Thursday, July 31, 2008

Afraid To Ask

Mark 9:30-32 (NIV)
30 They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were,
31 because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, "The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise."
32 But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.

They were afraid to ask. Jesus had been short with them before when they failed to understand. Most of the time He seemed patient, but now and then… Maybe it was just better to them not to ask this time. Ever been at that place?

Are there times when it seems better not to know? If we ignore certain things, can we be held responsible? If we avoid thinking about certain things or situations, do they go away?

Are there some things or areas that we don’t ask God about?

We might be afraid to hear the answer, afraid it might not be what we seek. Maybe that was why they chose not to ask. Perhaps that applies to us sometimes as well.

It is said, “God’s answers are wiser that our prayers.”

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Believing

Mark 9:21-24 (NIV)
21 Jesus asked the boy's father, "How long has he been like this?" "From childhood," he answered.
22 "It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us."
23 "'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes."
24 Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"

The disciples were unable to heal this boy. Jesus arrives and asks what is going on. The father tells of his disappointment at the hands of his followers. He has struggled with his son’s affliction for a long time. Imagine seeing your child’s face on this man’s son. What helplessness and agony would be present every day? The possibility for healing had raised his hopes for his son, but that had not happened.

But hope is not gone. The father asks Jesus for help “if you can”. Jesus answers: “Everything is possible for him who believes.” Without hesitation the father responds with an answer that expresses an important truth about believing and following Jesus.

“I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief!”

When we believe in Jesus we become children of God. We are immediately transferred from death to life. That is the gift. We don’t have to fully know all there is to know about God, or pass a test before we are brought into the kingdom of God. We simply place our trust in Him. Then a wonderful journey begins.

Overcoming unbelief is a process that applies to all of us, a part of walking with God. Our experiences in life give us the opportunity to learn the meaning of believing. We can experience God in many ways as we walk along the path of life. If we keep ourselves close to Him, He brings us through all things. In this journey we learn to believe. Witness the journey of the disciples. Understanding and change came slowly, but it came. Our walk is no different. Belief grows and solidifies with each step toward Him. He will help us on our way.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Some

Mark 9:1 (NIV)
1 And he said to them, "I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power."

The sad thing about this otherwise cause for celebration is that Jesus says only some will see the kingdom of God. The kingdom He spoke of was unfolding before them all but not everyone would realize that fact. They could not or would not accept His word or even believe the miracles made possible with the power of God. It ran contrary to their thinking, expectations, experiences, and desires. It made no sense to them. They would not listen to such foolishness.

The disciples wrestled with the same issues but they stayed with Jesus, seeking to grasp that understanding which seemed just beyond their reach. Jesus remained with them, shaping them by His words and deeds. They listened and watched.

Understanding would come. The gate to the kingdom of God was brought close and flung open by the power of the resurrection and of the Holy Spirit for those who believe. Death gave way to the life of God. Darkness receded from His light.

This very day some will see the kingdom of God. Some will experience the power. Some will listen to the urging in their heart. Some will seek God. Those who do will find Him.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

In Our Own Image

Mark 8:27-32 (NIV)
27 Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, "Who do people say I am?"
28 They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets."
29 "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" Peter answered, "You are the Christ."
30 Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.
31 He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.
32 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.

Peter tells Jesus that He is the Christ. On the surface this appears to indicate that the disciples have fully understood His teaching and purpose. We might rejoice in this breakthrough except the next verses bring us to the realization that their understanding is only partial. Peter used the right word for his answer but he does not rightly understand what it means.

Jesus begins to teach them the true meaning which does not match their idea or expectation of the Christ. Peter, in his bold fashion, pulls Jesus to the side to tell Him He has it all wrong. He doesn’t want to embarrass Jesus, but Jesus is not making sense. He wants to set Him straight. We know that Peter’s intentions were good but this didn’t make him right. No wonder Jesus did not want them to tell anyone about him. Their understanding of him was incomplete.

I wonder if the same thing might happen today. If one person were to ask another if they are a Christian, the answer given may be yes, but without knowing or being in agreement with what it means to be a Christian nothing is gained by the question or answer.

Our understanding of what it means to be a Christian should be based on the life, teachings, and revelation of God as revealed in His Word. It is not based on what works best for us or how it might fit into our plans, but how we fit into the plan of God. We are to put on Christ, not mold Him into our own image.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A New Creation Arises

If God be for us, whom should we fear?
If God be against us, there is everything to fear.

He is our strong fortress
An ever present help
More than able
His love endures forever
His mercy flows
Into this parched land
Of dry bones
Brought back to life
Wrapped in the Spirit
Drawn close
Reborn and restored
A new creation arises

Fear

1 John 4:18 (NIV)
18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

1 John 4:18 (MSG)
18 There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.

Matthew 10:28 (NIV)
28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Matthew 10:28 (MSG)
28 "Don't be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies. There's nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life—body and soul—in his hands.

These scriptures may seem contradictory at first but they really are talking about two different things. They have been translated fear, or afraid, but two different Greek words are used. The Greek word in 1 John, phobos, refers to the meaning we usually associate with being frightened, or terrified of something negative. Here the main objects of fear are death and judgment. John refers to the love that has overcome death and judgment. Anyone who accepts Christ should no longer be subject to fear. The realization of that love and peace may be more gradual for some, but both are like bodies of still, deep water. We are able to immerse ourselves, but we will never touch the bottom.

The verse in Matthew uses the Greek word f√≥bon, which speaks of awe and reverence. We should never forget that God is the Creator and the magnitude of what was done for us in Christ. His power and mercy are available for all. That power overcame death. Mercy overcame judgment. Our life is in His hands. Our destiny hinges on the understanding of that reality. We should be careful to not to take anything for granted but instead be humble and full of thanksgiving for this awesome privilege of being allowed to become sons and daughters of God. Our fear should be for those who don’t accept this true reality, either because of ignorance or outright rejection. But all things are possible for God and love can overcome all things.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.

Friday, July 25, 2008

What Does It Mean?

Mark 9:2 (NKJV)
2 Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them.

Mark 9:9-10 (NKJV)
9 Now as they came down from the mountain, He commanded them that they should tell no one the things they had seen, till the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
10 So they kept this word to themselves, questioning what the rising from the dead meant.

The question that the disciples wrestled with is at the core of Christian belief. The responses to this event are varied. They range from acceptance and joy by believers to ridicule by scoffers. What does it mean that Jesus was raised from the dead?

It means that what God said is true. Death is not the end. God is real. We will be raised like Him. We have meaning and purpose. There is a reason. There is hope and peace. There is life.

The answer is found in His Word. What it means is an unfolding revelation as we journey through life. Each day holds the promise of God for those who seek Him. Each moment and encounter holds a blessing for eyes that see and a heart that longs for God.

Every day also contains the freedom of choice. Each decision is either for or against God. Each person must ask this question of themselves. The Word has been spoken. A sign has been given. The choice of life or death is before every person. What does it mean to you?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Present With Power

Mark 9:1 (NKJV)
1 And He said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power."

Mark 9:1 (YLT)
1 And he said to them, `Verily I say to you, That there are certain of those standing here, who may not taste of death till they see the reign of God having come in power.'

Jesus says these words to His disciples just before He takes Peter, John, and James to the mountain where He is transfigured before their eyes. I think the transfiguration was a glimpse of the glory to come. His three companions were able to view Jesus in His true form. Later they would come to realize this to be insight on their own transformation. We will be like Him.

The kingdom of God was yet to come. It would arrive when God comes in the power of the Holy Spirit. Once Jesus arose and returned to heaven, the Holy Spirit was given. Jesus referred to Himself as the bread of life. Just as the previous feeding of the multitudes with a few loaves, His body is broken and sacrificed for all. All who hunger will be satisfied.

Death is overcome by Jesus, the Son of God, and the gates to heaven are opened wide. The Spirit of God was poured out for all that would accept this gift of life. The kingdom is established and begins to grow. The kingdom of God is truly present with power. We see it and receive it through the Holy Spirit.

May our eyes grow stronger
Our hearts grow larger
And your kingdom fully come to and through us

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Ashamed

Mark 8:38 (NIV)
38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels."

Mark 8:38 (MSG)
38 "If any of you are embarrassed over me and the way I'm leading you when you get around your fickle and unfocused friends, know that you'll be an even greater embarrassment to the Son of Man when he arrives in all the splendor of God, his Father, with an army of the holy angels."

We want to be included, to be accepted by those around us. After all, we were made for community, for fellowship. Perhaps everyone has had the experience of not speaking out on a particular matter for fear of ridicule or rejection. The desire to be like everyone else can be intense. It can be easy to see this in our children as they begin to chase after the latest thing, or the “in” brands. It may not be so easy to see this in ourselves as adults. We want to fit in and not be different.

But Jesus does call for us to be different. We are to be the light of the world. That does not leave much room for excuses. As we mature our identity should be more based on being children of God than children of the world around us. We should gratefully take joy for this privilege; for it is a most precious gift that God has given. Let us live in a way that gives honor and glory to God.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Choose Life

Mark 8:34-36 (NIV)
34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.
36 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?

Another word that can be substituted for life in the above passage is self. When we are able to leave behind the focus on self and look beyond our own definition of who we are, we are in a position will truly find ourselves. Our true being is revealed in the Word of God. We are not creatures of our own imagination. Nor are we to find ourselves in the latest theories of man, or the expectations of those around us. The wisdom of the world is like a tree that is rotten in the center, seemingly healthy on the outside but destined to fall in the slightest wind of close examination.

But if we put away false ideas of self, ego, and the world, and follow Jesus, we gain freedom and life without end. We lose the things which only serve to bind us in the clutches of deception. Either way our old life is lost. It is up to us to decide. I choose life.

Monday, July 21, 2008

You Have No Idea

Mark 8:31-33 (MSG)
31 He then began explaining things to them: "It is necessary that the Son of Man proceed to an ordeal of suffering, be tried and found guilty by the elders, high priests, and religion scholars, be killed, and after three days rise up alive."
32 He said this simply and clearly so they couldn't miss it. But Peter grabbed him in protest.
33 Turning and seeing his disciples wavering, wondering what to believe, Jesus confronted Peter. "Peter, get out of my way! Satan, get lost! You have no idea how God works."

The disciples struggle to understand. Even when Jesus speaks very plainly about His upcoming ordeal, it is even more plain they are not ready to hear His words. Peter voices what the rest of the disciples are thinking. Peter tries to correct Jesus. What Jesus says does not conform to his expectations.

Jesus corrects Peter in even stronger terms. Jesus sees this opposition to God’s will no differently than His encounter with Satan in the wilderness. His closest companions reveal their lack of understanding of God’s will.

The same struggle takes place in us today. Even on this side of the resurrection, how God works and is working is more often than not a mystery. Our understanding and expectations can get in the way. Many things do not make sense to us. Sometimes we might think our way would be so much better. But isn’t that what caused all this heartache in the first place?

We are no different than those disciples. The same misunderstandings and resistance exist in us. God is beyond our ideas. I am glad this is the case. He is not confined to our ideas and neither are we when we place our trust in Him. He saves us when we could not. He makes a way where there is no way. We cannot in our collective imagination anticipate what richness and blessing lie before us, for God is beyond our dreams as well.

Friday, July 18, 2008

In You We Are More

Lord
Your Word says to seek You first and all things will be added.
We bring our request to You
For You can do all things
You grant us the desires of our heart
Our desire is for You
Open that path before us
Let Your comfort envelope their hearts
And Your peace unfold within
We know You listen and answer our prayers
We call on Your name
We who have been made Your children
Through the gift of Your love
We lay all that we have and all that we are before You
In You we are more
Like broken bread, we are multiplied
There will be no end
Strengthen us
We will walk with you though the shadows grow long
In Jesus' name
Amen

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Do You See Anything?

Mark 8:22-26 (NIV)
22 They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him.
23 He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man's eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, "Do you see anything?"
24 He looked up and said, "I see people; they look like trees walking around."
25 Once more Jesus put his hands on the man's eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.
26 Jesus sent him home, saying, "Don't go into the village."

This account precedes Jesus asking the disciples who they think He is. They have been with Him and listened to His teaching. They are beginning to see, but like this blind man who is healed in stages their eyes are only beginning to be opened. Understanding is a process. Jesus does not give up on this blind man and his sight is restored. He does not give up on us either. He is faithful and will complete the work of transformation and salvation for all who place their faith in Him. One day we will all see everything clearly.

Jesus sends the man back to his home, but tells him: “Don’t go into the village.” Jesus probably did not want draw attention to Himself. The cross looms close at hand. A little more time is needed to open the eyes of the disciples.

We have been given time that our eyes might be opened as well. We don’t have forever to understand or decide. The end of our life is close at hand. Our time on earth will come to an end sooner or later.

What do you see?


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

In the Boat, Yet Missing the Boat

Mark 8:13-18 (NIV)
13 Then he left them, got back into the boat and crossed to the other side.
14 The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat.
15 "Be careful," Jesus warned them. "Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod."
16 They discussed this with one another and said, "It is because we have no bread."
17 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: "Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened?
18 Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don't you remember?

Jesus had just denied giving a sign from heaven to the Pharisees. They should have been able to see who He was by what had already been done in His message and healing. Their motivation was not for the things of God.

Jesus warns them using another parable. Yeast, or leaven, was used to make bread. A portion of the dough from the previous batch was saved and used to start a new loaf. The American Heritage Dictionary offers these two definitions:

  1. An agent, such as yeast, that causes batter or dough to rise, especially by fermentation.
  2. An element, influence, or agent that works subtly to lighten, enliven, or modify a whole.

Jesus was warning the disciples of the negative influences of their world. The Pharisees are representative of the religious realm and Herod is representative of the political realm. They both display the affect of fallen man. He came to bring us back to God and to establish His kingdom. This is not happily or readily received by many.

Though the disciples have been with Jesus and seen many miracles, His words confused them. Though they were in the boat with Him, they were still missing the boat on who He is and what He is saying. That can happen to any of us. We can get too immersed in the world and fail to hear His words. We can forget the things we know. We can be influenced when we are not paying attention. May we be mindful of that today. We don’t want to miss the boat.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Compassion for These People

Mark 8:1-3 (NIV)
1 During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said,
2 "I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat.
3 If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance."

Jesus fed another large crowd not long ago in this Gospel. Two things were quite different in this case. Jesus brings up His concern for their hunger. Earlier the disciples had brought up the matter of feeding the crowd, urging Jesus to send them away to get food. Secondly, this time the crowd is made up of Gentiles, not Jews.

In these two accounts I believe the message is that Jesus came to feed and bring the Gospel to everyone, not just the Jews. The good news is for everyone. The disciples would have naturally been more concerned with their own people. Were they not chosen by God Himself? Here Jesus makes a statement that speaks to all people and of why He came.

He tells them, “I have compassion for these people;”

You and I are included
His love endures forever

Monday, July 14, 2008

Where Are You?

Genesis 3:8-9 (NIV)
8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
9 But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?"

God comes to the place where He expects to find the man, but the man and his wife are not there. Instead of joyfully receiving His Company in the cool of the day, they flee His presence and hide behind the trees in the garden. Disobedience has brought guilt, fear, and shame.

God called out, “Where are you?”

He came again in the man Jesus. He did not come to the place we should be, but where we are, in a fallen world subject to the heat of sin and disobedience. He calls to us with His offer of our return to the garden. His peace and forgiveness are before us. The question is the same:

"Where are you?"

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Beloved, Be Love


The essence of Christianity can be summed up:


Love and be loved
To God be the glory


Giving and receiving love
Are two sides of the same thing
One does not exist without the other
In love we are one
With God and with one another
His love endures forever
In this we have life

Friday, July 11, 2008

Our Resting Place

Psalms 62:5-8 (NIV)
5 Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.
6 He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
7 My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
8 Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Selah

Psalms 62:5-8 (MSG)
5 God, the one and only— I'll wait as long as he says. Everything I hope for comes from him, so why not?
6 He's solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul, An impregnable castle: I'm set for life.
7 My help and glory are in God —granite-strength and safe-harbor-God—
8 So trust him absolutely, people; lay your lives on the line for him. God is a safe place to be.

Our rest is in Him
Our life is in Him
As we pour out our hearts to Him
He pours in His love and Spirit
This is our rock and salvation
Our resting place
We with Him

He in us

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Now We Can Get There

Mark 7:20-23 (NIV)
20 He went on: "What comes out of a man is what makes him 'unclean.'
21 For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery,
22 greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.
23 All these evils come from inside and make a man 'unclean.'"

Mark 7:20-23 (MSG)
20 He went on: "It's what comes out of a person that pollutes:
21 obscenities, lusts, thefts, murders, adulteries,
22 greed, depravity, deceptive dealings, carousing, mean looks, slander, arrogance, foolishness—
23 all these are vomit from the heart. There is the source of your pollution."

Jesus is responding to a question of what makes a man acceptable to God. The teachers of the law are offended and complaining because the disciples are not following the traditions handed down from their elders. They are good at the form of the law, but not so good at the spirit of the law. Because the disciples have not properly washed, they see an unclean act. An unclean act makes one unacceptable to God, but they are not truly able to see.

Jesus corrects them. What makes a person unclean in God’s sight comes from the heart. We all have one and we are all capable of behaving in ways that remove us from God. It is the heart that God looks to and the heart that will be judged. If left on our own, our prospects are hopeless. We cannot get there from here.

The good news is that Jesus came that our hearts would be made clean and acceptable to God. What is impossible for us is accomplished by the Father’s will and the Son’s sacrifice on our behalf. Now there is a way to get there, only we start from a different place. When we put our faith in Jesus we are immediately brought close to God. The journey then is a walk with Him. Now we can get there.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Traditions of Men

Mark 7:5-9 (NIV)
5 So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, "Why don't your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with 'unclean' hands?"
6 He replied, "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: "'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
7 They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'
8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men."
9 And he said to them: "You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!

It is easy for our own thoughts and ways to become added to the Word of God. In the garden story, Eve adds to God’s command not to eat of a certain tree. She told the serpent that they were forbidden to touch it, which was not what God said. As the discussion continued, she was drawn away by words that appealed to her, but which took her focus from God to self. The result is a fallen world.

Jesus speaks harshly to these leaders of a faith that has been diluted and made useless. They have so embraced and elevated the words of man that they obscure the Word of God. They have traded the Holy for the mundane. The result is worship in vain.

The question for us is what are we holding on to? Are we holding hands with things of man and the world? Spending time in His Word will allow for closer walk with Him. The result will be a heart closer to God. That is one tradition worthy of keeping.

May God richly bless you

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

How Many Loaves Do You Have?

Mark 6:35-43 (NIV)
35 By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. "This is a remote place," they said, "and it's already very late.
36 Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat."
37 But he answered, "You give them something to eat." They said to him, "That would take eight months of a man's wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?"
38 "How many loaves do you have?" he asked. "Go and see." When they found out, they said, "Five--and two fish."
39 Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass.
40 So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties.
41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all.
42 They all ate and were satisfied,
43 and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish.

Jesus continues to teach the disciples. He feeds a large group of people with very little, a miracle which speaks of the sufficiency of God; the One Who can do all things. Remember that Jesus is teaching them a new way of thinking and seeing the world. It takes time.

They see a need and offer a solution that makes sense to them. Jesus replies in a way that confounds them. “You give them something to eat.” They immediately see their poverty and can’t see the abundance before them in the person of the Son of God. They don’t see a way. Jesus then asks them, “How many loaves do you have?”

He takes what they have, blesses and breaks the loaves, and gives them back to the disciples. He divides the fish as well. The disciples take the food from Jesus’ hand to set before the people. The people eat their fill and are satisfied. The disciples end with more than they started with, there is a basket full for each of them.

Jesus is able to use us in miraculous ways. If we give Him what we have, He does things which go beyond our expectation and imagination. He takes the little we have to accomplish His work. Not only does He multiply what is offered to feed the people, the ones who offer what they have end up with so much more. May this word dwell inside us all that we might be more ready to rightly answer when Jesus asks us: “How many loaves do you have?”

Monday, July 7, 2008

Abiding Joy

John 15:6-11 (NASB)
6 "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.
7 "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
8 "My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.
9 "Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.
10 "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.
11 "These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

Abiding is a choice. The Father chooses to reach out for us, not wanting even one to be lost. If we choose to extend our hand in return, taking hold of His, we receive His love. His words and commandments will show us the way. The way is not one of a restricted life, but one which frees us of a restricted life without Him.

Jesus tells us that a result of abiding in Him will be joy. His joy is added to ours. His life is added to ours. This is the joy that He saw before Him on His way to the cross. He saw you and I being saved by His sacrifice. He saw you and I joining Him and the Father forever. He takes joy in our joy. The fullness of the Father and Son is ours, an ongoing, abiding joy.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Giving Life

If we choose Him, we choose life
We give Him ours
And receive His

This is love
That one would lay down his life for another

Friday, July 4, 2008

The Race

Mark 1:3 (NIV)
3 "a voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.'"

A life without benefit of the eternal view of God and heaven has some analogy to a motor racetrack. The most striking aspect is that the course doesn’t go any where; it is often oval in design, but is a closed track. So the participants go in something like a circle, round and round. Destination is not the point, but getting there faster than anyone else.

Part of the game is getting the winning edge. The racing contraption is constantly being tweaked through increased knowledge and experience. The pit crews strive to improve their efficiency. We do things so much better than ten or a hundred years ago. We know so much more.

We gather in the stands to cheer and pass a good time. The spectacle is full of entertainment, complete with loud noise, fast action, and the theater of man pitted against man. The focus is solely on the race. The world of the small track eclipses everything else.

There is more to life than the track. There is more to life than going round in circles. Knowledge does not equate to wisdom. Knowing about gravity will not save me if I wander off a cliff. If we allow ourselves to be consumed by this race we will find that we have missed our true calling and destination in life. His path is straight.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Arrogance

It is arrogance to say that reality is only what we see,
That what is real only exists by our measurement and understanding.
This has proven false time and again throughout our existence,
Yet there are always many who cling to this notion,
Perhaps finding comfort in a shrunken world,
Where man is self-sufficient,
Master of one’s own fate.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Masterpiece

God’s expression through each of us is unique
We work with Him to create a masterpiece
He is the Master
We are the piece

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Fields Of The Heart

When we turn our minds to Him, we are immediately at a disadvantage. We can only speak words of our own making, in constructs of our own device. Words and concepts, even divinely inspired, come from our mind. In seeking God, the finite seeks the infinite. Is that why God is felt and known in silence? Is that why faith is not adequately and justly explained in words?

Knowing by knowing
Alive in the living
The breath taken in
The wind of the Spirit
Blows across the landscape of the soul
Living water flows
Through the fields of the heart

Taking A Look

John 12:9 (MSG)
9 Word got out among the Jews that he was back in town. The people came to take a look, not only at Jesus but also at Lazarus, who had been raised from the dead.

There is irony in the first verse because the Word indeed had come to the Jews. The Son of God had arrived. But this was not the word that was understood by the people. It was their own word they spoke, announcing something to be looked at rather than heard.

They came to take a look. It would appear they did not come out of reverence, or in seeking, but to see something different, out of the ordinary. Maybe it was like coming across a beautiful shell on an otherwise empty stretch of beach. Maybe it was the entertainment value. Maybe it was just something shiny in the landscape which caught their eye.

We are called to be different like He is different. As receivers of the light in the world, we should be drawing others to His light reflected in our lives. In doing so, it may happen that some coming to look will see that light. Somebody is looking.