Monday, August 31, 2015

Enjoying The Light

I don't like listening to people who are trying to persuade themselves as they speak. The instability of a double mind shows through the argument and there is a level of control that is struggling to be established. If they can convince others then maybe they can convince themselves.

The things I am reading about this morning are not things I know. I am delving into areas that I have seen people who are grounded function in but I have not. I'd like to be stronger in my understanding. I'd like to be in a place where I have wisdom to impart but today I would just be convincing you to convince myself.

So instead I'll just be quiet, transparent and let the scriptures I am reading do their work in me and restructure my soul.

"For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:" - Isaiah 28:10 KJV

I am glad it isn't a Sunday morning where I am scheduled to stand up in front of a group of people to give a message. Instead I can let the plow of God's word break up the fallow ground of my soul so things can be planted that one day I can share with others.

"He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap. As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything. In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good. Light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to see the sun." - Ecclesiastes 11:4-7 ESV

This morning I am just enjoying the light and letting it do it's work. A heart established in grace can do that without introspection or comparison. God's grace reveals a love that loves us just as we are and gives us room to grow fruitful in places that have been barren.

Thank You God. Turn me and I will be turned. Teach me and I will grow wise. You are God. You are my hope of salvation from circumstances, ignorance and you even save me from myself. Thank You God.


Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Great Gulf

"But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.' " - Luke 16:25-26 ESV

This is a verse that gives us a peek into the pre-crucifixion afterlife. When Jesus ascended into Heaven things changed. The doors of Heaven opened not only for Him but for all the people that went before Him and would come after Him.

"And Stephen said: 'Brothers and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran...

...Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.

And he said, 'Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.'

But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul.

And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.' And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, 'Lord, do not hold this sin against them.' And when he had said this, he fell asleep." - Acts 7:2a, 54-60 ESV

Stephen gave a long speech that I omitted but we see at the end of it Jesus standing up and receiving him into Heaven.

I think about that great gulf that was present for Abraham. We see a different kind of gulf in Stephen's account. Stephen saw what no one else there saw.

I have felt this gulf in my own life. After I got converted I tried to do the things I did before... I tried to like the things I loved before. I couldn't. I was still 'me' but a different 'me'. I had been moved to a different place. In one way it was a great thing because like Lazarus I had suffered in that other life and now I had a new one with a new start and better provisions.

It's funny how this nameless rich man does not ask to pass over to the other side. He just wants a provision from the other side. Abraham however does talk about it. He has compassion on the rich man. He does not want to exclude him. He just can't reach him. Stephen also has compassion on the people he is speaking to. He wants to reach them but knows that words alone can't do it. God must do it. God uses words but the words are there to trigger a faith decision and then God moves a person from one side of the gulf to the other.

The gulf Jesus crossed when He died and rose again is unfathomable. He now has the power to bring us to Himself.

I want everyone I have ever known to see Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father. I want everyone I know now to see Him. I want everyone I meet in the future to see Him. Words fail me many times. Like the blind man in John chapter 9 I just know that I was blind but now I see. I can't make others see... but Jesus can.

You may have looked at Him before but I plead with whoever is reading this to look at Him again. Read His words. Ask God to show you who Jesus Is. If you don't believe in God then just ask the question out loud to whoever might be listening. God will hear you. Jesus Is the One who bridges the gulf. He doesn't bring good people and shun bad people. He brings those who believe.


Friday, August 28, 2015

A Brother To The Fatherless

"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." - John 14:18 ESV

We often think of children without mothers and fathers when we think of orphans but being an orphan also involve living separated from brothers and sisters.

God won't leave people orphaned. He will come to people. He will send some out so that people can be brought in.

My heart is burdened for orphaned people today. People who are cut off for one reason or the other.

"If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." - James 1:26-27 ESV


Has our liberty brought us to a place where we can just say whatever we want to say. Is that what liberty is for? Or is our freedom given to us so we can visit those who are cut off and maybe hurting because of isolation.

Maybe we are not suppose to be a person's father but we are there to be a brother or a sister... not in some religious way but in a practical spiritual loving way.

God wants to father people. He does not want one person to be alone and hurting.

"The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." - 2 Peter 3:9 ESV

The Greek word metanoia (Strong's G3341) is the word translated as repentance here and it means to have a change of mind because there was something better to think about.

God wants folks to have a relationship with Him and people that know Him. He wants connections to form that will change minds. That is a process that takes time but God is patient.

The world around us sings the praises of self-sufficiency but I see orphaned people who are caring for themselves as best as they can but lack the support of a spiritual support system.

Help us God. Make us brothers and sisters to people. We want to find the lost and lonely ones.

Then we can sing together and laugh together. Then we can go together.


Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Master Who Upholds

"Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand." - Romans 14:4 ESV

The Greek word used for master here is kyrios (Strong's G2962) and in today's world a good equivalent would be boss or even supervisor. The kyrios is the one who determines and enforces the consequences and rewards. The have the power to bless or curse. They can give or take away. They can make life hard or easy.

Perhaps we are the master within certain realms. We have masters that make an effort to exert mastery... people or entities that can make life harder or easier.

"The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender." - Proverbs 22:7 ESV


The God of the Bible is the master that gives freedom. He is the master that upholds.

"And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him." - Hebrews 11:6 ESV

This morning I awoke with this thought echoing in my mind, 'You stand or fall before God alone.' and I can add to that the idea that when I sin I sin against God alone. My 'measuring up' is before the God who says that He is going to uphold me in every situation.

Perhaps we grew up in homes where people around us commanded unusual respect or in strict environments. Maybe it was the opposite... maybe those in authority were virtually invisible until it came time when a decision had to be made and that authority very reluctantly made one and then stepped back into near invisibility again.

The authority we have seen has shaped our expectation of how authority should be. No matter what we have seen before... God is going to surprise us with His goodness.

God's authority is gracious authority. The God of Heaven Is the all powerful deity that serves. He upholds. He Is generous. He is someone who blesses. He gives room but at the same time when He manifests Himself a decision must be made one way or the other and there will be consequences based on the response.

"Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?" - Ezekiel 18:23 ESV

No good boss wants his employees to fail. They don't hire with the desire to fire. Some people revel in that power but God is not a person that He would be that contradictory.

"So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty." - James 2:12 ESV

In freedom we can become masters of our own minds and accountable to our own choices. Grace takes us out from under oppressive power and places us in a kingdom that has order, dignity, honor, protection, support and love.

"And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." - Joshua 24:15 ESV

We can choose to be slaves or we can come under the master of masters who serves us by choice... the decisive lionhearted King who rules with a rod of iron while possessing the demeanor of a lamb.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Words Of Manifestation

"And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. 'I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.' Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, 'Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?' " - John 14:16-22 ESV

Judas (not Iscariot) asks a great question here and I have read the chapter several times looking for an answer and Jesus answers the question in a very indirect way.

"Jesus answered him, 'If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me. 'These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.' " - John 14:23-27 ESV

Words. The Spirit of God is the Spirit of truth. Jesus came to bring the Fathers words. We are born from seed that is made of words. We are the product of words.

"Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power." - Hebrews 1:1-3a ESV

Jesus' words won't stick to the world. They won't be retained. Our natural man has no use for God's words. Naturally speaking we are filled with our own words.

Our helper, advocate, coach and teacher is going to help us with words and those words have power. The world was created with words. Words can heal. Words are keys that lock and open doors. When the word is in us a home is created for the Father to live in us. God's words and His peace go hand in hand.

Every decision we make that is based on a word the God has spoken has eternal impact. It isn't memorization issue. It is a internalization issue.

"Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts." - Jeremiah 15:16 ESV


God's word is linked to His manifestation and His manifestation is linked to His word. His words are His person manifested objectively in the world. When we quote the Father He Is in the room with us and there is a conversation that Heaven is participating in.



Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Practice As It Rains

I had two clarinet practice sessions last night. I did a few basic songs then I went out and did a few chores and came back and played 'When the Saints Go Marching In' about a dozen times as it thundered and rained outside. It was very enjoyable to work on a piece of music again and again.

I am taking a break from my music lessons for now. I might start back up again in the fall but I want to practice for a longer period of time one night a week just to stay in the rhythm and not lose what I have learned.

A few passages come to mind...

"Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son." - 2 John 1:8-9 ESV

"Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple." - Luke 14:27 ESV

"Yet another said, 'I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.' Jesus said to him, 'No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.' " - Luke 9:61-62 ESV

Wow. Intense thoughts.

As I pick up my instrument and begin to play I am thankful that I have had a teacher. I need a teacher. What bad habits would I develop if I went it alone with no one to instruct me who had wisdom and experience?

What if I never practice? Where will the melody go? What will I have to relearn later?

The full reward is an interesting idea. When we abide in grace we have a full reward. Those moments are filled with full communion with both the Father and the Son.

I love when I stop thinking about what my fingers are doing and the song is just flowing with expression.

Today is a day to have my hands on the plow and not even glance back. The instrument and it's workings fade into the background. There is only God's music of grace.


Monday, August 24, 2015

Special Family Status

"Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. And he was told, 'Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.' But he answered them, 'My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.' " - Luke 8:19-21 ESV

I often think of this verse if I give a missionary money because I was taught by my family that giving cash as a gift to family members was an acceptable but it was better to give a thoughtful item to non-family members. So every time I hand someone cash I think, 'You are family.'

Our family has a special place in our hearts and minds. It is a unique place. Not everyone has family. Many of us have interesting relationships with our families. There are different boundaries drawn. We are willing or unwilling to do things because people are in a different category when they are considered family.

Jesus is displaying His deity when He says, 'My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.'

Some teach this verse this way... 'If you obey God's commands you will have special status with God. He will make concessions for you like you do for family.'

But, This verse comes to mind.

"Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;" - 1 Peter 1:22-23 ESV

Our first birth gave us an Earthly family but our second birth makes us children of Heaven.

Jesus was speaking prophetically about those who would mix faith with the Gospel and that good news would go deep into them and create a new person who would value what God values and function in the reality that God speaks about. At times that would come easy and at other times there would just be a sense of obedience absent from emotion.

The person who never hears the truth has only one family... the one who sometimes can't make it through the crowd to get to them because natural circumstances hinder natural love.

The person who hears the word of God and does it can love both families. Prayer transcends the crowd and all natural barriers. There is a provision for the things that drive us crazy and put wedges between brother, sister, father and mother.

A great feast is coming and God has room at His table for more family members. They are out there waiting to be found. Maybe today God will put us in front of a person who has never heard the truth and will truly hear it deep inside their soul today if it is spoken today in a fresh way.

Help us God. Help us not to be respecters of persons. Give us room in our hearts for more family members. Heal us where we need to be healed. It it easy to get wounded and hindered but we want to love with the freedom that only You can give us.

Thank You God for taking us in and giving us a special place at your table.


Friday, August 21, 2015

Seeds Of Love

"Then another came, saying, 'Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.' " - Luke 19:20-21 ESV

Wow. What a mistake to make. People may be severe and want to make a profit off of others without putting in much effort but God isn't that way.

God is gracious and if we allow Him to sow His life and thinking into our soil that seed will grow and there will be a harvest.

Help us God.

Make us creative sowers today. Make us people that spread seeds of love and mercy.


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Extra Stones

"You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle; and crafted in gold were your settings and your engravings. On the day that you were created they were prepared." - Ezekiel 28:13 ESV

"You shall make a breastpiece of judgment, in skilled work. In the style of the ephod you shall make it - of gold, blue and purple and scarlet yarns, and fine twined linen shall you make it. It shall be square and doubled, a span its length and a span its breadth. You shall set in it four rows of stones. A row of sardius, topaz, and carbuncle shall be the first row; and the second row an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond; and the third row a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst; and the fourth row a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper. They shall be set in gold filigree." - Exodus 28:15-20 ESV

It is interesting that the stones in the Eden of God match the the stones in the high priest's breast plate but instead of nine stone there are twelve... an extra row of three sandwiched in.

"and the third row a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst;" - Exodus 28:19 ESV

Heaven's pre-creation covering was magnificent but humanity living in time and space has added a new dimension to cover.

Maybe we think of Heaven as having more then Earth... more light... more colors... perfection of display. No doubt the time before time was wonderful but God has added a row for us. It isn't a row on the end. It is a row sandwiched in the middle but off center.

There are also nine fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians chapter five...

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control..." - Galatians 5:22-23a ESV

I was thinking yesterday how they all can be counterfeited somehow by something else. They have a match in our Earthly existence. People can be nice but not love. We can live in denial instead of true peace. All of the nine things have a match but there is something extra given to us as a covering.

God coming to Earth as a man is that extra row. Grace is in the mix of that extra row. Grace and mercy were not on display in the Eden of God. Man's faults put grace and mercy on display.

Different theologians describe the different qualities of the stones and make parallels but this morning I just see something extra and marvel that God would use us to put something extra on display.

The nine are great but I want to live in the twelve.

There a glory God wants to reveal.

"... the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." - Colossians 1:27b ESV


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Among The Stones Of Fire

When something is new it can be shaped in different ways by those who have access to it... children, corporations, governments are influenced and shaped in part by policies set forth in their formation.

There is value and potential danger in being at the ground floor of something. Founders often profit and/or lose the most from a new venture.

"You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle; and crafted in gold were your settings and your engravings. On the day that you were created they were prepared. You were an anointed guardian cherub. I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you. In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you. By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade you profaned your sanctuaries; so I brought fire out from your midst; it consumed you, and I turned you to ashes on the earth in the sight of all who saw you." - Ezekiel 28:13-18 ESV

The stones of fire here speak of lava or fires used to melt and cast metal. Satan was an eyewitness to God's creative work.

"Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements - surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?" - Job 38:4-7 ESV

It seems that all the angels were but Lucifer had unusual access. We don't know why Satan fell but we can see the other things that were different about him and come to some conclusions. There is a potential danger to being at the formation of something incredible and new. External decisions that create can also lead to internal decisions in witnesses that destroy them.

God called this place among the fiery stones an Eden. God thinks and acts in purity. He has no flaws but His decisiveness is based on knowledge that He alone possesses. An onlooker is put is a place where they will need to make a choice about what he or she is witnessing.

"Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them." - Hebrews 13:9 ESV

God wants to do a new thing in people's lives and as witnesses to God's work we are put in an interested position. How we think and what we say can make or break us. Thinking in grace is vital.

Today is a new day but are we new people who are thinking in newness? We can be.

"You have heard; now see all this; and will you not declare it? From this time forth I announce to you new things, hidden things that you have not known. They are created now, not long ago; before today you have never heard of them, lest you should say, 'Behold, I knew them.' You have never heard, you have never known, from of old your ear has not been opened. For I knew that you would surely deal treacherously, and that from before birth you were called a rebel. "For my name's sake I defer my anger, for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off. Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another. Listen to me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called! I am he; I am the first, and I am the last." - Isaiah 48:6-12 ESV

"From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." - 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 ESV

Jacob will say, 'I have seen all this before.' but Israel is a new creature. We are new creatures. The old has passed away. If we have the privilege of standing near the stones of fire and seeing what is formed we want to have minds that befit the place and time. If we live in the purity of Eden then we must guard our heart and make sure that the pure water flows over us so our thinking does not get dusty.

Then we can also act decisively and those decisions formed in grace will glory God in Heaven.


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Grace In 1 Peter Chapter 3

I was looking at this verse this morning...

"Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:" - 1 Peter 3:8 KJV

At face value it sounds in English like the writer is telling us to be something or do something. Here is a newer translation...

"Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind." - 1 Peter 3:8 ESV

But in truth it is hard verse to translate if you look at the Greek is says something like... 'In the end or lastly... unity, compassion, brotherly love, a capacity to be in a good mood because of a good stomach, kindness in a simple way... for all'

These aren't things we do. They are results of living in what has been done.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith - more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire - may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls." - 1 Peter 1:3-9 ESV

We have an inheritance and we are sealed with the Spirit of God.

"And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee." - 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 ESV

We are heirs with a credit line based on that future inheritance. We can draw on peace. We can live like rich people. Jesus is the real thing.


Monday, August 17, 2015

The Light Of No Condemnation

"But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says, 'Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.' " - Ephesians 5:13-14 NASB

"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." - Hebrews 4:12 ESV

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." - John 1:1-5 ESV

The Greek word there for overcome is katalambano (Strong's G2638) and it speaks of a struggle to possess or best something.

The dark mind can not possess the light. Light must come in and illuminate the darkness. But if light does come in then things get revealed.

"And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil." - John 3:19 ESV

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him." - John 3:16-17 ESV

The darkened mind can not come to this conclusion by itself. It must be told. Then when the light truly comes in that mind is illuminated. The light is the light of 'no condemnation'. It isn't just knowledge. It is love and a man who bore our sin for us so we could become the righteousness of God.

Grace coaxes us out of hiding. Grace is the gentle voice that awakens us from sleep by serving us. Rules and regulations just make us want to hide under the covers but grace invites us into the adventure of a new day.


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Swimming And Breathing

When I was a younger man I loved to swim. I loved to get buffeted by the waves on the beach and I loved to put on my googles and swim in the pool. Diving into the water was exhilarating. I loved to do laps and push off the wall and go as far as I could under water before taking a breadth of air. There was something exciting about staying under water and fighting the urge to get air until the last moment.

The muffled world under water is reversed somehow. Gravity keeps us on the ground. We dream we can fly but can only jump so high before our feet find themselves back on the ground. When you swim the surface of the water is the ground and the water is like the air. Underneath you can fly. With flippers and goggles you can gain speed with visibility.

Yesterday I thought of this verse as we spoke to people addicted to drugs and it seems out of place but none the less it is what I was thinking about.

"And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." - Genesis 2:7 KJV

Did Adam gasp for air like a swimmer returning to the surface after a long dive? Did he scramble a moment in panic and feel the surge of life? Maybe it was a gentle inhale and exhale that was no event at all worth mentioning but maybe it wasn't. One day I'll ask him if I still care about the answer once I meet him.

I find faith to be like swimming used to be for me. I dive in and get back out dripping with water just to head back to the board and dive again. At times we save those who don't know how to swim or get a cramp and need help making it to shore.

I don't know any lifeguards that hated to swim before they took their test but I do know people who stopped loving to swim because swimming became a job.

Life without that panicked moment when I inhale sweet precious air is just a job... a thing to endure until something else comes along.

I am not a young man anymore. Adventure seems to take a toll on my body and it isn't only because of age. It is tempting to play things safer because of the price involved but that is not living it is just existing.

So in I go again. I'll travel to the water where people are drowning and I'll jump in to save them. That struggling soul is worth more than all the world. At the same time I want to just jump in and swim even if it's just to climb up the ladder dripping wet and take another dive off the board. There is another world under the water with God. The rules are different there. I can fly there with Him when I live by faith.

That is what every addict in that park needs. That is what ever person on the team who went to talk to them needs. That is what I need.

We need to breath in the free gift of God and then give it back to him and then do it again and again. That is living.

Thank you Jesus for restoring breadth to my lungs. I would have drowned without You. Your Father gave me life and You have given me my life back. I am so grateful. When I lose my way please show me where the water is. Show me where it is for this next season of life. I long to swim with You.


Friday, August 14, 2015


I've been thinking about credentials this morning. Jesus didn't begin His ministry until later in life. He was about thirty years old. In that time he had not gone to a prominent school nor did he have titles or degrees that represented Earthly accomplishments.

He healed people and those people became His credentials.

When He spoke His words had authority but He also was a meek humble person who visited tax collectors in their homes and was kind to children. He lived a life that drew people who were interested in what He had to say and offer because He was clearly an expert. All you had to do was spend some time with him.

People want expertise. If they have been around for awhile they value it more and more because they have experienced what it is like when people follow bad advice.

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." - Matthew 11:28-30 ESV

Most experts will charge a fee of some kind. There is a price you must pay to glean from or profit from their expertise.

God's method is so different. He just says, 'Believe in me.'

Only believe and live in the counsel of resurrection life.

There are people all over the Earth today who have been healed by Jesus. We are His calling cards... ministers of reconciliation. It is an easy yoke and a light burden to bear but it takes up space and leaves no room for anything else.

Are we experts? In what exactly?

I can honestly testify that I have been healed and if you want to meet my doctor I can assure you that He Is glad to take on new patients.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Grace And Conviction In Ephesians Chapter Five

I am reading Ephesians chapter 5 over and over again this morning. It is hitting me hard in a good way. It makes me think of this passage.

"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the LORD, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off." - Isaiah 55:9-13 ESV

Just starting the chapter we see the intense conviction of the writer...

"Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God." - Ephesians 5:1-5 ESV

When Jesus is in focus everything else falls away. Everything else falls short.

"Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord." - Ephesians 5:6-10 ESV

Yes, Discern what is of God and what isn't. Jesus pleases God. We walk as children of light basking in the glow of God's Son. We are surrounded by sexuality in our culture. Crude humor is all around. It isn't our focus. The light is our focus. Jesus is our focus.

"Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, 'Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.' Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil." - Ephesians 5:11-16 ESV

Wow. Just wow. Conviction. The same way we might wake someone up and say, 'It's morning and it's time to wake up.' We say, 'God is here. The light is here. Wake up. Jesus is in the room. There is no condemnation and it's time to open your eyes.'

A wise person knows that waking up at a good hour leaves time to get things done during the day. If we stay in bed all day not much is going to happen or we will begin to stay up late into the night.

"Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 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 5:17-21 ESV

Yes. This is a continuation of discerning what is pleasing to the Lord. Jesus pleases the Lord. My heart begins to sing when I focus on the finished work. That from before the foundation of the world Jesus was and Is a lamb that was slain so that my sins could be put away forever. When that is my focus and the context of my conversation then I'm not thinking about the next party. I'm not looking for diversion.

The realization of grace produces reverence. Good and bad are empty words. Dead and alive are what we think about. Jesus is alive and our old lives died with Him. We are new people who walk in a light that has been made visible to us.

"For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." - 2 Corinthians 4:6 ESV


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Egypt's Help Is Worthless

" 'Ah, stubborn children,' declares the LORD, 'who carry out a plan, but not mine, and who make an alliance, but not of my Spirit, that they may add sin to sin; who set out to go down to Egypt, without asking for my direction, to take refuge in the protection of Pharaoh and to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt! Therefore shall the protection of Pharaoh turn to your shame, and the shelter in the shadow of Egypt to your humiliation... Egypt's help is worthless and empty; therefore I have called her 'Rahab who sits still.' " - Isaiah 30:1-3, 7 ESV

Grace is an alliance with God's Spirit. To live in grace is to live in God's reality.

But people just return to Egypt and forget that it was a place of pain and contradiction. People are laughing and eating well in Egypt. They had things there that we don't have here. Maybe that is a better way? Maybe it isn't so bad there? It might be different this time then it was before.

For some it isn't that kind of identification. The wounds they received in Egypt ache and plague their thinking. Their identity becomes an identity based on what happened in past bondage.

"Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers." - Psalm 1:1-3 ESV

The word for law here is Torah (Strong's H8451) which references God's written instruction.

"Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God." - 1 Peter 1:18-23 NASB

Yes. Instead of going back we can move forward. The Torah came as a flesh and blood man and came as the living word. The Torah is testifying of Him.

Let's acknowledge the slavery of the past but go forward to freedom. There is no quickening in Egypt. Quickening comes far away from the neon lights. Quickening comes when the historical resurrection becomes a present day reality to us and we live in a agreement with the Holy Spirit about the nature and character of the living word and what He has already accomplished on our behalf.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Infinity And Humanity - Part 2

"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might." - Deuteronomy 6:4-5 ESV

This passage is an amazing piece of scripture. It is pointed to almost universally as the basis for monotheism (the belief in a singular deity). God uses different names to describe Himself to spectacular effect. The word LORD is Yahweh (Strong's H3068) and it is God's most personal name. Then there is God (Elohim H430) which is plural ('im' is a plural ending that means three or more). This singular God that you (Israel) has Is plural in nature but this LORD is also one (Echad H259) which is the same word used in Genesis 1:5 when the scripture speaks of the first day of creation.

This infinite God is one God who wants all of your heart, soul and might to overlap with who he Is.

That can't happen by our finite effort.

"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work." - 2 Corinthians 9:8 ESV

The good in 'good work' is agathos (G18) and it means useful or pleasant. Grace bridges God's infinite but singular nature with man's endlessness to produce sufficiency and usefulness.

Grace can fill our moments with sufficiency.

"The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms." - Deuteronomy 33:27a ESV

He is upholding all who have found Him to be a dwelling place. Jesus is the entrance to that shelter. One narrow door into the place where grace in all sufficient.


Monday, August 10, 2015

Infinity And Humanity - Part 1

From a biological viewpoint we are finite creatures. There is a specific number of cells in our body. We don't know what it is but there is a set number. From the moment sperm and egg interacted to form a new set of cells to the second that the last cell in our body dies also has a number. You could say that the human race itself could conceivably have a similar number... a first person and a last person.

The Bible proposes a notion however that the soul is not finite. It has a beginning but no end. It is infinite but infinite in a particular way. It starts but does not stop. It has a progression.

Infinity is one of the concepts that opened mathematics up from being straight addition and multiplication into something else. Infinity was hidden in the math of a circle. It was waiting there right there between zero and one. How many numbers are there between zero and one... .1, .11, .111, .1111

Where do we even start to count? How small is smallest? It is conceptually infinite.

Pi is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter and a symbol must be assigned to it because the decimal places seem to go on forever 3.1415926...

God did make man in His image and we are clever creatures. We took an infinite number like Pi and just assigned it a Greek letter so we could use it in our math and math opened up like a flower. It was no longer something to be used in the market place to buy fruits and vegetables. Math could be used in engineering and architecture to spectacular effect.

There are many directions we could take these ideas in but I want to focus on just a couple of them.

"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." - 1 John 1:7 ESV

What does all mean in the light of eternity? All is every one possible. If the Bible deals in infinite things as easily as it deals in finite ones then what does all really mean?

It covers every fraction and every multiplication. It covers every real number and every irrational number that needs a Greek letter to represent it. All stretches out into the vast expanse of the human experience and into the smallness of the tiniest moment.

"And he said to me, 'It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son' ." - Revelation 21:6-7 ESV

Payment would require addition and subtraction. Payment needs no knowledge of the infinite to function. God wants us to enter into His higher math and function in the place where engineering and architecture blossom. He has a love that is without a beginning and without an end.

When Jesus said, 'It is finished.' on the cross He meant it. All of it is finished. Redemption is finished. Time is still ticking away and God is using time in humanity and in the angelic contest but infinity entered time and space in a unique way when Jesus was born and His death also accomplished something very unique and infinitely far reaching.

"Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?' " - John 11:25-26 ESV

Do we believe it? When our biology comes to an end what will happen to our soul?


Friday, August 7, 2015

A Way Through The Famine

I've been thinking about Joseph a lot the last few days and praying for those I know who are in tight spots.

Isn't it funny that after all that time in prison Joseph didn't have any buddies to bail out after he got out himself. The interpreter of dreams seems like he led a solitary life for long periods of time.

People can lead solitary lives. They work. They plan. They have aspirations that they may not discuss with many people that seem far removed from the life they see in front of them. Some of the hardest times of my life have been when I was out of work knowing that the only money I had in the world was what I had in my pocket and that was only going to last so long. Those are lonely times because you don't want to have to beg or borrow and you are not going to steal but more of something needs to come from somewhere.

Joseph's in prison life was somehow preparation for Joseph's throne life as second only to Pharaoh and manager of the food that would sustain that region through the famine.

Pharaoh dreamed his dream of cows and corn alone.

"And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, In my dream, behold, I stood upon the bank of the river:" - Genesis 41:17 KJV

Pharaoh dreamed he was alone standing on the bank of the river. Joseph knew about being alone and he knew about dreams. Joseph dealt in dreams and it didn't win him any friends but when the going got tough Joseph knew where to turn. God was his friend.

Today, I had a little situation that looked like it could go badly. I cried out to God and I believe He listened and saved me. There was humor in it and everything. It was almost like he was teasing me in a playful way.

God was my friend today. He will be my friend tomorrow. That is grace... really it is

I sit here tonight alone in my thoughts (but connected to God by faith) lifting up marriages, children, job situations and complex issues to God I know that God will be gracious to the people I am praying for also. Some of the people will see His hand in their provision and others won't. That is between them and God... but I know who blesses people. I know who gives and takes away. I have gotten glimpses of His heart and reflections of His thoughts through the account of the life of His Son.

God has a way to get us through the famine.

Good wants to be with us in our solitary times. He wants us to be with Him. He loves us.


Humility In The Face Of Accusation

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen." - 1 Peter 5:6-11 ESV

How do you resist an accuser? The verse here speaks of The Devil which could also be translated The Slanderer. When a devil talks about people he always has the story wrong. He wants to devour something.

This passage starts and ends with God. God wants to lift up. Humbling ourselves before God places us in a position to be lifted by God's power. The accusation from the devourer is that God want to devour but God isn't hungry to devour men.

Most people that are against us are against us because they are hungry for something. It isn't personal.

When we humble ourselves before God we are starving out ambition. We are living in a new nature that was given to us the very first time we agreed with God about what Jesus did on the cross. When we believed God gave us the power to humble ourselves before Him willingly. That new nature has access to a peace that passes understanding.

God can't and won't bless pride. He Is looking for people He can bless. He has called us to 'eternal glory in Christ'.

So whatever our situation is today. We might be riding the wave or suffering the consequences of accusation in some way. Humility before God is the right course of action. He is the One who can make things right.

I know that I want to see some things restored, confirmed, strengthened and established. Don't we all. Prayer, humility, time and the knowledge that God wants to work in our lives and our world... that is where I find hope for the future.


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Building A Tower

"For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.' Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple." - Luke 14:28-33 ESV

This is a good passage for career planning. To be successful financially we must plan like we are building a tower or waging a war. To be successful spiritually we must renounce all that we have and make the shift from relying on our own ability and rely instead on the gift of righteousness that has been given to us.

Surveying the landscape of our chosen profession is a good thing. If we were job hunting do we have the skills and tools in place to find a new source of income? If there was a fire or disaster of some kind do we have an escape route? Do we have a plan? Tower building requires a plan. If we want to live in a rancher we don't need an extensive plan but if we want to build a tower we do need one.

How about spiritually? Do we want to live in a rancher or to build a tower?

"Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him..." - Matthew 5:25a KJV

In this verse our adversary is the Holy Spirit who convicts us. It might be a good idea to step back and make a few calculations. Do I really want a war with God? We don't have the resources for such a conflict so why go there?

Renouncing what we think we have and living in grace is a much wiser decision then beating ourselves or other people up. Grace is the best plan for the long haul. Our lives are better spent living by faith no matter what is looks like by sight.

The tower in Babel was never finished. They wanted to climb to Heaven and that never works. The things we want to see built are monuments to grace and those things glorify God.


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Grace And The Scientific Method

For a person who doesn't trust myself I tend to make very bold statements about reality. You may have noticed that if you are tuning in to what I'm saying from day to day.

I think all of us have met people who are very confident that what they are saying is true but a good portion of their life is in total disarray. You listen and think, 'Wow, This is crazy talk. What reality is this person living in?' Then there are others that are very stable people who are also sure of what they are saying and their lives are mostly together and ordered in a functional way but you still think, 'I am not on-board with how this person is speaking.' One is an orderly kind of wrongness and the other is a disorderly kind.

My confidence comes from the Bible and my distrust of self also comes from the Bible. Don't get me wrong I could distrust myself without any help at all. I've made enough mistake to have a healthy distrust for my own judgement but the Bible has made me issue a recall on my own thinking. The whole batch can't be trusted.

This morning I woke up thinking about the scientific method. This method has risen to the top as the way way science is carried out by smart people. An observer puts two and two together and forms a hypothesis from their observation. They make a statement about what they saw. After that they devise tests to prove and disprove that statement. If after many exhaustive tests the statement still stands the hypothesis then gets moved into the fact category.

The reason I don't trust myself is that I know that my I am flawed. My thinking is rigged to come to conclusions that benefit me. My own selfishness shows even if my science is right my ability to apply that science isn't.

People speak about God and say He can be trusted. Some have very circular arguments and clearly strange motives. They demanded that people trust God but that never convinced me.

God's grace shows me that He Is trustworthy. Grace has and does convince me.

Sure there are other things like the amazing accuracy and beauty of the world around me. God made all these things that run like clockwork. He is incredibly ordered while still incorporating a beautiful seeming randomness into His work that only a master artist could accomplish. But that artist could have moved on to other things. He might not know about me and my issues. That artist could be impersonal.

Grace says a man came from Heaven to die on a cross for you and I without us asking or wanting Him to come. Grace has opened a way to experience forgiveness and dignity that has nothing to do with our effort. Grace is perfect. Sin can't mess it up. A person can foolishly reject it but they can't fundamentally disprove it... not on a factual level. In one hundred years there will still be more legal proof that Jesus died on a cross and rose from the grave then there will be that you or I were ever born. Nor can it be disproved on a conceptual level. Grace has no ulterior motive. It gains nothing by what it does.

A gracious God can't be impersonal. No one who would go to the lengths of dying for a person would just leave them hanging out to dry.

Grace isn't selfish. A friend who would (and did) give His life for you is someone who you can trust. Anger can be wrong. Justice can be flawed. History can be changed. Motives can be questioned. Good people can make very bad decisions. Conclusions can lack the proper exhaustive experimentation. But grace is right. I can't see anything wrong with it have looked but the more I look the more amazed I am.

There are plenty of people that speak boldly about the Bible that I heartily disagree with because grace is missing. I look for grace not just knowledge. Grace is reliable.

Because I distrust myself I often take another glance at things. It is kind of like rechecking that you have locked the door when you leave the house. What I look for now is grace. I don't run more experiments. I look to see if grace is in the mix of what I am thinking and doing. If it is I have peace because I know that God will direct and correct me.

Grace and truth go hand in hand. You can't have one without the other.


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Power To Create A Name

I was thinking of those toys that make farm animal sounds. Little children learn about animals by looking at pictures and making the distinctive sound. It's a fun game and everybody gets to make silly noises while helping a child grow.

Ducks say, 'Quack. Quack.' and they are yellow. The cow says, 'Moo' and it is big and brown and white.

What about God and people and angels? What do they say and do?

The Bible tells us what God and angels do. People are funny aren't they? Barks, growls and squeaks just don't cover it do they?

"If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;" - Psalm 130:3-5 ESV

If God named us by our squeaks and growls we would be done and if we name each other that way we also will fall short of see a person for who they are. Sentences like, 'You always do that.' or 'Why can't you ever do this.' kill relationships one inch at a time because they tell someone a standard that they do not live up to. God is not marking those things. He couldn't have a relationship with us if He did. He Is a holy God.

Grace gives us a name that God knows. Grace makes us an object of love. We name the animals but only God can name us.

Jesus gives us a good name. If we are found to be under His covering we are called blessed. We are called righteous. He names us beloved.

People will just name what they see or don't see. Fallen angels will lie and call us something purposely wrong because they hate, fear and twist. It is their nature.

We can spend the day calling things as we see them or using the labels others have made but there is a third option. We call things as God sees them. He looks at each one as forgiven and wants cleansing to come in to wash away an old identity and replace it with one that is under the covering of His Son.


Monday, August 3, 2015

One Simple Solution

The problems we face in life are many and varied but the answer I return to is simple and singular.

"Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.' " - John 14:6 ESV

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit." - Galatians 5:22-25 ESV

Jesus is the answer.

We might say, 'How does that pay my bills? or 'How does that change my situation?' or 'How does that help me in this relationship?'

Jesus opens the door to the Father and sends the Spirit into our life.

"When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you." - John 16:13-14 ESV

The Spirit glorifies the Son of God and produces fruit in our life. The fruit becomes a provision for us to have patience with people and peace that passes understanding. We become gentle at work and exhibit control and confidence as we do what is needed to make and manage money.

Many people out there seem to have natural capacities that help them compensate but human beings have limited resources. The Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills (see Psalm 50:10).

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.." - Hebrews 12:1-2a ESV

That is my plan this week. It is a simple strategy that has worked for thousands before I was born who had much more complicated lives then I have. It is going to be a fruitful week.


Sunday, August 2, 2015


I have been thinking today a lot about regression (or reversion) in people. I see it in myself at times. If you have even done nursing home ministry you see it everywhere. Elderly people acting like children. You could say they have gotten more childlike but if you speak to them it is not that at all. They have returned to their childhood state of mind.

It is natural in a crisis to look for shelter and safety. If where we are is intolerable and we can't go forward we go back. Time travel is not possible so we flee in a different way.

A couple of verses come to mind.

"Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." - Luke 18:17 ESV

"When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways." - 1 Corinthians 13:11 ESV

I know believers that act like atheists. They aren't but they have reverted into the mindset of one. Some might say that they were never regenerated at all... that is the case for some but not others. They have just reverted because of pain or hurt or something irreconcilable that happened.

"For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt." - Hebrews 6:4-6 ESV

This is a very contested passage but I really think it is speaking of reversion. The reborn Hebrew suddenly couldn't work. They were thrown out of the synagogue and faced tremendous pressure and persecution in Israel. Some of them responded to the pressure by reverting. They acted like they were who they were before Jesus came on the scene. They denied Christ and returned to an old way.

It is sad to see someone saved in their twenties revert back to the things they did before but it is even sadder to see someone who was brought up in a Christian home and converted at an early age revert because they just don't have anywhere to go. They almost invent a fictional past to return to.

Salvation can't be lost but the believers experience of salvation can be. People can't turn back to God if they deny the very existence or reality of the thing that they would be turned back to. Jesus isn't Messiah to a backsliding person... He is a problem to be avoided and not the solution to be embraced.

But, The old music isn't the answer. Finding your high school flame won't solve anything.  It might just raise more questions. Skepticism is from before... why would we return there? We can sulk like a thirteen year old and skip through the grass like we are seven but we will still be who we are now. The thing that stopped us and caused us to retreat is still there. Hiding won't fix anything.

We all need to be childlike but in a right now kind of way. God can return our thinking to childlike purity when redemption enters our frame of reference once again. Jesus is the door that opens into childlike faith. There is no other way in. In truth there is no other way forward but through Him that will not lead to vanity.

Fear can only hinder the ignorant. Faith mixed with truth gives all of us the ability to move forward because God is doing it in us.

"Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation ... Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. By day the LORD commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life." - Psalm 42:5, 7-8 ESV

Yes. Let's be men and women that stand tall. We might flinch but we don't have to fall back. Our faith can be fresh, pure and new like a child as we move in the maturity of years.

The past has a nice fragrance to us at times but those roses are gone. There are new fields to be planted and harvested. Let's go forward and cry out, 'Today I will put away childish things. Today I am believing in You. I am going forward with You God. Take me where You will.'


Saturday, August 1, 2015

Visitation In The Greek And Hebrew

Visitation is a great word.

"Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation." - 1 Peter 2:12 KJV

It is a time when God shows up in a special way. It can be a time when people come by and turn someone's solitary time into a 'when two or more are gathered in my name' time.

In the Hebrew the word translated visitation is Pequddah (Strong's H6486) and it is also translated oversight, ordering, account and custody. Visitation is organized and scheduled even if it is as simple as say, 'Ok, Let's all meet at the cafe and go.'

The Greek word is Episkope (G1984) and that is also translated as 'office of a bishop' in 1 Timothy chapter 3 verse 1. In newer translations it is appears as 'overseer'... that person purposes to have sight that looks on the logistics of a situation from above. They get a higher vantage point and survey for the purpose of organizing what it happening.

"The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil." - 1 Timothy 3:1-7 ESV

Yes. Visitation is a beautiful word.

I can't help but think of my friends throughout the world who go to visit people to make them feel loved. They visit with hope in their hearts and words of grace in their mouths.

In the Hebrew scriptures the law required hospitality for those from outside who came to visit. After the cross we are commissioned to go and bring hospitality to people near and far.

"And he said to them, 'Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.' " - Mark 16:15 ESV

Yes. If we have a vision to organize trips to bless then God will show up and bless. Amazing.