Commentary · Confessions

Living in the Romance

“Praise Jesus, I’ve been saved, sanctified, and filled with the Holy Ghost!”

Ever said this, or heard someone say something similar. There’s not a lot wrong with it, the intentions of it are pretty good. But, there’s a problem I want to point out… it’s all in the past tense.

prostrateSee we have a tendency to live our life in God in the past tense and not in the present tense and in future tense. We base our eternal future destination by what we did in the past. For example, if you’re a Christian and you’re reading this you likely have a date that you were converted to the faith and “got saved”. Maybe you joined a church and got baptized. Those are all good things. But that is not where the story ends, nor what Christianity is all about.

Continue reading “Living in the Romance”

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Commentary · Meditation

Present and Presence

It seems that us church folks love to focus on the past and on the future of God’s history, while neglecting the present. We study the history of God, what He has done and how He has done it… i.e. creation, covenant, laws, relationships with men and women, ext…

And we study the future reign of God and how He will return. Who will be receiving His wrath and why they will according to the history that we know of God.

We stretch out our arms grabbing with our left hand the past of God, and use our right hand to stretch out to the future of God and pull them together to create a kind of life that is chalked full of God stories and God vision.

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Yet, the part of the story of God is that He is not just a God of the past and the future, but He is also a God of the present. In fact I believe that God does not adhere to the same time and space laws we do. He is somehow always present, He is somehow still able to see and interact with times past and is already waiting in times future.

And He calls us out of our history books and future prophecies to dwell with Him here and now, specifically through the laying down of our lives and reception of His eternal, everlasting, abundant life that is held in His all-powerful tight grip.

On the other hand there is a life of living IN the Spirit of God that overflows from the present to make our timelines all “mush”. A life that sees death coming and laughs “for to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

There is a life that makes since of the stories… and makes way for stories to be written, even today, of God miraculously changing the world through mere humans.

This is what a life of God is all about, His present and His presence.

Bible Devotions

Devoted: Transfigure Orginally Published: March 31, 2010

Matthew 17:1-9 (The Message)

1-3 Six days later, three of them saw that glory. Jesus took Peter and the brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain. His appearance changed from the inside out, right before their eyes. Sunlight poured from his face. His clothes were filled with light. Then they realized that Moses and Elijah were also there in deep conversation with him.

4Peter broke in, “Master, this is a great moment! What would you think if I built three memorials here on the mountain—one for you, one for Moses, one for Elijah?”

5While he was going on like this, babbling, a light-radiant cloud enveloped them, and sounding from deep in the cloud a voice: “This is my Son, marked by my love, focus of my delight. Listen to him.”

6-8When the disciples heard it, they fell flat on their faces, scared to death. But Jesus came over and touched them. “Don’t be afraid.” When they opened their eyes and looked around all they saw was Jesus, only Jesus.

9Coming down the mountain, Jesus swore them to secrecy. “Don’t breathe a word of what you’ve seen. After the Son of Man is raised from the dead, you are free to talk.”

Would do you think Peter, James, and John talked about as they came down the mountain after Jesus transfigured? Maybe they needed to change their tightie whities? Maybe they were pale and fear-struck with eyes wide open? If I were there, I might have asked Peter, “What were you saying? Can’t you keep your mouth shut for two minutes?” Nevertheless, the same bearded Jesus, who the disciples had been following, transformed before their very eyes and turned into a human light bulb. Words as loud as a train came from Heaven. But how did the disciples get to this place with Jesus? Is this a place Jesus would be willing to take us now? It all depends.

Let me tell you about Alaina. Alaina is my friend Mike’s daughter. She’s two years old and full of life and honestly full of herself. She has short blonde hair and daring blue eyes. Alaina is not like most two year olds; she prefers to be independent – like leave home at any moment independent. It’s not out of her character to simply go to bed without a parent knowing it or even tucking her in. She is amazing.

Let’s say Mike and Alaina are planning on having a “daddy-daughter date” one Saturday. Under normal circumstances, considering Alaina’s character, lets look at how this day might go down. Alaina gets herself together, and after breakfast, grabs Mike by the hand and takes him to her pink and white, soft, girly room. She shows him all of her toys, proceeds to color with him, and then she decides to watch a movie. You get the picture, she does all that is in her little heart to do with her daddy and they have a great ol’ time.

Okay, so second scenario, let’s say Alaina decides to snap out of character, and she lets Mike plan the day. They eat, and then they hit the road. Mike takes Alaina to the nearest zoo, where he shows her large, wonderful beasts that she had never imagined existed. Just when Alaina thought it couldn’t get any better, Mike takes her to the arcade, and they play games together until she’s ready to fall over from her exciting day.

So back to the scripture, Jesus took Peter, James, and John led them up a mountain. I’m sure James or John could have led the expedition to somewhere cool, maybe to their house where they could have cast lots on their Wii. But this first phrase in this passage carries such great weight in the outcome of the story. Jesus took… and led them…

As we are choosing to be disciples and devote ourselves to God, one simple choice will weigh heavy in our outcome. Will we choose to let Him lead us, or will we try to lead Him?

Prayer is the single most important aspect of our faith; it is our lifeline that stretches to Heaven. If we can apply this principle of letting God lead us, we can go places with God we could never have imagined. But much like Alaina, we like our nominal, comfortable experiences. But look at what Alaina missed when she decided to lead Mike – she missed all of the excitement and joy Mike had in store for her.

When people think of discipleship, they have this bleak view of life lived in monkish dryness. We think we must leave “the world,” act real “good,” and never do anything enjoyable ever again. This is a terrible tragedy and is a result of devotional lives lived absent of God’s daily leading.

You want excitement and life? Devote yourself to God and practice the spiritual disciplines daily; but as you discipline yourself, realize that the point of these disciplines is to learn to enjoy God. Make it a daily habit of letting Him lead your devotions. Let him lead your prayer time. He just might take you to a mountain and show you a thing or two.

Bible Devotions · Commentary · Uncategorized

Cut to the Heart

Do you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength?

This was the question Jesus posed to the religious leader in Mark 12. He, like us, interpreted Jesus’ cutting words as “THAT is some really good teachin’!” Because we have the enormous privilege of having all access to God’s word we have allowed the most amazing words ever to be uttered to become too familiar. We’ve  turned them into pleasantries, instead of heart breaking challenges.

Jesus establishes His Kingdom by helping people come to terms with their deficiencies, so that they might find that His provision is more than enough. In like fashion His people are called to do the same.

This is how Hell fire and brimstone preaching works. Not that it is right or the way of Christ. But it shakes people out of their slumber.

Jesus did it over and over again in the gospels. He cut people straight to the heart. Nicodemus came to Him in the night pontificating and Jesus CUT STRAIGHT to his heart “You must be born again!” The rich young ruler came to Him wanting to be justified and He told him to “Sell all you have and follow me!” Peter did it at Pentecost.

Yes, there are wonderful things we can learn about the statements, about the Greek, about the culture of that time etc. etc. etc. But don’t miss the fact that Jesus most always needed to sober people up to the Kingdom.

The reality is that God’s love for us is so very immense that whatever causes us to crack and see Him gets overshadowed by His goodness. There is no dark thing that the Light of God’s love can’t out shine.

Application:

  1. Ponder that first question I asked at the top of this page. Bring it into prayer and allow the Lord to meet you in the answer.
  2. Realize the enormous love God has for you and depend on it. Make it such a fabric of your being that you become willing to call someone else out of the slumber of their sad lives unto that same love. Be willing to be that girl or guy. It’s the way of the Kingdom.
Bible Devotions · Commentary · Uncategorized

Supposed (Luke 2:44 Reflection)

The first red letters of the New Testament come at the climax of Luke chapter 2 when Jesus’ family visited Jerusalem for Passover.

“Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?”

In the midst of this short story I believe we are exposed to a CRITICAL character trait about the Lord Jesus, to follow Him. His family “supposed” Him to be in the caravan but He was not.

How many times do we do things and suppose Jesus is with us? How many times do we take action and suppose this is what Jesus wants us to do? Are we at a job we suppose Jesus has called us to?

In fact, supposing goes against the act of following. People who are fond of Jesus are sharply separated along these lines. We can confidently recognize one group as disciples and the other group…. not.

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Bible Devotions · Commentary · Uncategorized

Habits of Strong Disciples

(I totally hijacked an entire article on weight training/power lifting by Jim Wendler and changed about 25 phrases to reflect a life of discipleship. The bold words are mine the rest is his. The original article is here www.jimwendler.com/2015/09habits-of-strang-lifters/. He has some pretty brilliant training perspectives. As you’ll see bleeding through this re-written article)

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Consistency

Without a doubt, the strongest and best disciples in the world have consistently busted their buns in the prayer room. For decades. Not weeks, not a year, but decades.  There are genetic freaks out there that achieve a high level of spirituality quickly, but comparing yourself to them is unfair and will probably drive you out of the faith and into a 10-year “I hate church” bender. Now, consistency doesn’t always mean they’re going all out, every day. It means they chip away slowly, but surely.

Drive/Perseverance

Even with failures, hard times, faltering of spiritual leadership, terrible churches, etc., the great disciples will find a way to adapt and overcome. If that means following Christ alone in your own sanctuary at your house, they do it. If that means having to train in a mega church by themselves, they get it done. If that means they have to train around wounds, they research and find a way. Nothing will stand in their way and when an obstacle appears, they don’t get frustrated; they simply find a different route around it. It’s easy to be motivated and excited to pray when everything is going your way. It’s another thing to hit a wall, scramble, kick, and scratch until you look back and see the marks of blood and sweat you leave behind.

Continue reading “Habits of Strong Disciples”

Bible Devotions · Bible Interpretation · Christian · Meditation · Uncategorized

Being Human

(This was written to be read allowed as a devotional for ADD listeners like myself.)

A friend asked how I was doing the other morning and I responded “I’m here… I am human”. I was training for a race and my feet hurt. I had been doing too much on every level. Real life stuff, here. I guess I could have just said that I was “doing great!”. But it wasn’t that type of friend and besides, I’m becoming more and more comfortable with the status of my humanity.

For seemingly well intended reasons we find all kinds of reasons to remain reserved when interacting with one another. Even in some of our most intimate relationships we still don’t feel safe enough to share some of our true feelings and perspectives. Surely this is a problem.

Sharing all of our inner workings is an error, of course. In fact that can be a different problem all together. More important is the way in which we live so very isolated among plenty of people and find ourselves feeling lonely.

Jesus taught us to call God our Father which was vastly different from the religious teachings of his time. One of the most unique facets of Christianity when compared to the varied strands of philosophy and religion is the right to “become children of God”. This was one of the most unique things Christ brought to our attention: creator, all-powerful, brooding over the darkness, hand spanning across the universe God is our daddy.  It was on this point that the religious of Jesus’ day had such a hard time. Continue reading “Being Human”

Commentary

From the Future

History has the ability to haunt us. Be it our personal history, family history, or the history of our nation. Yet, the future has a way of bringing us hope, optimism, perseverance, and a bold joy that breaks down the structures of evil.

In recent weeks and months, we have all been reminded as a nation of the extended struggle we’ve had with racial injustice. Although we’ve made gigantic strides ahead throughout the last century, in recent months we’ve witnessed grave injustices in our law enforcement, the tragedy in Charleston, the hate crimes towards local churches and their congregants, and numerous other incidents. It seems that with each of these instances a corporate shudder strikes in us and is a reminder of our painful and shameful past; A past that some choose to use to fuel hatred and bitterness. But for most of us, this past is a very real bruise from which we’re trying to recover. (I think it would be wise to add here that no two of us have had the exact same experiences that would allow any other person to bring complete resolution or speak exactly where we all are. Only God has that capability.)

It seems that no matter how hard we try to outlive our past, with the grave infractions perpetrated by a very small percentage of our population, we are seemingly brought back to square one. I say “seems” because we are so susceptible to allowing the events of the past to dictate our lives. But that does not have to be the case. Continue reading “From the Future”

Confessions

Progressive Surrender

To say my ambition is dead sounds a little morbid. And an exaggeration. My dreams and visions have had time to reign in my life and for the most part those things had their day. I’ve accomplished things in my life–things that others climbing everest mount-photohaven’t; things to be proud of. But the effort to tame and steer those ferrel dreams has become too much for me. In my pursuit of them I’ve realized that my dreams and how I want them realized are akin to mirages. They seem to be great in the planning and development, but the fulfillment has left me feeling just as empty and dissatisfied as I did when they were unfulfilled.

It seems to me that many, if not all, of those dreams for my life and the people that I envisioned being in them were good and God given. Plans to help others, plans to nurture people and to lay down my life in the process. The thing is–when it comes to participating in God’s Kingdom only Christ’s dream can being fulfilled and it is meticulous and perfect. As much as we, in certain glimpses of time, try and capture the essence of how everything works by making estimations and conclusions, it’s only a matter of time before the proverbial kaleidoscope of time shifts and we find ourselves attempting to make sense of the absolute mayhem that ensued as a result of our decisions. From my estimation most people are in one of 2 stages: the figuring out and controlling stage, or in the stage of becoming aware of how random and seemingly untame this life really is. Continue reading “Progressive Surrender”