and disparate lives with mercy and compassion.
--Your life was much like any other person before Christ. Don't forget where God brought you from and look on others that NEED God with mercy.
--Don't look on others in judgement, because some of US were just like that, or worse.
I love y'all. Be good to each other.
Thursday, November 27, 2014
Great Is Thy Faithfulness: So Thankful...
#DailyProverbs 1 Chronicles 16:30-34: "...The earth is set firmly in place and cannot be moved. Be glad, earth and sky!
Tell the nations that the Lord is king.
Roar, sea, and every creature in you; be glad, fields, and everything in you!
The trees in the woods will shout for joy when the Lord comes to rule the earth.
Give thanks to the Lord, because he is good; his love is eternal."
One year ago, I was in the middle of turmoil. I was gravely ill. I was heartbroken over the loss #MamawSue. I was confused by the dreams the Lord was giving me. I was in limbo. I was not in church, and yet, I was no longer in old habits of the world. Thanksgiving was hard... But it was all working towards a purpose. God's faithfulness and planning are immaculate...
July 15th was the day a sweet couple reached out to me... They really don't realize how much I was affected.
August 20 was the diagnosis that scared me. I was ready to quit. I was ready for death...
October 20 was the turning point where I tried, but only for those around me. I still didn't get it...
November 2 was a loss that rocked our family, and a mantle of prayer was given to me that I wasn't sure I was ready for...
December 21st was the miracle that changed my life forever. Drs. Payoosh & Patel still keep in touch...
As specific anniversaries pass of comfort, fear, loss... I'm left to wonder; without each step, who knows if I'd have had the same outcomes. Without each puzzle piece, who knows where I would be. God's faithfulness and detail is immeasurable. I write a lot in exhortation of others. I minister to others. But this was to me, for me, and about me. God was faithful to me. As the anniversary looms of God's divine intervention in my life, and the miracle that paved the way for the biggest miracle of my existence... here's what I know:
I'm alive. I'm healed. I'm forgiven. I'm saved. I'm restored.
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Moses was talking to God years before he had to actually do anything. He spent time with God. He and God communed. He learned God. That's what gave him the strength to do unpopular things.
How must Moses have felt when God directed him to confront his adopted brother?
How must Moses have felt to know that God told him to disrupt the country in which he grew up?
How must Moses have felt to know his nephew was dead?
Pharoah, and those in power had marginalized and vilified the Jewish people. The Israelites were crucial to business and labor, but at the end of it all, they were slaves and abhorred by the Egyptians. Yet, Pharoah never relenquished his hold or his power. He never "mistreated" his slaves, per se. Only punishing those that "deserved" it. Many of the Jews were comfortable in Egypt. They loved their captivity. Many were prominent. They were well-respected, but they were still slaves, and still looked on as inferior. The thing is... it was still slavery and it was still not in God's greater plan.
It took TEN plagues and curses from God for Pharoah to admit that the power had been ripped from his hands and that the Israelites could go to freedom. The last resulted in the death of all of the first born children to each family. It took that for the leaders and people to realize that this could no longer go on.
Not only that, but the Jews plundered the Egyptians for their gold, silver and clothes for their journey to freedom. They were actually funded through their captors. And they miserably marched on... They went through the Red Sea on dry ground, only to still complain of the journey ahead, the journey as it went, and the journey away from comfort into freedom and responsibility.
Ask yourself a few questions:
--God always has a plan. You can be IN it, or you can get run over BY it. Which do you prefer?
--When people are hurting, enslaved, and marginalized... what is your attitude about it? What will God have to do to you to get your attention? Can you learn by Plague 1, or does He have to keep going through Plague 10?
--When you judge others for their methods and their ways of expression in worship, or in pain, or in disappointment to life events, someone is judging yours as well. What would you like from God? How would you like to be treated by God? Then treat others that way. Yes, it's that simple. God told us He would treat us and judge us by the judgement we show others. That's scripture.
--Are you an Egyptian in this story? Do you lord over others or prevent freedom? Do you do that in life? In work? In finance? Do you do that spiritually? Do you harm others with your mouth and your words? Do you harm others with your vote? If so, how? How can you change that?
--Are you an Israelite? Are you grumbling that your freedom costs and is hard? Do you wish you could have it both ways? That your slavery, inaccountability, comfort, and finances flowed freely, but you were considered free? Do you wish you could just nap and forget about it all? Are you tired to the point of giving up and stopping? Well, you will NEVER get to Canaan and your promised land if you REFUSE to leave your comfortable captivity in Egypt. Get up. Keep Going.
Some of you will read this and interpret current events. Good. That's good if you see that. Some of you will read this and take this as a spiritual application. Very good. Leave your spiritual bondage and start your Exodus today. Do it without hesitation. Some of you will read this and wonder who it's aimed at, and if it's liberally slanted for current politics, or if I'm being conservative and talking about leaving sin and worldliness...
Good. Think of those things. You should leave your sin behind you. And you should find yourself leaning towards helping the poor and hurting. Why must we assume those are mutually exclusive: to be conservative and holy in our love of God and liberal and helpful with our love to humanity? Why not assume both are possibly and follow the scriptures?
I love you all.
Jesus loves you all.
Now, get up and go do something good for someone.
Thursday, November 20, 2014
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
|1944 - Papaw James WW2|
We called him Papaw James.
He loved his family. He loved my grandmother fiercely and nearly insanely, and he loved his children. When the time came and he had grandchildren, he loved us. He would constantly play with us, talk to us, and yes... reprimand us. He was of an older generation that were stricter, but he was one of the most hilarious people I have ever known.
|1944 - Papaw James|
My grandmother told me: "Darlin', knowing yourself is important, but 'being' yourself is overrated. Be whoever you darn well want to be." She meant that, too. I think she was nearly prophetic. Don't accept whatever is handed to you. Don't be what you are told you must be. Look inside, find that spark, find that fire and be who you want to be. Be the best you you dream up! Be more than people can imagine for you!
|1944 - Papaw James & Bunt Henderson|
Do you have coworkers that served or are serving?
Do you have friends that you respect that served?
Remember that most go away as children. They leave as freshly scrubbed 18 year olds and come back older. They come back having seen things we may never see, or never know. I romanticize my grandparents and my family because we all sat around together. Those stories were passed to us, including the horrors. My family loved one another, supported one another and prayed for one another. We kept each other. Not all veterans have that. Reach out to veterans and thank them.