Only one adequate plan has ever appeared in the world, and that is the Christian dispensation.
John Jay - First US Supreme Court Chief Justice
Wednesday's Word

Wednesday's Word

Welcome friends, feel free to look around, make comments and whatnot. I'll try and keep this thing updated with interesting pics, stories and other odds & ends. Feel free to criticize, but please share the 'truth in love'. No reason to be purposefully offensive. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Mercy



As each year draws to a close, from Thanksgiving to Christmas, we’re reminded of how important it is to “stay thankful” each day. Count your blessings, seek peace, and resist the commercialism, keeping in mind the truth that these holidays represent. So, in keeping with that “spirit”

Mercy is a term we often hear,
Especially when Christmas time is near.
Peace on earth and mercy mild.
Behold! The wonder of Christ, the Child.

Lord, bring clarity, help us reflect
That we may respond in proper respect.
What is this mercy? I’m at a loss.
What’s mercy for me, came from You at great cost.

Mercy is aware of how far we’ve strayed.
It feels the rejection, which we’ve all displayed.
Mercy has to swallow the urge to repay.
Doesn’t just disappear, doesn’t just go away.

Mercy only applies where wrath would be right.
It restrains punishment, tho not taken as slight.
Somehow the penalty, need be satisfied.
Now we see Jesus, who suffered and died.

A body like ours knowing happiness and joy.
A body like ours, yet Heaven’s little Boy.
A body like ours with every precious breath.
A body like ours to stand in for our death.

A life like ours? No. Perfect, without blame.
A life like ours? No. Free from guilt and shame.
A life like ours? No. For He was the promised Christ.
His life was like no other…the perfect sacrifice.

It was The Father’s pleasure, His plan was to restore.
Let mercy mean much more to us, now and forevermore.
Mercy smiled on us, but on Christ, was turned away.
Mercy, mild – the reason we rejoice on Christmas day.

Here’s The Word:

Hebrews 2:17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

In Him,
Cros

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Hard



How hard is your heart?

If someone simply came out of the blue and asked you “How hard is your heart?” what would you say? I imagine the most common response you’d get would be a thousand different ways to express ‘How dare you!’
This response, of course, really doesn’t answer the question …but then again, maybe it does.
The question is perceived as offensive and/or confrontational so it’s likely to be met with our fight or flight response. Ignore or engage.
Even though it may seem less significant, I believe that our likely response is a good indicator of the state of our hearts.
Allow me to switch gears as I try to make this point. There’s 2 verses in the bible, they’re back to back and they seem to be in conflict with each other:

Here’s The Word:

Proverbs 26:4 – 5 Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.

These verses do well in making a particular point in Scripture; often times we’re looking for “what to do” in order to feel confident that our “righteousness” is making progress. However, righteousness is a heart matter and the right kind of heart sees no contradiction in the Proverbial verses.

Fact of the matter is this: Our hearts are hard. All of them. Sadly a hard heart doesn't mean that you won't be financially successful, or popular, highly intelligent by the world's standards. But Christ is not making you to be better in this world, He's making you better for a better world. And biblically, our hearts play a big part in how we grow. The Bible directs us to "guard your hearts with all diligence, for out of it flow the issues of life". Proverbs 4:23. We tend to avoid the issue of our hard hearts for various reasons that seem to culminate in feelings of shame. A hard heart is not a shameful thing since we all start one. But we can't ignore them. A hard heart directly affects your ability to pursue God and see Him rightly. Also be very careful, realize that a hard heart can also indirectly(unintentionally) affect how others see and pursue Him as well.
So in light of coming face to face with our current heart condition, the most important things are the reception and the response. Too many people try and leap frog over the reception and seek to build a wall of response that masks the hardness. When that wall of human effort begins to crumble, the true, hard heart shows through.
When we handle the first matter rightly, humbly receiving that our hearts are hard indeed, we’re forced to deal with several realities that help us reach the proper response.

    1.     You cannot fix your own heart. It’s irreparable.

Psalm 73:26 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.

Psalm 28:3 Draw me not away with the wicked, and with the workers of iniquity, which speak peace to their neighbours, but mischief is in their hearts.

   2.      Initially, The Manufacturer doesn’t repair. He replaces it with a soft heart that He continually shapes.

Ezekiel 11:19 And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:

   3.     If your hard heart hasn’t been replaced, you can’t trust it.

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Even after receiving Christ, our hearts don’t magically become like His in an instant. Having our hearts replaced is an ongoing matter. A process. As we seek to have our newness progressively revealed in Christ, we can look back to see our growth and we can look ahead to see how much more softening we need. The hard heart is marked by unbelief, and an unbelieving person promotes their own understanding over the truth of The Word.

Now, reflect again on the initial question: How hard is your heart? – Not as hard as it was, hopefully less and less, as God softens my heart, transforming me in the process.

1 Thessalonians 3:13 To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.

2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

2 Thessalonians 3:5 And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.


In Him,
Cros

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Understand, Faith



Everything happens so fast these days. People talk fast and people seem to listen to only half of the message, simply looking for the “go” points. In this, we fail to see the false assumptions that are made in regards to words and their meanings.

There's a popular meme, it says - Faith is trusting God when you don't understand His plan. The associated imagery is always an ominous looking maze. Why? I think it's more scary to walk knowingly, eyes wide on the path that leads to hell. Jesus says "My burden is light. MT 11:30" and although walking the path of righteousness is sure to come with surprises and struggle, its WAY less ominous than the alternative.
Allow me to draw your attention to two words; Understanding and faith.
How would you define “understanding”? Also, in an explanatory way, (not simply restating Hebrews 11:1-2), how would you define “faith? I ask this because sometimes we use them, maybe not interchangeably, but at least in ways that aren’t as illuminating as it could be. Sometimes it’s the difference that makes the difference.

Online dictionary defines understanding as 'to grasp or perceive the intended meaning of (a message)'. So understanding is really only ‘proved’ by what your response to the message, but it’s NOT the message, and it’s not the response. It’s that intangible piece of “grasping” in the middle.

Here’s The Word:

Psalm 119:104 Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.

Psalm 119:169 Let my cry come near before thee, O Lord: give me understanding according to thy word.

Proverbs 4:7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.

Job 28:28 And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.

These verses show HOW we develop the ability to ‘grasp’. It’s noteworthy that Solomon and Job are not from the same time, but the clear line of God’s wisdom runs consistently through them as it does through the whole of Scripture.

Defining faith may be a little tougher: Probably because we believe that we already have a good grasp of it. Belief and trust are the most common words used to define faith, but like understanding, faith is proved by response. So then it’s really not an inability to define (or even grasp) faith, but the applicability of it.

Here’s The Word:

Hebrews 11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

1 Corinthians 2:5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

My point here is that our ability to grasp NEEDS to come from our trust in God. Other candidates will offer some really good alternatives – the wisdom of men, and our own understanding (Prov 6) being two of the main ones. We need to be keenly aware that these 2 have had a remarkable head start. When we came to Christ, of course we were excited and expectant that He would show us new and marvelous things, but even though we get delivered from many “woes”, we rarely take scrutinizing, psychological inventory of our understanding and our worldly developed ability of how we make sense of things.

This inevitably introduces a third term: Wisdom. Wisdom is that thing that ties faith and God-given understanding together. Wisdom without faith produces presumptive arrogance. Faith without wisdom tosses us about with every wind of (false) doctrine. Understanding and faith also have the wonderful ability to reveal the truth of the matter: who we are as redeemed enemies and Who God is as The Sovereign Lover of our souls – that we would never seek to impress men with our faith OR understanding. Only lead them to The Source as proved by our response to His message.

1 Corinthians 13:2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

In Him,
Cros

Monday, November 20, 2017

Word Peace



We used to sing a song - "He's Got the Whole World In His Hands". I wouldn't be surprised today if many of today's artist came together and released a song called "We've Got the Whole World in Our Hands", and I can see it being one of the biggest selling songs of all times...like "We Are The World" was over 30 years ago...hence the picture. It's subtle reminder that as believers, we have to be careful and keenly aware how words get 'redefined'.

I just finished reading about the recent airing of the American Music Awards. It was another opportunity for people to take the podium and reflect on the current state of things even outside of America.
In my opinion, much of the “free” world seems to have adopted certain words as an obvious attempt to unify and draw peaceful commitment to our similar issues. This happens when dark times are analyzed in ways to point their causes as being the insignificant differences that are allowed to become divisive.

However relevant the method is, I find the means to be quite problematic.
When the human collective gives lofty, ideological talks about peace and unity, we're missing one thing: We’re not good and/or powerful enough to bring it to pass. Nothing about "us" can make these words mean anything apart from their true meaning and their true source.

SO as I expose this, it may come across as odd,
As these words have no meaning if not found in God.
Yet, we overestimate ourselves and I think it’s absurd
That we still seek to cling these, what I call “God” words.

Most of what we hear is a desire for peace
Where senseless violence and strivings cease
We admire ourselves, since we’re nobody’s sheep.
But what really is peace without God?

We all want a life that we make for ourselves
Free from displeasure, in pursuit of more wealth
We want to make Heaven here, is there really a hell?
But what really is life without God?

Since we like to believe, we use faith and hope
The idea of a better tomorrow, just helps us cope
Unable to detect the slipperiness of the slope
What really is hope and faith not in God?

We want fairy tale marriages to have and to hold.
Always exciting, never tired or old.
Played like a poker hand, until most of us fold.
But what really is marriage without God?

Love is what we make it, based on what we feel
And who can ever say that it’s wrong, if it’s real
My relationship with God is my own personal deal.
But what really is love apart from God?

We worship by nature, we sing and we shout
Mostly when we're entertained; that’s what we’re about
Eventually, we’ll all bow, confession will fall from each mouth.
What really is worship for, if not the true and living God?

Most words that we use, we assume God agrees.
Even though they are far from what His word decrees.
In humility, we should all fall to our knees.
For lip service, yet hearts far away from God.

There are words that we use, and words pushed aside.
We disregard or discredit, not breaking a stride.
Whether we like them or not, some words still abide.
In the end, this world answers to God.

Ever notice that you don't hear anymore about shame?
What was once done in the dark, has been given new names.
And anyone who's offended, to them be the blame.
Shame and repentance use to drive us to God.

But we hardly say forever, that concept is lost.
We live for the moment, no matter what the cost.
I’ll seize everyday trying to be my own boss.
Since, there is no eternity, and no God.

Here’s The Word:

Romans 8:6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

1 Peter 1:21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God

Revelation 19:7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.

1 John 4:8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

1 John 4:10Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Isaiah 29:13(a) Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me

Psalm 96:9 O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.

Daniel 7:18 But the holy people of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever—yes, for ever and ever.’

One of the difficulties associated with living the Christian life is standing firm when most everyone else has decided to do it differently. Even in Exodus, Aaron the priest under pressure from the masses, help create the golden calf Exodus 32:21.
In our day, so many things have been redefined. So much has been compromised or outright removed from the initial understanding. I pray that the household of faith stand firm and not give in to the compromise. Even if "they" try to redefine us as haters, don't reply with insult. Trust God and let His words remain TRUE in you.

Philippians 3:17-19 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)

In Him,
Cros

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

WOW



Sometimes I get it twisted. I believe that my theology is sound but the problem arises when the subtleness of the world seeps into my presentation. Looks like somewhere along the line, I’ve bought into the idea of “winning” souls. This elevated idea of “winning” inherently takes the power from the information and places it firmly (and solely) in the presentation.
But what does The Bible say? How much does the word of God talk about winning souls? This is how we learn: By holding up everything we think we know to the light of truth.

Do a Bible word search for the word – win. If you search the KJV, you’re likely to come up with about a few references and interestingly enough, one reference in Philippians 3:8 speaks directly to the true objective of winning “Christ”.
Now search for the word “warn”.
I don’t want this to play out as some sort of conspiracy theory, but I also don’t want us to be asleep at the wheel….or asleep TO the Will of Christ. The meaning behind words are changing about as fast as anything else. Of course, our presentation and delivery of The Gospel is to be seasoned with Grace, but this is not a grace intended to soften the reality of the truth. It’s the truth that makes The Gospel the good news that it is.
Seems that in our culture today, warning people is tantamount to threatening them, and crying out for someone's clarity to the gospel is seen as high-minded, patronizing pity. Calling out or exposing sin as an affront to a Holy God is offensive and usually brings immediate responses of ‘fighting words’ – judging, hypocrite, and bigotry.

Almost immediately, there’s a few thousand, hundred thousand or millions (if it goes viral) of onlookers claiming that you obviously don’t know anything about The gentle, tender, all-loving Christ. And in response, we’re put off, put down and walk away feeling like “Am I wrong? - Are they right?” Because of the focus on presentation, we totally disregard (and/or vehemently oppose) the notion that sharing the truth of the Gospel may be offensive. It may make some, even many, downright MAD at us and it doesn’t mean that it’s unchristian, it usually just means that people love their sin and we live in a day where many have found a way to hurl labels in an attempt to protect it from any negative connotation.

Here’s The Word:

Acts 20:31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

Jeremiah 6:10 To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken: behold, the word of the Lord is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it.

Ezekiel 3:18 When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.

Mathew 3:7 But when he (Jesus) saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

I used the last verse to make it clear that The gentle, tender, all-loving Christ could be quite abrupt on occasion…but like I said, the culture is redefining words at a rapid pace.

In closing, we are definitely to be about our witness. Striving for excellence, not of ourselves, but because of Christ who’s worthy and who gives us the strength AND direction to do so. But don’t let fear or sinful retribution be the reason you shrink back from ‘tearfully’ warning people about the wrath to come. The stakes are too high. Paul famously says in 1 Corinthians 9:22 that he’s ‘become all things to all men that by all means, he may save some.’ – this helps us see that we DO have a common starting place with all. We all start in sin, and those who can humbly receive this truth are well on their way to receiving The Remedy, but though all may not be “won”, all should be warned.

Colossians 1:28 (Christ) Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:

In Him,
Cros

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Excellence



Here’s a liberating thought – none of us know it all. We’re not expected to and if we put such high expectations on ourselves, it’s a recipe for a seriously rude awakening...eventually.
So here’s an encouraging thought – We’re all in this together and we can lean on one another. Just make sure that your trajectory is never satisfied with the status quo.
Seek higher, and seek to help others to higher, better, excellence.
In that frame of mind, here’s some quotes that I didn’t write, but I find them to be inspiring to raise the standard; to reassess the trajectory and to inspire to REALLY give God the best of my efforts since He deserves nothing less.

”If you want to achieve excellence, you can get there today. As of this second, quit doing less-than-excellent work.” - Thomas J. Watson

“Mediocrity will never do. You are capable of something better.” ― Gordon B. Hinckley

"The test of the artist does not lie in the will with which he goes to work, but in the excellence of the work he produces." - Thomas Aquinas

"Today, and every day, deliver more than you are getting paid to do. The victory of success will be half won when you learn the secret of putting out more than is expected in all that you do. - Og Mandino

Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” – Aristotle

”If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.” --Colin Powell

”The secret of living a life of excellence is merely a matter of thinking thoughts of excellence. Really, it's a matter of programming our minds with the kind of information that will set us free.” - Charles R. Swindoll

Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence – Vince Lombardi

Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected. – Steve Jobs

“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

Notice these quotes and notice that the people who made them. It’s very likely that none of these people knew each other but the overarching idea of excellence permeates in a way that’s easily understood. If you sat and thought of delivering a quote about excellence – you could, and if you sat and thought about ways to give God your best – you could.
I think that conceptually, this post was the hardest one I’ve attempted in some time. After reading what I wrote initially, I found it to be more pushy than encouraging and although I have an appreciation for that push we all need sometimes, I didn’t feel in my heart that it was the right play. Honestly, I believe that I can speak candidly in saying that my heart’s desire is that we would return and reassume a posture of excellence.

Here’s The Word;

Mark 12:30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

Isaiah 58:2 Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.

1 Corinthians 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

Notice that these men who were moved by the Holy Spirit didn't know each other either. However, they had a high view of God in His magnificence. They yielded themselves under the power of God, allowing Him to produce His most excellent word through them. The same can be true for us in letting His light shine through us.
God, in Christ, reached down to our lowly estate and not only did He free us from the power of sin and death, He called, justified and glorified us, bringing us into inseparable communion with Him. He, in The Spirit, has empowered us to shed the old deadness we were incased in - that we would be able to grow in righteousness and give Him the excellence He so deserves.

In Him,
Cros

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Judge



Ever see someone who claims to be a Christian and almost immediately, everything about their life begs to differ? No reverence, no peace, no joy, no worship...nothing other than occasional “religious speak” that would give any indication of faith whatsoever.

Few words cause dissonance the way the word “Judge” does. In most “Christian” crowds, a conversation about judging usually divides people into one of two camps: Those who are too quick to judge and those who resist it all costs.

Interesting thing is that everybody uses the saying - "Don't judge me." whether they're religious or not. It makes me wonder if we've defined things the way the world does or are they misunderstanding it because of us.

Here's The Word;

1 Corinthians 5:12 - 13(a)For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside

This verse may strike an odd chord because life 'inside' the church doesn't look like it's supposed to. We are called to love each other which assumes a "knowing". We're called to bear one another's burdens which assumes a "knowing". However, it seems that many of us just take our own personal protective bubble everywhere we go...even church. This is not how God intends.

Christians, we have a high calling on our lives. It’s so high that we’re not, in the least, expected to carry it out on our own. We’re given The Holy Spirit to help us understand, and make choices about things that are impossible without Him. We’re called to consider many, many things; our own progression in the faith, love of the brethren, discipleship, gentle restoration of those at fault (who are repentant), guarding the flock and being aware of the tricks of our true enemy, the devil.

Not everyone in church is a Christian, and it is ultimately God who knows whether we’re “GENUINE” or “FAKE” but as the Bible tells us that we are to be able to recognize a tree by its fruit, we have a response to what we encounter.

Our response should look one of two ways; if you encounter a genuine person, you can usually tell but you still investigate for clarity sake. The Bereans knew who Paul was but they still checked the Scriptures to make sure what he said was right.
Matthew 7 has the familiar passage that says "Judge not, lest ye be judged." Less popular is John 7 that says "Judge righteous judgement." Are these verses in conflict? not at all, they're just looking from different angles. Too many people are quick to judge, and do so more harshly using only the surface appearance. Don't be. Look deeply, ask questions, seek truth before you determine what comes next.
If the person shows NO FRUIT of spiritual conversion, it’s still not in your hand to condemn, but you’re also not at a place of privilege to be comfortably negligent in avoiding sin. Galatians tells us to “gently restore” – gentleness being a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5.

I believe that humility is the key, humility on our part to seek grace and the words to help our brothers and sisters. Also we look for grace in our brothers and sisters to receive our sincere pleas for God’s best in their lives. The bible says that God gives grace to the humble. It may not be immediate but if you do express concern with a brother’s walk – they may say “Don’t judge me” but it’s not judgement, it’s the love we’re supposed to show one another in desiring God’s best for each other. If they can’t receive you in gentleness and if they continue in this rejection, the problem is truly theirs, not yours. God resists prideful hearts.

I'll leave you with this sober reflection: The Bible says "Don't be fooled, God is not mocked." Galatians 6:7
Which can also be said as "If you're a mock Christian, God is not fooled.

People assume that Christians are always supposed to sound a certain way. I don't have room enough here to list out the examples where Christians(even Christ) spoke in a manner that we would define as judging and harsh. I'm not advocating harsh speech, but they signify the importance of our mission and we can't just disregard them like they aren't there. That's why we pray for discernment, so you can judge for yourself.


In Him,
Cros