Thursday, December 20, 2018

Formed By Love

One of the things that impressed me most about the Church that invested in me before I received Christ were the children.

"We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death." - 1 John 3:14 ESV

"Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law." - Romans 13:8 ESV

"By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." - John 13:35 ESV

There was love in that place and the children there looked you in the face. I can't say all of them were perfect well-adjusted people. I didn't know all of them. I just saw some of them at certain times and those few encounters impressed me.

I didn't grow up that way.

The love that I saw in those children long ago has made its way into my life. Jesus came in and cleaned house. Much remodelling has taken place over those years. I look people in the eyes now. I hope they see the love there. It is flowing in my heart and life because of God.

"And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." - Ephesians 6:4 KJV

I think the KJV says it best for this passage. This 'nurture' is a brand that can't be counterfeited. Jesus is the ingredient that makes the difference.


Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Strong Nurturing

Just sitting here thinking about the 'nurture' part of the nature vs nurture idea. What does it mean for a child to have love, mercy and structure? What is the value of that investment? I dare say that there are no perfect parents or care givers but God does work through some folks. There is a nurture that flows from Him and that flow is invaluable. We can only give what we have received. That is what we have in our pockets. We can only lead someone somewhere we have already been.

Jesus came from God's throne and has returned there. He has been to the other side of death's door to places no one has returned from. He loves from the Father's heart of love because He has gathered that Love right from the Father. He can nurture like no one else can.

It is good to also keep in mind that He Is this person...

"And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS." - Revelation 19:11-16 KJV

The lion and the lamb.

His nurture has strength behind it.


Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The Sound In The Multitude

I've been thinking a great deal about good vs bad and belief vs unbelief and how they are different economies. A person who believes can be both good and bad but there is a quality there that transcends all of that.

"As he drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. And hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what this meant. They told him, 'Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.' And he cried out, 'Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!' And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, 'Son of David, have mercy on me!' " - Luke 18:35-39 ESV

Did that man discern something about this multitude? Did he hear something different in the voices of the people? Clearly, not everyone following Jesus was 'good'. He was rebuked by a few of them.

This blind man cried, 'Son of David' and that was a special thing to say. He was acknowledging Jesus' Messiahship. He wasn't saying, 'Help me I'm a good man who needs help.' No. He was saying, 'I believe in You.'

"And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him. And when he came near, he asked him, 'What do you want me to do for you?' He said, 'Lord, let me recover my sight.' And Jesus said to him, 'Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.' And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God." - Luke 18:40-43 ESV

That was the sound This blind man heard. He heard people in the midst of the multitude glorifying God. Good and bad are all around us. There is nothing extraordinary about that. It is very subjective.

"They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them..." - Romans 2:15 ESV

Accusing and excusing and it is all natural thinking. We can be in places where the standards are so impossibly high that this is happening all the time and people's thoughts are occupied with accusations and excuses but the blind man heard a different sound in this multitude. It wasn't a crowd of perfect people praising each other's perfection. People were glorifying God and Jesus was in the center of that crowd. He was the person that was making that happen.

We can jump on to the treadmill of performance today but people need to hear a different sound. Some will look for the source of that sound and find Him. He Is the man with healing in His wings. He Is God Himself walking in the multitude that magnifies His name.


Wednesday, December 12, 2018


Thirst and dehydration.

We are back in that season where I need to have water right on the nightstand. I need that water even though I don't wake up thirsty. The heat needed to keep my dwelling place comfortable also pulls the water right out of the air.

"...As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?" - Psalm 42:1b-2 ESV


Our soul needs God like the deer pants after running and looks for that cool water. Perhaps he or she has been running for its life away from a predator and didn't take a calculated path. It just runs until no one is chasing anymore and now that deer needs water.

Drink now. You need it and so do i. Drink of God's mercy. Sip on His enlightened point of view. Your soul needs it much more than you think it does.


Friday, December 7, 2018

Seeing A Person As If They Were Christ Himself

Here are a few passages I was looking at this morning as I was pondering the idea of seeing people 'as if they were Christ Himself' while still understanding that all people are fallen and flawed in different ways and degrees.

"...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus," - Romans 3:23-24 ESV

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.' " - Matthew 25:34-40 ESV

"But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side and said to them, 'Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.' " - Luke 9:47-48 ESV


God give us these eyes. We need your eyes of love and grace. There is great dignity in this.


Thursday, December 6, 2018

Learning About Love

I could post this as a quiz but it is something I have been thinking about lately (especially when I see someone preparing food).

Why do food preparation workers to wear those plastic gloves:
a) To keep their hands clean
b) To keep their bosses happy
c) To keep the food sanitary
d) All of the above

I often see people who think 'a' and 'b' are the correct answers. They are just doing what they are told but they don't really know why they do what they do. Option 'c' doesn't happen because the person doesn't know or perhaps they don't care why they need to do what they are being asked to do.

Perhaps the person thinks, 'We only have one box of these so I'll wear this pair as long as possible to make the gloves last. The boss will see me wearing gloves and I won't use very many of them and that will make my employer even happier.'

The purpose of the gloves is to keep the food sanitary so the customer gets a clean wholesome meal. The bosses happiness is just misunderstood even though it may have been explained once after the person was hired. If the person who doesn't understand the gloves trains other people they further perpetuate the myth of false compliance.

'All of the above' is a good answer because if the food is sanitary then the other things are also happening as a side effect.

" 'You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." - Matthew 5:43-48 ESV

"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all." - 2 Corinthians 13:14 ESV

Do we understand what love really is and what it is for? No, I don't think we do. The Holy Spirit must teach us, illuminate us and fill our heart with love in order for us to have a moment by moment understanding that love is unity with the Father. Love has side effects but those effects are not the primary goal.

If we misunderstand the gloves we handle the food and trash with the same gloves and think we are exceeding what is expected.

Jesus is the way we understand Love. He is the description of love. He is the bridge and conduit of love.

"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." - Romans 5:1-5 ESV

Wow. Yes.

The Holy Spirit must be our teacher and we are fortunate that He Is a wonderful capable instructor. He shows us that we are loved by a perfect love. If we are good we are loved. If we fail and weakness or even rebellion fills our heart for a season God's love is unchanged. His love is holy love.

Jesus knew the Father's love was 'for' the people who were crucifying Him. He could and did love because He understood love. That love brought Him to a cross.

That love is 'The Love' the people around us need to experience.


Wednesday, December 5, 2018

It Starts With One Person

In my book about hospitality the author was talking about 'becoming hospitable' and he said it starts by welcoming one person into your heart and then doing it again and again.

I like that and think it is true but the desire to become that way usually starts with being around a hospitable person or being the recipient of hospitality. We see it and value it and want it in our life.

Sharing the Gospel is like that also. It can be an uncomfortable and socially dangerous thing to do because faith and unbelief can be very private for many people. Perhaps they weren't ever around people who talk this way or were comfortable about discussing these things. Darkness looks like a good place to hide. It isn't but it looks that way.

I think of 'soul winning' as sharing God's hospitality. Jesus came and died on a cross to welcome people into His Father's heart again.

"For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve... Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me... But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain..." - 1 Corinthians 15:3-5, 8, 10a ESV

When we are hospitable we are saying, 'This is my life (meal, home, car) and I welcome you into it. You are important and wanted. What I am having I offer to you also. Let's share this.'

It is beautiful and I want to grow in this concept, skill and lifestyle.

But, When we give the Gospel we are saying, 'I am what I am by the grace of God and I'm comfortable with myself. This is God's gift to me and I want you to have this also.'

That is divine. It is supernatural in the most basic and organic way. It is a sublime gift.

It can be something we do if we just start doing it. We talk to one person. We spend time with people who do this and then we become a person who people want to spend time with because they want to learn how to do it.


Tuesday, December 4, 2018

The Time We Spend Each Month

Ok. I had more vivid dreams last night and I remembered parts of them now.

I was on the main street of a small town and people were lined up with tables in front of them. Someone was counting off months of the year. A voice would say a month and year and then pause 'November 2016... December 2016... January 2017...' and people would move very quickly like a video being put on fast forward (they must have been angels) and the tables would fill up with all kinds of things. Paper, pencils, cash and coins would pile up and someone with a clipboard would count everything out loud. Then all the things would disappear and refill when the voice called out another month.

'Ten pieces of paper, 4 staples, 3 hours, $193 and 27 cents...'

The people behind the tables didn't move quickly. They stood very calmly behind their tables like they were patiently waiting for these tallies to happen. One couple was holding a child and as the months ticked by the child got older and was eventually standing on his own. Their clothing changed each month and styles grew more modern.

Some people had nothing on their table at all as the months got ticked off and others had piles of things and money so high it surrounded them.

I remember being amazed that everything was being counted no matter how small it was. Even the staples used to bind paper together were all counted very studiously.

This was just a dream of course but it brings different passages to mind.

"Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." - Matthew 6:31-34 ESV

"When Jesus heard this, he said to him, 'One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.' " - Luke 18:22 ESV

"Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." - Ephesians 5:15-17 ESV

"Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person." - Colossians 4:5-6 ESV

In the dream, I was a spectator but as I sit here now I think of myself as someone standing behind one of those tables with angels filling up my table, tallying it up and taking it away. My God doesn't want me to work anything up. I am not trying to DO anything. God is love and has filled me with love and I 'seek His kingdom' in recognition that each moment is a gift and it can be spent involved in the things that God is interested in.

"So He said to them, 'When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven...' " - Luke 11:2 NKJV

Yes. When we pray. When we speak. This is how we can spend our time.

Jesus hallowed the name of the Father in everything He did. Christ revealed the invisible God and when we reveal Christ we hallow the name of the Father also.


Monday, December 3, 2018

The Inside Of The Cup

Who can clean their own soul? This next passage is interesting and was the subject of much meditation this weekend.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean." - Matthew 23:25-26 ESV

We can not see inside ourselves much less reach a spiritual brush inside but Jesus made statements like this to reveal a need that only God could meet. We can only try to clean the outside but Jesus says that if the inside gets clean the outside will be clean and our interactions won't pollute other people.

"...having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word," - Ephesians 5:26b ESV

"And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit," - Luke 1:41 ESV

"And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit," - Ephesians 5:18 ESV

We can't Cleanse our soul but God can. He is the only one who can. This combination of Spirit filling, fellowship and the intake of God's word cleanses us from inside out.

"Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool." - Isaiah 1:18 ESV

Grace teaching shows us God's character. Jesus finished the work on Calvary. He did all that needed to be done.

"He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, 'Lord, do you wash my feet?' Jesus answered him, 'What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.' Peter said to him, 'You shall never wash my feet.' Jesus answered him, 'If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.' Simon Peter said to him, 'Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!' Jesus said to him, 'The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.' For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, 'Not all of you are clean.' " - John 13:6-11 ESV

There is a deep cleansing that happens when we know Christ but there is an ongoing one that allows for a fellowship to continue.

God, We pray for those around us that need that deep cleansing and others that need their feet washed. Fill us with your Spirit as we meditate on your words. Draw us near to fellowship with people who are filled with your Spirit in good times and in difficult ones. Thank You God. You are our Rock and salvation.