Resurrection Life

2 04 2018

What does the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, mean to you?

When I was a child it meant dressing up in a suit and tie with my newest pair of stiff penny loafers making my feet hurt. My sister adorned her new Easter dress and hat, an annual ritual. My mother drove us to town in her six-year-old 1954 four door yellow and white Buick. We walked through the huge red wooded doors, fit for a castle, to a room I remember her calling the Narthex…whatever that meant. It smelled old.

There we heard the story of God sending His only Son who would live three decades and now we celebrated his excruciating death on a cross with nails and a spear and blood. What a scene being described to a young boy sitting uneasily on an old wooden pew.

But it was Sunday and somehow the huge stone was rolled away and somehow the broken, bruised and dead Savior was now alive. His grave cloths were folded neatly and an angel was telling two women to not be afraid. I’d find myself imagining an angel that was large enough to move a gravestone was large enough to be crazy fearful of – yikes!

Today I see a totally different picture. I love how Luke writes about these events in the book of Acts, chapter thirteen. He describes the resurrection as a, “…fact that God raised Him [Jesus] from the dead never to decay,” quoting Isaiah fifty-five and Psalm sixteen. He goes on to share that since this Jesus is alive we now have forgiveness of sins, justification and eternal life.

Have you encountered the resurrected One? What does this “fact” mean to you?

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Does Your Heart Ache?

12 03 2018

A number of years ago my wife and I visited some churches in the nation of Rwanda. We were responding to an invitation to share marriage principles with these lovely, but broken people. Just leaving the airport, we were told by our hosts, “But first, you will visit the genocide museum.” Mary and I could hardly speak after seeing those images and reading about what happened in this war-torn nation. We were wrecked from the inside out and, quite honestly, our hearts ached. It was difficult to gather our emotional selves for the service that evening. As we looked into the Rwandan’s eyes that night, we wondered what images they carried with them.

Once again, a little over a year ago, I returned to that same country. On this visit, I listened to a young man who watched his father be hacked to death by another man whom he knew. Ten years had passed and the murderer was released from incarceration for his crime inflicted on my new friend’s father and family. He felt called by God to visit this man and extend his hand and heart of forgiveness toward him. Stunned, I sat there thinking and wondering to myself  if I could do the same.

But I relay this story for another reason. I want to ask you what your heart aches for? Does your heart ache when you view the news and see the KKK member blurting out his or her beliefs? Does your heart ache when you watch and disagree with the political candidate that you do not endorse or even like? Does your heart ache for that self-centered and mean boss or co-worker? Does your heart ache for the drug addict, suicide bomber or immigrant? And does your heart ache for that welfare recipient who is lying and taking advantage of the system? Or, is your response anger, irritation and criticism?

In the gospel of Matthew (chapter five), it is recorded that Jesus said to me and to you…love your enemies and pray for those who may hurt or persecute you. He said that the sun rises everyday for them as it does you and me. He said, even a tax collector can love if they are being loved. He said that if you only greet (love) your brothers, what is that? Jesus then said, even those outside the kingdom can comply with such efforts.

My paraphrase of these verses would go something like this: If you or I cannot look at that certain government official, the parent that deeply wounded, a past friend who has rejected you, someone with a different sexual orientation or a former spouse who lied about you…with love, compassion and have your heart ache for their soul, then how can we go to another nation and openly declare our love for those persons, those national leaders and those unfamiliar faces whom we do not know?

Paul once wrote to Timothy that he was at one time a blasphemer, a persecutor, a violent man, acting in ignorance and unbelief, but God’s grace was poured out on him.  Paul went on to say that he was one of the worst sinners who was shown mercy because Jesus came into the world to save those exact persons.  (See I Timothy 1: 13 – 17) That was me too. Thank God for sending His Son whose heart ached for mankind.





Praying For and Adjusting to the Slightly Imperfect

5 03 2018

Our family often had the nations around our table as our children grew up. We loved the cultural examples each one brought to us. I remember in particular a couple from Zimbabwe who we invited from a local college for Thanksgiving. In the middle of the meal the wife told us, “You throw away the best parts of the turkey.” We all had a great laugh because we do not eat the head, liver or the feet of a turkey. But we desired our children to know and understand that every life is valuable to God and His design for them. God’s kingdom is a kingdom of nations and nations represent people.

Proverbs 12 tells us, “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” What does your tongue bring to those around you, your co-workers and your acquaintances?  I am personally challenged by my thoughts (not often spoken, but still thought) that do not think the best of others or those thoughts which do not give those different from me the benefit of the doubt.  To have the privilege of traveling the world and to experience different cultures is enlightening, while at the same time difficult to not think comparatively, i.e., my culture vs. their culture.

I can remember being invited to a wedding in Central America that was to begin at 11:00 AM.  My wife and I were there and ready for the ceremony to begin at ten minutes before eleven o’clock.  The funny thing was, no one else was there other than a few people who were setting up.  I had my wife recheck the invitation and sure enough it said 11:00 AM.  The wedding actually began sometime after noon.  It was our introduction to a significant cultural difference.  It wasn’t wrong, just different.  Our North American mindsets needed to be desensitized so that we could accept the cultural norms of another nation.

How creative of God…warm cultures, cold cultures, on time cultures, fashionably late cultures, brash and bold cultures…all to His honor and glory,  All cultures representing differing characteristics and attributes of the nature of a loving Father. Did you know the word nations is found in the Bible 564 times? In the book of Revelation, chapter 21 reveals, “The glory and the honor of the nations will be brought into it [The New Jerusalem].”  The nations will be represented in that new city.

Thank you, Lord, for Your patience with us, our lack of understanding and proverbial comparisons. How You love the nations!

 

 

 

 





The Men In Your Life Are Looking For Respect

26 02 2018

Recently while in the nation of New Zealand, a friend pointed to a fellow teacher and said, “See that older gentleman?” I assured him that I did. He went on to explain, “I am younger than him and I am retired from teaching.” I asked why he chooses not to retire figuring the conversation was leading that way. My friend replied, “He tells me he wants to continue teaching because it is far better than going home and living with his critical wife.”

 

Men long for respect. Paul, the Apostle, admonished wives to respect their husbands. (Ephesians 5:33) A man can handle not being loved, but he cannot handle not being respected. I think God knew that about a man. If a man does not feel respected by his wife and family, he will stay at work longer, he will hang out at the bar after work or he’ll go to the fire company and loiter with the guys. Men don’t care if their friends do not express love, but if men feel disrespect it will be the demise of the relationship. Men do not need their supervisors to express any form of love, but they long to hear words of affirmation on a job well done – respect.

 

I read a recent study that indicated 74% of men would choose the preference of feeling unloved in the world around them rather than feeling disrespect. These men indicated they would choose to live with a wife who respected them, but did not love them. Do men need love? Of course, but the need for respect has a higher personal value. Consider this: Even while a sports team is performing poorly, they will still resonate with the female cheerleaders on the sideline pushing them forward with their optimistic, upbeat and affirming cheers.

 

Be a cheerleader in the life of your husband, your son, your brother or your Dad today.





Pursuing Personal Steps to Change and Healing

19 02 2018

 Wholeness is a lifelong pursuit.  Here are a few steps to help:

  1. If God were mean-spirited, angry and going to “get me,” I’d already be “got.” Instead, He placed all of His anger on His Son, on the cross and not on me.
  2. My heavenly Father planned me from eternity (Ephesians 1: 4) and He so much wanted me born that the family I was born into was/is inconsequential. The truth is, He so much desired a relationship with me, that according to Acts 17: 24-28 this is the time, the season and the place of all eternity that I would be on the earth.
  3. I was presented the gospel and I asked for forgiveness of my sin and received the unconditional love of my Savior, Jesus, and became born again.
  4. I stopped blaming my earthly parent; he/she was not perfect. The revelation from God is, “You were never a perfect son.” To this day, I am not a perfect father/mother or son/daughter. I had to let my earthly parent off the hook from perfection and realize he/she carried with him/her lots of generational pain and hurts themselves.
  5. The more of the love of God I received for myself, the more of the love of God I received for my earthly parents and family. I am a child of the King and a vital part of His kingdom and through me He changes culture, even family culture. I am an adopted son in which I now cry, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15)
  6. I was no longer in need of the approval of my earthly father or mother when I knew I had the approval of my heavenly Father. Romans 15:7 says, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you…”
  7. When my heavenly Father told His Son on the earth He was His beloved Son in whom He was well pleased, He also said that to me. My identity and my esteem were no longer in who I thought I should be, but in who I already was in Christ. I was destined for adoption as a son, according to His will and His purpose. (Ephesians 1: 5-6)
  8. Life is not about me, my stuff, my need for healing or my brokenness. If it were solely about me, I would still be broken and walk in the curses of the generations before me. Christ became a curse for me, so that the curses from my father’s father to my father, to me, and to my children are broken through His death on the cross. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us…” (Galatians 3:13)
  9. There is no longer a need for retribution or justification. What happened to me became a reason to pursue wholeness, maturity, security and sanctification in my God and His truth. I needed to get back at no one. Jesus took this need for human justification by being the only Just One that could actually justify. (Romans 3: 21-31) I am justified by faith.
  10. Today through health and healing, I set the boundaries. I speak the truth in love with respect and a spirit of honor.

Prayer For Healing

Dear Heavenly Father, out of my personal brokenness I have allowed things into my life known and unknown that do not honor You. I confess to You my need for ongoing healing and restoration. I give freedom to You or Your representative to help me step down into and expose my own sewers. I give permission for You, the One who was broken for me to reveal, to bring to light rebellion, deception, independence, insecurity, comparison, compulsions, guardedness, self-justification, pride, critical judgment of myself and others and any and all ungodly beliefs. I repent for any and all of these and trust You to do the work of healing that only You can do so thoroughly.

 I now come to renounce the beliefs, the thoughts, the emotions and the reactions that the evil one has perpetrated in my life from these beliefs. This is not who I am in You. For by Your grace I am a son/daughter, forgiven, regenerated, redeemed, restored and filled with the Holy Spirit of God no longer to be afflicted or harassed in these areas again. In Jesus’ name, Amen.





Five Powerful Responses to Our Government Leaders

12 02 2018

Politicians can be an especially difficult bunch due to their near truths or outright lies, placating, patronizing, cover-ups, political correctness and bottom line desire of being reelected.  You rarely know who is telling the truth today.  You especially rarely know the full truth because of a press that now also includes “fake news.”  Further, the news outlets often only report what will support their causes and their politicians.  It is why I love inside reports from Christian leaders I am acquainted with (throughout the world) who are in the know about so much of what is truthfully happening around the world.

It is the unshakable kingdom of God we serve first and foremost, not this world’s shakable kingdom.  It is this eternal kingdom that should draw the most passion from us in order to fulfill Matthew 28 in every nation of the world.  So, yes, I care about politics, but I also know how very shallow, surface, selfish and incorrect it can be at times.  It’s a challenge to not be distracted by the shakable kingdoms of this world.

It is easy to get on a bandwagon and rant and react, especially with the access of social media today. It is harder to find the truth, pray, search the scriptures and locate a godly response to these matters.  The latter takes a lot more time, more listening, more humility and less of a desire to be right.  It is good to remind ourselves Jesus lived in troubled times with a very ungodly government and ungodly religious system.

I know I am not a perfect example of this, but I am growing and desiring more grace for such situations. I desire to be a truth giver/teller that brings life and love with it. In an attempt to share with you God’s word on the matter of government, here are five key responses toward our governmental leaders:

 

  1. I urge, then first of all that requests, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  (I Tim 2: 1-4)

 

  1. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.  (I Peter 2:17)

 

  1. Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. (Rom 13:1)

 

  1. The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.  (Proverbs 21:1)

 

  1. Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.  (Titus 3: 1 – 2)

 

As Christ followers, we have a long way to go to do more listening, considering, growing and developing.  But there are many undeniable written words from God that do not and will not change with culture.  We are called to influence culture with Biblical truth. While our opinion may be valuable to some, it will not supernaturally change a life.

We are to be known by our love.  Love is not accepting everything that comes down the pike as a, “That’s OK if it works for you,” but loving even when we disagree strongly.  There is an inordinate amount of I John 2:1-8 going on in the world today, i.e., claiming to know God and to love Him, but unwilling to obey Him and His word because of its inconvenience to personal sin or cultural belief.

Let us be reminded of the “rulers” that we are actually struggling against as Paul wrote, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”





Where Did You Develop Your Beliefs?

5 02 2018

Where did your beliefs come from? Have you ever thought about that question or do you just assume your beliefs are mostly correct? It’s a simple question that takes a fair amount of reflection.

Your family raised you with certain beliefs. Influential persons, while you were growing up, infected you with certain beliefs about yourself both good and not so good. You faced difficult times and such seasons of life challenges reinforced undeniable beliefs. Pain and sorrow had its effect. Rejection or being bullied also exposed firm beliefs about you.

Life has its way of forced training, mind manipulation and soul-searching encounters that have helped to craft your personal beliefs over your lifetime. Those beliefs can move you forward in a healthy fashion or stunt your growth by limiting the identification of truth.

There is a Biblical process called renewing the mind and the origination of that phrase is taken from a scripture found in Romans 12:2. From the point of your rebirth until your last breath on this earth, your mind is in the process of renewal. Why? Because your heavenly Father longs to bring you truth. And why is that? The truth… it sets us free. (John 8:32)








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