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!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Escape



What’s the hardest part about being a follower of Christ?
I would contend that it’s the troubles; the suffering and hard things that we go through.
We know we’ve been redeemed but the pull to act out according to our old man is still very real. Of course, now that our eyes have been opened, we’re grateful that bad choices become more apparent that they are, bad choices. Unfortunately, that fact doesn’t stop the constant barrage of the old flesh's suggestions to the contrary. In response, we grow in our strength – not just to resist, but to acknowledge our faith in God who has better intentions for us.

This thinking about the struggles of the Christian faith drove me to consider long and hard about two words: Escape and Refuge.

Most times, we want escape – total removal from even the perception of harm or danger. God hardly ever provides this option for us.

How can He?
Everything about sanctification is growth. Growing stronger beyond old cravings. Growing more resolute in a God who fights our battles. How can you know that God fights your battles if you’re so far removed from it that you can’t perceive Him working it out?     Exactly.
Faith grows on the battlefield, not the meadow.
To make us like Christ, we face temptations like He Did. We disarm and tear down offenders the way He did, by rightfully handling the Word of Truth, so we study. We’re brought to and through situations and circumstances where our progression is lived out, being evident to us and those who seek to prove(or refute) our credibility.

Here’s The Word:

2 Peter 2:20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.

It’s a worthwhile study to focus on these two words. When you see that they’re different, it clarifies how we should see things. Spiritually, we’re seen as having ‘escaped’ from the world. Christ is not a temporary refuge when it comes to salvation as if we have to go out and keep fighting to be saved, although He is a refuge for His believers….you see where that’s different. The Father sees Christ and we’re hidden IN Him, but our day to day still plays out in the midst of tribulation….faith building tribulation. A fight that the Father knows and provides refuge for.

As the Wonderful Father that God is to His children, He is a refuge. Refuge is a respite – an interval of relief. Our job is to keep things in their proper context and know the path we’re on.
If we’re not trying to realize our growth, we’ll try to see refuge as escape. We’ll rejoice and unload our burdens as if our individual struggles are won and done. Not so. This is just to gather your composure, re-orient your direction to Truth, let God wipe a tear or two and resolve to jump back into the fight reinvigorated.

Here’s The Word:

Nahum 1:7 The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.

Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

See how closely related refuge is to the fight for our Christ-likeness. Take the time to feed on The Word, but also to become more intimate with it’s Speaker. Don’t expect that a blessed life as to be a trouble free life. That’s not how it works, but put it to the test. Live for Christ and amidst the trials, seek Him as a temporary respite. A refuge. Let Him give you times of refreshing that prepare you to get back to the grind, knowing that eventually, all of us called according to His Name and purpose – will ultimately escape this old world.


In Him,
Cros

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

First



Is Christ just first,
Or does HE have preeminence?
Allow me your attention,
I’ll explain the significance.

If you see Him as first,
He’s a simple priority,
But if He’s preeminent
Then He’s also The Authority.

Some people watch their mouths,
Yet they slip on occasion
They’re trying to DO right,
But not LIVE under the Persuasion.

Christ is not religion...
Read your Bible, sometimes pray.
He’s the deeper motivation
For every moment of everyday.

He’s the reason why I’m silent.
He’s the reason why I talk.
I consider that He’s watching,
So I watch the way I walk.

No matter how complex things get,
And despite the Devil’s tricks.
I cast my cares and keep in mind
It’s me He’s trying to fix.

I never cast my Christ aside
When someone crosses me.
His loss, my gain. For me He died
And suffered at Calvary.

Every thought, therefore held captive
In obedience to my Savior.
So He’s not just a cross around my neck
He’s the crux of my behavior.

I know without Him, I'm not just dead,
I'm an enemy on the offence.
Nothing I can offer, except submission.
Nothing else makes sense.

So there’s nothing after, nothing before.
No alternate persuasion.
It’s Christ alone. Christ is all,
In every situation.

This type of view may seem unbalanced,
Yet, this is why our faith is athirst.
Priorities can sometimes push Him aside
If He’s not preeminent, just first.

Here's The Word:

Colossians 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

In Him,
Cros

Monday, October 09, 2017

Unite



Seems we're in a time where so many things are splintering. Yet, just as there is so much division-driven commentary, there's also determined solidarity. The voice of Peace and Unity is loud and strong...but it is right?

What?
The Bible does talk about how good and pleasant it is for the 'brethren' to dwell together in unity (Psalms 133:1)
However, my question is this: Is it possible to be unified, and still wrong?

Here's another one of those moments where I think our perceptions need to be challenged. Through no malicious intent of our own, biblical accounts produce pictures in our minds that can end up 'shading' the truth.
Think about the story of the tower of Babel:
Genesis 11:4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
If you've seen John Huston's "The Bible" with Stephen Boyd as Nimrod, it's probably easier to see these people as ugly, scowling and therefore evil, defiant and antagonistic towards God, but what if they didn't look like that at all? What if they were pleasant, giving and a peace-loving people?
    It's important to see the downside of inadvertently encapsulating ideas with imagery - it moves things far from us. Far from the likelihood that these people were a lot like us with many of the same tendencies.

Our "instant" world draws lines quickly. Something provocative is said and seconds later, it's gone viral and garners just as many advocates as the number of people it offends and ostracizes. It's also not uncommon for a "Christian" voice to try and biblically support either side presented by the issue.

However, my question is this: Who is on The Lord's side?

Here's The Word:

Exodus 32:26
Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD'S side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.

In this situation, you would think that EVERYONE would just stop what they're doing and give ear to Moses. Nope, just the Levites.
The people believed Moses had probably died while talking to God. Aaron helped in their wishes to 'produce' another god which they all contributed their gold jewelry to create. Moses shows up with the first set of stone tablets fresh from the Hand of God, sees the worship service in progress and loses it! He smashes the tablets AND their golden calf god.
Then, after the sons of Levi joined with Moses, they took up swords and killed 3000 of their fellow Israelites.

The next day, Moses went to apologize. Not to the Israelites, but to God to atone for the sin of Idolatry committed by the people.

See where this is going? You can absolutely have the most people siding with you, doing what you think is right and be absolutely WRONG in the eyes of God. Why? because there are things that God hates and no amount of unity will change that.

Proverbs 6:16-19 These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

Psalm 11:5 The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked, And the one who loves violence His soul hates.

The thing that trips us up is our expectation of evil. We expect evil to look the part but Biblically, it seems that evil is better at masquerading itself, than our ability to detect it. So many are going against God's statutes, fighting hate with hate, returning evil for evil. It's time to be careful about the things we get caught up in; The band-wagon jumping and blindly following the crowd you're used to. We need to ask the important questions: What saith The Lord? The assumptions are prevalent on both (or all) sides that "God agrees with us"...but does He? Unity is wonderful, but NEVER at the cost of idolatry. Peace is a worth-while endeavor, but NOT at the cost of turning a blind-eye to sin. There's even an ecumenical movement gaining momentum trying to navigate social issues but are they "Godly" issues. Are we honoring God with our lips without realizing how far our hearts are from Him? (Matthew 15:8-9)

Psalm 139:21 Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?

Things are so splintered and polarized that I'm sure the only thing that will bring peace is The Prince of Peace Himself. However, until that day, let's keep our eyes open and prayers to Heaven that we would have wisdom in these times. It may be possible that there is no truly, RIGHT side to choose. In that case, for Christians, our marching orders haven't changed: Preach the word, in and out of season. Watch, endure and do the work (2 Timothy 4).

Micah 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

Choose that, and no matter what the masses are doing, even if they hate you - You've united yourself to the right side!

In Him,
Cros

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Men From Mars



I have to try and keep myself in check. And really what that means is that I have to deny letting myself "seek" and go after fruitless things. Even in the selection for this week's picture & title: I like pictures that are thought-provoking and titles that are a play on words but not overly obtuse or far-reaching. I have to remind myself that the purpose of this is not to show myself as clever, but to present Scripture in all of it's Illuminating splendor.

It's a common motivation that exists in all of us....not just men. We absolutely resist attempts to belittle us (without probable cause) and some have inner-working "somethings" that push us to promote ourselves when opportunities arise.

This is the age old issue we see when Paul delivers his sermon at Mars' Hill

Here's The Word:

Acts 17:18 - 21 Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection. And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean. (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)

I imagine that philosophy hasn't changed much over these many, many years. That promotion of intellect and wisdom to the degree that you "understand" how it all works. Seeing the connections between nature, nurture, propensities and how desires dictate action. These men exalted themselves and found their status in intellectual aptitude. They established their social circle "cliques" based on the presentation of provocative topics.

Right now I'm at a "techy" conference in San Francisco and if you ever wanted to hear high-level pontificating - listen to computer specialists talk shop. Also, it's been almost 2 days since a gunman opened fire with automatic weapons on a crowd of outdoor concert goers, killing 59 so far. All of the news channels are all ablaze with interviews and speculations about "What did you do?" or "How could this happen?". The President has just landed in Puerto Rico to survey and influence the recovery effort since the devastating impact of hurricanes Irma and Maria. Talk about the immediate future and political sway of what's going on is center stage. Life is crowding the stage with more "Look here" events than we've seen in a while.

Remember, where I am right now is like many other major cities - there are really two cities. San Francisco has an alarmingly high and in your face homeless situation. It's a stark contrast to a tech conference attended by IT professionals where the sessions and venues are obviously high dollar. It's hard to understand how such affluence can exists alongside such desperation. People walk by the destitute intentionally oblivious to their plight. I know, it's hard to look at. However, with all of the issues that are promoting themselves as important, these people don't make the cut. But what is affluence? What is desperation? God gauges richness by righteousness, not prosperity or intellect. Paul probably saw these men as impoverished as any homeless beggar as they were spiritually empty.

That's why we have to check ourselves. We have to wake up each day and reaffirm what's important. In the midst of the all of these philosophical considerations, Paul directs their, and our attention to the fact that their "UNKNOWN" God is known. He's real, and He's considerate of all; all life, and breath, and all things (v 25). Furthermore, knowing God is not just an end to a philosophical argument. It's a launching point for action. In Him we live, and move and have our being...not just rationalizing. No one is beyond being served, and even if a person's situation seems beyond our ability to help, we shouldn't let a devaluing of them as a person be the reason that we don't try. God is God of us all.

Act 17:27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:

The Bible tells us to not only look after our own interests, but also the interest of others. This requires us to SEE people in their states and minister to their needs. If all we can do is continually provide for ourselves or polish our own presentation, we're really no different than these men from Mars'.

In Him,
Cros

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Look Deep



There’s a difference between “looking at” and “looking into”.
I can’t even begin to assume that I know of anything that was going through Einstein’s head when he made this statement. However, if I had to guess at it, I can see where some people base their beliefs on what’s superficial about nature rather than what becomes clearer the more you look into it.
Now let’s look at this in the Spiritual.I think Einstein's thoughts convey easily:
“If you look deep into the spiritual, you will understand everything better.”
So many look AT the Bible without looking INTO it.
We pick favorite verses because the sound elevated and wise…on the surface.
We look at God’s word and all too often, we're trying to come up with lists;
Lists of promises
      Lists of rules
          Lists of lists.
We get a good list of Biblical truth and then off we go!
We have our well defined markers that we try and keep our feet in so we do this "right". When we fail, we go back to review and re-memorize the list and try to feel bad enough to avoid those pitfalls, helping us to do better next time.
Our behavior becomes very boxed in and restricted based on the lists.
I wonder how God feels about our superficial boxes...

Here's The Word:

James 1:25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

We teach children to "Do because I said so", but as they grow older, we deal with them in the hopes that a deeper, richer understanding would be their motivation instead of simplistic rule-following. Is that a gift that God has given us? A piece of his heart that anticipates and drives us to maturity that we'd be less robotic and more intimate?

Don't get me wrong, looking at the Book of James the first chapter, it's very clear how important it is to do the right things. But looking more deeply, you see James is talking about doing, as opposed to some sort of spirituality that could be attributed to study only. As if what you know, read or heard is enough....that is not faith at all. Faith must be proved and strengthened IN action, even though salvation is not secured by these 'works'. Salvation is of grace only and understanding that Grace is a deeper matter.

Psalm 36:6 Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O Lord, thou preservest man and beast.

Psalm 64:10 The righteous shall be glad in the Lord, and shall trust in him; and all the upright in heart shall glory.

Psalm 92:5 O Lord, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep.

David is called "A man after God's own heart" but have you ever noticed that there's no one verse that clearly says why that is? I mean you look at David's life and you come away scratching your head - with all the crazy stuff David did, HE's a man after God's heart?
Seems like David's connection with God's heart was something that went deeper than what David did.

I have friends and family that I love dearly. I believe that they sincerely have some desire to live for and please The Lord. Yet, when trouble comes their way and they fall into such a dispassionate state of mind, I wonder. Are they distraught because they believed that God owed them something because they were 'doing it right'? Are they pushed aside emotionally because they were taught early on that God gives us want we want as long as we really want it and we think of Him? I admit that often times, I don't know what to say. I want them to know that the love that God has for you goes FAR beyond stopping bad habits. His love goes far beyond giving us something we really, really want. Of course stopping bad habits are good. They restrict our courage and cause us grief. Also God wants to be much more to us than gift giver. God wants us WAY deeper than that.

When you read your Bible, try to look past the lists. Try looking into the heart of a loving Father.
When you pray, pray not only that you would yield to the Spirit's leading, but that your heart would perceive His heart. Desire it.
When you find yourself trying to DO Christianity, look deeper at what God is trying to do IN you. He's not only trying to make you do things Jesus would do. He's making you the kind of person, with the kind of heart that grieves at the things He grieves at, that would stand against the things He stands against, and that would have a drive to love and serve broken people the way He came to love and serve the broken. These ideas are referenced in His Word easily as much as the other things like 'going to church' or 'not judging people'.

“If you look deep into the spiritual, you will understand everything better.”

Jeremiah 33:3 Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.



In Him,
Cros

Monday, September 18, 2017

Humble



One thing I’ve noticed that I absolutely LOVE about studying The Scriptures is the assumptions it makes about us. For me, it’s one of the main reasons I find God’s Word to be trustworthy: It knows us, deeply. Second Corinthians, chapter 2 opens with Paul continuing his letter to the Church at Corinth and he gets pretty discursive in making his points about sorrow, blame and forgiveness (see for yourself).
In verse 11, he talks about a real danger in misunderstanding the situation: It allows Satan to take advantage, but he concludes with this assumption, “for we are not ignorant of his devices.”

The point is, Satan continually seeks to find a way to disrupt God’s order and stir up confusion among God’s people. (in a group, or internally in our own minds)

In my opinion, the enemy has a deeply effective arrow in his quiver. Comedy.
Well, not simply comedy for comedy sake but humor at any cost of someone’s personhood. Everyone loves to laugh but no one wants to be laughed at. Don’t believe me? Just look at how undesirable it is to sit too close to the stage at a comedy show. Unless you’re really good and confident at defending yourself, being a possible target is an uncomfortable choice.

To be laughed at is to be belittled and we can conclude that as soon as we begin to see something as funny, it’s hard to take it seriously.
We all know the Genesis story of Eve talking to the serpent about what God said. We usually imagine it in a straightforward, serious-toned exchange. But look what happens when we imagine it differently; Imagine Satan, leaning back and slapping his knee (Serpents may have still had knees then) with a loud belly laugh “Is THAT what you think He said?”
See how that changes things?
Now it’s not just about Eve’s struggle for obedience. Now it’s about saving face, and trying to not look dumb or simple-minded. Mainstream Media loves making fun of Christianity and has effectively silenced much of a collective, responsive voice. We're called to contend for and defend the faith but we're not confident because we're not comfortable enough with the little we know. (1 Peter 3 and Jude 3)

The devil knows how careful we are to avoid being laughed at. This is where he takes advantage. This is where he nudges us to promote our pride rather than embrace humility.

If God walked up to you right now and said “I need you to do something.” What would your response be? Many of us think that we would jump at the chance and be like “Yes LORD! Finally, I get to do something for God and It’s gonna be AWESOME!!!”
Yet, if we’re really honest with ourselves, if God walked up to any of us RIGHT NOW, it’d be a near death experience. Scripture knows us and this is what we really see with 2 people; Moses and Isaiah.

Here’s The Word:

Exodus 3:6 Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God. (...and this was just a burning bush)

Isaiah 6:5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”

When God first sought to send Moses to lead the Israelites from Egypt, Moses was not a proud recipient of the news. His first response was “Who am I to do this?” (Exodus 3). Moses also worried about his speech impediment (some believe he had a stuttering problem – Exodus 4:10).
We also see Isaiah’s response before he got to the point where he said “Here am I, send me.” Both of them were humble and their responses validated it.

Remember, humility is not seeing yourself as less, it’s about seeing yourself rightly. The Bible assumes our issue with pride and encourages us to fight against it. "Confess your sins one to another and pray for one another that you may be healed." - James 5:16 ...and as easy it is to say "Nobody's perfect", how hard it is to get personal and confess specifics!
The idea of 'humble pie' is never presented as something desirable. Why? We’re all error-prone mistake makers that should praise God way more than we do, and take credit way less than we do. But when presented with humble pie – we take it as we’ve been heckled and we need to defend ourselves. And some of us think we're good with our humility as long as we can dictate when and how much. Why?
I understand about clearing up confusion, but I know how small I am and I know my shortcomings: Sometimes I get angry too easily, I can be dismissive when I should be compassionate, I overthink and underact; Too many things to list here.
And if I’m not careful of the way Satan seeks to take advantage, my sensitivity about my short-comings, makes me all too ready to defend against someone belittling me. This pride puts me at risk. We often imagine pride as a grandiose display of bravado, it's also expressed when I'm resistant (for fear or otherwise) to embracing God's truth.

So I’m happy to be reminded just how human and imperfect I am. I’m happy to remember that "we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." 2 Corinthians 4:7. I’m happy to embrace humility and remove the stigma associated with humble pie - When the pie is mine to eat, I welcome it.
Not taking myself too seriously or not defending myself when others laugh at me, (even if they're wrong), is a source of strength, not weakness. I extract any validity of their view and use it to help myself become better. I can then be appreciative. I see myself for who and what I really am, and I remain aware of Satan's devices. I don't need to promote myself, God will.

1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

In Him,
Cros

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Good, Better, Blessed


This is about a progression of faith that goes along with our profession of faith. We all start from dark places that actually made some kind of sense to us before Christ started showing us where we fall short. We look back on our shameful days, no longer in grief, but in reflection of the fact that Christ bought us, and He brought us from old, dead things. He's taking us to Life, and that more abundantly.


Good

What good is a kind heart, if Christ is not at its core?
What good is this life, blind to what He has in store?
What good is godliness, detached from any real power?
What good long suffering that gives up after an hour?
What good is a direction without Christ as the destination?
What good is patience that turns out to be procrastination?
What good is the word “love”, without any tangible proof?
What good is information that doesn’t enlighten you to the truth?
What good is 'faith occasionally', which comes and goes like the wind?
What good is having resources, which are never used to help a friend?
What good is encouragement, without really meeting one’s needs?
What good is saying “I belong to Him”, but not following where HE leads?
What good is it, being able to say “I’m blessed and highly favored”?
What good is it to be a witness, yet still a stranger to your neighbor?

Better

What could be better than living proof – it’s better to give than to receive?
What could be better than this resolve: “though not seeing, yet have believed”?
What could be better than unfolding His word, His truth that gives life meaning?
What could be better than beholding His Glory, unable to stop the tears from streaming ?
What could be better than to finally hear “Well done, they faithful servant”?
What could be better than receiving His grace knowing full well you don’t deserve it?
What could be better than letting it all go – strivings for prestige and possessions?
What could be better than the light coming on, when you’ve finally learned the lesson?
What could be better than intimate closeness with God forever and ever?
What could be better than the Son, glorified – all prophecy fulfilled to the letter?
What could be better than pain and suffering gone, never to return anymore?
What could be better than our soul’s rest, cause there’s nothing left to restore?
What could be better than a High view of God, seeking to give Him reverence?
What could be better at life’s final breath – being welcomed into His presence?

Here’s The Word:

Matthew 5:3 - 12

Blessed

Blessed are the poor in spirit: the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
Blessed are they that mourn: they shall be comforted from all their cares.
Blessed are the meek: the whole earth is what they’ll receive.
And those who hunger and thirst to be righteous: God will fulfill that need.
Blessed are the merciful: mercy is what they'll obtain.
Blessed are the pure in heart: It is they who will see God reign.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called God’s heirs.
Blessed are those troubled for righteousness' sake: the kingdom is also theirs.
Blessed are you, when people insult and attack you falsely for Christ’s sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for your reward in Heaven is great.
The prophets before you were treated as such. Eternity is ours for the sharing.
How good, and better and blessed we’ll be when the eternal replaces ‘temporary’.

I was careful, yet creative with 'The Beatitudes' in bringing this together. Take a look and make sure I didn't twist anything.
Just a little something to make you think and rejoice!

In Him,
Cros