Posts Tagged ‘Christian’

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Fear or Friend – Psalm 46:1–3

May 4, 2020

“God is our refuge and strength,
a very sufficient help in troubles.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth change,
and though the mountains totter into the midst of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though mountains shake with its surging water.”

May I be bold enough to add, “though a virus infects throughout the earth, and though people fall, though economies totter, though our healthcare system shakes”.

We are not a people accustomed to uncertainty.  We are accustomed to regular returns, predictable profits, and a pill for every malady. We are accustomed to the refuge of a regular wage and the strong towers of a robust hospital.

Where does the anxiety of this time come from?  Why do we hear of despair from COVID’s destruction?

The earth has changed, and our response has been an innate cry for help in these time of trouble. That cry has been direcred largely toward the government.  The government, who according to the news, should possess all the resources for sufficient help.

Yet, this fact reveals the greatest deficiency of our modern world.  Society’s cry reveals it’s misplaced trust for refuge and strength.  Our greatest help in times of trouble is never the institutions of man nor the strength of one’s net worth.  

COVID is a merely another revelation of our greatest vulnerability.  We are a society in a fallen world, full of sinful people without sufficient help against the troubles of coming eternity.

Therefore, COVID is a blessing.  Any crisis that awakens a misplaced cry, serves the helpless by informing them of a trust that has drifted from the true source of strength and refuge to an illusion.

Uncertainty is a friend.  A friend does not allow loved ones to meander into destruction with insufficient refuge.  This current uncertainty can be that friend if we allow it to reveal were we have placed out trust.
https://ref.ly/Ps46.1-3 via the Logos Bible Android app.

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Spiritual Competition

April 26, 2020

If you are still sheltering in place as I am, here is the video for a sermon I gave on spiritual competition and the analogy to physical competition.  Maybe, it will make it feel more like a Sunday.

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QUOTE (Frederick Buechner)

April 21, 2020

“But to preach the Gospel is not just to tell the truth but to tell the truth in love,and to tell the truth in love means to tell it with concern not only for the truth that is being told but with concern also for the people it is being told to.”

 ~ Frederick Buechner, “Telling the Truth”

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The Order of Things – Leviticus 9:7

April 7, 2020

“Then Moses said to Aaron, “Approach the altar and sacrifice your sin offering and your burnt offering, and make atonement for yourself and for the people. And sacrifice the people’s offering and make atonement for them, just as God has commanded.””

The order of things matters.  The sequencing of components is critical.  The chronology of events is crucial.

There are ingredients in a recipe when removed, ruin the meal.

Change the sequence of your DNA and you become a different person.

Remove critical links in history and our world transforms into something very different.

I struggle with my Bible reading plan, when it comes to Leviticus.  Leviticus is about the law.  Leviticus is about rules.  Also, Leviticus is about the order of things and that the order of things, matters.

The Israelites got to experience the glory of God.  They were allowed to witness His power.  They were overwhelmed with joy and worshipped.

Leviticus 9:23–24: Then Moses and Aaron entered the tent of assembly. When they came out, they blessed the people, and God’s glory appeared to all the people. Then a fire went out from before God, and it consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. And all the people saw it, so they shouted for joy, and they fell on their faces.

Yet, there were instructions, whose fulfillment were necessary, prior to God revealing His glory to His chosen people.  Atonement for the sins of the priests and the people was necessary before God came down amongst them, fulfilling their joy and worship.

The order mattered.

I am reminded that the order still matters. Atonement still matters. Atonement is still the critical ingredient for a true relationship with God. We do not dictate the terms of our relationship with God.  God determines the order of things.

I fear that many people are seeking well-being, harmony, and a form of joy through a spiritual experience with god, absent atonement.  The problem with atonement is that it requires me to acknowledge:

  • That I am a sinner,
  • That my sin separates me from God and His glory,
  • That I need a sacrifice to atone for my sin,
  • That Jesus Christ was the atoning sacrifice for my sin.

Once again, the ingredients of atonement matter.  I cannot know salvation without the belief in all those critical ingredients.  Remove any one and Christ’s atoning sacrifice is no longer applicable to me.

We rarely talk about atonement anymore.  We rarely talk about sin anymore.  I don’t know what other people are experiencing when they describe a spiritual experience while denying the critical ingredients of atonement.  Whatever they are experiencing, it is a pale imitation of the true joy predicated on a relationship properly ordered with the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Let’s not be content with a pale imitation.

Let’s obediently acknowledge the true order of God’s plan, starting with atonement.

If you have any questions on atonement, please send me an email or a comment.

https://ref.ly/Le9.7 via the Logos Bible Android app.

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Conflict Resolution: Which Path? – Proverbs 15:1

March 29, 2020

“A soft answer will turn away wrath,
but a word of trouble will stir anger.”

Imagine we have a difficult hike to make. Our destination is a community of peace on the opposite side of a mountain.  This mountain is large and formidable.  There are areas of instability, where a rock slide could sweep us away. There are vast stretches lacking any springs for refreshment.

Obviously, the shortest course will be to go directly over the mountain.  These routes are poorly marked and likely filled with all the hardship of an ill-advised expedition.  Many have tried these routes, but few parties ever arrived at the community of peace intact.

The other route is long.  It meanders along the valleys and ravines. The path is broad, following a refreshing stream.  Travelers wind past hazards while slowly gaining elevation.  

Often, the gains are imperceptible causing travelers to become discouraged and set off on more direct routes. Those routes rarely lead up the mountain.  Often, these impatient travelers find themselves once again at the base of the same mountain or a new one.

The patient traveler diligently stays on the long path with his destination firmly fixed in his mind.  The goal for these patient parties is not simply to overcome the mountain but to summit the mountain as a group, not as individuals.  The long route is the most likely path for the group to achieve their goal and reach the community of peace but it takes uncommon endurance.

I consider conflict a mountain.  Conflicts are barriers to peace and unity, just like a mountain separating you from your destination.  Conflicts are difficult with a lot of hazards which can result in even more barriers if not handled carefully.

Some refuse to deal with conflict.  They are like the travelers that never leave camp.  They sit at the base of a mountain and wonder why the conflict never goes away.

Some choose a direct route.  They say it like it is.  They don’t select their words carefully and rarely listen for a response without an interpretation.  These direct routes often include “words of trouble” that only stir up more anger.  Many, on a direct route, excuse their course as being part of their nature. As if, they had no other choice but a direct confrontation.  

In my experience, directness is not a personality trait.  The direct person is usually either impatient or selfish (unloving).  Those on the direct route rarely get off the mountain of conflict.  It is where they live.  They feel like the world is out to get them, never realizing that they are the ones continuing to raise more mountains (barriers).

Gentleness of tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it causes a break in spirit. Proverbs 15:4 

The long route is hard, mostly because it involves a lot of self-control.  Yet, gentleness takes time.  Soft words must be allowed to seep in and moderate the heart of a conflict.  Kindness has to be kindled and love often must be demonstrated through long-suffering.  Conflict resolution requires consideration, which will rarely be granted when there is a break in spirit. 

Travelers of the long route must value gentleness, patience, kindness, self-control, and love.  I don’t see travelers on direct routes valuing those same attributes.  Is it any wonder that a world valuing direct, powerful, harsh, responses is a world mired in conflict?

Conflict is not fun.  However, the mountain will never go away until it is surmounted.  If you are ready to deal with your mountain, what route are you going to take? May I encourage you to take the long way?

 Do nothing according to selfish ambition or according to empty conceit, but in humility considering one another better than yourselves, each of you not looking out for your own interests, but also each of you for the interests of others.  Philippians 2:3–4

https://ref.ly/Pr15.1 via the Logos Bible Android app.

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Who’s Your Daddy – John 8:47

March 19, 2020

“The one who is from God listens to the words of God. Because of this you do not listen—because you are not of God.””

  • Where do those who deny the words of God come from?
  • Who’s inspiration inspires the creative, deaf to the Spirit’s whispers?
  • What source motivates the over-achiever’s pursuit of praise?

Jesus never asked these questions.  If someone doesn’t listen to the words of God, then they are not of God.  

  • What are you of, if you are not of God?
  • What is your heritage, if not an heir of God?
  • Who is your father, if he is not God?

John 8:42–44 (LEB): Jesus said to them, “If God were your father, you would love me, for I have come forth from God and have come. For I have not come from myself, but that one sent me. Why do you not understand my way of speaking? Because you are not able to listen to my message. You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father!

There are only two options for spiritual father; God or Satan.  Our default is Satan and our desires demonstrate the reality of our spiritual patriarch.

I am reminded that there are no innocent pursuits.  Everything has a source, a motivation, an inspiration.  We live in a world of light and darkness.  Jesus told us that He is the light of the world.

Why would we think that works sourced from darkness are benign?  We don’t need to be afraid of the world but we also don’t need to be ignorant of it either.

It is reasonable to question, of all that we allow to influence us, “who’s your daddy?” .  We are called to live in the Light…Let’s not play around with the world of darkness.

https://ref.ly/Jn8.47 via the Logos Bible Android app.

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Remove the Toxic, Just Not Me – Luke 17:3–4

March 7, 2020

““Be concerned about yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times he returns to you saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him”

I don’t like toxic people.  They make me feel bad.  They frustrate me.  They disrupt my emotional well-being.

Afterall, they would stop being so…toxic…to me…if they were REALLY sorry.

Don’t they know that I am a delicate flower, easily wilted by the negativity of a world, which refuses to treat me with the respect and consideration of which every person is entitled.

Surely, someone who sins against me every 3-1/2 hours, lies to me, cheats me, yells at me, insults me, is bad for me.  What about me?  They are toxic and I should banish them from my presence.  Everyone will surely agree…

But God…there is always the “but God” clause for a world focused on “me”.

I don’t know how often I sin against God. It probably is more than once every 3-1/2 hours when you consider that I am asleep for 8 hours.  However, I can make a case that my subconscious assumes my sinning ways if my dreams are a revelation of my hidden toxicity. So, it is probably worse than I care to believe.

How can I not be toxic to God?

I don’t do what He says to do.  I do what He says not to do. 

I don’t acknowledge Him.  I claim the glory belonging to Him.

How can I not be toxic to God?

I don’t understand the grace He has shown me.  The countless times He has forgiven me.  The toxic presence that He continues to wash clean.

So, what about me?

How can I not forgive in a manner that I am continually being forgiven?

I was never called to be a delicate flower.  I was called to the strong tower.  I was called to take up my cross and share in the suffering caused by the lost.  

TOXIC people cause suffering of the redeemed…this should not be a surprise.

Let’s just count it all joy for suffering like our Lord and stop whining about serving the toxic like we will never receive a reward.

https://babylonbee.com/news/god-decides-cut-toxic-people-life-7-5-billion-dead/
https://ref.ly/Lk17.3-4 via the Logos Bible Android app.

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Know Your Why – Luke 10:20

February 26, 2020

“Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are inscribed in heaven.””

There are numerous benefits to being born again. Let me begin to enumerate.

1.  I am a child of God…if a child of God, then an heir. An heir of God and co-heir with Christ.

End of enumeration.  

If that is not enough, then I must reconsider all my motivations.  Take away all that you cherish from being a Christian with only reason #1 as the benefit, do you continue to follow Jesus?

If not, then you are not worthy of Reason #1.

My meditation for today is Jesus is my treasure.

https://ref.ly/Lk10.20 via the Logos Bible Android app.

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Explain Yourself – Job 23:4–5

February 25, 2020

“I would lay my case before him,
and I would fill my mouth with arguments.
I want to know the words with which he would answer me,
and I want to understand what he would say to me”

I have a day ahead in which I must be braced.  I must engage in a conflict required of my position, but a responsibility that I hate.

I must fire an employee. 

I have done it before, so I know how it usually  goes.  I will provide my explanation for termination, and then allow for them to lay their case before me, and fill their mouth with arguments,  and then I will communicate, hopefully to their understanding, my response.  

This process, I believe, is reasonable and necessary in my role as employer.  It is a process as old as Job.

However, I am reminded that I am not God.  

I am reminded that God is not an employer.  

God is not required to follow the reasonable and necessary procedures of an employer. It is a requirement that Job tried to impose upon God, which didn’t work out too well for him.  God is never required to explain Himself because…

He is God.

My meditation for the day is the Sovereignty of God.

https://ref.ly/Job23.4-5 via the Logos Bible Android app.

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“ENSLAVED” – Feb. 24

February 24, 2020

“Then He said to them, ‘Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.'” Matthew 22:21

close up photo of woman with her hands tied with rope

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

I am a slave,
but I am not unique.
I am a slave,
but so are you.
We are slaves but
not in the way you think.

We are slaves of many masters.  We serve them all, typically without title but all hidden while still in the open.  Yet, their authority is enforced when the bounds of their reigns are transversed or challenged.  We were born into the bondage of our initial master, whose realm was established at the beginning, when it demanded our lungs to accept this new product called air.  Next, the bounds of nutrition were delineated through pangs in the belly.  The bounds of consciousness were defined by the needs of sleep.  As we mature, new bounds were yearly discovered.

We all labor to serve the Master of Flesh.  Our bodies demand obedience to biological needs, requirements for the preservation of life.  This realm redefines slavery as “self”.  You may say, “my body is not a master,”  I say, “are you free from it?”.  Try not obeying the Master of Flesh.  Try to exert your freedom from hydration.  Try to exert your freedom from food.  Soon, your flesh will punish your liberty with pain until you yield or die.  The Flesh is an unyielding task master.

Many live their entire existence solely under the tyranny of Flesh, laboring to satisfy its demands.  Some even cede more authority to the Flesh through addiction and/or neurosis.   Yet, all yield to the essential demands of the Flesh from the dawn of every day to its setting.

However, the flesh is not our only master.  As we mature, we enter the realm of another, the Master of Work.  Work’s realm includes all those activities mitigating Flesh’s tyranny.  I want leisure.  Therefore, I must work to be able to take a vacation.  I want amusement.  Therefore, I must work to be able to have a hobby, go to a movie, eat gourmet food.  I want more comfortable housing.  Therefore, I must work to be able to have a better home.  I want to be happy.  Therefore, I must work to be able to consume and feed my craving for happiness.

Work is not a private affair.  Work is a public engagement and therefore ruled by the cultural and governmental masters.  This realm redefines slavery as “citizenship”.  You may say, “my government is not a master.  I live under a constitution.”  I say, “are you free from it?”.  Try not obeying the Masters of Work.  Try exerting your freedom from taxation.  Try exerting your freedom to take another’s property.  Try exerting your freedom to live without clothing.  Try exerting your freedom to cry ‘fire’ in a fireless theater.  Transverse the bounds established by the Masters of Work and you will find your time relegated to satisfying the Master of Flesh.  You will become preoccupied with the necessities of existence because the means to mitigate the tyranny of the Flesh will be removed by the tyranny of Work.  Work is an unyielding task master.

We all yield to the essential demands of society in order to have a slice of the prosperity ensuing from our obedience as cogs in the economic mechanism of Work’s realm.  Even if Work could be freed from the Masters of government and culture, it can never be truly free because it resides in the realm of a third master.  Work cannot be free because work is not an end in itself.

The extent and quality of freedom in the flesh and work can only be experienced through obedience to the Master of the third realm in which we all reside.

The Master of the Divine inhabits a realm that was before the Flesh and before Work.  This realm defines the freedoms of those realms and our allegiance to those Masters.  God created the realm of the Divine.  He is the Master of all.  Yet, Satan rebelled against Gods’ rule and when he fell so did all of humanity.  You and I have been born into rebellion against the Master of the Divine.  Yet, we were not born free.  We were born under the tyranny of Satan, who bent the Masters of Flesh and Work into wicked task masters.  It was never meant to be this way.  The Divine has been redefined as “enlightenment”, “science”, “atheism”.

Our inward desire for liberty is an echoing call of creation.  We misunderstand it to be an inherent right of mankind.  It is actually a memory of creation, longing for a world ruled by the true Master; longing for a world where the flesh and work have no power to harm.  Our desire for freedom is incomplete.  It actually is a desire to be completely free to serve the Master as we were created to serve.

low section of man against sky

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Freedom is the freedom to do what we want.  When we are truly free, our nature takes us fully to God, the Master of the Divine.

So, I am a slave.  I am a slave to the Master of the Divine.  I live as an ambassador in the realms of the Flesh and Work.  I pay the requisite requirements to inhabit these realms, but they are not my Master.  I owe them no allegiance.  I will readily say my farewells to the Master of Flesh when the Master of the Divine bids me to return.  I will readily give what is due the Master of Work and give unto God what is His.

I am a slave to only one Master and He is good.  I will serve no other.

PRAYER: Lord, forgive me for serving other Masters.  Forgive me for forgetting that you have set me free to serve you fully as I was intended.  Thank you for binding me to yourself.  Lord, you know that I am prone to wander.  Let your grace, like a fetter, chain my wandering heart to you.  Take my heart and seal it in servitude for your courts above.    I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

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