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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