Posts Tagged ‘Jesus Christ’

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A FABULOUS PAIR OF LEGS – July 13

July 13, 2014

“Thus you will recognize them by their fruit.” Matthew 7:20

English: Recreational floaters on the Boise Ri...

My family and I recently floated the Boise River. While we waited in the rental line, I noticed a man in line before us. This man was probably in his fifth decade but he had a striking characteristic. He had fabulous legs. He did not have the legs of a middle-aged man. His legs were so distinct that I nudged my wife and whispered, “Check out the legs on that dude.”

the-razors-edgeThese were legs to be admired. They were chiseled masterpieces of bronzed muscle. The definition of his calf muscles hinted to a power unusual for a man of his age. The large veins that traveled along the inside of the ankle were visible up across his shins noting an uncommon endurance. It was obvious that these fabulous legs had been crafted over years of rigorous training and hours of intense activity. These sorts of legs don’t just happen.

These were the legs of an athlete.

It did not take much insight to determine what activity had crafted these legs. The tan-lines had distinct edges starting just above the ankle and ending just beyond the knee. However, the conclusive clue was what was missing. There was a feature normal to a man that was absent from these legs.

His upper body demonstrated a genetic ability to grow a furry coat. However, the legs contradicted his natural state. These legs had been groomed clean. There is only one type of athlete, who has legs that are muscled to the point of veins, tanned in this particular pattern, and shaven.tan-lines1

These were the legs of a cyclist – a long-time cyclist.

As I admired these fabulous legs, I narcissistically wondered what the person behind me thought about my legs. I wondered if my athleticism was as evident in my conditioning. As I glanced back at my own calves, giving them a little flex, I questioned how well my continence revealed the passions of my life to an examining eye.

Beyond my vanity, the important passion of life looms large. I really care very little about getting recognized for a great pair of legs. However, there are characteristics that I hope are recognizable in a casual observation.

Does the person next in line see self-control in my behavior?
Has my wife come to expect gentleness in my response?
Are my kids accustomed to patience and kindness in my reactions?
Do my co-workers consider me a peaceful person?
Would my biography describe me as a joyful and good man?
Am I recognized by love and faithfulness?

Our passions are obvious to those around us and the fruit of our lives are revealed in a myriad of manners. I hope that we all can be identified by characteristics that are more important than a fabulous pair of legs.

PRAYER: Father, I want to be known by the fruit of your Spirit.  I want to be recognized as a child of God.  Lord, continue your work within my heart.  Transform me into your likeness.  May the world see you in my life for your glory.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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HOME – June 24

June 24, 2014

“I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” John 17:15-17

Adirondack Hotel room

The familiar chime from the cell phone slowly lures a reluctant mind back to awareness. A pale orange light sneaks between the voids of drawn shades to cast a dim tint to a small simple room. I squint to see the blurry view as I roll onto my back and crane my head from pillows that had failed to provide a restful sleep.

A flat screen television sits atop a cabinet across from the foot of the bed. An open suitcase with clothes strewn within sets upon a stand along the adjoining wall. I swing my gaze to the night stand at the edge of my bed. Amongst the jumble of receipts, gum package, wallet, cell phone, and pocket change, I reach for my eyeglasses.

The action of restoring my vision brings me to full awareness of my surrounding. The annoying buzz of an air conditioner; the strange fragrance of cleaning agents masking previous inhabitants, a generic interior design, a comfortable but comfortless bed, all confirm that I am in yet another unfamiliar hotel room. However, I am very excited that this is my last night, at least for this trip.

Today, I am going home.

Throughout this week-long business trip, I have met pleasant people, experienced new areas, completed successful meetings,secured future work, eaten good food, yet, I have longed for home. I have missed my wife and kids. I have missed the place where I belong. I have missed the familiar of belonging.

Airport Wait TransferThe desire for home is a powerful emotion. Many a weary traveler has made the lament at the end of a long trip of  “I just want to get home”. I wonder if our intense desire for home was given to us to draw us to something more than a place and those who love us.

Our desire for home draws us back.
Home causes us to not to be satisfied with the amenities of a journey.
Home encourages us to complete the journey to its final destination – the place we belong.

I have the propensity to seek the comfortable. I long to be satisfied and contented in my place. I am easily enticed by the amenities lining the pathways of life. All these conflicting desires could easily loosen the draw to my eternal home. Therefore, I know that I need encouragement to not be satisfied with the “cheap hotels” of this journey.

I wonder how many of the struggles of life are given to us as encouragements to continue in that journey; to roust us from false contentment or nudge us from debilitating disappointment.

Any traveler who loses sight of home will be lost.

When I travel, I am thinking of my home. I talk with my wife and kids at night. I desire to stay connected to all that is transpiring while I am gone. I plan my route of return. I long for the ease of my household, the comfort of my bed, the view from my porch, and the belonging of family.

Likewise, the journeying Christian should be equally preoccupied by their thoughts of home.

We are not of this world. We are traveling through it to our eternal home. When we set our mind on the things of the Spirit, we are setting our mind on Home. We are relishing the intense desire for home that was given to us in order to draw us to the place of our inheritance and the One who loves us.

The draw of the Spirit is the source of the lament of many a weary traveler explaining “I just want to get home”. May we be grateful for that lament because it keeps us moving to the Hope that will never disappoint.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for calling me Home.  Thank you for reminding me that this world has nothing for me in comparison to you. Keep me from settling on the amenities of this journey.  Keep me moving toward you.  Draw me Home.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen (This is Home – Switchfoot)

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DISCOURAGING SHADOWS – May 9

May 9, 2014

“But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.” Proverbs 4:18

I don’t like my shadow!

I have been spending a lot of time running. I am still building up my running miles for the Boise Ironman 70.3. I ran 10.6 miles (17.06 km) last night with two more weeks left to top 13 miles before starting to taper down prior to race day. As a result, my shadow and I have been spending a lot of time together on the lonely rural roads of my running routes.

Running is far more mental than you might think. It is very easy to fall out of form. I try to concentrate on a high cadence, feet landing under me at mid-sole, chest forward, arms pumping like a gun-slinger, and deep breathing. It feels great when it all comes together.

57536-largest_2012KonaTop15run4I feel like an athlete when I hit that rhythm in form. Images of my favorite triathlon videos play in my mind:

Bevan Docherty – Super-human Triathlon Sprint Finish
Crazy sprint finish between Javier Gomez & Jonathan Brownlee

My imagination paints the course of my impending race over the abandoned fields. I can envision myself running with long, fluid strides trailing behind me, speeding me to the finish line.

At a glance, my shadow crushes these delusions. When I look about me, I will catch a sight of my shadow. My shadow does not remind me of the runners in my favorite videos. It reminds me of Forest Gump and not the young Forest Gump but the desert shuffling Forest Gump. My strides look short and my torso looks fat as my shadow mockingly shuffles beside me.

forrest-gump-the-original-ultra-runnerI don’t like my shadow because it conveys a truth that is not helpful to dwell upon – I am sliding to 50 years old; I’ve been running (inconsistently) for less than 3 years; I can still lose another 10 pounds; and I am slow. Dwelling upon what I am, does not deliver me to what I am becoming and does not let me enjoy how far I have come.

surreal-running-shadow-scaledTherefore, I prefer to run into the sun. When I run to the sun, my shadow falls behind me and out of sight. I still am who I am – a middle-aged guy trying to stay in shape.  I know that I will never be an elite athlete,  but that reality does not need to steal the joy of being a triathlete and participating in the race.

Many people don’t realize that we cast a similar spiritual shadow. As Christians, we are being transformed from one degree to another into the image of Christ. We travel down our God-ordained paths of righteousness with the light of Dawn shining upon us; the Son illuminating our lives as we follow Him. However, the enlightenment of the Spirit will cast a shadow from all the areas of our lives that remain sinful and disobedient.

We can see who we were in our spiritual shadows. We can see all those areas of our lives where the righteousness of Christ has not cast away all darkness. I get discouraged by glimpses of my spiritual shadow – those plaguing sins; those inconsistent disciplines; those worldly loves; the slow pace of my sanctification.  In the past, I have become so discouraged that I questioned my salvation.  Focusing on my spiritual shadow resulted in a joyless religion.  Dwelling upon my sin never delivered me to what Jesus is making me and never raised praise in how much I have been transformed.

businessman-running-to-the-sunrise-with-his-shadowTherefore, I prefer to travel the path of righteousness with my face toward the Son. When I consciously focus my mind on the things of the Spirit, my spiritual shadow falls behind me and out of sight. This is not to minimize sin and the need to faithfully follow Christ, but that work is in front of us. What we have been or who we are, does not dictate who we are transformed into when our lives are illuminated by Christ.  I might never be an elite man of faith.  I know that I am a sinner in need of a Savior.  I also know that I am a Child of God with a seat at His table and that is more than enough to motivate me to continue in the joy of my salvation.

Don’t allow the joy of your salvation to be stolen
by focusing on your spiritual shadow.

Focus on the Son and enjoy the work of the Spirit in your life.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for redeeming.  Thank you for sanctifying me.  Turn my eyes toward you and away from all my continued failings.  Father, keep my face turned towards, you as I walk in the light of your Son as I continue along the path of righteousness that you have laid before me.  Keep me from being discouraged by my spiritual shadow.    I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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BRUNO’S EXCHANGE FOR A LIE – May 3

May 3, 2014

“Therefore, God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God, for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” Romans 1:24-25

 Occasionally, the audacity of pop culture directly confronts and confounds me.

I normally travel within a sanitized cocoon of musical lyrics emanating from a radio of pre-set Christian stations. Long ago, I ceased to care about those who were occupying the top of the music charts, attending the awards shows, or  destined to define the current decade.

English: Bruno Mars performing in Las Vegas, N...

Since I only occasionally dip my toe into the pool of pop culture’s current offerings, I am usually astounded by the contrast of worship between these two worlds. This recently happened when I took a company car to a meeting. The radio was set to a local pop station and the melodies of Bruno Mars immediately grabbed my attention and got me bobbing to the rhythm. As I began to listen more closely to the lyrics, I found them ridiculous. I shook my head as he sang the following:

“Never had much faith in love or miracles
Never wanna put my heart on the line
But swimming in your water is something spiritual
I’m born again every time you spend the night
‘Cause your sex takes me to paradise
Yeah, your sex takes me to paradise
And it shows, yeah, yeah, yeah
‘Cause you make me feel like I’ve been locked out of heaven”
Bruno Mars, Locked Out of Heaven

Consider for a moment what these lyrics are communicating to the millions who have listened to this song (there are over 254 million views of this video on YouTude as of this date). He is willing to be barred from heaven because sex provides a suitable alternative. He does not need to be born again in Christ because he is born again in sex. I can only conclude that Bruno Mars has a stunningly low view of paradise if he truly thinks that sex is comparable.

The Christian’s understanding of paradise would be a poor hope for anyone if sex were an equitable exchange.

This song represents a culture with a shockingly low view of God. Bruno Mars is advocating a belief that the physical release of a sex caused neurological soup is equivalent to experiencing the majesty of the Divine Presence; an ordained voice in the choir of heavenly hosts is akin to the worship of created flesh; the momentary invigoration of sexual intimacy is equivalent to eternal rebirth into the family of the Creator.

Buddy Christ

This simple song represents the exchange by countless generations of Truth for the worship of the created. It is a capitulation to the inherent lie resulting from a low view of God. The sad reality is that this exchange of a low view of God is not limited to the world that does not know Him.

In today’s Christian culture, lofty exultations of God are often substituted for low, personal interpretations of a shallow god, unworthy of deep contemplation and worship.

How long is our silent adoration upon all the Biblical attributes of God?
How often are we awed by God’s absolute power and sovereignty?
How balances are devotions of “Jesus as friend” and “Jesus as Master”?

Our friendship with Christ is most amazing when viewed in the reality of Jesus as Lord. We will be tempted to make an inequitable exchange of knowing Christ Jesus for the worthless trinkets of this created world, when we lose our appreciation of the majesty of God. Paul said:

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. (Romans 3:8a)

Paul’s high view of God enabled him to recognize the disparaging worth between the created and the Creator. It is only through the worship of Jesus as Lord that losing everything in exchange for knowing Christ Jesus becomes an equitable exchange.

Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
(Psalms 46:10)

  • We need to learn the practice of silent and humble worship before throne of the King of kings.
  • We need to regularly experience the awe that inspires the laying down of crowns and scepters at the feet of our Redeemer.
  • We need to contemplate upon our Savior, high and lifted up, at the right hand of His Father, sovereign over all the earth as often as we are comforted by His loving friendship.
  • We need to strain through the fog of misplaced values and keep our eyes on the truth of God and the Paradise that awaits those who belong to Christ.

It is by keeping our eyes on the lofty personage of Jesus Christ that we will be kept from the horrid exchange of a lie for truth and consider it a bargain to lose everything for knowing Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever.

PRAYER: Father, I pray for Bruno Mars – open his eyes to your surpassing worth; show him the lie that he has exchanged for the truth about you.  Forgive me for all the times that I have made a similar exchange.  Forgive me for all the things of this  world that I have refused to count as lost.  Forgive me for taking such a low view of your majesty and surpassing worth.  Open my eyes, O’ Lord.  Change the loves of my heart.  Give me new passions and desires and to treasure the truth about you.  Help me to live in the reality of your Truth.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 RELATED POST:  GOD IS (NOT) MY BUDDY

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ASCENDING THE IMPOSSIBLE – May 1

May 1, 2014

“Jesus answered him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God.’” John 3:3

I just returned from another business trip to Mount Rainer National Park. Unlike my last trip (Knowing Greatness without Sight), the skies were clear and I was able to behold clearly the mountain. I gazed upon the heights of the mountains with a yearning eye.

IMG_20140429_185759_417 (3)The clarity of the skies promised an unimpeded view to anyone at the pinnacle of such a mountain. I so wanted to see that view. Yet, I knew that neither I nor anyone else would behold the view on that day. The snow is still too deep and the trails too treacherous to ascend Mount Rainer. Therefore, the prize of the glorious view from its pinnacle was not beheld by any mortal man on that clear day.

IMG_20140429_191018_723 (2)There is another site that is even more unattainable than the wintry panorama of Mount Rainer’s peak. No man can ascend to God’s presence and behold the Kingdom of God. For this site, Jesus told us that we must be born again.

How does one ascend to a peak that has no trail?
How does one scale a summit whose base cannot be found?
How does the flesh accomplish that which is born of the Spirit?

It is impossible. It is impossible for man to find access or even to see the Kingdom of God from the pinnacle of any human accomplishment. No one can ascend to heaven.

No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. (John 4:13-15)

crossThis is the glorious good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The ascent to heaven, access to the Kingdom of God, is now possible – not by any work of the flesh but by the work of the Spirit.

We can stand at the pinnacle of the mountain of God and see His Kingdom. We can enter into His rest and eternal life. It is an ascent that we cannot make but was accomplished for us. The prize of this summit is a gift given to all how believe in the Son of Man, Jesus Christ.

Praise be to God who has made the impossible possible. May we marvel at the miraculous heavenly things of God Almighty!

PRAYER: Father, thank you for making a way to your holy presence. Thank you for making the ascent to your Kingdom for us.  Thank you for the work the Spirit that I might be born of the Spirit.  Forgive me for my lack of marvel at the gift of eternal life that you have given me.  You are great and greatly to be praised.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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WARNINGS OF THE OBVIOUS – April 22

April 22, 2014

“If you are not careful to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, the Lord your God, then the Lord will bring on you and your offspring extraordinary afflictions, afflictions severe and lasting, and sicknesses grievous and lasting.”   Deuteronomy 28:1-2

I am dismayed by the litigious world that we live in. I know of no better example of our society’s misplaced responsibility than the absurd labels manufacturers place on their products in hopes of avoiding a lawsuit. I am inclined to think that these labels are necessary for a special type of consumer.

dumb-and-dumber

Here are a few that made me laugh from the website:
Things People Said: Warning Labels.

“Eating rocks may lead to broken teeth.”
On a novelty rock garden set called “Popcorn Rock.”

“Caution: Hot beverages are hot!”
On a coffee cup.

“Do not eat toner.”
On a toner cartridge for a laser printer.

“Do not drive with sunshield in place.”
On a cardboard sunshield that keeps the sun off the dashboard.

“This product not intended for use as a dental drill.”
On an electric rotary tool.

“Recycled flush water unsafe for drinking.”
On a toilet at a public sports facility in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

“For external use only!”
On a curling iron.

“Warning: knives are sharp!”
On the packaging of a sharpening stone.

“Remove plastic before eating.”
On the wrapper of a Fruit Roll-Up snack.

“Turn off motor before using this product.”
On the packaging for a chain saw file,
used to sharpen the cutting teeth on the chain.

The sad reality is that these labels are needed. People will do stupid things because they think  they know best. Their foolishness will cause them to ignore the obvious.

I want to believe that these warning labels for the obvious are not necessary for me but then I read the Bible. I read of Moses’ warnings to God’s chosen people and they read like warning labels for the obvious.

And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God. (Deuteronomy 28:1-2)

If you are not careful to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, the Lord your God, then the Lord will bring on you and your offspring extraordinary afflictions, afflictions severe and lasting, and sicknesses grievous and lasting. (Deuteronomy 28:1-2)

These warnings of the Bible are pretty simple. God, Creator of heaven and earth, will be for those who love and follow Him with their whole heart. Those who are in Christ will know Him as Father and be adopted as children of God. He will grant upon them love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, and eternal life.

However, it is going to go bad for those who refuse to love and obey the One, who holds the stars in place. God’s wrath will fall on those who stubbornly cling to their rebellion against the King of kings. God will discipline those who are His, to bring them back into a right relationship with Him as any loving parent will discipline their child.

I read these warnings and they seem so obvious – it is better to be with God than against Him.  Yet…Dumb_and_Dumber_To_39522

How many times do we continue to live in disobedience?
That is like trying to sharpen a chainsaw without turning the motor off.

 How many seasons have passed without opening the Bible or kneeling prayer?
That is like trying to get nutrition from a snack pack without opening the wrapper.

How regularly is the filth of entertainment consumed?
That is like drinking recycled flush water from a toilet and not expecting to get sick.

How eagerly is a conversation turned to gossip?
That is like pouring a cup of coffee on our lap and being shocked that we get burned.

 How long is anxiety coddled?
That is like grinding our teeth away on rocks and hoping they don’t break.

 How casually are the passions of lust titillated?
That is like juggling knives without being lacerated.

We often deny the obvious warnings of God because we think we know better. However, our rejection of God’s warnings simply proves that we are not any wiser than the intended audience of manufactures’ most ridiculous product warning labels.

God warns us for our good and because He loves us. Let us not foolishly ignore the common sense warning of the obvious – it is better to be with God than against Him.

PRAYER: Father, forgive me of my foolishness.  Forgive me for thinking that warnings do not apply to me.  Thank you for your warnings.  Thank you for loving me and working good for me by disciplining me.  Thank you for not leaving me as I am.  Help me to follow you as a child – in loving obedience.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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EASTER CHANGES EVERYTHING – April 20

April 20, 2014

“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” 1 Corinthians 15:17-18

 Easter changes everything.

 If Christ had not been raised then…

… Church wastes a Sunday.
… prayer is merely meditation.
… the Bible is a best-selling self-help book.
cross… charity is a utopian ideal.
… faith is a crutch.
… self-denial is a waste of effort.
… happiness is fleeting.
… everlasting joy is a myth.
… peace is impossible.
… God is unknown.
… sin remains.
… God does not love us.
… suffering is without meaning.
… this is as good as it gets.
…our future is a grave.
… we are fools.

Easter changes everything.

Because Christ has risen, we know …

… He is the messiah.
… the prophesies have been fulfilled.
… the penalty of sin has been paid.
… the curse of sin is removed.
… death has been defeated.
… the kingdom of God will be established.
… all things are possible.
… eternal life awaits beyond the grave.
… glory will be revealed to us.
… suffering has purpose.
… we are loved by God.
… our faith is not in vain.
… we are not fools.
… we are children of God.
… we are heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.

empty-tombEaster changes everything.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,
knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

(1 Corinthians 15:58)

PRAYER: Father, thank you for Easter.  Thank you for raising your Son from the grave.  Thank you for keeping all of your promises.  Thank you for redeeming me.  Thank you for giving hope and eternal life.  I praise your name on this glorious day for what you have done.    I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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