Tag Archives: Jesus

Priorities

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When God is quiet, it forces me to recognize that I so often value:

1. His voice above His promised victory

2. His gifts above His endless grace

3. His safety above His sure salvation

4. His presence above His perfect peace

5. His Provision above His constant presence

6. His marvels above His ceaseless mercy

Is it just me, or have we become a church that prefers the gifts above the Giver? Have we forgotten our first Love and been drawn away by a lust for signs and wonders instead of the steady and wonderful person of Jesus Christ?

May we never tire of who God is. May what He can do for us never be the soul substance of our faith.

Don’t Create Grey Matter

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I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer.  I’m not the “brightest crayon in the coloring box,” if you will. Philosophy 101 pushed the limits of my intellect. Concepts like “chairness,” edged dangerously close to brain melting depth.

I prefer to explore the simpler things; ideas that maintain a very vivid black or white identity.

Grey matter never really did much but confuse and frustrate me. Not because I believe that there is no such space as a “grey area.” Rather I never understood why so much time was spent somewhere that simply had no definitive end.

Instead of focusing on  the question we can not answer, why not focus on the answers we are already have?

For the believer in Christ, we have the answer to so much of what is now debated in society, challenged by culture and being redefined by government. And while we, as Americans, are encouraged to be welcoming, tolerant, and open-minded to those who may hold different values and beliefs, it is the Evangelical Christian Church that is not welcomed, not tolerated, and declared closed-minded and thus, it’s becoming increasingly ostracized for its’ lack of grace and Christ-like love.

This is not meant to be a political post, however politics make for the best example of the point I am trying to make, which is this:

If we, evangelical Christians, bend to any form of pressure outside of the conviction of the Holy Spirit, the “truth” and “answers” that have held so closely to and tried so hard to uphold will become blurred, diluted, and eventually nothing more than “grey matter” that is subject to subjective and personal interpretation and no longer considered perfect, holy, or inherent.

Perhaps maintaining the view that Biblical scripture is God breathed, inspired, perfect and infallible is not a popular opinion. So be it.

Jesus Christ was controversial. His claims were preposterous and provocative. He was thought outlandish, arrogant, intolerant and completely irrational.

Does not it sensibly follow then, that those who claim to be His followers have similar reputations?

The era for being singled out and labeled “one of them” has never been more fertile.

God help me, I choose to be among the few.

He calls to you too.

It’s Too Simple: Evangelism at 35,000 Feet

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I recently returned from a quick trip to Florida. What took me to Florida, you ask?  THE MAN THAT I AM DATING. (This is my first attempt at subliminal messaging… how’d I do?)

*ahem*

But this blog post isn’t about him.

This post is about another guy; the guy I sat next to on my flight home. He was tall, dark, handsome, foreign, and had an accent.

If you don’t know, talking to total strangers does not bother me in the least. Fact of the matter is it gives me a rush. So I began as I normally do.

“You headed home?” I asked.

“Yes,” he replied with a tired sigh. “Twenty-four hours of traveling. I’m ready to be home.”

“Twenty-four hours? That’s quite a trip. Where are you coming from?”

“Morocco,” he said. “My first home, where I was born.”

Now I’m pretty geographically challenged. But believe it or not, I knew where Morocco was and I also knew that in that country, the name Jesus was not spoken in freedom or with joy. Allah is the god they pray to.

So I decided that since we were 35,000 feet in the air with nowhere to go for about 3 hours, I would ask him to tell me about his faith. Outside of the media, which is biased, I didn’t know much about the Muslim faith, their beliefs, convictions, or practices.  And since he sat trapped in the middle seat, I figured I would make the most of the occasion.

“Would you mind telling me what you believe?” I asked.

He looked at me with wide eyes and a slight smile. “You really want to know?” he asked in disbelief. I nodded.

As he unpacked what he believed and why he believed it, it dawned on me that Christians aren’t the only ones that are passionate and faith filled witnesses. Millions of people all over the world don’t believe blindly the way we automatically think they do. They may be compelled by different standards and a false god, but they are convicted and convinced all the same.

I asked him how he got to heaven.

“Well, I have to work very hard to do all the right things and at the end of my life, they must outweigh the bad things I have done. I have to strive for perfection.  And when it’s all over, which way the scale trips determines where I will go and I won’t know that til I’m dead.”

“Interesting,” I said. I took a deep breath and then said, “I believe in another way; a sure way. It’s guaranteed.”

He just looked a me with a skeptical smirk.

So I told him about Jesus and grace. I explained the price for our sin was paid and that eternal life and freedom from death was merely a decision away. Choose to believe and trust the Gospel and life here and after changes forever.

He looked at me, at the head rest in front of him and then back at me.

“It’s too simple.” he said plainly.

That little statement struck a big chord with me. Is that why there are so many dispassionate, stagnate, and diluted people ho-humming along claiming that they know Christ and yet living as if doesn’t affect them? 

Is the simplicity of our faith our stumbling block?  Does its simplicity deter from its depth?

Because truth be told, it’s not simple. It’s actually hard to believe that the God and Creator of the Universe, who knew me before time, would love me so extravagantly so as to send His perfect, holy and blameless Son to die my death, to pay my debt, and make me an heir to His throne. What is simple about such a love?

 It may require less effort our part, but it requires a greater faith, a deeper joy, and more desperate need for grace.

May we never reduce the simplicity of the Christian faith to a morsel good fortune.

To Take Away Our Condemnation

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I read something the other day that I can not get enough of. And for fear of diluting it, I’m just going to copy it straight out of his book, and give it to you untainted. What follow is an excerpt out of John Piper’s book, “The Passion of The Christ.”

The great conclusion to the suffering and death of Christ is this: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ” (Romans 8:1). To be “in Christ” means to be in relationship to Him by faith. Faith in Christ unites us to Christ so that His death becomes our death and His perfection becomes our perfection. Christ becomes our punishment (which we don’t have to bear) and our perfection (which we can not perform).

Faith is no the ground of our acceptable with God. Christ alone is. Faith unites us to Christ so that his righteousness is counted as ours. “We know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ in order to be justified by faith in Christ and no by the works of the law, because by works of the law no one can be justified” (Galatians 2:16). Being “justified by faith” and being “justified in Christ” are parallel terms. We are in Christ by faith, and therefore justified.

When the question is asked, “Who is to condemn?” the answer is assumed. No one! Then the basis is declared: “Christ Jesus is the one who died!” The death of Christ secures our freedom from condemnation. It is as sure that we cannot be condemned as it is sure that Christ died. There is no double jeopardy in God’s court. We will not be condemned twice for the same offenses. Christ has died once for our sins. We will not be condemned for them. Condemnation is gone not because there isn’t any, but because it has already happened.

But what about condemnation by the world? Is that no an answer to the question, “Who is to condemn?” Aren’t Christians condemned by the world?There have been many martyrs. The answer is that no one can condemn us successfully.  Charges can be brought, but none will stick in the end. “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies” (Romans 8:33). It’s the same as when the Bible asks “Who shall separate us from the love of God? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger or sword?” (Romans 8:35). The answer is not that these things don’t happen to Christians. The answer is: “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).

The world will bring condemnation. They may even put their sword behind it. But we know that the highest court has already ruled in our favor. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). No one successfully. If they reject us, He accepts us. If they hate us, He loves us. If they imprison us, He sets our spirits free. If they afflict us, He refines us by the fire. If they kill us, He makes it a passage to paradise. They cannot defeat us. Christ has died. Christ has risen. We are alive in Him. An in him there is no condemnation. We are forgiven, and we are righteous.

“And the righteous are bold as a lion” (Proverbs 28:1).

Chain Reaction

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They say that nothing about the Christian faith can be formulated into an equation. And I would agree.

I do think though, that there is a chain reaction element to this faith.  A chain reaction of beliefs, decisions, and actions that all culminate to ultimately create your reality.  But as you know, chain reactions must be started, there must be something that initiates the need to develop beliefs, make decisions, and eventually act in order to create said reality.

It all starts with theology. Your theology dictates your reality. If you really believed what you said you did, would your life, circumstances, relationships, etc. look any different? Would your reality then, reflect the theology that you claim?

The reason I ask is because I had a challenging and thought-provoking conversation with a friend that is much wiser than me and he made the following statement:

Your faith is strengthened and established by your obedience. Your obedience is compelled by your love for Christ. And your love of Christ is activated when you humbly recognize your deep need for His free grace and accept it wholeheartedly.

It never ceases to amaze me how frequently God takes me back to the basics.

 May we never forget from what we were ransomed and how we were set free.  May our love and obsession with Christ be fed daily and may we walk in it, working it out in our obedience.  And may we be filled with the joy of bold and vibrant faith because we simply believed.

He Has Overcome

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He overcomes our sin with His death.

He overcomes our death with His life.

He overcomes our judgment with His mercy.

He overcomes our consequence with His grace.

He overcomes our betrayal with His faithfulness.

He overcomes our fear with His peace.

He overcomes our insecurities with His identity.

He overcomes our weaknesses with His power.

He overcomes our lies with His truth.

He overcomes our loneliness with His presence.

He overcomes our reasoning with His sovereignty.

He overcomes our doubt with His love.

He overcomes our need with His provision.

He overcomes our suffering with His victory.

He overcomes our blindness with His vision.

He overcomes our silence with His song.

He overcomes our striving with His sympathy.

He overcomes our shame with His righteousness.

He overcomes our bondage with His freedom.

He has overcome our hearts with His heart.

He has ransomed the captive; He has rescued the slave.

He has called us “His delight.”

He has changed us. He has claimed us.

Amen.