Wednesday, July 28, 2010
One song that is in my head right now, and I haven't heard it in a while, is "Could It Be."
"Could it be You make Your presence known
So often by Your absence
Could it the the questions tell us more
Than answers ever do
Could it be that You would really rather die
Than live without us
Could it be the only answer that means anything
Such a great song.
Couldn't find a video for the above quote, but this is another great Michael Card song.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
If you have never seen an elephant before, and you were blind, how would you describe it?
Picture this: you and a team of learners are presented with the task of describing an elephant. But instead of looking to an encyclopedia or a zoo exhibit, you are each blindfolded and guided to a real elephant. Each of you touches a different part of the animal: one, the soft and delicate tip of the elephant's trunk; another, the hard tusk of ivory; and a third, the wrinkled hide around the elephant's belly.
Based upon what each of you learned, one thinks an elephant is smooth and soft, another would say an elephant is smooth and hard, while the last would conclude that elephants are rough and soft. What's the truth? When we study complex topics, we are often like the elephant examiners: there's usually a lot more to a topic that we don't learn about after only a quick exploration.
By Hugh Peebles
Terry Scott Taylor of Daniel Amos fame and other entities of musical artistry related a story about Koko the gorilla. Koko was taught sign language by her handlers. One day there was an earthquake. When the handlers asked Koko what she was thinking she signed to them “Darn Floor. Big Bite.” We in our limited capacity are like Koko. How can we describe an infinite God with our finite knowledge? He has revealed Himself to us through His Son. He has made Himself accessible to us through Jesus. Jesus is the Door. He is The Way. He is that final Word from God. But we see through a glass darkly. Jesus saves us. But to say we have God figured out, we’re only fooling ourselves.
Sound bite and bumper sticker theology is a fascinating thing. We throw a gospel quote here and line there. We put it on bumper stickers. I like a good quote like the next guy. Sometimes all we have are a few moments of time.
I would like to share my observations on God. Someone once said, “If you think you’ve got God figured out, your god is too small.” So many of us think we have it figured out. Of one thing I am sure, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. Jesus is THE Way…Jesus is the Door. Jesus is God incarnate. God is Love, therefore Jesus is the embodiment of Love. We have One Way to God, and that is through Jesus Christ and Him crucified. This is what makes us acceptable to the Father for there is no other way. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:18 that “The preaching of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are saved, it is the Power of God.” Jesus’ death on the cross is the only acceptable and final sacrifice that God recognizes. Our works and good deeds won’t save us.
There is a song we sing in the church called “Amazing Grace.” We’ve all sang it at one time or another and there are different versions that I have been recorded. One of the lines in the song says, “When we’ve been there 10,000 years, bright shining as the sun/We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise, than when we first begun.” Why is that? Because, after 10,000 years, we still would have so much to learn of the greatness of God. Time is irrelevant in the Kingdom of Heaven, but still, you can understand the concept of the infinite God.
Paul said in Romans 8:8-9 “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.”
The religious leaders of Jesus’ day knew the letter of the law, but knew not the spirit behind the law. Why did God lay down what is considered the law? What was His motive or reason? It was His love for us. Because you do ‘good’ in the name of Jesus, does that make you ‘good?’ Are you willing to love your enemy? John said, “If you say you love God and hate your brother, you’re a liar.” Then people start accusing you of “wanting the church to just ‘run wild’ with sin.” Because I say the law cannot save you, does this mean I’m saying you can do what you want? What do you want to do? Is it harmful to your fellow humans? That’s not love. If it’s not in faith, it’s sin.
The concept of licentiousness is a concern within the church also. When God came before Moses He made this declaration, “And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation." (Exodus 34:6 and 7. NIV) We are saved by grace through faith.
Do we have faith? Really? Do we?
I can’t see your heart. You can’t see mine. We struggle and we stumble and sometimes we fall. But faith knows that God has not abandoned us. Faith doesn’t dwell on it and neither does faith point the finger and condemn, for that is too easy to do. I know. It’s too easy to look down our noses at those whom we deem as “sinners” and say to God, “I thank you Father that I’m not like that person.” When Jesus told the parable, He said the Pharisee prayed “thus with himself.” We think ourselves good because we are not like “that person.” Do you really think that God is impressed with our “I’m good because I’m not that bad” defense? Rahab, by faith, hid the Israelite spies. Her actions were in faith and her family was saved.
The New Testament does condemn those who “practice” sin or make it a habit and don’t have a problem with it. All of us are guilty of being tempted. Some of the time we may fall.
"You shall not take (to accept, extol, put on) the name of the LORD your God in vain (empty, void), for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” Exodus 20:7
Jesus said to his disciples “"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” Matt 7:21. There are so many people that use Jesus’ name as some sort of magic incantation. I sometimes wonder if that is what God was talking about “taking His name in vain.” There’s the story about the guy who tried to use “in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches” against an evil spirit, but then got his butt kicked.
Life seems to have pendulums. We go this way, we go that way. We argue with each other because we want to be ‘right.’ “My side is correct and if you don’t agree with us, then you are just evil.” The rock group Extreme have an album (CD for you literalists out there) called Three Sides to Every Story. What are those 3 sides? Your, mine and the Truth. Like the elephant descriptions, each description was true, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.
There are those who don’t like the book of James because there are those who use it as a tool to push the “faith PLUS works” doctrine. But James is trying to make a point. He is trying to remind his readers, “You say you have faith? But if you have faith in God, is not God love? So if you have faith in love, doesn’t that mean you will do what you can to help those in need? But what are you doing? You’re playing favorites. You like those with money and give them the best places while pushing back those you don’t think can help your cause. Where’s the love in that?” Love doesn’t play favorites. Love sees a need and does what it can to help. This is the bottom line of what James is trying to get across. He says “If you love, you do well.” James 2:8
Those are all thoughts from my finite mind. My own part of the elephant. I can't know it all. All I do know is that I am saved by faith and not by works, so therefore I can't boast about how good I am. It's not me but Christ who lives in me.
There is so much to know about God. May we loves Him with all our hearts, minds and strength.
Be blessed. Be a blessing.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Monday, July 12, 2010
Monday, July 5, 2010
My faith in Christ guides me in my walk through this life. I could spend years in studying about Christ and still miss Him. I could spend unlimited time under teachers of Christ and still miss Him.
He is the Creator. He is the Way. He is the Truth. He is The Life. He has given us life. We are to live it more abundantly. That has nothing to do with quantities of mammon. This has nothing to do with sizes of domiciles. This has nothing to do with how powerful or fast my mode of transportation.
When we first step into the "fear of the Lord" we come to know and love Him, because we come to know that He first Loves us. When we realize that He gave His life to open the door to a relationship with Him we realize that He has called us to Love. He has not called us to hate those who hate Him. He told us to Love our enemies. He has called us to a life of Love. Not as the world loves, but as He loves. This takes more than our rules and regulations laid out in our earthly institutions or religious clubs. This takes every bit of our lives. It takes emptying self and filling with Jesus' Spirit, the Holy Spirit.
It takes walking out the door of our institutions and touching those who need Him.
It's a big world out there. Love with God's heart.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Saturday, July 3, 2010
When the rich young ruler approached Jesus and asked what he needed to do, Jesus said, “you know the law.”
The young guy said, “I’ve done all that.”
Jesus then said, “Sell all you have and come, follow me.”
The rich young guy walked away sad.
Before this conversation takes place, the rich young guy said to Jesus, “Good master.”
Jesus said, “There is none good, but God.” Which therefore begs the question, “Do you believe that Jesus is God?” The young ruler didn’t believe. What is the first commandment? “I Am the Lord God, you shall have no other gods before me.”
So many of us think that because we “don’t drink, don’t chew, don’t date those that do” we are right before God. But we don’t let go of our egos, or money, or self-righteousness, bitterness, anger, addictions, un-forgiveness or whatever. We claim it’s a part of who we are. We constantly walk away from Jesus claiming we believe in Him, yet, we cling to our idols of self. Jesus does not abandon us. We walk off on Him. He will never leave nor forsake us, but so many times we forsake Him.
There are none righteous, no not one. We have all fallen short. Any in the body who claim otherwise are liars. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:18
I like to read. I’ve been reading Dean Koontz’s Intensity for a while now. Sometimes I read fast, other times it may take me a while to get through a book. The main bad guy is extremely evil. The main character is being held captive by him and she’s trying to figure him out. After some time with him she realizes that he’s not a wolf when the moon comes out. He’s just a person. But she realizes his main sin. This is how Dean Koontz describes her understanding.
“His base sins were envy - of beauty, of happiness - and pride, bending the whole world to his view of creation, and these were the greatest sins of all, the same transgressions over which the devil himself, once an archangel, had stumbled and fallen a long way out of Heaven.”
Pride sees the world through its own view and refuses to see things from any other perspective. But, God the Creator of Heaven and Earth, stepped out of Heaven and took on the form of man to see things from our perspective. He loves us that much.
What is it that justifies us? Our church attendance? How ‘good’ we are? Who we associate with? It is Christ that justifies us before God. But how many of us truly understand that? We believe that our standing with God is based on our performance. Our pride stands in the way of Faith. Because we think that what we do should be taken into account for our salvation. Thus, we make ourselves our own idols.
We do things that we think will improve our standing with God. We don’t associate with “that type of person,” or we don’t “go to those type movies.” “I’m a Christian and I don’t do those things.”
So much of who we are has nothing to do with our lives in Christ. The idea of submission in the body of Christ has been lost because of the abuse of power within the body of believers. Men have behaved like rulers, yet refuse to give themselves as Christ gave himself for the church. Women in the body have been treated badly by leadership if they didn’t ‘submit’ to their husbands.
Marriages have ended because of the demands of submission. No demand should be made of someone that you are not willing to submit to.
How much better the world would be if each of us would put our faith in Christ and let Him live through us. In the Way, let Him love through us. As John the Baptist said, He must increase and I must decrease. To put one’s faith in Christ is to put one’s faith in God. If God is Love, then we must put our faith in Love. Love is not idle.
Jesus said to love God, then love each other. Then He loved us first. He loved us unto death.
Love is a risk. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. God gave us Jesus. God gave us Love. Man took Him, lied about Him, spat on Him, beat Him, mocked Him then nailed Him to a cross, because man thought that he knew better than God. This is what we do to Jesus every time we refuse to love those around us for whatever reason. For those reasons we have become our own idols.
And the concert was free. Kenny Loggins performed first. The Doobies played last.
Great fun was had by all.