How Do I Know If You Trust Jesus?

The other day in my last blog post I talked about people at the George Floyd protests carrying No Justice No Peace signs (as those found here) and I mentioned how ridiculous I find that slogan. I also mentioned these people don’t know peace and that peace dependent upon justice is worthless peace. But I left it at that because my previous post was a comparison of the circumstance of George Floyd and those of Jesus Christ and why I found it both ironic and sad that people would jump to champion the cause of George Floyd, but not so many jump to champion the cause of Jesus Christ.

Today I’d like to expound on those comments a little because I don’t want to just make a blanket statement without others understanding that I actually have thought about it, prayed about, studied it, and drawn some conclusions about it that I believe are in line with the Holy Scriptures. That and I really do think it is something for all of us (especially me) to consider.

But the way I’d like to explain those comments is by answering a question that anyone might ask of me. So I’d like to propose that a question one might ask of me is how do I know if you (or the person asking the question) really and truly trusts Jesus Christ? I could have titled today’s post “Do You Have Trust Issues?” but perhaps if I explain it from my perspective it will ring a little truer.

So lets start out with the answer before I get to the logic and explanation. The answer is simple. By observing your level of PEACE with life. However, allow me to explain that by trust I don’t mean the way you trust your bank to keep your money safe. I mean a faith that is unwavering and unshaken. A faith that cannot be moved. The trust I am talking about takes all of your heart, and all of your mind, and all of your soul, and all your strength (Mark 12:30). The trust I am talking about takes place on God’s terms and not on man’s (or our) terms. And likewise, when I say peace I am not talking about the human definition of mutual harmony between countries, friends, and neighbors. The peace I am talking about is inexplicable. We are told it passes all of our understanding. It is literally incomprehensible peace. And it is peace that comes from God (John 16:33). Your level of TRUST in God (the person of Jesus Christ) is directly proportional to the level of PEACE you experience within your life.

So how do I know this? Well first of all allow me to debunk the myth that peace is somehow tied to justice. If I am to assume that those who brandish this slogan mean that we cannot have peace without justice, then clearly they are wrong. Justice is indicative of a moral or righteous code of conduct. And there are injustices all over the world each and every day. How about the injustice of abortion? Something that bothers me greatly. But my peace is not dependent upon it. By point of reference, those that brandish the slogan are usually talking about what they would define as justice not what would necessarily be just within the eyes of God. If by their slogan they mean we cannot have peace without first having their brand of justice, then I submit to you it is a lost cause and we will never have peace. As long as justice is arbitrary and defined by the whims of man then peace will be elusive. We are told that vengeance belongs to the Lord (Romans 12:19) and that we are not to be given over to wrath. So clearly my peace isn’t (or shouldn’t be) tied to whatever justice I find or experience here on earth.

On the other hand if if those that brandish this slogan mean that they will not allow peace without justice, then once again I would submit to you there will be no peace here on earth. How can there be when we’ve tied it to some warped sense of justice? I am almost positive that those that brandish the slogan would have a problem when I tell them that I find those that call for the destruction of Israel, unjust. I am sure they would have a real problem with my views on abortion and how I find that practice unjust. I’m sure they would have a problem when I point out the unjustness of a cake decorator in Colorado (story here) being taken to court for not making an LBGTQ cake because it is contrary to his faith while at the same time they are calling for the tearing down of crosses (an example here) all over America. So whose justice are we talking about before we make peace not war? Certainly not what I (and hundreds of thousands of others) find to be just. Are we to go without peace for the sake of others? Or have these fools mistakenly tied peace to justice because it furthers their world view? (Just to be clear, I’m going with the latter).

So peace is not dependent upon justice, but what is it dependent upon? I would submit to you that peace is dependent upon trust. So how do I know this? Well I believe it is born out in Holy Scripture. Take Psalm 18:2 for example. What is your rock, your fortress, your deliverer, your very salvation, if not your peace? Is He not your place of refuge? Where all your needs are met? Where you find tranquility and where you are safe from all terrors? Is He not your PEACE?

And how do you obtain that PEACE? Through TRUST of course. You observe this almost everywhere in life. Missionaries exhibit this behavior every day of their lives. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Missionary friends in seemingly impossible circumstances. And yet totally at peace. They look at you and say “God WILL provide.” And they know this because they trust Him.

I don’t lose my peace because God is my VENGEANCE, God is my FORTRESS, God is my SALVATION, God is my ROCK, God is my EVERYTHING and I TRUST Him. And when my trust wanes, and worry creeps into my life, and it seems like terror is closing in, I cry out to Him to help me in my unbelief (Mark 9:24).

So how do I know if you trust Jesus? I look at the level of peace you exhibit in your life. The more peace, the more trust. And the more trust, the more peace there will be. Try it yourself and see if I’m right.

Are You Marching For George Floyd?

About four weeks ago no one in America (other than family and friends) had heard the name George Floyd. However, suddenly, after one senseless act, not only had the world heard the name of George Floyd, but he had suddenly become some type of martyr, a symbol, a cause to rally around.

Cries of racism, police brutality, and #BlackLivesMatter sprang up all over the news and on city streets everywhere. George Floyd had become a cause. Interestingly enough, where there was no cause the day before.

George Floyd was memorialized, he had a funeral of more than 500 including an appearance by the Rev. Al Sharpton. His family was invited to testify before the U.S. Congress. Rallies sprang up in cities across the nation. There were riots where entire neighborhoods were ravaged. And it continues on today.

Some folks even flew half way across the Pacific ocean in order to ensure they brought the protests to the State of Hawaii. I know because I saw them lining the side of the highway as I drove my wife to a Drs. appointment in town. One of them, a very young lady, probably not even in High School, held a sign that read “No Justice, No Peace“.

I’m not even sure she was wise enough to understand the sheer folly of the sign she was holding. Are we supposed to interpret that as without Justice in the world there can be no Peace? Or that they will not allow peace without justice? These people neither understand justice or peace. And to think that the two are somehow tied together or are dependent upon each other is so ridiculous and juvenile as to be laughable. The real problem is these people cannot experience peace because they’ve tied it to some warped sense of justice they’ve invented in their heads. And prior to four or five weeks ago, they didn’t even know they wanted that justice.

Let me tell you about a friend of mine. My friend, like George Floyd, is a person of color. He is not some white, European, male that (supposedly) holds all the privilege in the world. No, quite the contrary, he is probably part of a smaller minority than George Floyd is.

My friend, like George Floyd, is part of a race of people that has suffered slavery and intolerable injustices. My friends race was enslaved for many hundreds of years and far, far, far, more of them died in slavery than did any African Americans. And they were treated as worse or even more intolerable than any African American slave.

My friends race, unlike George Floyd, had six million of their brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, aunts, and uncles just exterminated, for no cause, during World War II. They were killed for the gold filling in their teeth, their skin was used for lampshades, and their dead bodies were stacked like cordwood.

My friend, like George Floyd, was arrested by a group of European white guys who pretended to be the law of the land, but only because they were part of an occupying force. They came for him in the middle of the night. Carrying swords. And they took him while he was praying in a garden. They never read him his rights, they never told him what he was being charged with, and they never extended him any human dignity.

My friend, unlike George Floyd, was arrested without cause. As-a-matter-of-fact, my friend had not only never broken a law, he had never even committed the smallest sin. He had never lied, never had an evil thought, never stolen. He was totally righteous and without blame.

My friend, unlike George Floyd, was brought before a kangaroo court and was charged with fabricated and false charges. The Chief Justice even said he found no fault in Him (John 19:6).

My friend, unlike George Floyd, was beaten and scourged almost to the point of death. He was crucified. Hung from a cross. And my friend did not get any justice in death. There were no marches in the streets, no calls for justice. The important religious leaders of the day were embarrassed to show up at his funeral. And my friend was buried in a borrowed grave.

My friend is a member of the Jewish race. And you never hear #JewishLivesMatter. Even though there are repeated calls from around the world today to literally exterminate them all. There has never been a race of people that has suffered the injustices to the extent that the Jewish people have. And no one, absolutely no one marches in the street for them.

My friends name is Jesus Christ. And unlike George Floyd, he gave up his life willingly to the Roman guards. Even though he was totally without blame, he did not resist arrest nor did he alter the course of history when they scourged him and hung him on a cross. Even though he could have easily called upon the very Angels of Heaven itself and destroyed the earth (Matthew 26:53).

Oh what a friend I have in Jesus. He gave his life willingly that I (and you) might live. He died unustly that there might be justice. He died that there might be peace like no other peace on earth. Jesus is my Rock that assures me there is Justice in this world. And Jesus is my Savior that brings a Peace that passes all understanding. No matter the marches in the streets, no matter the riots, no matter the sheer lunacy the world sinks into, you cannot take my Peace. For my Peace comes from He who owns all Peace.

Never in the history of all humanity has ANY individual ever been more unjustly treated and made to suffer without cause than the person of Jesus Christ. And never has racism ever reared its ugly head in a more prominent manner than against the Church of the Family of God.

And yet no one marches in the streets. No one picks up the cause. No one wants to hold high the banner of Jesus Christ. And yet if we did, we would find the Justice and the Peace we all are looking for in the world today. Think about it.

Are You Affected by the Global Pandemic?

If you are online today you are obviously aware of the global pandemic. Have you been affected by it in some way, shape, or fashion? It would seem that despite the sickness, loss-of-life, and health impacts to others, the greatest impact has been in economic and social realms.

This impact leads to the question of whether or not there can or should be restitution for the affects on peoples lives. This question has been asked in the news and indeed some governments have moved this question into the legal arena within the courts.

To answer this question we would first need to determine culpability. Was this an “act of god”? Or was it under the control of human intervention and could it have been prevented?

Most people are probably aware that the COVID-19 impact started in Wuhan China. But was it a natural outbreak from animals like bats (as some have suggested) or were humans involved? Today, I’d like to share with you a paper researched and written by a friend and colleague of mine, Dr. Ray Miller, PhD. that addresses this very question. Let me add my own comment to the discussion here. I firmly believe that China is culpable in the worldwide pandemic of COVID-19. I do not believe that they did anything maliciously or aggressively. But nation states (all nation states) delve into areas that are dangerous on a global scale when not treated properly. In this case, I believe that China was conducting viral research (for whatever reason, medical, military) and there was an accident that released the virus under research from the lab. And the rest is history. But you can decide for yourself. Here is Dr. Miller’s paper for your consideration:

What’s In Your Seed Bag?

The other day a friend remarked to me that sometimes he wished he had the audience of Joel Osteen. I asked Why? And he said that if he had the audience Joel Osteen has he knew exactly what he would say to them and the opportunity to reach so many lives must be a fantastic thing.

My response to that was “God has entrusted to Joel Osteen whom He would entrust to Joel Osteen and He has entrusted to you those whom He would entrust to you.” And then I told him our job was to simply scatter seed.

My experience is that when people consider the parable Jesus told about the sower, as recorded in Matthew 13:3-8 they tend to focus on where the seed fell, how the seed grew, and how much fruit was brought forth. Seldom, if ever, have I heard any emphasis upon the sower. The very first thing Jesus told us was that a sower went forth to sow.

I grew up on a farm. And I’ve planted (sowed) a lot of seed. And I’ve seen a lot of seed grow producing good healthy plants that yielded a very rich crop of great looking fruit. I’ve also seen seed that has produced some pretty awful looking plants that never produced any fruit at all. With corn the unhealthy plants always seemed to be the ones at the edge of the field. The plants at the end of the row or the outside of all the rows. I’ve also seen a lot of seed that went into the ground that never grew.

I watched my dad when he planted the fields, and when he got to the end of the row and still had seed left in the hopper (bag) he scooped up the remaining seed that had not been planted and just scattered it down the row. We never left the field with seed in the bag.

I learned something on the farm that I did not even realize I was learning at the time. And that is we never had any control over the seed. Dad bought the best seed he could and we planted it, fertilized it, kept the weeds (tares) out of the fields, watered it, and hoped that the weather cooperated and that we would get a good crop. We would protect the plants, tried to keep the insects off of them, and we nurtured the plants as best as any farmer could and then we picked whatever crop was yielded. Some years we would get a great crop. More food than we could hardly deal with. Other times we would not get such a bumper crop and I would wonder why we even planted anything at all.

Another thing that I learned was that farming is hard work. And I definitely knew that at the time. The more you planted almost assuredly translated into the more you had to pick. And the more you had to pick, the more you had to help mom can. We had to shuck the corn, clean the beans, and cut the roots and stems off the turnips, potatoes, and pumpkins. Farming was hard work. And the bigger the crop, the more work there was.

But the one constant from year to year, season to season, was that we were going to plant seed. Dad never bought seed just to have it remain in the seed bags in the barn. Our seed was for planting. Whether it got planted in the rich soil of the field or whether it got planted in the bad soil at the edge of the field, all seed was going to be planted if dad had his way about it. We hoped every seed planted was going to grow into a huge healthy plant, and we tried to control the few things we could control in planting and watering the seed, but regardless the outcome, we planted the seed.

Too many people when considering the parable Jesus told focus on where the seed fell, or how the seed grew, or the crops it produced. All of the things the sower had little control over. And not enough of us focus on the one thing the sower had complete control over, sowing the seed.

Some of us think we would like to plant a huge bumper crop like some vast country field. We never realize just how much work that is and we complain because God hasn’t entrusted a huge multi-acre field to plant in. And so we hold onto our seed and wait for God to provide us a field worthy of us planting in.

God hasn’t given every one of us a large multi-thousand acre farm to plant. Some of us have just been entrusted a garden. Others of us have only been entrusted a few pots in the kitchen window. But the one thing I am sure of is we all have seed to plant.

I have to imagine that there are Missionaries in the world today looking at the Christian family of God and are just wondering why don’t we just plant our seed?

How about you? If you are a Christian, what are you doing with the Gospel seed you’ve been entrust with? Are you planting it? Or are you just leaving it in the seed bag from one planting season to the next?

I can think of few things sadder than standing before the Throne of a Holy God and having him ask you “Why is your seed bag full?” My prayer for you today is that you would plant the Gospel seed you have been entrusted with. In whatever field you have been given. Don’t wait until you stand before God with a full bag of unplanted seed. Go plant the seed today.

What is your cause?

Pastor’s are not supposed to have a “cause” other than preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I was always taught that you preach TO the people not AT the people. Unfortunately, even preaching TO the people (or just being a prophet in your own time) is more often than not interpreted as preaching AT the people. But fortunately we have the Holy Spirit and it is between you and him as to what you do with the Holy Word of God. My calling is simply to expound on the Word of God and leave the rest up to him (and of course you – of which I am included). The Word of God is the Word of God and it stands for all of eternity. I’ve actually had people come up to me in the past and say “give us a word from God”. As if people cannot get their own word from God. It doesn’t exactly work that way. God gives a word (wisdom) to those whom he chooses. Even with the prophets of old (Biblical times) God rarely gave a personal word for an individual to a prophet (unless it was to another prophet).

And don’t believe for a minute that I do not believe in preaching Hell Fire and Brimstone. I do. People need to understand that there is a great destiny in life. And you can either spend that destiny in Heaven or in Hell. But it is not my place to preach AT the people. Even Jesus Christ himself made it clear that God sent his Son into the world to save the world not to condemn the world (John 3:17). Which is why I try to be careful not to care about your sin, but only to point out that there is sin and that I am included. Indeed, I am chief amongst sinners.

But I must confess that indeed I do have a cause. I’m only human (which is just a fact not an excuse) and there are a couple of things that raise my ire more than anything else. And the biggest cause that gets under my skin is ABORTION.

I just do not accept that abortion is a woman’s right to choose. It is not their right to do with their body as they see fit. That fetus is a human life. It is not some forming mass of tissue. It is a life formed by a Holy and Righteous God that has all power and authority over life and death. And the reason we (humanity) fall into this trap is because of my second top cause – the lie of evolution. The lie of evolution has tried to teach us that there is no God and that everything we see and experience is just happenstance without any Devine providence or guidance. And I’m sorry, but that is just a lie. I believe possibly the biggest lie ever told. The lie of evolution allows us to believe that God does not form a life in the womb and that a woman has a choice over her body and the life that it contains. Which simply is not true and I’m sorry, if you believe that a woman has a right to choose you are just wrong.

Abortion is murder. It doesn’t matter what any of us believe. The simple truth (and it is simple) is that there is a God and he does hold all power and authority over all of human life. And when we unjustly take a life, including through abortion, it is by definition murder.

And this bothers me greatly. US President Ronald Regan said that if you could not state for certain when human life begins (and I can, it begins when a Holy and Righteous God forms it in the womb. On day one.) then we owed them the benefit of the doubt. And we should give this cause the respect that it is due. None of us can definitely prove when human life begins. Neither science nor religion nor philosophy can definitively prove the start of human life. Science struggles with the conundrum of human life and denial of God. They can’t explain the miracle of life to begin with let alone Define the exact start of it. Religion obviously defaults to a God creating that life and has no choice but to accept the moment of conception as the definitive start of that human life. Philosophy tries to find a happy medium that fails on both fronts. On all fronts humanity has no choice but to accept human life beginning at conception. And by not doing so we allow for the murder of hundreds of millions of unborn babies worldwide every year.

Rush Limbaugh wrote that his problem with abortion is that it cheapens human life. And this is an excellent argument. Abortion takes a human life created by a Holy God and formed in his perfect image and reduces it to an inconsequential event of less than the miracle it truly is. And this is having severe consequences on our societies worldwide. It is tearing our world apart.

However my reason for carrying abortion as my cause is that it brings evil incarnate into our world. If a Holy God is the author of life, then the undeniable enemy of life is none other than Satan. Life is the gift of God and that makes Satan it’s number one enemy. Satan is the antithesis of life and his hatred would have him destroy it at all cost. And abortion is a huge lie that allows him to further his cause.

And if I’m not being plain spoken here, let me just state that the people that participate in this industry are godless, evil people driven by the forces of darkness to include Satan himself.

And if you think I’m being overly dramatic here, may I bring your attention to this story that recently emerged in the news. An abortion (so called) doctor (the irony of referring to these individuals as medical professionals makes my blood boil) for years stacked up human remains at his home and he wasn’t found out until his death. If this isn’t an atrocity on a par with the actions of the Nazis during WWII, I don’t know what you could use to make an argument for what is.

Planned Parenthood and the (once again so called) doctors that practice under their umbrella are the agents of Satan and they represent evil manifested in our world. An abortionist who collected over 2,000 human remains and kept them at his personal residence is sick, evil, and disturbing on all levels. As an ambassador of Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry this doctor shows us to what depths of human depravity we’ve allowed to grip the world. It is horrifying to realize that we have come to accept this culture in our societies and the world.

Obviously my desire is that your cause would be that all would be saved and come to know Jesus Christ as Lord of their life. But if there were one (or two) causes that you had to take up, how about carefully considering the lies of abortion and evolution? I truly believe that if anything could make a dramatic change on our societies and bring the world closer to a Holy God, it would have to be honestly and ethically dealing with the lies of abortion and evolution. With the evil that abortion manifests in the world (as demonstrated by this recent story) I pray you would join me in my cause (and that you would forgive me for having a cause).

Do You take Jesus with you?

I’d like to address Theists today. Specifically those theists that identify as Judeo-Christian. And the question I’d like to ask is “Do you take Jesus with you everywhere you go?”

OK. Not really, I would not ask such a question. I’ll explain that in a minute. More to the point, what I’d like to discuss is people who actually do ask that question.

If you’ve never been asked the question, stick around long enough and you probably will be. it usually occurs in situations like the following:

You are having a conversation with a friend and you tell them about how the night before you had gone out to some event, usually an event of which your friend disapproves. It could have been a movie (perhaps a secular R rated movie), or maybe a rock concert, or perhaps you went to a party where there was (Oh No!) alcohol. Or perhaps it was none of these. Perhaps you just went to Disney World but you happened to go on the Sabbath (Sunday for a lot of us). But when you tell your friend about your experience you immediately get the question: “Did you take Jesus with you?” (to this event or place).

My answer is always: “Why Yes. Yes I did”. Which usually leaves my friend somewhat taken aback. I’m always left wondering does my friend ever stop and think about what they are truly saying or does their own world view just cloud their understanding?

I am not a fan of this question for several reasons. Primarily it smacks of self righteousness. As if your friend would imply that they would never have taken Jesus to the place you’ve just described. In some instances I’ve even been asked the question with a holier-than-thou air as if to say “You sinner. How dare you take Jesus to such an unholy place”.

However, I always like to assume noble intent (even if I don’t succeed) so let’s suppose that your friend is asking the question in order to get you to think about where you have just taken Jesus. OK. Well my question is “Why do you care?” I never question where you take Jesus. Its not really any of my business. And quite frankly, where you take Jesus is between you and Jesus, not between you and me, In other words, when I am asked this question, my friend is more concerned about me than they are about themselves. And I have enough to worry about with just myself than to be worried about everyone else.

But there is a second reason I’m no fan of this question. Its not Biblical. First of all it is not up to me to either take Jesus somewhere or leave him at home. Jesus says He is with us. Not that we are with Him. Jesus knows that if it were up to us we would all too often go off on our own and leave Him behind. So Jesus made us the promise that He would be with us always. No matter what or where. And secondly, what does my friend think they are protecting Jesus from? Is there any sin that I already have not been forgiven of that I can expose Jesus to? Obviously the answer is No. Jesus himself was accused by the religious leaders of the day of consorting with sinners. They charged him of being with sinners (you can see the self righteous attitude in their accusation). So Jesus himself took himself to where the sinners were. And I for one, am quite grateful he did. Because had he not, I would never have been found. You find lost sheep by leaving the fold and going into the wilderness to search for them. Not by keeping the Shepherd in the fold with all of the found sheep all of the time. You cannot possibly take Jesus anywhere He hasn’t been before or expose Him to any new depths of the depravity of mankind He is not already fully aware of. And thus from a purely biblical point of view why are you even asking the question?

But thirdly I am no fan of this question because it presupposes the asker has some greater knowledge or morality that indeed they do not possesses.

There was a lady in the Church I grew up in. She was a single mom and she visited a bar down the street from her home every week. She literally went to this bar every week for multiple years. And rumors began to spread about her actions in the Church. One Sunday the Pastor called her out and told a story about how she had been going to the same bar on the same day of the week at the same time for well over a year. He told of how her routine was always the same. She would go to the bar and always sit in the same place. She would always purchase a coke. And she would spend the time in the bar praying for the place and the people in it. She would take her Bible with her and she would witness as opportunity allowed to whomever would listen. He also told of the persecution she had undergone. How the owner/bar tender had asked her to leave. How she had the police called on her. How the bar patrons had ridiculed and despised her. And yet she persevered. And eventually over time she won hearts and minds. She began to be loved even as she loved and the regulars at the bar began to respect her and to welcome her. All because she was brave enough to take Jesus with her to a bar.

That lady was a missionary to that bar. And I’m sure all of my friends who have ever asked the question “Did you take Jesus with you to the bar?” would never suggest that missionaries not take Jesus to a lost and dying world. Surely we wouldn’t suggest that missionaries leave Jesus at home when they go to the depths of the mission field. So why would we leave Jesus at home when we go out into the world?

So my question to you today isn’t whether you took Jesus with you or where you took Jesus to. My question to you is “Is the Jesus in you the only Jesus that someone who needs Jesus got to see today?”

Perhaps if we were all a little less concerned about where the rest of us are taking Jesus to and more concerned with showing Jesus to those in need, a lost and dying world would get a little more of a glimpse of Jesus and have their lives changed because of it. So go ahead, take Jesus into the world. It’s better than hiding the light of Jesus in some holier-than-thou sanctuary you’ve created for yourself and are trying to force everyone else into.

What To “Be”

Romans 12:12 (NIV)

12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

The scripture is so good at targeting areas in our life, enabling us to accurately evaluate how we are doing and how we can improve.

Romans 12:12 tells us  three things we should “BE”.  There is a dynamic in them.  That is, the degree to which we improve in one, the others are facilitated and thus we improve practically and incrementally in the other two.

Joy is an essential God-breathed virtue birthed by hope, the certainty that we have about our day and future because He has promised to take care of us, even when everything in our world is saying otherwise.

Patience is “supplied” by hope and joy.   As we go through life, we can find our energies running low, waiting for Our Father to intervene.  The Psalmist in his weariness asks God, “How long, O LORD?”  Another place he says, “Hear my cry…don’t delay….”  Or, I would say it this way, “LORD, could you hurry a little?  These times we are tempted to wander off the path, looking for another “source”, when there is only One.   Isaiah reminds us that those who wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength…they shall run and not be weary, walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31  He is always our first choice for every need, Who “commands our strength”, making endurance / patience possible in us.

Faithfulness is the attribute of staying true and not quitting, no matter what.  This is especially critical in our prayer lives.  Luke 18, Jesus tells a few stories for his disciples to hear so that they might “always pray and not faint (give up).”

These three virtues, we should have, and “excel still more” in.  And it seems the “dynamic” works like this: joy is the “soil” for patience to emerge and grow; patience the soil for faithfulness; as our faithfulness grows, so goes our joy, and so on, perpetually.

How do we measure up to this three-question test?  Be honest with Him…He knows us through and through.  Acknowledge where you struggle and cry out for His help…and HE will!

Psalm 86:16  (NASB)
Turn to me, and be gracious to me;
Oh grant Your strength to Your servant,
And save the son of Your handmaid.
17
Show me a sign for good…,
Because You, O Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

Psalm 25  (KJV)
25 Unto Thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
2 O my God, I trust in Thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me.

Part 2 of this study will explore more about “how to” give way and let these virtues flourish.  The answer is in Romans 12:1, 2.

Let Him prove Himself, and you will find these qualities yours and increasing; your life will be as He intends.  He will get His glory, and you will know the fulfillment for which HE created you.

Oh, to excel still more, I am,

Mitch

Who Are You?

We all want to be somebody.  And we all want to be somebody special.  We want to be somebody unique.  We all want to know that we are the most unique human on the planet.  Beyond our fingerprints, beyond our DNA, beyond our talents and our personalities, we want to be unique.  And we want others to know just how unique we really are.

So Who are you?  Are you an American?  Are you Asian?  Are you Indian?  Or Middle Eastern?  Are you African or from the Himalayan Mountains?  Are you rich or poor?  Gay or straight?  Are you a transsexual?  Do you want to be everything or nothing at all?  Here in the United States we might ask if you are a Conservative or Liberal.  Are you adventurous or timid?  Are you a doctor or a lawyer?  Are you an artist or an engineer?  Are you a rock star or a country music star?  Or perhaps a little of both?  Do you have tattoos or piercings?  Do you color your hair or shave your head?  What is it that makes you, well … you?

We all want to be somebody.  And we all want to be somebody special.  So who do you want to be and how do you want to be that person?  And to what lengths will you go to be that person?

It has occured to me that given our three base world views, the vanity found in who we want to be takes on a different meaning and significance.  By that I mean we should consider the impact and worth of our desires to be special through the lens of our world view.

If your base world view is Atheistic, then you are clearly trying to be whatever person you are for yourself and noone else.  After all, what does it really matter?  Given enough time you will be forgotten and any small impact you may have made on the cosmos will have been so insignificant that it wouldn’t even be distinguishable within the annals of time.  There is no higher purpose, no afterlife, no worth, no rhyme or reason.  For the Atheist we are all just one great big cosmic accident and whatever you can grab in the here and now is the sum total of significance you can apply to life.

If your base world view is Agnostic, then I’m not really sure why you care.  For the Agnostic, the true Agnostic, one wouldn’t care how special or unique someone else is; so why should we care how unique you are?  An Agnostic trying to stand out in a crowd has got to be one of the most confunding things you would ever come across.  The Agnostic is supposedly indifferent.  Uncaring and just wanting to be left alone.  The Agnostic could either be special or not.  As long as they are happy and they aren’t bothering you, you shouldn’t bother them.  So for the Agnostic world view, why even try to be unique or special at all?  None of the rest of us really care.  Any more than you care about how special we are.

But if you are Theistic in your world view, then your uniqueness or specialness takes on an entirely different prespective.  A Theist will claim to be created, and that they are made them special.  I’ve heard a lot of people make this claim; “Well that’s just who I am.” or “Well that’s just the way God made me.”.  When in reality, they are just doing what they want to do and God probably has nothing to do with it.  At least the Theist understands (or should understand) that they are a uniquely created being even before they strike off on their own to prove to the world just how special and unique they really are.

For the Christian though, who you are should take on a slightly differnt perspective.  When talking about who they are, most Christians will use words and phrases like: “Saved”, “Redeemed of the Lord”, “A soldier in God’s Army”, “Of the Family of God”, “Saint”, “Sinner saved by Grace”, and “Joint heirs with Jesus”.  When describing who they are, most Christians will describe themselves as “who they are IN CHRIST” first and who “they used to be” secondly.

Let me preface what I am about to say with I think knowing who you are IN CHRIST is vitally important.  There is nothing wrong with knowing who you are IN CHRIST and you should strive to understand the new position in all of time and creation that he has afforded you.  However, what is interesting to me is that we know more about who WE are in Christ than we do about who CHRIST is in us.  There is a subtle distinction here.  And that is where the preimminence is placed.  Knowing who we are in Christ is all about US first.  It is all about me.  Knowing who Christ is in us is all about Him first.  It is all about the Lord Jesus Christ, and actually nothing about us at all.

When I consider all of who Christ is, I am simply amazed by His Glory and His Splendor and His Wonder.  Sure, I can tell you all that Christ has done for me.  The many times he has watched over my life and carried me through the fire.  But we have the Gospels.  We have the Old and the New Testaments.  They speak for what God has done in an indivdiduals life.  You don’t really need mine.  What I really want you to know is “WHO CHRIST IS”.  And I want you to know that I can sincerely and honestly tell you WHO CHRIST IS because I know who Christ is in me.  And that is much, much more important than who I am in Christ.

My desire today is that I would decrease and that He would increase.  And that means it is not all about me but it is ALL about Him.  I don’t need to be special or unique, but I do need to tell you how Special and Unique God is.  And I can tell you He is Special and Unique IN me.

Our Strength

Psalm 68:18-20, 28, 35 (NASB)
19  Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden,
The God who is our salvation.  Selah.
20  God is to us a God of deliverances;
And to God the Lord belong escapes from death.

28  Your God has commanded your strength;
Show Yourself strong, O God, who have acted on our behalf.
35  O God, You are awesome from Your sanctuary.
The God of Israel Himself gives strength and power to the people.
Blessed be God!

I continually find that life is much bigger than I am.  I can find myself overwhelmed by the concerns and demands that can come.  It is to easy to linger in the context of fear, doubt and weariness.

I always am reminded and find comfort in the Truth (His Word)that God, my Heavenly Father is with me, for me, and most importantly in me, to work around me, always being my best Solution for every deficiency I have; every need I have.

There is much comfort in knowing HE is always there and I can never ask for too much or too often.

 Psalm 71:3  Be to me a rock of habitation to which I may continually come;
You have given commandment to save me,
For You are my rock and my fortress.

Insert your needs and concerns into these unfailing Words from God, and find the supply, wisdom, help and peace He always gives.

“The God of all comfort” is near,

Mitch

The Greatest Teacher

Psalm 119:33 (NASB)
33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes,
And I shall observe it to the end.

The most transformational, defining moments of my life have been when the LORD has reached down, enlightened and taught me.  All the great teachers I’ve been privileged to hear, and my best times of study and seeking don’t compare.  Those defining times with Him have always been the most memorable and they’ve moved me forward in His purposes in and around me.

The Psalmist most notably cries out for God’s personal, private instruction as the life changing impetus he needs to keep moving godward.

Psalm 119:17-18 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Gimel.
17
Deal bountifully with Your servant,
That I may live and keep Your word.
18
Open my eyes, that I may behold
Wonderful things from Your law.

Psalm 119:33-34 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
He.
33
Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes,
And I shall observe it to the end.
34
Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law
And keep it with all my heart.

Psalm 119:65-68 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Teth.
65
You have dealt well with Your servant,
O Lord, according to Your word.
66
Teach me good discernment and knowledge,
For I believe in Your commandments.
67
Before I was afflicted I went astray,
But now I keep Your word.
68
You are good and do good;
Teach me Your statutes.

Thomas a’ Kempis, in his noted work “The Imitation of Christ” writes: “Oh Lord, with the Prophet Samuel I humbly and earnestly beg, ‘Speak Lord, for your servant listens….’  I am your servant; grant me understanding that I may know your testimonies…Incline my heart to Your words.  Lord, who inspires and enlightens the Prophets, let not Moses or any of the Prophets speak to me but rather YOU speak.  YOU alone can instruct me without their aid, but without You, they can do nothing.

The Prophets can preach the word, but they cannot bestow the Spirit.  They speak most eloquently, but if You are silent, they cannot fire the heart.  They instruct in letter, but You open the understanding.  They set forth mysteries, but You reveal the meaning of all secrets.  They teach Your commandments, but You help us observe them.  They point the way, but You grant us strength to follow it.  Their action is external; You instruct and enlighten the heart.  They water… but You make fruitful.  They proclaim…but You impart understanding to the mind.

Therefore, let not Moses speak to me, (or any other) but You, oh Lord my God, the Everlasting Truth, lest I die and bear no fruit if I am warned in word, and not kindled in heart; lest it turn to my condemnation, if I hear Your word, but not obey it;  know it, but do not love it; believe it but do not keep it….  YOU have the words of eternal life.  Speak to me, comfort my soul: order my life to YOUR praise, glory and eternal honor.”

May HE indeed increasingly grant us all of His Spirit, Who has promised to personally “guide us into all Truth“…for His words are truth indeed.

Amazed,

Mitch

The discussions that matter.

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