Wednesday, August 23, 2017

SATAN DOES NOT OWN THE MONOPOLY BOARD OF OUR LIVES

We are saved by the blood of Jesus.  It is His blood that cleanses us from all unrighteousness.  Why would we need to be told this by God?  It's obvious.  If we don't have confidence in the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus, we will forever be trying to earn our way to Heaven by two things, (1) our good deeds, and (2) sin avoidance.  The problem is that we will fail at both...often.

Mark this down someplace in your heart.  Jesus paid the price on the Cross.  He didn't make a down payment.  The cost has been paid in full.  Jesus is perpetually footing the bill; paying the damages and then telling us to be on our way in freedom of hope and joy.  He's got this one...and then this one...and then this one.

We struggle with this because we feel responsible...and guilty.  And we are until...until the Cross took on..."our sins"; not just our bad habits, not our enduring glitches, but the biggest category of all..."our sins".  The Son of God was beaten to an unrecognizable pulp as he was in the process of paying the Clerk for our, what would have been, eternal demise.  We now have a "Get Out of Hell" card as Satan does not own the Monopoly board of our lives.

We are called to be baptized into Jesus that he would forever cleanse--wash away perpetually--our sins.  A problem with this fantastic grace is that we repeatedly sin and we aren't sure we can trust God with wiping up our messes.  Yet, He is aware of this because His blood is in constant cleansing mode.  But we, somehow, determine later that we must be rebaptized to once again wash away our sins.

I'm not saying that no one should ever be rebaptized.  I was.  I didn't understand at my first one that my sins were to be forgiven as well as, simultaneously, receiving the Holy Spirit...Acts 2:38.  I am conveying that God knows that we are repeating offenders; habitual sinners.  He gets us.  Jesus walked earth in our shoes to explain to Father what a quagmire of naggatational (nagging) earth is at the moment due to sin.

Rebaptism...including that feeling of starting over again...is to be perpetuated; but not in repeating and repeating the cleansing act of being buried in baptismal waters.  No, the refreshing of our spirits is repeated at weekly Communion.  The broken bread and the drink serve as reminders of his being beaten upon the Cross. Jesus' body was mutilated and his blood was shed....for us.

The very place a Christian is served notice that sins are gone and hope arises is perpetually found at the Communion Experience.  It's value is the "reminder factor".  The "what we do" expands into glorification of being reminded of "what He did"!  We don't save ourselves.  Jesus does the saving.  We do the believing that He did it well.

Therefore, experience the powerful reminder through Communion that we are a people who are steadfastly saved...which means...we aren't people who are grappling for hope only to probably be lost.  Jesus is the Victor.  We are named by Him the Victorious.  We are saved because God owns the Monopoly Board!  If it is to be, it is up to Him!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

TRANSITION: FROM DIDN'T CARE TO PRAY---AND THEN WANTING TO PRAY

It's still weird to me how something so simple seems to be so very difficult to execute.  It doesn't take much talent, energy, nor depth of education to pray.  Yet, for me this was one of the most difficult tasks of Kingdom life because...I just didn't want to do it.

Pray bugged me.  Those who prayed bugged me.  Because I was in preaching school and eventually became a minister, I was obligated to join in on times of talking to God.  But, I didn't like it...ever!  Eventually, drastic changes took place and now I pray repeatedly throughout each day and even if I awaken during the night.

What changed?

I began to see God as Father rather than Foreman.  We began to build a relationship rather than possessing a rule-oriented working arrangement.  I wasn't a hired hand.  Rather, I was family.  I was son.

As such an awareness began to evolve, I noticed that I was talking things over with Him...and He with me.  No longer did I feel that prayer was a time where I placed an order to go.  For those who "go by the Bible", yet don't believe that God responds to us in relationship, these "going by the Bible" people fail to do one of the most fundamental requirements of a believer.  They cannot, will not, do not...pray.  I know.  I didn't either.

When God becomes Father instead of Foreman, family ties begin to develop.  Connections increase.  Trust builds.  Understanding of each other comes into play.  One begins to feel a part of the team rather than a spectator in the stands (pews).

I know how you feel if you don't like to pray.

Truthfully, those who don't most likely didn't bother to read this post as soon as they saw the title.  I cheer you on, however.  Prayer is the connecting spot between Heaven and earth.  It draws the Trinity into personal Unity.  Approach God as Father and you'll see the terrain of prayer begin to become a desire...and no longer a rolling-of-the-eyes dread.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

WHEN THE CASKET LIDS GIVE WAY

Jesus was originally in First Place.  When he noted the condition of man, how we were losing at the game called Life, he became one of us.  The only way we could win was for him to lose; finish in last place.

Beaten to a pulp, this one noted for being in First Place, intentionally (even voluntarily) finished in Last Place.  He did this only that we could move into First Place.  He was the original winner.  Yet, due to his extreme love, he handed over his crown to place upon the hearts of mankind.

The game called Life is not to be taken for granted.  One had to suffer greatly at the hands of extremillistic ruffians that we could be declared Winners!

Live!  Breathe!  Engage!  We win because He lost!

Look like it!  Act like it!  Reach like it!

Yet, there's more...very much more.  Jesus withstood the Cross and beat the Grave at its own game.  And then he calls for volunteers to pick up similar Cross and die for our neighbors of whom will be asked to pick up their Crosses and die for their neighbors.  This game call Life finds that even defeat brings ultimate victory.

Don't get discouraged.  Don't give up on people.  Don't quit.  Victory blows the lid off of every casket!  If you think that the Fourth of July has fireworks....just wait til he returns.


Saturday, August 19, 2017

DISCRIMINATION ISN'T DISCRIMINATORY. WE'VE ALL GOT IT....AS IN ALL

Bias is messing with everyone these days.  It's serious.  It's global.  It's real.  Protests are here.  Marches are there.  Offenses are everywhere.  A day doesn't go by but what someone's rights have been violated or their platform has been shunned...so it seems to be reported.  I have my take on this and, because it's mine, I will surely have some holes in my stance.  Nevertheless, I share it with you as food for thought.

I'm saying that our daily grind is, has been, and will always breathe discrimination.  This doesn't make it right, understand, but it isn't just one class (or three) of people who are being discriminated against.  We each tend to register our complaints toward someone else, while living oblivious to our identical misbehavior and misdeeds in this very act against our neighbors.

If this aggravates us to have this brought to the table, it just might be that we live in a "them; not us" world.

Yes, there are racial claims and gender disturbances that have significant warrant for improved relations; tremendously and urgently so.  Simultaneously, there are racial and gender rattlings that are coming from self-centered, self-seeking, selfish individuals.  This goes on.

It seems to me that discrimination of inequality is rampant...just as it has always been.  Beauty wins the pageants.  Brains win the scholarships.  Fitness wins the races.  And, money makes the money.  If one happens to be plain, simple, hefty, or low on funds...well, you may not win some of the above contests.

May I share with you a discrimination that I've noted?  Walk into a room, any room of public gathering, and inform them that you are a minister.  No, really.  The firm bias can be cut with a knife.  Such a one is immediately loved by a few and despised by a few....quickly....with nothing more than sheer, pure, judgmental bias.  And...it stings a bit.

Does inequality go on?  Yes, very much so.  And should it be corrected?  Yes, quickly.  But here's the rub.  Those in one neglected category seem to give little thought to holding bias toward someone in another category.  We are all tempted to be very guilty about this idea.

A female can be quite touchy because she notes men get the breaks at work (and she may be quite correct with this assessment), while she mocks a sister across the office for being of different color or perhaps a bit hefty in weight.  Christians mock other Christians because they don't possess similar views.  Executives might be guilty of pooh-poohing labor workers.  Labor workers may mock a co-worker for his lack of education or even the kind of car she drives.

Discrimination seems to find no discriminating circumstances.  It runs freely from the top of Prejudice Mountain down the entire landscape of humanity.  Do all of these variations of individuals do all of these biased things?  No.  But every camp has those within who do.  So what's the point?

Mankind is a mess.  I lead the way.  I am the least among us.  Yet, it's within this mess that we can begin--perpetually strive--for improvement.  The key will not be when any one group gets their act together.  No.  I believe it will be when each of our groups realize we've got enough about ourselves which needs vast improvement, maturing, and detailed attention.  Remember that log thing of which Jesus spoke?  He made a serious point.

There is a lot wrong with society.  Again, there is a whole lot that is right.  Regarding the wrong, we are not to bury our heads in the sand.  But, wouldn't it be good if we would be in consistent mode to evaluate where progress and improvement is needed within ourselves before we march against another who has flaws in some fashion....which, it would seem, are merely quite similar to our own?




Friday, August 18, 2017

HAVE A BEST DAY!

Each of us has a sore spot, an axe to grind, an irritant of a person(s) in our midst.  People bug us.  Who can go through life without multiple I could do without them sorts?

For every person who causes inflammation to our attitudes, there are those whom we individually cause similar distress.  Believe it.  We are not as ideal, perfect, or sinless as we would like to persuade all others that we are.

So how shall we manage this perplexity toward others while remaining biased in our own favor?  We must be determined to develop equal bias in favor of our neighbor as well?  You don't want to, you think?  Uh-huh.  Then perhaps we just now flushed out the troublesome one in this picture.

Have a good day.  Bless others...including those whom you don't like...and you'll discover you are having one of your best days yet!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

BE HEALED

There is a glut of nasty waste moving through humanity on an hourly basis.  Woundedness lives on.  Our determined perpetuation of such increases as minds grow stubborn out of aggravation toward those who hurt us.  Simultaneously, hearts of hope grow dim.  I speak of the most aggressive enemy to each of us...our own unforgiveness of others...every other.

People hurt people.  People offend people.  But...hurters and offenders tend to grow up.  So why do we seemingly even enjoy carrying on the sharp and deep hurt of past offenses which may/can/are to be forgiven at moment's decision?  The reason?  We don't want to.  The result?  The carrier of lack of mercy toward another is eaten alive with ugly vengeance and hatred; all-the-while living unhealed while blaming the "other" party.

This.  Is.  Not.  Good.  Furthermore, This.  Isn't.  Even.  Necessary.

To carry on grudges or arguments or injuries over the past of ten days ago or ten years ago is a waste of one's own health; mental, social, and physical.  We can show mercy the moment we choose.  And the Word says that God will show mercy on the scale that we show mercy.  His advice is, Don't leave home without it (James 2:10-13).  Our seeming joy that we can make the offender pay is only determining the sentence we will receive at the Judgment.  We determine how ours will go--what God will say to us--by the way we treat those who offend us.

Forgiveness does not reside within the behavior of the offender; but within the heartfelt action of the offended.  Bringing an end to violators is not the solution.  The end of harboring ill feelings toward them is.  We.  Are.  All.  Just.  Alike.

Our families, our businesses, and our churches are breeding houses of animosity.  Rage, in places, rages; if not openly, then silently.  Squint-eyed animosity sets up camp within every heart; but, we are the ones who can deny it the power to affect one moment of our day.  The truth is that some seem to enjoy hating as if there is no alternative.  Yet, there is immediate cure when our own mercy is shown.

Mankind is living in perpetual tempest of insult and injury.  This can be changed in a heartbeat; when we decide to change it.  We can heal the world--our personal world--by letting go of spirit-beating resentment which takes its inner toll.  We can bring new life, new strength, and new hope to society immediately.  It will never be due to another's repentance; but due to our determined, selfless forgiveness.

Be healed.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

LIVE WHELMED!

I want to inform you that your life is just pretty amazing...right now.  So many can't see; but you can.  Others have difficulties in so many other areas that would surpass the temporary stresses you face.  I don't put your struggles down.  No.  Way.  But rather, I lift your positive attributes up.

So much of life IS going your way!

You are wonder.  You live in the midst of wonder.  So...go about/be about the wonder that stands awaiting to be acknowledged and applauded.

Live whelmed.  And for those of you who wouldn't mind making more in-depth notes of the grandeur which sits upon your path...be even OVERwhelmed!!!

Way.  To.  Go.  You.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

MIGHT WE GASP AT THE WONDER OF THIS TRUTH?

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
                                                         II Corinthians 5:21.  

Jesus, the one who never sinned, traded places with you/with me.  He became wrong that we could become right.  Let me reword this a bit.  He became VERY WRONG that we could become VERY RIGHT.  

Our do-good deeds don't count when it comes to sin eradication.  Such are absolutely useless.  The shed blood of Jesus is the sticking point; our spirit cleanser.  Church attendance doesn't cut it.  Good deeds are no match.  Paint thinner is useless in mopping up our trails of sin.

Note from the above text that Jesus became, not like the sinner but, the sin itself.  Hanging upon the rugged lumber formed into a torturous Cross was slander, adultery, thievery, gossip, dishonesty.  On the list of sins may grow.

Step back a moment.  Peer toward the strewn body of Jesus dangling in public view.  Emaciated, no longer recognizable as to exactly who he is, this Man took on our sins.  Get it.  Think about it.  He became our very darkest deeds themselves.  Get it.  Think about it.  

This is to be noted with incredible strength.  This moment upon the Cross is so very and deeply raw that the Father of Jesus walked out.  God walked away.  He could not fellowship....sin.  And...not coincidentally...the light of that mid-day went out.  The whole eerie scene turned as dark as night in mid-afternoon.  

Do gasp. Revisit this scene today and again tomorrow.  Realize, my friend, that this man called Jesus is more than a Sunday School term for little children.  He is the one...the only one...in history that didn't just die for the sinner; but he actually became our sin on the Cross.

What's the point?  God had it out with sin and destroyed its eternal impact.  He obliterated the penalty of sin by becoming it Himself.  This.  Is.  Surely.  Great.  Love.  

It was our sins which were nailed to the Cross.  Might we still gasp at the wonder of this truth?  It's too much to take in.  But know this...Jesus became our sin that we might become his righteousness.  

The trade has been made.  Believe it.  We are free to believe it!!

Monday, August 14, 2017

WE MUST NOT LET RELIGION GET IN THE WAY OF CHRIST-IANITY

The four gospels are consistent with repetitive pattern; religion and Jesus do not mix.
This.  Is.  Their.  Message.  Of.  Which.  We.  Are.  Still.  Learning.

The church, which is to be the body of Christ on earth today, has a fierce ongoing battle which must be faced.  Yet, basic indifference has transpired.  The light has gone out in much of the spiritual terrain for the Son of God has been placed by a religious ego of sorts known as "we do church right".

We are in desperate need for the Spirit of God to awaken us.  Awaken us; not the unbelieving world, not the thieves and robbers and swindlers...but us!  A growing picture is developing in far too many places which replicates the garden scene; Jesus praying while the disciples tip over in contented slumber.  

Religion puts one to sleep in the midst of the very process of vital activity.  The constant repeating of acts of worship gradually becomes that which is worshipped....not God....in all religions.  Christ-ianity, on the other hand, is vibrant with anticipatory enthusiasm for the worshipper senses a reality of one's spirit connected to the reality of One's Spirit.

Imagination becomes fascinated as the heart engages in bringing God honor.  One at this juncture has no taste for going through the church motions.  The craving for the Higher cannot be satisfied by the habits of the Lower.

Religion is all about motions.  We call a portion of it "acts of worship".  The question for us is, "Are we genuinely, actually, actively worshipping God?"  Indeed, this accomplishment is rewarding, renewing, and rebuilding.  We must praise something (Someone) bigger than ourselves.  Otherwise, we will continually be watching the one(s) better than us...and such a one(s) will eventually have a clay foot fall off.

It is a daily call, I believe, because it is a daily war to not let religion get in the way of Christ-ianity.  I preached Bible too many years without preaching the Christ of the Bible.  I had my slants, my perspectives, and my applauded/lauded stances; all the while, Jesus was not the centerpiece of ministry and labor.  May we gain new momentum and then renewed momentum day by day.

Christ is to be the key in the term Christ-ianity.  Religion and Jesus do not mix; but, oh how we still try to make the two fit into our preferred forms.


Sunday, August 13, 2017

DELEGITIMIZING THE FACT OF FAITH?

An interruption to faith does not mean that the realm of faith is a false premise.  There are those in abundant number who perport exactly such a measure though.  These are quick to point out the slightest thread of Christianity gone awry as verification that faith is some sort of imaginary hoax.  I believe a "weak crutch" is what they oft times describe it.

Faith sees what isn't yet.  That's enough to cancel pursuit for many.   Yet, that's its secret weapon and it matters because...it is true.  Faith is the lifeblood of our day.  To pooh-pooh it without serious probe is catastrophic for any and all.

Every one of us lives by faith in some degree that hits interruption; yet, we do not boast that there is not reality of faith, do we?  How many have left the house with intent (faith, as it hadn't happened yet) to bolt off to work?  Yet, in the driveway sits a flat-tire.  I thought you were going to work (by faith that's where you were headed)!  Your intent (faith/belief) was deterred for a bit....but you eventually got to your job.

Have you ever planned on Monday to golf on Tuesday only to find storms arrived overnight and continued during the next day?  Did you golf?  No.  Hadn't you planned by faith to do so?  Yes.  So how's this faith thing going for you?  According to the many, faith should be dropped from any and all discussions because what some had planned as absolute didn't happen.

So it is in the spiritual world of sheer faith.  We are engaged and embedded in a belief system that is quite legit.  Interruption?  Well....there is not interruption at all because faith's very nature is full of options.  We begin immediately in our minds (faith) to work an alternative plan.  (We will work an hour later at the office due to that flat tire and we can golf next Tuesday.)  Faith's flexibility bugs the those bent on doubting its most essential nature.

Yes, flexibility is key.  Faith never gives up.  Faith is the terrain and the substance of all hope.  Adjustment defies rules.  We will get to work regardless of interference and we will join the foursome.  Too many, however, shut down when the slightest interruption happened in their faith/church world because they assume that when matters don't work out that faith has been delegitimized.  Not.  True.

We are called to walk by faith and not by sight because faith is the real.  The flat tire by no means signals you won't make it to work.  Your faith says you have options.  The rainy day does not transfer to sell the clubs.  Your faith says you will win over this time-restricted contest.  And...you succeed with both.

So to the doubters of Christian faith out there, you are barking up a mistaken tree.  I know, you believe you've got this church/faith thing all figured out because you've noted inconsistencies like sins, sinners, and even death.  However, all of these are our flat tires and our rain-delays.  Jesus has them all covered.  Your charting of our failures feel quite pleasing to your egos, but what you haven't remembered is that faith always trumps the previous day(s) failures and interruptions.

Jesus has changed the game, the rules, and the results.  Really.  And, truth be told, every person already understands quite well the deep practicality of the realm of....legitimate faith....don't we? I would ask that you possibly rethink your position of delegitimizing faith for it is both practical as well as authentic.

Reschedule your tee time with God.  We all have had to do so somewhere along the storms of life.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

WHERE THE CHRISTIAN WORLD MUST GET A GRIP

This is just my observation, but I believe that the bulk of mankind is wasting a huge portion of its breathing, walking, and talking time.  I speak, not from a sense of criticism but, with intent to be one of those voices in our lives which would join the ranks of assisting each other in moving forward...as well as upward.  Regardless of age, there will always be room for attainable improvement.  This would be called growth and maturity.

I believe that our inner part (our spirit) is carrying a dis-ease that could be compared to a chronic headache or back pain.  That ailment is so ultra-subtle that it goes unnoticed only to be detected by Spirit x-ray.  I speak of the sin of being aggravated and disliking those around us.

"Oh, that's a problem?"  Oh, yes.  It's ruling our world in so many cases.

We must get a grip on this glut of enemyism for it's eating our lunches seven days straight each week.  I'm not necessarily speaking of any deeper violation than that there are those in our lives that we just don't like because of one or one hundred injurious moves they have committed against us.  So?  We have determined to shut them off as no good, unnecessary...and totally not like self.

But...this latter observation is where we are wrong....precisely and devastatingly so.

Why can we not a get a grip that when it comes to sin, we are all alike?  The answer is we tend to give ours an explainable pass while throwing condemnation at all others whom we have determined with enormous conviction that we don't like and won't ever like....again!  But there's a hitch with this mindset.  We have forgotten that we are all just alike.

Consider the apostle who regarded himself as least in the kingdom, "For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves to themselves, they are without understanding."  (II Cor. 10:12)

I make a tremendous amount of mistakes.  So much so that I battle shutting down because of how old I am and, yet, I remain so foolish, silly, and weak at times.  So how is it that I can still think of myself as better than another?  Any other?  This verse says I'm precisely like all others.  And, it declares the same of you.

Rather than carry a grudge, you might find life to be a greater dimension of joy and robust enthusiasm if you would get a grip on your own great lack.  Such isn't a negative thought, but rather a most powerful piece of lasting and meaningful encouragement.  We can do better at loving others and the good news is....that it's only a thoughtful determination away!

Friday, August 11, 2017

IMAGINARIUMilisticly SPEAKING

IMAGINARIUM is my new role; my new mission.  The concept is so off of the wall that I can't define it well.  I can't even define it average.  But, it is full of hope and joy and wonder because it is based upon faith in what God can, might, and will do that I/we have zero ability to coerce.  Well coercion is there....but only through the invisibles such as faith, and prayer, and stepping out onto the waters with no footing.

And...I'm very enthused about the practice and the potential and the possibilities.

This venture will be embedded in the Ephesians 3:19-20 promise of God.  I want to knock on doors, His doors, for ways to cheer on the entire world.  I believe that as the universe in which we live has yet to be fully discovered, so it is with the spiritual portion.

Have university labs discontinued experimentation for hopeful discovery for improvement in farming, medicine, education?  Nope.  Then, I say more so are we to dig into the truths and the vision of God's call....for it is His calling in this direction.

IMAGINARIUMilisticly SPEAKING, we get to enjoy this life God affords.  And one of those major factors is that He calls us to be new day by day which would include search, research, and discovery!

You....me....may we continue to SPEAK IMAGINARIUMilisticly.  Let this become a new language for the church!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

LET'S START AN AVALANCHE OF HOPE!

Not one person is immune to negative, frustrating, routine disappointment.  Every person--as in every--faces combat in their particular trenches every day.  The temptation to yield to the dark trend seems overwhelming from time to time.  And, I say let's do something about it.  At your fingertips today is a tool poised to cause an avalanche of hope...and that's exactly what we are going to do.

People--as in all--need encouragement and re-encouragement.  This need isn't a one-time fits all; but rather is a daily need for all.  Today we are going to tackle one of the greatest calls ever.  You can change the world for two or ten and when 1000 of us do it (we have 3600 readers here so I just tossed out a low number) for IMAGINARIUM'S sake.  Think what would happen if 3600 followed through!

So here's what I am asking you to consider.  Would you select 2 to 10 friends today; some would be very close to daily walk while others would be friends; yet there isn't all that much of regular contact between you.  Would you send them a note informing them of two things: (1) why it is that you admire and love them today, and (2) asking them to select their 2 to 10 to do the same...asking those 2 to 10 to do the same.

Y E S....we will start an avalanche of hope for hearts that we may have not thought needed such a project of wonder!  Let's go for it!!

Yay you...and yay me!!!

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

FEELING SUPERIOR TO OTHERS? DON'T. GO. THERE.

Man has a debilitating practice which perpetually shoots oneself in the spiritual foot of intended progress.  I speak of an attitude of superiority stacked against our fellow man...any and every fellow man.  Such a disposition or stance sucks the life right out of us; even while we inwardly crow that we are not like "them".

Jesus did his best to reverse our self-saturation of believing that we are individually elite-illistically right while noting the errors of THEIR many ways.  In one place He referenced two men praying in the temple.  The religious hound stood thanking God that he was not like others...who were, in his eyes, blatant oughta-know-better sinners.  This one of towering prayer practice believed that he had avoided all of THOSE pitfalls....Luke 18:9-14.

Yet, Jesus didn't buy the Pharisees comparative lingo.  The reason?  The praying man was not close to being superior to the one whom he regarded as a shameful sinner.  God's teaching here and numerous other texts is consistently revealing that only the humble grasp His call to allow Him to make us right(eous) because we can't produce such on our own.

So how are you/we doing?  Do you ever feel superior to another social class?  A race?  A creed?  An accomplishment?  Are you ever caught thanking God that you are not weak like others, you don't have a skin tone like others, or you haven't a mistaken sexual preference like others do?  Do not misunderstand.  I am not condoning sin where God would condemn it.

I am saying we commit a hideous and repetitive sin when we grade ourselves as superior to another...any...other.  This kind of sin doesn't seem to bug us.  But it does God.

Why do I believe this goes on?  I do it.  I have for years.  I've thanked God that I didn't commit this and that I wasn't like that.  I've been quietly grateful that he didn't make me like....many of  them.  But...Jesus came along and broke me.  Oh, I try to hold on to the reigns of effective elite-ism, but Truth won't dare let me set up camp there for I am the least, the weakest, the greatest failure that I've ever met.

This doesn't permit me to accept anothers' lifestyle if it is against the nature of God.  But it reminds me every time that not one person is lower on the Totem Pole of righteousness than I am.  Accepting a lifestyle and accepting a sinner are two different matters.  Jesus eradicated sin....and made the sinner his sister and brother.  Jesus hated sins....and dearly loved those who practiced them.

When you have those days of feeling superior to others because you don't commit THEIR sins, think again.  Each of us is always least to all others and it is this profound route that makes life pop with hope...and with power...and with God's glorious leadership style.

Feeling superior to others?  Don't.  Go.  There.                                                                            

Sunday, August 06, 2017

THE INNER PUZZLE OF CHURCH

The Kingdom of God isn't handy.  Neither is it comprised of moody do-gooders when opportunities of service are convenient.  No, life in the synchronization of the Master is an all-in matter which will chase the most of us all the way to our graves.  Yet, we will continue to try for our hearts deeply desire to bring Him honor and mankind hope.

My good colleague Jason Thornton preached this morning about our commitment being all in.  The challenge is nothing new.  Yet, due to our bent on playing life safe (and church safer), his words rang new yet again.  There's something about God's declaration that His followers are made new day by day.  This is one of the funnest things ever that, even as we age, we find ourselves feeling newer than the calendar confirms.  This is His promise when we follow Him; new day by day.

That commitment Jason proposed is a struggle for many; if not all.  Here may be one reason why.  We like to put puzzles together; but we basically stop once all of the edge pieces are connected.  The inner pieces are more difficult to place.

So it is in the church life.  Putting the edge parts of church life together are simple to the point the basic masses may engage.  Attending is fundamental as is taking communion, singing, and listening to another pray...briefly.  But those inner pieces of the kingdom puzzle come with delicate requirement of sober attention coupled with intended application.

The Inner Puzzle finds the need to pray...often...with depth...of faith.  The IP calls for sobering giving of what we would naturally rather keep for ourselves.  Too, IP insists that we love others...all kinds of others...from those whom we love dearly to those we would rather enjoy detesting.

Because of the Inner Puzzle reality, the kingdom life isn't for sissies.  Placing the edges of church participation together without concentration upon learning just exactly how the inner pieces also fit will always leave one stranded without ever seeing the complete picture.

There...that's why the Inner Puzzle of the church is important.  The world can't see the value of the church if we only live from the edges of easy assembly.  Furthermore, we will never offer the world a picture of understanding the spiritual life if we refuse to be connected together.  Once harmony in the Holy Spirit is connected, our neighbors will begin to see the picture of God's glory.

MORE GOOD NEWS: YOU GET TO DECIDE

A tornado breezed through Tulsa during the night rearranging furniture, lifting vehicles...and destroying much property.  Several individuals were rushed to ER.  Damage is extensive as winds were high and rains were intense.

Seeing the debris caused me to reflect on Jesus for he is surely the reverse-tornado.  Jesus wreaks havoc with sin and sin debris by swooping in and putting wrecked situations back together again.  He is the one who passes over us with healing rather than harm.  He restores rather than demolishes.  He re-assembles families and friends rather than unravels.

The good news is pretty fascinating as well.  When the dark weather-storm of a tornado hits, its movement is random and well beyond our control.  But when the reverse-tornado of Jesus comes into play, you and I get to decide whether we allow its entrance into our situations.  We can choose to see relationships healed or we can opt for a disgruntamental attitude which only perpetuates the division.

The good news is that you get to decide.  Your option is current, applicable, and poised with healing fascination.  Why you would you opt to decline such a potent grace available for your walk (your heart)?  The decision is all yours.

Might this be a day of restoration for you as you decide to throw down those matters which keep your heart at bay from those around you?  The result can be sheer wonder and delight of life itself?  You decide.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

WHY REACH TO OTHERS WITH YOUR FAITH?

Faith is often said to be a private matter between one and his or her God.  While such a statement is certainly socially acceptable, it pretty much sabotages what our God has in mind for us.  We are called to reach, to extend, our faith in Him to others.

Why is this the case?  God wants everyone to have a relationship with Him.  His news is far different than any other.  His ways are higher than man's ways.  This Word must spread and God chooses to do so via the human voice; one to another, to another, etc.  We, individually, are anticipated to reach forward to our neighbors, our friends, even to our enemies regarding the overwhelming relief and hope God offers through Jesus.

Why, then, are we to really extend our faith to others?

   1.  God calls us to do so.  We are to share who He is, what He does, and how He reverses life.
 
   2.  (All) Others want to know.

The first reason is generally accepted and believed.  But, the latter one?  Ummm, not so much.  Our personal outreach takes a huge hit when we doubt that colleagues would be interested in faith toward God.  We hesitate.  We refrain.  We withdraw out of our own fear and doubt.  The option is....we go to church and sing about Him to ourselves with hestiation that we could effectively extend His grace to others.

Everyone wants to know God!  Every!  One!

What I've learned is that they may not want to know Him on my timetable; but they will want to know Him.  These may not be ready to meet Him on my Tuesday night outreach schedule; but they will want to know Him.  Why do you think that the day will come when every knee will bow at the sight of Jesus?  All have it within us to believe Him.

Embedded within every person is a seed faith toward loving and desiring to know our Creator.  There.  Is.  No.  Exception.

Two things are true.  Each of us will die and each of us will live again.  Just as the seed is buried only to sprout through a resurrection process following death, we follow the pattern.  Death isn't the end and God verifies this through each Spring's planting season.  By faith, the farmer believes the Harvest is coming.

But not everyone knows of this system.  They believe we are born, die, and eventually done.  But why do you think we have a calendar with a date on it?  At date of two-thousand seventeen years....from what?  You know that the calendar switched historically from B.C. to A.D.  The reason is the birth of Christ.  He is so real, so believable, that the very thing hanging on our walls or perched upon our desks declares that, in reality, the date has extended one more day from the time He was born.  Jesus is verifiably the real deal.

There is a reason for faith in God.  We have no other means of knowing Him.  Yet, He is more real than reality.  The world in general is blinded by what it can see while faith sees what can't be seen.  We each are in desperate need of the latter.  We who have been reached are to reach toward others that faith may spread and God is perpetually reintroduced to His own created populace.  That's why.