Thursday, February 28, 2013

If God Wills...

We take responsibility as people who are under authority. There is a firmness that is rooted in the humility of knowing that we are not our own. We have been bought with a price.

"Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.' But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply 'Yes' or 'No'; anything more than this comes from evil. You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well." Matt 5:33-40 ESV

"But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your 'yes' be yes and your 'no' be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation." James 5:12 ESV

There are religions and relationships that demand absolute loyalty. Companies that want oath after oath but it is a false sense of security and many times a recipe for failure.

God knows that grace works. He gives us grace and grace allows for a 'turn the other cheek' mentality.

Broken promises cause heartache for a reason. God doesn't break any of His. His commitments are selected on the basis of omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence. Society makes the moral man out to be a God able to keep his commitments. If our commitments become our gods than we will fall under condemnation.

At the same time we can and should be 'yes' and 'no' people. As people under gracious authority we need not hem and haw.

"Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.' As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin." James 4:15-17 ESV

Does God have veto rights? Are there designated people in ours lives that we give an ear to that can express that also?

We can wedge our will into a problem like a crowbar hoping it is strong enough to pry the situation open or we can function by faith trusting that God answers prayer and will use an available vessel. One is striving and the other lives in rest.

As sent ones God has sent us into situations for a reason. We are dispatched as stewards and investors using Heavens currency. Let us be decisive investors saying 'Yes, I will forgive.' and 'I will go the extra mile'. We can be decisive believers affirming faith in Christ and no other and rejecting anything less than that.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


The concept heavy on my mind this morning is 'Triage.' That is when a priority is given to the kind or severity of injury.

"But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners? And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Luke 5:30-32

Does a person need immediate lifesaving surgery and a stay in the hospital or can someone simply be treated on the spot and sent home? Jesus knows... He is the great physician.

What do I come to Him for?

"Peter said to Him, 'You shall never wash my feet!' Jesus answered him, 'If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.' Simon Peter said to Him, 'Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!' Jesus said to him, 'He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.' For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, 'You are not all clean.' " John 13:8-11

I don't need the lifesaving surgery of eternal salvation again and again. We only need that once. But we do need continual care that we can not minister to ourselves. If we don't go to Him even our small wounds will fester.

We need the antibiotics of grace and mercy. They are preventive and well as treatment oriented cures.

Sometime peoples internal injuries are hidden. We seek to treat the outward when really they are dying inside. The word of grace can cut and divide into the deepest places. No infection can withstand it's power. Mercy is a healing balm. The humor and lightness that comes from a forgiven heart is also health to the bones.

There is a healer that walks in our midst. Let us go to Him and cry to Him. Let us rip up the roof to lower people down to Him. His hands heal and Him arms will embrace the best and the worst of us.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Exercised Senses

In my reading this morning the phrase 'exercised in their spiritual senses' caught my eye. It made me look for the concept in the scriptures.

"But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil." Heb 5:14

What an interesting verse to study in the Greek. The word for 'exercised' is Gymnazo (G1128) which is a repetitive lifestyle of vigorous exercise. 'Of full age' is the word Teleios (G5046) which is a picture of completion or of being perfected.

The idea is that a believer is living in an illumination of the ramifications of Christ's finished work while at the same time having a lifestyle of repetitive spiritual exercise. That exercise in not physical in nature it is perceptive in nature. It is to vigorously look and listen for something daily. The word then makes a distinction between what is beautiful and what is base or destructive.

"But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness." Titus 4:7

So we don't settle for the common, the philosophical, the mythological or the opinionated. We seek the godliness that is directly connected to what has brought us to completion. Strong meat belongs to the 'finished work crowd.' It belongs to them that are looking for something and that sense of completion is something they keep with them as they walk into the Gymnasium of study and of life. That everyday exercise is a discipline of seeking the upper things and not settling for the lower ones.

This is not an exercise of effort. It is a constant repetitive focus and exploration of our sense.

"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds." Heb 12:1-3

The ones who have gone before have witnessed and are witnesses of His glory and we fix our senses on Him now by faith having the reality of redemption color how we perceive everything else in our lives.

We look to Jesus and allow everything to pass through the filter of the cross. Thoughts pass through channels and they are directed through death, burial and resurrection instead of just entering our mind as information that is interesting but dead.

How will I see people today? Will my senses be exercised to see them through God's plan of redemption or will I just live in reaction or need?

God help us. Open our eyes and help us live in a discipline of seeking you regularly. If you reveal things today we will truly see people in correct perspective. We look to you. Thank you.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Pointing to Christ

"And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us. And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour." Acts 16:14-18

Lydia's heart was opened by God because what Paul preached was Christ's finished work and the great free provision available to all that believe.

Pointing to men only detracts from the message.

When Christ was lifted up on a cross it was an act that would draw all men to Himself. When we lift up Christ that is when people will be drawn to God.

I want the words I speak to point to Christ. If the message on my lips is His love then I will be a true minister of reconciliation.

"And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power" 1 Cor 2:1-4

The focus can't be natural horizontal focus. It must be one that points to the invisible to make it visible. It must be an unveiling of the character and nature of God and what He has done.

People will choose once they have heard it but...

"How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?" Rom 10:14

Friday, February 22, 2013

Seeds of Blessing

"And Jacob called his sons and said, 'Gather together, that I may tell you what shall befall you in the last days: 'Gather together and hear, you sons of Jacob, And listen to Israel your father...
'Joseph is a fruitful bough, A fruitful bough by a well; His branches run over the wall. The archers have bitterly grieved him, Shot at him and hated him. But his bow remained in strength, And the arms of his hands were made strong By the hands of the Mighty God of Jacob (From there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel), By the God of your father who will help you, And by the Almighty who will bless you With blessings of heaven above, Blessings of the deep that lies beneath, Blessings of the breasts and of the womb. The blessings of your father Have excelled the blessings of my ancestors, Up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills. They shall be on the head of Joseph, And on the crown of the head of him who was separate from his brothers." Gen 49:1 & 22-26 NKJV

All of Genesis 49 is a wonderful chapter.

The blessings of Jacob excelled the blessings of his ancestors and our blessings excel Jacob's blessings but they are of a like kind. Jacob the trickster was made into Israel the called out one and so were we made into new people with new identities.

The blessing of the new man is rooted in Christ Himself who is forever blessed as the name above every name.

Our bow is strong but instead of raining death down on our enemies our lips have grace and gospel words.

I want to shoot many arrows today. God please let those seeds hit fertile ground as seeds of blessing.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Easy Burden

Addiction makes people into liars. Want... Need... Want... Need... it bends the perception back and forth the back and forth until it warps or breaks under the strain. People lie to cover something. People lie to get something.

We lie to God. We deceive others for their own sake. Cultures perpetuate some grand lies while condemning the liar. The World, the flesh and the Devil all have their hand in the mix and leviathan's hide is seamless and only God has a sword strong enough to pierce it.

Men are liars. All of them are. The lies didn't make them into liars. It was the need that did it. Adam bit an apple and turned his mind away from God for a moment and once his back was turned a need grew in him that became a hole in his soul that sucks everything else into his darkness.

"For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar" Rom 3:3-4a

God has no such need. No shadow is cast on Him nor is there any in Him. He hides but is hiding deception when you hide from a blind man?

Christ had needs but His needs never mastered Him. He mastered His needs and mastered His words.

A man of his word has carved out areas of truth. He or she sets boundaries they will not cross. They set their perception against their action and vow that they will be the same thing. The hope is that there will be a purity in it. The hope that their soul will find rest in that man made shelter and in reality that place is better than living out in the wind. It is better but not much better. The bed is still too short.

Christ slept out under the stars and alienated thousands but when He gave his word it was backed by all of Heaven's power. Christ died in His integrity. A claim only He can make. It is because He lives that His word still speaks.

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matt 11:28-30

His yoke is a yoke of believing and of learning. It is not a work that is why it is easy. Other yokes produce a need for rest afterwards. Those yokes produce needs of all kinds. God's yoke does not create needs. In fact it is the opposite. His yoke creates rest.

When we believe in Jesus something happens at our center and that life makes it's way to every part of us. Truth is not based on our perception, those perceptions can change over time, Truth is a living part of who God is and that never changes. Our memory is plastic but God lives in the eternal realm.

If we live a life with God in the honesty of faith He will chip away at our addictions. They will go at once or in time and all that came with them will be taken away also. Mercy frees us. What will be left will be real and lasting.

Yoked up to God we speak the truth in love. Those words are not designed to cover our nakedness. They are words that proclaim that our nakedness has been covered.

Faith says, 'God will meet my needs.' and we can make a claim like that if we know our core needs have already been met.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Big to Small

"To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the sons of Korah. LORD, You have been favorable to Your land; You have brought back the captivity of Jacob. You have forgiven the iniquity of Your people; You have covered all their sin.
You have taken away all Your wrath; You have turned from the fierceness of Your anger." Ps 85:1-3 NKJV

In the big room of Heaven all sin has been dealt with. As we travel up and up and into the big picture of eternity that is what has been revealed to be true. Selah indeed! Marinate in that for a while. Let it wash over you.

"Restore us, O God of our salvation, And cause Your anger toward us to cease. Will You be angry with us forever? Will You prolong Your anger to all generations? Will You not revive us again, That Your people may rejoice in You? Show us Your mercy, LORD, And grant us Your salvation." Ps 85:4-7 NKJV

But, Down here on Earth in the dirty rooms of our existence it does not seem so. Cut off from God's mind man lives walking away from a garden that he has been barred from forever. Like lovers having a knock down drag out fight and one storming away in anger. Hours and days have passed and the wanderer is still living in the conflict not knowing that at home lonely meals have been eaten by one who has long since forgiven the transgression.

"I will hear what God the LORD will speak, For He will speak peace To His people and to His saints; But let them not turn back to folly. Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him, That glory may dwell in our land." Ps 85:8-9 NKJV

Christ is our anchor within the veil that connects the small to the large. He speaks words that are like water that washes and nourishes a dry and dusty land. Those in awe of Him become windows into that eternal perspective. Believers reflect truth. When throne words are spoken... Bible words... Grace words... then salvation comes near to a person. An honest manifestation of God becomes a reality when two or more are gathered in His name.

"Mercy and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed. Truth shall spring out of the earth, And righteousness shall look down from heaven." Ps 85:10-11 NKJV

The incarnation is why it all can happen. The life of Christ, His death, His resurrection and ascension and lastly His present session with the Father. The finished work is what reveals this calm Heaven where sin is not an issue. The kiss of peace says that anger has turn away.

"Yes, the LORD will give what is good; And our land will yield its increase. Righteousness will go before Him, And shall make His footsteps our pathway." Ps 85:12-13 NKJV

Those that live in this because Christ lives in them say, 'The Lord is good and will give what is good.' They say this because an invisible lofty world is now visible to them. Faith is now water they can swim in and not drown in. Heaven's air in their lungs has made them buoyant... Heaven's words glisten in their minds and have made them clean.

We need the windows of Heaven to be open. Our little room gets so stuffy when left closed. When we breathe our own recycled air we can not be comforted.

"For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears. Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus; And not by his coming only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you, when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind toward me; so that I rejoiced the more." 2 Cor 7:5-7

Friends that speak from Heaven and love that comes from Heaven is what we all need. Leaders that will not bow down before the god's of this world. Men that will inhale by faith and exhale by faith.

Salvation is close. Hope lives in a person. That person is Christ.

"The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit." Ps 34:18 NKJV

Today we can be a window. Christ is the bridge. Let's speak words from the big room today that hearts might be encouraged and that souls might be saved.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Channel of Intercession

"So they will say, 'This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden; and the wasted, desolate, and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited.' Then the nations which are left all around you shall know that I, the LORD, have rebuilt the ruined places and planted what was desolate. I, the LORD, have spoken it, and I will do it.Thus says the Lord GOD: I will also let the house of Israel inquire of Me to do this for them: I will increase their men like a flock. Like a flock offered as holy sacrifices, like the flock at Jerusalem on its feast days, so shall the ruined cities be filled with flocks of men. Then they shall know that I am the LORD." Eze 36:35-38 NKJV

This is quite a promise that God gives to Israel. Prayer is the key to it. God is giving a window of prayer and a specific channel of what to pray for. He isn't giving this nation three wishes. He is saying this is what is on the menu.

Doesn't every city need men to multiplied. Men who are like flocks of lambs for the sacrifice.

What will God 'let' the Church ask of Him today? What is on the menu? For Israel their commission was to populate the land and reveal God to the nations. The commission to the Church is to go out into the nations and reveal the Lord.

"And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.' Amen." Matt 28:18-20 NKJV

The Father says to the Son:

"Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession." Ps 2:8

The Son's prayer becomes our prayer. Missions is on God's menu. He puts it in our hand waiting to serve up redemption. He wants to make the desolate places bloom. He desires that ruined people would be fortified and alive again.

Let's ask in 'Christ's name' and live in agreement with our Heavenly intercessor. The One who ever lives to make intercession for us has this on His heart.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Brought into a Large Place

The Sunday morning message at our church here in Baltimore was so good. I was so affected by it. It was so fresh to me. The primary texts were these:

"He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me." Ps 18:19

"After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne." Rev 4:1-2

Others were used also but the concept presented that people have a life anchored to a relatively small geographical area in a town somewhere that is in a city. That city is in a country on a planet. But, as we travel upward and upward in scope all of it is contained in God Himself.

The Apostle John was taken out of his little prison into the big room of Heaven and shown the big picture of space but also of time and history. That picture is so vivid in my mind this morning.

An addiction is a prison that just seems to make my life a cell and that cell gets smaller and smaller. Jealous, envy, pride... small minded thoughts with very limiting scope.

People are looking for something that will enlarge them. To be empowered is in a way to be enlarged. Grace and truth do not enlarge us just in that way. The Father because of Christ brings us as little people into the large room of His thinking. In fact each member of the Trinity has a part in our tiny little lives to bring us out of bondage and into this expansive realm of thinking.

"For Israel slideth back as a backsliding heifer: now the LORD will feed them as a lamb in a large place." Hos 4:16

Royal thinking is large room thinking. A king must see the large picture.

Grace thinking spans the scope of space and time. It traverses the landscape of the human experience like an eagle soaring above buoyed by the breeze of the Holy Spirit. It does not look down with disdain at what is below. Wisdom just sees it all in correct perspective.

It is great to know that God is here with me now sitting at my little desk. At the same time I am there with Him sitting in His Son at the right hand of the Father. I need both vantage points to properly interpret my life.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Practical Faith

I was thinking about being a visionary but not an idealist. The visionary life is the life I want.

Faith is above all things practical in nature. It fits into every area of my life. I don't have to make it fit. If I slip into hyper-spirituality or become to theologically high minded than what I am saying can get very non-applicable to real life.

Cynicism seems practical to people given the world we live in. It however is of the wrong spirit and is devoid of faith. Cynicism can leave God totally out of the picture. If faith is the only thing that can please God how He must hate cynical thinking. But, Idealism is no better. In a way it is the good side of the tree of good and evil. Any fruit from that tree will poison a persons thinking and lead to the eventual self consciousness of feeling 'naked' before God.

It is such a privilege to be around spiritually objective people and to hear spiritually object teaching. I grounds me. I don't want to live in a mania of how I think things should be nor do I want the my mind to be darkened by fears that things will never be a certain way either. I want to live in faith!

Faith dares to dream things larger than what an individual can accomplish. David dreams about building a temple. Paul dreams about going to Rome. David didn't get to build the temple... but his son did. Paul did get to go to Rome.

None of us have to passively fit in God's plan. We are placed in it By Him and not us. In that sense it is passive. But beyond that we can be very alive and move in faith in the midst of what he is doing also.

I don't mean an endless motion but a proactive believing.

"And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams" Acts 2:17 (quoting Joel 2:28)

"I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father. I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one." 1 Jn 2:13-14

It is almost like the Apostle is writing to certain categories of people because these are the folks who are disciples. These are the people that want truth and reality and not a more comfortable life. He is aware that not everyone is going to get what he is saying. For some it is going to take awhile for it to sink in and for God to make it alive.

If you have been in a few battles you want what is practical. After seeing a few people drop off to the wayside you realize that what you have better be real.

The practical thing is to receive God's love. God's love is what makes us visionaries. Seeing Jesus is what transforms us and causes us to consider and want the faith life. The practical thing is to have the word abiding in us. Having the thought life of an overcomer is a thought life filled with faith. Living in Christ's victory equips us to go from Jerusalem to Judaea and Samaria. Then to the uttermost parts of the world here we come!

Young men need the dreams of old men and old men need the strength of young men. If God gives us time the young men grow up to be the old men and so it goes. Whoever we are we need people who will give us Christ so that we can be lifted out of self but grounded in truth.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Weeding the Garden

In Spurgeon's 'Morning and Evening' Devotional he speaks about the cultivation of contentment versus man's natural propensity towards despair and complaint. Thorns and thistles that just spring up on their own blown in from somewhere or waiting in the soil to show themselves. Precious things take diligence and directed energies.

I find this to be true. Some seasons I find that the seeds of discouragement have sprouted and grown up seemly overnight and if given any time at all to mature they become well rooted in my emotional landscape.

I don't think contentment is Heavenly in origin. There are plenty of people that have seasons of contentment after working hard to accomplish something and enjoying the fruit of their labor.

The fruits of the Spirit are Heavenly in origin.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." Gal 5:22

These are cultivated in us but not by us. They are the Spirit's fruits. The hard work we rest in was not done by us... it was done by Christ. The rest that is real and lasting rest is the Shalom that is seated at the right hand of God. The prince of peace is my peace. God waters my garden.

Do I weed my garden. Yes. Even this morning I will pluck some nasties out and chuck them into the fire of my faith as I am stirred up once again in love, what Jesus has done and what He is like. I am still not ready to face the day. That's alright... I will be.

I won't pretend that only Christians have houses. Lots of folk have houses. Their houses look much nicer than mine in fact. My house however is built on the Rock and when the storm comes I will still have a house and not a spiritual insurance claim.

It's not because I am some great guy. I am not. It's all about location... Location, Location, Location...

Contentment is cultivated and it takes time. What feeds and builds the lasting kind is the evidence of God's faithfulness. In the end if we have rest it will be because of His hard work not ours.

Watch out giants a worship team leads this army! I have a sling in my hand and a promise in my pocket with your name on it.

Friday, February 15, 2013


"Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; When he closes his lips, he is considered prudent." Prov 17:28 NAS

"But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more; that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing." 1 Thess 4:9-12 NKJV

Sometimes the best thing to do is to just be quiet and listen.

"Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you--The sure mercies of David." Isaiah 55:3 NKJV

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Old Ways

I was thinking last night about 'old lines' of thinking. How they hinder us and prevent us from accomplished what it is we set out to do.

"And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell." Matt 5:29

This image along with the one that follows that involves your right hand is so graphic and yet it provides the right kind of urgency for the task. I must cut off my old value system and my old preferred methods. Nothing short of that will work because those old things will creep back in and cause offense.

Let's say I was right handed and wanted to learn to use my left hand instead. I could tie down my right arm so it was immobile. Then in time my left hand would grow stronger and stronger. There would still come a day when I would justify setting my right arm free. After all who wants to live with one are tied down. Which arm do you think I would soon favor again.

"And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver." Acts 19:18-19

Burn baby... Burn! Toast a marshmallow over the old life. Celebrate the death of the old way and set your face like a flint. That way was complicated and expensive. Grace is simple and free.

"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. And in this matter I give my judgment: this benefits you, who a year ago started not only to do this work but also to desire to do it. So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have. For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have." 2 Cor 8:9-12 ESV

God has given us things to do. It is good if we finish what we started. Christ has finished what He started on behalf of the welfare of others. Our new thinking brings us down new pathways but those pathways are not aimless. They involve giving and building. This life is no 'yoke of service' it is a life oriented away from self and lived in love.

"For we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord's sight but also in the sight of man." 2 Cor 8:21 ESV

In a way it is a bit shocking that Paul says this. He is clearly 'anti-world' in his teaching but not a separatist. Really God's goals are similar to men's loftiest desires. Spirituality allows us a method outside of our ability to function in the best of what men and women can do and be. That is not the goal of spirituality but it is a pleasant byproduct of it.

Spiritual people can have a tenacity that is unmatched by anyone. New thinking provides the renewal that the philosopher seeks but can never attain to.

At the core the message is 'Don't Quit!'

Don't quit letting God love you. Don't quit asking God for provision. Don't stop looking at the cross and letting it change you. Sing salvation songs even with tears in your eyes. Do the next thing. Think with God by letting Christ's mind in. Draw close to people who love Jesus. Have a vision and be part of a vision that will impact lives and communities.

'Don't Quit!'

We don't put the cart before the horse and life in works. That is a trap. We live in the application of freedom. We go with God. God isn't striving.

Burn the old books but let your life pen a new one and don't quit until the last chapter is written.

The thoughts you think are so important... Now and in the coming days and stretching into forever. Burn those old books and don't go looking for them on eBay later after you have some strength. Trade all the old self-talk in for the good news of what Christ has done and you will have a 'readiness that matches what you have.'

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dear Ones

"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." 1 John 3:2

That first word 'Beloved'... in Greek it is Agapētos... It is term of great affection like darling or dear. Now we are the adult children (Teknon) of God. The is another Greek word for little children or babies. Teknon is a word that denotes real adult exchange and impartation.

In a real way we are princes and princesses although that image can conjure up Disney characters in our minds. We are not sons and daughters clothed in satin and pastels. We are not perfectly formed or behaved. Many of us do not break into song at the sight of an open meadow and blue birds do not follows us in graceful chirping little groups.

It does not yet appear what we are and will be. We do know we are adopted and each of us is incredibly special to God. So special and important that we are destined for greatness and transformation at the sight of the the One who saved us and made us this way.

"And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." 1 John 3:3

It is this hope, the hope of the finished work of Christ, that makes us want to jump into the spiritual shower and be clean. Today is a great day like a wedding or a graduation. We have a dignity that makes us want to be clean. We want to brush our hair because it is picture day.

It is the hope that cleans us up. It is not vanity or self-importance it is dignity and the expectation of greatness.

Let the little girls wear their princess dresses and don their tiaras. We love to watch them swirl and sing in shiny little shoes. Enjoy the moment and think of it again when they are 13 or 14 because they will likely be singing a different song then.

It does not yet appear what they will be or what we will be. When we see Christ there will be great music and it will issue from our lips. He has assured us a clean, new glorious future. Today let us jump into the shower of that hope with expectation of what is to come.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Gentle Questions

The power of a gentle question from God is amazing.

"Adam, Where are you?"

"Peter, Do you love me?"

"Who touched me?" Christ says in a crowd addressing a trembling woman hiding there. Coaxing her out but not exposing her.

Jesus asked the political schemers of the day, "The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men?" exposing their love of lies and disdain for truth that would not promote ambition.

The gentle question has such power. It does not knock down a wall it knocks on a door. Christ is quite harmless in His approach to us. Condemnation is not His method.

"Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" He says to the woman caught in her trespass. "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more." He was her champion not her enemy.

Those questions hold answers for us. Our God is the God of all grace. His gentleness produces greatness in us because through it we let him into our life.

I want his gentleness to wash over me and transform me. My old man is a brute at times. The new one is like a lamb. Not skittish and shy prone to be made a victim but gentle in strength. A strength that reveals a powerful divine love.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Distilled Down to Jesus

"And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole." Mark 5:25-28

Have you ever 'exhausted all' to try and have something vitally important done. I have. We are taught that if we 'Give it all we've got.' then we can get whatever it is we want in American culture. It is not a biblical teaching.

This verse was one of the main texts at our Church service last night. It was a healing service. This next verse was mentioned also.

"For he had healed many; insomuch that they pressed upon him for to touch him, as many as had plagues." Mark 3:10

Likely this woman heard about what had happened in Mark 3 and that is what gave her the idea. It turned out to be a very good idea.

"They took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus." Acts 4:13b

She had done what other people had done. She did what she heard worked but it was more than that. I hear about a spirituality that is linked to imitation of some kind and that may be an early stage of our Christian life. We do as other Godly people we see and know or respect do.

"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." 1 Cor 13:11

There must be a time where our faith is distilled down. A young person may imitate his Father or older brother but there is a point where he must become an individual and decide to take on the code of honour not just the outward trappings of it.

The outward actions of faith can be imitated but the inner condition of the heart can not be. This woman had exhausted the outward action before she made her way through the crowd. Her thought was distilled down to Jesus Himself and His person.

Then after she touched Him and she was healed. She was very willing to quietly slip back into anonymity. "Who touched me?" said Jesus. Another challenge to faith but no imitation was possible here. Trembling she responds.

Then Christ says, "Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague." Christ was not going to let her faith go unnoticed. She had seen Him and He made sure she knew that she was seen and sensed. He didn't 'out her' He initiated in a way that caused her to reveal herself in another act of faith. This would be no isolated act of faith it would be a momentum that she could live in and walk in. It was to be a lifestyle not just an event.

There is something very personal about our walk with God. It is not solitary. It influences others and is influenced by them but at it's root it is personal. Walking in faith brings to our attention God's personal nature.

We may want God to be personal to us as a condition of walking by faith but it just may be the other way around.

God is on His way somewhere today. Let's go with Him. Let's go in faith wherever He leads.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Secret of Faith Rest

Last night's study was one of those times where even late at night when I needed to sleep I didn't want to go to bed because what I heard was so important that it needed to be 'set' into my thought processes. Even now that I am awake again it shines in my mind and I am so glad I haven't somehow lost the truth. Instead it is incorporated into my line upon line of thinking.

I am very thankful. Faith rest is a kind of secret. It is how we can live when we are abased and also when we abound. Our conscience remains 'undefiled' as we rest in Him.

"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God." Rom 5:1-2

Faith rest lies outside of sight but inside of truth. It is blind to the heat but sees the good. By this confident assurance in what Christ has done we have access to the grace we are standing in.

"Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith." 1 Tim 1:17-19

"Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief." Heb 4:11

"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us" Heb 12:1

Our labour, our fight and our race is to enter into faith rest and then stay there. The challenge is often to find that rest and to stay in that place of rest. To not be distracted and brought back down to a place of low thinking and old lines.

"The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake." Ps 23:1-3

The finished work is our frame of reference for this kind of rest. Christ Himself is our peace and wisdom. He is our strong tower and in Him we find rest. He is our hiding place. He is our Sabbath. He is our Shalom.

He is like the eye of the storm. There a calm in that place that can be described but must be experienced to be understood.

Thank you P Tom Sliva for that message last night. We were all privileged people to be there and hear it.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Just Go Home

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." 1 Pet 1:3-5 NKJV

I love these verses!

To think that in a moment of faith our far away Creator became our Father. Who knew that God had so much mercy? To be taken out from under dark power and placed in a kingdom of light with Christ as our brother where we have an inheritance is more than my little mind can handle most days.

Perhaps our time has been misspent like the prodigal. Just go home. Your Father will be waiting there. Our inheritance is many things but the most precious of these is the embrace of our eternal Father who is always happy to see us.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Many Flavors of Ability

The later part of Wednesday afternoon and into the evening I thought a great deal about ability and individual capacity.

There is the capacity that perspective brings

"I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." Ps 37:25

Also, We can have capacity or ability that once was ours or one that was never realized given to us by God.

"He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see." John 9:25

Then there is borrowed capacity where we lend our ability to others or benefit from the ability someone else has.

"I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame." Job 29:15

Then there are windows of possibility. Times when something can happen but that window will only stay open for a time. I love this verse.

"I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name." Rev 3:8

God is holding the door open. He sees that we have little strength but He holds the entrance open for us and no matter what men do it will not close. Amazing.

"I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it." Is 46:11b

"Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it." 1 Thess 5:24

I do not want to live my life as if it is limited by my ability. Nor do want to have some 'positive thinking' attitude that relies on some boundless untapped potential of man that does not really exist except in the mind of the secular humanist.

I want to grow in grace and truth and have the borrowed strength that comes from God at the same time. He can do things in me and through me.

"Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth." Mark 9:23

"And these signs shall follow them that believe..." Mark 16:17a

When we walk in faith it is not just us people see. There are signs that follow us. Ability and capacity that may be subtle or it may be profound. People may write it off as some 'product of our humanity' but we will know and testify otherwise.

It is Christ who has done something and what has been accomplished at the cross is being made evident through us today as we walk by faith. It is more than just us... it is Christ in us and the fact that we are hidden in God because of Him.

Once we were lost but now we are found. Once we were blind but now we see.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Neither Height Nor Depth

"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Rom 8:39

The word height here is the same word used here for 'high thing':

"Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" 2 Cor 10:5

The word for depth is the same word used here:

"But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden." Rev 2:24

Our mind reaches for the heights and our soul cleaves to the dust. Both would by themselves leave us separated from God's love. Neither have the power to do that now.

"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds" 2 Cor 10:3-4

My intellectual property may be a stronghold or perhaps it is the dusty trails my soul is prone to wander on it's own. Habits devoid of faith or thoughts devoid of life need not stand. Faith is a path we have not traveled before. Wisdom from above is fresh and new and when given is not up for my private interpretation.

Jericho will fall when God breaths on us. We have been made clean by the word that has been spoken to us.

I do not look to the stars for direction. I have traded all of my riches in for one pearl of great price. Jesus is my north star and by Him I will navigate. Let His book reveal to me my identity an not the dust of my genetics. In a moment all that I am will be inflamed in glory. Until then I will wrestle down anything that comes against what God has said.

Let God be true and every man a liar. If He says 'It is Finished' then it is. If He says I am a new creature and old things have passed away then they have. Do I have a commission? I do.

Am I loved? I am and so is every other person in the world. I am sealed in a way that no air separates me from God. That is how I will live today as one launching out in faith not as one bound to the ground or with my head in the clouds.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Sent In Love

"By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world." 1 John 4:13-17 NKJV

Jesus was the sent One... we are sent ones. Jesus was given the Spirit and so are we. He was loved as a son is loved and we are also loved. We can make this love our home. It is our home. If we choose to live in this place there is kind of confidence that can not be found anywhere else.

Every person has certain fundamental needs. Some of these lists are long and some short. Food, shelter, water are some physical needs but the need for love, purpose, understanding, identity and creativity are others. Our God meets all of these needs and many of them are met right here in this verse in 1 John.

Notice it isn't just saved ones that live in love. It is sent ones that live there. The momentum of our call deflects shame. There is rest in knowing that you are going as an ambassador and living in the decree of the royal law of love. We are all going to make mistakes in how we love people but there is little covering in a passivity that keeps to itself and never risks loving others.

I am not talking about the model of romantic love that we are fed in different flavors from every corner of culture. That love is indeed dangerous and deceptive. The love of a sent one flows in the channel of divine authority to us and through us. It is a love that never fails. It binds, it feeds, it nurtures, it helps, it affirms and it is filled with humor, joy and purity.

This is a confidence born of communion. Where we eat bread and wine with Him moment by moment at His table. Filled with the fellowship we have one with another and drunk on justification. Unlike it's Earthly counterparts this food and drink will not make us fat or dissipate us. It enlivens and equips us for the next thing.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Remove the Veil

"And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory." 1 Tim 3:16

Right here in this verse we can see Christ tackle the primary enemies of mankind. He takes the ax to the tree of evil. The dominoes begin to fall. The plan of God was finished before it started but here we see a snapshot, or overview, of how it worked.

"If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained." 1 Tim 4:6-10

I need a glimpse of the big picture to function correctly in the details of my own life. Godliness is a mystery. It is something hidden that get revealed again and again. Focus on self is never what reveals it. Focus on Christ is what opens our eyes.

If we are good ministers of anything it is because we give Jesus. Jesus was manifested, justified and seen in His incarnation. Now that progression is true in our lives. If those things happen we have a message. When Jesus is lifted up He draws men to Himself and they believe. The Gospel of Grace takes down barriers. It simplifies the complex. It unveils a mystery. The mystery that godliness is not sourced in the person you see before you. It is sourced in a person who came and died then rose and sits in Heaven.

No self help program there.

"His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." Matt 3:12

The dominoes are falling. God will gather His wheat and then clean us the mess left behind.

Faith and truth will keep it all in perspective. Eyes on Christ will take the veil off of godliness.

I can ask God to fill me with His Spirit and go to work now. God is in control and I can rest in that.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

A Family Obligation

"Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh." Rom 8:12

After over two hours pouring over books and Bible programs I come to the conclusion that this does not say 'we are not debtors to the flesh' it means just what it says in the KJV. 'Brothers, We have under an obligation (or are debtors)' it is just not a fleshly obligation.

What struck me first this morning was 'Brothers'. This obligation is a family obligation and it is not linked to the old nature at all. Whatever obligation we had in the flesh, real or imagined, was cancelled at the cross. What obligation does a believer have under the grace economy?

It made me think of the debt Joseph's brothers had when Simeon was taken as a mock hostage by Joseph. Suddenly the brothers who were selfish and carnal had to make a change. Love rose up in them. The deal was they had to bring Benjamin back to Egypt but upon returning home they saw the money they paid for supplies was back in their sacks.

It is a picture how God has no use for our money, our carnal payment buys nothing with Him. But, Love... oh love. Love does something to us.

The brothers loved their father and they loved their brother Simeon. On the other hand their loved their brother Benjamin also. The guilt of what they thought about what happened with Joseph was so present in their minds now.

They failed to love Joseph but they would not fail to love Simeon. It was not that they were making amends. It was not possible to fix what had gone before... now in the moment they would choose to love as brothers... loving one another even though it would be hard to do it.

Can we love each other? Yes, We can. Is there urgency? Who is held hostage?

This is no payback. It is a family obligation. It is love that draws us with the 'cords of a man'. It is constraining love.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Garbage Has Been Taken Out

"Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins." Heb 9:22b

There are few more shocking statements in the Bible.

A person who cares about people but is unfamiliar with the Bible or Biblical concepts would see such a statement as barbaric or savage. It is a concept polite society shuns.

That little statement has so much embedded in it. Authority, responsibility, finality and the dread that anyone who has ever done something terrible that they can't undo has ever felt. If forgiveness is needed then in God's economy no excuse will buy you out of it... no compromise. Holiness by definition is uncompromising.

The smallest sin caused us as individuals and a race to turn a corner of no return.

When Adam and Eve realized that a sweet little animal that was nothing but a kind companion to them before was lying dead and lifeless so that they could be warm and clothed how their hearts must have sunk so much lower. Paradise was really lost. A flaming sword kept them from what was and would never be again.

Oh, The Blood of God. What precious blood was shed for you and me. What shock and agony to think about it... to really let it sink in. It is truly the highest price paid for anything and it's sacrifice will never be matched.

You can't call it forgiveness unless it happened at the cross. If you boil the first statement down that is what we find. Everything else is sentimentality or convenience of some kind. Our sins small and great have been brought there and there was at one time a slaughter that dealt will them forever. That truth sets us free when it hits us and sinks in. But, then as time passes and we replay the event we realize in was not just my burden... the individual sins of every person were dumped on that place.

All sin... the contractor who cheated me, the driver that cut me off, the murderer, the molester, the ignorant person... even the kindly old grandmother that looks like she would never hurt a fly. Every fault and every blunder has to it's record the blood of the innocent Savior.

My consciousness of sin is changed... transformed by that reality. Too high a price has been paid for me to look at myself and see a terrible person. Even that is removed and paid for. We now have a place apart from self to put sin. It is the cross.

If I impute sin to others I am not in God's will. Because blood was shed for those sins they must be and have been forgiven. The brutal decree has become freedom. Any other method still leaves a residue of some kind. This way leaves none.

Unforgiveness of all kinds is crucifying Christ afresh (see Heb 6:6). It will be a dead area that the Spirit of God can not fellowship with. Our God is the God of the living not the dead.

Jesus was once crucified but is now alive and has cast all that garbage into the sea of His forgetfulness.

If sin consciousness is removed from relationships we can have fresh living ones filled with humor and joy. Nothing needs to get in the way of loving ourselves and others. A way has been made for that to happen. We as individuals can enter into that dynamic.

Having found this method it is the one I am determined to employ. Transgression is brought mentally to the cross and reckoned to be paid for. That is thinking with God. That is my freedom.

Friday, February 1, 2013

I'd Like You To Meet a Friend of Mine

"For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." 1 Cor 1:17-18

The Gospel is an announcement and an introduction not a call to behavioral change, philosophy or social affiliation.

Paul didn't want his name associated with the message. He was glad that few could make the claim, 'I was baptized by the great Apostle.'

He also makes sure to define the fact that the message is not some self help trend. It is not a fad or a movement cleverly designed by men.

This makes no sense to a dying man. He wants a fix or a self help group or some claim to fame that will outlast him.

But, To those that need a Savior the Gospel is power. It is the stripping away of the seen to reveal the unseen. It is not surface it is Love. It is not a sympathetic gesture it is mercy expressed that saves and causes change.

'Here is Jesus. Would you like to meet Him? He is not aloof like other Kings are. He is knocking on the door of your life and He want to sit and eat with you. You don't need to supply the meal. He has that covered. No need to clean the house before He enters. He will handle that also.'

The Gospel says that what was in the way is now out of the way. It has been blotted out and covered. There is no need to be on the run from authority because of transgressions. Jesus took the bullet and paid the fine.

The gospel doesn't ask us to join anything or do anything. It makes us aware of something great and introduces us to the Great One.

If we let Jesus be our friend He will be our friend forever. People will die, fail us us and leave us. Jesus never will. Programs and trends will change like diets and fashion. The Gospel is the same. Always new. Those doors are always unlocked and have a light on for the weary travelers to turn into and find rest.