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, April 18, 2018

Will Power



The story is about as old as anything. Your regular, average, everyday Joe comes across an enviable amount of power, giving rise to the typical; swift justice to wrong doers, self-exultation in the face of those who once belittled him and a reckless attempt at controlling the love of the human heart.
Why is this the common way of things? Maybe there really is something so fundamental to the human experience that power tends to discover one particular course like a dry riverbed after heavy rains.
If this is true, I think it’s more likely that there’s a flaw in how we define the meaning in our lives.
We want more, we want to be noticed, loved and not as looked over or pushed around. But is this an accurate assessment of what life really is?

Do you know that today, whether you’re a believer or not, you did things that were written down in heaven?
It’s possible that your life is ‘mattering’ more than you know.

Do you know that every day you have the ability to lift someone’s spirit (or bring them crashing down) with your mere words?
It’s possible that you already have more power than you know what to do with.

Everybody gets done wrong. Every life deals with slights, being lied to, on as well as being taken advantage of. We have a God who sits high and looks low. Nothing about our being belittled makes us smaller in His eyes. We stay focused, praying for those who would take advantage of us, that they would see the light before it’s too late and receive the eternal advantage in Christ.
When aligned rightly, our prayers are so powerful that an Eternal, Sovereign God takes note of them.
It's a misguided application to want to see yourself as a lion if your only desire is to roar at people who make you feel small.
For us as believers, the Bible says that we're more than conquerors. However, this isn't to exert power and our will to punish those who make us feel inferior. It's a clear picture of our confidence in Christ to stand in Truth. To stand against the powers that would drag us back to an old defeatists mentality...to having done all, to stand. (Ephesians 6)

Here’s The Word:

Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Proverbs 15:4 A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.

Maybe you wish you realized more in your life; more potential, more reverence, more effectivity… more stuff.
Are these desires rightly aligned with Life in The Spirit? I don’t think so. It looks more likely that this old story can do nothing but dull the reality of New Life.

So please, dear friend, be encouraged. Be encouraged to wake up tomorrow not only realizing the power already at work in you, but also the potential of it to affect things around you for God’s glory and your good...in that order.
And remember, if you make sense of God’s word as it applies to now and eternity, everyday you’re being tested: He’s seeing what you will do with the amount of power you’re given to show yourself worthy to receive much, much more in the life to come.

Here's The Word;

1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

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.

Revelation 2:26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:


In Him,
Cros

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Approved



Here’s The Word;

2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Often times when we read Scripture, we focus on the big words: Love, forgiveness, patience, suffering and things that identify with our current circumstances. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. It’s a testament to just how loving Our God is that His word meets us as intimately in desperation as it does in rejoicing. However, there are other words that can pass us by quickly and are sometimes hardly ever noticed at all, until we study. The Bible doesn’t direct us to “study to show ourselves intelligent”. It’s WAY more involved than that.

In my line of work, I’ve met some pretty intelligent people. Not the kinds that go around waving flags about the letters associated with their titles (although they do have them). I mean the kinds that are impressive in the way that they can see a complex problem laid out and step through it almost effortlessly to a comprehensively clear solution, and for the most part, these folks have been a joy to work with.

Now on the other hand, have you ever met a smart person who’s a total jerk? Of course, it doesn’t take an intelligence to be a jerk, but when you come across it, it’s a little more painful. They seem to have a knack for weighing on you, being condescending to you for being less intelligent.
There’s a saying “knowledge is power.” I believe that to be 100% accurate. There’s another saying – “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Also, undeniably true. This is not something only expressed in extremes: You don’t have to be all-knowing to be belittling to people, and it may not be for the purpose of making them feel bad. Some people have deep inferiority and for them, they're just trying to either make themselves feel better or just not as bad. But to whatever degree you assume to be smarter than the next person, and you use that leverage to treat them as less, it's wrong, no matter the situation.
In this post, we’re talking about the caution we should exercise when knowledge begins to fuel a smart attitude and makes us not just less approachable, but less Christlike.

The word of the day is "intreat". This is one of those quickly overlooked words used sparsely in the Bible. But I believe it addresses the common tendency to exalt ourselves when we’ve become smarter about things.

Here’s The Word:

James 3:13 – 18 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

1 Corinthians 8:1(b) we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.

As we all are becoming Christlike, we see certain aspects of our character that are easily adjusted, and others that take a more concerted effort. No one likes to deal with that smart person who reeks of arrogance, but that’s an extreme view. It’s not only about trying to be less of a jerk. It’s about being pleasantly approachable. Even if the answer is a hard truth, It’s better received from someone who you feel genuinely cares about you over someone who you feel is judging you as you walk away. We can read and memorize Scripture all day long, but I think that how we deal with people who were once in the same places we were is one of many good gauges to help us realize the meaning of “approved”.


In Him,
Cros

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Hard


Here’s a question: If you’re of the curious sort as I am, feel free to toss this little gem into a few friendly conversations and see what comes back: Is it hard to love somebody?
Of course the short answers are yes and no, but this is hardly the type of question that’s looking for a short answer.

Is it? Is it hard to love somebody? I think most of us lean to a resounding “YES” and those reasons are commonly understood in recognizing the selflessness assumed in the word itself.

Tomorrow is Good Friday and far be it from me to pass up an opportunity to take a closer look at the beauty and magnificence of mercy and grace shed on our behalf; and our appreciation of that sacrifice. I’m not here to disagree with whether or not you lean to one side or the other. This, again, is another one of those times where I'm more interested in how we formulate our understandings and then holding them up to the Light of Scripture.

Here’s The Word:

Ephesians 5:29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:

This may seem like an odd place to start an Easter message. The image of Christ on the cross and the empty tomb are the things we usually see. And honestly, I’m not even promoting the common “exegesis” of this section of Ephesians 5, which is where we usually talk to husbands and wives about their responsibility to each other in marriage. I use this verse because there’s an assumption about love that begins in verse 25 that starts “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;”
Verse 29 digs deeper, clarifying this 'love'. Look at the first part of verse 29 which says “no man hates his own flesh” – this is the implication that everyone, innately “LOVES” themselves.
Of course in this day and age, that’s a much more difficult conversation to have but I believe God over anything contemporary thinking, and I believe it’s still just as true now as it was then.
Scripturally speaking, it looks like the love of self comes “easily”, not hard at all. It’s expressed in the everyday care we give to ourselves. Verse 29 goes onto say that The Lord gives that same kind of everyday care to the church.
I start there because I think that we believe it’s hard to love someone because of how we’ve allowed the definitions and ideas about love to change. I don’t believe that the everyday care I give myself comes at some great cost or personal turmoil to myself. I can even see how desiring good for someone else probably doesn’t HAVE to be as hard as that either. But I do know that feeling of turmoil that’s associated with love – so what is THAT?

Here’s The Word;

Matthew 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

This verse (and others) do a great job at identifying that turmoil. See, when I love myself (even when I haven’t been comparatively “good”), I can still find reason to care for myself. But on the contrary, if someone else hasn’t been particularly ‘good’ to me, I find reason to withhold that same care from them. So it’s not love that’s hard, it’s my fight with a reason TO love that becomes the issue. I withhold my love from others based on ME and my ideas of their deservedness of it… and this makes it hard.

What should I do? Looking at Matthew 5, it’s not hard to see that my gauge for giving love is where I need refinement. Not that love is hard or that I don’t have a basic understanding of what love is. The answer is then not for me to try harder at loving, but lessening myself. Not thinking more highly about myself than I ought(Romans 12:3) and to esteem others higher than I do, even higher than myself (Phil 2:3-4). These verses imply that I don’t have to like someone to provide care. It would make it easier, but it’s not (and shouldn’t be) a requirement. I'd love to delve into a comparative study of like and love, but its totally out of the scope of this post.
So, then what? Is love easy? I’m sure that a full pendulum swing from one side to the other is not the appropriate response. It’s definitely not hard for the reasons I’d imagined or for the reasons that typically stand in my way from being obedient to Christ’s commands. And what about Christ? The Bible draws us all individually into a striving towards Christ and encourages us to be an imitation of Him in regards to love. And ‘When I Survey the Wondrous Cross’ seeing His body hanging there, it again looks like loving is hard.

Here’s The Word:

Romans 5:9 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

Looking at the verse in Romans, two things stand out; God loving and Christ dying. Though the relationship is clear, it’s saying that most of us will never love so hard, as to include (or require) physical death. This idea frames the truly wonderful realization that the love that God showed the world in giving His son to meet our most pertinent need is astronomically higher than anything our love could ever be called on for, but we still strive to embody perfect love. I hope that conversations like these can reshape and reorient our understandings of love to be more in line with truth.

Closing thoughts:

        At a basic level, love doesn’t have to be as hard as we make it out to be. You’re doing it to yourself right now without a whole lot of resistance or turmoil.

        At some higher level, outward love comes at a cost. It comes with the idea of self denying and taken further, dying. The model for husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church clearly says “And gave himself for it” – but it’s not loving that’s hard, it’s dying that’s hard. In dying, we think less highly of ourselves as the justifier of who is deserving. And even that should come a little easier when we realize that while we were at our very worse, Christ loved us to death. None of us deserved His love or His life. Paul says, I die daily (1 Cor 15:31), maybe he was preparing himself each day to love rightly.

      And at the highest level, perfect love is impossible without His Spirit, but if we have Christ, we have His Spirit and He will lead us. He will enable us to overcome the ‘justifying’ and all of the selfish things that hinder us from loving rightly.

In Him,
Cros

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Certainty



When I reflect on my childhood, or childhood in general, it’s quite laughable at how easy fear comes to us as kids. All you have to do is turn off the lights. Even when all you’re really seeing is darkness, your mind starts to see so much more than darkness. God forbid you actually do see something like a jacket hanging from a chair, toys on the dresser, or stuff on the floor with the lights on: Once the lights are out, those things are anything but what they clearly were when the lights were on.

What is this? Most of us would say fear, but I’m not sure I totally agree. Fear is the response to this phenomena but I don’t think that fear is the phenomena itself. I know adults that still have an issue with things like ‘lights out’ that provoke a response of fear.

Here’s what I think the phenomena really is: at its basic level, it’s influence. Influence is benign until it’s followed up by a choice; an action that then gives form and function to the influence.

Here’s why I’ve come to the conclusion I did. I believe that two people, given the same influence, can respond widely different and on the other hand, two people can DO the exact same thing for opposite reasons.

I would venture to say that although they’re opposites, faith and fear are the same “types” of thing; A response to influence. Fear and faith are both responses prompted from varied influences. And speaking of responses, either can be considered ‘dead’ if there’s no action to measure it by. Even if the action looks like inaction, this is not to say that the influence didn't promote a response. You could stand still out of being overwhelmed with fear, or you can stand resolute, knowing that the next move is God’s and His alone. Faithfully.

Fear is a substance, just as faith is, However, as faith is a substance that supports hope, fear is a substance that supports dread. Just as faith is the evidence of things not seen, fear is also. The difference is that the evidence of faith is something desirable, that of fear is not.

This is about provoking you to think. And in thinking, that you would seek to come to resolutions and conclusion on how you perceive the world around you as well as your faith walk. That you would analyze and interrogate your motivations.
This is so you can effectively take captive every thought that would exalt itself against the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:5). I’m not trying to give easy answers as much as I’m encouraging us to strengthen our ability to strive for right thinking. Not just to defeat blatant sin but to identify misdirected thinking and to enrich and enlighten a right understanding.

Fear is to Uncertainty as faith is to Certainty. Don’t mix the two.

When you see the proverbial monster under the bed, the first thing that comes is uncertainty. You’re not certain that there’s a monster, you’re just uncertain that there’s NOT a monster. Just like as some adults after watching a scary movie – the movie hasn’t created a certainty in you that something is about to happen, it’s created an uneasiness, a fear that something uncertain can “likely” happen and cause you harm.

Faith is different. The more that we not just learn about God but really begin to trust Him and start to truly ‘taste and see that The Lord is good.’ This truth begins to command our influence. It’s not that we start to deny that there is uncertainty in the world, but that our certainty is stronger. The overriding certainty is that God CERTAINLY knows our situations and still plans ‘good’ for our lives.

Certainty shouldn’t just be present in an opposing kind of way to uncertainty, but overpowering it in a “Casting down imaginations” kind of way. Even when uncertainty is pulling out all of the stops, trying to shake our faith, we would resolve to “fear no evil.”(Psalm 23) You DO know that God is stronger and His mercy abides forever and that there is nothing that can stand against that.

Here's The Word:

Mark 4:40 And he(Jesus) said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?

Hebrews 11:27 By faith he(Moses) forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing HIM who is invisible.

Everyone always uses Hebrews 11:1, feel free to look it up. I eluded to it earlier, but I didn't use it outright because I think we can become too used to what its meant for us in the past. Not that we don't have a good understanding, but I think that sometimes, having such familiarized ideas makes it harder to stir up new motivations. Faith and fear are both very powerful, but what makes them powerful? As for fear, it derives its power from many things, but none of those things can dare compare to The One Who is the power and promise behind Faith.

In Him,
Cros

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Penthouse View



This is a tough one. Maybe it’s not for you at all, but I feel like I need to write for what Joshua 4 refers to as a stone of remembrance. An altar. This is one of those times where you know…your view has just fundamentally changed.

So in that, I’m not simply trying to convey the usual ideas or encouragements: I’m writing for posterity sake. I need to put it all down while it’s still fresh and raw…emotions and all. I’m so wrecked right now.

I grew up in churches where speculations…or rather, suspicions ran high. If the pastor had a nicer car, of course he was misappropriating funds from people living paycheck to paycheck. Also, it probably should’ve been someone’s job to notify “testifiers” that they'd gone on enough about being blessed and highly favored. Yes, I know how judgmental this sounds. I don’t feel that way anymore, but that’s really how it was when I was much younger. When I think about that reality, it helps me understand why some people perceive God in distorted ways: as if ‘imitating’ God is best expressed in living well and being above it all. Like He’s just up in Heaven looking down. Strutting around heaven in vain magnificence. Looking only to zap people with either blessings or curses.

Then I grew up. At some point, you just get a little older and hopefully wiser. You see where your uninformed opinions fail miserably, and you also see where some thoughts have merit. It’s obvious that some pastors DO misappropriate money to fund extravagant lifestyles. It’s also true that if people are honest, ‘blessed and highly favored’ is a great place to be but we also ALL experience pain and sufferings that should be neither overly sensationalized nor disregarded altogether.

And absolutely, getting those invaluable glimpses of God through unexpected circumstances helps you see that He’s not just leaning against the windows of Heaven, enjoying a penthouse view.

So, enough with the preface, here’s what happened:

I had a thought last week about taking an opportunity to be generous. I remember growing up with very little (monetarily speaking), and I wondered about the kids at my son’s school and the meal program.

So I called. I called the school and talked to the meal program manager and explained what I wanted to do – to identify the kids who had the most need. Not the highest balance, but those in situations of poverty where even if the amount was small, it was unlikely that they had, or would ever have the means to take care of it.
Of course, he was surprised and thankful and all of that. I expected the response but I wasn’t looking to have my ego stroked. I knew at the end of all of this, there would be a small bit of relief for students in desperate situations. Now mind you, I was in a giving spirit and it was well enough for me that I thought I would just write a check and they would figure out how best to disperse the funds – That would’ve been fine, but that’s not how it played out. The program manager, let’s call him Mr. Eric, said that it was best to pay with cash. No problem. So I go to the school expecting to drop off money (instead of a check) and then it starts. He had prepared 3 lists of kids. ALL of them in different situations, but ALL of them owe. My mind is still trying to make this a quick transaction so I’m like “Here’s a list with the total contribution I had in mind, can we just…”

Mr. Eric starts explaining each list. He tells me about kids who received lunch while waiting for their paperwork to be processed and all of that… I’ll spare you each detail. Suffice it to say, this wasn’t going to be quick. Eventually, we get to the idea of the kids with the greatest need and we put checks by their names. The highest balances (over 5 dollars), with the least likely ability to pay.

With modified lists in hand, off we go to the registers. He has to type in the PIN # for each kid to bring up their account. As each account displays, there’s also a picture. Now it’s real. Now it’s hitting my heart. These kids walk these halls each day with these smiling faces…hiding a secret…a debt they can’t pay. My mind is racing, relating what I thought, rather, what I wanted to be “less” significant, into relationships between the practicality of this situation and the predicament that we're all born into: We're ALL born into a spiritual debt…a debt we can’t pay. Yet we hide behind smiles and superficiality trying to not look "needy".
It continues. We decided it would be most helpful to pay the round numbers – the dollar amount and let the kids handle the change themselves. See that? Our debt has truly been paid, but WE have to handle the CHANGE.

Now I’m holding back tears and we’re just getting started. More faces, more names, more paying. Now I see God. NOT enjoying a penthouse view but having such a heart of mercy and generosity to engage Himself at each face and each account…paying each one personally. Not for just one school, but for all humanity for all history.
You'd think that THIS would be enough of an unexpected lesson to rejoice in for the rest of the day, right? Right.

It all comes crashing in when my thoughts go to...My son. My son goes to this school. He walks up and down these halls everyday with THESE kids.
Do they even know him? Are they nice to him? Are they jerks to him?
Too many tears to hold back. It's not disruptive, just a quiet, somber weeping. I put my head down and just keep giving the money. To clarify that I get it, I know I'm not God, my son is not THE SON. I fully receive that when in Jesus' parable in Matthew 7:11, He says "if you then, being evil know how to give good..." I know amongst us fallen humans, we may consider ourselves as something better than evil, but in comparison to God, we're evil. So in that, I know I’m getting just a smidgen of God and the level of HIS sacrifice in giving us His Son – We walk these halls everyday. Do we know Him? are we jerks to Him? I think back - Is there even a penthouse view in Heaven at all?
With all He’s paid and all that’s happened to His son, Heaven is now looking quite different to me.

We finally get to the last student that I knew we could contribute to and I’m exhausted. Of course not in a way where I’m regretting the idea of giving. That’s fine, and I’m satisfied in a “mission accomplished” kind of way.
I’m exhausted of the wrenching barrage of thoughts and considerations hitting my mind and the weight of the spiritual lessons I’m being overcome by. So the last person’s account pops up and it was one of the most in terms of amount. I didn’t have enough to pay off the account but when I saw the pic, I couldn’t stop there. I went back to the car and got enough to pay it almost in full. I’d paid more than I expected to. Whew!
Okay God, You don't only have my attention, You have my affection. In a small way, at a small school, in a small town…I get it. In a way that's been shrunk down for my finite mind to grasp, even though I'm overwhelmed by my inability to fully "see" it, I’ve gotten a small but powerful glimpse of your GREAT love for us and Your desire to handle our greatest need.

Here’s The Word:

Matthew 23:11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.

Galatians 6:2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ-

I obviously grew up with a pharisaical take on some of the things I saw in church. A 'showy' display of Christianity as it relates to panache and prosperity. Now that I'm older: I see differently, I think differently and I desire differently. I'm also well comforted in the fact of what comes next.
Eternity will be unmatched in splendor and unimpeded, tearless enjoyment. It's just that we're not there yet and the law of Christ is not a pursuit of trouble-free paradise. Its directly tied to the needs of the here and now and learning His heart through giving, bearing, striving and serving shouldn't be resisted. I'm thankful for being exposed to the Love that God has for us and the magnificence of Who He is in it and His active engagement based on resolve and resolution is valuable beyond measure


In Him,
Cros

Monday, March 12, 2018

Depower



I’m not a pastor, but in this post I plan to use a ‘pastoral privilege’. I need to make use of a couple of uncommon words. One might even venture to say that I made this word up. Thing is, the pastoral privilege of creative wording isn’t a carte blanch allowance to spout jibberish, it’s simply a matter that when used rightly, it brings the message to life.

When I think of the Christian Walk, it’s an absolutely amazing thing. Jesus didn’t only provide Himself as the perfect sacrifice for us, but He also lived as the perfect example and He has given us ALL things that pertain to life according to 2 Peter 1:3. The biggest ‘Thing” that He’s given us is the gift of the Holy Spirit which Christ Himself in Acts 1:8 said would be POWER. And here’s where we set up camp today – understanding the uses of this power.
Most people see this power as linear. Its intent and availability to give us things and make things happen; boldness, courage, endurance, patience, stronger faith, wisdom, etc.

However, using simple mathematical deducery(that’s one), you realize that this power afforded to us is also intended and useful to tear things down…. In a good way. The fruit of The Spirit needs to be empowered, the influences of the old self, need to be depowered.(and there’s the other).

Here’s The Word:

Colossians 2:15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it

Romans 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

Think about it like this – When Christ died and rose again, He took the sting of death and made an open spectacle of the principalities and powers. You could say that IN His power, he depowered the forces of evil. This same power that raised Christ from the dead is now at work in us and I don’t mean to make it sound effortless, but we do have the power to not live under the former principalities and powers.

I needed to use depower because I needed a word that conveyed a different idea than to power down, or disconnect. I needed a word that didn’t convey evading or dismissal. I needed a word that clarified an active “lessening” and overcoming of a real power with a better power. In Christ’s gift of the Holy Spirit to us, we have been given the power to depower.

2 Corinthians 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Fasting depowers the influence of flesh
Worship depowers the influence of self
Trust depowers independence
Study depowers ignorance

Wisdom depowers uncertainty
Grace depowers self-sufficiency
Accountability depowers arrogance
Love depowers indifference

Sacrifice depowers expectation
Impurity is depowered by consecration
Patience depowers anxiety
His will, His time is alright by me.

Faith! You bet it depowers fear,
You don’t have to see, to know He’s near
Just as reliance depowers want
Humility depowers the desire to flaunt

Soberness depowers self-exaltation
Recognizing His Sovereignty depowers idol creation
Gratitude depowers entitlement
Mercy depowers unshakable guilt


Giving depowers fear of lack
You can’t out give God
He gives it back.

John 3:30 – He must increase, I must decrease

1 Corinthians 6:12 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

We have the power to “having done all, to stand”. We have the power to lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us and the power to live as conquerors. This is not 'unplugging'. This is not power that makes things happen with no involvement, using the power to depower involves a fight. It takes sincere commitment and serious effort. But I'll say it in a way that paraphrases the previous verse in 1 Corinthians, the power in me is stronger than any power outside of me and I will prove my ability to not be controlled by anything but God.
The previous list is not exhaustive. Feel free, if not also somewhat obliged to look at your life and identify things that need to be depowered.

In Him,
Cros

Interests



I tried to make today’s image look like something from a funds investment presentation. The tie in is that ‘friendship’ should connote an appreciating value. We should seek to better, and to be made better by the people who choose as friends.

I realize that much of what I write can be interpreted (or misinterpreted) based on how individuals define things. Of course, we try to convey the most common understandings about things we think we agree on, but fact of the matter is….there are no guarantees. I don’t know whether to call it a phenomena or not, but something new seems to have caught my attention.

This is about Facebook and my question is this - When did it become “a thing” to friend someone and then unfollow them because ‘unfriending’ is frowned upon (unless absolutely necessary)? It makes me wonder about how we define “friend”. I always thought that the basis for friendship was mutual interests. Something common and equally desirable . The flip side was the realization that if there was no mutual interest, then there probably was no reason to be friends. Nothing personal, but how can it work if there’s nothing personal or intimate to base a friendship on?
But when it comes to Facebook, is this important AT ALL? Maybe people don’t see Facebook as particularly real in the first place, and if that’s the case, then the answer is “No", this probably isn’t important. However, what if on the contrary, something more subtle is happening? If you unfollow someone, yet still claim to be their friend even though they are no benefit to you and you’re no benefit to them, what are we to make of that?
That means that we can redefine something to its absolute opposite, yet experience no impact of it. For believers, whether the matter is big or small, we should stay conscious of how the natural and spiritual can impact or influence each other.

In VERY obvious of ways, people claim to have a relationship with God yet they live with no mutual interest. God Himself says in Luke 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say. God promotes the idea of mutual interest and its not as simple as with social media. If you unfollow Him, then essentially, you’ve unfriended Him.

Here’s The Word:

James 4:4 know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

There are many things IN life that the Bible doesn’t speak distinctly about; Math, physics, next week’s weather or what the stock market is going to do. BUT for us who FOLLOW Him, when we come across things He's expressly addressed, we should pay close attention and make sure that His definition, is our definition. And if we’re honest, there’s more than enough in His word to keep us occupied, edified and sanctified for His use.

Mutual interests in regards to Christ – We need a savior and He so happens to be the BEST one ever!
– not only out of His divine power which speaks to Authority, but also out of His great love. He went to lengths greater than we’re able to comprehend in order to not simply demand obedience, but to deserve it. He also invites and involves us in His great work in the world. If He were simply being a Divine Ruler, judgement would’ve rightfully found all of us paying for our sins through eternal separation and suffering. But He had compassion on us as a friend would, and helped us in exactly the way we needed it. He showed us by example exactly what a friend should look like.

Here’s The Word:

Proverbs 18:24 A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly

John 15:15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

Philippians 2:4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

Look, this is not for you to feel scolded into handling your social media any other way than how you see fit. As a matter of fact, I have many friends who don't DO social media at all. Hopefully, this was just an encouragement to look at things maybe a little differently, or maybe just a little more closely. If you have friends - be a friend, treat your friends as friends according to mutual interests, and live by Christ's example.


In Him,
Cros

Monday, February 26, 2018

Laundry



Sometimes I think that as we enjoy such an unprecedented level of 'convenienced lifestyle', at a deeper level, we lose much more than we gain. However in this instance, I think the contrast is particularly revealing.
Back in our grandparent’s day, doing the laundry didn’t mean throwing a few sparse things into a machine, popping in a pod or two (or three) and setting a dial and/or pushing a button. No, back in their day it was called “the warsh” and it took the better part of the day, not counting the time it took to dry things on the line.

Most detergents had a chemical called “lye” which needed to be handled with serious care. Lye was the stuff that fought against the stains and got the wash clean. Over time, laundry soaps have become more user-friendly although they still advertise being “Tough on stains”. It’s an easy concept: We want clean laundry and we realize that it takes a detergent that fights stains but doesn’t do more harm than good(bodily). There are still older people who swear by lye, and would argue that today’s clothes aren’t anywhere near as clean as what they’d remembered in their day.
So then that’s the real question - How clean does clean need to be, to be clean? And this is also the part where the impact of the contrast is revealed. Nowadays, we feel like if we’ve done our part; loaded the machine, popped in some detergent and pushed the right buttons that the “clean” produced by these efforts is clean enough. We don’t have a lye-washed comparison to hold our wash up against. We don’t know enough to realize how ‘dingy’ or sub-standard the product of our efforts is and because of that, we assume that our best is good enough.

SO the next question is this – how perfectly clean should Heaven be? Should we be able to determine how clean it is based on our best efforts? What if our bestest efforts isn’t clean enough? should God somehow “understand” and settle?

This issue is at the core of Who God is, and He deals with it in very REAL ways in His word.

Heaven’s splendor is glorious beyond measure. You could even use "glorious" as the level of "clean" enjoyed by Heaven. There is absolutely nothing on earth that can produce or even compare to it. Scripture says "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God". Because of the sin we're born into, the sin we're subject to, and if we're honest, the sin we crave, we're just incapable of producing that kind of clean. No matter the amount of sincere desire nor a life given to ceaseless efforts. Compared to Heaven, even our very best is still filthy.
We see the reality of this in the order of sacrifices God established with His people, Israel. God clearly communicated that sin is a stain: Not just unsightly, but unbearable.
Sin is a stain worthy of being cast as far from "Holy" as east is from west, and these stains absolutely need to be washed out. So in instituting the ordinance of sacrifices, God, communicated His high level of Holiness, expectancy AND set detailed standards as to what the people would need to do to wash themselves. To purify themselves back to a desired clean state. This message did more of a job conveying God's holiness and the seriousness of the stain than it did to really clean those who’d stained themselves. Later in God’s Word, He makes it clear that this “washing” wasn't working (in any lasting way), and in some ways that it really wasn’t meant to. The ordinance of sacrifice was about the need for continued obedience, but even more important, it was a foreshadowing; pointing towards what it REALLY takes to get things clean.

Here’s The Word:

Isaiah 1: 18(a) Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;

Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

Hebrews 9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.

Hebrews 10:4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

Psalm 51:7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Ephesians 5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

John 15:3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.

Revelation 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

Hebrews 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:

God sits in glorious splendor and nothing here can attain to it. This is why His lasting remedy for us couldn’t include our input. It would’ve made anything we touched, not just unacceptably dingy, but still apparently filthy. This is where we have to stop trying to esteem our “good” as anything worthy. God, in recognition of His “Brightness” calls our best efforts “as filthy rags”. For us to try doing our own laundry; cleaning our own sin to a level of Heavenly pristine-ness is an exercise of ultimate futility. Filthy just can't improve filthy. This explains two very important things. God’s reaction to the stain of sin is righteously and severely violent AND the fact that Christ is REALLY worthy. His washing didn't just clean, it made things NEW! He now sits at the right hand of The Father after providing the stain-fighting remedy in His blood, once and for all. This means that the laundry is DONE.


In Him,
Cros