Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Answer is NOT a Cliche'

Have you ever experienced a time when a thing that seemed to be accepted and understood by just about everyone else, you just couldn't agree with?  Somehow, the way you saw it, the way you heard it, it just wasn't as right and wonderful as everyone else seemed to think it was. 

That's how the very popular "WWJD?" movement struck me. (What Would Jesus Do?)  I tried to see it as everyone else did.  I do agree that we are supposed to be light and salt to the world.  We are supposed to strive to be like Jesus.  We certainly can't go wrong if we think about how Jesus would handle things and then try to handle them the same or in a similar manner.  

Except.....  except that we are not in the same circumstances or the same culture as Jesus when He walked the earth.  But that wasn't really the issue with this.  My biggest issue was "Yea, but Jesus is DIVINE in nature, and I am sinful in nature!"  His thoughts are so far above my ability to even think at all!  His ways are so far above my ability to grasp the enormity of them!  My issue wasn't trying to think about how Jesus would do things; my issue was about people with a sinful nature, trying to behave as if divine in nature. That they would eventually get so discouraged at failing to get it right that they would just GIVE UP ALL TOGETHER.  

My point of view is that we need all the encouragement we can get, and I'll take that encouragement every time.  But for it to be of lasting value that results in real growth that is sustainable and transforming it has to be of the Holy Spirit.  Our thinking isn't going to hit that mark on a regular basis. Taking into consideration that in spite of Paul's exhortation that the scriptures aren't of any "private" interpretation, the fact is that every one of us interprets for ourselves at some point in some way, what we "think" the stories we read in the bible mean and how we "think" they apply.  There's just no getting around that fact.  We've all got some things right, and we've all got some things wrong.  And none of us can truly say for absolute certain which is which.  It's all opinions.  This is why there are "all those denominations" by the way! One small doctrinal belief here, one divergent doctrinal belief there and a whole new religion is born! 

There is an answer.  It isn't a cliche' intended for bracelets and T-Shirts and necklaces and stickers and easy answers to tough questions.  It isn't a slogan or motto or mantra to chant.  

It's TRUTH.  Its the WAY.  Its LIFE.

It is a "HE" and His name is Jesus.  JESUS IS THE ANSWER.

No matter what the question, the dilemma, the problem or the issue.  Jesus is the answer in every form and fashion, without fail.  Every time.  All the time.  (John 1)

You need a word in due season?  JESUS IS THE WORD

You need a friend who understands?  JESUS IS YOUR CLOSEST and MOST LOYAL FRIEND

You need a whole new life or just some changes made?  JESUS IS LIFE

Whatever the need; the answer is JESUS.  He came in the form of a babe, fully divine and fully human NOT so that He could relate to us as human beings.  He already did relate. He has always related perfectly.  He created us.  He thought us up, not the other way around.  He understands us to the end that even the thoughts and intentions of our hearts are not hid from Him even though even we ourselves don't always understand ourselves! (Hebrew 4:12)

No, He didn't come as a baby so He could relate to us.  He came as a baby so WE would be able to relate to HIM!  So we would understand that He understands us, that He knows how hard it is to know what the right thing to do is and choose it each and every time.  He wanted us to be able to relate to Him so we would call on His name and trust in Him.

We are to let His Word dwell in us richly (Colossians 3:16).  

His word tells us to walk by faith and not by sight (II Corinthians 5:7)

When we call on His Name, we are Saved (Acts 2:21)

When we submit to Him and yield to His Holy Spirit, then we will walk in agreement, yoked together with the Creator of all Heaven and Earth, and find that no matter what we face, He is the Answer we need, want and can count on every time without fail.  It requires our submission and yielding and letting and walking and calling because He never barrels past our free will to choose.  We choose Him and discover we get EVERYTHING ELSE along with it!  

And that's not a cliche'.  That is the TRUTH because He is the TRUTH!  

Here's to a New Year filled with TRUTH, LIFE and the WAY for all of us both in this life and ETERNALLY.  


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Queen Ann's Beheading

Back in the 1530's when the petulant King Henry ruled in what was then one of the three major powers in the known world, there lived a young lady named Anne Boleyn. Whatever the origin of her relationship with the King and the reasons for it's abrupt end, we will probably never know anymore than what has been conjectured already.

But there was a thought that gripped my heart the other night as we watched a historical re-enactment of that particular story.

It is supposed that Anne, while not necessarily the one who introduced "reformation" to the King of England, certainly spurred him on to embracing it and rejecting the power of the catholic church over every aspect of civilian life, as had been the tradition.

As I watched scenes of Anne praying fervently, and reading her Bible,exhorting her ladies-in-waiting to exude virtue and spurn lewd behavior I started to think.  How was Anne any different than any of us who trust in Christ?


  • She believed she had the privilege of a personal relationship with Christ Jesus that wasn't dependent on intercession of another human being such as the clergy. (In her day this made her a "reformer" which was itself punishable by death.)
  • She committed "sins of the flesh" in spite of her confession of faith.  Dare any of us raise our hands as innocent of that transgression?  I know I wouldn't!  We fully believe and expect that when we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and forgives our sins.
  • She asked God to deliver her from the unrighteous  accusations against her which were about to cost her her head!  No self respecting God-fearing woman would have failed to do so, so I'm certain she did ask for Gods favor in her unfavorable circumstances.
Having spent a great many years traveling around the United States and taking part in church services in many different regions, we have been exposed to a variety of prayer styles.  Yet one thing all have in common is the assumptive prayer of Gods favor.  Trusting we are forgiven, we also trust that forgiveness comes with deliverance from hurtful, painful circumstances.  The reality is that this is not the case.  

We ask the question often because although there have been numerous attempts made to answer it, none have ever been truly satisfactory.

WHY DO BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE?

Why was Anne Boleyn's life cut so short?  Historical records indicate she wasn't at all guilty of the charges brought against her.  Was she worthy of death simply because her body was unable to carry additional children to term?  Was she worthy of death because the King had simply tired of her?

Or was she, like so many others, just the unhappy victim of the sinful nature and behaviors of others?

The very answers to those questions may be the glimpse we need into the answer for each one of us.  For all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God.  The very words we speak and the actions we take intertwine with the words and actions of others and then affect every one of our lives for ill or otherwise.
  
It isn't that we are simply the victims of circumstance, but we are subject to the fallen sinful actions of ourselves and others around us.  Our prayers certainly fall on the loving ears of our Heavenly Father and in His Eternal Wisdom His intervention will be based on the outcome most necessary to His will being accomplished for ourselves and for others.

Right now, this remains an unsatisfactory answer.  But one day, we will know even as we are known and then it will all make perfect sense.  Our viewpoint is so limited.  We cannot see past our wants, needs and desires.  We have a very hard time looking past what is best for us and seeing what is best for others, especially when it is going to cost us something.

This is why trusting in the Lord is such a big deal.  Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.

Our understanding is finite; His is infinite and has no selfish agenda whatsoever.  Our question shouldn't be so much "Why" as it should be "How"?  How do we trust God with all our hearts when the circumstances are so difficult?  The answer to that question will give us greater peace as we allow His grace to guide us in our times of trial and tribulation.  We all must choose for ourselves to ask that question instead of the more selfishly motivated "Why, God, Why?"

Meanwhile, as you need prayer, it would be our privilege and joy to pray for you!  Just fill out the prayer request form found at the top left of this website.  Without doubt, prayer is a powerful and life altering action that benefits every one us!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Work and Strive or Rest and Receive?

 As human beings subject to the flesh that clothes and houses our bodies and souls there are more than enough opportunities for us to “work” on ourselves. Male and female alike, though as a girl I can vouch that every girl does this, looks at themselves and about all we see are our flaws. Slight flab there, not quite the chiseled jaw line here; that kind of thing. I believe it would be the same with our souls, if we could look at them in a mirror. We would notice only the many imperfections, both slight and obvious.

Paul the Apostle, a righteous fellow who recognized how very flawed he himself was, encouraged believers to “work out” their own salvation with fear and trembling. He certainly wasn't hinting that we are responsible for saving ourselves, but only that the gift of salvation would be an intimate and personal journey, not exactly the same for each of us.

This weeks dilemma that we will consider is how we might respond to the biblical instruction that we are to "Be Holy even as God is Holy" (Leviticus 11:45 & I Peter 1:16) while realizing that we cannot ever attain that state in and of ourselves. We cannot work for it, earn it or make it happen no matter what we do, so God graciously provided an absolute solution. Through the work accomplished on the Cross where Jesus freely sacrificed Himself for us, we can be clothed in the righteousness of Christ Jesus.

When we rest in, recognize and accept that truth then our energies and efforts will be freed to move forward doing the activities God has instructed us to do because our focus isn't wasted on trying to do for ourselves that which God has already done. These include to:
  • feed the hungry
  • clothe the naked
  • visit those in prison
  • remember the orphans and the widows
I think of it as similar to the story in the Old Testament when God told the Israelites “I place before you Life and Death”. (Deuteronomy 30:15 – 19) I think He made it so they could see the goodness, light and joy of life. They could also see the darkness, misery and emptiness in Death. On top of all that God GAVE them the right answer. CHOOSE LIFE. Yet still some chose DEATH! (Oh why do we do that?!?)

I see so many people in the Church who read that we are freely clothed in the righteousness of Christ. They read and hear about the effortless joy of choosing to trust and believe and REST in the peace of being clothed in the righteousness of Christ Jesus. Yet even though we can see the exhaustion that results from constant activity we still tend to strive uselessly and hopelessly to clothe ourselves in righteousness thorugh our works. Even though we are taught clearly that our own righteousness will NEVER be anything but filthy rags. We see it, yet we cannot seem to help but attempt on our own to gain that which God has already freely given us.

James 2: 14-26 offers a marvelous solution with understanding, bringing out the importance of faith while acknowledging the necessity of actual actions being taken. It isn't enough to talk about the things that need to be done. And it doesn't make sense to do things without really understanding the how and why of them. Blending and balancing the two leads to making what may be the finest choice you ever make.


God does such a fine job and needs no help from us, so lean back into His loving arms and let Him clothe you in righteousness. Then you get the joy of fulfilling His plan and purpose for your life. Simple. Joyful. Peaceful. Isn't that grand?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

FRIENDS


This week, I was wondering if you would take a little journey with me?  It will be a journey of personal discovery and it may very well change some things in your life.  It could even change everything, and not just for this moment but for all the rest of your life.

Imagine with me that we are living our lives and Jesus is real and alive at this time, too.  Imagine you are going about your daily routines, living your daily life, when suddenly you are confronted by Jesus personally, and called to go along with Him.  He wants you, specifically you, to simply hang out with Him.  As far as you know He’s the most interesting character of the century, popular in every venue, voted “MOST” in every category, the celebrity of all celebrities – and He has invited you to become a close personal friend.

You accept and for the next three years you are privy to every moment of every day.  You watch and observe and are part of every circumstance.  You and Jesus have shared meals, shared laughter, shared stories, shared sadness, shared joy, shared triumphs and shared failures; your own and those of Jesus’ other comrades.  In all of it, Jesus has taught you, strengthened you, encouraged you and given you every reason to hope.  You have been witness to extraordinary miracles you would never have imagined possible!

You have been witness to the most incredible of situations and watched the everyday ordinary become the means to the marvelous bordering on unbelievable.  But you saw it with your eyes, you heard it with your own ears and you know that you know that you know it has all actually occurred.  By now, you think you know Jesus really well, and you have become good buddies, great friends who always have each others backs.

After all of that, Jesus comes to you with a question.

Matthew 16:13-15; Mark 8:29; Luke 9:20
When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi He asked His disciples “ Who men say that I, the Son of Man is?”  So they said “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them “BUT WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM?”

The moment of truth has arrived.  It cannot be taken for granted, but must be answered.  This is the question each of us must answer for ourselves.  This is the question that leads, not to just knowing who Jesus is, but to our understanding who we are.  In my own years of learning to walk with the Lord and in working in ministry sharing about the Lord with others, I have found that how someone defines Jesus, defines who they really are. 

How you honestly define Jesus within the context of who He is TO YOU, I've discovered, says more about defining yourself than defining Him.

I say that because He is who He is no matter what you think or feel or believe about Him.  But who Jesus is to you will influence and dictate your every action, belief, your heart and ultimately define who you are!

A concern in this area is when we say with our mouths that he is Lord but live as if no opinion but our own will be considered in deciding our actions.  In this case our very actions loudly declare that we ourselves are Lord of our life and not Jesus at all! 

If we believe He is just a nice prophet who said some useful, honorable things, then we may walk with some integrity, yet still choosing for ourselves which teachings we will follow and which we will disregard.

When truly we understand, accept and live with Him as the Lord and Savior of our life, then and only then will our choices, decisions, words and actions reflect the truth of His Lordship.  There will be times of stumbling and falls in our lives, but they will not define the majority of our actions.  Each day that passes will see us growing, changing and more perfectly reflecting the light of Christ through our actions and words.  We may get this thing wrong today, but the Holy Spirit guiding us as we submit ourselves to the Lordship of Jesus will be reflected as we get it right tomorrow.

Though we may call ourselves Christians and attend church regularly, this question confronts us, just as Jesus confronted His disciples with it those many years ago.

“WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM?” Jesus asks us today.

Have you never considered this question before?  Have you in the past given lip service only but never truly submitted your heart to the Lord of all creation?  Who do you say Jesus is, to you?


We would consider it an unequaled privilege to pray with you and help you discover answers to that question Jesus asks of all who would be His disciples. “Who do YOU say that I am?”