Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Face Of Grace

"Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance." - Psalm 42:5 KJV

What a great verse. The last part is very interesting in Hebrew. It could be loosely translated.

'I will thank Him because His facial expressions save me.'

Ever have a friend who jokes with you and just lightens the heavy situation by their humor. That is what I think of. A person giving you a hand to get up when you fall and laughing with you about it because they are one with you. Perhaps it is a face of tenderness instead or humor but it is never a face of disdain or anger. All of God's anger at sin was poured out already on the cross.

Grace shows us God's friendly compassionate even humorous face.

Paniym (Strong's H6440) is the word for face or countenance in the Hebrew and it is a plural word because a face is not frozen is moves and changes. All of God's many faces save us.

We have been ushered into the family of God because of what Jesus did on our behalf. We get the face from the Father that Jesus gets from the Father. Those faces save us again and again.

Funny isn't it. God is invisible to us. We don't see Him like we do our friends or family. We see His face through the scripture and at times through Spirit filled people that know God.

Jesus had the Father's face. Now we can have a reflection of that face also as the light of God's love shines through us. We can smile as we give someone a hand and even joke with them. We can make light of things and be serious about others as we fellowship in the Spirit.

God, Give us a face only evil wants to hide from. A face that reflects your glory and points people to You.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Tapestry Of Truth

Grappling this morning with large concepts. Thinking of portions of the Bible in chunks. Looking then taking a few steps back and then a few more and looking again. The the Bible as a wall tapestry so large that I can not take it in all at once. A tapestry that is beautiful up close as you view a small portion and then equally stunning standing with your back against the far wall.

Christ lives in every inch of the art and science of the book. He Is the Logos. He Is the life. He Is the truth. When people miss Him in the book they miss the point of the book. When He is seen the safe traveling path in the woods is seen. When He is hidden the Bible becomes a dark dangerous forest.

My attention moves to the Gospels and center in on Jesus. He is many things in the Gospels but today I see Him as an evangelist. A shepherd who bring people to the door of the fold but does not go in Himself. Off He goes after the one while leaving the ninety nine and then He gets them through the door into safety and then off He goes again. He shepherds His disciples but does the work of an evangelist. They are with Him as He goes and He does not stop. The book of Mark has that relentless quality to it. Jesus... eating... sleeping... praying... speaking... but always moving. Even on the night of His trial they moved Him from here to there.The nails in His feet and hands didn't stop Him from winning the thief on the cross.

But the epistles show Jesus in a new light. He is seated in Heaven. A physically motionless figure who acts in intercession. He has commissioned others to go. Now He pastors from a seated position. The Spirit however is active and moving. He Is like wind swirling over the Earth.

The Spirit illuminates Christ's life as Jesus prays and waits for the moment when He will stand and then step forward close enough to bring us home but not close enough to stop the events unfolding on the Earth. He will take a bride first then return when the wood is good and dry so that the justice of God can exact judgement on an injustice. He will retake all that was ever lost. Israel will inhabit it's promised borders in fullness and the world will truly prosper for the first time since Adam's fall.

Prophet, Priest and King... Evangelist, Intercessor and returning Monarch. Amazing.

"But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God." - Acts 20:24-27 ESV

Grace is the whole counsel of God. That is the path through the woods... the safe path that brings us from here to there.

Jesus is in every book of the Bible. His name is not mentioned everywhere but He Is there. The Bible only makes sense if we see Him and our lives only make sense if the grace presented in the scriptures is the path we find to navigate life. We are hidden in the prophet. The priest is praying for us. The king will one day come and there will be clear association and connection to the visible kingdom now hidden and not always invisible.

Jesus goes, rests and reigns and the Spirit of God links those that believe to the person of Christ in organic union. We go, rest and reign also. Just like the whole Bible was needed to frame one small verse... our whole history was needed to frame this small moment in time.

Oh God, Let the art and science of the scriptures go with us into the day as we walk the path Your Son has paved for us. Reveal the Prophet, Priest and King to us and through us today. We are in awe of Your skill and handiwork.  


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Steps Ordered By The Lord

There is something about having a goal to read through the scriptures in a year and getting blocks you would not choose to read on your own. Then purposing not to skim but really read. I have spoken before about my box of booklets. I don't choose the next one. My hand goes into the box and what ever one I pull out next I read. Then I put the ones I have read into a new box.

There are several things in my life at any given day that are like that. It is healthy for me.

"The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, And He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the LORD upholds him with His hand." - Psalm 37:23-24 NKJV

We make a decision to choose a path of believing and not one of continual preference. If our lives are is filled with, 'This is what I want and that is what I want.' all day and week long what happens when it is time to make a hard choice? We have already worn a deep furrow of preference oriented choosing and maybe we use scripture to rationalize another 'what we want' decision. Then if there are no preferable options we can easily live in disappointment because preference can't be found.

Grace makes us free. Free to live knowing we deserve Hell but are not getting Hell. We deserve pain but have measures of comfort instead. We should be guilty but a higher justice sets us free from guilt and shame. Prisoners rarely get what they want and people who work to earn everything have a sense of entitlement because they worked hard for the power to choose. What about free people who should not be free but have what they have because of mercy? How do they think?

"Were you a bondservant when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ. You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men. So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God." - 1 Corinthians 7:21-24 ESV

"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." - 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV

People read these verses in some duty oriented mode mindset and then deprive themselves or put themselves into a mold that becomes bondage. A deep study of the Bible must bring us to a different conclusion. Grace blows that out of the water. God freed us to be free. Really He did.

As free men and women we can choose the highest inner life. We may grab our inheritance and run away only to long for and find the house of our father was better than our preferences. All of us do that I think in big and small ways. Real liberty comes after we find the freedom of living in our father's house.

Grace brings us in union with Christ and that is unique. Jesus made things happen that His Father planned before the foundation of the world. He walked in pre-creation projects and had liberty in the midst of His purpose. He had meat and drink that the disciples would not truly know about until after Pentecost.

If we have believed and had a like-minded spiritual conversion we can say in the midst of our planning, 'What now God?' and really mean it. Then make a choice based on communion with God in the moment. That choice has an element of Spirit leading because it was a surrendered choice made in a scripturally saturated mind functioning in a 'not getting what we really deserve' mentality.It is not I must do this or I can't do that and it is also not I want to do this and don't want to do that. It is something else. It is faith navigation where we shout 'Grace Grace' to a mountain and it is removed because both rules and preference have been abandoned and a redemptive purpose requires the removal of that particular mountain.


Monday, October 27, 2014


"Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters." - Matthew 12:30 ESV

Jesus is a gatherer. A shepherd. A teacher. A healer. A friend.

"Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.' Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents." - Luke 15:8-10 ESV

Don't get me wrong... many gather people for different reasons and under different banners. Jesus gathers us so that we can grow together.

"But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you... The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil." - Matthew 12:28, 35 ESV

Good and evil here are not moral judgments. They are kingdom representations.

Grace thaws people out from bondage that comes from natural thinking.

People may say, 'If you are not for me you are against me.' But, Christ's side was and Is the side of the cross. A death that results in freedom. A death to self. A death to a scattering way of life. It is loyalty and lifestyle born of a new life not a better agenda.

I have known many frozen people. I have been one. Stuck at a place in time with a body that grows but with thinking that replay the same themes over and over. Analyzing a situation again and again that can never be reconciled.

Grace breaks the cycle. Gathering with God brings us into a different dynamic.

"Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends... No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you." - John 15:13, 15 ESV

Jesus Is gathering. He Is loving. Any person who Is participating in this activity with Him is growing.

By God's grace we will grow out of our pain and outlive our enemies.


Friday, October 24, 2014

Built Up Into A Spiritual House

Israel had a corporate identity that revealed a personal experience. Christ gives us a personal identity that is revealed in a corporate experience.

The individual found his or her identity by being part of the whole. The Law was given to the nation.

The Gospel is given to the individual and God builds His Church with individual building blocks.

"Now the LORD said to Abram, 'Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.' " - Genesis 12:1-3 ESV

Israel was the produce of one man. Blessing Israel blessed one man.

"As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: 'Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.' " - 1 Peter 2:4-6 ESV

Jesus is the cornerstone of a great house built from individuals.

Why is this different and important? God used the law to create the structure of His nation but God uses grace to create the structure of the Church.

"But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I have no need of you,' nor again the head to the feet, 'I have no need of you.' On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it." - 1 Corinthians 12:18-27 ESV

As individual believer priests we discover who we are as our gifts are manifested in the corporate experience. The ministry is not a nation and our loyalties are not national loyalties. The ministry is like a human body and our loyalties are organic in nature. Politics has it's place in a nation but not in a body. A nation must defend it's borders but if the individual has a strong identity in Christ the Church will have a strong presence because strong verticals make for stable horizontals.

"For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body." - Ephesians 5:29-30 ESV

This verse is given in the context of marriage and that married people are now 'one flesh' but it has broad application for us. Our lives are intertwined in ways we can not see or understand. Each person is important. Nothing is impersonal. We are one. Christ sees each individual as part of Himself. The Church as a whole makes up His physical existence in the world.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Authority To Build Up

Our understanding of who God Is very much shapes who we think we are.

"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain." - 1 Corinthians 15:10a ESV

"For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. Look at what is before your eyes. If anyone is confident that he is Christ's, let him remind himself that just as he is Christ's, so also are we. For even if I boast a little too much of our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be ashamed." - 2 Corinthians 10:4-8 ESV

We often quote the first part of this passage which talks about casting down imaginations in the King James translation. But, The second part of the passage speaks of the authority that an overcomer has. The overcomer initiates also. The initiation comes from the hard won seated position of 'I am what I am by the grace of God.'

People are bombarded by arguments and lofty opinions that raise themselves up to challenge God's character and authority. If those arguments are processed they will damage the emotions. Oppression can lead to depression, condemnation and negative cycles.

The lone wolf has no one to watch his back. There is no one to keep watch while he is sleeping. He only has what he can carry or hide somewhere. Who has the power to edify him?

I see homeless people who fight the elements but no one seems to have the power to edify them. I see working men like that also. There are advantages to being your own boss but who will build them up? The executive. The artist.

But this does not only apply to the solitary person. What about the one who hid themselves in a group of like-minded people. Talking, laughing and checking their smart phones every 5 minutes. God is in a corner buried under arguments long forgotten that exalted themselves to heights where they didn't belong. The truth is suppressed in unrighteousness.

Only the 'I am who I am' person can walk into that space. Only the heart that has been established in grace and has a few scars from the battle can stand in that personal arena and impart those skills by example.

We glorify God alone in our rooms but we also do it out in the market square. By being who we are and explaining why that is possible. We don't shove religion down people's throats by making them sin conscious. We live the grace of God in front of them and step into their space with it. The candle is out where it can be seen and it's light may bother people a little as it shines into their carefully crafted dark rationals.

Who has the authority to build up? We do if we know the grace of God.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Butter On Our Shoes

"And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ." - Ephesians 5:18-21 ESV

The Greek word translated debauchery there is Asotia (Strong's G810) it is a negation of Sozo (G4982) a word for safety or salvation. Very simply put being drunk with wine does not save a person. It does the opposite. It puts them in danger. But just as a person drinks a glass of wine and then loosens up to have another and then another God want our life to be filled with the Spirit the same way. This drink is heady drink indeed. It intoxicates a person until they are drunk with thanksgiving and reverence.

"Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise." - Proverbs 20:1 KJV

Wine or strong drink is a dangerous substitute. It mocks a person in it's Godless release leaving a person empty. Spirit filling does the opposite. It leaves a person full. It makes them poetic and melodic. There is an interchange of creative expression and of awe.

"And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding," - Colossians 1:9 ESV

Filled with the Spirit and filled with truth.

Here Job recounts his glory days.

"Oh, that I were as in the months of old, as in the days when God watched over me, when his lamp shone upon my head, and by his light I walked through darkness, as I was in my prime, when the friendship of God was upon my tent, when the Almighty was yet with me, when my children were all around me, when my steps were washed with butter, and the rock poured out for me streams of oil! When I went out to the gate of the city, when I prepared my seat in the square," - Job 29:2-7 ESV

God was bringing him to a deeper place. Job was to be a witness in the angelic contest but here we see a man who drank of God and churned the milky mixture straight from the source into butter in his thinking. His thinking would spill over into his walk like butter from the churn getting on our shoes.

We can be full of God today. We are placed in Christ at the moment of our salvation but have we opened the door for The Spirit to fill us? Are we drinking of the cup of salvation taking sip after sip until thanksgiving fills our hearts? We can. We can chew the cud of the Word of God. We can churn the butter until it gets all over our shoes and relinquish control of our lives to the Holy Spirit who thinks in love and honor towards people.

That is not dangerous it is glorious. That adds something eternal instead dissipating and dissolving. Those who are filled with the Spirit have their actions written in God's book instead of just photos with glasses lifted in smoky dark venues. It is not the raised glass that will get us through the dark times. It is the Word hidden in our heart and the butter on our shoes that directs our steps to God's safe pathway.


Monday, October 20, 2014

And No One Was Able To Open The Scroll

Last week I was speaking to a friend about the need for crisis in the growth process. In order for a man to change he must experience a crisis. The soil must be turned over for seed to be buried and roots to properly form.

Here in Revelation chapter 5 we see a fundamental crisis of cosmic proportions.

"Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, 'Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?' And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it." - Revelation 5:1-4 ESV

The Apostle John is older now and he is in prison on Patmos. He sees Jesus and in chapter 4 he is whisked away into Heaven to a place outside of time. Now he finds himself weeping. Does he even know why? I imagine only partially. No one else there is weeping.

If you find yourself in Heaven and there is a problem no one else can solve that is truly something to cry about. Why do we cry on Earth? Unsolvable dilemmas do it to us. Sadness is our emotional response to unattainable victory. Death makes us cry. loss makes us cry. Even victory makes us cry at times because the impossible has happened and we somehow know it is a fleeting moment that we can't hold unto so the tears come.

Children cry at the divorce of their parents. It is an unsolvable dilemma for their little lives. When the people who should love you forever say that they can't love each anymore it is like being in Heaven and hearing that no one is worthy.

"And one of the elders said to me, 'Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.' And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying,

'Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.' " - Revelation 5:5-10 ESV

Who solves the crisis? Jesus does. Who mends our broken heart? Jesus does. He is the answer. He answers the crisis in Heaven and He answers the crisis on Earth inside our heart.

"Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, 'Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!' And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, 'To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!' And the four living creatures said, 'Amen!' and the elders fell down and worshiped." - Revelation 5:11-14 ESV

John was plucked out of time but everyone else there knew. This is our future. We read about an event that hasn't happened yet. This is us singing. If you know Jesus you will be there to see this and sing this song. We are even given the words ahead of time so we can rehearse.

Like John we cry at times for the dilemmas we face and see other people face but as believers there is a solution that drys our tears. His name is Jesus.

Every hospital room in the world would be a better place if His name was mentioned. Every graveside a lighter sorrow if He was involved in that life that now only in our memory.

People are out there crying and they have every reason to cry. Let's go put our hand on their shoulder and say, 'Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered.' If they receive this truth then there will be a day when all of their tears will be wiped away.

The cross is at the heart of every spiritual transformation. Boys become men when they embrace the great commission. It is the present day crisis that produces spiritual maturity in those that will stand up and answer the call.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Damaged Goods

I am full of hope this morning. My situation has not changed. There are still walls where I would like there to be doors. Still, I am full of hope.

At coffee last night we touched on the subject of 'damaged goods.' The bruised apple towards the back of the bin that people move about to get to the other shiny apples. The tie with a spot. The broken machine that needs costly parts.

"A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory" Matthew 12:20 ESV

Oh, That fills this little broken soul with hope. God, Isn't going to leave us to our dysfunction. He fans the flame and fixes broken souls. Yes, The parts are expensive and other things will surely break causing more expense but what is that to the value of the soul?

Oh, Grace is so good. So good.

Justice is the foundation but because of grace mercy rejoiced against judgment. Justice precedes everything. The foundation is a sound foundation.

God in His holiness wants right whole things. Justice demands wholeness. We know that and the bottom line is that we feel that way also. That is why we reject dysfunction. We reject it in ourselves and we reject it in others.

"But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed." - Galatians 3:22-23 ESV

"For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive... Thus it is written, 'The first man Adam became a living being' the last Adam became a life-giving spirit." - 1 Corinthians 15:21-22, 45 ESV

Adam got damaged and God declared all of His descendants to be damaged also. That way Jesus could come and all of His spiritual children could be declared righteous.

Adam smokes and cracks. He limps and squeaks. But, In Christ we have a perfection that is given by grace. God never discards a person who has believed. He fans our little flame.

He goes to the bin and picks the bruised apple near the back and says, 'This one is perfect. It is just what I want.'

Thank You God... Really... Thank You for Your great mercy


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thinking That Predates Time

Pondering the power of a finished work thought.

"Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:" - Matthew 25:34 KJV

"Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world." - John 17:24 KJV

"According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:" - Ephesians 1:4 KJV

"For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world." - Hebrews 4:3 KJV

"...the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." - Revelation 13:8b KJV

God is a planner. Grace flows from this thinking.

Men seek answers for power. Even those that seem to seek God don't want Him they just want closure of some kind. The want an explanation.

God has had all the answers from before the beginning. That is how for back we must go. Before the foundation of the world we find intimacy not nothingness. We find a God who Is planning redemption and everything that comes after has that as a foundation.

What is finished work thinking? It is when we come to conclusions based on what God was thinking before time started ticking.

It is also making decisions with His mind before the situation happens.

A faith that pleases God sees God as He really Is. It is a snapshot of the big picture brought into a moment and then conclusions are drawn based on that reality. A finished work thought is based on God's pre-creation planning.

What will I do when someone hurts me? I pre-plan to forgive them.

What will I do with my next pay check? I pre-plan that redemption will come off the top and not the leftovers.

I start the day with God. In a way this time is before the beginning of my day. Jesus prayed all night. I start. He never started. Jesus is forever.

What Jesus did in time on the cross and what He was thinking before the world began give us an eternal thought process. We burn but we are not consumed. We have no problem being low because are thought are from above the sky.

What lies in front of us is lit from behind us when we think in the finished work. Even if it looks dark... It won't always be dark. The light from behind us will illuminate it in due season if we think in the finished work.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

For Every Season

"I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name's sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one." - 1 John 2:12-14 ESV

God writes to us. For each stage and season of our life grace is for us and towards us. He writes forgiveness. He writes victory. He writes intimacy.

Are you young? He Is writing to you not just the older people.

Are you old? He is writing to you.

Are you sick? Are you poor? Are you weak? Are you lonely? He pens His thick book to you to give you the good news that you are not disqualified. Sin is paid for and your problem whatever it is has been accounted for. There is forgiveness. There is intimacy. There is victory.

"May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire." - 2 Peter 1:2-4 ESV

"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ." - Ephesians 2:13 ESV

All of it is wrapped up in Jesus... who He Is and what He has done... He did the work... His shed blood has brought us who have believed close to God.

Do we get that or have we disqualified ourselves by looking at ourselves or someone else in an unwise comparison. Anyone with genuine spirituality has it because they look to Jesus not because they have some rare unattainable quality.

"looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." - Hebrews 12:2 ESV

Jesus' time of shame is over and is sitting in the seat of acceptance. A present tense acceptance that will always be. It will go on and on into forever.

The forgiveness is complete. The intimacy is real and possible. We have yet to see the beginning of all the victories that God has planned. The best is yet to come.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Shake Off The Dust And Live

"My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word!" - Psalm 119:25 ESV

Maybe we think the dust just sticks to us like mud sometimes sticks to our shoes. Our soul gets dusty also and it hangs on to that dust. Our soul has a great capacity to wallow there.

"And you will be brought low; from the earth you shall speak, and from the dust your speech will be bowed down; your voice shall come from the ground like the voice of a ghost, and from the dust your speech shall whisper." - Isaiah 29:4 ESV

Then our speech becomes a past tense spirituality. Someone once alive with hope but now dead in oppression. A person who speaks muffled words that do not have life in the moment and have an old frame of reference.

"Awake, awake, put on your strength, O Zion; put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city; for there shall no more come into you the uncircumcised and the unclean. Shake yourself from the dust and arise; be seated, O Jerusalem; loose the bonds from your neck, O captive daughter of Zion." - Isaiah 52:1-2 ESV

It is the Word that gives us life and with our will we shake ourselves. We don't linger long in the bed of dusty thinking. We rise get a shower of grace from God and put on the beautiful white garments of salvation. The dust does not cling to those garments. They are new, clean and white and have an eternal quality to them that is stain resistant.

"Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him... When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, 'Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.' " - John 13:5, 12-14 ESV

That was such an act of service. Grace in action. People get dirty feet. We get dirty feet. Grace and mercy remove the grime. They don't assign blame... they just clean up the mess and wash the dirty puddle away so there is no trace there ever was any there to clean up. In the midst of all of this is God's Word that revives... it describes a life that is present tense, living and relevant to our moment to moment living.

God has given all who believe a robe of Christ's righteousness. It is a special garment that will be worn at a future wedding feast but it is also meant to be worn on a daily basis.

Today... We shake off the dust, get revived in grace, put on Jesus Christ and live in the freshness of a present tense life.


Monday, October 13, 2014

The X Axis And The Y Axis

The great commandment and great commission are the x axis and y axis for a believer in Christ. We plot our course by these two things.

These are not commandments written in stone. Those 'shall not' commands were fulfilled by Jesus. They were given to the nation of Israel not the rest of the world though they resonated with people everywhere. These are not like those. There was punishment for breaking those. God does not punish us for not heeding this. Grace given to us has born a nature within us that swims in an area defined by these two coordinates.

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." - John 13:34-35 ESV

Love seems like a simple answer for the world. If we all just loved one another everything would be so much better. The thing is... people can't do it. They won't do it and they can't do it. Both things are true. Jesus doesn't say everyone can do this. He says loving one another is a mark of discipleship. We love submitted as students of a master learning our masters art form like any student would sit at a master craftsman's feet.

"And he said to them, 'Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.' " - Mark 16:15-16 ESV

This commission is given to the same group the new commandment was given to. Go is in the Gospel. If we have not believed in Christ than we have no reason to do this. But if we have believed we have every reason. In verse 19 Jesus is taken to Heaven. This is the last thing He said before He left.

So, These two dynamics help me map any situation. The old street maps had letters and numbers... A, B, C, D, etc and 1, 2, 3, 4. You would use the index to find your street or landmark and it would have a combination... Page 4 - D3... You would turn to that page and count one, two, three and then find the D row or column (I forget which was which). Once you found your destination all that was left was to map a route to get there.

Christ is loving and seeking the lost. The great commandment and great commission help me find Him in my day or situation. That is where He Is and what He Is doing.

Where is love? What wins the soul? We don't win anything. God does the winning. We sow victorious seed.

That is the center of His will. Lust takes us somewhere else on the map. Self interest apart from God does also. God will seek us where ever we are and find us but He Is looking using this system and that is why we use it. He looks for us to love us and win us. Now we as His disciples learn from His meekness and lowliness and have His mind.


Friday, October 10, 2014

Receive Mercy And Find Grace

"Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." - Hebrews 4:16 ESV

To receive mercy and find grace we go to God's throne. Wow.

We receive mercy. We find grace. One thing is taken with our hands and the other with our hearts and minds.

Maybe today isn't the time of need. Perhaps it is later. We go now and then we can find the place later.

In one way I realize my need for mercy now. I go needing mercy now and find grace because God is gracious and that grace is new again and again. I find it that way.

But, It is also like a flashlight put in a drawer in case of emergency. It is put there when there is light to see where you put it but you need to find it when it is dark.

Going with confidence makes us confident to go. People may say, 'Pray for me.' and you can say, 'Let's pray now. I was just there at the throne. Let's go back together. I know the way there from here.'


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Crucial Untruths Become Obsolete

When grace is not present or known lies become very important elements in the plot lines of our personal story.

Big lies, little lies and white lies all have important roles. Good people have little white lies. They bend the truth for morally justified reasons. Bad people just break the truth until they don't blush doing it.

Lies are the thick greases that coat the workings of social interactions. It is the 10w40 of natural existence. What award winning movie doesn't have some major or minor misunderstanding to resolves or hide. Lies provide drama and comedy.

But grace does something different and many times unwanted because of the initial exposure.

"Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land. Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs up from the ground, and righteousness looks down from the sky. Yes, the LORD will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase. Righteousness will go before him and make his footsteps a way." - Psalm 85:9-13 ESV

God is righteous and lies have nothing to do with Him. His truth and holiness are a pathway for Him. Lies are nothing to Him. He won't walk down those roads.

Mercy has rejoiced against judgement. The Gospel of Grace is truth that casts no shadow because it glows from within like Jesus on the mount glowing white. The law was right but it cast a long shadow and people used that shadow to hide from reality because that reality was so hard to bear.

The orphan invents parents. The young man pretends to hide the pain attaching his identity to some strong role model. The woman married to an angry man plays a role and lives behind a mask to hide from the man's anger. Fake phone numbers in bars. Expensive clothing hides insecurity. A smile hides pain. Governments must look strong and knowledgeable. Companies must look profitable. People must pretend without grace and mercy.

No more lies. When Jesus comes there are no more lies.

He stands in Peter's boat to preaching and the fish come at His silent command and Peter knows He is a sinful man but Jesus will not depart from Him. Jesus stays for the rest of Peter's life. Even when Jesus leaves to ascend to Heaven He never leaves Peter without a comforter to indwell him. Grace stays forever.

No white lies to make someone feel pretty and hide a fear of ugliness... just love. A creator's love... a parent's love... love and connection.

"And you shall not walk in the customs of the nation that I am driving out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I detested them." - Leviticus 20:23 ESV

"So you will walk in the way of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous." - Proverbs 2:20 ESV

"Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil." - Proverbs 4:14 ESV

"If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." - 1 John 1:6-10 ESV

1 John verse 9 has us confess which is really just stepping out of the shadow that isn't hiding us anyway and confessing God's faithfulness for that particular situation. We are stepping out into the light and light is where we have communion with God and fellowship with people.

The truth is so much better than fiction when there is full unconditional acceptance. People don't need to remake the past or invent the future when there is grace.

"Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein." - Hebrews 13:9 KJV

Those strange teachings cast a long shadow. They have no glow of life. When we have a message that gives off light we just are who we are with no need to be anything else.

That is the message we have for others, 'Just come as you are. You don't have to be anything for God or for me. You may not know what you are but you are very important.'


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

When The Soul Eclipses The Human Spirit

"Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, 'My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God'? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." - Isaiah 40:27-31 ESV

Israel is Jacob's new name. Jacob was a crooked damaged man who was loved by God not because He was lovable. God loved Jacob's father and his father's father and He loved crooked old Jacob and gave him a new name.

Isaiah is given a message to God's people of the time who also had two identities. They had an old one and a new one. They had a name given by observant people and one given by a gracious God.

Believers now have that also.

Jacob says, 'My way is hidden from the Lord.'

Israel says, 'My right is disregarded by my God.' Israel takes ownership and calls God 'my' God.

But, God says, 'The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.'

Jacobs way is not hidden and when Israel's spirit is eclipsed by his soul he has it wrong also. Grace does not regard the new man's right. That part is true. But, There is quickening. There is strength given that leans totally on God's knowledge and a quickening for those who wait on the Lord.

A young man's strength will fail but a new identity with doctrinal wisdom will wait and have a soul like a weaned child. They will know the the food is coming. They don't have to scream their heads off and talk about 'rights' they are hip to the schedule and know the food will come at the correct time.

"But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you." - Romans 8:10-11 ESV

Listen up Jacob and have ears to hear Israel. The Lord knows and has power to impart.

God quicken our spirit and remind our inner man so that we don't have a darkened perspective. Let the grace of God arrange us so that your Spirit that entwines our human spirit and gives us light would illuminate our soul with truth.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Comedy And Evangelism

The subject today is comedy and evangelism. Maybe most people wouldn't put those two words in the same sentence.

We need real friends, Godly ones, who have integrity and vision. People need real friends. Every time I come back from outreach it is reinforced more and more on my heart. I stand there with a stack of tracts in my hand and people look at you sideways because what your doing is unnatural. You are invading their space with something and many of them don't know if you are going to condemn them or lay something deep on them that they just aren't ready to hear.

I was thinking this morning about people's loyalty to comedians. People feel close to funny friendly people. We might say, 'People love to laugh and so people love comedians because they make them laugh.'. True but I think it goes deeper. People associate laughter with friendship and people want to love and be loved. Successful comedians use pain and shame skillfully. They laugh at it and invite the audience into the joke. They make fools of themselves or of others and provide the surface conditions of friendship. People miss them when they are gone even though they didn't know them. People feel close to them even though they can be lonely distant people in private.

Most surveys asking women about qualities they find attractive in men include a, 'Must make me laugh.' somewhere at the top of the list. There is security in that. A different kind of security than the financial kind but it is still security oriented. Some one who makes you laugh is your friend and friends shouldn't betray you should they?

"Now go and write down these words. Write them in a book. They will stand until the end of time as a witness that these people are stubborn rebels who refuse to pay attention to the LORD's instructions. They tell the seers, 'Stop seeing visions!' They tell the prophets, 'Don't tell us what is right. Tell us nice things. Tell us lies. Forget all this gloom. Get off your narrow path. Stop telling us about your 'Holy One of Israel.' ' This is the reply of the Holy One of Israel: 'Because you despise what I tell you and trust instead in oppression and lies, calamity will come upon you suddenly - like a bulging wall that bursts and falls. In an instant it will collapse and come crashing down. You will be smashed like a piece of pottery - shattered so completely that there won't be a piece big enough to carry coals from a fireplace or a little water from the well.' This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: 'Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it." - Isaiah 30:8-15 NLT

Holiness is where we find true friendship. The King is full of joy but He does not always make us laugh. The prophet provides clarity and not just comedy. They might be funny or serious but they aren't superficial.

If you are popping movies into the VCR or it's more modern equivalent to find friendship in your dark times then maybe you are looking in the wrong place for comfort. Ouch. That is hard saying for some I know but it is false comfort. It is false friendship.

Back to outreach. When you are the fool with the stack of tracts in your hand. A different kind of fool. A vulnerable person reaching out and befriending someone in front of a store, or in a parking lot or in their doorway. Not to condemn them but to reach out and give them the hope that you have. You offer friendship of a different order to people. Deep loyal forever friendship.

It is sad that many people who evangelize are legalistic idiots. They are out because their condemning message drives them. I wish it wasn't that way.

I am just out there to befriend people... and more importantly to introduce people to God who is the best friend they could ever have. It is amazing to be out in some parking lot praying with someone as they pour out their heart saying things about their lives to me that I know many people who are close to them don't often or ever hear. I am broken sitting here and typing this with tears welling up in my eyes. It is miraculous in one way but it makes perfect sense in another. People aren't finding love in the places they are looking for it.

"A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." - Proverbs 17:17 ESV

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." - Matthew 28:19-20 ESV

God is our friend. Jesus is our friend. He doesn't always make us laugh but He gives us deep joy and He isn't angry and lonely in private.


Monday, October 6, 2014

Born For Adversity

"A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." - Proverbs 17:17 ESV

What a great verse.

The second statement is an amplification of the first.

We choose to be friend but your brother is someone who is linked to you by blood. You share the same heritage because you have the same parent or parents. I don't like when a stranger calls me brother. It is popular in Christian circles to do that but that implies a commitment that I'm sure in most cases people are not prepared to live in.

Jesus loves at all times. He never joins in an attack against us. The Holy Spirit is an advocate for us.

It is in adversity that you find out who your brothers are.

Few things get me more riled up than someone attacking another person, either physically or verbally, in front of me. The big brother in me is born for that battle.

Christ, the harmless lamb, was born for battle. He took our bullet. When Peter cut a man's ear off in Christ's defense Jesus healed the man. He defended us by being our victim. He loved Peter and He loved His enemy.

That is so convicting isn't it?

Fill us with Your Spirit today God. Fill us and give us a love that loves at all times.


Friday, October 3, 2014

Autonomy In The Vision

Studying and having many thoughts about control this morning. The kind that is in order and healthy and the kind that isn't and hurts people. The scriptures model for us autonomy that willingly subjects itself.

"For 'God has put all things in subjection under his feet.' But when it says, 'all things are put in subjection,' it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all." - 1 Corinthians 15:27-28 ESV

The fallen world was made subject but Jesus was not forced into subjection. He willing subjected Himself and will always put Himself under the authority of the Father.

The proverbs 31 woman is a wonderful picture of autonomy that submits itself.

" An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant. Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 'Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.' Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates." - Proverbs 31:10-31 ESV

This person has control of her resources. She has autonomy and takes initiative in generosity.

The God of all grace is not micromanaging us. Perhaps we want that at times so we can say, 'God told me to do it.' and pass the buck of decision making. God owns us but we own our choices.

" 'All things are lawful,' but not all things are helpful. 'All things are lawful,' but not all things build up." - 1 Corinthians 10:23 ESV

This verse is so amazing. It gives us a framework for control that is healthy. The Proverbs 31 woman has a vision for her family and her business practices. It is vision to build up.

Jesus has a vision for the world. He is determined to redeem it and will redeem everything that is redeemable and put away everything else. God has given He autonomy and has progressively added authority to the One who deferred His authority. Jesus has a name above every name.

"Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom's instruction." - Proverbs 29:18 NIV

Not the translation I usually use but a good rendering of this verse in particular.

If there is a vacuum of revelation or revelation is refused people resort to unhealthy control that limits freedom in others. Manipulation to gain security. It goes so far as to undermine freedoms and discredit those who represent or promote them.

The redemptive vision is where we will find the right balance. The great commandment and the great commission. We use our will freely to manage our resources understanding that this life was not designed only for endless pleasure seeking but that we have a right to pursue happiness. God has declared desires. He is compassionate and that compassion constrains us in the midst of our freedom.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Spendable Currency

Please, Be reconciled to God.

The word for 'reconciled' in the following verses is Katallasso (Strong's G2644) and it means to 'get change for a dollar' or exchange one currency for different currency of an equal value.

"All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says, 'In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.' Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We put no obstacle in anyone's way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way" - 2 Corinthians 5:18- 6:4a ESV

The value of our choices does not change. Four quarters still equals a dollar. The question is, 'Where can I spend my money?' The gas station won't break a hundred dollar bill and the vending machine only takes quarters.

Jesus took all our guilt and paid for all our choices past, present and future. Our life before was un-spendable currency. Minutes ticked by and we could redeem none of them. Jesus redeemed our life and changed it into something of immeasurable, but usable, value in God's economy.

Ministers of reconciliation make change for people and reveal ways to make choices that have real value because of eternal perspective. They tell people, 'You have undervalued your soul. You think it is worth little but it is worth so much. God sees you as extremely valuable. He sent His Son to die so that you could be won back. He loves you.'

When people receive the grace of God in vain they just have money that they can not spend. They are rich but starving because they can't spend what they have to get what they need.

If we know grace and learn to communicate grace to people we can 'commend ourselves in every way' as servants of God. Not because we are serving God. He does not need our service. He has made us to be friends, sons and daughters. We provide a service to people by giving them the good news that their life has great worth and that they can use their will in useful ways by believing God.

So, Be reconciled to God this morning. Just go to Him and ask. He will provide all that you need for the day. You will lack nothing.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Moving In The Vision

"Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness abide in the fruitful field. And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever." - Isaiah 32:16-17 ESV

Sounds nice doesn't it? A place of rest. Let's look at the context of the passage.

"Rise up, you women who are at ease, hear my voice; you complacent daughters, give ear to my speech. In little more than a year you will shudder, you complacent women; for the grape harvest fails, the fruit harvest will not come. Tremble, you women who are at ease, shudder, you complacent ones; strip, and make yourselves bare, and tie sackcloth around your waist. Beat your breasts for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine, for the soil of my people growing up in thorns and briers, yes, for all the joyous houses in the exultant city. For the palace is forsaken, the populous city deserted; the hill and the watchtower will become dens forever, a joy of wild donkeys, a pasture of flocks; until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is deemed a forest. Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness abide in the fruitful field. And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever. My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places. And it will hail when the forest falls down, and the city will be utterly laid low. Happy are you who sow beside all waters, who let the feet of the ox and the donkey range free." - Isaiah 32:9-20 ESV

A complacent mindset is our enemy. We are strangers and pilgrims on the Earth (see Heb 11:1f).

Sow beside all waters, not some of them, all of them. Go into all the world.

Mourn a little. Leave what you like to go in the vision. It is good for you.

We all crave security sometimes. We plant and things grow. But, The time comes to move forward not grasping too tightly to what we have but moving forward into the next thing.

"Happy are you who sow beside all waters, who let the feet of the ox and the donkey range free." - Isaiah 32:20 ESV

The peace we found in the fruitful season will stay with us. It is the effect of righteousness. It is better to go and return than to over stay my welcome.