Saturday, November 5, 2011
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Monday, May 30, 2011
The post I wrote is below, but I also encourage you to go to Goforth's Journal to check out Chris's blog.
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!” – John 14:6-7
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Friday, April 29, 2011
Bonhoeffer believed the Easter story. He actually believed the extraordinary story of God's coming to Earth and dying and then rising from the dead to defeat death forever. He believed that because this was true, he need never fear death. All he needed to worry about was doing the right thing and trusting God with the results. And that he did. (“The Man Who Defeated Adolf Hitler” by Eric Metaxas - http://fxn.ws/eubeam)
“If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” ~John 14:15-20
For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. When he died, He died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. ~ Romans 6:4-11
I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. ~ Ephesians 1:16-20
Friday, April 1, 2011
One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to have dinner with him, so Jesus went to his home and sat down to eat. When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. She’s a sinner!”He and the other men were mortified that a woman like her was even there, much less making such a spectacle of herself. She was a sorry excuse for a Jewish woman. Surely a preacher who could hear from the Righteous Judge would know that!
Then Jesus answered his thoughts. “Simon,” he said to the Pharisee, “I have something to say to you.”
“Go ahead, Teacher,” Simon replied.
Then Jesus told him this story: “A man loaned money to two people—500 pieces of silver to one and 50 pieces to the other. But neither of them could repay him, so he kindly forgave them both, canceling their debts. Who do you suppose loved him more after that?”
Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the larger debt.”
“That’s right,” Jesus said. Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume.Please don’t assume Jesus’ story and explanation had the simple intent of putting ol’ Simon in His place. He demanded that these men look at this display of adoration because it was something they themselves were woefully unacquainted with. He framed in gold a priceless heart of faith and the pure worship of a disenfranchised daughter of Israel. This was all in brilliant contrast to the substandard welcome He received from pillars of the community.
“I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”
Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.”
The men at the table said among themselves, “Who is this man, that he goes around forgiving sins?”If forgiveness hadn’t been enough, Jesus lavished even more love on her in the form of a profound blessing: “Go in peace.” A deeper look at that Greek word for “peace” reveals Jesus’ full meaning…”Go in wholeness.” Jesus was setting back in place all that had been damaged in her life. All the trust trampled and innocence lost. He restored her to the place she was created to dwell as a child of the King. She was one He had come to live and die for. He did it because He loved her…exactly like He loves you and me… unreservedly and unashamedly.
That night in Mandy’s house God gently held me in His strong arms. His hand rested on my head. I didn’t hear a word from Him about being a frightful sight of disrespect. I still don’t. All I had from that moment on was the healing I had longed for all my life. I found the tangible love I desperately needed more than oxygen in His presence. He showed me that He would always provide for my every need… He accepted me and would never reject me, flaws and all… He would remain fiercely protective of my heart as though it were a freshly wounded lamb. He has never stopped loving me this way. That, I can tell you gratefully, is worth shouting from the rooftops.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
I have this clear memory of when I was young sitting in a Sunday school classroom filled with soft, morning sunlight. More distinctly and more importantly, I knew Jesus was in that room with me. I felt His presence, and it was sweet.
Several years went by, and I eventually made a public profession of my faith in Him. I’ve lived for Him ever since. Strangely though, I always felt like something was missing in my walk with Him. Something vital.
*Snap*…I figured it out! I needed to do whatever I had to do to prove that I was His to others and to prove to Him that I loved Him. I prayed really great prayers. I became very involved in my church youth group. I tried to only hang out with Christians. I read the Bible as much as I could. Of course, there were lapses in all these attempts to please Him. I made puh-lenty of mistakes. Cure for the guilt I felt? Do more. Pray harder. Get more involved with church. Only hang out with good Christians. Read the Bible even more. All were great ideas that manufactured a veneer so holy looking, that I confused the look of sanctification with the actual process in my heart. My concept of how to draw nearer to Him was flawed because it lacked the most important component: I never asked Jesus what He really wanted.
There’s nothing new under the sun, and the Word of God is held up like a mirror for us to see our spiritual condition in hi-def clarity…if we have ears to hear and eyes enlightened by the Holy Spirit. Here’s a passage in Matthew 17 that has made what I was doing glaringly obvious to me:
Six days later Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light. Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus. Peter exclaimed, “Lord, it’s wonderful for us to be here! If you want, I’ll make three shelters as memorials—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
It must have thrilled Peter to have Jesus motion for him, along with James and John, to join Him in His regular practice of getting away from the crowds to be with His Father. The honor of being handpicked to accompany the Master may have helped propel him up that tall mountain, over the jagged rocks and prickly brush. At some point of the ascent though, what the three disciples see surpasses any of the miracles and signs they had seen during their time with Him. Jesus becomes literally radiant with the glory of God! To add to the shock of seeing the Master they have walked with, talked with, and eaten with shining bright as the sun, Moses and Elijah, two of the most revered men in Jewish history, appear before their eyes. Peter is absolutely starstruck! Feeling the need to speak at this auspicious occasion, he rattles off a hastily devised plan involving his efforts to commemorate this event properly. Oh yeah, and Jesus, could you sign off on this work order so we can get started with construction a.s.a.p.? “What a great plan! Thanks, man!” was what I’m sure Peter was expecting to hear.
If God the Father were from the South, He may have said, “Bless your heart, Peter” while shaking His head. Instead, He interrupts Peter’s PowerPoint presentation with a clear declaration of who this Person standing before them is. He does what the Father does so well…He glorifies His Son.
But even as he spoke, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.”
What tender affection and honor! This event wipes away any doubt the disciples may have harbored as to who Jesus really is. He is the One that they would give their lives for…completely. He is the only One worthy of that kind of sacrifice. The Father establishes a memorial in their hearts that would outlast any pile of bricks and sticks Peter or anyone else could build. He follows up with a command that is the only reasonable response to this revelation: “Listen to Him.”
For a good portion of my Christian life (nearly 30 years), I did not want to listen to Him. Sure, I wanted to serve Him because I knew the alternative was not pleasant. I also enjoyed all the promises in the Bible that give comfort in a mighty uncomfortable world. However, I shrank away from the torn veil of the temple. I did not want to enter in and listen to Him because that would mean I would be accountable to do anything He told me to do. I gave a lot of time and effort to “honoring” Him who saved my soul by doing a lot of stuff. That seemed like the right thing to do. I wanted the privileges of being “obedient” in doing those things as His child, but I didn’t want the responsibilities that I knew came with a closer relationship with Him. Boy, what a bill of goods I allowed the enemy to sell me! What I traded to have a safer relationship with Him was the tender intimacy that comes with leaning on His chest listening to His heart beat. Until the Holy Spirit revealed it to me, I was unable to see that the fear of complete surrender was quite literally choking the life out of me. He made me understand the precious time we spend together cultivating an intimate relationship is the place where I find the joy, grace, and mercy to do anything for Him. He desires to wrap me up in that holy cloud of His presence again and again to assure me of who Jesus is and to remind me to lean in to Him to hear what He has to say to me. Watch as this scene wraps up.
The disciples were terrified and fell face down on the ground. Then Jesus came over and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” And when they looked up, Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus.
Jesus walks over to them, while their eyes are squeezed shut and their bodies are pressed into the mountain, and tells them, “Get up. Do not be afraid.” The Father has just instructed them to listen to Him, and the very first thing He tells them to do is to stand up and to not be scared. They raise themselves up at His bidding and look around to find…just Jesus. The only One they need. The One sent to reveal the Father’s heart to them, to us.
Entering into His pure and clean presence had frightened me too. But looking up into the eyes of Jesus made me fall hopelessly and madly in love with the Lover of my soul. Being desperately in love enables you to do crazy, impossible things…including laying down your life. That kind of love, that passion, is not sustained by casual conversations or occasional Twitter mentions. It comes from time spent at His feet, in His word, listening to Him.
Looking back, I realize I would never be satisfied with anything less than what I experienced as a little child in that Sunday school room. I was ruined in the most beautiful way. Nothing less than being with Him would do. And because He’s the One who does exceedingly abundantly more than anything I could ask or imagine, He wasn’t content with just being with me. He has made it crystal clear that He dwells in me, inhabits my innermost being. That reality messes with my mind, but it’s true and I won’t declare that it’s any less than that.
So, what does this mean to us? Well, if you’re like me and many people I’ve spoken to recently who have felt that resistance to yielding to His voice because you’re afraid of what will be required of you, let me encourage you. The unmatched joy of hearing His voice, of being close to His heart, helps to drive away the ruthless deception of our enemy. Obedience becomes glorious and not a burden. It will ruin you for anything less than His glory in your life. That’s because our Father knows what the enemy also knows: If you actually do listen to Him, what you hear will transform your life forever. For your good and His glory. That, my friends, is worth shouting from the rooftops!