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: September 2016

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, September 28, 2016

Perfection: All or Nothing

Most people have run into that person. Everything you (or anyone else) could possibly bring up in conversation, they have some instructional anecdote to share about it ….like they know. We call them a ‘know it all’. We also have aversions to people who seem overly ‘caught up’
    ... In anything.
From health and fitness and nutrition to politics, comic-con fanatics, extreme sports fan or “crystal rubbing” astrologers – we see some degree of tangible benefit or lighthearted humor but often enough to take note, we notice 'those people' who take it to extremes.

I’m sure this isn’t true for everyone in all cases but because we look so negatively at know it alls, we become very careful about the persona we portray. We aim for a ‘tempered, middle of the road, appropriateness’.
We avoid extremes.
Well, I have good news and bad news; On the one hand, it’s good to realize what it is that we dislike about extremes; usually it’s the haughtiness – the smug arrogance of one looking down their noses at us lesser undesireables.
The bad side(if you want to call it that) is, as Christians, we’re called to an extreme. Perfection. We can’t settle for comfortable, middle of the road, unassuming anonymity.

Perfection for the Christian is different in every way from everything I’ve listed above: Piety is not a haughty word. The heart of piety is not in religious duty, but in unbridled worship and adoration. It’s expressed in humility, which is like seasoning to a soup; too little and the expression is undetectably bland, too much and it quickly becomes detestable.
However, the right amount will make it a wonderfully savory experience that promotes all the other ingredients – godliness, love for others, consecration and reverence. Perfection is not fanaticism.

Christians, the plain and simple truth is (if) we have the Spirit – we represent life. If we represent life, we’re to press to its desired ultimate expression – perfection in Christ. There’s only one other alternative; that we don’t have it and we (still) represent death and there’s absolutely NO way to find the richness of life that we search for. It’s all or nothing.

For us, God has ALL it takes to progress our perfection, but we can’t hold back in the comfort of average mediocrity.

Here’s The Word;

1 Kings 8:61 Let your heart therefore be perfect with the Lord our God, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments, as at this day.

1 Peter 5:10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

Philippians 3:12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.

Hebrews 13:21 Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

If you have been given new life in Christ, allow the Spirit to bear witness and prove it to perfection. Striving for perfection outside of Christ is an inescapable source of frustration, which quickly leads to becoming something far worse; admirable, but not Godly.
In all humility, represent truth. We can’t go along to get along and expect to be perfected OR expect the world to see a desirable difference worth considering. It’s all or nothing.

In Him,

Thursday, September 22, 2016

A Toast!

When I think about the kickoff party for the eternal state being the marriage of Christ to His Bride, The Church, it makes me wonder about what Revelation 19:9 calls “The marriage supper of the Lamb”. I was married recently and part of my reception involved a dear friend of mine presenting a very common thing: “The Toast”. He did an awesome job but will there be a toast for the Bridegroom at the marriage supper?....I sure hope so.

Matthew 26:29 But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.

A toast to The One called Faithful and True.
Who died for me, as He died for you.
In Him, all things have been made New.
Forever He shall be praised!

The Word made flesh, born from a womb,
Who tasted of death, crucified and entombed.
His glory bursts forth like the sun’s strength at noon.
Forever He shall be praised!

Fullness of the Father, contained in The Son.
The Shepherd of 99, Who seeks after the one.
Author and Finisher of the race that we’ve run!
Forever He shall be praised!

Left glory unspeakable to humble Himself.
Lessened His power, as if placed on the shelf.
Took on humanity, to give sinners His wealth.
Forever He shall be praised!

All good gifts, He’s the one who delivers.
Our lowly estate, in His mercy considered.
Life everlasting, He alone is the giver!
Forever He shall be praised!

Now in His glory, established as King!
Under His feet, God has placed everything!
Oh Glorious Day! We have been redeemed!
Forever He shall be praised!

Words can’t express! Our hearts are amazed!
Planned and fulfilled by The Ancient of Days!
Without further ado and with glasses all raised!

Consider in your heart what Christ means to you. What would your toast look like? And as you think of our toast, think about your life in Christ and pray that it would reflect the heart of “The Toast” you’d give at His marriage supper. Everyday that you wake up still here, is another day to practice your toast.

Here’s The Word;

1 Chronicles 16:10 Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord.

In Him,

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Heart to Heart Talk

Do you know the number #1, leading cause of death in the world?
It’s heart disease. Of all of the deaths attributed to heart disease, mainly heart attacks and stroke, 1/3rd of these deaths are preventable.

Do you know the top 3 excuses of people who resist implementing the lifestyle changes that would ensure a healthier heart? The largest group is people who already believe that they’re doing good enough. The next group simply don’t want to stop doing what they enjoy, and the last, largest group’s excuse is “I don’t have time.”

I can’t help but see a connection between physical and spiritual “heart” issues.

The fact of the matter is, we’re ALL born with a fatal heart issue called “sin”. The wages of sin is death and unlike heart attacks and stroke, sin’s death rate is always 100%.
Similar to life in the physical, most of us become aware of our bad hearts through some sort of reckoning: Some are presented The Gospel and are shown that their hearts are contrary toward God in the same way as someone who simply goes in for a checkup and find that their coronary test indicate problematic concerns.
Others have more “convicting” episodes: Experiencing something traumatic and calling to God out of desperation – just like a heart attack.

Both instances immediately confront us with the idea of a need for change. And that’s where our TRUE hearts are exposed. Once your eyes have been opened to the truth, the next move is yours.

Here’s The Word;

Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

One of the most tragic things to see is someone who’s been made aware of their heart problem, but somehow they underestimate the gravity of the situation. They've allowed their personal desires to compromise them to the point that they don’t buckle down and apply the level of effort required for the benefits to be realized.
I’m starting to believe (or maybe just waking up and realizing) how much we absolutely love our distractions. If life can be about everything, or even anything else except me examining myself or looking into the law of liberty, testing the spirits, or guarding my heart diligently, then maybe it really doesn’t matter. …out of ‘heart’, out of mind. But in that, we can fool ourselves into “feeling” that we’re doing good enough all ready.

Just like bad diet habits. Our comfort with and desire to fulfill our mental picture of the ‘enjoyable life’ happens faster than we know. Of course, that inner voice chimes in with excuses “…I don’t exercise because it’s hard”. It’s hard is relative. Ever see someone without legs or any other compromised capabilities? They’re lives are harder than able-bodied people but they’re up every day overcoming in ways that tire us out to watch, all in an effort to assume some assemblance of normalcy. So many would rather settle for what comes easy just because it comes easy rather than work for better because it comes hard. Sounds like such a waste of the blessings of strength and sense we've been given. To assume that your heart can thrive in the throes of this world with no sense of diligent attention from you is the epitome of foolishness – physically AND spiritually.

And time. Always the great equalizer. I bet there are many people whose lives have been personally devastated by ‘heart disease’ that wouldn’t hesitate to trade one day of living in regret to go back and do all they could to prevent their current state. Is there any doubt?

As with all things – the fundamental reality with heart problems isn’t really the heart, its truth. If you can embrace the truth of the matter, all that comes after is circumstantial – if the heart is given improper attention (or denied proper attention) all that comes after is reactionary. Truth alignment is key.

Get your heart right. If you don’t know Christ as Savior, time is not on your side, just as if you have no idea about the physical heart condition, you’re gambling against a situation with no guarantees except one: You’ll regret not playing it smarter once you’ve lost.

Luke 21: 33-34 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.

In Him,

Thursday, September 15, 2016

If I Were God

Today’s thoughts come from a conversation I had with my son about his "ponderings" after a Youth Night event.
He’d asked if I’d remembered about the time I gave him several blocks of modeling clay. He continued about how he was making little human figures and thought about God and said “If I was God, and I made a bunch of people out of clay and they didn’t obey me, I would just ball them up and start over.” I smiled and said “Yep, most of us would.”
It’s not the kind of thing that we talk about much but if we’re being totally honest, most of us see exactly where we would do things different if we were God.
When most of us think of being GOD, we think of boundless POWER and what that power can be used for in light of the way we see life and death. If we were 'in charge', we'd use power to make rainbows(daily). With a wave of our hands, no one would ever get sick or die, or be sorrowful.

We'd use power to force justice without delay: Anyone who displays ‘selfish’ characteristics would be dealt with in the swiftly. OR even the grace of swift prevention - Every bad thought or beginnings of a regrettable action would be interrupted with the loving coercion “…not a good idea, loved one.”
Nature and life would be, to put it plainly, “in sync”. Rain would come when necessary, but pleasantly warm and enjoyable all other times. All Godly power would just be used to make all things groovy.

We'd make sure to have plenty of face to face conversations just to reassure - “Everything is wonderful, you guys are great! Keep doing what you’re doing.” Because we know all too well how often we feel compressed, confused and cloistered, thinking “How can this be (or lead to any) good?”

However, since we know this is not the world we live in, God’s power becomes the thing people question when things go contrary to how we would have them.

Follow these thoughts to conclusion and see that there are reasons to rejoice! As I responded to my son, I said “What if God’s plan wasn’t simply to make people to obey Him, but to make people who wanted to obey Him and who could appreciate Him on a way deeper level than one of behavioral modification(action and reward)?” What would it take to make clay beings learn to give and receive love? This would mean that even when people are disobedient and should be simply 'balled up', God’s plan is not done.

Here’s The Word;

Philippians 2:5(b) - 8 Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

In this, I find an amazing thing in God. The fact that He is surely, fully aware of his 'all powerfulness', the solution He chose to work didn't involve exercising more power but less. He set aside power for something different; humility. What would make an omnipotent God CHOOSE suffering and grief? Obviously obedience isn't the only thing God has planned for us. It's deeper than that.

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

When entertaining these thoughts, I see that my mind is extremely short sighted. My ability to fix things as God only works when I also assume that I know fully what His plans and purposes are….of which I have to humbly admit, I don’t.

Psalm 71:19 Thy righteousness also, O God, is very high, who hast done great things: O God, who is like unto thee!

Psalm 86:5 But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, long suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.

And again, I rejoice! I do know that God reserves the right to be the ALL POWERFUL Resolve when He sees fit and He does have a plan to ultimately oust evil, but I’m also thankful for a God who is compassionate and understanding of all of our insufficient strengths and abundant weaknesses. A Sovereign God humbled Himself to a degree far beyond us in order to not just save us, but to teach us love and to prepare a saved people to become a gift for His Son, a Bride to presented at the end of the age.

Always remember, we have an approachable God. We wish He would visit or speak to us more but He never stops His children from coming to Him. He says 'Come boldly' (Hebrews 4:16) and 'Keep yourselves in the love of God' (Jude 1:21)

1 John 4: 9 - 12 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

Only God knows how good, GOOD is as well as how bad, BAD is. He's not provoked into forfeiting His plans as a reaction to either. The Eternal state will be glorious and will arrive in His timing, but what's happening now is obviously indivisible from His plans. In my mind, I see God using power to restrain His power - I can't say that I'd "see it through" in the same way If I were God.

In Him,

Monday, September 12, 2016

Raging C's

What does The Bible mean when it talks about this “world”?
We know it can’t possibly be talking about rocks and mountains or plants and animals, right? It’s not talking about stores and cars, traffic and weather. Is it the government or people in general? Well, even that answer barely begins to scratch the surface.

This world can seem like a nebulous thing until you start narrowing it down and identifying exactly what it is. I think the main things the Bible expresses as the world is what I will present as these ‘raging’ Cs. The first C being the umbrella which all the others fall under.

Remember, these are not to your condemnation but for your commendation.

The main C is for Carnality – When we who have been saved cross over from death to life, spiritually speaking, we were rescued from a dead and dying world. This world was all we knew up until our conversion: It contained everything we cared about, everything we laughed and cried about and everything we aspired to be. Now we know that since our citizenship is now in Heaven and that we desire a different country, we immediately find ourselves at odds with our former lover who catered to us in ways that need to be put 'assunder'.

1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

Ephesians 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

Romans 8:6 – 8 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

C is for compromise – This world is big on ‘getting along’ and we must take inventory every day, reaffirming what our values are, what manner of life becomes of righteousness and what it means to uphold them in all circumstances. Peace with all men is a good goal until it starts compromising righteousness.

Galatians 5:7 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

James 3:10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.

C is for complacency - This world would have you believe that nothing is really worth getting worked up over. The Bible begs to differ: Living by the Spirit doesn’t come effortlessly. We have to mortify our members, meaning to actively and intensely resist giving in to the worldly desires still imprinted on and pursued by our flesh.

Proverbs 4:23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

2 Peter 3: 14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.

1 Corinthians 12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

C is for Confusion – In a world of people trying to make sense of life – it really is too much. However, that never stopped us from trying. We (may) remember how hard it was to try and make sense of keeping the right priorities and avoiding negativity all in an effort to produce an abiding inner peace and feeling of calm satisfaction. How many people ever reach that goal? This is the endless struggle that the world sets out to accomplish every day. Yet, this hamster wheel of confusion produces frustration because the world simply doesn’t have this lasting peace to give. Yet, we just kept on thinking; "If only I could reach this certain goal, or try a little harder, or get this person, or get rid of that person....etc"

James 3:16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.

1 Peter 2:16 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. (confused & frustrated)

C is for cares - Usually when we think of cares, we think of only the things that worry us. I suppose that the category of cares is much bigger. Often times we’re sidetracked by things that don’t present themselves as worrisome, but are distracting nonetheless. They can actually be good things, but oftentimes they take an unwarranted place and priority in us. Realize that you are soil – and you should desire to be GOOD soil, producing GOOD fruit. Everything needs to be scrutinized and anything that doesn’t aid in that should be excised outright or at the very least, ‘handled with caution’.

Mark 4:19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.

C is for comparison - This world has a saying; “Keeping up with the Jones’s” – the real question is: Where are the Jones’s headed when they die? But that doesn’t stop the world from riding trends – Jordan’s , MK purses, the ‘brand new’ this and the next ‘technologically advanced’ that. The world (and many of us) often gauge our contentment by having these popular little trinkets of world approved status. This comparative living is not indicative of the heart of a servant subject to the desires and instruction of his Lord.

Philippians 2:3 – 4 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

C is for comedy – This is a tough one if you’re anything like me. I absolutely LOVE to laugh and with the sheer amount of what's promoted as ‘funny’, it seems obvious that laughter is high on the list of what it means to enjoy life. However, there also seems to be a dark side: sarcasm and the prevalence of “crude humor” has a large impact in what’s currently delivered in the name of “funny”. All is not lost. Although choices for clean, genuinely funny humor may be hard to find in this vast sea of what's popularly promoted, this shouldn't force us into settling for worldly.

Ephesians 5:4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

Remember, at the end of the day, life in The Spirit means LIBERTY. Freedom from the penalty AND the power of sin: There is no condemnation. So I don’t expect this to become some sort of list that you feel obli-guilted to align your lives to. However, I do hope that I got you thinking a little bit. The things that The Bible has to say on how we are to live are things that an unregenerate person doesn't desire and would find impossible to do (rightly)…it takes empowerment by The Spirit to put the flesh to death. Once you check these Scriptures, you may find other things that quantify your ‘world’ and encouragement for what it means to overcome it.

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.

1 John 4:4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

1 John 5:4-5 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

May Our God and the power of His Christ keep us protected from this world and its raging c's, leading us into the experiential difference between the old: Dead bodies re-animated to seek after old decaying desires, and the new: Dead bodies quickened by The Spirit, yielding the peaceable fruit of righteousness.

In Him,

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Relief, Receive and Renew

How did you come to Christ?

This is as about as important a question that you could ever be asked, second to the question; “What did you get when you got Christ?”

Thing is, most people come to Christ because somehow, in some area in their lives, they’ve hit a place of desperation where the need for a new direction is blatantly apparent. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this as I believe God when He says “Whosoever” in Romans 10:13: This is not predicated on circumstances. However, I do think it’s important to think long and hard about our conversion experience.

Here’s the example that can be changed easily but still make the point:
It’s possible for a person who drinks to excess to find themselves in a severely regrettable situation. In the midst of the painful after effects of a drunken stupor, they cry out for help. They’re asking for God but what they really want is relief.
The following day, they’ve recovered and understandably, the power and pain of that “hangover” is really the thing that’s making the difference in why they’ve learned to deal more moderately with alcohol. They may thank God but truth is, although God is available, they haven’t really received Him and more importantly, they haven’t given themselves TO Him.

It’s dangerously easy to start a disingenuous relationship with God. The relationship may even grow into one of remarkable benevolence. Yet, it’s possible to be motivated to DO good, without being empowered BY The Spirit. Not discounting ‘baby Christians’, it seems that too many Christians today don’t show evidence of being empowered by The Spirit and my mind tends toward the idea that they either resist Him or that they’ve never received Him.

In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis uses a superb example of having a toothache and his mother’s response of either giving him an aspirin or taking him to the dentist. Most times we just want relief but Christ’s answer is always the extreme makeover.
This is where I wish churches did more: Of course, freely and fully receive people based on whatever life crises they’re having at the moment, but as we persuade with the Gospel, make it as clear as possible that the God who can alleviate your situation won’t stop there – His goal is to make you perfect. It’s what He does, He makes ALL THINGS NEW.

He will be a friend to the depressed, an advocate for the accused, a sustainer for the weak, and a clear direction for the lost but at the end of the day, He is LORD of all and being relieved in the area of your distress doesn’t obligate Him to stop what He’s doing. He won’t, and learning how to do what Christians DO is no substitution for a true transformation.

So. How did you come to Christ and what did you get when you got Him? Was it made clear to you that giving Him your problems also meant receiving Him? That it meant allowing Him to transform even the areas of your life that you’re already comfortable with? That your affinities, perceptions and your rules would be “fixed” by your new Ruler. And the big warning that your strength can produce a remarkably convincing façade with no eternal value. Use His strength, not yours….joy and peace will be evident.

Here's The Word:

Colossians 2:6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:

Colossians 3:15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Romans 15:13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

In Him,