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Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Center of It All
There has been a clear message I have been hearing over the last week.  That is:  Jesus is the center of life. 

He was there from the beginning (John 1:1-22).  Through him all things were created (John 1:3).  The Father's love makes him the source of our life (John 3:16).  At his word, life is restored to the body (John 4:46-53).  Jesus is life (John 14:6).  Apart from him there is nothing believable (John 14:6 - "I am the...the truth...").  He is the vine from which we draw life (John 15:1).

If there is a way.  If there is a truth.  If there is life.  It is in Jesus.  To pursue any other course is life-less.

Life is more than the animation of our bodies (which Jesus has control over - John 1:1-22; 4:46-53) and exists apart from our physical bodies.  The appearance of spirits after his crucifixion (Matthew 27:50-54), the appearance of Moses and Elijah with Jesus in front of Peter, James, and John (Matthew 17:1-8), the resurrection of Jesus (Matthew 28:1-7) all point to the fact that life (i.e. that part of us that makes us who we are) is not of flesh and blood.  Jesus preexisted the physical and He lives even now.

The "who" of who we are exists because of Jesus, subsist because of Jesus, and persists because of Jesus.  Any other path is a "dead end".
8:28 am edt 

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

By Chance
Our home church had an interesting discussion last week.  We are going through the book of Acts reading with the question in mind:  "What is the church?  What does it do?".  We happened upon the selection of a replacement for Judas.  It appears the disciples "cast lots" in selecting God's choice for replacing Judas.  The discussion revealed some "bags" we picked up in our experience with organized religion and a tactic I believe Satan uses to confuse and divide us.  Let's start with Satan's tactic. 

I am convinced that Satan uses words and the corruption of their meaning to distract us and distort God's intentions.  C.S. Lewis wrote of this in the "Screwtape Letters".  The serpent demonstrated this in the garden with Eve ("Did God really say...").  Language and words are tools.  They are neither good nor bad by themselves.  It is our use or misuse of them that gives them positive or negative value.

The second topic is the "bag" we picked up from organized religion.  I tried to look up the word "gambling" in the Bible.  Didn't find it.   I looked up the definition of "lucre" (as in "filthy lucre").  It means "sordid".  Please hear me out.  I am not defending gambling nor am I promoting gambling as a way of using the resources God has given us.  I am suggesting that much of our stance on the topic is based in tradition and not scripture.  Which leads to the practice of "casting lots"...

I believe we see the practice (Casting Lots) in scripture as a faith demonstration (i.e. the use of an act of chance as an opportunity for God to intervene and demonstrate His will).  This involved faith that God was able to superintend the "lots" so that His will would be obvious.  Refer to the following scripture:   1 Chronicles 26:12-19 and Jonah 1:7-17.  In addition to "lots" we also find the Priests using stones called Urim and Thumim as elements in which God communicates his will. 

Urim meaning "light" and Thumim meaning "stone".  These stones were used by the priests (and leaders of God's people) to discern God's decision on matters regarding His people.  Refer to the following passages: Numbers 27:21; 1 Samuel 14:38-42; Ezra 2:63. 

Practices of chance were demonstrations of faith when used by God's people to discern God's will.  They weren't used to win or make money (i.e. gambling) but they were none the less acts of chance.

As disciples, we need to be careful that God's Word isn't corrupted.  It could be corrupted by Satan's distortion and misuse of language or it could be corrupted by the "bags" of tradition condemning both the "baby" and the "bath water" because of man's sinful nature.  It can also be corrupted through improper interpretation... so check me out on this.  Please share your comments and feedback.
3:29 pm edt 

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

What Matters Most
I'm experiencing some frustration right now.  I have felt, seen, and experienced God's direction and work in and through me recently in a profound way.  At the same time, I am experiencing frustration in my interactions with "the world".  The "world" could be (has been) my job, driving in Columbus, or the news.  I believe and recognize that the Opposition is at work.  Times of growth and productivity in the Kingdom seem to go hand in hand with opportunities to "be human" prompted by the Adversary.  I was reminded recently that the "God Moments" (those times when God brings someone into your life or chooses to use you) come when God chooses them not necessarily when I feel prepared for them.  Like wise, the times of opposition come at times not of my choosing, at times when I feel like being "human" (i.e. getting mad, expressing my frustration). 

It strikes me that how I feel isn't a determiner in what should motivate my behavior.  What matters most is that I act in obedience to God and His Word regardless of how I feel.  In Exodous 39 and 40 the phrase "...as the Lord commanded..." gets repeated multiple times.  Jesus tells us in John 14 that a consequence of our love for him will be our obedience.  I'm sure Moses felt tired and tempted to react negatively at times.  I'm sure all of God's chosen felt that way and some even gave in to their "human-ness".  But the thing that distinguished them was their obedience in faith (Hebrews 11).

I want to have a right attitude all the time.  I don't want to give in to the human that remains a part of me.  I want to be obedient.  Lord, I want you and choose you.  I want to act out my belief in you.  Help me in those times when I'm tired and tempted to be human.  Help me to be aware of what matters most.
9:23 pm edt 

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Steamrollers

What is the role of a disciple of Jesus Christ when it comes to being a witness?  I’ll submit to you that part of that role is to be a “Steamroller”!

 

The image comes from Isaiah’s (Isaiah 40:3-8) and Matthew’s (Matthew 3:3; 11:7-15) account of John.  His role was to flatten the obstacles so that when Jesus arrived He could change lives.  That torch was passed to the disciples when Jesus sent out the 72 (Luke 10 – see also Matthew 10).  By the time we get to the book of Acts, the disciples are all about being witnesses (Acts 1:22; 2:11; 2:17; 4:2; 4:20; 4:30-31; 4:33; 5:20; 5:42; 8:4; 8:25; 10:46; 11:4-18; 13:5; 13:32; 17:2-3; 20:20-21; 20:25).  In fact, they were commanded to be witnesses by Jesus himself just before his departure (Acts 1:8).

 That’s us, you and me, the disciples of Jesus Christ making the way straight and smooth.  Flattening the obstacles that may prevent unbelievers from meeting, hearing, and accepting the life changing relationship they can have with Jesus.  We aren’t the change agents.  That is Jesus’ role.  We are path clearers, valley fillers, mountain smashers,… STEAMROLLERS.  So roll on brothers and sisters!  Be the Steamrollers you were commanded and destined to be!

 

Are there obstacles in your way?  Feel free to write me and we’ll work at flattening them.
7:34 am edt 

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Walking the Talk

How do we “walk the walk” that matches the “talk we talk”?  I wonder if the better question is:  How do make sure the “talk I talk” externally matches the “talk I talk” internally?

 

In my book “Thoughts on Becoming a Journeyman”, a recurring theme is that we only ever do what we want to do.  The challenge before us is wanting to do the “right” things.  When we want the “right” things, we will do them.  Wanting something is the alignment of my desire, my knowledge, my understanding, my beliefs.  When all four align, I act consistently.  There is a conversation that takes place within us between these four voices.  That “talk” is the ultimate arbiter of what I “walk”.

 

We get perceived as “hypocritical” (or maybe we view ourselves that way) when the “talk” that leaves our head (i.e. speech) only reflects my beliefs and not the other forces that have more influence over my behavior.  One of the things I appreciate about my church (www.journeychurchcolumbus.com) is the encouragement and support to allow my public “talk” to reflect the internal “talk” and the friends that surround me to help me get the two into alignment. 

 

I encourage you to find someone or a few “someones” who will love you, encourage you, and help you get alignment between the public and private “talk” so that you can “walk the talk”.

 

Share your thoughts or let me know if I can help.

12:10 pm edt 


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