Monthly Archives: June 2013

A Little More

TODAY, MAY I .. .

Actively care a little more about those I interact with

Try a little harder to really live like Jesus

Open my mouth to connect with strangers a little more

Encourage my loved ones a little more

Express a little more gratitude

Listen a little more.  Be willing to learn and grow

Give the pets a few more scratches of affection

Pray a little more for those in need

Bow before my Creator a little more

Fight evil a little harder

Take a small step of faith more

 

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Living Differently

May I live fearlessly this day —

Stepping out boldly

Because I belong to the LAND that is solid.

May I live confidently this day —

Acting with strength

Because that the one in me is greater than the one in the world.

May I live passionately this day —

Making each moment a reverent celebration of God

May I live gratefully this day —

Loving, serving, pouring myself out

Because I am aware of the infinite miracle of being saved

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Song Based on Ps 145

New Zealand pix by Hamilton Von Weigand

New Zealand pix by Hamilton Von Weigand

I will exalt you, my God and my king

Forever and ever your name I will praise

Every day your blessings I’ll sing

Gladly extolling your name for all days

Yes, gladly extolling your name for all days

 

Most worthy of praise is the Lord who is great

So awesome beyond what we can comprehend

One generation to next will relate

Your mighty deeds they will laud and commend

Your mighty deeds they will laud and commend

 

They’ll say you’re majestic with glorious splendor

I will dwell on amazing things done

They will tell of your works, awesome power

I’ll declare your great deeds to each one

Yes, I’ll declare your great deeds to each one.

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June 28, 2013 · 1:13 pm

The Immeasurable Love

MilkyWayFalling

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.”  (Romans 5:6)

At just the right time:  God’s timing is always right.  It is like the harvest.  Crops must grow, and cannot be harvested until they are ripe.  God sent Jesus at the perfect moment in history.  But also, God reached out to each one of us and we encountered Christ at just the right time in life, at the time when we desperately needed a savior.

Powerless:  weak, without strength, utterly helpless.  If this was just referring to a physical infirmity, it would not be as impressive.  But Christ came and loved us when we were weak in character, being actively destructive in our own lives, and in the lives of others.  We were ruining our lives with drinking, overeating, bitterness, laziness, caught up in shallow pursuits.  We were hurting others by not caring about them, leading them into our life of destruction, cutting them down, promoting ourselves at their expense.

Ungodly:  Thus, we were wicked sinners.  More than that, our despicable behavior stemmed from an irreverence for God.  At the beginning of Romans, Paul talks about how men knew there was a Creator, but they refused to honor him or give him thanks, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  We were people who lived our life as if there was no God, as if we had not been given the gift of life, of material sustenance, of living in the beauty of His creation, and so much more.  Like children who rebelled against the parents who lovingly provided so much for them, our headstrong ways spit in the face of God.

“Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  (Rom 5:7-8)

Christ gave everything he had for us.  I give someone my time and service in doses.  Christ gave without stopping, all the way until it was painful beyond words, all the way until his body gave out and he had nothing left to give.

And he did this while people condemned him, mistreated him and mocked him.  By their actions, they didn’t deserve anything good from him, and neither do we.  Our actions have been just as reprehensible.  Yes Jesus still came to us at a point in our lives and said, “Come, follow me.”

A few weeks ago a dog attacked Ken and bit him.  It is hard to think of loving this dog.  There are people who have hurt me and mistreated me, abused me. It is hard to think of loving them, much less giving to them.  Would I happily have them over to dinner?  Would I volunteer to go over and clean their house?  Would I share my life with them?  Would I empty out my bank account for them?

But this is what Jesus did.  This kind of love goes further than the human definition of love.  It is a divine love.  It is a love that defies understanding.

It’s all about loving the unlovable. God loved Hitler.  He loves the terrorist who kills his neighbor.  He loves the politician who tears his opponent to pieces.  He loves the child abuser.

In love so vast, so high and wide and deep, Jesus died for the African who hacked others to death with a machete.  He died for the name-calling racist.  He died for the North Korean who put people in prison camps for life.

And he died for me.  I am no different.  I’ve pursued my selfish wants on a single track.  I’ve hurt others.  I’ve actively hurt myself over and over again.  I’ve wished for evil.  I’ve brought the worst into the lives of loved ones.

And yet He loves me. It is a love that is like the far reaches of the universe.  I just can’t fathom something a million light years away.  And I can’t fathom Jesus shedding every drop of his lifeblood for me. The God who can make a universe that is so mind boggling is in His very nature mind boggling.

Love that is big enough to die for a sinner.  Love that is big enough to listen to the prayers and care about the 7,000,000,000 people alive today.  Love big enough to orchestrate my life, in the midst of all of the needs of all of those people and the needs of running the universe.  Love that is big enough to speak life changing words to me in a whisper.  Love that is big enough to adopt weak broken souls and take them to a place of eternal riches.

Without a love like this, there is no hope.  But with it, all things are possible, and life takes on a vibrant beauty that is glorious.

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The Power of the Resurrection

I saw a video a few days about about a man who was pronounced dead, but then the doctor was moved to go back and pray and try one more time to resuscitate the dead patient.  The effort was successful, and the man went on to live a happy life, with no evidence of brain damage.  This happening is absolutely incredible. something that almost never happens.

What kind of power does it take to raise someone from the dead?  No man can do it.  Sure, in the hospital they can shock someone back into existence who has been dead a few minutes, but even that is iffy.  Circumstances have to be right.  No human has the power of life and death.

And Jesus was dead for three days.  The longest we’ve ever heard of for someone who is dead to be brought back to life is around 20 minutes. The body of Jesus would probably have started to decay.  He wasn’t a computer to be rebooted.  Once things in a living creature have shut down, they go into decline.  They cannot come back to life.  It has never happened.

“Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. 

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.”  (From John 20)

God has the power to reanimate.  We are in awe that God could control lightening, tornadoes — the most powerful aspects of weather.  We are in awe that He could cause earthquakes, volcanoes; that mountains could rise through His power.  But that is nothing compared to the power of LIFE.

Scientists can clone, but they cannot create the spark of life.  Even if you believe in evolution, you don’t know how the first simple organisms were brought to life from the “primordial soup.”   It is a scientific quandary that no one can replicate.

Today, I am going to get with someone and try to help them by looking at what they are powerless to do, and what they have the power to do.  We’ll talk about taking personal responsibility.  We’ll talk about the Serenity Prayer.

And it’s important to have this discussion because there are things we are powerless against.  There are things that only God can change.

That is why it is so vital to see that Jesus was absolutely dead, and that one of the most powerful things in the whole history of the universe happened.  He absolutely came back to life.  He wasn’t a ghost or spiritual apparition.  He physically came back.  They could identify his wounds.  He ate.

The power of God goes even further than this, though.  God brought Jesus all the way to heaven.  He set Jesus above every other power, physical or spiritual.  God doesn’t just have the power of life, the greatest power in the world, he has the greatest power in the spiritual realm.

“That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.”  (Eph 1:19)

So this “incredibly great power” is available to us.  That means we can pray and access God’s power on our behalf.  There is nothing God can’t do.

And it means that we can have colossal inner power.  God can strengthen us so that Christ can dwell in our hearts.  (Eph 3:17) We can grasp “how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” and be “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Eph 3:18-19)

We have the power to say no to sin.  We have the power to persevere through all kinds of challenge and hardship, to be joyful in the toughest circumstances.  We have the power to love the unlovable.  We have the power to grow in the areas of our character that we felt powerless to change.

God brought Jesus back to life.  God has brought each of us who are disciples back from death to life, and our citizenship is in heaven.  And the more we die to self, the more the power of the resurrection, the power that takes us not only out of the grave, but all the way to the heights of heaven, can be manifested in us.”

“For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body”.  (II Cor 4:11)

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  (II Cor 12:9-10)

The power of the resurrection.  Jesus being raised from the dead shattered the limits of human capabilities.  How can we live a feeble, normal life?  Since we have this power, let us live with strength and boldness.  “So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Heb 13:6)

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Living Fearlessly

THOUGHTS ON REVELATIONS 21:1-6

“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

I will live fearlessly because I am not subject to the law of entropy.  Though the whole universe is decaying around me, I am renewed inwardly day by day. (II Cor 4:16) And ultimately, God’s order will supplant chaos.  His holiness will replace all I fear.  THIS is what is solid.  This is the only real future there is.

“Arise, shine; for your light has come,
And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
..

No longer will you have the sun for light by day,
Nor for brightness will the moon give you light;
But you will have the LORD for an everlasting light,
And your God for your glory.
  (From Is 60)

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.

I will live fearlessly because I will NEVER be alone, unwanted, abandoned.  I belong.  And more than that, God, who is real to me, but also invisible, will be right there with me.

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

I will live fearlessly because everything that causes me grief now will be gone — the inner weakness and pain of moodiness and negativity, the feelings of worthlessness, the crush of failure, the feelings of powerlessness.  All of these things will be gone.

“He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

I will live fearlessly, because I can leave the emotional baggage and the cynicism behind.  I need not be ruled by the past.  I will have a new start.  The world will have a new start.

Everything that represents failure to me is passing away, it is but an illusion.

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Some Thoughts on Comfort

IMG_1210

When is it okay to be comfortable?

“It’s important to me that I don’t get so safe and comfortable in my life that I forget that the majority of the world doesn’t live that way. Being careful not to love my surroundings or things too much just keeps me ready to move.” 

This was written by Mary Allison, who at the age of 59 just left the States and moved to Santiago, Chile, where she and her husband now lead the church.  When they took the challenge to move there, she didn’t even speak Spanish!

So there is a “bad” kind of comfort.  The kind that keeps us from answering God’s call to action.

And then there is a good kind of comfort, the kind that involves freedom from guilt!  What is freedom?  I spent some time this past week talking with a friend who is Chinese about what freedom means to Americans.  Freedom is something we hold as one of our most sacred values.  To Americans, freedom means being free from the control of others, specifically in our revolution, from despotic rulers.

But we can be free of the control of others, and still not really free.  There are other things we are controlled by.  I have spent much of my Christian life controlled by guilt, a need to achieve, a performance mentality.  It has been a wonderful growth in my life to not be motivated by these things, but instead, by the right things.  This truly is the best time of my life, a time when I am not twisted with the feeling that I should be doing more, when I don’t have the looming presence of “should” like a dark cloud over me all the time.

“If you serve to get free of your fear, you are doomed to failure.” 

Henry Cloud wrote this in his book that has become a Christian classic:  “Boundaries.”  Cloud goes on to say, “The point is this: we were called into freedom, and this freedom results in gratitude, an overflowing heart, and love for others.  To give bountifully has great reward.”

As I was been doing soul searching regarding the possibility of taking a job, I realized what was at the heart of my uneasiness.  I saw that I can use the busyness of a job, or any pursuit, as a way to hide from doing what is most important to me to do.  It is much more comfortable to stay occupied with the activity that is readily available than to push myself into sharing my faith, having new friends over,  spending time with someone who is struggling, etc.

THAT is what I want to avoid.  It isn’t that I don’t want a job, but I don’t want the allow the job to keep me distracted from what I’ve decided is really important.

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be required” (Luke 12:48)  I was reading the paper yesterday about a married couple who has just given the largest gift ever, $40,000,000, to Auburn’s School of Business.  They said they did it because of the principle of this verse.

God has given me sooooo much, and I do want to give back.  I want to be poured out like wine upon the altar.  I want to get out of the boat of comfort for him and walk on the water of faith.

But I want to do all of these things from a place of comfort with God.  I want to get uncomfortable because my comfort, my peace and security, is in Him.  My freedom is in Him. I want to take comfort in all of the goodness that is God — His single-minded sacrificial love for me,  His providence, His beauty, His plan for me, His belief in me.  I want to bask in the warm blanket of grace that surrounds me.

His peace is as vast as the ocean at dawn

His goodness is as abundant as trees laden with sweet fruit

His sovereignty is like a the course of a stream

Mary Allison shunned her personal comfort, and at an age close to retirement, moved across the world to serve.  Yet I would say that she is happy in this move, not struggling with it.  She considers it a great blessing.

May we all be willing to do this, stepping out of our comfort zone from a place of strength, living out with joy the definition of who we are as disciples on the Disciples Today web site:  “We are on a journey to that future life exploring the incredible plans God has for us on earth to love Him and to love others.”

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